To support my work and get access to dozens of exclusive songs, poems, videos, podcasts, and more, join my community of patrons at www.patreon.com/adamgottliebandonelove

contact: adampgottlieb@gmail.com

Monday, June 8, 2020

Which Side (2020)

George Floyd called for assistance
And was murdered on our screens
The cop's knee pressed against his neck
Now people round the earth are screaming

Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

Don't talk to me about looting
Or any other crime
You're either with Macy's and Target
Or standing for Black Lives

Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

There's millions of good people
Marching in every city and town
Against this rotten racist state
And we won't stop till we shut it down

Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

If we just ended poverty
Why would we need police?
When food is scarce, prisons are plenty
But without justice there's no peace

Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

Eyes on the Prize (2020)

Eyes on the Prize (2020)
Adam Gottlieb
George and Eric cried “I can't breathe”,
We say their names as we take the streets
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Without justice, there's no peace
Abolish prisons, defund police
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
No more human sacrifice,
Sack the system and honor life
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
This time we won't compromise
We'll make them respect Black lives
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hold on, hold on, 

Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.

Freedom riders bound in jail,
buses coming like ships set sail;
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Water Protectors took the water’s bite,
on that cold November night;
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Got my hand on the freedom plow,
wouldn't take nothing for my journey now;*
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Those of us that they don’t need,
they won’t house, educate or feed;
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hold on, hold on, 
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.
Well the only thing we did wrong
was stay in the wilderness for too long;*
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Well the only thing we did right
was the day we started to fight;*
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
We are saved when we believe
if one is chained than none are free;
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
The only chains that we can stand
are the chains of hand in hand;*

Hold on, hold on, 
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.


* traditional verses

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

nursery rhyme


this world sucks.
so let's make a new one.
you & me both baby
(you can come too, son)
we could be new, love
we could be
princes or princesses poets
(we already prophets) you know it /
we got this / it's obvious /
kinda like seeing stars or knowing what God is / yo...
aint it all this? cosmic as honesty
(but that's just theology / i'm off topic)
we should all share,
like we used to in preschool
it just seemed fair - i help you, you help me. cool.
isn't it simple? isn't it just like – duh –
like oh yea, that's right / that makes sense / word uh huh
we can figure it out / fly planes without pollution /
put the robots to work / that's the damn revolution!
it ain't really that scary - change the game / then we're done
all that stands in our way: is these mofos with guns
but we know they're just pawns of the mofos with dough
the bankers / big oil / & big CEOs
& there's only so long they can fool the masses
into settling for crumbs while still kissing their asses
so... we gotta get out there
& spread the good news
it's humanity's birthday / our cake, planet earth
let's choose to share it this time & take care of it better
learn the lesson / remember /
wisdom of the ancestors
& we'll drink lemonade & dance on the roof
(& you can write poetry & i'll cook some food)
& we'll play all day long & sleep all through the night
or do whatever we want to do
(that's the point right?)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Holy Week (2020)

On Holy Wednesday
(which was also the first night of Passover
and the Sleepless Night of Shab-e-barat)
in the middle of the great pandemic
Bernie Sanders announced
he was conceding his run for President
and as we cried into our breakfast
the pigeons on our back stoop
were finishing their nest

On Holy Thursday
(the Day of the Last Supper)
vast fields of tomatoes, squash, and green beans
rotted in the Florida sun
and prisoners in Cook County Jail
after losing a second brother to coronavirus
posted signs in the windows of their cells reading
Help, No Supply and We're Dying
and the Labor Department reported
over 6.6 million Americans
filed for unemployment in one week
and a pop-up pantry in L.A. drew a mile-long line of cars
and the President repeated his call for the country to reopen in early May
(despite the virus claiming a new life every 47 seconds
and the number of us who have been tested remaining well under 1%)
and on Capitol Hill, senators failed to agree
on a second round of COVID-19 relief
and meanwhile, on our stoop
in the little nest tucked behind the red sneakers
under the shelter of the rolled up carpet
leaning against the brick wall
we found a little cream-white egg

On Good Friday
(the day of the crucifixion)
Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital abruptly did not partner
with Evangelical charitable organization Samaritan's Purse
to set up nine medical tents for overflow patients
in the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, as planned
telling news outlets they were reprioritizing resources
(though it may have had something to do with the ongoing controversy
around the Trumpian relief group's anti-gay statement of faith
and the church's plan to hang a Pride flag over the doors of the Cathedral)
in any case the field hospital was not set up
and we sat on our stoop and prayed outside with the pigeons
(the large gray male during the day
who hopped off the egg and sat on the wooden railing cooing
– to draw our eyes away from the nest? –
and the small dark female who sat on her egg
quietly during the night shift)

