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Stroke my skin with fire

Brand me with my own need

Sooth me with a touch

Fingertips, across chilled skin

Melt the ice encasing my heart

Lips silken on my breastbone

Tracing lines across unhealed wounds

Filling fissures with molten heat

Drawing poison up from depths

With a lash of braided leather

Caressing fears away as sighs deepen

The wild calls with plangent cries

The answering, release me, bring me

Enslave me, strokes your long banked fire


Over the Cliff

OpEdThe world spins and each of us finds our center of gravity based on many different inputs, different sources of information and values gathered throughout our lives. We come to our beliefs, our moral centers through our experiences, our families and our communities. We judge the world around us, what is happening, who is doing what to whom based on our own emotional response to what we see, as well as, what we are fed through the various sources of information we absorb (e.g. media, friends, family). Some of us, because of our experiences fall far away from where we started others of us never take a road less traveled; never stray far from the path our parents, even grandparents before us trudged down before us.

What is the impetus for those who take the branch in the road that takes us away from our roots? Do we see the world differently from those around us? Is our vision different from birth?

I know for me, I was always different from those around me. My beloved stepmother said to me once, I was exotic, not just in my looks but my mind was unfathomable. This combination made me an outsider within my family, as a child and an adult. Keeping in mind I was adopted at birth I wondered sometimes if ‘exotic’ thinking was a product of biology, this was often the subject of my second mother’s rages against me. Needless to say, I am the one who always sought the road less traveled, the path hidden in the brambles and ran toward it, barefoot and with bells on to find the clearing in the woods and all too often the monsters awaiting me. Oddly, even after meeting my first family I find myself at odds with many of them as well; my conclusion is I am simply a product of my own thinking, my own strange mind, a combination of experiences and how I have processed them over the years.

I suspect this might be true of most of us, which takes me to the reason for writing today. First let me say this, I am not a Christian. I do not subscribe to any formal religion. I have nothing against those that do, but have an enormous issue with those who wish to force their religious dogma down my throat or in my face, either through legislation or through bullshit-rewritten history. I am not an Atheist, nor am I Agnostic. I am frankly not anything in particular. I subscribe to the idea there is something greater than me, something wider and broader than me in the universe, not that this something takes an overwhelming interest in me simply that it exists. I do not believe it is a White Man with a long white beard sitting in a cloud. I believe both Jesus and Mohammed existed as real live men of their time, I also believe they were both of Middle Eastern descent (thus Jesus could not be a Blue-eyed, pale skinned White man as depicted). I believe they were both great teachers, as were the other great teachers and founders of the other religions of the world. Finally, I believe religion corrupts and is corrupted by man; it is used to keep societies placid and ignorant.

I have been watching the news as it unfolds this week have you? I am disheartened by all of it; I am dismayed by the way we treat social injustice, police violence, racial inequality and most disheartening sex crimes within Christian cults. What do I mean by all this? Let’s take three specific issues and compare them, three specific media worthy events and compare their outcomes, both real and hypothetical.

Shootout in Waco, Texas: Nine Dead, 18 injured. Criminal conspirators, known motorcycle biker clubs, predominantly White males (infrequently a Hispanic will be allowed to ride with them). Police knew they were there and were on standby. No dead bodies shown on the ground, not once did the media show the after effects of the violence of the day, the blood running in the streets, the bodies strewn in the streets or in the restaurant. Not once did the media show the ambulances carting off the injured. Those flying their colors were not referred to as thugs, their criminal histories were not trotted out immediately to insure sympathy for the officers involved, oh that’s right there was no need there were over 500 guns found in bathrooms, potato chip bags and locked cars, these were not innocent and unarmed civilans being shot down in the street by the police. Those who were involved were milling about, sitting on sidewalks, crossing police lines, texting and talking on their phones. No teargas was deployed against them, no military riot gear on police.

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Compare this to the peaceful protestors of Ferguson, Baltimore, New York. Do you wonder what the difference is? I do not, I do not wonder for a single instant how the police would have responded had those ‘bikers’ been black what the response would have been.

