Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Circling Tehema

We drove around the entire mountain today. Tehama. We took a gondola ride up to a ridgetop called Crystal Mountain, or, Paradise and gazed at her face for hours. Rainier was sublime, as were Adams, St. Helena, Baker, Glacier, and many other peaks in between. We found a geocache and a memorial marker for a man who fell from a great height. Because it was a clear day, I orchestrated the mountains with my walking stick. And for a moment we saw into forever. And beyond while ladybugs coated our arms and legs with their carapaces of gold.

rev 8/17

Monday, July 28, 2014


A deer ambled up to the kitchen window
popped down roses as if they were potato chips.
Beautiful blood-red petals slid down her throat.
She gobbled them up not even taking time to savor them.
I rapped on the glass but she kept on munching away.
We were inches from each other. Eye to eye.
But she knew the difference between glass and roses.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Old work, new vision

Lately I've been uploading old work—mostly poems from the 1980s and 1990s. It's a bit of a surprise to revisit one's old writing all at once like that. I started at the beginning. Only work that made the electronic cut was uploaded. It's been a tedious process fraught with technical difficulty (read: incompatible formats) and more than a few poems weren't all there. As in physically not all there (no that's not a value judgement.)

And of course, I don't have hard copy for any of my old work, my big clippie-board mss binder has gone on walkabout. So I can't fill in the missing words and lines, nor date some of my old work. I'm sure there are myriad formatting typos. Long dashes (em lines) reverted to accented ós, and line breaks disappeared. I've been burning the midnight oil—nay, more like 2AM, removing those pesky ascii artifacts. But some are insidious.

See my very first entry of 1979 to read all about it. But rereading and reformatting all those poems is labor intensive. (I'm up to 1993). There are gaps becaue I didn't date my earlier work—incestuous nepotism? It dated me and now it's haunting me. Everything's relative.

Yeah, there was a lot of love gone wrong stuff. Rites of passage. Painful stuff. Painfully funny stuff: comparing women to pears with PTSD, imagining myself as an asparagus stalk, eating white oil paint because it reminded me of ice cream. OK, so I was four, it was my first metaphor.

Weird to review ones life for the past 35 years via poetry—shuffling the poems into the right creation date has created an interesting timeline.

Don't know how much more I'll upload during this round. My eyeballs hurt. I've moved all the orphan poems to relative dates within a 2-4 year period. Usually to Jan 1,19xx, so I can find them later. I still have a rat's nest of early poems filled in 1994—that was the latest file date saved. Need to track them down too.

Too much circular reading. Sorry for the typos, Working on them.

When This Blog Really Began—Aug 2008
Old Posts, New Posts
The Paper and the Sonoma County Stump

Poem titles are in CAPITAL LETTERS, and you can search the blog, using the word 'poem" in the search box at the top or clicking on the word "poem" on
the hotlist below the dates. Other poetic categories too: haiku, ekphrastic poetry, collage, etc. Some poems also sorted by region: from the Andes to the USSR, and Zenia.

    found poem 
   prose poem


A surprise bonus:
recycling dishwater
forks in the planters.

Dumping dishwater
in thirsty planter boxes
a fork serenade.

Tossing the dishwater
a cacophony of forks
dig into the ground.

I'm giving up on
5/7/5 haiku lines
to count water drops.

When I tossed the dishwater into the garden
the plants drank in a cacophony of forks
A good tine was had by all.

The dishwater sang
tine-y bubbles whined about
a fork in the road

But the owl flew off
with a runcible spoon think-
ing it was a mouse.

When in drought save gray
water, the whales are dreaming
of rain on this plain.

Anonymous comments button turned off

So very tired of the spate of Anonymous commenters posting spammybits to my Irish Redheads post (my most popular blog post with 38,352 strikes—OK, so 5000 of those are probably Vampirestats). Like cuckoos laying their eggs in other birds' nest, these nefarious commenters sneakily embed URLs in their posts–which I can't disable. So the Anonymous comments button is turned off for now. Wish I could just turn it off for that blog post, But it's all or nothing. To leave a comment, you must now register, or have Open ID. So sorry. I hate captchas. Some of my best commentators have been Anonymous posters. (Sigh).

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Greedy squirrel knocks
my china cup off the fence—crash!
He's looking at me so guiltily 
he's beating his chest
as if to say mea culpea.


Our waterdogs were MUCH more stocky than this fellow, more like a coastal giant salamander but they weren't spotted. For all we know, they could've been a new species. —Wiki

When I was a kid, there were giant (Pacific Coast) salamanders that lived in a creek that ran down from the slopes of Mt. Barnabe, behind the Stone's house.

