Day 47: Plague and Pestilence

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.

My breakfast: strong coffee with coconut creamer, bagel, two hard-boiled eggs with my NEW favorite spice Tajin, which is chili peppers, sea salt and lime. What’s on your plate?

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

bohemian

The worn cover of Carole Kings 1971 Grammy Award album “Tapestry”

bohemian

So, a while back a friend said she could finally afford to buy that bohemian coat she wanted.  The use of the word “bohemian” spurred memories. I’ve considered myself a bohemian ever since my aunt gave me a turquoise & silver ring when I was seven.  My aunt lived the bohemian lifestyle and getting that ring from her, in my simple-kid mind, meant I was in the club. My contributions to the movement were growing out my long straight black hair, wearing a bandana when I mowed the lawn and, as often as possible, sit on our couch in an incorrect manner.  

Circle of pipe vibe

Before the pale blues and mauves of the ’80s made their appearance into my childhood, I was surrounded by beatnik leftovers from my parent’s first home; my mother’s early ’60s style contrasted with her sister’s  ’70s experience melting together into a sweet avocado green.  Of course, I had no idea what either of those lifestyles was about! Our living room was crowned by a 3-foot round metal, astrological chart wheel hanging above a black and white leopard print flop couch, adjacent to a row of mahogany stained bookshelves and dad’s tobacco pipe cady. In my room, Barbie was living clean in her shoebox and lego “Dream House”.  Literature in the home included encyclopedias, LIFE Book collections, sci-fi books and poetry by Kahlil Gibran.  Music was predominately 60’s jazz albums, Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy, and Carole King.

But it wasn’t my stuff, it was the life and home that my parents built for us.  It was warm and happy.  As an adult, how do I recreate a modern art of living? Somewhere along the way, I lost it.  I need to get out of survival mode and find my faux-bohemian again.

Get Small
For $110 you can own this view, hang it on any wall, “Mount Corcoran”, by Albert Bierstadt

Turn those dreams of the high retired life down a couple notches.  First, be honest with yourself.  Instead of a dream retirement cabin on the lake, you can be just as happy in a studio apartment that’s 30-minutes away from a lake.   Just visit the lake.  You don’t need the whole lake. This isn’t the 50’s.  No lake for you.

The west coast of Washington and Oregon offer a high quality of life, clean air, water including water in the shape of lakes that we can all visit.  In WA we have all four seasons, mild winters, besides the scratchy track of volcanoes down the middle of the Cascades, we’re doing alright…except for the cost of living.  According to the site costofliving.net the cost of living in Washington is higher than the national average.  They report,

“Our cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Washington is cheaper than the US average. A cost of living index above 100 means Washington, Washington is more expensive.  Washington’s cost of living is 118.7.  Housing is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference.  The median home price in Washington is $381,300.”

D.I.Y. Life

How do you add quality to your life on a tight budget?  Of course, defining “quality” is person-specific.  In this economy, in this city, I am trying to live a good life but I feel like most efforts bring me down, and I am starting to take it personally. This American Life has it out for me.  I pissed it off somewhere along the line and it’s not giving me anything, no living income, no happily ever after, no satisfaction except in a sunrise, no joy but in my neighbors blooming trees, no love but when that orange cat comes by and rubs its cheek against my doorway, no peace but the ocean that tells me it’s always there—it goes out, but it will come back, it always comes back.  No glory but a rainbow around the moon and my childhood friend the Big Dipper and Orion chasing each other in the sky. The world is a big and resourceful place if you are a tiny red ant working with a million other clones.  It’s all about perspective.

photo credit http://pyreaus.com/inspired_manifestation/2015/pyreaus_inspired_manifestation_It%27s_an_Ant%27s_World_Order_Discipline_Unique_Perspective.htm

 

 

Spoken Free Verse: Bowl of Epiphany

photo credit: Dish of Apples by Paul Cézanne,1876–77, Digital Photo File Name: DT1939.tif
Online Publications Edited By Steven Paneccasio for TOAH 12-18-2015

 

As I recover from a concussion ( please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more ) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year.  Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note.  Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me.  Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance.  Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.

