“On a Saturday in the Anthropocene” by American Poet Elizabeth J Coleman


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American Poet Elizabeth J Coleman
Photo Credit: Website of Elizabeth J Coleman

My Poetry Corner July 2021 features the poem “On a Saturday in the Anthropocene” from the anthology HERE: Poems for the Planet (Copper Canyon Press, 2019) edited by Elizabeth J Coleman an American poet, public-interest attorney, environmental activist, and teacher of mindfulness. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Swarthmore College, she practiced law for over thirty years and has served as an executive at several organizations.

In 2012, she received an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She credits Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness for her decision to become a late-career poet. She lives in New York City where she runs Mindful Solutions LLC and is president of the Beatrice R and Joseph A Coleman Foundation.

In the anthology HERE: Poems for the Planet, Coleman brings together her love for poetry, for justice, and for our planet. With a foreword from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, HERE explores our planet’s beauty and plight through the vision of 128 living poets from all over the world.

“When we see photographs of the earth from space, we see no boundaries between us, just this one blue planet, a natural world that supports us all. Therefore, we have to see humanity as one family and the natural world as our home. It’s not necessarily somewhere sacred or holy, but simply where we live—so it’s in our interest to look after it,” writes the Dalai Lama.

The anthology is divided into five sections. In the first section that puts us in touch with the beauty of our planet, Kentuckian farmer and poet Wendell Berry gives us “The Peace of Wild Things” (p.40):

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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The Writer’s Life: Book Cover Art & Design


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Front Cover of The Twisted Circle: A Novel by Rosaliene Bacchus
Cover Art & Design by Rosaliene Bacchus

When I left the convent in December 1977, my career as an art and geography high school teacher smashed against the boulders defending Guyana’s coastline. Broken and lost, I was set adrift—without purpose or direction for my return to secular life. Inspiration for my creative artistic expression vanished with the prevailing winds. Never to return…until now.

On completion of my second novel, The Twisted Circle, I had contacted two artists I knew about designing my front cover. Both declined to take on the project. Book cover design was not part of their expertise. In 2019, I considered contracting the services of a book cover designer on Fivver.com. Then something peculiar happened during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown. Amid the doldrums of anxiety and uncertainty, inspiration for taking on the project myself surfaced like a bubble from the ocean floor. Our subconscious mind works in mysterious ways.

Inspired by real events, The Twisted Circle tells the story of two religious women, Guyanese Sister Barbara Lovell and American Sister Frances Adler, torn apart by obsession and entitlement. Within the confines of the community’s Santa Cruz convent, isolated in Guyana’s northwest rain forest region, they are ensnared in a twisted circle of deceit. The symbiotic relationship between the nuns and predatory priests is brought into the light. The Forest Spirits guard dark secrets. Raven knows.

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California Faces Extreme to Exceptional Drought…Yet Again


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I was so consumed with the COVID-19 pandemic that I paid no attention to the lack of rainfall in the early months of 2020 and 2021. To tell the truth, I enjoyed the dry winter months. I got to spend more time gardening. Cold and damp days kill the joy of being outdoors. Then, on May 10, California Governor Newsom grabbed my attention when he placed 41 counties, 30 percent of our state’s population, under a drought state of emergency.

“With the reality of climate change abundantly clear in California, we’re taking urgent action to address acute water supply shortfalls in northern and central California while also building our water resilience to safeguard communities in the decades ahead,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment, and call on all Californians to help meet this challenge by stepping up their efforts to save water.”

Learning that water storage in Lake Mead and Lake Powell has now fallen to about 35 percent of their capacity is also alarming. America’s two largest reservoirs, created by dams along the Colorado River, provide water to 40 million Americans and irrigation for more than 4 million acres of farmland across California and six other states—Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Twenty-nine Native American Tribes also depend upon the Colorado River Basin for their water supply and preserving fish and wildlife habitats. The Bureau of Reclamation has forecast that the Lake Mead reservoir will hit a historic low of 1,065 feet by the end of 2021. The future of this reliable water resource is now at risk.

