A transcendentalists worst nightmare!

This morning and coffee, blind tightly shut.

Home away from home.

I try to embrace reality, in kind. Settle down,

breathe. Enjoy the cool fresh spring air.

A family waits for me at the other end of this L&N.

Thoughts have replaced song.

Worries soothed by experience.

Long stare, looking to nothing.

Thinking, mourning, dreaming.

Thinking about my father, step father, mother.

An upbringing, theirs.

An awesome task, responsibility to a son and wife.

Facts, equations, works.

Draw a solid line under all the fulfillment of life.

Like a prayer. A mandala of me like the last grain

of sand from a monk’s artful creation blown away.

Collected and thrown into today and tomorrows.

There is a new moment out there past closed hotel windows.

I have not seen it yet. This plastic room, nothing here

is real. I have no want to be exposed to foreign light.

Television, Mode of operation, Facebook, Twitter.

All this is for folly! The worried words of so called

friends. Their worry. I know just a drop of his story,

her want. Vanity glaring on pixel glass’ reflection.

An unreachable solidarity. Knowing of pain.

Of no relief or an outlet. Sharing a tremendous burden.

Like nothing we have never experienced.

I fancy that poets of old like us meet.

Dreamers of dreams. Scribes of time and place.

A mirror for some. The melody of life of

dissonance and harmony metaphorically tricking

an orchestra into laying down their instruments

and dancing with the audience.

This morning and coffee after a short rest.

These words are for anyone who has time.

I take time. Like that time, as a child I stole

some gum from the little mom and pop up the street.

I have reasoning and excuses

that afford me that sort of favor!

Mine! All this is ours anyway!

This. Some seem to be praying for an end.

I know how to make it all stop.

Power is a button I know how to push.

Revolt, revolution, revolving.

A love supreme in action and in thought.

A pursuance of Psalms, a wisdom of history.

Holding sympathetic breath screaming.

We do need each other. Duality.

A transcendentalists worst nightmare!


My Mother Was A Teacher! #120strong

My mother at a late age
decided to go back to college.
To become a teacher!
She was my Cub Scout den mother,
we saved stamps for Bangladesh.

And after we filled gallon ice cream buckets
with stamps, thousands of used stamps to
be matched face value, the Boy Scouts of
America put us on the front page of Boy’s Life!
They didn’t like our activism at first.

Bangladesh? Where is that? Many people
would ask, and us kids had just learned
ourselves, about poverty and working conditions.
We were doing something, just a little something
to help, my mother leading us by heart and action.

In college, she helped to fight Apartheid.
I learned to get up stand up, stand up for
your rights. I lived in fear my mom would be
arrested. I did my homework, with her new
college buddies at Denny’s – organizing.

After divestment, and graduation, she left
her activism to teach, “I took my activism to the
classroom” – she said many times. I remember
her first days, nervous and scared – the little
mixed girl from east Jefferson St. Mother of three.

Her first classroom was as small as a closet.
Her children labeled behavior problems.
She said frequently her kids were the poorest
of the poor white, and the poorest of the poor
black, Lake Dreamland and Cotterhomes.

Her children. She told stories of home visits
with kids who had dirt floors, and issues
because of where they were living.
She made a thousand excuses for them
because they were the ones left behind.

“Poverty knows no color”, I remember her saying.
I remember hours around the kitchen table
she worked at home grading papers.
Calls to parents, worrying about her kids.
Wondering if they would make it to school.

When the school system wanted to label me –
she let me quit school at the age of sixteen.
She knew i was special, her lessons deep
with moral, her life was lesson enough –
the youngest of many, an immigrants kid.

Raised in the Jim Crow south – her country
white Baptist mother and her accent –
her brown Lebanese father, afraid to teach his kids
their language because he didn’t want his
children to be made fun of. Singled out.

The underdog was who my teacher mother
fought for! Her kids, the ones who chemicals
had infected, music had exploited – parents
had abandoned, boys with no fathers, girls
with no roll models, families struggling to live.

If my mother could see what is going on now –
she would be another voice in the sea of red.
The teachers chanting “we’re not gonna take it!”
And it is a shame that these people who we all
have to thank, are having to take a day off.

Teaching is a calling, I saw it call my mother
to a life of struggle. Struggle like a mother
does when her children are sick. Or when her
classroom got too big for her to take care of
them individually. Or struggle with a Principal.

Who saw teaching like a business. Was more
worried about numbers than souls. Put their
politics before children. And it is sad that today
we are in this position. Our Teachers are begging
a government that has been raided by thieves –

for the right to do what they have been called
to do and for the pension and a retirement
that we all benefit from. This is a deep issue.
and if you think a bad teacher is hard to fire …
You really need to learn a serious life lesson.

Anyone can memorize talking points made
by the privitizers. The corporate lackies who
see children as products – say words like
productivity and profit. We as a people are
morally bankrupt, if we can’t stand up for teachers!


Schoolidarity Forever #120strong #kyunion

Schoolidarity Forever

When the union’s inspiration through the worker’s blood shall run.

There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun.

For what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?

