January Open Write

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

It’s already Wednesday, Inauguration Day. I have refrained from watching the news the last couple of days because of lots of other daytime and evening commitments. This morning I woke up thinking about this post and a poem I didn’t write yesterday. Since it’s still Tuesday in parts of the U.S., I got up writing a poem about walls.

The world is due for a big change after one more sleep for the United States. I’m praying for justice and walls to come down during the next administration.

I am also posting my “Walls” poem and other that I’ve been trying to keep up with this week on Ethical ELA.

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone!

19 January 2021
Mindful Walking with Stacey Joy

Walls

I walk mindfully
around the cemetery
and I see a wall

Separating us–
the living from the dead. Are
they also mindful?

My mind jumps across
Earth’s span to U.S.
politics and walls

Divides us from
All our neighbors to the south–
At least in spirit

Confines refugees
Hoping for a new start, but
Not life in a cage

Restricts a future
Hope that independents will
Bring some sanity

Splits up lawmakers–
MAGAs versus those who think
insurrection’s bad

Breaks up Washington
Protecting democracy
From rebels within

Fortifies the White
Supremacy legacy–
Make her great, again?

Encloses our hearts
Against the madness and fear
Will we trust again?

Crumbles under the
Weight of justice served up to
All of God’s children

18 January 2021
One Word with Stacey Joy

Gratefully
I open the letter
ever-flowing and
breathed by you

Gratitude
for love,
life,
learning

Gratefully
I sit at the seashore
and chew on the manna

Gratitude
for sustaining,
up-ending,
building

Gratefully
Gratefully
Gratefully

Welcoming the
flow of justice,
ever-flowing justice

17 January 2021
Evidence with Susie Morice
Read Susie’s poem called “Thin Ice” to take a sad journey with her (at the link above).

Buttermilk

Today’s sky was covered in buttermilk–
streaked, like the sides of a
finished glass of it.

I thought of my childhood when
three generations of relatives
sat around the table
eating beans and cornbread. Earlier
ancestors hailed from Georgia,
so we still remembered–
after dinner everyone got
a tall glass of buttermilk
so they could crumble another
piece of cornbread
in and eat it
with an iced tea spoon. Meandering
rivulets, like today’s clouds,
ran down the glasses as we finished.

Today’s buttermilk sky was
a welcome winter anomaly. I didn’t see
buttermilk white, but instead I saw passionless
smoky curdles. Gray tinged
with subtle pinks as the sun tried
to push through the foggy undertones.

Skies are small here. City buildings
take up a lot of room. Today’s
buttermilk sky was stunted,
and as I walked to school
between buildings,
trying to glimpse more of the soured sky,
I thought back to the giant skies
above Iowa’s farmland. Now there
was a place one
could get lost in the sweet sky–
Cirrus, stratus, cumulus
galore. The sky was
generous and gracious
and made room for all. Layers
and layers of clouds
fill the heights, depths,
and breadth of the expanse
in every direction, in
every shade of white
they dance across the azure sky

Thinking of buttermilk
and big skies
made me home sick today.

16 January 2021
Conversations with Susie Morice

Wisdom

The moon held me in her gaze tonight
as I walked through the city.
She asked me why I didn’t
pay closer attention to her
(sometimes I don’t notice her at all)
but here she was
on full display
even amid the screaming
glare and clutter of the city lights.
Her heart was full, and her
body was a sweet smiling sliver.

She spoke to me kindly, and
asked if I had any questions for her.

Yes, I did, and right there
in the busy street,
I poured out my questions.

Luna, you’re just a toddler today,
Do your cheeks hurt with that ear-to-ear beam?

How do you keep track of all your phases?
Which one is your favorite?

Did you have ears to hear the spoken Word
that made you ruler of the night sky?

Do you give quick comebacks for
jumping cow and green cheese jokes?

When Jesus was born, how did you feel
being subordinate to that bright star?

