Monday, January 9, 2017

STAR DREAMS AND RAINBOW HOPES - A CHAT WITH WEST COAST POETS WENDY BOURKE AND SHERRY BLUE SKY

This week, my friends, we are bringing you a chat with Wendy Bourke, who blogs at Words and Words and Whatnot. Recently Wendy wrote a poem that  really spoke to me. I asked her if I might feature it and, as often happens, our emailed conversation about the poem turned into a Chat. We hope you enjoy it, along with Wendy's beautiful photography, and that you weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments section. 









Sherry: Wendy, I am so pleased with the way this chat evolved. I love your poem, “Maybe There Will Be a Rainbow.” I always view sighting a rainbow as a sign that all will be well, so your poem really spoke to me.

Wendy: Thank you, Sherry, for choosing one of my poems for your Blog of the Week feature.  You are so supportive – with your columns and comments – of your fellow poets who blog.  We all owe you, and all the staffers at Poets United, a huge debt of gratitude. 

Our creative lives are enriched when we come together, and that is made possible by virtue of the warm and welcoming poet-friendly place your work sustains.  It is a huge contribution.  And so, before we go any further, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, Sherry, as well as:  Mary, Sumana, Susan and Rosemary – for all you do. 

Sherry: Well, you are most welcome, Wendy, and thank you for the appreciation, which warms our hearts! To begin, let’s share your wonderful  poem with our readers, shall we?






these vague, anxious
stirrings 
will cease soon … 

heaven is weeping

and earthly troubles
cannot eclipse the sight 
of raindrops
racing pell-mell 
down my window, 
in a mad dash 
to be done 
with the sad blue act 
of falling to nihility

I watch the arrival 
of a tiny drop

it lingers for a moment,
for a split second, 
as if unsure … 
perhaps, it is weighing 
the options:

there are none

and so, in a burst of
pithy resignation – 
the bolt to the finish line 
commences, as other drops 
appear, to take their turn ...
mesmerizing me

I always find my way to
a tranquility of mind,
when raindrops fall

the sound soothes me … 
the earth is cleansed … 
the air I breathe is sweeter …

and the world, 
outside my window, 
becomes a little blurry:

that is, strangely, comforting

maybe, we are not meant
to see everything, clearly – though –

often ... I wonder, if there will be 
a rainbow … at the end


Sherry: I love “heaven is weeping”, as it certainly must be, in these thorny times. And that wistful hoping for a rainbow is  beautiful.  Would you talk to us about this poem?

Wendy: Life isn’t fair.  There I said it … (lol) … of course, we all know that, but, it is the coming-to-terms with it: “there’s the rub” (to quote Shakespeare).  All of us (particularly in the global village that technological advances have brought to our door) live under this shadow … a sense of unfairness – that life seldom unfolds as it should or in the way that we would like things to unfold.  

Sherry: This is very true. I think we have to hold on to the beauty around us, to sustain us in the face of struggle and difficulty. Nature, sunsets – rainbows – all remind us “There is a larger landscape than the one we see,” a favourite quote of mine, though I can’t remember who said it.

The Call of the Loon


Wendy: Great quote! It helps to remind ourselves of that - especially those of us who struggle with the myriad of demoralizing issues confronting our world.  I have come to believe that we are all “wired” differently.  Some of us are able to let the things we cannot change slide off of us more easily than others.  I suspect that the same “wiring” that gifts us with a poetic bend in our observations and contemplations, makes it harder to let go, when confronted with the meanness – the unfairness – of life. 

I confess, I am one of those people who must work at letting go.  And many of my poems come out of this process.  I’d like to talk about that, as it is a theme that I have noticed at Poets United, many of my fellow poets grapple with it in their poetry.  But first, I’d like to elaborate a bit more about this aspect of life – the unfairness, the disparity, that “shadow” – that is truly a vexation to the spirit.

Sherry: I have trouble letting go, too, as is evidenced by my lengthy grieving over All That Is No More.

