Falumphingly Me

frozen footsteps

Falumphingly Me

Frozen footsteps falumphed in snow
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Signs of resistance to suburbian flow
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Like some wandering Jew it seems
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Deep creviced steps under sun beams
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Who forged this new path in winter’s ice?
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Avoiding a sidewalk that shovelled so nice?
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Be it child, or teen or wayward accountant
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Like a rebel she strode, her own course she went
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Why does this deeply impress itself on me?
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Why stop to snap what I happened to see?
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Perhaps my own path in the snow I saw
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Purposely falumphing, breaking unseen law
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Never a straight line, curving this and that
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Effortful, fun, frustratingly unpat
Falumph, falumph, falumph

Am I going anywhere, is there an end?
Falumph, falumph, falumph
Walking a way to somewhere which bends?
Falumph, falumph, falumph

I really have no clue, and there’s the key
Falumph, falumph, falumph
So best to keep being falumphingly me
Falumph, falumph, falumph

 

– Ronald Kok, February 4, 2018

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 293: Paper Dolls

sierraDeMulder1

Sierra DeMulder

“Some weeks you’ll remember how hard it is to breathe in public,
but know this:
the person who did this to you is broken. Not you.
The person who did this to you is out there,
choking on the glass of his chest.
It is a windshield
and his heartbeat is a baseball bat:
regret this, regret this.”

Poet Sierra DeMulder provides an incredibly powerful conclusion to the poems I’ve published on this blog over the last few days. I was hoping to discover the power of art to combat the warped culture of sexual assault and harassment that persists in our world. What I found through these amazing works provided to me by poet Meggie Royer is a strength beyond what I could have imagined. What I found was the hope that arises from the sorrowful truth, spoken without fear and shame, that works away, letter by letter, phrase by phrase, to wash away the filth and the guilt that so many victims carry.

I feel I’ve been given a window into something that I have never experienced, yet helps me realize how important it is to speak out, to stand up for people, to give dignity, respect and true compassion.

Here is a bio of Sierra DeMulder from her website. Following that is the full poem, “Paper Dolls”…

Sierra DeMulder is an internationally touring performance poet and educator, a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, and a thrice-published author of The Bones BelowNew Shoes on a Dead Horse (2010, 2012, Write Bloody Publishing), and We Slept Here (Button Poetry, 2015). A 2014 McKnight Fellowship recipient, Sierra’s work has been featured by NPR, Huffington Post, Nike, To Write Love on Her Arms, The Advocate, and more. In addition to performing, Sierra is the curriculum director of the Slam Camp at Indiana University, an annual writing summer camp for high school students, and one of the founders of Button Poetry, the largest digital distributor of spoken word in the world. Her latest full-length collection, Today Means Amen, was released early 2016 by Andrews McMeel.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 291: Can I

Dasan Ahanu

Dasan Ahanu

Words give shape to our reality and help to explain things. In the hands and mind and mouth of the poet, words can reshape reality into something new and vital, and recast a vision for a better day.

Today I continue a look at poetry as an avenue to express, expose and reshape the toxic aspects of our culture that have created sexual predators and countless victims of sexual assault and harassment. I asked my long-distance poet friend Meggie Royer for suggestions. The first she supplied was by an American poet named Dasan Ahanu. There is no way I can give a better introduction to him than the information found on his website:

Christopher Massenburg, better known as Dasan Ahanu, is a public speaker, organizer, workshop facilitator, poet, spoken word performer, educator, songwriter, writer, emcee, and loyal Hip Hop head born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Currently Dasan is a visiting professor at UNC Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, NC teaching courses on Hip Hop and Black culture.     

A few years ago, Dasan Ahanu wrote a poem called “Can I” while he was conducting sexual-assault awareness and education training with men in Durham. Yesterday I posted a poem from the vantage point of the woman who had been assaulted. Today the poet speaks in the voice of a man directly addressing a woman who has been assaulted, who feels shamed and degraded, and uses his words to reshape her reality and recast a vision for the future…

Can I 

 

I want to dry your tears and hold you until comfort sets into your skin like Icy Hot and everyone can smell your new day coming. Because your body needs it, your soul needs it, your spirit needs it and he tried way too hard to take it.

Too many times he blamed you, yelled at you, insulted you. Too many long nights sleeping away the pain and you never expected it to be like this. When you signed your name on the dotted line and contracted a disease you never expected: A disease called HIM.

A power hungry man who never gave a clue, they usually never do. Two sides of doom, one lulls you in so compassionate and caring. The other captures you so intense, it’s so angry and it should never be like this.

It pains me to know that one-in-four women live like this, that fatality comes from the hand of a partner more than the hand of a stranger. And you are caught in his web. I wish I could rub my fingers down your cheek and sing you songs of a new day. Like Ask Me by Amy Grant, Better Days by Guy Clark, How Come, How Long by Babyface.

You are Gloria Gaynor and you will survive. And if necessary we can be like Dixie Chicks and tamper with his black-eyed peas and run off together, leaving behind a missing person that no one misses at all.

