Grief Songs by Elizabeth Gauffreau–A Review

Well done Liz and thank you Charles for posting this review. I shall have to order a copy for myself.

charles french words reading and writing

grief songsGrief Songs by Elizabeth Gauffreau is a beautiful and compelling collection of poetry and photographs.

Gauffreau is a skilled story-teller, and her poetry and pictures create moving portraits of her family that draw the reader into her lovingly created images and remembrances.

Gauffreau uses the traditional Tanka form for her poetry, and she shows great skill in weaving her stories and memories together. For those who love poetry and family, this book will engage them and make them want to find their own family photos.

Grief Songs is an excellent book of poetry, it is lyrical and lovely, and I give it my complete recommendation. It will capture you and move you.

Beautifully done!

Grief Songs is available at Amazon

Please visit her wonderful website: lizgauffreau.com

5 stars

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LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Please, open your heart and feel each word.

“When I was five years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down “happy.”They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – Langston Hughes

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Langston Hughes – 1902 – 1967

Let america be america again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today-O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home-

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa\s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay-

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-

The land that never has been yet-

And yet must be-the land where every man is free

The land that’s mine- the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s ME-

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me

And yet I swear this oath-

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We the people must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain-

All, all the stretch of these great green states-

And make America again!

*******

Bisous,

Léa

L’ete

The veil between my beloved summer and autumn has once again descended. Like last year, it has tumbled earlier than in the past. I’ve learned to find delights in each season but summer is where my heart sings. The quotes below, for me, reflect that sentiment. 

 

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned  that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  –  Albert Camus

“In summer, the song sings itself.”   –  William Carlos Williams

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”   –  F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

L’ete

Slowing down my mind

Halt the eternal quest

For tomorrow, next week

Or a favorite holiday

Even before summer’s

Waning begins, the

Yearning for it starts

Anew

*

Learning to delight in

Nuances of each season

Colors of gold, red, yellow

Then brown splashes

Across the vineyards to

Les arbres

Soups simmer once again

A late squash-corn chowder,

Black bean or hearty vegetable

Avec pois chiche

*

Le Printemps donne l’espoir

Les fleurs,

Vibrant green leaves

Sur le vigne

Life cycle

Reaffirms herself

Mother Nature bestows her gifts

*

Most difficult

Pour moi

Making peace

Avec l’hiver

Taking my breath away

Lodging its chill

Deep in my bones

Even when sunlight bounces

Across a rare snow

Longing takes over

Summer feels so far away

*

Bisous,

Léa

lumière du soleil

“I desperately want to see the day today and do the best I can not to miss a shred of sunlight. It’ll be over before I know it.”   –  Mandy Patinkin

 

“If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.   –  Napoleon Bonaparte

 

“A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.”   –  Anais Nin

*

lumière du soleil

*

playfully

she slips upon me

as I sleep

nudging me awake

filled with laughter

forcing my eyes

open

*

impishly she creeps

into corners

illuminating cobwebs

chasing shadows

yet they disappear

as she moves on

*

like a torch

her beams

warm the forest’s

thickly needled carpet

peeking between branches

and leaves

*

with a silent smirk

in her wake

she ignites starlight

*

Bisous,

Léa

Once burned…

“Fake people have an image to maintain. Real people just don’t care.”                        –     Author unknown

“We never lose friends. We simply learn who the real ones are.”  – Author unknown

 

“False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports.”  – Richard Burton

*

Once burned…

 

You flash a grin

My way

I feel my spine

Relax

Slipping farther

From caution I

Slide under your spell

Memory dishes up

In your favor

I feel confidence

Abandon me

As you close in

That split second

Your head turns

Calculating your options

Gratefully my senses return

Your attentions return

In a flash

Yet a veil has fallen

Your strengths fade to frailties

Sliding irretrievably from

Possibility

The seas are rich

I am patient

And deep

Your shallow waters

Cannot sustain me

*

Bisous,

Léa

Salut/Rencontres

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths you Can’t Avoid

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”  – Oscar Wilde

“We should have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what the are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves.

– John Locke

“Language forces us to perceive the world as man presents it to us.”

