Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of 2008 Reflections as though I could be or am thoughtful at this juncture what with jangly coffee nerves and grand fir needles crunching underfoot, what with receding snow exposing kiwi leaves moldering in their thick leathery manner across the trex deck, what with Chiloquin behind me and two teaching residencies dawning the beginning of next week. Happy new year happy new year and a little panic what with no settling journal writing, no calming balm of alone time. Here I am alone in my writing room for the first time in awhile with piles and piles of papers and books unsorted unput away. In my bedroom are stacks of clean and stacks of dirty clothes. Stacks is an orderly word, a visual that doesn't coincide with the slidey humps that litter the dresser and floor along with the dog bed made of sheets for Julia's dog she leaves with us when she goes out - the undersheet abloom with blackish shapes created by said dog when she chewed open a green tennis ball a few days ago. But who cares about the sheets? Who can make sense of the residency several days past? This is my thirteenth day at home and I have reflected not at all, have done nothing towards making sense of what I did down south. Maybe what I should do is face that daunting task. Step into it. If I keep going I won't stop, if I bite off tiny bits, I'll be able to chew them. Maybe I am not equal to the entire task, but I could talk about one kid on one day, or about one encounter, or about the experience of driving in snow. I can reread my journal pages as I have begun to do. I can drink water to dilute the caffeine. I can cope and move forward.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's snowing everywhere in the world
the entire planet a snowball hurling
and I am warm and dry and typing
and what more do I need than that?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Ashland in the smallest room at the motorcourt
(I love a motorcourt) I wake to a disappointment of snow
I must have driven home last night in the entire falling
which makes me happy for my trip home (I mean
the motorcourt - we vagabonds bond quickly with place.)
Todays weatherground is peppered with winter weather
advisories all the way back to Chiloquin - not winter
weather warnings that might have stranded me here.
My reaction to Ashland was unexpected. I didn't like
the bookstore, the clothes store, the shoe store. I wanted
to sit quietly and write somewhere and there was music
glaring through the coffeeshop which I emphatically
wanted turned off. I longed for the not-enough of
Chiloquin that throws me back upon myself.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Which I Copy Lines from Poems from Chiloquin Juniors

I live in the necks of trees
As the trees hide in the mist
My soul is hidden in a willow tree.
Spring rain burns away my listlessness.
You may see my thoughts like fish
swimming underwater.
I am unassailable within the citadel of my mind.
I try to fly, take flight from all
the truculent people in this world.
Pain is always combined with doubt.
Harsh stories as black and cold as night, mean words.
Can you hear me now?
The silence is like a yell being smothered with a pillow.


HEY, wait up! wait UP! WAIT UP!
Posted by Laura Gamache at 12:49 PM

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Poem Draft with Words from Oregonian Daily Crossword Puzzle from 12/8/08

There are kids whose resistance is elfin
and kids who dig in their heels, don't just goof
off but will themselves to fail. Dream of Sega
and think they're Peter Pan or a son of Milne
(who wasn't very happy was he, Christopher
I mean) back to the kid amidst remotes
and vids with earbud dangling, ceder
of any care. He wants to be anywhere but here.
He oscillates on a frequency, with ocelots
perhaps or owls. Is he more alive for eve
than celebration? Musician but no oboe
in that case. I watch the moon, it's out, his noon
and I'm about to go to bed. Is life a detour?
Are we there yet? Plane ticket to the cine,
musical chairs, can he think of other wheres
or is he playing catatonic on a diatonic scale?
He will not say or write or think but placid
sit and never spark the twinkling of a thought
for anyone like me to see for I don't elevate
his dreams, our hearts don't overlap.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Far away in the wilds of the Klamath Basin where the air is so cold, dry and laden with invisible particulate matter from all the old old wood stoves, in particular my old wood stove, I long for home even with its darkness dampness darkness and duties. I have a love/hate relationship with the mail. I have missed the dailiness of mail in the box and the walk up the stairs to the mail in the box. I have not missed flyers and catalogues. I have not missed bills, and I didn't miss paying bills today. Jim phoned them to me and I paid them online, a fragile tether, odd connection to home. I am off to make an imagined map of something like Forgiveness, Longing or Tragedy to show to the ninth graders as a model for sixth period.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Yesterday I revised a poem about Edward Hirsch in which Czeslaw Milosz, Adam Zagajewsky and Zbignew Herbert figure and this morning I see on the siteminder/meister that someone walked through my blog from Prague. That's some major telepathy!

Today, I am heading off up Route 62 to Fort Klamath to visit the organic store and to Wood River and the park beyond that. I packed a lunch (yes Jim, I did), binoculars and sunglasses. I am practicing intention. I love my spontaneity, flexibility, impulsiveness, but this triumvirate has limited my ability to listen to myself and proceed from a stance - this I think is what people talk about when they talk about being centered. I can become centered in the moment, before whooshing off in random directions. This morning I did not go with my impulse to hop in the car and disappear down any highway, but most likely the road to Ashland (HA you thought I would write ruin!)

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Humument, an apology

When I say The Humument is a cool book, I don't want you to get the idea I've read it. I've looked at it as a collection of wonderful images containing words that were on those pages to begin with. Sometimes I read the words on a particular page, sometimes not. I love the confluence of word and image, but image always seems to trump word. My newly former brother in law is a composer who wrote a composition called "Freed From Words" with words floating in it. Separated. Ineffectual as we all feel some mornings when our feet are cold and the fire won't light, the room ahaze with smoke.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What with all the collaging going on at school and home, I had to look again at Tom Phillips's cool altered book, THE HUMUMENT. Above is page 6. I own a copy. This is how I write now. Short declarative sentences. Or phrases.

I was planning to drive to Klamath Falls to meet my friend for dinner tonight, but she called to cancel - she's sick, her daughter is sick and her husband took a student who had a seizure to the ER in Klamath Falls.

What I was not planning to do today was teach. But I did.

A day abloom with personal creative endeavor capped by a night on the town is instead a day at school - well spent I think but still a day away from my own wordplay, and now another evening alone, though an evening I can devote to wordplay if there's any ticking left in my higher functioning.

Making beauty is the argument I can give for why I'm here in town. Let's make beauty. Let's paste colored paper onto white paper, let's write poetry, let's step away from the s(*& that surrounds us. Maybe if all of us do that the s@(# will cease.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Camera left home however miles north and west of here,
though I have the cable to connect it to my computer. sigh.
No photos of my last three weeks in Chiloquin. Today I've
driven to Klamath Falls. Twenty miles north of town I hit
smog, the air inversion, the air stagnation the warning
says will be lifted Saturday. Yesterday it promised Friday
and two days before that it was today. Smog like sparkly
leek soup. Hills invisible. Upper Klamath Lake invisible.
How do the birds breathe? But I must shop and get away
point my yellow beetle north and drive into clear air. Up
at 4 am in tears over what a girl in one of my classes said.
I am so lucky, lucky, lucky, the more I know of these kids
the more I admire them. I will myself to stand with the ones
who speak truth who are truth tellers who point their brave
chins into the facts, focus their sharp eyes and speak and
make art with lives nobody had any right to throw at them.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Go to http://wordsmith.org/anagram/
All the best from,
A manacle harangue aka
harangue a manacle aka
huge almanac area aka
arcane human algae aka
humane arcane gala aka
manage area launch aka
a mean carnage hula aka
Laura Anne Gamache.

Acrostic Poems with Ninth Graders Today!

Lizards view me with slitted eyes
angry red, overheated and lazy
unknown unsung unwittingly
ridiculous floor liers,
acter-outers, resisters
against the gift of possibilities
new though latent in
nether minds brimming with
experience and perhaps love.
Get away from me, they scream,
afraid I will make them think.
Miracle imagination promises
antidote for boredom and dismal
childhoods. We are magicians,
Houdinis drenched but unchained,
each one a scaly multitude.

Monday, December 01, 2008

One benefit of driving eight hours south from Seattle to Chiloquin yesterday is that once I got to Highway 97 the sun was down and the crescent moon was joined by Jupiter and Venus in a clear clear sky all the way south from Highway 58 to the turn off.

Having been home for ten days, it was difficult to adjust to being alone in my little cabin. I ate dinner, read about two chapters of BY GEORGE, got into bed and was asleep before 9pm. The idyllic creative life redoux!

This morning I walked out to the wood shed and retrieved logs and kindling, built my fire and drank my half caf coffee.

Now I sit in the unheated library where there is internet access, but not for long. My right leg has resumed its unhappy cold-twinge, and I can't risk being unable to move at school.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft 11/24/08

Lassitude palls along the loch
dense and airless as fog truck DDT
chilled lungs, sleeve from a slung on robe

Friday, November 14, 2008

What the heck is sangfroide? It came to me on my walk the other day, I wrote it down in my little notebook.

"self-possession or imperturbability especially under strain" says Miriam Webster online, with "equanimity" as synonym.

I could write an essay on my need for that quality, especially 6th period with the new feral ninth graders. But I promised I wouldn't write about my teaching residency on this website since kids might google me and find it and hear and mess with me because of what I say here.

I have pink eye! Conjunctivitis! Wow! It sounds pretty but is goopy and droopy in actuality. I look my age! My left eye nearly smeared shut with goo yesterday when I drove directly from school to a free clinic in Klamath Falls 30 miles away (the clinic is on the other side of town - if it had been by the library it would have been a scant 26 miles away.) I drove directly into the sun for part of the trip, mainly the part where I was driving along Main Street looking for the clinic and barely making out the traffic signal lights for glare and eye-squinting. At the Fred Meyer to get my prescription filled the pharmacy guys kept paging me back to the counter. My insurance company claims the prescription benefit ran out in March. We didn't have this coverage until March. I paid and took the receipt, wanting to get the first two drops of magic elixer into my eye with no further to-do. Since I am here in Chiloquin with no family or intimates from home, I entered the house and regressed to six years old. I wanted cinnamon toast and old movies on TV. I made myself salmon from the Fred Meyer and a cheddar quesadilla and opened the new bottle of Australian Malbec, which was the first bottle of decent red wine I've purchased since coming here. Anything on the satellite TV that looked good was something my satellite subscription doesn't cover. My (inherited, purchased by my landlord and actually a gift not a right) satellite coverage covers only heavily advertising-laden or Christ-filled or infomercial fare. I pressed one channel that said "Fabulous Boot" thinking it might be a movie, perhaps a sequel to Das Boot? and a woman's voice accompanied by a hand fondling a fur-lined shortie boot came into view. The boot was ugly and in an ugly shade of anemic taupe or I might have continued watching.

The light dims here in the community center - the curator has gone home and locked the doors, so I am deliciously by myself in the space, which never happens so that I am loathe to leave as the protagonist in The Piano Tuner might be wont to remark. Really, I am more 19th century than 21st except for the under and outerwear.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I love that Brok O Bama!
"To the Best of Our Knowledge" on my transistor radio
Patricia Smith, whose Blood Dazzler is on the National
Book Award short list, Jay Parini who quoted Auden
like mad, and Australian poet, Les Murray, fathered by
a man with "an addiction to grief," who said, "I abhor
anything that demands human sacrifice." Last night,
in Chiloquin, Oregon, where we do, yes we do, celebrate
culture and poetry. Jay Parini, a poet, has written a
book called Why Poetry Matters and reminded me how
it does. Patricia Smith led with a poem about a girl
whose mother was known as a drug addict who asked
her to help her write a poem about her mother - dead -
that celebrated the person who sang while braiding
the girl's hair. The question Patricia Smith asked those
Miami-Dade County kids, was, who knows someone
who is dead. "I do," forty hands shot up, "I know a
dead person." Parents dead of AIDS and friends gone
to violence, and six year olds in need of voices, and
she realized that writing poetry is like having a second
throat, and that we poets, climbing to the lectern,
composing our poems, wield a very real power.

Friday, November 07, 2008

This is just to say
Barack Obama
has taken
the presidency
for the people
of the United States
as far as I
can see
and I
we're up
for doing
the work.



I am the woman behind you in the check-out line
who leans in intimately, whispers, "my son is
dying." You're next. The other lines is longer.
You have to get home befor eyour kids do, your
rollicking, exhausting, robust, healthy daughter
and son. You look away, a social cue I do not
read. "The cancer," I tell you, "is eating his
parietal lobe." "Next!" the clerk says. You have
piled your canned goods atop the whole wheat
bread and your fingers fumble for the keypad
pen. My poptarts, HoHo's and M&M's topple
forward as the clerk lifts the divider with
cigarette ads on its faces. You pass through
the automatic door, see me through glass,
clerk's hand clamped in mine, my mouth moving.
I do not have a son.

Should that last sentence be IN the poem?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Presidential Election Day and I woke up to snow
transforming everything, which I take as talisman,
as omen, as foreteller: the transition is upon us -
Obama will be the next president of the United States,
changing the American narrative forever. AMEN.

I am wearing red, white and blue bracelets. I was
wearing my Hawaii sweater, but its wool and too
warm to teach in even on a snowy morning with
that special cranking radiator heat that plagues
our public schools. Yesterday I picked up on what
someone said, "The Short Bus", liked it - it seemed
appropriate for elementary school but the kids
laughed and turned their faces - turns out those
are the buses assigned for special ed - not here in
Chiloquin, but these guys watch TV, they know
the lingo I don't know. Here in Chiloquin it's hard
to get the news - on Sunday when I can get no
internet access I also cannot get the Oregonian,
let alone the New York Times. The Shell Station
has a placard in its window "The Oregonian on sale
here" but the truck doesn't come out on Sunday.
I read the Klamath Falls Herald and Snooze,
and have now fed most of it into the maw of my
wood stove. Let's pretend this is a poem since
I'm giving it a narrow margin. Oh I hope Obama
wins by a margin wider than we've seen in decades.
I want definitive, I want instant confirmation. Jim
said, "I have a meeting at 6pm, I'm afraid it'll all
be over before I get home." I envy his confidence.

And here's Walt Whitman, who as E. Ethelbert Miller
said on Jefferson Public Radio (NPR) to LeeAnn
Hanson on Sunday, "no matter how we see ourselves,
as red or blue states, Whitman saw us all as one."


I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on
the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon
intermission or at sundown,
the delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl
sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to no one else.
The day what belongs to the day – at night the party of young fellows,
robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

-Walt Whitman

I hope to be singing tonight!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

At the counter in the library
a man says "I'm 79, guess I've
got another twenty years to go."
Coughs. He and the librarian
chat about cancer and dead kin.
The acoustics here are bright
and his voice bounces off
blonde bookshelves, reaches
me as though I were wearing
an ear trumpet. "It was '54,
'55, something like that," he
says, chuckles, blows his nose.
The kids along the wall get
to jawing, lined up
at the free public use computers.
"I could tell you a bunch
more stories," the man says,
the librarian says, "I bet."
A kid from one of the carrels
comments loudly. Someone
else turns up the sound on her
computer. A truck blats past.
The man hawks volubly, it
bounces between the science
books and the plays. A boy
pushes back his chair, it rasps
and his friend says, "lays an
egg," which is unrelated. "That
right?" says the libararian, and
"yaaah." "I thought that was
ridiculous," the man continues,
"You take care," the libarian says.
"I'm doing what I can," he says,
and then they get to repeating
goodbyes, he isn't leaving and
she isn't shelving books.


Saturday afternoon, November 1st at the Chiloquin Library.
Last night more trick or treaters than I've seen in five years
in Seattle. I went back out to the store to buy more candy,
bought the last two bags - a KitKat and a Baby Ruth. The
remains I brought with me - they're now in the libarian's
basket on the check-out counter. Last night I watched TV,
first time since I got here - Halloween and Jim called from
Shawna and Todd's - Todd had made Jim a Vampire Blood-
tini, and they were about to watch "Shawn of the Dead."
I have lots of remotes, but can't figure out how to play
a dvd. "The DaVinci Code" was on what turned out to be
a Christian focus channel - one ad was for a five day pray-
a-thon the station will be broadcasting next week, over-
lapping voting day and its aftermath. The ad breaks
were long and I ate a lot of mini KitKats and Baby Ruths,
not even tasting them - greedy, needy and insatiable.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And as the foreground greenery bows to Wizard Island, so Crater Lake stays the bluest skies you've ever seen. The lake doesn't change depth more than an inch or two every year, no inlet or outlet, nearly 2000' deep at the deepest point. When Mount Mazama blew nearly 7000 years ago the Klamaths saw it go, saw this caldera seal its sides by lava floes, fill with clear water.

White people, who have never allowed not knowing to interfere with aggressive action, stocked the lake, which had previously been home to virtually no living thing outside of bacteria, with lots and lots of fish. Brown trout, rainbow trout and some kind of salmon survive. Obviously nobody migrates to spawn. Populations are small as there isn't much to eat. (notice sudden escape from documentary tone.)

When we came here, Jim and I, 32 years ago, we walked from the lodge down to lake. The trail is gone. Rangers said there's a walkable trail on the northeast side of the lake, but we didn't drive over there to find it. We didn't even ask if there was a boat anymore to take tourists around Wizard Island. I like that the lake is that much less accessible to human messing about.

At school, we talked about rap. I wrote a rap draft yesterday morning, in the persona of a mythical upper middle class white person, possibly commander in chief, who knows. Here goes:

(It's a draft remember. I said it in front of the juniors, no beats, and those who looked back at me looked stricken, except one girl who said it was AWESOME, who is awesome, you are awesome Vanessa!):

Rap of Our Supremacy

We pound the wrong, who are in our way and brown,
we’re righteous, we’re free, they all want to be we.
The weak make us angry, let us take things away,
they pray so they say in their temples and mosques
pray to animals, the Milky Way – we don’t trust them
so we blow them away, we cage them and burn them,
make them do what we say. We remember the Alamo,
foxhole. Don’t point out Viet Nam or Gitmo - we gotta go
and take what we need. It isn’t greed like they spew
in their ignorant screed, claim we’re imperial in their
funereal attempts to save their puny ways. We don’t rue
what we do. If we’re wrong, we’d know it, forego it.

We’re the good ones, we’re virtuous and right
We believe what we’re told, we don’t misuse our might.
But we know when to throw our weight around
we’ve got the book of his word and we know who to pound.

No time to help the poor, fix our streets, give kids
something warm to eat, we gotta beat feet anywhere
you others dare to keep what you have, believe
you have the right to save yourselves and your weird
way of life. We come bearing gifts to heal your rifts,
commerce in drifts. You want what we have, we know
that you do – Gap, Target, MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried –
inside you want it, to be just like us, drive fast cars,
blot out the stars with traffic lights and all night bars.
You’ve got your fists around our oil. What could you
want with it? We’ve toiled – best workers in the world –
your hearts yearn for our stars and stripes way of life.

