Friday, August 21, 2020

“When the battle’s lost and won,” Macbeth and The Cure of Troy.

The Streets are alive in the Lower East Side. 

Treachery is everywhere.

At least that is how it’s felt the last few years,

with kids in cages on the border, presidential twitter a flaring.


It certainly looked that way to the witches in Macbeth:

“First Witch When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second Witch When the hurly-burly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.

Third Witch That will be ere the set of sun.

First Witch Where the place?

 Second Witch Upon the heath.

Third Witch There to meet with Macbeth.”


All week, we meet in parks.

Up to Stuyvesant Town, running into comrades.

The streets alive, people marching from Union Square.

Back to the Lower East Side.


We meet in the Gowanus, where we hang banners and talk to neighbors.

Hoping for a Jane Jacobs city, without so many towers.

#NoGowanusRezone, we declare hanging our banner.

The city supports its developers:

“…they are fulfilling a promise made to developers and their donors more than a decade ago. It is definitely more about greed and less about improving the lives of current residents who will have to live with the consequences of the largest up-zoning undertaken by the City under de Blasio, with 8,000 new apartment units and an estimated 20,000 new residents. All these people will be living near an EPA Superfund site, in a FEMA flood zone A.”


#NoDeveloperGiveaways, we insist.

There is another city out there, beyond this.


If we look far enough we can find it.

We ride through the city.

Through Woodside,

A few of us cycle out to visit the head of the police union,

 who endorsed Trump,

with a message to Pat Lynch and the PBA.

“This stops today.


Back through a magic place along the

Brooklyn Queens Greenway.

A light along the path, bodies moving, dancing,

Thinking, remembering last August.

When an old friend dropped by.

We chatted all day.

The Ditchdigger and I.

Drove upstate and made plans

And talked about John Cheever and Harold Bloom.

And then he left.

Not sure if any of us will meet again.

If we’ll get that chance again.


The waters crash on Brighton Beach.

I swim to the sail boats in the distance.

The warm water washes over me, swimming with the immigrants who have made this home.


On the beach, I read about Tsukuru Tazaki and his pilgrimage of friends lost and found,

From Tokyo to Helsinki, where

Murakami suggests:

“We survived. You and I. And those who survive have a duty. Our duty is to do our best to keep on living. Even if our lives are not perfect.”


The sun warms us.

And we wonder us if there was purpose, a way out.

Through the hills, the hot afternoons, the long summers.


The sun goes down.

Joe invokes Ella Baker and Seamus Heaney

Light into darkness.

Like the Book of Kells.

Poetry dancing with social movement,

Reminding of something moving forward.

Recalling pain and transforming it

That was the



“Human beings suffer.

They torture one another.

They get hurt and get hard.

No poem or play or song

Can fully right a wrong

Inflicted and endured.


History says, Don’t hope

On the side of the grave,’

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.


So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

It means once in a lifetime

That justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.”


“Let me make it plain,” wrote Kendall Thomas afterward,

“Any presidential candidate who begins her or his nomination acceptance speech by invoking the name of Ella Baker has my vote. Period.


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