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:
http://teresaevangeline.blogspot.com/2011/08/ghost-on-canvas.html


Friday, November 29, 2013

To Keep the Sun Coming Up Every Day


From one of my favorite poets:

"Regret"

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.

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:
http://www.kaxe.org/programs/the-beat.aspx

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:
http://teresaevangelinespoetry.blogspot.com/2013/11/for-goat-man.html





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:

 http://stevemccurry.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/threshold-of-the-new/






Sunday, November 10, 2013

Becoming Masters of Simplicity





Humanity grows more and more intelligent, yet there 
   is clearly more trouble and less happiness daily. 
How can this be so?
It is because intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom. 

When a society misuses partial intelligence and 

   ignores holistic wisdom, its people forget the 
   benefits of a plain and natural life.
Seduced by their desires, emotions, and egos, they 
   become slaves to bodily demands, to luxuries, to 
   power and unbalanced religion and psychological 
   excuses.
Then the reign of calamity and confusion begins. 

Nonetheless, superior people can awaken during times 

   of turmoil to lead others out of the mire. 
But how can the one liberate the many? 
By first liberating his own being. 
He does this not by elevating himself, but by lowering 
   himself.
He lowers himself to that which is simple, modest, 
   true; integrating it into himself, he becomes a 
   master of simplicity, modesty, truth.

Completely emancipated from his former false life, he 

   discovers his original pure nature, which is the pure 
   nature of the universe.
Freely and spontaneously releasing his divine energy, 
   he constantly transcends complicated situations and 
   draws everything around him back into an integral 
   oneness. 
Because he is a living divinity, when he acts, the universe acts.  

~ LaoTzu





Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where It Is Always Asia


This is a more-than-normal self-indulgent post as I love horses and I love Raymond Carver. Well, I love his writing and what I know of him, or think I know. He had a way of expressing moments of our shared lives that were either very unsettling or very affirming and often both at once. His poem, "Asia," for reasons I can't explain other than my pure love for horses and the ocean, is among my favorites.

I spent the spring of 2010 at a house on the Atlantic in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I can still feel the pressing of waves against my heart as I stood on the shore watching. One day I walked out in time to see riders on horses as they made their way down the beach. I stood in awe of what felt like an incredible gift from the world itself.


"Asia"

It’s good to live near the water.
Ships pass so close to land
a man could reach out
and break a branch from one of the willow trees
that grow here. Horses run wild
down by the water, along the beach.
If the men on board wanted, they could
fashion a lariat and throw it
and bring one of the horses on deck.
Something to keep them company
for the long journey East.
From my balcony I can read the faces
of the men as they stare at the horses,
the trees, and two-story houses.
I know what they’re thinking
when they see a man waving from a balcony,
his red car in the drive below.
They look at him and consider themselves
lucky. What a mysterious piece
of good fortune, they think, that’s brought
them all this way to the deck of a ship
bound for Asia. Those years of doing odd jobs,
or working in warehouses, or longshoring,
or simply hanging out on the docks,
are forgotten about. Those things happened
to other, younger men,
if they happened at all.
The men on board
raise their arms and wave back.
Then stand still, gripping the rail,
as the ship glides past. The horses
move from under the trees and into the sun.
They stand like statues of horses.
Watching the ship as it passes.
Waves breaking against the ship.
Against the beach. And in the mind
of the horses, where
it is always Asia.

~ Raymond Carver







Friday, November 1, 2013

Toy Soldiers



We seem to spend a lot of time thinking about the transitions young girls face as they go from childhood to womanhood. We have not spent as much time considering the challenges boys face as they enter manhood; the expectations and fears it surely must engender are all too often taken for granted. I did  not grow up having to think about what would happen if a war came and I was called to "duty." It should not be anyone's duty to kill for us or destroy an enemy we have not come to know. At one time, a long time ago now, soldiers were required to know their enemy. They had to learn about their culture; who they were as a people. It was only a slightly more honorable way to enter battle, if one can ever use the word honor as it relates to killing one's fellow beings, no matter the accepted reason.

When my oldest son was young, in that between place around age thirteen, he and a friend were behind the house one summer day playing with toy soldiers. They lined them up on the rock wall and went through whatever scenarios faux soldiers go through on their way to victory. I could barely hear them from inside the house and didn't pay it a lot of mind. I knew my son and life as a soldier was not being entertained as an acceptable future. They were just playing, I told myself, as I had done with toy cowboys and Indians on the floor of the living room a whole lot of years earlier. The problem with this lies in what it consciously or unconsciously teaches: to view others as potential enemies, as The Other.

At some point they reminded each other the county fair was that evening, and lying on the swimming raft for a while to catch some sun and get a little tan might be a good idea. This was followed by the names of some girls they knew. Soldiers were left at their posts and they came inside to change into swimming trunks.

Neither of these boys ever had to serve in a war, but many have. Some came back, too many did not. One is too many.


"Classic Toy"

The plastic army men are always green.

They’re caught in awkward poses,
one arm outstretched as if to fire,
legs parted and forever stuck on a swiggle
of support, as rigid and green as the boots.

This one has impressions of pockets,
a belt, a collar, a grip on tiny binoculars
intended to enlarge, no doubt, some
tiny enemy.

In back, attached to the belt is a canteen
or a grenade (it’s hard to tell). The helmet
is pulled down low, so as to hide the eyes.

If I point the arm, the gun, toward me,
I see that this soldier is very thin.

It’s almost unreal, how thin he is.


~Mary M. Brown



Monday, October 28, 2013

The Freedom That Follows Disappointment



"Disappointment"

I was feeling pretty religious
standing on the bridge in my winter coat
looking down at the gray water:
the sharp little waves dusted with snow,
fish in their tin armor.

That's what I like about disappointment:
the way it slows you down,
when the querulous insistent chatter of desire
             goes dead calm

and the minor roadside flowers
pronounce their quiet colors,
and the red dirt of the hillside glows.

She played the flute, he played the fiddle
and the moon came up over the barn.
Then he didn't get the job, —
or her father died before she told him
             that one, most important thing—

and everything got still.

It was February or October
It was July
I remember it so clear
You don't have to pursue anything ever again
It's over
You're free
You're unemployed

You just have to stand there
looking out on the water
in your trench coat of solitude
with your scarf of resignation
             lifting in the wind.


~ Tony Hoaglund




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Filling the Unforgiving Minute


The best poems are timeless and this is certainly no exception, gender set aside.

"If--"

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you.
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting.
   Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
   And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
   And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
   With sixty seconds' worth of distance run.
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
   And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

~ Rudyard Kipling



Addendum:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1146109/The-remarkable-story-Rudyard-Kiplings-If--swashbuckling-renegade-inspired-it.html

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dogs Make Good Teachers


Several of you have probably read this Mary Oliver poem, as it showed up a few days ago in the online Writer's Almanac. She has a new book of poetry, Dog Songs, from which this poem was taken. Although this beautiful poem and the recording I made on Soundcloud which follows are somewhat disparate in their tone, the perspective remains the same. Life without dogs seems incomplete, as though you're shunning love itself and all that goes with it. Buddy remains one of my greatest teachers. I mean that. He's helped me to be a better person and I think a better poet. I still use that term, as applied to myself, rather loosely because, well, Mary Oliver.


"The Poetry Teacher"

The university gave me a new, elegant
classroom to teach in. Only one thing,
they said. You can't bring your dog.
It's in my contract, I said. (I had
made sure of that.)

We bargained and I moved to an old
classroom in an old building. Propped
the door open. Kept a bowl of water
in the room. I could hear Ben among
other voices barking, howling in the
distance. Then they would all arrive—
Ben, his pals, maybe an unknown dog
or two, all of them thirsty and happy.
They drank, they flung themselves down
among the students. The students loved
it. They all wrote thirsty, happy poems.

~Mary Oliver









The image is of Shackleton's dogs, including Samson, Shakespeare, and Surley. The book, Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, by Caroline Alexander, remains among my all-time favorite books.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Broken Hallelujah



Leonard Cohen is one of the greatest songwriters who's ever lived and I love his song, "Hallelujah." For some time now, I've been rather partial to Jeff Buckley's version, but I recently found another and have grown to love its quiet gentleness. These boys from Norway can sing and their kind souls can be heard in every note.




 




The photograph is mine.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lonely Street


Several months ago, I was introduced to micro-poetry by Cletis Stump, a friend and fellow blogger. Shortly after I created my new poetry site, he created a Tumblr site and with my permission has been regularly posting my poems there along with his own, as well as occasional guest poets he's chosen from Twitter. Shelly, aka WildThing, a friend from Twitter, created this youtube video for us using a song Cletis chose by the great Patsy Cline. You might want to enlarge your screen to read the poems and even pause at certain poems ... I hope you enjoy it:





teresaevangelinespoetry.blogspot.com

latenightfootfalls.tumblr.com

photosbywildthing.blogspot.com





Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Place Called Cornucopia


There's a little village along the south shore of Lake Superior called Cornucopia. It's a place of blue sky and blue water, beside a blue highway. When I was quite young I looked at a map (something I've always loved to do) and thought it sounded like a place I'd like to know. Through the years, I ended up driving by there several times ... always on my way to somewhere else.

When I first returned to Minnesota from Santa Fe, I was searching for a place to settle down and this area was on my list of options. I drove over one day to take a look around. One of the things I discovered was an organic grocery store on a side street above the lake, nestled inside an older building that must have housed a more traditional store once upon a time. I kept it on my list a little longer.

Eventually, I decided to return to the area where I grew up and spent a good portion of my earlier life. It felt right. This morning, a poem from The Writer's Almanac took my thought back to the lake:


"Sailing on Lake Superior"

Before us now the edge of the earth,
below us the nearly endless cold.
Around us nothing but shimmering
water,
the miles of empty and sparkling blue.

For a few hours, the sail fills on
toward infinity. Shadows of
our delicate bodies ebb and flow
across the deck of our delicate boat.

What if the beautiful days, the good
and pacific temperate moments,
weren't just lovely, but everything?
What if I could let it fall away
in the wake, that ache to extract
meaning from vastness?

Let this suffice; the ease of thinking
it all goes on, whether we're here
to see it or not. The splashing waves,
the suntipped gulls arcing across
the radiant world.


~ Kirsten Dierking, American poet (1962 - )


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homeland Insecurity


The boys and girls at the Department of Homeland Security paid me another visit late last night. I cannot imagine what they would find subversive about my blog. This time they took a look at a post I wrote regarding a visit my sister and I took to Guerrero Viejo, Mexico, back in 1996. They downloaded one of my photos, so maybe that's all they were after, or maybe someone was just bored. I sure wish they would find another way to spend our tax dollars, like creating jobs for the millions of folks who are unemployed. Hiring them to rebuild this country's teetering infrastructure would be a good place to start, that is if we had any money left after spending it on killing people in other countries whose resources we want.


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Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Place Called Vermilion



With the last rays of evening light and far below, at the base of a distant peak, elk began to bugle ... and soothed by the soft siren sounds of cool winds tumbling through the hemlocks … spellbound for hours by stars so bright and dense that a needle-wand of light could not fit between them, sleep came slowly to a soft bed of fir needles, on a high ridge, in a place called Vermilion. 






Then morning came, gentle and easy, through a saddle to the east, and within the hour, wolves sang.


Prose poem and Photos: montucky.wordpress.com

Thank you, Montucky, for allowing me to reproduce your beautiful post here at my site.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just Before the Road Ends



"Waiting"

Left off the highway and
down the hill. At the
bottom, hang another left.
Keep bearing left. The road
will make a Y. Left again.
There's a creek on the left.
Keep going. Just before
the road ends, there'll be
another road. Take it
and no other. Otherwise,
your life will be ruined
forever. There's a log house
with a shake roof, on the left.
It's not that house. It's
the next house, just over
a rise. The house
where trees are laden with
fruit. Where phlox, forsythia,
and marigold grow. It's
the house where the woman
stands in the doorway
wearing the sun in her hair. The one
who's been waiting
all this time.
The woman who loves you.
The one who can say,
"What's kept you?"


~ Raymond Carver











Painting by Dan Gerhartz


Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Empty Thermos


One of the highlights of my week when I was very young was peeking inside my father's black metal lunch pail when he returned from working in Minneapolis. Things were tough and our small farm offered only a hardscrabble existence. In order to make ends meet, he went to work as a carpenter in the newly-forming suburbs. He would arrive home every Friday night with a candy bar inside his lunch pail, cut into three sections, one for each of the younger children still at home. I loved going through that pail, removing and then replacing his thermos tucked inside the lid. It seemed like a magical part of my father's life.

We never gave a thought to being "poor," didn't really know what that was. We had parents who loved us and labored hard to improve our lives. And they did, very much so. I will be forever grateful for all they did for us. I'm able to be here at this beautiful place I call Lonewolf today because of their labor, still surrounded by almost an embarrassment of natural riches.


"Labor Day"

Even the bosses are sleeping late
in the dusty light of September.

The parking lot’s empty and no one cares.
No one unloads a ladder, steps on the gas

or starts up the big machines in the shop,
sanding and grinding, cutting and binding.

No one lays a flat bead of flux over a metal seam
or lowers the steel forks from a tailgate.

Shadows gather inside the sleeve
of the empty thermos beside the sink,

the bells go still by the channel buoy,
the wind lies down in the west,

the tuna boats rest on their tie-up lines
turning a little, this way and that.


~Joseph Millar



Joseph Millar is an American poet from North Carolina


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Looking for Red Clover


"Lillian's Chair"
           for Lillian Lowenfels

Lillian has just arisen from her chair.
She has gone into her garden to commune with snails
to answer the bird's questions.
She has left her shawl and her cane
and that iron leg brace.
Won't she need her shawl in the garden?
Won't she be feeling the cold?

And she has forgotten her sling
thrown it carelessly aside -
the crumpled black satin
in which she cradled her dead arm
for seventeen years.
In one hand she took her straw basket
in the other her pruning shears:
"That bush needs seeing to," she muttered
and went looking for red clover, queen anne's lace.

What is she doing so long in the garden?
Where has she gone with her red hair?
She just grew tired of sitting and watching.
A vivid light pulled her into the leaves.
Woolen shawl, satin sling, iron brace -
she just walked out on them all.

Left us this empty chair.


~ Olga Cabral






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blue Moons and Snow Globes


One completely irrelevant, totally without merit bit of trivia you might not know about me: I collect snow globes, the more kitschy the better. The photo is a sampling of them ...

In other news: when I was walking down the road to the cabin last night to watch the blue moon rise over the neighbor's field, I heard something in my little orchard. I clapped my hands together hard and said, "Get outta here," followed by the sound of at least one large body hurrying through the brush. I'll admit, my heart was pounding as I walked, somewhat rapidly, back to the house. By the looks of the scat under the apple trees this morning, I think I was talking to a bear. I guess he wasn't sleeping after all. The moon sure was pretty, though.

From my poetry blog:  http://teresaevangelinespoetry.blogspot.com/2013/07/running-wild.html


Monday, August 5, 2013

A Country Kind of Love



"Love in the Country"

We live like this: no one but
some of the owls awake, and of them
only near ones really awake.

In the rain yesterday, puddles
on the walk to the barn sounded their
quick little drinks.

The edge of the haymow, all
soaked in moonlight,
dreams out there like silver music.

Are there farms like this where
no one likes to live?
And the sky going everywhere?

While the earth breaks the soft horizon
eastward, we study how to deserve
what has already been given us.


~ William Stafford




The photograph is mine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Finding the Essence


Each of these images might be worth a post, but I don't know what I would say that the image doesn't already convey.  Perhaps a small poem ... feel free to conjure up a few words. Distill the idea to its essence. Trust your instincts. Share them in a comment if you will...










See?  And you said you couldn't write poetry ...




Monday, July 29, 2013

Love Along the Grain


"The Grain of Sound"

A banjo maker in the mountains,
when looking out for wood to carve
an instrument, will walk among
the trees and knock on trunks. He'll hit
the bark and listen for a note.
A hickory makes the brightest sound;
the poplar has a mellow ease.
But only straightest grain will keep
the purity of tone, the sought-
for depth that makes the licks sparkle.
A banjo has a shining shiver.
Its twangs will glitter like the light
on splashing water, even though
its face is just a drum of hide
of cow, or cat, or even skunk.
The hide will magnify the note,
the sad of honest pain, the chill
blood-song, lament, confession, haunt,
as tree will sing again from root
and vein and sap and twig in wind
and cat will moan as hand plucks nerve,
picks bone and skin and gut and pricks
the heart as blood will answer blood
and love begins to knock along the grain.

~ Robert Morgan





Thursday, July 25, 2013

When Beauty Takes Root


Penny, a blogging friend, has challenged her readers to do whatever they can to establish a wildlife habitat right where they're at. No matter the size, whether a flower basket on the balcony of an apartment, or an oasis in your little corner of the world, we can all do something to create a healthier planet for all its inhabitants and add to the beauty of this world. I encourage you to pay a visit to her blog. Then, see what you can do to meet her challenge and even spread the word.

http://lifeonthecutoff.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/a-challenge/


Photograph by Penny.


Friday, July 5, 2013

On the Porch


Wendell Berry remains one of my favorite writers. He writes so beautifully and so poignantly of our shared human experience.


"They Sit Together on the Porch"

They sit together on the porch, the dark
Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.
Their supper done with, they have washed and dried
The dishes – only two plates now, two glasses,
Two knives, two forks, two spoons – small work for two.
She sits with her hands folded in her lap,
At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak,
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now, that finally
For all its knowing will not exactly know
Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding
Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.

~ Wendell Berry




The photograph is mine. It's the back porch at my farmhouse in Ansel where I spent the '90's.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Secret Life of Irises



         "Irises"
          1.
In the night, in the wind, at the edge of rain,
I find five irises, and call them lovely.
As if a woman, once, lay by them awhile,
then woke, rose, went, the memory of hair
lingers on their sweet tongues.
I’d like to tear these petals with my teeth.
I’d like to investigate these hairy selves,
their beauty and indifference. They hold
their breath all their lives
and open, open.
         

         2.
We are not lovers, not brother and sister,
though we drift hand in hand through a hall
thrilling and burning as thought and desire
expire, and, over this dream of life,
this life of sleep, we waken dying—
violet becoming blue, growing
black, black—all that
an iris ever prays,
when it prays,
to be.
        ~ Li-Young Lee








The photographs are mine.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Roses in the Rain


While on my rounds last evening, talking with the greenery, I noticed several new roses had bloomed. When I got closer, nose to nose with them, I saw that there were many more buds waiting to open. Many more. These are the old-fashioned roses that smell the way a rose came into this world to smell. I promised them I'd be back in the morning to take their picture. So, this morning, while the rain came softly down, I kept my promise.

It looks to be a good year for the roses.

I'm going to miss this man. His music helped shape my life. Thank God for youtube, radio and records. Here's George:




Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Looking for the Keys



I love doors, and the keys that open them...












"Every exit is an entrance somewhere."  ~ Tom Stoppard




All images found on tumblr.