Little Boy Blue, a poem

Posting this poem yet again because my heart is hurting yet again. Things won’t change until we demand that they change.  But it takes a lot of us demanding change to make it happen.

 

Little Boy Blue

Oh little boy blue,
Playing with a gun,
Don’t you know someone
Once held you for her own?
Carried you for nine months,
Then rocked you for more?
Can you even understand
How you made her heart soar?

Oh little boy blue,
In your uniform so dark,
When you go about your work,
The stains never leave a mark.
You stand before your family,
Your chin lifted in pride.
The shine on your badge
Can’t hide the darkness inside.

Oh little boy blue,
How can you sleep at night?
Do you truly believe that
‘Might makes right’?
Your anger and aggression
Causes blood to pour.
Do you even know
Who you’re fighting for?

Oh little boy blue,
Your friends call you out to play.
Now you’re hunting in a pack
Each and every day.
Didn’t your mother teach you
Not to always follow the crowd?
Is there ever an end
To the violence you’re allowed?

Oh little boys in blue,
Playing with your guns,
Don’t you realize we’re all
Someone’s daughters and sons?

Copyright 2015, Kat Micari

Doctor Dragged from United Flight And the Greater Metaphor

There is the shocking footage currently circulating of the doctor that was dragged from a United Airlines flight due to overbooking. You can see the New York Times article here. And people filmed it, people verbally protested the man being dragged, but not one person moved to intervene. And following the incident, everyone, including the doctor, got back on the flight. This boggles my mind, because I would not go anywhere with that particular crew given that they clearly showed what they truly think of the passengers.

For me, I immediately imagined myself in that situation, or being at home and watching my neighbors be violently dragged away by “the authorities” for no reason whatsoever. And I honestly don’t know. One person against several are not decent odds. But an entire plane-full? Why didn’t they collectively demand a different crew, demand their money, demand for lawyers to be brought to the airport? It didn’t have to be a violent uprising, but some kind of uprising would be more respectful. We’ve been treated like livestock by the plane industry for years, but this really surprised me. Yet another sign of how complacent we’ve all become.

So here we stand, on the brink of yet another unjust war fought over oil on a foreign field that we helped set the stage for, that the powers that be have been manipulating and trying to accomplish for years. And we may loudly protest what will come, but will any of us actually try to stop them? Will we stop giving our power over? I don’t know.

Little Boy Blue – a poem

Posting this poem yet again because again it is sadly appropriate. And I am sick of it.

 

Little Boy Blue

Oh little boy blue,
Playing with a gun,
Don’t you know someone
Once held you for her own?
Carried you for nine months,
Then rocked you for more?
Can you even understand
How you made her heart soar?

Oh little boy blue,
In your uniform so dark,
When you go about your work,
The stains never leave a mark.
You stand before your family,
Your chin lifted in pride.
The shine on your badge
Can’t hide the darkness inside.

Oh little boy blue,
How can you sleep at night?
Do you truly believe that
‘Might makes right’?
Your anger and aggression
Causes blood to pour.
Do you even know
Who you’re fighting for?

Oh little boy blue,
Your friends call you out to play.
Now you’re hunting in a pack
Each and every day.
Didn’t your mother teach you
Not to always follow the crowd?
Is there ever an end
To the violence you’re allowed?

Oh little boys in blue,
Playing with your guns,
Don’t you realize we’re all
Someone’s daughters and sons?

Copyright 2015, Kat Micari

The Blood Flow – a poem

I had thought to do a new poem or art piece in response to the outpouring of hatred and violence these past couple of weeks worldwide, but I’m still processing. This poem is appropriate, though, and the world would be a far easier place to navigate if we all remembered this in our day-to-day lives.

Kat Micari

We all bleed red.
No matter your politics,
Your net worth,
Your religion,
Your sex,
Or the color of your skin.
Whether just or unjust,
Right or wrong,
Kind or cruel,
Full of love or hate,
The bleeding is the same.
Heart-wounds pulsing
And pouring from us.
The blood flow steady as it streams.
Torn flesh, broken bones.
Bruises and abrasions.
Until life’s breath ebbs away
For each and every one.

