Those who survive?

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It begs the question:

Would it have been better to survive by means of collusion – in 1940s Germany, or as a Christian in 1920s Russia – or is it better to die fighting evil?

What sacrifice would you or I make to stop the imminent rise of evil, unenlightened despotism? If you could go back in time, would you kill baby Hitler? What would you do, back in 2016, to stop Trump?

Memorial

As we Americans once again commemorate our war dead, and pay respect to the families of those who “gave the last full measure of devotion,” I wonder:

Will we ever come to terms with the fact that many of their deaths were preventable?

They not only died for us, they died because of us and our pride, arrogance, and nationalist ego-centrism.

We Americans are sure that we can do anything we set our minds and collective will to do. Why not peace?

Why can’t we learn to treat other people with respect, and so to gain friends instead of making enemies? We are so hell bent in self-righteousness, so mired in fear of others – and so completely confused about who they are – that millions of us want a dictator in our highest office.

Our dead didn’t die so that America would be weak and terrified, but we are. After 9/11 we raised flags and were defiant and strong for a while, until Bush-Cheney told us to be terrorized, and so we were and so we remain.

History will not be kind about the fall of the American Empire. For 15 years we have declined into willful ignorance, the victims of fear and selfishness. Trump is the distillation of that consciousness.

We don’t deserve a new birth of freedom if we deny it to each other.

We don’t deserve safety unless we stand up for the refugees and give them refuge.

We are not worthy to consecrate a moment, let alone a day, in honor of our dead, until we pledge in our hearts and minds that no more shall die in vain.

 

Everything Waiting to be Born

There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.
— Charles Dickens

I have come into this body out of darkness,
out of the starless sea. I am not to blame
for what happened there. Those were difficult
times and I was nothing more than a thought.

The world just had faith I would eventually exist,
the way a pool of water imagines sunrise.
All night long, the waters dream about dawn.
Still I was loved; in stillness, I was loved.
In the Nightland we are all loved.
Which is why, in time, we all return.

I would not have you misunderstand.
Death is not natural, not a part of life
or an event in it. Life is life and death
is something else. We go on, but we go beyond.
So death is not something we can be ready for.
We are alive and live in the light,
and between light and its absence
there can be no compromise.

Yes, those were hard times. Everything
waiting to be born is under stress
and every thought – even those loved
beyond life, beyond time or even thinking –
is a prayer for change.
The darkness around us is deep.

And then I was, I am. Not the One I Am,
just me. Out of everything that is nothing
into everything that is. The infinite light
and this body, Being, and the others left behind.

From that moment until this and until the last
which comes at any unknown, unnamed time,
there is you. There is us and we have played
in high sunlight on the shore and in moonlight
climbing in her arc over these hills and all along
the great valleys. We have never been apart;
not separated by miles or by pain,
or even by the whole body of the world.
I wish it was that way forever, except that maybe
we’d forget the desperate rush of love.

Now I struggle even to remember the middle
of the journey of our life. I look for myself
and see trees, sometimes a man
in the crooked distance – just a speck
in a black coat, years from now.
And that man in the black coat turns,
searching, lost. I am powerless to help.

Still we have each other and these hours.
The climbing moon — bright in a night of breezes —
is sweeping in her gentle arc and singing of the sea.

 

Kyle Kimberlin
May 20, 2016

Note: This poem is for my Mom. I sat down in mid April to write a poem for Mother’s Day and managed to hack out the first 3 stanzas. The rest wouldn’t come. Finally, late last night, in the midst of a long binge on The Grateful Dead, it arrived. Replete with allusion to Dante and homage to Bly and Stafford, it fell from the middle distance homuncular, and with a sigh. 

The Internet is Forever

I read on a couple of blogs that UC Davis paid people to try to expunge the Net of all traces of the pepper spray incident that happened there in 2011. This seems ridiculously futile to me, but I like to play. So lest we forget, here are a couple of links to posts I wrote on another blog, on the day of that brutality.

Students Attacked by Cops at Davis

  • November 19, 2011

Open Letter to the Chancellor of UC Davis

  • November 19, 2011

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
― George Orwell, 1984

We have met the enemy…

No greater mistake can be made than to think that our institutions are fixed or may not be changed for the worse. … Increasing prosperity tends to breed indifference and to corrupt moral soundness. Glaring inequalities in condition create discontent and strain the democratic relation. The vicious are the willing, and the ignorant are unconscious instruments of political artifice. Selfishness and demagoguery take advantage of liberty. The selfish hand constantly seeks to control government, and every increase of governmental power, even to meet just needs, furnishes opportunity for abuse and stimulates the effort to bend it to improper uses. … The peril of this nation is not in any foreign foe! We, the people, are its power, its peril, and its hope!

– Charles Evans Hughes

Pogo_-_Earth_Day_1971_poster

Someone Small

Today we remember our beautiful Stella, who crossed over to The Rainbow Bridge on April 8, 2000. She was amazing.

Footprints

 

‘All I know is something
like a bird within her sang.’

 

I look for her in the morning,
the mockingbirds in her garden
still asleep.  She is not in the hall
or lying by the rockingchair,
watching daylight take
the fences and the orange trees.

 

Her leash is gone from the kitchen
and her toys, so I go out.
There’s sourgrass by the corner;
any dog would stop and sniff.

 

Not there, so I drift a moment
over the freeway, to the bluffs
where I used to watch her run.
Look,  footprints where the trail

 

turns to sand and the salt smell of the sea
comes up.  Someone small has
stopped here just to dance, and see
how the tracks stop. As if she danced
a little while, then flew off.

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Footprints, 2000 by Kyle Kimberlin

Creative Commons Licensed