Thank you/Mvto to Yoshiko Kayano for this Declaration!


Iramkarapte – “Let me touch your heart softly in greeting” in the Ainu language.

We, Indigenous Peoples from Japan and around the world have gathered in Ainu Mosir, known as
Hokkaido, Japan, in the traditional land of the Ainu people, for the 2008 Indigenous Peoples
Summit in Ainu Mosir in advance of the G8 Summit in 2008. We represent over 600 participants
from Ainu Mosir (Hokkaido), Uchinanchu (Okinawa), the United States, Canada, Hawai’i, Guam,
Australia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Taiwan, and
Aotearoa (New Zealand).

We are united as Indigenous Peoples because we share each other’s fundamental values and
understandings of our place in the world which includes our reciprocal relationship with nature. The
theme of our summit is Mawkopirka which means in Ainu “Good Luck” or “Be Happy,” and which
underscores our Indigenous values and notions of well-being, and illustrates the good faith in which
we approach this Summit and all the peoples gathered.

This is the first time that we, Indigenous Peoples, have gathered around a G8 Summit, to reflect on
the issues addressed by the G8 and analyse how these relate to us. This Summit was made
possible by the Ainu through the Indigenous Peoples Summit Steering Committee and we thank
and congratulate them for their commitment and work to make this happen.

With our collective wisdom and knowledge we discerned and agreed on the key messages we
would like to relay to the G8. We learned more about the situation of the Ainu and about each
others situation and aspirations. We are also gathered to celebrate the adoption of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) on September 13, 2007 by the United
Nations General Assembly. This is a historic landmark and a collective achievement of Indigenous
Peoples movements from the local to the global.

We welcome the “Resolution calling for the Recognition of the Ainu as Indigenous Peoples of
Japan” passed by the Japanese House of Councillors and the House of Representatives on June
6, 2008, and accepted by the Prime Minister’s office also on June 6, 2008. We celebrate this gain
with the Ainu people which results from their centuries’ old struggle.


We want to express our profound concern over the state of the planet. Mother Nature nurtures us.
We believe that the economic growth model and modernization promoted by the G8, which
suggests that we can control and dominate nature, is flawed. This dominant thinking and practice is
responsible for climate change, the global food crisis, high oil prices, increasing poverty and
disparity between the rich and the poor, and the elusive search for peace, the themes which the G8
nations precisely want to address in this Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Some of our issues and
concerns are the following;

 continuing egregious violations of our civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights.
 militarization of our communities, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings of indigenous
activists and use of national security and anti-terrorism laws to criminalize legitimate
resistance actions against destructive projects leading to increasing conflicts in our
 grabbing of our lands by the state, corporations and landlords
 continuing racism and discrimination against us and against our use of our own
languages and practice of our cultures
 non-recognition of our collective identities as indigenous peoples
 theft of our intellectual property rights over our cultural heritage, traditional cultural
expressions and traditional knowledge, including biopiracy of genetic resources and
related knowledge.
 desecration and destruction of sacred and religious sites.
 adverse impacts of climate change and actual and potential negative effects of climate
change mitigation measures which include;
 displacement from our lands because of expansion of biofuel monocrop production,
establishment of carbon sinks in our forests, building of more large scale hydro-electric
 market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading leading to more centralized, top-
down management of our forests under the reduced emissions from deforestation and
degradation (REDD) scheme.
 food crisis and increasing hunger due to:
 decreased control and access to sources of subsistence (forests, hunting grounds,
agricultural lands, waters, grazing lands, etc.) and basis of traditional livelihoods.
 dumping of highly subsidized, cheap agricultural products from the rich countries to the
poor countries.
 the shift away from production of food crops to crops for biofuels
 hoarding and speculation on food commodity prices
 aggressive promotion of chemically intensive industrial agriculture and use of
genetically-modified seeds
 increased extraction of oil, gas and minerals from our territories, in violation of our free,
prior and informed consent, leading to more environmental degradation, forced
displacements and poverty in our midst.
 increasing loss of indigenous languages and cultures decreasing further the cultural and
linguistic diversity of the world.


