Friday, June 26, 2020

CPITS workshops, Jane Hirshfield, Dan Levinson, Jessica Wilson





“It is important that awake people be awake.” Stafford
Poem Is Small Kindnesses by Danusha Lameris
Writing Prompt:  On left side in a vertical column:  5 -10 concrete nouns.  Make them different from each other.

On the right side of the page, do the same vertical columns - 5-10 abstract nouns.  Any school subject, any emotion, ideas…Things you can’t touch.
In between each two words in both set of columns, write the word “OF”  Should give you a set  “coffee cup of science”  or switch order “science of coffee cups”
Pick one of these sets or constellations of words that excites you and begin a piece of writing.
On left side in a vertical column:  5 -10 concrete nouns.  Make them different from each other.
On the right side of the page, do the same vertical columns - 5-10 abstract nouns.  Any school subject, any emotion, ideas…Things you can’t touch.
In between each two words in both set of columns, write the word “OF”  Should give you a set  “coffee cup of science”  or switch order “science of coffee cups”
Pick one of these sets or constellations of words that excites you and begin a piece of writing.
You have roughly 10 minutes.

Freewrite 1

In the mirror, grief waited
patiently for light to surrender,
and for the darkness to follow.
Its silvered tongue spoke of the past
when women plumbed its depths,
scrying the future from the dross.
I was once one of those women,
living in the USSR, one winter, waiting
for a glimpse of the future.
And now here we are.
The old beveled mirror, someone’s discard,
silver scratched off the back,
faithfully reflects the light, sharpens its teeth,
while I measure shadows crawling across the room
where containment is equal to life.
The banshee wailing at the door, is hunting again.
So many fallen, I do not know where to begin,
or how to comprehend such grief.
My pen is mute, filled with darkness,
my hand speaks of loss, trying on other dreams
in the mirror when I am not looking.
The clock is writing down the calendar of days.
We grow used to the genteel confinement.
It becomes our familiar. We become inured to it.
Yet the world rages on, a lethal stew of protesters,
AntiFa and AltRigh boiling in the streets
as if naming it could quell the civil unrest.
Tearing down statues of oppression
and tearing down what was once good—
there is no filter. It is all fodder for the rage that burns.
And we sit in our towers watching the wind
bending the tall grass to its will
as the ashes of the dead ride on the breeze.


Next Prompt:  Write down some things that people might actually say.
Next, write down 1-3 factual statements. Simple sentences that are true. For example: “The earth is round.”
Last thing to write down:   one question.

Cheating is allowed.  Change any elements. Write a poem which is someway relevant to your reality (and unreality.) Write a poem that has actual spoken words or dialogue in some way in it. Be aware of the typographical possibilities as well as the possibilities of how many ways there are to work dialogue into a poem: in passing, as the main way the poem moves, or something in between, or a momentary breaking of the fourth wall. Optional: include a fact, a question, or both.

Model poems:
The Act by William Carlos Willams
In the Desert by Stephen Crane
A Note on ‘Iowa City:  Early April’ by Robert Hass
[from Citizen] by Claudia Rankine
Table by Edip Canceler, translated by Richard Tillinghast from the Turkish

10 minutes… Write a poem which is someway relevant to this moment in your reality (and unreality.)  Write a poem that has actual spoken words or dialogue in some way in it. Be aware of the typographical possibilities as well as the possibilities of how many ways there are to work dialogue into a poem: in passing, as the main way the poem moves, or something in between, or a momentary breaking of the fourth wall. Optional: include a fact, a question, or both.

Freewrite 2

Where to even begin? The mind wants answers,
and some are satisfied with any answers
that will do, no matter how impossible.
People are grasping at straws
as if they were liferafts in the deep end of the COVID pool.
Lemmings flock to the beaches, as if to find the answer,
the first terrestrial “I am” ever uttered.
I want to tell the gobies and the mudskippers
there’s been a mistake, but I’ve said it all before
in another poem, long ago, when I was someone else.
As we look down the hind site of that long barreled gun of time,
we can’t even imagine anything else but this moment,
frozen, in the perpetual now.
Each act takes us farther from ourselves,
and what we once held to be true,
makes us re-define our lives with this new timeframe,
so that we can barely remember anything other than now.
What is happening to time? As we speed headlong
towards our own extinction.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Solstice



Instead of the usual factual, I felt a wee silly poem coming on....my Granny was always after saying the phrase, morning noon and night. This was a time for worshiping the stones. We have a big monolith of a rock that juts out of our hill in Forest Knolls and she would measure the seasonal path of the sun by that rock.

Today is the longest day of the summer solstice
when noontime shadows are at their shortest.
But it is not the earliest sunrise, that was yesterday,
nor is it the latest sunset—which is tomorrow,
the day after the solstice. Yesterday, today,
and tomorrow; morning, noon & night;
the past, present and future: a three-fold event.
The duality of the year at opposite ends of the earth.

And meanwhile on the Hill of Sin, a Dowth passage tomb, Fertae Chuile. Yes, she said, yes, yes. She was the flower of the mountain, and what of those Iberian men  Should she wear the saffron  Or perhaps the grey leine  Ah, but the stone rose up like a stallion and kissed the sky at dawn  would  she say yes to yes to the mountain flowers  the heath in a furze stretched like cats by the fire and would she put her arms around the stone and say yes yes I said yes I will Yes to the solstice?

This is what happens when Bloomsday collides with the solstice.

Monday, June 8, 2020

On self-identity, and being Irish in America

In response to an IrishCentral article, Why do Irish Americans still identify as Irish?
Why are American-born descendants of Diaspora Irish so tenacious about identifying with their homeland, even when their connections are generations distant?
Wendy C. Fries  @IrishCentral Oct 28, 2019

I wrote: I am thoroughly Irish, born in America—but raised within an Irish household, imbued with Irish culture, meaning I lived a dual life. Outside, especially at school, was America. But that ended the moment I came home. Ours was an Irish household from top to bottom. Jesus, Mary and Joseph in one corner, and John Fitzgerald and the Pope in another. I grew up in the oral tradition, raised by my grandmother from Bantry. I learned two histories—the Anglo-American version of history, and the Irish version of history. It took me decades to reconcile the two disparate threads. Us versus them. We were taught to hold tight onto our culture, not to succumb to American ways. Or Anglo ways. Because being Irish is all we had to sustain us. My grandmother faced discrimination in San Francisco, she refused to become an American citizen, even though my grandfather did. My grandparents were active members of the Gaelic League, and the Knights of the Red Branch, my grandfather collected guns for De Valera. After the uprising, Liam Mellows spent time at our house in Forest Knolls, as did De Valera. I was always terrified that my grandmother would get deported. When she went back to Ireland, after winning the Irish sweepstakes, in 1964, the Irish government met her at Shannon airport with a red carpet, because she had left before Ireland had become a free state. She also left America without a green card, without any passport, and was issued an Irish passport in Ireland— in order to get back to the United States. I remember being terrified that they wouldn’t let her back into the US, that I’d somehow be an orphan if that happened.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

I can’t breathe


The world has come undone.
I can’t breathe. None of us can breathe.
Is there no end to this madness?

