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

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

I've Moved


I'm in the process of moving over to Wordpress
Use this link to get there fast!
Come on by and say hi to the new digs-

shannon p. laws | writer







Friday, July 4, 2014

Poem: Fort Builder





I am a fort builder of cushions and sheets
I stole the plywood from the garage and nailed it to the tree

I am the girl who spattered lavender paint on her new jeans for school
I am that one

I am that girl who made extra money picking berries,
babysitting, and watching cats

I was that girl who carried her gaming marbles
in a purple velvet Crown Royal bag at recess

I am the fourth grade girl who, it was rumored, picked up
Rodney Grange over her head and threw him down the hill

I am the girl who endured long Sunday drives
second hand smoking with you and Paul Harvey

I am the girl who walked with you around the muddy edge of Doyle Pond
It's soft cat-tailed ground rewarded us with leaches

I am the girl who watched you deal pills of all colors
in between our classes from your locker next to mine

I am that girl who had no cliques to sit with at 8th grade lunch
I sat at crowded tables in 9th
I found stairs outside to eat on in 10th
I drove off campus in 11th
I no longer cared in 12th

I was that girl who wore her gray leather boots everyday

I am that girl you shared stolen apricot brandy with
at an Auburn dance club parking lot one night

I was that girl you had between the ones you wanted
That neighbor girl you thought you had to trick to touch

I am the girl who builds forts




***


Monday, June 23, 2014

Book: Odd Little Things




So happy to announce that my book is out, and ready for purchase!

"Odd Little Things"
Released June 2014


Purchase your copy here:

Description

The 2013 Mayor’s Arts Award recipient, poet, author and community radio personality, Shannon P. Laws, celebrates glory in the little things, the odd little things to be exact.
"Odd Little Things" is a familiar ride full of piercing moments and wishes. In this, her second book of poetry, Shannon bares all making you feel like best friends at a café sharing secrets. The cycles of life seem to spin like an unforgiving stellar system for this poet. However large or small, everything matters, especially the moments you only share with yourself. Shannon says about her new book, "If 'Madrona Grove' is my lover, then 'Odd Little Things' is my child."


About the Author

Bellingham poet, Shannon P. Laws, is a regular at open mics, sharing poems and excerpts from her work of literary fiction. She can be found at such venues as Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, Village Books Open Mic, Poetry Night and Kitchen Sessions. She is a founding member of World Peace Poets, who encourage harmony through words for international writers at various public readings. In her spare time she hosts the Village Books Poetry Group, and is a volunteer producer at a non-profit community radio station.

Product Details
ISBN-10: 0692222359
ISBN-13: 9780692222355 
Published: Chickadee Productions, 06/24/2014 
Pages: 44 , $7.99



Message from the Author


“Synchronicity shows up in the oddest places.  It  waves at us, at just the right moment, from the living rings of our spiraling universe. It is our choice to recognize it. Miss it once, well that’s OK, perhaps you’ll catch it next time around. Years later a lightning bolt of déjà vu runs down your spine, awakens the bumps on your skin, jerks your elbow to perform a respectful wave back toward your connection to it all.

Thank you for the visit, spending some time with me in my mind’s garden.”  



~Shannon P. Laws



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Poetry Day Camp

Saturday, I went to a poetry day camp taught by a well known poet here in Bellingham. Went in support of a friend and I'm surprised at the poems that came out of the day, well, not TOO surprised.

Poetry is a personal art, an intimate process.  To write poetry in a group setting creates conflicts in my mind regarding acceptance, insecurities in presenting work not polished, and sharing my life with strangers.  Believe it or not, these are all good energies that will spark new creativity!

I've talked with dancers, musicians and writers and many have shared how a challenging outline, space, or environment pushes them into new creative territory. The more unusual the boarder of space, physical or otherwise forces our imagination into the problem solving quadrant and the results can be amazing.

