Category Archives: Poetry and Poets

Sickbed ennui in the land of banana leaf hope

  1. Another twitter storify:
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    i wish i had more energy to do more with my life.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 15:58:43
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    this constant fatigue provides little strength fortasks i feel give meaning, purpose and healing to this broken crying world.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 15:58:48
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    strong winds blow in the southland of the angels. making stop motion blur on silver film.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 15:59:56
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    i want the wind to carry me, lift me up, take me somewhere else away.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:00:26
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    away from this sick bed ennui. the tedium of cellular efforts. the hard work of waiting waiting waiting for strength.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:00:51
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    i want to fly on a banana leaf, to some other place, where sick gurl dreams become something more than fear and loss.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:01:25
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    there is so much to do to heal this wounded crying world. i have so much shuffled away in other world plans.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:02:13
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    plans, wishes dreams, stored in boxes, cabinets, bell jars and the corridors of my mind.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:02:48
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    i wander empty spaces of time. days that are marked only by disappearing cups of tea
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:03:24
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    and the march of the shadows of banana leaves on neighbor’s walls as this corner of earth spins to and from rays of our local star.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:04:14
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    hope is dangerous territory. my most feared neighborhood,
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:05:00
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    where ideas are washed away faster than the fleeting work of stealth artists on alley walls.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:05:05
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    i am writing again, without fear or hope of publication. wordpress and storify are my hogarth press. i have a room of my own.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:07:11
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    the world moves around me. i am more like the sun than earth. it only looks like time revolves around me, from my perch overlooking hills
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:09:02
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    i feel like it all spins without me, in this box in the center of the storm. waiting waiting waiting. unlike the sun i am nothing immobile
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:11:02
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    lists to do scatter like dust, pollen and bird feathers from broken winds. i want my banana leaf wings.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:15:44
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    i want this wind to take me somewhere where my dreams can fly.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 16:15:51
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    but tomorrow the walls will still be peach against a purple trim. banana leaves will flutter against the green garden walls
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:17:51
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    and i will still be plastered to flannel sheets. wind provides the illusion that change is sweeping thru,
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:18:39
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    that stagnant air makes way for new possibilities. that opportunity is there to be grasped.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:20:10
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    that i could fly away on a banana leaf and not look back.
    Sun, Apr 01 2012 23:20:15

