Counting Chickens, NaPoWriMo, Day 13

Count it all–

their accounts

of no account

when actions speak

much louder than bombastic words–

reactions to polls and money–

but the interest accrues

while we are bruised.

Then come choices

so, choose—

or believe fake news.

Ready?

Set.

Go–

put on your boots,

there’s muck to rake,

and much at stake,

and much to count,

a HUGE amount.

So, raise your feet,

slop through the fetid tweets.

Where does it end–

well, how much does truth bend?

Or, is truth a sword?

Then thrust and parry, stab and swoop,

count all the chickens in the coop

and when you truly know their number,

then at last,

you can slumber.

 

José Maria Sousa de Moura Girão (1840/1916), “My First Egg,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wasn’t sure what to do with today’s NaPoWriMo prompt, “to write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended,” so, I just started, and this is what happened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Rising

Monday Morning Musings:

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

From Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”

Full poem here.

I.

I rise before the sun,

a woman’s work is never done,

or so the saying goes–

but often yet denied a place

debased, erased

from education, business, science, and the arts

kept apart, or not allowed to start

never mind, we’ve given birth to the human race

created beauty and gone to space,

although harassed and worse,

some want progress gained to be reversed

(believing in mythical pasts and Eve’s curse)

but we move onward, oppose coercion

and being brutalized and minimized–

we advertise and mobilize–

trying not to polarize–

OK, perhaps a bit we moralize

but feeling like we’re pressurized

we rise

again, we rise

 

I march (again)

with a friend

she was my daughters’ teacher

(way back when)

IMG_7990

and we talk and cheer

reaching for something dear—

hope, instead of fear—

this is not a fight only for straight, white women,

rights are for all regardless of skin tone or orientation in

who they love

(is love is love is love is love)

yet why do some believe that to have what they desire

means others’ dreams should then expire?

They’d build a bonfire of the vanities

produce dark cavities,

gaping holes in knowledge—truth and beauty gone—insanities—

while the Doomsday Clock shows we more than ever jeopardize

life as we know it

(afraid to admit this)

we reach for the prize

rising still

again, we rise. . .

 

and from the crowd celebrating Womanhood

I wander north–as I said I would

to celebrate two women and art on a smaller scale

because loves trumps hate, and it prevails

 

II.

 

I learned my mom wanted a career in fashion design,

or so she says now, perhaps then she was resigned,

as she went to secretarial school, learning typing and shorthand.

but then war came, with its demands

she willingly bucked the rivets and worked in shifts

then married, raised children—but art uplifts

and it was there for her, when she had time

perhaps no longer in her prime

days, to months, to years, the lows and highs

her parents, my father, her brother died

though weakened,

yet still she’d rise

 

IMG_8003

Her cousin, like a sister, began a Yiddish club

a language almost gone, but rising up

through songs they sing and memories

of parents or grandparents’ spoken tongue

(curses uttered, lullabies sung)

I ask about the story I heard

that my grandmother had a lovely voice

and that she was often the choice

at family gatherings

asked to sing with Abraham Hankins, the artist cousin, famous

(shameless, we name him thus)

she says he studied music first, but his voice was almost done

(because of mustard gas during WWI)

she says–

he learned to paint in the hospital—“art therapy isn’t new”

but an online biography reports the opposite is true

born in Gomel, then sent to Philadelphia to live with his cousins

(I know he lived with my mom’s family, but there were dozens)

talented, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,

then enlisted and wounded

the experts concluded

singing would expand his lungs, damaged from the war’s ravages

it turned out that he excelled in this field, too,

studied in Paris, this is true,

but though music called in tenor voice,

ultimately, he made a choice–

following when his heart said, “art.”

My cousin tells me about his studio

with many windows, but little else

and of the patron who, well-pleased

sent him frozen vegetables–beans, corn, and peas—

along with a freezer to store them in

vegetables at least to eat

not a starving artist, painting in the street

I am impressed by the work, cousins and mother’s

as well as those of many others

I love color, but I can’t draw—

no talent there at all–

maybe it skipped on to my daughter,

as her poster art I’ve carried twice to help me energize

IMG_7999

Rising through the shadows

as we gather to rise

when again, we rise

 

While the art show reception is going on,

my husband puts together with care

for my mother, a new armchair,

kindly doing his share

for the woman who gave his wife life

so she can more easily rise–

it’s more difficult for her now

but she finds a way somehow

to paint and laugh and still to rise

IMG_8027

as women have done throughout the ages

with baby steps, on platforms, and in stages

to rise

again

to rise

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom: Haibun

This is for Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge. Tomorrow is a federal holiday that celebrates the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. Frank has asked us to reflect and write about freedom. Here is MLK’s “I Have a Dream speech.

