Monday, April 24, 2017

Rainy Day and Whiners

            Rainy Day doesn't watch much TV news any more.  She used to, but it's all the same--death, destruction, pain, agony.  Lately, it's been one religious faction trying to eliminate another religious faction in the name of whatever god they worship.  Rainy D notices that all these factions worship male gods.  She also notices male gods tend to be war gods, especially the monotheistic ones.  Rainy D thinks people who worship war gods should not whine when they become targets!

Rainy Day believes Guanyin, Bodhisatva of Compassion, is the only known case of a male god becoming a female goddess.  Image stolen from the web.
Today is the last Monday in April, and this is the last poem. At least for a year. I promise.

Little Boys and War
            --by Lenora Rain-Lee Good

I was six; brother was five.
Papa was gone to war.
Planes roared overhead
Racing for the city,
Our farmhouse shook;
Dishes crashed to the floor.

Mama screamed and
Called us to her.
In the roar, we refused to hear,
And rushed outside
To watch the show.

Did we really see the bombs
Fly toward the city?
“There!  There!” we’d yell in delight
Planes swooshed low,
Dirt blossomed upward,
Lives destroyed,
For our enjoyment.

And mama screamed
And called us to her bosom.
This time, we answered to her tears.
“But, Mama,” we’d explain,

“It’s so exciting!”

Monday, April 17, 2017

There is a difference between ignorance and stupidity...

...ignorance is a treatable condition.

With that in mind, I prefer to think of Sean Spicer as ignorant. I have been wrong at times in the past, and I may be wrong in this case; however, I prefer to err on the side of humanity. I hope Mr. Spicer is educable. He said some very ill chosen words the other day about Herr Hitler, chemical weapons, and 'Holocaust Centers.'

When I was stationed in Karlsruhe, Germany I had the opportunity to visit Dachau—both the town, and the camp. Below is my poem about the camp--one of Mr. Spicer's 'Holocaust Centers.' But, now, let me tell you a bit about the town, and its people. For, if I could afford it, I would live there.

I actually walked this street
Many of the people of Dachau did not want the camp built at their town. And when it was built, they refused to serve the SS troops. The SS had to bring in their own waiters, bar maids, and prostitutes, at their own expense. Not only that, but during the day, when the slaves were marched from the camp to the BMW plant (yes, the plant where those fine cars were built), many good citizens of Dachau stood along the side of the streets and tossed bits of bread, and chocolate, and cigarettes, &c to the slaves. Whatever the slaves caught, they could have. Rationed food, freely given.

Obviously, some businesses thought the camp would be good for them. But several stood by their ethics and morals. Not all Germans were Nazis, or even Nazi sympathizers. This article, Dachau is also a town at https://dachauisalsoatown.wordpress.com/a-town/the-old-town-altstadt/ tells a bit about the town, and has some photos.

When I toured the camp, and walked toward the entrance, off to the right was a small sign, I remember it being black with white letters. All it said was KZ Gedankstädte. I didn't know at that time what it meant, but it was ominous, foreboding, and very forbidding. Later, when I got my dictionary, I learned it meant Concentration Camp Memorial—a place you'll never forget. How true. I can ever forget that place, that visit.

KZ Gedankstädte

Laid with German precision
well tailored paths
intersect villages
where millions lived
millions died.

Perfect right angles
paths separate
at front and back doors
parallel walled boundaries.

One hot, breezeless day
I braved those paths
as the laughter of children
tumbled through the fences

I heard mournful agonies of
Gypsies and Jews and
Christians and Other Undesirables. 

My knees crumbled
as I toured the museum
of my never-to-be known
family.
I prayed to their
deaf god, begged the same
burning questions
received the same
mute response.

The Exit
is still through the crematorium.


Oh, and for a last bit of information, there were no gas chambers at Dachau; the slaves kept sabotaging the building of the gas chamber. Those scheduled for death were taken by train to a place in Austria where they were gassed and then the bodies were loaded back on the trains, brought back to Dachau, and cremated. I did not go through the crematorium when I was there—it was closed for repairs.

