Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I am 
alive words
 carried through
protected from harm

poem to feel a
parable to understand
a metaphor to see
paradox to puzzle
wisdom to know 
prophesy to fulfill
truth to live
bright and sharp
I am
open book 
full pages
written on
I am

We just saw "Book of Eli". It prompted this. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bloody Berries

Falling into the berry patch hurts. Dumping the full basket is discouraging. Spider webs trapped me. Barbed thorns hooked tender flesh. Hair chunks getting yanked out by a bramble branch made me cry behind askew sunglasses.

Is that blood oozing or berry stains?

Another two quarts of berries in the freezer is all I have for my trouble today.

Why do I do it?

It is never about the berries.

It's about the sensual satisfaction of gathering summer and putting it by. For later.

Friday, September 24, 2010

And Another One Does

Sophisticated man 
greedy for his own
decor in the big city 
plunders the riches 
of a small town's 
history. Raping 
her, gutting her, 
leaving her torn, 
a gaping hole 
His assurances 
earned trust in town
before leaving her
forever bereft.
They, not he
are left 
with remorse. 

Loverby and I heard a sad story last weekend in a small town in Eastern Washington. Waitsburg has a lovely history. Mr. Wait owned the gristmill on the Touchet River. The town thrived. 

A few years ago a Seattle man bought the historic bar on main street with the understanding that he would renovate it and rejuvenate the town at the same time. It had one entire wall of custom oak bar. Mirrors. Draft handles. Personality. Patina. Artisan quality work that isn't found any more. 

As soon as the ink was dry, he gutted it - installed it in Seattle somewhere - and left the gaping hole on Main street. The building is useless now. He doesn't care. He got what he wanted. Waitsburg pays the penalty for his greed. Thus the angry poem.

These pictures aren't the same building; it was in a town close by, telling the story better.

This is how another charming small town dies. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nine Lives

"It's a small world" wasn't only a cliche tonight. I met Fred Sprinkle through poetry. Glynn, Maureen, and Nancy promoted him through Twitter, which in turn caused me to follow his blog; I Force It To Rhyme.  I then friended him on Facebook. Oregon, Missouri, and Virginia led me back home. I'm glad I followed the trail.

Through his recent Facebook status, I saw his invitation for Wrong Way to Hope, which was having a premier showing in Mt. Vernon at the Historic Lincoln Theater. Fred helped produce it. How cool was that? It sounded like a fun date on the water with a full moon escorting us on the short drive.

Looking through the program, we learned that it was about nine young cancer survivors taking a nine day rafting adventure on a remote river in Oregon.

They let the camera and us hear their journal, join their isolation, observe their solitude, feel their pain, see their scars, sing their stories, wipe their tears.

They let the camera and us watch as they wiped out over and over again in class IV rapids and climb back on their kayak once again to do it again.

They let the camera and us see transformation and jumping joy.

The let the camera and us touch the grief, loss, and regret.

They let the camera and us in. We were with them. Raw. Naked. Hurting. Minus useless sentimentality.

Being with them was pure alchemy, turning our own private pain-with a different name-into redemptive time. A thread of empathy and compassion seemed to complete an invisible electric current from the lives on screen to us. Understanding lit up the dark theater.

The most noticeable thing was how their countenance changed. Surely there was a gauntlet of rainbows arching above that stretch of river during those nine days?

We didn't have far to go or have any long lines to wait in to meet Fred and two of the young people in the film. I would prefer looking into their eyes and shaking their hand ~ than any royalty, pope, or celebrity ~ it was high honor indeed.

I wish them well in spreading hope.

"You can't suck and blow at the same time" and "I think I'll put up some mountains" were the unforgettable take-away quotes for me.

You'll have to see it to understand. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010


Loverby and I drove six hours to meet a simple country girl, her family, and one of her favorite musicians. She invited us. It was worth the drive. The farm country filled our senses with healing and wholeness. We miss small town farm life.

We packed light. Our tent, bedding, and coffee pot.

The first night we found a free camp spot on the Snake River called Madame Dorian's. It had an outhouse. No running water. Right on a lake with a train whistling through at all hours. It seemed a good fit. The sardine packed RV park that we had just passed wasn't our style.

It was dark when we arrived. As we were setting up the tent with a small flashlight, two older men came over with lanterns. The were toothless, wore scruffy clothes, and had had a bad hair day. They each had one lazy eye that kept drifting off. With severe speech impediments, they talked incessantly. We were grateful for the light, and their kindness, but it was awkward. It became clear that they were mentally disabled. Getting them to go home became a challenge. Social codes, norms, and cues weren't translating well.

Loverby needed to use the outhouse. He was gone quite a while. Too long. I started imagining the worst: Those men were part of a gypsy band of miscreants. They had jumped him. Stolen his wallet, threw him in the bushes dead. The truck keys were in his pocket. The area had few other campers. It was dark. The stake hammer was outside, out of reach. It felt like this was Deliverance and we were in need of some. Was that Dueling Banjos playing faintly in the background?

