Volume II: April 2024

Hi folks,

We continued to put down roots over the past year – hosting concerts and cohorts, getting our nonprofit status, laying the groundwork to keep growing. We are deeply grateful to everyone who helped us make 2023 a foundational period for MidMountain – and the new crop of MidMountaineers who have already helped us start 2024 in the warm embrace of community. 

Even now, MidMountain is hosting its juried event, the Art is a Natural Bridge environmental art show and film festival: walls once bare are now abundant with the creative harvest from more than a dozen artists. And our first audiodocumentary, How Terry Bisson Made Up Imaginary Worlds, is out – with a community book club about to start!

And more will come. 

Andy “River” Peterson

P.S. Some highlights from Art is a Natural Bridge are below, and at the end the end!


Cosmic Crossroads by Mariam Baksh

When I had just come to the United States–for college, in my last year of teenagehood–a professor gave us one of those wonderfully vague assignments essentially allowing submission of whatever the hell you wanted for a grade. Embracing the spirit of the exercise, I automatically tapped into a theme I would revisit over the years producing the first in a series representing the challenge and the bounty of agency I’ve been privileged to experience. 

You can see it below the title of this piece.

Tragically more for some than for others, while it can feel like life proceeds fixed along rigid rails, pivotal choices also seem to constantly multiply. They are, of course, ultimately finite for all, however. 

Thankfully, I’ve been able to veer off the tracks and know it’s possible to make new ones–to explore beyond the main line at any time, until its inevitable end. And terminus, despite the pressure of debts apparently owed to convention, should encourage just that for personal gratification. 

Incidentally, it should also prompt a rejection of the urge to passively ride the rails as they’re neatly laid out before us to become complacent in, to accept and try to ignore our pooling disgust at the victories of injustice. It’s too often easier to do the wrong thing.   

With the newest in this compass series you’ll see at the end of this story then, I zoom into the switching mechanism to better navigate. Because the times when I’ve recognized my power to construct and travel new paths, instead of just continuing down old worn ones–sometimes to honor perceived obligations to parents, or country or other else–have always been the junctions that most explode with the substrate of life.

Coming to MidMountain–where we’re consciously building our own ends–is one such point in these cosmic plains. And it’s clearly an especially big one, magnified by the communal confluence.  

In college, on some level, I decided to pursue journalism instead of art as a profession. And while this is changing more recently, survival in the industry generally requires restrictive formatting and the suppression of opinions, practices that cannot stand in art’s domain, that stronghold of subjectivity undeniable for any worthwhile living’s making. 

Now, 20 years later and squarely into mid life, I’ve finally arrived at a moment wherein I go past calling bullshit on an infamous false choice–when I realize not just the joy of creating art, but the responsibility to do it. 

People here understand this, this place seems to understand it. 

In one of my first ventures out to the space, I met Timothy Bailey, the impossibly empathetic and insightful human behind the acclaimed album ‘Timothy Bailey and the Humans,’ who shared this compelling admonition of The Muse, key lines from which I’ll share here:


“I’m with you when you treat art—your own, others’—with seriousness, as worthy of debate, as a force that creates the world as much (or even more) than it responds to it.”

In this vein, MidMountain has now more fully realized its mission as a place where art is not shunted to the side in the struggle for global justice, but becomes a central seed.

This year we joined Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (or POWHR) Coalition and Artivism VA in protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which failed multiple environmental impact reviews and continues to threaten life in the region only through a grotesque deal between politicians in D.C. 

We became a passel of possums unwilling to let officials who might still be able to stop the project forget about its toll. I’m not suggesting a particularly high degree of artistic value be attached to the possum puppetry and banners we spent a very special weekend crafting (although they do look really cool!) 

Afterall, as The Muse told Bailey:

“When you confuse propaganda with art, I oppose you—regardless of the righteousness of your politics.”

What I am suggesting is that making life’s choices–the way you live–can be understood as art, even when, and sometimes because, a person has the most limited and difficult choices.

