“One Love” Post #2: “Love Is Passion”

AYOWOLE OLADEJI

Love Is Passion

Love is passion. The sun rises above the deep blue sea. Bright and dimmer colorful skies appear like stars of love, of hearts flowing through the path of motion and commotion. Peace and warmth feel like the golden sun of the gods. Whispering and seeing words of love intensifies like diamonds.

Understanding true love, how loving someone is like magic. Love never fades, it’s full of answers, can’t be explained. The geometrics of how to love seem complicated. To the eye of the beholder, love is true power of destiny, of hearts.

As days go by, I feel worried and petrified because of the four-letter word love. Love is real, not false, but powerful to the mind, body, and soul. Visible and sometimes invisible to the hearts of aces and queens of the collective souls of deep love.

—–

Ayowole Oladeji is a WCC student who has been active in many WCC endeavors, including WCC Poetry Club.

“One Love” Post #1: “Lightnin’ Hopkins Blackout Quartet”

TOM ZIMMERMAN

Lightnin’ Hopkins Blackout Quartet

Lightnin' 1-2Lightnin' 3-4

Note: The source of this blackout (erasure) poem is the liner notes written by Sam Charters in the booklet in the Smithsonian Folkways CD Lightnin’ Hopkins.


Tom Zimmerman teaches English and directs the Writing Center at WCC. He also serves as editor of The Huron River Review and The Big Windows Review as well as faculty advisor of the WCC Poetry Club.

“Acts of Resilience” Post #20: “A Fantastic Idea or a Fatal Flop?”

MADELINE LEWIS

A Fantastic Idea or a Fatal Flop? 

It was a particularly cool, crisp autumn day. I could feel the breeze toy with my hair as I walked up to the front door. Inside the heat stung my cheeks as I hauled my overfilled backpack off my shoulders. Realizing how aggressive I slammed it down, I ripped it open to make sure all of my precious art supplies weren’t broken from the force. With a sigh of relief, I kicked off my shoes and bellowed “I’m home!” Or at least attempted in my young vocal fry. 

“In the kitchen!” My mom called back. I quickly grabbed my sketchbook from the contents of my bag to show her my masterpieces of the day. 

“Anyway, she does what now?” I walked in on my mom doing a crossword, taking a break to sweep her long brown hair into a quick updo; she was sipping coffee and chatting with my dad. 

“Who are you guys talking about? I want to know!” I demanded, being the classic, nosey, information leech most middle schoolers were. 

“My cousin, you know the one, Autumn. She’s using her U of M art degree to peddle random water color prints and spread ‘love’ through ‘free hugs’. Ridiculous. How is she earning a living wage? What a waste of potential, she should get a real job.” He scoffed before gulping down the rest of his coffee and sitting down next to my mom on the couch.

“Yeah but didn’t your other cousin who graduated from there make those cool sculptures in Detroit?” My mom chimed in, scribbling some letters into the boxes of her crossword. 

“Yeah but he’s in the same boat. Why even bother going through school if you aren’t going to make any money?” My dad answered, running a hand through his black hair in a perplexed fashion. 

As the first offspring of a lawyer and a self-made business man, I turned my nose up too.  “Yeah that sounds dumb.” I said, shoulders slumped, and slowly inching backwards toward my backpack to go slip the burden in my hands away and out of sight. That felt weird, the words foreign in my mouth. Why did he sound so disappointed?

Yet this conversation would shape the way I viewed college and careers in every way. 

I’ve always felt my most alive and confident while creating. The brush would work with a mind of its own, the pencil in my hand flying across the canvas with seemingly little abandon, but at the same time would result in a work of art. I was once proud to be an artist, my mind an olympic pool swimming with possibilities and nuanced ideas for all the projects I wanted to complete. As I grew up, my love for art began to diminish, and soon it took the backseat to my new found responsibilities that come with age: applying to college. 

I had no time to feel alive anymore. The weight on my shoulders is no longer an art supply filled backpack, but filled with textbooks and brochures. I knew this decision would point the direction of where my life would go and it was an opportunity that had no room for error. Everytime I’d think about college, I was filled with anxiety. Bubbling in my belly like a wicked witch’s brew. 

Never the risk taker, the money was on the forefront of my mind. I felt unsure and scared that my parents would talk about me in a disappointing way. Naturally, art school crossed my mind. Some friends were even pleading with me to consider it. But remembering that conversation long ago, I couldn’t let it be anymore than just a hobby. 

