Tag Archives: Violence

America’s Burning

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America’s Burning

Count the faces. Take a tally
of the peaceful protest rally.
Their routine is most well-planned,
masks in place, placards in hand.

Enter police. Down on belly!!!
Enter newscasters for telly.
Teargas in the people’s park.
Truckloads arrive after dark.

Rioting and smashing glass.
Other dark deeds come to pass.
Using protest for excuse
to bring discord and spread abuse.

Violence becomes routine.
Authority a cruel machine.
A whole nation comes to grieve
the loss of what most folks believe.

An orange bigot, Bible raised,
pontificates, posturing, crazed.
A landmark of our country’s pride,
struck by a flash as freedom died.

Has our nation come to this?
This puffed-up, prideful bag of piss?
Shame on a country who listens to
a fool who’s rotten through and through.

Let sane men take the lead  and bring
some sanity to everything.
Equality and fairness reign
under a government more sane.

People stand up. Demand the best.
Do not give up. We cannot rest.
Seize back the country we have sold
to men who only care for gold.

Give succor to the halt and lame.
Do not play the money game
subsidizing rich man’s greed
instead of helping those in need.

Color is just an outer skin
and not a mark of shame or sin.
Use these sad times to make a start
to start to recognize the heart

that unites men from every nation,
every interest, every station.
Save our earth and save mankind.
Restore justice, and make her blind!!

Prompt words today are belly, landmark, grieve, rally and routine. I swore I’d write about something other than the rallies and violence that are tearing at the flesh of the whole world, but impossible to follow these prompt words anywhere except back to the current matters at hand.

Ron Stock’s Resistance Piece

I was very affected by this piece by poet/performance artist Ron Stock when he read it at a La Manzanilla reading earlier this year. Today he sent me the video of the piece, in which he rails against those who make use of religion as an excuse for genocide and prejudice. I want to stress again that I have no issue with those who maintain the true tenets of religion: peace, love, charity and attendance to making things better for others in this world., but in light of the recent attack of the synagogue near San Diego, the suicide bombings against churches in Sri Lanka, and the man who, on his way to church, drove his car into a crowd in Sunnyvale, CA, because he thought he saw people who looked like Muslims, I have to support Ron in railing against those who and have instituted and supported the rash of Holy Wars around our planet.

Teaching Our Kids to be Violent


Teaching Our Kids to Be Violent

I’m in a very busy outside restaurant on the plaza in La Manzanilla, Mexico.  To the front and side of me are two long tables filled with 13 adults, children and teens who seem to be members of the same family.  When I first entered, the littlest girl in the family was sitting on the lap of her auntie or her mom, mugging for “sorta selfies” taken by her mom/auntie who was using some app to horribly distort the photos.  All were laughing uproarously at the monstrous images.

Then the child moved to the end of the table, where someone had removed the long cellophane-plumed toothpicks that had held their sandwiches together. Grabbing two of the toothpicks, she proceeded to jab the pointed end of one of them into the arm of one of the young women at the table. 

Waiting for chastisement, I was sorely disappointed, as what I imagine to be an auntie giggled and then grabbed the other toothpick and jabbed her back. Back and forth they went, all of the adults at the table smiling and laughing as though it was the most adorable little performance in the world.  In time, the child went down the table, jabbing with more enthusiasm each time, moving to the other table where eventually she jabbed so violently that the adult slapped her.  She slapped the adult back and a slapping match ensued.  Everyone watched, smiling, giggling. Such an adorable child! 

She moved away from the slapping match and sneaked up on a more elderly member of the party, approaching her from behind to take a hard jab with the point of the toothpick into the flesh of the woman’s upper arm.  The woman jerked away in surprise, slapping at the arm as though she believed it to be a wasp or bee sting.  This brought great peals of laughter from the other table and the child returned to it to take her bows.  

