Sunshine brackets me

By Annette Marie Hyder

like bookends lacquered in gold crackle

holding me between its arms
as if I am a book
with my spine trying —
as book-spines are wont —
to share something of myself with the world.
Sometimes I can feel my pages rustling
and I know that someday
the sun will no longer bracket me,
will not illuminate the print on the outside,
but instead will seep quietly into my pages
limning all the words inside —
the ones we all have —
monk-labored and calligraphy kissed
like a manuscript of old, lavish in marginalia,
annotated and footnoted, Latin phrase blissed.
And I see those words trellis across the manuscript —
the opposite of palimpsest —
as sunshine climbs them, hand over hand,
and something grows bright red and knife sharp:
a rose with thorns that when I look closer
resolve themselves to quills
that I’ll be writing with.

Yes, it is true that the spine is a metaphor for courage,
a byword for assertiveness.
Behind the narrow strip
where the cover of this book is joined to its pages,
let each word be written with brushes dipped
in the gold of burning stars and glissed
with the ruby of molten rocks,
the hard glass green of chemo-sensing sea serpents,
and the brightest blue that delicately floats on lepidoptera wings.
Let the black be rich and let it still cling
to darkest earth/womb/tomb from whence it came,
sometimes leaving smudges where none were intended
through muck fecundity.

Illuminated Manuscripts

The British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog is filled with pictures of pages and attendant information pertaining to said pages from illuminated books and ancient manuscripts. The four examples below from the BLMEMB (British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog) include:
1. Miniatures of (in the initial) a
poet-lover presenting verses to his lady and (in the right margin) a
lover’s heart, burning on a fire and being quenched with rain; from a
collection of 49 love sonnets, Italy (probably Milan), 2nd or 3rd
quarter of the 15th century
, King’s MS 322, f. 1r.
2. Miniature of the Apparition of Michael. 
Beneath the miniature is a single four-line red stave, musical notation
and a single line of text in gold capitals ‘Exultando in Gesu’.
Illuminated by Pacino di Buonaguida, Italy (Florence), c. 1340, Additional 35254B

3. A detail from the Speculum
sapientiae, or Mirror of Wisdom, a Latin text that included a large number of beast fables. Detail of a miniature of the hedgehog reproaching the goat for his vanity; from Ulrich von Pottenstein, Spiegel der Weisheit, Austria (Salzburg), c. 1430, Egerton MS 1121, f. 44v.

4. Allegorical miniature of the Tudor rose, incorporating various emblems associated with Henry VIII, from Motets for Henry VIII, Netherlands (Antwerp?), 1516, Royal 11 E. xi, f. 2r

The detail of the miniature of number three is one of my favorites. According to the BLMEMB, “In one of the fables, a goat came upon its
own reflection in a pond.  The goat,
seeing the horns on his head and his long goat beard, thought himself very
handsome indeed, and began to bleat, boasting of his horny ‘crown’ and hairy
‘necklace’.  A passing hedgehog, however,
was less than impressed.  If the goat had
impressive horns and beard, he also had an unsightly tail and a foul
temper.  A profound humility, the
hedgehog reproached, not vain
boasting, was what made an animal truly noble.”

1. 2.  

Links of interest:
Take one unicorn — A recipe for how to cook unicorn.
Timbuktu Texts Saved From Burning — A triumph for bibliophiles.

Happy Inauguration Day 2013!

Even the astronauts in space took note of today’s inauguration of President Barack Obama. The astronauts took photos of the US capital from their perch in the heavens and you can read about it at Astronauts See Obama Inauguration Site From Space

Inaugural address

During his Inaugural address, President Obama emphasized equality:

is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.
For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and
daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not
complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else
under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love
we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not
complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the
right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way
to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a
land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are
enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our
journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of
Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know
that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. ” –
Barack Obama during today’s Inaugural address

You can watch the entire Inaugural address here.

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco

There have only been, in the entire course of the history of the United States, four other inaugural poets. Richard Blanco brings the total to five.

From PEN America:

“Kennedy introduced the concept in 1961 by asking Robert Frost to read
an original poem at the inauguration, and Clinton revisited it by
choosing Maya Angelou in 1993 and Miller Williams in 1997. Elizabeth
Alexander read at Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and now we’ve exhausted the
entire history of the title.”

