That’s What Soul Means It’s not necessary to like the song. If it doesn’t resonate… move on to my feeble words, my soulful call to you, asking you to be with me in This Moment. In a new way. Below is an excerpt from an incomparable poem of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s — Renascence — which was penned, for the most part, when she was only a teenager. That’s a fact that’s worthwhile underscoring for youngsters in their tender, formative years. For obvious reasons, yes? I provide a link to the entire long poem below my final Incredible String Band selection at the bottom. [Pause.] Just don’t forget to look up again once you’ve plowed through the rashly written, unedited blah blah below. Unless I’ve sent you to this posting, READ THE PREVIOUS POSTS.

That’s What Soul Means
For my many ‘moments’ at Small’s Paradise
by The Ox

It would really be ironic if the people I’m trying to reach aren’t getting back to me ’cause it’s Memorial Day Weekend. ‘Cause the forces behind MDW are the same one which people with a cause centered on people of color, white coal miners, Mother Earth’s species ‘cross the board, clean water, clear thinking, WMDs, etc. are the same individuals and organizations who they are going to have to address… after vacation, following their time off.

And speaking of “time off” I’d like you to focus on the fact — the bareknuckle fact — that you’re getting it on the chin and shin — hard and fast and regularly with absolutely no let up — 24×7. They’re at it ’round the clock. Which is why someone — some core group — has to be workin’ it 24×8.

Once in awhile when I’m at it, dealing with that challenge head on (maybe riding around without headphones distracting me… which is pretty much always the case), I have time to write a plain particle in my brain; that italicized word is defined in the previous post (which I’d like you to glance at, if you will). Anyway, THIS posting is one example of that, a piece which was given birth to while thinking about how you and I might confront the powers that be from a new angle.

Something to help you once you’re finished with MDW.

Let’s work on our imagination, shall we?

I listen and watch Poet #1, and he’s ranting and raving about The Obvious. The lyrical twists and turns are quite sweet — deserving of applause, support and encouragement — BUT BUT BUT it’s the kind of stuff that Henry Miller freaked about out loud long before Ginsburg and Ferlinghetti put pen to paper. The kind of horror well documented long before Miller came into this world in 1891. Counterparts to those abominations having been written down before 1891 B.C. In other words….

Well, then I listen and watch Poet #2… who also, let’s make believe, is a documentary filmmaker. Same stuff delineated, what’s in Poet #1’s spotlight framed somewhat differently, but — essentially — the same heartbreaking scenarios, etc. There’s a difference, though. Poet #2 — before she’s through — has touched upon a hint of action that’s needed. It’s ever so slight, her lyrical sleight-of-hand festooned with social-conscious suggestions. But it’s there. Her offerings are not just coming from ego-consciousness. Not just hell bent on reminding us all of what makes our healthy heads, hearts and souls recoil in horror. She’s inserted an ingredient which might — if we are paying attention — move us to action. It’s almost invisible if one is on the run, but it has been woven into the warp and woof.

She’s not aloof. She’s in the street with you.

Here we go. Let’s see now what I come across incessantly… not just from the quarters of both kinds of poets described above, but in the realms of all literary types, all non-literary souls, all soul brothers, all supposedly engaged citizens, reps of non-profits, rappers, fur trappers in the Northwest, players playing craps in Atlantic City… the whole gamut. Swearing on my gut, I tell you that I’ve been through what I’m about to lay out for you 12,000 plus times over the last decade or so. Ever since 2004, when my wife and I put on what was arguably the most ambitious social/environmental/political event in the history of Santa Cruz, California, a Golden State city which has been known for its heightened activism.

A three-day event — spread all over SCruz — free for everyone, featuring Cynthia McKinney, Michael Parenti, Bill Blum, D.C.’s Center for Voting and Democracy, and — it seemed, at the time — EVERYONE and EVERY organization on the planet. Seriously, we were top heavy with offerings, absolute delights. And the whole shebang was pulled off with no experience and less of a budget. [Remind me to tell you the whole story.]

