#waterislife

by Rachael Button

Weagamow First Nation,
Northern Ontario

“Residents of a remote northern Ontario First Nation are in crisis mode after the community’s drinking water was contaminated because of broken pipes, forcing officials to shut down the school and fly in bottled water.” –Martha Troian, CBC News

Fact:  There are 139 First Nations under boil-water advisories

It began with taps
bleeding sediment:

a severed pipe,
a broken pump:

800 boxes of bottled water,
brought by plane.

It began when washing
made children bleed

cheeks blooming rashes:
skin laced by sores,

and words like “e coli”,
dropped by nurses
set up in stations where no water runs.

It takes 14 days,
till this state becomes an emergency.

So the Weagamow wash faces
with baby wipes,

collect hours
like empty bottles,

repeat their story,
and wait for water.

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3 cents of advice

by Matty Layne

Three Killed in Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting, Suspect Detained” – Newsweek

The Five Black Lives Matter Protesters Shot in Minneapolis” – The Atlantic

buy a semi-automatic handgun for $200.
death has a price tag. automatic guns are
better for your line of work because you
can just hold down the trigger, but they
are hard to come by. semi-automatic means
you really mean it because you have to
pull the trigger for each bullet. pull the
trigger for each target because you mean it.
if you can find a gun show giving away free
bullets with your purchase, go there. the
more bullets, the better. you have so much
work to do. but either way, buy a box of
a hundred bullets for $2.99 and shoot them
all. that’s less than 3 cents per bullet—
a noble investment. every person you shoot
is worth less than 3 cents, so spend 3 cents
on each bullet and shoot them.

shoot them because they look dangerous.
shoot them because they could be packing
heat in their hoodies beneath their hoods.
put on your hood and shoot them because
they keep chanting “black lives matter” on
the corner when you know all lives matter
and black lives don’t really matter so shoot
them. shoot them and run away so you can
go shoot others that need to be shot. you
have so much work to do.

shoot them because they are alive and trying
to kill the helpless. help those who can’t help
themselves. keep them alive by killing the
people trying to kill them. shoot the officers
who try to protect the people who won’t
protect the little unborn babies. shoot them in
their patrol cars and on the street. shoot any-
one who comes to stop you. shoot the mother
before she can kill her baby. she wants to be
a murderer so shoot the mother to save her
unborn baby. 3 cents to save a baby’s life.

shoot me. shoot me first because I can’t watch
you shoot all of these people. I hate blood. it
really irks me. shoot me in the eyes so I don’t
have to see the blood. shoot me in the forehead
so I don’t have to think about all of the blood
you will spill. shoot me because I am tired and 3
cents is so much less than the pills all of this
blood makes me want to swallow one by one
like little sleep-filled bullets. shoot me.

How Freedom Feels

by Rachael Button

Guinea’s last Ebola patient recovers in Conakry“-BBC

Sierra Leone Says Bye-Bye To Ebola With Rap Song And Hip Dance Moves“-NPR

For weeks in 2014,
I wondered
if the world would end–

bloodied mattresses
stolen from hospitals
and children curled
on sweat-soaked blankets
red eyes,
black vomit,
and bodies held close
under quarantine–

I lived these fears
in dreams and photographs
posted on the internet
pictures of
of blood-stained
hospital sheets,
and soldiers with sticks
walking quarantine boundaries.
Pictures of fields filled
with black signs
naming the dead.

Like everyone else,
I worried the lace-shaped virus
would mutate,
leaving whole countries
vulnerable
to the space between
breathing bodies.

So, today,
when doctors declared
their final patient in Guinea–
a baby girl born
to an infected mother–
was Ebola free,

I held hope:

gratitude,
for doctors and nurses
who shed their fear
to strap on their suits,
for workers
who stayed
to wipe blood from floors
for children
who sang
recovery songs,
filling hospital wings
with their prayers,
for Red Cross volunteers
who taught families
how to dig graves
wearing gloves,
for hearts braver
then mine,
stories to tell,
and hands to work.

I held hope
because in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
they are shaping hands
into “V” for victory,
letting skin brush skin,
holding each other in hugs,
in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
they are waving bye
to Ebola
in crowds for television,
in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone they are singing
“Thank God that it’s over,
no time for the haters,”
letting music fill their hips
azonto
soldiers and survivors
students and ETC staff
nurses and pastors
swaying
elbows
shoulders
as they dance.

