Tag Archives: Protest

The Comfort of Old Men

Photo by Jan Abellan for Unsplash. Used with permission

The Comfort of Old Men

Children are sleeping sound in their beds,
inured to the missiles launched over their heads.
They’re used to the discipline of a cruel world
where bullets are served when the flag is unfurled.

They call it allegiance their country to serve
Old men sit at tables displaying their nerve
by setting out battle plans whereby the young
provide the chests where the medals are hung

that they earn facing death so the old men can gain
more gold that the young men pay for with their pain.
They posture and pose. They salute and they brag.
They call it a privilege serving your flag,

but none of the old face the bullets and fire.
It is not the aged men marked to expire.
Their rigors of battle are all of the head.
None twist to the impact of napalm or lead,

but war’s golden rewards are amassed in their pockets.
Munitions and guns and bullets and rockets
are the fruit of their plunder and part of the fun
they will buy from the profit they make from each gun.

This generation’s blood sweat and tears
will pay for the yachts of the rich and the gears
of the factories smudging the skies with their waste.
Air chokes on their vapors, the oceans all taste

their lethal remainders and sicken and die.
We have poisoned our water, our earth and our sky.
What is left once the old men have all had their say?
They will live life in splendor and the future will pay.

Prompt words for today are inure, twist, golden, privilege and discipline.

America’s Burning

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America’s Burning

Count the faces. Take a tally
of the peaceful protest rally.
Their routine is most well-planned,
masks in place, placards in hand.

Enter police. Down on belly!!!
Enter newscasters for telly.
Teargas in the people’s park.
Truckloads arrive after dark.

Rioting and smashing glass.
Other dark deeds come to pass.
Using protest for excuse
to bring discord and spread abuse.

Violence becomes routine.
Authority a cruel machine.
A whole nation comes to grieve
the loss of what most folks believe.

An orange bigot, Bible raised,
pontificates, posturing, crazed.
A landmark of our country’s pride,
struck by a flash as freedom died.

Has our nation come to this?
This puffed-up, prideful bag of piss?
Shame on a country who listens to
a fool who’s rotten through and through.

Let sane men take the lead  and bring
some sanity to everything.
Equality and fairness reign
under a government more sane.

People stand up. Demand the best.
Do not give up. We cannot rest.
Seize back the country we have sold
to men who only care for gold.

Give succor to the halt and lame.
Do not play the money game
subsidizing rich man’s greed
instead of helping those in need.

Color is just an outer skin
and not a mark of shame or sin.
Use these sad times to make a start
to start to recognize the heart

that unites men from every nation,
every interest, every station.
Save our earth and save mankind.
Restore justice, and make her blind!!

Prompt words today are belly, landmark, grieve, rally and routine. I swore I’d write about something other than the rallies and violence that are tearing at the flesh of the whole world, but impossible to follow these prompt words anywhere except back to the current matters at hand.

Right Wing Conspiracists Pull from Old Playbook to Blame George Soros for Riots


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Feet firmly planted, I’m not prone to budge.
So, have me arrested. Bring on the judge.
You’re better off giving me a gentle nudge,
for I will not be altered by law or decree.
Better that you use sound logic with me.


“Stationary” was a prompt for the Ragtag Daily Prompt


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“So, I reckon you’re naked under all them clothes?”

It was either the dumbest or cleverest pick-up line she had ever heard. Everyone else seemed in a state of shock over what she was wearing, and already one person had tried to oust her, but she could see no signs that actually said “Nude Beach,” so she was sticking her ground.

No one on this earth was going to tell her what she should (or in this case, shouldn’t) be wearing. Next week she intended on entering everyone’s favorite coffee shop with no shoes, no shirt. That should balance things out a bit.

Prompts for today are reckoning, either, naked, oust and state.

Jan. 21, 2017: Love, Peace and Solidarity March in La Manzanilla, Mexico

The march and demonstration in La Manzanilla, Mexico, the day after President Trump’s inauguration was by no means strictly a women’s march, as you will see by these photos.  Inspiring. No violence.  No anger.  Just statements of beliefs and expressions of unity. Men, women, children, Mexicans, Canadians, Americans.  A well-thought-out and positive speech, many hats, many signs, short four block march around the triangle. I love the people who live all or part of the year in this town.

