Monday, January 15, 2018

BLOG OF THE WEEK ~ AN UPDATE WITH DE JACKSON

We continue the new year on a high note, my friends, as we catch up with De Jackson, who writes at Whimsygizmo's Blog. De's poems were on fire as the old year drew to a close, and we are looking forward to chatting about what has her firing on all cylinders. De is sharing with us her moving poem and thoughts about the tragic shooting in Vegas in October. You won't want to miss it.






Sherry: It has been a while since we caught up with you, De. What have you been up to? Anything new since we talked to you in 2015?

De: Hi, Sherry! I’m so happy to be here, and humbled by the opportunity to share again. Not too much has changed in my world. I’m still parenting teens, still poeming often, publishing here and there, doing some freelance ad copywriting on the side, and still longing for water. I’m a desert-trapped mermaid, you know.
 
Sherry: I remember that feeling very well! I noted on facebook you made your annual trip to Tahoe this summer. It looked like you had a marvelous time. Any highlights?

De: Yes! We’re blessed to have family in North Lake Tahoe, so we go up for most of July each year, and again at Thanksgiving and Spring Break. It’s my favorite place on the planet. I swear my soul lives there; I just visit her a couple of times a year. My favorite thing is kayaking on all that blue. There’s nothing like Tahoe blue.






Sherry: And nothing like being on or near the water. Also on facebook we can see that your kids are growing up beautifully. What grades are they in now?






De: Our daughter Abby is a freshman, and our son is a sophomore. It’s crazy. I feel like we’re on the downhill slide to an empty nest. These are tough years, for sure, but they really are amazing kids. Zack is an adventurer and animal lover, with a passion for running toward all those creatures other people run away from – snakes, scorpions, spiders, you name it. Someday he’s going to find an incredible way to tell the world how wonderful all of God’s creation is, even the scary, spiny, scaly things.

Abby is a creative soul, an artist, who has also discovered a passion for volleyball in the past year or so. She’s got tons of energy, bouncy-bouncy, fun-fun-fun. 

Abby's art


Zack can sway a little more toward the negative side, so basically I live with Tigger and Pooh. Me, I’m sort of a cross between nervous Rabbit and pondering Pooh. My hubby, of course, is the wise old Owl.

Sherry: LOL. I love the character descriptions of the family. And how is the adorable Kiera-Kai? And your Phantom Samurai?





De: Kiera-Kai is a hot mess of a furry baby. She’s got just enough terrier in her to be a holy terror, and just enough Chihuahua to be neurotic. But she loves me with her whole, whole heart and I adore her. 






Phantom, on the other hand, is my daughter’s cat, and might just be the one animal on the planet that doesn’t like me. Most of the time, I’m like Snow White – birds coming my way, bunnies crossing my path. That cat avoids me like the plague. It’s bizarre. Also, he’s huge. 16 pounds of mostly fluff. We do love him.





Art by Abby


Sherry: Abby's art is wonderful, De. This reminded me of how moved I was by your poem of love for your city, in the week after the terrible attack in October. I would love to include it here, if I may.


FOR MY CITY, AS IT'S FALLING


My City is aching.
It’s taking one breath
at a time, holding love
at center and knowing
……………..it’s enough.
My City is reeling,
kneeling. Begging for healing
and a glimpse of
something that just
might be Light.
………………………..We fight.
Name us: Grace,
hummed hope.






Sherry: This goes straight to the heart, De. Hope rising, in a time of darkness. Love, standing strong, against hatred. Thank you.

De: Here is what I wrote about it, when I wrote the poem: 

This is the first thing I have written in more than a week. Last Sunday night, October 1st, something unimaginable happened here in Las Vegas. My kids’ school, our church and our little Henderson community have been significantly impacted. But in the past 8 days, I have watched my city come together in miraculous ways. Blood bank lines wrapped around the corner. Our churches reaching out to victims and their families, first responders and hospitals and their families, and anyone affected by that terrible night. A memorial park built in just four days. People are visiting the Strip to look at crosses. We have mourned and we have prayed. We are still mourning, and still praying. But there is always, always hope.
  
