Monday, July 17, 2017

Blog of the Week - Mary's Thoughts in Troubled Times

In recent months, our very own Mary has written some stirring poems about the changes in daily life in the USA since November. I share her concern over these changes and her yearning for the way things used to be. I asked her if she would share a few of them with us, and happily she said yes. Let's dive in.





Sherry: Mary, in recent months, since the election, I notice that many of your poems have taken on political tones. This is the case with many of us who are distressed at how things are going under the new regime.  Would you like to tell us about this change in your writing? 

Mary:  Well, to be truthful, I really was never politically active before.  I paid attention to the news but had confidence, for the most part, that things would work out and that those in Washington D.C. and our state government had the best interests of their constituents at heart. I can no longer rest easily. 

I fear the influence of big money.  (I suggest the book Dark Money by Jane Mayer if people really want to know how billionaires have maliciously and purposefully furthered their agenda in this country.) 

I am not sure what I can accomplish and sometimes feel very powerless, but I feel compelled to do something.  To make telephone calls.  To attend ‘town halls.’  And, I guess, writing poetry is sometimes a safety valve for me, even though sometimes I wish I could ‘escape’ with my poetry rather than continuing to stress out in words.

Sherry: I applaud your many phone calls to legislators. I am sure they have some effect. I was moved by your poem “Yearning for Ordinary.” Let’s take a look:



We take ordinary for granted
don't realize how extraordinary it is
until slowly methodically
it is being eaten away

Under cover of night
civil rights are rolled back
right wing agenda
moving into place

And everyone still smiles
as if life's the same
we dance with the devil
who waits with his chains

While environment is ruined
and big banks hold sway
and education is forsaken
and healthcare denied

We take ordinary for granted
don't realize how extraordinary it is
until slowly methodically
it is gone and too late.





Sherry: We all yearn for ordinary these days, when each news broadcast brings more bad news. Just ordinary, everyday life, as we lived it before November, seems like a dream to me, now.

We don't want to be political. We would far rather live our lives peacefully, trusting that our leaders have our best interests at heart. But, when they clearly don't, we have little choice but to speak up.

Tell us about your poem, won’t you, and how you felt writing it?

Mary:   I wrote it when I was thinking back 3 years, 6 years, 10 years and thinking about the way things were then & the things I took for granted.  I took for granted that protection for the environment was a universal goal, for example.  I took for granted that women  had control over their own bodies (though even then there were people who wanted to take this away).  

I had taken for granted that there were checks and balances in our government that would work. I had believed that everyone supported freedom of the press. I had believed that no government would tamper with public education.  I could go on and on. 

Sherry: I trusted those checks and balances too. Clearly, they are not working now. 

Mary: As I wrote this poem I realized that there are a large number of people in this country (and in others) who just go about their lives without reflecting on the direction we are heading.  Many people think it will not really affect them. Many people are willing to ‘dance with the devil’ (see poem below) either through apathy, feelings of helplessness, or blind trust. I wonder what it will take for people to wake up and see that government (and life) as we know it is being dismantled one step at a time.

Sherry: There isn't a person alive on the planet who isn't now, or soon will be, feeling the effects of climate change. The new policies and changes occurring now will affect many millions in your country very soon. I think people will be waking up with a jolt.

Your poem “Justice” is another with which I resonate strongly.


JUSTICE

Justice is only as good
as the judge.

Justice depends on
facts revealed.

Justice can be too harsh
for a penitent person.

Justice can be too soft
for a mass murderer.

Justice does not chastise
those who are above the law.

Justice should be
impartial but isn’t.

Even terrorists
believe in justice.

In wars both sides
believe in justice.

Without laws would
justice exist?

Justice for all
means what?

Sherry: I keep remembering Benjamin Creme's quote: "There can be no peace without social justice." The lack of compassion in the changes being made will result in a lot of suffering, a lot of civil unrest. 

Mary:  I wrote this poem when reflecting on what is happening with the judicial system in this country.  I fear what will happen with our Supreme Court and Circuit Courts, as they are filled (by this administration) with people who would like to get rid of the Roe vs. Wade decision and make all abortion totally illegal again, (as well as not paying for women’s birth control) & with those who are against LGBT rights and protections.  

I fear also that many of the things that are happening clandestinely outside of the judiciary are so subtle (like information being removed from government web sites) that most will not take note.  I fear for the undocumented & cry for their heartless treatment.  And, of course, feel almost powerless in the way that healthcare is being taken away or made prohibitively expensive - especially for the poor or the aged.  But actually for everyone except the very rich.  I definitely worry about justice right now.
  