Friday, May 29, 2020

IN MEMORIAM


End of May, we’re still in isolation,
our windows on the world
have grown exponentially smaller,
and we dream of vast distances
where we can freely travel
to another place, another time.

The stock pond sports wooden ducks
carrying American flags for Memorial Day
and we can’t begin to comprehend,
let alone, mourn the hundred thousand fallen.

Poppies


Every time I pass the driveway of 906 Chileno Valley Rd., I admire the wild poppies that guard the gate. I think of the unnamed man who mows the weeds each spring and leaves the poppies undisturbed. And year after year they reward him with fallen pieces of the sun to greet us all. I keep thinking I want to write him a poem and leave it in his mailbox, but no words come.
.

RECYCLED coronavirus haiku


RECYCLED

Turkey vulture collects
sins of the dead, resurrects them 
in guano time.

Coronavirus 
lays siege, our homes, battlefields 
are strewn with the dead. 

We seek refuge 
in houses, too small to shelter 
us from the world.

Our world shrinks 
exponentially as we shelter in place, 
this plague no one can see. 

We count the dead 
indiscriminately not 
wanting to know the score.

The tally is 
always the same, us zero, 
the grim reaper won.

Turkey vultures 
Line up on fence posts waiting
for their next meal.

5/29/20

The house on Gravenstein


The old farmhouse on Gravenstein highway settles deeper into the earth. And here we are, in the midst of a housing shortage. I would dearly love to rescue it from oblivion. Salvage its bones. Lately vandals have come to release the windows from their prison. Shards of glass, forgotten beaches, the porch sags, the roof follows suit, the shingles are learning to fly. I remember once, a long time ago the father who spray-painted on the side of the house, I love you kids! Love, Dad. His visible anguish haunted me. And I can’t help but think of the woman who left so abruptly, perhaps in the middle of the night from that failed marriage, with her children in tow. What atrocity was the final straw? His visible anguish there for the commuters to see, haunted me for years. And the father, his heart broken over the loss of his children, reflected here in the house falling to rack and ruin, slowly through the ages. And I think of those children, most likely now with children of their own, did they carry the grief into the next generation, raising children who could never forgive their father, or themselves? The house becomes a metaphor for a failed marriage from so long ago. Windows, broken eyes that can’t see, the heart of the house exposed to the elements. When you let go. Soon the rains will come and seek the lowest common denominator—the floor and the basement—turning that house back into slurry and loam, a harvest of time. How easy it is to forget that marriage needs tending just like the garden, and the house.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

ODES TO THINGS, 2 poems, ODE TO A PENCIL, ODE TO MY WATER FLASK(Hammer)


ODE TO A PENCIL

Pencil, you are a ray of golden sun 
blazing in a field of unripe corn.
You are the wheat bending in the breeze
waiting for an artist to come along,
say, van Gogh, with his bundle of tools, 
to waken from his siesta 
beneath the haywain
and immortalize it in a painting
before he lends an ear 
to his old friend, Gauguin.
Pencil, you are a place 
where blackbirds and crows 
patrol the hedgerows like shadows,
and you whisper secret words 
to the ears of corn 
patiently listening in the field.
Your eraser, pink as a newborn dawn,
does not diminish your mighty voice.
I love the piney scent trapped 
within your Ticonderoga 
cedar heartwood—
it speaks of pungent forests 
on steep mountain slopes, 
where a conjunction of rivers 
stitches its way to the sea.
if I were to squander your stories, 
you might lie fallow, 
not plowing the empty fields 
in the siege of my mind,
losing me on graphite trailheads,
or leading me deeper into the wilderness.
Pencil, you are a fortress of thought.
And your stories, immortal as time,
are merely hibernating, 
waiting for another day, 
perhaps a day that never comes,
or for a night that never ends.


ODE TO MY WATER FLASK

You are the magenta sequence
of the last shuddering throes 
of the fiery sunset, 
you are the turquoise of the sea,
and inside you are round as a thought,
and dark as night, perhaps 
even the full moon sleeps inside you.
You are a brisk mountain stream
for you hold cool, clear water, 
more precious than life itself. 
Ancient artesian wells 
and underground rivers 
were your immortal ancestors.
Sweet stalagmites in dark caves 
pointed to the secret depths 
of darkness and serpentine 
passageways leading to the sea
where clouds on the horizon 
are laden with the promise 
of distant rain, perhaps
pondering the mystery
of a squall far out to sea.

5/27/20
Class poems for Hammer Montessori ES

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Electronic Teaching Journal


Its really been a challenge teaching electronically. I work as an artist in residence at several schools. At least at Malcolm X ES, in Berkeley, we had met several times in person for our poetry workshops before that dread Friday the 13th when the world as we know it irrevocably changed forever, and it took BUSD a couple of weeks to iron the kinks out with Zoom and Google Meets. By then, some kids had dropped off the radar, and it’s been an effort to get them to join, or come back —even sporadically. But I was also able to go much deeper with the students who needed more help and encouragement. So it’s not all bad.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

BLUE LOOM


BLUE LOOM

The sky dreams of robin’s eggs
and the dragonfly has to make a decision 
whether or not to trust the pond, or the sky.
He threads the mirror of the sky
And weaves it with its namesake, the pond
stitching all that blueness together
into a tapestry of light.

5/20/20

Friday, May 15, 2020

Trolling Facebook memories for writing fragments


I love exploring Facebook memories. I find bits of writing and dross that never quite made it to my blog. I often troll through the kruft, and find bits of salvageable writing buried in the comments. It like finding hidden Easter eggs in your software. It’s embedded there, just because. Random acts of delight. I had thought, that since I had been through a year’s cycle of Facebook memory posts a few times over, I had found all the gems. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In this case, a fleeting moment from 2018 still brings back the magic of finding two fallen bluebirds in the grass. Penelope de Montagne had unexpectedly died, and we were all reeling from the shock, I was teaching an overfull schedule against impossible deadlines. Burning the candle at both ends. No wonder the poem never made it to my blog. Maybe this time I will write that poem. But I need to tele-teach in a few moments. Some thing remain the same. Some thing are unimaginable. Who could ever have imagined we’d all be sequestered like this two years later? Sometimes I remember random dream fragments, like this morning, when I looked at the desk. Moving sewing supplies, scraps of paper, spoon and knife. Random, meaningless acts in and of themselves. Nothing tangible to write about. A fleeting moment. I realized that had already dreamed of this moment in time. I e already been here, done that.  But lately I have not wanted to remember my dreams, always so dark, no way out. Pointless. Sequestered. And yet, here we are.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A note to Andrei Codrescu on the launch of his Plague Diaries



Well Andrei, it’s good to see you’re alive. After all these years. Last time I heard from you was in a blanket cc email asking  me whether or not I was dead or alive. Afraid of the outcome, like Schrodinger’s cat, I didn’t know whether to answer it, or to not answer it. Rest assured, I didn’t take it personally. After all it was addressed—or was it undressed—to practically everybody else in Sonoma County. Is you in or is you out?

