Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Although honestly I don’t actually feel like crying. I did that yesterday when I woke up to what certainly felt like the end of the world as I knew it. The dawn of a new world helmed by a misogynistic, bigoted, fascist, racist, hate-spewing, violence-inciting, completely unhinged orange despot-elect.

But then I got mad. I got together with my tribe of strong and powerful and brave women, with my men of quality who do not fear equality, and I made a commitment to raise hell. To say No More. To stand up for a better world, a kinder world, a more open and connected and curious and inclusive world. A world that embraces Love and rejects fear. This is what I will fight for what I will work for, what I will pray for–for the next four years and the next four decades and however long I have breath.

katniss

Change is coming. This election, this crisis, this unbelievable unfolding of events has awakened the Katniss in me–and in thousands and millions like me. We are not sitting this one out, crying and scared in a corner. We are standing up. We are marching forward. We are linking arms and  raising voices and moving mountains. Hope trumps fear. Love trumps hate. Even now. Especially now.

I worked on this poem for 4 months, earlier this year and finished it about 4 weeks ago. It feels more true and more powerful now than it did when I put down my pen.

2016 has been an almighty shitstorm of a year. And maybe we’ve just barely seen the worst of it. They say things get worse before they get better, don’t they? But here today, on my birthday, I–the natural-born pessimist–am saying that I BELIEVE it will get better. Because we will make it better. We will.

 


 

SWEET CHILD OF MINE

I want to give you the world
but not this one.

Not the one where a boy
with dirty fingers
can stuff you with leaves
behind a dumpster
and get off easy
because he can swim 200 meters
in a hot fucking minute.

Not the one where a man
with a grudge and a gun
turns a dance floor
into an abattoir
where rainbow lights pulse
on the tortured limbs of dying men
who came out for the music.

And those bullets, oh child,
you have to dodge them everywhere,
take care, take cover
at the office
at school
at concert halls and cafes.
Even first graders here
know how to cower in a closet
while their teacher lays down
her body as a barrier.

Not for you, a world
ruled by moneyblind megalomaniacs with
big fears and small minds
and small hands
and small opinions of women
of poor people
of gay people
of brown people
of people in general.

There is no equality here
so don’t expect understanding
if the gender gifted you at birth
makes your very skin crawl
and you require stitches and knives
to make it right.
Don’t expect impartiality
if you share a bed
a live
a love
and genitalia, too.
That rainbow flag waves
in defiance here
more often than joy.

I want for you no limits
not the size of your curves
or the shape of your smile
or the purity of your unsullied sheets.
I want for you the assurance
that your sex does not determine your worth
or your health or your wealth or your freedom
of choice.
of voice.
Because this world does not want to listen, child,
this world will not give you ground and I

want to give you the sky but not this one
where dispassionate bombs
fall from the blue
obliterating schools
and hospitals
and hope.
Death delivered by remote control.

And people flee that death
and horror, that loss and
ruin unleashed by all the powers that be.
People run and they crawl and they swim
and even as their children sink beneath waves,
we won’t let them in. There is no room in this world
for the war torn
for the foreign born.
No vacancy for the burqa bearing.
No clemency for the keffiyeh wearing.
One whiff of otherness and
the door slams in your face.

I want to give you a window
to crawl through. I want to give you
wide open space. I want to give you
the ocean-deep depths. But the water
is choked with plastic and the prairies
are plundered for oil and
this place, child, this place
is headlined by blood by bullets by bastards
Every.
Gods.
Damned.
Day.

I do not want for you a world
where a cop fires his gun into a car
regardless of the
Baby on Board
because
the man behind the wheel was black
and then he was dead
and he was unarmed
and then he was dead
and his hands were up
and then he was dead.
And white men kill black men kill white men kill people
kill sons kill fathers kill sisters kill mothers kill brothers kill daughters kill people
kill kill kill.

And still
tonight
another man in blue will strap on boots
and his badge and his wife
will wait red-eyed by the window
while across town a black man slips on shoes
and his wallet and his wife
will wait red-eyed by the window
because this world, sweet child,
this world is ruled by fear.

I cannot give you this world, child.
Not the world that makes me
want to lie down and die
day after day after
24-hour news cycle.

But for you, for you
I will get up and go on
for one more day
and then another.

For you I will stand
and fight
for you I will kneel
and pray
for you I am woke
I will speak
I will vote
I will write
I will see
I will love
I will hear
I will hope.

For you, I will.

06.09.16/09.21.16/10.02.16/11.08.16

voters

-Lo, who found her voice.

Stereotactic

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These machines would be softer
had their creators been women.

There would be less smashing,
for starters. Less smashing
and gentler needles.