You are strength. You don’t deserve it. Made it through the constant resistance to not losing to a swinging fist. And it should never be like this.

Your skin is beautiful. Is a leopard horrific because it has spots? I make you laugh because I say your complexion has character. But there is no quick healing factor. And I know that you wish for wolverine’s claws so you can tear through his body of evidence that says that he should get it now.

His case stands on bond, but even in marriage no means no. Made it isolation and verbal attack, pinch pennies that he overlooked in his forced incarceration. Times must change and I want to help you plan.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 178: Before the Pow Wow

Before the Powwow

Before the Pow Wow
She was twirling
Lost in dance

Before the Pow Wow
She spun circles
Around the silence

White child free
In the circle of Red
Free to be free

White child free
Arms swinging wide
Across the expanse

Red Welcome Red Grace
White child free
To fancy dance

Red Welcome Red Grace
The space is yours
Be free to be

Dance with ancestors
White child free
To their voice

Dance with ancestors
Prepare the ground
The circle expands

The Spirit takes you
White child free
Wings spread wide

The Spirit takes you
Feel it in the marrow
Beneath your feet

Before the Pow Wow
She was twirling
Across the expanse

Before the Pow Wow
White child free
To fancy dance

Before the Pow Wow by Ronald Kok

Written June 25, 2017 after witnessing my first Pow Wow – Ottawa, Ontario, Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival held on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people. I took the photo above and it led me to write these words. 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 150: Rage, rage against the dying of the light

I picked up a volume of poetry at Value Village yesterday because… well, because.

Poetry is not for everyone, I realize. And often I, too, have no clue what they are writing about.  But then there are those moments when poetry is transcendent, when the use of language is so powerful you feel like the words are leaping off the page. I was reminded of this as I paged through the book and came across my favorite Dylan Thomas poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”.

For some reason, this poem emboldens me to live, even when my own mortality and frailty stares me in the face. Maybe it will do that for you, too. Enjoy.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 72: Battling Boredom and Banality

yoda

Who knew flow-of-thought poetry could get you through a boring conference? Two years ago I attended a conference in London, Ontario that had far more low points than high (though the food was great). Too much offered was not noteworthy, so I used my notebook for the four poems below. Sometimes creativity is born out of extreme boredom and banality. Sometimes.

Hi Speed Blah
(Written while a keynote speaker orated at high speed off the top of his head. Disjointed, confusing, too fast… all at 8 a.m.)

Hi speed blah blah blah
Words at high speed
Remain meaningless
Too much Too many
Can put you to sleep
Why am I here?
Why is my brain made
To pay attention to this?
Might as well be speaking
Turkish
Is Turkish a language?
More interesting to ponder
Than hi speed blah
Blah Blah Blah
Too much Too many
Words rapidly delivered
How is it we are so capable of communication
Yet so poor at it?
We’ve all endured too much
Blah, blah, blah
A tragedy of life

We Got to Fix This
(The Battle Against the Banal has been my life-long struggle. It continued at this conference)

We got to fix this
Banality and brutality
The brutality of banality
Stifling creativity
Putting spirit to sleep
Deflating passion
Stomping on the eternal

We got to fix this
Banish banality
Brutalize the brutes
Who ravish our dreams
With beauty we strike back
With color, shape and sound
Inflating passion
Tender eternal with loving care

We got to fix this
Now

In Forest City
(London is known as Forest City. I took a break at one point, sitting out in the sun on a London street)

In Forest City
Run, Forest, Run
Sun, finally, sun
There’s been no spring
In our spring ‘til now

Forest City hubbub
Bubhub, Hey, Bub
Wind still chilly in tads
But just a tad
Compared to artic air
Swept through, sliced through

Forest city smells
Cancer stick wafting
Combines with new growth
Cold enough out to
Encourage me to pee

Back inside soon
Forest City, thanks

You, Yeah
(I couldn’t help but think of a couple of people who would have been better served being at the conference than me)

Thinking of you, yeah
What I hear may not apply
To me
But to you, yeah
Vision, passion, commitment
You have
Can I help you, really?
Not sure but I’ll try
Getting info, meeting people
Wish you were here
Instead of me

Thinking of you, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Want you to thrive
Want your awesomeness to fly
That’s why
I’ll apply
Myself for you
Instead of me

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 57: Sunday God Quote – Karle Wilson Baker

This Sunday’s God quote is a poem by American poet Karle Wilson Baker (1878-1960), a university professor and writer from Texas who succeeded in a field dominated by men in her day.

The flame of my life burns low
Under the cluttered days,
Like a fire of leaves.
But always a little blue, sweet-smelling smoke
Goes up to God.
-“Blue Smoke”

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 47: In a Dungeon

I’m keeping the Valentine’s Vibe going for awhile this week… I unearthed another poem I wrote for my wife, this one from seven years back. It concerns the place we met and those early days of falling in love with each other.

