11 August 2011

VERSE / Felix Shafer : hey, marilyn

hey, marilyn

From august
through Black august
the drum beat us
all black and blue
and back again
where we live
inside shadows
with you


Here on the sad
fuming planet
comes a laughing ghost
beloved fugitive
our first anniversary
spun from these burning strands
our sensitive memory
of the afterlife without you
oh marilyn
a toast to your year
a salute to our tears
for the shadow of the panthers
cetewayo, shasha
smitty, dc and g (eronimo)*
now passing by


Here in my heart
a branch of middle summer
intermingles the past
with life's juggly light
flowing like fire
over the river wide
your red kite
tangled, unescaped
high among
the maple trees

We are your family
the red blood cells
in & out of prison cells
the red resistance cells
grouped by transience
side by side
great misfortune
in the lonely outside


Last night I dreamed
of walking down storied halls
a familiar house
after the typhoon
people known by their resemblances
returned, some drained of smiles
some doing yoga
some replacing mislayed objects
overcome in bedrooms
A daring girl led me closer to the last window
beyond where I can see
There where the backyard
ought to be
was the outdoor visiting patio
of FCI Dublin


We come to recollect your absence
with ourselves
to feel your palm
resting on each hand
To receive your
loving encouragment
and your example:
That to live we must risk ourselves
for the uncertain future
with dignity


Marilyn because
you were charming
and unb0wed
because you had
miles of style and acres of smiles
because you were a generous
citizen of earth
sister and god mother
I am throwing open the door
to release the bars
to forget the cancer and the tears
so that I can see
your shining face


When it's quiet
when i lay deep down to sleep
i whisper kindness and
when I rise up
i sing of how
you wanted us to be happy and strong
when we were with you

Now a year after you have gone
I will We will

felix shafer 8.3.11

* Michael Cetewayo Tabor, Henry ShaSha Brown, Marc Smitty Smith, Don Cox and geronimo ji Jaga pratt are freedom fighters associated with the Black Panther Party & some with the Black Liberation Army who passed in the year since Marilyn died

Marilyn Buck -- political prisoner, acclaimed poet, former Austinite, and former original Ragstaffer -- was paroled last August after spending 30 years in federal prisons. But, after only 20 days of freedom, on August 3, 2010, Marilyn died of a virulent cancer.

Felix Shafer became an anti-imperialist/human rights activist while in high school during the late 1960's and has worked around prisons and political prisoners for over 30 years. He is a psychotherapist in San Francisco and can be reached at felixir999@gmail.com. Read Felix Shafer's three-part
Rag Blog series, "Mourning for Marilyn Buck."

Why We Sing

By Mario Benedetti

If every hour comes with its death

if time is a den of thieves

the wind is no longer a good

and life is nothing more than a moving target
you might ask, why do we sing?
if our bravos are left without support

our homeland dies from sorrow

and the heart of man is smashed to pieces

even before the shame explodes
you might ask, why do we sing?

if we’re as far away as the horizon

and if over there were left the trees and the sky

if every night is always some sort of absence

and if every waking is a missed encounter
you might ask, why do we sing?
We sing because the river is calling

and when the river calls, the river calls

we sing because cruelty has no name

and destiny does have a name

we sing because the child and because all

and because someday and because the people

we sing because the survivors

and our dead want us to sing
we sing because to shout is not enough

and the crying and the cursing is not enough

we sing because we believe in people

and because we will defeat failure
we sing because the sun recognizes us

and because the fields smell of spring

and because in this stalk in that fruit

every question has its answer
we sing because it rains over the furrows

and we are the militants of life

and because we neither want nor can

allow the song to be turned to ashes.

Mario Benedetti (Sept. 14, 1920 - May 17, 2009) a Uruguayan poet, journalist, and novelist, was considered one of Latin America's most significant authors. Active in radical movements, he went into exile in 1973 when the military, backed by the U.S. CIA, took power. For 10 years, Benedetti lived in Argentina, Peru, Cuba, and post-Franco Spain. Mario Benedetti returned to Uruguay in 1983, yet lived for long periods in Madrid, Spain. Exile marked his life profoundly and one of his most important works is El Desexilio y Otras Conjeturas (Dis-exile And Other Conjectures, 1984). Marilyn Buck, who wrote about the internal exile of imprisonment, considered Mario Benedetti one of her favorite writers.

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