Monday, December 29, 2014

holiday time: feasting, & fighting

"just left my bubble and found out there are people out there not looking at everything through the lens of racism/white supremacy right now. Oh."
-Beka Mari


the holidays.

a time for


and fighting.

Over the holidays I got into a screaming battle with someone over the front page of the NYtimes. I noticed that again, the deaths of the cops were featured, which is terrible and tragic, but I pointed out that their lives do not matter more than Michael Brown, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Eric Garner, Tata Sanchez, Akai GurleyTamir Rice, Renisha McBride and the other people of color that were killed by police officers or self-appointed vigilantes who weren't on the front page when they were killed.

    He said to me: "Mariel, you read biased blogs, articles without any credibility. Your view is way too extreme and uninformed. You need to read more to see the larger picture." 
As he yells this I'm staring down at the front cover of the NYtimes and noticing that all the writers are male in name and I wonder
what exactly he means by biased
and what he means by balanced.

   I am 33 years old and for my entire education through high-school the curriculum included reading predominately white cis men. 
In college my music classes taught me that music WAS western culture. That music WAS Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, Schubert...etc... and in my Jazz classes I listened to recording of men playing. A lot not white at least, but again only men. only men. This persisted through grad school and some years after. That is 28 years of my life where I absorbed the language, beliefs, art, and philosophy of cis MEN as my education.

  I wonder if we can examine the word balanced again. 
Is there anything balanced about our education system/curriculum and media? How many women write for the NYtimes--one of the most read papers in the country? How many people of color?

  So, when I began to notice that even while I had a liberal, mostly feminist disposition in my early 20s, if everyone I was listening to and reading were would that lend its way to gender equality? 
Really, if you do the math, if I were to inform myself in a balanced way I would need to read mostly only women for the next 28 years.

  As a musician/artist I am interested in the underground art scene. House concerts. Living room art gatherings. 
Musicians who have not yet become popularized. Art that is nestled in the moment of creativity before it is washed away by the masses...diluted...changed...its very essence of innovation lost.
The subtle, soft sounds underneath the everyday screams. The secret wonderings of a lone and hidden poet.

  When I'm with a group of people in a simple social situation, 
I would like to hear from the person who doesn't jump forward with their ideas...not the loudest one--but the one who is buried by all the talkers. The one people even forget is there.

   In this same respect I want to hear the voices of people who are continually silenced by society--who are taught that they don't even have anything valuable to say. 
These are the people that need to be heard if any innovation will be made in this world. If there's any chance of breaking out of the pattern and history of patriarchal white supremacy we need to listen to the voices of the oppressed.

    I have run a house concert series for 4 years. In the beginning I was fascinated by experimental music and booked musicians that were creating sounds I had never heard before. Undefinable noises and textures that transcended style, form, history. 
I found it to be a special pocket of creative energy. We in the community were changing the shape of sound and art---in defiance of the way the masses expected. Then I realized that mostly everyone playing were white men.

What is creative about perpetuating patriarchy?

 Turns out I was still locked inside a lens of white supremacy, looking again to white cis men for the most innovative ideas and expression. 
that makes it 30 years. 30 years. I decided at that point that I needed to exclusively listen to and read the voices of women, trans and POC (people of color).

    These are the people whose thoughts and ideas are constantly being drowned out by louder and oppressive forces. 
And you know what happens if we only listen to the loudest voice for century upon century? The content does not change. Look closely. The more you examine, the more you will begin to unveil layers and layers of content that by excluding POC, women, trans, and queer folk, becomes a circular rant with its sole purpose being that of maintaining and upholding white supremacy. We have created a curriculum that teaches everyone that white people are superior, that men are superior. Well-educated liberal people will come out of these schools very knowledgeable, informed to some extent, maybe even end up writing for the NY Times. They might call themselves a feminist. They might say they're not a racist but do not question how their very privilege and class influences how they interpret the world around them--how a certain kind of education can actually make one more blind to the world, unable to see the nuances and inner workings of systematic oppression.

    Unraveling white privilege means you start seeing the world as layers and layers of oppression on which it's built and start to change what you listen to, what you read.  I subscribed to news sources that are written by women, POC, women and trans people of color or trans/queer folk like:
Black Girl Dangerous, For Harriet, Colorlines, The Feminist Wire, The Root, Crunk Feminist Collective, Showing up for Racial Justice, Bitch Media, Huffington Post Black Voices, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, Anti-Racism Media. I followed lots and lots of women and trans POC on facebook. I unfollowed lots and lots of people. My facebook feed now is pretty much just posts from Palestinian people struggling to have their story heard. Women grieving about their sons or daughters murdered by policemen. Trans people subjugated to abhorrent violations. Michelle Alexander posting articles and commentary on the Prison Industrial Complex.