Sherry: I agree. They distract us with some nonsense that keeps the media busy while in the background democracy is being dismantled, good things undone. Just days after the election, vitally important information representing years of study and compilation disappeared off websites. We don't even know what is being destroyed at agency levels.

I love so many of your recent poems. ("Weeks Go By", "We the People", "I Will Celebrate Today" – I especially love this one!) Would you like to choose a third poem and tell us about it?



I try to smile more than frown
read books and take walks
visit current museum exhibits
enjoy menus of new restaurants.

I search out recent movies
take a country drive
check offerings on public television
ponder recipes in a new cookbook.

I try to think Easter lilies
jelly beans and chocolate bunnies
grass greening as robins chirp
as it should be the season of hope.

I try to appreciate each day
as if life was still normal.


Mary: I wrote this poem basically as advice to myself (and others).  Despite all, we do have to try to find things in our lives to enjoy.  We have to appreciate the good and also to try to bring happiness to others in our lives.  We have to find a way to put our concerns aside and find enjoyment in each day.  We have only one life.  We have only today.  We need to strive make our life and our day a good one.

Sherry: There is always much to enjoy and be grateful for, in our daily lives. Now, more than ever, we do need to appreciate them, and take what pleasure and comfort we can.

In closing, I would love to include your poem “My Song for Today”, which offers us a road-map through the evening news, when we put our faith in ourselves, the good things in our lives, and our God.







When I had no happiness,
the sunrise was my joy.
When I had no time,
I threw away my watch.

When I had no friends,
I walked with my dogs.
When I had no sleep,
solitude was my rest.

When I had no youth
I conjured myself sage.
When I had no voice,
poetry gave me words.

When I had no love, my
granddaughter gave a hug.
When I had no dreams
I learned to enjoy the dark.

When I have no faith
I act as if I do.
When I have no peace
I rest in my God.






Mary: I was feeling at peace and in a positive place when I wrote this poem, Sherry.  It is one of my recent favorites too.  One I should remind myself to read each day.  Smiles.

Sherry: It warms my heart, Mary. And thank God for dogs! They're God's messengers, who teach us what unconditional love truly is.

Thank you, Mary, for this encouraging chat. I hope our readers feel as uplifted as I do, after reading it. And thank you for all you do, keeping Poets United serenely chugging along all these years. 

Well, friends? We hope you enjoyed this. Feel welcome to join the conversation in the comments. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! 


47 comments:

  1. I resonate with this discussion and poetry so much I felt I was sitting there with you. Wonderful, horrible, crucial ... I had to pause here: " . . . I wrote it when I was thinking back 3 years, 6 years, 10 years and thinking about the way things were then & the things I took for granted. I took for granted that protection for the environment was a universal goal, for example. I took for granted that women had control over their own bodies .... etc." Me too! I thought our government budget and offices were set up to lead us in the right direction. To deliberately appoint people to destroy them is a mind bender. I took too much for granted. Your poems keep me company, Mary (and Sherry, too).

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    1. Thank you, Susan. It is so disillusioning when one sees that one's government is doing more destruction than working in a positive direction. Things that I had taken for granted are no longer true. I feel like we all have to fight to keep our heads above water now. So tragic and frightening.

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  2. One always had the feeling governments had the peoples' best interests at heart. I pray we get back to that at the next election. But it will take a long time to undo the damage being done.

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    1. That's the thing, Sherry. So much damage can be done so quickly, and how to ever change things back again....I pray that some other countries and their leaders (such as Trudeau, Macron, Merkel) hold things together and stay strong.

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  3. It's always good to read your work Mary - thanks to both

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  4. Thank you both for speaking clearly into today's reality. Your words are encouraging and strengthening to all of us. The fight continues and we need to remember the very real reasons we must employ our skills in this ongoing battle.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Yes, we do, Elizabeth....and perhaps in a small way our poetry can keep us motivated to keep up the fight.

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  5. Sadly a division is being formed between those that have and those that require much like the Roman system of Patricians and Plebians. The patricians are quite careless of everyone but themselves, including us, wild animals, the forests, all natural resources, the land, the sea and of course the ice-caps which if melted would swamp so much low lying cities and countries. All we can do is keep spreading the message that we must keep the whole Earth safe even if it is at the expense of a few at the top who need understand or removed from office or in the case of industrialists the boycott of their products.

