Friday, December 17, 2010

Legalism Defined

Maggie and I took a walk around the airport trail this morning. Around our public spaces, people are concerned about doing the right thing when their dog poops. Carrying a bag to pick it up is essential to good citizenship.

Beside the trail this morning was a small black poop bag with a knot tied in the top. The owner had followed the letter of the law but completely missed the point. In his case it would have been better to creatively disobey the rules. Using a stick to sweep the offensive mess into the bushes to decompose within a short time would have been better than the plastic bag left on the trail. It will still be there in a hundred years if nobody picks it up. But he followed the rules and thinks he did good.

Legalism always stinks and doesn't seem to ever go away. It trades packaging, that's all. Don't be fooled - it really is what you think it is. Shipoopi......

Thursday, December 9, 2010


No visions of sugar plums danced in his tiny head resting on remnants of hay stubble left over from night feeding. No 
candles welcomed in the windows ~ for stables don't have any. His mother most likely wrapped him with her head covering, leaving her all exposed. Sweat drenched. Unprepared, what did she use for after birth bleeding? Diapers for him? Did he latch on quickly and have a swollen milk blister on his upper lip afterwards? Where did Joseph find nourishment for her? Did he borrow the animal's drinking water to clean up the mess? Did she tear?  Without women to care for her, Joseph had to take the culturally unfamiliar role of midwife and doula for a wife with whom he hadn't been physically intimate with yet. His rough carpenter hands baby catching? The crown of thorns was waiting in the wings instead of a Nutcracker.  Maybe the tree was growing even then to be hewn into a cross as he cooed. The blacksmith who hammered the spikes into shape might have been a baby at the same time. A weaver's young apprentice  honed his skill making robes without seams. One this baby would someday wear ~ making men cast lots to own it ~ when they assumed he wouldn't need it anymore. He was laid in a stone manger swaddled with cloth at birth. He was laid on a borrowed limestone burial shelf after his death, wrapped in cloth once again, ministered to by women winding their love around him. Women who watched their love left in a heap, for he didn't stay a baby, nor did he stay dead. Instead he stayed God, wrapping us up ~ folding us into ~ a bundle of love, forever and ever. Amen. 

(Please don't judge this sketch harshly. I've been picking up a pencil for the first time in thirty five years. I never had lessons and wish I could express what I see in my head better. Until then, I will practice the uncomfortable, rough way. I have such a heart for Joseph. He is probably the most overlooked hero scripture mentions. I imagine his hands, so rough and tender. To me, his faith was the greatest of any. I imagined the pageantry of our present day Christmas and the lack thereof on that morning.)

This is for a prompt from L.L. Barkat: "This holiday season, we invite you to take the big things of Christmas - family, grief, Christ, celebration, laughter - and share them with us through something small." Join us by sharing your link here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dead Drunk Garden

Broken garden beds 
covered with lifeless husks 
lay brown down.
Their skeletal remains
used to be color spots,
pigmented petals 
wooing friends 
gathering nectar.
How do roots endure
soggy cold waiting? 
They huddle together 
thankful they aren't
 homeless or alone. 
their feet around each other
in the dark
they swallow great drunken 
gulps of the rain maker's 
honey mead 
waiting to burst out 
laughing again
when the sun's love
tickles them 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sucking on Succor

Succor means: to aid, assist, help, offer comfort, encouragement.

This last week, I was in the sludge of discouragement. I took the week off from the world wide web and connected with comfortable behaviors and uncomfortable ones. I didn't have the inclination or energy for too much eyeball to eyeball or skin to skin engagement. For introverts it can be exhausting at such times.

Many hours were spent reading. This activity included a dog curled up on the blanket corner at my feet and a hot mug of tea. It was restorative and inspirational reading. Contemplative. Nourishing. Quiet.

I dug out some dormant art supplies which haven't been used in years. Sitting down facing a blank white page paralyzed me for a while. I finally gave myself permission to be a kid and simply put color on the white paper. It didn't turn out very good. The next one not much better. The third? Pretty much the same. Each was whimsical and colorful, though. They will stay private or be gracefully laid in the garbage. The thing was - I needed to be creative in new ways. Make myself uncomfortable. The finished products weren't good, but they bushwhacked the brush, clearing some plugged trails. The exercise wasn't wasted or futile. Some times creative juices need some sort of laxative to start the flow again........creative constipation happens. Taking action is imperative for me to get unplugged. The momentum carries over into other areas.