Yes, I’m delighted to say we’re all still alive and kicking. Gail King and Pat Nolan are on Facebook. Well, Gail is. You know how Pat. Jeffrey Miller is still dead. Hunce Voelcker, too. I wonder if his Brooklyn Bridge castle still stands in the deepwoods of Monte Rio?

I finally got around to scanning my old slides if it. All this free time. If you want to see them, give a shout. It’s fairly quiet in this neck of the woods. No one is out and about, it’s like a rollback in time to the 1960s sans logging trucks. The Summer of Love hasn’t yet happened. We’re all honing our backwoods skills. Victory gardens and foraging. Everybody’s baking bread. We’re all getting fat. And we howl nightly with the neighbors. Lately the coyotes have taken to joining us.

Glad to see you’re here. As you know, there is no there there. On some level, via group memory, we never quite let go of you and your stories. And you’ve no idea who is am, I was one of the young poets taking sprout in poetry’s garden. You are still part of the strange  Ur text of our lives. And we’re delighted that you are in fine fettle  too. You’re looking good. What a long strange trip it’s been. Carry on.
Bliss Buys Cochran saw my note and wrote: I'm also glad you're still around, Andrei. You probably don't even remember me, but maybe you remember the Sonoma County Stump, where Mo and I both worked. I believe you submitted some articles (a column?), it's been 50 years so forgive me if my memory's vague. I look forward to your Plague Diary and I hope you'll be safe in the epicenter. Tried to friend you, but FB says you already have too many friends—5,000!...never knew they could put a limit on your friends. Wonder if THEY'RE all still around.
I told Bliss that I posted her note to AndreI Codrescu. If you go to his author page you can like it and then leave a message there directly if you would like.
Andrei wrote back: Wow! What a blast from the past. Not quite sure who’s who but I’ve been in touch with Pat. I love his Lufe of Crine, his novels and blog. I’m back in New York after 50 years or do... living in Brooklyn. It’s like I left 10 mins ago — a huge demonstration just went past toward the Brooklyn Bridge, probably about to meet thousands in the other side in the old rad Lower East Side.
I have occasional bouts of nostalgia about Monte Rio but too busy to indulge it. I post 3x/a week a video Plague Journal at codrescu.com/my-news. If you want to see it on FB it’s at the Andrei Codrescu Here page. I wonder what Jeff would have thought about the internet, but he’d have recognized all this, it’s just crazy continued. I like your memoir and yes, I’d love to see those pics. Maybe send by We Share or Mail Drop?
Stay sane compadres, love,
Andrei
I said, Andrei,  Bliss Buys and Joe Leary ran the Sonoma County Stump, I was photographer and poetry editor, probably how I met Pat. But then I began to cut my poetic teeth by organizing readings at the Cotati Cabaret, and Sonoma State, circa 1979.I think you were long gone by then. But the stories of you survived. You were the poet in absentía at our gatherings. I remember when the Jeffrey Miller’s posthumous book came out, we read his poems from inside a redwood tree. Drinking may have been involved. But Marianne Ware was always championing your stories. You could hardly forget Marianne, Jewish mama as wide as she was tall, and a generous soul to go with it. If we ever get out of this alive, I will start scanning those photos very soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Electronic Teaching Journal, nothing new, hands recipe

Electronic Teaching Journal 5/12

Today I taught my newly reinvented hands poetry recipe that I developed from one of John Oliver Simon‘s lessons from Poetry Inside Out, but it was too simplistic, so I complicated the lesson up a bit, and offered more open-ended starter line options etc.

Then, when I was going through my teaching notes, I gleaned some of my old teaching files while looking for more support material. I happened upon an old teaching folder filled with drawings of hands, and exercises I developed from a workshop that Veronica Cunningham taught a long time ago, with California Poets in the Schools.

I had used that lesson and developed an art unit as well for Young Audiences. So, in a sense, the evolving lesson is part of the JOS teaching legacy because John was also there in Bishop, and that was my first time being with him on an extended basis after we broke up, so we were going through a lot.

But by revisiting the hands recipe, I had Inadvertently come full circle, and also paid homage to the beginning and the end. Call it the Alpha and the Omega if you will. The idea, that no matter how original we think we might be, there is always something that came before our latest brilliant idea. We are always holding onto, and beholden to the past. We all walk in one another’s shadows.

And that poetry recipe that I did on the backside of Sierra Nevada range in Bishop so long ago with Veronica Cunningham, developed into a full-blown art lesson that included symbolism and the origins of writing as well as picturegrams. I discovered that some of the poem recipes I was using from John Oliver Simon‘s Poetry Inside Out anthology have come full circle. Here I was, thinking I was developing a new lesson that was based upon an old lesson. But it was really the old, and the new colliding.

But what I really want to talk about is that prepping lessons for the process of electronic teaching has gotten me to go back into all these old files that, in some cases, haven’t been touched in two decades.

It’s a trip down memory lane to see my old self and the future self all at once. We are living in a post coronavirus world, nothing will ever be the same. So now is a good a time as any to let go of the old, so that the new ideas may come in.

I was talking about the teaching process with one of my teachers, Colleen Flores, about how difficult it was to teach via Zoom. Here we are all huddled around a tiny screen looking at each other, we’re insect-sized facsimiles of ourselves. I realized how much I rely upon my body, the dancing that I do in front of the classroom does not translate across the mediums. I am limited to my face being in the spotlight.

To teach with only your face as the only throughline, and knowing how self-conscious I am about all the strange and funny faces I make, I realized anew that teaching is more akin to acting, and stand-up comedy than ever. Because all that we are, we are merely talking heads.

I have to plan in advance so that students can see my hands. Forget about the rest of my body—it doesn’t exist. I only exist from the neck up. And God knows I’m trying to hide my neck it’s a frightening sight to see it on the Internet like that. And on it goes.

5/12

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Bioluminescence


I remember once, after pasteup and layout was done at The Paper (Bohemian), after we put it to bed (all nighters were common), we traipsed out to Goat Rock under a full moon, and  the bioluminescence of the red tide dinoflagellates turned the waves azure, so we began to write our names and ephemeral poems in the sand. They glowed for a moment, then disappeared into the night.

Because Southern California is experiencing unprecedented bioluminescence, The byproduct of red tide—and no one is there to witness it, I have become obsessed with it. These memory fragments go nowhere but they juice me, and so I write—even so.

