Sisters

We remain ourselves, enigmatic–
a paired paradox
of who we are–sisters
bound by blood and expectation.

Our portrait is a puzzle
to which we hold the pieces–
together we can complete it—but only
if we remain ourselves, enigmatic.

We are both similar and neither
without being either
identical or opposite–
a paired paradox.

We hold the mirror up lightly,
confronted by our artificial reflections,
the complex and divergent shades
of who we are—sisters.

But to you we reveal nothing–
only these parallel arrangements–
the outlines of our surface disguises,
bound by blood and expectation.

I wrote this cascade for The Ekphrastic Review challenge, Theodore Chasseriau’s painting The Two Sisters. I did not think it would be published, and it wasn’t.

I have brothers and no sister, but I have two daughters. They have their own special and complex world, both for and against what exists outside their relationship. I felt that strongly in Chasseriau’s painting. For my own exploration of the painting, I drew first with neocolors and then dipped them in paint to emphasize some of the color and lines. I haven’t been doing much drawing in the past year, so it feels good to just fool around with it and see what happens.

You can see the painting and published responses here.

All That Is

What do we say to death when
it insists on arriving despite the fact that we
are not ready?  We still have love
that needs to be given.  We
haven’t said all that we feel
to those who need to know.  It
is never the right time, is it?  That’s all.

(a shovel poem after Robert S. Carroll  “This Much”)

I get daily emails of poetry from several sources. I don’t have time to read them all, but I look at least one every day. Yesterday when I opened the Rattle email to the poem “This Much” by Robert S. Carroll, about the death of his father, I was stopped in my tracks. I read it over several times, and then wrote this shovel poem from the ending thought “When we love, we feel it all”. I urge you to read Carroll’s poem here.

For dVerse OLN, hosted by Sanaa, and another response to Sarah’s prompt to have a conversation with another poet/poem.

I know everyone is obsessed with Donald Trump right now, but 4000 people died yesterday in the United States from Covid-19.

Vestiges

What abides
contains emptiness
waiting for
what cannot
return.  What abides remains
forever unfilled.

What abides
is quintessence—the
embodiment
of a way
of being—the exchange
of rudimentals.

What abides
contains entire lives
together
and apart–
more than a remembering–
opened held nowhere.

A quadrille for dVerse, where Jade has given us the word abide.

Refugee

Lost among the layers of words, my needs slip through the cracks that keep opening into assaults on the ways that have always belonged to me.  I don’t want to be reoriented towards a future I can’t imagine, or pushed through a portal into a world I don’t understand.  A world that does not recognize me and has no relationship to the one that has always sheltered me from unwelcome change.

All those strident sentences you spit out—they mock my choices, erasing any value in what I call a good life.  The scale on which you judge me makes my wishes weigh nothing.  You discard everything that makes me happy.

The tasks of survival are not so easily sorted into black and white, good and evil.  What seems to work for the time being is all we can attain sometimes, worth more than the promises of a future that we can’t see.

It’s impossible to know God’s plans or to understand them—despite your fancy degrees and charts, there are realms beyond the facts, beyond what you call science, that we can’t anticipate or control.

Instead you put yourself above me.  But you appear in my mirror as one-dimensional, rejecting me and the grieving that belongs to me, the losses I have experienced and feel.  You insist they are worthless, I am worthless.  But what do you offer to me that will replace them?

You list all my beliefs and shame them, shame me, shame my culture, my family, my friends.  And you call it compassion.

I am not asking for your false understanding.  I do not want what you want, what you think I need.

I want to be worth something.  I want to matter to someone, something.  I want a world that holds out a hand and tells me I belong.  Where has it gone?

look at me
listen to my life
make me real

Jim Feeney at Earthweal gave us quite a challenge this week: to write a poem from the point of view of someone who is a climate change denier or a climate solution denier or someone who just doesn’t care because they won’t be around when it happens. It’s not easy to put yourself sympathetically in someone else’s shoes. I chose to repeat some of the words and ideas I heard in interviews with Trump supporters, figuring no environmentalist would ever vote for Trump. I have to admit I resent the fact that the media always tells us we need to try to “understand” people who support Trump, and yet Trump supporters never have to return the favor and try to understand those of us who don’t. We are not all wealthy Ivy League educated “elites”.