– Julia Penelope

 

 

Salut/Rencontres

Antoine comes to the café

Each morning

A magazine in hand

Periodicals about small boats

Or great ships

The sea courses

Through his veins

Antoine skims le journal (newspaper)

Drinks his café

Diving deeper into

His nautical world

Pausing to acknowledge

Friends

Today he shows me

A new book “Milk Cows”

U boats of WWII – hardback

En anglais

In turn, I produce my

Latest paperback of French poems

On parting we raise les livres

And laugh

Bisous,

Léa

Affair with Hemingway

“I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye – that was the trouble – I wanted to kiss you good night – and there’s a lot of difference.”  –  Ernest Hemingway

“They love me like a pack of wolves.”   – Ernest Hemingway

“Love is forever. Lust is for the moment. Got a moment?” –  Michael Gorman

 

Affair with Hemingway

 

Remote corners du café

Closerie des Lilas

Summer evenings beneath stars

Sidewalk tables and stories

Late at night – mon chambre

I take you to my bed

Crawl deep inside your stories

I have my way with you

You reach out through time

Together, we do Paris

Huddled in corners

Sipping wine and champagne

Dark Smokey tables shared

Avec Fitzgerald, Ezra et

Ford Madox Ford

War stories, the bulls

Nights at Bricktops

Josephine’s rocking the joint

Gertrude’s salon

Champagne et art du jour

Picasso, Modigliani

Breathless with anticipation

I surrender and plead for more

It is the life – it is life

Bereft, insatiable, pleading for more

C’est magnifique!

 

Bisous,

Léa

Red’s own story

“And whenever I’m in a situation where I’m wearing the same as 600 other people and doing the same thing as 600 other people, looking back, I always found ways to make myself different, whether it be having a red lining inside of my jacket, having red shoes, it hasn’t changed.”
– Jeremy Irons

“When in doubt wear RED.”
– Bill Blass

 

Red’s Own Story

 

She is the thick

Slick enamel

That covers my nails

A pointer when tracing

Concentric circles

On bare flesh

She is the sports car

Darting along the highway

Hugging the curves

Turning an eye

She is the ripe

Succulent strawberry

Her flesh firm

Yet yielding

Tantalizing dipped in dark chocolate

Suits her best

She is the

American beauty

Long stemmed, heady fragrance

Her tight buds unfurl

Exposing her inner delicacy

We forget the thorns

She is the creamy dark war paint

On my lips

A signature

When and where

I choose to leave my mark

She is fire

On the move

Churning inside

Rising up

Beckoning me on

She is

Passion

 

Bisous,

Léa

Night on the town

“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.”    – Sheila McKechnie

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” – Albert Einstein

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”    – Mother Teresa

 

Night on the town

 

Hunched slightly forward

He shuffles

From the steps

Of the coffee house

An old yarn cap

Pulled down

Hiding shaggy grey hair

Hands tremble

Clinging to a small paper cup

Hand out coffee

Black skin

Mingles with the night

His slight form

Hovers over

The un-cleared table

On the sidewalk

A ragged coat

Nearly swallows him

Turning cautiously

Side to side

He claims a half-eaten baguette

As his own

Huddled tightly

In a white plastic chair

He savors this feast

Morsel by morsel

Plucked from a hiding place

Beneath his arm

Tonight will be good

Without the pangs

Of hunger

He can brave the cold

 

Bisous,

Léa

You must remember this…

Nearly five years have gone by since I shared this post with you. As Hepburn said, Paris is always a good idea, once it re-opens, and safe to visit. There have been a number of new followers and not everyone wanders back in a blog’s archives so I’m playing it again… and hope you won’t mind?

“Paris is always a good idea.”  – Audrey Hepburn

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” – Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” – Mae West

No temptation can ever be measured by the value of its object.” – Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

*

You must remember this…

“We’ll always have Paris”

Rick whispers to Ilsa

The memories of

Passion born

Romantic interlude

Lucien taking my hand

Dans la Louvre

His deep resonating accent

Thick as a fine paté,

A call to arms, to lips, tongues…

Two arms guide me

Lost in Ribera’s

Club-footed boy

Spanish room

His favourite,

La Louvre closes

I’m introduced to

The Latin quarter,

Notre Dame,

Secluded niche

Spring grasses,

Canopy of leaves

Along the Seine

City of light

La ville de l’amour

No need for translation

Communication

Flows freely

Play it again…

*

Bisous,

Léa

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