Category Archives: Poets

Adrienne Rich and Earl Scruggs, please return to the building

and the rain continued to fall

March was waterlogged and weary

I struggled,

to make sense of life in an America

that was getting worse

instead of better

Has it really come to this

I want to know

I want Adrienne Rich back with her pen

and Earl Scruggs with his banjo

i ought to let them rest in peace

but Adrienne Rich is needed to fill in for Rush Limbaugh

because it seems middle America is in need of a few Good Poems

and Earl Scruggs ought to bring his Banjo over to Congress

and stop up the mouths of those menfolk

(who want to legislate my birth control)

with pickin so artful it reminds them they are human

and they danced once

and wouldn’t it be nice

if we could all break open a little, together

and maybe then Trayvon could come back too

and ever so briefly

the words would stop

and we would just feel

the space

between

us

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Filed under Americana, basic goodness, bluegrass, Peace, poetry, Poets, stories

The Car that Brought You Here Still Runs, Most Days

The poet Richard Hugo, who grew up in this neighborhood when it was still filled with woods, once wrote:

The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it’s mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall

the lines are from the poem “degrees of grey in phillipsburg”
i sipped espresso earlier and wanted to write my own degrees of grey
the baby loaded canned food into a miniature stroller
and trucked around the house
i thought maybe i’d write after i got some Things done
paid bills, and laughed with the baby as he fed me raisins,
both of us laying on the kitchen floor
talking about birds,
each in our own language.
later i watched a raven alight on a power line in the wind,
then stubbed my toe on a can of tomato paste
scrubbed the diaper bucket
extricated a penny from someone’s tiny cheek
measured our unfinished windows for trim

that night while my husband fed the baby beans and rice
and the rain came down sideways
then paused to let a near full moon glow through wind driven clouds
I heaved opened the garage door
and laid out long pieces of smooth pine on sawhorses
Annie the dog laid by my feet, keeping a close eye on the outside
and i learned how to stain wood.
which turned out to be a much more mindful task than i’d expected
i made mistakes, noticed where i’d applied the stain too heavily
or where the shadow my body threw had fooled me into using too little
i think of my craftsman father while i work,
and Roger Lyons, who built things for his mother in this garage
when they were both old

these boards will become trim around the windows in our bedroom
which is drafty like a barn.
(on cold days we can see our breath before we get out of bed)
Once this piece of land had a barn,
with cows, chickens, pigs, and rabbits.
Annie Lyons raised 6 children in this two bedroom house
which she and her husband purchased at the height of the Great Depression
Maybe she went to church with Richard Hugo’s grandparents,
who raised him
and said little.
Maybe they shopped at the same neighborhood pharmacy
in a brick building that is, most recently, a Cambodian grocery.

i want to write about living in his old neighborhood
and being a waitress whose hair shimmers in the dark of a brewpub
moving in between close tables with a master’s degree
and a grace that she lacks outside of work.
She met ranchers with this kind of grace while doing graduate research in Nevada
men who could shear a sheep without nicking it once,
handling the hundred pound animals like armfuls of silk
who became all knees and scuffed boots in the kitchen.
she is a waitress who ten years ago kept the phone numbers men left
never intending to call a single one of them
just quietly flattered because she never thought anyone would find her beautiful
Now she knows the truth:
every waitress in the history of waitresses
has been loved for the duration of a meal
by lonely hearted diners
who coudln’t help but
“instantly feel a tender regard for her” as Abbey wrote.

I want to write about the timeless poetry of the unrequited waitress crush
and the quiet satisfaction of knowing that someone is a little awed
every time you hoist a tray to your shoulder
and take the stairs
but first i need to wash every dish we own
the baby is wearing soft pajamas with nonslip feet
and stacking blocks while the dog watches with her head cocked.
i am listening to ambient unclassifiable music that claims to be
moody and dynamic instrumental indie rock
or something
ought to drink tea now
but my espresso percolator is calling darkly to me from the burner
stained by a thousand rounds over the heat
handle missing, angular spout pointing toward an empty mug.

the car that brought us here still runs
most days
although the return of the check engine light is as certain as the oncoming fall.

