Sunday, November 9, 2014

House Guestlandia

     We have had two sets of house guests this week. My friend and boss, Lee Lewin, always asks me about my week and said, "You have a youth hostel out there." This week a mother and daughter from Milwaukee, Mike's home state, and Mike's brother and his wife and a cat-on-a-leash.  The Milwaukee woman is a vegetarian but she comes with frozen veggie pizzas, zukes and potatoes and a pumpkin from her garden so helps me in my vow to stop cooking for everyone. She cooks. Her mother does bring me a nice hostess gift from the Penzy catalogue with a dishtowel that celebrates saving the world by cooking. It goes smoothly and I run out at 8:00 the next morning to teach poetry.
     The next day, marks the arrival of my brother-in-law who looks a lot like my husband and has ever since I met him in 1970. They are 13 months apart. I tell Mike he always calls them Irish Twins, born so closely, but he claims to never have used that term and so I don't know where I heard it. We babysat his baby, Adam, in 1970 and Mike said, "This is fun. Let's get married and have a kid. It'll be easy." They came back to San Fran from his naval base for our wedding, where Adam jammed on a set of drums and my parents refused to eat any of the food served.  The cake was whole wheat with avocado sherbet frosting, melting as I wept on the phone upstairs. My cousin Jimmy had called to support me in marrying a non-Jew and I couldn't get off the phone. I didn't know that marrying someone meant you would marry into their houseguests.
     Mike comes from a farm family of 8, all of whom either left the farm at 14 (farmhand/castrator, nun, and Priest/navy) or got pregnant at 16 except for Mike who stayed until university and beyond.  We did have a shotgun marriage however, because his sister was pregnant and we wanted to leave the Bay Area in 1971 (Really???) for the Wisconsin farm where we would serve as sort of a hippie support staff as in a weird LSD trip only this one was 20 months in Wisconsin on the family farm.
     But I stray.  I want to talk about house guests.  Brother Rich and his wife, Joni, (I am Joanie now, changing my nickname from the Joni of my childhood which my mother based partly on her name, Beti with an "i"), have surprised us before on their road trips from their home outside of Portland.  Two years ago the cat-on-a-leash came to downtown Santa Fe with us and was a tad whiny, but now Ms Pooh Pooh is shine, nearly twenty,  and less traumatized, probably because our cat died and she has the run of the place.  Joni is a vegetarian too.  They are model house guests and get to see my three kids and two of the grandkids, and pack everything back into their car after a few nights here and leave.  They do leave the cat-leash by accident and I am thinking of either mailing it back with a New Yorker 2012 article on "Portlandia" or else having it bronzed.
     I have noticed that not one single house guest comes who does not have dietary quirks.  If that is a double negative it is because that is how the combo of houseguests and dietary quirks reacts on me. Half are gluten free and the other half are vegetarian.  The Paleo ones look down on all the others, and I think of running into Denise Lamb at Safeway when we had Safeway in Espanola.  She said, "When food is the enemy something is wrong."  
     Then there was the sweet guy called Harry.  Mike meets interesting folks on his journeys and I had a soft spot for this one, handsome and having my dad's name.  Harry was going to spend the night, and I was cooking and he went out to meditate  on the porch.  He came in and said he was told to leave and with lamb chops in the pan (lamb chops are one of the usually "safe" foods allergy-wise apart from vegetarians) he got in his car and drove back to Albuquerque, a good 90 minutes.  He was very wise for we had a gully washer so big that we couldn't get out for a day.  Harry came again within the week.  He had a job interview nearby.  Again he was going to stay, and went to meditate.  He again was told to leave and asked if he could take a shower before he left.  Of course.  We have one shower and it is in our greenhouse.  He was in and back in a flash, the only person to take a shower quicker than mine.  When I remarked on this he said, "Oh, I was just refreshing my aura."
     Then there was the one whose name has changed several times.  He was here for at least a week and living mostly on organic chocolate, a kind of chocolate shaman.  He was getting higher and higher on his vintage, artisanal, responsibly harvested chocolate and just wafting around the place, occasionally singing and drumming to bless our land. I like when people bless our land, I honestly do, but I asked him if he would consider watering the greenhouse.  He said yes and gave it the most misty of spaced-out waterings, never once glancing at the plants which range from the geraniums of my grandma to the San Pedro cacti of the south.  I asked him to water a bit more deeply, that it would be grounding.  He said, "I don't want to be grounded."  I immediately become the cross wife/mom that I so deeply am and grounding related to earth became parental grounding of You can't take the car in a nanosecond.
     Some of the guests come with their rescue dogs.  I have heard a bit too much about rescue animals.  I want to tell them that you never hear about rescue husbands.  I think I will start introducing Mike that way when people tell me about their rescue fauna. Sometimes the comfort of their dogs takes precedent over my comfort. My late friend Don Grolnik said, "Don't make me uptight in my own house."  We always quote him to one another, Rescue Husband to smiling wife.
     Houseguests are one thing and we have two rentals which bring a longer relationship.  The neighbor. We did not rent to the adorable couple who had a dog called The Golden Love Dog who subsisted on raw grass fed beef for which they would need two freezers. Nor did we rent to the woman who was an animal psychic. I was sure the horses would gossip about us or tell her that we needed to lower the rent.  There was also a woman with an inexcusable skirt, the fake patchwork kind I can't abide by.  I cannot live next to someone who owns that skirt, I heard myself saying.
     I realize that all of this makes me look a bit conservative and grouchy.  I am.  Each house guest leaves something, a hairbrush, a water bottle, a leash.  They all have healthier diets and I vow to follow in their slightly annoying footsteps and switch to Stevia, coconut water, and massaging the kale.  One year, 2008, we had 21 guests from March to August.  I made an art piece, a painting of a clothesline  holding the name of the guests like clothespins. That was the year I said our place was like a Hippy Theme Park, yurt, hot tub, permaculture garden, and our kids living on the land.  I admit, I would be lonely without the houseguests and find something else to gripe about.  I once had a writing student who died from houseguests.  She was probably my age now and was forever running her guests to the opera or a museum.  She died soon after and I knew of what cause.
     If you come, please bring your special tea, strip the bed when you leave, a hostess gift would be nice, and include me in whatever chocolate events you are scheduling.  You are always welcome here.  After all you could be the Messiah, Buddha, or  the prophet Elijah.  You could be Quan Yin and have compassion for us all. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Carl Jung and House paint

