Tarot Cards, Feelings, Prayers, and a Poem

My birthday was on Tuesday of this week, and I spent a lot of time thinking about astrology and symbolism last week. With the sun conjoining Mars in my sign last Sunday, and a new moon on my birthday, this is an auspicious time for setting intentions. I thought about my life and my hopes and dreams and created a list of focus areas on Sunday, and then picked 5 to carry forward into the year to come.

I’ve also been using tarot cards as a tool for focus and intentionality for a couple of months now. On Sunday night, before bed, I meditate for a few minutes to calm myself and then draw 3 tarot cards. I write the cards down in a journal I keep for that purpose, and journal a little about what they mean to me. The next day, I read my horoscope on Chani Nicholas’s site, see where it connects to the cards I drew, and make a note in my planner of where to focus my energy and emotion for the week.

Many people see this kind of thing as incompatible with logic or religion: on one hand, there is little scientific support for horoscopes or tarot (though meditation is beneficial), and on the other, many mainstream religions call this witchcraft or idolatry. I am Jewish and agnostic, but for me the practice is not a wrong one. It is a tool for being intentional — and it also brings me comfort. I’ve been both scared and awed by the idea that there isn’t a guiding power in the universe, but lately that’s been much more scary. How do we reconcile the hardship of life if it means that incidents like Wednesday’s terrorist shooting in South Carolina are truly nothing more than random? Continue reading “Tarot Cards, Feelings, Prayers, and a Poem”

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Poem: Happy Birthday

Here’s a bit of silliness I wrote up as part of my National Poetry Writing Month effort:

Happy Birthday

hi
I, uh
I just really wanted
to say hi to you today
and tell you that I
I really like your shirt
I mean, as you know
the Ninja Turtles are my favourite

and I know they’re your favourite
because you told me so
when we first met
and I really wanted to let you know
that I see you wearing that shirt
and even if no one else knows it
I know you really like the Ninja Turtles

and I know it’s your birthday tomorrow
so I brought you a card—
they didn’t have Ninja Turtles cards
at any of the stores I went to
so I drew one myself
I hope it’s okay—
also, I got you a cupcake
it’s got a picture on top
it’s supposed to be Michelangelo
I hope that’s okay
my mom would only let me get one

but what I really wanted to say is
I like you
no, I mean I like you
like, I like-like you
and I was hoping you might
like-like me back
but
I mean
if you don’t
it’s okay
I just wanted to check

 

uh
happy birthday?

 

© Tessara Dudley, 2015

Emptiness in the Aftermath

I didn’t get a lot done during the second half of last week. I didn’t send my regular Wednesday newsletter. I didn’t post my Thursday blog post. I didn’t do my homework, or make my office hours at work. Mostly, I cried.

Today marks four months since Michael Brown, Jr, was shot in the streets of Ferguson, MO, and left for 4.5 hours in the summer sun. Two weeks past from Monday, a grand jury did not indict the officer who shot Mike Brown. A week past from Wednesday, a grand jury did not indict the officer who choked Eric Garner to death. In these four months, the Black community has lost Rumain Brisbon, Akai Gurley, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Kajieme Powell, and — perhaps most tragically — Tamir Rice.

But we have also lost Deshawnda Sanchez and Tajshon Ashley Sherman and Aniya Parker and Gizzy Fowler. We’ve lost Mary Spears and Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Mangum. A second mistrial came in for the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. A police officer is going to trial in Oklahoma for the sexual assault of at least 8 Black women and girls.

The deaths of Black men and boys at the hands of police are getting more attention than they have in a long time, and that attention is necessary to create change. But we must also recognise that Black women are the victims of state violence as well. Black women disproportionately account for missing persons. Black women are assaulted and killed by police. Their murders are often ignored or covered up. And they are on the forefront of the movement for justice.

Women accounted for 60% of the Black Panther Party. They led many of the actions of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Today, they lead many of the actions on the ground in Ferguson, New York, LA… Black women are expected to never report violence perpetrated on them by Black men. They are expected to wait for their own justice, while fighting tooth and nail for the lives of Black men. It’s exhausting to fight for your own humanity, but even more so to fight for the humanity of a group who should have your back, but doesn’t.

