What’s Your Plan to Vote?

October is in full swing and now is the time to make a plan to vote. I’ll never forget the year I moved to a new city where the county election commission was riddled with technical difficulties. The problem was so widespread and detrimental to voter morale, it made national headlines. People waited hours in line, myself included. My three little kids were with me as I stood in the elementary school hallway until it was my turn.

This is what happens when you don’t make a plan.

For the 2020 election, I have a plan: I will vote in person because I love the shared experience with my neighbors. For me, this emotional boost of gathering with others who value civic duty is worth the risk of long lines. I am fortunate to live close enough to take a short walk to my precinct. And this time, I will leave the kids at home with a sitter.

But you don’t have to wait (or walk) to vote. Plan your vote today. Make sure your voice is heard. In the meantime, this poem was inspired by the year I had no plan.

Ballot

That year I stood in line

for 3 hours with 3 kids.

I lectured them 

like a televangelist

on voting rights

and American history,

how non-white, non-men

were denied the right

to participate in civil

circles, people died.

And if time in line 

was my earthly cross 

to bear for suffrage

in our amended present,

I would drag a slab of wood

until all the lights went dark,

until every door was locked.

Then I would hammer my fist 

until it dripped with blood

and poll workers let me fill

all the ovals in my ballot.

But gravitas was lost 

on them, their ears

plugged with hunger

their short legs tired

from standing for so long. 

Christmas Cow & Reading Poetry During a Pandemic

I am delighted to have three poems published in Vol. 52. of Broken Ink. Check out their website or swing by USC Aiken to snag a copy. Wednesday night, I attended Broken Ink’s release party in Aiken, South Carolina to read a few of my poems. Since the pandemic, I have basically been a hermit in my shell/home. Maybe that’s why it was heartening to be surrounded (and spread 6ft. out) by so many people who love the arts.

Reading in front of a crowd with a mask on, however, was a strange experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-mask. I am happy to wear one so we can gather in courtyards to share art safely. I just felt like I was going to swallow the cloth or worse choke on it. Plus, I don’t like the smell/taste/feel of my own breath. I also wondered what was happening beneath the masks in the crowd. Were they smiling, frowning, quietly booing? I will never know.

Below you will find audio links for two poems: Christmas Cow and A Conversation with an Opposum Nesting in a School Trash Bin which both appear in broken ink . They were both acknowledged for Washington Awards. While you’re at it, take a moment to read Allie Pizzemento’s award winning prose too. Like Christmas Cow, it is set in December (and no, we did not plan that out). If you enjoy her work, there is more good stuff on her blog. If it seems to soon to hear a poem like Christmas Cow, keep in mind, there are only 79 days until Christmas.

Christmas Cow by Danielle Ann Verwers
A Conversation With an Opossum Nesting in a School’s Trash Bin by Danielle Ann Verwers

Time is Gentle

Time feels strange right now. Some days it speeds by and other days it creeps. Most days it feels warped and unsteady with months and days rolling into one another unmarked. Before the pandemic, I felt like I had a solid handle on time and schedules. But now, virtual learning consumes most of my days. The constant glow of a screen feels hypnotic. And rituals that mark time (social gatherings and such) have fallen to the wayside for now.

Earlier this year when Ed Madden, the Poet Laurete of Columbia, SC asked for poems about time, I submitted Time is Gentle. At the time I wrote the piece I had no clue how my relationship with time would be transformed in six months as my workload increased dramatically because of the pandemic. Reading the piece now, feels comforting, like a cup of coffee with a good friend who thinks you are awesome just the way you are.

The piece appears on The Comet Bus along with work from other poets. A big thank you to One Columbia, The Comet, and all the people who made this project come to life. As an advocate for literacy, I love the idea of poems on a bus, just waiting to be read. To read more, just follow Ed Madden on facebook or instagram where he posted one poem a day from this collection during the month of September.

Time is Gentle by Danielle Ann Verwers