Thursday, December 24, 2009

Haiku #252

In the parking lot--
snow in a neat mound on the
bumper of our truck

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Haiku #251

Snow falls so
ice hits my face and melts
I am not alone


1. Have finished a great semester teaching courses that I love: fiction workshop, Modern Poetry, Native American Lit, Creative Writing Thesis class.

2. Subscribed to a new magazine of poetry: Rattle. I highly recommend it. Reasonable price, no ads, page after page of great poems.

3. Wrote a few poems myself.

4. Been reading a book about koans. Enlightening!

5. Been thinking a lot about my trip out West this summer. I want to go back.

6. Been thinking about my friend, Dawn, who just had surgery. Get well, Dawn.

7. Been thinking about friends and students, old and new.

8. Made Allen a very good stew!

9. Been enjoying the snowfall. We went out yesterday to eat and to get groceries. We picked up some five dollar movies and watched one of them in the wee hours of the morning, a movie based on a Fante novel: Ask the Dust.

10. Been sleeping late: always a treat. Drinking coffee with a spot of brandy. It's all good.

Monday, December 14, 2009

When You Least Expect It

Sometimes writing happens when you least expect it. I took a long bath tonight and reread The Essential Haiku (ed. Robert Hass). My reading gave me the idea to try something. (I seem to always get my best ideas in the bathtub).

When I got out of the tub, I grabbed my little journal and wrote a brand new poem based loosely on the Renga form. Then I rewrote an impromptu poem I'd done when I was in California recently, again loosely adopting the Renga form. I was very happy with the results!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Goodbye, Lolita

Photo taken in late summer. She'd followed me out to the Airstream.
Lolita, a.k.a. Teater-t0ts, a.k.a. Six-Teaters, died today, apparently peacefully in her sleep. We found her atop a sleeping bag in the shop, still soft and still warm. She came to us as a kitten, a stray, so small she slept in my husband's shoe. She's buried in the field, where she loved to walk with us in the evenings.

Haiku #250

Water pot sizzles
at five in the morning
atop the woodstove

Haiku #249

Here in Ohio
coyote sings in the light
from my small window

Haiku #248

A bright patch of sky
comes this way across the field
Look! the trees are white!

Haiku #247

morning of first snow
pecking cat food in blue bowl
two clear-eyed sparrows

Monday, November 30, 2009

Haiku #246

The dogs return home
covered in ashes and blood
this November night

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Keeping the Light On

I know most people my age remember that Motel 6 commercial about keeping the light on. I took this photo yesterday evening after sunset. I was struck by how small our house looked from the field. It just doesn't take much distance to make your life seem like an insignificant speck, but the light made my own life seem welcoming.

It's also nice to be able to walk the back field and know that although I'm far from home, I'm not lost. There's a light to get me there.

The Far Field

I went on a walk through our field yesterday and snapped this photo. You can see the Airstream. And you can see our house and garage further back.

My previous photos were so green. The field was full of grasshoppers and other insects. The thistle was just shedding its blooms and there were wild berries still, for the birds to peck at.

I've been working on the second Floreta story tonight. It is shaping up, but the drafting has been slow. After three hours, I only have three good pages. I have lots to pull from in the early drafts, though. It's not like I'm really starting over.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Floreta Stories

I'll call them my Floreta stories. That's the main character. The first Floreta story was completed a few weeks ago. The second story went haywire but I think it's found its feet now, just this afternoon.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

I Wanted to Sit Down, But Didn't

I have a bad habit.

I leave drawers and cabinets open. I'm especially bad about this in the kitchen when I'm cooking. "For convenience," I say. When I need something else from the cabinent, then it's easier to get to. I don't have to touch the cabinent doors with my flour-dusted hands.

Harder to fathom is why I leave my dresser drawers open. Sometimes I'm very good and close my dresser drawers. I feel good about myself when I do that. But lately I've been falling back into the habit of leaving them open.

I have the same dresser I used as a child. The dresser has traveled with me to many homes. I'd have to think for a while to remember how many. Poor Allen, he has carried the weight of that dresser so many times. It's a very nice wooden dresser. I remember my mother picking it out for me. We were standing next to the set in a furniture store. (Allen uses the chest of drawers from the set). The chest of drawers was taller than I was. Back then the furniture seemed massive and mysterious. For some reason I remember the salesman telling my mother it was made of "fruitwood."

