Waterfall At Stanhope

Waterfall At Stanhope
photo by ljoyburke

Thursday, August 08, 2013



I've been thinking lately about how many new rules have shown up. I'm not talking about government rules, I'm talking about the kind of rules that are unspoken. The invisible rules in the social order. The way we are communicating governed by a few tech creatives, a few cultural creatives and a few anarchist who swear that being wired is the ultimate way to go.

Every day I watch folks move through their lives, not actually seeing the life around them, because they are engrossed in the electronic gadget in front of their eyes - or we have the uniform accessory of choice for the 21st century the ipod. I love the genius of invention  and I resent the glut of ways that folks can get to me and the expectation that I should respond immediately. I'm a mixed media artist, so perhaps this rebellion against the pressure of response and engagement every day to my world of friends is perfectly normal. If i'm in the social media world, i miss my own inner world. The house and garden suffer,  the dog starts to look a little like a hobo and my mind becomes overloaded with other people's opinions and feelings about too many things.

Some days I step back turn off all the sound, and listen to the drone of voices in my head that are my own. .  These are incredibly exciting and terrifying times. Artists in the 21st century are fearless, not bound by the overtly conservative morees of the past century anything and everything goes. 

I think the cultural creatives could really start little revolutions all over the planet, and provoke some real evolution towards the common good. Just like they did in the 60's. There was a kind of brilliance there that showed up in every part of life. Made such a difference in freeing people's conciousness, actually helped to wake folks up to a new kind of Freedom. Like the 60's it's not all good. We know that cause folks/people aren't all good.

 Technology in the hands of folks who are working towards the common good offers opportunities that are boundless. I foresee that we'll be moving towards a quest for balance in these next decades. We have the opportunity now to develop as brilliantly empathetic people - or heaven forbid tilt the scale in the opposite direction. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Life is What Happens III - Leaving Suburbia

    Days are the ticking of the clock 
            goin' round, alarms sound
                beginning the day's race
            through green, yellow, red
                         green,yellow, red
            changing too fast in the day 
slowed down to flashing in the night. 

Pedestrians march past city pigeons,
             seldom startled into flight,
   church bells chiming, car alarms
   beeping and whining, merchants
    unlocking and raising their gates.

   Clank of change in computerized 
          drawers, retrograde fashions 
       clogging the stores, clandestine 
        smokers block office building
            doors. Fast cars with vanity 
    plates pass panhandlers with box 
       card signs, begging the movers 
                       for ten times a dime.

And some shady man
sellin' contra band
taps me on the shoulder
he said "We ain't gonna get much older,
seems all the world is thieves,
straight at the top,
it ain't gonna stop this
foolish land of plenty bit,
and you and I we be gettin by
by just ignoring all this shit."
He said, "Take my hand you
gotta make a stand, to deal with
this unnatural life."He said, 'Have 
smoke, you'll see it's all a joke,
then you'll be naturally aware,
then you won't have to care,
'bout sellin' and buyin'
your soul."

Wind blows suddenly
 against a porch chime, 
  angelic sound slows
   down too fast time
   jangled on the wind.

Copyright 9/94 Linda Joy Burke

This Poem originally appeared in "When Divas Laugh" Edited by Chezia Cager 
available at Black Classic Press

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Moods, Minds, and Multitudes
Book I – Somewhere Between There and Here
Poems and Photographs by Linda Joy Burke
A review by Kirk Mullen, facilitator of BES’s Poetry Sunday 

Our Sunday School teacher, Linda Joy Burke, has produced a chapbook composed of seven poems and eight accompanying photographs. In reading the poems, I had to stop after the first two – to psychologically catch my breath. It was as though a vein had been opened up and my life was slowly ebbing away. The only remedy was to put the poems down and come back to them later in the day.

After finishing the poems later that day, I told a friend about how good they were. The poems are disturbing, because they easily take root within your affective domain and those roots are nourished by the images and thoughts that you, the reader, have had to suppress in order to get your mundane and necessary activities of life accomplished. Ms. Burke’s photographs complement her poems. The two, (photographs and poems) chronicle that which is happening around us at this very moment, and yet half of the poems were written between two and five years ago.

If you desire to read well-written socially conscious poems that make you think and reflect on our times, then I suggest that you contact Ms. Burke. Good poetry does not always bring a smile to your face.