   Now for my house concerts I mainly book women, trans and/or POC. 
The content of the performances isn't "experimental" per se, but we are hearing what we never have heard before. People are singing, speaking, and dancing who normally get smothered by layers and layers of thick white paint covering the colors and rich history of our nation--our world.

What would one room look like if we started creating space for the unheard?

What would the world start to sound like if we listened to the voices who have been muted for centuries?

Can you imagine?

Can you imagine a world where white men said:

"We would like to create a more balanced perspective. People of color, Women, Trans people, we've had a long rant.

Would you like to take a turn?

Here in the U.S. we've been talking for 238 years, going on 239.

You can have the next 239 years."


  that is balance.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

inside my house (lyrics)

I'm all alone inside my house

traveling nowhere soon...

nowhere soon.

as I dance alone inside my house
the ceiling is closing in
there is no way out.

People outside are flying flying
through their window sill

People outside are sailing
in the clouds outside my room.

And we have made the Rain from our own dew

fallen from our dew

fallen from our dew

Little I hold from the time we spoke
 our first words

watching the fire falling from the sky

where was the moon that eve?

was she watching our demise?

Birds in the winter hum outside my room
do they speak too,
of stories lost and through?

As I'm locked away inside my house
singing songs softly

nobody can hear.

Can we join our separate melodies?

from our separate lives?

Will the song still play

as I close my eyes?

Will I dream of you

in this lullaby?

Monday, November 24, 2014

in and out (lyrics)

all the rivers that are sweeping
wash me in moments of leaving
from the mid-hour we're weeping
nobody knows who we're keeping

songs, songs from our Beacon
pink clouds stretch across our eyes
hazel turns into dry
tears in the cloth from the briar.

What will remain from our sweetness?

falling in love, and out
in and out, in and out
in and out, in and out

watching the Fall through the window
from the mirage of our dreaming

is it the moon or us waning?
in this dance nobody's leading.

we are only weaving
in and out
in and out
in and out
in and out

everything loses its seam

can we make new with lost memories
stitching the torn ones together

we'll quilt our lives through the winter

in and out
in and out
sewing our time in rounds
in and out
in and out...

Friday, November 21, 2014

will we meet again? (lyrics)

will you come and see my virgin skin

while we dance and cry into the wind

as the moon falls

all our time goes

all I wanted
was to know...

will we meet on a new full moon eve?
and while I wonder
will I wander to....

if you are my....
love for my life?






Wednesday, November 12, 2014

only water (lyrics)

in the middle of our slumber,
fall into separate d r e a m---i n g

I don't know
if we will wake

as one.

I cannot hold on to who we are
as I lie asleep inside your arms.

will you stay
until tomorrow?

after then,
we'll see.

the river only knows how to move
we can hide within a glimmer of its calm

but we'll be washed away before too long.

the beauty is the passing through
the beauty is the letting go

can we watch it change?
release what we know?

love falls like tiny raindrops

we try to
catch its taste
on our tongue

but precious pearls must travel home
must travel on

but precious pearls must travel home
must travel on

but precious pearls must travel home
must travel on

we are only water traveling along this river

we are only water traveling along this river

we are only water traveling along this river

we are only water traveling along this river...

Friday, November 7, 2014

eachother, found

after lightning strikes down---

tears open our hearts

will we see clearly through?

and rain tumbles down
streaking off all our faces

will we see clearly through?

the wind throws its force
turns our house upside down

will we see through?

stars flee their orbit
gravity has no glue

will we see through?

iphones combust
facebook falls to the ground

will we then see the moon
as it wanes or grows full...

all come together
 to dance on the roof

to howl and cry,

 as the night,

e  a  c  h  o  t  h e r...


Saturday, November 1, 2014



slipped out of my pocket


crashing to the ground.

Gravity has its rules,

but also

can decide

if some things fall

and others rise.



whose gets chosen?


Friday, October 31, 2014

not my own (lyrics)

I don't know
what comes or goes
only time
will show

when we wake
will we feel
the same 
as yesterday?

if you leave
I will dream
of flying free

loving me

a seed begins
untouched, unseen
below the earth

can I wait
and let it rise
or let it fall
to be or die

by wind or rain
or sun or sky
but not my own
will make its life

and with my hands
I'll fly....

can I trust
that it will be
what it will be

unknown to me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Too Much Kindness

on the subway today

no.  one.   would.   sit.

unless everyone could sit

people kept shuffling around

no, you take mine

no, you sit.

no, you have my seat.

until it became a dance

up and down

bouncing around

kindness in perfect choreography.

