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Archive for the 'I Learned Something' Category

RIP our beloved Maya Angelou

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

On the Pulse of Morning

Maya Angelou

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers–desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours–your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

________________________________

Maya Angelou lived a sacred life.  And even if you weren’t paying attention (I like to think I was paying attention, close attention) her lyrical prayers rained down upon you without you even knowing.

And that is what the everyday miracles of everyday life are all about.

xo, Angela

about this poem

Poetry on Broadway … Tra la la

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

BROADWAY MELODY

by Frederick Seidel

A naked woman my age is a total nightmare.
A woman my age naked is a nightmare.
It doesn’t matter. One doesn’t care.
One doesn’t say it out loud because it’s rare
For anyone to be willing to say it,
Because it’s the equivalent of buying billboard space to display it,

Display how horrible life after death is,
How horrible to draw your last breath is,
When you go on living.
I hate the old couples on their walkers giving
Off odors of love, and in City Diner eating a ray

Of hope, and paying and trembling back out on Broadway,

Drumming and dancing, chanting something nearly unbearable,
Spreading their wings in order to be more beautiful and more terrible.

___________________________________

Poetry:  I just can’t get enough, it seems.  Yeah, I know you come here to read dirty stuff from the Phone Sex Goddess, the Queen of Kink, the Damsel of Debauchery.  I get that.  I really do.  But there is a lot more to me than "Smut Literatrix" and if you don’t want these other parts of me … sorry, chump.  Google your favorite dirty words and get on with it. Or you could hop on over to Blistered Lips, where I keep my little trove of personally-written FREE smut.  Either way, I’ll be here when you get back. 

So let’s get back to talking about this poem/poet.  First off, from my point of observation, it’s comme il faut to blog about this poem today, because I’m going to a Broadway show tonight.  And, oh yes, I am excited.  But more about that at some future date. 

It seems that Mr. Seidel is currently the toast of the town with the recent publication of Poems 1959-2009.  Everybody’s talking and I’m listening. 

Michael Hoffman of The Poetry Foundation notes: 

From the beginning, Seidel was always a bogeyman, a Bürgerschreck, an épateur—a carnivore if not a cannibal in the blandly vegan compound of contemporary poetry

From Wyatt Mason at The New York Times:

 … novelists are among Seidel’s most articulate advocates. Norman Rush recognizes how Seidel’s choices can be misunderstood: “The risks Seidel takes have to do with threatening the potential affection of new readers. They may see him as a ‘swell’ and take that presentation as reason enough not to be interested in what he’s doing. He doesn’t cozen the reader. But if you persist, the power and profundity of Seidel’s games, and his nerve, will get you — draw you into the extremely complex set of experiences that he’s laid out for you to have.”

Adam Kirsh (The New York Sun) answers the question, "Who is the best American poet writing today?" with:

Though the news will not be welcome to prize juries, literary philanthropists, and the people who choose the poems for the subway, I think it may be Frederick Seidel. There is a reason why Mr. Seidel, whose first book was published more than 40 years ago, has not accumulated the cargo of honors that turn so many poets his age into mere worthies: no Pulitzer, no National Book Award. Indeed, if you go to the "about the author" section of Mr. Seidel’s new Web site, you will find no curriculum vitae at all. Instead, Mr. Seidel offers a clipping from a 1962 issue of the New York Times, about the controversy that resulted when a panel of poets chose his first collection, "Final Solutions," for the 92nd Street Y’s inaugural poetry prize. Though the judges included Robert Lowell, the sponsor refused to publish the book, on the grounds that it libeled a living person.

Now — to my mind — this is an exciting and fascinating man/poet/iconoclast.  Being somewhat of a maverick myself, I am downright rapturous over this guy and his book.  I want to know more more more.  Give me more more more.  I want a biography.  I want an autobiography.  I want that book of poems.  I want it bad bad bad.  I want it yesterday.  I want to prop it up next to my PC so I can cast loving glances at it.  I want it in my purse so I can take it out at the nail salon and impress my fellow fashionistas.  II want it under my pillow at night so I can fondle it and smell it up-close-and-personal.

But that’s beside the point.   What’s more important is that I feel and see so much with this poem.  First of all — despite the fact I’ve never been even close to New York — I feel the New York-iness of this poem.  I can see the City Diner.  I am sitting in the City Diner, feeling the aged leather of the booth cling to my legs as I peruse a yellowed menu of cheap and fattening food while watching the natives order french fries (not home fries!) with their bacon and eggs from a waitress named Frannie, wearing a triangled handkerchief above her left breast. 

I know that elderly couple and the scent of their weathered love.  A love so strong and so anchored in time they could care less what a poet sophisticate thinks of them … they have each other.

