Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This silt says

This silt says, there was a river here, once,
however far it has receded.
I walk the path and
today’s footprints dust over yesterday’s.
Last winter I carried anxiety in a little bag with me.
In June I considered wedding vows.
Today the sky is sapphire and my head is full of words,
everything and too much a poem.
At 4 pm each day the wind blows back down the canyon,
blows back whatever has been brought,
pushes back the skin of the water that pulses underneath.
One might imagine a droplet of water stands still for a moment –
then, driven by a force far greater than it,
rushes forward.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Oh you, who makes all this possible…

My husband takes my breakfast order via text
as I’m coming home from an early morning run,
42 degrees,
for which earlier he’d acted as my arm-oire,
 standing in the closet with bra top,
fleecy tights,
wool shirt
arrayed on his limbs while I tried to decide
what the season’s first cool run required. 

At home, he slips my coffee onto the bathroom counter
while I’m showering, ensuring I stay as
 hot in the steam as the coffee does in the cup.

I hope, absurdly, to be at least 1/2 as good at loving as he is. 
(What would that look like:
one slipper delivered from under the bed?
a dinner partially cooked and missing all seasoning? 
a ride halfway to work?) 

Maybe this:
on a day that he returns home to
a French press clogged with grounds,
a dog dissatisfied and unwalked,
no inspiration spared for dinner,
foolish, hopeful, ever-fallible, present him with a love poem.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

dandelion gestalt

This week,
dandelions thrust from their crevice between street and concrete sidewalk -
a bright splash, happy faces of color -
where there hadn't been any for months.

We've been craving spring, it's at least a month behind last year (which was also late).

So stark in that moment when I first saw them -
I was a wreck, it was the only joyous thing I saw that day,
and almost an insult to my grief and anger.

Now they're scattered throughout the neighborhood, probably shivering on every windswept lawn,
but there nonetheless.
Already I'm looking past them, reducing their status from: exuberant harbingers of spring to: weed.

My grief has healed, too, dried up abruptly with some timely news.
Already I'm racing forward, but I'll keep those bleak images to ward off the inevitable:
abundance breeding carelessness.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Porcelain babies, all of us
What do we know of the light as it shines through us?
Opaque to ourselves, we are not even filters, not even prisms bending light.
No dimness of soul or mind will throw a shadow.

We are not the chosen; special, specifically
- except as we are here on this well-lit orb,
all soaking in the rays,
quietly glowing together.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Massage is eloquent silence

Your animal body has brought you here.  My hands are full of you.
This is what I know when I massage you:

that your feet have carried you a long way

that your back is strong despite its aches

that your arms have carried many things for others

that the delicate curve of your neck is tested daily by the weight of the things in your head

that your body is beautiful, and capable of healing itself, you, the world

that you are worthwhile

(I will watch your corrugated brow smooth, the corners of your mouth tick upward, your belly rise higher with each deeper breath.  My heart will be filled as yours is, cradled beneath our ribs.)

...that you will leave this place, step back into the world, and go on.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jim Henson and I have the same birthday.

When I was little I most wanted to be Jim Henson, to play with all those fuzzy and warm Muppets who told jokes and never fought without humor and had fascinating guests come visit them, and who had plenty of colorful friends to sit next to in the theater.  What a great job, I thought as a college student, to be surrounded by all that soft, bright fabric, building puppets, imagining creative ways to blow up chickens, picking great songs for puppets to parody.  It must be fun to work with an entire group of creatives, and have spans of days where your biggest challenge is how best to flatteringly light a diva Piggy in a ball gown.

Later I wanted to use puppets for peace and things got more complicated.  I wanted lots of people involved, and they needed to be trained.  My puppets needed to say something, have a purpose.  I don't think my senior show had any intentionally funny moments.  I wanted my puppets to touch people, to reach across from their inanimate and symbolic state and infect the hearts of unsuspecting adults, to break those hearts with a surprising visual, something that resonated deeply, and shatter them.

