POEM: #SaveTheChief

redfaceoff

#SaveTheChief

 

I don’t even know where to begin.

Chief Wahoo is not offensive by any means.

One hundred years of racism is enough in Cleveland Ohio.

When was the last time you saw a Native American as good looking as Wahoo?

And he’s completely red; are you kidding me?

HA! HA! Laugh at those injuns

… then everybody shows up acting like a stereotypical version of that race.

Let’s do the Florida State chop, only for real. Send these whiners to big cloud in sky and finish the job.

Their faces are painted.

“This isn’t racism.”

They’re wearing feathers.

You guys need to go home–

                     “We’re not going away.”

–because we support the Indians.

a lot of them say they’re just honoring us.

I think the Indians would be proud of the fact–

I don’t feel honored.

that we’re sitting here, putting their name on shirts,–

I don’t think it’s honoring us in the least.

on jerseys,

It’s very hurtful.

on billboards…”

“I’ve got the smiling face of racism smiling right back at me.”

“This isn’t racism.”

You make this any other racial group,–

Native Americans are a bunch of pussies,–

where you do a ridiculous caricature like that,–

go back to your tipis and cry me a river.

people get it right away. “Oh, that’s racist.”

… get over it. Go light some torches

It’s very hurtful.

“…Chief Wahoo. Whether you guys like it or not,

it’s going to stay”

Rip chief wahoo

 

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*found poetry created with quotes from Twitter via the #SaveTheChief hashtag, and video quotes from protests and interviews. I apologize that some of the language is racist; the entire poem is composed of quoted material. By arranging the material of different people at different times concerning a single issue, I hoped to give the impression of a conversation between the two sides of the Chief Wahoo issue.

**photo credit via Parson Frown (@peterpattakos) on Twitter

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POEM: Spiritual Matter

keikannui-neuron-interneuron

Spiritual Matter

 

If Spirit is the immortal

part of ourselves,

the essence of our being,

Matter is Spirit.

 

Where else would our essence lie

but in our deepest parts?

Deeper than the cells of our skin

that flake off with touch and time,

becoming the dust breathed by the world.

 

Deeper than the muscles beneath

that shrink and grow with age and years,

the smooth use that pumps them large,

the slow stretches, the proteins

building the ability to push and pull

and leap and bound and even lie down

when life becomes too much.

 

Deeper than the cells making up

each separate part, each particle,

each electron, each quark

of up, down, strange, charm, bottom,

and top–their varied homogeneity

unites us with all. The dung beetle with

it’s beautiful shimmering body,

the dullest bird gracing the heavens,

the plastic bag floating discarded

in far-reaching oceans, each

unappreciated dandelion gracing

a freshly mown lawn with sunlight-

yellow petals, until it rides the wind

as cotton seedlings–visceral swan song

embodying the paradox

of uncreated creation.

 

We all come from each other.

Atoms are celestial: our

common building blocks

compose our infinite variety,

We are made of star stuff.

 

Materialism is Spiritual.

 

We share each other’s lives.

We breathe in each other’s essence.

There is nothing deeper

than realizing how our impermanence

permanently imprints us

on each other.

 

 

 

*image by keikannui via openclipart.org using Creative Commons licensing.

 

POEM: Why I Hate Christmas

santa_claus-l4

Why I Hate Christmas

 

I love brightly colored gifts

with shiny foil ribbons and stockings

filled with tiny plastic toys that make small children smile.

 

I support charity,

the clink of silver coins dropped into a collection can,

donating time to those less fortunate along with extra cans of food.

 

I adore singing songs

unheard in the shower or off-key

at 60 mph as my dashboard thrums to the beat.

 

I crave feasts of warm bread,

family favorites, and sweet steaming pudding

with chocolate skin you pierce with a fork to get at the good stuff.

 

I long for peace on Earth,

wish goodwill towards others;

hold the door open for strangers,

and try to understand my fellow man.

 

But I hate the idea that one time of year

is the right time, the best time, the required time

to do any or all these things.

 

I detest the pressure to sing happy holiday tunes

we’ve heard a thousand times before, loathe the open hand

at every store, the downward glance as you shift by

when you have no cash to give, detest the obligation

for feasts and gifts no matter how thin one’s wallet.

 

Forced gifts aren’t gifts.

A gift can only be given if it’s not required.

 

Give because you want to,

because giving is its own joy.

Sing because your heart is full or breaking.

Bake cookies because you crave sweetness,

because others hunger for kindness.

 

Don’t wait for a season,

make everyday the reason

to feel what you want,

be what you want,

do what you want

to make the world better–

 

or else

what’s the point?

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**I hope you enjoyed my mildly ranty Christmas poem. If you celebrate Christmas this year, I hope you have a lovely holiday!

