do not make war, a poem

View of Cliff House from Ocean Beach
View of Cliff House from Ocean Beach

1.

it must be painful for them to write, those poets in tough-times and hard places
where blood and tears and poverty contaminate the air, stain the sidewalks, and consume the people

the blood must be soul-sick and rusted and tasting of acid, not salt,
and the poems meant to heal the writer and stroke the cheeks of the wounded,
to dry their eyes and gently kiss their gray heads

to poem in such places must be like walking shoeless on glass shards

perhaps the most sacred thing in the dream-time meadow of poets’ desire is Light ~
can you awaken to meet the Divine on the battlefield, in the camps, in government housing or in the ghettos?

if so, you are a saint, not simply an artist

2.

in my small world, my civilized world, people fall asleep reading or after making love or playing in the yard with their children
if they wander, it is through books or planned travel
there are luxuries
there is food
there is cleanliness and paper on which to write
no bombs are dropping to scorch and scar the Earth

there is a certain dignity

3.

in San Francisco we walk along the beach at night, near the Cliff House
we walk to the sound of the waves, the song of the Earth chanting its joys
our feet are bare and relish the comfort of cool sand

the air is clear and cold and easy to breathe, tasting of salt and smelling of sea life ~
here is a pristine moment of peace

i want to bequeath this peace to you, to everyone,
as though it were a cherished heirloom
it is really a birthright

i want to plunge into the waters and gather the ocean in my cupped hands, to offer it to you as sacramental wine

i want to form seaweed into garlands for all of us to wear, to hang over our hearts, a symbol of affection

i want to collect pine cones from the trees that congregate along the coast and feed them to the children to remind them to cherish this Earth and all its creatures, themselves included, and to say …

do not make war in your heart or upon your mother’s body

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reservedPhoto credit ~ BrokenInaglory via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

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“Embarrassed” – British Poet, Hollie McNish, delivers a rhymed and reasoned defense of breastfeeding in public

Hollie Poetry a.k.a. Hollie McNish, poet, author and spoken word artist
Hollie Poetry a.k.a. Hollie McNish, poet, author and spoken word artist

“Born in Reading to Glaswegian parents, Hollie studied French and German at King’s College, Cambridge, before earning a master’s degree in Development Economics.Hollie won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009 and went on to finish 3rd in the global Slam Du Monde contest. A collection of her poems, Papers was published by Greenwich Exchange in 2012.

“A number of Hollie’s YouTube videos have gone viral and her account currently has over 3.9 million views.McNish’s first album, Versus, was released in September 2014 under the pseudonym Hollie Poetry, she was the first poet to record an album at Abbey Road Studios.Hollie has collaborated with Kate Tempest and George the Poet and they have appeared on stage with her during her 2015 tour. McNish received major national airplay on the BBC, first in January 2015 on Huw Stephens BBC Radio 1 show and then in May 2015 on BBC Radio 1Xtra in as part of a spoken word event.” Wikipedia

