Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rubicon - My Own Personal One...

Hello S.E.Ingraham,

Thank you for your submission to Blah Blah mag. We know that you put a lot of time and effort into your submission, so we appreciate you thinking of us. Right or wrong, we have decided against using your work in our next issue.

You indicated you wanted to receive feedback on your submission. Since you put the effort into submitting to us, we feel you deserve an explanation for our decision. There's nothing worse than submitting to a publication and learning nothing from the process. Here is the raw feedback from our editors: 

This did not move us. The one about the High Level Bridge almost did for me because I live in Toledo.

Having said that, we're just one publication with one opinion. In the end we can't help but publish what we like. We could be wrong about your piece and it wouldn't be the first time. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to look at this piece - we appreciate it - and wish you best of luck in finding a suitable publisher for your work. (In fact, check out our 
Friends of Blah Blah mag page for a list of other publishers that may be interested in your work!). We hope you'll continue to consider Blah Blah mag in the future.

Artistically yours

The Blah Blah mag Editorial Team


Dear Blah Blah mag Editorial Team

Just a quick note to thank you for your thoughtful and lengthy rejection note. You are quite right. There is nothing worse than submitting to a publication and learning nothing from the process. (Well, I suppose there are some things that are worse; that vet who killed the giraffe and fed him to the lions in front of the kids at the zoo in Copenhagen last week, that seemed infinitely worse somehow...) That being said, I'm sorry my work didn't move you this time around. I am puzzling over the High Level Bridge almost making the cut because of the Toledo thing...I suppose there's a lesson in there somewhere, I just need to figure out what it is. .

All kidding aside, I do appreciate the suggestion to check out the "Friends of Blah Blah mag"...a quick peek revealed at least five places I wasn't aware of before, and will be investigating further.

I most certainly will consider Blah Blah mag sometime in the future. It might be a while...I'm having a bit of trouble figuring you out just now and, I'm not doing too badly with some other publications, so you're off the hook.

Thanks for considering my work and for putting out such a quality publication. It is a joy to read.



Thursday, July 25, 2013


I weep for too few days left, and too many,
and collect tears in leaves being swept
from trees burning on the coasts
of two continents, burying them in dunes.

My sadnesses grow from joy as well
as small unhappinesses, but all bring
a weighty importance in the moment
of their happenstance, and I have learned
to honour each one with the individual
ritualistic ceremony I deem proper
to the occasion;
This might involve an hour of silence,
or days on my knees.

I sob when I learn of children dying
anywhere - victims of genocide,
war, or infanticide...and depending
where I am in my own life,
the accumulation of pain,
is a strong indicator,
as to how much more I can bear
to amass --

If I am not cognizant of the sorrows
I am toting like carry-on baggage
at any one time -- it is easy
for me to slip into a state
where I cannot control
the amount of despair sloshing
within my being...

However, if dawn's curtains part
on skies gray as gloom,
I find counting
distressful situations irresistible
Before my feet even hit the floor
I number: the labs using animals
to test for mak-eup,
the Navy sending sonar through
the oceans, making whales bleed inside

My eyes are swimming as I remember
our Tar Sands are spilling daily
with no regard to those living
I cannot seem to turn off the reel
of Baby M; the tiny girl laying dead
 and cold in a local cemetery
Starved and beaten by her parents
who are now imprisoned,
awaiting a trial starting here in
several months...

It's usually the last one that either
forces me to pull the covers
back up and over reality...
Or me up and out into the dark world...
Again, it matters in what part of
the dismal world I find myself...

dVerse - Thursday July 25, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013


It is that weekend again when all of TV
is showing movies about war
and the fallout from war.
Documentaries about soldiers and armies
and what happens
to those who go to war
and those who survive,
and those who don't;
those who are left behind to wait,
and those who are just left behind.

It is not the weekend when
Canadians celebrate their war heroes,
nor is it close to the time when we
remember and honour our war dead.
But you cannot live this close
to the most powerful nation
on earth,
and not be affected by the goings-on
below our shared border,
especially as much of the time
we share the same conflicts.

So, here it is Memorial Day weekend
again and all about me
are stories of the body bags
arriving from Afghanistan—still—
even though the Americans are in the
midst of withdrawing their troops,
the same as we are.
And I can't help wondering if we
—and they—have not squandered
an awful lot of blood— ie.personnel—
not to mention, time and money,
on another losing cause.

