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Thoughts On Listening To *This Land Is Your Land”

 

I had a dream today, got me thinking,

On the bus on the way home from work,

A dream I’ve had before,

A dream many have probably had

I was on television, talking and singing,

The whole world was a’ watchin’

Woody Guthrie was a’ watchin’

Pete Seeger, he was a ’watchin’

Bruce Springsteen, he was a ’watchin’

And old orange face, Mr. Trump, he was a ’watchin’ too

Kept droppin’ the big TV remote outta his small hands, poor thing,

Anyways, like I said, I was on TV,

Had a guitar in my hands,

Strapped over my favorite flannel shirt,

And my favorite pair of Levis

And my bestest boots. I was a’ wearing all of that

And the song I was gonna sing,

This Land Is Your Land,

Well it weren’t no regular song, sir,

It was, I reckon, one of the most beautiful songs

I ever heard, I was telling people about it,

It was all about this country of ours,

And all its’ natural beauty,

And how it was built for you,

And built for me

And how it was built for him,

And him,

And her

And her

And the preacher

And the doctor

And the lawman

And the bus driver

And the children playing in the schoolyard,

Sir it was built for them too,

It didn’t make no mention of names

Nor what school they went to,

Nor even if they didn’t go to school, well it didn’t mention that neither

Nor what church they go to, who they pray to, iffn they pray at all,

No, sir, not even where they come from,

Not which part of town, not which coast,

Not which country,

Cuz everybody here comes from someplace else in the long run, don’t they?

Iffn ya trace it back far enough, I mean, we all come from immigrants

– Well, almost all of us –

Yes, sir, the song was plain and simple and beautiful, and indeed

This here land was made for you, and me, and him, and him, and her, and her

All to share equally, don’t that sound like a place you wanna live in, sir?

I know I would, if I could find it.

What say we find it together, sir?

 

 

Click the link below to listen to This Land is Your Land – Live by Bruce Springsteen
https://open.spotify.com/track/4MvJlIpDpdZi4sCXvAhrym

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An interesting look at Buddhists doing something one might not expect. Well, okay, maybe doing 2 things one might not expect; Protesting and using social media in ways other than teaching Buddhism or reaching followers. But then, perhaps it’s not as unexpected as one might think on first glance. The issues that are presented by the Trump administration are plentiful indeed, depending on your individual politics. The travel ban, or whatever he might wish to call in on any given day, is obviously the most contested so far. I’m sure that his policies and my own philosophies will clash many times.

Do have a read, dear reader. I hope you find it interesting.

Buddhist teachers, on social media, respond to “Muslim travel ban” (Updated)

 

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1. Your ashes blown eastward

Memories fade like flowers

Phoenix cries at night

 

 

2. We take our final walk

Your ashes mix with the frozen ground

The snow learns your name.

 

David Henry Hass,

Jan. 5, 1928 – Jan. 12, 2017

Missing my father, he died last week and his ashes were spread over his favorite hunting spot without a ceremony, as was his wish.

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I have a new favorite song!! The lyrics are strong but so very correct. We all know, or most of us know, or have met at least one racist in our lives, or someone who is “soft” about racism. They tell you they aren’t, but laugh at racist jokes, maybe even tell them, but they assure you, they “don’t believe this way”. I remember when I lived in NW Portland. I had just repainted and refurnished my flat. I threw a party. A boyfriend of one of my cowokers told me and my guests a racist joke, he made sure he had everyones attention. I was mortified!! I looked him right in the eye and told him that racism is forbidden in my house and my life. I asked him why he would think it was acceptable. We had never met before that night. I apologized to my coworker and tgen told him he needed to leave, immediately. He then said that he “wasn’t that way, but wanted to see my reaction”. I responded; ” Well, now you’ve seen it. I hope you hesitate the next time you want to tell such a crass joke”. 

