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As the wonderful Richard Söderberg said while he was on the Guldbagge awards, (Swedish Oscars) In order for women to take a step forward, men need to take a step back. It was a wonderful, true and very aware statement from one of Swedens coolest people. I thought about that statement, and about #metoo which he was, of course, referring too when I read this poem written by Syrian born Palestinian and now Stockholm resident poet Ghayath Almadhoun. It’s a beautiful poem of sadness and repentance for his part in the oppression of women everywhere, even in countries in which he has never set foot, in centuries long past and yet to come, for crimes against women he has never seen committed by men he has never met. If we are to grow past this oppression, men everywhere need to stand up and acknowledge their part in it, and take a step back so that women can take that so very important step forward.
 
Confession – Poem by Ghayath Almadhoun
 
You;
women who have trampled grapes
with bare feet
since the beginning of history
who were locked in chastity belts
in Europe
who were burnt to death
in the Middle Ages
who wrote novels
under male pseudonyms
in order to get published
who harvested tea
in Ceylon
who rebuilt Berlin
after the war
who grew the cotton
in Egypt
who covered your bodies with excrement
to avoid rape by French soldiers
in Algeria
virgins
in Cuba
who rolled cigars
on their naked thighs
members of the Black Diamond guerillas
in Liberia
samba dancers
in Brazil
women who have had faces destroyed
by acid
in Afghanistan
my mother …
 
Forgive me.
 
Translation from Swedish: James Blake
Ghayath Almadhoun
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He wasn’t perfect, but who is? The unrelenting commitment he gave to the cause of human rights, and the sacrifices he made for the struggle right up to the ultimate sacrifice, continue to inspire those who fight the corrupt system.

To quote the great poet Kenneth Rexroth from his beautiful poem For Eli Jacobson;

”There are few of us now, soon

There will be none. We were comrades

Together, we believed we

Would see with our own eyes the new

World where man was no longer

Wolf to man, but men and women

Were all brothers and lovers

Together. We will not see it.

We will not see it, none of us.

It is farther off than we thought…”

Rest in peace, perturbed spirit.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/world/americas/che-guevara-death.html

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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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Towards Lhasa

We discussed the smell

Of the monk who set himself on fire,

Shaking our heads in half-disbelief

As our tour guides made dinner.

We camped early along the banks of

The Lhasa River,

The terrain rough-hewed and ragged.

The sunset, intense orange and purple, matching

The orange flames of our campfire matching

Those that ate his flesh.
In Liuwuxiang we waited as our gear dried.

We inquired, with barely a concern,

As to precisely where he burned,

How much further to the spot in Ngawa and

Was the spot worshiped like a shrine?

To forgotten freedom?  Was there

A plaque to commemorate?
No one talked to us about the Why.

Half- hearted questions met with steel eyes.

Such questions are better not asked

Such words carry too much weight

Baggage packed with an official taboo

Burning the tongue before utterance.

 

We discussed the smell of a monk on fire.

His ashes washed away long ago

But the smoke still presents a challenge

The stench of burning flesh

A common pain that may never leave.

 

 

 

Poets note: Most of the self immolation that has occurred in Tibet have been in the Ngawa region, not in Lhasa. Access to Ngawa is forbidden by the Chinese government for most from the west, and internet access has been severely restricted. I chose to use Lhasa in this poem to reinforce these restrictions.

For more information, go to this website; https://www.freetibet.org/about/self-immolation-protests

 

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To say that the situation in Syria is an absolute abomination is an understatement. I do wonder what the future will bring, of course, we all do. What price will the people finally pay? How many more will die? All the obvious questions and those perhaps less obvious. I wonder about a nation that is butchering it’s own without any seeming regard. I worry about the children who can’t go to school, who can’t drink safe water, who can’t,,, well,, it feels so insincere for me to presume what they feel. I can’t begin to understand. This is where poetry comes in. It has a very unique ability to capture the terrible and transfer the image to the conscience of the reader. The cosmic connection of imagery as only poetry can accomplish. This article is one that I found about poetry in Syria. I found it fascinating. Sad, of course, but uplifting that poets can still use their voice. I ask, dear reader, do have a look,, let their poetry reach beyond the bombs of Assad and Putin. Here is the link;

