Once Hate Is Gone …

You who lights candles . . . Salam to you . . .

file261336842312-1Bitter is this dawn that no longer comes
With the prayer of doves on rooftops
And your face

This treacherous sky above your head
The colour of lead and flame
These forests of stars smothered
In the blinding smoke

These banners ripping the air around you
Woven of cries
These fields of ruins and debris
Where you stand shivering
In the nudity of daylight

You, a lonely prophet in this besieged space
Who listens to the laments of stones
And writes his testament
With tears and blood

You, who lights candles
For the passing caravans of martyrs
And falls asleep with the night

Salam to you

. . . this  poem . . . in my mind i wrote it for a friend in Gaza . . . i haven’t heard from him in weeks now . . . 

– Imen Benyoub
© 2014, poem, All rights reserved; photograph courtesy of morgueFile

pictureIMEN BENYOUB ~ is a multilingual, multi-talented writer, poet, and artist from Guelma, Algeria. Imen currently lives in East Jerusalem. She is a frequent guest here on The Bardo Group blog and with On the Plum Tree and Plum Tree Books Facebook page as well.

~

ALICE WALKER (b. 1944), American activist and Pulitzer Prize winning author:

Not with a bang … but with a whimper.

Peace: It’s a decision.

Music, Language of the Soul

1912340_522627457840294_1074926792_n

“Music is…a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy”
Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Sarajevo under siege…a city in ruins that wakes up on the sound of shelling and bombing and sleeps on that of mourners. This beautiful city, so rich in history, architecture and art suffered the horrors of a four years siege considered the longest in modern history, and became Europe’s capital of hell since the war broke in 1992, to coincide with another atrocious civil war that broke in my own country and lasted almost ten years, what we Algerians know as “the dark decade”.

At 4 pm on May 27, people were queuing in front of a bakery in Sarajevo for bread; a mortar shell dropped in the middle and killed 22 people instantly. A man witnessed the massacre and was so appalled by the sight of blood and torn bodies so he decided to do something.

This man was Vedran Smailović, a widely recognized and talented cellist who went everyday for 22 days to the bombed site the exact time of the massacre and played cello, in honour of those who died in front of him and all of the victims, all those hiding from snipers’ bullets, the refugees, the hungry, the wounded, the destroyed homes and for his smouldering, exhausted city that struggled to survive.

This man sent a prayer of peace through his music, that the city of his heart might witness a brighter future, and he became the symbol of peace all over Bosnia, playing in graveyards and bombed sites, despite the shelling and fired bullets, Smailović was engulfed by light, the light of hope he was spreading all over the battered city. No crowd applauding to his performance, just Angels protecting him.

It’s been years since the dreadful siege and the civil war in my country ended, but did Sarajevo recover from its dark past? Did my people ever forget? the victims, the mass graves, and the fear they lived in all those years…

We are never entirely healed of our memory.

Al Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus Syria, another Sarajevo, another siege, people dying from a severe lack of food, water and medical supplies, massive destruction of homes and buildings, for weeks the Government forces besieged the camp and starved its people on purpose, the majority of them Palestinians who were exiled from their country in 1948, they found themselves caught against their will in a merciless war that made Damascus, a beautiful and rich city…Middle East’s capital of hell.

History repeats itself, it always strikes me how it does, and not always in the gentlest way, I believed it with all my being when I saw young men with a battered piano in the middle of rubble playing music and singing for peace and freedom, I said: if Vedran Smailović could see those proud and defiant guys whose souls are connected to his, one of them a pianist who started playing since he was six, he used to repair musical instruments with his father and studied music in the university of Homs*, the others, just ordinary people praying for the end of the war, and dreaming of a safe united country again in their own way.

They sang: “Oh displaced people, return; the journey has gone for too long. Yarmouk we are a part of you and that will never change.”

