In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Eve Walk

The legs of the pier were standing on the sky.  The bay water thick, and the activity of what plays in it a mystery to my eye.  Clouds and patches of blue, just fainting from the late afternoon, spread over the waves.  

Sky dancing on the Sea

Various sea fowl floated along, feet paddle as rudders, guide them wherever they want to go.  Where did they want to go?  Were the birds out for a walk?  A walk before dusk, before the sun sets and they sleep in nests I cannot guess to know the location?  What sort of blood would a water bird have to not freeze up on a day like this?  

I need to know all of this, wondering about everything I see, today this walk distracts me, I am filled with wonder!


I walk.  I walk alone.  Determined to cry if I wanted, if the tears came.  If the tears rise up inside me, I would let them flow, because I was alone, and I would allowed it.  It did not bother me myself too heavy, that my scarf and hat did not match, that my shoes had a small tear in the left toe, because I was alone, and I am happy.  I am happy and comfortable with myself.  Right now, I am happy and free and I feel like crying tears of happiness... 

Or is it the cold wind finding it's way to 
the water I carry behind my iris?  
Pulling drops out with each blink, 
as gentle as a Grandmother in her kitchen.


I want to hug this damn planet.  This scene on the waterfront.  'Effing Christmas Eve and people are drinking hot chocolate, walking with family, friends, and their dogs.  People are happy here.  Right here!  Right now!

A dog off leash barks a happy hello to me, as if it knows me, as if we are long lost friends, separated on a trip to France, torn apart by war, each thought the other dead, but now- discover the other is alive!  

It’s the happiest bark I have ever had the privilege of receiving.  

The Happiest Dog EVER
The black lab, walks quickly towards me and brushes my left leg like a hug, tail wagging, tongue dripping out of its open mouth, nose pointing, below the dock, below on the beach- a young German Sheppard is playing fetch with its owners.  The Sheppard barks a hello back to my long lost friend.  How easy it is to understand the language of “dog”.  They are simple.

I walk from Fairhaven, along the pier to Boulevard Park, around the loop and then back towards my car.  I see all sorts of people; joggers, walkers, strollers, families, people of all ages.  No otters today, only birds floating on the sky.

Sea Otters on Vacation

I imagine a post card from the Otters, a photo of a furry family floating on Californian sea kelp, "Having fun, fish you were here"

I stop where the pier bends uphill, away from the water.  Then I see it- just there, right over there, between the spit I can walk to, and an island across the bay, ...just there in a “V” shaped, black land-line at the horizon, is the glow of the winter sun setting.  A peach, then pink, soon dark purple, then stars.  I stare at it for a while.


A walker-lady stops and asks me, “Do you see anything interesting?”

“No, nothing today, not even the otters”




***



Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Card

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 
from the 
SPLaws staff
Shannon, Brad, Vin, Chris, and Robert

L-R: Chris Pine, Brad Pitt, Shannon Laws,
Robert Downey Jr, Vin Diesel

Here, at the SPLaws offices, we had a slight change of staff since 2012. Abe retired and Tom, who has been with us since 2011, disappeared into another timeline. Both will be missed dearly and we wish them well. Thankfully Chris Pine has stepped in to fill the shoes of two people, no less.  In addition to being a great dancer, his research skills are out of this world!  He shows great promise in producing extraordinary work for 2014.  

When I was growing up, my mom would type up a Christmas letter to friends and family.  A Christmas letter is like the families year in review designed to update distant relatives on the years accomplishments.  In that tradition I have composed a letter about the 2013 highlights for SPLaws, Inc.  It has been another electric year!

Read it, or don't, perhaps you treat them like fruit cake.  Either way thanks for stopping by and helping to get our visitor numbers pass 30k this year! Please leave a comment, and keep it real for 2014.  

