June 13th, 2006

Book Cover

checking in -

Jane and I work this morning with our poems of December 14 and 15 where we are looking at the December light and feeling nourished, and, also,  feeling great appreciation for life and our surroundings. 

I sit now with my feelings around all of this.  We are realizing the denseness in the poems, at least for us.  We are greatly affected, and I am affected in a different way than I expected.  I am realizing the fullness of those moments, where my day consisted of eating and feasting on my own observations.  There was no expectation.  I think I feel sadness today, and the sadness is not connected to anything going on, because my life is fine, and it is whole.

Jane's friend died in a motorcycle accident yesterday.  My father died in a motorcycle accident when I was 19, but I am not feeling sad about that.  I understand now that  what I am calling  sadness is feeling the preciousness of each life, and how closely we are connected as one life.  We really are connected through the breath and the air, and what we ingest, consume, and eliminate.    I realize it is not sadness I feel, but simply deep feeling.  I am feeling deeply in that tender place in my heart, the place where the pistil and stamen meet in the flower, the place of deepest feeling where joy and sorrow meet, hold hands and spread pollen,  connect as one.
Book Cover

An Important Blog -

Editorial from the NY Times today -

Life During Wartime

Published: June 13, 2006

About the time the 2006 New Year's confetti was being swept away from Times Square, a small group of Iraqi bloggers began posting for The Times. "It is a new year, but it is not a happy one," said a 57-year-old doctor who called himself Truth Teller.

Reading the bloggers has helped to fill one of the big gaps in Americans' view of the war in Iraq. Danger in the streets and security fears for anyone seen speaking with Western reporters has made it increasingly hard to get real glimpses of what it's like for the people who have to live there.

At the beginning of the year, the bloggers' complaints were less about car bombs than power failures, black-market fuel and a curfew that didn't allow for much, if any, celebrating. But not always. In January, Zeyad, a Baghdad dentist, wrote: "Over the past two years, I have crawled away from two armed clashes and one carjacking incident; I have witnessed two people being shot in the head and one young kid who had been sprayed by bullets begging my friends and me to take him to the hospital ... and just recently, an American sniper shot right at me and missed on a Baghdad highway for no apparent reason when we pulled over behind their convoy. My taxi driver tried to comfort me by saying it was probably just a rubber bullet."

In May, when three of the bloggers returned — joined by one Iraqi-American writer — their postings had changed. There was less talk of shoddy infrastructure and running for cover from American soldiers, and more fear of radical Islamists and the Sunni and Shiite death squads bringing terror to their neighborhoods. The watershed they referred to repeatedly was the destruction of the golden dome of the Askariya mosque in Samarra, a revered Shiite shrine, on Feb. 22. The bloggers also wrote more about the increasing presence of Taliban-like Islamists, violently imposing restrictions on the Baghdad residents. "These are people who are enforcing their rules by death threats," Hassan, a college student, wrote in May.

Hassan wrote of his 6-year-old sister, who was not allowed to go out to play because her family feared she would be kidnapped or killed. His sister "has never gone to a zoo" and "has only gone to a playground once." Zeyad told the harrowing tale of witnessing the execution of a local generator operator: "When I tried to turn him over so they could carry him into a car, my hands touched his blood-soaked shirt. I could now see that he was shot four times in the chest. There was also a bag nearby with a box of peaches, medication and a Pepsi bottle; he was obviously going to take that home to his kids. I stared in his anguished face again, then at my bloody hands. And that was when I momentarily lost it."

Bloggers, who cannot be fact-checked in normal ways, are no substitute for journalists. But the Iraqis' voices are hypnotic — troubling, fascinating and a critical reminder of the quirky individual humanity of those at the center of what the invasion has unleashed. "[A]midst the blackness of time and the wounds of fate, Iraqis still find a way to crack a smile, even if it hurts," wrote Konfused Kid, a Baghdad college student, at the beginning of the year. "Despite my cynicism, I believe in God (or Allah or whatever you care to name Him), and I pray for the well-being of this country every day. And every day I listen to Metallica and read Philip K. Dick."

"Day to Day in Iraq" can be read online at daytodayiniraq.blogs.nytimes.com.

Book Cover

Rest time -

I saw the acupuncturist again today and she again made it clear that I need more rest.  When I go there, I feel how exhausted I am, so I am taking this afternoon to re-coup and rest.   I realize there is so much I want to do.  I was cooped up for so long, and, so, when the gate opened, out, I flew,  but, as she pointed out, I am still on soul time.  It has not even been a month, since I finished treatment, and the rest of the world is on a faster pace than I.  If I want to honor what has happened and I do,  I need to honor re-entry time and slow.  I feel like an electron jumping in and out of my ring.  For now, my ring is long and slow.   I live on Pluto, or beyond.   Time is slow for me, and rich. 
Book Cover

A Pause -

This is what I am feeling today, that I have to stop so my soul can catch up.

