Dunes have to be sand dunes. Are there other kinds of dunes? Sand dunes are naturally kind of slippery because the sand slips as one walks up anyway; putting ooze on one is kind of painting the lily.
Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp, To guard a title that was rich before, To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet, To smooth the ice, or add another hue Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
I know, I know — “slippery slope” is pretty cliché. But it seemed to work here. The strained and inverted syntax is supposed to reflect the opposing forces of gravity and the climber’s desire to get to the top of the dune. I’m not sure it works; I confess my choices were dictated by what I could draw. What I had verbally sketched out was
…And gnashing teeth —
Lodged in a lethal throw
The slippery slope she barefoot treads
Up the oil-slicked dune…
But I didn’t know how to draw “disgusting” on its own.
Ack. As if getting a verb yesterday wasn’t bad enough, today’s prompt had to be an abstraction. I mean — really? What are the options? There’s always the stand-by of Pandora’s box/jar; the potter could be throwing the container for the legendary woman who supposedly was endowed with all the gifts necessary to make a perfect woman. But I dislike the misogyny of the story.
Then there’s Emily Dickinson’s famous poem that seems to show up on home decoration plaques everywhere these days:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.¹
But the current ubiquity of the poem made the bird option seem trite. So I decided to go ahead and try an abstract representation. Right now, hope seems to me to be a fragile, fragmented thing, an emotion that is bright, but on the verge of disintegrating, rather like the lacy ice that forms on the edge of a pond or frost on a window.
1. Poetry Foundation, 19 October, 2020. Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)
Today’s word — throw — was difficult because my already unsatisfactory drawing skills don’t extend to comprehensible depictions of verbs. My first thought was to go with throw, as in throw rug or throw blanket, but I couldn’t see that going anywhere. So I pulled up the thesaurus and learned that throw also refers to a potter’s wheel. That option seemed much more promising than a blanket. So here we are:
I had rather hoped to give this poem a bit more narrative structure, but I think it’s going to depend more on evocation of mood and feeling than on story. At least it’s Hallowe’en season, so I’ll try to keep it a little spooky.
Writing a poem like this, one word at a time, with the words already chosen, feels a little like trying to channel someone else’s free-association session. It’s an interesting mental/creative exercise.
Another Open Letter to Colorado Senator Cory Gardner
Senator Cory Gardner 1961 Stout Street, Suite #12-300 Denver, Colorado 80294
5 October, 2020
I see that you voted for the bill calling for the Justice Department to to withdraw its support for the lawsuit that would end the Affordable Healthcare Act. I also see that you have introduced your own bill that putatively would protect those of us with pre-existing conditions. I thank you for your vote and hope that it portends a turn toward listening to and caring about the needs and opinions of your constituents.
However, your record of voting against the ACA makes this vote suspect. After the election, if you are returned to the Senate or during the liminal period between the election and the Senate’s new term, will you continue to support the ACA? Your own brief bill, which at first glance seems so promising, does not guarantee that insurers must accept applicants with pre-existing conditions, nor does it it spell out what kinds of coverage a plan must provide, nor does it contain a provision forbidding discrimination based on gender or sex. There are too many loopholes to bolster the impression you seem to want to cultivate that you are ready to stand up for health care and affordable insurance for all of us.
The most effective way to convince us that you do, in fact, care about the lives and health of your constituents, and of all inhabitants of the United States (we’re all too connected, as COVID-19 has taught us, to pretend that we need only be concerned with the health of our neighbours) is to oppose seating a new Supreme Court justice before the Inauguration. The push to put Amy Coney Barrett on the highest bench in the land before the tenth of November is motivated by the intention to destroy the act that has brought affordable insurance to millions of Americans. Commit to voting only for a nominee who will support not just the ACA, but who will also protect women’s health by preserving our reproductive choices, including our right to control our bodies, our lives, and our destinies through access to safe, affordable, and legal abortions.
If you vote for the Justice Department to step away from the legal challenge that is trying to eradicate the Affordable Healthcare Act, but also vote to confirm a new Supreme Court justice to sit in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, a justice who will strike down the ACA and overturn Roe v. Wade, then you are merely attempting to have your cake and eat it, too.
I went for the obvious sense of blade. I could have gone for blade of grass, or shoulder blade, or even roller blade (that one could have been fun), but sometimes the blatant meaning works best. As we approach Hallowe’en, the definition with the potential for menace seemed to suit. We’ll see where it leads.