Friday, July 13, 2018

TAKING THE LONG COUNT IN THE BUCKET

TRYING TO GET UP AND GET BETTER

YESTERDAY WHEN I  MET A NEW PERSONAL TRAINER AT PLANET FITNESS IN  PAWTUCKET I took a first big step towards wellness.  And it was exhausting.

But I feel a little better this morning and also I sense a new  optimism--that maybe I can regain some of my lost and much lamented  mobility.

The  trainer who met me was one I had  found  on the internet and  had been impressed by his own improvement and his struggle against  his own limitations.
So when I met him I did feel that his sense of how discouraging it is to be  disabled was not theoretical or learned, but came  from his own lifelong experience.  AND I  respect that.

I am always amazed that when people  ask me to meet them and I ask if the place is accessible for  someone  using a walker they say Yes-- and when I arrive I cannot get in.

I realize that they are talking in theory, and I am stuck in the actual.

Once when I  was  in  physical therapy  at a rehab center, I asked the physical therapists if they had ever tried for a day to get around with a walker. They looked at me so blankly, and I knew right  away that I was in their books as a trouble maker.

Why is that such an off-the-wall question? In my mind it should be an exercise in any Physical Therapy  degree program.
Anyway I hope that my new trainer will transfer  his experience of having a disability to me.
  
I even raised the question of SHAME.  It  is  the Elephant in the room of all physical therapy  centers.  As soon as I  was unable to walk unassisted, I felt a great wave  of  SHAME  sweep over me when I went out in public.  I did not invent that -- I was seeing  the reactions of others to me. And the  assumptions--negative--they began to make about me.  
 The  Personal Trainer  knew what I was talking about. At the end of our session he began showing me his own before and after pictures. No  therapist has ever done that before --their assumption seems to be I am fine and always will be --he was saying  we  are alike and I improved and so can you.

Then he showed me a  video of  him in a  kick boxing match. I did not know what to say. He was doing great and held his own and then some.
Suddenly  I  blurted out "My father was a boxer"  And then I remembered a phrase  that he often gave to me  and any boxer that was knocked to the floor and immediately tried to scramble to his feet :  No stay down, take the long  count.
I even wrote and published a poem about  it ---

TAKE THE LONG COUNT

You are going to get knocked down.
Yes, you are, life will knock you down.
You just over swing--lose your balance
Trip yourself up--sure he's also pounding
on you--but you meet the canvas.
Don't jump to your  feet to show that
You can-- that it was all some bad mistake.
No. Lay there, Take the long count.
 Stay still. Breathe, enjoy the little  rest.
At eight count-- begin to get up very slowly
Stand and shuffle a bit, let the Ref
Look you over, check you out.
Don't run towards the  guy
Who is dying to finish you off.
You're finished with dying.

This poem was published in the ORIGAMI series of small 
chapbooks under my name and with the title
THE LONG COUNT.  You can find it on the ORIGAMI Poetry  website.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A BUCKET FULL OF POETS

PAWTUCKET  GALWAY KINNELL POETRY FESTIVAL 


This year the PAWTUCKET ARTS FESTIVAL now in its 20th year will include a POETRY  FESTIVAL.  It is taking over the name of GALWAY KINNELL a great poet from Pawtucket and will skip the poetry contest this year and instead seek to build the community of poets in Pawtucket  with a series of readings and workshops.
As a former winner  --honorary mention 2 years ago-- I was asked to be part of the planning and program.

So I will be  offering a poetry workshop.  I thought of several possible topics, but  thought that they were more academic.
Because my main concept of poetry is that it is a large tent and is an all-inclusive  type of writing.  As I have said before every time  we  sing along  words to a song we are reciting a poem. 

I started with the idea of  POETRY AROUND THE WORLD to introduce poets from different  cultures and traditions. Then I wanted to be more specific and I wanted a poetry writing aspect to  the workshop. So I  narrowed my  Workshop to POETS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD.
Here is a draft of my proposal.  


POETRY AROUND THE WORLD: POETS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Percy Shelley called poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

Today we will acknowledge some of the most famous poets who brought about change from countries all over the world.
They used their poetry to bear witness to their time and place, That is one of the primary possibilities of all writing. Something as personal as a diary or a blog still bears witness as an affirmation of being: it says I was here and this is what I noticed.

Expanding this act of witness to the social and political spheres of life, poetry becomes a powerful weapon not of mass destruction but of mass instruction and mass inspiration.

