the only way is through

the only way is through

during the war
they celebrated the genocide
they made it bright
so we might forget
pretty it up
you could be proud of it
you could feel awe
-full -ful or fool
there’s no escaping that boom

and during the war
some young boys went to war
against those star spangled people
only in the streets
to honor the war
that made this precious land
into a self-loathing nation
birth is a bloody process
you’ll know that someday

the birth of war
comes through a body
that’s the only way into the world
barreling through flesh
never before so opened
there is often a moment
when the body says no
please, not me, i want
to go home

the birth of a nation
comes through a body
standing together in some
circle that feels like home
no matter who is at the door
a nation is a porous body
it can bleed out
be riddled with cancer
say no, please,
i am only a child
and still be punished

each punishment is a war
every single time
there is a victory
a moral high ground
“we would never”
is outdone by the smallest mind
loneliness is dangerous
for evolution
if you want to destroy something
it’s the American way

but something is stirring within me
so massive
i’m not sure i’ll survive it
it bruises against my ribcage
makes me nauseous with longing
has a billion heartbeats
that murmurate in a chorus
you have made it inevitable
as you have made every breath
into war

you have left us only our hearts
with which to craft a survival
you think birth is a war
you think life is a war
and death is a power
you have never understood
it is only life and death
if we don’t learn how we all survive it
some of us can get you through
feet first or fist in the air

birth is a portal
stop fighting to live
forever in the breathless womb
of a mother in danger
let go
push through
feel the terror of expulsion
from the myth of safety
and the fairy tale of forever

rage into this world
we are ready for you
we welcome you into the light
from any cave
where you have hidden
and as long as you have breath
you will never be too late
to claim your place
in this fight

we are earthseed
we are ancestors
we are dreams
we are poets
we are naked
we are changing
we are many
we are love

we are godseed
we are future
we are bleeding
we are dancing
we are gorgeous
we are changed
we are many
we are one

* earthseed, Octavia E Butler
* godseed, Octavia and Alexis Pauline Gumbs
* we are one, the whales via Michaela Harrison

oh great mystery (a prayer to the blue moon on the day of the dead)

oh great mystery (a prayer to the blue moon on the day of the dead)

[read out loud to make into spell, or listen to me read with a lit candle]

oh great mystery
we need your help right now
for we are in an impossible situation
which we must survive

our nation is caught up in conspiracy theories
demons and superiority weaken the mind
and we have so many people who would rather
dominate than do their share of societal labor
how do we break the tie of slavery
oh universe we need your help
help to clear the vision of those who cannot see
the dazzling nature of existence in each being

we have those who have turned from the earth
our only home. our only viable home.
they treat her and all who can produce life as machines
to make without ceasing what they then take without hesitation, gratitude or gentleness
how do we break the tie of slavery
oh universe we need your help
help us honor the places where abundant life blooms
protect the consent and agency and song of earth

there are so many who have felt the explosive power of death in their hands, in their bodies, in their imaginations
they roam amongst us, armed; crash into humans praying with their bodies to be deemed worth protection from our most abusive relationship: our nation
how do we break the tie of slavery
how do we quell the addiction to blood and completion
to power that breaks bones and opens flesh
help us relinquish the pleasure of violence

oh great mystery
oh great change which has a commitment to moving towards life
we struggle with humility and now i see i should have started with my heart on the ground
pulsing against gravity, in supplication
it isn’t that i doubt your resilience
only that i see how you might have concluded that we no longer wish to be a part of your constant changes and the magic of spring, so long have we hibernated in ignorance and isolation
so universe here i want to whisper to you what has been flowing through my veins
i want to live, i want to want to live
i want us to live, i want us to want to live

all who can love the cherry blossom,
the glorious fire of fall,
the three eggs opening to chirping children,
the magnificence of storms,
the electric tapestry of mycelium,
the persistence of the succulent in my winter window
all who can love the song of humpback motherwhales,
the rush of a room full of people telling their favorite memories,
the drum beat of a child gleefully chasing her dreams upstairs, the laughter of humans not performing
all who can love their own perfect bodies after a lifetime of being told they are flawed,
all who can blurt out their heartache before it becomes a weapon,
all who can say yes and no and mean it,
all who fumble at every turn but are still worthy of love and connection and being held and forgiveness and patience and one more chance

