Words for Wednesday

Picture found here.

Four Poems for Robin


Siwashing it out once in Siuslaw Forest

I slept under   rhododendron   

All night   blossoms fell

Shivering on   a sheet of cardboard   

Feet stuck   in my pack

Hands deep   in my pockets   

Barely   able   to   sleep.

I remembered   when we were in school   

Sleeping together   in a big warm bed

We were   the youngest lovers

When we broke up   we were still nineteen.   

Now our   friends are married   

You teach   school back east   

I dont mind   living this way   

Green hills   the long blue beach   

But sometimes   sleeping in the open

I think back   when I had you.

A spring night in Shokoku-ji

Eight years ago this May

We walked under cherry blossoms   

At night in an orchard in Oregon.   

All that I wanted then

Is forgotten now, but you.

Here in the night

In a garden of the old capital

I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao   

I remember your cool body

Naked under a summer cotton dress.

An autumn morning in Shokoku-ji

Last night watching the Pleiades,   

Breath smoking in the moonlight,   

Bitter memory like vomit   

Choked my throat.

I unrolled a sleeping bag   

On mats on the porch   

Under thick autumn stars.   

In dream you appeared   

(Three times in nine years)   

Wild, cold, and accusing.   

I woke shamed and angry:

The pointless wars of the heart.   

Almost dawn. Venus and Jupiter.   

The first time I have   

Ever seen them close.

December at Yase

You said, that October,

In the tall dry grass by the orchard   

When you chose to be free,

“Again someday, maybe ten years.”

After college I saw you

One time. You were strange.   

And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have   

Gone by: I’ve always known

          where you were—

I might have gone to you   

Hoping to win your love back.   

You still are single.

I didn’t.

I thought I must make it alone. I   

Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,   

Does the grave, awed intensity   

Of our young love

Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others   

All crave and seek for;

We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had   

Lived many lives.

And may never now know   

If I am a fool

Or have done what my   

       karma demands.

Well-Behaved Women Seldom, You Know

There are lots of memes about all the good things labor unions did — the 8-hour working day, weekends, living wages, etc. In fact, labor unions built the middle class, which is why Republican President Ronald Reagan began the work of destroying labor unions. The thing that is often glossed over, though, is that labor unions didn’t just happen. It wasn’t like the workers went out one day on a peaceful strike and the bosses just said, “Oh, OK, let’s negotiate.” There were a lot of deaths, fires, cracked skulls, industrial sabatoge –and not all on one side. Watch The Molly McGuires if you’d like a refresher course.

Suffrage in America followed suffrage in England and the English Suffragettes asked nicely for years and years — to no avail. It happened here, in part, because of how it happened there.

Just observing.

Monday at the Movies

A dirty knife and a folding table. We forget that the movie wasn’t just about dancing.

Uncertainty vs. Mystery

Photo by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Mrs. Whatsit is traveling, but she’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about this essay by Martin Shaw. In it, he says:

“WHAT IF WE reframed “living with uncertainty” to “navigating mystery”? There’s more energy in that phrase. The hum of imaginative voltage. And is our life not a mystery school, a seat of earthy instruction?

There are few tales worth remembering that don’t have uncertainty woven into them. Without uncertainty we have mission statements not myth. We have polemic not poetry, sign not symbol. There’s no depth when we are already floating above true human experience. And true human experience has always involved ambiguity, paradox, and eventually the need for sheer pluck. Uncertainty doesn’t feel sexy, I admit. It can derail confidence, make us neurotic, doubt ourselves. But mythic intelligence suggests we have to negotiate such terrain for a story of worth to surround us. I don’t say this lightly; it has real testing attached.

The Handless Maiden, alone in the dark forest—she knows uncertainty. Odysseus, trying to get back to Ithaca—he knows uncertainty. The Firebird caged by a Russian Tzar—she knows uncertainty. Uncertainty is a jittery passport to the kingdom of the living, inevitable for all. Having lived half a century in its energy field, I make no pretense to like it much. But understand it? See its value? I do.

But to navigate mystery is not the same thing as living with uncertainty. It doesn’t contain the hallmarks of manic overconfidence or gnawing anxiety. It’s the blue feather in the magpie’s tale. Hard to glimpse without attention. There’s no franchise or hashtag attached. Navigating mystery humbles us, reminds us with every step that we don’t know everything, are not, in fact, the masters of all.”

