HYMN FOR SYRIA

2 Aug


Oh Saladin! Where are you?!
Crusaders occupy the streets of Aleppo!
Heed the calls to prayer of Ibn Asakir!
Seek the sacred Mihrab Sahaba
And repel from the walls of your Holy Sanctuary!
—–
Narrow alleys of saffron ashlars
Cobbled cardamom walnut streets of honey
Umayyad domes drape the cream horizon
As the Barada’s palm breeze serenely flows
Shem – ancient city of cities, guard your golden crown!

Damascus natives whose hands as gifts
Lift any strangers drained body to bliss
Wrapped in divine blue winged spirit
Rays of noble brotherhood
Pierce your people’s hearts.

Prayed at the temple of Baal in Palmyra
Bathed in the purple drenched night sky
Danced your crescent moon desert wild
Drank your salty wine of mist
Who stole the nights of kaleidoscopic moons?

As the legendary river cries on her sandy shores
This Euphrates Queen Of Life recites the
Tragic tales of Homs and Tremseh
These desert grains of sand sit as
Wailing scribes of the histories untold
—–
Where is the magic wind of peace?
Lost in refugee meadows of Turkish tulip madness.
Off to foreign borders, to other futures, these flowers flee!
A new life in the U.A.E. or Italy?
Mt. Qasioun reverse the tale of Cain and Abel!
—–
Oh! Great One you are being invaded!
A Contra war bleeds your veins
They have sacked your cities
Murderous mercenaries disguised as your own army
Masquerades of external treachery abound!
—–
The camouflage of media lies intended to persuade
Some shady NATO plan devised to distort
Dazed and distracted the careless world
Sips another glass of red, bread with butter
Any acid reflux?
—–
I still roam your streets in this vision of my mind
A flock of midnight butterfly’s coast through saddened air
Variegated flapping wings yield a sacred sound
Of blessed chants and courageous hymns
Their Ramadan humming infuses the air:
RESIST! RESIST! RESIST!

Blurry Guate Snapshot

27 Dec


Meet Sandra from Antigua, who sweeps

While she speaks, 29 and widowed

Her husband shot 2 years ago

In his car while delivering electronics

From Mexico to Guatemala

She lives with her 3 children

Forgotten by her  husbands employer

See Polo, a Garifuna musician,

From Livingston, “We are not

Jamaican nor African, know your

History!” he shouts.

“No one sees Garifuna in Livingston

We have no representation,

The Latinos outnumber us.”

Watch Lorenzo an expert on every

Jungle plant and animal

Received an education up to age 10

Lived through the brutal civil war

“Man is savage, only the forests and animals have

Nobility and that is why I protect them.”

Nature: his redemption and solace.

Sit with Ronaldo, a guide in Carmelita,

“The jungle raised me” he says

“But I can’t get a job anymore as a

Jungle guide to El Mirador because I lack

A special ID no longer issued from the

Cooperative.” The cooperative- a racket,

That stole the gum, the chate, and

Now the tourism business from the locals.

Share a beer with Pedro and Carlos

Farmers from a border village town

“We take tomatoes  to Mexico

We cross without papers

we know the routes” they say

“ Once we deliver, we take a plane back”

Drug lords move faster than the Evangelicals.

Then see the two who travel

As ‘world travelers’ or tourists

They wander from Monte Rico to

Rio Dulce, Pakaya to Xela

From Ceiba forests to Tikal

And waken to the pain that has

Shaken a country – a people,

And incomprehensibly

Perceive themselves to

Have understood it all.



GLADIADOR BORGHESE

4 Nov


Black threaded roofs

Hover over this city’s streets

Rows of stalls suffocate every empty space

Transient vendors or daily squatters appear

As white hair sprouting on an aging man

Recycled yogurt plastic containers

Line the table of this cooks stall

Nopal, beef, and mushrooms tacos

Prepared for a make shift life or lunch

Green and red chile to enliven the

Senses or the suffered soul

Sit under the immense Sunday

Cathedral mass cold shadow

Of horrors long forgotten

Feel the crisp altitude breeze

Full of repressed smog resentment

Watch the Zocalo street vendors

Fearful for their livelihood

Cram goods into huge black plastic

They wrap and run

Police lights flash the horizon

Descend to metro Balderas depths

Of bent back postures,

Breath strained and half shut,

Stuffed metro riders begin a

Punk-rock slam dance in silence

Walk the neighborhood line divide

Between Roma Norte and Doctores

Sit in the Pendulum cafe and hear

The French man boast that he

Lives on the Tamaulipas of Paris.