This week I have a houseguest, the lovely Kin, daughter of one of my best friend's and one of my daughter Corina's best friends. Got it?  A person who I have known since she was a tyke.  She's here for a visit from Maine, where she got married and bought a house which she has been working on all year. Time for a New Mexico break and her birthday with girlfriends.

Kin and I were talking about her town, and Bowdoin College which is there.  It dawns on me that I might have an old friend who taught there, my college roommate and her husband a professor in environmental studies.  It has been so long since I spoke with them, I barely remember her married name.  In college she was one of the three of us to share a geology professor's house and live off campus, the first class where women were allowed that privilege.  She was the one who introduced me to the cereal "Crunchy granola," a term I had never heard. She was the cheerful and reliable one,  and in 1969 sane might be the word for her.

I found her name,  Jane, in my tattered address book and said, "She lives in Brunswick."

"Joan, that is where I live."

"She lives on Lower Made Up Name Road (protecting her privacy here).

"Joan, I too live on Lower Made up Name Road."  I think that is wild but they probably don't live there anymore, I mean it has been years. I bet they moved away, but the next day I call the number and hear her husband's voice. I leave a message.

A few hours later my old friend's sweet voice is on the phone. She is retired and so is her husband. She indeed lives a few houses away from Kin.  I say Kin has been fixing up the house, painted it, and people in the neighborhood seem to like it.

My friend asks if they painted the house green.  I happen to know that is so. A few days ago, before Kin and I spoke, Jane and Dewitt left a note on the house saying they liked the paint color.  Jane's husband and Kin's husband had already had a conversation about the paint color before we discovered this connection.  We chat, exchange lives and laughters, easy as in 1968 when we lived in Medford, Mass. She has a 99 year old father taking a turn for the worse, and a daughter's wedding in two weeks. She's busy and it's hard, but she is happy for the reconnection.  Corina remembered that the daughter, about to be married used to love saying "silly billy" when she was little.

I get so excited I run to tell Kin.  She had already heard from her husband about some neighbor requesting the paint color. Her husband and Jane's have days ago met while we are out here making the discovery. We are both sort of awe struck about this connection.  Kin is indeed a person I have felt deeply about for years, watched her a lot as a child when she and my son played silently for hours, two quiet blond haired brown eyed children, and then she and Corina became best pals.  I feel that Kin and Jane will meet, they both promise. They could have been neighbors for years and never made this realization, Kin doesn't especially know where I went to college and with whom.

I think Carl Jung would be happy with the color of paint.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Arriving at Tinkertown

What I learned form the cowboy poetry reading at Tinkertown, a roadside attraction near Sandia Crest, is this.  It came to me as I stood up, facing 30 friendly faces, and about to read three poems on my life out west for a Cowboy Music and Poetry Festival.  If the child who loved horses, who rode Mr. Bones at Milt Selznik's stable at Schenly Park on Beechwood Blvd. on Sundays, riding around that ring for what seemed like, and probably was, years, coulda seen me.  If that child could have seen me dressed in my pink spangled cowgirl shirt, and reading next to a real cowboy singer, Steve Cormier, a storyteller, Slim Randles and historian, Bob Julyan, she would have been so happy.

