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Monday, March 20, 2017

Indigenous Physics: The Element Colonizatium

--> Indigenous Physics: The Element Colonizatium



1.      
   The elimination of a substance from a living organism  
follows complex chemical kinetics.
For example, the biological half-life
of water in a human being
is 9 to 10 days, with adjustments
for behavior and temperature.
A quantity of carbon-14 will decay
to half of its original amount after 5,730 years.
After another 5,730 years,
one-quarter of the original will remain.
And so on.

Obviously, the half-life of a substance
depends upon the substance itself –
measure for toxicity, fierceness, sheer venom.
The research at hand for us today, then, is clear:
what is the half-life of Colonizatium? 
Does Colonizatium reduce to half
its initial impact in 500 years?
In 1000 years?
At what point
does Colonizatium become unstable?
Is the half-life of Colonizatium constant over the lifetime
of an exponentially decaying
Indigenous body?

2.      
   To quote a famous Indigenous physicist, sometimes there are complications.

The decay of a mixture of two or more materials,
which each decay exponentially but with different half-lives,
is not exponential.
Take nuclear waste.
Imagine a mixture of a rapidly decaying element A,
with a speedy half-life of 1 second, 
and more gradual decaying element B,
with a half-life of 1 year.
In minutes, almost all atoms of element A will have decayed
after repeated reductions by half, but
very few of the atoms of element B will have done so,
as only a small percentage of its half-life has elapsed. Thus,
the time taken for such a mixture to fall to half its original value
cannot be easily calculated.

The element Colonizatium is much like nuclear waste:
an unequal mixture of toxic events
with wildly different half-lives.
Start with invasion, war, starvation, rape, murder-
Indian boarding schools, reservations, outlawed religion,
        shame.
Include an on-going bombardment of toxic events
over a period of decades:
termination, adopting-out, domestic violence, poverty,
substance addiction, incarceration rates, diabetes,
blood quantum debates, history books, mascots,
white shamanism, fake ndns,
anger.
A periodic table of traumatic elements.

3.      
   Given the difficulties
in determining the half-life of Colonizatium,
we might argue the necessity of redirecting
our efforts into other
more profitable calculations. 
However,
despite the probalistic nature of the inquiry,
this as-yet-undiscovered formula
is thought to be paramount for our research
into a chronological prediction
of the Post-Colonial state. Recent studies
indicate that the mixing of elements in unequal toxicities
and immeasurable psycho-social dynamics may best be gauged
not in mathematics
or statistics
or theoretical constructs,

but in the three Indigenous elements
Story, Dance, and Song.

In other words,
Deep Science of a pre-Colonial origin
such as
formulas and algorithms encoded
within ceremonial circles, drums or clappersticks,
the spiraled helix notes of song,
diagrams of precise footsteps
on discrete portions of empowered earth;
stories plotted like fractal geometry,
the patterned asterisms of stars,
chemical kinetics hammered out
on the bodies of rocks.

Key to such explorations –
the re-discovery
of a fourth Indigenous element:
Dreaming –

a component long rumored to exist but considered lost,
or perhaps simple fantasy.
It is neither.

Preliminary work that combines Dreaming
with the three known elements
reveals two astonishing facts:
First) a Post-colonizatium status is, in fact,
impossible to achieve.
Second) Story, Dance, Song and Dreaming
do not calculate nor predict
the half-life of Colonizatium.
Rather,
when applied to the Colonized subject,
these four elements
hasten decay of Colonizatium,
pull the heavy history into themselves,
break it down
the same way maize, mustard greens, pennycress,
sunflowers, Blue sheep fescue, and canola plants
transform heavy metals.
The same way water hyacinths suck up mercury, lead, cadmium,
zinc, cesium, strontium-90, uranium and pesticides,
the same way Bladder campion accumulates copper,
Indian mustard greens concentrate selenium, sulphur, chromium.  
The same way the willow tree, Salix viminalis
absorbs uranium and petrochemicals.
And –
once the willow’s bio-mass concentrates the heavy metals,
once Story, Dance, Song and Dreaming do their work,
the willow rods should be woven
into baskets
in what might be called
a miraculous exponential,
were we not, of course, privy to the facts.

We must revise our aim, therefore, toward rapid
decay of Colonizatium,
or, De-Colonization.

4.      
   Start with Story.
Work your way
home.

Huwa.



Deborah A. Miranda

Saturday, March 11, 2017

"Anger is loaded with information and energy" - Audre Lorde




Anger has its roots in grief. 