Because I was so discouraged, I thought - maybe I'm not the only one. I determined to send personal, hand written encouragement to everyone on my address list who loves words and writes. To give what I needed most. Writers need to know that words do matter in our world. It is a lonely, solitary call. Most the time, the lack of feedback is crushing. We don't know if the void has ears, or if there is a soulish connection being made. As I put that batch of envelopes in the mail, I felt presumptuous and foolish. I have people on my mailing list who surely don't want or need my simple offering? They are VIP's! I heard a mocking cackle of derision gurgling up through the slimy pit below me.

One of the most profound books I've read is The Gift by Lewis Hyde. A gift has to move. In a circle. It has to be passed on. Today I was at the end of the receiving line and got all the abundant excess somehow. Could it be because I offered the little I had to another?  I don't know. Truly I don't.

This day has been so full of gifts being rained down on me. A blizzard of emotional goodness swirling me in loving eddies of affection and encouragement. I feel like I'm sucking on a succor cube of sweetness.

It came on a day that I thought I was going down gasping one last time - like Stevie Smith said, "Not waving but drowning."

Be strong and of good courage my friend. You are beloved. You are not alone.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Two girlfriends are recently engaged to be married. Both are suddenly being loved by real men who are mature, grounded, and generous. Neither one has experienced anything similar in previous relationships.

This thing they are experiencing doesn't resemble the Hollywood model of lust, infatuation, or obsession.

For both of them it is a mature, long friendship that time and circumstances turned into romance, then wrapped in intimacy. Heart, mind, body, and soul. It was lagniappe on both accounts. Unexpected.

Both are older gals. They have known trouble and despair. Each in her own way has felt hopeless of ever knowing a future including a loving companion.

If you could see their faces. They shine. The room brightens when they walked in. They both look ten years younger. These women were pursued by men who took the initiative in wooing. The grooms wait impatiently to make them beloved brides. The wedding plans are unfolding with delight and joy.

It will be special to be a guest at their weddings.

Wait a minute! We are The Bride. Shouldn't our faces shine, too?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Slashing at Windmills

These replace
the old style. We needn't
slash at them Don Quixote. 
Graceful field growing
a crop of windmills
harvesting wind instead of
wheat. Man can't live on 
bread alone. 

Dreams of Steel

Grounded beside iron feet
I look up and through
crazy house of mirrors. 
The tunnel repeats support 
again and again
waiting for its reason 
for being. 
The trestle bridges valley 
and river anchoring
bluff to bluff where
brave men taunted death 
someone else's blueprint dreams.  
This train I wait for 
comes speeding,
rumbling along
trust's thin, taut 
 high wire.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

No Clue

A few months ago we were able to go see the opening of a movie. It was happenstance. Through the blog world of poetry, I had become facebook friends and twitter friends with a young poet in Bellingham. Little did I know he was shooting a film. When he announced the showing close by, we went.

As we were finding a place to sit, we saw the brother and sister in law of a long time friend. We made small talk until I spied the young poet. I recognized him because of his gravatar. I went over to meet him and his parents. I told them they must be proud - to which they agreed - and asked if he would come over to my little group.

I introduced the poet / movie maker to our friend's family, thinking they would be honored. They were so anxious about finding a seat they couldn't be bothered. They missed the best part of the entire evening. It would have enhanced the movie without 3-D glasses. And it was a free opportunity. The saddest thing? They don't have a clue what they missed.

Anxiety robs. Worry wastes moments. Both put blinders on my noticer. I don't have a clue how many wonders I've missed, myself.

Lord, let me see and be anxious for nothing ~ simultaneously.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The line strung between posts 
doesn't sag dangerously close 
to the ground anymore.
The heavy wet wrinkled washing
wrung out by the wringer doesn't
flap or snap. Clothespins put crimps
in sheet corners and made companions 
of shoulder seams and Levi legs. Rules
were followed for correct 
ways of hanging and attaching.
 Jessie (Jesus) Viviana Victoria 
Cota de Jose brought her 
pins inside with every basket of 
crunchy ritual. Noel didn't know 
the rules or follow laundry protocol
when she ate the crotches, the all 
important part, out of grandma's
underwear. How do you punish
a donkey who only leaves elastic
hanging lonely on the line with 
a wooden clothespin? Hot 
steam melts wrinkles flat 
and sends donkeys to the 
farthest back forty. 

