donkey

It is an honor to be with you today. I am intimidated by the talent and sheer will power represented here to increase the peace. You are doing God’s work, but in many ways, peace is a job for human beings. We are the violent ones. We are the conflicted ones.

And, to be clear, there is no peace without conflict.

Peace is not the absence of conflict so much as it is the absence of violence: absence of physical violence, absence of psychological violence, of emotional and spiritual violence.

But conflict? That is essential to peace.

The conflict I am talking about is the struggle for all of those things people need in order to have a decent life.

Things like healthy food and clean water and breathable air. Things like shelter and personal security. Then there is family and community, we need those for survival, too. And creative artistic expression of all kinds is essential to our lives as well.

When faced with a threat to any one of these basic needs, tension rises, with stress, fear, anger and confusion all mixed together, and suddenly our minds are racing for solutions.

The easiest and quickest solution is violence. Take what we want and the hell with it. Live first, and let God sort out the consequences.

It is so much more difficult to negotiate our way through a high-pressure moment, no doubt. It is risky. It takes patience, it takes time and a willingness to understand the other person’s point of view, and it requires that we stay focused on solving the immediate problem so that violence is avoided.

Yet, the easy, violent route leads to a rough road which is hard to travel. Systems based on threat are high-maintenance and expensive.

In America, we work for a living under the threat of being fired. School children try to learn under the threat of failing a test. African Americans, Latinos and other human beings marginalized by the system walk the streets under threat of arrest or even death.

However, when conflict is negotiated and threat is put in its place, those same systems become user-friendly. For example, an employee who shows up for work just to keep from getting fired is going to do a mediocre job at best. But give that same employee a sense of inclusion in the company, a living wage and some respect, and you have a motivated person doing quality work. Students who are taught how to learn and why they are learning instead of being taught how to pass a test, those students become active learners because someone has done the very difficult work of communicating and negotiating with the students, listening to the students, and working to get to where learning is the goal and test-taking is just a tool, and the threat of failing is no longer the reason for being in class. And law enforcement officials who sincerely live the code of “Protect and Serve” for everyone equally? They create safe, cooperative neighborhoods where people can come and go without fear, and where the police themselves feel safe walking those same streets.

The peace of government should be negotiated in the conflict arena of public opinion. When a democracy is functioning properly, the politicians truly work for the people. That is not and has never really been the case in America. But in many ways our dysfunctional government today is the people’s fault, the people’s responsibility. During the last presidential election in 2012, only 6 of every 10 registered voters bothered to vote. And last year’s national elections? Only a few more than 3 of every 10 registered voters in America spoke out. No wonder the politicians do not care about the needs of the general population. Political campaign money comes from the wealthy one percent. The rich have the politicians’ attention. We the people who are in need of good roads, health care, quality education, and a truly just justice system are not even showing up to vote. Why would the politicians concern themselves with us?

Still, pause for a moment and imagine if voters did get involved in the political conflict like you have gotten involved here today. Imagine if 9 out of 10 registered voters voted. No matter how much money was poured into the election, the voice of the people would still be heard. If 9 out of 10 people voted, politicians would see their bosses everywhere they went: in the stores, in the streets, in the schools, everywhere. And if the people demanded health care that worked, they would get it. If the people demanded schools that served all children equally, the politicians would allocate our tax money toward education. If the people wanted accountability in the justice system, there would either be accountability in the system or there would be accountability in the next election. Our vote is an act of conflict to increase the peace. The voting booth is where the national peace can be won and maintained. I would remind you that there is an election coming next year. Please show up in that voting booth. And bring someone with you who may not have voted last year.

