Story-tellers, Dancers, Loud laughers in the hands of Fate— My People. Dish-washers, Elevator-boys, Ladies’ maids, Crap-shooters, Cooks, Waiters, Jazzers, Nurses of babies, Loaders of ships, Porters, Hairdressers, Comedians in vaudeville And band-men in circuses— Dream-singers all, Story-tellers all. Dancers— God! What dancers! Singers— God! What singers! Singers and dancers, Dancers and laughers. Laughers? Yes, laughers….laughers…..laughers— Loud-mouthed laughers in the hands of Fate.
A poet, novelist, fiction writer, and playwright, Langston Hughes is known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties and was important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance.
We are marching, truly marching Can’t you hear the sound of feet? We are fearing no impediment We have never known defeat.
2. Like Job of old we have had patience, Like Joshua, dangerous roads we’ve trod Like Solomon we have built out temples. Like Abraham we’ve had faith in God.
3. Up the streets of wealth and commerce, We are marching one by one We are marching, making history, For ourselves and those to come.
4. We have planted schools and churches, We have answered duty’s call. We have marched from slavery’s cabin To the legislative hall.
5. Brethren can’t you catch the spirit? You who are out just get in line Because we are marching, yes we are marching To the music of the time.
6. We are marching, steady marching Bridging chasms, crossing streams Marching up the hill of progress Realizing our fondest dreams.
7. We are marching, truly marching Can’t you hear the sound of feet? We are fearing no impediment We shall never know defeat.
Carrie Law Morgan Figgs was born in 1878. A teacher, community leader, playwright, and poet, Figgs was the author of Poetic Pearls (Edward Waters College Press, 1920) and Nuggets of Gold (Jaxon Printing Company, 1921), as well as several plays. She died in 1968.
You may recognise the name of the medieval Welsh bard, Dafydd ap Gwilym, and that of his famous poem, Cywydd y Gal or Ode to the Penis. What you may not know is that medieval poet, Gwerful Mechain, wrote a response to his poem nearly a century later. Cywydd y Cerdor is an ode to the vagina, praising it and condemning the men who ignore it in favour of a woman’s more acceptable features: “Lovely bush you are blessed by God above”. It is one of her most well-known verses and encapsulates the themes and values that her poetry embodies.
Gwerful Mechain (c.1460-c.1502) wrote about female sexuality and domestic issues during a time when women’s rights were non-existent. Her poetry has been brought to a modern English-speaking readership through translations by academics. Most notably by Katie Gramich in her 2018 anthology of The Works of Gwerful Mechain.
You might think that Mechain’s work would be isolated from her male contemporaries, and that she would have been shunned as a social outcast. However, her poetic exchanges with popular contemporary bards such as Dafydd Llwyd and Llywelyn ap Gutyn suggest that Mechain enjoyed popularity and her poetry was well-regarded by her male contemporaries.
The medieval feminist
She was a poet with a strong sense of justice and morality. For many poets of the time, such sentiments were confined to religious devotion. For Mechain, however, they were not. Instead, she drew on religious learning to represent the lowly serving class by writing poetry about domestic and corporeal acts in a sacred and almost ritualistic way.
To her maid as she shits
She squats and lets out her water‒cascading
From the cauldron of her pants as she totters;
Her twin holes make a great bubbling clamour
Then comes the dung and a rainbow arch of water.
Her use of language here would have been expected in religious poetry celebrating Christ, not in a poem about an act that medieval society would have considered unworthy of refined praise.
The righteous sense of justice revealed in her poetry extends beyond the serving class. To Her Husband for Beating Her is a scathing and surprising remark on domestic abuse in medieval households.
To her husband for beating her
A dagger through your heart’s stone‒on a slant
To reach your breastbone;
May your knees break, your hands shrivel
And your sword plunge in your guts to make you snivel.
This theme is continued in her response to Ieuan Dyfi’s poem, Red Annie, a cywydd (Welsh poetic measure) that laments how false women have been throughout the ages. Mechain uses robust and playful language to express how women are often the victims of male oppression and how it is women who are more honourable and virtuous than men.
Tiborea, the mother of Judas the traitor,
She was a loving wife, don’t hate her,
No one was safe from her pointed words. To Jealous Wives, a satirical poem, is a favourite.
But these damn wives, so respectable
Won’t give up their cocks delectable
In this poem, she berates married women for keeping their men to themselves. Her choice of language reduces men to their genitalia. She presents it as a separate identity that has an important position within the household, and in married women’s hearts. This poem is an example of her humorous and satirical writing style.
A nobel poet
Her collection of satirical, religious, righteous and humorous verse gives Mechain’s unashamedly feminist poetry a timeless quality. To understand why Mechain was allowed to have such a strong and overtly female voice in a patriarchal society, it is important to consider her social standing. She was the daughter of Hywel Fychan (later anglicised to Vaughan) from Mechain, Powys. Her father was part of the noble Vaughan family of Llwydiarth. Her nobility might have given her the confidence to speak with authority.
Her poetry has interested academics and modern readers not just because she is a medieval female bard ‒– the only known one to have a substantial surviving body of work –‒ but because of how equally she was received and how the content of her work was not dissimilar to that of her male contemporaries.
