We Took A Beating Today

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I read the news,

it was awful,

filled up with views

made me want to ‘manafort’

 

my breakfast, lunch and dinner,

so I chose not to eat

the garbage being spewed,

drank clean water all day instead.

 

We watched a conservative rally,

full arms and gusto

no more of this sally

way toward democracy bust-o.

 

I wonder about tomorrow,

the next day, thereafter

how do we get past the bullshit,

this scenario we are so not after.

 

Whose the minority now,

who’s pulling the strings

one clown with orange hair

seems awfully happy to be king.

 

I stole away from my anger

stood outside in the breeze

looked to the stars for an answer

a Strawberry Moon was my gaze.

 

I only bring this up to say good night,

beyond the hypocrisy of the day,

when we do look out into the night

sky we are all dependent on the same light.

 

Cast your eyes upon the moon,

for forever will be yours too soon.

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Why I attended a Trump rally

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AMSOIL arena – Duluth


I was recently given tickets to attend the Trump rally in Duluth, Minnesota last night. Given the controversy around the issues occurring on our southern border, I felt like this was my closest opportunity I might have to put myself in a place to show resistance to his actions and the impact he is having on our society and populace. I thought just being part of the gathering of protesters would be sufficient to try to get my point across. I brought a couple of signs with me, that I wanted to hold in rallying support of the opposition. IMG_9316

This billboard stayed in my car because attendees were not allowed to bring signage into the convention. I actually had visions of someone taking a bat to the back window of my car where I had it visually placed, but we parked quite a distance away from the rally so it was not noticeable. I believe that merits the experience I had at this, my first presidential rally. I brought a former student of mine, a decade past his graduation, someone I knew had similar views to my own. We talked about what we were about to experience, but really frankly had no idea what we were about to encounter.

In all honesty, I genuinely believed if I found myself in the arena I would find similar minded people to rally around as we listened to 45 spout the same rhetoric he has for the entirety of his presidency. I was never so wrong in my life. We encountered protesters along the way, in fact, delightfully I ran into another former student holding a wonderful sign of protest – a biblical verse – Matthew 25:34-46. I made it clear to her I had tickets to go inside, but I was on the side of the protesters. We caught up for a few moments, I took her picture and told her there would be a lot of people back home, happy to see her posture on this day. The response from social media indicated I was correct.

This morning, in reflection on the experience, I do believe if I had just driven up to protest I would have been completely satisfied on one level. Having tickets to go inside the arena and experience the rhetoric from 45 is one thing; however, the greater takeaway as my companion pointed out was the mob-mentality of the audience.There was absolutely nothing this leader of our country could say that would diminish the rabid nature of the crowd’s reaction to his every word.

I suppose in reality that is a normal reaction to a crowd of supporters. There was just something different about this energy, and that is what I struggled with for the entire time we were in the convention. We left about fifteen minutes before the end because I frankly could not stomach any more of the speech. Again he talked about similar topics of his concern – numbers in attendance, creating more jobs for African-Americans, the fake-news media section that he encouraged his audience to provide a unifying roar of boos and catcalls, and of course a chant of ‘lock her up’ to get the crowd on the same page. In addition he was adamant toward making a point of isolating any protesters that he then had promptly escorted out of the convention.

At one point he criticized a long-haired protester, asking whether he was a man or woman, telling him to go back home to his mom and get a haircut. I was a little concerned the people I am close to in my life, might fear it was me because I presently have long hair, but it wasn’t me – I was the one standing nearby that kept my eyes down for the majority of the speech and occasionally would clap three or four times so those around me wouldn’t get a sense that I wasn’t there for the right reasons. He once asked the news media to pan the crowd, and I diligently stooped down and pretended to tie my shoes. I was wearing sandals.

That is what I was truly most nervous about, becoming exposed. This was no environment to oppose the speaker, I mean, even a look in the eye felt like exposure, and I did fear for my safety. This is the first presidential convention I have ever attended, but I do not think that is a normal attendee reaction no matter the side of the fence their views might land. (Perhaps people will now reference the Democratic convention of 1968 in Chicago and rightfully so, but was that about party or their angst toward the police at the time? I was nine years old, I only remember the television coverage and some horrific story about Dan Rather’s behavior in a taxi ride.) I watched the room lather with 45’s constant berating nature and bully tactics that were not presidential in any regard.