On the night of October 1, 2017, a single gunman opened fire on the Route 91 concert venue on the Strip. At least 58 people were killed, and hundreds more were injured. Our city is still  reeling and healing from this ordeal. But it’s really been an amazing thing to watch “Sin City” come together with so much community spirit, generosity and hope. I still wear my “Vegas Strong” bracelet almost every day. I still cry about it, often. I have not been emotionally ready to visit the memorial park just yet, but I will. There’s a reason we have deemed this “Grace City,” (Where sin abounds, Grace abounds much more…Romans 5:20) and it’s been an awesome thing to watch. 




Sherry: I love that quote: Grace abounds. It is at such times that humans rise up, being the best we can be, refusing to let the darkness win. Thank you for your beautiful words, in dealing with such a tragedy, De. The two sides of humanity: dark and light. We have to believe that light is stronger.

I was noticing all through last fall that your pen seemed to be on fire. I read so many of your poems with awe, with the comment “Wow!” at the end. Have you been feeling that surge? 

De: Thanks so much for the generous comment. I finished the Poetic Asides November Chapbook challenge, which is a ton of fun, but also a little relentless. I always come out of it a bit dazed, like walking out of a dark theatre after hours and hours spent in another world. I did feel a bit of a surge for a while there, after a dry spell. It’s funny how it all comes and goes, an energy source all its own.

Sherry: Let's look at a few of your poems, shall we? And you can tell us a bit about how each one came to be?


MOON MOTHER



she’s a sweet old golden
grandmother in an embroidered jacket,
all pale blond pigtails and plush mouth
plumped for kisses.
teacher of all things
celestial and falling.
she’s the penny you saved,
the drop of water earned.
the thumbprint of some
bandit, stealing sky.
the momentum of a star,
and the drag of it.
a seventh sister,
shining;
that sixteenth candle,
still lit.
My amazing poet friend Shawna makes these incredible word lists. This is what one of them wanted to be. I write of the moon often, and love looking at her in different ways.



PRE-AMBLE


{What Came Before}
First things first, I’ma say all the words inside my head…
– Imagine Dragons
She breathes fire
and wonders why the world
burns so. In the beginning
was the word, and she kerned
herself sane, scribbled between
the (starting) lines
and found herself
changed.
Did she dance? You’ll have to look
back to see. See, she’s a wily one
and follows only moon,
and sky. Ask her why,
she’ll tell you it’s the amble
before the journey that matters,
that scatters you to breeze and
asks the world where the tiny
parachutes of hope should fly. Blow
a dandelion and keep those
fuzzy kites in sight; they know
things. And if you follow them
just right, the day might
sing. 

Sherry: My goodness, I love the way you put words together! I'm enjoying the photos very much, too.
De: This was one of my November chapbook poem a day poems. I love the idea of breathing fire, and that dandelion fluff sneaks into a poem at least once a month. Man, I love that stuff. The stuff of wishes, possibilities. Sometimes I do think the things that come before the real battle are what it’s all about. The preparation. The quiet moment when you steel your look, and get ready to scatter your song. I guess this poem is kind of about that. And I loves me some Imagine Dragons.

IF THE EARTH STANDS STILL, 
I WILL KNOW NO MORE THAN THIS   


There is really nothing you must be and there is nothing you must do. There is really nothing you must have and there is nothing you must know. There is really nothing you must become. However, it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet. – Zen saying
The sky reigns with a crown
of fallen stars and shattered
silence. Sorrow and hope
both float. Build fewer walls,
more bridges. Temper doubt
with breeze, and sunlight. A
lick of fire. A thirst for rain.

 Sherry: Fewer walls, more bridges, a recipe for coming together. Wonderful, De!
De: This was for a Poetics prompt over at dVerse  prompted by the word “reign.” I love that Zen quote, and it just kind of spilled out from there.

Sherry: This next one just knocked me out. The strength of your words resonates well with the recent "Me, too" movement of women everywhere, voices raised in resistance to male abuse of power and privilege.





