War No More: MLK Visions 2015 Colloaboration

This is the first post of the new year! Yaaaaay!!!

imageCollaboration is a wonderful thing. As an artist I am always looking for new ways to collaborate with others. I am always looking for a way to spread The 365 Project beyond the book and poems.

I love living in Athens. There is such a rich and vibrant arts community. I always find myself meeting new artists and going to events that support local artists and their work. You all may remember last year we featured local artist Broderick Flanigan on the site. This year he and I partnered for the 2015 MLK Visions Exhibit. The curator, local resident William Month Miller, asked local poets and visual/graphic artists to create a piece with the theme “War No More”. This came from Dr. king’s Beyond Vietnam speech. After sharing the poem with Broderick came up with an amazing piece. (Pictured above) A quote from the poem I wrote serve as the frame of the piece. “Do peace over our lives. For the release of it from our actions won’t return to us void. Chase after it daily until we find the ultimate reality.”

Below is the full poem, enjoy and Happy MLK Day!

Today we find ourselves in conflict
More then what our televisions show us
CNN can’t give us updates on military strategy
President Obama hasn’t declared this
It’s not like that night I watched President Bush launch the War on Terror
Explosions going off on my tv
Fear paralyzed me in my bed
No this… Is different
But by definition

War is organized and prolonged conflict characterized by extreme violence, social disruption and an attempt at economic disruption

War is a collective political violence
By definition

We are at war

Weapons are not what we think they are
They range from social media to choke holds
To police and power entitlement
Blood trails down the street for hours

No this war is real

Except our soldiers don’t get trained in boot camps
They get trained by seeing modern day lynchings and their own witness testimonies discredited
They get trained by their parents whose orders are to be respectful to authority figures at all times
Follow the protocol for when you get pulled over
Follow the protocols to stay under the radar
Respectability politics at all times
Yes this war is real
But the costs of it are not expressed in dollars or materials but in the psychiatric breakdown of human minds
Yes this war is real
Except our enemies aren’t militias who create videos of beheadings in caves
Our enemies are those who wear badges that are to protect and serve
Our enemies are those who are supposed to love us
Our enemies are those who we share our beds with
Our enemies are those who we held on pedestals as public father figures who were to keep us in check
Our enemies are those who fail to keep this peace we all desire to have in our hearts

The absence of war is peace
Yet we can barely say it
It can’t escape our mouths
In sits on our hearts
In our chests
Waiting to be expelled
We labor over it
It churns and twists we groan in agony

Ironic isn’t it? To labor over peace

And I imagine the 2 years that Dr. King had those words turning over his heart caused this same agony. 2 years of advisors trying to guide him away from the subject. Yet when he stepped to the podium at Riverside to speak it was time to end his agony. That on April 4th when the exact time the words “My conscious leaves me no other choice” broke a silence that at one point was too loud to penetrate.

Today we find ourselves in conflict
And are we ok with that?
Will we continue to allow this conflict to rip apart our homes? Will we continue to catalogue hashtags of fallen soldiers? Trayvon , Oscar, Mike, Akai , Eric

Today we have no other choice than to say War no More, to do War no More, to be War no More

We have no other choice than to open our mouths and speak
Speak peace over our lives
Over our brothers hurting
Over our sisters hurting
Speak peace with each articulation

Be peace over our lives
Over our brothers hurting
Over our sisters hurting

Do peace over our lives
For the release of it from our actions won’t return to us void
Chase after it daily until we find the ultimate reality

“Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, April 4,1967

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