Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #5 - Truth

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Write how you live your truth

Kant wrote lies injure us. Not those little exaggerations told to pump ourselves up on the playground, but the terrible omissions and manufactured manipulations necessary to maintain cycles of repression and subordination and slavery in the age of mass democracy. You know, the big lie.

There's much I've learned from books and newspapers but the truth is if you keep your head pointed down long enough you'll strain the muscles in your neck redering it incapable of looking up to hear what others are saying around you. Murmurings of truth, murmurings of revolution flutter in and out of framed windows and glass doors and coffee mugs and frying pans. We know we can't go on like this; stuck in an intellectual prison yearing to break free from the tyranny of irrationality and exploitation.

It's something my coworkers and I agree upon quite regularly. It's something cellular, underneath the skin, we feel it in our bones. It's nearly sacrilege to put any of it down on paper, it moves freely. The truth needs no defense. It stands alone. Some lose sight and collectively we grieve for what we've lost. But still we would welcome them with amrs reaching and hands oustretched the moment they chose to give up defending the lie. Slef justification is always worse than the original offense.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #4 - Fear

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Write of a time you've faced your fears

What is a phobia? A traumatic encounter with the personification of dread or terror seared in your memory in such a way it locks up your willingness to venture beyond into the unkown?

They say you're better off living with no regrets or that your only regret in life would be not having lived it. If that's the case then what would ever stand in your way to hold you back? I'm not afraid to die, I can say that much. Perhaps death is the only certainty. If not this, then what do I fear and how do I face it?

I fear one day I'll look up around this beloved frontier town and see none of its old faces or hear its languages spoken or drive by its dilapidated boarded-up storefronts.
I fear the culmination of culture this town has harbored for generations would fade away into the background, overshadowed by the monied and educated interests with their half-baked ideas of urbanism.
I fear my friends would have lived a life not knowing the wonders of its open plazas and outdoor music festivals and off-the-map eateries.
I fear for the children growing up without the experience of a lazy Sunday afternoon spent at Woodlawn lake feeding the ducks with bread crumbs in one hand and an El Paraiso paleta in the other.
I fear for the families absent along the river's banks who will never know all its healing powers and flowing mystical waters.
I fear the political structure will continue to elect and delegate and administer, in their twisted definition of "good faith", while the homeless and students and coworkers are left naked in the street begging with open hands.

How do I face this? It starts right here on this page as I turn and face you. Stand with me. Tonight we begin.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #3 - Shadow

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Cast a light on your shadow. Write what comes into view

I see those consumed by the shadow and where it leads them: all limbs splayed out on the bottom four corners, sucking dry the last drops from the edges stained glass bottle, slick tongues so wicked to conjure all the unwarranted slander and libel and gossip by night while doling out prison sentences and propaganda by day, the child's stunted wonder and maimed imagination growing not by the reach of the trees baptized in spring but in between the number crunching of another wasted school semester's commercial breaks.

Meanwhile, I sit still and long for the sun to pass overhead at the right angle. Any given agle I wait for and I've waited a long time. Thirty years I've waited. I'm all the ages I've ever been.

The shadow appears carrying with it all the lifteimes I've known and haven't known and will never know because not all wounds grow to heal. Was the shadow ever broken as I? Who else was going to pick up the pieces? What does the shadow lament? Still, I sit and wait and see: the shadow gives shade. Others run to my side escaping persecution from the sweltering heat, from the mid-day burning. They dance overjoyed to rest in my presence. I have no water for them, the sweat off my brow is too salty to share. They don't mind. All they wanted was release, relief. They don't see the signs of my shadow looming. All they know is the shade.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #2 - Light

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Write what burning you've endured for your light to shine

Do I leave room in my days for radiance? For brilliance? If reality is perception and perception is fantasy then our memories become flashes of light told in story form. Camera obscura means dark room and what's needed is for the light to enter to begin the recording. The camera captures the light in a flash. I remember.

Put your fingers to the flame. You feel the burning, don't you? All night I admired the fire the way my ancestors would. You know they burned the intestines of sacrificed animals in their campfires to discover the prophecies of the events in the lifetimes to come. They didn't burn the brains because they knew any true knowledge came from the heart, from the guts.

