A Bedpan for Icarus?

Red Wolf Journal recently asked writers to create a poem “borrowed” in theme or language from a famous poem. I’m delighted that they chose my poem”Bedpan for Icarus” which was inspired by W.H. Auden’s work “Musée des Beaux Arts“.

You might recognize the opening lines. But the rest of the work is my own take on his theme. Auden’s poem means a lot to me because I kept reciting it in my head as my mother was dying. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that she passed away long before Dancing With The Stars existed. (She would not have been a fan!)

Read the poem here: http://redwolfjournal.com or below:

A Bedpan for Icarus

About suffering they were never wrong.
The Old Masters. How well they understood
its human position, how it takes place
when someone else is just scarfing down a burrito,
or adjusting their earbuds.

When my mother lay dying, her heart skipping beats,
her pulse losing rhythm, the nurses stood in the hallway,
outside her room, chatting normally,
taking bets on “Dancing With the Stars”,
ordering Mexican food for dinner.

Mother could have been Icarus, falling
from the sky, Icarus needing a bedpan.
I shook my fist at the nurses through the hospital curtain.

And yet, I should have known, we all turn away, quite leisurely,
from disaster, just as Breughel drew.
We run our eyes down the screen,
clicking even as the typhoon hits,
the mosque is bombed, the small child drowns in the Rio Grande.
We hear the splash. We gulp and shake our heads, maybe
mutter a prayer. And then, quite calmly, we move on.

Red Wolf Journal also recently accepted another one of my “borrowed” poems. Grounded:Seventh Day” was inspired by Wallace Steven’s famous “Sunday Morning.

You can read the poem in this link: http://Redwolfjournal.com or below:

Grounded: Seventh Day

Complacencies of the sweatpants,
and a late latte, and those really good blood
oranges from Trader Joe’s.
Stretched out on the couch, pecking at the tablet
like a cockatoo, in the holy hush
of NPR, with the news shrunk and week-end withered,
and then, later, after the laundry’s done, a few
hours along the river, barely a job,
the day like wide water
without sound, not even church bells or a call to prayer,
disinterested in sacrifice or sepulcher,
just grounded on the soft moist earth
holding the entire bickering planet in the Light.

The Compassion Anthology

The Compassion Anthology is a beautiful collection of writing about disasters, refugees, loss. I find it both uplifting and inspiring. I’m honored to have one of my poems included in the latest edition. Please read below:

Emergence: Hurricane

Where did the tortoise go when the winds blew? Did he pull his scaly head inside his shell and ride it out?

Where did the tortoise go when the rains came? Did he get plunged down the ravine like a life-less stone?

When the dock sank, when the church lost its roof, when the porch of the market was sucked into the salt pond…

Where was the tortoise?

Did he dig down into the earth itself, his mouth bloated with mud, his small heart nesting against the roots of the baobab?
Afterwards, no one thought about him. Not at first.
Not when there were men stunned and peeing their khaki shorts, women wandering
in circles, twisting their hair, unable to speak.
Not even later when folks began making their way through the jungle of downed
wires, splintered shutters, hijacked hulls. Now and then coming upon surprises.

A toy bear, soggy, but recognizable. A wedding dress, its lace intact. A bottle of Heineken, unbroken.

But where was the tortoise?

No one knew. No one cared.

And then, in time, everyone lining up like dung beetles, seeking water, signals, familiar faces, those chalky packets of Red Cross food, ever-welcome, even so.
And little by little, a carapace of the old life emerged from the rubble, and the tortoise emerged too.

He was last seen crawling along the Coral Bay Road, his house on his back. Slow as usual, but undeterred.



You might also like to check out the CHARTER FOR COMPASSION with which this anthology is affiliated. This is a document which urges the peoples and religions of the world to embrace the core value of compassion, inspired by Karen Armstrong, the writer and religious scholar.http://www/charterforcompassion.org It is available in thirty languages and embraces forty-five countries around the world.