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.
To learn more about her new book and to purchase a copy, please visit this site:
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
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
I have a super announcement–I am working on my 5th book of poetry! The poems are being selected, polished up and organized now. Hopefully, by the end of the month, the new collection will be ready for submission. The BLOG tab will be removed once I begin seeking a publisher. Don’t want old drafts of poems to be confused with final versions. The title of the book is TBA.
Please consider picking up some poetry on my main page. Thank you for visiting my site. When someone “likes” anything I post it sends me to the moon and back!
P.S. For about 10 years Washington State has voted by mail. I voted last week. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who oversees voting says about 004% of our voters did, it appears, try to vote fraudulently. They voted for someone else who had passed away, or they voted more than once. And that was 142 people out of 3.2 million ballots cast.
So many songs begging Ruth Bader Ginsburg to “hang on” until there is another democrat in the white house. This one caught my attention. SNL 2019.
Thank you Red Wheelbarrow writers for accepting my poem, “Day 53”, for publication in This Uncommon Solitude your upcoming anthology of pandemic poetry.
“We are honored to showcase and share your powerful and poignant words during this unsettling time of crisis.”
Day 53 By Shannon Laws
If the world were normal now,
as it may never be again,
I might enjoy the morning.
This morning where I woke,
at 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast
drank coffee in bed, started writing,
and still under the sheets at 11:36.
If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019,
I would not label this morning a case of pandemic fatigue,
no—it would be relaxation.
It is what the pre-pandemic modern world
used to refer as a “personal day.”
(remember personal days?)
I could find joy in working at home if all
my neighbors got into their cars and
drove to work this morning!
THEN today would be a special day for me.
But, it is not.
It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing
but the heavy responsibility of
staying home and
Jury Duty for women as a right- In 1979, Ginsburg argued Duren v. Missouri, a case in which a Missouri man accused of murder argued he couldn’t get a fair trial because of a law that made jury service optional for women. She told the court that such exemptions didn’t just make the jury pool unfair; it devalued women’s contributions to juries.
Equal pay regardless of sex- In her 2007 dissent, which she read from the bench (a rare move for any justice), she argued that the Civil Rights Act’s 180-day time limit shouldn’t apply in the case of discriminatory pay since gender-based discrimination can happen gradually. “A worker knows immediately if she is denied a promotion or transfer,” said Ginsburg. “Compensation disparities, in contrast, are often hidden from sight.”
Shower Thoughts: The Swiss must have been pretty confident in their victory if they included a corkscrew in their army knives.
Let’s check-in. Do you know anyone who has been directly affected by the virus? I personally know three people. Two friends of mine lost family members; one a mother the other a grandmother. This week I learned that an acquaintance had a meth relapse. One step farther outside my social circle, I’ve heard many more struggles, especially in relation to small businesses. It is a stressful time. Very sad.
Washington State is a small business hive. In Oct 2019, six months before the lockdown, Business News Daily reported:
Washington state hosts 608,956 small businesses that employ 1.4 million workers, which is more than half of the state’s private-sector workforce. These small businesses represent 99.5% of all Washington-based businesses, more than half of which maintain less than 100 employees. Washington’s economy is worth $563.2 billion, making it the 12th largest economy in the U.S. In 2018, real GDP grew by 5.7%, far outpacing the national average of 2.9%.
This week, talking with folks throughout my town, I believe the general consensus is that Washington State, much less Whatcom County, will continue to be conservative in its public gatherings well into next Spring. How can we restore the entrepreneurial character of our state? Also, I am beginning to hear plans for preparation for the second wave during the cold and flu seasons. In WA that is roughly four months November – February. I can see it now- folks not sure if they have a regular cold or COVID-19. Hopefully, there will be MORE tests available so doctors will know what to do.
I saw a “Beautiful British Columbia” license plate yesterday for the first time in almost two months. I was shocked! Around the mall and Costco areas, it’s normally a 40/60 mix of US/Canadian plates. Bellingham is about a 20-30 minute drive to the Canadian border and the exchange rate is favorable for the US. The border is closed to non-essential travel right now. TIL that there is a slight difference between the west coast and the east coast COVID-19 strain. I am wondering if the virus has mutated due to isolation between Vancouver, BC, and Seattle. What can citizens expect when the border re-opens?
What will the post-pandemic world look like? Well, for me, I never brought my laptop home. I shared an office with three co-workers. POST-Covid my guess is work-life will be a hybrid of days in office & home. Many questions this morning. The answers wait for us in the future.
