Ferocious Angels Sing: NaPoWriMo

Persephone returns, laughs, and the world blooms anew,

yellow-green, pink, and white,

Corn Mother awakens, belly swollen with the seeds of life,

birds sing sweetly as the season turns

till the sky grows dark, crashes, and burns,

the world in flames and children are hungry

 

The song of ferocious angels lingers in the air

 

Unchanging, conflicts and battles

besiege the enemy, starve them in ghettos

enslave them, kill them all

(they are not us,

we are not them)

ancient tactics, mad men and fools with their bully cries,

rape the women, grab the prize

the rivers red with blood

 

The song of ferocious angels lingers in the air

 

And will it change, and do we care?

you can’t eat gold, or oil,

we can’t live on air

(they are us,

we are them,)

brothers and sisters, children of Earth

 

The song of ferocious angels lingers in the air

 

 

 

This is for NaPoWriMo: Day 11, a bop poem.

The form is described on the site this way:

“Like a Shakespearean sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain. The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain. Here’s an example of a Bop poem written by Weaver, and here’s another by the poet Ravi Shankar.”

Kerfe had me thinking of “ferocious angels,”   Unfortunately, the rest of the poem is ripped from history and headlines, unless you live in Sean Spicer’s fantasy world.

 

 

 

 

The Echo of Mothers’ Cries: #Haibun

 

Demeter_rejoiced,_for_her_daughter_was_by_her_side

Walter Crane [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, from The Story of Greece Told to Boys and Girls by Mary MacGregor (1914)

 

I bid farewell to my husband and our cold, dark home. I walk uphill, placing six pomegranate seeds in my mouth. The burst of tartness on my tongue staves my hunger as I travel from the gloomy shadow world. I exit and taste the honeyed sweetness of the air. Freedom. Gazing at the horizon, I watch the Sun God’s golden steeds pull his chariot above the horizon, trailing coral flames. The day glows with promise.  A robin looks at me quizzically, then lets out a delighted trill.  I am no longer a matron; I am reborn, young, virginal. I answer the robin with a girlish giggle. As I laugh, the grass begins to grow, flowers bloom, and buds appear on the trees. I savor my brief time here. Mother, I am home.

 

Captured, bound, and wed

tethered by hunger and seeds,

Persephone’s fate

ancient Greece, Nigeria

mothers’ cries echo through time

 

My daughter is here. Alive! Her belly is swollen with the seed of her abductor. Her eyes haunted, she gives me a tremulous smile. I open my arms and embrace her–once again.

 

This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were light and dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past, Present, and Future Meet at a Conference

Monday Morning Musings:

“There is not present or future—only the past, happening over and over again—now.”

–Eugene O’Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten

 FullSizeRender 31

I attended an academic conference–

for the first time in many years.

It was a conference about the past,

well, it was a history conference, after all,

the history of the early American republic,

and I was there to comment at a session.

I was prepared to talk about the past

well, perhaps the present and the past,

(The past happening over and over again, now.)

but I also found my own past there,

past and present crashing into each other

strolling out from amongst the scholarly papers

to say hello,

Do you remember me?

“Do we do the awkward hugs,” I say to her,

my friend from graduate school days.

 

We haven’t seen each other for–

What is two decades? Three?–

So we sat and talked

over New Haven thin-crust pizza and wine,

and the years melted away.

We were two old friends,

well not that old,

but without the self-consciousness of youth.

We didn’t have to impress anyone at this conference,

we weren’t looking for jobs or tenure,

people either knew our names,

or didn’t.

We talked of our children and spouses,

we talked of those we had both known who have died

we talked of work and play

of current events and cats.

It was so good to talk to her again

I hope we keep in touch.

I think we will.

 

The sessions I attended were stimulating,

so much so,

as to make me inarticulate when I got up to present,

my thoughts flowing and churning in my brain so fast,

faster than I could get them out in spoken words

(Sorry about that)

But still,

perhaps I made a fool of myself

but there are worse things,

at least I didn’t spill food on my dress

or vomit at the podium

and people were kind.

FullSizeRender 29

The past, present, and future all running together,

rape, rape culture, the subjugation of women

a crime of the past

a crime of the present

and what of the future?

Rape cultures exist all around us.

The term can describe the situation of enslaved people

in the nineteenth-century

(“Let’s just call that baby ugly,” said someone in the audience.)

it can be seen in the misogyny of the recent RNC convention,

in the power of celebrities and politicians and on college campuses.

My husband and I hear a NPR report on the car radio

on women in Brazil

where women are raped, battered, and murdered,

a “woman killed every two hours” there

and “assaulted every 15 seconds.”*

Taught and expected to be submissive

the property of men

like the women of the session I commented on,

the enslaved women of the south,

the women depicted in nineteenth-century pornography

the women in the literature and pamphlets of the time

submissive, docile,

those who speak out, those who don’t marry

those who are “ruined” by rape or seduction,

forced to become prostitutes, slaves, or they die

a cautionary tale

to marry, to obey,

the past, happening over and over again, now.

