Poem: No Mishaps

I spend too much time on Twitter. Even on days — like most days, lately — when it seems to be an endless timeline of terrible news, there are bright spots. Every day I learn, laugh, connect and discover, but it still sucks my time. So today, I thought I’d try to make (good?) use of that time by chopping snippets of tweets from some of the people or organizations I follow*, tossing them around in a word blender, and attempting to write a new poem. Here’s what came of it. Though not all the tweets that inspired this were political in nature, the thoughts in my head are in political prison right now, so I suppose writing things like this is a way to break out.

 

No Mishaps

 

Can’t tell if the song is brilliant or crap,

the machine gun percussion, big rig motor grind,

and Phil Collins as lead singer. But leaders,

I know leaders. Leaders win and smile when they say,

hey, it’s a-ok, c’mon and drink the water

with just an essence of lead. A danger? No danger,

it’s all in your head, listen to your heart, listen to us,

there is a war, but not that war  — a war on coal,

a war on country, a war on YOU, and how dare they say

it’s not a communist plot. They’re feeding you

this cosmic dread, but the answer is easy,

the answer is here, no, NO, there’s nothing under there,

Look ! OVER HERE! We make the sun shine, the sunshine is huge,

a huge dose of Vitamin D, very important for good health,

you take care of you, and we’ll take care of

us, but  really, you’ll thank us. It’ll be amazing, you’ll see.

Did you taste the water?  We have the best water,

come swim in the water, no one drowns in the water,

no one’s forced into water. YOU, you are the one

touched by migration, you are the one in need of

safe crossing to the future of your past,

to what came before, and what came after. Remember?

Do you remember, it was pure white gold,

that sweet family photo in the tall shiny tower,

you can be in that photo. You can be met with grace,

the resurrection of everything great.

Listen, do you hear it? That round of applause,

the loudest hand claps from the biggest, best hands,

That song we keep playing, are you singing it now?

Are you affected yet? Infected yet? They’ll try

to tell you that a vaccine exists, but the price

is too high. The price isn’t the sky, or the trees

or the birds. The price is your freedom and

we’ll stop you from paying.  No mishaps,

we’re golden. We’re good. And yes, you can

thank us. Your welcome is welcome.

 

*NOTE: The title “No Mishaps” came from a Tweet by Edmonton artist @JayIsPainting. Other parts of lines were borrowed from or inspired by  @thomaspluck: (cosmic dread), @MSF_canada: (vaccine exists, but the price is too high)  @anniegirl1138: (not a communist plot) @wickerkat: (Can’t tell if it’s brilliant or crap) @Don_Share: (touched by migration) @AusmaZehanat: (safe crossing ) @ChuckWendig: (and the resurrection) @HighwayTomson: (Your welcome is welcome. ) @TheAmericansFX: (be met with grace) @ThatEricAlper: (Phil Collins as lead singer & what came before, and what came after) @KimPigSquash: (Vit D very important for good health) @CBCAlerts: (war on coal).

 

 

Haiku Horizons Prompt – Search

This week’s Haiku Horizons word prompt is “search.” It’s been awhile since I played along, but the first day of spring (on the calendar anyway…still wintry out my window) seems like a good reason to plant some words.

 

first day of spring

magpie searches the snow

for a sign

*******

her searchlight smile

beaming

from the red carpet

*******

insomnia

searching for answers

in moon shadows

The World Needs Us — Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day to:

The mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends, and every woman who has laughed, loved, cried, bled, raged, hoped and dreamed.

The poets, the novelists, the playwrights, the storytellers, the comedians, the journalists, and any woman who wields the power of words.

The singers, the musicians, the painters, the sculptors, the dancers, and any woman who knows creativity can and does inspire change.

The scientists, the farmers, the nurses, the doctors, the chefs, the entrepreneurs, the engineers, the teachers, the caregivers, the drivers, the business leaders, the billions of women who work every day to build their families, their communities and their world.

What a gift to know I could never begin to list all the women who’ve inspired me, moved me, entertained me, cared for me, and taught me. The list is too long. The list keeps growing. You are on this list. Today, and every day, I appreciate having you in my life.

