Monthly Archives: December 2013

the prison industrial complex

Day 92

Feeling sad tonight.  That life can’t be easier.

My father in law is in jail.

As a child of the islands he ran barefoot,

and never went to school past 6th grade.

Loves buttered bread and hot coffee,

gave my husband his strong hands and clever mind,

his warm heart too.

He has golden brown skin, and crinkles next his eyes when he smiles,

eyes that are always sad.

I see him reflected in Wil’s eyes, when he looks at me,

and now,


my son’s.

Locked up 23 hours a day,

for crimes he committed, sure,

petty theft, common crookedness,


Due to circumstances that left him no choice,

Cultural, socioeconomic, psychological.

A different kind of survival.

Separation from land and culture,

leaves deep wounds,

emptiness that just can’t be filled.

And all we have to give a man with broken- ness inside,

is bars,

3 squares a day,

a bible,

cold floors.

And more broken-ness.

Ours is a system that rejects,

instead of rehabilitates,

exploits instead of educates.

A system created to subjugate,

separate, isolate, and manipulate.

The ones who need our help the most,

we throw to the wolves,

watch as the buzzards slowly pick them apart,

and their bones bleach white in the sun.

A grown man should not have to beg

for freedom.

Fallen through the cracks, yes.

But what happens when the cracks are so large,

there’s nothing left to stand on?

The slave trade is alive and well.

Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.”

Follow the money as usual I suppose,

the slave owners may look different now,

but the shackles are the same.

Biting into wrists and ankles,

cold, heavy, shiny steel,

wrapped around our hearts.

Thank you for listening,



photo by wilson alvarez

photo by wilson alvarez




A permanent culture; welcome to Permaculture

Day 91

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

As we move away from the culture of destruction, we must move towards something else.

A new culture based on sound ecological principles, regenerative land practices, and care for the earth.

Many people, including myself, believe permaculture can provide us with the blueprint we need to create a  new earth-connected culture.

Based on indigenous knowledge, natural systems and native science, the design methodology is made up of 3 ethics and 12 principles. When these tenets are applied to the world around us it is possible to design landscapes, ecosystems, towns, cities, communities, and whole cultures in a way that is harmonious with nature, people, and life itself.

I am challenging myself to work with these principles over the next several months.

I want to study them, play with them, experiment with them, apply them.

Critique them, connect to them, learn them by heart.

And I’d like to invite you to learn along with me.

Below are the 3 ethics, and the 12 principles.

Let’s throw our selves into them with great abandon,

Learn from experts, each other, books, online, and in the field,

And see if we can use permaculture as a jumping off point to build a new world.

And as usual, we’ll start small, and do it together.

Welcome to the permaculture principles.


Here we go.


The Ethics:

  • Care for the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
  • Care for the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
  • Fair share: Setting limits and redistributing surplus. 

Here are the twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:[9]

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

Thank you for listening,



Go feral, heed the call

Day 90

  1. 1.
    (of an animal) tame and kept as a pet or on a farm.
    “domesticated dogs”
  1. 1.
    (esp. of an animal) in a wild state, esp. after escape from captivity or domestication.
    “a feral cat”
    Photo by Michelle Johnsen

    Photo by Michelle Johnsen

    I am no pet.
    No one’s lap dog,
    begging at the feet of her master for food, water, love.
    There is no collar around my neck, no leash to hold me back.
    I am not tame, mild mannered, subdued.
    I am snarling, salivating muscle, coiled like a spring.
    Ready to
    My water runs free down the mountains,
    my food is rare, ruby blood organs steaming in the open air.
    My love comes wild, under a bright white moon.
    Howling, ravaged, riled.
    I am no farmer’s horse,
    back swayed under the weight of rider,
    heavy, oppressive, broken.
    Running circles around rings,
    eyes locked, head down.
    I am unbridled energy,
    heaving flanks and stamping feet.
    My hooves fly,
    over water, over stone,
    over earth.
    Body free,
    by saddle, harness,
    I am no house cat,
    belly full,
    catnip stupor.
    Gazing longingly through windows,
    soft paws clutching air.
    My claws are razor sharped talons tipped with barbs,
    I am lean, stealthy,
    My meals are served
    on soil plates,
    feathers, fur, bones, and blood,
    Fear on four legs,
    I am no sheep,
    following flock,
    shepherd tended,
    stupid, afraid.
    I am Bighorn,
    Nimble, fast on mountaintop,
     shepherded by wind and rain,
    green grass,
     open sky.
    Courageous, bold, and brave.
    photo by Wilson Alvarez