As applications drew closer, the more my anxiety about life grew. I had no plan, and the utter cluelessness terrified me. I couldn’t sleep without dreaming of hellish college landscapes.  I couldn’t eat without thinking it would be on someone else’s dime. 

After eavesdropping on these girls, ironically considering I barely drew anymore, in my senior year art class talking about this major called ‘fashion merchandising’. At the time, I was starting to really get into the fashion world. It’s something that I’ve been interested in for a little bit now, and it crossed my mind that my aunt ws in the same business. Perfect, I have a mentor to show me through so I won’t be aimless any longer! I raced home and after some quick google searches I told my parents. They approved, so I felt like I was finally on the right track to success. I was sure I could find a way to incorporate art into my life through this in a way that would actually produce some monetary value. A little bit of the stress was gone, but I still found myself unable to relax, and incapable to revel in what was supposed to be joy when you have found your path. Instead the anxiety soon quickly began to bloom again. 

I came to a realization that I was not ready to leave home. I knew in my heart I was not ready to leave and fight my way through this world on my own just yet. After talking with my parents I applied to Washtenaw Community College. I was nervous about what they would think, coming from generations of successful teachers, lawyers, and prestigious college alumni. Yet they still approved. 

Wanting to get my required credits out of the way to transfer as a fashion merchandising major, my counselor advised me to take an art course. The studio art was full, so I reluctantly settled for Art Appreciation.

Never having a class so long, I was not sure if I could sit and listen to a lecture for three hours. Never having a great art teacher, I viewed art history as abysmally boring and useless.

 I walked into class, slumping into my chair,  armed  with a red bull and coffee to get me through this snore fest. I’ve been to museums, I’ve listened to those ancient docents drone on and on about some boring dead dudes who’s works I’ve already seen a million times. 

As the lecture started the teacher was surprisingly jovial and young to be teaching such a course. Surely I’m in the wrong class, I kept thinking. But as it continued the more my shoulders picked up, and the less I was grabbing for my caffeine jolt. She told stories of dramas, scandals, dark histories, tales I’ve never heard before of paintings I’ve always seen. Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl earring? A mysterious peasant no one knows who she was, being painted by a guy who was notorious for taking way too long to finish his pieces. The mind of that little girl with the backpack full of supplies came ferociously back. Unsatiated by just that class, I went home to research more and more slowly, becoming obsessive. 

A week after that first class, I was hungry to create. It was a stark difference from how I felt about fashion merchandising. Fashion merchandising began to sound like a people pleasing answer. I couldn’t connect to it the way I did with art. And after some internet sleuthing, I discovered that it was all clerical, computer work. Not me at all. A pit formed in my stomach as I stumbled upon my true path, art school. 

Now it was time to brave the talk with my parents. I was prepared to stick up for myself because in my heart of hearts, I knew I would make art school and a career in the arts work for me. I had to, I had to chase that feeling of being truly and irrevocably alive for the rest of my life no matter what. No matter the consequences, if there was a time to take a risk, it would be now. 

After sitting down and pouring my heart out to them, expecting to be chewed out and reprimanded for such a hopeless dream, they were all for it! My dad even confessed that he thought it was a much better idea than fashion because he knew how talented I was and knew that behind a computer screen was not right for me. 

“But what about your cousins and what you said?” I asked, still unsure how to approach this open armed acceptance. Although, I could feel the anxious grasp around my heart loosen. 

“I spoke too soon. Autumn devoted herself to making others and herself better people and spreading care and love, which is more honorable than most of us can say about ourselves. And Carl is insanely successful, even selling a Banksy for around $100,000. You just need to go in with an open mind and a plan to be prepared to fight for whatever you want.” He answered. “I was wrong before.” 

Hearing him say Banksy, a very famously mysterious artist, I did a double take. I was astonished, and not just at my cousin’s success, but at my parents’ pure and unwavering acceptance. But what did I expect? Throughout my life, they have shown time and time again that they would be there for me through whatever path I chose. I finally have found my true calling and my heart burst with excitement for the future. The first time in my whole life I could let myself think about the future and feel true, pure joy. 

With help from parents, I have decided that I will be aiming for the U of M art school program, the very same that my dad turned his nose up to. Through all of my trials and misdirections to get here, I can now say I am proud to be an artist, and I will never hide my sketchbook again, like all those years ago. 


