Never Victim, Servant, Or Beggar

Image result for strong woman in artImage courtesy of:Linda Ryan https://lindaryanart.com/tag/strong-women/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet ~ Ghandi

I can choose to walk like a wounded warrior,

allowing the scars of old battles to reopen and fester.

I can choose to act like a servant,

the invisible maid that cleans your messes,

only known to you when I leave behind my dirty rags.

I can choose to be a supplicant

the one that begs to be heard,

while you stand over me

the master of rules and the keeper of keys

But I won’t be a victim, a servant or a beggar.

I will choose to run unscathed

by the arrows that attempt to slay me.

I will choose to be the mistress,

a visible force that refuses to feign a lowly existence.

I will choose to be my own sovereign nation;

one who raises her voice, stands up and never kneels.

 

Day 11: This is for anyone who is or has been in a situation or position where another or others treat you as their inferior.

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Looking Out My Front Door

Image result for storm clouds and palm trees in art

Image courtesy of: https://www.wallpaperup.com/41454/art_paintings_ocean_sea_seascape_storm_waves_spray_drops_moon_clouds.html

 

Tonight I watch gulls

dancing across a steel gray sky

and wonder if they are warning us.

The clouds are rolling north,

the edges like sea foam swirling on an angry tide.

Sea birds are swooping,

diving deeper into the surf,

 becoming milky specks with upturned wings

Their music sounds an alarm

like a tuneless and high pitched gong.

From the left corner of the atmosphere,

thick hot air blows the palm trees up

like the inside of a skirt.

Darkness shrouds the house in an ominous slant.

  I sit while the gulls sing

and wait for the rain to tiptoe in.

 

Day 10: This was spontaneously drafted on Monday the 8th as I watched a weather front move in. Humid days and nights are slowly announcing themselves. The sky looked like the sea, thus the reason for the image.

My Body, My Self

-FASHION STYLIST & CREATIVE DIRECTOR-

Image courtesy of: http://elizabethajomale.tumblr.com/post/106274743769

“Embedded in the American Constitution was the right to privacy. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well- meaning but without understanding.”  ~ Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

What is women’s fundamental freedom?

PRIVACY

Our stories are personal and parallel

Reproductive and Sexual

It is my mother’s in 1962: Age 24

Whose kidney disease left her unable to bear more children

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER

When abortion was illegal

No option for a tubal ligation

Instead she was placed on medication

THE PILL

It is my mother’s in 1981: Age 43

A missed period and a pregnancy scare

When abortion was legal

An inevitable decision she would have had to make if the results had been positive

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER IF SHE DIDN’T

It is mine in 1998: Age 37

  Mother of two beautiful boys

Abortion is legal

BUT

Loud, violent, deadly protests

Fierce and frightening gauntlets

form to block entrances to care

I fear a failure of birth control

An accidental pregnancy

I want a permanent procedure

The experience felt like a Prohibition speakeasy:

sordid and secretive,

a place of secret codes and knocks.

Why is it that we vainly celebrate,

freely flaunt,

and strongly sanctify,

men’s sexual freedom and prowess

without risk of consequences?

They have unconstrained access to

inexpensive condoms,

erectile dysfunction medications,

and vasectomies.

 While women’s vaginas and uteruses

are held under lock and key

by legislative laymen

intent on keeping women either virtuous or vilified.

WE WANT A SENSE OF OUR OWN AGENCY!

A woman’s right to privacy begins and ends with her body.

A woman’s body is her house.

She has a right to stand her ground

against all unwanted intruders

whose sole aim is to take away

her freedom, safety and privacy.

 

Day 9: Much of this poem has been lifted from a speech I gave before the state Constitutional Review Commission last spring. There had been an attempt by the Religious Right to amend the right to privacy.  All State Supreme Court cases involving abortion had hinged on this fundamental right. Thankfully,  the  Commission decided not to take up their attempt at an amendment. However, this legislative session and new governor are bent on restricting access to care for all women. As I write this, bus loads of advocates have driven to the state capital to lobby against proposed legislation related to further restrictions. Interestingly, the quote from Justice Brandeis was from a case about Prohibition!

Patriarchy’s Playbook

Image result for patriarchy in art

Image courtesy of: Saatchi Art Artist Priyesh Soni; Painting, “Feminist” #art

 

When you’re born female, the sublimation begins

They dress you in pink and hand you a doll

You’re taught to measure yourself through the lens of Barbie’s Body

But you want to run with the boys,

race them on the track and on the trails,

 play in the dirt

wear their pants and ride their bikes.

You fight for your rights in courts and on the streets.