THROWING STONES AT WAYWARD THRONES

We are the princesses of ice
and fire and fog and fluff. We have
had enough of your glass
…………(ceilings)slippers
and your velvet chairs
not meant for sitting
and your golden stair
demands of our locks. Your frocks
of silk and satin and lace
have no place here. Our legs
are bare and our feet
are filthy, mudluscious in
their river
beds.
We pebble stories and we
crown our heads in only daisies
and sunlight, fairy kisses and
the bright bright embrace
of moon. We swoon
for only breeze, the whisper
of trees on our un-noosed
necks; our un
-bodiced bodies sway
with delight at the sight
of our ink-smudged cheeks
and our mussed hair.
If you dare
to join us, take off
your fussy shoes
and your bruised ego
and your high-horse haught.
And that dragon
you think you’ve caught?
……………….Bring him.
Now he knows how to dance.
This one was prompted by the delightful Miz Quicklywho prompts when she pleases and gave us the word “chair.” I started thinking about thrones, and the kind of throne I would want (somewhere off in nature, obviously) and the kind of princess I’d want to be. One who’s allowed to get dirty, for sure. One who could bare her feet and her soul. And play with the dragon. I’ve always been much more deeply enamored of the dragons than the princes. I’m so happy to be living – and raising a daughter – in a world where women can wield their own swords, and choose their own battles.

Sherry: Well-said, De. This poem makes me deeply happy.

Do you have any plans for your writing in the months ahead? Do you have a routine for writing, or do you write at random moments, sandwiched between life’s tasks? 

De: After November’s big poem fest (and feast), I am actually looking forward to breathing a little. Writing every couple of days, perhaps. Engaging more with the three-dimensional people. ;) Getting outside more. 



I would love to say, for the one millionth time, that I will be trying to get a chapbook published. But truth be told, the left side of my brain (organization, administration, etc.) is actually missing, and I’ve just sort of come to accept that. It’s gonna take either a miracle or a big kick in the pants for me to actually move forward the way I need to. So I just keep writing down the pretty words as they come.

I do have a writing routine, sort of. Once I get the kids off to school, I usually try to go for a short run or walk, depending on my mood, then settle in for some writing time. I usually try to chew on a prompt while I’m out moving, and then come back home and get something down. Life gets in the way lots of days, of course, but the page always calls.

Right now I’m mostly working at our dining room table, since it’s right in the middle of all the action and allows me to sit and write for a few minutes at any point in time. My “office” has sort of become an overcrowded artistic room, now shared by my daughter. I have a dream office design in my brain, with a big comfy chair and lots of blue and twinkle lights. Maybe someday. Right now we have teens. We can’t have nice things. ;)

Sherry: Two beautiful teens is a great trade-off. Smiles. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

De: Just that I’m thankful to be here. I don’t get over here as often as I should, to this amazing community of astonishing poets. You all inspire, challenge and humble me. Even for an uber-introvert like me, writing can be a lonely thing. Engaging in places like Poets United is like coming home.

Sherry: We are always happy to see you whenever you stop by. And we'd like to thank you, De, for sticking with us through the years. It means a lot to us.


Isn't she wonderful, my friends? I am grateful to have revisited the events in Vegas, through De's words. Our media culture is such that one tragedy replaces another, day after day. It is necessary to remember events which changed so many lives.

Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Poetry Pantry #386

After lengthy rain breaks the clouds over the peaks of Gran Paradiso....Italy

Greetings, Poets!  Hope everyone had a good (and poetic) week.  We are in the middle of a cold streak here.  Brrrrrr.  Great weather to stay inside and write or read some poetry.

Many of you joined us in writing Poetry About the Body for Sumana's Midweek Motif! Who would have thought there was so much to say about something we so often take for granted.  Come back next Wednesday when Susan will prompt us to write about Psyche / Soul.

Friday Rosemary presented a most interesting poem for her Thought Provokers series.  She featured a poem by Aussie poet Robin Archbold called "I Don't Write a Political Poem, Okay?" It is worth a read!  And a thought.

Monday's interview is a wonderful catch-up with a very talented and original poet who posts here off and on.  I know you will know her!!  Perhaps we can convince her to share her poetry here more often.  Smiles. Stay tuned.

Now without delay, let's share poetry!  Link your poem below.  Then make the rounds visiting the poems of others who have shared.  See you on the trail.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thought Provokers

I Won’t Write a Political Poem, Okay?

I won’t write a political poem
okay?
I mean there are enough people doing that already
and I’m old and it’s a young person’s thing
and I don’t wear the bling of opinion as brightly as I used to
maybe the fires don’t burn as strong and the songs don’t sing as long as they used to
I’m happier writing about the quirky little peccadilloes of the human condition rather than waging a war of attrition on what’s left of my sensibilities and the indispensabilities of what I consider right and wrong
so don’t get me started
okay?

