The Interview starts at about 15 minutes in …
The Interview starts at about 15 minutes in …
20170601 – The Garden
Did you ever wonder why
Jesus went to the garden?
He was probably depressed –
and sick and tired of
not just the system,
but sick of it all!
He was probably pissed
that the souls of men –
were so greedy –
he was probably pissed
that prostitution –
and poverty walked
hand in hand …
the man of few words –
in the world
of nature –
where birds sing and bees
hop flower to flower –
he went on
he stopped for
a moment …
called his Dad,
She was watching
her son die!
She was by his side
proud of her son –
worried sick –
most of the time.
his partners –
his board –
the ones who
after he was gone,
would get it wrong …
do what he told them
not to do-
build churches so big –
throw stones –
ask me –
hair is long …
are my heroes.
( – If there is a criminal element
I am of it – if there is a soul in prison – )
power and greed –
ask why when
I was a child –
i cried when they
told me Jesus
died because of me.
the holy ghosts
dancing – ask
ask me about Debs
and John Brown –
ask about the
and why i would
rather play music with
children or be a
to the ones who
everyone else warned,
( – listen to the birds they will
teach you what they know – )
ask about Rumi
ask about Sufi
ask – why I heard
( – Allah and Buddha
were singing at the savior’s feast! – )
and now –
in this moment
i and you
are here now.
and his flight
to the garden
and his river
and the mustard
seed, and science
and matter –
it’s all the same!
We are stardust…
and a reflection
is just an image.
The Kentucky Derby is a corporation –
like the coal companies and Japanese
bourbon barrel barons & back in the
old days – was only a week-long festival …
– And I am sure,
Y’all are squeamishly hoping this
rant will end on a good note, like the house
slave that wants to get a good night’s rest –
comfortably in the quarters – “Y’all darkies
are supposed to be gay.” “Y’all know,
Papa gots his friends over an’ we
ain’t supposed to be talking about his
whips and all his tax breaks!”
The Kentucky Derby is as stupid
as full grown adults, waiting around
the fireplace, cookies placed and waiting
for Santa to come and leave big box warehouses
and nice new auto plants under the tree. And when
one of his beasts of burden, breaks its leg –
you wake the kids to help Santa shoot it
in the head.
The Kentucky Derby is a golden
cash cow worshipped, like the military air show
that runs up and down the Ohio river – while
the Belle of Louisville and our streets are
prostituted out to Masters of War and commerce –
we are supposed to be nice, like the bourbon
“Bonded” like the small-neighborhood family parties.
“Branded” like the jockeys exploited for profit –
like how the “green” justifies the horse shit
and the mint sprig, the alcoholism of the aggressor,
the audacity of gambling and gaudy hats of
The Kentucky Derby is a waste
of time because when this is all over,
your gonna wake up with a bad taste in your mouth,
praying that when you blacked out, you were not date
raped by your boss or fondled by one of
his frat boys, while his friends – standing
over – laughing and drunk –
money falling out of
their pockets – paid your friends
to hush up
But, don’t worry – It is what it is –
Y’all come out smelling like roses!
When Woody Guthrie wrote –
This Machine Kills Fascists –
on his guitar,
he was a volunteer in the
The tool I am using now –
to write these words –
was made in China.
A Communist country
that has embraced
When we had the
Good Neighbor Food CO-OP –
we had several 18 wheelers –
and a Federation of Ohio River Cooperatives –
we made our own distribution.
Kroger grocery is Union,
(so, was Woody’s boat)
and we were ordered
to compete and destroyed
because our services,
were a threat.
Now, look down at your
feet, past that pixilated tool
and those shoes made
by slave labor –
and tell me how many
lithium batteries you have
thrown away, into the Earth –
that we all are spinning on.
