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

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South Beach

This poem “South Beach” was written back in 2010 and later published in my first poetry chapbook “Madrona Grove” in 2013. It is what some would call a “process poem” where the writer uses the art of poetry to process a real event in their life. Of all the poems in the book THIS is the number one poem that generates an email, phone call or a conversation to me from the reader. I’m glad this poem has touched so many. When I read it, even 11 years later, a part of me is back on that beach. I can still hear the waves, I remember the eagle. That was the year of “no more.”

Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island, Washington state. South Beach (upper left)
Photo credit: https://mikereidphotography.com/ Please visit his website.

South Beach
by Shannon Laws

Often, we would walk South Beach together
That long large-pebbled beach
along the Salish Sea
on the island’s west side

Short, salt water waves
lap up against the shore there,
constant rhythm set by the wind,
like a slow rock tumbler
sifting for agates

Brown cliffs of San Juan
barely hold a road on top itself
Large crumbles of dirt clots
lay at its feet predicting its fate

Hard soles are needed to walk this beach
The stones just large enough to
aggravate the arches as you walk,
Hamstrings pull heavy with each step

Once in a while,
whenever it wants to,
a large eagle can be found
perched on beach wood

He owns that beach and all who pass
His royal brow gives no doubt

This is my favorite beach, you tell me, one foggy morning

We tried again to walk together
I walked ’til I reached the Eagle King,
you continued alone into the mist
Mystery always favored over familiar
I sit and watch you heavy step away

Alone you go into the fog
leaving me to sit with the eagle
You continue until a low cloud
consumes you from my sight

I imagine you reach the end
where the cliffs give way to the shore
and the landscape bends around
to the fields at Cattle point
I saw you in my mind
alone and happy with your thoughts
and the sea

I sit and watch,
You walk and ponder

A year later,
You sat and watched
as I walked off the island
You let me go that year
just like I let you
walk the beach
alone



Visit my Amazon Author page to purchase or download the book today: https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Laws/e/B00MCYTUPI%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Introduction to Discovery

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



Pinkie Crack

When the Lockdown began I tried writing on my website every day to…well, I’m not sure why. Perhaps I was trying to document the experience first hand or maybe connect with my neighbors or contribute something to the whole event. After about a month and a half I had to rest. We all did really, didn’t we? We rested another year! I am embarrassed to admit I really, genuinely thought the Lockdown would last 30 days and life would go back to normal. It was my mom and the more mature folks in my social circle who predicted it would be a year before folks returned to the office or to school, “a year if we’re lucky” they said.

Washington State went into Lockdown March 2020. Our state governor has declared beginning July 1st 2021, wearing masks in public will be optional, not mandatory. *Some folks have already stopped wearing masks after being fully vaccinated. It’s a little confusing right now isn’t?* I have personally decided to wear my mask until July 1st. However, last week I had an “Oh shit!” moment walking into Lowes Hardware store. About halfway down an isle I saw a person with a mask on, and realized I forgot to put my mask on. I just freakin’ walked into the store barefaced like I had no respect for all human life on the planet. What the hell? I touched my face to confirm and sure enough–NO MASK. However on that fine June day, I noticed fairly quickly that half of the patrons and clerks were NOT wearing masks. (?!?!) Was I safe from social condemnation? Yes, from HALF of the people apparently. “OK, so today I’ll be one of THOSE people.” I joked to myself. I went directly to the isles I needed, checked out at self-pay and hustled out of there.

Can I just say how exhausted I am of all this. One year and three months of all this. I’m using hand sanitizer throughout my day, so much so that occasionally my skin cracks. Has this happen to you? If you are fortunate enough to have access to an ample supply of hand sanitizer and/or you’ve been a front line worker the whole 15 months I imagine you’re skin has also cracked.

Here is a picture of a recent crack on a fold of my skin. (BTW, a very difficult angle for a photo) Under my right pinkie is a new “line”. A couple of years ago I studied palmistry for a story. I knew this area of the hand is about marriage. As a middle-aged divorced woman I giggled a bit. Was a new marriage being forged into my future or perhaps another being wiped out? Either way it required hydrogen peroxide to heal. My mind traveled down that thought a bit, farther than necessary as I often do… How wonderful it would be if troubled couples could simply dip themselves in a healing solution to fix their relationships. Many arguments stem from past hurts, hurts and calluses that were formed before the marriage began. We sometimes bring those unresolved events into our new relationships. As I date a little these last few years I find the most attractive dates are those who are actively working on self improvement. In your 40’s and 50’s it’s time for a “refresh” I think, whether you are single or in-couple. You are no longer who were at 22, or even 32. What do you think?

