Do Re Mi – #occupyICE

Do Re Mi

#occupyICE

Original lyrics by Woody Guthrie

Rewrite by John Paul Wright

 


Well, thousands of folks all over the world

are leavin’ home everyday,

beating their way to the good ol’ U.S.A.

Lured by prosperity and that

message from Lady Liberty,

but eventually here is what they’ll find.

When the I.C.E. Agent comes a knockin’

on their door,

“we don’t need your cheap labor anymore!”

<chorus>

Oh, if you ain’t got that Do Re MI.

If you ain’t got that Do Re Mi.

Better go back to Central America, Africa

Mexico or the Middle East.

We need workers for

“our interests in the region”

Uncle Sam ain’t in the

business of Sanctuary!

So believe it or not you won’t find it

so hot, if you ain’t got the Do Re Mi.

So you want some of our diversity

or to send you kids to a university

that’s real nice, but it’s all just a dream.

We got prisoners working for free,

we made cages an industry.

Stick around just a little while

and here is what you’ll find –

that your just another wage slave

capital knows no boarders anyway!

<chorus>


Dear America,

America’s myths are
being exposed and run
through the ringer
of public discourse.
Dear America,
Keep trying to explain
your way out of this.
The more you talk,
the more you expose
your weakness.
You know you lied!
You snuck out
of the house.
Got drunk.
Wrecked the car.
Date raped the country
and someone caught
you on video.
You know slavery was
an evil and not to mention
a labor policy called
human trafficking.
A slave is:
a slave
is a slave.
Like the workers
who make your shirt!
Pick the apples
for your pie.
Like the
wage slave
at a for – profit or
501 c whatever –
who is expected
to trade
love for labor,
because they are
part of
“the team.”
Like the military protecting
“our”
oil interests in the region.
So,
keep talking.
Your children are
getting the picture.
You can’t blame this
on commies and reds.
You cant blame this
on the media.
The issue is –
you lied about
what you did.
So, fess up.
America …
the more you try
to lie and make
excuses –
the more you
dig your own grave.
The founding fathers
were just men.
Like all other.
They were
just men, protecting
their own ass.
They wanted
power, land
and money.
They made selfies
called dollars.
They enslaved
women, children.
Nothing was
sacred unless
they owned it.
They prayed
to God that trust
wouldn’t find them
delusional.
Now,
they
are being
crucified
by their own
children.
Melted away
in a pot of
their own
creation.
John Paul

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Chapter 2 / Before N.Y.C

Chapter 2 – Before N.Y.C

When I posted chapter 1 on my blog, a person who I had been chatting with on Facebook showed an interest in this story. She called herself a “red diaper baby.” A red diaper baby is a kid raised by a political activist and I suspect I am one of those. She also mentioned that she thought the blogpost post showed “moral courage.” I asked her what she meant by that and she said it was courageous to be openly talking about mental health issues.

We chatted a bit and somewhere in the digital exchange, I mentioned my wife. I always mention my wife, especially if I am chatting over the internet with a woman. I also mentioned my mother, thusly the red diaper comment. My mother was my rock and moral compass. I told her that my mother was a political activist. My Facebook friend, wanted to hear more about my mom, Glenda the good witch.

My mother was the reason I ended up in the care of Central State mental hospital on a three-day self-imposed mental inquest warrant and property of the state of Kentucky. I freaked out. I yelled at her and accused her of brandishing a weapon. I left the house, I guess you could say I ran away to the loony bin by way of a teepee.

I had been living in her basement for a year, slowly slipping into a deep dark depression. I was suffering from the breakup of a two-year relationship. My life was collapsing. My girlfriend, who I had met at the food co-op where I was working several months before, cheated on me with a friend in our circle. I was also suffering heart problems.

My heart was skipping beats. Panic attacks were a daily event. Every day I walked across the park, that was my 46-acre front yard as a child, and go to the store and buy tons of junk food. I ate tons of sugar and tons of salt and then went home and slept for hours. My body was rebelling. I was getting fat and more and more in my head.

