Greetings – here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2024 to you and your loved ones!
It’s been a quiet, reflective wintering (as usual!) for this desert dweller.
I’ve been in a space of embodied witnessing of the horrors unfolding in Palestine as the people of that land continue to be devoured by the terrorism of settler colonialism.
Alongside writing, much of my work of late has been somatically guiding some of my clients through a process of unwinding and working with the heavy confusion, rage and grief that’s coming up, discovering and connecting with the love that’s underneath it, and anchoring in that space to create the capacity to feel and relate to the whole spectrum of what’s present.
Through this, they can resource themselves to do and act in the world from the spaciousness of love as much as possible, and to pause and tend to themselves when they’re triggered; to do and act from this place in service to Palestine’s liberation and self-determination in whatever small or big way we’re all collectively being called to.
Prayers are being sent from this desert every morning to the one where olive trees are being burned:
“Palestinian farmers know their land by the square-millimeter. To them, there is no such thing as “wild plants”: each sprout on their land is an expression of Palestinian life, as indigenous flora. They harvest the crops, take care of their trees, and walk along their vines with the same love and responsibility with which they protect their loved ones. Their families have been caretakers of these trees for generations; the olive trees have been feeding and protecting their caretakers for just as long.”
Settler colonialism and its supporters cannot continue to deny the (ongoing) Nakba anymore than anti-semites can deny the Holocaust.
In the spirit of this, in each of Luna Arcana’s next several newsletters, we’ll be sharing a poem by a Palestinian poet. If you have any you enjoy or would like to see shared, feel free to reply and let us know the poet or poem. In this way, let’s make this a collaborative weaving of prayer and support by centering the beauty, depth and power of Palestinian art and culture, by directing our life-affirming attention deliberately and with intention.
You can infuse some additional energy into this weaving by reading these poems out loud, as part of a daily or weekly practice – making your prayers for Palestinian liberation be spoken into the world through the words of their poets.
by Tariq Alarabi
(translated by Fady Joudah)
I want to talk with you. It’s been a while
since anyone’s talked with me, no one around
says to me the things I say to you
when I’m sleepwalking.
For example, yesterday at 3AM the soldiers rained
tear gas bombs on us, ten workers
who crammed in a walk-in refrigerator for produce.
And the gas, like crude oil
that spilled into sea,
a forest fire that occupied all the air.
The carob tree was uprooted.
I still don’t know what you’re like
when you catch the flu.
Tomatoes are cheap this season
and the farmers are sad.
I’ve saved the best tomatoes for you.
As for the first thing I do when I wake up
I check the weather.
Weather enthusiasts in Palestine, like followers
of skincare products on Instagram,
And one more thing, since you’re not here:
do you like eggplant?
Tariq Alarabi is a poet and essayist in Nablus, and a wholesale produce supplier. He completed his BA in journalism in 2008. His first poetry collection, 4am in the Market, won the Palestine Young Poet award in 2012.
(Source: The Baffler)
Today we also wanted to spotlight one of this high desert’s most tireless environmentalists and evocative word wizards, Chris Clarke, whom we’re fortunate to have had as a regular contributor to Luna Arcana for a number of issues.
Chris is a lifelong desert advocate and environmental writer. He has served as Environment Editor at KCET Public Television in Los Angeles, and Associate Director of the California Desert Program for the National Parks Conservation Association.
Chris is one of the individuals who initiated and spearheaded the recent successful community organization to stop, a “glamping resort” that was set to threaten pristine old growth desert and tortoise habitat – just one of the wins this high desert community has had recently over harmful and unwanted “developments”.
He is Executive Director of the Desert Advocacy Media Network and the desert protection podcast, 90 Miles from Needles (highly recommended!) He lives in 29 Palms, CA with his wife Lara and their dogs.
Chris’ piece in issue 6, is provocatively titled Is the High Desert Over. It speaks vividly and with his trademark dry humor to the nuances of grief and baffled bewilderment at the accelerated rate of gentrification (or “gentrivacation” as Chris puts it) happening in this desert wilderness.
Here’s a brief excerpt. If you’re a seasoned high desert dweller, this might elicit a wry chuckle:
“Some of us knew there was trouble when people first started painting their houses black. You don’t do that in the desert. Don’t take that the wrong way. We are remarkably tolerant of different colors of house paint. Paint your exterior walls light brown to match the surrounding mountains, or deep red or terra cotta to provide a spark of color that complements the surround, or green because there isn’t much here and you miss it, or rainbow stripes. You’ll see it all out here, and we don’t care. Most of us who weren’t actually born here came here to get away from things like HOAs or neighborhood design codes or approved palettes. Some of us had experience painting previous urban houses in colors that didn’t meet the approval of the neighbors. Live and let live is a popular sentiment around here. It’s one of the reasons so many eccentric, creative types have made their homes here.
But there’s something every newly minted desert dweller learns when they pull out their goth-inspired urban previous-life wardrobe and wear their black everything out into the sunshine. Namely: that shit absorbs some heat. Painting your desert house black signifies one of two things. One, that you don’t yet realize how important a cool retreat becomes in summer, when the entire world is sizzling around you. Or two, that you are not the person who pays the place’s utility bills.
One black house in a neighborhood was a head-scratching oddity. Two on the same block was evidence of something disturbing. People building new houses specifically to paint them black? That’s where we are now, and it is lunacy.”
I recently had a wonderful conversation with artist and writer, J D Rudometkin about the short story he wrote for our latest issue 6, The Womxn with Exceptional Ears on Luna Arcana’s nascent YouTube channel.
You can watch it here, and feel free to like and subscribe if you enjoy it!
(Luna Arcana’s co-creator)
p.s. If your nervous system is in need of some ease + regulation, and you’re free on Sundays, come dive into The Light Gets In – the weekly online somatic experiencing and meditation drop-in.