The third poem I want to share with you is “Bowl of Epiphany”, recorded June 20, 2018, while walking the interurban.  An epiphany is an experience of a sudden and striking realization.  June was the month I realized it was time to stop producing radio programs and open myself up to something new.  At the time I didn’t know what that was.  In August, just two months after recording this poem the answer appeared.  Transitions are difficult. Building a new life is scary, but what the hell else are you goin’ to do? If you don’t move, you’re dead.

I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem.  I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=17rmbLxDv09VRKimooTiip8RAX4ci-R_4

 

Bowl of Epiphany

by Shannon P. Laws

I think in life it’s not just one big apple
I think it’s many apples throughout a lifetime
and the apple I’ve been munching on for eight years
I’ve reached its core

I could eat the core
put the seeds inside of me
maybe an apple tree will grow in my stomach
I don’t think it will

I’ve reached the core of it
and I’ll toss it
I’ll toss it out into a field where hopefully
time will dig it into the ground and it’ll grow a new tree there
and I’ll look for a new piece of fruit that I can eat
it doesn’t have to be an apple
maybe it will be pear,
a nectarine
a hybrid

but every fruit has its pit
has its seed
has its rind
and they all end

there’s a cycle
it’s the swirl of the universe
it’s the way our shells grow on the beach
at the bottom of the ocean

and I’ve reached the pit, I think
I believed I reached it
I’m ready for something new and I’m scared
—scared as hell

but everything moves and changes
rain falls
turns into river
turns into ocean
turns into mist
turns into the sky
it turns into a cloud
and more clouds
until it becomes rain again

everything changes
and evolves
why wouldn’t people

such an easy concept

I’m going to climb that mountain
an easy thing to say
doing it is different
I’m going to walk
across the desert, it will only take a few weeks
no its gonna take you forty years
you need to learn a lesson
you need to change
you need to grow
parts of you need to die

life is a bowl of cherries
it’s a bowl of apples
you eat them one by one

 

##

Interview: Into The Arts KPNW-DB

Click to listen to the KPNW “Into the Arts” interview
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cvnhN–xZWiaQ5CvrYovce_EhjuOaIgh

After announcing that I was not returning to community radio production this fall, Jeannie Gilbert, station manager of KPNW-DB digital radio, invited me over to her studio to share my swan song.

In 2011 I woke up put a turtleneck on and was like, “I’m a freakin’ mess!” That same month I started volunteering at 102.3 KMRE SPARK Radio, broadcasting community radio out of the Museum of Electrical Invention, hoping community work would straighten me out. I used the moniker “Boosie” to hide from judgmental ex-in-laws, and *boom* history was made. This was the profile photo for my FB radio presence for seven years:

Boosie 2011-2018, RIP

Its 2018 and I must admit my life is better for the experience. Want to know more? Take me out for coffee or drinks and I’ll share all my secrets. Until then, keep it real…

“After seven years of producing radio programs, I have decided to say goodnight to this chapter in my life. Thank you KMRE, KZAX, and KPNW for supporting my work. Thank you all for listening, and a special thank you to the hundreds of guests who have lifted me up and inspired me and my listeners over the years.”
-Shannon Laws, producer/host Chickadee Productions

If you have any questions or want to listen to your favorite program offline please contact Shannon Laws on FB messenger or via her writer’s page.

Samples of Bellingham Art Beat and other programs have transferred over to her writer’s website located here: https://shannonplawswriter.com/

Thank you again for your support and stay beautiful Bellingham! ❤️

 

##

Poem: Broken Branch

Fall by street panda, photo credit- BuzzFeed

 

Broken Branch

by Shannon P. Laws

 

There is a moment
in most lives when
that old dog proves useless
the rhododendron branch cannot
hold the weight and we fall
The first fall in many years

When was the last time I fell
A gopher hole in the grassy field
A twisted root at Arroyo Creek
A frozen puddle near the store

This time
my foot
my balance
my judgment
failed

It will not happen again

but it will

Three times after 70
and they lock you up

A body slaps the Earth
gravity reminds it where it’s from
A glimpse of the end of the skin’s journey
destine humbleturned desire to return to sand

If I wait long enough
I will soon feed the roots
that tripped me

 

 

 

Poetry: Christopher Titus Save Me!

