I promised!

I said a few weeks ago that i would publish here my first accepted poem, “Lizard Skin,” that appeared in the September issue of Chantwood magazine. Please accept it for what it is, an early example of the kind of poetry I write.  Here it is:

 

Lizard Skin

You are a dragon, a winged lizard,

with breath that stinks and scales

that clank like metal in a sink.

Your hoary face is as wrinkled

as a crumpled black garbage bag.

 

It isn’t magic dust that saves me

but fortitude and choler

that smolders but does not die.

I don’t let it burn me.

I’ve learned that much.

 

You wiggled into places

you did not belong,

hairy and handsome,

now all lost in age and reptile skin.

I am free and alone.

 

It should be single spaced, but I haven’t figured out how to do that and get the line breaks right. No comments necessary, folks. I just said I’d publish it and here it is!

Poetry news

Well, Ive had two poems published recently which means that someone other than the folks at my writing workshop has actually approved of what I’ve written. For me, this is a big deal, because these journals didn’t know me, and they still took a chance on what I wrote. The first appeared in the September issue of Chantwood, a general literary journal that does not publish online. Therefore, if you want to read it, I will publish it again here in a short while. It’s called “Lizard Skin,” and was one of the first poems I wrote once I took up this pastime.

The second poem has just appeared in the last week, and it is called “New Day.” If you would like to read it, you can find it here. It has been published by the group at the University of Maine at Farmington that prints an annual version, The Sandy River Review, and publishes an ongoing stream of literary endeavors in The River. It is in the latter that my work appears. Items are chosen from The River to be published in the print version, but I will have to wait to hear if I’ve made that more select group!

I wrote this poem at a writing retreat put on by my workshop (free!) in October. This was the most marvelous writing experience I’ve had in my life. It was run by the eminent poet Baron Wormser, and if you haven’t read his work, I commend it to you strongly. I’ve been reading one of his newer books, Unidentified Sighing Objects, and I can’t say enough good things about it. His writing instruction spoke to me as I have never felt before and I owe everything in this poem to his tutelage. This is one of the joys in belonging to a writers workshop (also free) that supports writers so excellently.

I am now in the publishing rat race, as I like to call it. I submit poems to journals that I discover through Duotrope, a wonderful service that lists over 6,000 journals with links to their websites and statistics regarding their publication practices. As the most disorganized person on the face of the earth (you should see my desk–I haven’t, for many weeks), it is nice to have a reputable third party to keep track of my scribblings and where I’ve sent them. The cost is $5 a month, much less than a house cleaning, and well worth the peace of mind it gives me. I have poems that are waiting review at some journals that I haven’t even looked at in six months, as newer poems get sent out to new journals. It’s a form of timeline of my writing, something it never occurred to me I might like.

I hope to be able to report further forays into the world of published writers in the future, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Please remember that for me, hope springs eternal, and I will keep at it, at least a little longer.

Carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore?

If you watch any of the many You Tube channels devoted to vegetarianism and veganism, you will note in the comments the numerous people arguing, among other things, that it was the eating of meat that caused the explosion in our brain size, that meat offers us nutrients that aren’t available from the plant kingdom, and that our history and biology show that we are omnivores. I would like to address these points and suggest that we are natural herbivores and opportunistic eaters of meat.

Current anthropologists, including Richard Leakey, the famous explorer in the Rift Valley in Africa and Nathaniel Dominy, PhD, a biological anthropologist at Dartmouth, assert that humans evolved as herbivores. Dominy goes so far as to say that it is the ability to consume starch, and the evolution of Amy1 (amylase), an enzyme that allows us to digest starches that other animals do not have, that establish that the incredible brain growth that led to our current form was based on the eating and digesting of cooked starches.  Whether this is yet the mainstream, I am in no position to judge. However, on the scale of experts, I’m not sure there’s anyone higher than a Leakey.

