Murmurations, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Murmurations

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

The flock of starlings rises, like a black dot-to-dot,

Lifting from the page, into the air, where it swirls–writhing, like

A confused river tossing and turning—back and forth,

Dizzying the threat of the falcon.

 

As suddenly as it began it starts to dissolve, each starling

Finding its place on the powerlines and trees, where they breathe

Little sighs of feather-settling relief.

 

As I sit in my car from the side of the road where I pulled over to watch,

A panic surges within my chest and it seems to me

There is no other way than the lifting of all things—

Moments, friends, kisses, ways of walking and singing—

All things releasing themselves into the unconscious sky,

As if time were shaking off the sheets of the memory.

 

Suddenly as it began, the panic disperses, my fears

Finding their places coursing through the hollow bones of a faith

That carries me inexplicably over the hillsides and valleys, where death–

That falcon who notices all things–will only fall back

For so long, and yet what I love gathers on higher branches

And upon the lines of the staff of the song the goddess sings

Forming a universe filled with galaxies giving birth to starlings

That, in turn, give birth to entire flocks of revelation—

Wings and hearts swirling into the form of shared communities of hope.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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Interdependence Day, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Interdependence Day

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

vigil photo 1

 

I love this country.  I really do.  I will never forget, however, that it was, and is, being born from violence—genocide, slavery, and corruption.  It was also born from a deep thirst of religious freedom and the ideal where anyone could come to live out their lives the way they chose.

Yes, we have a terrorist imbecile in the white house.  Yes, it has a barbaric administration.  We also have you.  We also have many who will resist and fight, and care—maybe not in the ways you think they should, but they are do, and in their own ways are living out their lives the way they choose—a life of generosity, compassion, kindness, love, and humor.

And yes, there are those who have no choice in how they live—those who have no independence.  There are the oppressed, the marginalized, the hated, feared, the hungry, the homeless, the people without healthcare, or enough money to live on no matter how many hours they work at a minimum wage job.  And of course, this must change.  The dangers of capitalism, the patriarchy, white supremacy, the attacks on the environment, racism—these all must change and be dismantled.  And it is hard.  Most days it seems impossible.  I truly believe we can do it though.  I truly believe we can, and are, rising up as never before.  The powers of good are getting stronger every day, and you and I are a part of that energy.

Yes, this country is deeply flawed, and we can look around and see those flaws, and rightly so, everywhere we look. And we should.  We need to be awake to what we can do to help make positive, lasting changes in our country.  We need to bear witness to each other’s pain.  We need to listen to each other’s stories of sorrow and victory.

Yes, there are people living kind, compassionate, good lives—I  daresay the vast majority in this country are trying to do so.  They love their kids.  They do good in their communities.  They offer you a hand when you’re down.  They do amazingly inventive, hilarious, useful things.  They do their best to live in such a way as to promote basic, human decency.

Yes, this country is a mess.  It is also a tapestry of wonder and of good people creating peace and a safe place for all.  There are many people who do not let hate live in their homes.

And no, I am not going to say we are the greatest country in the world.  There is no greatest country.  There is only a world of souls woven together by threads of hope in the face of great, unholy darkness.

I am a trans woman….I have tasted oppression and marginalization.  I have received death threats, and been the target of hate.  I fear going out of my apartment every day.  And yet I go.  I go with the faith that the good people will always outnumber the ignorant, misguided, brainwashed, hateful, hurtful people.  And it has never failed to be so in my experience.  For every act of hatred aimed at me, there have been a hundred acts of kindness aimed at me also.  The vast majority of my days I go out into the world, and while afraid, realize I am OK.

And no, I am not free.  I am not truly independent.  I am held back by my gender, by my mental illness, by my not being able to pass.  I also can share many gifts and strengths by being trans.  My mental illness may prevent me somedays from getting out of bed, but it also helps me see the world in magical ways, and it heightens my desire to be more and more compassionate to myself and others.

Yes, I am free to fight, and I do.  I am an activist by my very existence.  I am free to let you help me, and I do, and you do.  I am free to help you. I am free to troll the world with beauty, courage, compassion, and humor.  I am free to be me even as, in the same moment, I am not.

Today, I am going to change the name of this day to Interdependence Day.  We all need each other.  We all need one another.  And if today the best you can do is post a meme about justice, then you have helped the world.  Today I might need to be carried.  Today I might be able to carry.  We are all inextricably connected.  We even share the same air as trump.

I believe in us.  I believe in you.