Smailović would have loved what those Palestinians did, because he, of all people will understand the meaning of creating beauty amid destruction, and defying death with the language of the soul…Music

(I would secretly thank that man who set up his piano in front of armed police, a day after protesters in Kiev brought down the statue of Lenin, and played Chopin…he inspired me to write this post)

*Homs: a Syrian city

Editorial note:  A partial translation of the song and apologies for any inaccuracy.
“from among the ruins and under the ashes, the [Palestinian] phoenix sings for life and will rise again for the cause of freedom …”

– Imen Benyoub

© 2014, essay, Imen Benyoub, All rights reserved; photo credit ~ Rashid Essa (Almadon News), youth in Al Yarmouk Refugee Camp, ” © electronic cities” under CC A-SA, no modification to photograph is allowed

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pictureIMEN BENYOUB ~ is a multilingual, multi-talented writer, poet, and artist living in Guelma, Algeria. She is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and to On the Plum Tree and Plum Tree Books Facebook page.

The Olympics, Polio, and the Medicine Wheel, Part Two

community-seatingThe Olympics have come to a close; the Paralympics follow. Saturday evening Jennie and I watched a Gimp DVD. She is planning to show it to her Expressive Therapies class, along with some material from Bill T. Jones. Its been a while since we last saw Gimp in performance so revisiting their work was a revelation.

The Paralympics is a much-needed, if under-reported competition for athletes who happen to be disabled. The Gimp Project is a collective of dancers, able-bodied and disabled. The Paralypics is a contest; Gimp is a collaboration exploring the world of disability experience.  The first seeks perfection, the latter revels in the beauty of imperfection. The Paralympics pursue inclusion, abet separate and unequal; Gimp tells stories, often casting light on the processes that marginalize and exclude.

There is a remarkable invisibility surrounding these processes, although many activists, academics, and artists have sought to illumine them. It matters little whether these forces  exclude persons on the basis of ethnicity, race, disability, or other difference, the effect is consistent. The systems are pervasive and largely invisible; they are also profoundly human.

The Medicine Wheel holds all of human experience, offering us a view of life as a whole. There is a place on the Wheel for everything that can be encountered, even a space for our collective fear of otherness and contagion. The Wheel reminds us that we will each encounter all that is, whether directly or through the experiences of others. Our fates are inexorably woven together; the fate of each is that of all.

As we meditate on the Wheel we are encouraged to consider that while they seem real, both safety and isolation are illusory, transitory states. The last few months I have found myself wandering the wilderness that is part of the Post Polio experience. Recent health concerns continue to bring up ancient unresolved feelings, along with worries about the future. I have been repeatedly thrown back to the fear and pain of the acute illness and post-illness recovery, and the social isolation imposed on me as a Polio. I am also reminded the effects of the virus continues to impact my life and thus the lives of those I hold dear.

I’ve been exploring the experience of Post Polio through the wisdom of the Wheel. For me, now, Post Polio lies in the North, the place of aging, teaching, and eventually, making preparations to return to the Spirit World. (The North is also the place of preparation for rebirth!) The journey is complicated as I find myself trying to make sense of my nearly lifelong disability from a place on the Wheel where it is also my task to embrace a declining body.

Part of the task is to acknowledge my fear of erasure. We live in an epoch in which Polio was eradicated; we are, for most purposes, a Post-Polio world. I was taught I had survived the virus and should get on with life, ignoring, as much as possible, the devastation to my body and psyche. Yet the path of forgetting and ignoring is fraught with difficulties; the way of assimilation or “passing” is thorny. The normative prescription offers the possibility of inclusion, yet to follow that road is to participate in a collective act of erasure, to become invisible, and thus lose Self.

Every human being comes to a place where s/he is vulnerable; each of us eventually faces the treat of erasure and the powerful emotions that accompany that threat. In a culture addicted to perfection, and dismissive of difference and need, such moments carry added fear and shame. How odd such an essentially human experience is marginalized, leaving so many to face the North filled with loneliness and dread.

As a society we increasingly relegate the task of accompanying folks on the journey through the North to the health care profession and the clergy. As a result, we have marginalized the insight and wisdom that may accompany disability, experiences of trauma, and aging.  In doing so we create great suffering for the very young we profess to idolize, for we deny them context. How are they, in the face of ceaseless messages about the centrality of competition and perfection, to know they are all loveable, all sacred, beautiful, and desirable in their humanness and imperfections?

