April is a poem a day month.

I also posted this at my other blog, Quilting is my Obsession. I have been writing a poem a day with a closed group. It has been a great exercise. Some of them are better than others. This was poem was written on day seven.

Day Seven

Quilts become stories
independent of dynasties or holy empires.
With heads bowed over needles
stitching hopes and secrets that survived in fibers,
there was no permanence for women and slaves who by law owned
not even what was thrown away so
in anonymity they threaded their lives and economy into art.
Surviving because they borrowed from every incarnation each cherished scrap
While threading a different history, a history that included them;
Undaunted by fashion,
And reaching for joy.
Because empires fall and art becomes fatuous
but quilts become stories.

This is a link to Gee Bend Quiltmakers. Check it out. They are the true artists.

I love old quilts. Those that survive show actual hand stitches and reference all that went into each stitch, not just the thread, the fabric and the time required to do the work and there was always so much work they had to do; quilts that survive also reference true artistic genius.

 

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130 — dilip nair

“I think I’ll be a clown when I get grown,” said Dill. “Yes, sir, a clown…. There ain’t one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I’m gonna join the circus and laugh my head off.” “You got it backwards, Dill,” said Jem. “Clowns are sad, it’s folks that laugh…

via 130 — dilip nair

April is A Poem A Day Month!!!

I joined a closed group on Facebook for the month. Everyday you get a prompt and can read and comment on other people’s poems. There are only 45 people in the group. So far it has been fun and useful.

Most are brand new, some are rehashed old poems. I wrote two some days and none on others. They are all ready to ferment in the cellar of my neglect but in a bold move, I share a taste…be kind.

Prompt two: Inertia?
If no poem comes is
there a place it didn’t
come from and can
I go there? Please?

Day Two, I get up too early most days for the prompt and so I jumped of the wagon with the name of the group “Rusty Cast Iron”. When I left home my father gave me a set of cast iron pots. They were very heavy and I didn’t even cook, ever so it was weird. It took me a lifetime to understand  and to find my brother shared this thing about iron cook wear. Even better, now they say that chemical stick-proofing on frypans is carcinogenic. (thanks for that tip science, where were you when you were covering aluminium frying pans with the s**t?)
Cast Iron
My brother’s wife was taking his cast iron pots to the donation bin.
Everyone in my family was taught that you had to have cast iron pots and
you had to keep them forever
god forbid, some disaster ended you
and they were lost until a bunch of
archeologists could dig them up.
Even still they’d be good,
just needing bit of scrubbing and seasoning.
No one outside our family
can understand this
need to hang on
to something so
impossibly
heavy.
or why we tell a history hidden behind a patina of alteration
So we conspire.
I tell him I will go to Value Village
and buy them all back
—give them to her for Christmas—
adding another chapter in the mythology of our persistence and our resilience.
Laughing, because that’s what we do.

Day Three
When I was small, I thought
“pass me the honey honey”
or the “sugar sugar”
was how you asked,
so I didn’t know why everyone laughed
my first time away from my family.
Even now, in my head
there is the honey honey and
the sugar sugar
but I don’t say them aloud.

Day Five
I wrote a poem today!
I didn’t even let it rise in some warm and safe place in my brain
I just coughed it out
Or drank it down
Or shook it free
Or, or, or…geez.
maybe it wasn’t very good but it felt really good.

Day Five
Winter, the air was as dry as unbuttered toast.
Ice formed from any moisture and hung onto any thread.
Children were bundled so if they fell
it would be face up
so they wouldn’t suffocate,
their identities unknowable behind scarves and hats pulled low.
Until a Chinook
when they threw off their stiff winter clothes
and ran in their socks and shirt sleeves
in yards of mud,
no, not ran, but hopped
like new little toads with tails abandoned,
this way and that,
with the randomness of joy.
And when it was over
they came home dressed in other children’s winter clothes.
Day Six
Not Haiku
Sometimes when I’m riding my bike
a fully formed haiku will pop into my head.
I swerve and then recover knowing
that
by the time I get home it will be gone,
drifted off on the wind
to seed the mind of some poet
who is more righteous and unencumbered
by things like
gravity, velocity and time.
And often while I put away the groceries
I find there was a coupon*
I forgot to use too.
fuck

Day Seven
Quilts become stories
independent of dynasties or holy empires.
With heads bowed over needles
stitching hopes and secrets that survived in fibers,
there was no permanence for women and slaves who by law owned
not even what was thrown away so
in anonymity they threaded their lives and economy into art.
Surviving because they borrowed from every incarnation each cherished scrap
While threading a different history, a history that included them;
Undaunted by fashion,
And reaching for joy.
Because empires fall and art becomes fatuous
but quilts become stories.