I still want to build a giant ethereal turtle and float it gently, iridescently, over the heads an audience, to have all the adults feel small and blessed, like a tiny hopeful community.  I'm not interested in the hippies - they already get it - it's the folks who think they're too busy, who grew up without noticing, whose skull sutures are too tightly fused, that I most want to dazzle with colors and movement.

I saw a show in San Francisco once that was internationally renowned for some fool 'art' reason, in which the puppeteers waved bits of gauzy fabric around synchronistically in a glorified fish tank.  I thought it was crap, an hours-long, slightly-more-interesting-than-a-TV-test-pattern excuse for a puppet 'show', and I was embarrassed to have subjected my friends to it.  I felt tricked - puppets do not belong in the post-modern medium.  Puppets are supposed to convey some story, some shared bit of humanity, and those bits of fabric which moved like banners in the wind spoke for no one, said nothing, and meant nothing.

A few days later I saw a kids' show at a local library, and fell in love with a tiny caterpillar whose body was inched along via attachment to a clothespin - absolute genius.  In that inanimate object was a soul, a story, something to get attached to.  That show was free, and the puppeteer stayed to talk with the kids, and me, afterwards.

Claes Oldenburg said, "I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent... I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself."  I find myself nodding vigorously in agreement.  What is puppetry that doesn't make us wonder and laugh at ourselves?  The beauty of puppetry is that it can embody that coarseness, bluntness, and sweet stupidity so clearly, that it can bring us face to face with our various essences, that it makes us laugh at ourselves.  Puppets are embodied object lessons, and puppeteers are messengers, seers, wise women and men.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


What were you doing writing me poems as you stood on the edge of life and a death only a year or so away?  Your poems were full of light, and humor, and sexiness.  Once you wrote about my belly, how unlike that of the muse that inspired the Song of Solomon, it was not a bowl of wheat.  I could feel the heat of your fingertips on the paper, reaching through to touch my belly, felt myself rising to you, a few miles away, safe and celibate in your parents' house.  You were a joy to them, and everyone you met - that bouncy smile, upturned, petulant face, silliness ever ready.  Who were you with that face, and then the one you kept turned away like the dark side of the moon, infrequently considered, and known only because there must always be an equal and opposite.  That opposite turned out to be an extreme none of us would have dreamed existed.

I am still writing to and about you 17 years later.  Every day is a lesson in how long loss, and loneliness, and wretched, vomitous missing can go on.  What a bizarre never-ending for a first love.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

a friendly creative spirit up in the eaves

A joke you told fell on
friendly ears, all
creative types who get your crazy free
Up they soar, away with you.
In the end, I'd so much rather have a goofy artist husband
than some genius, hunkered like a paranoid owl, up in the dark

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ashland in photos

We ran off to Ashland last year during spring break, and couldn't think of a good reason not to go back this year.  The flowering trees and milder climate are a relief from the wintry mix of Bend in March.  Here are a few of our favorite things...  I'll publish more when I figure out how to download photos from my phone!

Dinner at Gogi's in Jacksonville.  That's a local wine, and a beet and herbed chevre salad with a tasty fried basil leaf.

Flowers. everywhere!

The sign says, "Ashland Home for the Easily Amused".

Whew!  Glorious sky, and budding trees!

The next few were just fun for our eyeballs...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a romantic spectrum

I'm startled by how these 'vertical sentences' can evoke so much imagery.  Perhaps there's just enough structure to free me up.  Today sentences are album and song titles, taken in order from my electronic music library.

In that liminal moment, you stared at me
the heart of our relationship suddenly broken,
glass at our feet and in our fingers.
All I cared for had fallen away,
my carefully hung curtains hiding
doors I didn't know existed.
Any last thoughts of staying vanished, suddenly
given wings to fly.  Which
day is it, and how did we come to this?


Where we met, along the river,
the mud is thick.  Even the
internet can't penetrate.  Between our toes, the mud
cools us, we amble
downstream as the wind blows up.
Futuradio will see this walk as a
sweet throwback.


