Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Crow's Voice

"Early Spring in the Field"

The crow's voice filtered through the walls of the farmhouse
makes sounds of a rusty car engine turning over. Clouds on a
north wind that whistles softly and cold. Spruce trees planted
in a line on the south side of the house weave and scrape at the
air. I've walked to a far field to a fence line of rocks where I am
surprised to see soft mud this raw day. No new tracks in the
mud, only desiccated grass among the rocks, a bare grove of
trees in the distance, a blue sky thin as an eggshell with a crack
of dark geese running through it, their voices faint and almost
troubled as they disappear in a wedge that has opened at last
the cold heart of winter.

~ Tom Hennen from Darkness Sticks to Everything, Copper Canyon Press, 2013.

Painting by Andrew Wyeth

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Five Forty Five This Morning

Had Buddy not sat up beside the bed
Had he not, in my hesitation, placed his paw on my outstretched arm
Had he not then followed me half asleep down the morning hall
Had he not led me outside where we stood on the porch together
We might have missed it
Its large cat body striding silently in shadow past the not yet blooming lilacs
Yes, some days are like that
You have to get out of bed before sunrise
Or you might miss the thing you asked for
The thing you're meant to see
Moving through the world with certainty and grace.

A photograph of my Buddy, keeping watch ...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Trap Or a Blessing

Several years ago, I had a vivid dream in which two of my sisters and I were in a burned out house. We were standing in the charred doorway, next to charred windows, wearing white clothing that was also charred. It had the appearance of an old black and white photograph. It was unsettling at the time because I didn't understand it and was concerned it might be prophetic. Now, I see it in another light, another perspective offered by "time." When I came across this poem the other day, I was reminded of that dream and how I have come to see "time" as simultaneous, not really time at all, but a montage of images based on my perceptions, that I am creating my "reality," and I am always free to choose how I am going to perceive it. Always. I honestly don't believe there are any exceptions.

"Morning In the Burned House"

In the burned house I am eating breakfast.
You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,
yet here I am.

The spoon which was melted scrapes against
the bowl which was melted also.
No one else is around.

Where have they gone to, brother and sister,
mother and father? Off along the shore,
perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,

their dishes piled beside the sink,
which is beside the woodstove
with its grate and sooty kettle,

every detail clear,
tin cup and rippled mirror.
The day is bright and songless,

the lake is blue, the forest watchful.
In the east a bank of cloud
rises up silently like dark bread.

I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,
I can see the flaws in the glass,
those flares where the sun hits them.

I can't see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything

in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,

including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,

bare child's feet on the scorched floorboards
(I can almost see)
in my burning clothes, the thin green shorts

and grubby yellow T-shirt
holding my cindery, non-existent,
radiant flesh. Incandescent.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Oligarchs and Plutocrats and PsychoClowns

I was looking for a way to express my feelings about this latest ruling by the Supreme Court Justices (I use that term loosely), found this image over at One Fly's place ... and nabbed it. You know how I feel about clowns, so this was not easy to bring over to my site, but nothing exists more apropos. These clowns are destroying our democracy, such as it is, through a not-so-slow dismantling of everything we were led to believe this country stands for; they are publicly handing it over (as opposed to the previous, more private means) to the oligarchs and plutocrats who have long been in charge, maybe always, and ... here we are. I shall now restrain myself from using a lot of swear words.

One Fly's blog:

Thank you, One Fly!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mark Twain and The Beach Boys

Yesterday afternoon, the plumber was here for a couple of hours. The fixings under my kitchen sink fell apart as I was fixing breakfast.  Normally, I try to do these things myself, but I had to admit bitter defeat on this one. It didn't take him long, so, while he was here, I had him change out a bathroom faucet that had been waiting for just such a day. Things not being quite up to today's standards in my little shanty, it required an extra trip to the shop for adaptable parts.

