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Wednesday, October 15, 2008


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Early autumn chill
Sleeping in our tent by Green Creek
The talking waters waking us
Again and gain
The need to pee
Waking us again and again
Crawling out of our bags
Grabbing a flashlight
Slipping on our shoes
Going outside in the ancient dark
The bigness and brightness
And many-ness of the stars
Make us gasp
Make us laugh
Steam rises from our pee
On the ground

Back inside the tent
Old questions return
How is it that we are the ones here
Sleeping and waking
In the clear cold night air
At seven thousand feet
Far from invasions and occupations
Surrounded by mountains and stars
And are not grandparents in Fallujah
With no grandchildren left
And are not family farmers in India
Driven to suicide
By the Free Market
And are not among the two billion
Living on a dollar a day
(Those who say we are all of these
From a safe distance
Are not to be trusted)
How is it that we are the ones
Not in barrios and favelas and on reservations
Are not the ones in brothels
Are not the ones in prison
How do we explain this
What can we do
How shall we live

Waking up once more
As the sky lightens
But staying in our bags until
The sunlight finds our tent
Under the aspens
Dressing then and brushing our teeth
Boiling water on our Coleman stove
Sitting on a boulder
Out on the sage-covered open ground
Drinking lemon ginger tea
Above us in the brightening day
Two Air Force fighter jets
Streaking across the sky

Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.