Calling All Poets

blue-hand-books-handBlue Hand Books is seeking poetry submissions for an upcoming publication; book four in our collection, The Lost Children book series. Author Patricia Busbee is editing this volume. (The title of the new book is still taking shape). We are interested in both emerging and established writers. Heartfelt and genuine writing is valued. We are looking for pieces that address the often overlooked and complex histories of American Indian First Nations. Areas of particular interest are Indian-boarding schools, adoption and foster care. We are also interested in these issues from a contemporary perspective.
There is an October 1st deadline. We accept poems of any length. Send up to three poems. We like free verse, prose poems, experimental and traditional forms. Please include a bio with your submission. Also include a URL to your blog or website, if applicable. Please send submissions to Book Editor patriciabusbeewriter@gmail.com or BHB Publisher larahentz@yahoo.com.
A few ideas to spark your creative process: Buried trauma, raw truths, ancestors, ancestral memory, reclaiming, reimagining, the healing power of the land, coming home, full circle and future generations.
[Writers will be compensated in book copies.]

Tarot, Social Justice, Adoption & Art

I have known for years that the Tarot can be worked with in many ways. Meditation, ritual, visualization, spell work, prayer, healing, writing prompts, character development, plot and journaling are some of the ways I work with the tarot to gain insight, awareness, clarity and assistance when I am stuck in my personal as well as my writing life.

The Asian American Tarot pushed the door open further–  I started to think about ways to explore the potential of the Tarot for community healing, generational and personal healing as well as social justice. I was reminded of the power of art—of imagery—and words.

(I am not Asian American and I do not assume to know the issues or struggles of the community. However, this project invited me start thinking about these issues. I wondered why I hadn’t already done so.)

The Following is posted with permission from the The Asian American Literary Review:

Asian American Tarot

“What does care look like on a community level?

For some time we’ve agreed there’s a crisis of Asian American mental health—we keep pointing to the alarming CDC reports on Asian American suicide and suicidal ideation rates. But nobody agrees on the breadth of the crisis, what contributes to it, or how to deal with it. We’re grasping only some small fraction of Asian American unwellness.

Rather than trying to recalibrate our existing mental health resources to better engage race and Asian American experience, what if we started on the opposite end, with what wellness, unwellness, and care actually look like in Asian American life?

In the spirit of fortune-telling practices so prevalent in our communities, we’re creating a new deck of tarot cards, featuring original art and text that work to reveal the hidden contours of our Asian American emotional, psychic, and spiritual lives, as well as the systems of violence that bear down upon them. Replacing the 22 archetypes of the traditional major arcana (e.g., the Empress, the Hierophant, the Wheel of Fortune, etc.) are figures drawn directly from Asian American life–the Migrant, the Foreigner, the Shopkeeper, the Adoptee, the Model Minority, the Desecrated Temple–that we’ve asked some of our communities’ most exciting artists, poets, and writers to reinterpret.

Because Asian American wellness fundamentally depends upon anti-racism, our deck is an anti-racist hack for the traditional deck: take out the existing major arcana, insert ours, and voila! An Asian American mental health tarot, a little self-care magic.

Art by Monica Ong, text by Matthew Salesses

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BACKSTORY

The Asian American Tarot deck is part of a larger project titled Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health, to be published in January 2017, that we see as both a vitally important rethinking of mental health and an arts-based self-care package for our communities. It’s AALR’s most ambitious project yet, and we need your help to fund it and get it out into the world.”

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My Thoughts

I immediately connected to the adoption card. I reread it several times. What spoke to me was the story within this card and how healing it is to see images that address the truth–the core in such a powerful and beautiful way. I understand how this card could be used for healing, reimagining and reclaiming the power of the adoptee.

I am an adoptee and an adopter. I stand on both sides of the fence. My daughter is African American. I am of mixed ancestry—Native and European. I co-edited two adoptee anthologies with Trace DeMeyer. I am currently editing a collection of Native American poetry that will be published by Blue Hand Books that focuses on the historical and contemporary issues of Native Americans. Many of the writers are Native American adoptees. We are open for submission.

