The Light – A Double Etheree

Light

A hope

In darkness

Beckoning me

Promising safety

My heart leapt through the fog

Disregarding the shadows

Imagining the warmth and love

Offered by a warm fire and belonging

I entered willingly and was engulfed 

I could not breath yet I stayed, struggling

Disbelief turning my soul to ash

Until a voice of cooling wind

Reminded me of the path

With boundaried edges

I left with embers

Of my choosing

Now I bring

My own

Hope

Image credit- Pixabay- ArtTower
(For visually challenged reader, the image shows a road leading towards a dwelling in the forest. It is hidden in fog and surrounded by tall trees. A light is shining brightly out of the window of the house)

This double ether was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt #31. I loved how the light seems to draw you in, however it was the path that intrigued me. They look almost like railroad tracks and I was reminded of Thomas the Train, which was one of my son’s favorite shows. It was only after hours and hours of watching that I realized that tracks don’t go “one way”, trains can actually go both ways on the same track. So even if tracks only lead to certain destinations, trains (or their conductors/train engineers if this was real life) can decide how to get there.

This idea mixed with a masterclass I am taking on boundaries, offered by a very generous and brilliant therapist friend of mine, Mari. In our class today, she reminded us of why and how people will push on our boundaries not just on a personal level but on a societal level as well. It also brought to mind the work of another friend, a passionate poet and advocate, Mich, and the work she has done to bring to light the plight of women in domestic violence situations. Domestic violence is one of the ultimate ways that a woman’s boundaries are destroyed, that a woman can lose her sense of herself and her self worth. You can read about Mich’s anti-DV work here.

With many people stuck at home, the incidences of DV and other types of abuse (child neglect and abuse in all its forms) have increased in the USA and worldwide. Reports of civil unrest here in the United States of America due to police brutality and the recent senseless deaths of African-Americans has made me wonder if the word “safe” can ever find a home in our world again. How can we change the direction of this train we are on? Maybe we need to stop looking for that “hero” with the light outside and look at the light we all carry within to show the way…

©️ 2020 iido

Mondrian — aroused

Mondrian — aroused

The insightful Kate from Aroused by Arête wrote this heart wrenching poem based on the same Mondrian artwork as my previous post. Kate’s take so succinctly captures the lived experience of People of Color today. Please click on the link, read her poem, let it sink in and check your feelings then check out her some of her other wonderful words. Thank you, Kate!

EDIT: I have included a Kate’s poem below with her permission.

Mondrian by Kate at Aroused by Arête

obviously white is the dominant colour
both background and the centre stage
it dominates this snapshot of our world

the blue red and yellow must conform
to rules and rigid patterns for survival
tightly contained within specified boxes

a few elites are allowed to step out
those token few chosen to perpetuate
the myth that all have equal opportunity

delineation of apartheid can be subtle
but also overt to keep these colours
down trodden by our sheer arrogance

coloured ones must always conform
or languish in prisons and psych units
a ‘safe’ dumping ground to cleanse

our outrageous sensibility
where humanity slithered
unnoticed, out of sight
we’d rather not know
of their sad and
bewildered plight …

Give My Regards to Mondrian – A Haibun

Sunshine yellow paths slowly overcome with tomato red worries. If they were splattered, like ketchup on a a plate awaiting a french fry’s toe dip, the red would have seemed angry. But these right angles and straight lines speak to the weight of rules and how things should be. 

Rule follower blue is in each quadrant, of course, keeping watch with that tick-tock military march head swing of disapproval – or maybe it’s disappointment, or maybe it’s both. But it’s really the white – the soul-less white, the brain numbing white – that has taken center stage.  It defines and limits the yellow’s paths so happiness is constrained to this patch of canvas. 

Each parallelogram rigidly defined as if they can’t hear the songs from Broadway calling them to relax, to sway, to be pulled and pushed and twirled, to be tossed in the air and slid through the legs. The primary passion of colors needs to be the breakout star.

Right hand against left

Piano drama gives best shot 

Angle of Life’s Joy

Piet Mondrian, ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43, moma.org

Kim from Writing in Norfolk is hosting dVerse Haibun Monday this week. She challenged us with writing a haibun about the image above, a piece of modern abstract art by Piet Mondrian, a leader in this movement. “Broadway Boogie Woogie” was one of his last pieces of work.