Friday, May 8, 2020

San Geronimo Valley Community Center Spring Art Exhibit, 2020

Spring flowers, Hick's Valley, West Marin. (Photo)
ARTIST STATEMENT

I had been ogling a deluxe Stabilo pencil set for over a year, it arrived all the way from England in a beautiful cherrywood box, just when the coronavirus struck. Some Friday the 13th. My mind was alternately elastic, or a black hole—expanding and contracting—leaving me lost on alien shores of doubt and regret. I couldn’t make art. I couldn’t think. I had the attention span of a newt. The only thing that saved me was driving theback roads to my job. Car botanizing on the back-backroads of home. All this beauty and I couldn’t even leave my car. So beautiful, it almost hurts. I went the long way home whenever possible, sometimes taking hours to get home. This tree, and rock became my anchor. My salvation. I watched the greenery meld into a rainbow fest of flowers. First on the scene were the colors of the sun—buttercups and creamcups, meadowfoam and popcorn flowers, followed by the blazoning poppies, fiery dock, and the magenta flame of mallow, and owl’s clover, the sacred indigo breath of sky lupine, and the majestic finale of purple ookow, and Ithuriel’s spears—secret yarrow in the distance. Meanwhile, the mountain witnessed the passage of the season. In this way I began to find my out of the horror of what is, and what will be for a long time to come. This meadow, my salvation.Tomorrow, the hills will be a little less green, a fleeting moment in time. I am reminded of Robert Duncan’s poem:

“Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow.”

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

When I was a young and uninformed poet, Robert Duncan always included me in readings, encouraged me to keep on writing. —Maureen Hurley


First ever electronic art show while under quarantine. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Three Alexander Valley School freewrites


CORONA ACROSTIX

Come to the window
Open the heart of the day
Return to the beginning
   where anything was possible
Or begin a new dream where we reinvent the future
Nothing can stop us now,
   only our imaginations where we become
A window into the past, and the future.


FREEWRITE WHAT MIRANDA SAID:

Writing about the unsaid, the unspoken, needing to name it, but afraid to invoke its name. Call it a crown, it was the beginning and the end of the world as we knew it, our crowning achievement, sawdust in our mouths, as we hunker down and wait for a new day, a new language. We hide in Prospero‘s Cave, and can only imagine a brave new world that awaits us. What shall we pack for our journey into the abyss?

THE DESTINY OF WATER

Once I was the clear vision of the spring,
then I became the rivulet building speed,
gathering momentum until the mud filled my mouth,
in my angry dance to the sea where turbulent waters
obscured my path, I raged in my angry dance,
until I could no longer see where I was going,
or grasp what obscure future awaited me.
No bright shining path, no Andean glacier to greet me,
only the scales of strange fish in foreign seas.
I think of Neruda and his beloved Isla Negra,
the place where he felt most at home,
where even in his exile, he always returned to,
again and again, especially in dreams.

5/6/20

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Electronic Teaching Journal

Electronic Teaching Journal

After completing three sessions with my Berkeley students, the work they are producing is astounding. I didn’t think that the work would’ve been this good had we not met in person previously. They were already on a roll. 

But teaching via zoom or Google Meets has its challenges—to say the least. At first, we divided up the class into two sections. But not everyone would attend the appropriate section, which cause some havoc. And sometimes kids didn’t get around to finishing their poems and/or sending them into us. 

We meet each Friday from 10 until 11:30, not including the one-on-one one teacher conference time we have before each class and after each class. So the one-hour class really takes us two hours just to teach. And we’re really co-teaching more than ever in this medium.

Then all my students email the poems to me in varying shapes and forms. Obviously the easiest way is when the students type up their work on their  Chromebooks. But since the students are writing in their journals too, oftentimes the parents will take a bad photo and email it to me, some of which I can’t download. 

One poem came in so large that I could only see the upper right quadrant of the poem and it was sideways, so of course I couldn’t read it, let alone download it and Gmail actually stalled during the download. I eventually found a workaround using both my iPad and my MacBook. It essentially involved accessing the thumbnail and using it versus the 10 MB photo that was sent. Google or rather Gmail stalls at anything over 10 MB. I don’t think most people realize that if they send a large file Gmail loses its mind.

For the most part, students are very focused and produce amazing results. One of the benefits of teaching electronically is that I can meet with students one-on-one as they’re writing, to suggest deeper edits, or to add more information.

I find myself telling stories in a different way in order to make the poetic concept more accessible to students. For example, if they have not included a strong comparison, it is far easier for me to go back and ask them to add a comparison electronically than it would be if we were the traditional classroom setting. I find myself also telling stories about how to get them to deepen their metaphors or comparisons. I don’t usually use the word metaphor. 

And I find that because I’m not in the classroom and I can’t use my body language, I have to cut to the chase differently, and resort to other tricks. My worldview is much smaller than it used to be. My world stage is rather smaller, so I am limited to using my face. even working my hands in is a challenge. No body language. It is exceedingly hard to only teach with a half a face and have little use of your hands. We don’t realize how important it is to demonstrate ideas using our bodies. Perhaps it’s kinesthetic learning, but the idea that we convey meaning with more than just our eyes or hands is a critical component of teaching.

Day one of my Brave New World with such wondrous creatures in it. Because I was uncertain as to how the lesson would come across the electronica teaching format, I opted to go back to something we had done the previous time we had met in class which was over a month ago. We had created an electronic version of odes. Since they were familiar with the process, it made it easier for them to go on a scavenger hunt around the house. As we shared our items, we talked about creating 6 to 7 images, or pictures with our scavenger hunt items. We had a little show and tell, a sharing process for each person to share shared their own object, and with that I sent them off to write about their objects.

5/5

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Repaying the debt

Repaying the debt. I have spent time with the people who live in Monument Valley. Like the Dinė elder, artist/ actor, Jesse Holiday. When I asked how he was in Irish, he answered in Spanish. At Red Rock Door, e juggled languages while waiting in line for water at the well pump behind the post office. Yá'át'ééh. Ahéhee.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. We all live in one another’s shadows. Ní neart go cur le chéile. There is no strength without unity. We must build together. Is cuimhin linn. We remember. Ireland remembers. A debt we can never repay, but we can pay it forward to the Navajo Nation. Míle buíochas—a thousand thanks.

When I was young, my grandmother told me—in the oral tradition—the story of how the Cherokees came to our aid during the Great Famine. The Trail of Tears. What few know, is that the Famine, An Gorta Mór, was an act of deliberate genocide created by the British Crown. Sort of like today. There was plenty of food in Ireland, just not for the Irish, so when the potato crops failed, there was nothing for the Irish to eat. But the British landed gentry feasted most sumptuously on delicacies produced in Ireland.

She said the Cherokees also sent us shipments of corn. It was decades, nearly a lifetime, before I saw any mention of this story in print, the only correction I had to add was Choctaw. Or maybe the Cherokee donations were never documented. They were both on the Trail of Tears. Some 60, 000 people displaced, yet they still managed to send relief to Ireland. We walk in one another’s shadows.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

AVS freewrites YOUR HEART IS A DRUM, CATCH & RELEASE

YOUR HEART IS A DRUM

Your heart is a drum 
beating in the sky of self.
It wants to find the place 
where thunder sleeps with the clouds, 
where lightning is an idea of its time, 
where we gather our thoughts 
and dream of the night stars.

CATCH & RELEASE 

Catch and release of the day
When you write a poem it’s like a river, 
it’s like fishing. First you approach the pond, 
and then you cast your line into the water. 
You chase those concentric ripples 
to the opposite shores and when you get a nipple, 
you really in your line, hook that fish, 
reel it in, and bring it to shore. 
Then, you let it go.

Friday, April 24, 2020

ODE TO BRIANNA


ODE TO BRIANNA

Brianna sits at the table
twirling her hair into thick ropes
as she contemplates the unsaid,
unspoken lines of a new poem.
She raises her glass and drinks deep
from the well of knowledge.

4/24/20

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

THE MCGUYVER CHRONICLES


Allergy season
I use Visine for my nose
It can see clearly now.

4/20/20
Love the date.
Not so 20/20

Once I grabbed nose drops
to ease my dry eye syndrome—
daylighting my sinuses.

4/30/20

Sunday, April 19, 2020

SEXING THE GENDER OF BELL PEPPERS

(found poem)

Flip the bell pepper on end
to reveal its gender.
Count the shiny orbs.
If it has four, it’s female,
full of seeds, but sweeter,
better for eating raw.
If it has three humps, it’s male,
best saved for the stewing pot.

4/19/20

NICHTALALLOUDI, II


The thoughts of night were imprisoned somewhere
between that humid blue of distant summer skies,
chinaware, and the foreboding secrets of midnight
locked in deep pools where fragments of sleep
drifted amid vórtices scattered with violet-scented stars.
Last night, the rooster murdered sleep. Again.
A thief of time, for sure, but the waning moon was being coy.
Bleary folds of cerise seep into the cornea of the eye
as if to guide the dawn into an orchestra of light
where the green meadow is lit as if from within,
perhaps a rainy promise, bolsters its courage.
The wild azaleas are late this year, the bees, bereft.
The sky is roiling, overcast with certain gloom,
and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future.
There’s an old Irish saying, What was the color of the wind
on the day of your birth? I don’t know, perhaps
an unspecified pale eastern wind verging on lapis
streaked with silver and indigo with flecks of amber.
Or the heliotrope following the sun. But it has made me restless
and it is a psalm growing darker yet, howling at the door.
To the bee, the wind is always the color of pollen,
to the wolf, dark-fingered shadows on the edge of the forest.
What is the compass point of happiness or joy?
There’ll be time enough for daydreaming
when the danse macabre ushers us
into the secret bosom of the earth.

4/19/20

COLOR-WHEEL POEM


Someone posts a color wheel with the ascendant color yellow representing joy, the oranges and reds representing shades of fear and anger, with magenta, purple and royal blue, representing darker thoughts, emerging towards the hopeful blues and greens. Then she asked what color were our thoughts when we awoke. And what color now? But I couldn’t choose between the colors I loved, and the assigned emotions—I couldn’t get past the metaphor.

I said: Yes, I awoke twice during the night but I would have trouble choosing a color as I tend to choose the colors I love, on the left and bottom of the color wheel—and I don’t associate those assigned dark feelings with that particular color wheel.

I love magenta, it gives me inexplicable joy, and I  am mad for purple, and royal blue—especially the intersection of indigo and violet. These are the colors I tend to wear. They make me happy. They’re bold. I don’t associate dark thoughts with them. I love cyan and green (just not on  me).

Yellow is a color I really dislike along with light green. In my family lime green, triggers migraines. And I am so not fond of any of the orange colors, or red either—except in small doses. I have such a visceral response to color that I can barely enter a Safeway because the predominant colors are yellow and red. It upsets me to no end to be surrounded by those colors. To me yellow is aggression, not joy. It whines. I have trouble concentrating. I also may have a touch of synesthesia. I am not talking about being in the desert and surrounded by sandstone walls that’s different, besides they verge on purple. Purple is not depression, it’s the color of forgiveness, perhaps resurrection.

How we feel about color is subjective, in my case, violently so, visceral, and a singular paradigm won’t work. At least not for me.

I’ll take the entire skewed lower half of the wheel beginning with magenta to green, please.

COLOR-WHEEL POEM

Magenta is a full body hug, passion,
the embers of the soul.
Purple is secretive thoughts and creativity,
the night dreaming.
Royal blue is twilight and goatskin—
sorry, Neruda, poetry defines me.
Delft, or China is blue deep water, emotions,
Monet’s water lilies come to mind.
Cyan is the sky daydreaming of clouds and prisms.
Green is spring’s eternal promise,
the buckeye opening its hands in supplication.

4/19/20

Friday, April 17, 2020

Routine

Routine

DAY 34 (I began sheltering in place on Friday the 13th, a few days before most folks began to hunker down). After a month of sheltering in place, with a few excursions to go to work (I’m a care provider), shop, and to run errands, I begin my mornings early by making a large flask of tea, and I start the porridge in my crockpot—it takes a while to cook but no stirring, or burned pots are involved. Besides, I have all the time in the world. I’m rationing my mush, as Bob’s Red Mill can’t replenish stocks until June. TG I got all that Costco TP before all this madness began. After a lengthy tea party with myself, followed by a deep Facebook debriefing, I eat breakfast and clean up. I migrate downstairs around noonish or maybe 1 pm, for coffee and a tiffin, or a light lunch. Then I head outside to my car which doubles as an office. I try to mix it up a bit so casual dress may include a nightie, sweats, or a combo of both if I’m feeling daring. I use the upright passenger seat, with its excellent window lighting, for my main Messenger/FB interactions—see who’s alive or missing, or dead. Facebook has become the new obituary column. I catch up on my email, and petition signing events. Sometimes Chad Sweeney posts haiku prompts, so the mind is always counting syllables, if not the days and weeks during this quarantine of suspended time. Sometimes I even make some art, but lately that has fallen by the wayside. And later, I might migrate to the backseat for an afternoon lounge with my iPad, for some light reading, writing—often gleaning my comments from Facebook memories to turn them into something. After all, it is poetry month, and I’m generally desperate to flesh out my blog, and meet my imaginary quotas. Or if that fails, maybe I’ll watch some Netflix if I’m especially groggy, or if my eyes have completely gone on strike. There is considerable danger that my lunch event horizon becomes an afternoon snacking affair that merges into the formal dinner hour. Sometimes I stay out late in my car, and join the other howlers in the neighborhood. There is blessed unity in that moment. Then it’s back upstairs to the bedroom atilier with dinner in hand, if I haven’t eaten the entire afternoon, that is. I try to keep my distance from the other folks in the house as I don’t want to share any virus with them as their immune systems are more delicate than mine. There’s that potential that every time I go out into the world that I’ve been exposed to the virus, then the doomsday clock is reset, and I have to wait another five days to see if any symptoms develop. See, lately my throat always hurts. At first, I thought for sure it was the dread virus, but it’s not. That abiding lump in my throat is raw, untamed grief with nowhere to go. I like being upstairs, above the trees, where it’s always wine o clock, I can see a few stars to the east, but there’s no clear shot of the night sky. I miss not seeing the fading light on the western horizon. Only the darkness of redwoods to haunt me. I follow that dinner hour with a cookie, or three, and another chaser of Netflix until I doze off with Gibbs and Abbs. I will probably go through withdrawal when I watch the last episode of NCIS. Since we have all this free time, I began at the beginning. I’m up to Season 13. Soon it will all be over, one way or another. Lately I’ve been so tired, I fall asleep at 9 o clock, which is unusual, but invariably that means I wake up around midnight or 1 am, all owlish, which gets complicated if I have to get up early the next morning to work. Oddly the rooster seems to know when someone’s awake in the house because he redoubles his efforts and sings nonstop until the dawn comes.