Say you'll bring me that strange green flower!
Hey - I bet the florist knows what it is.
I won't accept roses, or convention.  It's
got to be just us - a
love unlike any other, no bridesmaids, color-themed weddings, reception halls
for our wedding.  I knew that's what I wanted when I cast my lot with

Monday, March 21, 2011

Home dreaming...

On our drive home from Portland, I took the Tumalo exit to our prospective new house, and pulled in the driveway as if we owned it.  Felt good to end our drive in a place with trees and sky, mountains in the distance - I could see it being a lovely place to arrive home.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The good to the last drop feeling.

That's what they tell me
good doesn't last, you must get used
to rolling with the tide, don't fight
the undertow. If I'm lucky, the
last thing I'll see is the sun sliding under with me, just a bright
drop in a vast ocean of

I can't stick to treating my clients like meat.

I hate writing poetically about myself, I
can't abide my being on the page. I'd like to
stick my pen in my literary eye
to blind myself to myself, and restrict my
treatments to my
clients, the homeless junkies, anything exterior -
like the birds outside, little flying bits of

Monday, March 14, 2011

Go hungry so you will want to eat.

Go on now and touch the sacred stone.
Hungry for insight, or meaning
so depleted by everyone else,
will be filled again,
want for less, sit down

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'd been slapping massage treatments like Band-Aids onto clients...

Friday, March 11, 2011

My writing hut/studio/strawbale/retreat

I can't wait to be writing from my little straw bale writing hut, looking out a low window to the raised beds that will replace that big chunk of pavement at the bottom of the driveway at our Cline Falls house.  I can see a series of windows, some about hip height, with a sill just high enough for feet to rest, and maybe some longer, lower ones that let in the entire vision of the garden.  I think I'll sit in a chair like a soft net, draped with a quilt.  There'll be a desk, too, movable, for both writing and painting.  I think I want a low or a sloped ceiling, so that it's cozy, with a green roof on top.  There have to be other seating areas for writing visitors, maybe some kind of bench built into the wall, a futon, a hammock chair, just pillows on the floor?  Only slippers will be allowed.  How will I light it?  We'll build shelves directly into the wall, for books and trinkets.  There has to be some surface to which I can attach things, something better than cork board.  Maybe I can free myself enough to regularly paint or write on the walls.  I'll have a little broom for sweeping, plants, flowers, and herbs everywhere, and a dog bed for Siri.  Wind chimes outside, maybe the bamboo ones.  My own bird feeders.  A beautiful door with tile outlining it.  A little stoop, also tile.  Perhaps a poem tucked into the bales.  A friendly creative spirit up in the eaves.  A bed loft?  Definitely mobiles.  A beautiful earthen floor.  Maybe my musical instruments out, on the walls.  What to do about shade?

Where we think the writing hut and raised beds will go.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Our new house, your tractor-beams of love!

Dear friends, who have been crossing all your limbs and digits in hopes that we'd eventually get the Cline Falls house that we so love,

Surely you're as tired of the body part crossing as we are.  We've been trying not to think about the house in hopes of avoiding too much heartache, but in the face of yet another delay, we've decided to try a new tactic.  We've decided to go heart-fully forward and summon the house to us with full-on creative imaginings of what it will be like once we own it.  To that end, here is a picture of the living area, as it now stands.  How do you imagine we might make it the vibrant and welcoming heart of our home?  What do you imagine we all might do there?  (At the very least, we're removing the carpet...)  Any and all thoughts of remodeling, decorating, coming together, eating, music making, etc., are welcome.  Please post your comments below.

We are casting aside all our cynicism, worry, and doubt in favor of faith in having a home with lots of heart.  Please help us tractor-beam this special place to us with lots of creativity and love.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  SWAK!

