In this poem taken from her book Dimensions, Shahidah writes about her experience of women; birth, choice of sisters, womankind. Shahidah brings her early life in Pakistan to life for the reader.
by Shahidah Janjua
I was birthed into an intimate space
Shared by two other women.
Into the long view
Telescoping back through the years
Of many severed moments,
Dislocations of time and meaning
From there to here.
I see our intimacy
Was only a matter of geography.
Tropics and contours fixing us on a line
Bordered by nation, clan and family.
From large peasant beginnings
In sprawling fields, chasing clouds
Through the broad village maze,
To the dung laced alleyways
The origins of people dash
In downtown ghetto quarters of Lahore,
We were moulded in the same
Rich warm odour of cowpat mixture
Straw-manure – for nourishment and fire.
Welded together for breath
A sweat and labour.
Falling loose from the nipple too soon
I did not know
The meaning of my hunger
‘Til there was too much loneliness
In the world
Sitting outside the fraternities
Of feasting, drinking revelling
We were never meant to gel
Only in the sisterhood of servitude
Our time together mediated
By the father’s wants, the brother’s needs
The husband’s will, the suitor’s gaze.
I came this far with sisters who
Were not the gene connection.
Sometimes without a word link
Women small and tall,
Broad and slender, masked and unmasked.
I chose from amongst them
Companions for the journeying way
But I carry them all with me.
The razored leg, the high heeled foot
The stubbled chin,
Choosing my family
Keeping the rest of womankind in view.
Shahidah Janjua (1949 – 2020) was a poet, writer and DGR member in Ireland Europe. This poem was originally published in her book Dimensions in 2014 and is reprinted here with the kind permission of her family.
You can find out more about Shahidah’s books, writing and activism here: https://www.sjanjua.net/
Jack D. Forbes (Powhatan-Renapé and Lenape) was the author of Columbus and Other Cannibals, one of the most important books ever written. In this writing Jack Forbes offers thanks to those living with awareness of the interconnectedness of all life.
Thank you mother earth, for holding me on your breast.
You always love me no matter how old I get.
This is closely related to having a ‘face.’ Being good is, traditionally, not merely an admonition, but instead, an active principle bringing together good intentions, good actions, and harmony with the universe.
On the whole, the history of the world (prior to the conquest of the cannibal civilization) reveals a land where most human groups followed, or tried to follow, the ‘pollen path’ (as the Navajo people call it) or the ‘good, red road’ (as the Lakota call it). The pollen path and the red road lead to living life in a sacred manner with continual awareness of the inter-relationships of all forms of life.
For some, the good red road includes the necessity of suffering, or of the sacrifice of something which really belongs to us alone such as our very flesh, or, for others, our lives as they are lived in service to others.
Life is an adventure and we should try to be worthy of the gifts bestowed upon us. When death touches, a new path will open up for us, a path faced by most traditional peoples with confidence and beautiful thoughts, as illustrated in this old Wintu song by Jim Thomas:
Above shall go / the spirits of people / swaying rhythmically / swaying with dandelion puffs in their hands.
Jack D. Forbes (January 7, 1934 – February 23, 2011) was an Powhatan-Renapé and Lenape indigenous writer, scholar and political activist, who specialized in Native American issues. He is best known for his role in establishing one of the first Native American Studies programs (at University of California Davis). His book Columbus and Other Cannibals (1978) is foundational to the anti-civilization movement. Forbes analysis of civilization enabled readers, listeners and learners across decades to understand the systems that enable terrorism, genocide, and ecocide.
Featured image: Milada Vigerova via Unsplash
Originally published at Medium.
The coronavirus is a disaster for many. As usual in this morally-backward global empire, the poorest and most vulnerable among us suffer the most. In the midst of this tragedy there are lessons worth learning. This poem from Kim Hill invites us to consider what society and our communities may learn from CoViD-19.
By Kim Hill/The Medium
When we locked ourselves in to the world we’d constructed
And trembled in panic at impending collapse
We began to wonder, if maybe, perhaps,
This latest disaster in long lines of attacks
Was not a disaster at all.
But, instead, a revelation.
Revealing the truth that the stories we tell
Of progress, business, empire and growth
Have locked us inside our own twisted dreams
And the time has come to awaken.
To the world here beneath us, within us, around us
Who is calling us all to come home.
To let go of the lies, that income and goods
Stock markets, mining, jobs, machines
All make our lives better than ever.
Release these myths. And listen.
To breath. To blood. To wind and rain.
To ancestors and those yet to be.
The massacres and death camps
Factories and clearfells
Plastics and toxics
Choking our lungs, our rivers, our blood, our skies
Are not worth saving, by hiding ourselves inside.
Millions of years of talking with trees
With birds, with clouds, with spirit beings
All lost to the past, or locked away
Replaced with shiny screens.
And now the screens say stay indoors
Far from the beautiful world
They tell us to fear the life outside
And hide in the zombie machine.
