Michael Rossman At the Birth of the Free Speech Movement: Archives, Poetry, Essays, Manuscripts, Translations, Learning-Games, Science Pedagogy
Michael Rossman, photo by Marc Franklin
I wrote the following poem for Free Speech activist, poet, writer, scientist, thinker, teacher, archivist, musician, father, rock hound, human being extraordinaire, Michael Rossman who is in the hospital undergoing treatment and transfusions for a rare form of leukemia which was diagnosed this past July. Many people know of and know Michael as he has many friends and admirers strung across the globe. I know him as a much admired poet and friend, activist and thinker. I wanted to share this poem, inspired by accounts of a series of dreams he had while in the hospital which were posted on his leukemia blog. Michael Rossman's official website is a new site where he has been busy posting his books, poetry, essays, a science teaching manual, translations, Berkeley Free Speech Movement history, political poster archives and other material in their entireity: a virtual wealth of information and materials which deserve to reach a wider audience. I am hoping to help publicize the website, so if you can, please link to his sites and help to get them into circulation and visible on the search engines. This material is a great gift.
Michael Rossman was one of the founding organizers of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and was there at the wheels of the patrol car holding Mario Savio at Sproul Plaza on October 2, 1964 along with 1,200 others--soon to swell to 10,000 plus others. He, along with many others, stood up on the top of the patrol car that day and began to speak truth to power. He is still speaking, and writing, with his shoulder always to the wheel. Please help to keep this history alive as Michael struggles to maintain his own life. His spirit, as always, is strong--and we are the richer for it.
I am a child of the Free Speech Movement which was a movement for Civil Rights for all, and I know I owe my being here to it's legacy. What stopped the war started my life. And I am not alone.
You can read a short account published in California Magazine forty years after the event here at this link.
Watch a video of Michael Rossman speaking about Berkeley in the Summer of Love here.
Michael Rossman's Official Website
Michael Rossman's blog where people can visit and leave comments and keep up to date on his conditions and learn about ways to help.
Or visit Michael Rossman's Leukemia Blog where you can just read the individual entries.
Here's my poem, with much love and all best wishes for Michael:
The Recovering Rockhound Dreams Remission
He dreams of crystals as big as his chest,
a super-mall of captive light working
a rare and lightening magic: amethysts
as large as bottled ships, slabs of serpentine
flaking into scales as big as floor tiles,
aquamarine seas of watery mirrors and rainbow
cavalcades of tourmaline headdresses.
What would it take to enter there, to buy
all the stock in hand? What would I do with all the hematite
I could carry but could not lift? Where would I put these sterile
globes of rose quartz, these ancient spears of fission ash?
All around him is a light-show, kaleidoscope of fun
perspective, minute facets of knowing, experiments
in receptivity, dual points of view for the asking, hard
products of the quest, the desert's canyon horde.
Every probe, an opening. Every opening, a dripping
stalactite mound. Where would I put the feet
to hold this massive rock, these jagged ridges
in the clusters' sway? Serious enough to crush
a man. More precious than money's worth, a man
who sparks when the lights go out, who refuses
to go - that one vein yet uncovered, that extends
into the family of man, a geodesic harmony
of connections, fugue into living. At dusk
the exploration begins, a dusting, a delicate
operation that could last a lifetime
Lorna Dee Cervantes