On Holy Saturday
(the day there was no God on Earth)
another egg appeared

And on Sunday,
as the Pope gave his Easter homily
to an empty St. Peter's Basilica,
and everyday folks around Chicago
brought food and set up pop-up kitchens
for tent encampments around the city
(cooking steaks and frying chicken wings)
and a new squatter house opened up in our neighborhood
and calls for rent strikes and rent freezes went viral on the web
and Emily and Dan celebrated the arrival of a new house puppy

You and I awoke with spirits renewed
(having wept and laughed through the night before)
and ate waffles for breakfast
and afterwards sat outside and again prayed with the pigeons
that their eggs would safely hatch
and the squabs live to fly

for the courage it takes to place faith in new life
and guard our vision of the good world
that we'd like to give to our children
and for the contagion of hope
to catch from heart to heart
faster than the virus
faster than the fear

for a victory that does not bypass suffering and death,
but passes through them,
opening a path in the abyss

transforming sorrow into joy
and slavery into freedom



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Crisis and Hope: A Writing Workshop



Theme: Coping with (the COVID-19) Crisis

Guiding Question: What blessings, possibilities and hopes are emerging amidst the grief, fear and anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic crisis? (Or another crisis)

Brainstorm:
  • Where have you spent most of your time in quarantine? What have you been doing with your time?
    • (Describe it in detail: List the physical surroundings: What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch?)
  • What has been new, different, interesting, or surprising about this time for you? (Try to include things that have been difficult as well as things that have perhaps been new or different in a positive way).
    • For example:
      • On the difficult side: I have been feeling very sad and existential, especially when I hear the news; I have been worried about my parents; I have been anxious about how I'll be able to afford rent, I have been anxious about how to serve vulnerable members of my community like the homeless; it was really hard for me when John Prine, one of my favorite musicians, died from COVID-19; it has also been really hard for me to not touch my face and it seems to be itching more because of it
      • On the positive side: It has been nice to sleep in, I've had more time to read books and write music, I've caught up with old friends all around the world, and I'm spending more time with my dog, etc.
  • Who have you been thinking about during this time? Who are you thinking about now? (List as many different people, specific individuals and groups, as you can think of).
  • What ideas, hopes, prayers, or visions have been on your mind or in your heart?

Examples:
  • "Ode to a Pandemic" by Adam Gottlieb [below]
    • What is an "ode"? (Explain difference between modern "odes" and classical "odes") Why write an "ode to a pandemic"?
    • Note the "zooming out" motion in the poem's voice
  • "Prerequisites for Preservation" by Naima Penniman (see link)
    • This poem was written several years ago, long before the COVID-19 crisis. Do you feel the poem has something to say to us now, in this current crisis? If so, how does the poem seem to speak to this moment? 
    • Note the use of the anaphora (repetition) "We're gonna need." How is this form working for the poem? (What effect does it have?)

Write: 
  • Write a piece that reflects on the nature of this historic moment, for you personally and/or for the world. 
    • Remember our guiding question: What blessings, possibilities and hopes are emerging amidst the grief, fear and anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic crisis?
    • If you're not sure what to write about, look over your brainstorm list, choose an image or idea that stands out to you, and start writing about that.
    • If you're not sure how to start, consider modeling one of the examples. You could write an "ode" to the pandemic, as in Gottlieb's poem. Or you could use the line "We're gonna need" or a similar phrase of your own choosing, as an anaphora, as in Penniman's poem.


ode to a pandemic

From the couch on which I sit
with a pug dog on my lap
beside my window on this wet gray day in Chicago,
to the folks along the highway in their tents, trying to sleep,
to grandmothers in nursing homes, whose hands ache for a hand

To the doctors, nurses, paramedics,
electricians, transit workers, plumbers, pharmacists, firefighters,
farmers, cashiers, ambulance drivers, grocers, cooks, food deliverers,
water systems operators, warehouse workers

To folk in Rome, Beijing, Madrid, Johannesburg, New York,
San Juan, Baghdad, Seoul, London, Rio, Mexico City,
Moscow, Cairo, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Tokyo,
Delhi, São Paulo, L.A., staying home from work

Everywhere we are together
and everywhere alone
Bored, or anxious, talking on Zoom,
washing our hands, watching the news

Every day our deaths are tolled
and stories go untold
Too many lives to weep for
(Who would weep but for their own?)

