Monday, July 25, 2011

Friends and Gazillionaires

I know that if you are like me, you are probably sick of hearing about my hijinks and exploits of the Poet Laureate life. Sick of all the wonderful appearances I have been party to, sick of hearing me say I rocked them on the Plaza for the Fourth of July pancake breakfast, sick of my excuse that I have five planets in Leo which I translate as five planets in Ego. I am sick of myself, usually and on a daily basis, but I am also rejoicing. Who is this energetic woman who has now been mistaken for a man not once but twice in a week? Who is this poet who sometimes goes on stage with her skirt tucked in her undies (wear good ones)? And why isn't she sending work off the major literary magazines? Is it because she is still trying to coax a bloom out of her flowers who have pretty much all given up, except the morning glories? Is it because she is in mourning for the fires that burned the canyons and now the black ash in the Rios which the fish can't survive? How can she think life is a joy and a poem when all of this has just transpired her neighboring watersheds?

I think I got some of my questions answered this week. My friends and co-conspirators at Tres Chicas Books went to the big city, Albuquerque, for a radio interview on WOmen's Focus and a reading at Acequia books the following day. I think you can hear the interview with Carol Boss, July 23 at noon for two weeks on Check it out. But even better, check out friendship.

It is truly amazing. I have two friends, Renée Gregorio and Mirian Sagan, who feature an excellent driver with night vision, and women who are as free with money at restaurants and clothing stores as I am. Both of these qualities are great, but not as amazing as friends who listen to all of my plaints and worries, love me anyhow, and give me advice and perspectives. They have even come to realize that I am almost always right. Que milagro! We had a blast and laughed non stop. I had to come home and recover from laughter. I highly recommend finding friends to support your art, publish your work, and run off to a big city with at least once a year. Friends bring joy and endorphins, I know it. Hint: it's good to have younger friends. Not to be ageist.

For one weekend I needed to forget about the US Budget which is ridiculous and any of us could solve in a heartbeat if not for greed. Do you know that greed causes the same bio chemistry as addiction? Do you hear one single gazillionaire say, "Let's experiment with altruism. Let's share. Let's just kick some green ass with our financial clout? Let's end a few wars, divvy up the profits, look at taxes as a privilege of our success." You blog readers know by now that I am an altruistic Scrabble player, and I am watching my husband, who is an altruistic carpenter, and has helped about five people move this month. This includes storing or adopting various things, from a full sized loom to two miniature horses. We have wandering Jews and two Crown of Thorns (altruistic and ecumenical), aloe vera galore, bougainvillea, A combo wine rack.plant stand, a large painting of a woman with two sabertooth tigers which takes up our entire guest room, a Maori mask which hangs over the TV and makes the news look cheerful by contrast, and a Norfolk Island pine which obviously never heard about what happened to our last two Norfolk Island pines.

Anyhow, I hope my second and finale year as Poet Laureate, not to keep dwelling on how cool and groovy it is, I hope this year is of use to people, that we get gentle rains, that my poetry isn't all way too occasional and derivative, and that we are still friends at the end. I have over 500 Facebook Friends, but they have never driven at night with me or heard my stories more than five times. This is the week of my 40th Anniversary. I think our marriage has a fair amount of altruism, screw Ayn Rand. I hope living a life in poetry has purpose and increases endorphins. Viva la PL, even if it happens to be, just briefly and fleetingly, me.

And finally, we have ten days guys for the budget, get it ungreedily unstuck, get it TOGETHER!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Becoming a Man

Today the woman at the optical shop said,
"And how may I help you sir?" OKay, so I didn't put my lipstick on after the swim, and my hair was pulled back, and I only had on one earring, and my glasses were so stepped on at the Española pool that they were practically vertical. But really, have I crossed over? Has that hormonal shift taken place and I am now not afraid of becoming my mother, but my father?

It's true, once before at their country club locker room, Betty who was a red-haired I Love Lucy locker room attendant and friend of my mother, Beti with an "i," Betty said of me,
"She's Harry! Isn't she exactly Harry?" I am Harry. I have his olive skin, his white hair,
his height and weight almost. I am swarthy, but I don't have his golf swing, his taste for martinis, and his palate. In fact it was this very father who told me I'd never have a developed palate.

What I do have is lots of lipstick, earrings, and necklaces which I will never leave home without. I may resort to ruffles. I have books and an ear for a poem, and I liked dancing with my dad, we'd say out loud, "one, two, cha cha cha." I end up buying new glasses with a red pin stripe and hope it wasn't an impulse buy. The glasses on my head where cracked and scratched and I need to see, even more than be seen.

Upon coming home I see that Charles Simic has just written a small book of essays called Confessions of a Poet Laureate. It is only available as an e-book. I find both of these facts disturbing, to a man of my gender. I wanted to write that book, and if he wrote it, why can't I hold it in my hands. he also wrote poems called My Noiseless Entourage, and entourage is one of my words. My thunder is being stolen.

