Tuesday, July 3, 2012

OpenLinkNight: Beautiful Disaster

discarded baby doll

it's a beautiful thing, this disaster
all the faces gather-ing at the shelter

well manicured ladies with pursed lips
that don't perspire but glisten, daubing
foreheads with silk hankies

Hank the toothless Sasquatch next to them
can't stop talking, fingernails framed
in side street grit---'the snitch moonbeam
is how they found me, i was a prince once
--pass the salt please,' grimace,

small children, having escaped their parents
under the folding table, crawl between knees
and feet, tickling toes, bang shin bones in their search
for purchase cause a few to shift, sQUEal, curse, unkempt

'No Unleaded gas left,' babies crying, babies crYing,
hands mash potato-ed and catapulting, polo shirt lip curls
clean shaven & scented expensive, dirty diaper

lip smacking, floral muumuu arms thick enough
not to crack in the storm, she's got gravity
all her own---the smell, the smell of living

beings, 'Seven to ten more days, i tell you what
i can't take this shit no mo'. They run out o' ice
an i done thawed the peas sitting on 'em,'
high pitch laughing, unshaven legs

little girl unconscious on her thick thigh,
polite moustache faced Indian & humble wife,
burqa, Mr. Obnoxious who can't see why it takes
so long, each anguishing

to stay cool in the heat, power
still out & eat---the rending mastication
of mass produced chicken, broken bread music,
vaguely resembling 'welcome to my world,
please, make yourself comfortable---'

& after eating, i dry shave quick in the communal sink,
press warm water to the cracks of my face, loosing
what is left, straighten my hawk---pause at a baby doll
in the grass on my way on & out, one more day,
one more day---

it's a beautiful thing

Over at dVerse Poets, it is OpenLinkNight hosting this evening by the lovely Claudia - so go write---write whatever you want, just make it poetic...which is not the same as rhyming, just poetic and come join us. The doors open at 3 pm EST. See you there.

Day 4 - Never trust a weatherman. It hit 104 around 2:30 pm yesterday making it four days over 100. A neighbor got a note on the door from the power company that we should expect it back on by Saturday. I hope it was not written by an amateur weatherman. Smiles.

If you are local, LU opened the dining halls and are serving all 3 meals for $3 a person and kids eat free. 

112 comments:

Anne said...

Brian this is just beautiful. I told the Hubby what you were doing during throughout this time and he smiled. Our power is back on and the temps are down into the 90's. Some of our oldest and best friends live in Cambridge Ohio and their store got damaged and they will be without power till Saturday. Even with that tree still sitting half in my kitchen, I've got it easier than you guys. Hang in there and I'll continue to pray for you all. God Bless.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"No Unleaded gas left,' babies crying, babies crYing,
hands mash potato-ed and catapulting, polo shirt lip curls
clean shaven & scented expensive, dirty diaper...


Hi! Brian...
What a very descriptive...right in your readers, face poem...
...I think that you spelled out without mincing any words what happened at the shelter.

Tks, for sharing the image... too!
deedee ;-/

kaykuala said...

This is most unfortunate.The daily convenience is suddenly cut off. You've taken it very well with your verse so compromising. Great verse Brian, just hang on I would say so too!

Hank

Mary said...

Brian, you are an example of how to get through a difficult experience: by writing about it and just facing it one day at a time. And a lesson for all: One more day is a beautiful thing!! I'll be hoping your electricity comes on Saturday.

JANU said...

Oh! you brought back memories. In 2001, we were staying in a city called Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Many parts of Gujarat was hit by a devastating earthquake...well, we shared something like this. It is touching and vivid in imagery...beautiful.

poemsofhateandhope.com said...

So so well observed - showing a humanity warts and all....but with a positivity , a humour shining through....so you got smashed by a storm? And you STILL have no power?....this is a glimpse into that world where our conveniences and luxuries get taken away....all that we have left is us... I'm not sure what I'd do in that kind of heat....crazy

Daniel said...

I was praying for you this morning. Your experience, even through this post, sounds absolutely miserable. I bet that you are longing for peace and quiet and your own special places.

manicddaily said...

Agh! Hot.