    photo by Wilson Alvarez

    I am no cog in this monster machine,
    there is no noose around my neck, no stockings on my thighs.
    I am not swayed by their shiny things,
    I do not do as I am told.
    My life does not tick by
     tired, listless,
    bored and
    My body is free,
    to move, to dance, to walk to sing.
    My neck wears the mark of a thousand sun kissed summers,
    chocolate freckles,
    golden tan.
    My thighs are strong and sultry, smooth skin against smooth skin.
    they are things of beauty,
    let me jump, and run, and swim.
    This life is roaring waterfalls and burning volcanoes,
    Insect song on summer nights,
    sharp crisp cold of freshly fallen
    loud, quiet,
    photo by Wilson Alvarez

    photo by Wilson Alvarez

    I am wailing war cry,
    and hushed whisper,
    looking out,
    and turning in.
    Locked in passion,
    with this wild,
    wide, and wonderful world.
    Go feral,
    Heed the call.
    Thank you for listening,
    photo by Yank

    photo by Yank

    Thank you Sarah H. for your intoxicating words in our guest post  tonight. Delicious, earthy. real. May we be consumed by our passions. I love you.

    The following is by Sarah H.

    you are my lover:

    we play

    “Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

    “The supreme guru played with time and space, as a child plays with bubbles.”

    Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

    “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

    Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

    “If I were rain; that joins sky and earth, that otherwise never touch, could I join two hearts as well?”

    ― Tite Kubo, Bleach, Vol. 01: The Death and The Strawberry

    the moon was full

    and there were storms-

    that passed us in our sleep…

    some awoke


    water roaring into rotted eaves.

    a kiss to see the blanket leaves;

    the last jeweling,


    hard-warm, red trees

    before the skeleton months…

    exposed arborous limbs-

    scratch feelings into things…

    and from the elements, all one and unattached;

    chipped finger nails,

    tight neck and back

    half cold-

    half hot- holds

    the memories

    that spark and jolt

    our strands and bands

    of dna

    the world

    so very



    while every lover i’ve ever loved

    feeds me an alluring

    bursting bud;

    fichus sprawling

    sound of foot chewing cud


    bio exo


    fall movement…

    spliced analog reels

    fast forward and rewound to-

    the steep slope we sporadically scaled.

    hopping out!

    to keep our horny hands concealed-


    and out of breath…

    to the top, far from town-

    4-ways blinking

    bliss back down…

    smoky now november

    saturation clouds-

    two shrieking shadows

    iconic undiscovered owls

    on the rims and panels fold

    listening to the radio’s slow molecule tone

    each other’s radio…

    to “noise against fascism”

    ‘roll-our-eyes’ bands




    sickeningly sweet sex

    all over the seats

    the stars

    the lakes

    the roads

    the roads

    the roads

    `borderless eyes…

    healing walks before all the new neighborhoods blocked the sky.

    two-twined in one sleeping bag…

    smelling you for the first time.



    imagination talk-

    funneling, low lit days…

    jet streams some amnesia-sweatered


    long experimental lies in bed…

    dyes of the eternal-

    fix us-

    break us-


To the rock writers, people of the Petroglyphs

Day 89

In the Susquehanna River, not very far from here,

there is a rock,

a tiny island really,

with pictures carved in stone.

Created by the ones who went before,

hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of years ago, scientists are not sure.

Left as signs, as maps, boundary markers, prayers, lessons, or stories, the purpose is not clear.

I like to think the truth is all of the above, and more.

