Sunday, June 28, 2020

Writers’ Pantry #26: “You can make anything by writing”

Greetings, poets and storytellers. Welcome to another Writers’ Pantry, where everyone is invited to share prose or poetry that is new or old, short or long (if going for prose, the wordcount should be 369 words or fewer). I hope you are well and that your muse is inspired. And yes, the state of the world is extra complicated at the moment. But we still have words, and words can always brew hope.

The Pantry stays open for a week. Feed the direct link to your contribution to Mr. Linky, one entry per participant. Visit other writers. Let them know what their words do for you.

Announcements and Reminders:

- in her latest Wild Fridays: Thought Provokers, Rosemary shares the poems “You Are Who I Love” by Aracelis Girmay and “I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth” by Fatimah Asghar, and offers commentary which addresses current events and discusses where Poets and Storytellers United stands when it comes to the matter. If you missed it, do follow the link and join the conversation.

- for the next Weekly Scribblings, Sanaa wishes us “to write while inspired by pavement.” We can use the word as a metaphor, in a phrase, as an idiom, imagery…

Let’s say safe. Let’s do our best to stay healthy. Let’s stay writing.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Wild Fridays #25: Thought Provokers

You Are Who I Love 

You, selling roses out of a silver grocery 

You, in the park, feeding the pigeons
You cheering for the bees

You with cats in your voice in the
morning, feeding cats

You protecting the river   You are who I 
delivering babies, nursing the sick

You with henna on your feet and a 
gold star in your nose

You taking your medicine, reading the 

You looking into the faces of young 
people as they pass, smiling and 
saying, Alright! which, they know it, 
means I see you, Family. I love you. 
Keep on. 
You dancing in the kitchen, on the 
sidewalk, in the subway waiting for 
the train because Stevie Wonder, 
Héctor Lavoe, La Lupe

You stirring the pot of beans, you, 
washing your father’s feet

You are who I love, you
reciting Darwish, then June

Feeding your heart, teaching your 
parents how to do The Dougie, 
counting to 10, reading your patients’ 

You are who I love, changing 
policies, standing in line for water, 
stocking the food pantries, making a 

You are who I love, writing letters, 
calling the senators, you who, with 
the seconds of your body (with 
your time here), arrive on buses, on 
trains, in cars, by foot to stand in the 
January streets against the cool and 
brutal offices, saying: YOUR 

You are who I love, you struggling to 

You struggling to love or find a 

You better than me, you kinder and 
so blistering with anger, you are who 
I love, standing in the wind, 
salvaging the umbrellas, graduating 
from school, wearing holes in your 

You are who I love
weeping or touching the faces of the 

You, Violeta Parra, grateful for the 
alphabet, for sound, singing toward 
us in the dream

You carrying your brother home
You noticing the butterflies

Sharing your water, sharing your 
potatoes and greens

You who did and did not survive
You who cleaned the kitchens
You who built the railroad tracks and 

You who replanted the trees, 

   listening to the work of squirrels 
   and birds, you are who I love
You whose blood was taken, whose 

   hands and lives were taken, with 
   or without your saying
Yes, I mean to give. You are who I 


You who the borders crossed
You whose fires
You decent with rage, so in love with 

   the earth
You writing poems alongside 


You cactus, water, sparrow, crow      
   You, my elder
You are who I love,
summoning the courage, making the 


getting the blood drawn, sharing the 
difficult news, you always planting 
the marigolds, learning to walk 
wherever you are, learning to read 
wherever you are, you baking the 
bread, you come to me in dreams, 
you kissing the faces of your dead 
wherever you are, speaking to your 
children in your mother’s languages, 
tootsing the birds

You are who I love, behind the 
library desk, leaving who might kill 
you, crying with the love songs, 
polishing your shoes, lighting the 
candles, getting through the first day 
despite the whisperers sniping fail 
fail fail

You are who I love, you who beat and 
did not beat the odds, you who 
knows that any good thing you have 
is the result of someone else’s 
sacrifice, work, you who fights for 

