Friday, April 28, 2023


To honor National Poetry Month, I have shared some of my work each Friday. I will leave you with this meditation on the idea that we, and nothing else, are responsible for ourselves and our survival.


Sometimes people dream of
angels on playgrounds,
swinging, sliding, giggling.
In some cultures,
people ride angels
like horses.
My mother says,
“Angels will accompany
Jesus when He comes to
cover us with His blanket.”

If I believe in them at all,
they live in the
apartment above me--
little angels with ringlets
stomping, marching, storming.
I see them staring
out of the upper windows
as if they’re blind,
as if they’re prisoners.
They live among us,
like misfits, runts.

Someone told me that
angels love doorways
and gates because they
like to go through things.
The angels above me
sound like they want
to come through the floor.
These angels are so mad,
they could rip us in two.

Last night I dreamt
I was on a runaway coach
pulled by six angels
thundering toward a cliff.
Listen, you who are
constantly crying,
begging for guidance,
they can do
nothing for you.
They are desperate, too.
Hurry, let’s get inside
before night falls.

©JEF 1994

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Poem In Your Pocket Day: "Lamb" by Richie Hofmann

Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day, almost the last day of the month...people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, and workplaces.

I have chosen this sweet, evocative poem, "Lamb" by Richie Hofmann. It speaks directly, wistfully, to my childhood, and leaves me with an ache for my Tiger. He explains:

"I traveled a lot as a child. One constant was my stuffed animal, which might have been a lamb or a calf. The poor thing got so beat up and dirty as I dragged him from place to place. I have a distinct memory of the fear that someone would take him from me. Stuffed animals are cute and bizarre, but they’re also early effigies of attachment, eros, and death."

by Richie Hofmann

I had a lamb I brought everywhere

who only had one eye.

At the train stations,

all the grown-ups would say, be mindful

of your things, little boy,

someone will steal right out of your pocket

or take the watch off your wrist.

My dad had a beautiful overcoat.

The lamb’s white fur got smudged.

My brother was a baby,

and in the restaurants,

the old waiters would pick him up

and kiss him again and again on the cheek

with their mustaches

and tell my parents

that they promised they would bring him back in a minute

but now they needed to show the chef.

I don’t remember when the eye became unglued

and who knows where it went.

On long train rides,

I remember falling asleep,

putting my finger in the hole where it used to be.

Once he had to go in an overhead bin,

and he was freezing when I kissed him again.

Richie Hofmann | Photo by Marcus Jackson

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

"To Speak" by Denise Levertov

In honor of National Poetry Month, I have shared exquisite poems by talented poets each Wednesday. And this achingly profound poem by Denise Levertov (1923 – 1997) concerns itself with the idea that talking about one's emotions, esepcially painful ones, brings relief and a sense of order to one's heart and mind. Bringing them out into the light instead of letting them stew in the dark recesses of our fears takes away the charge...

To Speak
by Denise Levertov

To speak of sorrow
works upon it
                moves it from its
crouched place barring
the way to and from the soul’s hall—
out in the light it
shows clear, whether
shrunken or known as
a giant wrath—
at least, where before

its great shadow joined
the walls and roof and seemed
to uphold the hall like a beam.

Monday, April 24, 2023

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "Johnny and Mary" by Robert Palmer

To observe National Poetry Month, I have been featuring lyrics of rock n' roll or pop songs that also double as exquisite poetry and this is our last installation for 2023.

Singer-songwriter Robert Palmer may be remembered more as a pop crooner fronting a group of red-lipped supermodels and not so much as a crafty wordsmith but his song "Jonny and Mary" shows his storytelling skills, spinning a sad, compact tale of a couple seemingly paralyzed by the circumstances they have created for themselves. The lyrics are simple but penetrating in their import.

