National Poetry Month picks by Lois Leveen and Mary Bowser

Today we conclude our celebration of National Poetry month and begin to turn our attention to our next book club selection, the historical novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen.  The book is based on the life of Mary Bowser, a slave freed by her owner, who would go on to be educated in Philadelphia and ultimately return to the South where she lived once again as a slave and became a Union spy (how’s that for a teaser!).

I asked Lois Leveen to share two favorite poems with us.  She shared a personal pick and a pick that Mary Bowser might make for us. Here is what Lois writes:

As for poems, in the novel, I have Mary read a wide variety of literature, in part to sneak in more (literary) history by introducing twenty-first-century readers to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century black writers. So if Mary were choosing a poem, she might go with “The Slave Auction” by Frances Watkins Harper (in my novel, she is called Frances Watkins because she did not marry and change her name until much later than the novel takes place)….

Lois L alternateI, having a broader range of poetry to choose from than my fictionalized protagonist, would likely choose ““A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon.” by Gwendolyn Brooks.  Brooks wrote many moving poems, but this one I find especially powerful, first because of how she chooses to represent the murder of Emmett Till.  Brooks imagines herself “into” the perspective of a woman with whom we might expect her to have nothing in common, and for whom we might think she would have no sympathy.  But through this imagining, Brooks is able to expose how the violent, patriarchal racism that destroys black lives has a correspondingly insidious effect on white women and white children as well.  It exposes racism as being a desire for absolute power, a desire that will devastate even what it claims to love.

Well, happy National Poetry month!

 

The Slave Auction

 

frances-ellen-watkins-harper-448

The sale began—young girls were there,
   Defenseless in their wretchedness,
Whose stifled sobs of deep despair
   Revealed their anguish and distress.

 

And mothers stood, with streaming eyes,
   And saw their dearest children sold;
Unheeded rose their bitter cries,
   While tyrants bartered them for gold.

 

And woman, with her love and truth—
   For these in sable forms may dwell—
Gazed on the husband of her youth,
   With anguish none may paint or tell.

 

And men, whose sole crime was their hue,
   The impress of their Maker’s hand,
And frail and shrinking children too,
   Were gathered in that mournful band.

 

Ye who have laid your loved to rest,
   And wept above their lifeless clay,
Know not the anguish of that breast,
   Whose loved are rudely torn away.

 

Ye may not know how desolate
   Are bosoms rudely forced to part,
And how a dull and heavy weight
   Will press the life-drops from the heart.

 

***

 

A Bronzeville Mother Loiters In Mississippi. Meanwhile, A Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon

BY GWENDOLYN BROOKS

gwendolyn-brooks

From the first it had been like a
Ballad. It had the beat inevitable. It had the blood.
A wildness cut up, and tied in little bunches,
Like the four-line stanzas of the ballads she had never quite
understood–the ballads they had set her to, in school.

Herself: the milk-white maid, the “maid mild”
Of the ballad. Pursued
By the Dark Villain. Rescued by the Fine Prince.
The Happiness-Ever-After.
That was worth anything.
It was good to be a “maid mild.”
That made the breath go fast.

Her bacon burned. She
Hastened to hide it in the step-on can, and
Drew more strips from the meat case. The eggs and sour-milk biscuits
Did well. She set out a jar
Of her new quince preserve.

. . . But there was something about the matter of the Dark Villain.
He should have been older, perhaps.
The hacking down of a villain was more fun to think about
When his menace possessed undisputed breath, undisputed height,
And best of all, when history was cluttered
With the bones of many eaten knights and princesses.

The fun was disturbed, then all but nullified
When the Dark Villain was a blackish child
Of Fourteen, with eyes still too young to be dirty,
And a mouth too young to have lost every reminder
Of its infant softness.

