Thinking About Mars on Earth Day (or am I?)

April is so chuck-a-bluck full of significant days, the ones with the fine print in the calendar blocks. Yesterday was John Muir’s birthday and today is Earth Day. That is an environmentalist’s version of a double-header! As much as I would like to write some lovely poem extolling the beauty of the natural world, today, I’m worried. Actually, every day I’m worried. I think many of us are. So, I’ve written a little warning to our nearest planetary neighbor.

Dear Mars,

I’m writing to you from a tiny patch
of solid land on planet
Earth.
I realize you probably have your own name
for my planet –
“My Blue Twin” or
“That Bloke Always Blocking My View of the Sun” or
“The Unfortunate Watery One”.
For the sake of our discussion
let’s call my home planet
Earth.
I wanted to let you know
in case you haven’t already figured it out
we’ve been watching you for a
LONG.
TIME.
We ruminate on your moods
track your movements
calculate how and how long
it will take
to get to you.
Until recently
it was all fairly innocuous stuff.
We trained telescopes on you
searched for water
collected rocks
no biggie – just getting to know
our celestial neighbor.
With sadness
I’m writing to warn you –
those days are over.
You may have noticed
a ticking sensation
roving your backside
something crawling
up your spine
some pesky bug burrowing
under your skin –
yeah, that’s us.
Well, not me.
Not even a human
but a machine we built
and launched
and landed on you.
Oh, I’m sure you think it’s nothing
to worry about
no more harmful than a baby’s hand
exploring the planes, curves, and divots
of its mother’s face.
DO.
NOT.
BE.
FOOLED.
People on this planet
have big plans for you.
Before you know it, they’ll land
drill rigs
excavators
explosives.
They will blast your formations
like they’re some mountain top in West Virginia
drill through you like convicts
looking for a way out
and if they find anything of
VALUE
well, I guess you may as well be
a Native American meeting Europeans.
I know this must be hard to hear
but I thought you should know the truth.
If I were you
I’d be a little less accommodating
a little more
war-like
because, believe me,
these aliens do not come in peace.

Yours in caution,
A Human of a Slowly Dying Planet

For the record – I don’t want to live on Mars. I don’t want humans to live on Mars (well, maybe we can ship a select few in that direction). I want us, here on Earth, to love the planet we’ve been given and to marvel at it like a baby marveling at its mother face. Let’s try that today. And tomorrow. And the day after.

Happy Earth Day!

So Much Pride

There’s lots of talk these days about “the trans”, as if they are some abstract concept out there, some weird peculiarity of human society, something strange, mysterious, devious, blah, blah, blah. I’m here to say, sometimes people are born in meat suits that don’t match their souls. I know plenty of them. (You do, too.)

Why am I thinking about the trans community on a beautiful Good Friday morning? Not to go all Christian theologian on you, but here is my answer in a poem:

The Announcement

Came today with a full color photo

“I have graduated!”

I scan the face of this unfamiliar name

the nose ring and pierced brows

the chopped brown hair

and black, so much black clothing

I dredge memories of a young girl

on stage in a lion’s mane

escorting Dorothy down a paper path

a huntsman begging Snow White

to run, run for her life

flee the witch queen and all her wickedness

I see a girl pretending to be a boy-

a boy pretending to be a girl

now a person casting off a costume

that never quite fit

claiming the stage

fearless in the spotlight

I stand and applaud

Yes, my dear,

you have graduated, indeed.

Isn’t it interesting that this appeared in my universe on the day billions of people around the globe remember the imprisonment, torture, and slaughter of an innocent human? A human compelled to preach love and community, to practice radical inclusivity? I’m just saying…

What a world we could have with a little more love and community and a lot less screaming about the “other” who is our neighbor, whether we recognize them or not.

A is for an Abundance of Poetry!

I fell in love with poetry when I could still sit on my mother’s lap. To me, it is irresistible. I think I’ve wanted to be a poet ever since. As early as second grade I was trying to flex my rhyming skills. (Actual poem I wrote for Mother’s Day.)

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Candy is sweet

And you’re neat!

And of wonder of wonders, I was published,(PUBLISHED!) in the local paper in fourth grade.

Profound, I know. Of course, to follow up on this writing success, I stopped writing poetry completely. High school and beyond was a poetry desert. Which could have been the whimpered end to my poetry career.

But, a few years ago, this old dog decided to learn some new tricks. I took classes, attended webinars even before we were all Zoom-dependent, and read and read and read. I found a welcoming community of writers who were willing to read my clunky, ham-handed drafts, encourage me to keep going, and offer up their own work as master class for me.

Paraphrasing Stephen King, if you have sent your writing into the world and received money for it, if your writing has paid a bill, you are a professional. Finally, finally, I sit here today, a professional poet, completely hooked (obsessed).

This is the first National Poetry Month that I comfortably claim “poet” in my bio. Now that I am in the community of poets, honestly, April is… a little overwhelming. Every poet I know is cranking out daily poems, participating in daily readings, visiting schools virtually and in person, etc., etc. It’s a lot.

It’s too much for me. If there’s one thing I have learned about my writing process, it’s that I am a S…L…O…W writer. I need time to let thoughts percolate, to dig in and figure out what I really want to say, to face the deep emotions. So here’s my plan.