In a Dungeon 

In a dungeon dark with artwork

I saw her, a score years ago or more

She draped herself in black and quiet

Her brown hair long and scarves she wore

In that place of unusual faces

She alone of all caught my eye

A crystal sea blue and brilliant gaze

Behind which such intensity lie

When at first I made her laugh

For a moment I couldn’t breathe

Warmth and beauty together there

Should not be directed just to me

Soon my thoughts never strayed

From her in dream or daytime wake

How could one person, small and soft

Fill me up enough to make me break?

In that dungeon many years ago

I became captive to on person alone

And the years have gone, age has come

But she remains for me the only one

And in my mind’s eye, as we share days

I still see that woman from time past

Now she drapes me in grace and life

Warmth and beauty, together will last

Conference Poetry: An Oxymoron to Battle Banality

yoda

I attended a conference in London, Ontario this past week. Though there was much good to be had, like most conferences, it had its share of disappointments. On the last day there, April 24, I took to writing some flow-of-thought poetry to help me make it through. Below are the four poems that emerged from that unlikely context.

Hi Speed Blah
(Written while a keynote speaker orated at high speed off the top of his head. Disjointed, confusing, too fast… all at 8 a.m.)

Hi speed blah blah blah
Words at high speed
Remain meaningless
Too much Too many
Can put you to sleep
Why am I here?
Why is my brain made
To pay attention to this?
Might as well be speaking
Turkish
Is Turkish a language?
More interesting to ponder
Than hi speed blah
Blah Blah Blah
Too much Too many
Words rapidly delivered
How is it we are so capable of communication
Yet so poor at it?
We’ve all endured too much
Blah, blah, blah
A tragedy of life

We Got to Fix This
(The Battle Against the Banal has been my life-long struggle. It continued at this conference)

We got to fix this
Banality and brutality
The brutality of banality
Stifling creativity
Putting spirit to sleep
Deflating passion
Stomping on the eternal

We got to fix this
Banish banality
Brutalize the brutes
Who ravish our dreams
With beauty we strike back
With color, shape and sound
Inflating passion
Tender eternal with loving care

We got to fix this
Now

In Forest City
(London is known as Forest City. I took a break at one point, sitting out in the sun on a London street)

In Forest City
Run, Forest, Run
Sun, finally, sun
There’s been no spring
In our spring ‘til now

Forest City hubbub
Bubhub, Hey, Bub
Wind still chilly in tads
But just a tad
Compared to artic air
Swept through, sliced through

Forest city smells
Cancer stick wafting
Combines with new growth
Cold enough out to
Encourage me to pee

Back inside soon
Forest City, thanks

You, Yeah
(I couldn’t help but think of a couple of people who would have been better served being at the conference than me)

Thinking of you, yeah
What I hear may not apply
To me
But to you, yeah
Vision, passion, commitment
You have
Can I help you, really?
Not sure but I’ll try
Getting info, meeting people
Wish you were here
Instead of me

Thinking of you, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Want you to thrive
Want your awesomeness to fly
That’s why
I’ll apply
Myself for you
Instead of me

Winter Haiku

We just got through a February in Ottawa that was the coldest ever recorded in this part of the world. Our daily average low temperature was a frigid -21 c. It seemed appropriate to me to put a long, cold winter in its place with a terse form of verse. I chose Haiku. Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry, three lines of unrhymed verse, normally in the pattern of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables respectively. There are many ways we try to keep winter at bay but perhaps poetry is the least prosaic way of all. I have included a few written by my wife Monique (noted in the text). The rest are my own.

May these simple lines assist you to awake from your frozen slumber to a Spring that will undoubtedly dawn… sometime… we hope.

winter claw

Winter Haiku

Shovel snow today
Shovel tomorrow; repeat
Sisyphus digs it

Frozen face and hands
Imagine how cold I’d be
If I was outside

Groundhog is sleeping
Just leave him alone already
He knows nothing
(Monique)

Hundred words for snow
They say the Inuit have
They only have four
(Monique)

My butt is frozen
How’s that even possible?
It’s insulated
(Monique)

DSC_0222

Chickadees thrive here
Tiny feathery fluff balls
Without furnace heat

Too cold for the geese
Though Canadian they be
Is too friggin’ cold

The lake is ice hard
But soon we’ll cut through it with ease
Doing the backstroke
(Monique)

We skate on a lake
Where just a few months ago
We were swimming
(Monique)

Layers of flannel
Wool socks, three blankets, too
Makes making love hot

Winter’s grip is hard
Its breath is sheer bitterness
It needs to chillax

We gripe and complain
Yet without Jack’s Frostiness
There’s no Great White North

O R 7

When comes the icing
The ponds and lakes and rivers
Become hockeyland

My cold car won’t start
But it’s tough to get upset
It needs a day off

You can see my breath
The only visible sign
That I’m still alive

The days get shorter
While frigid nights get longer
Sun is so precious

Shimmering display
Nature crowned with white glory
Beauty can be cold

It’s hard to believe
Beneath the snowy stratum
Lies Spring awaiting