This is one of the strongest ways to help people realize just how unacceptable racism is. It hits in the head like a baseball bat and we need to stand up with all of our strength against it. The more we make it known PRECISELY how unnacceptable it is, the more uncomfortable it becomes. Education is a strong tool. Use it in positive ways. Use it with strength.  

Here are the lyrics; 
If you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

Be it your sister, be it your brother

Be it your cousin, or your uncle, or your lover

If you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

Be it your best friend, or any other

Is it your husband, or your father, or your mother

Either change their views

Or change your friends

If you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

So if you know a racist who thinks he is your friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

Call yourself my friend

Now is the time to make up your mind

Don’t try to pretend

Be it your sister, be it your brother

Be it your cousin, or your uncle, or your lover

So if you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For our friendship to end

#NowPlaying Racist Friend – P3 Version by Naomi Pilgrim 

https://open.spotify.com/track/72OqDR7ynES3bChfTMNRzW

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With, of course, all due respect to the brilliance of Gil Scot Heron, this time the revolution WILL be televised, send around the world live as a show of solidarity for all our brothers and sisters as they face their own struggle against the forces of facism and oppression, eager to wake to a new dawn where gender, race, sexuality, intellect, looks, nor religion are no longer a factor in determining one’s self-worth nor the individuals contribution to society. The revolution will be televised. It will be sponsored by the prayers of mothers in Aleppo, the fears of children in Gaza, the cries of hungry children of unemployed factory workers in Detroit and Portland, by the pain of migrant workers in the vineyards of California, by the single mother working three jobs to feed her child because some Trump- loving bureaucrat with no heart cut the funding that helped pay her rent while she finished her high school degree, the revolution will be televised the revolution will be televised the revolution will be televised. The revolution will be live!! #NowPlaying the revolution will be televised by Dan Hass https://open.spotify.com/user/danandinger/playlist/4bnyLrSGvNVfBEhNrUDOK0

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I posted this first on Facebook, to share it with my family and those friends who were kind enough to offer words of comfort in the days after my fathers death. I am re-posting it here.

 

I am surprised and forever grateful at all of the warmth and support I have received regarding my fathers death. It truly is empowering to see so many kind words from friends and family both far and near, new and old. I will try to take the time, later, to thank each of you individually but for now, please accept my heartfelt gratitude.

When I grew up, my father and I didn’t have a close relationship. My parents divorced when I was about 6 years old and he and I had some very different concepts as was so usual in the 1960s. I knew that no matter how much I might have wanted things to be different, no matter how much I, in my youthful innocence, blamed myself for their divorce, things were the way they were for reasons that I couldn’t understand, nor change. Sadly, I don’t have a great deal of memories of him from my youth.

I do remember the service station / garage he owned at the time of the divorce. It was up in NW Portland, an area I actually would move to after college. I was in kindergarten and then first grade (ages 5 and 6) and when school was out, I would sometimes go there, to be with him and to have a parent to watch over me, as Mom was also working. I seem to remember it being a Flying A (or Texaco?), station by brand name. I would sit on the long workbench in the garage, where they did the car repairs and look forward to eating the chocolate malted milk balls, called Hercules, that he hid in a drawer. I remember his trucks; he was also a truck driver and was often gone on longer hauls. That had, as I found out later, a damaging effect on my parents’ marriage, and my memories of and relationship with him. It meant that I didn’t see my Dad as much as other kids did theirs. I do remember going to the woods with him, though, as he always loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing, and he passed that love of nature on to us.

Sadly, the divorce was not all smiles and fond farewells. There was more than a little bit of bitterness, due to the circumstances involved. As an insecure, shy 6 year old, I bonded with my mother, who had custody of us, as is typical in a single parent family. I remember hearing some of what was said, or what I thought was said, or what was implied, or what was the creation of either me or my siblings and being fairly well devastated by the whole thing. As I said, I internalized it. Without understanding where these feelings came from, without knowing the reality, despite the best efforts of both parents, sometimes directly or by proxy, and my brother and sisters, I remember being very sad, more sad than angry, although I was angry too, for a very long time and I kept it inside.