Johnny and Mary
by Robert Palmer

Johnny's always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain't lonely
Mary counts the walls
Knows he tires easily

Johnny thinks the world would be right
If it could buy the truth from him
Mary says he changes his mind
More than a woman
But she made her bed
Even when the chance was slim

Johnny says he's willing to learn
When he decides he's a fool
Johnny says he'll live anywhere
When he earns time to
Mary combs her hair
Says she should be used to it

Mary always hedges her bets
She never knows what to think
She says that he still acts like he's being discovered
Scared that he'll be caught without a second thought
Running around

Johnny feels he's wasting his breath
Trying to talk sense to her
Mary says he's lacking a real sense of proportion
So she combs her hair
Knows he tires easily

Johnny's always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain't lonely
Mary counts the walls
Says she should be used to it

Johnny's always running around
Running around

Robert Palmer shockingly passed away in 2003 at the too-young age of 54 but thankfully his website is still active.

Friday, April 21, 2023


To honor National Poetry Month, I am sharing some of my work each Friday. This poem is a combination of perspectives from a variety of people but mostly inspired by a Maslowian peak experience I had when I was in my twenties.


Days like diamonds in your back pocket,
You’re on your way, save your heart

At the helm of your life
At the wheel driving through the tunnel into the valley, you look up and see
the clear dome above you holding blue sky and clouds,
the dome below you scooping down into the ground,
the expanding sphere of perception
You forgot how big it all is or
you never knew and just learned

Walking with your feet off the ground
into the world and through it
You see it all from above
The spies can’t track you

The answer is always in the clue
So much space between the pages
So many pages between the covers
You never knew and just learned,
parched, quaffing it down with wonder

There’s no difference between
what you think and what you say
No difference between
what you want to do and what you’re doing
and you’re on your way
surrounded and buoyed by all the days to come

©JEF 2023

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

"Heaven" by Patrick Phillips

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am sharing exquisite poems by talented poets each Wednesday. And this simple poem by Patrick Phillips might be brief but its essential message of longing is profound... and very familiar to anyone who has been around long enough to feel it.

by Patrick Phillips

It will be the past
and we'll live there together.

Not as it was to live
but as it is remembered.

It will be the past.
We'll all go back together.

Everyone we ever loved,
and lost, and must remember.

It will be the past.
And it will last forever.

Monday, April 17, 2023

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "Teenage Wildlife" by David Bowie

For this National Poetry Month 2023, I am posting song lyrics that double as exquisite poetry and for this exercise, we can look at this amazing set of lyrics for a song called "Teenage Wildlife" that David Bowie released on his "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" album in 1980. A sad portrait of a petulant, privileged, celebrity teenager, the lyrics actually say a lot about life in a larger sense, and how it can be devouring.

Teenage Wildlife
by David Bowie

Well, how come you only want tomorrow
With its promise of something hard to do
A real life adventure worth more than pieces of gold
Blue skies above and sun on your arms strength your stride
And hope in those squeaky clean eyes
You'll get chilly receptions everywhere you go
Blinded with desire I guess the season is on

So you train by shadow boxing, search for the truth
But it's all, but it's all used up
Break open your million dollar weapon
And push your luck, still you push, still you push your luck
A broken nosed mogul are you, one of the new wave boys?
Same old thing in brand new drag comes sweeping into view
As ugly as a teenage millionaire pretending it's a whizz kid world
You'll take me aside and say
"Well, David, what shall I do? They wait for me in the hallway"
I'll say "don't ask me, I don't know any hallways"
But they move in numbers and they've got me in a corner
I feel like a group of one, no no they can't do this to me
I'm not some piece of teenage wildlife

Those midwives to history put on their bloody robes
The word is that hunted one is out there on his own
And you're alone for maybe the last time
And you breathe for a long time
Then you howl like a wolf in a trap
And you daren't look behind
You fall to the ground like a leaf from the tree
And look up one time at that vast blue sky
Scream out aloud as they shoot you down
No no, I'm not a piece of teenage wildlife
I'm not a piece of teenage wildlife

And no one will have seen and no one will confess
The fingerprints will prove that you couldn't pass the test
There'll be others on the line filing past, who'll whisper low
I miss you, he really had to go, well each to his own, he was
Another piece of teenage wildlife
Another piece of teenage wildlife, another piece of teenage wild

RIP David. We miss you still.

