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An Anthem Against Silence Play this to remind yourself.  Play this to motivate yourself instead of just ranting against you-know-who (my apologies to Lord Voldemort).

Thanks to Maria Popova and Brainpickings.org

 

PROTEST

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.

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I am a Great Aunt again (and I am the best of the great aunts, to be sure).

I wrote this poem for new person, Duke, my niece’s new son. You expect that the parents would respond immediately with love, but to feel strongly as an aunt, thousands of miles away, immediately?? That amazes me.

 

duke

There wasn’t even a hole there.
But now you fill it.
I didn’t know I was missing you.
But now you’re here.
I knew love was infinite.
But now I’ve felt its stretch.

You’re the breath I didn’t know I was holding.
You’re the beat my heart didn’t know it was missing.

You are now a part of this:
a cloud forming to hold the rain
a bud leaning into the light
a bird gliding toward the branch
a wave skimming the shore.

Welcome.

 

I’ve created some short poems to use at the end of my morning walks as a walking meditation.  I’ve found they’re good when I’m spazzing out a bit, too.  They’re excellent to shut the voices down and foster deep, slow breaths.  I’ve used them at work, too.  No one seems to mind (or notice, even) that I’m slow walking a hallway, talking to myself.

This first one is direct from Thich Nhat Hanh, (Tay) the Buddhist Teacher.

“I have arrived; I am home
in the here, in the now.
I am solid; I am free,
in the ultimate I dwell.”

 The second one I created as part of a Third Step.

“I decide, again today
I turn over my will; I turn over my self
to love, to love.
What shall I do then, as love?”

This last one I wrote based on a quote from Tay and a much longer poem by Dr. Barbara De Angelis, “Soften Your Heart.”  It’s a great poem, but too long for me to remember on a walk.  I love the rhythm Tay has set.  I’m happy I build on it.

“Feelings come; feelings go
like clouds in a windy sky.
My breath is my anchor.
I soften; I soften and let love arise.”

 

I read Auden’s last book, “Thank You, Fog”.  The second poem in there, Aubade (meaning a poem for the dawn or early morning) is a perfect representation of connectivity.  I referenced in my post on http://dayswithoutpirateattack.com/2016/03/18/ripples-out/

“I know that I am and will,
I am willing and knowing,
I will to be and to know,
facing in four directions,
outwards and inwards in Space,
observing and reflecting,
backwards and forwards through Time,
recalling and forecasting.”
– W.H. Auden, Aubade

My Witness Tree

With credit to Bob Hicok, in whose poem, “What I Know for Sure” I first read the term

 

I only heard these words together
for the first time last week: witness trees.
So I looked them up
and found their stories, both romantic and tragic.

There are Cherokee arborglyphs,
where they carved a record of their trails.
You can drive your wagon through a sequoia named
‘Wawona’ if you’re traveling down the Yosemite Valley.

There’s the Buddha’s banyan,
where he sat sheltered for years
and was eventually enlightened.

Newton napped under an apple tree,
Washington chopped a cherry,
and Shakespeare planted a mulberry.

Andrew Jackson has a prayer oak,
Pickett a black walnut,
and marking the graves of Union prisoners
is the Andersonville Magnolia.

My father planted a sugar maple in our front yard
the year we moved into the house on Hartford Drive
and that summer, when it was late, but still really light,
we played Red Rover at the Frasers’ across the street.
It felt like every kid in the neighborhood
stood in one of those two lines,
and we whooped and hollered
until Mom turned the porch light on.

Of course, Neil’s team won,
because he was the biggest and
could lock arms really tight,
no matter who came over.
At least, this is how I remember it.
I don’t know what the tree remembers.

January 2016 started with one of my poems chosen as a Goodreads poetry finalist  (five finalists).   It was such a lovely surprise!

I did not win, but placed right in the middle.  I will spout a familiar line, “I am honored just to be nominated.”  True.  The winner’s poem, Rose Mary Boehm’s  Absence deserved the win, and  I’m happy to be a hand-maiden.

Here is my finalist poem.

The Music Collection

I pulled out all of your records.
The soldier-straight rows collapsed and left
a half-life disintegrating heap of cardboard sleeves.

I stacked shiny slivers
silvered music re-mastered tinny girl songs
Joni Judy Carol Carly.

Her guitar strums and echoes
until echoes stripe the white hallway.
She would use the word wistful or wishful,
wouldn’t she?

Tremolo, tremolo
Doppling wide, wide, wide, wide.
How far does sound travel before it shifts to gone?

Late afternoon shadow
leans into tomorrow.
I miss
the scritch of the needle.

My New Year’s resolution this year was to send two postcards each week.  I have kept up with it.  Each Friday I send one to my friend, Janet, and one to someone else.  The someone else varies each week.  I’ve even sent them to random Waunakee addresses. nouvelle images tea

This week’s card is one of the beautiful postcard images from Nouvelles Images.

Each week I add a line from a poem or a quote that reflects the image.

This week I wrote a haiku:

A blue teapot still

warm from the stove and your hand

witness to our stories.

Time to go mail them.

Poised at that moment

when you have the cupcake

but haven’t taken a bite

leaned in for the kiss

but haven’t quite touched

don’t ridicule the junkie

forever chasing the high

you do it, too.

Last weekend a writing group friend, Bob Kralapp, and I did a poetry reading at Clare Bridge in Middleton. Clare Bridge is a “memory care facility” and, from what I could tell, a very nice, caring one. When you’re buzzed in, the front room has a fireplace burning, comfy couches and wing chairs. There are framed photos of residents in various activities in perched on tables and the mantle. Also very obvious was the lack of smell I’m going to just call “disinfectant” — that smell is what actually kick-starts the fear in your lizard brain. That smell transports you back to the time when you were little and went to visit Grandma in The Home, or had to go to the hospital when you broke your collar bone or sit in the waiting room while your Dad went to visit Uncle Bob at rehab. . . It was so not there, that I noticed it.

Some residents were waiting for us in the activity room when Bob and I came in. Most were ambulatory and sat in chairs with walkers parked at hand. A few were in wheelchairs. Most of the women were dressed specifically for Valentine’s Day in pink or red, with heart-shaped jewelry.

As we read, they were (mostly) quiet, but sometimes commented randomly. Not all that different from a coffee-shop poetry slam now that I think of it. One resident did call me “ornery,” though. I’ve tucked that away for some future poems.

Here’s a poem I read for them:

 

This Winter

This winter is the winter I catch him.

What? You don’t believe that old myth, do you?

 

I’ll layer up and slog through snowy drifts.

Zillions of snowflakes dizzying down around me.

Everyone else will be inside cupped around cocoa

and melty marshmallows, but they’ll miss the clues.

 

This winter I finally know when to catch him.

It won’t be during an early November or even December snow.

This winter, he’ll wait until late,

when our backs are achy and

even the snow angels have gotten up, dusted off,

and left for choir practice. Read the rest of this entry »

I added Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” to my niece’s baby shower gift.  I had the bright idea to inscribe it with a little poem in Seuss’ trademark meter – tetrameter.  It was much harder than I thought it would be, especially because I already had the last line and had to build up to it.  It ended up taking me about three hours to write, but I’m happy with the results and know it’s a unique inscription.  Can’t return that gift!

For Marisa’s baby girl:

You’re smart and good looking.
You’re generous and kind.
And we can’t leave out
adventurously inclined.
 
Your life will be a journey
of curiosity and awe
unbounded depth that
the seers all saw!
 
You’ll fill your life to the edges
with astonishing scenes
because you and I, girl,
we share the same genes!

 – Great Aunt Pat