And yet, which deaths are not for me
to mourn as I would family?
Has not our sense of separateness
been wholly overthrown?

(The evolutionary origins of viruses are unclear
The only fact on which we can agree, they say,
is that they are primordial, ancient as life on earth itself,
integral to the universe, keeping it intact...

And aren't we all as small to God
yet vital to the earth?)

And from each harsh and personal death
affirming the union of our shared breath
is not humanity being born
though it is a painful birth?

Monday, March 30, 2020

ode to a pandemic

From the couch on which I sit
with a pug dog on my lap
beside my window on this wet gray day in Chicago,
to the folks along the highway in their tents, trying to sleep,
to grandmothers in nursing homes, whose hands ache for a hand

To the doctors, nurses, paramedics,
electricians, transit workers, plumbers, pharmacists, firefighters,
farmers, cashiers, ambulance drivers, grocers, cooks, food deliverers,
water systems operators, warehouse workers

To folk in Rome, Beijing, Madrid, Johannesburg, New York,
San Juan, Baghdad, Seoul, London, Rio, Mexico City,
Moscow, Cairo, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Tokyo,
Delhi, São Paulo, L.A., staying home from work

Everywhere we are together
and everywhere alone
Bored, or anxious, talking on Zoom,
washing our hands, watching the news

Every day our deaths are tolled
and stories go untold
Too many lives to weep for
(Who would weep but for their own?)

And yet, which deaths are not for me
to mourn as I would family?
Has not our sense of separateness
been wholly overthrown?

(The evolutionary origins of viruses are unclear
The only fact on which we can agree, they say,
is that they are primordial, ancient as life on earth itself,
integral to the universe, keeping it intact...

And aren't we all as small to God
yet vital to the earth?)

And from each harsh and personal death
affirming the union of our shared breath
is not humanity being born
though it is a painful birth?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Candles




“If we all do as our kindred have done
and refuse to fight for our lives and for our ordinances,
they will quickly destroy us from the earth.”

- 1 Maccabees (2:40)

“I am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land:
will
never be purged away; but with Blood.
I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself
that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.”

- John Brown


Listen,

in these cold nights,
voices ride the wind:

Ave Marias uttered
at a bedside altar
a murmured i love you between a couple
in a tent under a viaduct
the prayers of a child whispered
into the carpet of a Mosque
the war cries of Water Protectors
camped near a pipeline

meanwhile, the faces change,
but the story stays the same:

He shed much blood,
and spoke with great arrogance.
The people mourned deeply
in every community…
young women and young men
became faint…
Even the land
trembled for its inhabitants…

and police joke about brutalities over lunch
and troops gather at the border
to unleash tear gas on children seeking asylum
from unnatural disasters in Honduras
(where U.S. troops are still stationed,
while more wait in Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, Japan, and all across the planet)
and bombers fly routinely over China's waters,
while Chinese children compete with computers
to make more computers
and wages everywhere drop
like bombs
and families around the world open empty cabinets
while perfectly good food sits on the shelves of stores
until it is thrown into dumpsters
and the dumpsters are locked.
and shiny shops spread through the city like boils
while rents soar
and more and more
residents move out (to where?)
and the unhoused gather on the corners
and outside our grocery stores
and places of worship

for the citadel became an ambush
against the sanctuary,
an evil adversary of the people
at all times.
On every side of the sanctuary they
shed innocent blood;
Because of them
the residents of the city fled;
she became a dwelling of strangers;
she became strange to her offspring,
and her children
forsook her.
Her sanctuary became
desolate like a desert;
her feasts
were turned into mourning,

and storefronts close,
and factories rust,
and leaded water runs through our taps,
and another shelter is shuttered in Uptown,
(the list of friends I pray for grows longer every day)

and Lew and Diana take their children
and teenage grandchildren,
and now their infant great granddaughter
into their small apartment

while violence spreads and closes in
around everyone I know

           Alas! Why was I born to see this,
           the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city,
           and to live there when it was given
           over to the enemy…
           Her temple has become like a person
           without honor…
           Her infants have been killed in her
           streets, her youths by the sword of the foe…
           All her adornment has been taken away;
           no longer free, she has become a slave.
           And see, our holy place, our beauty,
           and our glory have been laid waste…

And see how they destroy us
de-story us       file
and defile us         turn our visions into
his       / story            of our lives
caught in their net    /      worth

until the star of David represents Apartheid
and the stars and stripes look like babies in cages
and Lady Liberty seems to be shouting Heil Hitler!
and the Scales of Justice stand for currency exchange

           and in this world,
           what does a Menorah mean?
           or the million lit-up mangers?
           or the eagles on our currency

                      (the money that multiplies 
                      as it kills off the actual eagles)?