Three salamanders were dressed in different shades of liver, brown and russet. And they were built like small stocky bulldogs—about a foot long. They looked much bigger to us then, and of course we thought they were Loch Ness monsters, or Sumo wrestlers. We made our first unoriginal metaphor: we called them moving poops. Unfortunately Stephanie's little brother probably killed them. You know how it is with little boys and rocks and slow moving targets.

I still feel bad when I think of those salamanders. Even then, we knew it was wrong to lob rocks at them. We were probably 7 or 8 years old. We had no idea that they were rare prehistoric creatures. When teacher said that dinosaurs were extinct, we knew better, they were alive and well and living in the gorge at the foot of the mountain.

Apparently the giant salamanders can bark too. Hence the name: water dogs. It was probably their barking that attracted our attention. Because they were so far outside our experience of the known world, not like the regular salamanders—petite, delicate creatures that came out after a heavy rain, and they barked, I was shaken.

The terror of unknown was suddenly real. We hiked up the gorge many times looking for those strange monster waterdogs, but we never saw them again. They reappeared in dreams, barking, as if beckoning me towards the unknown. Or alerting me to danger.

I chalked the memory up to a collective bout of wild unreined childhood imagination, until Trane DeVore posted a photograph of a giant Japanese salamander, and at that moment I realized that my childhood monsters were indeed real, and they were barking like wild dogs.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Once, long ago, on an unreasonably hot day
like today, while waiting for the Anacortes ferry,
I jumped off the dock to cool off in Puget Sound.
Baby flounders scattered like rusted fall leaves.
One tiny fish swam into my palm—and settled in.
His eyes hadn't yet migrated all the way to one side,
so he watched me as carefully as I watched him.
When his jewel-spots changed to blend with my hand,
his eyes retained the dreams of sea and sky.


I suppose I could call it a blue-eyed flounder...
this poem prompted me to dig out some old fishy poems and upload them.




Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Alan Watts, early 1970s, Everett Collection, Brain Pickings

 —The only way to make sense out of change 
         is to plunge into it, move with it, 
         and join the dance.Alan Watts

When I was a child, I swear
Alan Watts was older than dirt.
Now from a photo, he gazes out 
looking younger than I am today. 
Sausalito in the good old days, 
when Varda lived on the old ferryboat 
and nailed his paintings to the walls, 
& from the captain's cabin,
Alan danced at the helm,
with his seadog legs braced
against the raging '50s tide, 
steering the '60s into oblivion.


With special thanks to Maria Popova, whose scintillating blog Brain Pickings, inspired this piece. If you don't know about Brain Pickings, you're in for a real treat. Mind candy.

LOL, I thought vampire stats & Technorati web crawlers had attacked my blog, this post got 500 hits—Come to find that Maria tweeted a link. I am grateful to all of you for stopping by. I'm lucky to get 20 hits on a poem.

♡ After reading a Brain Pickings article about Alan Watts (), a woman wrote this beautiful poem

Monday, July 7, 2014

Honeybees and the end of the world

Speaking of daft emails and memes (this time, from a reputable social activism site) where The bee-ginning of the end is nigh.

Whereas I am all for saving the honeybees, I object to the doomsday quote being pandered about—and falsely attributed to Albert Einstein: If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. Bah! I HATE pseudo-science.

Einstein was a physicist. Not a beekeeper. He never, ever said it. Granted, about 130 kinds of fruit and nut crops that we depend upon, are pollinated by honeybees. But European honeybees (tho incredibly efficient pollenators) are NOT native to either of the Americas. It seems that many peoples survived just fine for millennia on end without them. Just sayin'. OK, so some vines, including cucumbers, and also almonds might be in trouble...but there are other critters out there.

Also, though not as efficient, there are many other pollinators out there—including wind, rain, small animals—bats, birds—hummers, butterflies, moths, bumblebees, native bees (3000 species native to the US alone), all manner of bugs, wasps and flies. And soft paintbrushes will work in a pinch too.

And some plants even self-pollinate! Self-pollination: when a flower pollinates and fertilizes itself. They don't need no stinkin' wind or bees to pollinate.

Self-pollination some plants have separate male and female flower parts: when pollen is transferred from one flower on a plant to another flower on the same plant—vine crops such as cucumbers where male flowers produce only pollen and female flowers have only the pistil. Bees are essential for cucumber pollination. I can live without cukes.

Cross-pollination—from a flower of one plant to a flower of another. Some apple trees cannot be pollinated by flowers of the same variety due to pollen incompatibility. Now this cloning thing gets a tad complicated.

