Seasons are Birds

Lined up along the road, around the pond
Black with golden heads, beady-eyed curious
Gregarious and brave, sun’s yearly bond
Brings them here in springtime’s furious rush.
Small brothers, shiny black and red, take flight
Together from the willows or sing their
Rusty-spring song from lonely fenceposts, write
Love songs in the sky, sonnets in the air.
Partnered up, squawking geese, chase their rivals
Down the road. There is no way around it;
All beauty hides a fight for survival.
Fox tracks in spring snow, a raptor’s silent lift.
Eggshells on the road, strewn feathers, remind
me to savor my own moment in time.

This sonnet is a VERY casually constructed Shakespearean sonnet. You can learn more about the form here.

Meditation on a Long Walk With Bear

Silence. No truck on the mile-away-road.
Me, Sandhill cranes above, my quiet dog
Some geese. Surprising new shoes lift time’s load
from my feet. Pure blue above autumn’s bog.
The noise in my head recedes when I hear
the timeless chortling of the sandhill cranes.
I watch them fly and wonder what they fear.
Shotgun, fox, coyote? Fields bare of grain?
I’ve seen them scatter when the eagle flies
Above them, hoping for a meal, to be
Disappointed when the cranes scatter high
Out of reach. Cranes fear enemies they see.
Humans? Destroy the world from pure caprice,
I doubt we can replenish wasted peace.

The World Is Too Much With Us


The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

My sonnet is a casually constructed Shakespearean sonnet. You can learn more about the form here. Wordsworth’s — which I woke up thinking about this morning — is a Petrarchan sonnet. You can read about that form here. Reading Wordsworth’s poem this morning I was struck by the changing conventions over the centuries — allusions to Proteus and Triton might not mean much to us and I realized I’m unlikely to personify anything in nature. No ocean I write will have a bosom, and I don’t think I’d ever describe clouds as flowers, but maybe. One amazing thing Wordsworth did with his poetry is change forever the way we see daffodils. My favorite might be this:

The Child is Father of the Man

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

“How Did the Reading Go, Martha?”

Thanks for asking! It went great and pretty much as I expected it would — all according to the pattern of life in this remote place as I’ve come to know it. Small audience because it was a POETRY reading and because Del Norte is a small town. When it was time to begin I had to get the attention of the people who were there to listen and I said, “Hi everyone, I’m Martha Kennedy and I’ve been asked to read some of my poems. I don’t know if that’s a threat or a promise!” It took a few minutes for people to take their seats, but soon we were set to go.

I pretty much stuck to my “script” — anyway it kept me on track. Years of teaching (which is performance) trained me to be alert to my “audience,” so the talk was a little chattier than the script. When you have a small group sitting on folding chairs looking eagerly — and a little doubtfully — at you, it’s a small club not an auditorium. I watched their faces and saw what made them smile or what touched them with each poem . Most of the poems have stories and, of course, each poem was bracketed in a story. My goal was for them to have a good time and to get the idea that good things happen at the museum.

Two great things happened. One was that they wanted another poem after I’d finished. Encore???? So I told them about my beans and read the bean poem.

This Year’s Beans from Last Year’s Seeds

Reaching for the sun from the first moment 
Pushed into soil, shrouded in darkness 
Each unique being stretches roots, foments 
Life, seminal, integral and artless.
The future. Water, dirt, light harness 
life; some seeds too small to see. Wind-born 
and plumed, or saved from summer’s long morn 
Each fulfills itself from the light it holds inside. 
Every green sprout brings last year’s loss transformed
from buried hope that in our hearts resides.

Then? Applause? Huh??

When it was over I sold my copy of Cats I’ve Known. “God Makes the First Cat” was everyone’s favorite poem, I think. No one asked about the title of my poetry book, which was a little disappointing.

Afterward someone said, “I liked the way you introduced your poems. Those stories were the best part.” Another person said, “I liked your poems. I’ve been to poetry readings where I didn’t understand anything. Maybe the poems meant something to the writer, but…” Which made me think of how English teachers kill poetry for their students. I know. I’ve been in both ends of English classes. It is REALLY a lot like Dead Poets Society.

Last night I couldn’t go to sleep. I felt like all the dead people I loved — mostly family but one friend — had gathered to tell me I did good. Denis Joseph Francis Callahan (RIP) — who loved poetry as much as I do — stuck his head into my memory and said, “You did good work in there.” It was so strange because reading those poems yesterday, to an obviously friendly audience, was no big deal by any standard, but I guess, somehow, somewhere inside me, it was a very big thing.