At no point in this crazy string of behavior did any adult ever censure the child or display any emotion other than enjoyment and approbation. I, on the other hand, was totally horrified.  What they were teaching the child was fairly obvious.  They  were well-dressed and sophisticated-looking, modernly dressed—like city folk come to the beach who didn’t actually want to get sand between their toes.  The voices of the seeming other half of their party at the nearby table were louder than theirs—very loud, in fact, to the point that even some Mexican customers accustomed to the general noise of Mexico were glancing over in surprise. But the table where the child sat seemed more refined–in the level of their voices if not in their surprising acceptance of the increasing violence of the formerly angelic-looking little girl.

Was she the heir to a vast cartel empire? Was this part of her education in ruthlessness? Was their glee at her monstrous appearance on the smart phone just a hint of the monster child they would raise to carry on the family business?  As most scenarios begun in restaurants and other public places, this is a story whose ending I will never know. I leave it to your imagination to come up with an ending for yourself.

But I could not help seeing it as a small metaphor for the violence in films and games and sports entertainment that our kids are submerged in every day.  It seems as though movies and TV are resorting to ever more violent and extreme cruelties to keep our interest. War and murder are not enough. Sadistic twists and torture are called upon to keep the audiences and thereby swell the coffers of production companies and advertisers.

Years ago when violence first reared its ugly head on TV, we were told that it was a fantasy that would have no effect on children, but if we look at the world around us, I think this is an assertion that has been proven to be false. As some in our society grow ever more affluent, we grow increasing more dependent on entertainment to distract us from the reality around us, and part of that reality seems, sadly, to be that we are teaching our kids to be more violent.


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Arms “Race”

Millions of planets go spinning around
out of our sight and making no sound.
Because we don’t see them, are they not there?
And if we do not see them, have we a care
of what lies upon them or what it’s all for?
Is the rest of the universe simply a snore?

We are so taken by the mess of our world
that we keep forgetting that we’re merely curled
like a fist of small planets thoughtlessly cast
into a corner of a system so vast
that we’re barely noticed in the scale of it all.
It is not so important, our spinning blue ball

as we all make it out to be, fussing and feuding,
warring and hating and bombing and shooting.
Like fleas on an elephant, thinking their bite
reveals such a showing of power and might,
our planet could vanish like that, in a puff,
and truly, the world would have planets enough.

Like millions of tiny balls spinning in space,
we’re in no competition. It’s really no race.
It’s nobody’s loss and nobody’s win.
We always return to the place we begin.
So put away guns and machetes and knives
and let’s simply live out our miniature lives.

The prompt word today is “Millions.”




The ceiling fans turn above five women. One holds an almond cookie in her mouth as her hands adjust her notebook and reach for her pen. She moves the rest of the cookie into her mouth with the hand that has finished turning to the correct page, then brushes away the crumbs from the glass table. Another woman sits hunched over a tablet in her lap. She is wearing a black swimsuit and sits on the white canvas cushion of a rattan couch.

A third taps on her computer—a fact that has driven her former sofa neighbor out to the terrace to write––that tapping too distracting. Next door, the crash of chisel on concrete furnishes a counter-tempo to the gentle tapping of the keys. The ocean swells in a continual basso…the notes and words of a plaintive Mexican song straining in over the fence as well. The sparseness of the view––sea dunes, succulent ground cover, crashing ocean and sky–– is augmented by so many sounds that they blend into a cacophony that can be overlooked…or underheard, as the case may be.

I am the fifth woman, and as the other four write about whatever world each is in, their imagined voices fill my thoughts to a point where my own voice is lost. I can only record what I see and hear. It is as though my own imagination has been sucked up by the morning, lost in the profusion of thoughts of others that grow like liana in my mind.

The blades on the fans spin. Tiny upside-down crosses are formed by the bolts that secure the glass globes of the lights below the fans. Like crucifixes the tortured have slipped free from, they stand useless as metaphors but necessary in actuality. All of the crucified have scurried away…survivors of someone else’s bigotry or fears or cruelty.

Some of the survivors climb up the legs of the coffee table and pull themselves onto my computer keys. They jump on keys to say, “We have voices that will not be stilled. We sacrifice that bullies may be overcome. We expect you to resist as we do. Frightening as it is, it is the only way. Life is choice after choice and those choices, if easy, are not worth making.”

