Sam Hamill: Of Cascadia (text and video)

Another strong voice silent now. How quickly it goes.

Vox Populi

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Of Cascadia

I came here nearly forty years ago,
broke and half broken, having chosen
the mud, the dirt road, alder pollen and
a hundred avenues of gray across the sky
to be my teachers and my muses.
I chose a temple made of words and made a vow.

I scratched a life in hardpan. If I cried
for mercy or cried out in delight,
it was because I was a man choosing
carefully his way and his words, growing
as slowly as the trunks of cedars
in the sunlit garden.

Let the ferns and the moss remember
all that I have lost or loved, for I carry
no regrets, no ambition to live it
all again. I can’t make it better
than it’s been or will be again
as the seasons turn and an old man’s heart

turns nostalgic as he sips his wine alone.
I have lived…

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Sherry Hamby: Resisting technology, Appalachian style

Vox Populi

When people hear “Appalachia,” stereotypes and even slurs often immediately jump to mind, words like “backwards,” “ignorant,” “hillbilly” or “yokel.” But Appalachian attitudes about technology’s role in daily life are extremely sophisticated – and turn out to be both insightful and useful in a technology-centric society.

Many Americans tend to view Appalachian life as involving deprivation and deficit. This can be particularly pointed regarding technology: Rural residents are frequently neglected in research on technology use, and where they are included, the data usually focus on the lower rates of ownership and use of smartphones and laptop computers in rural areas. Articles can come across as scholars and reporters saying something like, “Poor rural Appalachians – they don’t even own the newest iPhone!”

It’s true that many rural areas aren’t served with the fastest broadband and the most robust cellular coverage in the U.S. But in the wake of the

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Doug Anderson: Household Gods

I wonder if the final phrase, “just as I am,” is a conscious quote from the old hymn. Very apt, if so.

Vox Populi

I am lying on my back inventing my pantheon,
not the major Gods and Godesses,
but the minor ones that do all the work,
while the greater ones sit around
with a smug gravitas listening
to all their worshipers. I want the ones
who get their hands dirty and are exhausted
at the end of the day like,
Our Lady of the Compassionate Fuck
or, The God of Dumb Luck.
I want to know them by dim lantern light,
see the whole of them darkly as they hold me
to them with their legs, and see their faces
so when I pass them on the street next day
I only sense them as when in a sacred grove
one knows their presence
by the atrial fibrillation they cause.
And the God of Being Happy as I Am,
without striving, without the will to perfection.
As for the God of Dumb…

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Abby Zimet: With a Rod of Iron

If I hadn’t seen the photos, I couldn’t have believed this was real.

Vox Populi

AR-15-Toting So-Called Churchgoers Renew Their Commitment To the Blood-Soaked Lunacy of Our Nation Amen.

“Church” “Leaders.” Reuters Photo

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At This Point Why Not Dept: Amidst the fiery debate about our murderous national landscape comes this: The trooping of about 250 white-clad brides and dark-suited grooms, wearing crowns often made of bullets and clutching AR-15s unloaded and aimed for the sky (whence their God was presumably watching them with some consternation) to the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary of Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, a Moonie-flavored church that also calls itself the “Rod of Iron Ministries” for the Bible’s vengeful “rod of iron” in Revelations: “He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels.” There, the worshipful couples drank holy wine, exchanged or renewed wedding vows, and received a blessing for their “religious accoutrements” – aka weapons of mass murder – because…

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Chris Hedges: Legalizing Tyranny

It’s worse for poor defendants, but even middle-class people who refuse to plea-bargain get shafted by the system. A former colleague of mine was convicted in a bench trial on the thinnest, most contradictory evidence imaginable, and the judge immediately sentenced him to life. If he’d pled guilty, he’d have gotten five years. If you want a trial–jury or bench–in America these days, you literally have to risk your life.

Vox Populi

Mr. Fish / Truthdig
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The students I teach in prison who have the longest sentences are, almost without exception, the ones who demanded a jury trial. If everyone charged with a crime had a jury trial, the court system would implode. Prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges use those who insist on a jury trial—often people who did not commit the crime with which they were charged—as examples. Their sentences, frequently life sentences, are grim reminders as to why it is in the best interests of a defendant, even if he or she did not commit the crime, to take a plea agreement. Ninety-four percent of state-level felony convictions and 97 percent of federal felony convictions are the result of guilty pleas. And studies by groups such as Human Rights Watchconfirm the punitive nature of jury trials: Those who go to jury trials get an addition 11 years, on…

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Doug Anderson: Wings

Vox Populi

Been so long since I’ve been loved, even touched,
I told her, with no pity in my voice, just fact,
and she reached over and took my hand
in both of hers and felt deftly its several bones
and worn gristle that held them in place
as if she were holding a bird that hit a glass door,
to feel it come back alive in her hands. All day I flew.


 

Copyright 2018 Doug Anderson

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Dia Kayyali: FBI’s “Suicide Letter” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dangers of Unchecked Surveillance

Vox Populi

In 2014 The New York Times published an unredacted version of the famous “suicide letter” from the FBI to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter, discovered by historian and professor Beverly Gage, is a disturbing document. But it’s also something that everyone in the United States should read, because it demonstrates exactly what lengths the intelligence community is willing to go to—and what happens when they take the fruits of the surveillance they’ve done and unleash it on a target.

The anonymous letter was the result of the FBI’s comprehensive surveillance and harassment strategy against Dr. King, which included bugging his hotel rooms, photographic surveillance, and physical observation of King’s movements by FBI agents. The agency also attempted to break up his marriage by sending selectively edited “personal moments he shared with friends and women” to his wife.

Portions of the letter had been previously redacted. One…

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