Wendy: Some of the loveliest people that I know, struggle; people with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, mental illness, physical disabilities and degenerative diseases.  It seems to me that having to make one’s way in life, with an extra load to carry, often plants a seed of empathy and kindness that never truly takes hold in many who, by comparison, have “the world on a string”.

Sherry: I definitely agree with that. The most empathetic people I know are those who  have experienced more than their share of suffering.

Wendy: So true, Sherry. As well, I have seen many children born into families with such financial, educational and social problems, that the brightest amongst them have almost no chance at all at a happy life.  And I have seen the frustrations faced by the working poor who, try as they might, cannot provide themselves or their families with opportunities.  And, of course, the terrible prejudices that unleash so much cruelty upon humankind are a heartache to all people of conscience.

I could go on, but my point is:  challenges and adversity can confer something gentle upon the human soul.  And when you see that – when you are confronted with cruelty and disrespect towards good people, towards vulnerable people and, of course, towards nature – that which sustains us all – it is very hard to deal with.  It is unnatural … sometimes it even feels inhuman.  As I say in my poem:   “heaven is weeping”. 

Sherry: Yes, and heaven must weep, especially when they see what humans perpetrate on other beings, both human and non-human. Your poem "Pillars of the Earth" makes a wonderful statement about how nature continues to try to cleanse herself of of all we humans inflict upon her. Let's take a look:




PILLARS OF THE EARTH

beside the road we walk, stand ancient oaks:
gnarled, crusted – stems of pewter gray
adorned with versicolored fluttered cloaks
– grand wizened sentinels – that awe the day …
battle scarred bark over amber heart –
having come as far as trees can come:
man’s masterpieces pale to nature’s art:
such majesty from seedlings, long begun …
they mesmerize me in their constancy
– cleansing air and holding up the sky –
while humankind inflicts inanity
on that which nature works to rectify.

pillars of the earth, choke our dark lies,
so we might see the truth before our eyes


I can't imagine anything more important
than air, water, soil, energy and biodiversity.
These are the things that keep us alive.

- David Suzuki, Environmental Activist



Sherry: I love the strong closing lines, my friend. If we ever needed to truly see, it is now. And then stand up and speak, millions strong.

Wendy: Children tend to see the world in terms of right and wrong and good and evil:  if you try to be a good person, work hard and do your best, then good things will happen to you.  Nothing  that I was taught growing up as a child, prepared me for the twists and turns one’s life can take, by virtue of having the fallout from the outrageous conduct of others visited upon your head.  For most of us, that childish belief in fairness shatters multiple times over a lifetime.

Sherry: And the older one gets, the more it hurts. By now, we know how much better life can and should be, and wish that goodness and peace to spread to other people, other countries.

Wendy: I don’t believe that the world is full of narcissists – but I do believe that there are a lot of people who are very egocentric in their dealings with others.  It’s not that they want to be hurtful, they just cannot seem to get past themselves.  THEY DO NOT THINK!  One need only look around, and it quickly becomes apparent a lot of people move through life without any thought as to what they want their life to stand for, having been granted the privilege of living – and life, I think, should be lived – respected and cherished – as if it is a privilege to walk this earth.   

The Woods at Twilight


It would be nice if, being born “lucky” (with good health, good family and friends and enough material resources to enjoy a pleasant existence), instilled in folks a determination to proceed through life with as much goodness and human charity, as possible.  Sadly – while some folks do, indeed, move through life with loving hearts – love is, often, nowhere to be found.  That sad reality brings me back to my poem.

Sherry: And is why your poem touched my heart so much, Wendy, because I so wish for the same thing: for global consciousness to grow, for human hearts to be kind, for social justice and sustainable living to spread across the earth, and bring peace, (as only social justice can.) Maybe I can offer a poem on this topic. Let me thumb through my dusty files (smiles.)


