Tag Archive for 'charity hicks'

a conversation with the dinosaur at chicago o’hare airport

me: wow.
dinosaur in chicago airport: hey.
me: i feel a little loopy. have a three hour layover here because i missed my flight yesterday…only got a few hours of sleep last night.
dino: what did you do? when you missed the flight?
me: first i was in denial, i thought i could make it against all the odds. then i got really angry, and i snapped on this airline worker.
dino: i see a lot of that.
me: i bet. i felt so good, using all the worst words i know as i stomped away. but then i was just standing there breathing and…gaining perspective.
dino: airports can be good for that. everyone is taking a huge risk together, going up in the air. life is on the line, do you want to fly in a funk?
me: you know i travel so much i don’t really consider that part. sometimes i tune into the magic part of it, like…woah i am in the sky! and i have started meditating on planes.
dino: but it’s just the way you get around. the business travelers, its like any other shuttle. the kids and newcomers still have wonder. travel enough and rage is possible.
me: yeah exactly. but no matter how angry i was, it wasn’t going to get me home. and i thought about how i had missed my flight – it wasn’t that worker’s fault. i made a series of flippant decisions and expected my usual travel magic to get me there.
dino: travel magic? explain this – i mostly stand here.
me: mostly?
dino: long story. travel magic?
me: kind of a series of events of irrational good luck. traffic opens up, i get randomly selected for tsa pre-check, the airport shuttle arrives right when i get to the door, or they had to hold the plane an extra minute for some reason. things just align and i make it.
dino: but not this time?
me: no. and not last time i flew home either. last time i got on the slow train, bumped my head, lost my water bottle.
dino: dang.
me: yeah it was so sad.
dino: what do you do, in lieu of magic?
me: you know….both times ended up being really magical in their own ways. the first time i went to the spa til my next flight. spa castle, highly recommend it.
dino shrugs
me: oh right. so yesterday, after i was angry with that worker, i dropped back into myself, my center, and realized it wasn’t her fault, she was just doing her job. so when i was rebooked i walked back over to her and i told her i was sorry for taking my anger out on her, that it was a bad moment.
dino: what did she say?
me: she said it happens all the time, just let it go. but she teared up, and i teared up. like, we were having a real human moment all of the sudden, not in the prescribed roles of travel power dynamics.
dino: what do you mean?
me: well it’s this weird thing – like in the moment of interaction there is this temporary power that the airline person has over my life and time, but in the long run, i get to leave and go on about my life, not tied to a desk with no windows, finding my zen with miserable people yelling at me when they miss their planes. there’s a balance in there somewhere.
dino: i think i get that. how did you feel after that?
me: light. emotional. like everything was ok.
dino: and was it?
me: well yes. i decided to go back and get more time with my nibblings.
dino: your what?
me: nibblings. the children of my sibling. nephews and nieces, but not gender determining.
dino: i like that.
me: i got it from my friend tanuja – actually she lives here in chicago! maybe you know her?
dino: maybe.

(we watch people for a little while)

me: are you always here?
dino: kind of. i don’t remember being somewhere else in my memories. but observing all of you, i get the feeling i belong to a different time place and sometimes i feel like i’m also there.
me: has anyone told you things about yourself?
dino: yes…but what do they know? i think its all theory, all they know for sure is these bones go together. kids roar at me, as if i can’t talk. they learn that from adults. and yet here i am, thinking, feeling.
me: you’re really quite thoughtful.
dino: thank you. one more question before you go?
me: shoot.
dino: why do you keep missing flights home?
me: good question.
dino: seems like something to understand.
me: this might not be it, but…last year my friend charity died. and then on oct 5 my friend and mentor grace died. they were both really big parts of my detroit experience…and i don’t quite know…like i know they are gone, and the city is so full of them, but it’s full of grief too. and life, moving too fast for my grief. but…when i travel? i feel like they are still there, and it’s just me who’s gone.
dino: i feel that sometimes!
me: say more?
dino: well part of me knows that everyone i ever knew and loved is gone. but sometimes i think i am just doing this thing, being the dinosaur that wows people at this airport. and that one day i will walk out of here, flesh and bone, and walk towards the tallest trees, and they will be there, just waiting for me.
me: does it make you sad?
dino: immensely. it’s sad to outlive your loved ones, whatever that looks like.
me: especially when it’s raining. (points at rain)
dino: well yes. actually this season might be the saddest season.
me: so much loss.
dino: it’s also the most beautiful, from my vantage point. transformation is the most colorful and alive looking season. i don’t know this for sure but i think it’s when we are the closest to each other, this side and that.
me: i like that.
dino: me too.
me: thanks for this talk dinosaur.
dino: thank you for stopping to talk with me. i hope you get home safely. and see your loved ones everywhere.
me: you too dino. you too.

