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Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

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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Absolutely beautiful poem about freedom, hope and the anxiety we all succumb to when our world fails us.

TIBET, ACTIVISM AND INFORMATION

Sheng Xue, Prominent Activist For A Free ChinaImage: SFT Canada/Edited @tibettruth

Sheng Xue a respected and renowned activist for human rights and freedom presented recently a poem she composed titled ‘Light Me Up’ dedicated to those brave Tibetans who sacrifice their lives to demand national freedom for Tibet.

I opened my eyes in the morning
The room is dark.
I opened the window to welcome the gentle wind
The sky is dark.
I opened the door to greet the wild wood
The mountain is dark.
My heart opens to embrace freedom,
in a world dark and hard.

I didn’t want much,
to hope the yak in the mountains can freely run.
That the eagle can crown the turqoise sky,
to hear the monks chanting in the temple.
I just want to see His Holiness at least once in my life time.
I keep them as dreams in my heart, I don’t dare to ask.

But there is…

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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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Were you not the Moon

I would stumble in my darkness

A blind man lost on a pointless highway.

Were you not a Sigh

My soul would never draw a breath

I would suffocate and my lungs explode.

Were you not a Rose

My world would never know of beauty,

I would curse that which my eyes cannot see.

Were you not Manna

My body would never know of sustenance

And without nourishment would wither and die.

Were you not Brave

The child in me would fear to venture forth,

Each step more reticent than the one before.

Were you not Magical

The alchemy of our souls

Would fail and my sorrow poison the earth.

Were you not an Aria

This song of praise would never reach my lips.

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A brilliant poem by Margaret Walker, a work of beauty, frustration, grace, sympathy, anger, pain, empowerment, and hope. I recommend everyone read this poem, and then share it with those you love.

 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/11053

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A very insightful article appeared in the New York Times today, written by Ban Ki-Moon, who is as you should all know, the Secretary General of the United Nations. The article deals with, primarily,  the seeming inability for the state of Israel to accept the inevitability of criticism of their apartheid state as well as the urgency for peace.

Be it Mr. Ki-Moon, or Margot Wallström, the Foreign Minister here in Sweden, in my opinion a superb politician and a person with great sense of decency and convictions, who has taken a terrible beating from both the press and Israel, including Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon when they compared Margot Wallström to Count Folke Bernadotte (including a nod to the Swedish diplomat’s assassination in Jerusalem in 1948), noting “the latent anti-Semitism that characterizes her, her arrogance, ignorance and thinking about her Muslim constituents’ interests.”
(read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.700421  

And yet another Israeli newspaper, in an op-ed has declared that Ms. Wallström “deserves assassination, ( an article can be found here:  http://mondoweiss.net/2016/01/adelson-newspaper-suggests-swedish-foreign-minister-deserves-assassination-for-antisemitic-dna

 

Mr. Ki-Moon goes on to explain the need for immediate serious discussions regarding the two state solution, the need for a unification of thought between and including Gaza and Palestinian Authority, and of course, the immediate need for an end to violence in the areas as a whole. I have very high respect for both Mr. Ki-Moon and Ms. Wallström and urge you to inform yourselves and others regarding the status of Israels refusal to see the truth, and the urgency of the need for a solution. As Mr. Ki-Moon points out, quite correctly, it may be getting to late.

The link to the article is here.. http://nyti.ms/201P0OU

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-35311709

Hundreds of writers are taking part in readings in support of the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.

More than 120 events are being held in 44 countries on Thursday as part of a campaign organised by the International Literature Festival Berlin.

It is calling on the US and UK governments to intervene on behalf of Mr Fayadh, who is accused of apostasy.

He denies the charges and claims that another man made false accusations.

Human rights activists also say Mr Fayadh was denied access to a lawyer throughout his detention and trial, in clear violation of Saudi and international law.

‘Unjust and morally repellent’

Mr Fayadh, a 35-year-old poet and art curator who was born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian refugee parents, has been a key figure in taking Saudi contemporary art to a global audience, according to the International Literature Festival Berlin.

Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern gallery in London and a friend of the poet, has described him as “someone who is outspoken and daring”.

