Archive for the ‘news’ category

Trumping the Lord’s Prayer

September 16, 2017

Trumping the Lord’s Prayer

Oh Donald,
we were never a heaven,
but now hollowed
is our name–
a kingdom of guns
if thy will be done
the earth will have
no haven.
Day-to-day run
by bread,
leaders in bed
with temptation
delivering us to the upheaval
of thine King Dumb, craving
power and gory
hopefully not
forever–

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Something like that.  For Brendan’s prompt on Real Toads, in part about power.  Pic, such as it is, is mine.  All rights reserved. 

No Wall – Tourists in Berlin, ’65

February 12, 2017

No Wall – Tourists in Berlin, ’65

The wall was made of riddled cinder block with barbed wire atop;
my parents bought me
a pipecleaner-bodied doll in a dark felt
uniform, supposed to be
a border guard, his nose incongruously
round, his eyes incongruously
googly, the ones we saw shadowed
about the eyes, at least so they seemed
at the checkpoints.

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Draft 55-word poem for Marian’s prompt about a wall, posted belatedly to Real Toads.  Pic (such as it is) is  mine.

Gag Order

January 29, 2017

Gag Order

After the tide
took care, there were left
coathangers.

Their metal jetter
than jackdaw–how sharply
they gyred.

The men urging the tide,
the men who’d made
pity less, used only
wooden hangers, fit for an artifice
of shoulder, patting down empty suits
in ceremonies
of shiny serge

while the women’s insides tattered,
poor women.
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Draft poem for Kerry O’ Connor’s Get Listed prompt on With Real Toads to use certain words from Yeats.  

What to do?

January 21, 2017

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Keep faith.

More Reasons Why I’m With Her–Mom, Me, Moon

October 16, 2016

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My mother, not believing that anyone would ever want to marry her, had two choices as a young girl.

I call them “choices”–I should say that she had two dreams.  Only they weren’t actually “dreams”–simply her view of best possible outcomes.

One was to be a teacher, the other a nurse.

My mother was born in the U.S. to an extremely Northern European family that could not “be having with” bodies, so she opted, eventually, for teacher.

Pay attention to the “eventually.”  Long before she could dream of (or, accept) becoming a teacher, her father wanted her to be a hired girl.

A hired girl back in the 1930‘s was someone who basically did dishes–that is, drew, carried and heated water for dishes, made things to be put on dishes, cleaned up what resulted from things put on dishes. Hired girls usually lived in someone else’s house so that they could work just about any time of day (as in, all hours of the–.)

Not that my grandfather thought his daughter could not manage becoming a teacher or nurse–she was the valedictorian of her high school–he just thought she should take the first paying job she could get; being a hired girl had the added bonus of also providing for her keep.

But my mother persisted–and to my grandfather’s credit, he let her persist–and World War II served as a stepping stone out of hired girldom, allowing her, under its heavy cloud, to take on greater variety of work than ever previously available to women.  Her burning desire to visit California turned, oddly, not into a trip to California, but into a job with the U.S. occupation force in Yokohama, Japan where she lived from 1947-1949.

On her return to the U.S., there were her same choices once again–teacher/nurse–and–oh yes–typist. Ironically, after earning (and personally paying for) her college degree, her career dream was to become a typist with the U.S. foreign service. But by that time, amazingly to her, she had found someone to marry her, someone she loved;  being a married woman in the U.S. foreign service was simply not a “go”.

My mother was not a born teacher. She cared deeply about helping kids learn and she worked extremely hard–but she did not have the gift of maintaining control of a class. This meant that teaching (often with 32 or 33 in a room) could be a nightmare (as in, she sometimes cried at night.) Still, she kept at it for thirty years.

Did I mention that in the first full year of my life she had to pretend that I didn’t exist? This, because of a law in Maryland at that time, which automatically reduced a teacher’s pay to substitute’s rates (i.e. maybe two-thirds) if she had a child at home below the age of one.

After that first year in hiding, I had many more choices than my mother, in part because her second salary in our household helped pay for my good education.

