I am honored to have my poem “Postcard” included in Snapdragon – A Journal of Art and Healing. This is is a lovely online journal that publishes work quarterly with “the goal of providing a platform and build a community among established and emerging poets, writers and artists, who find art to be a catalyst for self-discovery.”
This poem began in Paris, took a jaunt to Ireland and Australia, and found its permanent home in America. How poems come about is as interesting to me as actually writing them, and so if you are a believer that art heals and would like to support their mission, please consider subscribing to this fine publication. My poem is in the Summer 2019 Issue – 5.2.
Here is a teaser though. The poem begins here, where I am standing.
A big thank you to writer and artist J.I. Kleinberg for writing a review of my book of poetry The Lure of Impermanence (Cirque Press 2018), in the most recent volume of Cirque Journal – Vol. 10. No. 1. You can check the complete review by going to the Cirque link above.
Reviews are scary things. Having your work judged by another takes a certain amount of armor. Putting yourself out there is a bit like being back in Junior High and wondering if you are going to be asked to sit at the “cool kids” table.
With that said, Judy was kind and gave me one of the biggest compliments I could have craved. As many of you know, who follow this blog, my last blog post was called Return Flight and I wrote about flying home to my beloved Pacific Northwest. Kleinberg says my poems are painterly and cinematic, that they are crafted with care and precision, all of which I appreciate. But what I especially appreciate is that she “got” my poems are rooted in most profoundly,place and anchored in the towns of Oregon and Washington.
I hope in some small way my writing can be a witness to how place has the ability to nurture and shape us. I am a fourth generation Oregonian. My family stories are rooted west of the Cascade Mountain Range in both these States and I believe like William Stegner that no place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends or monuments. And though not all the poems in this collection are about place, I appreciate that Kleinberg felt its presence important to note.
Here is a poem from this collection that began in a small fishing town on the Southern Oregon Coast and a picture of me about the time I was in fact hanging off these small town docks.
No matter the journey. No matter other roads taken. No matter you misplaced the map of your life behind a wheel of grief. No matter you took a multitude of detours.
Because as you look out the plane window, you understand the agency of this place. How it has been etched in your mind over decades of slow accrual through streams you have fished, forests you have hiked, mountains you have climbed, lakes you have swam in, oceans you have sailed.
And how like its great river that flows to the sea, it also flows through you, and you call it by name—home.
I am honored to have my poem “Pub Tour in the Wicklow Mountains” published by Tales From The Forest. This poem found the perfect home back in Ireland where it all began.
May you all have adventures, may you find magic in the chance encounter, may you sit with strangers and know the words to songs they sing, may you have moments where the predictable gets tossed out the car window and you inhale the mystery of dark hills filled with secrets.
While sitting at a picnic table eating an apple and cheese I was staring North at the beauty of Mt. St. Helens in the Cascade Mountain Range. I felt grateful I had the good luck to be born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.
I was also marveling at my younger self who had climbed this very mountain 30 years earlier shortly after it had blown its top.
How had I done it? Now it seemed like an almost impossible task. And yet, I did it the same way I write a poem, word by word, line by line, stanza by stanza, step by step until you reach a destination and know you have finally arrived.
And then, like after writing a poem, you look around and see the world through new eyes.
Often a poem helps me remember what I don’t want to forget or to be grateful for the ordinary moments where connection is made or sometimes, to truly see something for the first time.
And so while looking at a beautiful mountain, thinking this is enough, I turn and see a halo around the sun. A sight I never remember having seen in my lifetime. And suddenly, there it is—all your longing hanging in the sky, waiting for you to feed its hunger.
The poet invites us to share in her pursuit of identity; to witness the dramatization of the daily events of his/her experience so closely resembling our own; to be haunted by the imagery of her dreams or the flowing stream of his consciousness; to eavesdrop on relationships with friends and lovers; to absorb the shock of her deep seated fears.
I always admire poets who paint a vivid, compelling picture of a setting or situation that seems, on its surface, to be “about” one thing– but through the smallest inflections and details, suggests something deeper. Carey Taylor is one of these poets, and her new collection The Lure of Impermanenceis full of poems like this.