Thank you to the people of the carvings,

the rock writers,

who left their stories in stone.

This one is for you.

This river is very beautiful.

It is so wide! Shimmering and quite shallow in spots.

Yet dangerous, quick, and unpredictable too, made more so by the many dams built to harness

a great power.

I can see from the pictures here these things were important to you.

Animals, birds, people, water,

tracks, the angle of the sun.


They are important to me too.

It’s very different here now, since you’ve gone. I wonder if you’d recognize it.

The old hunting grounds are criss-crossed with roads, black rivers that boil in the sun.

The Elk have gone. Perhaps in search of safer space,

I can picture them laying still, waiting, waiting, for things to change.

But the deer are still plentiful. And so fat! You’d marvel at the thick tallow on the inside of their skin, around the kidneys, a snow white layer.

They are still corn fed. No, not the many colored maize your people held so sacred. Large corn, tall and straight, uniform in color. Lab corn, chemist made, patented by Monsanto. Do we still hold the corn ceremony each year? No, no, I’m afraid, we are not allowed to save these seeds. Yes, I know it is hard to understand. We’ve forgotten much, and are very lost.

But these maps you’ve made, here in the river. Maybe they can help us find our way. Already they are working. On this day, the longest night, your signs have led me here.

I see that the serpents, longer than a man, you carved, point to the path of the sun. Align with the angle of our bright star on each day marking the seasons’ turn. Winter solstice sunrise, summer solstice sunset. The spring equinox and the fall. The autumnal one is special to me, my sweet son was born on that day. Yes! He is a great joy to me.

Awareness, this teaches. The magic of observation. How many days did you sit at your spot? How many years, decades, centuries, generations did it take before you could recall by memory the exact arc of the sun on these important days? Or was it a sacred journey each season, an adventure to the great rock to record, to draw, to write, to think?

What’s that? Well, yes, I suppose I am a writer too. Why do I write? To process, to inspire, to heal, to give thanks, to pray, to praise.

We are not so very different after all are we?

The bear have also gone. Killed for their rich fat and thick skins, and because my people have a long standing war on predators. Every now and again a young male will wander in from the North or South, exploring, seeking new lands, new territories, new opportunities. They are usually shot or relocated. We do not like to share.

And the fish are not so well. We cannot eat them anymore. Many of them are sick, with lesions on their skin. We have cut many trees so the water is too hot, have filled the river with chemicals, poisons, terrible things. Trouble things.

But the birds are many, plentiful. The Canada Geese still dot the sky, and the snow geese fly through each year. A snowy owl was even spotted this year. People were excited to see! and the songbirds, Wood Thrush, Cardinal, Blue Jay, Crow. Sparrow, Bluebird, Robin. Swallow. Goldfinch. Kingfisher. And some new varieties, House Sparrow, Starling, Rock Pigeon.

The Eagles make their nests along these banks, look for fish in the waters. And hawks. Vultures too. The slow and meticulous Great Blue Heron. He’s a great hunter, you know. And the owls. Barn, screech, great horned. Creatures of the night.

There are some beavers, muskrats. Minks. The otters have gone for better fishing. I hope they are well.

This is a beautiful land. The soil is very rich. Thank you for taking care of it. I imagine you must have been very happy here, in your home.

I think of you tonight, as soon the sun will sweep over the lines you so lovingly carved in the rock.

So we might see,

So we might know,

So we might remember.

Thank you.

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

To learn more about the Susquehanna Petroglyphs and the people who made them please visit:

Thank you for listening,



photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

i love you i’m sorry please forgive me thank you

Day 88

May it be our mantra.

Our prayer.

Our poem.

Our song.

Our offering.

My tears run freely. My heart is broken.

The hoʻoponopono:

I love you please forgive me thank you I’m sorry.

I love you please forgive me thank you I’m sorry.

I love you please forgive me thank you I’m sorry.

I love you please forgive me thank you I’m sorry.

I SEE you. I HEAR you. I KNOW you. I LOVE you.

Let it be tattooed on our arms and spray painted in the streets.