I take over. Brush them like crumbs from my keyboard.  I get to choose how profound my life will be, at least on the page, and I don’t want to write about crucifixion, church bombings, the Paris massacre, the San Bernardino shootings. I have six friends who live in San Bernardino. I haven’t checked Facebook. I don’t want to know.

I want my senses filled with tappings and poundings and too-loud strains of music and where the fridge will go in the tiny new sleeping/feeding room I’m having constructed for my dogs. I want another almond cookie, and a sip, two sips of hazelnut coffee. Some of us have to have a happy life. Some need to go on in spite of the slaughter, greed, small-mindedness. We win in this way. Something exists in spite of the horrible chaos some would make of the world.

We win by fighting, but we also win by being. By remaining. By choosing to be happy. The ocean roars and sometimes I must roar, also. But not always.

Note: No, my essay above was not written to the prompt.  I did start a poem on the WordPress  life-line subject of fortune-telling, and I’ll publish it later, but on my way to posting it, I found this snippet written in response to a prompt at the three day women’s writing retreat I went to last week, so I want to publish it, too. (HERE is a link to my poem on the subject of fortune telling.)


In Spite of Our Wishes for All Good

The real world is complex and sometimes none of the choices we have are good ones. If Attila the Hun is coming through, it’s not a matter of being moral. It’s kill or be killed.
                                                                                                                –Theodore Postol

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In Spite of Our Wishes for All Good

It seems for every good in life, there exists an evil.
Tomatoes suffer mildew and cotton has its weevil.
As north has south and light has dark, it seems the world is run
by drought balanced with rainfall and dark replacing sun.

It isn’t how we’d have it if the choice were up to us.
Who wouldn’t rather have the joys of life without the fuss?
But anima and animus and yin and yang are what
seem to keep our lives out of the same old rut.

As much as we might put off death if we had our druthers,
without it there would be no room for more sisters and brothers.
Would that the inevitable could just be delayed,
the game would turn out more like we wish it could be played,

but somehow the world’s demons like Isis and Attila
are the bitter flavors that balance the vanilla.
The words I write are hard to take when evil in this world
is visited on those we love and sadness is unfurled.

We all agree it isn’t fair that one should have good luck
while others suffer pain and sadness, buried in the muck.
Many try to change it but the changes never stay.
Night often cancels out what we’ve achieved by light of day.

The religious live on faith, but others curse the day
that they were born into a world that’s so suffused by gray.
For light and dark are always mixed in varying combinations.
Each day we choose our focus: good or abominations.

Those who focus on the bad confront it for us while
those others of us plant the crops and fix the broken stile.
Some preserve the joys of life while others fight the ills.
Some swallow the honey and the others bitter pills.

In this as well we find that nature provides opposites.
Some farm in the highlands while the others mine the pits.
But all are necessary for the progress of the whole,
for as the world keeps spinning, it functions as a bowl

filled with all the opposites the universe provides––
that force that makes it necessary that we all choose sides
and pull or push to keep the carousel securely spinning.
It would seem that in the good life, there must also be some sinning.

About the Picture:  I just wrote this as a comment to a friend on Facebook who said she liked the picture above.  After I’d posted it I decided others might be interested in the story, so here it is:

  • Since I have a bad reaction to the sun, I get up at 6 and walk on the beach in the dark, then return by the time the sun comes up over the buildings and trees, so there are very few people on the beach when I walk. This stranger I’d passed on the beach a few times came up one of my last days there and pressed a starfish into my hand…small, orange, beautiful and yes, dead. He said he’d had three for me the day before but hadn’t seen me and asked where I was. This from an utter stranger who I guess had noticed me picking things up each day and stowing them in my bag. I still have the starfish. Yes good things happen.

    Actually, I had been frightened when I saw him from far away carrying a machete because a madwoman had attacked my neighbor the day before and I couldn’t see who it was and was afraid it was she…I was getting ready to jump in the ocean and swim out from the shore when I realized it was not a woman but a man with the machete! And felt relief. What a funny juxtaposition of normal fears. And then after all that, he gave me that wonderful and thoughtful gift. This is why I chose this photo to illustrate my poem.

