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Three winged monsters, females serpent haired, on end
Each ominous wing flap stark calling your attention,
Most rhythmic, purposeful, with ‘look at me’ command;
Ah, single glance would mean lifelong detention.
Eyes locked in strong embrace that would kindle no passion bright
Straight glances meeting that trigger neither love nor lust,
Instant sending trick’ry, he’d be stone at first sight,
Marbled in time, forever cold, not even crushed to dust.
Strategic thought to his rescue, a brain wave skilled
And lo ! he holds the captive in his shield array.
Mirrored in there, their eyes meet and Medusa wills
Him to turn and become her, those three Gorgons’, prey,
But eye to eye, he classily aims and at once her kills.
Armed with Perseus-like strategy, beware of first sight.
Medusa’s gone, immortals two remain out there to bite.
The Man and Woman dressed in ornate leather attire covered with eagle, hawk, turkey, chicken, ostrich, emu, peacock and goose feathers rattled their painted rattles covered with Multi-cultural Sacred Symbols as they danced and chanted around the blazing fire pit.
Suddenly they jumped into a standing position pushing their arms straight out in front of them holding their hands up shouting, “Stop !”
Then they both held their arms straight out to their sides creating a small “t” Cross shape shouting, “Think !”
Lastly, they ended their previous chanting and dancing Ritual by spreading their legs outward and their arms up and outward into a double “V” shape, shouting, “Vote !”
They repeated the Stop, Think, Vote Ritual body symbols’ moves and shouts two more times, before once again shaking their rattles, while slowly lowering them toward their chests, and crossing them to form a “t” Cross shape in the center of their bodies. Bowing their heads they both said “Amen”.
Sam opened one of his eyes and peeped a glance at his wife Peggy Joy, waiting for her next cue.
Peggy Joy opened her eyes and smiled at Sam.
“Well ?” Sam asked expectantly.
“You did fine, Sam,” Peggy Joy said happily. “You did a good job memorizing the words to the Prayer Ritual. And your dancin’ and rattlin’ were mighty fine as well.”
Sam beamed. “All I did was keep an eye and an ear on you, Hon, and follow your lead. And I have to admit, Peggy Joy, you had some mighty fine moves yourself durin’ those dancin’ and rattle shakin’ moves of yours.”
Peggy Joy frowned and grinned simultaneously. “Sam, we are creating Sacred Space here, sir. You need to keep your mind on the Lord’s work we’re attempting to do here, please.”
“I apologize, Honey. It’s just that this multi-cultural…..er, what did you call it again ?”
“We’re doin’ an Anti-Bad-Ju-Ju Voting Ritual, Sam,” Peggy Joy said plainly.
“Right, then. This Anti-Bad-Ju-Ju-Voting Ritual usin’ all of these different Religions words for God, and keepin’ all of the Religions of the World, and their People in our Hearts while we’re chantin’ and dancin’ and rattlin’ around that dang hot bonfire, when I can’t even hold all of ’em in my Mind, is a little confusin’ at times,” Sam admitted with a big grin.
“Well, I know that we’re doin’ this on short notice, Sam, because of the dire need for it right now durin’ Early Votin’ and the November 6th Votin’ Day that’s right on our doorsteps and all, but I think we’re doin’ the best job of it that we can. And Lord knows, SomeBody has got to do it. So, it may as well be us.”
“If you say so, Hon,” Sam rumbled. “But if Pastor Strict gets wind of what we’ve been up to he’ll flip the Communion wafers and grape juice.”
“Why do think I suggested that we do this Ritual in the back pasture, Sam ? Peggy Joy asked rhetorically.
“Privacy. I do not want to have tongues waggin’, when we’re just tryin’ to cover all of the bases for this most important and crucial of Votin’ Times.”
“Well, if anybody does catch us dancin’ and rattlin’ around together around our fire pit shoutin’ strange God words and Prayin’, we’ll just say it’s rehearsal for some Halloween gig we’re plannin‘”
“Ha ! That’s a fine idea, Sam !” Peggy Joy laughed.
“Peg-leg, you don’t think God is gonna’ think this is blasphemy somehow ?” Sam asked frankly.
