Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Final poem for National Poetry Month--JOSEPH SLEEPS

For this final poem of the month, I was drawn to a poem from my book, Heart's Migration, a poem that was written when my youngest son was still little. To show how long ago that was, he's now Dean of Humanities at a nearby university, and the George Bush mentioned in the poem is the first President Bush, George H. W. Bush.

Poetry can capture a moment for us so that we can always re-experience its emotions years later. I'm glad I wrote this poem because, even decades later, it brings that long-gone child back more clearly and intensely than any photograph.


his eyelids like a moth’s fringed wings.
Arms flail against the Ninja Turtle sheet
and suddenly-long legs
race time.

Awake, he’s a water-leak detector, a recycling ranger
who bans Styrofoam and asks for beeswax
crayons, a renewable resource.
He wants to adopt the Missouri river,
write the president
to make factories stop polluting.

They’re old friends, he and George Bush.
He writes and scolds
the president, every month or so,
about bombing the children of Iraq
(he made his own sign to carry in protest),
about the plight of the California condor and northern gray wolf,
about more shelters and aid for the homeless.
The lion-shaped bulletin board in his room
is covered with pictures and letters from George,
who must be nice,
even if he is a slow learner.

Joseph is a mystery fan, owns 54 Nancy Drews.
Nancy’s his friend, along with Jo, Meg, and Amy
and poor Beth, of course, whom he still mourns.
He also reads of knights and wizards, superheroes,
and how to win at Nintendo.

The cats and houseplants are his to feed and water,
and the sunflower blooming in the driveway’s border
of weeds. He drew our backyard to scale,
using map symbols, sent off to have it declared
an official wildlife refuge, left a good-night
note on my pillow, written in Egyptian hieroglyphs.

In my life, I have done one good thing.

Published in Heart's Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

National Poetry Month in a Dark Time

It's a dark time in the U.S. right now. There's little doubt about that. Every day, news of several new scandals erupts. Possible Russian agents or assets in power in the White House, entire departments of the federal government essentially wiped out, bans against Muslims, the wholesale rounding up and imprisonment of Latinos, attempts to wipe out health care and health insurance as we know it today (seriously, health insurance that doesn't cover hospitalization???), attempts to wipe out all programs that help the poor, the elderly, children, the disabled, the disenfranchisement of ever more American voters--the list goes on and on. 

Just yesterday, an airline lost almost a billion dollars in share value after it beat up a paying passenger because he refused to leave a seat he'd already paid for to make room for spare airline employees. Then, Eric Trump, the inconvenient, inadvertent truth-teller in a family of pathological liars, told a reporter that the President of the United States sent 59 missiles flying into a Syrian airbase because Ivanka, his much-too-beloved daughter, felt sadness over photos of dead children and told him to do something--and, Eric added, this should prove that his dad, the President, is not beholden to Russia. And finally, on this first full day of Passover, Sean Spicer, the presidential press secretary, said Hitler never used chemical weapons--at least, not against his own people--well, against innocent people--no, he meant against his own innocent people in their homes because he took them off to Holocaust Centers to gas them.

And yesterday was a light day in the dark news department, compared to what has happened lately. Oh, I almost forget in the press of the other dumpster fires, also yesterday, we saw for the first time the FISA warrant obtained against Carter Page, foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's campaign, stating that the FBI had reasons that the FISA court found credible to believe Page was a Russian spy.

When we have possible Russian spies running our government, determined efforts to destroy said democratic government, and a President who wants to become an actual dictator and is rapidly stripping away our rights and protections against that, we live in dark, dark times. In the words of beloved children's book author, Susan Cooper, "The dark is rising." We have never needed National Poetry Month more. So here is a poem for the dark times.


Creator reminds us daily
through the fragrant winds,
the re-leafing trees,
the dark-of-morning bird chorus,
the taste of rain on upheld faces,
that this world was built in beauty,
made for harmony and wholeness.

We must remember
it is we humans
who break what is shining and whole.
It is our species that creates dark times.
We must learn to live
in tune with creation once more. We must sing
balance back into this bountiful earth.

As we work together
to mend the broken world—
against the forces among our own kind
choosing destruction over grace—
may we keep in our imaginations
the ancestral memory
of this world as it was created to be.

May we will it into existence
again. May we move always toward healing
and wholeness. May we never forget
the force of willed action
and words of power.
May we create a blessed light
in these dark times in which we find ourselves.
May we know
deep inside our bones
that, no matter how broken,
our world is always
worth the labor of mending.

© Linda Rodriguez 2017