Shannon P. Laws, born in Seattle, Washington, lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. Author of three poetry books, "Madrona Grove", "Odd Little Things", and "Fallen" and an audiobook of her one-woman satire show on mid-life dating, "You Love Me, You Love Me Not". For seven years she produced award-winning community radio programs that promoted the PNW indie music & art community. Shannon's other interests include operating her voice-over company, Chickadee Productions, and Poetry Club. Since 2015 Poetry Club is dedicated to the neighborhood discussion and sharing of poetry, now available on Podbean at https://poetryclub.podbean.com/
Topic: Louise Gluck Host: Linda and Amory Poems: “New World” and “Matins” Recorded: November 21, 2020
Our first two-parter! When Louise Gluck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020, the NYT recognized that many were unfamiliar with her work. One of their writers posted five poems, from five different collections, to introduce her. Linda shares a brief Gluck bio and Amory introduces two poems. In Part 2 Poetry Club discusses Gluck’s poem “Parable of the Hostages”
I’m very excited to have a small collection of my poems published in The Abstract Elephant Magazine this month. It’s such a beautiful magazine with an ideal mission. Please visit it sometime soon.
“The Abstract Elephant Magazine is an interdisciplinary, digital publication dedicated to understanding the issues of the human condition through the arts, the sciences, and philosophy. This magazine began with the intention to create a space for comparative endeavors and interdisciplinary research since our basic belief is that improvement in the human condition takes place in open dialogue and debate.”
Ron puts his money where his mouth is by submitting his own poem (below) for this week’s discussion on strategies for composing.
On a yet uneventful fall morning
we tuned in, all channels, to news breaking.
We saw the monolithic twins tower
beyond the New York City skyline, higher arching
emblems of America’s enormous
wealth, unassailable power,
and leadership in world affairs;
and life-source of our nation’s busy-ness
The planes appeared, at first, at the bottom of the screen, by their diminutive presence, simply to augment the scene, then, turning toward the center, disclosed their sinister intent: to shatter our national serene and apprise us of the error of our culture and content, by a sacrifice obscene, and realize the awful threat of terror.
then collapse in a cascade more sudden
than our startled eyes and minds could follow
into a burgeoning mountain of rubble,
the billowing dust veiling the vast hollow,
and watched the constant replay, mesmerized,
unable to withdraw our captive sight
or avoid awareness of the massive scale of life
entombed within that monumental blight,
on the altered landscape of our lives
condemned always to carry the remnants:
seared mercilessly in each mind’s eye,
the indelible images and events.
Yesterday I thought I was going to have a meltdown an honest to goodness meltdown I needed to cry to have a good cry
Every so often I need to do this
There are times when the weight of my world is felt When the lack of things I need is noticed and I want to cry a good cry Not just any kind of cry but a true wailing Where my face becomes a waterfall I transcend to trance Weighted emotions leave your body through the antenna of outstretched arms Become a blubbery mess of emotion prepared to exclaim at the pinnacle of a moment Poised with a justified invocation, complaint, request, expression of confidence, and vow of praise to the Lord That Fixes Everything!
The when is now the place… I do not have
At my apartment a neighbor would hear and complain In my car eyes blurred by tears cannot see the road At work Security cameras capturing me beating my chest could cost me my job “She’s unstable. She must be replaced” In the woods If I cry out, alone to moan, and demand justice, preach to the trees— no, a hiker will come by call the police reporting, “There is a woman in the woods who sounds like she’s being beaten! Protect us!”
So, I do not lament I keep it inside, except…
sometimes, at night a little lament leaks out my eyes onto the pillow quietly softly and no one is none the wiser
NEW! NEW! NEW! Poetry Club is here for three reasons, to increase the understanding and appreciation of poetry, illustrate healthy communication between people of different opinions, and promote the creation of new poetry clubs in your neighborhood.
Since October 2015 we have been meeting in local coffee shops in our city, Bellingham, Washington. It started when four of us took Ron’s “Introduction of Poetry” class at a local community college. We enjoyed it so much we asked Ron if he would like to continue the discussion in a casual atmosphere. Currently, we are about 5-7 people who meet every Saturday online. Every week we discuss the work of a different poet, classical to contemporary.