Dreaming of a hot breakfast

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    still not out of bed after several days of total bed rest. hoping to do something productive today.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:20:37
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    dreaming of a hot breakfast– bagel creamcheese, w egg, maybe. and bitter green jasmine tea, but i can’t get to the kitchen.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:21:13
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    i’ll make breakfast when the hunger exceeds my fatigue. until then i’ll wait in bed hungry. this is amerikkkan health care.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:21:43
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    and i have health care coverage. it’s even what they call cadillac care. but it doesn’t cover in home support when i can’t get up.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:22:15
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    my health care doesn’t cover much of what helps me manage my illness. it pays for lots of tests test test. but no actual care.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:22:47
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    i need regular massage, chiropractic, reiki or acupuncture, but none of that is covered. what’s covered? medication– which helps some.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:23:26
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    what else is covered– tests and more tests. dr.s appts. treatments that don’t help. treatments for other conditions some other people have
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:24:35
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    therapy is covered, because if i talk abt it enough the illness will go away and i’ll fly to the kitchen on my self actualized wings.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:24:56
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    @emma_rosenthal and that just made me laugh so hard I peed a little. Omg
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:36:53
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    .@AureliaCotta they tell me i keep my sense of humor thru the worst trials. i try. i’ll be performing here all week!
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:39:51
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    not that therapy doesn’t help. but how much good can come from talking about something that can’t be changed?
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:25:48
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    getting hungrier. the sun is out. i saw it hitting the banana leaves. but no shadows yet, it has to pass over the house to the back yard.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:26:33
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    i’m so hungry. trying to get up. really trying. this is so fucking frustrating.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:42:39
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    tho now,just getting out of bed & to the kitchen is overwhelming. i just can’t command my body to do what it needs to do to make that happen
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:46:10
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    of course,once i get to the kitchen i’ll have to remember how to toast a bagel and make tea. sometimes i can’t think things that complicated
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:43:13
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    and if something is out of place, one aspect of the routine that takes additional thought, i’m lost. this is fibromyalgia brain fog
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:43:47
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    like if there isn’t a clean tea pot. then i go nuts. the idea of having to clean the tea pot, that can be too much sometimes.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:44:25
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    i do however have the capacity to get a tweet from -40 characters down to 120. ha ha ha . go figure.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:46:54
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    i’m hungry. i’m very very hungry.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:47:20
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    anyone who says “we don’t realize how easy we have it in amerika” doesn’t have a clue abt what most ppl in amerika deal with.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:47:50
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    .@Farese9190 @TodayHIRING no fucking way! i tweet abt how sick i am and i get spam telling me to get a fucking job?? see– amerikkka!!!!
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:49:04
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    .@Farese9190 @TodayHIRING i would get a job if i could. right now i can’t fucking get out of bed.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:49:37
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    got damn fucking spam bot, thinks this is an appropriate rsponse to chronic illness! typical @Farese9190 @TodayHIRING
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:50:06
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    i really hate this level of helplessness. all i want is a fucking bagel and some hot tea.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 12:53:03
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    okay, i got breakfast. hope i didn’ t leave the stove on. ugh. back in bed, with a tray of wonderfulness.
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 13:14:43
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    i just fell. i was in bed and i fell. no i didn’t fall OUT of bed i fell in bed. how does someone fall in bed?
    Mon, Mar 26 2012 13:25:58
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    okay, i’ve been sitting up long enough. this has been a lot of work. can’t type lying down. so, i’ll be back later. time to rest.

Announcing the Upcoming Book Release: Shifting Sands

Jewish-American Women Speak Out Against the Occupation

Whole World Press

Spring 2010

Edited by Osie Gabriel Adelfang

with an introduction by Cindy Sheehan and a forward by Amira Hass

Including contributions from:

Anna Baltzar

Maia Ettinger

Susan Greene

Linda Dittmar

Osie Gabriel Adelfang

Hannah Mermelstein

Tomi Laine Clark


Alice Rothchild

Jen Marlowe

Hedy Epstein

Kim Goldberg

Sandra Butler

Emma Rosenthal

On facebook:

On the web:

“I applaud Osie Gabriel Adelfang and all those who contributed essays to Shifting Sands. Jews, and in particular Jewish women, are the natural force to be in the forefront of the efforts to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, lives and future. From the opening pages about a Jewish prayer on doubt, through each and every one of the personal accounts, readers feel the wisdom of women on every page, as well as a deep sense of love for humanity—all humanity.Shifting Sands meticulously weaves the daily trials and tribulations of a military occupation with stories of real people who are dispossessed and subjected to daily doses of ethnic cleansing by a state drunk on power. Bottom line: the sands are truly shifting and this occupation is coming tumbling down, like all the other that came before it. When all is said and done, the women in this book—side by side with Palestinian women from Gaza, Jerusalem and Nablus—will form the foundation of a new Palestine and Israel that will flourish as one.”


Sam Bahour, Co-Editor of Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians, and Palestinian-American businessman in El-Bireh, occupied Palestine
August 17, 2009

“This is a moving collection of readings by Jewish women writers who are committed to the quest for justice and compassion in Palestine and Israel. They powerfully articulate, in their different ways, the axiom of our common humanity. It may have taken our whole life to reach that place (as one contributor put it), but those who are finally able to see, must stand up and advocate for sanity now, today.”

Deb Reich, translator, Abu Ghosh, Israel/Palestine

“Writing with personal modesty yet great humanity, these courageous women offer richly textured, revelatory accounts that will grip the reader’s thoughts and feelings. All the selections are finely rendered, insightful, and endowed with a determined sense of justice and compassion.”