Old Norse, in fact, gives us “angra,” meaning “to grieve, vex, distress.”  Old English, “enge,” means “narrow, painful.”  In Latin, “angere” is to throttle, to torment. Old Norse also gives us “angr-lyndi,” a word for sadness, low spirits. 

I feel rock-tumblers in my heart, in my belly, those old machines my grandfather had out in his workshop, screwed to the bench.  Rocks went in rough and ugly, heavy with history but not much else.  When Tepa opened the little doors – sometimes a week later – the beauty of those rocks astonished me.  Deep greens, ocean blues, bright bronzes and gold. How did that happen?! I’d wonder.   

It’s the grit, the water, the tumbling, he’d say.  The pretty colors were there all the time.  This statement might be the closest my literal-minded grandfather ever came to crafting a metaphor.

My anger is tumbling, tumbling, tumbling.  Ugly rocks: fury, impatience, resentment, despair. The grit is my grief, my distress, my pain.  The water, my torments let lose.  And in the meantime, I have angr-lyndi – sadness.  My spirit is low, sometimes crawling on the ground, sometimes just sitting there, overwhelmed by gravity.

Oh, angr-lyndi: you are a word way too pretty for the feeling you conjure. Maybe you’ve been tumbled a few thousand years, a few billion turns.  

Maybe my anger has years yet to tumble; but I swear to you, I am making something transcendent out of it.  I swear to you, I am polishing my anger until its earthly beginnings dazzle your eyes with celestial hues.  I swear to you, someday, you will want to hold my fabulous, gleaming anger in your hands, marvel at the colors I've released from inside such raw skin.  

Someday, you will pay for the chance to gaze upon my anger, but I will offer it to you as a gift.

Deborah A. Miranda

Monday, March 6, 2017

WORDS FOR WATER at the Whitney Museum, NY

On March 5, 2017 I had the honor to be part of Words for Water, a multi-genre performance by Indigenous women held at The Whitney Museum in New York.  


Comprised of storytelling, poetry, live music, prose, video poem and music video, the evening gave back to me an essential, but lately lost, sense of belonging and collective strength. I have been struggling under the weight of personal grief and national mourning, of anger and hopelessness in the face of a great tragedy-in-progress.  And even though I knew with my mind it was not true that I was suffering alone, my heart, my body, felt alone anyway.

Last night infused me with the knowledge - in heart, mind and spirit - that I am not alone, that I am part of a dear, dear community of Indigenous women who put their hearts on the line every day, every hour, alongside mine.  Last night we linked arms and sang our resistance song, which is a love song, which is our Mother's song, a wild composition of fierceness, of tenderness, of longing and holding and celebratory reclamation.  We are each just exactly who we are: seeing the world from our human perspective, offering our best gifts in open hands with our own unique touch.  All different - Lakota, Ojibway, Muscogee/Creek, Mojave, White Mountain Apache, Metis, Esselen/Chumash - could we be any more different?! - and yet, meeting on the common ground of aching, unrelenting love for this planet, who is the Mother we cherish as we must learn to cherish our own bodies, the bodies she made, the bodies in which She is present.

Our purpose, officially, was to draw attention to, and make manifest in the world, the courage and horror of Standing Rock, and the ways in which these threats to clean water from fossil fuel development and dependency are, quite literally, suicide. But it is also matricide, it is also a contribution to the murder of the complex being of Earth.  And it is also the reinscription of colonization's primary crime: the rape of women, the trafficking of women's bodies, and the rape and desecration of our Mother's body through fracking and oil extraction.

Last night we engaged in the greatest resistance of all:  love.  

To love ourselves, as women; to love one another as women, companions, lovers, sisters, mothers, daughters, granddaughters; to love the bodies that hold our spirits, our female bodies that are so despised by corporations, by patriarchy, by institutions - this is an effort so great, we cannot do it alone, not even in the deepest prayer, not even with the most determined intentions.

We need each other.  When we try to live disconnected from one another, locked into my work, my life, my responsibilities, my writing, my music, my art, we will fail.  We will fail, and we will fail alone.  

This must be our work.  Our lives, our responsibilities, our writing, our music, our art.  

We come from the earth, every bit of us, every mineral, ever molecule of water, every starburst of soul.  And the earth created us in Her image: a vast pulsing network of rhizomes, spiderwebs, veins; we breathe and pray and exist as one multitude, one community.