His speech was about him and his accomplishments thus far. Yes, one can argue that he has made strides with North Korea, but we really don’t know the long term impact, outside of the hostages being released, that is huge. But beyond that what is the impact? There were no reassuring words on his part, in fact at one point he said, ‘maybe it won’t work, we just don’t know.’ My student at that point  said to me later I think that is the first time he had ever heard Trump go back on a declarative statement. I couldn’t argue.

We decided to leave around 10 or 15 minutes before he finished, partly because I was feeling anxious and partly because we weren’t hearing anything new, and we knew the crowd control was going to be crazy leaving. I said to my companion, I could feign a heart issue in the event people questioned our departure but beyond specific glares and questionable expressions, we were free to leave early.

We got outside and found a good amount of protesters awaiting the end of the convention. I won’t say thousands because that wouldn’t be true, but there were numbers, and despite feeling like that is where I should have been standing, a part of me was glad I did stand inside to experience the speech. Here’s why.

I’ve always believed it is important to listen to both sides. I was raised in a family that supported both sides of the ticket and were always able to dialogue about all the relevant issues no matter the stance. I don’t believe in the vision of Donald Trump. I think it is a sham and he has no idea what the ramifications of his rhetoric have on our society. Or maybe he does, and if that is the case, that is an even scarier prospect. He made a comment last night about no families being split up at the border last night, and I haven’t read the news today, and I have no comment on that, all I can do is think about the weeks before hand – the damage is done.

In conclusion, it was the mindset of the people walking into the arena that frightened me more than anything else. I saw a young woman of no more than twenty wearing an American flag that blended into a confederate flag. Why?!? IMG_9321What is it we are trying to create in our society today? What is it this man is doing to the sanctity of our country that is built around the tenet of supporting everyone, no matter their background, or religious affiliation or color of their skin?

 

 

I’m generalizing now, so it is time to finish my point.  Ironically, I’m listening to David Bowie’s ‘This Is Not America’ as I write my last words.

So why did I attend this convention? I was given tickets. I live less than 200 miles away. I wanted first hand to see how we are reacting to this man’s hand on our country’s rewards and ills, and last night I experienced that fraction of populace that supports his ideals. Correct, he is our president, my president and as an American I am asked to respect the office of the POTUS, but listening to a man simply try to lather a crowd with ill meant rhetoric and sad commentary on our society while constantly patting himself on the back is not what is going to lead us in the right direction. The reality of this movement leaves me scared and bewildered.

I can only be grateful that I was in the audience with a mindful companion, because quite frankly I don’t know how I might have handled being in the AMSOIL arena in Duluth alone.

Thanks for listening, and for anyone questioning my loyalties or political leaning, trust me they haven’t changed, if anything they have been strengthened. Let’s go forward … somehow.


Pictures are my own

‘Speechless’ by The Moving Co.

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Last night we went to see the play ‘Speechless’ performed by The Moving Company at The Lab Theater in downtown Minneapolis. I wanted to see the show (Best Play of 2017 – StarTribune) because it is being produced by former members of Theatre De Le Jeune Lune, namely, created by Steven Epp and directed by Dominique Serrand. In reading a preview I was further intrigued by the premise, no words, only movement interwoven in the music of Brahms, Schubert & Tchaikovsky.

In reading the synopsis, “SPEECHLESS follows five brave souls as they navigate through grief, loss, and disbelief” -The Moving Company, I found I was immediately drawn by the history and creative nature of Jeune Lune and these players’ ability to demonstrate an avenue of experimental theatre often missed by many, but for those that dare, the reward outstanding. Last evening was no exception.

The night began with the company of players, five actors walking out into the stage, and intermingling with the audience while the lights slowly fade, their expressions all appearing earnest and welcoming, almost lonely in their need to connect, to only simply, say something. One actor as they centered, slowly opened his mouth for a certain utterance, and then simply backed away in pained disbelief. They all then lighted accordingly began their performance with the music moving their soul.

What transpired over the next 90 minutes was rather incredible in this relevant statement upon our society and its loss of ‘hope’ as would be one of the only tangible motifs I could easily draw conclusion upon. Throughout certain movement and precise acuity the actors then told the story of a society lost, grieving, finding relief, looking for motion, looking for someway to seek comfort inside a world of crumbling and disheveled chaos that only continued to unravel. Everything they touched seemed to fall away and even shatter in literal testament of the destruction their lives would now endure.