That boy must have been surprised! For
These were grown-ups. Grown-ups were supposed to be wise.
And the Fine Prince–and that other–so tall, so broad, so
Grown! Perhaps the boy had never guessed
That the trouble with grown-ups was that under the magnificent shell of adulthood, just under,
Waited the baby full of tantrums.
It occurred to her that there may have been something
Ridiculous to the picture of the Fine Prince
Rushing (rich with the breadth and height and
Mature solidness whose lack, in the Dark Villain, was impressing her,
Confronting her more and more as this first day after the trial
And acquittal (wore on) rushing
With his heavy companion to hack down (unhorsed)
That little foe. So much had happened, she could not remember now what that foe had done
Against her, or if anything had been done.
The breaks were everywhere. That she could think
Of no thread capable of the necessary
Sew-work.

She made the babies sit in their places at the table.
Then, before calling HIM, she hurried
To the mirror with her comb and lipstick. It was necessary
To be more beautiful than ever.
The beautiful wife.
For sometimes she fancied he looked at her as though
Measuring her. As if he considered, Had she been worth it?
Had she been worth the blood, the cramped cries, the little stirring bravado, The gradual dulling of those Negro eyes,
The sudden, overwhelming little-boyness in that barn?
Whatever she might feel or half-feel, the lipstick necessity was something apart. HE must never conclude
That she had not been worth it.

HE sat down, the Fine Prince, and
Began buttering a biscuit. HE looked at HIS hands.
More papers were in from the North, HE mumbled. More maddening headlines.
With their pepper-words, “bestiality,” and “barbarism,” and
“Shocking.”
The half-sneers HE had mastered for the trial worked across
HIS sweet and pretty face.

What HE’d like to do, HE explained, was kill them all.
The time lost. The unwanted fame.
Still, it had been fun to show those intruders
A thing or two. To show that snappy-eyed mother,
That sassy, Northern, brown-black–

Nothing could stop Mississippi.
HE knew that. Big fella
Knew that.
And, what was so good, Mississippi knew that.
They could send in their petitions, and scar
Their newspapers with bleeding headlines. Their governors
Could appeal to Washington . . .

“What I want,” the older baby said, “is ‘lasses on my jam.”
Whereupon the younger baby
Picked up the molasses pitcher and threw
The molasses in his brother’s face. Instantly
The Fine Prince leaned across the table and slapped
The small and smiling criminal.
She did not speak. When the HAND
Came down and away, and she could look at her child,
At her baby-child,
She could think only of blood.
Surely her baby’s cheek
Had disappeared, and in its place, surely,
Hung a heaviness, a lengthening red, a red that had no end.
She shook her had. It was not true, of course.
It was not true at all. The
Child’s face was as always, the
Color of the paste in her paste-jar.

She left the table, to the tune of the children’s lamentations, which were shriller
Than ever. She
Looked out of a window. She said not a word. That
Was one of the new Somethings–
The fear,
Tying her as with iron.

Suddenly she felt his hands upon her. He had followed her
To the window. The children were whimpering now.
Such bits of tots. And she, their mother,
Could not protect them. She looked at her shoulders, still
Gripped in the claim of his hands. She tried, but could not resist the idea
That a red ooze was seeping, spreading darkly, thickly, slowly,
Over her white shoulders, her own shoulders,
And over all of Earth and Mars.

He whispered something to her, did the Fine Prince, something about love and night and intention.
She heard no hoof-beat of the horse and saw no flash of the shining steel.

He pulled her face around to meet
His, and there it was, close close,
For the first time in all the days and nights.
His mouth, wet and red,
So very, very, very red,
Closed over hers.

Then a sickness heaved within her. The courtroom Coca-Cola,
The courtroom beer and hate and sweat and drone,
Pushed like a wall against her. She wanted to bear it.
But his mouth would not go away and neither would the
Decapitated exclamation points in that Other Woman’s eyes.

She did not scream.
She stood there.
But a hatred for him burst into glorious flower,
And its perfume enclasped them–big,
Bigger than all magnolias.

The last bleak news of the ballad.
The rest of the rugged music.
The last quatrain.

