Friday, October 04, 2019

Poetry Friday: Lockdown

So as I've mentioned in my last couple of posts, we are in lockdown status here in Haiti. Yesterday we had a half day of school - the first this week - but today we are out again, due to huge protests that are supposedly going to take place. Protesters are marching in the streets with the goal of getting the current president to resign. In the process there has been a lot of burning and looting and general chaos. Plus, the whole country has basically shut down; people aren't going to work or school, and we're all waiting to find out what happens next.

We've been attempting to continue classes by using various online tools, and in some ways I feel as though I am just pretending things are normal. For example, today is the due date for final copies of all writing in my middle school classes, and I'm trying to stick to the due date. What that means is that I'm sitting in my classroom on the almost abandoned campus, because our internet at home isn't working. (Haiti runs on imported fossil fuel. There are fuel shortages. Nothing is working correctly.) It doesn't matter; I'm still reading students' work and putting down grades. Better to grumble under my breath about punctuation errors than about things falling apart around me.

On Wednesday, when the internet was working, I was texting with C., a friend here in Haiti. (She's also in my writing group.) I told her I was getting frustrated with life in lockdown. She suggested that I make something.  She said she'd made bread and kombucha, and was feeling much better as a result. I told her I'd make a poem, and she agreed that would probably work, too. Then she added, "You are required to use these five random words in your poem. And yes, your final grade will be affected."

The words she gave me? Lilac, popcorn, domino, traffic, trampoline.

I wrote my poem. I sent it to C., remarking that only I could take those words and still wind up with an emo poem, however nonsensical. She read it to her preschooler, who giggled. I giggled too, and life felt better.

My heart is like a trampoline,
You bounce with hob-nailed boots.

The dominoes all topple
As though they were in cahoots.

The air smells sweet, of lilacs,
with popcorn undertones,

And here comes lots of traffic
to break my fragile bones.

So here I am grading, and C. has promised to give me another five random words the next time I need them. Life's as normal as I can make it at this moment.

Here's today's roundup.


marauder34 said...

Same words. Now write a sestina.

Ruth said...

I need six words for a sestina, silly.

Tabatha said...

Great job! I love the first four lines especially. She gave you juicy words. A sestina with them (plus one) seems like a frightening challenge.

marauder34 said...

Silly me, I assumed you could think of a sixth word.

But since you insist: trombone

Linda Mitchell said...

Wow! You certainly made something beautiful out of a difficult situation. A toddler's giggle -- best medicine for a variety of ailments, I'm sure. What I like about your poem is the sensual smells of the lilac and the feel of the trampoline and hobnailed boots. They are such juxtopositions...I think you're really describing life as you're living it. Your introductory paragraphs read like a prose poem. I'm truly sorry to hear about the unrest. It's made the national headlines here in the states. I'm holding you all in my thoughts.

Linda B said...

There are historical origins of Mother Goose rhymes and your poem reminds me of that, a rhyme that make a toddler giggle, but when you read it months from now, you will remember this frightening time. You've made lemonade out of lemons for sure, Ruth! Hope your life becomes more settled soon. I've been thinking of you!

Mary Lee said...

Sending best wishes and a strong internet signal. I think you're doing what I did in my poem -- focus on the small beauties even though the rest of the world is in the proverbial hand basket. Stay safe, friend.

Liz Garton Scanlon said...

Poems crack the locks!

Kay said...

You and Haiti are in my prayers (even as they are not much in our news until I go looking for it). I love how your poem finds beauty and giggles even in the face of those hobnailed boots. I hope life settles more peacefully soon.

Cheriee Weichel said...

Your poem is absolutely divine. It put a smile in my heart.
What you are going through sounds terrible Ruth. I am now going to see what I can find to read about Haiti. Take care of yourself.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, I cannot fathom the horror of being in a lockdown state. I do hope you stay safe. Keep writing to release the stress you must feel.