Another Woman Who Worked to be Equal


Susan Griffin is a poetess who has published two collections of poetry. She worked in many stereotypical female jobs. Her poetry reflects much of the experiences she gained in these jobs. She lives in San Francisco. This poem is one of my favorites.

 

I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman

 

I like to think of Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,

who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown

by a slave-master (because she

talked back), and who

had a ransom on her head

of thousands of dollars and who

was never caught, and who

had no use for the law

when the law was wrong,

who defied the law. I like

to think of her.

I like to think of her especially

when I think of the problem of

feeding children.

 

The legal answer

to the problem of feeding children

is ten free lunches every month,

being equal, in the child’s real life,

to eating lunch ever other day.

Monday but not Tuesday.

I like to think of the President

eating lunch Monday, but not

Tuesday.

And when I think of the President

and the law, and the problem of

feeding children, I like to think to

think of Harriet Tubman

and her revolver.

 

and then sometimes

I think of the President

and other men,

men who practice the law,

who revere the law,

who make the law,

who enforce the law

who live behind and operate through

and feed themselves

at the expense of

starving children

because of the law,

men who sit in paneled offices,

and think about vacations

and tell women

whose care it is

to feed children

not to be hysterical

not to be hysterical as in the word

hysterikos, the greek for

womb suffering,

not to care,

not to bother the men

because they want to think

of others things

and do not want

to take the women seriously.

I want them

to take women seriously.

I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,

and remember,

remember she was beat by a white man

and she lived

and she lived to redress her grievances,

and she lived in swamps

and wore the clothes of a man

bringing hundreds of fugitives from

slavery, and was never caught,

and led an army,

and won a battle,

and defied laws

because the laws were wrong, I want men

to take us seriously.

I am tired wanting them to think

about right and wrong.

I want them to fear.

I want them to feel fear now

as I have felt suffering in the womb, and

I want them

to know

that there is always a time

there is always a time to make right

what is wrong,

there is always a time

for retribution

and that time is beginning.

 

 

 Ms. Tubman also worked in the women’s movement. She believed in equality for all people regardless of gender or skin color.She was tough and determined. Ms. Tubman crossed the Mason Dixon line hundreds of times to bring runaway slaves north to live in freedom. She also gave lectures to abolitionist groups, which wasn’t done. She was a woman and a woman of color standing up in front of  a room of mostly white people speaking her truth. Explaining what slavery was really like. Perhaps God did touch her and give her an angel to protect her as she went about her very important work. In my heart and soul, Harriet Tubman earned a Medal of Honor even though there was no such thing in the 1800’s. There wasn’t a Medal of Honor but she wouldn’t have been awarded it if there had been. But, when I think of Harriet Tubman, she is a woman who has earned all medals and whose bravery and determination helped to change the world and helped end the horror of slavery.

 

 

 

 

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  No matter what gender we are, or what skin color we have, or what religion or spiritual system we practice, of if we practice any system, no matter if we are Oxford educated or street educated, we are all one people and we are the family of man. We have a journey of one life and we are all equal. We have one planet and we must preserve her to preserve our lives.

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Every 3 Minutes – Every 5 Minutes


With No Immediate Cause

by Ntozake Shange

 

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten

every five minutes a

woman is raped/every ten minutes

a lil girl is molested

yet i rode the subway today

i sat next to an old man who

may have beaten his old wife

3 minutes ago or 3 days ago/30 years ago

he might have sodomized his

daughter  but i sat there

cuz the young man on the train

might beat some young women

later in the day or tomorrow

i might not shut my door fast

enuf/push hard enuf

every 3 minutes it happens

some woman’s innocence

rushes to her checks/pours from her mouth

like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn

apart/their mouths

menses red & split/every

three minutes a shoulder

is jammed through plaster and the oven door/

chairs push through the rib cage/hot water or

boiling sperm decorate her body

i rode the subway today

& bought a paper from a

man who might

have held his old lady onto

a hot pressing iron/i dont know

maybe he catches lil girls in the

park & rips open their behinds

with steel rods/i can’t decide

what he might have done i only

know every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/so

i bought the paper

looking for the announcement

the discovery/of that dismembered

woman’s body/the

victims have not all been

identified/today they are

naked and dead/refuse to

testify/one girl out of 10’s not

coherent/i took the coffee

& spit it up/i found an

announcement/not the woman’s

bloated body in the river/floating

not the child bleeding in the

59th street corridor/not the baby

broken on the floor/

“there is some concern

that alleged battered women

might start to murder their

husbands and lovers with no

immediate cause”

I spit up i vomit i am screaming

we all have immediate cause

every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes

every 10 minutes

every day

women’s bodies are found

in alleys & bedrooms/at the top of the stairs

before i ride the subway/buy a paper/drink

coffee/i must know/

have you hurt a woman today

did you beat a woman today

throw a child across a room

are the lil girl’s panties

in yr pocket

did you hurt a woman today

 

i have to ask these obscene questions

the authorities require me to

establish

immediate cause

 

every three minutes

every five minutes

every ten minutes

every day.

