Sunday Things: Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines

A survivor cooks dinner in front of his damaged home in the village of Marabut, Samar Island, on Friday, November 15, 2013. Photography by David Guttenfelder

Hail and Fire
By Annette Marie Hyder

“This is the worst,” Cardenas said, taking a break from fixing a piece of damaged furniture. “We’re both victims and rescuers.” *

A hard rain pelted this island
and left a hard rain of bodies
littered on the ground
like a residue of frost
or even more — like hail.
Those bodies fell
like hail
in that they hurt and destroyed things in their path —
hearts like hopeful green shoots of grass
were pummeled and bruised as the hail came down
and families shattered like car windshields,
where the hail struck,
cracking from the center of loss
and  spider-webbing outwards.

Destruction was sown like dragon’s teeth
with sorrow cropping up like a million opportunistic
branches of creeping devastation cane.
And it seems like the only thing of good use against this
is fire. Fires crackle, as fires do, by shacks
as well as in the oil drums of many hearts
with the power to cleanse and clear the way
for — truly — I know not what.

I only know that there is much to do and grieving too
is part of the task at hand
as the wind sends smoke signals to those who are left behind
telling them to depart — whispering of
a mass exodus and many mass graves
and hail and fire and the way
that a path opens up for the feet of the weary
to follow each one their way —
a bitter hard path if they depart
and a hard bitter path if they stay.

How to help

Want to know how you can help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda? Here is a link to an ABC News article with tips on best practices when sending relief: The best ways to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan

*From “Typhoon Haiyan: More cadaver bags sent to Philippines as toll climbs to 3,633 dead”
By Jethro Mullen

Alice Munro Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature

Images courtesy of CTV News

Congratulations, Alice Munro!

The Nobel Committee announced today that Ms. Alice Munro is this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature making her the 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize. Ms. Munro, 82, has won the prize for her lifetime body of short story work. In doing so, the renowned Canadian storyteller has brought a fresh appreciation for the short story as an art form. Source

“The Nobel, one of the most prestigious and lucrative prizes in the
world, is given to a writer for a lifetime’s body of work, rather than a
single novel, short story or collection. The winner receives 8 million
Swedish kronor, or about $1.2 million.” — The New York Times

Ms. Munro has talked about retiring — being through with writing.

“Speaking to a reporter after the announcement of the prize, Peter
Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said that Ms.
Munro is capable of a “fantastic portrayal of human beings.” Whether Ms.
Munro is really finished writing, he said, is up to her.” — The New York Times

Would you like to know what the nomination and selection process is for the Literature Laureates? You can learn all about it at

All aboard! The Art Train is a finalist!

“Big News! The three finalists have been announced in the
Forever St. Paul MN Idea Open today and one is right here in the
Creative Enterprise Zone of St. Anthony Park. Please help us get out the
vote for the Art Train. It’s an innovative proposa
that would repurpose old train cars by turning them into affordable
creative spaces. All three ideas are competing by popular vote for $1
million in funding.” — Saint Anthony Park Community Council

I love the idea of the Art Train! I hope you’ll check out the short video at the link (especially if you love the historicity, the romance, and the uniqueness of trains, the way that spaces in them can be ‘expansive and cloistered’ at the same time) and VOTE for the Art Train.

(Voting is free.)

All Aboard the Art Train!

From the SAPCC website:

“This is a great opportunity to anchor the Creative Enterprise Zone
and preserve affordable, unique space for creative entrepreneurs. But,
we need your help to make it happen.

Voting starts today and ends
Sept. 2. With only 20 days to get out the vote, we need all the help we
can get. Here’s what you can do:

1) Vote now! It only takes a second. Go to and vote for The Art Train. You can also read all about the idea, competition and other finalists there.
2) Ask 5 of your friends to vote right now. Send them an email, Facebook message, text or call them. 
Share this status. With such a short time to raise awareness, social
media is going to be one of the most effective ways to spread the word.
Help us extend our reach as far as possible by clicking the facebook
button on this post. 
4) Start your own campaign to get out the vote.
The more people we have working to bring the Art Train to St. Paul, the
better our chances will be. This might mean sending out a quick email
to your list asking people to vote and spread the word. You can post the
link to vote to your own social media accounts, or talk to people

We hope you are as excited as we are about this
incredible opportunity. Stay tuned for updates, efforts and more ways to
help bring the Art Train to St. Paul.”

You can also vote by texting “Train” to 228466

Grey Hoodie and the Predator

I’m thinking about the parallels between the Trayvon Martin shooting and the Little Red Riding Hood folk tale — only without the bowdlerized ending of the story that we are all familiar with.

A youth in a hood walks through the dangerous places in the world (for Red, the woods, for Trayvon, everywhere) carrying something desirable to eat (Red has a picnic basket with goodies for her grandmother, Trayvon has a bag of skittles) and is accosted by the predator, the big bad wolf. The wolf in our present day story wants the same thing as the wolf in the folktale — he wants to destroy the youth.