Copies of Moods, Minds, and Multitudes are available for $15.
 Support independent publishing: Buy this book on 

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Fired Up

chalk art-Columbia Festival of the Arts -
Photo ljoyburke

A week ago, I turned on the fire under my little single egg frying pan to warm it up, and while I was waiting, went back to do something in my office. When I returned to the kitchen a minute later the frying pan was on fire. I was shocked, but calm, because the fire was small enough that I was able to quickly pour baking soda on it to put the fire out. If I had waited say a couple of minutes more, that fire would have turned into something much worse. Needless to say I was filled with gratitude with my knowledge of how to put out a grease fire, and my ability to maintain a calm focus.

Later that evening I read about this fire in Houston Texas, involving a daycare provider, and the death of 4 of the 7 toddlers in her care. When the story broke, we heard that the woman had left something on the stove in the kitchen, while she was in the bathroom, and it caught on fire.
In a follow up story we learn that camera's at a nearby Target store had captured her image while she was shopping, instead of being in the house with the children. She's fled the country, and the legal system is hoping for her extradition.

I decided to read the comments to this particular article because this is such a devastating thing to have happened those who were killed, and to those left behind. I wanted to know how the community was responding and add my prayers and condolences to the voices.

As I read, I was greatful with those who chose to stand against the hateful rants that also accompanied this story. I believe that this woman should absolutely be brought to justice. I agreed also with those who complain that there are a lot of folks who are slackers, just do enough to get by, and don't care. I see it every day, and it frustrates sometimes and angers me at others. I also believe that there is a good deal of negligence that occurs when it comes to children, ask them - they'll tell you for themselves. They'll tell you in no uncertain terms, that they don't believe people have respect for each other. I know because I've asked them and truly that's a sad state of affairs.

These years with our new found freedom of speech through cyber-speak, are showing how profoundly judgmental and at times vile we are. It makes for an insidious level of disconnect in our day to day interactions . This is the world we are creating for our children - the history we are teaching - the model for being in the world. If that is what we perpetuate, we shouldn't be alarmed when those next generations who will be running the world when we are older, aren't doing it like we think they're supposed to.

All rights Reserved by Author - Linda Joy Burke

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Tribute to Lucille Clifton (1936 - 2010)

A Tribute to Lucille Clifton (1936 - 2010)

Poet Lucille Clifton was a mentor, friend, and teacher to scores of writers in Maryland and around the country. Clifton served as Poet Laureate for the State of Maryland and was Distinguished Professor of Humantities at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She received the National Book Award for her poetry collection, Blessing the Boats (2000). Clifton wrote more than 16 books for children. She served as trustee of the Enoch Pratt Free Library from 1975 to 1984.

Join us for this celebration of the life of Lucille Clifton. Poets from Baltimore and around the state will raise their voices to honor the memory of Clifton's life and works. We invite you to bring your favorite Lucille Clifton poem to share.

Enoch Pratt Free Library
Wheeler Auditorium (3rd Floor)
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore MD


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Listening to One Black Bird

The landscape is fully laden now with
the open leaves of spring
buds abound - hues shift
into the cacophony of early summer days

high on a leafless branch
far from my reach
sits one black bird singing

listen listen, I silence
the random ringings
listen listen

my love is near-says she
listen listen
her song spills beauty into the air

I shade my eyes, cock my head
search the branches for the
musician I cannot touch

the singer tilts her beak toward
cumulus clouds-
trilling trilling

the park is empty
save for squirrels foraging,
amongst pods floating from trees.

a time of innocence remembered
surfaces - summers long buried
converge with those yet to be.

one black bird sings of longing - longing
harmonic notes rise to envelope
seekers in the wood.

Linda Joy Burke
All Rights Reserved By Author

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Coincidence of Knowing Kilo

Kilo - RIP 1998-2010

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I met Kilo about 3 years ago, actually I met Kilo's mom before I met Kilo.
I was walking my dog in the neighborhood when this woman came across the street towards me announcing "I have a dog just a like yours Girl or Boy?." We shared dog stories, my current one being that I needed a place that hadn't been sprayed with pesticides so that my dog could go to the bathroom. Every spring some bug-be-gone company comes to the complex and treats the grounds with chemicals that are harmful to pets and children. I point out the yellow Keep Off The Grass signs to M while we walk and talk. Every year the person who does the spraying - puts up fewer and fewer warning signs - you've got to be alert to know where they are.

