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      Japanese art of origami with the sublime Black Lives Matter fist model designed and folded by American origami artist Beth Moore Johnson. (From Meher McArthur)

      POETS SALON

      06/10/20

      Hosted by Kath Abela Wilson

      My mind goes back to that day in the sixties. At the terminal turnstiles. My two children handing out flyers with me for peaceful protest. We were putting in our nickels for what mattered., handing flowers to passersby.

      now here
      we are again
      what must we do
      to ferry across
      this bay of tears?

      ~ Kath Abela

      a black figure bursting our of a frame

      “Genealogy of Grace,” Painting by Toti O’Brien (Collection of K&R Wilson)

      matsukaze

      i do not have
      any more cheeks to turn
      no more hymns to sing

      just a river of rage
      blacker-than-black

      i am accustomed
      to you not seeing color…
      I’ve learned to walk
      these corridors of life
      with monochrome steps

      the White House
      nothing but a prop
      a black woman
      stands defiantly
      against a wall of cops

      no soft piano music
      right now
      just a black tongue
      saying:
      “no justice, no peace!”

      within this afternoon thunder
      the rumble of
      black feet marching
      against the skin
      of these unjust streets

      tonight the images
      of black faces
      black bodies and feet
      protesting. dismantling
      a crumbling framework

      this day i will not
      give away smiles
      soft words or kind gestures
      give me common human decency
      or this republic will burn

      fear of riots
      fear of businesses burning
      still no room in that heart
      for fear of another
      black body dying

      is Lady Justice blind
      or only
      conveniently blindfolded
      to certain things —
      boiling shrimp for dinner

      Ο Ο Ο

      a purple flowered plant above an entrance of a house

      “Wisteria Healing House,” New Hampshire. Poet artist Robin White works with hospice and healing in the community (Photo – Robin White)

      Peggy Hale Bilbro

      folding
      and refolding
      history
      can we undo
      the evil done

      so very very tired
      but the salmon
      once more up the river
      and I know
      I must stay the course

      a plague
      of dollar bills
      folded
      into wallets
      the Pharaoh wins

      Ο Ο Ο

      A black square box

      The ‘Black Box’ started as a Music Industry protest and became a social media moment.

      Pamela A. Babusci

      In Loving Memory of George Floyd

      a black crow
      on a white fence…
      choking me
      reveals how much
      hatred you have

      Ο Ο Ο

      A woman clad in black with a yellow circle on her chest and yellow cheeks

      Artwork by Alexis Rotella

      Alexis Rotella

      A knee on the neck
      of any man born black –
      a former president
      verbally lynched
      for wearing a tan suit

      He calls out for his mama
      a handcuffed black man –
      the police officer’s knee
      on his carotid artery
      while three others watch

      A black mother
      explains to her young son
      let the white men
      see your hands –
      don’t forget to call them sir

      Ο Ο Ο

      “Rainbow Bridge,” mixed media collage assemblage by Toti O’Brien. (Collection K&R Wilson)

      Frank Tassone

      passing car
      and late afternoon
      birdsongs
      do the memorial
      candles still burn?

      Ο

      a neighborhood walk
      as the heat of the day
      begins to pass…
      we will not enjoy peace
      unless we work for justice

      Ο

      a painting of two women in yellow dress and white and pink dress

      Artwork by Alexis Rotella

      Solidarity and Protest: Quotes and Credits

      matsukaze (Orrin PreJean) lives in Dallas, Texas. He’s a storyteller who enjoys the shortness of ku and ka with which to tell his stories.

      Peggy Hale Bilbro lives in Huntsville, Alabama, where she has seen usually green landscapes held fast in the grip of a months-long drought. She hopes that the bird, the seed and all of us survive these difficult times.

      Pamela A. Babusci was born into an Italian-American family, and lives in Rocester, New York. She is editor and publisher of “Moonbathing,” a tanka journal that features women tanka poets.

      Alexis Rotella lives in Arnold, Maryland. She is waiting for a new cycle, a return to human kindness, a blue wave, a tsunami of higher consciousness.

      Frank Tassone lives in New York City’s “back yard” with his wife and son. He has worked as a special education teacher in New York City High Schools for the past twenty years. and finds meditation, hiking, when possible and practicing tai chi as nourishing to life and well being.

      Ο

      an origami of butterflies made with dollar bills

      Sipho Mabona art installation, “Folding Paper,” Locusts. Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, 2012 (From Meher McArthur)

      Meher McArthur – Art Hugs” for Solidarity and Protest:

      Art Hug I: When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I wrote about myself for a school assignment. I described my height, my hair and my face. At the end of my short essay, I wrote, “I like myself, but I wish I was white.” The teacher simply gave my work a check mark. When my parents saw this they were saddened by my remark and upset at the teacher’s response. At that young age, in a village in Scotland, I was very conscious of being darker than all the other kids in my class. In fact, my sister and brother and our Persian mother were the only non-white people in the whole village, and, although we grew up in a loving home with very globally-minded parents, the experience of being a different color defined my childhood. I was called many names – Coca-Cola Face, Paki, even the N word – either shouted at me or spoken with giggles in the classroom. I went for years in my teens without hearing such names, but remember a moment in my early 20s in Cambridge, when a group of young men were walking behind me and I could hear them muttering, “Paki.” It was a chilling moment and I picked up my pace. I know that what I’ve experienced of racism is minor compared to what Black people in the United States have had to live with on a daily basis for centuries and in so many horrific and brutal forms. Right now, with so many people here and around the world protesting and crying out for us to be better humans, I am hopeful that we are at a moment of change in this country and beyond. As an art historian, I am fortunate to spend much of my time looking at lovely art works and writing about the people who made them, but the reason I (a half-Asian) chose to study Asian art was to use art as a way of helping people from different cultures understand each other better. Art is one of the ways we express our beliefs, hopes and aspirations and can be one of the many tools we can use to reach out to each other – peacefully, hopefully and powerfully. Today I am returning to the Japanese art of origami with the sublime Black Lives Matter fist model designed and folded by American origami artist Beth Moore Johnson. Beth, thank you for this beautiful, powerful work to support positive change in the world.