Shannon Laws
President
SPLaws, Chickadee Productions
Bellingham, Washington USA


***

SPLaws Christmas Letter

This year I did not find much in the way of PAID jobs, but with the extra time on my hands my volunteer work excelled.  I was paid in love and new life experiences.  If only I could take it to the bank I'd be a millionaire!  Here are some highlights -with photos- from 2013:

BOOK RELEASE
My book on the shelf
at Village Books
In January 2013 I released my first poetry book "Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy", Chickadee Productions, available at Village Books, Bellingham.  The book includes my original poems from 2010-2012.  During these two years I was divorced, reborn in my writing, moved off San Juan Island and was embraced by the city of Bellingham.  The poems are a real document to a personal journey I shall never forget.

my new writers photo
BELLINGHAM HERLAD ARTICLE
In July, MARGARET BIKMAN from the Bellingham Herald interviewed me to promote my book reading.

"Shannon P. Laws was born in Seattle and raised in Federal Way, where, she says, "as a teenager I learned that when a guy from Auburn asks you out on a date, he will most likely pick you up in a stolen car." 


Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/07/18/3087501/shannon-p-laws-explores-world.html#storylink=cpy


Jared and I at a joint book
reading event on SJI
In May I traveled with retired actor, novelist and children's book author Jared McVay for a book reading on San Juan Island, and shared some poems at the Big Rock Garden Party for Mother's Day.






Group photo of guest speakers
at the Tagore Festival 

September I appeared as a guest speaker at the Tagore Festival in Richmond, British Columbia.  
A yearly event to honor India's poet 
Rabindranath Tagore, (May 1861- Aug. 1941)  


I will be the waves and you will be a strange shore.
I shall roll on and on and on, and break upon your lap with
laughter. 


"Squabbling Ravens"
VBPG Signature photo
courtesy of SJI artist Dona Reed

HOSTING VBPG
Village Books Poetry Group, 29 members strong, continued to meet bi-monthly at the independent book store in Fairhaven this year. It is a group I enjoy tremendously.  Many of our regulars are folks who are sharing their poetry for the first time. VBPG is a diverse group from many different cultural and professional backgrounds, linked together with our love for words.




Dave at the start of
Downtown Sounds,
beer garden side, of course


DOWNTOWN SOUNDS/KMRE
I am a volunteer DJ at Spark Radio, KMRE 102.3.  The station is an extension of the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, at 1312 Bay Street, in downtown Bellingham.  Dave the K (The Rockin' Surfer) and I were the on-air host's for the cities Downtown Sounds.  The free concert, food, beer garden and street entertainment event is held on Bay Street for five Wednesday evenings in a row, July-August.  Great fun!





Jon Winter and I at SPARK
NEW AMERICANA
The 13 radio programs I produced in 2013 "New Americana" developed a large following.  Brent, the station manager, has approved it for a full season, 26 shows, in 2014.  I co-host the show with the museum's co-founder, Jonathan Winter, a real gem of Bellingham and a pleasure to work with.  The talk/music show brings in a local guest, usually a musician, who shares the top five songs that have influenced their life. You can hear the 2013 podcast of the show here:

Casey Sulkin, retired DJ and
jazz club owner, I co-hosted
with Casey on his jazz show
"The Swing Shift" for a
few months
Bellingham's Fast Five, or BFF, rotating features on KMRE, debuted this summer.  I created the concept to provide more attention to our New Americana guest by producing a five minute musical promo.  Local musician and well loved hamster, Bert Monroe, worked with me as voice talent on these informative features.


POETIC MOMENTS
This is an end of the year project for me.  There are so many wonderful poets in Bellingham.  I want to share them with the world! Poetic Moments are short features, under 2 minutes in length, that started to rotate on KMRE 102.3 in December.  My goal was to record 60 poems.  Over 25 poets came out to donate their words, and 93 poems were recorded!  More poems will be added in February, 2014.  Catch a taste of these amazing poets here:




FAIRHAVEN ART BLOCK
In September Carla and I, representing the Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, had the privilege of working with the Bellingham Repertory Dance group, the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, and Lucia Douglas Art Gallery on a group project. We organized the street festival Fairhaven Art Block party, or FAB.   This event was designed to share the artist community of Fairhaven with it's residences.  Folks were encouraged to walk from the art gallery to the Firehouse, just a block over, along a path littered with poets reading live poetry for any passersby.  Music and dance intermingled with the guests.  It will return for 2014.