It was my first visit to Tinkertown, and profoundly fun.  What is Tinkertown, you might ask and why do you keep repeating the name?  It is a roadside attraction, and that is good enough, lovingly gathered or carved dioramas of cowboy gatherings, Navajo villages, and a circus, all assembled by the wild Ross Ward, gone these 12 years from early onset Alzheimer's, but vibrant and well tended as his legacy.  It also has a great and award winning book now, Leaving Tinkertown, by Ross's daughter, Tanya Ward Goodman and published by my dear UNM Press.

Tinkertown with its bottle walls and sailing ship, you'll just have to make the trip to see it. It's a family affair, kept alive by Carla Ward, his widow, and staffed by various family members.  I was so touched by the invitation to read, the book, the great welcome with snacks (or "nacks" as my granddaughter says) and the care taken to preserve this roadside gem.  I got my fortune read two times by the fortune teller who costs a quarter.  We followed around a Chinese family with two engaged and adorable children.  Next time I'm taking the grand kids.

The reading netted hundred of dollars for the local East Mountain High School debate team. I netted
a great day cruising with my side kick, Big Mike, and bought a little tunic at a shop called Heaven in Madrid.  When you enter the Belgian shopkeeper says, "Welcome to Heaven."  It sorta was that kinda day.

You CAN get there from here. Go through Madrid, stop for coffee at Java Junction where intelligent and interesting young staff will chat you up, the go another 23 miles to the Sandia Crest Road  and another 1.5 miles to Tinkertown.

That little girl in Pittsburgh is so much happier now. She even recalls that Milt Selznik lived to one hundred and got on a horse for his birthday.  He was the Jewish cowboy of my childhood.  The day became a heaven of people who followed their bliss, the cowboys, Ross Ward, Milt Selznik, and my own calling to poetry.  Viva Tinkertown.  Long may it give smiles and fortunes.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Almost Heaven, Española

I have been singing that John Denver song, Country Roads, all week. I live on one, and it has washed out several times but my husband, Mike, has been the Awesome Road Warrior and gotten it fixed so Dezbah can get to an interview, I can have writing group here, and that is where my head has been. It's only been two months since I caught up with myself on this blog.  I have been lap swimming about three to four days a week and I write lovely blog entries as I swim, but don't have paper in the deep end.

"Paper in the Deep End,"  (Book title?)   Anyhow, I want to tell you about Española again.  Today as an example. Española i's like that nursery rhyme my parents always said about me: 

   "There was a little girl, who had a little curl,

     right in the middle of her forehead.  
     When she was good she was very, very good. 
     When she was bad she was horrid."

Bad, we know.  Bad is heroin, alcohol, meth, a slap in the face or a gun. I know people who will not go there, not just Santa Feans, but some who live in my hood.  I have a line in an old poem I wrote, "You've got to get in and get out before eleven, before the weekend with its steady chug." I think all the bad and sad people sleep in.

Española was exceptional today.  After weeding my garden, dead heading the California poppies (Dead Heading?  Book title?), and sparring with my husband in the friendliest way, plus not to forget brewing hummingbird juice, I went to the Farmer's Market.  It was booking.  My friend Sabra Moore is market manager, helped by the divine Norma and her beau, Everett (maybe, not sure of his name).

The old guys are standing in a circle with guitar, bass, voice, just wailing away in Spanish.  You could be in la Paz, Baja Mexico, where the cab drivers have more soul than poets here. They have played every week for a five dollar token Sabra gives them, all the market can spare.

 There were just enough people I know and love that I could get in and out in about twenty minutes. I got five peaches, six ears of corn, a pint of honey, seven squash blossoms, a pint of blackberries, four Japanese eggplant for about $25.00  The honey and the berries and the peaches alone cost about $20.

The ambiance, I can't even begin to tell you.  Sabra and I hugged and got tangled up, my glasses grabbed her white braid.

Then I went to the outdoor pool and found out we have until my Aug 23rd birthday to swim.  The water was the Mediterranean after a squall, a dusting of rain, the temperature of heaven.  I swam 13 laps. I talked to another grandma.  I missed my kids, wished they were there, but took the half hour for myself. I was, as my friend Kathleen McCloud designated, one of those you deserve it people.

Desirae, the head life guard and pool manager,  then told me the good news, an extra week of swimming.  There was enough money for chemicals to keep the pool open. That is my birthday gift. I can't recall when I enjoyed every lap, no, most every stroke, as much.  I was in pool bliss, my country club, a far way from the privileged Westmorland Country Club of my youth, and I felt more at home here then I ever did then and there.