As much as I know this is a weekend
to celebrate the brave men and women
who protect the rest of us, and our way of life
by going off to war, especially those,
that make that much talked about
but too often not thought about
"ultimate sacrifice", I still find myself enraged,
so much so, I can hardly stand to think about it
for one more minute.

And still, and still...
My fondness for all things Italian
wins out and I find myself ensconced before my television
and for the umpteenth time glued to "Tea with Mussolini".
After all, is there anything more soul-restoring than the scene
in that movie, near the end when the passel of old ladies
defy the Nazis by plastering themselves against the towers of San Gimignano
so the retreating soldiers can't make a last-ditch attempt to bomb them
to dust, as the allies are marching across Tuscany?

Sigh, no, I don't suppose there is...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shopping for Care

Exhausting, that’s what it is
Going from place to place
Interviewing owners, and staff
And you know, no matter
How much research you do
Or how careful you are
It’s going to be a crapshoot
I mean, look at that poor Mom
In Stoney, she did everything
Right and still, her toddler?
Dead in emergency – the daycare?
Not at fault, the baby fell hard
It could happen to anyone

Two days later, another -
This time an infant in Leduc
Rushed to a medical centre
Unconscious, barely breathing
Shaken baby syndrome
The determination, but, why
The mother wails, I checked
Their references, I did

Shopping for a funeral home now
The parents have little energy
For this task – who would?
And yet still, they are getting
The feeling, even through their
Grief that there may be a way
To do this wrong as well


Thursday, August 5, 2010

This Just in From the Tar Sands

This Just In From the Tar Sands

They are saying smugly that we now have the clean oil
We, of the land that last year had to show the world
Our tailings ponds with hundred of water fowl so oil-coated
They looked nothing like the species of ducks or birds
They actually were and everything like the tragic loss of life
They were becoming; the world was critical as it wept with
Those of us who were heartsick at big oil companies who
Tried to make light of this – after all, it was an ‘accident’
And they had tried to plan the ponds to be where birds
Weren’t but had miss-planned – who knew the migratory
Patterns were changing? Indeed – who knows anything?

Who has any knowledge at all about all these things:
About the poisoned waters in our north and the decline
Of all the indigenous plants, animals and people – let’s not
Forget the people – even though every report done by oil
Companies and governments alike would like to do just that-
Forget the people that is – how about the doctor in Fort Chip
Who dared mention he noticed a higher than normal incidence
Of a rare cancer there? That’s all – he just mentioned that
And, suddenly he was an alarmist, he was threatened by the
Very board that licensed him, told he would be sanctioned by
Them, that he would no longer be able to practise medicine
If he didn’t hush – why didn’t they just duct-tape his mouth?

The harassment grew so intimidating that he and his wife
Finally fled the small native community and moved across
The country to the Maritimes but, he felt so bad about abandoning
The many sick he was serving in Fort Chip – he started seeing
Them via teleconferences and flying in on a regular basis to keep
Up their care – all the while fighting his ridiculous court-case
As the alarmist who the medical board was taking to task;
He was eventually cleared of all charges of course, but little
Noise was made of this – very little noise at all – no, it was more
Important to undermine him loudly, not to put things to rights.

And now, with that dreadful oil-spill off the coast of the USA
There are actually people in Texas North as many of us have
Come to think of Alberta, because of the way oil is worshipped
Here—there are people here who really are going about saying
With the self-righteous fervour of televangelists —
“Well, who has the dirty oil now, huh? Looks like getting the oil out
of the ground is the wiser choice after all …” — completely ignoring
The reports that confirm how much contamination has happened
To the groundwater, how extensive the downstream damage is,
How quickly this non-renewable resource will be gone in any case …

If everything was on the up and up and nothing had to be
Kept from the public, do you think the largest oil companies
In the world would keep some of the top scientists
On the planet, on retainer – to the tune of millions of dollars –
So that they cannot testify, or work for anyone else, including
Environmental groups and/or governments—kind of makes
One wonder doesn’t it? And not just about the oil companies …
This is nothing new really—these scientist are paid to be deniers
Much the same way scientists were paid to deny the harmful
Effects of tobacco, oddly enough, by the oil companies
When those were first discovered and being touted widely
By the medical community—what is that saying,
“The more things change, the more they stay the same …”

And all the while, the pictures from the gulf grow ever more
Troubling, although ‘troubling’ seems far too mild a term
When one watches the size of the oil spill spreading unchecked
No matter what those supposedly in the know do to try
And stop it—this crude is flowing relentlessly toward land
Almost as if drawn magnetically there, the black is seeping
Through the depths and even up to the surface – oil is coming
And there’s no joy to be had about this bounty, none at all.

