Friday, December 27, 2019

End of year writing stats

Year-end writing stats. It’s been a rather rough year, some 30 poems, and a baker's dozen of prose poems, that makes 43 poems, so far, out of 101 posts. At first, it was only 89 posts, I despaired, but with the help of Facebook Memories, I was able to glean and a couple dozen more posts—including a few poems that I never posted here. My poetry minimum is 52 solid poems, so I fell behind. Maybe I should count all those haiku separately. However, with the prose poems, I do have about 52 poems total. Maybe not such a bad year, after all. Considering.

It’s been a stressful, if busy, year. Still living rough, still living on the run. But determined to stay In the game, firmly anchored in my art. My last refuge, my cousins’ Nicasio house was destroyed on the 4th of July, leaving us homeless (again), and then there was a Sonoma County Kincade Fire evacuation in October. What a nightmare. Both places where I’ve been living, were either destroyed, or under attack. Since the fire, I’ve been living under siege, sheltering in place in an empty house with most of the electricity knocked out, babysitting two desperate cats, making sure the place didn't get looted.

My cousin Dave’s stroke, followed by his marriage to a woman who seemingly reinvents veritas to suit her scenarios, has left me bereft, with no plan B. My car’s on its last legs, and I’m living here, there, and everywhere. So, my car is my lifeline. I carry clothing, art supplies, my electronics, etc.

To make matters worse, my iPad was stolen in April, with myriad photos, and bits of writing that never made it to the cloud. Some April Fool’s joke. I will never see some of that work again.

My cousin Sinead and I took a jaunt to Hawaii to see my friends Dulcie in Kauai, and also Kathie on Oahu. It’s been ten years since I’ve been to Hawaii, long overdue. Lots of photos. And lots of extraordinary outdoor time, circumnavigating the Na Pali coast from the other side, snorkeling, revisiting Waimea Canyon, in Kauai, and circumnavigating Oahu, revisiting my old haunts discovering some new ones on North Shore. Snorkeling again, Hanamua Bay. Not enough beach time, though. then Hawaiian Airlines and American Express double-charged me for the tickets, when I upgraded, and I cannot seem to straighten it out., no matter how loudly I scream. It’s all a vast metaphor for being ripped off in general.

I feel so overwhelmed these days. I can only take baby steps. One foot in front of the other. I’m learning to feel secure within myself during these insurmountable times, living only within the present tense. I’ve had a couple of housesitting gigs, I’m now housesitting in Berkeley through the new year. Respite.

Poems published in the Julia Vinograd memorial anthology.
POEM ON THE PASSING OF JULIA VINOGRAD, STREET POET (2018)
And I have a poem forthcoming in Molly Fisk’s upcoming Fire and Water anthology.
LOVE IN A TIME OF FIRE

I was a featured poet for the Petaluma Poetry Walk, and I also read at Watershed for The Open Mike Slot. I wrote a massive California Arts Council grant for Poetry Flash. all this while living itinerantly.

Ive been a few art shows at the San Geronimo Community Cultural Center, sold a photograph.
Senior art show
Spring art show (poster)

I made a new art blog to keep track of my art. I need to make one, maybe two for my photos

My Brownie Mary photo is in a traveling exhibit: Weedmaps Weed Museum where it will tour for three years. Someone lifted it from my blog, cut off my name and copyright, and reposted it on a Facebook site where it was massively redistributed, I lost track after 30,000 shares.

Taking stock, old inventories of the past, blog list I’ve been scanning old negatives from the 1980s and 1990s, giving back, as it were. Mostly of poets. I need to find a digital home for my scans, I don’t think Blogger will do. Here are some posts.
Scanning old negatives of the Napa Poetry Conferen...
A gathering of poets, Orange Hill, Nassau Island, ...
For the Bahamas (scans from 1985) (photos)
Giving back old photos
Brownie Mary photo scan

Still on the back-back burner: documenting and photographing my old pottery and ceramics pieces from the 1970s.
Taking stock, old inventories of the past, blog 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

PERHAPS A GARDEN MoSt poetry Challenge 12

Vincent van Gogh, Winter (Vicarage Garden under Snow), ca. January 1885, Nuenen

PERHAPS A GARDEN

Vincent leaned into the sound and the sweat 
of shoveling snow, mid-winter 
and despair took on the song of ice.
The sun hung like an ornament in the sky 
but offered little warmth, no surety of its return. 
His breath froze, small crystals formed 
and merrily rang to the ground like a fairy orchestra.
But he couldn’t see that, his mind was always raging 
against the darkness that followed him.
Despite everything, it seemed he was always fighting 
with god or the devil, he would come to find 
there was little to distinguish between the two, 
always and eternally at odds with themselves.
Is he merely shoveling snow, or digging a grave? 
The bare trees and bauchy snow sounded their distress to the sky, 
even the distant town perched on the meniscus of winter 
offered little solace from the grim landscape.
Perhaps a garden dwells beneath that snow 
but the promise of spring is capricious as faith.

1/18/20

Boxing Day, or how the wren was killed


Ireland: its scenery, character etc.(Volume I, S.C. Hall. London:
Virtue & Co., 1843. D. Maclise, engraved by Landells.

Today is Boxing Day, or St. Stephen’s Day, as my grandmother called it. When I was a child, I wondered what pugilists, saints, and tiny wrens had in common. I may have gotten the boxer part wrong. There were no boxers in the arena, or cardboard boxes, for that matter—but there were bad boys involved. She said, the day after Christmas, you boxed up all your food and old clothing and gave it to the poor. A sort of second Christmas.

She then told me the story of how, when she was young, the boys of Bantry would dress in straw and tattered rags, put on masks and parade a dead wren about the town. The wren boys would put the poor bird on a tall pole adorned with ribbons, and evergreens, mistletoe and pine, holly and ivy. Then they’d parade the wee beastie about the village, beating their drums, waving their bullroarers, creating musical mayhem on everybody’s front steps. I was horrified. No, no, not the wren!

As if killing the wren wasn’t enough, gangs of boys demanded a ransom in exchange for a wren’s feather, and collected small coins from everybody in the village to bury the poor bugger. What they did with the money, she never said. Give us a penny to bury the wren. If you haven't a penny a halfpenny will do/ If you haven't a halfpenny/ Well then, God bless you. Apparently the coinage was collected to fund a Wren’s ball sometimes in January. Perhaps for the Epiphany. Boxing Day was the British renaming of the Feast of St. Stephen. Then there’s the Druidic winter feast. So, Wren Day is a triad compromise of faiths and liminal boundaries.

Perhaps to appease me, she said sometimes they caged the wren and then let him go after the festivities were done. I thought maybe she had gotten her stories crossed because what she described sounded suspiciously like Halloween trick-or-treat—with a Christian flair—except for the addition of  the effigy of the wily wren, a rat fink bird (who betrayed St. Stephen, the first martyr stoned to death for believing in Jesus. I had forgotten that part of the story, too grisly and too convoluted to follow.)

She then followed up with another story of how The birds argued who was the king of the birds. The wren and eagle dickered over who could fly the highest. The eagle flew up as high as he could, but the wren, hidden on his back, leapt off the back of the eagle to fly the highest, thus proclaiming himself to be the king of birds. I knew there was a moral imperative embedded in the story, I wasn’t sure exactly what. So I imagined the wren wearing a tiny crown of thorns, of course.

One dreary day, not too long ago, a small wren slipped into the house by the back door. I had a devil of a time catching it, and when I did, it had a lot to say, clearly I was being roundly cursed by a wren, I opened my palm, and let it go, it wasn’t letting bygones be bygones. It fiercely scolded me from the safety of the garden gate as if I were responsible for all that mayhem.

‘Dreoilín, Dreoilín, Rí na nÉan,
Dreoilín a fuaireas-sa thíos ar an inse,
Istigh fé charraig agus carbhat síoda air,
Thugas-sa chugaibhse é, lánúin an tí seo,
Agus má thugann sibh onóir na Féile dom’ Dhreoilín
Le bhur lámha do shíneadh,
Go mbeire an bhliain fé mhaise agus fé áthas arís oraibh.’

The wren the wren the king of all birds,
Saint Stephen's day he got caught in the furze,
Although he is little his family is great,
Cheer up landlady an give us a treat,
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
Give us some money to bury the wren!

Dreoilín, dreoilín, where's your nest?
'Tis in the bush that I love best
In the tree, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me.

Facebook memory, new iPad, 2014


Standing on second base in Nicasio trying to find a cell signal. Nope. New iPad Air 2, 128GB, cellular model. Nicasio baseball diamond, testing out the panorama mode! © Maureen Hurley 2014.

The backstory: for my 60th birthday, friends chipped in to buy me an iPad, but Neil said he was a bit short—could we wait on it? He’d make it up at Christmas. Sure, I said. I wanted all the bells and whistles—the 128GB model with cellular, I was willing to wait. And waited I did—another year. And another. The promise of the new very expensive iPad meant there were no gifts from Neil for my birthday or Christmas for the next two years. None. Just an accumulation of iPad IOUs stacking up. I think he conveniently forgot about it, hoping I wouldn’t press it. Or that I’d buy one myself.

But my friends kept nagging me, asking if I finally bought that iPad yet. I said, but I only received about $45. Nowhere near enough to buy an iPad. Finally, Jane Bark told me how much they each had donated. I was floored. It was a full house. I did the math. Then it dawned on me, rather than give it to me, he had pocketed the money. Scottish, my ass. By then he had conveniently forgotten how much money people had given him, I’m sure.