I stopped at my daughter's.  In the two months I haven't blogged, my daughter and her son moved in next door into our little rental.  I was keen to get home and make stuffed squash blossoms but wanted to say hi.  She said she'd feed me.  There on the table were fried blossoms with a side of goat cheese.  I ate four, left the rest for Mike.  It's how we have been since she moved in.  A charmed summer.

Saturday, at a nearby wedding, I wore a dress hitched up by safety pins on the side.  I scrambled to find a few more pins before I left. I was sure to locate and pocket some pins so I wouldn't  lose the dress style when dancing.

I arrived at the wedding and Corina, my beautiful eldest, was the first person I saw.  She said hi, her smile containing all the Hungarian beauty of My Aunt Ethel and the optimistic mother I had. She said her skirt was falling down.  She needed a safety pin.  I reached into my pocket.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What Makes an Activist?

I am being an activist by staying home and not budging for over 24 hours.  I once called it my Petrol Sabbath, not burning any gas for a day.  I still try and take one day a week to not go anywhere. That would be today, only I went to pack produce at our little adorable Española Community Market, my only second time volunteering there.  I usually just support by spending money, but this was actually more fun.

I was about to leave and I realized we had left a bit of a mess in the lettuce packing, so I tidied that up, snagged the plastic bags about to be thrown for my use, and when I came out you were there.  My dear husband and side kick of 44 years and I was thrilled and a bit fluttery,  I liked the surprise element.  You were buying a sweet roll which sounds like a blues song. Then helping our son move. You help someone on an average of every single day. You deliver wood in winter and barely cover the cost of gas.  You do dump runs for neighbors, ditto. You are helping our kids reconfigure as two of the three are moving this month.  When a neighbor calls, you are the ghost buster. You know who you are.
I consider you an activist. You built our house.

Today, after I came home, I readied the house for the folks coming to write with me tomorrow.  I am doing three Sundays this summer instead of my usual eight nights in town teaching poetry.  I spent a good part of today, after the gazpacho from market produce was blended, in rifling through my poetry books. I got to revisit poets I love, fiddle with my copyright breaking handouts, and find my deep center of poetry. It's good because due to allergy to the glorious honeysuckle, I have been foggy and brainless, sort of a Lucille Ball of poetry.

But today I found my center, and also found out that I have accumulated lots of mixed media works, artists' books, and informal paintings that I have done when I teach or just play around.  I have a whole book trying to paint Anna Akhmatova, and failing miserably.  I did do about a dozen retablos of poets, and by a fluke the one of Robert Bly came out very much in his spirit, set of mouth, and wild hair.  It was done in 2006, scanned for Santa Fe Poetry Broadside by Miriam Bobkoff and made into a poster by photographer Pierre Toutain.  Blessings to dear Miriam B and thanks to Pierre.

A few weeks ago, I heard from documentary filmmaker Haydn Reiss, that could he, maybe, possibly, use the painting in his Bly documentary.  You might imagine how pleased I was, am, and hopeful.
The Bly image has been over my desk for years and now maybe gets a life off the wall.  I am a great believer that if you just make many exposures, as in photography, you will get some good shots.  I also like my Jack Gilbert painting and Neruda is close, but no cigar,   So I wait in the possible to see what transpires.

If you want to support the Bly video which is near to conclusion here's how: I did for good luck, to support the project,  and because I try to cultivate the activist heart of the world.  Haydn made a great  Rumi video, one of Stafford and Bly, and one called "Every War Has Two Losers."  All of them excellent.

In the heavens, Maya Angelou may be wondering what kind of an activist this is.   I love what Bill Clinton said.  That she had borrowed God's voice, and now God wanted it back.  That fits in with Judaism, that the Divine has broken into sparks, and that we are mending the brokenness of the world, Tikkun Olam. We each do it in our own way.  Today it was laying low, finding center, and even the allergies seem to scamper off.  I think, too, that we each share in that divine breath. Being alive. That is one of the names of the Creator.  Breathe for the breathless.  Love to you all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Heart Quilt

My daughter had one big wish for her Big Birthday.  Corina had been a devoted participant and master seamstress on all of our Chimayo Friendship Quilts for I don't know how many of our grandkids, twenty maybe.  Her son's, twelve years ago, was the first time we stepped back in as grandmothers to celebrate our kids' kids.  I was so shy to start up the tradition that I only invited nine people to sew, a wallhanging more than a bed covering.

So when Corina asked, how could we refuse, even though we took a side trip to make a beautiful healing wall hanging for Jessica, on the mend from major health issues.  Corina wanted a quilt, but when expressing it out loud to Willa realized Jessica was a priority.  So we rallied for both of them and I must say, they were a total success.   24 people contributed to Team Jess's efforts and the same number for Corina's all hearts all the time quilt.  Corina thought a theme for this community art project would be interesting and challenged us to incorporate a heart in every ten inch square.

