Monday at the Movies

This documentary of the life of American ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq has some wonderful ballet footage, but you don’t have to be a ballet fan to enjoy the movie or to appreciate the inspiration of a woman who managed to create a life for herself after illness robbed her of her ability to dance. It’s not maudlin; it’s a very dry martini, kind of like Tanny’s dancing.

Sunday Ballet Blogging



So I bought a new car today and I’m searching for a good name for her.

Stella, my eleven-year-old Honda Civic Hybrid, finally gave up the ghost. She’s been a good old girl, but she’d begun to need increasingly expensive repairs. (My practice with cars is to pay cash for a new car, maintain it well, and drive it until it becomes unreliable and/or the repair costs begin to approximate a good chunk of what a new car would cost. Then, I pay cash for a new one. YMMV.)

Do you name your cars? I need a good name for my new one — a purpley, black, silvery Honda Civic Hybrid with all kinds of almost scarey navigation/phone/”infotainment” technology. She feels a little bit like she wants to be named for a dragon, but I haven’t found a good one yet.

Tomorrow morning, she’ll get her protection spell, her grounding, and her name.

Any suggestions gratefully accepted.

Picture found here.

Friday Night Poetry Blogging

Handwriting letters

A Letter from Home

~ Mary Oliver

She sends me news of blue jays, frost,
Of stars and now the harvest moon
That rides above the stricken hills.
Lightly, she speaks of cold, of pain,
And lists what is already lost.
Here where my life seems hard and slow,
I read of glowing melons piled
Beside the door, and baskets filled
With fennel, rosemary and dill,
While all she could not gather in
Or hid in leaves, grow black and falls.
Here where my life seems hard and strange,
I read her wild excitement when
Stars climb, frost comes, and blue jays sing.
The broken year will make no change
Upon her wise and whirling heart; -
She knows how people always plan
To live their lives, and never do.
She will not tell me if she cries.

I touch the crosses by her name;
I fold the pages as I rise,
And tip the envelope, from which
Drift scraps of borage, woodbine, rue.

Picture found here.

You can buy Mary Oliver’s poems at Poetry and Prose.

What Byron Said

Byron Ballard keeps trying to tell people that we are now living in Tower Times — as in the Tarot card. For a few years, it’s felt to me as if the veils between the worlds are growing increasingly, thin, worn, I don’t know . . . tattered, maybe. The way a curtain gets when it’s been whipped back and forth and forth and back so often by the wind that the curtain begins to thin, to frey, to become transparent. The veils never seem to really close up again after Samhein and each time there’s a bigger gap left.

I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Maybe our ancestors know they’re going to need more ready access to us as we charge, willy-nilly (will-we-or-nil-we) into the Holocene extinction. Or maybe the land wights are ripping the veils open to get the Hel out of Dodge while there’s still time.

What I do know is that we need to ground. We need to know ourselves in all our parts. We need to be in relationship with our landbase, watershed, foodshed, local community. We need to get ourselves as healthy and fit as we can. We need to learn survival skills, all the way from how to organize an angry group, to how to sew up clean wounds, to how to save seeds, to how to write poetry and dance, to how to program, to how to unvravel old sweaters and knit blankets out of the threads, to how to make solar panels and windmills, to how to do soul retrieval. We need to learn how to hex and how to heal.

We are, each of us, the modern-day result of generations, and generations, and generations untold of survivors. We can call on that.

Each of us is here because we come from an ancient line of survivors, our DNA stretching all the way back to Africa. We come from ancestors who survived Ice Ages, who survived slavery, who survived retreating glaciers, who survived Rome, who survived the Dark Ages and the cutting down of Europe’s forests and acorn parks, who survived the Burning Times, who survived the Long Passage, who survived indenture, who survived famine, who survived smallpox-infested blankets, who survived childbed fever, who survived the trip out West in Conestoga wagons, who survived the African diaspora, who survived driving railroad stakes day in and day out, who survived World War I and mustard gas, who survived the Depression and the dustbowl, who survived World War II and Fat Boy, who survived Selma, who survived Kent State, who survived . . . .

And, as the song says, I refuse to be hopeless because to be hopeless would dishonor those who’ve gone before us.

So lift me up, to the light of change, to the Tower Times, to this difficult time to be alive.

I won’t be gone long; you come, too.

Wordless Wednesday

Michael Brown Cannot Be Defined by the Politics of Respectability or the Politics of Backlash


I am continuing to do magic for the people of Ferguson.

Magic comes in many forms. I find magic in the words of Michael Twitty, a historian who studies, enacts, and writes about the foods of the African American South. If you haven’t yet read Mr. Twitty’s amazing post on Ferguson, you owe it to yourself to do so. I read it not only as a human being who loves social justice, but also as an American who has African American family members and friends and as the mother of a son and the Nonna of a grandson.

May America find healing for its deeply racists wounds.

Mr. Twitty writes, inter alia, that:

I received a nasty tweet last night; a tweet with a food theme in fact.  Michael Brown’s bleeding corpse with pictures of food transposed around it—fried chicken, bananas, watermelon, with Kool-Aid to wash it down.  My chest hurt and then I stared into space and before I knew it, I vomited.  It was not nausea—it was anger mixed with revulsion and memories from lives only my cells know.
I want you to understand something—I’ve been on multiple plantations and urban sites dealing with slavery. I’ve felt the Ancestors in the fields. I’ve seen the auction block and the whipping post and the hanging tree.  I embrace it, I own it, and I live it through food so I can say “Never Again,” with confidence.  I do the work that I do to educate people about the genesis of America’s original sin—I consider myself steeled. This however, was different—this was personal; that body could have been me.
Swirling around us are accusations, whispers and rumors about a “gentle giant,” named Michael Brown.  Michael Brown cannot be defined by the politics of respectability or the politics of backlash.

Later, he explains:

I am trying to be hopeful. I see Americans of all colors putting their hands up saying “Don’t shoot.”  Solidarity is spreading from rally to rally; there are new kids on the block—and they don’t want the bitter fruit of the past. The old canards that this is a race war a la Mo Brooks have no truth here—we are embracing anyone who will embrace us, loving anyone who will love us, respecting anyone who will respect us, and we want desperately to believe that we—in our protest, in our pursuit of justice through the courts of law, in our demands for information—are the epitome of what it means to be American.
To my foodie friends: throw your hands up!  Listen, we do ourselves no favors when we pretend that food is a respite from the matters of the day.  Where do we go when we want to feel better and hash out our grievances and vent?  We go to the table.  Given that I am often the only Black guy, or one of five Black people period at many food events, I want you to know what this harassment means when you see me/us encounter it.  I want you to step out of the fantasy that food is freedom from socio-cultural politics and just remember to be aware of the cues and clues that injustice and inequality are ever close and we must all be vigilant.
But I ask, as James Baldwin once asked, “How much time do you want, for your progress?”
Please don’t shoot!

Please go read the entire post. I’d love to read your reactions.

May Columbia guard us and enlighten us. May we learn to live together in justice and in peace. This is my will. So mote it be.

Picture found here.