Ready to Read, Yeah, Really

Wow, that word — tenderfoot — is a, no, not actually a blast from the past, more like a hiss. It brings back dim memories of my mom as a Den Mother for my bro’s Cub Scout troop. He never went forward into Boy Scouts, never became a “Tenderfoot” or went through the ranks to soar as an eagle, but he was a Cub Scout. It just wasn’t his thing. I, on the other hand, devoured the Boy Scout Handbook. I thought it was great. Not so much the organization but all the cool stuff you’d learn — like how to tie all kinds of knots and survive in the back country. I still think the Boy Scout motto is a good one — Be Prepared — even though at this point in my life I know that’s impossible. A more reasonable motto might be “Pay Attention” or “Do the Best You Can” or the Scarlett O’Hara motto, “Tomorrow is Another Day.” Even Aldous Huxley’s wise words from Island “Here and now, boys, here and now.” Still, “Be Prepared”? It’s a good one.

And I am prepared. Boy am I. I have the books I’m reading from this afternoon all marked. My talk all revised and, and and I know what I’m going to wear — clean clothes. As for the poems I’ve chosen? I have no idea if they are the best choice, but I wanted to keep it light and entertaining. I also realized I write most of my poems about dogs and the Refuge. OH well. That’s my life…

Since some people wanted to read my talk, here it is… I’ve timed it at 17 minutes. We’ll see.

Poetry Reading, Rio Grande County Museum, June 24, 2022

Martha Kennedy

Thank you everyone for coming to the Rio Grande County Museum grand re-opening celebration! And thank you for being here to listen to me read some of my poems. 

It’s a little strange because even though I’m a writer — I’ve written five novels and a couple of memoirs — I have never seen myself as a poet. 

In fact, I think poetry is one of the most useless things on the planet. At the same time, it’s one of the most important. I have never been able to reconcile those two realities and even I — a retired English teacher — believe they are both true. 

As for me? My life would diminished without poetry, not the poetry I write particularly, but poetry others have written.

I wrote my first real poem when I was 12. I gave it to my dad to read. He thought it was so good that he gave me his portable typewriter. 

My dad was a mathematician who dreamed of being a poet. He knew his poetry was not great, but he kept at it all his life. When he read my poem, he formed a dream for his little girl. She would grow up to be a poet. 

This past February it hit me hard that my dad died 50 years ago. It seemed impossible so much time had passed, and, somehow, it felt like a fresh wound.

Meanwhile — though I didn’t know it — one of those “cosmic” things was brewing in Alamosa. 

Last fall, when the call came out for submissions to Messages from the Hidden Lake, the literary magazine published by the Friends of the Alamosa Public Library, I submitted three short poems, sonnets, all love poems.

In February, while I was thinking about my dad, I got an email telling me two of my sonnets had won prizes — a third prize and an honorable mention in Adult Poetry. I was surprised. Then I thought, “Hey Dad! Now I’m a poet!” I decided to compile my recent poems into a little book and dedicate it to my dad.

The third prize winner is a love poem to a pair of hiking boots and the places we went together. I wore those boots for more than 15 years, hiking in all kinds of places. I had them resoled four times before they finally blew out.

Dusty Boots —

Dusty boots have been my best friends
Taking me where I’ve been and where I’ve dreamed
Across destiny’s bitter hills again and again
Ancient lakes, morning’s snowbound trails, frozen streams.
Far, shining Alpine peaks, out of my reach
Layers of clay, bright-colored, time-kissed
The tracks of dinosaurs on a rock-hard beach
Juniper bushes, scorpions and mist
Through time, disaster or inspiration
Tree-held or wasted, sage scrub and forest
Sand and shore, wild lilac, golden aspen
Sorrow or hope, the yearning heart rests. 
Where my eyes point, squint, captured by color
Summits or dreams, one foot, then the other.

The poem that won honorable mention is a little different. It’s about how weird life is, how we really never know what’s going on or what something will mean down the road. Sometimes what seems most meaningful in the moment ends right then and there, and other things that don’t seem like such a big deal turn out to be very important — in my case, running on trails with my dogs. The poem was inspired by a meme I saw on Facebook.  “No Seed Ever Sees the Flower.” 