I encourage artists of all types to look for new space to work and perform.  If it scares you a bit, you're probably on the right track.  I'm learning to enjoy the uncomfortable.


Amazing or not, here are my two favorite poems from the day, unpolished, slightly edited, and fresh:

Photo prompt:


Goats in Trees Have Bird Bones


Air filled, no wings
not feather, but fur
covers the skin
soaked in urine
now a leather bag of a man
strapped to shoulder
walker of the road
follows the orange
setting sun until
he reaches the
land where goats
climb trees
but do not fly


Line Prompt:

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
 -a line from "Go to the Limits of Your Longing" by Rainer Maria Rilke
A Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, b.1875-d.1927

Make Big Shadows I Can Move In


Protected by your stare
Sun’s rays will burn me
If they spy me standing there

Under covers of the bed I made
Next to a pile of books to read
Window’s light a threat
Curtains now a shade

Dull shaped pattern of gray
Cover thick on the ground
Outline the places where I can stay


***



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Poem: Graduation



Graduation




The average person gets 432 haircuts in their lifetime
For you I wonder- too many, or not enough
Regardless, you will not like most of them

Every seven years your skin is completely renewed
From scalp to toes, a new birthday suit is knitted

You will use at least 150 toothbrushes
from baby teeth to wisdoms,
and swallow just as many spiders
or so the legend goes...

How many haircuts until you find yourself
How much skin must be shed before
it's thick enough to stand up in battle
How many spiders swallowed
before humility stains the lips

Your eyes will know the answers.
That day your heart will ring
As bells echo in your mind’s
cavernous landscape

We graduate many times, not just today.
Celebrate each one 








Monday, June 9, 2014

Maggie the Ghost


Have you ever worked with a ghost?

One summer, I worked on a Washington island as a housekeeper at a large inn that is playfully haunted by "Maggie".  My encounters with the ghost were so gentle, she is an inspiration for my book scheduled to be released 2015.




The Inn wasn't very old.  You'd expect a few ghosties in ancient buildings, but this fairly new island-craftsman seems the last place for a spirit to haunt.  The inn has beautiful contemporary cabin accents, and is set near a lake that mists up in the early summer mornings.  Walking around the lodge and grounds the spirit of the place is light and inspiring.  It has a magical feel to it, as if hidden from sight wood gnomes and nymphs dance around the ferns, and fairy princes ride dragon flies through the cedar and fir forest.


Red Hair and Footprints
My first encounter with the ghost was in the manifestation of long red hairs.  After cleaning a tub or sink, leaving the room and returning with clean towels, a bright red hair would sometimes waved “Hello” at me, all laid back resting on the clean white surface.  The third or fourth “Hello”, I started to calculate the odds of how many red-headed guests visited.  When I shared my findings with the house manager, she confirmed, it was the ghost.

Anything strange like that was given to the lady ghost’s credit.  The staff believes her to be an early pioneer woman, whose spirit wandered into the lodge attracted by the lights and noise.  One day we decided to give her a name.  We all felt like it was an “M” name, so she was named Maggie.  Maggie has a great sense of humor, locking staff and guest out of the rooms, turning on the heat in summer, but her specialty is leaving barefoot footprints on mopped floors. 




Maggie’s prints came to visit me one day.  Two bare foot marks appeared on either side of the toilet, toes facing out, on my newly mopped floor.  When I saw the foot marks, I knew it was the lodge ghost!  Just to be sure, I took a stiff brush and cleaner to the area.  No success.  The marks could not be brushed off.  Before the new guests arrived I checked the bathroom floor a last time.  The floor now dry, the footprints dissipated properly, as any nice ghost would do.  What a lady!

Thank you Maggie, for cleaning up your mess.  You’re alright in my book.