Copyright 2014, Kat Micari

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Helping Inner City Students Dream and Create Amidst the Violence of Their Daily Lives

Last week into this one, I was in six different inner city elementary schools through my employer with a major arts initiative. It was a hectic whirlwind of a week, but the end result was that most of the students (with only a handful pulled out for bad behavior) each got to have an individual moment of attention from half their school and from us, with their final projects each getting praise. I was a “guest artist” coming in, and I was wowed by some of the final results. I picked out specific design elements that were impressive whenever possible, and praised the overall project when I couldn’t. And the kids lit up. They soaked all that attention up like sponges. They had created something, and that creation was getting positive attention, something that many of them don’t have.

There were so many that I wanted to take home and give them a bath, a good meal, and clean clothes. So many that I could sense the fragility behind their swagger. So many that met my eyes with a soulful gaze. All at various stages of putting their walls up. All at various stages of losing trust in adults, in themselves.

And during this week, the videos from Spring Valley High School emerged, and people crawled out of the woodwork to support the officer’s violent actions against a child 1/3 of his size. Again, people preaching compliance towards a system rife with abuse, preaching we should all “respect” officers because of the badges they carry and the dangerous job they have, and I am ashamed to say that I once said the same not because of any respect toward them but because I wanted the general population to stay safe. But no, this action is not ever okay, especially not in a classroom setting. If any adult man had touched a daughter of mine like that, I would be in jail because my revenge on him would have been swift and merciless and he would no longer have any balls because they would have been shoved down his throat after being ripped off by my bare hands, and I don’t care how rude she was to him. But no daughter of mine would get treated like that by an officer of the law because my husband and I aren’t black.

That people think this action is okay because she didn’t comply with this officer is so wrong. I’ve seen people using it as a tool to complain about millennials yet again and their rude upbringing, lumping the childhood of the inner city child with those in the suburbs, and it is not the case at all. Last week, while at one of the schools, someone was shot on the street less than a block away and the school had to go into a safety drill. This week, on the last day, one of our people noticed two men going after each other with baseball bats just as school was letting out, again only a block away. The children live in this. The parents that struggle to raise them and love them live in this. Having that level of stress, those cortisol levels raised in the brain all the time do terrible things to you. Add a difficulty in getting proper nutrition and being in an education system that’s run like a prison most of the time, is it any wonder that they act the way they do? Beyond that though, how can so many still be in denial about America slipping into a police state? How can so many willingly hand their power over to others? I don’t understand the mindset at all.

I’m glad we were able to do what we did in the schools. Maybe getting them in touch with their creative sides will give them a means to escape the reality of their lives, will give them goals and dreams to work toward to hopefully break the cycle of poverty and abuse. That positive connection to adults may be enough for some of them. But not all. And that hurts.

Inadequacy

There are times that words elude me. That an issue or topic comes up, and I feel like there is something really important that needs to be expressed, but even the emotion or thought is stuck somewhere. As though whatever it is that needs expressing is too big to come out. So I don’t express it. It sits, growing and simmering until it explodes out of me either creatively or emotionally or both. Or I chip little pieces of it off, and let it out bit by bit, and manage to avoid the explosion.

I have so much that I want to say about censorship (bad), and hypocrisy (also bad), and how our priorities as a culture are horribly skewed. I want to discuss the recent acts of violence both here in the US and abroad, and the disconnect again of thinking of other people as actual fellow humans rather than “different”. Yet I can’t. It’s all tangled up in my head and stuck in my throat. Great big knots that need to slowly be undone. Strands that need to be rolled up like yarn balls. And I don’t know how long that’s going to take.

It makes me nervous, a bit, feeling this way, because it happens rather infrequently. I hope I get unstuck soon.