DREAM

I imagine a world
of social justice:
resources used sustainably,
and shared,
wildlife and water protected,
a world of clean energy
and thriving organic gardens.

The humans are all smiling
and no human or animal
is abused or beaten or shot,
a world where guns do not exist.
The children are all loved,
and the elderly are
not lonely, but included,
for they are the storytellers.

It is a world of peace and beauty
and, the thing is,
it is available right now,
if humanity wants it.




Wendy: Amen. What a wonderful world that would be - and a dream that, I believe, should be part of daily consciousness. I think western society tends to divide the "matters of living" (for lack of a better term) into compartments. Goodness and fairness and compassion are often seen as "matters" for the church. And this way of thinking is not helping our society find its way out of the sad state of affairs that we have come to. Mortal conversations should be happening in schools, around the family dinner table, in work places - wherever people gather. It is time for the expectation - that people proceed with a bit of kindness - comes out of the closet. When it does, notions such as building walls to keep people out (who simply want a better life for themselves and their families)  would never be considered "reasonable" conversation.

Sherry: I could not agree more. Our whole system is based on profit as a bottom line. The multinationals have the globe in a stranglehold and are unwilling to let go of any potential for profit, at any expense, even that of the planet’s survival. And politicians’ hands are tied; opposing the financial giants would lead to loss of their own privilege and power. It is really up to us, folks, to vote with our pocketbooks, our feet and our support of those in power brave enough to tackle the tough questions (and there are some, just not very many, and they are moving far too slowly.)

Wendy: “maybe there will be a rainbow” is about contemplation, in the face of this struggle to reconcile the disparity in this world.  Poetry is the way in which I “frame” my thoughts – my “go to place” whenever I am feeling overwhelmed.   One of the things that “maybe there will be a rainbow” drives home, (and is a common theme of mine), is that there is beauty and peace to be found in a moment.  This paring down and focusing on the sweetness that is there, lifts my heart.

Sherry: Mine, too, Wendy, which is why your poem pinged at my heart. Nature’s beauty has sustained me through a life full of incredible challenge, loss, and trauma. But when I look back, it is the beauty – of life, of nature, of living – that shines golden for me.


Mike and Wendy in Trafalgar Square


Wendy: I also take this time of contemplation, to think about the wonderful relationships in my life and the bit of control I am free to exercise over it.  I am truly blessed to have good friends and a loving family.   We actually enjoy hanging out together.  




My children were raised around conversations about things that concern myself and my husband and our friends.  Maybe a lot of people don’t think, but my children were raised to think, and they do think.  They are all in occupations that involve service to others.  They work and volunteer in initiatives for workers, low income families, street kids, and in crisis centers.   In small ways, I do what I can, to be a good human being and a good citizen.  I seek out people who, as Gandhi said, are the change they wish to see in the world … and I support them.  That lifts my heart.

Sherry: It lifts my heart, too, Wendy. And your kids sound wonderfully aware! Raised with love and humour, from the looks of it! 

Wendy: They are pretty awesome. I like to be reminded of all the love in my life. That keeps me going. My family and friends gather around food and holidays and milestones and accomplishments. Much of this I put into books and binders. I try to capture the beauty of this world through my photography and through my words. It's important to celebrate life. I may not be around forever. But I like to think I'm leaving a "trail" behind me. That lifts my heart too.

Sherry: That is exactly how I feel, about my writings.

Wendy: The world is big and can be harsh and sad – but looked at, in the context of small communions with nature, little acts of kindness and assistance, and happy moments treasured, it becomes a lot less overwhelming.  And I do think that the world is not as barbaric as it was a couple of millenniums ago (in geological “earth” years, almost no time at all).   

Now:  there are a lot more people.  Extremism probably isn’t new, but the earth’s huge populations, as well as some of the really terrifying aspects of technology, are very distressing to contemplate.  But while, the latest “horror” is laid before us, each news cycle …. it IS laid before us, and I think that the human consciousness is growing. 