My grown daughter is visiting. She dances into the kitchen in the morning, and I join in with a song. I’m happy that this is a safe place for her, and that here she feels the freedom to be silly. We both do.

Too many people think freedom means waving a flag and repeating slogans. But greatness does not come from denying others the right to love, to learn, to live without fear of a knock at the door. Freedom generously shares a dream, but requires effort and vigilance. Freedom looks forward in hope, not backwards to repression.

 

dreams hibernating

wait for spring’s awakening

hearts dance in sunshine

 

 

 

 

Name the Evil

In the movie,

this would be the point where the starship arrives

changing the course of events

saving us from ourselves,

saving Earth, saving humankind

 

Our movie runs in a continuous loop,

conflict after conflict,

guns, bombs, and hate,

attacking the other

we watch it unfold,

let it happen,

forgetting that people who are ignorant, hungry, afraid

listen to the demagogues,

we wait for the starship to arrive

for the hero to appear,

but this is an interactive experience

the storyline only continues

if we change it,

write the words,

name the evil,

expose it,

lead the hope,

feed the starving

heal the sick

teach the words of love,

look for the helpers,

become one and gather others

become the heroes

before it’s too late

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams of the Future, Ghosts of the Past

Monday Morning Musings:

“bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. education & free discussion are the antidotes of both. . . .I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. so good night! I will dream on, always fancying that mrs Adams and yourself are by my side marking the progress and the obliquities of ages and countries.”

–“To John Adams from Thomas Jefferson, 1 August 1816,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017,

 

 

A porcelain ghost looked long

and laughed delicious poetry,

remember this

she said,

or it is over

 

And so, we remember over and over

forgetting what we knew

embracing new ideas,

loving them each time as original and unique

and they are

every time

dreams of the future, history of the past

 

We walk cobblestone streets and brick drives

chasing ghosts

followed by shadows

whispering glorious words

“We the people”

history of the past

IMG_6006

Janet Givens and her husband, the past, present, and future all around them.

 

But under a dying star

a naked fool celebrates

his courtiers cheer

his nonexistent suit of clothes

as darkness falls

he eats a second scoop of ice cream

 

Still, we remember

sometimes forgetting to remember

until we remember again

We the People

history of the past and dreams of the future

 

On a day in May

that feels like July

perhaps like the summer of 1787

when a group of men

(white men, only men)

made compromises  and wrote We the People

but on this day,

a day in their future,

we walk with friends to see and read about the past

to hear and read the lofty words

of men who had lived and fought a revolution

and though they themselves were flawed

still their words glow

and grow

from the past, through the present, and into the future

visions they had and hopes

dreams that have been realized

and worlds they could not imagine

dreams of things that are yet to be

 

I gaze at the beautiful handwriting

of educated people

who read and valued learning

and think of misspelled Twitter rants.

We’ve forgotten

and it’s time to remember

dreams of the future, history of the past

 

We’ve added and clarified

giving freedom to people who were enslaved

giving rights to women

IMG_6016

 

ruling on free speech, freedom of religion, individual rights versus the state

fighting a civil war

(yes it was about slavery)

prohibiting the manufacturing of and sale of alcohol

and then making it legal again–

after so many lost jobs and the government lost revenue–

and there was more crime

let’s face it

We the People like to drink

from the past of George Washington’s distillery

to the future of new breweries, vineyards, and manufacturers,

the dreams of We the People

 

 

NCCLineupPhoto

This history swirls about us

all the time

because of a revolution

and a convention

a document that still lives

expanding like our nation

built on a strong foundation

like the building

we see as we sit outside on that warm day

IMG_6008

but life is not complete without some treats

(We the People like our sweets)

our nation built on bitter and sweet

dreams of the future, history of past

 

 

