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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Old Maps & Current Events

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  It's been a poignant week for any thinking, feeling person, hasn't it? 

 

[Quick, less-serious forward:  While keeping a close eye on the news, I've also been getting ready for an event on a much lighter note - our little downtown, after skipping First Friday for April and May, is holding a VIRTUAL First Friday this week.  Our merchants association is sponsoring a Facebook Live whirlwind tour of more than two dozen businesses from 6 to 8 p.m.  - So YOU can even join in from your couch!  (Here is a link to my own little promo for it; I'm slated to have my two minutes of fame in the middle-ish of the event.  The event will be posted as a Facebook Live tour on the Downtown Beaufort Merchants Association Facebook Page.)]

 

I've been making several items using images from my miniature antique map problem - er, I mean - collection.  So I've been entertaining maps in my mind and imagination these last few weeks. 

 

Thursday, when I was able to see some of the the moving service for George Floyd, I pondered several map-themed ideas for a haiku that might reflect these fraught but energetic times.  

 

 

old map

errors

in the legend

 

©2020 Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved. 

 

 

 

I re-wrote this in my head and on scratch paper many times.  My first attempts were too preachy, which is quite un-haiku-like.  Too much of my own voice (however well-intentioned) was apparent.  I knew I wanted to include "legend," because of its double meaning.  Other than that, I didn't want to include blatent references to my own feelings, or admonitions to do anything, or other burdens.  It was a good exercise in narrowing my focus, trying to shed my own interjections to focus on the images.  

 

When I first started my art business, I was delighted to find a late 19th Century Geography textbook/atlas in an antique shop (the first of a few I have now).  I was appalled, however, when I actually read the text.  I won't dignify the discussions of various "races" by sharing them here. But I think of the horrible influence of that polluted thinking - it seems so long ago, and yet that particular book was published only a dozen or so years before one of my grandfathers was born.  It wasn't really so long ago.

 

Just before Covid-19 stay-at-home orders, I had a meaningful encounter in front of my own house, in our fairly diverse downtown neighborhood which I love.  You've gathered from my pictures that I'm white; so is my husband, and our kids.  This incident involved a couple of young African American men (maybe slightly older than my own kids), car trouble, and some agitated behavior that frightened me. 

 

Long story short, I was initially tempted to call the police - one young man was pushing and shoving the other, yelling, pacing wildly, coming toward the house.  I decided to try not to overreact - to pray instead, and to listen to my Mom instincts and intuition during some tense moments when he made contact.  Seth was here for a visit. (Seth, who was born one month after Trayvon Martin, and with whom we never had to have "the talk.")  With Seth's calming presence and real-world de-escalation experience, I asked him to come outside too.  

 

Jumper cables.  That's all they needed.  The young man calmed down, apologizing for his initial behavior - and I tried to convey it was the potential fighting I was concerned about.  The other young man, the driver, never lost his cool with his friend, however, or with the situation.  Seth got their engine running, and everything was fine. 

 

We stood and talked for a little bit, and the young man asked for a hug, which I gave both of them, of course. He smelled of alcohol, though it was morning, and I wondered about his struggles.  Perhaps that fueled some of his initial behavior.  It also might have let his guard down in conversation, because he said, "You don't know how hard it is for us to ask you for help." That broke my heart.  

 

Many hearts have been broken, these weeks, these years, these centuries.  I cannot speak for anyone of color.  But I do hope we can all heal, together, even if slowly, following that arc that bends toward justice. 

 

Our wonderful Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Reflections on the Teche

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Poetry Friday - Pirate Plots & Mermaid Musings....

Ahoy there, Poetry Lovers!

 

I missed everyone last week.  I'd sailed off to Atlanta for our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle conference (great to catch up with folks after a little while away!), and when I tried to post a directional sign to Heidi's place, I discovered a website glitch that kept me from posting anything for a few days.  I think they've got it all fixed now.

 

My antique map obsession continues....  I'm keeping a weather eye out, and looks like chilly temps down here are giving way to sunny days, slowly at least.  Time for mermaids and pirates to start jotting down poetry!  Or sketches!  Or "X" marks for treasure! I've been playing in the studio with upcycled journals/sketch books for the those with arabesque-ing swords or finned tails instead of feet.  (You can click on the picture above to see in my Etsy shop; I've taken several of these to the Beaufort Emproium for my wee little table, too. If you want to see more map-craziness, just put the word "map" into my shop's search bar on Etsy - I'll have a bunch more items up by Saturday.)  

 

While I wouldn't care to meet a REAL pirate, thank you very much, I did love Pirates of the Caribbean - the ride at Disney World when I was young, and later, the movies. Old treasure maps have always been on my "favorites" list. And, of course, growing up in Florida, I fancied myself a mermaid on many occasions.

 

Here in the Lowcountry, we did have real pirates back in the day! Click here to read about them - Blackbeard, for one, and women pirates as well as men. 

 

I couldn't find a replica map to purchase that fit the exact years of the waves of piracy (get it? waves?), but I found a wonderful reproduction map of the Southeastern/Carolinas coast from around 1745, and that's what I've been using for these upcycled journals. 

 

Are you a fan of Michael Hague?  One of my favorite of his books is THE BOOK OF PIRATES (HarperCollins, 2001) for its mysterious, spooky, rollicking art.  Inside you'll find classic cut-throat stories from Washington Irving, Robert Louis Stevenson, and many more. 

 

Included is "The Island Come True" from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (1860-1937), with a few ditties dotting the text. 

 

Here's one:

 

"Yo ho, yo, ho, the pirate life,

the flag o' skull and bones, 

A merry hour, a hempen rope,

And hey for Davey Jones."

 

 

And here are a few opening lines from John Masefield (1878-1967):

 

 

A Ballad of John Silver

 

 

We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colours of the cross-bones and the skull;
We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Water in the happy days of yore.

 

We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It's a point which tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

 

...

 

Click here for the whole poem. 

 

And, from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, which premiered December 31, 1879, a few lines:


 ...

 

(King)

When I sally forth to seek my prey
I help myself in a royal way.
I sink a few more ships, it's true,
Than a well-bred monarch ought to do;
But many a king on a first-class throne,
If he wants to call his crown his own,
Must manage somehow to get through
More dirty work than ever I do,

For I am a Pirate King!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King!

For I am a Pirate King!


(Chorus)   

You are!
Hurrah for the Pirate King!

...

 

Click here  for more. 

 

Ever wondered about the difference between a pirate, a privateer, and a buccaneer? The Mariners Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia, has you covered, with these short posts by Brian Whitenton from 2012.  Enjoy Part 1 and Part 2.

 

Now turn that bow toward  Sloth Reads for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup.  (Don't worry; you'll be able to goof off after all your rowing.) ;0)

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