Friday, September 13, 2019

Her Firstborn

I just re-read a book of short stories, Swim Back to Me, by Ann Packer, because I had noticed what I wrote down in my reading journal from the first time I read this book and wanted to revisit the whole experience. 

Such wonderful stories, linked by character or theme so that the book somehow holds together as...a whole. The first time, I was struck by certain things in the closing story, "Things Said or Done," about regrets. 

That story's title comes from a stanza of the Yeats poem "Vacillation."
Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.
Yes, I get that. And I was very moved and astonished by "Things Said and Done," particularly a woman's insight about what she did wrong in her marriage based on her upbringing: "I began picking at him over tiny annoyances--because the big annoyance, the fact that he wasn't paying enough attention to me, was too unreasonable for me to recognize at that point, let alone communicate. When I wasn't picking at him I was picking at the rest of mankind, going on and on about some slight, a minor social disappointment, an achievement inadequately rewarded. I was twenty-five, I thought it was just a matter of time before people shaped up and started acting as I wanted. Such is the lot of the narcissist's child, to inherit her parent's umbrage over the world's indifference." Well said. I won't say why.
But this time I was struck by something in the penultimate story, "Her Firstborn." A man is coming to understand something about his wife, who was married before. He's "had it all wrong: it isn't that Lise had a baby who died, but rather that she had a baby, who died." Yes, exactly.
Tonight I saw a lovely production of a lovely play, The Electric Baby, by Stefanie Zadravec, about a baby who glows like the moon...and about regrets. There's a woman picking at her husband in a troubled marriage. There's a young woman at the cradle of her firstborn.
This was the night of the full moon. This was a wonderful "random coinciday."

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Birds of a Feather


I’d been working on a poetry feature at Escape Into Life—of poems with birds in them—when the Audubon Society informed me, via Facebook, that we were coming up on National Wildlife Day, so why not celebrate with birds?! Happy National Wildlife Day! And Poetry Someday here in my blog. And Random Coinciday! (It’s fun to be blogging again!) (Where was I?!)(Oh, yeah.*)

Please enjoy Birds of a Feather: Poetry & Art at Escape Into Life! The flamingo painting you see here is by Ilya Zomb.

*I have been oddly busy in a number of different ways. I told you about walking in the Labor Day Parade, twice, and that was only this past Monday. Over the last few years, I have walked in many local parades and attended various meetings, vigils, rallies, and marches because OMG, I have to do something, right?! Writing poetry and submitting it got a little pushed to one side, but that’s started up again, as has my heart, and creativity pushed on me enough to put me back in a play or two. My body, again, had to do something.

Today I began walking the precinct again, collecting signatures (3) to run again as Democratic Precinct Committeeperson—to help get out the vote on March 17, 2020 and November 3, 2020. Hoping to help turn things around.

Back to birds of a feather. Birds of a bright yellow feather—goldfinches—are coming to eat the seedheads of my purple coneflowers! My husband, a painter, and I are birds of a feather, and he initially wanted to meet me as he sees poetry and painting as sister arts. He has art up in a show opening this weekend in St. Louis. It’s the Anew Exhibition at Intersect Arts Center, about healing from violence, opening September 7 and closing October 4, 2019. If you are near St. Louis during that time, I hope you can go see it!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Labor Day



Well, you may not be able to step in the same river twice, but, evidently, you can walk in the same Labor Day Parade twice! I walked with the McLean County Democrats, at the 16th position in the parade and, once we had reached our destination at Miller Park, walked back and joined McLean County Moms Demand Action, positioned as 60th in a parade of 90+ organizations, many of them, of course, labor unions!

It was great to walk back, twice, and see the carpenters, painters, letter carriers, theatrical stagehands, and other workers, along with lots of school bands! Congrats to all!

With the Moms, a nonpartisan group, I think I effectively masked my blue Democrat shirt with my orange “We Can End Gun Violence” sign, flip side, “Everytown USA.” Everytown USA is the umbrella organization for the various Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America chapters. With both groups, we encountered enthusiasm, thanks, and applause. Thanks for all your support at this crucial and sad time in America! Whatever your political party, you can vote for Gun Sense candidates, who support sensible gun safety legislation and who don’t take money from the NRA. Listen closely to what all candidates say on this issue if it’s one you care about. And I hope you do.

Today at Escape Into Life, we are celebrating Labor Day with poems with work, of all sorts, in them. And fantastic carpentry-oriented art by Drew Tyndall, one of our past EIL featured artists.

Happy Labor Day to you!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Spiritual Midwifery + Labor Day


I’m delighted that my new chapbook, Spiritual Midwifery, has come out from Red Bird on Labor Day weekend. It’s a pun, get it?! Really, some of the poems are actually about the birth of babies and some are about, in a way, the spirit laboring to be born.

The title poem is in honor of another book with the same title about actual midwifery, at a place called The Farm, where women could go have natural childbirth during a time in the USA when hospital labor & delivery were the norm. Midwives were prevented from doing their work during that time. Now there is a nice balance, with nurse midwives helping women throughout their pregnancies and with all kinds of childbirth experiences. I read that other Spiritual Midwifery to prepare me for the birth of my first child, for all the ways of going through labor, and for all the things that could go wrong as well as right. It helped keep me calm and breathing through natural childbirth with midwives in a hospital.

Labor Day is a celebration of the rights of workers, who need good wages, decent hours, and, importantly, time off! Poetry, as my fellow poets out there know, is a labor of love. And so often, it is also a labor of love for poetry book editors, designers, and publishers, who are unpaid or underpaid, just like the poets.  I’d love you to order my book straight from Red Bird Chapbooks as a way of honoring all that work and all those workers. And thank you!

This beautiful cover is based on a painting called Looking Back, by Tony Rio. Sorry, you can’t buy it. It belongs to me. It’s a little fragile, having come through a house fire, so it has some water damage that 1) adds to the smudged look and 2) has disconnected it from its frame, but a big thank you to those fire fighters, who got us safely through that experience some years ago. I’m glad I’ll be walking with and for all kinds of workers in the Labor Day Parade!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Make Someone Happy


It’s the first day of summer! It started sunny and lovely, and I swam first, then walked to work…and then walked home as the rain began. 

But, hey, they made us happy at work by celebrating with Dilly Bars, the perfect summer treat!

Recently, I made Karen Craigo happy with this review of her book Passing Through Humansville (Sundress Publications, 2018) over at Escape Into Life.

And I’ve been listening to various versions of “Make Someone Happy” from the musical Do Re Mi, music by Jule Styne, book by Garson Kanin, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. While I fondly remember hearing Jimmy Durante sing this song, today I am made happy by Audra McDonald.


Happy summer! And, yes, the day lilies are opening!