Keeping Up the Fight

‘Despair, or folly?’ said Gandalf. ‘It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.’

‘At least for a while,’ said Elrond. ‘The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings)

Please note that I’m deep into the audio version of Fellowship of the Ring at the moment. I wonder if I’ll ever stop weeping when Gandalf falls into the depths with the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-dûm. Although I am not of this level of readers, I love that there are such people in the world as these, who discuss many things.

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Day Seventeen, NaPoWriMo

The radio spits out
news that can’t be held
listening as witness,
eyes opening and turning
to the weirdness of snow
on the seventeenth
of April, snow, hail, sleet
doesn’t this seem
more likely than
all that world stuff?
Mid-April, not mid-March
The days are more
February than May
more grey than sun
and all that again today
This weather three sixty
made fields fine brocade,
green and gold and white,
shining drops on each twig
each an upside down world
each the moment’s truth
and then gone.

Day 4 NaPoWriMo

Grey stubble of trees along the river
fuzz along the ridges
waiting for spring
clouds grey above, water steel
hills dark, trees bare and shaking
in the hard wind of today
we’re all trembling,
waiting for spring
praying for strength
praying for renewal.

Day Two NaPoWriMo 2018

The drive in and lunchtime

On awakening,
scrim of snow, April second
all kinds of fake news.

On April second,
the snow, a scrim obscuring,
all kinds of fake news
pouring from the radio
dripping down the screens
Turn them off,
cut short the foolishness
and let anxiety settle
as best it can, if only
to a dull gripping
the snow, though ridiculous
is true. There may be more.
In truth there may be more.
But the lies which cloud
the rest of the world
must be seen clearly
truth welcomed
like the blue break
in those morning clouds.

Shoulder to Shoulder

The March of the Women (Shoulder to Shoulder) from Wild Love Music on Vimeo.

This video was produced to remind us of the brave women of the Suffragettes/Suffragists, both in the UK and the USA. It is also dedicated to the women millworkers of Bridport, Dorset, who came out on strike for better pay/conditions in 1912 and marched through the small town singing suffragette songs, including "The March of the Women".

"The March of the Women" (Shoulder to shoulder) was composed by Dame Ethel Smyth in 1910 (words by Cicely Hamilton). Dame Ethel was a leading figure in the women's suffrage movement and dedicated the anthem to the WSPU.

The anthem is sung here by "Werca's Folk", a women's choir based in Northumberland, under the direction of Sandra Kerr, their website is http://www.wercasfolk.com

There will be a recreation of the photograph of the strike in Bridport, West Dorset on 14.2.15, we will be singing this anthem as we march through the streets with our placards!

A Generation – a musing

I was thinking about generations yesterday as most of the country observed Martin Luther King Jr Day.

My parents’ generation (and mine were on the younger side of it) – The greatest generation – born in the depression, fought and sacrificed in a world war. They buckled down at home, rationing, recycling, women working while men were off to war, building and gathering around a common cause. Were things perfect? Totally not so. There was much discrimination and inequality and when the men came back, women were sent back home or relegated to lower wage jobs.

My generation (and I’m really on the tail end of it on most scales) – The baby boomers, the kids of that generation. We grew up during the “korean conflict” and “vietnam”, neither popularly understood or supported war actions and the cold war which had us hiding under our school desks so we’d know what to do if someone dropped a bomb on us. (PS I am pretty sure the answer to that question is die, perhaps mercifully die.)

But here’s what I was really thinking about. I was pretty young when John Kennedy was assassinated. Such a clear moment even so, with all its somber ceremony and the unexpected killing of his accused murderer. Ruby died long afterward almost an afterthought. The young president, full of hope and vigor was not perfect by any means either but he was inspirational as a leader, even supported the arts. We remember his words today and his promise as a leader taken away too young.

His successor, Lyndon Johnson took on the social missions that Kennedy had set out and accomplished much while simultaneously getting mired in Vietnam. He and his wife underscored the beauty of our nation and pointed out that we needed to preserve and appreciate it.

Then Martin Luther King Jr was killed.

Then Robert Kennedy was killed.

I was older then, old enough that I was taken with the message of both men, too young to do much about it other than being inspired by the ideas. It was a blow to think that someone would remove such leaders from a world that so needed them.

Then Nixon. Seductive in his promise of ending Vietnam. Slimy in almost every other way. There was a summer of his VP being against the wall and leaving. Then it all began to crumble around him. It was scary and yet the process – the hearings, the news reporting, and ultimately his resignation and replacement – was all orderly and reassuring. The constitution holds because people want what’s right and this isn’t.

Like the assassination of Kennedy, everyone hoped we’d never go through anything like that again.

In the years since, government has really faltered. Too much lobby money, too much money behind elections, obviously no need for government experience to rise to a high office. Much political finger pointing, too little discussion or interest in seeing the needs of the nation. Can you imagine anyone saying right now – we should start a new space program. Or invent something that will really clean the air or oceans. We should develop non-polluting transportation and power…

I heard about a guy who wants to run for senate and he’s freaking 95. Come on – surely there’s someone younger available, and frankly I’d like to see some folks younger than me starting to come up. We need new ideas and energy and they need to start getting the experience.

We had a young fellow recently as president and he got shut down by the politicos at every turn. And the current administration would apparently like to erase all traces of its predecessor for no other reason than he was black and young and smart.

Anyway, I was wondering about the impact of losing those three leaders on our generation, with the dollop of September 11, 2001 on top. I think we are in need of new leaders to help us to action but in the meantime we only have us.

The Force

What’s happiness? When a totally nerdy, pop-culture iconic movie character says the exact same thing that every freaking thing you’ve ever read or been told by someone speaking to you about writing and art.

There were more than a few times last night that I felt tears well up and that might have been the biggest. I am guilty of reciting the “there is no try” bit. And I’m able to apply that and last night’s messages to more than art-making.

And ain’t that the whole hero’s journey -and the artist’s, to keep going, to learn from everything – success and failure, and to be true to yourself.

Thanks for the reminder. I needed that.