America’s Unjust Justice System ~ Bryan Stevenson’s Ted talk ~ Please Lend Your Ears

Facebook does indeed have merit as an information source when such insightful pieces comes through the news feed. Bill Moyers’ site shared this online via What Matters Today  http://billmoyers.com/2013/03/28/wealth-not-culpability-shapes-outcomes-in-court/    If you’re not sure why you should take the time to listen to Bryan Stevenson, please take a chance and listen for a few minutes before moving on. Give this a chance because Stevenson is good, really good, and well worth twenty-four minutes of your time.

Can’t we create a better world for everyone?

There’s much more on important issues from poverty, prisons, to Keystone XL on Moyers and Comapny http://billmoyers.com/

Explore and engage at will.

 

 

“bone structure”

 

“bone structure”

 

no coyotes here

except the one in the photograph from a magazine

it stares every time I open/close the door

a grandmother with twin girls walking along the pond spoke to me today

odd twins–different eggs–not identical

odder yet her conversing with me who ‘fits’ nowhere

except perhaps in a complex sentence

and next to you

long day

not satisfied with it

the day that is

I could go to Shakespeare in the park

but I do not

I could go to the malls

but I never do

I could shop

I do not unless something is needed–nothing is needed

there is no wind blowing hard making my shawl fly

stars were clear at 4 am this morning

rain is supposed to come for four days

I can not find Waterlily

a bike ride would be nice– to ride around the lake

an old bike

a bike without gears or handbrakes

just a simple affair with two wheels and pedals, a seat

a horse might be  better

coyotes calling

turtles in the roads

you talking in the darkness

the little piece is finished with its cloud birds and mountains, red hand stretching reaching

am viewed askance when I drop off small watercolors and elsewhere film

is it the mauve dress?

my ‘free’ in the day  being?

or just ‘me’ as usual not looking quite like whatever it is they expect me to look like

I don’t care, never have

their stuff that

not mine

but I do notice

have to–self-defence

yet I know from how the young Russians came straight to me at the bus stop outside the airport in DC

was aware of them searching the waiting line for someone who might take them in hand, somehow, confirm their counting of bus fare bills, assure them the bus was right

I saw it in his and her faces as they looked at mine

bone structure old european enough to draw them like moths

the power of dna

confirmed their hopes, counted bills

on the way we spoke of Akhmatova, Pushkin, Bulgakov and how to not flash open wallets  in public, keeping the shoulder purse closed,

enough  to attract the interest of others

older black gentleman who silently offered four fives for their twenty

young Blake who knew the metro route and later kindly escorted them on red when I went blue

forty minutes, two young Russians, one older and one young African-American man, and me

all converging in the back of a bus to the metro station

–why–

my face was old world and they found it in the new

 

@wojcik

What’s really up with Zits? Time travel Sherman Alexie style in Flight.

Hehehehehehe. Okay, if you have no appreciation of dark humor stop reading right now and stay far away from Flight–far far away. Got it? I’m warning you. This is no sweet flight of fancy tome.  Our hero is an angry fifteen year old male of Irish and Indian origin with some serious grief and father issues–among other things. Now sit back and sip your hot tea, latte or bloody mary and think about a young man who refers to himself as Zits. If you can’t relate then it’s probably in your best interests–and mine (yes, I do fear homicidal repercussions from unhappy readers)–to go nowhere near this particular Sherman Alexie book.  That said, last night I stayed up very late reading Flight via flashlight outside on the front porch–much to the dismay of anyone who had their doors or windows open to receive my hooting laughter when I turned to page 146.  Some folks do not find boiled birdies funny–and I do understand that such minds exist. On the other hand, there are minds, such as mine and apparently Alexie’s, which find self boiled birdies absolutely hilarious–especially in the context of a potentially violent encounter between a homeless Indian man and the usual well-heeled white dude. If by some means, like using your local public library, you garner a copy of Flight you too will be in serious need of comic relief by the time you turn to page 146. Though, hopefully, you’ll have found other darkly comic things to chuckle loudly about before page 146. But you’ll also have encountered several incidents of mayhem, murder and molestation along the way.  The lives of foster children are not all filled with sugar mommies and daddies. Nor do many events in American history since 1492 recount pleasant Thanksgiving din dins between Europeans and Indigenous folks.