Friday, April 14, 2023

"Children Rolling Down Hills"

To honor National Poetry Month, I am sharing some of my work each Friday. This poem was written after watching a field trip of second grade children innocently romp and play in Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, in the heart of a city that seemed to loom over them...

Children Rolling Down Hills

The ritual is still performed.
Tiny, horizontal whirling dervishes
spin muscles for bouncing,
sprinting back up despite
glittering buildings, helicopters,
junkies, and jackhammers
they have nothing to do with
and don’t see.
Life is not Sesame Street
and I can’t tell these babies
how to get there.

The world is a postage stamp:
exactly what they see but
ready to be sent to
some strange, unhappy land.

One for the money,
two for the show,
what they know about
gravity, grass, and wind
is some flash of light
that belongs to those things.
There are no churches,
hotels, hospitals, jails,
just colors and shapes
and bells so loud they
hold their ears, jump up and down
and make me cry.

Three to get ready,
four to go and
be lined up with your
buddy at the end of the day...
there are friends for all
on this long march back--
there are such things
when you roll down hills.

©JEF 1994

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

"The Year You Thought You Were Dying" by Mindy Nettifee

For National Poetry Month, I will be sharing exquisite poems by talented poets each Wednesday. And this penetrating, touching, soaring poem speaks to the power of life itself and how we can interact with it and each other in a meaningful way. People do not want to find out the meaning of life, they want to live a life with meaning...

The Year You Thought You Were Dying
by Mindy Nettifee

was a really great year.

You ate licorice on the beach in January,
swam rum sauced in the icy Pacific
wearing only blue rubber flippers
and your grandfather’s dog tags
and for the first time, it felt good to be cold,
it felt good to be so cold it hurt.

You doted on pigeons and stray cats.
You ate honey peanuts in the park
and re-watched every movie that ever made you
cry, including Steve Martin’s The Jerk.
You tattooed your entire body in Pablo Neruda
translations and cherry blossoms.

You blew all your money on comfortable shoes
and one of those mattresses made from NASA space foam.
You slept the sleep of assassins and kings—remorseless.

You bought chocolate bars from all the kids who came
to your door and stock-piled them in your broom closet.
You left them in your will to THE SECRETARIES,
every last one of them.

You volunteered at the local senior center playing bingo.
When you won you forced to whole room to take shots of
Welch’s grape juice and sing the national anthem.

And you spent time with your favorite lover.
You let him get close.
Secret suicide note, nonsense alibi close.
shampoo scent dissection close.

Close enough to memorize your tells,
hand you your ass at pillow poker,
make your defenses look like the silly decoupage
of paper angels and Victorian roses that they were.
Close enough that your laughter
punched him with mint gum puffs.
Close enough that his sighs drove circles
in the parking lots of your sighs,
close enough to measure your ribcage
in wrists, your palms in lips.

So close, you didn’t even notice
your heart speed up, then stop,
when he kissed you so hard,
when the New Year’s ball dropped down.

Monday, April 10, 2023

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "The Great Curve" by Talking Heads

To observe National Poetry Month, I am posting song lyrics that also double as poetry.

In 1980, Talking Heads released their fourth album, a real game changer in lyrics and music, called "Remain In Light" that includes this amazing track, "The Great Curve." It evokes spiritual beliefs that are based in feminine principles of creation and existence. Lead singer and lyricist David Byrne took a loose, stream-of-consciousness approach to writing material for this album and his ability shines in this piece.