No Seed Ever Sees the Flower

It was all a big blur back then but I
Moved as if I knew what I was doing.
Maybe I thought I did. I had no clue,
Of mysteries the future was brewing.
Every step led somewhere I could not know.
Running blind on sage brushed chaparral hills,
California sun. It was enough to go.
With no idea where. The random thrills,
Falling in love, a moment or a year
A new job, a new friend, a journey. “This
is the ONE!” but it wasn’t. Shed some tears
and keep running. The hard hills listened.
Now I know there is no plot. No sacred shrine
With answers. The trail itself is life’s line.

I’m a dog lover and over the course of my life I’ve had more than two dozen dogs, usually more than one dog at a time, sometimes four or six dogs. Dogs are great hiking pals .They always want to GO. No discussion. No debate about what trail to take. No, “Well, I don’t know. I was going to clean the fridge.” With a dog. It’s all, “YES! NOW??? Yay!!!”

For a while in the 2000s I was lucky to live with a small pack of Siberian Huskies. All of them were rescues. I lived in the Southern California mountains — where it snows — on 1/4 acre, fenced. It was husky heaven. My huskies were Jasmine, Lily and Cheyenne. At some point I took in a very troubled mixed breed, a lab/dobie mix, a barky, black puppy I named Dusty T. Dog. My huskies adopted him immediately and taught him everything they could about being a Siberian Husky. But Dusty wasn’t a Siberian husky, but he tried. 

Lily T. Wolf and Dusty both came to live with me here in the SLV when I returned to Colorado after I retired. Lily lived to be 17 and enjoyed one real Colorado snowstorm. 

This is Dusty’s poem in memory of his husky sisters. As you might expect, isn’t a sonnet. Naturally, it is doggerel…

Howling Dogs by Dusty T. Dog in 2016

Coyotes howl at the too bright moon
My sisters and I awake in the living room
Lily is first, she howls and yips back,
The next thing I know she’s waked the whole pack.
Cheyenny howls and Jasmine howls too
“Try Dusty,” they say, “Howl at the moon!”
I look at my sisters, lovely and brave,
Singing in moonlight like wolves in a cave,
I throw back my head, but I can just bark
Like some Pomeranian at the dog park.
“It’s all-right little Dusty. Just give it some time,”
Says Jasmine touching her nose to mine.
The years have gone by and now I can howl
When the sirens blare, cops on the prowl.
My human howls, too, in sweet memory
Of Jasmine, Cheyenne and precious Lily.

I still have dogs — two. One is a big, white livestock guardian dog, an Akbash dog, named Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog. The other is a mini-Aussie named Teddy Bear T. Dog. I adopted them both from the Conour Shelter in Monte Vista. They’re best friends to each other and to me. 

When Covid hit, we started taking our long rambles out at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge because with more people home all the time, our usual places became too occupied. My dogs are always leashed; it’s the rule, and its respectful to the animals who belong at the Refuge. Not that we don’t belong there, but our territory is the gravel road. 

From our territory we’ve watched elk, mule deer, coyotes, bald eagles, golden eagles, Harris Hawks, Northern Harriers, red tails, night hawks and great horned owls. All the waterfowl. We’ve listened to the songs of all kinds of birds, and watched a Tiger Salamander as he slowly crossed the road. In winter, while Bear’s nose tells her the whole story, I try to read the animal writing in the snow. Once, in a snowstorm, a black fox crossed our trail. It was magical.

Both my dogs love it, but walking alone with Bear out there on a snowy day is one of the sweetest things in my life. We hate summer. That inspired this poem.

Yearning on a 90 Degree Day

Minus five. The sky is silver with snow. 
Airborne crystalline promises shimmer,
In the morning light. Minute spectra glimmer.
I leash my big white dog, and off we go.
Hoar frost from the bare trees’ smallest branches
shaken free, drifts slowly on my dog and me,
as we walk beneath the cottonwood trees.
With each step of my high boots, fresh snow crunches.
The parallel tracks of Nordic skis shadow 
Our path through this season that ends too soon, 
Blue shadows, the angled light of winter noon.
The distant Sangres gleam white with snow.
I stop, rest my hand on my dog’s warm back, she 
leans against my leg, we savor our frozen paradise.

