POSITIVES … It’s hard to argue with giving thanks for all the blessings we have received … As Americans we are fortunate in many ways, with opportunities at almost every turn in our lives, with a high standard of living, with significant freedoms, and with a democratic vision that inspires more than just our own citizens … Calling out a feast day to celebrate all of that, and spend time with our families – that’s a good thing.
NEGATIVES … But it’s hard not to remember that it’s our great nation which, under a Republican administration, began extra-judicial drone assassinations on foreign soils without the consent of foreign governments, in contravention of all international treaties and agreements, and which has continued them under a Democratic administration … According to the award-winning London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, it’s estimated that (between 2004 and June 9, 2013) there had been 374 total CIA drone strikes in Pakistan – 52 under Pres. Bush, 322 under Pres. Obama. The Bureau puts the total number of people slain in those attacks at 2,513, of which 407 were civilians (and 168 of those civilians were children). Another 1,115 people were injured. These are all minimum number estimates … There’s nothing to be thankful for in this situation where we continue to use drones to kill suspected terrorists in spite of continuing collateral damage – including far more innocent children killed than at the terrible Sandy Hook massacre.
SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS … Many of my peacenik friends (in particular Fr. Ray Bourgeois, the former Maryknoller, and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship) just gathered in Columbus, Georgia, to protest the U.S. Army training camp for South American military leaders – many of whom have been subsequently charged with human rights abuses, including torture and genocide … The School of the Americas (now renamed, if not reformed, as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) is a national disgrace – something, as freedom-loving Americans, we should all be deeply ashamed of …Thank goodness there was a strong contingent of patriots protesting its existence at Fort Benning this past weekend.
CONDOLENCES … Our hearts go out to the families of the two miners killed at the Revenue-Virginius Mine accident last week, to those injured, and to the entire Ouray community. We are all saddened in the wake of this terrible local tragedy.
NAMES … As much as many of us admired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., for the good work he did here as a part-time resident, it seems inappropriate to name Telluride’s post office after him. I cannot support that.
JOHN TRUDELL … A big shout-out to First Voices Indigenous Radio this week for hosting John Trudell’s 1980 Thanksgiving Day speech, from the Pacifica Radio archive – one of the more powerful addresses I have ever heard.
LA GRIPPE … That’s what they used to call influenza around here back in the day. Or maybe just a bad cold. But whatever it was, it knocked you down. Made you feel old … A virus sure gripped me last week. My trip to Boulder and Albuquerque was deeply marred by it. I was sick nearly the whole time. Still coughing up residuals this week …The only good part – I lost 5 pounds. Hoping to keep them lost over the holidaze. We’ll see if I can live up to that intention amid so much gustatory temptation.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS … My good friends Lightning Heart and Teresa of No Name did start my trip off on the right foot with a lovely soak in the hot springs pool there. It was marvelous tooling around, meeting lovely people, and chatting in the steaming waters.
GARY SNYDER … And, in spite of everything, I got the chance of a lifetime on that trip – having breakfast at the Range Café in Bourque with one of my forever icons, the Sierra Nevada poet and deep ecologist … Gary’s 83, and a widower, so his physical body is way slowed down. I invited him to Telluride, as Mountainfilm folks would have loved to have hosted him, but he declined, regretfully. Traveling is getting harder, and as a Zen Buddhist sage he has his mountain cabin to take care of … We talked of calendars – something we’ve corresponded about and traded views on for a number of years. He prefers a 50,000 + 13 scan to stretch us back to our human roots in culture. I prefer a North American calendar, 18,000 + 13 – using the latest DNA info for the appearance of the first human on Turtle Island … Found out that his maternal grandfather worked in the mines at Leadville for a few years, before moving to Texas. Gary’s grandma divorced and moved her daughter, Gary’s mom, to the Pacific Northwest. Interesting to discover his Colorado connection … I had to ask him why he hadn’t ever written fiction. He explained that it was his goal writing poetry and non-fiction to tell the truth, and that he wasn’t very good at making up stories – although he allowed some folks he knew were … Funny, in a curious kind of way, after 40 years of assiduously following someone, reading everything they’ve ever written, to finally have a meal together and get a chance to share a few words and thoughts.
THE TALKING GOURD
Wet drizzle soaks in, pre-storm
All evening expecting snow
Any moisture welcome after
enough dry to put the summer away
Patch roofs. Stack lumber
Shoehorn the Subaru into the mix
One year since we sang
Mary into the mystery -- perhaps
no act more intimate, even sex
This breathing one's last
into the riotous silence of night
Moonlight. Storm clouds
Wilson Mesa's cirque of peaks
Not so much her battling cancer
as trying to conjure up dakinis
to spirit her back to the Philippines
& Nagponi’s simple rice
as Peace Corps elder to the Ati
No, more, searching for miracles
to let her finish polishing
her two gems -- Sara & Gregorio
Working outside of patriarchy's
radioactive fist. Using the divine