This is my grandmother's clothespin bag. I think a couple of the clothespins might have been her mother's. The Pacific Northwest is too quirky rain wise for hanging clothes. Unfortunately. 
I played under her flapping sheets for hours using dropped magnolia pods for people. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Man in Black

Harnesses and hames hang 
with dusty reins 
tangled in single trees.

The surrey sings
 a red fringe on top song.

Horseshoes fit hooves 
as big as dinner plates 
for working horses 
 drafting with pride.

Yoked together
 beasts obey bit
attached to reins 
held gentle. 

Knowing hands feel 
current passing through 
leather ~ master and team ~ 
at one. 

Double trees, cutters, and sleighs
collect our storied past.

The springy buckboard
 dream made from scratch
 takes his lady easy
on Sunday drives slow.

Runners, wheels, and antique 
saddle frames restored 
preserve history.

Bells and rings attach 
when it's time
 to play dress up. 
Prancing, they put on a 
show for us and 
the man in black. 

I love the prowess of reinsmen. Garfield and Uncle Cliff have given us many hours of pleasure. The sleigh rides and hay rides on the wagon are epic memories. Thank you. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Making Rope

Three strands twist until 
they twine about each other 
shortening their length by half
and multplying their strength in 
triplicate. But even unbreakable 
unity has tangled knot capabilities. 

Pulling rope strands apart is difficult 
for they have permanently indented
each other. A ring finger minus its ring 
doesn't lie. It waits for oneness to return 
A welcome weight.  

This is a tribute to Loverby. Seeing a woman through all the hormonal stages of her life must be a challenge for a man. After menopause, what will I have for an excuse? His patience and kindness towards me when I'm most difficult ~ sometimes fails in a weak moment ~ but he decides to agape me again the next moment. This grace never fails to keep me completely devoted.

Love never fails. It is the true......a cord of three strands is not easily broken.  

Craig's dad let me have an old rope maker we found in the barn last summer. Craig helped me try to make rope tonight. The rope turned into poetry. Poema means workmanship. The in-progress-whenever-it-is-now-kind. Continually. Ongoing. The Ropemaker's. His. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We All Get One

One acre given at birth
One acre for everyone

One acre plants flowers and trees
One acre collects garbage

One acre births art
One acre breeds violence

One acre provides nourishment
One acre poisons the ground

One acre attracts butterflies
One acre draws flies

One acre gives life
One acre aborts thinking

One acre gives succor
One acre pillages

One acre craves more
One acre refuses growth

One acre learns new ways
One acre parrots old news

One acre values wisdom
One acre seeks fame

One acre celebrates freedom
One acre crimps ideas

One acre dreams awake in light
One acre hides in nightmares dark

This is my stab at a catalogue poem. I found it very difficult. LL Barkat offered a Random Acts of Poetry prompt over at High Calling. Check it out. Join in.

The thoughts that created this came from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird where she talks about all of us receiving the equivalent of an emotional acre when we're born. What do we do with it?

Redemption. The desert may bloom as paradise. Direction may be changed. We may make U-turns, make changes, and start again.  We get to choose how we live on our one emotional acre. Often we are the recipient of someone else's largesse. It makes us want to turn our wasteland into garden.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Upon Waking

Last night I ran out of gas on the way to a wedding. A rodent of a man offered me three pepsis and one 7up. He said it would be a good substitute for gas. As he spun away I heard an evil laugh. This gave me red flags. 

I knew before I started the motor I had to wake up - to wake Loverby up - to ask him his opinion. He said, "Don't start the car!" 

He recommended me going back to sleep to siphon it all out. 

He couldn't do it for me. I hated that. He always rescues me. 

Loverby went back to sleep mumbling, "It might have worked if it had been coke." 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Learning Prepositions

aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, amid, among, anti, around, as, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, but, by, concerning, considering, despite, down, during, except, excepting, excluding, following, for, from, in, inside, into, like, minus, near, of, off, on, onto, opposite, outside, over, per, plus, regarding, round, save, since, than, through, to, toward, towards, under, underneath, unlike, until, up, upon, versus, via, with, within, without

How did other children learn their prepositions without the benefit of Mrs. Orr's legendary arms? 

