Thursday, July 2, 2020

Lucette Bernard, Mark Creaven


                            by Lucette Bernard

I want to go driving again,

just me, my car and the dashed

white lines on a two-lane road.

I want to see everything open before me:

the air rushing at my windshield,

woods and fields and towns passing

in a joyous blur, all four windows down

and reggae music turned up loud enough

to carry my voice all the way to Jamaica.


Once, years ago, I took the curves

of the Blue Ridge Parkway

on faith, Bob Marley’s three little birds

winging my way through patches

of sun and shade and bending me round

narrow passes where mountain springs trickled pure and true

down gray rock faces. Don’t worry,

don’t worry,

don’t worry ‘bout a thing, I sang

while pink and purple rhododendron

lit up either side of the road, rain damp

balsam blew in through the window,

and blue mountain vistas fell away

from every overlook. I remember stopping

to take it all in, let it all out again,

spread my arms, my hands

wide to the wind, Is this love,

is this love, is this love that I’m feelin’?


I want to drive like that again.


I want to feel like that again,

the way it comes at you, the wind,

the world, and all that possibility

blowing through the air. And me?

I’m singing. Singing at the top of my lungs,

singing and floating

into the natural mystic,

knowing things are not the way

they used to be but believing,

believing with all I’ve got,

that every little thing gonna be all right.


                                                                June 25, 2020

                        by Mark Creaven

My sergeant was named Bradford.
A tall strong man.
A black man.
Once, he told me how
His platoon had been
Caught in an L shaped ambush
Had they stayed in place
They would have been shredded.
But he heard the subtle sound of
An enemy’s heavy machine gun jam.
It was a hollow quiet
From the lack of bullet spray.
He charged that position
Firing all the way
They killed their way
 through the line
And he lived.
Wondering now how he survives
in today’s world.
Strength and courage
Cannot overcome the blind
Rejection of a man simply for his
Skin. What good is it to be a gentle
Giant mean mother fucker
When any peckerwood

Can obscenely reject this good man.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Sylvia's collage poem: Small Town Texas Protest -- with the photos!

Small Town Protest with Collage

These come, then, with their signs, too many to choose best from. 

They’re ready, already, after a long wait for a way to protest here on the town square with its fountain, its man on a horse.  There’s no public transit to the cities, not like when the old folk were young, could take off to where things happen, back when cars and gas were cheap if you didn’t want to take the bus.  Lots of jobs.  Cheap rent.  Education.

Are they Generation Z already?  Then we start over?  Or what? They’re it?  Last chance?

Pick any one you want to remember, then.  Let it be the writing on the cardboard wall of your mind.  A hopeful sign from one of these grand children:

Black Lives Matter
He called Mama
No More KKKiller Cops
Back Justice
Love Mercy
Walk Humbly
Stay Pissed

My black family and friends
deserve to be as respected as I am.
I’m not black
but I see you.
I’m not black
but I hear you.
I’m not black
but |I will
Stand by you.

They stand politely in Sunday summer heat, among them tech-savvy savants who even so made these humbly lettered signs on pieces of cardboard, … nothing purchased, nothing slick --  No Sticks!  They stand modestly through all the malarkey of small town southern plantation culture [ersatz Christian] assembly void of anarchist urbanity, nothing boughten brought along but new black tee-shirts on young black men who pulled this together as best they could, having never done anything like this in their lives, so that something could be said to have been said, here, in their own place --  to come together with blessings of all appropriate, if need be; to appropriate, for once, in need indeed, their own home-town King’s X.

Sylvia Manning
Seguin, Texas
June 16, 2020

after June 7, 2020

This from nearest town, New Braunfels
The young men who pulled it together.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Some of the poems we read June 10, 2020

So here we are, and here are some of the poems we heard in response to the take-away challenge to write a sestina or something relating to an old adage.  Adrien managed to do both in the same poem.  So hers is first, right below our group picture where you can check our names in the Zoom zoo.

1.  Adrien Helm's sestina with the old adage as title, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”
                                                            Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr 1849

The more things change the more they stay the same.
Shackled in place forever there to stay,
Since 1619 when trans shipped here they
Were locked away from freedom’s change,
Cut off, deprived, of life’s abundant things.
No wonder they cannot but speak of more.

