Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Errant Words

My word for the day: myriad.  In the pieces i posted yesterday, i used it 3 times, twice in one essay.  There it became a bridge between two ideas.  My writings will be myriad as well as errant.  

With so many things to write about, I become almost frozen in the face of all the choices.  It's similar to the bi-polar/anxietal immobilization, but without the consequences.  If i do not write here, for 10 minutes, there is no window of opportunity that i am missing.  You may say what if that window is longer than 10 minutes?  My experience has been that the window, if i can get out of it will only last that long. And if it is longer, there are past writings - my own and that of others, should i feel the need to post *now*. 
Even now, with all the ideas and words and sentences running amok in my head, I find this blog to be truly exciting.  And i will not bemoan the time where i refused for reasons I can no longer remember.  I am simply going to write.  I can edit it all later.....  I can even delete it all entirely.  But i think i will not. 
Part of my illness has led to me destroy my art - words, art, objects - in the past.  No use crying about it, and perhaps i will one day be able to re-create some of it.  And if not…there will be a limitless supply of words to arrange, colors to apply, and objects to shape into something better.
Writers often wonder will they be published, will they be read.  And while i would never want to see books disappear, here, on the net, there is so much more opportunity to be seen.  If even one person finds me, and reads what I have said, I am a success.

I have also invented a word here today – anxietal.  Perhaps one day it will be in a dictionary.  I think it should be, so feel free to use it, as it describes what it  suggests, and we will be part of the growing of language.  Talk about exciting!

Go! Write!

TO Galway Kinnell - poem

To Galway Kinnell

He said
Language is sexual
Could that be why?
I am so good at writing.
Because I enjoy so much,
And am so good at
Love making.
Or is it perhaps,
The other way around?
He said
Worshipping the life force
And I thought:
Let me worship that
Life Force
And be
Let me write.
And be read.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mirror, Mirror - Poem

Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror on the wall
I am my mother after all.
I don’t know who rewrote those Grimm Brothers’ lines,but
Mom gave me a pillow, with those words in needlepoint,
bought at some store.
I remember a time when she
would have made them herself.
And beautiful cakes for holidays and such,
with a theme – like my princess birthday,
complete with a knight in shining armor and
pointed hat with a veil.
When she married my dad, there was no more time for us
or special cakes.  My sister came after that.
Sis doesn’t have that kind of memory of mom.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall
I am my mother after all.
Not the toxic Queen of Control
she somehow became.
The witch who was jealous of what she saw
as my freedom – from kids and obligation.
Never realizing, that was all that I wanted.
So, she punished me in myriad ways.
I won in the end, I walked away.
But it was a Pyrrhic victory, with costs
not in blood, but regret and resentment,
in tears and anger and pain from wounds
she inflicted, without a care. 
At my sister’s house, I saw another pillow, just the same
She said she leaves it out - as a deterrent.
I had hidden mine away, for fear - they would come true.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall,
I am my mother after all.
So now, I leave my pillow out. 
But it’s not working.
I am, like the good mom I recall.
The one who gave me
a love of language and words;
she made me look them up
when I didn’t know them. 
And she taught me to be me,
even though it pissed her off when I was.
She gave me her face, too; I see it when I look
in a mirror.  I am lucky, I guess.  That’s the only
place I can see her now that she’s gone.
And despite all the conflict, the tears and the pain,
I still find myself saying, I have to tell Mom
This or that.  I miss her,
every day, and wish I could tell her
Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.


Soul Food - Poem

Soul Food

A flock of freshly sharpened pencils
adorn my writing table.
Points creating thin-lined words
on a clean white page.
Pink eraser on the end of each.
My thoughts flow faster
than my hand can write, leaving out
a letter in one word, adding it to another.
It’s easy to see my favorite pencil,
It has no eraser left.
Add on erasers just don’t work as well and
those large hand-held ones just don’t give
the same satisfaction as flipping gracefully
back and forth, correcting errors and
honing my words. 

Crisp, clean, smooth pages.
Never written upon, nor even next to
a written page, invite me to write.
Pale blue lines separating sentences.
Pink/red margin markers;
I usually escape their confines.
New legal pads, journals, old-fashioned copybooks,
graph paper, even columnar pads for bookkeeping.
Bookkeeping, keeping books, as in a library,
Mayhap, one day, one of mine.
Drawing and watercolor papers of all sorts,
fancy linen rag papers, construction paper – all
colors from grade school, all add their imprint
alongside of mine.

Old fashioned fountain pens, cheap
Bic’s® stolen from doctors offices, ball points
advertising some product or service. 
Newer rolling writers and gel pens that don’t skip.
I like extra fine point.
Keyboards with wondrous fonts, to save it all forever.

The smell of wood burning assaults my nostrils
as my cigarette lays on the shavings;
curled, tiny replicants of pencil points, only slimmer.
I want to write with a point that slender, that
sharp, but my hand would cramp much sooner.

