What a delight to learn a poem of mine, written in the spirit of Saint Bukowski, b. August 16, 1920, was selected for a chapbook celebrating his 100th birthday! My first international submission acceptance. Indeed an honor. A copy is flying closer to my mailbox as I post this update. These are beautiful, limited edition, small press collector books that you can still order–get your copy today! Contact Newington Blue Press, East London, today!(Apx. £25)
“Newington Blue Press was born in 2020 – when due to the Covid–19 virus and pandemia the centenary Festival on the occasion of what would have been the 100th birthday of Bukowski – to be held in Germany – had to be canceled. Originally planned as a small, humble replacement only, our anthology of tributes, testimonials, and unpublished works – lived up to it’s second volume so far and is to be continued.
The writer’s call-out & mission statement for BUK 100: “We have gathered writers, scholars, and graphic artists/photographers from all around the globe in order to celebrate the man Bukowski on the very occasion. Our contributors range from contemporary witnesses/friends of Bukowski – still alive, to emulating artists working in his tradition, scholars who work for or gaining degrees/doctorates on Bukowski to congenial artists esp. in the performing arts who are occupied with the phenomenon of the «poet laureate of skid row» for years. Everybody is free to greet Charles Bukowski in his or her specific way, style, and individuality, be it an essay – a photograph or poetry. We would warmly welcome you to take part in our little endeavor, which explicitly aims to blow borders of nations and thus assembles contributions from artists from all continents.”
P.S. Perhaps you and a writer you know say, “I need to give this some air.” Reading a work in progress at an open mic or to a group of other writers can help form the piece. In 2018 I read my Charles Bukowski-inspired poem “Christopher Titus Save Me.” based on the Bukowski poem “The Twelve Hour Night”. It is one of my longest poems, yet written from the heart -or should I say the wrenched heart- about working as an overnight deep cleaner at a Casino. I had no words to describe the experience and Bukowski helped me find those words. But, the poem needed air, it needed to be tested.
In my town, we have a monthly open mic at the local indie book store, Village Books. The night I signed up for a 5-minute read, a new artist was in the crowd-drawing, um, portraits… of each reader. Bob Zaslow–thank you. Bob included in his portrait lines from “Christopher Titus Save Me”.
Monday is the first day of SPRING! The sun is coming through my window. I watched it as it arched around the buildings, right-sided shadows slowly making their way left. The Christmas Cactus takin’ it all in. No meme this morning. just this photo. -Hope you are well, healthy, happy, fed, sheltered, loved, and giving love…and CREATING, Shannon
On March 24th the governor of Washington State declared the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy” mandate. Here we are over 300 days later, fatigued, depressed, foggy, frustrated…and now hopeful. Hopeful that the pandemic will end this year, and America can get back to work. The second half of 2020 I began to read the daily “briefings” of American Historian Heather Cox Richardson. Her writings have helped me to place events into a perspective I would not have been able to do so on my own. It’s helped me, might help you, the link is at the bottom of the page.
John Oliver also makes me smile. I like his analogy of last week feeling like a person finishing a marathon, after breaking the ribbon and about to celebrate an official comes up, shakes your hand, and says, “Did you know that one million dogs are euthanized in shelters every day?” Just give us ONE DAY to feel the relief. PLEASE, just one day for those that survived the four year attack on America by Americans, can we have ONE day of hope?
Outside of politics I’ve been thinking about an old friend that passed away a few years ago. Jim joked about being a curmudgeon, but he really was a good-tempered easy-going old guy who had a divine level of dad jokes at the ready. There was an absence of family men in my upbringing. Mostly appeared as unreachable, or two dimensional. Grandpas lived in other states, my father had sleeping fits, and my uncles were loud, swearing, sons of bitches that belched loudly and with great showmanship at the Thanksgiving table upsetting the aunties. Life has a beautiful way of balancing itself. If you are missing a family relationship, say a sister, parent, or, heck, a whole family, somehow life brings you a family. I do not know how it does it, but it is so welcomed. Jim was welcomed into my life as an adopted grandpa. We met at a poetry open mic. Here is the one photo I have of us, taken at his first book launch.
