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wave goes out, wave comes in

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds went out into the world in late March. it felt like a wave moving through me, going out into the world, seeking shore and kin and possibility. in the subsequent almost two months, the wave has been flowing back in, so full of love.

wanted to share some of this with you. i’ve started gathering testimonials from folks on their thoughts as they read it here.

and then there’s the picture thing – people are taking the sweetest selfies with the book and posting them. i’ve been making collages of these pics and more flow in daily, and every day this makes me rest into this book as a work of many many people longing for and practicing being in right relationship with change and the planet and the future. here are the collages so far (and some event highlights):

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y’all are absolutely gorgeous. all love!

so many mothers

there are so many mothers, so many kinds of mothers. we act like they are all one way.

my mother is devout. she wanted the role, it shows in how she listens, shapes us, and how thrilled she is when we shape back.

i know other mothers who can barely breathe in the task. who compete with their children, batter their spirits and deny their own body in iteration.

i know mothers who hold everyone’s children. i know mothers who struggle to hold their own – humble mothers, and mothers who break the spark they’re handed, grind it down with flint in the name of protecting flames from fire.

i know mothers who are the gauntlet their children survive, surpass. the great judgment. i know mothers who prefer their children cowed and complacent, mothers who delegate the miraculous to other gods. mothers who love but do not like. mothers who never battle for the future, who accept the impasse as the end.

i know mothers like me, who hold the fading hands of ghosts, speaking sweet nonsense through the veil: ‘i didn’t deserve you, i didn’t know you were coming for me, my body couldn’t hold you, i dreamed you, i never expected you.’

today, every day, i am grateful for my mother, to whom we, her daughters (and all of our beloveds), are a world she never tires of exploring. grateful to the ferocious and dedicated mothers my sisters and woes have become.

and i am grateful to the mother i walk, who takes the worst of me and still feeds me the sun.

and i am grateful to the mother in me, in all of us – holding nothing perhaps, holding everyone sometimes. never tired of exploring.

admitting we don’t know

as things fall apart, do we have the capacity to sustain humility?

cause we really don’t know the way out of this.

we don’t know whether we’re in a slowly heating pot of water, the frying pan, the fire, the last gasp of a humanoid dinosaur age, the beginning of our liberation, the flashbacks of every apocalyptic movie ever filmed, the birth year of the four horses of the apocalypse, Octavia’s mind, the end of human civilization, a new kind of collective madness, a beautiful awakening, the early stages of the great turning.

certainty may give us comfort, but right now it’s a false solution, an illusion that we put energy into which will not get us where we need to be.

right now, asserting any certainty could actually make us less attentive, and thus less able to connect the emerging patterns of change into right action.

we have used the internet to weave us into the full spectrum of each other’s lives and deaths. now we can see death on facebook. some days it’s all we see, fast deaths of violence or slow deaths of current and future vulnerable populations – the former get us apoplectic, the latter are heavier with our complicity (though we still love to gasp and point all of our fingers at the monsters doing this to us, to us, the vast majority of the country, of the world).

to offer up life, love, pleasure, connection, joy, care and abundance thinking in the face of that dramatic and sensual death/crisis/ruin porn can feel like throwing flowers into a volcano’s hot mouth.

i am not certain we can turn the tide. i am not certain that focusing on vision, pleasure, even emergence, is the right move. it feels right for me, it makes me want to go on and feel excited about my and our existence – some days that is such a balm that it satisfies my deep fear and restlessness.

i would rather spend my miraculous life moving towards life, putting my attention on yes, investing in any and all experiments that make our species more compatible with this planet i love so much.

i offer this here, today, because i see some of y’all flagging in the onslaught of impossible news that has become our reality. not just these last few months, but over the last thirty years of increasing access to each other. we know the cost, now, of any ease we are privileged to access. we know more about who is responsible for our suffering. many of us know this has to change. some of us have visions of what that change can look like, feel like – how to change.

but we don’t know all of the how, not at scale.

humility can let our shoulders drop, can make us more adaptive and flexible, open us to the ideas of our comrades, make us rigorous in radical processes and more accepting of the truth that the outcome is not only a mystery, but so so so much bigger than our work. our work matters at scale, so let’s do our best – with each other, in our communities, with our loved ones and our tax dollars and our hours, do our best.