View from the dining area. Note the woodstove in the back corner and bookshelves on the half wall.
View from the bookshelves.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More sentence inspirations:

The yellow crocus just outside the front door is not a miracle of light. - Matthew Dickman

yellow pee in the bowl blossoms like a
just another irritating reminder that life is kind of miraculous.
Outside, I'm prepared to be astonished:
the true flowers are enough, full
frontal plant nudity blows the
doors off my mind.  Must I be confronted with what
is my own one-in-a-billion chance of being, of being me -
not a rock, not nothing -
a miracle?  I don't want to appreciate that,
of a groggy morning, sleep-scented, relieving myself into a bowl of

I don't have the razor's edge of bluster anymore.  - me

I will eat alone.  Please
don't call me,
have a plan to cheer me up.
razor's on the
edge of the tub, not in my hand.
Of unhappiness - I know it, but lack the
bluster of action.  It just doesn't matter

Monday, February 28, 2011

Still breathing through.

...The woman you used to know is nowhere in your life. 
The crazy woman you have cut out already, a thousand cuts.

Strangely, somewhere down the line, you’ll want her blessing, still want her presence at an event, maybe a wedding.
You have no idea who she is now. 
She does not even look the same, and her reactions will be all wrong, and awkward, and it will be hard work to have her near.

But some small piece, a thousand cuts deep, says
I remember you.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lots of skiing

So glad for lots of skiing this weekend, Wanoga yesterday and Meissner, miles and miles of Meissner, today.  I feel thirsty for exercise, I can't get enough of outside, trying to soak up as much snow and sunshine as I can, infuse all that bright energy into my cells.  I've been putting out too much, and not replacing enough.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two small pieces

I'm enjoying these pithy little pieces created from the words of someone else's sentences.  They seem a bit mysterious, I'm grateful that they're out of my control.  Here's another piece with each word of a sentence the beginning of a line in a poem, of sorts:

I peeled a mango and
decided that life should have this much slip as
to escape, seal-like from one's fingers, and
heave upon the floor.  You
chase such a sweet thing.
A pit requires
designed to separate the mango threads,
to suck the last bits of sweetness from the sunrise
weather of the fruit.
A hard fruit might belie a
storm ahead.

The line from whence it was born, "I decided to heave to, a technique designed to weather a hard storm."

And still one more:

Another young girl might have
factored in the brightness of the sun on her yellow dress, but
to consider such things is beyond her.  She
is instead within the sun, startled by daylight
the spangle of dust motes her dancing
color the thrum of blood in her delicate arteries
of flesh nearly not-human
the spins of her dance an arc upon

From, "Another factor to consider is the color of the paper."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bits and pieces

Lisa and I have decided to hold each other accountable for posting bits of our 1 hour writing sessions, at least 3 or 4 times per week.  This piece was just today's warm up, a prompt that asks the writer to pick a line and write the words, one per line, vertically down the page, and then complete a poem of sorts.

I walk on a jetty, storm-battered balance makes for a giddy trip
needing the sharp stones to cut my toes, razor's edge presses reality up through me.
To recover some sense of presence
rhythm in the rocks is necessary, a universe of opposites
in balance.  Will
heart, not centered in my chest, upset
that delicate tightroping, will wind that
moves wraith-like around straining calves upset
my tortured dance?  A
body like water can
first hope to bubble
and shimmy but
mine will not
mind and will boil and burst

The initial quote is, "I need to recover a rhythm in my heart that moves my body first and my mind second, that allows my soul to catch up with me.  I need to take a sacred pause, as if I were a sun-warmed rock in the center of a rushing river."  Dawna Markova

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My pilgrim shrines

"those locations that have become like pilgrim shrines to us for the power they hold over imagination and identity."  
- one prompt among many from Kim Stafford's website: http://web.me.com/kimstafford/kimstafford/How_to_Sleep_Cold.html

Like a pilgrim shrine to me for the power it holds over imagination and identity, years ago, still now, I would choose our family's cabin, tucked in an insignificant New Hampshire town, without a mall, with the classic white Protestant church, small businesses, brick library....  But it was the cabin, on a lake, that formed the centerpiece of my identity.  My years started and stopped there, under the great pines, centered on the weeks we'd spend idle there, in the summer.  I'd read, nap in the sun, write, run, swim.  Eat with the neighbors, maybe listen to music.  My head would empty.  I did not know guilt for doing nothing.

