Day 31: Get Yer Boots On

Shower thoughts: If someone offered to pay for my food and rent for the next 18 years, I’d do anything they ask of me. But I complained every time I took the trash out while living at my parent’s house.

Are you ready to get a little deep today?

There is so much information floating around right now about CORVID-19.  Speculation, opinion, science, federal government BS, even emails from credit card companies, and insurance companies advising on “the best ways” to keep healthy during the pandemic.  (Wow-suddenly you care about my health?)  For news and information, I’m sticking with the KNOWNS.  I push updates from my county’s Department of Health, the CDC, emails from my personal doctor, listen/watch NPR, Democracy Now, and ABC Nightly News for flavor.

Yesterday I stumbled across an article that was a delight to read.  They say there is nothing more powerful than the right word spoken at the right time.  I felt a comradery with Nguyen’s insights.  We are of the same cloth; not the same caliber, mind you.  He is a writer who also has a burden to write.  He ends the article with this sweet truth, “I write not only because it brings me pleasure, but also out of fear — fear that if I do not tell a new story, I cannot truly live.”   He is Viet Thanh Nguyen, Contributing Opinion Writer, the article was in the New York Times, Sunday, 4/10/2020.

Here is the beef of it:
“Perhaps the sensation of imprisonment during quarantine might make us imagine what real imprisonment feels like. There are, of course, actual prisons where we have warehoused human beings who have no relief from the threat of the coronavirus. There are refugee camps and detention centers that are de facto prisons. There is the economic imprisonment of poverty and precariousness, where a missing paycheck can mean homelessness, where illness without health insurance can mean death.”

Read the full 2 minute read here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-america.html?fbclid=IwAR0C6wlR25MuZjOANDRmn6bQ4Vn4gcvRRNTOPzZ3LwHlM02F8o5y_tVC88s

My point: carving out a life was difficult for the middle, lower & poverty classes BEFORE the pandemic.  


This morning I wanted to revisit a poem I wrote waaaay back in 2001.  I don’t even see it as a poem, it is more of a journal really.  When I read it today I can still feel the agony and helplessness in the words.  It’s a window to a time in my life when I should have felt satisfied.  I was living the American Dream, but the price was too high; the burden too heavy.  Following the examples of my parents, yet it was all wrong.  What was different?

So, it is the late ’90s and as a young couple, we were delighted to finally achieve the American Dream: home & mortgage, cars & car payments, kids & kid maintenance, and the full-time jobs that pay JUST enough for it all.  Then…it happens.  It sneaks up on you, slowly, taking 10, 15 years for the poison to surface.  You wake up one day on the freeway heading home in a smothering hot car, stuck in a 3 mile back up—a hamster in a cage running on its wheel going nowhere.
You are woke.  You are pissed.

Today.  Today I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and my life is very simple.  I’m 20 minutes from work.  The cost of living 25 years later is higher, wages are stagnant, and I’m hustling.  I’m working two jobs, both essential during the pandemic, plus a little freelancing when I can.  So…guess what, I’m happy. I am satisfied. I am grounded.  I am full of peace.  Don’t get me wrong, if I am laid off it will devastate me financially.  My savings were absorbed to help get through the 2008 Great Recession.  ‘Effin sucks.  It is difficult to accept the limit of control, difficult to acknowledge that obtaining “things” and social status are empty ventures.
However, the true definition of maturity—and this is key—
I CAN STILL BE HAPPY.

Alarm

Watching the clock
waiting for time to
catch up with me:
Breakfast time.
Traffic time.
Working time.
Lunch time
More working time
Leaving time …finally here.

Time drags along like a leashed cat forced on a walk
Coming home late the house dark
My kitchen smells like the dinner missed
Opening a window a breeze floats in
a scent like rain on the blacktop
dust and wet at the same moment

Pouring myself into bed next to one already asleep a new rhythm starts
Breath bellows in and out
Fresh replacing exhausted
In a room absent of fluorescent
Moon glowing through slits of blinds
patterns across the nightstand
where the alarm clock sits
Not a clock only nor an alarm, but both
It’s red eyes watching as I toggle its hated button
Alarm clock: sound and visual aide that announces my next destination
A location I’ve purchased no ticket for but a price has been paid

Eyelids close
Mind opens
Dreams dreamt, too quick to absorb
ALARM!
ALARM!
Time races out of the gate!
I am the slow one now
5 a.m. comes too early
Quickly get on the carousel!
Around I go into another day, following the sun, while wishing for the moon

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Credits

*Laws, Shannon. Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy . Chickadee Productions. Kindle Edition.

My First Villanelle: Towards Harris

desk wSwq
Found sticky note

But first a note from my desk…

 

This villanelle came to me during my first week at a new job on a cold, dark, foggy February morning.  With steel toe boots on and a budgeted $7 for travel and lunch in my jean pocket, I search for the bus stop on Harris to catch the 401 leaving at 6:30 a.m.  Last year I temped at SEVEN factories, now I walk towards number eight. The fog is another unknown-known waiting for me.

It felt like the ghosts of Fairhaven were dancing with me as I hiked through the fog, perhaps even poking fun at the site of a person up too early, with the weight of the world on her shoulders.  Ghost have no weight.  They do not need bus tickets, boots or money. Lazy-ass ghosts.

The overwhelming sense that I was NOT alone in that fog bank, spurred an “Our Father” out of me… and now I have a poem.

This is my first villanelle.  Think I’m gonna write another.

Thanks for your visit with me as I travel the crust of the orb,
~SPL

 


ghost o1_500Towards Harris

by Shannon Laws

One block before the dawn, heaven hides the fright
Ghosts match-step with me in curbside play
My breath sends a prayer into the air

I stride into Fairhaven’s ambered light
Behind me stirs a promise for the day
My lips form a poem too loaded to bear

Toward the factory stand steel and might
A slit of red that seeks the bay
My breath sends a prayer into the air

Ancestor songs sing “Run, freeze and fight!
Be a footed fish not a whale of clay.”
My lips form a poem too loaded to bear

Eyes search each block for tints of light
Seek sticky hope to fix and stay
My breath sends a prayer into the air

Blue ribbon peeks beneath band of night
Black evergreens promise the fog away
My breath sends a prayer into the air
My lips form a poem too loaded to bear

 

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