In his memoir A Long Way Gone, for example, the author and humanitarian activist Ishmael Beah detailed life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. His skill as a writer is clear, and unsurprising given his heritage to a rich tradition of storytelling.

But what was most impressive, after knowing his waking nightmare, is how he was able to take control and shape his own life and the simple lesson in it for us amid a time of deep collective moral scarring as the suffering in Gaza continues.

“We are all brothers and sisters,” he said at a United Nations conference for children in conflict zones after a period of rehabilitation by committed care workers. 

“I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive,” he said. “But I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process, I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge, and revenge and revenge will never come to an end…”

It’s a fine line that supposedly divides art and life itself. But up where the two grow, that’s where you’ll find MidMountain. 

If the example of my own life were to be hung up in a gallery somewhere, its consumer would be able to see how–before getting to this place–I might have been too afraid to even utter “Gaza” in this moment without describing all the circumstances on “both sides” of the tragedy. 

Seeing the people of POWHR use their voices to support Gaza and the struggles of people a world away in the midst of a desperate campaign against the pipeline challenged my ideas about journalism and political organizing alike. In an enlightening social media post they highlight the prospect of the pipeline serving the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, which, owned by Bae Systems, would then be supplying Israel with weapons. The pipeline would quite literally be fueling the carnage, along with the revenge acts layered on revenge acts that pollute our collective psyche.

It is all connected.

And as Ishmael Beah said, it will never stop. Unless we have the courage to jump the tracks.    

Our obligation to be our authentic selves, is the same as our obligation to art. It may seem counterintuitive, because we’re not used to having nice things, but art’s value to the collective is not diminished by its personal enrichment. 

The reality is quite the opposite.

River has already told the story of how MidMountain came to be. 

“It was one of those classic instances where you have an idea and it turns out it’s already been done,” they told me remembering how they learned of late Science Fiction author Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain, a novel which imagines a future where the forces of justice won at a crucial point in our history.

The vision had permeated the ether. Let’s leverage that, let’s saturate all of what’s left of the air around us with it so it will glow and be seen from far and wide, making our little outpost a beacon for those who want to change their heading.

Immersion in the genre of alternate histories in general, like all good acts of art and of life, takes courage. But flexing the muscles of imagination so deliberately, so boldly–by both the reader and writer–is critical for creating a world we can reconcile with our internal compasses. This might be why it’s become something of a MidMountain initiation ritual to leap–and fall 10 feet–before being submerged in the reviving waters of the Arnold Valley Straw Pond. 

More to the point, it’s why we’re reading Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain to kick off the MidMountain book club. 

Come join us. You might just find it sparks something along the route to your own final destination, while illuminating a better path we can all take together.

Find out more about the MidMountain book club at www.midmountain.org/ourconnectedculture

Radiance by Eve Ettinger

This morning I watched five red cardinals on skeleton perches

In the pokeberry bushes, which weeks before bled out on my white dog 

When she ran from their arms to return to me, her face covered in wine-dark juice.

And though the bushes are wintered down and dull in the grey of dawn,

I saw your lips there as the cardinals in a line spread their crimson wings to fly,

Looking so much like your mouth when it opened to laugh after tasting mine. 

When they were gone, my dog raced me back to the kitchen, 

And I stood by the sink to kiss the carmine heart of the peony you gave me;

Craving your lips, I took those soft petals in my teeth instead.

Glorious Altocumulus by Monica Stroik

Interregnum: anno domini meets long-awaited cathartic purge by Katie Magdalene 

What do 2024, 2020, 2016, and 2012 have in common? They are not only election years; they are also “leap years,” during which an additional day is added. During a leap year, February contains 29 rather than 28 days, to make our year 366 days long.

It is not as if every 4 years, the Earth suddenly takes a bit more time to make its way around the sun. This conceit in many of the calendars used globally—the Julian/Gregorian calendar—was implemented to accommodate the fact that the Earth takes roughly 365.25 days to complete its solar orbit.

