Prairie Sunset

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is BARK

I considered this from various angles, now here’s my response:

Prairie Sunset

I may have journeyed far and wide,
viewed many sights of worth;
I still call a prairie at sunset
the prize-winning scene on earth.

A ring of fire as the sun dips low
blushing the clouds on high
while waves of mauve and coral
wash over the western sky

In the dust the bark of a coyote,
a nighthawk’s winnowing flight,
the sleepy coos of mourning doves
as twilight turns to night.

Respect + Self-Respect

The Word of the Day Prompt this morning was RESPECT.

To me this is such an inspiring, healthy, upbeat word that I want to write something about it before my day is done.

I was thinking about a fellow Canadian we have a lot of respect for: journalist and author Conrad Black. When he writes, his articles are informative and what my husband and I consider to be a fair and sensible take on his subjects.

This evening, however, I’m thinking of one particular aspect of his life: the experiences he had during the time he was an inmate in one of Uncle Sam’s jails.

A bit of background:
Conrad Black once owned a chain of newspapers in Canada, some in the US, with shares in the Telegraph group in England and a couple of newspapers in Australia. He was living and working in the States when he was arrested and according to Google, “convicted in July 2007 on three counts of mail and wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice”
Mr Black spent 29 months in a Florida prison before being granted bail. When his case came before the Supreme Court, the Court declared the statute under which he was convicted to be unconstitutional. Charges against him were dismissed and he returned to Canada. However, the case against him is not relevant to the direction of this post.

So what does a journalist do when he’s incarcerated? He writes about it, naturally. I read several articles he wrote while he was in prison, and one in particular has stayed with me. That’s where I want to go with this post.

While he was in prison, he just didn’t sit around writing articles. He spend a fair bit of his time teaching other prisoners to read and write — and in giving an education, he got an education. In interacting with the other prisoners, he got a better picture of the workings of the US justice system. In particular, how it works for poor, illiterate men.

Needless to say, he didn’t come away with a high regard for the education system where so many underprivileged children fall through the cracks. This isn’t always the fault of the schools; sometimes there’s just no encouragement from home — no home even. But it’s sad to see that North American schools have been abandoning the basics in favor of the fluff and passing on those who really need help. Illiteracy among Canadians born and raised and schooled here is shocking.

Mr Black, after listening to his fellow inmates, concluded that if you haven’t got the smarts to defend yourself in a court of law, your chances of being convicted are definitely higher. I’ve read a few stories about poor illiterate blacks who barely understood the proceedings being falsely convicted, especially in the South. I don’t think this is so very rare.

He also wrote that if you haven’t got a basic education so you can get a job and earn a decent wage, your chances of ending up in jail are a lot higher. And re-offending. No news there.

Which comes back to my point about respect. Respect for others comes from learning about them as real people. Self-respect, the ability to stand up and face the world, to get ahead, comes from learning, too. It’s pretty hard to keep your head above water if you don’t have a solid rock to stand on. Like basic “Readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.”

I’ve seen this. I’ve a cousin who can’t read her bank statement or a business letter, and couldn’t begin to understand this post. Medical issues are total confusion. When her purse was stolen she didn’t report it because she’s scared of dealing with the police, in case they ask her questions she can’t understand. Lack of remedial classes and a poor home combined to hinder her schooling.

I respect Mr Black for his efforts to work with these men and to give them the basics — and the self-respect — they’d need to build a life outside the prison walls. And I respect and applaud all the folks out there who have taken the time to teach, to mentor, to work with, folks who need a helping hand. They are a mighty army, working unseen.

Which brings me to my friend Margaret’s poem. I’m using it with the confidence that if my dear friend were alive, she’d give her permission. She and her husband Milton were just such people as she describes here.

Quiet Folk
by Margaret Penner Toews

Some folks there are who, quiet, go about
Unseen, unheard, unknown
sowing kernels
digging wells
building bridges
picking stones
raising altars

…planting poignant thoughts in ordinary talk about His Presence,
…dig, and leave no signature, while others draw and drink,
…building bridges over chasms, deeply cut by hate and color, creed and prejudice
…removing stumbling stones of cruelty, indifference and scorn along the road, so those who walk in darkness will not fall
…erecting altars by their hearths, in secret closets, or on busy thoroughfares.