Highlights include a beaded anatomical heart by Lyssa Elder, a real museum quality piece.  Willa Roberts, who is a self avowed couch surfer in New York right now, managed an intricate batik that would make any batik artist proud. The kids' former grade school teacher, Julia Hudson, from the John Hyson School where she taught for 40 years, made her square represent the entrance to the school where Corina, Jess, and a slew of others attended.  Julia stayed for the day!  All of us expressed our love for Corina, for each other, and for this project that is decades deep.  Here is her quilt. I can't find Jessica's right now.

 People came and went all day so I don't have a good group shot, but I counted 26 in and out of my house this Sunday.

People ask me what I am up to.  With my family of twelve and these little projects I organize at the house, I really stay out of most mischief.  I like any day I don't get in my car, and so give a holler and come visit. Y'all.

I'll be part of a group reading Friday, May 30th at 6:00 at the New Mexico History Museum.  There will be five of us, two friends and two poets new to me.  Come one come all.  Let's launch summer.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Post- Poet Laureate promise

Wednesday I read at the Community Gallery surrounded by works of art by children.  I called it my Post-Poet Laureate reading and read from the many poems I wrote way back then. Okay, I promised to not have a post-post-poet laureate reading, but I can't promise I won't read from the poems again as they are leaning towards a book.  I need to get one of those purity rings to keep poetically chaste or maybe three rings like a notebook.

The three best things people said to me during my tenure (I love to say tenure for the obvious reason that I will never have another) are this:

1. "I am so proud of you. Don't lose a bit of it."  My grand daughter Kaylee at age four the night I  passed the pencil and took my oath of office on the Santa Fe Plaza. I swear she was channeling my mother or at very least my Aunt Chutey or Pearl.

2. "You still have that new poet laureate smell."  SWAI jeweler Kenneth Johnson

3. "Didn't you used to be somebody?"  Carolyn Riman, after the final jot had been jotted,  on Lincoln Avenue.

I had a very nice evening Wednesday, revisiting my post, and everybody seemed happy with Odes & Offerings, the book Sunstone Press published of my final project of visual art inspired by 36 poems by 36 poets. People were so sweet.  I forgot that people were so much sweeter than my obsessing and Woody Allenesque mind.  Besides my black belt in worry, I am skilled in worse case scenario.  Open the doors and see all the people.
I think most of them came for the door prizes which were five poem holders and a few little books.   We had a distinguished visit by street poet Chuck Calabreze and later a cameo appearance by Jon Davis, current Santa Fe P.L.  My grand daughter was there hooting a bit and it was her first reading at age one year and I think, by her clapping and hollering, that it was a hit. The sushi afterwards wasn't bad either.

Now I am back home and trying to do less sewing and viewing and more writing, or moving poems around on the computer since there are so many wastrel poems in here.  I send post-Good Friday love to you all. Thanks if you came to hear me read, and thanks if you are reading this, and just plain old thanks.  

I am busy teaching little Kaleia one year old things like "Block," "bird," and "what does the owl say?"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Braid and I

My braid and I are happy it is poetry month.
 Already I have written two intros to books, forgotten to write something about Espanola, and have a keynote to write for the Santa Fe Girls' School Gala.  I went to a gala last Saturday.  It was filled with writers and for literacy. People keep asking me about my writing.  Everywhere I go people ask me, "So, Are you writing?"  I am not writing a poem much, or sewing a poem holder though I sold six yesterday, Yay team, and not in my blog so much.  My not writing is taking up all my writing time.  I have to keep up with my "shows," see my friends, fit in as many chile rellenos as one can in a lifetime, and admire my jonquils and hyacinths before the wind takes them. I have to be there for the grandkids.

Last night it frosted.  My windshield and the lawn were white. The beautiful three peach trees seem to be still holding their blossoms, but maybe it is a last ditch effort before they turn black and shrivel. Spring in New Mexico is full of heartbreak.  I know. I have been here forty-one years, one week from today is our New Mexico anniversary. So I called my old land lady and invited her to lunch.

We arrived on April 11, 1973.   This was before there was poetry month and before I had poetry credentials.  I wrote, was class poet, and won a Academy of American poets college poetry award in 1966 of all years. I was a freshman.  But in 1973 I was married, had survived a few months driving a school bus in Fox Chapel, a year in Chiacgo teaching Kindergarten, a year in San Francisco, and two long sub zero winters in rural Wisconsin on my husband's family dairy farm.

