May I Help You?

Today William Shatner goes into space, for real.
The AP News reports,

“The four began strapping in for a morning launch from remote West Texas on a trip expected to last just 10 minutes, with the fully automated capsule set to reach an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers) before parachuting back to the desert floor.”

photo AP News

His crafty bargaining skills awarded him the typically $28 million dollar ticket for FREE. According to Business Insider, the price of Virgin Galactic’s $250,000 ticket to the edge of space includes a spacesuit. Passengers paying $55 million for SpaceX’s mission to the ISS get sleeping bags, hygiene products. However, Blue Origin’s $28 million spaceflights come with a seat next to Jeff Bezos. WOW. Is that better than a spacesuit? No it is not. Heck, I’d take the sleep bag over sitting next to that criminal.

Meanwhile…
The other day I called a computer security app regarding an unapproved charge to my account. I came in hot demanding a refund. The customer service person displayed the standard scripted kindness. There was a noticeable amount of noise in the background. As our conversation progressed I realized she was working from home and her child, a young toddler, was complaining in the background. Of course, I sympathized–with the child. I too have been complaining for many years about the increasing cost of goods and the lowering value of goods. The mother-service person apologized for the noise and muted her microphone when possible. As I began to calm down and sympathize with this mother working from home I realized the child to be a prophetess. Screaming out to all and any that would listen “This is wrong! All of this is wrong!” Also like a prophet speaking in smoke and mist, leaving out details so we have to do all that soul searching stuff. Thanks for nothing oh wise one.

The year of the prophet
America has painted itself into a corner. Next year I suspect the heat on the burner this pot rests on will be turned up. Here are a few of the predictions I’ve read about for 2022:
-the price of silver will go up. Invest NOW
-housing bubble will burst, SELL NOW
-the market will crash harder than it has in 100 years. SELL NOW
-cost of goods will increase due to record breaking inflation, start hoarding NOW
-the banks will fail next year, begin to keep cash at home NOW
-buy land NOW
-supply chain is disturbed, buy your holiday presents NOW

Can’t help myself–too funny!

One of the most inspiring predictions I’ve heard is a little whoo-whoo. As wild as it is, I must admit, I hope it is true. Perhaps you have also heard it? 2022 is the year of strong feminine energy.
According to various spiritualists, beginning in the year 2012, the planet started transitioning from male energy to female, into the Age of Aquarius. The age before the Age of Aquarius was the Age of Pisces. Since the earth is moving in retrograde motion, we have just left the Age of Pisces, which marked the years 1-2000 AD. During this stage we are like a toddler crying for attention, learning to crawl, then learning to walk. Slowly developing our strength and independence in this new environment. The male dominance will not leave happily. It appears to also be throwing a fit and determined to burn the barn before selling it to its rival. The feminine age that we are walking into day by day is an age of healing and nurturing. <<< This is what got my attention.
We all crave healing and a full life. Some situations are more life-threatening than other predicaments but mental anguish just the same. There is a groaning in the air. Friendship, creative energy, hope, and laughter are our only weapons. Personally I believe we are on the cusp of an Age of Enlightenment.

Here is a meme to describe how I am feeling today. I hope you have laughed today, at the very least a good hardy chuckle, even if it’s at my ideas. I can take the hit.

Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because
it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.”
Marcus Aurelius

Poetry Club Talks…Jane Hirshfield

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-6j5ys-10f6763

Topic: Jane Hirshfield
Host: Ron and Betty
Poem: “Optimism”, “Things Keep Sorting Themselves” and “A Blessing for Wedding”
Recorded: September 3, 2021

Jane Hirshfield Poems

JaneHirshfield_NickRozsa

Ron and Betty host the discussion on Jane Hirshfield’s poetry.  Ron shares these notes:

“In past meetings, we have discussed several theories of poetics, including
Zapruder, Poe, Wordsworth, Rilke, and others. Other theorists employ
explanation as to their primary technique. JH’s passage is representative of her entire book; it relies heavily on poetic technique to convey poetry’s special use of language, its intentions, and impact. Does her method clarify sufficiently, or, to use her term, does it “satisfy”?”