Sherry: It is, Wendy. I feel the pace accelerating, and technology shows us the amazing children who are being born in response to our need for transformation. And, in the darkest hours, I see how people reach out to help their fellow humans. There are far more good-hearted, kind people than not, I believe.



Rainy backyard window


Wendy: I think so, too. Sometimes people lose their way, but there is goodness there. People should be educated to stop for a few moments each day and think about what they are doing and what they "claim" to believe. We have all been in conversations where we find ourselves wondering if the person we are talking to is listening to what they are saying - or are they simply parroting some ridiculous misinformation. 

People need to take more conscious ownership of their actions and their words. That comes when you cease looking at the world with yourself at the center of it.....by reminding yourself that you are but one very small "player" on this earth. There is freedom and peace in that kind of clarity of thought.

“maybe there will be a rainbow” is centered on rain, which, for me, is not only a metaphor for cleansing and rebirth – I, personally, find rain to be spiritually cathartic.   At the end of the poem, I write:  “maybe, we are not meant to see everything, clearly”.   I don’t believe we do see everything or know everything.  But by allowing ourselves “pause” to refresh our spirits, have a good cry – as symbolized by the falling of rain – reflect on our core values and see the beauty and goodness that is there, we remind ourselves:  where there is life, there is hope. 


Rainy Garden


Sherry: A philosophy with which I completely agree. (I am enjoying this conversation so much!) I so often say "we live in hope," because living without it is not an option. As a fellow West Coaster, I share your appreciation of rain, which gives sustenance to our parched, end-of-summer trees. Thank you for this very meaningful and heartfelt conversation, my friend. And your photography, and the way you show us the world through your camera lens, is beautiful!

Wendy:  This has been a great chat, Sherry.  
At the center of it is the horrible disparity in the world  – in so many ways and for so many people.  I suspect that the same “wiring” that gifts us with a poetic bend in our observations and contemplations, makes it harder to let go, when confronted with the meanness of life. That “shadow” has an effect upon us:  as poets in our writing and, by extension, on our own emotional and spiritual outlook. 

I deal with this through small communions with nature, through engaging with others in activism and enlightenment, and through celebration and remembrance and, as much of your work focuses on similar themes, I am so pleased we could have this conversation.  I’ve really enjoyed it!  I feel reinvigorated and yes:  hopeful. 

Sherry:  I do, too, Wendy. It is good to talk of these things, and focus on the positives. Thank you again for this wonderful conversation.

Well, my friends, wasn’t this an uplifting chat? One dear to my heart, as you can imagine, and a great way to begin a new year. Feel most welcome to share your thoughts and add to this discussion in the comments. And do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


23 comments:

  1. Great job on this, Sherry! I so enjoyed revisiting our "chat".

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    1. Thank you so much for this chat, my friend. It lifted my heart up to read it again too. Great way to start the new year! There will definitely be rainbows. We believe! Smiles.

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  2. Such a lovely interview Sherry, thank you ~ Wendy so nice to get to know more about you ~ Love your poems specially the rainbows (so hopeful) ~ More power to both of you ~

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    1. Thanks for reading, Grace. I love the rainbow poem especially too.

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  3. I enjoyed this interview and learning a bit more about you Wendy and reading your wonderful poems. A rainbow is a promise of hope. I remember reading your poem "Dream" that is one dream we should all hope to manifest in our lives. Wendy, I want to take a moment to thank you for all your support. You leave such lovely comments they make me smile.

    Thanks for another great interview Sherry.

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    1. My pleasure, my friend. I love my job. It is a privilege to bring these features to you all.

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  4. Your conversation is as quotable as your poems, women of hope:
    "But while, the latest “horror” is laid before us, each news cycle …. it IS laid before us, and I think that the human consciousness is growing." "
    And maybe there will be a rainbow."

    Thank you both.

