National Poetry Month – Ten Days Strong

National Poetry Month was inaugurated in 1996.  To begin, it needed poets and poems.  But to continue it does need that basic of basics – money.  If you are so inclined follow the link to support Poets.org Donate! They are offering gifts!

 

Our Poet today is Laura Beasley with a poem written in 2000.

 


Touch the Sky

written by Laura Beasley

I have cancer and I might die.
Fatigued and exhausted, on this bed, I lie.
Still my spirit wants to touch the sky
And my soul throughout the universe fly.

Cancer is a blessing, cancer is a curse.
But cancer is far from the very worse.
Depression would need its very own verse
With hours of time about which to converse.

For me there has been a transformation of life,
Challenges, struggles and significant strife.
To be a different kind of mother, a different kind of wife
Cuts at my being like a razor-sharp knife.

I was a whirlwind of activity, standing proud and tall.
Now I’m little more than an inert flesh ball.
The shadows hang like dark night fall
And into my bed, I once again crawl.

7/26/00

National Poetry Month…listen to the wind, kiss a poet!

Our poet today is Erica W. Jamieson

Graveyards II

written by Erica W. Jamieson

Things we saw in procession: One pimp, at least two, but I’m thinking three, hookers that my father may have helped once.  Four freeways, a slew of plywood boarded store fronts. No less than ten tattoo makers.  One black very old Caddie missing the front fender.  A ghost town harboring magnificent burnt out mansions on weeded lawns planted with  broken bits of fence, a dead cat, three boys shaded by low riding hats, a market flanked by large leather coated security dudes.  An old woman pushing an empty grocery cart, two small children without shoes.  An Asian woman running.  A large well kept catholic cemetery, a winged angel crying on stone, three obelisks with beautifully carved crosses.  An open grave, earth to sky, an estranged daughter, a tearful second wife.  An imported Rabbi.  And we say:

O’ She Shalom, bi ma tov hu ya a she shalom.

National Poetry Month…still!

Our Poets today are Liz Eisen and Mary Rose Betten.

Words

Written by Liz Eisen

The words dance in my head in the solitude of the night. Perfectly formed and placed now, these same words elude me during the daytime hours. In the dark, they roll around begging for the chance to be. I recite the words over and over in my head, committing them to my memory. Certain that I will not awaken with amnesia.

The Un-Sub, aka:  MY VOICE

written by Mary Rose Betten

My mother would wash my mouth out
with soap if I talked like MY VOICE. It
yells at me to get in and intuit issues
from thin air- no map and no address.
That’s no way to live, isn’t normal.  Away
it speeds to find something accessible,
jumps out, sniffs around, switches things,
sums it all up like  a bumper sticker. Kid
if you want to be a poet have somethin’ to
show for it. And we’re off to places one can
only imagine where it questions like the FBI,
arranges statements and away we go as it lights
up demanding we astound and if I ‘m interested
in staying alive I better keep my mouth shut
and find places that pay to submit our work.

National Poetry Month- Day Six: Why Poetry?

Why Poetry?
Amy Lowell wrote, “Without poetry the soul and heart of man starves and dies” (from Amy Lowell, Poetry and Poets: Essays (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1930) 30-58. Previously published in North American Review 206 (1917): 762-777.)  More of her essay can be read at  Why Read Poetry
Poetry is one of the art forms that defines our culture. It improves the quality of life both for those who create it and for those who appreciate it, educating and invigorating the citizenry, and enhancing people’s lives by providing them with deeply meaningful experiences.”  (Poetry in America, Key Findings, Key Findings.)
John Lundberg wrote for the Huffington Post the story of a poetry reading by Anna Akhmatova in 1944 Moscow that  was received with such enthusiastic applause that Stalin recognized her power and wondered who had organized the ovation. Why You Should Read Poetry
Google the question, “Why we read poetry” to find a feast of poetic reasonings on the question of Why!
Laura Beasley is our poet today.  Below is a poem she wrote in 2009 about her odyssey with Cancer.

The First Seven

written by Laura Beasley

She helped me by example of what I shouldn’t do.

She helped me with a tape that I should listen to.

She helped me with her presence, a quiet way to share.

He helped me with his smiles, hugs to show he cares.

He helped me with his willingness to be there for his friends.

He helped me with his vision of a love that never ends.

She helped me with her writing which showed what she could feel.

Cancer killed my seven friends who gave me strength to heal.

9/19/02

14 Ways to Celebrate Poetry – Day 5

More ways to celebrate poetry this week:  Terry Wolverton will be leading a free poetry workshop at Skylight Books, there is still time to RSVP, and Sonya Sones will be reading from The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus on April 10 in Diesel Books in Brentwood.  It’s all listed at the Los Angeles Blogpost 14 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month in Los Angeles, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/03/14-ways-to-celebrate-national-poetry-month.html.
Today’s poet is Mary Rose Betten

This Is My Beloved

written by Mary Rose Betten

I divine words
dream words
drive words

 

persistence accelerates
demands cohesion

 

Switch off
that car radio
Turn on
some air

 

Answer loves command
Get Down

 

Sticky note it
Don’t be a
tease
Pull over
Set it free

 

I park
where none dare
linger

 

Penetrate
the void

 

Inky
words burst
warm upon
my thighs

 

My forehead
comes to rest
against
the steering wheel
Cooled in
sweet surrender

 

Poetry Month Day Four – Put a Poem in Your Pocket!

