16 October, 2011

Blog Action Day 2011: Hunger

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jacquelyn Judd @ 6:00 am

Blog Action Day 2011

Forty-six years ago this month, I made one of my “wrong” choices in life. I married a homeless and jobless man. I loved him. I was convinced we could change our lives if we stuck together. I was an optimistic teenager, even though I had already experienced some tough life-lessons.

In this marriage, one of the first lessons I was taught was about hunger. We started our marriage living a true Odyssey. We traveled across the entire United States. We went to California first (from Missouri) and ended up in New York (the November that the “Lights Went Out”). Nowhere we landed had jobs and/or places we could stay. My husband said he knew for sure we could get jobs with the Ringling Circus in Florida. He said he heard that when you worked for them, they gave you a trailer to live in. That would resolve our problem of not having a place to live if we got jobs. No job means no place to live; no place to live means no job. We sold everything we still had except the clothes on our backs, and we set out from New York to Florida. We took a bus as far as we could go with the money, which was to Dover, Maryland. After that we walked.

Our first crisis was when we reached the Norfolk tunnel. The toll was a per-person toll, and we had no money to pay our way even if we got a ride. A truck driver offered us a solution. My husband could crawl into the curtained sleeping quarters up behind the seat, and I could sit on the floor where I wouldn’t be seen, and he wouldn’t have to pay for us as passengers. The truck driver was an angel in disguise. He not only gave us a ride all of the way to Charleston, South Carolina, his destination, but he also bought us food all along the way.

I have left out a good portion of the Odyssey, but I’m giving some details now to illuminate the point I am making. We literally walked from Charleston SC to Jacksonville FL. Along the way, we sold our coats for fifty cents so we could buy small packages of chips to eat. We also cleaned the restrooms in a gas station in exchange for food.

In Jacksonville we desperately wanted a bed to sleep in, and after the Salvation Army turned us away (no room in the inn, so to speak), another angel appeared miraculously. This time the angel was a wino sitting on the sidewalk we were walking on. He asked for money. We snickered and explained our dire situation. By that time I had huge bleeding blisters on my heels and was in a lot of pain. The wino said we could stay in his place–one of those dingy, cheap hotel rooms. The wino-angel cleaned my feet and medicated my sores. He also cut the top part of my boots off, to below my blisters, so they would no longer rub my heels. He said I could sleep in the bed–a cot really–and he and my husband would sleep on the floor. Angel that the wino was, I was nevertheless afraid of him. I did not have a restful night. I slept with my eyes open. So did my husband. In the wee hours of the morning, we sneaked out of the hotel and left Jacksonville.

Crossing Florida to get to the Gulf side, to Vienna, FL, the home of the Ringling Circus, we slept one night in an abandoned motel and another night in the nursery of a church in Sarasota, courtesy of its pastor, whom we had asked for help. We walked many miles alongside orange groves, but we could only look at the oranges dangling from the trees. There were signs posted all along the way warning that if you were caught steeling even one orange, you would be shot. Of course, that’s not what the signs actually warned, but that was certainly the meaning.

When we finally reached our destination, full of hope, we found that not only was the circus away on tour but it wasn’t going to return for another six months. My optimism, my hope, shattered like glass around my feet. Walking across the empty arena, we could hear our footfalls echoing around us. I could swear I also heard the growling of my stomach echoing as well. This is the lesson I learned at that moment:

Hunger and thirst are synonymous with hopelessness. One has no hope when there is nothing to eat or drink. There is no future to think about. There is only the awful acceptance of the emptiness of the Now.


20 September, 2010

A Novice and His Master… (via Anamchara • The Website of Unknowing)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jacquelyn Judd @ 5:52 pm

A Novice and His Master... Readers of my blog may find this interesting: the story of Randy De Trinis, who explored monastic life at Gethsemani Abbey in the 1950s under the spiritual guidance of Thomas Merton. Although he did not stay at the monastery, his memoir reveals what an impact Merton had on his young life. In his own words: This is an articl … Read More

via Anamchara • The Website of Unknowing

7 February, 2009

AIDS Leadership Now–a poem

Filed under: AIDS, Poetry, Social Justice Issues — Tags: , , — Jacquelyn Judd @ 11:54 pm

I have written a poem for an art exhibition at my church, AIDS NOW: LEADERSHIP NOW. I would appreciate any comments. 