“No, Sam, I do not or I wouldn’t be doin’ it or have asked you to join me in doin’ it. I was raised knowin’ that God made Everything and EveryBody” Peggy Joy explained.
“In fact, I have sort of always seen Religions as the different Faces – the different parts or personalities of God, Almighty. And some folks even think that God is a female or a male and female, both.”
“You don’t say,” Sam said.
“Anyways, if we’re made in His image, then He’s got to be just as Complicated as all of the rest of us Human Bein’s are. And He probably has Moods just like we do, too. Just like the Skies up above and Oceans of the Earth do. Sunny today. Stormy tomorrow, and back to Sunny again. It’s all Physics, Sam.”
“What in the World does Physics have to do with any of this ?” Sam asked challengingly.
“Everything is about Physics, Sam. Everything,” Peggy Joy sighed.
“Peggy Joy, you read too much,” Sam said teasingly.
“No such-a-thing, Sam ! We can never know too much, Hon.” Peggy Joy said flatly.
“Alright, alright, I’ll give you that one. You ready to do this Anti-Bad-Ju-Ju-Votin’ Ritual thing for the third and last time ?” Sam asked.
“I guess we’d better. We still have to feed the livestock and the dogs, and get them all settled in, before I can rummage the kids and us up some tasty leftovers for dinner.” Peggy Joy said.
“Did you say tasty ?” Sam laughed.
“My leftovers are always tasty, mister. You can always go to bed without your supper if you complain too much about my tasty leftovers,” Peggy Joy retorted lightly.
Sam laughed outright, and gave Peggy Joy hug. “Alright, alright, You win. Tasty leftovers, it is.”
“Peggy Joy, I gotta’ admit that your little Anti-Bad-Ju-Ju-Votin’ Ritual is a pretty thoughtful thing for you to have created, and wanted to share with me. I’m honored,” Sam said seriously.
“And those Cheerleader moves you taught me come in real handy, Hon. I like the Stop, Think and Vote part the best. I can really get into makin’ those bold moves you put with the words.”
“Well, some folks seem to think of Football as a Religion. And King David danced and Praised God in the streets in his baggy underwear. So, I figure that I can add a few little Cheerleadin’ moves I used in high school fully clothed in leather and feathers and get by with it,” Peggy Joy replied.
“Besides, Sam, we are doin’ this Votin’ Ritual to get Everybody tuned into Votin’ to save our wonderful Nation from the dark spirits and demons of Hatred and Fear that our president continues to summon and conjure up.”
“We’re all sufferin’ a National Trauma. All of these Precious Souls bein’ harassed, harried, assaulted and murdered by folks filled with Dis-appointments, Hatreds and Fears of all kinds. Bombs bein’ sent through the mail to some of our finest Public Servants and former Presidents. Folks bein’ slaughtered in their beautiful Temple by some White Supremacist who Hates and Fears Jews and the Refugees and Immigrants they are tryin’ to help and support.”
“We’re really livin’ in some very dangerous times for OurSelves, Our Children and our Precious Democracy, Sam ! We have to combat all of this Bad Ju-Ju poisonin’ that’s chokin’ and drainin’ the Life’s Blood of Democracy right out of our Great Nation !”
“We have to summon Our Nation’s Spirit’s of Light, Love, Peace and Hope. We have to, Sam for our kids – for EveryBody’s kids and OurSelves, for Mercy’s sake. SomeBody has to !”
“Alright, Sam, are you ready ?” Peggy Joy asked.
“Ready as I’ll ever be, Peg-leg.”
“You wanna’ dance and rattle clock-wise this time, and I’ll take the counter clock-wise route ? Peggy Joy asked.
“Sure,” Sam said agreeably. “A little change of scenery sounds interestin’.”
“Alrighty then, let’s get ready to shake, rattle and roll out the Voting Spirits,” Peggy Joy said enthusiastically.
The Couple began to dance, rattle and chant around the blazing bonfire once again circling the flames in opposite directions. Sam kept his eyes and ears on every cue Peggy Joy gave him as they Prayed.