And like this we go
around and around …
– ring around the rosies
a pocketful of posies –
– ashes to ashes
fall down –
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For – Mrs. Bonita Points
My neighbor, she is 96 years old –
came out and walked around our
pond. we share this place –
i watched as she and her cane –
hobbled around a little path that
she maintains – her mind almost gone-
her look – far off and she reaches out
her hand- i take it into mine
as if i am greeting
a royal queen.
i already knew
she wouldn’t remember
when she called the police
on us for chopping down
one of her trees. And when
the policeman came …
he asked me how long her
husband had been gone …
he asked me what we should
do to make this right.
and on that day, i told him
he had been gone a long time
and that we should listen to her –
she won’t remember this anyway!
(… all she really wants is to find her
husband on that path, she wants
to look up from her weed pulling
and see him standing there,
her partner – who she talks about
every time we meet …)
… and as neighbors do,
she parted with some kind words –
she made a mention that soon
she will meet him up there!
I told her, that he has been
waiting a long time! she
shuffled away into the afternoon …
seemingly content that all
of this is here, the pond, the trees
and the yard that she
once bought with him,
planted with him,
soon my neighbor will be gone …
the 96-year-old angel
of his dreams …
… and he asked me “what are your politics?”
I told him Frank Zappa was my favorite
guitar player. Because he paid his musicians
a fair living wage.
Why don’t we talk
like that anymore?
I believe in my Djembe!
I believe in collectivism,
like as in an Arkestra …
Who followed the leader,
because the leader knew he
would need to make another
mistake and do something
wrong … and make another
mistake and do something
(and … all of this is but fragments
of thought radiating from years of
experience. Nights, burning away,
high on life’s blood surging
like panic and inspiration.)
It’s after the end of the world,
so … workers … fellow workers,
as we are forced to build their
pyramids – and as we are forced
by gun point and neglect – to watch
the takers of the world destroy all
that is … don’t forget to look at the
stars – remember to look into the
water at the mirror image,
and remember this is all about you!
and me too …
ashes to ashes –
we all fall down
if we fall to fear …
our religion is reason,
my political views
are man-made. The laws of nature are
relevant to us all. Self-help comes
directly in action and inaction.
We revolve …
If we build a new world?
They will try to destroy it.
I, don’t want no part of theirs.
They can keep their ashes –
their corpses – and monuments.
(Yours for the Alter Destiny…
Space is the Place….)
From a recent show at Lettersong Gallery
from today – Sunday – Oh, Louisville .. SMH …
the slaves cry from the field …
master – with watchful eye
his employee shall do his
so as to keep his hands
free of responsibility –
master doesn’t whip his slaves –
he sub-contracts out that labor …
(now turn over the tag
on your shirt)
and ask this question …
Do I Support Slave Labor?
How do we defend that?
Pick up a rock!
Are you (triggering) –
A revolt – a slave
insurrection – intersection
from the other
side of the tracks?
(I’ll clean a pane of
my glass house
the slaves cry some more –
and X – Marx the spot
where they killed the
reformer – turned
against him –
they listened to all
the critical judgement-
the name calling-
the War of factions –
(now, turn your clothing
inside out- and walk
a mile in my slave made
Buy into my story –
gather round me children
a story i will tell –
of a code talker
and a heroine-
the slaves knew her well-
(now, i am holding a tool
made by machines)
wave that flag
wave it high
i got the US blues –
(this is madness)
that freak flag
and kiss the sky –
and now call me
a punk… and pick
up another rock!
(now, let us remember that
LP’s are made from oil)
and what about this
and what about that –
the house slave is getting
nervous – it’s awfully
comfortable and cold
so, he fracks a bit of coal
(now, slaves- have you
Agitated- ill sip
some more of my
made by farmers
own a coop –
and the seller owns
his business – yet
(this is a family business
you can talk to us directly)
Now ask yourself …
What is a union?
and X Marx the spot
where ISLAM and Peace
rests. (They) killed Malcolm
The code talkers?
No! (A black mass)
(and X Marx the spot
where C+C still = C if there
is no slave to trade in
a market that is free)
and 2+2 still = 4 unless
you fall to fear –
a caged mind
(i’ll change a pane
of broken glass)
You could think
about time …
grab another rock
because X Marx the spot
where (They) killed
MLKjr … the code
for Change …
The slave slips
away – and the
as the animals
(have you learned
the lesson yet?)
