each leaf in the current
spills ripples behind
expanding contours of your memory
fitted to a stranger’s form
if it is you
I can say no longer
your vernal light pervades
each autumn I am
towed by the space of your reverie
(worn by the taste of your words)
if there is rhythm you breathe
if there is timbre you burn
if there is colour you bloom
more vibrant by the absence I cannot trace
flowing as an out-cast prayer
growing to the hour’s edge
come all the leaves brought down in autumn fury
in the wake of you I follow
sunsets streaming on the course
each leaf in the current
dreams of ripples
so I can sleep
Almost unbelievably, another story is breaking on a national level about an African American in the state of Florida who is the victim of the racist “Stand Your Ground” laws. Just like Marissa Alex…
"Three years ago my son Michael was attacked outside of a club in Tallahassee, FL. His attacker admitted in open court that he attacked Michael with no provocation"
His attacker admitted in open court that he attacked Michael with no provocation
Race Reversal: A Hypothetical Scenario Of What Would Happen If Trayvon Martin Were White And George Zimmerman Were Black, And Why Race Has Everything To Do With The Case
If you don’t understand how deeply and viciously racist has been the official and right-wing reaction to the murder of Trayvon Martin, all you have to do is consider what would have been the official and right-wing reaction had the races of Martin and his killer been reversed.
Imagine a lanky white teenager was walking in a strange neighborhood at night. He’s a good kid—according to one of his teachers “an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness"—although he’s not above making the foolish teenaged mistake of getting caught with an empty baggie with marijuana residue inside it. But he has no criminal record. The worst anyone can say about him is that he smokes some pot, which puts him in the company of nearly half of all American high school students, something more than half of all American adults would legalize. But he’s a good student and has no criminal record. In other words, he’s a pretty typical teenager. A good kid.
Then one night this typical teenager is walking alone in a strange neighborhood, munching on some junk food and talking on his cell phone. And remember that we’re reversing the races here, so now he’s a white kid walking alone in a strange neighborhood, and it’s a black man who steps out of an SUV and starts following him. A black man who outweighs the teen by nearly a hundred pounds. A black man who steps out of an SUV, pulls up a hoodie, and starts following the teen. The kid tells his friend on the cell phone that someone is following him. He tells her because he doesn’t understand why someone is following him. He’s nervous. He’s just walking along, munching on junk food, and someone has started following him.
Finally, he decides to confront the guy. Even though he is nervous, he probably can’t imagine that simply walking in a strange neighborhood would lead to someone shooting him dead. He’s standing up for himself, but the thought of violence, the thought of gunfire, doesn’t even enter his head. But when he confronts the big guy who had been following him, and asks why he has been following him, the big guy pulls a gun. It happens so suddenly, the teen probably barely has time to realize that something serious is now happening. This was just an innocent evening stroll, a big guy had started following him for no reason, and now his life is being threatened. This was just an innocent evening stroll, and now he’s looking at a gun. Pointed at him. By a big guy who had been following him for no reason. A big guy who now shoots him dead.
Three witnesses later report having heard the boy’s desperate cry for help. The police report (pdf) says he was found face down, with his hands under him. He was carrying no weapon. He was carrying no drugs. He was carrying the type of junk food typical teenagers carry. In our reversal of races scenario, the story then is that a lanky white teen was walking in a strange neighborhood, snacking on junk food, talking to a friend on his cell phone, when a large black man stepped out of an SUV, started following him, frightened him, and shot him dead. Imagine the reaction.
Now suppose we find out that the teen’s killer had a history of race-based paranoia. Suppose we find out that the teen’s killer’s neighbors had complained of his aggressive behavior. Suppose we find out that the teen’s killer had once been arrested for “resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer.” Suppose we find out that the teen’s killer that night had ignored a police dispatcher who had told him to stop following the teen. And suppose that after all that, the much larger black man who had stepped out of an SUV, pulled up a hoodie, and started following the white teen had ended up shooting the white teen dead. What would have been the official response? What would have been the right-wing reaction?
Would a police officer have tried to coach a witness to change her story? Would the local state attorney and police chief have overruled even the lead homicide investigator, who recommended that the killer be charged with manslaughter? Would the police have neglected even to give the killer a routine drug and alcohol test? Would the police have neglected to contact whomever the kid was talking to on the phone just moments before he was shot, ignored the witnesses who contradicted the killer’s story, and later reported that the killer had been bloodied in a confrontation with the dead teen, even though the real time reports suggested no such thing, and even though the police surveillance video shows the killer had no discernible wounds or discomfort, and even though the funeral director who prepared the dead teen’s body for burial says there was no evidence he had been in a fight?
If Trayvon Martin had been white and George Zimmerman black, this would not have become a national story. If they had reported it at all, the right-wing media would have praised Martin for trying to stand his ground before a dangerous violent thug. It defies credulity to think they would be dismissing the killer’s behavior, making despicable excuses such as blaming the kid’s clothing, or if— unthinkable in this reversing-the-races scenario—there had been no criminal charges filed against the killer, dismissing the story altogether. The questions here don’t even need answers. The questions answer themselves.
Had Trayvon Martin been white and George Zimmerman black, Zimmerman would be headed for death row. Right-wing media would be hailing Martin as a hero. A martyr who had stood his ground against a dangerous predator. They would be saying that it’s too bad Martin hadn’t somehow fought back against Zimmerman, and that if he had somehow succeeded in fighting a man so much larger than him, it would have been justifiable if he had left Zimmerman dead.