 

POEM: Windows

winter-tree_3

“Windows”

In the neverending heat of a South Florida childhood with no other season except Hurricane, I dreamt of snow, of patting down snowballs into hard spheres to throw at my compatriots from behind white walls guarded by coal-eyed snowmen sniffing out trouble with carrot noses. Snow angels hovered in my dreams, bright shapes made real by throwing myself into clouds of frozen heaven dust upon waking to a Florida morning that never came.

Now, my dreams come true on this Ohio dawn, with the first snow drifting outside my bedroom window frosting trees like cupcakes, the ground ever more white, as though Thor dusted dandruff from his beard to coat the world. The flakes fall heavier, thick pale globes, hiding the grass, the trees, the warm gifts my dogs leave on the lawn like offerings to winter gods. In the snow, everything becomes new and beautiful.

Inside my house, my heater hums comfort. I snuggle under warm quilts.

I wonder if those without windows share my joy.

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com.

BOOK REVIEW: Little Epiphanies by Allison Joseph

Allison Joseph’s poetry collection, Little Epiphanies, is a lovely book.

Her tightly structured and orderly poems eloquently comment on everything from everyday clutter (“Little Epiphanies”) to our fellow mammals (“Ode to the Naked Mole Rat”). Yet she also skillfully uses iambic pentameter to poke fun at strict poetry format in “Sonnet for a Good Mood:”

“How funky can I be in fourteen lines;
how thick a groove can I lay down right here?
How bad can my ass be in these confines–
ten syllables each time seems so severe.”

On the next page, in “A Prayer for Women’s Bodies,” she smoothly transitions to more serious matters, honoring the imperfections that society would have us camouflage or hide:

“…love handles no longer

maligned, each waist its own territory,
own beloved landscape of bruise
or bone, wrinkle or fat. Let us honor
bone, whether porous or pointy,

shattered or submerged, hardworking
scaffolding holding us up when gravity
and graves could sink us down,…”

In fact, what amazes me most about this collection is that the subject matter is so varied while still fitting together well. She makes observations about racism in “Sundown Ghazal”, about Afro hairstyles as statements of black empowerment in “Thirty Lines about the Fro,” and her wandering pen touches on more mundane subjects like public transportation with equal parts observation and insight.

I recommend Little Epiphanies for poetry lovers everywhere.

 

POEM: Mindfulness

“Mindfulness”

the swish of my skirt’s soft fabric
against my ankles
black translucent cloth flowing behind
threads catch upon the rough concrete
as my uneven gait
from old worn sandals
clips and slides along the sidewalk

a cool breeze
softly strokes my hair
like a lover’s caress

my dark reflection
moves aside as the door swings slowly
open, then closes

Does that other me follow me inside with her dark gaze?

 

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Saturday, November 10th, the Massillon Library’s Local Author Fair will feature several Ohio authors between 11am and 2pm. I will be reading from my work about 11:30. Please stop by and find out about the writers in your community. I hope to see you there!

*image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.Net via Creative Commons License.

 

POEM: Elegy for the Circus

circus-elephant-vintage-poster

“ELEGY FOR THE CIRCUS”

 

No more clowns, corpse-white skin,

blackened eyes, and red leaking lips,

to frighten infants with ludicrous stunts

and thickly painted cracked faces

 

No more weeping elephants, tears cutting lines in rough skin

No more grey-skinned babes separated from mourning mothers

 

No more tigers pacing cages too small for predators meant to run,

to race, to track down prey, to rip flesh between their teeth

 

No more lions teased with the heads of their masters

thrust into hungry mouths, teased with the illusion

of freedom and a hot meal with a beating heart

 

No more X-square feet per animal, less than zoo standards,

less than any wild beast was meant to live in, to pace in, to die in,

 

No more creatures forced to perform

before children dripping ice cream and disinterest

 

 

 

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For those of you fortunate enough to live in Northeast Ohio, there are two writing events tomorrow (October 13th) in the Cleveland area.

Literary Cleveland’s October Poetry workshop takes place from 10:30-12:30 at the Cleveland Main Library, led by poet Kisha Nicole Foster.

Indie Author Conference and Showcase takes place from 10am- 4pm at the Cuyahoga County Library’s Parma-Snow branch.

Both events are free, which is INCREDIBLE. I’ve attended both events at different times in the past and readily vouch for how inspiring and helpful both are. Unfortunately, they overlap, so you will need to choose which event you want to attend this year.

If you can take advantage of these events, please do so. They are well worth the drive!

 

*It should come as no surprise that I’m not a fan of circuses, and so this prompt from last year’s National Poetry Writing Month really inspired me.

**image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net via Creative Commons License