Yet even in here, at the height of our fear
Life will not be locked in
It erupts from our soul, our body, our breath
In dances and stories, in primal screams
In song and art, in beauty and pain
In love and care, and ferocious rage
To break the prison down.
To break free our minds from mechanical grind
Of existence encoded as data for sale
To smash mental cages of money and lack
That lock down our essence like jail.
Tear down the wires, the pipelines, the rails
The dams, the ships, the mines
Make sense with our senses, our knowing and feeling
Release the mental blinds.
Burn down the speeding extinction machine
That traps us all inside
While converting vast jungles to money and trash
And selling us on the great ride.
Now return to the forests, the seas, the soils
Who form our breath and bones
And nourish our bodies from the womb of the Earth
And let life carry us home.
Wild beings are speaking: come home to your kind
Yet we slay them to feed our fears
Not feeling or hearing their horror and pain
Or their wisdom of infinite years.
Listen. They are speaking. We are speaking. Hear us.
Your cities don’t serve you, with their concrete and cars
Instead they use you as a tool
They drown out your longings in waves of disease
And madness, repression and school.
If all the world’s beauty can’t be heard
In thousands of years of yearning
Then maybe it takes
The tiniest being,
a microbe, to say
This culture is based on a false assumption that humans as superior to and separate from the natural world. This, in turn, is used to justify violence and hatred towards the natural world. Crises like these remind us that, in fact, humans are an integral part of the natural community, not separate from it.
“From birth on—and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case—we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes—and our bodies—to be poisoned.” (Premise 14, Endgame, Derrick Jensen)
In this episode of The Green Flame podcast, we speak with Sakej Ward. Sakej (James Ward) belongs to the wolf clan. He is Mi’kmaw (Mi’kmaq Nation) from the community of Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick). He is the father of nine children, four grandchildren and a caregiver for one.
Sakej is a veteran of both the Canadian and American militaries. During his military career, he volunteered and excelled at some of the most demanding leadership courses in the military, including the Special Forces Infantry Leader’s Course. He finished his military career at the rank of Sergeant.
Wanting to pursue academics, he immediately went to university and immersed himself in politics where he graduated from the University of New Brunswick from the Honour’s program with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations.
Recognizing the value of an academic background, he continued to advance his studies and attended the University of Victoria where he successfully completed the Master’s of Arts Degree in Indigenous Governance.
Sakej has a long history of advocating and protecting First Nations inherent responsibilities and freedoms, having spent the last 21 years fighting the government and industry. This deep desire to bring justice to all Indigenous people has given Sakej experience in international relations where he spoke on behalf of the Mi’kmaq Nation at the United Nations Working Group for Indigenous Populations (WGIP). For his efforts in protecting Indigenous people, freedoms and territory he has received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award.
Having taught, organized, advised and led various warrior societies from all over Turtle Island down into Guatemala and Borike (Puerto Rico) Sakej has made warrior-hood his way of life. He has been on over a dozen warrior operations and countless protest actions. He dedicates all his time to developing warrior teachings and instructing warrior societies from all over.
This show features poetry by the Chickasaw poet, playwright, and novelist Linda Hogan, and the song “Zabalaza” by South African political music collective Soundz of the South (SOS).
Subscribe to The Green Flame Podcast
About The Green Flame
The Green Flame is a Deep Green Resistance podcast offering revolutionary analysis, skill sharing, and inspiration for the movement to save the planet by any means necessary. Our hosts are Max Wilbert and Jennifer Murnan.
How to Support
Featured image: Resistance. Acrylic on canvas. 2008. By Travis London. “With the successful devastation of the Washougal River watershed through intense logging and mineral extraction, there was only one thing left to do: install hydroelectric dams. In the early 1920s, construction of a third dam began down river from the outlet of Cougar Creek. The night the dam had been completed it was blown up. Dynamite reduced the structure to rubble and once again the salmon, eels, and crayfish passed unhindered.”
To this day, the Washougal River remains free flowing and supports populations of chum, coho, and chinook salmon, steehead, and cutthroat trout.
By John McGrath, 2004
Who will be the keepers of the flame,
when shepherds shame their flock and mock
the truth with every new transgression?
Should we be surprised to find a fork in every tongue
of young and old, when those who lead us
feed us daily, lies of such a size
we barely blink at indiscretion any more
from rank deceivers rotten to the core.
Yet some would call them heroes, after all
they’ve said and done
with word and deed, the very need
to justify themselves long gone.
Who will be the guardians of the light?
When might is right and wrongs are sanctified,
when innocence is maimed and sacrificed
in Freedom’s name,
when none will take the blame,
when every lie is truth and truth is lie,
Who then will be the keepers of the flame,
save you and I?
No, we are not going to Mars
A poem about stupid ideas
By Monique Milne
Some philosophers say
You define a thing by the context it’s in.
So, what then … is a polar bear in a zoo?
Or a human on Mars?
Am I the sum of my parts? Something more? Something separate?
They say bacteria are us
Or we have bacteria.
A sterilised planet has no life
Has no bacteria
Bacteria are life.