universe i, we, surrender to whatever chance you will give us
universe i, we, trust that we cannot know everything about the divine nature of change and how discomfort is what presses us into pearl and bursts us out of seed and shell and cocoon
and perhaps you are helping us to see how tight and breakable our current iteration is
and i am saying and singing that i see it
yes i feel the claustrophobic nature of our current ways of thinking
and i surrender to more, we surrender to more.
we pray that you open the way to us, with us,
the way that seems impossible with all the corruption and closed hearts and systemic denial of miracles
and even, quite frankly, the willful stupidity of reason and emotion

but we small and mighty choose life, choose this life
we choose the struggle of navigating dissonance and finding rhythm
we choose the brick winters and the terror of letting the child walk to school alone and even the nightmares that remind us how much we love sunrise
we pray today for sunrise
we pray today for tomorrow,
we pray for generations beyond terror
we pray today for memory,
for every single person to remember back through their lineage
all the way to when yours was the only voice they knew
guide us all in your way, weave us back into the tapestry,
let us be earthseed
let us be earthseed
let us be earthseed

*thank you Octavia Butler for earthseed, and Lucille Clifton for the reminder to listen to what comes before dawn

earthseed poem


the compass spins around
north becomes south,
becomes simply the horizon
the direction that matters is forward
we conjure from the darkness
a future orientation of the people
moving like firstlight, touching everyone
moving like water
weeping and crashing through mountains
nothing is permanent
“to shape god
shape self”
our destiny is to “take root amongst the stars”.
where do you think earth is?

#earthseed #octaviabutler

dear god-is-change


‘Everything you touch you change
Everything you change changes you
The only everlasting truth is change
God is change’
(Octavia Butler via Lauren Olamina)

Sometimes I need to talk to someone, to express gratitude. Like my grandfather spoke to Jesus all the time.

Octavia said earthseed would never work as a real religion because it isn’t comforting enough. But I find myself faithful, I find earthseed working for me, profoundly. It’s growing in me, a faith in change, in work as a form of prayer, in seeing what is, in shaping what will be.

And I’m noticing I’m in communication all the time, with an ever changing face of god-is-change, often looking like my grandfather, then yemaya, a murmuration, the moon, the vast cold silence of space, Siobhan deciding to do something she knows not to do, Finn understanding a new fact, Mairead pouring her celestial newness into my eyes, a new song moving up into my mouth. I don’t mind this way of experiencing god-is-change, it’s generating a peacefulness inside of me, and a sense of responsibility.

It only worries me when I fill with gratitude and the old training kicks in, to bow my head and fling my voice up the shaft of a pedestal.

If instead I let the gratitude fill me up, I realize stardust and miracles are manifestations of the same thing, detritus from great fire, the gift of the past continuing to move into the future.

And I am that sacred detritus, a gift, a consciousness both constantly changing and utterly unique. Able to believe in the universal threads of everything sacred, because there is a truth running through it; able to tune into nature as our grandest tangible temple.

Dear god-is-change…
I believe. It’s making me aware of each moment, the occasion it is to be alive, the awestriking power of creating the conditions for life versus committing to suffering. Today I will pray to you through my deeds, shaping you and letting myself be shaped. Not because I am guilty or afraid. But because you exist, and I do, and for that I am so grateful.
This gratitude attunes me to the mercurial shifting of each person I interact with today, as we shape each other.
Everything you touch
Everything you change
Is god.

the ocean is coming

{i woke up this morning thinking i want to get the hopi 11th hour prophecy tattooed on me. its long but it feels truer than anything else i have read. well – maybe an earthseed poem too…}

i am going through a phase of researching yemaya non-stop. i think this is because i have picked up a swimming practice, which has reminded me that i am part mermaid. when i was a scuba diver in the south pacific i knew this, but then i got landlocked for a while. whenever i am near the ocean i can go out in it and not be afraid, even though it has many of the things that scare me – darkness, heights, undertow. someone called me yemaya in passing recently, after a swim where i was flipping around in the water and hanging upside down…and it started me down this path – yemaya’s characteristics are lover/producer/creator of life; adorer of children, provider of comfort…these are aspirations i can live with.

this is also relevant because there are other yemaya-women in my life. recently my girl shira, and dream hampton have both brought to my attention that they are mermaids. what i see in other mermaid-women is a spaciousness for many convergent lives and understandings, an ocean of space for the world as it is.

