Monday, January 16

In the Desert of Words and Sand

What's That You Say?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote with friends using author, Natalie Goldberg's Rules of Writing. One of the group gave this prompt: "If you praise a word, it becomes a poem." We had five minutes to do something and my recent trip to Chloride, AZ, a desert-rat community outside of Las Vegas came to mind. 

by me

Earth to Dust
Only dryness allows this.

Dust to Earth
Only moisture makes this.

Mud to Clay
Only water and sun creates this.

Life Well Lived
Only earth, water, sun, and love does this trick.

Very often, I find that Goldberg's rule to "just write" whether it's crap or not is wise. It reminds me of panning for gold, something I did as a small child in Wickenburg, AZ. Lots of shiney and useless stuff and once in while a piece of "fools gold" or a pretty bit of quartz. Rarely did I shake out real gold, but the time or two that I did find it, kept me going.

Sunday, January 15

The Pursuit of Ugliness

It Can't Help Itself

The Destructive Boll Weevil - Killer of Cotton
The weevil is a persistent mindless digger. It is a traveler looking for a soft resting place before it bores into its young host. It feeds. It probes the tender unformed flower bud with its huge snout, gouging scars where other weevils are born. The young plant so healthy, so longing for life, beginning to bloom, and becoming a fully formed beauty is stunted at best. The flower is consumed and killed most often. It becomes fodder for the weevil world. Where once this living being colored the landscape with vivid green, it has become a sickly grey shadow in this overused wasteland, seething with voracious weevil children. The weevil lives to consume and destroy. It can't help itself.

Sunday, December 11

Winter Is Coming

"The long night is coming, and the dead come with it. No clan can stop them, the free folk can’t stop them, the Night’s Watch can’t stop them and all the southern kings can’t stop them. Only together, all of us, and even then it might not be enough but at least we’ll give the f---ers a fight." — Jon Snow from "A Song of Ice and Fire: A Dance With Dragons"

Saturday, October 8

Horror Show

When Crack Was King

1994 - Mandatory - Three Strikes - Black Brown Reign of Terror

Read Between the Lines

It was a slow day in the elections office. Several volunteers were on the phones calling democrats and independents, urging them to register to vote and to vote for democrats. One volunteer named John wandered into the reception area. He was a good looking, older man with a lovely British accent and he sat in front of my desk munching on potato chips, sipping water. He had just phoned a rabid republican voter for Donald Trump and had suffered some minor verbal abuse. I could feel the confusion and anger radiating from John and got ready for a rant. It came pretty quickly and I was not surprised.

"How can anyone vote for Trump?" he said, and he proceeded to catalog all of Trump's more egregious violations of human decency in recent times. He finally concluded that people voting for Trump were racists and misogynists and the most alarming thing about them is their numbers. We both agreed that no matter how offensive and thuggish Trump was, his base of white supremacists were counting on him to uphold the dominance of white males in America and they do not care how he does it. We agreed that our only hope is to continue working to get Hillary elected. I didn't want to bring up the glaring issue of what will happen to the defeated Trump supporters. We both knew, however, that this election simply shines a harsh light on America's festering wound: racism.

I'm white and I'm old enough to remember traveling through the South as a little girl and being told that I couldn't drink from the "colored" drinking fountain. I don't think I was able to read signs very well then, and hadn't been trained to look for them. I was thirsty. Our family had stopped at a park in a Texas town on the way to our grandmother's house in Buffalo, New York. I saw people drinking and went where the water was and got a drink. Somehow, this was wrong in this strange place. I remember running back to my mother and thinking she was mad at me, but she later said that she was mad at the lady that called me a "nigger lover", and she was concerned about where we could use the toilet, and she was trying to figure out where to get bread and bologna for sandwiches, and she worried about where to get gas for the car.

These basics of human interaction were regimented and regulated and unfathomable to any person not familiar with Southern segregation. My father figured out the gas situation and we left the town in a hurry. All of us had to use the side of the road as a toilet, but anything was better than being in that stifling, threatening place. Apparently, we'd missed the signs in this hell-hole which said "No Colored - No Jews - No Dogs." My parents made it a point to read road signs and avoid towns in this part of America for the rest of the journey. That was the last time our family took the Southern route from the west to the east coast.

Ava DuVernay’s documentary "13TH" explains the roots, branches and leaves of the tree of racism in America. I've experienced only a small fragment of this bile in my lifetime and I can't image the despair depicted in this film. It's a sad, horror show of man's inhumanity to man and a warning that dismissing the message of the "black lives matters" movement, continuing to look the other way while people of color are demonized and exploited, and supporting a punishing prison industrial complex will be our downfall.

What Kind of Times Are These

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

Wednesday, June 22

People Without Water

Walnut Canyon National Monument - Flagstaff, Arizona

Walnut Canyon Island Trail

Sinaqua Cliff Dwellings

Window on an Ancient World

One of 25 Rooms

Signs of Life Along The Canyon Walls

by Faron Sulu, Namingha is his Hopi name

Across I stand and see
Faces of mesa cliffs
Each face has their own song
They sing in turn
Loloma* they sing
Qua-qua* they sing
All is one.

*loloma means good
*qua-qua is male way of saying thank you