I am always deeply moved by the stories of the adoptees. The stories are life altering. But I am also  aware of how unhealed many of us still are. How do we take the next step? Is it possible? Am I being too idealistic?  My intent is never to erase or white-wash realities–or down-play the horrific history. I do not want to silence the rage–I support all voices. I firmly believe in acknowledging, expressing and discussing the pain and horror. My question is: How do we not drown in it? Is there a way to support and empower each other? What would that look like? These are the questions I have been wrestling with for weeks. If anyone wants to engage in this conversation–please share your thoughts and ideas.

I was raised outside the culture by middle-class white parents. I am not on the inside. I don’t pretend to be. My goal is to offer the privileges that I have–which are my writing resources and knowledge of the Tarot. I have been a student of the Tarot for over thirty years. And after reading about the Asian American Tarot project, I feel like I have just scratched the surface. Up until now I have not considered how I might incorporate Tarot  into the social justice work that I do. This will take some thinking and research–and remaining open to having my boundaries pushed.

IMG_1159Having a mixed family has made me keenly aware of the need for images and stories that represent the clients I am reading for–that represent my family.

Contemplating this amazing project helped me to turn the lens both inward and outward. What are the issues in my own communities?  As an adoptee, adopter, tarot reader, writer, mother and grandmother, how do I utilize the tarot from a social justice perspective—a wellness perspective? What can I do right now and in the future to take my understanding of art and writing to a new level that assists the communities I am involved with? I am also thinking about what decks might be more inclusive. There is a lot of work to be done.

Please donate to the Asian American Tarot Project if you feel so inclined.

 

 

The Queen of Clarity

tumblr_inline_nu7piynpJJ1qfbh05_540I have been divining professionally for over twenty-five years. I continue to maintain a strong client base. However, becoming an established writer/author/editor required the majority of my energy and focus while I navigated my MFA, a novel and family life.

I often find myself trying to break up the fights between the warring aspects of myself—the Writer and the Diviner. This hasn’t worked very well. I keep flip-flopping. It is time to do things differently. I decided to consider how my two loves could dovetail instead of compete for my attention. A blog that incorporates both is my first step in making this a reality.

I pulled a card to get some clarification regarding my plight.

This card is The Queen of Swords from The Dreaming Way Tarot.

I experienced this Queen as offering advice. The first thought that came to mind was stop analyzing & do! You know what the problem is—now doing something about it!

What stood out to me in the imagery was her white clothing and the white landscape. The lack of color and animation provided a sense of calm and clarity. She is alone with her thoughts.The landscape also has a cold feeling—this place is not ruled by emotion. By nature this Queen is introspective and very connected to her intellect. What she is sitting on looks more like a living-room armchair than a throne. It looks interesting out in the woods. I am wondering if the chair/throne represents the outer world and the landscape the inner? Or perhaps the chair represents the mundane or the practical and how both worlds co-exist. The sword in this image is oversized and takes on a life of its own. I focused on it for a bit and realized that I had turned the sword on myself–I was engaged with an on-going internal struggle that demanded I cut off aspects of my life that I did not want to sacrifice.

The Queen of Swords is a good card to pull when decisions need to be made. She is intellect oriented, rather than feeling oriented. She certainly mirrors my decision-making process. And she helped me to face the truth of my reality—action is needed in order for me to move from this place of frustration and stagnation. I have thought this issue to death—it’s time to bring my ideas out of my head and into the physical realm. This is no longer the time to remain isolated and engaged with my thought process. It is time to be active in community.

The Queen of Swords is not a card of impulse. Her sword has the ability to cut thru the bullshit in-order to approach the issue with clarity. There is no room for hiding—facing reality was the only way for me to shift the unhealthy pattern I was stuck in. I will no longer use the sword to continually stab myself in the back.