(This appeared on the site, Poets For Living Water, in the Open Mic section, summer 2010, in response to a call for work regarding the BP oilspill in the Gulf of Mexico that occurred earlier that year; the work did not necessarily have to address that particular tragedy. Unfortunately there are many from which to choose.)
The following bio accompanied the poem on Poets for Living Water - I am posting the poem here as well as leaving it up on the first site because, if I understand the situation correctly, when PfLW take down their poems, they don't archive them. I would like mine to stay up for awhile and then be archived and this way, on my personal blog, I have control of the situation.

S.E.Ingraham lives and writes in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is currently the President of the Stroll of Poets, a group who meet weekly from September to March to read their work aloud, and last year, she edited their anthology. Recently her piece, “Welcome to the Jungle” placed in the competition, Expressions of Hunger, and will hang at Edmonton’s City Hall, as well as several art galleries. She has two poems archived on, and is working on several chapbooks, one of which is based on her grandson’s first year of life entitled, You Don’t Know Jack. She believes poets have a responsibility to record events, world and local, as witnesses and hopes at least some of her work reflects that belief.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


She said, picture yourself in a safe place
And instantly I saw myself on a wooden stool
Painted forest green – a stool with rungs
I am hunched over with my head pulled
Down between my shoulders and look as if
I am afraid someone might hit me but when
She asks me if I feel safe and I say not quite

She asks me what I need to do to make
The space safe and I know right away and fashion
A strong, clear dome that fits right over the whole
Affair – me, the stool – leaving enough room
to breathe
But close enough to make me feel, well ... safe

She asks me to describe my safe place
And more particularly, me in it -
I, too sick to decline, even though
I feel embarrassed I think, begin to give
Her exacting details – especially as she leads me
When I falter with prompts, such as
What are you doing with your hands?
(Keeping them cupped up near my face
As if to hide it at a moment’s notice)

Why would you need to hide your face?
Describe it to me, she sounds so interested
Maybe she is – it’s always hard to tell with
Therapists – anyhow, as I say, I am pretty sick
So feel I have no choice and tell her how I look
(As if I have been crying for a week straight and my
Whole face is swollen and red, not just my eyes
Which are mere slits – I know how truly ugly
I am and I hate myself more than ever)

Is that why you need to be in the dome,
On your stool, she wants to know ...
I give her question careful consideration
I know that it’s part of it but not everything
There are so many things that make me feel unsafe
But most of them – I don’t even know how
To begin to articulate; she tells me

That I can stay on my stool under my dome
As long as I need to and return there anytime
I have her permission to give myself permission
To keep this safe place for myself and she wonders
If this has been helpful – I tell her I think so but
I’ll have to let her know ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last Night I Heard Africa Drumming

In an ordinary community hall
In the south-central section of the city
On one of the longest days of the year
They gathered.

Many of them from here:
Aboriginal, M├ętis, French and English Canadians,
And many of them from the Dark Continent:
Ghanaian, Angolan, Somali, Zimbabuen

We were raising money for a drought and poverty-stricken
Hospital in Western Ghana, and doing it in style

To say the hall was filled to overflowing
Would not be an exaggeration—but the real
Fulfillment came from the sound ...

As a little-travelled Canadian white woman

My understanding of African drumming
Was pretty much limited to what I saw on TV

And in movies from Hollywood; even specials
On National Geographic did not do justice
To the splendour of real drumming
The likes of which we heard last night

First, one drummer would start and he alone
Would be powerful and loud and rhythmic
In ways that are hard to define,


Then another would do a counter-beat
And another would join in and layer his
Distinctive drum either on top or in step

Until sometimes as many as ten drummers
Were making this remarkable sound
All of them different and all the same
Transporting many of us to Africa or to dance

Or both

It was not hard to imagine being in the jungle
In the dark around a fire, hearing the beat
Of these drums playing long into the night,
Or maybe for several days or nights

So mesmerizing is the intensity of music
That is just drumming—and I do not mean
To diminish it in the least by saying ‘just’

In fact, just the opposite –that drums alone
Make such compelling music enthrals me
Thrills me, makes me want to move
As I noticed it did almost everyone
In attendance at this function

Yes, last night I heard Africa drumming
And began to understand her mystery
Just a little bit better and why
We need to keep trying with her;

Mama Africa, we hear you, we do

I found myself promising to try
Harder to help her and I will.