Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Today I will head down to the Library of Congress and record some poetry. I also plan to make it to the ballpark. The Nats tonight are playing the Dodgers.

I'm reading HOW I BECAME HETTIE JONES again. I will interview Hettie for ON THE MARGIN on Thursday.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Creative Writing 2.0?

Let's "workshop" the first two sentences of Michael Eric Dyson's essay in Sunday's New York Times:

"We, black America, are a nation of nearly 40 million souls inside a nation of more than 320 million people. And I fear now that it is clearer than ever that you, white America, will always struggle to understand us."

If we first see ourselves as 2 nations - where do go from there?
Chaos or community?


Hey Man...thanks for the note.
Glad to know you're still writing.
Let me know what dates you'll be in DC.
Much has changed, much is gone, but things are beautiful if one knows
how to define beauty.  Live and breathe is what every free slave remembers.

Blessings - even if you don't believe God rubs the back of your head
while the Devil smiles.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Romancing The Future

It is easy to hate but do we have the strength to love?  At times I feel we teach the wrong King. Maybe we should mention Rodney's name as much as Martin's. Back in March 1991 we saw a black man beaten by the Los Angeles Police Department. George Holliday videotaped much of the beating from his balcony. We know what happened the next year. The police acquittals triggered the Los Angeles riots in which 55 people lost their lives. Is seeing believing? How could a jury reach such a verdict after viewing the Holliday video?  Today almost everyone has a cellphone with a camera.
Can you imagine if Black people had these devices during slavery? The still photograph of a lynching in America still troubles the open mind. One can become very angry from simply reading about black history and looking at pictures - now let's add video to the equation. Let's look at how reality television has changed who we are and who we might even elect to be president of the United States. Talking media - how many of us wanted to be on Oprah or American Idol when these programs captured the imagination of our nation? 

Every black man in America must go to bed thinking he is in a video game. How much cellphone footage of another black man being shot by the police can one consume before going crazy or numb?
Is every black man secretly filled with rage? Do we all have a little Bigger Thomas in us?
If today's black man is so filled with hate - where could this come from?  Remember when we thought we could simply blame it on movies and rap music?  No, it's easy to hate and difficult to love.

The problem we face today is that we seem to cling to the joy of storytelling. Tell me a story before I go to bed. Tell me a story so  that I might dream. Or tell me a story so that I might forget. Unfortunately there is an ongoing clash of narratives. We fail to acknowledge that all the stories are true. So, Micah Johnson tells his story during a standoff with the police. He "confesses" that he hates white people. Why do we find this strange? Why do we feel we need to know how he came to think this way?  What if even he couldn't explain it?  So, now after his death we are creating a narrative not for him but for us. We are writing a story that will help us sleep at night. Blame his actions on a trip to a war zone. Mention he was a recluse and became attractive to the philosophy of black nationalism. If we can connect the dots to the Black Panthers or Malcolm X or a Tar Baby then everything will make sense - right?

The problem I find with storytelling is that we too often want a happy ending. The true story is that our world is filled with great suffering and despair. We are trapped in what might be defined as cellphone westerns. Police as cowboys and black men as Native Americans? In many ways this land is still a frontier. Unfortunately we cannot tame ourselves - how many deaths does it take before one cries genocide?

I don't want to believe Hope is simply a Mistress. I want to experience the true love story - the intimacy of citizenship, the marriage of a common destiny. I know this is difficult but how else can we romance the future?

Friday, July 08, 2016


The Dallas shooter is identified as Micah Johnson on CNN.  The picture they release of the shooter has him in African garb and holding up a fist in the form of a Black Power salute. Was this the only picture the media could find? Or is this the picture that fits that narrative that is being drafted? If Johnson said he hated white people and wanted to shoot white police officers because of the recent deaths of black men (by police), best to dress him in an appropriate costume - right? We were told Johnson served in the military. Was it too difficult to find a picture of him in a military uniform? Notice how this story is being assembled. One pundit on CNN said he wanted to know if Johnson was taking any drugs. Let's ignore this for the moment and go back to Johnson who explained why he shot the police. Why do we have to look for anything else?  We have his confession. Sadly, we don't know what to do with it. Johnson actions perhaps define black rage - which is why it's senseless and can't be explained, unless one accepts the "pressure" of racism and how black men can suddenly explode without warning. Often the violence is against ourselves...sometimes it is directed towards others. What was in Johnson's mind before he picked up his gun?  Micah was a minor prophet in the bible. What failed religion did Johnson embrace?  And now I hear - Nat's Coming - in a film called BIRTH OF A NATION. Trouble tends to happen when black men look at the sky and hear voices.
After Micah how do we protect Jerusalem from destruction?


