“I wonder if it’s possible to will myself into spontaneous combustion.”
Aleyna Rentz, from Cincinnati Review
That was the prompt for this piece of writing
Charred bones hold a certain
appeal. A ravaging by fire
before crumbling into the dirt of
Malva up the street bloom
in the palest of pinks. And now
hosta send up the sturdy
stalks of their flowers. July,
this July coming, is still familiar
to them in a way to me
it is not.
Hair shooting out of my scalp
transformed into poison darts
would more clearly show
the neighbors who I am
than the little waves, nods,
the purse across the chest,
holding phone and dog treats
as if the old rules of communication and reward still apply.
The house remains standing. The grass
grows in the fits and starts
indicative of shade. This morning
the dog sat on the deck planks
still wet from last night’s rain. He
was listening. Dogs are always
Would it help to shave my
head? To craft an embroidered
badge saying I’M DONE or WAKE UP?
To make visible the roiling
disappointment, so roiling,
so disappointed as to render the
Old styles of rebellion will not
hold. Saving democracy is
not a style decision, as much as
we might like it to be.
Revelation after damning revelation
and STILL we wonder: will it matter?
We’re talking a femoral bleed.
Grasping around to find
a tourniquet, placing the life-
saving band around the body
but forgetting how to tie a knot.
“No July 4 for me this year,” say
some, while many others have
never had much to celebrate about
our so-called independence, our
A flawed past does not
condemn us to tyranny. Please, someone,
make magnets saying that so I can put
them eye-level on the fridge, linking
hunger and hope and reason.
We don’t forget to eat, so
why should we forget to dream big?
To believe in possibility?
The squirrels chip at the air
with their throats. I used to think
it was the cardinals.
Somewhere, someone mows a
lawn. Somewhere, someone gets
water off a truck because lead
contaminates their water. Local
jack hammers signify home
improvement. Federal jack
hammering comes in the form
of 6-3 opinions. They
are blasting away at basic assumptions,
at long-held rights, at
the beliefs and needs of the majority — at
their own jurisprudence.
Who do you talk to in the
still of the night? Some nights
it is the ghost of my mother.
Other nights it is my own
nervous system. Sometimes
my children show up as absence
and silence and that keeps me
Not all loss is national and
I have my snacks ready
for the next set of revelations.
A friend is coming to sit by and
watch with me.
How we connect now matters more than ever.
Last night the sky blazed
orange. Chips of light between
maple and beech trees like mosaics.
It’s hard to remember the world
when you are perpetually walking
between kitchen and living room,
bathroom and bed. COVID, anyone? Or should I say: COVID for EVERYONE!
The world as defiled. The
world as holy. I don’t need
to shave my head to show
how my heart is trembling.
*. *. *.
This was written to a prompt in my Tuesday Amherst Writers and Artists workshop — the last until mid-August. The prompt was the Rentz quote above which appeared in a piece titled The Land of Uz. Cincinnati Review, Fall ’21.
The photo of Hutchinson was taken from a PBS website, but it is everywhere. I ran it through a filter in the Prisma app.
P.S. if you look carefully at the fairy-lights-photo, you will see Finn behind the glass door.
Ketchup running down the wall from a thrown plate- his lunch.
If I’d written this after the hearing, ketchup would have featured prominently. Such a slob and a pig! The scary thing is if he were a little less impulsive and a lot less stupid, his coup might’ve worked. He had A LOT of help.
