Barricaded

By Dick Gillett

As I stepped outside my front door last week, anticipating a delicious macchiato at Herkimer Coffee on Phinney Ridge, I was unexpectedly confronted by a barricade. About five or six feet across, it stretched across the handrails in front of me, its multiple strands caught by the morning sun. At its center was a spider, only half as big as the head of a pencil eraser—the architect and engineer.

My wife, ever-admiring of the skill and determination of spiders, was close by and counseled me to leave the spider’s work intact and go out by the back door. I scoffed at her suggestion and crashed through the barrier, the tiny spider sinking to the ground as its net fell.

At Herkimer, I made a full report of this incident to Chad, one of the baristas that I’ve known the longest. He heard me unsympathetically and scoffed at my accomplishment: “Greatest Generation, indeed!” he said.

I scoffed . . . and crashed through the barrier, the tiny spider sinking to the ground as its net fell.

Kelly, the other barista on duty, heard my story and made a face. She related that as a young girl a spider had been trapped in her ear, and later had been bitten by a spider. Little sympathy there, either.

A harmless incident, not worth the telling? Perhaps. Yet as we encounter more and more spider webs these summer months, both my wife and I continue to be astounded by how these tiny arachnids accomplish such immense engineering marvels, the materials for which emerge from their own bodies. Think of their ambition! Even more, ponder their willingness to get up and try again after going down with their creations. Are these lessons worth pondering in our complex and confounding world?

·     ·     ·

Author Dick Gillett is a Member of PNA Village, a retired Episcopal priest, and a regular contributor to our blog. His many articles include ““Generation Nice” at Herkimer Coffee”, “Martín’s Journey to the White House”,  and “Cell Phones, Conversations, and the Common Good”.

Do you like what you read on our blog? We’d love to hear from you! Please use the SHARE buttons below and COMMENT by clicking on “Leave a reply” or by clicking the gray dialogue bubble at the top right of each post!

PNA Swoosh

Advertisements

Back to the Future

(Photograph by Horace Warner-Spitalfields Life)

By Marilyn Zuckerman

Back to let them eat cake
to Oliver wants more
to orphans, hair shorn, lined up, plates out.
to the Dickensian streets
to children lining the tracks, picking up bits of coal,
swallowing down road kill rejected by dogs
—while Oliver slaves in the blacking factory
and Tiny Tim does die for lack of a doctor’s care.
Back to Scrooge, who never went away,
to child labor in the coal mines or coal factories
out of Blake’s dark satanic mills.
Back to typhoid and tuberculosis.
When all the owners care about is cost, people die.

Out of the mist, the fog and soot—
comes the pauper, the chimney sweep, the starveling—
with hungry eyes and dirty fingers,
pressed against the glass of the restaurant window
where you are eating your Christmas turkey.

Back to the return of charity,
of the sanctimonious charity of the wealthy—
like the dimes Henry Ford scattered to the crowd.
And who but Scrooge denies heat to the freezing,
aid to the famished and rest to the tired?

Back to that heartless century, in a soulless city.
To the workhouse with its iron gates,
To smokestacks against the sky
Back to those dank, back alleys where we have taken a journey
to a time and place that are becoming more familiar to us each day
for soon the brown air of London will be ours too.

·     ·     ·

This poem is from a collection called “Foreclosure”, written about collateral damage caused by the Recession of 2008 and it unfortunately appears to be even more relevant today.

http://marilynzuckermanpoet.com

PNA Swoosh

A Mother’s Day Vigil

mothers-day-vigil-2017

Ninth Annual Mother’s Day Vigil at the Northwest Detention Center

By Teresa Burciaga & Dick Gillett

Dick and Teresa’s original article was published in the newsletter of Seattle’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the PNA. Please feel free to comment and join the conversation.  

On Saturday, May 13, more than 100 people gathered in Tacoma’s shabby industrial area, alongside the barbed wire-topped chain link fence surrounding a starkly nondescript prison: the Northwest Detention Center. After the crowd had laid down a mound of Mother’s Day bouquets near the fence, a Latino group played music and we prayed and chanted, hoping the prisoners inside would hear us and take heart. “No, No, No Basta Rezar,” the group sang, and we responded (No, it is not enough to pray).