Poets for Peace l/r Carla, Betty,
C.J. and good friend Denise

November worked with three local poets to organize and launch the first POETS FOR PEACE Read-In Write-On International poetry event, held in Bellingham's South Hill neighborhood. Poets from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. shared poems about peace from 2-8:30 p.m., 'till the last poet spoke. The event was a great success! Plans for another in 2014 is in the works.



What a fun year.  My mom asked me a few months ago, over coffee of course, how I got into poetry.  It was hard for me to answer her at the time, had to think about it a bit.  I love writing short stories, blogging and working on my novels. However, poetry, I find, is much like gardening. When I use to have dirt to dig in, I would flower garden.  A few hours a week, or month depending on the year, of work produced immediate gratification = a clean and beautiful yard.  Poetry is quick work, one or two pages, and once edited and polished, gives me a great deal of satisfaction, like freshly cut tulips in a crystal vase on my kitchen table.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties."
~Helen Keller 

***
Wars on Kinkade series by
Jeff Bennett

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Time for Ham

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

2013 marks the fifth anniversary of my blog "Madrona Grove".  In a moment of reflection I found much to be thankful for, and did not need to look far to find faces of many good friends who have blessed my personal timeline.  Life is a journey, always better with company.  So to follow a MG tradition I'm posting my Ham blog.  Posted every holiday for about four years now, this little TRUE story shows up bringing with it a reminder of how important tradition is, but that knowing WHY we do what we do is just as important as the performance.

The boys, oh, I mean the SPLaws office staff, and I are working on our Christmas video card that will post here soon.  Please keep an eye out for it.  Until then keep warm, be happy... and leave the ends ON!  ~SPL

*****
OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham.

The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?”
“Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.”
“Why?”, asks the daughter.
“I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”

They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?”

“Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”

The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family.
“G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn't fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, 
so that you don’t waste any ham.
Happy Christmas! 



***

Friday, December 6, 2013

Poetry: Table

Salt on the skin
Sweat dried in the cool air
We lay across the table cloth
a checkered gray and white sky
The meal: stars and atmosphere
set on a plate glazed
in a blue so dark 
it doesn't end
Our neighbors no longer 
Robin or worm
but  nebula and moon

Sagittarius contains several well-known nebulae, including the
The Omega Nebula, also known as the Horseshoe or Swan Nebula.


***


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cast Iron

While sitting around the Thanksgiving table at my brother's house this year, I thought about this blog post from 2010.   Seeing these two pans on the counter, well seasoned and ready for action, was like greeting an old family member.
"Cast Iron" is one of my favorite stories, hope you enjoy it.  
Hope you had a warm Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!
-Shannon


...Living with family members also tends to bring up some nostalgic feelings. During my first morning at my brother’s house, walking into his kitchen, my eyes immediately noticed the two beautiful cast iron skillets sitting inside of one another on his stove. They were black, bumpy and well seasoned. Many of my family members keep well seasoned cast iron skillets in their kitchens. Seeing the skillets reminded me of a evening from my childhood. Sitting on a kitchen stool watching “the adults” clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, talking and joking with each other in good holiday merriment. However, when it came time to season the cast iron the conversation got heated:

“It's OK to use a little hot water and soap to clean it now and then. Sometimes I give mine a salt n’ herb rub with some cooking oil.”

“NO! Water should never touch the skillet. Rubbed with olive oil on a paper towel while it’s still hot, inside and out. That is all it needs!”

“I use only bacon grease to season my skillets. It’s the only way. Sometimes I’ll heat up water in the pan while it’s still on the stove to get off any stubborn stuck-ons before I rub ‘em.”

