Joy Works Everywhere is an urban heart center, a place of welcome, created for the joyful development and expression of holistic living. Joy Works is a philosophy of living that speaks to our ability to attain health, wellness, peace, and laughter.
Joy Works Everywhere is an urban heart center, a place of welcome, created for the joyful development and expression of holistic living. Joy Works is a philosophy of living that speaks to our ability to attain health, wellness, peace, and laughter.
September 20, 2023
Riffing on this piece written in early 1990’s, one included in Thriving on A Riff a ms. from which several essays have been published on this site, in And Then magazine, and aired on Wbai, Pacifica radio; it hasn’t been published in its entirety.
2023 Riffing dips into and shares past writing to serve as reflection and assessment of current states of being and movement. The title of this essay says it all—the 2nd wave of feminism did not fail me. Sharing it now connects me to this 3rd possibly 4th wave of Feminism. Unfortunately the battering-violence statistics are still true for 2023. Fortunately rape is no longer legal in any of the U. S. states, although legal exemptions and qualification exist in several states. The variety of jobs occupied by women that pay a living wage is encouraging for the independence it provides.
The feminist movement provided the woman in the Black Woman me a frame of reference, a perspective to think-reflect-respond-react-embrace-accept-reject-reconstruct-deconstruct and pontificate about harshly, affectionately, poetically, and philosophically. It affirmed-asserted that I as a woman am, that I have a right to my voice and to my being.
This information-affirmation-assertion did not come from any teachers in any classrooms. It didn’t come from my work within the Black Liberation movement and in life against racism and internalized racial oppression. Or my participation in peace and anti-imperialist work. It didn’t come from speeches or tracts. It came initially from sitting in circles of women talking, listening, studying, valuing and being valued as a woman.
If nothing else occurred as a result of there being a “woman’s movement,” the contribution to my life in rEvolution would be precious beyond price. Hence, I will not treat it as whores, concubines, women, and other women are all too often treated i.e., disowned, rejected, relegated to the shadows. It is my movement. And, as there has always been a woman in my black there has always been a black in my woman. The movement of women is not owned by any color or class. The composition of anywhere I sit is changed by one.
The “woman’s movement” this incarnation has impacted attitudes, laws and behaviors in relationship to: reproductive rights, childcare, pay parity, multiculturalism, equal access to employment, women’s studies, rape, marriage, family, sexuality, criticism, incest, health, international policy, structures for interaction and communication; the personal is political! We are the blood of life coursing through the veins of being.
Feminist ideology helped to make sense of my mother’s frustrations that went beyond what my knowing that we live in a white dominated society could explain. It illuminated my mother’s wanting a male child; it explained my inheriting that want. Learning that the society is also male dominated provided space to heal. I could want myself; achievement could be defined by me and reflected by me. My wholeness could exist with or without my having to have or own a child, of either sex.
My family validated the existence of racism, called prejudice; I was given an understanding of not only its wrongness but the inaccurateness it perpetuated. Sexism, which there was no name for, existed as women’s lot in life and had to be adjusted to, as in having a “slit” and having to “bleed.” A bizarre pronouncement that in retrospect seems to have had something to do with accepting rape and being quiet about abortions.
“Black Womanism” allowed me to see and feel my mother’s fears and denials without revulsion or terror so that during her life my speaking of rape, of fear, of need gave her permission to speak. And, at the end of her life I could express to her, without reservation, that I loved her, valued her and that part of her went with me to the circles and was my strength to speak.
Knowing, participating in the political and philosophical development of seeing and understanding the nature of sexism, allowed me to meet heterosexism. My sexuality was neither the box (a slang reference for vagina which allows for the double-entendre of the cigarette ad) or in a box, defined by state needs and property arrangements in the form of marriage and reproduction of heirs or workers for the benefit of the dominating propertied class of white males and wannabees.
Understanding the nature of woman oppression has allowed for the liberation of not only the fettered girl but the awakening of the child-self that exist in an all-powerful state.