 

 

Born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, Ntozake Shange took her pseudonym as an expression of her anger at the dilemma of being a black woman. In Zulu the name means “she who comes with her own things.” / “she who walks like a lion.” She was educated at Barnard College and the University of Southern California.

 

 

 

Black and White photo of Pacific coast.

Pacific Ocean

Poems


Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

by Jane Kenyon

 

I am the blossom pressed in a book

and found again after 200 years

 

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper

 

When the young girl who starves

sits down to a table

she will sit beside me

 

I am food on the prisoner’s plate

 

I am water rushing to the wellhead,

filling the pitcher until it spills

 

I am the patient gardener

of the dry and weedy garden

 

I am the stone step,

the latch, and the working hinge

 

I am the heart contracted by joy

the longest hair, white

before the rest

 

I am the basket of fans

presented to the widow

 

I am the musk rose opening

unattended, the fern on the boggy summit

 

I am the one whose love

overcomes you, already with you

when you think to call my name.

 

Welcome Morning

Anne Sexton

 

There is joy

in all

in the hair I brush each morning,

in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry “hello there, Anne”

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

 

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

 

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

 

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,

dies young.

 

Hello to all my friends and readers. The words of the feminists poets were in my mind so I shared them with you today. I hope everyone is well. We are having our first hurricane, Hurricane Arthur. I would like to ask that if you don’t mind. please send white light and prayers for my daughter who is just leaving her beach place and driving north to home. They live close to where the storm will come inland. Thank you all.  They were closing up and readying the beach house for the storm. This hurricane is coming with much less warning than people usually have to prepare. Thanks everyone. And may all of you be safe over this celebration of our country’s birth. Happy 4th of July!!

 

 

 

 

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The Holiday of Passover Part 2


Gratitude is a big part of Judaism and many other spiritual paths. The greatest story is the story of Moses. To save his life his mother and sister who had named this Jewish baby, put him into a tightly woven basket and floated it in the river. They prayed to G-d to keep him safe. The Pharaoh’s daughter found the basket and looked inside. She looked inside an found an infant, she knew is was a Jewish baby. She took him home to the palace and raised his as her son, naming him Moses. From the water I drew him. The Jews to this day have never changed his name back to his given name. For eternity the Jewish people show Adonai their gratitude for the life of Moses.

 

The evil of those who sought to destroy the Jews and made slaves of them must be remembered as well as recalling the kindness of those who intervened to deliver the Jewish people from slavery. Gratitude is so important, it’s meant to be eternal.

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”   —Cicero

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   —Melody Beattie

 

 

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The Jewish people believe in family and  gratitude and education. Every Jewish child grows up knowing he/she must get a good education.

 

“I dreamt I stood in a studio

And watched two sculptors there.

 

The clay they used was a young child’s mind

And they fashioned it with care.

 

One was a teacher–the tools he used

Were books, music, and art.

 

The other, a parent, worked with a guiding hand

And a gentle loving heart.

 

Day after day, the teacher toiled

With touch that was deft and sure.

 

While the parent labored by his side

And polished and smoothed it o’er.

 

And when at last, their task was done

They were proud of what they’d wrought.

 

For the things they had molded into the child

Could neither be sold nor boutht.

 

And each agreed they would have failed

If each had worked alome.

For behind the teacher stood the school

And behind the parent stood the home.”   —Author unknown

 

 

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A Passover blessing

 

 

“I doubt anyone will ever see-anywhere—a memorial to a pessimist.”   —Unknown

 

“Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.”   —Golda Meir

 

The Jewish people have a tradition in many families to light not just two candles but an additional candle for every child in the family as well.  Parents explain to their children that every one of them brought extra light to their home when they came into their lives. The light of a candle, the sages teach, is a symbol of the soul.

 

“Rather light candles than curse the darkness.”   —Adlai E. Stevenson

 

“if a drop if ink fell at the same time on your book and on your coat, clean first the book and then the garment.”   —Talmud

 

” If you drop gold and books, pick up first the books and then the gold.”   —Talmud

 

” Jews are the People of the Book.”   —Mohammed, the Koran

 

 

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The Lord be Praised


Flower heart

Flower heart

The lips of the one I love are my perpetual pleasure:

The Lord be praised, for my heart’s desire is attained.

