A Chance for Peace …

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (1890-1969)

34TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

In office 1953 -1961

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed … “ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Note: I wrote this piece on December 13, 2011 after I learned of the first 100,000 Poets for Change. Seemed appropriate to pull it out, dust it off and share it once again since our theme for this year is “poverty.” 

The quote above is from Eisenhower’s speech, A Chance for Peace, delivered in 1953 three months after he took office and on the occasion of the death of Joseph Stalin, Premier of the Soviet Union (1941 to 1953). The “just peace” that the world hoped for in 1945 at the end of World War II had not materialized. While the Korean War was coming to a close, the Cold War-era military conflicts in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) were slowly escalating. The United States would have advisory troops in Vietnam in 1954. The armed conflict in that region of the world would continue long past Eisenhower’s administration with U.S. involvement escalating in the 1960s and continuing until the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

Since the end of the Second World War and the Korean War, violent conflict continues unabated with thirteen wars (defined as 1,000 or more deaths per year) currently, including the War in Afghanistan and the Yemeni and Syrian uprisings of 2011. Smaller scale conflicts resulting in fewer than 1,000 deaths per year have been rife and in 2011 include the Sudan-SPLM-N conflict, the Yemeni al-Qaeda crackdown, and the 2011 clashes in Southern Sudan. (And now in 2015, we have to add among the world’s many current conflicts the war in Syria, which is displacing more people than any war since WWII. According to an recent and comprehensive article, How Syrians Are Dying (worth your attention) in The New York Times, 200,000 have been killed over the past four-and-a-half years.)

Genocides didn’t end either. We’ve had eight genocides since the Holocaust of WWII, including that which is ongoing in Palestine. The number of rebel groups is now over one-hundred, which probably errs on the light side. Conflicts rise from economic and social instability and what amounts to vigilante “justice,” most of which could be addressed if our governments invested in butter, not guns; if they included rather than marginalized; if they listened and responded rather than disenfranchised.

Even in 1953, Eisenhower pointed out that war isn’t sustainable:

This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

If governments don’t recognize that Earth and her people cannot be sustained by war, many of their citizens do. One modern peaceful protest for a sustainable world is of interest to all of us who read, write, and love both poetry and peace. It is 100 Thousand Poets for Change, which held its first world-wide rally on September 24, 2011 with 700 events in 550 cities representing 95 participating countries united to support peaceful environmental, social, and political change.

Poets, writers, artists, musicians, and photographers the world over demonstrated in solidarity. The next global event is scheduled for September 29, 2012. Throughout the year small, local events are delivered at a various venues. By invitation, 100 Thousand Poets for Change was at the Sharjah (an Arab Emirate) International Book Fair, which ran through November 27.  Mujeeb Jaihoon reports,

“From time immemorial, poetry has built better bridges between people than those with bricks and stones. And these bridges do not get old or obsolete…” (Change Is Born in the Womb of Poetry)

In A Chance for Peace Eisenhower pointed out,

“No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.”

We do hunger, individually and collectively. Perhaps our chance for peace starts with you and me. Poem on …

… and join us this year at The BeZine blog on 26 September 2015 and add your voice to ours for our (yours and mine) 100TPC, poets and friends virtual event for a peaceful, sustainable and just world.  

© 2011, essay, Jamie Dedes All rights reserved; The photograph of Eisenhower is in the public domain.

LET’S FACE IT! Peace, Sustainability and Justice … on 26 Sept. 2015, 100 Thousand Poets (et al) for Change

cropped-11870868_10203410767264923_1515064565540882553_n1.jpg

Reblogged from The BeZine blog.

Note: Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace, try to live gracefully) wrote this last year just before the 2014 event. (We’ve adapted it with current links and dates.) It seemed a good piece to share with you today to welcome and encourage you to join with us this year on 26 September for 100TPC, which is not just for poets but includes artists, photographers, musicians and friends of the arts.  100TPC is about Peace, Sustainability and Justice.  We chose “poverty” for our theme this year and have devoted the entire September issue of “The BeZine” to that subject.

On the 26th, a post will go up on The BeZine blog with instructions on how you can share your work and view that of others.  We look forward to your participation and to your works.  J.D.

As a core team member of The Bardo Group, I am invited, encouraged, challenged to participate in the The BeZine’s 100 Thousand Poets for Change event to be celebrated virtually at this blog. For more information about this event, and to be stirred and prodded in you own artistic lethargy, click here

I yearn to be a poet, an artist, a musician.  I often find a piece that seems so right, so seemingly effortless, so fitting that I think it can’t be hard to craft a work like that…it simply lays over its theme like a glove.  Not so.  Listening to music on my way to work yesterday, I heard a poet’s frustration: “I don’t know why I spend my time / Writing songs I can’t believe / With words that tear and strain to rhyme.” (Paul Simon: Kathy’s Song.)