***





Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Guest Poet: Denise duMaurier


Snowdrop


A daystar opened in my row
of dead leaves pallid from the wind
a golden center ready for the slug
that finds it blind and eats it whole.
Feet that feel no miracles will
stomp on it thinking it a weed
in the way of clearing fallen bark
and broken twigs that quit the tree.
January snowdrop white as milk
glows like fairy-light on the foggiest
morning of the week frosted in the
polar vortex, born again.


~Denise duMaurier















Guest Poet Bio:

Born in Pennsylvania and educated in England, Denise duMaurier worked as a stage actor in character roles for more than 50 years. Her love of poetry began with wonderful roles from the "SH-guys:" Shakespeare, Sheridan, Shaw. Her latest book, Follow Me Down, contains poems of tribute, remembrance and aging, most written in Minneapolis, MN, before moving to Bellingham, WA, in the spring of 2010, to escape Minnesota's winters.

Village Books is pleased to carry copies of Denise's poetry books Follow Me Down and Abandoning the Raft. Please call 360-671-2626 to obtain copies.

***

~Thank you Denise for allowing me to post this beautiful, fresh new poem on my blog.  When you shared it with me the other day at our Saturday brunch, I was moved.  If it wasn't for the noise of the cafe, people may have heard me sniffing tears away.  It touched my heart as your poetry often does.  
Great stuff!  -Shannon


***

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Poem: Handcraft



I hide my hand from my lover
Dripping in apple’s wine
The season is now morning
The harvest hangs on the vine

I shall pick the fruit
Forgotten by my lover
I shall reap the award
Of the farmers labor

Dance across the leaf
That shines with dew
Hop along the river
A trail we once knew


***


Friday, May 23, 2014

Poem: Am I lovely? Of course!


Am I lovely? Of course!
BY VERA PAVLOVA
TRANSLATED BY STEVEN SEYMOUR


Am I lovely? Of course!
Breathlessly I taste
the subtle compliment
of a handmade caress.
Chop me into tiny bits,
caress and tame my soul,
that godly swallow
you love to no end.

***

Vera wrote, 
"poetry is like earthworms, thought is like cud, 
and understanding is like insanity"  




My thoughts are everywhere today.
In 7th grade science class our teacher took a block of wood and placed it on the front table.  He then told us, "Everything is made up of molecules.  Everything. The only reason why the molecules of this block do not merge with the molecules of the desk is because they are moving super slow."  He went on to say that if two objects touch long enough, they would merge.  It may take a million years, but they will merge.

Chemistry is the branch of science that studies matter that interacts quickly with other matter, and changes two substances, that form new substances.  Chemicals move faster than a block of wood set upon a teacher's desk.

I must consider the bonding of people, substances, the substance of humans, parts that move slow and others fast, blood and water, our solid bones and muscles, and the abstract of thoughts and dreams.

Does a relationship make it to the level of atom?






To learn more about Vera, go to her website:


   


   


Monday, May 19, 2014

Two-Toned

Here is a blog post from 2010.  I no longer own this watch.
This real life story is on my mind this morning. Hope you like it.
~Shannon



Sometime around 2004 I won a prize. My sales efforts for the year earned me a gift of one item from a catalog titled “Copper Tier Winners”. It basically meant I placed third, with hundreds of others, within the nation wide company.

This was during a time in my life when I was working so hard with my head down and nose to the grinder, that to receive recognition caused confusion. I didn't need a gift, I needed a vacation! Not really paying attention to my progress but just working like a dog, the numbers came in, and by years end, I was a winner!

Suffering from lack of sleep, long commute and a stressful work environment, I felt more cynical that elated. “Blood, sweat and tears and they give me a crappy watch. Oh well it’s better than nothing.”


IT'S DEAD
So, six years later, the battery dies. My new job requires me to work on a timed schedule in an environment with almost no clocks. After weeks of unsuccessfully trying to use the suns position as a guide, I decided it was time to get a new battery. So out of pure necessity I drove the three miles into town to fix this issue.

“How long will it take?”
“Come back tomorrow morning. It’ll be ready by then. Ten bucks total.”
“Great!”
That was in May.