Yet, the beauty of ‘Speechless’ is that as their world tore apart, they kept finding ways to mend, even realizing that while the best of their world lay in fragments if they brought their energy together, there then, people could somehow find some new grounding to within the magic of the human condition piece together their lives.

Through a remarkable array of dance, acrobatics, layered meaning and finally the utterance of body and soul that had me imagining Pink Floyd’s ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ the players slowly found themselves together and with the meaning of hope, they did discover spring again, and planting seeds finished the night in a spectacular rainbow of meaning that showed the audience, once again, love is everything.

This is certainly a special piece of theatre playing through the 10th of June. If you are curious, I assure you, there is reason to find out why. Go.

I Looked In Their Hearts Today

I didn’t tell them as much,

you never can,

well you might,

I might occasionally want to shout,

I want them to know

I love them,

we love them,

there’s a lot of love when each one of them

walks inside my classroom.

 

I wanted to reach them today,

they couldn’t really feel the fear,

their days spent removed, fortunate,

isolated from the fury

that suddenly deadened their peers,

people they’ll never meet

one day they could have

if life had allowed

worlds to continue

beyond a gunshot, a bullet, the pain.

 

I wonder what goes through the mind of a student,

when miles away, sometimes blocks,

when it occurs

again,

and again and again and again,

and then there’s no tomorrow,

I wander through the streets hoping to find

a reason to say

you are completely safe,

but I can’t always say that,

I couldn’t say it today,

and I wanted to

say it to each one of them,

each one walking through my

classroom door.

I want you to know you are safe.

 

I can’t always say it though,

at least not today,

they’d think I was lying,

they read the news,

they know they’re not completely

safe.

They know,

much more than I will ever know.

Be A Racist, It’s Ok, It’s 2017

I walked into a nightmare today,

names were dropped, words were tossed,

I couldn’t get past an,

an, an, an,

omission of a hopeful anomaly,

that turned awful, horrific, debatably

ludicrous,

seemed we were all so frivolous,

funny, fanatics.

Seemed we were all lost in the comfort of our

WHITE PRIVILEGE!

White privilege regarded itself,

and no one else really mattered.

All the doors were closed,

we all looked at each other,

nobody cared, nobody cared,

nobody,

anyone within a couple of feet with

the ability to see and hear might have thought,

wait a second,

I thought it was the 21st century,

the 21st century – 2017.

Years beyond the days when civil rights

meant understanding there was a need to change,

a need to understand,

a time to respond to the changing mind,

and realize, realize,

real eyes would be watching now,

more cognizant, more genuine …

Have you noticed all the bi-racial advertising,

I mean there’s nothing wrong with it,

just advertising meeting a market,

nothing wrong with it,

the windows are all closed.

Nobody knows,

‘the trouble I’ve seen’,

the long and winding road …

Old man river,

and its four decades later,

we’re still safe though,

nobody heard the word said out loud,

except,

oh wait,

except, except, except,

accept responsibility,

we all heard it and we need all to

open the doors and try to squeeze through,

because we have suddenly narrowed

nearly a half century of effort.

But its ok,

the doors all remain closed.

Simple, right?

 

Breathing Slow Dreams

It is when we want to cry,

the sound will not come,

its expanse,

fills our lungs to capacity,

short breaths,

quiet realities,

keeps us moving through a storm,

taking a moment,

a gasp,

yet still there is a desire to find more,

know a place we might settle in,

get perspective,

develop a plan,

learn to let go,

let go, let go, let go

of my infernal panic drawn by circumstance,

mixed with pride,

lost in ego,

until someone decides they might listen.

Only, we can never know,

when the right time is,

when the chance to breathe,

becomes the right idea of purpose,

compassion,

righteous knowledge,

entitlement.

Then again,

and again and again and again,

breathe deep the …

another lyric away from

recognizing the purity of our own sweet

sanity.

I Cannot Move

I try

sometimes,

my energy propels me to a different place,

a satisfying luxury,

less common than I’d like to be,

yet it always happen,

the current,

the arms and hands and legs and

the talons

always seem to covet me,

without asking I might suggest, maintain, incite,

a certain flavor of dependency,

speaks to my purpose,

and it’s there I begin to play with

lunacy.

I wonder sometimes,

if it would be that easy,

lose my mind, become homeless, live in a street,

I wonder if I would worry quite as much as I do today,

when it seems I walk right past

the mirror.