Sunday, April 23, 2017

Perked Up

My  now four year old grand daughter Kaleia told me one late night avoiding bedtime,  that she was perked up, she illustrated with thumbs up.  She wasn't perked down, her two thumbs pointed the reverse. This has been my months long effort.  My friend Sharon taught me one can control one's attitude.  I am trying.

Today is sunny, not yet windy, the dishwasher humming, the birds fed, the hummingbirds on schedule.  We have 20 baby chicks and two baby turkeys in the greenhouse. Yesterday we went to Earth Day at Northern New Mexico and as we sat through talks on solar building, we nodded to one another.  We had done almost everything right.  Of course, there's room to improve but this lecture sure helped me perk
  My friend Julie Bennett took this Singing in the Rain photo after writing class at Pueblo of Pojoaque Library.  It's right by the Wellness Center where I swim and which locals call "The Wellness."  I am perked up after I swim.  My inspiration and role models are Osh who told me he's 85 and sometimes swims a mile.  He does a leisurely back stroke, all the time in the world. He dresses well and is cheerful.  He is living a perked up life.   I like also Helente who is in that age range.  Sometimes she arrives with her lanky Australian friend in his Speedo.  I want one of those guys to help me perk up when I am in my Eighties. I notice all the folks older than I am who are perked up.

I always felt perked up after a visit to Barbara and Alvaro.  Life was worth living and the Truchas immoveable feast they provided uplifted and inspired many. I bet many feel that he was a very close friend, as he had the gift of attention and heart.  Today I go to Alvaro's memorial   It has been hard to grieve enough for how I deeply feel at this loss. He died in August at 89.  Our last talks were that he wanted to do a ZEN service and make a Japanese garden at the grave of Jade Bird, our beloved birth and death grand daughter.  He's the one who told me, "Short is short, long is long, each life is complete."  I recalled those words in the Children's Hospital during the most baffling and dire of times. I think we wrote it over her crib. There were moments of perking up even then and this Alvaro teaching which he passed on from his own Zen teacher did help.

He twice insisted he would do a Zen Ceremony and the kids said, "Say yes , Moma.  How can you say no to that offer?"  Even though I knew he was in no way up to his generous nature and impulses, I said yes. He wrote to apologize he would be unable, as his own son died.

When Alvarao died, a few months after this generous offer, my grief hollows had been stretched so big by loss, his death fit inside the emptiness.  I was spared the dreaded response I knew I would have. I could handle it.  I dread losing Robert Bly, Gerald Stern, Gioia Timpanelli, these dear stars and my own personal best friends, too, I will lose.   Alvaro was a true Zen teacher, living so presently and elegantly, and knowing death was always right there, in those Truchas views, in the books that he wrote, in the music that would sound and then disappear, in the paintings he made.  He was living between the eternal and the ephemeral.  He was one of the best men, to me, I ever knew.   He's alive as long as I am, according to my rabbi. His own work will live on, of that I am convinced.  He was so focused to finish his translations of Diego Rivers's interviews by his brother.  He completed that important project which now has found a publisher.

Today I am perked up to drive to Truchas and remember Alvaro.

"The beekeeper kissed me,
the kiss it tasted like honey."

 "Besome el colmenero
que la miel me supo el beso."



translated form Spring Has Come: 
Spanish Lyrical Poetry from the Songbooks of the Renaissance

Monday, March 27, 2017

Unveiling


 My daughter Hope sent out a photo of a rainbow over our house.  This is not an uncommon sight, as we live where the rain meets the sunlight, but this photo by our dear Carol Neukirk came at a time, out of summer season, but still in grief season.   It is the first Yahrzeit of our baby Jade Bird's life and death on April 1-5.
I posted this on Facebook, always with my doubts about bumming people out in this already fraught world.  But when I heard back from 83 people,with many amazing comments, my second guessing calmed down.  You should see how quiet I have been, in blog, real time, and poetry world.