Because it was my Aunt J's kitchen the skillets were seasoned per her method: an olive oil rub with a paper towel.

Cast iron skillets have several attributes that have caused them to be a favorite in many home and professional kitchens. When properly seasoned and maintained they have a natural non-stick coating, enhance the flavor of the food and last over a hundred years. It’s not too uncommon to find them in antique stores, although smart buyers snatch them up quickly. Talking with the owner of the store and asking to be on a call back list if a skillet comes in is one way to insure you get one.

For the past three weeks I've used his skillets to make many different dishes: scrambled eggs, beef stir fry, and caramelizing garlic and onions for spaghetti. “Man I love this skillet!” I thought to myself. However, I never purchased my own skillet. While wondering WHY I never purchased one, and how awesome these pans are, it hit me- people are seasoned skillets. You can’t deny the fact that life does season us up.

Life experiences, good and bad, have seasoned my mind and spirit.  So when the trials of life come I’m able to saute them up, processing them properly: the bad “stuck-ons” no longer "sticking" to my consciousness, following me around like a constant reminder of failure or shortcomings, and the good left over "flavor" of life sinks into the pores of my very being. How each of my relative’s have a custom way of seasoning their cookware, so do we season our hearts and minds. No matter what process we use, preventing RUST is the main purpose of our efforts. Rust, given sufficient time, oxygen and water, will convert any iron mass and disintegrate it. The toughest of metals, iron and steel, can get corroded. Rust in our heart can make us cold and callus.

During this time of transition I will try to keep myself “well seasoned”. Perhaps that means taking a good walk, having some quiet time with a book, or attending a play. Wiping off the day’s events with a good olive oil rub, preparing my mind for what’s to come.

***

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dungeoness Fish

Rotating around the plant I am learning new ways to torture, I mean process fish.  Fish move around the large warehouse on two to three different conveyor belts, stopping only to have another part of their body removed.  Every part of the fish is used, much to the disappointment of seagulls hovering nearby.  Twice, a seagull has just walked into the warehouse looking for scraps.  Bold bird.


Blood Bath
Marie Antoinette's Last Day
October 16, 1793
Restaurants and food banks request a whole fish, beheaded and gutted.  I stand at the washing area, gloved up, the holes in my full length rubber apron sealed by duct tape, waiting, breath holding.  Plop, plop, plop.  Each fish falls off a belt 4 inches into the washing station for it's final bath before placed in a large crate.  After a while the slime and blood turn the water red; blood washing off blood.  I scrub them quickly, opening the gut like a suitcase looking for residue of organs that, just half a day ago, beat with life.  The sound of the fish guillotine caw-chunking down on necks 15 feet behind me keeps an irregular rhythm.  Only the fish large enough to lose their heads do. 


The Rack
Medieval Torture Rack, England
After the loads of whole fish are processed I’m sent to the racks.  Fillets are stacked orderly, not touching each other or the edges, and sent to the freezer.  Teams of two stack a rack.  
Two to three racks are worked on at a time.  
A rack sits on a pallet, is about 5 feet tall has seven compartments that stack on top each other.  Workers make like a metal, plastic, fish sandwich over and over. The blue plastic is spread onto the wet, white plastic board, much like a fitted and top sheet for a bed, with the fish snuggled up between.  Little "babies" deserving of a lullaby.  (Now I know I've lost my mind.)

…Rack, basket, white plastic board, blue plastic wrap, fish, blue wrap, basket, white board, blue plastic, fish, blue plastic, new rack…  

The rack plays out on everyone’s back.  You start work at 6 inches off the pallet, squatting over it to arrange the fish onto the sheet, then slowly bend your way up, ‘till the pallet is just under the arm pits.  I do this over and over for ten hours.  With a 15 minute break every two hours, and a half hour lunch, three days in a row. 
 