Our greedy forebears drove for more and more
Seeing the “other,” black or red, the same
Rapacious in their hunger for more things
Land and goods, restless push to stay
Away from stasis, always toward change.
The status quo, “enough,“ unknown to them. (sic)

So enslaved built the towns and homesteads they
Established and grew to prosper more and more.
Presence of abundant rich land meant change;
The continent’s face was never the same,
And indigenous folks could never stay
With whites who plundered and coveted things.

Industrialization soon drove things
With cheap labor away from farms, so they
Prospered a new way, and they didn’t stay
With slavery’s “institution” anymore.
The Southern economy stayed the same
And even unto civil war resisted change.

Civil War, our costliest, did bring change
Blacks were no longer chattel, things.
But reality was lived much the same
Their labor was leased for petty “crimes” and they
Were slaves by another name, and what’s more
In poverty, and ignorance they’d stay.

From this and Jim Crow they fled north to stay,
But racist urban life was little change
As institutions only promised more
And didn’t deliver any of those things
That would assure the fulsome life, that they
As human beings deserved just the same.

People protest to say they are not “things.”
With diverse allies make this adage change:
The more things change the more they stay the same.

                                                              AWH 6/10/2020

2.  Moira Coleen's poem for change

Grace is in 
The windy blue of skye
Cloud of Angels wing
Sweeps the earth
In rising retreat becomes 
The crocodile
Lolling for a belly scratch

                             Moira Coleen O’Neill

3.  Lucette's poem about chance, not change


Speeding down
the hills of that town
on her blue Schwinn
no hands
she once believed that
due to her consummate
balance and in no small
part her youth
she was in complete control
of the bike
of the street
of her larger than
and couldn’t imagine that
one future day
balance impaired
control ceded
to those stronger
and younger
she would clutch those
handlebars with both hands
choose only the safer
streets and hang on
as if her shrunk
down life was worth
the caution

                                      Lucette Bernard
                                        June 9, 2020


4.  Another sestina, Sylvia's, but not to an adage

Sestina for a Father and Son

Ángel (AHN hell, really)
pushing his son whose name
is Máximo, his middle child,
still only two years old,
past a Black Lives Matter sign
across the street, then into the shade

over the play car, ready for shade
after all those police cars – really
more than needed, a glaring sign
funds are to the max (to play on a name) --
so many of them in their old
parking lot -- they’ve another now, new – child

of only two even older than it, boy child
born brown, not black, but shade
protects him from being darker, old
hope of Mexican parents, really
not a hope of his own he would name,
Angel, but the times are a sign

or his neighbor wouldn’t have that sign
in yard across from him and his brown child,
brother to Katia and Belén by name,
one older, one a baby, inside now in shade
of their mother Miranda’s love, really
their grand protection, even until they’re old.

But just today, past police cars in the old
parking lot – as if it were a sign
that all is well, and beautiful, really –
Angel’s pushing son Máximo, their child,
past the glare of the day into shade
now, into green space without a name

in his little car, little son whose name
resembles Maximilian’s, that kindly old
French ruler who died in Chapultepec shade
because he couldn’t read the sign –
assuming he was fine, like a child –
that he would be permitted to escape, really.

No, there’s shade for a son whose name
is Máximo, really, not that old
Emperor’s.  A good sign, this passage with his child.

                                                                        Sylvia Manning

                                                                                June 8, 2020

5.  from Kathryn Kyker

Learning to See    

We puzzled over   
that John Denver lyric, profound
philosophy at 13, silent agreement
—not to ask any other —
just wait to see.

When did we know we knew? Being lost in the woods
blinds you to essential truths:
how love can’t cure madness—
how you can’t love a child happy—
how myopic understanding needs a wide lens to find the way out.

That first lesson comes in hard—love is not always enough but you love anyway.

Years later to see a lesson in the fruit we’ve borne, the lives
we’ve grown into, claimed as earned, our places taken—
ground held by ancestors—saving space, enriching the soil, shutting out others,
shepherding our shot—
an orchard of inequity.

Getting the best place in the sun is a race and we cooked the odds.

