Climbing PoeTree, on a Long, Summer’s Day

29 Jul

Some days are so long. Some days being an activist takes all the energy you have, and some that you don’t. Some days you get up in the morning and think about the moment, 12, 14 or 16 hours later, when you will get to be still again. But sometimes, on those long days, there’s an unexpected gift from the universe.

Yesterday was, for me, a very long day. A day full of long strategy meetings, wonky conference calls, sticky summertime heat, and subway cars with no air conditioning.

But then, many hours on, the day found its purpose. At a fund-raising event for a women’s human rights group, held in a community garden on the lower east side of Manhattan, at about 9pm I heard 3 poems from Climbing PoeTree. They made the entire day worth it.

They are Alixa and Naima, two fierce poets/activists/artists/visionaries who spent the past year touring the country with a show called “Hurricane Season: The Hidden Messages in Water.” See for yourself.

They read, among other poems, “Being Human.” You can read it below, but I urge you to listen to it in Naima’s own voice here (Just click “Listen.”)

If you’ve had a long day of your own, what you need is just this kind of visionary thinking and beautiful imagery, and unrelenting faith in the power of art that can change the world. Enjoy.


I wonder if the sun debates dawn
some mornings
not wanting to rise
out of bed
from under the down-feather horizon

If the sky grows tired
of being everywhere at once
adapting to the mood swings of the weather

If the clouds drift off
trying to hold themselves together
make deals with gravity
to loiter a little longer

I wonder if rain is scared
of falling
if it has trouble letting go

If snow flakes get sick
of being perfect all the time
each one trying to be one-of-a-kind

I wonder if stars wish
upon themselves before the die
if they need to teach their young to shine

I wonder if shadows long
to once feel the sun
if they get lost in the shuffle
not knowing where they’re from

I wonder if sunrise and sunset
respect each other
even though they’ve never met

If volcanoes get stressed
If storms have regrets
If compost believes in life after death

I wonder if breath ever thinks
about suicide
I wonder if the wind just wants to sit
still sometimes
and watch the world pass by

If smoke was born knowing how to rise
If rainbows get shy back stage
not sure if their colors match right

I wonder if lightning sets an alarm clock
to know when to crack
If rivers ever stop
and think of turning back

If streams meet the wrong sea
and their whole lives run off-track
I wonder if the snow wants to be black

If the soil thinks she’s too dark
If butterflies want to cover up their marks
If rocks are self-conscious of their weight
If mountains are insecure of their strength

I wonder if waves get discouraged
crawling up the sand
only to be pulled back again
to where they began

I wonder if land feels stepped upon
If sand feels insignificant
If trees need to question their lovers
to know where they stand

If branches waver in the crossroads
unsure of which way to grow
If the leaves understand they’re replaceable
and still dance when the wind blows

I wonder where the moon goes
when she is hiding
I want to find her there
and watch the ocean
spin from a distance
Listen to her
stir in her sleep

effort gives way to existence

One Response to “Climbing PoeTree, on a Long, Summer’s Day”

  1. [dave] July 30, 2010 at 8:22 AM #

    those two poets are earth-shatteringly amazing. i saw them a couple years ago at the lizard lounge in cambridge and they are astounding ….

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