Many thanks to Nortina Simmons for publishing my poem, Articulation of a Dreamtime in Sediments Literary Arts Journal’s Newbies issue. You can read the poem here, page 38 (although of course I encourage you to read all the other fine work in this issue as well!).
In honor of National Poetry Month, River Poets Journal has posted a group of pocket poems and I am honored to have my poem 5:04 Ante Mediem included in this lovely collection.
I am also grateful to Katie Woodzick for recording my poem, Unicorn,
and to Kristin LaTour for reading my poem, The Lilies Were In Bloom, which received an Honorable Mention in Waterline Writers’ Artists as Visionaries Climate Change: Solutions contest, at the opening of the Climate Crisis art show at Water Street Studios in Batavia, IL.
Finally, the teen writing club that I facilitate at the Gaithersburg, MD library, celebrated National Poetry Month by putting up a wall of poetry at the library. These young writers are so impressive and I am grateful to the library for letting us use a wall to display their wonderful work, including a collaborative poem that we wrote during our last workshop session.
I am pleased and humbled that my poem, The Lilies Were In Bloom received an Honorable Mention in Waterline Writers’ Artists as Visionaries Climate Change: Solutions contest.
Many thanks to Waterline and to Kristin LaTour for choosing my poem! The picture is of a lotus flower at Inspiration Lake in Gaithersburg, MD, part of the field of flowers that inspired the poem.
Kristin LaTour has selected Donna Pucciani as winner, and Tricia Marcella Cimera, Jim Lewis, Lucinda Marshall and Barbara Ungar as honorable mention poets to kick off a series of climate-related readings, gallery shows, featured speakers, workshops and other opportunities this spring at Water Street Studios. The poets will have their first opportunity to read, joining a full lineup of selected writers (TBA) and Open Mic participants at Waterline Writers on Sunday March 15th at 7 PM. Luis Mejico will also perform an interdisciplinary piece based on the poems. Luis and the winning poets will share their work again on Friday March 20th at the gallery opening of the Climate Crisis art show. Both events: Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL.
In addition, Poetica, Sediments and One Sentence Poems have all recently accepted poems that I’ve written and I’ll be posting links when they are published.
Want to read one of my poems? Here is your opportunity. My poem, Unicorn was published in Stepping Stones Magazine this fall. It begins,
You were the unicorn
in the waves
but I didn’t know that
until just yesterday,
You can read the poem in it’s entirety here.
In other writing news, this fall I organized a one day writing retreat for women writers at the Fox Haven Learning Center in Jefferson, MD. The leaves were turning and it was a great opportunity for all of us to get away from it all and ignite our writing passions. You know things have gone well when the primary feedback is when can we come back and can we stay longer!
I was also thrilled to be a featured reader at the Zed’s Cafe (Silver Spring, MD) monthly poetry night in December. Many thanks to Ginger Ingalls for inviting me to be part of the reading.
And starting in January, poet Alison Palmer and I will be co-facilitating a teen writing club at the Gaithersburg, MD library as part of a program run by the Maryland Writers’ Association through the Montgomery County (MD) Public Libraries.
Happy 2015, now back to writing!
The holiday season–that time of year when we get so busy buying, wrapping, cooking and caring that we completely forget to take care of ourselves. A few years ago, during the height of all that, I reached a breaking moment and locked myself in the bathroom, did a few breathing exercises, said a few Hail Mary’s (considering that I’m of Jewish descent, that tells you volumes).
I didn’t have a smart phone then, but I grabbed a pen out of my purse, and was about to write something down until I realized that I didn’t have any paper and writing on toilet paper with a ball point pen is a thankless endeavor. So I rolled up the long sleeve top I was wearing and wrote the following on my arm:
Just for this moment
I am not your:
Just for this moment,
I am only me.
–poem by Lucinda Marshall
Feel free to write it on your arm, save it on your phone, recite it to yourself as needed, and give yourself the gift of personal space this holiday season.
Sunday morning newspaper, steaming hot coffee, peaceful reverie, lounge chair on my deck, birdsong chorus in the background–bliss until I saw the Outlook section of the Washington Post with two, yes two, life size headshots of Henry Kissinger.
My peaceful easy feeling went full throttle grumpy in a matter of seconds.
Which was quite justified when I found that this dual image travesty illustrated a review by Hillary Clinton of Kissinger’s new book (no I won’t provide a convenient Amazon link).