You are who I love, you who stands 
at the courthouse with the sign that 

You are who I love, singing Leonard 
Cohen to the snow, you with glitter 
on your face, wearing a kilt and 
violet lipstick
You are who I love, sighing in your 
You, playing drums in the 
procession, you feeding the chickens 
and humming as you hem the skirt, 
you sharpening the pencil, you 
writing the poem about the
loneliness of the astronaut
You wanting to listen, you trying to 
be so still
You are who I love, mothering the 
dogs, standing with horses
You in brightness and in darkness, 
throwing your head back as you 
laugh, kissing your hand
You carrying the berbere from the 
mill, and the jug of oil pressed from 
the olives of the trees you belong to
You studying stars, you are who I 
braiding your child’s hair
You are who I love, crossing the 
desert and trying to cross the desert
You are who I love, working the 
shifts to buy books, rice, tomatoes,
bathing your children as you listen to 
the lecture, heating the kitchen with 
the oven, up early, up late
You are who I love, learning English, 
learning Spanish, drawing flowers on 
your hand with a ballpoint pen, 
taking the bus home
You are who I love, speaking plainly 
about your pain, sucking your teeth 
at the airport terminal television 
every time the politicians say 
something that offends your sense of 
decency, of thought, which is often
You are who I love, throwing your 
hands up in agony or disbelief, 
shaking your head, arguing back, out 
loud or inside of yourself, holding 
close your incredulity which, yes, 
too, I love    I love
your working heart, how each of its 
gestures, tiny or big, stand beside my 
own agony, building a forest there
How “Fuck you” becomes a love 
You are who I love, carrying the 
signs, packing the lunches, with the 
rain on your face
You at the edges and shores, in the 
rooms of quiet, in the rooms of 
shouting, in the airport terminal, at 
the bus depot saying “No!” and each 
of us looking out from the gorgeous 
unlikelihood of our lives at all, 
finding ourselves here, witnesses to 
each other’s tenderness, which, this 
moment, is fury, is rage, which, this 
moment, is another way of 
saying: You are who I love   You are 
who I love  You and you and you are 

I pass for white, and have no personal experience of race prejudice. My mother, who grew up in India, did experience it, and declared herself glad to have 'little fair children' (snowy blonde in fact) though it wasn't until much later I understood why. Myself, I always yearned for long black hair, flashing brown eyes, and a skin that didn't burn severely in the summer sun. 

In Australia, where her family migrated when she was 15, Mum also passed for wholly Caucasian. My beloved Nana probably didn't, but I don't know: she died when I was four. When a family of my beautiful, black-haired, brown-eyed, olive-skinned cousins came out here when I was seven, I thought to ask if perhaps we had any Indian blood (hoping) but Mum told me, 'Oh no, we have some Spanish.'

As an adult, I found out that many mixed-race Australian children with Indigenous heritage were told the same lie, meant to protect them from things which could befall them otherwise. I might have come in for a bit of name-calling at school if my Indian genes had been visible. My Indigenous friends were at risk of being stolen – i.e. separated forcibly from their families, their land and their culture, abused, and forced into servitude. Or, like black Americans, being hassled, arrested and assaulted by police because of the colour of their skin.

I've done some things in the cause of human rights, equality, diversity, anti-racism ... but the recent upsurge of protest around the world showed me I haven't done enough. How do I know I haven't done enough? Racism still exists; further, it is still entrenched in the power structures of my own country as well as others. WE haven't done enough – but it's for me to do what I can do. 

So what can I do at 80, and with five different reasons for being considered high risk for COVID-19? Not march in protests, obviously. I decided that what I can do is speak out, much more than I already have done. I decided never to lose or shirk an opportunity.

But should I do so from my platform at Poets and Storytellers United? Rather, shouldn't the team members, as a group, be blandly non-political here, regardless of our personal opinions? Heck no, I don't think we should be bland anything! Well, I certainly don't think we should ever get into party politics here (though of course we'll express ourselves freely as individuals); that would be inappropriate and divisive. But I do think Poets and Storytellers United may sometimes declare our stand on matters of principle.

Rosemary, Magaly, Sanaa, Rommy
Maybe you take it for granted that we stand for diversity and inclusiveness, and I hope you do. After all, when you come to think of it, it's fairly obvious that we must – it just so happens (quite unplanned when putting the team together) that we have visibly different racial backgrounds, as witness these profile pics. And it's surely apparent to everyone here  that this whole community of participating poets and storytellers is diverse in all manner of ways. Nevertheless, I think it's worth asserting our principles overtly too, once in a while. 

So I went looking for some anti-racist poetry to share with you now, when this topic is so much in the forefront of current affairs (even though many of us have been writing our own already) – something that speaks on behalf of those who know it personally by living it daily, and something to give the rest of us a deeper understanding. 