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    1. Oops! I hadn't quite finished. Thank you so much Mary and Sherry for this great article which is so important to us all.

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    2. Yes, Robin - the comparison with the world of today with the world of Rome before its fall seems apt. I do not understand why those with money and influence aren't willing to use their power to aid the environment and the humans and creatures of this world rather than (some anyway) actively work against them.

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    3. Robin, boycotting products is a good suggestion. Finance is the only language they pay attention to.

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    4. I really can't understand the short-sightedness of the selfish and greedy, not to realise that they can't be separate – what destroys the rest of us will destroy them too.

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  6. Thank you, Sherry, for featuring my humble poems. I appreciate this very much.

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    1. I appreciate YOU, Mary, for allowing me to feature you. Thank you so much.

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  7. A fascinating interview. Thank you so much for this, Sherry and Mary. I think, children are raised to move through life politely - giving folks the benefit of the doubt - that this is the way that 'civilized' society functions. Sadly, we find ourselves in perilous times, when the non-confrontational respect that is conferred upon those who lead, is being using against those - on whose behalf they claim to be governing. It is a sad, sad, betrayal. The rules have been changed. And we - the people - must change our long-held passive notions that - if we just go along - (at the end of the day) 'all will be well'. It has become clear: it won't. Thank you Mary (and Sherry, too), for sounding (and continuing to sound) the charge. If there is to be any hope of a return to kinder days - it lies in the resolve and courage of people who cry: FOUL!!!

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    1. I think you are right here, Wendy. In these times the non-confrontational respect for those who (claim to) lead yields nothing positive. We have to find a way to shake it up & get our countries on the right paths again. I think of people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and the way they resisted. We really do need some strong and charismatic resistance leaders nowadays. But, one way or another, we do have to keep our courage & not just give in.

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    2. I like your noting of Martin Luther King and Gandhi,who demonstrated one strong person of conviction can lead a movement of resistance and overcome enormous odds. I'd add Mandela to that list as well. Leaders count on a passive populace. That is why they keep us busy focusing on the up-front stuff while in the background, they are slashing safeguards and programs, and laughing all the way to the bank. I loved the uprisings right after the election. I think we need more of them.

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  8. We have to have political consciousness for the welfare of the society otherwise there will be devil's dance. Recent happenings all over the world point to the blindness of the mass. Those who choose not to see while having eyes are responsible for the catastrophe. I have seen educated people absolutely engrossed in their own affairs not voting. And at this phase of time capitalism is almost in its final chapter. So there will be more oppression, greed, trade will be smeared with blood, more war, more ammunition etc. etc. & a perfect hell.
    Amidst all this our hope is on WORDS. Pen was, is and will be mightier than sword always. And Mary, each of your poems is a beacon of truth, showing present times and stirring the sleeping conscience.
    This interview is so enriching and fulfilling. Thank you Sherry and Mary.

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    1. Oh, I do hope that capitalism is not in its final chapter, but the way things are going....well, I hope we can stem the tide; but if we are to do it, I think we have to do it soon. I know my country is not alone in this, and indeed it is sad to see so many leaders turn their backs and their hearts on society as a whole - just so they can put more $$ in their pockets. Let us keep hope though....we have to.

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  9. Excellent interview, as always, and excellent poems! I'm a big fan of Mary's poetry for its clarity, immediacy, and unobtrusive craft. These in particular encapsulate widespread current concerns and convey them in a way we can all relate to.

    There have long been predictions that we would experience much chaos and the breakdown of our monetary systems – as the pre-requisite for ushering in a Golden Age. If the first part of that prediction is indeed happening, may the second come soon!

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    1. Thank you, Rosemary. I had never taken the chaos theory seriously...but it seems right now we are in the beginning stages of what could be chaos. I don't have any confidence it will lead to a Golden Age though. More like the Dark Ages with so much science denial, etc. I keep hoping for a reversal somehow.

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  10. Excellent interview, ladies. All of this really resonated with me. Every day seems to bring worse news, and I feel terrified and powerless. I, too, am calling my legislators. "My Song for Today" was just what I needed this morning. Thank you.

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    1. Glad you are calling your legislators too. I should have mine on "speed dial," as there is so much to telephone about. Nationally, as well as state issues. I think many of us have the feeling of powerlessness. I keep hoping the tide will turn, that those in power will wake up. There is so much good that could be done with the Big Money if only it would be used for good rather than support of political campaigns.