I wrote a poem about this for my upcoming collection, Fallen/Forever Rising, and I’m sharing it here, because I feel like I have little else to give. I’ve felt so wrung out the last few weeks, a kind of exhausted apathy. I’m struggling to find time to take care of myself, and that leaves me feeling as though I’ve gotten nothing done. I need to rest, but I feel guilty when I do. I don’t know how much longer I can go on, and I don’t know what to do.

Empty

Women’s work
we pour from empty pitchers
every last wet drop for
someone not us

We care takers
care given always care giving
none taken no care not us
no one cares

We targets too
double jeopardy for double-dutch girls
endangered Black women dare
in danger we dare

Losing sons and
daughters fathers mothers sisters and
yes brothers each bone deep
pain pushed through

Street struggle
our streets aren’t safe from police
aren’t safe for our brothers
we aren’t safe from

Silent suffering
no don’t tell don’t call don’t no
sister knows no safety
but still she pours

I hate to ask for anything for myself, but if you have the funds to help me out, you can donate something to my Paypal, or buy a zine. I appreciate any help you can give.

Book Review: Here Versus Elsewhere

A while back, I received a review copy of Allison Carter’s 2014 book of poems Here Versus Elsewhere.9780991109289-FrontCover-Sm_1024x1024

This book took a long time to read, because I had to digest every poem individually. I read each one 2 or 3 times, feeling out nuances of meaning and sitting in the feelings evoked.

I found it worked best to read them out loud; many were best experienced when the sound of the words chosen was given space. Rolling them around in my head was certainly interesting, but hearing them aloud really enabled me to connect with each piece. The language used is very deliberate, and reading silently doesn’t do it justice.

The book is broken up into four titled sections—1. Poems for Baby Ghosts; 2. All Bodies Are The Same/And They Have the Same Reactions; 3. Ghost Stories For Ghosts; 4. Advice—and each section has a through-line or theme that was rather exciting to experience unfolding. Sometimes the connections between poems were very obvious, and sometimes they weren’t, but each section worked as a whole in themselves. I often found myself finishing one poem and then going back to a poem earlier in the section to track the appearance of words and concepts, reading both poems again from a more complete, understanding place. Each poem informed my understanding of the ones that came before it.

There are many lines that stilled me, that gave me a little shiver of yes! when I read them, which I immediately re-read over with pleasure. A sampling:

from Sea View Avenue, pg 22:

some on stilts to be eye level
with the soul

from Useless Metals and Time, pg 27:

The kind of day where
you eat the sounds of things:
the sound of peach, not the
peach itself

from Brevity, pg 68:

A party is a buyer’s market in which supply exceeds demand.

from The End of the Hole, pg 78:

At the end of the hole you will encounter a moth made of precious metals and time.

Okay, I can’t quote the whole thing—you’ll have to get the collection for more of this lovely stuff! I absolutely recommend it. The feel of many of the poems was dreamy, a sort of floating feeling I settled into as I went along. The author experiments and plays with words in a way that left me wanting to write. I was even inspired to write a poem review!

Here Versus Elsewhere
At times
Ephemeral beyond belief
With the sound
Of sunset goodbyes
Sandy hellos

A mumbling
Whisper-shout signal
Brings snow in September
And sun in March

Breathless
Long winding
Verbose
Sparkling grandeur
Ermine fur
And puppy kisses
Narrowing
Down
To a
Point

A morsel following
Leaves you
Wanting
And satisfied

I cannot tell why
The telling is futile
Only the turning page can
The necessity of a poem
The ebb and flow of thunder words
Like ocean lightning
Foam white paper
Spilling down
Rushing and crashing until
A sudden withdrawal
That was un-unexpected
In its brilliance

Poem: Movement Mothers

I mentioned in my newsletter that I’ll be at the Oregon State Penitentiary tomorrow for the Uhuru Sa Sa Poetry Slam. Here’s one of the pieces I’ll be sharing.

Movement Mothers
Not so long ago they lit us on fire for who we loved, visibility and invisibility doing damage differently: hateful looks end with murdered teens tied to fence-posts, sweet bois and grrls beaten, children taken from us too soon, the bully’s hand manifest in the making of nooses, the loading of guns. We lose and are lost.

These days when the struggle is too much and holding my head up is too hard I think of Assata and Angela, Marsha and Carlett, Stormé, Audre, Alice, Octavia, and Laverne, sisters in struggle, sisters in strength, sisters looking out for sisters. Our vulnerability is just one more source of beauty—though the world does not see it, speaking our truth is an act of radical self-love in a world that tries to burn us down.