Touching on these topics, we select three of our favorite poems of Jane’s to discuss.  Join us for an exciting look into the poetry of Jane Hirshfield.

 

10_windows_780345806840827cr.jpg

To learn more about her new book and to purchase a copy, please visit this site:

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/229023/ten-windows-by-jane-hirshfield/

 

Poetry Club is produced by Chickadee Productions

 

Poetry Club Talks…Understanding Poetry, Rita Dove Part 3

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-vkpab-10c4116

Topic: Understanding Poetry, Rita Dove
Host: Shannon
Poem: “Exit”
Recorded: August 20, 2021

Rita Dove Poems

RitaDove

Have you ever read a poem and wondered “What does this mean?”  Do you need to understand a poem to appreciate it?  If it takes too much work to understand do you turn the page or enjoy the challenge?  If you’ve found yourself in these situations then join the club.  Poetry Club discusses how to and should we understand poetry.  The poem we use as an example is the “blushing” Rita Dove poem “Exit”.

This is part three of our talks on Rita Dove’s poetry.  Rita, we have enjoyed exploring each line of your work.  We wish you great success on your new book “Playlist for the Apocalypse.”  We will all buy a copy!playlist_for_the_apocalypse_book_cover.jpg

Please visit Norton Books to order a copy
https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393867770

“In her first volume of new poems in twelve years, Rita Dove investigates the vacillating moral compass guiding America’s, and the world’s, experiments in democracy. Whether depicting the first Jewish ghetto in sixteenth-century Venice or the contemporary efforts of Black Lives Matter, a girls’ night clubbing in the shadow of World War II or the doomed nobility of Muhammad Ali’s conscious objector stance, this extraordinary poet never fails to connect history’s grand exploits to the triumphs and tragedies of individual lives.”

Poetry Club Talks… is produced by Chickadee Productions

Rita Dove photo credit YOLONDA COLES JONES

Au jus

“A French dip sandwich, also known as a beef dip, is a hot sandwich consisting of thinly sliced roast beef on a “French roll” or baguette. It is usually served plain but a variation is to top with Swiss cheese, onions, and a dipping container of beef broth au jus) produced from the cooking process.” -Wikipedia

I post many first and second drafts of my poetry on this site. The illusion of “public posting” develops a type of creative wall for me. Provides just enough pressure to help me work out the kinks.

Today I would like to share will you some raw stuff. I’m a story telling poet. Most times my poems are generated from a real life experience or observation then I attempt to carve something tangible from the block of emotional marble, if you will. I’m guessing most creatives, do not know exactly where inspiration comes from or where it goes once it’s released, but this marble metaphor is what I’m going with for now. However, the backdrop for this poem is not what most marble is used for, a god in crisis or an ancient emperor. Instead it is a four hour visit with my mom at her cabin, watching her cook a simple roast beef lunch. Ordinary and extraordinary all at the same time. Love does that.

So, I had an amazing experience and I thought I should do something with this. This is a poem, a poem I would like to share. Driving home I used my cars hands-free system to record to my phone. It’s a type of “moment capturing” that results in RAW free form poetry, or spoken free verse.

Above is the recording, below is the recording transcribed. The finish product may end up in one of my books some day. Hope you enjoy this little insight into my process. -Best wishes always, Shannon


Au jus
by Shannon Laws

she asked me if I would like some Au Jus
Ya that sounds good I haven’t had that in a while
what kind of cheese would you like on it?
and for some reason I said Jarlsberg
she toasted it up on a bun
and cut it on a long diagonal
easy for dipping

at the cabin, we didn’t have the proper bowl for the au jus
and she said well we have too small of containers
or we have too large
shall we go with too large or too small?
and we both said too large

She toasted the bread just perfectly
crispy crust on the outside
and soft in the middle
and we talked