night-sun's lullaby (lyrics)

along the ocean in the 
sweeping wind
I saw the night-sun

into the water 
of our sparkling dreams

I heard the night-sun

arise my new day
so that the people can wake
from their darkened place

be here thy light
for them to open their eyes
remembering what they knew

and while the moon melted into the sea
its glow lasted radiantly

and the world in the sea
drank its nectar in glee

will we swim marvelously 
in the new day she brings?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

all I wanted was the moon (lyrics)

all I wanted was the moon to keep

so I stepped outside.

all I wanted was to drink the sea

then she arrived.

all I wanted was the stars in my dreams

so I fell asleep.

all I wanted was to know my mother
so I let her weep
so I let her weep

and she cried
and she cried
on my shoulder
and she cried.

a long pretty road
saw way for my footsteps
I carried her through the day

and while we slept
beneath the soft willow
the night swept our sadness away


all I wanted was my heart to sing
so I held her hand.

all I wanted was my friend to be free

so I let him go

so I let him go


Saturday, August 9, 2014

today, I met my mother.

age 16.
young. bold. firey. afraid.

running from her body

her violent home

her only solace, her guitar,
which would take her, as wings, to fly someplace safe.

until one day
her father cracked it in half

crashing it
on her head.

today I met my mother, as her mother.

I went back to that home
and stopped the violent man
stopped him before he could hurt her.

not even once.
not ever.

and I took her to a different home.
so she could have a different life.

only, I wasn't born soon enough to be there
when she needed protection.

I was born one generation away from violence.

it is close enough for me to feel,
but far enough for me to grow larger than it.

to heal, nourish myself,
and open my presence
so I can wrap my mother inside it.

I will expand my love
to be so wide and vast

that it can bend backwards in time

and hold my mom,
then, too.

today I met my mother.

age 16.



I will hold her until she knows she is safe.

Monday, July 21, 2014

head to shoulder

some people's suffering is more apparent.

the homeless person
asleep in the corner of the train

the man
yelling at people

drinking vodka from his bottle.

the woman yelling at him
to drink
behind closed doors.

but the man is here
 seeking witnesses for his pain.

I am sitting here
with no bottle...

no shards to hold
from the ruins of my brokenness.

just a tightening chest,

a thickening around my throat

no one can see.

a scream for help
buried too deep inside

no one can hear.

I want to rest my head
on the shoulder of the stranger next to me.

and the man with the drink
can rest his head on mine.

I'll help him hold
the weight of his bottle.

and just for a moment

we'll rest together.

head to shoulder head to shoulder
down the row

on the bumpy 2 train home.


buy Mariel's poetry book here

Thursday, July 17, 2014

universal mourning

Yesterday a 2 yr. old drowned in the lake in Prospect Park.
 I was going for my daily park walk by the boathouse when I saw people in panic, a mother was holding one child, pacing around the lake, police just arriving. We learned that a child was missing.
Her cousin was found on a path, wet, covered in green algae.
A police officer found a tiny sandal, covered in algae.
There is so much algae covering the lake that you cannot even see that it is water. From a 2 yr old's view, it might have looked like a grassy field to run on. 
For hours before her body was found in the lake, some park bystanders were helping look. There was a helicopter, at least 50 police officers, and all of us folk
looking through the woods and paths.
Her cousin was found on a path.
wet, covered in algae.
maybe she was just lost in the woody area of the park?
There were some people eating their lunch by the lake,
people playing games in the field near by.
If everyone that was nearby had heard about it and jumped into the green lake, would she have been saved?
We were all helping, but what if the message had been communicated sooner, that she was lost, might be in the lake...
could we all have jumped in and felt around for her body?
If everyone in the park knew that there was a missing child there would be no soccer games, no picnics, no leisurely strolls, no kissing on the bridge, no taking pictures by the boat house, no runners passing through.
I wanted to run around and scream and tell everyone.
I wanted to SCREAM---a 2 yr. old might be drowning right now!!
We need EVERYONE here to help the mom look for her kid. 
Instead, my friend and I paced through the wooded paths, as instructed by the police, hoping that she was on land, and we could spot her.
The news came by the evening that her body was found in the lake.
and I am sitting here shaking. 
remembering the mother in panic---gripping to her son---running and searching.
My friend and I had gone into the park wrapped up in our lives when suddenly confronted with the horror and tragedy of the death of a 2 yr. old girl.
and now, away from the park, I am unable to leave it.
I cannot go back to the things I have to do.
There are places in the world where horrifying tragedy happens all of the time. I think immediately of Palestine. 
I read yesterday
that Palestinian Mohammad Abu Khadair was burned alive.

And then I find my way around to other war-torn countries where everyday someone is killed by a bomb or gun.

I just don't see it.
All of the mothers aren't running by me.
I am unable to see their face, gripped with terror.

What else don't I see hidden away in my tower of privilege?

