Travel Writing: Rainy Season 8 ̊N 79 ̊W

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soaring guitars & screaming cicadas, I edit

songs of randomness, solos of electrifying memories

I’m not a memory-catcher, a/c engages

blowing cool air inside, silhouetted tanagers chirp

sorry, bud, the watermelon’s dried up, fluorescent

lights as I clean dishes, electric gloss of everything

illuminated by buildings, shadow outside is long

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and lean, shadow toppling over the ground level

eventually this tower will crumble, reverberating

haiku, one after the other, recorded and transposed

ditties in the key of G, I still worry about my ears

but I will rock and not lose my hearing

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honestly, I didn’t get wet or even get close

close to feeling the warm rain, reclined on the balcony

reclining by potted plants, the overcast evening

light mixing with sunset, bewitched buildings

I recorded a song, it’s not good on my computer

it’s excellent in my head, soaring and symphonic

& deep & eternal, like the sands of the middle east

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where Jacob wrestled angles, and the ocean was far

ocean is far, but still I see it between buildings

still glimpse of ocean is really murmuring

the sea is really churning under the weight of the moon

moon & earth & sun, in a steady lullaby

rocking back & forth, for my entire life

subject to the great weight of the stars


Guidelines for productive haiku writing:

- Find some rain

- Get cold wind whipping against your feet

- Make sure the rain pours down, hard

- Make sure the rain is so, so loud, that you hear it like music

- There’s this beautiful moment, writing in the rain, where you feel like you have a room, and you’re outside

- And in this outside room, sitting on the cement floor, barefoot, the wind picks up and you need to keep your notebook to your lap

- Write in ink, even though it’s rainy

- And hold down your notebook, writing in ink, and look up every now and then

- Let the rain drops be dynamic static, the screen you stare at when you’re dumbfounded and working

- Give yourself 30 minutes, and then another 30 minutes, on your cellphone timer

- Grab a cappuccino

- Don’t answer texts

- Resist the urge to call your friends, artists, who can also be found searching for a breeze at 2:30

- And write, and take care of your wrist, don’t push down too hard

- Also, if you haven’t already, keep a haiku book next to you

- Ideally one that has made your heart stop

- Find poetry that makes your heart stop

- Maybe hear it first as a song, and then find out that your favorite musician is also an author

- But do this research beforehand, so you don’t miss the storm

- Be ready for that storm

- Don’t forget- barefoot is better

- Write for that hour

- Sigh

- Write

- 1 page, and you’re done for now

- Hydrate

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Elio Icaza is a poet, designer, and interactive language artist represented by Ars Poetica. Book him for an event and follow him on Instagram.

Rainy Season 8 ̊N 79 ̊W, Elio Icaza Milson, ©2019

Images created with Google Maps

The Right to a Future: Eco Activism with Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Xiye Bastida, Vic Barrett + Tuntiak Katan

On Monday evening, The NY Society for Ethical Culture and The Intercept hosted a completely packed audience desperate for a new perspective on earth’s climate crisis. As Ars Poetica has been making strides to create a positive environmental impact with our work, and as a Swedish-American deeply inspired by Greta Thunberg personally, I was moved to be front and center to hear from these revolutionary minds.

There was a line around the block of attendees waiting to get in - the demographic was heavily young people (think 18 and under) but there were also a notable contingency of retirees and senior citizens. It was striking to see how few folks there were in the 30-60 range of things… Too busy to care? Too jaded to be fired up by optimism and action? I don’t know why, but I noticed it, and it concerned me.

I sat between to older women, one of whom looked over at me and immediately said,

“Greta Thunberg speaks with the voice of a prophet, and the wisdom of an elder.”

I asked for her name so I could quote her in this blog post: she introduced herself as Catherine Skopic.

Before the live speakers began, the hosts projected a Molly Crabapple video that I had not been exposed to yet, and it brought tears to my eyes, of course. It’s called “A Message from the Future” and you need to watch it. Then, in keeping with the theme, three youth activists shared their own messages, from the perspective of the year 2029. I’d never been to an activist event that utilized this strategy of showing what could be possible, as if it had already been done. I honestly found it deeply refreshing, and highly impactful.