Months later I called in to apologize and let them know I’d be in that week on my day off.
“What name is it under?” I told them.
“We don’t have a watch under that name. What kind of watch is it?”

I suddenly realized I didn't know the brand of the watch that I had been wearing for almost 6 years.
“Ummm it’s a two-toned ladies watch, like a cheap Timex or a Seiko.”
“Nothing like that here.”
I left them my name and phone number in case they came across it.

Feeling hopeful this afternoon, I walked in to the jewelry store to meet with the assistant in person.
“It’s been a few days. Have you found it?”
“What kind is it again?”
“A ladies two tone watch.”
“Is it this one?” In the clerks hand was my watch!
“YES, that’s it!”
Then the lecture started, with a smile, but a lecture none the less “Now, this is not some cheap Timex or a Seiko, OK. This is an upper end Citizen. The difference of about $300.”
“Really?”
“Yes. You had us looking for cheap ol’ ladies Timex the whole time.”
The owner walked over and added, “So we found the cheap Timex owner, eh?”

We all had a laugh and I thanked her for correcting me. After wearing the watch for 6 years, probably looking at the face ten times a day, I didn't remember the brand. To me the watch was a big joke.


The whole watch battery thing made me think back to that time. I thought about how hard that year was on me, “How’d I ever do it?” I wondered.

Seldom do we ever pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. Sometimes, many of us who are performance driven belittle even the smallest achievements.

I’m glad I lost my crappy Timex; because today I picked up a Citizen!
I’m a winner!  (you can tell because I'm wearing a nice watch)




...and I still need a vacation.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Three Things

This week I am thinking of three things:  clouds, pockets and revelations.

As a kid I watched “Bewitched” re-runs after school.  Sometimes Samantha would join her mother in the clouds for a witch to witch conference.  They would argue with each other completely oblivious to their surroundings.  Apparently in that universe it was normal for witches to meet in the clouds.  How wonderful to wiggle your nose and ride a cloud for an afternoon.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorehead flying
in ABC's "Bewitched" 1964-1972


Only one cloud in my sky this morning, and it looks good for riding. 
What does this world look like from that cloud, sitting higher than birds soar? 

Perspective is everything.  Our planet is full, and getting fuller of people and we all have unique perspectives on the world, the neighborhood, the view of the lake, if Mrs. Green looks good in pink.  We all have different points of view.  How wonderful!

What about your point of view on the life’s journey?  
How are you doing? 
Have you figured out who you are yet?
I'm still working on it.

For a short while, years back, I was a daycare teacher for the three and four year olds.  One month we were teaching the kids about the five senses.  I went to the resource room to find games to go along with the theme.  The one I found for “touch” is on my mind this week:
Place random objects in a pillow case of different size and shape, such as a block, paperclip, action figure, rock, a string.  One by one a child places their hand into the bag, selects one item and guessing what it is only by touch. 

It was a success!  The kids seemed to enjoy it.


Revelation

I witnessed a man having a revelation, and it is haunting me.  He is in his 70’s.  The expression on his face was a moment of clarity.  I saw it.  It hit me hard.  A true WOW.

It was as if, for a second, the great mystery of life was revealed to him.  It looked as if he could see his life unfolding before his eyes, the important parts floating by, and now he could see, NOW he knew who he was, what his life had been about all those years! 

It was as if he finished reading that one page from a long mystery novel when all is revealed!
When you find out whodunnit and scream, "WHAT?  It was him?"

And at that moment I thought about the hidden objects in the pillow case and riding the clouds.  I thought about clues hidden by life’s veil, a rock that we carry with us forever in our mind's pocket, something we play with and touch, to see if it is still there, wondering the great wonder of what it is.  A stone we get to hold and view ONE time.

Written on the stone is our answer. 
Once we read it, we ride the clouds.







Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Event: Mayor's Arts Award/Speech


Tonight at 5:30
Here's my thank you speech:

     I am filled with joy and encouragement over this award.  It is a humbling experience to be listed with the other artist from the past years and those receiving it today.  Many of whom are on my list of people I want to be someday.

I believe I share this award with organizations that were here long before I arrived to Bellingham, in winter of 2010.  Places such as:
Village Books
Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater
Whatcom Poetry Series: Poetry Night Open Mic
and KMRE 102.3 SPARK Radio
that broadcasts out of the SPARK Museum on Bay Street

It was through these community centered groups that I was able to find a good reason to be busy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12-3, or Sundays 1-4.  2013 was a busy and productive year for poetry, and I am glad to of been apart of it.

Roosevelt said: "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." As militant as this sounds, action is required to better our surroundings. Actions.  Not wishful thinking.  Lets all work together to build a better tomorrow.

Thank you Mayor Linville, the Bellingham Arts Commission, and my friends and family for your support.

Thank you.








Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Poem: Ink Stained Hands


Read me the paper Uncle
Loud enough to hear in the kitchen
Touch it for me, turn those pages.
Aunties and I are cooking the dinner
hands must be kept clean.
But in your place by the fire
the beige recliner squeaks
on the back-beat of your rocking,
toes slide in and out of slippers
leather stretched out and soft
as a first basemen’s glove
Calloused hands turn each inky page
of the Sunday review
headlines shout at us
while we chop onions

Man Reading a Newspaper
by Stephen Gillett


-S.P. Laws

National Poetry Month | Write a Poem a Day


***

Monday, April 28, 2014

Poem: Bridge


Walk over Whatcom Creek
Rot filled reed twirls on axle
in a current heading toward the bay
wave hiccups over, turns white
if only for a second to breathe

Grass flat on the shore 
exposes all that rest here 
in the cold under arch 
pressed and fluttered
stuff with down

Frogs sleep in mud
hidden below snails and slugs
hand knit stitch surrounds my head
Shoes trace the lines over water
Walk over Whatcom Creek

Japanische Bruecke, 1899
by Claude Monet


S.P. Laws

National Poetry Month | Poem a Day


***


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Poem: Wrong Seat


Chair with no backing
broken spring in there, somewhere
cushion a questionable color
pattern select or historic stain
must test if still wet

Sit here if you like 
it's the last chair left
and it is just not right

Your frame will not fit
the Seuss-wobbled structure
yet you sit.  It is the last chair.
Bottom line discovers the
displeasure immediately


-SPLaws

Wassily Kandinsky



National Poetry Month | Write a Poem a Day

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Poem: Maritime Park


shoes on the lines
hang to mark
the bargaining table
point of action
office closed for now
due to weather

     no hollow eyes to nod at
     no dirty hands to wave back

the fields here
afternoon homes
for the addicts
empty

snow just left and melting
rows of unfinished snowmen,
wordlessly guard over
nothing


Photo by Ann Bilowz

~SPLaws

***

National Poetry Month | Write a Poem a Day




Monday, April 7, 2014

Poem: Love's Wine

Hummingbird heart
pushes out toxins
of red wine and cabbage
Cockroach mind 
scurries in search of crumbs 
and dried yellow cheese
Desperate parts of me
want to love all you offer
my stomach not use 
to pure nectar rejects it
Forgive those parts of me
that lean against you
as a tree planted too
close to the wall


Photo by Frances Fu

-SPLaws



***

 National Poetry Month | write a poem a day


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Poem: Light Like Love

The wind blows in its fresh breath
smell the sunshine on its wave
sun shines as a lamp turned on by God
Designed to remind me
The universe is the big black
But where you are now
I wish to see you



Monday, March 31, 2014

Event: Poetry Reading

Join local poets
Heather Curtis, Shannon Laws
and Jennifer Bullis
for a poetry reading celebrating
National Poetry Month.





