Roses

photo 3O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,

By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!

The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem

For that sweet odour which doth in it live.

The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye

As the perfumed tincture of the roses,

Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly

When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses:

But, for their virtue only is their show,

They live unwoo’d and unrespected fade,

Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:

And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,

When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.

 

The Bard, Willie Shakespeare

 

This morning working with my roses I was reminded how much I love them.  With care and tending they give back so much.  And every now and then they prick your finger, reminding you that life is short, and full of those moments when beauty mixes with pain.

New York

photoI am always amazed when I come to the big apple.

I am here in New York, sitting on the subway and looking at the array of tired working poor heading into the city from the Bronx, Queens or Harlem, the tourists, the Wall Street guys.   My eyes vaguely take in an ad for “Bark a Box”, and I realize with a start that it’s a delivery service of goodies for dogs “tell us how big your dog’s bark is. we’ve got goodies for every dog size.”

Sitting underneath the ad there are a couple of good looking middle-aged French tourists. The woman is wearing a skirt the size of a hankie, and the man has his hand resting halfway up her thigh. The guy next to me lifts his eyes from the Wall Street Journal he is reading from time to time, to take in the brief glimpse of her underpants that she flashes at him as she crosses and recrosses her legs.

Once we get where we are going, Tribeca, we head towards a day care center that costs $4,000 a month.   We find it is a wonderful and magical place where children run around like brightly colored birds on amphetines.   We are treated to an hour of child development 101. As I drift in an out of this lengthy technical presentation, I glance at our fellow listeners; a couple of gay men, a slender black woman with a designer purse who looks like a model, and a Caroline Kennedy look alike, with a blue dress, matching blue purse, blue wellington boots and a diamond the size of a small island on her hand.   It ‘s the kind of place where parents should love to put their children, but we decide the baby is too small, and we flee before we have to pay the $100.00 registration fee.

It ‘s explained during the course of our tour that this center will make sure that your child passes the gauntlet of interviews it will have to take, in order to enter the top-rated kindergartens that surround us. Apparently it’s so competitive to get in, these children will need extensive portfolios by the time they are five. These include Jackson Pollock imitations and certificates to say that they have learned block building skills from an expert with a Phd. The principal of the school tells us that this skill guarantees potential advanced math abilities for the child in the future.

After that we walk around Soho, and stop in at Warby Parker. At one point we sit on the cobbled street surrounded by Dior, Channel and many other smaller designer stores. Fashionable people pass us. Slender older women with just the right outfits, gay men with large dogs, famous rock stars and atheletes. My daughter points one out to me, and says he has “g” status. I ask what that means, and she says “gangsta” status.

The footwear is amazing and deserves a piece all to itself. Finally we buy the baby a hat in Giggle. It’s only eighteen dollars and it makes a bold fashion statement. Our day is made complete when a crazy Russian immigrant sits next to us on a bench in Washington Square and asks me if I hate Spanish people. Needless to say, we hastily move on to buy an iced coffee, visit Duane Reede and head home.

First granddaughter

 

We all waited with our

desires and hopes

for you, hovering

like hummingbirds

savoring the

sweet nectar

from flowers,

that filled the room

with perfume.

A subtle color

made of stars that reflected

their light back at us.

 

Baby of hers

coming into the world,

a fish swimming

down the dark

furry corridor of birth.

 

Like all of us springing,

pushing our way

from the womb

that grew us.

 

Lightly stepping

Into our bodies

Like feet into

new shoes.

 

Innocent and unclaimed

as yet by the ocean

that will rock us,

and yet give us

no quarter.

 

Welcome little rose,

I smell you now

and you are so swee    Image

Portraits and Landscapes

My great friend Sandy Taylor, who started Curbstone Press with Judith Ayer Doyle, and who died a few years ago, was a tremendous mentor and friend, and his poetry is like the ledge of a steep mountain that I have always aspired to climb to, but have still not made it.

When asked by Jessica Powers in her article Justice, Love, Death and Literature, published in the summer of 2006, why he started Curbstone Press, Sandy said:

“It was a way to contribute to the awareness of poetry. I think we began with poetry because that was the tough road. With the magazines, we tried to pair up new poets with established poets to present them in a context that was warm. We’d publish new poets with e.e. cummings, for example. We published a lot of people who later became famous, such as Bukowski.

But Judy and I were both involved in human rights organizations and solidarity movements and anti-racist movements. Much of the works we published actually grew out of our contacts with the people in these movements. For example, I met Claribel Alegría on a bus in Managua because I was down there in support of the Sandinista regime and reading poetry to the police, army, and coffee workers.”