Obviously this is not a critique of the flaws, errors, detours and mistakes of the “women’s movement,” which contains all of the ‘isms, some egregious beyond belief in their manifestation and fallout. This isn’t even a critique of its impact and success. It is an affirmation of its existence and necessity. Battering is number one cause of injury for women in the United States. [note – This statistic from 1990’s is statistically accurate for 2023.] Marital rape is still legal in at least six states [note – Marital rape as of 2023 is illegal in all 50 States.] Non-marital rape is a potential reality that a majority of women [still] must contend with. Poverty is systemically imposed or threatened on women of color, elderly, working and marginally middle class white women. Women not only lack reproductive freedom and sexual freedom, too many lack the freedom to even acknowledge the lack of freedom. Political office, political power was created for and is still dominated by white men with the wealth that provides access.
I am now part of a very old language, one that has been as long as we have and will continue that long again. I am part of a circle of generation and regeneration. My we is all encompassing and perfectly in sync with my womb-ness which is wholeness. I see in the dark, walk in the light, fly through the stars and live among humans, other animals, insects, trees, rocks, and smart-bombs requiring neutralizing. I’m neither bored, tired, or pessimistic when I breathe and remember myself and the life that I am living.
Yes, we all need to be Feminist as we become Joy-workers fully present in the joy of our breath.
April 23, 2023
Peace Is Sanity 7 – make poetry – “no more bullets, not one last one”
Don’t make another bullet, no ammo holders, no chambers for bullets to pass through. No more bullets,
not one last one for one last shooting. Let names fade, let children live; erase the names on those bullets:
John, Maria, Shatequa, Carlos, Arianna, Alice, Dimitri, Yaseen, George, Yacov, Susan, Kwasi, Mark, Nihm,
Mohammed, Yaso, Harrison, Rachel, Paolo, Yuri, Ahmed, Khadisha. Sand shrapnel, let filing dust
strengthen road to peace. Lay water pipe lines with pistol barrels and rifle barrels; irrigate dry.
Bare your arms; reveal your beautiful loving arms. Use them to carry, use them to embrace the wounded.
Bare your arms as you build peace. Bare your strong arms as your brain tackles the art of peace, the skill
of resolution, the patience of conversation, the task of rethinking. Bare your arms, prepare your arms as
you ready to dig through right, move boulders containing your rightness about rightness that becomes
your every breath and thought, that you kill for, die for, live for.
Let’s get naked, wrestle with mud until covered completely, until we’re all indistinguishable mud, like the
dead and wounded spilling blood and bone. Enemies and innocents, combatants and artists & musicians,
and skaters and dishwashers and mothers and planters and lovers all, the same blood and bone and torn
flesh in every city, town, hamlet, village, in every state, government, country, republic; the same victory,
the same tears.
Bare arms, become naked in the mud, wrestle with right in mud until earth and dry fashion you into
sculpture born of the same mud; soft wet, squeezed through your hands and fingers, slightly gooey harmless mud.
Don’t make another bullet, bomb, weapon.
February 3, 2023
Story for February—Movement in Black Joy…
“My grandmother told me that her grandmother walked through time.”
“Huh” and “what” came from Tspice and Squirrel as they looked up from Tspice’s dislocated bicycle chain.
Luna repeated, “My grandmother told me that her grandmother walked through time,” as if saying it again would make the words make sense.
“We heard you,” said Tspice and Squirrel. “But what are you talking about?”
“My Grandma Pearl said that her Grandma Hattie had twice walked through time. The first time was in 1861 when she was 12. She walked into a place so loud, fast and unrecognizable that she very quickly stepped backward through the time opening.”
Tspice and Squirrel both rubbed the grease residue from the bike chain between thumb and index finger. Tspice returned to trying to get the chain back onto the sprocket. Squirrel looked at Luna, waiting to see if they were all going to start laughing. They all did laugh, but it wasn’t an “I gotcha laugh” come from joking. This was nervous laughter.
The sun was bright above the horizon. It was too early for sunset colors at 5 o’clock in summertime. They would have to go home anyway; it would soon be dinner time. Tspice got the chain back onto the sprocket. Squirrel examined it intensely—not that interested anymore, but not wanting to look at Luna.
“You need to clean that chain Tspice; grit grease is why it keeps slipping off.”
Luna, Squirrel and Tspice were all waiting. They talked about everything eventually—school stuff, home stuff, other friend stuff. Tspice spun the bike pedal, idle not agitated, part of waiting in time frozen. Because Luna just spoke out loud that her great-great grandmother had walked out of Civil War time into the future.