April 5, 2014, 7:00 pm
Village Books 
1200 11th St
Bellingham, Washington

Come on down to celebrate National Poetry Month 
and the release of Heather's new poetry book, "Upon Waking".

"Upon Waking has been inspired by the exploration of landscapes: both internal and external. The mind, natural world, relationships, and personal experiences are the wells from which poet, Heather Curtis, draws inspiration. It is her hope, that these poems express where she has been and encourage you to do your own exploring." 

See you there!

Village Books Event Page

***




Monday, March 24, 2014

Mayor's Arts Award





Shannon P Laws
Mayor's Arts Award
35th Annual Recipient
Bellingham, Washington



It is with great joy and thanks to our Mayor Kelli Linville and the Bellingham Arts Commission that I share with you my good news: I am a recipient of the Mayor's Arts Award, 2013.  Truly a once in a lifetime award! 

2013 was an outstanding year in the area of community literature and arts outreach.  Sparks of creativity, and the desire to extend past the coffee houses, birthed new events for our city.  Through events such as the international "Poets for Peace, Read-in, Write-on",  the FAB (Fairhaven Art Block) party, and the radio feature "Poetic Moments", poets and writers found new ways to bring encouragement, insight, and art to citizens.    

Bellingham is a city of artists, a city of poets, a city of musicians, and I am happy to be apart it.

Please join the other recipients, and me for the reception and awards ceremony 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30th at the Mount Baker Theatre in the Walton Theatre located at 104 N. Commercial Street in downtown Bellingham.

ALL RECIPIENTS
Tore Ofteness - Photographer
Margaret Bikman - Entertainment News Coordinator
Laurel Leigh - Author and Editor
Jack Frymire - Opera Singer and Educator
Shannon Laws - Poet
Becky Elmendorf - Former Whatcom Symphony Orchestra President
Alan Rhodes - Community Columnist


The Mayor's Arts Awards ceremony is an annual opportunity for the Mayor to recognize individual artists and businesses, benefactors, arts organizations, arts community leadership, arts education or support, civic improvement and research, notable achievements and events, and those that have contributed to the arts in our community. 



Thank you
~


Old City Hall




Saturday, March 15, 2014

Poem: Visitor

A poem comes by for a visit
jumps, twists, turns
in the room of imagination

My pen begs to carve it
 beat in the meters
as placed prison bars
spaced inches apart
capturing an essence 

Truth:
You are not mine

Pockets turned out with no
proof of visit, no valet ticket
to retrieve after-party transport,
A bookmark fallen from the pages
of a story unwritten

I love you
Never knew you

I kiss it gently, wish it well
It's form not scratched on my paper
send it on it's way
to find another 
to seduce


~SPLaws


Polyhymnia, the Greek Muse of Sacred Poetry

***

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Philomena / What Are You?

Just last week I went to see the movie "Philomena" at the Pickford Film Center. Here is what the Internet Movie Data Base writes for the movie's summary:

"When former journalist Martin Sixsmith is dismissed from the Labour Party in disgrace, he is at a loss as to what do. That changes when a young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, Philomena, who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic convent. Martin arranges a magazine assignment about her search for him that eventually leads to America. Along the way, Martin and Philomena discover as much about each other as about her son's fate. Furthermore, both find their basic beliefs challenged."

As an adopted child, this was an especially interesting movie to view.  It seemed at times Philomena, played beautifully by Judi Dench, bled out a mothers heart, washing the audience with the experience of a mother being separated from her child.

I cried through most of the movie, and as a poet and an author, I feel forced to categorize my emotions on paper.  Not even sure that's possible, (Still working on that).  In the meantime, below is a re-posting of "What Are You?".  A post I wrote in 2012 on adoption and family trees.

