Beholder – A Poem

I don’t want you in my view

You who brought these lovely hues

These vibrant strokes now seem obscene

An eruption of all the shades between

.

I want the simple black and white

The easy way to know wrong from right

No questions formed by a grey muddle

All sharp divisions, there’s nothing subtle

.

But I remember your yellow shades

And the pops of red, how they invade

My mind so I had to stop and question

All my beliefs…click! Here’s my deflection

.

I want the simple black and white

The easy way to know wrong from right

My picture is stark, unyielding, that’s true

But I can’t be responsible, if I don’t have a clue

Image Credit- Pixabay- Ariadne-a-mazed
(For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a camera capturing the image of a woman in color, while the rest of the image is in black and white. The woman seems to be holding a sheer veil over her face. The wall behind the camera is covered in graffiti with a large rectangular niche directly in front of the camera and a table to the left of the niche. )

This poem was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt #36. I thought this was an excellent picture as there are so many interpretations as evidenced by the numerous writers and poets who submitted their verses for this prompt.

I originally started this poem and thought it would be about love, how love changes your life, adding color and vibrancy that would be gone once that love is gone. Basically, how it felt when Elvio told me was taking Sally to the 8th grade dance instead of me.

But as I wrote and edited and wrote some more…and as I read and thought about the 4th of July celebrations this weekend… another thought manifested itself into the poem.

Two articles in particular changed the meaning of this poem. The first was this article about “moral rebels”. The second article was about what the 4th of July means to different people, such as Black Americans, Indigenous Americans and immigrants.

There are people who would rather not know what is happening in the world – if it doesn’t affect them, it’s not on their radar. Sometimes they focus on other things in their life. Sometimes they think “ignorance is bliss.” Sometimes they know, yet still chose to ignore.

Our world is filled with so many different colors and shades and hues! We can chose to notice them and marvel at their beauty. Or we can chose to ignore them and live monochromatically. If we chose the latter, what would we be missing?

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein

Note; Apologies to any readers who may be color blind and who might have been hurt/insulted by this post. My metaphor above pertains to race/ethnicity and to nature. In no way do I mean to suggest that people without the physical capacity to see color perpetuate racism or that they are unable to experience the fullness life.

©️ 2020 iido

Transition – A Poem

My daughter is growing hair

You know, “down there”

So we sat and talked about

Transitions

We talked about breasts and deodorant

About mood swings and not smelling rank

We even read a book about

Transitions

My bittersweet thoughts of my girl growing up

Interrupted by her saying that it needs to stop

Because she’s really a boy in

Transition

The feelings she had, now identified

A revelation that she could no longer hide

And so she wanted to

Transition

My bittersweet thoughts turned to fear

This went against beliefs I hold dear

What did I do wrong to warrant

Transition

But this wasn’t about me and my happiness

It was about my sweet child and their completeness

So I took a deep breath and researched

Transition

We went to the doctor and talked to the priest

We went to the mall, to try on clothes, at least

My love for my child would get us though

Transition

Acceptance is hard, some days I’m not there

Bittersweet thoughts in my head still flare

But my child’s on a journey, how can I not care

We can adjust to change, no need to despair

So proud of my child as we begin to prepare for

Transition

Image obtained from WordPress Free Photo Library (first time I’ve used an image from there – there wasn’t any attribution info so I hope this reference is ok).

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #237 – Transition. It is a work of fiction – my children haven’t expressed any gender or sexual preferences so far. I hope that if they do, I would be able to live up to the open acceptance I have characterized in this poem.

I want to believe that human love is unconditional, but I know that isn’t true. Even our love for our children isn’t unconditional – we expect something back, whether it’s obedience or taking care of us in our old age. Still, I hope to show my children that love can transcend and transform any difficult situation.

With the pandemic and calls for racial justice continuing, let’s not forget that this is also Pride Month. Love is love! Intersectionality should be a part of any process seeking true justice and equity.

EDITED 6/22/20 4 PM – I forgot to link this post to Kate’s Friday Fun request for our favorite sayings (this is what happens when inspiration wakes you up at 3 AM!). I don’t actually have a favorite saying, but I do collect sayings that I resonate with me. This saying, I think, was an unconscious inspiration for the poem above:

“Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby- awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

This saying has also made a home in my mind lately. I’m not sure if it’s leasing the space or if it’s there to stay…

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back....” 
― Erica Jong

I hope it’s here to stay….

©️ 2020 iido

Night Sounds – A Quadrille

The whisper of dry leaves

Parting to accommodate the stretching 

Of things growing taller, wider.

The frantic drumming of little hearts

Creating eddies of air

With delicately powerful moonlit wings

Which is louder in the still of the night

When no one is listening?

Image credit- Pixabay
(For visually challenged reader, the image shows a woodland scene, where blue butterflies are sitting on the forest floor among tiny mushrooms. Tall trees are visible in the background)

Two inspirations combined this week for the quadrille above. Mish at dVerse is the host for Quadrille #106 – Drum and Sadje’s “What do you see?” photo challenge #34 provided the photo above.

