Thursday, April 30, 2009


As the Water Walkers arrive to the end of their journey I offer this found poem written by Sue Erickson. It's a hard poem, reflecting their hard, arduous journey taken with strength. This is their mission, as the 'keepers' and educators. I thank the people of the Mother Earth Water Walk and send a healing balm your way for your feet and legs. Strong as they may be, they've worked hard.

Also, there's some new photos at their website listed again at the bottom of this post. This is the third of four posts on water here at Flor y Canto. These three have had a hardness, I know. Hang in there. The last one will be a little different take on water. But for now, in honor of the Water Walkers, one last difficult one.

NIBI – by Sue Erickson

Anishinaabekwe, the Daughters,
You are the keepers of the water.
I am Nibi…water…the sacred source,
the blood of Aki, Mother Earth,
the force filling dry seeds to green bursting,
I am the womb’s cradle.
I purify.

Nibi, the lifegiver…
forever the Circle’s charge
I have coursed through our Mother’s veins,
Now, hear my sorrow and my pain
in the river’s rush, the rain…
I am your grandchildren’s drink.
Listen, Daughters, always,
you are the keepers of the water.
Hear my cry,
for the springs flow darkly now
through the Heart of Aki.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canary in the Mine

I think of myself as a rather large canary in the mine.

When I was a kid we would play daily on the Kalamazoo River that flowed near my home. The town was one of those small industrial towns that had many factories and a couple of foundries. Upstream was one of the foundries. We would follow the river on long summer days. There were lots of adventures there: critters to discover, animal prints in the mud to follow, frogs to catch - river stuff. There was one spot outside of town that we'd stop at that caught our attention where warm water trickled down from the rear of a foundry property. I'm sure very few people saw this part of the countryside except for maybe the occasional hunter. But us, being kids, we weren't just walking through the area - we stayed; we explored. The water was warm. It was intriguing and fun because if we waded in past the bright orange-colored shore and into the collecting pond of warm water, we would sink down past our knees into the sand below. We called it quicksand and would spend hours splashing in the unusual water pretending we were in a Tarzan movie rescuing one another from the quicksand.

Recently I learned that years later this site was cordoned off by the EPA in the late 90's as a toxic wasteland. The earth of the property is contaminated with a long list of carcinogenic chemicals that over the years seeped into the ground and drained down to the river. The EPA document shows this spot on the map as the same pool of orange, warm quicksand water we played in years ago. The waters were poisoned along with the earth and my young body also. Back in the early 60's there wasn't much thought given to the dumping of toxic waste beyond putting it into barrels and burying it. Today, the foundry sits empty, the land considered "brown land" - land that must sit idle because it can't be sold or built upon. The land, the water, the animals, plants and myself have all been the recipients of the dumping.

My body reflects the earth's; the same tracks cross both. One of my responsibilities as a resident of the Great Lakes region, is to be a guardian of the fresh water - your grandchild's drink.

This is the only water we get. What we have is what we get. There is NO new water. It's the same finite amount that's been recycling on the planet for hundreds of millions of years. The same water a dinosaur drank was then pissed out to the ground, evaporated and eventually fell as rain, re-entering our water cycle. This process has been going on and on for eons without problem, and now, look what we've managed to do in just a few short years of industry.

What can we do? Gratitude is always a good place to start; appreciating the fact that over 1 BILLION people TODAY do not have the right of clean drinking water. If we appreciate this gift we won't squander it; we'll protect it because there's a high probability that the 1 billion without clean water today will grow to be many more tomorrow. We are the lucky ones; we are the privileged. We share a responsibility to our children, and to our children's children, and the children across the world today who will walk many miles with buckets and jugs to a dirty watering hole, to carry some dirty, precious, brown fluid home for their families.

Again, I send a 'shout out' and a 'megwetch' to the Water Walkers (see previous post) calling attention and raising awareness with their feet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Water Walkers

I often think it was a very big mistake that this body of mine, made of generations of high desert, chile-fired blood, was born in these wet lowlands of the Great Lakes region. But here I am in this land of abundant water. Whatcha gonna do? Best to be thankful for what one has; it's a good place to start. We are fortunate here in the Great Lakes region to not have to worry about drought like many places of the earth. You see, we sit on twenty-two per cent of the WORLD'S fresh water. It's a great privilege and even greater responsibility.