A psychologist friend of mine shared once, the earlier in a person's life that a tragic  event occurs, the more of an impact it has on the foundation points of the person's character.  An adopted child is, sometimes, unwanted at conception.  It's forming ears hear it's mother struggle: loving the child, hating the child, doesn't want the child, wants to keep the child, the guilt and anger.  Some adopted children end up as "transplanted fruit" attached to a new family tree, loved, cared for and happy.  The mothers worries possibly put to rest, yet the connection a child/mother have is undeniably strong.

The main point, I am glad they highlighted in the movie, is forgiveness.  It is a blessing to me to forgive. To allow myself to forgive.  You can forgive people you never met, even people who birthed you, then walked away.

My mother was 32 when she had me, information on my father is unknown.  If they are still alive, I wish them well.  Too much energy in this world is wasted on hate.  God bless you both, whoever, wherever you are today.

-Shannon P Laws

***

WHAT ARE YOU

Harborview Hospital, Seattle WA
photo taken in the same decade I was born,
 from the western slope of First Hill
and part of Yesler Terrace 

For the first two weeks of my life I was an orphan.  My birth mother left me at the Seattle hospital I was born in.  She walked in to the emergency room in labor, gave birth and left the next day.  Gone.  Nothing but a one page form filled out.  It's doubtful that the information she gave was truthful, I never found out.  Fortunately, when I was just two weeks old, my future parents took me in as a foster child.  They adopted me a year later.  I grew up in a happy home.  I was lucky.

Throughout my life there were little moments when not having birth family health history was an issue, usually with trips to the doctor.  Most forms ask for family history.  For example when I was pregnant, the form asked if miscarriages, natural or multiple births ran in the family.  Always I entered "adopted" on the blank line.
My brother and I at the beach
My Aunt called us "Irish Twins"

In my younger years, growing up in an area with a low minority population, people, sometimes strangers, would ask me awkward questions.  Some people are not graceful when they ask about your adoption or race.  In America , there is still a sense of taboo about being adopted, especially by the folks from my grandparents generation.  However, the question of WHO gave me up and WHY, is shadowed by another.  The most asked question from others is "What are you?"   ...'scuse me? Yes, it's true.  Sometimes I'll respond, "I'm human.  What are you?"  However, when I'm in a cheeky mood, I answer with the only one I have:  "Me? Oh I'm Irish and German.", then watch them try to figure out how my features fit into those categories.  "You mean Black Irish?"


What are you?
Painted faces from the World Cup 2012
Folks are often confused by my features and can't figure it out, and sometimes really need to figure it out.  Of all the little issues with being adopted this one is the most confusing for me.  People have guessed that I could be Mexican, Spanish, Italian, Jewish, Slavic, Black Irish, even Gypsy.  No one guesses German or Irish.  I do wonder about my blood line, but WHY is it so important to other people, especially to people that I just met, what my race, nationality or ethnicity is?  Is there a box in their head they are trying to put me in?

Over time, my position regarding what I am changed slightly.  Since I don't know what race I am, I decided to be ALL races.  This attitude comes in handy and lightens the conversation at times.  Once I offered a friend some hummus.  They went on a rant how they do not like "foreign" food and that it was a "stupid hippie dip."  I informed him that he was insulting my people.  This friend knew I was adopted and joked back, "You don't know who your people are."  I responded proudly, "Then I am ALL people."  We were joking around, but honestly aren't we all a little bit of EVERYBODY?


Pedigree Collapse
The truth is that we are everybody... or I mean everyone.  Genealogy is a fickle beast.  Did you hear about the guy who discovered he was a direct relative to King Charlemagne?  NPR ran a great article about the issue of Pedigree Collapse.  It goes something like this:  if you count your direct ancestors backward through time, the further back you go, obviously, the more ancestors you have. But when you do the numbers, something queer happens.


King Charlemagne 742-814,
The "Father of Europe" 
Go back to A.D. 800 and the number of direct ancestors is, well, puzzling. You start with two grandparents, then four great-grandparents, then on to eight, 16, etc., and by the time you get to A.D. 800, the number averages to about 562,949,953,421,321. That's a lot of people. In fact, that's more people than have ever lived.

So somethings wrong.

What's wrong is at some point up the line, people get counted twice, or three times. Your great-great-great-great-grandma on one line turns out to also be a great-great-great-great-grandma on another line. The same person can show up multiple times. You get duplicates. And way back, when the population of humans was much smaller, pretty much every line is duplicating heavily till at some point, everybody is your direct ancestor.

So see I wasn't too far off.  I am related to all and all is everybody.  
(...oh and don't insult my people!)
*blah*


***


References:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/02/16/146981369/the-charlemagne-riddle
Philomena Official Movie Site- © 2013 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
"Philomena" IMDb Movie Page



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tree Post

I got here late

The only seat available was the one no one wanted
All chairs face the stage, have a view of the author
Performance visible to most, if only through
wagging heads, at the least a peek of a name
decent money was used for admission

MY chair faced square
onto the flat side of a wide, wooden support beam.



There was no view of anything but the beam
There was no reason to place a chair here


My friend asked
"Can you see?  Should we move?"
"No", I lied, "I'm fine."

So, I stared at the beam, for a half hour, then another
began to memorize the grain patterns in the wood
     Someone had stapled something to the beam, many times
     A smash of old blackened gum pressed into a small knot
     smooth sides needed, gum was the answer

I wanted to touch the tree beam
I wanted to touch it, shake the hand of this new friend

Wonder if I ran my hand down against the grain, would a splinter, a quick prick, check for life  If fingers rub sideways, along the side, would each ring show me a ridge, read like a romantic drama written in Braille  This beam, now My beam, an old beam in an old building basement is large enough, with the help of five others to keep three stories erect for eighty-six years.

                                      Dents
     Scratches
 Stains
                                      Beauty



For two hours I stare at The Beam

My beam, once a tree, played me a story
More interesting than the words happening beyond my sight
by a walker who moves too quickly to grow roots
The sound of which I found easy to ignore,
wind through branches imagined are easy to understand

Rings cut across show as vertical stripes, when industry sawed 
your heart square, changed your shape forever, no one asked permission
Sap and air darken your flesh!
Bark grows no more!

I paid to hear another read
I paid to hear a tree speak



Afterwards the author holds a book signing 
I wait as my friend stands in a long line
purchased book in hand 
I dare not tell the author that I found 
a wooden support beam more interesting that their book

...but I wanted to.



***







Thursday, February 13, 2014

Poem: Rondo


Did I love thee?  I only did desire
To hold thy body unto mine,
And smite it with strange fire
Of kisses burning as a wine,
And catch thy odorous hair, and twine
It through my fingers amorously.
Did I love thee?

Did I love thee? I only did desire
To drink the perfume of thy blood
In vision, and thy senses tire
Seeing them shift from ebb to flood
In consonant sweet interlude,
And if love such a thing not be,
I loved not thee.

~

by 
George Moore
Feb 1852-Jan 1933
an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, 
art critic, memoirist and dramatist



...one of the poems I read at the Chuckanut Sandstone Writer's Theater
monthly open mic, 2/12/2014, held at the Firehouse Cafe, in Fairhaven



***

Monday, February 3, 2014

Poem: Tongue in Ink



The best poems are not written in ink but by the tongue
Spoken into the air never finding paper
Touched by the mist of breath against your neck
Said in the dark rooms where lovers meet

Not at all recorded nor syllables numbered
But art form just the same
Once activated and released the words are all lost
Left to moments that linger
Holding each other in sweaty embrace
As if the sheets themselves are sentences


~Shannon P Laws


****

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Poem: No New Day

The days return 
familiar moments
eyelashes point at paper
no words can dance on
flower faces open
look inside the window
fingers weave the story of us
a braided rug used to 
cover the blemish

On my shoulder you perch
squawk as a chore, 
as a word to cross off

Your kiss is a temporary tattoo
placed onto my flesh with spit


***