Picnic Apocalypse

Prayers echo through the windows.

Like the stoop conversations. Like the birds who chatter at sundown. Like the hip-hop that bounces off of walls. The prayers occupy that space between singing and chanting. These prayers in particular I cannot fully understand. The words twist and float in Arabic. As much as I do understand though, I understand the feeling of a blessing. God is with us. Goddess dances.

I dreamt of a small city up in flames. I sat on the edge. In a forest. I wanted to take a photo of the bright fire through the trees. It appeared magnificent. Brilliant and sad. Infuriating. It encompassed a dynamic spectrum of emotion. An outburst of flames. Death. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Lots of people hung around doing their thing. Mostly unnoticing. I wanted to yell and scream, “Can’t you see? Can’t you see?” But everyone looked unbothered. I walked closer to the flames to gain a better perspective. Without warning, an enormous flooding deluge of water ran ripping towards everyone.

A river tidal wave.

I ran with an urgent jump, climbing a tree to stay above the rush, but I grabbed a branch that bent under my weight. The branch set me back down toward the oncoming water. The top of the white frothy waves caught my feet and floated me to another tree. The water whispered angrily a message of reassurance. I grabbed onto sturdier branches and climbed to safety to the tippy top of the tree.

I gazed at the smoke-filled sky. When I turned the other direction I saw next to the tree a giant Romanesque archway carved into the side of a cliff. More people hung atop the structure drinking wine, eating bread, cheese, and fruit, relaxed, watching the world burn and flood as though it was just another day.

A picnic apocalypse.

I awoke wondering what the heck is wrong with people? But it’s not just other people. It’s reflections of myself. Admittedly, I maintain a strong desire for joy and celebration, especially in the face of IT ALL. But I don’t want to falter into escapism. Nor do I want to sit back comfortably eating popcorn watching societal breakdown like a movie of fiction.

To be real. To raise the spirits high. To keep an ear to the ground.

Like conversations on the stoop. Like birds who chatter at sundown.

Prayers echo through the windows.

Bloodlust

Consider that you are loved.
Even when people don’t know how to show it.
Even when you don’t know how to receive it.
Consider that you are loved.

There is a lot going on in this world. A lot of struggle. People are hurting in all kinds of ways. We all know this. We feel it deeply. In our bones. In our flesh. In our shortness of breath. The panic. We lash out. Bare our teeth. Snap and growl. Especially with those we love. We snarl. Spit. Act nasty. Get ugly. We bottle up our emotions and explode.

We have this tool. The internet. To reveal our happiness. Our scorn. Our absolute disgust. Our love and relationships. We tell little lies and noble truths to garner scraps of attention. We fumble and flop and flounder
biding our time until what?

What is more intimate and revealing than feeling safe to express our darkness, our hatred, our anger? To be listened to in silence. Ears big as elephants. Hearts large as houses. What is more intimate and revealing than the gesture of loving space held?

I spent a small bit of time with an Argentinian writer and anarchist outside of Buenos Aries. We talked about love. Amor y rabia. He disagreed vehemently with the idea that “all you need is love” in no roundabout words he called it shit. People need housing and healthcare. People need time to spend with their families. People need food. You can’t eat love.

I didn’t disagree with him. But our conversation was loud and passionful because we still need love.

We still need love.

We live in greedy times.
The days are eaten up by work.
Why?
Work is eaten up by bosses.
How come?
The vicious cycle plays out from the time we hit the alarm clock to the time we clock out. Labor is stolen. Time is stolen. Where does that leave love? Love is not a currency. Love is not quantifiable.

Still…

Love gets shoved into a box and wrapped as a present to give a few times a year. Love gets a hallmark card scribbled on at the last minute the barcode succinctly ignored. Love gets pushed around yelled at stomped on used like a doormat ripped out of the chest tossed in the gutter and rained on.

I love the rain.

Love gets the brunt of the anger and rage. The hatred swirling in the short breaths taken without acknowledging we are actually living blood pumping hearts stomping out of the chest into the streets to scream at whoever will listen.

Love. We are mourning. We are grieving. We do not always mean what we say. We may believe in the moment the harshness. The fuck you. The curses swelling like waves. But we are a loud cry from those who deserve it.

The rule makers have no peace in their hearts. Only greed.

The greed trickles down
turns us all green
we puke our disgust
onto one another.
We are covered in the anger
meant for another
meant for the collective
to wield as a weapon
to recall times of the guillotine
pulling down figure heads
and holding them up for show.

