Walk This Way

It’s May with Its Matriarchal Energy

If this image looks familiar, it’s because I couldn’t resist borrowing it from the 26th Avenue Poet.  

April showers bring May flowers so they say. This year in Oregon they also brought snow, swirling in the uncertainty of where to land and whether to stick. One Way? UhUh. Not for us rascals. National Poetry Month came to an end and my 85th birthday celebration and book launch was a lovely success in its own sweet way. The food & fellowship was delightful, with friends and family enjoying savory snacks and a beautiful cake. The ‘toast & roast’ was humbling and the Reading brought chuckles, laughter and even some tears.  Oh Yes, and here’s a photo of my special gift from grandsons Seth & Nate.  It is indeed a ‘real’ tattoo of my spirit animal, the Blue Heron, now a permanent piece of elegant jewelry worn lovingly and with gratitude on my right forearm. A bit of backstory here. The brothers offered me a tattoo for my 80th birthday, thinking I was “cool enough” then. I wasn’t. I refused, with the caveat that if I made it to 85, I would reconsider. I did.

So, isn’t it good to know that while wars and famine and cruelty continue to rage, and protests against them are taken to college campuses and the streets of the world, there are still ‘celebrations of Life’ happening everywhere, large and small? Knowing full well that “anything can happen”, it is good to be alive together in the moment that is Now. For one of my favorite examples, go back on this website and read Naomi Shihab Nye’s account of “Wandering Around the Albuquerque Airport”.  All is not lost.

I wonder sometimes why my posts have become so erratic. When I started this website in 2022, just beginning to figure out what I wanted the site to be, I had things to say and stuff I wanted to share just about every week. Now … (and I like to think of this as ‘growth’), with the world on fire and so many directions toward which to point our heartfelt attention, I find myself needing more time to reflect, to ponder, to decide what to nudge folks toward and why.  This morning, as I was scolding myself for taking so long to finish this post, I read Joan Tollifson’s Substack from Wednesday, May 8th titled Silence – a short note and I breathed out slowly and with intention, knowing exactly what to do … save the beauties and terrors for next time and stay focused on the walk light.

Kim Stafford, in his endorsement of my new chapbook, Tributaries, poems of homage & gratitude to poets & other artists, says in part …  “All poets plagiarize the beauties and the terrors of the world. That’s their job.”  And when I question my job as an aging rascal & occasional writer, I am pleased to answer YES! Plagiarizing the beauties and terrors of the world … Thank you, Kim. I like to believe I am doing my small part (with no plans to retire).  And thanks, too, for calling what I’ve done with the Cento form, “honorable plundering.”  I loved that.

Ten years ago the late Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) told the audience assembled in her honor at the 2014 National Book Awards  … I think hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality. And that always reminds me of one of my favorites from her poetry collection, Sixty Odd … a poem that opened many a women’s weekend writing retreat.

Read at the Awards Dinner, May 1996 

Beware when you honor an artist.
You are praising danger.
You are holding out your hand
to the dead and the unborn.
You are counting on what cannot be counted.

The poet’s measures serve anarchic joy.
The story-teller tells one story, freedom.

Above all beware of honoring women artists.
For the housewife will fill the house with lions
and in with the grandmother
come bears, wild horses, great horned owls, coyotes.

Ahhh yes, Walk This Way with the housewives and the grandmothers. Celebrate Uncertainty. Bring your matriarchal energy & the coyotes.

Just now as our 2024 National Poetry Month ended, Oregon’s current Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani said this about uncertainty … To be human is to be constantly navigating uncertainty and seeking to find the things in our lives that can be certain to kind of protect us from the uncertainty or relieve us of the stress from the uncertainty, but the reality is that every aspect of our life is uncertain, and that’s a really tremendous, large, sometimes scary thing to reckon with. It behooves us to be able to have an engagement with uncertainty in life that is welcoming. (emphasis mine)

Anis, a national and international poetry slam winner originally from New Orleans, has shared the treasure of himself with us Oregonians for two terms as our Poet Laureate, having made his way through the pandemic and beyond. Anis’s poems are often long and best listened to for their full impact. Here he reads/performs “Come Closer”, one of my favorites.  And these are the poem’s closing lines.

I am like you.
I am like you
I too at times am filled with so much fear, so much fear, but like a hallway must find the strength to walk through it.
Walk through this with me.
Through this church of blood, bone, and muscle, that is ours
There is a door knob glowing like chance before you.
Grab it, turn and pull, step through, back straight, chin up, eyes open, hearts loud.
Walk through this with me.
Walk through this with me. 

Click to get her book for 99¢, this week only

… hearts loud. Don’t you just love that?  And speaking of hearts that are loud, may I direct you to my webmaster and publisher at Lingua Ink Media, Maya Bairey, whose debut novel, Painting Celia, launches tomorrow, May 11th, right here on the shores of the mighty Columbia. I see Maya (like Celia) as always having been multi-talented, but only now as she approaches “middle age” has she begun to recognize and to accept her gifts. Another aging rascal in the making! I am so honored to have helped ‘mid-wife’ this book, a story that, as I stated in my ‘blurb’ for its cover, is more than a romance. Maya Bairey’s debut novel is a tender, juicy feast for the hungry heart. Celia herself, León, and their friends are the fragile palette from which this author/artist paints in “liquid curves and lashing waves of blue,” a subtle story of self-discovery and …  

While it is the not-so-merry month of May, let us rejoice as much and in whatever ways we can. Whether we have ever been called Mom, Mother, Mama or Mommy Let us celebrate the matriarchal energy that belongs to everyone who loves …  and isn’t that everyone?  And if your mom is gone and you miss her, here’s a poem that just might speak to you.

Until next time, take care and stay kind …
Love, Sulima

by Andrea Cohen

Something went wrong.
That’s what the machine
says when I call to say
my paper didn’t arrive.
Machines are trained
by people, so they’re
smart, they know a thing
or fifty trillion. Did you miss
your Sunday delivery?
it asks. I did, I say. I
miss everything, I say,
because it’s a machine and
it has to listen, or at least
it has to not hang up
without trying to understand
why I called, which means
trying to correct what
went wrong. Let me
see if I got this right,
the voice says, you missed
your Sunday paper?
Yes, I say, but also
I miss my childhood
and fairy tales,
like Eden. I miss
sweet Rob Roys
with strangers,
I miss fabric
softener and soft
lighting. I’m sorry,
the machine says.
I’m having trouble
Did you miss today’s paper?
Yes, I say, but that’s not
the half of it. Sometimes
I just feel like half
of me, and even that
feels like too much. I’m
having trouble understanding,
the machine repeats, its
syllables halted, as if
trying to mimic an empath.
I’m having trouble understanding
too, I say. I used to understand
so much: photosynthesis, the
human heart, I’d even
memorized the Krebs cycle,
but now all I remember
is lifting the golden coil
of the kitchen phone to maneuver
under my mother’s conversations.
It was like lifting
the horizon. There’s
a silence, and the machine
asks: Are you still there? In
a few words, please describe
your issue. Where do I begin
being a minimalist? Time,
I say, I’ve got a problem
with that. Also, loss, and
attachment. That’s pretty
much it, and the news in its sky-
blue sleeve is meant to be
a distraction, isn’t it? I ask.
More silence, and then:
You miss your mother?
a voice asks. It’s
a human voice.
Me too, she says.

Published by Sulima Malzin

This 'Aging Rascal & Occasional Writer' invites you to embrace the world through her open window of poetry, art, activism, music, and humor.

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