Clown, clown, clown, clown, clown…

I am determined to restore a centuries-deep cultural association with the word “clown.” I want to move us away from its latest turn of horror and return to one of positivity, reverence, and medicinal quality.

Actor Donald O’Connor planted the seed of my mission when he told (er, sang) me to “make ‘em laugh!” Throughout thirty years of my performance training and career centered around theatrical clown technique, I’ve struggled with O’Connor’s directive for at least two reasons. One obstacle is the laughter itself: to make someone laugh means that one must laugh at me. My work to welcome that laughter, onstage and off, provokes a mind-body dissonance that often gets in the way.

What an undesired prospect, to be the recipient of a laugh, says the thorny misnomer deep down in my cells. By the time I learned to read, I already understood and agreed to the invisible social code that laughter = bad. Being laughed at is a nightmare for many, not unlike the dream of arriving at school or work in the nude. I’ve witnessed the same frightening internalization for my niece who, as of grade school years if not earlier, started wilting in response to our familial, loving laughter whenever she’d make an unintended funny.

As I grew, no one explained the physical phenomenon of laughter to me. I lacked an interpreter of those bubbly sounds to reassure me of their delight and appreciation. I missed that type of guidance until my early twenties when it arrived cloaked in the form of a mask and clown coach, and in several clown experts thereafter. They surely would’ve told me sooner that I held a lot of power as one who initiates laughter.

Instead, I was left to my own logical devices and causal associations. The more I witnessed laughter in response to innocent mistakes (on TV with America’s Funniest Home Videos and countless scripted shows, in passing conversations, anywhere), the more critical my internal voice grew. Projecting my internal/intrapersonal thoughts (i.e. “how stupid of me”) onto the intention of those laughing (i.e. “they think I’m an idiot”) has been a recipe for trouble, lots of misunderstanding, and a natural inclination to avoid public/interpersonal laughter.

…to be continued…

Behind the Mask: A Clown’s Vulnerability

From the moment I read Brené Brown’s Women & Shame and saw her classic TedTalk speech, I was thrilled that someone else was talking about vulnerability. Finally. And on a very public stage.

I’ve spent the past 25+ years obsessed with the same vulnerability phenomenon and its inherent superpowers, only I’ve researched through a different avenue (albeit like Brown’s interest in storytelling). My method was theater. More specifically, the theatrical form of Clown. Yes, Clown. If theater reflects society for society’s sake, then Clown technique pierces straight to every individual heart in the audience. There’s a reason it’s known in theatrical pedagogy as Personal Clown. The trouble is – and my frustration boils because – U.S. popular culture believes that “Clowns are scary.”

Don’t laugh: I’m creating a podcast series around the question “Why are people afraid of clowns?” I ask counter-questions aplenty; I interview experts and laypeople alike. I tug at the threads of vulnerability, failure and fear, humor and beauty, to see how all connect in the tapestry of human experience. There’s a wealth of insight to be mined – a lot to unpack from theatrical clown technique, plus its vast cultural and historical evolution tracing back to early civilization’s shaman. This unique art form showcases and reflects our inherent wisdom, flaws, innocence, and medicinal magic. Maybe a shift in the public’s perspective will inspire collective courage.

My investment stems from a preschool-age moment where a delighted stranger’s laughter caused a lightning-fast, harmful ripple effect of embarrassed behavior, confused desperation, and unhealthy relationship patterns – all of which I’ve been sub- and consciously unraveling from my being as I age. I wonder if people are afraid of their own vulnerability (i.e. their Personal Clown), perhaps afraid of the power in embodying their wholeness. Brown’s research seems to support this theory, among others I’ve pondered. I wonder if this obsessive curiosity, to piece together the source and logic* of laughter, is my inner child’s lifelong quest. What conclusion will I uncover that might provide a satisfying peace of mind?

I feel vulnerable in advertising this work-in-progress. I’m still learning how to share as a vessel of abundant, potent ideas rather than guard them as precious and exclusive. Who knows, maybe all my years of notes, inquiry, practice, observation, Clown Labs, continued education, and gameplay would be fun and useful in a new collaboration. If so, I trust that you’ll communicate with me!