Wicked witch. Today’s Prompt: Wicked Witch–Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

An Antidote to Violence

An Antidote to Violence

One thing that has increasingly contributed to my depression over the past few years is my fear that the world population is becoming addicted to violence. Movies, TV and video games become more and more barbaric in their depiction of cruelty. It is as though mere shootings and stabbings are no longer enough. Writers think up unspeakable types of torture and infuse our favorite movies and TV shows with them. I don’t dare describe the cruelties, the memories of which literally keep me up at night. I can mention some of the shows, though, and if you’ve seen them, you will know the scenes of which I speak.

Homeland, The Bridge, Scandal, Revenge, The Blacklist–all of these are programs that, as excellent as they are, I had to stop watching. The horrors just escalated and escalated to a point where it was torture even hearing the sound effects. (I have always had to close my eyes during scenes of violence. Now I have to plug my ears and hum as well.) Yet there must be many who watch, eyes wide, and wait to see how much more horrible the next torture will be. If this were not true, they wouldn’t be some of the most popular shows on television. And, like their parents, our children have become voyeurs of violence. No wonder they bully and bring guns to school to mow down their own friends.

Recently I saw a training film shown to military personnel who were sent to Japan following WWII. Written by the man whose real name you would not recognize but whom everyone knows as Dr. Seuss (yes, that Dr. Seuss) it showed how the Japanese were schooled and brainwashed in the years leading up to the war to train them to accept violence as a patriotic (and religious) duty. How often has religion been used in this way? The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem (and many other) witch trials and now ISIS are examples that trip easily from my memory, but I’m sure each person reading this could provide more examples.

If hate can be taught, why can we not devise an antidote to it? Art, writing, dance, volunteer activities, choir, music and some sports are all activities that fill minds and hopefully push out the fascination with (and time for) violence. (Unfortunately, wildly popular sports such as football and boxing contribute to the world’s obsession with violence.)

Kids need to be afforded a substitute for what now fills their minds. Is this being furnished? Is anyone creating non-violent video games that can engage young minds as completely as the violent ones do? Are books being written that are as alluring as series of books about werewolves and vampires and zombies where love and sex and romance are bonded to death and violence?

And kids are not the only ones. The 50 Shades of Gray series? What was it about those books (Oh my!) that appealed so universally that they outsold every other book in the history of the written language in Great Britain and are second only to a Harry Potter book world-wide? Is violence so much a part of every one of us that we cannot help but devour these books? What element of them other than the sadism and masochism created the draw?

Jung acquainted us with the different archetypes within us all and world-class villains such as Hitler, General Tojo, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and Pol Pot certainly brought out the dark sides of their legions of followers, but after all of these horrific periods of history, balance was restored. Whether this will be possible now that the weapons have become more cataclysmic in scope, it remains to be seen.

A few years ago, I was astonished to see one of the questions used to measure and define the personalities of members of the social introduction site OkCupid was, “In one respect, wouldn’t a nuclear war be kind of exciting?”. I don’t know the numbers of answerers who answered anything other than “No,” but I guess the very fact that the question was accepted (members were allowed and encouraged to submit their own questions) indicates that there are people in the world who would answer “Yes,” and brings up a further possibility that makes me shudder—that there is a possibility that such a person might someday (if not already) be in possession of the means by which to start such a war.

Impossible?   How possible was it that a good portion of a nation would follow Hitler or Pol Pot or General Tojo? Idi Amin? Saddam Hussein? The fact is that fear drives us to do much that might be against our natural instincts—or at least the natural instincts we choose to follow.

The fact is that we are human, and as humans we do have a complicated goulash of emotions, needs, impulses, compulsions, fears, dreads and instincts. Events and necessity trigger these contrasting sides of us and one very strong instinct in the masses is mob mentality. It may be hard for most who have read this far in this post to believe that they would ever be so led, and it may be true that they would not; but history shows that time and time again, it has happened. The acts of a charismatic leader, supported by henchmen in sufficient numbers, backed up by fear, fueled by prejudices efficiently stirred up, have stained most societies on earth at some time or other.