I looked, for hours.  Small fish, close to shore.  The wind rippling the water.  At night, the steam rising from the lake, around the floating docks, forming ghostly shapes.  I found myself and felt whole there - but because there was always the return to home, school, the frantic life of a busy teenager - I doubted the realness of the place and what I felt there, couldn't imagine a future in which I permitted myself such a place, full time, couldn't imagine being able to make a living out of such a place, felt compelled to investigate more obvious, acceptable paths, and thus ignored my increasing feeling of alienation, the farther I went from the solace of that place.

This prompt drew my attention, resonated - a place like a pilgrim shrine, true north for identity...  What was that fleeting bird call of recognition, that high keening?  Not just the past... but ah, also what I've had here, in the high desert, and what I'm continuing to seek.  Not in this horrid house in the burbs, but the house we lucked into when we left the city, and used as a home base, looking glass, for all our explorations of this place.  I can't call that house home anymore, and without it we, too, are too removed from the daily miracles obvious only over time in an undisturbed, wide-open space, but I still feel it out there - the mountains, ever-changing, cool and mysterious; small creatures, dun-colored in the brush, surprising colors amongst the dryness, the giant sky.

I wanted it, want it, because I found myself there, too.  Felt my feet in the dirt, my heart beat slow, allowed my eyes to follow the birds across the sky, learned birdsong, thanked the universe each day for the river, became present, knew the place and felt how short my time in it.  I was innervated and slowed by the minute changes, felt myself a small, gratefully observant thing in the place the river calls home.

I am so much more the girl who walks through dust, sun overhead, beside rivers and lakes, than I am the one who shovels a cement walk that looks like all the others in a neighborhood of 400 identical houses.  I am the one that notices that day's new, minutest blooms, that notes flocks of birds migrating through the seasons, that lies back to watch the sky, that sees the water bend around a rock, that requires quiet and solitude to think, center, rest.  I declare myself a foreigner to urban, unimaginative environments.  I want to go home now, find myself, live from that fecund center. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Be less stingy.

I'm resolved to be less stingy with myself this year.  As Siri and I walked along the river this afternoon, I puzzled about what that actually means.  My initial impression was that it was about treating my body better - more baths, more lovely oils for my winter-chapped skin - an attention to sustenance, in place of a misplaced and outmoded devotion to Puritan scarity, replacing the inner critic's "You don't need..." with an affirmative "I want."  Some of that is material, yes.  A piece of me cringes from that reality, even now - but I consider that the last few months are the first in years that I've had an adequate income.  I'm behind on necessities, not luxuries.

I've inflicted other stinginesses on myself, too.  Classes I've wanted to take, things I've wanted to explore that I haven't, because of money, but also because I thought I could live without them for now, in favor of more practical, pressing needs.  And then there is the giant stinginess, how I live my life, such that I don't prioritize the things I want to do, always putting the things I have to do first.  Inevitably, I have no time for writing, painting, walking, playing with my dog - and sometimes I'm almost relieved to be so singlemindedly busy, because who knows what would be unearthed if I wasn't?

So what does being less stingy look like? 
Gleaming skin - from being loved up with oils and lotions, at least 2 facials a year, and many warm baths. 
Signing up for beginning singing and guitar classes.  (!)
Making time for art - writing, practicing instruments, painting, photography, whatever. 
Buying some new music! 
Letting myself discover and follow my interests. 
Getting some fun winter dress-up clothes.
Taking the time to sit still, anywhere, and notice anything - asking "What is there to be enjoyed in this moment?", and enjoying it.

Ciao, 2010!  Bienvenue, 2011!

I'm not fond of our current neighborhood, but oh, the light in the trees at sunset!