Scalped skull morbid headlines

Blood, and bodies torn apart

That happens in the North” they say

This is Mexico City”

There is no violence here”

Except a languid one 

Perhaps a more lasting one?

Gallery

Peter Pan Petraeus

13 May

These were sculpted times

Of crafted words and powdered flat screen minds

Heart of finely chiseled plastic and

Chipped off nerve ports hammered shut

All left dulled under the plastered

Polished cyber surface.

—-

Camouflage news holds

Internet addicts hostage

Enlisted into illegal wars

Of bloody conquest, porn, lust and looting

Wars of ego, greed, and opportunity,

A black ski masque and fishnet stockings

An AK47 and Viagra

Adobe enemies – Adobe lovers

—-

U.S. corporate warlords hire

Battalions to drone over

Facebook and Twitter

Afghanistan and Pakistan

Red poppy dust settles on

Chat room dreams of opium

Russian bride delusions

—-

They sat under the moon but

It was censored black

Gazed at the heavens that

Looked like the

Inside wing of a black crow

“The Moon eloped with Mars” they said

And left us under the pronounced

Sun shadows cast over our hearts

These were times of war.

—-

Rain drops in the pools of memory

Amnesiac mud turns the water brackish

Blood, pain, disease, death,  slide under

Radioactive floating Fukushima fish forgotten

The oceans lifeless tides

Poison all it greets

Semen pangs squirt on the screen

Orgasmic masturbation is

Only permitted passion

Emotions deeper than a

Woman’s vagina are feared

Love and war come easy.

—–

Corroded Facebook mega-pixels

Transformed into a wife, lover or friend

Seekers of online intimacy embrace a mirage

Drier than the screen that embodies them

Hollow, desert, cracked, cactus romance

Stickers protrude as oasis dries.

—–

Online fools, wise misers

Hold a $100 for yourself

Don’t waste on a real date!

$40 billion a month to wage a NATO war

Don’t waste on the welfare state!

Hillary and Bernard Henri-Levy decide.

Kill Ghadaffi for his oil, water or golden dinar?

Guidance he asked from the  drunk wild night

Wandered the dark towards a cave in the hills

He threw in a stone to test its dimensions

And cupped his ears from the oracular rumbling voice:

“Fantasy Tragedy all is Trantasy

Same War Different Front”

canyon climb

23 Feb

Climbing down and up the Grand Canyon has always been a dream of mine, but after inquiring about the food costs (60 dollars for 2 meals), I realize this is a dream far too spendy for me to undertake. Disheartened, I decide to walk around the top, but then I meet Charles, 72 years old, who inspires me to take the plunge by telling me he “goes down and up in one day,” and that if I want to forgo the expensive food I can “always survive on the cafeteria’s 3 dollar bagel and cream cheese.” Convinced, I head for the South Kaibab trail (13 km), walk past all the experienced hikers with their REI gear, me in my long black leather jacket, I look out of place, and I am sure I conjure up a few laughs every time I pass one of these die hard climbers.

The climb down from the rim is slippery due to the snow and ice, but as the descent goes deeper into the canyon, the red rocks emerge; the deep red appears to melt the ice. I walk in silence down the canyon breathing in the serenity of the immense valley that stands before my eyes. I pass an elderly couple in their 80’s, both carrying huge knapsacks. How are they going to make it with such a load? My pace quickens due to the steep inclination, and at this rate, I am sure to make it down before the sun sets. Then I feel a burning sensation in my toe and an ache in my knees. Ugh, a blister! Not much to do about it but concentrate on getting down. Finally the horizon opens up to the amazing blue of the Colorado River, and I know I am almost there. I see the hanging bridge, the canyon cliffs jut out to the sky above the beautiful blue. I wander through the green Maple trees below, pass the ancient kiva and dwelling place of the Pueblo tribe, and follow the river towards the Phantom Ranch Lodge; the only lodge down below. Soon night falls in, out of the dark the old couple finally comes wondering in; sweaty and tired they have made it down after dark, after many hours. The pain in my knees lingers on, and the exhaustion has kicked in. I dread about tomorrow’s hike up. I gaze at the silhouette of the canyon against the night blue sky. One star stands visible from below. It feels like a magical night sitting in the belly of the earth listening to the old, old river, and watching the stars.

