Page 2 Arts and Justice

Looking towards Port Angeles, Washington from Canada. Photo by Craig Rock

Guest Poet David Bolton

(Editor's Note: David and I lived in San Francisco during the 1970s; he now lives in his hometown of Baltimore. Published with his permission are three poems, a small part of his recently published book, A Mind Full of Nothing. Click here to download his book.)

Not in the Moment

“Be Here Now,” the words of Ram Dass (Richard Albert), helped clarify my life. In these stressful times, it can be difficult to live by those words… only human to peer ahead, to lose sight of what’s at hand.

I’m not in the moment

Made a wrong turn into the future

My anticipation of what can go wrong

Drains me of vitality and positivity.

So easy to fall into this rut

Doubts about projects seep into the brain

During the hour of the wolf and pillow flips

Let’s try a yoga trick.

Lead with the breath, relax the toes

Relax the calves and feet

On the edge of sleep, the mind intervenes

Despite my plea for peace.

Yes, says the hungry ghost, suppose this or suppose that?

You win, I say. I accept this agitation.

This surrender grants a sweet interlude

In dreams, bullies of youth chase me.

Morn brings the sense of spring slipping past

Through the screen I have that far-away stare

blossoms and diaphanous green

tweets of birds, buzz of bees fail to move me.

The mind spins its sticky web

‘round and ‘round it goes

Like a song stuck in the head.


When I did volunteer work at the Gift of Hope in Baltimore, I befriended an older priest who manned the local parish; the rectory and church were at the end of a treeless street with boarded up rowhouses, interspersed with families struggling to survive. One fellow complained about the theft of his grill. “Junkie came into my backyard and made off with it, hot coals and hamburgers.” Couldn’t get much colder than that.

Desperate people, good people, living day to day. When the invasion of Iraq occurred in March of ’03, Father pounded his fist on the kitchen table, wondering why all those wasted billions couldn’t be spent on the poor. Out of that conversation came this poem.

Beware of the “Whited Sepulcher.” (Matthew 23.27)

That Which Is Not

Consider the preacher on TV

Finger thrust toward heaven

Hand grasping the Good Book

he talks

‘bout the narrow gate

‘bout those who are saved

and those in a bad state.

His finger swoops down

cleaving the yea’s from the nay’s

this preacher on TV – secure in his salvation

phone number scrawling across the bottom of the screen.

Lots of people are clamoring for Jesus these days

like they’re old buds with the Redeemer

The football player crossing the goal line

the actor accepting the award

the billionaire pitching the latest tower;

in matters of war, the President takes counsel from above.

From the tarpits of the Carolinas

to the pipelines of Alaska

the Cross is on the march;

let us give praise to intelligent design.

Spiritual materialism

That which is not

Shiva’s dance of destruction and consumption

Perhaps there’s another way

not for the glory of the eternal me

but a path to the universal stream,

imagine a world free of desire

selfless and pure

Be that a dream for the naive?

Buddha chuckles at darkness.

The Maya, calculators of stars,

Found the divine in a mushroom

The universe opens like flowers.

Trees speak. Birds are crying.

See the Dali Lama,

harangued by a Pentecostalist

You’ve got to believe! cries he

The Dali Lama smiles and asks,

If Jesus is love, why the anger?

In the chapel at the Gift of Hope

Sisters in saris rain praise on Mother Mary

Their voices lift this traveler’s spirit

These women tend to the sick, the ex-cons and misfits

Men of the street

Last stop in the slide.

I cook breakfast for the men

A small gift honoring my late wife

Once, as I looked away from the scrapple and eggs

I sensed down the hall an ancient passing

the Carpenter making another call.


And the nightmare continues.

Year of the Muskrat

The muskrat digs its way into a dam

Infestation threatens the foundation

Will there be a flood?

Will there be disaster?

It was an awful year, said the sports analyst

He was not talking about football.

In the gym, the grocery line, at the bus stop

Strangers are impelled to share their blues

Ain’t this somethin’, can you believe it?

We tell our better half not to lose hope

We’ll muddle through

Haven’t we done so in the past?

I remember ’68, cities in smoke

The lies of a president and the loss of faith

Say what we will to mollify the passage

There’s dread in the air

May we be wrong about this decline of civility,

Not to mention democracy and the rise of the racist creed

May this be a passing fancy, an historical fart

But this epidemic of conceit has no inoculation

And the muskrat keeps digging

His small claws churning the bulwark

Burrowing deep into the breach

No more we the people

Time to take to the streets.