 

*The topic of “Clown Logic” is an entire department unto itself.

Exploring a Fish Bowl (compost draft v1)

The first challenge to publishing an individual, internal account of a traumatic brain injury: it’s invisible. There’s nothing tangible or obvious, no roadmap or guidebook. The journey is inward, and one encounters that unknown territory as a person dependent on light would grasp into a dark abyss with arms outstretched. A brain injury is invisible and yet smackingly immediate like a mischievous ghost wanting to play innumerable tricks on their haunted house’s intruder. As if the body itself and everything familiar within that identifiable territory suddenly turns shapeshifter. Or traitor.

My brain injury started with a mild t-bone collision. “Mild” only in terms of not requiring an ambulance, hospitalization, life support, surgeries, casts, or the many other medical memorabilia I was spared, thanks to the fact that the negligent driver was quickly accelerating from a stop. “Mild” doesn’t refer to the terrifying push into oncoming traffic, the burst tire, the lateral whiplash, or the closed head injury diagnosis that grounded me from a six-month sojourn in Europe a mere ten days before departure. At first my internalized ableism saw this as a full stop in my life’s trajectory, but I’m stumbling through the process of rewriting that biased, misinformed story.

A brain injury is every climate, every geographical phenomenon, every season, every sunken and mountainous city, every remote village, every language of Babel, every mode of transportation; smashed together in one claustrophobic maze of overlapping altitudes and layered textures. All of it uncomfortably intense and inexplicably oppressive. With a brain injury, every micro and macro sensory input punches you in the head like an animated club. Because the brain’s effort to heal itself translates as zero regulation and amplified computation, everything at the same exaggerated volume.

A cloud of cigarette smoke. The screech and hiss of a bus arriving at the curb. A bright sunbeam reflecting off the windows across the street. Singular raindrops tapping your arm, head, back. The flavor of your coffee, plus the heat of it, biting your tongue. This snapshot captures only a few simultaneous things going on when you exit a neighborhood coffee shop, not to mention the dizzying effect of objects in motion within your primary and secondary views. In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, your brain will compartmentalize each sensation with such speed and dexterity that it costs you nothing but a few milliseconds to interpret these typed English characters into linguistic meaning. My injured brain refuses to brush aside insignificant inputs, and pains itself to make sense of minutia in slow succession.

The one then two then three (and how many more?) years of healing have felt far from “mild,” although one would think the sole prescription mild: rest. Imagine going to the Apple store, your sleek and freshly dropped Airbook in hand, then they say to just wait for it to fix itself. Maddening, no? Don’t work, don’t read, don’t travel, don’t learn, don’t use screens, don’t exercise, don’t stress… Stop doing every last activity that defined the dimensions of your life, and relax. Sure.

My neurologist informed me that the saying goes: if you’ve seen one brain injury, you’ve seen one brain injury. While my experience is unique from all the others’, the community of TBI survivors can undoubtedly commiserate about shared symptoms.  A symptom is how the brain injury reveals itself from its invisibility cloak, such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, etc. Any whiff of commonality is a breath of fresh air in what’s otherwise an extremely isolating experience.

I’ve reached notable milestones throughout my ongoing pursuit toward a return to “normalcy.” I hate that word. Along the way, repetitive symptoms have arisen in varying levels of intensity. The worst: the most sneaky and subtle. The most difficult: the separation from a sense of Self and identity. The most common: acrid, dense fog amongst neural pathways; absence of clarity, cognitive and otherwise; trying to decipher incomprehensible (yet simple) text messages; fingertip reading like a kindergartner, muttered aloud to attempt to recall the string of words, rewinding over and over to retrace the meaning of an entire sentence; emotions everywhere, out of nowhere, big and deep, erratic and unregulated; feeling tranquilized, but not tranquil; thick throbbing headaches, similar to feeling spun around in nauseating degrees. And goodbye, memory.

How could an unassuming traveler guess that a bruising kiss would crucify their own ego from the body republic (rendered unrecognizable), and hide it hostage within heightened senses? How could a trustworthy steward ever conceive of being gas-lit by their own inner landscape lacking resemblance or familiarity?