I did a lot of research for this haibun so if finding out about the background work that went into writing a poem isn’t your “thing”, then feel free to skip this part and go straight to the “Like” button below! =) I love doing research and since we’re still sheltering in place, I have time.

I didn’t start off doing research but after the 2nd paragraph, I got a little stuck and that’s when I started doing some exploring particularly about the title of Mondrian’s art piece.

Boogie Woogie is a style of piano playing brought up from the southern part of the USA to the northern part by African Americans during the “Great Migration”. It’s inspired by jazz and gained popularity in the late 1930’s through WWII.

Boogie Woogie is also a style of dance, also known as the East Coast Swing.

Broadway, needs no introduction although I did find this interesting podcast about it’s history from the Bowery Boys. Around the 17 minute mark, they talk about the reason why Broadway is the only road in north of lower Manhattan that doesn’t seem to follow the beautiful grid pattern created by the Commissioners Plan of 1811. I thought it ironic that Mondrian would name his artwork full of right angles after a street that refused to conform to this square plan. Incidentally, Broadway is also called “The Great White Way”.

Currently, Broadway is closed due to the pandemic yet, I can still remember my first Broadway show, Cats, that I watched with my Dad for my 13th birthday. Since then, I’ve seen the Lion King, Hamilton, Chicago and Wicked there. The 2nd line of the haiku references a song from Hamilton called “My Shot”, which is mostly about taking advantage of opportunity.

I don’t know if Mondrian made all these connections when he painted this artwork and then named it. The BBC podcast that inspired Kim also had an interesting take on the relationship between Mondrian and Boogie Woogie (I didn’t listen to that podcast until AFTER I wrote my haibun so any similarity is purely coincidental. I swear on my favorite pen.)

For me, the artwork raised these questions: What are the rigid lines that seem to define our limits? Are they self-imposed? Or do we see them as being imposed by an “other”? How can we push, pull and twirl our edges to allow for flexibility and growth? To angle our abstract mind to find those higher meanings? To allow our vibrant, colorful, exuberantly moving joy to take center stage?

My haibun is, at it’s essence, about finding joy amidst the constraints of life – whether it’s the constraints of having to shelter in place and wear a mask, or the constraints of worries and “shoulda, woulda, coulda” rules in our lives. Can we turn our current limitations into something meaningful? This article says “Yes, if you have faith.” But what about the rest of us? What’s the angle of our life’s joy or are we content to live in the grid?

©️ 2020 iido

Harvesting Questions – A Quadrille

What harvest will we reap

When the seeds of isolation bloom?

Will it feed the hunger of connection?

Or will it be blighted with fear?

Is food for our soul

A quick fix for the 

Needs of our bodies?

Which god should we worship?

That old saying, “You reap what you sow”…. who planted snowflakes?

Racing against time to get this quadrille in for De Jackson at dVerse, Quadrille #104 – Fix. I was also able to incorporate Patrick’s Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge #223 – Harvest (back on track and continuing my streak!!) as well as, Kate’s Friday Fun Prompt – Worship. I am so pleased with myself for finding the time to write today and get some of my thoughts out on paper. This is my 3rd post for today! I’ve never done that before….maybe it’s because I have to run tonight…..

I’ve been looking into virtual summer camps for my kids today and thinking about what we can focus on for this summer – academics, athletics, or amusement? At the same time, I was reading parenting blogs about how parents are dealing with kids being home all the time during shelter in place. The saying, “You reap what you sow” popped in my head – what summer seeds do I want to sow in my kids that will lead to a “good harvest”? What does a “good harvest” look like?

I’m going to be thinking about this during my run tonight…

©️ 2020 iido

Gesundheit – A Kyoka

The empty bench sighed

Emergent greens cried

Spring’s promise implied

Whisper-soft steps hide

Tissues beside

image
Image credit- Pixabay– Majaranda
(For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a young girl standing next to an old sprawling tree in a park. There is an empty bench in front of her)

This is the first kyoka that I have written, in fact, I hadn’t heard of a kyoka until reading Frank’s Meet the Bar post on dVerse about 5 line Japanese poetry. Frank (not to be confused with this Frank Tassone), who is an expert in English-language, Japanese style poetry, writes that a kyoka like a tanka except the focus is on human nature. He also explains that in order to follow more closely, the Japanese linguistic unit called “mora”, that the syllable count should be between 20-24 and not 31. Challenge accepted!