My old friend Ellen Schmidt spoke about playing on all the 88 keys, we don't just tinkle along merrily in the right hand of it, but submerge in the left handed bass, all the octaves of emotion. I think of the most famous koan of one hand clapping.  I think of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing  Maybe if we embrace the darkness and light, we don't get into the politics of denial and separation, we'd have a better chance.

I also recommend to myself to be kind and open hearted to I and Thou, to not second guess so much and just move.  I have all along been saying I am not writing, and doing nothing.  I open my computer, sigh, close it.  But little by little and since only October when my childhood friend Darry and his wife Tricia, the poet of the Urban Wild,  set up my new computer, I have been entering scraps of writing about Jade, and my own reaction to her absolute purity and infinite loss.  When I printed them up, with no thought of good or bad, there were pages and pages.  The miracle of my own perception of nothing being indeed something.   Was Jade nothing, or a being of intense beauty and a gift beyond our understanding.

In one of the writings I call her a female savior.  My husband says she came to break open out hearts and reiterates all the blessings she brought. He has not been the same, and in a good way I think.  Sita Jameson, singer of kirtan and sacred chant said that Jade did more in her brief life than many people ever do,  At nine months, Hope and Leland came back here to New Mexico, their fourth visit from their Pittsburgh home to their heart home.  Their friend  would lead a ceremony.  People in their community of friends had planted corn in the spring in honor of Jade, a special white corn used in Mayan ceremonies of birth and death.   To even see the corn they harvested was a miracle.  Noble, large white ears of corn, scraggly little cooked ones four inches long.  Hope, my daughter and mother of two daughters now, one on earth and one in the spirit world, said the sight of the corn is something she never expected.   It was a great beauty.

Our right hands did know what the left hands were doing. It was many hands for two days, shucking, roasting, grinding, preparing.  This little spirit was so honored in her brevity, so present and so alive in us.  At one time I stood full of gratitude for her and knew I would not be the same without her coming and going.  Still I sobbed deeply when her story was told.  The left and right hand together make corn grow and fire catch and prayer fly.  I have felt almost mute, but today was moved to write, thanks to the Facebook "Likes" and responses of friends on this crazy internet world in this crazy life and time of it.  Men and women too, both hands. Yes and No, the duality and just us sitting around today with plum tree in bloom, and the flowers we planted a year ago for Jade's burial, blooming again.

Traditionally everyone would fly in for an unveiling, within the year after a death, to see the head stone and say Kaddish.  The cousins, the aunts, they all traditonally gathered to weep a little more and then eat.

 We have a beautiful headstone, which I will keep private for now, and the poems I wrote will be my unveiling for my daughter and family.  There was a time last summer when I  was so weepy I thought should wear a veil.  I read in a grief book that once, for six months to a year  women did wear veils to show they were in mourning. I felt as if I had a virtual veil. I too wanted a warning sign that it was not business as usual. I wanted people to stop asking, "Are you writing?" Then, weeks later, floaters descended over my left eye, and days later, my right. I had an interior or somatic veil and could not see well for 6-7 weeks.  I am grateful that gradually, during my own trip to Pittsburgh, my eyes cleared.  So now I see, gratefully, in stereo.  I write to all of you,  unveiled.



A tile of a jade bird Hope found in Mike's workshop,
another of the minor miracles which reassure us.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Chance to Activate: The No Build Option

Though I want to curl up by the fire and binge watch for four years, activism has grabbed me by the apron strings and said, "Words have Power, Write for your health." By Jan 5th the BLM wants to hear from us.  Hunt Power proposes a 33 mile  345kV transmission line through the exquisite Rio Grande Valley. Towers will be up to 120' high, don't get me started! for more info www.stopverdeprojectnm.org

My letter below has my talking points highlighted. Please jot by e-mail, by hand, or post office a little letter.   Volume matters (NUMBER OF LETTERS, NOT LENGTH) and we all have experience or knowledge of the road to Los Alamos, or Black Mesa, or dances at the pueblos.  Please read my letter and send yours to:

BLM_NM_Verde@blm.gov  or

BLM, Verde Transmission Line Project, P.O.Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115

When it’s all gone to money, what do we have?