Xiuhtezcatl spoke of the power of the arts, referencing in Spanish, English, and Nahuatl an old poem from his heritage,

“Still we have left, flowers and songs.”

Xiye Bastida spoke of a new education and public policy system, where local indigenous environmental philosophy could be incorporated at every level, and sacred sites would be protected and acknowledged as vital for human connection with the earth. Vic Barrett painted one of the most vivid pictures for me, envisioning themself riding on a light rail from NY to Madison, Wisconsin, seeing Climate Corps workers reforestation projects, and reflecting that they

“could finally live in a world where it feels safe to have children again.”

That thought stunned me, as a person who is at this point 99% certain that I will not have children, in part because of these environmental factors.

Next, Naomi herself took the stage, to introduce our featured guest, Greta. She did a great job of stoking the energy of the crowd in the strangely stiflingly hot room, encouraging us to discover truth and fire in ourselves, and

“find our fight.”

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Greta Thunberg is sixteen years old, and tiny. She took a 15 day sailing trip to get here, powered only by the sun and the wind. She is living her truth and the complete embodiment of earnest, unstoppable commitment to her values. When Naomi asked her what she noticed about the United States thus far, she said,

“You use a lot of air conditioning.”

Comparing it to her native Sweden, she mused,

“Here the climate crisis is something you “believe in” or “don’t believe in” ... where I come from... it’s a fact.”

She spoke about neurodiversity, trolls, and her organization Fridays for Future, and the Global Climate Strike they are preparing for on September 20th. She is planning for 9/20 to be another intergenerational tipping point, to continue to bring attention to immediate action to help curb climate change. Seeing her face contort with concern, watching her carefully choose her words, and feeling the obsessively devoted energy she cultivated in the audience, I wondered if this is what it felt like when people heard Joan of Arc speak.

Tuntiak Katan of the Ecuadorian Amazon was then invited to the stage to speak on behalf of indigenous Amazonian peoples. He said, in no uncertain terms,

“We are 30 million people protecting 60 million hectares of forest. If you don’t help us, we will not be able to continue. We’re giving our lives to protect this forest.”

He then presented Greta with a symbolic necklace, and gave her a formal invitation from the children and elders of his region, for her to come visit them and see their way of life while she travels overland on her way to COP25 in Santiago de Chile. I got chills watching the exchange, and the love in his eyes as he draped the necklace over her narrow shoulders.

All the youth activists were then invited back out to talk together for a few moments, and seeing them all together felt like quite a culmination. A culmination that could result in actual changes in policy and a decoupling from fossil fuels once and for all.

To close out the evening, which thankfully was a totally waste-free event but left be deeply, deeply parched metaphorically and physically, Xiuhtezcatl came back to the stage to perform a few songs. Even the senior citizens but their hands in the air for him.

I had written poems for Greta and Naomi of course, but alas, Greta disappeared and Naomi had throngs of fans awaiting her.

I got on my bike and went to Center Bar in Columbus Circle, and wrote poems for strangers while drinking a Penicillin, contemplating the impact the night would have on me and the hundreds of other attendees. I wonder what my message from the future will become.

One thing I know is, I can at least start to do my part to reforest this planet. Which is why Ars Poetica is launching a reforestation project in partnership with One Tree Planted. one tree :: one poem - more on that very soon.

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Can I be an activist

And still love a good cocktail?

Oh yes, I can

And I am

Why I Write Poetry: A Rhyming Poem

Why do I write poetry, you ask?

well let me think

Why when thrown in water do you swim and not give up and sink?


We are thirsty people and we don’t know what to do

We can’t slurp with just our tongues - it’s sad, I know, but true.