Did I succeed in taking a lovely picture offered by Sadje’s What do you see Picture Prompt #30 and turning it into a satirical take on human nature? My allergies say, YES! Especially since I was also able to include Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #232 – Emergent into this piece. (I’m still on a streak and it was Patrick’s birthday last weekend!) Do I get bonus points for the unintentional rhyming? The kyoka doesn’t have that requirement but this poem seemed to think it was the “elbow nudge, nudge” it needed.

Spring is definitely here and summer is fast on her heels. School has ended for my kids so we are taking a break from academics and focusing on….nothing for now. This has been hard for me as it seems we “devolve” when we don’t have some sort of structure…however, my kids are not big fans of schedules or “being told what to do”. Of course, they’re not….they are big fans of video games, eating brownies for breakfast, eating breakfast food for any meal other than breakfast, talking to friends on the latest app for hours and seeing how many days can they not shower or brush their teeth before they’re able to smell themselves.

With shelter in place is still in effect, there no summer camps available, the play grounds are still off-limits and our usual summer activities (pool, museums, travel) are all still closed. I worry about how the next two months will go, as I don’t think being in front of electronic screens while eating sugar in all it’s forms is the best idea.

So, I’m giving them through the weekend, then, we’re going to start having suggestions for things to do during the day that needs to be done by a certain time.

A schedule by any other name…is still structure that is needed by children and welcome by mothers!

©️ 2020 iido

Red Cup Revisited – A Double Nonet

The red cup – a fixture in pictures
My focus yet blurred in my mind
Strong and sweet – the fake message
Scared and silenced – the truth
It matched everything
Or so I thought
Remember?
I can
Not
Stop
Drinking
Toss the cup
Where can I drown
This fear of living
Who can I reinvent?
Lost for so long in the mix
I need to climb out of the rocks
Where is the hand holding the red cup?

IMG_5877

Nowadays, the cup I hold is usually a coffee cup and not the ubiquitous red solo cup of parties past. With all the stress that has been brought on by this pandemic, I’ve seen many memes about parents drinking more to deal with the kids being home with them all day, having to help their kids with school work, having to work from home – the list is endless for all the issues that a large glass of red wine (my drink of choice) could fix.

I worry though when I hear my friends joking about drinking at noon after struggling with their kid to do math or about going to the bathroom or closet to get away from their family so they can drink. I have a friend who jokes that once the shelter-in-place is over, they will either need weight watchers or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or both. At least I hope they’re joking.

Because drinking to deal with stress can lead to a drinking problem – especially if the stress is daily and constant and they are drinking daily (and constantly) to deal with it.

Because drinking (whether it is viewed as a problem or not) will affect their parenting including how their child sees (and learns) how to deal with stress.

Because whether it’s eating or drinking, this behavior doesn’t get rid of the problem and in fact, can just exacerbate it.

Yes, I’m speaking from experience. Yes, I feel the pull to fill up a red cup now – especially in light of recent losses and especially after reconnecting with some friends from college who I did a lot of drinking with  (is it weird that we all reconnected because of dealing with this pandemic?).

Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt from two weeks ago asked for poems about “reinvention,” which is what I did – and do – after significant life events.  So, this poem is a reminder, that I am not that college girl anymore and I don’t need a red cup to calm myself, I don’t need a red cup to deal with stress. I have writing…I have running… ….inspiration and perspiration…..

I’m in charge of what my hand will hold….

 

© 2020 iido

Surrender – A Poem for My Cousin

I will stare into your eyes
As the poison drips into my arms
And laugh when I tuck plane tickets
To Europe in my suitcase

I will make faces at you
As I lay on the operating table
And laugh when my shirts are looser
And I see how much weight I’ve lost

I will flip you the finger
As I’m holding my kids
Celebrating graduations and birthdays
And even just regular days

I will slap you as you try to steal
The warmth of my blankets
And the heat of my lover
Wrapped in promises of forever and never

Yet when the time comes
And I know the difference between beignet and brioche
And I’m down to my high school weight
And the kids have gone back to their full lives
And my lover has fallen asleep on the couch

I will look you in the eyes
And smile sweetly
As I beckon you to me
And lay my head on your shoulder
Holding tightly
As you carry me across the threshold

IMG_5681

 

My cousin, Rowena, died in the early morning of Monday, May 11, 2020 after a long fight with breast cancer.  Coincidentally, Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt from last week requested poems responding to the questions, “If you were looking death in the face, what would you remember with joy? Who would you think of fondly? What would you remember sadly?” You can read other thought-provoking responses to her prompt here.  The submissions by Anjum Wasim Dar, Adrian Slonaker, and Mike Stone especially resonated with me this week.

