women’s review of books

The current issue just arrived from Wellesley Centers for Women on my computer screen. An impressive collection of serious writing about thought-provoking issues, from academia, tenure and feminism to historical and current events, criminal justice,  sex museums, marriage equality, and so much more. Including poetry. And on the last page (32), two poems of mine.

When I first received the invitation to submit poetry to Wellesley College’s Women’s Review of Books, the call was for pairs of related poems. The challenge intrigued me, as I was just assembling a new collection about my sister. Of the three or five poem pairs I submitted, they accepted “Late Spring” and “Early Spring.” You can read them here.

The Wellesley Centers for Women, according to their website, “is a premier women- and gender-focused, social-change oriented research-and-action institute at Wellesley College. Our mission is to advance gender equality, social justice, and human wellbeing through high quality research, theory, and action programs.”

The Women’s Review of Books is one of their significant publications, and I am beyond honored to have been published by them twice now. (see my author’s note for HEAR ME, SEE ME).

journey to peace

JOURNEY TO PEACE

Hope is not a strategy
but a way of living,
letting loose what lives within
into a wanting world

a way of living rising
from roots planted
in the soil of love, twisting
outward to bear lessons

from all those years
of unfurling and return,
the unknown entered
in trust blessed

by seasons of rest
and ripening, their light
illuminating the one
thing that matters –

trust in our instincts
as nature’s creatures
sending peace ahead
of every breath.

swb

With thanks to sister-blogger and supportive reader Philippa Rees for her recent comment in which she shared a phrase that inspired this post:

The mighty tree is alive with its roots deep in you…
Let what it sees guide you.

I spent the better part of yesterday – and it was the better part, I can assure you! – creating the collage and afterward, the poem. Thank you, Philippa, for the encouragement from afar that resonated so deeply within.

she just wants

source unknown – but I do wish I could have drawn this!

SHE JUST WANTS

She does not want to fit into anyone’s box.
She just wants to love the earth, her fingers deep in spring soil; to remain strong
and engaged; to let her words spill onto the page.
She doesn’t want a product to justify her day, or to defend or explain herself.
She just wants a walk by the lake, creativity in process, evening wine; to snuggle in front of a winter fire with a good book and her dog by her side.

She does not want to go forth into tumultuous throngs.
She just wants to touch the hearts of those few she calls friend, or to whom
she extends the pen of discovery.
She does not want to listen to discord or chaos.
She just wants to live simply, choose silence or animated conversation
or Bach cello suites.

She does not want additives, modifications, directives or exclusions.
She just wants to ensure the health and well-being of living earth and her creatures.
She does not want to see the world collapse around her offspring.
She just wants to speak up for what she believes, for what is morally right and just.

She does not want 50 years of social progress burned in one moment of fevered frenzy.
She just wants people to listen to/treat/learn from one another with respect.
She does not want self-serving skeptics to destroy natural connections.
She wants us to re-member our humanity and shared responsibility toward our world.

She does not want to live in division, hate, falsehood.
She just wants to lift up what is beautiful and true with.

She does not want it to end quite yet.

3.7.17 fastwrite in ‘writing outside’ group, prompted by ‘Employed,’
by Beverly Rollwagen, from She Just Wants. Nodin Press, 2004

at the crossroads

hecate-1

‘Hecate’ by Claudia Olivos, olivosartstudio.com

For the past six weeks, I participated in an on-line course with Mary Pierce Brosmer about making meaning of our post-election world. Accordingly, I suspended my plan for a multi-part ‘divided we fall’ series here. Instead, I have spent the intervening weeks reading a wide range of texts including but not limited to John McCain’s February 17th remarks at the Munich Security Conference; selections from Leonard Cruz and Steven Buser’s A Clear and Present Danger, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark, and Ken Wilber’s Trump and a Post-Truth World, among others.

We spent six weeks reading, sharing remarkably relevant poems written long since, writing and sharing our words, discussing, questioning, opening our hearts to difference and our minds to ‘what next.’ During this same six weeks, I traveled twice to southwestern PA to be with my sister in her final days; welcomed my third grandchild into a family filled with February birthdays; and sat with several of ‘my’ prison writers through unimaginable trauma and personal tragedy.

Clearly, this has been a time rich with change on so many levels, transformations both anticipated and not. Above all, it has been a time to open up, expand information sources, broaden opinions and challenge my role in the larger world. While a continuing work in progress, I did not want to remain silent any longer on this page. As a result, I share here my final writing for that life-questioning course of words and ideas – and intentions for going forward. Next time I will return to ‘divided we fall – 2.’

Thank you for reading. And as always, I welcome – no, encourage! – your thoughtful responses to what you read here.

AT the CROSSROADS
That November crossroads stemmed from the tangle of tarnished truths
but I was slow to go there, lost as I was in the thicket of win-lose
when the multi-faceted is what I believe. Now we are offered
loyalty or disdain, history or ignorance, hope or despair.

How can this be our only choice? We have arrived at a crossroads
of morality. And though multiply manifest, it is the voice
of truth that must prevail, the voice of compassion
for us all – earth, sea, sky, collective spirit and soul.

I knew the night birth and death converged that we are in
for deep transformation, needing not to ‘get over’ or past
but to spell truth – yours, mine, ours. A time to speak out
past the divide and into the void, to speak without ceasing.

Thus am I pulled to provide all that I can – insight
and light to help guide the lost from personal hells,
reunite torn-apart mothers with daughters, guarding
ground and reason until mutual respect shall

in deed reign, parting the darkness of derision and disgust.
We must persevere until light seeps through every crack,
shattering false divisions to reveal the common bedrock
of our shared humanity.
swb (c) 2017

holding dreams

How do we ‘hold dreams for others until they can hold them for themselves?’

I came across this question today from the Center for Courage and Renewal‘s newsletter, Words of EnCOURAGEment. And then read on to these fine words from Parker Palmer, found in his eternally inspiring book, The Courage to Teach:   

from Words of EnCOURAGEment

 

Isn’t that lovely? I got to thinking about this question of mentors. For as long as I can recall, I have mentored. From my first professional jobs in teaching hospitals, I was drawn to create a networking community to help women in healthcare management find their dreams. I helped them shape their resumes, present their passion and exchange job-searching tips and leads. And today, I mentor a number of previously incarcerated women now released into the community, helping them remember and strive to follow their dreams.

In between I have called myself midwife to other women’s voices. But truly, voice is a way of expressing those dreams; and midwifery, another form of mentorship. I invite you today to consider whom you might mentor into passion, voice, career, relationship; how you might hold the dream for another until s/he can do so on his/her own.