Words for Wednesday

“When they ask to see your gods

your book of prayers

show them lines

drawn delicately with veins

on the underside of a bird’s wing

tell them you believe

in giant sycamores mottled

and stark against a winter sky

and in nights so frozen

stars crack open spilling

streams of molten ice to earth

and tell them how you drink

a holy wine of honeysuckle

on a warm spring day

and of the softness

of your mother who never taught you

death was life’s reward

but who believed in the earth

and the sun

and a million, million light years

of being”

~J.L. Stanley

Monday at the Movies

Not escapism.

Don’t Get Mad. Get Power.

I’m probably about to make people mad, but, well, it won’t be first time, nor the last. At least 95% of the reaction I am seeing to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe is completely useless, if not actually harmful.

There is nothing you can post on social media that is going to have any impact at all on this decision. The slickest burn, the most carefully explained discussion of science, or the inherent hypocrisy, or facts and figures, the best meme you can make — none of them will have any impact on this decision. But you’ll feel as if you did something when you’ve really done nothing. And that’s dangerous.

There is no demonstration, not even one where millions and millions of women show up all over the world on the same day, in pink hats, with clever signs, that will have any impact on this decision. The people who are going to impose forced birth know that the majority does not agree with them. They don’t care. We’ve been marching for women’s reproductive rights since I was a young girl and, well, here we are. So you can travel to the demonstration, march all day, stand and listen to speakers until your back hurts and Roe is still going away. But you’ll feel as if you did something when you’ve really done nothing. And that’s dangerous.

Here’s the thing. The Christo-fascists who are doing this don’t care about anything except that they have power over you. They don’t care if you burn them on social media or if you show up for a march. They care that they have power over you. They don’t care if you delete your period app or tell friends you’ll help them “go camping.” They care that they have power over you. They don’t care if you’re angry. They care that they have power over you. They don’t care if women die. They care that they have power over you.

There’s really only one thing (short of methods I’m not going to advocate on a public blog) that can help and it’s maybe almost too late for that. Instead of being right on social media, pick a local campaign and a Senate campaign and get to work now. Donate money by going to ActBlue. Don’t donate to Planned Parenthood. Donate to pro-choice candidates, preferably women. Go to the candidates’ web pages and click the “Volunteer” button. Go to Postcards to Voters and start writing postcards now for this November’s election. Learn how to register voters in your state and set up a table outside of every event you can think of: Metro at rush hour, the local farmers’ market, the high school baseball tournament, Planned Parenthood. Don’t ask permission and if someone tells you to leave tell them you have a First Amendment Right to register voters. Say it with authority and it might work, at least for a while. Walk up and down the street in your neighborhood, knock on doors, and ask your neighbors to vote for the candidates you’ve picked. Run for office.

Get power over them. (Pace, Riane Eisler). That’s it. Everything else is just a placebo to numb the pain. They WANT you to stay on social media when you could be getting out the vote. They WANT you to go to a march when you could be getting out the vote. Stop giving them power over you.

Here We Go

Photo of Gerri Santoro, who died in 1964 at 28 years old from an unsafe abortion

I was planning to write about something else today, but then Alito’s odious opinion overturning Roe leaked, and so I’ll have to get to that other thing later.

As Hecate wrote yesterday, NO ONE should be surprised by this. All the women who were completely freaking out November 9, 2016? This is (one reason) why.

Hecate and I have both written about this topic multiple times in the past 5 1/2 years, but now it’s serious. You have to get ready. Right now.


They’re coming for your birth control AND they’re coming for a nation-wide ban. Do you REALLY want to roll the dice that they won’t be successful? With the current makeup of the Supreme Court?

If you think you’ve had all the kids you want, but you’re not 100% and you can afford it, freeze some eggs and have your tubes tied. Do not freeze fertilized embryos – they’re also coming for IVF. Don’t believe me? The Louisiana legislature would like a word.

If you’re thinking you do want to have more kids, just not right now, get an IUD immediately, preferably copper, since they’re effective for up to ten years. Again, do not wait. Not even if you’re in a blue state.

If you’re insistent on shorter-term methods like Depo-Provera shots or the pill, make sure you have a backup method, aka condoms. One, you may want to belt-and-suspenders your birth control, and two, you may not have access to those next shots or prescription refills when you need them. Latex condoms – male or female – should be good for five years if you store them properly, which means somewhere cool, dark, and dry – so NOT in your wallet or your bathroom. Think: linen closet, with a small “immediate use” supply in your nightstand drawer.

Should you stockpile Plan B?

No, although you might want to get one for emergencies (and, stored next to your condoms in your linen closet, it has a shelf life of four years). But please don’t buy dozens.

One, there are women who need it NOW. Don’t pull a TP-and-flour-at-the-beginning-of-the-pandemic on them.

Two, it’s not effective if you weigh more than 155 pounds (although Ella is effective up to 195 pounds).