Consider
Consider that you are loved.
Consider you are powerful
yet humbled.

Consider that you are hurt by a loved one. It is true. We hurt one another. There is no excuse. There is no retribution for unthinkable transgressions. We are forced into situations by circumstances systemic. We cannot become alienated and isolated over minutia. We cannot spurn one another without cold reason. We must take up our chains. We must take up our anger and rage.

We must…

As I finish this poem
I overhear lyrics spoken

“I never had healthcare
just a pistol on the waist
for the people”

It gives me a moment of pause and contemplation.

There’s no denying these times are dire.
The fire burns.
The fire burns.

Consider that you are love.
That you are
another piece of the puzzle.
Without you
the big picture crumbles at the feet of tyrants. Full of greed. Full of unknowing.

We all deserve better. So much better.

The Witch in the Doorway

The sky cast an ugly shade of red on the ground. Normally she enjoyed the sunrise, but this particular blood-red reminded her of the streets piling high with bodies. The blood rose up to her ankles. At least. The blood fed the harshness of tar like rain fed the miracle of plants. The blood covered the buildings. The cars. Her hands. How could she ignore it. It was supposed to be beautiful, but it made her resent the light. Normally she prayed to the sacred ball of fire. Closing her eyes holding her hands at her sides palms facing the heat absorbing the vitamins the light burning her lids awakening the third eye. But today it stung her skin.

Not the usual start to the day. She took it as an odd omen.

She returned home and brewed a pot of coffee. She opened her notebook to a blank page.

The night prior she dreamt of a field swaying with a single type of flower. Chicory. The plant grew four feet high with delicate blooms and green, hardy stalks. She harvested a basketful of the periwinkle flowers. The breeze combed her hair whispering pollen and yeast.

A city sprung up around the field.

It felt romantic. She walked the tiny alleyways. Passing little yards. The fire escapes hung with clotheslines. Graffiti covered the brick. The sidewalks cracked with plants. A slight creek cut its way like a snake transforming the post-industrial roughness with a trickle of peace.

She paid a visit to the house of a witch. It was a reoccurring theme in her dreams. The first time she found the house she awoke with such inspiration she became determined to find the house again. The walls were lined with everything you would expect to find at a witch’s house. Books of ancient musings, glass jars tightly sealed with herbs, potions, oddities. Flowers hanging from the ceilings. A cat purring on the window sill. The sunlight filtering in slowly, gently touching every plant in the house.

She gathered the chicory flowers in exchange for a ritual. The witch did not charge her but she gave them to her anyway as a token of appreciation. The witch placed the flowers in a bowl next to the cat on the window sill. It had taken awhile to convince the crone to perform the spell. Many nights dreaming. Many visits paid. She had never expected to find the old woman again. What were the chances. The subconscious is infinite. But that initial dream made such an impression she had to return.

She laid her hand on the table, palm up, as instructed.

The witch retrieved an old tomb with tattered paper full of signs and symbols and flipped to a particular page. She tapped it with a long fingernail and cleaned a knife while whispering succinctly a strange tongue sanctifying the metal. A spider scurried across the pages of ink.

The witch made the cut quickly. Blood dripped into a cup of dried petals and crushed mushroom caps. The witch instructed her to place a pinch of the mixture on her tongue and the rest was lit on fire. It crackled loudly, surprisingly so, reminiscent of fireworks at a distance. The flame disappeared in a flash with no trace left. The witch dressed the small incision on her palm with dried yarrow and St. John’s wort. It healed instantly. The cut swallowing the flowers transforming into flesh.

She closed her eyes and fell into another dream. But she couldn’t remember anything from that second dream save a cellar door leading to a dark basement. She woke up.

What was the meaning of the dream? Why the basement? Why the blood? How did it connect to the anger she felt upon seeing the blood-red of the sunrise? What was the witch trying to teach her? She had so many questions, but what frustrated her most, it was her own subconscious. She wanted the witch to be real, but she knew better.