In “Pomology,” we have only one line to anchor us in the unmentioned story– “morphine drips”– while the rest of the poem gives us a tender portrait of the speaker’s father’s passionate knowledge of a certain kind of apple. He is telling the nurse, in detail, about the apples’ “low disease susceptibility,/ how they are foolproof really,/ reliable, well balanced,/ and sweet,” while his wife lies in a hospital bed. He has just asked the nurse “how long before his wife can go home,” and the unanswered question hangs in the space between the…
I am delighted to be sharing a reading venue with poets Meredith Clark and Lynne Ellis for this event. We will be reading on Saturday, April 6th from 5:00 – 5:45 PM, at Dick and Jane’s Spot in downtown Ellensburg, Washington.
If you are interested in hearing poems about the passage of time, impermanence and memory, come on down and say hi. I’d love to see you.
The fourth annual Inland Poetry Prowl is coming up and you really, really should participate. On Saturday, April 6, 2019, poetry will take over downtown Ellensburg, Washington (with additional programming on Friday night and Sunday morning). In (mostly) 45-minute sessions throughout the day and evening, galleries, stores, cafes, pubs, and other venues will host free […]
If you are in the Bellingham area this Saturday, I invite you to come and listen to Washington State Poet Laureate, Claudia Castro Luna and 22 other poets explore the question: What is it, then, between us?: Poetry & Democracy.
The Poetry Coalition, an alliance of more than 20 independent poetry organizations across the United States, will devote March 2019 to exploring the theme “What Is It, Then, Between Us?: Poetry & Democracy” in a series of programs in eleven cities that will reach an anticipated audience of more than 250,000 individuals nationwide.
One of the first people I met when I moved to Bainbridge Island almost seven years ago (how did that happen?) was writer Cathy Warner. I listened to her read from her recently published book of poetry called Burnt Offerings at the library, we read together at a variety of Kitsap county venues, and I took a writing class from her. We both were starting new lives in a new place when we met, and though we have both moved to other places since that time, we have not lost touch.
It takes time to build a poetry tribe and I am happy to include Cathy in mine. Cathy has written her second book of poetry and I am honored to share my thoughts about her most recent collection.
Cathy Warner’s newest collection of poetry, Home By Another Road,takes us down the highway of reflection and, whether she is the driver or the passenger, it is a journey that asks all the big questions. Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? What is home?
Warner uses every map she has available to answer these questions, and while on this journey we are fortunate to have an honest narrator at the wheel. While navigating the complicated territory of family, faith, forgiveness, regret, and redemption, Warner clearly understands we all must pay the toll master for the right of passage we call a life, where you cannot know, you never could, what might become/of you or anything you have ever loved.
Warner has the rare insight to acknowledge all the sadness and grief that is buckled up beside her on this trip, while never forgetting to look in the rear view mirror where joy sits patiently in the back seat, waiting for her to take up her pen in order to remember: the world is kind/sometimes the bars are set wide/and sometimes the twilight sky/ is tinged with love poems.
I am grateful for the places this poet takes us, and how she steers us into the green-/throated past/memory grown thick/as jungle weed arriving in the end/broken/but not before/we offer/(I hope)/our little morsel/to this world/a meal/a melody/a bouquet/a poem.
We all read together in January at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop where I had the opportunity to hear Melissa read from her new chapbook-RUPTURE, LIGHT.
RUPTURE, LIGHT is a book filled with poems that speak both to the personal and universal. The poems in this collection take us on a journey through the worlds of pregnancy, children, and marriage, and with this poet’s keen eye, helps us see both the transitory nature of the domestic scenes and their continued ability for rebirth: It turns out life is a will/an overfed bulb/that can be forced to bloom again/and again.
Hope is never forsaken in these poems, but as a keen observer the poet lets us know that all we love is leaving us: In the graveyard,/the snow softens the stones/while we walk, idle talk about how/we’ll be buried//You want to live forever/in the canyon we love,/your skin and bone/become sugar pine/and chaparral.
Reeser is a poet who tells us head on: there is one grief/inside of everything. And in the end, this ability to not shy away, is the very thing that allows the love of all she holds dear, to be gathered close with exquisite care, where there is nothing left to do but take it/tender in my hands,/try to soothe/its hunger.
I highly recommend you put RUPTURE, LIGHTon your poetry reading list and if you are in Portland catch Melissa reading at Cardinal Club on March 29th/5:30-6:30 PM.
In these dark long days I have been thinking of the people I and others have lost as we enter this holiday season. I think of my Aunt Trudy when I hang her home-made Christmas ornaments on my tree.
I think of my grandfather when I search the night sky for Santa and his sleigh and my grandmother who played board games with me on Christmas morning.
