Response to “Waiting”

The beautiful and brilliant Nikki Grimes wrote the following poem today:

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While I know it was not about me, it hit home so hard.  Hard.  After crying, I put my warrior pen in hand and wrote this response:

Julie no longer plays into the big hand,
     The heavy hand, the upper hand,
The hand that silences, shames, smacks.

She used to plead, “Pick me! Pick Me!”
     In a rush, she’d cast her heart into pools of abandonment—

Pearls to swine, like clockwork.

They could count on her to bear the secrets,
     The stains, the scarlet paragraphs and

Chapters that chronicled cries and crises.

But in the hour of need, past half the darkness
     The second hand clicked into place. . .

Safe hands and second chances surfaced.

This is her day in the sun. Love won.
     Flourishing, fostering freedom and hope,

Counting on truth—not time—to heal her wounds.

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Dr. King Reminder

On this fourth day of NaPoWriMo I felt compelled to nod to Maya Angelou (it would have been her 90th birthday) and to acknowledge the atrocious assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (50 years ago).  I decided to write a Golden Shovel poem using three lines from Maya Angelou’s poem “Abundant Faith.”

These times of born again fear
Remind us that justice is not
Yet available for all.  We’ve
Witnessed brutality as our brothers come
Under fire—happens to our sisters too.

Hasn’t this gone too far?
Fifty years ago Dr. King reminded us to
Persevere, “We aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn
Us around.”  We shall not wallow in despair.  We must go back
To that Dream. We
Must go back to the truths that are
Self-evident. It is time for equity. We shall walk together, not
Alone. Free and empowered—no longer afraid.

Brothers and sisters, your lives matter and
It is time to join hands as we
Sing together, work together, pray together. We shall
hear freedom ring and see love overcome.

 

After Words

 

Your radiant words—
Shiny, glowing, and full of promise—

Fool me not.

I have witnessed the way
Your warped lies wiggle

Like worms into dark soil.

You speak of liberty,
But captivating chatter rings hollow.

You are fluent in the language of the Oppressor.

Your rancid words—
Slimy, groping, and full of poison—

Fooled me before.

-Day Two of http://www.napowrimo.net

My Prayer for Today

When I woke up this morning, my eyes, ears, mind, and heart were filled with stories of the tragedy in Las Vegas. The emotional flooding began . . .

-Sadness about the loss of 50 lives.
-Grief for the families and friends of each of those people.
-Fear about the unleashed hatred that confronts us daily.
-Gratitude for the quick response of  law enforcement, emergency personnel, and civilians who worked quickly at the scene.
-Appreciation for those who have already stepped up to give blood and help save lives.
-Disgust with the human condition and that the shooter’s anger/rage/fear/unknown was     big enough to visibly harm over 200 people, and non-visibly harm a band, and city, a         plethora a families, a state, a nation, and then some.
-Amazement at how quickly this news spread across the nation and to other nations.
-Exhaustion from listening to the internal voices asking “What can we do? What can we do? What can we do?”

Needless to say, I started thinking about how our world needs more empathy, more grace, more love.  What does that look like? How do I do that?

The news told of a young concert-goer who had witnessed M______ D_______ shouting, “You’re all going to die tonight” 45 minutes prior to the shooting. She was led out of the concert because she was disruptive.  This gave me pause.  Was this her last act of desperation? Could things have gone differently if someone had heard her? Obviously, someone heard her, as her quote can be found all over the news. What I mean is could things have gone differently if someone had actually listened to her? What if as she was being escorted out somebody asked “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could the shooter have been stopped? Minutes beforehand? Days beforehand? Weeks ago?  What if someone had really listened to him months ago and responded with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?” Could we have gotten help for him?

I understand that this cannot undo the damage that has been done. There’s been a lot of damage. Lives have been lost. We must grieve.  I’m just thinking that as I move forward, as I grow, as I try to love fearlessly, that maybe I need to listen more courageously.  Not ignoring. Not hoping someone else will deal with it.  Not writing it off because it’s not my problem, but fearlessly asking the questions. Listening.  People who are hurting do not usually do the most drastic thing first.  Acts of desperation come from smaller pain that escalates. Sometimes the signs are there beforehand.  Sometimes it’s just a whisper.  Ignored whispers become screams.  Ignored screams become acts of desperation. What would happen if I listen when people are indicating pain?