She refilled her cup with coffee and began reading the other entries in the journal. Perhaps a clue would arise. A missing piece of the puzzle. After a few unsatisfactory entries, she flipped to the beginning pages of the notebook where she found the entry from that very same day one year ago:

I visited the witch again. This will be the third time. But she keeps repeating the same lines over and over. “Seek the place where the rage is cultivated. There you will learn. There you will hear the strength of your mother, your mother’s mother, and her mother before that. Seek on and on until you awake.” That’s all she says over and over. I don’t understand the message. Mom was never angry. Not that I ever saw. But she grew up in a generation like that. A quiet generation of domesticated women. She had her “wild days” as she described them but then she had children. She grew up. And I never got to know my grandmother let alone her mother before that. I don’t know what to think. I question my own anger, to understand where it comes from. But nothing appears beyond the normal narrative landscape. Misogyny. Men’s entitlement. Rape culture. I could go on and on. Pressures to have children. To be beautiful. Yes. Everyday I am filled with a quiet rage. I guess I hide it out of fear of repercussion. But am I missing something? Is there something deeper? There’s war on brown and black bodies. Both at home and abroad. I am ripped apart daily. The destruction of the land is ever-present. I just don’t know what to do. I do what I can do. How am I supposed to cultivate rage?

She closed the notebook. She had forgotten about those first days of visiting the witch. But now it seemed connected. She remembered another dream. A dream she had only once. A dream she didn’t have time to write down. But it returned to her like a breath of fresh air amidst a midsummer’s heat.

When she fell into the dream, the surrounding city never arose right away. The buildings sprang up after she spent time in a forest, or a meadow, or a river. There was no telling how long it would take. To pass the time she went on hikes, took naps, dipped for a swim, meditated under trees until finally the city appeared. Except once. One time the city didn’t appear.

She fell asleep and entered the dream as usual. She wandered the woods and found a stunning plant. Ghost pipe. A wonderful specimen of life. A plant without chlorophyll so it remained totally white. Because it didn’t produce its own food, it latched onto the mycelium of a mushroom to gain nutrients. The mycelium received nutrients from the roots of a tree. An epi-phenomenon. A dream within a dream. The ghost pipe spoke softly, “Save my spirit, dear one. Save my spirit.” She smiled. The whisper echoed the trees like the wind rustling feathers and leaves. She sat with the plant.

She noticed smoke in the distance so walked in that direction. As she neared, the entire forest looked to be engulfed in flames. She walked closer and soon realized the flames arose from a single cabin surrounded by trees. The cabin remained unaffected despite the violent flicker of flames. She thought it might be an illusion, but the heat pouring from it proved her wrong. The witch appeared in the doorway. Also burning. But like the cabin, not the least affected.

In a very unexplainable moment, her awareness split in two. She saw herself standing outside the cabin & she saw herself within. On the countertop a giant cockroach crawled into a mortar. It disgusted her. Her body shook in revulsion. She found it amusing too. Animated. Cartoonish. She wondered if she could act quickly enough to crush the cockroach, but realized that would be foolish. The splatter of cockroach wasn’t a welcome ingredient. The cockroach perked up its antenna and scurried away.

The witch stared at her, nodding as if reading her thoughts.

“To hold rage close to your heart. To be in the flames but not burned up. To throw heat in the direction you choose. Protect yourself, dear child. The anger you feel is not simply from your present life. It arises from generations and generations. It is a weapon you need to learn how to use.”

Interludes of a Winter Blues

I carry a lot of tension in my gut. My whole life this has been the case. So much so, the majority of times I’ve visited an urgent care, a hospital, or doctor, it has been related to the gut. Thankfully these visits have been far and few between, and none have been terribly life altering.

I sit and meditate. I like to listen to that part of my body. I enjoy hearing and feeling my intestines talk. They make wild noises, like wolves snarling, frothing at the mouth with digestive salivas.

There’s a lot going on in there.

If the heart is the ocean (the veins rivers, creeks, and waterways) and the brain is the cosmos packed in with galaxies and neurons, then the gut is the deep caverns running pathways through the earth filled with nutrients and shit. The gut is like the soil, interlaced with mycelium and nerve endings.

I carry a discomforting hurt: The pain the earth goes through. There are tsunamis in my heart. There are earthquakes in my gut.

I sit and navel gaze. I release the spots where hardness builds up. My guts are soft, strong, and wild. I make sure I ingest non-domesticated foods as often as feasible so digestion is not made lazy by sugars and highly processed foodstuffs.

The complex absorption and expelling of earthly being daily.

Is there meaning in the fact that Artemisias such as wormwood and mugwort both tonify the digestive tract & strengthen dream recall? There is certainly a lot being worked out in the gut we are not totally aware of. Likewise in dreams, we are digesting emotions & experiences via the internal actions of the subconscious.