Richard Blanco is, at 44 years old, the youngest person to ever serve as inaugural poet. He is the first immigrant, first Latino, and first openly gay person too.

His poem, “One Today”,  speaks to unity and the American Experience. Here is a transcript of his poem, courtesy of ABC News:

“One Today”

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us —
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together.

September 11 Anniversary

Best tool-hope image courtesy of Joanna Meriwether

May hope be in your heart
By Annette Marie Hyder

but also in your hands —
as a tool to use
on the damaged places
the weak and ravaged areas —
to build a better world.

Links to other 9/11 poems:
Sunday Things: Prayers on 9/11
9/11 Tribute in Light: a light in the dark, alight in the dark
tow · er (tow´ er)

News coverage for anniversary of 9/11: At ground zero, can there be a politics-free 9/11
CNN: 9/11 responders wait for compensation for their illnesses
Huffington Post: Agreement reached for Sept. 11 museum’s completion

86th Birthday of Marilyn Monroe

All images Public Domain

Forever 36, Marilyn Monroe would have been 86 today.

Marilyn Over the Rainbow
By Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Empowerment4Women Magazine

If heaven is a place
“over the rainbow”
where ruby slippers shimmer
and ruby red lips part over pearly whites
of laughter
and blue birds of happiness really do sing
the thoughts of your equally blue eyes
and if heaven is a place where all the good “gods” go —
the celebrities/deities of various grades A, B, and C —
then that is where I will picture you
so shiny and always smiling
at gusts of wind that whip your dress into a frenzy
but not your composure
that is cocksure-serene-pouty-posing-pure
and as white-hot-gold as your hair
for real.
I see you there.

Links of interest:
Marilyn Monroe to get hologram treatment
Marilyn Monroe’s star to get birthday rededication


The Heaviness of Stone

By Annette Marie Hyder
Memorial Day 2012

For all its marble glamor
and its steely granite allure
it is a fatal beauty
for which there is no cure.
Although there is a glory
to a hero’s pillow
beneath the sheets of history
in colors dark and alabaster
somber as ancient bones…

“It’s hard to see your father’s name
etched in stone.”
— Kevin Caulfield

Links of interest:
Warrior Writers
Combat Paper Project
Memorial Day 2011
Memorial Day 2010

After returning from Iraq, Drew Cameron co-founded Combat Paper Project, an organization which works with returning veterans to turn their uniforms
into paper, which is then used to share stories, emotions and  art; sublimating the gruesome realities of war.

From the site:

“Through ongoing participation in the
papermaking process, combat papermakers are attempting to progress from
creating works specific to their military experiences to expressing a
broader vision on militarism and society. The work reflects both the
anger of the past and hope for the future. Through this collaboration
between civilians and veterans, a much-needed conversation is generated
regarding our responsibilities to the returned veteran and an
understanding of the dehumanizing effects of warfare.”

“The story of the fiber, the blood, sweat and tears, the months of
hardship and brutal violence are held within those old uniforms. The
uniforms often become inhabitants of closets or boxes in the attic.
Reshaping that association of subordination, of warfare and service,
into something collective and beautiful is our inspiration.”
Drew Cameron

Listening to: Kate Bush

Happy International Women’s Day 2012!

Public Domain Image

International Women’s Day

From Wikipedia:

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In many regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

Tying in with celebrating IWD, check out the Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know project and keep checking back here for updates and news about this ongoing project! Just click on the thumbnails to view and click again to enlarge each piece.


By Annette Marie Hyder

Her voice is made of a pair of wings
folded but not clipped.
Their downy softness covers
the strength of tendons
elastic tight and curved for flight
the resilience of bones
hollow and light
for the wind to sing through
but also the scars from birds of prey
broken quills
and moulting.

Those wings, her voice,
folded quietly by her sides
are feathered bows as they rise
spread out and grab fistfuls of sky
to launch aloft upon the air
where freedom is a set of wings
that is a voice
that will still sing
though scarred and made of partly
ruined things.
The joy will out when on the wing.

Links of interest:

International Women’s Day 2012
Los Angeles Times
Toronto Star
The Washington Post