Teaching

sad indian2

 

We are taught to take pride in clan and tribe

But it’s taught through centuries of victimization

We are told we are strong because we survive

But many on the rez’ don’t live – merely exist

We’re told on the leeward side of visions is a better life

But chemical visions are now the trend and bring death

We’ve been taught to take all handouts and even beg for more

Do we only stand tall when standing on the feet of others?

We’re told to focus on our future by not forgetting our past

But crashing is inevitable when you cannot see ahead

We’re taught to sell holy symbols like side-show concessions

And act surprised to live in the desert of disharmony

We’re taught tales by story-changers claiming truth in lies

So even those that listen only hear us as strangers

We’re told a sign of character is in dying well

And so many of us do it well before our time

We taught our children how to die

We forgot to teach them how to live

© JW Thomas

Shakespeare: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

moon-1

[A response paper on a writer’s strategy using a single topic; something Shakespeare was an expert at.]

 

THESEUS

Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour

Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in

Another moon; but, O, methinks, how slow

This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires,

Like to a stepdame, or a dowager,

Long withering out a young man’s revenue.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1.1.1-6

 

Skakespeare squeezes numerous definitions out of the moon in the first two acts of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the above passage Theseus attributes a personality to the moon, and the alleged personality is blamed for dragging out the time until he and Hippolyta can marry: “She lingers my desires.” Hippolyta responds with her own use of the moon, but she insinuates how it will be a celestial ornament to their marriage celebration: “And then the moon, like to a silver bow new-bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities” – (1.1.9-10). Later, when Egeus accuses Lysander before Theseus, he claims he serenaded Hermia by moonlight: “Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung, with feigning voice, verses of feigning love” – (1.1.30-31). And when Theseus discusses Egeus’ claim with Hermia, he again mentions the moon. However, he is now using it to represent a period of time: “Take time to pause; and, by the next moon” – (1.1.83). And there are five more times within the first two acts where moon or moonlight are used. Quince tells the actors in the play that they will rehearse “by moonlight” – (1.2.98-104). Fairy claims, “I do wander everywhere, swifter than the moon’s sphere” – (2.1.6-7), a reference to an antiquated belief about the moon’s orbit in a hollow sphere around Earth. Oberon proclaims, “Ill met by moonlight” —  (2.1.60), when running into Titania: as if it is a waste of  romantic moonlight for them to meet while quarreling. And Titania later mentions “moonlight revels” – (2.1.139-142), in her talk with Oberon, when she suggests a way for them to come together after Theseus’ wedding, or she’ll continue to shun him. And, finally, Oberon tells of seeing Cupid’s arrow “in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon” – (2.1.161-162), when discussing how the flower known as love-in-idleness was transformed.

I found it interesting to see the various uses Shakespeare found for a singular topic. And the above definitions and uses are merely from the first two acts. And even though the meanings are different the multiple uses add a sense of continuity to the piece. It’s an excellent writer’s strategy to tie the piece together.

Found Wanting

Running errands

Being productive

A chance crossing

Her and me

Glance

Mere glimpse

passing by

Her smile fades

Smirk forms

Brow dips

Squints

huffs

turns head

rolls eyes

Superiority

Inferiority

I have been judged

and found wanting

Filled app out

Handed in

Don’t call us

We’ll call you

If interested

Ring-a-ling

Interested

Look good on paper

Just what we want

That’s great

Don’t be late

Never

Hardly ever

Punctuate

the punctual

Selling self

Commodity

Necessity

Timely

Interview

Ushered in

No time to shake

First glance

a glimpse

Eye-to-eye

Tells all

I am not

what he imagined

I have been judged

and found wanting

I marvel at the audacity

that accompanies

their skill

Seconds too long

Briefest moments

Assumptions

Deductions

Conclusions

They know all

there is about me

in their minds

Their actions judge them

and they are found wanting

©JW Thomas

Laughing

Ms. Sophie’s lesson

was interrupted

when Patty

sitting in front of me

soaked her panties,

the chair,

the floor

I had no thought

of being mean

Totally surprised

by the urine stream

Spontaneous laugh

attention drawn

creating outbursts

in the class

Almost wet myself

Action I now deplore

I was only seven then

But damn it felt good to laugh

a rarity at my house

Similar to Patty

my body craved a release

a different kind

So pent-up inside was my need

once I began

I couldn’t stop

It was contagious

The class infected

Aching sides

Teary eyes

Flopping

Dropping

Rolling in the aisles

Only two

without laughter and smiles

Teacher

turned preacher

sermonizing our sin

And Patty

turned to stone

in wet panties

on a wet seat

above a damp floor

so alone

How could she know

our laughter

was no longer

about her?