We’re the good ones, we’re virtuous and right
We believe what we’re told, we don’t misuse our might.
But we know when to throw our weight around
we’ve got the book of his word and we know who to pound.

You hate us cuz we’re free. Watch our TV, don’t believe
what you see. That brotha, he lies, don’t go to his neighborhood.
They’re not good, don’t do what they should. Their minds are wood!
You can’t teach them to change – they won’t forgive the past.
They won’t last, lower cast, oh those are vast. Forget them,
don’t let them pull you down, this is the wrong side of town.
Turn up the jams and put the hammer down. Don’t listen
till you’re far enough away they sound like sheep, such a relief,
they’ll come to grief – and deserve it. They kill each other,
can’t keep a lover, their beef’s just a cover. We don’t owe
them anything – let them mow our acre lawns, sprinklers on
in the dark in the draught – we’re not doing without.

We’re the good ones, we’re virtuous and right
We believe what we’re told, we don’t misuse our might.
But we know when to throw our weight around
we’ve got the book of his word and we know who to pound.

The rest of the world cowers. What should we do – offer
flowers? Please. You die of disease in ugly places, don’t
wash your faces or change your clothes. You blow your
noses in the street, walk over it in dusty feet. You’re
missing teeth, have no education, no sanitation, we can’t
respect your nation. – we have an obligation to perpetuate
our way of life – be a light unto the world and take
what you don’t know you have, and if you do, we’ll charm
you, disarm you, we never mean to harm your mothers
and your kids, your flimsy houses full of mice and lice.
How could you be nice? We don’t think twice. What’s to
understand? You’ve been neglected, we’ll neglect you.

We’re the good ones, we’re virtuous and right
We believe what we’re told, we don’t misuse our might.
But we know when to throw our weight around --
we’ve got the book of his word and we know who to pound.

We’re watching the news when the call comes in,
in midst of financial plummet, war and the election,
Bad connection, “Hey kids, It’s Dad.” Oh God.

-Laura Gamache
FIRST DRAFT, 10/28/08

Gotta go. SIX MORE DAYS! Believe that Obama will win, and that he will work for positive change in this country. I do. I believe. And I'm not a fool.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

That's Mt. Theisen behind the Klamath Marsh in the photo.

Here I am in Chiloquin, Oregon, south of anywhere on the west coast I have previously called home, autumn in the high country, clear cold air, quaking aspen, three kinds of pine, lots of kinds of people, though their numbers are few. Chiloquin, population 720, according to my Oregon D.O.T. map.

While I've been gone, Seattle poets have gotten over themselves in a big way at Green Lake, standing in a line to tell passers by "I love you," a pile of poetry books on a chair nearby.

While I've been gone, Seattle's Conibear women's crew sent two fours to Boston, where they placed 4th and 7th in the highly competitive Head of the Charles regatta.

I've come here to get in touch with my inner poet, and make her come out and write.
And get organized already! Which is rather beyond her, so I've brought my inner Hun, who used to cox for Conibear, and she's still busy with getting her headgear on, so more on that.

I've come here to teach creative writing at Chiloquin High School two days a week. I'm working with 23 juniors, 32 sophomores and 13 middle school, oops junior high kids.

I've come here to curate an adult writer group, three sessions in Sprague River, four sessions in Chiloquin. The first Sprague River session was last night. Five writers, six counting me. We're launched. Sharing writing is a kind of liftoff. We all agreed the sessions provide deadlines. Our audience awaits our best work! Make time for it! I suggested everyone write down ten observations a day. These can go towards a piece of writing, or augment the other work you're doing. I quoted Henry James, not from the Golden Bowl, but what he said about the writer being a person upon whom nothing is lost.

I've come here to learn something about here. As Perry Chocktoot, Culture Director at the Klamath Tribes said to me two days ago, "You don't know where you are." I asked him to tell me, and he has started to do that.

I've come here to develop reading habits. I've read Buy the Chief a Cadillac, by a cowboy, I've read parts of Stories Along the Sprague, am nearly through The Echo Maker by Richard Price. I have read poetry out of published books and poetry by my students. I like a balance of seasoned work and work by sprouting writers - so that my ear doesn't turn tin. The aspens are turning - leaves swivelling, and going golden. I began accumulating books my first weekend at the local bookstore, half of the Chiloquin Art Center across the street from the grocery store that has a liquor store in a closet straight back from the entry door. Last weekend I went to Portland to be with my Bookarina friends and had the dt's for Powell's. My friend Susan and I wandered the purple, orange, pink and other colored sections of the store. I think poetry is blue, so I spent a lot of time there - I don't look for color, I follow my worn path to get there. Oh, I bought books. I bought a few $1 books, there are sections throughout the store, for the Chiloquin School Library. I gave them to the librarian, along with some I'd brought from home. The books she turned away, Haydn took. Not Haydn the dead composer, Haydn the very alive young teacher I'm working with at the high school.

I came here to write, and I'm writing. I'm writing about my teaching, which is halting as the teaching hasn't found its footing yet. We are not within our flow as yet, my writing about my teaching is a boat I haven't quite gotten my butt to the seat of yet.

I came here to be away from home, to be out of sorts, alien, to look homeward into myself. This is going on. The first couple of nights I was jittery with nothing to do and nobody to be with. It is odd that there's no little cafe to hang out in here. There's no real dependable day to day sit down and jaw with your neighbors place. No wonder the different groups - so far I understand ranchers, Native folks, new transplants with high ideals and money. There's the new community center, where I sit in the library typing. It houses a gallery, the CVIP (Chiloquin Visions in Progress) and the sheriff's department probation officer. There's a Friday night Teen thing happening I think, though I do not KNOW this as a solid given.

Time is a different entity here - I don't trust my pace yet, am still holding back, holding out, unsure of what the hell I'm doing. I keep going. I don't stop. I would like to flow and soar, but that is never an all the time thing. I am a community resource here. I was shocked to discover the writers had not seen each other (the adult writers) since Ellie was here last year. I think I have a mission to help them learn to continue their group in between writing residencies without the group devolving - I have ideas how this could happen - certainly meeting no more frequently than once a month, having a rotating roster of group leaders presenting out of different writing resources. Keeping the same rules as when the writer is here, and in anticipation of the next annual writer visit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

See Madison Alley Chat (another blog) for my last two Chiloquin posts - who knows how my blogs got transposed? Not me.

I miss the anonymity of city swirling around me
that lets me focus within that swarm,
see my work within a web,
humanity's sweaty perfumed proximity.
Out here I'm the ant who went too far
my feelers touch no other feelers,
I pick up a poem or a dirty sock,
put it down, that 100 mile stare,
wonder where I am when I am not
where I am known. I am only me
but I come trailing everyone I've read
each a bright ribbon on my particolored
fancy dancing dress, all these poetry lines,
poetry minds, best minds who haven't
crashed and burned, or have but caught
some gist of what they were in words
before they left, they soared.
Would you rather be bored?
Hoard your trove of been-done-wrongs?
What about all the yet-unwritten songs?
I want to board that train and ride,
window wide open, vista dome sky,
watch as the world scrolls by.
Do I dare? and do I dare?
oh TS, I do and care to come and go,
What is bliss? What do I not want to miss?
baby you die if you don't try
to see beyond the fence you hide behind
it isn't safe for any of us
to jump off between stops
but we - each of us - face a window
that will can open.
Stick your tongue out
I only want to teach you, reach you.
Come back with me to steam engine days
through the haze at the station
we'll run to clasp hands and board,
fly into the past and get past the pain
that makes us vain. Why me?
Who did this to me? and Why? That's
a hard candy you've gotta suck
till it dissolves. That sweet ache
in the roof of your mouth that leaves
you craving for this vast passing
damaged dangerous person-pulverizing
world with its jagged edges you jerk
back from. You've bled before
and will again, sure as moon draws tide.
Grasp the handrail, pull yourself up
and ride.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I missed posting yesterday, Michelmas Day, the day after which it is not okay to eat fresh blackberries until next year. I was looking for blackberries.

No, I was not looking for blackberries, I was in Klamath Falls, buying produce at the last farmers' market of the year - baby bok choy!!! the cutest Macintosh apples, the size of baby fists, etc. I found the local NPR station, 90.9 (this may be wrong, my brain is slightly hazy from the absense of oxygen in the wood stove heated innards of the Chiloquin Community Center.)

There is a used bookstore here, run by a man named Richard, who told me it only took him fifty some years to find out what he wanted to do with his life. He opened the bookstore fifteen years ago. The bookstore is labyrintine, and packed floor to ceiling with books and more books, including one area I did not dare enter yet full of old and rare volumes. By here, I mean maybe half a mile from my cabin. He has placed the business and finance bookshelves in the rest room. I think he said he has 100,000 books, but I was slightly delirous at the time so I may have misheard.

I am taking a pine needle basket making class this Thursday from a woman named Hope at the Curio Shop that shares the building with the bookstore, (together they're called the Chiloquin Art Center.)

I spent two hours reading my poems aloud to myself last night, and talking aloud to myself about them. I was practicing for the community reading/welcome Tuesday night, but I felt entirely comfortable opining about myself aloud. Do tell me if you notice me doing this in a public place. Speaking of public places, the Klamath Library is pretty swell, and I found some good books there while listening to a three-woman flute ensemble that was part of the dedication for the memorial garden outside the library yesterday. I'm still feeling a bit hazy and not quite here, not entirely due to my slightly aged woodstove and less than Annie Oakley cowgirl fire laying skills. Though I leap to tell you that I'm one mean beach fire builder.