In both the presence and absence of patterns, the ways we keep and tell time shape the realities we perceive. They encourage us to trivialize the existence of “second,” “minute,” “hour,” “day,” “week,” “month,” and “year.” They structure the assumptions we are allowed to make.

Their seeming neutrality keeps us from considering their form and content too deeply to question those assumptions. Given the widespread influence of our hegemonic time system—and its deleterious effects on most of the world—now is a good time to ask ourselves where these conceits come from.

These include the hour, minute, and second 60-unit subdivision; the 12 and 24 of hours, months, and zodiacal subdivisions; the 4 of seasons; the 7 of weeks; and the names of each. 

Does timekeeping calibrate metaphysics? In other words: do the methods we use to tell and track time determine the course of our reality? 

I hope to show you more of this Great Recalibration.

How Terry Bisson Made Up Better Worlds by River

Terry Bisson was an iconic science fiction author and editor we lost in January of this year at age 81 to colon cancer. He’s probably best known for his short story work, including “Bears Discover Fire” and “They’re Made out of Meat.” (In the former, Bears… well, discover fire. In the latter, aliens discover that humans are made of meat–and are, somewhat understandably, grossed out by us.)

But at MidMountain, we were inspired by his alternative history book Fire on The Mountain, published in 1988–and we are going to read it together in a book club in the coming weeks. The novel is about a world where the 1859 raid led by John Brown on a federal armory in Harpers Ferry succeeds in setting off a self-emancipating revolution, ultimately leading to the rise of a Black communist society in the American South. 

In season one of Our Connected Culture we explore how Bisson’s lifelong activism was central to how he imagined a better world in the novel  Fire on the Mountain, using previously unreleased audio of Bisson from May 2020 as well as interviews with friends and comrades including Peter Coyote, Kim Stanley Robinson, Annalee Newitz, Paul Park, Mary Corey, and John Kessel. Quotes follow – lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Terry Bisson on the inspiration for Fire on the Mountain: “ I was involved at the time with an anti-racist group called the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee – and it was a new left sort of after the '60s, but pretty much the politics of the new left in the '60s. Those kind of politics were what inspired [me] and I wrote the book to kind of embody them. 

And that was the period when, you know, what we think of today as the new left, which came out of the '60s, the central idea was the road to socialism was through national liberation.That's what we saw happening. That's what it was. It's what Vietnam, the first defeat of colonialism, and you had Nicaragua, and you had anti-apartheid stuff in South Africa. You had stuff happening in Ireland and a lot of different places.

And now there was a large [...] component of worldwide of leftist thought that had the, the road to socialism was not through the European industrial working class union movement and all that kind of stuff, but it was actually happening through people's war in all these different countries…It had a lot to do with Cuba. It had a lot to do with Che Guevara.

And that's a different model of how the world changes, of how socialism happens and all that. And of course, it didn't work out that way. I mean, none of those became successful socialist countries, certainly not South Africa, certainly not Nicaragua, certainly not Ireland, you know.

But that was people's thinking at the time. And so that was, that's really the model that I was sort of following. And one of the, and so you had the idea of a black state in the South. Well, that's an old, that was an idea of the communist party back in the '40s and '50s. [...]

None of this has actually worked. But that was the origin of that thinking…”

Terry was originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Kentucky and then went to Grinnell in Iowa for college. By then, he was already an activist. In 1961, during he became part of a group of protesters popularly known as the “Grinnell 14.”

“F]our women and 10 men — decided to drive the thousand miles to Washington, D.C., and fast for three days in front of the White House, Others would stay behind to organize campus support. The goal was to protest the nuclear arms race and the resumption of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, to support President Kennedy’s proposed test-ban treaty and “peace race,” and to force the subject into the public forum,” Terry wrote in a reflection for the Grinnell Alumni magazine co-authored with fellow protester Peter Coyote –  friend of Bisson, writer, actor, narrator, and zen Buddhist priest.

Peter Coyote: “I met Terry in September 1960.I don't remember the day.It was my first day on the campus…I think I had just left my room and I was walking across the quad and I saw this lanky guy and he was humming "Blue Train" by John Coltrane.