 

But I make a new acquaintance

to share ideas and experiences with over lunch,

such fun

to come out of a session on such horrors.

As she eats her salad, and I drink my smoothie,

I gaze at the poster

saying refugees are welcome.

We have a history of welcoming and denigrating refugees,

the past happening over and over again, now.

FullSizeRender 32

Then on to another session

honoring a historian who was beloved

by friends, students, and colleagues

but who tragically died too soon,

a moving session to attend,

although I had only met her once or twice

I wished I had known her.

Her legacy lives on in her writing

and in the students she inspired.

They are the future.**

Perhaps they are rare, these inspiring teachers,

yet, we read about them throughout history,

the past happening over and over again, now.

 

My husband and I have dinner,

Ethiopian food in a restaurant across from the hotel.

There is only one server,

a cheerful woman who managed to be friendly and helpful

though she had to serve, seat, and clean all the tables by herself.

Brain and stomach full

we settle down for the night

I think of the past, how it happens again and again, now,

the future.

IMG_4129 2

Vegetarian Sampler at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, New Haven, CT

 

*”For Brazil’s Women, Laws are Not Enough to Deter Rampant Violence,”

–Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Weekend Edition Sunday

**C. Dallett Hemphill Publication Fund

Still Looking for Contributors

I am editing two reference books on rape and sexual violence. Please read the information below and share with others. Writers do not have to have an academic affiliation, but do need expertise in the subject area. Thank you!

 

Call for Contributors: Encyclopedia of Rape and Sexual Violence

To be published by ABC-CLIO, this 2-volume encyclopedia will feature long-form articles of approximately 11,000 words or 40-45 double-spaced manuscript pages. The encyclopedia will focus on rape in various contexts throughout the world, covering such topics as marriage or intimate partner rape, drug-facilitated rape, and rape in war. I am seeking scholars who have expertise in and understanding of contemporary issues surrounding rape and sexual violence–and who can write clearly and objectively on the subject. For more information or to see the list of still available topics, please send a brief CV/bio to Merril D. Smith at merrildsmith@gmail.com as soon as possible. Put Encyclopedia of Rape and Sexual Violence in the subject heading. I would like to have all topics covered as quickly as possible. Entries will be due Spring/Summer 2016, or by August 31.

 

Call for Contributors: Rape Cultures and Survivors: An International Perspective

Praeger Press will publish this 2-volume book on rape cultures and survivors. Focusing on situations in war and peacetime from the late 20th century to the present, the book will examine rape and rape culture, and how survivors have coped in various social and cultural contexts. The work aims to study the characteristics and peculiarities of “rape cultures” that are intertwined with ethnic cultures/hatreds and other forms of conflictual social, political, and economic relations. Each chapter will be approximately 25-30 double-spaced manuscript-pages. The articles are meant to have a definite thesis and to argue a particular point of view. The book is aimed at both professionals and students, as well as the general public. If interested, please submit a brief (1-page) abstract and CV to the addresses below as soon as possible. Completed articles will be due before or by September 1, 2016.

For more information or to submit a proposal please email:

Tuba Inal: tubapolisci@gmail.com  or Merril Smith: merrildsmith@gmail.com

 

 

Call for Contributors: Reference Books

Hi, Everyone! This is a different from my usual type of post. It’s a kind of experiment. I’m looking for contributors for two books. They are both reference books on rape and sexual violence. The articles focus on contemporary issues and situations, not historical. Both books will have an international focus. Contributors should have academic expertise (graduate students who have written on this issue will be considered). I know some of my followers are academics and past academics, as well as independent scholars, graduate students, and people involved in medicine and social science. Or you might know some people involved in fields connected to these areas. Please share with anyone who might be qualified and interested in writing. Or just share!

Call for Contributors: Encyclopedia of Rape and Sexual Violence

To be published by ABC-CLIO, this 2-volume encyclopedia will feature long-form articles of approximately 11,000 words or 40-45 double-spaced manuscript pages. The encyclopedia will focus on rape in various contexts throughout the world, covering such topics as marriage or intimate partner rape, drug-facilitated rape, and rape in war. I am seeking scholars who have expertise in and understanding of contemporary issues surrounding rape and sexual violence–and who can write clearly and objectively on the subject. For more information or to see the list of still available topics, please send a brief CV/bio to Merril D. Smith at merrildsmith@gmail.com as soon as possible. Put Encyclopedia of Rape and Sexual Violence in the subject heading. I would like to have all topics covered as quickly as possible. Entries will be due Spring/Summer 2016, or by August 31.

Call for Contributors: Rape Cultures and Survivors: An International Perspective

Praeger Press will be publishing this 2-volume book on rape cultures and survivors. Focusing on situations in war and peacetime from the late 20th century to the present, the book will examine rape and rape culture, and how survivors (women, men, and children) have coped in various social and cultural contexts. The work will define and study the characteristics and peculiarities of “rape cultures” that are intertwined with ethnic cultures/hatreds and other forms of conflictual social, political, and economic relations. Each chapter will be approximately 25-30 double-spaced manuscript-pages. The articles are meant to have a definite thesis and to argue a particular point of view. The book is aimed at both professionals and students, as well as the general public. If interested, please submit a brief (1-page) abstract and CV to the addresses below as soon as possible. Completed articles will be due before or by September 1, 2016.