‘Poetry is a witness’ to suffering wrought by Syria’s civil war

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The article below was taken from The New Yorker,  follow this link for more..  Mourning for Whiteness

Mourning for Whiteness

By Toni Morrison

This is a serious project. All immigrants to the United States know (and knew) that if they want to become real, authentic Americans they must reduce their fealty to their native country and regard it as secondary, subordinate, in order to emphasize their whiteness. Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of “Americanness” is color.

Under slave laws, the necessity for color rankings was obvious, but in America today, post-civil-rights legislation, white people’s conviction of their natural superiority is being lost. Rapidly lost. There are “people of color” everywhere, threatening to erase this long-understood definition of America. And what then? Another black President? A predominantly black Senate? Three black Supreme Court Justices? The threat is frightening.

In order to limit the possibility of this untenable change, and restore whiteness to its former status as a marker of national identity, a number of white Americans are sacrificing themselves. They have begun to do things they clearly don’t really want to be doing, and, to do so, they are (1) abandoning their sense of human dignity and (2) risking the appearance of cowardice. Much as they may hate their behavior, and know full well how craven it is, they are willing to kill small children attending Sunday school and slaughter churchgoers who invite a white boy to pray. Embarrassing as the obvious display of cowardice must be, they are willing to set fire to churches, and to start firing in them while the members are at prayer. And, shameful as such demonstrations of weakness are, they are willing to shoot black children in the street.

To keep alive the perception of white superiority, these white Americans tuck their heads under cone-shaped hats and American flags and deny themselves the dignity of face-to-face confrontation, training their guns on the unarmed, the innocent, the scared, on subjects who are running away, exposing their unthreatening backs to bullets. Surely, shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their (better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the frightened would do that. Right?

These sacrifices, made by supposedly tough white men, who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status.

It may be hard to feel pity for the men who are making these bizarre sacrifices in the name of white power and supremacy. Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black people—they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause.

The comfort of being “naturally better than,” of not having to struggle or demand civil treatment, is hard to give up. The confidence that you will not be watched in a department store, that you are the preferred customer in high-end restaurants—these social inflections, belonging to whiteness, are greedily relished.

So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.

On Election Day, how eagerly so many white voters—both the poorly educated and the well educated—embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump. The candidate whose company has been sued by the Justice Department for not renting apartments to black people. The candidate who questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who seemed to condone the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally. The candidate who kept black workers off the floors of his casinos. The candidate who is beloved by David Duke and endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer. In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness” (once again), the family chooses murder.

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Harriet Tubman On The Hilltops Of Heaven

 

Prayed as she tossed stones down

Into the valley of remembrance.

And each she offered with a prayer,

A word of blessing to each name

Written one by one on each stone.

 

To those both named and unnamed,

The mild and the strong,

The wretched and the saints.

To each life ripped away by hatred

Those who empowered

Those who oppressed

Everyone who hid behind walls

Those who stood to be counted

Those who were beaten down.

Those who saw their own death

Written in front of their eyes

On burning crosses

Spread across Mother Earths bosom.

Who saw their children’s souls ascend and

Cried the tears of Virgin Mary.

Those who at the moment of death

Saw their own fate reflected

In the futures of their children.

Those whose lives were filled with fear,

Those who heard unforgotten words of hate

In their dead ears for centuries.

Those who touched the sky,

Those who could barely crawl,

Those killed because they ran,

Those hung from trees,

Those dragged into the earth,

Those whose wounds bled for generations.

Those who believed blindly,

Those who suffered the lies in silence,

And those who knew a lie for a lie

And died trying to teach.

 

When she ran out of stones

Her cry was heard throughout the universe

For there were so many more names than stones

 

 

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