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 48: Love Thy Neighbor

“Mr. Coal operator call me anything you please, blue, green, or
red, I aim to see to it that these Kentucky coal miners will not dig your
coal while their little children are crying and dying for milk and bread.”

— Aunt Molly Jackson, the ultimate Pistol Packin’ Mama,(1880-1960)

This morning I’m thinking about The Great Depression of the 1930s.  Over the course of four years, 1929-1933, the unemployment rate reached its peak to  25% of the population. Today, twelve years after The Great Recession of 2008, America’s unemployment rate is 25%.  This morning CNBC reported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged Sunday that the U.S. unemployment rate may have already reached 25% as the administration works to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Unemployment Rate 1930 to April 2020, April 3, 2020, credit New York Times

I like that word “may”. As if they have no way of telling; probably because the system is so overwhelmed.  There is a good chance the government may not actually know how many are without work, without income, have no savings, have not received a stimulus check.

During The Great Depression, there was a union war.  The folks that were pro-union were among the bravest souls in history. They stood up for their rights in the face of dire circumstances including starvation and death.  Coal miners, exhausted from working +12 hour days, demanded an eight-hour workday, more safety features for the miners, and also a fair wage.  Many union members paid with their lives; the henchmen of the owners shooting some on-site!

Like the Aunt Molly Jackson story and song, today there is an injustice, a darkness, that is costing the lives of many, pressed by the heel of greed and power.  The worldwide shelter in place mandate emphasizes the hurt that was already here.  If the world ever needed the voice of a hero it is now!

Thor, Marvel Comics

Oh, how I wish justice could shine down from heaven like a bolt of lightning and solve all the world’s problems!  I am not political or a part of any militia; I am a poet.  Designed to observe and report.  This is the job of all artists.  Although I have no solution, I have an alarm to sound and it is saying the bent branch has split!  You can no longer demand buds, flowers, or fruit from what has died!  The devotion to the wicked will end quickly! Home of the brave you say?  The brave are in neighborhoods donating time and supplies to their neighbors.  The brave are working in grocery stores and hospitals.   While our leaders lay impotent, the common person once again helps the helpless.  Although I understand the solution to CORVID-19 & why we shelter in place, I am angered that the epidemic of homelessness, disease, and poverty has festered for decades.  In America, WHY is it a constant fight for equal rights, equal pay, a fair living wage, affordable healthcare?  Why is that?

All this week Aunt Mollys song played in my mind while processing some sad news about an acquaintanceThe stoic teaching tells me the obstacle is the way.  We all have our own gutters to climb out of, I hope I am brave enough to reach out a hero’s hand to those around me.


Here is an old poem I shared with the Poetry Discussion group on Saturday.

Lunch at the Sycamore Square
April 2019

Fountain water hits each tier
breaks off into the air
landing on my notebook paper
sprinkles a blank page

A cart of baked bread
rolls by through the courtyard
towards the Italian restaurant
A tourist asks when does
the shoe store open

A dog on leash pisses
on the floor
We all ignore it
even the owner
###

This photo really touched me.  It is my current mood expressed by a news photo.  -take care & be well, Shannon

Nurses week amid the coronavirus: Protest at White House honors the death of nearly 100 nurses, May 7, 2020, (Photo: National Nurses United)

 


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aunt_Molly_Jackson

https://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/dep1929.htm

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/10/coronavirus-mnuchin-says-unemployment-will-rate-get-worse-before-they-get-better.html

Sharing Poetry at Kendall Elementary

Janet Oakley (l) shares some CCC history before Shannon Laws (r) starts her Introduction to Poetry presentation for the 4th-grade class at Kendall Elementary, Kendall, WA March 8, 2018

On March 8th historian and award-winning fiction author, Janet Oakley and I visited Kendall Elementary to share an introduction to poetry and encourage 4th graders to write their own poetry.

This project is inspired by the depression era Civilian Conservation Corps statue dedication.  On June 16, 2018, at the Glacier Ranger Station built by CCC workers, the statue will be dedicated.  Janet Oakley is working with Mike Impero and me to coordinate community events for all ages in celebration of the statue dedication. (Read more about the Corps below)

The CCC boys printed their own newspaper called “The Bulldozer”.  Copies of the paper still exist.  After Janet discovered that the boys wrote many poems for the newspaper, she recruited me to help spur a poetry contest with the local 4th-grade class.  The contest went well.  The Kendall kids are creative!  Select poems are on display at the ranger station and the Kendall Library.  Winners will be read at the dedication ceremony on June 16th.  Kendall is about 10 miles from Glacier and some of the students are direct descendants of CCC workers who stayed in Whatcom Country after the CCC was dissolved.