Battles are won.

Laws are passed.

Equality is at hand!

But it’s been a myth all along.

Repressive regimes have been growing underfoot and under your nose.

(If you want the truth).

They want to hold your brain and body hostage.

They want to quell your true nature.

Your intellectual and sexual expression are to remain shrouded,

never to be shown.

They tell you that you are the stumbling block,

the provocateur of your brothers’ lustful sins.

Your leggings* and sport bras** are distractions to praying and playing boys.

  The patriarchy plays the long game.

Your freedoms will not expire quickly.

They will slowly become nonexistent.

They will transition from solids to gasses.

A  purification of the female:

Death by a thousand little cuts

 

Day 8:Having come of age in the 1970’s, I remember being on the track and cross-country teams with the boys because we had yet to develop a girls’ program. The boys were great mates. Later, when we had a girls’ team and when I joined an AAU one, I remember strongly the feeling of empowerment and freedom as a young woman. What is happening now is absolutely appalling. We will not go down without fighting!

*https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/01/fashion/leggings-notre-dame-controversy.html?emc=edit_nn_20190407&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=8029016320190407&te=1

** https://www.teenvogue.com/story/college-student-ended-sexist-sports-bra-ban-odyssey-essay

Manufactured Milk and Honey

Related image

Image courtesy of: https://saunteringpilgrim.com/2016/11/20/giving-thanks-in-the-land-of-milk-and-honey/

 

You say this is Paradise

You sing songs of praise

You compare your sunny sunshine

to places of blustery blizzards

as if the cold snapping

  and wind whipping weather

is a permanent hell,

rather than a seasonal phenomenon,

a life cycle that births the fields that feed us.

And what of your impervious impenetrable scape?

Is it a highway to heaven?

How far can you see?

Have you looked up from your holy book?

Have you yet to temper

your sallow sermons

your vicious verses

your jaded judgments

that you’ve been unleashing on others?

Where is the  Love?

The Openness?

The Affirmation of Another’s Humble Humanity?

Beware of Paradise!

Dig just a bit deeper

Flip that coin

You may very well find another treasure trove

A revelation

that it is nothing

but a cult-like con game

a parkway for plutocrats

 serial suppressors of fundamental rights

a no mans land of malls

drive by maniacs*

where Guns, God and “Girls! Girls! Girls!” coexist

as if divinely ordained.

 

* A recent news story here where a man shot two others, killing one, in a road rage incident

Day 7: This one is an amalgamation of various experiences, observations and  news items from living here in the sunny South.

Mountains on My Mind

I dream of a woodland retreat.

A mountainous oasis.

Walking in the forest

Bathing in nature

as the green canopy of hardwood trees

sways and sings.

My boots help me find my way.

I pause and listen to a rushing stream.

As I  leap onto slippery and misshapen rocks,

I pray for balance.

I lean toward the outstretched hand of my son,

who seems to have danced on the water.

His fording is eased by the length of his body.

I long to be more limber and less awkward.

  My backpack hugs my body

I feel oddly at ease with its great weight.

 As I take deep, deep breaths,

I feel the tension slough off my body.

Can mountain air comfort you like a warm blanket?

The long granite beds replace the scrambled boulders.

Another summit

Another Celebration

We rest upon them and gaze into Infinity

At one with the Divine

 

Day 6: In 12 days I head north.  My spirit yearns for cooler altitudes and time with my tribe. The photo is from a hike to Camel’s Hump in Vermont that Emily and I completed. I have yet to write about that day!  One of the most mentally challenging in my life…

Morning Deluge

Image result for morning rain

            Image Courtesy of: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/early-morning-                rain-sallie-wysocki.html

 

Held hostage by the gravity of sleep,

the ceiling fan spins its hum.

The alarm has been snoozed

My mind fogged is fogged by dreams

It starts as a tapping

and moves quickly into a steady beat.

I kneel at the window,

my eyes unfocused,

peering into the early morning darkness.

I only see trees swaying

Awake now, I stumble down  the hall

and in mere seconds

the sky has released a deluge.

The park is filling with an amber rain

Black puddles shine in my back yard

Overhead, thunder rolls and rumbles

Its vibrations felt by my feet

I pray for its passing

and the easing of the rain.

I long to run before my work day begins

The trail will be flanked by vernal pools

hundreds of frogs

-immaculately conceived-

will engage in their chorus.

In these few moments

A reincarnation of Old Florida reveals itself

Beckoning and Begging and Beseeching

to be Saved before it sinks.

 

Day 5:  Fine tuning this before the end of  a work day.  Written in the early hours.  Published now.