Friday, March 8, 2013

dVerse Submission: Sweet Home or Psalms Fell on Alabama

Sweet Home
     or Psalms Fell on Alabama


My home is also the home of the first U.S. Mardi Gras.
     My home is also the home of the last tree to grow Strange Fruit.

We have small, proud mountains.
     We mine them.

We have beautiful rivers and bays.
     We pollute them.

We wear a black belt of rich farmland
      which  we sell to corporations.

We are strong in our faith
       but we use our bible belt to beat down .

It is the home of the Tuskegee Airmen.
      It is the home of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

It is the birthplace of Coretta and Condoleezza; Harper and Helen; Rosa.
      It is the resting place of of Michael and Billy Jack.

It had the meeting place of the United Klans of America,
      until Mrs. Donald took them down for her son.

It is a land of beauty and richness.
       It is a land of hate and poverty.

We fear Them because
      we don't understand that there is only Us

I love my home state,
     and it breaks my heart.

heidi
written: 3/8/13 for dVerse Oh the Places We Live prompt

I had to think about this one for a while, and I am never satisfied with the stuff I write that has required intense pondering. I liked this challenge, and, in an attempt to learn more about poetry forms,  I have been reading Poetry for Dummies by John Timpane. I have never written psalms before and I thought this would be a good opportunity. This could have gotten very long, but there is only 10 hours left in this linky and I really am not trying to write a book on Alabama. If you are curious, I have posted links (and there are Wikipedia links, but I am running out of time here) below about the song references, and people mentioned in the poem in case you want to read more. (in order of appearance)

Sweet Home Alabama     Stars Fell on Alabama     Strange Fruit      Tuskegee Airman     Tuskegee Syphilis Study     Coretta Scott King     Condoleezza Rice     Helen Keller     Harper Lee     Rosa Parks     Michael Donald     Billy Jack Gaither     Beulah Mae Donald
 x

26 comments:

  1. oh heck...this is a felt write...heavy with emotions...your love shines through...and because of this love you suffer even more because of the things that go wrong...really love your honesty in this heidi..and as i said...your love really shines through

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    1. Thank you Claudia! Alabama is full of contradictions.

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  2. very cool on the links as well...will check some of them out..

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    1. Thanks again! I tried to find links that were interesting a well as informative.

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  3. Heidi, this I agree is a very honest poem. Alabama is a beautiful place, I lived in Tennessee for awhile, and being a native New Yorker I never understood certain ways of thinking. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Pamela

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    1. Thank you Pamela! Welcome to the lasagna. I really liked this challenge, although I had no idea that it would be so hard to write.

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  4. As a fellow southerner, I well know the mixed emotions. This Psalm really speaks to me. Fine work--there is only Us.

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    1. Thanks Nico! I'm glad that you liked it.

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  5. ha. you got the good with the bad eh...it takes all kinda texture to make a place...oh the bible belt gets beat around here too...haha...it breaks my heart as well...alabama has some beauty to it as well..i been there...smiles.

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    1. Hi Brian! I had a had time trying to balance the good and the bad. There is so much that is beautiful and wonderful and brave here, and that often gets challenged and overshadowed. If you ever come back and are near Tuscaloosa or Mobile, let me know. I know where all the great places to eat are (another plus, we have great food here!) Thanks for the thoughts.

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  6. This was particularly poignant for me, as just this week I gave a lecture on "Ethics in research", and I used the Tuskegee Syphilis Study as example of what is not ethical. I'm in New Zealand, and I also used a more local example (women with abnormal cervical smears were left untreated to see what happens, the women didn't know they were in a study or that they weren't going to be treated - then the deaths started). Anyway, that's a long way of saying that wherever we are in the world, we all have geographical shame! Great poem.

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    1. Hi Rowan! Welcome to the lasagna. The Tuskegee study has had so many long term heath impacts not only on the members and their families, but on many Alabama residents. Although I wish that there weren't other examples of the same behavior going on elsewhere. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you liked it.

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  7. I love the study in contrasts that make this such an effective, powerful write that is so full of reality. Such tragic times and yet, such reason for pride. Thought-provoking.

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    1. Thank you Victoria! In the Poetry for Dummies book, the author wrote about how contradictions were used in psalms. When I was thinking about what to write, I kept thinking along the lines of "we have this great thing, yeah, but we also have this sucky thing." This form seemed to be a good way to express those thoughts. (well, that, and, it is the Bible Belt, and the 12 year old who lives right under my skin was amused by using psalms.) Anyway...long reply to say I'm glad that you liked it.

      (ah shoot. it's my blog, i can lengthy reply if i want.)

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  8. Everything runs together, the good and the bad, wherever we are. Hits home, doesn't it? Your poem reminds me all the more that love wins out every time.

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    1. Hi Eusebia! I hope that love wins out every time. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. There is so much to bring joy, but so much also to bring sorrow....a wonderful write in contrasts. I have never written a psalm. Frankly I never even thought about it. Great write!

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    1. I was reading about short forms and when I read, "try a psalm" my first thought was "you can do that?" Thank you for stopping by and for the kind comments.

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  10. I love this. (Wow, that comment was not as profound as one might've hoped.)

    And it hits home, as I'm from Alabama, too.

    Roll, Tide!

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    1. Hi Bone! Welcome to the lasagna. "I love this" is an appropriate comment, which does become profound when accompanied with "Roll Tide". I am very happy that you love it. What part of Alabama? I'm from Mobile, but I live in Tusaloosa.

      Roll Tide!

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    2. I'm from way up north, outside of Huntsville :)

      And I'm actually headed to Tuscaloosa here in a bit for the basketball game.

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    3. Hope you had a good trip!

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  11. These lines hit me:

    It is a land of beauty and richness.
    It is a land of hate and poverty.

    It is sad to see our native lands crippled with hate ~ I hope we always see the beauty of it, regardless of the bad things ~

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    1. It is very frustrating, mostly because it's so thoughtless. We are too in love with tradition, and you will end up see confusing, contradictory behaviors out of people.

      We also have a strong number of people who are trying to help the state live up to its potential.

      Thanks for stopping by Grace! I always look forward to your comments.

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  12. Oh Heidi - such heartfelt words (and I became as emotional as you did in your reading).

    'We fear Them because
    we don't understand that there is only Us'

    And so we do...and I wish we didn't...

    Anna :o]

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    1. Hi Anna! Thank you for your very sweet comment. I had to record that one a few times before you could understand me. I wish that the us and them thing wasn't so universal. Thanks again for stopping by. I always enjoy your visits.

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