The good news is that the clouds are building in a gentle, not menacing way. We need the rain to quench the fire not to flood the denuded 140,000 acres. It's hard to be as in love with a landscape as I am with New Mexico as seen form our house. Especially hard since we had a solid two months of wind, followed by a month of fires, flames you could see for weeks of it.
I would go out back over and over, and watch the flames. I felt intellectually devastated myself, but it couldn't go into the emotions. It felt sort of stuck there between my throat and my heart, I think I only cried twice.

One morning we discussed, what if the plutonium burned. Would we leave or just leave slowly by illness? The bad thing about pouring yourself into a landscape and making such a sturdy home, is that it is just as temporary as a day, as a life. We all know this. Yet watching the sacred lands of Pueblo people burn night after night brings another time frame.

I have been unable to focus on anything, and so, since I can't write I am going to teach.
I call the class "Living Inside the Questions" and just setting it up has been a challenge.
One question I ask myself is about form, why short, why long, and why followed by a martini.
Why did I never play golf my entire life, when I liked things about golf, my mother,
the grass, the golf carts I adored, and the pretzels in the lounge after.

Wallace Stevens was a golfer, in fac

t when he died and someone in his foursome said something like, "We've lost a friend. And a great American poet." The other golfer answered, "Wally, a poet?" When I die they may say,"Joanie, a golfer?" Or, I always thought she was a girl.
DO you have any secret wishes? Mine is to be published in the New Yorker and I wish someone would send my work out for me. My brother said that he read a book about men and women and how they respond in business. A man given extra responsibilities says he is glad to have then and what is the extra compensation?" A woman just says, "Thank you for entrusting me with this work."

Maybe it was a compliment to be mistaken for a man in the Optical office in Española.
Maybe it means I will stand up for myself, take a swing and yell, FORE!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My kids came up with a cottage industry for me. I am known as a famous and relentless worrier, despite a line in a poem about my daughter Corina that says, "Worry is reverse prayer." They remind me of that and know it doesn't help. I think I worried from before memory.

Lately the wild fries and drought have given me plenty of fuel for my own fires, and the kids came up with this business. For a mere $4.95 a month I will do your worrying. I don't think it will make me ill, as someone suggested. I think I can keep distance, either aesthetic distance, aerial view, or professional boundaries. Also, i identified with the line in Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery where as the Great Splendini, he said he used to be of the Hebrew persuasion but recently converted to Narcissism. Perhaps that alone will give me the ability to listen, or better yet imagine your worst case scenarios, and then much as the Sin Eater of southern culture ate the sins of the dead, I can digest the worries of the living, and not really care too deeply about you. Only $4.95 a month for the first year.

You understand this would be after I fulfill my Poet Laureate duties this year as it might prevent me for giving full attention to that job. Speaking of which (see how I can bring every conversation around to PL) I am furrowing my brow all week about the Rotary's Pancake Breakfast on the Santa F Plaza tomorrow. I haven't been able to write a new poem, though I have begun about eight.

I suffer from the opposite of patriotism which is not scorn but matriotism. I pledge allegiance to mother earth or Gaia, children, cooking and hearth, and the flags I fly are prayer flags. Yesterday I finally decided to make a tree flag-- we had just heard a wonderful Jungian lecture which spoke about Frida Kahlo, Emily Carr, and Georgia O'Keeffe and lots of tree paintings in the face of the largest forest fire in NM history. So I gave up on poems and with a Sharpie drew a tree on one prayer flag and on the GENTLE RAIN flag covered it with rain drops, a form I had never even doodled. Within an hour we had a torrent and hail, and no electric power for six hours and more rain and the arroyos gor flooded and furrowed more than my brow. Michael was out there in the lightening closing up the kids' yurt and trying to divert the arroyos. The little plank bridge we used for 25 years to walk to our neighbors was swept away. The new renters, Hope and Leland, Monique, lots of our neighbors trying to get home.

So this morning we walked down and by Harriet Smith's house the arroyo cut about seven feet down. It's a mess. We do have a way out by the fire station. Nobody in Santa Fe really knows how it is up north. I spent the morning trying to hear if it helped at Santa Clara Pueblo where 13,000 acres burned. There was nothing on the news, and I realized that I have had the privilege of writing poetry with these children for five different years. I think if you work with children you know the beauty of a culture and glimpse its soul. Last week I was at a marriage feast for a young woman I taught poetry to for a year when she was 12. I hadn't seen her for years but she is so lovely and I took an instant liking to her husband. I have a loaf of bread, round as a face, which the family insisted I take. I took it from the freezer when the power was out. The power is back now. It's still smoking over the pueblo watershed. The birds sing even if they are evacuated. I may evacuate myself to a friend's in Santa Fe for a night so I can fulfill my PL duties at Pancakes on the Plaza even if my rainmaking continues to work. I'd worry all night if I didn't. 10:15 on the Plaza on the Fourth.Hopefully, I will be there, with Giant Pencil.