I don't include links to songs I post here in the Poetry of Rock and Roll series in order to focus solely on the lyrics, but do yourself a favor and find this track somehow: you will hear the frenetic, poly-rhythmic sound rooting the narrative firmly in Africa. It is mind boggling.
The Great Curve
by Talking Heads, lyrics by David Byrne

Sometimes the world has a load of questions
Seems like the world knows nothing at all
The world is near but it's out of reach
Some people touch it but they can't hold on

She is moving to describe the world
Night must fall, darker, darker
She has messages for everyone
Night must fall, darker, darker

She is moving by remote control
Night must fall, darker, darker
Hands that guide her are invisible
Night must fall, darker, darker

The world has a way of looking at people
Sometimes we feel that the world is wrong
She loves the world, and all the people in it
She shakes 'em up when she start to walk

She is only partly human being
Divine, define, so say so, so say so
She defines the possibilities
Divine, define, so say so, so say so
Holding on for an eternity
Divine, define, so say so, so say so
Gone, ending without finishing
Divine, define, so say so, so say so

The world moves on a woman's hips
The world moves and it swivels and bops
The world moves on a woman's hips
The world moves and it bounces and hops

A world of light, she's gonna open our eyes up
A world of light, she's gonna open our eyes up
She gonna open, move and open, move
A world of light she's gonna open our eyes up

She is moving to describe the world
Night must fall, darker, darker
She has messages for everyone
Night must fall, darker, darker
She is moving by remote control
Night must fall, darker, darker
Hands that move her are invisible
Night must fall, darker, darker
Divine, to define, so say so
Night must fall, darker, darker

A world of light, she's gonna open our eyes up
A world of light, she's gonna open our eyes up

A world of light she's gonna open our eyes up
Wanna define so say so, so say so
Divine, define, so say so, so say so
Night must fall, darker, darker
She has got to move the world to move the world to move
The world

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Happy Easter 2023!

Easter developed from the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre, derived from the Anglo-Saxon Pagan month of Eostur-monath (which roughly corresponds to our month of April). This month was named after the goddess Ēostre or Ostara who symbolized the dawn, spring, renewal, and rebirth of the earth after the long winter.

Now we celebrate by decorating eggs, a symbol of birth and fertility and new growth, and with chocolate rabbits, since bunnies are also a symbol of spring.

When I was little, I always loved Easter time because my grandmother displayed vases of daffodils and lilies, and panoramic sugar eggs around the house. And my aunt hollowed out eggs, cut a window in the side of the shell, and painstakingly assembled pastoral scenes inside using miniature trees and flowers, and tiny ceramic rabbits to make literal panoramic eggs. But the best part was the Easter Bunny who came to deliver beautifully dyed and decorated eggs in a basket full of chocolate and treats; my mom and dad would guide me through the house with clues as to where the Easter Bunny hid my basket (thanks Mom and Dad--I miss you)!

I hope the Easter Bunny brought you some treats! Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

BEAUTY: Painting For Easter--Robert Bissell

Romantic realist painter Robert Bissell creates some of the most wonderful bunny imagery I have ever seen...

My favorite image (among many favorite images) is this one below, called Caspar's Moonrise showing a pair of bunnies watching the moon rise, which is based on a painting by the Romantic German artist Caspar David Friedrich called Two Men Contemplating The Moon

The rest are just as charming...the bunnies have a sense of themselves that is special.

Top to bottom: The Decision; The Four; Hero IV; The Hidden Way; The Initiates; Pastors At The Gate; The Vista

Friday, April 7, 2023

"I Am My Mother's Tour Guide"

In honor of National Poetry Month, I will be posting work by myself each Friday. My mom died in 2002 after a very aggressive cancer devoured her. She always wanted to visit Paris and, knowing she was dying, wrote a poem just before her death about how she wouldn't ever get to go. This is as close as I can get to taking her now.

I Am My Mother's Tour Guide

In Paris, at night,
she drives us around
in our small rented car.
She is more than willing
to explore—she swerves
off the boulevard and
aims us down back streets
and roads so narrow,
we almost can’t fit.
I don’t know
where we are.
In front of us, caught
in the spray of light,
a shopkeeper waves his arms.
He has heard us coming
and tells my mother to
turn the wheels where
he is pointing so
we will only
scrape along the brick
and not get stuck—
a common problem
among tourists in Paris.