The next day I am up early, and on my way. I am instructed to follow the hikers and to go slow. After a while I realize I have to do what my body tells me. I begin to walk fast, and I concentrate on my body and breathing, I fall into a meditative state. Then a helicopter flies in. Was it sent for the old couple? Apparently they were mistakenly told to bring down extra bedding and food. I continue my ascent, and finally I can see the rim again. A big black raven lands beside me and begins to crow. I know he is cheering me on and I feel I must continue at this fast pace. But then I come face to face with the tour group on mule, each pays $550 for the ride! The guide tells old cowboy stories, as the tourists laugh automatically. Its just too Disneylandish, I desperately need to pass about 15 mules to get away from it. Fortunately the mules outpace me, and I am left, once again, to the silence of the canyon. Every turn requires effort and concentration. I walk alone towards the top. I thought I would never make it. My whole body aches, I can barely walk. My body and spirit humbled, as I realize I am more out of shape than a 72 year old. I continue towards the parking lot and see the cheering raven waiting in a tree. Yes, I guess I finally made it.

Festival Stories

5 Feb

Segou third day, we float up the Niger to the Mangala Camara stage. The opening act starts with regional Bobo music, traditional music from western Mali, where belafon (similar to xylophone) and tam tam drum (gourd with skin) fill the air. I sit next to Abdoulaye, a Malian who works for the festival, and I ask him the meaning of the songs. The first one, he says, is about fishing. I begin to see how the dancers emulate the movements of fishermen, and the dance starts to have more clarity. The men strum on a long drum called a Bongolo and use sticks and hands to drum out the sound. They play their drums with a kind of solemn concentration- very different from the usual enthusiasm of a conga player. Then a beautifully elegant woman called Mama Djoulo enters the stage, “she is not a griot, but an artist.” Abdoulaye says. He informs me that griots are passed down through family lineage and that they sing for money, as opposed to artists who sing for the love of the art. Before only griots were allowed to sing, but now artists are accepted and encounter hardly any resistance. Mama Djoulo sings the “real” story of Issa, a barren woman who wanted a child. She tries for 10 years, but nothing changes, then she seeks the help of a marabout and delivers a child. Next Babenya the talented group from Burkina Faso enter the stage. They are promising young talent with great energy. Give them another few years and they will be West Africas next sensation. They sing of the joy of being invited to the festival, and of cause and effect. Next comes Adama Yolomba with his painted kamel n’goni, red green and yellow. He mixes electric guitar and traditional instruments. His rebellious lyrics advise people to open their eyes or else they will encounter problems, then about guruma, which means stinginess, and how it destroys relationships and communities. Finally he sings about the beauty of Mali, the crowd moves into the arena and groove on the sand. The night sets in, and we move to the main stage to see the famous Toumani Djabate. His calm demeanor camouflages his actual control over the show, similar to an orchestra conductor, he brings out the best of his musicians. The music is fantastic, the drumming is excellent, and the kora sounds are sharp and harmonizing. There is something divine and elevating about his music. Sad to see him go, Ismael Lu has a hard act to follow. His music is mellow, but maybe a little too soft for this evening. He plays his famous song “Africa” and the crowd responds. Finally the Madame Oumou Sangare enters and the excitement explodes. She is accompanied by two graceful dancers, who keep it lively. I wish Abdoulaye were here to explain what she sings, but am content with just hearing her soothing voice. The crowds dance, front row stands knee deep in the Niger river,- it is one big party.

Segou Festival

5 Feb

This is the second night in Segou. The festivals red and yellow lights reflect rainbow like ribbons on the Niger’s surface, as the wind blows the amazing voice of Kasse Mady Diabate, from one bank to another. He is performing on his own after stepping out of the shadow of Toumani Diabate. In a land where singers are passed down through family lineage, it is refreshing to know talent is recognized and singers can move up in the world. Next the gifted Ms. Bako Dagnon, sings her traditional Malian tunes. Then the local musician Bassekou Kouyate (won the BBC 2008 world music award) enthralls with an outstanding performance of the ngroni; accompanied by three other ngroni musicians the combining sound is enchanting. Then the Guinean Diva, Sayon Camara captivates with her powerful melodious voice. Her rhythmic sounds and back up dancers entertain and add to her stage charisma. The tunes range from Guinean griot, to salsa combinations, spiced up with the legendary Guinean djembe. Her bewitching voice reaches across the stands and to the hearts – the crowd loves her and respond with a wave of lively dancing. The night comes to a close as the lights dim off the Niger shore. As I exit, I bump into a Danish music journalist who wants to invite Ms. Camera to a festival in Denmark. There is hope. Lights dim – lights glow, this is the way at festivals.

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