Wednesday, April 18, 2012


April is napowrimo! national poetry month and i have taken on the challenge with other writers from around the world to write a poem a day for the month of April.i give thanks and praise for the Grenada Writers Association for sharing and encouraging! To those who have been bugging me for a peek over the first two weeks here are a few!

one love

What If?
What if he was poetic
with his thoughts,
his feelings?
What if he wrote long emails softening to her inner self?
What if he put down his blackberry and chose love over text?
What if he looked deep into her eyes and actually said something?
What if he sent her gifts
like journals inscribed with poems
or books that spoke to her
like an Allende
or a Temple of my Familiar
or a Sufi love poem?
What if he was experiencing
the same spell she was under
and found himself weeping in small spaces
like corners of hotel rooms,
elevators on hold,
cars parked with windows rolled?
What if he too was longing for more?
What if he understood too clearly
that what she longed for
is what he longed to escape?

Pants Below Your Waist
Just because you wear your pants below your waist
are you a gangsta,
a weed smoka,
a on the block lova,
a lazy idla,
a bad minded youth,
a rude boy?
Or perhaps you just like that style,
to give your waist some space,
to give you attitude
your mama never let you taste,
or perhaps it’s the
respect from the boys on the block,
the kind you never seen
until you lost the belt
Now you can wear pants that never fit you before
so you stop hating your meagre body
the one everyone used to joke about
like ‘how he so thin?’ ‘Or little so?’
And now you don’t care
what anyone saying
because you wearing your pants
the way you wearing your pants
and nobody going to tell you shit
because this style feels good to you
And you don’t even like
or Bravado
or Vibz Kartel
You don’t even like gaza talk
or girls who curse
or movies that are violent and senseless
you like soft slow music
the kind your Mama used to sing while hanging clothes
And you don’t even like liming
or drinking rum
or cursing bad words
or talking stupidness about others
You like poetry and movies that speak of love
soft love, love that makes sense,
love that don’t care how you wear your pants
And you like ladies
who smile real soft and say good morning, evening, and afternoon
no matter what kind of mood they in
And you is gentle and kind and respectful
but nobody noticing
because all they can see is the pants.

Police Came to our Community Today

Police came to our community today
They beat Frankie till he fall down
Hands housing blows
They beat him for carrying a crack pipe
They beat him because they could
They beat him because he’s a little person
from a little community

Patriarchal World Systems

Patriarchal world systems
masculine over feminine
reason over emotion
right over left
profit over people
concrete over mud
our sisters
our mothers
our grandmothers
our daughters
our wives
our lovers
the right
to their natural selves
their natural ways of simply
being here
in their soft billowy bodies
in their mystic ceremonies
in their lavish love for one another

Patriarchal world system
our brothers
our fathers
our uncles
our sons
our husbands
and lovers
their natural abilities to feel
to share
to honour and discover
the tender vulnerable side of courage
to walk hand in hand with men and women

i dreamt of you last night

I dreamt of you last night
Me with you
At your home in San Fran
I walked into a gymnasium
Full of community
Practicing for a concert
Singing their souls
Split open free
Finding their rhythm like a school of fish
Floating In between the sun burnt choral
Your eyes lit on fire
Like a soft breeze candle
Holding its own
I could tell you inspired many
With your wisdom self,
Your vulnerable aching wholeness

I awoke deep in memories of you
Like the first time we met on an empty shoreline
You clutching my favourite book
I recognized you immediately
A mother friend I never knew before

Through your love
I met myself at the door
Of possibilities
Like a sunlit field of autumn corn
I found me for the first time
In the eyes of you
A wisdom womyn
A vulnerable soft shelled womyn
A womyn mother friend
Who i dreamt about last night
And awoke this morning
Larger than before

Why Should I?

Why should I
walk a straight line
and into a box
when my heart tells me to
to the beat of
my own natural
earth quenching rhythms

Why should I
what others say, think, feel
when my heart tells me
to live like its’ my final hour
like it’s the last month of
my full moon beauty
my season to bloom
and sprout hummingbird

Why should i
forget about those around me
the young child a day-plane away
who sits in fear of
ancestral grounds burnt
mothers and fathers murdered
brothers kidnapped into the bush
when my heart says to
embrace the sorrow
as if its’ my own
extended sadness

Why should I
get tangled in my own
when my heart tells me to
speak the words of alliance
tame this privileged mind
be more then what history predicts
undo the colonial teachings

Why should I
ask for more and more
when what I have is enough
and my heart is begging me
to be still
and breath
so the beating of my heart
hurts no one

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

you are me and i am you

The urge to write this blog began last November when my friend and fellow co- peace educator, Thomas and I were invited to join an evening session with New Leaf’s support group for men. The next incentive leading to this blog is the powerful solidarity image of Troy Davis above. Perhaps it has taken awhile for this blog to unfold as I try and figure out the connection between the photo in honour of Troy Davis and the transformative experience of sitting in group with men who are helping one another to heal.