TEN POETS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Lu Xun (say Lu Shun)---China
Neruda---Chile
Byron ---England\
Langston Hughes—USA
Maya Angelou-USA
Gorki-_Russia
Brecht—Germany
Nazim Hikmet--Turkey
Faiz Ali Faiz—Pakistan
Patrick Pearse – leader of a rising of poets in –Ireland


WORKSHOP ACTIVITY
We will read and discuss one poem by each of these poets. Then  in the  poetry writing section of the workshop  and using news paper stories and photos from the past two months as prompts, we will each take up the task of bearing witness and write a new poem about what is going on in our world today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SOUL LIBERTY that WE CAN NEVER LOSE

"If I will that he tarry until I come, what is it to thee? 


This passage in the New Testament is one of those in which  the tone of Jesus' question is  not easy to interpret. I think Jesus is cautioning about the primacy of  soul liberty  and the uniqueness and inscrutability of God's Plan for each of us. SOUL LIBERTY  is the human aspect of God's Freedom.  When I first heard  such phrases as SOUL LIBERTY, Priesthood of all Believers, and God's freedom, they sent a thrill through me and I knew that in some profound way they were statements of TRUTH.

I heard them spoken in a positive way when my Aunt Grace took me to the  Baptist Church, and later in a not positive way I heard them listed as some of the  attributes of Protestant  denominations in a Catholic Church History class.

When I discovered more about my own heritage as a Jenckes and direct descendant of Joseph Jenks, one of the founders and supporters of the  FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH in AMERICA and the life and  beliefs of Rhode Island's  inspired founder Roger Williams, I was each time thrilled that I had  heard the sacred words liberty and freedom in a religious context. 

I understood better the  attraction of Islam when I  learned that their faith contained a list of the 99 Attributes of GOD. When I read them aloud,  I find them to be comforting and to bring  me a  greater sense of  the largeness of the Divine outpouring and the smallness of the human  capacity. They make a wonderful daily aid to contemplation. You will see if you try to read through them, that some new revelation will stop you and hold you at a different spot each day.

That is something that we mortals forget--the distance in every attribute between us and God. And the difference lies in both quantity and quality. We cannot know  what He knows. We cannot fathom the heights of his knowledge or the depths of His  compassion and mercy.  To  say we can is like saying that an ant can  know and feel as much as we do.  There can be no comparisons and often times we cannot even comprehend why something happens in our world. We do not have the large plan and we certainly are not directing or guiding the working out of that plan.

We do have great dignity and immense importance  but that is bestowed on us and not the result of anything that we do or learn or say or make or destroy.
Our dignity and our importance comes from one sublime fact --GOD MADE US  and each of us  contains the IMAGE OF GOD
IMAGO DEI . This was not earned --it was given to us with our souls and has been ours and will be ours for all eternity.

WHAT'S IT TO YOU?




Monday, July 9, 2018

FIRST LOVES IN THE BUCKET




Two Early Loves THAT NEVER LET ME DOWN


I guess that I have always had a romantic cast of mind. Sometimes it seems to me that longing is my heart's default position. Now I know it is  in all human hearts. 
 By the time I was four I was being read to by my mother and I had two favorite poems which I asked her to read over and over to me. One was 
THE HIGHWAYMAN by Alfred Noyes and the other was Lochinvar by Sir Walter Scott.
 Here is the text of LOCHINVAR:
 Lochinvar BY SIR WALTER SCOTT 

O young Lochinvar is come out of the west, 
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
 And save his good broadsword he weapons had none
, He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
 So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar. 

He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
 He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
 But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
 The bride had consented, the gallant came late
: For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war, 
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar. 

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall, 
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
 Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword, 
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
 “O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war
, Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”

 “I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied;
— Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide— 
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
 To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine. 
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
 That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”

 The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
 He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup
. She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh
, With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
 He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,
— “Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.

 So stately his form, and so lovely her face, 
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
 While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
 And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume; 
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, “’twere better by far
 To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.” 

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear, 
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
 So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung, 
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
 “She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
 They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

 There was mounting ’mong Graemes of the Netherby clan; 
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran: 
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
 But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
 So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
 Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar? 
Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Pearson, 2

SUCH A GREAT MUSIC AND BEAT TO THESE VERSES. They almost beg to be put to music. And the story it tells has a happy ending!
I just watched yesterday several hours of Elton John concerts on AXos  and I was amazed that he and his lyrics writer never even met. They were put together and they clearly clicked.
SO here is a great lyric perhaps it has been set to a ballad tune. 
I will write about THE HIGHWAYMAN later, That one  has a tragic ending.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

DON;T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YA!

YES!! ENGLAND DEFEATED SWEDEN 

Yes, I predicted this win in  alliance with my English  grand niece CJ who is a big fan and lives in London. She wrote a victory  limerick  when England advanced and I answered it.

Now we can look forward to the CROATIA  battle next week.  I know where  CJ will be in all this, but I am  moving on. 