Why can’t they hear

The universal wailing

Rising from the depths

Of a soul, from the empty heart

Of a lover, a partner

Of a husband, a wife

Of a mother, a father

Of a sister, a brother

Of a daughter, a son

Of kin and friends

For ONE who has died of AIDS

ONE beloved, ONE of their own

Stolen by the heartless Evil

That is called AIDS?


Multiply that by thousands

In every continent in our world

The deafening tumult

Of broken hearts


Where is their comfort?

When will the stigma cease?

When will they get social justice

To make meaning of their grief?


Where is the leadership

To fund AIDS education?

Why has a cure for AIDS

Evaded scientists for so long?


If there is blame and shame

For this terrible disease

It belongs to the laboratories

Where scant efforts die


It belongs to the bureaucracy

And pharmaceutical companies

Where the aim is to make money

Not to discover a cure for AIDS


Where is the leadership

To monitor their actions?

How is donated money spent?

Why is no accounting required?


Where is the leadership

That is so desperately needed?

Can’t they hear the pleading in

That deafening universal wail?








11 December, 2008

So I’m not a good blogger

Filed under: Diseases — Tags: , — Jacquelyn Judd @ 10:20 pm

I’ll get better at this, I promise! I’m on Facebook, where I write short notes about what I’m doing and read short notes about what my friends are doing, but this is different. I guess maybe if I imagine that  anyone who might read this is a friend of mine, I can do it.


So, friend, I’ll start by telling you about my present preoccupation. My mother is dying of uterine cancer, and of course it is hard on me and the rest of my family. My mom is 87, and my dad is 92, so I’ve been preparing myself for their passing for some time now, but to watch my mom in pain is difficult. My mom’s fortitude is amazing. She is not giving up easily. Both she and my dad, as well as my two sisters apparently, are people who see only what they want to see. That was great when I was a teenager—I got away with a lot! But now, I feel alone and too responsible. My sister who lives closest to mom and dad takes them to their doctor appointments, etc., but all three of them neglect mentioning important symptoms and forget the doctor’s instructions, so I can’t find out anything, and I am so frustrated. My mom has hospice care, which is a real blessing. She gets to stay in her home and with her husband of 68 years. Although it is difficult for me to be left out of the loop, I am having to trust that she is getting all of the care she needs from them.


World AIDS Day just passed (1 Dec.), which also makes me remember dear friends who died of AIDS. The next art exhibition that we’re planning to open at my church in January is entitled AIDS Now: Leadership Now. Leadership has been the theme for World AIDS Day for the last three years, and we want to express the need for leadership in the AIDS crisis in our art. The AIDS crisis is still growing globally, in the United States as well as in the more publicized countries: India and Africa. I read an article a few days ago that revealed that the latest group showing increases in HIV/AIDS is the elderly. However, HIV was detected in a large number of students in a high school here in St. Louis. The media excitedly spread the news at once, then suddenly went silent. It’s as if someone influential told them to shut up about it, probably because too many parents were becoming alarmed. How stupid is that? Clearly there is a great need for leadership in keeping the HIV/AIDS problem in the forefront in the media and in insisting on ongoing search for remedies.

These two diseases, cancer and AIDS, are Evil. They are the worst public enemies (besides the Bush Administration) in the world. They are the terrorists that should receive the most attention.


I won’t apologize for posting a doom-and-gloom message today, because these issues are very real and need at least as much attention as global warming, obesity in the United States, hurricanes and tsunamis, earthquakes. and the torture of suspected terrorists—all of which are real enemies of the people as well.

15 November, 2008

I’m Ba-a-ack!

Filed under: Books, Poetry — Tags: , , — Jacquelyn Judd @ 12:17 am

I have been neglecting my blog lately, but I’m back. I had too many interferences: reading tons of e-mails, writing letters, and just being totally passionate about the elections (and the results made my efforts worthwhile!); I did some volunteer work for the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (E4GR), which focusses on fulfilling the MDGs, from which I got much satisfaction but also proof that my disabilities are very real—I couldn’t move for two days afterwards; my son moved in with me—temporarily I hope—which robbed me of some of my space. Regarding the latter, I lost my space where I ate breakfast and read poetry every morning. I also do my longhand writing in that space. I’m still trying to adjust and to get back to my regular schedule. Another interference was illness—I spent several days in bed nursing myself back to health. I’m glad to be back here!