I won’t write a political poem
‘cause I’ve studied history and herstory seems to be the way we should have travelled
because the whole thing unravelled when men decided to run the show
and all the world’s major religions are run by bros who thumb their nose at the sisters
treat them like hoes and so it goes and so it goes and so it goes
around and around and around until we end up with an aggro misogynist clown who calls himself Minister for Women and rips off old people and single mothers and kicks the unemployed when they’re down
so don’t get me started okay?

I mean I shouldn’t have to write a political poem because we had flower power and love-ins and Vietnam moratoriums and Gough Whitlam and Germaine Greer and the Berlin Wall fell but still we plunge to hell in a handcart as the world gets hot under the collar as we follow the dollar until it disappears up the arse of some wallah who’s bought a government that governs for the class of the wallah up whose arse the dollar disappears so don’t get me started okay?

I mean I if I wrote a political poem I’d probably lose it over people with power who choose to abuse it and confuse accountancy with accountability while they rort the system and sell their souls for gas and coal and the whole world starts to burn as we get turned on a spit ‘cause I give a shit about climate change and the Great Barrier Grief and refugees
and I don’t agree that it’s okay for our government to give billions of dollars a year in subsidies to the most profitable mining industry in the world while one in five Australian children live below the poverty line
that ain’t fine with me

Well
I guess I got started
and this is a political poem
okay?

© Robin Archbold 2015


And what a beauty it is! It pretty much covers everything, in the Australian context anyway. Do I need to tell you that Robin Archbold (affectionately known as 'Archie') is a 'spoken word' poet and this piece is meant to be read aloud? I'm sure you can tell. Do try reading it aloud for yourself and listening to the helter-skelter flow, the rappy rhyming, and the sheer, belligerent defiance of that last 'okay?'

I notice that sometimes very Aussie poems don't go across very well here, to people who don't have the same background. We think we all speak English, but there are big differences! It's sometimes hard for me to tell, because I live here and grew up with this way of using the language. You know the saying about fish – that they don't know there's water, because they're swimming in it? In the same way, I don't always know that particular words and phrases are peculiar to Australia. They seem normal to me; I'm swimming in them.

But it looks to me as if this poem will translate well.


I'll just explain, for those who don't know, that it was our former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who appointed himself Minister for Women, and was later the subject of Julia Gillard's famous 'misogyny' speech when she was Prime Minister.

This poem, as you see, was written some little time ago – but sadly, although our Prime Minister has changed, is still far too relevant. So this is a political post, OK?

Sometimes we find the state of the world too much, and want to turn our attention instead to what beauty and optimism we can find. Sometimes we NEED to do that, to avoid despair ... or just because we're tired. And sometimes it's needful to confront what's going on, give it some thought, and make a choice to protest it.

Robin Archbold and I met at a memorable perfomance event near Byron Bay, for the 70th birthday of our mutual friend (now the late) Daevid Allen. It was a great night, with some wild and wonderful poetry and music.  We've remained in touch on facebook, and I've followed his career (already thriving then, and continuing to develop) into academia and prose writing – with no loss of poetry. 

If you Google him, you'll find all manner of interesting articles and videos.

His biography says:

Robin Archbold is the first performer to have won both the Woodford Folk Festival Poetry Slam and the Storytelling Award. The only other is David Hallett. Robin, or Archie as he’s widely known, is a multi-festival feature performer, workshop presenter, co-founder of the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup in 2003, and founder of Sunshine Coast Spoken Word in 2013.  He’s performed at venues from the Sydney Theatre Company to the Gympie Muster Poets’ Breakfast where he disrobed in front of a 1000 strong crowd—a first and a last in a single unpantsing. He has a Creative Writing Degree from the University of the Sunshine Coast, where he is a sessional academic, and he’s halfway through a ridiculously long debut novel. He’s published three books of poetry and stories, Small enormous Things in 2007, and Basic Human Writes and The Storyteller’s Tales in 2014.

(The Gympie Music Muster is a well-known outdoor country music and camping festival in Queensland. Check the link for more details.)


Material shared in “Thought Provokers’ is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.