I’ll go (Even Further)
so gather round me
Hop on the buss
and a story i will
about the hero
who stole from the rich
and gave to the poor …
and then Quit!
He had gone far enuf!
(now, get back to
shit floats to
I B of C local 1
amen & Sisters too!
Dear Mr. Berry.
I am a forty five years old locomotive engineer Kentuckian. I have read only but a few of your words and have watched only two videos that you are featured in. I have learned in my middle age that it is very unfair and dangerous to put someone on a pedestal. I have and just might be somewhat in what some might call a midlife crisis.
I feel as if I am being pulled.
I must mention, that I have a reading disability and have a very hard time enjoying books. I also must mention that I have found an amazing resource in a service called Librivox. This service is a crowd sourced audio book collection.
I just finished listening to everything Upton Sinclair ever wrote. “They Call Me Carpenter” and “The Profits of Religion” being my favorites. I am now upon suggestion from a very good friend of Utah Phillip’s, listening to the “Iron Heel” from Jack London …
I feel as if I might mention that their words have only further grounded and centralized my feelings that I was raised to have. I am the son of an activist who knew and worked with Anne Braden. My mom did not get national credit for her work. My mother was a teacher in Jefferson County, Kentucky but she did not write a book, but she was as instrumental part of getting the University of Louisville to divest its funds from South African Apartheid.
I was raised by activists, railroaders and electricians, in Kentucky.
My front yard was George Rogers Clark Park in Louisville, Kentucky, Mulberry Hill, The Clark family home is where I played … in a creek that ran into Bear Grass Creek, catching crawldads and building dams with grey clay.
In this park, there is a very large tree.
The Tree is located very close to where the Clark family positioned their spring house. It was at this tree that I found the Great Spirit. Where I read “Touch the Earth”. (I got it from John Gage’s son ….) I spent many a day with my back leaning against this tree reading speeches from the great native chiefs of our land called America. This tree is where I fell in love with our Mother Earth. I visit this tree when I miss my mother. Sometimes I visit it alone. By myself. I loved my mother and miss her … She loved the tree too.
I have fallen in love with one of your poems, but, before I fall any deeper in the well known as Wendell Berry, I must mention, that I feel very drawn to your vibrations. Maybe it is because we have drank of the same water, maybe it is because we share a love for the same state. Maybe it is because our accents are very close.
My mother in law is from Henry County. I suspect you might know who Vernon Rucker was. He was my wife’s grandfather and at one point the Sheriff of Henry County. Florence, her Grandmother, worked at the Chat and Nibble in Eminence for many years.
I am writing you to ask a favor, but to further explain somewhat my request, I must explain something that I am still trying to figure out. So I, a brave to the elder, might suggest that maybe you should organize the International Brotherhood of Contraries.
The labor movement sure could use it.
I am a rank and file union activist, and that don’t get you very many friends in the labor movement these days. I am a serious defender of union democracy.
The men of today have been taught an aggressive union thug mentality.
I am struggling to survive at CSX railroad. This is partly the pull that is fueling my crisis. I am afraid…. but… I am only afraid for others, or at best, very confused.
As I write this, I have put it out there in the air, that I request a meeting with you, to ask a favor. I am helping to organize a Labor / Environmental conference in Richmond, California and Olympia, WA with my organization Railroad Workers United.
If this letter was to make it into your hands, I would be extremely excited. I have tasked longtime friend and somewhat spiritual adopted father John Gage with the task … to see what he could do to get this meeting done. John is getting old and his heart is well … John is another of these folks who have not received the national attention that I personally feel he should have been bestowed.
He has played a million camp fires …
at least that is his figure. I am a folk singer labor activist train driver, and that brings me to this statement.
I feel a very “fierce urgency of now” of course that is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. I am hoping to get a solidarity statement from you. Let me explain. Some more. I love talking, as you can probably tell, I am not the educated seasoned writer. But if you have ever read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, you would understand the reference to the trees that I make. I feel that many of you Ents are waking. John Gage is one of them, his versions of your poems are amazing.