I think of my step-mother and her glorious tree.
I think of friends and family who have lost husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends— and my wish for each and everyone of us is that we take care of each other this holiday season.
May we be kind. May we be present. May we help each other as best we can and may we not forget those who have moved into the light of a new existence.
As I have been reflecting this month, I kept thinking about a Facebook post from a woman who lost her husband this past year. She posted a picture of a garland of gingerbread men they had made together last Christmas. Acknowledgement of both her loss and her love for this man.
When I was in my 20’s, I shared a number of Christmas celebrations with this woman and her husband and their extended family. And in that loving family I obtained through marriage, I learned my first grown-up lessons about unconditional love and the importance of celebrating each other and the season.
And as happens with me, a poem began to emerge from these reflections that I am now sharing with you. May you all find peace and love as we enter a new year.
Like blackberry brambles the soul has seasons
when its leaves grow scarce.
Even then, a smallish body will find shelter there,
deer mouse chittering, or the tiny wren, piping its song.
For what, if not that singing, does the soul dare
a new season’s greening?
Hello friends. It has been awhile since I posted here and I’ve missed my days of scheduled writing and updates. But truth be told, I have been taking care of myself in what has been a period of jackhammer days, both literally and figuratively.
As many of you know, I moved back to Portland last summer and in an either brilliant or insane move purchased a 1947 home which was in need of some major renovations. Today this blog is being written from my new office. Outside my office window my contractor is jackhammering away the basement foundation in order to install an egress window. It is noisy. It is dirty. I am hoping the house does not collapse and the new earthquake retrofit holds. In the meantime, I am visualizing a beautiful finished basement that is light-filled and has a second bathroom.
Also during this time, a family member died, another family member had colon-cancer surgery, and an adult child moved back home. I had something die in the chimney and for a week flies flew out of the fireplace like bats from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.
And while I haven’t been writing much, I did travel to Iceland and Ireland, have been invited to poetry readings to read from my new book, and I organized a poetry event in the small town where I graduated from high school and invited Finnish poet Gary Anderson to come read with me.
Last week I hiked seven miles up the Salmon River trail on the southwestern flank of Mt. Hood with old friends, and I’ve been reading and cooking more than usual—all things that anchor me during this fallow writing port-of-call.
So while my world is being disassembled and reconstructed I have complete faith the one thing that will remain intact (even if it is silent for now) is my poetry, because I can feel the seeds beginning to germinate, and a gentle push of green carrying a word or a line up through the dark with a story to tell.
But for now I am reading the poetry of Bethany Reid, who is a poet friend from Edmonds, Washington. Her new collection Body My House(Goldfish Press Seattle) is a collection that as author Priscilla Long so aptly conveys: are poems to read and reread, and to savor. I recommend you check her out.
My next gig is in Portland at “Another Read Through” on November 29th— a lovely neighborhood book store in North Portland. I will be reading with two of my favorite poets Christianne Balk and Kristin Berger, and we would love to have you come down and hear us read.
As I have mentioned before, my new book of poetry The Lure of Impermanence came out in July. I included in this collection a poem called 9 to 5. I wrote this poem when the #MeToo movement had just begun its groundswell.
Today, Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in jail for sexual assault and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is currently being scrutinized for a number of behaviors with women that are at best disturbing. And these are just a few of so, so many more stories just like them.
I have lost confidence in the ability of the news to report in any unbiased manner and therefore I am more often than not left to my own judgment and experience by which to consider stories reported in the media.
And what my experience considers is that I personally know girls and women who have been abused by boyfriends, family members and spouses.
What I do know is that I was carried to a bedroom by a man who was much older than me when I was barely of legal age and stoned on marijuana. A man who held a position of respect in the community.
What I do know is I am shaking as I write that last sentence because I recall that night as vividly as if it were today. Only it wasn’t today. It was 45 years ago.
What I do know is that I told no one. What I do know is that I was ashamed.
What I do know is that I am someone’s mother, wife, daughter and friend and none of them knew. What I do know is I am not sure I want them to know now.
What I do know is that all women deserve the simple right to be respected and have control of what happens to her body and if I could ask anything of you it would be to consider the women you love. Consider their experience. Because it is possible that the people who love her most, don’t know the dark places she has been afraid to shed the light on. Because to do so is to expose herself to being rejected, silenced, not believed or worst yet blamed.
And until history proves it unnecessary, may we all slash, slash, slash, this roughshod blazing path.