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November – A Poem About the School Year

November 29, 2016

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I spent most of my life living the rhythms of the school year. November was always difficult. Here’s a poem I wrote a number of years ago when I was still teaching.

November in School

In November, everything crashes –
files are lost,
cars slide into each other,
suiciding squirrels shut down generators
and I
am late for school.

In November, people weep –
assignments fail,
teachers and students snarl,
work done is less than hoped,
and more,
much more, is required.

In November, we fear –
even if Christmas ever comes,
even if spring only hides behind
the winter we have to endure,
we have lost
whatever we came here to find.

Bleak Joy

November 22, 2016

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a tangle of bare, black branches
against a cloud-curdled sky:
bleak joy.

Soldier Susan

November 12, 2016

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Many years ago, looking at my tendancy towards martydom in the face of emotional abuse, I wrote this poem. Somehow, this week it feels appropriate to post it.

Soldier Susan
springs forth
to protect
against wounding
against obliteration.

“Quiet,” she says,
“Quiet, there is
nothing
you
can do.

Do nothing, and
maybe, maybe
you will not
be punished.

Seeing
is dangerous:
speaking
brings pain,
wounding,
perhaps death.

Stay quiet.”

“But,” the whisperer wants
to know,
“what about this pain?
How do I become blind
to what I have seen?

How do I change
what I cannot accept?

I must act.”

Soldier Susan says,
“No, no, no, wait!
there is nothing
you
can do
that will not

bring ruin.”

The whisperer trembles
trying to close
her eyes, her mouth,
but heat, words
rush, push
forward,
fill her with straining,
demanding release,
any release.

And now she is
blind and deaf
to all except
the need to
release

the pain, the vision

Election

November 8, 2016
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I have a horror
hangover:

a surfeit of tv dribbles
repeating;

the images and words
addictive

and numbing.

I must look away,
change the channel,

I switch to a story of plotted
murder where the killer
is named and blamed
and hunted and destroyed – and

it’s over!

When I can’t resist glancing again,
the crowds are still

raging in the streets.

Trump Revealed

November 7, 2016

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A version of this was previously published on another of my blogs – http://joanvinallcox.ca/trump-mania/ 

I watched all the American election debates and coverage and I am nauseated. The 2nd debate, especially, sparked all kinds of reactions in me. Watching Trump make his (what I knew intellectually were baseless) accusations with his emotional tone so strong, I felt the sick fear that people would buy what he said, just because of the way he said it. I saw him pacing around and looming over Hillary when she was speaking, and recognized two things:

The normality of this kind of male behaviour, and
Why I thought it was normal; I’d seen it and experienced in the workplace for most of my adult life.

I felt sick with fear because I’d recognized Trump’s nastiness and misogyny from my first few media glimpses of him. I’d recognized his body language and the subtext in his words. I felt sick with fear as I watched apparently respectable people continue to support him, apparently blind to who he was. I felt sick with fear as I saw powerful men (and some women) support him. I felt sick with fear when I heard the bus tape because I’d known men with power who spoke about women in a similar way, and they weren’t penalized. I honestly couldn’t tell, during the debate, whether the man I’d despised, since even before the presidential race, was getting away with it, whether the earnest and smart, hard-working woman was going to continue being faulted because, they claimed, she was bad and her own party saw her as bland.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that the American presidential race lasts so long. Perhaps the length has given people the chance to look beyond the boasting and see the dark reality. I hope so. Goodness knows, lots of stories have surfaced about how Trump has stiffed contractors and even the caterer for his third marriage. The whole taxes thing that he’s now trying to spin into business acumen. The racial and religious baiting. The encouragement of violence – what did he mean when he said Hillary’s Secret Service guards should give up their guns?

Perhaps the long drawn out campaign has opened many eyes. I hope and pray! But I am astonished and fearful because so many are blindly supporting his appalling behaviour.

November Meeting

October 28, 2016
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Grey skies
bare branches
cold enough
to keep us indoors.

Fluorescent blue light
cluttered space
silence sitting
dully waiting.

Autumn and Losses

October 19, 2016

 

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The autumnal riot of colours begins
to fade and thin, while losses blossom.
The ghosts of neighbours open the doors
of demolished houses.

I move into winter with opening eyes
watching the leaves reveal the tree
that will die and be born again –
forming and fading and forming again.