I am inspired, by the few words of yours that I have read, but it is in your cadence of voice that I feel shaken and moved. So far what I have heard of your voice from Youtube videos has been music to my Kentucky tuned ears. I know, now, why I should have listened to you earlier. I know you have been “working on a ship” that we are building for a while now. That is a U. Utah Phillips song. If I get to meet with you, I’ll sing it to you and further explain the conference.
So, therefore be it resolved that …
I think I may start reading Wendell Berry. I might as well … but, I promise not to put you on a pedestal. It is your sincere unapologetic honesty and willingness to be mindfully truthful that I am most inspired by. I can feel your passion. I am listening.
I can only hope to influence and resonate
with as many people as you have.
So far as I can tell, I can make heads or tails of this that and the other when it comes to the words and voice of a one Mr. Wendell Berry … thank you for your time. That is what we all seem to need more of …
And be it further resolved ….
“we all put our paints on the same way….”
John Paul Wright
Railroad Workers United
Bandanas and Beer
I read in the paper that my father’s bar was sold,
probably will be torn down for some new office
buildings. A bar named for a derby horse, a place
where I could find his truck, there, every working
day. I would ride my bike across George Rodgers
Clark Park, to listen to men, be men. My father
never sat at the bar, but stood at the end, like
the father sits at the head of the table.
I am dreaming of bandanas and beer, turtle soup
and hot red potatoes. A Grandmother with a pairing
knife, hot bacon grease and great Grandmother eating
the peels as we go. I am dreaming of what used to be
and what is now just some memory, that floods into
my mind with just one mention of a smidgen of it.
Yes, I knew Leo Burmester, but he is merely a thought,
he was the brother of my father’s best buddy, who had
a wife named George. Like the first name of the park
I grew up on. Walking dark nights in the tamed wilderness
of the city, growing up in the shadows of cherry trees
that stood while Louisville was young.
Those men, Joe, my father, Mike and Leo. My motorcycle
stars, bandanas and beer flood into my mind. The bar
on the far reaches of Germantown, Tim Tam’s will be
gone, like the bar Shacks, down the street from Check’s.
The bar where I drank my first Falls City, while men
cheered the game, I was only nine or so, the son of
a Wright, in a neighborhood built by families and
Dreams, like the thought that I am from that place. Like the
dream I am now following of a wife, who’s deep roots in
Henry County, are not strong enough to hold her spirit there.
I have been accused of dreaming, and yes, soon, if not already
most of what I see as me, is gone.
The German Club, the wooden chairs that we as children sat in,
waiting for our families to get done rehearsing some weird version
of heritage. My Grandmother’s friend Ruby, trying to hook her friend up,
yet, she still, even though He has passed, She is married to Lester. She
dances with him every New Year’s Eve, as we stood around
the bar in the basement. She twirled, maybe high on Old Grand Dad
and coke, a highball of thought, bonded like the whiskey.
So, yes, I knew him, and I know he is famous, like that man you
are archiving! The last time I met with the wise man of the river,
I sat in the front seat of his truck. We brought his sheep in from
the pasture. He told me that someone thinks he needs a new truck,
and I knew what was wrong with it. It wasn’t loaded up for a trip
down Dixie Dieway.
There wasn’t an orange bag of Mammoth Cave Twist on the dash.
Leo was not in the passenger seat as my father cuts me a piece
and I, throw up my guts, because I just wanted to be like my cowboy
elders, listening to WAMZ, stopping at the bait shop for a pickled
chicken dinner. The fellers that would trick me to duck as we passed
the tank, at Fort Knox and then get me to carry a heavy skillet down
the path to our weekend middle class cabin at Rough River and make
fun of me, because it was too much for a little guy to handle, like all
those memories that flood into my mind, run on and on with just a
mention of Leo’s last name.
My Grandmother Kaelin, and her chicken house. The place us kids
played every Sunday. She lived next door to my Grandmother who
lived next door to my Father. And every Sunday, we all sat and ate
ice cream and chocolate syrup. Bless us oh Lord, for these and thy gifts,
for which we are about to receive, just one neighborhood, under God,
indivisible, like the Red Bandanas and Beer and tight-knit families.