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  11. I loved the interview and each of Mary's poems!!! Yes we are all in a termoil, and Mary's poetry helps. We are each in conflict! Greed isn't pretty.

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    1. I am glad you find my poetry helpful, Annell. I just write what I think and feel. And indeed greed is NOT pretty.

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  12. You have a strong and beautiful heart Mary, that is why you are moved to action not just in your poetry but in calling your legislators. I love the honesty and heart in these poems you shared here. I especially love "Yearning for Ordinary"! I am so glad I got a chance to stop by here today. Thank you for another wonderful interview Sherry.

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    1. So good to see you, Carrie! I am not moved to action as much as I wish I were, Carrie....but I think if each of us does even a little bit perhaps we can collectively make a difference. My weapon of choice is the telephone call. It doesn't take much time, and ripples eventually turn into waves!

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  13. Thank you so much, Sherry for featuring Mary this week!❤️ Beautiful, beautiful poetry here I must say and such that give rise to the emotions raging in our hearts.. these are difficult times and I believe strongly that we WILL get through them. Thank you Mary for being an inspiration to us all.❤️


    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. I haven't written political poetry until the latest political cycle, Sanaa. But, as you said, these are difficult times. It is pretty much all I can write about these days. I do hope we all get through them - for the sake of the following generations & for the sake of the world (global warming, etc.)

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  14. Absolutely beautiful Mary! And as usual Sherry I loved the interview. These poems seem where my head and heart have been headed. I don't write political poems either but many are brimming to be told these days from my core....and you have inspired me to let them out.

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    1. Donna, I do hope you let them out. If they are 'brimming' there, they should be written. I have decided that if people don't agree with my poetry they can pass on by. Sometimes words do need to be spoken, not hidden inside.

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    2. Donna, I do hope you add your voice to the conversation. The more of us who do, the more awareness might spread, perhaps moving others to speak out as well. When we cannot Accept, we must Resist.

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    3. I have one coming next weekend....it is just the beginning as I process through family things right now....I have been resisting and working my voice in other ways but it is needed now to put those words out for all to see.

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  15. We all have to find our way through these terrible times. I am glad when I see poets who speak political truth--especially when our officials can't seem to find it--These all resonated with me--

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    1. Audrey, indeed truth sometimes seems so 'elusive.' I think that truth has lost its way lately, and I pray it will return.

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  16. We are all desperately searching, yearning, hoping to find the ordinary once again. Your feelings are echoed here in the US, and all over the world. I try to find joy in little things each day. My dogs provide love, laughter, and compassion. At night, I ruminate over what the next awful distortion of facts the bluebird will tweet next. Your poetry is inspiring, with a simple honesty I can relate to in these times. Thanks so much, Mary for sharing your words and thoughts with us, and to you, Sherry, ever the expert interviewer.

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    1. I do think we do have to find joy. I try to do this as well and am succeeding more lately than I was earlier. I have decided to do what I can do, and that is all I can do. Like you, I enjoy my dogs; we have to find pleasure in our daily lives & cannot allow ourselves to be downhearted all of the time. I too watch what the bluebird tweets. My goodness - what has the presidency become.

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  17. I knew your poems would resonate with so many, Mary, and am so glad you agreed to this feature. Thank you to everyone who joined in the discussion. I pray for better news and better days ahead. Surely, we cannot continue on this downhill trend for much longer.

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    1. I do hope there will be even a small sign that the downward trend is reversing....we must stay on the lookout for that!

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  18. Some profound words of dark times Lets hope for a better future

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  19. Such an interesting interview...thanks Mary and Sherry. Mary, have been reading all your poems on the US political scene recently and I like how you've said here that you feel compelled to respond both with action and poetry.

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    1. Thank you. I think that action and poetry can perhaps work in tandem. That is my hope.

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  20. Luv your beautiful smile Mary, keep smiling

    It's good refund again so many of your stirring Writes. Thanks for the close up Sherry

    Much love...

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  21. One really has to have their head somewhere not too bright to think climate change isn't a thing. I'm not saying it's as bad as some go on about, but it's there. Being all humdrum and taking that away is dumb. But oh, the Russians are bad. Meanwhile let's destroy everything over here while no one is looking. Bunch of rich douchebags.

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  22. Thank you Sherry for a wonderful glimpse of poetic Mary (and her feisty, geo-political side :) A well respected voice.
    ZQ

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