A poem by Wilfred Owen 1893-1918

The Unreturning

"Wilfred was an English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War. His war poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare was heavily influenced by his mentor Siegfried Sassoon, and stood in stark contrast both to the public perception of war at the time and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets...." Owen was killed one week before the signing of the Armistice. More on Wikipedia

Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled

Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.

Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled

When far-gone dead return upon the world.

There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.

Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.

But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled;

And never one fared back to me or spoke.

Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn

With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds,

The weak-limned hour when sick men’s sighs are drained.

And while I wondered on their being withdrawn,

Gagged by the smothering wing which none unbinds,

I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.

Human Level Initiative

From the Human Level Website

Promoting Change on the Local Level

Change happens at the local level — the human level. That’s why John Legend is introducing HUMANLEVEL, a new initiative that explores ideas championed by local changemakers, working to communicate them on a peer-to-peer level to city officials, policymakers, and amongst each other. By working within the system to change the system, we can make better advances to breaking the cycle of structural racism and closing the gaps caused by racial inequity.

If we want a better society that works for everyone, not just a few, then it will take all of us working together — community organizers, activists, public service workers, city leaders, and you—to help ignite these changes.

Through HUMANLEVEL, we will create people-driven change and build what’s next. Join us at

Press Release from ProPublica December 16

ProPublica hires editor and selects five newsroom partners for Local Reporting Network

ProPublica announced on Thursday the hiring of Steve Myers as an editor for its Local Reporting Network. Myers will help oversee five new projects as part of the local news initiative. He will start on Dec. 30.

The selected journalists in the Local Reporting Network’s newest round are Bryant Furlow of New Mexico In Depth, Caleb Bedillion of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Ed Williams of Searchlight New Mexico, Anita Lee of the Sun Herald and Richard A. Webster of The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.

Myers is currently an enterprise editor on the Nation team at USA Today, where he leads reporters focused on extremism, criminal justice inequities and quick-turn investigations. Prior to joining USA Today, Myers was editor of The Lens, a nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans, where he oversaw investigations into prosecutors’ use of fake subpoenas and an astroturfing scheme for a new power plant. Myers managed a dozen collaborations with local and national partners, including ProPublica on “Losing Ground,” an award-winning interactive project illustrating coastal land loss in Louisiana. Myers has served as managing editor of Poynter Online, taught journalism as a professional-in-residence at Texas Christian University, and reported at newspapers in Alabama, North Carolina and West Virginia. As a 2019 Nieman Fellow, he studied how nonprofit news sites could adopt community organizing techniques to build stronger ties with readers.

“Steve’s extensive experience working on investigative reporting projects and local newsroom collaborations make him a great addition to the newsroom,” said Sarah Blustain, deputy editor, local, for ProPublica. “We are thrilled to work with him and this talented group of journalists to hold the powerful to account and create impact.”

“I love the Local Reporting Network because it shows what local and national journalists can accomplish together,” said Myers. “I’m eager to get started so we can bring these important stories to light.”

The reporting partners will begin their projects on Jan. 3 and focus on topics that include children, law enforcement, government oversight and environmental issues.

The projects are supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

New Mexico in Depth (New Mexico) — Bryant Furlow

Bryant Furlow is an Albuquerque-based reporter with New Mexico In Depth and a regular contributor to The Lancet medical journal news desks. Bryant has investigated the off-label sedation of jail inmates with prescription drug cocktails, corruption at a rural New Mexico police department and a refinery company's history of safety violations leading up to a deadly, preventable explosion. Working with the Local Reporting Network in 2020, his award-winning reporting exposed racial profiling of Native Americans at a prominent women's hospital and disparities in newborn death rates at New Mexico’s largest maternity centers.

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Mississippi) — Caleb Bedillion

Caleb Bedillion is an investigative reporter and editor with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, where he has been based since 2016. His reporting is focused on criminal justice issues and government accountability and has been cited from the floor of the Mississippi Legislature during debate and featured on MSNBC. In 2019, he was named the top reporter in Mississippi by the Associated Press for his watchdog and public records reporting. He completed a master’s degree in religion and ethics from Yale University’s divinity school in 2015.