She tells me my dog is friendlier than hers, I tell her mine used to be hyper, I'm the Bean's second person. She tells me that she's had Kilo since he was 6 months. We part ways at the narrow dirt path that leads to the convenience store, both of us smiling with the delight of having met each other because of our dogs. I cross the street to get to untainted grass.

I met Kilo some weeks later, though I didn't know this was the same dog as he was with an older gentleman. We would pass on our walks - Kilo and his man person, the Bean and me, however our dogs weren't really friendly, so the man and I just said "hi" to each other or nodded and kept on walking. One day I had my little Canon Sure shot with me when I took the picture linked to this piece.I thought his dog was adorable.

The couple and Kilo moved into the building where I live last fall. That's when I put all of the three faces together and realized that I had heard about Kilo before I'd met him.

Kilo passed away on May 29, 2010 6:00 am - the same day as his dad's birthday. His dad works the graveyard shift, get's off at 6:30 a.m. takes the bus home.

It feels sudden to me because just two days earlier I was jogging down the sidewalk when Ki ran after me barking. I paused mid stride and turned to look at him, he stopped, cocked his little head to the side, and stared back at me.

That's my last memory of Ki, his dad picking him up and saying, "he'll run after everything." We laughed, went home.

M. tells me their last memories of K, beyond what I'd already witnessed: T carrying the open box to the car, his companion rigid inside.I listen to her story, and picture the long painful ride to the animal shelter,them paying the bill for the disposition of Ki's remains.That was the day that the construction crew spent the day working on the exterior of the building, replacing on the wood soffits with metal. The sound of sawing and hammering permeated the air until after 7 that evening. This was not a peaceful departure.

M. tells me about how T keeps things inside. I can tell T's a stoic like that, and I know from what I've seen of him and Ki that his memories run deep. Turns out that this photo may be the only one available to them, which I will print out, frame and give them later today.

As I write this I am struck by how a simple conversation about dogs, evolved into my preserving a memory for folks who were strangers-then neighbors and now by this connection friends.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Flights of Fancy - Butterflies on Display

I went to Brookside gardens in Wheaton Regional Park yesterday afternoon, to see a live Butterfly exhibit. I confess I had mixed feelings about the exhibit. On the one hand the spectacle was beautiful, hundreds of different kinds of butterflies, on flowers, on trees,on fruit, fluttering through the air, and occasionally landing on us. The picture here is from the butterfly on melon collection. On the other hand as I watched the butterflies gathered at the top of the green house, perched on the netting as close as they could be to the sky, I imagined their little butterfly minds screaming we are free beings - not an "exhibit". It was Children's day at Brookside so there was a lot of chatter, squealing, movement, and excitement whenever one landed on someone. One landed on me and stayed with me for a bit of time, and I truly felt blessed. I wondered what it would be like to be there alone with all those fragile creatures fluttering about - would the peaceful energy I felt be amplified without the buffer of so many other bodies.

What I took away from the experience, was many pictures and a little video, and a desire to grow flowers that would entice these magical creatures. This is a task for my garden next year. The Brookside Garden Exhibit ends today.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sometimes There Be Jerks in These Here Hills

When this grown man decided that it would be funny to come up behind me and try to scare me while I was telling a story during the evening's Ghost Tour, I was not amused. There I am, standing on a stone stair, when all of the sudden I hear what sounds like a firecracker behind me. Interestingly enough I wasn't frightened, felt a little startled which is good. Had I been really frightened I might have fallen off the step.

When I turned around to see what had made the sound, there was the guy who previously had been sitting with his date, high up on the pile of schist (Ellicott city granite.) By the feel of things I don't think the group I was leading was amused either. The prank bombed. I had no indication from their expressions that they saw the guy coming as they were listening closely to me. The guy wound up slinking off throwing apologies over his shoulder. I did not respond - looked at my tour group, inhaled and continued telling the story.

Someone asked me later, "does that happen often?"
Something always happens, usually it's to scare the whole group, which I don't mind, we get a laugh, catch our breath, move on. Every once in a while though folks can be jerks and my mettle is tested. I've got about 40 seconds to prevent an internal melt down. No melt down... Fortunately the stick to the script signals reached my brain in ample time tonight, the show went on, the audience was pleased.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do We Really Want the World We Live in to be Dominated by Those who Would Wish and Perpetrate the Worst on People they Disagree With?