The train goes through town several times a day with horn blaring, and it does not stop. How does that register with a person growing up here? Do you not hear that horn after awhile? Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance, everybody thinks it's true is what Paul Simon says, but he didn't grow up here. I wonder what these kids have to say about it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm at the Courtyard Marriott in Springfield, Oregon, typing at the Room 115 desk next to the giant flat screen tv on a swiveling base. I could point that thing right at me if I so chose. I'll be long gone before you could get here. Since I'm right next to the exit door, people are slamming out at and shaking the lampshade on a regular basis. I've traveled alone a bit, and find it interesting that I have more often than not been placed in a room right next to an exit. I'm a woman alone and the desk clerk, usually a young woman, chooses a room next to an exit. I don't get it, but then maybe she doesn't get that there's anything more vulnerable about a room that gets more traffic past it than any other in the whole fracking hotel. But I digress.

Today I see Chiloquin for the first time. I don't get to move into my cabin today, but I do get to meet with the teacher I'll be working with at school.

My car is full. I cannot find my swim bag with my suit, goggles, cap, and Ultraswim shampoo. Jim packed the car, so I have no idea where he put it, or if he put it in at all. He would have packed anything that arrived on the entry rug, but would he have noticed if I hung the bag by its strap on the stair rail? I don't know. I was in no condition to pay attention by the time we left for our late lunch date, after which he went for acupuncture and I headed south on I-5. I stopped at Zupan's on Burnside in Northwest Portland at about 7:30 pm. Comfort of the known. And the outre. A shrine to precious food. I bought devilled eggs, toothpaste and unbleached coffee filters for insulated melitta style coffee pot I brought from Chelan. Out of body, out of place, not yet in process, en route to the unknown I've sought, discomfort and opportunity for change I'm driving toward. I've found a biodiesel source online in Eugene. I've written out directions on the "Accomplished List" notepad here on my desk. I could play video games if I had any idea how to do that with the three fingered hockey glove looking dealie behind the giant tv.

Check out time is noon, but I see no reason to hang out as I cannot locate - it is cold outside and the ground damp - my swim stuff. I love to split sentences awkwardly. Maybe one of the reasons I can work with kids in schools. Though slogging through the 8th grade stories this week made me somewhat sad. Most of the girls wrote variations on what the teacher told me are "gossip girls" plots. Is this a tv show? The protagonist moved from LA to NYC or NYC to LA (or somewhere in the "perfect state of California".) The girl is tall, blonde or auburn haired and hothothot with a perfect body and boyfriend she has left behind/has dumped her for her best friend. Or he doesn't know she exists. Since these are pre-dating girls, the boyfriends are like the "immaculate beemers" they drive, the huge designer purses they sling over their "perfect shoulders" - accessories! The people they love are their friends who 1. they left behind in LA/NYC 2. they meet in NYC/LA 3. betray them 4. forgive them or 5. die after having been betrayed by protagonist. (or all 5.) The protagonist may not realize how hothothot she is until the climax (unfortunate choice of nomenclature.) The protagonist may realize this is not all there is to life, and these girls got better grades. Uh, yes, I did this. The stories were so trite, banal, insubstantial, and frighteningly similar that I wound up evaluating them based on the choices the protagonist made - was there any thought put into the story at all? If the protagonist spent time sorting through what was going on in her fendi/prada or whoever world and I could feel the writer thinking and feeling her unique way into the story, up went the points. People who got the most points were those who wrote about entirely different subjects. This is a Catholic school and it runs on points.

Monday, October 06, 2008

There's a level of self loathing and frantic whizzing I have managed to achieve over the fact that I forgot my inherited iPod in Chelan - came home with a snazzy speaker dock, the charger, the ear buds, a cylindrical duhicky that pulls in radio signals, but apparently the iPod sits alone or next to the current car insurance form for our vehicle, probably on a very visible countertop. I am leaving for a nine week sojourn in southern Oregon this Thursday, so this lack of consciousness is worse than nagging or bothersome. I know I cannot 1. drink 2. eat candy unless I do not care if I can 1. think 2. function.

I have a couple of deadlines looming before I leave, also two hair appointments. THere is a squirrel outside in the drizzle frantically whizzing from my yard to the chicken yard across the alley. He or she has a more coherent handle on his/her activities than I have at the moment. Also, I am wet. I'm hysterical and I'm wet.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Draft, 10/3/08

Here we go again with all the imps and emus
though to confuse the mind we add a tapir
and a mongoose so he will not be alone
though what I'd rather be is bicycling.
I'll ask again how many years I should allot
to idleness and how many thoughts to squalor
and you remind me of all I have to do.
When eek we hear out back beside the ewes
Have we gone mad? Just ask Elvira
she's busy with her navel by that easel
propped in Pollyanna's field. Yield!
we cry like knights not from Columbus
and who among us hasn't channeled Ezra
but back to ewes and their distress, at best
it's someone fussing with recycling
but we are in I fear for drama. Call your mama
or an ant. We wander Walmart (no agora)
and meet again for tea before the spelling
bee. Hee Hee. But as I said before, now, Holst
can keep us spinning when we fall like this to
err to whistle badly by the hour.


no animals were hurt in the production of this poem.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

The essential human act at the heart of writing is the act of giving.
-Peter Elbow

I'm sending almost daily postcards to Chiloquin, to the teacher and kids I'll be working with at the high school starting October 13. Who are they? What are they thinking, if anything, about this weirdo mailing missives from Seattle. The postcards have collages on their fronts - today's has the Peter Elbow quote, as part of a collage I made almost eight years ago. Here's the text:

I am looking forward to meeting you all, and to doing good writing work together. I believe learning to hear yourself/myself think is a great gift - like creating a map as we wander through the wild country of our lives. Looking forward, Laura Gamache

The challenge for me is to continue creating that map, continue looking at my course. My tendency is to close my eyes, back away, sit beside the trail and reach into my grubby bag of huckleberries and eat them, all. I'm discouraged by rejections, by my own disinclination to push myself, by the current political climate, by anything I can come up with as an excuse! I used to tell people that the Fulkerson Family Motto was: LAY DOWN AND DIE! I'm still a Fulkerson, and I have to fight that tendency to GIVE UP! When I was nineteen, mother said, "I don't understand why you're so unhappy. Just wait and good things will happen to you." WAIT! I HATE to wait! But I am a master at that pose, that stance, that opportunity to ditch the work and do nothing and feel HORRIBLE about it. I loved school as a kid, and felt guilty that I liked my teachers better than my family - my teachers didn't make me clean the toilet, take care of the other kids, listen to their adult yadayadayada about "your father is a good man, but..." When I was eighteen, my mother started to offer wine to me as she whined to me in her bathrobe, hair mangy, wine at her elbow or down the hatch. I sat across from her at the kitchen table, pinned there, with no voice of my own. I didn't drink. My rebellion was in my refusal. Silence. Inaction. Not lifting that glass. Not making facial expressions. I built my ability to completely out, to blur my vision and blunt my consciousness and slam down the door of my emotional reaction to anything she said until it was safe to flee. I've fled. Years and years and years ago, but the habit of distance, of going blank, comes back to me daily. It is so familiar and easy to embrace. My impulse gets me into trouble - I need an adult to take my child in hand, like my therapist offered and I turned away. She's right though. I let my little child self rule - a package of hershey's kisses - you bet. Facing the manuscript, the poems with all their fricking difficulties, primarily their checked-out, freaked-out qualities, not happening. I don't wanna. I don't haveta. Nobody's grading me, nobody cares if my work never gets done, my workroom is a riot of misplaced papers, my car key's left on the freezer shelf and I'm in a sweat to find it but have no memory of where I set it because I'm in that backed-away pose, that waiting to flee stance. There is an enormous amount of exterior crap to flee and it is easy to pin my dis-ease, my refusal to face the roar of the world (thank you Michael Meade) on the $700 billion bailout, on Sarah Palin, on the entire Sudan. It's a lie. I can try. I don't have to lay down and die. I got that DNA din in my ears saying why not? and why? and oh you are so tired, you work so hard, just rest, rest, rest. But that is death talking.

