Friday, January 3, 2020

“plant a public kiss ….” New Years 2020

A great day in Coney Island. 

And back home chilling Gone with the  Fiddler.
Zabriske Point, 1970 


Those who tremble together...



I woke up on New Years and made a coffee.
One too many parties the night before.
Wandering between Bar Tobac, our usual New Years spot,
and Barely Disfigured, one of our newest haunts on Smith Street, now my longest home,
before we made our way to the Luncheonette in  Greenpoint.
This year makes twenty years in this neighborhood alone. 
Friends here, salzerac there. 

I pulled out some poetry,
Flipping to the last page of volume, reading:

“The poles
are inside us,
insurmountable.

When we’re awake,
We  sleep across, up to the  gate,
of mercy.

I lose you to you., that
is my snowy comfort,

say that Jerusalem is….”

Looking about in morning,
 the questions seem to be growing.
the walls inside us, only getting larger.
Can  we tear a few  down?
Can radical gratitude start right here,
even  if the  world is falling  apart?
Not easy but a place to start.
Can we find that city of peace?

“… us free…”

Can we  be free?
Would we know it if we saw it?
Can we live with each other?
Can we live in this place?

Emily Dickenson’s prose follows, jumping from the page.
‘You left me sweet two legacies,” writes the bard.
“You left me boundaries of pain,
Capricious as the sea,
Between eternity and  time
Your consciousness and me.”

Your consciousness and me.
I look at Caroline.
Drinking her coffee in bed.
And then out the window, to Brooklyn the light dancing in the morning,
our twentieth year of coffees together every day.

Maya Angelou calls us.
I can’t imagine coming  up with such a name for a book,
says Caroline referring to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Continue, she implores us.

“My wish for you
Is that you continue
Continue
To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness
Continue
To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart
Continue
In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter
Continue
To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you
Continue
To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely
Continue
To put the mantle of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless
Continue
To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise
Continue
To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected…”

I could never write such a poem I think.
But hopefully I can plant a public kiss of concern.
This year, I’ll try to do both. 

Off to yoga on Sackett Street.
Quiet morning, everyone strolling for their  morning breathe.

Hold the space for a friend says B.
Give it to all them.
Give it all away.

Breathe, 
Sweat,
Savasana.

It seems like everyone on the train is going to swim in Coney Island. 
The elders.
A young brit looking out the window.
Snow is dancing  in the as  we ride.
Have you ever gone swimming in the snow?
We ask each other.
The public subway conversation.
Holy Brooklyn in  motion.

Do you go every year?
As long as I can remember.

Dad you are always smiling says the teenager.
Are  you ever not smiling?

The promised land,
we made it,
pouring out the subway to the water,
 looking  at the people approaching  the boardwalk across from Nathans.

Water freezing
Welcoming
Dying
Regenerating.
Bodies clashing into the water.
Everyone best friends for a day.
In a collective lunge of  feeling, frail  vulnerable together. 

Birds above.
Dancing in the sky.
Walking  with  us on the beach.

Andrew’s late.
Christine joins him.
You should go in  with the critical mass, she texts me.
Always the critical mass.

Meeting Harry and Rob and Christine.
Talking about trees.
And campaigns from years and years ago.

A decade of activism later.
That seems like yesterday, says Caroline. 

My favorite ritual of the year,
Says Andrew.

Gone with the Fiddler.
Our with the old.
No Zero Mostel.
In with more  montages of ideas.
Reminding and  perplexing.
Time Bandits flying through walls.
Through doorways and bedroom walls.
Cultures colliding.
Peter  Lorre trembling.
Fritz Lang unpacking scapegoating.
Bits  and pieces of movie after  movie,
Trying to make sense  of  it all.
Bits and pieces of
Moulin Rouge.
Time Bandits.
M
Blazing Saddles, and
An explosion in Zabriskie Point. 
Joel is the  Master of Ceremonies.
There’s liza in the back. 
He welcomes us to the cabaret!
Meine damen und herren
Mes dames et messieurs
Ladies and gentlemen
Guten abend! Bon soir! Good evening!
Wie geht's? Comment sa va?
Do you feel good?
Ich bin eur confrencier!
Je suis votre compère
I am your host!
…Leave your troubles outside
So life is disappointing, forget it!
In here life is beautiful
The girls are beautiful
Even the orchestra is beautiful
And now presenting the cabaret girls!
Each and everyone a virgin
You don't believe me
Well, do not take my word for it
Go ahead, ask her!
Ha ha ha ha…”

Go ahead, ask Helga.