All of the villains I have named share many common traits, including one you might have noticed. None of them are American! If someone from another country (or a Native American) were to make up a similar list, who from America might be included? Would it be Joseph McCarthy? J. Edgar Hoover? Charles Manson? Custer? Some high mucky muck of the K.K.K? It is harder to see one’s own mob instinct and in the U.S., the examples might be more limited in numbers or occult in practice, but it may be that in our blood lust for vampires, zombies, werewolves and violent computer games–added to our insistence that the right to own any kind of gun from a purse pistol to an assault rifle is a patriotic right if not an obligation—are all components of our own mob instinct.

How is it that ISIS can reach out and recruit followers from our midst? Could it possibly be because we have prepared a path for them? Schooled our young people so thoroughly in the appeal and glamour and blood lust of violence that we have made them easy targets for those who might appeal to such stirred-up instincts?

It is easy to blame every other country in the world for harboring violence, but when will we start to take responsibility for our own? How many countries are viewing the movies and TV shows we produce that spew out violence? How many buy our computer games and books and comic books that all send the same message? Have we, perhaps not knowingly and with no clear-cut agenda, somehow become the world’s instructors in war games and violence? And even if we have the niggling sense that this could perhaps have some gram of truth in it, would we have the bravery to admit it, let alone the intelligence to somehow stem the tide?

In the past few weeks, I have felt such a huge change in mood. I feel energized, excited about planned activities and more rounded out. It think it came about in a larger part from working with kids and young adults in Camp Estrella. That excitement in seeing their enthusiasm and growth has not waned. I am enthusiastic about ongoing and upcoming plans–the dance classes and sugar skull decorating coming up–but I think, also, that people I’ve met in the blogging world have given me such reassurance that there are good people everywhere who want to do right and want positive things for everyone–not just those of their own country or race or religion or sex. The hope for the world lies within people such as you who take the responsibility to foster in your own children and the children of others interests that will lead them away from the violence that is coming at them from so many directions.

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Generation XYZ.” What can you learn from the generation immediately in front of you or the one immediately in back of you

                                                    Generation “Haven’t A Clue!”

I really do not know what name was given to my generation. Someone born into a small town in the forties was more or less protected from being classified into any generation, at least for their first eighteen years.  The mass-education and pasteurization of the internet had not yet happened.  We didn’t have television until I was eleven–when the first transfer station was built in my part of South Dakota.  Even then, the programs were idealized. Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, The Danny Thomas Show , Leave it to Beaver and The Donna Reed Show presented squeaky-clean prototypes of the American family for us to gauge ourselves against.

Drugs had not yet worked their way into the American mainstream.  The first time I even knew about pot was in college, when a few kids of California opened up a network, via the post office, for educating the naive plains states kids about the glories of escaping the pressures of homework, exams and pecking order by escaping on a cloud.  Crystal meth had not yet been invented, nor crack cocaine, nor any of the other drugs that have since given so much of the developed world society a total escape–and in the offing, created huge social problems.

All-in-all, I’m grateful that i was born into the generation I was born into.  Although the world of computers, texting and social networking have reached out and grabbed us, we nonetheless have a memory of a time without–when books were held in the hand and messages were delivered mouth-to-ear with a hand held in front to prevent information leakage.  Today’s world with instant texting with a camera attached is just an invitation for bullying and the sharing of private information and acts that should never have occurred in the first place. Every bully becomes his own broadcasting network and increasingly violent programs on the television and both big and tiny screens have desensitized the world.

Witnessing act after act of violence and cruelty and a world obsessed by “reality” shows makes us numb to reality–as though it is not enough.  We crave sensationalism even as we tsk tsk and shake our heads at it.  I am truly afraid for the generations that continue to be exposed to this widespread compulsion to view each violent act–be it on the news, via YouTube or on the fictional screen of choice.