Clicked on this article this morning, about the Pres. photographed while talking on the phone with his feet up the desk. The soles of his shoes were facing the camera. The lead line in this piece poses the question on whether Pres. Obama is sending a Subliminal Message with the Soles of His Shoe, equating this (from my viewpoint)innocent behavior of talking on the phone with your feet up, to that Shoe Throwing Incident with the past pres.

I'm noticing a pattern in these kinds of articles, with lead phrase set up to skew one's opinion before reading the piece. That's the real subliminal message - not the fact that Pres. had his feet up on a desk. A photographer follows him around all day, takes 1000's of photos.Some days it feels as if our collective inner child has taken over with the way things/people/ways of being are scrutinized. Boundaries are a pass code- Nothing being sacred, or secret the norm rather than the exception.

This nonsense couched as "news" is an insult to progressive, thoughtful people. The poll (there’s always a poll) asks how many are insulted - 26% 100,000 clicks, were and how many weren’t 74%. The comments, unfortunately many from those folks who were insulted were mad and mean. The thing about this new culture of vitriolic, put it on cyber blast criticism, is that it easily infects those folks whose spiritual immune system is so weak that it only takes a photo to validate their feelings of hate.

I am reminded me of another time in American history where organizations like the Sovereinty Commission existed. The commission, an official agency which was based in Mississippi from 1956-1973, and funded by tax dollars, had the sole purpose to repress Black people. The guy who Murdered the guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC this month is of the same ilk as members of this Sovereignty Commission.

There's a new Code Level emerging in this age of fighting terrorism - which seems is being taken directly to the people. Check out this piece in Salon magazine which speaks directly to that notion.

I've been concerned for over ten years now, and believe more than ever, that how we assert our citizenship - our humanity during these times, will directly impact our offspring's future. Boomers the generation that is bound to the tragedies of our separate and unequal histories are far removed from the millennials whose connection to web of the digital world empowers them with the capacity to truly be transformative.

Where one group has possibly had a scarcity of information about people/cultures/ways of being different than themselves, the other knows limitless possibilities in discovery. The tension between the forces of progress and regression call us all to a kind of crucial attention. Here’s my provocative question again, do we really want the world we live in to be dominated by those who would wish and perpetrate the worst on people they disagree with?

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Random Post In The Middle of The Day

I was visiting two retired teachers, Rachel Smith and Singer Songwriter Emmalene Garrett Penn on Friday afternoon. I'd just shot a little video of Penn singing her new single Teachers' Tears, and I wanted to show them how videos can be used in websites.

When I went through the Rolodex of my mind to find something to load onto my site, Stevie Wonder's name immediately appeared. When I was child the first three albums I remember receiving were Sly and the Family Stone, The Jackson Five, and then a little later Stevie's first album. Stevie was a real miracle to me back then, still is, so much creative passion in him. Superstition is an interesting song, considering those years.

Old heads (children of immigrants and the enslaved) had barrels of superstitions which they passed down to their children, while New Age citizens were delving into metaphysics, paranormal psychology, extra terrestrial/walk-ins, and worrying about alien abductions. Those years were such a fun time for self discovery the younger boomers.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heron at Wilde Lake


While working on some projects,
I ran across these heron photos from the last season.
My mind is filled with so many distractions
wanting to just spend weeks away from the
heavy handed news, that I decided to stop
working and do a little creating

visioning that I am
wrapped in a verdant batik
listening to so many notes up lifting
smelling fragrant scents drifting
wishing for
resurrections redeeming
in this troubled land of the free.

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One of My Peeps

One of My Peeps
Robin photo by ljoyburke

Vote for Heal a Woman Heal a Nation Inc.

Chase is having a competition to divide 5,000,000 amongst 100 community based non-profits. I've voted for Heal A Woman Heal a Nation Inc. Baltimore City Non profit organization which works to give women the tools they need to be empowered to have happy healthier lives. The founders started the organization right out of college, have sponsored 5 highly successful conferences and monthly workshop events. They deal with a variety of topics, from health care, to financial literacy. Today is the last day to cast your vote so I hope you'll take the time to vote for them. Peace and Blessing to all in the this season of light-celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa.