Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Silver and Gold and Such as I Have

I received a call in the middle of the night, a call that chased away my sleep for the remainder of the night and that left me with a heavy heart and with a sense of futility and helplessness. The soft voice at the other end was calm and measured, but there was a certain desperation and an almost seductiveness to it. After the call ended, I felt an emptiness inside. Gone was my resolve to add my little drop to the bucket, to leave my little mark, to do what wee bit I could. The expression of need at that hour of the night from that individual was like the need of the world writ large, and in that moment I felt alone. I also felt a sense of my own need. My own lack and paucity vis a vis the things of this life became palpable. But not only that, the idea of the profound deprivation among the many became instantly overwhelming. I wanted to board the next plane, to run away, to escape, back to New York City (an absurdity considering...). 

I spent the rest of the night tossing fitfully in bed. Even sleep was disheartened and discouraged by the call and thus took flight. I got up at first light still burdened, overwhelmed, heavy, smothered, and somewhat angry. Angry at what? I could not tell. I know there was an army out there, but I kept thinking there was only one of me. It's 6:00 A.M., and the kiskadees, wrens, and other feathered friends are out and about and with their singing bringing back some measure of calm to my inner turbulence. And I am slowly becoming resigned to the reality of my lack of silver and gold, but it is my "such-as-I-have" (which, as far as I can determine, is nothing) that is the puzzle. I am trying to figure out what that is, and maybe the knowledge of what it is will put me back on track and rekindle my resolve.

[photo art by Ric Couchman]

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Criteria

The Criteria

And so follows the tedious and overused ritual.
Listen to the solemn sounding political leaders
Full of praise for the efficiency of the police,
Lauding the efforts of the emergency services.
Hear the supposed rationale explained
About how they hate us, hate our freedom.
Note the moments of silence, flags at half staff.
Watch the parade of experts as they analyze,
Opinionating on possible intention and responses.
Observe the show of solidarity on social media,
The superimposed flags on FaceBook and Twitter.
Read or see the endless news media coverage...
For Westminster.
Not for the forty decapitated in the Kasai district.
(Where is that? Who were they?)
Not for the civilians bombed by airstrikes in al-Jadida.
(Who were they? Where is that?)
Not for those killed in suicide attack in Mogadishu.
(Where is that? Who were they?)
Where is the Kasai district, al-Jadida, Mogadishu?
Not in Europe, N. America, Australia, or New Zealand.
Who were the victims in Kasai, Al-Jadida, Mogadishu?
Brown or black-skinned people.

[photo art by Ric Couchman]

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Radicalization 101


The iron birds are at it again,
Raining down fiery death and scorching pain,
Leaving in their booming wake,
Hearts hardened and bubbling with bitter hate.

Dug out of al-Jadida's ashy rubble,
The civilian dead are numbered in the scores,
But the jihadis, supposed cause of all the trouble,
Their count stands at merely three, or four.

What's the excuse for such deplorable carnage?
Listen to the Coalition spew out their flimsy verbiage,
Speaking of the bad guys' use of human shields,
While their airstrikes turn Mosul into a killing field.

Are these Pentagon Generals so foolishly blind?
Can't they see it's not only the fanatic's sermon that turns the mind
But also those bombs, the grim destroyers of limb and life,
Radicalizing, endlessly fanning the flames of hatred and strife?

Meanwhile, the UN can talk only of its profound concern,
While hapless Mosul and al-Jadida burn and burn.
Silent they are about the Coalition's war crimes,
Offering no expectation of justice in our current lifetime.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Death in the Family

My youngest sister lost her brother yesterday. He was my brother, too, but my sister and he spent most of their lives together, so the pain and sorrow at his passing weighs far more heavily on her than it does on me. I am, nonetheless, quite saddened by his death, for I was involved in his life when he was a baby and until about age three. I helped take care of him during my mid to late teens and only reconnected with him about four years ago. His was a hard and difficult life. Developmentally disabled, he lost his father (my father also) when he was about five years old and experienced hardship the rest of his life. His mother struggled to provide for him and his sister and was never seen or heard from again after leaving to go into the "bush" to make money, leaving his sister (then barely a teenager) to take care of him. Addie, as he was called, had two passions - dray carts and Banco wine, and it was the latter which, no doubt, was instrumental in his passing. Last year as I was visiting his sister (my sister too) I found him passed out in a nearby ditch. He had had too much to drink. Luckily, the ditch was dry and barely had any water in it. This time, though, our dear Addie was not so lucky. It had been raining heavily the past two days, and he was found enveloped in the comforting embrace of the waters in a trench. Addie is now at peace from the hardship and turmoil that was most of his life. 