Powerful: your words and images and the Truth for so many of us. Plus so much more depth than I can bring myself to on my own. Thanks for sharing this – honestly and from the core of my (also trembling) heart. Can I just tell you: yesterday I had one of those days of privilege where I drove my electric car to our shack-escape in the woods from NJ and I stopped at wegman’s to get a few essential food items that would have cost $50 3 years ago; it came to $150.00 and I nearly cried. I do a rough estimate as I shop but I was rushing. I had lost track of time b4 leaving the great state of NJ and at 1:30pm my blood sugar was dropping rapidly. I thought ok a salad can’t be terribly expensive but it $13 no! I went for a california roll at $7. At the checkout the [Black] cashier asked me how I was doing – after I asked her how she was doing. I said, “I’m suffering from sticker shock”. She said, “it’s BAD it’s just SO BAD..” and we must’ve talked about how terrified she is and really we all are for 20 minutes and wondered how are going to make the changes needed and how does she talk to her 9 year old son about Roe v Wade? It was the best conversation I’ve ever had with a stranger. I want to go back to her with my phone number – why didn’t I give it to her then? I was the only person in line at that freak moment that lasted for more minutes than I really know. It is really bad out there.
Groceries. Yeah. Not eating much meat these days which is probably a good thing.
Your exchange with the clerk warmed me though. A silver lining?
Thank You. Guess we are all feeling like this right now. Well, guess not all of us. That is the scary part.
Not all of us. Yeah. Pissed Boebert won her primary. Really hoping she loses the general. Her elevation is on the voters. Plain and simple.
Have not been able to catch all the hearings but at breakfast yesterday with a friend who in the past has always defended Trump is finally on broad with what a danger he is and has been to our democracy. Not the first person that is listening and learning. I’ll be coming back to read all the comments here .. so interesting and heartwarming to read everyone’s ideas and encounters. Thank you for this post and all the wonderful pictures.
I love the reports I’m hearing (mostly on twitter) of die-hard trump fans finally seeing the malice and corruption of the man — so thank you for sharing.
tomorrow i begin Parable of the Talents
I didn’t read that one. Should. I’m focusing on essays for the moment. Ann Patchett now. Next up: Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit. To spend time with great minds/writers of any genre is food for the soul.
Dripping ketchup, red the color of blood…
Green the color that is now front and center for pro-choice: AND I so need green and so I made it: Using foraged sumac leaves, veggie compost and the old tried and true method of getting green: red onion skins, a splash of vinegar, water and a copper pot. I usually carefully place cloth in whatever pot or jar I am using to dye with but this time, given my state of mind, I crumpled the cloth and just plunked it in the pot…the result is a lovely, soft mottled green cloth with darker bits, well suited to my state of mind!
Below I am repeating a comment I made recently on one of grace’s blog posts:
Green is my color of Hope and I do believe in hope but these days, it will take more than hope, it will take will, commitment and action in whatever form can be manifested. But I never discount hope because this morning I have just learned this:
“Democrat Stacey Adams, who is running for governor of Georgia said in a CNN interview that she had changed her perspective on abortion rights. The Georgia gubernatorial candidate was raised in a religious household and grew up being anti-abortion. She said she understands religious people, but that ideology has no place in medical decisions.”
So I will stitch my Trust cloth this week, it will keep me going during these days of rain. It will keep me centered, will keep me focused, will keep me connected to my sisters, all across this country, for this is the UNITED states of America and we rise and are UNITED:
This was written a few days ago: I think of your statement to the effect that “old styles of rebellion will not hold:…and YET: I mourn the young feisty me that would take to the streets…
My neighbors are young, some of them new, only here a few months, and I am not sure what their thoughts are regarding the state of this Unites States of America. Two are mothers, one is a teacher, no children, one is a young man in mid 30’s, a Vet who served in Afghanistan, quiet, oh so very quiet, barely speaks SO I am careful to keep the conversation to the pleasantries. Maybe it is because we live in an apartment, lots more people here than when we rented a house. I find that I experience a certain caution, perhaps vulnerability with revealing too much about myself at this time. Case in point: I have a little cloth on the iron trellis on our patio that I made for Ukraine, across from your little House cloth and a smaller one that I mad, called Land Patches. The Ukraine cloth has patches of my dye work, the Ukraine flag with a sunflower in the middle and the words, Peace for Ukraine on it. One of my neighbors came over to ask if we had received some of her mail that was missing and she noticed the cloth. She actually frowned and asked me if I came from Ukraine… I said No but I was for Peace and she did not say a word and left shortly after…SO…..
