Poem: Mermaid Rosary

Mermaid by Jerichau-Baumann

 

Mermaid Rosary

by Shannon Laws

 

Our Lady of Wayward Currents
finds her home off the highway
A curious thing to find
a candle flame so deep in the bay

One o’clock sun sets it off
fanned by the hulls of sailor’s vessels

Some call it holy to carry a
love for the ocean
tattooed on your arm
I carry mine in a pocket
with loose change

 

 

Event: Redmond Poets in the Park

You’re invited…

 
Anderson Park    |    7802 168th Ave NE    |    Redmond, Washington

Featuring Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and many other guests!
 
Poets in the Park in 2017 celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Redmond Association of Spokenword. Readings for 2017 will once again feature groups and organizations, with 25-minute reading slots. We also have 55-minute workshops, our book fair, vendors, open-mic readings, and more—and its all free! Visit the website to see the schedule. 
Enjoy poetry readings and performances on our Café and Picnic Shelter stages, workshops in our workshop cabin, and activities, installations, and vendors throughout the park, plus our poetry book fair (coordinated by Rebecca Willow, with no commission taken)—all FREE! Bring your own lunch to enjoy on the lawn or in our café area. Poetry putt-putt (mini-golf), chalk poetry, hula hoops, Haiku on Sticks, art/craft activities for kids and adults (sponsored by VALA Art Center and Jim Teeters), RASP poetry anthology poems on sticks, and more!
See the Facebook invite. Tweet to #poetsinthepark.

I will be reading on the Main Stage, 3:00 p.m., with the Clover: A Literary Rag group
AND I will have copies of “Fallen”
on hand to sell.

This is a great poetry packed day.  See you there!

Event: WWU Erotic Poetry Night

3950_eroticpoetrynight_poster

 

You are invited to Erotic Poetry Night

April 16th 7-9 p.m.

@ The Underground Coffeehouse, WWU, Bellingham, WA

 

What is Erotic Poetry Night?  The Associated Students Sexual Awareness Center on the campus of Western Washington University hosts this popular event.  Basically it is a poetry reading laced  with “safe sex” PSA’s.  I had the opportunity to share some poems at the event about two years ago and it was standing room only, with students hovering in the hallways listening to every syllable.  If you want an attentive audience, then work your way onto this stage!

Why I’m going this year:  a few weeks ago I was at an afternoon party and a guy who looked like he may be in his 50’s stated, “Kids these days just don’t have sex. Not like WE had back then.  AIDS scares them into staying virgins.”  Say what? It’s important to point out that this person also has two daughters in college.

As parents we can  keep our heads in the sand or realize that WHEN our children do have sex, perhaps during their first time away from home, places like the Sexual Awareness Center “empowers students to make safe and informed choices about sexuality and sexual health by providing a safe space for all students”

I’m excited to be back.  Below is one of the poems I’ll be sharing.  Come on down and support the effort—but get there early if you want a seat.

To learn more: http://as.wwu.edu/sac/

 

Discovery

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

you are a book
that must be read.
you are a question
that must be answered

 

-SPL

 

#

Poetry Book: Odd Little Things

online cover OLT
Photo credit: Daniel Laws. Taken at Old Town Cafe, Bellingham. Home of the BEST beni

This book was a lifesaver.

Written over the years of late 2012-2014 the poetry that emerged from my finger tips started to take a new direction.  Nature and love topics will always be on my forethought, but objects like a pole, a cinnamon roll and a rain drop on a porch at night attacked my senses.

2013 was an especially wild year, romantically, professionally, artistically.  New jobs (plural), hope gained then lost AGAIN, projects built such as “Poetic Moments” radio feature and the Peace Poets ‘Read-in” events, wonderful highs.  Then the love life roller coaster: hot and cold, warm, simmer, then over and gone.  In my free time, my down time and on my dates with my notebook, words started to show up.  THINGS started to twinkle at me to say “hi”.  Simple things with deep worlds.

