Two Winged Entities Walked Into a Bar . . . , a poem by Clarissa Simmens

Illustration courtesy of The British Museum via Unsplash

“…whenever a new, especially successful form of an infection emerges, it will spread rapidly around the globe.”  William H. McNeill, Plagues and Peoples



The current pandemic is a disquieting influence, but an influence it is. COVID-19 is inspiring dreams that are wishful, fearful, and often surreal. Such is Clarissa’s dream reported in this poem. It reflects the yearning, anxiety, and concern we all feel and, not unlike our experience of this pandemic, it contains elements of the surreal.  / J.D.

DREAMING:

Two wings touching
Dark and light
Not very opposite
Never did they fight

The archangels Raphael and Lucifer

Walked into a bar together

Both ordered Southern Comfort Rocks

Needing respite from frantic Root Workers

Overworked simplers and herbalists

Calling upon Raphael for assistance

In the healing of an ailing global populace

While Lucifer himself was busy with

Contracts multiplying each day

Contracts from desperate parents

Willing to pay anything

As long as their child lived

Giving him no pleasure because of

The sheer volume of sad work

They drank deeply and then

Lucifer asked:

“As a healer, what do you think about me

Getting my tail surgically removed?

It’s an old image I want to escape

Along with the pitchfork. I mean, come on,

That old agrarian image just won’t work

I’m thinking of a taser or AK-47

Although I have no desire to harm anyone”

Raphael sighed and said,

“Not wise to go into the hospital during a pandemic

Who do you have in mind to do the cosmetic altering?”

“You, of course. Your power is stronger than mine…”

“You, the demiurge,” laughed Raphael

“Controlling the material world.

Not much different than I am”

Answered Lucifer, “They confuse me

With cousin Satan

I should stop working for him

Hate contract law”

AWAKE:

Gasping aloud and peering into the

Six o’clock dawn

Me, not a dreamer

At least when sleeping

Has dreamt the beginning of a joke

But glad I awoke

Because I’ve been living with

Raphael’s name for the last month

Lighting white candles

Looking for iron fish charms

Asking his help

In keeping us all alive

But in the dream

Are wings of cream and gray

Friends despite what we’ve learned

And I wonder

About this scenario

About the jokey dialogue

What dreams are these?

Two wings touching
Dark and light
Dream interpretation
Bouncing off daylight…

© 2020, Clarissa Simmens

CLARISSA SIMMENS (Poeturja) is an independent poet; Romani drabarni (herbalist/advisor); ukulele and guitar player; wannabe song writer; and music addict. Favorite music genres include Classic Rock, Folk, Romani (Gypsy), and Cajun with an emphasis on guitar and violin music mainly in a Minor key. Find her on her Amazon Author Page, on her blog, and on Facebook HERE.

Clarissa’s books include: Chording the Cards & Other Poems, Plastic Lawn Flamingos & Other Poems, and Blogetressa, Shambolic Poetry.




Jamie Dedes:

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Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Writers Rally Against Anti-Asian Hatred Amid Pandemic; May 27, United Against Hate: A Day of Online Solidarity

Man Mo Temple; Hollywood Road, Tai Ping Shan, Hong-Kong, Hong Kong, Photograph courtesy of Nicolas Hoizey, Unsplash

“We realize that this anti-Asian sentiment comes alongside an equally troubling uptick in xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Black violence,” said writer and PEN America Trustee Min Jin Lee. “This is a clarion call that all forms of racist hatred, especially at this moment, are unwelcome, unacceptable, and intolerable. As writers, we reckon with the power of words each day, and we know that along with the physical violence, poisonous rhetoric is also visiting a different kind of violence on all too many people. We’re here to say: We won’t stand for it.” 



PEN America and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop today released a joint statement from well over one-hundred writers, artists, actors, and creative professionals calling for an end to anti-Asian and Asian-American sentiment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Signed by Riz Ahmed, Ayad Akhtar, Alexander Chee, Min Jin Lee, Celeste Ng, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and C. Pam Zhang, among many others (click here for a full list of signatories), the statement comes as the two organizations also announced a May 27 online day of action “United Against Hate: A Day of Solidarity” to condemn hate and celebrate Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander writers.

