Post Purity Culture

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Photo edited by Mariah Wilson; photo courtesy of Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

When I was growing up in the fundamentalist evangelical church, I was taught that I was too loud, too bossy, too brass and too crass. I was chubby and wore half sizes in children’s sizes which was the plus size version for kids. My best friend was skinny, flat chested, and sporty. I was chubby, developed breasts early, and quite clumsy.

I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 and then only Christian boys because the Bible said it was a sun to be “unequally yoked”. I couldn’t see PG rated movies, use playing cards, listen to rock music, or use “crass language” including “substitute” words like gosh, darn, golly, shoot, poop, or (Heavens to Betsy!) crap.

But it was the messages I heard about sex and my body that have been the toughest to overcome. Sex outside of marriage wasn’t even an option. Should I do such a thing, I would be forever ruined, someone else’s trash.

The list of rules for girls was quite long:

- Bodies should be covered up, even when swimming.

- Nakedness was something to cause shame.

- Virginity is what gave women value; it’s was her gift to her future husband.

- Sex is shameful, don’t do it… unless you’re married.

- Once married, women won’t want sex as often as men, but never refuse your husband.

- Always keep yourself looking good for your man.

- Put something pretty on just before your husband comes home.

- Women should submit to the authority of men for their own protection.

- Only men have strong sex drives.

- If women have sex before marriage they are damaged goods and no one will want them—they are like a crumpled rose.

Deconstruction is a process that I am still experiencing. It’s amazing how quickly the teaching and indoctrination of my youth comes back to bite my enlightened feminist modern soul. I find it difficult to separate the good from the bad of my upbringing. But I am determined to continue this work.

Purity Culture

Men are visual
Or so I’ve been told
So many times
It is woven into
my DNA.

Be careful
Watch what you wear;
Watch how you walk
don’t be forward or loud
or brassy.

No one likes
A brassy woman
Women are responsible
For the lusting found
In the hearts of men.

I tell myself
I have grown out
I have moved on
From such foolish
Patriarchal nonsense.

I tell myself
I have deconstructed
Whatever that means
I have separated
The truth from the lies.

Until something happens
And all of it comes
Rushing back—
Guilt, Anger,
And Burning Shame.

At the end
Of deconstruction
There remains a giant
Pile of rubble, one
Mess of mortified me.

But I own
Every last piece
Of senseless shame
Every tiny bit
Of damning guilt

I own my story
I own my future
I alone own
The power
to rebuild my life.

—cjpjordan

The Game of Shame

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Photo Credit

Sometimes things happen, and I respond with a very quick knee-jerk reactions. Other times, I respond slower, but from a deep level of understanding and personal experience.

This week I was triggered by a parent not allowing their male child to buy a pink graphic t-shirt because he was a boy and wearing pink might offend the grandmother. Since when is a child responsible for someone else’s reaction—to a color, no less?!

I say nay nay.

Keep your oppressive shame to yourself. Don’t heap it on to a child who happens to be quite comfortable in his own skin. Don’t try to cram someone else, especially a child, into a box that you have chosen for yourself.

Thanks, but no thanks. That’s a hard pass for me.

F*** shame.

The Game of Shame

Oppressive shaming
Gotta get gaming
Passing out naming
Labeling and framing
Really just aiming
at a child’s heart.

Please tell me
you know about this—
saying to a child
he will be remiss
if he wears something
grandma won’t like.

It’s oppressive,
it’s aggressive,
it’s obsessive
and regressive.
It tears at a child’s heart.

Generational cycles
repeating and repeating.
Don’t you know
that fashion is fleeting?
Colors don’t reflect
“manliness” or sexuality.

It’s oppressive,
it’s aggressive,
it’s obsessive
and regressive.
It tears at a child’s heart.

It’s not ok to place
that weight upon a child
to tell him he’s responsible,
to make him feel exiled
all because he’s comfortable
inside his own skin.

It’s oppressive,
it’s aggressive,
it’s obsessive
and regressive.
It tears at a child’s heart.

I’m sure I did it,
I know that I lived it,
but I’m breaking that cycle
because I can admit it.
I can share my story
and overcome the past.

It’s oppressive,
it’s aggressive,
it’s obsessive
and regressive.
It tears at a child’s heart.

Oppressive shaming
Gotta get gaming
Passing out naming
Labeling and framing
Really just aiming
at a child’s heart.

—Carla Picklo Jordan

Turning A Quadrille

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Photo credit: Thanks to Liam Edwards for taking this photo.

A Quadrille is simply a poem of 44 words (excluding the title), and it can take any form. Today’s challenge was to use the word “people” in a quadrille. Sometimes I’m just “over” people; I can write it off to my introvertedness to a point, then I just have to say, “Enough is enough!”

Thanks to fellow poet Joel Mitchell who turned me on to author Richard Powers and his book, “The Overstory”. I took inspiration from the first sentence: “Let me sing to you now, about how people turn into other things.” I also merged this quadrille form with the one sentence form creating one long sentence of 44 words.