But, unlike the male members of my family, I simply did not have what it took to pursue the careers of my heart. How much did this relate to my being a woman? All I know for certain is that I just didn’t have the ego, confidence, self-esteem, or just plain selfishness, to reach for my wishes.  As in the case of my mother, my dreams felt like the moon to me–not because I wasn’t talented enough, but because I wasn’t somehow cool enough, hip enough, deserving enough–qualities that seemed especially important in a girl reaching for the moon.  Because the jobs I needed to take to support myself while I aimed for the moon–i.e. being a waitress to support myself while trying to make it as a writer–exposed me at times to a kind of dismissive treatment from the world that my weak ego just couldn’t stomach.

Then, finally, there was the guilt. My mother really wanted me to to have a clearly defined way of earning a good wage–i.e. “something to fall back on.”  I couldn’t bear to disappoint her.

So rather than become a hired girl, I became a lawyer (a “hired gun” as some used to call it.)  Only it turned out being an attorney is not something you actually fall back on, but rather it is a job you actively need to pursue many hours of the day.

Many things about this choice have been heart-wrenching; yet it also turned out to be extremely fortunate. Because, like many women of my generation, I ended up unexpectedly and for years as the primary source of my children’s support.  (Making me, in other words, very glad to have the steady wage my mother pushed me towards.)

I want to say this first:  I am so grateful to my employers for the jobs I’ve had. There are too many men and women both who have no chance of any good job; too many men and women who don’t even consider fulfilling a dream, too many men and women who, even working night and day, cannot provide for their children.

My complaint is just that there are so many many many women in the non-dream boat–women holding the bag, women raising the kids, women holding the bag and raising the kids. There are so many women, who have so few choices in how they make their living, only knowing that they better hurry up and get busy at it.

Of course, there are men in this situation too.  Many obstacles in life are not gender-based.  Yet the fact remains that in the U.S. and the world, the majority of those living in poverty are women and children.  (The non-dream boat isn’t exactly a life boat, even if one feels stuck in it for life.) This is not because of women’s liberation–women have not “empowered” themselves into lives in poverty–( women’s liberation did not begin in a context in which women had control over their economic and personal lives)–rather, it is because of all kinds of worldwide economic and societal factors.

I am convinced, based on her lifelong career, that Hillary Clinton cares for these women.  I am not saying that she gives preference to women and their work and dreams over the work and dreams of men.  But she understands the special challenges that women face based upon our history and the reality of our present, and she understands that in much of the greater world, especially, helping women to some share of economic power must be a priority.

My own (albeit lucky) history makes my support of HRC extremely personal.  Because mixed in with my devotion to Hillary is my devotion to my mother, my devotion to mother’s sister (who worked for over forty years as a dietician, which then was like a non-body-touching nurse), my devotion to one of my mother’s other sisters (a stay-at-home mom who taught briefly and thereafter seemed to yearn almost desperately for some income of her own), and then to my mother’s other sister (who was brain-damaged and, though beloved, the reason my mother believed that no one in that eugenics-prone age would ever marry any of them)—-

Mixed in with my devotion to Hillary is my devotion to all the wonderful teachers and nurses, I have known, the secretaries and waitresses —

my devotion to my Dad (a scientist), my husband (a nature lover),
and, most strongly, my devotion to my daughters, who may not get the jobs of their dreams but at least are strong enough to choose fields based on their vocations and not their gender–

and to my baby granddaughter, who, every time she sees me, says moon, pointing up–

GOP Spelling Bee (Old Guard vs. New)

September 25, 2016

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GOP Spelling Bee (Old Guard vs. New)

Hey, I’m Dan Quayle, and I’m peeved!
All I didn’t know was how to spell “potato,”
while this old wheeze wouldn’t even try,
just morphed the word
into “fry.”

And they don’t even give him any heat!
She–eeet!
When they said, ‘but the word was
“potato,”’ he said, “some people
heard it as ‘fry’–

“And besides,” he asided,
“a lot of people like fries–”

Okay, but the word
was potato!