For Bear and me, winter is never long enough, but sooner or later, spring arrives and it’s not totally awful. There’s plenty about it to love.

First Meadowlark

March north winds blow gusts hard against my cheek
Lift my jacket’s hood, unasked but warming.
Snow squalls brush the mountain’s face, the sun breaks
Through, lights a pond where geese huddle forming
A tight community against the wind.
High above wind’s rush the soaring Sandhill cranes
Circle. My dog and I stop to watch, to listen.
Among the clouds, a golden eagle reigns
He set the cranes in motion, here then gone.
The cranes circle slowly, land, and resume
Their morning. My guide, sniffing, nose down 
finds a scent,  reminds me it’s her walk, too.
From a distance comes a meadowlark’s sweet
song. In that brief moment, two seasons meet.

As you have heard by now, all my love poems are to the San Luis Valley. 

Well, having said so much good stuff about dogs, I’d like to finish by giving cats equal time. They are pretty great animals, but lousy hiking companions. That said, a cat I had as a kid used to follow me into the forest across from our house. He would walk along beside me — 20 feet away. Cats are cats. I recently — here at this museum — met a guy who actually DOES hike with his cat.

Many years ago, in honor of all my cats, and as a gift for my niece who was a little girl then and who knew them all, I put together a little kids book of cat poems called, Cats I’ve Known. If Dusty’s poem is Doggerel, I guess this is catteral.

God Makes the First Cat

God made the world in just one week,
And every creature he made unique
He made the rabbit, horse and frog,
He made the loyal loving dog.

He made the fish, he made the spider,
A hippo to make the rivers wider.
He worked on butterflies and hens,
Then he sat down to think again.

“In all of my menagerie
There’s something missing. Let me see.
A world needs horses to pull plows,
A world needs chickens, dogs and cows.”

“But when the daily work is done,
A world must find some time for fun.
Some time to frolic and to play
Some time to sit in the sun all day.”

“Time to relax when work allows
I must make something to show them how!
Someone fluffy, someone funny,
But more intelligent than a bunny.”

God decided to make up cats,
To give them work, he made some rats.
When he was done, he picked one out
And started to throw the cat about!

The cat was cute, the cat was fluffy
But he didn’t like to be treated roughly.
The cat scratched God on the back of the hand,
And God said, “If you scratch a man,

“Like you scratched me,
You won’t be forgiven so easily.”
God watched the cat for signs of remorse,
But the cat felt no remorse, of course.

The cat just cleaned his ears and hair
And ignored God as if He weren’t there.
“This will not do,” said God to the cat.
“You won’t succeed if you act like that!”

“You must learn to apologize
Or you won’t be fed and that won’t be nice!”
“Now, please, a penitent meow
and you can have a bowl of cat chow.”

The cat stood up and stretched one leg,
He absolutely refused to beg.
Well, God respects integrity,
In small animals you and me.

“You’re right,” sighed God, “I was too rough,
Don’t you think we’ve argued enough?”
God reached down and stroked the cat,
Behind his ears, and down his back.

He was rubbing his hand on the cat’s soft fur
When the cat began to purr.
“What a soft and soothing sound,”
Said tired old God as he sat down.

The cat curled up in God’s lap and stayed
And so God rested that seventh day.

Thank you so much for enduring so much poetry. And thank you Rio Grande County Museum for allowing me to read. Just so you know, this collection of poetry and all my other books AND Messages from the Hidden Lake are available on Amazon. 

Next, you’re going to see 150 years of Del Norte History come to life — actually, you’re not but the people at the Museum will if they want to.

In Hot Water

Yesterday was full of events — most annoying? Water heater went out and wouldn’t light. I called my favorite plumber — and got the owner. “Two weeks, that’s how things are going around here now.”

“Well, maybe if you have a guy up here in Monte Vista he could just stop by?”

“I’ll put you on the list. Have we done work for you before?

“Yes! You guys do the best work. You’ve done stuff for me a few times and it’s always been great.”

“That’s wonderful to hear. I’m afraid that doesn’t change the list, but if someone’s out there, I’ll tell them to stop by.”

“Thank you so much.”