Two Coho Fillets Ready for the BBQ
My mind starts to get wiggy.  I look down at the fillets, all hint of fish removed, now just a hump of slimy flesh and start to wonder what else they could be.  Cold large pieces of raw bacon. Large slug penises. Pink tape worms.   Then it hits me— tongues.   

Dead Tongues Tell No Tales

Cut out laid out
on a sheet, in a row
Pierced and strung
hung 'round the neck
The cutter, the puller
yanks out grabs full
Eyes of the carver
cold as a tomb
Red drops run 
down, never away
Dead tongues
tell no tales


***






Sunday, November 10, 2013

Spawning

Spawning Coho Salmon are one of the most attractive fish.  This is a BIG fish with an average length of 28 inches, occasionally reaching 36 pounds.  This fish is currently “in season” at the processing plants on the docks of Bellingham Bay.  I know this first hand because I am a fish flinger.
 
Coho's Looking for Love
The Coho pre-spawning colors are silver with some black dots on the back.  When the hormones activate and send the fish into "spawn mode", it transforms into a monster fish! Vibrant shades of pink, burgundy, neon green and black grow over the silver scales.  The males mouth jets out, teeth blaring like an old ladys stubborn poodle.  The females grow eggs, 2500-3000, on either side of their organs in sacks that start just under the jaw and run down the length of their bodies.  These fish are ready to get it ON!    
BAM!  Who's Your Daddy?

There is something beautiful about watching this fish fly by me on the line.  Not sure why. The males swoosh by nose first.  Those teeth will destroy my rubber glove if I’m not careful.  A hole in the glove means a cold finger till break time.  Shoot-slime and ice cold blood will absorb into the cotton of my under-glove. 
Spawning Coho Male (top)
Female (bottom)
Seems that Dr. Hyde of a fish wants to take a bite out of something, even after death.  

When the shoot is full, and the fish are stopped up in front of me, a sea of clear dead eyes stare upward looking for a fight.  After the line ahead opens up I stretch an arm out and push them along to the left, forward, to be filleted. Their challenge ignored.


MY JOB

Eggs Photo credit: NWFSC and NOAA
by Jen-McIntyre
This is my first week here.  My job is egg removal.  As the males zip past, needing no attention except to keep it moving, the females have their bellies opened by the dorsal-fin-cutter person, then slid into the egg gutter lane in front of me.  The average Coho holds 2500 eggs.  All the eggs are collected into a gutter that drains into a bucket.  The buckets are filled quickly enough to have a dedicated  “bucket guy” whose only job is to bring us empty buckets and dump the full ones into a large holding crate. 
Eggs in the Membrane

 To remove the eggs from the fish I reach my hand into the body and rake ‘em out.  If I’m lucky the eggs will still be in the thin membrane.  With two gentle tugs at the top of the sack I can pull out all the eggs with two moves. (see photo)  Otherwise you just rake and rake with your fingers until you get them all.  But you really can’t get them all.

The fish slide in front of me all day on a long steel table covered in this cosmic mix of melting ice, fish slime and blood, fish sperm and loose eggs.  Everything runs smoothly if all the fish are pointed nose first.  Sometimes a fish turns sideways and stumps them all up like a scene from Keystone Cops. 


I AM A WILD FISH
We stand, all day in a cooler, geared up with gloves, long plastic sleeve protectors, rubber boots, a body length stiff plastic apron, long underwear under the clothes and a hat for the head.  In this place I am not cute.  There is no need for me to comb my hair; it is under a hat all day.  Make-up is unnecessary and perfume is not strong enough to rise above the stench of fish.  All day a grey spotted sea gull laughs at me from the back gate, as it stands on a crate outside hoping for some fish to drop. 


There is still much to learn about this operation and my part to play in it.   I expect all next week I will stay on the egg gutter.  Haven’t asked too many questions, nor received any feedback, but the boss did ask if I was coming back.  The season ends in January.  Wondering if I can make it that long.  I took this job because they hired me right away.  After the lay off in September I needed work fast.  