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Filed under Assata and Annie, autumn weather, basic goodness, Family, motherhood, on writing, Ordinary, poetry, Poets, waitressing, watching it all go by

October now, up north and Here.

october eveningtime

cooler this evening
than its been
guess its October now
i eat handfuls of popcorn
dusted with nutritional yeast
and crunch on apples Ma brought back from visiting her sister in the Methow
read Robert Sund poems
and make faces at the baby
who is three months old now
and more himself every day

up north,
they are harvesting potatoes
digging them from the dark alluvial Skagit dirt
with rotating metal tines
from which they fall by the dozens
into the backs of trucks
red purple yukon gold russet brown
other farmers are baling hay
while herons look on from culverts
i know because i saw them yesterday
driving Best Road with my mother
i know because I’ve seen them a thousand times

My husband’s coming home late,
after a teacher’s union meeting
i sip tea from a small pot
and tuck my toes under our soft white dog
the baby makes sounds to himself
and kicks the blanket off
i tuck it back over his legs
and listen to a fire truck leave the station across the street
the dogs bark at the sound
the baby stares at his fingers
and quietly laces them together
surprising me with his dexterity
When my husband gets home,
he lets the dogs out
and cooler air floods in
like a sudden river.

moon rising over Cultus Mt, Skagit Valley. photo by my Momma, Theresa.

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Filed under autumn weather, basic goodness, Homeland, memory, poetry, Poets, watching it all go by

a laundry list of inspiring bits.

Travels with Owl, a new blog from Samantha Claire…

There are days when OWL naps beautifully, his mouth relaxingly puckered in sleep as he ghost-feeds, perfect child’s pose.  I shower.  I meditate.  Wash the remaining breakfast dishes.  He awakens in giggles and I find him surrounded by books he’s pulled off the shelf that’s bolted to the wall of his walk-in-closet-turned-bedroom.  We walk slowly & deliberately to the grocery store, cook dinner, and dance to Leonard Cohen or Dolly Parton, his tiny feet on my mine as we move slowly & deliberately, mindfully & with love.  We hike & camp.  Ride the buses & trains.  He loads the dryer while I fish for quarters.  He says noodle and turtle and thank you.  And it really cannot get any better that.

Pearl Nelson, a Mississippi White Trash Girl, a collection of poetry and musings from Pearl Nelson….

(from “Walking in the dark around the pond”)

I wonder aloud if the raccoons and deer
and all the other song-less creatures
wish everyone would just shut up.
Not me. I especially love the frogs
who bleat like newborn lambs.
and the old grandmother crickets with
rusty worn out summer voices. And you
when you tell me about your day.

Turning the Mind into an Ally, a book by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

What we call ‘war’ is a series of calamities arising from beliefs and opinions, which are always subject to change. What we call ‘peace’ is the absence of aggression, a tenuous state. When it is winter, summer no longer exists. We organize our life around the concept of a solid self in a solid world, even though all of it is simply ideas and forms coming in and out of existence, like thousands of stars flickering in the night. … Contemplating impermanence can be a liberating experience, one that brings both sobriety and joy. In essence, we become less attached. We realize we can’t really have anything. We have money and then its gone; we have sadness and then its gone. No matter how we want to cling to our loved ones, by nature every relationship is a meeting and a parting. This doesn’t mean we have less love. It means we have less fixation, less pain. …We’ve learned to look at what’s in front of us. 149-50.

From my garden

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Filed under art, artists, autumn weather, basic goodness, Change, Dharma, Garden, gratitude, Laundry List of Inspiring Bits, love, meditation, Ordinary, outside, Peace, photographs, poetry, Poets, Shambhala Buddhism, watching it all go by