New Mexico looked like paradise. We landed in Pojoaque which we pronounced as you would expect two greenhorns to pronounce it, and stayed with Robin and Jim, Barb and Syd.   Barb remembers me walking around naked. I remember her soaking pinto beans and baby Jessica crawling around my ankles. Michael and I drove the dirt roads looking for a place to rent.  We considered ruins of adobes with no windows.  Hey, after two Wisconsin winters how bad could it be?  We stopped at Al's Pharmacy and Al told us of a house up the road a mile.

When we got there and I knocked, I noticed the succulents by the door, a good sign as I love succulent plants. The woman who opened the door had the most beautiful open smile. Beatific.  It was Virginia. We were to become neighbors for 3 1/2 years. Now I haven't seen her for about six, but I just called her on the phone to ask if she will celebrate with me.

I think living there is the luckiest thing that happened in a pretty lucky life, knock wood. The three room adobe was a classic and Nora and Roland Pickens had lived there.  They restored it as Roland, may he rest in peace, designed exhibits at the museums. I have written this again and again, but there I was painting the house a fresh coat and all three doors to the three rooms open tot he road. The people streamed by on the Nambé Road and I thought New Mexico rich with walking.  It was Good Friday, April 19th, 1973. These were actually pilgrims walking to the Santuario de Chimayo.

Forty-one years later, our son is married to Tammy Garcia Logghe, from the family who owned the Pojoaque place where we first landed.   These braided lives come out of a state with a sparse population. It is just right for me. I was a pilgrim and a stranger.  I live in that beatific smile
more than my back east frown.  We drove the road this week to see if we could see Angel, Ana, and Joe walking, these new New Yorkers in our life.  We drove our pilgrimage, but still, cruising is a sort of prayer here, and you and me, babe, keep on trucking.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why I Cannot Be President

Though I appreciate the support I got when campaigning for Pope, and I am very glad to cede the position to Pope Francis, the first Pope I've enjoyed since John let us eat meat on Friday, I simply can't be President.  When I saw "we" in terms of eating meat, it's not that we were Catholic, but that Mrs. Deegan who cared for me in both senses of the word, was Catholic and so we ate fish on Fridays.
She prayed and prayed and I can't help feel that she prayed me Catholic so much that I couldn't help but marry a Catholic.

Anyhow, as much as I could have embraced the role of Pope, I don't feature myself as President and so I will have to respectfully decline those of you who were going to vogue for me as a write-in candidate.  I mean "vote," Autocorrect.

I simply don't have enough time or energy.  I hope Hillary does.  She went to Wellesley and was in the same class, "Hillary's Class," as my good friends Dee Dee and Nancy Wanderer.  They did a film on that class, the graduates of 1969, and interviewed Nancy.  I hope Hillary will have enough time, but she probably will because she isn't a grandmother yet.  If she were a grandmother, she'd definitely not have enough time so I suggest that Chelsea put it off until after the election.

If she were a grandmother, any day when she had nothing on the calendar, say meetings with Iraqi women or cutting the ribbon on a new Planned Parenthood office, the open day would fill with a grandchild. I know she could find a sort of uber-nanny, a presidential au pair, but it's what happens to the mind in the presence of grandkids, presidential and women's college educated or not.  I have three biological grand children and one step-grandchild.  In any of their presences my mind is taken over, it's like a good drug but a drug nonetheless.  In fact the word "nonetheless" is a perfect description of how I become in their midst.  I simply could not make an unbiased opinion in office. I would be talking to a head of state and the baby would be throwing peas onto the carpet or yanking at the curtains. Or, I would be asking the eleven year old what he thinks, since he seems to know everything. If not, he would show me how to access the answer on something electronic. So, I respectfully have to decline your nomination.

Then there is the issue of time.  I hope Hillary has more time than I do, and that she has a better system than my day-planner.  This year when I bought my Month-at-a-Glance, I got the cheaper version so there is no room for my notes in between months.   Believe me, that was a Mistake-at-a-Glance and I was too frugal balancing the domestic budget to toss it out and upgrade..  I know, I know, Hillary is probably digital.  If she has it all on her I-phone, I hope she is better than I am about not misplacing it.  Maybe she has one of those clap-on devices to locate it.  I would suggest.

Another suggestion.   Her hair has been a problem.  I looked to Georgia O'Keeffe long ago and decided when I was old or oldish, I would wear only black and white clothing with an accent of red, and have a white braid.  You have no idea how many perks the white braid has.  Subliminally there is the O'Keeffe thing going on.  I am pretty sure my braid became Poet Laureate of Santa Fe and I followed along.  If Hillary grew a white braid, she would be respected for embracing her age, her power, being so brave, and she wouldn't' have to deal with the collapse of hair volume she seems to be prey to.  It also cuts down on hair expenses which she can point out to the public, plus save time.  It is the school uniform of hairstyles and some people even think I am a native of somewhere besides Pittsburgh.