Ripples

by Kasey Shutz

Paris Attacks Kill More Than 100, Police Say; Border Controls Tightened“-NY Times

While they huddled on the floor,
sweat soaking through flimsy clothing meant for dancing and not bullets
eyes clenched, lips moving in silent prayers
breathing in the smell of old carpet, cologne, and gunpowder
I sat in an office, wiling away the time until the weekend,
unaware that on the other side of the sunset,
bullets were ripping through flesh and bone,
a spray of gravel launched into clear water,
marring the surface,
Sending ripples ever outward
of panic, anger, hatred, fear, numbness.
one day the ripples will dissipate,
swallowed up in an abyss of memory,
a history of gravel sunk beneath the placid surface,
one more scar crisscrossing the world’s bleeding body.
But the effects will remain
refugees turned back,
accused of working for the same people that drove them away
the call to prayer seen as a call to arms,
looks of distrust and suspicion at every turn.

The truth is,
we forgot we were at war,
sending sons and daughters,
fathers and mothers,
friends and lovers
beyond the horizon
deploying machines to do our killing,
one more level in the game of war.
We forgot that each target
is someone’s brother, sister, father, mother, lover, friend.
We forgot that it could come back to us,
that we are not impenetrable,
while we threw rocks in their pond,
we forgot that they could throw right back at us.
Nothing we can say will make it okay,
nothing we can do will turn back the clock,
we can never erase the ripples in the water.
But maybe this time we can let the gravel fall from our bloodied fingers
maybe this time we can reach out instead of pushing away.
Maybe this time we can wage peace.

13 Novembre 2015

by Ron Martin-Dent

French Authorities Say The Death Toll In Paris Attacks Could Exceed 120“-NPR

Snow is falling in Paris
like ash
like debris;
The city dims its illustrious lights.

A mother cries in grief
in anger
in fear
for the loss of her son.
for the sins of her son.
They came here to escape
to start over
to heal.
How could the battle have followed them here?

A father cries in grief
in anger
in fear
for the loss of his daughter.
for the theft of his daughter.
She turned fifteen today,
and she wanted to celebrate
to have fun with her friends
at a café on la rue.
Who could have stolen his treasure away?

«Liberté. Egalité. Fraternité,»
dit Robespierre,
mais le pays est brisé
et a peur
et a triste

A priest kneels in grief
in prayer
in Our Lady
for the strength to go on.
for the words to pass on.
The faithful will turn
to him
for comfort.
Would God give him the language to mourn yet again?

An imam kneels in grief
in supplication
in prayer
for the lives that were lost.
for those men who were lost.
Seeds of hatred were planted
in their minds
in their hearts.
Will Allah give him courage to plant seeds of peace?

«La guerre de troi aura lieu,»
dit Cassandre,
une fois encore
et encore
et encore

Old hatreds run deep,
as do violence
and fear.
And the snow falls in Paris
like ash
like debris;
A pall lying over the city of lights.

Il n’y aura pas de la paix
avant que le monde réconcilie.

A Dream Deferred

by Kasey Shultz

College Students Across the Country Stand in Solidarity with Mizzou” –Huffington Post

A Dream Deferred
Empty classrooms amid fear of violence
Tent cities and hunger strikes,
Fists raised in anger, defiance
Fighting for the right to be seen,
The right to be heard,
The right to learn without planning escape routes,
The right to walk down the sidewalk
Without that constant knot of fear,
An exhausting shell of strength
In the face of taunts, stares, threats.

