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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Ghost in the Hall

Do you have dreams about the home you grew up in? I can see my childhood home in my mind. The typical three bedroom west coast rambler; living area on one side and a looong hallway to the bedrooms on the other. As a young kid I was pretty sure the place was haunted. The creaky floor didn’t help.

Ghost in the Hall
by Shannon Laws
Odd Little Things, published 2014

When I was a child A Skeleton Ghost would walk
The bedroom hall of our home  
Afraid of the dark I would sleep with the light on
My door open just enough to keep out the trouble
Ghosts are everywhere when you are four.  

Often the ghost would wiggle its way past my door
Steps heard creaking across loose boards
Creak.  Creak.  Creak.

Down the hall slowly it walked   Skeleton heading for the kitchen
To fill up its ribs with mom’s pork chops
Then fiddle its way back to bed After the meal was consumed  

One scary night before this mystery was solved
I slept between my parents for protection  
Bookends of adult and authority on either side
Defense from anything ghoulish
Each parent rolled over facing the walls
As I lay blinking at the ceiling.  

2 a.m. is Skeleton’s supper time  
Down it came toward my parents’ room
Bones walk lightly when there is no moon  
Closer.  Closer.  Closer.
 
From the ceiling my eyes followed
To see what stood at the foot of the bed  
Its frame wiggled trying to materialize
To grab hold of me with solid hands   
Dad sighed in his sleep and the ghost misted away. 
Scared off by the possibility of his waking
I waited.  Waited.  Waited.  

My father was a quiet man, little brought out
his anger, looking back I think dad was
The Skeleton Ghost walking the halls at night
His spirit jumping out, looking for food for his soul
Wandering around for morsels of encouragement
His bony frame proved little return

Wherever he is, I hope there is a table before him
Every morning set with enlightenment, curiosity, love
I hope he found peace because
With one soft growl
One scary night

He save my life



You can get your copy of Odd Little Things from
independent book store Village Books
https://www.villagebooks.com/book/9798743768806

Poetry Club Talks…Rita Dove Part 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jfk76-109c269

Topic: Rita Dove
Host: Shannon
Poem: “Rusks”
Recorded: July 24, 2021

Rita Dove – Poems Discussed

Shannon hosts the discussion on the well-known modern American poet Rita Dove.  Playing “devil’s advocate,” Shannon asks, “Do award-winning poets write amazing poetry—consistently?”  Perhaps you’ve wondered this yourself while reading a famous poem? If you remove the famous name from the poem, is it still a “good” poem?  Dove’s poem “Rusks” appears on all the top ten list of her best poems.  Poetry Club tackles it line by line.  Does it hold up or fizzle?  Listen to find out.

Dove_Rita

BIO

Rita Frances Dove (b. August 28, 1952) Born in Akron, Ohio, U.S., as an American poet and essayist. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She has the distinct honor of being the first African American and the youngest person to serve as poet laureate of the United States (1993–95).  In 2018 she was named poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine.

President Bill Clinton bestowed upon her the 1996 National Humanities Medal, and President Barack Obama presented her with the 2011 National Medal of Arts, making her the only poet who has received both medals.

“There are so many casual pleasures in Ms. Dove’s poetry that the precision and dexterity in her work — the darkness, too — can catch you unawares.    

Ms. Dove’s poems have earthiness, originality, power, and range. Despair and loss are among her central themes, but so is the hunt for bedrock human pleasures.”

-Dwight Garner, for the New York Times, May 31, 2016

All poems copyright by Rita Dove.
Please visit her webpage at the UVA to learn more: https://uva.theopenscholar.com/rita-dove

Poetry Club Talks… is produced by Chickadee Productions

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



Poetry Club Talks…Wallace Stevens poem The Snow Man

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4xdsx-ff15e9

Topic: Wallace Stevens
Host: Lynn
Poems: “The Snow Man”
Recorded: March 27, 2021

The Snow Man Graph and Poem

This week at Poetry Club we ask what Is poetry analysis? Poetry analysis is examining the independent elements of a poem to understand the literary work in its entirety.  Poetry Club member Lynn will host the discussion on the poem “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens  (1879 – 1955) and we analyze the heck out of it.