I finished Voodoo Dreams by Jewell Parker Rhodes. I could barely tear myself away from it toward the end of the book. I was in one of those states when you are anxiously wanting to know the ending but you are also not wanting the book to end. I recommend reading this book. Although I have resolved to use the word “love” as a verb sparingly and thoughtfully, I must say that I loved this book! Luckily, Rhodes has more recently written two books of a trilogy that moves the voodoo scenario from the early 19th century to the 21st century: Voodoo Season and Yellow Moon. (I met the author when she visited my favorite local independent book store, Left Bank Books, to read from and sign Yellow Moon.) I’ve started Voodoo Season.


Also, I have taken a break from Poet’s Choice, my recent breakfast poetry book, to read from Jane Kenyon’s Collected Poems (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2005). My “boss” for the volunteer work I did recently recommended Jane Kenyon to me. I’m glad she did!


I do that occasionally—take a break from Poet’s Choice. The last time I did, I read Grace Paley’s last poems in Fidelity (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), which were hauntingly beautiful. I have since ordered her collected short stories. I have read some her works before; I remember reading them in Women’s Studies courses in college.


Perhaps I have indeed recovered from the presidential election and am now getting back to “normal.”


20 October, 2008

protest poetry

Filed under: Poetry — Tags: , — Jacquelyn Judd @ 8:37 am

Recently I wrote about what I am reading. I didn’t I mention that my favorite poetry is protest poetry. My favorite poet is Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This morning I read a really good poem (part of a poem, actually) of this genre in Poet’s Choice by Edward Hirsch (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2006). It is a section of a poem by Saadi Youssef, “America, America,” from Without an Alphabet, Without a Face (translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa, Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2002). Hirsch writes (p. 138) that Youssef wrote the poem “in 1995 in direct response to the hardship and suffering faced by the Iraqis under sanctions instigated by the United States.” I share it here:



  I too love jeans and jazz and Treasure Island

  and John Silver’s parrot and the balconies of New Orleans.

  I love Mark Twain and the Mississippi steamboats and Abraham

       Lincoln’s dogs.

  I love the fields of wheat and corn and the smell of Virginia


  But I am not American.

  Is that enough for the Phantom pilot to turn me back to the Stone


  I need neither oil nor America herself, neither the elephant nor the


  Leave me, pilot, leave my house roofed with palm fronds and this

       wooden bridge.

  I need neither your Golden Gate nor your skyscrapers.

  I need the village, not New York.

  Why did you come to me from your Nevada desert, soldier armed

       to the teeth?

  Why did you come all the way to distant Basra, where fish used to

       swim by our doorsteps?

  Pigs do not forage here.

  I have only these water buffaloes lazily chewing on water lilies.

  Leave me alone, soldier.

  Leave me my floating cane hut and my fishing spear.

  Leave me my migrating birds and the green plumes.

  Take your roaring iron birds and your Tomahawk missles. I am

       not your foe.

  I am the one who wades up to the knees in rice paddies.

  Leave me to my curse.

  I do not need your day of doom.



1 October, 2008

Books I’m Currently Reading

Filed under: Books — Tags: — Jacquelyn Judd @ 4:51 am

I have been busy online this week writing letters to my representive and senators about the bailout and reading many articles about this hot issue. But I am trying to get some other reading in as well. I’ll share my reading “schedule” here as well as what I am currently reading.

I like to say I have poetry for breakfast, because I’ve been doing that for awhile now. Right now I am reading Edward Hirsch’s Poet’s Choice while eating my oatmeal every morning. This is a great book for finding out about many good poets. Hirsch gives a history about a poet then gives at least one sample poem written by that poet. Occasionally instead of writing about one poet, he writes about an age or a topic, giving samples of poets who have written in that period or about that topic. The first chapter in the book, for example, is “Nightingales.” (That one inspired me to try to find out just what a nightingale’s song sounds like. Unfortunately, all I could find out was that there are no nightingales in the U.S.–they are in England.) Another example of a topic is “Women and War.” I read poetry very slowly, usually just one or maybe two poems for breakfast. I like to retain the taste of the poem I’ve read for awhile.