***

POLITICS for the PEOPLE

BOOK CLUB CONFERENCE CALL

With Author Lois Leveen

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

SUNDAY, June 3rd @ 7 PM EST

***

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Privilege by Gwen Mandell

Gwen Mandell, the Director of National Outreach at Independent Voting shares a poem she wrote this past winter.

20170318_conf_056

Privilege

The rhythm of the New York city streets pervades the mind
Entranced by the steps – walking, walking – 400 calories, 5 miles,
How many steps can I attain?
Can I  conquer the battle of the bulge?
It’s a percentage game.
Let the walking do the magic.
It’s a moment of freedom.
Thoughts becoming clear,
a vision of life  presenting itself, as the steps turn to miles.
The music adds clarity.
I let the lyrics project outward,
even though perhaps only for my own entertainment.
Relaxation abounds,
though the experience gives me a sense of my connectedness.
Am I a leader
or simply a participant
in something  much bigger than I can imagine?

Happening upon 44th and 8th,
I’m sidetracked by the privilege to be in my head
as I tug the Iphone from my sidepocket
and reach for the reading glasses
which allow me to see the screen.
A 5 dollar bill escapes from my pocket.
Sailing in the wind,
it makes it’s way to the ground
in the heart of a crowded street
where dozens of homeless people have carved their territory.

I hadn’t really made note of how many there were
until 4 black hands immediately moved to swipe the bill
that was now lodged “safely” under my foot.

Engrained with a competitive spirit, my instinct sets in
I move with purpose to claim the $5 bill that’s “rightfully mine,”
conveniently overlooking the poverty
that drives the pursuit to claim the bill.
In the cold,
worn hands grab at the bill,
as if  the $5 could transform a life of desperation.

“That’s my bill,” a voice says convincingly.
I’m almost convinced myself,
even though I know it’s fallen from my pocket.

A brawl breaks out,
those running to claim the bill
and other homeless people coming to my aid.
A young man, maybe 30, fire in his eyes,
throws a punch at the man who claims the $5 bill is his.
As the tension escalates,
it occurs to me that we are fighting over $5,
chump change to me –
a meal to those who are fighting for it.
It occurs to me that the man who is fighting for me
who threw a punch in support of this white woman
that he’s never seen before
is as desperate as the guy he’s fighting,
as homeless as the other.
The humanity of his act touches me.
I put my hand on him and thank him
and urge him to back off from a fight
that would deepen a bad situation.
The $5, which was gone
the moment my foot made contact,
hopefully contributes to a small meal.

***

We will conclude our celebration of National Poetry Month on Monday.  Next up, the historical novel, 

The Secrets of Mary Bowser.

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen 

Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

Jeff Aron and Jessica Marta bring us poems by Denise Levertov and Carolyn Forché

National Poetry Month

Politics for the People Book Club member Jeff Aron share a poem by Denise Levertov with us today:

There are so many wonderful poems to share with friends. I think the book club might respond to the sensibility of this one. Denise Levertov was one of the poets I read as I “came of age” in the the 60’s. One of the ongoing struggles for artists is how to (or even whether to) create and remain relevant in a world in which there is poverty, racism, war and all manner of oppression. It is an on-going question which my dearest friends and comrades have been answering with varying degrees of success for many years. I love and admire them all.  —-Jeff Aron

 

MAKING PEACE

By Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets

of the forming crystal.

***

Our next poem was selected by Jessica Marta, who shared,

“Carolyn Forché describes her poetry as “Witnessing.” As compassionate people we can “bear witness” to attrocities of the world on a personal level.  We can “bear witness,” rather than just watch it on TV and social media. I chose this poem because of its dark and hopeless imagery and sense of hope in a seemingly hopeless world.”

