Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better than thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.
– John Donne
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians, 15:26
Today we are mourning the loss of another friend, a good man, Ralph, to whom this is dedicated. Hence the sharing of this poem rather than the usual Thursday post.
Thank you for sharing the love of art, literature and peace.
This week’s prompt is from Priscilla Galasso and Steve Wiencek, the leads on the September issue of The BeZine.
The BeZine is currently open for submissions for the September 15 issue (September 10, submission deadline) that will focus on Environmental Justice, which is also the theme of our 100 Thousand Poets (and friends*) for Change virtual event on September 24. In order to propel the discussion into deeper focus from the outset, we invite and encourage contributing authors to ponder a few things about their perspective and their voice on this topic.
When we talk about Justice, it is sometimes assumed that people will agree on what is ‘the right thing to do’. However, as with anything else, our decision-making about Justice is influenced by our values, by the things that we deem ‘special’, ‘important’, or ‘sacred’. I propose that there are (at least) three categories of valued environments, or ‘Holy Ground’: Nature, Place and Community. Think about these three different arenas and how you see Justice being applied to them.
For example, if Community is your value, you may feel that Environmental Justice has to do with how people are impacted and how human activity creates change. If Place is your value, then questions about Justice probably will involve a particular area with borders of a physical or conceptual nature. It may be that feelings of injustice are felt in terms of ‘This, not That’ or ‘Us, not Them’ or in a desire to see a Place resist change. If Nature is your value, then you may see Justice in more fluid terms as the balance of resources between producers/consumers and prey/predator is in a state of constant flux with perhaps no ultimate goal.
So, as you sit down to write about Environmental Justice in your unique voice, identify your values. Perhaps use the lenses of Nature, Place and Community to focus. What is important to you? Why? How does it affect your decision-making? What factors impact this ‘sacred’ ground? How do different cultural models or systems impact your cherished home? What feelings arise in you – what empathy for Living Things or Living Habitats? What fears?
Thank you for spending time with these concepts and these questions. Your presence, your life energy, and your embodiment of love is a gift that we are privileged and honored to receive. Please, share your thoughts, your words and pictures with us!
What started as a poets’ event in 2011 now includes artists, photographers, musicians, drummers, mimes, dancers, arts lovers and other peacemakers. Neither the September issue of The BeZine nor the 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) virtual event to be held here on September 24 are restricted to poetry.
Send Zine submissions to email@example.com no later than September 10. For the 100TPC event, work can be shared in the comments section and via Mister Linkey. Michael Dickel, 100TPC Master of Ceremonies, will provide direction for sharing in his blog post on the 24th. All work will be archived on the site and at Standford University.
Feel free also to post comments, work in progress and questions in the comments section here today.
When I remember you
I remember the amber moon
and the burnished brown of old oaks,
their leaves like hands waving goodbye
Summertime, as dusk transitioned to dark,
we’d sit on the beach by slow cooking-fires,
their coals gone from hard black to gray dust
I cherished your warm hug in the chill of the night
and falling asleep, safe
I stopped loving you,
but I never stopped loving the memory of you
I carry that with me on lunatic trips of the heart ~
though my preference is to rest solitary on forest logs
with their stunning imperfections and those
secret-lives swirling in the sunless damp on which they rest
I think of the path that led from then to now,
a mix of smooth and rough along a rocky coast ~
I live near the sea to breathe
I imagine you living, wherever you are –
by an ocean with your skin still smelling of Old Spice,
with your well-formed hands, the hands of a pianist and surgeon,
and the high-tensile strength of your mind
In the odd geography of life, no one knows where we came from
or how it was, how it felt to be us in the days of promise
when the spell of Hudson Bay fell like a prayer to St. Christopher
That bay is no longer our safe harbor,
but it gave us our sturdy roots and strong wings
and so the nights, the nights by this bay are good
When I smile at the amber moon, it smiles at you
– Jamie Dedes
Unfortunately first loves aren’t everyone’s happiest memory. Nonetheless, they often are good experiences from which to write. Write an epistolary poem or prose piece that tells the story of your first love from the perspective of time and expresses how you feel today about that experience and that person.