perhaps women like us are just the most recent water doulas/midwives of the True World emerging from the current one…

it’s possible i am moved to say this after spending a few days in DC, which seems the epicenter of a world without flow, the ground zero of joyless bureaucracy, circular disconnected debate, crucial compromise and masking. i know very good people IN dc, even a few real radicals – bless them for holding that line, and even loving that place. i spent the days dashing from one of them to the next and trying to maintain and slip my true self through the walls of business-casual coffee carriers. maybe there’s no residue, or maybe that’s what made me wake up this morning thinking of the words: “there will be a river flowing very fast, and people will be afraid and try to cling to the shore…”

the ideas of a liberated life, of a system aligned with the needs of the planet, of economy based on relationships and people rather than profit and greed, of meaningful survival…these ideas excite me, they are swelling all around me. i think all political work should be tugging us away from the shore of current corporate systems, and towards a post-profit existence.

even, perhaps, a post movement existence. movements entail…containment. two sides, inside and out…that there is content, ideas, people within and then content, ideas, and people without – or opposed to. but the existence i am thinking of – it’s an all-encompassing thing. no person, nothing alive would be outside of it. its LIVING, being fully present to your life and communities, and learning, knowing, how to live the right way.

we have been thinking like lakes and ponds, but now we need to think like oceans – how would yielding to our natural and inevitable interconnectedness help liberate us from current oppressive patterns? and who would be outside of that connection? how much compassion would it take? for yourself, for your family, for every one you meet?

my friend ilyse and i got to catch up yesterday. she says since i moved to detroit i have been going all yoda. but i think i have been going all yemaya – in the small i see the whole.

and i am reflecting on ruckus, and on the us social forum process as well. in the small work, the daily tasks of supporting people desperate for change, i see the whole of humanity – potential and realized, miraculous and mundane. it is only in the attempt to do things really big that i see the fragmentation, as we try to build ideas without building up the community support to hold and implement and grow those ideas together. but in the small puddles and pools across this country, we feel pulled to the ocean too.

the full thought is: the need to be big, fast, is the reason we don’t have movements in the u.s., though there is a lot of movement. and maybe that’s fine. maybe right now we need to be lakes, ponds, tributaries…just flow to each other and sense the ocean is coming.

when in doubt, default to love

my love capacity is massive.

just finished two days of work with the most inspiring girls in the world over at the young women’s empowerment project. literally ended with the room shouting ‘I AM PRICELESS!’

the practice of being with women in a space that is action-oriented, non-judgmental, uplifting, grounding, centering and real is so healing, and it drives home to me how much we long to default to love with each other – instead of suspicion, jealousy, hatred…those are the systems we face, and to face them together means to hold each other, as we are, whole/broken/bent/bruised/scared/strong/hilarious/glamorous/whole.

here’s some of the art from the walls.


this first piece is a poem i couldn’t stop reading – “i want someone to call me beautiful, when they see my shame. i want them to place me on a wall, anyway.” the rawness of that need made me ache; how much of the essence of love is seeing and being seen for your darkest, most shameful, most imperfect self, and called beautiful? who do you love that way? who do you let love you that way? open up.

YWEP art 1

YWEP art 2

i am also in a swirl because my grandfather, who i love and who loves me – across generations, faiths, political differences and life – is in the hospital and i want to go sit by his side and listen more. the moment reminds me that only faith can stand up when grief and crisis enter the room, and i have to remember what my faith is. there’s something in defaulting to love, and something in Earthseed. god is change, change is god. i think now how my life has been touched and shaped by my grandfather, how i have touched and shaped his life, and what a blessing that is. and no matter what happens, no matter how long we have, we will continue to change each other. i have faith in that.

it’s been about 6 months since i moved for love [to detroit, same time zone as cuba, the greening city, the burst of future in a regressing economy, and home], and since then my capacity to default to love has been growing. what i have learned so far about defaulting to love:

– you have to be present and attend to what you are actually feeling/thinking/experiencing…that is the essence of self-love

– once you acknowledge the truth, you can let go of what is irrelevant.

– love lets you see what is distraction, what is ego, and what is learning.

– love lets you move past taking things personally, and begin to see and honor the pain and survival under the surface of your own and others’ behavior.

– love reminds us there is no right or wrong life, or choice.

– love sees the blessing and the lesson, laughs at regret, nods wisely at unintentional acts, and carries only the wisdom forward.

– love is physical, spiritual, social, political, solo, duet, chorus, universal, isolated, natural, technological, chemical…more states than water, all at once.

– we are always capable of love.

i will of course keep you posted as i learn more.

because…i love you.