I loved the peaceful beauty of this photo – exactly what I needed to see with all the turmoil in the world. I could imagine the quiet breath of fluttering wings, the hush of the forest. The human photographer must have waited long time, in silence, in order to catch this photo and not disturb the wonder of nature.

Humans disturb nature in so many ways. Reading the essays in The BeZine made me realize the tremendous impact of human behavior, human self-interest and – dare I say it? – human selfishness, on the destruction of our natural world, the destruction of our brothers and sisters, and ultimately, our own destruction.

There is a saying that I’m sure you’ve seen on nature trails, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” But what if even our footprints destroy the very things that brought us to the nature trail to begin with? We would be able to take those pictures, but the people coming after us would not. Would getting these pictures be worth that destruction?

©️ 2020 iido

Freedom – A Haiku

To have the freedom

To not think of injustice

Sunset privilege

The colors of sunset after a beautiful summer-like day….

This haiku was written for Patrick’s Pic and Word Challenge #236 – Freedom. My head has been pretty preoccupied with all the protests that have been occurring, as well as the usual pandemic news briefings. It’s disconcerting to me in many ways, so I have been trying hard to find the places that I can control and feel effective in what I do. This has been challenging.

The last line of my haiku comes from the history of towns, here in the USA, that prohibited blacks from being in the town after sunset. Of course, this prevented blacks from living in these towns. These towns were called “sundown towns” and are not widely known since this racist policy doesn’t appear in history books, although, I’m sure the black folks who lived near these areas were aware for safety reasons. These towns stayed “all white on purpose” and, until around the 1970s, some had signs saying so. Violence was another way that white residents made clear that blacks and other people of color were not allowed in the area. This PDF from author, James Loewen (who wrote the first and only book about sundown towns in the USA), introduces the history of this phenomenon which still exists to this day.

Besides redlining, sundown towns are another “hidden” aspect of the systemic nature of racism here in the USA. These practices were not written in history books but people – whites and blacks – knew about them. Because they weren’t documented, there was no way for blacks to prove they were being discriminated against. And if they tried to prove it or if they did not follow these written rules, there would be a violent reaction.

This is how racism works for people of color – stay silent or be a target. For white people, racism’s message is – stay silent and enjoy the benefits or you’ll be a target as well.

This is why we need to be raise our voices and our actions to be ANTI-Racist. Being passively against racism is how racism exists. This passivity includes saying the right words, even believing in equality, but not doing anything about it.

I live in a white neighborhood – there is only one other Asian family that lives in our whole entire neighborhood. On our cul-de-sac with six families, I know there are three families that support the current president who has shown support for racist attitudes. I bought the sign below:

Will freedom of speech be extended to us? We’ll see when the sun goes down….

©️ 2020 iido

Rant – A Poem

I could rant about the boredom

About not being able to eat at the crepe place

Or get my nails done to match the front door

I could rant about the kids 

Running around inside then outside, being loud

And disturbing the neighbors working from home

I could rant about the heat 

And not being able to go to the beach

Or to Disney for the first time

I could rant, but I won’t

I can’t

When families are made newly homeless through job loss

When food pantries are not getting enough donations as their lines get longer

When parents are risking their lives for $7.25 an hour

When some kids don’t have an outside

When some kids can’t be loud or else

When black bodies are pitted against blue bodies

When black bodies are killed and will never get to go to Disney

My immigrant, light skinned Asian, college educated, middle class, suburban stay at home mother runner rant is bullshit.

Because I can still breathe when others cannot.

New House in the Suburbs, Paul Klee
1924 – National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #235 – Rant. I have also incorporated a Wednesday Writing Prompt from Jamie Dedes’ that she posted on April 22, 2020 that used the picture above as a starting point. I wasn’t able to write anything for that prompt then, but the picture has stayed with me so I am glad to be able to use it now.

I really liked the haziness of this painting – it reminds me of the images/ideas I had in my head about the kind of house I would live in when I grew up. I wanted a symmetrical house, with a weeping willow in the yard, maybe a pond close by. There would be a swing under the weeping willow and in the fenced in yard, there would be apple trees and flowers. And of course, there would be birds flying under the yellow sun with a few puffy clouds overhead.

I lived on the first floor of a duplex in Brooklyn when I envisioned my “grown up home”. We had a little yard in the back that was usually overgrown with weeds despite our attempts to grow vegetables and flowers. The kitchen was all the way in the back, so you had to pass through all the rooms to get to the back of the house. I would ride my bike up and down the street on the sidewalk, from our house to Aunt Rita’s house – that’s as far as my mom would let us. Sometimes, we would go to the bodega at the end of the block to get treats or get some plantains for a quick and yummy afternoon snack.

My kids have never lived in the type of place I lived in growing up. They’ve only known single family homes in the suburbs with decent yards and two or more bathrooms. They all are currently obsessed with living in tiny homes when they grow up, that they would park in our driveway so we can all still have dinner together as a family.

All my dreams of living in a spacious house have been reversed with my children’s dream of living in a home smaller than my childhood Brooklyn home. The irony.