In the folktale, Red’s very act of walking through the woods becomes transgressive when she leaves the path to pick some flowers. She also talks to a stranger (the wolf) and tells him where she is going.

In the real world, Trayvon’s very act of walking through a neighborhood’s backyards — off the path — was viewed as transgressive. But really was there anywhere he could walk at night without it being viewed as transgressive? Didn’t he walk daily through his very own twisted and menacing woods — those of
a society that preyed on him whether he strayed from the path or not?

There has been a lot of talk about how Trayvon might have feared that he was being stalked for sexual purposes. Much has been made of the sexual undertones of the Red Riding Hood tale. One more correlation between Red Riding Hood and Grey Hoodie.

The thing that starkly sets the real life events apart from the gruesome events in the folktale and turns it into a horror story is first and foremost because it is real — this really happened. But if this were a story with an ending that wanted to instill hopelessness and horror into the reader — then just let the wolf win. Let the wolf kill the hooded youth and go up against the woodsman with his axe (justice) and the villagers (society and what acts it will sanction) and let the wolf win.

This wolf, Trayvon’s killer, this wolf, if his belly should be cut open, what would we find
inside? The dead grandmother, the personification of all the wolf hates and fears the most? Where is justice, where is the woodsman’s axe, in
this story? In our story the wolf is triumphant and the hooded youth is
dead. The wolf has faced the neighbors and the rescuers and he has been set free to go back out into the forest to prowl again.

I have always been drawn to the stories beneath the stories in folktales and fairy tales, lured by the siren song of deeper meaning and the microcosms of metaphor in the detritus beneath the leaves that litter any given tangled wood in fable and in lore. But here, in this true story in the real world, the leaf litter blows in a wind of politics which is generated by a giant fan  — a machine which is media manipulation — the leaf litter is blown away and the meaning is lost in what is revealed beneath. There is nothing more than bare concrete splattered with brown stains which you know intuitively are pigmented of blood and you think, you think about the scripture in which it is said that the very ground calls out for your brother’s blood. Is Trayvon not my brother? Do I hear the low chant from deep within the ground?

But the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! — Genesis 4:10, New Living Translation (2007)

Wine aged by the sea

Calling all sommeliers! Check this out from NewsDaily:

“CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A California winery on Tuesday recovered four
cases of Cabernet Sauvignon that were submerged in Charleston Harbor
three months ago in the first phase of an experiment to determine the
effect of ocean aging on wine.

Divers recovered four yellow steel cages containing the
wine that was put in 60 feet of water back in February by the Mira
Winery of St. Helena, Calif.

Jim “Bear” Dyke Jr., the Charleston resident who owns the winery, says the wine will now be sampled and chemically analyzed.

Later this year, he said, more wine will be submerged
in the harbor for twice as long as the winery continues to experiment
with ocean aging.” Read the entire story here.

Image via

Glinkle and Clink
By Annette Marie Hyder

The tinkle and plink you hear
is the glinkle and clink
of mermaids
toasting and drinking
a case of fine wine
left at the bottom of the sea.
Surely, they told each other
when they swam up on it,
This offering is for we three!

And the wine that got hauled
to land after that
was not as it appeared to be.
Those bottles were filled right up to the top,
when they opened them back on the shore,
with tears from the mermaids
which they cried upon seeing

that the fine wine was no more.

I am not a vagina. I am a woman.

Hampshire State Rep. Peter Hansen sent out an email to the official
legislative listserv referring to women as “vaginas.” This was in
response to his colleague’s recent speech about the benefits of retreating instead of using deadly force. Every person on the listserv received his email which included the following:

“What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful
retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and
vagina’s of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary
male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and
women and mothers are the potential victims.” — New Hampshire State
Rep. Peter Hansen

After reducing an entire segment of the
population to one part of their anatomy, and being called out on it by
the New Hampshire House of Representatives (among others), he defended
his use of the term and referred to his “fairly well educated mind” in
excusing his use of what others have deemed a crude catch-all expression
when referring to women as a group:

“Having a fairly well
educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put
words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy
in communication into an insulting accusation, and finally if you find
the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive then perhaps a better
exercise might be for you to re-examine your psyche.” — New Hampshire
State Rep. Peter Hansen

Using Peter Hansen’s own logic, I am
left believing that he would like to be referred to as a penis, or, as
we say colloquially, a dick.

His “fairly well educated” mind
shows itself to be below average when it comes to something as simple as
proper grammar. I direct your outrage now to his errant apostrophe in

Peter Hansen, we have vaginas, that does not make
us vaginas (or “vagina’s”). It is disappointing that someone in a
position of power and authority, such as yours, demonstrates such

Read more about this here, at Huffington Post.