It’s a sticky place, this injury. A different kind of sticky than the incessant sweat of Brisbane’s humid summer. My wheels spin and lurch; momentum jerks. Nothing smooth or sailing about it. Adventures away from home are consistently the occasions wherein I fill notebooks with nonstop writing, yet I avoid scribbling the intricate details of these three years and another yesterday with all my might. I don’t want to see it any more than I want to experience it. I know the travel story of this injury; I reside there. But I don’t want to give it shape in permanent records. Ask how it’s been, and I muster quick footwork for a lightning-speed getaway, a sitting duck poised to flight in a snap.

I wish you shared access to my mental capsule of events so you could sit beside me per your viewing request. And we’d hold hands while I avert my gaze from the flicker slideshow projected on pale faded daisy sheets in an anonymous file download of facts. You’d watch intently, then turn, peer at me with awe and appreciation for my resistance to succumb to the void’s beckoning loneliness etched into this invisible injury. You’d solemnly nod in compassionate agreement that one hundred sixty hellish weeks of bearing this _________ is indeed cumbersome – and still, all the while, I packed and repacked to muster miracles as I walked on footing unsure, flinging hope into light shafts wherever shelter opened and kindness appeared amongst unmoored lily pads.

My denied permission to write has incidentally dulled what memory – and memory of memory – could have been recorded in the moment, so now it’s a fickle game of recollection. Recollecting factors of repetitive yet fleeting side effects forces me to sift through mental rucksacks and train trunks to re-collect the journey’s amassed souvenir (“to remember,” en français)…seasonal aromas folded within foreign flora, sharpness of windchill, colorful sunsets, culinary flavors at market, unusual ambulance sirens… Souvenirs take time to coax from their hiding places, sometimes tucked into far cobwebbed corners after years of neglect. Only the most polished anecdotes sit on the obvious shelves, lifted often enough to build a distinct dust imprint, revealing the separation between fondness and forgetfulness.

My jumbled and gapped word bank trails behind in strenuous efforts to maintain a conversation. I wonder if that spaciousness resembles the stuttered consequence of children sniffing jars of glue tucked into their sleeves, the ones who asked for money from drivers at intersections in Nairobi. Tangent: I cringe to recall my preteen naïveté in shamelessly uttering the Swahili word to “welcome” two young Maasai sisters to the safari campsite (where I was the visitor), on property etched into their herd’s feeding grounds. My vocabulary now snags on rock and rubble on its route between my impulse to speak and articulation. It begs for an immediate salve, but instead receives practiced, pitiful tsks with sharp splashes of “…but you look fine!”

A brain injury could visually resemble the heavy cement oratory atop a high hill in Montréal. Its exterior: hundreds of steep, severe stairs cascading downward (a vertigo-inducing mind-fuck). Its interior: a dark, ominous demand for silent reflective contemplation. A few narrow stained glass windows offer barely perceptible splashes of color on the cold, grey floor. For that matter, the terrain of a brain injury might more closely resemble Dante-esque catacombs than share a likeness with any landmark or landscape I’ve traversed throughout four continents. Their depths threaten a deafening rattle of rage, nerves, and riddles to sort. I keep these caverns locked, but they leak.

I wouldn’t describe the prolonged, quaking fear and grief as “mild.” These friendly foes have been annoyingly persistent in my periphery like the wild-hair bearded vagabond who followed my twelve-year-old self on foot through Paris to the Louvre, intermittently blowing into a melodic bird whistle and smirking in disturbing eye contact once I’d identified the sound’s source. They all ignore my evasive maneuvers.

I joke (seriously) that a brain injury places me in a very different time zone than the surrounding world. As evidenced during conversations, my response circuitry is sluggish while everyone else runs on fiber optic. My effort in this molasses air feels glacial among average passerby tailwinds who vault along with extra springs in their step. Every so often, though, the cityscape clocks into my time zone. (What relief the pandemic provided! People stuck at home!) We finally find syncopation for a few beats before their pace of the pendulum rocks ahead again.

As worker bees, theirs is an erratic pace to which I’m not eager to match once I’m fully healed. I had a taste of this time zone during my 2015 trip to Australia and New Zealand. To be. To exist. To allow minutes to mirror hours. Not to compete. Not to get ahead. Not to rush toward the myth of success and satisfaction and instant gratification. Why hold oneself under unnecessary pressure?