And how dare Mr. Seidel  talk so candidly of aging women.  Ouch!  It just touches sooo deeply  — and I’m not complaining, mind you.  bring it on, Mr. Seidel.  make me choke on your poem — because I fear aging, having played the youth card for all its worth in the pursuit and conquering of men. 

Can you tell I’m excited?  Yes, indeed, I am.  I’ve caught up with some of Mr. Seidel’s work elsewhere.  And I’m more than excited:  I’m downright smitten.  I’m hot to trot.  I’m turned upside down and inside out.  This guy is a versifying genius.  I just might make him the Poet Savant of Zen.  A new savant is — after all — long overdue, and I don’t think there’s anyone else even close to being worthy of carrying the mantle.  Although I don’t think he’d thank me in the morning.  *wink*

I’ll be thinking about you and Mr. Seidel and all that jazz on my way to the theater this evening.  I’m much excited, and engaged and enthused  — the three "Es" of Self-Actualization (I made that up, but it works for me).  A special thank you to Mr. Smith who sent me a link in an email and got this whole ball rolling.  The only other occasion he took time from his (most likely) busy schedule to write me was to complain about something we’ve since ironed out.  So it was with much pleasure I received this particular email today.  You did good, Mr. Smith!

xo, Angela

ps. Speaking of Fredericks … Fredrick the Cross Dressing Cat has started his own blog.  How cute is that?  I always knew he was smarter than the average kitty.  He’s also tweeting at twitter, so make sure to follow him.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.

~Edward P. Morgan

Today ends Banned Book Week.  Can you stand just one more rant from yours truly?  I know I already did that yesterday; but it’s important because it speaks to our basic and most beautiful right to not only express ourselves but to seek out kindred hearts and thinkers.  It also happens to speak to our human right to learn and grow and self-actuate.  So lets have at it just one more time … what do you say?  And then I’ll exercise my First Amendment rights tomorrow (or maybe the next day) to write you something really dirty and juicy.

So once upon a time & a few years back, when I was writing regularly for Sex Kitten (and I may be doing so again … so stay tuned), I wrote the piece below.  Most of you here haven’t seen it and I think it stands the test of time, so here you go:

Banned in Boston, Condemned in Cleveland

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Library: My 451 on Freedom of Speech, Libraries, The First Amendment and Banned Book

In a perfect world, those who screw with The First Amendment would be sentenced to careers-without-parole as testers in ball gag factories. And why not? Why not let them see what it feels like for a change. Just a thought. Or maybe they want to take that away from us too?

Sadly, when it comes to Freedom of Speech, sometimes the last place we’ve been able to find it is in our libraries.

Which seems kind of weird, don’t you think? Shouldn’t at least The Library be hallowed ground? A quasi-church for those of us who actually know how to think on our feet and our knees? And even in between? For those of us who believe that truth is earned, truth is fluid, truth is personal? For those of us who know we will bleed more than we will ever learn, yet pick up the gauntlet anyway?

Because we know that apprenticed truth is the very marrow of all that makes us human. That suffraged truth is ours to keep forever. And that these self-learned truths are what truly sanctify us, make us whole, make us real. Because we know that human-ness and sanctification are one and the same.

Because we know that to keep truth you need to earn it. You need to fight for it, sometimes even die for it. Because borrowed truth just doesn’t stick: Won’t stick to you. Or inside of you. Or up for you.

But some people try to do just that, over and over again. Unable to find the path, unwilling to pay the price, looking for an easier, softer way — and missing the irony of their very own actions — they cling to their cookbooks, their bibles, their leaflets, their doctrines, their scrolls, their index cards, their cheat sheets.

Forsaking the wisdom of their very own hearts, ignoring the axiom No Guts, No Glory, they take the easy way out (instead of the harder way inside), looking to some Petrarchan authority to tell them what to think, what to believe, how to act. And they know they are right: Because they’ve got the rules now. They’ve got the rules, and by golly the rest of of us better start living by them or else.

And so they set about the business of minding everybody else’s business. What else can you do when you’ve finally got the rules? What else can you do when you know better than everybody else? What else can you do when you’ve been born again in the stagnant waters of vainglorious superiority, carved anew from the petrified rock of pseudo-enlightenment?

And the dirty little rat bastids just won’t leave our books alone. Forgetting that the very reason they know they are right and we are wrong is because they read it somewhere and that makes it true. Imagining some knighted prerogative to “go forth and cleanse,” they slither into our libraries unannounced (but always invited) to bite the hand that originally fed them.

I’m just kind of sick of it. Books of all types, sizes, shapes and subject matter have repeatedly disappeared from the hallowed shelves on this most-American of institutions time and again. Thanks to the blessed and all-knowing storm troopers, we have to repeatedly fight for the right to read.

So let me ask you this: If someone takes a book away from me, do I get to take one away from them? Do I get to decide for them, like they want to do for me, what they shall read? Because I am the moral conscience for the world? Because I know better than you and them and him and her? And do we do this—tit for tat—until there are no books left? None to be found anywhere, every last shelf picked clean?