what are you a fight for?

i wrote a story this weekend that brought me joy. actually it brought me creative ecstasy. it came at a time when i have been hurting, for lots of reasons, many of them connected to collective black and brown grief. in that pain, i have had the opportunity to create, and to lean on people, and be leaned on.

all this vulnerability and vision has brought to light a practice i have been in – being a fight FOR, instead of (or in addition to) a fight against.

i most recently heard this way of speaking about things in one of the somatics courses i was student-teaching, like ‘how can we be a fight for each other?’

i kind of got it – to be moving forward and advancing, instead of always on the defensive.

but the longer i sit with it, in deep relationship with family, friends and lovers, the more i see that it is a series of small choices and actions that pile up into that forward motion. and, as always, it all unfolds in nonlinear concurrent layers and levels of transformation.

it requires first and foremost being a fight for myself – what do i long for? what do i know i deserve? what do i need? how am i going to fight for myself?

being in a fight for myself has led me to be honest about what makes me feel happy, strong, like i am realizing my miraculous potential. it has led me deep onto my writing and healing paths, led me to develop emergent strategy in response to non-profit organizational trauma, to reexamine my food practices, to ask for what i am worth, to surround myself with woes.

i’ve also looked at my friendships and relationships, asking myself how can i be a fight for my loved ones? this means not just listening to them, but listening for the truth within them, listening for what they are longing for, for what they know they deserve, for what they need. and showing up with them in that fight for their dignity, life, health, joy, self-realization.

this month was the one year anniversary of my friend charity hicks passing. while revisiting the fierce and glorious energy she walked with, while touching again my grief for her, i learned that juan evans, an incredible black trans organizer i’ve gotten to know and hold over the past couple of years through black organizing and somatics work, had transitioned from this life. both of them are incredible examples of the next level of fighting for – being a fight for our people, for our species.

in early june i witnessed juan in that brave and beautiful fight for himself, his dignity and that of black trans people. juan told us that ‘when we fight, we win’. before she died, charity issued us the guidance to ‘wage love’.

i want to embody the fight for my people with a passion that honors both of these beloveds.

this past weekend as i was writing my story, which is about a black goddess addicted to eating racism, i got to watch from afar as the movement for black lives gathered the most brilliant and fearless black minds in this country together. what i saw and read about was the creation of a black utopian space for collective grieving, remembrance, honoring, celebrating, narrative shifting, dancing, singing, centering…and then protecting each other when cleveland cops encroached on that sacred space. i am, again, so glad to be alive and awake at this moment as black people fight for our dignity to be recognized, our lives to matter.

there is so much to fight against, so many people who want us to cower and shrink, or, when we fight, to fight defensively, in isolation, against each other, to confirm some degrading concept of self, of blackness, that has nothing to do with black people, with evolving in our human purpose.

but it feels like we are realizing that the way to do that is to fortify ourselves so that we can source from our longings, health, love, dreams and visions, from our strength and our connections with each other. at an individual level, i feel like a rolling rock, gathering speed in the direction of freedom. at a collective level, i feel we are becoming a formidable people at a time when nothing less will do.

so when i see you? all i want to know is: what are you a fight for?

sacred places and stardust

There are many sacred places along the journey through grief. One of the them is the body, but I’ll build to that.

Land is precious. Especially land full of trees in the fall, when everything is changing so beautifully. I’ve always loved fall most of all the seasons, the season of my birth and of new beginnings. For much of my life this was the time when I would be landing in a new place, new school, new community. As a child in a military family we often moved in summer, so fall would be a time of seeing who I was in a new place. How would this place and these people receive me, a precocious child who challenged authority, loved approval and wanted to create everything anew?

Land always received me well.