What do you call a human on Mars, going to Mars, dreaming of Mars?
Is a machine alive?
When every machine and computer rusts
We’ll still be here!
If the Earth turned to rust
No more humans.
Can’t make humans from machines.
LA hipsters know all about machines.
Use them to ‘hack’ your body.
Watch out for cell towers
The illuminati hacking you
Our bodies are meat-suits
That our soul inhabits
Our beautiful natural bodies
What part of you is your soul?
What of us is and always will be our body?
Breathing, laughing, crying, blinking
Your feelings are the real you
What does the feeling?
No, your real physical body is immaterial
Better hack your meat suit
Be better looking
Live a lot longer
Your true identity … Martian
Such a spiritual experience.
What ever happened to seeing?
Rejecting our bodies
Rejecting our Earth
Put your meat suit
In a space suit
And fly to Mars
Where you belong.
But you are not an alien
You belong here
You deserve your body.
By Jeremiah Potter
They drug them
by their necks
away from the sacred
to the televisionThey murdered
the buffalo, deer
and bounty itself
to feed them Wonder Bread
They poisoned their
rivers, streams, lakes
to force them to drink
swimming pool water and liquor
They beat them
and the cross
in fear of
the beauty of worshiping the earth
They stole all that
to smudge out
to tax them
on the land
that was loved and defended-
that can never
be owned or divided
Sitting here by this smokey fire
under the winter dogwoods,
maples, birch and hemlocks,
in the vivid sun,
I divide myself.
As I always have.
Vowing to not be like
colonist thieves, rapists and murderers
I vow not to
bury and squash
what has been,
and still is,
to like them,
love the land and its
To turn my shoulder
to what they say
is right and wrong-
things so displaced
from actual honesty.
I vow to stand
against the utter
insanity of they-
in pure want of excess
and unchecked desecration.
By Max Wilbert
Seen on a sign
at the Quileute reservation
“the salmon helped us for thousands of years
now it is time for us to help them”
By Katrina Dybzynska
Yet another tipping point
Two human pregnancies or one of an elephant,
white rhino, orca or a killer whale.
Time that takes for bamboo to grow 498 meters.
Or for your hair to be 22.5 centimetres longer.
Period needed to write The Jungle Book.
Or to cross Sahara by camel, and return.
If it was a baby, by then it would learn to refer to itself
by name, echo what people say and – what is comforting –
understand 10 times more than it can put into words.
Can we transform the whole world of interwoven links
in a time it takes to decompose a cigarette?
You make yourself half of a usual coffee dose,
with half spoon of sugar
The mug this time definitely half empty
You comb half of your hair
While half of your dog
Wiggles its half tail
So you take it to the park
That used to be half as big
You only meet half people
Who half-heartedly tell you half-truths
And it is not until when you are back home at half eleven
That you realize that you yourself are just a half
The other part
Though we know very little about lasting
Imagine the world in which half of what you call home is gone.
Half of everything you love, erased.
New WWF report found that forest animals populations have declined by 53 percent within just 50 years. 1000 times faster than natural extinction rate. Within our lifetimes forests might be inhabited just by the ghosts.
Surely am angry, but the beast? No, merely misunderstood beauty.
I was talking in season changes, waves, frequencies…
I cried, you built dams.
You will think of climate collapse as a payback, yet it is just another language.
One that finally you might comprehend.
PS. Just kidding.
Never been yours.
They will want to know what we believed in.
What did the gods promised us, what miracles
we have been waiting for.
They will speculate what languages we spoke
as they were not able to describe the urgency
or to analyse solutions.
They will research what calendar we used
since it did not predict the end, or what kind of watches
showed that we still have time.
They will look for mitigating circumstances.
Proofs of mass hypnosis, amnesia, manipulation.
They won’t find anything.
Our child would have uneven
teeth and a birth mark on the right
hip. The rest would be a fight
for domination: eyes that change
color, like mine, when I am happy,
or yours so black. that it is impossible
to distinguish them from pupils?
Yours curly or mine straight?
Maybe it would love spicy food
after me or have a pepper allergy
like its father. I wonder if it could
still choose its food.
Would it inherit your pure as seagull’s
laughter, or the one with a hidden question
mark like mine evolved? Would there still
be seagulls for the reference?
Most importantly: would it have lots
of reasons to laugh?
Hopefully it would get skin
after you as it is more resistant
to heat. But you disagree as my skin
colour is more resistant to humans.
You think that we would teach it to protect
nature. Before I leave, I respond
that by then there might not be much left
Katrina Dybznska is an activist and educator. She won the second place award in the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize. She is the author of „Dzień, w którym decydujesz się wyjechać” (The Day When You Decide To Leave), Grand Prix of Rozewicz Open Contest 2017, and is a laureate of national competitions in Poland. She has been publishing short stories, concept book, science fiction, reportage and poetry, but feels most attracted to genre hybrids. Katrina is a graduate of the Polish Non Fiction Institute.
Featured image by Max Wilbert, used with permission.