He supported my work, greeted me with a smile, asked me what I was up to in my writing world, shared with me what he was marveling at that day. A wonderful gentleman. I believe it would be egotistical of me to think I was special to him because he treated everyone this way. All people and everything about this world were special to him. He passed “into the cosmos” in October 2019. I do not know how much support I gave him, but he helped me more than I was able to ever share or express to him.
My poem “Leaf Tattoo” was one of his favorites. Often when I see a leaf tattoo or now, the little buds of a new leaf on the branches, I am reminded of his kindness. I’m thankful for people like Jim. I’m glad he appeared in my life, and for other “adopted” family that visited, albeit, only for a short time. They are true treasures.
Leaf Tattoo You can you feel it In my city The change of air as wind folds in fall’s weather.
Orange leaves appear on the sidewalks of Holly Street. No worms to dance them back to soil.
Cement laden, laid on the roadside in random patterns leave a tattoo, imprinted on the stone. Five pointed stars a tree hand pressed by feet and rain bleed orange ink for all to see.
By winter the marks wash away By spring, bright green babies wave at us from their mother’s arm borne back into our memory.
Poetry Club discusses two poems by American poet W.S. Merwin (b.1927-d.2019), “Thank You” and “For the Anniversary of My Death”. Linda starts us off with his biography, then Amory guides us through two of his poems. Merwin had a simple life as a Zen Buddhist, pacifist, environmentalist, and writer. Can we ever know what the author truly intends? Safe to say, we walk away from the two poems in awe of his world-class abilities, and personal life.
Next week we’ll discuss “In Time” and “Elegy For A Walnut Tree”
I started a Go Fund Me for my daughter. My daughter, Hannah, called me Monday to say her cat Boo broke or dislocated her tail. Her two cats were wrestling in the living room and her new kitty got hurt. Hannah sent me a video of her cat where the tail has a bump at the top, and it points straight down. It used to fly like a flag! That kitties tail is over a foot long and pretty fluffy. My daughter is super upset because the vet wants to see the cat right away. However, the accident happened at a bad time for them and me.
Click on the link and you’ll fall in love with this sweet kitty like we have. Please consider a gift of any size towards the vet visit and fixing this tail. From my heart, thank you.
I’m very excited to have a small collection of my poems published in The Abstract Elephant Magazine this month. It’s such a beautiful magazine with an ideal mission. Please visit it sometime soon.
“The Abstract Elephant Magazine is an interdisciplinary, digital publication dedicated to understanding the issues of the human condition through the arts, the sciences, and philosophy. This magazine began with the intention to create a space for comparative endeavors and interdisciplinary research since our basic belief is that improvement in the human condition takes place in open dialogue and debate.”
Cirque brings together the finest literary and artistic talent from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
Cirque was founded in 2009 by Anchorage poet Mike Burwell. Cirque, published in Anchorage, Alaska, is a regional journal created to share the best writing in the region with the rest of the world. This regional literary journal invites emerging and established writers living in the North Pacific Rim—Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Yukon Territory, Alberta, British Columbia, and Chukotka.
Cirque #20 celebrates 10 years in print. It’s a large issue of 175 pages. We are glad you will be part of it.
Thank you The Showbear Family Circus ( http://lanceschaubert.org/ ) Lancelot Schaubert’s and Tara Schaubert’s liberal arts circus, for including my poems, Crab, Grandmas Closet, and The Bog in your November 2, 2020 edition.
Your website stimulates the senses. Selected articles, short stories, poems, words jump off the page! I love this philosophy you have…
We want to focus on the liberal arts philosophy because we hope to reorder common ways magazines and readers think about news, scientific research, creative writing, and art reviews. We want all of the work shared at the Showbear Circus to focus not on money, power, lauds, or pleasure but on whether the thing made, the thought reasoned, and the feeling felt are good and beautiful and true.
You can find my poems in the November 2nd edition on the main page and here:
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
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.”
“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.
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!
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 COVID-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 Molly’s song played in my mind while processing some sad news about an acquaintance. The 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
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.
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.
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