“Odd Little Things” is a shorter book than “Madrona Grove” but it feels like it says more with less words.  I hope you will consider adding it to you collection.  This is the age of the chap book, staple binding n’ all.  Collect them and SAVE a poet!

~Shannon P. Laws

Purchase “Odd Little Things” by visiting Village Books
online or walking in. 
Buy online here

Poem: Voice on the Trail

Copy of Picture 177

Voice on the Trail

—with a nod to poet Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)

All the voices of the Wood called “Shannon!”

But it was soon solved; it is nothing, it is not

my real name.

My real name is written on a stone kept warm by eternal

embers I am still too cold to hold.

Words like Real and Endure

Sound like Health and Hell

Then I see what is calling, it was the road

I traveled, miles behind, warning me of the FORK

The sound bounces forward, then back, right-side-down

warns of mud ahead―not to me, but to anyone.

And at last I saw where the road lies wide,

and clear orchard rows, easy fruit and bundled grass

roll along a tan, green and blue landscape.

Not for me. Not for me. Not for me.

I came into my clear being uncalled, alive, and sure

of all but what I see.

Nothing speaking to me, none know my real name―

not the owl, the fish or the elk, but I offer myself

to the strangers and it is well.

Strangers we are.

I know them all.

-SPL

#

Poem: Ink Stained Hands

Read me the paper Uncle
Loud enough to hear in the kitchen
Touch it for me, turn those pages
Aunties and I are cooking the dinner
hands must be kept clean.

But in your place by the fire
the beige recliner squeaks
on the back-beat of your rocking,
toes slide in and out of slippers
leather stretched out and soft
as a first basemen’s glove

Calloused hands turn each inky page
of the Sunday review
headlines shout at us
while we chop onions

mannewspaper uk
Man Reading a Newspaper by Stephen Gillett
by SPL
National Poetry Month | Write a Poem a Day
***

Book: Two Poems Pub Here!

Through the Eyes of Islanders
The Beauty of the San Juan Islands
By The San Juan Islands Photographic Journal Second Edition

It is an honor to have my poetry amongst the work of so many wonderful island photographers.  -S.P. Laws

“This beautiful eBook is filled with images by San Juan Islanders. Curated by famed National Geographic photographer David Hiser, Director at Anderson Ranch, Andrea Wallace and acclaimed photographer George Stranahan. Winners are Natasha Ryder, Rod Magner, Bob Phalen and Martin Taylor. This unique book offers a view of life and vistas in the San Juan Islands as only the people who live here can convey.” 
-Alex Huppenthal

Makes an unique holiday present
Click to view photos!

This Side of Paradise

Times change, they always do, it is no surprise- but are you ready for it this time? 

Since I was 15 I have always been able to find employment.  Between 1990 and 1993, however, thanks to a working husband, I was able to stay home and raised my kids.  In 1993, when I was looking to return to the work force I sought out a part-time/evening job at a local mall.  I found work and the shift I needed without any problem at a kitchen appliance store.  That time in my life we lived in North Bend Washington, a small city just off  I-90 set in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  North Bend is the last/first town  on your way through the mountain pass.  This small town with a population of about 5,000 people hosts few restaurants, an outlet mall and gas stations making it a great pit-stop for travelers.  Thanks to the booming retail and restaurant industry in the 90’s I was employed for many years while I worked on my degree. 

One day I approached my boss with a request for Sunday/Mondays off.  My request was denied.  It was important to my home life that I get these two days off in a row to help accommodate child care.  Without blinking an eye, I took a walk around the mall and applied to three other stores that had “Help Wanted” signs (remember those).  One place, a leather store, hired me on the spot, and for fifty cents more an hour! At the end of my shift, I gave my notice to the appliance store. There was no worry in my mind that I would be able to find a job with the schedule I wanted, I was more concerned that another person might snatch it up before me.  Those day of jobs-a-plenty are over.