Daydreamer


I think I daydreamed my way through Lagunitas school. I was always being busted for gazing out the window, my mind always in that far field, the deep grass outfield where the rattlers sometimes coiled themselves in the sun, where we were forbidden to go, but we went there anyway.

VEILED THREAT haiku


We rallied against
Islamic women wearing burkas
And here we are, all veiled.

4/17/20

Red Tide


When I was young, during deep summer, when the red tide came in, we used to drive out to Blackie’s Pasture near Strawberry Point, and head towards Tiburon, following the shoreline to catch the rare bioluminescent lightshow, where the small waves lapped in, ethereally lit from within. And a decade later, after the bars closed, we’d drive out to Goat Rock, under full moonlight, to scribe our names and lost fragments of poems that would never otherwise be written, our deep confessions in the sand. The ocean as our witness. Our writing glowed with an unearthly light produced by the dinoflagellates trapped on the shore, waiting for the next wave to take them back home.

4/17/20

2 Odes, BOOKSHELF, ODE TO A MIRROR

BOOKSHELF

There he sits
at the edge of the bookshelf
all these years, alone,
a hand-carved wooden cat
waiting for someone to read to him,
guarding all those unopened books
with so many stories to tell
He’s waiting for someone
to admire the gilded spines and covers.
He’s waiting with hands clasped
waiting patiently
for the story to begin.
But the story is waiting to be born
so it can travel the world.

4/17

ODE TO A MIRROR

Ode to an tarnished Victorian mirror
chipped and beveled,
radiating prisms of sunlight
Your silver slip, peeling with age
fogged by a sea of memory.
Ornate pewter roses covered your back.
Once you slept on her oak bureau, dazzled
amidst a sea of perfume bottles and doilies
in an upstairs bedroom, perhaps facing south,
where dust motes danced on lace curtains.
Whole lives, trapped behind the mirror.
I found you sleeping alone
in the old sea captain’s house
by the shore            .


4/17

Thursday, April 16, 2020

PANDEMIC RESPONSE



PANDEMIC RESPONSE

That stark moment when you realize 
those refrigerated shipping containers 
freshly painted white,
lined up on the street 
outside the hospital
are the makeshift morgues.

4/16/20

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

FRIDGIDAIRE BLUES


FRIDGIDAIRE BLUES

I cleaned out the fridge today
Hesitated, then tossed the yogurt
I need a war plan to wage the next meal.

Tossed old food and cheese
petrified and ossified—
lamenting the waste.

I don’t have the heart
to toss out all the containers.
Maybe they’ll improve with time.

Chickens followed me
into the garage to admire
a packet of frozen thighs.

A halo of chickens
at my feet, we admire
their full crate of eggs.

The butter went off.
No chance of finding bog bodies
or Bronze Age butter either.

4/15/20

Connemara pony origins


A well -meaning writer friend who leads spiritual anim cara style trips to Ireland, invoking its mythical misty past posted a story on Facebook about how the Vikings brought the Connemara pony to Ireland. Well, that got me going. I mean he has something like 4000 followers that dote on his every word. Perhaps seeking damage control, I posted this comment on his page:

Contrary to what Wikipedia says, the Connemara pony is native to Ireland, it was not brought to Ireland by the Vikings. I can’t even begin to fathom how that notion came about. There were already plenty of fine horses in Ireland. And because Ireland was a cattle culture from the Bronze Age, right up to the Viking invasions, horses too were very much part of the cultural landscape.

The Connemara pony’s genetic ancestry is derived from an ancient source that predates the arrival of the Vikings. In fact, they carry a northern late glacial European mDNA C1 gene cluster shared with Exmoor, Shetland, Fjord, Icelandic, and Scottish Highland ponies—which “suggests a common late glacial or postglacial origin for these pony breeds.” 1. DNA studies were conducted on “five British-Irish native pony populations... Carneddau (Welsh)... Connemara ponies (native to Ireland) and Highland ponies (native to Scotland).” 2. And  they discovered that “The Highland and Connemara matrilines were more closely related than to the Welsh ponies.” Meaning they Probably did travel back and forth across the Irish Sea.

We know, at least according to the Irish epics, that native aboriginal Bronze Age British and Irish ponies were theoretically being raced in two-wheeled chariots as early as 400 BC. Icelandic ponies, related to what is called the early Celtic horse—specifically the Kerry Bog pony, Ireland’s oldest breed—probably contributed to the Icelandic pony gene pool too, as Dublin was the main port of call to Iceland, not Norway.)

Sometimes articles cite the Andalusian horse as an ancestor breed that contributing to the Connemara bloodlines. The problem with that theory is that the Andalusian horse carries a completely different gene cluster, D1. So how does this work? Magical thinking?

But to be fair, “In the 12th Century, Spanish (Iberian) stallions were imported and used to breed with small (Welsh) mountain mares.” 2. in Wales, to create the bigger Powys, and Hackney pony (British). So it’s remotely possible some of that hot Iberian bloodline eventually found its way into the Connemara pony bloodlines, but, here’s the rub, the appropriate DNA cluster simply isn’t there. Besides, the 12th c. is no longer considered to be the Viking era, the Norman era, maybe.

This story may be the source of the Andalusian bloodline theory. “The Connemara Pony's origins go back some 2,500 years to the time when Celtic warriors brought their dun colored ponies onto the island of Ireland and used them to draw war chariots and carts along the beaches and river plains of their new found home. The history is obscure, yet the Connemara Pony is considered Ireland's only native breed. Mythology tells us that the tribes of western Ireland were mounted. Legend has it that when the Spanish Armada sank off the Connemara coast in the 16th Century, the horses swam to shore and bred with the native ponies running wild in the mountains.” 3.