For years I understood how, and to a certain extent, why our patriarchal world system denies women and girls throughout the globe the freedom to discover and exercise their natural powers and human rights; a world system that favours masculine over feminine, reason over emotions, right over left, profits over people, concrete over earth. However, it is only recently I began to understand more clearly how the patriarchal system has done great damage to our men world- wide. I began to understand how many men (not all) have lost their natural abilities to walk hand in hand with their feminine side, with their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, and wives; how many men have lost their natural abilities to feel and express their feelings, emotions; lost their ability to honour and discover their vulnerable soft sides and the courage to share this not only with women but with men as well. Because of this buried, lost, denied side of themselves (and ourselves) violence perpetuates our world, humans and non- humans sadly are greatly affected.

New Leaf is a community based, non-profit support group for men based in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Majority of men who come to New Leaf have abused their wives, girlfriends, and on a few occasions their children, sometimes with horrific violence. Most of the men are ordered by the courts as part of probationary or jail release conditions, others are referred to by children’s aid, doctors, or social agencies, while a few men attend voluntarily. New Leaf uses education, role-playing, group discussion, and self-reflection as a means of helping men heal themselves. New Leaf provides men opportunities to take responsibility and stand accountable for the violence in their lives and work to change this. Along with group sessions New Leaf provides individual counselling to youths and visits schools in conjunction with a women’s shelter outreach program. The program is funded by the department of community services on a year to year basis and by community donations. New Leaf sees about 250 men and 50 teens a year. It is difficult to understand how this program struggles with funding cutbacks yearly, but then again maybe it is not difficult to understand when witnessing, throughout Canada today, continuous government cutbacks in community and social services.

Sitting in circle with men who know violence first hand; men who openly shared their stories, not as victims, but as men taking responsibility for their crimes against women and children and then working to change this is a powerful experience. New Leaf provides a safe, non-judgemental, and healing environment where men are given permission to be gentle, nurturing, soft, and vulnerable with one another; speak their emotions and work out the violence they have learned within their lives and society. One of the men shared, “This circle here is medicine for me. These people, (pointing to the facilitators) have helped me save my own life and the life of my family” Another participant said “if I did not find new leaf I would either be dead or someone else would be dead.” And one of the facilitator and dear friend of mine said “I help womyn by helping their men.”

Over the past weeks I contemplated the image of Troy Davis and in particular why this photo kept reminding me to write the blog in honour of New Leaf, even though, the image I felt, was a reflection of something entirely different. I soon realized it had everything to do with New Leaf, this blog, and the racist patriarchal system that put Troy Davis to death in the first place. Troy Davis was a black man accused of killing a police officer in the States and who was put to death in September 2011. Before the State killed him 7 out of the 9 witnesses proclaimed Troy Davis’ innocence. The State killed him still.

A group of different race people sitting in solidarity, holding a photo of Troy Davis in front of their own faces spoke volumes to me. For me it says we are one another. I am you and you are me and we are in this fucked up world together. I could not help think, if I was born male under this world patriarchal system, within a cycle of personal and social violence then perhaps I too would be the one holding the cutlass or hammer or fist that killed my love, my girlfriend, my wife. It said to me that there is a fine line between all of us, between those who act out in violence and those who do not. That there is a fine line between how people come to know their violence, how people take accountability for their violence, and how this fine line can be determined by race, ethnicity, culture, class, personal histories, and patriarchal systems that deny and kill people’s stories. I oppose the death penalty not just because it kills many innocent people like Troy Davis but because it kills people’s stories too.

As a writer, womyn, youth, and social activist i am interested in where violence comes from. I am interested in the layers of people’s stories. I am and was moved by the work the men at New Leaf were and are doing, not only transforming their own attitudes and behaviours but also that of their families, communities, and society on a whole. New Leaf is a powerful example of how personal transformation leads to social transformation.

I believe we the world need to find solutions, paths, spaces that help men and boys find their natural, beautiful, fearless, vulnerable selves so they can begin to see themselves, and not be threatened by, the reflections of their feminine souls. I believe we as a global community need to begin understanding one another’s stories and the layers and root causes of these stories so we can begin addressing the larger issues. So that we can begin seeing one another’s faces held up in solidarity, knowing you are me and I am you!

today i will shine series

This series of one womyn dancing her ‘do’ in the clouds will be travelling to Switzerland in a few days!