Screens get ever larger or ever smaller, so they fill the wall in our media room or get lost in our pockets; but whatever the side of our viewing device, our brains slowly fill with depravity that rivals the Colosseum, the gulags or the German concentration camps. This wholesale violence is the real lethal drug unleashed upon our world, and I don’t know a way out of it.  It is no longer of influence primarily in the big cities, for with the advent of the internet, the entire world has become one colossal city.  We know of the most violent act of the flogging of bloggers in the Mideast or the stoning of homosexuals in Iran or raped women in Africa.  We know of senseless and seemingly motiveless mass murders in churches and schools and fast food restaurants, beheadings in Mexico, suicides of bullied teens and murders of children by their mothers–but all of them occur too far away to be influenced by any action we might take.

We know too much about a world where we have no influence, and so all that happens is more hate, disgust and a further drawing away and warlike attitude toward societies that we don’t understand enough to judge.  And so we hate an entire society instead of hating the violent part of that society that, as in our own society, commits the violent acts that we judge the entire society guilty of.

In the meantime, our politicians are drawn ever more into judging their actions according to economic results rather than humanistic or ecological considerations.  So our cars get fancier, our kitchens are turned into little museums of opulence, our TV screens turn into movie screens and our hand held devices fit on our wrists.  Yet we increasingly turn to takeout and what we watch either warps us, disillusions us or totally removes us from a world of performance and action.  Technology has made it possible to wage wars without leaving the control room–to spy with drones and mount combat with missiles.  We find romance by watching staged reality shows, watch others plan their weddings and pick their wedding dresses, watch million dollar staged weddings and then day-to-day reports of the divorce a few months later.

Yes, the world is crazy, and growing crazier with each technological advance.  So you might have surmised that I would not have chosen to have been born at a later date than my 1947 birth.  And in spite of my yearning to be out in the wider world for most of my earlier life, I am not sorry that my explorations began in my twenties.  I saw the world with new eyes–not having seen The Wild Kingdom, The Discovery Channel or any of the other programs that show us idealized views of far off worlds.  All of my shocks of discovery were purely my own and many of the countries I visited were undeveloped.  I took ferries across rivers now bridged, strolled the dirt paths of towns now paved over and filled with tourists.  I lived in countries I knew nothing about before I lived there, formed my opinions according to my own experience. I was naive, uninformed, ignorant and young.  What better way to see the world?

So, long story short, I would not have chosen to be in any generation but my own.  I did not participate in demonstrations until my fifties when I was an expat living in Mexico.  I was not a flower child, didn’t live in a commune or go vegan.  I was too ignorant to protest the Vietnam war until it was over. But neither was I exposed to crystal meth, heroin or crack cocaine. My mode of escape in college was bridge, not texting, and in my youth it was Monopoly, Cops and Robbers and Drop the Handkerchief!  Perhaps it is pure nostalgia that makes me say I prefer my generation to all others, but I don’t think so.  I think it is the realization that I’ve lived in two worlds and appreciate the perspective this gives me.  Perhaps this is true of every generation, but if so, I wonder what horrible future will render the events of this generation a patina of nostalgia.

Unopened Rooms

The Prompt: Brain Power–Let’s assume we do, in fact, use only 10% of our brain. If you could unlock the remaining 90%, what would you do with it?

Unopened Rooms

My working thoughts live in a mansion, restrained to just ten rooms.
When the unused rooms grow cobwebs, they must sweep them out with brooms.
They cannot see their pleasures, for they enter with eyes shut.
Sealed chambers filled with many things, but we do not know what.
It is exhausting just maintaining all these extra spaces.
No wonder that I lose my keys and forget most new faces.

No telling when we’ll let our thoughts roam free in other rooms.
For all these years they’ve been sealed up like dark and unused tombs.
Perhaps we’ll find they’re portals to other times and places.
Perhaps they lead to other worlds in intergalactic spaces.
They might allow a journey into the minds of others.
Would extrasensory perception make us enemies or brothers?

I’m sure the reason that we use small portions of our brain
is because if we knew of them, we’d use them all in vain.
We’d journey through the cosmos to plunder other spheres.
React to them like enemies, guided by our fears.
If there is any entity guiding how things go,
perhaps they recognize that earth’s evolving sort of slow.

