a world premiere.
While issue #4, Oh Baby! rests in the nurturing womb of its final edit, we’re offering you, dear readers and other generous well-wishers, a valuable opportunity to get all three dirtcakes issues for just $25. Read about it on the “Special Offer” link here.
Prayer cards in Tokyo
I offer fragments and a world premiere as gifts too.
Last September, on the UN International Day of Peace, I attended the Big Orange Book Festival in Orange, CA, to represent dirtcakes. To celebrate our wide range of voices – our first three issues feature voices from 17 countries – and in the spirit of our mission statement to “illuminate a shared global humanity,” I created and performed a cento, a mash-up of prose and poetry lines taken from the first three issues. It includes one line from each contributor, in 12 stanzas, or steps as I prefer to call them. 12 steps will get you over anything, right?
As far as I know, this is a world premiere, not only of the first dirtcakes mash-up, but also of the newly hatched form of Contributor Voices Chorus cento.
Over the next few weeks I’ll post one or two sections at a time.
Your Reading Companion:
- Lines in italics are from contributors.
- Words in brackets within the italicized lines are issue titles, inserted sporadically to create a rhythmic downbeat, backtalk.
- Source notes at the end include the issue title, the page number where the line is found, and the author’s last name. Hyperlinks to authors’ websites are provided where available. (I didn’t read these source notes aloud. They’re just for you.)
cento erasure mashup deconstruction reconstruction chorus with moment of silence please breathe
This is a poem I stood and fought -
wild [hunger] black [hunger] raspberries
I was alone, a little drunk and writerly, typing out Stubborness
(watch for studded belts and mohawks)
It isn’t that hard to find a human who is starving
I dreamed that you were reading my palm
I carried my child for 46 years
apron stained with red spaghetti sauce
I offer a child a perfect peach
fish may rest in graves
soft as sweetcakes after all the milky birds have flown
1.Girls Will Be Women, 49. Chen
2.The Hunger Issue, 18. Romkema
3. School Me, 28. Sims
4. Girls Will Be Women, 47. Janov
5. The Hunger Issue, 9. Keefe
6. Girls Will Be Women, 83. Chalar
7. Girls Will Be Women, 39. Henney
8. Girls Will Be Women, 46. Beck
9. The Hunger Issue, 13. Starkey
10.Girls Will Be Women, 20. Chen
11. Girls Will Be Women, 21. Dotson
For more good reading, remember to take advantage of our special offer.
Though sprawling and contradictory, the 15-page, single-spaced letter from fugitive and former police officer Christopher Dorner returns repeatedly to a culture of cover-up, abuse of authority, and sadism within the LAPD.
It should be easy to dismiss the document as a lunatic’s last ramblings. The desperate vestiges of sanity sputtered out before a psychopath’s civilian and cop-killing rampage.
But the early morning hail of bullets by LAPD officers on two women delivering newspapers in an otherwise, understandably peaceful neighborhood should cast some doubt on the seemingly extreme elements in Dorner’s message, though not excuse his alleged actions.
While mainstream news media outlets feed a morbid fascination with the vigilante-type figure, shouldn’t we also focus with as much intensity on the inexcusable “accident” that saw scores of bullets shot at the two women trapped in the truck?
In the picture for the Los Angeles Times, there are 46 visible bullet holes and casings. Five more were lodged in the entryway of a resident. Blessedly, the women survived—Carranza with mere scratches from the blasted glass, but her mother with two bullets in her back.
There was no warning. No signal to stop and disarm, according to a statement for Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71. Just the sudden wall of bullets delivered by at least seven officers.
You can read it as comic embarrassment or divine intervention that the two women survived, but the entire scenario must give rise to at least one among a set of questions: What could have been the intention of the officers?
A few streets and moments away, different officers rammed into a truck driven by surfer David Purdue and again shot up the vehicle. Again, luckily, the innocent driver was not fatally wounded.
Both parties were driving trucks of a different model and color than the suspected Dorner’s. Neither received instructions to stop or alter course.
One defense brought forward for police officers right now is that, as a specified target of Dorner, they feel heightened tension. It’s difficult to imagine a more stressful occupation than police officer where you daily lay your life on the line. But isn’t that specific to the job description? In the end, what makes Dorner so much more dangerous than any armed assailant escaping down an alleyway that officers feel justified in trying to kill him by surprise?
The deaths attributed to Dorner—of Monica Quan, 28, the daughter of the officer appointed at his dismissal hearing, and Keith Lawrence, 27, her fiance, and an officer, 34, in Riverside – are tragic and indefensible. But also tragic and indefensible is that so many of Dorner’s allegations echo with familiarity.
He laments that the days of Rodney King and Rampart never went away, depicts ugly, rampant racism—conventional, intra-ethic, and “reverse” racism—against civilians and fellow officers alike, and writes of officers whose abiding pride is violence.
Without corroborating action like that taken by LAPD officers February 9, the diatribe by Dorner might come off as quickly dismissible.
Police officers, supposedly leaders and protectors of the community, who abide by a bankrupt, bullying set of standards are not leaders nor protectors of anyone, but dangers to the community. Their chosen professions are not simple, enviable, or often appreciated, but a badge ought not to be sought as a license for lawlessness.
Committed to using whatever talents they have “to help create a world free of breast cancer and full of rad poetry,” Deanne Brown and Raundi Moore-Kondo have published The Mammary Chronicles: The Hills are Alive, a bodacious little book of poetry, prose and art all about breasts.
