Unravelling and weaving, sometimes simultaneously

Toothache

You see them everywhere

and nowhere

the insanity of hope and horror

stirring your denial

just another moment

They are never close

yet ever present

glimpsed at edges

slippery images

slick as glass knives

steady as clockwork

Until one day

you are pained to realize

you haven’t seen them

in a while

and the absence of pain

like a long-pulled tooth

aches again

but not in the sharp and bleeding way

of recent injury

not in the throbbing despair of something

that surrounds with no escape

not in your tightly clenched jaw at all

but somewhere

behind your ribs

a heart-home for all your missing teeth

where instead of shifting ephemera

teasing at your periphery

they grind and gnash silently

slick as glass knives

steady as clockwork

(c) RCGA 10-01-20

A young man, only 43, ravaged by cancer, yet triumphant in his calling. May he rest in power, rise in glory, and his name be spoken forever. Chadwick Boseman (1976-2020).

A Litany of Atlanta
W. E. Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963)
Done at Atlanta, in the Day of Death, 1906

O SILENT GOD, Thou whose voice afar in mist and mystery hath left our ears an-hungered in these fearful days—
Hear us, good Lord!

Listen to us, Thy children: our faces dark with doubt are made a mockery in Thy sanctuary. With uplifted hands we front Thy heaven, O God, crying:
We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!

We are not better than our fellows, Lord, we are but weak and human men. When our devils do deviltry, curse Thou the doer and the deed: curse them as we curse them, do to them all and more than ever they have done to innocence and weakness, to womanhood and home.
Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners!

And yet whose is the deeper guilt? Who made these devils? Who nursed them in crime and fed them on injustice? Who ravished and debauched their mothers and their grandmothers? Who bought and sold their crime, and waxed fat and rich on public iniquity?
Thou knowest, good God!

Is this Thy justice, O Father, that guile be easier than innocence, and the innocent crucified for the guilt of the untouched guilty?
Justice, O judge of men!

Wherefore do we pray? Is not the God of the fathers dead? Have not seers seen in Heaven’s halls Thine hearsed and lifeless form stark amidst the black and rolling smoke of sin; where all along bow bitter forms of endless dead?
Awake, Thou that sleepest!

Thou art not dead, but flown afar, up hills of endless light, thru blazing corridors of suns, where worlds do swing of good and gentle men, of women strong and free—far from the cozenage, black hypocrisy and chaste prostitution of this shameful speck of dust!
Turn again, O Lord, leave us not to perish in our sin!

From lust of body and lust of blood
Great God, deliver us!

From lust of power and lust of gold,
Great God, deliver us!

From the leagued lying of despot and of brute,
Great God, deliver us!

A city lay in travail, God our Lord, and from her loins sprang twin Murder and Black Hate. Red was the midnight; clang, crack and cry of death and fury filled the air and trembled underneath the stars when church spires pointed silently to Thee. And all this was to sate the greed of greedy men who hide behind the veil of vengeance!
Bend us Thine ear, O Lord!

In the pale, still morning we looked upon the deed. We stopped our ears and held our leaping hands, but they—did they not wag their heads and leer and cry with bloody jaws: Cease from Crime! The word was mockery, for thus they train a hundred crimes while we do cure one.
Turn again our captivity, O Lord!

Behold this maimed and broken thing; dear God, it was an humble black man who toiled and sweat to save a bit from the pittance paid him. They told him: Work and Rise. He worked. Did this man sin? Nay, but some one told how some one said another did—one whom he had never seen nor known. Yet for that man’s crime this man lieth maimed and murdered, his wife naked to shame, his children, to poverty and evil.
Hear us, O Heavenly Father!

Doth not this justice of hell stink in Thy nostrils, O God? How long shall the mounting flood of innocent blood roar in Thine ears and pound in our hearts for vengeance? Pile the pale frenzy of blood-crazed brutes who do such deeds high on Thine altar, Jehovah Jireh, and burn it in hell forever and forever!
Forgive us, good Lord; we know not what we say!

Bewildered we are, and passion-tost, mad with the madness of a mobbed and mocked and murdered people; straining at the armposts of Thy Throne, we raise our shackled hands and charge Thee, God, by the bones of our stolen fathers, by the tears of our dead mothers, by the very blood of Thy crucified Christ: What meaneth this? Tell us the Plan; give us the Sign!
Keep not thou silence, O God!

Sit no longer blind, Lord God, deaf to our prayer and dumb to our dumb suffering. Surely Thou too art not white, O Lord, a pale, bloodless, heartless thing?
Ah! Christ of all the Pities!

Forgive the thought! Forgive these wild, blasphemous words. Thou art still the God of our black fathers, and in Thy soul’s soul sit some soft darkenings of the evening, some shadowings of the velvet night.