 Our first garden was in 1973, under the proposed “Verde” Transmission line and with the first shovel of earth we uncovered an arrow head, pot shards, and an ax head.  I mention this to point out the fragile and special circumstances of this land in sacred and archaeological riches.  Northern New Mexico is a rare treasure and should be treated respectfully.  I am a writer, and the land and its people have been a main source of inspiration.  My ten books all are concerned with the extraordinary gift that is New Mexico. When I taught at UNM in Los Alamos each drive brought renewed appreciation of the view sheds.  Views will be the first and most obvious loss, and I implore the BLM to stay in compliance and not make exception for preserving these invaluable visual resources. 
       My family has lived in New Mexico since then and we have three native New Mexican children and four grandchildren. 
The “Verde” project, with its doublespeak and insulting name, is an affront and can only bring harm to the land and people it impacts.
   This place of cultural pride, the Hispanic and native people, is worth of exceptional protection. If there were a category of National Treasure this should be it, a living museum, holy place, sanctuary, and wild beauty. As it is please ensure compliance with National Historic Preservation Act.
    In the very well run scoping meeting we heard about the statistics of  health  dangers (a caution that I have been aware of for decades), the wetlands with its birds, the possible impact on bees, Film industry economics, tourism, and the devaluing of real estate.  My son and his wife’s family have property right in the epicenter of this project, and they, as many others, have a modest nest egg in this land. Nothing when compared to Hunt, but a livelihood for them. please do not let one corporation degrade the economics of many.
    The Pojoaque Valley with its schools, churches, traditional communities of Santa Fe County, and pueblos is like not place I’ve ever seen.   Los Alamos National Lab employees, school bus drivers, teachers, doctors, and workers from a multi-ethnic and socioeconomic pool, live as neighbors.   Already this project is dividing people.
     I am sure it is difficult for the pueblos to pass up the opportunity to improve their pueblos by a cash infusion for schools, health, and housing, but in the long long run is this what the majority of their people want? I can’t help but think of the Water Protectors in North Dakota and wonder if this might spark similar response as the word gets out nationally.
    This electric line has already cost me nights of sleep and anxiety.  It impacts all of our quality of life while for Hunt it is cool speculation, they could not even prove that it is needed besides a business opportunity.

The earth remembers us.  How do you want to be remembered?

BLM, please put me on record as voting NO to Verde and Hunt for these reasons.

Joan Logghe

Santa Fe Poet Laureate Emerita

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A loss is a loss is a loss

It's been so long. Haven't had the combo of calm and emotion that I like to launch each blog entry, but today I am allowing myself pajamas at  noon.  Silk and dotted with maroon hearts of all sizes.  I think they are silk, discover in a clothing exchange by my eldest daughter. In case you don't know, my youngest daughter lost her second child, Jade Bird Guthrie at 4 days.

I want to be like Maira Kalman, focused delightfully on the ordinary even after she lost her husband and partner Tibor.  If you don't know her, you probably do and don't know.  She did many New Yorker covers, including the famous "Newyorkistpan" one after 911, remember Kvetchnya, Pashmina, and Botoxia?  She has the gift of humor after loss, and a humorous approach to life.
She also illustrated Obama's inauguration for the New York Times.  I first found her in Bill Gersh's house, the children's book Max Makes a Million, about the poet dog whose dream is Paris. And guess what? He sells his book of poems for a million and gets to live that dream. Wonder why I love her?

I recommend her, just Google, she's a vitamin for me, loving the odd and the daily, a man's suit, a paper punch, and hats and hairdos everywhere.  Which brings me to Beti again., the hair stylist.  My mom on her yahrzeit or anniversary of death.  Same date as Robert Winson's so I light two candles.  My mom has been gone 15 years which is difficult to grasp.  This year I was glad she was not here to endure the loss of our grandchild, Jade Bird.  She missed all of my lovely and living grandkids, but we enjoy them for her.  Galen's blond tuft of hair we attributed to her expertise in coloring.