There is no polite way to explain what has happened. There is no polite way to explain the reflexive defensive rationalizations by the right-wing media and their right-wing fans. This was a racist killing with a racist cover-up and the right wing’s reaction has been virulently and viciously racist. To understand the depth of the right wing’s racist depravity, all it takes is to consider the very different reaction to this horror had the races of the victim and his killer been reversed.
Welcome to post-racial America.
Yoo Jae-myung, animation director of The Legend of Korra, discusses Nickelodeons initial hesitancy to accept Mike and Bryans proposal of the show… and Korra.
“The sequel focuses on the incarnation of the new Avatar, Korra, as she tries to save a city called the Republic City.”
“So, Korra is a young girl , not a boy. Heroes and protagonists are usually men.”
“That actually became a problem.
Nickelodeon was reluctant to produce this animated series at first because the protagonist was a girl.
I guess you could say that Americans are more conservative than Koreans.
The production was suspended just because the protagonist was a girl.
To compare this situation to a movie production, it’s as if the lead actor has already been cast, but the production agency decides to stop the filming because they don’t approve of the actor.”
Part 2: (x)
Full interview: (x)
This makes me so angry. I’m almost afraid to talk about it because I’m pretty sure if I start I won’t be able to stop, and then I’ll just devolve into incoherent strings of expletives and I’d rather retain my dignity at least partially.
This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. I had no clue Nickelodeon did this. I thought that they were better than that.
look at how upset he is omg
Lifetimes are lost
through the break in
his grasp, slipping
and dying by his hourglass hands:
whole worlds disappear to the ether,
made fiction and dust
never to be known.
His grip is of glass
and how fragile so! like the wings
of a butterfly,
little mirrors bending
to a stormy wind and
stirring for the rain to come.
He cannot hold a single drop.
Not one moment.
Not one mote.
Tomorrow for another flood,
one more chance to catch
a measure of the day.
Still they fall, through
the temper of his unpurchased time —
unlaced fingers and
wings still wet.
One hour, and again they run down.
One hour, watch it turn.
The glass is empty, the butterfly beats,
and there is nothing in his wake.
While in graduate school at the University of Houston, I supplemented my income by working as a writer in residence for Writers in the Schools (WITS). I was with WITS for three years, during which I visited third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms, and worked with groups of students visiting the Menil museum of art, the Houston Historical Society, and the Houston Arboretum.
When first hired by WITS, I expected that working to explain some of my favorite poems to fourth graders would result in me becoming a better teacher of poetry. What I wasn’t expecting was that (thanks to having my brain blown apart on a weekly basis as I browsed my students’ folders of barely legible poems) I would become a better poet.
Here are some lines written by students in grades 3rd-6th:
“The life of my heart is crimson.”
[Writing about a family member’s recent death:]
“My brother went down/ to the river
and put dirt on.”
“Peace be a song,
silver pool of sadness”
“Away went a dull winter wind
that rocked harshly, and bent you said,
[Writing about a terminal illness:]
“I am feeling burdened
and I taste milk……
I mumble, ‘Please,
please run away.’
But it lives where I live.”
“The owls of midnight hoot like me
shutting the door to nothing.”
[Writing about life as a movie:]
“The choir enters, and the director screams
‘Sing with more terror!!!’”
“I have provisions. Binary muffins.
It’s an in/out/in/out kind of universe.
We cannot help you,
this is a universe factory.
A sound of rolling symbols.
Disappearing rocks, screams of lizards.
Sanity must prevail. Save vs. Do Not.”
“I, the star god,
take bones from the
underworlds of past times
to create mankind.”
These young writers are addressing subjects that still obsess poets fifty years older: sadness, death, love, responsibility, aging, family, loneliness, and refuge…and they are addressing these subjects in language that is new, and thus has the power to emotionally effect a well-seasoned (/jaded) reader. The average fourth grader is able to do this because she hasn’t been alive long enough to know how to do it (and by “it” I mean talk about the world) any other way.
Story time: When I was a child I believed that one day I might be allowed to cross into an alternate dimension by walking through a quilt hanging on my living room wall. As I got older I stopped believing that this was a possibility—not because I grew to believe that the universe was not an extremely strange place where incomprehensible things could happen on a daily basis, but because I passed year after year after year not being able to enter the spirit realm through a wallhanging.
Anecdote that I hope you’ll find relevant: When Jean Piaget began studying the intellectual processes of children, he was not doing so because he had any special interest in children. Piaget was interested, rather, in the intellectual processes of (adult) humans and was seeking a control group. [His first thought was that the best control group would be comprised of martians but, as he did not have access to martians, he decided to use children since children possessed what is farthest from human consciousness.]
So let’s look at what happens to our young writers as they age [I took these lines from poems written by middle-school/ high school students (Italics, mine)]:
Snacking on this and that
my friends and I keep the party going
even when it is over”
“Whispers of a
secret crush being unraveled”
“I’m trapped in this hole that
I can’t break through”
“Barack Obama in the White House.
I can feel the inspiration
Can you feel it?”
“Now I feel secure with my head held high.
Sad times. By middle school/high school, the average student has learned how normal people talk. The resulting language is underwhelming and predictable—the safe regurgitations of a thoroughly socialized consciousness.
While the average older student’s poems are heavy with allegiance to a limited view of reality, the average younger writer’s vision of the world is nimble and surprising—bazaar, yet true.
Last year I spent every Saturday tutoring an extremely undersocialized kid in vocab. When I taught her the word blandishments (“to flatter, coax, sweet-talk, appeal to”) she wrote this sentence: “The blandishments of the sugar flowers made the cake so much more inviting.”
The sentence is interesting because the student understood that a blandishment is something that attracts favorable attention without fully realizing that people almost always use the word to refer to a human action.
The poet’s job is to forget how people do it.