THE BOATMAN

By Carolyn Forché

carolyn-forche-hires-cropped

 

We were thirty-one souls all, he said, on the gray-sick of sea
in a cold rubber boat, rising and falling in our filth.
By morning this didn’t matter, no land was in sight,
all were soaked to the bone, living and dead.
We could still float, we said, from war to war.
What lay behind us but ruins of stone piled on ruins of stone?
City called “mother of the poor” surrounded by fields
of cotton and millet, city of jewelers and cloak-makers,
with the oldest church in Christendom and the Sword of Allah.
If anyone remains there now, he assures, they would be utterly alone.
There is a hotel named for it in Rome two hundred meters
from the Piazza di Spagna, where you can have breakfast under
the portraits of film stars. There the staff cannot do enough for you.
But I am talking nonsense again, as I have since that night
we fetched a child, not ours, from the sea, drifting face-
down in a life vest, its eyes taken by fish or the birds above us.
After that, Aleppo went up in smoke, and Raqqa came under a rain
of leaflets warning everyone to go. Leave, yes, but go where?
We lived through the Americans and Russians, through Americans
again, many nights of death from the clouds, mornings surprised
to be waking from the sleep of death, still unburied and alive
but with no safe place. Leave, yes, we obey the leaflets, but go where?
To the sea to be eaten, to the shores of Europe to be caged?
To camp misery and camp remain here. I ask you then, where?
You tell me you are a poet. If so, our destination is the same.
I find myself now the boatman, driving a taxi at the end of the world.
I will see that you arrive safely, my friend, I will get you there.

 

***

We will conclude our celebration of National Poetry Month on Monday.  Next up, the historical novel, 

The Secrets of Mary Bowser.

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen 

Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

Dr. Jessie Fields brings us Tracy K. Smith

Dr. Fields shares a trio of poems by Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the United States.

Jessie writes:
I found the poetry of Tracy K. Smith to be deeply powerful, giving voice to those who also speak through our next book selection, The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen.

tracy-k-smith-hires-cropped

Her latest collection is, Wade in the Water which is immersed in American history and that of African Americans in the Civil War.

She was recently featured in a New York Times Magazine article by Ruth Franklin, who says of the poet, “She also channels the past in “erasure poems,” a technique in which a poet chooses a text and strategically deletes most of it, leaving behind words that may be framed into a new work. For one, titled “Declaration,” Smith chose the Declaration of independence as her primary source.

Declaration

By Tracy K. Smith

He has

              sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people.
He has plundered our—
                                             ravaged our—
destroyed the lives of our—
taking away our—
                                   abolishing our most valuable—
 

and altering fundamentally the Forms of our—
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for

Redress in the most humble terms:

                                                                           Our repeated

Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

 

We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration

and settlement here.
                 —taken Captive

on the high Seas

to bear—

 ***

A central poem of Wade in the Water, is “I WILL TEll YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS, I WILL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT” of which Smith said,

”All I really did was listen to the letters that were out there, this Civil War correspondence between black soldiers and their families, or letters by black veterans or descendants of deceased veterans. Those voices felt so current, as though they were almost whispering from yesterday. I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything other than saying, let’s just get these voices together, and maybe somebody else will want to hear them in the same way. There’s one moment where the father of a soldier says, “I’m willing to sacrifice my son in the cause of Freedom and Humanity” – he capitalizes those nouns. I’m reading it and thinking, do we really understand: If you were enslaved, freedom and humanity are not these abstractions.”  

Here is Tracy reading an excerpt from “I WILL TELL YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS, I WILL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT”:

 

[If you cannot play the video, you can listen to it here.]
In an interview conducted by the Washington Square Review’s Interview Co-Editor Eleanor Wright, Smith discusses her poem “The United States Welcomes You” saying

Sometimes, as in the case of “The United States Welcomes You”, a persona is a last resort. In early drafts of that poem, I was struggling with the feeling that I had too much cherishing for the poem’s initial speaker, which I had imagined as a black man with his hands in the air, “arms raised, eyes wide.” So I inverted the poem, and wrote from the perspective of someone apprehending him. I think the title, which came after I’d finished the poem, enlarged the initial scope of the poem.”

