Welcome to #Sunday, July 31, 2022 / Walk with beauty. Walk with peace. Walk with joy. Walk with happiness. Walk with grace. Walk with foregiveness. Walk with humility. Walk in this world with your whole self – each day. Walk with love. Amen.
As the first bird is heard, the half Worm Moon continues to head West, and the sun rises, again, in the East, I celebrate each hand or eye that ever loved me.
There are invisible blessings, if one can hear and see and feel and remember.
This is dedicated to the women who sing.
This has been a long time coming. I’ve composed and re-composed this piece for years as I would sit, in silence; or, when doing mundane things.
Music has been in my life for as long as I can remember. First, there were lullabys, sung by my mother, Helen Smith Dunn. As I grew, when she sang in church and I was rib-high, her rich contralto vibrated against my ear.
Eventually, I learned to play the violin. After days and years of practice, I became the second violin in the Rhode Island State Youth Orchestra. In addition, I joined the chorus in junior and senior high school. I have my mother’s deep, rich contralto voice. I’m forever grateful for that.
There are many women who sing and I know and love their songs. You may know them, too. These women who sing have voices that rise up, challenge, comfort, give solace, as only the human voice can do. Gracias a la vida.
Then, there are the women who sing because of how they live, how they give of themselves over and over again. They are the neighborhood community leaders, the mothers (even if they have no children of their own), the Aunties, the elders (Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers). They are our friends. These are the women who laugh together, dance together, love together, share together, support each other. I have had and continue to have such profoundly beautiful and strong women in my life. I’m forever grateful for that.
There are the women about whom history refers to as “Anon.” (Anonymous). Often, these women are cited in writings that have come to us through hundreds of years of human history. Their names are forgotten or have been erased. But, what they’re attributed to contributing to our shared human history survives. I’m forever grateful for that.
I’ve, often, dropped to my knees as I came to learn and understand how women have survived – actually survived and endured – for eons. Women have been raped, killed, beaten, mutilated, emotionally abused, spiritually tortured, denigrated (publicly and privately), referred to as sluts, whores, pussies, dykes, mother fuckers and more. What we do to each other out of fear and hate and bullying.
Finally, to all the women who believe you have no voice – you do. Your empowerment is the fact that you are a woman. Through you, through me comes the next generation. What’s more powerful than that?
To all the girls who are becoming women, do not be afraid. Explore. Challenge. Think. Create. Don’t take “No, you can’t.” as a satisfactory response to anything. Listen to your heart. Find and follow your path. I’ll tell you, right now, it won’t be easy. Life isn’t, always, easy. But, you have one life to live – live it.
*Dedicated in Gratitude, Love and Memory to my mother, Helen Smith Dunn (1912-1980); and to my sisters – Barbara Dunn Blossom, Tacy Dunn San Antonio and Genevieve Dunn (1955-2013).
Weeding With My Mother
I learned to weed a garden
squatting next to my mother
Once I began to learn what was wanted
and what was unwanted
The rest was easy
Get my hands dirty
Smell the earth
Make clean spaces
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dedicated with Love and Memory to Helen Constance Smith Dunn ~ 1912-1980 / Until we meet again.
© Jessan Dunn Otis, June 30, 2018
May 1, 2017 – #poem
So much to say
So much Silence in between
Solitude is my constant companion
Balance in all things
Letting thoughts and breath
run out and back
Sun on skin
Joy-filled hoot from behind
Mating calls of this bird and that
Distant roar of plane pushing into
brilliant blue of this afternoon’s air
One mourning dove lowing
soft and close
Thank You for this life
This one I’m living at this moment…
…this moment …this moment
Each of us is in service to someone or
Who do you serve?
…only this moment.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
(c) 5.1.17 – Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer
6:41 AM ~ poem
In this early morning, break-of-a-new day light
In this cooling, new-day air
I could live
(c) poem and photo credit – Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer – August 30, 2016
The Day After Thanksgiving 2015 – essay
Today is Friday, November 27, 2015 – the day after Thanksgiving. Yesterday was a quiet, thank-filled, beautiful day.
As usual, I was up early – before sunrise. Quiet time. Focus. Reflect.
Bright sun. Dry, crisp Rhode Island air. Telephone conversations with family and friends. E-mails to others. Thanksgiving Day parade playing in the background.