But for now, you and I and the rest of America who are not crazy rich, we are busy working jobs, paying bills, raising children, maybe taking in a movie or going out to eat once a month if we have a few bucks left. We are doing what we can and that feels like a full plate. Which is why it is so amazing that you are here today with Keshia, who teaches children and young adults, and Leroy, who sweats the words and reminds us “Let’s Get It! Let’s Go!”, and Javier, who spins all kinds of vibes, musical and beyond, and so many other good people, great performers and organizations who have made the time today to increase the peace; that is a super human effort, that is heroic and noble. This is the model the world needs to see and hear about, good people working every day to sustain a system that does not put us all under threat, but instead shows us how our voices matter and how our efforts can change the direction of the world, little by little: one day without violence, one conflict negotiated, one child saved from threat. One less riot. One less war. This is the conflict that maintains the peace and opens up a future we have yet to experience.

donkeyThe WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Thank you to my few and disparate readers. Art grows from within, an act of self-exploration. Good art connects to others. Great art connects and takes root. The flowers of the roots spread. The seeds of the flowers grow new art. The artist works alone. A world, time, the future, language, emotion, mortality–all communal, all fleeting, open to interpretation, personalization, decay– drive us inward while our hands reach out, mouths open for laughter, cries of anguish, questions, yawns. Bruises are the fuel of creation.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

donkey

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell/ “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” by Glen Campbell/ “By the Time I Get to Arizona” by Public Enemy/ “Blue-Eyed Boy” by Renegade Soundwave/ “Hurt” by Johnny Cash–Listening to Campbell’s morbidly engrossing “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” which addresses his erasure of memory from Alzheimer’s reminded me of how Johnny Cash rendered Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” so poignantly, interpreted as it was through the pain of his own impending death. That was a hurt poured through the studio mic into my own aging soul. Campbell’s piece carries a mortal weight, without tears, but aching for a love surely lost as he disappears into his disease. It is a curiosity of a love song, much like his early, enigmatic hit “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” which I would listen for back in the days before the internet when radio DJ’s ruled our choices of music. I was a high school kid surfing my way through my studies, blonde and careless and as ignorant of the subtleties of love as a crashing wave. But hurt I knew and hurt I recognized in “Phoenix.” Years later, I was teaching a creative writing course in college and trotted out Campbell’s “Phoenix” to a class full of young minds who could not care less about love songs from the sixties, just as they couldn’t see where Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 could possibly connect directly to rap. Still, my students sat dutifully through the piece, taking notes on content and rhyme scheme as I had instructed. The next song I played (this took place in the 90’s) was Renegade Soundwave’s “Blue Eyed Boy,” much more to their liking with its pulsing beats and brash mixes. Now the question I posed was about how these songs could possibly be connected. Of course it was one of those failed Socratic inquiries where none could remotely even guess the answer. So then I played Public Enemy’s “By the Time I Get to Arizona” with its sample of “Boy’s” sonic beats and its threatening march to that destination blue-eyed Campbell so longed for those many years past. Through rap we had connected the sappy, obtuse sixties to electro-industrial and through electro-industrial rap connected itself to romantic, racist Phoenix and through racism we connected the urgency of rap to the urgency of lust for Shakespeare’s dark lady in the mythic halcyon days of British domestic slavery which opened the doors of hell to America’s past and present, a present wherein I am now as old as Cash and Campbell and what I remember will soon be gone to Phoenix, a place where hurt goes to die like black bodies thrown from slave ships crossing the middle passage, and like those lonely tearless memories gathered somewhere in the ether, memories of and from all those now passed whom we have loved.

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Reducto ad Nihilo: Canon as Assassin
Genesis 10:13-15
“And Mizraim entered a woman whose name and humanity have been undervalued and expunged by canon masters from history but whose genetic code held equal sway in the dance of dominant and recessive gene coding to create a fetus which the woman bore with care nine full months until—in pain and without anesthetics and through great risk of death—she begat her and Mizraim’s son, Ludim…”
“And Mizraim entered a woman whose name and humanity have been expunged by canon masters from history but whose genetic code held equal sway in the dance of dominant and recessive gene coding to create a fetus which the woman bore with care nine full months until she begat her and Mizraim’s son, Ludim…”
“And Mizraim entered a woman whose genetic code held equal sway in the dance of dominant and recessive gene coding to create a fetus which the woman bore with care nine full months until she begat her and Mizraim’s son, Ludim…”
“And Mizraim entered a woman to create a fetus which the woman bore with care nine full months until she begat her and Mizraim’s son, Ludim…”
“And Mizraim entered a woman to create a fetus which the woman bore until she begat her and Mizraim’s son, Ludim…”
“And Mizraim entered a woman and she begat her and Mizraim’s son, Ludim…”
“And Mizraim entered a woman and she begat Ludim…”
“And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim),) and Caphtorim. And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,”