Just something to think about as Banned Books Week draws to a close. And I do hope you think about it. Think about it all year round. Think about a world stunted by intellectual pygmies who want to steal every idea ever found in a book, because they’ve never had an original one of their own, and it scares the hell out of them.

Think about a world without music, without poetry and even without prayer, because original thought is original sin…and we can’t have that, now, can we?

Think of a world, of all the worlds, contained inside the covers of each and every single book.

Think about all of this when…

…you visit the library, walk into a bookstore, join a book club, attend a book fair and your heart thrills at the banquet of possibilities.

…you catch the musty scent of aged paper and pulp when entering your grandfather’s den and remember his smile, the way he held you on his lap and read to you.

…you read a Shakespearian sonnet to the woman you love and see the look of love in her eyes.

…you grieve the ending of the best book ever as a last chapter looms ahead.

…you run across an old school book and remember how autumn always smelled so new, so full of promise, back then.

********

About Index Librorum Prohibitorum.:  Well, shame on me!  I grew up a Catholic gal and had never heard of this.  And wouldn’t have, unless a thoughtful commenter on my last post brought it up.  (Thank you, very much and I hope you visit often.)  Of course, I googled it and there it was all over the place.  I’ll just send you to the Wikipedia page, where you can read all about it. 

And I just had to use it as a title, ‘cuz it makes look smarter than I am.  *wink*

One more thing:  "Google" is officially a verb now (and has been for a while), which makes "googled" a real word ( a past tense verb, to be specific).  So why doesn’t my spell checker recognize it?  argghhhh. 

Spank Ur Monkey with a Banned Book

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

It’s banned book week and I just gotta say that …

… I’m a self-confessed and unapologetic bibliophile.  I’m a sucker for books:   good books, bad books and everything in between.  I love the smell of books, the feel of books.  I collect books and like looking at them all nestled together on my book shelves or piled here, there and everywhere in the corners of my life.  There is always a book in my purse.  There is always a book beside my bed.  I never ever go to sleep without reading at least a page or two of my current read … and there is ALWAYS a current read.   I  generally avoid bookstores because once I step through the door, I’m doomed to spend hundreds of dollars. 

… I often give books as gifts.  Because, honestly, I can’t think of anything better than to share a book that has thoroughly entertained me or taught me something new or made me laugh or caused me to weep or even perhaps changed me in some deep and fundamental way.  Is there anything better than being in the middle of a book that you can hardly put down, that you can’t wait to get back to?  If I care about you, why wouldn’t I want to give this experience to you?

… It follows that  with my liberal “brattiness” I am indeed passionately opposed to the narrow-minded minority who would attempt to ban any book, because they think they know better than you or me.   And so a few years ago I wrote the following.  I think it’s worth repeating …

Get Your Rocks OFF With a Banned Book

A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.

~Salman Rushdie

bbw2.gif

Won’t you join me in championing free speech this week by observing Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read. Do it anyway you want, I don’t care: Take a book to lunch. Or dress it up in stockings and stilettos–then fuck it silly or jerk off and cum all over it. But most of all, hold it to your heart and keep it safe. 

Great Book Quotes

  •  To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser. ~Robertson Davies
  • There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. ~Oscar Wilde
  • The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. ~Mark Twain
  • A room without books is like a body without a soul. ~Cicero
  • Never judge a book by its movie. ~J. W. Eagan
  • Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book. ~Dwight Eisenhower
  • This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. ~Dorothy Parker
  • I first read books to survive my life; then I read books to live my life; now I read books to celebrate my life. ~Angela St. Lawrence 

Most Sacred First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble , and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Books from the Hit List

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • Cujo by Stephen King
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing by Maya Angelou

***Researching and putting all of the info together for this entry, I’ve had tears in my eyes more than once; fell in love with power of words–over and again; was struck heart-deep by the weight of truth which those who write always bare; and fell in love with my beautiful country all over again. If you even find your way to one of those things…I will be profoundly humbled.

***********

One more thing:  Between you and me, I sincerely believe that books saved my life.  Once upon a time I was a little girl in a bad situation — the world was ugly and there was no physical escape.  But there was the local library, just a few blocks from my parochial school.  And so I would go there to read and read and read.  My library card was my only prized possession, and with it I would borrow as many books as was permitted and read in my room, on the school bus, on the porch, in the yard.  And eventually all that reading got me from there to here.

So, yeah … spank your monkey with a book.  Fuck it, hump it, cum all over it.  Do it for me.  Do it for you.  Do it for those who read their way into their own selves.  Do it for all the little girls and boys who not only found a way out, but up, up, up …

Because books are that powerful.  And so are we.  If you don’t believe me, read a book.  You’ll see.