Our collective focus on perfection sells products and drives our economy, yet blinds us to the fate of our neighbors and the world. Our deeply held collective desire for safety encourages us to abandon our elders, young people, and children, threatens our very being as a species, and steals our Souls. Still, as prophesy insists, we have options. We can risk relearning the wisdom of the elders, symbolized by the Medicine Wheel, accept the complexity and terror of being human, and journey together into a Sixth World. There are, if we make it so, seats for all at the table.

– Michael Watson, Ph.D.

© 2013, essay and photographs (includes the one below), Michael Watson, All rights reserved

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

I Can Write Another Poem Tonight

450px-Tango-Show-Buenos-Aires-01After Pablo Neruda …

I can write another poem about the distance tonight.
Something about chants over shivering seconds and stolen lights,
about his mahogany eyes and forgotten Milonga dance.

But the night burns with treacherous sparks,
with thousand butterflies over cliffs and tides.

I can write another poem about him, how I craved
his lips, his words, his hands and sometimes he did too.

In nights like this, within crested dreams, he desired me
and sometimes I did too. And how couldn’t I?
The world in his eyes, I was the only one allowed inside.

I can write another poem about love and passion under
the never-ending violin sounds and voluminous skies;

when I know that everything is bound to break,
even the perfect curves chasing the ocean.

To feel that with every crash of the waves I have lost him.
To hear the whispers of his soul, faraway whispers,
even more without him,

when the night ignites under the moonlight and
poetry drops heavily on my heart, just like
the rain that strikes everything dead or alive.

And that’s all there is. In the distance someone plays
Morricone on the piano. In the distance.

My mind does not know harmony. My heart searches for his.
My voice longs for the breeze that would carry my secrets to him;

how I no longer hate the darkness of the night without him,
it’s true, but maybe I still do. Longing comes so suddenly, settles
comfortably in the shape of a precious hug and never dies.

Because in nights like this he always held me in his arms,
through the imaginary miles apart,
while poetry drifted into the distance, silently, lilac like and sad …

– Blaga Todorova

© 2014, poem and protrait (below), Blaga Todorova; photo credit ~ Dancing Tango in Buenos Aires by Jenny Mealing and licensed under the CC A 2.0 Generic license.

unnamed-6BLAGA TODOROVA (Between the Shadows and the Soul) ~ was born in Bulgaria, lives in Greece and doesn’t stop dreaming about finding new country for herself. She doesn’t consider herself a writer, but just someone who sometimes is lucky enough to be at the right place, with the right person, with the background of the right music that will bring the right words.

Blaga has been blogging for many years now and has won the friendship and following of other poets and writers for her insights, humor and sense of romance and of justice. English is not her first language, but she uses it well and it is her favorite language for her favorite artisitic persuit, writing. She has a novel in progress. She is also a rather accomplished photographer.

Although we believe Blaga was named for a relative, it is interesting to note that she shares her lovely first name with Blaga Dimitrova, the Bulgarian poet and former Vice President of Bulgaria (1992-1993) who was the inspiration for John Updike’s short story, The Poetess. We have invited Blaga Todorova to write about Blaga Dimitrova and hope to present that work on The Bardo Group blog one day.

holographic images

holographic images

these children you see
homeless hungry and alone
are to be ignored
their fate is not yours
nor that of your dear children
no need to look up
finish your coffee
catch the downtown train to work
you’ll feel better then
we have really tried
to make them invisible
but their holograms
for moral reasons
reappear from time to time
not to worry friend
winter vacation
is at hand so forget them
have another drink
give us a moment
to erase their visual file
from your memory
they’re a hologram
nothing more than an image
that somehow can bleed

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.php41V9d9sj5nL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_CHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period. Charlie’s lastest book, When Spirits Touch, Dual Poetry, a collaboration with River Urke, is available through Amazon now.

Shedding Old Skins

Clouds by Janet Beasley
Clouds by Janet Beasley

.

My throat is dry from weeping into an ocean
Where a few more droplets will not create a swell.
Nor will the sound of tears spent
Be heard above the curlew cry
Or gulls greedy, dry-throated squawk for morsels.

Can I soar above the false cries, the shouts of fury,
The passion spent and wasted on others?
As I shed my skin and stand again within my core ~ within my light
And see it travel on the wind or move along the glistening wave
Until it reaches the shore?