How lucky that collected drops can gather in a cup

Even better if hand-held so that we can lift it up


If you aren’t following this metaphoric shpiel 

I’m trying to describe to you the way I tend to feel

When I’m desperate to quench my existential throat

Gazing up at castle walls from in this shark-filled moat


Water water everywhere 

And not a drop to drink

Water water everywhere

Goes stagnant till it reeks

Water water everywhere

In tiiiiny plastic bottles

Water water everywhere

But none for baby turtles

Water water everywhere

It’s surging through the sewers

Water water everywhere 

The rats are microbrewers 


Nobody in power recommends we drink the rain

But seven years ago I realized eau de vie is worth the pain


My thoughts were a river on the outskirts of this town

If I didn’t somehow guide them I would very surely drown


So I became a poet (or some surely call me a clown)

Because I found the fluid from my faucets had turned brown


You may think digging wells is a pursuit where there’s no gain

But I can’t bear to watch our spirits sucked into a MAGA drain


The beauty of a poet’s life is that none are the same

And when our poets die we all go back to where we came


Book LAMARKS for stage performance, spoken word, hosting, and emceeing here.



#haikureview: Waterboy and the Mighty World at The Bushwick Starr

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I just got home from experiencing The Hawtplates’ Waterboy and the Mighty World at The Bushwick Starr this evening (preceded by an astounding meal at Seawolf by the way) and I feel completely filled, spiritually and physically.

Sitting next to the producer as the house lights went down, I realized I had no idea what the show was about, and he whispered, “just think of it as a live recording of a concept album.” So I did.

Everything about the 90-minute musical immersion was honed to simple perfection, and reverberated through our bones, through time and space.

I felt like I was an infinitely blessed fly on the wall of an intimate family folktale or singalong. I was always one step behind the three singers, barely grasping the story they were weaving, but catching just enough to let it wash over me and make a deep impression. Each singer had a chance to shine. Justin Hicks as a loving and wry smiling conductor of sorts, Jade Hicks as a fresh, zen sonic storyteller, but Kenita Miller-Hicks burst forth as my personal favorite - the raw and shocking power of her voice and dancing made my jaw literally drop.

The question they seemed to be asking each other (which we just so happened to get to witness on the perfectly lit sparse stage) might have been,

“Can one love, when the law is hate? Is there hope for pure clean water when you’re stuck in hundreds of years of muck? Can you sing, while remembering shackles?”

And The Hawtplates’ answer was a pitch-perfect, soulful, heart melting and hauntingly beautiful,

“Yes.”

And after the gift of their music tonight, I am apt to ask the question, and give a more hopeful reply as well.

There is only one more show of this run - tomorrow night - but I have it on good authority that they’ll be at Joe’s Pub this Fall… keep an eye out, an ear to the ground, a hole in the bucket.

When The Alps Call Akolade... Part 3 - The Conclusion!

Starting with a bang

For the chance that love might live

Infinite cascade

Walking into “Alo at the Grove” can be an intense experience.

Scratch that.

Walking into “The Grove” can be an intense experience.

Flamboyantly sweet dessert shops, both in color and taste, a bellagio style fountain, and a litany of boutiques will assault the senses. Familiar brands with eclectic architectural facades make what should be nostalgic it’s own adventure. It’s a struggle to walk through dead to the sign scream buy me through the algorithmically tested designs that are some how bombastically whispering, “buy me”

(Is everywhere in LA Disneyland?)

(Is everywhere in LA Disneyland?)

When you get to the Alo, whose choice architecture overwhelms the senses with yogic mannequins in their newest colors, then invites you to a trendy kombucha bar with stools, snacks, and smiling yogi baristas, even if you were initially intimidated, there’s suddenly an air of safety and you notice there’s a skylight instead of the sad, retail fluorescence we’ve come to treasure so dearly.

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When I made my way up the stairs, I discovered there was in fact a full service yoga studio on the top floor, as well as their selection of menswear. 

But honestly screw all that because the scene was set last post and an ambivalent, loquacious, consumerist critique of a shopping venue is honestly not what you’re here for. 