He finally came back. I asked if he could grab the hammer on the ground.

Sure, I'll put it in the truck.

No, no, bring it inside.


It is our only weapon.

Oh. For what?

Well, just in case we need it.


We promptly fell asleep to a train racing along the river. Its whistle was the last thing I remember until a patch of sheet lightning, lightning and cracking thunder woke us up. The sky split open. A downpour pounded. The tent pitched and bucked, but we went back to sleep when we realized no water was coming in. We woke up ~ surprised to be not only alive, but warm and dry.

The brothers and a son were waiting outside to greet us, as soon as we unzipped the door. Each was eating a bowl of dry fruit loops. Our hair looked similar to theirs now. Our clothes just as rumpled. Our smiles towards the lovely sunrise, and sage scented morning ~ exactly the same.

The oldest one melted my heart when he told Loverby he missed living on the farm they grew up on.

By morning's filter, after a strong cup of coffee ~ they only looked like two brothers taking care of each other in a harsh world ~ with enough kindness left over to offer us their light.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Lunar Rainbow

There is such a thing as a rainbow at night. It is called a lunar rainbow. I once saw one, without understanding what it was. How could it be, I wondered? 

Finally, I saw a picture of one, an arched one, not the round ring around the moon kind. I knew. 

Some people are like rare lunar rainbows. In the dark night, they collect secondary light and reflect it back as a full spectrum of color. 

I have seen them. Perhaps it was you? I know. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fistula Girls

Fistulas happen to young
girls married against their
will by arrangement to old 
men who use them to breed
babies in bodies too small
to deliver either the new 
life or bridge the political
alliance of families because 
when her delivery is obstructed
it tears her inside  
eliminating waste both
liquid and solid  
stink and filth without pause
 upon dark skin 
and black thirsty earth 
sopping up the drink 
everyone finds abhorent
leaving the young little old one 
worse than a leper
pariah to the village 
food for the jackals 
living isolated without help
cold without doors
an embarrassment to the family
who can't make good on 
the bride price until
she makes the walk 

the walk to beautiful
begins when she hears
hope whispering 
her name 

I listened to this TED talk by Sheryl WuDunn the other day. It paired well with this movie which is available on Netflix or for purchase.  A Walk to Beautiful,  also prompted this poem. I hope the tears  that came as I watched it will fuel a practical response from me on some level.  

I often find pieces of my heart walking barefoot part of the way with them, to beautiful. I picture the path lined with invisible well wishers, applauding. I see angels guiding the eyes and hands of the medical teams that give of their time and talent. I hear the "Well Done" echoing in the halls of the hospitals that welcome these precious girls.

Maureen encouraged me to join the fun at One Stop Poetry's One Shot Wednesday. Even though I feel extremely shy about doing so, I do like to play.  Especially I want learn more about how you all enjoy this new medium which recently found me.   

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blue Hair

Did you know going gray is becoming a popular style option in sophisticated cities? The keeping up with the roots problem must be exhausting. Wow, for once in my life, I'm in style, and maybe even ahead of my time?

Mine has never been colored. Lately, the girls have commented that I need to shampoo with the purple shampoo for silver hair. I tried to find some without any success.

In our current culture, wild colored hues of hair are normal. We hardly take a second glance at the burgundy wisp of bang, the skunk stripe on the temple, the platinum mop laying atop the shadow underneath.

When I was little, colored hair was a big deal. A brazen few dared the copper penny red, or the sun bleached looking frost. It was the old ladies that were a source of surprise. Once in a while they would show up with blue hair. It usually faded within a short time, but it was out of character for these matronly
souls who looked like every speck of adventure had dried up long ago. What extreme daring do!

They would show up at church with this strange shade of blue hair. Looking sheepish. No eye contact was made, nor was it mentioned in polite company.

It wasn't until I was an adult and lived next door to grandma that I found out the secret. When her hair started turning yellow or rusty, she would get out the bottle of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing from the behind the laundry supplies. It was a bleach alternative. She didn't know it was safe and green and better for the environment. It worked to whiten whites, that's all.

Guess what I bought yesterday? And washed my hair with today? Mrs. Stewart's Bluing. A few drops were added to shampoo. My hair is still wet and in a towel at the moment, but hopefully it won't be blue when it dries. I only added a few drops. If the results are a stunning, shimmering silver - I'll charge you to use this information.

On the back of the bottle is a recipe for a magic salt crystal garden. Dang, I wish we were still home schooling - I forgot to do this one! I don't want strapped down and diagnosed with dementia before I grow my garden; I need to find a kid to borrow to legitimize the endeavor.

This garden is made for Washington, it doesn't need sun. Hallelujah.