So, now, let’s pretend
this isn’t the rendering
of a spelling bee word
but of being and the world–
he still would spell it,
fry.

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A very belated offering for Rommy’s prompt on Real Toads to write of a famous “sidekick.”  In this case, Dan Quayle, who was George W. Bush’s Vice President, got into trouble at one point by mis-correcting school children’s misspelling of potato.  (He added an e to the end.)  Drawing, such as it is, is mine–all rights reserved. 

Sad Tonight as Woman and (Mostly) New Yorker

September 19, 2016

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Dear Mom (and Donald), Putin’s Not Really a Great Guy

September 17, 2016

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My mom who is normally quite sensible about politics spoke quite favorably about Putin the other day, after hearing all the Trump hype, and also because she heard that he had learned German while working (for the KGB) in East Germany and thought somehow that this may have reflected a friendship with Angela Merkel.  ( Anyway, we discussed it all at length– some of which is recorded above!)  Thanks, poet friends, for putting up with these political pictograms.  

In the Nit of Time

July 21, 2016

In the Nit of Time

He married
the only pets he acknowledged,
but his secret pet, the one that he began to look like
in the way that the eyebrows of those who own schnauzers
flourish, and the noses of those walking dachshunds
narrow–let’s not even talk
of people with pugs–was
a little louse.

He let it feed
on his very good head, making it a bed
not of straw exactly, but some Rumpelstiltskin-spun
facsimile–a faked
Rumpelstiltskin–for he was superficially
a tall man, and could not, in truth,
spin gold;

but what was most fun (for him)
was just to hold the louse
between thumb and forefinger–even as it rolled
into a protective ball–the louse fetal position–

Oh, what a ball, he thought,
to see its slim limbs distraught,
and to think of how it held inside
his blood,
that blood from his very good head,
worth its weight in gold,
or in something anyway, and thinking of how
it might multiply, he gently re-nested the louse
in his straw
in awe of his investing prowess,
as the louse, making do,
grated his pate again.

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Poem of sorts for Hannah Gosselin’s post on Real Toads to write of a totem animal.  The pic is not a louse but a recent pic of mine of a bug anyway (a mosquito hawk, I think).  (It’s very late where I am!)\

Sorry to make another plug, but check out my new book, Dogspell!  It’s a lot of fun.  On Amazon.  When at Amazon, check out my other books!  1 Mississippi, Going on Somewhere, Nose Dive, and Nice.  

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Thinking of GOP Candidates — Auguries of Disingenuousness

December 15, 2015

Auguries of Disingenuousness
(US  GOP Presidential Candidates as of December 2015) 

To see a world in a grain of sand,
don’t make it glow with carpet-bombs.
To flower heaven in your hand,
don’t turn strewn rocks into lined tombstones.

Eternity’s cut by every hour
that we barter off the soul–
the harlot’s cry quite overpowered
by those who’d hawk our all.

Burnishing our fears with bling,
combing bald hates with shine,
they boast they’ll get us everything,
snaking oil o’er twists of spine.

But the grains that hold the world they see
are measurements of ammo–
Oh good lord, please save me
from their deserts of glow-woe,
from their plasticked deserts of woe.

(Optional refrain:  oh-glow-woe-woh-woh-woh-woh/oh-glow-woe-woh-woh-woh=woh–)

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Not sure about the rhythms at the end of this one, but here’s a poem originally inspired by Kerry O’Connor’s Real Toads prompt and based very very very loosely on William Blake’s poem, the Auguries of Innocence (that begins with “to see the world in a grain of sand”–and finding heaven in a wildflower and moves on to the winding sheet woven by the harlot’s cry.)  My offering for Real Toads Open Link Platform. 

The pic is mine; not sand, but detailed (ha.) 

Process notes–a grain is a weight used for measurement of propellant in bullets and other projectile weaponry; plastic refers to all kinds of things of course, but also certain explosives.