Darkness Within, Darkness Without

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, and it was a rough one for me. I thought that creating my illustration last week (Begetting Violence) had helped me work through some things, and maybe it did, but yesterday I allowed the full weight of human suffering to bear down on me. And then I got hurt feelings over something stupid, and then I felt mad at myself for having hurt feelings when I’m not dealing with loved ones missing or dead. Perspective, I had it in spades. So I went to some very dark places. And while I’ve always been drawn to the Disney song “Candle on the Water” from Pete’s Dragon, taking it as an almost anthem at times for helping other people find their way internally, maybe I just was finding it difficult to shine on the longest span of darkness of the year.

As an aside, I wonder sometimes if people who suffer from chronic depression are focal points for all the negativity of the collective unconscious. Or that they are maybe super sensitive to those streams of energy. If so, how grossly unfair a burden it is, and how dangerous that we don’t take those issues more seriously.

I have no interest to live my life as a martyr or a kind of seer, but it seems so strange to me that others can’t see what is to come. We are collectively reaping what has been sown for a very long time. And while it was our forebears that laid the seeds, protesting against this fact loudly that it wasn’t us, that it’s not our fault, will do us no good as a society. The violence is growing, destruction of all kind is reaching higher and higher points, people are getting sicker and sicker physically and mentally, and it is getting closer to home here in the United States so it is going to be impossible to ignore. We may still be decades away from the breaking point, but we can no longer follow the example of previous generations and keep pushing the burden of payment on future generations. That game isn’t going to work any more. Things are going to get worse, and whether or not they get better afterwards is the only unknown variable at this point. So that is where I have to pin my hopes – that there are enough people who care and who are strong enough to withstand the ensuing brutal storms and rebuild afterwards.

I hope I’m proven wrong. I hope that somehow, some way, humanity finds a way to pull itself out of the downward spiral. In the meantime, I will continue to do what I must to survive and thrive. I will love fiercely and dance with wild abandon if I feel moved to and create and I will shine as best I can to let others find their way. I will do this because I feel like I have to. I just wish it didn’t feel like a futile effort at times.

Begetting Violence – an Illustration

                             Begetting Violence – Copyright 2014, Kat Micari

This charcoal and pastel piece just boiled out of me. I started it last night and finished it this morning. It is a direct reaction to learning about the school attack in Peshawar, but it is one that has been brewing inside me since the Newtown attack two years ago. Maybe even earlier. I had other projects I was supposed to be working on (a commission, three small practice gouache paintings, a personal project for practice in my custom work, holiday prep, writing), but I had to lay that all aside or I felt like I was going to choke.

A Practical List of Options in Response to Ferguson

With the near media blackout, increased use of force by the police, and the simmering unrest in Ferguson, MO in response to the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown last Saturday, it occurs to me that many Americans who care about these things are probably feeling a sense of futility, a what-can-I-possibly-do attitude. So I’ve come up with a list. Feel free to suggest more in the comments, and I will add to it.