Two men, Adams and Jefferson

one, a Massachusetts man against slavery

(though not exactly an abolitionist)

the other, a Virginia plantation owner and slaveholder

dissimilar in so many ways from appearance to beliefs

but both admiring each other

both enjoyed the wit and education of some women

while disregarding them as citizens

with their own rights

and bodies

(I’m looking at you, T.J. Sex with a slave is coerced.)

their friendship suspended after the Election of 1800,

but later renewed,

bridged, despite their differences

liked a structure spanning the gulf between two disparate lands

like the bridge we need now

for We the People

as we dream of the future

and remember the past

and hope that it is not over

IMG_6013

Leaving Philadelphia, heading to New Jersey over the Ben Franklin Bridge

 

For those unfamiliar with it, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution begins with the words, “We the People.” You can read more about it here.

My friend, Janet Givens, was in Philadelphia with her husband to celebrate an event. I will leave her to talk about it, as I’m certain she will in an upcoming post. We visited the National Constitution Center , ate a delicious lunch at Farmicia restaurant, and stopped at Shane’s Confectionery, which has been a candy store on that site since 1863.

 

The Unknown Recipe: NaPoWriMo

Recipes tossed aside,

and dishes dried

as plumbers make an early call,

drop cloth on the floor,

while they explore

the situation,

simply a clog,

they work and chat

(no cats,

they’ve fled upstairs),

we sit nearby,

and reply

to questions

while we read the Sunday papers

(real news),

the scent of oil and mud

mingles with the aroma of coffee,

in the pot on the counter,

warm, if not exactly hot,

and the sunshine streams through the windows,

early spring.

 

At last they’re done

the kitchen sink repaired

two men with tools,

just past dawn.

If only it were that easy to repair our planet,

turn the wrench to secure the environment,

if only we could thread a snake through the fetid, swamp water,

clear the drains,

flush away the evil.

In my kitchen now,

the appliances hum, beep, and whirl,

the lights are on

the oven is working–

but what is the recipe for world peace?

I wonder,

as I bake a cake,

eggs, butter, chocolate, flour,

blended in a bowl,

vanilla and a hint of cinnamon,

sweetness, with a bit of spice,

the world as it should be,

shared

 

IMG_4226

 

 

This poem is for NaPoWriMo—Day 2. The prompt was recipe. Yesterday, Damien Donnelly  told me poetry and cakes are better shared.

 

 

 

 

Murky Water

In murky waters, danger lurks

perhaps unseen

open minds,

connect the dots,

find the spots,

the rule of law

(withdrawal

recuse

resign)

 

In party hats,

they toe the line,

invertebrates, no spine

they conform,

(the new norm)

pats on the back,

time out of whack,

the truth twisted around a smile

(just wait a while)

don’t roil the water

don’t whine

and don’t resist,

but she persists,

defines a problem,

but only the tip,

the iceberg

drifts toward the ship

in a cold, dark sea

 

Or perhaps,

it’s the middle of the labyrinth,

craft your wings from sealing wax,

and fly high

fight the bull

and spoil the fun

don’t shed a bitter tear

 

Or perhaps,

a game of Clue,

Colonel Mustard with a candlestick–

who did what and when?–

find the bodies

dig them up

like a dog, take hold,

shake,

be bold,

persisting

resisting

till they’re gone,

the monsters,

resigned

 

And hope the water turns clear and blue

 

 

2048px-odilon_redon_-_sumpfblume1

Odilon Redon, “Swamp Flower,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Her Story

 

In a show of power,

he struck her down,

hoping she’d cower

from his bully shout–

you’ve been warned,

and must be punished,

this is what it’s all about,

you’ve violated the rule,

no, I’m not cruel,

you’ve been warned,

now take your seat,

(before I knock you down).

 

History’s age-old tale–

oh, she may flail–

but the shrew must be tamed,

and men are not to blame

if women do not listen–

(do not talk back,

you’ve been warned,

now I’ll teach you a lesson).

With words and whips,

with zippers unzipped,

with laws to subjugate

(it’s a mandate),

victors write the history,

how the story will be told,

but might is not always right,

so, sit tight–

though warned,

nevertheless, she persisted.

 

This is for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge.

This week’s prompt words were:

Power/Show/Thought/Love/Write