I was reading, listening to music and sleeping for hours on end. Sometimes upwards of eighteen. I was reading the Sufi books that I had been turned on to by the manager of the food co-op. I was reading Black Elk Speaks and a book with speeches from Native American Chiefs called Touch the Earth.

I was a young hippie, deadhead. The medicine man manager at the co-op, the teepee connection, had turned me onto a Sufi guru from Philadelphia named Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. I was deeply getting into the Sun Ra that he had turned me on to. I was listening to Sun Ra and reading all his poetry on the CD covers and starting an impressive Sun Ra collection.

Bawa’s books are deep! The idea of killing my self was on my mind, but not that kind of killing. I was deeply thinking about who I was. My friendship with my long-haired hippie herbal Sufi manager was deep. He is a very humble person and was always saying something that I thought was something I needed to think about.

Sun Ra, well, ifin you ain’t never heard of Ra, best be firing up that Google machine. My little trip up the river of life was starting to come to a delta. All my problems seemed to be rushing in on me. Over the course of eight months I had gained one hundred pounds. Something was going to break.

One morning, after one of those long dark days and nights in the basement, I had a crazy audible hallucination. I thought I heard my mother run through the house and get her .38 and pull the trigger back. I ran up the basement steps and told her that I had had enough. Then after a short freak out. I left.

She would not let me come back. She had had enough and didn’t know what to do. I am sure she was hurt, terrified and lost as to why her little Johnny, was so sick in the head. I didn’t have a plan as to what I was going to do. I was ready for some help. Several of my friends were on the crazy check. I knew that was an option. However, I didn’t think that I was that kind of crazy, so, I phoned a friend.

The friend owned a delightful home out in the south end of Louisville, had a nice family, who were then celebrating Thanksgiving. He drove all the way across town and picked me up from the Walgreens drug store where I had called him from a payphone. I stayed in his backyard teepee overnight. He built a fire. I had a big plate of food.

We talked about me being nuts and then, after a long night rearranging all the dirt, sticks and staring at the fire burn, I knew I needed help. I was not going to get this crazy out. I got a ride downtown and somehow ended up getting ready to have the meeting with the woman who handed out gum at the co-op, who was the mother of the young woman, who set up that table on Christopher Street that you were reading about a minute ago.


 

Last Night at the Unity Dinner …

Last night at the Unity Dinner …

I spoke of our ancestors.
An invocation by name.

Glenda’s son.

Everybody
knew me as Glenda’s boy
back when you were the big name
in our activist circles!

I wanted out!

So I went off on my own
and found my activist
work in Nuclear Free Zone
of Louisville. I was 15 –
your name and work was
oppressive to my identity.

Everybody knew the immigrant’s
kid, born on East Jefferson St.
Mellick’s youngest baby –
even the Outlaws around
the block knew not to mess
with you.

Last night,
I “Lifted Every Voice!”
in a trade found of
harsh labor.
My voice was tired
and weary from missing
yours. a sound – 
that feels
oh so close these days
and nights of longing.

Feeling called –
I put a rose over my door
to invite soft conversation.
To conjure spirits
in kind, luring lost souls
to action – ghosts –
calling them, home.

As our organizing used to
be, coffee, child, mother –
lesson plans and your
want to see me shine.
Your birds out the window
my childhood home
your eyes and strong
words – Everything is
an Educational Moment -.
and I could do no wrong!

and We honor our elders!
at all cost. and in that
respect, they are placed
in a position of
understanding. A giveaway –
as known by native
voices – sometimes
i feel, like a motherless
child – but last night
at the Unity Dinner
i felt as if I
was being called
home.

Johnny Paul

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I Stand For Freedom!

I stand for freedom

and the right to organize!

 

I stand for love

and strong communities.

 

I stand for immigrants and

the poor.

 

I stand for human rights

and all marginalized voices.

 

I stand up for rivers

and on top of mountains

that you think you own –

i’ll stand with anyone

when your banks are

stealing their homes.

 

I stand for children and

dreams & folk traditions

that are passed down &

work to preserve our

stories, until all your

myths are torn down.