Recreation (as in, leisure) is crucial for catching one’s breath, for curiosity, for daydreaming. To remove oneself from oneself and all the trappings of routine, persona, mindset, fixed perspective, and comfortable community. To be. What freedom in anonymity and unrestrained, unscheduled time! Re-creation (as in, forming again) is important for embracing the undone, for immersing in the unfamiliar, for imagining new architecture. We’re often inspired by the unexplored, so let’s not be precious about our one lived identity. Be wild.

Slow and steady became my full-time job; a stark contrast to my previous go-go-go energy. If that’s a gift, the twist was not being able to “make something” of it (as in, “be productive”). However, the prolonged meditative sit with myself has probably been the most arduous work. I’ve had countless moments of feeling foolish, failed, and faulted. Confusions roost: remorseful quagmires of questions unanswered. Many hints to puzzle out, indefinitely.

How will this local wanderer recognize the promised land of recovery? Does it already move amidst this changed wholeness, holistically healing hour by hour, impatiently patient? And what have I noted along this improvised itinerary? Healing takes time. Maybe a long time. And focus. And practice. And intention. Rest is allowed and encouraged.

I’ve been steeped in a travel bundle I never sought, yet I cannot deny the wealth of gifts this injury has offered me. Human bodies are only ever temporarily “abled” and there’s much societal work to be done in the collective mindset…

(to be continued with more details and revisions)

Harsh harmony

Breakfast in the neighborhood aviary surrounded by diverse birdsong.

A silent crow then interjects its presence within the company of cascading sparrows, robins, tits, finches, warblers.

Is it trying to blend in, this stowaway of song?

Perhaps it loves a melodic morning as much as me.

October

Who would believe that trees survive the wet, frigid wind

slashing against their bare arms and mottled skin

speckled with mites or bruises,

reminders of a careless foot or eager embrace.

Their generous color showers nod

to celebration of ample growth and festive harvests,

yet wink slower still to brief breaths, shallow

and constricted, the nod toward

slumber and

quiet.

Best Part of Waking Up

A cup of coffee feels right even when it tastes like a dirty dish. Wafts of earth emit from the dark crumbs before I submerge them in a soupy soak. This pour-over extracts, ounce by ounce, alertness and cognition. Gravity leeches flavor and function from the floating aroma.

A cup of coffee always feels true for a couple of cold hands with purple fingernails, no matter the hour or caffeine level. It’s a learned measure of comfort once associated with great-grandparents and an owl painted on a 1960s mug. I never expected coffee to adhere to my own morning routine like the ringed stain permanently visible within the owl’s cranium.

A cup of coffee feels necessary now, despite the tea packets’ yearning for a turn of their own, for a drinker who grasps at verbal pathways once trod yet (temporarily?) vanished. That betrayal of confusion and cloudiness is too baffling to comprehend. Someday this cup of coffee will reveal its quaffer’s grounded spark.

REVISING EDUCATION: Part One

The present situation of Covid-19 affecting school closures in the U.S. provides a generous opportunity for citizens to meticulously examine and clarify what defines and encapsulates K-12 education in this country. After listening to fellow educators of multiple grade levels and departments, plus parents and students, I’d like to pose some broad questions to consider.

My goal here is to light a match so we can more courageously look into the “hidden shadows” outside the limited parameters of what’s been the accepted standard. Let’s take the time to collectively imagine an amended educational system which includes every available possibility that previously eluded our attention. If we first identify the ultimate, agreeable objectives of K-12 education, then we can more easily establish and implement the tactics to achieve those goals year after year.

This is a starting point. I have many more questions. I’ll follow this post with a Part Two to elaborate and offer my own suggestions. Until then, you’re welcome to share your ideas in the comments, and/or take this conversation to your families, town halls, city councils, and superintendents. Systemic change may feel both radical and torturously slow in the moment, and it’s nonetheless a necessary pathway to design together.

For the sake of our young people, I ask you…

…currently:

– What would it take for this country to indisputably prioritize the funding of schools, teachers’ salaries, classroom materials, and extracurricular activities?