I'm sure you've read this before, but I offer the words of Bruce Chatwin.

    "A white explorer in Africa, anxious to press ahead with his journey, paid his porters for a series of forced marches.

     But they, almost within reach of their destination, set down their bundles and refused to budge.

     No amount of extra payment would convince them otherwise.  They said they had to wait for their souls to catch up."

Henry Miller said, in The Wisdom of the Heart, "The new work of art does not consist of making a living or producing an objet d'art or in self-therapy, but in finding a new soul.  The new era is the era of spiritual creativity .... and soul making."

            May we honor soul-time as we need.   Today, is my day to allow dormant seeds.  
Book Cover

Insanity -

I read this and have to wonder.

The House Approves Another $66 Billion for War.

The House-Senate compromise bill contains $66 billion for the two wars, bringing the cost of the three-year-old war in Iraq to about $320 billion. Operations in Afghanistan have now tallied about $89 billion.
Book Cover

Jon Carroll today -


Jon Carroll

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Last week came word that the Defense Department was planning to eliminate some parts of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions from its instructions to soldiers regarding the treatment of prisoners. It doesn't like the prohibition on "cruel or degrading" punishment, feeling that cruelty and degradation should be part of the tool kit for every American solider. The State Department is opposing that idea, and it's not clear what the result of that tussle will be -- although how many times has State beaten Defense in a head-to-head death match?

This is not the first time the Bush administration has tried to weasel its way out of agreements signed by previous administrations. It has already backed out of some parts of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (signed during the Reagan administration) on the same basic grounds -- the United States wants to be able to do anything short of killing a prisoner in order to extract information. Always assuming that the prisoner has information to extract, and our record on that is not encouraging.

I have heard the arguments in favor of increased prisoner abuse. This is a new kind of war with an enemy that kills civilians without mercy. This enemy has bombed the World Trade Center; it bombed nightclubs in Indonesia when the discos were crowded; it bombed subways in London at rush hour. It has bombed busy intersections and markets and even mosques all over Iraq. Its own record of prisoner abuse is horrible; it even kills its own people if they fail some ethnic or religious litmus test.

All true. I do not think we should be fighting the war in Iraq; I'm not sure there would even be a war if we had not declared it; still, I loathe the tactics of the militant extremists. I loathe the tactics of the militant extremists so much I want to make sure my side, the one supported by my money and representing my country, does not fall into the same pit of barbarism.

Torture -- and let's call it by its right name, because that's what the Defense Department wants: the freedom to torture -- does not just harm the tortured; it injures the torturer as well. If you listen to interviews with the men and women who were at Abu Ghraib, they were stunned by what they had done. They felt at though they had been reduced to beasts. They thought they must be exceptionally cruel and morally vacant, although human behavior studies have shown that's not true -- under certain conditions, most people are capable of appalling acts.

So the comfortable generals at the Pentagon want to send young (usually poor, usually undereducated) men and women to torture other human beings. They are willing to accept the human damage, not just to the enemy but to their own troops.

Let us cast our minds back to 1941, when the United States entered into war with another enemy. Nazi Germany also butchered civilians. It didn't just bomb a few London subway lines; it bombed England almost every night for nine months. It killed the residents of entire towns in Belgium and Russia and Holland and Poland. It killed its own people who failed some ethnic or religious litmus test; killed at least 10 million Jews and gypsies and gays and ethnic Russians.

Did the American Army win that war? Yes it did. Did it torture prisoners along the way? Maybe a few, but not many and not in any systematic or official way. We spent a lot of money to keep Germans in prison camps, and a lot more rebuilding the nation after the war. We were restrained and we were generous.

Restraint and generosity do not seem to be hallmarks of this administration. Already, after unrestrained bombing in the early days of the war in Afghanistan, we were pulling troops out and reneging on our promises to rebuild Afghanistan so it no longer has to rely on the opium trade. We've decided, heck, let 'em grow it; we'll handle the problem later when the refined product gets to our borders. Yeah, that's worked.

Oh, wait, there's another difference between then and now. During World War II, war profiteers were frowned on. It was not considered cool to make billions off misery and death. Today, war profiteers run the country. One might make the case that this administration is so busy figuring out how to reward its friends and campaign contributors with pieces of the war pie, it hasn't spent all that much time coming up with innovative plans for fighting a war of attrition in a desert half a world away.

Which we'll lose, because we can't even agree on what winning looks like.

Book Cover

Poetry -

Check out this video of Billy Collin's poem Forgetfulness. 


Robinson Jeffers had this to say about poetry.   "Poetry is more primitive than prose.  It existed before prose and will exist afterward, it is not domesticated, it is wilder and more natural.  It belongs out-doors, it has tides as nature has; while prose is a cultured interior thing, prose is of the house, where lamplight abolishes even the tides of day and night, and human caprice rules.  The brain can make prose; the whole man, brain, and nerves, muscles and entrails, organs of sense and of generation, makes poetry and responds to poetry."