I would be there now

For Taryn:

I would be there now
‘Well I could sell my soul for just a little light’ -Ray Charles

I would be there now
down as a witness
to the sweat on sweat

In the midnight heat

Of red batons
when the fire comes down
brim to barrel

Cannon to choir

In the joy and anarchy conjoined
I would be there now
relearning that land I left

Its signal fires
that light the night
which watchers watch from space

High above it all;
what the fretful see as debacle
but the participants see as grace

I would be there now.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

What I was taught by a little girl in Falcon Heights

For that so brave little girl who comforted her mother in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. She has changed my life:

What I was taught by a little girl in Falcon Heights  

If what actually distinguishes each of us today
is not our personal merit, achievement
or even our education;
is not the languages that we speak
but the mark,
the very design of our birth

That is,
what purportedly we are
to others
and not what we believe
we have made of ourselves

That is,
our color and not our collar
our gender not our retainer
or even our gender and our color
in a one-two killer crossover

A set of right souls but in the wrong bodies

Then how are any of us any more sure
than those little children in Clarendon County
or Harlem
who held Dr. Kenneth Clark’s dolls
and identified with the other
rather than what they were

How many of us might like to be likened to
or following in train of
a four year old girl who,
with a Glock pointed at her
was capable to reassure her mother
Mother, it will be alright

What is merit if not that-
What is making if not holding-

Jeremy Nathan Marks

“Between the World and Me”

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me is essential reading to understand not only modern American culture but it is a necessary addition, a corrective really, to how American history has been taught, continues to be taught in certain circles, and a response to how it is imagined now.  But the book is about so much more and is deeply personal. It opens a window into how African American communities have been treated by the police, by federal, state and local government and what the ramifications have been in black lives and upon black bodies. It is an eloquent book that is hauntingly beautiful and a vital call for people to wake up and face the American past and present.

This is Coates talking about his book and his work on his award-winning article “The Case for Reparations” at the Chicago Humanities Festival last October.

The truth is where the bodies go

For our moment:

The truth is where the bodies go
“With joy you shall draw water from the springs of salvation” –Isaiah (12, 3)

No matter what you think you may know about the way
life is supposed to go; about how the world is supposed to be;
no matter how many promises ingenuity offers for a better world,
for rationality

Just watch the water, how it moves

When it comes in a flash flood down
from the mountain and a too high place

Where white beards with tablets seek grace
and condors circle above the people

Forming their hoops of thunder
weaving woven robes of rain

By their tongues
they taste all that moves
forking over the plain

Those marching bodies that intone
Mayim Mayim Besason
Wichita Do Ya
Tell old Pharaoh

Until a child watching need not be told
that the truth is where the bodies go

And how they get there.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

From the David Graeber files . . . .

David Grabber is an anthropologist and anarchist who teaches at the London School of Economics. He has become well know for such books as Debt: The First 5,000 Years and The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy among others.

“If history shows anything, it is that there’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt—above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong.” –Debt: the First 5,000 Years 

From the Adam Smith files. . . .

“In raising the price of commodities the rise of wages operates in the same manner as simple interest does in the accumulation of debt. The rise of profit operates like compound interest. Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.” -Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter IX, page 201 (Penguin English Library edition)