When someone is talking about depression, or suicide, can I make a difference if I were to respond with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is talking about anger, and wanting to inflict violence can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When a nation of people are demonstrating their pain, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is hinting about abuse/violence/neglect in their own home, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could I make a difference if I just listened?

Lord, help me to listen to others.  Help me to respond to other people’s hearts when it is early enough to hear, to understand, to help.  Help me to be brave enough to ask difficult questions, to be there for others, to respond and help before their pain becomes “too big.” Help me to listen to people when they are whispering for help so that they don’t have to scream for help.  Lord, help me to intercede and intervene (or at least just listen) before another person’s pain escalates into an act of desperation.

Lord, surround me with others who will also listen.  When I am struggling, let me be near another who will hear me.  When my pain becomes “too big” and I am on the path toward  a bad decision, self-harm, or any other act of desperation, place people in my life who love fearlessly. People who will ask tough questions. People who will listen.

Lord, help me to be brave. Hope and healing happen in the light.   Topics like shootings, domestic violence, suicide, substance abuse, racism, hatred, sexual assault, and fear must be talked about—in the Light. We can not heal if we turn our faces away from these things. Help me to courageously speak up for humanity.  More importantly, help me to LISTEN to humanity. Help me to listen and respond when it is just a whisper. Help me to listen and respond when I hear a scream. Help me to listen and respond before it becomes an act of desperation.

Speak Up for Puerto Rico – Part 2

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I woke up this morning and enjoyed a cup of coffee as I sat on my dry couch. When I looked up at the ceiling, I spotted a cobweb, and thought “I’ll clean that up right after I post this on social media.” I intend to call my sister today, because I haven’t talked to her for a few days. I have enough fuel to drive to see her in person if I want to. Before I go anywhere, I will shower in clean water, put on dry clothes, and drink some pure refreshing water. I might even eat some breakfast.

Today, the woman in the photo could only do one of the things that I listed. She woke up. 7 days ago Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, destroying the island. This is what she has woken up to each day since.  Each day gets worse. There is no electrical power.  Hospitals are shutting down.  Food is spoiling.  Farms were obliterated by the storms, so there will be no fresh food. There is no clean drinking water. Despair is growing.  Yes, the woman woke up today, but will she wake up tomorrow? What about the other 3 million American citizens who are trapped on the island?

#SpeakUpForPuertoRico – This is a “Major Disaster” and it must be declared a Major Disaster by the US president before they will receive all the help that is available. So far, it has been approved as an “Emergency Declaration” which does provide assistance, but not enough. #BeAVoice #PuertoRico

Image from
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/22/puerto-rico-still-without-power-receives-aid-from-ny-delegation.html

Elfchen (Das Trio)

 

The prompt was to write a double elevenie, or Elfchen.  I chose to write 3 single Elfchens that are not related in any way.

 

Sommer-
Frische Luft
Eliminiert die Belastung
Jetzt kann ich atmen
Erneuerung

 

 

Grazia
Amore sacrificale
Elimina la vergogna
Asimmetrico, benevolo, e intenzionale
Libertà

 

 

Oprimido
Marginalizado agora
Além das fronteiras
Último será o primeiro
Afinal

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo.net  DAY 23  “Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.”

Choking Humanity

Today’s news, quietly screaming the ugly truth,
We are a completely broken humanity.

Hatred, violence, and political pretense
Are prowlin’ about provokin’ humanity.

The “bliss” of ignorance has become our disgrace
We’re the kiss of poison oak in humanity.

Change will not come unless we humbly face the facts —
Primary facts — and get woke in humanity.

Can I, Julie, help turn this Ship of Fools around?
I’ll use voice — with an outspoken humanity.

NaPoWriMo.net (Day 14) “Today’s is an oldie-but-a-goody: the ghazal. The form was originally developed in Arabic and Persian poetry, but has become increasingly used in English, after being popularized by poets including Agha Shahid Ali. A ghazal is formed of couplets, each of which is its own complete statement. Both lined of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end-word, and that end-word is also repeated at the end of each couplet. If you’re really feeling inspired, you can also attempt to incorporate internal rhymes and a reference to your own name in the final couplet.”

This writing prompt — writing a ghazal — after today’s events is necessary, critical,  and Timely.