Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dangerous Truth -"How Does Tomorrow Dream?" by John Trudell

"He is extremely eloquent, therefore, extremely dangerous."
FBI dossier on John Trudell

John Trudell has fathered more children since 1979 when three of them, his wife and his mother-in-law died in a fire. But he
doesn't like to talk about them. "All I will say is that I have many children and they're not in the same place. Nobody's going to come in and kill all my kids at one time ever again. It's just not going to happen, it's not going to happen."

Prior to this tragedy, John Trudell had been the spokeperson for the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island for 19 months, 1969-71; he was the national chairman of AIM (the American Indian Movement) 1972 -79 including being an AIM leader during the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.

His activism drew the attention of the FBI, which compiled a 17,000-page file on him.

Then, in February 1979 -- a few days before his 33rd birthday, he led a march to the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. He had received a warning against speaking, but instead, he delivered an address from the steps of the FBI building on the subject of the agency's harassment of Indians. Less than 12 hours later, Trudell's pregnant wife, Tina, his three children, and his wife's mother were burned alive in a fire that destroyed their home on the Shoshone Paiute reservation in Nevada.- the apparent work of an arsonist.

"Murdered," Trudell said. "It's very simple. They were murdered."


I've had the pleasure of hearing John Trudell a few times. He's an extremely intelligent man, a bit of a loose cannon, someone with little to lose. After the murder of his wife and children to 'influence' his leadership within the Native community, he came forward as a man with nothing much more to lose - stripped bare. To me, he's always appeared as a very free man, making him quite dangerous.

Out of this experience he found his words in poetry and songwriting. He hooks up lines of truth. Dangerous truth. This one is a recent one of his and it comes with the usual warning to the sensitive: This is a hard one. Truth often is.

"I'm just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing its understanding of being human."
- John Trudell

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We Can Do Better

I 'stumbled upon' these photos back in the survival days of March, when the Michigan winter had already been cruelly endless. I decided I would hold off and post what I considered to be important, historical photos on April 26th, the 23rd anniversary of the worst and most expensive toxic disaster in our short history as humans creating toxic disasters - the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Well, come April and spring flowers, and finally relief, these photos and the subject seemed too 'dark side of humanity' at a time when I and many others in Michigan, were simply trying to not be washed down the drain before the days lengthened with sunlight. So I waited. First the mass depression needed to lift.

Then, North Korea began making some noise testing newly-found toys of war and destruction - of the nuclear type. It seemed timely to raise these photos as reminders, but I still couldn't bring myself to it. It made me recall Sunday mornings back in 1982, our baby boy strapped to my back, riding high in the baby backpack. We would go to Williams International, a company not far from here that made engine parts for nuclear cruise missiles. The cruise missiles were relatively new back then; refined nuclear warmaking destruction that some of us weren't keen about being manufactured in our own backyards. People cared about such things back then. It wasn't unusual to be worried about nuclear destruction. It was a time before the term itself became an artful joke with that wild and crazy, tongue-twisting caricature we called a president.

"Hmmm... How are we ever going to get the people to lighten up around the idea of nuclear proliferation?"

"I know! Let's have him say it in some whacky way - over and over again - like nook-yu-loor! And let's make it so he never can say it right! It'll be a riot!"

And so we stopped thinking about it much, the cruise missiles, the earthquake fault lines, the old equipment, the highly disturbed world leaders with their finger on the button, the toxic waste piling up with no proper storage. It was a bit overwhelming to consider I suppose, and anyway, the way he said "nook-yu-loor"! That shit was too funny!

I'm not sure what was so different in 1982 that people would gather on their Sunday mornings in sun, rain or snow to protest at the front gate of a tools of war facility. It was better than any Sunday morning church I'd ever attended in my life. We felt like we were putting 'faith in action' or some such ideology filtered down from the likes of the outlaw priests - the Berrigan Brothers. I remember a bright, crisp, Sunday in January, my baby bundled in his snowsuit, just a bit of pudgy face peeking out from under his hood, hat and scarf. He was having fun, smiling and laughing, looking down at the people. (He always loved to ride high above the crowd, peering over his Papa's head and shoulders.) We were out there for him; we were out there because of our complicit guilt: we had so recklessly and selfishly brought him into this world of ours - maybe, just maybe, somehow, we could make a difference for his life, for his future.

Who knows? All we can do is to try our best; do what we can do for the next generations coming up. Hopefully they'll get a chance to have a crack at it, and maybe do it a tiny bit better. I place a lot of hope in evolution.

But not if we forget. Or never even look in the first place.

Here's a look. Time froze in Chernobyl on April 26, 1986. Twenty-three years later, it still stands there, exactly the same as the day they left the schools, hospitals and homes abandoned. These pictures are very eerie. They need to be seen. They need to not be forgotten. Just as Williams International was in my backyard in 1982, so is Chernobyl in 2009. In the end, there is no good time to share pictures such as these. They've haunted me long enough, nagging at me to put them out there. Flor y canto is about inheritance. Unfortunately, this too is a part of the inheritance we leave behind.

I have to believe, we can do better.

Deserted secondary school near Chernobyl, Illinsty, Ukraine
(Image credits:misterbisson

Chernobyl Today: A Creepy Story told in Pictures
By Village Mayor

In the 'Zone of Alienation' in northern Ukraine, Kiev Oblast, near the border with Belarus. Its population had been around 50,000 prior to the accident. Today, the only residents are deer and wolves along with a solitary guard.

