Guest Post — Yosimar Reyes

Yosimar Reyes names himself an undocuqueer poet in Los Angeles and I often am privileged to be reprint his work here. I would give just about everything in the world to have no reason to share his work except for beautiful stanzas about his Mami. 

What is our country — that poets must have “heartbreak” in their opening lines?

The most heartbreaking thing
about bearing witness
to children in cages
a drowned father and daughter
another ICE raid
another tweet

about not even providing
toothpaste or soap
is the reality
that this country
breeds citizens
with no humanity

how spiritually bankrupt
must one be
to ignore
to sit there and say, “they should have done it the legal way”

May the ghosts of our people come back like a storm
a heavy wind
an earthquake
and fall upon the homes
of those with venom on their lips

may the ghosts of our people
remind them who God really is

you can’t stop us
because we do not die in vain

a storm is coming
you can’t hide from the rain

Yosimar Reyes.

Yosimar is on a roll … a sad deep thunder … this poem I have just added and it gives you just a little more of his life.

I have no interest
in reminding you of your humanity
no interest in showing images
of our suffering
for you to believe

We have already lost too much

Since the day I arrived in 1991
on my Grandfather’s back

you received us with hostility
saw prey in us
try to devour us

and the source of your anger
might be that you didn’t succeed

You who choose willful ignorance
do not deserve
the tears I shed

You do not deserve to witness
my pain

You who thinks laws are above morality
will not hear my voice tremble at the presence
of your authority

I stand firm
with the spirit of grandfather next to me

I stand firm
because I already lost too much

Yosimar Reyes

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Prayer for the immigration crisis (an homage to Gerard Manley Hopkins “God’s Grandeur”)

My little hand holds (and not the great world)
the small shining of shook foil

and there is no beauty that I see,
only the blankets on children detained —
alone and frightened, cold,

and without care,
without — O you grand and broken God,
toothpaste and soap,

and parents,

without justice, compassion,
but not without hope,
because that alone, hope

is never spent, but lights the western sky
as night falls
on the long walk from the south,
even if dimly, touches
with fingers a rim of east
every morning, every detention center.

Hope brought them here
to the terrible inhospitality
that smears
all this country ever thought to be.

And it is left to us and the Holy Spirit
to brood
over those who are lost,
Oscar, Valeria,
and bend the world
so that the living children
might someday be found
by bright wings.

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Pride

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else … Galatians 6:14

God who gives pride
to those who have been discounted —
raising up a rainbow of people
at the Pride Parade,

I give thanks for my church —
we came dressed as the orange
for today’s rainbow,
and for the teenagers wrapped
in flags with so many stripes,
and glitter on their faces,
for the three buses full of folks
from an assisted living community,
celebrating what they could not
in their days of youth,
for babies in strollers
whose parents want them to grow
to be more who they are
and compassionate to all.

I give thanks for James Baldwin
and Marsha Johnson,
for Harvey Milk and Audre Lord,
for Sylvia Rivera and George Takei,
for Bayard Rushton,
and so many more.
I give thanks
for heroes of Stonewall
fifty-years ago,
and I weep for
every year’s trans martyrs.
May they never be forgotten.

God, the Leftist Marching Band
is coming by,
and you are dancing with us
in the street. amen.
(photo Pride parade, Portsmouth NH)

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Lance and Christine Muteyo appointed as International Global Servants in the American Baptist Church

I am delighted to announce that Lance and Christine Muteyo — well known to my blog readers and readers of  Pilgrim Press publications — Gifts in Open Hands, From the Psalms to the Cloud, and A Child Laughs — Prayers of Justice and Hope have become Associate Global Servants with the International Ministries of the American Baptist Church. That is a wonderful and even overdue honor for them and also provides a way for people to make contributions earmarked for their work in the disastrous economic conditions in Zimbabwe. International Ministries 1003 W. 9th Ave Ste A King of Prussia, PA 19406 or (showing a list of global servants in all countries) — online  here

Zimbabwe, and Africa in general,
is in a phase of transition.
Years of injustice, human rights abuses,
intolerance, nepotism, internalized external oppression and corruption are being replaced by citizen voices of democracy,
citizen activism, pro-democracy movements and demonstrations. However, there remains a question.
Are all these movements in line with the ingredients of peace building? Psalm 85:10 says “Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and
peace have kissed”
The truth is, Mother Africa has suffered for centuries.
Alas, this truth without mercy is treacherous.
International courts of justice indict African leaders and former leaders of war crimes and gross human rights abuses.
But does this justice have mercy
Does it have truth?
If so, which truth?
We all need peace!
Some believe peace through armed struggle and terrorism, some through nonviolent struggle.
Does this take acquaintance of the ingredients of peace building? Africa needs peace building ingredients today more than ever before. These are the ingredients from David, the great psalmist:
Mercy
Truth
Justice
Peace!
Lance Muteyo

Recent article: Christina and Lance Muteyo, both passionate peacemakers who creatively combine art and activism, have been appointed to serve with International Ministries (IM) as International Associate Global Servants in their home country of Zimbabwe.

The first IM global servants to serve in this southern African country, the couple is employed by Trees of Peace Africa, an IM partner whose mission is to change the world through planting seeds of love, peace and harmony in Africa.

Lance and Christina are proteges of IM Global Consultants, the Rev. Dr. Dan and the Rev. Sharon Buttry through their signature 10-day Training of Conflict Transformation Training (TCTT). TCTT uses experiential education methodologies developed by people’s movements around the world, interwoven with spiritual disciplines, to explore topics of conflict dynamics among people, governments and churches.