In 2003 a small group of Anishinabe women and men led by two Anishinabe Grandmothers began the Mother Earth Water Walk to raise awareness of the responsibility we carry as caretakers of almost one quarter of the world's fresh water supply. Each year they have circumnavigated on foot, one of the great lakes. This year they are walking along the St. Lawrence Seaway as this precious water makes its way to the ocean. They are out there walking right now, through rain, cold, sun or heat; daily they continue their walk, praying, honoring and awakening people along the way. They do this for their children, their grandchildren and the next seven generations. They do this for all of us, from those of us who live near these great bodies of water, to those of us living in some urban setting far from any fresh water resource. In the most basic sense, they pray with their footsteps, each one a step of gratitude - for water.

Please take a moment to stop by their website. Visit their daily log of their journey for water. Leave them a note of gratitude and encouragement in their guest book. They need the encouragement as they are ordinary folks with ordinary feet, with legs and backs that ache. They sacrifice their comfort to offer this prayer so we all may benefit. Let them know that we care; that their poetic prayer with their feet is heard throughout Turtle Island (the Americas); give them a "megwetch" - a thank you.

At the very least, the next time you pour a nice, clean glass of water, take a moment to notice and recall how fortunate those of us who have clean drinking water are; much of the world does not have this most basic need satisfied. For this, we must not forget, but instead, remember and be grateful.

For more information:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

para mijo living on the north sea

When you tell me of all the history in the streets and buildings when you leave the comfort of your North Sea harbor and visit Amsterdam, I can see you, young man, full of life, vigor and strength, walking tall. Carry your ancestors with you. They too, walk those streets with you; they will walk with you down every road you go throughout the world, and every sea you cross. But you knew that.

Although we've all heard her story before, this video brings Anne, the writer, across strongly. This is one answer as to why we write. Keep writing mijo.

And may All Love surround you - always.
You know ours goes with you.

Music by Jochan Pachelbel-Video by Teodor The Glass Man

"I've found there's always some beauty left in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these things can all help you. Look at all these things, then you find yourself again, and God, and then you regain your balance." - Anne Frank


Info for when you visit Amsterdam again:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

spring morning haiku

morning birds calling:
wake up. greet the day. it waits
for no one, old fool.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Today's Message brought to you by The Rats

by London Street Artist - Banksey

I have a special fondness for public art, especially art in the public domain - here today; gone tomorrow. Here's a link to Banksey, who I just discovered, along with a lot of other good stuff at


When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.
Then I realised God doesn’t work that way, so I stole
one and prayed for forgiveness. -emo phillips

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ghost Dance: We Shall Live Again

In the 1800's, as the population of the First Nations people was being decimated, a Paiute medicine man by the name of Wovoka had a vision. During an eclipse of the sun he fell unconscious and remained so for several days. When he returned, he brought with him the vision of the Ghost Dance. This was a vision, a message to the people that they would rise again. Despite the death and destruction that had fallen upon them - through the spreading of the dance and a dedication to righteous living, the people would live, the buffalo would return and the old ways of life before the conquest would return. The People would live again; a resurrection of a different sort. This message spread throughout Indian Country, lifting the People with hope for a return of the old ways in a new day. As the message of hope spread among Indians, the same message struck fear in the new inhabitants and with an equal zeal; the Ghost Dance was outlawed. When several hundred cold and hungry, unarmed Lakota dancers were surrendering to the Seventh Cavalry in December of 1890, they were massacred at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Thus ended the Ghost Dance Movement. But not the spirit of the Ghost Dance or the determination to live again.

You can kill my body,
You can damn my soul,
You don't stand a chance against my prayer,
You don't stand a chance against my love....
We shall live again,
We shall live again.