I remember landscapes – German forests, Georgia swamps, a low flat Kansas field between our backyards and the big gates behind which I later learned Leonard Peltier was imprisoned, the dried up riverbeds and magical desert lawns in Texas, the sparse trees held in concrete in Brooklyn, the dirty active water between the Twin Towers and the Statue of Liberty, sky fetish beauty in every direction in the South Pacific, the white sands of Tulum, the lush green hills of rural Japan and the Big Island and Southern Africa. Changing conditions, diverse beauties – it is an outstanding planet. Each of these places are locations of my growth and places where I left part of myself behind, skin shed.

Lately I have been shedding self in a few places.

In Detroit I have been letting go of a certain urgency that permeates crisis, that can make everything feel very important. People ask me how I am responding to the crisis in Detroit, and I want to say: by loving it, very slowly, as it is. It isn’t easy. I am growing a capacity to see a longer arc of time in this city, these communities which are engaged in basic battles, that is, battles over the most basic human needs. I am growing a capacity to be visionary even when there appears to be no time for looking ahead.

In rural Minnesota my unborn little relative is now part of the land, the wind, the dirt, the birch stand and the pond, the trail through the woods, everywhere. I am growing my skill in grieving, my understanding of the importance of impermanence.

I am realizing the humility required to be stardust. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s just the truth. We suffer, we die, we control only how much beauty and joy and laughter we can seek and let in. We are temporary, first and foremost.

This cosmic season has been all about grief and letting go. It feels like there is so much death and transition being pulled forward by these eclipsing or retrograde celestial bodies which don’t know our names but shape our lives. It’s terrifying to realize the insignificance of my impact, my pain, my grief, and my ability to protect those I love. This doesn’t mean don’t try, give, effort, extend. It just means I have to be less attached to everything, be of the world without clinging and grasping.

This is theoretical, right now my knuckles are pale with the grip I have on all the things I want to love forever.

It helps to look at the truth of what I can and can’t protect. I am concluding that I can’t protect anything except my dignity and my capacity to love. And that is a lot, that is worth fighting for, that is a life’s work, against all the odds and expectations and the strong arms of the moon and the playful fuckery of mercury.

What gets me through, always, is space. I meditate as if I am floating in space, the Milky Way somewhere far behind me. I remember that I am just one body of billions, hurtling through space on a body in orbit amongst a trillion gazillion other bodies, much larger, much smaller.

What is random is not personal, even the most beautiful and sacred experiences – it is the whole massive universe that is precious, not me specifically or especially. It is all of existence that is worth the attention of prayer and intention, not my singular and most likely myopic concern. That comforts me, being a fragment of a sacred existence.

Then I can pull all of that scale into my understanding of myself. I am stardust, the baby is stardust, Charity is stardust, Grace is stardust, Sheddy is stardust, Blair is stardust, Papa is stardust, Grandma Brown is stardust, and so on. This is my stardust litany.

What does it mean to be stardust? The sacred place I am longing for is right here, in this body so briefly available to me, accessible through pleasure, chanting, storytelling, healing, dancing and noticing this skin I am in. I am of the celestial whole. When I see my flesh and bones as a source of information, self-love and curiosity become inevitable.

Fragile bones and individual oceans, with memories of stardust spiraling through us – could we be more beautiful? More sacred? More capable of the grief and love required of the living?

Octavia taught us to pray working, to let our work be sacred practice. I am holding these words as my life work continues to challenge me completely, to feed my human curiosity in the face of human terror. I cannot know or understand it all. It hurts my heart, mind and body to pretend I know much of anything.

And, we are stardust. And, each one of us is the sacred place.

water is life (reflection/call to action for detroit)

i feel like sister warrior charity hicks, who has been central in the fight for water rights in detroit and is currently in critical condition after a hit and run accident, is in my dreams sending me poems and anger in my daily meditation on her.

the current state of affairs is this: the u.n. has warned detroit that turning off water to force the poorest residents to pay exorbitant bills is a violation of human rights – you can only turn off water if you can prove that people could pay the bill but are not paying.

learn more about this key moment for all humans that is playing out in detroit. sign the petition crafted by blue planet project, the detroit people’s water board, mi welfare rights and others.

our daughters cannot be thirsty
this whole summer long
dust tongue dance of desperation
blossoming bodies, arid fruit

our sons cannot be parched
long limbs pressing black skin
through the tar sand streets of july
ratchet prayers for rain

our elders should not be anxious
after heavy lives holding all our dreams
now water becomes memory in the dark?
dry begging whispers with no teeth?