Quietly these folks ‘deliver cities’ (Ecclesiastes 9:14-15)
but no one knows
and no one will remember…
(most certainly not they themselves)

…Except for God…and He will never be a debtor.
He takes a leisurely eternity to give rewards.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From her book, First A Fire
© 1993 by Margaret Penner Toews
Available from PrairieView Press

OCD

Lying in bed last night, I began to think of different things I really need to do. So many! Before long I was in a puddle of despair and my brain short-circuited.

Does this ever happen to you?

so many live wires
sizzling as they cross
OCD

Flash.WikkiMI
WikimediaImages from Pixabay

 

Spiralling

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is LIKE A CIRCLE IN A SPIRAL.

ksenia-k-5ClvdUR-AEU-unsplashI suppose almost every spiral has a circle at its base, like the one in this image posted by KseniaK on Unsplash. But my mind went to another circle: that vice at the bottom of the downward spiral people sometimes find themselves in. Whatever the addiction that entices, when it takes hold, it tries to suck us down.

So here’s my verse, only lightly polished, as my response to today’s prompt:

THE SPIRAL

that first circle
a few young teens giggling
sipping into somebody’s
daddy’s stash of bottles

another whirl, the parties
everybody drinks at them
the high school dances
quick sips in quiet corners
circles spinning her round

somehow, sometime
the bottle reached out
grabbed her by the throat
and wouldn’t let go
fun turned to pain
and the spiral started
pulling her down its dark path

half-sober, she dimly recalls
those coins she once had,
the people she wanted to love
yes, she grabbed for them
wanting desperately to hold on
but one by one they rolled
lost among the empties
the spiral drew her down

the husband who didn’t stay
washed away in the foam,
her children, their eyes round
as they watched their mother
stagger across the house
then downcast, ashamed
when their friends saw her too
they left as soon as they could
and her life was full of empties,
so many circles in her spiral

she sheds a few tears
there in the dark stairway
when she’s sober enough
to remember what she once had
how much those clanking circles
cost as they bottled her

she needs another drink
the blinking neon beckons
across the road she stumbles
not seeing the bright lights
round eyes bearing down
a squeal, and the world spins
the pavement so bruising
perplexingly rises to face her

sirens pierce the night
scream through her brain
colored lights flash
bouncing off the pavement
hurting her eyes – such pain!
gravelly voices rock her mind:
Ma’am? Ma’am can you hear me?
the steady circling, circling
of those flashing lights
wailing, wailing
– or is that her?

A Blooming Wonder

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BLOOM

Where we live, this is definitely the season for blooming. Flowering trees and shrubs, including the chokecherries in the woods beside us, are blossoming in preparation for another summer of production. Spring bulbs are blooming; gardeners are setting out bedding plants.

However, my mind went to another kind of blooming. I’m sure you all have stood on a sunny day and watched the cumulus clouds above you expand and change.

Cloud.AlexasFotos
Image by Alexas_Fotos at Pixabay

I have, and I find observing that process of change fascinating. Before my eyes they seem to bloom. Little white lumps spreading up and out — it’s like watching the time-lapse of a cauliflower developing.

Thoughts are like that in a way — at least mine are. I see a writing prompt and ideas start to form. This morning I chanced to hear another blogger and fellow Christian speaking about the importance of sharing facets of godly wisdom by means of storytelling, and brainwaves started to billow. (Click here to listen to his inspiring talk.)

Thinking of sharing our inspirations, and how ideas and wisdom circulate, I wrote this verse two days ago:

She left a thought that echoed;
her friends bounced it around.
It wasn’t meant to shake the world
but still it seemed profound.

It resonated with her friends
and spread from ear to ear;
whenever it seemed fitting
someone was bound to hear.

It spread to their descendants
this bit of wisdom kind;
it lightened many labors,
eased many a troubled mind.

They were not so outstanding,
those words that soothed one fretter,
but her homespun bit of wisdom
made all our lives the better.

Take care everyone, and don’t be afraid to share your bit of life-learned wisdom today. Who knows but what it may bless many other lives.

Potluck Offering


robin joins
our impromptu picnic
brings the sushi

🙂

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Messin’ and learnin’…

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