© Niamh Clune, All rights reserved

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (On the Plum Tree) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Her Amazon page is HERE.

From Imen with Love

1426548_493414027428304_360525756_nOriginally published on Plum Tree Books Facebook Page
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From Damascus to Istanbul: a child’s memories of a city . . . 
.
Dear Yasmin,
.
This morning, I saw the first jasmine flowers on our balcony.  They reminded me of you. That’s why I decided to write this letter.
.
We live in Istanbul now. I have new friends and I am learning Turkish. My parents never changed their habits. My father still smokes his hookah while he reads and my mother plants flowers everywhere to feel like our old house in Damascus.
.
Wasn’t it Mahmoud Darwish* who wrote once “Jasmine is a message of longing from nobody to nobody”? They named you after it. Everyone loves the way jasmine clutters like snowflakes at the sides of the road, falling everywhere and scattering scent to greet everyone.
.
Every city has its smells. My grandfather told me once that the heart of Jerusalem smells of spices and musk and Jaffa of oranges and the sea. He said smells are nostalgia and memory and the person can never forget them. Damascus alleys and houses smell of jasmine and rose water. It seems like an eternity passed since we left months ago, since I woke up to the sound of Feirouz singing and smells of freshly baked bread and my mother’s early morning ritual of making coffee and watering the garden.
.
The day we left, she put her gentle hands on my shoulders and gazed at me. Her hazel eyes were full of tears and she said: “Habibi, we have to leave. Go pack your things”. War already broke with news of bombed neighborhoods and dying people reached us daily. My parents tried to keep me away from its ugliness, to cocoon me in a world of poetry and flowers, but the war reached our little world and destroyed it.
.
The war brought death and fear. Houses were ruined. Most people fled. I always ask my mother about you. She said that you left with your family to go Jordan and that you would write to me soon.
.
When we arrived in Istanbul I was angry and my mother silent. We packed what we could take with us; some clothes and family albums, some poetry books my father used to read, a silver ornate dagger that belonged to my grandfather. I took a picture of us together, feeding pigeons in the square of the Umayyad mosque.
.
Istanbul is not so strange, Yasmine, they have bread sellers in the streets, big Bazaars and very old houses of wood, and a long bridge I can see from the window of my auntie’s house. The Adan comes from different places. There are pigeons in squares too. It is a big busy sleepless city. I love my auntie’s studio. It is full of paintings and its windows are always open to let light through. Stillm I felt lonely at the beginning because children did not understand me.
.
I miss Damascus, the clean cats of our neighborhood and my school friends; I miss our trips to Quassioun and watching people dancing dabkah at weddings. I am still waiting for your letter, but now I will send you mine with the first flowers.
.
Didn’t you always love when I told you stories?
.
Firas
.
Mahmoud Darwish ~ Regarded as the national poet of Palestine, he focused on the universal experiences of loss, exile, and identity.
.
Translations:
-Yasmin: a female Arabic name “jasmine”
-Firas: a male Arabic name “perspicacity”
-Feirouz: a very famous Lebanese singer
-Adan: prayer call
-Habibi: “my darling” in Arabic
-Dabkah: a Middle Eastern dance
-Quassioun: a mountain in Damascus

 ©2013, letter and photograph, Imen Benyoub, All rights reserved
.

pictureIMEN BENYOUB ~ is a miltilingual, multi-talented writer, poet, and artist living in Guelma, Algeria. She is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and to On the Plum Tree and Plum Tree Books Facebook page.

I Consider Myself

soldier-silhouette-at-sunsetI consider myself to be
a peaceful person
living in a place
not fraught with war
void of detonating bombs
fragments of life gone

I consider myself but
to no avail
for the rumbling of war
has never been far
as off in the distance
on foreign soils
it creeps very close
to my own back door

I considered myself to be
living my life apart
even during Viet Nam years
seen on broadcast news
of death and others tears
of something I was
unable to touch

I considered myself & then
my son joined in the ranks
of men and women called
to fight in a war fueled
by the inner turmoil
of a people distant
and out of sight

I considered myself to be
untouched by the carnage
the destruction of
people unknown to me
whose lives were
never mentioned

I considered myself & then
you came home & you
seemed different
for you brought the
memories with you
that now touch my life
to forever affect it
with war

I have known many who became soldiers. My own father and his brothers fought in World War II, my brother was in service during Viet Nam but did not see battle. But when my own son went to the Middle East, even though he was fortunate enough not to have had to be in a battle, he saw enough of the aftermath, that it has affected his life in ways I will never be able to understand.  For most soldiers do not speak of what they have seen and heard but these things, I know, cannot be erased from memory.