This reflection by poet and friend Raundi Moore-Kondo was originally slated for December, the weekend following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, to be exact. As we all faced that, it seemed perverse to place this post–of celebration on the one hand, but sorrow and healing on the other. At the time, I thought it was glib and inappropriate. But I regret withholding it, as both the women in the article are mothers–I know their children–and, as what they are doing, I believe, is central to the ending the proliferation of violence in this overly-aggressive culture. The healthy understanding of humanness–our bodies, and our vulnerable, incomparable minds–and the healthy expression of physical and mental states is essential to avoiding the explosion of repressed psychological pain expressed in such events as at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. I fear the more we let ourselves slip into such repression, the more we pave the path of violence. — JJW
It’s hard to say when The Mammary Chronicles was first conceived. Some believe it was in utero when future blogger Deanne Brown and I retained the tails of
our X chromosomes and began developing the stuff it takes to bear breasts. Or perhaps it was when, unbeknownst to each other, we were simultaneously buying our first training bras.
It might have been thirty years later when we first met and formed a rock band. It just as likely could have been in November of 2010 when Deanne was
diagnosed with breast cancer, or a month later when I wrote The Hills Are Alive as an ode to breasts and Deanne before she had her mastectomy.
It is impossible to say for certain, but two years ago when I sat at Deanne’s bedside watching her recover from her first chemotherapy treatment, I wondered how she would ever get past this. Having lost my own mother to cancer, I was completely terrified and could not understand what purpose something so horrific could possibly serve. It was going to be one hell of a battle, and nothing would ever be the same again—but I knew if anyone could prevail it would be Deanne “The Yes Mom” Brown.
Deanne is now two years cancer free and just completed the 3-day, 60-mile walk for Susan G. Komen. To raise funds for the walk and public awareness, we published and starting touring for The Mammary Chronicles.
January 19tth- Saturday Afternoon Poetry, 3-5pm Hosted by Don “The King of Poetry” Kingfisher
February 4th - Club House 7, Laguna Woods 6-9pm
February 23rd - Friends Café, 8pm - 425 S. Myrtle, Monrovia - Hosted by MOMS WRITE featuring Laura Henneforth, Angela Moore, Jennifer Morford
Acoustic Set by MOTHER FUNCTION - www.motherfunctiontheban.wix.com/motherfunction
Dedicated to the celebration and preservation of breasts, the women who have survived them, and in honor of those who haven’t. With five tour stops under our bras, paintings have been created, cakes have been baked and poems have been written. Nearly everyone we meet has a story about breast cancer they are desperate to share. The Mammary Chronicles will continue to exist to provide those who need it a place to express themselves with the depth and breadth that only a piece of art can convey.
Even though we wish we had never heard of the word cancer, we both agree that we have grown exponentially from the experience. We are not the same women we were two years ago. Writing, creating and performing together has become part of the healing process and the organic icing on the macrobiotic cake.
Our mission is to get others talking, writing, creating and healing. This tour wouldn’t have been possible when Deanne and I were buying our training bras because back then the term “breast” was considered a “bad word.” Thanks to brave women like Betty Ford and Susan G. Komen, you can say “breast” just about anywhere you please.
Today you can sing about them, at the top of your lungs, in the middle of a Barnes & Noble without being asked to leave. Newscasters can casually joke about them on the 5 o’clock news and pastors can openly pray for them on Sunday morning. And thank God because if you want to solve a problem you have to be able to talk openly about it. Then if you can somehow rise up and turn your biggest problem into something beautiful and larger than yourself, it can make the pain and loss almost seem worthwhile. Ladies and gentlemen, that is when the real healing begins.
We all hope to see a cure for this disease one day, but instead of waiting around Deanne and I advise that we all strive to create our own unique cocktail for a cure. We believe that the healing powers of art, music, and love must never be underestimated and should be an essential part of everyone’s long-term treatment plan.
An Excerpt from “The Hills are Alive”:
There are hills.
And then, there are HILLS.
Sometimes, it’s a benign bump.
Other times, it’s a rocky hot mountain climb,
but there is always an exquisite pink climax,
and a lofty downside.
Part joy and part grief,
opposite and attractive,
a perpetual random act of kindness
to the oglers, the fashion designers,
and the really tight huggers.
The mere sight of one
has been scientifically proven
to lengthen a man’s life.
Yet, somewhere between bumblebee sting
and asymmetrical standing ovation,
it stopped being okay to go topless,
in a wading pool,
in my own backyard.
The larger they grew,
the more infrequent and indecent
their exposures became.
I quickly learned that after giving up 2nd base,
the focus would always be home plate.
Just another embarrassing stain,
my mother said wouldn’t
come out in the delicate-cycle.
Contact Raundi and Deanne at http://www.theloveofwords.com and facebook.com/theloveofwords.
What kind of devil’s bargain have we struck if we live in a world of luxury and lavish satisfaction — but do so under waves of anxiety, swept up in constant competition, drones to lifestyles that generate an abiding isolation?
What good is our spontaneous paradise if we live pre-programmed by stereotypes, prescribed gender roles, archaic cultural norms rooted in chauvinism, barbarism?
How can we act freely if our social script is a doggerel of self-centered consumer messages, pretend political platitudes, a vacuum of sympathies, rampant mistranslations of what-can-you-name — in short, dominated by a dialogue of cliché consciousness?
This time-sensitive venture easily weaves cotton fibers with social concerns. Each week, Sevenly reveals a new, visually bold look that benefits an organization or cause of compassion. Fitted girlie tees, V-necks, old school shirts, and hoodies all don the design for just a week—hence the company name.
New apparel goes up Monday morning, and at the end of the week the proceeds are forwarded on.
Charities that have benefits from Sevenly’s generosity include Destiny Rescue, Laura’s House, and Autism Speaks. At a little more than 1 year old, the company, formed in June 2011, has generated nearly $1.5 million for charities to date.
Sevenly should definitely be an added stop on the shopping list. Let it blend the modern holiday season’s fibers, instead of letting them fray more in another year of culture tug-o-war.