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After the third beer

The truth trips

Telling off his tongue.

 

He does a good job

Of masking contempt

Otherwise, but booze

 

Bring out the illogical

And unlock what he

Truly thinks. The way

 

To imagine her slunk

In a corner, cowering

At all he’s done

 

To rescue

Inferior her.

His willingness to take

 

On a fallen woman

A superman cape

His ego can wear

 

Around the other abuses.

“Get back down into

Yourself” he commands,

 

Indirectly, of course,

With words not chosen

But hurled forth

 

From the grey matter

Where they’ve drunk

Cocktails together for decades.

 

This is Poem #33 from the  Poem (almost) Everyday Project. Starting in mid-January 2016, I decided for one year to wake mornings and write a poem before my first cup of coffee on each day that I didn’t teach. I was working part-time then, so in the end I wrote 241 poems.  These are second drafts of  those pieces copied directly from my journal with minimal editing from their “vomit draft” state.

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In English class

I teach two African

Girls who’ve experienced

 

Such trauma in their

Home country, they have

No memories of their childhoods.

 

It’s interesting that

Michonne wields a machette

as her weapon of choice

and skill

and grace.

 

How she dances

With her implement

of destruction

 

The beautiful beheadings

of zombies.

 

She spins. Her powerful

Arms, her smooth

And perfect skin,

 

A foil to the failing,

Falling, pallid

zombie flesh.

On January 11, 2016 the world learned that David Bowie had died at age 69 of cancer. Heartbroken, I turned to poetry, and wrote “#DavidBowieReal” and thus began a year-long project that I called something like a “Poem-a-Day (for-everyday-that-I’m-not-teaching.) This was inspired, I believe, by a Robert Bly and Donald Hall poetry reading I’d attended several years earlier after Bly had published his collection, Morning Poems. Bly discussed how he’d embarked on the year-long project of writing a poem a day each morning before he even got out of bed. Later, he edited and collected the best of these into one of his acclaimed collections of work.

My approach was a little different. I wrote on my couch with my first cup of coffee near by, and decided that on the days that I need to be out of the house by 6:45 am, I would not require the writing. Hence, the total of 241 poems rather than 365. (In the end, Bly’s deemed 82 of his worthy to make it into his book.)

I posted a few here as I was immersed in the project, but most of them have sat dormant in my writing journals for over a year and a half.

2016 was a good year to have such a project going. It was a terrible year filled with significant celebrity deaths – after Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds – and that “election” we endured . . .  As well as personal trials and tribulations, and I’ve always intended to go back and “do something” with the work.

Now, after reading Maggie Millner’s article “Instapoets Prove Powerful in Print” in the latest issue of  Poets & Writers , fretting over the fact that I’ve not written much poetry since January of 2017, and missing the virtual artist communities of TGAP and the Myspace Poetry Society,  I’ve decided to publish all (or maybe most) of the poems from this project here in their unedited glory, in order, one a day.

I hope you’ll join me for this literary adventure.

 

 

 

~An Ode to Hugh Hefner on the Day of His Departure

Where the hell were the grown-ups

that blissful afternoon

when Geoff and I unburied

that stack of Playboys

in a Canadian closet?

 

We spent that balmy midday

draped over twin beds, hunkered

down to learn what adults had

refused to tell us

 

from those glossy pages –

the airbrushed women,

the naughty cartoons,

the articles that everyone

claimed to read.

In season four of Friends, Phoebe, a vegetarian who’s pregnant with her brother’s babies (don’t worry, she’s a surrogate), starts to desperately crave meat.  Joey, known for his love of meatball subs and pepperoni pizza, offers a karmic, equal exchange with his friend; he’ll give up meat until the babies are born, so that Phoebe can satisfy her yearning. This way, no extra animals will die, and Phoebe can eat them without much guilt.