The United States Welcomes You

By Tracy K. Smith

Why and by whose power were you sent?
What do you see that you may wish to steal?
Why all this dancing? Why do your dark bodies
Drink up the light? What are you demanding
That we feel? Have you stolen something? Then
What is that leaping in your chest? What is
The nature of your mission? Do you seek
To offer a confession? Have you anything to do
With others brought by us to harm? Then
Why are you afraid? And why do you invade
Our night, hands raised, eyes wide, and mute
As ghosts? Is there something you wish to confess?
Is this some enigmatic type of test? What if we
Fail? How and to whom do we address our appeal?

***

We will conclude our celebration of National Poetry Month on Monday.  Next up, the historical novel, 

The Secrets of Mary Bowser.

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen 

Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

The poetry of Joe Pickering’s Songs

As we celebrate National Poetry Month, Joe Pickering sent a trio of songs that he has written.  Joe is one of the founders of Mainers for Open Elections.

 

 

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY CRIES

[If you cannot view the video, you can see it here.]

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY CRIES

CHORUS
MORE AMERICAN  THAN  PLYMOUTH ROCK
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY CRIES  FOR NEW YORK
MILLIONS FIRST CAME ASHORE TO BE FREE
NOW NEW YORK’S JAILED IN A CLOSED PRIMARY 
 ***
VOTERS MUST CHOSE FROM THE PARTY SELECTION 
PARTY CANDIDATES FOR THE PARTY’S PROTECTION
SAVE AMERICA SENATOR SCHUMER ONCE WROTE
SAVE NEW YORK FIRST ! LET INDEPENDENTS VOTE !
***
REPEAT CHORUS
***
END THE PARTISAN PRMARY SCHUMER PROPOSED
YEARS LATER, THEIR PRIMARY REMAINS CLOSED
POLITICIANS HEED THE STATUE OF LIBERTY
ALL YEARN TO BE FREE ! HELP VOTERS VOTE FREE
 ***
REPEAT CHORUS
 ***
INDEPENDENT VOTERS  STAND AND FIGHT 
HOUND THE LEGISLATURE ‘TIL THEY VOTE RIGHT
NEW YORKERS THE STATUE CRIES FOR THEE
DRY HER TEARS DEMAND THE OPEN PRIMARY
Joe Pickering Jr.  Songwriter 
King of the Road Music  Publisher 
Roger Eydenberg Artist C 2017

 

BE A MAN

[If you cannot view the video, you can see it here.]

BE A MAN !!!

CHORUS

BE GENTLE WITH EVERY WOMAN

BE A MAN ! BE A MAN! BE A MAN !

***

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS THE WORLD’S DISGRACE

THIS MAN MADE NIGHTMARE MEN MUST FACE

FREEING OUR FEELINGS IS THE WAY TO SHARE

HELD IN THEY LEAD TO ANGER AND DESPAIR

THE WORLD SHOUTS AT LITTLE BOYS NOW DON’T YOU CRY

WHEN WE BECOME ADULTS WE LIVE THIS LIE

TOO MANY MEN ARE WALKING ON THIS EARTH DEAD TO THE FEELINGS GOD GAVE AT BIRTH

SOME DRINK OR TAKE DRUGS SOME SIMPLY CONNIVE

TIME FOR US ALL TO FEEL MORE ALIVE

TEARS MAKE THE GARDEN OF THE HEART GROW

WHEN WE FEEL DEEP DOWN LET THE TEARS FLOW

***

BE GENTLE WITH EVERY WOMAN

BE A MAN BE A MAN BE A MAN

***

TEARS ARE TO FEELINGS WHAT EYES ARE TO SIGHT

TEARS SHED DARKNESS

TEARS ARE SUNLIGHT

HOW ELSE CAN WE LEARN TO REALLY SHARE

SHARING EMOTION IS THE WAY TO CARE

REAL MEN CRY IN SADNESS AND THEIR JOYS

REAL MEN LEARN THEY’RE NO LONGER BOYS

***

BE GENTLE WITH EVERY WOMAN

BE A MAN BE A MAN BE A MAN

BE GENTLE WITH EVERY WOMAN

BE A MAN BE A MAN BE A MAN

 

Joseph H. Pickering Jr. and Christopher Paul Pickering co-song writers

King of the Road Music Music Publisher

Roger Eydenberg, Artist and Harry King, Back up Singer and Producer C 2018 .

