Monthly Archives: March 2006

Diary Post: the evil of banality

It isn’t the difficulties I face that disturb me, it’s the banality of the tasks before me that seem to take up so much of my life,  that by the time I have resolved a problem, I am too tired to take on anything interesting or important, too exhausted to create anything sustaining, to build community, to stand down power.
Thursday morning, for instance, my car needed to go into the shop.  Some of the repairs were routine, but the day before, I hit the curb and the splash pan fell down and was dragging so that the car could not be driven safely.  I called my mechanic and set up an appointment to have the car repaired.  I reserved a rental so I could get to work and take care of my son and myself.  I had doctor’s appointments the next day I could not miss.  I called my auto club for a tow and they told me the truck would be there in an hour.  It was three hours and several frantic phone calls later,  when the tow truck arrived.  I was barely able to drop the car off at the mechanic,  get the rental car, and arrive at work by 2 PM.
Very little of the other work I had planned to do that day, was accomplished, I had planned to set up doctor’s appointments, pay bills, settle up other bills, work on the upcoming human rights conference, including publicity, logistics and a few new speakers.   I did make a few phone calls in the morning and attack a few of these tasks while I was waiting for the tow truck but for the most part, the morning was shot with way too little to show for it.  I worked for three hours, came home, cooked dinner and collapsed.
One day done!

small insurrections: two poem on the anniversary of war

small insurrections: two poem on the anniversary of war
March 19 2006 (07:21:00) US/Pacific

There were demonstrations all over the world today.  I was not well enough to attend. I am learning to find quieter ways to fight.  Quiet struggle is not natural to me.  This illness will change me whether i want it to or not.  It seems my only choice is to find ways to allow this transition to be adaptive and not maladaptive.  I have been reading more, preparing to write more.  Focusing on matters closer to home, work, survival.  This system isolates us in so many ways, gets us caught up in the minutia of our lives so that we cannot engage in acts of resistance.  With all my breath I will find a way to be more than a cog in this brutal machine.
I wrote these poems three years ago, as the bombs began to drop.  I offer them today in defiance of the death machine.
Peace with Justice,
Emma Rosenthal
A Poem At the Break of War
March, 19, 2003

i can kill the mirror of my own likeness if i do not recognize myself
i can kill you if i do not know that killing you is killing you
i can kill you if i believe you kill me
i can kill you if i have been shattered
i can kill you if i love the sound of shattered glass
i can kill you if i want your death more than i want my life
i can kill you if i think the general is part of me
i can kill you if i love the flag more than the blood that soaks it
i can kill you if  red hands walk down cat walk runways
i can kill you for greed
i can kill you for fashion
i can kill you for land
i can kill you if i have no memory
i can kill you if memory tells me to
i can kill you if i abhor the womb
i can kill you if i despise the breast
i can kill you if the phallus is a weapon
i can kill  you if your children scare me and i wage a war against youth
i can kill you if i hate music
i can kill you if that song keeps playing in my head
i can kill you if the general sings lullabies to me while i sleep
while the general wages war against me
i can kill you if i believe the war is waged for me
i can kill you for privilege
i can kill you for expedience
i can kill you for luxury
i can kill you if i forget that killing you is killing me

i cannot kill you for truth or hope
i cannot kill you if i know who i see in the mirror
i cannot kill you if i love the womb
i cannot kill you if milk issues from my breasts
i cannot kill you if i know the phallus brings the possibility of life
through the tightness of connection
i cannot kill you if i love windy days on open cliffs
i cannot kill you if the songs of birds wake me before the generals lull me to sleep
i cannot kill you if my skin wakes up electric
i cannot kill you if i have been taught to think
i cannot kill you if i see you when i look in the mirror
i cannot kill you if your name dances in my mind
i cannot kill you if i dance naked in the rain
i cannot kill you if i see you naked and i love your wounds
i cannot kill you if the tides tell the time and the moon lights the night
i cannot kill you if i live on this rock in space and i know we live together
i cannot kill you if our words touch
i cannot kill you if i know you bleed
i cannot kill you if i hear your voice
i cannot kill you if i hear your prayers and chant them with you
i cannot kill you if i know your innocence
i cannot kill you if i see your children resting in your arms
i cannot kill you if i love the general and call him home
i cannot kill you if there is a river in my heart
This battle

