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November 2019

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Judy Hardin Cheung was born and lives in Santa Rosa, CA, USA. She is a retired teacher who specialized in teaching profoundly, multiple disabled people. She has been published and has received many awards for her poetry over the past 40 years from many different organizations and countries. Currently, she is the executive vice president of United Poets Laureate International, president of Poets of the Vineyard, vice president of Artists Embassy International, contest chair for the Dancing Poetry Festival, and secretary of the Redwood Empire Chinese Association. She was also president of the 24th World Congress of Poets held in Rohnert Park, CA.

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I see you. I do, I do!
Do you see me as them or we?
I see you as you see me
as a mask and little more
until no one is them
and all of us is we.

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I am told, “Make a joyful noise,”
And so I shall, with all my heart.
And my heart will be filled with light:
The light of my homeland
The light of modern comfort
And the light from beyond
All earthly sources.
I shall make a joyful noise.

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The first rains have passed.
Backyard cushions have dried out.
While putting them away, sadly I find
tangled in the ties, wrapped in spider webs,
the dried husk of an orange dragon fly.

For the past few years, I have searched
my fish pond, lily pads, pond-side plants,
no longer finding my exotically beautiful, transient friends.
In other yards, there are bright blue dragonflies,
but these, to my delight, were bright orange.

"Were," "have been," "was," are words of desperate finality.
They were so uniquely lovely.
They have been gone from where I was pleased to see them.
Yet now, I see they are no longer "has been."
This dried carcass lets me know
there is hope they could return this coming spring

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I rest my eyes while working on the computer.
My screen turns dark. I space out while watching
the automatic slide show from "My Pictures:"
my quiet, conventional, low key life that is rapidly slowing due to advancing age:

a potluck dinner with friends on a lawn
a woman dancing with her shadow
two poets at a podium
three friends chatting
backyard BBQ for 4th of July
children doing dragon dance practice
color chips for my remodeled bathroom
cooking class making pot stickers
teen dancers on stage in San Francisco...Santa Rosa...Rohnert Park
an audience during intermission
a big bug on a bright yellow flower
photo of oil painting portrait for a book cover
breakfast at a World Congress of Poets
a table of friends administering relief for a disastrous fire
Nicaragua volcanoes
dancing on the Great Wall of China
smiles surrounded by flowers in Thailand
my back yard blossoms
I receive a poetry award from a Philippine senator

The screen goes black again
I contemplate what I just voyeured ...
my own life that is rapidly slowing due to advancing age.
My own life of which I am pleased.

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Here I sit after midnight looking into a campfire
reminiscing about my great-grandparents
and contemplating the day that is at hand.
Yesterday is today so
today is now tomorrow,
and I wonder what the dawn will bring.

For eons, we have been immersed in violence.
For millennia, we have lived to serve ourselves.
For decades war has been of a scope more devastating than
other generations could ever have conceived.

With the rings of the wood in the campfire,
I see yesterday burning in flames.
I need to discard the current reign of fire and fear
to enter the age where I live by the wisdom
conveyed by the unfulfilled words of my forbearers: I will
   Love all people, even those who are different from myself,
   Respect every culture and language,
  Understand that I am no better or worse than any other person,
  Embrace all people as created equal as well as different,
  Practice that everyone should have an equal opportunity
           for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For the sake of my grandchildren I will put into practice
         “…with liberty and justice for all.”

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She walks through the museum like a queen
garbed in a royal purple coat, as if
crowned with a spiritual spire reaching heavenward.
Seeking food and drink, she passes a statue
of an ancient woman offering sustenance.
Her life is filled with passion, longing,
giving, receiving, love, loss, friends, family
uncertainty, various insecurities and recent death.
Yet she walks like a queen today
because her reality is of love, joy
and overcoming obstacles.

Another walked this same path, on the same day.
Shabbily dressed, with a cane
she tottered with her needs annoying her.
She could not see the offerings of antiquity.
She did not see the opulence of today.
She focused only on the distance between
her wants and her unsatisfactory fulfillment.

Two walked the same path today.
One said “Thank you.”
The other wondered why

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