 

AMERICA’S GAME !!

[If you cannot view the video above, you can see it here.]

America’s Game is not about any sport but about life and death in our country. It is written by Joe Pickering Jr. whose songs play internationally, in an HBD Documentary, with ffive CD’s in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Sound Collection, plus having lyrics printed in renown Harvey Frommer’s Sports books plus major newspapers . The song America’s game is fervently and powerfully sung by Harry King a multiple Platinum and Gold Record winner ! Hope you will find this song inspirational and motivating. The American People need to end this game and bring about a Greater America.

 

AMERICA’S GAME !!

GUN VIOLENCE IS AMERICA’S GAME
WE ALL LIVE THIS NATIONAL SHAME
MAY THE GREATEST NATION ON EARTH
HOLD OUR CHILDREN IN GREATER WORTH

YOU ARE AMERICA’S FUTURE PARKLAND
YOU WILL BRING ABOUT A FREER LAND
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS, DELTA AND ALL THE OTHERS
THANKS FROM ALL THE FATHERS AND THE MOTHERS

CONGRESS FEAR LIKE THOSE KIDS THAT DAY
LET GUNS IN THE CAPITOL O.K.
NO BLOOD MONEY FROM THE NRA
BAN ALL ASSAULT WEAPONS TODAY

GUN VIOLENCE IS AMERICA’S GAME
WE ALL LIVE THIS NATIONAL SHAME

THEY TRIED TO LIFT THE TOMMY GUN BAN
THE SUPREME COURT LET THE BAN STAND
WHO COMES FIRST IN THE NRA’S HEAD
kIDS, MEMBERS OR THE INDUSTRY INSTEAD ?

REAGAN SAID GUNS FOR SPORT AND HOME ARE OK.
BUT NO ASSAULT WEAPONS IN THE U.S.A
LOVING WEAPONS MORE THAN OUR KIDS
DISRESPECTS LIFE WE’RE ON THE SKIDS

OUR COUNTRY’S AWASH WITH WEAPONS OF WAR
CROSSING STATE LINES WE NEED FEDERAL LAW
LOVE JESUS THEN FOLLOW HIS WAY
WOULD JESUS OWN AN AR FIFTEEN TODAY

DON’T LIKE THE WAY THE GOVERNMENT’S RUN ?
GET INVOLVED TO CHANGE IT BUT NOT BY GUN
OR OUR ARMY WILL HAVE THE FINAL SAY
LIKE IN THE FOUNDING FATHERS’ DAY

GUN VIOLENCE IS AMERICA’S GAME
WE ALL LIVE THIS NATIONAL SHAME

THE SECOND AMENDMENT CAN’T SERVE YOU
HONOR THE LAND OF THE RED WHITE AND BLUE
CONGRESS HONOR OUR ONLY SOLUTION
YOUR OATH TO ALL OUR CONSTITUTION

HARDEN OUR SCHOOLS OPEN OUR HEARTS
GUN MADNESS TEARS OUR COUNTRY APART
GUN VIOLENCE IS NOT STUDIED IN THIS LAND
CONGRESS LIFT THAT LIFE KILLIN’ BAN

MOST MASS SHOOTERS ARE OVER TWENTY ONE
BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS PROTECT EVERYONE
REPEAL THE BAN ON GUN MAKER LAW SUITS
THOSE WHO OPPOSE GIVE THEM ALL THE BOOT

GUN VIOLENCE IS AMERICA’S GAME
WE ALL LIVE THIS NATIONAL SHAME
MAY THE GREATEST NATION ON EARTH
HOLD OUR CHILDREN IN GREATER WORTH !!

IF NEVER AGAIN EVER HAPPENS AGAIN
CONGRESS AND THE PREZ TEN YEARS IN THE PEN !!!

