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Cottage Industry

"Working class cottages always held the laborers."

Published onJan 24, 2024
Cottage Industry

Photo by Samuel Sweet:

Working class cottages
hold no interest for speculators,
or those who wish to restore
the elegance of nineteenth century
high-button splendor,
top hats and tails, calling cards in the foyer.

Working class cottages
always held the laborers.
Factory workers on the line---
Eastman Kodak assembly, Bausch
and Lomb, Hickey Freeman immigrant hands
stitching suits and making buttons.

Working class cottages
raised up those who washed
other people’s clothes
in other people’s kitchens,
fed other people’s children,
came home to hungry mouths of their own,
crying “Mama, mama”
poor tired Mama
working fingers to the bone.

Working class cottages,
no gingerbread trim
no turrets, no parquet floors,
nothing to restore except
strength so the body can work
soundness so the mind can continue
in a top-down society
where Queen Annes become gentrified
and the workers run down,
painted ladies wait at the table
while servants sweep the floor

But working class cottages still
stand in rows of solidarity;
a comforter of many colors in a shelter
against the storm, while the
Victorian tiered fortresses adorn the
National Registry---they cannot be altered,
while the cottages adapt, evolve,
diverse, united, and strong.

Diane Funston co-founded a women's poetry salon in San Diego, created a weekly poetry gathering in the high desert town of Tehachapi, CA and most recently has been the Yuba-Sutter Arts and Culture Poet-in-Residence for the past two years. It is in this role she created Poetry Square, a monthly online venue that features poets from all the world reading their work and discussing creative process. She has been published in Last Stanza, Synkronicity, California Quarterly, Whirlwind, San Diego Poetry Annual, Summation, Tule Review, Lake Affect Magazine, Meat for Tea, and other literary journals. Her first chapbook, “Over the Falls” was published this July 2022 from Foothills Publishing. Diane is also a visual artist in mosaic, wool felting, and collage. Her pieces have been in galleries in the Sacramento Valley.

                 Inner City Home, Rochester, New York

In the city of Frederick Douglas;

above the painful echoes

of Underground Railroad,

below the path of the drinking gourd,

Young men kill one another

gun down hard fought ideals

give power to the new Master,

the meth and the crack

across young backs

like the forebear's whipped lashes

tracks on arms trace

new cruel slavery.

Across Harriet Tubman's land,

violence is the new crop

sticks to souls like cotton,

to scarred hands once before

reaching out to God,

now to the weapons

of class destruction.

Under city street lights

the call and response

of gunshots to sirens

penetrate the humid air,

color the night red,

flow of youthful blood---

glow of screaming top light---

Another night's statistic

in the city of Frederick Douglas.

Diane Funston

                    Yearly Visit Home

The smoke-hued vinyl window shades

half-mast once again,

Every annual visit, olive drapes, old furniture,

1970's in all but rebellion.

Behind the shades is Technicolor.

Bold.  Alive.  Beckoning.

Photos on the wall, my kids' grade-school pictures.

Dogs of hers that have passed,

replaced with dogs that look the same.

To move them would betray lighter wallpaper.

People say, "Your Mom is just getting older".

I remember her always like this.

Afraid to risk.  To change.  To do it differently.

I go out everyday, drink in the city.

Hear what's changed, what hasn't.

Drive through the green lake country.

I arrive back, tv blaring, always watching the weather.

Predictable.  Warm.  Moist.  Thunder.  Cicadas singing.

I tell her where I went during the day.

Neither of us pull up the window shades.

Diane Funston


                                      Or, How I Became a Poet

Strange vampire of the sun,

I sought and sucked

every dappled drop of sunlit space.

Gorging myself on light,

peculiar bat in flight by day,

eschewing dim cave companions

I moved stealthily

to side-step shadows.

Draping my velvet cloak

over bones cold as ash

when distanced from

sun’s luminary libido.

Wearily, I searched on overcast days,

clouded quests forcing me

to turn inward.

Fanning embers with my satin wings

giving warm-blooded life

to long lost memories---

still pulsing,

still painful.

Warmth not as easy

as embracing the sunlight

and stealing the heat

needed to survive.

My wings evolved to fingers,

holding firm the pen,

dribbling words to paper.

Poems in vampire's blood,

not circulating naturally,

but sucked from sources

surrounding  me

Diane Funston

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