Enough

Let me sing to you now,
about how people
turn into other things—
they leave behind
the steeple and decorum,
cruising out into the world
with snarling lip—
denying justice to those
who desperately need it
and seeking accolades
where they don’t deserve it.

-A Draft poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Sometimes enough is just enough.

Dry Bones

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Thanks to Wilmy van Ulft @studiofabelhaft for making this photo available freely on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/63cQ4PXmWlU

Today the challenge was to write a poem that stretches my comfort zone with line breaks. That could be a poem with very long lines, or very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two. Who knows what that might look like? Maybe breaking apart lines to emphasize (or de-emphasize) sounds or rhymes, or creating a moment of hesitation in the middle of a thought. I read several poems and here is what I came up with.


Dry Bones

She loved

near the edge of the world
with gusto
if not lunacy.
she chose unity
with herself.

She lost her vision
from living in the darkness—
the rose colored glasses
foggy from flashes
of light.

A ray of hope
in no man’s land
she teetered on the edge
of the cliff. The sedge
a sign

of her dry bones.
the moon rose
unbidden,
nearly hidden
by love.

She loved
wild and reckless—
in the light
no danger of flight—
I think.

—A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 21

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Photo Credit: Cartoon published on https://medium.com/loving-mindful/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-50d2e983ba8d

Today the challenge was to write a poem that uses lines that have a repetitive set-up. So I started my process wondering, and the poem began to write itself.

The Blind Man


I wonder
exactly what I have
in common with the blind man
who lives on Crescent Street
and the hip hop artist
who plays at the club.

I wonder
what secrets we all hold
hidden inside our mouths,
behind our teeth, buried
in the clear, translucent
whiteness of our eyes.

I wonder
why making secrets seems
so easy, but keeping
them eats us up from the
inside out; why certain
things weigh more than we think.

I wonder
if we aren’t all like the
blind man, seeing only
what we can touch with our
own two hands, believing
our own imagined truth.

I wonder
as I cross my fingers,
cross my arms over my
heart and take a deep breath
why, after all this time,
hope for change never dims.

—a draft poem by Carla Picklo Jordan

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 🤗

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 16

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Poem inspired by this commissioned work by Irina Charny displayed at Church of the Resurrection; Pleasant Hill, California; 2008
Gatekeepers 

Imagine the world
perfected—
a steady humming
of irrepressible joy.

Gather the light—
the sparks
of light dancing
in the shards.

Take the holy—
with kindness,
in gentle hands—
and repair souls.


—a draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

NaPoWriMo2021 Day 13

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Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

https://phys.org/news/2020-01-image-japanese-archipelago-western-pacific.html

Today’s prompt was to write a poem in the form of a newspaper article you wish would come out tomorrow.

I’m not sure this was the idea they had in mind, but I wrote a poem from an NPR news report that came out this morning.

Let’s just say it’s my twist on the subject. ☺️

Open Your Eyes

The quake and tsunami
contaminated water,
crippled plants.
next summer, they
will run out of space
for wastewater.

Environmental groups
remain skeptical
of broken promises,
of 20,000 dead or missing,
of empty assurances
of safety.

The danger is real;
oceanic release imminent.
Protestors rally
on uninhabitable land.
The black rockfish
tells the story in its flesh.

Don’t worry,
the diluting effects
of the vast ocean
will neutralize toxins.
Don’t worry,
poison won’t seep

into our shores.
Anyway, tritium only
slightly increases
the risk of cancer—
just a tiny little plop
of poop in your dinner.

Go ahead, eat up!
Enjoy! Who cares
if it poisons someone
else’s fish? I guess
that life and water
don’t matter to everyone.

Some express
deep regret—
so sorry
your life
is threatened
by our greed.

We are so sorry,
but we...
we don’t see
any other way,
we just don’t.
see.

-A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Twenty-Nine

Today’s prompt was to write a poem based on things I remember using specific details, and without worrying about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. Well, since today is the retirement reception for a dear professor from my alma mater, I will share a poem I wrote to read at the reception tonight. This poem is rich in imagery and detail about Peter’s life and my memories of us together. I can’t think of a more fitting poem to share on this “things remembered” 29th day of NaPoWriMo.

rhapsody

as far as a rhapsody is concerned,
gershwin has it down pat
and peter is his master.
he cruises over the keys like
a winsome boy heading to the fishing pond–
at once owner and guest,
inviter and intruder.
he wrestles a tango out of the notes making love look like precision.
but these are not miraculous things
and the miracle is not the man,
merely a part of him.

a kilt clad, bagpipe blowing sicilian with scottish flare,
his tuscan ease belies a deeper sense of altruistic lifelines–
heart gaping open, family fuels his faithful friendship
and beware the fellow who maligns either one.

