I’m moving into Serene Court on Monday. There were some questions about my move to Happy Valley a few years back; while both monikers may be misleading, so far as I know, neither denote funny farms. Serene Court was built in 1905 as a brick hotel, and converted to apartments shortly thereafter. I’m on the fourth floor corner in a double studio with lots of windows. Some of them look out over the freeway and the grey dome of the Rose Quarter, where Britney Spears played last week.
I Will be sleeping in a desk – there are two ancient Murphy beds that roll out like drawers. One of them has a writing desk built in up above, with cubbyholes and stained glass cupboards. I think I’ll make that one my bed. There’s a maple tree just outside my window, so that’s what I see first.
A few years ago, some photographer friends and I developed a merged media Socratic exploration, termed The Question Project. I brought it up to Bellingham with me when I moved north, and distributed postcards and magnets guerilla style on lampposts and bike racks, windshields and boards. I lost momentum after a bit, but I didn’t forget it.
It’s been resurfacing in my consciousness lately, the wish to reach a broad spectrum of the population with the notion that it’s okay not to be sure, and to discover the truth of your own experience through the process of questioning yourself. I suspect that we are channels of energy made sentient to the degree that we are open to receiving and giving qi in our interactions with people and life forms. We may be sentient to the degree that we recognize sentience in others.
And sentience cannot be dictated, perhaps it can only be evoked. Which is the peculiar gift of poetry. So I have a certain desire to print the following poem on quarter page fliers and distribute them in the guise of The Question Project. To post broadsides, like Thomas Jefferson did.
Kings and Queens of Cascadia
To which entity
of organismic consciousness
will you sacrifice your life?
Which aspect of spirit will you embody?
You kings and queens rising to power
by right action, right livelihood.
You who would resist the status quo
by whatever means necessary,
to what will you pledge?
Will it be to the gods that are mountains?
Pachamama’s high Andes, and the Cascade range
those resting volcanos, those meridian points:
Ranier, Hood, Baker, and Shasta,
with their backs to the flatland plains.
Will you speak to them in their old names?
Will it be to watersheds?
So that again the rivers may be life force
moving with the flush and feed of tide and snow.
Will you give yourself, that the tracks of grimy
tears: the Columbia, the Nooksack, the Snake
may run clean across the landscape?
Will you speak in the language of lumber
and timber, or will you speak of trees?
Suislaw, Quinault, Hoh – the old forests –
will lend you their voices if you listen.
Will you lend them your breath to speak
to the people about what is priceless?
Will you see yourself as Leader?
In whose dialect?
Will you speak in poverty’s tongue
when you reason with the masters?
Will you give up on reason
and call it out on the table?
Will you remind us of our capacities as human beings,
to be both greatly cruel and extremely kind?
And also how fragile, remind us,
are these hearts that keep pounding in our chests.
Can you point out our oversights and small-
nesses without wounding us further?
Will you speak up?
Beyond your voice is the voice
of the first peoples of land and water.
And if you can hear it, there is only your voice
with which you can speak.
You who are Sacrifice by virtue
of your willingness –
stand for life in all its color and sound,
and move through it with ease.
Add your laughter to the din.
Will you be music?