Keep a poem with you all day long!  Pocket Poetry  can be found at http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/406 or create your own!  Our Poets today are LIz Eisen and Erica Jamieson.

Valor

written by Elizabeth Eisen

A mother buried her son today, a brave young man who gave his life for the country he loved. Nineteen-year-old boys should be studying for midterms or texting friends during dinner or going to the beach, they should be leaving their clothes on the floor, not their blood in a foreign country. Warm spring days are for driving with your son to buy new socks, not for riding in a black limousine following the hearse. Just shy of his twentieth birthday your son is laid to rest and I pray that you saw that we were there, thousands of people lined the streets of your path from church to grave with our hands across our heavy hearts and our flags poised high, tears blurring the sunny day. Gratitude to the Patriot Riders, the veterans whose motorcycles rambled through to pave the way for your solemn journey and to the four-year-old boy holding a sign that simply said Thank You.

In honor of U.S. Army Spc. Rudy A. Acosta

Thirty Days

written by Erica W. Jamieson

There are trains in our past.  Wooden tracks that we placed introspectively through our hearts winding down hallways, in and out of bedroom doors underneath the crib and below the double sized bed that still doesn’t fit him well.  Once I was the passenger to his engineer.  I did double duty reading my novel as we traveled through phosphorous towns of make believe.  Then came bicycles, a pair of skis, a scooter, a broken arm and always boats.  He sails over wings of waves. Fish and yellow birds protect his travel.  A father follows in the dingy.  In thirty days, is it less? It will be a car, no chase boat.  Locomotion fulfilled by a small rectangular slip of freedom.  He will say Can I have the keys, and I will watch him go. I feel those small tiny knees across bare floors wobbling tush motoring his first ambulations.  See how those antecedent steps propelled him away?

Poetry Month Day Three…

Poetry goes viral!  Check out YouTube for poetry. Search Taylor Mali, Speak with Conviction, or What a Teacher Makes. Search the Dodge Poetry Festival to find clips of Sharon Olds, Coleman Banks, or  Lucille Clifton reading poetry.  Celebrate poetry  in cyberspace!
Two more poems from our writers…

In The Name Of

written by Barbara Straus Lodge

A story of mine came out in a book.

I couldn’t believe it, wanted to hide in a nook.

I used a fake name, protecting from shame

But then I wondered, at what cost comes fame?

Opportunities presented and even more as well.

My work was recognized and I felt swell.

Some readings, a radio show, even a New York literary award,

Suffice it to say, my inner critic was floored.

***

Pieces of me float everywhere “out there” and beyond.

But wait. Who am I? Am I lost, or am I found?

Is my pen name really me, or different as syllable and sound?

My words upset, shake down, maybe even more.

But still they’re my truth, born straight from my core.

As a writer, I think, my story should be pure

I must present the truth and not be demure.

The time has come to reclaim my name.

Leigh Stuart will retire; she will suffer no pain.

Barbara Straus Lodge is here to stay.

She’ll say goodbye to her pen name,

come whatever, what may.

Radiant 100

written by Laura L Mays Hoopes

Radio, radium, rays, radioactivity. Quaint, quiet, quick, quashed. Roseate, russet, radiant, rusted. Energy, enlightenment, evasiveness, entombment. Plutonium, Pluto, plumb-line, poison. Iodine-laden, invisible, inaudible, invidious. Wind, water, wildness, winter. Icy, inclement, iridescent, indecent. Human, hubris, hint, hollowness. Promising, pellucid, pallid, porous. Trembling, towering, trumpeting, trampling. Dubious, doom-laden, disastrous, dismal. Murmuring, muttering, mastering, moaning. Mutation, misery, mystery, mockery. Authority, augury, agony, anger. Politeness, pragmatism, pontification, procrastination. Tradition, trust, tsunami, tragedy. Handful, hope, heaviness, horror. Rushing, running, rowing, raving. Dim, darkness, drama, downfall. Trees, trucks, trains, tables. Cars, cables, clothes, children. Traveling, traipsing, trailing, tumbling. Regular, rocking, roiling, rickety. Walking, wandering, wasted, wailing.

Poetry Month Day Two…

Celebrate Poetry Month by having a poem emailed to you each morning!  Just follow the link here: http://www.poets.org/poemADay.php. And from our own, Mary Rose Betten and Laura Beasley add their voice to our Poetry Month Collective!