(Click on first photo to enlarge all and see translations of the signs.)


Favorite Quote: Day 2


Peruvian children, Amazon River trip.

“We acquire the strength we have overcome.”
                                                                                –Ralph Waldo Emerson

In some primitive cultures, it was believed that if you ate the heart of an enemy, you acquired his strength.  I stop short of this, but I do know that standing up for ourselves or others in spite of our fears does strengthen character. I think this is what Emerson is talking about. One of my greatest weaknesses is, I know, wanting to be liked by all. Now and then, however, I have rebelled and  stood up for what I believed in spite of popular opinion or in rebellion against the powers that were at the time. Luckily, all usually came out well even though I chose to put myself at risk. Then, back to a comfortable life.  Not for me the perpetual picket line or protest.  The rest of the time my pen is my placard.

Vanity Depressed

Today, I received the below email from a well-known organization that reviews children’s books:

Dear Judy Dykstra-Brown,

Thank you for your interest in XXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Unfortunately, we can’t review books from vanity presses like CreateSpace*. For more of our submission guidelines, please see our website here: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Editorial Assistant

*note from Judy: CreateSpace is a company within Amazon that aids self-publishing authors in formatting,, printing and distributing their books.

My feelings about being labeled a “vanity press” author will be best expressed by displaying here the letter I wrote back to the assistant who had written the letter:


I thank you for your prompt reply to my inquiry.

Although I certainly understand your reasons for not wanting to consider privately published material, I would like to bring one matter to your attention.

I have been writing for over 50 years. I have written and published three books, published nearly 40 articles in print and online magazines, won a national first prize for my poetry, edited a poetry journal and now coordinate a popular poetry series. I am in the process of having five more children’s books illustrated and working on a novel and two poetry anthologies. In my early career, I taught literature and writing for ten years and edited a teenage poetry anthology.

I mention these facts to explain why I feel it is an insult to have my decision to publish my own work called a “vanity”. Certainly, I am aware of the term, just as I am aware of other racial and physically derogatory terms that were once considered the norm but which in an enlightened age have come to be recognized as insulting and prejudicial.

May I ask your group to consider not using the term “vanity press” as a blanket term for self-published material?

I thank you for your efforts to reward excellent work in the field of children’s literature.

Best Regards,
Judy Dykstra-Brown

I would be most interested in other bloggers’ thoughts about this matter. Is blogging, also, considered just another “vanity” means of expression? I know that a great deal of status is attached to being published by a recognized publishing company, but do all writers who choose another path deserve to have their efforts considered as mere vanity? Is that our main goal?  Is that what we deserve to be labelled as?  Is it too much to ask to be labelled as what in truth we are—self-published?

Frida Kahlo had two gallery exhibitions in her entire lifetime. One of her paintings just sold for 5 million dollars!!! Were her artistic endeavors, in her lifetime, mere vanities? What of Van Gogh? Or Emily Dickinson? Only a few of Franz Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime. Johann Sebastian Bach was widely known as an organist, but his fame as a composer occurred after his death. Henry David Thoreau could not find a publisher for many of his works.

Certainly, I am no Emily Dickinson or Henry David Thoreau, and those who go through the rigors and humiliations of trying to find an agent and publisher certainly deserve plaudits for possessing determination as well as talent. I admit that I have neither the inclination nor the energy to jump through the hoops necessary to find a “legitimate” publisher. I just want to write, and I will not accept the label of “vanity” being attached to my writing.

Yes, I am proud of my efforts in doing all of the work myself that a publisher and editor normally do. Yes, I am proud of the fact that I have continued to write for 50 years with very little monetary recompense. But I don’t think my need to be heard is prompted by vanity any more than the determination of professionally published authors is.  We write because we need to write. It is a drive and what, in my case, gives meaning to my life. If that is vanity, then long live vanity! But please say it behind my back—not as an official representative of your guild or company or association or library or agency or board of merit.

Now I will climb down off my soapbox and get back to work on what I do for love, not vanity. If I’ve struck a chord, please add your voice to my protest by publishing your comments on my blog.