Squirrel’s phone vibrating unfroze the moment. Tspice’s mom was texting Squirrel to tell Tspice to get home. Simultaneously Luna received a text saying the same thing. As usual, Tspice’s phone was off. Squirrel and Luna pointed their phones toward Tspice, both saying, “Your Mama!” Also as usual, Tspice laughed saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” They picked up their backpacks and stood up, preparing to ride home, ready or not.
Luna said, “Tomorrow.” They knew that meant the full story would be told, but not now, not today. At that moment Tspice’s cousin Grigri and Squirrel’s cousin Smile could be seen and heard as they biked into the threesome, oblivious to the moment.
The five biked off in synchronized motion through the park and toward the street. They became a cohesive swirl of incoherent whoops and whistles as they rode alongside and pass cars and pedestrians. At this hour they headed for Saint Nicholas Avenue; it had the least traffic except for near 145th Street. There it was slow, a one lane creep because of double parked police vehicles or cars going to the fish joint. They navigated the minimally dangerous course with unity and exhilaration; separation began at 148th, where Tspice and Grigri kept left; Luna, Squirrel and Smile went rightward onto Saint Nicholas Place. Leaving Luna on Saint Nick’s Place, Squirrel and Smile would continue up toward 155th Street and make a hard right onto Edgecombe Avenue.
Luna’s mind was busy, and stayed busy through dinner and dishes, thinking about how to tell the Grandma Pearl Grandma Hattie story. Grandma Pearl would be gone two years tomorrow—left to take care of her sister across the ocean. The date was circled on the calendar in the kitchen. Luna noticed it on the way out to meet up with Tspice and Squirrel, maybe that’s why Grandma Pearl’s story showed up today. Now Luna had to remember it all and decide how to tell Tspice and Squirrel. She wasn’t going to tell Grigri and Smile; that would be like putting it on blast. Tspice and Squirrel knew how to be cool.
Luna was nine when Grandma Pearl first said something about her Grandma Hattie and walking through time. She wasn’t really talking to Luna in a way that Luna could ask questions, yet she had that look and tone she sometimes got when she was going to tell Luna something important and beneficial, even if the importance and the benefit was not obvious to Luna. Luna was an only child until she was nine. She was often under tables or slouched next to a couch absorbing grown-up conversations. She was also the listening ear for her grandmother’s pontifications about the country, the city and the neighborhood. But when her Grandma Pearl told her the Grandma Hattie story it was like entering a trance; words became very vivid pictures.
Luna had to wait several weeks before her Grandma Pearl returned to the Grandma Hattie story. She knew not to ask about it because Grandma Pearl did not like being asked anything. Direct and specific questions lead to long detours and often included pontifications—how Luna described Grandma Pearl’s talks to Tspice and Squirrel. Luna had learned about pontiff in her religion class, that a pontiff was the pope, the head of the Catholic Church, and his word was a pontification. Grandma Pearl was not pompous, except maybe in her holiday outfit, but she definitely spoke with authority. Had her words been recorded, there would be volumes of pronouncements.
Grandma Pearl pontificated that “the mayor needs to do his homework on the homeless shelter issue.”
They figured out with each other that the mayor wasn’t in school, that “homework” meant research and preparation, and that the “homeless shelter issue” was important.
Grandma Pearl pontificated, “God and goodness is more than a one day Sabbath affair!” Then her words veered toward clean streets and daily tithing, “You do both, give money and spirit. Make it a habit!”
From this Luna, Tspice and Squirrel interpreted she was saying clean up after yourself, and contribute at least ten percent a day to kindness and sharing.
Luna sat on her bed, staring at the bed where Baybay was asleep. She picked up her sketch pad and started drawing the images Grandma Pearl’s story had conjured in her mind, shimmering translucent light where her Great-great grandma Hattie had appeared. To Luna she looked like Luna, once past the distraction of the clothes, the bare feet; her hair was short too, cut very close to her head. But the face looked like her own. Luna fell asleep drawing the vehicles and buildings she imagined her great-great grandma saw when she first stepped through time.