“Acts of Resilience” Post #19: “Trophies”

DIANE M. LABODA

Trophies

Enter the house of a friend.
Look around for signs of life,
trophies of action—

labeled plastic, non-tamper bottles of drugs,
lifelines to sane, pain-free living

props of every kind—
cane, one for each hand
walker with basket for necessities
shower chair
hand rails
lift chairs, potty chairs
wheelchairs
gummy whips

bed rails
Chux
rubber sheets
melatonin
Prozac

Medical machinery—
nebulizer
humidifier
oxygen concentrator
miles of rubber tubing
noose

blender, bleeder
pulverizer
steamer
whisk and straws
laxatives
bandages
Thera bands, crutches, ramps
razor wire

frayed socks in the corner
bloody towel on the counter
scars and sutures
covered mirror
silent loss

alarms
timers, buzzers, beepers
walk-in tub, walk-out shower
tight belts
cloth restraints, Posey vest
fat knobs and handles
life alerts and lockboxes
a rifle

locked hallway door
locked appliances
locked cupboards
locked medication trolley
locked heart
guilt and shame

Enter the house of a friend.
Look for signs of life,
trophies of action—
vestiges of love.


“Acts of Resilience” Post #18: “Solstice Soup”

DANIEL LONG

Solstice Soup           

The planet has reached its maximum tilt
With Sun low in the southern sky.
Nat Cole revolves on the turntable
I remove the chopping board
As home fills with the scent of pie.

I don’t enjoy the baking as much
Exactness leads to anxiety.
I prefer soup.

Vegetables washed and peeled
Knife’s edge bites; first onion then parsnip.
Garlic and shallots crushed and minced means
More flavor is unsealed.

Butter sizzles in a hand-me-down
Dutch oven, the cast iron seasoned perfectly.
Vegetables crackle under fat and heat
They soften and slowly brown.

Small particles dance in lingering rays
Slowly receding across my floor.
Evening’s begun.

As stock and cream are gently poured,
Then cabbage, potato, and finally meat.
I’ve found the rhythm as oven timer chimes.
My love, at last home, comes through the door.

“You and your soup!” she says
A smile wry, with half-hidden pride.
The unspoken joy of “who is this treasured find?”

Hearty portions ladled out
Steam rising in offering to God.
Rich butter spread across thick, warm brown bread
Frothy head on Irish stout.

Conversation filled with loving mirth,
Warmth of laughter, beer, and stew.
In this healing time, needed each year,
Our spirits and the world unite in rebirth.


“Acts of Resilience’ Post #17: “Elements”

DANIEL LONG

Elements

Molecules of water harbored inside
Drawn to shores like moon-pulled tides.
Long-bridled waves strain to be freed
Returned at long last to crashing sea.

Iron coursing through veins like hares
Will turn to rust once it breathes air
And crumble like sand through fingers balled tight
All while yearning to be smelted by wrights. 

Carbon that binds like asphalt to tar
Gazes through eons and dreams of the stars.
From cosmic disorder this being was forged
By the hands of They from whom all is born.

Thus honor is due to all that resides
On our Mother, the Earth, ’til the last subsides. 


“Acts of Resilience” Post #16: “As We Do”

