Sunday, May 2, 2021

"I have a long-standing relationship with darkness" A Blog and Photo Essay in Five Parts, on COVID Blues, Parks for Poems, #FreetheFunds March, Mayday is Jayday, Jays for Jabs, #NoBkPipeline

"Parks are for Poems - Mayday is for poems... a rebirth of wonder, stories, heartbreak, hope, chaos, yearnings, liminal times in between this season and something else, this life and the next. With the death of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the opening of Spring, let us usher in the gods of words and anarchy, reimagining poetry as insurgent art." (Photo by Erik McGregor)

COVID Blues – Part I

I have a long-standing relationship with darkness.

She said it in bed over coffee.

I’m not languishing, I’m either happy or depressed.

But everyone is feeling it.

My brothers depressed.

Feels a lot.

Remembers, forgets, feels excluded.

Dad wounds

We wound.

He wounds.

Separation follows.

It goes on and on and on and on and on.


On good days, I’m out teaching and biking and interpreting the text that is New York.

A poem like no others.

Stories connecting streets and desires, union rallies and pot parades.

Dana is passing out jays at Union Square as he has been for five decades now,

Be-ins now and forever.

Everyday is mayday.

Mayday is jay day.

Everyone’s talking.


Evil developers contemplating skyrises.

Moloch, your buildings are violence.

Contenting with the vox populi

And the poets reminding us of a sunflower sutra, reading in the gardens, napping all afternoon long.

All week, we planned for it.

Talking about the freedom of assembly at Barbes on Tuesday.

Sitting at Lavender Lake on Thursday.

Everybody is feeling it.

His daughter won’t talk with him.

They got in a fight about vaccines.

Her first five years were in Santa Cruz.

Did you see the sealions on the sea rock, where I baptized her, he asked, sitting at the outdoor tables on Carroll Street,

I gave her that.

Now she won’t return my calls.

My daughter ghosted me.

What did I do?

I would love to get into it, he tells me.

Unfinished conversations here and there.

Few completed.


Some days the monotony hits us.

Others, the grief, the parent with covid,

The lingering sleepiness, drowsy mind.

The memories of the colleague who had brain cancer who came to visit us before he departed.

The colleague who worked with the homeless who left.

The high school classmate whose boyfriend found him at home, dead on the couch.

And we’re not quite out.


Do you have those fallings out with your friends, asked the teenager’s boyfriend after his roommates fought.

Every day, the ditchdigger who won’t speak with me after I violated the male code, betrayed a confidence.

Male heartache goes on and on. -

I think of my Dad’s old friend who rarely heard back from him and my colleague who didn’t like my review, and  the friend who descended into a year of isolation, still scared to get outside, his girlfriend now crying on the phone about our existential dilemma.  At least we’re talking again.

First talk in a year.

I have a long-standing relationship with darkness, mon amour says in bed.

I think we all do.

Rupert developed one when they caught in a queer tryst in Another Country.

We all do.

Desire and retribution.



Its not easy.

Debating accusations among mayoral candidates, Sarah Schulman explains:

 "Anyone can be accused of anything. Being accused should not be grounds for punishment. When claims are made in the context of a relationship, there is a story and stories can be told in very different ways…. I can’t believe it has become so verboten to state the obvious… We are living in a very punitive and moralistic time when what we need is complexity and accountability."

I'm disappointed with this life, says the little one, rain pouring when she wanted to skate.

Empty nest looms.

I feel like Eleanor Rigby.

Its starts to rain.

And then comes the pain.

I need to go.

I need to go, she says.

Out to Princeton, we all need each other.

Virginia is going.

One second,

She is here.

But so is cancer.

But she is quieter.

Less and less,

She was talking,

I walk outside.

When I came back in, she was gone.

Upstairs for another nap.

Another mirage, now an empty Sunday,

another empty Sunday.

Dad gone, David gone.

Too many this year.


Do you want a painful end or constant pain?

When I was young, I was happy when it rained.

I'm less so today.

I feel everything today.

You seem raw, says Caroline.

But the sun’s out today.

Maybe its time to shake it.


Parks Are for Poems, Mayday’s Jayday,

Part Two


“Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera.”

― says Erik, paraphrasing Pablo Neruda’s lines from La Primavera.

"They can cut all the flowers, but they cannot take the spring," says Erik.

Its mayday, the planet is teeming with energy.


Riding over the bridge after another clash with the teenager, I think of all the ghosts of Mayday,

Of police chasing McKinley's Ghost,

Of cries from the streets,

Marching here.