Anyway, I’ve worked incessantly on recruiting for a singular “plan of action” (carrying the imprimatur of the late Howard Zinn), reaching out 24×8 (which means in my sleep too)… and what I’ve gone through incessantly is depicted directly below. Thing is, it’s told honoring Emily Dickinson’s injunction to tell all the truth, but tell it slant. Obliquely… for good reason. [Remind me to spell that out for you too.]


I’m Mr. Grass, and when you first meet me I’m approaching a cliff. The wind’s raging. Looks like it’s gonna rain.

I see a guy hanging by his fingertips… likely to fall all the way down. And it’s a long way down.

The wind’s blowin’ hard. Don’t forget that.

I tell the dude that I’ve got a new idea which Howard Zinn approved of before he died.

He tells me, though, that he’s got his hands full.

I don’t doubt that. I can see that. I’m not blind. The thing is, the fellow has no clue that the other 11,999 people I’ve encountered have all told me the same thing. Some actually having been holding on for dear life like he’s doing, others feeling that they were in the same situation… which is tantamount to being in the same situation, of course.

What to do?

He tells me that each word I deliver winds up materializing into the form of a brick, and that it’s as if someone places it in front of him, preventing him from seeing passers by who might cry about his situation… and, then, rescue him. He says it’s quite clear that I’m not going to help pull him up away from the cliff’s edge. I don’t know why he thinks that of me — might have been something I said or did — but it’s crystal clear that he holds that false opinion of me dear. Will not tear it from his misinformed heart. Refuses to talk about how I might relieve him, and only focuses on others who he imagines he might meet some day. Hey, it’s crazy-making, but I’ve got to work with that fact of life.


Our person on the precipice points out that every time I delineate an idea it acts as a weight (double that of the word brick previously described) which winds up in his backpack, an accoutrement he fervently wishes he could be rid of, a burden which he swears will be the end of him.

When facing me he’s too polite or nervous about saying that he won’t read whatever I submit to him once I leave for the day, but as soon as I depart he let’s the papers fly away in the mounting wind… never bringing them up in conversation the next day when I return unless I do. And then it’s only to come up with some prematurely dismissive point which reveals, more often than not, that he hasn’t read the proposal at all, or if he has hasn’t spent much time thinking about it. Whatever the case, he never gets around to participating in the obligatory, in-depth Q&A which any new idea demands.

Even if I offer to come back with my friends and family, who own a contraption which would easily lift him out of his present plight, he ignores me… never even offering up a Thanks, but no thanks whenever I recommend one solution or another, one way to find relief or another.

He’s so worried about falling, and he’s so bent out of shape about the prospect of being swallowed up below, disappearing forever, that my pleas for us to move in solidarity — even as he sees fit — seem to fall on a flat soul. Someone who has — by any standards — given up.

To be fair, I should mention that he does fight the good fight in spite of his predicament… and he should be applauded for that, praised. He throws coins down below where he guesses people are in need. I imagine it makes him feel good. And, fact is, there are people at the bottom of the crevasse over which he hangs by his fingertips who do benefit by his largesse.

But his soul is flat by virtue of his having become resigned somehow vis-à-vis — for want of a better expression — The Big Picture.

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

He’s got it wrong. He’s not going to fall, ever. What’s going to happen, though, is the that the sky is going to cave in on him… unless something changes soon.

Whenever I’ve visited him… he’s always looking down. He steadfastly refuses to look up. Even when he talks to me, with me above him, he never glances upward. He’s always averting his eyes, often closing them.

He doesn’t actually have to stare into the sky. That’s not necessary. What is essential is that he embrace some proposal which addresses the growing crack in the sky.

His sky, not mine.

That’s what soul means.

There It Is
by Jayne Cortez

And if we don’t fight
if we don’t resist
if we don’t organize and unify and
get the power to control our own lives
then we will wear
the exaggerated look of captivity
the stylized look of submission
the bizarre look of suicide
the dehumanized look of fear
and the decomposed look of repression
forever and ever and ever
And there it is…