Polishing the Mirror

It was crowded. Two trains went by, out of service. Everyone looked straight ahead while a man further down facing perpendicular to the bulk of the crowd was yelling something political.

I decided to walk towards him. I’d been thinking about how scared people are now. Nobody is talking but there are ‘crazy people’ yelling all over the place. I didn’t know if he was one of them but I walked towards him passed all people with earbuds in, attached to iPods and smartphones listening to what they chose instead of this man yelling.

The train came before I got too far along the platform and I joined the throng getting on the train. I don’t know if he got onto another car. I put my earbuds in and selected the e-book I had downloaded from the library. It is called “Being Mortal”.

I wrote the above a long time ago. I was afraid. I don’t know what would have happened if I had gone up to him. Do people who yell in public places want to be heard? Do they even believe that they CAN be heard? But I was frightened and even a bit angry that he was subjecting us all to his ranting.

I am still learning how this machine that puts itself together as ME works and one of the cogs is anger, another is fear.

I have written many angry entries in journals and diaries and then made a ritual of blacking them out or deleting them. But I have missed the point of my own life in doing so because I was afraid my anger would turn me into a weapon, some sort of terrible uncontrollable force.

But I am not a weapon. A weapon is something you pick up to do harm to others. A human being is a Buddha whether or that human being is suffering due to contracted emotions, habitual behaviours or galling misunderstandings, regardless of whether or not they have realized it.

I like to think that I have always run from confrontation, but I have at times in my life become so angry that I have put myself in the path of confrontation even knowing I would probably suffer harm. But I was never a weapon and neither was the person who harmed me. It is a delusion to think that we can become weapons or targets or hammers or nails, but it is true we can suffer and cause suffering and in that state of congealed anger, pick up a weapon.

Anger comes as energy that can turn into action but if I try to delete it or deny it, the whole machinery of my being becomes stuck in all sorts of physical problems or worse, it gives rise to dangerous exchanges that benefit no one.

The purpose of Zen practice is to realize awake awareness as oneself and this includes being aware of anger and fear.

If we are aware we can make choices.

Being a student of Soto Zen Buddhism I can choose to direct that energy into compassionate action. If i recognize that I am afraid I can also recognize others who are fearful and in loosening its hold on myself open the possibility of the same for others. If I am angry, I can learn to see it arising and to appreciate its energy and learn how to direct it towards polishing the mirror, exerting myself to examine delusions and to realize compassion, to lean into actions that build instead of actions that destroy.

But to ignore or suppress fear and anger rather than taking each moment of recognition as an opportunity is an impediment and can only lead to more suffering. (This can be applied to all emotions that cause us to hide or become deluded as in  “Love Hurts”, love that is misdirected or misunderstood.)

So I will endeavour to be aware of what I would rather not realize within myself and not let anything fester or congeal into a sense of problem that gains momentum.

And even in realizing all of the above, I must sit zazen, every day and not fall into thinking that dust will no longer accumulate on the mirror.

And even after all that:

https://youtu.be/8T-Z1WoFXkk

On the Platform at Warden Station

It was crowded. Two trains went by, out of service. Everyone looked straight ahead while a man further down facing perpendicular to the bulk of the crowd was yelling something political.

I decided to walk towards him. I’d been thinking about how scared people are now. Nobody is talking but there are ‘crazy people’ yelling all over the place. I didn’t know if he was one of them but I walked towards him passed all people with earbuds in, attached to iPods and smartphones listening to what they chose instead of this man yelling.

The train came before I got too far along the platform and I joined the throng getting on the train. I don’t know if he got on to another car. I put my earbuds in and selected the e-book I had downloaded from the library. It is called “Mortality”.

This Holiday Season was Brutal!

Some years I manage all sorts of crafty things for decorations and gifts. This year I had hoped to finish one little dress for one little granddaughter but illness, loss and general malaise knocked the stuffing out of me.

Nothing lasts forever, not even illness so thanks to the wonderful anti-biotics that addressed a bronchial infection and the joy of spending time with children and poetry lovers and artists I have rallied and finished the wee dress.  The good news is she is getting longer, not wider so this will fit her for a while!

mjdress

The fabric is linen and the pattern was Burda 9772