Lance has co-facilitated two TCTT workshops and introduced the tradition of planting a tree for peace at each TCTT. He has conducted conflict transformation training work in Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Ukraine and Italy, as well as in Zimbabwe. His wife Christina is also a TCTT graduate and has led trainings herself with counselors, and co-facilitated others with Lance in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“Aside from his community organizing and training, Lance is a poet,” adds Dan. “He speaks passionately and proudly as an African with a prophetic edge calling Africans to take full responsibility in shaping their destiny. He often accompanies his poetry recitation with the mbira, a traditional instrument sometimes called a thumb piano. With Christina and their two young children, the Muteyo family has become a bright beacon of hope not just in Zimbabwe but in many countries of Africa.”

Area Director for Africa, Karen Smith, is looking forward to serving with the Muteyos. “Lance and Christina are truly the salt of the earth,” Smith comments. “IM is blessed to have them as associate global servants. What a privilege it is, that this work started by the Buttrys can continue to grow and bear much fruit through Lance and Christina and Trees of Peace Africa.”

IM is appointing global servants who are not U.S. citizens from countries that we once considered to be mission fields as International Associate Global Servants. “The Muteyos are Africans and are being recognized and affirmed by IM as partners in this exciting paradigmatic shift,” says IM’s Director of Mission Mobilization, the Rev. Dr. Rodney Ragwan. “Their holistic approach to mission fits well with IM’s focus area of Peace and Justice. With the appointment of the Muteyos, IM is promoting mission ‘From Everywhere to Everyone.’ As Associates, they are not directly employed by IM, but are working in close partnership with IM. Contributions from supporters in the U.S. and Puerto Rico may be received by IM, and are then forwarded to their employing organization to underwrite support and ministry-related expenses.”

The Buttrys are clearly on a mission to develop young, talented and committed Christians to spread their ministry of peacemaking to the ends of the earth. “When it comes to social transformation, even the greatest among us cannot live to see the fulfillment of our dreams,” said Dan. “When I had cancer in 2009, God showed me that my time is limited, so I needed to shift what I was doing. I needed to both train others and bring them along wherever possible.”

Buttry’s realization led to the development of the TCTT program and the launch of the Global Peacemakers Mentoring Project. The project is designed to enable some of those he has trained to accompany him on peacemaking trips and to provide funding for those he has mentored to engage additional training, especially cross-cultural or international.

Christina is a 2015 graduate of Zimbabwe Institute of Systemic Counseling and holds a degree in Systemic Family Therapy. Lance is a 2005 honors graduate of the University of Zimbabwe with a degree in Sociology.

Their home church is Emmanuel Baptist Church in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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Confession of a Colorless Person (Juneteenth, 2019)

I have expected melanated people
to paint their colors on my canvas —
as if I had a right to all of them,
defining myself as “white”
the ultimate gathering of all
tints and shades and hues.

Don’t forgive me,
Bless me to be a watcher

of the bright and tender,
sacred and celebrating
of this day.

Juneteenth — when those with color
shine,
and the colorless
are mirror, are window,
then try to open,
then try to stop trying.

Juneteenth or Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, remembers the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South and more generally still emancipation of African Americans through the United States and more generally still the celebration of all victories against old and new Jim Crow, against crimes and cruelties, against unjust policing, against the small and large assumptions that Black Lives do not matter. I am white. I live in one of the five states that do not officially recognize Juneteenth.

In Queer matters I am an ally. In racial matters, I cannot begin to be. I carry on my back a history of violence. My Daddy used to say to me, “It doesn’t matter what you personally do or don’t do, as a white girl, the path has been cleared before you by the blood of others.” Even twisting around about that and trying to wake up to the depths of my prejudice is so often trying to make it about me.

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More than one interpretation

I am in a Corinthian atrium
dedicated to headless statues —
creations
that allowed each first century purchaser
to attach their own face,
or one of a distinguished visitor, a lover.

I wonder whether this is
the very earliest of ego-driven selfies,
or a beginning of honoring
every individual — warts, bald patches,
missing teeth, and all.
Not here classical beauty,
in lines of Apollo or Aphrodite —

but body of Christ, each of us.

(I am two days back from a ten day visit to Greece, where I discovered many things that I will be unfolding for a long time — you will get (or skip) the occasional poems. I find that I, too, heard a person of Macedonia calling and discovered that it was not necessarily just the footsore “Footsteps of Paul” as the tour was named … but the women of Delphi and the Minoans of Crete’ labyrinth, contemporary rug weavers of Turkey, monks in their Meteora monasteries — men and women — and, most of all, today’s ordinary Greek people, facing their daunting issues with the courage of Penelope and of Odysseus.)

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Guest Post — Heather Kelly

I am always grateful when Heather Kelly, from Invercargill, Aotearoa, New Zealand shares a poem with me and I can share it with you, an in doing so remind all the world of the beauty and mystery of autumn, now in the southern hemisphere shifting into winter.

SUNDAY MORNING

Heavy, grey sky.
Trees in many colours as the last
leaves of Autumn cling on.
Overnight rain shines in droplets on
unpruned roses.
Few birds fly and no bird song
this morning.

All is still and calm;
a Sunday quiet covers and
all creation is at worship
as the drizzle falls.
(A quick reminder that, although I am pre-setting the two guest posts, I will be away in Greece beginning June 5 and returning on June 16 and so I will not be able to answer any comments until I return.)

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