Since 2008 I have been laid off three times.  It’s no fun and I don’t appreciate it.  I stick my tongue out at this sour economy!  *blah*  Recently I saw a video about a real estate agent from Arizona who was unemployed.  She mentions that she was down to cashing out her last IRA to pay her rent.  I wish I was that lucky!  How close is the middle class from becoming homeless or permanent renters in our nation this year?

The recession will force 1.5 million more people into homelessness over the next two years, according to estimates by The National Alliance to End Homelessness. In a 2007 study by the The National Alliance to End Homelessness, Washington ranks in the top ten states with the highest rates of homelessness.

Visual changes have made their way to my city. The first neighborhood I moved to when I came to Bellingham seeking work was Broadway Park off Cornwall Avenue.  It’s an affluent neighborhood where toned husbands stroll their children on the sidewalks while little hot mamas jog in packs of two.  After living there for three months it dawned on me that everyone around that part of town was beautiful.  It felt like I was living in the (original) Star Trek episode 24, “This Side of Paradise” where the crew lands on a planet full of healthy, flourishing colonist that never grow old.  I had yet to see any homeless people in my part of town.  I asked a neighbor jokingly, “I’m new to Bellingham, and was wondering where do you keep all the ugly people?”  This may sound harsh, but I just wasn’t use to living in such a lovely place.  It felt like the whole world was happy, healthy and loved!  That was 2010. 

Two years later, as I drive around town, I can’t help but notice more homeless people on the corners.  These are not your typical homeless types.  I’m seeing students, and working class folks asking for some change.  Alcohol induced crime seems to also be on an increase in Bellingham.  In the last three Cascadia Weeklys, a local newspaper, it seems there are more stories where a drunk person walks into a strangers home mistaking it for theirs. This says two things to me:  people still feel the crime in town is low enough that they don’t need to lock their front doors and, that more people are turning to an easily accessible drug to escape reality. 

Seeing a homeless person on the street pings a new place in my heart these days.  They lean up against a building of commerce, legs stretched out into the sidewalk, creating a human speed bump, an obstacle to walk around.  Questions: Are they like a pit no one wants to fall into?  Are they visual reminders that one day, if you don’t play your cards right you could end up there?  Are you prepared to be laid off 5 or 10 years before retirement after putting 10-20 years into a company?   How is your debt to income ratio?

Lee Jeffries “Homeless” 

 Corporations are all about making a profit.  That is what they are designed to do.  It’s like asking if a lion eats meat.  With the large amount of workers in the market, companies do not need to pay workers a wage that is competitive to keep them.  It is a employers market.  We are now working slaves.  Decent performance may keep our jobs only for as long as the employer needs us; we are disposable.  The moral obligation of corporations to pay Americans a decent wage so the worker can raise a family, own a house and two cars is as out of date as a teenager listening to the radio- why would they? 

This poem popped into my mind a few mornings back:

I: The Beginning of Insanity

“Tick, Tick” went the brain
Fuse is blown, not easy to replace
Confusion and clarity enter
Eggs fold in cake batter
Eyes open in denial
Filth has risen up around her, overnight

Empty pockets- no keys
car keys, house keys, mail keys
Body presses against a brick wall
Surrender to the forces of nature
Arms fling upward like white flags
Baggy clothes hide a sick frame

Sitting on the sidewalk
Like crumpled garbage
tossed out of a moving car
Back to the wall, built to support business
the concrete track carries people.
Did both let her down?
Paths once straight
now a hard couch,
now an unmade bed
for far too many

II: Graphic

My line graph reads:
“Power to the Corporations”
Margin to the left points to the sky
Labeled below: “Time” stretches right
toward a dark future.
Our lady’s figure mark the points
High at the head
Bent at the waist
Peak at he knees
Tapered at the feet

