Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

The Young Who Teach Us

Jim Zwerg left Madison Wisconsin
To be part of an intensive seminar
In American satyagraha
In Southern viciousness
In the ways power twists the human soul
In the ways the human soul resists power
He was one of the Freedom Riders

One of his fellow riders said
When Zwerg came off the bus at the terminal in Birmingham
The mob that had gathered acted as if it was possessed
“They couldn’t believe there would be a white man who would try to help us”
From a hospital bed
Zwerg said with matter of fact calm
“Segregation must be stopped
It must be broken down
Those of us on the Freedom Ride will continue…
We’re dedicated to this
We’ll take hitting
We’ll take beating
We’re willing to accept death”

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Gatha

Breathing in, I recognize my flawed humanity
Breathing out, I smile

–shared with me by Ale V.

Nothing Special

I don’t aspire to the New York Times op-ed page
Or The New Yorker
I’d be pleased if Eileen Mosher “likes”
One of the free verse mind flows I write to and for her

My CV is one of the least impressive you’ll read
When it comes to professors who’ve been at it for 15 plus years like me
But I’ve had a fun time doing what it is I do
(People ask quizzically, “What do you do?”) Read the rest of this entry »

When We Are Artists

“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever her kind of work may be, she becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature.  She becomes interesting to other people. She disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for a better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, she opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.”

–Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Note to Cami on Reznikoff

I read Reznikoff in summer of 2010
As much as I could find

Used, at Amazon
By him, about him

I like his spare style
That was the year

I was generating a piece a day
For my project that later

Became Dear Layla
So he influenced me

Toward that spareness
Most chapters very short

To the point
Like the one on p. 123

Reading influences writing!

–9.27.2015

 

The Good News of Remembering the Big Picture, 3.26.2017

I randomly pull books off of my shelves and turn to a page to see what’s there. Today I found the following in Dorothee Soelle’s Against the Wind: Memoir of a Radical Christian (she was a German theologian, feminist, and peace activist):

Once, when I was particularly depressed, a friend and pacifist from Holland told me something very beautiful: “The people who worked to build the cathedrals in the Middle Ages never saw them completed. It took two hundred years and more to build them. Some stone-cutter somewhere sculpted a beautiful rose; it was his life’s work, and it was all he ever saw. But he never entered into the completed cathedral. But one day, the cathedral was really there. You must imagine peace the same way.” Those words helped me a lot. It was good to know: I was participating in building a cathedral, and I knew that someday it would be completed, just as slavery was abolished, so war will also be abolished, though beyond my lifetime.

The Good News of a Sangha, 3.25.2017

Five years ago today, Jenn Reyes Lay and I started a  St. Louis sangha in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh.   Annie Fitzgerald offered Sophia House  on Gibson Avenue for our first gathering. Many wonderful people have shared the fruits of their practice with us during these 60 months: sitting, walking, singing, reciting the precepts, slowing down, studying the Heart and Diamond Sutras,  offering retreats  in the country, and facilitating mindful dinners.

As poet Diane di Prima wrote in her poem Life Chant, May it continue!

 

Breakdown Precedes Breakthrough

Graham earned enough to be under the taxable limit
Because he didn’t want to pay for war

He couldn’t say “No” when someone asked
“Would you help us fight back?”

He gave and gave and gave some more
Rarely drank, but smoked like it was the 50s

He said his “career” was resistance
He said he’d been arrested 17 times

His world was often crowds, noise, speed
A friend told him to take a day off

“But the poor and the Muslims can’t take a day off”
And he kept on going Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Natalie Long–Abogados Descalzados: or, How Latin America Taught Me to Be a People’s Lawyer 

From the period of September 2009-January 2012, I was a law student, a law school drop-out, and a pupil of revolutionary Latin America. I eventually finished my law degree and became a licensed attorney…but only after spending time learning at the feet of communities in Mexico and Guatemala, where people taught me what it means to struggle (and to be a lawyer accompanying those in struggle).

It gives me joy to share the stories of the people who welcomed me into their homes and the lessons they taught me. Please join us for an evening of storytelling, reflection, and fellowship.

Join us
Sunday 26 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Natalie begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Marty and Jerry King
830 DeMun Avenue, 3rd Floor
Clayton, MO 63105

 

The Good News of a Single Blueberry, 3.19.2017

Almost five years ago, Erin Szopiak organized a mindful dinner for some of our friends: Everything for the menu had been grown locally, several of us helped prepare the meal in the King’s spacious kitchen, we savored most of the meal in calm silence, and, for dessert, Erin offered each of us a single blueberry, which we were to appreciate slowly, involving our sight, smell, touch, and taste.  Erin invited us to the wonder of the here and now!