Go ask the philosophers  in
Monty Python and the philosopher’s soccer game.
The Greeks vs the Germans,
Marx to the rescue.
Or maybe not.

The Fisher King.
I’ve been reading Don Quixote so I felt like watching it, says Emily.
There is Robin, reminding us we can chase windmills or sit naked in the grass.
Its ok to sing into the night.
We’re still all looking for that grail deep inside us. 
Stumbling without it.
Struggling for the right answers.

Our roving communities.
Who did what  last  night. 
Quiet for a minute
 with
A quiet explosion.
Slow motion  exquisite Antonioni.
Terri Gilliam to the rescue.

Some make it,
Others  are  in points unknown.

Monica was with us last  year.
This year she sent a dispatch from a coastal town in Norway:

“A glimpse at this last year. I am deeply deeply grateful for how much of the world and different communities I am privy to, that I have been building strong connections with over time. I began and ended this year in Tijuana. As many horror stories I have witnessed at the death trap of borders, I have witnessed the absolute magnificence of the human spirit and the unbelievable beauty of the natural world. This is my greatest teacher. I can never fully understand the depth of suffering of what another human undergoes in a lifetime and I am humbled again and again when someone chooses to trust me with their story, to let me in, to befriend me, even after systems of oppression have chased and crushed them to the ground. I believe in love. I believe in the power of storytelling. I believe in grassroots activism and collective power.
Through my theater work, I have played music, sung, shouted and moved with people in migrant centers, shelters, artist spaces, theaters, churches, the streets, bank lobbies, festivals and homes. We have expressed worlds that live within our imaginations and hearts. We have danced dances of death and liberation. I have come a bit closer to healing and understanding.
I have felt sweat fling off my body, crashing cymbals, surrounded by a throbbing brass band and gyrating crowds….
Through my illness, I have laid in bed for weeks at a time and dreamed of other lives, meditated on past hurts and regrets, numbed myself with TV, felt guilt for not showing up for friends. Learned about ways to heal and strengthen myself through ritual, through returning to the earth and the stars.
Through my activism and education work, I have connected with people across New York state, and the globe who are putting their lives on the line for justice, to defend the sacred, to protect their homes, families, water, air. I have stood with them. I have linked arms with them or lain on the ground with them, I have climbed power plant smokestacks with them. I have de-escalated police and worked to protect comrades. I have spent hours in jail cells. I have spent even more hours painting and building props and art with community members for early morning actions. I have learned what matters to them. I have learned what inspires people to take that leap of faith, the moment they decide to become radiantly disobedient, to reach up and grasp for their rights, to speak truth even when punishment is inevitable and I have witnessed them grow stronger in their strategy and techniques and take bigger risks. I continue to make mistakes and to learn new skills and to commit myself to a fight that is greater than myself as a daily practice.
I have experienced great loss, of friends and family. Through death and suicide. Some were extremely young and full of promise. All have left their mark on me, and will remain in my heart…I struggled to release the grip some had on me, that made me feel valueless, a perpetual victim, not worthy of love or safety. I still struggle with this.
I have felt riotous joy and extreme sadness and depression. I have felt isolated and without community and I have felt more united and interconnected than ever.
I have felt love and heartbreak. I have felt a well of unknown.
I have dropped into the depths of hopelessness and felt my efforts in activism were meaningless and I have been part of tremendous victories and unforgettable disruptions and lessons and momentum and witnessed uprisings around the world that blow me away and give me courage to keep going, keep pushing, keep fighting.
I keep breathing and moving forward and I am thrilled and so happy with the life I have the privilege to live.
Thank you to all those who have touched my life this past year and decade and on and on. May this year give you greater clarity and vision. May you be fully embraced by your biggest dreams. May you experience real kindness and love. May we share a dance together and may we bring down capitalism!
#2020

Onward  Monica, onward. 

The next night we watch JoJo Rabbit.
Imagine if Anne Frank was in your attic?
What  would you do?
Would you embrace the stranger?
The kids lose their parents,
Digging through the garbage for food till its over.
And then they dance.
Concludes Rainer Maria Rilke

As a new year begins,
Let us continue. 
Its ok to sing.
And read poems.
And cry.
And remember the beauty, 
And the horrors -

Even  as war looms in the air.

















































































































































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