Further thoughts on the cultural labor of poetry and art. Not merely "is it good?," but "what has it accomplished?"...reviews of recent poetry collections; selected poems and art dealing with war/peace/social change; reviews of poetry readings; links to political commentary (particularly on conflicts in the Middle East); youtubed performances of music, demos, and other audio-video nuggets dealing with peaceful change, dissent and resistance.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 45: Mercy Mercy Each: Black Site (Exhibit Q) and William Kelley Woolfitt
Lenten Journey Day 45: Mercy Mercy Each: Black Site (Exhibit Q) and William Kelley Woolfitt
into your hands I commend my spirit.
For all my
foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken.
Last night was
the beginning of the Easter Triduum, the three days of Easter, beginning with Holy
Thursday, when the priest bends to his knees to wash the feet of his
parishioners. In Rome, Pope
Francis spoke about God’s infinite mercy. In his words:
restores everything; it restores dignity to each person. This is why effusive
gratitude is the proper response: we have to go the party, to put on our best
clothes, to cast off the rancour of the elder brother, to rejoice and give
thanks… Only in this way, participating fully in such rejoicing, is it possible
to think straight, to ask for forgiveness, and see more clearly how to make up
for the evil we have committed….
ourselves that there are countless masses of people who are poor, uneducated,
prisoners, who find themselves in such situations because others oppress them.
But we too remember that each of us knows the extent to which we too are often
blind, lacking the radiant light of faith, not because we do not have the
Gospel close at hand, but because of an excess of complicated theology. We feel
that our soul thirsts for spirituality, not for a lack of Living Water which we
only sip from, but because of an excessive “bubbly” spirituality, a “light”
spirituality. We feel ourselves also trapped, not so much by insurmountable
stone walls or steel enclosures that affect many peoples, but rather by a
digital, virtual worldliness that is opened and closed by a simple click.
We are oppressed, not by threats and pressures, like so many poor people, but
by the allure of a thousand commercial advertisements which we cannot shrug off
to walk ahead, freely, along paths that lead us to love of our brothers and
sisters, to the Lord’s flock, to the sheep who wait for the voice of their
struck, reading Scripture during this Lenten season, how much of the Gospel writing
has precursors in the Hebrew Scripture, particularly in the Psalms and Isaiah.
Either Jesus consciously echoed such voices during his life, or the writers of
the Gospels wrote him as the fulfillment of longings within Hebrew Scripture,
Today is Good Friday, the day that commemorates Jesus’s crucifixion. What
we have today is a person suffering the most cruel torture, torture unto death.
Torture at the hands of those who felt Jesus was dangerous, a risk to security
and the social orders. Like Mohamed Farag Bashmilah, rendered into black sites
and tortured there.
William Kelley Woolfitt for his contribution and response to “Black Site
"so I could pass the
time…” response by William Kelley Woolfitt
Two Digital Watches
Not for long,
he marks the hours with a prayer chart, a watch with a map of the world. I did not have information I needed, he
says. Guards take the watch, tape outside the glass another watch, its straps
cut away. Time drags, he doesn’t look at the face.
plastic bottles with the labels stripped, filled from a large drum, he washes
his head and feet for prayer, drinks what might be tainted, impure, he cannot
Best efforts, he says. He kneels, lowers himself,
touches his flat palms and forehead to the gray floor, the covering, the dirt.
Fastened to an
iron bolt, the chain lets him reach the bucket-toilet, freights his body, he
can raise his right hand no higher than his waist.
The Sound of Waves
blast music, then pause, and he listens for the call of a far mosque—then a
recorded ocean, seagulls, waves breaking a shore.
Woolfitt is the author of the poetry collections Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press,
2014) and Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, 2016). He edits Speaking of Marvels
(chapbookinterviews.wordpress.com), a gathering of interviews with
chapbook and novella authors. His poems and stories have appeared in Blackbird, Image, Tin House, Threepenny
Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Epoch, and other journals.