Sadly, I don’t know what my father thought of me growing up. He was never the type to express his feelings at all. If you allowed him, he would show his kindness, his humor, but rarely did he talk openly and never about the divorce, not to me. Probably for that reason, he and I grew apart. I more or less decided to go my own way without his support or consent. Through my college years and for many years thereafter, we rarely saw or spoke to each other, and then it was strained and uncomfortable.

I remember one time he had gone into the hospital for surgery, when I was a fully grown adult. I don’t remember the year, but I THINK, I was living in Yakima at the time. My Mother told me to call him at the hospital and talk to him, a request that always brought both tension and resentment to the surface. It was a very short phone call. I remember almost every word. I said I was calling to see how he was and hoped he was resting. He replied “I’m fine, and you don’t need to call anymore. Goodbye” and hung up. I was shattered. What I didn’t realize then was that it was his way of dealing with his own discomfort at being in the hospital. He hated it, as I found out later and felt as if his air of invincibility was compromised. His gruffness was not intended to wound, but was an almost desperate defense against vulnerability. My mom had asked me to call her back and let her know how he was doing. I did. I told her how bloody angry I was and that I didn’t want to call him anymore. And I didn’t for a number of years.

In 2002, I met the woman who would later become my wife and decided to finally get married. The wedding was to be held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day in 2003, at my sisters’ house in the Portland suburbs. It would be small, only family and a very few select friends, invited verbally or by mail or phone. Despite the informal invites, friends and family rsvp:d. Except my father. You usually didn’t know whether he would show up or not. I remember telling Inger that I doubted he would come and wasn’t at all surprised that he didn’t rsvp. He did show, and it started a healing process for us both.

After I moved to Stockholm the next spring, it was harder to keep contact with anyone in my family, of course. I called him a few times a year; each phone call would be a little warmer in tone than the last. Easier, I suspect for us both over time.

In May 2016, I got a phone call from my sister, Della. Dad was very ill and probably would not recover. My brother kindly offered to pay my airfare to Portland and back so that I could be with the family and see my father. He had been extremely ill on the days before I flew in, but was in good form and spirits when we all showed up at his house near the Oregon coast. He had arranged for us to have an oyster fest and had a whole bunch of fresh oysters, beer, salad, all the things you would want (except sunshine). We talked about how things were in Stockholm, how my wife was, she was home, and my job, etc. We talked about his health problems. The others arrived and he was in a great mood. As I left, we shook hands, and I gave him a kiss on the forehead and told him I loved him. I hadn’t said those words to him in I don’t know how long. I called him a few times in the months after, and the conversations were glad, albeit short. He always hated the telephone.

On his birthday this year, Jan. 5th, I called him again, and wished him a happy birthday.

That was the last time I talked to him.

I’m writing this not to be sad, quite the contrary. To be happy that he had the life he had. To be happy that he and I made the peace we made. And to let him know that I love him and will miss him very much. There was a gaping hole that wasn’t filled and it was both of our faults, his and mine. Fortunately it got filled, at least partially, before it was too late. My family and closest friends always tried to tell me to find a way to mend it, that I’d regret if I didn’t. I would, for the most part, shake my head. I’m glad I finally listened.

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I see my father sleeping

The only peace he knows is sleep

Should we wake him?

I see him sleeping

And recall my youthful dreams of him.

All dreams, I suppose, begin in youth.

The young can afford to dream.

Smokestacks become cathedral spires,

Then our aspirations, fueled by the noble half of our nature,

Grow higher, less noble, less precise,

And ultimately, out of reach.

Shall we tease him, throwing stones at his front door

And then run away like children?

Or shall we seek out others,

Who blindly rest, secure in his bosom,

Enticing them to fight our fights against him,

By tempting their fears and prejudices,

Knowing all the while that he will protect us?

But our father sleeps

Wishing to share the dreams

Of the children he has lost

But in his slumber, he cannot protect

Those who die in the streets everyday.