Today is just a day, but this year — this time in our lives when all that women have done and built seems so fragile, so in danger of cracking — it is also a rallying cry. To stay strong, stay hopeful, stay compassionate, stay bold. Be brave, and weird, and beautiful, and open, and crazy, and hilarious, and kind, and supportive. Be everything you already are and everything you can be. We need each other. The world needs us.

Why I March

womens-rights

In the last few months, I’ve started but never finished several posts and poems that try to somehow capture what’s going on in my head and heart since the American election. I think these false starts were probably just because I felt, and continued to feel, so overwhelmed with emotion and berated with information and misinformation. Some days I think “I will not read, listen to or watch anything political” and hope that will bring me peace of mind. But it doesn’t.  So then I try to engage fully, read widely, discuss with anyone willing, rant and rage , and hope that will bring some relief.  But it doesn’t.

This morning I read an extraordinary essay by Rebecca Solnit.  If I could write even a tenth as good as Solnit, or if I had her insight as an actual American, I think this is what I would want to say. I shared the article with my Dad, and other family members and friends, because as intelligent and empathetic as the people in my circle are, I sometimes get the sense that they don’t understand why I’m taking the election results, and all the insanity that’s followed, so personally. Honestly, I don’t exactly know either, but I do know I cried several times the day after the election and a few times since, simply because it was the only emotional reaction that seemed to fit the combination of anger, and disappointment I felt inside. And I’m not normally a “crier”.  But then again, nothing about the world feels quite normal.

After watching the Trump press conference yesterday, I was an angry, aghast mess. My Dad got an earful on the phone just for simply calling to say hi. I told him I planned to go to the Women’s Solidarity March in my city, and planned to bring my daughters. When he asked “why?” I went off a little. Not at him personally, for I know my wonderful father is no misogynist, and was more just asking about the logistics of taking kids and myself out to a politically charged place in the winter cold. But the question “why?”, combined with the reading of this article, did spark some need to express, or at least try to express, why the anger, the sadness, and the resistance matter.

I am going to that march on January 21 because these issues certainly don’t stop at the American-Canadian border. Because there is a new wave of misogyny surging in my province. Because I have daughters, and hoped (still do hope) that the cards will be a little less stacked against them as they grow up. Because it’s 2017. Because as angry and ranty as I’ve been about all of this since well before Trump was “elected”, my overwhelming feeling is still sadness. Because I have always been an optimist at heart, and I have to do something to restore the belief in my heart that the world is good.

I know my personal world is good. I know I am surrounded by beautiful, smart, loving people. The very fact that I feel safe enough to express these thoughts speaks volumes about how good my personal world is. And sure, if we choose to view the world through the lens of how women and minorities are treated in other countries, or how women and minorities were treated in the past, then we might be left with this feeling of “I really shouldn’t complain.” But to see privilege as a reason not to speak out, rather than the very reason you should speak out, is wrong. And to think that ground once gained cannot be ripped out from under you is foolish. And because wanting  the world to be fair and safe for everyone — not because of who or what they are or aren’t, or what they do or don’t believe, but because they are people — is something worth fighting (and marching) for.

Poem: Demeter in the Kitchen

Sometimes my dreams are almost like found poems. I’m not sure why I stumbled upon this one in my sleep last night, but perhaps words — like good bread — are best when shared.

 

Demeter in the Kitchen

 

The still house at dawn

and she’s kneading dough, a rye bread

she gently places in a red ceramic loaf pan.

Demeter, of flesh except for her marble eyes,

blank and smooth. She wears a blue floral house dress

pinched neat at the waist, and a thick braid falls

to the middle of her back. I ask if she’ll have me

in the kitchen, to watch her work some more.

A warning wrapped in her silent nod,

there’s a cost to learning

how to conjure life from dust.

