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.

Necessities

necessities s

How much is enough?  Too much can still feel impoverished—it’s not just money or things (we know that we know that we know that…and yet)

We need another warm body—kind, accepting—one that touches us not in anger, but with love.

We need air that does not scar our lungs, water that quenches without leaving toxic residue.  We need food grown with earth knowledge.  We need multitudes of species–unafraid, unshadowed by our destructive impulses.

We need shelter from harsh elements, windows and doors that open without fear.  We need roots, a place of refuge to call home, a circle of people who reciprocate with trust.  We need to both render and accept, exchanging gifts with mercy and grace.  We need to be needed, for our days to have a reason.

We need stories that ask questions, that challenge and celebrate and comfort us in times both joyful and dark.

We need to be able to provide help without diminishment, to acknowledge the mutual relationships of life.  We need to share what we have too much of with those who don’t have enough.

We need laughter and light, leadership without tyranny.  We need to know we belong.

empty
the future
of past expectations

enter
the depths
of the unimaginable

change–
the path
becomes a river

hands
held shimmering
by the sea

necessities close up s

Sarah’s earthweal challenge asked us to think about the balance between the individual and the community.  I think it’s hard to disentangle one from another, even for those who insist on their “individual” freedom.  The cliche is true: no man is an island.  Everything, all life, depends on relationships for survival.

among the purple heather

among the purple s

solitude
unwinding beneath
meandering
skies, layers
circling back on themselves, cross
currented by wind–

trees sweep leaves
into shapes–shivered,
spilled over
edges, cast
shadowed with spirits holding
earth connecting air

scattering
blossomed voices—bells
calling words
into breath,
into dances that whisper
sanctuary—“come”

For Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, above.

I recently came across a video that talked about asemic writing, and using it as a prompt for extracting poetry from your unintellible scribbles. I decided to use Sue’s photo as a guide for my asemic composition, first using fine point markers in colors that echoed the landscape.  I then freewrote what I thought my marks were trying to say.

among the purple ansemic s

After that I took watercolor pencils, dipped them in water, and wrote asemically again over the markers, blurring both.  I looked at what I had written in my initial response, extracted some of the ideas, and formed them into a shadorma chain to go with the final composition.

among the purple close up s

 

When I saw Sue’s photo, the first thing I thought of was the traditional Scottish song “Wild Mountain Thyme”.  Joan Baez did a famous version, but I think the one I remember most from my youth is by the Byrds.  It’s been covered and reinterpreted by artists as varied as Van Morrison, the Clancy Brothers, and Ed Sheeran.  I listened to a lot of them, but I really like this one by Kate Rusby.

among the purple ansemic close up s

wild iris

spirits wander collage

bending air, a bridge–
rampant hues filling the gap
between heaven and earth

iris ink and pencil comp

For Frank Tassone’s #haikai challenge #145, wild iris.  I had promised Jade I would look for some of my old iris drawings, but I also found this rainbow spirit that somehow resembles an iris–Iris is the Greek rainbow goddess, messenger and link between mortal and deity.

iris colored pencil comp

The drawings are from one of my many abandoned projects, taking a journal from 1989, and doing something similar (at that time in 2015) and comparing them.  1989 is on the left, 2015 is on the right.  If I could buy a bouquet, I would try it again right now, as both  were done from live flowers.  Maybe next year.