And I sidled up to him and I called it.I said "Blue Train" and we fell on step and we went into the Student Union. And that's what we did for the next two years until he left.

We drank coffee, talked about poetry and books and politics and had a series of pretty remarkable adventures together.”

Among those adventures was the trip to DC as part of the Grinnell 14, where protesters eventually met with both the White House and a Soviet Union representative amidst concerns over nuclear proliferation.

Peter Coyote: “I mean, it seemed like the world could go up. And a bunch of us were facing the prospect of not growing to maturity, not getting a chance to live the life that we imagined.

And so 14 of us began cutting class and we began meeting and planning a trip to Washington. And we were pretty strategic about it. One of the guys with us, Michael Horwath, was a pretty old Democratic hand. We all decided we'd wear ties and jackets and we'd keep our hair short and we would protest the resumption of nuclear testing, but we'd support Kennedy's peace race.

And Terry and I hustled money and we bought two old cars, a '48 Chevy and a '49 Ford. [We]  got them running and made them safe.”

The whole thing became a milestone in the student activist movement.

And it was just one of a number of defining adventures for the pair, including a peyote trip that led to Coyote taking on his last name. 

Terry stayed involved in activism beyond his exploits at Grinnell. After also attending the University of Louisville in Kentucky, he bounced between trying to be a writer and working as a mechanic in New York City and exploring alternative communities in the American South and Southwest. He had a family with his first wife, Deirdre Hoist, who he was married to from 1962 to 1966 before connecting with second wife, Mary Corey – now a beloved history lecturer at UCLA, but then a young journalist in New York City – and eventually decamping for commune life. 

Mary Corey: “What we were going to do is go build a post-revolutionary society.And then everyone would come to us when the revolution happened and we would be the safe place.

Right. You know, I mean, now when I think about it… I think that's so deluded. And in fact, we were doing the safe thing that we had the resources to do.”

While they remained lifelong friends and Corey credits Terry with dramatically changing her life trajectory, they didn’t stay together.

Mary Corey: Terry was the daddy. He was the baby daddy of that for sure.

You know, and he could be bossy, he could be, he could be stubborn and he could be shaming.You know, he had all of those qualities, but he had the vision thing [...]

Although he made my life much bigger and much bolder and much more historic and much more interesting, I really couldn't live within the confines of that dynamic.. I wasn’t grown up yet.


Judy's a whole other matter because Judy's not under anybody's thumb. And I love that about her.”

Judy Jenson was Terry Bisson’s longest term partner, who he was with until his death. The pair were involved in the May 19th Communist Organization, which involved a lot of the same people as the Weather Underground, and went back up to New York to organize. Bisson then also resumed his professional writing ambitions, publishing his first novel with a pulpy fantasy called Wyrldmaker in 1981, then a contemporary southern junkyard fantasy called Talking Man.

All the while, he was an activist. And the government took notice.

He was subpoenaed in 1985 to testify and name those suspected of bombings at the Capital and other targets. Instead of testifying, he spent three months in prison. And during that time, he started Writing Fire on the Mountain. 

But going behind bars for the cause also seemed to burn Bisson out, according to close friend fellow science fiction author Paul Park..

Paul Park. “He had a lot of time to think not just about, you know, utopian ideas of the future, how we might change as a society, but also – he got a little jaundiced at the absurdities of May 19th, a little bit.

I mean, you know, it took awhile for him to come around to ways where he felt that kind of direct action, you know, didn't seem to work either. e always sort of romanticized May 19th, even after the Brinks robbery and all that. And he never sort of forsook those values, but I think he out of that catastrophe he … got a little more clear-eyed about the weaknesses of that kind of political project as well.“

After Fire on the Mountain, Bisson went on to write more novels and become a master of the science fiction short story. But he was still an organizer. Kim Stanley Robinson, a longtime friend and fellow lauded science fiction author who often explores the idea of utopia, remembered that Terry was always pushing people together.