– How do we really want young people to spend their precious, fleeting, impressionable K-12 years? What do we want to cultivate in these future generations? What is essential?

– For what does the established, pre-pandemic mode of education truly prepare young people? Is it solely preparation for the end of earning a diploma? For collegiate acceptance? For their guidance in mental, social, and emotional growth? For moving toward the unique dreams of their minds and hearts?

– What exactly do we want to quantify and qualify as learned lessons for the young person’s development?

– Is quantifiable education exclusively about the memorization and demonstration of an encyclopedic knowledge?

– Could education be a dynamic way for young people to learn how to negotiate their own path within a collaborative world of diverse cultures, perspectives, biases, etc?

– How do we fully honor the young person’s lived experience (including realities such as generational trauma) while providing space for them to build skills in stress management, interpersonal conflict, rage, loss, and navigating change?

…historically:

– When did policymakers require that people ages 5-18 attend school? Was it once the child labor laws were enacted?

– Why were the (roughly) September-June and Monday-Friday schedules established in the U.S.? Who says that those models of structured time have to continue unaltered?

– Who and what determined the sequential K-12 curriculum as it stands? When was that established, and when was the last time it was examined? Why does that curriculum widely vary state by state?

– Why and when was it decided to assign certain historical, geographical, and language-based subjects (and their abbreviated segments therein) per grade level in K-12 learning?

…holistically:

– How has an attempt at fairness by way of the generality of standardization affected the ability to meet young people where they are with their own inherent strengths and capabilities?

– When did we stop (or why do we avoid) teaching the entire person? How might attention on a student’s emotional development inform the rest of their learning experience?

– What would K-12 education look like if young people were grouped by their learning style rather than age? And what if they were matched with educators who could meet the needs of young people based on their given cultural, emotional, psychological, and additional means of support and understanding?

One moment, two versions

1. the experience, as a free-write dictation in December 2015

5 am sunrise in Napier:

The horizon flips to keep the night sky in the ocean. The sorbet lining between shades of blue. Birds chattering like 50 alarm clocks sounding at once, overlapped and enthusiastic. Dawn is so far underway that only one star/planet is visible despite my strained search of the clear sky. Two. I thought the first was an airplane. One in the east, one directly opposite in the west. The east star looks like two linked together, which I vaguely remember from either the Sydney observatory or my friend’s telescope.

The dark red amber transitions to gold, revealing a ship in the distance. It’s just the birds, ocean, trees and pathway, and myself. This is my morning ice cream, crisp to the touch. A bicyclist chirps “Morning!” as he passes in a whip of wind.

An enormous log lay beached on the sand. Did the ocean toil all night to birth you there? The waves gently lap and kiss you, to bid farewell after a tumultuous separation.

Gold brightens further to yellow. The clouded horizon softens and blurs, the cloud wisps above sharpen in contrast, cotton candy striped in orange-pink-blue. Impatiently patient. The log is a prehistoric jaw curved upward with a great warthog tooth.

The west planet now barely detected; the eastward sisters shine through bubblegum candy floss. Another greeter of dawn walks the footpath. My form is further exposed in the light: bare feet shoved into untied shoes, baggy pajama pants, ski coat, haphazard scarf. My wild nest of hair untouched by smoothing eyes or fingers after the pillow worked her night shift.

Bubblegum taffy evolves to neon orange, soft cotton of the baby blue blanket further beyond. The horizon light pales, stripping itself of depth and character. The whiteness/witness of the pastel yellow bores. Yawn. How ordinary.

I am a mountain on these black pebbles. Firmly planted and aligned, growing every breath. Tall with light and energy, casting shadows around my periphery. The she-ocean crashed along my toes, tickling to entice me away from my foothold. The foamy sirens eager and clambering for their mother to take me for herself.

A red belly grows behind the skirt of smog, the glowing orb pushing its way up from the golden-lit water at the extreme edge of the earth’s end. Then it’s lost again in thick congestion. The neon cotton bleached white in the wake of approaching sun, paled and perhaps by fear or apprehension, or cowering in reverence.

Ah, this is the bulbous glow that stretches now beyond the reflected windows, over the deco rooftops. A concentrated light forms backstage, ready for the 5-minute call.