The title of my graph
“Hope in America”
A blood red line
falls
staggers
down
down
down

http://www.cascadiaweekly.com/
http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/526/homeless-facts.html

Vicarious Vacation


The phrase “summer job” leads most people to picture a student making pizzas or serving burgers during the long three months off from school. If you live on an island it has a completely different meaning to a whole other demographic. A summer job(s) here is what the working class or retired folks do to make some extra money. Storing up cash for the economically slow months riddled with higher heating bills and expensive gift giving holidays, people in small tourist towns act much like ants gathering up food for the long winter. Jumping on an opportunity to help a friend with their tree pruning business, or ironing sheets for the Bed n’ Breakfast down the street are good ways to supplement your income. Being opportunistic is apart of island living.

Since I’ve moved to the island I have been fortunate to have summer job(s) that fill the week. I say fortunate because since the winter of 2008 one out of ten people in Washington State are unemployed. This summer I’m averaging 90 hours a paycheck and as expected, I find it difficult to do anything BUT work.

Writing has been pushed to the side, so has cleaning the house, and appointments are being moved into September. Instead of working on articles or my book, I am writing only poetry. My poetry however has not been of posting quality, but rewarding just the same. I write about how much my body aches, the way the sun shines through the trees, and about how angry I was at the moon; the crazy ramblings of an overworked woman to be sure. I DO think about my storylines, usually in the morning. Something will set it off. I’ll see an object or hear a phrase that ignites my imagination; it’s another refreshing creative escape, even if it only last a couple of minutes or so.

Until September rolls around I’ll just live my vacation vicariously through the other tourist. As I shuttle around the grounds of the resort where I work I pass and interact with all types of tourist. Three skinny boys in their tweens, bundled up in towels, dripping wet returning from a long swim in the lake. Seemingly numb to walking barefoot on gravel road, their only focus being “What’s next?” Planning up all sorts of things to do, see and eat. My feet hurt watching them walk on the gravel, but their excitement was contagious. Another day a sleepy couple, still in their flannels, come in for coffee and share with me about their wonderful yesterday of sight seeing, the super pod of orcas off shore, the kayaking, the hike. Just listening about their day tired me out! What a day!

Later that week I met up with a friend for coffee. She was as exhausted as I was but from friends and family visiting her. In one months time she had five visits, each time taking folks around the island, cooking, cleaning, and going out for dinner, seeing movies, then repeating it all over again with the next group. “It’s wears ya out having a good time” she joked. We both sat there exhausted and thankful for a peaceful cup and visit in a quiet house. I swear for a second our sighs were synchronized. We were situationally at two different poles but exhausted just the same.

Too much fun!

The Sand is Lava!


written: Sunday, November 23, 2008

Was at the beach today with my husband.

Washington State beaches are littered with logs. The waves and storms throw the logs up onto shore in a kind of tiddelie-winks sort of mess. As we were jumping logs to get ’round from one beach to another I had a thought.

As a kid growing up here you’re “baptized” by the oceans and beaches! Most good Washingtonians will take their kids camping on or near the beach. Kids have to learn how to walk on the logs, negotiate good places to step, ask themselves, “Is that log stable?” After many trial and error jumps you learn quickly. This was my childhood every summer. My parents would take us out to Ocean Shores (near Forks & Aberdeen) and we did jumped logs and even made forts out of them.

I was deep in thought over this childhood skill and asked my husband how he thought that affected us as adults. Did it give us better judgment? Did the experience cause us to be more circumspect when making a decision? He answered with a question.
What about a child who lives in the city and has to figure out the bus system or subway schedule? What sort of enhanced sense of judgment did his environment produce?

I immediately thought about my mom and her mid-west upbringing. Living on a farm, getting up before the sunrise to milk cows, feed chickens then get ready for school. My mom and all of her sisters grew up to be hard workers. They have strong work ethics.
What experiences did you have that you feel where a positive influence on whom you are as an adult? What shaped you into the person you are today?