Yesterday Janet came over to my home and shared some of the Thank You notes from Kendall.  What a warm surprise!  I am so thankful for the experience!  These cards made my day.

“Raise your hand if you’ve written a poem.”
“Dear Ms. Laws and Ms. Oakley, Thank you for teaching poetry. Poetry it can be funny or sad. Mostly I like the rhymes. Still, thank you for coming to our school. Now I really like poetry instead of hating it. Thank you for coming. sincerely Tristian”
“Dear Mrs. Laws, Thank you for the time to write poetry. I have been writing ever since. Thank you for coming.” *wink*

 

Dear Ms. Laws and Ms. Oakley, the slide-show was great and thank you for teaching us poetry. Here is one of the poems I made. Mrs. Grats. Mrs. Grats had sixty rats, each one ate ninety-nine cats. I had a longer one but I forget it. This one isn’t my best when I made it I didn’t have that much time. from Caleb
Dear Ms. Laws and Ms. Oakley, Ms. Laws Thank you for teaching us poetry and spending your time with us. It was fun you having us. Ms. Oakley thank you for teaching us about the boys that made most of the buildings and the statue that is going to be at the ranger station because if you wouldn’t tell me I wouldn’t know, so, thank you.


About the Civilian Conservation Corps Statue

On June 12, 1933, a group of forty-three men from the Civilian Conservation Corps arrived in Shuksan in the Mount Baker National Forest. A week later they were joined by thirty enrollees from Illinois. By July 12, Company 2915 was at full complement of 200 men. During the summer and fall, the company worked on the construction of truck trails on Hannegan Pass and Twin Lakes, felled snags, and strung telephone lines. On November 2, the company moved to their permanent site on the Mount Baker Highway between Maple Falls and Glacier. Over the years, Company 2915 would build the Douglas Fir and Silver Fir campgrounds, the Glacier Ranger Station, the Austin Warming Hut, fire outlooks and hundreds of roads and trails

This June 16, 2018, nearly eighty-five years after the first group of CCC boys arrived at Camp Glacier, a statue will be erected at the Glacier Ranger Station to honor the Civilian Conservation Corps’ work. Though Mount Baker District is used heavily in winter and summer, few today know the history of the CCCs in our area. This statue will serve to tell their story.

A Little History Lesson

The Civilian Conservation Corps came out of the desperate days of the Great Depression. In 1933, only 30% of the population had jobs, mostly halftime. Banks, farms and businesses failed.  With 25% of all young men ages 16 to 30 unemployed, serious social problems arose. To meet this national crisis, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed the Emergency Conservation Act, soon known as the CCC. FDR was inaugurated on March 3, 1933. He proposed the bill on March 21. Both houses passed it on March 28. FDR signed it March 31.

Whatcom County’s first call for young men to sign up was in mid-April. A qualifying family had to be on the welfare rolls, their son between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years old. The family received an allotment of twenty-five dollars a month. The enrollee would receive five dollars a month, but they were also fed, given shelter and soon training in a variety of things –from radio, auto mechanics to packing horses and setting up phone lines. Some finished their high school certificate.

The CCC Worker Statue

Sometime in the early 1970s, former CCC boys formed alumni chapters to get together, share their stories and support the preservation of their work in state and national. Today, most of the chapters are closed as members have passed away. The concept of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC Worker Statue program was developed by the former Chapter #129 of Grayling, Michigan in 1995. Program coordinator Rev. William Fraser had the dream to have a statue in every state. The CCC Legacy, a national non-profit group, took on the task recently and now owns the CCC statue mold.

The Glacier statue will be created from a standard mold, and look just like this one from Montana.

For the past year, author and historian Janet Oakley and Mike Impero, North Fork historian worked to get a CCC worker statue for the Glacier Ranger Station. Oakley grew up on stories of the CCCs and wrote a novel, Tree Soldier, set in the Glacier area. For two years, she was a Washington Humanities speaker, going around the state talking about the CCC’s impact on the state’s treasured parks and soil conservation. Mike Impero has written books about the Glacier area. He has a personal reason for the statue: his father was one of the first CCC boys to serve at Camp Glacier. Last month CCC Legacy signed with the Mount Baker National Forest to allow such a statue. The statue will be the second in Washington State and seventy-second in the nation.

On June 16th at the Glacier Ranger Station built by CCC workers, the statue will be dedicated.  Janet Oakley is working with Mike Impero and local poet Shannon P. Laws to coordinate community events for all ages in celebration of the statue dedication.

A 4th grade Kendall poetry contest in March through April.  Poems will be displayed at the Kendall Library and at the Glacier Station.  On April 28th Janet and Mike will give a presentation at Village Books.  All the events are free and open to the public.  -press release

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