It is in our values of reciprocity, mutual respect, regard for the earth as our mother and all creation
as our relatives, collectivity and solidarity; in our indigenous cosmologies and philosophies; in our
traditional livelihoods, lifestyles and sustainable consumption practices that we can find the most
effective paths to a sustainable world. We sadly note that these values and practices are being
marginalized in a highly commercialized, consumerist, atomized and individualistic world when they
could instead be a guide not only for Indigenous Peoples but for the rest of humanity.

We therefore call on the G8 to do the following;

1. Effectively implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
and use this as the main framework to guide the development of all official development
assistance (ODA), investments and policies and programmes affecting Indigenous

2. That the Governments of Canada, the United States and Russia, respect the demands of
the Indigenous Peoples in their countries that they adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, and press the Governments of New Zealand and Australia to do

3. Ensure and facilitate the effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all the processes
of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and establish a Working
Group on Local Adaptation and Mitigation Measures of Indigenous Peoples.

4. Jointly assess and evaluate with Indigenous Peoples the adverse impacts of climate
mitigation measures on them and their communities and undertake actions to address

5. Remove, as part of renewable energy sources, large hydro-electric dams and stop all
funding for these. Reject proposals to include nuclear energy as clean energy.

6. Promote and support the development of small-scale, locally-controlled, renewable energy
projects using the sun, wind, water and ocean tides in our communities through technical
and financial assistance.

7. Reform migration laws to allow for the migration of Indigenous Peoples who are forced to
leave their countries because of the impacts of climate change, such as the submersion of
small-island states and low-lying coastal areas, the erosion and destruction of their lands
due to melting of permafrost, strong typhoons and hurricanes, and desertification due to

8. Provide financial support for our campaigns to get corporations and national governments
to compensate us, through financial and other means, for the environment services (clean
air, clean water, fertile soils, etc.) we are providing to the world because of our sustainable
management and use of our forests, watersheds, and our conservation of biological
resources to ensure maintenance of biodiversity.

9. Protect, respect and ensure our rights to food, to subsistence, to practice of our traditional
livelihoods, and to self-determined development. This means the following;
 Ensure our control and access to our sources of subsistence and traditional livelihoods
such as rotational agriculture, pastoralism, hunting, gathering and trapping, high
mountain agriculture, marine and coastal livelihoods, handicraft development, etc.
 Stop the dumping of cheap, highly subsidized agricultural products in our communities.
 Implement a moratorium on the expansion of biofuel production on our territories
unless our free, prior and informed consent is obtained.
 Strictly regulate speculation on food commodity prices.
 Criminalize hoarding of food by food cartels and syndicates.

10. Stop the promotion of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture in our communities and the
dissemination of genetically modified seeds in our territories. The continuing use and
export of banned toxic chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides to Indigenous communities,
especially in the developing countries should be banned and criminalized.

11. Stop facilitating the entry of transnational corporations involved in extraction of minerals, oil,
gas, coal, etc. in our communities without ensuring that the free, prior and informed
consent of the affected communities are obtained. Corporations from G8 countries which
have been involved in environmental destruction of our territories and who have committed
human rights violations against us should be brought to justice and should be required to
compensate the communities where they have polluted or otherwise caused damage.

12. Support our campaigns against the militarization of our communities, extrajudicial killings
and stop the labeling of Indigenous activists as terrorists and the use of laws such as
national security acts and anti-terrorism to curtail our legitimate resistance against
destructive projects and policies.

13. Support, through technical and financial assistance, our efforts to bring our complaints
against States, who are violating our rights, before the Treaty Bodies of the United Nations,
the regional commissions or courts on human rights such as the Inter-American Court of
Human Rights, the African Commission on Peoples and Human Rights, and the European
Commission on Human Rights.

14. Support the inclusion of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the
ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Charter on Human Rights and ensure
that this becomes an integral part of the newly established ASEAN Commission on Human

15. Provide support for establishing more cultural centres and museums in our communities,
and for educational institutions and programmes promoting intercultural and bilingual
education, use of Indigenous learning and teaching methods – including education through
the traditional oral mediums of Indigenous Peoples and through honouring local ways of
learning and knowing – as well as language courses to teach Indigenous languages.

16. Give effect to the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ sacred sites in recognition of their
human rights and intergenerational responsibilities to practice, teach, and maintain their
spirituality and indigeneity through their traditional languages, customs, ceremonies, and
rituals to ensure the continuity of the sacred in the futures of those yet to be born.