 

I see the other dreams vanishing also,

I see them vanishing on the faces of children who cannot eat,

Of adults who cannot read,

In the despair of a nation that cannot hope

I see America dazed and I don’t know why
I see America sleeping

Weeping, angry, I look upon that which I once called Father

And I see the blissful ignorance that only sleep can provide

A noble, slumbering, drunken giant such as him,

Asleep  on an ashen bed that once was our hopes,

But I cannot forget, I cannot forgive,

And I want to whisper into his good ear the words

“WAKE UP”

I wrote this a number of years ago. I believe it might have been during George Bush “the lessers” administration. I suppose the text more or less speaks for itself as to my intent and thought at the time. But when I read it now, it seems  to be still naive, still wanting America to be something like a Rockwell painting, or in the spirit of Whitman s’ poem “I Hear America Singing” where, to quote the cliffs notes review;

“The poet thinks of America as the “centre of equal daughters, equal sons,” who are “strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable,” and who identify themselves with “Freedom, Law and Love.” He salutes America as the “grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,” who is “chair’d in the adamant of Time.”

This short poem is a reassertion of the poet’s faith in the destiny of the American nation. It demonstrates his love of the masses, his devotion to democracy, and his belief that in responding to the call of a democratic process, America is fulfilling a spiritual need of her people.”  ( Link is here; https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/l/leaves-of-grass/summary-and-analysis-calamus/america)

Perhaps I still saw my homeland with the blinders of white privilege. Perhaps I still hadn’t thought far enough ahead to foresee the possibility that America could ever elect such a nepotist, such a fascist, a racist, and a disgustingly misogynist president. I hadn’t foreseen at that time the divisions that are ripping our nation apart or that such enormous division could even take place in this country with such high ideals to the point where one candidate could ever call the supporters of the other “deplorable”.

I’m not disagreeing with Hillary about that point, to be frank. I was and still am, in total agreement with that perception and was more than a bit disappointed when she apologized for saying it, although I understood completely.

I suppose what makes me sad when i reread this poem now, is that I don’t see America ever getting back to what the founding fathers had in mind.I don’t see our racial divides closing. I don’t see prejudice of any kind dwindling out of our consciousness. I don’t see the poor being fed, the illiterate being taught,I don’t see the immigrants being welcomed and given a new beginning. I don’t see poverty ending. I don’t see the homeless camps in the cities coming down. I remember being so disappointed when I heard a family member saying how much he hated them, how he would get almost violently angry when he drove by them. I don’t see America ever again telling immigrants to “give us your poor, your tired, your hungry” or at least if they did say it, i couldn’t believe in the earnestness of it without being very afraid of what those who have struggled might face upon arrival.What persecution they will face, what  hatred which was once unthinkable but now so commonplace will they face. Sadly, even the handicapped are not immune to ridicule, as the now infamous video clip proves. As Meryl Streep pointed out so well, whether or not it was the “Orangemans” intent to ridicule is secondary to the fact that by doing what he did, it now became acceptable to the rest of his deplorables.Bullying was immediately changed from something we were trying to eliminate to acceptable in one thoughtless moment. He has been shown numerous times publicly inciting his followers to violence against those who disagree with him, He has shown in simple terms the most vile contempt against any who have the courage to point to his many “mistakes of judgement”.

If America is to have any chance of returning to it’s ideals, or should I say finding them for the first time, it cannot sit idly by. It needs all of us to be watchful and alert. It needs all of us to refute and refuse to accept Trumps ideals as our own. It needs idols. It needs statespeople. It needs to find the strength to stand up. It needs, more than ever, to WAKE UP!!

 

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He clicks his tounge behind his teeth
Says it sounds like a cricket

He has no idea what a cricket sounds like

He has yet to hear one

But his radiant smile

And giggle as he starts down the slide

Sun turning his blonde hair white

The gentle wave, just fingers 

As his laughter follows him from the 

Top of the slide

To my arms waiting at the bottom

All wrapped up in a smile better 

Than any Christmas present

I want to tell him I’m his daddy

I want to keep him safe from harm

I want to keep that Christmas present smile

But he can’t see me

He can’t hear me

My voice merely falls lifeless

From my world to his. 