And I had kept him in Macs and MacBooks that I had bought and refurbished, for nearly two decades. And here he was denying me my iPad. It wasn’t just about being strapped for cash. Something much darker. Finally, I had to resort to a screamfest to shame him into getting that iPad. He handed me his credit card, wanting me to buy the cheapest model. I ordered the most expensive iPad, the one that I wanted. The one that I had been waiting three years for—no compromise.

I loved the all possibilities within that iPad. Lots of storage, great camera, and the cellular aspect was brilliant, I was no longer tethered to WiFi. But it was a long and painful road to get that iPad. I had it inscribed on the back, In Dreams Begins Possibilitywith a nod to WB Yeats.

A few years later, when the battery failed, I was devastated, but Apple replaced the iPad for $100. I was back in business. But by then, the iPad had become such an integral part of my work, I couldn’t imagine life without it. I was able to document and scan all my papers and memorabilia, including many of my poetry journals—which meant that I was finally able to flush out this blog, all those lean years began to fill in with blog entries. The iPad was an excellent archival tool, and helped me to create a literary timeline of my life’s work, such as it is. A retrospective. For that, I was grateful. I still used my headless MacBook Pro for OCR and formatting. But the transportability of the iPad was positively liberating.

I should’ve seen the writing on the wall. It wasn’t just Neil’s stinginess over money, it was a deep abiding stinginess of the soul. After Neil and I broke up in August, 2018, fittingly, that iPad was stolen, the following April 2019, while I was helping a friend who just had surgery, to the car. Some April Fool’s joke. We had a good run, that iPad and I. But karma fuck & damn the San Rafael Peet’s customer who took my iPad. I finally replaced it at the end of August with a 256 GB iPad Air 3—an expensive ouch that cost half what the first iPad cost. But friends chipped in to ease the burden. For that I am grateful. I am forging myself a new life because, well, In Dreams Begins Possibility.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Vineyard gulags


Vineyards are unsightly as compared to the natural Northern California landscape, and they’re a very thirsty monoculture, they tend to destroy all native species and habitats. Unfortunately vineyards are not without their destructive nature. Too many vineyard owners up and down the coast have bulldozed and razed ancient heritage oak forests into kindling in order to plant grapes—and only pay a small fine for their transgressions.

How many people know the opening screensaver,  that iconic green hill rising like a sun in Cotati that countless Windows users have gazed upon for decades is now a gulag of grapes? You can’t undo the damage that vineyards cause, and you can’t unsee it either.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Marin during the Depression


It’s a myth to assume that all of Marin was made of old European money, therefore immune to the effects of the Great Depression. My Irish grandmother, who was European but had no old or new money, acquired habits of extreme thrift, and was a master at fixing and repurposing things. She saved tinfoil, rubber bands, string, had rich junk drawers and junk piles. She made sheets and clothing from flour sacks and gunneysacks for her 8 children, she grew food in the garden. Canned food for the winter. Traded food with neighbors for milk, and eggs. Saved fat. All those industrious habits were forged during the depression and were passed onto the next two generations. The model is at hand.

Monday, December 16, 2019

PCH is Highway 1. It’s all a matter of perspective.


PCH is Highway 1—in SoCal it’s called Pacific Coast Highway. When they try and call Highway 1 PCH in NorCal, we tend to lose our minds.... it’s not Highway 101 but to confuse things, 101 joins forces with Highway 1 at Oxnard and Ventura to Santa Barbara, heads inland at Gaviota, while HIghway 1 veers toward Lompoc and goes inland towards Santa Maria—but doesn’t follow the coast until Arroyo Grands and Pismo Beach.

Highway 101 and Highway 1 share a stretch roadbed at Leggett where it becomes 101 all the way to Port Angeles, where it circles the Olympic Peninsula—the coastal side of the loop is sometimes referred to as Highway 1 too. And when you cross the Straits, it resurfaces as a stretch of Highway 1 from Victoria to Naniamo to Vancouver but just to be ridiculous, then Highway 1 goes inland to Calgary to the East Coast. I blame it on the Canadian beer.

Besides, once you get to Northern California Highway 1 is no longer called Pacific Coast Highway. Then there’s Baja to consider too. That too is Highway 1...I think I’ve traveled every stretch of it from Calgary west and south to Cabo. One all the way. It’s all a matter of perspective depending upon where you live, alliances to the northern or southern part of the state.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

UNDER THE MADRONE, OLD OBSTACLES, MoSt poetry challenge #1 4 haiku


Many challenges
A year of indecision
Obstacles melted.

Under the madrone
Old car settles in, dreaming
Of the open road.

Settling into
A new life without rancor
Myriad choices.

New digs deepen roots
When the past becomes a dream
Old tree bears new fruit.

Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center New Year’s challenge 1 haiku


Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center New Year’s challenge.

Write a haiku for some goodness that has happened to you this year. If you find it difficult to choose just one, feel free to create a haiku series of goodnesses. Ready…steady… go…

Many challenges
A year of indecision
Obstacles melted.

Under the madrone
Old car settles in, dreaming
Of the open road.

Settling into
A new life without rancor
Myriad choices.

New digs deepen roots
When the past becomes a dream
Old tree bears new fruit.










NYPC 11 Prompts

Prompt #1: Greetings, Poets! Okay, here we go…For your first poem—and continuing Gillian’s first-poem tradition to ease us all into this—
Write a haiku for some goodnessthat has happened to you this year. Feel free to create a haiku series of goodnesses if it’s difficult to choose just one. Ready…steady… go…

Prompt #2: Consider times in our lives when we are at the table, or someone has said, Come to the table. Write a poem for these times, or about the many sorts of tables (dining, negotiating, or even Periodic) we come to —or leave. For inspiration, consider this poem by our current U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo: https://poets.org/poem/perhaps-world-ends-here

Prompt #3: Write a poem in response to this idea: The Graceful Stumble. This is a prompt from the contest portion of our MoSt 8th Annual Poetry Festival, which will be held on Saturday, February 1st, 2020. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, January 11th, 2020. For more information, go to our website:
https://www.mostpoetry.org/event/8th-annual-modesto-poetry-festival/

Prompt #4: Write a poem in response to one or some (or all!) of these quotations, and/or use them as an epigram in your poem, or form the title of your poem from part of the quotation:

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” (Douglas Adams)

“Out of every wandering in which people and places come and go in long successions, there is always one place remembered above the rest because the external or internal conditions were such that they produced happiness…One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world’s end somewhere, and holds fast to the days, as to fortune or fame.” (Willa Cather)

“Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.” (Natalie Goldberg)

“If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.” (Hazel Henderson)

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” (Albert Einstein)

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” (E. B. White)

“Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.” (Groucho Marx)

Prompt #5: Write a poem in response to this idea: Handling Earth With Care. This is a prompt from the contest portion of our MoSt 8th Annual Poetry Festival, which will be held on Saturday, February 1st, 2020. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, January 11th, 2020. For more information, go to our website:
https://www.mostpoetry.org/event/8th-annual-modesto-poetry-festival/

Prompt #6: Try your hand at writing an ode (a poem of praise) or an elegy (a poem of loss) to a mentor. (See more detailed descriptions by the Academy of American Poets below.)
In The Odyssey, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus whom Odysseus placed in charge of his son Telemachus and of his palace when he went off to the Trojan War. The personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague. (Yes, this previous sentence has been paraphrased from Wikipedia.)
Consider who your mentors have been; write an ode or elegy to them and their commitment, energy, enthusiasm, and other characteristics. Or, to whom have you been a mentor? Who needsmentoring, and how, and why? See if you can write your poem embracing some of these elements.
https://poets.org/glossary/ode
https://poets.org/glossary/elegy
Prompt #7: Write a poem in response to this idea: Notre Dame. This is a prompt from the contest portion of our MoSt 8thAnnual Poetry Festival, which will be held on Saturday, February 1st, 2020. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, January 11th, 2020. For more information, go to our website:
https://www.mostpoetry.org/event/8th-annual-modesto-poetry-festival/

Prompt #8 (for December 22nd): Happy Winter Solstice! I guess you could call today’s prompt The Long and the Short of It, or Slow and Steady…
Write about a time when you had to do something slower than you’re used to because something “modern and efficient” broke down. OR write about doing something “the old-fashioned way” because you enjoy it. OR write about doing something carefully and meticulously because something important is at stake. OR combine all three elements…
For an example, read this poem by Maine poet Judy Punturo:

Cutting the Grass With Scissors


You do it
when there seems to be no other way,
when things have gone too far;

when the lawn mower balks
and even the weed whacker shies.
It’s slow, yes,

but surprisingly effective,
Grasp a handful, pull aside,
and shear, down near the roots,

and then you hold a sheaf like wheat
to harvest in a pile, or lay
like cushioned carpet on the path.

Sometimes spit bugs,
shaken from their frothy homes,
rest on your hand,

and then crawl on,
while copper beetles
scuttle for shade.

I like the intimacy
With a patch of ground,
The closeness and drawing in,

the sibilance,
the swish the grass makes
with the scissored snap of stems,

the way time changes,
stalls and disappears
with each slow slice.