She merely provided

the spark

We were tinder

ready to burn

Kids in a community

with nothing to smile about

nothing to laugh about

except each other

Poverty

supplied the punch-line

We… were the joke

© JW Thomas

Follow your heart

Grandfather

in the Warrior Clan

How do I conquer fear

in order to be brave

in battle?

Listen to what

West Wind tells you

then follow your heart

 

Grandmother

in the Bird Clan

How do I conquer fear

in order to be brave

in love?

Listen to what

South Wind tells you

then follow your heart

 

Uncle

in the Buffalo Clan

How do I conquer fear

in order to be brave

in thought?

Listen to what

North Wind tells you

then follow your heart

 

Brother

in the Otter Clan

How do I conquer fear

in order to be brave

in death?

Listen to what

East wind tells you

then follow your heart

 

Why have none of you

told me to follow the advice

of the four winds?

Do they know you

better than you know yourself?

 

 

© JW Thomas

Shirley’s home early from the dance

Shirley’s home early from the dance

The boy of her dreams tried to force romance

So Shirley’s home early from the dance

She knew she could never give him the chance

So Shirley’s home early from the dance

 

She came home with tears in her eyes

Asking me, “Papa, don’t he realize

At our age it’s much better to wait?”

 

Doesn’t he know what we’d throw away

For just a few minutes of foolish play;

Even if this wasn’t our first date?

 

Doesn’t he see what this would mean?

Taking stupid chances as a high school teen

And possibly ruining both our lives

 

She asked me, “Papa, what do I do?”

I’d love to love, but not as a fool

Please Papa, give me some good advice

 

I want to be strong and carry on

But I’m so scared of living sad songs

How long do I have to wait for a boy who’s nice?

 

I tried to tell her all kids aren’t taught

What they should do and what they should not

By parents who claim that they still care

 

She would have to learn to be strong

Not falling to the pressure of those so wrong

Cuz’ people in the right have a call to share

 

And then one day she would find out

That waiting was right without a doubt

When into her life walks Mister Right

 

He’ll take her by the hand to be his Queen

Trying to keep her life as close to a dream

As he possibly can with his insight

 

Sure you will have a problem or two

But being mature is what will see you through

And maturity is formed now when you’re young

 

If you let bad habits lead you away

You will have no excuse in that day

When you truly learn how sad songs are sung

 

Shirley’s home early from the dance

The boy of her dreams tried to force romance

So Shirley’s home early from the dance

She knew she could never give him the chance

So Shirley’s home early from the dance

 

© JW Thomas

Thumbs Up! (Little Hitchhiker)

She was picked up somewhere near happy

And let go in the center of sad

When she found out that her thumbs up

Was the key to bring her down bad

 

The color of her eyes were starlight

But now they’re only dark shades of grey

She said this could never happen to her

But no one told Mister Evil Man today

 

Thumbs Up! Legs out! Raise your skirt a little higher

Stopped one… picked up… what happens now little hitchhiker?

Thumbs Up! Legs out! Show some flesh to get a ride

Don’t think… don’t hear… how others did this and died

 

We got the news sometime near seven

She was heading to emergency

Mister Blue told us all that happened

How it could’ve been prevented easily

 

She was not taken from innocence

But instead from personal choice

To devour this lesson hard to learn

After disregarding proper voice     (to chorus)

 

She needed to be home in a hurry

At least that’s what she thought at the time

But getting somewhere a little late

Is worth it to save peace of mind

 

And her body now needs to heal

From its trip down the road of abuse

But at least she’s here to carry on

Unlike the non-survivors of misuse

 

Thumbs Up! Legs out! Raise your skirt a little higher

Stopped one… picked up… what happens now little hitchhiker?

Thumbs Up! Legs out! Show some flesh to get a ride

Don’t think… don’t hear… how others did this and died

 

© JW Thomas