KD Williams

As We Do

_____Sometimes, a minor inconvenience can break you. The straw that breaks the camel’s back, the final straw, the end of your rope. At the end of the first day at my new house, I flipped the lightswitch and nothing happened, but another switch flipped in me. I couldn’t speak. My heart felt like it was both outside my chest and buried too deeply inside my chest. My body was too cold while my face was too hot. I have had panic attacks my entire life, but this was different. I said it out loud, “I think this just broke my brain.” It was the last in a series of unfortunate events over the past 24 hours. The day before, while moving everything from my grandma’s house, we could not locate one of my cats. He has usual hiding places, and we checked all of those.
_____I didn’t start to panic until I had personally searched every square inch of the house, exerting myself so much from crouching under furniture and crawling around the corners of closets that I could barely move. There was no way he was still in the house, but everyone assured me that there was no way he could’ve gotten out either. He was Schrodinger’s cat then. I was upset at my body for not being able to move, unable to keep looking. I rested and cried and said to myself “We were all supposed to be together at the new house by now.” Shortly thereafter, my aunt found him hiding behind a picture frame that created a sort of false wall at the back of a closet in my grandma’s bedroom. I was so relieved. We all slept well in the new house the first night.
_____That morning, I desperately needed a shower for my aching muscles after moving the day before. The water wouldn’t heat up, which was distressing to an unusual degree. The pilot light was out, but I started spiraling, unable to be reasonable. How often would it go out? It took so long for the water to heat up after we relit it. Would this be a common occurrence? The walls were closing in on me. Then, at the worst time, that light didn’t spark. The breakers were flipped. Nothing. Let there be light! But there was only darkness. And I felt something break inside me. This house is not a present. It’s not a gift. It’s a prison. I wanted an ax then. It was my prison to destroy. I wanted to break all the useless bulbs in the bathroom. And who could be mad at me? Who could blame me really? For taking an ax to the walls that were so keen on closing me in, on killing me. I stood in the kitchen clutching my chest and told my partner in a faraway voice, “I knew this would be hard but I’m not reacting in the usual bad way. This is different and scary and I don’t know what I need.” He said, “Well, you need dinner. That’s a start.”
______And then we did what we always do together. We bounced back. We arranged the cheeses and meats and veggies and fruits I had bought early on a charcuterie board that was a present from our realtor and somehow, I was smiling and laughing and reading the French cheese labels in an Italian accent. It made me think for a minute that everything might turn out all right.


“Acts of Resilience” Post #15: “Tunde Music”

BEN VANDERHYDE

Tunde Music

He strolled toward the house, harmonious with the dirt under his feet. Steel blue jeans and a western shirt hung coolly on his slim frame. Under his arm rolls of cloth sagged. His head rocked with whatever tune his Walkman played him. You see, he had no car – vibrations were his transportation. 

Tunde Music knocked on my door for the first time on that spring morning in ’82. My buddies and I were busy preparing for class but invited him in. It was impolite to reject a visitor. The savvy Nigerian easily made himself comfortable in a canvas chair in our sitting room. Tunde slid a pack of Marlboros out of his breast pocket, knocked a spliff out of the pack and was returning the case when he paused. “Oh, does anyone want one?” he asked. I declined kindly but his next offer made it seem like I’d taken the first. 

Tunde unrolled the fabrics and his colors and characters almost came to life – bright like the glint off a wave, and vibrant as the jungle. Tunde’s art amazed me. He thanked his mother for this magic. She taught him the forest, its roots and how to make the deepest dyes from them. Partway through his tale of his paintings’ characters, something else caught my attention. The hanging flowerpot beside Tunde was swaying. I felt no wind. Not a leaf waved but those next to Tunde. I figured he must’ve knocked it, so the strange thought passed. We talked and I bought a couple pieces before he left. 

About a month later, Tunde knocked again. Last month’s scene replayed: Walkman, knock-knock, Marlboro, living-room conversation. Tunde planted himself in the same chair and grinned with the same radiance. Again, my eyes were pulled from his art to the pot gently swinging back and forth. How…. Why did it move? Right then I made a mental note for Tunde’s next visit. 

Another month came and went.  Just like the rains in June, he returned. But that day, his lively illustrations of Nigerian folklore weren’t the magic that intrigued me. When we walked from the door to the living-room, my eyes shifted from him to the pot. Sure enough, Tunde sat, the pot swung. Stumped, I stopped him mid-sentence, “Tunde, y’know…. Every time you come here, you sit in the same chair, and that plant…. That plant always starts to sway.” He looked at me matter-of-factly, nodded a bit, then looked at the plant and nodded a bit more. His mystic grin appeared. “Ah…. The plant is happy to see me and the roots are dancing.”

We chuckled and never spoke of it again.

The years passed and I’d see Tunde periodically, but our meetings never were the same. The coup and failing economy drove away foreigners: Tunde’s market. He thinned with each time I saw him. His fresh snappy clothes decayed. His colors grew dull. Eventually he was reduced to black and white. More time passed and I left Nigeria, occasionally returning in search of art. One such trip, my cab got stuck in a hazy Lagos traffic jam. Staring out over the valley, I looked at the hawkers lining the road: beggars, vendors, survivors. Through the sea of burlap shawls and dirty windshields, I barely noticed a pleading figure stop and turn my direction. Despite the hundreds of yards between us, my gut told me he was set on my cab. Unwavering, the man strode past lanes of cars flanking him. Tunde Music knocked on my door, smiling.