Like a Thief In the Night Or Like a Second Coming

By Annette Marie Hyder

Love has sly feet
and sticky fingers
has wings
and sometimes uses them
is a chameleon
a charmer
a fatal disarmer
with ropes of pearls
to scale the highest walls
and a burglar’s toolkit to die for.

Love can come trumpeted on a cloud
or in the shadow of a secret smile.
Love might be wearing silks that flow like water
and satins that sing like nightingales
or a monk’s brown robes might cloak Love’s form,
sash-tied with steely gray.
Like a prick of the spindle or on Icarus wings —
Love swoons and pounces
laughs and cries
metamorphosizes like a butterfly.

Love is all these things
and love is more
but love is not just for a chosen few,
not only for me and not only for you.
Love is not the privilege of any one group
nor its exclusive purview.
Love belongs to everyone.
Please help support equal marital rights for all.
Thank you.

Be a part of history

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments TODAY on Prop. 8 and tomorrow on DOMA.

We need as many Americans as possible to show their support for equality.

Sign HRC’s Majority Opinion petition and help make these discriminatory laws history.

Roe v. Wade 40th anniversary

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. SLATE Magazine has a list of states competing to ban legal abortion first: Happy Anniversary Roe v. Wade! Here Are the States Competing To Ban Legal Abortion First.

There is an interesting article over at Jezebel, How Jane Roe Went from being a Lesbian Pro-Choice Icon to a Straight Born-Again Anti-Choice Activist.

And I have a previously published essay for you, “The Legislation of Flowers”.

Drops of Red, by

The Legislation of Flowers
Annette Marie Hyder
Originally published in Blue Fifth Review

If this were an allegory written to illuminate the abuse of women through the symbol
of flowers – if I wanted to show, in a story, the way that the intrinsic and multitudinous
beauty of women is destroyed over and over again in so many ways and in every land
 – then scenes of fields of flowers being wantonly plucked and tossed aside to wither
for no purpose, no reason, would bloom upon this page.
I could fill this page with images of a global flower field being invaded by corsage crazy
pickers raggedly ruining in a rampage of greed for dominion until the petals bled in all
their colors and the page reeked with the perfume of loss.
In asides, I would remind you that flowers are the secret essence of life – the quickening,
the blooming, the ripening and the withering – in more than metaphor.
Flowers attract, brighten, perfume and carry – the seeds of the future within them and
in spreading their petals and allowing the sharp tongue of bee’s exploration/bird’s
exploitation/wind’s dalliance and various other utilizations of their secret language which
is rich in propensity to procreation – they plant the continuation of life firmly with their
Chloris touch.
I could mention that there are forced bulbs – brought to maturity through artificial means
and before their time. I could talk, also, about those hothouse creations manipulated into
colors more vivid and shapes more fantastic than any that can occur in nature (as if those
natural shapes and colors were not wonderful enough). I could tell you about the isolated
life that the gilded lilies live in their rarified atmospheres.
If I wanted to illustrate the way that our culture can shape us – I might record the songs
sung by those cultivated flowers – the shivering song of misery that is beautiful to hear
because the flowers are beautiful and can’t help producing beautiful music with their tulip
throats, their rose lips, their marigold whispers and creamy gardenia sighs – tell you how
the hothouse workers hear the heavy droning of bees loaded with pollen thick with honey
 – making and quivering with the desire to plunge in that song and how the hothouse
workers take that song home with them in their heads – wondering where their humming
of pleasure and the quick use of their mates comes from and reveling in the drive – the
bustle, the alive and thick with satisfied confidence – that honeycombs their minds.
I might pontificate on crystallized edible petals that are used for garnish in gourmand
recipes – with “garnish” being as of little consequence other than to enhance the main
(I don’t have to tell you about the addictiveness of Poppies or the danger of Melicore – or
that Bella Donna is a poison and a cure.)
I might tell you a parable of the three wild flowers – Maidfern, Matronbloom and Wintercrone.
But what I really want you to think about when I am talking about the beauty and utility of
flowers is this: that women are not flowers.
We are not flowers. We are not for your picking, your clumsy vasing attempts in which you
sort order by the studious arrangement of us, we are not to be forced or permutated to
your ends.
We are something better than the lilies of the field, bouquets of symbolism, perfumed nights
and exotic colors, delightful garnish and purposeful receptacle for insect/bird/bee.
True, we are carriers of life, and it is only fitting that we should bear that life – but at/in/under
our own proper season – one of those seasons being “not now,” one of those seasons being
“not at all.” The decision is solely our own – not to be governed as if by some strict
“horticulturist’s” code – not given over to the winds of politics or the rains of propaganda – not
legislated according to a potpourri of misinformation and a misguided desire for one group to
impose their ideas of how woman should be – whether aesthetically or procreatively.
Let there be no legislation of our bodies/our “flowers”/ourselves. We are fecund and we wish
to remain so – but free.
One “flower’s” opinion.