In terms of energy, I can't really make suggestions, I just know that I don't have enough.  And people are always suggesting various regimens for me which I confuse with regimes.  So for my regime/regimen there is walking, swimming, weights, exercise tubing, gluten-free, paleo diet which includes new cookbooks and grass-fed everything, plus a garden with a nod to locovorism and to follow in Michelle's footsteps.  I mean, it's daunting enough without having to redecorate the White House.

So, while I am sure Hillary is up to the task and I  will support her, I can't even begin.  The campaign itself would do me in.  I am busy writing down my dreams, avoiding too much sun, and doing crossword puzzles.  I hear Bill can do the NY Times in 15 minutes while I scratch my head and my way through the Monday and Tuesday puzzles in our paper.

Anyhow, I wish her well. And for my constituents, Let Them Eat Poetry.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whose Words These Are?

I know this looks a lot like the last post, but it is on the west side of the renga, note the sunlight on SITE Santa Fe and how I am dressed for warmer weather.  It also features stanzas of all three Tres Chicas, a happy accident which Axle Contemporary Gallery (of recent PBS Colores fame) was kind enough to document.  My verse, having served six weeks, will retire to be seen no more, until the book comes out this spring. Can't wait.  Each entry illustrated by original art.  I made a farewell cameo appearance to visit my stanza.  It's still happening, the world's shortest poetry event, every Friday at 4:45.

Besides that I have been busy with ArtWorks, taking poetry into public schools and then taking students to live poetry.  This year we decided on classic poetry, a reading called "Whose Words These Are I think I know."   It was challenging to find poems that were fun but not cute or smarmy, deep but not incomprehensible. We settled on a baker's dozen from A.A. Milne to e e cummings, Dickinson to Lorca, poems the three of us readers, Jonathan Richards, Oliver Prezant, and myself could agree on and enjoy performing.  I am really  looking forward to this.  I already worked with four classes, call and response to "all in green went my love riding" and I dressed all in very bright green. I also found out, since this is a poem of the hunt, that the students of Eldorado Community School are hunters. Many hail from Pecos. They loved echoing my dramatic words, "The swift sweet deer, the red rare deer." Everything you ever wanted to know about alliteration.  And "A narrow fellow in the grass" led to me discover that every single student had seen a snake.  I am sure I didn't see a snake till I was much older. New Mexican kids.

There is often a story when you visit a class.   This time I ate lunch with the wonderful fourth grade teacher.  I asked if any of the students' writing was a surprise and she mentioned that one person read at a much lower level and yet wrote a true poem.  That person was the first to stand up and read and when we broke for lunch, stayed to read more of the poem as the others marched off to lunch.  I keep this person anonymous,  except inside me it is yet another example of how the arts break us open, turn us into our best selves, not always but often enough.  As Yeats said, that we "are blessed and can bless."

I am so grateful for ArtWorks, for Axle, for Emily Dickinson, and for my chartreuse pants I spotted in a St. Vincent's de Paul's thrift store. I didn't know I was purchasing e e cummingswear.  I suggest you try call and response, reading a poem and having it echoed by the kids.  It is the most fun I had all week. Delicate.  Not even the rain has such soft hands.

I also send admiration for the amazing teacher who gives the third grade kids "Vitamin Words"each week, the likes of "ubiquitous" and "diligent."  These teachers I meet are the finest humans on earth.
So, I am praying for snow in all the right places, but not enough to keep me from poetry.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Density of Synchronicity

I promised you, dear blog readers, that I would post my renga post. I like to keep my word.

Thanks to Axle Contemporary for this wonderful project.  I think my post is still up for one more week, if you want to catch the poetic linked excitement of it. And there are still weeks and weeks of renga, until summer.

I know you have been wondering, what sun-kissed synchronicities have befallen me. So many I almost have to skip a clutch of them, as they do come in groups.  I will begin. 

My son-in-law is applying to grad school, a PHD program in psychology at Duquesne University.  The program has a depth psychology and a specific professor with a Jungian bent. It is in my home town of Pittsburgh.  We all feel my mother is getting back at me for moving west and raising the grand kids in the wilds.

My own youngest, the delicious nine month old Kaleia, was on a holiday journey to her dad's family in sub-zero Indiana. Her other grandpa, Charlie, who has just come back from Peace Corp in Rwanda, had a hankering for a VW camper van, you know the type. He found one which had lived in Santa Fe (!) and was now in Pittsburgh (!!).   Charlie told the VW seller that his son was applying to grad school, and guess what? One of the seller's best friends is head of the Psychology department and the aforementioned professor (!!!).