hereos of the underdog do not always begin the journey with such an intent,
but when the eyes of the heart are open to see truth, miracles happen.
and so peter’s discoveries,
by accident and sagacity, were not always sought by quest.
and as it is, life is full of small serendipities–those places where stranger and ally meet.
it was here in this place that we met.
he was pounding out gershwin on pianos across the east coast,
red hair flapping in the rhythm of the rhapsody, and i was a member of the band.
although the concerts are not what I remember most.

even years later, when i was the american in paris seated at a sidewalk cafe, eating warm goat cheese salad and sipping red wine,
the memories came back to me,
warm as a bahama breeze.
the memories were of touring–the bench seats in the back of the van crammed to capacity, all of us thrown together in that small space.
tour bred a kind of fierce and unexpected intimacy;
the conversations quickly shifted from superficial to raw and real.
after tour, the friendship between us continued.

together we commuted to school in a classic little blue vw bug.
we talked about life.
we argued politics.
we threw down poetry,
he constantly reminding me not to scorn or judge too quickly.
those poems, scrawled on yellow notepad paper in black ink
indelibly marked me for life.
his unconditional love and crazy sicilian joie de vivre,
also indelibly marked me for life;
we are here because in one way or another,
he has indelibly marked us all.

and so the sonata of his life plays on–same piece, new movement.
it is my hope that this new movement resounds with beauty and grace and miracles;
and that peter continues to inspire hope and love in us all.


Peter with his wife, Kathy

Wearing Brave NaPoWriMo 2016

This morning, Evan read my poem “Wearing Brave” over my shoulder. Then he told me he had an idea for poem and asked me to write it down. He even titled it all by himself. Of course, I happily assisted. 😊 Below you will find both my poem and the Ev inspired one. Love that Little Wonder and the way he thinks. I think his poem would make a great children’s book.

wearing brave

if bravery were a color
it would be red i suppose,
for all the souls who bled to live
a truth which nobody knows.
it would be the red fire of courage
burning for causes without names,
for lives that hang in the balance,
for truth spoken without shame.
it would be the way that love rejoices
as darkness resurrects into light,
as undaunted, courageous voices
echo on to continue the fight.
if bravery were a color
it would be red i suppose,
for all the souls who bled to live
a truth which nobody knows.

Blue Dogs All The Way
(inspired by the story of Little Wonder)

If blue were a color, and I was blue,
What would I do?
What would I do?
I’d bark like a dog and wag like one, too;
I’d be a best friend, a wagging true blue.
If I were a dog, and I was blue,
What would I do?
What would I do?
I’d dig a big hole and hide my bone well
Under the bushes where no one could tell.
If I were a bone hiding dog who was blue,
What would I do?
What would I do?
The day after hiding my bone I would run
Happy and healthy out under the sun.
If I were a slap happy dog who was blue,
What would I do?
What would I do?
I’d dig up my bone from under the trees
and chew all day with the birds and the bees.
If blue were a color and I was blue,
What would I do?
What would I do?
I would love the world full of rainbow hues
and wonder all day with thoughts that amuse.

  

Day #18

Today’s challenge was to write a ruba’i. What’s that? Well, it’s a Persian form (multipe stanzas in the ruba’i form are a rubaiyat), and basically, a ruba’i is a four-line stanza with a rhyme scheme of AABA.

I dedicate this poem to my dear friend, Ann who inspired me. We were discussing the Calvin Festival on Faith and Writing, and she said one of the common themes was marginalization. I thought about what can be done to change the way people so often feel marginalized (particularly by the church) and realized the only answer is in love. Jesus said it best: the most important thing is to love God with our whole selves and then to love others like we love ourselves. If we did this exactly as we should, marginalization would be nonexistent.

love wins

the great marginalization took
a form so subtle it forsook
all powers of reason and logic
and to the core, the foundations shook.

It happened one fall when days grew short;
the elect decided to purport
their few opinions on the many,
and in so doing, good will did thwart.

labels of marginalization
caused the autonomous privation
of those who were presumed different
resulting in alienation.

people lined up in perfect order
each assigned a specific border
lambs to slaughter they went unafraid
important to prevent disorder.

unquestioning obedience key
always implied the need to agree,
but those who refused the label
denied were they the great jubilee.

most followed the path dutifully
and lived in fear of the great bully
who would sweep down and belittle those
who chose to live their lives differently.

quietly and without making waves,
some wished to live free and not as slaves
without fear or labels or bondage
until they came to rest in their grave.

though they tried to avoid persecution,
there simply was not resolution
without taking up arms and fighting
resulting in great revolution.

most often such conflicts end in war
with wounds and casualties galore,
but this time the arms were not weapons.
instead they took up kindness and poured

a steady flow of goodness and grace
choosing abiding love to replace
the bigotry of their enemies–
thus labels were no longer embraced.

marginalization dwindled down
until the voice of all did resound
in one accord with one mind for all–
equality was the victor now.

the lesson seems to ring loud and clear
(even to those who are cavalier
toward those with disparate attractions):
hearts beat the same under one veneer.