Thank you for listening, participating, and for loving poetry.
Poet: Charles Bukowski, b.1920- d.1994 Hosted: Shannon Book: What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire, Published June 1st, 2002 by Ecco Press (first published June 5th, 1999), Paperback, 416 pages ISBN: 1574231057 (ISBN13: 9781574231052) Poems Discussed: The Mice, The 12 Hour Night, and a video feature available here: Tom Waits reads Nirvana by Charles Bukowski https://youtu.be/W-vdPkESLZs
Reviewing my submissions and acceptances for 2020 tonight and holy moly I forgot about a publication in the 20th issue of Cirque Journal! Such a beautiful PNW Rim magazine.
Cirque brings together the finest literary and artistic talent from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
Cirque was founded in 2009 by Anchorage poet Mike Burwell. Cirque, published in Anchorage, Alaska, is a regional journal created to share the best writing in the region with the rest of the world. This regional literary journal invites emerging and established writers living in the North Pacific Rim—Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Yukon Territory, Alberta, British Columbia, and Chukotka.
Cirque #20 celebrates 10 years in print. It’s a large issue of 175 pages. We are glad you will be part of it.
Thank you The Showbear Family Circus ( http://lanceschaubert.org/ ) Lancelot Schaubert’s and Tara Schaubert’s liberal arts circus, for including my poems, Crab, Grandmas Closet, and The Bog in your November 2, 2020 edition.
Your website stimulates the senses. Selected articles, short stories, poems, words jump off the page! I love this philosophy you have…
We want to focus on the liberal arts philosophy because we hope to reorder common ways magazines and readers think about news, scientific research, creative writing, and art reviews. We want all of the work shared at the Showbear Circus to focus not on money, power, lauds, or pleasure but on whether the thing made, the thought reasoned, and the feeling felt are good and beautiful and true.
You can find my poems in the November 2nd edition on the main page and here:
The sail that leans on the light of dusk Gives subtle shade to the port side Lady Spider works hard in the cool shadow Knitting at the rail corners She bounces about her web Forming it into the perfect triangle
The window sits still
Fathomless shades of grey and green churn Over and over foamy lips spray the air with A violent kiss Kisses More kisses than My eye can count
The ancient war between Obsession and responsibility Will never finish Spider on boats A Northern winter wind A broken heart at sea Waiting for a fresh light That follows a storm
I found this poem in my folder from 2012. Riding a Ferry was a regular part of my life years back. Approaching the winter months I am reminded of those days, going to work or taking the ferry to visit friends, family, or going on a trek to Costco, when the weather was stormin’. I LOVED it! The ferry captains and crew are amazing! When the boat is rolling and you get knocked out of a booth but you’re still above water–that is a good day.
This evening I’m feeling this spider that inspired the poem. It was building a web outside in the window frame of a Washington State Ferry. A bit of a surprise to discover. That takes serious vision and risk.
video credits at sites
Lightening and ferry boat ~ Friday Harbor San Juan Islands Wa Saved by Irene Pomerinke
Since August I’ve noticed the quality of my work was dissipating. I was re-reading emails and reports that I sent and noticed they were missing syncategorematic words, words that do not stand by themselves. (had to do it. How often do you get to use syncategorematic in a sentence?) “of” “and” “at” “a” –just missing, my fingers said, “No, I’m too tired to type these today, thank you.” So, I scheduled some vacation time. My budget was $0 but the need great. Four days of stay-cation the solution.
On my third day in, a transformer blew right. in. front. of. me. It filled my front windows with a bright blue, green, and pink light show. The twisted sound of electrical screams shouted up to the sky! I was sitting on my couch watching the news and BOOM! It startled me. I screamed. When the flash was gone my brain took about 2 seconds to figure out the transformer 150 feet from my front door blew. Opening the door I walked out along with 15 or so other apartment neighbors. Our eyes wide, pointing and smiling in shock at the transformer. Two of our bravest walked over to see if there was evidence of a fire starting in the pine needle laced lawn. Everything looked good.
One of the old-timers said, “It was a squirrel. The last two times, squirrel. They set them off around here.”