She was a few years from retiring when I was in fourth grade. It was obvious the shine had worn off teaching. She seemed tired the entire year, except when we learned prepositions. 

Frozen in the 1920's, her jersey dresses looked like costumes off the set of Cannery Row. Belted with short sleeves. Classy, but outdated. 

She became animated during this rote memory work. We were embarrassed, but had to stand and repeat them together, while doing the hand motion for that word. 

Her arms had an indecent enthusiasm for the task. They escaped the confines of their sleeves upon any hint of a prepositional list. 

As she wrote the list on the chalkboard - and while she energetically did the hand motions - the underneath, fleshy part of her arms flew about. They flapped like worn out, leathery elephant ears trying to fly. No amount of hydration or lotion could have brought them back to life. 

It formed an unforgettable trauma bond. 

My worst fear has come about. I'm glad I don't have to write on a chalkboard. I'm also grateful for long sleeves, and try diligently to stay hydrated. And moisturized. Perhaps it's not too late to find a preventative exercise? 

Weight and gravity, can they be defied? It's too late. It is. But maybe I can use them to fly. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Space

The cranky lady next to me on the plane jumped out of her seat to frantically keep anyone else's luggage from harming her Ferrari (?) laptop. She didn't want to put her second piece under her feet, but it was a good thing for two others to put their only piece under their feet. Everyone within a four row radius knew her opinion about my space.

I was angry at her for being so self centered. Later I softened when she told me of the places she'd been, the businesses she had started and been successful at. She needed to be a spitfire to accomplish what she had. When I found out she was eighty, it was hard to believe. She looked 60. Begrudgingly, I came to admire her as we parted. Still, I thought she was completely out of line and selfish.

A few days later I felt the grinding ugliness of my space. The beach was sparsely populated. Brita and I had a sweet little spot under the sun filtered fronds of three palm trees. A group of senior citizen's with visors and clothes screaming Tourist tottered over and plopped their chairs right between us and the water. Inconceivable! The whole beach beckoned..... and they picked that spot? Ruining my view? My afternoon? My vacation? My life?  

It was unbelievably rude and inconsiderate of them. They didn't notice my scowl. They were oblivious of my offended huffing and puffing as we laboriously moved our pile of stuff to another place.

They wrecked my space. It was mine. I was there first. Acquiring two year old emotions came easily.

As lady dragon smoke continued to puff out my ears and nose, the frail older man who picked their spot came up to our chairs. Extending his hand he apologized. "We come from the East coast where the beaches are packed like Honolulu. I didn't realize we were sitting between you and the water. I'm sorry."

His timing churned my stomach. Brita had just been reminding me that they probably had been oblivious and weren't purposely being annoying or mean. She gently helped me remember times I had probably been unaware myself.

What could I do but blush and welcome him to the human race while taking his warm, wrinkled hand in mine? It was hard to make eye contact. His knobby knees had become fascinating.

David Rupert at Red Letter Believers does a monthly roundup of featured posts at High Calling. Check out the other featured posts Around the Network

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rocked by Love

On the beach I noticed this foot sized heart shaped rock. Tip your head or screen sideways and you'll see what I noticed. It is still laying in the sand on an island in the South Pacific. As I was downloading the album, editing and rotating pictures, I saw the embossed heart and the indented heart side by side. 

Please tell me you see them. Love rocks!

I found these the next day. Everywhere I walked..... 

Reading Red Earth

She sprawls 
letting us watch 
sweat trickle hot
 between her breasts

under her arms 
 unshaven tufts
 wait to catch 
evening's coming

strong shoulders 
shrug pack aside 
letting heavy 
lay still

 resting awhile
taking her ease 
she swings in 
rhythm with 
island time

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prairie Well

Anticipation vibrated 
 against his arm.
Heaving the iron 
handle high
 he raised,
  lowered, and
raised it once again.
Sucking deep
the full spout 
spilled faith 
like water. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Seeing the wine harvest brought in and crushed, has been on my bucket list since forever. I will be down in Oregon, having a peek at the process. In order to have the privilege, I have offered to clean toilets, pick stems, or do dishes for the family and friends loving Sineann Wine into being.

