Spent the day working at home, cleaning and organizing my desk and closet. In the midst of the dust upheaval, I unearthed my bin full of old journals and literary magazines. Thought I’d share a poem of mine published in Spires Literary Magazine, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, Spring 2005. The summer before I returned to school my mother’s father moved in with us due to his decreasing health. I wrote this while sitting in the kitchen at home one night.
When Grandpa Came to Live With Us
When Grandpa came to live with us–
it was because he needed oxygen
think with rainwater,
similar to the
which stewed outside
Strange enough, Wisconsin summer,
humidity so thick I couldn’t breathe
In the house
a whole woods full
a cowbird’s call
in Grandpa’s cough
seven june bugs
like pill bottles
The stir of leaves
cracks of sticks–
an oxygen machine
The long blowing
of the grasses
and tree branches,
steady hum of a sleeping
I’m reporting again. On March 9, 2011 the Wisconsin State Senate voted on the budget repair bill without democratic senators present. What has been proposed for two weeks as the only way to balance our state budget, and described as an economic plan, omitted every part of the bill that mentioned fiscal issues, thereby making the democratic representatives’ presence unnecessary. The result, an unchecked and unbalanced vote to end labor unions and collective bargaining rights. Senate members met illegally without due notice and voted on a bill that was not even present at this meeting, and never available to the public. The following is the footage from the actual voting process and a spoken word I wrote in reaction to this shameful event.
I grew in a state where houses
were sprinkled from a watering can
where budding cities sprouted like beanstalks
and the families, its leaves,
called out Forward!
Fifty years of paving progress
only to be wiped out
in one shady chamber room.
Shame! To you Governor Walker.
Shame! To you politicians
who don’t speak for your constituents
and ignore their educated,
respected, and collected VOICE!
Do you not see the eyes of 50,000 faces
staring into your windows,
which should be THEIR windows
waiting for an invitation into their own home?
Can you not hear them knocking?
They come to you as equals
and still you won’t look at them without lies.
Holy, holy, holy
who marched on the capital stairs
with their families and their signs,
sleeping on the sidewalks,
spilling out into the streets
they beg to have a word,
but still you haven’t heard!
What times are these
when human rights
are fallen on deaf ears?
you’ve left our communities
fearing but not quite believing
our democracy could end.
But with crafty hands
you penned a legislation
not even present at the voting table,
and yet so evil
it was voted in “aye!”
God bless you,
for standing up against
the murderers of the middle class!
We are a grieving public.
But our anger and our fear
will be mended
one signature at a time,
oh yes, we will sign!
For the voices in that room
did not represent our state
we will change the faces
that sit in that shady chamber room
that took away our voices,
yours and mine,
we will meet again
when we send you
that sweet forgotten postcard,
our love note to our capital,
that check in a ballot box,
we’ll sign it,
“wish you weren’t here!”
For you are not Wisconsin’s governor!
I know the rules of blogging platform. We are not supposed to dive into the political, so if you don’t want to listen just click on my Jane Austen post instead. But I can’t silence my head. I’ve argued with people, paced around the house, drove around listening to NPR, and spent countless hours worrying about the future and my family. If you didn’t know, Wisconsin is in an uproar regarding Governor Scott Walker’s plan to end all unions. Thousands of state workers and teachers have rallied in protest at the capital all week long. I really do understand the downsides to a union, in fact, in my job I educate new hires on why our company opts to do without a union, but four people in my family are union members through WEAC or other state positions. And with the plans Governor Walker wants to put forward it will mean less pay every year for our educators and increased pay ins for health benefits. All I’m doing is sharing a spoken word I wrote today because it’s heavily on my mind. I thank you for listening, and whichever side of the struggle you fall on, please send support to my family as I know a battle lies ahead.
I Heard the Cry on the Capital Stairs
This is an appreciation.
You’ll have to forgive my fixation
but this crowd-
balled up against the capital stairs
speaking out so loudly
I can hear it from 200 miles away!
Kill the Bill
to those who won’t even agree to listen
yet admit that their legislation
could use a little editing.
Well I learned how to proofread,
but sometimes a mistake
is not so easily repaired by the
force of an eraser on paper.
Sometimes it can never be taken back
and it becomes a mandatory civil disobedience,
a role call of citizens who speak up
and speak out about why
you can’t tear down a structure
like a building and not acknowledge
you’re leaving a mess.
And that is why we are here today!
That is why some of your children
could not attend school
because their teachers chose to walk out
rather than spend the day in denial of their own voice
their own voice
handling the matters that impact them directly.
So if you know a teacher,
are related to a teacher,
and Heaven bless you if you are a teacher,
SPEAK now SPEAK strongly
SPEAK with the conviction
of a child raising their hand and asking WHY?
Never stop asking questions!
Never doubt for a moment that our nation
would never learn how to read or count
or grow without our teachers preparing
every class lesson and opportunity
a child is given
by devoting their own free time
to the success and the future
of the next generation!
Say thank you!
Say you hear them!
Say you know there are changes yet to come,
but not from a tumbling structure undone,
in this day, while we stand
united on the capital steps
let us SPEAK,
even if you find yourself only able
Let all voices be known as a face,
a part of the answer,
not the problem!
Say thank you!
Say you hear them!
Say you have the courage
and the remembrance of a teacher
who has shaped your own life
to SPEAK out
and never stop SPEAKING!
Lorine, I came here to find you.
I sought to hear you–
calm, cool voice like good earth, silt.
I imagined us walking together
thick glasses and stockings
side by side
with black leggings, gray jacket,
my red hair.
I was not expecting to see
little boys in search of cattails,
leaves with insect bites,
smelling flowers that have
begun to dry up.
I walked all the way to the bridge
and asked you which side
owned the prize view.
The right, sun setting blaze orange
behind the telephone lines
leading to the industrial park
behind the marsh fields,
or the left,
the river bend that curls
around the woods to the beaver dams,
the heron perches,
the grandfather bluff?
a heron and an eagle
soared past our shadows
making an invisible helix before the heron
gargled out a surrender
and waited patiently, blue neck in the tall grasses,
waded undisturbed nearby.
Few padded footsteps, heels covered in field dust,
the trail exit ahead
I walked feeling like the air was different,
my troubles, not so weighted
like the mud we had to cross.
I breathed blessings
on my walk with Lorine.