For more information or to submit a proposal please email:

Tuba Inal: tubapolisci@gmail.com  or Merril Smith: merrildsmith@gmail.com

 

 

Who Wears the Pants?

It’s strange what triggers memories. A couple of days ago I was putting on my gym clothes and pondering whether I needed to add an extra layer before going out in the cold. Thinking about the bare skin of my calves—the area between the bottom of my gym pants and the top of my socks and sneakers—I remembered how when I was growing up, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. Even on the coldest days, we wore skirts with either knee high socks or tights.

            I don’t know why it was considered scandalous, disrespectful, and unsuitable for girls and women to wear pants. By the 1960s, it was not usual for women to wear pants at home or while involved in some physical activities. When I was in elementary school in Dallas, on phys ed. days, or on days when we wanted to play on some of the outside equipment during recess, we wore shorts under our skirts. It was uncomfortable and strange, but we accepted it—because that’s what girls did. Girls wore knee-length dresses, which were considered lady-like, but then preserved their modesty by wearing pants underneath. Crazy, right?

            By the time I went to junior high—still in a dress or skirt–we had awful gym suits to wear in our phys ed. classes. My seventh grade gym suit for my Dallas school was a one–piece white cotton bloomer sort of thing. The top part was like a short-sleeved shirt that snapped down the front, and then there were shorts attached to the top. It was baggy in all the wrong places, and just plain uuuuggglly! We wore white “tennis shoes” with it. It didn’t really matter what we wore because we didn’t actually do much of anything in my Dallas classes. We were just expected to be young ladies.

            In my Haverford Junior High School gym classes, we were expected to actually vault, play lacrosse, and do all sort of other physical activities I’d never ever seen, much less attempted to master (or in my case, just survive). We still wore ugly gym suits, but ostensibly they were a bit more stylish and comfortable. They were also one piece, but made to look more like shorts and t-shirts. (This was considered a big improvement.) The top part was red-striped, and the shorts were solid red. They were made of a kind of stretchy jersey fabric.

            One day when I was in ninth grade, an announcement was made that there would be a special day when girls—perhaps just the ninth grade girls, I don’t remember now—could wear PANTS TO SCHOOL!  Of course, we would not be permitted to wear jeans, only “nice” pants. So I went home and went through my clothing. I guess I didn’t have any “nice pants.” I ended-up wearing a too big pair of black pants that belonged to my older sister simply because there was no way I was going to show up to school that day in a skirt or dress. I was determined to wear pants that day, even if I had to keep pulling them up all day.

            By the time I got to high school the next year, we could pretty much wear anything. It became the style to wear jeans that were long and dragged on the ground so they got raggedy at the bottom. We also wore our hair long and rarely bothered with make-up. But guess what? I was a good student no matter what I wore, and I’m still a woman, although perhaps I’m not, and never was, “a lady.”  I can live with that.

            What a person wears can sometimes indicate a lot about him or her. Fashion is one thing. Fashion can be silly, but it can also be fun—but not if it’s coercive. Throughout the ages, both women and men have been told what they could, couldn’t, or had to wear. I understand uniforms and dress codes—you want to know someone is actually a doctor, electric company employee, or police officer before they touch your body or enter your home. I understand that when schools have dress codes (to some extent) or uniforms it often means getting ready in the morning is much easier for everyone and students perhaps are not distracted.

            What I don’t understand is that all over the world, women (and it usually women, gays, lesbians, or trans people who are affected) are told that they “asked” to be rape, assaulted, or killed because of the way they dressed. Really? Because I think if a man can’t control himself if he sees a woman in a skimpy outfit, then he’s the one with a major problem. I don’t think the world ended when the girls in my high school started wearing pants. I’ve edited an Encyclopedia of Rape and my Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast will be out sometime in the next few months, so perhaps I see fashion and fashion-related issues in a different way from many people.

            I’m not against fashion or dressing up. Although I work from home and normally wear sweats or sometimes even my pajama pants (like now), or my exercise clothes when I go to the gym, it doesn’t mean I don’t dress up.  I like seeing what celebrities wore at the Oscars, although if I missed it, I wouldn’t really care. When my older daughter gets married this summer, I plan to wear a fabulous dress (still to be found). However, that is my choice. If other people don’t dress up, I won’t be offended. I don’t think my daughter will care either. As mother of one of the brides, I want to look great. (And when I look back at the wedding photos, I don’t want to be saying to myself, “What were you thinking?!”) I also want to be comfortable though, and I want to be able to dance without a wardrobe malfunction.  So I won’t be wearing pants to my daughter’s wedding, but I also won’t be wearing the fashion essentials of the past: a corset, girdle, or a hat. I certainly won’t be wearing an ugly gym suit. That’s for sure.