For the union makes us strong!

We are public educators and we’re here to take a stand!

This is not the lesson we asked for, this is a fight the politicians planned!

And we’ll stand up for our pensions and we’ll do it hand in hand!

For the union makes us strong!

Every school the board’s sabotage is ours and ours alone!

Every student, parent, worker every brick and every stone!

They are ours, not to languish in, but to thrive in and to own.

For the union makes us strong!

The politicians stole our pensions, and now they want our schools!

They tell us, “it’s just how things are,” and they play us for fools.

But we know that they rigged the game and we won’t obey their rules!

The union makes us strong!

They say “there’s no alternative,” they say it but they’re wrong!

There stealing from our children and they’ve done it for too long!

So join us in our picket lines and join us in our song,

For union makes us strong!

They have taken untold billions, that never toiled to earn!

But without our brains and muscles not a single kid can learn!

We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn!

That the union makes us strong!

In our homes and in our classrooms, in the banks and in the street,

our united people’s movement is a force that they can’t beat!

We are here to take back every Board of Education Seat!

And the union makes us strong!

In our hands is placed a power greater than their horded gold.

Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand fold!

We can bring to birth a new world, from the ashes of the old!

For the union makes us strong.

Solidarity Forever!

Schoolidarity Forever!

Solidarity Forever!

For the union makes us strong!

Re-write 2018 – John Paul Wright – www.railroadmusic.org

Chicago Teachers – 2016 – Ralph Chaplin 1915 – I.W.W


To Jesus:

To Jesus:


As a Teamster, it was hard for me not to think that the union I was in, somewhat mirrored your organization – your Apostles, your mission and vision, your message, followers and campaigns, all that seems akin to the work of a union. As a union democratic reformer, I witnessed corruption in our organization that resembled the same issues that you were upset with in your followers – our labor temple, the union, wrought with money changers and good people drugged by power, influence and titles.

Yet, it was reforming our union that was on our table. We knew the power of the union was when we stood, hand in hand. We knew the union was a tool that we were using to fight the same powers that you were fighting – governments, powerful people, greedy CEOs and it seemed to me that we clearly understood that we were organizing for the little people.

Today is the day your followers celebrate the day of your resurrection three days after your execution. I see today as the day you were put into action!

In my union we know:

Direct Action. Gets The Goods!
An Injury To One, Is An Injury To All!

And although, I am not what some would call a Christian, I feel a deep solidarity with your message.

Love thy neighbor,

give your money to the poor,

the sermon on the mount,

blessed are the poor.

All that stuff. I got it.

To your followers, you became a martyr!


I must tell you that once I was a converted Muslim. in Islam, there is a tradition where you pray while on your daily journey to the Mosque. One day the Imam of the community, asked me what i pray for when I walked to the Islamic Center. I told him that I was praying that my brothers and sisters would understand your message. We called you Esa, and to Islamic people of faith, you are a very important Prophet.

An although I am not a Muslim now, I still feel a deep solidarity with Islam, especially the Sufis. They are somewhat the reformers of their faith and are sometimes still violently persecuted by the fundamentalists of their own religion. I think what i am trying to say to you Brother is:

Solidarity Forever!

We have a martyr in our union whose name was Joe Hill. He was shot by the copper bosses in the State of Utah. He was shot by firing line in a very public execution. And just like you, he looked his oppressors straight in the eye and kept his composure throughout the entire trial and execution. His last spoken words on this earth were:

Ready, Aim, Fire!

It has been over 100 years since Joe Hill was murdered for speaking out against greed. His songs liken your parables, were hard hitting and are still taught in institutions and sung by his followers. His ashes are in a shrine, in a labor temple also known as the I.W.W. General Headquarters in Chicago, USA.

As union people, we know that Joe Hill never died! His spirit lives on in the hearts of every union person who still, after all seems lost, can find the courage in their hearts to not mourn, but to organize! Even in the face of a jeer from a distraught fellow worker, being red baited, black listed, in the heaviness of a lost strike or after a long day working as a wage slave, we find faith in ourselves as union people in the One Big Union!

Brother Jesus,

today I pray that your followers will understand the message that you gave to them. I, as a universally faithful person, be it that i am very wary of the institutions created by people, know that your story has been well preserved and in that preservation
you also have never died.

Solidarity to you,

Fellow Worker,
John Paul


Say hello to Sitting Bull for me.
amen, and women too.


The Monks Are Going Into The Caves

The Monks Are Going Into The Caves

is what my mother would say

when she was trying to instill in me

that all is actually well …

especially, she would mention –

it is, an election year, things are going to be crazy.”

So, I know, this Monk, is going into the cave.

The center, a passion play that is not a trick.

Act 1-

Once there was a mouse. Who heard a

distant sound. He left his home in search

of the source of mystery. This mouse

fell into the river and found a journey.

Seven Arrows, a grandfather

suggested .. don’t go .. stay here with me …

But, the mouse had given everything he

had away, fear – his only robe!

Soon – the mouse, fearing a shadow ..

found that the Eagle .. his biggest fear –

was on him. After he let go .. he flew away.

