Arts

The Arts section of Orient Lodge

The Broken Biological Clock

When life was sweet and easy,
not unlike
beneath the apple boughs
of Fern Hill,
she went
from graduation parties
to bridal showers
without the least concern
until the blister appeared
on her foot.

She knew of
her family’s history
of poor circulation
as an abstract idea
that she might have to worry about
sometime later.

The doctor said
sometime is now
and her whole world
came crashing in.

It wasn’t the advice
to stop drinking
that hurt so much,
although she could sure could have
used a drink
after the sobering news.

It was the fact that her biological clock
was broken
and not showing the accurate time.

Childbirth would be a problem
becoming more difficult over time
and the decisions from five years hence
became
a little more
immediate.

All of these thoughts
raced through her mind
as she stood in line
at the drug store
contemplating Eliot’s fear
in a handful of dust
waiting to buy
a pill cutter
like her ninety year old
grandmother
had.

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Because ...

Because there wasn’t a sign
that said Scenic Overlook
the drivers on the way home
from a rough day at the office
brooding over a boss,
coworker,
or difficult assignment
did not notice
the beauty
of the new leaves
bursting forth
on the distant hills.

Because the view
was not captured
in oil on canvas
with a nice frame
and hung in a
notable museum,
the pattern of clouds
before the sun began to set
escaped the notice
of the commuters
listening to politicians argue
on the evening news.

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Foucault in Japan

“A benefit of the NationState
was the spread of
universal compulsory education
even though it was designed
to inculcate military values.”

This started off
the morning lecture
about Foucault
but the students
already properly socialized
into their roles
as recipients of information
properly took notes
and didn’t engage
in a discussion
of the implications,
especially not
the young Japanese girls.

“How do we live counter narratives?”
I thought to myself
not wanting my questions
to be dismissed
as part of
foreign student performativity.

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Spoon River Faith Study Group

(Written as an exercise for the Poetry in America class)

It was in the 1980s and I was living in New York City. I had moved there, after dropping out of college, to be a poet and was supporting myself writing computer programs. Through a local church, I found a group of Christian artists struggling to get by in the great big city. They gathered for various events, and I, being one of the furthest from making a living at my art, stayed in the shadows.

At one event, a woman read Elsa Wertman from Spoon River Anthology.

But—at political rallies when sitters-by thought I was crying
At the eloquence of Hamilton Greene—
That was not it.
No! I wanted to say:
That’s my son! That’s my son!

That woman now performs from a pulpit instead of from a proscenium. She posts on Facebook about her son’s great new job. He didn’t become a member of Congress, like Hamilton Greene did.

I wonder what it would have been like, if my friend had led a faith study group for Elsa Wertman, Aner Clute, Mrs. Kessler and some of the other women in Spoon River. Did Mrs. Kessler ever wash clothes for Elsa Wertman or Aner Clute? What would she have said? Would let them know that everyone has things they try to hide, but that it all comes out in the wash? Would Elsa have broken down in tears and confessed her hurt, her longing? Would Aner Clute found the acceptance and love that always seemed to elude her?

The News

“I read the news today, oh boy “
Earthquakes around Mt. Saint Helens;
is something going to erupt soon?
Further north, the tar sands burn.

Captain America: Civil War
erupted at the box office
as million paid their money
to be entertained
by conflict.

The conflict in Syria rages on
and spills across the region
as I pray for mothers of sons
stationed near the battle lines.

At home
Americans are fighting with words,
mostly,
but it isn’t any less fierce,
as friends declare their candidacies
for down ticket races
because the top of the ticket
is so messed up.

An award winning journalist
gets barred from a political convention
because he writes articles
critical of the party
and a friend wins praise
for her role
in a battle of wits
with a school yard bully
running for President
on Twitter.

“I read the news today, oh boy “
Is something going to erupt soon?

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