You know your post reminds me a bit of what is good/bad about NYC - the subway for example - or the street at times - you are shoved up against/with humanity--good/bad, always interesting and inspiring, though also sometimes dispiriting too.

You write about the moments so vividly and humanly.

Good luck. Crazy.
k.

Daydreamertoo said...

Gosh, I cannot imagine being without power in that heat. Anything over 80 and I'm melting.
This is so gritty/rough/real. None of the fancy pants airy fairy dreaming in this. Some tough days gone and even more to follow. I pray the noter is right about the power being back on Soon too.
I feel so sorry for the poor woman in the burqa, she must be near about passing out in that type of oppressive heat. I can only imagine the smells there of dirty diapers and sweating bodies all huddled up so close.
What a picture you painted. Praying for the power to come back on sooner than they say and the temps drop a bit for you too.

Pat Hatt said...

Quite the cast
As the heat is vast
Toothless and prime and proper
With the outing being a whopper
Bet your counting the days
Until you can cool down those sunny rays

DJan said...

OH, I was there when I read this, Brian. I am so hoping it will be over soon, but then this experience will stop being rendered through your amazing brain. It's okay, it can stop. I've had this and I'm ready. :-)

Barbara Rogers said...

Whenever you open your mouth (typing on computer is less of the image of how you are "talking") you paint the picture so vividly for me (another switch of metaphor.) I hope you and yours have relief from the heat and electical outage soon. Until then, keep finding something (anything!) to laugh about!

JeannetteLS said...

Oh, Brian. May this hell end soon for all of you. How on Earth you spin unearthly beauty out of whatever you go through is beyond me.

YOu are amazing.

SueAnn Lommler said...

You have beautifully expressed the sights and sounds of humanity...waiting in heat...hoping....feeling helpless
Hugging you
SueAnn

aprille said...

Oh Brian, your observational skills are remarkable. Loved the pursed lips [:lups] and glistening capabilities.
Here they would have had blue-rinsed hair.

Being able to deal with people at close-quarters under emergency conditions, is truly a life skill.

Gloria said...

Is really a disaster Brian and Im sorry by you hope all will be better soon; but you describe awesome:) lol

Louise said...

I felt really moved by your poem...how observant you are....really hoping the power comes back on soon. I know I'd wilt in that sort of heat...beautiful writing, & now I'm off to google 'Sasquatch' *smiles*

Myrna R. said...

I've never red a more touching account of survival in a crisis. It sounds awful, and good and human and full of life and ultimately full of love too.

Tabor said...

Just turn of the electricity and Brian gets very creative!

CiCi said...

I guess people dealt with the heat without A/C years ago, but hard to imagine now. It is harder on some and I hope the temps lower soon for you. It is due to reach 100 here again today too but we have power. I will walk to the senior center at noon for lunch but it is only a short block. I appreciate your description of the bodies in the heat as they struggle to survive the heat.

richlyevocative said...

Love it. 'Hank the toothless Sasquatch' in particular.

Dana Dampier said...

This brings me back to a time... several years ago when hurricane Katrina destroyed us. I was pregnant with my first child then and absolutely miserable in the heat. Flooding, no clean water, no electricity, so much loss.

I feel your

Dana Dampier said...

I was going to say I feel for you and yours!

(darn laptop)

ds said...

Oh those highly manicured ladies who never perspire...right next to Hank the Sasquatch! Perfect. Thank you for keeping your wit, humor, and beautiful insights throughout this crisis. One more day...
Somehow the thawed peas say it all. Thank you.

Anna Montgomery said...

Empathetic, searching, wry, and keenly observed poem. You turn experience into art, an admirable achievement that makes life beautiful.

mrs mediocrity said...

This is good, as always, I love the way you show your love for humanity through your words...

Hang in there, though I know it must be so tough... keeping my fingers crossed for a break in the weather for you, at least.

Sue said...

Such a drag, but it sure makes you appreciate those once-taken-for-granted amenities when they return!

Hope the return sooner than later, Brian.

=)

Claudia said...

love that you see the beauty in this unhappy situation and love that you bring the people alive for us with your pen...very nice job poet..smiles..and ugh on the heat..doesn't make it easier..

