I hear that in third grade I wrote "Wandering in My Mind", where I continue to wander, when I am not outdoors in gardens or rockslides or forests wandering or wondering in bookstores and galleries and dance halls and sing-along pubs. And enjoying my friends and family. I became a professor of writing several decades ago (Ph.D. Denver University 1989). I am the author of Table Walking at Nighthawk (Ghost Road Press 2007, WILLA Award), and Chained Dog Dreams (Finishing Line Press 2019) and a professor emerita from Alamosa. Most recent journal publications are in The Missouri Review. I teach writing and literature to prisoners, coach writers, and edit all kinds of writing. In manuscript form (yes, I developed quite a backlog of work while I was a professor and mom) are Bright Path, Dark River, How Alzheimer's Let Her Love the Airport, and My Galapagos.In more recent poems I am wandering in the grammar of animacy--how do we speak of the beings of the earth without objectifying? I have had many teachers, including humans, trees, cats, newts, and a profoundly wise mustang. I live northwest of Denver with photographer David Diaz Guerrero whose photos I shamelessly steal (but you must not).
Invited by the Colorado Poets Center folks (if you publish poetry, register yourself here http://coloradopoetscenter.org and meet the welcoming Beth Franklin among many others) to join other poets presenting poems involving bees at Art Bar and Gallery, I thought about many bee cliches as in the 18th century poem “How Doth the Busy Little Bee” (Wyatt) and chose to resist those tropes. Ever noticed how we think all members of a species look alike until we finally pay attention? Ever notice how we sometimes project our own values onto non-humans (in that case, untiring industriousness)? One result of that projection is the current practice of forcing the labor of bee colonies. This isn’t a great poem, but a poem for the occasion. coloradopoetscenter.org
Against Wyatt’s How doth the little busy Bee 1715
We have seen in the bee ourselves unresting,
our busy buzzing with business. We proclaim
hurrah workers! what helpers! what devoted underlings
to the Queen! And: poor drones, so strictly directed.
If we have a day of rest we watch you unresting,
clones, droids, tools. Stop. See now your trade in sweet beauty,
your stripey variations from wobbly to wide,
from black to brown and golden, or green;
how each wing’s gossamer net spreads, arresting in
your singular beauty, and how each of you is beautiful
in humming, beautiful in interpetive dances,
beautiful with your semaphores of fluorescence,
each bee sky writing beautiful important arresting
poetry while your hive watches with their blazing dark eyes.
You’ve never actually been there, Future, your nitrile gloved hands beckoning,
a partner for a waltz we never learned how to lead or follow--
blue crocus underground and snow geese wintering in the south--
no part of you more than wishes or prayers to faithless lovers.
A partner for a waltz I never learned to lead or follow
you’re a dancer wearing a gown of milk jug silk and cornstarch shoes.
You’ve never been more than a ten-cent prayer, my faithless lover,
I scribed on paper and burned in winter, a summery green ash rising.
A dancer in a gown of milk-jug silk and thin-soled shoes
you won’t be recognized when you arrive. It will be today,
scribed on burning paper, summery green ash rising
even though I saw you, our longed for Future running away.
We won’t recognize you when you arrive. It will be today.
What could you do to remind me I invited you to breakfast
(I saw you, hair streaming, running away)
when you come now in your goggles, mask, your smothered grin?
Could you remind me I invited you to breakfast,
blue crocus underground and spring geese restless, muttering in the south?
You approach now in goggles and secret smile.
You’ve never actually been here, your gloved hand beckoning.
1. In profile, Horse shifts his dark
windowed eye a little down
and to the left to say scratch that
pull off that burr or tick
and I can’t see what it is, never
will know, anyway no chance
to pull it off, scratch
and after all he’s dead
as my vet said zooming in horse heaven
his sky legs regained.
2. Zooming with the rabbit, She
turns one ear back then her head follows, then
there is only her rear and that tell tale tail.
3. I never get Roadrunner on the schedule to zoom.
Too fast for me.
4. Zooming with your dogs, they get so close
I can read their brains through their noses,
all their thoughts breathing out
until they speak alternately saying
throw the ball or where’s the ball or
here’s the ball, then zoom away.
5. My sister writes about watching lizards
doing push ups on their fairy tale fingers
and if she zooms me
they too will have a chance to zoom
under a stone.
6.In Time Lapse Zoom, your dahlias bud, open wider, show their throats.
In Time Lapse Zoom margigold petals drop and drift like snow. Then snow.
7. I never see it coming, the sadness.
Right when I am laughing to think of zooming
the horse, the rabbit, the lizard, tulip, dogs--
might as well be fishes below a skin of lake
too deep to reach and if
I should net one out somehow
to stream my fingertip across her silver slick side,
and took her home with me
she would likely die.
So with you in the time of La ‘Rona,
friend zooming Safer Far Away, seen
not even through a glass but pixelated in some way,
not really seen at all. Only imagined.
Like many, after March sank into my understanding like a wildfire smoke plume during an ozone-thick inversion, I veered away from screens except for news and for “seeing” family and friends, and into the garden. As summer ripened into fall as it does, and I gathered outside a few times with poetry-writing friends, I finished these poems. These comprise the epilogue for my almost published third book of poetry Bright Path Dark River. More on that, soon. The pandemic poems are listed as separate posts: Zooming the Horse, Ode to the Future During the Pandemic (a pantoum), Ode to Nostalgia. May the last poem give you permission, if you need it, to spend a little more time basking in the lights of good memories. (I hope hope hope hope hope you have some. If not, maybe you will make some up).
By the way, various events supporting publication of Chained Dog Dreams didn’t happen, for obvious reasons, but the book is still available at The Book Bar in Denver, Narrow Gauge Bookstore in Alamosa Colorado, The Boulder Bookstore, some libraries (you could ask them to order it from Ingram), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Finishinglinepress.com. Or directly from me! Message me.
I neglected to keep a good record of some of my publications and need them now in order to apply for a particular grant. I wrote Barnstorm Journal because I had difficulty using its search function and overnight received a kind note, an apology for the difficulty searching, and the url to my poem from 2013. So here it is! What a professional and generous editor, Charlotte Gross, an MFA student at New Hampshire University