We have written our words all over the land, constructed cages to contain what we can’t control. We have put a price on all the things that can’t be bought or sold, raised our voices until we are all deaf. We have invented gods of fear instead of harmony, raped and discarded what could be raped and discarded, left bloody sorrow to fertilize anything mistakenly overlooked. We long ago sold our souls, and our hollowness is so vast no one can measure it. And still we look for more more more– because what can ever satisfy the absence of what was never there?
For Brendan’s earthweal challenge, already dead. The art is a postcard fiction from 2017, but it seemed appropriate to both the theme and my thoughts.
You have to become empty in order to begin to fill up again. Perhaps we can learn to choose more wisely this time.
There is no drama in most moments, but the accumulation becomes a story. One day you wake up, or you think you wake up. But something burns—you can smell it in the air. Ashes of yesterday are falling from the sky. You thought the past was dead, but it has only rearranged itself into today, or is it already tomorrow?
And what happened yesterday anyway?
I went out to the hazel wood because a fire was in my head. I walked and walked and walked until I came to a pool of water, still and deep. I sat beside it, watching my reflection smolder, waiting for something to be revealed. The light scattered on the liquid surface held me and gave me a different life, turned me inside out.
Now I am only flames, or was that yesterday? Which side am I on?
For the dVerse Prosery prompt from Kim, some inspiration from Yeats: ‘I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head’.
The art is from a series of constellation poems I did for Pure Haiku. Freya’s current theme is Unfurling–you can submit until February 28.
memory fails to stop enduring grief daily farewell face death alone
In 2015, when this post originally appeared, the New York Times published a chart explaining some of the ways civilians have died in the Syrian War. A little research online shows that in modern warfare it is estimated that 85-90% of all casualties are civilians (June 2014 American Journal of Public Health). War also wreaks havoc on the environment, leading to more death.
A Hard Rain
has fallen shadowed by endless endings, ghosts both multiplied and lost
Some estimates of civilians killed in recent and ongoing conflicts: Sudan-Darfur 200,000 Iraq 170,000 Syria 200, 000 Congo 60,000 Afghanistan 45,000 Pakistan 35,000 Mexico 50,000 Libya 30,000 Chechnya 100,000 Eritrea-Ethiopia 70,000 Sierra Leone 70,000
These numbers have only increased since 2015.
There are not enough tears to encompass all this sorrow.
Bjorn at dVerse asked us to write poems of war. I decided to repost some of my headline haiku embroideries–I did a number of them from 2015-2017 when war was in the headlines every day. Now we’ve moved on to other things, but lest we forget, civilians and soldiers are still losing both their lives and homes every single day all over the world
Silence weeps and eyes refuse sight. No questions can be posed, nor answers given. Light is erased. Dust and blood.
My emotional distances keep expanding. They measure every room I enter, every landscape that passes through my eyes. The center swims increasingly away from the edges of my being. The gap is great and undefined.
Shadowshapes of figures frame the shore. Hands cast their lines into my depths, searching for a reflection, fishing for a response to their repeated inquiries.
How long can I stay afloat? The gravity of this world exhausts me. Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy, so incomplete. I have forgotten it–the one key to survival that is unnecessary but crucial.
I’m trying to recall the images that connect to my lingering feelings of kinship The light flickers, attempts to enter, but my eyes refuse it. They look sentient, but they are no longer open for business. Closed, the sign says. Can’t you read it?—“CLOSED”.
For the dVerse Prosery, Linda has selected a line from Mary Oliver: Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy, from her poem “Spring Azures”.
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.
child of my past, you have not traveled far enough to forget troubles
that once stood before you—ones you could not tell from the ones
that had been left be hind—sometimes to understand means to leave, and some
times it requires being held by what you could not keep—you
can never find all the pieces to the puzzle at the same time—but
so much remains—release what is lost–make ways to be found
Sarah at dVerse asked us to have a conversation with a poem we read in the last year that resonated with us. Last week I was listening to some poems being read on Brain Pickings, and one particular Emily Dickinson poem, read by Patti Smith, stayed in my mind. As I listened to it several times, I wrote down the words that jumped out at me, and started to make my own poem with them. I sometimes do this when listening to poetry, and find that the emotional tone influences what I write, even if the subject I write about turns out to be totally different.
Sarah’s prompt made me return to and revise the poem, and I thought it went well with a collage I just finished too, based on the Tarot Nine of Wands. I love all kinds of cards, and the symbolism of Tarot is especially rich for the kinds of imagery I use in my collages. Nine of Wands is a card of resilience.
You can read Emily Dickinson’s poem #600, I Was Once a Child, and hear Patti Smith reading it, at Brain Pickings, here.