Vegetatively propagated trees of the same variety are genetically the same, and the flowers are self-sterile, different varieties must be interplanted to provide compatible pollen for pollination. Need a little strange DNA in the mix.

In any pollination work, it is important to know which of these three pollination methods is involved to provide adequate pollination. Then write those silly memes based on facts instead of using Chicken Little science.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Deer browsing brush pile
red plum leaves taste good to her.
They taste good to her.

Young deer at old well
wallows in the dust. Her spots
slipped off midsummer.

An abandoned well
Young deer wallows in the dust
Look! her spots slipped off.

First summer berries
rattlesnakes lying in wait
I step carefully

My tongue sings sweet praise
to ripe berries. Snake rattles,
wants something sweet too.

Bluebird's maiden flight
grounded. Wait 'til your feathers
grow all the way in.

Birdlet, not the time
to fledge, the snake's dreaming of
feathering his nest.

Asleep on the couch,
3 AM—raccoons cleaning
the BBQ grill.

Raccoons arguing
all night cleaning the camp grill.
No point sleeping now.

Raccoons quarreling
over the grill. Either way
we'll have to clean it.

Greedy squirrel knocks
cup off of fence—crash! Guilty.
He's beating his chest.

I rushed home to catch 
a play only to have him 
cancel at curtain call.

Little girls screaming
in unison and in pitch
with the power drill.

Raiding the freezer.
Old cake with freezerburn, hey!
chocolate is chocolate.

Baby halibut
swims into my hands, looks up
with his sea-blue eyes.

Young halibut changed
his spots to hide—but not the
color of his eyes.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

baby bluebird (photos)

Today, a baby bluebird fell from his nest and landed at my feet. So much for picking raspberries.

He wasn't quite ready to leave the nest. He still had his baby down. He's got his feet wrapped around my thumb as a security blanket. I was Mom for an hour while he snuggled in the curve of my neck—expecting me to feed him.

A couple of rough flight attempts. Tough logistics. He got stuck on the ground and turned into a feathered mouse. But his parents were so distraught we had to do something. 

A ladder. A tall young man, a solution—and the little beggar was sent packing back to his nest. Not that he wanted to go back.

Any nest in a storm.

Hand as nest.

He still had his baby down. 

Ok, now feed me.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tartan Day Ball, 2008 (photo)

Tartan Day Ball, 2008. We're partying like rock stars. Got me green bottle in front of me. Ironic, I view the world (and read) through my left eye, and take photos with my right eye (it's a lazy bugger)—and in photos of me, my left eye is always the squinty one. And, no I didn't need glasses then! I did have a "lazy" eye as a kid, but didn't wear a patch. I think it has something to do with how our brains process information. I'm right handed, but left-eyed. Dyslexic trait? I'm also left footed. And I can switch-hit at baseball. Right eye processed by left brain; left eye processed by right brain. All I know is that in this photo, I'm squint-eyed happy. Floyd Busby photo. 

Grey water diaries

I spent the afternoon putting punky wood curbs in along the retaining wall to curb the recycled shower water I use to water the beets and future chardlets. I also found a few forks in the flower bed. Knackered. Tresseme lettuce anyone? Chard conditioner?

It's hotter than a frying pan outside.

Meanwhile, in Napa, another 1200 acres went up in smoke since yesterday. Evacuation orders are still in place. The fire is now at 4,300 acres. (As of last night it was 3,400 acres, or six square miles). That's almost 7 square miles of fire. You can see the column of smoke from Oakland. Evacuation orders are still in place as 1,067 firefighters work to contain the fire in Butts Canyon. We're not out of the woods yet. I'm thinking that we need many more firefighters or this is going to turn into another Yosemite Rim fire. All this, because some doucheguy was cutting weeds with a mower with metal blades during the drought.

And here I am with my drop in the bucket brigade saving every drop for the miniscule garden.

added, revised  7/17

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How Writers Write Poetry

Maybe someone else will have better luck accessing these craft talks. YouTube never works for me. You will need to sign up for this free online workshop led by Iowa Writers' Workshop.

How Writers Write Poetry MOOC (Facebook link)

Talks on Craft and Commitment
The Course  http://courses.writinguniversity.org
How Writers Write Poetry, a six-week course beginning on June 28, 2014, is an interactive study of the practice of writing poetry.

