Voices from the WTO

Occupation By Wendy C. Ortiz

Wendy C. Ortiz has lived in Olympia, Washington since 1993.† She is a writer and activist who frequently uses radio, video, and print journalism to get her points across.

All I have to say is this:
The dreams.
Have you dreamt of
running and throwing things and clouds of
Have you dreamt of
being chased/yelled at/warned?

Walking down the street of the town I have
Lived in for six years.
Noise.† I cringe.I never used to cringe.
My partner comes running at me from
Across the street.† Just running.†I look around, pained,
Figure out escape routes and
think, What are we running from now?
Then I realize itís over.
But itís not.

Iím from L.A. and I
know something about riot cops.
Riot cops: they circle the hollywood palladium
at punk shows.
Helicopters: everyday occurrence.† Spotlights are backdrops
in the Valley.
But I didnít know about
Armored vehicles,
Civil emergencies over
Cracked glass and some constructive criticism
painted on store windows.

All I have to say is this:
The dreams.
Traces of trauma that outline
The places where I am supposed to be
It wasnít enough that they stalked us in the streets,
they now occupy
my dreams

The waking dream merged with its twin, nightmare:

I was walking, on a rainy morning, down a hill
and closer to the central nervous system:
the patterns and paths people took as they wound
through streets
I walked through intimately, indiscriminately, like a
cell jogged from its tiny space, pushed on a
long, continuous journey to be replaced.
I was walking
Surrounded by a starfish formed of people;
a being that undulated and color-changed and
various pockets of danger that threatened
and later seeped into sleep.
Witnessed again and again,
a force so lioness that I
Couldnít put the pride to bed.
Each cell in me remembers:
despite fingers on triggers, pepper-splash-
happy people in power drag, despite
hundreds of feet clamoring to escape from a wide,
car-less-street and gas that did a number on
our lungs,
I felt safe.† Hope.† Pleasure.† Strength.
The central nervous system experienced a necessary
and rejuvenating jolt
that I carry with me in waking memory, like
a woman, smiling, who carries a knife in her teeth.

You misunderstand if
you donít find the love and hope and aliveness
in this poem.† (check the shadowed doorways)
There is room for joy
and room for mourning.† No either/orís.
I can always trade a cup of constantly-threatened
with a cup of safety-in-numbers.
I can trade trauma that goes back for centuries with
Healing that comes in a manner of days, in the streets.
I can trade nightmare for
and the promise of
in between.


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