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!

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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


 

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,

Eagle.

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

demons.

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
answer.

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!
YOU WON!

Johnny

scan0007

Dear America,

America’s myths are
being exposed and run
through the ringer
of public discourse.
 
Dear America,
 
Keep trying to explain
your way out of this.
 
The more you talk,
the more you expose
your weakness.
 
You know you lied.
You snuck out of the house
got drunk and wrecked the car.
Date raped the country
and someone caught
you on video.
You know slavery was a
 
labor policy called
human trafficking.
 
A slave is a slave is a slave.
 
Like the workers who made your shirt.
Like the wage slave at a for
profit or non, who trades love for labor,
because they are part of the team.
Like the military protecting “Our”
 
oil interests in the region.
 
So, keep talking.
 
Your children are
getting the picture.
 
You can’t blame this
on commies and reds.
You cant blame this
on the media.
 
The issue is –
 
you lied about
what you did.
 
 
So, fess up.
America …
the more you try
to lie and make
excuses –
the more you
dig your own grave.
 
The founding fathers
were just men.
 
Like all other.
 
They were
just men, protecting
their own ass.
 
They wanted
power, land
and money.
 
They made selfies
called dollars.
 
They enslaved
women, children
nothing was
sacred unless
they owned it.
 
They prayed
to God that trust
wouldn’t find them
delusional.
 
Now, they
are being
crucified,
by their own
children.
Melted away
in a pot of
their own
creation.
John Paul

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The Table – A Reading at Surface Noise Records


The Table is a book about becoming a radical activist. It is also a book about what happens to a person, a folk musician, radical activist when they burn out. This book is about being the first musician to open the I.W.W endorsed musical tour, The Joe Hill Roadshow.

This book is about inspiration, meeting famous people, NYC, Christopher Street and … meeting with poet Wendell Berry several times at his farm in Kentucky. This book is about railroading, hobos and darkness. It is a wee bit about wildness and want.

This book is about me, growing up with a mother who was a radical activist. This book is also a little about being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, living with the scare of a relapse. This book is absolutely, punk rock and slightly a bit Grateful Dead, minus dreadlocks and rainbow family oiled hippies, but … add bikers.

I wrote this book because when I was in marriage counseling, the counselor suggested that we needed to know our story. I also wrote this book because a woman, who is also a radical activist, suggested that I should keep writing it. She was reading a few chapters that I had shared on social media and thought that I was being courageous talking openly about mental health issues.

It’s intended audience would certainly be for young radicals. It would also appeal to older folks who remember some of the names that I mention in the book. I hope the audience would be somewhat GENx. I am from that branded generation and think we might be stuck in the middle of something. I would also like to think that my involvement as the National Organizer with Railroad Workers United, my two year stint with Teamsters for A Democratic Movement, my folk music audience and my membership in the I.W.W. might add to the list of rad progressives who would buy this book.