Sunday, November 15, 2015

If The Skies

If the skies fall, one may hope to catch larks.

- Francois Rabelais

* * *

For the life of me, I cannot remember where I heard this line from Rabelais. It is in my air, part of the welter of words and sayings half-forgotten and cobbled back together that populate the interior of my skull. I cannot remember when I first encountered it. It was lying there in my sub-conscious for how long I cannot say, but this morning, bits of song in my head as I sat down to sort this out, it unearthed itself and insisted I use it as the place to begin. Who am I to argue with such things?

I have barely slept in two days - my mind running ahead, running in rage, running on fumes, running to this moment when I could be with you again. If you have read me at all you know I do not write about news, about unfolding events - and I will not here. It is more an exhortation to embolden you to set aside your fears and jump in.

And then Paris was destroyed again.

And then came the ranking of tragedies, as if to mourn these lives lost over here, a dis-service has been done to those lives lost over there. Rage becomes its own sort of impotence: each to the other demanding fealty to the idea that my grief is greater than yours, that because only brown bodies were consumed over there the world cares less than it does for the white bodies in a different place, that the tragedies are to be used politically - for the goals of the murderer and politician are a dovetail joint.

And the Left will not allow the moment to pass without a recitation of other sins and a blindness to the cause of these feedback loops.

And the Right will not allow the moment to pass without stoking the furnace of that feedback loop.

And I have barely slept for two days believing I had something to say here, today, about all this and when I sat down to write, a line from a Cowboy Junkies song, "September Skies", echoed in me. They wrote about the murders of September 11th, 2001 and sang how more would follow, flowing in each direction. The word skies kept repeating itself to me: September skies, skies, flies, skies falling, buildings falling, the fallen, the wounded, the dead, the dying, flying, the skies falling, if the skies fall, one may hope to catch larks.

* * *

I am not Paris.
I am not Beirut.
I am not Chi-raq.

I am human, and nothing of that which is human is alien to me.

Any murder is all murders. Any violence is all violence. The goal of all violence is silence, to silence the enemy, the opposition, the other: be it a wife, a child, a religious sect, a nation. Violence craves silence. It is a cult of death set in opposition to the uncontrolled burgeoning of life. Music, dance, sex, pleasure, laughter and belief that is not their own - these are the insults to the death eaters and so these are what is attacked, what is silenced. Shia are murdered because they are not Sunni. Concertgoers are murdered because their joy is a symbol that must be destroyed. Black men murder each other on the South side of Chicago because no one has ever cared about their lives.

And you, my best beloved? What about your silence?

I tell you true, my loves, we cannot abide your silence another day, another hour. What ever grief has gotten hold of you, what ever sorrow you have made harbor for, now, right now is the time to forgive it, to set it aside. The world does not need more silence. It needs voices, cacophonous voices calling out their name, being loud, filling the void of deathly silence with the thrum of life unfolding.

Dance, turn the music up all the way, fuck more than you do, shout out that you are here. Do not go quietly.

* * *

If the skies fall, one may hope to catch larks.

We live in sorrowful times. We have always lived in sorrowful times. The cult of death is strong in our species. So too, is the thirst for life.  In this grievous time catch larks. We need you to catch larks so that flight is remembered, that beauty continues, that aspiration and hope can fight against the silence. It may look like the odds are stacked against you, against us, but that is only because you haven't danced in front of your sorrows yet.

If you wish to honor Paris, Beirut, Chi-raq then come alive and be brave enough to dance out your days in defiance of those who would silence you, would silence your neighbor, your community, any community, any nation.

Fuck those guys.

* * *

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured. 

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home. 

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme. 

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells. 

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky 

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.


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