Judy Punturo
Cutting the Grass with Scissors: Monhegan Poems

Prompt #9 (for December 23rd): Write a poem in response to this idea: Following a Thread. This is a prompt from the contest portion of our MoSt 8th Annual Poetry Festival, which will be held on Saturday, February 1st, 2020. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, January 11th, 2020. If you’ve not yet registered for the Festival, please check out the information on our website:
https://www.mostpoetry.org/event/8th-annual-modesto-poetry-festival/
This will be a wonderful day of poetry!
Ready…Steady…Go!

Prompt #10 (for December 24th): Write a poem about the photograph below—which I snagged from some random Facebook post a year or so ago and don’t know how to give credit. Since this is a pretty famous Eve, try incorporating some of what you see into a “Just before this…”/”Right now…”/”And then…” narrative. Consider having your title serve as your first or last line—or merely number it as if this poem were one in a series. Ready? Steady… Go~~~

Prompt #11 (for December 25th): There are a lot of holidays to celebrate in December! According to nationalday.com, there are several designated holidays between the 21st(Winter Solstice) and the 27th (National Fruitcake Day), including Chanukah, National Cookie Exchange Day, National Short Person Day, Festivus (!), Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, National Candy Cane Day, and National Thank You Note Day. Whether you celebrate one, some, or all of these days, or have a favorite day of your own set aside for celebration or commemoration, how do you choose to acknowledge it? What sensations (sights, sounds, smells, etc.), objects, traditions, memories, and people come to mind? Write a poem no longer than 25 lines that explores these possibilities. For an extra challenge, write a poem about a holiday that doesn’t yet exist, but should. Ready…Steady…Go~~~
Prompt #11 (for December 25th): There are a lot of holidays to celebrate in December! According to nationalday.com, there are several designated holidays between the 21st(Winter Solstice) and the 27th (National Fruitcake Day), including Chanukah, National Cookie Exchange Day, National Short Person Day, Festivus (!), Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, National Candy Cane Day, and National Thank You Note Day. Whether you celebrate one, some, or all of these days, or have a favorite day of your own set aside for celebration or commemoration, how do you choose to acknowledge it? What sensations (sights, sounds, smells, etc.), objects, traditions, memories, and people come to mind? Write a poem no longer than 25 lines that explores these possibilities. For an extra challenge, write a poem about a holiday that doesn’t yet exist, but should. Ready…Steady…Go~~~



A note on Medieval turnspit dogs


A dog at work inside a wheel near the ceiling;
Remarks on a Tour to North and South Wales (1800). —Wiki

An administrator of Facebook’s British Medieval History group—got his knickers in a twist, and got more than a little heavy-handed with me, he blocked me, then threw me in Facebook jail, after deleting all my posts, because I posted a comment on Vera Moraes’ query about medieval pets. The reason cited was because my mere mentioning of turnspit dogs, was outside of the BMH timeframe, cutoff date is 1485— but here’s the thing, they probably were used during the Middle Ages.

The first ever book on the history of native canines in the British isles, was published in 1565, well out of the medieval timeframe, and was translated from the Latin in 1570. How long it took to research and write the book was not recorded, but one could surmise it was the work of a lifetime, or decades in the making. If so, then it was compiled close to the end of the Medieval era. 

The publication date of said dog book doesn’t mean that turnspit dogs were only used from 1570 onward. The book’s subject, native dogs of Britain, would’ve been quite specialized. Printed books were still a novelty item of the wealthy classes, who could afford them. And a book on native dogs of Britain, even more specialized. Question is, WHY was the book compiled?

Just like the Middle English manuscripts, Forme of Cury, and To the King's Taste, books were published long after the original recipes had been invented—because the information was in danger of being forever lost. I suspect an influx of foreign (French) dogs were flooding the market, to the point where British breeds were in danger of being lost. Imported spaniels (Spanish dogs) were mentioned as well.

The book mentions turnspit dogs among other types of dogs. But I’d bet a roast beef dinner that turnspit dogs were used much earlier. People weren’t dumb. If someone could design a grist mill (ca. 800 BC), using a stream, a windmill, or horse/ox/donkey/goat-drawn wheel or thresher, or build a spinning wheel, a standard household item ubiquitous across Europe in the 1300s (earliest drawing of one 1035 AD), they could easily envision a dog in a turnspit cage. The model was at hand. In fact, when I saw engravings of mechanical turnspits, I thought they were spinning wheels stored on the walls.


Linnaeus dubbed the turnspit dog its own breed, Canis vertigus. But by the 18th c., “The breed was lost, since it was considered to be such a lowly and common dog that no record was effectively kept of it. Some sources consider the turnspit dog a kind of Glen of Imaal Terrier, while others make it a relative of the Welsh Corgi.” —Wiki


My Berkeley Medieval Studies professor, Dr. Dan Melia, astutely pointed out that early books were written to preserve what was in danger of being lost. Not just for piety or pleasure. This comment was in reference to a segue to the Irish epics—they weren’t invented in the Middle Ages, they were transcribed during that time because the stories were in danger of being lost due to societal upheaval—namely the arrival of the Vikings. Different concept. They weren’t written in a void but they certainly codified what came before.

Dog were owned by all classes, not just the wealthy. Anyone who had a farm had dogs to work hogs, sheep, cattle. And ratters were very important to the miller! Also, dogs were employed as draft/draught animals, how we get the term dogcart. The ornate grill structure used to lay and corral the burning logs were called firedogs. And the iron turnspit architecture was referred to as dogs.

Both the Irish youth-hero Fionn, and his Arthurian Welsh counterpart, Gwion/Taliesin, were left in charge of turning the salmon of wisdom on a spit.
The fisherman took a salmon of great size and beauty, which they placed at the fire to broil, leaving it in charge of Fionn, who was to take care that it did not burn, on pain of losing his head. ...Sparks flew from the fire, which raised a blister on the fish. —Taliesin, Or, The Bards and Druids of Britain: A Translation D.H Nash, 1858
Fionn applied his thumb to the scorched part of the fish, then stuck his thumb in his mouth, and was “gifted with prophecy and foreknowledge.” A similar tale follows in the story of Gwion/Taliesin. The name Gwion is a Welsh cognate of Fionn. In the Norse Saga of Sigurd, Sigurd was in charge of roasting the dragon’s heart. The boy heroes all disingenuously gain arcane knowledge and the gift of forethought. Sigurd gained knowledge of the language of the birds.

These medieval fragments merely serve to illustrate that turnspit were indeed used and young boys were employed for the mundane task. Knowing how young boys were ingeniously quick to shirk their chores, it’s a short leap of faith from turnspit boy to turnspete dog.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Warbling ravens


Few people know that ravens warble serenades to their mates and loved ones. A proper raven never caws, he croaks, and clicks, and if you croak back to him, you might have a conversation. There’s a place on Inverness Ridge with its resident ravens, where we’ve been huckleberrying for decades. Ravens are very territorial, and are long-lived, up to 15 years, not like crows who live only 7 years. We figure we’ve met at least that many generations of ravens on the ridge. They seem to pass that knowledge onto their offspring. When we first arrive, they raise the alarm. The same cry they make whenever the redtail hawk circles overhead. We croak reassuringly to them to announce our presence, they settle down, and quit making their danger-danger-danger alarm call, and carry on with their sweet warbling in the fog-enshrouded pine trees.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday the 13th


On Friday the 13th, I nearly ran over a beer-cooler-sized robot sporting an antenna and a triangular orange diving flag, in a crosswalk near UC Berkeley. Not expecting an unaccompanied robot crossing the street, I very nearly flattened it—I’m sure some people would like to do just that.  I guess Cal’s robots are not like chickens randomly crossing the street—otherwise they’d be techno roadkill. I thought of the story of the eagle Repeatedly taking down that drone trespassing in his sky. Apparently one man was so enraged, he kidnapped a kiwibot, threw it in the back of his trunk, where it thrashed and beeped and called home—until the police located it via GPS. And now the man is up on charges of grand larceny, they’re pricy little bastards. I thought, if I had flattened that bot in the crosswalk, how would the insurance work? Do robots have the same rights as humans if they’re in a crosswalk?

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Hot flash

Once I fondled a festive potted ornamental Thai pepper-plant hidden amid the pointsettias. Not only did I touch both eyelids, but I rubbed my upper lip, then stuck a finger up my nose—all this before I’d left the checkout line at the grocery store.

A true sob story. I looked like a red raccoon. A gift that kept right on giving, I might add, as I didn’t know how to neutralize the volatile oils. Duly filed under Stupid things I’ve done in public....

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mining joy


When I’m feeling down, I mine joy, find gratitude, fund laughter & raucously cackle like no one is listening—to snort until I nearly wet myself, is an added bonus. That’s how I roll. You got a problem wit dat?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

I’m dreaming of a white Thanksgiving

It’s been snowing up and down the California Coast, the mountains of Sonoma County are dusted white. The Mayacamas range, where the Kincade Fire was, can use the snow (it was already hit with several deluges) because the melting snow will soak into the soil vs. mudslides. And we really need precipitation in any form, because of fire danger. We seem to be having a white Thanksgiving on every pass in CA above 1000 feet. Geyser Peak was white. As was Mt. St. Helena. Snow level was quite low. All the Bay Area peaks, including Mt. Diablo and Mt. Hamilton are covered with snow. Snow showers in the Santa Lucia Mountains in Monterey County too. The Grapevine got so much snow it closed the road, same with Tehachepe. Windsor, which is than warmer than Grafton, or Occidental, was 26º. It’s colder yet in this northeastern gulch near Occidental. It was downright frigid in Tahoe as well. Southern California got some rain too, but the fires have been so severe, they’re in danger of massive mudslides and lahars after the rains. It’s raining there now, and it’s a toasty 48ºF now. Crazy times. A white holiday season of ash and snow and mudslides. Happy Thanksgiving.

