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

##

The Showbear Family Circus

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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:

http://lanceschaubert.org/2020/11/02/crab/

http://lanceschaubert.org/2020/11/02/grandmas-closet/

http://lanceschaubert.org/2020/11/02/the-bog/


Truly an honor.
Thank you,
SPL

Day 65: One Hundred Million Suns

“What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.”  Warren Buffett

Guessing by the news last week, Whatcom County will be asked to shelter in place another month.  I didn’t think we had it that bad.  Of the 1055 deaths in our state, Whatcom has experienced only 36.  Today the total death count for the US is 99,624 according to google search COVID-19 alert page.  In March, I heard the scientist estimating the deaths nationwide could reach 250,000.  That’s not too many, right? Please let me out!  …I must be in the negotiating stages of grief now.

It’s 8:10 in the morning here.  A neighbor is having problems with their smoke alarm.  Each of our apartments has two.  I believe both were going off at one point.  I’ve had a morning like that.  Poor neighbor.  These alarms are set off by smoke not heat, typically triggered by cooking.  What I learned is to quickly grab a bathroom towel and rotate it like a helicopter blade under the smoke detector, turn on ALL the fans, open ALL the windows, even the door if you have to.  It’s the quickest way.  Whoever they are, they’ve been at it for 20 minutes now.  Sounds like they don’t know the towel trick.

In the back of my mind, I realize it could really be a fire.  Oil in the pan, a candle on a blanket, electrical… how fast would this building burn?  Let’s see 23 units, built in 1976, so its 44 years old.  Does that mean it will burn faster or slower?  What would I grab?

Last winter I thought about grabbing everything I own and leaving America.  I was (and still am) so discouraged by our country’s leaders I wanted to become an expat and relocate to Mexico, Spain, Cuba, even South Korea, anywhere but the United States.   Alarms in the distance warning us of trouble.  Complacency argues the trouble is “over there”, it hasn’t reached my door stoop yet, I’m fine, I’m safe.  Apathy says what are the chances it’s a real fire? Who cares? Everythings fine.  Laziness tells me pour yourself another cup of coffee, get back into bed and turn on Netflix.

Logic (not to be confused with Loki) tells me, it is not a fire.  Not anymore.  Listen.  The beeping is reduced to one alarm, and it corresponds with the low rumble of a large diesel truck, possibly 2 blocks over working on the road.  A new breezeway trail is being constructed through a field of blackberries. The fire alarms I heard over a half-hour ago have morphed into a backhoe going forward and backward clearing the sticky stubbornness.  A symphony of sound composed by the neighborhood this morning!  A lesson embedded of course, as all lessons are if we listen close enough.  The lesson I hear is to be ready for an emergency, be thankful, for what you have could be gone in less than 30 minutes, but primarily–when the tone changes the source has too.

**

I want to share this poem from my book “Fallen” 2017.

Another God

by Shannon Laws

I cannot sleep
next to you
The porch light
on the other side
of the curtains
tricks me awake

You look frozen on a canvas,
painted in oils by a master,
shadows lightly brush your shape

I study the back of your head
your ear lobe
a quiet beating vein
the hairline along the neck

There’s a frame of freckles
below the shoulder blade
They look like Orion poised
with bow, arrow aimed upward

I am not your Merope taken by blind force
I am Andromeda, wrists wrapped in iron
ready for monsters to decide loves fate

Gods visit the sheets of women
a vacation from eternity
Taste the finite in the kiss,
wipe their mouths with times mist

I will lose you as I lost others

Tonight your constellation glows in porch light,
while I dream of everything I cannot have

**

Here is my mood expressed by meme.


https://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/government-news/state/31146/san-juan-county-qualifies-for-a-waiver-to-skip-ahead-to-phase-2-under-new-criteria

Day 38: Raw Poetry

Northwest Washington is experiencing some rain this week.  Most of us are well equipped for walking in the rain, but if you can find a sunshine break to get in a mile or more of a walk it is perfect!

The monthly poetry discussion group I’ve been apart of since October 2015 is meeting on a weekly basis during the shutdown.  We call it Poetry Club: Pandemic Edition, find us on Facebook.  Somehow we have been discussing the work of Robert Frost for ALL of April.  We got stuck on his work and can’t get off that bus.   The discussions are stimulating, nonetheless, thanks mostly to the host Ron Leatherbarrow, who taught Frost at a collegiate level.