We park behind the
Largest Movie Theater In Paris.
The last show is letting out
and people stream by us.
Someone says,
“Nous allons à
un relais routier.
She wants to know
what was said and
I translate: they’re
going to a truck stop and
want us to join them.
As we follow, we see
lit skyscrapers far off.
I explain that the
business and financial
district is on
the edge of the city
because, over time,
Paris has been built out
in circles from the center.

The truck stop is a diner.
It looks American
and serves American food.
As we enter, we pass
a group of colorful, noisy
North Africans who are leaving.
From our seats we watch
a small Japanese woman
arrive, take off her coat
and hang it on the rack.
She wears a plain
dress of tan felt.
Her neck is bandaged
and through the gauze
I see a thin suture
circling fully around.
When she turns,
we see she is blind.
Her eyelids have
two holes in them
which have been
threaded and sewn shut
with tan cord.
My mother looks
at me for answers.
All I can say is
that Paris holds
many cultures—beyond that,
I have no explanation to give.


BEAUTY: Soft Sculpture For Easter--Mr. Finch

For Easter, here is the absolutely charming work of one Mr. Finch, a self-taught English soft sculpture artist who utilizes vintage fabric to realize his enchanting visions. I love how some of the bunnies have wings, or carry mushrooms, flowers and sprouting bulbs...

He sums it up beautifully on his website:

Flowers, insects and birds really fascinate me with their amazing life cycles and extraordinary nests and behaviour.
British folklore is also so beautifully rich in fabulous stories and warnings and never ceases to be at the heart of what I make.
Shape shifting witches, moon gazing hares and a smartly dressed devil ready to invite you to stray from the path.
Humanizing animals with shoes and clothes is something I’ve always done and I imagine them to come alive at night. Getting dressed and helping an elderly shoemaker or the tired housewife.

Making things has always been incredibly important to me and is often an amazing release to get it out of my system.
It’s a joy to hunt for things for my work…the lost, found and forgotten all have places in what I make.
Most of my pieces use recycled materials, not only as an ethical statement, but I believe they add more authenticity and charm.
A story sewn in, woven in.
Velvet curtains from an old hotel, a threadbare wedding dress and a vintage apron become birds and beasts, looking for new owners and adventures to have.
Storytelling creatures for people who are also a little lost, found and forgotten…

He has a SHOP on his site where you can buy his books and cards, but since he works alone, the actual soft sculptures take a while to make and sell out quickly. I will keep an eye on his shop to snag one of these lovely spirit animals.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Happy Birthday "Diva" by Annie Lennox!

Following a phenomenal career and string of hits while fronting Eurythmics, Annie Lennox released her first solo album, "Diva," on April 6, 1992...THIRTY ONE YEARS AGO TODAY. It's hard to fathom it has been that long. So let's celebrate the anniversary of this stellar collection of songs. There's not a bad one in the bunch; it is literally a perfect album. Listen to the songs below but also marvel at the sheer emotive power of Lennox. She is simply mesmerizing to watch. All the videos are great but I particularly like "Little Bird" with all her past incarnations sharing the stage.

Thank you, Annie, for all the music!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

"The fight against ‘woke’ is really conservative gaslighting"

I found this opinion piece from author Clay Cane very insightful...

Opinion: The fight against ‘woke’ is really conservative gaslighting
Opinion by Clay Cane
Updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 5, 2023

(CNN) I was at the barbershop recently when Childish Gambino’s 2016 track “Redbone” popped up on a playlist. Singing about infidelity, Gambino — also known as Donald Glover — belts out, “Stay woke!” in the chorus. As we nodded our heads in unison to the song, someone asked, “How did ‘woke’ become the new scary term? Do they even know what it means?”