The next argument, that meat offers nutrients that cannot be found in the plant kingdom, is a strange one.  Virtually all of the animals produced for meat consumption are by nature herbivores. They obviously get everything they need (as do elephants, rhinos and giraffes, among others) from plants. Ask one of the meat proponents to explain what animals have that plants don’t have is an exercise in near futility. When pushed, they usually fall back on the B12 fallacy. They claim that meat is the only way for humans to get B12, without recognizing that for hundred of thousands of years, humankind and its ancestors in fact survived very well without whatever B12 is found in meat.

B12 is a vitamin produced by microbes in dirt. It is not produced by animals or the elements of the plant kingdom that we utilize for food. Every source of B12 is from that dirty beginning. B12 deficiency wasn’t a problem in the past because we didn’t wash our vegetables as well as we do now. In fact we didn’t wash anything as well as we do now, meaning that we were getting our B12 from the dirt we were always exposed to. This is why chimps and gorillas don’t have a B12 problem.

The meat industry knows that B12 is no longer found in the beef cattle raised in feedlots and on mashes made of GMO soybeans and corn. As a result, the big feedlots and slaughterhouses have a process whereby they inject B12 into the cows before they are killed. It’s big business. And it’s part of their marketing effort to establish that meat is good for something.

Meat is bad for us. We are not meant to eat meat. Regular meat-eaters have a different microbiome than non-meat-eaters. (For a quick study of the microbiome science, see here.) This is because you need different bacteria to digest the meat. People who never eat meat don’t need these bacteria, and they are shoved out by the bacteria that feed on plant based diets. What’s wrong with the biome for meat eating? It creates substances that are toxic to the human body. One of the most important is TMAO (trimethylene N-oxide), one of the best markers for premature death due to artery or heart disease. TMAO is not created in someone who does not eat meat

As the Cleveland Clinic HeartLab reported last year, “The trouble with TMAO is that data show high levels contribute to a heightened risk for clot-related events such as heart attack and stroke—even after researchers take into account the presence of conventional risk factors and markers of inflammation that might skew the results. In their most recent analysis, scientists showed that high blood levels of TMAO were associated with higher rates of premature death in a group of 2235 patients with stable coronary artery disease. Those found to have higher blood levels of TMAO had a four-fold greater risk of dying from any cause over the subsequent five years.”

I can’t say it enough––TMAO is a byproduct of metabolism of meat, specifically L-carnitine (a product of red meat) and choline (abundant in red meat, dairy, and eggs). If you don’t eat meat, you don’t have TMAOs in your system, unless you drink energy drinks with L-carnitine in them.  Want to change your microbiome so you don’t create TMAO? Look here.

Finally, there’s the question of our morphology. Many argue that the fact that we can eat meat means we are omnivores. They also point to our canine teeth, our appendices and an occasional other trait, none of which stand up to scrutiny. Let’s start with teeth and chewing. Look at any carnivore you can think of, or omnivore. They cannot move their jaw side to side. They chomp up and down, tearing at their food. Only herbivores can move their jaws side to side. Think of the cow, chewing her cud. Or pictures of giraffes with their lower jaw an inch to the right of their upper jaw. Guess what? We inherited from our ape progenitors the side-to-side jaw, Go ahead, move your jaw and you’ll see what I mean. There is no recognized omnivore that can do that.

Look at our back teeth, and compare them to the teeth of a crocodile or lion. Ours are broad and flat, to grind grains and fiber in vegetables and fruits. The teeth of the omnivore or carnivore are uniformly sharp. They don’t grind. (How many of you grind your teeth at night? Herbivore!)

Perhaps the most compelling part of our anatomy in the length of our intestines. In a carnivore or omnivore, intestines are short, no more than 3 times the length of their torso. Why? Because meat has to travel quickly through the gut to be released before putrefaction. It’s never good to have food rotting in your gut. Herbivores, on the other hand, have guts 10 times or more longer than their torso. Why? Because plants are full of nutrients that need different processes to get all the goodness out. Fiber takes a long time to digest, and our hungriest bacteria for fiber may be in the last stages of our colon. Our intestines are 10 times longer than our torsos. Think of the koala who only wants to eat eucalyptus. To make sure it gets all it can out of this one type of leaf, it has one of the longest intestines to body size of any animal on earth. Luckily, we have a much broader availability of food, and don’t have to rely on one plant for all our nutrients.