[photo art by Ric Couchman]

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Pope and the War Criminal

If I were in the country of Rwanda I would be prosecuted and put into prison for writing the following. I would be charged with denying the official narrative of the genocide in Rwanda during the mid-90s. The official narrative is the narrative that presents the Tutsis as the sole victims of the genocide, that presents Paul Kagame as the hero who ended it, and that gave us Hollywood's "Hotel Rwanda". It is the narrative that leaves out Paul Kagame's complicity (along with the CIA, according to former UN Secretary General, Boutros Ghali) in the deaths of the heads of state of Rwanda and Burundi, his invasion of Rwanda from Uganda, the deaths of countless numbers of Hutus at the hands of his soldiers, and his subsequent invasion of the Congo which resulted in even more atrocities against Hutu refugees. I would be prosecuted for saying that President Paul Kagame, the Washington regime's (from Bill Clinton to Obama) "boy" in Rwanda (and also Tony Blair's boy), is a war criminal. Imagine my surprise when I read recently that Pope Francis asked forgiveness "for the sins and failings of the Church and its members” during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide." But what was even more disturbing was that Pope Francis said it to President Kagame, the very man who, far from being the one who stopped the genocide (according to the official narrative) was himself responsible for the genocide. The Pope was apologizing to the worst war criminal currently on the planet. How could he not know? 

Monday, March 20, 2017



One more demonized,
Never have I seen.
Yet you stand,
Compared to the others - 
The stone throwers - 
Head and shoulders above,
A saint by comparison. 
If you have killed,
So have they...
And greater more by far.
Didn't one say the other day,
"Turns out I am really good..."?
He meant, "at killing people."
You are no Mother Theresa
Nor are you Mandela,
Not by a stretch,
But more rational
More sensible,
More of a leader than the rest
You appear to be.
As incongruous as it might seem,
Perhaps the deliverance
Of this unipolar world
Rests with you.

[photo art by Ric Couchman]

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Real Issue

The people protesting President Donald Trump's travel ban mean well, and those politicians delivering speeches against it on the floor of the House also mean well. Of course, those protesters and politicians ought to keep making their voices heard. However, it is imperative that they not lose sight of the real issue, namely, the U.S. imperialist agenda, the achievement of which has been sought through never-ending wars and sanctions. These sanctions and wars on the people of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa have been the cause of the mass exodus of people from the six countries designated in the travel ban. So if those good and well-meaning politicians an protesters desire to make a meaningful impact they should turn out in full force to protest those never-ending wars instead. 

It was the US backed invasion of Somalia by the Ethopian Army in 2006 (and the subsequent civil war) that has caused over a million Somalis to flee their beloved country. It was the US lead NATO airstrikes on Libyia and the subsequent rise of opposing, warring factions there, as well as US armed support for rebel factions in Syria that have caused the massive displacement of people from both those countries. It was US backing of oil rich South Sudan, causing it to split from North Sudan, followed by the eruption of civil war in that newly formed country that has caused the displacement of thousands of South Sudanese. Of course, the devastating and crippling US sanctions on Iran have wreaked havoc on that country's economy, causing thousands of Iranians to take flight. Lastly, it is because of the US supported bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and also the US supported blockade of that country by Saudi Arabia that have turned countless numbers of Yemenis into refugees. One such, is a man I met recently. His name is Mohamed. With tears in his eyes, he said to me, "They have destroyed my country."

Protest the never-ending wars that cause innocent people to flee their lands to come to the United States in the first place.

[photo art by Ric Couchman]