The following is an embellished account based on a real experience. Inspired by the poem “the 12 hour night” by Charlies Bukowski from his book “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”

 

Christopher Titus Save Me!

By Shannon Laws

“…our bodies were worn, our spirits whipped. there was a sense of unreality.”
the 12 hour night, Charles Bukowski

 

I found myself in middle age working the graveyard shift as a deep cleaner at a casino, and somehow there seemed to be no way out.

I was smothered by
Waist-less woman
in high heels
butts in the ashtrays
butts in the seats
baseball hats on empty heads
guts spilling over large buckles
Work boots, flip flops
bring in an endless
amount of pine needles
and waffle-mud cakes
Everything looks too tight
especially the Tuesday Tweakers.

I am drained here
my life is ending
but Christopher Titus is coming
in February. He smiles at me from the poster’s place
on each side of each four-sided pillar and near the door.
“As seen on Comedy Central!” “Get your tickets now!”

Christopher is coming!  His spiky blonde hair and blue eyes hold life.  He is my savior in an ash covered world. As I sweep up pieces of paper, fingernails, toothpicks, squeezed out limes from the casino’s clown colored floor, I imagine sweet Christopher busting through the main entrance on a white steed
shining
he is shining
glowing with a bright future
a future he offers me if only
I wash off my Cinderella ashes
take his hand and leave this place
Oh, how he glows!

He talks to me—
Why are you here? C’mon, you can do better
You’re wiping up blood and vomit from slot machines.  Your new skill is how to reach into the bathroom garbage to avoid a hidden syringe,
-and the SHRIMP on Friday Fish Day! All that half-chewed shrimp clogging up your vacuum!  C’mon!
look at ME
look how happy I am
join me in this happiness

I was so tired, so dazed, my anguished mixed with hopelessness.  I saw myself fifteen years from now, hunched over the sweeper, being called darlin’ and sugar, taking empty glasses once full of spirits, offering clean ashtrays.

I talked sense to my Titan
This isn’t so bad.
I’ve learned much more than biohazard clean up.
I’ve studied this species of human
that gambles.  You can learn a lot from the way they put out their cigarettes. Like footprints in the snow, you know what animal walked by

The Texan—punches the butt straight down, it stands erect
The Cowboy— rolled and smashed, falls to the side
The Camper—sits at the same machine for hours, same butt brand overfills ashtray
The Britney— pink lipstick on the butt, usually a camper
Ladybird— smokes the very thin lady cigarette, flutters around from machine to machine
Still, my Titan smiles

Then one night I stood up for myself and left
My last day is this Friday, I told my shift manager on Thursday.
You found something else?
Yes
yes, I did.
Fresh air and dignity
It pays nothing

On my last day I hand in my badge, I returned my uniforms, left my locker unlocked,
Christopher Titus had come and gone
A new act was plastered on the pillars
I turned and walked away
into the night
and my life was touched by
magic.

and it still
is.

 


Want to learn more about Christopher Titus? Of course, you do.

https://www.christophertitus.com/

Christopher Titus, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Poem II: Epiphany Me

This is the other poem I read at the 3rd annual World Peace Poets Read-In.  At this event I like to be the last poet to read.  These Read-In’s go for about three to six hours, so, a bit of humor at the end is helpful.  My prose poem “Epiphany Me” uses crude language but it is a down-to-earth account of me trying to figure life out AND find some peace (and quiet).  It was also a blast to perform.  Enjoy- SPL

 

Sherlock-Epiphany
Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC One’s “Sherlock” having an epiphany.

 

Epiphany Me

One time I pee’d at the same time my upstairs neighbor turned on his shower.

Another time, I sneezed at the same moment a car backfired.

Yesterday, while walking I farted loudly, normally noticeable, except it was the same moment an engineer blew the train’s whistle.

One time, while walking along the sidewalk,  I had an epiphany at the exact instant a low-speed rear-end collision occurred.  It was just violent enough that I forgot what I had just realized.

With intense drive and meditation I tried to recall that epiphany to further my journey on the globe.

 

When it came around—

When I was so close to realizing its identity, again, a child fell and cried causing such a commotion that I forgot—AGAIN!

 

I pee’d.

I sneezed,

I farted, anything to reenact the path to minor enlightenment a third time.