Four hours later he appeared himself and fixed the problem — which was dust and who’s surprised? 8 years of dust, 30 inches away from the dryer vent, seriously? He had the same vocal inflections as my grandmother which was wonderful to hear. Turned out his people came from Missouri a couple generations ago. They are farmers; he has animals — lots of them, so I heard a lot of stories about them — and of course we talked dogs and mountains. It was a great conversation, and it reminded me why I was so happy to get back here when I retired. “I hunt, but you know, it’s just an excuse to get back there.” He nodded toward the San Juans. He and his brother hunt on horseback. “Lot’s of people don’t like hunting, but we live on what we kill.” I’m not one of those people who object to hunting. I can’t. I’d rather eat elk or venison than beef any day. I’d be a hypocrite to object, as much as I love to watch those animals and feel blessed when I see them. I’ve even wondered if that love isn’t a deeply engrained human thing from millennia of hunting for survival. It’s like a lot of things in life. There’s no pure black and white. Deer and elk overpopulation means nature steps in with disease to cull the herds.

I learned that my water heater has a dust filter. He pulled it out then went out to his truck to get his air compressor. The filter is a narrow band, just a flexible plastic net. He blew out the dust — covering both of us — and said, “You ddin’t have to stay here for this.”

“I felt guilty just leaving you here alone for that.”

“Well, at least now you can take a hot shower.” I enjoy that kind of humor. The tones of home are always welcome, I guess.

This is going to be an expensive month. So, I have a couple of gigs lined up, one is an article the other is a fence.

I’m heading to the museum later to talk about the poetry reading coming up a week from Friday. After all the adventures yesterday I sat down and wrote out a talk. I’ve been to a few poetry readings, but, strangely, I can’t clearly remember any but Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti back at D. G. Wills Bookstore in La Jolla in another lifetime. I’m sure as hell not either of those guys. The other readings all fade into an image of a second story room in a half-empty downtown Boulder, Colorado, walk-up, the first poetry reading I ever attended. Folding chairs — maybe 30 — were arranged in optimistic rows. A lectern sat in front. A few students from the University of Colorado were going to read. I knew one of them? I don’t remember. From the ceiling hung two bare lightbulbs. The room was a dingy yellowish beige and the four windows that faced the street had pull-down shades. The poets fumbled embarrassedly through their poems, reading with serious, earnest voices, and then sitting down.

I don’t think it was like that for Homer when he recited the Odyssey. If anyone would like to read my talk, I’ll post it later. Let me know. I practiced last night and learned one thing which was not to choose poems with too many sssssssibilantsssss.

After all that, the dogs and I headed out to the refuge. For summer it was perfect. NO PEOPLE. Enough wind to keep the bugs off, perfect early evening light.

“I can’t believe you brought us, Martha!”
“Me either guys, but YAY!!!!”

The featured photo is me and a friend sitting outside D. G. Wills Bookstore in La Jolla in 1994. Allen Ginsberg is inside reading and so many people had shown up that they had to set up outside for the overflow. There was a loudspeaker. Extra points for anyone who can find me in the crowd. That would be quite an achievement!

The Power of Words

Back in high school, I heard the word, “concrete” applied to poetic images. My friends and I thought it was funny. One joke was that concrete poetry was harder than other poetry which seemed true at the time. Our teachers (Miss Cohen, Mrs. Zinn) led us through the forest of sophisticated, grown-up people’s poetry, often poetry from the movement known as “Imagism” which is defined as (yep) “An early 20th-century poetic movement that relied on the resonance of concrete images drawn in precise, colloquial language rather than traditional poetic diction and meter.”

An example of this is William Carlos Williams’ poem about the Red Wheel Barrow which, so far, I am unable NOT to think of whenever I see a wheelbarrow which is daily as there’s one in my backyard. Not much depends on it at the moment as it’s upside-down in the dirt, but who knows? It isn’t even red.

Here’s the poem in case you want to be plagued with it for the rest of YOUR life:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Strangely, all that discussion about concrete language was good for me as a writer and as a thinker (who knew?).

People say a lot of stuff all the time and other people believe it, even more, I think, in our media driven world, electronically connected world. Whole subjective realities are defined by how we “get our news.” “Our” news, not “the” news. We all know this. Some of the most abstract words have the most power, words like “rights” and “freedom.” People will kill each other over those words without even knowing what they actually mean, what their meanings imply. There are a lot of abstract words in our world right now that sound “concrete” but are essentially meaningless.