If we see only our tree
of rights, we miss a
forest of reality.
                                                                              Kathryn Kyker,  June 2020

6.  from Ellen Mass

Taming our Fame

Traveling along my earth path train
Down hills stunted with force and might
Everywhere in green forest, the same

I search for reason but in vain
Only muffled sounds come to heal my pain
There’s a future sing my birds, but only with humans’ name

Disease and sickness falls heavy like rain
We know not from where it came
Nor who to blame

Covid’s passing will leave the world in hard stain
We’ve devalued our species over and over again,
Death of so many -  how lame

There’s hommage to give - bow to remain
Through struggle, try to sustain.
Our honor and inclusion
 to regain
Ellen Mass

Shining Sow’s Ear

Have the grit to change those dying beliefs
To Better than they appear
The essence of goodness - that you hold dear
When agreed, our moral soul is the goal.
We often give slight to a beautiful sow’s ear
as disdained species, goveling and dirty that we fear
But really, her ear is soft and silky, 
If we Dare get near

Try to enhance what is rancid or stale
Try to elevate what is dull and pale
leave my lovely pig alone twitching its curled little tail.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Three Poems from Ellen

Ellen chose this photo to be alongside her poems.
If only it were a tiny mosquito
To smack and stop the poison

If only we hadn’t cut down the woods
Where creatures have their own pathogen make up

If only we didn’t steal their homes,
those cute things we draw, paint
photograph, 4 footed animals that now
give us a taste of  our thieves’ foodprint,
In sharing their molecular makeup with 2 footed ones --
to  deliver the pay-back that way, that we did not want.

If only this cerulean blue can continue its sky splendor
Showing so many colors of green and
Bedazzling flower and tree blossom 
So solid and reassuring,
We, so blinded from hazardous living.

If only our eyes would see what they see Enough,
to want the beauty we relish and STOP all:
 roll back the clock to a quieter time,

If only we believe the opportunity to retain this condition sits in front
When pollutant machines were invisible among us,
When sun and wind purified the children with a little gust
Into the Future. And our lungs weren’t impaired

If only we knew their species was our own.
And we must Co-exist in mindful kindness but alone,
With an eye towards sharing the universe
Surviving on the planet together

And nothing worse.

Ellen Mass is at right in center row.  Zoom meeting attendees.
                                       Ellen Mass

Nihilistic Beauty

Spring has Confounded Me
with its nihilistic beauty
Exploding in brilliant warmth and color
Flying cheerfully in the face of hidden horrors,
in tenement buildings, nursing homes, factories,
ware houses, plants, prisons, migration shelters.
Spring green so perfect
Every leaf, fir needle, pine cone, squirrel and bird,
Mocking the human species for its inability
To adapt
And love them equally.
      not being grateful for kindly nature,
Only we try to please,
      To crave and hoard more ease
In place of restorative re-birth,
       living deeply on earth.

                                       Ellen Mass

Letting Go

After the grim reaper left us,
We sequester with less life of our own, aware, afraid.
Dreams dashed. We Let Go of past to see bleakness ahead.
Then hope of glowing inner spirit 
Cling to an open field with no horizons
Alive with life force
Return again 
Where love flows 
We animals will continue

Ellen Mass

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Two poems from Jeany Morris

"These words, amid viruses.  So, love 'n all that," Jeany 
Jeany Morris

A Child's Memory

Do you also remember?

May Day baskets woven from scraps
from Mama's sewing basket?
Scraps from school drawing class found in sweater pockets?
And fresh flowers, all soil damp, squeezed into a basket woven from strips of construction paper,
yesterday's newspaper, glue leaking all over?

Then running to a neighbor you have always loved,
knocking on her door, leaving the basket for her?

Remember how she lifted her arms, smiled, so pleased,
wondering who left this May Day basket for her?

Remember skipping down a dirt path going home to Mama,
standing on the porch smiling waving to her neighborhood friend?

Remember?  Remember it all?  Holding this in your heart?
Your May Day heart?



Can you tell me what is versimilitude?
Can you describe to me what is versimilitude?
Why so many 'i's?
Will it dissolve within drops of rain?
I'd like to cuddle with it, add my 'i' to its 'i's.

That's how.