Tonight as I was dressing to go out to eat with Allen, I glanced at the floor, looking for my boots. And I saw that my bottom right drawer was open.

Allen and I recently rearranged our bedroom and moved the dresser. The right side of the right drawer used to face a wall. Now it's exposed. The bedroom light was shining on it. The side of the drawer was scribbled with crayons.

It struck me that my one of my boys had done that, when he was little. In a moment of perfect joy, he had decorated mommy's dresser drawer. That was a different life. That was my life as a mother of little boys. I hadn't thought about that for a while. My boys have been grown now, since forever.

I wanted to sit down for just a minute, but I didn't.

I hope I didn't reprimand him for doing that back then--in my long-ago life as the mother of little boys. Because now I think the crayon marks are the best thing about that dresser. The very, very best thing.

Found Poems, Stories, Thanksgiving

I just found this poem today and really like it:

In the Orchard

'I thought you loved me.' 'No, it was only fun.'
'When we stood there, closer than all?' 'Well, the harvest moon
Was shining and queer in your hair, and it turned my head.'
'That made you?' 'Yes.' 'Just the moon and the light it made
Under the tree?' 'Well, your mouth, too.' 'Yes, my mouth?'
'And the quiet there that sang like the drum in the booth.
You shouldn't have danced like that.' 'Like what?' 'So close,
With your head turned up, and the flower in your hair, a rose
That smelt all warm.' 'I loved you. I thought you knew
I wouldn't have danced like that with any but you.'
'I didn't know, I thought you knew it was fun.'
'I thought it was love you meant.' 'Well, it's done.' 'Yes, it's done.
I've seen boys stone a blackbird, and watched them drown
A kitten... it clawed at the reeds, and they pushed it down
Into the pool while it screamed. Is that fun, too?'
'Well, boys are like that... Your brothers...' 'Yes, I know.
But you, so lovely and strong! Not you! Not you!'
'They don't understand it's cruel. It's only a game.'
'And are girls fun, too?' 'No, still in a way it's the same.
It's queer and lovely to have a girl...' 'Go on.'
'It makes you mad for a bit to feel she's your own,
And you laugh and kiss her, and maybe you give her a ring,
But it's only in fun.' 'But I gave you everything.'
'Well, you shouldn't have done it. You know what a fellow thinks
When a girl does that.' 'Yes, he talks of her over his drinks
And calles her a--' 'Stop that now, I thought you knew.'
'But it wasn't with anyone else. It was only you.'
'How did I know? I thought you wanted it too.
I thought you were like the rest. Well, what's to be done?'
'To be done' 'Is it all right?' 'Yes.' 'Sure?' 'Yes, but why?'
'I don't know, I thought you where going to cry.
You said you had something to tell me.' 'Yes, I know.
It wasn't anything really... I think I'll go.'
'Yes, it's late. There's thunder about, a drop of rain
Fell on my hand in the dark. I'll see you again
At the dance next week. You're sure that everything's right?'
'Yes,' 'Well, I'll be going.' 'Kiss me...' 'Good night.' ... 'Good night.'

Muriel Stuart

I'm disappointed in myself that it's been so many days since I last posted to this blog. Been so busy. And tired as a result. I've been to California teaching workshops at Esalen, then teaching, then working on my other blog, The Letter Project. I'm planning something special there for November 12 but it has required some preparation.

I reread my most recent finished story last night. I was afraid I would find it to be terrible, but it isn't terrible (I was relieved), it's very good. It's slightly different from anything I've ever written. I like that. I'm growing.

I've bogged down in the second story; I think I lost my momentum when I had to prepare for the California trip. I'm looking forward to getting back to it soon.

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving...good food, family, time to collect thoughts. Lots to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Brenda Ueland, bless her old soul, speaks of the necessity of the writer for what she called "moodling." She meant slowing your pace, diddling around, until you find the origin of your inner resources. It's a concept tailor made for me.

My mind catches fire, but not before lots of poking around in the ashes, searching for embers.

I came to this blog three times already, trying to think of something to say. Then moodled around on the computer while listening to music. Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" was playing as I read a status update from Amy Newman, a fine poet I met when she was a visiting writer at BGSU. She wrote of October and how we can't trust its pretty days.

That prompted me to find an October poem, and I stumbled on this one by Frost:

by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes' sake along the all.