“Bill, I knew it was you! I knew you were in this car! I knew it!” He spoke with a stability his image betrayed. He didn’t beg, but I gave him all I could spare. Even in rags, Tunde was a harmonious man. Somehow –miles and years from our last meeting– he knew I was there. He found me again. The world against him, Tunde was still one with the earth. A mystic soul surviving by ways unbeknownst to the rest of us.



“Acts of Resilience” Post #14: Excerpt from “Detroit 2099”

BEN VANDERHYDE

Excerpt from “Detroit 2099”

“DIRECTIVE – DIRECTIVE – DIRECTIVE. ” the words sprinted across the thin screen on my arm, lighting up my profile.

“INTERRUPTION AT D35-VII – QUELL – REPORT BACK.” The message looped, but I didn’t need to read it to know its command.

“Hey, you! Shut that shit off!”

The goon behind me noticed the green pulse and started to close in. I would’ve  preferred to surprise them, but that wasn’t an option anymore. The gangster inhaled deeply, expanded his chest and shoulders, and clutched his rifle. He reached for my arm, but I was ready. Faster than he could react, I flung my left hand down onto his rifle’s grip and pulled. His unwilling fingers fired twice. One bullet tore through his left elbow and another sparked on the lights. Grey turned black. A strobe of hot orange gunfire ripped through the darkness. I ducked and rolled, leaving my first assailant in a rain of friendly fire. Muzzle flashes led my iron sights to their target.

Vrrr-CLACK!” My magnetic pistol cracked and the smell of burnt lithium filled the room. A short thud followed the shot. Two down. I stood up just as the hatch opened and illuminated the bar. The silhouette of the final threat stood steady with Blanchet in a chokehold and a pistol jammed in his ear. Weapon still drawn, I stared him down.

“Drop it,” he ordered.

I wanted to take the shot – just to get it over with. My finger twitched with anticipation but it wasn’t worth the risk. 

My pistol fell, but my eyes kept contact. His gaze shifted to my blinking forearm. An expression of greed and desperation flashed underneath all the scars.

“Take it off,” he pushed the barrel harder against Blanchet’s skull.

“That’s not happening.”

 “ ’Kay then I’ma have to take this off,” he glanced at blanchet’s head and tightened his grip. “I’m sure he won’t miss it as much as you will that arm. . ..”

His pistol whirred in preparation but I didn’t move. In that moment, the earth seemed to slow its rotation as the bar was the stillest it had ever been. 

“Alright. . . .” I detached my forearm and set it on the bar. “Happy now?”

His trigger finger relaxed and grip loosened – Blanchet took his chance. He swung his head hard at the Kicker’s nose, shattering it. The force sent them both into the metal doorframe. Blanchet straightened up and stepped away to massage his skull. The gangster crumpled behind him. 

“Y’damn near got me killed,” Blanchet yelled over the sound of patrons scuffling out, “killed my fuckin’ buissness s’what you killed!”

“Yeah, I’m real sure you would’ve been fine without my help. Speaking of” – I nodded to the motionless gangsters – “looks like you don’t need it anymore.” I reattached my arm and turned to exit.

“No way kid, you dump them bodies out back first.”

“That’s not my job.”

“Nah, nah, see, it is. It’s just like how you saved your own skin here. S’long as that arm’s blinking – it’s your job” He lifted the alert pad and rubbed the yellow button like a lucky coin.

“No choice, huh?”

“No choice, man.”


 



“Acts of Resilience” Post #13: “Beyond Our Resilience”

AYOWOLE OLADEJI

Beyond Our Resilience

beyond our resilience   looking through the far east of depression 
counting the days   universe of power resilience   beyond our spirit of passion’s love 
knowing how we are all full of resilience   mighty power beyond our years of fantasy.
 
suddenly the sun shines like golden doves of finding your destiny 
flowing like a river of doom and destruction   but resilience beyond our imagination 
resilience beyond the destiny of passion’s desire to seek. 
 
day sets   light fades   darker in the sky   shadows oversee the blue
seek the evolution of resilience beyond our passion
of destiny and fulfillment of empowerment   of love 
and love beyond resilience looms and blooms across the blizzard sky.
 
 
 

Ayowole Oladeji is a WCC student who has been active in many WCC endeavors, including WCC Poetry Club.