Here is a meme for my mood today. I’ll try not to take myself too seriously. Hope you have a super day. -Shannon


*Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

Poetry Club Talks…Margaret Atwood Part 3

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-v9aqy-fc959f

Topic: Margaret Atwood’s “Dearly”
Host: Betty
Poems: “Dearly”, “Betrayal”, “Oh Children”, “Emptiness”
Recorded: February 27, 2021

Atwood Four Poems

Poetry Club discusses four more poems of the newly released collection “Dearly” in Part 3 of Poetry Club Talks…Margaret Atwood.

We acknowledge the returning pattern to environmental questions that demand answers, the silence in between the molecules, and enjoy the way she examines love relationships.  Poetry Club has enjoyed discussing this poet’s new work.  We appreciate the sounds, stories, and images Atwood brings to the page.  Pick up a copy today.

BIO

“Margaret Eleanor Atwood, CC OOnt CH FRSC (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist, and inventor. Since 1961, she has published 18 books of poetry, 18 novels, 11 books of non-fiction, nine collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, and two graphic novels, as well as a number of small press editions of both poetry and fiction. Atwood has won numerous awards and honors for her writing, including the Booker Prize (twice), Arthur C. Clarke Award, Governor General’s Award, Franz Kafka Prize, Princess of Asturias Awards, and the National Book Critics and PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Awards.[2] A number of her works have been adapted for film and television.” -Wikipedia

Please visit her site to purchase “Dearly” http://margaretatwood.ca/
All poems are copyright and owned by Margaret Atwood
sited: Atwood, Margaret. Dearly. McClelland & Stewart, 2020.

Drafts and Thoughts

Mary Oliver writes in her poem “Angels”,

“The whole business of what’s reality and what isn’t has never been solved and probably never will be. So I don’t care to be too definite about anything. I have a lot of edges called Perhaps and almost nothing you can call Certainty.”

Blue Horses: Poems, by Mary Oliver, Penguin Books, 2016.

With that being said, perhaps…

when gods make love, they create nebulas

that’s a lot of LOVE! Photo credit: https://www.skyimagelab.com/

Below are two poem drafts to share today. I’d love some feedback if you’re up for it.
I was in Village Books the other day and saw my book “Fallen” on the shelf. It came out in 2017, four years ago. Hmmmmm… If I were to guess, I think I have one more poetry book in me, possibly by 2022. I hope it is picked up and published traditionally, and I return to the open mic circuit to launch the book properly. My first two books were self-published, “Fallen” was my first traditionally published. Thank you Independent Writers Studio, of Bellingham, WA.
Self-publishing has its rewards, but I cannot emphasize enough the power of traveling the area with your book in hand, meeting your readers/followers, in person. I wonder, and am hesitant to declare, that a self-published book not advertised, given away to your family and friends only, is, generally speaking, a waste of paper. The written word has power. Why hide that potential under your bed? Share your work. Try it. You’ll like it.

1/16/21
It is a new year. I write the number and it feels the same as 2020
The new-yearness will not appear until the end of February
after a late Northwest snow
The old year, the previous skin, will hang on a bit and fog my eyes
My hand refused to write a “1”
IT IS TIME
pun intended to tell me
it is time
The styles do not change, technology crawls
very few items in my home could tell me what decade I’m in
if I had the gift to slip about time

If you take a person from 1880 and place them in 1980
The 1980s would appear to be a different world entirely
But take a person from 1998 to 2021…not too many changes
All the advancements and we simply have smaller, thinner phones
Did anyone ask for a smaller phone?
We die of cancer, disease, starvation, and war
To answer the call, our technicians and scientists
developed a Fitbit and placed TV in our pockets
to track our racing heartbeats while watching the news

WARM WINTER
The leaves scratch the air
as the frozen drops of winter tap my window
in the middle of the night
they want in
to take over my home
return it back to soil
I am sure of it
The potted plants by the glass
seduce the storm
arms beg it to set them free
while a drizzle of rooftop runoff
piddles down a leaking drain pipe
Even a worm comes out to comment
on the weather war
High and humble
worn and cold
the snow shovel
stands at attention
in a dark corner
ready to fight

#

Memes of my feels today. Thank you for your visit.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Keep writing. -Shannon

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Day 35: Whats Bad for the Hive, is Bad for the Bee

Shower Thoughts: An “unlimited minutes per month” phone plan really only gives you 44,640 minutes per month at best.

What are some changes to your daily routine since lockdown?  Are there additions to your diet?  Perhaps you stopped doing something or perhaps started buying some new items?
I am eating more immune-building foods.  Adding fermented and spicy foods to my diets, such as drinking Kombucha and adding chili peppers, garlic or hot sauce to dishes (but not my oatmeal).  Also, I stopped shaving my legs.  Yep.  I went right from no-shave winter into no-shave lockdown.  If I shaved right now I could donate my hair to a wig charity.  No lie.  Werewolf time = freedom.