I believe in our capacity to help one another, to see the good, to assume the good in one another.  I believe in our desire for justice, equality, and the genuine acceptance of one another.  I believe in our power to fight, to speak out however loudly or softly we can. I believe in the good people doing acts of kindness every day. I believe in love.  I believe in the collective power of our vision and that it will one day prevail.  It is already spreading.  A fire is burning in our hearts.  A light is shining from our eyes.  We can rise up, lifting one another, and learn how to help change the things that so desperately need changing.

I am going to celebrate Interdependence Day by bringing a meal to a family in need.  I am not bragging, but if I was, who fucking cares?  Announce your goodness for all to see.

Happy Interdependence Day.

I love you all.  Thank you for all you have done, and will do to help me survive the illnesses I carry.  I would not be here today were in not for good people like you.

 


 

 

 


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Thank you. <3

The Miracle is This, Seed Poem I: The Evolution of a Poem

Seed Poem I
An Evolution of a Poem
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

I thought you might find it interesting how this poem evolved. I offer all three drafts. The first one stems more from the overt depression. The second opens to the reality of light, and the third, while still coming from the depression, remembers the many who love seeds, and thus sings the song of hope and healing.

Seed Poem I, Version I:

What must it be like
To be enshrouded
By darkness and the cold,
Unrelenting truth
Of the earth?

What must it be like
To have a heart
Full of light confined
To husk and shell?

What must it be like
To be touched, softened,
And drawn upwards,
Palms open into the air?

What must it be like
To be invited heavenward,
Born skywards, lifted
By encouraging hands
As darkness crumbles
Around you, and the mind
Warms, and the possibility
Of sky roots itself
In your whole body
As you spiral away
From brokenness, and rise
Into the rebirth of branch
And blossom, green and standing tall,
Unveiled, uninhibited,
In the light of day?

Seed Poem I, Version II:

Shrouded in darkness and unrelenting earth;
A heart full of light confined to husk and shell
Longs to be touched, softened, drawn upwards,
Invited heavenwards, encouraged skywards, lifted
By encouraging hands, so that the darkness crumbles
And its mind warms to the possibility of sky rooting itself
In its whole body; as it longs to spiral away
From brokenness into the rebirth of branch and blossom,
As it longs to rise, green and solid, unveiled, and uninhibited
In the clear light of here and now.

Seed Poem I, Version III (Final Version):

The miracle is this:
a heart full of light,
confined to husk and shell,
shrouded by darkness and unrelenting earth,
is touched by a greater light,
is softened by darkness,
is drawn upwards,
invited skywards,
born heavenwards,
held and lifted
by the encouraging hands
Of angels who have known the darkness too,
And it senses doors crumbling away as its mind
warms to the possibility of sky rooting itself
in its whole body,
and it spirals away from its own brokenness,
and it rises high into rebirth,
and it grows outwards into branch
and blossom, where it stands unveiled, uninhibited,
Palms open in the clear light of day.


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You and Our and the Magical Arithmetic of Hope

You and Our
And the Magical Arithmetic
Of Hope
By
Joseph Anthony

You and Our

And the Magical Arithmetic

of Hope

 

In the shared space pain takes up,
Camaraderie prevails.
And it isn’t so much
That the pain doesn’t matter,
Those partaking of this bitter bread
Give thanks for the nourishment it brings.
And even as they accept me
Into this holy fraternity,
This circle of understanding,
This affiliation of grace,
I stand myself apart and say: Your
Rooms, your fellowship,
My pain, your pain.
One of them brought this
To my attention and I am grateful.
So much depends upon unity,
Upon the shared understanding
That weaves through and through
Each agent of mercy, each emissary that carries
The gifts of sadness and transcendence.
And so I stand and take fledging steps
To the edge and then into
The Community of Our:
Our pain. Our rooms. Our healing.
And as I take my place amidst and among,
I sit neither below nor above,
I am simply one of the many,
One of a band that grows, like
Ripples in a pond,
Like the fragrance of honeysuckle in spring,
Like the good thoughts of forgiveness
And humility, like a song sung by the One
Who is the Ultimate Our and You and I
And We and Every Living Thing,
And on we go,
One tapestry of hope,
One table of plenty shared,
One perpetual thanksgiving
Of you becoming our
And our becoming more
Than the sum of its parts,
And the sum of its parts
Becoming the magical arithmetic
Of hope: things subtracted
Become the variables that give way
To the addition of constants
Like love, understanding, acceptance, humor,
And miracles, yes, miracles
Are a constant,
That when combined
Multiply a thousand fold, pressed down, shaken together,
And running over into a joy that equals
The priceless gift
Of serenity.


 


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