May it offer us some comfort, some peace, some healing,

some way

of relating to one another,

of taking care of one another,

of breaking down our walls,

and building up

our lives.

May we forgive,

may we be forgiven,

may we never forget.




You are a wild rebel warrior and welcome to the revolution

Day 87


My vision has shifted, my eyes are clear.

I get it now. This is the message.

It is a gift, this knowing.

We stand in the midst of a rebellion.


The corporatocracy doesn’t want us to see it, doesn’t want us to understand,

how many of us there are, how powerful,

how brave.


There are no statisticians to count us,

no numbers on pages to show.

But there is a uprising slowly growing,

you must listen, be quiet, read between the lines, observe.

There are freedom fighters everywhere.


In the story about tiny houses on the nightly news,

in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, a man, a woman, a grandmother, refusing to buy GMO’s,

it is written on the muscular thighs of your neighbor who commutes to work by bike,

and it’s  sparkling in the eyes of the young woman, handcuffed to branches, tree sitting.

It’s in books, and art, and music,

painted on the sides of trains,

signalled in signs.



Against the culture of destruction,

against rabid consumerism,


pain, and suffering, violence, and fear.

Against civilization.


This is a renaissance, a transformation, the dawning of a new day.

This is war without borders,

a battle with no boundaries.


It rages in all nations,

in all places,

in our hearts.


We must fight with weapons of blood and bone,

Let each decision you make, each action you take,

be part of your larger strategy, part of the larger goal.

An overthrow,

Of that which is broken, damaged, dead.

Let us eat clean foods, and filtered water,

talk in whispers and into megaphones,

learn to fight, climb, and run,

know the plants that are good to eat, how to start a seed, how to hunt and butcher animals, wild, free meat.

Know how to start a fire, how to clean poisoned water, how to make simple shelters, waterproof, warm and dry.

Hone your senses.


Let us be so gentle that our children laugh and coo and kiss and play,

and so fierce that the monsters cower at our feet.

Soft like feathers, strong like steel.

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

Fluid, like water.

They want us to believe we are nothing,

but we are something.

Something ancient,

something wild,



There is power in naming. The right name gives the gift of visibility, of power, of strength.

They don’t want us to know it, to believe it, to own it.

to name it.

Name it.


Savor the sound of it on your lips, the tickle of the tongue,

the beat in your heart.

You are a fighter, a warrior, a rebel,


You are brave, and smart, and quick, and good.

They are not.






You are a part of something big, something great, something unimaginably beautiful. After this the world will never be the same.


Stand tall, raise your head up high. Let it be the reason you get up in the morning, the last thing on your mind before you go to bed at night. Know it in your mind, your heart, your muscles, shout it from the rooftops, write it on the walls.


Let it fill your dreams with forests,

dark and light,

smoke and fire,



thunderous rain,



May we find one another,

may we join hands.

may we go wild,

may we


Thank you for listening,



photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

Michelle. You have written something straight from the heart of the earth. Thank you for inspiring me, thank you for supporting me, thank you for your words and your warm heart. I love you. This is truly beautiful. Read this. Feel it. Love it.

Live it.

From Michelle:

Always we are looking to other humans for advice.

May we instead take our hints from the wild ones.

We need to flock like birds, and sing like them.


Burrow together in our nests.

Teach each other to fly.

We need to grow like weeds in waste places, come up between cracks in the sidewalk, climb a building and choke it with our vines.

They’ll label us “invasives”- though we know that we can grow even in the deepest ditch, even between rocks on the train tracks; we know those weeds are still food and medicine.

We can be that food and medicine. We have the ability to begin healing our planet. We need to roam as a pack.

Keep our loved ones away from danger. Guard the flanks. Sound the alarm. Protect fiercely, with all our might.

We watch the beautician at the makeup counter, getting pointers on using blush for our cheeks, but..

Instead, may our cheeks flush early each morning, the cool wind against our skin as the stars are hidden behind their velvet curtain and the copper sun creeps in from the darkness.

May we flush with anticipation, with passion, with rage, with pleasure.