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  5. Thank you both for such an insightful interview and excellent poems Wendy and Sherry. It saddens me so much to see the Earth raped and pillaged for profit with no thought of the future as though one life is enough so long as a profit is made. And these people have children themselves whose future will be the same as our own children whether they have money in the bank or not...but for them it may not happen regardless of the warning signs. Last year was one of warmest on record...but thats OK, just have fun at the beach while the world dies.

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  6. It's always a pleasure to visit your blog Wendy and to read your comments. You have the gift of turning simple pleasures into magic and also conveying wisdom about those unfair parts of life... I think there will be a rainbow at the end.. Thank you both 🌈

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    1. Thank you all. I do believe that the way out of this very troubling place that we have come to, is in finding the magic in simple pleasures. For so many centuries, the vast majority of people on this planet did not have any sense of entitlement – or even any expectation beyond – at best – surviving. To survive, with a bit of comfort and a bit of beauty WAS a beautiful life.

      The ugly side of entitlement (the many ugly aspects of consumerism and materialism and wealth-for-wealth’s-sake) is now, banging at our information-and-social-media doors. I hope and pray that these difficult times, we find ourselves in, are a wake-up call and that one-by-one humankind begins to take a thoughtful step back.

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    2. I think that is a bit of wisdom, Wendy,....to find those moments of beauty and connection. I now limit the news I watch, the better to preserve a positive mental state. Smiles. Thank you again for this wonderful chat.

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  7. So wonderful to see your chat both Sherry and Wendy! Hank from Rainbow here! Yes, rainbow fascinates me, the reason its Hank's blog title. So also your poem Wendy, Rainbow never can be forgotten!

    Hank

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  8. Very lovely writing! Great interview :)

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  9. As I read this great conversation I felt truly enriched. Such gems of words used by both of you uplift the heart, Wendy and Sherry. I love this positive attitude to life, and to live with a vision and hope for humanity. What more could one want when that is expressed in beautiful words of poetry. Love the poem Rainbow.
    "It is a world of peace and beauty / and, the thing is, / it is available right now, / if humanity wants it.", Sherry how I love these lines from your "Dream"...
    Thank you ladies :)

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  10. Very nice interview and some beautiful and thoughtful reflections and poems. Thank you Sherry for letting us get to know Wendy better and Wendy for sharing yourself with us...bkm

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  11. Wonderful article, Sherry and Wendy!! Two of my favorite 'West Coasters,' and Wendy, your poetry always makes me think!!

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  12. Sherry and Wendy, thank you both very much for this enlightening interview-absolute pleasure reading the beautiful poems.. :)

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  13. Maybe There Will Be A Rainbow is wonderful!!! Life isn't fair and I feel the same way Sherry and Wendy! I'm struggling to keep up with writing lately so this poem came along during one of "those times" I'm having in my life. Add to that the stuff that's happening in this world...by now I thought we would have done so much...and all we're doing is backsliding! Loved all of the poems they rang true and made me think. Thank you for the interesting post, friendships, and poetry-much love!

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    1. It is the going backwards thing that sparked our chat, kiddo, as we were demoralized over the political situation down your way...........hoping for the best for you. I know Americans are good people, and they will stand up against the negatives to come. It is just hard to see so much progress made, then the threat of it all being undone. Sigh. We wanted to offer some hope, which comes from human beings living from their good hearts, no matter what else is going on.........lovely to see you here, keep coming back!

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  14. What a wonderful chat...and I loved the poetry Wendy especially, Maybe There Will Be A Rainbow.

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  15. what a beautiful conversation between such special women. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I am with you both in heart and spirit. I feel so fortunate to know people like you. This year I want to focus on gratitude and this is one place where my challenge is so easy.

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  16. Lovely reflections, both poetic and conversational. Thank you both. I enjoyed the photos too.

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  17. Thanks Sherry and Wendy. Wendy I love these rainbow metaphor. It takes my mind straight to the scriptures. The promise. The covenant.

    Much love...

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