Prypiat used to be proud for being home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers. But something happened on 26 April 1986…

It took three days before all permanent residents of Chernobyl and the 'Zone of Alienation' were evacuated due to unsafe levels of radioactivity. People from around the Soviet Union were forced to come and work here in order to liquidate the danger and evacuate the residents. Many of the workers died or had serious illness from radiation. My father was also recruited for this operation, but he bribed corrupt local officers with some good sausages which were rare and a valuable item at those times, so he’s fine and alive today.

Let the story be told by these magical pictures taken ~20 years later after the accident.

“The sign on the road to Pripyat, the town where the workers of the nuclear plant lived.”
(Image credits:Pedro Moura Pinheiro

The bridge of death (Image credits:Vivo (Ben)

“After the explosion at Reactor 4 the people of Pripyat flocked on the railway bridge just outside the city to get a good view of the reactor and see what had happened. Initially, everyone was told that radiation level was minimal and that they were safe. Little did they know that much of the radiation had been blown onto this bridge in a huge spike.” They saw beautiful rainbow coloured flames of the burning graphite nuclear core, whose flames were higher than the smoke stack itself. All of them are dead now - they were exposed to levels of over 500 roentgens, which is a fatal dose.

“Pripyat Funfair was due to be opened on May 1st. The Chernobyl disaster happened April 26th. No one ever managed to ride the ferris wheel. It remains one of the most irradiated parts of Pripyat since the disaster, making it still dangerous today, 23 years on.” (Image credits:Vivo (Ben)

“Nursery in the creche/kindergarten”. (Image credits:hanszinsli


I took these photos from a link I couldn't link directly to here, but if you'd like to see the complete portfolio of photos go to this webpage (which includes many other fine artists):
and scroll down a very short way - under '10 Most Commented' on the right hand side you will find the link to more of the Chernobyl photos.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


again, the blossoms
open, fade, die, no hurry.
come, sit next to me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


i stagger
falling forward over
brittle desperate ground
wondering how far
to the next oasis
to the next watering hole
can i last
that long
when I do not know
how long ‘long’ is
can i last
can i go that far
can i go the distance
what is the distance

when suddenly
it begins

clouds gather in the distance
the bank of low gray
comes closer
heavier and
(in the best sense of the word)
it rolls in
cloud on top of cloud
sky breaking open
hitting my skin
sweet cold drops
moisten me
taking me away
far away from arid deserts
and all that is painful
brittle and unholy

it lifts me
body and soul
soul and body
spirit lifted
all wounds closing
wet silky mystery
life’s nectar
primal honey
all upon me

I am
lifted up
drawn in
surrounded by
there is nothing more
than this
this wonderful

from here sprang
rumi’s rapture

from the darkness
that shadowed over him
before the light found
his feet spinning
on the earth
and the earth met
his feet
kissed them
felt his weight
and accepted him
as he pressed his
flesh in


when I open
my breath sings
across the fields
through the trees
with the birds
all praise
all praise
I find myself
in a reverie
while those
who speak my tongue
not knowing
a few perhaps
but most
they sleep

I receive
this mercy
this rain
gratefully crying
you can’t bless me enough
I can’t take you into me
I can’t be taken into you
all other taking
pales to this
my love

would it frighten you
if I were found
spinning in the park
singing with the birds
in the rain
would it frighten you
if I were found in a
of spinning
of spinning myself
a place on the earth
would it frighten you
if I were overcome with joy
if I were fraught
with happiness
would it frighten you

this world of misery
it is not mine
it is not of my making
it is not of my doing

would it frighten you
if I relinquished misery
if I took a vow of poverty
to live without its abundance
would it frighten you

would I trouble you
would I be too free
would you want to lock me up
because I’d lost touch
with reality
chose joy
rather than misery
would you lock me up
if I were found this way
spinning in the park in
the rain

life is winding
life is unwinding

round and round and round
and round
spinning faster
the world spilling
all that is
becoming what was
for a moment
now for a moment and gone
now for a moment and gone

and i spin
finding myself
in a world

the children know
the children know

to touch this world
is not to touch poison
it will not harm you
it will not cause you
to be a sinner
damned to hell

to touch this world
is to feel
like a newborn
warm love
giving us our very breath
living us
in magic
while we touch it

the poet Giovanni says:
I know that touching
and always will be
the true revolution

in this frightened world
I know she saw
something bigger
all poets always
see things much bigger:

and always
will be
the true revolution
a revolution
takes place
a revolution takes place
with every moment
passing by
a revolution takes place
with every song of the bird
a revolution takes place
with every step that I walk
a revolution takes place
with every breath that I take
a revolution takes place
a revolution takes place
a revolution takes place
a revolution takes place

I am a revolutionary
I spin
in the rain
in revolutions of mercy
in revolutions of water
and spirit
in revolutions of earth
the earth is a revolutionary
the sun is a revolutionary
the planets the stars
all revolutionaries
a galaxy of revolutionaries
I find my place
in this revolutionary universe
I am one
with its magic
this revolution
rising up inside of me
it seeps into every corner
finding no place it cannot fill
and I become the container
until it overflows me
and the container dissolves
I and I are one
the ground watered
the drought passed
the revolution