Since I have returned to my state of birth, five years ago, I have been laid off three times.  While my professional life suffers, my volunteer work is prospering.  In the last two years I started hosting a successful poetry group, producing radio shows on a community station, and my first poetry book was published, February 13'. Like the Coho I have mutated to spawn, out of a primal urge to survive and pass on my traits. 

Slowly I step on this human ladder... I climb, and climb and climb, with hopes of reaching the final destination: to plant my eggs, my ideas, my hopes.  Will good fortune find them at the bottom of the river nestled among the rocks and multiply my efforts?  I hope so.  Spawning takes the life right out of ya.

Isn't there a little fish is all of us?


***


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

International Peace Poets


The Bellingham Poets for Peace Read-In! Write-On! Event is pleased to announce the confirmed international speakers:

Candice James,Duke Ashrafuzzaman, Bernice Lever, Max Tell
Bong Ja Ahn, Lilija Valis, Janet Kvammen, 
Farina Reinprecht, and Una Brauhns.

Referring to this collaboration of Canadian poets and American,
Farina said it best, "We are a team" 

***



Monday, October 21, 2013

Poem: Tempest

Miranda, the Tempest, 1916
by John William Waterhouse

This morning the sky changed. Wind from a different
direction cast surprise upon and stirred up curiosity

Trees above sway to the song of Fall, make for a lovely dance to sing to
Below, wind combs threw underbrush, grabs the recently fallen,
blows them into whirlwinds

Northern Gale, breathe on me, release from me dead and dying parts
Twirl them up to the sky, lay them on the ground
Churn them into soil; all that death is good for
Compost for a garden I have yet to harvest


***

-Shannon Laws
Re mix of the 2011 poem “Winter Prayer”


Monday, October 14, 2013

Event: Read-In! Write-On!


Some local poet and writer friends are organizing a World Peace Read-in! and Write-on! It will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 2 PM to 8 or 9 pm. at 910-14th Street (St. James Presbyterian Church). There will be an opening and welcome reception at 2 pm. People will be welcome to come later in the day and evening, but we want a crowd at the opening.

It is open to everyone. We are planning a special Young People's hour that features their writing from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. We are hoping that young people (through high school) will come and share poem/stories about peace...living peacefully or whatever they might like to share. They can speak from 1 to 5 minutes.  Please sign up young people sending us an e-mail at worldpeacepoets@gmail.com we'll confirm the time and answer any questions.

At 3:30, we are planning a time for international poets (speakers and writers in more than one language).  Most of the international guests will be from British Columbia, but local international voices can choose to read now or later in the day. 

For the World Peace Open Mic held after 5:00 pm, five minute slots of time are open to poets and writers from everywhere. The sign up for this time period is at Village Books.  

Musicians ! Musicians are welcome. We'd especially like musicians included who have song about peace that young people would enjoy. This sign-up is done at: worldpeacepoets@gmail.com. For times after 5 pm musicians can sign up for a five-minute slot at Village Books. These will be musicians who can perform using one voice mic and one instrument mic, with no additional setting up required. (questions go to worldpeacepoets@gmail.com)

Other activities will be posters for peace, Information about world peace initiatives and a space will be provided for meditation and writing.

This a free event, no one is getting paid. It is part of a world-wide "poetathon for peace"  to be launched October 23, 2013 by World Poets Canada (friends in New Westminster, BC).

-Event coordinators,
Carla Shafer, Betty Scott, Shannon Laws

Friday, October 4, 2013

Poem: Dust



Bands
sunbeams
twinkle with
flecks of our skin
rubbed off from touch rubbed off
 as dry soil spinning from a sedimentary cliff
layers of time pressed into the stripes we call days


Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona

***





Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Winter Prayer



This morning the sky changed.  The wind came from a different direction than what I was used to, catching me by surprise and creating a sense of curiosity within me.  The trees I walked under moved and swayed to the song of the wind, making for a lovely dance.  The wind combed threw the branches and low lying bushes to grab up the dead and recently fallen, blowing them around in whirlwinds.