Joe Pickering Jr. Songwriter

Harry King Artist

King of the Road Music publisher C 2018

***

We will conclude our celebration of National Poetry Month on Monday.  Next up, the historical novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser.Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen on Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

Harry Kresky for National Poetry Month

P1100330

Harry Kresky is counsel to IndependentVoting.org and one of the country’s leading experts on nonpartisan primary reform and the legal issues facing independent voters. He is also a poet. You can read more of his poetry on his blog, poems for friends.

 

Taking Stock?

 

It’s that time of year

And that time of life.

December.

 

Time to take stock,

To sum up.

Was my life well spent?

Did I make a difference?

 

My better voices say

You don’t need to do this.

Your life has been a collective effort.

Does measurement have meaning

If you want to change the world?

 

Enya sings

“Is there a road I should follow,

A sign I should know”

She sings about getting back

The love she lost.

 

I don’t  have a lost love.

I have friends I love.

Together we have let go —

Unmoored and committed.

 

December 2017

 

Reminder:

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

The Secrets of Mary Bowser is our new Politics for the People Book Club selection. 

Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen on Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

Peter White Shares a Trio of Poems

Peter White is a long time activist in NH and a member of NH Independent Voters.

th_022Peter told me that he has been writing political poetry for a few years now and hopes “…to turn it into protest songs for the times!”

The first poem is new for P4P readers this year. You may remember the two poems that follow from last year.

 

***

INDEPENDENT VOTERS ARE HERE TO STAY!

Hello everyone we’ve come to say

Independent Voters are here to stay!

Get up off your couches and join our way

And together for our Nation we will save the day!

 

We’re sick of the baloney the two Parties feed us

While their bosses on Wall Street are stealing with no fuss!

Our government is corrupt and a real mess

It is putting our democracy to the test.

 

We the People must rise up and start to lead

To demand what is right and what we really need:

Representatives that work for us instead of corporate greed

Who refuse PAC money, have integrity, and know how to read!

 

The US Constitution is what they should know

And the Bill of Rights is what makes our Country glow.

Open primaries are needed so our movement will grow

Until the PEOPLE SHALL RULE instead of the dough!

***

BANK BAILOUT BLUES

by Peter White

Chorus: I’ve got the bank bailout blues, I’ve got the bank bailout blues, those big bad bank bailout blues, too big to fail bailout blues.

 

Step right up if you’re rich and greedy

The government will treat you like you’re needy.

If you own a big bank and want more money

The politicians will treat you right, honey!

(chorus)

If you need some health care you’ve got lots to pay

Because big pharma and insurance crooks got more say.

We need Medicare for ALL to make the system right

And We the People we got the might!

(chorus)

Obama said he would bring us change

But he and the Democrats are more of the same;

They keep waging war for Empire to help the rich

All that killing for greed is such a b b b shame!

(chorus)

Now we got Trump to lead the way

And those billionaires got even MORE say!

The Republicans are in charge of Congress now

And it’s time for We the People to give them Hell!

(chorus)

Those bailouts for Wall Street were a bunch of baloney

To say that it helped Main Street is a story that’s phony!

I’ve got the bank bailout blues and they won’t go away

Until the 99% lead the way!

(chorus)

POWER TO THE PEOPLE RIGHT ON!    (3 times)

***

WHY I OCCUPY 

Why I occupy

Let me tell you why

I am moved to really try

By a love force I cannot deny!

 

Every day I’m glad to be here

To see all the beauty and cheer

Unfortunately I can also see clear

And know that the End Game is near.

 

The Occupy movement gives me hope

That We the People will stop being a dope!

Humane change is possible if we cope

With politicians who are as slippery as soap.

 

The two Parties are a corrupt duopoly

They help the rich control their plutocracy

We cannot have a democracy

If more people are into a jockocracy!

 

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer

They get higher and mightier as we go lower.

Most elected Democrats and Republicans cower

To the ruling elite who have economic power.

 

We can teach the world to sing

In imperfect but loving harmony

With peace on earth being our symphony

Helping our neighbors in our community.