Mr Fayadh was arrested in August 2013 following a complaint by a Saudi citizen, who alleged that he was promoting atheism and spreading blasphemous ideas, according to Amnesty International.

He was released the next day, but was rearrested in January 2014 and charged with apostasy because of his supposed questioning of religion and spreading atheist thought through his collection of poetry, Instructions Within, published in 2008.

He was also charged with violating the country’s anti-cyber crime law by taking and storing photos of women on his mobile phone.

In April 2014, the General Court in the city of Abha sentenced Mr Fayadh to four years in prison and 800 lashes for violating the anti-cyber crime law. But it found his repentance in relation to the charge of apostasy to be satisfactory and not requiring further punishment.

However, an appeals court overturned his original sentence and sent the case back to the General Court, which sentenced him to death for apostasy on 17 November.

Mr Fayadh has asserted that the poems are “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee… about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

Irvine Welsh, who will read at the Two Hearted Queen coffee shop in Chicago on Thursday, said he hoped the worldwide reading campaign would put “pressure on governments who espouse democracy and freedom to consider their actions in dealing with [Saudi Arabia]”, according to the Guardian newspaper.

A L Kennedy, who will be attending a reading organised by PEN England at the Mosaic Rooms in west London, said Mr Fayadh’s persecution was “very obviously unjust and morally repellent”.

The Saudi government has not commented publicly on Mr Fayadh’s case.

 

This is a sample of his beautiful, moving poetry, translated by Mona Kareem,

http://monakareem.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/ashraf-fayadhs-disputed-poems-in.html

Ashraf Fayadh’s “Disputed” Poems, in English Translation

1
petroleum is harmless, except for the trace of poverty it leaves behind
on that day, when the faces of those who discover another oil well go dark,
when life is blown into your heart to extract more oil off your soul
for public use..
That.. is.. the promise of oil, a true promise.
the end..
2
it was said: settle there..
but some of you are enemies for all
so leave it now
look up to yourselves from the bottom of the river;
those of you on top should provide some pity for those underneath..
the displaced is helpless,
like blood that no one wants to buy in the oil market!
3
pardon me, forgive me
for not being able to pump more tears for you
for not mumbling your name in nostalgia.
I directed my face at the warmth of your arms
I got no love but you, you alone, and am the first of your seekers.
4
night,
you are inexperienced with Time
lacking rain drops
that could wash away all the remains of your past
and liberate you of what you had called piety..
of that heart.. capable of love,
of play,
and of intersecting with your obscene withdrawal from that flabby religion
from that fake Tanzeel
from gods that had lost their pride..
5
you burp, more than you used to..
as the bars bless their visitors
with recitations and seductive dancers..
accompanied with the DJ
you recite your hallucinations
and speak your praise for these bodies swinging to the verses of exile.
6
he’s got no right to walk however
or to swing however or to cry however.
he’s got no right to open the window of his soul,
to renew his air, his waste, and his tears..
you too tend to forget that you are
a piece of bread
7
on the day of banishment, they stand naked,
while you swim in the rusty pipes of sewage, barefoot..
this could be healthy for the feet
 but not for earth
8
prophets have retired
so do not wait for yours to come to you
and for you,
for you the monitors bring their daily reports
and get their high salaries..
how important money is
for a life of dignity
9
my grandfather stands naked everyday,
without banishment, without divine creation..
I have already been resuscitated without a godly blow in my image.
I am the experience of hell on earth..
earth
is the hell prepared for refugees.
10
your mute blood will not speak up
as long as you pride yourself in death
as long as you keep announcing -secretly- that you have put your soul
at the hands of those who do not know much..
losing your soul will cost time,
much longer than what it takes to calm
your eyes that have cried tears of oil
* These poems appeared in Fayadh’s poetry collection Instructions Within which was published by the Beirut-based Dar al-Farabi in 2008 and later banned from distribution in Saudi Arabia.
Translated by: Mona Kareem

For information on what you can do to help with his release, go to Amnesty International at this address..

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/free-ashraf-fayadh-saudi-arabia-palestinian-poetry-apostasy-execution

 

I highly recommend reading this gifted poet, and of course, signing Amnesty’s petition for his release.

 

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