Learning to hear myself think is a lifelong activity. The map has lots of vacant places, vast expanses, dark continents. It isn't just learning, it is doing the practice. Practice practice practice, because that is all I have. Get up in the morning and practice again. See if I can hit a sweet note and love that note, love those minor chords, that dissonance, and when the harmonics accidental though they usually are, kick in, breathe through them and go on, look forward.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 10/1

when we lie down we must obey
drooping eyelids, dropping pulse,
cat stretch to the farthest toes
and down we go and far away
where everything will be okay.
Our leaders lead and we obey
daylight, we are far from home
our fears beset our sleep, we're
apt to toss our cookies for an ace
this petty place rapacious sheaf
another boy cries wolf our roles
woo nightmares, noone in the nick
can rescue gracious dames while
slither tongues and liquid clocks
wind spacious orbits at a slant
we can't quite see but spacious
to sleep perchance to stir another
fate that doesn't smell like skunk
another punk voracious and in
vain so vain windvane spin
the bottle punch the throttle we
barely toddle. Close our eyes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paul Klee "Mask of Fear"

well, it doesn't come in on little cat feet does it?
Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft 9/30/08, First Go
When even peacocks dress in drab
come in from damp
office days in a daze no craze for debs
to don what they do not have. Aloe,
as they say on phones in India. Ill
winds blow or was that trickle down?
Nero never learned to fiddle, Rome
burned. Ideas too and passions, our
urge to act up or whine like nine
year olds when you don't send me
where we wanted to go in our Volvos.
Oh we're drab enough now that hope
has fallen in the dunning ditch and
which of us takes the blame? Have
we grown this tame, heads hung low
and laughing all at once as though
the curtain doesn't billow for me
and you. Too. Rub our heads for luck
till we go bald. Trim our sails
for diapers. Should have kept the van
fantan man. TV shows for true
but we are here or were and near
to seeing or we will before we set.
And yet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Rising Sun" Paul Klee

Sun rise isn't sunrise but who's quibbling
I nibble life's dry crackers at the edges
and leave the brie to ooze across the plate
as shadows lengthen, mountains loom,
a man imitates Bud Lightyear across
the English Channel and seven hundred
billion is all we need to save us all.
Welcome Fall.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Portrait of an Artist by Paul Klee

A Coney Island of the Mind
Poem 15
Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of day
performing entrechats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence
-Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Klee and Ferlinghetti together, this makes me happy!
Last night a shot in the arm to innoculate me against my dis-ease
with my own poetry. Thank you Rebecca, Beth, Martha, Pat, Kelly.
It is so easy to get lost and give up. Nothing like Anisakis worms
to perk a girl back up. I don't want to die anymore. I acknowledge
my slow fevered grinding, taunt night and star-shove my head through.
Thank you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paul Klee, Battle Scene from the Comic Fantastic Opera "The Seafarer" 1923

From the Comic Operatic Fantasy The Seafarer

It beguiles--
This little Odyssey
In pink and lavender
Over a surface of gently-
Graded turquoise tiles
That represent a sea
With chequered waves and gaily
Bear up the seafarer,
Gaily, gaily,
In his pink plume and armor.

A lantern-frail
Gondola of paper
Ferries the fishpond Sindbad
Who poises his pastel spear
Toward three pinky-purple
Monsters which uprear
Off the ocean-floor
With fanged and dreadful head.
Beware, beware
The whale, the shark, the squid.

But fins and scales
Of each scrolled sea-beast
Troll no slime, no weed.
They are polished for the joust,
They gleam like easter eggshells,
Rose and amethyst.
Ahab, fulfill your boast:
Bring home each storied head.
One thrust, one thrust,
One thrust: and they are sped.

So fables go.
And so all children sing
Their bathtub battles deep,
Hazardous and long,
But oh, sage grownups know
Sea-dragon for sofa, fang
For pasteboard, and siren-song
For fever in a sleep.
Laughing, laughing
Of graybeards wakes us up.

-Sylvia Plath (1958)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Mariners won last night, 9 to 6. It was a good game, runs from both teams, fielding from both teams, minor errors either side. The Mariners hit the ball, got on base, loaded the bases. Their pitchers, even J.J., threw men out, swinging and looking too. It was cold, but not cold enough for the blanket we had brought. We ate Thai Ginger curry and phad thai and drank beer with lime wedges in plastic glasses. We shelled pistachios and plunked them into Cracker Jacks, and discovered the pistachios had been spicy brined only after we had nestled them among the caramelled corn with the pencil topper that is always the Cracker Jacks prize in recent memory. There were no train horns until the 6th inning. The sixth and seventh innings were the best for Mariners' fans, with the team loading bases and scoring seven points over the two innings. Shawna, Jim and I threw arms around each other, stood, swayed and sang "Take me out to the ball game" for the seventh inning stretch. The team has lost 99 games this season, and this might have been the headline game, but instead the Angels and Mariners played baseball under a cloudy sky that threatened but did not deliver rain.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Insula Dulcamara (1938)

I insulate myself from my inner beast --
blur my vision, hear the Muzak, practice scat.
You sing me Cain and what he did to Abel
as if we never had a dealing with Jack Welch.
I remember Carolyn and her mother Cora
Dore and throw them in my brain in front of Tito
but what do I know, I hear the crowd aroar
there's more to cooking geese than ovens.
Do we remember what we must not do unto
the meek? You tell me I am ... breaking up.
Cats extend their knives, the birds flock, etc.
USA Today has no pie chart for this, no arc
that makes any, ...can you hear me now?
I sing I love technology, loud and yet again
while nonsense calls me like a loving Dada.
Ostriches and chickens offer eggs, in coop
or praire what they give are ova over arias
unt uber allas what do we know but Mt. Etna
every one Vesuvial, every Dick and hairy Tom.
Beauty was a wall flower, her petals open
bruised and underused, our disapproval tacit
a tisket a tasket, you say, ...I didn't catch that.
The lights are bright at MSN and AOL
and do not make them diamonds, mhyrr, ore,
yet all you say to me ..., I'll try redialing.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I made the mistake of looking at the site master - I love to look at the world map and see where people live who visit my site. I made the mistake (I, I, I, think Emma Thompson in Angels in America,) of looking at "details" and discovered that most people who come to the site leave within one second. I am not apparently an enormous hit with the googlers, who probably find me via the crossword puzzle link and are puzzled in a not-fun manner. Clicking "ranking" and expecting it to give me my rank among blogspot blogs (300 millionth maybe, so I could lord it over the person ranked 300 million and one,) I discovered that 49 people (highest number) came to my site looking for Paul Klee, who I did write about one day, and whose paintings I admire along with them. I think I will shamelessly use Paul Klee painting titles as my blog titles from now on. But first, off to Tacoma in my yellow Beetle with its brand new Les Schwab tires (with no siping,) so we will not slip off the road surface due to bald bald bald tires. No, we will grip the slip slidey oily rainy freeway all gleeful for art and openings and Don's first catalog, which I will buy tonight.
It's raining and just over 50 degrees farenheit but I've taken off my jeans and warm boots and put on my salwar kamez to go to my friend Don's opening at the Tacoma Art Museum tonight.

The last time I wore this outfit was to feed Indian food to my daughter and her husband this spring. My daughter wore her salwar kamez too, Jim wore his long blue kamez and Todd wore the caftan a friend brought back from Morocco. Will I look ridiculous tonight? Who cares! People wear all kinds of weird outfits to art events, and this is designed to be incredibly staid (and, being silk, a tad hot in southern India.) The event on the other hand will not be staid. It will be fun, and involve a spice tasting and some sort of dancing I have forgotten because I haven't looked at the invitation for a couple of days.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So if you're reading this and will be at the orientation this afternoon, no surprises for you, so stop reading now if that's the case. You know who you are.

I've changed my title to Reciprocal Syllabus Development, though I just typed "Strategies" rather than development, so perhaps that's what I mean.

I'm thinking about my philosophical stance, my reason for going into the classroom. Is it to "Teach poetry" - no. Lots of kids slumber through school, and how do you learn anything this way - sleep learning with the book under the pillow in "The Shaggy Dog" notwithstanding - ! I think lots of teachers try to work around the banking model of education, the filling the vessels angle, that one way top down flow that prepares kids for assembly line work by treating them as objects on an assembly line. BUT, an artist enters the classroom with no WASL scores hanging over her head and a passion for her art. One teacher I work with says "I can't be passionate about one thing, what a middle school teacher has to be is a good manager." Enter the artist. But what do you believe about the kids you will build a writing community with (or fail to)? Will you teach them to make haiku or pantoums? What underlies this teaching? Why would they want to learn it? I believe that most if not all kids have inner lives they can give voice to if we listen, offer tools, and keep listening as they use the tools. But they won't use the tools if they don't care, not really use them if their motivation is points, is extra credit, is no recess if they don't buckle down. I approach my students as a fellow traveler, bungler, failer, attempter, questioner. I offer small gestures. If they respond to a gesture in one way, I will go that way, if not, I'll offer another small gesture. Perhaps the gestures get larger and more complex. Even if the gestures are tentative, I'm asking the kids to risk, to try to do something I haven't exactly defined because I want them to do something never done before, how can it have a definition? I believe that each person is unique in the history of the universe and that the more closely a person describes what she sees the more unlike anyone else her speech will be. This is why cliche is a problem - you sound like everyone else using a cliche, hiding your uniqueness behind the bland generality. What would you say if you said exactly what you mean? I hope I help at least some students try to find out. It is exciting to say something you didn't know you could say, find out something you think through writing it. I believe in the writing brain, in the fingers as savants. I believe with Brenda Ueland that "everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say."