On the top of a mountain –

he found, he was,


Act 2-

and I alone, in my room, learned of

Nelson Mandela, read the book – as

a child, appalled that this man was so

alone for so long – just because. and then

we stood and fought and won, surrounded

the Thinker, took over the information station –

and shut it down, Minerva – and her machine

was crushed by her own children. A progressive

league of students, and I, as a young man … took

down oppression. yet .. on to No Nukes –

The F.O.C.U.L point of a campaign – fairness was born –

I went on to study culture born of a Malian empire – and

then, was captured by the natives and haunted

by the sounds of rail yard ghosts.

Act 3-

There is power, there is power in a band of working

folks, when they stand, united they fall and now I am going

into the cave. A monk, the loneliest one. I have climbed

enough mountains, drank enough wine, I know this is not

an act, I have seen the end, turned and came back, I fear

only fear – because, …

Act 4 –

We are all going to die. We are not free.

Point Of Privilege!

whereas – I have sat with activists,

sang with reds and hippies, worked with people

who were born again, found god, ran from


whereas – I have drummed a sacred sound

with the best. Found a place somewhere there,

out there in space, I have heard the last trumpet –

written disgruntled revelations to the editor.

whereas – we all want the same thing! All of us

who are awake to the spirit, equations, language –

call it what you want .. we all come from dirt.

So, there for be it resolved.

I quit.

The monks are going

into the caves and

I am going with them!

To be or not to be,

is a statement,

not a question!

John Paul



Hey Glenda Mellick! Today is International Women’s Day!

Hey Glenda Mellick!

Today is International Women’s Day!
You for me, was the one who –
when i was a kid, made sure I read
Our Bodies Ourselves!
You strong woman! You!

And when i was a kid,
You were the only one
who could get a fire going
at the cub scout gathering.
And they made fun of me
for you being our den mother!

And how you used to console
me because I was fat and four
eyes, you said they were jealous!
Of what? I would ask …
and you just had a way with the

And your big activist mouth
got us kids in trouble,
because you saw hypocrisy
and just had to not stand
idle. You mother!
You wife! You waitress –
You teacher!
Your my International
Women’s Day winner!

And when you came out
of the closet, late in life
and became a mother to
others in your community
who were being disowned –
labeled, cut out of wills –
like your young friend
Joseph, his father threw
him out, and he came over
and broke down into your arms.

I was listening! Our house
was open, and free!
You mom! Wild womyn!
At the Women’s festival
running around half naked,
volunteering for the garbage
patrol all so you could meet
Holly Near. Speaking
at the U.N. on divestment
of South African Apartheid!

And then my little sister
Katie and Mel! Your loving
partner and what that meant
to the community. A community
I saw struggling to find a place
in a mean society! I miss
you, and I know, wherever
you are, the angels are
laughing, listening to
you tell stories about
the ones you loved!

Happy International Women’s Day!



Railroaded – The Railroad Teach-in

This is a work in progress. Click the links as we go … 

1860 – L&N railroad chartered in 1860 by the Commonwealth of Kentucky

In 30 years grew from 300 miles of track to 6000 miles

1863 – Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers founded

1865 – Civil War ends April 9th 1865

Song – Railroading On the Great Divide

1868 – The Fort Laramie Treaty The treaty includes an article intended to “ensure the civilization” of the Lakota, financial incentives for them to farm land and become competitive.

1869 – Gold Spike Driven by Leland Stanford of the Central Pacific railroad. Spike is on display at Stanford University (Cantor Arts Museum)

1874 – Gold Discovered in Black Hills

1891 – Haymarket in Louisville established

STOP – Competition in Agriculture

1893 – American Railway Union – First and Largest Industrial Union formed.

1893 – Strike of the Great Northern Railway.

1894 – Pullman Strike

STOP – Industrial Unionism and Eugene V. Debs

1900 – Feb 3rd William Goebel Shot (only US governor ever assassinated)

1900 – Casey Jones incident in Mississippi

Song – Original Casey Jones song written by Mrs. Jones

1905 – IWW

1906 – Federal Employers Liability Act Enacted

STOP – Behavior Based Safety

1917 – WWI – Railroads Nationalized until 1920

1922 – The Great RR Shop Strike

STOP – Carl Braden’s father

1926 – Railway Labor Act

1941 – WW2

Song – The Fields Have Turned Brown

1956 – National Interstate and Defense Highways Act

1962 – Haymarket closes (I65 ramp construction)

1971 – L&N Railroad purchased by Seaboard Coastline

Song – The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore

1977 – Wendell Berry publishes Unsettling of America

1979 – L&N sells Union Station to TARC. TARC spends 2 million to renovate

1979 – NY Dock Railway v. I.C.C

1980 – Staggers Act – Railroad Deregulation enacted and sponsored by Democrat Harley Staggers

1985 – First Farm Aid Concert in Champaign Il.

STOP – Just Transition

Song – Leave the Lights On For Me

1986 – CSXT railroad

2010 – Berkshire Hathaway offers $26 Billion to purchase BNSF railroad (Largest Acquisition)