But whisper—speak—call, great God, for Thy silence is white terror to our hearts! The way, O God, show us the way and point us the path.

Whither? North is greed and South is blood; within, the coward, and without, the liar. Whither? To death?
Amen! Welcome dark sleep!

Whither? To life? But not this life, dear God, not this. Let the cup pass from us, tempt us not beyond our strength, for there is that clamoring and clawing within, to whose voice we would not listen, yet shudder lest we must, and it is red, Ah! God! It is a red and awful shape.
Selah!

In yonder East trembles a star.
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord!

Thy will, O Lord, be done!
Kyrie Eleison!

Lord, we have done these pleading, wavering words.
We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!

We bow our heads and hearken soft to the sobbing of women and little children.
We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!

Our voices sink in silence and in night.
Hear us, good Lord!

In night, O God of a godless land!
Amen!

In silence, O Silent God.
Selah!

Complicated

Another blast from the summer of 2015. There’s something fey about my spotty memory. Everything is a gentle mess in my mind, the pain like rolling over on a book in bed, the happiness like an elusive scent or flavor. Details are lost, names forgotten. It’s watercolor, gloaming shadows. Like a water lily, I float along on the surface of it, trying to avoid getting tangled in the outstretched roots and snags. Moving on, but not really going anywhere.

The Mystic Fool

So we talk about it
like adults:

the thing that makes us
feel as though
we are nothing like
mature

and there’s wistfulness
in the ragged hormones

because we both know
for sure
that no matter what
we’d like to do
in some wildly inappropriate
looking glass world

we are on this side
of the mirror

and we can see behind us
the shapes of all the reasons
we acknowledge
like grown-ups
in our reflections

all the reasons
why our friendship
is ultimately
more important
than the risk
of losing it

in the flash heat
of attraction
that would be hot enough
to melt the glass
scorch the earth
and take down everything
we’ve built up
in an effort
to do the right thing
for everyone…

It’s complicated.

So I tell you
it’s too late
for there not to be feelings
but that I
am responsible
for the feelings I…

View original post 60 more words

They say you know you are getting old
when you see your parents in yourself,
typically their grey or posture,
sometimes their foolishness.

I really thought for a moment
we could work,
and that was a joke on me,
the fading belle whose suitors in her mind
are all green and tall as new corn,
instead of the gathered bundle of husks
they’ve truly become.

Just don’t laugh at me;
let me be the one to do that

please

let me realize and cope with it
in quiet horror,

the kindness of your allowing me
a bit of harmless dreaming
before the long sleep.

I have never felt my age,
or cared about it much

until now

when youth is a currency
I no longer deal in,
and there is no barter for it
you can accept…

for you have an embarrassment of riches
that should be shared with someone equally wealthy,

not spent,
not bankrupt
like me.

I am not going to try,
like Alice,
to believe impossible things
before I have my coffee,

and you should probably go
while the Hatter is still passing the tea cakes,
and I can pretend to laugh
while I weep with the dormouse,
and watch you walk away.

… found in an old file from 2015 (c) RCGA

The Choice (Haiku)

When in a dark room,

our choice is to close our eyes,

or light a candle.

(c) RCGA, 2020

The Sentencing

Sometimes you write something in a hurry, and it needs editing, and maybe expansion or reworking, but the dirty baby that it is still deserves a viewing and a clean diaper, so here it is. I don’t expect it to be loved by everyone; but then again, nothing ever is, really. Love is wonderful, if you can get it, but equity, even when it has to be frogwalked into being, means you have self-respect and boundaries that may have taken the contributions of a thousand ancestors to achieve. I don’t care if you love me. But treat me as your equal, or acknowledge your time is over.

************************************************************************

In your desire to take the natives from their native place,

full knowing you will always judge the difference of their face,

in your determination to make them look just like you,

but not too much, you know, enough, to pass in your purview,

to dress them up and force them to their knees in bullied piety…

well, that might seem okay to you, but it’s not right to me.

When you moved in and took the land from people who would share,

you only knew of ownership and dominance, despair;

where you came from you were the very bottom of the pole,

and so you raped and pillaged, and you lied, and killed, and stole,

until you had your subjugated tribes called civilized,

and all the opportunity to lord them that you prized.

But that was not enough, because you had a bigger goal:

a large ambition that would only be fueled with a toll

paid with the blood of others, taken from their native place,

full knowing you will always judge the difference of their face.

When finally by civil war and discord you were forced to set them free

you still did not see equals, and that isn’t right to me.

You kept pushing, you kept pushing, so you wouldn’t have to see

any sign of happiness or growth, or plain humanity

to reservations in the places that were least interesting to you

in backwaters and shotgun shacks and barren deserts, too;

you fought their education, their employment, who they wed,

you said that the only good ones were the ones that were dead.

