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It's been a year since Kossack CJ Campbell passed away.  He was a lovely man who was beset by unlovely health issues.  Sometimes he would write about them, prosaically and poetically.  Never once was there a whiff of self-pity or fear.  CJ, who was known here as ulookarmless, was memorialized by bigjacbigjacbigjac in the Tuesday afternoon Indigo Kalliope diary edited by same.  It was a fitting tribute, given that ulookarmless was one of the founders of that group, and certainly the guiding light.  Indigo Kalliope was intended as a platform where folks could bring poetical musings of a political nature.  It is not the only place poetry plays a role at Daily Kos (BlackKos comes to mind), but CJ was a wonderful mentor and friend for those who stuck their poetical toe in there.  

Below the fold, a few political poems written or offered in tribute of CJ Campbell; poet, musician, artist, political activist and all around good egg.

First up are some offerings from asterkitty, who was an active participant in Indigo Kalliope when ulookarmless was "running things":

One week CJ challenged us to write Quatrains for Workers. I wrote a quartet. This is not my best poetry, by any means, but as something instigated by CJ, and as an exercise in community-building, I think this would be good to include. CJ, I miss you, as a friend in rhyme and as a dear sweet curmudgeon.

The City Bus Driver

A commander of potholes and misbehaving traffic
between the double-parked and the hairpin turns
every stop he takes like a bee to a flower
every stop becomes a thankful sojourn

The Registered Nurse at Planned Parenthood

A clinic under attack with glue poured into locks
but just a phone call will get you in to see her
critical concern for the good health of all women
if she could, she would prescribe for you sweet myrhh

The Cashier in a Neighborhood Store

A constant parade of folks who buy
always in a hurry and with fluster
and she will bag their apples and the freshly baked bread
while wearing a countenance of luster

For Anyone Who Cleans Anything for a Living

Those who dare to tread where others will not
in a world inclined towards decrepitude
scrubbing and shoveling and mopping and restoring
for all of this you have my deepest gratitude

Next, from bigjacbigjacbigjac, who carries the IK banner on Tuesdays now:

I wrote it in reference to him, and me, and anyone who tries to do something right, and thinks about that, and dies.

We do what we can,
with what we've got,
our life is only that.

We stand,
at the end of the day.

We see some respect,
from a few,
our friends.

We smile for a moment.
And then,
we're gone.

Kit RMP and ulookarmless did not know each other.  But I feel certain that CJ would have appreciated this poem:
Unspeakable Injustice

How can I speak
Of the soul-tearing
That loss of my beloved, untimely
Leaves bleeding in my heart.

This benighted country
That grants not “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”
Enshrined in hollow founding documents,
Facile mockery of human existence.

Even the primitives did better in principle
Seeking the greatest good for
The greatest number, as best they could discern.
Government now takes the form of gargoyles.

I cry to the wisdom of the ancient crones
Those who cried to heaven as their flesh burned at the stake,
The fiends shall not die quiet in their beds
If any justice exists in this universe.

I want to see their flesh; their corrupt paper burn
Crackling like bacon in the frypan.
I will dance in glee, besotted
As a primitive child before the primal bonfire.

This I swear:
They shall know their sin.
They shall face their judgement.
They shall answer to their maker.

The universe shall not be mocked.
The pain of heart and soul shall be answered.
The decision will be final.
The punishment will fit the crime.

The great wrong will be made right.
The wheel cannot be stopped.
Either we care for our Mother, child, spouse, friend, neighbor
Or Earth shall be torn asunder in cataclysm of our own making.

ruleoflaw writes wonderful poetry.  Some of it is political, some of it isn't.  Here is one offering, original for this tribute, which is Indigo Kalliope material:
"Rented Blood"


The sacrifices on the altars of expedience
must be purchased and paid on time.
The rush and hustle is done
on borrowed money and rented blood.


We are burning down the house
one plank at a time.
We are pulling down shingles
and prying up floorboards
to feed the furnace.


What we throw down on the soil
that is our father
will come back to us.


The poison we pour out on the water
that is our mother
flows through us.


The air is not free.
Every breath has a price,
Every speck of dust comes home.


We need our carbon buzz,
because, just because,
because we need our carbon buzz.


harrylarry's poem is not political but, well, I'll let him explain (edited):

I remember ulookarmless and often participated and promoted Indigo Kalliope which had a lot in common with the Protest Music group...Here's a poem. Not too political but definitely artistic and therefore from the left.

I shoot past the Maya

by Larry Heyl

I shoot often, detailed places,
looking through the foliage
at alien faces.
I wait for the wind's lull.
The stillness allows me
to capture their visage
winking out from between the leaves.
I hide alone, in my dark room.
My alchemy turning silver halide
into a reflection of a reflection.
I look through the image
of the faces between the leaves
seeking the mosaic
underlying the illusion.

Sometimes, I would submit haikus to the Indigo Kalliope community diary.  cassandracarolina did so much more often, and with much more skill.  Heed her words:
Will the thoughtful space
Ulookarmless occupied
Be filled up again?