We talked as I was raised to talk
to talk around the dining table
about common things
and happy things
things that will not
disrupt digestion
and I wondered if it was because she was
raised in Minnesota
or because she grew up on a farm
or perhaps because she didnt get
her first television set until she was 18
but she is such a good conversationalist
I appreciate that about her
and I realized it is a true art form
I saw it for the art form that it is
conversation
good conversation
over good food
it does something to you
it heals the soul
it is good
good times
good people

it did even more than that
it reminded me how much we all need each other
and how much I needed her
her in her late 70’s
me in my early 50’s
We don’t have much time with each other
maybe 20 years who knows

I thought about my friends whose mothers
have already passed
and they all have said
I wish I could just call her up on the phone
sometimes and talk
and here I am at a table
in a cabin
with my mother
having an au jus sandwich

we talked
we shared
we laughed
we had a wonderful visit

a four-hour lunch is a good time
When I left she said
Oh I’m going to take a look at your new car
and I opened it up for her
she looked inside
and it made me feel better about my choice

and I want to tell you
confess on paper here today
no, it’s not a confession
It’s a question…
Have you ever seen your mother pray
have you ever looked at her from across the room
when she knew you weren’t looking at her
and you saw her lips move
and a subtle hand gesture
maybe she looks up to heaven or
off in the distance at nothing in particular
and her lips move slightly
and there’s a smile on her face
or something and
she just kind of glows for a moment
and you know she is praying
you don’t know the words exactly
but somehow you sense the love from her

I started my car
left and drove off
she glowed

##

Ghost in the Hall

Do you have dreams about the home you grew up in? I can see my childhood home in my mind. The typical three bedroom west coast rambler; living area on one side and a looong hallway to the bedrooms on the other. As a young kid I was pretty sure the place was haunted. The creaky floor didn’t help.

Ghost in the Hall
by Shannon Laws
Odd Little Things, published 2014

When I was a child A Skeleton Ghost would walk
The bedroom hall of our home  
Afraid of the dark I would sleep with the light on
My door open just enough to keep out the trouble
Ghosts are everywhere when you are four.  

Often the ghost would wiggle its way past my door
Steps heard creaking across loose boards
Creak.  Creak.  Creak.

Down the hall slowly it walked   Skeleton heading for the kitchen
To fill up its ribs with mom’s pork chops
Then fiddle its way back to bed After the meal was consumed  

One scary night before this mystery was solved
I slept between my parents for protection  
Bookends of adult and authority on either side
Defense from anything ghoulish
Each parent rolled over facing the walls
As I lay blinking at the ceiling.  

2 a.m. is Skeleton’s supper time  
Down it came toward my parents’ room
Bones walk lightly when there is no moon  
Closer.  Closer.  Closer.
 
From the ceiling my eyes followed
To see what stood at the foot of the bed  
Its frame wiggled trying to materialize
To grab hold of me with solid hands   
Dad sighed in his sleep and the ghost misted away. 
Scared off by the possibility of his waking
I waited.  Waited.  Waited.  

My father was a quiet man, little brought out
his anger, looking back I think dad was
The Skeleton Ghost walking the halls at night
His spirit jumping out, looking for food for his soul
Wandering around for morsels of encouragement
His bony frame proved little return

Wherever he is, I hope there is a table before him
Every morning set with enlightenment, curiosity, love
I hope he found peace because
With one soft growl
One scary night

He save my life



You can get your copy of Odd Little Things from
independent book store Village Books
https://www.villagebooks.com/book/9798743768806

Poetry Club Talks…Rita Dove Part 2

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qfgsq-10a92c0

Topic: Rita Dove
Host: Shannon
Poem: “American Smooth” and “Ludwig Von Beethoven’s Return To Vienna”
Recorded: July 30, 2021

Rita Dove – Poems Discussed

Rita-Dove-631

In part two of our discussion on American poet Rita Dove, Poetry Club relishes in her artistry, wonder word choices, and lament over the life portrayed of Beethoven.  We discuss the use of metaphor as a vehicle, the importance of place and time, and timing.  Amazing work we are happy to swim in.  Please join us.