“Ah-Yo ! Ah-Mahn ! Ah-ishnu ! Ah-uddha ! Ah-amadan ! Ah-ammed ! Ah-Weh ! Ah-ha ! Ah-choo ! God Almighty, hear your Supplicates. We Supplicate OurSelves before You. We beg You to Save and Protect Your Peoples from this Bad-Ju-Ju – this darkest part of Humanity that has been called forth from the deepest, vilest and most corruptive bowels of our struggling United States !
“We beseech You. We Bow down before you, and beg for Tender Mercies, for Grace and Wisdom, for Empathy and Understanding, for Calm and Thoughtful Sanity to return !”
“Your People need Good and Affordable Healthcare, Lord ! We need to Fix to crumbling Infrastructure ! Your People need Good and Non-Profiteering Public Schools for every Child, Lord ! Our Nation needs as many well educated, analytically and critically Thinking Voters as she can get ! Ah- ha ! Ah-choo !
“Yes, God Almighty ! Our needs are many ! Help your peoples Vote for Leaders of Courage, Ethics, Morals, and Sound Intellect and Emotional Intelligence who will Serve Her Peoples well. Who will strive to Unite and Heal and Tend to and Mend her wounds, and support Her Democratic Strengths ! Ah-ha ! Ah-Choo !”
Then Sam and Peggy Joy stood side by side and ended their Anti-Bad-Ju-Ju-Voting-Ritual by repeating the Stop, Think and Vote Body Symbol moves and shouts three times. “Amen !”
Winded and dripping with sweat the Two finely leathered and feathered Supplicants leaned over and placed their hands on their knees, while still holding onto their motionless rattles.
“Sam looked up and turned to Peggy Joy. “Why did you add those two new words for God at the end this time, Hon ? What religion do Ah-ha and Ah-choo belong to ?”
“Why no Religion at all, Sam. I just happen to be allergic to Goose Feathers.”
The early black
Is still unstirred
By yawning morning.
The ceiling fills
With predatory thoughts,
Like quiet children
Come to play
Their silent games,
Poking sticks into
Of forgotten memories;
Memories like frightened mice
That scurry off in panic.
The sadly moaning bell
Eighty years ago on a lonely buoy
Shrugging its shoulders
In a choppy sea.
A special purple
Strangely found on both
An apron and a stub of clay
The round eyed stare
Frozen to my mother’s face
As cancer pain
Prodded her to certain death.
A pet white rat curled in snooze
On my pillow by my cheek.
The falling crescent moon
Smiles in my window
Like my long gone mother
Back to the peace of sleep.
The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October 2018, a day designated by the United Nations as the Day of Nonviolence, and especially the wide reaction to that assassination may result in a change of Saudi Arabia’s policy in the Yemen war. The assassination and the reaction may have weakened the power of the Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salmane, the chief promoter of the Saudi war in Yemen. Jamal Khashaggi was opposed to the war in Yemen as not serving Saudi Arabia’s interests. While there are probably a number of reasons that Khashaggi was put on a “hit” list, opposition to the war and its U.S. support may have been an important reason.
The situation in Yemen is tragic in its humanitarian aspects but is somewhat more fluid due to the second assassination.
The assassination on December 4, 2017 of former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has potentially opened a new chapter in the ongoing struggle for power in Yemen. There might be a possibility that with a major actor pushed off the stage, the lesser actors might accept the good offices of the United Nations (UN) mediator I and form an inclusive central government. There is also a real possibility that the armed conflict becomes even more protracted as factions see increased opportunities to advance their interests.
The Saudi Arabian leadership had expected a quick victory when in March 2015 they launched their operation at the time called “Decisive Storm”. Despite limitless weapons from the USA and Great Britain, including the use of U. S.-made cluster weapons now banned by world law, the Saudi-led coalition made relatively few territorial gains beyond those tribal areas within Yemen that were already favorable to the Saudis, tribes that often existed on both sides of the frontier.
Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have been backing separate and opposing factions. The lack of progress as well as the costs of the military operations may create a climate favorable to stopping the fighting. However, Saudi Arabia and its coalition are directly involved in the fighting while Iran only supplies some weapons and political support to its allies. Thus, of the outside actors, most responsibility for a change lies with the Saudi decision-makers.
