Yeats was on to something…

I (sort of, loosely) just missed writing in the month of  February (I so want to write at least once a month). Shoot! And I even had a leap day…

I’d like to share a poem with you: “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, written in 1919.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

From the first time I read this poem it has been one of my favorites. It captures the tenor of our times quite well, doesn’t it? My favorite line is “The falcon cannot hear the falconer.” We spiral out, getting further and further away from the voice we ought to be listening to. Then hate and fear grow until it feels as if things are falling apart. Innocence is lost and we struggle to stand up for what is right. The worst parts of ourselves are loud, passionate, and intense, while the better parts hide quietly.

As the poem turns into the second stanza, I’m loving the strength of that repetition:

“Surely some revelation is at hand;                                                                                                  Surely the Second Coming is at hand.                                                                                           The Second Coming!”

I sense change and justice in those words. We stand in hope and faith that they will come. The lion with the head of a man is not a comforting figure, but he has the strength and power to make things right, which is something I think many of us long for.

Writing about this poem makes me think about how we all have those pieces of art that touch our souls and say what we can’t quite express. Do you have a song, novel, poem, essay, or painting that really speaks to you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

More to come soon- in the next 30 days I’m celebrating my 5th anniversary AND my best friend is getting married! Whoopee!

 

I’m not a Cartoon

It was 4th period in the library, and I had just finished showing the school’s daily news video to the study hall students. A young man at a table nearby said something like, “Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize you’re a real person?” He might have said the word soul. I wish I could remember his exact wording; it was such a strange, random thing to hear a high school boy say. But the guy sitting next to him seemed to get it and said, “Yeah.” I just had to butt in with “Yes, I’ve had that too!” I told them that it was a great thing to have that realization.

Mine came when I was a little girl- on a Saturday morning as I was watching cartoons. I’ve thought about it often as the years have passed, and I know I will never forget. Here’s the poem I wrote about it:

Little girl watching a TV screen
On a blissful Saturday morning.
Just the same old same old, then
A sudden freezing,
A sinking of (her very) self
Toward an abyss of meaning
A looking over the edge to discover, to see:
I’m not a cartoon.
              What I do matters.
               I’m real! I’m me.
For this moment, Who is to blame?
She doesn’t know yet-
Only something lost, something gained.

What do we call it? Reaching the age of accountability. Becoming self-aware. Being an agent of free will. Having a metaphysical moment. Whatever it is, it represents one of the things that makes us human.

If you’ve had a moment like this, when and where did it happen? I’d love to know. Share in the comments!

Imaginations of a Day

I’m late again, I know! I wanted to share the poem I wrote years ago that inspired the title of this blog. It has undergone some revisions and will undergo more in the future, I’m sure. I won’t say much about it, only that it brings together things I’ve seen, dreams I’ve had, and some thoughts that came with them. Enjoy

Imaginations of a Day

1
I saw an old woman today
and she had that look.
Regret, resignation, or nothing…
I don’t know.
When I am she,
What will my thoughts be?

2
That night I saw a city on a hill
Golden light flung out everywhere like a net
Over water and mountains
And I thought, This is God’s, too.

3
Night thoughts are the hard thoughts.
I twist and can’t breathe under the weight of the images-
All those things I can’t quite reach-
But then he throws his arm across me to make me still.

4
In my dreams I saw a door that shut little by little,
A bright plain room on one side, and a dark city on the other.
When the door shuts, the world will end.
I came back from the city streets to the right side of the door,
I came back,
But I woke up and did not see the Lord’s coming or His reward.

5
Now I’m riding on a swing in a cool quiet park
With tall pine trees that have tops like starfish.
All around me the sun is glancing, hiding
As I go back and forth slowly flapping my arms
And it really does feel like flying.

Oreo Girl

It’s time to inflict upon you a poem, mwaah ha ha ha! : ) 

Oreo Girl

At church I heard comments on what I lacked.

With disappointment some would ask, “Why don’t you act more Black?”

At school I heard words that were meant to indict:

Black girls would glare at me and ask, “Why do you act so White?

Finally, after many years

I decided

To overcome my fears,

reject the stereotypes, put the expectations on the shelf

And just be my mixed,

                                     mulatto,

                                                   Oreo,

                                                              miscegenated

                                                                                     Self. 

I was accepted and loved by my family and had good friends, but the few negative experiences I had as a child were quite painful. I wrote this poem in the ’90s, and I think biracial-ity (I guess that’s not really a word) is more celebrated today. Feeling caught in between identities, fighting against society’s labels for us- we’ve all experienced that. I welcome your comments!