Thank You Red Wheelbarrow

So many songs begging Ruth Bader Ginsburg to “hang on” until there is another democrat in the white house.  This one caught my attention.  SNL 2019. 


Thank you Red Wheelbarrow writers for accepting my poem, “Day 53”, for publication in This Uncommon Solitude your upcoming anthology of pandemic poetry.

“We are honored to showcase and share your powerful and poignant words during this unsettling time of crisis.”

 

Day 53
By Shannon Laws

If the world were normal now,
as it may never be again,
I might enjoy the morning.
This morning where I woke,
at 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast
drank coffee in bed, started writing,
and still under the sheets at 11:36.

If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019,
I would not label this morning a case of pandemic fatigue,
no—it would be relaxation.

It is what the pre-pandemic modern world
used to refer as a “personal day.”
(remember personal days?)
I could find joy in working at home if all
my neighbors got into their cars and
drove to work this morning!
THEN today would be a special day for me.
But, it is not.

It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing
but the heavy responsibility of
staying home and
saving lives.

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel
Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel

 


https://www.history.com/news/ruth-bader-ginsburgs-landmark-opinions-womens-rights-supreme-court

Jury Duty for women as a right-
In 1979, Ginsburg argued Duren v. Missouri, a case in which a Missouri man accused of murder argued he couldn’t get a fair trial because of a law that made jury service optional for women. She told the court that such exemptions didn’t just make the jury pool unfair; it devalued women’s contributions to juries.

Equal pay regardless of sex-
In her 2007 dissent, which she read from the bench (a rare move for any justice), she argued that the Civil Rights Act’s 180-day time limit shouldn’t apply in the case of discriminatory pay since gender-based discrimination can happen gradually. “A worker knows immediately if she is denied a promotion or transfer,” said Ginsburg. “Compensation disparities, in contrast, are often hidden from sight.”

Day 19: The Great Pause

The worldwide pause.  Will we forget these months?  As citizens of the planet- let us promise to never forget.  The deaths, suffering, confusion from our leaders, the kindness from neighbors, the debt, the empty shelves at the grocery and in many homes, the masses unable to pay rent, buy food, after only ONE month with no pay, the healthcare system strained, buying face masks for your family, exposed drive-thru workers, crops rotting, the temporary peace in Syria. The pandemic, The Great Pause happened.

Today I am supplementing my journal with this post by Julio Vincent Gambuto writing for “Medium”.  His words challenged me and I hope they help you as well today.

The complete article can be found here:  https://medium.com/@juliovincent/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0


Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. That never happened. What are you talking about? Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms — a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it.

We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work.

The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.

For the last hundred years, the multi-billion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to re-paint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your kids to Disneyland makes you: proud. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to re-wire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.

What the trauma has shown us, though, cannot be unseen. A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the postcard images of what the world might be like if we could find a way to have a less deadly daily effect on the planet.

What’s not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we have witnessed: a healthcare system that cannot provide basic protective equipment for its front line; small businesses — and very large ones — that do not have enough cash to pay their rent or workers, sending over 16 million people to seek unemployment benefits; a government that has so severely damaged the credibility of our media that 300 million people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts that can save their own lives.

The cat is out of the bag. We, as a nation, have deeply disturbing problems. You’re right. That’s not news. They are problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The plain truth is that no matter our ethnicity, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), nor even our socio-economic status, as Americans we share this: we are busy. We’re out and about hustling to make our own lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to attend and mortgages to pay — all while the phone is ringing and the laptop is pinging. And when we get home, Crate and Barrel and 3M and Andy Cohen make us feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. It is very easy to close your eyes to a problem when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep. The greatest misconception among us, which causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in this country, is that we somehow don’t care about each other. White people don’t care about the problems of black America. Men don’t care about women’s rights. Cops don’t care about the communities they serve. Humans don’t care about the environment. These couldn’t be further from the truth. We do care. We just don’t have the time to do anything about it. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too.

Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: what in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: what happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open.

What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped.