Thinking of decorating May poles and

Beltane at Le Petit Versailles in alphabet city.

At Union Square, the flags are out, red and black and green.

The Socialists are out to change control of the means of production.

The anarchists are conspiring to abolish the state.

And Dana, the last Yippee is giving a jays for Jabs.

Mayday is certainly Jayday.

Pot Smoke in the air.

People are celebrating legalization.

Legalize it said Peter Tosh.

Now it’s happening here, finally.

After jail sentences and arrests and a lifetime of smoke inns, maybe it’s finally his time?


JC meets me on Ave B.

Que pasa?

I got the blues.


Blues, then you




We don't do the drugs, we are the drugs.

We don't read them.

We are them.

We are the poems.

Babs joins us by the jays for jabs near the George Washington Statue.

And we talk about it all,

The blues and bluesology.

When the blues get you, you gotta talk to blues, says Huddie Ledbetter.

Others know him as Lead Belly.

But we're moving further and further away from the light.

Or maybe we just can’t see it.

There's always light.

Its Mayday.

Ann Lee reminds us, screaming, imploring us to see our interconnections:

"Ears on rise up rise up we can live a life of love not hate Together we remember in each other's company our strength 1 love united hearts and hands and minds we're wise, we rise we strike.... we strike, we thrive!!"

Mayday Is for Poems, afterall, I post in public call.

Parks are for Poems

El Jardin del Paraiso NYC

Mayday is for poems... a rebirth of wonder, stories, heartbreak, hope, chaos, yearnings, liminal times in between this, season and something else, this life and the next. With the death of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the opening of Spring, let us usher in the gods of words and anarchy, reimagining poetry as insurgent art. Bring a poem of your own or a friend, maybe a snack, a flower or an a hope for something abundant this spring. We'll be by the old treehouse, reading and lounging about.  Join us. xo Join us for a public space party on mayday and every day.


I pulled out as many poetry books as I could carry in my bags.

Still too scared to read my personal ones.

Maybe, one day.


"We've been doing these readings together since my dad died in 2014," I tell Brad, my friend from the Gowanus rezone fight.


We're trying to beat back the big boxes.

Today it’s with poems, in the old tree house at El Jardin, another mayday.

We’re tapping into that most primal of our energies.


“The fiery force is nothing more than the life force as we know it,” Harold Norse wrote about his poems. “It is the flame of desire and love, of sex and beauty, of pleasure and joy as we consume and are consumed, as we burn with pleasure and burn out in time.”


At El Jardin, all my friends are arriving.

Kids from New Alternatives.

Virginia from Rise and Resist.

Elizabeth from Esperanza, on and on.

Everyone sits around the tree-house.


"17" by Harold Norse, I read starting us out.

"Same streets, same faces, every day of my life," he wrote about his early days, his Coney Island moments before he met Chester and Auden and James and Allen and stayed at the Beat Hotel and lived in Rome and Venice Beach and San Francisco, on his way into everything.

Brennan read his "Solipsistic poem," from his James Franco series, waking us all us up, with his homage to poets and poems through time, revolutionary poems, love poems, up and down, hopes and possibilities.

My poems slipped under the window, he laments.

Its gone now, solipsistic pillow.

In a luminous sunflower dress, Virginia reads “Brokeheart: Just like that” by patrick-rosal:

The wood’s splitting. The hinges are

falling off. When the first bridge ends,

just like that, I’m a flung open door.”

A poem about aging and adapting.

Sometimes sadness is just what comes between the dancing. And bam!, my mother's dead and, bam!, my brother's children are laughing…”

Catherine follows with an homage to being a part of it all, everything, pulling out a poem we read last year during a quarantine book club moment:


By mary oliver

“I had a dog

who loved flowers.

Briskly she went

through the fields,”



“She adored every blossom.”



“…we long to be—

that happy

in the heaven of earth—

that wild, that loving..."


We are the poems, says JC.

Its beltrane.

The portal of the universe is open.

Its ok.

We go there.

We go there right now.

Poems and non poems.

We were riding, Babs and Ben and I were riding.

Do you have a poem, asked Ben.

You are the poem, its not a cop-out.

You are a poem.


Each anarchist gardener.

Each rise and resister.

Each holy skater

And surfer.

Yes, surfers are poets too, says Lawrence F.



Ann Lee reminds us to

cheer interconnectivity.

Love thy neighbor.

Cast away winner takes all talk.

We rise.

Love everyone.

See ourselves in everyone.


I am thinking about a Sunflower Jack and Allen found, competing with the locomotion as a sunflower sutre:

 “I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar,…wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these

entangled in your mummied roots—and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!”