– Renee Espiru

© 2013, poem, Renee Espiru, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Karen Arnold, Public Domain Pictures.net

c796b9e96120fdf0ce6f8637fa73483cRENEE ESPRIU ~ is a creative prose writer and poet. She began delighting us with her work at Turtle Flight, My Muse & Angels in March 2011. The work she shares with us there includes short stories. Renee is a daughter, mother, grandmother, and seeker of spiritual peace and soul-filled freedom. She’s studied at the graduate level and has attended seminary. She describes her belief system as eclectic, encompassing many faiths. She believes “Nature is the basis of everything that is and everything that is also a part of Nature.”

an act of plagiarism…

an-act-of-plagiarism

the brown bag prophet
said
i submitted a script
for a new
television
reality show
called
the voiceless
where
a panel
of international judges
based upon
their own
personal gain
decide
on which acts
of genocide
and
human crisis
are
addressed
by
foreign intervention
saving
as
a collateral event
the lives
of innocent
women
and children
but
the studios said
that show
was
already airing
it’s called
the un

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.php41V9d9sj5nL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_CHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period. Charlie’s lastest book, When Spirits Touch, Dual Poetry, a collaboration with River Urke, is available through Amazon now.

this ain’t no foreign war…

this ain't no foreign war

boots
heels strike hard
against city streets
beneath their weight
lies the blood
of children
caught in the crossfire
of human greed
boots
heels strike hard
chiraq to la
gang border wars
death’s small bags
sold and bought
this is civil war
where are our troops
boots
heels strike hard
spin doctors’ barrage
has replaced truth
all is well
ask the dead
but they have no voice
so listen to me
boots
heels strike hard
against your eardrums
the dead call out
this is war
and we are
losing the battle
to save children’s lives

– Charles W. Martin

© 2013, poem, illustrations and book cover art, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.phpCHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period.

“Jerry,” Faulkner and the Laundromat

0014the work of Priscilla Galasso  

“The Bardo” is a place of transition, perhaps akin to Purgatory. It is common ground and a sacred space of sorts. It’s intriguing to think of the Laundromat as a place like that  . . .

David Attenborough makes a point in The Life of Mammals video about “Social Climbers” – monkeys. He says that you can tell how large a monkey’s social group is by the size of his brain. Baboons live in large, complex social structures and have the largest brains of all the monkeys. Surviving and thriving in a social environment means that you have to be able to assess situations and make an array of decisions – how to make allies and with whom, how and when and whom to fight, how to secure a mate and improve your chances of passing on your genes. Navigating social life is even more brain-bending if you’re human, I think. More subtleties are involved. Here’s a case in point: the laundromat.

When Jim and I were first married, I did laundry at the laundromat. I hated going there, for several reasons. First of all, I was pregnant. The smells nauseated me; the physical demands of standing to fold and hoisting large loads of clothes around exhausted me. It was a depressing place to be physically, but perhaps even more uncomfortable was the social aspect. You never know what strangers you might encounter. I have had some rather pleasant days at the laundromat. I met a psychic, once, who was very interesting. She could tell I was skeptical and not receptive, but she kept on talking to me nevertheless. Gradually, I relaxed and figured out how to respect her and appreciate her and communicate that to her. We parted with a hug and wished each other well. Mostly, I get a pleasant experience if I can do my laundry in silence and read a few short stories at the same time. What I often find is that the laundromat is a place to observe human suffering, my own and others’.