How powerful is it to ripple the oceans
with your constant pull on the earth?

How many wars have you seen?
How many rapes have your eyes endured?

Do you wish you had wind?
Have you ever seen an alien?

How many night skies have you lit up?
How many skinny dippers have made you blush?

Did you weep when the astronauts
left their footprint on you?

She answered me,
indulging me with her serene replies.

I continued, hoping for more wisdom…

How did we ever elect that man?
He’s made such a…

That’s enough, dear, she interrupted,
Get along now.

Thankful for the Vaccine

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

I was very happy when the vaccines began to be approved and used around the world. At the time when they started, though, I didn’t think of getting one myself.

But yesterday was our turn.  We went to one of the big government hospitals and received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I felt so thankful and humble. This sweet country of Bahrain has such a big heart and a plan to help us all stay healthy.

To watch the way everyone worked so diligently to make it happen was really touching.

I know we still have a long way to go until this is over. I’ll keep social distance and wear my mask for as long as I need to, but today I feel hope and gratitude.

An Epiphany for the U.S.A.

Wednesday’s coup attempt happened on the day of Epiphany, when Jesus, the Light of the world is made known. On this same Epiphany day, more white Americans had an epiphany–a sudden and powerful manifestation of the truth, power, and ugliness of our white supremacist foundation.

On an Instagram post about some antiracist books I had been reading, my cousin commented about racism and white supremacy, with these words: “The world has a lot of problems, but I feel like this particular problem is at the root of all others.

This was two years ago, and prior to her comment I had not considered the fact that it affected everything. Now, every time something else happens I think back to her comment and believe it even more. We saw it again yesterday.

The ridiculously unprepared police force at the U.S. Capitol and how these mostly white domestic terrorists were treated starkly contrasts with this summer’s police brutality against Black Lives Matter protestors (mostly black).

The only good thing we can say about the trump years is that we have had five years of the racism pot at a rolling boil, spilling and burning all over the whole country. The simmering under the surface had been harder to pay attention to.

Here’s another metaphor: Instead of living decade after decade in a country marked by general malaise about race relations, we have to acknowledge the five years we have lived with projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. White people can’t ignore the symptoms anymore, can no longer say it’s just a stomach ache, suck it up. White supremacy has reared its ugly head and we have seen it.

Wednesday was Epiphany, the day in the Christian church when we celebrate the revelation, the unveiling to the world of Christ’s deity, the light of the world. It is the commemoration of the magi arriving to worship Jesus. Yes, they came from afar, fell down and worshipped, giving valuable gifts, all to Jesus, a toddler.

So perhaps it is fitting that the whole world received a divine epiphany on Wednesday, a sudden and powerful manifestation of the truth and power of our white supremacist foundation in the U.S. On Epiphany, at his rally trump supporters were encouraged to go to trial by combat and mob the U.S. Capitol. Later after the violence, looting, pillaging and desecration the mob was told by trump, “You are loved. You’re all very special.”

Thursday, a day late, I celebrated Epiphany and the Light of the world, Jesus. I decided to have an Epiphany tree for awhile. Today I am grateful that many white people may have received a clear epiphany for the first time. They have seen unquestionably that white supremacy affects everything and we must all work to dismantle it. May God give us strength to keep fighting.

I decided to have an Epiphany tree after taking down the Christmas tree.

Patriots

Slice of Life for today at TwoWritingTeachers.org

Yesterday I listened to the whole one-hour phone call by our disgraced president to Georgia election officials, with attorneys present. If you haven’t listened, here he is, the resident of the White House:

Then later in the day I watched the complete press conference with Gabriel Sterling, voting systems election official, from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.

When I watch them both, it is obvious there are not two sides to this issue. What can we make of this coup attempt? How can there be any doubts?

Regarding a lying, debunked Q-Anon conspiracy theory, trump said this:

So tell me, Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this. And it’s going to be very costly in many ways. And I think you have to say that you’re going to reexamine it, and you can reexamine it, but reexamine it with people that want to find answers, not people that don’t want to find answers.