Lynn sends us these notes:
“I’d like our discussion and reflections on this poem to move in the direction of exploring the mind watching our sensations and emotions while reading the poem…that does not hope to ‘solve’ the meaning of the poem… but expands the experience of the poem.”

Wallace-Stevens

BIO
Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955.  credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Stevens

This program was produced by Chickadee Productions

Poetry Club Talks…Lawrence Ferlinghetti Part 2

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fi3zc-fd9993

Topic: Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Host: Ron
Poems: “Spring About to Happen” and “Between Two Cities”
Recorded: March 13, 2021

Ferlinghetti Poems Discussed

This week Poetry Club Talks finishes our discussion about the late poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  We take a look at a few of his signature poems, discuss word selection, rhyme and speculate on the author’s intention. Ron is the host.  He shares these thoughts, “The attachments provide 8 poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, including his best known and most admired, “constantly risking absurdity,” which I think are representative of his work and will offer a good basis for our discussion.”  Poetry Club enjoyed talking about the work of Ferlinghetti.  Please hit the “LIKE” button and comment.

BIO

“Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (March 24, 1919 – February 22, 2021) was an American poet, painter, social activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.[2] He was the author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration. Ferlinghetti was best known for his first collection of poems, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), which has been translated into nine languages, with sales of more than one million copies.[3] When Ferlinghetti turned 100 in March 2019, the city of San Francisco proclaimed his birthday, March 24, “Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day”.[4]”  -Wikipedia

All poems are copyright and owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  Please visit Ferlinghetti’s website to read his full BIO and learn more about this important poet.

http://www.citylights.com/ferlinghetti/

This podcast is produced by Chickadee Productions

Poetry Club Talks…Lawrence Ferlinghetti Part 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-vswwh-fce29c

Topic: Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Host: Ron
Poems: “I Am Waiting”, “The Changing Light”, “Natural History”
Recorded: March 6, 2021

Ferlinghetti Poems Discussed

This week Poetry Club Talks about the late Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  We take a look at a few of his signature poems, discuss tone and form.  Ron is the host.  He shares these thoughts, “The attachments provide 8 poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, including his best known and most admired, “constantly risking absurdity,” which I think are representative of his work and will offer a good basis for our discussion.”

BIO

“Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (March 24, 1919 – February 22, 2021) was an American poet, painter, social activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.[2] He was the author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration. Ferlinghetti was best known for his first collection of poems, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), which has been translated into nine languages, with sales of more than one million copies.[3] When Ferlinghetti turned 100 in March 2019, the city of San Francisco proclaimed his birthday, March 24, “Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day”.[4]”  -Wikipedia

Please visit Ferlinghetti’s website to read his full BIO and learn more about this important poet.

http://www.citylights.com/ferlinghetti/

Poetry Club Talks…Margaret Atwood Part 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-7855w-fa9263

Topic: Margaret Atwood’s “Dearly”
Host: Ron
Poems: “Blizzard” and “Late Poems”
Recorded: February 6, 2021

“Blizzard” and “Late Poems”

Canadian artists lace the minds of Poetry Club this Saturday.  At the beginning of our discussion, we reflect briefly on the career of actor Christopher Plummer, who passed away the day before we met, on February 5th.
Then on the agenda, we begin a two-part series exploring the new poetry work of Margaret Atwood.  Ron is the host and shares this message: 
“Hello, poetry club types.  The attachment provides a dozen poems from Margaret Atwood’s recently published book, “Dearly.”  I have highlighted in bold half a dozen that might provide a focus for our discussion this coming Saturday.  It will be fine with me if we devote some time to all of them.”

“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

91s4tSAkqcL.jpg

 

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

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

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