Kim Stanley Robinson: “He was an organizer in that he just invited people to get together. He suggested that we do things.

He was always wanting to party and he started things like Science Fiction in San Francisco, SF and SF.

And through that work, he helped a younger generation of writers find and grow their own communities – including science fiction author and journalist Annalee Newitz.  

Annalee Newitz: “I feel like Terry built a lot of the science fiction communities that I came up in when I started publishing science fiction.So when my first novel, Autonomous, came out, I read at the KGB Bar Series in New York that unbeknownst to me, he actually kind of founded an earlier version of that series.

And I always present my work when it's new at SF and SF, which is a series that Terry founded as well.And I feel like Terry has always been a presence in the community.

And among writers, there's this tendency to fetishize the great work that someone wrote.

Like, oh, what was the big thing that they produced that everyone gave an award to or that became a bestseller? Terry had great works, but some of his greatest works were communities.

And these are communities that continue to exist now that he's gone.And I think that's really what my relationship with him was, was as someone who was a community organizer.

He was responsible for introducing me to a bunch of other writers whose work I now follow avidly and who I've made friends with.And so that was, that's kind of how I saw him, was like, ‘science fiction uncle.’”

By 2020, when Terry and I spoke, he had long lived in California where his literary life saw him write almost everything — from radical biographies to nascar books for children and Star Wars novels, plus the book adaptations of films like Galaxy Quest and the Fifth Element. He took pride in being a journeyman writer – a wordsmith in the most literal sense of the term. Or, as Park described him… a hack. 

Paul Park: Terry was like totally a hack and I'm totally a hack.So we got like a huge amount of pride in thinking, you know, this is a skill that we do.

Like we don't have any, we don't tell ourselves that ‘we're special kind of people, you know, with a certain type,’ and we don't think, ‘oh, that writing is really about us and our special way of sort of dealing with the world,’ or whatever.

No, we're just, like, we're hacks writing for money. That's what we are. And we're really good at it. And part of what makes us really good at it is ‘no job too small,’ you know, whatever you want we can do.”

And no matter what he did, Terry committed himself to it, according to fellow science fiction author John Joseph Kessel. 

John Joseph Kessel: One thing about Terry was that he was a man of the book, in the sense that he worked in publishing and he wrote and he wrote all kinds of different things.

He didn't put on airs in the sense that some writers style themselves as being very literary and they look down on pulp fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.He would take whatever job he had to take in order to make some money.

And I think he, you know, devoted his efforts to these as seriously.I mean, he wrote the, you know, Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers from NPR's Car Talk? Well, Terry wrote, ghost wrote their book.

Terry’s broad scope ultimately came from being incredibly thoughtful and well-read himself, according Robinson. But he was incredibly humble and lowkey about literary advice.

Kim Stanley Robinson: “It was a combination of political teaching and literary teaching, but always as a kind of a Zen master. Not the kind of Zen master that whacks you on the head with his staff, but the kind of Zen master that kind of just tips you or gives you a little phrase, like a koan.

‘Ponder this one for a while, Stan, and see what you come up with.’

That was the kind of friend and teacher that Terry was.It was profound, but it was also subtle.”

But Terry’s literary work was also part of his activism. 

Annalee Newitz: “He strongly believed in idea of praxis, the union of theory and action, which grows out of historical materialism and Marxist ideas of history.

And he made that happen.

He wanted to have spaces where people came together and formed something bigger than themselves.

And like, sure, SF and SF, the series that he hosted for many, many years in San Francisco, it's not huge. Like, we're not about to overthrow fascist dictators who take over the US government. We don't have that power.

But we do have the power to be there for each other. And we have the power to listen to each other's work and give each other feedback and help each other get heard over all of the chaos and the mess.

And I think that's what matters in the end. Like what matters is who we connect with and how we connect other people to each other. I  really hope that that is a big part of how Terry is remembered and that people don't say like, but he wrote this one great story.

And it's like, yeah, of course he wrote great stories. But even more than that, he built great communities.”