We all had a wry laugh about language that has been misappropriated over the years, but the distortion of “woke” has been particularly insidious.

I must give credit to the Silent Majority, the Moral Majority, MAGA, Q-Anon and all the other iterations of conservatism that Republicans have transmogrified into over the past five decades: They are masterminds at coming up with messaging that scares the Jim Crow hell out of their base. “Woke” is their latest stunt.

In the 1960s, it was “Black Power,” a term about empowerment and self-reliance popularized by Kwame Ture, also known as Stokely Carmichael. Conservatives rebranded the term, which became a catch-all phrase to scare White voters that “Negroes” were taking over. Those two words would then be twisted by “White Power” adherents who, according to the ADL, deliberately mimicked the term “Black Power.”

Some years later, former California governor and later President Ronald Reagan famously deployed the “welfare queen” narrative, framing public assistance as a Black issue, even though more White people than Black have been helped over the years by those federal aid programs.

After Reagan, George H. W. Bush invoked the name of Willie Horton, a convicted Black man on weekend release from prison to rile up his base, during the 1988 presidential campaign. The Bush team made Horton a symbol of allegedly lenient prison furlough programs that were supposedly sending murderers and rapists into the suburbs.

Bush rocketed in the polls, framing his opponent, Democrat Michael Dukakis, as weak on crime. Bush won the presidential election and the Willie Horton television commercial — an ad General Colin Powell described as being “racist… cold political calculation” — was a turning point in the campaign. Yet again, Republicans had found a potent symbol of how to effectively manipulate voters’ fears.

Over the past several years, co-optation of language by the GOP has been on overdrive, due in part to the advent of social media. Once upon a time, politicians hammered incendiary language in speeches and interviews; Today, they have the ability to disseminate a similarly noxious narrative almost instantly online. Lee Atwater -— the brain behind the Willie Horton ad and other Southern Strategy tactics — would be proud. As he lay dying from cancer in the final months of his life, Atwater reportedly said he regretted the Horton ad, but the legacy of his racist actions lives on.

The current list of terms that conservatives have weaponized is long and growing: Black Lives Matter. Defund the police. Critical race theory. Intersectionality. Now, add to it the ubiquitous — almost inescapable — word “woke.”

To be clear, woke is not political, but it has been politically weaponized by bad-faith actors, mostly on the right. Being “woke” is not a term exclusive to the realm of social justice; it’s a decades-old slang in Black communities, meaning to “be aware.” For example: “I heard your man is cheating — stay woke!”

Blues icon Lead Belly, at the end of his recording of the 1938 song “Scottsboro Boys,” talked about the need to “stay woke” after Black men and children were wrongfully accused of raping two White women in Alabama.

In other words, be alert, keep your eyes open and watch your back — figuratively and literally.

The mangling of “woke” cannot be solely placed on politicians. Celebrities and comedians have played a role: Bill Maher, Sean Penn, Russell Brand, Kanye West and Dave Chappelle to name a few, have all misused the word in recent years, contributing to the despoiling of a cherished cultural term. Either out of willful ignorance or arrogance, they deploy the term out of context, often while pouting about “cancel culture.”

Meanwhile, pushing back against “woke-ism” has become a profitable business model for anti-woke warriors. John McWhorter wrote a 2021 book titled, “Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America,” this New York Times bestseller was partly popular because a Black writer was denouncing “wokeness.”

Bethany Mandel recently released “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation,” which, according to her, included a whole chapter on “wokeness” yet she famously struggled to provide a definition in an eye-rolling television interview. She later complained about being lampooned on Twitter — but also bragged about how many copies of her book that she had sold as a result. Journalist Bari Weiss, meanwhile, who rants incessantly about wokeness, has been dubbed an “anti-woke warrior” and is a co-founder of the “anti-woke” University of Austin.