and also relax in our smallness, our insignificance.

we can only be a force together, we can only be together with trust, we can only trust if we are authentic with each other – and we can only be authentic if we can admit we don’t know our way out of this. let this be a verbal toast to more questions, more collaborative ideation, more doubt, more experimentation, more releasing that which isn’t working, more listening to unlikely voices of leadership, more caring and connecting with each other in ways that will prepare us for whatever is coming.

y’all are the best people to not know with. i’m so grateful for that.

the pleasure dome

my loves

i am so excited to announce that i will be writing a column on pleasure, justice, feminism, race and pop culture for Bitch Magazine – it is called The Pleasure Dome and it will be published every other wednesday.

i see this as a collaborative space to explore and learn about using pleasure towards collective power. let me know what you want to explore!

the first column is up here – enjoy!

liberation

final poem of the month!

write a poem about something that happens again and again

i can only do something small
the ripple still reaches the shore

when we meet you are a stranger
but i knew you, and you become beloved

the days are all too heavy
and then we lift together

we need every thing to be different
so we change, change, and change

i thought this was too shattered
but i am whole, we are whole, this is whole

we seek a way through to heaven
we find we each have our own way

duty (assata)

take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

line: “it is our [[duty]] to fight for our freedom”
assata shakur

i imagine her skin
aging precious years in the sun
small cells full of her
she named the task before us
then tucked herself down in the dirt
across a salt sea

i struggle with obligation
run away from it, dancing
how i love my choices
often making questionable ones
just to say
this is my life, these are my moments

but when i hear her poem
whispered, spoken, sung, screamed
it touches the place of dreams
at the root of me
rearranging my life
to love, to protect, our freedom

two feet

Write a poem using Skeltonic verse. Don’t worry, there are no skeletons involved. Rather, Skeltonic verse gets its name from John Skelton, a fifteenth-century English poet who pioneered the use of short stanzas with irregular meter, but two strong stresses per line (otherwise know as “dipodic” or “two-footed” verse).

do you ever wonder
if that knife of thunder
comes all loud to plunder
your sanity

do you feel so free
when they say you pretty
they say what you can be
pull you under

do you cast your sweet
on the snow white sheet
where your lovers meet
all your desires

can you keep the fire
reaching ever higher
or are you a liar
on two feet

on my tongue

write a poem that explores your sense of taste

a tin cup at my lip,
a copper penny hidden in my cheek
cold water overflowing my mouth
and I’m thirsty
and it’s hot out

a silk scarf coming loose
warm milk in the half light
teeth and nails dragging over
unbroken skin
salty that way

an entire savannah and four legs
the blood of fresh kill
the wind whistling as you dive
dirt and fur
river from the sea

the dew on your tongue
when he’s just behind you
the bliss on your brow when
she steps so near
you only inhale

the moment you cross
the white man’s border
the moment you stand
on your own land
you taste it

detritus

Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? The object or site of study could be anything from a “World’s Best Grandpa” coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone.

today we uncovered a journal bound with twine
we think it belonged to a child of human origin
based on the shape of the scribbled images
and the curious spelling of words that seem to be in the primocommon language

you can view the reports at your leisure
but the object is too fragile to touch

what we noticed may be a clue
from this absent people
the child was frightened
in the place she went to learn
picture after picture shows her
running from tall figures
in blue uniforms
with weapons

it has been hard to find anything on this abundant planet, anything besides bones to account for sentient life
and if this is the where they ended up
perhaps that is for the best –
no species worth its miracles
terrorizes its young

making tomorrow

write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.

the small place
between yesterday and tomorrow
where people who can see futures
whisper to each other
the words to the songs they must sing
to lead the way

the narrow corridor
creaks with every step
people think they can run the path like bulls
but the only way forward is at the pace
of our collective heartbeat
altogether, imperfect, together

the past is turning to dust behind us
we must remember
the future is waiting beyond our anxiety
we must dream
the present is so small
we must fill it with our transformation

(dedicated to michelle, kali, ananda, sha and guppi)