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Home sick today with a stomach bug. By all accounts it will last a few days. DAYS. Gross. So, I’m typing this in intervals. Gross, gross intervals. I believe that I will get over this faster than my students, who for sure gave it to me, because they tend toward the melodrama, especially when sick. I get it though. Even as an adultish type woman, I still want my mom when I am sick. Today is my double, which means I have to take two sick days for this one day. I’m hoping I can get up and make it through tomorrow, so I don’t have to take any more days.

This year is coming to a close. I feel an internal pressure to make these last poems better, not something I just have to get through to close out the day, but real, thoughtful, intense efforts of creative bliss. That’s why I feel a little weird about yesterday’s Veteran’s Day poem. It wasn’t dashed off, necessarily, but it also didn’t quite get to what I wanted it to be, or what I wanted to convey.

For a future class, I’m re-reading Cry Out: Poets Protest the War. This Pablo Neruda poem is in it:

Gautama Christ

The names of God and especially those of His representative
Who is called Jesus or Christ according to holy books and
someone’s mouth
These names have been used, worn out and left
On the shores of rivers of of human lives
Like the empty shells of a mollusk.
However when we touch these sacred but exhausted
Names, these wounded scattered petals
Which have come out of the oceans of love and fear
Something still remains, a sip of water,
A rainbow footprint that still shimmers in the light.
While the names of God were used
By the best and the worst, by the clean and the dirty
By the white and the black, by bloody murderers
And by victims flaming gold with napalm
While Nixon with his hands
Of Cain blessed those whom he condemned to death,
While fewer and fewer divine footprints were found
on the beach
People began to study colors,
The future of honey, the sign of uranium
They looked with anxiety and hope for the possibilities
Of killing themselves or not killing themselves, of organizing
themselves into a fabric
Of going further on, of breaking through limits without stopping

What we came across in these blood thirsty times
With their smoke of burning trash, their dead ashes
As we weren’t able to stop looking
We often stopped to look at the names of God
We lifted them with tenderness because they reminded us
Of our ancestors, of the first people, those who said the prayers
Those who discovered the hymn that united them in misfortune
And now seeing the empty fragments which sheltered those
ancient people
We feel those smooth substances,
Worn out and used up by good and by evil.

 Pablo Neruda
“fewer and fewer divine footprints were found on the beach”. “we who live through these ages with their bloody flavor”. Whew.  I’m not sure what I’m circling around, in between gross minutes. I’m in sickland fog. I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna say it again, if I ever do another one-a-day for a year challenge, I’ll build in vacation and sick days. I’ll be the most benevolent employer of my mind.
Because my body doth protest, so does my mind. I’ve known soldiers, I wrote yesterday. But what does it mean to know war? I don’t know. The ones in my lifetime have been distilled by TV, held distant by deficits, confused by the hyperreal. But, I can imagine, and so I will, now, or in a minute after another interval of blech.
Protest Again
The rivers of blood are across oceans, held distant by deficits, made symptoms of an illness of the mind,
the large and muddled mind of a nation held captive by wavelengths.
So far, in the blue light, the shouts and sorrows of terror across blue seas,
does no longer move the marrow in our bones to empathy.
So far, we’re told, the balances of love and fear mean less than the balances of profit and fear,
and the security paid for by the mothers’ cry,
we’re told is a bargain.
The rivers of blood are here, too, in this, the dry land,
the land of bluster and arctic wind. Stay warm, the birds in charge squawk.
This poor rubble slough has little to do with you.
Stay warm, and cozy in your connected hand.
Look at the way we are told the news feeds you. Look at your newsfeed and that is enough.
It is all twitter we want from you.
Nevermind the rivulets of blood that trickle like inklings to your human spot. Nevermind the forgotten names.
Be safe here, on the shoreline.
It is guarded by fast weapons and fast ideas,
the beach is held fast, by the distance.
*******
Is this a protest poem? I don’t know. I’m foggy and ill and gross. At any rate, it is another Wicked Wednesday. But much earlier than my normal ones. I’m vowing to do more. Activate more. This peace needs warriors, and I sign on today. Thanks, poemies, for reading.
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