What’s more dangerous than any of the misappropriation, however, is the way that attacks on “woke-ism” have made their way into policy.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Stop WOKE Act,” which is wreaking havoc on Florida’s colleges, universities, libraries and schools. “Woke-ism” now somehow has expanded to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s even being cited as the real reason for prosecuting the former president on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Even the most anodyne mention of civil rights is suppressed, as seen recently with revered figures like Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges.

The boogeyman framing around “woke” is intentional. In 2021, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott complained about “woke supremacy,” a term with inescapable echoes of “White supremacy”— creating a deeply racist, false equivalency that pandered to a faction of the GOP in his state.

It was a move that perhaps was not all that surprising coming from the only Black Republican in the US Senate, who is fond of saying that his family had gone from “cotton to Congress” when he downplays racism in his party. Not even Lee Atwater could have predicted the Southern Strategy tactics being used by Black politicians.

There are no “woke” villains attempting to take over America. Is there sometimes unnecessary word policing? Can people be oversensitive? Can corporations overreact to the latest scandal or a trending topic? Absolutely, but that is not “woke-ism.” Labeling so-called overreactions or something you don’t like with a term rooted in Black communities, racializes — and shuts down — discourse many people claim we need.

Here’s what my friends at the barbershop say about right-wing politicians, conservative media outlets, privileged celebrities, Twitter trolls: You can’t have the word “woke.” It doesn’t belong to you, and never did. Be creative and think up your own dog whistles. What you refer to as “woke-ism” is old school, political gaslighting.

I will keep using “woke” in its proper context. And if you don’t understand it, then maybe the word is not yours to use.

Thank you, Clay!

Link to original article:

"Dirk McDermott" by Patrick Donnelly

In honor of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing exquisite poems by talented poets each Wednesday. Let's start with a sweet, mysterious, and evocative poem entitled "Dirk McDermott."

Of his poem, poet Patrick Donnelly said, "Poems may arise from dreams, but when it comes to writing a poem based on a dream, I find it most interesting to leave it unclear whether we’re actually in a dream, or some other kind of altered state, or whether ordinary life has suddenly slipped into one of its less realistic episodes. In the end, I’m not sure those states are substantially different, given how our most intense feelings and memories shape what we see of the world, and what we think it means."

I have have had a life-long interest in dreams and have always said that at the heart of it all, dreams and waking life are interchangeable and indistinguishable from each other. Either way, we are perceiving people, places, events, and interpreting them through our emotions as best we can, creating the individual narrative full of our own personal symbology and meaning that fills our lives.

Dirk McDermott
by Patrick Donnelly

Fellow Scout who could climb and touch
the gold ball at the top of the flagpole,
and do math three grades ahead
under his crewcut. I need a calculator
to figure how long since I spoke his name.
How long since I offered my own blue
neckerchief to wipe his always runny nose.
But last night in smoke, steam, and rain
beside a wrecked train I told him how happy
I felt in the igloo we’d built, how handsome
a cub he’d been crawling on all fours
up the twilit tunnel to me. In a hoarse
whisper and never looking at his face.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Bunnies To The Resuce 2023

I always say if you want to see a grown man turn into a five-year old boy, just show me bunnies.

Monday, April 3, 2023

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "This Is" by Grace Jones

To observe National Poetry Month, once a week I will be featuring lyrics of rock n' roll or pop songs that also double as poetry.

And let's start off with a bang...a Grace Jones track may seem a bit unlikely but as a songwriter, she has always walked down some interesting avenues. This song's lyrics take the form of a "list poem" but reads as a sort of manifesto with Jones showing us simple flashes of life, humanity, history, and psychology, each preceded by the words "This Is."

This Is
by Grace Jones

This is my voice
My weapon of choice

This is life

This is a plate
This is a cup
This is a story I didn't make up
This is a girl lost in the wood
Some covered wagon from some other 'hood

This is a voice
These are the hands
This is technology
Mixed with the band

Are you going into the light?
Are you free of fear today?
When you lie down to sleep
Do you kind of float away?