“The time to turn back this wave of hate is now,” the statement reads (full text below). “We, the undersigned, call on everyday citizens to join us in standing in solidarity with all those targeted by hate during COVID-19. Together, we can use the power of our collective voices to call for a more just, equal, and inclusive society. As members of the global literary community, we know well that diversity is a pillar of any liberal democracy, providing rich and varied stories to celebrate.”

The statement comes against the backdrop of a surge in hate crimes, violence, and other assaults against Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders, spurred by hateful rhetoric and often taking place in public spaces. The statement also highlights that public officials and leaders have not taken sufficient steps to address such attacks, and in some cases are promoting theories that blame Asian people for the coronavirus pandemic.

“We realize that this anti-Asian sentiment comes alongside an equally troubling uptick in xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Black violence,” said writer and PEN America Trustee Min Jin Lee. “This is a clarion call that all forms of racist hatred, especially at this moment, are unwelcome, unacceptable, and intolerable. As writers, we reckon with the power of words each day, and we know that along with the physical violence, poisonous rhetoric is also visiting a different kind of violence on all too many people. We’re here to say: We won’t stand for it.”

“The long history of organizing in the AAPI community parallels a longer history of anti-Asian bigotry, and the recent wave of hate is an unfortunate reminder that these racist tropes have been harming Asian American communities for decades,” said AAWW’s executive director Jafreen Uddin. “The AAWW is proud to partner with PEN America in taking a stand against this dangerous rise in bigotry. Our partnership embodies the spirit of coalition-building that has long been at the heart of organizing within the Asian American community and the AAWW’s own work in amplifying marginalized voices through the power of storytelling. History has proven time and again that we are stronger together, and with allies like PEN America on our side, we are able to meet the challenge of this moment as a forceful, united front.”

UNITED AGAINST HATE:

A DAY OF SOLIDARITY

On Wednesday, May 27, PEN America and AAWW will host a virtual day of action “United Against Hate: A Day of Solidarity.” The daylong program will include readings, lectures, poetry, and a teach-in to discuss strategies for combatting and defending against hateful actions and rhetoric. Click here for the full lineup.

Events include a teach-in featuring Jennifer Ho, Floyd Cheung, Pawan Dhingra, and Kathleen Yep; an AAWW Lit Lunch on Instagram Live with Huiyan B. Chan; a panel on countering hate speech with Nadine Strossen, Ishmael Beah, and Helen Zia; and a poetry reading with George Abraham, Kazim Ali, Regie Cabico, Marilyn Chin, Staceyann Chin, Tarfia Faizullah, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Jenny Xie, Monica Youn, and others.

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARY

AGAINST ANTI-ASIAN HATRED

The surge in hate crimes, violence, and verbal assaults against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in recent months is a painful reminder that racism, bigotry, and xenophobia are persistent challenges in the United States. Many of these attacks have been brazen, occurring in public spaces and online. They have been egged on at times by an administration drawing on racist tropes and stereotypes, eager to distract from its own missteps.

Reports of any individuals being spit on, stabbed, beat up, or verbally assaulted are disturbing enough when they are isolated incidents. However, when such attacks are collectively driven by hate, and when they occur in such large volume, the onus lies heavily on civil society and on our elected representatives to condemn them. Shamefully, such voices have been too few in recent months. Attacks continue to be reported in large numbers, and one recent poll found that 32 percent of Americans have witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the coronavirus pandemic. The alarming rise in xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Black violence during this pandemic demands a robust civic response.

The time to turn back this wave of hate is now. We, the undersigned, call on everyday citizens to join us in standing in solidarity with all those targeted by hate during COVID-19. Together, we can use the power of our collective voices to call for a more just, equal, and inclusive society. As members of the global literary community, we know well that diversity is a pillar of any liberal democracy, providing rich and varied stories to celebrate. On behalf of PEN America and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, we invite you to join us on May 27 for a day of action to condemn this scourge; celebrate Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander writers; and to raise your voice to call out hate in all its heinous forms.