It seems to me that she was never a curiosity of her age, although she had all the qualities of one, and that she was regarded as an equal by her male counterparts. As Katie Gramich states in her introduction to The Works of Mechain, she is “confident in her own craft and opinions”. And, in that, her work remains as powerful today as it did in the 15th century.
Zoos can’t just shut down and send everyone home. Daily maintenance is required for all exhibits from feeding to assisting births, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave the alligators, bears, and big pussycats without food. So, if we can’t go to the zoo, we can still watch the animals. Zoos around the world who have been posting photos and live-action videos of theirs.
I’m starting with the Bronx, because I grew up here and live here now. The Bronx Zoo has posted footage of a newly hatched blue penguin chick in the cupped hands of a zookeeper and a Malayan tiger splashing around in his watering hole. These were tweeted, so open the tweet to see the baby blue penguin and watch the tiger swim.
“As the coronavirus pandemic leaves the world’s major cities deserted by humans, animals have been spotted enjoying the peace and quiet. The global outbreak of the virus has seen many countries such as Spain, Italy, Japan and Chile, as well as the UK, impose a lockdown on citizens. But mother nature is making the most of the situation, with various wild animals spotted reclaiming the streets of some of the world’s most densely populated areas.”
Here are mountain goats on the street of a town with an unpronounceable name in Wales
In Santiago, Chile, a puma on the street
Boars in Paris
While Bergamo in northern Italy is one of the country’s worst affected areas, this wild boar took her piglets out for a wander.
Spotted deer –Tirupati in India’s Uttar Pradesh region
Of course, there is much more on-line now. Check the Duck Duck Go, animal cams, or use Google if that’s more your thing.
That’s all folks, for now. I’ll be posting more often since my chaos has calmed down to normally chaotic.
Hi, everyone. It’s been too long since I’ve posted, but what a time to come back now! Anyway,
The pandemic is on at this writing, and it seems that misinformation is spreading as quickly as the virus. Rumors, conspiracies, and fake facts abound, for example, Rush Limbaugh’s assertions:
“Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. … I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” And further, “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump,”
Chanel Rion, reporter for right-wing tilted news network OANN, asked about the China connection: Is it alarming that major media players…are consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals, and Latin gangs and cartels…” So, China and the Democrats are working against Trump, taking his insistence on using the term “Chinese Virus.”
-Julio Rosa, OANN, March 19th.
The World Health Organization is providing real information on its sites. Their first page provides situation reports, a dashboard of locations in the form of a map, a section for travel, another for media, and a Mythbusters page, debunking the nonsense that keeps coming out. No, the disease is not just for tropical climates; every climate reported cases. Rinsing your nose with salt water won’t prevent infection, and neither will pouring alcohol or bleach all over your body.
and DuckDuckGo has a separate search for COVID info. Just type covid-19 in the search bar. The first page provides detailed information about the condition, enough information to make you feel sick without actually having the virus. Another excellent source is the Covid-19 site of the National Institutes of Health, nis.gov. Their other site, Coronavirus (COVID-19) | National Institutes of Health, provides resources links and a link to subscribe to updates. Google (of course) chimes in with a link on the home page, Virus Tips, with links to AlJazeera,The Guardian, and the LA Times. New York Times calls theirs Coronavirus Tips.
Now that Google knows I’m interested in the virus, I’ll see how many anti-virus ads pop up. (See my poem, “Dirty Data.”)
That’s all, folks. The information is real so I can guarantee that, but I can’t guarantee your not getting sick of reading about it. And otherwise,
Muttering imprecations at the top,
The pinnacle of tensions, highest grade,
The maximum of shaking held within,
While vocalizing silently in screams
Of frequencies beyond all thought of sound.
(Another world arises over all
In counterpoint to what we hope we know.)
I had enough but know I will see more,
Until such baggage eats itself and dies,
Leaving imagery that can work.
I long have had enough of others’ fears,
Those attitudes of structure to maintain,
As how am I to smile and where and when.
Now look at me as caught in Winter swoon,
My inner brabble magnified to war,
Where I can hear the noise, the shouts and shots–
Stomping on this poem–now shut it up!
Jack Tricarico is both a painter, poet and Tai chi instructor. He evolved out of a commercial art background into full time painting. As he states: “Art has always felt as a necessity for me. I develop an image exclusively on impulse, based in my immediate reaction to a blank surface. This reaction is primarily chaotic. Gradually an underlying structure arises, reflecting an interconnected whole.”
Exhibitions: 220 Gallery, N.Y. C., August, 2008, Group Show
Tompkins Square Gallery, N.Y. One Man Show, January, 2005
G.R.A. Gallery, N.Y.C. Group Show, October, 1999
N.Y. C. Studio School Gallery, N.Y.C, Group Show, January, 1999
La Mama La Galleria, N.Y. C., Group Show, December, 1997
James Barker Gallery, N.Y. C. One Man Show, June, 1985
Azuma Gallery, N.Y. C. Group Show, September, 1980
Nippon Gallery, N.Y.C. Group Show, June 1975
The Actor’s Gallery, N.Y.C. One Man Show, September, 1963
The Paz Gallery, N.Y.C. One Man Show, June, 1963
Education: The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture. Painting, Drawing, and Art History
The Art Students League of N.Y.
Painting, Drawing, and Art History / The School of Industrial Art. Commercial Art, and Illustration.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known—cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all,—
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle,
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me,
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.