And the thing is…in the end our desires are not so different. I don’t reject science and I would not talk of God, but I have spiritual beliefs too that involve feelings and ideas that can’t really be quantified. I also often feel unacknowledged, dismissed, invisible. I have lost parts of my life that will never return and cannot be replaced. We all want to matter, to belong somewhere.

Why can’t we make that somewhere a place of mutual respect that honors our interdependence with the natural world? So we have a world where everyone’s children and grandchildren have a fighting chance at survival?

wake up

I needed
herbal tea and drank
peppermint
chamomile
lemon ginger—aromas
filled the afternoon

awakened
this morning my head
pounded with
forgotten
caffeine—I had neglected
to include coffee

I needed
to smell the coffee
pot brewing–
inhale
the cup–cravings satisfied–
snug, reblanketed

I wrote two blanket poems yesterday–one was depressing and the other too enigmatic, to put it kindly. This poem came to me spontaneously this morning as I waited for my caffeine to brew–along with a drawing to help the time pass more quickly.

A quadrille for dVerse, where Merril has given us the word blanket

navigations

superimposed lines–
pick them up, examine
the landscapes beneath,

follow the intersections–
the map of bodyworn years

I chose the theme for Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday prompt #192, Maps, but did not get a chance to post my response. When I pulled it out to look at it this morning it took awhile to remember my creative process.

I wanted to use a map of NYC and a self-portrait and layer them somehow. I had seen a layered piece of art that used holes cut in the top layer which I liked. The challenge was to make the holes work with the portrait underneath.

As usual, I managed to take off a few years from my face in my drawing, but otherwise I think it’s a pretty good likeness. Our faces contain many maps, but sometimes you have to look closely to see them.

hollering (75th anniversary of Hiroshima)

hollering s

I hold my own hand
and step into that place
I don’t know and can’t see–

I was always making it up,
but in reaction,
waiting for clues–

Now I see only myself,
my indecision mirroring back
and making me hesitate–

More than a crossroads–
paths appear everywhere
as the center shifts–

I sway with choices–
pick a card, any card–
eeny meeny miny mo

cranes s

I wrote this for the earthweal weekly challenge strange world.  When I went to post it today, I realized it’s the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, so I decided to include some of the art and words from my previous 70th anniversary post.

70 years cranes s

The madness of humanity has been evident for a long time.

no meaning no sense
words are lost is there a way
to stop this bleeding

70 years close up 1s

What are we going to do about it?

This is our cry.
This is our prayer.
Peace in the world.

–inscription on the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima
http://www.nippon.com/en/images/k00009/

also linking to dVerse OLN hosted by Lillian

holiday

i have a dream s

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

You would think if you shared a birthday with someone whose date of birth merits a national holiday, people would remember.  But the actual date of my own birth is still a constant confusion to many of my family and friends. (I know it’s in January…what day again?)

Maybe it’s the moving of all holidays in the U.S. to Mondays, so everyone can enjoy a long weekend.  No need to acknowledge why their employer or school is giving them a day off—the real reason for holidays is to have 3 days off in a row with no work, right?

mid-January–
voice of crow under grey skies–
how to fill the hole

mlk-2017-s

Kim at dVerse prompted us to talk about our birthday.

The Local Crow (revised)

crow 3s

Crow calls to me from above–
“Crowman are you stalking me?”
There he is—on that roof.

Call to attention–
the question
harsh, always interrupting

the pause between the lines.
“Do you want me to look up?”
He extends the invitation again and again.

“I’m telling stories,”
shape-shifting in the interlude–
“remaking the recent past.”

how to release and how to begin–
but that part’s invisible,
stark with intention.

“…or do you hear it?”
unseen voices echo across the gap,
“and are you laughing at me?”

an interior bathed in blue–
“OK—I’m leaving that world—”
memories circle round and round–

“I’m here now, present.”
thoughts hang in the air–
“I’m unfolding those regrets.”

Crow flies over my shadow.
“Are you happy now?”
the clash of silence, unbound

crow 1s

Crow has been following me around for about 15 years now.  I notice birds all the time, but I don’t always know what they are saying to me.  I have a tendency to space out, especially when walking.  Crow’s message has always been clear:  get outside yourself, pay attention.

crow 4s

A message that’s more important than ever.  For Earthweal, messages from the wild, hosted by Sherry, a revision of one of my many poems about Crow.