Later in the morning – preparations of favorite dishes to contribute to the shared dinner in the afternoon. Mashed potatoes, with fresh-chopped garlic, fresh rosemary, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper. Baby peas and pearl onions in a light cream sauce. My mother’s recipe for pineapple upsidedown cake, with extra maraschino cherries as part of the decoration, begun, and, then, baked in a black, cast iron fry pan – as that’s the best way. The perfume of fruits, fixings and fresh herbs blending into an aromatic, Thanksgiving day memory.
After we (Al, Gus-The Wonder Dog and I) arrived at my younger son’s home, the first whiff of turkey, with homemade cornbread stuffing, wafted down the stairs. Added to our feast was: Al’s homemade mashed carrots and turnips, with sweet butter, and; Ces’ turkey, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and brussel sprouts. What a feast! All washed down with a glass or two of dark amber Duchesse de Bourgogne.
What was required next was to temporarily step away from that table, with a few remnants of the fixings left on the plates. One must leave room for the two desserts.
Stepping into the late afternoon air was a welcome respite, all three dogs (Gus, Betty and Lucy) bouncing around, still looking for a bit of extra food and (always) for our attentions.
By then, the day had turned unseasonably mild, with a damp sweetness beginning to come in. No jackets required. Sun lowering a bit more in the West. That certain slant of light. Three of us talked on the terrace of food and incidental things, attempting to wiggle out a bit more space.
After a sufficient respite, the desserts were laid out – the aforementioned pineapple upsidedown cake (served with Brooklyn Creamery Company’s Extra Thick, Single Cream) and a pumpkin pie, with pecan and praline crumble, decorated with rich, yellow whipped cream edging, courtesy of Pastiche; and, some rugelach, just for good measure.
I cannot recall that last time I was as full as I was yesterday. One more bite and it would have spoiled everything.
Another retreat to the terrace, sunset by now. Lights of the city coming up. The trio of red, flashing warning lights at the top of the three stacks at the electric company flickering like erratic fireflies through the branches of the de-leafed, skeletal trees. The low whir of other folks coming or going, crossing the I-Way, East to West to East.
More incidental conversations, each happily fed and full, enjoying the evening’s air and city silence.
The divided leftovers are still covered and untouched. I’m just beginning to feel hungry, again.
A singularly memorable Thanksgiving Day 2015.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As a way of continuing to celebrate a Day of Thanks; and, to return many favors and blessings received, please accept The Thanksgiving Reader, created by Seth Godin and others. This is a free download; and, can be generously shared, individually and/or globally. Thank you, as always, Seth.
At This Time of the Turning of the Year – essay
At this time of the turning of the year my thoughts go in two directions – turning back and turning forward. Simultaneously, I stand exactly where and as I am in this moment.
Turning back, 2014 has been another year of continuing to become accustomed to not being able to hear my youngest sister’s laughter, to share a story of our adventures and expectations. Until we meet, again, Genevieve – I love you and miss you, BabyGirl. Your children and I will tell stories to your grandchildren of growing up together and of your gentleness and loving ways – part of your legacy.
2014 has, also, been a year of good, sometimes challenging, professional and personal work for me. Collaborating with clients to create custom-crafted content, strategies, buffing and polishing existing content until it shines and communicates exactly, mentoring and more. Good folks. Good work. Thank you for your confidence and continued support. My special thanks to Adam J. Kovitz, an extra-ordinary Friend and collaborator. Get this guy!
My personal work continues to shift, evolve, change, as it has since 1985. My gratitude to all poets and writers who came before me is steadfast and enduring. A particular nod of the head must go to Michael S. Harper, 1st Poet Laureate for the State of Rhode Island, through whose work, counsel, teachings and friendship I have been (and continue to be) enlarged, challenged, humbled, sustained. Thank you, MSH.
Gratitude, also, for the blessings of love from my three SweetMen – Al, Sandro and Ces. You enrich and sweeten my life; and, are loved more than you know.
In contrast, there were parts of 2014 that I would wish I never witnessed nor experienced. Continued killings, hatreds, viciousness, turmoil, senseless slaughters, ongoing acts of unkindness. Heartbreaking. Destructive beyond all measure. Repeating history. Lessons not learned.
Once again I ask myself: “What is my part in this?” I ask you: “What is your part in this?”
And, so its continues to go – another month turned, another year passes.
At this time of the turning of the year, I remember, rejoice, reflect and rejuvenate. May the blessings and joy of loving and being loved by someone somewhere follow and sustain you throughout 2015. May all your troubles be little ones; and, the wind always at your back.