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 CORVID-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

 

 

Poem: Hard Truth Surrounded by Dark Chocolate is Better for the Throat

Sleeping Under the Banyan Tree, by Marina Abramovic, 2010

 

Hard Truth Surrounded by Dark Chocolate is Better for the Throat

by Shannon P. Laws

 

Paper picks up marbled paint

skims the dream I left under

a tree overnight in the yard

 

Wet blades of grass are your hair and my head trying to connect

A wire through the two of us relays less than

a pair of cups and knotted string

 

Black braided rope hangs from the ear

If only you had said yes to dinner

 

Event: Redmond Poets in the Park

You’re invited…

 
Anderson Park    |    7802 168th Ave NE    |    Redmond, Washington

Featuring Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and many other guests!
 
Poets in the Park in 2017 celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Redmond Association of Spokenword. Readings for 2017 will once again feature groups and organizations, with 25-minute reading slots. We also have 55-minute workshops, our book fair, vendors, open-mic readings, and more—and its all free! Visit the website to see the schedule. 
Enjoy poetry readings and performances on our Café and Picnic Shelter stages, workshops in our workshop cabin, and activities, installations, and vendors throughout the park, plus our poetry book fair (coordinated by Rebecca Willow, with no commission taken)—all FREE! Bring your own lunch to enjoy on the lawn or in our café area. Poetry putt-putt (mini-golf), chalk poetry, hula hoops, Haiku on Sticks, art/craft activities for kids and adults (sponsored by VALA Art Center and Jim Teeters), RASP poetry anthology poems on sticks, and more!
See the Facebook invite. Tweet to #poetsinthepark.

I will be reading on the Main Stage, 3:00 p.m., with the Clover: A Literary Rag group
AND I will have copies of “Fallen”
on hand to sell.

This is a great poetry packed day.  See you there!