For Tigray, November 2020

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered air strikes and a ground offensive on Nov. 4 against Tigray’s local rulers for defying his authority. On Nov. 15, the air force bombed the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, killing hundreds.

 

Beloved child

Of the streets

Who has no home

To shelter in

No food to fill

Your soul

Or belly

I open wide

My heart

To you

To every child

Of the streets

So many     so many

Hungry

Abandoned     alone

I speak of

Tigray     Ethiopia

But in truth

Tigray is everywhere

On Earth

Where a child suffers

Are there different degrees

Of suffering

Different ways to suffer

It matters not

Suffering is suffering

How do we let this

Be

 

Roast Chicken (2008)

A roasted chicken

Comes out of the oven

Needing to be deboned

Skin removed     grease

Poured out of the roaster

Into an empty soup can

From the freezer

Waiting to be filled

 

This job surrounds

More than an hour

Of my afternoon

Leaves a mess

Reminds me of the president

The pile of disasters

Created by him

And his administration

As bones lie splayed

On the bottom of the roaster

Greasy skin

Against the sides

 

Afterwards

The kitchen is cleaned up

Grease can full of grease

Put back in the freezer

Chicken bones in a pot

Ready to make soup

Skin packed safely away

In a garbage pail

And the meat

Cut into pieces

For chicken salad

Order is restored

Again

 

Now

Time to clean up

The real mess

I want to vacuum

The White House

Sweep its occupants

Out the door

Hose down the Congress

Scrub the Pentagon

With soapy water

And gallons of disinfectant

Fumigate

The Department of Justice

The FBI     the CIA

Harder

Much harder

Than roasting a

Chicken

 

*Wendy crafted this poem after President Barak Obama was elected in 2008. It was first published in her 2014 collection, Reflections. I publish it today, November 8, 2020, one day after Joe Biden was declared President Elect, with a sense of hope that perhaps decency, compassion, intelligence, and sanity may return to our country, our hearts, and our homes. —Dina McQueen, blog manager

Still …

“It was the best of times

It was the worst of times”

Words Charles Dickens wrote

To begin

“A Tale of Two Cities”

It is the worst of times

In the multitude of cities

That fill the map of the

United States of America

A pandemic clogs the

Arteries

Of our country’s life

Even the word     pandemic

Brings feelings of panic

Disbelief

An avalanche

Sweeping swiftly

In and through

Every corner of our

Existence

To leave some of us

Still standing

Lives of too many

Others

Snuffed out

 

Oh my children

Never would I have

Imagined

Your world turned so

Completely

Against itself

It is difficult

So difficult

To accept the reality

Of this turmoil

 

Still—in its midst

I hear the mourning dove

Calling     calling

Still—I watch the phoebe bird

Erratically flit here     there

Catching bugs on the

Wing

The sun rises after every

Dawn

Casts a muted glow

Against my closed window

Shutters

And every late afternoon

Still—I am aware

Of a slow darkening

Sky

The Natural World

Follows its own path

 

Oh my children

Listen only to those

Who speak Truth

Follow the Light

Of your own inner

Guidance

And know with certainty

You will remain safe

And

Never led astray

 

Riot (1968)

 

 

 

We’ll weep, Black Sister, we’ll weep together

For her whose home is dust.

Charcoaled ashes from riot weather,

A bitter wind of mistrust.

Hatred lies smoldering, pungent, and deep,

Shifting like sand.

Will she have a memory to keep

In this abounding land?

Must we, like Antigone, daughter of despair,

Live without sweet reconciliation

And beyond deeds of repair?

They’ve forgotten, those men of the law’s creation,

Whom the law should heed.

They’re not for you, Sister, so we must weep.

*from Poets are the Bravest, written 1968

Pandemic—One Poet’s Moment


In this quagmire of a virus

That spreads like quicksilver

Over the country     everywhere

Yes     even before here

The world

I would write of the sadness

Concern that borders fear

Inside me

I feel with my every breath

But words are no longer

Liquid

They wrap themselves around

Tears

That speak for them

In inarticulate language

I struggle to express

 

In these weeks of reported

Illness

Reported deaths

Numbers fall into thousands

Thousands

Beyond my ability to conceive

This is real

I pray for them

Pray for the Light of the Universe

To surround every hospital

Every blessed one that cares

For the ill

Closes the eyes of the dead

Alone     alone     alone

Their families

With the rest of us

Sequestered now

At home     at home

 

-2-

Every morning

I open the shutters

Of my bedroom windows

To look up

Into the sky

Is it clear     or covered

With clouds

Is the distant hill

Distinct     or shrouded in mist

Each day is of itself

Hour follows hour

It is as it has always

Been

 

One morning

I look     I see

A new leaf     then another

And another

On the bare branches

Of the Crepe Myrtle

It is late March

Time for new leaves

To arrive on this tree

 

And they do

For everything there is a season
And a time for every matter
Under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3.1