Searchlight New Mexico (New Mexico) — Ed Williams

Ed Williams is a staff writer for Searchlight New Mexico, a nonprofit investigative newsroom based in Santa Fe. His investigations into human trafficking, education and abuses within New Mexico’s foster care system have resulted in numerous state and federal investigations. Williams’ reporting has earned multiple awards, including the 2019 Frank Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting and the 2020 Best of the West Award for investigative reporting. He was also part of the team that won the 2020 Sigma Delta Chi Award for COVID-19 reporting. Williams has been a reporter in the United States and Latin America, working for print, digital and radio outlets, including seven years with public radio. He was a 2016 USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellow and earned a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010.

Sun Herald (Mississippi) — Anita Lee

Anita Lee is a staff writer at the Sun Herald on the Mississippi Coast. She has won state, regional and national awards for in-depth and investigative reporting, and was a lead reporter on the Sun Herald’s Hurricane Katrina coverage, which earned the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Lee’s coverage has included judicial bribery, corruption in the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, white-collar crime and civil litigation and local government reporting. A journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, she started her career at The Daily News (Jackson) in the state’s capitol and then worked at The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) before returning to her native Mississippi.

The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate (New Orleans) — Richard A. Webster

Richard A. Webster is a New Orleans-based investigative journalist who will be working with The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate. As a member of the Local Reporting Network in 2020 in partnership with the public radio stations WWNO/WRKF, Webster reported on allegations of abuses and misconduct by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. His reporting helped spur the Sheriff’s Office to implement body cameras, exposed a deputy with a long history of violence who was caught on video attacking a Black woman, and led to calls by the ACLU of Louisiana for the federal government to begin a pattern and practice investigation focused on law enforcement agencies accused of systemic wrongdoing. Webster previously was a member of the Times-Picayune’s investigative team and also covered the criminal justice system and the COVID-19 pandemic for The Washington Post, ProPublica and The Guardian.

Newsrooms and ProPublica

Local reporters will work from and report to their home newsrooms, while receiving extensive support and guidance for their work from ProPublica, including collaboration with a senior editor and access to the nonprofit newsroom’s expertise with data, research, engagement, video and design. The work will be published by the participating newsroom and simultaneously by ProPublica.

ProPublica launched the Local Reporting Network at the beginning of 2018 to boost investigative journalism in local newsrooms. Since then, it has worked with more than 50 newsrooms.

The Local Reporting Network is part of ProPublica’s growing list of local initiatives, which include units in the Midwest, South and Southwest, as well as an investigative unit in partnership with The Texas Tribune.

Press Release Everytown for Gun Safety

New Resource for Journalists on Another Year of Gun Violence

As another year of record city gun violence comes to a close, Everytown for Gun Safety has released a new resource addressing recent increases in gun violence and outlining ways policymakers at the local, state and federal level can respond in 2022.

The resource, titled 2021: A Deadly Year in Cities — And How Policymakers Can Respond, details a number of factors likely contributing to increased gun violence, including:

  • Many local gun violence intervention programs experienced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic, including strained funding, loss of support services on which at-risk individuals rely on after intervention, social distancing measures that altered outreach engagement, and an expansion of missions to include preventing the spread of COVID;

  • Cities grappling with disproportionate gun violence experienced further strained relationships between law enforcement and local communities, and;

  • Record gun sales exacerbated long-standing, NRA-backed loopholes in our gun laws.

The resource also lists ways policymakers can respond in 2022 to reverse increases in violence, including:

  • Passing President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which includes a historic investment of $5 billion in Community Violence Intervention (CVI) programs.

  • Congress must act on life-saving legislation like enacting background checks on all gun sales, and passing legislation that empowers federal law enforcement to enforce the sources of illegal guns, including by modernizing the rules for the gun industry in order to use best practices and root out rogue gun dealers.

  • At the state level, lawmakers should continue pushing for stronger laws that have been proven to reduce violence. States can also unlock funding to local intervention efforts during the state legislative budget process. In 2021, several states, such as Wisconsin, California, and Connecticut, invested in gun violence prevention using a combination of general fund revenue and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). State agencies can also direct federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to victim services specifically for survivors of gun violence.

  • Cities should use available ARP funding to address gun violence, as well as tap into the 26 existing grant programs that have been unlocked by the Biden-Harris Administration for gun violence prevention.

Whyte Museum, Banff, BC

Borderlands Digest

Reading, Writing and Photography about

Justice, the Environment, Chaos,

and Cooperation in North America.

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