Arron Shilling said...

Cutting a swathe thru the major and showing the minor in order to see the bigger picture - SKILLZ!!!

great job brian... straightening the hawk is both deft and def...

MOS!!!

hope your ok bro!

Titanium said...

Sending you great heaping truck-fulls of virtual glacier ice from the Frozen North...

You do a fantastic job of weaving the aches and pains of the everyday into a tapestry rich with local color, vibrant words and a beat that echoes for thousands of miles.

Seriously hoping that the weather breaks soon.

ayala said...

A great capture...I feel like I am there...thinking of you and yours.

Eva Gallant said...

I just hope you and your family are able to cope! 100+ degree heat and no electricity! Definitely not an enviable situation. Hope it cools down some and you get power back soon!

Kristina said...

sounds rather chaotic...

Hannah said...

Oh it breaks down by revealing these divisions!!! An amazing write, Brian...love this image:

"fingernails framed
in side street grit---"

wow to lots of them...this will be in a book someday.

Bradley Howington said...

Incredibly brilliant!

ordinarylifelessordinary said...

WOW Brian. Firstly let me wish you and your family all the best, and know that I am thinking of you. Secondly.... oh man oh man do I love the concept of something beautiful coming from disaster, it resonates so much. I try to live by that when times get hard, and remember that things happen for a reason and all will be revealed in time. I know I am a better human being as a result of some of my own personal disasters and I hope you and yours will end up richer for this hardship... Sounds corny I'm sure and easy for me to say sitting here unaffected! I love how you have painted a picture of all human life contained within that shelter, the rich ladies and their pursed lips next to the toothless man... more rich ladies should sit with the toothless! Sadly those women will most likely walk away and back to the same life. It takes someone with vision like yours to really appreciate the value in what you have observed and experienced.... wow, longest comment ever, sorry!

hedgewitch said...

You make a lot of beauty and smarts out of this disaster, bri--I feel like I sat in that shelter myself(except for being much much cooler and connected to the internet and stuff) and watched the people dealing--a fascinating thing, especially when someone like you is retelling it. Hang in there man--I keep thinking, with our weather, 'there but for the grace of...' but I wish it never had to happen to anybody.

poemblaze said...

It's always wonderful to read your poetry and see what unexpected turns, what unique phrases you will share.

Laurie Kolp said...

So happy you see the beauty in this... what an interesting picture you have painted with the people from all walks of life gathered together as equals. That's wonderful. 'One day at a time' is perfect for this. Hang in there, my friend.

Chris Okelberry said...

very evocative. I love the powerful descriptions...the experience is so disturbingly vivid.

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Brian, what strikes me most is the imagery, the personalities, those exquisite small details (the baby doll... why has it been discarded? Lost? What happened to its owner?), the woman with big arms... you know, it's times like these when life proves to be The Great Equalizer. Lady with a brooch hangin' near the homeless - and unable to avoide them or step over them. Powerful. Amy

Beachanny said...

Weird while reading this my mind flashed on what a hell the siege of Atlanta in 1864 must have been with no weekend for cooling in sight and not much hope for peace. I think your write was so evocative and I guess thinking of our history today took me to the realization of how much we have to really be grateful for! Hope you get home soon.

Nara Malone said...

I feel for you all. Your words bring the crazy quilt of personalities to life. I hope you get the power back before Saturday.

Charles Miller said...

It's pretty amazing how disaster can bring us together, even where Sasquatch can find his place and compassion. I love these unruly moments, where all the social conventions lose rigidity abd people can be themslves, somehow naked and forgiving in their need and anxiety. I know the circumstances are harsh, and it is best that they not have occurred, especially for those experiencing loss, but I believe that it moments like these which bring us close to real community. Beautiful indeed!

colleen said...

Well it definitely brings the neighbors out. We too have no power. I'm up in the mountains of Floyd, 40 miles north of Roanoke. I especially like the mumu lady stanza. I got immersed in the story you painted with words.

FrankandMary said...

Kids eat free. I think that is your signal to have more kids, Brian.

pandamoniumcat said...