our babies cannot be sustained
on ashen breast or mother’s tears
as david checks face goliath bills
they will become our thick sweet rage

we who are human cannot taste
our own bitterness for so long
without becoming the silver spear
that righteous edge cuts out from within us

for now we look naked before you
hands cupped in the heart of
america
needing (begging) only (pleading) for water

but life creates conditions for life
the phoenix may burn, but first she is water
look into our eyes before you upset us
we water warriors, we survive

home, love, vulnerability, life

I wake for words and feelings.
I release them like rescued animals into the wild.
The moon lights up many paths.
I turn back into the warm house of my dreams,
grateful for rituals
and visitations.

i recently heard a date (ish) by when i have to move out of my beautiful detroit apartment. for good reasons, reasons i understand. but it hurts! i love this particular set of rooms, combination of wood, the way the light pours into this wide open space, and how full it is of memories. dance, love, healing and ritual. the first time i saw it was a soulmate moment, i knew it was my home. this space has been my companion through these last five years of my transformation and learning.

i heard the date yesterday and thought, ok! then i woke up last night full of grief. i walked through my house in the sharp moonlight, and just felt feelings, which this house has earned from me, has offered me.

i will land in the right next place, there are many many options available. but first i have to kiss all the corners and gather up myself in here.

hide nothing, withhold nothing. the love you seek wants and needs all of you.

this year i am working with a commitment around authentic, wholistic intimacy. in my somatic study, we pick commitments which feel aspirational, which feel like what we want to embody with our whole lives.

i have a facilitative, coach-like manner. while i appreciate the ways i show up, it can be hard for me to drop out of that bird’s eye/root system view and land in the current moment, in my own feelings.

i’ve contained or controlled a lot of my feelings in the course of my work, tucking them away or transforming them into the energy a group needs. but it can be isolating, to always be holding and never be held. love is a wondrous practice ground for this stepping into the fray, the feelings.

love isn’t something to facilitate, manage, direct. i can’t leave any of myself at the door of love and expect the experiment of it to work. it is magnificent to confess and keep confessing – not for punishment, not to determine right and wrong, but simply because i need to tell my whole truth to survive, to learn who i am in this world at this time, to be part of humans growing.

i also feel this is the major lesson from the elders who are becoming ancestors in droves right now. i feel the changing of the guard. and i notice that i feel most moved by those elder-ancestors who lived with the least compromise. it thrills me to be reminded of maya angelou’s sex work, ruby dee’s experimentation and learning around open marriage.

the more whole our elders and ancestors are, the more whole we have permission to be.

vulnerability is the least obvious path to the life i want, and the most liberating. it transforms the unknown from terror to possibility, evolves my actions from control to complexity.

since sister warrior charity hicks went into the hospital i have been reflecting on her strengths, her magic, the kind of space she occupies. one thing i keep coming back to is the immense vulnerability she regularly shows, publicly. she speaks of ‘getting naked’, of feeling the pain of being in detroit with water shut offs, evictions, winter, gentrification, emergency management and all of it – to be inside of that whirlwind and not grow numb, to keep being a vulnerable human being as an act of strength.

i have been pulling that into my personal life with my beloved, with my friends. vulnerability feels like an understanding of change: i am vulnerable to the changes of life, i know i am not all powerful, i know i can be and am impacted, i can be and am fragile.

but the liberation too – i cannot control the happenings of this multi-layered world, but i can be complex, have history and future and just show up somewhere between the two. i can feel within and through the layers. i can grieve and release. i can and must live.

and another friend reminded me today, i can just BE and not have to DO anything – which is vulnerable. when i am doing, it gives me the false sense of having some control, even if it is only of my dishes and dust. but even in that doing, that myth of my important task, my urgent deadline, my well-laid basically perfect plans – everything could change.

waiting for the bus, everything can change.

i accept my vulnerability.
i accept that there is more unknown than known in my life.
utmost amongst the unknown things is how long i have to BE.

and in fact that is my respite from terror! yes to try and understand it all is terrorizing, we live in a moment of terror for humans and for our home. and yet we can cultivate the good, with our attention, by letting it flow through us and swell between us. without trying to control or change each other, we can be vulnerable to each other. and learn.