Michael Parenti, author of Contrary Notions and God and His Demons

Platitudinal Pathos

you’re such a pretty lady

too bad you’re such a bitch, he said


good girls can go to hell

being polite to bad boys


learning to sit quietly

taking no space


I choose brazen words today

more suitable for caustic occasions


than tea cups and lace

I don’t like ladies sewing circles


eating finger sandwiches

and smoking platitudes


while l sit pulling knitting needles

from between my shoulder blades


lodged neatly by dainty manicured hands

in starched white gloves

Inglis House Poetry Contest: Disability

Greetings Poets,

This year’s annual Inglis House Poetry Contest began this on April 1. As in the past, there is no fee for entering. You can find the guidelines for the contest at They are also available in the latest issue of Wordgathering, our online journal, at Simply click on poetry contest guidelines. A contest flyer is also attached for those of you who prefer attachments. We hope to be seeing your work. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Michael Northen, Inglis House Poetry Workshop

Category 1 – Open to All
Subject: Disabilities

First Place: $50
Second Place: $30
Third Place: $20

Contest Rules – 
• Any style poetry
• Two Poem Limit
• Each poem on separate page
• Poem length – 75 lines or less
• Name, address & category on each page
• Poem must relate to disabilities

Deadline: June 1, 2009

Category 2
Open Only to Writers With Disabilities

First Place: $50
Second Place: $30
Third Place: $20

Contest Rules – 
• Any subject, any style
• Three Poem Limit
• Each poem on separate page
• Poem length – 75 lines or less
• Name, address and category on each page
• Indicate disability in cover letter

Deadline: June 1, 2008
Mail entries to:
Inglis House Poetry Contest
2600 Belmont Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Email to

Sorry. Poems cannot be returned.

Suddenly Last Summer- Part 1 Philadelphia: Home After 19 Years.

Philadelphia:  Home After 19 Years.

Our first stop was my hometown of Philadelphia,  to which I hadn’t returned since I was 19 years old.  I visited myself more than anything else; finding my way via scooter to all the places I remembers from my childhood.  It was a different trip than most.  I didn’t go to those places I might have been inclined to visit had I been a real tourist.  I went to my memories.  I visited my past.  I had been warned that it had changed, but I was more impressed with how much the same it was.  There were specific exhibits, artifacts and paintings in the Museum I needed to see, I had to return to the Italian Market, Reading Terminal and all around down town; city hall, South Street, etc.  As a teenager I had spent a lot of time downtown.  I would take the train and get off at Reading Terminal.  From there I could walk to shops, dance class  or theater.  From Reading Terminal through City Hall to the Museum, the SWP sold copies of  The Militant, and cigarette companies gave out free samples of cigarettes and cigars.  I have smoked on and off again since then; more off than on.  Especially with the fibromyalgia, I can’t tolerate the poison for long.  But, despite their arguments about personal responsibility, as their defense against law suits, my first cigarettes were a gift from the tobacco companies when I  was as young as eleven years old. 


Much of this colonial city is inaccessible, with only a few creative attempts at providing access.  (Some cities apply more ingenuity than others.)  Many shops, restaurants and historical sites are not accessible.  Getting to the Art Museum, avoiding Rocky’s steps, was very difficult.  There was no signage, and the handicapped entrance is around the back, up a long hill and through a parking lot, forcing me into the line of traffic of drivers search for or exit from parking spaces, which is very dangerous territory for people in wheelchairs. 


One day Andy and I rented a car and went out to the suburbs where I grew up.  One community I grew up in, was a planned integrated community, called Concord Park.  My parents were very involved in the Civil Rights Movement and bought their first home there.  We moved when I was five, but I remember putting streamers on bikes and having an annual bike ride every Flag Day.  I remember nursery school, I remember my three best friends, (Sandy, Delia and Alison) with who I am no longer in touch, but my mom is still close with some of their parents.  These were small track homes.  After a while the white families moved out.  Upon return, I noticed more white families, and so, the demographics change again.