This card embodies the exact energy and message I needed. It helped me to analize my situation—from a place of truth. I am keenly aware it is time to take action and  begin to construct a new foundation that embraces both of my passions.

Thank You, Queen Of Swords!

This blog is in transition. I will be adding links, photos and more posts shortly. I hope you will check back as I begin my journey of integrating Writing & Divining.

Visual Prophecies

 

We unearthed opium apothecary jars along with Indian arrowheads while digging to China. Our excavations took place at the edge of the property line, beside the small tree that was supposed to produce tiny oranges the size of ping pong balls but never did. A hybrid transplant in need of rich soil and sunlight. It didn’t thrive in the sticky red Ohio clay. We carefully arranged and rearranged the fruits of our excavations on the weatherworn picnic table. The artifacts of childhood on display. I was curious about the original owners. I worried that angry ghosts might show up demanding their wares. I carefully wrapped the artifacts in faded wrinkled tissue paper and carried them around in an old brown leather purse that I retrieved from the neighbor’s garbage. Bobby snuck into our garage and stole the purse that was hidden in a wicker picnic basket. He placed it inside his rusted red wagon that he dragged behind him throughout the neighborhood. A traveling show of oddities. He traded the medicine bottles and arrowheads for a slightly bent gold gilded birdcage, minus the perches, and three pieces of Bazooka Bubblegum. Yellow and white feathers and used gravel paper lined the bottom of the cage. I sat cross-legged on our freshly tarred driveway ignoring the smell and heat. I could not articulate the pain I was experiencing over the loss of my treasures. Only now do I understand the symbolism of the bottles and the arrowheads. Visual prophecies. The bottles alluded to a slow poisoning of the soul. The arrowheads, my father’s ancestry. My ancestry. I would become a woman that exhumed her own life in search of truths about her adoption and her lineage. Proud of his haggling abilities, Bobby held the birdcage up in the fading afternoon summer sunlight. His long shadow towered above me. I watched as a smiling stranger strutted off with the arrowheads and the light blue opium apothecary jars.

Mona Lane 1968

My Holy Book

I often accompany my husband to his doctor’s appointments at the VA. I used to detest going because I was forced to witness the overcrowding and the pain and sorrow of the aftermath of war. Ghosts and memories are invoked in the waiting room. The ghosts walk openly among the living. The vivid stories exchanged between the Vets are a conjuring of traumas past.

After listening and witnessing last weeks stories I am convinced one of the spirits wrapped itself around my spine and hitched a ride to my house. The haunting first showed itself as sadness. Then came anger. I am unable to shake the image of their faces.

I reminded myself that the Vets were living their pain on a daily basis. They did not have the option of looking away.

Recently over heard in the VA waiting room:

“When I cane home from Vietnam I stayed drunk for three years. I had no idea what the war was about. All these years later, I still don’t know.”

“Thank God when I came home I was able to get a job as a land surveyor. I never could have worked inside. I needed wide open spaces.”

“After all these years I’m finally getting my pay for being exposed to Agent Orange. What good is it going to do me now? Got Parkinson’s disease.”

A tall skinny man with brown hair walked up to the check-in counter clutching a fist-full of tee shirts. They matched the one he was wearing. The bold letting stated, Another Vietnam Vet Fucked by Washington. The man’s voice rose as he spoke to the man behind the counter, “Ya wanna buy one?”

Last Monday I dropped my husband off at the front of the building. I couldn’t find a parking space except in a remote area. As I was walking a VA shuttle pulled up. A white haired man opened the doors and said, “Jesus Christ they are going to have to do something. We have absorbed three clinics from the surrounding area. No parking spots. Not enough room or time. You want dropped off out front?”