 

I will stand if that flag

is draped over a coffin

 

only devils disrespect

the dead

 

So much blood

has been spilled

for profit – I won’t

stand for Red.

I won’t stand for White

when it time to have

an American dream.

I will stand for Blue

when it’s in a song

about suffering and

when walking in someone

else’s shoes.

 

I will stand for fifty billion

stars and that stripe

called the milky way

as I look toward the heavens

& kneel down to to pray.

 

I won’t stand when you

trade blood for oil – &

trap people in cages to

work for you.

 

I will stand with any veteran

of any of your stupid wars

like i’ll stand with all workers

& the disabled when they

are knocking on

freedom’s door.

 

I will stand with the

gay community and all

of their alphabet soup –

my momma didn’t raise

no dummy – to trade

his soul for a

two piece suit.

 

I stand in my grandfather’s shoes

with his red, white and green

cedar tree flag, his brown skin &

Arab blood, he came here

looking up to you!

 

I stand with my German heritage

although my neighborhood has

been sold to the highest bidder!

Who find favor with our mayor

& their LLC’s and doctrines

of prosperity.

 

I’ll stand behind

any Native peoples!

 

– some of them fought

for you –

 

although you pitted them

against each other like you

so often do!

 

I’ll stand anywhere I please

and sit down like Rosa Parks

if need be! This land was

never your land! Do you

remember Wounded Knee?

 

So, America,

get off your high horse

and practice what you

preach – you once

put that flag on the moon

with your ego and

gritted teeth.

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Doomed To Fall

 


I’ve had my Black Elk moment at age 47.

The tree of my people is on fire!

I am dressed in red,

all my prayers have been said

and it seems we are doomed to fall.

 

The masters of war

on the eve of destruction

playing with their battle toys!

The masters of war

on the eve of destruction

boys will be boys.

 

That’s a Bob Dylan and a PF Sloan tune.

Our lessons have not been learned.

My folk music ways, are dying today

and it seems they are going to brand us all.

 

With hell fire like we have never seen!

My, my generation knows not of Japan!

Who against who, in this media zoo?

This land was never our land.


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The Last Poem, At This Table

The last poem
at this table …

Twelve years ago …
this boy was two
and we
moved out
here
on old
plantation
land, close to
Berrytown –

Let us pray …

I sip this coffee
for the last time
rubbing tired hands
nursing a weary mind
looking into a future
out this back window
for the last time.
This place, where
I sat, wrapping boot
laces, worn down,
exhausted but,

proud
to be laboring,
in tradition,
proud to be
taking care of
family.

& now, careful to
not boast that I
am escaping the
plantation.

& like a field
slave, who knew
how to look to the

stars, could
read the code –
I break into the
masters house,
to take my woman
and son, away.

Yet, I wanted to
work here,
build dreams –

my
time,
body
& soul
was
almost
stolen
by
another
man’s
venture.

#railroaded

 

& this place,
fell apart, of
over a decade
not being
able to be here.

I could tell stories
of many a lashing –
isolated lonesome
feelings of being
used –
watching my
friends
raped.

so, what I am
doing –
at this table –
this morning –
is loading up
& taking
all i worked
for, to the
promised land.

The master is
sleeping,
& he will wake
up to find
my wife and
child,
gone!

& yes, i had to
convince
her …

sometimes
she listened to
the other house
slaves who told
of wild men and
woman, planning
an insurrection.
Told, “don’t go –
we have it so
good here.”

(and she,
is the wild one ???
Born of native
blood and spirited
like a wild horse
that has been
tamed by
the deep
dedication
of mothering.)

I, have been called
crazy before …
branded a
traitor …
yet,

(re-learned
the language
of the soil …
became fluent
playing and listening
to the drums speak
when the master
was not looking.
Secretly seeking
council with
elders,
some who
had tried to
leave before
and were to
old to escape
but had
a clear
picture of
where to
run.)
& now, i say
my peace, to
those afraid
to go!
My heart
will always
be with
them …
my work
now,
is to eventually

set them free …

peace be with you …

John Paul

Sunday, July 23rd 2017

Middletown, Kentucky



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