Friday, November 11, 2016

Like Father, Like Daughter

When I was about six years old, my dad heard me say I hated something, and he chastised me with that adage, "Hate is a strong word." My parents, who were both Republicans, took our family to church most Sundays. One of the songs I remember most from those services was "They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love."

My dad died more than 21 years ago, and I stopped going to church and became a Democrat years before that. But the messages I learned as a kid have stuck.

Here's another one: When I was growing up, I was afraid of my father. He had a temper, and he stomped and shouted and cursed a lot. I knew that he loved me, but inside, I shrank from him. A few months before he died, he called me and said, "I'm sorry. I thought I was being a good disciplinarian, but now I know I just had a bad temper." By speaking those simple words, I believe my father changed the course of my life and taught me the power of being emotionally brave.

On Saturday, November 12, I'll be joining a group of brave poets who will be sharing their words at a book launch for The Poeming Pigeon: Poems about Music. Perhaps, together, we'll make some joyful, loving noise.

Saturday, November 12, 2016, 2-4 PM

The Ledding Library Pond House in Milwaukie
2215 SE Harrison
Adjacent to the Ledding Library
The reading will feature poets: Carolyn Martin, Claudia F. Savage, Colette Tennant,
Douglas Spangle, Eileen McGurn, Josh Gaines, Linda Ferguson, Marilyn Johnston,
Rosemary Lombard, Shawn Aveningo, Wayne Lee.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Let Those Love Now

Here is a small offering -- a poem published by The Poeming Pigeon: Poems About Food, which was launched this time last year. I wrote this piece on a happier day eight years ago, but the sentiment still applies today. Thank you to editor Shawn Aveningo and the contributors of this volume. You are all beacons of light.

Let those love now*

I want to make you all some good, hot food,
to feed you polenta baked until it forms a crispy
peppered crust, then serve up ruffled greens
and soft biscuits filled with steaming fruit.
I want to cook all morning and afternoon,
to make you valentine-shaped cookies
sprinkled with cinnamon, and also pies
packed with dark red cherries that sing
with a deep, bubbling juice,
like a choir joining voices beneath
a domed ceiling. I want to feed you all,
from the grandmother left sitting alone
in a shadowed room to the cool, pale sister
with the cracked-plate smile.
Come, let’s all take our places at a table
where our combined brilliance will outshine
all the candles and the stars and the sun at noon.
Let’s pass our stories to one another
like a bowl of plump, green olives
or a basket of warm, sighing bread.
Here, at this table, we can all savor the alchemy
of a creamy cheddar cheese laced with chives,
and when we’re done feasting, we can
each have a slice from a single cucumber,
so that its sweet, clean taste will linger
on our tongues.

*Thomas Parnell, Translation of “The Vigil of Venus,” attributed to Tiberianus;
“Let those love now who never loved before;/Let those who always loved, now love the more.”