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft, 9/18

I didn't ask for your curriculum vita, pass the pita
out like a lion but don't imagine I'm in like a lamb
don't count your fingers before you go to Tel Aviv
aswim, on a train, by bus and checkpoint car, alar
but someone always catches someone in the act
even fellows we know like so many Valentinos
in sheety splendor running sheeply cross the lea
like you and me they hunger past dense entree
we're grown for greed always certain we are needy
wading with our microwaves and Dells. Even so
we know we get our just desserts from Vixen,
Comet, Cupid all the rest for all we give and gave,
glory moments on TV on field, on clay, on mat.
Every Tom and Dick responds to bugle, RCMP
Do Right. Each has born heat from Wolf, the Aga,
done some unsung deed and toasted self with ale
oh heroes pale before our unknown Bobs and Iras
though none espy our capes our heroics solo.
You walked into this store for milk and gum,
when by the cheeses you grow larger than your past.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As I start my day, begin to foment my tiny daily resolutions if not revolutions, if not responsible restitutions and etc., I think about what the hickety hell I do in the classroom. What keeps me going back? Keeps me from repeating myself? It's who's there, who might be there, who might speak, might say or write something surprising to wake me up. Structure and surprise? What is art? What is teaching? Who teaches? Who listens? Looks inward? Looks outside? RUNS?? I've said I'll run a session I've given the title to so I have no excuse for not knowing what I mean. But, I wonder what I mean, and if I can talk about "Organic Syllabus Development." Holy crickets. Do I mean look around the room for clues to how the class runs and run another way? Do I mean listen to the students? Teacher? Myself? I was thinking it was funny, OSD so like OCD and other educational/psychological TLA's, how meaningless in all their vaunted shorthand meaning. I have a habit of sidestepping deep crevasses in favor of muddying puddles that are easier to recover from. Walk towards the roar of the world the man said the other day on the radio, Michael Meade I mean. Oh, I like that as a mantra and stance, but do I do it? I'm talking about high minded classroom philosophical stance while meanwhile going into school today to repeat a lesson I've taught a dozen times before. Do I let myself off the hook by saying but I will pay attention to what the kids say and write? Is this an easy A? I am shamelessly, have always been a good student, someone who picks up on what the situation calls for and provides it. Is that even true? Am I too hard on myself? I am tired and discouraged and not so jazzed even with this amazing weather.

This weekend, Jim and I drove onto (on to? to? on?) the Edmonds ferry to Kingston, crossed the Hood Canal Bridge and drove to Port Townsend, where we ate dinner at Silver Water Cafe and stayed at the Water Street Hotel with a bathroom down the hall. We ordered the appetizer with chantrell mushrooms, figs, goat cheese and bacon blanket on a skewer. From Port Townsend, we drove to Sequim for breakfast at Gwennie's Cafe. We didn't intend to go to Gwennie's, just to breakfast. Sun everywhere. Warm. September. Our waiter was mid-sixties, male and gay. My father says he has/I have relatives in Sequim. I don't even know what their last name would be, though maybe Peak, since my Dad's mom's maiden name was Peak. Brownie Ethel Peak. Huh. And my dad and aunt look Makah. Huh. He says he's always suspected he's part Mongolian. Huh.

I love car riding! I will miss petroleum, though I would never chant "drill, baby, drill". We drove up to Hurricane Ridge in the clear morning air. CLEAR and bright at the lodge and meeting place for a walking tour of the meadow which we took with our young volunteer ranger, Joanna. We each got a card with an animal on it. Our mission was to think about what that animal would find to eat on our walk. I had a black bear and Jim had a coyote, a very handsome upstanding one. I got a little huffy when our guide, who is from Tennessee, presumed to tell us about my homeland. I may become crotchety as an old woman. Stay tuned. My mother now sounds like an old woman on the phone. She's entitled, at 83. The book I'm reading, The Echo Maker, has a fellow of 55 in it who the author, Richard Powers, an otherwise brilliant man and writer, keeps referring to as old, as in quite preoccupied with his end times, as in withered and finished, and what I want to say is, in what universe?!?!?! I am 56, my still-functional hackles up and pointy. But back to Hurricane Ridge, where the view included no fog or lack of visibility whatsoever, a day in a hundred, two hundred, three hundred? Not even the tiniest bit filmy our view. Wow! I pointed out to a couple older than I am something Joanna, not being a native, had missed. A way to tell hemlock from fir is to check for the bent over top. That calmed me down. Really, I wasn't overtly a horrible territorial tourist, just in my big fat head. We drove to Lake Crescent, to Log Cabin Resort, where we spent a night on our honeymoon, and where my family vacationed many times when I was a child. The magic had faded. The counterman at the lodge ignored us. Perhaps he was taking drugs or drinking. Perhaps he was about to go off duty. A woman came into the space as we were leaving, and went behind the counter. I felt invisible or unwanted. Log Cabin Resort used to be privately owned but is now part of the National Park concession. It seems to have conceded and shrunk. It doesn't look in very good repair. Lake Crescent continues beautiful, mysterious and deep. The mountains loom, covered with vegetation. Log Cabin Resort's tacky gift shop had zorries with huge fake jewels carelessly pasted on and two four foot plastic tubes filled with s'more makings, including melted masses of chocolate that once were sectioned chocolatey bars, not Hershey. We took our photos in front of the cabin we slept in 32 years ago, one at a time since the iPhone doesn't have the self timer feature, and drove out of there to find Lake Crescent Lodge on the other side. Lake Crescent Lodge was in much better repair and felt far more welcoming. We sat in Adirondack chairs on the beach. Log Cabin Resort used to have Adirondack chairs on the porches of its cabins, so I spent a moment checking to see if these were stolen. We split an order of fish and chips, which were huge and good. The porches of these cabins had rockers on them. Not those big Kennedy rockers, but little, straight ones. We went on, to Kalaloch. Fog began to filter through the trees as we approached the ocean, and we were happy to see it after so much disorienting sun on the Olympic Peninsula. Kalaloch was booked. Solid. They called ahead to Lake Quinault Lodge "our sister resort" but it too was booked. We drove there anyway, with two hotel names written on notepaper in my fist. There was a cancellation at Lake Quinault Lodge, and we got a room. We sat in Adirondack chairs on the lawn that slopes down to the lake shore with a glass of wine (me) and a glass of beer (Jim). The Adirondacks are far from here, and they were far from McMinnville, Oregon, where my great grandfather made at least two Adirondacks chairs for the family to sit on. The next morning, we rented a canoe for an hour and paddled the glassy west and south perimeter of Lake Quinault.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Word Scrimmage Word Poem Draft (oh how the mighty have fallen)

Spray Shout! across the micropile bath towels
keeper of the keys in the laundry room because
you want to be, your ankle throbbing, a sprain
that eases as the stains do, nice and evenly
as your temperment you share with your
placid father, the one you threw the forks at
trying to rile him as your mother taught you.


Did that need an amen? ahem, to continue:

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle 9/12 Poem Draft

Today in Sports

Go panthers! devilrays! cowbows! hawks!
swell in your padded suits until you ebb
inevitable as all that flows. You must avail
yourself of everything you can, yes sir,
for unto you will come the day when yea
you walk through the valley, no Delta
to carry you across and safe. No Clooney
with tongue in cheek could save Lenore,
your only hope for praise to save
your name for Google search. No Tao
you walk will lead you from an Usher.
Do it now for one day what you lack
trumps what it doesn't take swami
to remind you will ensue and freeze
what's left. Oh you can build a baffle,
but we all lose the raffle, aren't risen.
We're flat crackers, bulger wafers
and even wide receivers get stomped
as if I know a football thing dear ref.
So as you trade your Prius for Mini
and hang your bike in your garage
I'll take your photo like George Eastman,
stay at the Heathman, but we're timed
and primed to go not come for as we are
will alter crack and dribble like an egg
in cardboard cradle, wear like agate,
slink through dumpsters like the rats
we mostly are as sad as Norma Rae
though once again the Tour de France has Lance.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Poem Draft 9/11

In Fall when school work adds
its meetings and traffic jams
I miss Moses hefting slabs,
Della Street, Paul and Perry,
rocking hammocks, amber ale.
In other days we'd dance hula,
chant bula bula, driver's seat
the only clear place in the car.
Once more into what's akin
to give it up to disembark.
But hark, we praise valets
in black with ties and vests
to stick an elbow in or bow.
Some launch the boat, oars
out, while on the ottomans
lie those on the road to Rio.
Once there were amps
where now the hunting owl
drops talons and besets
living things with too much
self esteem to cower. I teach
in one more hour. Would
you leave me for Oahu?
More beaches for more tar!
Squirrel in dogwood minus ego
is not like we are drawn to neon
I would go on another eon
but you're restless in your pew.


ok, not a poem draft, but a linkage of words brought on by across words from today's crossword. My daughter's birthday today. YAY! Happy birthday Julia!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seattle Public Toilets on the Move!

African Queen

a couple of scrawny cast-aways
but I said Katherine Hepburn and
Humphrey Bogart and you read their
names in lights all bright and gone.
Their teeth huge white in those soiled
faces, the one driven mad by insects
the other by leeches with those clean
underbreeches weeks gone in East
Africa fighting their private war
and winning in the end. Oh my friends,
how happy this morality tale makes
me, so comforting this end.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shefer Crossword 9/8 poem draft

Oh give me a poem where the buffalo roam
and don't stand by their meat for sale sign.
I sing of this place where the buffalo pace
though Durangos are clouding our days
Home, home in the dome
the kingdome that's blown all away...

I've lost my nerve. failure of verve. oy.

Another blue blue day with deep pigment green
warning us it won't be long till November darkens
our skylights with leaves large as eviction notices.

another false start. faint heart.

From the groaning table fall more crumbs
and the bums have chosen Sarah Palin
to suck out all the oil. They think they foil
our democratic urges I'm already singing
dirges to an early seen awakening.

alak aday our hope has passed away.

Ahoy! I see the ship Euphoria
do you spy it too? are you my mate?
or do you love to hate never abate
in greed instead of seeing need
succubus spouting ugly screeds.

Monday, September 08, 2008

It's room temperature around here, sky of blue, trees that deep almost too green September green. I received another rejection today, by email. So ephemeral, email, I can almost believe I dreamed it, like the last one, which was from Bat City Review. Oh, they say, we received so many many poems from so very many earnest diligent talented (more talented than YOU) poets working in far more interesting and involving ways, and etc.