This is life

Most of my crimes are of optimism
40 thousand volts of recognition
They tried to strip me of dignity
But I still have tenacity

These are the words I didn't invent
Only an attempt to say what I meant

This is the paper
This is the pen
This is my weapon
A means to an end

Are you going into the desert?
You're out of control of your fate
There are no warriors without a war
To get ahead before it's too late

Lay down your spear
Let go your fear
Far becomes near
Oh Lord
This is life

This is the tree
The Buddha sat under
These are the clouds
This is our thunder
This is what makes me look up and wonder
Into the eye of the wind
Through the rain
On to the plain

This is what I'm focused on
This is my head on straight
This is the harness
This is the bit
This is me
I'm flying again

This is a lawyer
A professional liar
Day after day
Igniting the fire
This is the key
This is the door
Imagine the view from the basement floor

Now you're going into the desert
You're out of control of your fate
Are you a slave in a chain of command
Serving up another man's hate?

This is life

Lay down your spear
Let go your fear
Far becomes near
Look out

Are you going into the light?
Are you freeing your fear today?
When you lie down to sleep
Do you kind of float away?

This is depression
It comes when you're blocking
This is expression
It comes when you're rocking

This is life
When you lie down to sleep
Do you kind of float away?
(This is a plate, this is a cup, this is a story, this is a story I didn't make up)

When you lie down to sleep
Do you kind of float away?
(This is a plate, this is a cup, this is a story I didn't make up)

This is the world still healing
This is man that's feeling
This is the world still turning
This is the rage still burning
This is the man not learning
This is life

Photo by Andrea Klarin

Sunday, April 2, 2023

R.I.P. Ryuichi Sakamoto

I feel sad about the death of talented and prolific musician, composer, record producer, and actor Ryuichi Sakamoto (previously here). As a musician, he started the band Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) in 1978 with bandmates Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, influencing and pioneering a number of electronic music genres. As a solo artist, he created lovely albums, frequently collaborating with David Sylvian (previously here). As a film composer, he scored the films "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," "The Last Emperor," "The Sheltering Sky," "Little Buddha," and "The Revenant," winning an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Grammy, and 2 Golden Globe Awards. As an actor he starred alongside the legendary David Bowie (previously here) in "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence." In 2009, he was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Ministry of Culture of France for his contributions to music.

Ryuichi Sakamoto died March 28, 2023 at the age of 71.
R.I.P. Mr. Sakamoto.

BEAUTY: Art For Easter--Bunnies

Top to bottom: Wishing On The Moon by Ken Shiozaki; Jumping Rabbit by Ken Shiozaki; Rabbit Slumber by Brian Luong; Año del Conejo [Year of the Rabbit] by María Jesús Contreras; Mom by Reynier Llanes; Sunshine by Daria Borisova; carved wood bunny with bird by Nikichi

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Happy National Poetry Month 2023!

April is National Poetry Month, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets since 1996. And this year marks the celebration's 27th anniversary! Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

How to celebrate?

- Read your favorite poet again.
- Read some new poetry.
- Find a new favorite poet.
- Write some poetry.
- Leave poems for people to find in public places.
- Read poetry out loud to family and friends.
- Dream a poem.

Throughout April, I'll be posting poems, some by me, some by others, as well as a series of lyrics to popular songs that double as exquisite poetry.

And this year, Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 27th! Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

Poem in Your Pocket Day was originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to join in and channel their inner bard. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

Happy National Poetry Month!

To kick off the month, here is a lovely section from "Things To Remember" by Peter Murphy, about the power of poetry.

Things to remember when writing figures of speech and sound:
The power of poetry comes from the ability to defy logic.
Defy logic often.
Use a metaphor and tell us that your lover is the sky.
Tell us that your lover is the sky.
When you do that,
we won't believe you.
We won't believe you.
Because saying so makes no sense.
But we'll see a meaning.
We'll see a meaning.