Lately I’ve added another breakfast item that I’ll call meditation. Currently I’m reading Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing, edited by Robert Inchausti. I have been attending a Thomas Merton Group at my church that uses a series of eight booklets under the title bridges to contemplative living with thomas merton. The title desribes the purpose of the group. I wanted to add to that reading of Thomas Moore. I’m calling the reading of Thomas Moore in the morning “meditation” because it helps start my day in a higher frame of mind. It is said that a good breakfast is necessary to sustain your body throughout your morning activities; poetry and meditation for breakfast sustains my mind and spirit. I really should add them to my lunches and dinners as well.

At bedtime, I am currently reading Voodoo Dreams by Jewell Parker Rhodes. OK, it is a complete opposite type of reading than I do in the morning, but I’m loving this book. I met the author at a booksigning event at Left Bank Books (my favorite local independent bookstore), and we have developed an e-mail relationship since then. Anyway, as the title suggests, it is about a real-life Voodoo Queen in New Orleans in the mid-1880s. It is a historical fiction drawn from the pages of a journal kept by a white man who was quite obsessed with the beauty of the woman he met one time before she became the Voodoo Queen. I am about two-thirds of the way through the book and the two have just bumped into each other for the second time. Their relationship is the “heartbeat” of the novel in creating its underlying tension. The snippets from the man’s journal that head most of the chapters keeps the tension alive. My secret self loves dark subjects like this as well as mysteries. I can move through these types of books quickly.

In between dawn and dusk I am reading David Sirota’s The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington. I met David at LBB too, when he gave a reading of this book a few months ago. He has since become my favorite political writer (his books have made the New York Times Bestseller List) AND progressive activist. He’s on the board of Campaign for America’s Future (aka Our Future). He’s on TV a lot, usually counterpointing some Republican, and he recently joined Michael Moore on Meet the Bloggers on the internet. I can’t remember if they shared time with a counterpointer or if the moderator just asked significant probing questions, but it was good. Anyway, it is taking me a long time to read his book partly because I read articles by him almost daily on the internet and partly because I don’t have a set time to read this book–it’s a catch-as-catch-can situation.

Finally, my last daily “reading” is done while I’m watching TV–usually these art books and magazines are really picture books that don’t really require much reading. I think I do this reading while “watching” TV because I don’t want to waste my time by watching TV. However there are a couple of weekly TV series I don’t want to miss, and I love the old movies on cable TV. Anyway, the art book I’m reading now is Stefan Bollmann’s Women Who Read Are Dangerous. Despite this sexist belief, a lot of artists from the middle ages to the present time have painted or drawn sketches of women in the act of reading. The author gives a historical blurb about each painting, but this is definitely a lovely picture book.

And that’s the end of this topic!

27 September, 2008

Rating the Debates

Filed under: 2008 Elections — Tags: — Jacquelyn Judd @ 12:20 pm

I got involved in rating the debates through Free Press, which meant I had to watch them tonight. Overall, I was disappointed that essentially only two topics were offered for debate by Jim Lehrer, whom I respect greatly as a journalist. Although he asked eight questions, all of them were about the current financial crisis in the U.S. or wars (in Iraq, in Afghanistan, potentially with Pakistan and Iran, and the Russia/Georgia conflict). Nothing new was revealed about either candidate. The purpose of the rating is to evaluate the media coverage, demanding the moderators to ask relevant questions. Lehrer passed that test, in my opinion, but there are too many questions left unanswered about foreign policy. As a member of ONE, I wrote a letter to Lehrer last week, asking him to ask the candidates to address at least one question about the issue of global poverty. He didn’t, and they didn’t offer any ideas on their own (although they did manage to talk about health care, jobs, education, alternative energy sources/off-shore drilling and other topics, during their discussion on the financial crisis). McCain’s favorite phrase of the night was “Obama doesn’t get it” about any topic. Obviously his strategy is quite simple: he goes way back (he even quoted Eisenhower) and has much more experience. And he does–in a corrupt government.

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