Luna’s mom entered the room her daughters shared; it was midnight and Luna had again fallen asleep with the light on, earphones in, and marker pen in hand. Rosa gently and carefully removed the marker and pad. As she moved the earphones Luna looked up at her, smiled and turned over. Rosa kissed her big daughter’s cheek before turning off the light and leaving their bedroom.
*Excerpt from novella Luna, Tspice & Squirrel
December 13, 2022
Choice, conscious decision making is a key element in human claims of distinction from other life forms and, for many, claims of superiority. Reading, observation and feeling awareness tell me we’re not that distinct, and the aspect of “superior” that has importance is our ability to control and dominate—and destroy on a mass scale—other animals and the environment we share. We can choose to care & share in abundance.
We have more information from people and cultures past and from contemporary cultures than ever before. We have extraordinary access to our own hearts, minds, and souls—also access to the hearts and minds of others. We have arrived at this access as a result of art, literature, work, and study of those come before us and the synergistic pace of energy moving through our light. This informational sharing comes by way of our computers and cellular devices, through our evolving common awareness and perception because more of us can physically visit each other in each other’s neighborhoods and homes, and increased connection between those of us aware of existence on levels extending beyond physical form. This allows many more of us to awaken and connect in ways that once mostly occurred with shamans, witches, holy people throughout the world.
Living in the cell phone and internet age has increased information available to the literate, semi-literate and those not able to read at all. We can be in our world and aware of across the world in intimate ways simultaneously with text, images and sound. We can be almost anywhere in the world in a matter of hours; less than a day will get us nearly everywhere a map can locate. Whether one frames this as positive or negative, good or bad or like myself neither, more a fact of current existence, we have to increase our learning and ability to be fully responsible and caring for our contact and intimacy.
October 26, 2022
The dominant choral songs encircling horrors defiling humanity are mostly binary and discordant.
News streams in – live stream, on tape, in stills, in print – constant flow; it begins to feel like, and is a death dirge, an operatic lament. I am faced with how to speak, how to write from the intelligence my “heartmind” understands. In the weeks preceding this essay hundreds of Muslims, in the period of Ramadan (July 2016), have been killed by attacks on public gathering places by a very, very small sect of other Muslims who have claimed singular rightness in practice and interpretation of faith. Two black men have been killed by white police officers. The “reasons” for these killings is not known. I have little to no information about the mind-intellect-reason for these murders, or the heart-feeling-reason for these murders.
Matter – what and who matters is central to refrains being sung out about shootings and killings in the United States. Listeners in a competition for misunderstanding of the lyric – black lives matter, all lives matter, blue lives matter, and do Muslim lives matter. Are women included in black, all, blue. Are children? My youngest sister once wrote, “We love as we love” in response to my writing in an email that I loved her. It rings true in this contemplation seeking understanding and change. We matter as we matter. I matter! What I do and what is done to me matters. You matter, what you do and what is done to you matters.
I do, you do, is done is the we in this one shared earth turf ‘hood.
Black Lives Matter is response and action facing up to a haunting specter of inaction, numbness, powerlessness, and giving up claim to fairness in the face of the specificity of “attack black.” All Lives Matter is reaction. Blue Lives Matter following Black Lives Matter (and we will prove it with legislation) is focused coordinated reaction. Black Lives Matter then reacts to the reactions, and the truth in the specificity of this movement dilutes and rigidifies into false truth. Breathing, breath inside hearing and understanding becomes thin.
From my experience, my reading, my listening and observation, the vast majority, if not all of us living, have been subject to some indignity, some behavior action/inaction that affronts us. Too many of us have been subject to horrors that defile to us as human beings—defiles humanity.
There is need for healing in the core mindheart/thinkfeel DNA. Binary, dualistic thinking will not achieve the oneness of heart that disallows the violation of self and another. The practice of holism requires unity of thinking, feeling and breath.
Several days into the writing of this essay, five, then three police officers were targeted and killed, and two additional incidents of concentrated mass violence resulted in deaths of children, men and women.
Weep and pray, pray and weep; be love, act love, see hear, speak love. Respond, train reaction – compassion inseparable from wisdom; wisdom inseparable from compassion, a means, a model, an understanding to have results look like and be a world in harmony with itself.