O Fate,  cherish my darling close to your breast:

Present now the golden wine-cup, now the rubies of those lips.

They talk scandal about us, and  say we are drunk—

The old silly old men, the elders lost in their error.

But we have done penance on the pious man’s behalf,

And ask God’s pardon for what the religious do.

O my dear, how can I speak of being apart from you?

The eyes know a hundred tears, and the soul has a hundred sighs.

I’d not have even an infidel suffer the torment your beauty has caused

To the cypress which envies your body, and the moon that’s outshone by your face.

Desire for you lips has stolen from Hafiz’ thought

His evening lectionary, and reciting the Book at dawn.

—-Hafiz; Translated from Persian by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs

Valentine roses

Valentine roses

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Women with Stories to Tell


Let's choose to be happy

Let’s choose to be happy

Angela Weld Grimke lived from 1880-1958. She was the daughter of a white abolitionist mother and a black father who was the vice-president of the NAACP. Grimke studied at Harvard. A book of her poems wasn’t published until 1991.

Fragment

I am the woman with the black black skin
I am the laughing woman with the black black face
I am living in the cellars and in every crowded place
I am toiling just to eat
In the cold and in the heat
And I laugh
I am the laughing woman who’s forgotten how to weep
I am the laughing woman who’s afraid to go to sleep. –1930

Adrienne Rich was born in 1929 She was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from Radcliffe College. Her poetry underwent a change as she outgrew her interest in traditional poetric scture. She became increasingly interested in feminism and a peotry of community.

1948 : Jews

a mother”s letter torn open
In a college mailroom:
…Some of them will be
the most brilliant, fascinating
you’ll ever meet
but don’t get taken up by any clique
trying to claim you.

–Marry out, like your father
she didn’t write She wrote for wrote
against him

It was a burden for anyone
to be fascinating, brilliant
after the six million
Never mind just coming home
and trying to get some sleep
like and ordinary person —1990

Myrtle Beach, SC Photograph taken and copyrighted 2003

Myrtle Beach, SC Photograph taken and copyrighted 2003

Seven Sisters Mountain twilight, Black Mountain. Photograph copyrighted by Barbara Mattio

Seven Sisters Mountain twilight, Black Mountain.
Photograph copyrighted by Barbara Mattio

Unity of All


Deepok Chopra's wisdom

Deepok Chopra’s wisdom

Each of us has a story. Some of them are happy, some are about rising above tragedy, some are so sad that the heart is torn open and bleeding. I love history and still read a lot of history and biographies. I seek to know the world better. To understand more and how to avoid some of the toxic situations.

Mysticism is a way to rise about all that has hurt, scarred or tortured us in our pasts. Mystics from various traditions have in common the experience of feeling at one with all that exists. Spirit prevails if we look for it. Mystic writers acknowledge the oneness of everyone, the absolute lack of separation of the mystic religions. The mystics show us that when we see others as being “them” instead of part of us, hatred and violence are the results.

I am going to share excerpts from Marge Piercy’s poem with you. It is called

The Sabbath of Mutual Respect

Habondia, the real abundance, is the power
to say yes and to say no, to open
and to close, to take or to leave
and not to be taken by force or law
or fear or poverty or hunger.
To bear children or not to bear by choice
is holy. To bear children unwanted is to be used like a public sewer. To be sterilized unchosen is to have
your heart cut out. To love women
is holy and holy is the free love of men
and precious to live taking whichever comes
and precious to live unmated as a peachtree.

Praise the lives you did not choose.

They will heal you, tell your story, fight

for you. You eat the bread of their labor

You drink the wine of their joy. I tell you

after I went under the surgeon’s knife

for the laparoscopy I felt like a trumpet

an Amazon was blowing sonorous charges on

Then my womb learned to open on the full

moon without pain and my pleasure deepened

till my body shuddered like troubled water.

When my friend gave birth I held her in joy

as the child’s head thrust from her vagina

like the sun rising as dawn wet and red.

Praise our choices, sisters, for each doorway

open to us was taken by squads of fighting

women who paid years of trouble and struggle,

who paid their wombs, their sleep, their lives

that we might walk through these gates upright.

Doorways are sacred to women for we

are the doorways of life and we must choose

what comes in and what goes out. Freedom

is our real abundance.

——–Marge Piercy, feminist writer and poet

“The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person, for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors.”

—-Czeslaw Milosz

sciulpture on cruise ship

Some sculpture is so beautiful it opens the heart and the heart breathes the beauty as if it were oxygen. Photo and copyright by Barbara Mattio