Next up? How about the acquittal of Michael Brelo, he fired 49 times into the car of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams’, reloading twice before he was done. He wasn’t charged with murder only manslaughter, why was he acquitted? Because there was a total of one hundred and thirty-seven (137) shots fired into their car and it couldn’t be proven he fired the killing shots. Before his trial the other officers involved in the deadly shooting of the unarmed black men who did nothing more than drive a car that backfired, they refused to meet with the prosecutor’s office to review testimony. There was no jury trial, Michael Brelo waived his right thus having it heard only by a judge who found him ‘Not Guilty’. See a pattern? I surely do. Since the aquittal of George Zimmerman, the only ‘thug’ on the street that night, I surely do see a pattern.

josh-duggar_1Finally, let’s talk about family values or the distinct lack thereof. Let’s talk about why those who wrap themselves in the mantle of holier than thou Christianity are allowed the most heinous corruptions, while those who have done no wrong are accused of the ugliest of faults. Let’s talk about why it is perfectly acceptable for a serial pedophile to continue to live under the roof with his victims while his mother and father hide his crimes, while those who should be protecting the children turn away. Oh, that’s right they are Christian and he asked God to Forgive him. He went on to become a stand up activist against the rights of others, even going so far as to suggest those ‘others’ would be a danger to children (like he is).

We, those of us with a thinking cell in our brain are being ‘mean’ to suggest his actions are not simply childhood curiosity but something more, something terrible and should have been treated like Josh_Duggar_Mike_Huckabeethe criminal and deviant behavior they were. We, those of us who understand sex crimes, understand molestation and rape, we look at this family and wonder what else and how much worse was it than what we know. What we have instead is Presidential wannabe’s standing up for the poor mistreated deviant and his entire cult like family, because they are Christians. What we have is others from the far right of the flock, speaking out against anyone who questions, anyone who wonders, “what about his victims”; Josh Duggar and his parents are not the victims in this, the victims are the young girls he molested. Let’s get this right, the victims were his sisters and the other young girls he molested. He did not pay a price for his serial molestation of the young girls within his control. Young girls who did not receive counseling, young girls who did not receive justice for what was done to them.

See a problem here? I surely do. Yet there are those who defend this family. Why did Josh Duggar get away with his bad acts? I assure you, had he been a different skin color he would have been locked up and in one of the programs I speak in every month. I see boys as young as 11 years old, they aren’t considered too young, they also are Christian and have often asked for God’s forgiveness. Josh though, he got a pass, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why?

I am disheartened by all of it. The media is training this nation to not ask the hard questions, like sheep we wander to the cliff and fall off.


I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the pain,
That the dry death won’t find me
Empty and alone, without having done the sufficient.

I only ask of God
That i won’t be indifferent to the injustice
That they won’t slap my other cheek,
After a claw (or talon) has scratched this destiny (luck) of mine.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the battle,
It’s a big monster and it walks hardly on
All the poor innocence of people.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to deceit,
If a traitor can do more than a bunch of people,
Then let not those people forget him easily.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the future,
Hopeless is he who has to go away
To live a different culture.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the battle,
It’s a big monster and it walks hardly on
All the poor innocence of people.

Léon Gieco

Race to the Bottom

OpEdWe are truly a nation to be reckoned with, if you are worried about your position at the bottom of the pile, the bottom of the world ranking in nearly all relevant areas; the United States is working hard to grab the title. We are international bullies, we stand up and are counted policing the world to do what we say not what we do. Our leaders condone torture; in fact, they are proud of their participation or at least their tactic approval of the torture of other human beings. Our nation enters wars, costing tens of thousands of lives, killing heads of state and civilians alike for no good reason but we want the natural resources of that nation, we want to destabilize that region, we want to break the world.

We spend billions, sometimes trillions of dollars in nations other than our own. Nations that do not need our money, that do not appreciate our interference, nations that do not align with our stated values. Meanwhile, here in our own country we have children going without food, shelter, education. We make some of the top lists, such as:

Homelessness, top fifteen cities the USA has the grace to steal six spots on the list, with an estimated total 212,579 homeless living on the streets of these cities alone.

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Once you let that lovely sink in, the idea we have so many on the streets consider this one, we haven’t had such a large income gap since 1928. In fact, the United States made another list; yes indeed, we made the list of nations with the largest income disparity, number 4 on the hit parade of 10. We should be wondering what the hell is wrong, only Chile, Turkey and Mexico are ahead of us on this list, the GOP isn’t doing their job if we haven’t made number 1.