Matter appears in Black Lives Have Always Mattered: A Collection of Essays, Poems and Personal Narratives, Edited by Abiodun Oyewole, 2Leaf Press, 2017
May 3, 2022
I ask that we live peace so justly, so actively, so effectively that it will be seen for the vibrant, exciting, life affirming, productive social political force that it is. Let us expose powerlessness, fear, and the contorted conditions that violence and brutality arise from. Let us recognize the illusion that violence and brutality provides for any lasting change; see the futility in them as solution to social political disharmony and injustice. I ask that we become the all-powerful Deities and enlightened being we conjure and instantaneously drop our body armor, vaporize our weapons and laugh as we are tickled by the harmless joy infusing our beings.
Celebrate the joys—little daily ones and ginormous whenever ones. I ask that we sprout communities that ring true to the meaning of the word—let us join together in living, being, sharing and creating joy in life. Let us acknowledge and release without shame or hesitation any and all hurt and harm. Let us stop hurting and harming, harming and hurting instantly, instantly, instantly until we have stopped hurting and harming. Let us be available and present in our lives and the lives of the people and other beings we share living with.
Let us dream peace, tumble across vibrant meadows, parade down tarmac streets embroiled in raucous laughter and genuine joy as we revel in appreciation of each other’s sacred life. Let us evolve stories, myths, fairy tales of music and dance festivities filled with colorful food and replenishing liquids. Stories having the gravitas of long forgotten warrior tales…once many years ago weapons of mass (and mini) destruction were dissolved in pools of love, feats of useful engineering, and ecological inventiveness. With abundant delight, earth, the oceans, the forests, the deserts and inhabitants forgave and forgot human caused mistakes and devastations. They gave us plenty in celebration abundance.
Let us nurture ease and embrace sorrow for as long as is needed. We can wash pain with salt water tears knowing earthquake, lightning or death from passing storm is without malice, fear or envy. Imagine the possibility of abundant ease and joy in joy and in sadness; imagine ease and joy. Imagine reflections of love, joy and welcome from every direction holding together community, openhearted community. Imagine this is real; this is real.
January 4, 2022
o Stepping Up to the Finish Line
o Harmonizing : Them: Us; Venus: Mars; Old: Young; Color
o Intention Matters: Language
In a world of oneness, every time any time I’m hurting you, I’m hurting me; thinking I can forget about you, your needs and wants is delusion.
Your flood, my drought is we problem; this year or the next. Rain doesn’t discriminate, it just rains. It is for us with dominion over earth to work out distribution details.
Air, oil, gold, diamond, uranium, bauxite, wind, calcium, tree, stone, potassium, copper, iron, sun, and moon are provided. It is for us little children, big children, adults, single and in pairs, to work out distribution.
In this world of same sun rays bathe kindred skin and same water quench human thirsts and same soils feed all that walks, you hurting me hurts you.
In a time of wonder the body weapon lays down.
Stepping Up to the Finish Line
Participating in completing our evolution, or at least this phase of it, is available. We can end rape and dominance as a means of interacting—literally, and as political, conceptual approach to other. People from every (or almost every) culture on earth have shared the pain and horror of their experiences of violation and subjugation—body, land & livelihood. We have information from people and cultures past and from contemporary cultures as well as perhaps unprecedented access to our own hearts, minds, and souls. This a result of the art, literature, work, and study of those come before us, and the synergistic pace of energy moving through our light.
Because we are living in the World Wide Web, Internet age, and cell phone omnipotence, information is available to the literate, semi-literate and those not able to read at all. We can be in our world and aware of across the world, in intimate ways, simultaneously. We can be almost anywhere in the world in a matter of hours; a day will get us nearly everywhere a map can locate. We have to be, have to learn to be fully responsible and caring for our contact and intimacy!
August 30, 2021
Peace is Sanity 9 – Afghanistan leavings…
Peace is free, war is costly. The first war cost the first life, the second war cost two. What kind of changes come from rivers of blood? I say let us only raise our hands in love; the first hit is the first war. Stop hitting.
Years 2001 through 2008, over two hundred and fifty-two billion dollars spent in Afghanistan, Iraq; that’s $250,000,000,000 worth of Shock and Awe, the name the United States Military gave to the invasion of Iraq. It was to be quick, but the six weeks turned into 1,2,3,4,5,6 years and counting…. A play name for a “game war”; did the planners of this war want to be heroes? War toy spending brings in eight hundred and forty-two million dollars per year, that’s $842,000,000 per year; aren’t the toys enough?