I am thinking of that sphincter locomotive.

In the meantime, Catherine recalls a chance encounter between a poet and god:

Frank O'Hara "A-True-Account-Of-Talking-To-The-Sun-At-Fire-Island"

“The Sun woke me this morning loud

and clear, saying "Hey! I've been

trying to wake you up for fifteen

minutes.  Don't be so rude, you are

only the second poet I've ever chosen

to speak to personally

so why

aren't you more attentive? If I could

burn you through the window I would

to wake you up.  I can't hang around

here all day."

"Sorry, Sun, I stayed

up late last night talking to Hal."

"Sun, don't go!"  I was awake

at last.  "No, go I must, they're calling


"Who are they?"

Rising he said "Some

day you'll know.  They're calling to you

too."  Darkly he rose, and then I slept.”

You’re ok, you’re different… our days are a daydream… of consciousness…

Always remember to embrace things.

Go back to sleep Frank.


Wearing his ACT UP t shirt, Erik stands up to tell a story, thinking about his life.  It began with a a picture that came up on his phone, a facebook memory from years ago, his first pic with this blogger and this gang of cycling anarchists poets, dressed like polar bears in the Spring of 2010.

Catharine, Ben, Babs, Brennan, it brought a bit of joy to his heart… and the hang out that was occupy the next summer.

And how we manage to make poetry and keep going.

They may now down the flowers, but they can’t mow down the spring, he says, paraphrasing

Oda a la primavera by Pablo Neruda, first in Spanish, then English.:


“The bird has come

to give us light:

from each of its trills

water is born.

Between water and light, air unfolds.

Now the spring’s inaugurated.”

Last year, all that isolation, and now we’re back.

Down is up,

Up is down.

All the poems remind us of those in between spaces.


Everyone is telling stories now.

Adventures of Berlin here.

Quiet moments there.

Brennan Cavanaugh stands up to share his poem about a friend of ours:



By Brennan Cavanaugh

“when a stranger asks you

what’s wrong with your friend

and you say I don’t know

what’d you do to piss him off…

and the pyschotropic fireplug

dances off on a short string

like a teenage genie faeirie

making the stranger

peel off in unreal fits…

that’s the symbol

of a great being,

one who wears a crown of eyes

beset with skeptical lenses.

we almost lost him when

he delivered himself in person

to the fire station

requesting a heart operation

you know you are dealing

with someone stellar

problematic stellar.

psychedelic alley cat

he’ll yowl at you for

his heart attack

and then leave you

but when he comes back

the love is still there, visceral,

stored in basements

with the moldy records

a little scabbed treasure

With the petey shaps

you are dancing with acrobats

an acerbic cowboy, urban…

the most unlikely cheerleader

there won’t be another

honey bear in headdress.

I’ll put this poem in a treehole

seal it up with tar

and years from now

when it’s knots cut down for condos

people will question, who

who do we know like that,

no one, will they, ever. A glass.”


A poem about friends lost and found, it’s the highlight of my day.

With each day and each poem, it gets more personal, reminding us, we can forgive each other and chart new paths.


Brad reminds us of

“17 ways to carve up Kazakhstan” reflecting the day after his second jab.

Perhaps I am not going to die, he gushes. 
Maybe we’re going to make it.

Wendy welcomes all of us, with one more poem:

“Today I guarded the street

- I tipped two tables over & made it sweet

·  now in the garden - over the top with friends & all around, outpourings of creative love.


Ave B to el Jardin..”


Each story gets more personal,

And even silly.

Story after story.

What lines stick with you, I ask.

More kids drop by.

Youth from New Alternatives,

Stories about giving trees.

Sitting in our tree, still holding us, after Sandy battered her.

Brennan reminds us we can still laugh, reciting the immortal words:

Fuck the Pain Away

Song by Peaches

“Suckin' on my titties like you wanted me,

Callin me, all the time like blondie

Check out my chrissy behind

It's fine all of the time

Like sex on the beaches,

What else is in the teaches of peaches? huh? what?

Suckin' on my titties like you wanted me,

Callin me, all the time like blondie

Check out my Chrissy behind

It's fine all of the time

What else is in the teaches of peaches?

Like sex on the beaches. huh? what?

huh? right. what? uhh.

huh? what? right. uhh.

huh? what? right. uhh.

huh? what? right. uhh.”