I happened to have selected a book of short stories by William Faulkner as my laundry companion. I grabbed it off of Steve’s stack figuring that short stories would fit nicely into those periods of time between cycles, and I wouldn’t mind being interrupted or distracted as much as I would if I were trying to tackle “heavier” reading. What I didn’t think about was that these stories of post-Civil War race relations would be cast for me on a backdrop of the urban reality of this century…and that the same awkward tensions would result. I felt like some of his characters, eavesdropping in the kitchen, when people in the laundromat would chatter on their cell phones to friends and social agents. Outwardly, I guess I was trying to be invisible. I couldn’t help picking up snatches of their lives and wondering about their stories. For example, Jerry and his family…

I’ve seen Jerry twice now. Yesterday, I recognized him as I approached the laundromat. He was wearing a diaper under sweatpants, shoes, and no shirt. He was hitting his head repeatedly and grunting. Or maybe it was more like moaning. The woman he was with may have been his mother. She was in a wheelchair with an artificial leg that looked like a sandbag. He was with another woman as well, perhaps his sister. She was the one doing the laundry. I remembered them from a month ago. They came with about seven large, black garbage bags full of clothes. They took a social services shuttle bus to get there; I knew this from hearing the mother make cell phone calls about being picked up. This woman had the sweetest, kindest voice you would ever hope to hear. Her voice was full of compassion and pain; it was lilting and rich and Southern. I would cast her as a black Mammy in one of Faulkner’s stories. Her manners were impeccable. If she had to pass around me, she excused herself, and I felt like apologizing profusely for being in the way. Her daughter (?), the other woman, spoke almost unintelligibly as she did the laundry and corralled Jerry. Even the woman in the wheelchair told her, “I can’t understand what you’re saying.” Jerry likes to wander. They don’t want him to wander out to the street and get hit by a car. They don’t want him to bother the other people in the building. Their voices called out periodically, “Jerry. Jerry, come over here.” “Jerry, honey. Stop! Jerry, come here.”

When Jerry wanders near me, I don’t know what to do. I keep my head down and my eyes in my book. Would I frighten him if I made eye contact? Would he frighten me? Another gentleman was there. He helped bring Jerry back inside when he wandered out. The mother thanked him, “You’re so sweet. Thank you, sir.” They exchanged names. He told her that he has a grandson who was hit by a car at age seven; the grandson is now twenty-five and has brain damage. “Oh, so you know. You understand,” she sighed. I learned that Jerry is thirty-two years old.

In the other corner of the room, there was a mother with a five-year old daughter, London. She looked about five, anyway. London had a pacifier. I heard her mother yelling at her. “London! Get up offa that floor! Sit your butt down here!” Her voice was sharp and angry. London began to cry. There is not much to interest a five-year-old in the laundromat. She hadn’t brought any toys or books to occupy her.

The mother talked on her cell phone while London played with the lid of the laundry hamper. I made eye contact with the child as we went about our business. She silently bent her wrist toward me, while sucking her pacifier. “Oh, did you hurt yourself?” I asked. “London! Get out of the way!” her mother said.

In the Faulkner story, Master Saucier Weddell is trying to get back to Mississippi from Virginia. He is the defeated. He and his traveling companion, his former slave who is very attached to him and his family, find themselves in Tennessee at a farmhouse. These victors are extremely suspicious. They think Mr. Weddell is a Negro. Actually, he’s Cherokee and French. The story is short, but intense. The traveler and the farmer’s younger son end up being killed in an ambush by the farmer and his Union soldier son, Vatch. The last two sentences read, “He watched the rifle elongate and then rise and diminish slowly and become a round spot against the white shape of Vatch’s face like a period on a page. Crouching, the Negro’s eyes rushed wild and steady and red, like those of a cornered animal.”

I finished my laundry in silence. I waved my fingers and mouthed “goodbye” to London who had been banished to the corner. Her mother didn’t see me.

At home, the late afternoon sun shines down on the quilt on my bed. Steve isn’t home, and it’s very quiet. I feel like crying. My brain is not big enough to figure out why.

– Pricilla Galasso

© 2013, story/creative nonfiction and photographs, Pricilla Galasso, All rights reserved

004PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ is a contributor to Into the Bardo. She started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.

“My courage is in the affirmation of my part in co-creation”, she wrote in her first published poem, composed on her thirtieth birthday and submitted alongside her seven-year-old daughter’s poem to Cricket magazine. Her spiritual evolution began in an Episcopal environment and changed in pivotal moments: as a teenager, her twenty-year-old sister died next to her in a car crash and, decades later, Priscilla’s husband and the father of her four children died of coronary artery disease and diabetes in his sleep at the age of forty-seven  Awakening to mindfulness and reconsidering established thought patterns continues to be an important part of her life work.

Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.

while the blind-lady danced…

while the blindlady danced

i asked
the brown bag prophet
if he’d heard
about
the new round
of
demonstrations
for justice
he said
yes
and
why don’t
you-all
go sing
another verse of
we shall overcome
with
any luck at all
you’ can
harmonize
with the voices
i’ve heard before
and let
your
blood
be washed away
from these concrete streets
of freedom
washed away
into the ocean
of history
like
those
well-intentioned folks
now rotting
in their graves
with
copper pennies
as their only reward
and
please
don’t bother me
with your
these things
take
time
bull
i ain’t got time
i got
this corner
and you
got
nothing

Charles W. Martin

© 2013, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.phpCHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period.

Children’s Hospital, a poem

CHILREN’S HOSPITAL, WAITING ROOM

by

Rev. Bill Cook Poetry Matters

From this side of this window-
through this glass looking
down seventeen stories –
the world is a odd place.
.
The smell of rain
has become a distant memory.
Taxi cabs – thick bugs.
People- so much seed
scattered on a hard path.
.
Who would have thought
a tiny swish rising
through a stethoscope
could so change everything.
.
Here we are a congregation
Of the suspended –
Inhabitants of a sanitized purgatory –
A communion of those who wait.
.
Here the priests and prophets
wear blue scrubs
and white paper masks.
.
Why, I ask, is it that your tiny heart,
no larger than your tiny hand,
should refuse to grow?
What providence has brought us here?
What karma? There is no answer
.
so we wait.
We wait for our names to be called.
We wait.

– Bill Cook, Poetry Matters

Re-blogged with the permission of Bill Cook, Poetry Matters. Bill is an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, serving a wonderfully diverse congregation.

  • His church: St. Paul UMC, Willingboro NJ.
  • BA. English Lit., Rutger’s, the State University, New Brunswick NJ.
  • M Div. New Brunswick Theological Seminary New Brunswick NJ.
  • D Min. Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC.

Although Bill’s had a life long love of reading poetry, he’s relatively new to writing and publishing it. In addition to his poetry blog, Poetry Matters, he has three other blogs that address spiritual matters. Most recently his poem Lost was picked up for publication by a regional poetry magazine.

Deconstructing Peace

moon-sea-cliff-137421298933417ekbDECONSTRUCTING PEACE

by

Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day, the journey in poem)

the tawny moon is good fortune’s evening grace
it draps itself on the dwindling day’s calm
while mystic mountains rise pristine and high
above an earthy base, the wizard Merlin’s realm,
with memories of a green and primal past …
…….of rootedness
…………..essential things

the air is a sweet-and-salty caramel

and Peace!
a lively Peace …

visits on the briny spray and
delights at the meeting of land and sea
at rhythms of the ocean against the shore
the waves drift in and out, fling and toss
stop, start, begin again and then again
lilting, the dew drop of a mother’s kiss
it’s the mother’s kiss …

but moonlight wanes at the liminal hour

and Peace!
capricious Peace …

sees the moon incised with holographs
from the wind-whipped edges of the Earth
read the tales of valour and cowardice
…….the blight of war
…………..the naked lives
sundering tragedies under the heel of armies
citizen’s fleeing the lacerations of their plight
frozen in the crashing horror of their fright
in this amethyst veiled night . . .
the sense of peace deconstructed
on the rise of dawn, its shredding light

© 2013, poem, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~  Phil Downs, Public Domain Pictures.net

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For the past five years on medical retirement due to a chronic, potentially life-threatening illness, I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight. The gift of illness is more time for poetry. Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #26: Her Days Are Numbered

HER DAYS ARE NUMBERED

by

Dakshima Haputhanthri

·

Her days are numbered

She was the only one who knew

The world filled with warmth

Is gonna end like dew

She thought of those she loved

Her fears aren’t new

But now it’s time, and she should say adieu

This thing that eats her inside

She had no control, it stab her life like a knife

Nothing can be done, no cure

It seems to be stealing her life

It’s so deadly, but she has determined to live for the moment

She smiled through her tears, she had no choice…

·

© poem by and photograph, Dakshima Haputhanthri, 2011 all rights reserved

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Dakshima Haputhanthri ~ is from Sri Lanka. She is a writer and poet and a lawyer by profession. She says, “I am a simple mortal with an undying passion for writing … Writing gives me wings and I fly, thinking and wondering about life and how people refuse to reveal their true selves.” Dakshima blogs at Love Among Other Things. 