A curious thing to watch the wind.  It's true you cannot see IT but only what it DOES.  My skin grows wrinkled and dry by it; my hair lifts and twirls falling into my eyes.  "Don't look at me, just feel me" it says, "I've come to wash off that which is dead and refresh you for a cold winter, to prepare you for a new spring.  Your days of summer lying in a warm breeze will return, but first you must feel me against your face.  Feel me hit your heart, swooping in deeper than any soap, cleansing your soul with hope renewed."

Hope gets us through the winter.  How sad for those in the dark age when the world seem a constant winter.  Perhaps they had forgotten what spring flowers smelt like or the hot rays of the summer sun on their face.  If winter last too long the heart will stay cold, frost bitten, hard.

Prayer
Fall wind please blow on me and release from me the dead and dying parts.  Twirl them up to the sky, lay them on the ground, churn them into soil, all that death is good for.
Take those parts from me so that I might see spring again.
I will not forget the flowers
I will not forget the summer sun.
I will not forget the green grass and the lazy days lying beside a lover

Blow wind blow!
Do your worst so that my reward will be greater!



***
Came across this poem from Winter 2011.  It's only October but had to re-post.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Poetry: September Bellingham


Down the hill my city sits
Waves nip at its hair
Freeway scratches the belly
Mountains hold down its hip
Low mist rolled in early,
refuses to leave this cove
Down into the clouds I walk,
floating up into a subdued world
Here exhales are marked,
Talk can be seen
Sun baths buildings
in a peach-warm glow
as it fights the floating moisture
that crowns my
September Bellingham
Noon-thirty,
visibility still only four blocks.
The sun burns while seagulls
dance in the sky

Photo by Matthew Anderson/WWU
Bellingham in morning fog, September 2012


***



Monday, September 23, 2013

Chemical Warfare

Last Saturday, September 21st, was the International Day of Peace.  With that said, today's blog is about two women who hate each other so much, they pass gas whenever they are near each other.  Yes, this story is about farts.  Not just any kind of farts, but farts in the workplace.

This is a real story.  It really happened.  If you stay with it to the end, I promise there is a point, a good point, the kind of point we should all ponder.

***
A Washington State Ferry docked in Seattle


Seattle, Spring 2001

Walking off the ferry I started to chat with another commuter who walked the same route I did to the bus stop.  I learned that she worked downtown, was new to the country, working on a visa, and that she enjoyed Seattle and riding the ferry to work.  I will call her Jan.

On another day, one sleepy morning, while staring out the ferry window, a nice conversation was started between myself and a gentle-looking-soul of a woman.  We enjoyed each others company enough to continue the conversation while walking off the ferry, up the three blocks to Pioneer Square where we split off, each to our own workplace.  I will call her Mary.

One day while walking with Jan, I noticed Mary walking with others on the opposite side of the street.
"Jan, do you know Mary?"
silence...
"Do you know her?  I think she lives in Silverdale."
"Yes, I know Mary.  We work in the same office.  I hate her.  You should stay away from her."
"Wha... why?  Really?  She seems nice to me."
"That is because you do not have to work with her five days a week like I do.  I hate her so much, I fart whenever she comes by desk, so that she'll leave quickly."

A week later, Mary and I were walking to the bus.  Mary interrupted me to point at Jan, who was walking by herself into town.
"Shannon, see that lady there, in the light blue coat?  Stay away from that bitch.  Whatever you do, do not talk to her.  She's poison.  AND she stinks like shit.  Like she never showers!"
"Well, maybe she has a condition or..."
"NO.  I'm telling you she always stinks, and it's on purpose.  She is so nasty, I've decided to fart at her whenever she's near."
"WHY?"
"Because she needs to know how stinky she is. How dare she come to work like that, stinking the place up!"

