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“This Year In The Gatherings At The River”

“Old log in the river (see face?)” By pjsixft (“PJ”)

We had intended to share this poem last month, during The Lies That Build Empire, but due to a mixup on our part, it slipped through the cracks. In a way, I’m glad for the new timing. Following last night’s episode in Brooklyn, when New York City police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old black boy (spurring the neighborhood to protest), Lawrence’s poem is an important reminder that the river’s observations, like our own in engaged Buddhist practice, can be open without getting stuck in neutral. While we practice not holding to fixed views, we nevertheless DO see inequality; we DO see injustice; we DO cherish the “Beloved in a World of Strife;” we DO endeavor to disturb the streets, the status quo…

Thank you, Lawrence, for sharing this with us!

metta and solidarity,


This Year in the Gatherings at the River

By Lawrence Wray
for Art McDonald

The river says I know you
mop their floors day and night,
but the winter is too cold
for glass in your windows.

It says I know you serve their meals
in glassy restaurants.  I know you
press their suits, haul away their garbage,
wear their discarded shoes.

The river says I know you nurse
their forgetful, ailing parents,
but in prisons your children make
their wages, as inmates and guards.

It says I know your bodies, blued
and broken, are too expensive to be
doctored, and still I mend your bones
as when you were a child.

And the river says I know your name.
It is a blessing.  It means Beloved
in a World of Strife.  It disturbs the streets
with wild singing.  Of a world of strife,

it says I was, I am, I shall be.  It says I see
the smudge bodies of your dead,
their hands above your face, huddled
and shading the sun from your eyes.

Lawrence Wray is a homeschooling parent of two grade-school age daughters. His poems have been published in Weave, qarrtsiluni, Blood Lotus, and other places. He teaches writing classes at a homeschooling cooperative, and participates in anti-war and peace vigils through the Thomas Merton Center.

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