 

We each have a role to play

We have the freedom to have our say

We can live in the light and lead the way

To occupy our government and overcome some day!

 

2018 National Poetry Month Poster

I Worried

2018 National Poetry Month PosterA Poem selected for National Poetry Month by June Hirsh. Here is what June wrote about “I Worried” by Mary Oliver:

I’m new to Poetry–I love the sensibility, the ordinariness and the decency of this poem–it’s sweetness and kindness touches my heart. It gives me my humanness and an honest way to be in the world.

junehirsch soloAs a life long political activist–to be kind and forgiving–to have compassion for myself and for others–to have our lives and live our lives as giving human beings is everything.

Otherwise, the growing poverty, the pain in the world we live in, would be unbearable. Lets sing together and cry together–and together, change the world.

I Worried
by Mary Oliver

 

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

 

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

 

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

 

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

 

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up.  And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

 

 

Reminder:

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

The Secrets of Mary Bowser is our new Politics for the People Book Club selection. 

Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen on Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

 

 

The Poetry Hunt by Caroline Donnola

 

Roque Dalton, a renown poet from El Salvador (1935-1975) said in his poem titled “Like You,”  “I believe the world is beautiful and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.”  (Jessie Fields submitted the full poem for your blog a few years ago.)  It turns out that hundreds of well-known poets, and probably thousands of lesser known ones, have written 12495942_10207847865062060_3320784175264629657_opoems about poetry.  This is fascinating to me because poetry is often seen as esoteric or alien or worse.  But what would the world be like if everyone was encouraged to write and read poetry?  Why is it a valuable activity?  What is it about writing poetry that encourages philosophizing?  These are questions that interest me.  During the past year I have written several poems that explore the activity of writing poetry.  Here is one.

 

The Poetry Hunt

 

The right word,
The best word,

The heartfelt word—
We poets hunt,
And then we hunt some more.
Should it be beacon or fire?
Passionate
Amorous
Or simply desire?
And if the shoe fits,
Must we wear it?
Or should our foot be handsomely shod?
No poet is an island.
We are weaving around and about
In all the world’s history,
In a dance with every poet we ever loved.
We are part of the main.
We have Dickinson’s passion
Donne’s power
Shakespeare’s breadth
Langston’s pain
Edna’s sensuality
Roque’s love.

The right word,
The best word
The heartfelt word—

And then all the words

Get flung together, conjuring
Longing
Remembrance
Newness
Joy
Rage
Comfort
Unity
As we join together
In our quest to cherish
Each other’s poetry.
The chance to be together
In a world we’ve created
From dust and air
From history, imagination
And yes, from Words.
Writing poetry

Is like making soup—
We swish together
the basic ingredients
Then toss in a pinch of
The unknown-
Our wishes, hopes
Secrets and dreams.
And then, there it is
Like a miracle—
Words that have become a poem,
And that poem
Becomes part
Of something wonderful,

A world that is filled

With our heartfelt words

Because poetry

Is spilling out of everyone

Every day

Even on the days we forget to

Say it out loud.

 

2018 National Poetry Month Poster

Politics for the People Celebrates National Poetry Month

2018 National Poetry Month Poster

April is National Poetry Month and over the next week, we will be celebrating the role of political poetry in our lives.  Please send me your favorite political poem—and that might be a poem you have written—to be included in our celebration. [You can submit your selection to me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com.]

Today, we’ll kick off with a poem by Pablo Neruda.  I love Neruda’s work and have since I read my first Neruda poem in high school.  Recently, a friend shared “Keeping Quiet/A callarse” with me, a beautiful contemplation that I had never read.

neruda

 

Keeping Quiet / A callarse

Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fisherman in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could perhaps do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

-By Pablo Neruda

-from Full Woman, Fleshy Apple, Hot Moon
-English translation by Stephen Mitchell

 

Reminder:

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

The Secrets of Mary Bowser is our new Politics for the People Book Club selection.  Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen on Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

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