Monday, January 19, 2009

Mental reservations

Commenting on the oath of office this morning, a friend wrote that "having' mental
reservations' would actually be a sign of wisdom." I don't claim wisdom, at least
not on behalf of the part of me that speaks in words, but I want to speak my own
mental reservations: I want to believe in Barack Obama. The significance and
power of a nation whose wealth was built through the enslavement of people
kidnapped from Africa electing the son of a Kenyan to be President is not lost
on me. Nor is the reality that the margin of difference between the policies
promised by the new administration and those enacted by the last is a margin that
represents life or death for millions. And who could not be moved by Rev. Joseph
Lowery speaking the benediction that evokes a god older and more loving and
more real than the God of bondage evoked by Rev. Rick Warren?

But there are truths that burn so hot that the veils that once covered them can never
be repaired. And they keep me from celebrating wholeheartedly.

Barack Obama intends to keep 50,000 -- 80,000 troops on the ground in Iraq
indefinitely. And he plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Those wars and the dozen proxy wars our taxes will continue to fund are waged to
ensure the continuation of the mindless growth demanded by the system we live
under -- the growth that Edward Abbey called "the ideology of a cancer cell," the
growth that consumes forests and mountains and deserts and lives and whole
nations and whole species.I don't doubt that President Obama wants to reduce
the damage done, to render the system a little bit less brutal. And again, any
diminishment of brutality means less suffering .

But at the same time, the commitment to continuing that brutality means an
acceptanceof more "collateral damage." President Obama said "we will not
apologize for our wayof life or waver in its defense." But only when we do finally
apologize for the wayin which we have been living at the world's expense
(including apologizing to ourselves for the ways in which we have cut ourselves
off from the living Earth) can we "put aside childish things" and learn to live in a just
and sustainable way .In this country we tend to ignore the fact that systems have a
reality and mind of their own, and that they always operate to ensure their own
survival. In pledging himself to the idea of America, President Obama
surrendered a part of his own will to the systems of control that bind themselves
together under that name.

But a witch bows to no one. And I will not offer my own allegiance to that system.
I offer my love and support to a man named Barack Obama wrestling to hold
onto his humanity in a situation where great powers conspire to rob him of it.
But I have no loyalty to President Barack Obama as he undertakes the work
of attempting to guide and steer violent systems of control. My own allegiances
are to mysel(ves/f), the truth, and the living universe.Those loyalties may brand me
as an outsider -- but such has always been the way of the poet and the shaman .
Like Tomas the Rhymer I will kiss the lips of the Queen of F(a)eri(e) and be
transformed, given the gift of a tongue that will not lie that makes it impossible
to ever again be at home in a world woven from the enchantment of falsehoods
repeated so often that we no longer hear the din or imagine the possibility that the
imagination can stray outside the bounds set by that wall of noise. The tongue
that speaks the truth cuts a hole in that wall, revealing a road that leads into the
sweet, fierce ,loving wildness of the heart. I am setting out along that path.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Poetic fragments in progress

Maybe its the Scorpio rising
that makes the smell of
sex and death cling to my skin
when I slip between worlds,

reminding you of when
I let my godself rain down
where apples rotted
back into rich dark soil

watering seeds
broken open by the heat
of burning cities
and melting concrete.

Your body never quite sure
what to do with the feeling stirred
when you catch my scent on the wind,

never sure what to do with darkness --
the last time you tasted it
it all ended in blood and fire,

but something in you hungers
for the metalic pungence of that blood
and the searing blue
at the center of the flames.

And the crescent moon
you wore around your neck
was born from blackness
to which it cycles back,

but not before it shines
in silver fullness,

moving the waters in me
and calling down the rain.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

This is the year . . .

"If every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year."

-- Martin Espada, Imagine the Angels of Bread

This is the year we were born to live in.

This is the year when we begin to live as who we are, who we always have been at the core, who we were born to be.

The year we have prepared for all our lives.

After so many lifetimes of believing that the path of liberation lay in going up and out of our bodies, up and out of the world, this is the year we finally begin to come fully into our bodies, to know that their skin and bone and muscle and blood and nerve and flesh are the instruments through which our highest aspirations can be realized,

that the pleasures of our senses feed a bright and fierce fire that rises within us

and that this time instead of burning ourselves at the stake we can set that fire loose in the world,

burning away the illusions that have made people believe that there is no alternative to a life based on the brutalizing assumptions of scarcity, danger, and fear,

already we are watching the fire start to burn away the screens onto which those illusions have been projected as markets crash and an empire comes up against the limitations of its power to subdue the rest of the world through the threat or reality of starvation or bombardment.

Yes, the suffering around us is real. And yes, those still caught in fear lash out in terrifying ways as they falsely believe the fire has come to burn them instead of free them.

But at the same time billions are realizing they no longer have to surrender their wills to the disembodied spirit behind the burning curtain.

And the fire melts the pavement and the ash covers our feet and we take root again in the soil and draw up water from the Earth

and rain it back down to feed the seeds that have waited 500 years to be called back to life.

This is the year when we know for certain that those seeds will give rise to flowers and fruit again.