As the days go on part of me remains eager for the light switch to click, but then I remember. Have you ever had a bonafide epiphany? I mean, the kind you read about in books. You know, the kind where people would say you've lost it if you ever revealed to them, tried to deliver through language some sort of coherent and comprehensible explanation? Who would ever label the rivers as emotionally unstable? Who would scold the sun to watch its temper? Even the hardened stones at the bottom of the river bed, weathered by years of the river's shifting currents and elongated periods of drought, gleam in the brilliant sunshine.

You emit light. You do. I create space, make room. This room. Yes, I do.

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #1 - Freedom

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt

  • Write what stands in your path on the road to freedom

Each morning I rise with my body to move me. My voice carries and commands my physiological needs to my self and to others. My mind arranges the pieces in such a way to harbor joy and manifest knowledge and wisdom. I walk into the room and see mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, yearning for what lies beyond, what seeps beneath, for what has been lost and for what remains. Something more, they cry out, they clamor for. We struggle to remember a life before. Our legs are tired from the race, we wish not to compete with anyone, only to uplift. The old code lives on within the people: ritual, honor of the word, reverence, elation. Adept at adapting to the new code of ambition, accumulation, and satisfaction, we wish to return to the freedom we forgot. What could be crafted? What could be created? It starts with you and I.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gemini Ink Writing Lab - Week #12 - Revolutions

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism

Writing prompt
  • Revolt or revolve? Write the vision for your perfect revolution and the aftermath to follow

The proposition for the Revolution, in three currents, is laid out as follows:

The first, assimilation. We find ourselves seated at the cook's table of hegemony with beggar's hands outstretched, politely asking to be passed the bread, wine and cheese. We are asked to deny our cultural origins and our vocabulary is replaced with the phrases "civic duty", "tax payer", "economic development", and other opaque sprinklings of pretentious propaganda. After our tongues grow tired with obligatory lip service, we are graciously given the so-called opportunity of donning the uniform, alliances are weaved behind closed door and we find ourselves seated atop the wooden dais in the center of the council chambers. We pledge our allegiance in our formal regalia and command the future of living, breathing communities with one click of the electronic buzzer. We frame the ladders of bureaucracy upon our bedroom walls and when we lay to rest at night even our deepest dreams can't recall what it is we were fighting for. There is no more struggle. We've made it. There is no one left to help besides ourselves and we can't look back.

The second, resistance. We put our families well-being in danger with the act of devoting our lives to the cause. No sleep is given. We march into city hall with our pitchforks and livestock and pro-bono civil rights attorneys and we step up to the podium for the measley three minutes we're allotted and we shout so loud our lungs burst. The high court looks on, no, the high court looks over us to peruse the remaining items listed on the day's agenda. Most of the court is not present, for reasons unbeknownst to us. There is no dialouge to be had. After a few from our camp regain composure we look around to see the sick and the dying and the journalists paint the picture of the spectacle. We've become the court jesters, smeared in the cunny papers of the daily news. The phrase "justified outrage" is nowhere to be found in these reports. A new issue arises the next week and we appear and we reappear and we reappear. At this point we're given the award for perfect attendance but still our demands remain unmet. And we're so exhausted we can't lift a finger to spark the staging of the next plot during dinner time meal.

The third, infiltration. We arm ourselves to the teeth with knowledge. We revive the ancient texts set ablaze by the Spanish, the English, the French, the Dutch, the Portuguese in the conquista and the reconquista. We bring to the light the cultural cleansing and criminal atrocities committed in the name of the empire. We play by their rules only in the mask of the persona so as not to reveal our secret identity. We wear proudly...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gemini Ink Writing Lab - Week #11 - Death

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism

Writing prompt
  • Write what you would lay to rest

Poem: Summer's Afternoon Dirge (draft)

In a house of wailing,
the walking stick taps out
a rhythm on the chapel floor,
drowning the sound of wounded cries.

Weeping, we march down the aisle
to offer our phraseless laments
deemed no match for the sorrow
seated in the front row pew.

Death sought standing room only,
and our blessed hands dipped
in the fountains of holy water
could not console.