I carry a lot of shame and guilt in my gut. It tenses up like rocks and impedes the creative rivers of will.

Release.
Real ease.

I dreamt of a city. Walking through, the atmosphere was relaxed yet festive. Carnivalesque. I walked through a park and found so many colorful feathers. Several feathers sized four feet long. “These must be my new wings scattered all about.”

I made love with a woman I just met. Boundaries dissolving like fish wrestling in the ocean. Amorphous like the vortex storms of Jupiter. Volatile and pleasingly beautiful. Folding in on one another like spirals of the starry night. We made love.

I woke up naked and attended a street action. It hardens my body. To feel the lick of fire and rage, a constant in the underbelly, trembling like fault lines.

Some days I’m free from worry. Some days my brow is furrowed.

Praise be the shit. For that is an example of the body speaking, “This, I do not need.” I’m thankful for my guts. Discerning nutrients and nourishment everyday.

Thoughts on War & Voting

I watched part of the “extended debate” on DemocracyNow! with Jill Stein & Amy Goodman. It was pretty good. I liked the way they collaged it together, showing a clip from Hillary & Donald then cutting over to Jill Stein for her two minute response.

Watching the segment really solidified this thought for me: we’re missing & needing the call of third parties in this country. Specifically, restorative justice at home & anti-war sentiment abroad. But so many of us are getting caught in the tabloid culture of Trump. It’s so easy to get lost in the tit for tat. But we could be spending time reading up on the Greens or Libertarians or Vermin Supreme or who’s running for local elections.

Granted, on the large stage, Gary Johnson going blank here & there doesn’t help out. I won’t hold it against him as a person, but as a presidential hopeful, that’s a different story…

And what’s more, he was offered a spot on the extended debate with Jill Stein, but declined. Why? You would think a candidate of his nature would jump at the bit to get on Democracy Now! but I don’t know, maybe MSNBC & Cnn is where he feels comfortable? After all, he is historically a republican.

In any case, I suspect he & Jill could use the practice of a healthy third party debate turned discussion. I think America could use it too. It would bolster the growing interest diverging from the two party system. It would also educate us on different positions, simultaneously, they could work to find common ground. There’s no use having third parties that just fall into the pattern of democrat v republican, this v that, diametrically opposed philosophies.

If we want any chance of seeing new parties rise to the occasion, they actually need to find harmonious space in our consciousness, they actually need to be listened to & understood as thoroughly as we’re able to.

And to be clear, when it comes to this election & future presidency, I’m not looking to sway your vote one way or the other. I’m asking that when you do vote, don’t limit your conversation piece. Please do not just keep one eye on what’s good – & – close the other eye to what’s bad.

Because, for instance, Obama got the Nobel peace prize, but where is the peace? Whether you blame war on him, or Bush, or Hillary, or whoever, the fact of the matter is the US has a history of imperialist military conquest. We remember Vietnam, of course. But how many remember 9/11 in Chile when democratically voted president Allende was disposed of by a CIA-backed coup d’etat? And what about a similar instance in Guatemala? The list goes on. War is, sadly, too often hidden from the general public, or just straight up willfully ignored.

Noam Chomsky has this great analysis of the subversive way propaganda blinds us. He gives the phrase “Support Our Troops” as an example. When asked the question, Do you support the troops? The answer is so often, yes, of course I support the troops. But it masks a bigger question, Do you support the agenda?

$100 million has been set aside for a drone base in Niger. It pales in comparison to the $40 billion package recently given to Israel, but it is an investment in war nonetheless. Rest assured, the powers that be will attempt to sell this as “counterterrorism” for the sake of security. There is a strong likelihood it will wind up looking like Syria & actually spur on terrorism. With the knowledge of the drone base, we have to ask, When the Middle East is so totally devastated & blown out, will the larger sphere of war move to Niger next?

I don’t feign to have any answers, but one thing I do believe, awareness (& the lack thereof) is a powerful tool. It can be the difference between blind oppression and collectively rising.

To use an example from current events, the movement for Black lives & #RestorativeJustice has made its way into many places of conversation. Kaepernick’s protest has helped bring it to new levels of awareness – high school athletes are taking a knee, sports radio & tv are having the discussion too – but with that breach in awareness comes another argument & concern: Disrespect for the military…

And yet again, the question from earlier comes up, Do you support the troops? The answer is so often, yes, of course I support the troops. But it masks the larger question, Do you really support all lives?