“Born in Reading to Glaswegian parents, Hollie studied French and German at King’s College, Cambridge, before earning a master’s degree in Development Economics.Hollie won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009 and went on to finish 3rd in the global Slam Du Monde contest. A collection of her poems, Papers was published by Greenwich Exchange in 2012.
“A number of Hollie’s YouTube videos have gone viral and her account currently has over 3.9 million views.McNish’s first album, Versus, was released in September 2014 under the pseudonym Hollie Poetry, she was the first poet to record an album at Abbey Road Studios.Hollie has collaborated with Kate Tempest and George the Poet and they have appeared on stage with her during her 2015 tour. McNish received major national airplay on the BBC, first in January 2015 on Huw Stephens BBC Radio 1 show and then in May 2015 on BBC Radio 1Xtra in as part of a spoken word event.” Wikipedia
I thought it was okay, I could understand the reasons
They said, “There might
be a man or a nervous child
seeing this small piece of flesh that they
weren’t quite expecting.”
So I whispered and tip-toed with nervous discretion
But after six months of her life sat sitting on lids,
sipping on milk, nostrils sniffing on piss
Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers
I wonder whether these public loo feeds offend her
‘Cause I’m getting tired of discretion and being polite
As my baby’s first sips are drowned drenched in shite
I spent the first feeding months of her beautiful life
Feeling nervous and awkward and wanting everything right
Surrounded by family ‘til I stepped out the house
It took me eight weeks to get the confidence to go into town
Now, the comments around me cut like a knife
As I rush into toilet cubicles
feeling nothing like nice
Because I’m giving her milk that’s not in a bottle
Which in the cocaine generation white powder would topple
I see pyramids, sales pitches, across our green globe
And female breasts–banned–unless they’re out just for show
And the more I go out, the more I can’t stand it
I walk into town, feel I’m surrounded by bandits
‘Cause in this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
WH Smith top shelf’s out for men
Why don’t you complain about them then?
In this country of billboards, covered in tits
And family newsagent magazines full of it
W.H. Smith top shelves out for men
I’m getting embarrassed in case
a small flash of flesh might offend
And I’m not trying to parade it
I don’t want to make a show
But when I’m told I’d be better just staying at home
And when another friend
I know is thrown off a bus
And another mother told to get out of a pub
Even my grandma said that maybe I was sexing it up
And I’m sure the milk-makers love all this fuss
All the cussing, and worry, and looks of disgust
As another mother turns from nipples to powder
Ashamed or embarrassed by the comments around her
And as I hold her head up and pull my cartie across
And she sips on that liquor made from everyone’s God
I think, For God’s sake, Jesus drank it
So did Siddhartha, Muhammad, and Moses
And both of their fathers
Ganesh, and Shiva and Brigit and Buddha
And I’m sure they weren’t doing it sniffing on piss
As their mothers sat embarrassed sitting on cold toilet lids
In a country of billboards covered in tits
In a country of low-cut tops cleavage and skin
In a country of clothed bags and recycling bins
And as I desperately try to take all of this in
I hold her head up, I can’t get my head round the anger
Towards us and not to the sound of lorries
Off-loading formula milk
Into countries dripping in filth
In towns where breasts are oases of life
Now dried up in two-for-one offers enticed by labels, and gold standard rights
Claiming that breast milk is healthier, powdered and white
Packaged marketed and branded and sold at a price
That nothing is free in this money-fueled life
Which is fine if you need it or prefer to use bottles
Where water is clean and bacteria boiled
But in towns where they drown in pollution and sewage
Bottled kids die and they know that they do it
In towns where pennies are savored like sweets
We’re now paying for one thing that’s always been free
In towns empty of hospital beds, babies die,
Diarrhea-fueled, that breastmilk would end
So no more will I sit on these cold toilet lids
No matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips
Because in this country of billboards, covered in tits
I think we should try to get used to this
Over his morning coffee, he sat
dreaming of yesterday’s spring
and the hill country of his youth,
remembering summers of peace
and autumn days when he thought
life a forever thing. The world lay before
him then, a ripe field awaiting harvest.
Now beside this sad cup, a winter hand,
so withered and so gray, an old man’s
hand he barely recognized as his own.
Then his gaze found her playful smile.
In the hazel warmth of her eyes he
felt like spring again, the rich loam of
her love yielding a gentle harvest of joy