Kaleia, Hope, Charlie, and Leland drove from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh and got to buy the van and meet the professor, who respects synchronicity.  I am taking a deep breath, and saying "Roots and wings, we give them roots and wings" at the distinct possibility that our enviable all-in-one place family becomes like most of American, only FaceTime and two air flights away.

I stood in a parking lot telling a young man this story, as he was a Duquesne University graduate.
"I was born on Jung's birthday. July 26th," the guy said. (!!!!) Of course he'd love to meet them if they come to Pittsburgh where he still lives. Thanks Luke.  I am keeping a file of Pittsburgh connections.

Telling our pals Pat & Melinda this story, Pat kept saying "Tracks, tracks."  What she explained she meant was a teaching of Carlos Castaneda who they had studies with.   The tracks of your destiny, when life lines up like this.  You gotta respect it. You gotta wonder why I am so resistant and attached.  Dense, is all I can say.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Word Fads

The latest excuse for not writing is the holidays.  So when a little poem snuck out on New Year's morning, I felt like it was an excellent omen for the year.  In the spirit of my brief poems:
      New Year’s Day

Substitute the words “far-out” and “mellow”
for every adjective. Then cool.
That’s how it was in 1973, forty years ago
and we were just a sparkle
in New Mexico’s eyes.

Then the years of “awesome,”
a persistent moniker
and lately “Really?”
in a sweet surprised voice
that lilts upwards, especially
near my grandchild.

The words may change, 2003,
the year bling hit the Oxford English.
But today itself is mellow and far out,
awesome and full of bling,
bling, and bling.

I knew this was a mere skeletal approach to my topic.  How I react to word fads.
I am sure Shakespeare and I have this one thing in common.  He did not resist the
new words of his faire tongue, and I do not either.  I sometimes can't stand them, and react like a person with a rash.  But I do hear them, take note, and sometimes slip them into

I took my little note pad out at Sue Farrington's famous  Chimayo New Year's Day Party, I'd guess I have attended over 30 times. Thanks Sue. I asked the youngest folks in the room if they had anything to say about word fads.  They said I'd asked the right people, Willa and Jerry, two musicians back form New York, late thirties.   When I told them my love/hate reaction to words we became instant "besties" and here are some we added.

"Groovy" would go in with the Seventies and is one I love.
"Totally," "radical" or "rad," and "whatever" may slide into the Awesome generation.

Meanwhile, Johnny is alongside and suggests "Bitchin'."  I tell him I will not accept that,
for it is very Beach Boys, too west coast (though I lived there a year)  and not in my language surfing experience.  

I think of "righteous" and Jerry suggests "wicked" which I feel is mostly Massachusetts where I did live for four years.  So I accept it reluctantly.  Johnny again said, "bitchin'" and I again say I never used that word and do not intend to, the female dog and negativity about women aside, it isn't something I have crossed paths with verbally.  Now that the word "Bitch" is used both humorously, lovingly I guess, and in rap music non-stop, I am especially sensitive.  Poison oak of language.

But I digress, I am still jotting like crazy, Robin says "neat " was up in the Fifties, in Los Alamos, and of course "Cool."  I know people and a particular summer camp my kids went to where the only adjective on stock is "cool."  Cool this and cool that. I liked what the camp had to offer except this one stop adjective.  

"Epic," "Gnarly, " and "No way... Way" cropped up in the discussion, and I added "No doubt." It even became the name of a band.  "Obtuse" was suggested and then Dave Best chimed in with "colloquial familiarism" as what I was looking for.  The man looked like he could coin words like a slot machine could spin.  

"Not"  and "Word" occupy a ring of Dante' Hell. The "F Bomb" cropped up at my Ghost Ranch Class since the conference center is owned by Presbyterians and the college students respected my request for appropriate language. Not to censor but to attune.
Again Johnny insists, "Bitchin', bitchin.'"  He gets his wife in on the act and says, "It we saw something we liked in a store, we'd say 'bitchin' right?" 

"In high school," she didn't seem to like the word any more than I did.  "I"ll put it in my writing"
I told Johnny to make him happy.  He is a rad, gnarly sort of guy, a great skier and only missed surfing by a quirk of geography, being an Albuquerque kid.  He does water ski.  
Maybe it's a jock word, not a poet word.  Now "jock," there's a visual word for you.

I have been trying to add a new word and see if it takes off.  Today was really "dense."
That is so totally "dense."  I see it as a positive like "ill" and "sick" have come to be.
Dave again, "That has mass."  I swear he is a word factory.

My dear poet, Gerald Stern, when I took his class, spoke of his verbal prejudices, or maybe I made up that terms, anyhow, words he could not stand in a poem.  "Compel" and "ponder," that kind of thing.  In my verboten list I have "unique" which sometimes leads to "very unique." You probably could add your own word allergies.

But for today.  May your New Year be sunny and dense.