In response to the long afternoons spent at the VA hospital I pulled Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, an anthology by Maxine Hong Kingston from my bookshelf. One of the reasons I choose this book is because I had the privilege of taking a workshop with Maxine during my time at Goddard. I wanted someone familiar—someone I trusted to hold up the flashlight while I examined what it was I was after. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. A way to make sense out of the senseless? More insight into my husband’s pain? After asking myself these questions I realized what I was looking for was a way to contain horrific realities without being swallowed whole.

My father was a medic in World War Two. He refused to speak about what he experienced. He would press his lips together, seal them and shake his head. It was a pact he made with himself. The only time the war was mentioned was around food. “I can’t eat that. I ate it every day in the military.” Oatmeal was one of the forbidden foods. I remember him throwing the steaming bowl onto the tiled kitchen floor and running out of the kitchen. I still think of that every time I poor raw oats in scalding water.

Enjoying Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace is unexpected. Prior to this I did not read many war books. I distanced myself as best I could. This realization disturbes me considering my husband is a Vietnam War Vet and my father has an extensive military history.

Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace is helping me understand the politics of war, the depths, things I never considered. There are a multitude of perspectives and stories. Reading the stories reminds me of being at the VA listening to the Veteran’s talk while sitting in the waiting room.

The authors I praise are the ones that speak the truth. I admire people that can sit with the pain, internalize it and turn into something else. They don’t back a way from this alchemical process.

The piece I am reading and rereading in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace is by George Evans, A Walk in the Garden of Heaven. The beauty of the language is staggering. There are lines in this piece that made me want to roll around on the floor. The writing pierced something in my chest. Opened me up. “This is it,” I said out loud. “This is how I want to write.” The author possesses the ability to articulate what he experienced without rage or anger. Yet the writing was not whitewashed. His level of “seeing” brought me to my knees.

The following are a few of the lines that spoke to me:

The moment I saw your face,” he said, “was like walking into the Hall of a Thousand and One Bodhisattvas.”

“She had no idea what he meant, how it is to enter Sanjusangendo in Koyoto for even the fiftieth time and see row upon row of a thousand standing figures, carved, painted, and gold-leafed with a calm but stunned look of enlightenment, five-hundred on each side of a larger, seated figure of their kind, miniature heads knotted to their scalps representing the fragments of a time when their heads exploded in dismay at the evil in the world, the way our heads exploded in the war, though we don’t wear our histories where they can be seen.”

“It is said, and its true, that if you search the thousand faces, you will find the face of someone lost from your life.”

I read the entire piece to my husband and I said, “I want to write like this. I want to express on this level without raging or whining or sounding desperate.” He said, “No you don’t want to write like this. He has seen things we can’t imagine.”

What Evans offered was an invitation to join him on his journey as he struggles with spirituality, cultures, war, peace, insanity, PTSD and homelessness. He invited me to sort thru my own locked closet to determine what is in the back drawers—the hidden chambers.

I want to walk into my writing with my eyes wide open, turning over every stone, thinking, reflecting and then thinking some more until the language fills me and the story arrives on the page raw and honest. I want to do this fully conscience and with my nervous system intact.

I am carrying “Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace” in my purse. Today it is my Holy book.

Laundered

The oak saplings on Mona Lane had grown into tall stately trees. Their leaves provided a shaded canopy from the muggy July heat. Several neighbors watched as I took pictures of my childhood home. A baldheaded man paced back and forth on his front porch. His hand was tightly wrapped around his cell-phone. My father’s rosebushes had long since vacated the property. The only thing that remained unchanged was the chain-link fence. I wanted to sit down on the front steps and sort out my emotions—pick thru them like piles of dirty laundry.

Whites.

Darks.

Good.

Bad.

Keep.

Bury.

Purge.

Stained.

Not enough time—an emotional drive-by. There were reunions to attend, biological siblings to meet and graveyards to traipse through. No time for sorting. My grandmother’s ghost was haunting the Alger Cemetery—waiting for my sister and I to hurry up and get there so we could pour her a beer.

Folklore: To prevent laundry hanging out to dry from getting bewitched, you should never leave it outside overnight.

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