Category Archives: Essays

Shi Sai Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 19 February 2017

Another week, another Sunday of looking back. The second line of this week’s Shi Sai was troubling to me when I read it back for the first time. “God is not there to listen”. What does that mean? Why am I troubled by this?

True enough, the world is a noisy, obnoxious place. I am guilty myself of zoning out; muting the cacophony that grumbles for my attention day after day, endlessly, mercilessly, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. I do it to maintain my sanity. Does god worry about maintaining sanity? I wouldn’t blame her if she did.

Just what is it that I expect from a god, a deity or a higher power? Does god exist to make my life heaven on earth, or more specifically…

…to help me pass the exam I didn’t study for?

…to land me that promotion or raise or fortune that I didn’t work for?

…to move the traffic along; to give me green lights all the way to work because I indulged my own laziness by hitting the snooze button once too often?

…to heal me or my loved ones; even thwart death, making us all immortal in a world where everything dies?

…to win the argument or war that I have stirred up in god’s name…when it is really my own selfishness, greed or self righteousness that needs defending; that needs to win?

…to make this person or that love me, appreciate me, see me?

…to fix my furnace, car, toaster or unclog my toilet?

…to fix the mess I’ve created for myself and others through my own actions?

…to make everyone just like me, and if they refuse to get in line, to make them go away…forever?

…add your own “please god” here…this is by no means an exhaustive litany…

We let ourselves off the hook too easily by repeating “god is in control” when the shit we’ve hurled at the fan comes back to slam us in the face. -kat 2017

We’d really like to be able to “let go and let god” and “surrender all” but those “come to Jesus” moments usually hit us when we are in the thick of chaos of our own making. It’s the ultimate “get out of jail free card”, absolution and immunity from accountability. An “in control” god gives us reason to praise and celebrate when the going is good, while taking personal credit for our own good judgement for having had the faith to believe. And when things go bad? We cry out, stomp our entitled feet and gnash our teeth toward god who we believe has “forsaken us”; who has stopped listening.

It’s complicated. What do I really expect from god? In all my wailing and pleading and groveling I think I’ve missed the point. And the point is not whether or not god is listening. 

The point is, am I?

Shi Sai Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 19 February 2017

the dreary gloaming makes me weary
God is not there to listen
a stubborn squatter with a frosty bite
“Tomorrow,” he sighed
I don’t need chocolate or flowers
bits of bread and stale saltines
sight is relative
the deafening silence had an unintentional consequences
I just don’t want to be left behind
it has no value
frail shells of starved flesh
the sea is calling
a speaker’s nightmare
what’s most important to survive
nature secretly longs
bread, day old, crumbs to sustain
what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall

~kat – 18 February 2017


Shi Sai Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 12 February 2017


Well, it’s Sunday again and I’m happy to say as I write this, and if you’re reading this, we’re all still here. I have to admit, it’s been touch and go for a few weeks. Still, the sun and moon have kept to their schedule. We even saw a comet pass by with little fanfare or disruption to our day to day. In fact you might be tempted to think that it was a normal week, or at least as normal as anyone can expect…except…

There were a few collateral casualties this week, depending on your point of view, on a whole host of battle fronts…education, speech, equality, ethics, justice, retail profit and loss, immigration, environment, freedom, separation of powers, diplomacy, and healthcare. And as a final exclamation point to wrap up the week, North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan (no it wasn’t the aforementioned comet…that happened too) while Japan’s Prime Minister golfed with the president at his Florida resort residence.

But many people probably missed all of this because…well because the sun and moon kept to their schedules this week. And that’s okay. Following current events is a daunting task after all and not for the faint of heart. Fortunately there are those of us who persist, nevertheless.

So, no worries. I hear the sun is scheduled to rise again tomorrow morning. Those of us who concern ourselves with the details, with the minutiae of the day, who are not afraid of the dark, who persist…and who resist will keep the light on for you. Have a great week!

Shi Sai Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 12 February 2017

So, this is an “alt-clerihew”
but that was not his mortal sin
their family grows
separated, what a pity
but here’s the thing
your days were numbered
denying reality
Liberty’s a bearded fellow
return home to the freedom of the sea
Love is everything
just as I believed…
Drum roll paleeaaze
those who curse the rain
beguiling, mesmerizing, looming
unless they’re a duck
spinning alternative facts
ferocious and wild
easily flustered, weak and unruly
keep us in suspense too long
not that I notice such things.

kat

A shi sai or ReVerse poem is a summary poem with a single line lifted from each entry of a collection of work over a particular timeframe and re-penned in chronological order as a new poem. Unlike a collaborative poem, the shi sai features the words of one writer, providing a glimpse into their thoughts over specified period of time. I use it as a review of the previous week. 😊


Whiffler – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

whiffler.png

Happy Friday! Today’s Dictionary.com Word of the Day is “Whiffler”. The pop up meme for today’s word defines whiffler as “a person who frequently shifts opinions, attitudes, interests, etc. You know, your basis politician!

But as is the case with most words, there is more to the story. Oh yeah, there definitely is. A quick survey of other dictionaries revealed a few more facets to this fun to say word.

Whiffler Definitions
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary

  1. Whiffler An officer who went before procession to clear the way by blowing a horn, or otherwise; hence, any person who marched at the head of a procession; a harbinger.”Which like a mighty whiffler ‘fore the king,
    Seems to prepare his way.”
  2. Whiffler One who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper.
  3. Whiffler One who whiffles, or frequently changes his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; hence, a trifler.”Every whiffler in a laced coat who frequents the chocolate house shall talk of the constitution.”
  4. Whiffler(Zoöl) The golden-eye.