  1. If you live in Missouri, take 10 or so minutes to craft an email and send it to your governor and to your local and state politicians today. For the rest of the country, wait until about noon tomorrow (giving the community almost a week to deal with this but not allowing another weekend to go by without making your opinions known), and do the same at the federal level – send an email to the offices of your state representatives in D.C. as well as any office of the federal government that you think flooding their inbox may cause someone to speak out publicly. Keep your language formal, polite, but firm. Specifically call out the abuses of power and the race issues that you find most abhorrent. Submit a copy of your email to your local press and maybe it will be included in their op ed section.
  2. If you are planning a local protest, research the laws in your town before beginning. Comply with all of the rules, if possible. Create a press release, again using formal language, and inform the local press. Use the media and the Internet as much as possible. Document everything. If the police engage you while protesting, do not respond to the taunts. Taking the high road makes your argument much stronger.
  3. Talk with others about the issues surrounding.Ferguson. The race and class inequities that exist in our country are real. When engaging others, either in person or online, avoid name calling, party rhetoric, or harsh language. Don’t feed the online trolls. Keep your arguments concise and well-written. Proofread before you post anywhere.
  4. If you are uninformed about race issues in this country or think people are blowing the issues out of proportion, do some historical research. If you can’t stand to actually read boring facts, then at least watch Blazing Saddles and a few episodes of The Boondocks animated series. Then at least you can laugh while you learn something.
  5. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the media spin. Read enough to keep yourself informed, be active any way you can, but it won’t do anyone any good if you are constantly glued to your supposed “news” sources, merely consuming the bits of information and misinformation being fed into your brain.
  6. If you are a nonwhite American, know that the police will be watching you more closely, no matter where you live. Tensions are probably high in the departments right now, and all it will take is an eyebrow twitch to set some of the officers over the edge. Be careful. It is grossly unfair that you have to, but your safety is important.
  7. Edited to add: here is a link to a Bail and Legal fund set up to help those arrested: http://antistatestl.noblogs.org/post/2014/08/11/bail-and-legal-fund-for-those-arrested-during-ferguson-anti-police-demonstrations/ I have not yet researched the legitimacy of this, so do your homework before giving funds, but if you have the funds, please consider donating.

Bottom line, stay smart. Don’t allow yourself to be numb or wash your hands of America yet, but keep your anger and frustration focused and constructive rather than destructive.

The Tragedies That Change Us

Memorial to Virginia Tech students – image from The Telegraph

As I was searching my old journals for poems and snippets to post when I get busy next week, I came across this section of my morning pages that I wrote riding the city bus to grad school the day after the Virginia Tech massacre.

I want to cry out over it, this society of ours. I want to weep and tear out my hair, to scream and shake people out of their apathy. But I sit on a bus, not making eye contact, with a lump in my throat. And I will shove the tragedy from my mind, and joke and laugh. And behind it all, I’ll feel an empty space in my soul. Another missed opportunity to start the revolution.

Reading this got me thinking about all the moments of violence that have happened in my lifetime and how each has changed me profoundly. And also the media circus that has surrounded each. I mean, America has “lost its innocence” more times than is even possible in my 31 years. By the very definition of the phrase, shouldn’t each individual only lose their innocence once? Or is the naivety of our American culture such that once the dust clears (in some cases literally), we pull a blanket over our heads again? Or is that just human nature? I don’t know. To use the Garden of Eden metaphor, though, humanity doesn’t lose the knowledge it gained by eating the forbidden fruit once they were kicked out of Eden.

For me, the exact moment I lost my innocence was when the Oklahoma City bombing happened. I was twelve. As a precocious twelve year old, I had already read Orwell’s Animal Farm the year before because my older brother had a copy laying around, and I understood it to a large extent. And I knew there were “bad people” in the world that did “bad things”, I knew about war and death, but the Oklahoma City bombing was my first moment of shattering.

Oklahoma City bombing – image from History.com

I couldn’t believe that someone would target babies and young children. And when I went to my mother sobbing, asking how someone could do such a thing, she had no answer. When I followed it up with “how could God allow this to happen?” for the first time (first of many), she had no answer there either. So this was the moment I was disillusioned of adults having the answers, and the moment I first questioned my religious upbringing. My innocence irrevocably lost. And yes, each time another tragedy struck, I was horrified. Columbine happened on my spring break, and my sister and I watched the live feed. My mother called me in college to turn on the T.V. on 9/11, and I saw the second plane hit. I still don’t think I’ve entirely processed my feelings regarding the Sandy Hook shooting. But I never was able to lull myself back into my innocence after the Oklahoma City bombing.

Life is full of moments that shift you (or should be, at least). Positive and negative moments that force you to grow and evolve. I still try to figure out the why sometimes, because that’s what I do, but I know that I never will know everything. Finding the answers to some questions inevitably only leads to more questions. And, for me, that’s what life is about. I wouldn’t ever want to blindly follow or forget any of the life lessons I’ve learned.