Martha in the End Times

by marthastephens

ARE THESE the end times, my friends?  Have we fellows on Planet Earth just been waiting, ever since November 8, for the final chaos to overtake us?

I guess we figure, even so, that in the meantime we might as well go on with our lives.   See myself here with my Mexican-American friend Christina at the soup kitchen last month in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

We’d chopped vegetables together all morning, and talked and carried on, and now our guests were about to appear — 250 of our fellow citizens, mostly people without work or with work that does not pay them enough to live on.  All of them just carrying on, too, I suppose, in this richest of all countries in the world.


The Fist

BUT THESE END TIMES, my friends — is this the twilight of the gods?  The last cataclysm, perhaps, as predicted by the ancient writings?  Will we see, in the end, the raising of the dead, and the coming, at last, of the true messiahs of peace — and justice — for the earth?

            In short, must we die now — to be born again?

       I do apologize for these religious metaphors, my buds, but how else to understand our planetary lives in this moment of — I can’t resist the phrase — gotterdammerung?

       Now if an astronaut were about to fly away to outer space from a  planet soon to be devoid of life, I’d say to her or him: “When you get out there, my friend, tell them about us!  Tell them everything.”

       If any of the other beings out there come to visit Planet Earth, they’ll wonder, I bet, at its emptiness.  “What happened here?” they’ll ask themselves.  Maybe they’ll see the placards from our rallies, our marches of protest, rotting in the earth, our bullhorns half buried in the sands. “Looks like they tried to save themselves,” they’ll say.  “There must have been those who didn’t want it to happen.”

    The Tea Party Is Alive and Well, and Is Every Last Republican with Them? 

       THEY DON’T CARE  what they do to people, how many die for lack of medical care, for instance, or sick leave or a living wage or a place to live — because they figure it this way:  we have more people than we need in this country.  We don’t need any more workers — so they’re just extras.  So why make any provision for such people?  If they die in the streets — so what?  Lets remember that the Third Reich began with attacks on gypsies, the “work-shy,” and others of no account.  (But Bernie and I say this: Where there’s work — share it!  Share everything!)

                             My Dreams at Plaza Suites Motel 

       IN ANY CASE, there was I last month, a person of means, one could say, at Plaza Suites in Las Cruces.  Still alive, at least, in one of its funny old kitchenettes.  I’ve visited at Plaza for fifteen years now, longer stays and shorter stays, and the sights and sounds that surround me there are like old friends I’m allowed to remember from another life.  In fact, I’ll tell you this: in my dreams in the other world, I know I’ll still hear the cleaning carts clattering over the tiles of the open-air corridor past my door.  Yes, I’ll still hear the carts of the young Latina cleaning women at Plaza Suites.  

And I’ll hear once more a small voice crying out to me from the narrow strip of kitchen at the back of the front room.

“Wipe me!” this little voice will cry, over and over again, and in my dreams I will try to comply.  Yes, I’ll wipe and re-wipe the dark ledge of counter around my sink, though this counter can never be wiped clean.  After some forty years of nicks and blots and blotches and burns, these counters in all the Plaza kitchenettes are totally — how shall I say — injured?  But not fatally?

       These counters are in twilight now, just like the country and me myself — I’ll be 80 next month, after all; and good old Plaza Suites, as I have known it, at least, may be entering its twilight years as well, for my owner, Joe Wilson, is ill and not sure to recover, he says.  Joe, get well.   Live on, my man!

                                            The Catholics Know How to Help
       Some of the immigrants detained in an El Paso detention center have been helped by the Catholic Diocese of SWNewMexico.  They created last fall a program where people from the center could leave if they had families to receive them.  The small church I attend, First Christian, became part of this program.  For several months vans pulled up at church homes bringing refugees from Central America.  They were to be kept overnight and then sent on to their relatives around the country.  My friends the Bruners put up three families from Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras.  These “families” consisted, though, of one parent and one child; it seems that when children were involved, the authorities accepted the release of one parent, but only one, to accompany them.  