I know it's been six month's since we lost Jade Bird and why I haven't written in this blog.  I wanted to experience the processing of grief.  This week the lovely Mary Beth came by with a card for Jade. Late, she said. But it was perfect, an acknowledgement that this is real and human and endures.

As I was deciding to write this two occurrences occurred...  My g-mail opened up to the week of Jade's death and the  e-mails pouring in and out around it. My heart has been a bit dumbed down due to anti-depressants, one I can't pronounce.  Then just now a bird hit the window about four feet away from me.  I think it is reminding me to write.  Hope, my bereaved daughter, has been writing sporadically and said it needs a warning label.  She goes for it.  I realized that so much of how I am now is better, and I don't feel compelled to tell every stranger on the street, or man emptying trash at the post office, or bank teller what happened to Jade.  But though the outer M & M coating is less crisp and now deeper, maybe a fig Newton, there is still a core of loss.

So, 45 current blog followers (up from the nine I brag about), if it's too much you can unblog me.
My gift to you is Maira Kalman.  Your gift to me is reading this.  I met Tess Gallagher after Raymond Carver died and she was still visiting the grave daily, and having people impatient with her.  Get over it could be the national mantra. She said there is an ecology of grief, a term which stayed with me over 20 years.  She and Donald Hall, and Phyllis Hotch,  and Miriam Sagan and Paul Monette and Isabel Allende and Joan Didion and Mirabai Starr all wrote bravely into the grief.  A baby that didn't make it, but made it for four days is not a teenager or losing a lover.  But a loss is a loss is a loss, and grief will have its wild way with us.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to measure tears

I don't know if tears can be measured, if anyone has bothered to collect them and see if they have cried a thimble, a tablespoon, a half pint or liter, a bucket.  We tend to want to exaggerate and say we have wept an ocean.  I think I weep about a medicine dropper a day.  I think this is pretty accurate.

I feel like the world should know, but I have not posted since my worried optimism of March. I am sad beyond sad to report that my daughter's beautiful baby, Jade Bird Guthrie, 7 Lb. 12 Oz. was born only to never cry, or take a breath. She was able to be on life support and many of us got to feel her presence, hold her, and then let her go four days later at the Children's Hospital in my hometown of Pittsburgh.  My daughter and her husband feel that they were visited by a little hummingbird who touched down and could not be held. It was the first death at the Midwife Center in 35 years.

When meeting her small body, all pulse and graph and hookups, I thought of Alvaro Cardona-Hine quoting his Zen teacher,  "Long is long, short is short, Every life complete." He's 89,  and Jade was four days here.  I am on bird wave-length these days.

It was a fluke, a blessing and a curse, a loss and an innocence, and so I measure my days in medicine droppers.  We are blessed that she came and went peacefully.  That we were all treated so respectfully and loved so much. That she did not live a life compromised and suffering, I am truly grateful for this.  But each day is rough, taking homeopathy, Bach Flower remedies, herbs for grief. My kids planned their own wake, cremation, flight home to New Mexico, and burial of ashes, or a Good Bye Ceremony as one friend named it.  Jade's ashes are here, with a Golden Rain tree planted by them, a hummingbird feeder I fill every day or so. I watch the birds come and go, Scarlet Tanagers, finches, and hummers.

I learned to tend cut flowers, do laundry non-sop for the bereaved, that I was able to rise up and hit walls and crash, only to rise up again. Each person, both our family and Leland's, gave from their very core and genius.  One might be playful with our 3 year old "big sister." One might order egg-rolls or buy plane tickets.  The giving was non-stop, round the clock blessings. People got in cars and drove all day.  People wept all night and stayed by her in the NICU.