Rowena is my first cousin to pass away. I didn’t think I was in that “season of life” yet, but with the pandemic and the state of our world, maybe it’s time to accept that Death has no season, no time line. It certainly wasn’t the time for Ahmaud Arbery.  I had always thought that if I was confronted by Death, that I would fight and have to be dragged to the grave…now the thought of surrendering to the inevitable, doesn’t seem all that scary…is that thought because of Faith or ignorance or a rational reaction to the hardship of living? I guess I won’t know until I’m looking Death in the face.

 

© 2020 iido

Silly Me – A Quadrille

It was silly of me 

To think it would be 

Different

After we were allowed out

I ran through the streets

Exuberant with

Gratitude

Love 

For surviving

Without what we 

Most cherished

Then realized

I was alone

Because to Others 

I was still nothing

 

img_1799

Image credit: Pixabay- Zhugher
( For visually challenged reader, the photo shows a man, on a pier, in a carefree swinging movement. A body of water is visible in the background.)

Lillian from dVerse requested quadrilles with theme “silly”, however, I could not rise to that challenge with all that has transpired this week weighing on me. Apologies, Lillian! I will try for a more light-hearted poem for next week.

This quadrille was also written for Sadje’s What to do you see? Photo Prompt #28. I had so many thoughts about this picture of a man – is he dancing? just strolling along? I think the background is in NYC, maybe looking into Queens but I am not sure. I have more thoughts about it though, but I have to confess, my mind has been preoccupied.

Finally, Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #231 – Nothing, completes this trifecta. While his “nothing” conjures relaxation and peace, my “nothing” has undertones of anger and hurt. Interesting how “nothing” can actually be more than one thing….

My mind is overwhelmed  yet I am finding it hard to put into words all the thoughts that keep spilling…

I did find this piece of calming inspiration written by Gina on her piece, Temporary.  She writes:

Temporary is here
permanently,
our home on earth is a gift
not a guarantee
isolation is life with a new colour
a temporary home,
one we did not order
nothing we ever deserved……

I have to find a new color to paint this part of my world……

ahmaud run graphic_20200507010413380515

 

© 2020 iido

2.23 – A Tanaga

Sun shines on sweaty black skin

Running rhythm beats within

Happiness shot down, el fin

Racist men have no chagrin

BF3FBB11-7799-44D4-A89C-6EF5D7D9A2F2_1_105_c9AB0690A-5AA2-4624-A1DC-D8C1902DC3EB_1_105_c

I ran 2.23 difficult miles today.

It wasn’t difficult because I don’t like stopping at odd numbers. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one who will walk back and forth at the end of a run if I still need .01 to get to a nice, round number…)

It wasn’t difficult because it was 11:47 PM on a Friday night. (I am a night owl so running just before midnight is not out of the ordinary for me.)

It wasn’t difficult because it was a treadmill run. (Although, I am not a big fan of treadmill running, it’s how I’m getting most of my runs during this shelter in place.)

It was difficult because another young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was killed for doing something that most other people could do without fear – he was going out for a run.

As an Asian, female running in the United States of America, this is what keeps me up at night. Racism is alive and well here. It is more apparent and more prevalent since it’s been given the “all clear” from the highest office in our country.  While the white men, a Father/Son duo, who shot Ahmaud were arrested, they live in an area where they (the two white men who shot an unarmed black man) are well connected with law enforcement and the legal system. Will Ahmaud get justice?  FYI – there are no hate crime laws in Georgia….

This tanaga (while not written in Filipino) is my way of raising consciousness about the unconscionable. #irunwithMaud #blacklivesmatter

ahmaud run graphic_20200507010413380515