17. Stop the theft and piracy of our traditional Indigenous knowledge, traditional cultural
expressions (which include indigenous designs, arts, crafts, song and music), bio-genetic
resources including our human genetic resources, by biotechnology corporations, cultural
industry, and even by States and individual scientists and researchers.

18. Reform national intellectual property laws and global Intellectual Property Rights regimes
including the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement of
the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Substantive Patent Law of the World Intellectual
Property Organization (WIPO), among others, to respect and protect the collective
traditional knowledge and cultural expressions of Indigenous Peoples.

19. Stop nuclear proliferation and the use of depleted uranium as a weapon. Stop the dumping
of radioactive nuclear wastes as well as other toxic waste in Indigenous Peoples' territories.

20. To strongly support the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women in each nation, and to ensure that the marginalization of
and violence against Indigenous women, minority women, and all other women will be

21. Remove US military bases located in Indigenous Peoples territories and bring to justice the
military personnel who have been charged with rape and sexual assault of Indigenous
women. The forced drafting and recruitment of Indigenous youth to the military should also
be stopped.

22. To strongly encourage the Japanese Government, jointly with the Ainu community, to
interpret the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for implementation in
Japan as national law, and to further develop concrete actions and policy reforms to
amplify and clarify the Resolution recognizing Ainu as Indigenous Peoples. We protest the
fact that there is only one Ainu out of 8 persons included in the panel to discuss further the
implementation of this resolution. We call on the Government to increase the number of
Ainu representatives in the Panel.


We also discussed what we should do as, Indigenous Peoples, to implement the UN Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to strengthen our solidarity with each other and with
support groups and NGOs.

1. Establish a network of Indigenous Peoples to continue the task of organizing summits in
connection with the G8 Summits in the future. Indigenous Peoples in Canada are
encouraged to organize themselves so that they can host an Indigenous Peoples' Summit
during the 2010 G8 Summit in Canada. We will also encourage the advocates of
Indigenous Peoples rights in Italy to try to organize a summit for Indigenous Peoples at the
2009 G8 Summit in Italy.

2. Ensure that we, Indigenous Peoples all over the world, take up the responsibility to
implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, themselves, and enter
into constructive dialogue with States, the UN System and the other intergovernmental
bodies to discuss how they can effectively implement the Declaration at the local, national,
regional and international levels.

3. Use the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on
Indigenous Peoples' Rights, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and
fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, as mechanisms to monitor and ensure the
implementation of the UNDRIP by the aforementioned actors.

4. Ensure widespread dissemination of the UNDRIP through the use of multimedia, the
translation of this into languages understood by Indigenous Peoples, and the preparation
of popular versions which can easily communicate the substance of the UNDRIP.

5. Work towards getting the UNDRIP integrated as part of the education curriculum of
schools starting from pre-school to higher learning institutions.

6. Establish and replicate the experiences of the Maori and others in setting up language
nests where Indigenous Peoples can learn how to speak fluently their languages to arrest
the loss of indigenous languages in the world.

7. Organize and sponsor more education and training-workshops for our peoples where they
can learn more about the UNDRIP, how to implement it and learn more about the existing
instruments and mechanisms within the United Nations, the regional human rights bodies
and courts on human rights where they may bring their concerns if the UNDRIP is not
adequately implemented by States.

8. Establish international tribunals to hear and address Indigenous Peoples’ issues and
adjudicate issues which are not adequately addressed under domestic and international

9. Establishment of an Indigenous Peoples Green Fund to support the initiatives of
Indigenous Peoples to establish and strengthen their traditional livelihoods, their arts and
crafts and other forms of development which are consistent with their visions of their self-
determined development.

10. Support the fundamental rights of Indigenous Peoples to practice and to enjoy their cultural
history and the right to protect and to teach their cultural heritage through the
establishment of Indigenous-owned and controlled cultural centres within states and local

11. Support the struggle bv Indigenous peoples for land justice and for the return of forests
and traditional lands to the ownership and control of Indigenous peoples.

The implementation of the Declaration will not only benefit Indigenous Peoples but will also benefit
the earth and the rest of the world. If we are allowed to continue practicing our sustainable ways of
caring for the earth and caring for our relatives, not only human beings, but also plants, animals
and all other living things, these practices will redound for the benefit of everybody. If we are able
to continue speaking our languages and practicing our diverse cultures, then the world's cultural
heritage will be enriched. If our diverse economic, cultural, spiritual, social and political systems are
allowed to co-exist with other dominant systems then we can bequeath to our children and our
children's children a more diverse and viable world.