Here is the rough poem I’m sharing with the group for critique.  It’s a poem I found in my writing journal from 2017:

Sawdust
by Shannon Laws

“And, as my way is, I begin to dream, resting my elbows on the desk and leaning out of the window a little,” -John Ashbery

As I stand to look out the windows of the factory,
I wish I did not have to sweep this floor on such
a summer’s Saturday.
I imagine, past the trees and along the waterfront,
people are walking with inner peace.
And I envy them—they are so far away from me!
No one has to worry about working five hours of
overtime to help pay their bills.
And, as my way is, I imagine myself small, a doll
in the hand of a god.
The mill—a toy house and the window fills up
with the freckled face of the child that plays.
If the real world is large and I just a toy, still I would
want to run free.
Freedom is better than shelter and care, I bravely think.
But inward I know I only have what others have given.
So, here I am, under the press of having to shovel a
mound of sawdust into the bin.

 


My Netflix queue is Peaky Blinders, Ozark, Dracula, Outlander, the very silly DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the original Star Trek with special effects remastered.  Star Trek could be a drinking game; take a shot of tequila every time a woman apologizes for almost being raped.  Oh my gosh, I did not know how sexist that show was!

Have a good day!  Be nice to yourself and those around you!  -Shannon

 

Day 17: New Normal

Yesterday I did not journal. After early coffee and breakfast, I hit the ground running with work, both at home, zooming, and on sites, and went grocery shopping.  When the day ended I watched some “Outlander” and went to bed early.

Out And About

Must admit, it was nice to get out and drive around my city.  It was the perfect day for a drive, a mild 50-something-sun-shinnin-blue-sky-day! I was curious about what new things I might encounter, you know…out there…in the outside world.  Getting onto the freeway, I rolled down all four windows and enjoyed rushing fresh air whipping around the inside of my car while listening to anything other than the news.  The 1st Wave channel works to break the mundane news trance if you’re interested.
-Although it was Wednesday, it looked like a Saturday.  Many folks in the neighborhoods were cutting their grass, washing their cars.
-Very light traffic, like what you might notice on a holiday, but, of course, with NO British Columbia plates due to the border closure.
-Many people riding bikes, folks walking their dogs and strolling babies.  Food drive-thrus still open.
-At Fred Meyer, I purchased 8 days worth of food—breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  (Dang, it was expensive!)  There were small amounts of toilet paper available with signs to purchase no more than two packs of four.  It took me three attempts to retrieve coffee because the isle was too busy.  About 3/4 of the shoppers were wearing masks.
-Also, later, I noticed a white truck with a “Federal” seal driving around Happy Valley.  I’ve never seen that seal before and it caught my attention.  On the social website Nextdoor, a person took a photo of a Volvo that was video recording neighborhoods.  Are they looking for folks breaking the mandate? I wonder if the sightings are related? Curious.

1) an observed joy- Chatted with a neighbor I’ve never met while out for a walk.  We walked in the same direction on opposite sides of the road (plenty of space). We parted ways at an intersection and wished each other good health.

2) a real concern- Nothing new is being reported about airport screenings. I assume passengers are being screened, but, who knows. There appears to be little less airplane traffic these days.  To view every single airplane in the air this second, visit https://www.flightradar24.com/ 

3) a personal challenge- I need to find new ways to eat healthy for less.

4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I stretched for 30 minutes this morning.

5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- It’s so nice out this week.  This morning the air coming in my bedroom window reminded me of summers, when I was a kid, sleeping in our back yard.

Here is a pandemic meme that expresses how I felt yesterday going out to do errands.  Stay safe, stay healthy, stay happy. -Shannon

Poem: Unfinished Basement

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Unfinished Basement

By Shannon Laws

Figure out how I fit in your world
as I discover the shape of your heart
push me into your foreign form
as the chalk line
between
us dulls 

Memory foam bed faces north in your
cold unfinished basement headboard
is bare drywall with taped-over nails
primer and mud a forgotten chore for
another day painted white bricks lined
up like soldiers floor to ceiling gray soot
stains define few edges 

This is our nest
our place to incubate

When you touch me it is a fast
movement under a silk sheet
sparking a mighty lightning storm
hair stands on end in anticipation
of where your fingers might go
legs gently look for arousal
as we twist together like snakes

You are a storm
you are the ocean
pounding at a rocky shore
don’t stop until
I am sand

KPNW-DB RADIO Interview

Ep 7 – May 2019 -Shannon Laws sits down with me to share her latest venture, an album of her Poetry/music titled “You Love Me, You Love Me Not”.
This collection is a satire and embellishment of very real relationships, explores the adult dating experience, it carries the listener through a muddy mess of emotions, passion, regret, rebound, delirious dreaming, and various other levels of pain and suffering while in the pursuit of finding love, or something close to it. The combination of Shannon’s articulation and Greg’s bass touching each stanza ever so gently is a roller coaster ride; asking the question “do they love me or not?”; This show includes several cuts from the album.
The album is available on Bandcamp

