Saturday, July 18, 2020

On the Smile of Melancholy








RIP John Lewis
The best thing about the marches is the people you meet.
Try to talk to one new person per march and its worth the effort.
Wearing a Fred Hampton shirt, he told me a lot as we walked on Tuesday.


Some weeks you feel the darkness enveloping.
Anger, nightmares, repeated.
Hard to sleep,  
No trips, lots of repetition.
Just time together in the capital of capitalism.
Work, work, work.
Repeat.
Its been a long time.
Sam sang about it,
The war between us,
Rich and poor,
Men vs Women.
Our egos, ourselves.
Ever defending.
Power plays into the distance.
Everybody knows, sings Leonard.


“Everybody knows the good guys lost
…The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows”

If you listen close you hear Leonard laugh,

“Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful

Everybody knows”

Reactions and counterreactions.
Unemployment and desperation.
Prisons growing, gunshots filling the night,
As police ignore the calls.
Resentment and frustration.
The center doesn’t hold.
I get scared, defensive.
Don’t get defensive.
Moods plummet.

Longfellow saw it:
“So death flooded life  and o’erflowing its natural margin,
Spread to a brackish lake, the silver stream of existence.”

That stream takes me to the water.
To the cliff.
Looking down at a flood of messages on my cell phone.

Emails and text,
Misunderstandings.

Bike actions,
Meeting friends.
Too many, texts, lost in translation.

Venting at Union Square
Still marching against solitary.
Up to 23rd street.
People dying in solitary,
Cooked to death.
No one knows.
Everybody knows.

A beer at Tompkins Square Park,
7th and B.
How many conversations can grow from this corner?
If that lamppost could tell stories.

People out.
COVID lurking around the edges of our city.
Crowds of people meeting.
The uptick happening.
391 new cases on June 28th. 913 July 13th, 776 July 17th.

Progress sliding beyond our grip.
Why open restaurants and bars if this is happening?
Phase four around the corner.
No need to shame or scold, but why not just wear a mask?
you can dance with a mask,
you can do a lot of things with a mask on ...
you can have a masquerade ...
you can bike...
you can drink with a draw...
you can shower with someone...
lots of things you can do with a mask on...
says Jess in the stoop.

Problems remain.
Ubiquitous reminders everywhere.
Still in town in exile from Rome or Mexico City,
The places I go,
The places I get away.
Instead I ride over the bridge, through Chinatown, down Grand,
Past my favorite graffiti.
Kenny Schwarf murals.
Messages on street signs.

More texts and inconsolable sensations.

Trying to sleep it all off.
Boris writes Julie in War and Peace.
“there is something so enchanting in the smile of melancholy… it s a ray of light in the darkness, a shade between sadness and despair, showing the possibility of consolation…”
Charming and offending, lamenting how easily
“women can turn from sadness to joy and how their mood depends….”
Julie is indeed “offended” notes Tolstoy.
She explains to Boris:
“it was true that a woman need variety, and the same thing over and over again would weary anyone…”
The “trees shed gloom.”
You can still see them out there.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
But familiarity breeds contempt, especially in plague time.

We chat on the stoop,
Trying to make sense of it all.

To and from,
Greg can’t make it to the beach.
Kids fighting with roommates.

The cracks on Ocean Ave remind us.
Waves of people sitting on benches watching the wheels,
Riding all afternoon.

The water at Brighton Beach,
Warm and winning.

Rainy skies to sunshine.
Kale and romaine growing on the roof garden,
Pointing us toward something better.

Cancer’s returned.
Hold on notorious RBG.
Hold on.

RIP John Lewis
one of the giants.
Marching through history.
I applied to seminary to be like him.
Soon afterward, I realized I could be more like him in jail.
I tried over and over, with dozens of arrests, none as long or as intense as his days and months in jail.
He made me proud to be from Georgia...
Something I don't feel much these days.
But we still have Jimmy, for who knows how long?
He inspired me to march and make good trouble.
RIP John
We’ll stay in the streets until the orange menace is gone.
Marching with John, who appealed to all of us in 1963:

[G]et into this great revolution that is sweeping this nation. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and hamlet of this nation until true freedom comes, until the revolution of 1776 is complete. We must get in this revolution and complete the revolution. For in the Delta in Mississippi, in southwest Georgia, in the Black Belt of Alabama, in Harlem, in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and all over this nation, the black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom.





















































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