Agreed upon on July 4, 2008 by the following representatives:

Ainu (Japan): Ukaji Shizue, Kayano Shirô, Hideo Akibe, Shimazaki Naomi, Yûki Kôji, Sakai Mina,
Kibata Kamuisanihi, Kibata Hirofumi, Hitoresi (Kawakami Hiroko), Sakai Atsushi
Ami (Taiwan): Sing ‘Olam
Igorot (Philippines): Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum
on Indigenous Issues
Kanakana’ey - Igorot (Philippines): Joan Carling
Juma (Bangladesh): Dipty

The Pacific:
Chamoru (Guam): Fanai Castro
Hawai’i: Puanani Burgess, Puaena Burgess
Ngati Maniapoto (Maori, Aotearoa): Hohepa Rauputu
Ngati Ranginui, Ngati Tutwharetoa (Maori, Aotearoa): Zack Bishara
Nga Puhi, Ngati Kahu, Te Rarawa (Maori, Aotearoa): Eddie Walker
Ngai Tahu (Maori, Aotearoa): Steven Kent
Taranaki, Te Ati Awa, Ngati Maniapoto, Te Ati Haunui A Paparangi (Maori, Aotearoa): Liana
Uchinanchû (Japan): Nakaima Kenta
Yorta Yorta (Australia): Wayne Atkinson

Saami Nation: Magne Ove Varsi

The Americas:
Maya Kachikel (Guatemala): Rosalina Tuyuc
Miskito (Nicaragua): Rose Cunningham
Nauha (Mexico): Marcos Matias Alonso
Cherokee (USA): Jacqueline Wasilewski
Comanche (USA): Ladonna Harris and Laura Harris
Isleta and Taos Pueblo (USA): Ron Looking Elk
Jemez Pubelo (USA): Paul Tosa
Mohawk (Canada): Ben Powless
Lakota Sioux (USA)
St'at'imc (Lil’wat) (Canada): Attila Nelson


Muscogee Nation News Column August 2008

This month I’ve been searching around for a column. I never know where I’ll find them or if I will find anything at all. So I go outside and walk around the yard for inspiration. The winds here all have Hawaiian names. They have different personalities and move about in distinct ways.

I riffle through papers. The newspapers are filled with stories on the high price of living, the economic downturn. We’re still trying to get our oil and mineral leases of the last several hundred years accounted for by the U.S. government. Locally, a tiger shark bit a woman a few days ago when she was snorkeling on the Leeward Coast.

I sift through my emails. Petey Coser is going to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I look forward to his insights. The “Women in Pink Saris” in India are a gang of over 10,000 women who live in the most crowded and poor conditions and are of the lowest caste. They banded together and take matters into their own hands. They wear pink, because it is a color not worn by any sect, and carry battle poles as they fight for justice. They go after men who beat their wives; they go after officials who are abusing their powers. I appreciate this direct approach. And it’s been empowering and already brought about needed changes in their community.

One email links me to a short video. A lion cub is raised by a family then released into the wild. The family decides to try and find the lion. They are told that they most likely won’t find the lion, and if they do the lion won’t remember them. We see grainy footage of boys and the lion, all cub age, running about and roughhousing on a lawn. Then we see the boys as men when, despite the warning, have found the lion. The lion is ecstatic and runs up to his old family. He hugs them and leaps about with joy. The lion’s wife stands nearby as her husband embraces this human family. I love this video, maybe because I’m Katcv Clan. Also, the story reminds me of when we had more direct relationships with our animal and plant relatives.

I go back through my catalogue of dreams. In one recent dream I assisted a young woman who was trying to escape. We moved about the shadows. Then we saw a man with so much rage he was literally red. He charged toward us. At first I think the man is the one we're escaping. It's not him. This man is small and wiry. I appeared to be the object of his fury. He leapt to attack me. I did not react. I had made myself absolutely calm. His wild, red form went through me without a quiver. He was surprised, as he expected to encounter resistance, and there was none. He became himself again. And as he transformed he apologized for being overcome by Fury. Fury stalked off looking for someone else to attach to, to gain energy from, to suck.

Let’s see, if I keep looking I’ll find that column yet….