On we chuckle in the garden, sitting in the old giving tree, open to us all, old friends, estranged friends drop by, Elizabeth with a story of La Luna, and others, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 

Part Three
#Free the Funds.
Andrea Vásquez sent us  a call:

CUNY colleges have been allocated more than $891 million in federal stimulus funds that can be used for institutional purposes related to the pandemic! CUNY management has failed to put forward a plan to use the stimulus money to reverse the cuts of the past year and protect our health and safety. Instead they’re clinging to their austerity playbook, even refusing to bargain with the union over laid-off adjuncts‘ rights to resuming benefits like health insurance if they are rehired. 

The State budget is better than it’s been in years. CUNY colleges are each receiving tens of millions of dollars from the federal government. We’re accepting no excuses for CUNY’s fake austerity.

Where to Meet Us

We’ll meet in front of the CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave.) at 4 PM today for a short rally before we march to the CUNY central administration building at 205 E. 42nd St. Along the way, we’ll stop to protest in front of the Governor’s office building and in front of the Third Avenue affiliate of AMG, the multi-billion-dollar “asset management company” where the CUNY Chancellor sits on the Board.

Bring a drum, tambourine or any other percussive noisemaker. Bring a pot and a spoon to bang, if that’s what you’ve got! No whistles or wind instruments, please. 

Remember your mask. Masks and social distancing are required, even if you’re fully vaccinated. 


See you soon!

Andrea Vásquez

 Joints For Jabs 2

And pictures for poems. 

Scenes from Mayday. 

Part Four

Today at 2pm in Union Square, bring your vaccination card for a free joint! Press release here!


WHAT: Joints For Jabs 2
WHEN: Sat, May 1, 2:00PM - 4:20PM ET
WHERE: South Side of Union Square Park near George Washington statue
WHO: Marijuana/Healthcare Advocates + ACT UP NY
TRAINS: 4,5,6,L,N,R,Q,W to 14th St. Union Square
**Please wear a mask and social distance at this and all times in public**

May 1, 2021 – New York, NY – Today in New York City’s Union Square Park, like they did on 4/20, marijuana and healthcare activists will be giving out a free marijuana joint to each person over 21 who shows proof of Covid vaccination. The action occurs after the annual Cannabis Parade starting at 11AM at 31st St and Broadway before making its way down to Union Square Park.

The giveaway follows the initial, hugely successful Joints For Jabs event that distributed marijuana joints to over 1000 people on 4/20. “Joints For Jabs 1 was so successful that we want to continue the program through the summer to encourage vaccination among medicinal and recreational marijuana users and young people,” said Brandon Cuicchi (he/him) of ACT UP NY (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), the longtime AIDS activist group and one of the organizers of the event. “Now that vaccine demand is slowing, it’s clear that vaccines will need to go where people already congregate such as parks and public spaces in order to reach them.”

Organizers are in talks with New York City’s Department of Mental Health and Hygiene (DOHMH) about bringing Covid vaccination to future Joints For Jabs events. Advocates hope to use the innovative approach to incentivize young people to get vaccinated. “We know that young people are hesitant to get the Covid vaccine, especially if their families are, so rather than relying on the fear of getting Covid, we want to encourage them to get vaccinated in a positive way,” said Kellen Gold (they/them) of ACT UP NY.

Activists are looking forward to a summer program of Joints For Jabs events in the city and to important marijuana legislation beyond. They are calling on Mayor De Blasio to support legislation allowing municipal grow of cannabis on currently vacant lots in New York City. The legislation would pave the way for the city to donate vacant land to local cannabis growers to provide free or low-cost marijuana to the community, including people who use it medicinally.

About ACT UP: Founded in 1987, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. ACT UP NY currently meets every Monday night via zoom.


No North Brooklyn Pipeline
Part Five

We got rained out but we’re coming back!! Sunday May 2nd, 2pm @ McCarren Park, corner of Bayard & Leonard Tell your friends and communities: 🔥 show up to protect Brooklyn from the NoNBK pipeline #nonbkpipeline We’re asking @fdny to help us shut down National Grid’s fracked gas expansion! 🔥 show up in solidarity with the fight to protect Indigenous land, water, and treaty rights from the Line 3 pipeline #stopline3 Art work by @andrea_ladida from @maydaycomix get your wheels ready, or plan to come to a shorter march portion  🚴‍♀️🛼👩‍🦽🚘  Meeting at Sternberg Park (Montrose & Leonard) ETA 3pm to march a few blocks to the Line 3 action. No Pipelines On Stolen Land  ✊ see you in the streets soon!  🔥🔥🔥 @indigenouskinshipcollective @frackouttabk @bvillegreen @nonbkpipeline 


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