You went back on each treaty, each agreement that you wrought

because you didn’t have respect for people that you’d bought

or people that you’d treated like the offal on your shoe

for generations acting towards them as if they’d wronged you.

You thought they had no freedom in a land you gained for free,

and the wrong of that is still wrong, it sure isn’t right to me.

You blocked their votes with Jim Crow and with gerrymandering,

you put a sign for you alone on, face it, everything

redlining cities, backs of buses, back doors, separate schools,

you wouldn’t even share your water, like a bunch of fools,

and even when you murdered them, or made them disappear,

you never made them go away. Look around you, they’re still here.

It’s time for you to face the fact that when you build a state

on the backs of people forced to linger in the third estate,

one day you will wake up and you won’t recognize the place,

full knowing you will always judge the difference of their face,

yet still you will at last pay due to all the debts unpaid;

responsibility is yours, and balance will be weighed.

© RCGA 2020

Floor Veteran

Some days it’s been long enough
that I forget what it was like
to work as a busy nurse on a full unit,
where everyone is
dipping and diving around each other,
lifting and pulling,
up to the elbows in excrement
and then up to the elbows in a scrubbing sink,
flushing, flushing, flushing,
with toilets, with syringes, with hoppers.
Battling the clock,
a dozen conflicting agendas.
and the full bladders of self and others.
Being kindly dominant to a variety of strangers
to get them to eat, or not eat,
to swallow pills, to roll over,
to take a deep breath,
to take one more step and pivot.
Struggling to get someone into support stockings,
or out of them.
Struggling to advocate
without seeming insubordinate.
Calling the pharmacy.
Calling the lab.
Calling the doctor.
Calling families to come back, because…
it’s time.
Time for the surgery,
time for the baby,
time for the transplant,
time… to let go.
I forget, and yet I never will.
I look at them now and I feel a pull,
as if I am going to drag on
those rubber-soled shoes
and a fresh set of scrubs or a uniform,
that I’m going to clock in
with a piece of toast hanging from my mouth
and rush to the report room,
where the fairy tale of my next few hours
will spiel from a recorder
or someone’s tired lips,
telling me what my quest will be
while I hope I have the energy
to help my team win today.

(c) RCGA, 2020

Nurse’s hat and stethoscope.

Ruach

Again and again,

we hear our brothers and sisters cry:

“I can’t breathe”.

Why aren’t we providing

the air they need?

Why are we denying them

dignity, equity… life?

(c) RCGA, 2020

Parallel Universes

Sometimes I dream of

alternate realities

where my children lived.

I imagine them

growing up with families

of their own out there,

and maybe some people

that I knew and still love here

are having more days.

This middle world place

is a strange reality;

but it’s what I’ve got

except at night when

all those parallel places

send me a postcard.

RCGA © 2020

Quadrille for Quarantine

I suppose I must have been hacked; it took me a while to get back in here! But, after a year (and what a year it has been) I am wandering around in here shaking the dust off.

Quadrille for a Quarantine

(Quadrille: Groups of four riders taking part in a tournament or carousel, distinguished by a special costume or colors. Also, a square dance where each group has a distinct set of figures)

 

There is a blended certitude in the mornings,

undistinguished by an actual day’s activities,

but solid in the continuance of sunrise, at least,

even when obscured by heavy clouds.

 

It seems some of these mornings,

there is nothing to wake for,

nothing to tempt me from the billows,

or another cup of tea.

 

Yet on the lawn I see the quadrilles,

shadow prancing amongst the clover heads,

pixilated pixies on the edge of my imagination,

tiny equine legs swift dancing their dressage.

 

There are the green ones, like a deep breath of cut grass,

earthy and sensual, twisting and stretching.

They are there to remind us that green will out,

that no tide of brown will overcome that shoot of gladness

bursting through the clods to prove spring.

 

Then there are the blue ones, the firmament embodied,

light footed, graceful, endless in our vision.

They are the harbingers of faith, of things unseen,

just past edges of horizon we can strain to see and fail,

but straining, still know that there’s something there.

 

And finally the red ones, deep and solemn in their scarlets,

step step sliding in a circulating waltz that seems to shepherd,

to hold the whole together in a sanguine tide of order.

In the carmine we feel our blood move and sing,

speaking of ancestors, family, descendants, life’s chain.

 

I can put down my robe, and my empty mug,

and find my way out into the uncut grass to join them,

even if they are only reflections of more hopeful mornings

when we are in the after, and the quadrilles will fade.

 

Because it is morning, and mornings have continuance,

the sun comes up daily, even when the rain obscures it;

I am certain of few things right now, separated and alone,

but I am checking the lawn for quadrilles anyway.

 

(c) RCGA 2020

 

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