The clouds deceived. Morning glow emerges as a surprise, catching the earthly circle off guard. The radiance is all colors at once, so intense only short glances will keep your irises intact. What a grand entrance. Swift and steadily, as if the pulleys were freshly tested and mended for this grand spectacle. Hello, Sun. Good morning. Your rays push blush to my face, carve contours on my outer layers. It won’t be long now, for you to suspend for another seven hours, leaping higher across the convex arch. I’ll see you then. Now I go, return to the woven blankets and threadbare bedding. Tell your night’s journeys to the ocean; she’s eager for company.

2. shaped into poetry or lyrics in April 2020

NAPIER’S FIVE A.M.

Multitudinous avian alarms chime and peal. The main holds the night sky in a flipped horizon.

Sorbet slices between shades of blue. This is my morning ice cream, crisp to the touch.

Deep red amber kneads to gold.

An enormous log lay in the surf. Did the sea toil all night to birth you there?

Her waves gently lap and kiss you, to bid farewell after a tumultuous separation, your prehistoric drift jaw curved into a giant warthog tooth.

Gold brightens to pale yellow.

The clouded skyline softens, blurs while wisps sharpen, cotton candy stripes canary-orange-pink.

Impatiently patient, shining on my wild nest of hair untouched by smoothing eyes following the pillow’s night shift.

Neon orange shifts to bubblegum taffy.

Shadow mountains cast on beach pebbles, firmly planted and aligned.

Skyline pales and strips its depth and character.

Soft baby blues beyond.

She-ocean crashes toward my toes, tickling, enticing me from this foothold; foamy sirens eager and clambering for their mother to take me for her own.

A red belly grows from within smog’s skirt, the glowing orb pushing its way up out of the earth’s extreme edge.

Ah, this is the bulbous irradiance stretching now beyond reflections, over the deco rooftops. What a grand entrance.

Swiftly and steadily, rising true, as if his roped pulleys were freshly tested and mended for this canorous spectacle.

Hello, Sun; good morning. Your rays blush my apples, carve contours in my creases.

Your suspense will expire, leaping higher across the convex arch.

Sing your night’s journey to the sea; she welcomes your camaraderie.

The storm…

…is upon us
Tears precipitate
in grief and gladness
millions of souls
echo the fury

Generations snap to attention
The uprising
is striking
jolting into focus, to see
what is essential, what is
valuable, what is equitable

Wind forces open
room for new fires to ignite,
fresh oxygen at the ready.
Inevitable stages:
treaties and negotiations
that mock progress and intelligence,
denying lived experience, and
more denials of lived experience
more denials of lived experience
more denials of lived experience
more denials of lived experience
proof branded as true scars

At this moment
finally
we fight for the benefit of everyone
the fight for peaceful treatment of Black bodies
is a fight for peace within white bodies
Humanity is fed up
with the divisiveness
of racism and white supremacy
That air is poisonous,
like the rising heat of our global crisis

Rock the boat, crack the hull
release the tides
swarming for tangible freedom

Starving severs patience
Have you ever been so h-ANGRY?
Change is on the menu

It’s one fight for all
that is loving and plentiful: life
the fight against greed, corruption, violence, dis-ease,
theft of time, energy, livelihoods,
looting, pillaging, exploitation
of autonomies and resources

Demonstrate whose lives you render dear,
whose light you know to be luminous.
Hearts are bursting open
allowing the pain to penetrate
and resuscitate
sense

For universal well-being
the balm prescribes a new pulse,
to harmonize
with resounding drums
once clattering in opposition,
now in opportunity, hammering
ancestral longing, and clapping
in new music, revolutionary rhythms

Pledge your allegiance
place your window signs
stand with the majority:
the people of color, the global majority,
the elders of land protection,
the creators,
the direct production workers,
the cultures smothered barely recognizable
by melting pots

The thunder baptizes
the blessed
flames
fulfilling destinies
centuries of oppression
getting what’s due
today

This is the moment
— in movement —
after hundreds of years’ messages
“Wait for it” and “When the time is right” or
“Later…”
of promises emptied

Redraw the root of power & live
Life, abundant with gifts, balancing
the great ideals: liberty & pursuit of happiness
not at the cost of another being’s existence