For more than two decades near the end of his life, he wrote “This Month in History,” a feature for science fiction magazine Locus, where he made up the future–often with dark humor–in perfect miniature. 

Here are a few snippets highlighted in feature by Margret Grebowicz for the New Yorker about Terry and the column in October of 2023:

March 22, 2099. Amazon buys Amazon. In what critics deem an environmental “Hail Mary,” the 8 million square km carbon sink is purchased for the retail giant’s Prime Preserve, which also includes wetlands in New Jersey and Sudan.

February 11, 2114. “Crap gas” ban. Overriding a joint US/Israel veto, the World Congress prohibits civilian use of C-330, the military assault gas that renders crowds incontinent.

November 9, 2176. First dog on Mars. Yeolhan, one of the 94 Nureongi on Hyundai’s 

colonization fleet, escaped through a galley vent shortly after touchdown, and died while trying valiantly to bark, but at what was never revealed.

Those generally seem like pretty different futures from the optimistic trajectory set out in Fire on the Mountain.

Kim Stanley Robinson: “There's a black humor, gallow's humor. But they're genius. And he was producing for a month, every month for 20 years. It's like a Roman candle or some kind of perpetual fountain of ideas.

I don't know anybody else who could have done it. I don't think he understood how he could do it, but he could. It's the particular form of his talent, his gift, was to come up with those things.”

But in our conversation Terry also explained there was a pretty practical reason for why there’s so many dark visions of the future in science fiction.

Terry Bisson: “It's harder writing utopias because novels are about problems. And so you have to come up with different problems. You don't have to, you know, if you're writing Utopia, you have to sprinkle some problems in there.

It's much easier to write a dystopia 'cause you hear the problems and you can make 'em up and it makes for a better story.”

But as we’ll talk about in the coming weeks, Terry used human drama to create conflict even while writing an alternative world where much of society is harmonious. 

And he remained satisfied with Fire on the Mountain when we spoke, more than thirty years after it was published, even as our own timeline failed to live up to his utopian dreams.

Terry Bisson: “I wouldn't change a lot. I would still see that as a sort of utopian vision. I mean, my utopian vision has to do with basically the United States falling apart. And I think as I sit here now, watching it, I feel like I'm watching it happen. And I'm not very enthusiastic about it. 'Cause of course, the basic idea in The Fire on the Mountain is if the US imperialism falls apart, then all these good things happen.

And I think that we've all learned from Trump and what's happening in Europe and everywhere, that to see the old order break down doesn't necessarily bring on something good. Things are collapsing and getting worse.

So, I don't feel the same way. I don't feel very enthusiastic watching the institutions of the Constitution and the United States being dismantled. Probably in my earlier years, I would have thought, ‘oh, that's a good thing that should happen.’

I don't feel that way anymore. 'Cause I'm watching it happen. And I'm an old man watching bad stuff happen. So, you know what I'm saying? I wouldn't change the story of the book, I think it's a utopian vision.”

Terry’s capacity for vision will be missed by many. 

Peter Coyote: “He inhabited the kingdom of the imagination and he granted it full credulity and credibility. And that in itself in this materialistic, greedy, gotta have it world is an achievement.”

Terry and I ended our phone call in 2020 with plans to stay in touch and I wish we had more. I emailed Terry after purchasing MidMountain in a message so full of information he responded: “Not sure what you want or how I can help,” inviting me to call again. But I lost track of things in the chaos of the pandemic and when I reached out again in 2022 by email and by phone, I didn’t hear back. 

When I heard about Terry’s passing this January, I grieved – then panicked while thinking I lost access to the audio of our talk on an old laptop. But I tracked it down, along with interviews from other folks in Terry’s orbit, and am sharing them here and in Our Connected Culture so maybe he’ll inspire you to make up better worlds too.

In the coming weeks we’re also going to be reading along together with the utopian vision of Fire on the Mountain and share our more from people in Terry’s literary and activist world. Would you like to join us?