At the top of the stairs was Talia, waiting to greet us all. She made sure to let them know I was her guest and to let me in. Honestly, it was a small gesture perhaps, but I felt incredibly taken care of. I think she sensed my general apprehension about receiving gifts.

I like to think I’m not an anxious person. 

But I am.

When it comes to trusting that another person truly wants to help me, I’m often concerned I’ll be met with the reluctance at best and bitterness at worst. It’s a wound from my youth that I’m still healing. 

And so it always feels extra special when someone is getting to know me and I can feel the sincerity of their desire to make me feel appreciated. The validation of the value of my efforts, doesn’t provide comfort here, because that’s conditional on my performance. I’m talking about the validation of the value of my presence. I think it’s because that experience of love and acceptance is one of the many gifts makes the world a place worth being in, to me at least.

(Apparently it looks better in person... just ask @silkymariesky)

(Apparently it looks better in person... just ask @silkymariesky)

When the workshop started, I had some idea what was coming. Being the only male person in a flexibility workshop wasn’t actually all that intimidating. I felt like the expectations would be low. It was my first workshop ever. It was also the first formal non-Bikram yoga class I’d ever taken.

Bikram can often feel like a planned torture session.

This was different.

It was questions and answers,

healing and growing,

Unity and love,

And I don’t mean that in a cheesy way. I sincerely mean that we were asked to engage our consciousness and understanding to incorporate the opposite of what we’d come to believe into what we’d been working on. Not to think of what we’d come in with as right or wrong, but as a piece of the greater whole we were open to learning more about. There were no right answers, just new perspectives to take with us if they helped.

I knew at once that I wanted to be this kind of teacher. To listen to my students and hear them. To take their wisdom and understanding and spread it through the room and to share my gifts with them.

I’d been told that before you do a yoga teacher training, you need to find a studio you believe in and a teacher whose knowledge you trust and are willing to do the work to acquire.

Suddenly, I had clarity. I knew that what I wanted to study yoga with this person. It’d be impossible, because while she was doing a yoga teacher training, I’d seen that it was full. And Talia lives in Tel Aviv, so I figured that whatever studio she taught at would be a little absurd to relocate to just to learn yoga. That’s a whole world away.

So I tucked that into the back of my mind and set to toiling away at my hip openers.

( don’t mind me, just letting go in bhekasana )

( don’t mind me, just letting go in bhekasana )

By the end of class I was glowing with the practice and all of the laughter. There were so many warm smiles and open hearts. And everyone had been so sweet and I even made a friend named Marie that I think I’m gonna have for many years to come.

( @silkymariesky is my fav teacher at Alo at the Grove. Come practice with us... or like meet her in Bali maybe 🤞🏿?)

( @silkymariesky is my fav teacher at Alo at the Grove. Come practice with us... or like meet her in Bali maybe 🤞🏿?)

On my way out Talia told me to hang on. I was a little nervous, because I wasn’t sure what I’d done that warranted staying behind to talk. First thought was I’d done something wrong in class. As a male person, I try not to hog attention when I’m welcomed into a space that is predominantly female. I’d felt really excited about contributing to the conversation, I know I talked more than most of the other people, but I was trying to help them feel more comfortable contributing since I know it can be hard to be the first to speak if there’s an expert asking you open-ended questions.

(Last person to get a photo 😱)

(Last person to get a photo 😱)

As I waited and helped people take photos with Talia, I felt a sense of ease though, because she hadn’t really approached me with the energy of a reprimand. It was cautious, but more like concerned about what I would say in response when I think about it.

And what she ended up asking me blew me away.

She opened by sayingthat she had really enjoyed my energy. That she loved the way that I was open in conversation and in learning. That the positivity that I brought to her workshop and the videos we made on Alo.Moves was fantastic and she loved how in between I would just write poems and take photos and talk personal philosophies with people. That she wanted to spend more time with me and get to know me better, which was really gratifying because the feeling was so mutual I didn’t even know what to say.