What? You want a happier story and poem? Oh, all right. Go here for happy poems, and even a Happiness Cake Recipe! http://www.behappyzone.com/happy-attitude-poems.html

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rabbit Tracks and Other Thoughts on Poetry

It's still April, and it's still National Poetry Month ;-)

I am pleased to announce that yesterday, at a poetry reading and open mic with Tod Marshall, the Washington State Poet Laureate, and Lynn Knapp a local poet from Walla Walla, Tod brought me my contributor's copy of WA129. There are 129 poems by 129 poets from throughout the state, one poem for each year of our statehood, and I'm here to tell you, I'm in with some mighty fine poets! Among them are Sherman Alexie and Philip H. Red Eagle. The book will launch, in Olympia, on the 13th! It will be available through your favorite bookseller!

Cover of WA129
Several years ago, I had the marvelous opportunity to take a poetry workshop from Marvin Bell. He is a most kind and generous poet, full of wisdom, full of support. The most wonderful thing he told us right off the bat: "Give yourself permission to write a bad poem!"

To any creators who may be reading this, and don't know that bit of wisdom, it holds for the written word, the painted, the sculpted, anything. Give yourself permission to [write/produce/create] a bad whatever.

He also taught me to have fun with words and play with forms. The workshop was held on the Oregon Coast, near Coos Bay, and one of my poems that came out of it was Rabbit Tracks. I can't tell you any more about it, other than it is a villanelle. I remember writing it, sitting on a rock watching the water slap the shore, but that's about it. It's pure nonsense, but kinda fun.

Rabbit Tracks
            --by Lenora Rain-Lee Good

Harold's forearms each own a swallow.
Devil fish egg drifts on the tide.
An empty swing still rocks.

The setting sun burns copper in the dining room window.
Long johns balloon on the line.
I dreamed of a lost rabbit.

Gulls dip in the surf.
Souls of dead sailors ride their backs.
Tracks trail in the sand.

The rabbit surfs the empty sun,
swallows dream of copper windows.
Fish dip sand to balloon forearms raised.

John burns gulls, drifts across the empty egg.
Balloon tracks swallow devil sand lines.
Forearms of rabbit fish dream death in the surf.

Rocks swing copper on the trail of dead souls.
Windows swallow long sun of surf lost.
Egg souls burn empty, dip, drift, swallow flight.

Dead devil dreams copper surf sails
Johns ride the drifting gulls, burn through dining room windows.
Balloon fish trail their backs, swallow
Forearms of rabbit tracks, dream of dead Harold.

Now, to read a real poem, by a Master, check out The Uniform by Marvin Bell at http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/poems/detail/46604



Monday, April 3, 2017

Happy April!

April is National Poetry Month in the US of A. And I thought maybe I'd share a poem or two with you this month. One of mine and one of someone else's.

For those of you who may not know, I'm a Vietnam era veteran. And I have a very soft spot in my heart for all vets, but especially Vietnam.

The Tranquil Sound is the first poem I ever sold, and was paid the princely sum of $50.00! Thank you Jerry Pournelle and John Carr!! I wrote this poem when the eagles were rattling their swords, I was in the Reserves, and the possibility of warfare, nuclear warfare, existed.

Part of the Puget Sound Basin showing Gig Harbor with Mt. Rainier in the background.
Stolen from the web.


The Tranquil Sound


The basin lay
As though carelessly tossed
Catching sunlight
In its glass interior,
Light dancing from
Blister-bumps
To age-vein cracks;
Filled with waters that sough
With the tides
And serenade the moon.

Breezes dance
Tiny paths in the dust
Seen only by the circling Roc,
Who cries to the emptiness below.

The basin lay
As it had for years
Lost to all but the Roc
                                    And the lonely soldier,
                                    Sentinel on the edge of glass
                                    Who’s glowing skeleton
                                    Still clutches rust
                                    That once was weapon;
                                    Faithfully watching
                                    With eyeless sockets
                                    The once tree filled
                                    Hunting grounds
                                    Of old Chief Sealth.

                                    Foolish lad.  Dead.
                                    Defending a people who wanted
                                    No defense.
           
                                                Still, the circling Roc cries.

-- Lenora Rain-Lee Good


One of my favorite books of poetry about that war is Visions of War, Dreams of Peace: Writing of Women in the Vietnam War –edited by Lynda Van DeVanter and Joan A. Furey. Gut-wrenching poetry by those who were there.

Coffee Room Soldier written and read by Penny Kettlewell is at the link below.


The eagles are rattling their swords again. Read what war is like from those who lived it. And work hard to see it doesn't happen.