And then it happened.  At the same exact instant a breeze from the south kicked at my neighbors wind chime.

A crow called

then

silence.

 

 

 

 

Poem: Lining of My Mind

 

Vouet,_Simon_-_Father_Time_Overcome_by_Love,_Hope_and_Beauty_-_1627
“Father Time Overcome by Love, Hope and Beauty” by Simon Vouet, 1627

 

The future comes to me

quickly

premonition stands outside the window, framed to be seen

stands politely ‘til the door opens

the right door

at the right time

 

Tea or coffee?

A blanket for your lap?

It’s cold outside where time weathers

as a pacific swirl over the peninsula,

hooked on peaks.

 

cold. still.

 

It rains in my house.

The fire is out.

Wet paper see-throughs to wooden table.

Drips creep across the low areas, finds them all

—both the dark and the hidden.

 

I’m swept up into this ungraspable moment Future came to visit.

 

Somewhere close by

another turns the channel,

a person adds soap to the wash,

a cat sighs in the window

all in silent exclamation.

 

What we desire more than seasons or weather

is the comfort of being a stranger, more so with ourselves.

It’s better to not know.

So I wait.

Wait for something that vanishes as soon as it arrives.

It’s appearance not unlike mowed lawn

—the stalk of the dandelion snapped.

Its there.  We know it.

Whether we walk on it or not.

The merciless motor hums in the distance and every so often

a breeze from the south carries the leaky-green odor of grass.

 

 

 

-by Shannon P. Laws

#

 

Poem: The Reading

 

mila plaickner garden party
Art Credit: Mila Plaickner, “Garden Party”

 

The moon rises

above an arched gate.

he reads poems

in front of stiff-tall bamboo

near the unfinished garden shed.

we sit in dining chairs

aligned with the patio bricks.

open-mouth-smiles perfume the air

with beer and burgundy.

squirrels rush the branches—

applaud too soon.

A vine past its bloom

crawls on a trellis,

the root appears dead

yet the live ends

are laden with leaf.

 

-by Shannon P. Laws

Breakfast at Harris’s

photo credit: Trip Advisor
photo credit: Trip Advisor

Happy moments.  They show up in the most surprising places, such as a window seat  Harris Avenue Café in Fairhaven.  I’m an inventory taker.  Every so often I take a look at my life and take inventory, see how I’m doing in relationship to my goals.  The last two years have been disappointing on many fronts.  At the same time, however, many personal breakthroughs have accumulated new ground.  Navel gazing at its best.

So, I’m treating myself to breakfast.  There’s no food in my kitchen and I haven’t eaten since Thursday afternoon.  This week I had two successful poetry performances and, well, I’m taking myself out to celebrate.  The plate arrives.  Eggs Toulouse with smoked salmon, Harris’s special spin on Eggs Benedict.  I order with fruit in place of potatoes.  Sitting pretty on the plate, red strawberries, green kiwi, yellow pineapple, orange melon sliced and arranged like they want to be painted.  My only brush, knife and fork. This is nothing I would make for myself and I don’t mind paying for someone else to put it all together.

The art of eating.

Enjoying the presentation.

Pausing for appreciation.

I seldom eat out.  I am thankful.

Picture 391 Harris CafeI have my 16 ounce mocha to my right. It sits there asking to be stirred.  I imagine a dark heavy layer of chocolate below the shots and milk. What a beautiful drink.  A book I’m three chapters in lays open on the left. Brightly painted tourist in sandals, slacks or khaki shorts and golf visors walk around looking for a nibble.  Groups of them walk in all asking for a table “outside in the garden.”  I’m inside, sitting in the window.  It’s almost nine, the sun is still behind 17th avenue; I’m safe for another two hours.

Breathing in the atmosphere, the happiness almost knocks me over—My God, I’m HAPPY.  I’m so freakin’ happy!  What a magical place this is.

This table, this view, this town, this moment—right now—just right now. I’ve always dreamed of doing this day in Europe.  Now I challenge France to come up with a better day.

Benny’s at dawn!

Whoever’s been praying for me, thank you.  This morning a portion of joy has manifest.

***

Harris Avenue Cafe  http://www.harrisavecafe.com/