Click here to add your name.

This post is courtesy of and in support of PEN America and the Asian-American Writers’ Workshop.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

50 LA area literary organizations appeal to City Council for stimulus funding; PEN America’s Writers’ Emergency Fund grants

February shot of downtown Los Angeles with Mount Baldy in the background after a large snow storm. Photo was taken from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. Photograph courtesy of Alek Leckszas CC BY-SA 4.0

“Publishing and printing alone account for 160,000 jobs in our city, and combined with writers in fashion and entertainment, we make up a significant portion of the creative industry in LA. Supporting arts and the creative community means supporting literary organizations and writers.” said Michelle Franke,



Today, PEN America–alongside 826LA, Lambda Literary, and Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, and close to 50 Los Angeles area organizations–appealed to the Los Angeles City Council to provide support for literary organizations in any upcoming funding decisions related to the COVID-19 recovery. In a letter sent to Council members today, PEN America and its allies insisted literary organizations be specifically represented in any efforts to revitalize the larger arts community in the city.

“The City Council has already done so much to support the arts and nonprofits at this critical time, and we, along with our allies, are hoping to ensure literary organizations are included in those efforts,” said Michelle Franke, executive director of PEN America’s Los Angeles office. “Publishing and printing alone account for 160,000 jobs in our city, and combined with writers in fashion and entertainment, we make up a significant portion of the creative industry in LA. Supporting arts and the creative community means supporting literary organizations and writers. We hope the Council agrees.”

In addition to including literary organizations in future stimulus funding, the letter also calls for relief for commercial rents for nonprofit literary organizations and funding to support a Los Angeles COVID-19 narrative project that would commission and pay writers to document the effects of the pandemic of the lives of people in Los Angeles.

“The literary arts are not optional; they are essential to our city and our communities,” the letter reads. “Writers are our conscience, our watchdogs, leading in the important work of bearing witness to history and helping us make sense of our lives and our world. We must ensure that their work continues.”

PEN America has more than 7,500 writers, journalists, and other literary professionals and their allies as members across the country. Many are facing significant hardships as writing jobs, as well as side gigs, have all but evaporated under the strain of the coronavirus and the concurrent economic downturn. A survey from Americans for the Arts showed that some 95 percent of artists and creative professionals have lost income due to the pandemic. Literary and media arts organizations have reported median losses over $200,000 per organization.

PEN America

WRITERS’ EMERGENCY FUND GRANTS

PEN America’s Writers’ Emergency Fund provides grants of $500 to $1,000 to writers in the United States facing acute financial need as a result of the pandemic.  Since the fund re-launched in response to the crisis in late March, PEN America has received some 850 applications and so far processed grants to 400 writers, including 107 in the state of California.

***

This post is courtesy of PEN America.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Poetry Foundation Offers Poetry Readings, Prompts, Workshops, other activities & educational resources in virtual space for the Time of COVID-19

Photograph of the Poetry Foundation Library in Chicago courtesy of Alanscottwalker under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

“The books [i.e., poetry collections] may not sell, but neither are they given away or thrown away. They tend, more than other books, to fall apart in their owners’ hands. Not I suppose good news in a culture and economy built on obsolescence. But for a book to be loved this way and turned to this way for consolation and intense renewable excitement seems to me a marvel.”  Louise Glück



The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, announced this week that “the health and wellbeing of our community, visitors, and staff remain paramount. We continue to support the City of Chicago’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), and so our building will remain closed to the public until further notice . . .”

Special Programs in Virtual Space

For the Time of COVID-19

Accessible from anywhere in the world . .  . 

“. . . we are offering several programs in virtual spaces. We invite you to explore our new virtual reading series Poetry Off the Stage, interactive writing workshops, and monthly Library Book Club.

“For those seeking inspiration, check out our Poetry & Practice writing prompts organized by age appropriateness, special collections like Poems of Sickness, Illness, and Recovery, and resources for educators and parents teaching at home.”

Follow the Poetry Foundation: website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and ways to engage with poetry.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

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