But anything linking an Armada ancestry theory is always suspect. Legend, and not fact. Repeat something often enough, and it becomes “true.” Like with today’s politics. Ditto that with the Viking story. Also, why would Vikings even need to bring horses to Ireland, it would be like bringing coals to Newcastle. I actually had to explain that idiom to someone who had never heard of Newcastle before. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to explain First Footing. But I digress.

During the 1700s, Arabian blood was introduced to many Forest, or northern/cold horse breeds. That’s how we got the thoroughbred. But according to conservation genetics of endangered horse breeds, the native pony breeds show far less less foreign genetic influence than the large horses—probably because they weren’t considered valuable. Their diminutive size protected their gene pool. But no matter what, the native mare always carries essence of the bloodline. Blood will out.

Anyway, silence was his loud reply.

My sources:

1. From Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic horse
2. Genetic diversity and phylogenetic analysis of native mountain ponies of Britain and Ireland reveals a novel rare population
3. International Museum of the Horse, Connemara Pony


Monday, April 13, 2020

Guerrilla photobombing the wildflowers


To see the flowers go to Facebook

Easter Monday: I was botanizing on backroads while driving back & forth to work today (I’m a care provider.) Most pix are from Nicasio, or Hick’s Valley, West Marin. Since I can’t park the car—or risk getting a ticket, these are all stolen roadside shots. Guerrilla photography at its worst—no time to compose or focus. And my camera is losing its ability to focus so I snap madly & hope I get something. I was pretty numb by Easter Sunday, with SiP, is sing my family, and taking photos of wildflowers helped pull me from the darkness. I mean, who can resist a wild goose guarding his buttercup kingdom....


“The true and durable path into and through experience involves being true … to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge.” —Seamus Heaney – born this day. My old friend’s last words were “Noli timere.” Go raibh maith agat, mo chroidhe. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.
More pix here of Sonoma County flowers

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter, 1950s (photo)



New Easter bonnet and new maryjanes with cutout designs. The Shirley Temple look replete with ruffled rompers. Note the little cardboard purse with its gold chain. I’m sure my little white lace gloves were inside it. I loved that headband hat made of lace daisies and dragged it around for years. The dress was itchy, I was not above trying to take it off in public, and I got into trouble for dragging the toes of my new shoes on the sidewalk. I remember the little fence, it delighted me as it was just my height. I remember the photo being taken, I remember being scolded for fidgeting, and my legs were cold. They’re also crossed because I probably had to pee. I also stood like that because I was shy. I still do. But I knew enough to smile. We were either headed toward, or returning from Star of the Sea Church, where I was baptized, in San Francisco.


My very first Easter bonnet. My hair was bright copper, my mom's hair was auburn. I was some fatty, my mother, so lithe and lean. I remember I loved that celadon silk baby quilt to death—it was pale lavender on the other side. Her Hawaiian print skirt later became couch pillow covers. Forest Knolls, CA.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dragracers




This morning, about 10 to 15 high-end black vehicles, mostly sports cars, Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs, Teslas were dragracing along Nicasio Valley Road from Point Reyes. Near the Nicasio Valley Road Point Reyes intersection, one idiot flipped a U-turn right in front of me so he could double back and cruise with his buddies who were behind me. Pretty certain a car is not supposed to flip a U-turn while doing at least 40 miles an hour to go the other direction—especially with oncoming traffic. Now I may drive fast, but only when I have the road to myself and there’s no one else around. This guy was no Steve McQueen, or James Garner. I had to stop and let him finish his three-point turn right in the middle of the road. They blew through the stop signs. They recklessly passed people in slow zones, on blind double yellow line curves, through the school zone (ok, so there was no school), and they were a danger to not only themselves, but to those of us who are also on the road.  The first time I’ve been tailgated and nearly run off the road like that. Officer Casey wasn’t in his usual place, I had no cell reception in Nicasio, there’s only that one pullout along the reservoir that I have cell and I was surrounded. I couldn’t get a photo when they passed me on the double yellow line. Next time I’ll be more prepared. We’d see them joyriding every weekend from the front porch in Nicasio, the rich boys road rumble—but these guys were more aggressive. Cabin fever. And they were even more reckless then they would otherwise have been, because they were in macho herd mentality. Since when did West Marin become the Sears Point raceway for the rich assholes with nothing better to do than flaunt the Shelter in Place imperative. Do they think they’re immune to the virus?

FOWLISH GODDESS


FOWLISH GODDESS

The minute I step from the car
they come running from all directions.
Such ridiculous creatures gather round
as if to worship at my feet.
They cock their heads and gaze at me
expectantly with their fowlish red eyes,
snuggle closer, as if I had all the answers.
If I walk down the road to get the mail
while clucking their one-note song,
they will come gallivanting from all directions,
dangerously listing from side to side
like drunken sailors with their first steps on dry land,
a mad feathered staggering parade of floozies.
I am the goose girl from the fairytales.
I am the oracle, the one who scatters crumbs.
But there is no sure way to tell them
that even goddesses must come home to roost.

4/11/20

I guess this could be a moment poem, April 5 PaD prompt. But really I just lifted it from my Facebook comments

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Tending bar


Once I was head bartender for Blue Heron Catering, so I learned some odd cocktail names. One time at a lesbian wedding, this woman asked me for some Sex on the Beach. I was dumbfounded, I never heard of that particular cocktail—and believe me, there were no cocks anywhere at this wedding.  Since I couldn’t sneak a peek at my mixed drinks guide, I gathered my wits about me and asked, without dropping a stitch, And how do you like your sex on the beach? She rolled back and laughed. Gave me a big tip.

Today’s rabbit hole



Easy Peary. The answer is 25 animals.
1 rabbit
12 monkeys
12 parrots.

Or the answer is 5, depending upon how you read it. The elephants didn’t get to go to the river. It’s a red herring. The  question is how many animals are going towards the river, forget about the elephants. Though I don’t see why they wouldn’t go the the river too, they love water. There are no elephants in the room, or in the equation either—unless you’ve been drinking before 5 PM, and you know it’s always 5 PM somewhere, around the world.  And your deductive reasoning skills went right out the window.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Draining the swamp


Quinine, a drug with many, many adverse side effects, is used to kill parasites. Parasites. As in blood parasites from malaria-infected mosquitoes. Hence the popularity of gin and tonics in the tropics. Once malaria was thought to come from the bad night air. It took a while to make the connection to mosquitoes. To get rid of the mosquitoes, people drained the swamps. I don’t know how they discovered quinine helped check malaria. It’s awful stuff. One of the few good side effects of quinine is that it’s also an anti-inflammatory agent for people with autoimmune disease—like lupus. Flannery O’Connor had lupus—the wolf disease. Quinine is plain old deadly. It’s a trade-off. Coronavirus is a virus. A virus, not a bacteria. It’s neither a parasite, nor a protozoan, for that matter. The only parasite is the orange paramecium in the Oval Office. Unfortunately, the above swamp comparison does great disservice to the lowly paramecium. Draining the swamp begins in the Oval Office. That’s how we got into this mess. We didn’t drain the swamp on time and now there’s a malarial stench across the land. Not to mention the fact that, after the great Cheetolini fired all the scientists, he now considers himself to be an expert on the coronavirus, comparing himself to be on par with doctors, ignoring the maxim, First, do no harm. People are dying from quinine overdoses because he said to take it. Shades of Jim Jones. What Koolaid are they drinking? Swamp water by any other name.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Endgame?