As a feminist, I am completely in favor of electing a woman president. It is long overdue. But as anyone who has read my work over the years knows, I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. Yes, she has done some good things, but her world outlook is as dangerous as the male politicians who have preceded her. Lest you doubt this, read the following few paragraphs from her very long review:
In his new book, “World Order,” Henry Kissinger explains the historic scope of this challenge. His analysis, despite some differences over specific policies, largely fits with the broad strategy behind the Obama administration’s effort over the past six years to build a global architecture of security and cooperation for the 21st century.
During the Cold War, America’s bipartisan commitment to protecting and expanding a community of nations devoted to freedom, market economies and cooperation eventually proved successful for us and the world. Kissinger’s summary of that vision sounds pertinent today: “an inexorably expanding cooperative order of states observing common rules and norms, embracing liberal economic systems, forswearing territorial conquest, respecting national sovereignty, and adopting participatory and democratic systems of governance.”
This system, advanced by U.S. military and diplomatic power and our alliances with like-minded nations, helped us defeat fascism and communism and brought enormous benefits to Americans and billions of others. Nonetheless, many people around the world today — especially millions of young people — don’t know these success stories, so it becomes our responsibility to show as well as tell what American leadership looks like.
Success stories? Through what warped lens is she viewing the world and our country? Rare is the book review that could be characterized as chilling. In this case, it is an apt descriptor.
Clinton is correct that many people, especially the young, don’t know these stories. But those of us who do call foul. This review is nothing short of an alarming adulation of Kissinger’s damaging tenure.
That she wrote it really isn’t a surprise, she has always bought into this toxic narrative and it tells us beyond doubt that regardless of the need to finally elect a woman as president in the United States, an Hillary Clinton presidency would be enormously dangerous.
On a recent trip to the Delaware shore, I was struck by the jarring notion that in the not so distant future, the sandy beach where I was walking would be reclaimed by the ocean. Although the weather was chilly, I took off my shoes–I needed to feel the cold, wet sand beneath my feet. Each step became a possible goodbye.
Our relationship with water is changing drastically. For years we have read about terrible droughts in Africa, floods in Bangladesh, melting glaciers in the arctic and about how our waterways are becoming polluted. Events where water–too much of it, too little of it, and the compromising of its pristine health occur are becoming more and more common:
- The historic drought in California may well spread throughout the entire Southwest.
- To make matters worse, the Colorado River is drying up at an alarming rate.
- And of course it isn’t just the American West that is in trouble. Nadia Prupis reports that, unless water use is drastically minimized…widespread drought will affect between 30 and 40 percent of the planet by 2020, and another two decades after that will see a severe water shortage that would affect the entire planet.”
- War can severely impact access to safe water as the Iraqis know all too well and as we are seeing now in the Ukraine and in Gaza.
- As can corporate greed, as we are learning in Detroit.
- Acidification is killing fish.
- Throughout the U.S. water service is frequently disrupted by pipe breaks in our aging infrastructure.
- Energy companies pollute our water at will with little real culpability. Think Elk River, think the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and fracking.
- And now we are seeing how allowing the over-fertilization of lawns can contribute to poisoning water supplies such as Lake Erie, recently leaving the entire city of Toledo, OH without potable water.
- We have littered the oceans with literally islands of trash.
- Intersex fish are being found in our waterways, likely the result of endocrine/hormonal disruption due to herbicides, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals that have made their way into our rivers.
- And of course the ongoing disaster that is Fukushima.
That, unfortunately is only the prelude of what is to come. It should be all too clear that we need to immediately change the way we think about this precious resource and take immediate action to protect and conserve water, and practice realistic land use policy in areas where there is drought and along our coasts where impending inundation is a given.
But with the gridlock and sellout of our body politic, that is unlikely to happen. And if it doesn’t, the taps will run dry, our homes will be underwater and there will be inadequate potable water. A grim (and unsurvivable) future indeed.
Many years ago, I had the privilege of attending a water blessing along the banks of the Ohio River conducted by a group called the
International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers,
The truth is our Mother Waters is dying and we are dying with her. However, in this gloomy situation is indeed a message of hope. For our Mother Water shows us that she is dirty because something is wrong with our humanity. She has, and always has, become a mirror to our souls. The simple act of blessing the rivers in fact makes a beautiful re-connection back with all that is life. You do not abuse something you have created a respectful relationship with.
We pray that our Mother Waters in all her forms celestial and physical continues to nurture and guide us. May she continue to run clean so that we and all life can be sustained. We ask for blessings for and from Mother Ganga River, Mother Osun River, Mother Mekong River, the Jordon River, the sacred Catawba River and the many more. We pray that there is healthy clean water for the next seven generations.
We would do well to heed their wisdom.