It's always inspiring the spirit that is around after a disaster...in the floods that hit Queensland people were brilliant...everyone out with mops etc...ready to clean up Brisbane it was beautiful.
This is a fabulous observational piece and you take us there with you... people from all walks of life coming together it is a beautiful thing...I do hope things get back to normal soon for you all and thankyou for the poem...it's quite emotional!

Andrew Kreider said...

Sending the very best to you and yours, Brian. This is beautifully observed. I loved your pause at the baby doll at the end. I think I remember another doll in a recent poem of yours - there's something so poignant about the image of a lost/abandoned doll. Beautiful and haunting.

Christopher Reilley said...

As always Brian - you do not disappoint. I could feel myself there with you, the moment was captured in all its texture.

Pam Rosep said...

Oh my!Great rythm here. Some of your expressions are so captivating to read. "polo shirt lip curls clean shaven .." Neat

lifeisaroadtrip said...

It's actually a very fine line that separates the have and have-nots.

Please stay cool and upbeat. xxoo

Peter Wilkin said...

Your oxymoronic title sets the scene for this glorious mix of humanity, brought to life within your wonderfully descriptive poem. A cross-section of society, most of whom are living behind their own agendas. And a broken doll outside ... lost in the heat of the disaster. Masterful, Brian ~*

Becky Sain said...

What a great wonderful story about such a hard time.
This is so many stories all here, great stuff Brian.

Heather Grace Stewart said...

Oh that doll on the grass- what an image. Your imagery is stunning here. You are a beautiful writer, with a beautiful soul. My thoughts & prayers are with you and yours.

zongrik said...

just goes to show how the masses just don't worry about disasters and then the ones who do think about it an plan, we have to take care of the rest

adan said...

there's a lot of stuff i haven't done in my life, but being left w/out power is definitely one of them, esp when it hits a whole community, and you have CAPTURED it!

great working of the image-moments, i was there w/you in memory and in remembering

esp liked,

"dry shave quick in the communal sink” -

man that's brave, i would've let it go/grow, though in the heat and grime the itch can be terrible

hang in w/your guys, sounds like you'll have plenty to tell folk about ;-)

take care brian ;-)

Magpie said...

Grist for the mill.

Fred Rutherford said...

Damn, power still out, I hope for your sake it gets on soon, Saturday seems like forever away in this case, and the heat damn. At least it wasn't in subzero winter, just trying to cheer you up some.. Great character portrayals here, love the dialogue. Really excellent write, probably between sweat beads, no doubt

henry clemmons said...

Hope you have your electricity back. Great capture of a shelter. Got caught once in a hurricane in Florida. Kicked us out of our condo. Spent the night in a school. Quite a change in environment, but fun in its own way.

Victoria said...

OMG, Brian. I've been mostly off-line because of a tendon problem but though of you when I heard about the situation in VA and other states. Only someone like you could discover in this such incredible creative inspiration. (I read back over the last few days). I hope all will be well soon.

glittertheair said...

Brian, I am not 100% sure what is going on over there but I have heard there has been big some storms! You are in my thoughts :)

Pat said...

Everyone's equal at the shelter. Doesn't matter what their background is, right?

Sure hope you get power back soon!

Heaven said...

I like how even in the face of calamity and challenge, you find beauty in the day ~ I like the smell of the living and broken music bread ~ Take care ~

C said...

Seems an ill wind blows SO<EBODY good!

I was in an very damaging earthquake in 1987 and spent just one night in a community shelter. In the middle of the night a major aftershock hit, and the ceiling tiles started to come down in the big room, falling on us where we lay in rows on our cots. We all ran out -- just what they say you should NOT do.

I wrote a first person piece for the local newspaper, where I was then a reporter/editor. And was fortunate enough to get an award from the Associated Press for that one -- inlcuidng a small cash prize that nearly paid for the dishes that the main quake had smashed at my place. May your poem find equal success!

marousia said...

Fantastic - you've out done yourself this week - every little detail is so alive - I am envious :)

libithina said...