Short stubs of pencils, with no erasers, making
them lie unevenly in the tray,  staring sadly at me.
They wait, to be used again, too short
to fit in my hand.
Throw them out, I think, but wait, no,
they have served me too well, setting my words and
thoughts to paper, in song, poems, and letters.
They deserve better that to be discarded,
unthanked, like trash on the side of the road.

Endless as the words waiting to be
written, the abundance of paraphernalia
designed for putting words into the
world, whisper to me
“Use me! Cover me! With beauty,
laughter, and tears."
And I answer by baring my soul.

Not so errant thoughts on slavery

What made the Atlantic Slave Trade Different?
(From slavery in other times and places)
Or was it?
Slavery has existed on our planet throughout recorded history.  There has even been a theory espoused in the last few years, that Cro-Magnon man enslaved the Neanderthals.  At first glance, the Atlantic slave trade was different from slavery at any other time and place in recorded history.  Motivation for the Midlantic slave trade was for one main reason, whereas in other areas the rationale was as varied as the cultures themselves.  The treatment of slaves was not different, but the numbers enslaved in various other areas and times was smaller, with a few notable exceptions.[1]  Duration of servitude and ability to obtain one’s freedom were also varied in sundry cultures.  Possibly the only difference was that by the end of the 17th century, slavery in the Americas was primarily limited to people of one color.  To my mind, even the idea of slavery, in a country founded on the premise of freedom and equality for all, is a paradox which will never be solved, but at least we can look at why’s and wherefores in the hopes it will never be repeated.
In China, during the building of the Great Wall, there was seasonal slavery.  Every family had to provide one person for three months out of the year.  Refusal was not permitted and should this person become ill or injured, a replacement was required.  Egypt and other countries acquired slaves through indebtedness, crime, indecent acts in addition to other common means of obtaining them.  In the Northwestern tribes of the United States slaves were used primarily as status symbols, and given away at the Potlatch ceremonies.  Japan had the geisha, a concubine, suggesting a relationship type of slavery.  Greeks had slaves of all kinds, from the household and civil servant, to miners and rowers on ships.  They came from warfare, debt-slavery, marriage, birth of children to slaves and babies found abandoned.  France, Ireland, and Czechoslovakia all had slave trading markets of Pagans and Muslims, giving a religious motive to slavery, during the High Middle Ages, many of whom were sold to Middle Eastern buyers.  England took many Irish and turned them into slaves, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, due mainly to religious differences.  The Anglican Church had slaves, branded on their chests with the word ‘society’.  Russia, Poland, and Romania all had slaves.  Germanys’ concentration camps were slave camps.  The Ottoman Empire had slave armies.  African Muslims who would go on a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca would bring a son to sell into slavery.  The Christian Bible has evidence of condoned slavery.  The Old Testament gives evidence differentiating permissible slavery from what is proscribed:   Leviticus:
25:39 If your brother becomes impoverished with regard to you so that he sells himself to you, you must not subject him to slave service.
25:40 He must be with you as a hired worker, as a resident foreigner; he must serve with you until the year of jubilee,
25:41 but then he may go free, he and his children with him, and may return to his family and to the property of his ancestors.
25:42 Since they are my servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt, they must not be sold in a slave sale.
25:43 You must not rule over him harshly, but you must fear your God.
25:44 As for your male and female slaves who may belong to you, you may buy male and female slaves from the nations all around you.
25:45 Also you may buy slaves from the children of the foreigners who reside with you, and from their families that are with you, whom they have fathered in your land, they may become your property.
25:46 You may give them as inheritance to your children after you to possess as property. You may enslave them perpetually. However, as for your brothers the Israelites, no man may rule over his brother harshly.
Virtually all countries at one time or another has had some form of slavery, for myriad reasons.
Myriad too, were the way slaves were treated.  In Sparta, slaves were allowed to come and go freely from the city, while the citizens were not.  On the other hand, they were also severely abused.  The Greeks treated different types of slaves differently.  Some were allowed to own businesses, and others were barely allowed enough food to live on.  Hammurabi had a stele created (circa 1760 B.C.) on which his laws were incised, including rules governing the treatment of slaves.  These were the most humane laws to date.  The treatment of slaves in the Americas was no better nor worse than slave were treated historically everywhere, with the exception of ancient Mesopotamia.  Some cultures permitted certain slaves to purchase their freedom.  In some other cultures as in some homes in the United States, slaves were protected and even integrated into the family.  Nevertheless, in the end, well treated or brutalized the fact remains, all were subject to punishment and death at the whim of their owners.
In almost all cases, slavery has been a decisive factor in economy and customs, mores and development and/or decay of cultures around the globe.
One of the causes of the decline of the Roman Empire may have been their use of slave labour.  While the ancient Greeks had many impressive scientific and mathematical achievements, they never succeeded in applying any of their discoveries to any practical use, partly because slave labour was cheaper and easily available.  By the end of the second century A.D., the ancient world's lack of industrial technology and labour-saving machines started to make it impossible for the Roman Empire to maintain both its military and a healthy civilian population.[2]
Study of the era shows that the United States could not have developed into an economic power as quickly as it did, without the use of slaves.  Slavery makes an impact, and is still in existence today, albeit on a much reduced scale and hidden from sight, even where it is known to exist, still making an impact.
Much has been made of the Atlantic Slave trade, from the length it prospered, to the treatment of slaves, as well it should be.  The only reason for the Midlantic slave trade to flourish and continue for so long, were the huge profits made for all involved, from the shipping companies and captors, to the buyers and users.  As we can see today, people will still do anything to maintain their profit, regardless if it is illegal, immoral, or indefensible.  What is different about slavery in the Americas is the level of documentation in a world that had the beginnings of mass communication, by the time it was ended.
While there are no longer any former slaves from that era still alive today, for many years after the American Civil War ended, there were many still living.  The writings and histories of former slaves have garnered much attention since then.  But it is not just mass communication which has brought so much attention to Midlantic Slavery; I believe, it is also the effort to understand the people who are descended from slavery as well as to continue enlightening ourselves and prevent slavery from ever happening again.  Because of our ‘charter’ of all men being free and equal, we have to look at what was done throughout our history.  Slavery was one of the blackest marks, along with the treatment of the indigenous peoples, and as such must not be expurgated in any way from our history, but instead needs to be readily available for scrutiny; much like the Holocaust of WWII vis-à-vis Germany
Another difference is one that no one seems to acknowledge.  Slaves have risen up and freed themselves.  Countries have forced others to end slavery.  Nations have freed slaves and abolished slavery on their own.  However, the United States was the only country that ever went to war (ostensibly[3]) to free itself of slavery.  Moreover, because of our freedoms, we can give it all the attention it deserves; including the possibility of reparations, while in other countries, there is no talk of compensation.  This seems a much more difficult task than that of making reparations to the indigenous peoples.  There is a school of thought that any reparations should go to aiding the abolition of slavery where it is occurring today.  In any case, the discussions and study of slavery in the United States will go on for a very long time, as it should be.  And perhaps, this scrutiny will prevent any future occurrences, similar or different, on any major scale.