then it becomes another radical front – to feel your life, to be honest with your feelings, to offer to each other the truth of where we hurt and what we long for and what brings us joy.

and then the possibilities burst open. i realize at any moment it is possible to just be in the present, which can be beyond good or bad, which can be that tender fleeting extraordinarily precious thing: life.

my talk notes from commonbound: ‘intersecting worlds: the one we’ve got, the one we’re building, the ones we imagine’

i was so thrilled to get the chance to speak today as part of the closing plenary of commonbound, a gathering for the new economy coalition. there were tons of brilliant and inspiring people in one place from many walks of my life. i brought my parents, who live nearby.

the panel was facilitated by NEC’s rachel plattus, who i just got to meet in kentucky with chorus foundation. the other speakers were my friend and teacher gopal dayaneni, with movement generation, and brilliant economist and writer gar alperovitz, both of whom i have referenced here before.

i normally don’t write my talking points out ahead of time, but i have been a little shaken recently by the news of my friend and comrade charity hicks in the hospital after a hit and run. gopal and i spoke to her amazing work and were able to raise $1,730 there for her medical expenses as well as share with people that they could donate to east michigan environmental action in charity’s name. i encourage you to also donate if you haven’t yet.

the event was live streamed and i believe video will be available. here are my notes of what i shared. (apologize for it being half capitalized and half not, it’s a mash-up)

first question: where does this all lead? (i spoke third)

my vision is changing our how, more than seeing clearly our what. i see a how where we are all much more comfortable with change, and with our personal power to change conditions.

some people are comfortable believing – in heaven, in socialism, in someone else’s thinking. that’s never quite worked for me. I learn experientially, I so far am only convinced that change is divine and constant. Octavia Butler, the black science fiction writer quoted to open this plenary, said ‘Belief Initiates and guides action—Or it does nothing.’

In her twelve novels she created case studies for people like me on how to lead inside of change, shaping change. I’ve been calling what I learn from her work emergent strategy. Based in the science of emergence, it’s relational, adaptive, fractal, interdependent, decentralized, transformative. I’m applying it in facilitation and organizational development work.

It unleashes more of the power of each person.

Because some are comfortable deferring the work of vision to others – or being the visionary talkers (i am guilty of being a visionary talker for years! forgive me). I think, and have been gathering proof in sci fi writing workshops with organizers and activists, that we each have important pieces of the whole, so I concentrate my work on the generation of vision, the strengthening of the muscle of looking forward together.

One major emerging lesson: We have to create futures in which everyone doesn’t have to be the same kind of person. That’s the problem with most utopias for me, it’s mono value, a new greener more local monoculture where everyone gardens and plays the lute and no one travels…and I don’t want to go to there!

Compelling futures have to have more justice, yes; and right relationship to planet, yes; but also allow for our growth and innovation. i want an interdependence of lots of kinds of people with lots of belief systems and continued evolution.

Right now we don’t know what’s right so much as we know what’s wrong, and what we’ve tried. And based on how constantly surprised I still am by life at age 35, I suspect that will likely continue to be the case, and hopefully, perpetually resolving these major issues continues to be interesting. My mentor Grace Lee Boggs is still curious on the eve of her 99th birthday, so I’m hopeful.

Nothing that has existed so far was the right way for everyone, but there are pieces out there we can begin to imagine together, this is why Gars writing speaks to me, what’s between capitalism and socialism? Because whatever we build is on the foundations of those economic experiments. This is why Gopal’s work appeals to me – what are the strategies we need to learn, with appropriate fear and wonder, to move our movements into right relationship with the planet? Let’s learn.

i want a future where we are curious, interested, visionary, adaptive.

what do we tolerate in transition? (i spoke second)

in detroit we have been in transition for decades. we are learning about tolerating even recently – a few years ago foundations were investing in us, now they aren’t as much, and it has impact. you know, generally we have to let go of the success that we feel, as individuals and organizations, when capitalism works for us.

Gopal convinced me years ago that we need to have a level of dystopian consideration. Certain climate realities are no longer wild imaginings, they are happening, and they are coming. (Game of Thrones watchers? Winter is here.) Octavia Butler appeals to me because she wanted to prepare us for inevitable consequences of human behavior.

That is the context in which I enter this conversation. i don’t have answers, but i am sitting with These questions:

Change is coming – what do we need to imagine as we prepare for it?