As I write this in my typical American suburban kitchen with granite countertops, I am acutely aware of what I have, that others don’t. Yes, I know my husband and I worked hard to afford to be “comfortable”; that our parents also worked hard so we can live “better” then they did. But I know we had help – social supports, financial resources and a systemic societal advantage of being stereotyped as the “model minority”.

At least, I used to see it as an advantage. After much reading (check out this article and this one), I realized that any type of stereotype is still a stereotype and is actually a disadvantage. Also, the whims of racism can change quickly and harshly as evidenced by the rise of anti-Asian sentiments with the arrival of the coronavirus that has been named by some as the “Chinese virus”.

So while I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I still have experienced racism:

  • I’ve been accused of stealing at the local grocery store numerous time (to the point that I go to a different store farther way in a more diverse neighborhood just so I don’t have to worry about being “randomly audited” when I shop – because it isn’t random if it’s always and only me)
  • I’ve been called racial slurs as I’ve been out running
  • I’ve felt afraid going to a new place and realizing I was the only non-white person there and getting those looks that tell me I don’t belong

The thing with racism is that it erases the individual – that all important staple of American exceptionalism. You don’t see my struggles and triumphs. You don’t know about the awards I’ve won or that my closet with pants sizes ranging from college to pregnancy. You aren’t aware that I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or of my passionate conviction that Heinz is the best and only ketchup in the world. You don’t know that I dreamt of a house with a willow tree in the front.

But because I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I need to use that advantage to help those who were not as fortunate (through no fault of their own). Otherwise, I will be just as complicit in perpetuating racism.

Rant over.

©️ 2020 iido

The Good, The Bad and the Horrendous – May 2020 Runfession #10

Wednesday was Global Running Day. I usually love this day as it reminds me of how unifying and life changing running can be. However, this year, running (like so many other things) seems to have gone down a notch or two on the priority pole. There are more important things to pay attention to like black lives, like navigating the new normal of pandemic life, like black lives, like black lives, like black lives…

I runfess….I love SRTT/MRTT but there are some other great great women only running groups out there! I participated in the Mermaid 24 hour relay (check out my review here). I ended up doing 3 “fins” (aka “legs”) – one at midnight, then at 3AM and 3:30 AM (I was still up anyway). I only walked the latter two but it was cathartic to be part of something bigger. 

I runfess….I didn’t hit the 100 mile goal for our SRTT/MRTT May Miles Challenge.  I’ve been really lax about getting my runs/walks in despite signing up for the Peloton App (which is really fabulous, BTW, if you’re into high energy people encouraging and motivating you in an almost annoying “are you really that excited about working out? I’m pretty sure you are..now I have to work out” type of way).  I thought I wasn’t going to make it then realized, I was really only 14 miles miles away from the 75 mile mark. So on the last day, I just went and ran 14 miles broken up over the course of the day.  Not bad, but not good either! I’ve been hurting all week.  Lesson to be learned – consistency is important!

I runfess…I did the Run for Maud but it isn’t enough. I’ve been thinking about how else to support the current protests for racial equality.  For me, it’s less about “bad cops” – my brother is cop and he is a good person and his other cop friends are all good people – and more about fixing the misunderstanding among cops regarding their role in society. 

Do you remember “A Few Good Men”? Not the part with the famous line but the one that comes at the end – the one that really says, what the role is of the military and the police (in my opinion) – check it out here.

Police officers are sworn to protect the public trust and to hold themselves and others accountable. They, like other organizations, have a Code of Ethics that their members need to adhere to (see a fuller version here).  Some police officers have already realized that there needs to be change.

But the larger picture is racial inequality and systemic racism that is inherent in our society.  It’s the reason why white people are allowed to protest WITH GUNS to re-open the economy  but black and brown people aren’t allowed to protest at all.  

Running also isn’t devoid of racism as these articles can attest to – check out these articles from Runners’ World: here, here and here.  Racism is horrendous in it’s insidiousness. That’s why the first step to being anti-racist is to notice the racism around us in all it’s forms. The second and harder step is deciding what YOU are going to do about it.

I don’t have the answers and I can’t begin to process while my heart is still hurting. But one thing that I have learned from running – the more you do it, the better you get at it.  The more we are actively anti-racist, the better we will be. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Thanks again to Marcia for headlining the monthly Runfession.

©️ 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 …

Writers Rally Against Anti-Asian Hatred Amid Pandemic; May 27, United Against Hate: An Online Day of Solidarity — The BeZine

“We realize that this anti-Asian sentiment comes alongside an equally troubling uptick in xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Black violence,” said writer and PEN America Trustee Min Jin Lee. “This is a clarion call that all forms of racist hatred, especially at this moment, are unwelcome, unacceptable, and intolerable. As writers, we reckon with the power […]

Writers Rally Against Anti-Asian Hatred Amid Pandemic; May 27, United Against Hate: An Online Day of Solidarity — The BeZine

Please read the article and sign the petition. Thank you to Jamie Dedes for amplifying this important endeavor. Racism in all it’s forms must not be tolerated.

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