 

Sandy’s poetry always hit a nerve whether it was personal or political. The url link below is a link to a podocast, so you can hear him reading his own poetry, and get more of a flavor of who this extraordinary human being was. http://minicasts.podomatic.com/play/4887985/7021997#.U1FTIevu01I.email

 

Reagan=Charles

At the news of the President’s death,

I did not recall, like the others

his optimism, his jokes, but

flashed once again on the ruins

of the health center in Matagalpa,

remembered walking over the charred ground,

the air heavy with the smell of ashes,

and recalled the funeral of the Argentinian doctor

and the Dutch nurse, who were pulled from the bus

by Reagan’s contras and shot there in the road

without an ounce of mercy, and the somber funeral,

Ernesto’s sad face under his beret

and Sergio’s tall form like a dignified statue,

and the young president, Daniel, expressing his grief

for the slaughter of these innocents—that

was a funeral I will never forget –

I can still feel its scar on my aging heart.

 

So although I know it’s not

polite to say so, there’s no grief

in my heart for this dead killer.

what grieves me is how little we care

for the thin children playing

in the dusty streets of Estali

of Managua, not such a wonderful spot

after all under the heel

of the Colossus of the North

 

Who I really miss

Is Ray Charles, who though blind

Could rock and sign and see,

 

Who traveled to his many places in the world

With messages of peace and joy

Like a bright warming flame

And who never killed anyone at all.

 

 

 

Turkey

Portraits and Landscapes

 

Turkey

 

Ancient thresher

beside a piebald collie

asleep in the stubble.

 

A woman in brown Turcoman pants

picks tomatoes.

Hazelnuts drop silently to the ground.

Pinesand poplars flash by

interspersed with small white cottages,

tile roofs reefed in smoke.

 

The quiet melancholy of autumn

is already here,

resting on corn stalks

and sailing mist-like through these valleys.

 

 

Women like shadows

glide across doorways,

hands caught at their throats,

eyes as obdurate as stone.

Slide28Slide31Slide29Slide04

Portraits and Landscapes

Portraits and Landscapes

 

As I reflect back now that my second daughter Ali is pregnant with our first grandchild, a girl, I remember when my first daughter Sarah was born.   Sarah came into the world after two days of labor.  My water broke, but she resolutely refused to emerge from the womb; in fact I was threatened with a Caesarian after about forty eight hours of labor.  I remember feeling her little feet pushing into my diaphragm, and taking both of them in my hands, and literally pushing her out, despite her reluctance.

 

I think this was a foreshadow of the person she is today.  While she grasps at her life with both hands and lives it to the fullest, she is also stubborn and her own person, and has never wanted to do things on other people’s time line!

 

I remember thinking once I got to know both my daughters that they were the most beautiful and complex beings I had ever met.   I soon learned that my first daughter was internally driven and my second externally.  They would both lie quietly in my arms when they were first born, occasionally moving their lips with eyelashes fluttering, dreaming about this or that, and I would marvel at the blue tint of the skin that covered their eyes and their tiny seashell nails. 

 

How could those two sleeping babies possibly have prepared me for the amazing women they have now become?

 

Nausset Cliffs

 

We parked in front of a sandpile,

and walked to visit the cottage

where milk-fed babies breath

crossed our faces

and the waves battered the walls

as we held each other tight,

to find only bits and pieces of wood,

a concrete foundation,

some basement stairs leading to nowhere.

 

White electric wiring

waved uselessly in the wind.

An old black plastic chair,

the kind you find in restaurants

where they serve cheap food,

faced out towards the sea.

 

As I listened, I heard

our children’s voices moving

through the long cliff grass.

 

 

 

The sea unthinking, steadfast has

claimed back its own,

washed away the cliff.

 

Soon the foundations of the cottage too,

will crumble and slide towards the beach.

 

Like the summer thunderstorm

that suddenly came up that day

and went far into deep purple and black,

the flotsam and jetsam of those precious memories

will stay with me always.

 

 Image

PIBLOKTO
(Artic Madness) A hysterical outburst
seen among Eskimos
mainly affecting females

She is a woman
from the far North
from a tribe known as Eskimos
her mental state is called Piblokto
otherwise known as “Artic Madness”.

When it first comes on
she dashes about her igloo
dressed in furs
screaming and destroying furnishings,
then she runs outside
into the blinding whiteness
feeling freedom
draw its cold strings across her face.

In order to experience it more deeply
she rips off her clothing,
throws chunks of ice to warn off her pursuers,
and plunges into icy, artic, water.

