Houston under water, America troubled

The news has been of Houston flooded and more rain coming.  There is a FEMA director which is good, that’s about it in terms of federal support.  The governor and mayor are fighting over the evacuate not evacuate issue.  Even with a natural disaster, we cannot get along.

Our President has set a divisive tone from his bizarro world take on the White Supremacists rallies in Charlottesville and the spirited resistance and response to Nazis, White Nationalists and Klan members and the death of law enforcement officers and the murder of Heather Heyer.  If ever someone wanted to illustrate a definition of the phrase “speaks with forked tongue” it would be of Trump at that news conference a few days afterwards. This is deeply disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising.  45 is a man of few words, but most of them hurt: Muslims, women, transgender people, refugees, migrants esp. from Mexico, and of course Black people–he was the guy who created the “birther” narrative.  But mostly he hurts this nation and so few in his party have either the power, courage or concern to actually stand up to him and his ilk.  The more obvious White nationalists are off the White House staff, but the ideas are there and will not go away.

I hate racism.   I work hard to uphold the beauty and power of my tribe: Black Americans are amazing group of humans.  Everything that could be done to humans has been done to us by those who adhere to White supremacy–even those who claim”I am not a racist”.  Well maybe you’re aren’t, but your comfortable life is based on institutional racism: it curbs competition for education, jobs, political power; it upholds the cultural idea of who is supposed to “look American”; it allows for policies that ultimately hurt everyone-esp. the militarization of police departments across this nation.

The irony about Houston under water and what will have to happen for funding to recover this part of Texas is that the very legislators who voted TO NOT FUND SUPERSTORM SANDY RECOVERY are now going to have to ask for help.  Many of these Congresspeople do not think climate change exists and they are often elected on their anti-science, anti-environmental, racist attitudes disguised as pro-law enforcement–they like the President speak with forked tongues.  In this nation and in this world, our troubles are man made.

Poet friends

Black women make beautiful poets: E. Hunt, H. Mullen, T. Foster & E. J. Antonio

In an era of intense #resistance to what is now the status quo, we need to remember how important it is to know history; to honor those who love and built our nation, not those who fought to tear it apart; that those in power esp. those who bully and dishonor their positions need to imprisoned, not pardoned.  #Resistance is important, but sometimes fighting back is also and ultimately, replacing those who create, produce and support racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-environmental, anti-science, anti-rule of law policies.  If we do not, the clownish concentration camp that Sheriff Joe once ran will be in every city and state in this country.  We deserve so much better than what we have right now.

The city joyful. They city traditional. The city holding on

La Casita LCOD

La Casita, a happy little girl.






Grace Note

There is a little girl happy at La Casita

See her compose her dance as the band

Launches a jibaro tune from Old San Juan

Watch her smile rise and her little legs

Loop before the stage’s apron.  She’s

The grace note, the sweet dream of

Manny Vega’s phantasmagorical temple

To community: the laughter, the dominoes

The courting couples, the elders resting

The garden fertile with peppers, squash

And greens from around the globe.

–Patricia Spears Jones

I wrote this poem after performing at La Casita, the annual summer celebration of community, poetry, music and dance resulting from Manny Vega (the artist) and his friend’s celebration of the gardens and meeting places that seemed to spontaneously develop in Puerto Rican neighborhoods throughout New York City–the little house, la casita was a place where the old and young could talk and sing and play dominoes and bond.  Each year the curators pull together poets and musicians and performers to present work and this year I had the honor of reading in Hearst Plaza at Lincoln Center.  And that little girl who danced her 2-3 year old girl’s dance represented for all the audience. She is a reminder that there is joy in this city; that children are loved; that artists make new and important work; that the sun shines for the artists on a day when rain was threatened.  I was not well enough to hear all of the performers, but I left as Persian music (including poems by Rumi) was being performed by Haleh.  It comes from a great tradition as did the Puerto Rican music the little girl so loved and its spirits helps me, all of us hold on.

Band performing La Casita

Haleh-Persians singing Rumi, et al