Talking with Jennifer this morning, she helped me articulate this sensation of collaborative connection even further.  "As each person went up to the stage, if felt like she was the center," she said, "and yet, we were all the center . . . "

YES.  The center kept shifting, cycling through each of us.  We each took a turn being central to the ceremony, the song; bearing that center, carrying the weight of that larger moving, circulatory ceremony.  And then we would pass that center on to the next woman, for her to add her own irreplaceable words.  Thanks to the hours, days, weeks Natalie and Jennifer spent planning, thinking, crafting the evening, that movement was seamless and loving, every single time.  Until Laura's exquisite, radical violin voice brought us around to home, to completion of a ceremony we could only have attempted as many coming together as one.

Last night, I remembered that.  Last night, it was remembered for me by my sisters Natalie, Layli, Toni, Laura, Jennifer, Heid, Louise, Joy.  Last night was a ceremony for resurrecting the lost, the grief-stricken, the dead.  Last night was our renewal ceremony, an offering not just for ourselves, not just for our communities, not just for our audiences both in the flesh and on livestream, but to Her.

Some moments go beyond prayer.  Some moments are a vow.  Last night, we took that vow.  We will love You with every bit of our fiercest abilities.  We will be relentless and joyful and yes, we will be women who love ourselves so that we may better love You.

Nimasianexelpasaleki.


Layli Long Soldier, Laura Ortman, Deborah Miranda, Natalie Diaz, Jennifer Foerster, Toni Jensen.  With gratitude to Megan Heuer of The Whitney Museum for her vision, guidance & loving support.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Companion




Companion

Talk to me about loneliness. Tell me what you know about this shy, common creature. She seems small, powerless; how is it that I am pinned to the earth by a single glance from those keen eyes? How does she steal my voice away with one brutal tilt of her head? I’ve seen the way you run your hand across her soft grey pelt, absent-mindedly, as rain comes down outside the walls of your house way out on the edge of the known world. I’ve heard you singing to her late at night, your family asleep in other rooms, their beloved bodies curled under quilts and cedar-scented dreams. You know more about her than you let on. I’ve seen that scar on the back of your neck where loneliness picked you up like a stray cub, shook you hard, knocked you back on your heels. Her teeth marked you, didn’t they? Loneliness got into your blood then. Now she walks around inside you. Teach me how to live with that second shadow; not the one you were born with, but the one that found you, later. How do you bear her clumsy weight? Do you know any secret ways to slip out from under her claws? Tell me what you know about loneliness; her weaknesses, her flaws. She stalks me all day long. Circles, closer and closer. Tell me what you know. Maybe then, I won’t feel so alone.

Deborah A. Miranda

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Eating a Pear on the Front Porch, Late February





Eating a Pear on the Front Porch, Late February



Bird songs like sweet nothings, or your mother coming into the room when you’re having a bad dream.  She swoops over your trembling body and croons, “it’s all all all right little one!”  Off to the West, angles of azure and delicate clouds spread a deep yes you want to fall into, oh sky the color of infatuation, of throwing caution to the wind.  But over to the East, there’s no sky at all, only Mordor on the march like a storm of orcs, and they have blades with thunder and lightning embedded in the steel. You sit on the porch with two dogs, both gray of muzzle; one bears the pink scars of cancer. They sleep that blessed dog sleep of simplicity, paws twitching, a tail thwacking against the deck.  You eat a pear with skin reminiscent of fall maple leaf colors: brightly tender salmon, deep golds.  The flesh is a manifestation of giving, so you take.  Lick your fingertips of sticky juice, watch the clouds roll in closer, feel the temperature drop like someone opened a walk-in freezer.  Your porch stands exactly where the two skies meet: this house, the cusp of everything.  Don’t think about climate change, or water wars, or the leaflessness of a Spring that has come too early.  Listen to the birdsong, the whistle of mourning dove wings in mating flights.  Smell rain hovering over your American town like a memory you can’t quite retrieve.  Feed the pear core to that dog at your feet, the one with the scars who wakes up, nudges your hand; scold her when she asks for more.

Deborah A. Miranda

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Real Story

Image may contain: 1 person, textartwork by Andrea Carlson


Real Story

I’m reading Susan Power’s Sacred Wilderness in a local café,
as anonymous as possible in a small town on Saturday
when students crowd the tables with books and laptops,
and tourists drop by between Lee’s tomb and Jackson’s grave.