Ever wonder how to diffuse the building anger of teenager? Well, Sherman Alexie offers one way–history lessons of the “not me” and the “me?!” variety. Yep, direct confrontations of some dark sad truths of reality provide the fodder for the adolescent mind to chew heartily on and time travel, complete with out-of-body experiences, is the medium.  From the Battle of the Little Bighorn to the grief ridden friendly skies of a private flight instructor Alexie takes us on a journey through history. Along the way he’ll shred your heart, sew it back together without anesthesia, and then shove it back into your chest.  You’re going to need every last piece of humor to endure the operation.  If you’re not laughing when Harry Potter takes a swan dive–then you might be dead and gone. Or you’ve abandoned Alexie’s exploration of time travelling adventures as an instruction manuel. Each episode serves as a short story with ethical issues galore. FBI agent Hank Storm may not get your heartstrings trembling–but Gus, Bow Boy and Small Saint could very well lay you flat on the floor demolishing an extra-large box of kleenex–or soaking an extra-large cotton hanky.

Zits experiences violence in many forms via his out-of-body time travelling–and this makes him seriously consider his pains of loss, abandonment and identity. Children NEED fathers–preferably decent men who care about their welfare. That lacking, one must find family where one can. Sometimes the concept of ‘family’ has not a damned thing to do with genetics and biology. It’s got to do with who gives a damn.

I’ve been a fan of Alexie’s work ever since reading his collection of poems and short stories The Business of Fancydancing. Yes, there’s a film by that title too– and it’s a great film. But–it was the text that had me wanting to scream and laugh from one page to the next. Ever felt bushwhacked by a writer? Well that’s how I felt while reading The Business of Fancydancing. It was great. Disturbing at times, but great nonetheless. I will never forget the story of the man, Eve and the post office. Hell, I’ve never entered a post office since and not thought of the story. The same holds true for Flight. It will not numb or bore you to tears. Not sure you can relate yet? Okay, who has had bad acne? Raise your hands now.

The Official Website of Sherman Alexie–be forewarned–it’s a tad off kilter:  http://www.fallsapart.com/

“ME” by Cloudman

Cloudman, guest poet, shares “ME” — a poem that references the infamous Nebraska town of Whiteclay where selling alcohol to the Lakota  is the raison de existence.
.
.
.
                            ME
Once again White Clay memories walk in,
I was sitting by the shade of Howard’s store,
Watching as Elders came for a drive to buy,
From Howard
Lakota words on the side of his store,
Advertising food,
This White Clay is another memory,
On another day
I awoke one morning surrounded by
Federal marshals and F.B.I’s
Asking who I was What I was
Even then my identity was in question
Now I ask who am I What am
These years later when White Clay
Is more known then I
.
Cloudman
.
.
.
Link to Wikipedia regarding White Clay http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Ridge,_Nebraska
From Wikipedia:

Soon after the territory entered the public domain, a trading post was set up to sell alcohol to the Lakota, and merchants have continued to do so since. In 2010, its four beer stores sold an estimated 4.9 million 12-ounce cans of beer, an average of over 13,000 cans per day, for gross sales of 3 million dollars.[1] They have no place to consume beer on site, and it is not supposed to be drunk on the streets, but there are often inebriated customers sprawled around Whiteclay. John Yellow Bird King, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, says that tribal members bring alcohol illegally back from Whiteclay and “90 percent of criminal cases in the court system” are alcohol-related.[5] Beer is sold almost exclusively to residents from the reservation, as the nearest big city is two hours to the north.[5] According to Mary Frances Berry, the 10-year chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Whiteclay can be said to exist only to sell beer to the Oglala Lakota.[6]

Victor Clarke, the owner of Arrowhead Foods, a grocery store in Whiteclay that does not sell alcohol, said he “did more than a million dollars in business last year, with an entirely Native American clientele.”[2] As the reservation has no banks and few stores, its residents spend most of their money in Nebraska border towns, for regular needs as well as alcohol. The beer stores in Whiteclay cash welfare and tax refund checks for the Oglala Lakota, taking a 3 percent commission.[5]

Cloud Man’s “White Clay”

@ Guest Poet, Cloud Man

            White Clay

This is a border place. Like all borders.

There is a feel that defies interpretation.

 

How does one define nostalgia for pain,

I miss my father beating my mother Or

When my mother drank she cursed my father.

I used to eat bologna sandwiches, potato chips for dinner

Dinner? Or was it a snack it was what I had for lunch?

 

If I went north towards home

If I went south into tomorrow

 

Some have made this border place a cause

I spent hours of my childhood here

 

How does one know of borders

When one becomes the border

 

I am still in between places

I still have the last potato chip bag

And that bologna skin ring

From the last night at White Clay

 

 

                                        White Clay II

There used to be an ice cream shop,

Across from Howard’s Store

One Sunday I counted all the families

Coming for floats

Chocolate and vanilla cones.

On Howard’s Store wall

Were Lakota words.

If you could read Lakota

These were items he sold

A grocery list

I used to sit in the shade by that store

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