From a FB post added, rev. 11/20

ASH AND SNOW (more of a quatrain than a haiku)

Yesterday’s mountains,
covered in ash from wildfires,
today, are dressed in lacy
garments of snow.

11/28/19

A CHANCE OF SNOW (a quatrainish haiku)

It’s warmed up to 39° 
The forecast, a real chance of snow.
Time to put on some real shoes, wool socks,
time get my down jacket out of storage.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

PETRICHOR BOUQUET


The pitter-patter of tiny feet 
on the windowsill,
children of the storm,
a petrichor bouquet! 
Update: bleedin’ell, 
it’s a dragon’s roar now.
Stomping grapes on the roof.
The power just flickered. 
There goes the Internet.
Ah, dust and beeswax candles, 
the scent of trapped summer
and the corpses of insects.
Power is back on, a garish reminder.
The WiFi gods must be crazy.
The rain is pounding on the roof,
unbelievably noisy,
like thundering hooves
settling into the storm.

From a FB post added, rev. 11/20

Monday, November 25, 2019

Linguistic racism

I just called out the senior center lunch lady for being racist. I was talking to Giselda, a volunteer, in her native language, Spanish. I am always eager to practice my Spanish, a legacy from John Oliver Simon. The Lunch lady butted in, and said she thought she was in a foreign country. At first I thought she was joking, but then she chapped me up. She said, This is America, don’t you know how to speak English? I was gobsmacked. She had known me for months, if not a couple of years, and this was the only time I had ever spoken Spanish in the kitchen. The MAGA hat should’ve clued me in. I said, For the record, I’m Irish, and I speak English most excellently. And I can write as well, too. She said Speak English, we don’t want no illegals around here. As if speaking Spanish were somehow illegal, or made me illegal. I was flummoxed. I said, My family has been here since 1904. Spanish was the first European language in California, after myriad native languages were expunged. Russian and liturgical Latin were also spoken here too. I love language. I can speak some Portuguese, Italian as well. There is no mandated, or official language in America—you can legally speak any language you prefer. I might have roped in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo too. I was on a roll. I said, I will speak any language I like. You really don’t want to take me on. Then I walked out. Think I’ll speak to her in Irish next time. Or perhaps in Quechua. Because I can.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Gale force winds tonight

So far, so good. We still have power in West County— not true for the folks just up the road. Which means we still have wifi. Lifeline. The wind is definitely sighing, the swaying pines sound just like the stormy ocean outside my window. It’s like waiting for the vikings to land on a windy night. We also had a downpour last night. So that lessens the chance of another fire. The pillage and burning part is courtesy of PG&E. Unfortunately there was not enough rain to cancel the PG&E power outage. Nothing quite like sitting in the dark, clueless, waiting for more wildfires to bloom on the horizon.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hello, bed.


It seems my back has other plans for me today. Friday’s small shoulderblade spasm decided to blossom on both sides. Yesterday, I could barely take a breath, driving was pure hell. Sleep helped, but it’s back with a vengeance. Hello, bed.

Between grant writing bits, I  taught two days of poetry classes in Oakland, for another grant, including reading and typing up kid poems.

I also helped my cousin move stuff out of the Nicasio house over the weekend—many, many stairs, many, many boxes.

Living feral, I slept in several strange beds. Met a new pussycat named Seamus Heaney. I also care-provided for a friend for two days, shopping, cooking, cleaned house, did massive loads of laundry, etc. I even managed to write a poem.

To make matters worse, I’m trying to avoid Advil as I took so much of it when my knee was injured. I worry about my kidneys. Can’t take Tylenol. Wine, not so much, but it’s a bit early, isn’t it? I’m sure it’s wine o’clock somewhere, but I haven’t had brekkie yet. At least this time I remembered to tape my knees, so they don’t hurt.

It was a very stressful and most busy week. Every single poet did not get heir work to me in a timely manner, causing all kinds of grant traffic jams. Not to mention headaches and eye strain. At one point I was wearing two glasses so I could read the fine print. But I got that blasted grant in on time. I did.

Now, to bed.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

AT YURION’S GARAGE


We dutifully lined up for latte & sticky buns
at Yurion’s old Forest Knolls Garage.
Memories collided with time at warp speed.
Don would’ve snorted and scoffed—
a fucking boutique in his garage?
Axelgrease-laced beer was more his swill.
Where gas-pumps once stood,
islands of organic produce bloom
in ecstatic gentrification. Don’s
traditional greeting, Hey Asshole,
would offend their delicate senses.

At the trailer court, someone lights up.
Some things never change.
The skunk odor takes me back.
Everyone’s looking rough around the edges,
Both young and old—there’s no escaping it.
The lattes obviously aren’t working.

Once, in front of Yurion’s Garage,
I got caught up in a swarm of bees,
my long hair became a net.
As I swept past the gas station sideways,
my red mare developed wings.
Don, with his Lucky Strikes
rolled up in a teeshirt cuff, ciggie in hand,
scratched his head as she danced sideways
right into the gas bay and out the other side
while the swarm, in an uproar,
fiercely protected their queen.
Like many, they were looking for new digs.
Such sweet dreams were on the move,
but Don’s greener pastures had turned to ash.

11/17/19

Friday, November 15, 2019

CAC grant to bed in record time

The CAC multi-artist grant is done and this time it is in well under deadline! Not taking any chances. Not like the last grant I wrote that missed the deadline by five minutes due to a technical failure at Poetry Flash. Everybody was online today, and the CAC site kept crashing, But I persisted. I lost data, reinventing the wheel & reposting corrections under 30 seconds was a challenge. Time for wine & chocolate. Can’t believe I’m done. Still dreaming that I’m writing it. Here’s hoping.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Writing the John Oliver Simon legacy CAC grant and the problem with late poets

I need to finish my CAC grant narrative, but I’m so tired I want to weep & then there’s the budget page still to do. The CAC website keeps crashing & then I lose data. It’s due tomorrow & poets STILL haven’t sent in materials. Feeling let down & frustrated. And now my back is threatening to spasm. That’s all I need.

If I could get the poets to send in their stuff in, that would help. I’m quite miffed by their extreme tardiness. One late poet just got his materials in. But now I can’t download anything because I need a stable WiFi connection for my laptop. So that sucks. 

I’m not about to drive down the road just to find strong WiFi. And my cell doesn’t work out in west Marin so I can’t even call Brennan. I mean I’m literally sleeping on people’ couches, and living feral, so I can meet my commitments, and get this grant in on time, and instead I’m spending most of my time herding cats. Why do I even bother?

Every single poet did not get their work to me on time, causing all kinds of havoc. I feel so betrayed. I thought Tobey and Brennan were late enough, Sophie didn’t even bother to check her email but at least she sent everything in organized, at the last minute—but Tureeda sent in nothing at all. Nothing. Susie offered to call her. I needed a letter of support from school, I was able to fabricate a bio, sample poems, kid poems, freshen up the letter of support, etc. It took some doing, but they’ll do. All this lateness means I just wasted two hours recreating her information, whereas I should be using that time to finish the grant. Everything is uploaded onto the CAC grant site. Now I polish and prune, look for loopholes.

This problem exacerbated x 4 poets means that I’ve literally squandered and wasted hours and hours trying to get the info I need from them, instead of writing the grant. Don’t they get that? Frustrated, I am. And the irony is if we get the grant, it means lovely residencies for them. Free teaching money. Tardiness to the extreme is not helpful or conducive to grant writing. 

I always knew organizing poets is like herding cats. But this time I’m really annoyed. My back hurts, I have such bad I strain that I can’t see, and I haven’t had a full nights sleep in ages. I really feel betrayed. Ok, I’m done with the uploads, some minor tinkering after my brain recovers, and in it goes. Wish it luck. Submitting a grant electronically means you can no longer kiss the envelope for luck. 

Ah, first rain, or is it merely a fizzle of a drizzle? Gawd, even the rain is late. But the acrid odor of petrichor, blood of stones rises up to greet me, and I think how writing this grant has been like squeezing blood from stones. I don’t think I ever want to have to do this again. I keep thinking what would John have done? Forge ahead. I think of all the grants that we wrote together and how much I learned from him, this is what sustains me now.

Monday, November 11, 2019

NEVERMORE


The raven who shared the chilly morning with me 
had several things to say 
but I could not understand a thing he said. 
I was thinking of T.rump.
The raven sat up and said crock!
I was thinking of that Florida woman
who espoused alt-news to defend T rump
While slinging hash on a friend’s post.
The raven said Waka-waka. Crock!
It’s all crock. And then he flew off.
Nevermore. He warbled and cheebered 
I sat there admiring his song.
He dipped one wing, as if in salute.
A veteran of the dark skies.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Counting my DNA before it’s hatched



There was a story my Aunt Jane told me that my father Joe had some French blood, which he denied. He said he was pure Corkonian Irish by way of San Francisco. We never knew what to believe. But a DNA test revealed that the family rumor to be partially true at 3%. But upon closer inspection, it looks like it could be from Brittany, which was settled by the Welsh.