A silver-haired woman sits next to me at the crowded counter,
props up her Kindle, reads while picking at her blueberry scone
like a little chickadee looking for the best bits.  She eyes
Andrea Carlson’s “Bear Medicine” on the cover of my book;

she thinks I don’t notice.  I do.  I wait.  Finally, she says,
“Can I ask you about that book?” And I give her a bare synopsis.
Four women, lost sons, separation and healing.  Indigenous
literature, I say, of exquisite beauty.  I should have known

better.  “Oh, have you ever read a book called Jaguar Woman?
It was about Indian medicine.  The author’s name was Something
Andrews, I think.”  Without missing a beat, I provide that author’s
first name, outline the problematics of White Shamanism,

including economic colonization.  “You mean she’s fake?!”
The woman pulls back a little.  “Yep,” I say.  After a few more
awkward pleasantries, we return to our respective reading. 
I think to myself, if I were a good person, I’d ask what she’s reading.

If I were a really good person, I’d offer a reading list.  But some-
times in a small southern town, surrounded by Confederate
shrines and cadets in gray uniforms, hiding out from ICE raid
reports at home in California and down in Texas, from videos

of BIA officers beating an Indian woman who dares protest with
a #NODAPL sign, or a President who is re-writing the Constitution
in Tweets, or even just the arrogant email message from a student
blaming you for his own incompetence, well, sometimes

you want one hour, just one hour please, in the company of women
with names like Maryam, Gladys, Jigonsaseh, Ruby Two-Axe;
some days, I swear, you cannot give one more explanation, one more
lecture.  Some days you want what is sacred to stay sacred –

and this, this is one of those gorgeous, medicinal days.  Amen.


Deborah A. Miranda

Thursday, February 2, 2017

"The New Colossus" = "The New U.S.": a Redacted Poem




Sometimes called black-out or erasure poems, this process involves finding a "new" poem inside a pre-existing piece by covering up parts of the original poem; this "exposes" the new poem.  Here, I've used transparent bars so that the original poem may still be read, heightening the sense of loss and so that the violence to the original poem is, in a way, highlighted rather than hidden.

In this case, I have chosen to call "The New U.S." a "redacted" poem.  The definition of redact in current culture generally means to edit out sensitive or dangerous content (Merriam defines redact as "transitive verb. 1 : to put in writing : frame. 2 : to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release; broadly : edit. 3 : to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release.)  Redaction is often associated with material released by the government.

It seems obvious to me that the welcoming embrace of Lady Liberty in Lazarus' poem has been redacted by current Trump administration political moves.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cab Driver for the Apocalypse



 
Cab Driver for the Apocalypse

She’s not a big tipper.  Still, I come when she calls, pick her up all hours of the night and day; corner of Flood and Ark, under the crumbling Four Horsemen Bypass, outside a fall-out shelter with glowing cement walls.  Sometimes she looks like death warmed over: a ragged, stunning specter who holds out her next destination scrawled on a scrap of paper, ink still smoking.  Other times, her blood-red lipstick matches sharpened stilettos and a spangled dress stitched together with jewels mined from the marrow of Sodom and Gomorra. That’s when she tells me, “Keep the engine running, Luce,” in her throaty, plague-soaked whisper, swivels her legs out the door I hold open, brushes my cheek with hers.  My skin sizzles for hours afterwards, like fat over coals. 

No, it’s not about the money – really.  I like knowing she can depend on me to get her from one event to the next.  I make sure my cab is gassed up, back seat vacuumed, tinted windows closed against intrusions by paparazzi and popes.  Once I had this Archangel go all gangsta on me. Asshole tried to slit my tires with his sword! One toss of that pitchfork I keep between the front seats and he’s over in Bumfuck, Idaho getting crucified by that band of Evangelical Survivalists.  Don’t mess with my Apocalypse, you know?

Anyway, it’s been a while since any trouble like that.  Now my job is mostly trying to avoid brimstone pot holes and those zombie rats on I-666.  Jesus but those suckers are hard to scrub off, and the fleas … Between rides, I hang out at The Antichrist, sip whatever brew is on tap, watch Beast show off his latest tattoo.  For an abomination, he’s surprisingly innovative; that scene he calls “Armageddon” covers his whole chest without once repeating itself.  “Not into motifs,” he says, “got enough of that from my undergrad comp course to last a lifetime.”  The guys laugh, even if we have heard that joke before. 

When my phone rings, my day – or night – really begins.  This time it’s a text.  Just three words:   “Sixth and Trump.” 

No idea where that is, but I’ve got a helluva good GPS.  Can’t keep the Apocalypse waiting.

Deborah A. Miranda