So this is a long piece, and I’m happy if any of you made it this far. But I want to ask you one thing. Are you surprised you haven’t heard about any of this before? You must understand the power of certain groups, like the Cattleman’s Association, Big Dairy and the Egg Board. in the establishment of our eating habits and pubic policy. The USDA is the federal agency charged with two competing missions. One is to promote American agriculture both within the country and over the world, and the other is to provide safety and dietary guidance to the people of this country. Given that the bulk of their work is in promoting agriculture (including the three players mentioned above), is it surprising that it helps these industries put out ads suggesting that beef, pork, chickens, eggs, and milk are all good for us?

Is it surprising that they support school lunch programs by pushing the very things Big Ag produces? Is it surprising that schools teach us from our earliest school age that we need certain products to grow big and strong? Compare that to the science that shows that meat and dairy are prime causes in heart disease and stroke, cancer and diabetes, and realize that the USDA is selling us death, not healthful food.

Ask yourselves why the various disease societies cancer, diabetes, Susan G. Komen, don’t tell you that these diseases can be treated by a whole food plant based diet. Then Google who their supporters are. They are the same groups, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Dairy, that have a vested interest in our continuing to eat the way we have learned to eat under their watch. Our top killers are all lifestyle diseases, and they have been foisted on us by the very groups that should be protecting us. In spite of this, meat consumption in this country is going down. Milk consumption is going down. And they should because they are poisons to our very bodies.

 

The fall of civilization?

The loss of civility that has been occasioned by the internet creeps into our daily discourse, it seems. What used to be confined to the anonymity of Twitter and comments sections in Facebook and news sites is now uttered casually on the street. It is as if a great barrier built on eons of learning to live together has been broken and we are reverting to some pre-civilized state where the pounding of chests and the roaring of challenges were commonplace.

This most recent incivility started, I suppose, in the tribalism of soccer stadiums gone wild. We used to watch in amazement the barbarism and hate exposed in the videos from Europe. Now it resides here too, the in-your-face-ism of people who don’t share one’s own worldview, this need to expose to the world one’s own worldview as the only acceptable one, and to denigrate all those who don’t share it.

So I will join this me-firstness and proclaim here my credo to the world.

The world belongs to all of us and we need to learn to share nicely, as we were taught in kindergarten. We shouldn’t shit in the playpen, and we should hold hands, even with those we don’t like, when crossing the street. We should not be cruel to others, but accept them as they are, just as we expect them to accept us. Tantrums are disruptive and warrant a time-out for the actor to calm down. We should treat animals gently, because they have feelings, too.

I could go on, but you get the point.

 

Slavery in the US now?

Abby Mann has done it again. She’s reported on a human rights abuse that is silently encroaching on the freedoms we seem to take for granted in this country. The culprits are the very people that we would expect to recognize the evil they are doing. Apparently, they are members of the UN delegations from their own countries, bringing women to New York to act as domestics for their mansions and luxury suites. The women are told that they will not be domestics, and that they will be free to move around normally in the US. Then when they get here, they are locked in the homes, have their passports removed, and are forbidden to use the phones. If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the video here. Be prepared to be depressed at this further sign of abuse and dysfunction in the oligarchy that rules this world.

An open letter to Glastonbury, from a victim.

There are good people in the world and this is proof of it.

lifeonlauralane

Dear The Eavis family, and all who make Glastonbury happen,

So I write a lot of letters, but I promise this one will be worth reading – stick with it. This isn’t complaining about the crowds or the headliners, or telling the world how life changing the week was for me to provoke envy inducing angry faces all over Facebook. This is a story about a girl who contacted a giant festival who cater for hundreds of thousands with a request for help and was met with compassion, love and overwhelming acts of kindness.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to Glastonbury for the first year ever, with a group of friends who were equally as excited as I was – WhatsApp groups sharing outfits and line up rumours sprung up within minutes of receiving the golden tickets, and June 2017 could not come soon enough.

Unfortunately for me…

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