I will write what I can for the love of writing. I will visit many blogs and poet’s websites. I will participate in a progressive poem. I will share one spoken poem with kids across the world. And I will read, read, read. Come join me.

Find the progressive poem here

1 April 1 Irene at Live Your Poem
2 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
3 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
4 Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
5 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
6 Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
7 Kim Johnson at Common Threads
8 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
11 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
12 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
13 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
14 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
15 Carol Labuzzetta @ The Apples in my Orchard
16 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town
18 Patricia at Reverie
19 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Kevin at Dog Trax
22 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
23 Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life
24 Marcie Atkins
25 Marilyn Garcia
26 JoAnn Early Macken
27 Janice at Salt City Verse
28 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
29 Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog
30 Michelle Kogan Painting, Illustration, & Writing

Watch poetry readings here

http://www.poetryboost.com/

Happy April!

Accidental Homeschooling

I think we can all agree, it’s been a tough two years. Those of us who have lived through our first pandemic have had to learn ways to keep it all together while we’ve been stuck inside, isolated. Some of us have had to jump into homeschooling, ready or not.

I hear you. I feel you. As a retired homeschooling parent, what’s so sad for me is that if you and your kids were plopped together doing “school at home”, you think you know what homeschooling is. You don’t. And you might think there is no way in blazes you will EVER do that again. I’m sorry.

The best homeschooling is about exploration. It is about seeing opportunities to learn as you go about your life. Yes, there are math books and maps and karate classes, but there’s also this.

The National Mall filled with families and kites.

I went D.C. to see cherry blossoms and found homeschooling. This is homeschooling. Seriously. Look at all the learning – geometry, aerodynamics, velocity, tension, artistry, atmospheric pressure, etc. All topics and concepts you could fill a curriculum with in ways that would make the most hardcore skeptic shut their pie hole. And that doesn’t even touch on all the discussions you could have about the history, architecture, and significance of the Mall, the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. in general. I see small motor skills, large motor skills, physical fitness. This sight even inspired me to write a tiny little poem:

Red octopus

Caught on a line

Still swims

You get the idea.

God forbid our lives get upended again anytime soon. But, if you are lucky enough to still have kids at home and you feel the need to doing something “productive” with them … maybe go fly a kite. Or find something beautiful in your own backyard. Like cherry blossoms.

It’s Time to Talk About Time

Every February for the last five years, I have participated in an online poetry- writing challenge run by my friend, Laura Shovan. Through the challenge, a group of poets is given a broad theme for the month, 28 of us volunteer to contribute a prompt associated with the theme, and everyone writes and posts very first drafty poems to that prompt. You can learn about it and follow along at Laura’s blog, https://laurashovan.com/blog/

This year our theme was time. How timely. Here is one of my drafty poems where I recollect the frustration and visceral disconnect of being placed in a location on the globe where I could not use clues from the natural world to indicate the time of day.

Deutschland (I Would Go Back Again, Oh Yes, I Would!)

It’s one thing to up stakes
across town – quite another
to hop an ocean
take a sharp left and settle
many degrees north
leaving your only known latitude
in the basement
old clocks are unreliable
in this geospace
sun rises too early and too late
dragon shadows hunt at noon
dinner is in the dark this week
in canopy shade the next
a year into exile
you give up on the useless
time clues and you
see the optometrist
get transition lenses
for your third eye
to relieve that straining
of searching for light
in all the wrong times
in all the wrong places
you clock out
of the calendar
surrender to whatever is

Imagine my shock, dismay, ANGER at waking up, still jet-lagged from springing forward into daylight savings time, to read the Senate has passed a bill to make daylight savings time the permanent time.

I have SO. MANY. THOUGHTS. Out of respect for your time, I’ll be brief.

The senators who passed this bill by unanimous consent seem to think what will make all our lives so much better is to just have a few more hours of daylight. They want to give us regular folks the opportunity to sit in the sun, play golf, shop and visit restaurants in the evening rather then leaving work in the dark and settling in at home. My, my. They came so close to having a clue.

Put aside the fact that changing the time on the clock doesn’t change the Earth’s tilted axis, that seasons happen, that there is a finite amount of time the sun shines on a point of the globe regardless of some clock contraption, that no one’s going out for golf when the temperature is 30 degrees, etc., etc. Let’s assume these fine legislators want us all to have more time in the sun for our own sake and not for the sake of business profits. Let’s assume they genuinely care about our well-being and they understand there are myriad documented physical, social, and mental health problems associated with changing the damn clocks twice a year.

Allow me to suggest there are other, more impactful pieces of legislation to address these issues. Off the top of my head – How about a 30-hour work week? (Just like that I found, TWO extra hours of daylight without tampering with time.) How about flexible work schedules? How about adjusted hours for K-12 schools? How about increased funding for health care, including mental health, and all manner of sleep disorders? How about increasing green spaces so everyone can easily and safely access sunlight throughout the year? I could go on.

Let’s not forget we tried this experiment already. The last time we tried to have “more daylight all year round” we learned that having children waiting for school buses in the dark of night was… not a great look.

I hope the House will slow this roll. I do think the clock changing nonsense needs to go. I would love to see thoughtful debate, informed by science, guide our collective decision on what to do about time. This time.

%d bloggers like this: