Saturday, December 28, 2019

#haikuforjustice dec 2019

 Illustration of several kids gathered around an adult holding the scales of justice. 

Once again at the end of November came the suggestion to share daily haiku, this year from Jone MacCulloch, with the hashtag #haikuforkindness. But then I was very affected by an article from the magazine Teaching Tolerance I read in the loo at my Thanksgiving hosts' house. "The harm done by long-term exposure to injustice—to the kind of imagery found in racist books, microaggressions and discrimination—calls for more than a simple understanding of kindness. It demands that kindness be interwoven with substantial notions of true justice," writes primary teacher Bret Turner. This made me want to take a step beyond kindness into the territory of #haikuforjustice.

Here's what I have come up with this month, often in response to news items.

yuletide richness inside 
bare brown scarcity outside 
sunny 60* evens things out

December 27 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice 
it's called a school strike
to stand with a striking sign
schooling passers-by

December 23 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
to you my British kin
who still buy proper Christmas cards and
then --love--actually send them

to Florence and her dad
who found a message in their Tesco card
then--love--actually heard

December 22 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
#GeorgetownGlow @GeorgetownGlow
all hanging in the same
dark sky prickly and bright
ziptied ziplined light

December 21 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
longest night broken
the throwing off of last year's
acid  excess   bile

December 18 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
Hopi R2 codetalking
decolonized rebels
force of indigenous genius

December 16 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
@RepSlotkin #principled
represent them yes
but also oath of office
head and shoulders above

December 14 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
#PublicEdForum #AllOurChildren
they all arrive
without a price tag  some
can’t see their value

Greta girl of the globe
person of the year
unable to kid herself

December 11 #twitterku #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
12:12 12/12
silent sky clock
counts out equal shine for all
cold moon justice

stand strong use your rights
to lift theirs till no one's left
defenseless alone

[no wait this is better]
everyone EVERY
one everyone everyone
EVERY one and ALL

cheeto feet to rotten crotch
to his hoggish head

2/ richly corrupt from
the start sometimes I think
about little Donnie

December 8 #haikuforjustice #haikuforkindness
#BigBird @KCHonors
Carroll, we won't forget
how to get, how to
get to Sesame Street

December 7  #haikuforkindness
washington and lee
belafonte harrier their
blackkklansman arrests me

December 5  #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
who sees what they need
who senses  who sounds  who speaks
we do   the teachers

December 4  #haikuforjustice #longformhaiku
we had never met when the
birthday girl mailed me a tiny encouragement
I keep it in my wallet

December 3 #haikuforjustice #haikuforkindness
#simoncowellisoverparty racism sexism homophobia
one voice is too little
northsoutheastwest try a fifth direction
true harmony is a mix

her dad tells me "trabajo
lunes a sabado. no puedo
llevarla al doctor"

December 1 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice #WorldAIDSDay
kindness wears a rainbow
of ribbons, red yellow pink
justice acts up


I'm not sure I've pulled it off, and certainly I have broken that cardinal rule of haiku and failed to include nature images in most of them...but I guess that comes with the territory.  Thanks, Poetic License!

Thanks also to the crew who are sharing their #haikuforkindness (also essential) and #haikufor justice on various platforms, and to Michelle Kogan who is hosting our last round-up of 2019 and blasting into a 2020 full of climate action--which is always for #justice.  See you in the new year!

Friday, December 20, 2019

summer sweetness and homage to 9th grade English teachers

I do realize that on this eve of the Winter Solstice few of us are considering that universe of sweetness known as the watermelon.  But because in our household the boy band One Direction has played a significant role over the last just about 10 years (ie half of my daughter's life) and because former member Harry Styles has just released an album called FINE LINES with a really great song (enjoy below) called "Watermelon Sugar," I have gone to my shelf of forever books to pull out IN WATERMELON SUGAR by Richard Brautigan (1968).

This book was given to me as a present by my 9th grade English teacher at Trinity Episcopal High School (Richmond, VA) in 1978.  He was a bearded corduroyed Earth-shoed Deadhead, and it was he who taught me to write (mostly by having us write, a LOT, and then commenting with radical candor), and he who made me feel seen and heard as a writer.  I hope we all have such a teacher to look back on with fondness and gratitude. [The Internet has rarely failed me, but I have searched this Jeff Harrison many times without any leads.  Let me know if he's your neighbor.]

This strange book, set in a post-apocalyptic commune called iDEATH where rivers run in widths from a half-an-inch to miles, where most things except the tigers may be made of watermelon sugar, where some people do and others don't have a regular name, is full of images and language that flavor all my poetry even 40 years later.  Here was my senior yearbook quote: "Our lives we have carefully constructed from watermelon sugar and then travelled to the length of our dreams, along roads lines with pines and stones."

On this cold dark morning I give thanks for watermelon music, for watermelon words, for watermelon sugar sweetness old and new. I don't know that I could ever go without.

The Poetry Friday round-up is brought to us today by Buffy at her blog. Let's murmurate together as one dark bird!

Friday, December 13, 2019

the best of mhb 2017-2018

cover & interior art by Miranda Barnes
In my hands I hold the third volume of THE BEST OF TODAY'S LITTLE DITTY, poems collected on the ambitious blog of Michelle Heidenrich Barnes from 2017-2018.  Many of our Poetry Friday regulars are represented in this book, including me, and we are all rhapsodizing over it, as well we should.

But today I'd just like to spotlight the creations of the creator of THE BEST OF 17-18, Michelle herself.  She has three poems in the book which serve to highlight her range of skills as a poet and the generosity that we have all experienced in working with her.

In this ode from March 2017 Michelle builds a beautiful mosaic of sensory images and then cements  them with a hanging, open question.

Ode to a Genocide Memorial | Michelle H. Barnes

The hammer sings the story
of ten thousand broken shards--
the stench of old bones
and hope's gritty aftertaste,
scrubbed clean by twenty thousand tears.
What question hasn't been asked
that has an answer?

Michelle's golden shovel poem is based on a line (the same one I chose!) from "blurred lines" by Lil Fijjii, shared in Nikki Grimes's post of March 2018.  In it Michelle deftly occupies the slippery brainspace of someone losing their memory but not their need for connection.

Forgetfully Yours | Michelle H. Barnes

There are only so many ways I can say I'm
sorry. I know that you're tired.
I am too.  Weary of
searching for words--names.
places, and all the everyday things I once
took for granted.  If only you
could read my mind! Say
what you will, I probably won't believe it.
Because unless you
can dip a net into my fishbowl world, you can't
imagine how slippery it is. Let them take
my memories, my dignity, my hope. None of it
matters as long as you come back.

And finally, Michelle playfully celebrates her fellow Floridian, our dear one Lee Bennett Hopkins, by casting him as a dino with a taste for poetry.  "Robust and unreserved" also describes Michelle's appetite for the work of sharing poetry, in which she always takes the lead. 

Don't Ask a Hopkinsaurus | Michelle H. Barnes
         for Lee Bennett Hopkins

The L.B. Hopkinsaurus
is a rare and noble breed--
a prince among the wordivores,
he always takes the lead.

At feasting "dino"ccasions
when poetry is served,
his taste for inky gobbling
is robust and unreserved.

He might appear well-mannered
but once he's on a roll,
he holds the Guinness record
for collections swallowed whole!

The L.B. Hopkinsaurus
wears a venerable crown.
Don't ask him to retire,
or even to slow down.

This Energizer Dino
with his charismatic roar
says when it comes to Poetry,
we all should eat much more!

I am so grateful to Michelle for relentlessly and graciously bringing us all together month after month to feed, learn from, be challenged by, and encourage each other. Raise your glass or mug or bowl...Here's to Michelle!

The roundup today is with Liz at Elizabeth SteinANDglass, who is appreciating duality this week.  See you there!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

sunday swaggers challenge: the beauty in the ugly

Our critique partner Molly Hogan set this month's challenge, called “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” She writes, 'I participated several years ago in a photo challenge from Kim Douillard to “find beauty in the ugly.' This month, I invite you to reinvent the world around you (or one aspect of it) by shifting your lens to see the beauty in what at first seems to be ugly or unnoteworthy. My [original] post is here. Happy Writing!"

Thanks, Molly--this was a perfect one for me over the last couple of weeks.

punching balloons

I didn’t like to go to school.
I didn’t talk.
The teacher was nice, SO nice,
but some children were not.

They didn’t share.
They didn’t listen.
All around me ugly talk
and even sometimes punching.

Every day got worse
and I got scared.
The teacher got scared too.
And then one day she YELLED.

Not at me.  At them.
And they listened!
Especially about the tiny treats.
Everyone wanted a tiny treat.

The ugly went away, almost all
at once, and then we all won stars together,
one, two, three four FIVE!
Our balloon party was beautiful, 

just like we are beautiful 
punching all the colors gently up
in the cozy calm air of our classroom.

©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

Please gently punch your colorful way over to these Swaggers' blogs to enjoy more beauty out of ugly!

Catherine Flynn @ Reading to the Core 
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone 
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise 
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

Our host this week is Tanita over at [fiction, instead of lies].  Thanks for rounding us up, Tanita!