We were gathered at the behest of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, and the Washington Community Action Network. This was the 9th Annual Mother’s Day Vigil at the prison. The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma is owned by the GEO Group, one of the largest security firms in the world—the same corporation that runs Guantanamo Bay.  It is the nation’s second largest for-profit prison operator, with a capacity for more than 1500 persons at the Tacoma facility.

“They are mothers and fathers who have lived alongside us. They are our neighbors.”

Emboldened by new policies under the current administration, the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agency has stepped up raids. These sweeps include men and women who have no criminal record— mothers and fathers who have held jobs for over 20 years; who have American-born children—that are being detained and deported. Civil rights don’t extend to these immigrants being held at the Northwest Detention Center. They can be held there indefinitely.

“They are mothers and fathers who have lived alongside us,” stated Teresa Burciaga. “They are our neighbors. Their children go to school alongside ours. They hold jobs, sometimes as many as three to make a living—and pay Social Security and Medicare tax. They shop at our supermarkets and stores and pay sales tax. They are good, law-abiding people. Now their lives are in jeopardy.”

There were testimonies at the Vigil. One young mother spoke of her hope for a better life for herself and her family. Another mother, a United Methodist lay woman, told us she was there to remember and pray for her son, two years after he was deported to Mexico. Many immigrants come to this country to escape chronic poverty, criminal violence and government corruption. The prayerful community gathered at the Vigil stood in solidarity for love, justice and compassion. As their signs proclaimed, “Love has no borders, ” and “No one is free when other people are oppressed.”

We have an opportunity now to stand up for them and create more sanctuary cities and states. And we’ve recently learned that St. Mark’s Cathedral is proceeding to become a sanctuary church. Meanwhile, we in the faith communities might work to eventually close down this private prison, the Northwest Detention Center.

·     ·     ·

Author (Rev. Canon) Dick Gillett is a Member of PNA Village, a retired Episcopal priest, and a regular contributor to our PNA Village Connections blog. His many previous articles include, “Martín’s Journey to the White House”“”Generation Nice’ at Herkimer Coffee”, and “Johnny Cash & Global Warming.”

PNA Swoosh

Bella

Bella Abzug

By Marilyn Zuckerman

With her megaphone voice
threatening war
if there is not peace,
shouting a president
into banning above
ground bomb tests,
a Medusa of the vocal cords
a Minerva of pacifism
a postmodern Cassandra
cobbled together from an immigrant stew
and a New York mouth,
she stands before Senator Jake Javits
surrounded by cohorts of Amazons
in her bright red
lacquered straw hat
the light shards reflecting off it
dazzled straight into the eyes
of her antagonist
so he, unable to return the lightning
of hers,
ducks his head to scrape gunk
off his shoes.
Shame, she yells,
Think of all the children you are killing.
Outside a policeman on horseback asks,
Why don’t you women go home
take care of your kids
make dinner for the husband?

Once, lying on a bed at the Chelsea hotel,
I heard her voice over the strident traffic
shrieking, No More War!
loud enough for the pledge
to go echoing down 23rd St
cross the Hudson
and settle into the stones
of the Palisades
on the Jersey side.

·     ·     ·

Bella Abzug (1920/1998) was a leading feminist and anti-war activist who helped organize Women Strike for Peace during the Vietnam War. Abzug became a U.S. Congressperson from New York in 1971. In the poem, when she confronts Senator Javits, I was there and was with her when we were trying to get Senator Robert Kennedy nominated for President of the United States and hoped, as well, to end the Vietnam War and thus bring the veterans home.

From my book, In The Ninth Decade, from Red Dragonfly Press.

http://marilynzuckermanpoet.com

PNA Swoosh

When Did We See You a Stranger?

fall-2016-houseofhank-me

By Dick Gillett

Angelina (not her real name) has been cleaning our house in Green Lake regularly for almost ten years. Last Tuesday morning—November 15—when I greeted her at the door, she responded with her accustomed cheerful smile and greeting. Although she easily speaks English, we spoke in Spanish, a language I grew up with in my native El Paso.

I asked immediately how she was adjusting to the election results. She put on a brave face, but then teared up. “ We have done a lot of crying,” she admitted. Angelina and her husband are from Mexico, and are undocumented. Their daughters, aged 14 and 11, were born here and thus are U.S. citizens. Her husband is disabled and cannot work.
She said that as the election results became clear, she began to feel ill, and went to bed. Her children started crying and became terrified, but Angelina reassured them: “No nos van a matar,” she said. “They won’t kill us.” Such is the level of fright in our community, especially among children, as a result of the 2016 election vitriol.