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  1. n-whiffler A piper or fifer.
  2. n-whiffler A herald or usher; a person who leads the way, or prepares the way, for another: probably so called because the pipers (see piper,1) usually led the procession.
  3. n-whiffler One who whiffles; one who changes frequently his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; a fickle or unsteady person.
  4. n-whiffler A puffer of tobacco; a whiffer.
  5. n-whiffler The whistlewing, or goldeneye duck.

I discovered that there are two different references relating to the origin of the word, depending on the definition applied. First, around 1530-40, a whiffler was defined as an armed attendant who cleared the way for a procession derived from the Old English wifle or wifel for spear or  battle-ax. Later, between 1600 – 1610 the moniker ‘Whiffler’ was applied to a person who frequently shifts opinions, vacillates or is evasive in an argument. Somewhere in the time between these two definitions, some suggest because whifflers who wielded flags or spears stirred up “whiffles of wind”, whiffle came to be defined  as  wind that blows in puffs or slight gusts, or veered or shifted about. This may explain how the definition morphed from armed attendant to bloviating bag of wind (aka one who is shifty or evasive, or a trifler), but there is more to the story of this word. It is also used synonymously with the word piper, as in one who plays a fife. Still more wind references.

I also happened upon the recollection of 20th century Thomas Ratcliffe, a contributor to Notes and Queries who wrote about the “art of the Whiffle-Waffler”. It was apparently a common art, or sport as I would call it, where boys and men would twirl sticks with their hands, around their bodies and heads, behind their backs, under their thighs and high up in the air, catching them with great precision. Uh…sounds a bit like baton twirling to me. 🙂 Apparently it was a classy “thing” back in the day and an art practiced exclusively by men. At any rate, the “art” of whiffle-waffling apparently died out in the mid 19th century. There is a sad story penned by George Borrow in his work The Romany Rye in 1857 that states, “The last of the whifflers hanged himself about a fortnight ago … from pure grief that there was no further demand for the exhibition of his art, there being no demand for whiffling since the discontinuance of Guildhall banquets.” 

The article I read on the topic also encouraged one to imagine the drum major or field commander of a marching band who leads with a baton or military mace. While not directly related, the author suggested that we can imagine the two side by side, an armed attendant leading a royal entourage and a baton wielding band leader leading a drum corps.

So there you have it. Whiffler and its many iterations and applications over the years…except for just one teeny, tiny, little thing. There’s more.

Whiffler can also be another name for the Goldeneye long-tailed duck or Whistlewing, so called because of the whistling sound that it makes when it flies. Ok…related to the wind…that fits. But what does a duck have to do with the original Dictionary.com definition? Except maybe to say… “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck.”

I better just get to my haiku’s (I have two of them for you today)…and wish you a happy weekend!

Whifflers

A shifty whiffler
spinning alternative facts
loves gullible fools

Some whifflers whiffle
while some others may waffle
unless they’re a duck

kat – 10 February 2017


Frank – A Quatern

digifrank

I promise an original photograph of the scene that inspired this poem when I have the misfortune, on my morning commute, to be stopped by a particular traffic light gone rouge. In the meantime, I have staged a digital re-enactment.

Each day I  wave at a happy, bearded, black man dressed in a statue of liberty suit
advertising 50% off the cost of services for a local tax prep establishment. And each day as I wave, I am struck by the absurdity of the image. Three days on, the words pinging in my brain cannot be contained a breath longer. Eye-witness photograph or not, I give you my thoughts in Quatern form

Frank

Liberty’s a bearded fellow
hawking curbside business options.
Dark-skinned, donned in green patina,
smiling, waving at passers-by.

The sight exudes absurdity.
Liberty’s a bearded fellow,
a tool for greedy plutocrats’,
alternative reality.

Wand’ring from that golden gateway
to take your two cents to the bank,
Liberty’s a bearded fellow,
a doddered cross-dresser named Frank.

It’s a wee bit disconcerting,
Colossus taking to the streets,
saving drudge from tax collectors,
Liberty’s a bearded fellow.

Kat – 8 February 2017
(a Quatern)


Shi Sai Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 4 February 2017


Happy Sunday! We have made it to the end of another crazy week! When I can pry myself away from the daily news, breathe and give the moment it’s due, I am swept up in hopeful anticipation of spring.

Though the ground hog had his say this week, warning us of Winter’s unwelcome extended visit, I also found myself swimming in a sea of beer (figuratively speaking) as I marked St. Brigid’s feast day and the sure coming of Spring celebrating the rich history of our brothers and sisters of color, and even had the presence of mind to notice a sunset or two. It was a good week.

Silly humans. meanwhile, busied themselves unraveling and dismantling the past 8 years, banning innocents and building walls. It’s a bit upside down for such mayhem and destruction to sweep the landscape in the Spring! We’re obviously not paying attention to our “Mother”.

But like all good mothers She will set things right, swooping in as frigid winter wanes, to light a spark under our feet, one budding bloom at a time.

Be patient my dears and most of all, be kind. ❤

Shi Sai Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 4 February 2017

my breath lingers
it had been years
pleasing want not need
somee have said that we should get along.
my consolation for working late,
despite the lingering darkness of the night,
I sprout magnificent wings
Spring plans a coup!
a brilliant sea of colors and voices

fear makes us do crazy things.
is life eternal?
happiness is everything…
do you think?
you know she’s not pleased!

~kat


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