I Will Explode

I Will Explode
by Carl Josehart

I will explode
one day
from suits too tight
to breathe
and shirts starched
to smooth out creative
wrinkles
and offices too ordered
to find the truth
among files filled with facts
but no useful information
about life
too short not to be lived
each day
precious
moments
and opportunities
slip away
routine
beckons
like that comfortable corner of the couch
that seems to
sap energy
and fits comfortably
no reason to rise
no call to action
save
the deep
cry
struggling to be heard
through TV ads
and delinquent bills

I will explode
one day
and splatter
creativity
on a regimented world
a barrage of color
will rain on black and white
nine-to-five


via Daily Prompt: Overworked

Freedom is Calling

 


Freedom Is Calling – Let Us Go Out To Greet It

God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, with great awe, signs and wonders. (Deuteronomy XXVI: 8)

For many of us the re-telling of the liberation of the Children of Israel from bondage echoes the stories of our struggle for liberation from persecution and hiding due to our sexual orientation. As with the telling of the Passover story, it is incumbent on each of us to consider ourselves as if each one of us personally was part of all of the struggles for liberation. To remember and honor those who gave their lives so that we might face a brighter future.

Like the Children of Israel before us we come out to freedom from bondage through a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, with great awe, signs and wonders.

With a mighty hand… We are discovering our voices and our political strength

With an outstretched arm… We are reaching out to embrace our families of origin and our families of choice

With great awe… We are reclaiming our religion and finding our spiritual home

With signs and wonders …  God set a rainbow in the sky as a sign of an eternal covenant that the waters would no more become a flood to destroy life.  We have adopted the rainbow as a symbol of our covenant to one another that hatred and bigotry will no longer be allowed to flood our world and destroy the lives of our people.

This year weak and vulnerable
Next year courageous and united in strength

This year afraid and alone
Next year comforted by the warmth of community

This year in darkness and hiding
Next year in freedom and light

This year in searching for meaning and direction
Next year leading our way toward a dream of acceptance, peace, hope and healing

-Carl Josehart
Passover, 1998


 

The “Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed!” Procession of the Emperor

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all. (Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes)


 Breaking the Fourth Wall

 In theater the imaginary fourth wall serves to separate the world of the fictional characters on stage from the world of reality where the audience lives.

In the theater, “breaking the fourth wall” means having a character become aware of his/her own fictional nature and in so doing the audience becomes aware that they had temporarily suspended disbelief and been temporarily experiencing a fictional world “as if” it were real.

Maintaining the fourth wall requires the active collaboration of the actors and the audience to maintain its fragile existence. In these circumstances there is rarely any danger of harm – the actors and audience rarely lose touch to the point of completely forgetting the difference between what is real and imagined and participate temporarily for entertainment’s sake.

When a similar process happens outside of the theater, in “real life”, the process is sometimes referred to as folie à deux – a shared delusion. It can happen when an individual so believes something to be true that those close to him/her begin to believe it as well. The “secondary victim” is more vulnerable when s/he has limited contact with the outside world or relatively few healthy outside relationships where s/he may be exposed to information that would contradict, challenge or invalidate the veracity of the delusional idea(s). The “secondary victim” is also more likely to be in a passive or subservient status with respect to the person with the primary delusion.

In “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christen Andersen, a couple of swindlers pretending to be weavers make a special suit for the emperor. They tell the emperor and his followers that the clothes are invisible to people who are too stupid for their jobs. None of his advisors or subjects can see the clothing, but no one wanted to admit this fact because they do not want to be identified as foolish.

When you read this story, who do you aspire to be?


I Believe

What happened – really happened
What happened – really happened
What happened – really happened
I believe with perfect faith
That I will have the strength to believe that
What happened – really happened

– Carmi, Anatomy of a War, 1977


“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

— George Orwell, “1984”


“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.”

― Czesław Miłosz


 

Bright Colors

via Daily Prompt: Yellow

Bright Colors
by Carl Josehart

bright colors
almost always are reserved
for the aged
or the insane
ostensibly
to help cheer their countenance

I suspect
it is more like those
orange flags that signal
danger
near construction sites
or on wide loads of
cargo
precariously balanced
on open air flat bed trucks
barreling down the highway
advising caution
keeping a safe distance
warning not to follow

her broad rimmed
straw hat
drawstring under chin
brightly colored hummingbird
caught in flight
pinned to the straw dome
atop her head
seemed to make her look
all the more strange as did
her long gray braid
falling behind her head
down her back

eerily silent
she sat beside me
at times too quiet
at times
agitated motion
with no discernible aim or
goal

asking
alternately
agitatedly
for a can of coke
a closed can of apple juice
not opened
two bags of peanuts
yet refused lunch

would not bring her chair
to the upright position
not seeming to understand
even when the stewardess
pushed the back of the chair
pointing urgently
at the button on the armrest

frustrated
the stewardess
gave up
this life
seemingly not worth saving
should the landing go awry

bright colors
almost always are reserved
for the aged or the
insane

I Choose Words

I Choose Words

by Carl Josehart

A few days ago while checking the news online I saw CNN run the headline “Alt-right leader questions if Jews are people.” Later I watched a clip of Richard Spencer shouting, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” while saluting more than 200 attendees gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute; a group that describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”

As I started to take in what was happening I found myself gripped with nausea while my chest constricted to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. These images touched a dark place deep within me – a place created by growing up hearing the stories of Holocaust survivors, watching movies taken by the Nazis to document with pride what they had done and being taught to, “Never Forget” and to keep my passport close at hand at all times.