In this video of Robbie Robertson's song "Ghost Dance", we see some of the history - along with some of the hope of the future: young shawl and fancy dancers. My youngest son (the sailor whom I call Popeye in these blog-posts) is a fancy dancer. The dance came to him also in vision, in prayer, in hope. My other son also knows well the determination to live again, to rise above the Death-Wishers. We are not a dead people. We live, and we shall live again!

Muchas gracias Tlakaelel for helping plant my dangling roots back into the red earth.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Michigan Spring Renewal

Yesterday at my home, it looked like this:

... and today it looks like this:

I was always taught by the elders who knew, the folks who were elders, not just old folk, that flexibility is the #1 skill for aging successfully, for livin' on an insecure planet. Michigan spring gives one opportunity for that. Don't get too stuck, 'cuz life will come along to unstick you. Sometimes it's two steps forward, one step back; sometimes it's two steps forward, a hundred back; sometimes it's an unexpected leap forward. It all takes a certain flexibility - not holding on to what was, yesterday.

One week ago, I was busted. Not by the law, I'm talkin' in my soul. Bad health challenges keeping me down with pain and hurt; bank account slippin' down lower and lower; hole of debt gaping larger; discouraged from shoveling the mountain of social security disability process/cruelty machine for the past two years; and then as we laid our heads down in bed to listen to the thunder of the first spring thunderstorm, through the thunder we heard: drip-drip-drip as the water broke through the old tired roof. Talk about your low moments. After a half day of allowing the luxury of wallowing, it's either let yourself go down or get to working, which in my metaphorical world means get the shovel out; call on the folks who remind you that you're not a worthless piece of shit running down the gutter with the spring rain into the sewer. Get to work.

And be flexible.

Remember who you are, what you're made of, who's got your back.

Three days later....

In the early morning of April Fool's Day, a special day for all clowns, sacred or otherwise, such as el poquito - the Social Security Easter Bunny dropped chocolate eggs into my basket, i.e. all the hard work of enduring a cruel, cruel process and not giving up or dying from frustration, fear or worthlessness - outlasting them and their 500 flaming hoops - shoveling endlessly till finally I can claim the money that i have put into their insurance program all my working years, just in case, someday, I might find myself living with disability and just might need some insurance to survive; it finally paid off. Did you hear the sigh of relief over your way? Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh........ The sound of financial relief.

And if that wasn't enough...

Three hours later at my door arrives my eldest son - "The Lowrider" with five other young men, bundles of shingles, tools and equipment and all their strong hard labor for free. That's how these young men roll. Now, if you saw them on the street, you might, like some others, judge them on appearance, cross the road, maybe even be a bit afraid. Why, you ask. Simple. It's called prejudice, or pre-judging - big, strong, slightly rough guys -with hearts of gold. So there they are, six men throwing a new roof on my house, donating their beautiful sunshiney day to the parents of one of their own, and by early afternoon the job is done, they're eating pizza and I'm lavishing praise and gratitude for what they've done and for who they are.

They're the ones who give me hope. They're the living demonstration that sometimes being challenged under the weight of trouble can be endured when people band together, give the best of themselves with no strings attached, out of pure love. They restore and give me hope.

They remind me to keep it flexible, not just because I might need to brace myself for the storm, but also so I can be open to receiving the gifts of so many good things, good will, good intention. And when I thanked Lowrider for him and his friends he simply said, "Dad, you know we wouldn't let you go down." And they mean it.

Sometimes it's the elders teaching the young, sometimes it's the young teaching us.

Flexibility. Don't ever lose it. Practice it. Remember it. You remind me and I'll remind you.

in the spirit of love and renewal,
el poquito

Free Money (a re-do)

For Gerta and Neese, a little Patti from when we all were young and raisin' other people's children (oh, so arrogant and without tread on the road), raisin' 'em up on Patti and the Ramones; Children's Community Center and all its crazy inheritance - from the Weather Underground folks to the Rainbow People's Party folk to Sherry and Neal-Neal Banana Peel and down to us. All those baby-childs that we raised up on Patti are 35-40 years old now! Yowza! Where are they now?! What a place! What a time! A moment of history. And we were there. Love ya still.