Oh Brian, I sure hope that power comes back on real soon for you all - son very sorry your all having such a terrible time over there -and to think we have had so much rain - it's unreal you would hink it was NOvember rather than Summer - something is skewed here - we should be able to swop - read Gays comment and must say I too went to the shelters in the war, when the bombs were going to fall and there was blackout - everyone gathered in the shelters - and sang songs, anything ton mask the real fears, of whether there was going to be a home, when the bombing ceased for the night - brought people closer together - your words are as always son powerful Brian - sending my best wishes to you and your family - (glad my little offering made you smile just for a moment) hugs Lib

Betsy Brock said...

At least your hawk is straight. :)

Marbles in My Pocket said...

I feel your pain, Brian. Being without power for an extended time is not fun. A great description of the shelter crowd and goings on. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

emmett wheatfall said...

Brian, an outstanding narrative. The tale is told sequentually and is a delight how you us go from one character to the other. A solid piece my friend.

Me said...

A few years back, most of Ontario and several north eastern states experienced a huge power failure. We had no power for a several days (some areas 2-3 days, others up to a week) in August of 2003...but no heat wave and not as prolonged as you are experiencing, so I know it's not the same, but...

It really was quite an incredible experience, seeing just how unprepared we are for things. No gas, water conservation, no subway, gridlocked roads full of cars out of gas...craziness.

But also...seeing the stars at night like I've never seen in my life, no light polution to dim them. And neighbours helping neighbours, impromptu street parties when everyone bbq'd up what was in the freezer before it spoiled and shared it around with anyone who wandered by. So much loss and hardship, but in the midst of it all, humanity can shine. I hope you are seeing a little of that too...You're in my prayers, Brian.

Be well,
C.

Vicki Lane said...

Powerful work coming out of your powerless days/daze.

The old man in the pale blue hearse with Confederate flag upholstery -- wow! That image is going to stay with me.

Hoping you and your area get relief soon!

turtlememoir said...

brian this is imo the best kind of writing, the way you bring the reader into the shelter with that wonderful attention to detail... just amazing really & i do love your attitude

Mama Zen said...

This is one of your best ever, Brian! Wow!

Apryl Gonzales Sweet said...

Love this!I am thankful your art expresses the raw truth of humanity. Hang in there! Beauty in the broken :)

irene said...

I love how your pen made the title become real, such an uplifting conclusion. It's all in the mind!

Kelly E said...

Wow, Brian. I love the mishmash, chaotic feel of this - vivid, gritty, and beautifully human. Great piece.

DQPoetry said...

I think you've hit on one of the great strengths of poems here Brian, the abilty to record and deal with life's realities

some interesting characters to go through it with as well!

Good luck, thoughts are with you all

Kamana said...

your love and empathy comes through strong

C Rose said...

The expression you have given this event has been captivating because of the essence it carries. I, although felt for the misery this situation is causing, can see the eye of the poet, the observant one, watching the classes forced to marry, a shotgun wedding of disaster proportions as it where. Really significant and timely writing send my best <3 ~ Rose

Chris Lawrence said...

how to put a hundred feelings and images in one poem so that comes at you and you cannot miss it, brilliant

@ami said...

I love that you can find the beautiful in the disaster. Hang in there.

{ami}
http://sundrysumthins.wordpress.com/

Valerie said...

So descriptive. It reminded me of the war years, the raids, and the shelters. But at least the parents were prepared with food and stuff. Praying that your power comes on and the temps improves pretty soon. For me an improvement in temperature means warmer and drier ... just the opposite to yours.

Had to Google Sasquatch. Wow!

Dave King said...

Superb. This is devastating in its implications for the society we have built and the way we go about our lives.

Steve E said...

"One Day At A Time suddenly takes on a new meaning, calling for new patience, tolerance, hope, trust.

And yet you, Brian, by your very presence, bring a cheerful aura to wherever you be.

Even with all that, God smiles.

Gerry Snape said...

what a world we live in! you...roasting and thirsting for cool water...us swimming and soggy and longing for the sun...the sun please God the sun!!! you have put this so well ...thankyou.

Polly said...

As Gerry says, there can't be much more of a contrast between UK and your environment right now ... powerful writing Brian

TALON said...

There is a feeling of camaraderie that happens at times of disasters that reinforces my deep belief that most people have deep pools of goodness tucked inside, even if the pools aren't always easily accessible.