Julia Bruner

       Julia Bruner says she liked doing this job, and that even with her small Spanish, it wasn’t difficult.  Still, the Bruners had a couple from Guatemala, a father and young son, that seemed a little baffled by things.  They were not used to beds, she surmised (only mats on the floor?), or even to eating utensils.

       Julia also learned of a refugee woman who had traveled for weeks in the same clothes, and when she was taken to a Catholic thrift store to get some clean ones, the garments she was wearing had to be cut from her body — they had stuck to her skin.   Are we the Evil Empire, my friends?

Aletta Wilson music director at First Christian

The day I was picked up at the El Paso airport by my church friend Aletta Wilson, I learned that the day before, February 3,  she had dropped off at the same airport one of her own refugee families, but had then learned that everything had changed and there would be no more such families to assist!  One hundred and twenty-two families had been helped, but now — no more!

The Unitarians in Cruces are showing, btw, a wonderful film about immigrants called Harvest of Empire!  (See it on YouTube.)  It describes what the U. S. has done in the countries of Central American to keep popular governments from succeeding there — so yes, my friends, people try to flee from the brutal regimes we have armed and still support.

Rogues Gallery

Robin and her mom Elsie are always at church together.

Carol and Joy are church elders. They got married recently!

Wanta include a few more church friends.  I guess you didn’t know that some of us radicals love our churches, which have sometimes been the last line of resistance to the system of wrong we occupy!


Las Cruces — What Are You Anyway?

        ON ANOTHER SUBECT — not everything is wonderful here in Cruces, my friends.  Urban blight to rival Cincinnati’s.   Poverty.   Dirty-looking ramshackled housing units everywhere you turn.  Homelessness.  

But many more people are fighting back these days.   I went out one day to join a mass protest against Rep. Steve Pearce.  He hides now from his constituents just as Senator Portman does in Ohio.  I also took in a meeting of the SWNewProgressives — some call them “the new Berniecrats.”  They’re working to defend public lands, for instance, from the developers, and to stop the diverting of the area’s last free-flowing river, the Gila.   The Progressive Voters Alliance is also in full swing and has to hunt up extra chairs for its overflow crowds.  Activist groups turn up at official meetings no one used to know about — at the county commissioners, for instance.    

       Did I say that Clinton won NM on November 8, and that the Democrats took over both houses of the legislature?  How ’bout that?

Artists Abound Here 

       I GOTTA SAY that in this town people seem to love their arts.  The Arts Council brings to the old Rio Grande movie theater downtown a solid list of good events every week.  Local talent mostly, in music, dance, talk, plays!

Katy Stuckel

As to the visual arts, here’s a woman I’m acquainted with, Katy Stuckel, an old friend of my daughter Paige. Katy had a show for a large installation of hers at the university this year.  Here see one of her self-portraits.  (You can google her name and see her fascinating website!)

Alice Davenport at her Moonbow sewing shop

A woman of my own age named Alice Davenport is an old friend of mine in the sewing arts!   She’s a wonderful seamstress and has made all my skirts for years.  (See her Moonbow Shop on line.)  Last month she took me with her to her book club, where a local woman named Shelley Armitage spoke about growing up on a farm in the Texas panhandle — and her book Walking the Llano.  It’s a fascinating story!

YOU SEE, I’m trying to be positive once in a while.  Late at night at Plaza Suites, I get on my little laptop and remember that Cosi fan tutti is still there — so  far! — and Orfeo ed Eurydice, and the songs of Mercedes Sosa.

      INDEED, I’m wishing all of us plenty of  friends, music, art, and peaceful times . . . to steady us for the revolutionary fightback we’re waging!


       NB: If you’ve read this far, my friends, please consider Following this blog.  You’d get a notice about new posts only every month or two — and I don’t always write this long!  Also happy to have your Comments little or big . . . .