I feel these core values of Peace, Sustainability and Justice coursing through my life, my thoughts, my work, my hopes, and I wonder how hard it would be to write a poem about it.  I talked to a young man half my age who has studied forensic justice and just interviewed for a position as a mentor, a parole partner, someone who will help perpetrators and victims get together and talk, face to face.  I thought it was a great idea, for both parties, for all parties.  Here’s my attempt to let that idea percolate:

Let’s Face It

Behind the veil, the dirty shroud, the black burka, the white Klan sheet,

the knit ski mask, the heavy gas mask, the transparent oxygen mask, the impenetrable death mask,

the dense fur, the redwood bark, the shiny scales, the matted feathers,

the protective shield, the official badge, the repeated slogan,

the coarse beard, the perfect make-up,

the injections, the implants,

the scars, the screen

There is a face, a viable being.

When eyes recognize

kin and skin, then peace begins.

Face to face is the starting place.

– Priscilla Galasso

©  2014, notes and poem, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

One Summer Night

IMG_8688One summer night you stood on the beach
Where the sky touched the sand and spoke in midnight blue
While a thousand eyes watched and winked
You were a handsome boy, as straight and serious as a sigh
The other girls giggled, thinking you too stodgy, too old
But I stepped back, looked at your heart and lost my breath
Your winter gave birth to my spring, your darkness my light
And I have never been the same

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII by Pablo Neruda, The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems

©poem (2012) and photograph (2015), Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

The BeZine, 15 Sept. 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 10 (Poverty/100TPC)- Table of Contents with Links

15 September 2015

For the past five years, September has been the month of 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC). All over the world, poets (musicians, artists, and, yes, mimes) have organized events on or near a Saturday in September each of those years, this year, on the 26th. For this, the fifth anniversary of 100TPC, there are over 500 events scheduled throughout the world. The readers of, contributors to and publishers of The BeZine have participated with a virtual event in the past and will again this year on the 26th.

Meanwhile, The BeZine’s theme for September also supports the 100TPC call for peace, sustainability, and social justice, with our focus on poverty in general and homelessness in particular. This focus relates to social justice in an obvious way. Yet, how could we speak of sustainability without social justice? If we still have poverty and homelessness, what is sustained other than inequality? And, without social justice could there be peace? For that matter, could peace be sustained without both justice and environmental plus economic sustainability? Our choice is not to put one of these three above the other, but to recognize that all of these three important themes, necessary areas of change interrelate in complex ways. So we chose one aspect to focus on, and in so doing, this issue clearly points to all three themes through the lens of poverty.

We open by featuring three incredibly powerful poems by Sylvia Merjanian, Refugee, Second Chance, and Collateral Damage. Refugee and Collateral Damage come from her collection, Rumor (Cold River Press—proceeds go to help Syrian refugees). Second Chance debuts here. These poems show the relationship of war to poverty, oppression, and sexual abuse. In reading these, one senses the immense personal costs of war, especially to women and children. They provide an important window into the staggering worldwide refugee crisis, currently the largest human migration since World War II. Refugees are homeless in so many ways, even when they have a house to live in. And, the world seems to conspire to keep them destitute.

That war directly and indirectly causes poverty does not surprise. You might not know, until you read James Cowles’ essay, The Roots of Institutionalized Poverty, that something called The Compromise of 1877, which ended the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, provided the political and economic structures of poverty that continued strong through the Civil Rights Era and, in many ways, still exist today. Certainly we know that poverty is not new in the United States, and neither is homelessness. In this issue you will hear music of the Depression Era that sounds too familiar today. The first time I personally participated in an editorial and writing publication related to homelessness was in 1989, for the University of Minnesota student paper, the Minnesota Daily. We produced a special finals’ week issue, title Ivory Tower, dedicated to the theme.

Poverty and homelessness are evergreen issues historically, but issues also embedded in social and political complexity. They benefit the rich, whose economic system keeps most of the rest of us as, at best, “wage slaves,” and all too many of us in poverty, without enough to provide for basic needs or housing (including the “working poor,” who hold low-paying jobs while CEOs are paid record-breaking salaries and bonuses). Our second feature, Jamie Dedes’ poem, Some Kind of Hell to Pay, cries out against the structures of injustice, where the rich act as demigods and demagogues, and it asks of what use will all their riches be in the Hell realm of the inevitable backlash from the marginalized and disenfranchised.

photo credit: Sharon Frye

photo credit: Sharon Frye

The poems, prose, photo essay, and art in the rest of the September BeZine will ask you to feel, to see with empathy, to hope defiantly, and always to resist the status quo. The writers often look beyond the borders of the U.S. or Western Europe to see the injustices of a world-wide economic system of war, greed and injustice that makes it difficult to live outside of its oppressive realities—and for those pushed out, choices do not sustain their lives, their dreams, or their spirits.