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #14: With Heart Divided

DEATH BY CANCER

Excerpt from With Heart Divided

(Autobiography)

by

Donna Swanson

What do you say about dying?  Holding a hand that is already like a skeleton with skin stretched over it?  Standing in back of his lounge chair and putting your hands gently on his shoulders for fear of hurting him?  Kissing the top of his head where only a few strands of those once thick curls remain?  Saying, “I love you.” trying to make up for all those times you did not say it before?

On the night before our son, Mac, died, Jacob stopped by his daddy’s chair on his way to bed and said, “Goodnight, Dad” Mac answered “Goodnight, Jake.” John and I and Dennie had been there all day and about 10:00 I went home to get some sleep.  John stayed because Mac had begun to get really agitated in his hallucinations and he was afraid Mac, though weak, could throw himself out of his chair or hurt Shelby.

At 5:30 the next morning the phone rang and Dennie said I’d better come quickly.  By the time I arrived Mac had just won his war.  Satan had played his last card, death, and though he won a battle, he lost the war.  Mac died with his father’s arms around his shoulders and his wife’s arms holding him.  Shelby let the boys sleep until the undertaker had gone, then she sat in her chair with a child held close under each arm and told them their Daddy had gone to Heaven.

When we went with Shelby to make arrangements, the first thing she said was, “I never expected to be doing this at 33.”  Both the visitation and funeral service were held in our Church for there was not enough room in the funeral home.  The Director said he had never held a service with so many people in attendance.  Shelby and John decided to bury Mac in the little cemetery about a quarter-mile from our home.  Arrangements were made and now Mac’s grave is close by.

Of course Mac is not there.  He has changed the landscape of Heaven for us. No longer is it a place just to be talked about in sermons or read about in the Bible.  Now it is where Mac is.  And we wonder what he’s doing today.  We see Heaven through the eyes of sorrow and joy.  And death has truly lost its sting.

My family has lost many members to cancer; two sisters, a brother, my mother and several cousins.  When the battle is done and the tears have dried, the heart regains its equilibrium and life goes on.  But for the poet, part of the healing process is putting into words our thoughts and the thoughts we see reflected in the eyes of our loved ones.  These are written for my son, Mac, and my sister Jackie who died of ovarian cancer.

FROM THE SHADOWS

I step back into the shadow,

beyond the light of my family’s

celebration.

Storing memories

that must last through eternity.

I watch for the last time

each milestone celebration;

each small moment.

I take in the wonder

of the ordinary:

The smile of the morning,

The uncertain rest of the night

and the miracle of a day renewed.

As eternity beckons

I reach for the temporal,

for one last touch of mortality.

But I watch from the shadows.

© cover art, narrative, and poem 2011, Donna Swanson, all rights reserved

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Donna Swanson was born during the Great Depression in 1938 to an Indiana farm family.Youngest of eight children and a twin, she has lived her entire life in Warren County, Indiana.  A high school graduate, she chose to marry and raise a family rather than attend college; although she took classes in art, Koine’ Greek and psychology after marriage.  She has written nine books: Mind Song, published by The Upper Room in Nashville, TN; Rachel’s Daughters, The Windfallow Chronicles (a double trilogy), self-published; Splinters of Light, yet to be published, and the present autobiography.  A poem, Minnie Remembers, has become a standard tool in the study of gerontology, made into a documentary film by United Methodist Communications, and given the Golden Eagle Film Award.  It has been reprinted in most denominational publications and over twenty-five books. Mrs. Swanson is a Bible scholar and taught adult Bible classes for over forty years.  She began prayer and share groups for women in two area Churches and hosted a teenage “rap” group in her home for four years.  She counts among her mentors college professors, authors and ministers. Donna blogs at Mindsinger.