See, here's the problem, Joe's grandfather Michael Hurley, an Irish speaker, came from Cork, and settled in Weymouth, MA, where Joe’s father was born. That left slim possibility that Michael's wife, Joe's grandmother was of mixed blood. And Joe's mother Viola Mae Heaney was born in San Francisco, but her family was said to be from Boston, via Ireland. What was Viola's mother's maiden name? One way or another, we're back to an unaccounted for great-grandmother again. There's a Canadian in the woodpile somewhere.

Viola Mae Heaney, b. SF, 1906, died ca. 1936 -1940.

But the DNA math doesn't add up. If I were to go back 3 generations to a great-grandparent, that would be 12.5%, and 4 generations (100 years), or my great-great-grandparent, that would be 6.25%. Seven generations would be 1.56%, and eight generations (200 years) would be a mere 0.39%. All this is compounded by the fact that in France it is illegal to collect DNA, I suspect that Ancestry plugs the gap with the closest connection. Also, my DNA math doesn't add up, 9% is not 12.5 %, ergo, it's no a great-grandparent.

Someone said DNA doesn’t work like fractions. It’s more like soup ladle with holes. You get what you get. All I know, is that this is the third time my DNA sequence has been updated, and each time, the French percentage diminishes. It went from 8% to 3%. Unreliable French!

Whatever, the math, I might or might not have had a stray French-Acadian ancestor from Nova Scotia, who had a Native ancestor sometime in the 18th c. That got me looking at various possibilities. The rest of me, all 94% is pure Irish ( first estimate was 91%). No Viking, no Anglo blood on my maternal grandmother's side, at least. So that part of the ancestral story holds true. Recently that French DNA was split to include an odd 2% English/Welsh/NW Europe (Belgium/Finisterre) splash—well, our family name is Walsh, after all.  So that’s up for grabs.

Then again, I found this on the Ancestry page: approximately 40 sequences are taken, and averaged out the results, which might account for my odd numbers. Furthermore,
The next level includes Low Confidence Regions. For each of these regions, the possible range includes 0% and does not exceed 15%. Since there is only a small amount of evidence of genetic ethnicity from these regions, it is possible that you may not have genetic ethnicity from them at all.
According to The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada, the Irish were among the first settlers in the Canadian Maritime provinces, and that the Irish language predated that of French and English. I think this odd bit of flotsam sheds some light on my mysterious DNA results uncovered 3% French (it was 8% which in my bones, I knew it was wrong.) I suspect some Cape Breton/Acadian ancestry, and a stray 1% Native American ancestry—probably Micmac, given that the Acadian DNA was from Cape Breton Island.

 My maternal grandmother, who came from the small fishing village of Bantry, used to tell me a story of how the Irish and the Micmac/Mi'kmaq and the Morimac peoples joined forces. She insisted that there were Irish loan words in the Mi'kmaq language, not that she even spoke Mi'kmaq, an Eastern Algonquian language. The equivalent of yes in Irish is ach, and aqq in Mi'kmaq. (How on earth did she manage to find that in the pre-internet days?) But I found no other words that were similar. She said some of the Micmacs had blue eyes and red hair. But suddenly, with this post, her story, from the oral tradition, gains some credence, however slim the DNA record is.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 7

And PG&E said, Let there be light. Then half of Sonoma County burned down. Time to decommission PG&E. Third time’s a charmed fuckjob in my books. Everyone who was affected by the outage should refuse to pay their bills all at once. And this isn’t the first time. it’s part of a long standing problem that’s decades in the making. Let’s call it negligence. It all began when PG&E gas lines blew up a San Mateo suburb. Whatever did PG&E have against San Bruno to blow it up like that? And now it’s burning down half the state? I see it coming, Pg$e, the musical, Edipuss is wrecked. Fire is at nearly 77,000 acres, 30% contained. Geyserville, Alexander Valley and Healdsburg are still under evacuation orders. PG&E shut down the power grid for most of Northern California—to prevent wildfires, so we’ve been without power for nearly a week, and then the colossus forgot to shut down its own part of the grid at the Geysers? And guess where the fire started. Congratulations, PG&E, you just sponsored the largest mass evacuation in Northern California history, when 150 thousand county residents were forced out of their homes by the Kincade fire—because of your negligence. Instead of spending the rate hike tariff on rebuilding infrastructure, you chose to give bonuses to stockholders and CEOs. May you all burn in hell.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 6, a poem

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 

I’m sitting by the half empty reservoir
Watching the fire trucks and horse trailers go by.
Wildfire smoke stacks up to the west,
seeking the coolness of the Pacific Ocean.
The wind is picking up,
the dry summer grasses gyrate, a frenzied dance, old as the hills,
the air carries the odor of summer picnics and more—
the souls of trees released to the sky.
A pale ash veil coats the car, muting its red paint to salmon.
The sun has barely reached its zenith,
long shadows claw toward the blue shadows of the night.
Without lights, the entire Bay Area was rimed—
studded with an extraordinary tapestry of stars.
And the coyotes sang arias to the waning moon in chorus.

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 5

WILDFIRE JOURNAL: We're all gathered in the parking lot outside the community center basking on the sun. It's a street party of sorts. I'm reading poetry while waiting for my iPad to charge on the generator, my car is taking too long to recharge it and I worry about the car battery. I have contingencies, I park on a grade in case I have to pop-start it. Having a working car right now is tantamount to survival. My gauge has dipped below the half-way mark.

Still no power in most of the North Bay, and PG&E is planning yet another power shutdown. We never got any power restored during the golden window of opportunity. So it’s all moot.

There are evacuees sleeping in their vans all along the roads of West Marin. While waiting for my iPad to charge, I read an unintelligible poem called Irish Poetry by Billy Collins, I'm thinking of calling Sam to come down the hill as there is free lunch and iced coffee. Coffee!

But I don't know where my cellphone is, and besides, it doesn't get good reception. Time to kill, I flip to another random poem: what was the likelihood I would turn to a poem by Molly and Sam’s uncle, called Colonoscopy, the title says it all, and I realized, No shit!

We're all being reamed out and annealed one way or the other by this wildfire. Even Paul Muldoon has a few rhymey bits in this issue of PEOTRY, and yes, it's really spelled that way on the cover, I kid you knot.

Reminds me of some of the kids I teach poetry to, who can't spell poetry on their poetry journals, but they're been burned out of their homes. I'm supposed to be teaching them poetry about fire, floods and other disasters, and here I am smack dab in the middle of it all, an involuntary evacuee, staying in an abandoned house with no water or power, worrying about whether or not

I have enough gas to get to the nearest gas station with electricity—over the bridge to RIchmond, the twisted intestine of the Bay Area. Truth be known, I need my tablet charged because when the sun sets, its only yourself that needs looking to in an empty house in the dark. Downloaded bits from Netflix, and Solitaire helps me make it through the night. That, and a poncho to cover my head, it’s that cold. Dressing requires strategy.

The stars outdo themselves dazzling us with their brilliance, despite the smoke, because there is no artificial light whatsoever in most of the Bay Area. All the Pleiades sisters have their dancing shoes on, and the Milky Way is a river of light. The sliver of a fingernail moon is a promise of the light that will return. We've set our clocks back to the early 1900s, and I think we are the better for it.

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 4


Gawd, a bath....my kingdom for a bath—or even a shower. I’m holed up in Nicasio, there’s no power and the well is on an electric pump. But I can light the gas stove with matches, bypassing the ignition. My matches are in bad shape. Most are too soggy to ignite. But I find an old lighter wand, out of butane, but the striker still works. Ah, the magic spark of flint. I make camp coffee, and camp toast. Gobs of Irish butter and raspberry jam dribble like blood on my street-find cashmere poncho. I suck it off, not wasting what little water I have. It’s been so cold, I live and sleep in the turtleneck poncho, it’s like wearing a large cat.

I scouted the lake for a likely spot to dunk my head. The water is low, and the mud is deep. Zana said water heaters have a faucet at the bottom. May not be warm but potable. Compared to others caught up in this mass evacuation, my exodus spot is sweet. I have propane. I can heat water. What little water I have. TG my car has always been a big messy go-bag. I’ve several bottles stashed under the seats. Wine too. At least I can recharge my iPad in my car, and can get limited cellular exception by the lake. I still have nearly a half a tank of gas. All is good. 

When I returned from Hawaii, I had planned to do some writing, instead I’m thrust into barebones survival mode. All thoughts of writing about Hawaii are gone. I can’t even look at the photos. Right now, it’s day by day survival mode, or as Anne Lamott would say, bird by bird. I watch the wild geese and pelicans  dip and sway on the lake. Today is a red flag warning. The winds are expected to pick up again this evening. We’re not out of the woods yet. You can see the smoke columns from here. The sunlight is red. I mourn the loss of Pine Flat ridge in the Mayacama Range, all the old historic homesteads are gone. Ember, ash and coal mantra.

Monday, October 28, 2019

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 3


Kincade Fire, 8AM, Thursday morning, from Occidental Road. That’s not fog. —MH photo

Much more smoke has blown south this morning, Tues. The winds have shifted. Hopefully they don’t have the velocity of Saturday night’s howling winds.

The Kincade FIre on the Mayacamas Range is now  estimated to be at 74,324 acres and 15% contained, but Saturday night’s 103 mph winds  really fed the flames, which reached the historic 2017 Tubbs Fire boundaries. The lack of fuel, acting as a firebreak, may help to contain the fire along those old boundaries.