Truth to Tell

I Love these days

Letting go their light

Into a darkening sky

Late in an autumn’s

Afternoon

As the sun descends

Over the waiting ocean

Sends its final rays

Against the side

Of a distant hill

A canvas for many shades

Of mauve

That signal the end

Of day

 

I love the hints of

Coming night

Street lights on

House windows lit from

Within

Are there children

Around a kitchen table

Heads bent over books

Pencils in hands

Logs in a fireplace

Ready to burn away

A season’s chill

 

Then images of the many

With no place of their

Own

Nowhere to go

Push their way into my

Thoughts

Of home     of comfort

Full bellies

Stark realities of days

Growing shorter     nights longer

Colder

It is a duality of feelings

Inside me

Long in my life

Have I Loved fall’s dwindling

Days

Loved a friendly dark

Closing in

But there are two sides

To this picture

I would it were not

So

Would it were not

So

Not so

September Really?

I notice with startling

Observation

From a quick glance

Out my window

Night slowly coming in

Sky from the west

Lavender fading into darkened

Gray

This cannot be     can it?

Bright sun

Remained high in the sky

Just a minute ago     wasn’t it?

As I scooted home

My True Love

Close behind me

Both scooters very visible

Even with companionable conversation

With friends

After our meals

 

September a gentle

Month

Day and night

Live as equals

Until the Autumn Equinox

Slow as a snail     at first

Allows a darkening sky

To overcome the light

Of day

 

I am wary now

Will keep watch

Make note of when

The days fold into

Night

And know the time

Is almost here

To welcome in

October     really?

For Now

I cannot put my words

Together

It is as if they are trapped

Inside my brain

Words I need

To express my distress

Feelings of disbelief

And if I am truthful

Horror

At what is being allowed

In the unraveling of my country’s

Beingness

I cannot get the words out

Write them down

Will have to let other voices

Be heard

Other voices exclaim

The anger     bewilderment

Outrage

Like silt building up

In the pristine waters

Of a mountain stream

I will listen

Follow where they lead

Trusting it be

Into the light of reason

Again

 

For now

My hibiscus blooms large scarlet discs

Under my window

 

For now

I watch crazy flights

Of a Phoebe bird

As it snaps up insects

On the wing

Am mesmerized

By these different sized evergreens

On a hill

Above the Camino Real

Swaying as one

In the wind

 

For now

Music     laughter

Kind voices from anyone

Anywhere

Human and animal

Voices of my children

My True Love

Sounds from my own world

The only real word now

For me

Stench

It usually happened in summertime

Hot humid winds

Out of the west

Blew east

Over the city of Chicago

To the shores of Lake Michigan

Bringing with them

A stench

From the Chicago stockyards

The slaughter houses

There

 

Stench

A word from my childhood

Spoken by the adults

Around me

The words     stockyard

Slaughter house

I understood surrounded cows

Waiting to be killed

For meat

Now rationed by World War II

It had no impact on me     then

Until

A photograph in a magazine

A holding pen

With cattle crammed together

Waiting for slaughter

Made me sorrowfully aware

Of what the west winds

Signified

 

The Chicago stockyards

The slaughter houses

Long gone

But not holding pens

Slaughter houses

In other places

Cattle crammed so tightly

Together

None hardly move

 

I have stopped eating meat

 

There’s a stench

Here

An awful stench

Here

Words from a TV commentator

A congresswoman from the House of

Representatives

They face a large enclosure

Like a cage     a true

Cage

Inside     a hundred or

More

Immigrant men

Standing shoulder to shoulder

No room to sit     to lie down

To sleep

A few fortunate ones on the

Floor

They stand looking out

The TV camera

Records     their faces

Some raise their arms

Silent

Helpless

 

Seeing these immigrant

Men

Crammed together in that

Cage

I think back on my

Childhood

To the west winds

Blowing to the east

Over Chicago

On hot humid summer

Days

And remember the stench

I remember the stench

And what that stench

Means

 

I remember

Clouds …

… My ever moving art gallery

My daily weather report

It matters not where I am

In the comfort of home

A car on the freeway

Among other drivers

The slow     the speeders     motorcycles

That startle as they roar

Past

My attention is out the

Window

My eyes on the sky

 

Clouds are like people

Like everything in the natural

World

Different shapes

Colors

Different purposes of existence

Exuding an aura of diversity

Like everything alive on earth

Diversity is life

 

As a child

I imagined myself lying down

On big white puffy comforter

Clouds

But never on those forecasting

Storms

Darkly ominous blankets of solid gray

Over my head

Then rushing across the sky

Pushed by erratic winds

Still drawing my eyes upwards

Always upwards

 

Nothing has changed

Clouds     my ever moving art gallery

My daily weather report

Awake each morning

I open the shutters

Look through branches

Of the Sycamore     Crepe Myrtle tress

To find the clouds

Only to discover     now and then

The sun has risen on this day

Into a cloudless blue sky