[1] Spartan slaves outnumbered citizens 7:1 and while no figures were found, it is estimated that Greek slaves outnumbered citizens
[3] At the end of the American civil war, Northern general Ulysses S. Grant owned four slaves while fighting for the North (who opposed slavery) against the South (who were in favour of slavery).  He refused to free his slaves at the end of the war, when he was forced to do so by law.  His counterpart in the South, general Robert E. Lee, was morally opposed to slavery and had freed his slaves in the late 1840's, believing that "slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any society, a greater evil to the white man than the black".
These facts show two things: that the south, at least, was fighting for a different reason – one of sovereignty and that one does not need to believe in a cause to fight for it.  (But that is a subject for another day.)

Where otherwise not noted, sources include:

Fish - Poem


How does an otherwise intelligent woman – 

Brilliant at times 

Keep falling for lines like 

“I’ve always liked full-figured women” 


“You have such passion, men don’t have that Kind of passion,

that’s why we need you” 

Somehow they just know 

Which of us will fall for their lies 

And believe they really mean them 

Time after time. 

Giving our heart and soul 

Always thinking this one is real. 

Men are supposed to be sportsmen, 

But, come on guys 

Don’t you ever get tired of 

Shooting Fish 

In a barrel?


Seasons - Haiku


 Ignited Passions Pursue
Indifference Looms

Food Chain - Poem

Food Chain                                                                                                                                                                   
Ten days ago                                                
The great horned owl appeared                    
Sitting on a light pole
Calling.  ‘Come here, Come here’.
Mama kitty disappeared
Two days before
This morning, again,
She sat calling
For the others.
‘Come out, come out
Wherever you are’.
I chased her away.
The coyotes are singing tonight
Not their usual, happy,
We got some dinner,
We got some dinner’, song.
Like the night she went missing.
This was more of a
Sister got hurt song.
Last week it sounded like the
‘Send us more furries
She tasted good’,  Song.
They tell me
There’s bobcats around.
She was a baby alone on the prairie
When she found me
She survived all that before
Snakes too.
Even the two legged kind.
Wish I had a gun.
But what would I shoot?


I love words.  So much that i get 4 word for the day columns sent to my email.  OK, Urban Dictionary isn't really about learning new words, but as i see it as keeping tabs on new usage and mindset.  I have often written about words and writing, and here i am starting a blog - which i swore never to do.  Oh please, not texting next.....
Since i am still sorting out how to work this site, have patience.

I came here this morning to share a word, in the hopes it would be a deterrent to becoming one: poetaster

It comes from
This week's theme
There is a word for it

This week's words

By the way i also suffer from anomia.

Please join me in the love of words, by subscribing.  At the very least, you will learn these words if you do not already know them or subscribe already, by clicking on the word link.  The thought for the day, at the end of the column not only has excellent advice/quotes, but very often has pleasing ways of putting words together, and ideas worth sharing. Thank you Anu Garg for so many years of education and entertainment.  A job with you would be heaven indeed!