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“Father’s Presence” by Brazilian Music Composer & Poet Leonardo André


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Brazilian Music Composer & Poet Leonardo André
Photo Credit: Official Website at WiX.com

My Poetry Corner June 2021 features the poem “Father’s Presence” (Presença de Pai) by Leonardo André, a Brazilian music composer, music teacher, writer, and poet. He composed his first song at the age of thirteen. In the 1980s, during his years as an undergraduate pursuing an Artistic Education at The Marcelo Tupinambá College in the City of São Paulo, he frequented several poetry groups and joined the Santo Amaro Poets Association.

A year after his graduation, André released five self-published books at the 1990 Biennial Book Fair in São Paulo. These include three children’s books and two poetry collections, Verses that Sing (Versos que Canto) and Verses of Love, Desires, Longing and Solitude (Versos de Amor, Desejos, Saudade e Solidão).

In “Father’s Presence,” André pays homage to a father who is a positive role model in his life. What is made clear at the outset is his father’s constant presence.

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COVID-19 Update: California Reopens on June 15, 2021


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City of Los Angeles – California – USA
Photo by Enric Cruz Lopez on Pexels.com

These past 15 months under lock-down, social distancing, and mask-wearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic have tested my mental and physical health. Weekends spent outdoors gardening have saved my sanity. To my knowledge, only five neighbors got sick with the coronavirus. None of them were hospitalized. I give thanks that they have all fully recovered.

I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on February 25 and the second dose on March 18. Though the vaccine is now readily available to all Californians 12 years and over, my adult sons have yet to receive their first shot.

The County of Los Angeles is now dangling Vaccination Sweepstakes. Those who get vaccinated from June 11 to June 17 will have the chance to win a pair of Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers or Los Angeles Clippers season tickets for next season. If you’re a resident of Los Angeles County, is 18 years or older, and is a football fan, now is your chance.

The State of California’s vaccine incentive program, Vax for the Win, is better yet! All Californians who have had at least one vaccine dose are automatically entered. On June 15, ten more winners will be selected to receive $1.5 million each. That’s not money to ignore in these harsh economic times. Since the program was launched, roughly 2 million people have reportedly taken the shot. As at June 11, our state has administered nearly 40 million vaccines. Over 70 percent of Californians 18 years and over have received at least one dose.

“California is on track for a safe reopening next week [on June 15] thanks in large part to the efforts of so many residents who have done their part in getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health.

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The Writer’s Life: Self-Publishing My Second Novel


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Frustrated – Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

On Tuesday, June 1st, after I failed to access my business e-mail account at rosalienebacchus.com, I called Tech Support. My tone must have been belligerent, because the guy at the other end of the line kept saying, “I’m trying to help you, Ma’am.” I snapped when he told me to download the Google Chrome browser. Another browser was the last thing I needed. I refused to comply and ended the call.

How wrong I was to believe that I was coping well with my frustrations over the past seven weeks!

Following my action plan, I contacted Lulu Publishing on April 15th to begin the self-publication process of my second novel, The Twisted Circle. Their reply was devastating. The One-on-One Author Support Plan that I had used when publishing my debut novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, ended in July 2020. I assume that this service was yet another victim of the 2020 pandemic lock-down.

It took me a week to get my bearings. The prospect of working with another self-publishing service provider was not at all appealing. Besides, I am very satisfied with the services that Lulu provides for the global distribution and sales control of my first novel, Under the Tamarind Tree. I made my decision: I would proceed on my own with the help of Lulu’s Book Creation Guide. Their Knowledge Base also provides helpful resources throughout the process.

During my years working in international trade, the computer and I have had a shaky relationship. I mastered only the essential. Book design and production demand new software skills. I can do this, I reassured myself. Just take one step at a time at my own pace. No pressure.