I go, hungry to sense and absorb the aspects of this process. Lord, help me see.

Thanks Peter and Nancy. See you.


Their names are screwed tight 
to the Resident's Directory
hanging visible by the door 
opening one way ~ no escape. 
He dresses up proper to read the news
one more time. Changing chairs makes 
the old news new. 
Elsie ran away to be a bride before 
his father could interrupt love. 
A work tent by the rail road's 
 newly laid track ~ her nuptial bed. 
Jesus loves me is the only song 
she remembers. She sings it heartfelt,
 over and over, now that she isn't a child. 
We come to see our mother who doesn't 
know we came. When her limp hands wake
to clasp back tender, our smiles tremble. 
Wedding bands worn thin
don't lie. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sophie's Seeds

Sophie moved her large bulk slow. Even so, the homestead work was accomplished with thoroughness. In between relentless chores, she planted flowers along the rock wall which she had hauled and stacked one stone at a time. Stones were plentiful and unwanted in the fields.  She reframed them.

She is famous in the family for this: Doctor suggested she only have one piece of toast in the morning, instead of two. A keen mind in an aged body outsmarted him. With gumption, she told the family she would follow orders, but she would be sure to cut it thick. She pronounced it tick. 

When we go back to the prairie, poking about the old places jog memories. Asking a question about some unfamiliar object becomes a story starter.

This tin can sieve with lid is for holding minnows. It was dropped in water to keep the fishing bait alive.

When I was younger, I lusted for the object left along the prairie trail. Now, I hunger only for the stories to pair with the digital proof. Often, the story is as wispy and fragile as the rotting curtains.

The ungainly rug loom held a place of honor in the small living room. Sitting by the hot stove under dim light, they toiled all winter turning straw into gold or rags into rugs. 

The rusty story starts to loosen as you turn the handle. Flimsy questions echo up the stairs. 

Her carpet was printed on linoleum. A good faux, easy to clean. The flowers are still bright.

Her bottom knew the frozen wooden seat of the outhouse ~ intimately. Paul would dig a tunnel from the house in winter. His aim was good as the tunnel always ended at the door of the outhouse. It was a two seater. There's a delicate question I have never asked about!  

This old jar of hollyhock seeds whispered how a homemaker, in spite of lean times and a hard life, knew how to save color for her soul from one season to another. I'm learning what she knew. It was and still is, an essential. 

No matter how severe the drought, or how meager the crop ~ one common saying frequently heard among those homesteaders after harvest was, "Oh well, maybe next year." A shrug of the shoulders flipped the burden of failure away while their hands found the next needful thing to do. They couldn't waste any energy for they needed to survive winter's sour winds. 

Each spring, they picked up the handle of that dream one more time, and with calloused hands dug a place to plant seeds. 

Reflecting Love

Wilfred wooed Thelma for five years before he married her. Letters diverted from a disapproving mother didn't cool his determination. His constancy continues now from the place where she lives full time and he lives day times. Her thick brown hair is still lush, but grey. A stroke ten years ago changed the direction of what they had envisioned for their golden years. They have gone far past plans A or B. 

Their view is one we can only partially empathize with as we look inside, and they look out with acceptance. 

Fifty nine years of deciding to honor their vows is an epic story. The prairie yields many similar stories. The staying power of love thrives here. We have seen it up close ourselves. Too close. Perhaps roots grow extra deep in this lonely sod? 

Thelma was a stunning young woman on the outside. Being in her presence for even a short while reveals a woman who is stunning on the inside, too. I was the one who felt visited. And blessed in her presence. All heaven will welcome one such as she. She stays because we need her light and love. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hobo's Leavings

They felt the need to leave their names carved in the woodshed's planks. The McHenry Loop was a dead end. A tricky little turn around. If they wanted to keep going west, they would have had to walk across the prairie to the main line.

Some wrote their names like a brand, with flourish. A couple drew a profile, perhaps unable to write.  Indian Dave, GA Slim, Red, Omaha Kid, Hank the tie tramp, and Rock Island Whity left permanent proof that they had passed through. No amount of paint layers will obliterate their ~ I was here.  1904. 1917......

It is art, hidden mostly in tall prairie grass. What was graffiti then, becomes a creative record of a hobo's wandering now. If only we could follow their trail of carvings left behind across the wide expanse of America's railways.