Last report I heard, firemen from across the Western United States have joined our exhausted firefighters, and they were concentrating on saving Windsor.  Meanwhile, the kincade fire is frogmarching its way northeast towards the direction of the wind, Cobb Muntain and Middletown in Lake County. Here’s hoping the Tubbs, the Atlas, and the 2015? Camp Fire left little fuel for the Kincade Fire to take purchase.

Most of northern and western Sonoma County, some 190,000 people, were evacuated Thursday through Sunday, the single largest evacuation in California history, which created colossal traffic jams on both the bay bridges, and to make matters worse, the Carquinez Bridge was out of commission due to another grass fire in Vallejo in Solano County. Not sure how it started, someone said wind-blown embers from the Kincade Fire.

Mandatory evacuation notices have been lifted for most of West Sonoma County, but more winds are expected tonight,and the wind has shifted the smoke south. So we’re all holding tight.

Sonoma County supervisor Lynda Hopkins reported: “The next 24 hours will give our amazing firefighters — now more than 4,000 strong, with 10 helicopters, 444 fire engines, 53 dozers and 30 water tenders — a fighting chance to increase containment....our firefighters fought like hell, and saved entire neighborhoods overnight in the Shiloh Ridge and Lockwood area. I want to be very clear that without the mass deployment of firefighters — we are now a mutual aid event, which means that we have firefighters from across California as well as other western states — we would NOT have been able to make this stand. I am filled with gratitude every time I see a fire truck... and there are hundreds here both out on the lines and awaiting orders at the Fairgrounds incident command post, with insignia from communities across the state.”

Though mandatory evacuation notices have been lifted in western Sonoma County, but there is no electricity, or water which makes it easier for us to stay in place. People are sleeping in vans along many West Marin roads. Most of the evacuation centers, both human and animal evacuation centers—are filled to capacity. In general, neighbors, near neighbors, and strangers are all pitching in to help each other out. A steady parade of trucks laden with alfalfa for the horses, headed south.

There have been other fires in Contra Costa County, a small fire in Lafayette, and in Southern California, the Getty Fire, closing I 405, and 618 acres have burned, with 10,000 people evacuated. So many fires, I can’t keep up, nor do I have the bandwidth. I have to hunt for cellular reception sweet spots. The sweetest hotspot, if I can still use that term, is by the Nicasio Reservoir, with a view of Black, or Elephant Mountain, it’s hazy, due to smoke.

Freezing cold this AM, no heat, my hands take turns freezing as I type. But cold is good. I could kill for a shower, dump my hair in a bucket. Otherwise, all is well.

https://www.kqed.org/news/11782314/what-you-need-to-know-sonoma-countys-kincade-fire

Sunday, October 27, 2019

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 2

Evacuation Diaries: I will be needing more gas soon, I’m down to a half a tank. I’m hoping the Richmond Costco will be open but  I don’t want to attempt it if I 80/580 is congested. People are still fleeing from Santa Rosa area and all the motels and evacuation centers are full. I’m pretty sure there is no gas to be had anywhere in Marin. No power means no gas pump, or credit card machines. I heard rumor that there’s power in Petaluma at 101, but is there any gas to be had? I imagine the mass exodus has impacted availability. And I’m sure there’s price gouging going on. And I’ve got a slow leak in my tire. 

I had to evacuate late at night from Sebastopol with a fully loaded car, and only 15 pounds of air in that tire. So I drove slow down the back-backroads to Nicasio, No traffic at all. Only the stars. Not like all the feeder roads to Hwy 101. One massive traffic jam that lasted for hours. This was the single largest mass evacuation in California history. I’m still wrapping my mind around that one.

I heard that all the bay bridges were still jammed bumper to bumper yesterday with the latest Santa Rosa exodus. Thanks to Facebook friends, I can keep appraised, and wait another day or two if needs be, but I will need enough gas to get to point B, wherever that may be. And enough air in that tire. It seems to be holding. TG for slow air leaks. Planning ahead is tantamount to survival.

I also need to drive around a bit to keep my iPad charged, Very spotty reception requires more driving. The iPad is the only link I have to the outside world at this point. I can get reception at one pullout along the Nicasio Reservoir, I am in line with the cellular towers on Big Rock Ridge, but it’s a very small, if distant window. At least the view of Elephant Mountain is spectacular in the morning.

Radio is freakin useless out here. No reception. Sometime I can get KPFA if the wind blows in the right direction. Messenger and Facebook remain the best way to keep in touch. I’ve asked friends to post fire updates on my Facebook page, whenever possible. At least when the pages load, I can keep apprised. Text is better than links.

My cousin’s Nicasio house, where I’m staying, is empty, and boarded up from the accident, it has no power, the water is down to a trickle, because it’s on an electric pump. Not gravity fed. The water supply is whatever is left in the pipes. I have bottled water in my car. At least there is a propane stove so I can make my morning tea. Breakfast was camp coffee, camp toast. Gobs of Irish butter, raspberry jam dribbled all over my warm poncho. At least we know how to live large and be happy despite all odds.

Think I’ll visit Sam in Forest Knolls in a bit to see how he’s getting on, his landlord Jay has a generator so if it’s  running (generators need gas), I can plug in there. I need to make sure he has food, so I will stop by the San Geronimo community Center, my old alma mater.

More high winds predicted. Any news on the status of Kincade Fire, someone said it was back to 5% contained.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

WILDFIRE JOURNAL 1

Yesterday, an old friend chastised me for the amount of firestorm posts I’ve posted on my Facebook page. As it turns out I had adequate reason to be concerned as I did have to evacuate to the empty house in Nicasio. I was completely devastated.... I’m sure she meant no harm by it, but the effects were gob smacking, as keeping abreast of the news was the only way I could stay calm and rational.

I’m safe in West Marin for now. No power. So I’m on limited cellular. And I have to travel to the Nicasio Reservoir  to find any cellular reception. There are only three spots where I can get reception.

Facebook won’t always load but Messenger works. Please send me updates about the progress of the fire spreading west to Forestville and Sebastopol. I can’t get radio reception, and few places where I can get cellular reception. 

I’m by the Nicasio reservoir looking at Elephant Mountain. It has become my talisman. The lake is the only place where I can pick up a weak cellular signal from T-Mobile.

Sad, all night long trucks hauling trailerfuls of horses and hay headed south. Returning empty, going north for another load, unsung heroes. I can bear almost anything but the thought of those poor horses makes me weep. Maria Perrin’s cousin in Sebastopol needs someone with a horse trailer. Spread the word.

I’m keeping an eye on my charge, Sam, I made him some camp coffee, and his landlord Jay Potter set up a generator. Jay rocks, he fixed my low tire with an old school bicycle pump. It was down to 10 lbs pressure. Now has 40 lbs. That was pretty scary evacuating—driving down from Sebastopol on a low tire with my car loaded to the gills, as no gas stations are open.

Friday, October 25, 2019

WHILE TRANSLATING LORCA DURING THE WILDFIRE


Translating Lorca, from one of John Oliver Simon’s poetry recipes, my mind went way south. Rather than uselessly cry jetlag inspired tears in a Petaluma parking lot, as Sinead gets her hair done, I bought eye drops, & wrote a poem to the Mayacamas range, still burning. My throat is raw. I am careful to take small sips of air, as my N95 mask was packed away from the Tubbs fire. I foolishly thought I wouldn’t need it again. And here we go, again.

Madre, llévame a los campos
con la luz de la mañana,
a ver abrirse las flores
cuando se mecen las ramas.

Mother, take me to the countryside
with the light of morning
to see the flowers open
when the branches sway.
—Translation of Frederico García Lorca

WHILE TRANSLATING LORCA DURING THE WILDFIRE

My imagination wants to take me to the mountains
to witness the incandescent light of morning
to see the late blossoms opening their small hands
to the Diablo winds trembling the harp strings of reeds
in the marshes where the egrets and herons
patrol its dark depths for fatted frogs and curled snails.
My mind wants to fly to where the branches sway
to the rhythm of dark sap coursing
to the song of distant rivers and birdsong.
But the sodden sky is the color of putty,
all the trees have been reduced
to their lowest common denominator,
carbon and smoke and ash
as the wildfire devours the ridges,
barns, and vineyards with an insatiable hunger
and a prodigious thirst that cannot be quenched.
No birdsong, only the dark wind whispering
secrets into the pale ear of the sky.
A lone raven caws his one warning note
over and over again.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Kincade Fire

 


As I was headed down  Occidental Road to Santa Rosa, and points south to work, I took a quick photo of the Kincade fire, which started last night at the Geysers, thanks to PG&E, again. Here we go again. Wasn’t the Tubbs fire enough? This does not look good. I’m still jetlagged from Hawaii, and now this, WTF.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tule elk cull at Pt. Reyes


In general I am in love with the Golden Gate National Park. However, what has happened out on the Pt Reyes National Seashore, with the National Park Service falsifying reports in regards to the Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm in 2012, and now the same thing seems to be happening with the elk versus the cattle on the point, I am disillusioned with the NPS. One of the reasons why the Pt Reyes National Park was created, was to prevent rampant development, and also preserve the historic dairy ranches operating on the point. Currently ranching occupies 30% of the land, 70% of that land is wilderness. The rancher are not against elk. That’s a false narrative cooked up by eco justice warriors.

