Monday, November 2, 2020

Trembling with Fear, Screaming with Joy…Beneficial Succession, Regeneration Culture into the Stars #CountEveryVote, RIP Diane di Prima



Rain poured all morning.

I rode from Brooklyn, looking at the city on the water, wondering about our fate,

from Chinatown through the East Village, poems and murals everywhere.

On my way out to see friends,

chatting about our illness and hopes.

Plagues and test results

Two percent positive,

When its three percent we all close.

Election around the corner.


I’m thinking of Hettie and Leroy,

Allen and Jack.

Diane di Prima and the girls she left at Swarthmore to come here.

Renting an apartment, creating a life, the friends she brought over, one after another,

Each encounter a story.

Each evening a poem.

All summer I read her and then the memoirs of Hettie Jones and Samuel Delaney, exploring the beat days of the East Village. There are still more to come. But for the stories you told us, the liaisons you turned into poems, the people you embraced, still linger in the East Village night.   

These are the good old days.

Rain poured in Chinatown and I looked for Diane. 

I thought of Mark Gerse, who was shuffled off earlier in the week.

Paul  Cherashore wrote about that moment….

“ on a beautiful Lower Hudson Valley fall afternoon, surrounded by loved ones, in the middle of a small grove of trees. Allan gave a …eulogy, framing Mark's commitment to the health and welfare of drug users and the downtrodden… the early 90s. A woman .. read a moving poem by Mark's LES friend Tito Lespier, and …. Erin talked lovingly about their long friendship…. …to go back to the earth.”


Diane seemed somewhere else beyond…as well as here on the way to Grace Exhibition Space

 where MoS Collective: The Masters Of Succession

was holding a meetup on Halloween EVE at 5:30 pm
“For Gratitude, Stories & performance offerings.
MoS Labs is culminating a 6 month residency at Grace Exhibition Space.”

We’d meet at Grace for closing remarks, gratitude stories by dd and JK Canepa.

Dee Dee Maucher wanted “to say thank you to Jill & Hoke for this space and to those who shared experiences here over this challenging time.”

  She reminded us: “We have supported one another and hopefully grown and adapted with beneficial succession. Let’s gather those of us who participated in these offerings on the plaza of Grace— from growing community kale, tomatoes and basil to healing earth and selves by walking through the 6 chapters in the MoS MoBS LoBS Lab journey Microbes to Metropolis.”


When I arrived,

 JC was MCing.

“Loisaida  or over the other sida?” wondered JC.


“This is the last day” says Deedee, offering thanks, tracing a story of succession and survival.

“She came to the overwater world.

To our world, she was very sick at the Earth Dance sauna.

Guiding us, me through the resurgence.

Another moment where she was thinking of Chronos.


I’m thinking of Diane de Palma and Tito Lespier, another poet I knew here.

God knows where he is now.


It’s a Spanish soap opera, says JC.


Phase I

How to get to a better place.

Regenerative lifestyle, is a practice

Heal ourselves and the East.


Phase II

Through this art comes my understanding.


Phase III

The relationship, sharing needs

Connecting, relying on each other.

More connected to each other.

The East Village Healing Circle

Now everyone is becoming quite close.

It’s like the Ephemera Piazza, a place where we meet, flirt, watch.

That’s where relationships are built.


Phase IV

Asset analysis.

Creative stories.

With Greenmaps and Wendy.

Map the East Village


Ask people where are their favorite places

Find things we can give away.


Look at the sun, water, permaculture


Phase V

Dreams with Margaret, they guide us through.

Then we come into the doodle world, an elevated bike path, opening into an ancient creek, connecting the East River to Tompkins.


Do what you want and need.

Remember it’s about water and soil.

It comes down to creating beneficial succession

Terra preta, dark fertile soil made by a village.



Built soil over the centuries.


The future still ready.

Come do that without selves, built and build and build

We can be different.


Phase VI

We can imagine it.

The future

Pick a character and walk the map.

Don’t limit our real life.

I can’t say how much it meant to have you drop by.

Sometimes, just to say hi

Thanks so the Compos Garden folks.”


Dee Dee finished.

Others stood to talk for Microbes to Metropolis Goodbye.

Thinking of the mutual aid we found, the stories in the gardens.

Under the trees where we meet each other.

The abundant fall leaves everywhere, under the moon.

I have to get to Brooklyn to say goodbye to the Ditchdigger and the boys at Barely Disfigured.

JC gives me the mic.

I find myself talking about Diane, standing outside Grace Gallery on Ave C,

Thinking about the stars.

Recalling her many loves, many lives here.

Thinking about succession.

And the kindness we sometimes see after the storms, from NOLA to Loisaida.

Light a candle and drink little rum during a blackout, says Sonia.

Talk with neighbors.

Share what we have.

Tell stories as Diana did, as the giving trees do, their roots and leaves that turn to books and stories and her many loves, her boys, her kids, her weekends with friends staying over.

Her stories, poems, screaming with joy.  


“There are as many kinds of kisses as there are people on earth,” says di Prima in Memoirs of a Beatnik, bodies mixing, a furious energy, howling epiphanies into the night.

“…there are permutations and combinations of those people. No two people kiss alike—no two people fuck alike—but somehow the kiss is more personal, more individualized than the fuck.”


“This should continue,” says JK.

