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Featured Poet: Adam Gottlieb

ancient voices



are you hungry for a deeper truth

            than what you have been given?

are you looking for an answer

            to a question that’s been hidden

as to why your life conditions

            seem such limited existence?

are you ready to receive it

            if it’s ready to be given?


…if you look beneath the surface

            there’s a world down here, waiting

there are voices of the ancients

            and a future we’re creating

we’ve been silenced now for centuries

            erased from books and pictures

but we’ve always been here, breathing

            with the earth, speaking to listeners…


we cannot be killed or beaten

for we are the Earth itself

we are blood and bread and poetry

the life in every cell

we are changing tides and seasons

            we are water, wind and flame

we are every heart and conscience

“Revolution” is our name.  











before sunrise

Devon Ave. is dark

except for the 155 bus

i’m on, looking out the window

beside the people

on their way to work


at Sheridan,

a luminescent Chase logo

pierces the night


there are no stars here


on the red line, a man & a woman

are sleeping across from where i sit –

her hands are rough & ashen

clasped on her lap

as she rests on her backpack


in my pocket is a stone

with the word Truth

written on it in sharpie.

i got it from a friend who meditates.

i need to do that more, i think,

the way i did before returning to Chicago

& the grind & hustle, the vortex

of mostly decent people

struggling to be


the front lines of the class war


i mean,

you can’t walk around here without seeing

dozens or hundreds of homeless

folks with nowhere to go

nothing to eat

& people walking by like it’s no big deal,

because they have to –

because you cannot stop & look

at every person on the street

in the eyes, & think about the fact

that that’s a human being

sitting on the sidewalk,

desperate for food or water

or a shower or a place to sleep


& this is a city filled with churches

& Christians!



what a world –

where we don’t even see each other

let alone talk

even though our lives depend on it –

even though the growing mass of dispossessed

could organize to shut this shit down & start anew!


man, i’ll tell you –

only amongst revolutionaries have i found truth,

only poets, dancers, activists,

only homeless, only workers,

only teachers & youth,

shamans & communists

those who dream & build

& write & sing & make love

only those imagining

a new & better earth…



i want to tell you so many things!

but would you believe me

if i told you butterflies made me Marxist

wink by little airborne wink?


or that the Mayan calendar is right on time?

or that we’ll see our freedom one day with our own two eyes?


i only know these things the way i know how to breathe,

the way i experience a thousand tiny miracles each day

that i can’t possibly explain,


like the green spiral universes in the eyes of a cat

named Momo, looking at me as I stroke her on my lap,


or the way the sunlight hits the yellow

leaves of mid October in Chicago

(right before my birthday, incidentally),



what i want to say is this:


i have only ever learned to hear the whispers

like a soft wind off Lake Michigan

pointing the way


i don’t claim to have answers

only this great longing

& wonderment

but i know

if we are honest with each other

& brave



to love,


we will not lose.







on a normal day


walking west from State & Jackson

i pass a homeless person every block


there’s the man who sits in his walker

outside Garrett’s Popcorn, holding his cup,

while the sweet scent of caramel corn fills the air

mingling with gasoline.


this at the feet of the Chase Tower,

the formerly Sears Tower, the Federal Building,

a Federal Reserve Bank, & a Federal prison.


but the whole city feels like a prison.


meanwhile the radio talks about the Cubs

& the history of text sound effects in films


i hate watching the news

or the presidential debates

i hate the sight of cars in traffic,

trash along a curb, or river,

billboards stretching for miles…


but in the midst of this,


a child’s widened eyes,

a room of youth sharing poetry,

            an open mic i love,


            also butterflies & sand,

big trees & the moon,

music, dogs, & activists

(my comrades give me faith…)


& riding buses, trains, or planes,

i like to look around,

& think of everybody there

united by a cause –


caterpillars will transform

& wings will be revealed,

the clouds will part, the sun will show,

& stars will turn their wheels…






Dred Scott


Dred Scott’s buried up the road from Ferguson

Pennies on the headstone / roses for a murdered son

Lincoln past & present / Civil War / we just heard a gun

History repeats, but at least I hope we’re learning some


This is for the slave ships

This is for the fifty schools

This is for the bullets

in the body & the blood that pools

This is for 2008

This is for 2012

This is for 2015

What once was is something else…


I am not the only one

who thought the name “Obama”

would usher in a brand new day

& had their naiveté bombed


& I am not the only one

who sees the system’s dying.

This fascist shit is capitalism’s

last breath –


what crazy timing…  


to be born in 1989,     

right into revolution

children of God /  & all we got

are pens to write solutions


but what a wasted life I’d live

unless I joined the struggle

to win the world for our kids

I’ll risk getting in trouble…

cuz trouble’s getting into me

a thousand Michael Browns

have fallen in this battle

in just two years in my town


& I am not the only one

who knows what is enough

are we not human, after all,

and made of the same stuff?


Cuz Dred Scott’s buried up the road from Ferguson

Pennies on his headstone like roses for a murdered son

Linkin’ past & future / this is war / we keep hearing guns

History repeats, but at least I hope we’re learning some…


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