Saturday, July 27, 2013

Oscar Grant & Katherine Hastings Redux/Bears! Oh My!/ElizabethHerron Poem/

(P1) Political/Poetical

Ed's Note:  Back in 2009 when I first ran 

this moving Katherine Hastings poem on the P3,
I confess that I worried a bit that perhaps we were
jumping the gun before all the facts were in.  Today in 2013, not only do we know everything about the tragic event, we now have the excruciating film "Fruitvale Station" which Joyce and I watched in tears today, July 27, 2013.  I urge the entire world to watch this film and reread Katherine's poem as  important steps toward human understanding and combating racism.


In Memory of Oscar Grant
New Years Day, 2009

by Katherine Hastings

As the young supermarket worker lay facedown
amid the darkness
as he lay there in Oakland's underground,
where moon and stars are barred
unarmed, black, pinned down,
inside the darkness
begging not to be shot,
as he lay there covered with cops
dark forms with dark wings
hiding him from view as best they could,
through fear's thick veil
cell phones up and down the tracks
a shape-shifting transit crowd
recorded the cop pulling his gun,
pressing it to the back of the unarmed black man
strength in meekness
who was a young friend, who was a lover,
as a drop of dew
who was a father laying facedown
as a small drop of dew

As the young black man lay there,
pinned down, facedown, begging,
a lone drop of dew
a cop shot him in the back, BAM!
shot him in the back!

As the young unarmed man laid dying,
birds within the wind
cops hiding him the best they could,
fish within the wave
cell phones recorded the shooting of Oscar Grant,
thoughts of man's own mind
float through
pinned down,
all above
face down,
the grave

Everyone saw it and saw it and saw it
those eyes
and no one can say
burn through

it wasn't so.
the last embrace

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(P2) Philosophical

A few lions, no tigers and one bear. Oh my!

by Larry Robinson

Op-Ed in June 14, 2013  
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Bear sightings have increased in the west county in recent weeks. This one was photographed at St. Dorothy's Episcopal Camp & Retreat Center near Camp Meeker.

The Press Democrat


Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 5:19 p.m.
West county seems to have caught bear fever. The sightings and tracking of a juvenile black bear (or maybe two) between Sebastopol and Occidental are headline news. Our wandering friend may have soon his own Facebook page.

Most of us seem to be rooting for the bear. Maybe we're really rooting for ourselves, for nature and for the wild which we are rapidly losing. It wasn't that long ago that our region was home to hundreds of black bears and grizzlies were the top predator. That was also a time when the Laguna teemed with herds of elk and pronghorn antelope and our waterways were filled with salmon and steelhead. 

As a species, we evolved to be in constant relationship to the rest of our more-than-human community — sometimes as predator, sometimes as prey, but always interdependent. Now that we have extinguished the California grizzly and most of the big cats, we are certainly safer from predation. But at what cost?

The world we experience now consists primarily of other humans or things made or grown by humans. I think this makes us lonely, and it makes us forget who we are. We hunger for something but don't know what it is. A misguided pursuit of happiness leads us to want more and more of what we don't really need.
An ancient Greek myth tells the story of Erysichthon, the wealthy landowner who comes across a great oak sacred to the Demeter, the goddess of abundance. His men recognize the tree for what it is and feel an appropriate sense of awe. Erysichthon sees only the bottom line and orders his men to fell the great tree. When they refuse, he seizes an ax, decapitates his foreman who had tried to protect the tree, and proceeds to cut it down. When Demeter learns of this sacrilege, she places a curse on him that whatever he eats will only increase his hunger. He consumes everything he has, including his own children and, eventually, himself.
This is our story. We have severed our connection to the very source of life, and as a result we are possessed by an ever-growing hunger that we try to fill by consuming more and more. We have mortgaged our children's future for our short-term gratification and, in the process, squandered the true wealth we have inherited, destroying the fabric of life that sustains us.

Scientists estimate that every 20 minutes, on the average, another species goes extinct, mostly from loss of habitat and a changing climate. We may not miss the xerces blue butterfly or the Fort Ross weevil, but we will miss the polar bears and the elephants as they leave us. We may think that the California tiger salamander and the spotted owl are not as important to us as a new housing development or a few thousand board feet of lumber, but we will surely be the poorer for it. Our ecosystem has been amazingly resilient, but we are pushing the limits of its ability to recover.

We haven't left much of a home for the west county bear or other inhabitants of the wild, but we can still reduce our human impacts by focusing new development in existing urban footprints and by creating wildlife corridors instead of vineyards or fencing.

And maybe — just maybe — we can find a way to recover our own sense of awe and reverence for this amazing planet we call home.

(Larry Robinson is a former City Council member and mayor of Sebastopol.)

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(P3) Poetical

To Save Yourself
by Elizabeth Herron

When a crow nests in your hair
throw away your comb.

If a white dog comes to your door
drive it off.  If a black dog
let it lie at your hearth. 

Take gravel from the gullet of a cock
and cook it with suet. Shape a loaf
to rise in moonlight. 
When a stranger comes, 
slice the bread.

If you have regrets, sew salt
in the hem of your coat. 
Throw away your heroic medals.
Wrap green ribbons around
your wrists and doorknobs.
Sing to stones. Pray to trees.

When anger fists your heart
pull it out by the root,
wrap it in red twine and bury it
under a rose bush. It will make 
strong thorns.

Let your memories lie 
by the fire beside the black dog.
When melancholy joins them
do not turn away.

Wrap your suffering in blue silk
and let the tide take your tears. 
Take home a seashell 
to remind you
all things come and go, 
come and go.

If despair clings to you
get up before dawn
and think of those you love
still sleeping.

If worry burdens your shoulders
break the crust of your back
and flap your arms like a homeless 
coat or the wings of a blackbird.

When doubt darkens your hope
flap them again. Remember
kicking your legs to swim underwater.

Remember kicking your legs to swing
as high as the swing would go.
Remember weightlessness.

Let sadness see the sunrise.

If longing aches, take aspirin.

When you can’t sleep, go talk
to the owls, and listen
for they will answer.

When you weep, remember rain.

We are such small lives, 
so perishable. We are fruit
falling.  We are the faintest stars
salting the dark.  
We are ants
looking for honey.  
We are flower and pollen.
We are the hive.

What we make and give away
gathers gold.

- Elizabeth Herron

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