Here is a poem I’m working on. I wrote it last year on a day off. I took myself out for breakfast and was sat next to a coffee klatsch of ladies.
TWO TABLES OVER
by Shannon Laws
Four ladies at the diner
I can hear the flowered hat
and lace blouse in their voice
A mental corset shape their words
Manners learned from a hard
covered book control the conversation
It is a lovely visit
A fine afternoon
Let us meet again next Friday
They are a dying breed, I think
Second hand on a hanger
Classic female behavior
Early 20th-century thinking
My mood expressed in a meme. Stay safe, stay healthy. Love each other.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Shower Thoughts: Vehicles today can surf the web, link to your phone, stream music and videos, etc.. but they still can’t perform a simple database lookup to tell you what the check engine light is on for.
Good morning. How ya’ doing today? Are you up with the birds like me? If so imagine the two of us clinking our coffee cups together in a toast for a good day. *cheers* Although there are many thoughts racing around my mind this morning, I’m just not too sure what to write about. It’s SO much–there are SO many topics.
The way I feel this morning reminds me of what my doctor said when he was mentally preparing me for the birth of my first child 30 years ago. He said something like, “As you know from the childbirth and newborn book I gave you the cervix will expand to 10 cm gradually. The body will slowly open and prepare the way for the baby to exit the body. Labor pains are just that—pain. However, at the peak of labor, when the head and shoulders exit, that is the maximum expansion, alright. Now, when that happens, the skin, muscles, and other tissue are SO stressed and at their limit, the nerves stop sending pain signals and basically the mother feels no pain. Now, isn’t that something to look forward to?” Sounds perfect. Thanks, doc. Men say this because they can’t possibly imagine a watermelon exiting their body from ANY hole, much less one that was made specifically for that purpose. I know he was trying to be encouraging but, well, whatever.
Yesterday I had a write out! I met with a friend on her front porch for a mask-wearing, 6 feet apart sitting, write out. She has a cute classic home over in the Sunnyland Neighborhood. Builders back in the early and mid-1900s understood the value of a good front porch—they are the original SOCIAL PLATFORM. Our activity feels like we transported back to perhaps the 1950s, waving at neighbors as they walked by, shouting at another asking if they want some tomatoes cages, stuff like that. This neighborhood is fortunate to be within walking distance of a great grocery store, bus lines, and parks. In Bellingham, we are allowed to walk outside without citation but advised to not travel too far or too much or with too many people. This is to help reduce the chances of accidents in an effort to keep the hospital free from preventable causes. In addition to friendly foot traffic, my friend also has many bird visitors. She throws out some saltines to a crow she recognizes and then says to me “LOOK! He’s going to burying it up in that houses roof gutter”, and he does.
Later she offers me some sun tea she made. I accept…and then there is another sign that the times are not themselves. The freshly poured glass of tea is placed on the table. I wait for her to sit down, and then I stand to retrieve it. It is possibly too dangerous, too rude, or hostile to be close enough to HAND someone something with an unloved hand. Are we two ladies enjoying sun tea on a fine May afternoon, or are we masked rebels toying with death?
Here is an old poem I found in my notebook. Think I’ll play with it a bit more.
The Salting Room or Watching Cooking Shows Home Sick with the Flu (April 2019) by Shannon Laws
The butcher knows if the pig was happy
red cow parmesan from a free-range life tastes better
solid and liquid
curds and whey
the Salting Room
20 months- sweet and rich
30 months- amino acids start
40 months- salty-sweet bitter
mother sits at the chair
closest to the kitchen
Fat transforms in the pan
in the oven, in the crock
we laugh and cry cutting onions with friends
I keep my miso to two or three years
hidden and pressed
Roll the dough until
it resists your thumb.
Debone and roll to a
long round roast.
Salt the meat
give it time
Here is my current mood expressed in a meme. Enjoy your day my friendly bot. -S
Shower Thoughts: No other species is watched more while pooping than dogs.
Oh my goodness, day 40 has arrived! It’s been 40 days since the official declaration from our governor to Shelter in Place, March 24th. We are in the middle of our 5th week. We learned on Friday, May 1st, the lockdown will be extended to May 31st. How are you holding up? Hope you are healthy and adjusting to your new normal. As soon as we adjust completely, perhaps, going through all the stages of grief and loss, at some point we’ll be thrown back into the fire. This morning I am thinking about the working class returning to dead-end jobs. I’m wondering what factors make a job a good job.