People support Donald (among many other ludicrous reasons) because be speaks his mind. He’s a scumbag, but hey, at least he’s honest about it. A lot of people can relate to that. He’s so upfront with his thoughts, and so damn practiced at manipulating the conversation, it doesn’t matter what he says.

Donald is showing us an American personality trait to an extreme degree. That is why so many people love him. That is why so many people hate him. He is the embodiment of doing & saying what you want without a care in the world. He is the poster boy for giving no fucks. So long as he comes out on top, nothing else matters.

People will continue to stand by him, because he is quote-unquote a winner. He wins even when he loses track of his own words and spirals into contradiction. Why? Because he repeats over and over how he is a winner and everyone else is a loser. He doesn’t care what you think. He’ll say whatever he needs to keep himself in the spotlight.

That message is simple enough for people to get behind. Nothing else really matters. Foreign policy doesn’t matter, domestic policy, economic policy, none of that matters. He’s a showman. That’s what matters. The surface presentation. Did he knock down his opponent in whatever way possible? Did he win doing it?

He’s a bully. And that’s what America has been throughout the rest of the world for the past how many years? So, of course, he’s on top of the charts. Especially now, when entertainment value has so much power.

This is the warped reality we live in, where people celebrate violence & domination simply because it is part of the American story. People cling to those values, and are too frightened to shift in consciousness & leave their traditional foundations behind. So many are scared of losing their identity as America being the best. Even if that reality has been crumbling for years and years. They’ll stick to their guns and fight off the changing world until the bitter end.

For this reason, so many are susceptible to Donald’s unapologetic bravado. Look at me, I could be finishing a book I’ve been reading on the soul of shamanism, but no, I’m commenting on Donald. Why? Because it’s like looking into a mirror and seeing a strange bizarro land of America where the narcissism blinds people to any other mode of existence besides that of brute competition to stand out and win at all costs.

I’m fascinated by realities that are not necessarily mine, and continually, I try to disentangle them to understand what is beneath. But, I’m beginning to think there is nothing of depth to uncover, just a soul-sick country looking for a soul-sick leader to give them a sliver of credence for their soul-sick beliefs. This does warrant intricate healing, but to be honest, the answer may as well lie in the shifting of the planets and the lifespan of the stars.

It trips me out to no end.

The fervor & ignorance of this country has been lurking in the shadows for so long. And now it’s in broad daylight, brought forth by a guy whose family name used to be Drumpf. If he becomes president, America will not be great again, it will be the laughing stock of the rest of the world. People will look on in sadness as well. Oh, America, what happened? But that probably won’t matter to most; they’ll just take it as a sign that the world is jealous that dumpy Drumpf is the new president.

What a charade.

America, Cut The Shit

The caricature of the political landscape is so surreal I’m unsure how to fully delve into it.

But for a moment, or a lifetime, let’s play make-believe. We’ll call this episode “The Resurrection of Jesus & Hitler.” It’s brought to you by memes everywhere.

Some would have you believe Bernie is a golden Jew angel sitting on one side of America’s shoulders, and Donald is a little red devil sitting on the other side whispering, like any snake-oil salesman, about all the evils in the world.

Facts, it would appear, no longer matter. Gaining power & prominence is a play at fiction. Who can best win over the imaginations of the public?

Donald is going to make so many deals, because he’s so damn slick and pompous, before we know it, he’s going to slip America out from under our feet and sell the country off to China in exchange for a fat dollar. Because he’s a businessman. Because he gives two fucks about making America great again. Because he’s a businessman.

Bernie’s going to pull a similar trick by whipping the trillion dollar table cloth from beneath the wealthy’s scrumptious meal leaving the place settings magically undisturbed and redistributing it to the working classes. Because he’s reached wizard status. Because he used to read Rimbaud. Because he’s a democratic socialist.

Two old white men battling it out in the psyche of the patriarchy. This’ll be the death of America for sure. The country is due for a heart attack sooner or later, all that ranting and raving is stressing people out. All that white maleness is so damn overbearing, people are having trouble seeing Hillary as a woman.

And recall, black people are in this mix as well, and all of a sudden police and police supporters are literally & figuratively up in arms from sea to shining sea.

The whole fabrication is busting at the seams. And per usual, most people are just sitting back, living their lives saying I’m staying the heck out of this because Fuck Politics.