“No nos van a matar,” she said. “They won’t kill us.”

Angelina spoke of a neighbor’s anguish after the election. This neighbor’s work ran later than usual that day. Her school-age son, accustomed to letting himself in the house after school, started fearing his Mom had been picked up. Terrified, he went to a neighbor’s house. The neighbors, American citizens, took him in. His mother arrived to find her son gone, and likewise panicked. Finally she located him at the neighbor’s house.

Angelina is an independent contractor whose work must support her whole family.
“I keep good work records, and I am proud to pay taxes,” she told my wife Anne in English. She worked early on to learn English, and her children go to an all-English school, although she speaks Spanish to them at home. It’s clear that a week after the election, Angelina remains deeply shaken.

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” responds Jesus lovingly to the righteous who had seemed to doubt their own faith (Matthew 25:36). In these last days, we in the churches have been given the mission of giving thanks for, and welcoming, all the Angelinas and those like her and her family—immigrants, Muslims, people of color, native Americans, LGBTQ people—who make up the human family.

Can we take it on?

·     ·     ·

Author (Rev. Canon) Dick Gillett is a Member of PNA Village, a retired Episcopal priest, and a regular contributor to our PNA Village Connections blog. His many previous articles include, “Martín’s Journey to the White House”“”Generation Nice’ at Herkimer Coffee”, and “Johnny Cash & Global Warming.”

PNA Swoosh

Guns

By Marilyn Zuckerman

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the PNA. Please feel free to comment and join the conversation.  

Glock 22

The Seattle Public Library Permits Concealed Guns

Nobody asked me
if I wanted to sit next to a guy
carrying a gun
he can pull out at any time
something triggers his paranoia—
a suspicious movement,
a foreign face
or the librarian who has asked him to be quiet.
It’s the moment he’s been waiting for
ever since he bought the gun,
learned to use it at the shooting range
banging away at a moving silhouette
wearing a sign that says
KILL ME.

·    ·    ·

Shoot ‘em Ups

In the old west
the shoot ‘em up takes place in town—
in the old saloon, the brothel
or the boardwalk outside the barbershop—

These days, it can be anywhere
the church
the synagogue
a shopping mall
post office
your office building
a college dorm
the library or on the road.
Not with a Colt 45
but an AR-15 blazing at so many rounds a second,
the shooter—your husband or the boyfriend you
dumped,
the neighbor whose lawn was soiled by your dog.
There’s the guy who killed his five children
because he was mad at his wife.

Or the quiet fellow you pass every day
who shot up the kids in the schoolyard with an arsenal
he picked up at the local gun show,
whom everyone said kept to himself and was so polite
you’d never imagine—

·    ·    ·

The Gun

Known as the AR-15
built in 1958
as a selective-fire weapon
for the military only
but sold to Colt
for civilian use
as a semi-automatic rifle
Popular among civilian shooters
due to their accuracy
light weight
auto-loading assault style
air-cooled
gas-operated
and magazine-fed
The most wanted gun in America,
there are  millions on the streets today.

·    ·    ·

Colt AR15A4

Orlando

A Plagiarism (after Jonathan Lethem)

Once again elegies, services, and memorials for the dead after yet another mass shooting in America brought about by the violent misuse of guns. The following is a collage of remarks about our “American Olympics of murder” from several voices around the country. Every word that follows has been said before in newspaper essays, speeches, sermons and addresses on the floor of Congress.

One person did that?
Yes…but with a weapon designed only for mass killings on the battlefield, a weapon so dangerous that soldiers keep their versions locked up when not actually training with it. …No one can ever eliminate violence in a modern society. …The success of the AR-15 has led to increasing militarization of the entire consumer firearms market in America. If we had gun laws like those of most countries that resemble ours we would have lower levels of gun violence. This massacre is therefore further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a night club. Now there are speeches of condolences, the service for the dead, tears have been shed—and everyone goes home.

·    ·    ·

Acknowledgements:
Anonymous
Natasha Singer, The New York Times
The Guardian
Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
Tom Diaz, Violence Policy Center
Congressman Christopher Murphy
and at the last, President Obama

http://marilynzuckermanpoet.com

PNA Swoosh