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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Thomas Rainsborough: Friend of the People

Sea green ribbons color the procession
Down through London in sixteen forty-eight;
Rosemary sprigs were worn in unison;

Thousands of mourners in demonstration
Numerous Levellers participate
As sea green ribbons gild their procession;

Our Vice Admiral has sadly fallen,
He who had used his voice to liberate,
Pinned rosemary sprigs showed their unison;

Lain in Wapping, in dim oblivion–
Yet his words are still clear and resonate,
While green ribbon adorned the procession;

Some cry, but other pilgrims wait for none
To rescue them, instead they congregate,
Sprigs of rosemary sprigs show their unison;

“The poorest has a life,” his words are spun,
“As the greatest,” so sing and jubilate–
Sea green ribbons gild the procession,
Rosemary for unyielding unison.

Copyright – Ruth Ann Oskolkoff 2021

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

The Last Stand at Mona

A battle buried in antiquity
When Rome invaded Ynys Môn with might
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey;

The fourteenth legion crossed the Irish Sea
Cavalry, infantry—soldiers alight,
A battle buried in antiquity;

Women hollered curses like the banshee
In black, disheveled, a terrible fright,
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey;

Brave armed warriors faced the enemy
With brands of flame, each one ready to fight,
A battle buried in antiquity;

The Romans slew the druids savagely,
Blood soaked altars, groves cut down through the night,
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey;

Rome herself has vanished in history,
Rowanberries grow on this sacred site,
A battle buried in antiquity,
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey.

© 2020 Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Song of the Chieftess

 
I am the nesting wren in May.
I am the tall blue elderberry.
I am the queen of dragon flies.
I am the angry geese on the shores.
I am salmon swimming up stones.
I am the black bird who suddenly swoops.
I am the steady swishing of rain.
I am the rising wind on the Sound.
I am the ancient mountain Tahoma.
I am the lanterns of remembrance.
I am poetry recited as if in trance.
Who throws light on the Sun-a-do peaks?
Who is both fir and lightning which strikes?
Who knows both sun and silver moon?
Who but I know the secrets of midnight?
Who gathers the memories, sings to the lands?
Who attunes to the fields, the rivers, the peoples?
Who If not I? I invoke the waves of Salish Sea.
Who if not I? I call out peace to all community.

© 2021 Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

My Keepsake

That flash of inward light, unexpected
Prostration, awakening tenderness,
What have I turned into? Overpowered
By some inner sense, a profound largess;
I meet myself but cannot see my face,
My eyes are soft as if I wept all night,
My sense of me is gone without a trace,
Like the new moon, this lone Seattleite
Must arise, must face that I will never
See you again, nor grasp your hand, asleep
With no farewell kiss, I left forever,
You did not see me off, yet still I keep
Directions you kindly scribbled for me–
My keepsake, this old hallowed memory.

© Ruth Ann Oskolkoff 2021

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Greetings from the Woolly Mammoth God

Hi friends, this email was written by my late friend Anne (1943-2010) who I worked with at the Greenwood Fred Meyer in North Seattle for years. I post it every year to remember her. Please share and remember my friend Anne.

——————————-

Greetings from the Woolly Mammoth God, and his representative on earth, Anne Gilbert!

From: ANNE V. GILBERT

Sent: Friday, November 17, 2000 11:48 PM

To all:

Greetings from the Woolly Mammoth God, and his representative on earth, Anne Gilbert!

November 18 is a significant day in the Northern Hemisphere (and in the Southern also, but for different reason). Why is it significant? It is the day the sun sets in Barrow, Alaska. The sun will not rise again for 64 days. Out on the tundra, the moon will rise and set, rise and set, the Northern Lights will flame into a rainbow of colors, and the wolves will howl beneath the stars. Human beings will huddle in their dwellings and watch the Northern Lights flicker and flame.

Farther south, the dark and the rain and the cold will close in. The sun will rise and set each day, but between November 18 and January 24, dark, dreary, cold, enlivened, or perhaps threatened, by an occasional snow, will set in. In wild places, trees will be bare, the ground frozen, and life will be hard for the wild inhabitants of forest and plain. Humans will be subject to colds and flu, and their misery will spread with the dark, shortened days. 

But all will not be misery, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, for it will be a time of celebration as well. With the lessening of the sunlight, will come the turning on of many-colored lights on houses and Christmas trees and whatever surface is flat enough to string a wire. People will gather together (in the US, at least) to visit and pass the time with family and friends on Thanksgiving, perhaps really to give thanks for the blessings they may have received throughout the year. There will be other winter holidays too, occasions for visits and celebrations with family and friends: Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, New Years. Yes, trees will be bare and the ground either soggy or frozen, depending on where one is, but there will also be joy and companionship for many. And yes, there will be time for reflection as well.

