Friday, June 19, 2020

Poetry Friday: A Poetry Swap, and Pushing Statues into the Water

I recently received several beautiful poems from Kat Apel as part of the Summer Poetry Swap (organized by Tabatha Yeatts - thanks, Tabatha!). Here they are:

The Lord himself goes before you and with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.

He will never leave you nor forsake you;
He numbers the hairs on your head
and preserves your every tear.

Do not be afraid,
for the Lord your God will be with you;
Sleep in sweet peace.

Do not be discouraged,
but let God's unfailing love
comfort you.

That poem is a trimeric, which I confess I had to look up. Here's a nice clear definition of how it works.  Its words couldn't be more appropriate for this time of my life. Thanks so much, Kat!

I love that Kat knows I am a bird-lover.  The two other poems she sent are both bird-related.

Carolling Australian Magpies
Cracticus tibicen / Family Artamidae


black and white
warbling magpies
gargle sweet notes
into a new 
                dawn chorus.

Abound in hope,
believing there is
life brighter than the
noonday. Wait with patience for the thing
you cannot see. Face suffering with
rejoicing - shelter under the feathers
of His wings. Like the mustard seed that
matures for birds to find perches 
in its branches, grow in
faith as you put your hope in the
Lord. Seek him with all your heart and soul.

This is a golden shovel poem, and I bolded the last word of each line so you can see the quote Kat used; it's Emily Dickinson's line: "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul." Perfect!

Thank you, Kat, for all three of these wonderful poems!

This week I read a poem written by the City Poet of Bristol, England, Vanessa Kisuule, on the occasion of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston getting pushed into the harbor in Bristol by Black Lives Matter protestors. It begins:

You came down easy in the end
The righteous wrench of two ropes in a grand pliƩ.

Read the rest, right up until the devastating last line, here. Better yet, listen to her read it herself - wow, it packs a punch!

Here are videos of the statue going into the water and then being retrieved - I read that it's going to end up in a museum. (Look at how easily it is handled - especially notable after reading/listening to the poem! It is not heavy at all.)

In the city where I live, a statue was pushed into the ocean in 1986. That was before I moved to Haiti, so I looked up a newspaper article about it (unfortunately, that was pre-YouTube) here. The Chicago Tribune found the choice of Columbus' statue as a target of protestors' ire to be "whimsical." I don't know if some of the places they destroyed were chosen whimsically, but I'm pretty sure Columbus wasn't, because even back then, he was definitely associated with bad things in people's minds here. For the first couple of years we lived in Haiti, we still had a holiday for Discovery Day, December 5th, when Columbus got to Hispaniola (he's the one that named the island that, Little Spain). Then one year (I can't remember exactly when), we had school that day. My husband asked a Haitian friend why the change, and his dry response was, "Can you say genocide?" I found this photo of the statue in situ (notice the title the website has given it), and this one of where it lives now (bonus at that link: a Twitter thread suggesting what is to be done with these statues that are being taken down all over the place). I read a provocative essay on Facebook by author Philippa Gregory last week with her own suggestion: statue gardens where these disgraced statues lie flat on their backs.

It all went so wrong,
Christophe Colombe!
Your boat sank here, off the shore of Haiti,
and then almost 500 years later, you did, too.
Now you live in the Bureau of Ethnology
Where you have taken a knee.

Ruth, from

P.S. Happy Juneteenth!

Tricia, at The Miss Rumphius Effect, is hosting today's roundup.


Linda B said...

Kat's poems are beautifully thoughtful, Ruth. I love "inside, nothing but air." Perhaps it's a stark reminder of all the statues created for those revered in our past. Now we are noting the truth of the past & the why. Thank you for all you've shared. We studied Columbus in my class one year as we were studying history made for certain groups & rejecting others, an awakening for my students that I hope they remember now.

Tabatha said...

Kat's poems are so thoughtful! Did she paint those magpies? I love them, and the poem, too. Your "take a knee" poem ending is great.

jama said...

Kat's poems of faith and hope are just what we need right now. Thanks for sharing Vanessa's poem, too -- wow! That last line is so powerful. I've been surprised at how easy these statues are to topple -- same thing happening in VA. They stood for years through high winds and storms but come down easily with a couple of ropes? Something very symbolic about that, as Vanessa's poem points out.

KatApel - said...

I'm so glad the poems were an encouragement and joy, Ruth. I wrote 'Fear Not' a number of years ago, and when I was on your site chasing snippets for my new-for-you poems, I just felt it was right to share - so it was a little bonus. (It reminds me that I'd like to write another trimeric!)

Tabatha, I did an evening birdy watercolour class online midweek, so thought I'd try paint a background for the poem. I was chuffed with it.

Janice Scully said...

It does feel hopeful to see these statues go down. Images like the just keep the horrors of the past a controlling presence. I enjoyed the spiritual sentiment in the poems you shared. Thank you.

Linda Kulp Trout said...

Thank you for sharing Kat's poems. They are, as always, wonderful! : )

Michelle Kogan said...

Thanks for sharing Kat's rich collection of poems and watercolor too–I especially liked this one "Carolling Australian Magpies!"
And your poem is terrific Ruth–speaking truth, thanks!

Karen Edmisten said...

Kat's poems are beautiful. What a thoughtful gift to you! And Vanessa Kisuule's poem is so powerful, especially that final line, so true in so many ways.