Life isn’t a zero-sum game.
Fabrication of the negative-to-one creates only
Haves and Have-Nots

Capitalist deception spins myth
around scarcity & competition,
making us peck at each other rather
than the rooster (that cock of bull)
manipulating smoke & mirrors

How dare we willingly believe
and throw our wealth of self
to those who sit heavily upon our labor,
who hoard and claim that nothing’s left
to go around, save the discard scraps & bones
eat up

Pervasive fears
feeding fear
and untruths unfold
insipidly slithering, scale by scale

Old placations lose their grip
on wild, fuming lightning

When bus drivers refuse to transport cops & their arrestees
when the people who truly run society uniformly & unilaterally
take ownership of their sovereignty and
make the decision to interrupt the machine,
those who think they own & operate that society look really foolish —
with somewhere to go and no way to get there

An outdated handshake
wove the reluctant agreement
a bond, unrequested
and manufactured
for protection in trade of work, but
the contract nullifies
when their promise
is indeed slaughter,
only a pretense on guard
of white “from” Black
when the reverse is necessary

Patriarchy chips away significance
dents and bends the truth
into gnarled roots of control
by violent elimination

Let’s buck the insistence
that some lives are second-rate, at best
of a duty to cower and kowtow
to a false sense of superiority
and insecurity masked as purity

One crises layered upon another,
holding isolation in new light —
it’s all the same fight for justice;
everyone trod upon
fights for the same future:
another day on this planet
Life choosing Life
in times of chaos and upheaval
it’s coming; it’s happening

(and where are the imprisoned in all this clatter? Are they locked down by the watchmen, for lest they drink of the rage waging war on the corrupt police state of this country, and create an uprising of their own, to destroy the cage doors once and for all?)

Time to rip up the rules
written for us, not by
or on behalf of us

We vibrate, breathing
into our instrumental essence
for this storm.

Reparations must be made
for us to reconnect.
After so many repeat inflictions, restrictions,
invasions of boundaries,
healing requires honest and thorough action:
every defined and refined proclamation,
proven in motion.

Blazes sweep through, so we look to the horizon for elements of rebirth and renewal

for return to the tree of
knowledge with open curiosity, with hearts forgiven
and instead bejeweled by beams of compassionate clarity.

Time to paint your door frames:
signify your support
sign your contract
in the cause and effect
we’re fighting for
peace, and
violence is the only language
understood by oppressive power

Today’s fight is to redesign equality,
on the heels of barricades and obstacles
forcing flight from foes,
and place power in the hands of the people
where it’s belonged this entire time,
yet has long been robbed & extorted

This storm erodes every past provision, and
draws green trenches in the soil for us to imagine anew
Permeate, refresh, rejuvenate;
The environmental fight is the people’s fight is the right fight
Hurry to this space before we outrun and overwork the pace of earth to tread

Hold us sodden in stillness and self-reflection
to see and be seen exactly as we are:
flaws, mistakes, regrets, injustice, hurts, monsters, injuries…
Wholeness of selves
best lit from the shadows
of creation’s image;
which warrants a little more care and effort
in listening
for signals of distress

The storm is upon us —
for a thorough drench of possibility,
nourishment, reprieve,
exaltation, and exhalation.

Time to improve the rules
without chokehold trade-offs
It’s completely possible to have
every essential met and supported by
and within the society.

Grasp hands, link into unbreakable
chains of universal liberation–
when one is free, we’re all free
from the bondage of suffering
That celebration is ours to share

We’re supposed to be together
as accomplices
to survive and thrive
in life’s mundane profundity

Let us traverse, two by two billion,
arm in arm, united as one,
repairing the brokenness of the original sin:
the kidnapping of innocence

Mend the pernicious wounds with a deafening demand for justice.
Flip the switch.
Create the effects.

We are the storm
the collective deluge in countless drops
pounding the pavement and prairies
from sea to shining sea
and then some

Roar, clap, echo
the demands of a people for their freedom
once hung to dry
let the flag fly
drenched in this monsoon of clasped hands
raise the call
announce the arrival
of the great tempestuous reckoning so
we may revel within an unsuppressed, non-oppressed
undivided resonance
forevermore.