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Countdown to World War NZE 2050


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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Some promises are made in good faith. Then, as often happens in our lives, another commitment that we consider more important or urgent sabotages our best intentions. This appears to be the case with pledges made by several of the 196 countries at the 2015 Climate Change Paris Agreement to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. What is alarming is that existing pledges, even if fully honored, fall short of attaining global net zero emissions by 2050. If we the people of Earth are to maintain habitable conditions for our species, we must get our priorities straight.

On May 18, 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA), made up of 30 member countries and 8 association countries committed to shaping a secure and sustainable energy future for Earth’s inhabitants, released a special report that is intended to put us on track. Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector is a comprehensive study of the way forward to a global Net-Zero Emissions Scenario (NZE) by 2050 with an emphasis on economic growth for all.

With just 29 years left for us to catch up, after decades on the path to planetary ruin, the NZE roadmap is no stroll along the beach or jog in the park. It calls for vast amounts of investment, innovation, implementation of skillful policy design, technology deployment, infrastructure building, international cooperation, and much more across all sectors. World War NZE 2050. A war for human survival. Success depends upon an unprecedented level of international cooperation.

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“Waitress / Suppose” – Poem by Caribbean American Poet Jihan Ramroop


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Caribbean American Poet Jihan Ramroop
Photo by Em Hampton published on Poet’s Website

My Poetry Corner May 2021 features the poem “Waitress / Suppose” from the debut poetry collection, We Used to Waitress, by the Caribbean American poet, actress, and playwright Jihan Ramroop. Born in Queens, New York, of immigrant Indo-Guyanese parents, Ramroop was raised in Fort Pierce, Florida, and Georgetown, Guyana. She graduated in Theatre and Performance from Purchase College of the State University of New York (SUNY). She lives in upstate New York.

All excerpts of poems featured in this article are taken from Ramroop’s poetry collection, We Used to Waitress, published in 2020. The collection is divided into four parts: Stay, Still, Stubborn, and Suppose.

In Part 1/Stay, the poet notes in “Sunday Inventory” that she has lived in 27 places, went to 14 schools, and held 10 jobs. Throughout this section, she laments love lost for men who did not stay in her life. In “Waitress / Stay,” the final poem in the section, she recalls those days we used to waitress / outside the city / pretending i was / saving up / for dreams and freedom / and something big. Since then, she concludes, everything and nothing changed.

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Mother Did You Know: Guest Post by Swarn Gill


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Claire de Lune (2019) by Audrey Kawasaki

This Mother’s Day 2021, I share the poem “Mother Did You Know” written by fellow blogger, Swarn Gill. He captures with precision my own experience as a woman and mother. I’m heartened that he’s able to see the truth of millions of years of social conditioning of the human species.

*I dedicate this poem to women in general, but also to my mom, who is an amazing woman and still inspires me to be more to this day.

mother did you know
it’s all your fault
you caused the fall
of man
that them’s the breaks
when you talk to snakes

mother did you know
you’re not quite human
humans should be a male
those other parts
aren’t on the chart

Continue reading at Swarn Gill’s blog, Cloak Unfurled.

Swarn Gill, a biracial Canadian, is a professor of Atmospheric and Earth Science. He lives in Pennsylvania, USA.

Thought for Today: Choosing Hopefulness


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Front Cover: Demand the Impossible: A Radical Manifesto by Bill Ayers
Photo Credit: Haymarket Books

Choosing hopefulness is holding out the possibility of change. It’s living with one foot in the mud and muck of the world as it is, while another foot strides forward toward a world that could be. Hope is never a matter of sitting down and waiting patiently; hope is nourished in action, and it assumes that we are—each and all of us—incomplete as human beings…. We can choose to see life as infused with the capacity to cherish happiness, to respect evidence and argument and reason, to uphold integrity, and to imagine a world more loving, more peaceful, more joyous, and more just than the one we were given—and we should.

Excerpt from Demand the Impossible: A Radical Manifesto by Bill Ayers, Haymarket Books, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2016.

Bill Ayers is a social justice activist, teacher, and a retired distinguished professor of education and senior university scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of two memoirs, Fugitive Days and Public Enemy.