Not marching in the streets but there is always something that can be done: so to that end, this week I gave $ to Planned Parenthood who will match all contributions until tomorrow, June 30th. Our Governor passed an executive order to protect from prosecution, all women who come to New Mexico for abortions and all Drs, nurses, etc. who also come here to help.
Act Blue has also gotten $ this week, we need to elect like minded Democrats. These are quiet acts, not as overt, but every act can have a domino effect…
Today I finished the Trust cloth and it is hanging on the grapevine. It was started as a reaction to what has gone on but also as a way for me to focus on Thursdays when I do the Trust meditation that grace initiated every Thurs. 7 am Pacific Time. We have had 2 Thursdays so far and each time, the 5 min have turned out to be longer and it just may be because the sense of community and connection grows ever stronger.
For all of us and for the many women that I will never know, that I will never meet who are facing such hard choices,may they know they are not alone. Even though they will never know of this cloth or me, I hope that somehow they can sense this collective out pouing of caring and support…
I get a little sick when I think of that crude, selfish and crass pig in the White House. This testimony really brought those feelings back.
Your work with cloth sounds grounding — of the ground — and also airy. Airy in the the colors and shapes represent and express hope. I joined the Thursday sit last week and will again tomorrow. It is so important to stay connected. My last $ was to Warnock but it’s time to give to Planned parenthood again.
Right now I’m watching the afternoon light being filtered through the copper beech outside and it couldn’t be lovelier. Life holds us.
“Life hold us” is such a warming comfort and also the dear fact that we hold each other…
Thank you for your words/images here Dee. I read them before work and again tonight, reading comments too. The conversations, by way of these comments are so important right now (and always). xo
life holds us.
Tomorrow i begin Parable of the Talents
Have not read Octavia Butler so did a little research into Parable of the Talents and FOUND… The character of the Christian President, Andrew Steele Jarret has a slogan that we have all heard before…Octavia wrote this in 1998…the slogan, Make America Great Again!
this … “many others have never had much to celebrate about our so-called independence, our
so-called freedoms” … how I have lived a privileged life, but my heart hurts for those who have not … how is it that others’ hearts are so hardened that they can only see their own needs and wants as valid?
and Trump … I spat out the word “pig” as Hutchinson described his actions … dredging up memories of the “chauvinist pigs” of latter days … he is utterly irredeemable
I need to go back and listen to Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem. I remember thinking, if she has hope for a better future then surely I can?
Pig. Yes. The testimony made me recall how viscerally repulsive the man is. How gross it felt to have him and his family in the White House.
how fragile it all is, we all are
(((Dee))) Your words burn such with Deep Heart
DebG of Bee Creative shared the On Being interview with Jane Hershfield, love Jane’s thought that metaphors are “like handles on the door of what we can know and what we can imagine”
her closing poem gives me courage and hope in these strange times,
Let Them Not Say by Jane Hershfield
Let them not say: we did not see it.
Let them not say: we did not hear it.
Let them not say: they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.
Let them not say:
it was not spoken, not written.
we witnessed with voices and hands.
Let them not say: they did nothing.
We did not-enough.
Let them say, as they must say something:
A kerosene beauty.
Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.
Thank you so much Mo for taking the time to share what is indeed an inspiring piece of poetry. (love Deb G’s blog BTW). Today was even more devastating with the SCOTUS gutting EPA (and by extension all federal agencies). Next up: destroying elections at the state level —meaning a coup would not be required next time. It’s truly hard to keep up with the bad news. Good news? 13MM people watched the surprise hearing full of graphic and damning info about trump (and meadows). This, even though there was little lead time and it was aired in the middle of the day.
and what I wanted to say but for some reason did not: I love your writing!
I also love that image of your boys at the lake (is it a lake?)
I’m honored that you used a sentence from my short story as a prompt for this amazing poem!
I think I just inadvertently sent you an empty email. Glad you read my response to your sentence! Thanks for commenting.
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Revelation after damning revelation
and STILL we wonder: will it matter?
How did we live through all this? I ask myself.