What is compelling about surviving climate change?

What is a just transition economy? What is an economy for the phase of transition from this way of relating to earth and resources, to the way we might relate on a watered earth, or a frozen earth?

How do we prepare not just for suffering, but for sharing and innovation?

How do we resource the locals and still honor our nomadic tendency, our natural migration patterns which we deny by trying to stay in only one place, our global interconnectedness?

How do we prepare the children in our lives to be visionary, and to love nature even when the changes are frightening and incomprehensible? To be abundant when what we consider valuable is shifting from gold to collard greens?

How do we articulate a compelling economic vision to sustain us through the unimaginable, to unite us as things fall apart? How do we experience our beauty and humanity in every condition?

These are the questions that sustain my work. I believe all of you hold answers.

Tell us of your road, your origin story (i spoke first)

my parents are here. they are my origin, as an interracial couple who fell in love in the deep south in the 70s. what they did was considered impossible, that is my roots system, that love makes the impossible possible. and they are still here, still in love.

worked through harm reduction, reducing the harm of drugs and sex. then electoral organizing, reducing the harm in a different way. then ruckus, where i finally felt i could be my full radical self without compromise. all along i was facilitating vision, mediation, strategic development.

I’ve been a facilitator as long as I can remember. Facilitating tons of visioning sessions and seeing a crisis of imagination In our movements. We hone our skills of naming and analyzing the crises, of deconstruction. i learned in school how to DEconstruct – but how do we move beyond our beautiful deconstruction, who teaches us to reconstruct?

How do we cultivate the muscle of radical imagination needed to dream beyond fear together?

what are the possible worlds you are cultivating? (i spoke first)

Octavia’s Brood is an anthology of original science fiction from social justice thinkers. All social justice work is speculative fiction, we are imagining and creating a world we have never experienced. showing black and white people sitting at a lunch counter together was science fiction. slaves having children was speculative fiction. walidah taught me that.

Walidah Imarisha and I have gathered and edited these stories, while also generating workshops and tools to practice our ideas. We run collective sci fi writing sessions, because different stories emerge when we build our worlds together. we need to move from competitive ideation, trying to push our individual ideas, to collective ideation, collaborative ideation. it isn’t about having the number one best idea, but having ideas that come from, and work for, more people.

also when we speak of systemic change, we need to be fractal. fractals, a way to speak of the patterns we see move from the micro to macro level. the same spirals on sea shells can be found in the shape of galaxies. we must create patterns that cycle upwards. we are microsystems (we each hold contradictions – my shellac nails vs desire that no one do the toxic work of nail painting, my family travel vs my desire not to use fossil fuels, etc). our friendships and relationships are systems. our communities are systems. let us practice upwards.

and then – what happens when we succeed, new problems? i was in south africa in january, where politically there was a success, a change, and yet there is a racialized economy going strong there. so, what is next? we need those next stories.

finally, last night i had a dream i want to share – i was in a future where we figured out how to harness the power of rising sea levels into wave pools. at first it was a secret, i was taken down to this basement with a pool where these massive waves were crashing back and forth. it was gorgeous. and i watched as time passed and it became a grocery store around me, which was all powered by the wave pool. and my niece siobhan was like, ‘i’m going surfing while y’all shop!’

i want some designer or scientist to make that happen.

i was asked to bring a closing poem. i called forth the words of two new ancestors:

first, from general baker, the detroit labor organizer and leader who just passed, who said – “you keep asking how do we get the people here? i say, what will we do when they get here?”

the second is a poem from maya angelou. when i first heard it i didn’t really get it, but it feels incredibly relevant here today.

“On the Pulse of Morning

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers- desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours- your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.”

meditation for charity: come go home

Breath come in
Pace of gods
Fill her up to come go home

Beautiful black
‘get naked’ ferocity
Fill her up to come go home

Memories of a D where
Her fight grows roots
Fill her up to come go home

She is of
A darker earth, an up south
And a broader sky

She is of 713,000
Who light candles
In every passage
Shining a singular
Beacon of home
Who sing her name
In sage and circle
Who drum her pulse
Into our palms
Who pray to all
Who’ve heard her weep
Who hold her through
This quiet sleep

Who say in whispers
Shouts and ritual
Come go home now
Come go home
Come on home now
Come go home
Come back home now
Come go
Come go home now
Come back home