Reading the news, I saw pictures of the 4 transwomen of color who were murdered this past June.
and read about how many Brazilian transgender people have died this year.

After I read about these tragedies I didn't go outside and run trying to find the perpetrator. 
I couldn't.
The news comes too late and from too far.
and I am often left paralyzed when faced with such horror

happening everyday.
every minute.
And now, I am left out of breath from searching for the little girl, but I cannot rest.
I cannot go back to my home, my piano. My tiny little bubble.
I have to continue to help fight for justice.
My heart is filled with so much sadness for the mother and her family.
I will not be able to walk by the park lake again without remembering this tragedy.
But this is just it.
I need to remember.
Yes. I need to live my life and laugh and sing, but I need to remember the people in this world struggling to live, faced with such tragedy everyday.
If all of us, privileged enough to enjoy leisure, can remember, then maybe there would be more action?
If I were able to see a Palestinian mother weeping for her child--in front of me---as a sudden interruption to my normal day---
how would the rest of my day look?
what would the things to do be?
What is the most important thing we can be doing?

"We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons

We who believe in freedom cannot rest

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes"
-Bernice Johnson Reagon

listen to the song here


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

starry days (lyrics)

listen while you read here

we're drowning in our thirst

swallowed by our hunger

burnt by our shadow

poisoned by our apple

we're dreaming when awake
we're sleeping through our days

forgotten by our future

locked out from our past

dancing in our stillness

lifted by our fall

we're dreaming when awake
we're sleeping through our days

revealed by our secrets
awoken by our sleep
swimming in the desert
frozen by the heat

in starry days and shining nights
moving doesn't change
forgotten middle hours

into rain...

revealed by our secrets
awoken by our sleep
swimming in the dessert
frozen by the heat

in starry days and shining nights
moving doesn't change

forgotten middle hours

into rain...

we're dreaming when awake
we're sleeping through our days....


order Mariel's solo cd here

falling stars (lyrics)

listen to the song here

the sun melts
we slip away

our stillborn dreams

our sunken shame

while we dance
under the stars

under the rain

naked, the same

the earth spins round
we'll never know
will we fall off
the faster it goes round??

the earth grows dizzy
as it spins around
the sun and moon watch
us all fall down

we all fall down

we all fall down

will we look like shooting stars
crashing to the ground?

will we look like shooting stars
the ground?

Friday, June 6, 2014

maybe so (lyrics)

listen to the song here

the sun burns our eyes
if we look at it to find...

our sand castle
washes away by the tide

time passes by
sweeping friends in its stride.

how can I love if love dies?

how can I love if love dies?

what can we keep?

what can we hold?

let's come together
to joyously weep

at my new altar

let us bow down

singin' dear ones
I don't know
I don't know

I don't know...

maybe so.

I'll be singing this song
after you're gone

but my song is over
not after too long

my song is over
not after too long.

even the longest kiss
cannot stretch into for sure

and you can hold my hand
just remember to let go

at my new altar
let us bow down

singing dear ones
I don't know
I don't know

I don't know...

maybe so.

Friday, May 23, 2014

mermaid parade (lyrics)

a summer day of rain and whistles
black flies biting
mermaid giggles

and while we whiled away the afternoon

the silken sand of wind and willow
willow weeps but still tomorrow
I won't speak of you or you of me

I see you riding by the corner
as I'm tucked beneath the awning
hiding from your shadow in the rain

we'll never speak of love......

we'll never speak of love....

in the mermaid parade
on that wild windy day

we couldn't keep the tide from comin' in.

can the past burn into ashes?
can our ashes spread to soil?
can new seeds be pressed below it?
and new life sprout from above it?

will the plant that then arises
carry something from below it?
will it look like you
or look like me?

will we weep
will we see
will we cry
will we speak

will we know another day
another time
another day

another time.....?

we'll never speak of love....


listen to the song  here

Thursday, May 15, 2014

on the corner

I was sitting on the corner
of 3rd Ave and Wyckoff.

Already thinking slightly  of you

and then

all of a sudden

you whizz by.

You, in your lighting--yellow--bolt- jacket
and tall tall bike
stretching so high---
your helmet catches clouds
like a net in the sky.

I called out your name---
but you were riding too fast,
my shout,
just a blur 
in the noisy street life.

You rode away
and I was left
with piercing in my eyes...

as if I had tried
to stare at the sun.

Like most things
if we look too long- - ---

we become blind.

I cannot hold on to time whizzing by.

I keep my gaze
on what is here.

the kids jumping rope on the corner
the leaves whistling in the wind
I feel my feet touch the ground 
as more bikes and memories fly by.

but I miss your tender heart!
Oh I miss your tender heart!

I will cry out my grief
let if flow from my eyes...

and watch
as it too
passes by.

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