“You Love Me, You Love Me Not” was recorded at Bill Simpkins Alpenglow Sound Studios 2019 in Bellingham, Washington USA

Thank you KPNW-DB

##

Poem: Words Work

 

Words Work

by Shannon P. Laws

 

Consume whole sentences
into your being by writers
who never flew, can’t be true
Hide in ignorance, uneducated writers
that mass of writers
Eat those words
Dotted on the page
set for the digestive tract
turned for blood

I wallow in my own mind
this clay of form-fitting madness
the sheets are heavy
the pillow a stone
the clock a whip
snaps me to attention

While outside, heard through a window cracked
the freeway, a river of cars, sounds like wind rushing
in the trees, or the waves finding shore—NO
tires on old pavement working the graveyard shift heading home

And then, there it is
as clear as a cloudy night
We are all travelers

 

#

Interview: Bellingham Alive

Here it is!  Better late than never.  Folks were asking for the link to the Bellingham Alive article (November 2017 issue) by KATE GALAMBOS.   Kate touched on my writing, radio and Poem Booth work.  Thank you Kate, and THANK YOU Bellingham Alive for placing me next to my crush Rick Steves!

http://northsoundlife.com/lifestyle/exploring-human-condition-art/

Bellingham has its artistic success stories (Death Cab for Cutie, comedian Ryan Stiles), but it also has its grassroots luminaries. Author, poet, and radio producer Shannon Laws is one. She has the privilege of not only being one of many talented Bellingham artists, but possesses a passion for supporting the local art community. Since beginning her writing career in 2009, she has expanded her reach to radio and community art installation.

Laws has always wanted to be an author. At just 12, she announced to her mother that one day she would be. “I’m sure that statement made her smile. I had poor grammar and spelling skills,” Laws said. Years later, Laws began writing poetry after finding herself in a dark time of life. While living on San Juan Island, she was intrigued by a writing class offered by Pacific Northwest author Susan Wingate. “That class changed the direction of my creative life and gave me hope.”

In June, Laws released her third book of poetry, “Fallen.” The collection explores loss, heartache, and quiet eroticism. Draped in dark humor and metaphor, the writing is a middle-of-life work that aims to “ask questions about a dark past, finding truth in the now, while (being) confident about how it all ends.” The book was a community effort, edited and published by Bellingham residents (Independent Writers Studio Press). Laws said she hopes readers find solace in the familiarity of the poetry. Grief is never felt the same, but her collection aims to lead readers through the process of loss. “I’m saying to the reader, ‘Come join me while I wallow around in my mottled life. We’re all a bit muddy. Let’s take that mud, cook it in the sun, and build a home together.” Loss is never a clean endeavor, and that is all right.

Beyond her writing, Laws produces the award-winning radio show, Bellingham Art Beat, which airs on Make.Shift Radio (KZAX LP-FM 94.9) and online at KPNW-DB. In March, the weekly program has been awarded the 38th Annual Mayor’s Art Award for its advocacy for local artists. It covers the art scene with live interviews and music. Laws draws much of her inspiration from the radio show. Each interview brings to light the awesomeness of the human experience. “I fall in love with everyone I interview,” Laws said. While each experience differs, we are all part of human existence. Our experiences are as unique as our fingerprints, she said. Laws is driven by inspiring stories of survival from all dimensions, big and small.

Laws also has had the opportunity to be a part of an unusual revival project. All over the country, phone booths have become dilapidated, seemingly pointless structures once the phones are removed. Working in partnership with artist Christen Mattix, and poet Summer Starr, the team refurbished a phone booth to beautifully house poetry. The Poem Booth can be spotted outside the downtown Community Co-op on North Forest Street. Today, the booth stands as a bright, clean, and inspiring art installation, hosting a new poem on a quarterly basis. Poems can be submitted to poemboothbham@gmail.com. Winners receive $25 cash and a $25 gift certificate to the Community Co-op.

shannonplawswriter.com

 

Bellingham Alive, November 2017 cover

Poem: Mermaid Rosary

Mermaid by Jerichau-Baumann

 

Mermaid Rosary

by Shannon Laws

 

Our Lady of Wayward Currents
finds her home off the highway
A curious thing to find
a candle flame so deep in the bay

One o’clock sun sets it off
fanned by the hulls of sailor’s vessels

Some call it holy to carry a
love for the ocean
tattooed on your arm
I carry mine in a pocket
with loose change