There are two major issues that shape the future. The first is the possibility or not of forming a decentralized but relatively inclusive central government. Yemen remains largely a tribal society with political decisions made by the tribal head. Tribes usually have a specific geographic base. Thus, a central government requires participation by members from the major tribal groups. However, through economic development, people from different tribes now live in the cities and larger towns. These more urbanized populations do not depend as much on the decisions or views of tribal chiefs.
The relative strength of the central government has been based on patronage strategies, offering major tribal leaders some economic advantages. Until March 2011, most people had little say as to government policy. In March 2011, in the spirit of the “Arab Spring”, there were popular demonstrations throughout the country demanding jobs, the end of corruption and some respect for all citizens. By the end of 2011 Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been in power for 33 years, was pushed out and replaced by his Vice-president Abdu Rabbu Mansur Hadi who has the same governing style but who was considered as a change without upsetting too much the governing pattern.
Saleh, however, never really accepted the idea of giving up power and its material benefits. He formed an alliance with a religious movement that drew its members from the same geographic region. Saleh had combated this Huthi movement, including by force of arms, when he was president. But for a time, the alliance seemed to be mutually beneficial. The alliance broke sharply in November 2017. Fighting among the Huthi forces and those loyal to Saleh broke out in the capital Sana’a thatNovember and on December 4, Huthi troops shot Saleh in his auto as he was trying to leave the city.
The second major issue concerns the ability of Yemen to remain as one State or again to split into two with Sana’a as the capital of one State in the north and Aden as the capital of another State in the south. The two States were the political structure until 1990 when the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, with its center in Aden, combined with the Yemen Arab Republic in the north to become the Republic of Yemen. Leading up to 1990, there was wide hope that the union of the two States would lead to increased economic well-being. In practice, there has been little improvement. If there has been an improvement, it is because of external economic factors and not directly linked to the union. The lack of improvement in the south has led to resentment in the south and on the part of some persons, a desire for southern separation. Now, some in the south have formed militias. It is difficult to know how far they will push for separation and the creation of an independent State. Already in 1994, there had been armed attacks to push for a return to an Aden-based State.
The Association of World Citizens (AWC) has been concerned with three issues in the Yemen conflict:
1) The violation of international humanitarian law, involving attacks on medical facilities, medical personnel and the use of weapons banned by international treaties, especially cluster munitions. The AWC had been particularly active in promoting a treaty on the prohibition of cluster munitions.
2) Humanitarian relief, especially food aid. With the Saudi-led blockage of ports and air fields, it has been difficult for the UN or relief organizations to bring in food supplies. It is estimated that some eight million people suffer from famine-like conditions and that some 17 million others are in conditions of food insecurity. The fighting makes certain roads unsafe, preventing the delivery of food and other relief supplies.
3) The creation of a Yemen confederation. While the form of State structures depends on the will of the people of Yemen (if they were able to express themselves freely), the AWC proposes con-federal forms of government which maintain cooperation within a decentralized framework as an alternative to the creation of new independent States. In 2014, a committee appointed by then president Abu Hadi proposed a six-region federation as the political structure for Yemen. The AWC believes that this proposal merits close attention and could serve as a base of a renewal for an inclusive Yemen government.
Today, the choice between an end to the armed conflict with negotiations for a renewal of a Yemeni State on the basis of the con-federal system proposed and continued fighting in the hope that one faction become a “winner-take-all” is relatively clear. The AWC is resolutely for an end to the armed conflict with serious negotiations on the structure of a future State. We encourage others to support such a policy.
After how many wrecks the water changes color? Tears filled the sea. Lives that will never live.
Souls that escaped the madness of the war… But never managed to step on solid ground again.
And we? We count ornaments on the trees and writing letters. We swallowed our pain and painted it green; Red; gold.
Greedy the sea that raised us. Like is asking for a payback for all the summers we sank it with our shouting.
But it’s never going to change its color and we’ll always get lost in her beauty.
And we, we that are now counting the tears, when the sufferings wane after the heavy winter, will be the firsts to forget the Souls in its depths.
And when the warm summer nights her waves sing for soreness, Sirens will name them and fairies of the sea.
And we will count the pebbles on the shores under the shooting stars.
And all those who passed and gone in her cold arms, two words and twigs in the soil will witness the tears of last winter.
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