Yesterday we attended a mass for Valentine, an 8 year old son and grandson of family friends.  He was a little hoop dancer from Pojoaque Pueblo, injured in a car accident a year ago, and finally was ready to be released, no more surgeries after 14 of them.  I saw him dance once and never forgot the vitality and charisma.  We grandparents exchanged hugs and sorrow, we had been neighbors at the bus stop so many days and years ago. So here I am, wordless for all these weeks.  My kids, Hope Logghe and Leland Guthrie, speak so eloquently on their Facebook accounts, you can go on and scroll down to see what they have to say, how they frame this great loss.  Or my page, down about four entries, their language.

This is what I can say, finally after sadly seeing the last blog posting and letting it silence me.  Hope posted her own pregnant beauty on her birthday, and her strength helps me be able to face up and find my own.  Thanks for sharing this moment with me, and the tides of sorrows we all have felt, may they wash us a little bit cleaner, more core and source. Every person I meet meets my pain with their own story.  I agree with poet Jack Gilbert, that this is paradise, right here in each other's eyes.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shrine on a String

  We put Corina on a plane this morning to fly out as support for her sister as we wait for little girl #2. She was supposed to fly last week, but a flu and 102 degree temperature caused a delay.  We thank Southwest airlines for understanding.  Mike and I feel related to Southwest as both the airline and our marriage occurred in 1971.  We are both celebrating our 45th.

  I don't know why I am not in Pittsburgh now, I really don't.  I think to keep my worry energy contained and 2,000 miles away. Hope has always read me and I'm contagious.  Last week Hope and Leland had a baby blessing, inviting their Pittsburgh friends to their Pittsburgh house to each bring a bead. My niece, Lisa Slesinger, and my childhood friend, Nancy Tapper Smith, were there.They read some of my poems, and I sent eight pink rose quartz beads from my mother's necklace.  Rose quartz carries love and heart.

   Here is the necklace, so beautiful and carrying meaning, prayer, and our New Mexico ways into this new place, my old love and home.  There was the woman, Eileen, we met at Squirrel Hill farmer's Market with its two strong quartets and juice bar.  There were friends from La Leche League and Hope's Crunchy Moms group. One woman said it was one of the top ten hippiest things she had done in her life. My dear ones called with a good report. Hope and Leland are magnets for gathering interesting folks.

  I am in prayerful times, pilgrims Friday and Easter morning today. Hope herself was born in this house on a spring morning, Mother's Day in 1985.  I sit and stare at this one photo of a wedding my cousin Amy Friendman Doran sent me.  Beti is the glam blonde and Harry the tallest.  These are my peeps, not so crunchy but definitely glittering and glad to be alive.  I am living every day as my first/last.   The necklace is a shrine, each bead has a wish and an intention. 
Time to make my house shrine to welcome the baby,  New Mexico style.

  My Father's side, I recognize nine.  Beti and Aunt Clara, the last two of the trio above.




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hi Ho Silver Ghazal

Hi Ho Silver Ghazal with photos

What I keep forgetting is I  keep forgetting
Every time I stand up, it takes a day to sit down

The first blue bird is bathing in between robins
We're waiting for the tanagers to flit down

All year the word cancer keeps whispering
to some it is shouting, screams till she bit down

The old poets I love don't live in China, they long
ago left Japan, to visit me, stroll Forward Ave. a bit down


He said "I never heard of Nepal
now people go there like downtown" 

My mother is persistent from beyond this life.
Just now I order a matchbook with her name written down.


"Can you imagine silver in her house?" my bro asked, meaning my abode.
"Yes," my stepdad said. "Hi Ho Silver." That old clown.

We are awaiting the next baby. It is a long road
all have taken, between the heart and the crown.

Today we will visit a farm, a library, some new
folks who braved the elements to land in this town.

Last week we helped clean road for the pilgrims to walk down.
Easter Sunday, plum blossoms, the water in the ditch pours down

Life is indeed full, you old fool Joan Logghe.
There are three of us, just Google us, now sit town.