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Mass Mourning

Mass Mourning

 

Finally,

we cracked.

Poured out into the streets

to mourn the measure of our losses,

flooded houses of worship,

in parks held candleless vigils:

wicks couldn’t hold a flame through the driving tears.

 

A man (he must have heard the news

of this latest senselessness on the radio)

opened the door to his car and let the stored tears

burst into the gutter.

 

It wasn’t the first time we’d wept:

the last time, even the President’s voice had cracked.

The mothers of pistol fodder,

the police fodder, the invisible until shot,

have been crying since ‘emancipation,’

and of course since long before, each time a mate or child stolen,

each time a massacre, a genocide occurred or obscured.

Churches had had cry-ins

at the still smoldering buildings:

and when firehose water was not enough,

our tears quelled the last of the embers.

 

In Colombine and Newtown,

we wept in schoolyards.

Jackson State, Kent State, Virginia Tech.

Whole communities:

Aurora and Oklahoma City.

We stopped counting.

 

Surely individuals, unreported, standing,

cried into their TVs until they shorted out

one war or another,

having given up pounding the top of the set

with their sore fists.

 

But this time the dam broke.

 

Even the color guard snapped,

laid down their rifles, kneeled over them

and cried until they washed away.

The streets were finally, literally

flooded. We couldn’t stop mourning.

The anger, the blame—now useless.

The stoicism, the cynicism—stopped.

Eyes widened, then squeezed.

 

Wailing, like you hear some cultures do at funerals.

Wailing, like cops’ sirens, like an ambulance.

This time it wasn’t just our own,

it was Paris and Beirut, Syria and Iraq

Iran, Vietnam, Hiroshima, Bosnia

Korea, Congo, Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Libya,

Guatemala, Libya, again

All the places we have bombed:

Bikini Atoll, and other obscure places whose names

we can’t pronounce, places we can’t find on a map.

 

Finally it hits us:

How many have died?

How many loved ones and strangers?

How useless the violence has been!

Children gunned down—motive unclear.

Children abused

women and men raped

all the techniques of torture and terror

 

But this time the children refused to fear,

just cry.

We all refused to fight back,

for who else could we attack?

 

Just cry.

 

Rivers overflowed and washed through Walmarts.

guns floated and sank, war games, too.

Warhead silos, rusty already, filled to the brim.

Still we couldn’t stop.

We could feel how related we are to all

we had destroyed, we ripped our garments, tore our callouses

off and cried,

it didn’t matter anymore, we were all so related,

out in that field beyond right and wrong.

 

There was a little calm there

We made more connections,

little smiles of recognition,

our ancient faces, our child faces showing through

the bitter mask of this life.

 

Then it got worse:

we remembered the species

extinct or nearly.

A woman opened the door to the natural history museum

and the dodo bird

all the taxidermy

horn of black rhino

bones of whale

began to float, still float.

 

Gale winds sprung the zoo and the factory farm gates open

the wailing now howling.

All kinds of eerie voices added in:

the cry of a baby coyote separated from her pack,

the cry of a swan who’s lost a mate,

the loon’s ancient echo off a lake.

 

Our sorrow multiplied,

but we carried it for each other.

Our hearts squeezed, throats squeezed

then opened

like a spigot

like a fire hydrant on a hot day

in the ‘hood.

 

We walked through our tears

until we could gather and see each others’ faces

washed clean and open

 

and we listened again

to the sound of the loon

as she landed

on the lake we had made.

 

 

The “we” in this poem is intentionally referring to Americans.

What a difference a year makes. This was published (on Visitant) only a year ago and already sounds like a historic document. Remember having a president who would cry?

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Chestnut, elm, maple

“Chestnut, elm, maple” published in a new journal dedicated to the Great Turning, Deep Times: http://journal.workthatreconnects.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Deep-Times-Spring-2016.pdf

I am the poetry editor for the journal, and welcome your submissions of poetry on the themes evoked by the Work That Reconnects:

  • coming from gratitude,
  • honoring our pain for the world,
  • systems thinking,
  • deep time (thinking like a mountain) or the Fourth Time (past, present, and future as one),
  • deep ecology (the wisdom of honoring all life as sacred circle)
  • paticca samuppada (mutual causality, dependent co-arising, or interbeing)
  • perceptual paradigm shift,
  • our work to create new systems,
  • preserving the good and holding actions to stop destruction,
  • and how we clarify our roles as agents of the Great Turning towards a life sustaining culture.

Contact me at my name as one word at hotmail about how to submit.

(Please excuse the severity of the shortness of my parenthetical definitions!)

Here’s to a “true revolution of values” as per Dr. King!

 

 

Chestnut, elm, maple

I know I am dreaming but I cannot wake up.
I shake myself, but it is not the earth body, it is the dream body
that shudders.
I know I am dreaming when I drive down Maple Street,
loving my gorgeous maples while I kill them with my exhaust,
but I cannot stop.

I know I am dreaming when I turn onto Chestnut Street
and there are no chestnut trees.
I know I am dreaming when I turn onto Elmwood
and the grand elms have long since died.

I remember hearing that they were dying
as a child, but didn’t know which tree was which,
which to mourn,
had been taught only maple and oak
by my city-born elders. Had no idea how permanent
the loss of a species would be. But we were awake

as we played along the streets, pretending they were rivers,
deep and wide and flowing as they should.
A few times a year, in late August, four inches of rain in a day
would flood the streets, and they would almost become rivers,
shallow and wide and flowing and we would thrill, the rain
warm enough to run in, the earth body and the dream body
of the rain one. The earth body and the dream body
of ourselves and the rain one. We were awake,
with rain down our spines; our earth bodies shuddering,
shaking the rain, both rain and spine shuddering, laughing.

The rain would wash the streets clean,
sweep litter and maple helicopter-seeds alike
down the storm drains
to the real rivers, litter and leaves and seeds
and floating gasoline rainbows
rushing toward the real rivers,
hidden underground.

“Corpse pose” and “Equally invisible”

The Bleeding Lion lit mag published two of Karina’s poems in its second issue: http://thebleedinglion.com/inaugural-issue-preview/issue-2/

“Corpse pose” is on pp. 54-5 and “Equally invisible” is on pp. 60-1.

Yogis will recognize savasana; followers of Joanna Macy’s work may sense how her ideas of deep time and nuclear guardianship informed “Equally invisible.”