What is left for me to say, except Frost has said it all, bundled all my perceptions of October and presented them to me as a gift. "Make the day seem to us less brief," he writes. October does remind us there is no forever.

Nothing profound from me here. Just moodling.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What I did today

1. Last night in bed watched a pretty good Hitchcock thriller called Jamaica Inn
2. Went out to eat with Allen today.
3. Cleaned and arranged the front room to be my art studio.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The rest of the evening

1. Cooked a simple supper for Allen and me.
2. Took a very long bath during which time I got all kinds of new ideas for the story I'm currently working on. I had a pencil beside the tub but no notepad, so I wrote the notes inside a book. How confused the next owner of this book will be upon seeing scrawled on the page "About the author."

Rain, rain, rain

Nepenthe-why not eat alone

At window > was the meal so bad at Mex?

eating-Totem pole

in shower-Wash Willy

> Mirror Lake

basin > connect to Ohio River

A very good day

Had a very good day yesterday. I slept in--always a pleasure--and spent the afternoon thinking about and planning a letter to Lauren Carpenter. She was a student in many of my classes at BGSU and now has graduated.

Tomorrow the letter will be sent and it will give me so much pleasure,thinking of it making its way to her new apartment in Columbus, of her getting out of bed or coming home from work and finding it waiting for her in her mailbox.

As soon as she receives it and has a few days to take it in, I'll post it here and also at The Letter Project. I think what is in it might benefit others.

Lauren is fast becoming my muse!

Lauren has also mentioned that she'll be sending me a new letter soon. Since I started The Letter Project, my mailbox has been an exciting place again.

Watching the movie Bright Star, I was experiencing Fanny's excitement at receiving a letter in the mail. To hold an envelope in your hands with your name on it, to pause and wonder what is inside: it is better than Christmas, for we can offer this pleasure many times throughout the year, if only we would take the time.

It's so good to look forward to a real letter. As I once mentioned in a letter to my friend, Beth, letters are "fossils of feeling." This letter is at The Letter Project, too. Speaking of Beth, I wonder what has become of her? I think marital bliss has absorbed her or consumed her. I hope she's happy!

Yesterday, I also combed through my new story and made some changes. I made some decisions about how to proceed. I must teach tomorrow but then I have another long weekend to work on it. I don't know when I've been more happy about the way my writing is going. These stories just feel right. I am folding them into the material from the novel. I think it is--at last--the real story that I want to tell. What a confusing process it has been, finding my way into the river novel. So many times I've thought I had the answer, only to have the narrative bog down after 100 or so pages. I think I have found the power of the narrative now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What I did today

1. I slept very late.
2. I had coffee with lots of cream.
3. I stayed in my pajamas all day.
4. We had a simple supper of beans and cornbread.
5. I wrote a letter to a friend.
6. I started a new story.
7. I worked on the novel.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What I did today

1. I slept late.
2. I had coffee with lots of cream.
3. I stepped outside this evening at about 5:30 and saw a large group of buzzards flying south. I've never before seen so many buzzards in the air; there must have been more a hundred. They were moving very slowly. Perhaps they are leaving us now, before the cold weather arrives.
4. I went out to Rudy's and had a Molson.
5. I looked at books at Books-a-Million and didn't buy anything.
6. I went with Allen to see Bright Star at Levis Commons. A triumph of a movie for Jane Campion.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Haiku #245

misty rain that makes no sound
speaks from inside my own bones

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What We Found

It was getting near sunset this evening when I told Allen I was going to walk the trails in our field. He'd just taken the mower down there and they were fresh-cut. He decided to come along and so did the dogs.

About a third of the way down, we heard Uno, one of our cats wailing, trying to find us. We stopped and called to him and he came bounding to us through the weeds. He's just a beautiful black and white cat. He was just a kitten when we first moved here. We used to walk the field then, too, with his mother, an all black cat, and other strays that we adopted.

I picked Uno up and carried him, which is what he wanted. He frequently follows us to the mailbox for the same purpose. He will keep cutting in front of us until we give him a ride back to the house. He brother, Dozer, was like this, too.

Allen used to pick Dozer up and put him inside the hood of his jacket and carry him that way. Dozer has been dead a long time. He was killed out on our highway. So was their brother, Spotty. Uno and Stinky (his sister) are the only two left of a once-thriving family of cats.