The other neighborhood I grew up in is lush and looks a lot like Brentwood, but a huge home in turn key condition and manicured grounds still sells for under a million dollars, which is unheard of anywhere in Los Angeles. 


Philadelphia wasn’t without its indignities.  We had called ahead to be sure that “UTLA night”,  one of the social events associated with the NEA convention, on the ship, The Spirit of Philadelphia, would be wheelchair accessible and were assured that it would be.  When we got there and began to board, without the courtesy or discretion of preboarding, I found myself up the ramp but unable to make the transition to the ship without assistance.  In line behind us, immediately behind us were over a hundred UTLA members waiting to board. We were irate, as other activists more annoyed than concerned, made their way past us, as we tried to negotiate with a rude young man in greasy clothes who claimed to be the captain, and spoke to me like I were an insolent child, not a patron, twice his age.  He insisted his ship was accessible, despite the gap between ramps and his offers to lift me, which is not only undignified and humiliating, but unsafe and unacceptable.  With a ramp full of people, I needed to turn around and find my way back to the pier.  The “captain”  threatened me should I hit him with my wheelchair as I tried precariously to maneuver through the situation he and his company had created for me.  There is little room for interpretation.  The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) provides clear guidelines regarding accessibility.  Lifting someone is not included within that definition.  As it turns out, we were informed later,  one of the decks was also not accessible.  We demanded a refund, but were told that it was not available at that time; we would have to follow up the next business day.   (To date, we have not been compensated, either by the union, who planned a public event in a segregated location, or the restaurant/ship at which these indignities were suffered.) We left, discouraged, outraged and humiliated. Devastated, and unsupported, I was unable to leave my hotel room for two days.

While in Philadelphia, I gave a poetry reading at Inglis House,  a skilled nursing care facility for people with mobility impairments.  This institution was quite large, with a few independent living apartments as well, that allow varying degrees of care and independence. 

Inglis House has a weekly poetry group, a poetry journal and an annual  poetry contest.  I found them on the internet with a google search for “poetry” + Philadelphia + disability, and contacted them. I was invited to read and discuss my work for an hour.  It was an amazing experience, reading to a community of people with disabilities, the safety of the ghetto.  There is much controversy around large institutions like these, but for me, as a visitor,  it was a relief being around other people with marginalizing impairments, and a physical plant designed for accommodation.  The strain of trying to fit in, the balance between asserting my rights and alienating those around me, the pressure to maintain “the negative peace”  is exhausting.  It was wonderful just being a gimp among gimps and to hear from others equally angry and frustrated with lack of access, hostile indifference, daily ridicule and humiliation.  Disability means existing and attempting to negotiate within a culture that one is not be a part of, or retreating to ghettos such as skid row hotels or convalescent care facilities which resemble gulags more than neighborhoods. 
Andy and I returned to Los Angeles from Philadelphia, for a week home before heading out to Berlin where Andy and I would be active observers in the NEA delegation at World Congress of Education International, the International body of teachers’ unions, worldwide.  We wanted to strategize disability access, give a heads up to the national leadership of the problems in UTLA and how they might present themselves at this event (two members of the HRC clique;  “Camile” and “Mildred” were going to attend,)  and follow up on the refund for the Spirit of Philadelphia.




United Air Lines damaged both my scooter and my walker, and we ended up spending the rest of the week fighting with the airlines (at first they suggested I bring the equipment in for inspection, and I had to remind them that they damaged my wheelchair and walker, how was I going to bring them in?!!!)  Finally we got United to approve the purchasing of new equipment, and we worked with a local scooter dealer to get us a scooter just in time for the trip to Europe. Death of Charley, the scooter.   The new scooter, a bit larger and more powerful, acquired the name “The Beast.”  Nonetheless, travel stories, will still come under the category; “my travels with Charley.”