      Art Hug II: Sipho Mabona is a leading origami installation artist, best known for arranging folded paper people, animals, fish and insects to convey potent social messages. In 2012, when my first origami exhibition Folding Paper opened at the Japanese American National Museum in LA, he created and installed one of the most powerful works of art I have ever seen – and one that seems worth pondering now, as we struggle with our nation’s priorities. The work, entitled The Plague after the Biblical plague of locusts inflicted on humans who had behaved badly, comprises 144 origami locusts that appear to be taking form out of sheets of dollar bills and rising up to swarm the gallery. According to Mabona, the transformation of money into locusts is a reference to the large, multi-national corporations that take over smaller companies, referred in German-speaking Europe as heuschrecken, or locusts. In this origami critique of ravenous capitalism, his choice of the dollar bill was deliberate, and he ingeniously folded the sheets of uncut bills so that George Washington’s face appears on the bug’s back and the words, “In God We Trust” appear on its forehead. The work can seem dark and scary, but to Mabona, who is Swiss-born and half South African, where there is the potential for change, there is hope. He told me, “In origami, paper is folded into forms like these locusts, but the forms can be unfolded again. The creases will remain, but the paper can be folded again into something else – perhaps butterflies.” I can’t help wondering today how we can can apply this concept to a culture that is so torn and pained, refolding it to create something more equitable, compassionate and safe for all.

      Ο

      Meher McArthur is an Asian art historian who specializes in Japanese art. She is based in Los Angeles and works as Academic Curator at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. She began writing her Daily Art Hugs on March 12 as a way of adding something positive, healing and beautiful to her friends’ Facebook feeds. Her special insights will be a regular feature on our Poets Salons.

      Tell us, by midnight Sunday, Pacific time, your story of protests and solidarity, amidst turmoil of our times.Also what unusual interesting positive gifts, hopes and realizations have you come upon. Tell us about the new paths you have taken, those that might endure in your life, that may not have happened had we not been in this situation. We all know good things can come from difficulty. Unexpected doors open and we sometimes find treasure.

      Send short poems, haiku, senryu, tanka, cherita haibun, tanka prose, short prose poems, etc., or your own unique approach, to Kath Abela by Facebook message or click here to email her directly. We can feature your work again after five months. Multiple Submissions can be saved to appear later:

      1. Send a short bio, comments on the theme.
      2. Send photos or artwork by you, if possible.
      3. No attachments except photos.
      End of article

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      Contributor

        • Kathabela Wilson

          Kathabela Wilson is a local poet/writer/artist and musician. Her Poets Salon has become an international respected must read in the poetry world. She's the creator and host of the Pasadena-based group, “Poets on Site.”

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

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      Comments

      1. Kath Abela Abela Wilson says:

        Thank you Benita, for appreciating, reading, and looking closely! So grateful for your expressing here your strong feelings about this Salon. Please do send me some of your own writing too, to add to one of our themes, you can even suggest a theme you feel is timely! You will love our next salon– which carries on from this one!.

      2. Sigrid Saradunn says:

        I want to thank all the poets and artists for contributing to this column.
        At a loss for words, but deeply affected by the posts.”
        .
        Meher’s words “….what Black people in the United States have had to live with on a daily basis for centuries and
        in so many horrific and brutal forms.
        Right now,
        with so many people here and around the world protesting and crying out for us to be better humans,
        I am hopeful
        that we are at a moment of change in this country and beyond.”
        are very powerful.

      3. Kathabela says:

        That is great Brendon. I love your tanka. I think when we are innocent we do really react to what moves our hearts. The kindness and brightness of individuals…in many ways we can keep this innocence… but life within organized situations becomes subject to complications unfairness and imposed social rules and levels of advantage…knotweed indeed.!

      4. Benita Kape says:

        So beautiful and so powerful the art and words given by the poets and artists here. I was quite overwhelmed as I read and viewed closely. It is up to all of us to look closely into these sad, beautiful, stinging messages.

        Thank you so much.

      5. Brendon Kent says:

        Thank you all for such a powerful, poignant Salon…perhaps these turbulent times will produce a better understanding of this longstanding inequality.
        I used to say I didn’t see the difference in skin colours, just the human I was interacting with. The more I think about this however, I believe I may have been thinking on a tangent…the truth is, I do see a difference in skin colour and this is what gives us our identity as humans. I respect all humans for who they are and regard everyone as equals. Respecting our differences as equals still allows us to keep our own individual identities, it would be silly to say we are all the same but imperative that we should all be regarded as equals…

        deep wounds
        in our
        forgotten garden
        the unseen strangulation
        of knotweed

        Peace

        Brendon

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