Yet, people live, they dream, and they hope with spirit—often in defiance, sometimes by dying (see John Anstie’s As if and Sharon Frye’s Jacob’s Ladder in this issue), sometimes by living despite all of the forces lined up against their lives. Victoria C. Slotto’s Homeless Man tells of a “destitute” man whose story reveals that he may in fact have the most rich life of any of us. Always, there is more than what we see.

Read these words. Think about the change that could help to heal creation as Michael Yost’s poem Who Am I to Judge and Michael Watson’s essay The Realm of the Unimaginable speak to. Remember the admonition to think globally but act locally. And, most of all, imagine.

Then, join us on 26 September 2015, on our blog. Add your own thoughts, your own poems, your own essays. Join in our virtual, worldwide 100TPC event from wherever you live. We will post a page with instructions on our blog on the 26th. The posts will go up live. And, after the 26th, we will organize and archive the event (see the 2013 and 2014 pages in the tabs at the top of the page).

—Michael Dickel, Jerusalem

My poem from the 1989 Minnesota Daily Ivory Tower

Soil

i
The plow cuts, disk or chisel?
How much of what lies below to bring up
leave exposed
to dry in the wind?
What residue of last years’ crop
to leave upon the soil,
cover over
to rot, return to the fertile land?

What fetish draws me along this furrow?
Street and curb meet here.  Step up or down into slime.
Dust, trash tossed around and dropped by the blind wind.
What fate ties strings to which embedded hooks,
Pulls my flesh forward forever forward towards the street?

The Spring fete begins, seeds in muck
anticipating dilettante dance of the chosen few.
Weed out the hungry whose appetite starves wind-pressed grain shafts;
water the rows of the obedient who face slick harvest,
brittleness in the searing sun and death with Winter.

I move, farmer in these city streets, man among the chaff,
I offer to fetch my elegant plow-tongue, to stop the wind,
describe the deep earth and the rotted residue, the dry grasses and newspaper
blown by, salvaged for shelter by the quick grasp of an old hand,
pulled on top of gray hair to keep rain out.

ii
I would pull the plow, but a voice from under the newspaper
covers my shoes in mud and mire.

    What d’you know ’bout
all this?
              He spit

from mown rye-stubble fields,
        fetid earthen face
          Cracked
crumbled
          creased

  Caressed once, long ago

     All you see’s a bum.
      Fuck you, you son of a whore.

At home I do not wash the dirt from me,
I scrape it off, place it in a box
with a key I open my belly and
secure the box within, sated.

The weeds fend for themselves

photo credit: Jamie Dedes

photo credit: Jamie Dedes

September 2015

Theme: Poverty

Lead Features

Rumor, Silva
Some Kind of Hell to Pay , Jamie Dedes

Articles/Creative Nonfiction

The Realm of the Unimaginable, Michael Watson, Ph.D.
The Roots of Institutionalized Poverty in the Compromise of 1877,  James R. Cowles
Farming a Dancing Landscape, Priscilla Galasso

Poetry

As if, John Anstie

Why do you judge me?, Brian Crandall
Homeless, Brian Crandel
I Understand, Brian Crandall

Poverty Line, Sharon Frye
Jacob’s Ladder, Sharon Frye
Barometer of Bones (A Baltimore Teacher Remembers Freddie Gray), Sharon Frye

The Search, Joseph Hosch
Cold Comfort, Joseph Hesch

more Washington rumors, Charles W. Martin
five dollars and some change, Charles W. Martin

The H wor(l)d, Liliana Negoi

I Am Not Alone, Lana Phillips
Pulling Myself Up, Lana Phillips
Wounded Healer, Lana Phillips
Undeserving, Lana Phillips

~ Under ~, Corina Ravenscraft

Le Mendicant, Victoria C. Slotto
Homeless Man, Victoria C. Slotto

Who Am I to Judge, Michael Yost

Photo Story

Out in the World, Naomi Baltuck

Art

Mother and Child, Roy DeLeon, OSB

Special Feature
An Art Lesson with Leslie White … music by Grandpa Elliot

Music
nueva canción de Ameríca Latina
(the social justice music of Latin American) 

Sólo le pido a Dios (with translation and brief bio), Mercedes Sosa

from the Great Depression (1929-1941)

The Ghost of Tom Joad, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen
I Ain’t Got No Home, Woody Guthrie
Hobo Bill’s Last Train Ride, Merle Haggard
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Rudy Vallee
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Bessie Smith

Contemporary

Democracy, Leonard Cohen

BIOS WITH LINKS TO OTHER WORKS BY OUR CORE TEAM AND GUEST WRITERS

FOR UPDATES AND INSPIRATION “LIKE” OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, THE BARDO GROUP/BEGUINE AGAIN

MISSION STATEMENT

Back Issues Archive
October/November 2014, First Issue
December 2014, Preparation
January 2015, The Divine Feminine
February 2015, Abundance/Lack of Abundance
March 2015, Renewal
April 2015, interNational Poetry Month
May 2015, Storytelling
June 2015, Diversity
July 2015, Imagination and the Critical Spirit
August 2015, Music