I'm thinking about flow this month. What flows and what doesn't. How to convert what does not flow: despair, lies, terror, paralysis, censorship, tyranny – into what does: tears, grief, histories, blood, energy, breath. I'm reading Ntozake Shange and Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, feeding my vision of resistance art as the enzyme that makes flow.
Thanks to all of you for being out there. With your bodies, your voices, your prayers, your art, your skills, your services, your daily dogged determined work for humanity. I have seen you over and over on the streets, in the protests, behind the scenes – making things happen, stopping things happening, happening in a movement that will not be contained. You feed my spirit.
NOTES FROM A LOST COUNTRY – A PARTIALLY FOUND PROSE POEM
"make tea not war make friends not war make gazpacho not war make saag paneer not war make me a channel of your peace not war make eggs"
From the window of Platanos, my local tapas joint.
Day 1 and 2 of Operation Iraqi Annihilation
protestors pack dowtown by day, helicopters
circle relentless by night. Until 4am, a flock
of roaring metal fists. Sleep impossible,
even with earplugs. Later, I hear
only one `copter was police –
the rest were media piranhas. Seeking flesh
to feed "Anarchy In San Francisco" headlines.
Snapshot 1, Anarchy in San Francisco:
8am, Market Street, at Beale. 7 activists do yoga asanas, beautiful as dancers on pavement. A radiance about them which draws a suit to set down his briefcase, join them, awkward, stiff. Facing these dangerous anarchists, row of cops. Full riot gear. Heavy boots, thick ugly uniforms, belts bristle with weapons. They would be ludicrous – if they weren't menacing. If we hadn't seen the footage – didn't know they will club and kick and strike at unarmed flesh.
Snapshot 2, Anarchy in San Francisco:
Lunchtime on Market and Main. Cops arrest non-violent protestors who sit in junction. Ratio: 6 police to every protestor. They fence us in on pavement, orc-line of cops up the street, all the way to Embarcadero. Female Asian officer right in front of me. Younger than me. Our faces level. No–eye–contact, gun-fat-on-hip, club-at-ready, legs-apart-boots-planted. Behind her, 4 cops carry limp protestor to van. I lean forward, eyes strain to record – one foot touches road. Her club, eyes, body, swing at me – GET BACK.
I've been waiting days to cry, thought my tears eloped with hope.
Now, before Officer I. Michaud, SFPD #915, and her cohorts, I cry.
Stand. Breathe. Cry.
Workplace conversation, day 2 of war.
"Are you all right?"
"No. 4 million pounds of bombs are falling on Iraq."
"Boy, you're not much fun today."
Did anyone have to explain not being `all right' on 9/11?
Palpable bewilderment of Pentagon, plaintive wail of playground bully: "But they weren't supposed to fight back!"
Dispatch, 1897, from Commander Jackson, British Army in Kenya, on resistance of Nandi people to British invasion: "...the ignorance of the people is so extreme that it is impossible to convey to such savages that the occupation of their country is not harmful to them..."
Column headline in Kenya's Daily Nation: "Pray That Kenya Never Discovers Oil."
"I want to do a Rip Van Winkle," I tell my lover. "Wake me in a hundred years if anything's better. If not, don't bother."
"Poor baby," he responds. "You need to drink more coffee."
I am chanting for the dead and dying, for the screaming survivors. Sarvesham shantir bhavatu – may peace be unto all. Sarvesham purnam bhavatu – may wholeness be unto all. May all be free of sorrow, pain, may all look to the good of others. I am chanting to hold my breath to my soul, my gut to my breath, my heart to my gut, my brain to my breathing heart.
"Ring the bell that still can ring." croons Leonard Cohen in his song, Anthem. "Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in
everything. That's how the light gets in. That's how the light gets in."