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1.
Where have they gone
The young and the proud?

Will we say their names again?
Will we sing their praises on Sundays in church?
Will their photographs hang in Willies’ barbershop windows
Alongside the heroes of World War 2,
The Norman Rockwell prints
And his autographed photos of Ted Williams and Rocky Marciano?

Will there be a celebration of their sacrifices in the town square
The mayor making a speech and mounting a plaque?
The mothers and sisters and wives crying inconsolably?

Or will their fathers hide their grief in bottles of moonshine
The bitterness growing with every drop
Their mothers asking themselves in secrecy what they’ve done wrong
Sisters feeling unprotected without big brother
Little brothers lacking a role model, what chance do they have?
Will no one waltz in the street when their names are mentioned
Or will they merely turn their grief away?

Who will lead us into the future?
Who will install that first traffic light?
Their photos in the Sunday paper big smiles all around
Where will our smiles come from without our boys as heroes?

There will be no continuity here
A generation is lost
Our sons have been ripped from their future
Johnny will not come marching home again.

Where have you gone, my heroes my heroes,
Why have you left our lives?
Where have you gone, my heroes my heroes,
And what will become of us?

2.
Where have they gone
The young and proud?

Where is Gus?
He who could run like the wind
Down the field to victory on homecoming night

Where is Eddie with the cannon right arm?
He who threw the winning touchdown pass to Gus?

Where is Lawrence?
He who made his grandmother so proud
Her slave life stories were so vivid in his mind
The first one in the family to finish school

Where are Gunvald and Bengt?
The town’s only immigrant sons,
Those two new Sons of the Town who worked so much harder,
Just to fit in,

Where is Tom?
He who always drove too fast
Son of the local sheriff,
Racing in the streets on Saturday nights?

Will their parents mourn their loss?
Will we notice their absence?

Greg, he whose Diner has already closed down,
Crippled after his hip surgery failed, and now
Gus is not there to take his place
Irene, his wife, she who couldn’t deal with the loss
The towns first civilian casualty
Of a war so far away

The 5 and Dime store won’t last long either,
Mr. Nichols, he who is getting older by the day,
Never stands outside the shop door anymore, greeting everyone,
His health is failing and Eddie isn’t coming back to take over
It’s a matter of time now they say.

Pete he who can’t climb the trees anymore to trim them,
Says he’ll have to sell his orchards and land to pay his mortgage
Gunvald and Bengt will be trimming trees only in Pete’s memories

Where have you gone, my heroes my heroes,
Why have you left our lives,
Where have you gone, my heroes my heroes,
And what will become of us?

 

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These poets released their hearts on the world​The ones we knew and lost,