Feeling some sensation, at last, a tingling
against her dead winter skin.
she swims a few feet,
then crawls out staying
on hands and knees
numb and exhilarated.

She sprints back triumphantly
black hair streaming
like a battle flag in the wind,
naked across cracking flows
calling out a greeting to the reindeer
who observe silently nearby.

Safely once again in her igloo
she falls into a deep and innocent sleep,
to awaken completely recovered.

She is a woman
who wears my face
from the far north

Poets for Human Rights announces the Annual Anita McAndrews Award Poetry Contest

I am happy to report that I won this contest with the poem below:

RIPE SUMMER APPRICOT

Sirhan does your  honor

lie between a woman’s legs?

 

When you raised your magnum

to your sister’s temples

and watched

the bullet enter the soft white skin,

below the dark hairline of her forehead,

saw its damage spread like a purple bruise

across her face,

disintegrating her features into

a mass of shattered bone fragments

and crimson rose petals

did you rejoice?  Lift your fist

heavenward towards Allah, as her body

slumped sideways away from you

across the faded blue couch of your childhood,

gently lying in its innocence,

doubly betrayed.

 

Are you the same brother who played with her

when you were children?

Exchanged sticky kisses,

fought over toys and hid under the house

whispering secrets in the dark,

smiling at each other as you heard your mother’s shrill bird call

while she searched for you,

your breath brushing your sister’s forehead,

blowing the tendrils of her hair

as you inhaled the milky sweetness

of her skin, glistening like a pearl

in the light that fingered its

way down towards you,

threatening to give you away.

 

Did you forget, as you pulled the trigger

how tender and precious she was?

Like a ripe summer apricot

to be pressed delicately

against your heart.

My New Book written by JoAnn Deck …agent

My New Book written by JoAnn Deck …agent extraordinaire
 
Part Celestine Prophecy and part Proof of Heaven, the new visionary novel A Celestial Guide to Immortality by writer and professional communicator Felicity Harley is the rich read the “speculative” community has long desired. Ancient wisdom and secret truths unfold as we follow the life of Mehr (Persian for “love”) through her African, Caribbean and English upbringing to the stargates of the Middle East, from her time as a journalist contemplating the human condition to her deep explorations of healing, loss, love and future realities.

As a spiritual James Bond, the heroine Mehr shares exotic locations, schooling in England and her work as a British agent for M16 in Iran. Later as an investigate reporter, she confronts the senseless pain and savage cruelty that lead her to spread the precious wisdom of the Grail. Her role to uncover and explain the hidden knowledge of existence occurs through a new understanding of quantum mechanics that allow for parallel and holographic universes, a timely conversation for today, all spun into a compelling narrative and romantic story.

Steeped in both feminism and a lush sensuality, A Celestial Guide to Immortality is like a kaleidoscope opening up in unexpected combinations and exposing the heart of the human experience. With a flavor as alluring as The Night Circus and as shocking as The Age of Miracles, Harley’s work will excite book clubs looking for an exotic read grounded in the new language of quantum physics and the many possibilities that await us all.

 

I am wondering why I am liking Vikings more than Game of Thrones.   When it started I really loved Game of Thrones – it was intriguing.  Now I am beginning to think that there are far too many characters and it is the same old, same old.  It all seems to be becoming too medieval and too mixed up.  Rather like eating mushy porridge.   Quite frankly I am beginning not to care about who gets to sit on the Iron Throne.

On the other hand I am becoming more intrigued with Vikings and Ragnar Lothbrook (aka actor Travis Fimmel) and his wife.  For one thing it is a simpler plot to follow.  Additionally it is historically accurate so these guys and gals really existed.  I am interested in aspects of the Viking culture which allowed women to fight with men and gave them equal property rights.

On a more superficial level both the men and the women are all really good looking.  Take off  your shirts more often guys, us ladies can tell you’ve been working out!  (Unfortunately not any fabulously sculpted pectoral muscles like these to be seen on Game of Thrones)! 

And to boot, here is the legendary Ragnar Lodbrook’s (Hairy Breeches for his bearskin britches) famous death song : “It gladdens me to know that Baldr‘s father [Odin] makes ready the benches for a banquet. Soon we shall be drinking ale from the curved horns. The champion who comes into Odin’s dwelling [Valhalla] does not lament his death. I shall not enter his hall with words of fear upon my lips. The Æsirwill welcome me. Death comes without lamenting… Eager am I to depart. The Dísir summon me home, those whom Odin sends for me Valkyries from the halls of the Lord of Hosts. Gladly shall I drink ale in the high-seat with the Æsir. The days of my life are ended. I laugh as I die.” 

Oh boy and he was a hell of a poet too!