on USA

let's go shopping, dear
Walmart? have you got the list?
firearms and bullets

~

n.b. Mass shooting follows mass shooting. In between times, individuals in their homes, or out on the streets, are relentlessly slaughtered day after day.

The land of the fearful.

Support www.momsdemandaction.org

CLP 23/11/2022

on time

more shooting in school
St. Louis gathers more ghosts
soulless at its heart

~

n.b. It was just four weeks ago I walked past Central Visual & Performing Arts High School on Arsenal Street. It was a beautiful, sunny morning.

Pass any school in the USA and it sets one thinking about intruder prevention, safety drills, panic rooms, mitigation procedures and emergency responders.

I am not sure whether to be grateful that so few were killed, or horrified at how these events occur so frequently.

Rest in peace Jean Kuczka and your teenage student.

CLP 25/10/2022

on Ukraine

narrow strip of earth
turns into no man's land
time to draw the line?
a telephone rings
again? so soon? let me see
awkward exchanges
death calls at the door
its noose swings from naked tree
nuclear winter
who has the power?

~

n.b. It has come to this. Another conversation, the second in three days. Things are hotting up.

CLP 24/10/2022

on Ukraine

a second phone call
two-hundred forty-one days
while Ukraine's burning

~

n.b. Defence Secretaries of USA and the invaders just warming to each other? Some marriages have been planned, wedded and divorced in shorter periods. Will they both swipe right?

CLP 22/10/22

on time

Random people on the Staten Island Ferry
"I'm leaving on a jet plane
don't know when I'll be back again"
he whistled, beginning to tear up
because he hates flying
(honest)

~

n.b. With all due respect to singer-songwriter John Denver.

CLP 13/10/2022

on streets

Having a good time, everybody?
empty eyes, blackened
fingernails, frayed cuffs, alone
throng gets down and dirty

~

n.b. Nashville, Tennessee, ‘The Recording Capital of the World, (as I heard a man in a check shirt, jeans, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat label the place to two men in check shirts, jeans, cowboy boots and cowboy hats), is a busy place on a Saturday around noon.

It is mighty crowded. The sidewalks too narrow to accommodate the people. The shops too small for the lines of customers. The Johnny Cash Museum fulsome of people buying tickets, lining up to enter its exhibition rooms, queues of others waiting to have a gander around the souvenir store.

The air is filled with the low throb of traffic congestion; the whoopin’ and a hollerin’ of open wagon loads of young-acting women and men drinking heavily. Every building that isn’t a boot store, or souvenir shop is a bar with a stage that positions a duo, a trio, or a full band with their backs to the sidewalk. The bass drums and cymbals, distorted guitars and amplified voices tumble, conflictingly onto the street.

All around groups of friends, couples, families, stag and hen parties, step around each other trying to agree where to go next, what to do, or hesitate to check their party retains some coherent form.

In the bigger bars, several storeys of open windows and roof top terraces are full of people standing and drinking, or sitting and eating, often with bands bashing out popular songs which encourage customers to try singing along.

A plane passing close overhead on its landing flight path cannot be heard. If you add a couple of ambulance sirens, or a police vehicle’s whining to the cacophony, then you have a good idea of the unholy racket. Music City indeed!

Well, getting back to the senryū above, in the heart of this overwhelming nonsense, there are some very isolated people. They carry all their belongings in a plastic bag, or even a suitcase or two.

They are not of this tourist party world. The crowds so loud and busy there is no hope of being heard if asking for handouts. These sun-weathered ghosts just wander around, or sit in the not so rare boarded-up doorways, or just stand and stare, sometimes mumbling to themselves, maybe fumbling a rolling tobacco cigarette.

Hieronymus Bosch would have loved Nashville. On a Saturday lunchtime, a setting for the centre panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights; at night the setting fit for Hell.

~

CLP 09/10/2022

on time

take it to the street
city walls a buzz with hope
a new Birmingham

~

n.b. Stronger together. Who painted this? Do we fete the artist, applaud the message, or live and work for a stronger, shared future for the peace and security of us all and those who are following in our footsteps?

This artwork is part of a stunning mural in Birmingham, Alabama city centre. It is a collaborative piece from the BLM Artist Collective of that city.

CLP 08/10/2022

on guard

IN YUNG GUNS WE TRUST
threat? self-determination?
people get ready

~

n.b. Graffito on a low-rise social housing development in a beautiful, wooded district on the north side of Birmingham, Alabama. Not just scrawled on a wall, but painted large across the building.

At first, my response to these words was that this slogan, for it is big and prominent enough to be a political slogan, was an act of immature bravado, possibly delineating gang territory. However, this is not necessarily the case. Gang signs are usually more subtle, more discreet, almost meaningless to the naïve passerby, instantly recognisable to friend and foe.

Here in Birmingham Alabama, (the neatest, tidiest city centre in the whole of the USA as far as I have seen), there has been a long history of open warfare on people of colour by racist whites.

As a civil war was fought, as legislation was introduced, as civil rights were argued for and established, the racists have beaten, bombed and murdered people in this small city for speaking up for their basic rights as citizens of the USA. The racists in this city, made it a point to openly and brutally resist the changes USA society needed to go through to begin to live up to its constitutional promise, “all men are created equal.”

Birmingham, Alabama is a place of pilgrimage. A place to pay respect to the church-going children fire-bombed, the Freedom Riders set upon, the brave people who endured attacks by police dogs, batons and boots, our fellow human beings who were treated worse than dogs for boycotting, travelling, marching, sitting in, or simply praying.

This history of living memory does not just disappear overnight. It might be, given the attack on the Capitol Building in Washington DC on 6th January 2021, that some people do not feel entirely at ease with the increasing aggression of the extreme right.

It might be that the public murder of George Floyd and the deadly shootings of so many other black young people by police officers around the USA, has provoked some to think that if the ghastly NRA can argue guns are for defence, then these young people are not going to be sitting on their hands and hanging about for official help in policing their community.

In the USA those, who have made sure access to firearms is so easy, need to appreciate that self-defence means everyone has the right to be armed. These trusting in “YUNG GUNS” are taking the freedom to carry deadly weapons argument for defence to its obvious conclusion. If you believe you can’t trust the police, courts and the prison system to act humanely, who can you trust?

Then, after asking who do you trust, the next question needs to be “Who do you love?”

Unfortunately, sadly, awfully, I have since heard that the YUNG GUNS who had sprayed the blue paint on the wall, (barely visible on the brickwork in the photo above), had been enforcing their own form of terrifying justice locally.

~

CLP 06/10/2022

on time

graffiti, street tents
substation, bricks, broken glass
Land of milk & honey

~

n.b. Another time, another place. Elysium Fields, Marigny, New Orleans, Louisiana.

on time

getting late perhaps
I should be heading on home
fear of missing nowt

~

n.b. Frenchmen Street, New Orleans. I recommend it.

CLP 02/10/2022