Embarrassed

I thought it was okay, I could understand the reasons
They said, “There might
be a man or a nervous child
seeing this small piece of flesh that they
weren’t quite expecting.”
So I whispered and tip-toed with nervous discretion
But after six months of her life sat sitting on lids,
sipping on milk, nostrils sniffing on piss
Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers
I wonder whether these public loo feeds offend her
‘Cause I’m getting tired of discretion and being polite
As my baby’s first sips are drowned drenched in shite
I spent the first feeding months of her beautiful life
Feeling nervous and awkward and wanting everything right
Surrounded by family ‘til I stepped out the house
It took me eight weeks to get the confidence to go into town
Now, the comments around me cut like a knife
As I rush into toilet cubicles
feeling nothing like nice
Because I’m giving her milk that’s not in a bottle
Which in the cocaine generation white powder would topple
I see pyramids, sales pitches, across our green globe
And female breasts–banned–unless they’re out just for show
And the more I go out, the more I can’t stand it
I walk into town, feel I’m surrounded by bandits
‘Cause in this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
WH Smith top shelf’s out for men
Why don’t you complain about them then?
In this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
W.H. Smith top shelves out for men
I’m getting embarrassed in case
a small flash of flesh might offend
And I’m not trying to parade it
I don’t want to make a show
But when I’m told I’d be better just staying at home
And when another friend
I know is thrown off a bus
And another mother told to get out of a pub
Even my grandma said that maybe I was sexing it up
And I’m sure the milk-makers love all this fuss
All the cussing, and worry, and looks of disgust
As another mother turns from nipples to powder
Ashamed or embarrassed by the comments around her
And as I hold her head up and pull my cartie across
And she sips on that liquor made from everyone’s God
I think, For God’s sake, Jesus drank it
So did Siddhartha, Muhammad, and Moses
And both of their fathers
Ganesh, and Shiva and Brigit and Buddha
And I’m sure they weren’t doing it sniffing on piss
As their mothers sat embarrassed sitting on cold toilet lids
In a country of billboards covered in tits
In a country of low-cut tops cleavage and skin
In a country of clothed bags and recycling bins
And as I desperately try to take all of this in
I hold her head up, I can’t get my head round the anger
Towards us and not to the sound of lorries
Off-loading formula milk
Into countries dripping in filth
In towns where breasts are oases of life
Now dried up in two-for-one offers enticed by labels, and gold standard rights
Claiming that breast milk is healthier, powdered and white
Packaged marketed and branded and sold at a price
That nothing is free in this money-fueled life
Which is fine if you need it or prefer to use bottles
Where water is clean and bacteria boiled
But in towns where they drown in pollution and sewage
Bottled kids die and they know that they do it
In towns where pennies are savored like sweets
We’re now paying for one thing that’s always been free
In towns empty of hospital beds, babies die,
Diarrhea-fueled, that breastmilk would end
So no more will I sit on these cold toilet lids
No matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips
Because in this country of billboards, covered in tits
I think we should try to get used to this

© Hollie McNish

She’s good. I’m so delighted to find her. Hollie’s website, Hollie on Amazon U.S. and on Amazon U.K.

Photo credit: Andrew Lih under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

DOING THE RIGHT THING … Unitarian Universalist Clerics Publish Open Letter of Support for Muslim Community

Rev. Ben Meyers of San Mateo, just one of the twelve clerics who signed this letter
Rev. Ben Meyers of San Mateo, just one of the thirteen clerics who signed this letter

Keeping it Kind. I am so very proud of the Unitarian Universalistist Clergy of the San Francisco Bay Area for their open hearts and their OPEN LETTER in support of the MUSLIM COMMUNITY. It was read at the MultiFaith Prayer service at the Yasmeen (Islamic) Cultural Center in Burlingame, California on Sunday, December 13, 2015.

December 13, 2015 An Open Letter

Dear People,

We are writing to call attention to a great injustice and to ask your help in addressing it.

Not that many years ago Catholics were seen as some “other” who could not be good Americans. More recently Jews suffered many insults and abuses because they did not belong to the dominant faith – again, seen as “other”. Good people rallied to stand with them and, over time, they have become so integrated into the fabric of our country that it is now unimaginable without them.

500px-Flaming_Chalice.svgToday we are seeing the same sort of prejudice and, on occasion, dreadful acts of violence directed at Muslims. They are our contemporary “other”. These are our neighbors, co-workers, and our friends. They serve in every branch of our American military. They are our doctors, lawyers, police officers, nurses, teachers and social workers. They are us.

Because of the actions of a very few, some current American politicians and others are sparking fear and hatred against the entire Muslim faith community.

In response, people of good-will and conscience must stand up and speak out. Many already have. Some, clinging to the haunting words of Pastor Martin Niemoeller, are asking “who will stand with them?” It is time to answer that question. We will. We, the Unitarian Universalist clergy of the San Francisco Bay/Peninsula, stand with the Muslim community.

We urge you to do so as well. Please take a stand and say your peace.

With faith in love beyond all beliefs,
The Reverend JD Benson, San Francisco
The Reverend John Buehrens, San Francisco
The Reverend Stefanie Etzbach-Dale, Redwood City
The Reverend Pamela Gehrke, San Mateo
The Reverend Elaine Gehrmann, Monterrey
The Reverend Axel Gehrmann, Monterrey
The Reverend Alyson Jacks, San Francisco
The Reverend Nancy Palmer Jones, San Jose
The Reverend Nina Kalmoutis, Sunnyvale
The Reverend Russ Menk, Aptos
The Reverend Ben Meyers, San Mateo
The Reverend Vail Weller, San Mateo
The Reverend Amy Zucker-Morgenstern, Palo Alto

Note:  Please feel free to share this letter through WordPress’ “reblog” feature or by cutting and pasting. If you’d like me to the post in HTML to make it easier, please let me know. J.D.