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Cain Enabled

Genesis 4-5 (with guest appearances by Matthew 22, 27 and Leviticus 27 )

I am the donkey. I chant the lessons of the fathers. The chant is the lesson. Repeat, the chant is the lesson. The words are the rhizomes of the chant. The chant is the lesson. Repeat, the chant is the lesson. I have sinned. The sins are the rhizomes of the chant. The chant is the lesson. Repeat the chant. Repeat the lesson. I have been judged by commandment. Judgments are extensions of the lesson, the chant. Repeat the lesson. The chant is the lesson of the Father. Repeat, the chant is the lesson. Eve, Cain, Moses, Jesus. Repeat the judgments. Repeat. Begat begat the begat. Repeat. Names are the blocks of the chant of the repeat the lesson chant. There is no person. There is no person. The chant is the lesson. The center cannot hold. There is no center. Repeat. Repeat. Chant the lesson the chant. All chant. All rhizomes chant the lesson. Light is mass. Repeat. The chant. Mass is light. Repeat. Chant. Substance is nothingness. Repeat. Nothingness is substance. The chant. Begat. The chant. He begat He. She does not exist. Chant. Repeat. She is only He begetting. Repeat. She is half the judgment. Half the shekels. Chant the lesson. Seven seedless husbands. Chant. Repeat. They all had her, passed her on. Repeat. They all had her. Repeat. Ain’t no fun. Chant. If the homies can’t have none. Chant the lesson.
Whose shall she be? Chant the chant. Repeat the rape. Repeat the rape. The chant is the lesson. Teach her the lesson. Into her go. Repeat. Chant. She 30 shekels. He 50 shekels. Repeat. The chant. The lesson. The center cannot hold. Make it new. Genesis. Repeat. Cain. Repeat. The rock descends. The chant is the lesson. Jesus. Repeat. Why hast thou? Chant. Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? The chant is the lesson. My punishment is greater than I can bear. The chant is the lesson. He is not the lesson. The word is not the Word. The chant begats the chant. In the beginning. As it was and ever shall be. The chant is the lesson. She has no value. Silence. She is not the lesson. World without end. Into her go. The chant is his chant. Know her hole. The chant of he. Not her whole. The chant is the lesson. He is a rhizome. He is not the lesson. Teach her the lesson. The chant. His profit is not the lesson. Do not see his profit. Chant. He is the prophet. His profit is not the lesson. Chant. Repeat. His profit is not the lesson. His begat is his alone. His profit is untouchable. Ye unclean repeat the chant. Profit is untouchable. Chant the lesson. The corporate body is a person. Repeat. The chant is the lesson. She does not profit. His profit is not the lesson. She is he and his profit. The corporate body is holy. Chant. The corporation is the chant. Repeat. The chant is the lesson. Repeat. Profit is holy. The person is not the lesson. Chant. Profit is holy. Chapter 11. Relief. Repeat the chant. Assets. Repeat. Her ass is an asset. Value and devalue. Chant. We all had her. Whose shall she be? The chant is the lesson. Reorganize the debt. Profit is his. Profit is holy. The corporation seeks relief. Relief. Repeat. Relieve the corporation. The CEO is holy. Do not touch his profits. Repeat. The chant is the lesson. Reality tv. Control the content. Words are rhizomes. Chant. Repeat. The profit is holy. Judgment is process. Cain is a rhizome. The people are rhizomes. Repeat. The rhizome is not the lesson. Our welfare is not the lesson. The chant is the lesson. Profit carries no flag. Repeat. The chant. No flags. No central state. It cannot hold. The chant is the lesson. The rulers rule the chant. Trod Nod. Repeat. The road is the path. The end is the beginning. Profit is holy. Fear the punished. Worship the punished. Repeat. Rule the chant. Never punish Corporate. The chant. The lesson. Nod is multinational. Eyes to the ground. Repeat. Eyes to the screen. Send. Friend. Delete. Chant. In the shadow of the Corporate. Profit soars above. Sores below. Trod. Chant. Share her. Shareholders. Shekels. Shhh. The chant is the lesson. His profit is not the lesson. I am the donkey. I chant the corporate lesson. Go ye now. Chant the lesson. As it was. The chant. As it shall be.