AWARDS
1986 The Pulitzer Prize-winning for her poetry book “Thomas and Beulah”
1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities
2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award
2006 Common Wealth Award
2007 Chubb Fellowship at Yale University
2008 Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award
2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal
2009 International Capri Award
2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University
2019 North Star Award from the Hurston/Wright Foundation
Twenty-eight honorary doctorates, among them from Yale University in 2014 and Harvard University in 2018
In 2019, she received the Wallace Stevens Award, given annually by the Academy of American Poets to recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.

The Los Angeles Times described Dove’s book [American Smooth (2004)] as an “ambitious effort, using multiple distinctive voices and perspectives to chronicle the complex tale ‘of light and shadow, / what we hear and the silence that follows.’” 

All poems copyright by Rita Dove.
Please visit her webpage at the UVA to learn more: https://uva.theopenscholar.com/rita-dove

Poetry Club Talks… is produced by Chickadee Productions

Angel From Montgomery

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. –Billy Joel

Today on the way home from work I remembered a time not too long ago that I had a job doing wood repair and grading at a lumber mill.  The machine I worked on, called a plugger, was older than my mother and made of 100% steel.  It resembles a sewing machine, well a sewing machine the size of a truck, but its job is to patch holes in various grades of wooden veneer.  It runs on steam.  It is very loud.  My machine was in the corner of a massive mill and for the most part, people left me alone.  The whole mill was loud–so loud that you could sing to yourself, at the top of your lungs and no one would be able to hear you unless they were right up on your platform. To help my memory, because why not, I decided to learn new songs.  So I sang. I looked up the lyrics and tried to sing all the way through without a mistake.  I learned 5 or 6 new songs doing this.  Singing became a part of my work life.  It helped the time pass and, well, it really felt good.

BODY MEMORY

A musical friend of mine shared the phrase “body memory” with me.  She would learn a new song on her guitar and the vocals, practice over and over until the song was memorized by, as she put it, her whole body.  I love that idea!  It seemed to me once a song has body memory for you, you should be able to play with it a bit, expand, embellish, change it up some.

Angel From Montgomery was a song I practiced and practiced.  The lyrics told a powerful story.  I attached myself to them.  They became my history and life with each turn telling the story.  I thought by embracing the lyrics I could achieve body memory.  One day in mid-chorus I realized, Angel From Montgomery REALLY is my story.  My middle name IS my mother’s first.  My father was a true dreamer who never grew up.  I married a “free ramblin’ man” and we drifted apart over time.  I found myself on the backside of a 20-year marriage in a blink, unhappy, disappointed in myself, and needing some help.  How did Bonnie sing my future with such feeling?  In 1971 did the writer John Prine have a dream of me crying in my dishwater?  They don’t know me.  The music–the music knows us all.  It finds us like water to the sea.  Words and rhythm befriend our misery and gradually a sad, lonely, middle-aged woman plugging veneer in the corner of a 100-year-old mill feels no longer alone…

What song has moved you?


Lyrics

I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child who’s grown old
If dreams were lightning
And thunder were desire
This old house would’ve burned down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

When I was a young girl
Well, I had me a cowboy
He weren’t much to look at
Just a free ramblin’ man
But that was a long time
And no matter how I tried
The years just flowed by
Like a broken down dam

chorus

There’s flies in the kitchen
I can hear ’em there buzzin’
And I ain’t done nothing
Since I woke up today
How the hell can a person
Go to work in the morning
Then come home in the evening
And have nothing to say?

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: John E Prine
Angel From Montgomery lyrics © Walden Music Inc., Sour Grapes Music Inc.,
Walden Music, Inc., Sour Grapes Music, Inc.

Poetry Club Talks…Rita Dove Part 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jfk76-109c269

Topic: Rita Dove
Host: Shannon
Poem: “Rusks”
Recorded: July 24, 2021

Rita Dove – Poems Discussed

Shannon hosts the discussion on the well-known modern American poet Rita Dove.  Playing “devil’s advocate,” Shannon asks, “Do award-winning poets write amazing poetry—consistently?”  Perhaps you’ve wondered this yourself while reading a famous poem? If you remove the famous name from the poem, is it still a “good” poem?  Dove’s poem “Rusks” appears on all the top ten list of her best poems.  Poetry Club tackles it line by line.  Does it hold up or fizzle?  Listen to find out.