I'm a tad discouraged about my poetry writing career. I think this is slightly funny, given that I will be going on a writing/teaching retreat for nine weeks this fall. I like to totally blow myself out of the confidence water so nobody will think I have a swelled head. You can tell where this is going so I will stop.

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle 9/5/08, a poem draft

At the antique/junktique mall I bought a short pew
with gum varnished tight to its underside, the sum
of my religious observance. Sitting there, alas alack
does not transport nor titillate my tongue. Like beef
I lack a home in Jesus here in the hallway, the urn
with my dog's remains beside me no Ouija accessory.

The antique/junktique mall moved farther out
soon after I moved farther into town. I wanted from
it what I never discovered though I uncovered
Franciscanware in bisque and taupish pink and blue
and bought it wouldn't you? and a pitcher stamped
with Shirley Temple's face. I liked that place. I liked

the junk that made me sneeze, dust furze on plates.
Logic asked for none of this accumulation, nobody
would make a million dollars from this place. The
town moved into wealth and million dollar condos,
we moved away. Crystal amber glistens on the gum
I never chewed. Was this about religion?

Friday, September 05, 2008

I've got my Ughs on, the ones I bought for January in St. Petersburg Russia. My feet are still freezing, the sky glows gray, it doesn't seem like it's going to hit any eighty degrees today. I'm preparing to go south to Oregon to reach high school kids with poetry, change their lives with poetry, fire them up, wake them up with poetry, but my feet are cold and I have to go to the bathroom. People I do not know have been living in my house for weeks, several groups of them. What do I think about this? I feel invaded, but squelch that since there is money in it, since my husband has relaxed into thinking about what he might like to do instead of what he must to keep us afloat, working a job he's grown to hate. I just read on the heel of my lambswool boot that I'm wearing Uggs. I prefer Ughs since that's how I feel about cold feet. I have such cold feet.

Last night my friend told me about getting radioactive iodine treatment for her thyroid cancer. She always used to be cold - wore her wool coat in restaurants in summer. After the 18 hours she spent in isolation in a room where everything was covered in paper so she wouldn't irradiate it, where another woman stood six feet away and pointed a geiger counter at her, where she sat behind the yellow danger! radiation! tape, she isn't cold anymore. She wanders her living room on cool days in a tank top and shorts.

Here are my last five poetry postcards for the August Postcard Poetry Fest:

I remember whe I wanted
to read every book in the school library
I remember I couldn't carry ten books myself
I remember I wanted to eat a Woodland Park
Zoo at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor - thirty
scoops of every ice cream flavor drizzled
with hot fudge, caramel and
marshmalow cream
I remember when I believed my desires
fired the whole world.


I have seen the Paris scene
at night, all those white lights,
driving where revolutionaries
and the cast of Les Mis piled
tables and barstools in the streets
burning down the unworkable
to find a path to the new
before Claudia fronted Vanity Fair
before the twenty-first century,
before we thought
it meant progress to be self aware.


I am leading a quiet life
in my place every day
waiting for inspiration
waiting for Godot
waiting for the mail
and all that ails us
makes us wail to be gone
I am leading myself into
temptation to forget my own
legs, my own heart, my own
miraculous ability to speak.


I tried to pay attention
watch the Republican Convention
listen to Sarah Palen speak.
I wanted to know who she was
and if anybody would be fooled -
believe the jive live at five.
Walk, someone told me, into
the roar of the world. The crowd
roared, lifting patriotic balloons,
the old man still a POW
roaring now in my ears
all these long long years.


Not a single one among us
knows what this is about -
we tell our own stories
try to plot what comes next
read the stars and name them
for our sons and daughters
point our boats into current
faces squinted with sun
try with all our force
not to break sweat and run.


Farewell August
Hello back to school.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

As sun dims and shimmers, razors
miss and blood stains trouble others too.
You grimace from cold or memory, a-okay
from behind the boat, another agony
hushed in wake. We know emergency
room, vet, Benadryl, bandaids, litany
of cures, sign of the cross. Remember
when nobody's child took meds?
We down brownies, empty wine bottles,
rue the cut that will not close, seek grace
in a badminton swing, floaties on the lake.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New York Times Crossword Puzzle Draft 8/26/08

Ahead of us the chorus of meows
echoes alleys, I make the Theda
face, you cross your eyes, not sad
nor sheik. We have trampled atria
like grapes our toes digging dunes
our tongues flaming. Ah, you cry,
but I don't know what you mean.
What we knew has turned to chant
and we're not the ones chanting.


Back and forth from Seattle to Chelan I wake and don't know where I am, though I am forever cleaning wherever I am. How many millions of women have lived like that? Comet whiff perpetually under their nails. Hillary Clinton gave the best possible get with the program and support Barack Obama speech last night. She was more directly powerful than I've heard her for awhile - the "I work harder than anyone, can't you see it? SEE IT SEE IT" stridency gone from her voice. I hate to use that word along with shrill and the grab bag of anti woman words. I don't think Barack's victory means we as a nation are more sexist than racist, though that may be true. It feels true, as Rosie O'Donnell's character said in "Sleepless in Seattle".

There are people I don't know in my Seattle house, and Jim and I are the only ones here in Chelan. A young man emerging from the silver Prius with his relatives in my carport asked me how it felt to rent out my house. I can't come down entirely on one or the other side of that bed. We have a new sink in the powder room, one that isn't in a giant box to smoosh the powder room user into feeling the room is tiny and cramped. The little pedestal sink is perky and cute and the rolls of toilet paper and the basket of shoe shine stuff now live in the pantry. The wall behind the sink, where the box was and where the little rectangular tiles were I pasted to the wall with silicon caulk, is freshly textured but unpainted, the oak floor unfinished where the box was, though I am not entirely sure it is unfinished. Jim is certain it is unfinished, "I'll tell you that much," he said. But I scrubbed the floor and it sure seemed the same color as the finished floor. Defer, defer, that is my non-confrontational fall back position. As is reaction rather than action. What do you want? What do you want? Jim's brother took out the old box/sink and put in the new sink over the last day and a half, as we drove back from Chelan, then as I cleaned the house readying it for the renters. This is the part of renting I like: we make decisions for the house we haven't made for the house for us. We say, "renters would like ..." and we do it. This is better than saying, "the people we sell the house to would like ..." since we go back home and enjoy what the renters have or have not liked because of course that sentence really told us what we would like, and it turns out we like what we thought we would, veiling it as what others would prefer so we don't feel selfish or like we're doing something frivolous replacing a brownish ugly sink in an ugly box we've hated since we moved in nine years ago for glaring example.

Friday, August 22, 2008

American lady of perpetual worry, Sara
Bernhardt on this Euro sea. I lean to the bar
come so far for windswept awe hand hold crag
precipitous enough to whip away illness echo
I cringe from your stranger-face, creepy
crepey neck, yearn to be spun enraptured
forty days to change a habit we have fourteen
Cyclades, Persephone, no more am I Penelope
for whoever you are, you're home. Eruption
disrupted saffron gatherers, Akrotiri, sea
filled caldera below snowy summit wall
to take your breath away. I throw my mind
at history my hubby my razer my dog that loves
to fetch oh fetch me white wash blue door
more and more to read to burrow, sleepy
forgetful remembering everything. Nervous
Nellie, I remember everything.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Plucking blackberries from stick bushes
before sun flames the hill across the lake
browse is best, the feint to find behind
prickled leaf sweet burst bee fat and
luscious, trick to plunk more into bucket
than you though August means to wander,
paw and breathe like sated bear
among the busy buzz and whir.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'll get to the point soon enough, Tim,
so get your fingers off your Apple
Davy Crockett downed in Alamo
John Lennon offed in front of Ono
your eyes glazed like I'm a rerun
you naked but no marble David
all this as cunning as quicksand
not what we wanted when we arose
and though there's sun there's ursa,
dippers falling through star forests
you can't see through your stink eye
hair glint tribute to bleaching agents
I'm mean, you say, my tongue is acid
you one unsung hung sharpshooter
oh feet oh legs oh thighs of clay
finger flash across yon abacus
and all the world at bay. Say
what you must say, the gander
and the goose, and I will stare
my stare. We've passed our prime
and tit for tat for far too little time

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We dreamed of Paris as we drove over the dam --
Eastern Washington August gold, "Jean, Jean,"
over the radio, her prime long ago and over,
ours too. Shadows move the round hills furled
then moving forward as cottonwoods stir
above the Wenatchee River entering Cashmere.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sturdy red harvest bins line the roadway --
August and almost apple picking time --
these are filled with gnarled trunks, unbudded boughs --
behind them up their hill, lines of waist-high
grape vines fattening blood-purple clusters.
8/11/08 August Postcard Poetry Fest

I've signed up for another every-day poetry writing event. Offhand, in-the-moment, what-the-hay, let it fly, let 'er rip poems or poem-like utterances off into the mailbox to someone I've never met, one poem to one person each August day. Complicated for me by being out of town most of the month, far from mailboxes to send poem and a mailbox of my own to receive poems. I imagine a passel waits for me at the East Union Post Office in Seattle. A PASSEL!