This schism that has developed between the historic agricultural use versus wildlife is a deep grievance because I witnessed the beginning of the Pt Reyes National Seashore. I know the backstory. And for this reason I cannot support the Center for Biological Diversity’s claims, and I now also distrust the NPS or GGNPS in regards to Pt Reyes because the larger agenda is to destroy the historic ranches on the point, in favor of urban recreationists, and to hell with historic facts. Remember the Drake’s Bay oyster fiasco? We’ve seen them in action and they re not above twisting the facts and ecological reports to suit their agendas.

The imported tule elk are diseased. And yet protestors are making such a racket over the culling of a handful of elk at Drake’s Bay, when there are more than 700 elk on the point, and the point was only supposed to sustain 300 elk? I don’t like the double-speak, and the manipulation of facts to suit a political agenda. 

I don’t mind the Conservancy, or some of the work that the Center for Biological Diversity has done, but I dislike their gaming and hidden political agendas. Once upon a time I thought the NPS and environmental groups could do no wrong.To my naive way of thinking they were upholding the vision that Teddy Roosevelt had put in place, but now the NPS too has become a self-serving organization. It saddens me to no end. Ditto that with many of the eco-warrior groups—especially the Center for Biological Diversity, and another group closer to home, SPAWN, has joined the ranks of manipulating facts and misrepresenting ecological reports  to suit their political agendas.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Napali Coast



After traveling nearly 80 miles in a Zodiac, this is the half-way point. The sea is calm so I’m still smiling. The next leg home will be brutal with afternoon waves whipped by an oncoming storm stacking up on the diagonal. Trough and crest. Rise and fall. Slide into the trough at an angle, but hit the next crest head-on. We nearly ran over a startled sea turtle basking in the waves. Dip and sway. Like riding an unsteady horse side-saddle, over very rough terrain. At least no petticoats were involved.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

California time, island time


Sitting in the dark, in a stranger’s house, on California time, not island time. Drinking tea and trying to convince my body that it’s OK to be up at 4 AM. The tropical air is balmy and the stars on this end of the island are much brighter than at home, where frost rimes my windshield. But then, I have no home, other than what I carry inside me. That was taken from me. What is home, other than a collection of memories, of things both ordinary and plain, that fill our waking thoughts. The stars, my constant guide.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Mammatus clouds


Mammatus clouds over Hawaii, 
the conception and cradle of life.
We descend towards the sea.

Flying to Hawaii



Outside my window, an untrammeled wilderness of clouds rear their heads over a sterling sea, and one can almost hear the rustling taffeta gown of the Pacific, laced with positive imprints of the air currents. Clouds commute toward the land, and out to sea again in Peregrinó colors—capturing fleeting glimpses of the spectrum, and the burnished gold of the morning sun is a deep ache of copper, or perhaps it’s Homer’s wine dark sea, beneath us. An odyssey of thought escapes its earthly confines, as we wing west to the land of the ever-young. Or at least a hunkering back to the beginning of time. Perhaps we are all pilgrims here. Some are arriving for the first time, others returning home. One way or another, it is all a journey. A cluster of fishing boats, huddle like whitecaps on the outer banks. The wind singing arias. Strong headwinds leave us in suspended animation. Cirrus and stratocumulus clouds, odd lone whips of fog, perhaps a squall, I think of how useless the rain is on the ocean. Then a scurry of mare’s tails, scud clouds surfing on the surface of the sea, all following the currents, seemingly alive, a sentient slipstream or a dance cotillion. Clouds give way to the illusion of continental shapes, or ice sheets. Then, for a moment, I forget my worries, and think I am among the Gods. I am mesmerized by the separation of sea and sky, the horizon is both obscured and melded by the clouds. And that dark beyond, the great unknown, is both the nursery of stars and the crèche of death. The curvature of the earth is a subtle plain. Below us, the Marianas Trench, the deepest place on earth, and beneath us, the Farallón Islands, slip by unannounced, they are the last landfall and handholds of the Pacific Plate migrating north to return home to Pangeac depths, but the poles are shifting, north is changing its mind once again and the ice is melting, all that archaic sweet water, slipping into the bosom of the sea from whence we came.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

COYOTE MOON


The chickens were clucking up a storm at sunset
when the coyotes began plotting
under a waning hunter’s moon—
the chickens fell strangely silent.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Artist bio for CAC


I’ve taught artist-in-school residencies in rural & urban schools in California since 1979. I’ve received 7 individual CAC AIR grants in Sonoma & Napa counties; & the Montana Arts Council. I’ve participated in CAC multi-artist residencies, received a PBS/KQED AIR grant, & two Oakland Cultural Arts Council grants. I’ve led arts workshops in the Western US & Florida, as well as in the Bahamas, Netherlands, & the former USSR. I’ve won fellowships and awards for my writing, art, and teaching residencies. I worked for alternative newspapers, writing news, & arts feature stories. I’ve trained artists and teachers through arts organizations, including California Poets in the Schools, Artists in the Schools of Sonoma County, Rural Arts Services, 

I’ve taught in a diverse range of communities throughout California. My ongoing work brings me in contact with a wide and diverse range of artists. I’ve photo-documented artists—especially poets—since 1979. I volunteer at the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, working with elders, and I have had art displayed at several of the the art exhibits at the art center. I was a featured poet at the latest Petaluma Poetry Walk, & am a coordinator & emcee for the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival.

I have worked 20 years in Bay Area schools, teaching poetry and art to historically underserved schools including Oakland, and Hunters’s Point, in San Francisco, developing culturally relevant arts programming to meet their specific needs. Before that, I coordinated arts programming for 20 years in rural Sonoma County. I have worked with all ages, and demographics, including inmates at Napa Stare Hospital, and elders as well. How needs were determined was by meeting with the host client before the residency and creating an arts program to meet their specific needs.

I got the CAC grant!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Spirit Rock (pastel and paintings), White’s Hill for a show, Where We Call Home



Today’s experiment for a show, Where We Call Home, chalkboard paint on canvas board, stabilo pencils, and Nupastel, wet pastel drawing. I quit working on it when I got too cold to work. My nose was running like a sieve. I wanted another piece for the upcoming art show. Maybe this one will work. I used chalkboard paint for gesso.

Because everything is so compromised, I’m amazed I can function at all. A tooth whitener applicator brush was my paintbrush. Working on canvas board was more successful than working on canvas. But I still can’t rework areas very much. So, it’s all or nothing. And detachment. A lot of detachment.

Just past White’s Hill, Flanders’ Ranch, Loma Alta Ridge. Wet pastel. It took me three days of angst, to get started, and 45 minutes to draw....nothing like a looming deadline. I used wet prismacolor pastel, mostly conte crayons, some carb-othello pastel pencils and wet construction paper. Looks painterly, huh. The secret is water, the pastel becomes buttery. You get the best of both worlds: painterly, and a drawing.



They took all three pieces, the two versions of White’s Hill (acrylic, wet pastel), and this one (wet pastel & stabile pencil). They may hang all three, if there’s room, tho two pieces are the limit. SGV art center, Where we call Home. Benefit for the Center. Opening Oct 5.

So if two pieces sell, then I can buy either the big bolshoi Nupastel set (96 colors), or the Carb-Othello stabile pencils in the wooden box. Decisions, decisions. I’ve made a deal with myself, to enter every show I am offered, and to try to sell enough art to cover my basic materials. So far, I have been in 4 art shows at the San Geronimo Valley Community Art Center. This is after decades of not showing any art at all.

A couple of failed pieces



Sunday, September 15, 2019

Asbestos angel, assemblage


I made many pieces for the upcoming Where We Call Home, this assemblage exists only in a photo as the particleboard I used turned out to be asbestos. It was the living room wall that was destroyed when the meth head crashed into it on the 4th of July.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Petaluma Poetry Walk schedule

13 cool things about the Petaluma Poetry Walk
September 12, 2019 | Argus-Courier (Petaluma, CA)
Author: David Templeton | Section: Entertainment 

PETALUMA POETRY WALK
Sunday, Sept. 15, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

One of Petaluma's most distinctive and unique annual event, the Poetry Walk steps out for its 24th consecutive year. Here's what's going to happen.

11 a.m. - Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky St. - Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla, plus local poets Barbara Swift Brauer and Camille Norton, Hosted by Terry Ehret.

12 p.m. - The Bank, 199 N. Petaluma Blvd. - Poets Terri Glass, Martin Hickel and Erin Rodoni. Hosted by Kevin Pryne.

1 p.m. - the River Front Café, 224 B St. - Readings by Diane Frank, William Greenwood and Jeanne Powell. Hosted by David Magdalene.

2 p.m. - North Bay Café, 25 N. Petaluma Blvd. Poetry readings by Arnoldo Garcia and Nina Serrano. Hosted by Daniel McKenzie.

3 p.m. – Copperfield's Books, 140 Kentucky St. - Forrest Gander and Maxine Chernoff. Hosted by Gwenn O'Gara.

4 p.m. - The Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St. Lucille Lang Day, Ruth Nolan, Susan Cohen, Barbara Quick and Jack Foley will read from "Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California." Iris Dunkle hosts.

5 p.m. - Petaluma Historical Museum and Library, 20 Fourth St. - Phyllis Meshulam and student poets from Cal Poets and Poetry Out Loud. Hosted by John Johnson.

6 p.m. - Aqus Café, 189 H St. - Poets Raphael Block, Albert Flynn DeSIlver, Maureen Hurley, Michael Koch and Gail Mitchell. David Magdalene hosts.