I’m proposing a similar exchange in our efforts to support each other as activists against most of what the new Republican administration in the United States is lodging. From banning refugees, to appointing incompetence, racists, and misogynists to key advisory and cabinet positions, to threatening to build billion dollar walls across our border, to the Dakota Pipeline, to impending LGBT discriminatory legislation, cuts to the arts, wiping of climate data from government sites, and on and on, this regime has come out with their guns blaring against progress and most of what makes being human have meaning. In states like New Hampshire, we also have new threats like “Right-to-Work (for less)” and our own version of Betsy DeVos pending.  Many are beginning to realize that this rapid on slaughter against all that we hold as valuable is no accident of trying to accomplish too much too soon. This is a calculated attempt to distract and wear down those of us committed to fight. We cannot let this happen.

But, we’re exhausted. So what can we do?

Last week, I had an appointment with my PCP. This was just a week or so after we’d glanced over and realized we were standing next to each other at the Women’s March in Concord. We knew each other’s politics and most of my visit was about how the current political climate was affecting my well-being. She reminded me to keep a slow, steady anger brewing, so that I do not fall into despair and inaction. I believe she was also giving this advice to herself. At the end of the visit, she  encouraged me to take occasional time off from news and prescribed Zoloft. She’s worried about my serotonin levels.

So, what does this all have to do with Joey, Phoebe, and Friends you may be asking? Well, let me tell you. We’ve all got to be willing to let someone else figuratively give up eating meat for us for a day or a week or maybe more, so that we can take care of ourselves.

As activists, let’s support each other by offering to hold up the torch for those who need a news-free weekend, or cannot take the day off to attend a deliberative session or a protest rally. I know that I can turn off news notifications for a day, if  I’ve got others paying attention while I’m not. And I, in turn, will do for others.

There is a post traveling around Facebook about how musicians carry a long note and cover for each other so that they have the chance to breath while singing. We must breath. We must support each other. We must persist and resist.

Now I know, better

Than ever, why you exist.

(Tyranny, Militia, and the like)

 

So, my question becomes

What will be my weapon

Of choice: Poetry

or an AR-15?

 

This morning I laced-up

My Doc Martens.

Your mother wears combat boots.

In 1991 my husband, Doug,was enrolled as a Plant Science and Conservation major at the University of Maine in Orono. He walked into the first day of his Soils and Vegetation class that fall a little early. A few other male students had also arrived. When the professor, an older male, walked in he looked around the classroom noting that none of the female students on his roster had arrived yet and declared, “Oh good! No sluts here yet.”

Doug didn’t speak up at first, but sat in horror as each young woman entered the room, notebook and pen in hand, and ready to learn. When the class ended, he immediately went to the Dean of Life Science and Agriculture to report the incident. The Dean informed him that since the professor was close to retirement, they would take no action against him.  I would like to think that today, twenty-five years later, we have made enough progress that the school would do something when a young man steps forward as an ally to the young women with whom he is sharing an education, but I’m not so sure.

This fall my daughter, my niece, and many of my female students will start college in the United States where each of them will statistically have a  1 in 4 chance of being the victim of sexual assault while a student there.

When Donald Trump refers to his recently leaked remarks about women as “just words” or  simple locker-room talk and when others defend him and claim that all men talk like that, they are doing damage to more than the orange tyrant’s campaign. Words spoken from the podium have power not only over how young women view themselves, but  over how young men view them as well.

The other day in my high school English class, Hillary’s Mirrors ad started before a Youtube clip that I was about to show to my students. As the commercial played a few boys in the class said things like, “Yah, Trump’s the man.” As I tried to pause the commercial, I failed to address the incident in a meaningful, teachable moment sort of way; these days, the political realm is so contentious, teachers are afraid to discuss the election. I now realize, however, that not only did I let down every young woman in that room, I also let down those young Trump supporters as well.

When I return to school this week, I will address not only what happened in class, but the ways in which words like those spoken by Trump are harmful to our world and have long reaching effects on the ways that women and men view themselves and each other. They must understand that actions such as domestic violence and rape can result from such contempt. The Representation Project

We need to teach young men to not only respect women, but to stand up for them when they can. Each time a man nods and smiles or laughs at disparaging comments about women without speaking out against them, he’s condoning them.

Where I teach, our feminist club is advised by a cis-gender, straight, male teacher. What a wonderful modeling of allyship for the girls and boys we educate. As much as some are claiming it, it is false that all men talk like that. Some do. Others listen to it. And some speak out against it and work with us to make things better for the women of this world.

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