We trace the paths of MLK,
His words creeping up through the ground,
Intertwining with the metal birds, captured in mid flight,
Straining for a freedom we can only dream of.
The Negro is still not free
One hundred fifty years since Emancipation
Still crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination
Fifty years since Civil Rights
A lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity
Eight years since post-racial America
And yet here we are
Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content
Will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual
They point to laws, athletes, TV shows, presidents,
Reprimanding us for our dissatisfaction
We will never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim
Of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality
They spread rumors, appealing to fear,
Citing riots, thugs, overreaction, escalation
We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied
Until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream”
We stand up with our bodies,
We cannot walk alone
Clasp hands to stop them from shaking,
We cannot turn back
Link arms to keep from collapsing
Beneath so much hatred and fear and pain.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
Where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
But by the content of their character
Sticks and stones can’t compare to the words
That worm their way into the hollow of your chest,
Threatening your life, your health, your faith in humanity
A violation that keeps you up at night.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Missouri,
A state sweltering with the heat of injustice,
Sweltering with the heat of oppression,
Will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice
We are tired of dreaming of a day that hasn’t come
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
We are tired of being told these things take time
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation
Into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood
We are tired of sitting on the sidelines,
Keeping quiet, being patient,
Waiting for the dream to arrive.
With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together,
To struggle together, to go to jail together,
To stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day

We are tired of a world where ‘one day’ is not today
From every mountainside, let freedom ring
So we are standing now
Let it ring from every village and every hamlet
From every state and every city
In protest and solidarity.
Join hands and sing
To those who would threaten
All of God’s children
We are watching.

#InSolidarityWithMizzou

Refuge(es)

by Rachael Button

(responding to: Migrant crisis: How one city in Germany is coping)

Last night my husband and I held hands
and dreamed of a home
big enough to hold

the refugees
we’d seen
in videos
of Red Cross camps,
where too many children
line up for styrofoam boats of beans.

On BBC
I watched a woman
in a headscarf
and a hoody
cradle an infant in overalls
and describe the rubber raft
that held her
when she crossed
on rolling waves
her son swaddled
in a life vest
twice his size.

And so,
my husband and I walked
toward our rented cabin
thinking about pain
that makes
a women brave enough
to step into a boat
that bounced beneath her weight.

But it’s easy to
give away
rooms we don’t have,
and holding Peter’s hand,
in the waning light
I knew we’d never be able to buy
a house
big enough–

our lamp lit windows
look so small
in a world that chases so many
so far
from home.

Unburdened

by Kasey Shultz

Gum wall gets naked in early-morning steam cleaning“-Seattle Times

They say if you swallow gum,
It will linger,
Plastered to your stomach lining,
Clinging to your intestines,
A seven-year journey of stickiness.

Left behind beneath desks
Lying in wait for your dress shoes.
Sticky masses plastered to bricks
Like thumb tacks or graffiti
Marking the fact that you were here.

Some lingered threefold,
Graying with age and overshadowed,
While others had barely arrived
Only to fall before scalding jets,
Multicolored globules of germs
Peeling off one by one
Bricks sighing into the steam
Relieved of the weight of incessant tourism,
Naked and clean and unburdened.
Until it begins again.

Hero

by Matty Layne

Houston Equal Rights Ordinance fails by wide margin” -Houston Chronicle

A ballot has margins, & within
them the voter read Prop. 1,
better known as the “Bathroom Bill”
because that sounds less frightening
than equal rights—to some.
Some knew it was all about fear,
how the priests & pastors used
bills from their tithes & offerings
to a put a man in the woman’s
restroom, printed out the image with
a nice, pious sheen. Labeled the trans-
gendered as a man, a pedophile
to boot. I think they missed the
point. The priest mistook the poster
for a mirror as he beheld his prop-
aganda and cheered the day fear &
hate conquered hope. He’s the super-
hero saving us from ourselves while
we grow accustomed to our place
there, outside the text, beyond
the proposition on the ballot.
We just keep slipping deeper & deeper
into these widening margins.

Best Coast

by Kasey Shultz

Libraries in New York and Seattle Area Staging a Battle of the SortersNew York Times

The adrenaline is outta control
When you dropped that book in the bin,
Dog-eared pages smelling of tomato sauce
Where the tantalizing pull of those words
Trapped you in their web,
Distracting you from the mundanity of spaghetti,
You never thought you were fueling a showdown
Worthy of ballads, headlines, cinema, poetry.
We take it in stride
Unlike our stressed-out hyped-up East Coast compatriots
You forgot about its soft, flimsy cover,
Out of sight
Like checked luggage and landfills,
Out of mind.
When you see it on the shelf,
Tucked between books full of words
With more than two syllables,
You won’t wonder about its odyssey
Through mechanical traps and dusty bins,
Scanned, sorted, stacked, sent, shelved.
You won’t know how it made its way back to you.
But they will.