I was not acting as a tout in this case--so you need  not share any winnings with me.  It is just one of the sporting benefits of this  blog, and the  fun of connecting with CJ,

NO TOUTS IN THIS BUCKET?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A MORE BEAUTIFUL BUCKET?

MAKING PAWTUCKET BEAUTIFUL AGAIN


I know that Pawtucket like Westerly RI has been designated as a city for the arts. Creative expression is welcomed in Pawtucket and artists are encouraged to move here and  inhabit one of the spaces as a studio -home that are available in various  revitalized and rehabbed mills. The annual Pawtucket Arts Festival held in the month of September also testifies to the prominence of the arts  here. 
But what about the creative space of the city itself?  I know that  a certain percentage of money is set aside for public art.  How have those funds been used and where is the public art that has been  created and funded located in the city?

 We need an updated  Creative Arts in Pawtucket Map. What about the  encouragement of the beauty of  nature--gardens and  plantings and vistas designed to show the art of  horticulture that can make  this a Garden City,
How can we suggest that  property owners or tenants be rewarded for creating artistic  front yard gardens  in this densely populated  city?

I would  suggest a variety of possibilities.

1.Improve the canopy of the city by increasing the number of trees planted along the roadsides. The cherry trees planted downtown  could be expanded to include many blossoming trees that would add to the beauty of the Springtime streets and the fragrance of the  air.

2. Create a new garden contest  to see  which houses have the most creative and inviting  Door Yard gardens. Recall Whitman's lovely phrase "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed."  The city could ask for volunteers or could encourage students in  junior high and high schools to  help to educate home owners or tenants about the planting and upkeep of low maintenance gardens that use perennials and shrubs as their backbone.

3 AS PRETTY AS  PAWTUCKET--create a campaign and a new slogan to promote the idea of the possible loveliness of Pawtucket.
FLOWERS IN THE BUCKET?

4. Learn from other cities and even other cultures. What is a family cottage garden like in England or Ireland or Portugal, Italy or Spain or the Azores or  Haiti or Quebec --to name just a few  cultural models that could be  explored.  Many Pawtucket residents come from those  cultures and making little gardens in that  cultural style could help to restore a visual and living link to them. Most of all it would restore pride.

5, FULLY RESTORE AND RE-IMAGINE The MARCONI GARDENS in Slater Park.  This could become a  good  teaching example and source of inspiration to all local gardeners.  It could also be a site used  for instruction in such areas and  gardening skills as planting, design of a habitats for birds  and butterflies, and pruning to shape  bushes. And newly weds could take photos there.

6 Use FLOWERS AND PLANTINGS TO IMPROVE CEMETERIES AND  REMEMBER  Those who  have gone  before us   Each year in December I am  astonished and  instructed by the display of enthusiasm and devotion that Pawtucket residents show to honoring their dead by name.  
They decorate a  parade of  Small Xmas trees that they are assigned in Slater park.  The looks of  delight that I see there are really very moving. 

 It is like Pawtucket's version of COCO and really the song REMEMBER ME should be playing. This Xmas commemoration is already in place and  could be extended in ways throughout the cemeteries.  We could enlist the help of Ken Postle and his Boy Scouts and  could help people to see such cemeteries as Mineral Spring and Oak Grove and  even Old Saint Mary's and Riverside as gardens.(this is just a partial list)

These are just some ideas and a vision of the possibilities --need to see the  beauty that is still here and enhance it.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

BORN ON THE FIFTH OF JULY

NOT QUITE A  YANKEE-DOODLE  DANDY

Just as I am always one letter away from NORMAL, I am also 2 hours late for Yankee Doodle Dandy status
.
Of course, when I was a small child and going to McCoy to see the fireworks and hearing the dull thuds of fire crackers  going off 
in the neighborhood,  I thought that they were celebrating my birthday. 
Always able I guess to read the world in the most self- flattering way.
 I would loll on the old couch that was on our second story porch to catch a breeze as the humid July night went noisily by. My sisters were asleep at last in post fireworks happiness.

 Sometimes the  night was loudly  punctuated by the homecoming of our neighbor JACKO .  He had a good whiskey tenor and if he had enough to drink, he would stand at the gate of his sister's  house and loudly serenade  the wife who lived downstairs. I have already described the beauty and goodness of Marge White.

His best song was "My Wild Irish Rose" even my mother had to admit  he did a decent job with that one.  Finally a loud male voice would suggest that he shut up and go inside. And usually he did,

My mother would go inside too and I could hear her cracking the ice trays and soon she would emerge with a pitcher of sweet lemonade.
I would roll the cold glass along my forehead  and they would forget about me as I pretended to sleep but really listened to every word of  my mother and Aunt Anna.

 Even now I love to fall asleep to the sound of low talk in another  room. Or even the  Late Shows murmur on TV  that my husband watches while I am dozing off. It is strangely soothing.