“…you sensed one of tonight's themes intuitively: saying goodbye, as you did to Diane DiPrima. I had no idea you had her in mind all summer, and then she just left us.

So in the spirit of Dee Dee's passing the key on, I was asking for a goodbye story. That opens many possibilities. (As it shuts one door.)

The other two questions I was going to pose:

1. "What I meant to say was...." (a/k/a "What I shoulda said.....")


2. Can't explain it but it really did happen. (Some mystery that befell you and shook your world view, your concept of reality.)

In any case this reminds me of the rants that Ben used to hold….

 Ben always gets in, far as I'm concerned.

Kind of like booking a night in El Coqui 21 years ago. Only 2, perhaps 3 allowed to sleep in the frigid frog. I kept the sign-up sheet. That's why I have such a big list of emails.”

So much fun to see everyone... and back into the trees on warm days.


Woke up Saturday

still trembling with excitement about the evening.

Planning to say goodbye to the fisherman at Grand Army Plaza,

The dozens of people who worked with him at 545 AM every morning, each Saturday, all of us meeting there, greeting friends year after year.

Marching bands passed under the arch,

Kids in costumes,

Meeting here and there and back for

Halloween bonfires with my buddies.

Sparks flying into the air.

The Barely Disfigured buddies off to Mexico until the waters calm.


Sunday morning, moody stroll through Red Hook.

The teenager and I walked through these streets after Sandy flooded the neighborhood eight years prior, before a mass pandemic stole our fortunes, robbing her, lives, decimating music, culture rising, ebbing and falling, democracy on the ropes.


Looking at Lady Liberty in the water in the distance.  

Hoping we can move back from the abyss.

Move back to trusting each other again, move back to solidarity.

Move back from the brink.

Thousands of words spilled over what we’ve lost in the last four years, polarization rising, democracy and public trust receding.

On and on and on.

Fear and trembling.

Hoping to save our democracy

And ourselves from a sickness.


Walking along the waterfront, we stop at a bookstore on Van Brunt.

Pick up some poetry and stroll past the left-over Halloween decorations.

Thinking of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Starting Point San Francisco”:


“very grave, very tall,

Strange skeleton-

Who Stole America?”

asks the bard.


“Myself I saw in the window reflected.”


That’s the question.

And the answer.


I guess its always been us.

The problem and the solution.

We have seen the enemy and he is us.


“I don’t vote,” says one woman in Pennsylvania.

“I’m leaning that way,” says another.

They want to turn callers away.

Democracy is on trial, possibly slipping away.


In Reading PA Trump says “If we win on Tuesday or — thank you very much, Supreme Court — shortly thereafter…".


Everyone is planning against a Coup.

Texas Supreme Court denies Republicans' petition to throw out over 100,000 ballots in Harris County cast through curbside voting.


One day to go.

Election day is tomorrow.


Kate Barnhart writes:

“Things to keep in mind:

1) Don’t expect to know who won the election on tuesday.

2) Republicans are more likely to vote in person than democrats, so tuesday’s results will look redder than they are until the other ballots are counted.

3) Trump seems to be planning to declare himself the winner during the period before all the votes are counted and then try to stop the counting. Don’t fall for it.”


Lets keep it simple.

Three simple words: “count every vote!”


From there, can we reimagine what we’ve been?

Can we invest in ourselves?

Can we think about books and education and a public sphere or will austerity continue?

Can we end the war?

Against us? 

Or do we even have a future?

As Umar Harque writes:

“The best investment a society can make is in itself. In people. In their various kinds of capital, financial, emotional, social, human, if you want to put in economic terms. American politics is that way mostly based on a set of myths. Those myths say: we should never invest in each other. That mistake is why and how America collapsed. What Europe and Canada have proven, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is that investing in itself is the single smartest thing a society can do. Investing in its education, retirement, healthcare, childcare, and so forth. What isn’t as good an investment? Everything else. Guns, bombs, rockets. Banks and hedge funds. Even gadgets and technology. All of these things pale in comparison to the stunning returns of simply investing in the very people that make up a society.

When societies don’t make that investment, what happens? There isn’t some kind of middle ground, a stable state in between. Either you prosper — or you collapse. If you don’t invest in yourself, in people, if people don’t invest in one another, what happens is America. People grow poor and desperate, their social bonds come apart, and they turn to demagogues, who lead them blindly to hate as a result. The choice maybe isn’t binary, but it is bimodal: the world is now divided into badly failing states, like America and Russia, and prospering ones, like Canada and Europe.”


Can we find ourselves again?

Can we find a voice for this anguish?

Audre Lorde reminds us:

I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you.... What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language."



RIP Sean


The good folks at San Energy Project remind us:
"Last Monday, 5 more courageous community members were arrested for shutting down construction of the North Brooklyn Pipeline. Over the past two weeks, a total of 12 people have been arrested for locking down to the pipeline or other parts of the construction site. These direct actions to halt construction were supported by dozens of community members from the No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition, Frack Outta BK and the Brownsville Residents Green Committee. We also received a tidal wave of support from thousands of people across New York City who want to join the fight. And we are still fighting to halt construction and stop National Grid from raising our monthly bills to pay for their racist fracked gas pipeline. And we need everyone to get involved! Donate to legal and supply funds Join the fight."


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