“I was more interested in writing a utopian alternative in history than a dystopian one.” - Terry Bisson

In season one of Our Connected Culture we explore how late science fiction author Terry Bisson’s lifelong activism was central to how he imagined a better world in his 1988 novel Fire on the Mountain, using previously unreleased audio of Bisson and as well as interviews with friends and comrades including Peter Coyote, Kim Stanley Robinson, Annalee Newitz, Paul Park, Mary Corey, John Joseph Kessel and more.

We’ll also talk about the importance of imagining better futures and building inclusive communities through a virtual book club of Fire on the Mountain, an alternative history centering around a communist utopia emerging in the U.S. South a hundred years after the success of the Harpers Ferry raid led by John Brown sets off a self-emancipating revolution. Our book club will wrap just as Tomorrowing, a collection of Bisson's long-running  "This Month in History" column from the science fiction magazine Locus, is released in May 2024.

Subscribe to Our Connected Culture on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.

The schedule:

April 15: How Terry Bisson Made Up Better Worlds podcast release

April 21, 1pm ET: Virtual Fire on the Mountain Book Club meeting 1

Join in the MidMountain Discord, reading through page 36.

April 24: Fire on the Mountain Book Club pt. 1 podcast release

April 28, 1pm ET: Virtual Fire on the Mountain Book Club meeting 2  

Join in the MidMountain Discord, reading through page 73.

May 1:  Fire on the Mountain Book Club pt. 2  podcast release.

May 5, 1pm ET: Virtual Fire on the Mountain Book Club meeting 3 

Joinin the MidMountain Discord, reading through page 119.

May 8: Fire on the Mountain Book Club pt. 3  podcast release.

May 12, 1pm ET: Virtual Fire on the Mountain Book Club meeting 4 

Join in the MidMountain Discord, reading through the end.

May 15: Fire on the Mountain Book Club pt. 4  podcast release.

More information: midmountain.org/ourconnectedculture

Untitled by AnaMarie King 

Washington, DC by John Bergmayer

Cherry blossoms write pink calligraphy across

the almost-green boughs - floral signs, sweet signs   

of cyclical life, death. Nature's loss.               

Retelling smells, seated in lines,

but trees stand for nothing.

How precious is spring's bloody birth, 

life’s big outburst outrunning

death. Words from dying, living earth.

Rice Paper (I’m a Man) by Timothy Bailey & The Humans

I will bake you bread

I will hold your hand when you cry

I will bring you flowers and

tell you that you’re pretty

I will hold the door for you

even when you mock me

I will make you dinner and

then I’ll do the dishes

I will be your confidant and

listen to your dreams

even when they’re boring and

my attention wanders

You could be forgiven if

it feels like maybe this time

the shit won’t hit the fan

but I will disappoint you

I will disappoint you because

I will disappoint you because

I will disappoint you

I will disappoint you because

I’m a man and there is

something wrong with us

It’s on the Y chromosome

whatever makes us lesser

I will disappoint you

I will disappoint you

I’m a man

I will borrow money

I’ll start showing up late

You will catch me staring

at your best friend’s chest

I’ll say that I can’t help it

I’ll say that I’m just made that way and

then I’ll act offended

when you take offense

As if you were the one

as if you were the one

with the rice paper thin skin

As if you were the one

as if you were the one in whom

our trouble always begins

I will disappoint you because

I will disappoint you because

I will disappoint you

I will disappoint you because

I’m a man and there is

something wrong with us

It’s on the Y chromosome

whatever makes us lesser

I am a man and god

had to have known

that Adam’s extra rib

was the last decent bone

in his body

I will disappoint you

I will disappoint you

I’m a man

I’m a man

Listen here:

Underwater Rainbow by Denali Nalamalapu

“Underwater Rainbow” explores the expressive power of Appalachian mountain defenders in vibrant colors and intimate gaze. In the context of increasing state violence against environmental activists, I convey the subjects' power through portraiture, a medium usually restricted to the rich and powerful.

Denali Nalamalapu is a queer, South Indian American artist, writer, and climate organizer based in Roanoke, Virginia.