The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.
Many Americans will return to their jobs to face a brilliantly obvious discovery, a very REAL tried and true FACT- they are underpaid. Their previous jobs were unable to prepare them for regular emergencies such as a new transmission much less a pandemic. Middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago. Meanwhile, salaries, which have stagnated for decades don’t go as far as they once did to cover the necessities. Do we really want to go back to “normal”?
People with guns are starting to freak out. Last Thursday, April 30th, hundreds of well-armed citizens waving MAGA signs crashed the state capitol of Michigan demanding that the country reopen. They wanted to get to the House floor where representatives were in session but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms. In Michigan, it is legal to carry firearms as long as it’s done with lawful intent and the weapon is visible. Lawful Intent? hmmmm… In my town, if this lockdown extends another two months, my biggest concern is folks might just start biking naked or something. But, there are many parts of the US where the breaking point could result in converting Doug’s Toyota Tacoma into a freaking ISIS tank and start patrols!
I’m wondering about the demographic that stormed the capitol. Are they the same that was studied in various reports over the last two decades? Did you know that the suicide rate for white middle-aged working-class men has spiked? This group of Americans appears to be the most pissed off and depressed. Why?
For white men without a college degree, the average growth in median wages between 1979 and 2017 was a negative number (−0.2 percent a year), even as median hourly earnings for all white workers grew by 11 percent in the same period. This wage deflation has had well-documented cultural ripple effects, depressing marriage rates as men’s appeal as partners fell along with their earnings. Without a stable family life, these men are more isolated, with fewer of the sorts of social buffers that might inoculate them against suicide or drug abuse. As a result, the rates for both have gone up.
For what it’s worth, I was raised in a working-class neighborhood in South Seattle and my folks had small businesses. A part of me recognizes these men. They are the sons of my neighbors. My personal interpretation is that these suicide rates reflect a group of men unwilling to seek self-improvement in the form of therapy or education. Perhaps in their culture it is a sign of weakness, or maybe they do not believe they are wrong, mentally injured, or perhaps it is a simple financial barrier. Adaptation to our changing world is difficult but necessary.
So, let’s move ahead a few months. We have a Presidential election coming up. Is Biden going to go the way of Hilary or Barak in his campaign outreach? Will he be able to identify, and connect with the majority of voters? …also could folks start voting out the sellouts in the Senate? Seriously. Otherwise, in my view, Trump will simply be more fuel to the unpredictable, unstable, despair bonfire.
Here is my current mood expressed in a meme. Thanks for visiting. Be safe, stay healthy. -Shannon
Yesterday my daughter’s gift arrived! It is a beautiful hand-sewn mask by a fabric artist who lives near my daughter on San Juan Island, Washington. Here is the photo I took to share with you. Placed my breakfast inside to simulate a nose. I love the little cutie tangerines that come in mesh bags this time of year at my grocery store.
I heard on the radio this morning that the spring/summer harvest of many crops in America are left to rot in the fields. They are essential of course, but there are two issues, the farmers have no money to pay the workers, and the mass majority of Americans can not afford the food, which dominoed into fewer buyers purchasing the bulk produce. NPR Morning Edition reported:
“…In fact, the pandemic has caused entirely different problems: a spike in the number of people who can’t afford groceries and a glut of food where it’s not needed. Dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk that no one will buy. In Florida, vegetable growers are abandoning harvest-ready fields of tomatoes, yellow squash, and cucumbers for the same reason.”
Is there a food shortage coming? Once again I will attempt to quiet my panic. Calm it with prayer/meditation, give it to the trails I walk, allow it to transform into motivation and energize me while I work. We have to trust that the people with direct influence over these decisions have the wisdom and courage to make the right choice for all of America. It is difficult to trust our leaders. Consistent empathy towards citizens is non-existent. Personal gain is KING.
1) an observed joy- the Good Friday live stream service today
2) a real concern- No personal concerns at this time, but some things I am wondering about, for instance, when Washington re-opens, will they need to control our State’s borders? Will the price of gas go up soon?
3) a personal challenge- My next shopping day is April 15th. I want to have a new, leaner strategy, anticipating that Washington State will extend the mandate to the end of May.
4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I am stretching in the mornings with a 30-minute video I found on YouTube.
5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- Can I come out of the pandemic healthier than when I went in?
Here is a photo to illustrate my mood today. Thank you for visiting my blog. Please click “LIKE” and let me know you came by. Peace & health be with you, Shannon
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