Still Genesis 4: 1- 25

Cain Destabled

“Nod” — a tuneless song (thanks, JC)

Well, you wonder why I’m marked and walk this way,
Why I never work a job more than a day,
And why my laughter sounds like someone else’s moan
Well, there’s a history to the scars that I have borne.

I wear my marks for the poor and beaten down,
Living in the hopeless, hungry victims’ side of town,
I have them for the prisoner who misunderstood her crime,
But stays because she’s a consort of her times.

I wear the mark for those who never read,
Or listened to the words the Maker said,
But I heard the words he spoke with love and charity,
Back then, you know, He was talking straight to me!

And I’m doing what I can in tattered clothes,
As I walk on rocks and feel them in my toes
Though I’m haunted by the wicked sound of skull bone being cracked
Every time a person shouts at me “Get back!”

I wonder if my questions will get old,
Unworthy me or a universe so cold?
I wander Nod just fixed on what there might have been
If a judgment never came to Mom or two young men.

So, I wander for the women who have died,
Believing that the Lord was on their side,
I wander for another hundred thousand castes who cry,
Never told or knowing why they’re cast aside.

But words won’t make things right, that much I know,
Like Mother’s ambushed innocence or Abel brought so low,
And not until I justify what is wrong and what is right
Will I ever see my shadow as my light.

Oh, I’d love to sing a rainbow every day,
And know that there’s a fairness to the game that’s being played,
‘Til then I’ll wander solo, scarred image on the sand,
‘Til God’s a little fairer, I’m the bitter, angry man.

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Still Genesis 4: 1- 25

Cain Destabled

“Nod” — a tuneless song (thanks, JC)

Well, you wonder why I’m marked and walk this way,
Why I never work a job more than a day,
And why my laughter sounds like someone else’s moan
Well, there’s a history to the scars that I have borne.

I wear my marks for the poor and beaten down,
Living in the hopeless, hungry victims’ side of town,
I have them for the prisoner who misunderstood her crime,
But stays because she’s a consort of her times.

I wear the mark for those who never read,
Or listened to the words the Maker said,
But I heard the words he spoke with love and charity,
Back then, you know, He was talking straight to me!

And I’m doing what I can in tattered clothes,
As I walk on rocks and feel them in my toes
Though I’m haunted by the wicked sound of skull bone being cracked
Every time a person shouts at me “Get back!”

I wonder if my questions will get old,
Unworthy me or a universe so cold?
I wander Nod just fixed on what there might have been
If a judgment never came to Mom or two young men.

So, I wander for the women who have died,
Believing that the Lord was on their side,
I wander for another hundred thousand castes who cry,
Never told or knowing why they’re cast aside.

But words won’t make things right, that much I know,
Like Mother’s ambushed innocence or Abel brought so low,
And not until I justify what is wrong and what is right
Will I ever see my shadow as my light.

Oh, I’d love to sing a rainbow every day,
And know that there’s a fairness to the game that’s being played,
‘Til then I’ll wander solo, scarred image on the sand,
‘Til God’s a little fairer, I’m the bitter, angry man.