 

 

My Breakup With The Walking Dead

My Breakup With The Walking Dead

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD

Ya, I know this is normally my spot for poetic stuff, and the occasional dark story, but forgive me today for using it to talk (rant) a little TV. I used to work for a TV magazine and I miss the days when 10 raised-on-80s-sitcoms nerds would stand around every morning rehashing, trashing or praising whatever happened to be on the night before. It was a long time ago. Netflix wasn’t even a thing. But  I still miss the TV babble. My hubby indulges me a little with the incessant post-watch analysis, and I love him for it. But last night he wanted to sleep, while I kept spinning my feelings — or lack of feelings — about this show around in my brain.

Then, this morning, my dear friend texted me that the episode gave her mild PTSD. An understandable reaction shared by many fans. When I admitted my boredom (yes, boredom) with an especially graphic, gore-filled episode that killed off two very beloved characters, she was  a little stunned. And then she made me laugh, heartily, by saying, “Maybe this is how Donald Trump’s friends felt when they realized he was a psychopath?”.

It does feel a little crazy to give up on a show that I’ve invested six years in. I am usually quite loyal to my shows. I’m one of those seven people who actually liked the Lost finale. There was once a deep love in my heart for The Walking Dead, too — even as I could admit that every season had its share of silly writing and plot holes you could drive a semi-full-o’-walkers through. EVEN AFTER the “Them” episode in Season 5 when the miraculous tornado kills off a horde of zombies but, of course, spares our plucky gang of survivors. EVEN AFTER Rick’s supposedly impassioned speech to rally the troops included the ridiculous line: “We are the walking dead.” I mean, c’mon! But, still I stayed, because of the characters. I loved those characters. Well, most of them — I cheered inside when Lori and Andrea died. But I still miss Hershel. And I think the performances on this show are, for the most part, stellar. If anyone could ALMOST pull of the cheesiest line ever written for cable television, it’s Andrew Lincoln.

But last night, the super anticipated episode….who will the big boogeyman Negan kill? What will be SO SHOCKING in this episode that made that ridiculous Season 6 cliff hanger worth all this wait? For weeks leading up to the premiere there was chatter about who was and was not safe, contrived remembrances of what all our heroes have gone through so far, articles every fricking week in EW promising us that Season 7 is SO RIVETING and OOO….NEGAN IS THE WORST. VILLAIN. EVER. And I tried to go along with it because “Ya! This is The Walking Dead! I love this show!” But instead I started ignoring all the hype. Instead, I sighed in annoyance at how long it took to delete all the TWD marathon episodes that showed up on my PVR. Instead, I woke up yesterday and saw all the anticipatory chat about the season premiere on Twitter and was like, “Oh yeah. That’s on tonight.”

But still, I sat down with my snacks, about to hit play after the kiddos had fallen asleep. I told my hubby that I thought it was Abraham who’d be the goner, or maybe Glenn or Maggie, because the show never likes to let people be happy for too long, and then I realized that I didn’t care. At all. I didn’t care if it WAS Glenn, or Maggie, or even Michonne, who has always been my favourite character. I found myself hoping it would be Daryl or Rick (even though I knew that would never happen), just to shake some stuff up. And as it played on I thought to myself, “Hmm, this is interesting…I am completely ambivalent about this show now.”  I am totally repulsed, but not all emotionally stirred, by this villain brutally bashing the skulls of two characters I used to be so fond of. I know he’s supposed to be terrifying, so why do I find him sort of folksy? I see Glenn’s disgusting, bulging eye, and his heartfelt last words to Maggie, and I think, “OK, then. Maybe this means Steven Yuen can be in some other cool roles now!”  I watch the snot dangle from Rick’s nose as he pleads with Negan not to make him chop off his son’s arm, and I think “Get on with it.” I actually laughed a little when Carl said “Just do it, Dad” because yeah, just do it. Just do it, Rick. Just do it, show. Just do it, AMC.  Just end it so I can go to bed. Maybe this is sorta how people feel when they roll over one  morning, look at their long time partner and think numbly, “I just don’t love you anymore.”

Raising the stakes is essential in any good story. When you can do it more than once, and keep the viewers moving right along with you, that’s awesome television. Breaking Bad did this. My current favourite show, The Americans, does this. In this age of super-amazing-creative-tense-superbly acted television, many shows do it. Who has time for the ones that don’t? The Walking Dead doesn’t do it for me anymore. It hasn’t in quite some time, but the loyalty outlasted the emotion. Maybe it was just one cheap plot device or death-tease too many. Or maybe it’s because the “real world” we’re all witnessing right now is a million times more tense and terrifying, and I want to invest my hope for redemption in real world heroes. There are many reasons why this affair should end.

