Every year there’s a day in September when I think Autumn blows in. I think that’s today. The wind is picking up and all of a sudden there are thousands of little yellow leaves on the ground. Even though it’s a hot humid day today, you can tell there’s a change. Not particularly pretty, but I love following the seasons.
In July I was privileged to tour Medellín’s Moravia neighborhood, constructed over a city dump. The original residents were garbage pickers, & some of them still live there. The dump itself has been built up into a grassy park with flower plantings, a large greenhouse (for flowers only, as the soil is too toxic to […]
And it’s another 9-11, the 18th year after the attacks. And I thought I was “over” feeling sad, terrified, angry, sad… but of course not. This was a day that changed America I think.
During all this, it seems reaching out to others with love and kindness was the way to healing.
If you can watch this video without tears, don’t tell me, because I won’t believe you are human.
The still images capture the shock, terror, grief of the day. The music is by Disturbed. Warning: some disturbing images.
Spread love and kindness and compassion, dear readers. I do believe only we, with effort, love, compassion and learning–can save each other.
From five years ago, during the first week back to school, when I taught high school English:
This is a vulnerable time in school. Just getting to know the kids. Some are openly sad. Some are tense and silent. Some are exuberant and happy teens– some with confidence and lots of humor.
Many are vulnerable. They are testing. They are revealing bits. Dropping hints.
I’ve tried to remember not to judge a kid by outward appearances. Arms folded. Lack of eye contact. An angry look. A large young male student. Wait. Wait. He’s older. Three years older. He needs only this class to graduate. He’s embarrassed to be older. A smile today. I get it. I get it I told him. They are kids and you are legally an adult. Be their big brother. Just do the work. Let’s get you graduated.
A smile today.
A vulnerable time. Tender sensibilities. Oh I hope I don’t blow it, kids. You are precious.
And now, five years later, I realize that all the weeks, all the days are vulnerable ones in school. May we educators always remember that, and treat our students as the precious persons they are.
Line breaks, wording, so much work needed. A much longer poem, but I don’t want to post complete poems here. And they are MISSING GIRLS, which is important. And missing small ones… hmm.. Lots to consider.
Middle of the night
umbrella shaped shadows.
Soft light of night
I’d hoped would help
find the lost (missing?)
(??find the missing
** Word Press doesn’t like to format poetry, it seems.
I’m playing with language, tone, line breaks, meaning. (I don’t want to post a complete poem here, since I will submit for publication.)
Publications, Laura Lee
Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included online and in print books and magazines published in the UK, Greece, India, New Zealand, and the United States. Many thanks to the staff at these publications.
“Devastation,” a poem, August 2019, in Headline Poetry.
“Havishammed +1,” a poem, August 2019, online and in print edition available through amazon.com and at High Shelf Press.
“Where You Are Not,” a poem, June 2019, Esthetic Apostle, here.
“Swamp Pearls,” a poem, May 2019, in Prometheus Dreaming, here.
“Not Sleep,” a poem, in Cagibi: A Literary Space, April 2019, here: Cagibi.
“The Professor and the Gravel,” a poem, 2019, at Wingless Dreamer.
“Saltwater Faces,” an ekphrastic poem inspired by paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, High Shelf Press, 2018, here.
“Click,” “The Night is our First Language,” and “They Left the Bed,” poetry published in The Poetic Bond VIII print issue, December 2018. Available at Poetic Bond VIII.
“Moving Gravel” a short story at Crack the Spine – Themed Anthology Submissions, “Routine”, print edition, 2018. Available at Crack the Spine Anthology.
“Walk with Child,” a poem, in Snapdragon Journal, September 2018, “Here and Gone” theme, here.
Coffin Bell Journal,2018, “Herstory,” a poem, October 2018. here.
Spillwords Press, “Stopped,” a poem, 2018, here.
Tuck Magazine, June 2018, “Teach to Kill” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/06/06/poetry-1528/.
Tuck Magazine, May 2018, “Refuge,” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/05/29/poetry-1511/.
Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21), “Hell, No,” a poem at JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President.
Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20), “Moonlit Awakening,” JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Journal of Modern Poetry 18 (Volume 18), The Official Poets Guide to Peace, two poems: “Open” and “After Poetry Class.” 2015. Purchase here.
Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17), JOMP Volume 17.
Cram Volume 12: “White Board Clown,” 2011. Chicago Poetry Press 2011.
Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher, nonfiction and poetry. Raewyn Alexander NZ.
Fiction in: http://staxtes.com/2003/ “Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays
Poetry in: https://poetsagainstthewar.org/ archives.
Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction article about teaching in an alternative education program.
Poetry in Marginalia, Elmhurst, IL.
It’s so time consuming with medicines and visits and the day to day physical needs that I sometimes “forget” she is dying, and sooner rather than later. Sister’s TV/ cable turned off for nonpayment. She lives in a basement apartment and we TRIED a TV with every kind of antenna possible. No channels. Cable is needed.
Since she cannot read due to vision issues and is living alone (that’s another issue), I thought of the cable TV as a comfort issue and paid for it to be turned back on. She cannot use the internet anymore due to cognitive issues, but she can listen to TV shows and she has followed some for a long time.
I understand all the arguments against TV, but in her case, it is a comfort.
As I was speaking to the person at the BIG nasty cable company, I just broke down crying, after they kept asking me for information I didn’t have. I just want to pay the bill for my sister who is passing too soon, I told them. I just want her to have some human voices and some old friends with her.
And a young lady who told me she was in India right then but that would it be okay if she prayed for my family and put the payment through ASAP? And I was crying again. She was kind, said let’s forget the cable company for a moment, and woman to woman, she told me how sorry she was and that she would pray for us.
And then we both hung up. And my grief about all this just poured over me and I cried and cried.
Because I cannot take away her pain. Or her multiple terminal diagnoses. And since I have been injured, I am limited in even visiting her–I have to get a ride and then help myself to get into her apt, down those awful stairs.
I guess I am saying that the grief doesn’t start at the time of death and that we can help each other in small ways. Just that lady in India who took my payment but took the time to say she would pray for us? Her kindness was much appreciated.
Wishing you all gentle kindnesses.
(Photo from the creative commons. And this is what our first TV was like so long ago.)
My Humble and Not So Scientific HSP/ Trauma Raised Declaration (I’d say Manifesto, but this term has taken on a nasty connotation)
Those who feel they know all about me are wrong. There are many issues, many memories not spoken about to anyone. And that’s okay, since it’s not my duty to do so. Freedom of speech, I believe, also means freedom to not to have to share a traumatic past.
The research findings that trauma can change your genes has impacted me greatly. Things I cannot write about even yet–I know they have changed me at the most basic level. Period. I don’t want to hear that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Save that platitude. Sometimes that which doesn’t kill you changes you in profound, basic, even cellular ways depending on the person you are. I don’t talk about a lot of things because people tend to judge–oh, just get over it. Aren’t you over that by now? It didn’t kill you; you must be stronger.
No. Not me. Take a very HSP (highly sensitive) kid to start with and add decades of certain things and no. No, those didn’t make me stronger.
They did help make me more compassionate for I know I was deemed smart, competent, friendly but shy during these years. How wrong they were, but how well I acted. I know that others can be suffering greatly and appear all good.
They did help me realize how complicated life can be, how many issues people face, and without adequate resources and guidance, people can make unwise and unhealthy choices.
I don’t want to hear that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Don’t go there with me.
This is my declaration: let people heal and deal as best fits them. Don’t belittle or dismiss. Don’t be disdainful or snarky. Or sarcastic. Choose kindness. You don’t know what others might be going through, for no one knew what I was going through–I was and remain a terrific actress.
That which doesn’t kill you can change you on a basic level, I believe.
I don’t want judgments about this, I don’t want platitudes or pity or a pat on the back.
And when I wish to, if I ever wish to, I will write about it. It will help me with deep rich and dark topics to write about–when and if I choose to write directly about them. I am a poet and fiction writer, and my past traumas do very much inform my writing, so I am already “telling my story” in my own way.
One last thing. That which does not kill you can sometimes help you see great preciousness in love, which I’ve found to be the great helper of healing. And nature. And beauty. And literacy. And learning. And a profession.
Those who feel they know all about me are wrong. There are many issues, many memories not spoken about to anyone. And that’s okay, since it’s not my duty to do so.
Found from an old site, part of a 30 poems in 30 days challenge. This is from ten years ago.
Just a few snippets from that time ten years ago, since I am submitting a revised/ edited full version for publication and don’t want to have this considered published.
i did not rush, hot, now.
i forgot how.
i forgot poetry would end
coffee at midnight, phone calls
in the middle of the night
would all end
i did not rush, hot, now.
i forgot how.