One example, every day I check in on Marjorie Taylor Greene to see how she’s doing down there in Georgia. She and her fan base are a laboratory for this. Here’s an example of her rhetoric this morning:

“This is the whole reason why I endorsed JD (Vance) early on, because I know he’s a business guy, he’s a family guy. He cares about traditional values that Americans want desperately Congress to care about,” Greene said.

I don’t know what any of those bolded terms actually MEANS, and I’m an American who’s supposed to be wanting them, not just wanting them, but DESPERATELY wanting them.

As long as politicians rely on abstract language that evokes knee jerk reactions from Americans who believe the politician has actually SAID something, we’re fucked. Concrete language may or may not be effective in poetry (I think it is but I’ve been brainwashed) but it would sure help us now. We have idioms that demand that: “Put yer money where yer mouth is.” “Talk is cheap.” “Actions speak louder than words.”

This current guy has made good on many of his words.

Irish Grandfather

When I was a baby, my paternal grandfather looked at me and said, “She’s been here before. A changeling child.” That’s what you get with an Irish grandfather, I guess. I never knew the man. He died when I was five. But my memories of him are all a little odd. At one point, after my family had flown from Denver to Billings on a DC 3 (my dad and I air-sick the whole way) my grandfather took my little brother (aged 3?) and me (age 5?) to Hart Albins (department store) to buy clothes. Story tells it that I led my grandparents RIGHT to the white, frothy dress I wanted, and I’d never been there before. The changeling thing came out again. “How did she know where it was?”

My life is full of strange things like that, including living here and not somewhere else. Of writing the story of my family before I even knew they were my family. Twillight Zone stuff all over the place, inexplicable except by my Irish grandfather whom I never knew. Still, I walk around with his sticking-out ears, his droopy left eye and the small divot in the chin.

A changeling is not a good thing. They’re not fully human — being fairy folk — and are always dangerous to humans. The often appear when a fairy steals a human child and replaces it with a fairy — a changeling. OH well…

The Stolen Child

W. B. Yeats – 1865-1939

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

A chapbook?

I expect this to be live April 7. I’ll post the link when it is!

I decided to collect my little poems into a chapbook. I didn’t even know for sure what a chapbook was even though, back in the day, all the poetry MFA “kids” in my graduate program in English at the University of Denver went on about them at potluck dinners saying things like, “Yes, I hope to have a chapbook ready by the end of the quarter.” It all sounded very precious, so I ignored them reverse-snob that I am. Basically it’s just a small book that holds one chapter of a longer work or enough poems to fill 40 pages. I guess it was the way they said it… Oh well…

I put the poems together for my dad who died 50 years ago and wanted me to be a poet when I grew up. So… I guess this means I’ve grown up. 😄 Most of the poems are about nature and dogs (who knew?) The title is also explained in the book.

It will be for sale on Amazon April 6 or 7 for $5.25. I will make a whole dollar in royalties. Silver dollars would be cool, but I don’t think it’ll work that way.

It was a fun project to design. It has a couple of photos but that wasn’t my first idea, just as I worked today to finish it up I thought, “Hmmm this needs a picture and so does this,” so there are two photos.

Real Love Story in an Old Journal

I know how love is supposed to have been,
But my love didn’t turn out that way.
I have a stack of letters, tied with green
And every letter came from Italy.
A fall afternoon on a chaparral
hill became a lifetime’s love story.
Moon rise, while twilight held the day in thrall.
The lovers’ hearts remained a mystery
in that eternal moment. Letters filled 
These six thousand miles and thirty years.
Journeys, losses, loves; time does not stand still. 
Their two hearts hid predicaments and fears,
Written here, in my handwriting. Turning
pages, I read bewilderment — and yearning. 

I’m sorry. I got so wrapped up in this I forgot to use the word of the day, clink. Too bad, too, it’s pretty easy word to rhyme.

This is another Shakespearean sonnet (sort of) but it’s actually (OMG!) about love. I’ve been cleaning out and shredding journals and journal pages, but I found one yesterday I will not touch. For the most part, my journals are full of really dumb stuff. They aren’t “my past,” so much as me attempting to contend with some trivial problem in a former present. They are really mind-boggling examples of stream of tedium. As for my past, I’m its product, the fruit of it. I have kept things that I really do not want to part with — but it’s amazing after going through 7 of the 27 volumes of The Examined Life, the pile is pretty small. The question I ask as I work is, “How often have I needed to see this?” And most of the time the answer is, “I never need to see this.” ❤