For more information on this event and these poets, visit PetalumaPoetryWalk.org.

Let's face it.

Whether or not you have ever personally attended Petaluma's legendary Poet Walk event, which has taken place annually for nearly a quarter of a century, you have to admit, it is a pretty remarkable thing. Dozens of poets from student to professionals, some pretty famous, all reading their poems out loud in eight different locations (cafés, bookstores, theaters, museums and banks) for a total audience of up to 1000 poetry-loving pedestrians over the course of eight glorious hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon in downtown Petaluma.

Folks come from all over to experience this entertainingly literary movable feast, some just dropping in for a reading or two, other's following along to catch every single syllable. This year's event will begin at Hotel Petaluma, and conclude with a two-hour poetry party at Aqus Café.

And of course, it being a poetry WALK, there will be brief moments of ambulatory conversation and curbside camaraderie as the group moves from one location to another. It's basically a great big blast, and though no one's giving out scores or anything, the folks who actually know something about some of the featured poets, and the history of the walk itself, do find that knowing a few extra tidbits can prove useful, especially when first-timers have joined the fun.

Here then, to give you some assistance, are 13 cool things to know (so you can share them, when appropriate) about the 24th Annual Petaluma Poetry Walk and some of the poets who will be participating.

1. The Poetry Walk was founded by Petaluma poet and artist Geri DiGiorno in 1996. Sonoma County's fourth official Poet Laureate, DiGiorno has been a tireless supporter of poetry throughout the Bay area. She once conducted an experiment in Petaluma's Putnam Plaza, where for one hour she approached passersby to offer them their choice between a crisp dollar bill and a book of poetry. After one hour, she'd given away twice as many books as she'd handed out bucks.

2. This year's opening acts of poetry, kicking off at the Hotel Petaluma at 11 a.m., will feature readings by Barbara Swift Brauer ("Rain, Like a Thief"), Camille Norton ("A Folio for the Dark") and Maya Khosla ("All the Fires of Wind and Light"). Khosla is the current Sonoma County Poet Laureate, serving though 2020.

3. The first Sonoma County Poet Laureate was named in the year 2000. Many of the past Sonoma County Poet Laureates have participated in the Poetry Walk. Just in case you have the opportunity to weigh in, the County's past PLs are as follows - Don Emblen (2000-2001), David Bromige (2002-2003), Terry Ehret (2004-2006), Geri Digiorno (2006-2007), Mike Tuggle (2008-2009), Gwynn O'Gara (2010-2011), Bill Vartnaw (2012-2013), Katherine Hastings (2014-2015), Iris Jamahl Dunkle (2016-2017).

4. Martin Hickel, who will be reading at noon at the day's second venue, The Bank (corner of Washington and Petaluma BLvd.) - along with Terri Glass "The Song of Yes") and Erin Rodoni ("Body, In Good Light") - assists Poetry Walk founder Geri DiGiorno with the organization of the event. He has served as organizer of the Marin Poetry Festival and Sunset By the Bay Reading Series. He is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade in San Francisco.

PETALUMA POETRY WALK

Sunday, Sept. 15, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

One of Petaluma's most distinctive and unique annual event, the Poetry Walk steps out for its 24th consecutive year. Here's what's going to happen.

11 a.m. - Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky St. - Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla, plus local poets Barbara Swift Brauer and Camille Norton, Hosted by Terry Ehret.

12 p.m. - The Bank, 199 N. Petaluma Blvd. - Poets Terri Glass, Martin Hickel and Erin Rodoni. Hosted by Kevin Pryne.

1 p.m. - the River Front Café, 224 B St. - Readings by Diane Frank, William Greenwood and Jeanne Powell. Hosted by David Magdalene.

2 p.m. - North Bay Café, 25 N. Petaluma Blvd. Poetry readings by Arnoldo Garcia and Nina Serrano. Hosted by Daniel McKenzie.

3 p.m. – Copperfield's Books, 140 Kentucky St. - Forrest Gander and Maxine Chernoff. Hosted by Gwenn O'Gara.

4 p.m. - The Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St. Lucille Lang Day, Ruth Nolan, Susan Cohen, Barbara Quick and Jack Foley will read from "Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California." Iris Dunkle hosts.

5 p.m. - Petaluma Historical Museum and Library, 20 Fourth St. - Phyllis Meshulam and student poets from Cal Poets and Poetry Out Loud. Hosted by John Johnson.

6 p.m. - Aqus Café, 189 H St. - Poets Raphael Block, Albert Flynn DeSIlver, Maureen Hurley, Michael Koch and Gail Mitchell. David Magdalene hosts.

For more information on this event and these poets, visit PetalumaPoetryWalk.org.

5. One of the earliest Poetry Walks, in 1999, featured a performance by actor-poet Roberts Blossom, best known for playing Old Man Marley, the spooky, snow-shovel-wielding next-door neighbor of Macauley Culkin in "Home Alone." The late Blossom (he died in 2011), then a resident of Berkeley, read his poems from the second-floor balcony in the former Reade Moore Books.

6. Among the readers at the 1 p.m. event, at the River Front Café, is poet Diane Frank ("Letters From a Sacred Mountain Place"), who is also professional cellist, performing with the Golden Gate Symphony in San Francisco. Also reading at the River Front are William Greenwood and Jeane Powell.

7. Arnoldo Garcia, one of two poets performing at North Bay Café at 2 p.m., is the founder of Poets Against War & Racism, using poetry and performance to counter the normalization of war and racism. Performing alongside Garcia will be 84-year-old Nina Serano, of KPCA and OZCAT.

8. The Poetry Walk is free to attend, but is not free to produce. Currently, there is a GoFundMe campaign in operation, hoping to raise $2,000 to cover the bare bones of expenses. Additional money raised will go to supporting next year's 25th annual Poetry Walk. You can contribute at GoFundMe.com/f/petaluma-poetry-walk-2019.

9. The 3 p.m. session, at Copperfield's Books, will feature two major award-winning writers. Maxine Chernoff is a 2013 National Endowment of the Arts Fellow and a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, and the author of more than 20 books of poetry and fiction. Forrest Gander, of Petaluma, in the 2019 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry, for his book "Be With." The reading will be hosted by Gwen O'Gara.

10. At the Phoenix Theater, the 4 p.m. reading will include five poets – Lucille Lang Day, Ruth Nolan, Susan Cohen, Jack Foley and Barbara Quick - whose work appears in the collection "Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California." This even will be hosted by Iris Dunkle.

11. Student poets from the Cal Poets and Poetry Out Loud programs will be presenting their works, along with poet Phyllis Meshulam. The bilingual programs encourage personal expression and appreciation of the arts. Poetry Out Loud, a program of competitive poetry recitation, was created in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts, under Sonoma County's own Dan Gioia.

12. Albert Flynn DeSilver, one of the five poets reading at the day-ending party at Aqus Café, was Marin County's very first Poet Laureate, serving from 2008-2010. The other poets will be Raphael Block, Maureen Hurley, Gail Mitchell and Michael Koch.

13. Each of the eight events at this year's Poetry Walks will include a "host." Three of them – Terry Ehret at 11 a.m., Gwenn O'Gara at 3 p.m., and Iris Dunkle at 4 p.m., are former Poets Laureate of Sonoma County.


Autumn Roundup: Fall, the 'mellower season' officially begins
August 26 - September 12, 2019 | Argus-Courier (Petaluma, CA) PETALUMA POETRY WALK (Sunday, Sept. 15, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.) – One of Petaluma's most distinctive and unique annual event, the Poetry Walk steps up for its 24th consecutive year. Here's what's going to happen. Beginning at 11 a.m. in the ballroom of Hotel Petaluma (205 Kentucky St.), where host Terry Ehret will introduce readings by three local poets (Barbara Swift Brauer, Camille Norton, and Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla), the movable feast will then move to The Bank, 199 N. Petaluma Blvd. There, at noon, you can hear readings by Terri Glass, Martin Hickel and Erin Rodoni, hosted by Kevin Pryne. At 1 p.m., at the River Front Café (224 B St.), hosted by David Magdalene, there will be readings by Diane Frank, William Greenwood and Jeanne Powell. At 2 p.m., at North Bay Café (25 N. Petaluma Blvd.), host Daniel McKenzie (that's technically still tentative) will introduce attendees to poets Arnoldo Garcia and Nina Serrano. Copperfield's Books is the location of the 3 p.m. session, hosted by Gwenn O'Gara, and featuring poets Maxine Chernoff and Petaluma's own 2019 Pulitzer winner Forrest Gander. Iris Dunkle hosts the 4 p.m. session at The Phoenix Theater (201 Washington St.), where poets Lucille Lang Day, Ruth Nolan, Susan Cohen, Barbara Quick and Jack Foley will read poems from the recent collection "Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California." At 5 p.m., the whole shebang moves to the Petaluma Historical Museum and Library (20 Fourth St.), where host John Johnson will introduce Phyllis Meshulam and student poets from Cal Poets and Poetry Out Loud. And it all comes to a close with a two-hour block of poetry at Aqus Café (189 H St.), hosted by David Magdalene and featuring Raphael Block, Albert Flynn DeSIlver, Maureen Hurley, Michael Koch and Gail Mitchell. You can follow along all day, or pick-and-choose, but do enjoy some live poetry in this unique literary celebration. PetalumaPoetryWalk.org.