Love Children

written by Mary Rose Betten

Who cares for my words

once they are written?

Do they go homeless

once they have been penned?

They tumble

down

the

hallways

of my mind

hooting

laughing

aimless

naked children

running

from their bath

I catch them

towel them

tuck them in

Lie with them

alone

in the dark

The Easter Bunny

written by Laura Beasley

The Easter Bunny came early this year,

But he gave me something I truly do fear.

Like an egg in my neck, they call it a mass.

It means I’ll be put under by gas

On the day the surgeon cuts into my neck

To remove the egg-mass, oh what the heck!

It could be cancer or it might be benign,

Perhaps I’ll die soon or for decades, be fine.

I’ll get a scar in my neck, something real I can feel,

Just like this pen with the ink that is teal.

I grab for my life and I try to grip hard

To all of my dreams that seem broken like shards.

My future is hazy, my future is dim.

Will I be there to love him, her, him and him?

Will I ever hold my grandbabies in arms

And swaddle them tight like burritos so warm?

If you think that it’s easy to write of these things,

Then close your mouth tight and then try to sing.

April Is National Poetry Month…

In 1996 the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month.  For a month we give our attention to poetry, living poets, poetic history among all other things poetic!  There are events city wide celebrating the Poem, and poets inspiring or being inspired.  Check out the poetry links in our side bar under blogroll.  To celebrate April’s gift of poetry, the writers at TLS are dedicating our blog  to poetry.  In a challenge even to ourselves, our goal is to put up a new poem each day of the month, if not more!

Poem for April, 2011

written by Laura L Mays Hoopes

Words slip onto the page quietly

A little unwilling to be pushy when

So many around the world wonder

How long they will live?

How high the radiation?

How long until the government helps?

What is coming tomorrow?

Might it be water? Food?

But they often give thanks

That humans reach out to

Each other in spite of all the

Negative news and complaints.

That there is a tomorrow.

That we can survive.

That we love each other.

That families help.

That strangers, even strangers

come through.

The Keyboard Clatter

written by Erica Jamieson

I wonder if the keyboard feels to me the way the

quill felt to the writer of centuries ago.  My fingers

find peace in the constant dance, t to h to e – the

rhythm drum of the space bar . The pointed

quill would have dipped and then brushed

against the parchment in similar song

but perhaps without so much clattering.

Memories of My Cancer

Written by Laura Beasley

There should be a new movie rating, “CVD” for “Cancer Victim Dies.” That way I will know to avoid seeing that movie. I hate all those movies in which a character gets cancer and is dead by the end of the movie.  Many of us survive years beyond a diagnosis of cancer. I have lived almost eleven years.

Easter weekend 2000, I felt a hard, painless lump on my neck the size of a super ball. I knew that it was cancer although it took several weeks for doctors to diagnose lymphoma, cancer of the lymph glands. They considered radiation combined with chemotherapy but the tumor board decided that I should have six cycles of CHOP chemotherapy.

At the time of my diagnosis, my children were 19, 12 and 9 years of age. I had been married to my high school sweetheart for 21 years. I realized pretty early in my cancer journey that things were more difficult for my family and friends than they were for me. The worst case for me was that I would die. I believe that there is a better life after death. It was very difficult for my husband to be the caregiver and to be strong for me when he was so afraid. I was grateful that we went to The Wellness Community weekly where I got support from other cancer patients while Bob met with other caregivers.

We did not choose to have the Internet and email in our home until 2009 so when it came time to notify friends and acquaintances about my cancer diagnosis, I used the telephone. I called dozens of people and re-told my story. I am grateful for the prayers, love and support I received. I chose to keep my volunteer commitments leading weekly Girl Scout meetings and telling stories at the elementary school every Friday. I gave up doing the dishes and driving the car. I felt “fuzzy” from “chemo-brain.” My 19-year-old son, Theo took a semester off from college to drive his siblings to and from school and ensure that his 9-year-old sister could continue her daily ballet and dance lessons and other activities. Friends brought meals for my family for six months. One friend gave me a massage every week.

Every time I went to chemo, I would reread the get well cards from my friends and family. I read extensively (books not the Internet) but I would stop reading when the book would discuss survival statistics. I knew my odds would be either 100% or 0% so the statistics were meaningless for me as an individual. I continued to write daily in my journal. I started to write obnoxious rhyming poems about cancer as well modern fairy tales. After I completed my chemo, I wanted a long-term project so I decided to write one hundred short stories over the next decade (10/year). I recently completed my 100th story.

I have met cancer patients who wanted to complete their “bucket lists.” One friend postponed chemo so that she could take a vacation to Europe.  Chemo couldn’t start soon enough for me. I didn’t have a bucket list. My dream life was living with my true love, raising my beloved children, having friends, writing and volunteering in my community. I didn’t need any adventures beyond the life I was leading. I am grateful that my cancer is a memory and a reminder that when I needed care and love, friends were there to lift me up and carry me.