There are large institutes for weapon research and warfare simulation.
IS ANYONE SIMULATING PEACE? Is anyone simulating peace? I SAY IS ANYONE SIMULATING PEACE? As Shock and Awe plan the next war can we simulate into reality World Peace I?
About nine hundred Billion dollars is spent YEARLY on arms, $900,000,000,000. The United States sells more weapons than any other country. Military sales account for about 18% of the national budget; a much greater portion than any other nation. Can the United States take a different kind of leadership? Can we admit the addiction; can we see our own affection for combat; can we look at where we equate strength with might, with violence? Can we begin the weaning process? Can we begin a different romance; fund a romance with something other than war?
Twenty-eight hundred killed, twenty thousand wounded Americans; forty-five thousand Iraqi lives dead. Children in relationships with cardboard daddies (and some mommies too) so they’ll at least know what their parent looks like, have a likeness to talk to and maybe they hug it too; we all do the best we can.
An advertising firm for a transformer toy and Television program promotes “Peace through Tyranny.” This is a lie. Tyranny is oppression, dictatorship, cruelty, domination, theft.
Peace comes from peace, being peace living peace, walking & breathing peace. Peace is harmony, balance, stillness, joy, laughter, sharing; peace is dancing & playing music & gardening; peace is running & jumping and dreams of running & jumping & sitting & riding & laughing & eating & conversating & telling stories & seeing any trouble way before it is trouble and then practicing our calm, our balance, our harmony, our best thinking & feeling with ourselves and each other.
March 18, 2021
In a world of oneness, every time any time I’m hurting you, I’m hurting me; thinking I can forget about you, your needs and wants is delusion. Your flood, my drought is we problem; this year or the next. Rain doesn’t discriminate, it just rains. It is for us with dominion over earth to work out distribution details.
Air, oil, gold, diamond, uranium, bauxite, wind, calcium, tree, stone, potassium, copper, iron, sun and moon are provided. It is for us little children, big children, adults, single and in pairs, to work out distribution.
In this world of same sun rays bathe kindred skin and same water quench human thirsts and same soils feed all that walks, you hurting me hurts you. In a time of wonder the body weapon lays down.
Peace is one flag full of stars and moons, stripes & leaves in reds & greens and yellows & blues, white & black with red suns and golden trees, purple doves and orange wisdom waving over lands on loan.
Peace keepers all, we are fiber dust become thread become the weave of cloth that is an emblem announcing, we are here, caring for this earth on loan, learning the courtesy of dominion, the ridiculousness of power come with 70 or 100 years on a planet millions of years old. God or science we are flesh for a second. Like flag in sun, wind & rain we thin, tatter, disintegrate returning to fiber dust.
Be spirit of peace and care; nurture and grow love, light and sound. Preserve night and silence, stars and showers.
Be one flag full of peace keepers and joy walkers caring for the earth that is on loan to us learning being peace. Be peace.
Peace is balance. Peace is enough water, enough food, enough laughter, fun, sadness, enough awe.
Aching belly too full, too empty must find peace; cells dehydrated, flattening, dulling life must find the peace of enough; cells swollen, stretched from ceaseless imbibing dulling life must find the peace of enough.
Peace is balance: enough food, water, laughter, fun, sadness and awe.
Backs bent, fingers locked in repetitive nerve destroying motion, eyes losing sight from too much toil must move into balance of enough. Backs bent from the load of one, two, three, four times enough must move into the balance of enough.
Peace is balance.
Peace places a loving hand under our back until our spine has strength. I say let hands’ loving touch enter vertebrae, leap into tendon connecting bone, penetrate muscles, become flesh imprint given out from every look, touch, gesture.
I say find spines not touched, spines ill touched, spines wanting, needing more; open peace hands, let rays of loving nourish, strengthen spine.
Peace is lush ripe cherries offered from cupped hands, clear clean water from cupped hands, seeds for gardens, soap for dirt, salve for wound, nails for building, paint for walls, beauty for living, music for living, dance for living, land for walking, air for breathing.
Peace is Sanity.