I hope you are well and writing and manufacturing vitamin D on the skin of your bare arms, miracle that you are. We talked books my neighbors on the long long lake and I the other night. She reads throwaway tomes thick with historical reference - I don't feel guilty, she says, when I'm learning something. She pushes the books towards me and I pretend to forget them at evening's end. I like her, and I like that she and her family - husband and their grown son, have spent two weeks lying about reading books. I went home and plucked one of the beach reads someone left here off the shelf. I am a bad snob and I want to scold the author and publisher over the phone, red pencil the pages, but I also want to loll here and let my eyes breeze through to the end.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Along Bluett Pass Highway we see elk not beef
though buffalo gather beside the "meat for sale"
sign where the road ribbons Swauk Prairie, air
sweet with ripening wheat. Car tows boat hull
to Lake Chelan, Entiat or Roosevelt, hefty
hitch, lurch into our lane, frisson of fear. Aria
from the back seat, another disappearing era
in the American west though summer hordes
mob overlooks and fist fruit leather at stands
as though they never saw it at Safeway. Oven
outside our air conditioned bubble, we're bent
on home and not farm houses gone wineries,
apple stumps along their margins, imported
French oak barrels beside their drives. As gas
dwindles, we strategize, agonize over refills,
huddle close upon our fate like lounging buffalo.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

How far we've come when we can char
our ribs on Wolf stoves' stainless with ado
outdoors with cedar wood from Taos.
But here it is again, our rain, my love,
the rhodies saved and we will nip
no kiwi vine today. Forward up an urge
we'll climb a dryer day. Silicon in tubes
we rubes aplay while out the window ivy
climbs clefted bark the cedar sighs
I dream through catalogs as if to buy
a Morris chair, pillowed bed, Sundance
dainty on a thong, oh me I play my part,
hooked wool rugs and Grecian urns
sugar plums to dance and fill the pie charts
it's damp I'm dumb I've put away the aloe
don rubber gloves, downstairs I scrub off
mold, afix new tiles, at ten I'll break for tea.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sheffer Crossword 7/28, a Poem Draft

Scratch a mosquito bite, endure perpetual scab
like lion bears unhappy and pacing at the zoo
or mildew toughened and renewed through suds
for all you believe cannot come through by logo
what you swallow will return as Rorschach ink
vast and intertwined as aftermaths in Asia
and you redfaced your fisted pork chop
UHaul trailer stalled in Murfreesboro, gas cap
popped and gone however scoured the area
as we sit down and bow before our porridge
kingdom for a crescent wrench a dime a diva
pitch hum annunciation your wristwatch Zulus
believe in progress accomplish three times nil
flex will and flesh your solar plexus achy
pack portmanteau deplane in Lisbon, Portugal
itch for vinho verde lamprey sausage trout
follow what you yearn for earn your paunch
cry baby cry still leap dolphins after porpoise
so you slip you lift again and try another role
ancient churches crumbled to the apse
your lapses unrepented unexumed you fumed
so what, so why not curry what you need?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bulletin from Holiday Inn Express on Bishop Way:

Who know Pullman was home to the National Lentil Festival?

Monday, July 14, 2008

To lay tile against your wall, smear adhesive
as though you never learned to color between
lines - who cares it cakes your arms and
countertops. You're a worker not fricking fop.
Keep motions loose and gymnastic, you're
not a spastic though you feel that, lunged
at the odd angle necessary to lay corners and
straighten gaps. Get the hang of this cuz soon
it's time to buy the float and learn to grout.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Today's SeattleScape blog provides the details. Minimum bid $89,000. As if you don't already have enough problems with prostitution and drug use over to the Honey Buckets. I think you can use the stainless appliance cleaner on the exterior. (Restoration Hardware has it.)
Meanwhile, at Totem Lake, flickers flagrantly rat a tat
while here I hear a Boeing jet, my Boeing blood, my
father there forty years, blonde mantel clock memento,
Mrs. Boeing's house on the way to Tolt Hill, snapping on
the tonneau cover to his red Triumph TR 3 outside Plant
Two, last one to leave Seattle please turn out the lights,
Christmas Party at the Coliseum, materiel. Rare, he
told them in Texas, threaten that steak with a match.
Two foot baby alligator gift cover story, Boeing News.
My father's proud grin, half my age, so very long ago.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Her life fit into one suitcase cinched with a strap
every word, though from her parka pocket one verb
looked about to fall. Let's call her Paula. Her limp
was legendary, and the boys knew she had no idea
about her power, the devastating down of her ear,
hair about to tumble, jumbled amber locks and pins,
her sweet breath warm and gentle as camomile tea.
Now we're post millenial we can view much on screens
but she has gone, tra la, one more digested morsel.
You needn't live in Citges to wake up and taste paella.
Ah Mahalia, girl with gumption, gospel queen, like
you she travelled and believed as yes we do in magic.

Friday, July 04, 2008

If only we had taken the "can do" drive of NASA
and applied it to our planet. What if we had felt
desire for cello suites or educating parakeets?
What if we had yearned to return pepper scent
to carnations and would not let the no nose rose
be sold? If we weren't so adaptable, inured to all
they say we ought but do not love, who could we
have become? Give glory to the green thumb,
praise cooking scents from private residences,
bring bards to roads and farmers to the dells.
Dare to prattle about Yeats and memorize him.
Dawdle, pause, perambulate. Never multi-task.
Easier not to do than unknot what's been done.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

July 3 Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

White caps churn down lake. They don't tire
like I do fiddling with nothing at my desk
How would it feel to flash so momentarily
in the fading sun - remember Star Trek,
the episode where the crew pities the girl
whose species lives only ten years, like my
dog, who lived for twelve, my brother with
a life expectancy of eighteen who hurray
lived to twenty one. I cannot follow a single
white cap, each lifts and disappears. As
we do, my love, as we do.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

7/1/08 New York Times Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft
(It's Tuesday, I can do the Tuesday puzzle)

The harrow is fancier than the plow,
using spikes or spring teeth to turn
soil. Simple implements don't cease
their toil as we tilt crystal goblets to
paint rainbows across the decking.
Blisters are the province of the doer.
As greens twine forks, are we callous
or indifferent? Do we enjoy the dado
trim, arty swag lights, lavender hand
cream in the restroom? Unease
undoes satisfaction in our bellies.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft 6/30/08

Cogito ergo sum was not the first idea
that I thought I had because someone
else wrote it in a book. A polished peg
pounded into another hole in my real
piecemeal *honk* deal. Let me mewl
and you'll lose another hour. From ova
we get aardvarks and us. The alga
doesn't need to love another to divide.
Cleverly, the egg ejects a single peep
as you breakfast with your paramour.
From rock, shock and water we sprang
ta da, I digress, have you been burned?
Today we'll lose another hope to fog.
Good god, you think I'm paranoid --
How can you grip a girder in a daze?
We all fall down, our secrets outed --
weep and pull the china down for tea.
I read the book of life or did I skim?
Don't grind millet for your parakeet.
So many things to do that I do not
want to do not want to do. Id itself
parrots me for we are parallel
as endless lines or ground to meal.
If I had a hammer I'd challenge Thor
in a greasy downtown garage. Are
there any more non sequitors to
set upon this tray? While she sups
he sops up wine stains with a pad,
She says, think before you speak.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm organizing a bookshelf: "The Homeowner and Mold" -
Botany? Kitchen remodeling? The simplest task perplexes
me. "Cinderella, Cinderella," my mother used to say. Noah
only had two of everything. Plants were never mentioned.


Having sprained a tendon, he says, "Make me a cocktail!"
In the poem, I know how to do this, Mrs. Boston, into
muddling mint leaves and decanting spirits into a crystal
carafe. I bath olives in vermouth, pimentoes in the seed-
less caves, withoug smudging my magenta acrylic nails.


All About Eve vs. Three Faces of Eve


When I was a child I couldn't sit like a tailor,
knelt on my sleeping feet in Camp Fire Girls,
twirled my hair into knots, ripped off my nails
and slid the parings between my teeth. Years
later, one poked out through my upper gums.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sheffer Warmup 6/26

The editors tell you, send us your best
work, roundhouse punchy riffs. Bags
line their hallways, nearly audible baa
as gofers pass, out the door for aloe,
anything not to slit another envelope
sifted with dry powder, s'more ague,
another ardent poem who cannot act.
Well-heeled wannabes try Barcelona,
Roma, Prague. You watch bumblebees
in three hues suck lavender nectar.
Impetuous flitters, they ignore your
patient attention. One ducks in and out
from mauve foxglove, Bartholomew
Cubbins in miniature. Are you two?
You've booked passage on a freighter
but it's too late to discover yourself
exotic in a far port. Another girl with
glamorous ambitions who will not do
the work. The Kerala produce counter
stocks basil, carrots, bunched cilantro.
Its fragrance clings to fingers, lines
your pores. You want to be remade
but you don't know into what. Poems
bleat oddly from beside your chair.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sheffer Crossword 6 25 Practicing Scales, Staying Nimble

Sunset, dock, a woman about to clip
her nails reflects that money can buy
such pedicures in peach tinged spas
this peach from the dusk bloomed lake
pinking these tanned hands she used
long years ago for scales but now to
trim grape and Virginia Creeper vines,
this act she will soon consummate as
light holds her, softens her gently.
Next door they mouth Nefarious white,
think they've imagined her, forks
glancing off tough hazelnuts in salads,
second glass, slightly looped, early
season, no yellow jackets to shoo,
fruitstand watermelon, corn on the cob,
awash in spinach, beans and snap
peas, staked tomatoes only yellow
blooms. Juniper shadow looms and
blots her shadow. If she were stoic,
she'd think, so what, this fading, dry
witted, dry eyed, no whimpering plod.
She recalls when every new idea
discovered her, an exotic orchid
hard and shiny as painted toenails.