Our energies put into things instead of who we are.
Instead of love? Investments. Instead of aid? A car.
If perhaps we aren’t allowed the full use of our brains,
it is because we have not learned to use them for our gains.
How we look’s important. How much it costs the point.
We’re ruining our planet by cluttering up the joint.

Our brains we use for warfare. Weapons we can’t control.
They wind up in a child’s hands or on a grassy knoll.
They’re used for entertainment on a computer screen
in games that build agression. We win by being mean.
Shows they call reality prefabricate each role.
The lowest denominator seems to be their goal.

True, other things are in our mind: poems, music, art,
dance and social functions, a few of them with heart.
So we stage elaborate galas to raise the money for
children who are hungry, adults chewed to the core.
And yet some of us still balk at giving medicine to the ill.
If they are not wealthy, they must chew the bitter pill.

No doctors and no dental care. No succor for the poor.
If they would work, they’d have health care. Complaints are such a bore!
These things we fill our minds with. There’s no need for more brain space.
In the ten percent of brain we use,new thoughts we cannot face.
This E.S.P. is hogwash, and U.F.O’s are fiction.
Even the thought of universal health care causes friction.

For every room within the mind that’s used, there are nine more
filled with mysteries we won’t know until we try the door.
Some enter and return to tell of wonders they have spied.
Yet unenquiring minds respond by saying they have lied.
We’ll never leave these sealed up rooms unless we learn to dream.
Let creative thoughts flow out in an uncensored stream.

To seep beneath closed doors into our mind’s more spacious realms.
Be adventurous voyagers standing at the helms
of ships of mind that sail the wilder seas of consciousness
regardless of the ones who try to censor and to hush.
Turn off the TV sets and games of war and violence.
Let Honey Boo Boo slip back into former innocence.

Lay Kim Kardashian to rest, pull out your skeleton key
that just might let you in to all the rest that you can be.

New World Miracle

The Prompt: An Extreme Tale—“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. When was the last time that sentence accurately described your life?

Note:  For the ninth day in a row, I (along with several other bloggers) have not been able to pingback to the Daily Prompts page.  If you are able to, can you mention this poem in your blog and pingback to me?  WordPress doesn’t seem to be doing anything about this problem, although we’ve written numerous times!  Thanks.

I’ve told the second part of this story in an earlier post.  Now, here is the beginning and the ending.  One day I’ll tell the in-between.

New World Miracle
(Ethiopia, 1973-74)

Black Tiger in safari jacket
you told me
hyenas in the hills
would attack the mule if I tried
to ride alone
from the lowland landing field
to Lalibela.

we had reached
the high plateaus
sheep crying
miles away
shepherds calling
mile on mile.

In this high air
heard from mountaintop
to mountaintop
from valley
lifting to plateaus above
you with Afro out to here
admitted the hyenas were a lie
took my picture
tucked my camera in your pocket
pulled me up
to you
there was no

I was
of the falling sun
the cries of shepherds
your hair
your jacket
your clean mouth
white teeth
black beautiful
tall rest of you.
I had always needed
to feel like this.
Your kiss pulled me in then
to valleys
under valleys
under valleys.
Always something
something else.

We were at the edges
of the world.
We were at its
cracking rims.

And I can believe
in you
on the rifted rock
above the canyons
I can’t imagine
in the valley
deeper in the valley
than the valley floor.

I can’t imagine you
dusted hair
eyes closed by clods
growing trees from your navel
pomegranates from your fingernails.

When you touched me
I grew
then I grew too far.

But nothing
has touched your warm
your brown
your hands
your mouth
where you touched
nothing since
has quite

In your country
where names
are only words
strung together
your name
Andu Alem Tamirat
meaning new world’s miracle.

You could have come with me
to grow invisible in California.
Instead you
died in

how you used to climb
out of my dining room window
to the back yard compound
to pick orange waxy blossoms
from the pomegranate tree—
how you used to
tuck them
in my hair?