Before the lockdown, way back in October last year, I joined a monthly Stoic discussion group.  The group is hosted by a gentleman who applies stoicism to his daily life to help process his epilepsy.  Absolutely stimulating and thought-provoking discussions!  I really enjoy learning about the ways to apply stoicism to my everyday.  So, to help keep my mind focused on this new way of thinking, I signed up for a newsletter dailystoic.comThe message this morning jumped off the page!  The author is responding to Christians in the bible belt continuing to attend church because “the blood of Jesus will protect me.”  Allow me to share a portion of it with you:

A Stoic is rational enough to look at the numbers and realize that most of us are likely to survive the coronavirus, if we do in fact get it. Most cases are very mild. If you’re a healthy, relatively young person, chances are you’re going to be fine. Who knows, maybe believing in Jesus will insulate you further. But that’s not why we’re locked down, why we’ve inflicted trillions of dollars of losses to the global economy in an effort to “flatten the curve.” We’re doing these things to protect the most vulnerable amongst us—people for whom the mortality rate can be up to ten times higher. It’s to protect people with preexisting conditions, people battling cancer, people who are recovering from a lung transplant, people with only one kidney, and our elders from whom we would be remiss not to take this opportunity to learn from.

Remember what Marcus Aurelius said: What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee. A society that is callous and indifferent to the weak and the vulnerable destroys itself. A society that betrays its elders—even if those elders have been indifferent and callous themselves—betrays itself. *

Here is my Monday mood in meme form.  It doesn’t have a pun, but does it REALY need one?  Thank you for visiting.  Stay safe! -Shannon

 


reference:

dailystoic.com for 4/27/2020.  Read the complete article here-

Daily Stoic

Poem: Why I Can’t Have Good Things

Why I Can’t Have Good Things

By Shannon P. Laws

I overwatered my plant yesterday
The liquid flooded over my fail proof double-layered system
a concave plastic trivet atop a faded Christmas cookie plate
adopted decades ago at a bake sale from a forgotten charity

It was hot all this week and the dirt gave up its moisture
even in the darkest places
In my hurry to do good, I underestimated the effect
a deluge of water has on exhausted soil

I forgot all those moments that life tried
to teach me to go easy
Perhaps my lips remembered the effect
of a much-needed kiss the way a kiss
moves its way around down to the very tips of me
—and I let it pour
I let it pour and sit
and now warped wood wiggles
in protest over the zeal of a kiss

 

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Event: You Love Me, You Love Me Not

You’re invited…

Flyer by SPL (my inner child) Please print, color me and share

Save the Date!

This event is an early 5:00 p.m. set designed for you and your sweetie to enjoy a special day together, a passionate spark to get things started.  Also, a great time for anyone who is a fan of love and wants to support the Alt Library and local artist.  (I think we’re talkin’ about YOU)  You’ll hear from poets Eric Kosarot and James Bertolino.  The featured poet is Shannon P. Laws who will be reading select love poems accompanied by Greg Sherman on upright bass.  This is also the first Bellingham reading from her new book “Fallen”, 2017.

Come early Kathy McKeever, Urban Cauldron, will be available to read your LOVE tarot 4:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Kathy is a professional, long time tarot reader and teacher of tarot.  She is an expert in the art of divination.

Tickets are suggested $5 or donation, tips encouraged for tarot reader
Books by authors will be on hand for purchase

James Bertolino’s poetry has received recognition through a Book-of-the-Month Club Poetry Fellowship, the Discovery Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two Quarterly Review of Literature book publication awards, and the Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize for Washington State Poets. He has had 12 volumes of poetry published, the most recent being Ravenous Bliss: New and Selected Love Poems, 2014, from MoonPath Press.  http://www.jamesbertolino.com/

 

Tongue in Ink

by Shannon P. Laws

The best poems are not written in ink but by the tongue
Spoken into the air never finding paper
Touched by the mist of breath against your neck
Said in the dark rooms where lovers meet
 
Not at all recorded nor syllables numbered
But art form just the same
Once activated and released the words are all lost
Left to moments that linger
Holding each other in sweaty embrace
As if the sheets themselves are sentences
  

Poem: Transmission

Recycled spring mattress used to train a vine. Old springs have many reuses in the garden and home.

 

Transmission

by Shannon Laws

 

Deep transmissions travel into the springs

thumbs at the bass wires as you whisper low

Pluck those strings beneath us pulled tight

I’ll listen with my skin

as it vibrates across my back

bounces around the bones of me

Sing to me all night