Monday, September 12, 2011

Read This!

I know, September 11th is over. We did our honoring ceremonies, paid numerous tributes to the dead, their friends and families and bowed our heads appropriately at every Major League Baseball game and National Football League game. While surfing the channels on TV last night in the motel here in Socorro, New Mexico, I even heard one announcer mention that it was after midnight, (I was watching the Cubs/Mets broadcast from New York City), "....and now it is September 12th."

I mentioned the tragedy of September 11, 2001 on my Shadow Shot Sunday blog post yesterday. I mentioned it. Just as I mention D-Day, June 6, 1944 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, (It was December 8th in Japan). I'm pretty sure I mention the day John Lennon was killed, December 8, 1980. Then, I went on and posted my Shadow Shot Sunday photos and explained them. Business as usual.

I checked my e-mail, and forwarded to me was this very striking piece written by Emmanuel Ortiz, a Chicano/Puerto Rican/Irish-American activist and spoken-word poet that now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This expression, entitled "A Moment of Silence", made me stand up and notice.

I noticed what kind of world we live in. How we treat our fellow man. That we allow the atrocities, bombings, killing, injustices and judgement of others for reasons of superiority, as in Super Power superiority. It made me ashamed that I have placed my activism aside lately.

The feeling I have now is that the people that come visit my blog, largely an art crowd these days as I have subscribed to weekly meme projects, don't mention the political scene and world situation except to mention national disasters like storms, earthquakes, tornadoes, tidal waves and hurricanes. Many are from Australia, England, India, Philippines, Canada and the good ole USA. The politics and status of the world is not openly discussed.

When I started blogging way back in  2005, I jumped on the politics band wagon. I'd 'sing to the choir' and force my opinions down the throats of my blog friends. Since they were all doing the same, we all read each others unprofessional editorials and patted each others backs for agreeing with each other. I got away from this over time, yet remained a concerned citizen as far as matters of state were concerned.

That brings me to the heart of the matter for today's post. The piece written by the above mentioned poet and spoken-word activist, Emmanuel Ortiz.  Everyone has an opinion, I share mine with Mr. Ortiz and apologize for allowing myself to forget some of the events he mentions in "A Moment of Silence".

A Moment of Silence

Emmanuel Ortiz
Before I begin this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.
I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the U.S., and throughout the world.
And if I could just add one more thing…
A full day of silence… for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.
Six months of silence… for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result
of a 12-year U.S. embargo against the country.
…And now, the drums of war beat again.
Before I begin this poem, two months of silence… for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where “homeland security” made them aliens in their own country
Nine months of silence… for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin, and the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence… for the millions of dead in Viet Nam —a people, not a war—for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
Two months of silence… for the decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.
Before I begin this poem,
Seven days of silence… for El Salvador
A day of silence… for Nicaragua
Five days of silence… for the Guatemaltecos
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence… for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas…
1,933 miles of silence… for every desperate body
That burns in the desert sun
Drowned in swollen rivers at the pearly gates to the Empire’s underbelly,
A gaping wound sutured shut by razor wire and corrugated steel.
25 years of silence… for the millions of Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
For those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees
In the south… the north… the east… the west…
There will be no dna testing or dental records to identify their remains.
100 years of silence… for the hundreds of millions of indigenous people
From this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness…
From somewhere within the pillars of power
You open your mouths to invoke a moment of our silence
And we are all left speechless,
Our tongues snatched from our mouths,
Our eyes stapled shut.
A moment of silence,
And the poets are laid to rest,
The drums disintegrate into dust.
Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence…
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.
Not like it always has been.
…Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem…
This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th 1973 poem for Chile.
This is a September 12th 1977 poem for Steven Biko in South Africa.
This is a September 13th 1971 poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York.
This is a September 14th 1992 poem for the people of Somalia.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground amidst the ashes of amnesia.
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told,
The 110 stories that history uprooted from its textbooks
The 110 stories that that cnn, bbc, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.
This is a poem for interrupting this program.
This is not a peace poem,
Not a poem for forgiveness.
This is a justice poem,
A poem for never forgetting.
This is a poem to remind us
That all that glitters
Might just be broken glass.
And still you want a moment of silence for the dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves,
The lost languages,
The uprooted trees and histories,
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children…
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.
So if you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines, the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights
Delete the e-mails and instant messages
Derail the trains, ground the planes.
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window
of Taco Bell
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses
and the Playboys.
If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July,
During Dayton’s 13 hour sale,
The next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful brown people have gathered.
You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence.
Take it.
Take it all.
But don’t cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.
And we,
We will keep right on singing
For our dead.
Emmanuel Ortiz is a third-generation Chicano/Puerto Rican/Irish-American community organizer and spoken word poet. He is the author of a chapbook of poems, The Word Is a Machete (self-published, 2003), and coeditor of Under What Bandera?: Anti-War Ofrendas from Minnesota y Califas (Calaca Press, 2004). He is a founding member of Palabristas: Latin@ Word Slingers, a collective of Latin@ poets in Minnesota. Emmanuel has lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oakland, California; and the Arizona/Mexico border. He currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the “buckle of the Bible Belt,” with his two dogs, Nogi and Cuca. In his spare time, he enjoys guacamole, soccer, and naps.

My Grandson once wrote on a piece of paper at the kitchen table these words. I offer them to you today:

Peace please, Thank you 


Jeannie said...

Well, that was said better than I or many others could say it.

I had to keep my thoughts to myself yesterday for fear of offending where no offense was meant - but perspective.

We are not a good species.

Kathleen Barnes said...

Any moment given to the contemplation of the loss of innocent lives is a moment well spent. I refuse to feel guilty.

mig said...

if enough people will be silent for these reasons eventually the noisy people will hear the truth, surely?

I've read two blogs today that reassured me that there are quiet voices raised against violence today and this is one of them. Thank you 'Man.

Mel said...

((((((((( Spadoman )))))))))))

I believed myself to be a compassionate person--and then experience changed my perspective and I learned a whole new 'level' of compassion.
Experience is a teacher that I don't always welcome but have learned to get around to embracing. It solidifies and connects things for me.

Knowledge changes me from the outside in--experience changes me from the inside out. When head knowledge becomes heart knowledge through experience, it's a powerful, passionate and sometimes painful awakening.

I suspect that's true for many. I know that's true for me.

There is no moment of silence 'long enough'.
There are 'not enough' uplifted prayers.

Mine is just one.

It feels inadequate.

I offer it anyway.
My heart won't let me do less.

Anne said...

Posts like this make me proud to be your friend. Say hello to Mrs. Spadoman for me and have a great visit. Peace.