October 30- Poem of the Week

The Raven
By Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

October 23- Poem of the Week

Mowing by Ada Limón

 

The man across the street is mowing 40 acres on a small lawn mower. It’s so small, it must take him days, so I imagine that he likes it. He must. He goes around each tree carefully. He has 10,000 trees; it’s a tree farm, so there are so many trees. One circle here. One circle there. My dog and I’ve been watching. The light’s escaping the sky, and there’s this place I like to stand, it’s before the rise, so I’m invisible. I’m standing there, and I’ve got the dog, and the man is mowing in his circles. So many circles. There are no birds or anything, or none that I can see. I imagine what it must be like to stay hidden, disappear in the dusky nothing and stay still in the night. It’s not sadness, though it may sound like it. I’m thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine,
and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.

“Mowing” by Ada Limón, from Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Ada Limón.

October 16- Poem of the Week

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

 

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

 

 

Blade Runner and Women- A Movie Review by Sydney Lykins

In anticipation of Blade Runner 2, I reviewed the original Blade Runner. If you haven’t seen the original yet, this does contain spoilers.

Blade Runner is an iconic movie in the science fiction world, but my question is, why it is still such a “need-to-see?” Overall, the idea of the movie is not bad, but the way certain stereotypes and people are portrayed can be really insulting. One can tell how this movie models after Metropolis in how it only uses females as robots and very little for good (as well as the noir, rainy feel that it has).

First off, the movie does have a very noir and robot-y theme going on. This follows closely with Metropolis in that it is in black and white, which gives it a darker tone visually, and has robots that are out to do some damage. The one scene that I found most similar to Metropolis was the very last scene where Deckard and Roy were fighting on the roof of the building. The men fight all the way up to the roof, and then while on the roof, one almost falls to his death. It follows the ideas from the movie.

The lead up to this point, too, is similar in that there is a very long middle of the movie and then all the sudden, boom, the end. It seemed cut short because of the immediate “boom” ending, but it suited the film. Another thing that I found in the movie was a place called “The Bradbury.” I was wondering if this was an allusion to the author Ray Bradbury.

Now for the more important matter. All the females shown in this movie are robots and two out of the three are villainous. The first lady that we meet, Rachael, has been tricked to think that she is a regular person, when really she is pretty much just a slave to Tyrell for his own experimentation. And once she figures out that she is a replication and makes friends with Deckard, she is drawn into him and the movie takes a turn in showing scenes resembling sexual assault. Deckard tells her to ask him to kiss her, so in a way, he is getting some consent, but at the same time, he is telling her what to do. I did not personally like that scene because it made me uncomfortable, as he is taking advantage of her in a vulnerable state. When someone (girls mostly) takes their hair down from the up-kept style it is always in, that usually means that they are allowing themselves to trust someone and to be vulnerable. This is what Rachael has done, and Deckard is taking it for granted because (even though he kills replicants) he likes her appearance. For Rachael, as in all the women in this film, a dominant male figure is in charge of them and they always listen without a fight.

Now onto Priss. She is an exotic dancer that wears a lot of makeup to make herself resemble a doll or toy. Not only does this choice in makeup make her less human to men, but it makes them treat her as though she is only something to be played with. She is in some sort of relationship with Roy, who controls her in every sense of the word throughout this movie. She also uses the fact that she is attractive in order to get to know Sebastian so that Roy can take over and do what he wants. It is like a femme-fatale, but where she only does the evil things because Roy tells her to so that he can get what he wants.

Lastly, there is Zhora, a prostitute with snakes who is also a replicant. The general fact that she is a prostitute is already a stereotype for women that leads to the idea that she does not deserve respect from men. When she runs away from Deckard, her outfit is even revealing to the point that I was pretty sure it could have just been tape and a clear trench coat. It turns out that it was similar to just a very revealing bathing suit, but that does not change the fact that she is shown only to be something for a man’s pleasure. She never did anything explicitly wrong that we saw throughout the movie, and I do not personally know how I feel about her death. Her character as a prostitute seemed very unnecessary.

To sum up my thoughts on the portrayal of women in Blade Runner, I believe this film only used them as replicants to do the bidding for the men. They are objects to be used however is deemed needed, and they are stereotypical women that men seem to like.

October 2- Poem of the Week

Five Years Later

By Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Arizona’s poet laureate

 

I was, and now I am.
So much goes into the saying of those few words.
Sometimes this change is sweetness,
A kiss, a caress.  Sometimes,
Nothing warns us.  It cannot be thought by us.
It is done to us.  A gun,
An earthquake, a flood — any of the muscular
Horrors of this world.
In those instances, we don’t ask for it,
We don’t get to take a deep breath,
It is simply the end of the chapter
And Page One of the next.  We are thrown
Into the deep water and we are angry,
We are angry, we are angry.
We could not swim, but now we are swimming —
We have to swim.
It is not fair.  It is never fair.
We have no chance to be part of the decision
That changes us.
We were, and then we are.  Regrettably,
We are not alone.  If it is one of us,
It is all of us, so many of us.
We were, and now we are.
Sweetness or cruelty, suddenness, shock,
A rough touch that could be either:
We are changed.
If it has been a kiss, our lives are turned powerfully
Toward lightness.
But when it is not sweetness, not a kiss,
We live the rest of our lives as someone else,
But someone who is still us.
If we had a gun, because we did have a gun,
If things had gone differently, better,
If the rehab had been more effective,
Had God stepped in, had anyone heard:
We would be living in the regular world.
We could look at the rabbits along the highway
And the blue, ragged mountains in the distance
Like anyone.
But, five years after something happens to us
We are not the anyone.
The jackrabbits and the Tucson Mountains —
We love them, not easily but fiercely, fiercely
In the new way we have had to find.
We love them as who we are now.
We love because that’s what’s left.