           Will Harriet Tubman tolerate
           her face being placed on a twenty-dollar bill
           (her likeness woven into the very sinew
           of Andrew Jackson’s on the other side)?

           And who will remember, this December,
           as they light the Chanukkah candles,
           the murder of Fred Hampton in the night
           and who will light one for Wounded Knee,
           and Standing Rock,
           and tell their children why,
           at the camp of the seven council fires,

                      The U.S. flag was flown inverted
                      because a nation is in peril
                      when it places its first people last
                      and values the deadness of oil
                      over the sacred waters of life? 

                      Who will tell the story
                      of the veterans who went there
                      to kneel at the feet of hundreds of nations

                                 And who can explain
                                 why the flag with a serpent is waved
                                 by Zapatistas in the mountains
                                 and the government that hunts them?

                      Or why the rebels in Chiapas
                      cover their faces with masks
                      and their bodies with rifles

           Or why John Brown ordered rifles
           to be shipped west in crates labeled “Bibles”

Or why, tonight, when we light these candles,
we think of these courageous and their deeds

That we may never forget
the battles they fought
when all other choices failed

And so they learned the proper use
of both prayers and weapons

                      so that one day
                      only prayers might still remain

For these, tonight, and every year,
we light and burn these flames:

One
           for John Brown

One
           for Harriet Tubman

One
           for Fred Hampton

One
           for Standing Rock

One
           for Palestine

One
           for the person without a warm place to go tonight

One
           for the children born in the cold

and One for us,

           that we may become worthy
           of this prayer

           for you,
           and me,

           and all of us
           who (re)dedicate ourselves
           to the land that gives us life

                      who light candles
                      in the darkest of times

                      and in the most dangerous
                      of places

Monday, October 28, 2019

New Fight Song Lyrics for 2019 CTU/SEIU Strike!


Which Side Are You On?

Well come all you good people, good news to you I'll tell
We could get a piece of heaven if we'd only raise some hell
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

You've heard about Chicago: there are no neutrals there
You'll either be with CTU or with the millionaires
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

Which side are you on? Which side are you on?
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

A message for the mayor: be careful what you choose
We've sacrificed so much already we ain't got much to lose
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

They say the teachers are greedy -- How dare they ask for more?
We say school equity should be the common core
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

Which side are you on, my people, which side are you on? (We're on the students' side!)
Which side are you on, my people, which side are you on? 
Which side are you on, my people, which side are you on? (We're on the nurses' side!)
Which side are you on, my people, which side are you on? 
Which side are you on, my people, which side are you on? (We're on the counselors' side!)
Which side are you on, my people, which side are you on? 
Which side are you on, my people, which side are you on? (The librarians' side!)
       (the teachers side, the people's side, the freedom side, etc.)

Which side are you on? Which side are you on?
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?


***

Eyes on the Prize 

Chicago is a Union Town -- We ain't never backin down
Keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on
Chicago streets are chilly and wide, but we got the people on our side
Keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on
Hold on, hold on,
keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on!
Lori Lightfoot, this ain't cool -- We need nurses in every school
Keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on
New boss acts just like the old, but our kids are worth more than gold
Keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on
Hold on, hold on,
keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on!

They will try to spin the truth / but we just want justice for our youth
Keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on
We didn't come this far to now / to give up and turn around
Keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on
Well, the only chains we can stand / are the chains between hand and hand
Keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on

Hold on, hold on,
keep your eyes, on the prize, hold on!


***


We Shall Not be Moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved,
We shall not, we shall not be moved,
Just like a tree that's planted by the water,
We shall not be moved.

We're striking for our students,
We shall not be moved...

We want nurses and counselors,
We shall not be moved...

The people are behind us,
We shall not be moved...

We won't be tricked or bullied,
We shall not be moved...

Estamos en la lucha,
No nos moverán...

La huelga es justa,
No nos moverán

No, no, no nos moverán,
No, no, no nos moverán
Como un árbol firme junto al rio,
No nos moverán