Suffering, and a Thank You for Kathryn

In the dreaming I found myself in the world of the dead, or one of the realms of the dead. I do not remember the story. I returned with the knowing I was there. The knowing will unwind through the day. Maybe this story is part of it.

This morning I learn of the death of my voice teacher in LA, Kathryn Skatula, an actor/singer originally from Sheridan, Wyoming. She acted and sang in plays and quite a list of accomplishments. She was in her early fifties, a young fifties. I worked with her about seven years ago. To find her I would drive south on La Cienega, past Olympia then turn west towards the ocean. In that part of LA ocean mingles heavy in the desert air. It is intoxicating, especially when mock orange blossoms ripen. I'd park, walk up to her apartment/studio on the second floor for my voice lesson. She was vibrant, intuitive, and an excellent voice teacher. What makes an excellent teacher? The core is belief in the student, love for the music (in this case) and absolute respect for the sources, the ancestors, and the process. She was always cheerful, had a glass of water and chair for me. Then we'd work. She took good care of my voice. She studied it, saw what I needed to grow. It wasn't just about voice. The voice is directly connected with the spiritual condition of a soul. When I first stepped into her home my voice was hidden, tentative. My voice had learned to speak and was restless for the next part of the journey. Singing meant another threshold, another realm between living and dying. Singing had been stolen from me by a demon when I was fourteen. Kathryn helped my voice emerge from the underground. She became one of my helper spirits.

Thank you Kathryn.

I read that she struggled with Lou Gehrig's disease. I look up Lou Gehrig's disease. It's degenerative. She suffered. At least she took her last breath at home, with those who loved her around her. That gives me comfort, however I ask the question we all ask when confronted with the suffering of one who appears to have acted with grace in this world, someone who has given back many times over.

The only reason I know for suffering is knowledge. And I've come to understand that there is a cost for everything. Sometimes there is grace, we are given gifts from out of apparently, nowhere. I'm beginning to understand that even those beautiful pieces of grace, or luck, were probably paid for by our ancestors' prayers or actions, by someone thinking of us even as they were breathing the smell of mock orange and saying thank you.

I'll keep that in mind as I walk out into this realm.

Santa Fe


A Spirit of Light

Photo c Joy Harjo 2007

Poetry Manifesta

1. Poetry is a gift from the spirits. Some are ancestral. Some climb back through the web. Some are sent as teachers and helpers. Others are troublemakers. Some are quirks of fate. Some, angels.
2. We must honor the source of poetry. Feed poetry.
3. We give something back. Poetry loves beauty, stones, singing, outcasts and dreamers.
4. We must keep integrity about our words, however they occur in our living and dying.
5. The body is a word.
6. Words are powerful and create.
7. To know poetry we study it, with mind, heart, body and soul.
8. To study poetry only intellectually is to only know the crust.
9. We must become poetry, or, no, that’s not it. Get out of your colonized mind. We are poetry.
10. Poetry is song language. It can be captured by paper and ink, by imaging. When it is, it begs to be released.
11. To learn poetry we make poetry. We must give ourselves over to it.
12. All poetry is essentially political. Poetry can bear human failures, the songs of flowers and antelope, heartache and ecstasy. It abhors polemics and dictators and will spit out such swill.
13. My eyes, ears, lips, voice, feet, heart, liver, fingers, sex are poetry.
14. All poems are love poems.
15. Beware of those who brag they are poets.
16. Beware a society that has turned its back on poetry. That society is dead.


In Honor of Mo Who is Our Cat, and We Are Hers

(Mo left this realm at 11:30AM this morning,NM time)

First we heard her heart,
a motor larger than her small mew self;
it filled her up, then us
when we touched.
And then the room
everything in the room:
couch, windows, the door
and eventually every room in the house
and the yard
and beyond the yard to the many years
of our lives--
This Mo
revealed herself a hunter:
of mouse
of roaches and any crawling thing
of birds
(most she could not catch and we
-the birds and us-were grateful)
of sunlight,
dog and plant leaf,
feet under blankets,
cords, wires
and laps and even computers--
This Mo became the first to answer every door.
to greet every visitor from beyond
especially those who dislike cats-
(those she greets most heartily
she has a sense of humor).
This Mo of catdom
in the winter grows
a stunning Siamese stole
she cleans daily to a shine
and gleam.
In the summer sheds it all
and stalks the house and yard
dressed ratty
in a jacket she still cleans
with fruitless effort--
This catward, forward Mo has weathered
the come and go of houses, dogs
and humans, the dragging her
and chasing her, and the
stealing of birds from the dominion of her
crying into her fur with her--
We know her as Mo: short for motor,
more better, more cat soul
per square or round inch--
most appreciative we are, and more.