Those punk poets with ADHD and precious fits of anger,

​The ones who tore down the murals on Pine Street

The ones who brought their stolen guitars

​13 years old, playing music in the streets until dawn

​When the police stole them from their sleeping bags

​Handcuffing them into the backseat of their prowlers

​The order of a blowjob or a night in jail

Those romantic poets whose hearts were young and full of anticipation

​The ones not yet broken down by maryjane dreams in

​The back seats of adult theatres

​The quick cum meals swallowed fast and cheap for food money

​The old men with their eyes closed never cared about a name

Those dying poets who were still so very alive and independent

So much more than you and I ever were

​Not haunted by false iconic visions of future fatherly duty and the

​Idiom of an autocratic family life without questions

​Answers answers answers they never wanted and we never knew

Those spoken word poets who sold their souls on the interstate

Spouting their gospels out loud in honkytonks​

From Nashville to Memphis

Living in the back seat of a 55 Ford

​The Guardians of Race beating them in fits of fear and hate

Those crazed poets who raced down the riverbanks without shoes

​Hair flying in the breeze, eyes bulging out of their skulls

​Blanked out on crack screaming at the universe about

Eternal damnation and all the

​Virgins they’d never live to fuck

Those anaemic Goth poets who couldn’t get out of bed before 6pm

​Puking in the hallway, blood surrounding the toilets

​Building supervisors looking the other way in disgust but

​Knowing they’d pay their rent at the end of the month

​When they dropped their jeans

Those interstellar poets who flew to Europe with daddies’ money

​The ones who blew it all in a casino without windows

Losing it on broken promises and

​A thousand and one forgotten explanations

Those intellectual poets who fell to their knees in philosophical orgasms

​Espousing a faith to the almighty Kafka. Trotsky or Camus in

​Coffeehouses filled with clove smoke thick as lies

Clueless fools awaiting verbal ejaculations

​Still debating just what the fuck they meant

 

Does it fucking matter at all?

 

These poets released their hearts on the world

​The ones no one knew

Those hipster poets their pockets filled with Hegel

​The ones who argued that life is a fucked up poem of its own

“Ecstasy is the natural form of live” tattooed across their foreheads as they killed themselves

​In taxis sneaking their poems out of East Berlin in the 1970s

​The last stanzas of the Internationale and top secret words,

Words of revolution slipping out of their consciousness.

Those fashionista poets with the berets,

​Dizzy and Bird and Mingus, oh bop kabala, oh piano riffs of Monk

​Twisting the head around until it falls into the Hudson

​Only to be born again in these lines

.

I too want to be born again in these lines. Oh holy oh holy

Oh Mother of Invention and Creationism dead and dying.

Lying in a supermarket aisle with the scars of unfaithful husbands

Cocks swallowed whole in hasty retreats

Notes in pockets of winter coats left behind hastily and forever regretted

Let me cum on your breasts.

Let me fill your vessels in three quarter time.

Frantic frantic these words cannot give me peace that’s not their intent

These are the poets’ cries, the ones no one hears

Bulldozers running 24/7, poetic cities of metal built and rebuilt on the same stones

Stoned poets running in the Bowery,

Running in Harlem,

Running in Seattle and San Francisco bath houses

Running from gin joint to bop united strip joints to gay bars with big screen tvs

Blasting Eurovision and Berlusconis porn for the masses, but I digress

 

These poets released their hearts on the world

Those shy poets tripping over cobblestones in 60s Stockholm coffeehouses

​Out of focus permanently in every night daydreams of a better world

​Daydreams daydreams life is but a daydream

​Palmes murder ended a countries’ dream but now it’s all life as you want it

​If you want it here it is come and get it

​Swim from the city to the archipelago drown in the icy water all alone

​Your poetic dreams washed up on shores of fascist nations

Those awkward poets hiding in the public library salons built like hospital wards

Leaving notes in Martian, this I’ve seen, that no one can decipher on the large tables while flashing gorgeous legs to the staff

​Security guards keeping a vulture close watch on their every curve

​Rhymes from ancient poets calling, pushing their insanity further and further

​Their poems lost for all time with a jolt of electricity or the push of a needle.

Those poets who burned their blood with ink and notes and bong hits to Mars

​Screeching their poems across the Reed College radio wavelengths

To scholastic pulpits with drug infested dirges raining down on their

Consciousness

​Until Eric has to scream “No more, No more” across the rooftops of hell

​Campus security hoping he takes the leap

His poetry left behind on the stones of campus forever like a scar to the truth.

Those poets who burned their draft cards, chanting allegiance to Ho Chi Minh

​Who refused to follow the dictates of the ruling class,

​Sprawling their refusals across the urinals of the world

​Taking the sacramental piss on the military and thus winning

​The hearts and minds of the universal soldiers of peace

Those poets who set themselves on fire feeding the flames of the suicide contagion

Dying young and holy on the streets of Tibet, on the streets of Tunisia,

The Werther effect burned forever into the minds of rebels and sacrificial lambs as the only answer, orange robes in red flames

  

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