In the waiting room you fidget
through piles of last year’s  glossy models
and wonder if this blonde ever dangled a breast
through a glory hole in an elevated table
like a Toyota awaiting tire rotation.

Yesterday on the phone, your doctor
avoided all words beginning with C
and instructed you, belatedly,
not to worry.

But the second that fuzzy-lipped nurse
pinned you in place with a well-practiced
look of pity, the moment she plied you
with poorly-written brochures
about procedures and tissue samples,
you bypassed worry and shortcut
straight to funeral planning.

The nurse’s voice, tuned to a level
statistically proven to be soothing,
turned to static before she even
got to the part about how calcifications
are “usually” benign.

In your head, you’re already malignant.
You’re already bisected and breastless.
You’re already ash.

It’s like that pre-dawn phone call
months ago warning of tsunami.
And though they swiftly chased it
with platitudes about low probabilities,
and the tide could barely be bothered
to rise half a foot, you had already seen how the wave
would hulk down on all those complacent roofs,
turning your haven into so much flotsam
polluting the slipstream.

Panicked and pajama-clad, you stuffed
the trunk with non-essential photo albums
and the long white box in which your
long white wedding dress lay entombed.
You scooped up your favorite boots and
tossed in a notebook of poems and drove
up the hill to the safe zone while your neighbors slept on
and woke calmly to their coffee mugs,
immune to overreaction.

Now you sit bared to the waist
in a sickly pink room and memorize
the letters you must write to your tiny daughter
about how she shouldn’t try to be popular
in high school, because it’s the nerds
who always turn out better in the end.

When they open the door smiling
with gauze and hollow needles
you begin to understand just how far
your body will go to betray you.

 

-Lo, who got the negative result today. And I mean “negative” in the most positively benign way possible. Happy ending and all that.

From Russia, With Love

Monday, December 26th, 2011

russia_saratov

In mid-November, I received an email from Ekaterina (Kate), a high school English teacher in Saratov, Russia. She and her students had found the cinépoems, and “Alice is my middle name” was their favorite.

The class had a school competition coming up, and they wanted to memorize and recite the poem, so Kate asked if they could have my permission to do so, and if I could send them the text of the poem, since transcribing it from the video was difficult.

I was astonished to discover that the cinépoems had traveled all the way to southern Russia. It’s just one more way the internet has made the world a much smaller place. Amazing.

Of course, I gave her my permission and sent the text of the poem straightaway. I also helped them find the music we used for the cinépoem.

And yesterday, I received the most lovely Christmas present ever.

This is a video of Julia, reciting my poem “Alice is my middle name” in her English class the day before the competition. She borrowed the blue Alice dress from a local theater.

julia_alice Alice in Saratov

Kate told me that Julia was nervous when they shot this video and “didn’t feel like an actress.”

I think she’s lovely. And she must have done well at the competition the next day, because her performance won 3rd place!

Congrats to Julia and all of her classmates, and a huge thank you to Kate for seeking me out. I’m so glad Alice made it all the way to Saratov.

Here’s the poem that started it all, for all you Alices out there:

Alice is my middle name

The light turns green and I’m off again
out looking for my wonder land
searching every rabbit hole
turning over every mushroom bowl

the clock gets louder
with each passing year
it stares me down
it finds the fear

so I shuffle up a hand of hearts
I pour myself a stiff blue dress
and the light turns red
(it’s all in my head)

but the plates keep spinning
and the cats keeps grinning
and that most important date
just keeps showing up late

it’s never the right time
it’s never, ever the right time

when the charge runs down
(as it often does)
I jump start my heart
to the marching band,
to the ticking tock

sometimes I could swear
I hear the sound of clouds
slamming on the brakes
slowing down to watch

and every time the sky turns blue
I stop somewhere
I wait for you

and every spring the grass turns green
I take that leap
of faith again

(You go further
when you get a running start)

Watch the original cinépoem

-Lo, who finally did find the right time after all.

Year One

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

baby-love

365

For the record, I didn’t really believe everything would change.
I imagined less time, of course, less sleep, less general air of sans souci
but not the entirety of life all upside down, and least of all me.

It seems after 52 weeks of daily miracles
I have become someone completely new.
I am milk maid and diaper genie and an utter fool for you.

Little Light of September Moon, all my selves were made to love you.

-Lo, whose entire world changed for good one year ago today.

Shiver Me Timbers

Monday, May 9th, 2011

king-philip

The Wreck of King Philip

When we arrive at the beach,
sun-soaked and salty,
the sight of her sand-mired stern
is anti-climactic.

Sleep deprivation has that affect:
there is either too much climax
or none at all.

Bereft of anchor, she ran aground here in 1878,
abandoned by all her men,
left to splinter and keen
on the January shore.

I circle her half-submerged shell
clicking pictures and searching
for some kind of feeling,
for the smallest quiver
of shivery timbers,

but get only sand
in the eye.

-Lo, all sandy-eyed.

What Gets Left Unsaid

Monday, January 31st, 2011

plane

Departure

Conversation stammers to a halt
the second the suitcases
get tucked into the trunk.

On the sidewalk we are astonishingly awkward
shuffling feet, stuffing hands into any available pocket.

Accidental eyelock would unleash emotions
too delicate for this public curbside. Instead
we lunge into an embrace like two bull moose
locking antlers in battle.

Inevitably one of us hangs on too long
stunned stupid by the sudden realization
of just how much has been left unsaid.

But as the taxi engine revs, goodbye
is the only word left, and its absolute lack
hangs in the air like exhaust.

-Lo, who, for the first time in a year, has written a poem that is not about a baby or a dog.

Separation Anxiety

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

superbaby

You are smiling when I leave you
and smiling still when I return
but how many smiles do I miss in between?

Locked down in endless afternoon meetings
I doodle your face in the margins of creative briefs.
The countdown to five is slower than ever.

On the way home I gamble on freedom, SuperLotto style.

-Lo, dreaming of being jobless and solvent.

Tornado Weather

Monday, December 27th, 2010

jessica

A belated Christmas present just for you… a shiny new cinepoem.

This one is called “Tornado Weather”. It was shot back in May in my hometown of Dixon, Illinois and features the lovely Jessica Hussung. Since I was 6 months pregnant at the time of the shoot, I had a lot of help from my friend Anna, who also happens to be Jessica’s mum.

So thanks to both of you, Jesse and Anna! And thanks for being so patient and waiting so long to see the result of your hard work on that steamy summer day.

You can check out Tornado Weather on the cinepoems page, as always, and also on YouTube. If you watch it on YouTube, be sure to leave a comment or thumbs up there.

It’s the last cinepoem for awhile, I’m afraid. I have ideas for new shoots in the new year, but nothing is in the can yet.

And to answer the question many of you have been asking me… Yes, the Bean will be making her cinepoem debut someday, but I might wait until she can walk first.

Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Bonne Annee to you all.

-Lo, with love and great expectations for 2011.

Mind Over Mirror

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

tyranny

We started shooting on a rainy day in January. I had just found out I was pregnant, so I wanted to hurry up and shoot my vignette before I got as big as a barn.

My goal was to finish the entire thing before the baby arrived. But “The Tyranny of the Mirror” was our most ambitious cinépoem to date, and it took a bit longer to complete than I planned.

One cinépoem with eight parts — eight different scenes, eight different women, eight different voices. The poem, as a whole, explores our obsession with our mirror image. It takes a look at a bunch of different ways that the mirror, and how we see ourselves in it, affects us, no matter who we are.

Because I’ve never met any woman who is entirely satisfied with the way she looks. As the poem goes, ...I am not satisfied/I could always be thinner/Mind over mirror.

So I have several people to thank for this one.

My fearless partner in cinépoetry, Michelle Brown, who is usually behind the camera but lent her face and her voice to this project, and starts the whole cinépoem out with a bang in “earth suit.”

Lani Alo, making her cinépoem debut in “thick around the middle” and flawlessly delivering that muffin tops line.

Lisa Sims, also a cinépoem virgin, looking good under a pink-hued sky in “grande y bonita.”

Kathy Azada, cinépoem veteran, holding her own in “dressing room.”

Johanna Baldwin, another first timer, looking fine in “skinny jeans.”

Melissa Fondakowski marks her second cinépoem appearance by eating on camera in “zaftig.”

Annie Leuenberger, also new to cinépoetry, did an amazing job in “cell memory” getting up on pointe.

And Aaron Purvis returns for the third time with an original score that he composed just for us. It’s gorgeous.

So a huge thanks to all of you, and also to my man Bruce, who shot “earth suit,” as well as all our fabulous assistants. This wouldn’t have happened without you!

Now, go see our biggest cinépoem ever, “The Tyranny of the Mirror,” now playing on the cinépoems page and also on YouTube.

-Lo, who can’t believe we finally finished it!

The Speed of Light

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

spped-of-light

The clock is a tyrant who will stay his hand for no one,
not even you, whose smile should stop time
as it stops this heart of mine.

Each day flies faster than the last,
mornings blur too soon to evening,
every minute closer to the day you take your leaving.

I wish for moments that last a thousand years.

-Lo, mourning the impending end of maternity leave.