a war based on
lies whispered in the night
in panic stored under pillows
in centuries of fear

this battle invites
the complexity of your existence
the embrace of one we have been told to hate
love against terror
passion over dominion

this battle affirms
the rejection of lies
in thirty second sound bytes
greedy promises
false alliance

this battle implores
we understand the complexion of wealth
the essence of water
the sanctity of land
the wall between neighbors

this battle requires
a fight with open hands
and broken heart
i am not afraid to show you my wounds
nor tend to yours
nor am i afraid of connection
or honest deliberation

this battle commands
diligent study
patient instruction
honors life through righteous living
requires that i do not avert my eyes
that i insist you look at mine

this battle asserts
that i sleep soundly
that i  not disturb growing seedlings
worship the simple sacred
the sanctity of skin and blood and bone and sex
wishes tenderness
whispers embracing kindness
imploring me to take you in

this battle grasps
the intimacy of risk
love:  the ultimate rebellion
courage of the unarmed
cup in hand
offering sustenance to those who would speak ill of us
and do us harm

this battle  enlists
the soldier: calling him home
drawing a circle in the sand
together, all of us
no lines and battlefields
no body bags
the smell of death

this battle realizes
the generals will not bring us truth
when they kill you
i must hear the absence of your breath
the silencing of voices never heard
the ashes of  flesh, untouched
diminished faces never seen

this battle obliges
that we rend our clothes
bow our heads
take in your death as if you were
our sister
our lover
our  child

this battle demands
we carry you
pressed in a book of poems
the battle cry of hope against the thunder clouds
of bombs and sirens

this battle enjoins
bound together
i wipe the tears from your cheek
as if they were my own
holding  tightly
you to me
the machine
that would take
from us

Diary post

Palm Springs
Andy at a conference.

Me resting with the pain and the fatigue.

We are staying at condo at a timeshare in the canyon.
Yoga in the morning.
A hot cup of tea.

Snow on the mountains
The dusting of the mountain tops.

The extreme weather of the desert.
Air so clean it almost burns my nose.
So used to the thickness of breath in Los Angeles.

Somehow I always find myself here.

I’ve been so lost lately,
So far from where I want to be.
Not so much in time or space,
Perhaps that too.

But rather, in terms of my life, my work, my health.

I am going into what promises to be a long period of solitary work, quiet moments, a more private life of writing, study and reflection.

When there is a lull in the movement, it is time for study.

The preparation for the next assault, the next defense, the next campaign.

I have been reading a lot this year, in many cases, books I should have read years ago.

Part of my illness has affected cognition and for the longest time I could not read. It is wonderful to be able to read again.

Two poems, an offering

Broken Column -Frida Kahlo
today the pain is too much to endure                                                                       two poems placed on this alter
offered to  saint jude, the patron saint of lost causes,
to ganesh, the mover of obstacles.
to shekina, the spirit that dwells within.
Broken World Woman I

i am
broken world woman
broken heart woman
broken sand dust dirt woman
broken well woman
broken air sea skywoman
broken hip leg toe woman
broken dance woman
broken shit woman
broken sex woman
broken love heart hope woman
broken forest woman
broken dessert woman
broken car woman
broken land woman
broken corn wheat barley woman
broken skin woman
broken work woman
broken tongue woman
broken eye woman
broken walk woman
broken village woman
broken book word pen woman
broken body woman
broken broken woman
broken bead woman
broken cunt breast ass woman
broken pomegranate magnolia sassafras woman
broken violets roses oleander woman
broken dream woman
broken weft  and weave
ebb and flow woman
broken song woman
broken moon wave cloud woman
broken path woman
broken promise mirror  hope woman
broken no way home

Broken World Woman II

today i am broken world woman
my heart is carved out of wet sand
my kidneys out of ice
my tongue
shattered glass
i see out of  cats eyes marbles
my mind
the mangled tangles underbrush
the sage brush chaparral
that catches my feet
my thighs like pillars of salt

my veins are venom
pulsing though me
my finger tips are broken pencil points
my skin is knitting needles
pin cushion nerve endings
my cunt is a wet rag
my breasts are pillows of stone
lips are sliced strawberries
my stomach
the sea
waves on the ocean
my bowels
a debris flow
thick and muddy

my bed is the wet cold earth
i do not know my way home