Reporting the news and interpreting the news while the news is still happening has become a serious problem. Too many false statements and misconceptions are given the air to circulate and later explode but only after the damage is done. It's good to have an opinion but it's better to have facts.
But what are facts these days except the imaginary punctuation of a narrative already drafted.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Women of Plums

Thursday, July 21, 2016
7:00 PM 
Historic Lincoln Theatre
1215 U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Doors Open at 6:00 PM | Free Admission

RSVPs are encouraged. RSVP here.
A theatrical adaption of the prize-winning book The Women of Plums by DC Poet Laureate Dolores Kendrick. Featuring poems written in the voices of slave women who relate lives of appalling deprivation in lyrical monologues, with dance, music and visual arts. Presented by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Office of the Poet Laureate of the District of Columbia.
About the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities provides grants, professional opportunities, education enrichment, and other programs and services to individuals and nonprofit organizations in all communities within the District of Columbia. The Arts Commission is supported primarily by District government funds and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Dear Friends of BMC,
This past year, with the help of Jay Walljasper, we've been gathering stories and work from Blue Mountain Center Residents and sharing them with you via our new Commons E-magazine and our web page. The archive Jay has put together is impressive and serves as a terrific affirmation of the solid work our alums are doing in the world.

We would like to check-in and get your feedback about the project. We hope that you can take a few minutes to run through this anonymous survey, which will guide us as we move forward. We appreciate any and all feedback and constructive ideas. Our goal is to share this work, and create something that friends, alumni, and prospective residents and conferees (and all of their friends) will look at to better understand and engage in the BMC community and commons.

Here’s a direct link to the survey.

Thank you,
Harriet and Ben

BMC Co-Directors

Holding Light—Waging Peace on Terror

By Ashley Makar
One visitor described the refugee resettlement agency where I work as Goodwill meets National Geographic meets the DMV.
Read More

the Powers
That Be

By L.M. Bogad
Social movements create eye-catching scenes that provoke critique through the power of performance.
Read More

and Fran

By Dorothy Albertini
We knew we’d be loud ladies on the porch.
Read More

Indigenous Rights Defend Us from Ecological Ruin

By Martin Lukacs
First Nations have the law on their side, but not political power
Read More

Manifesto for the Obvious International

By Alyce Santoro
To reclaim the human in us, we must cultivate awe for the everyday.

Read More

The Most Substantive Face-Off in Recent Political History

By David Morris
The back and forth between Bernie & Hillary forced both to raise their game
Read More

Facts on the Ground in Israel & Palestine

By Shimon Attie
Art that raises as many questions as it answers.
Read More

The Missouri River Dinosaur

By Taylor Brorby
The pallid sturgeon is, perhaps, the least sexy fish in existence. It is one of nature’s leftovers from the dinosaur era.
Read More

Our mailing address is:
Blue Mountain Center
P.O. Box 109
Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812

Add us to your address book


Sometimes I have problems seeing the ball leaving the pitcher's hand.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Baseball Swings

I love Michael A. Taylor on the Nationals but it seems this kid needs another year or 2 in the minors.
Where is his batting coach?

Dusty Baker is doing an excellent job with the team. His press conferences are baseball labs. One can learn a ton of baseball listening to him before and after a game.
Right now he's my Manager of the Year.

I doubt if all the players on the Nationals will click at the same time. I expect 1 or 2 injuries to happen after the All Star Game.
The Bull Pen still has a number of big question marks.

How folks could have confidence in Gio Gonzalez in a playoff game is questionable.
Lucas Giolito looked good his first time on the mound but look at the team he was playing against.

Big surprises have to be Ramos and the Danny E this season. Of course in a close game with a runner on first and one out - Ramos at the plate. Please, Please send the base runner to avoid the DP. Thanks.!

The Nats win it all if Harper hits. 300 and has close to 40 homers.

By Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (From the book Interbeing)
Thich Nhat Hanh 1
Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.
Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrow-mindedness.
Do not avoid suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, including personal contact, visits, images and sounds. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.
Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred.
Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.
Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realise your ideal of compassion.
Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.
Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realisation of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns:) Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. In sexual relations, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

From the book 'Interbeing': Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism, revised edition: Oct. l993 by Thich Nhat Hanh, published by Parallax Press, Berkeley, California

Saturday, July 02, 2016


The movement into the future is a movement away from the past. I must become a pilgrim. It's time to say goodbye to old conversations, beliefs and the horizon I've been staring at all my life. Yes, my confessions say - I've been walking in the wrong direction. What a big surprise. I've been caught in the hat with the bunny for too long. Yes, it's often dark inside history.


If we seek to claim freedom then we must also claim America. Before sunrise and after dusk we are Americans. We are the dream keepers. America is still the great experiment and most experiments fail- it is the resilience of the blues that will always be the frontier of who we are. This coming into being, this birth of a nation and its endless cry is the music we must learn to play over and over. It is the silence between notes and despair we must overcome. We are a people in need of new spirituals and new Coltranes. Speak to me of a Love Supreme and I will remind you that life is not easy but it reaches for the Divine after much suffering. Out of our blackness there is much magic to behold. We fight against disappearance and the ongoing struggle of pulling ourselves out of the hat of history.