Pioneer Square, Seattle Washington
1st Ave and Yesler Way

Wow.  Somehow I had become Ferry Friends with two ladies who were at war with each other.  Neither of them knew that I liked the other, and so for a good month I listened to each of them tell me their side of an argument.  An argument started for an unknown reason, and the purpose of the gas attacks unclear.  Why leave a good paying job because of it's methane levels?  The only thing I knew for sure was that these two ladies hated each other SO bad, they were willing to go to disgusting lengths to insult each other!

I stopped riding the ferry in 2002.  As far as I know the ladies are still gassing it up.

...oh, and I lied.  This story has no point.  That's the point.


PEACE


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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Event: Fairhaven Art Block Party


Come one, come all to the first annual 
Fairhaven Art Block Party!
Spontaneous street poetry provided by the 
Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater.
This festival is designed to spotlight the 
wonderful artistic community in the  
historic district of Fairhaven.
I'll be one of the street poets, with my book 
Madrona Grove in hand.

**See you there**


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bong Ja Ahn's Paper Boat


This Labor Day Weekend I was up in Vancouver, Canada for a book launch "Poet and the Paper Boat" by Korean poet Bong Ja Ahn.  The book is the second in her English-Korean Poetry Anthology.  This was a beautiful event held at a community center, upstairs in a corner room.  Large windows and balcony doors were open wide and the last winds of August danced gently around the room.  My poet friends, Carla and Betty, and I were there along with 30-40 others to support Bong Ja.  The guest of honor wore a traditional Korean gown, and the table of refreshments were a unique sampling of delicacies from her homeland.

While there, a friend invited me to read a poem at the yearly Tagore Festival in Richmond.  What a wonderful opportunity!  The afternoon was full of inspiration, rich conversation, and an exchange of artistic expression that filled up my soul!  So wonderful to be a poet in the company of poets.


Here is Bong Ja's signature poem from her new book:

Paper Boat

Yesterday
I folded and unfolded
a white paper boat.

Who is the noble born high up there
passing through the perfumed April air
Why the robins are busy signing at the early hour
And silvery sunrays ripple everywhere.

It's you
It's me
One followed by the other
Arrived on this side of mortal shore,

Where the yearnings flutter as high as they are deep,
Where Karma is yet to be unwound from tangled spool,
Where Breath of life is like jade, precious and
tearful.

Today again
My white paper boat
I fold, unfold and fold again.



Learn more about Bong Ja here:  http://worldpoetry.ca/?tag=bong-ja-ahn

 



Monday, September 2, 2013

Event: Tagore Festival

West Coast Tagore Festival 2013



Tagore, b.May 7, 1861- d.August 7 1941,  
Indian poet, short-story writer, song composer, novelist, playwright, essayist, and painter.  
Tagore was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of modern South Asia

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Poetry: Robert Lashley

"Boards occupy a space between the mind and
the construction of the temporal. Cadences." R.Lashley


Robert Lashley Robert Lashley Robert Lashley



Lace covered lamp shade winks
As you walk toward the mic
Ceiling fan squeaks approval of your presence
Coffee shop poets snap anticipation
As your hand finds your poem
In a notebook of poems



Noble Prince of Poetry
Royal Performer of Words
National Manager of Thoughts
Country Jester of Meters
Fair Dancer of Rhythms



My Robert, dear Robert,
Your words are like a UFO
Sky chariot swooping down
To take Elijah home to the heavens
You pick us up and take our minds
To another place
To a new place
To a place, we did not know exist,
Nor did we ever want to go there, until now



Robert Lashley:
Please walk that cocky walk to the mic
Please look over your book at us
Wondering if our minds are ready for
The mind-whooping we are about to receive
Please take more than three minutes
And please, please, share one - more - poem


Royal Robert, Prince of Poetry
You are a rock in the river
Dividing it left and right
Changing the way it flows
On its way to a very big ocean


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***
 *you can hear Robert Lashley most Monday nights at Poetry Night, 7:30
at the Black Drop Coffeehouse, 300 West Champion Street