Now while you are absorbing the thought of all your fellow citizens living rough; men, women and children living without shelter consider the findings of Transparency International, we aren’t doing so well on the issue of corruption. In fact, we are suck. Our perception of ourselves, as a nation isn’t great so how do we justify sending our military out to police others? Just asking mind you.

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Now let’s discuss the idiocy on the Hill, yes that hill Capital hill. While the nation falls down around our ears, the ijits on the Hill are busy writing twenty-four new anti-choice bills, well to be fair one of them is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. You know they do this because they are afraid of women, they are afraid of our power if we should ever figure out we actually have a majority in this nation and we band together, breaking down all the false lines they have drawn to keep us apart. If the vast majority of us reach across the walls of race, religion, classism and poverty we will find we have far more in common than not. When we do this, we might find most of these Bills are intended only to infantilize all of us, stripping of us of our rights to both body integrity and economic freedom.

We could talk about so many other things, the education system in this nation and our lack of commitment to excellence. Our race to the bottom of the heap, our fear of intellectualism, our on-IgnoranceMapgoing outsourcing of innovation. Despite our great wealth we don’t even come in at the top ten of the Pearson ranking. In our race to the bottom though, we have achieved one top score, we are the second most ignorant country in the world, on the Ipsos Mori social survey only Italy is more ignorant that the US.

We could discuss the bulging prisons, the one thing we are number one in the world. With over two million of our fellow citizens within the Industrial Prison Complex, this is not something to be proud of. The problem of course is, the prison system is another capitalist scam, with well over one billion a year in profits to be made, no one is going to start dismantling it in favor of better justice, not when the favored few can line their pockets on the backs of the disadvantaged.

We could discuss the horror of joblessness and ask the question, why in the world this administration the GOP, along with several Democrats wants so badly to continue to destroy our future opportunity to grow through trade agreements. Trade agreements the citizens of this country are kept in the dark about. Trade agreements that do not favor us, but instead favor multi-national business. The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement is not about free trade, believe me.

As we continue our race to the bottom, I ask myself where does it end? I wish we would all ask the same question. I continue to love this clip from the Newsroom, it says it all; we sure use to be.

The Mirror

There are times in all our lives each of us wonder, what does the world see when they see me. When I look in the mirror, I see all of my flaws, real and perceived I count them off one by one. Staring in the eyes of my harshest critic, I see each year stamped across my face telling a story I might rather forget, or wish was never written at all. So I stare, I run fingers through hair sprinkled with silver, I count the furrows across my brow, the lines surrounding my mouth and eyes; then I wonder where the time escaped to and what others see.

Does the world see my flaws in the same way I see them? Can a stranger read my pain, my triumphs, my  history as if it was a roadmap written on my face, across my skin and over the angles, plains and curves of my body, or do they only see slight imperfections where I see something altogether different, something damaged, unworthy of a second glance, unlovable in the harsh light of day.

Cool wind dances across heated skin

Leaving memory of other breath

Fingers trace the water’s edge

Sending ripples across a reflection

Unrecognized in the moonlit glow

Coalesced I come together, softer

In the silence memories pull nearer

The ethereal me beckons, closer

Remember, beauty under stars

Shredded without thought, nor care

For youth, innocence or hope

Lost in a scream for mercy

Tracing the water’s edge once more

Reflection lost to harder currents

Merged again, harder and more true

In the moonlit garden of memory

Does the world see my flaws? Does the world see the scars of my history? I don’t know, some of them are obvious, they are badges of honor I can’t help but wear them on my skin every single OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblessed day of my life. I wish this were not the case, but it is the skin I live in the only skin I have so it is the skin I will have to walk this world in and the skin I will leave this world in. My problem? Truly, my problem is so many people over the years have left their calling card, announced their presence and left me something to remember them by; I can’t seem to step away far enough to start over again without carrying them along with me.

So, when I look in the mirror, I see my history. Some days I see myself victorious, but other days I see myself vulnerable and hurt, stupid for all the times I have laid myself open. When I look in the mirror, what I see is someone unloved and unlovable, someone who is not worthy of honest straightforward love, who must pay for any affection with something, either straightforward with my money or something else of value, including pain, because this is how it has always been.

Every single day I work toward changing my vision and work toward demanding more. But some days like today, this is what I feel.

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