But honestly, I will probably let it drag on for at least a few more episodes, just so I can read the hilarious love-to-hate-it TWD recaps every Monday on FunnyOrDie.com.  It’s like going to couples therapy,  falling in love with the therapist, and keeping the relationship going just so you can get some thrill out of those weekly appointments. A terrible reason to stay in a loveless union. But after six years, it’s something.

Poem: Poem For Rent

Wiping the dust off the old blog with a quick response to today’s Poetic Asides prompt to write a “bulletin board poem.”

Poem For Rent

 

Small, but clean,

affordable and close to all

metaphorical amenities.

Pets welcome, if they

come in like the fog.

Layers of meaning

removed

by previous tenants,

so it’s yours

to interpret

as you

see fit.

 

Big thanks to the creative Marie Craven who used this for a cool videopoem. You can watch it here.

Wordy news and stuff

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks! It was (is) a beautiful one in my neck of the woods.

July 1 also marks announcement time for the CV2 2-Day poetry contest, and I was excited and surprised to find out that my poem, “Medusa Rides the Greyhound,” nabbed a third place finish. It was the first time I’ve ever used the word “furuncle” in a piece of writing, and probably the last. I believe the winning poems will be posted online sometime next week, as well as the nominees for People’s Choice, so if you have a minute you should check it out and vote.

I’m also excited because I get to go to camp tomorrow, and I don’t even need to bring insect repellent…just a pen and paper. It’s the second year that the JustWrite camp has been held in Edmonton, and I’m heading back for my second year too, thanks to some generous funding from Strathcona County Arts & Culture. The camp is a great opportunity to work with knowledgeable instructors and energetic new writers in an intimate and creative space. Plus the food is really good! Yay to writing and eating!

Lastly, I was very lucky to spot an announcement by Ottawa poet Amanda Earl offering to read and critique the work of new women poets. I sent her five of my poems — two oldies that have been revised umpteen times and still weren’t working, and three new ones that I wanted some feedback on. She is an experienced poet who runs her own press, so I knew any comments would be helpful. However, I was completely impressed by the attention she gave to the poems, and just how thorough and insightful her comments were. The lady knows her stuff, and I think she’s still accepting people to take advantage of her FREE and excellent service. Details here.

Happy summer, peeps. Bring on the fireworks!!

Poem: Out of the Quagmire

All week I wanted to stop listening to, reading about and watching coverage of the horrific Orlando shooting, but like many people, I am transfixed by these now too-familiar stories, always looking for the why. Then I heard this woman talking on As It Happens about the discovery of a massive hunk of butter preserved for millennia in the Irish bog. It was a fascinating story, and I couldn’t help but imagine how our world might be different if we gave up all our assault rifles to the earth.

 

Out of the Quagmire

 

The Irish woman on the radio relives the moment

she touched a 2000-year-old,

22-pound hunk of odorous bog butter.

An offering to the Gods to protect

a man’s family, his fields, his livestock,

now here again in mortal hands.

A wish kept whole in the earth.

 

I’ve seen photos of bodies, pulled from the same peat,

their bronzed skin stretched across sharp cheekbones,

leather men and women with red, acid-stained hair.

Ropes around the neck, holes in the skull,

even ancient corpses tell how

but rarely the why.

 

Weapons too, preserved by the bog —

hammers, swords, spears, shields.

Iron-age artillery. Basic.

Not high capacity, quick-reload,

reliable, user-friendly, efficient.

Not marketable, profitable, stock shares soaring

before the dead have been named.

 

The Irish woman talks about what the bog can sustain,

but what will it grant? Prayers or amnesty?

Is there room enough for so many mistakes?

If we offered, would it keep our rifles

for another thousand years?

Until some future human’s hands

might pull them from the quagmire,

and note how primitive. How uncivilized.

How simple they were

to think love

could be so easily silenced.