Roti’s Artist Statement, in French, painted over, and this is a double sin as it explained the wall painting very well. In French, so the so- called leadership probably couldn’t read it. Ignorance tends to destroy things they can’t understand, but the rest of us, who can, suffer.
I am working on ‘Book II’ of “The Nightingale’s Song”, and hope to publish some of it on this blog soon. So I am taking some time to post some poetry.
I am wrapped up in the further study of Tengus, weaponery and other dangerous things that go into this part of “The Nightingale’s Song” but am also taking some serious time to study Shintoism and to flesh out Lord Jizo and some other deities of Shinto belief system.
Yesterday was not a good day. I stepped on a coiled copperhead but didn’t get bitten, even when I reached down and grabbed his tail, thinking it was a garden snake. It was a 14 inch copperhead, common in the South. He got away and when I thought about it, he was doing me a favor. Then I stuck my hand in the mailbox and pulling out the mail, my hand and arm was covered by red ants. The biting kind.
So, I think I need to stay indoors and read for a few days. At least until the itching subsides.
This poem turned out to be rather controversial, but so it goes. I wrote it to try to counter the ignorance of some community ‘leaders’ (and community residents) in their destruction of a startling wall painting commissioned by Living Walls in Atlanta by an acclaimed International French artist, Pierre Roti. But so what. Art, and especially public art, is generally controversial, especially when faced with religious ignorance and intolerance. And I’m not saying that this was an ‘easy’ painting to understand. But there was basically no attempt to discuss this. These community leaders, and Douglas “What? That’s not my cocaine in my wallet!” Dean was one of them , but there were more, including two art hating and ignorant council thugs. They painted over the long painting with no interest in any discussion. That this was illegal didn’t bother them one bit. Barbarians in our midst.
“Snakes in the ‘Hood” is from a manuscript “Pitcher of Moon” , presently lost somewhere in the Arizona desert.
SNAKES IN THE ‘HOOD
“When people see a snake, they think a serpent.
When they think serpent, they see Satan”
….former State Rep. Douglas Dean.
Oh, my dear garden snakes,
Run and hide in the leaf litter!
You appear each spring as if birthed from that old stump,
Your beautiful duns and browns and moss greens
Intermingling with last year’s fallen leaves.
I remember wearing you as divine jewelry
Around my slender wrists as a child.
You terrified the adults
but transformed me into Cleopatra.
I remember a box under my bed
Disturbed by a dust mop,
And a dozen of you slithered out
Felt the 200 year old wooden floors,
Cold on your bellies.
The handler of the dust mop screamed
And I never could find you all.
Did you disappear out that window
Where you would have dropped 30 feet to the ground?
I mourned for those missing
And learned adults didn’t have the tolerance
Of children for the miracles of nature.
Later I remember eating blackberries from
A stand of rambling bushes,
Warmed by the July sun
Of the North Carolina mountains
And below me a cotton mouth doing the same.
I backed up out of fear and respect,
But the blackberries were good
And enough for both to share.
I remember the black racers
That hung in the pine trees
And we, daring each other
To run under them,
Hoping one of us would get squeezed
In your embracing coils
But it never happened.
You knew our game.
In other cultures you snakes
Symbolized the umbilical cord
Joining all humans to Mother Earth.
In ancient Crete
You were the guardians
Of the Goddess’ great mysteries
Of birth and regeneration.
The Hopi Indians
Joined the snake of the Sky Spirit
With the snake of the Earth
And dancing with them in great reverence,
Loosened them into the fields
Where the golden corn was growing
To bless and secure their fertility.
No garden hoe will touch you,
My dear little garden snakes,
No stoning of your innocence,
I will gather your twine-ing bodies
And lift you above the ignorance of bigotry.
They violate their God’s dictates
“Even to the lesser of you amongst us”
And you, without limbs or voice are surely that.
If not beloved by God, surely you will be beloved by me.
Tags: "Snakes in the Hood", "The Nightingale's Song" Book II, 'The Nightingale's Song', artistic freedom whivh isn't exactly, controversial art, Japanese life in the 17th Century, Living Walls in Atlanta, poetry, religious ignorance, so-called community leaders, Tengus!