It’s going to be costly, yes. Costly to the inhumane, racist and misogynist system that America was built upon. Hopefully, these last four years have opened the eyes of enough Americans that we will keep paying the costly price for a better future.

And, Brad, we just want the truth. It’s simple. And everyone’s going to look very good if the truth comes out. It’s okay. It takes a little while, but let the truth come out. And the real truth is, I won by 400,000 votes. At least. That’s the real truth. But we don’t need 400,000 votes. We need less than 2,000 votes.

Yes to the truth! Truth has been knocking on the door of the system for centuries, and trump has made it knock louder and with more urgency than it did before. He doesn’t want Truth; he just wants to be declared the winner.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Martin Luther King, Jr., observed with expectation. He was co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Today millions of Georgians are voting for Raphael Warnock, who is currently serving as senior pastor of Ebenezer. That is such a beautiful step forward.

We are living in history, and someday we’ll look back on this historic chapter and hopefully be able to say that the moral arc took a big lean toward Truth and justice in this era.

I do not believe that anyone in power is objecting to the election in good faith. These people cannot really believe the lies over the diligent work of Republicans Brad Raffensberger and Gabriel Sterling, who are showing that they are the real patriots here. The twelve senators and 140 representatives who on Wednesday choose to exploit the president’s mental illness for their own selfish ends will go down in history, and not in a good way.

If you are one who still believes the election was stolen, I would love to hear why.

 

Break-Up Letter to 2020

Dear 2020,

I am thankful we made it this far, but I am going to say goodbye today. We are finished.

Thankfully,

Denise

When I chose my one word for 2020, time, it was partly because I never had enough. I was never able to accomplish everything (hardly anything it seemed) on my to-do list. I think it had more to do with the fact that I am a teacher than that I was lazy or unproductive.

Ironically, though, early in the year I had more time than I needed. We were sent home from school on February 26, 2020. Learning online continued, and it was stressful at times, but time became much more plentiful. I did manage to achieve some of my hopes for 2020–like doing the NYT mini puzzle each day and taking a one-second video each day. (OK, I know!) But a big hope for me was to be more intentional about building relationships and leadership in those I work with. And, thankfully, this has been a definite highlight.

There were other hopes I did not reach. For instance, I haven’t finished my TESOL certificate or read 40 books in 2020. Why was it that 2020 was not a good reading year? I wondered quite often.

However, I spent some of my 2020 time on things that were not even on my list from last year, ideas that pre-covid were unheard of and/or long-neglected in my life.

  • I learned to cook with spices.
  • I have been exercising and lost 30 extra pounds that did not need to be on my body.
  • I took better care of my mental health.
  • I edited the videos for 40 online worship services for church.
  • I wrote more than 75 poems and more than 150 blog posts.
  • I have not gotten covid-19.

For all these things I am grateful. Since I’ve been practicing thankfulness when I wrote some gratiku and a poem about gratitude in November, I thought giving thanks is a worthy yearlong plan (or longer).

So, for 2021, I am choosing to be thankful, to say thank you every day to my God and to the people around me and in my life. Life is short, and I can’t always be productive. I’m going to embrace life and say thank you for it, even while I keep working for love, peace, change, and justice. While I work, and even when I’m unproductive, my one word for 2021 is Gratitude.

One word for 2021 --gratitude written on a canvas setting on a small easel
My one word for 2021

Images: Hour glass timer by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Thank you blocks by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Other one word posts
Voice
Fit
Serenity
Hope
Sow
Time

The Isolation Journals Prompt 122 by Ezra Bookman
Choose one bit of gunk you want to get rid of, something you don’t want to carry with you into 2021. A negative thought you use to put yourself down, a limiting belief or bad habit. Some idol in your inner temple that’s holding your light back from the world. Write it a goodbye letter, as if you’re breaking up with it.