At the end of his stay, he felt obliged to inform me that my driveway was getting hard to navigate. One look out the kitchen window told me that: large mud puddles where none had been in any previous so-called spring. I could see my spring chore list growing as we spoke. Ruts would need to be dealt with. But, that was yesterday and today I can't see any of that for all the additional white stuff that's blowing around the driveway and piling up on the porch. Adding to the fun, as I peacefully slept, ice formed to a measurable tune. And, Daddy has taken the T-Bird away.

To help me find some humor I turned to Mark Twain. You can count on him to bring an amusing perspective to just about any situation. I found his speech to the New England Society regarding changeable weather, transplanted his thoughts to my neck of the woods, and voila! Smiles and nods of recognition to the rescue. For now.

"In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours." Mark Twain

Here it is, in case you could use a a few chuckles this morning:

Plus, a song by The Beach Boys to cheer one's weather weary soul.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Short Trip In the WABAC Machine

When I woke this morning and stretched into the day, I realized this very long, very cold winter was receding into memory, that summer will arrive, as it always has, and the red-winged blackbirds will return.

As a reminder of what is to come, I played the youtube video created by my friend, JB, using photographs I'd taken of this beautiful land I'm honored to call home. While playing it, I noticed another video on the sidebar that looked like fun. And it was. It's a short trip in the WABAC machine. What a wonderful moment between two great artists in their prime. I thought you might enjoy it, too. Linda and Johnny:

And, here is the original post and video:

The photograph is mine.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Compass in Your Heart

The public radio station, KAXE, has again played one of my poems on their morning program, The Beat.  I am so honored to be included in this fine group of poets, and am very much looking forward to the live reading on the evening of April 11th. I include a link to the poem here and also the original post:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Love of a Lynx

About two weeks ago, I was working on two poems - poems I had originally put on Twitter - wanting to combine them into one. One of the poems came about due to a plate I have hanging in my kitchen of a lynx in snow with a rabbit beneath its paw, a plate my mother once had hanging in her kitchen. It was a gift from her sister, who had traveled to Norway. I was thinking about finding an image to illustrate the poem on my poetry blog and thought how nice it would be to have my own photo to use. I had never seen a lynx but had occasionally heard them in the woods near our farm when I was a very young girl, a bone chilling cry as though the cry of a baby lost in the woods. I thought even seeing and being able to photograph footprints would be nice although from where I was sitting it didn't seem possible. I let it go.

A couple of hours later, I just got up from the computer and walked over to the window that looks out over my back yard. Right at that moment, a lynx came from the old chicken coop/garden shed and moved across the open space into the pine trees at the meadow's edge. I could hardly believe my eyes. I watched, hoping it would come out of the trees so I could see it again and make certain it was, indeed, a lynx, rather than a bobcat. I knew it wasn't a cougar, as it was definitely spotted with a shorter tail. Just as I wished for this, I saw it come from the edge of the trees, walking towards my woodshed. By this time, I had fetched my father's field glasses and got a closer look. It definitely had the longer legs and tufted ears of a lynx. It disappeared into the darkness of my woodshed, probably looking for a meal of mice among the wood. I watched it lie just inside the shed, behind the snowbank in front of the doorway. I went online and did some research on them, and felt relieved that it was very unlikely to bother Buddy, who was tethered at the front of the house, although I did keep a very good eye on Buddy while he was out there. I went back to watching it for awhile, but don't know when it left; eventually, I had to get on with my day.

I might have thought I was seeing things, except I just happened to look out the next day and there it was again, leaving the area by the woodshed and moving back across the open space to the coop/garden shed. I grabbed my camera and got two very poor images, my own personal evidence that I hadn't lost my mind. I wondered if she might stick around, maybe even give birth in the shed among the straw bales. I sure hope so. I decided to not let my curiosity get the best of me, but to stay away and let her have her space.