Rule 655: A Short Story By Elena Sanders

The world is bleak. You can agree or disagree, I’m just simply saying four words. If I were to ask someone “what their image of a utopia is?” their typical response would be a lush environment. Funny thing is, that’s how the Earth used to be. There were no cars, minimal infrastructure, and trees as far as the eye could see. Overtime, we have progressed. We have learned more efficient ways to go about accomplishing tasks. Rather than walking, we discovered how to build automobiles. Rather than hand sewing garments, we built factories and machines to do 99% of the work. Efficiency. That’s the most important thing in this world. I’ve learned that max efficiency yields the max amount of product, which leads to the most amount of revenue. All of that economic talk states that anything getting in the way of this ideal process should be eliminated immediately.

Rule 655: Human interaction is outlawed in the United States

Silence. Voices no longer echoed throughout the streets. Laughter wasn’t heard in any restaurant, and the simple joy of an embrace didn’t exist anymore. This one rule that the government enacted two years ago has changed the society that I live in forever. You might be wondering, what led us to this point? It’s a long story, but, we were slacking. This shouldn’t surprise you, but people went to work and socialized. I’m sure everyone has hidden out in the back room to avoid the crushing weight of their job at some point. Yet, this laziness in the workforce was becoming more and more apparent. With the excessive use of technology in our lives, we were no longer able to focus on a task for longer than ten minutes. Our minds were never in the present, they were constantly thinking about what was next in our schedule. The United States was falling behind in production and productivity. We simply couldn’t keep up with other countries such as Germany, Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom. The government saw this problem and rationalized that the only way to solve the issue of laziness was to eliminate distractions. One of the biggest distractions they recognized was other people. By eliminating human interaction, we would be able to focus all of our attention to the task at hand. No interferences. Some of you may be thinking that this rule isn’t terrible. I mean, who likes talking to other people, anyway? I’d agree with you, for an hour max.
The silence is like a blanket that engulfs our country. At first, it was okay. A nice cozy break from society. Then the silence gets insanely hot and unbearable, and the only thing you want to do is to shove the blanket off. The only problem is that you don’t have a choice. It begins suffocating you, but you can’t speak anymore. Your individuality is gone. I need you to understand that people have essentially become machines. They wake up, get dressed, go to work, work, then come home to sleep and repeat their mundane tasks every single day. With the occasional meals strewn in the mix. This is not how I want to live my life. I grew up in a world where every day was a new adventure. Where each conversation created new memories and stories. I lived during a time where people could talk to each other when they were going through a tough time in their life. People were there for each other. People cared.
As I looked down on the world that has been made for absolute efficiency, I frowned. What happened to society? I stepped off the ledge of the 33rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton and fell to my death. One loud thud occurred. My mangled body strewn across the sidewalk, blood painted the building, and not one eye turned to look. The only response was silence.

September 25- Poem of The Week

Mouthful of Forever
by Clementine von Radics

I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid
of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.

 

This poem comes from von Radics’ book, titled Mouthful of Forevers, published in 2015.

You can buy the book at https://www.amazon.com/Mouthful-Forevers-Clementine-von-Radics/dp/1449470793

September 18th- Poem of the Week

Upon Asking the Cashier at Kroger to Scan That Old Tattoo of a Barcode on My Forearm

Anna Journey

Turns out my body’s a dollar sweet potato
her register’s screen said, as she lifted
her scanner, and I laughed. I can finally call myself
Garnet, Georgia Jet, Carolina Red. Those names
of tubers—my accidental totems. So many
varieties. I might slather
my arm in marshmallows, burrow
deep into the Southern earth. I’d gotten
the tattoo at nineteen, drunk, after Alicia and I
sneaked into the Jefferson—the fanciest
hotel in Richmond with its old
Deco fountain in the lobby
where pet alligators swam circles
through the Jazz Age. We sat on velveteen
love seats wearing ripped jeans among the suits
of Virginia politicians and Baptist preachers,
daring each other: I’ll get a tattoo
if you do. We discussed passion
vines on biceps or matching dragonflies
winging our asses. I swirled my plastic
flask’s bourbon, decided we’d make
a statement about consumerism—blue
barcode stamped on each of our forearms.
After the hotel manager kicked us out
for vagrancy I tore a page from a book
of grocery-store coupons so the tattoo artist
would have an image to copy: a barcode’s
exact marks. I didn’t think to stop
and choose which vegetable,
which object, didn’t know my body
would soften beneath the lines. Ten years
later I’d finally ask a woman
to scan the ink, wondering why
I’d waited this long to find out
I’ve always been sweet but slightly
twisted, I’ve always been
waiting to disappear like this,
bite by bite, into someone’s mouth.

 

 

 

This poem can be found in Journey’s book, The Atheist Wore Goat Silk.

Check out http://annajourney.com/ to discover more.