Free now from the pain
One year since he left our midst
For what lies beyond

Though we share our words
We keep that space set aside
As a sort of shrine

But if he were here
He would tell us "carry on!
We need every voice!"

Every single day
We must fight to hold the gains
True Progressives share!

Stewart Acuff is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO.  Why his diaries here don't seem to get more traction here baffles me (hint, hint...).  He has been kind enough to contribute a poem to our tribute.  Note: because of the vagaries of Kosmail and an inability on my part to reconnect with Stewart, I have had to decide where the verse breaks in the poem occur.  Any errors thereto are entirely my fault.

My sincere condolences go out to poet and activist Kossack CJ Campbell's friends and family. I am sharing this poem for your diary in his honor.

The New Leaders

The numbers run the wrong way
Everyday the gap between soul defeating
Misery and abundance beyond
Imagination widens and our
People lose hope waiting
We wait instead act, our feet nailed down
We look for leaders blame Obama

But now Glory Be they have come
Our newborn leaders in action
Walkin’ movin’ talkin’ shoutin’
“I Am a Man” as they said in 68 Memphis
“Ain’t I a Woman?” as Sojourner Truth said

And so they say now in their
Multicolored uniforms of different oppressors
The fast food workers STRIKE and as they
Strike for themselves and each other
And their babies and families

They strike for us all and this country
Whose soul is shriveled by greed and
Emptiness and hatred and avarice and anger

Teach us to act, to move, walk and talk
To proclaim our dignity and demand
Our respect. Teach an entire people
Our class, “To screw our courage to
The sticking place,” as old Willy S said.

Let us honor and raise up and proclaim
The new leaders of our people and
Our class and let us join them.

I do not consider myself to be a poet.  But ulookarmless was kind enough to claim that I was.  It would not be a fitting tribute, so far as I'm concerned, unless I attempted to prove him right:
Mt. Rushmore

The park is closed.
Cars are lined up
Stopped in the middle of 244
Emptied of passengers
Who perch on the road
Sucking the behemoth visages
Into their phones.

No one is coming through
The double doors of the concession building
Strolling down the Avenue of Flags
To stand awestruck, or at least less bored
No parent shouting for Jimmy to “Come back here!”
As Jimmy tries to sneak down the Presidential trail
So to pee in the bushes.

This sacred spot.  
No, not this monument to
Tyrants, friends of grifters,
Slaveowners and enthusiastic
Drumbeaters for genocide.
This sacred place ripped like a beating heart
Out of the natural body of a sovereign people.

Granted in perpetuity to those to whom it always belonged
At least until greed and hatred, enthralled by a golden glint,
Coalesced into an unquenchable thirst to rape the souls of others.
An empty mythology overlying,
Braying of liberty and justice for all.

Closed to prevent sick children from not dying.
Closed to bankrupt families struck with temporary misfortune.
Closed to punish the unprescient.
Closed to wrest away comfort in old age.
Closed to keep those who hunger hungry.

The inherent selfishness of those
Who know not what it is to want
Or who run terrified from their memories,
Whistling so they cannot hear,
Who lie and cheat and steal
Because it is their birthright.
These are who have closed this park.
Time to say “No more”.

Please feel free to add your tributes and/or your own poetry in the comments.  Peace.


Updating to add a poem to the body of the diary from Otteray Scribe.  Circumstances beyond his OS's control conspired to delay him from sending an offering to include the poem before the diary was set to publish.  But it is fitting to edit the diary to include it:

CJ was a Scot, but also a man of Australia.

Here is my inscription for his quilt:

O Fhluir na h-Albann,
cuin a chi\ sinn
an seorsa laoich
a sheas gu bas 'son
am bileag feoir is fraoich,
a sheas an aghaidh
feachd uailleil Iomhair
's a ruaig e dhachaidh
air chaochladh smaoin?
In English:
O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.
Sound of Australia by a master of both didgeridoo and Aboriginal heritage Dr. Richard Walley, who is an Aboriginal man himself.

Otteray Scribe's offerings were originally a comment on a larger tribute by Nurse Kelley, which she published last year here at his passing, and republished this week at the Motley Moose.  Although I have not asked her permission, I trust she will not mind if I include a link for those who may be interested:
Here's the link.

9:33 AM PT: For accuracy's sake, let the record show that the original founders of Indigo Kalliope were ulookarmless, asterkitty and im a frayed knot.

10:02 AM PT: I must step away now, and will not be around to read or respond to any more comments before Monday morning.  Feel free to keep commenting, especially to add tributes and/or poems.  This is not my diary anyway; It's CJ's.  And he would be delighted to know that this collaborative effort has touched so many people.


Originally posted to Indigo Kalliope on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse, Kitchen Table Kibitzing, J Town, Rebel Songwriters, Protest Music, Community Spotlight, and Readers and Book Lovers.

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