A foam washed wreckage to shore breath-bubbles pop in the thin light
Early beachcomber fights the gulls for a freshly delivered treasure
The minute before dawn you grab it’s back Carry it to your kitchen for a slow boil
With a crack, a glut of juices spill out Lips suck at the muscle and warm butter
An ear to the empty skin echoes the sea
What inspired you to write this?
a friend at my monthly poetry discussion groups asked
Well, I heard a line from some poem at an open mic. It went something like, he sucks the juices from your claws, eats the muscles from her claws…
I started to think about how the line could be used in a domestic violence poem about allowing another person to take your strongest parts, your claws, and devour them, you know, boil them for dinner
That sounds like a great poem!
Ya. It could have been, but I couldn’t get it to work.
The right words didn’t come
So, WHY is the sea in the empty skin and whose skin is it?
The sound of the sea is in all things born in the sea.
In this story, it is a song that sings the memory of the crab
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 first one I present, “Late for Overtime”, was recorded September 16, 2017. I was working a double shift with a six-hour layover. That looks like a swing shift 2:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. then work the morning shift, 5:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. I was waiting for a carpool to pick me up 4:30 a.m. at the same place they dropped me off the day before. However, my ride was running late, so, I am late for overtime. It was that warm September morning, on the corner of Larrabee and somewhere, when inspiration hit me upside the head.
BTW, I open the Google links in Music Player for Google Drive. you can listen as you read if you want. Please let me know what you think.
I’m sitting on the curb on the corner of Larrabee
and some street I can’t see the sign for
It’s almost 5:30 in the morning and the sun
is just coming up over the cascades
Its paint brush is changing the sky from
a charcoal gray to a very, very dark blue
Fingernail moon is just misty just fuzzy,
right almost out of sight behind a thin layer of clouds
Cold rushes up over the hill
hits my back
It’s the evening
Afraid of the light
afraid of the warmth
afraid of the sun
It’s always running
its always running west
away from the sun
The air was so still just a moment ago and now
after seeing that sliver of light over the hills
it picked up and it
rushes itself down the
ravine, towards the water
towards Bellingham Bay
It flosses the town in a silent scream
There’s sprinklers in the background and I’m wondering…
I’m wondering why I never sat on
a street corner
in my neighborhood
at 5;30 in the morning before
The sounds and the smells of the air
the change in the air—is refreshing!
It’s better than any season
because it happens every morning
The tall cedars dropping down with
their question mark branches
Look like a golden retriever’s tail
I know they’re hiding owls in there
Maybe they’re looking at me
wondering if I’ll scurry
across the street
turn in a mouse
At any moment the birds will wake up
The first bit of light will just hit the lids
of the sleeping birds
They’ll be the first to announce it—
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
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!
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 email@example.com. Winners receive $25 cash and a $25 gift certificate to the Community Co-op.
609 MARKET ST, KIRKLAND, WA
August 19, 2017
“Don’t miss a-sure-to-be-memorable evening featuring some excellent Bellingham-area spoken word artists and poets on Saturday, August 19, 2017. Our feature readers include: , Shannon Laws, Gary Wade and Dobbie Reese Norris. I expect several other Whatcom, Snohomish and King County poets to be sharing things on our open mic… and of course YOU too! (just bring a poem or two – or very very short prose piece to read and sign up on the open mic list!) Bring a friend!”
Earlier this month Rena Priest, a poet, writer, producer and community activist, interviewed me for her new radio program “Writer’s Shout Out”. Her one-hour interview program takes a look at the life of a writer and the things that inspire them.
This program aired on the non-profit, community station KZAX-LP FM 94.9 last week.
It was a fun time!