Since the election I have found myself often feeling vulnerable and afraid. Every day it seems there are more and more examples of violence and intimidation against Muslims, Jews, lgbtq and people of color being perpetrated in the name of patriotism and national pride. But these recent events brought the anxiety and fear to a new level. It triggered a primal fear so intense that I began considering buying a gun for protection.

Living in Texas having access to a gun purchase would be relatively easy and I have many friends who are responsible gun owners so in my new state of mind it seemed within the realm of possibility. As I started to think about it seriously, I began to think about what type of gun I would want. I soon realized that I didn’t know anything about guns and that I would have to start researching what would be the best type for me. Not knowing how to fire a gun, I realized I would need to take lessons to learn how to safely handle a gun. I would need to invest time in cleaning it and going to the range for practice. Then I started to think about where I would keep it so that it would be near enough to be of use in an emergency but stowed safely away so that no one could be inured accidentally. An internet search for, “safest gun” led to an interesting mix of articles from the NRA about the virtues of owning a gun for personal protection and a series of articles about stun guns and tasers – what the difference was – and the relative values and downsides of each. My internet search continued with inquiries about gun safes for the home and secure compartments for my car.

Then I started to begin to imagine various violent and threatening scenarios I could find myself in and how I would react – would I fire my gun, would I shoot to kill and how would cope with the emotional aftermath. Under what circumstances would I consider shooing in self-defense to be a reasonable and ethical choice?

From there I started to think about how much time and energy this potential purchase was beginning to take up in my life and realized that the thoughts of owning this powerful weapon weren’t making me feel safer – in fact, quite the opposite, I was feeling more anxious.

Taking a few deep breaths to calm myself down I settled into a comfortable seated position for a few minutes of calming meditation. Gently shrugging my shoulders to release some of the tension my gaze landed on my college diplomas – a Bachelors degree in psychology and a Masters Degree in Social Work and suddenly I realized that I had made my choice long ago – words would be my weapons.

So, I choose to arm myself with the skill to communicate, I choose to invest in finding a writing coach, I choose to start a blog to foster dialogue, I choose to seek out and amplify the voices of those who are not being heard and for those that are vulnerable, I choose to invest my money in organizations that advance the causes I care about – I choose words.


If you appreciated this post, you may also want to read, I Held Death

Reaction to the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando

This letter was originally published on June 18, 20016 but seems just as relevant today as it was then.

An Open Letter to My Friends and Family

June 18, 2016

Since that horrible morning on June 12th when we all woke up to a changed world I have been hearing from friends and family wanting to know if I am OK. Well the answer is “yes” and “no”.

“Yes” – I am fortunate that I have the social, economic and emotional resources that I will find a way to manage though my feelings of grief, anger and helplessness. I was not in physical proximity to Orlando so I was never in any immediate physical jeopardy. I am also grateful that no one I personally knew was killed or injured. So yes, in some ways I am OK.

“NO” – I am not OK and don’t know when and if I ever will be again. After struggling to be accepted by society, my religious faith, facing employment discrimination, fighting for the right to marry my husband legally and have it be recognized across the country I love and call home – after my community struggled to learn to live with HIV and AIDS and the devastation it caused while saying goodbye to so many loved ones – after all that, I thought we had turned a corner – and now this. So no, in a very fundamental way, I am not OK and am not sure I will ever be again.

So if you love me and care about me here is what I need you to do:

  • Use your voice – speak up against hate speech whenever and wherever it happens – no matter who it is directed to
  • Use your influence – at work, at your church, synagogue, mosque or in social clubs you belong to make sure that you use your influence to advocate for change
  • Use your mind – be open to new ideas and experience, reach out to someone who is different from you and learn what it is like to experience the world through their eyes
  • Use your resources – to support organizations that foster an open, safe and caring community.
  • Use your vote – to support candidates that stand up for inclusion, diversity, equal rights and shun hate speech.
  • Use your hands – to reach out and lift up those in need of assistance and comfort those in need of healing
  • Use your network – to share this message with anyone that will listen and perhaps some that won’t in the hope that you will help plant the seeds of change that may someday blossom into greater understanding and acceptance.Thank you for your thoughts and prayers but what I need even more than that is your actions.

With great affection,

Carl


You might also appreciate Legacy,  Out, Out Damn Spot