– Collaborative poetry by Jeffrey F. Barken & Selkie Malka –
The above poem is the product of a Twitter dialogue that began the evening of Saturday, May 19th, 2018. It was graduation weekend in the college town. There were fireworks followed by a fierce thunder storm. Over the course of the next few days, Selkie and I mused about battle(s), World wars we dare not fight, and all the piecemeal proxy fighting that happens anyway. When the poem was complete, I told my fellow author that the narrative we’d written reminded me of a trip I took to the Golan Heights, Israel, in 2014. There, I’d visited an abandoned Syrian hospital–left in ruins after the 1967 war—and looked out over the border where I could see Assad’s air force pounding a village with barrel bombs. That’s as close as I’ve come to that civil war…
In time, Selkie and I arrived at the title, Candlelight Apathy to describe our collaborative poem in which we’d imagined war zone microcosms—the little sanctuary dens where victims of violence curl up seeking shelter. Together, we pondered the consequences of inaction and our trepidation in a time of tyrants. The title spreads flickering light on the entire Monologging project. Is this not a scrapbook full of notes from the underground, our contributor’s reflections on 2018’s theme of JUDGEMENT?
I remember my horror when I first discovered that every declarative thought is in fact a judgement. Words are daggers, or they are boxes, and I suppose we all envy the child who simply won’t color within the lines. Why are we so desperate to sort our reality and establish hierarchies of value? Why can’t the world be governed by accident? Why can’t innocence reign eternal?
We live in an intolerant age when fascist forces fueled by tribalism pursue prey with extreme prejudice. As we descend into that abyss, I can hear Niemöller cry again, “First they came for the socialists” and I wonder are we fast asleep? Why don’t we do more to save ourselves and preserve our freedom? There is widespread despair. History is repeating itself. And yet, hasn’t each in his or her turn—my fellow authors and artists—reminded me this year, as we compiled Monologging, how great the length of our hope is? Every man and woman must first chisel his or her domain from out thick dark to catch a glimpse of light on higher principles. In that vein, publishers find they’re duty-bound to help bridge the gaps of understanding and to connect voices yearning to be free. A community of writers and artists is duty-bound to dare. And if we are lucky, in the aftermath of a judgmental epoch, happily may we find, our lonely scribbles left on cold Twitter walls and in dreary cellars mark where Resistance first staged Renaissance.
– Jeffrey F. Barken –
June 15th, 2018