To my delight I found a whole lot at Academy of American Poets under the heading Black Lives Matter, prefaced by these words: 

As we grieve the loss of innocent lives and stand in solidarity with those calling for change, join us in reading and sharing poems addressing racial injustice, human rights, the right to protest, and imagining a more perfect union. Reflect, support, and act with these poems.

Some of the poems are gentle, some are enraged, some are bitter, some are defiant, some are satirical ... there's all kinds there, all excellent and moving. But when I came to this one, above, I couldn't go past it. It encompasses a history which I know a little of by reading about it, and which some of you know a great deal about because it is your history; and it emphasises our common humanity – that which is so often forgotten by the prejudiced. I don't want to apologise for it being a longish read, because I think every word counts. Every word opens my heart.

And then I found this next one too, and fell in love with it as well, and didn't want you to miss out on it. As you see from the title, it talks also of environmental issues. 

I Don't Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We've Done to the Earth
so I count my hopes: the bumblebees
are making a comeback, one snug tight
in a purple flower I passed to get to you;
your favorite color is purple but Prince’s
was orange & we both find this hard to believe;
today the park is green, we take grass for granted
the leaves chuckle around us; behind
your head a butterfly rests on a tree; it’s been
there our whole conversation; by my old apartment
was a butterfly sanctuary where I would read
& two little girls would sit next to me; you caught
a butterfly once but didn’t know what to feed it
so you trapped it in a jar & gave it to a girl
you liked. I asked if it died. you say you like
to think it lived a long life. yes, it lived a long life.

It seems such a sweet, hopeful piece – then the last verse, particularly that final sentence, packs the quietest and most deadly punch. That nice, kind, comforting, deliberate lie, pulling the ground out from under.

You can find out more about these poets by clicking on their names. You can read more such poems by clicking on the link to 'Black Lives Matter', in the second half of this post.

(And yes – for those who noticed – there is double spacing between some verses of the first poem. It was a cow of a thing to transcribe, not at all straightforward, and a simple copy-and-paste didn't do it. I've adjusted the spacing laboriously three times; now I'm giving up.)

Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Weekly Scribblings #25: Well, That Was Unexpected

Hello Word Artists and Admirers! For this week’s prompt I’d like you to shape your artistry around the word “unexpected”. You don’t need to use the word itself, but you should at least incorporate thoughts, feelings around the idea of the “unexpected” into your creation. I’m taking all new pieces, prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction, but please do keep your prose pieces to 369 words or fewer. Remember to show some love to your fellow word artists. Chances are if you visit them with a kind word or two, you’ll get a visit in return.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Writers' Pantry #25: Summer Solstice

Anne Nygard, Orange concrete, Unsplash 
"The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing." ― Dan Simmons, Drood.

Greetings everyone! Hope you are safe and well! This is Sanaa and I am back with another exciting Writers' Pantry this Sunday.

Summer arrives in her own time, wafting gently in on a Spring wind and wakening with the type of warmth that flows directly to the core. You must have guessed by now that I have a thing for beautiful buildings and landscapes! Guilty as charged. On my balcony, I enjoy the breeze, the sunset and sometimes the misty rain. I fill whatever space which isn't occupied with potted plants and love the riot of bloom afterwards. 

I find pleasure in simple, everyday things. Cooking for instance has become a new past time around the house along with playing online Tambola with friends. Because at the end of the day, we each have to ensure our nerves are calm and at rest. The pandemic is still very much prevalent throughout the world and hearts are aching due to bedlam and chaos. But, we have each other! So, let's not lose hope at the moment. As Albert Schweitzer wisely stated; "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

Announcements and Reminders: 

The topic for next Weekly Scribblings is "Well, That Was Unexpected." Rommy would like us to shape our artistry around the word "unexpected." She says that we need not use the word itself but should atleast incorporate our thoughts and feelings around the idea of the 'unexpected,' into our creation.

Rosemary enlightened us with "Wild Fridays #24: The Living Dead," where she features Archibald Macleish and his famous poem Ars Poetica. Do scroll back and check it out in case you have missed it. It's an absolute feast for the intellect!

Remember, you have one whole week to participate in prompts now. Just keep in mind that some people may have moved on to their next project after a couple of days, so an entry posted later might not receive many visitors.

For now, I invite you to share your entry as Poets and Storytellers United welcomes both poetry and prose (i.e. stories, articles, essays) feel free to link anything old or new and relish in the work of others. Also, if you opt to share prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer.
Pierre Bamin, Unsplash
And now, without further ado, let us dive into the Pantry! Looking forward to reading you all with a some refreshing lemonade. See you on the trail! 💘