Sunday, December 4, 2016

'Tis the season #phenology #writersresist

our branch of Winter wonderland
our branch of Winter wonderland
Photo by J. Harrington

It snowed overnight and flurries continue off and on this morning. This time without raining first. Suddenly, Winter is here. Chickadees, light as they are, have been knocking snow from the branches as they come in to the feeder. Woodpeckers, downey, hairy, red-bellied, have all been wondering where the suet went under its snow-cap. When the pileated landed, he knocked off most of the snow and returned a sense of order to the world of the smaller woodpeckers. He didn't knock all of the snow off the top, so he sideways-pecked at the suet and twisted his head up every so often to take a look around for predators.

Christmas tree, 2016 (better lights, less blur)
Christmas tree, 2016 (better lights, less blur)
Photo by J. Harrington

As promised yesterday, this morning the tripod came out and held the camera steady for that fraction of a second more that was needed to capture the tree lights and reduce blur to acceptable levels. Cameras are much like computers these days. What we want to blame on hardware or software is often the result of operator error (such as hand shake or, heaven forbid, poor judgement).

Without segue, I want to call your attention to the emergence of a new "Writers Resist" movement. According to AWP,
The organization’s event guidelines read, “Writers Resist is not affiliated with a political party. We wish to bypass direct political discourse in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of Democracy. In order for us to heal and move forward, individually and as a nation, we believe people need something to be for in this anxious moment. The only thing we ‘resist’ is that which attacks or seeks to undermine those most basic principles of freedom and justice for all.”
PEN America is creating an event in New York centered around free speech—“Writers Resist: Louder Together for Free Expression.” PEN America wants it to be “a major literary protest and show of strength that will take place just before the January Presidential inauguration to signal that all eyes, ears and pens are trained on Washington.”
Events are in the works for many other cities: Austin; Seattle; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; Columbia, Missouri; Boston; Oakland; New Orleans; Chicago; Houston; Madison, Wisconsin; and Tallahassee, Florida. The Tallahassee group, which Belieu, who is a professor at Florida State University, is spearheading, has partnered with 100 Thousand Poets for Change and the nontraditional dramatic arts space founded by Terry Galloway, the Mickee Faust Club.
Since I write (blog, essays, poetry) and you read, and, as of this writing, no Minnesota events are listed, I want to see if I can help spark consideration for a local event on January 15 that Minnesota's literary community can participate in. Please help spread the word. Thanks!


Democracy


By Dorianne Laux


When you’re cold—November, the streets icy and everyone you pass
homeless, Goodwill coats and Hefty bags torn up to make ponchos—
someone is always at the pay phone, hunched over the receiver

spewing winter’s germs, swollen lipped, face chapped, making the last
tired connection of the day. You keep walking to keep the cold
at bay, too cold to wait for the bus, too depressing the thought

of entering that blue light, the chilled eyes watching you decide
which seat to take: the man with one leg, his crutches bumping
the smudged window glass, the woman with her purse clutched

to her breasts like a dead child, the boy, pimpled, morose, his head
shorn, a swastika carved into the stubble, staring you down.
So you walk into the cold you know: the wind, indifferent blade,

familiar, the gold leaves heaped along the gutters. You have
a home, a house with gas heat, a toilet that flushes. You have
a credit card, cash. You could take a taxi if one would show up.

You can feel it now: why people become Republicans: Get that dog
off the street. Remove that spit and graffiti. Arrest those people huddled
on the steps of the church. If it weren’t for them you could believe in god,

in freedom, the bus would appear and open its doors, the driver dressed
in his tan uniform, pants legs creased, dapper hat: Hello Miss, watch
your step now. But you’re not a Republican. You’re only tired, hungry,

you want out of the cold. So you give up, walk back, step into line behind
the grubby vet who hides a bag of wine under his pea coat, holds out
his grimy 85 cents, takes each step slow as he pleases, releases his coins

into the box and waits as they chink down the chute, stakes out a seat
in the back and eases his body into the stained vinyl to dream
as the chips of shrapnel in his knee warm up and his good leg

flops into the aisle. And you’ll doze off, too, in a while, next to the girl
who can’t sit still, who listens to her Walkman and taps her boots
to a rhythm you can’t hear, but you can see it—when she bops

her head and her hands do a jive in the air—you can feel it
as the bus rolls on, stopping at each red light in a long wheeze,
jerking and idling, rumbling up and lurching off again.

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