My mother lives in Arizona where the reality of children streaming into the country looms large. “What’s to be done?” she asked when we spoke the other day, as horrified by border vigilantes as I am but recognizing that we are indeed faced with a mounting humanitarian crisis. I suggested that any real solution required addressing the causes of the situation. “You should run for President,” she said. I pointed out that logic and reason are losing characteristics when it comes to politics in this country and we left it at that.
The awful thing is that as the U.S. copes with the immediate crisis along our southern border, it is unlikely to do much to address the root causes, let alone acknowledge our complicity in their creation. And if history is any guide, whatever action we do take will probably make things worse, particularly if we don’t immediately reign in the citizen militias who are the equivalent of a match in a dry forest.
As I pointed out a few weeks ago, the defense of borders, which are usually drawn at the whim of defeating forces, exacts a terrible toll. Not only are we seeing that in this country but also in Israel and Gaza, where Israeli forces, when they are feeling charitable, give Gazan civilians minutes to flee before bombing their homes, while Israeli citizens sit in lawn chairs on the bluff and cheer as bombs go off, as if they were watching an action film instead of children, real live children, being killed.
While ruminating in despair about this and the long list of other seriously awful things that are happening in the world, I was reminded of a story that Terry Tempest Williams tells in, Finding Beauty In A Broken World where she writes about learning to make mosaics. A mosaic, she learns, “is a conversation between what is broken.”
To say that we have a lot of broken pieces in this world would be an understatement. But they will not be made whole at the point of a gun, or by arrogance, greed and power.
When you are faced with a shattered mess, it is not possible to put the pieces back together as they were before. Just ask Humpty Dumpty–the King’s horses and men couldn’t fix the broken egg (and the back story probably involved the horses trampling on his shell and making matters worse). Which, in an eggshell, is a pretty apt parable for where we are in this world at this moment.
What is required in this broken world is to have the necessary conversations in order to figure out how we can put things together, not as they were before because that neither can or should happen, but in a way that what was broken becomes part of a new whole that, just like Williams’ mosaics, recognizes the beauty of each broken piece.
I am not a big fan of patriotism or the holidays that glorify it (although admittedly I’m a sucker for marching band music). I’ve never quite understood the sense of arbitrary national boundaries which then seem to need to be defended just because they are there. Neither am I a fan of wars fought in the name of those boundaries because when you strip away the rhetoric, they essentially boil down to exercises in asserting dominion and power over a perceived adversary that cost a lot of money, do a lot of damage, and ruin a lot of lives.
But yet we insist on glorifying war and honoring those that fight while at the same time doing everything we can to minimize the carnage of those battles in our histories and memories.
A few months ago, I started taking a Tai Chi class which is taught by a nice woman named Nancy. For those of you not familiar with Tai Chi, it involves moving through a series of movements in a very prescribed manner. It is both an exercise and a meditation. Nancy tells us during class that if we practice enough, we will develop what she calls muscle memory, that the time will come when we will not need to be told how to move through the movements, at some point, we will just remember.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for war–we’ve gone there so many times that it has become politically reflexive. When it comes to peace, however, we’ve had far too little practice.
In my Tai Chi class, we are learning what is called
24 form Tai Chi, which means that there are 24 movements to learn. There are other versions of Tai Chi that have more than 100 movements, obviously it takes a great deal longer to learn and develop the muscle memory of the longer form.
When it comes to talking about war, our politicians and media are quite adept at simplifying the talking points they want us to remember. They would never think of pitching 100 talking points, we would never learn that. But their simplified narrative is all too easy to remember and accept. Unlike Tai Chi however, where a simplified version of the practice can be done without sacrificing the benefit, when we talk about war and leave out a significant part of the story, it is very damaging. And if we are ever to practice peace, we need to tell the full narrative of war.
not of the soldiers of war
who bear the false flag of patriotism,
the defenders of empire’s entitlement,
but of the ones
our narrative wants to forget,
the collateral damage of battle
for whom there is no holiday,
no brass band,
no wreaths solemnly laid,
these are the ones we must remember.
Only then will we understand
that we must not to go to war.
–Lucinda Marshall, © 2014
However, I was rather pleased to realize this morning that in my efforts to be more sparse with my words (not so easy for someone who has spent most of her life writing complete sentences that grow up to become paragraphs), I have finally succeeded to the extent that one of my poems is so short I can tweet it. So here, in honor of National Poetry Month is my first official twitterverse, hopefully its brevity will leave you wanting more and if not that then gratitude that you only had to suffer through it for a brief moment:
–Lucinda Marshall, © 2014