Electrical transformers transfer energy between circuits, switching energy from one voltage to another. But when flooded with too much electricity, the sudden surge can cause a transformer explosion. … Older transformers can explode when their insulating materials begin to fail. Or, when an animal touches them in the no-no spot.
Here they are the culprits in order of, um…number of casualties, highest to lowest according to the magazine Electrical Engineering Portal:
Squirrels, Mice, rats, and gophers, Birds, Snakes, Fire ants, and Large animals (cattle, horses, bison, and bears).
What animal was a surprise to you? For me, it was fire ants. An investigation was spurred. Fire ants were accidentally introduced into the US from South America in the early 1900s. Since then, they have spread widely across the southern US, displacing native ant species and causing reliability problems by building nests in electrical equipment.
What…WHY would fire ants climb up a pole, possibly vibrating from their perspective, all the way to the top and then boom? Sure it’s an excellent metaphor of GOP-types lock stepping behind trump, but ANTS acting as a Suicide Squad? No.
The ant story is a bit more grounded. (pun intended.) The ants cause a transformer to blow by building nests inside the ground equipment casing. Like this photo shows. Ants learned fast that the casing provides warmth during winter months, a dry nesting site during heavy rains, and an undisturbed nesting site throughout the year.
I continued to travel along the fire ant trail. Who were these trouble makers? My only personal run-in was at a lakeshore in Arizona many summers ago. I remember a bare leg receiving bite after bite because I had the audacity to stand in one place for too long. I saw them as savagely fierce creatures, like tiny packs of blood thirty wolves! Turns out they have a tighter relationship than any pack of wolves. In extreme conditions, fire ants have the ability to flip their minds from “individual” to “group” setting and form protective shapes. Shapes that can create air bubbles underwater and withstand moderate pressure. They become so like-minded, choreographed in unison, holding each other tightly, they can become a single squishy glob. This video blew my mind:
In America, we value our individuality. We use to teach constructive and critical thinking in the elementary grades. Any person should be able to hear the facts and come to their own conclusion. In a diverse group, there is strength when solving a problem because different types of minds (artistic or engineering for example) come up with unique solutions. One of those ideas is the answer to the problem.
Humans are not ants.
However, the idea of these tiny creatures holding on to each other, hugging each other, in order to survive a deluge, is inspiring.
The 27th Day Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions. -T.S. Eliot
Getting out of my car today I noticed a bee. A large and fuzzy bumblebee slowly moving its legs on the parking lot blacktop of my apartment building.
I saw a video once where a person found a honey bee in distress gave it a little sugar water and it flew away happy. I thought I would do the same for this fellow-creature.
I raced inside, grabbed a small bowl, and quickly concocted a love potion of room temperature filtered water with a pinch of raw, all-natural sugar into the bowl
Without saying a word I stepped up along its side, my feet ten times its length, my silence like the voice of God shaking mountains into the sea. A front bee-leg lifted up in proclamation-
STOP! Do not step on me!
I gave it a little at first, pouring my potion near its mouth, then watched and waited. I looked for movement in the folded cellophane blanketed atop the black and yellow body. A black thin tongue darted in and out of the puddle.
The rescue a success, I went inside and continued with my evening. I was quiet about my good deed. The next day I saw it. Flattened. In line with a neighbor’s back tire. Inches from the stain of the dried sweetened water.
The bee did not fly away in search of flowers to bounce on. It did not sleep as I slept, with lighter shoulders knowing everything was reconciled between bee and human. What did I do wrong?
Perhaps it was evil to intervene. Perhaps I poured sugar water onto the ground to restored life, perhaps I gave a dying bee its last drink.
This evening I went out for a walk. I walked four blocks in one direction turned right two blocks then came back to my home. It was colder than I was dressed for. Winter is coming. I’m quietly thankful this evening. It is unexplainable. The Dalai Lama said, “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” Some days it is easier to defend the inner peace layer than others. I’m wondering when during a casual conversation three American friends will look at each other and say something like, “Remember when everyone had to wear masks?”
Thank you for visiting my site. Please stay safe. Take care- Shannon