There is an inherent flaw in this sheltering-in-place. We buy time, flatten the curve, slow the spread of the virus—then what? We’re still vulnerable, unless we’ve got antibodies by contracting the disease & the virus doesn’t mutate into new strains. A vaccine takes time to develop. Interim endgame?

Yes, asking the hard question is always unpopular. Some people mis-took my statement to suggest that I’m questioning the concept of shelter in place, which I clearly am not. The word flaw is a bit of a red herring. A provocateur. And my Republican acquaintances are still in denial, telling me and no uncertain terms, challenging my critical thinking skills, because I dare to challenge them in their beliefs that Trump has done everything possible for us and is a good president. He dismantled the CDC infrastructure, FFS. Why don’t they get it?

Saturday, April 4, 2020

DRIVING DOWN HICK’S VALLEY ROAD

DRIVING DOWN HICK’S VALLEY ROAD

Driving down the backroads
meadowfoam assaults my senses
and vernal pools flood the eye.

I slam on the brakes
& step into the honeyed air
I’m late, but the heart

still dreams anyway.
It’s the journey that matters
not the appointments.

4/4/20

Ten true conversations with famous people

Post ten true meetings where you’ve had meaningful face-to-face conversations with famous people, but one memory needs to be a lie.

1. I once took photos of Kenny Rogers at his request with his local friends—he was very kind to me and asked about my photography, poetry teaching, and then he comped me in for the show for my trouble. I was also actually paid for my work. I was surprised that I enjoyed the show so much.

A year ago today, my iPad was stolen


A year ago today, just hours later, while my friend was recovering from surgery with a stiff latte at Peet’s in San Rafael, my iPad was stolen. Facebook Memories just restored a lost bit of writing to me. A poem, DESPERATELY SEEKING LATTE. Not a great poem, not quite an April Fool’s joke. I was not expecting that. But this fool will suffer it gladly. While I was doing a good deed for a friend, someone took my lifeline. Thank god someone loaned me an old iPad so I was able to limp along until August when I replaced it. I am ever so grateful to Sam and his family for helping me to defray the replacement cost. I don’t use my flip phone as I hate phones. Besides, I have no reception deep in the hills of West Sonoma County and West Marin where I divide my time. Most people have smartphones, I have my iPad. My cyber link to the world, my lifeline during this time of social distancing. Who could’ve even imagined this scenario? And yet, here we are. As the song goes, If we ever get out of this world alive.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Corona dream


Last night I dreamed a tightly curled succulent, the size of a baseball, opened up its knife-like leaves into a crown, a corona. It sprung into action when I approached, instilling both beauty and fear. It was tracking me, almost sentient. There was no escaping it. It followed me everywhere. I dreamed I was infected, and woke up in a sweat. And of course, I panicked. We once had a sepia-tone lithograph Arkle, a famous Irish racehorse on the living room wall, and I decided colorize it, to make it look more lifelike by lightly tracing around the outside of the horse with a red pencil, the kind teachers used to correct homework. The addition of red line really made the horse’s flared nostrils seem alive. You could almost hear him breathing. I also embellished a photo of my grandmother’s long-dead brother. She was not happy. See, in the old Irish tales, animals from the Otherworld always had red auras, red-ringed ears, and noses. They lived forever. Decades later, when I scanned the family photos, that embellished photo of my great uncle, was the sole survivor, and I had to remove the traces of my childhood art. Penance. Fortunately it was a sepia-tone, more forgiving to work with. Survivors say the color of their dreams changed—so vivid, that there were no boundaries between waking and dreaming. It was as if they had entered another realm. Lately, I’ve taken to coloring soft red lines around my dreams in order to keep them alive.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Disguise dream


Last night’s dreams led me to the past. I was cast in a role from the late 1800s. I searched my closet for appropriate clothing and decked myself out in layers of long dresses, a facsimile, for sure, but I had no appropriate shoes. Modern flats would give me away. It was important that I was incognito. My life depended on it. But pulling off the disguise was proving a difficult task as I had given away nearly all my clothing and shoes when I fled my ex-boyfriend’s house last year. I found some old Reeboks but they were mismated shoes, singles—one red, and one black. How on earth did that happen? I loved my red pair, and wore them to death until this century—but the black ones were from the 1970s. Egad. Time collapsing. I awoke, wondering how I would adapt. How I would be able to pull off the disguise. How I could fool the audience. Then I remembered the black paint. Forget about the Velcro straps. I could disguise that, easily enough. Problem solved. Then I remembered it was April Fool’s Day. What kind of joke was that? And who was pulling the strings?

MOTIVATIONAL ROOTS


A friend asks,What motivates you?
Wanting something good or fearing the bad?
Born at the edge of autumn, in late November,
the convening darkness motivates me,
diminishing light relentlessly spurs me on.
A slavedriver. Call it fear, call it death. Call it desire.
But, yes, that’s what motivates me.
Creativity is its progeny,
and gratitude is something earned.
Call it a state of grace.
That’s what survives us.

1/4/20

2020 April Poem-A-Day Challenge

Don’t forget to visit the pre-writing prompts in March, suggested by yours truly. I even get a mention! We are a captive audience, after all. The hot link dates will take you back to Robert Brewer’s page where he also in ludes examples. I will post all the prompts here to keep my big haired blog somewhat tamed. If that’s even possible. Or you can go directly to Robert’s blog where all the prompts are listed.

April 1   Today is the first day of the 2020 April Poem-A-Day Challenge! Each day, I’ll provide a poetry prompt and a poem to get things started. You can secretly poem along at home, or you can share your poem in the comments below.
For today’s prompt, write a new world poem. There are new worlds and there are new worlds. You could write a poem about discovery of an actual planet. Or maybe your new world is actually a state of mind—or a series of books! In a way, I consider each new challenge a bit of a new world. Let’s explore this one together.
Remember: These prompts are just springboards; you have the freedom to jump in any direction you want. In other words, it’s more important to write a new poem than to stick to the prompt.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

AT THE LAGUNA 3 haiku (photo)



AT THE LAGUNA

Though the park is closed
father & son cast off their lines
while fish ignore the bait.

They will remember
this day stolen from the book
of time—if they live long enough.

Egrets patrol the floodplain
lost angels stitching the sky
to remnants of the shore.