Saturday, July 31, 2010

Volunteer Charity: More Poems from the Front Lines

Yesterday, I posted the first three poems written by The Bug in 1986, when she volunteered at a charity organization. Together they make quite a statement. The reason I separated them into two posts, however, is to feature each one a little better, hopefully for a cumulative effect.

“Shut that baby up!”
And the child cries on.
Mary Justevich sings
her raucous song of life
& the child cries.
“The next time you come,
you leave that baby at home.”
And in the wounded eyes 
of the mother, I see
her cry:

There’s no one there
no one there
no one.

They sit as if they’re
used to waiting.
Staring off into space
thinking their own
Waiting. Waiting.
And I am angry.
I watch the waiting
from behind the desk
and I know.
My heart hardens
against the saints
as they talk
and wander about
ignoring the waiting.
thoughtless passages
of time.


And in the “real” world
I see that I’ve changed.
The lights have gone gaudy –
I’ve seen the war
behind the glitter.
There will always be
dark, empty buildings
and Al & Fifi, &
even Buddy fighting
for a way of life
fighting for life
The homes of the rich
frustrated me –
repugnant desire
of my fickle heart.
I will be gentry one day.
Will I forget
the other side of town?

The Bug posted one of these poems last week, and another post explaining what it was about and what she thinks now. This is what I think they are about: the humane, giving heart. But also, the world of humiliation that seems to go along with poverty and assistance. The humiliation of having your best impulses rebuffed--maybe because you've misjudged the scene or don't have the right thing to offer, or even that there is no right thing for someone in distress. She also writes how people on both sides shut down their best impulses, become indifferent. But there's also hope in these observations. She plunged into the work: recorded it, one poem per day. She Saw. And she knows things now that the rest of us can use. Very much so.

Thanks again, dear Bug, for an invaluable chance to gain some insights.


The Bug said...

Thanks Anne - it was definitely an eye-opening time in my life. What's funny now is that I am so totally NOT gentry! I took another path & never got the big bucks. And I'm not sad about it at all.

Christopher said...

Thanks for sharing these. Great, great writing.

My guess is, her answer to VI. would be, both yes and no.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
I love these poems, and just as a side note--some of the commenters are also good poets.

I feel privileged to be the one to feature them. And I think you should be confident that they are publication-worthy!

I know what you mean about "gentry". I think when you're young, there's so many possible choices and it seems like we should grab them all. Then when we make the right ones, like for love and meaning, a lot of those other goals fall away without regret.

I can remember spending hours on which silver pattern I liked the best, for example, and right now I am perfectly happy with medium quality stainless. That's a dumb example though. I guess to finish that out, I have a huge honking library . . .

Much love, and many thanks,
These are brilliantly executed.
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Christopher,
Thanks for stopping in to check them out. They are really good, aren't they?

I am glad to feature them for someone like you--who will 'listen' to them carefully.

Thank you,
Ann T.