Here it is. We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and six-lane highways are barren. Even the planet itself is rattling less (true story). And because it is rarer than rare, it has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how we live. And that feels weird. Really weird. Because it has…never…happened…before. If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now. I cannot speak for you, but I imagine you feel like I do: devastated, depressed, and heartbroken.

Los Angeles, pollution-free. Photo credit: Gabriel Duarte

Poem: One of Many People

 

One of Many People

by Shannon P. Laws

I have been was
a second grader in 1976
My hair was long
my skin was tan
and someone gifted
me a turquoise ring

Looking back I don’t
remember having many friends
but I was happy and free
and in love with my world

I built a comic book
reading fort in the
garage rafters of our
9th Avenue home

It was a room by itself
It had a clock radio
a small, warm lamp
cushions and blankets
for me and the cat

I read
Dynamite
MAD
Marvel and D.C.
and the spooky “Believe It Or Not” comics

I miss that girl

Puberty and the 80’s were
crouched around the corner
ready to pounce
ready to pound me into another person

It will never be 1976 again
I’ll never be that long haired girl again

 

Me, 2nd grade, cu from classroom photo

 

Dynamite, issue 25, July 1976 “Space 1999 takes off!” An American pop culture magazine for children 1974-1992

 

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

 

##

Poem: Apocalypse Pantry

photo credit dailymail.co.uk

 

Apocalypse Pantry

by Shannon Laws

 

I have found the warm caves in the woods
filled them with boxes of mac n’ cheese
tuna fish cans and cheap scented candles
Innumerable goods

A possessed witch is misunderstood
no matter how frugal
I am such a witch

waved my nude arms at the townspeople
walked the streets, survived the shrinking dollar
I have been her kind

 


A 2017 postcard poem

 

 

2018 Poem Booth Kickstarter

2018 Poem Booth Kickstarter
December 6th – January 20th

Christen Mattix admires the Poem Booth, March 2017

 

Team Poem Booth announces a 2018 Kickstarter to raise money for the continued support of the Poem Booth located on Forest and Holly at the downtown Community Food Co-op.   The Poem Booth Kickstarter is LIVE December 6th through January 20th. We had an amazing 2017 launch for the Poem Booth and are looking forward to 2018!

The 2018 campaign offers many enticing awards.  Please visit our Kickstarter page to learn more and donate today.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1485995559/poem-booth-2018

Jory Mickelson, Christen Mattix, Summer Starr at the December 2017 poem reveal

 

 First Year Highlights

A complete remodel of the phone booth that transformed an eyesore into a communal treasure, live poetry readings at the Poem Booth, a beautiful and informative website about the Poem Booth project (poembooth.weebly.com), 75 fantastic poetry contributions from local talent, a chapbook compilation of the year’s poetry selections, a poetry reading event at Bellingham Food Co-op, Saturday, 6-7:30 p.m., January 13th , publicity in Bellingham Alive, Cascadia Weekly, Whatcom Talk, Community Food Co-op News and Take 5.

This new year we are looking to expand the art involved in the Poem Booth and are exploring ways for the community to get involved in creating the look of the booth. 

The “Poem Booth 2017” chapbook front cover available at the Community Food Co-op for $5/or donation

Second Year Goals  

Enlist and support local artists in transforming the Poem Booth with their artistic vision, provide a unique and fresh venue for local poets while honoring their talents through awards and publicity, continue to provide a democratic and free encounter with art for pedestrians. Funds will be used for our poetry chapbook, printing costs, paint, cleaning tools, and maintenance supplies. We are also exploring creating a new Poem Booth on Holly Street.

Your support for this Kickstarter will give us the funds to have more creative license over how the poem booth is refurbished in the new year.

We hope you will join us in getting community poetry to the streets in 2018.

 

Poem Booth team members for 2018 are Christen Mattix, Summer Starr, Shannon P. Laws, Sheila Sondik and Jory Mickelson.

Sheila Sondik reads her poem at the September 2017 reveal on Forest Street
The booth a year ago, 2016, before the transformation

 

The Poem Booth, June 2017