Have as happy a Fourth of July as you and your family can, Brian!

Maggie May said...

Suddenly finding yourself with out mod cons ..... people used to manage. I wonder how they did it?
Great verses.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Natasha Head said...

Keep that hawk straight, Poet...many could be clinging to its coiffed appearance as the promise of a return to normality...keep the cool...and forgive the weatherman...perhaps he was suffering heat stroke? Sorry to be so late to the party...loved the write

otin said...

Sounds awful there.....

Sue Judd said...

Great write, very evocative.

Annette said...

You painted these people so well. I could see them all. The two that phrases that I most loved, and are staying with me are the mumu arms and fingernails framed with side street grit. Exactly!

Annette said...

Oh, and I keep forgetting to identify myself on Blogger (I have a blogger blog and so my name link goes there instead). Annette Mickelson http://hoofprintsinmygarden.wordpress.com/

flaubert said...

Brian, I am sorry for the horrible heatwave you are experiencing. I cannot stand heat over 80, and 100 is unthinkable. But, it made for an excellent write.

Pamela

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Beautifully written. Here's to hoping the power comes back on soon...

jackie dick said...

Brian, you really need to host a seminar on "How To Make Beautiful Poetry Out of Crap." What a piece this is...what acute observations! Hope the power returns soon.. Meanwhile..love this!

jackie dick said...

Brian, you really need to host a seminar on "How To Make Beautiful Poetry Out of Crap." What a piece this is...what acute observations! Hope the power returns soon.. Meanwhile..love this!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

What strikes me the most is how full of life and energy this disaster crowd was!

Aidz Giannini said...

Okay we have linked again with the handkerchiefs!

Loving the tone set from the outset and the tale you drifted me into, love it when I get absorbed into another world

PattiKen said...

I'm comment #100! Parcheesi!

When you look, you really SEE, and we are so lucky that you share it with us. I'm holding good thoughts for you and your family, and for all those poor people roasting in the heat along with you.

Yousei Hime said...

You're making me happy I'm in Texas where it's only mid-90's. Wishing you cool and power.

Archna Sharma said...

Wow dude, this is raw...and it happens to be what you are going through right now. I'm sorry.

The stench of communal living is vivid here. It's awesome that you are still writing throughout this experience(I love that your writing is just an attachment to your day, just like our limbs).

This makes me think of a term we use in our house sometimes. 'beautiful chaos'. I hope your days are more beautiful and less disastrous real soon. Many blessings.

Semaphore said...

Your poem brought back many memories. This was the backdrop of my life in the tropical third-world, with temperatures routinely soaring in the dry season, and power outages commonplace. That past defines how lucky I am, how lucky we are, in the circumstances of comfort we've all gotten so used to.

Unknown Mami said...

You can make art out of any situation.

Tara Miller said...

I love this! You always weave such description into your writing as to put the reader in the story.

It's been a tough few days I'll admit - but it's also been nice to see our community pull together, help one another out and show kindness and equality amongst all since we're all in the same boat. Hoping this would continue on even after our power comes back....

Gloria said...

Dear Brian Happy 4th July to you and your family!

poeticlicensee said...

Events like you describe teach some of us appreciation for the most humble of creature comforts. Some others never learn their lessons because they don't study...

ladyfi said...

Such a beautiful description of life.

Hope you get the power on soon!

Zuzana said...

You find inspiration to write beautifully even in trying times...
Hang in there dear friend, sorry about your ordeal - I guess you get a taste of what it was like for people before AC (and electricity;).
Keeping my fingers crossed that the power comes back on soon,
my thoughts and hugs to you and your loved ones.
xoxo

Poet Laundry said...

This was really cool to read. Thanks for bringing us into this fascinating human experience.

RMP said...

you paint so vividly with your words the shelter comes alive in sounds, smells...tickling every one of the senses.

Raven said...

All that I can say is WOW! More and more, you amaze me. Have you read C.K. Williams? I think that you might like him. I could really, really sense, feel and smell the shelter ... now that is pretty good considering that I have lost my sense of smell. Am at the OBX with the kids and not writing at the moment, Liz