The same is true, in reverse, for those living in the Southern Hemisphere. These same 64 days will bring an increase in light and heat, and the return of outdoor activities and pleasures. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere lucky enough to live near a beach will doubtless spend time there doing something pleasurable with family and friends. Others might plant a garden and watch it grow and flower. Perhaps there will be long walks in the mild, ambient air, underneath a beneficent sun. Those of you living in the Southern Hemisphere may not have to worry about colds and flu, but there will, of course, be such problems as sunburn and the hole in the ozone layer, but the many of the holidays celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere are also celebrated in the Southern, and again, these are times for renewal of friendship, companionship, exchanging of news, and just plain merriment. Here too, there will be time for reflection.

What Should people in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere reflect upon, asks the Woolly Mammoth God? 

The most important thing is, that all seasons are times of change. In the depths of winter, there is always the hope of spring, and leaves budding, flowers poking their green leaves and buds out of the cold earth, of birds returning once again to sing, set up territories, mate, and raise young of their kind. There is always the hope of renewal, even in the depths of darkness. In the Southern Hemisphere, the reflection will take the opposite course: that all the sunshine and light are finite, and changing, as the world inevitably turns its endless cycle. The plants will fade and sleep, and the cold, the rain, the shortened days and perhaps the misery, will come again, to be followed in their inevitable course by the distant spring. For, wherever you are, there is always change and renewal.

And, for all of us, Northern and Southern Hemisphere inhabitants, in the midst of festivity and merriment, we are, ultimately alone, in our own skins, no matter how close our companions, no matter how much they are willing to share with us. By the same token, when we are alone, the memories of past companionship give us comfort, and the promise that there will be other times when we will not be alone. Times change, times stay the same, and there is always the knowledge that in the midst of joy, some sorrow is inevitable, and in the midst of sorrow, there will be joy, just as a rainbow promises the end of the most terrible thunderstorms. 

The sun will set in Barrow, Alaska on November 18, and it will rise again on January 24, as it always does. For darkness and light are always intertwined, as are joy and sorrow, life, death, and the seasons. In the depths of darkness, there is always time for reflection, and a ray of light will shine.

And so, the Woolly Mammoth God, and his representative on earth bid you farewell for the moment, leaving, it is hoped, ample room for reflection.

Anne Gilbert, Representative to the Woolly Mammoth God

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Elegy for Jim Radford

Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease,
Nor quit singing about all the horrors of war
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace;

Such sadness on knowing this final release,
In a loss for the world we farewell our troubadour
Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease;

He has gone now, flying away with a skein of geese
Calling out to us from afar, this orator
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace;

His life will always be with us, as ambergris
Floats in the ocean until it reaches the shore,
Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease;

Sometimes life seems overflowing with caprice,
When this friend was ushered out that open door
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace;

Lament him now with a song of the Northern seas,
Remember him who climbed to the top of the tor,
Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease,
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace.

© by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Oxey Mead Park

I lay on the grasses in rolling fog,
In yellow hayrattle and fairy flax,
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog;

The snipe chirps out her plaintive monologue,
A skylark warbles while diving her tracks,
I lay on the grasses in rolling fog;

Life continues her subtle dialogue,
The sun recites hymns to the zodiacs,
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog;

The peaceful clouds roll by in epilogue
Casting shadows in forgotten syntax,
I lay on the grasses in rolling fog;

The meadow hums in ancient analog,
Oxeye daisies keep their secretive pacts
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog;

I need no other church or synagogue
Within my particular parallax,
I lay on the grasses in rolling fog
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog.

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Deadman’s Walk

I wandered stone streets in Oxford that day
Not lost, but looking for light in the spires,
Ancient limestone, sharp thorns in the briers
Or even the scent of a rose bouquet.
Down Merton Street to a gated archway,
Passing through it to see what transpires—
Walking the footpath of humble friars
To an old iron swing gate, then I stray
Just outside the old city wall, to space
On steps at the start of the Deadman’s Walk
Where Jewish funeral processions took place,
Buried under unconsecrated rock—
When a wood pigeon calls with sudden grace,
Coo, Coo, Coo, spontaneous, all ad hoc.

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Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

The Tomb of Karl Marx

My pilgrimage started on the Overground to transfer
to the Jubilee and Northern lines, then boarded a


Pantone Red 271 bus, walked downhill through
Waterlow Park to arrive at Highgate Cemetery


where everyone had prepaid for a specific
30-minute timeslot. I was given a map of the

cemetery, I followed all the signs and walked
the dirt path to his tomb and the first thing


I notice is how large it is. His bronze head is
gargantuan and there are bouquets of flowers


at the base. There’s a steady trickle of people
to view the monument, and people are taking


photos. A French family asks me to take theirs’
so I do and then I ask them to snap my picture


with left fist raised. His famous quote about
change is on the front of the giant black marble


pedestal. As I leave I don’t feel different and
am still part of the poor working masses.


I guess my journey worked. You should go.
Bring flowers and revolution.