The significance for me has not been lost. I'm not certain how the world works, what the true nature of reality is, but I do wonder ... was it my own manifestation, was I seeing what I needed to see? Did I create it in that moment, as I suspect we do with all our moments? Was it a message from my mother, or perhaps even my great grandmother, who has brought me messages in visions/dreams before? I do know something quite wonderful happened and I don't need to have answers so much as I need and want to be grateful. It has been the springboard for healing, both emotional and physical. The strength and grace with which the lynx moved gave me the insight I needed to walk in this world with the same sense of strength and grace. It showed me what I needed to see and it provided me with a deep sense of caring and love that the world itself brings to us when we simply ask.

Here is the micropoem which brought me to this wonderful experience:

The photograph of the chicken coop is mine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Making Room for a New Perspective

Normally I would say, 'Don't mess with perfection," but then I ran across something this morning in my pursuit of an image to illustrate a poem and had to make room for a new perspective. Serena Malyon, an illustrator, has taken several paintings by Vincent van Gogh and, using Photoshop, created what is known as the tilt shift. I'm fascinated by them and immediately wanted to share them with you.

Addendum: I've also posted my poem, "Vincent In Another Life," at my poetry blog with another image:

Here are the sites where I found them and more information regarding their creation:

Friday, February 28, 2014

Staying Sane But That's Just My Opinion

I now have had three of my micro-poetry readings featured on NPR's Minnesota affiliate, KAXE. I've added the links over on my poetry blog, at the individual posts for each poem, but decided to add them here, as well. I include the dates they were aired along with a direct link to each.

November 26th "Goat Man"

February 3rd "My Father's Thermos"

February 25th "On the Banks of the Knife River"

In other (related) news, I'm one of ten Minnesota poets who have been invited to participate in a live two hour broadcast on this same station on April 11th. I will give a link to this as the time nears if anyone would like to tune in.

It's been a long, cold winter and poetry is keeping me sane ... well, so far so good, I guess ...

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Little Bit of Light

When I think of all those who brought a bit of light and what they endured to do so, fighting their own demons along the way, I am most grateful to them. Their passing from this world was often as painful as the time spent here. I hope their hearts are at rest.

"Beasts Bounding Through Time"

Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into a propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by the Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility  the impossibility
Nietzche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward

~ Charles Bukowski, from You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes

Painting: Landscape Under a Stormy Sky, Vincent van Gogh, 1888

Friday, February 7, 2014

I'm Next Door

If you're looking for me, I'm probably next door, at my micropoetry blog. Everything there gets winnowed down, reduced to the moment, or even the essence of the moment. It's been a cold winter ... hope you all are staying safe and warm.

You may also click the link on my sidebar, or the image above it ... it will also take you there ...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Traveling by Starlight

In my life, many years have been spent traveling I-80 or I-90, heading west to explore or, later, going between my two lives, the one in Minnesota where most of my family and my two sons remained, and Santa Fe where I spent most of the oughts.

Many times I would travel through the night. I liked the feeling of being out there under the stars, me, myself, and a whole lot of eighteen wheelers. It felt as though an unspoken camaraderie had been established and I felt comforted by this.

Occasionally a rest stop was in order or, on more than one occasion, an exit that led to a closed gas station where I would wait with others who couldn't quite make it through the night. I kept the car locked and my antennae up, but I always felt safe in the company of my fellow travelers.

One night, I assisted a family trying to make it to Cheyenne and the promise of a job. Their note on the door of the rest stop bathroom told me what I needed to do. I told their story here:

When I opened my morning email to this poem, I was reminded of those times. For right now, I'm very glad to be snug and warm here in my home and not on the road to somewhere. But I sure do like this poem:


It's so late I could cut my lights
and drive the next fifty miles
of empty interstate
by starlight,
flying along in a dream,
countryside alive with shapes and shadows,
but exit ramps lined
with eighteen wheelers
and truckers sleeping in their cabs
make me consider pulling into a rest stop
and closing my eyes. I've done it before,
parking next to a family sleeping in a Chevy,
mom and dad up front, three kids in the back,
the windows slightly misted by the sleepers' breath.
But instead of resting, I'd smoke a cigarette,
play the radio low, and keep watch over
the wayfarers in the car next to me,
a strange paternal concern
and compassion for their well being
rising up inside me.
This was before
I had children of my own,
and had felt the sharp edge of love
and anxiety whenever I tiptoed
into darkened rooms of sleep
to study the small, peaceful faces
of my beloved darlings. Now,
the fatherly feelings are so strong
the snoring truckers are lucky
I'm not standing on the running board,
tapping on the window,
asking, Is everything okay?
But it is. Everything's fine.
The trucks are all together, sleeping
on the gravel shoulders of exit ramps,
and the crowded rest stop I'm driving by
is a perfect oasis in the moonlight.
The way I see it, I've got a second wind
and on the radio an all-night country station.
Nothing for me to do on this road
but drive and give thanks:
I'll be home by dawn.

~ Richard Jones, from The Correct Spelling and Exact Meaning. © Copper Canyon Press, 2010

Photograph by J M Hare

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shining Through the Years

Several years ago, when I first arrived in Santa Fe, I met a man who loved poetry even more than I and we spent more than a few evenings reading to each other. He introduced several poems to me, including this one by William Stafford, which has a bit of melancholy woven through its beauty. My friend made a copy for me to take home. Yesterday, while rummaging through loose bits of poetry, I found it and decided to share it with you: Christmas in its tone, but timeless in its question.

"Childish Things"

When they light the candles a little propeller
turns the angels around and around.

They are of gold, of thin metal,
with a trumpet held in front of each mouth,

And a sound that comes when a tiny chain
drags across a silvery chime.

Flecks of light dance on the ceiling
from figures that gleam as they pass the flame.

That sight, that sound, that warm candle
shine through the years. You look out the window:

What are you doing with the years that shine
around and around when the angels come?

~ William Stafford

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Food for Thought

Bound by the cold, Buddy and I are spending our days cuddling, reading and writing poetry (he's a very good listener), and eating soup from the slow cooker. Today I make bread. Then, more poetry. Forgive my foolish ways. Nothing else is speaking to me now. My new favorite:

"Beyond the Red River"

The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.

A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.

Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.

~ Thomas McGrath

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Glen Campbell State of Mind

It's snowing, Buddy's lying on my bed by the window, it's getting dark, and I'm in a Glen Campbell state of mind ...

I hope he's doing well ...

A link to my previous post on Glen:

Friday, November 29, 2013

To Keep the Sun Coming Up Every Day

From one of my favorite poets:


There's no use in regret. You can't change anything.
Your mother died unhappy with the way you turned
out. You and your father were not on speaking terms
when he died, and you left your wife for no good
reason. Well, it's past. You may as well regret missing
out on the conquest of Mexico. That would have been
just your kind of thing back when you were eighteen:
a bunch of murderous Spaniards, out to destroy a
culture and get rich. On the other hand, the Aztecs
were no great shakes either. It's hard to know whom
to root for in this situation. The Aztecs thought they
had to sacrifice lots of people to keep the sun coming
up every day. And it worked. The sun rose every day.
But it was backbreaking labor, all that sacrificing.
The priests had to call in the royal family to help,
and their neighbors, the gardener, the cooks.... You
can see how this is going to end. You are going to
have your bloody, beating heart ripped out, but you
are going to have to stand in line, in the hot sun, for
hours, waiting your turn.

~Louis Jenkins, from Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems. Will o' the Wisp Books, 2013

Louis Jenkins is an American poet living in Duluth, Minnesota. You'll find other poems by him at the archival link for The Beat. Yes, my poem is in good company.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Beat in Northern Minnesota

Tomorrow morning, between 7:30 and 8:00, the NPR station for northern Minnesota, KAXE, will be featuring my poem, "The Goat Man," on their program, The Beat. Here is a link to their page where you can live stream it on your computer at that time or check out the archives where it will be added after a day or two:

They will be featuring other poems, as well. I will give you a head's up when I know the dates.

Here is the post containing the poem:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Winter Coming On

Maybe it's this stage of life, or maybe it's just winter coming on, but I find these images by Steve McCurry oddly comforting ... yes, the threshold of the new: