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).
Thought you all might like a break from Chained Dog Dreams. These are our cats Natty Bumpo and Little Bear. They engage in synchronized dreaming. I wonder if they are both dreaming of sunshine. You can order Chained Dog Dreams now from me directly (leave a comment) for cover price of $19.95; I’ll pay shipping and will sign your copy if you’d like. It is also available as a special order from bookstores (through Ingram), at the Denver Book Bar, Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative, libraries, and through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I have a few accidently wine soaked ones for free.
I don’t know how the folks putting out a journal could be more generous and supportive of their writers and with such fine results. Many thanks to TheMissouri Review folks. I am grateful and amazed to be among the other writers here and part of a collection connected through surrealism. Hope you’ll visit.
Finished reading Overstory by Richard Powers. I read it over a few months, because of its density and some doubts I had. Doubts I still have, as far as a narrative goes, while it contains lots to love. It won the Pulitzer. The strong message to change how we generally relate to all things not human is timely indeed.What do you think of it? Or, better yet, tell me something you have heard a tree say, or describe an experience in which a tree played an important role for you personally.
The condition of my skin determines the condition of my health.
When my colony and I perceived the margin of our pond
drawing an ever-smaller circle on its clay beach
we decided to crawl out to seek bigger waters
and failing that, have a worthy adventure before desiccation.
It is in my nature to hang stilly in warm still shallows of a
to meditate on the nature and meaning of immortality,
to brush shoulders with other newts,
to draw in insects and algae with a slight slow
opening and shutting of my mouth,
to sift oxygen from water with the slowest fanning
of my external lungs.
Instead, I stepped out, tiptoed for many days and nights
across wire sharp sand and ticking grass
trying to keep my tender belly clear. My palms calloused.
I sheltered from sun beneath the shadows of stones,
singing whenever I could a song for rain.
I thus arrived at your door to ask for a dish of water
before tip-toing on across your asphalt drive.
I remember helping to lead an equity retreat in Taos NM some late Augusts ago. After a session, I swept up a number of these small dry bodies from the corners of our meeting room. I learned from Galen that newts often have to travel when their vernal ponds dry up. When I found some living newts in the kitchen, I sketched the small dark creatures and journaled about them and this poem developed. It was a sad time. I did return them to their nearby pond, an intervention I’m not sure was a good one. The moment foresaw global warming and today’s reports on the deaths of salmon. The grammar of animacy (see Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass) in poetry–and in many children’s books–comes naturally when we empathetically don the persona of others unlike us. If in Potawatomi even the wind is alive, it also was in the language of Christina Rossetti who wrote “Who Has Seen the Wind,” in which the trees bow down their heads when she passes. We might dismiss this as personification, but in English, it is how we do adopt languages of animacy.
Long long highway . Driving west from Colorado to California. Thanks to google we pull off on a tiny exit Thompson Springs to see railroad history and a ghost town. Oh, and I hope for a spring. Over the past week I have dreamed multiple times a night about visiting a spirit world: the dead-my father, rabbits, ourselves–portals. Well, never mind Thompson Springs, but do continue up to the Sego canyon petroglyphs and pictographs , the most otherworldly we have ever personally seen. Early Folsom people, probably 600 a.d. Whoooo. Still so moving , moved.
Is it an accident or brilliantly witty that the rooftop at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver that is showing an exhibit of Drop City Founder Carl Richert’s geometric mystical paintings taking off from Buckminster Fuller designs has these plants outdoors? Thinking of starting a family based blog about synchronous events and twinning etc. open to all to contribute. Yes?
This furry sage (salvia argentea) became gigantic over the summer, its dragon-tongued white flowers exploding over the sidewalk, until turned to brown curly seeds and tattered stems, I cut it back to nubbins. And now this. The leaves are as soft as my cats’ and I go out to stare at them in different light, and pet them a little. That it is growing next to an old typewriter is pure serendipity. I am digging (hahaha) for the poem still, and listening to what the leaves and the frozen typewriter keys seem to be reminding me.
I almost forgot the thousand thousand earwigs it was sheltering in its dead leaves. I began then to try to make peace with those scary little aliens who were apparently cleaning up for me.