c Joy Harjo 4/02


Bearing Witness

(this is not a poem, it is a journal in lines, or a riff):

Dark on the streets in Atlanta
The aftermath of the full moon
There was a wedding here in the courtyard
And an irresistible current of happiness
I can be anyone in this jump
I could be me
The doorkeeper knocks a taxi driver from dreams.
He’s up. A dollar is a dollar, or less than a dollar. This could be hell.
Once in awhile he has enough to curl up a funky green bill for a snort.
We careen the labyrinth through the dark.
The airport terminal is all artificial light
I watch a man who’d been up all night. He’s still rough as he clutches an overnight duffle. He’s got the party in him.
He’s dancing sweat.
Because security is insecure, we do not talk to each other
I instead acknowledge my lungs.
I had forgotten to breathe. I wait my turn in line
And buy People and a Starbucks
Here’s the most popular in current earth curriculum:
Standing in line 101
Remembering how to breathe: beginning, intermediate and advanced
Thuggery 401: the text is a popular magazine in the newsstand. The cover thug bears two black tears for two black lives, and a crooked stitch between his eyes. We’re supposed to want to be like him.
Get me out of here. We’ll all be gone soon enough.
The sun is throwing out a rope to pull himself up
Over the magnificent trees
These are the ruling beings of this place
Medicine grows everywhere here.
Can you smell it?
Brush yourself down and you are human again.
We lift off into the sky realm.
Do you remember? That was a life or two ago.
Then we are landing in Dallas. Two hours and we’ve crossed the Mississippi and they’ve killed King.
I don’t know where the hell I am.
Bury my heart at Horseshoe Bend.
Yes, there are still Indians in the South.
It’s not all black and white.
And then we’re landing in New Mexico.
I used to crave this red. It’s here where the poetry spirit found me
This was my heart.
We touch down and I flag a cab. I see the news:
A local institutional leader is hiring a pr firm to polish shit.
It will cost four million. We will all pay.
How much common sense could you buy with that?
How about kindness?
I unpack, take a break and meet a poet walking across the compound.
We compare our not-so-poetic notes. It turns out, polishing shit is a national prescription for bureaucratic incompetence.
Poetry is taking a dive.
I zone. I can see the Tallapoosa red with blood.
And what do I do with that?
And later I go see one of my oldest friends.
She’s lost her son. She is an island in a sea of tears.
Some are frozen. I see land birds. Eventually she will walk across.
Where is this magnificent boy who became a man?
Magical, isn’t it, how we emerge from nothingness
And return as breath.
Your son is dead.
How do you tell that to a mother for whom a child is always in her arms, with fragrant baby hair a halo on his head, no matter how time urges everyone on?
No matter the flicker trick of life.
We bore witness together to loss and grief as the sun fell back to earth again in this red land.
We became salt and tears.
We sat there in the quickening dark, waiting for time.

August 17, 2008 Sunday night



Mahmoud Darwish, My Hero has left a Hole in the Weave of this World

Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian poet was born in 1941 in the village of Al Birwa near the northern coastal city of Acre. His village was occupied by Israelis. He was exiled. He died at 67 in a hospital in Houston, Texas from complications of heart surgery.

How much can the heart take?

His poetry excavated themes of exile and resistance.

How much can the heart take?

An excerpt of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry, from

This is your name --
a woman said,
and vanished through the winding corridor
There I see heaven within reach.
The wing of a white dove carries me
towards another childhood. And I never dreamt
that I was dreaming. Everything is real.
I knew I was casting myself aside . . .
and flew. I shall become what I will
in the final sphere. And everything
is white . The sea suspended
upon a roof of white clouds. Nothingness is white
in the white heaven of the absolute.
I was and was not. In this eternity's white regions,
I'm alone. I came before I was due;
no angel appeared to tell me:
"What did you do back there, in the world?"
I didn't hear the pious call out,
nor the sinners moan for I'm alone
in the whiteness. I'm alone.
Nothing hurts at the door of doom.
Neither time nor emotion. I don't feel
the lightness of things, or the weight
of apprehensions. I couldn't find
anyone to ask: Where is my where now?
Where is the city of the dead,
and where am I? Here
in this no-here, in this no-time,
there's no being, nor nothingness.
As if I had died once before,
I know this epiphany, and know
I'm on my way towards what I don't know.
Perhaps I'm still alive somewhere else,
and know what I want.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a thought,
taken to the wasteland
neither by the sword or the book
as if it were rain falling on a mountain
split by a burgeoning blade of grass,
where neither might will triumph,
nor justice the fugitive.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a bird,
and wrest my being from my non-being.
The longer my wings will burn,
the closer I am to the truth, risen from the ashes.
I am the dialogue of dreamers; I've shunned my body and self
to finish my first journey towards meaning,
which burnt me, and disappeared.
I'm absence. I'm the heavenly renegade.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a poet,
water obedient to my insight. My language a metaphor
for metaphor, so I will neither declaim nor point to a place;
place is my sin and subterfuge.
I'm from there. My here leaps
from my footsteps to my imagination . . .
I am he who I was or will be,
made and struck down
by the endless, expansive space.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a vine;
let summer distil me even now,
and let the passers-by drink my wine,
illuminated by the chandeliers of this sugary place!
I am the message and the messenger,
I am the little addresses and the mail.
One day I shall become what I want.
This is your name --
a woman said,
and vanished in the corridor of her whiteness.
This is your name; memorise it well!
Do not argue about any of its letters,
ignore the tribal flags,
befriend your horizontal name,
experience it with the living
and the dead, and strive
to have it correctly spelt
in the company of strangers and carve it
into a rock inside a cave:
O my name, you will grow
as I grow, you will carry me
as I will carry you;
a stranger is brother to a stranger;
we shall take the female with a vowel
devoted to flutes.
O my name: where are we now?
Tell me: What is now? What is tomorrow?
What's time, what's place, what's old, what's new?
One day we shall become what we want.

Translated by Sargon Boulus from the author's collection 'Judariya'['Mural'],Riad El-Rayyes Books, Beirut, 2000. Reprinted from Banipal No 15/16


Wrestling with a Demon Story

The last post continues to disturb me. I signed on this morning with the intention of pulling it down. I might, yet. The story is negative, about a sticky sludge pool of human behavior. Third person voice distances and I tried to be smart about telling it, that is, make it a game. Still,the story is the proverbial giant tar baby. To tell it gives the story momentum. I want to contain it, make it go away, go back to the fine program we had going before the destruction. I want to heal the mess. I don't want to be stuck in it. I want to change the story. I want to hold the wrong doers accountable. I want them to see and acknowledge what they've done. I want to walk away. And I don't want to walk away from those who have been harmed.

My wise spirit reminds me that I can't change the essential nature of the story. No matter how I tell it the story remains a disturbing test of failed human behavior. What can I do? I ask my Teacher. I already know the rule: Anything you do must serve compassion, or love.

What if an enemy is coming toward me, toward all of us, to destroy us. How does love combat that enemy?

"I wouldn't stand there ruminating, I'd run," he says. We laugh. We've already gone over this territory. Self-defense in such situations is moral. Invading countries for their resources, isn't--

What do you do when you encounter any demon? You stay out of the way. Don't feed it with anger, fury, fear, self-righteousness, or anything else churning around in the reaction. If it is starved, it will go somewhere else, to live. Or lose momentum and fade away.

Bring about stories of beauty and complexity to feed the spirits of your ancestors, your grandchildren.

Makes sense to me.


Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Worse: an interactive story

A few years ago at two in the morning I was walking along the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike with my saxophone on my back, wheeling along two bags on wheels. I told myself, this will make a good story. And it does.

Here is a different story.

August 9-08 1:00 AM

Or was a different story.

I took it down tonight. I am going to keep moving in a direction in which I can best serve. And maybe that's what I have to learn here.

Every word out of our mouths is living material for building. I'd rather build something beautiful and useful. I don't want to stay turning around in anger. Behind anger is grief. I am grieving. And I will let it be what it is....There is always change. I don't understand the why of this one. There is mystery.

It is raining in Honolulu. I will be rain.