And then she hit me with it:

“George I would like to invite you to photograph my yoga teacher training. You don’t have to answer now. I just want to invite you to think about it. You would get your ytt done. And your room and board are covered as well as meals. The only thing you’ll have to do is pay for you ticket there and back...

You don’t have to answer right now. Think about it. It’s just an invitation”

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The journey of this last year has been wild.

I’ve been learning to step into truth. Not to tell the truth... but to live it. To see where I am and call it what it is. To see what I think am and to embrace it. To then from that point, become what I truly want to be.

What I’ve really learned, is that if I want to see real magic, I have to be willing to be real myself.

Oh. If it’s not clear, I said, “yes”

...I promise I’ll write some poems about it.

Bonus:

https://www.alomoves.com/instructors/talia?instructors=talia&order=relevance& if you want to practice with Talia & I, use the code: GEORGE for an extended free trial. Namaste.

Book Akolade on his East Coast + European Tour!


Astro Poetica September 2019 Tarotscopes by Christine Aprile

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This month is earthy, my friends. Virgo will be asking us to come back to our true and most grounded center, and with so many planets in earth signs til mid month, tangible plans will flourish. Don’t dismay if you come up against your own projections this month! There are ample opportunities to come clear with your own agenda and dispel any doubts concerning the long term feasibility of your goals.

Scroll down to find your sign’s tarot card and poetic mantra.

Aries

New relationships, connections and knocking at your door. How will you answer, and how will you handle the beauty of sharing your inner wealth? 

Taurus

Build your future and enjoy this moment of abundance. You are wiser than you think, so trust that your decisions are based on fact, love and strong foundations.

Gemini

Even in the most difficult moments, we have the power of personal choice. Allow yourself time to process your emotions and feel your feels this month. You’ll bounce back with a deeper sense of personal worth in the end.

Cancer

It really is the journey that matters, and you’re being asked to stay present and focus on where you are right now. This is a time of inner exploration so embrace even the briefest solitary sojourn.

Leo

You’ve been on a deep and transformative journey for the past few years, and the message and storyline are finally becoming clear. Allow your inner light to guide you forward in this moment and trust that you are capable.

Virgo

To truly love is to accept, so meet another halfway, and dare to be vulnerable. Everyone flows in their own emotional manner, so listen with compassion and patience to other points of view. 

Scorpio

You are a necessary part of this world, an intrinsic element in the tapestry of life. Act as such, and shine your light brightly and boldly. Joy is just around the corner.

Sagittarius

Allow inspiration, creativity and intuition to flow this month. Bath in the natural wonders around you, or create a sacred space within your own home. Nature will whisper its secrets to you, so take time to listen.

Capricorn

You are surrounded by opportunities and assistance, but it’s up to you to open up and ask for help. Stating your intentions will help you hone in on what will benefit both your own goals and those of others.

Aquarius

You have the ability to lead with purpose and altruism, but always remember that you too were once a student. Create a safe space so that both teacher and student can thrive.

Pisces

Sometimes a little sleight of hand and creative thinking is necessary. Don’t be afraid to take the lead and utilize your powers of direction. This is a powerful time for you to manifest, so take action.

Libra

Resist the urge to take things lightly, and instead, focus on long term cultivation. You’re creating new modes of operation that will impact your future, so plan wisely and trust the process of development.

Learn more about our live events and monthly subscription service at:
https://www.arspoetica.us/astropoetica

And share your Astro Poetica Tarotscopes tagging @arspoetica.us + @receptive.tarot

When The Alps Call Akolade... Part 2

We wear it proudly

Spotted and scarred, beautiful

the worthy are blind

So.

I was wrong about the shoot dates. 

Usually, thinking you have work when you don’t is kinda awesome. But honestly, when you’re doing it right, I think the opposite is true. I like to think I was doing it right, because yoga and poetry with new friends doesn’t actually sound like a job. I actually really wanted to see this person again.

