The Arts section of Orient Lodge

The Tailgater

On the slow and winding
a man in a black pickup truck
in a great rush
to some unknown destination
drove close enough
to the car in front of him
so that a tap on the breaks
if something should unexpectedly
cross the road
would have caused an accident.

Weaving back and forth,
he found a moment
to speed past
in a short section
of straight road
only to wait at the intersection
for the traffic on the main road
as the car he passed
slowly caught back up with him.

(Categories: )

#NaPoWrimo 30: Deer Strike

“Hier hinein?...Man sieht den Weg nicht...Wie silbern die Stämme schimmern...wie Birken!...”

in the pathless wood
amidst the silvery shimmering strains
of birches
subdued by ice storms
or boys too far from town
she searches for the deer
that bounced off her hood
on a dark rainy evening
that would have been
a metaphor
if the roads weren’t so slick.

The deer, too,
could have been metaphor
or at least a totem.
When she was courting
she saw two piebald deer
on her way home from a date,
symbols of transformation
and the spirit world.

This evening
she had been driving slowly,
on account of the rain.
There was oncoming traffic
so she couldn’t swerve to the left.

The rain had washed
most of the bug carcasses
from the windshield
and the visibility
was as good as could be

There was no sign
of the wounded animal
besides the smashed headlight,
and the buckled hood
adorned with
bits of deer hair,
as she searched
the pathless wood.

(Categories: )

Counter Narrative

One of the themes of the 2016 Trinity Institute conference, Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice was the idea of Counter Narrative. It is an idea that people talk about, in certain circles, but perhaps do not do enough to foster. There is the official narrative, the stories we learn in school or read in the mainstream media; the stories of America as uninhabited or inhabited by barbarians, when Westerners came, the stories of Westerners being welcomed at a great first Thanksgiving meal, the stories of southern plantation life which overlooks the suffering of slaves, the stories of a city on a hill and manifest destiny. A good way to understand the problems of this is by listening to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story.

The dominant narrative of the day seems to be one of consumerism, where what matters is getting whatever you can for yourself, and the rest be damned. It is a narrative based on fear; sending troops and building bigger walls. It is a narrative where all people are not created equal, let alone created in the image of God Some of seen as more or less deserving than others, perhaps because of their skin color, the location they were born, or how wealthy their family was when they were born.

I thought of this when I listened to a book on tape by Barbara Kingsolver where she said that $100 is spent every year for every person on the planet, trying to get them to buy more stuff. Friday, I heard Dr. Gail C. Christopher of the W.K. Kellogg foundation say, at a forum on health equity and access, talking about what you see on television and movies, “We are entertained these days by the destruction of life".

The master narrative is about consumerism and inequality, it is about the loss of creativity and spirituality. People talk about counter narratives at conferences. Perhaps they tell some of the other sides of the story, like those talking about the Middle Passage are doing. Maybe they are telling some women’s history, talking about the domestic arts with as much respect as has been shown to the “fine” arts, or highlighting great black and/or women artists and scientists.

Yet what about countering the master narrative in daily life? Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. I set for myself a goal to write a poem a day during the month. When I’ve done this in the past, there have been days that I could find nothing to say, and wrote pieces that weren’t all that great, that were throw aways, just practice pieces. This month I did a little better. I didn’t always get the poem for each day posted on the day I wrote it. Sometimes, I’d let it sit for a day or two before editing and posting, but I did get my thirty poems done. I’ll probably edit my last poem of the month and post it tomorrow.

I’ve also been participating in a Modern Poetry class online. I’ve been reading Frost, Sandberg, and Masters most recently. I’m listening to a book about the transcendentalists in Concord during my commute. Next up is Spoon River Anthology or Big Magic, depending on when I finish the transcendentalist book and when Big Magic becomes available from the library.

All of this shapes into an idea for a counter narrative. Can I write a post, more or less daily, often as poetry, but not necessarily always, that celebrates spirituality and creativity while giving voice to people and things too often overlooked? Can I find others who are willing to write along with me? Can we listen to one another and by listening and writing shift the narratives?

#NaPoWriMo 29: Fragrances

At the corner of the house
a lilac bush stood
filling the spring evenings
of childhood
with sweet smelling

These memories
came flooding back
as I walked down the street
and the smell of mulch
echoed the smell
of what?

A freshly sharpened pencil?
The fairground
where the lumberjacks roundup
had just ended?
The carefully tended gardens
on the college campus?

When all of a sudden
another olfactory memory –
where was it from?
I looked around for a clue
I search my mind for recollections

It was the perfume
that one of my grammar school teachers
when we had big tests.

(Categories: )

#NaPoWriMo 28: The Tyranny of Time

It is after my bedtime
as I get in one last phone call
on my drive home
from the meeting I did make it to.

After a quick bite
as I sit down to write
having missed my reading time
I see an update
about one of the meetings I missed
and wonder
how a different meeting went.

I look at the schedule
of back to back meetings
and look forward
to a day of rest

(Categories: )
Syndicate content