What else should you do to get ready?

There’s a bunch of information you should look up RIGHT NOW, print it out, and store it in a safe place:

  1. The laws regarding abortion in your own state.
  2. Whether your state has any trigger laws on the books for when Roe is overturned or never removed pre-Roe laws banning or restricting abortion that will go back into effect.
  3. The laws regarding abortion in neighboring states, and their trigger/pre-Roe laws. (The Guttmacher Institute is an excellent source for all of the above.)
  4. Information about abortion access funds, should you or someone you love need financial help leaving the state to get care.
  5. Information about how to communicate safely & privately. This is a good primer.
  6. Information about self-managed abortion.
  7. Information about how you can get medication abortion drugs online or out of the US (note: you can get these drugs OVER THE COUNTER, aka no prescription required, in Mexico).

A few other things to do:

  • Using a period tracker site or app? STOP RIGHT NOW and make sure you delete all your data from it.
  • Make sure your passport is up to date.
  • If you’re handy and dexterous, you may want to learn how to make a Del-Em.

What did I miss? Share it in the comments.

Image credit: Ms. Magazine.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

I’m Surprised that They’re Surprised

Using the Hubble telescope, scientists recently caught a glipse of the most distant single star ever seen. They gave it the Tolkein-inspired name of Earendel.

“In the Lord of the Rings, Eärendil is a half-elven character who travels the seas carrying a jewel, a ‘Silmaril,’ called the morning star. 

‘It means the dawn star, and it’s an Old English word. It’s lovely. And this is a star, literally, from the dawn of time, the dawn of stars forming,’ [one of the scientists] said about the star’s name. ‘This is the first star, the farthest star we’ve ever seen, and I think Earendel is a beautiful name for it.’

‘We suspect it’s not the absolute first generation of stars,’ she added. ‘We think that maybe this is one of the subsequent … maybe a couple tens of millions of years after star formation began [in the universe].'”

The thing is that the light that the scientists saw actually left that star a long, long, long time ago. The star (if it still even exists) is 12.9 billion light-years from Earth.

I’ll have more to say later, but I’ve been amazed at the people who are amazed at the Supreme Court taking away abortion and preparing to take away a host of other rights. Because that light left that star a long time ago. You may just now be seeing it, but anyone paying attention knew that this star exploded years ago, at least back as far as 2016, and likely before then.

It just doesn’t have a pretty name.

Words for Wednesday

Picture found online.

“Right to Life”

~ Marge Piercy

A woman is not a pear tree

thrusting her fruit into mindless fecundity

into the world. Even pear trees bear

heavily one year and rest and grow the next.

An orchard gone wild drops few warm rotting

fruit in the grass but the trees stretch

high and wiry gifting the birds forty

feet up among inch long thorns

broken atavistically from the smooth wood.

A woman is not a basket you place

your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood

hen you can slip duck eggs under.

Not the purse holding the coins of

your descendants till you spend them in wars.

Not a bank where your genes collect interest

and interesting mutations in the tainted

rain, anymore than you are.

You plant your corn and harvest

it to eat or sell. You put the lamb

in the pasture to fatten and haul it in

to butcher for chops. You slice

the mountain in two for a road and gouge

the high plains for coal and the waters

run muddy for miles and years.

Fish die but you do not call them yours

unless you wished to eat them.

Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman.

You lay claim to her pastures for grazing,

fields for growing babies like iceburg

lettuce. You value children so dearly

that none ever go hungry, none weep

with no one to tend them when mothers

work, none lack fresh fruit,

none chew lead or cough to death and your

orphanages are empty. Every noon the best

restaurants serve poor children steaks.

At this moment at nine o’clock a partera

is performing a table top abortion on an

unwed mother in Texas who can’t get Medicaid

any longer. In five days she will die

of tetanus and her little daughter will cry

and be taken away. Next door a husband

and wife are sticking pins in the son

they did not want. They will explain

for hours how wicked he is,

how he wants discipline.

We are all born of woman, in the rose

of the womb we suckled our mother’s blood

and every baby born has a right to love

like a seedling to the sun. Every baby born

unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come

due in twenty years with interest, an anger

that must find a target, a pain that will

beget pain. A decade downstream a child

screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched,

a firing squad summoned, a button

is pushed and the world burns.

I will choose what enters me, what becomes,

flesh of my flesh. Without choice, no politics,

no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield,

not your uranium mine, not your calf

for fattening, not your cow for milking.

You may not use me as your factory.

Priests and legislators do not hold

shares in my womb or my mind.

This is my body. If I give it to you

I want it back. My life

is a non-negotiable demand.

Hat tip: Byron Ballard