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Talking about narrative as a construct that both liberated humanity from the limits of evolutionary solutions, yet traps our potential behind societal barriers, as lunch time chitchat is sort of the key to my heart. Waxing poetic about the sweetness of grief reminding us that we have loved, that we can choose love again, and that love is real enough to feel was the dark chocolate dessert I could never say no to.

Also, Gemma was a total sweetheart and was moving to Colorado at the end of the week, so I wasn’t going to get to see her again EITHER. A true travesty, I haven’t quite recovered from.

(Just look at that smile)

I never know how to gauge new people. I often find myself talking to strangers like a trusted confidant. I think it’s because I genuinely love listening. I wasn’t sure whether I was just being humored or if we were all really connecting. I mean, it’s Los Angeles. Everyone’s your best friend you met one time. So feeling like I’d casually blown everyone off left me cautiously aware that I might’ve accidentally closed the door. Which felt pretty bad. Maybe I was overreacting, but I didn’t truly know anything about this person besides that they are a great conversationalist and do yoga:

(Perhaps also like invented some of it)

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A day passes by and I’m thinking about whether or not this invitation to go to her workshop was still open. I know people often offer things to be nice, but don’t always expect you to follow through. Especially in LA, where saying, “yeah! let’s do brunch.” Can also mean, “Bye, Felicia”

I literally booked fifteen people for a photo shoot once, and only one of them came.

I decided I’d try to purchase a ticket to the Workshop just to make sure I wasn’t being presumptuous, but it’s sold out. So I reached out to Talia and she says, “Just come, don’t be nervous. I’m bringing you as my guest.”

I felt so honored.

But I had no idea what was to come.

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More to come in the third and final installment…

When The Alps Call Akolade... Part 1

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Once, wings were broken

Grace is found in the danger

Brave? Foolish? Flying.

Destiny is calling me.

That’s a joke… Or is it? 

I don’t really know if I believe in destiny. I believe in possibility. Possibility is calling me.

The Alps are calling me.

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(Alps not pictured here)

In February I said, “I want to do a yoga teacher training. I want money I earn from doing yoga to pay for it.”

In March someone slid in my DMs after I posted yoga photos for a month and asked me to be in a commercial.

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I thought I was one of those scam things or a brand just trying to get me to buy their stuff and post it. 🙄

Then I discovered that it was Alo.Moves. (Not a scam! Phew! 😩) 

Alo is a yoga brand that has the goal of giving away as much free yoga as possible. They have relationships with a lot of inspirational figures in the yoga community and I’m really honored that they reached out to have me participate...

This is where the story gets crazy.

I brought my typewriter to set. I thought it might be fun to write people some poetry and share the beauty of this thing I do if there was any time. I wrote some poems for the crew, bid them all farewell and thought nothing of it.

Two months roll by and someone slides into my DMs again.

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It’s Alo.Moves and they want to know if I can do inversions. For a two-day shoot.

The answer, of course, is yes.

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(Spoiler alert)

I tell them I can do two days for sure. I get to set and I meet Talia. She’s the teacher for the video and both of us are pretty quiet when you first meet us.

As per usual, I bring out my favorite clickety-clackety ice-breaker and we start chatting about life between takes and through lunch. After we wrap Talia asks me if I can take a photo for her. She doesn’t know I love photography yet, but she’s super pleased and I don’t think anything of it. I’m charmed by how much she enjoys the photo if anything.

But then again the next day we get to talking. And it’s pretty extensive. It’s light, it’s heavy, it’s thoughtful... provocative occasionally and dark frequently, yet always beautiful. The second day, I pull out my actual camera and I take some photos. Talia tells me I’m welcome at her workshop over the weekend, and I’m honored, but I assume when you’re a yoga teacher, it’s just one of those things you tell people. (It’s not) So I tell Talia I’ll see her tomorrow, but I don’t. I thought I was potentially coming back for the extra days, but I end up not being booked.

I feel like a Jeeeerk.

More to come in Part 2

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(Yogi in down dog, begging for forgiveness)