Dove_Rita

BIO

Rita Frances Dove (b. August 28, 1952) Born in Akron, Ohio, U.S., as an American poet and essayist. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She has the distinct honor of being the first African American and the youngest person to serve as poet laureate of the United States (1993–95).  In 2018 she was named poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine.

President Bill Clinton bestowed upon her the 1996 National Humanities Medal, and President Barack Obama presented her with the 2011 National Medal of Arts, making her the only poet who has received both medals.

“There are so many casual pleasures in Ms. Dove’s poetry that the precision and dexterity in her work — the darkness, too — can catch you unawares.    

Ms. Dove’s poems have earthiness, originality, power, and range. Despair and loss are among her central themes, but so is the hunt for bedrock human pleasures.”

-Dwight Garner, for the New York Times, May 31, 2016

All poems copyright by Rita Dove.
Please visit her webpage at the UVA to learn more: https://uva.theopenscholar.com/rita-dove

Poetry Club Talks… is produced by Chickadee Productions

South Beach

This poem “South Beach” was written back in 2010 and later published in my first poetry chapbook “Madrona Grove” in 2013. It is what some would call a “process poem” where the writer uses the art of poetry to process a real event in their life. Of all the poems in the book THIS is the number one poem that generates an email, phone call or a conversation to me from the reader. I’m glad this poem has touched so many. When I read it, even 11 years later, a part of me is back on that beach. I can still hear the waves, I remember the eagle. That was the year of “no more.”

Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island, Washington state. South Beach (upper left)
Photo credit: https://mikereidphotography.com/ Please visit his website.

South Beach
by Shannon Laws

Often, we would walk South Beach together
That long large-pebbled beach
along the Salish Sea
on the island’s west side

Short, salt water waves
lap up against the shore there,
constant rhythm set by the wind,
like a slow rock tumbler
sifting for agates

Brown cliffs of San Juan
barely hold a road on top itself
Large crumbles of dirt clots
lay at its feet predicting its fate

Hard soles are needed to walk this beach
The stones just large enough to
aggravate the arches as you walk,
Hamstrings pull heavy with each step

Once in a while,
whenever it wants to,
a large eagle can be found
perched on beach wood

He owns that beach and all who pass
His royal brow gives no doubt

This is my favorite beach, you tell me, one foggy morning

We tried again to walk together
I walked ’til I reached the Eagle King,
you continued alone into the mist
Mystery always favored over familiar
I sit and watch you heavy step away

Alone you go into the fog
leaving me to sit with the eagle
You continue until a low cloud
consumes you from my sight

I imagine you reach the end
where the cliffs give way to the shore
and the landscape bends around
to the fields at Cattle point
I saw you in my mind
alone and happy with your thoughts
and the sea

I sit and watch,
You walk and ponder

A year later,
You sat and watched
as I walked off the island
You let me go that year
just like I let you
walk the beach
alone



Visit my Amazon Author page to purchase or download the book today: https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Laws/e/B00MCYTUPI%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Introduction to Discovery

Here is a poem from my latest book, “You Love Me, You Love Me Not” available on Amazon and at Village Books in Bellingham, WA. The book is an audio book and has a chap book accompaniment. The poem may come across as obvious to some. However, the book and this poem are attempts to explore that level of comfort and communication between two people who can read each other with eyes closed.

Introduction to Discovery

You are a question that must be answered

He touched me
He touched me
The way
I wanted him to
The way
I wished he would
He read my mind
And he touched me

His fingers moved along the ridges
Of my galaxy in search of the ignition
old crate of dynamite
hidden in the shed
sweats with glycerin
delicate to movement
so my love is for you

drop that box! start a bang
kick start a star to life

use all fingers to read
me as a mystery novel
written in Braille
every bump, knob and dip
a conjunction closer to knowing
the riddle of Eve