We take a cue in behavior from the person sitting quietly on the train, or at the dentist’s office, but..

Let us walk quietly to our sit spots, wearing down the paths we walk so often, as the deer does, so that we may sit quietly, observe, and remember, and question, and guess.

Let us sit quietly in prayer, in meditation, in mourning.

milkweed close

We raise our hands in class as we’re told- with a question or an answer at the tips of our fingers, pointing up, oh! pick me, pick me, I know this one, but..

May we raise our hands while dancing, spinning, spread them like wings while running, while swimming, praising, or diving down deep for the cool, round stones at the bottom of the river.

May we raise our hands to catch our little ones, raise them to wave high at the crows that cross the city each winter day at dusk.

We punch numbers into a GPS and allow it to guide us across the land toward the people we seek, but..

May our words become our echolocation, pushed out into the environment, gently like feelers, and returning with information for us.

May we locate and identify those who, like us, see that there is so much more to this world than the plastic junk we worship, the electronics we crave, the sports trophies we envy, the clothing we covet.

As an elderly friend once told me, “Burning hearts find burning hearts.” May we use our burning hearts to navigate instead. We might envy the incredible eyesight of the eagle, or the sprinting speed of the cheetah, the strong breadth of the elephant, the olfactory prize that is the bear’s snout, or the keen hearing of the owl, but..

We don’t need the many eyes of the spider to see our many connections to this planet. The question is, are we watching?

The violin and the hunter’s bow, both coaxed gently out of willow.

The drum and soft moccasins, fitted snugly out of hide.

The clock and the human heart, beating, both ticking with time. The tin whistle and the thrush, each ringing with earth music.

In this world of plenty, we can still return to our wild selves.

They are all around us in the rivers, in the treetops, beneath stones, under the belly of the snake, deep in the blue of the sky, in the surf at the edge of the sea, and buried under clay.

Floating under heavy ice, stuck in the hot desert sands.

Let us gather them, tend them, and slip back into them;

Let us raise our hands high with the answer,

Oh! beauty, pick me, pick me, I know this one.

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

A darkness at the edge of my vision

-Day 86

There are things so disturbing my mind still refuses to look at them. Child slavery, rape, murder. Animal cruelty. The sex trade. Torture. War.

Horrible things, unspeakable things. A darkness at the edge of my vision, a cold quivering in the corner of my heart, in the marrow of my bones.

There is real pain, real suffering, all around us, all the time.

Monster maniacs who live only to exact misery on others.

Sick, broken, insane.

This stuff exists. It’s the sadness my own sense of self preservation won’t let me see.

It’s the frozen loneliness of a thousand winters,

ash blotting out the sun.

The closest my mind will let me go right now,

is to hold the hurt ones in my heart, my hands,

to gather them in my outstretched arms and say,

I’m so sorry this has happened to you. We have not done our jobs protecting you. Have not made the world safe for you, kind, beautiful.

Please forgive me. I have not done enough to end your suffering, to find those responsible, to give you the help I know you need, to keep you safe. I feel small, like I can’t help, like I don’t know what to do. But I’m trying to get big, to get brave.

Thank you. For your presence in the world. For your soft smile, and light step. For your pure heart. For your courage and resilience. For your wisdom.

I love you. You are amazing. You deserve better. I wish I could fix everything and take away your pain. I am looking for ways to fix this, to find you, to help you, to hold you.

This civilization is broken, shattered like glittering glass on dark asphalt.

Fragile, like ice,



It is not out of the question,

for us to turn our backs on this dark place,

and move to face the sun.

We hold the keys.

Imagine a million cars, stopped, left to rust and decay,

office buildings, computers still on, desks empty,

factories, motors running,

no one around.

The people,

poured out into the streets,

feet moving in ancient cadence,

following the ancient trails,

long forgotten.

When one suffers we all suffer.

There are whole pieces of me reserved for this dark pain,

and I want them back.

Stop the thing that is stopping us,

end civilization.

Walk away.

Thank you  for listening

Love, Natasha