How Writers Write Poetry Syllabus

Before the first class begins on Saturday, June 28, please watch our Preliminary Video Session: "Getting Started with Marvin Bell"
To meet your moderators, learn when they will be online, and find out how and when they will be leading workshops of your poetry, please see our Moderator and Workshop Schedule
Please also note our Rules of Workshop Conduct
Saturday, June 28
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
**All videos will remain available for the duration of the course, so once a video has been posted, you may watch (and re-watch) at any time.
Class Topic: Sketching Techniques
Video Session #1: Robert Hass
Assignment: Exercise #1
Monday, June 30
Due: Exercise #1​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Tuesday, July 1
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Collecting and Repurposing Lines
Video Session #2: Kate Greenstreet and Lucy Ives
Assigned: Exercise #2
Wednesday, July 2
Exercise #1 Workshops open
Thursday, July 3
Due: Exercise #2​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 4
Exercise #1 Workshops close
Saturday, July 5
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Building a Poem
Video Session #3: Daniel Khalastchi
Assigned: Exercise #3
Exercise #2 Workshops open
Monday, July 7
Due: Exercise #3​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #2 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 8
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Mindful Writing
Video Session #4: Sridala Swami and Alexandria Peary
Assigned: Exercise #4
Wednesday, July 9
Exercise #3 Workshops open
Thursday, July 10
Due: Exercise #4​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 11
Exercise #3 Workshops close
Saturday, July 12
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Prosody (Meter)
Video Session #5: Richard Kenney and William Trowbridge
Assigned: Exercise #5
Exercise #4 Workshops open
Monday, July 14
Due: Exercise #5​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #4 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 15
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Containing Multitudes
Video Session #6: Dora Malech and Tarfia Faizullah
Assigned: Exercise #6
Wednesday, July 16
Exercise #5 Workshops open
Thursday, July 17
Due: Exercise #6​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 18
Exercise #5 Workshops close
Saturday, July 19
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Other People's Words
Video Session #7: Nick Twemlow and Kiki Petrosino
Assigned: Exercise #7
Exercise #6 Workshops open
Monday, July 21
Due: Exercise #7​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #6 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 22
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Poetry As Pleasure
Video Session #8: James Galvin and Kwame Dawes
Assigned: Exercise #8
Wednesday, July 23
Exercise #7 Workshops open
Thursday, July 24
Due: Exercise #8​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 25
Exercise #7 Workshops close
Saturday, July 26
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Constraint Based Poetry
Video Session #9: Shane McCrae and Teemu Manninen
Assigned: Exercise #9
Exercise #8 Workshops open
Monday, July 28
Due: Exercise #9​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #8 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 29
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Sonic Association
Video Session #10: Carol Light and Larissa Szporluk
Assigned: Exercise #10
Wednesday, July 30
Exercise #9 Workshops open
Thursday, July 31
Due: Exercise #10​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, August 1
Exercise #9 Workshops close
Saturday, August 2
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Looking Outward
Video Session #11: Michael Dennis Browne and Caryl Pagel
Assigned: Exercise #11
Exercise #10 Workshops open
Monday, August 4
Due: Exercise #11​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #10 Workshops close
Tuesday, August 5
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Free Verse | Prose Poem
Video Session #12: Marvin Bell and Mary Hickman
Assigned: Exercise #12
Wednesday, August 6
Exercise #11 Workshops open
Welcome to Class Session 1: Sketching Techniques
Saturday, August 9
Exercise #11 Workshops close
Course Closes
Final video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)

Saturday, June 28, 2014
Robert Hass discusses one-, two-, three-, and four- line sketching techniques.
Former Poet Laureate Robert Hass is the author of seven books of poetry, numerous critical articles, and many translated works. Hass is the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize, for his 2007 poetry collectionTime and Materials.
How to Begin:
1) Watch the class video. Captions are available: press play and then press the cc button at the bottom right of the video for captions.
2) To read the writing assignment that was presented in the video, look below the video.
3) Join the discussion. To talk about the craft issues and writing processes presented in the video with Mary Hickman and our Moderators, click on the link below titled “Class Session 1 Discussion - Sketching Techniques.”
4) Submit a writing exercise. To post your writing exercise for discussion with your fellow poet-participants, click on the link below titled “Exercise 1 Submissions - Sketching Techniques” and add your poem as a new forum topic. **If you would like your exercise to be considered for workshopping, you must post it by 11:59 PM CDT (GMT – 5:00) on Monday, June 30.
5) Join the workshops. Workshops for this writing assignment will begin on Wednesday, July 2 and will end on Friday, July 4.

Using Robert Hass's sketching techniques, write a one-, two-, three-, or four- line poem. Submit it to our course forum via the link below the video marked "Exercise 1 Submissions - Sketching Techniques." You may submit as many poems as you like!