The field is so beautiful right now. The white of the Queen Anne's lace has given way to yellows and purples. Once in a while, during our walk in the field, I'd have to shift Uno from one arm to another, as he's a pretty heavy cat. His claws would dig into me because he thought I was going to put him down. He didn't want that.

We were on the last leg of the trail when I looked down and saw something white, a skull. It was recently cracked, probably by the mower wheel. "What is it?" I asked Allen. But as soon as he turned it over, I knew.

"It's a cat," he said.

Two of ours had disappeared this summer.

Uno jumped from my arms and smelled the skull. Then he sat there next to it, looking. We started walking again but he stayed there. I turned frequently to look back at him. Each time I looked, I saw him sitting completely still, just looking the skull.

One of the cats that disappeared this summer was his mother.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Website

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Haiku #244

late summer crickets
make perfect sound of December
sleigh bells just listen

Haiku #243

Tired? Don't go to bed
go outside make a fire against
the darkness instead

Haiku #242

Newly mown field green
smelling sweet four buzzards circle
eyes to the ground

Page a day: Ikkyu

Sweet Pea in her new water vest.
(A humorous take on Ikkyu)

I'm alive! right? don't we say that?
we don't see the bones we walk on

Haiku #241

Seagulls fly over the Maumee

I took this photo with my old point and shoot camera. I wished I had my SLR with me because there was a moment when the scene was all birds, wing tip to wing tip. By the time the point and shoot got fired up, the most beautiful part of the show was over.

Late summer we ready

our boat on shore a crow laughs

at us from his tree

Friday, September 11, 2009

Page a day: Ikkyu

pleasure pain are equal in a clear heart
no mountain hides the moon--Ikkyu

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Haiku #240

Autumn grasshoppers
jump away in waves this one lands
in my cupped hand

Finished, or almost

Finished, or almost finished, an essay I was working on tonight. I'll let it set a few days and see. I know where I'd like to submit it; they aren't accepting new submissions until the 15th anyway, so there's time to spare.

Page a day: Ikkyu

Tonight I was able to just catch the moon as it was rising over the airstream.

night after night after night stay up all night
nothing but your own night --Ikkyu

Friday, September 04, 2009

Page a day: Ikkyu

Inside the Airstream. Through an opening in the screen door.

if there's nowhere to rest at the end
how can I get lost on the way?

Page a day: Ikkyu

I've been trying to read one page a day of Ikkyu's poems, but they so often stop me because I can't quit thinking about one before going to the next. I could only manage to read one tonight:

don't hesitate get laid that's wisdom
sitting around chanting what crap

Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Short Story

I didn't get a chance to go out to the Airstream today, but I did surprise myself by writing a piece of sudden fiction from start to finish. That hardly ever happens for me, but the material is some I've had around for a while. I used snippets of journal notes and pieces of letters and even incorporated a thought encountered in an essay by D. H. Lawrence. (I typed a draft first, then I rewrote the story by hand, adding and moving paragraphs around. Then I typed the finished draft.)

Proof that writing does come together when you diligently make pieces as often as you can and when you live for the opportunity of piecing parts of life together in exciting ways. This one's ready to submit and I've already decided where it's going. Wish it well as it goes its way to cold editor's eyes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today when I walked out to the Airstream to do some writing, I was moved to take this picture. I don't know when I've seen a prettier Ohio sky. The ritual of walking out to the trailer and spending time alone there, writing, is working. The pages are piling up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Haiku #239

Forget guilt
Give me the irreverence
of Ikkyu

Haiku #238

Wanting ice cream
I ate fruit instead I still
wanted ice cream


My name is Alexander.
I live in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
I think it's enough for the beginning.

First Day of Class

Today a new student
stopped by my desk after class and
asked me if I am a healer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Phoku 2

The story is in one cat's stretch to be the first at the bowl, the other waiting her turn.

The Writing Place III

Good things are happening in The Writing Place. I've written the equilivant of 25 typed pages in the Airstream since we pulled it back into the field. Top secret, what I'm working on.

A Writing Place II

Two cats on the pathway leading to the new writing place.

A Writing Place

The writing place, nestled between firs we planted when we first moved here, ten years ago.
Inside the Airstream, my new writing place. Sandals kicked off.

I've missed being out West and in nature. So Allen pulled our old Airstream trailer back into the field so I could use it to get away, be alone, and hear nature sounds. I take a paper journal with me, and I do find it easier to write there. It was cool today. I left the door open, and closed the screen only when I needed to keep the cats out. It makes for a neat little hideaway and a very good alternative to going camping. I'm going to chronical my treks out to my trailer in photographs. Here are the first ones.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Haiku #237

My husband hauled three large boxes of National Geographics home from an auction where they were about to be thrown out. Night after night we worked our way through the boxes until one evening he happened upon an issue about extinctions. Steller's sea cow was mentioned. It was a toothless, docile animal that fed on kelp.

"I used to read an essay with my students many years ago about the extinction of Steller's sea cow," I said, remembering how the male drove himself like an arrow upon the shore upon seeing its mate being butchered." I told my husband about this.

He looked sad for a moment. We were both completely still. Then his face brightened and he asked me what the Steller's sea cow must have "said" upon seeing what was happening to his mate. "Stella!" he hastened to reply. "Stella!" he said again. We didn't laugh, but now we were able to continue our lives together.

On a still evening
melancholy is dispelled
by a silly joke

Haiku #236

Oh, butterfly wears a
faded shabby coat this late
in her summer life

Haiku #235

Buzzard holds herself
steady against the white sky
in hot gusty wind

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Haiku #234

How astonishing
to be regarded by her:
praying mantis

This evening I walked our field. Allen has mowed paths through the heavy brush, thistle and wild raspberry, blackberry. I took the camera with me so that I would get some practice. I hoped I would find suitable subjects. I snapped a rusty farm implement, a dragonfly, milkweed, a few insects. I felt little excitement. Then I spied this praying mantis and stepped closer to photograph her. I was looking through the macro lens and suddenly the mantis turned her head and looked directly at me. In that moment, the mantis ceased to be merely a photographic subject and became a consciousness. I was enlightened.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where Water Spouts are Born

"Where Water Spouts are Born."
Allen went to an auction the other day and got three big boxes of National Geographics that were going to be thrown away. We decided we would each take one issue (chosen at random by the other person) and try to make a collage using at least 4 images. We only had two hours total to finish the collage. This is what I came up with.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Haiku #233

Who does he think he is
crow strolling in pink plastic pool
child's toys all around

Haiku #232

No crops in my field.
Grasshoppers, wild raspberries--
this field is alive!

Haiku #231

Food untouched
Black cat never returning
only the flies eat

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Haiku #230

I just remembered --
why is a small mystery--
child-mate, Kenji Horn

Haiku #229

Old Tibetan flag...
race in the wind little strings
each a silent prayer

Haiku #228

The poet James Wright
drafted some of his great work
in a friend's chicken house

Haiku #227

Mailbox is open
Is there a tongue hanging out?
Its mouth is empty!

Haiku #226

Cricket in closet
keeps asking how much longer
this summer will last

Haiku #225

My bones ache for sleep
but what the cats now wish for
is water and food

Haiku #224

We leave an echo
of ourselves wherever we go.
I hear someone else now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Phoku #1

The macro (100 mm) lens arrived today for my new camera and just before supper I stepped outside to try it out. From the first shot I knew this is going to be my favorite lens and that these are the kind of photos that are going to generate the most excitement in me.

It just felt right--this is my medium, this lens.

I couldn't get the dogs to stay still, but our cat Uno jumped onto an old chair and looked at me. I focused on his face and suddenly he broke out into a yawn and I snapped.

I'm calling it a Phoku. I'm going to work at capturing moments that convey something, an emotion, a truth, an insight.

What I like about this phoku, what tells the story, is the juxtaposition of the sharp fangs and the missing tooth. One sees that a cat is to be reckoned with, but there is such a heartbreaking vulnerability in that missing tooth!

A New Poetry

I have bought a new camera with all kinds of capability (the question: am I capable?) I want to use the camera lens to make a new (for me) kind of poetry. I am just a beginner and expect to make lots of bad pictures. As soon as I have some decent examples I'll begin posting them.

I also want to cut some photographs for use in collages. I'll use others as a reference for drawings.

It feels good to be thinking about visual art. Hopefully this will not distract me from my writing but keep my mind alive for writing.

FYI: It is a Canon 50D. It is a digital SLR camera. In design it bears some resemblance to Allen's old 35 mm Nikon.

I used the Nikon a little bit years ago, but film and developing were expensive for us and I didn't feel like I had much opportunity for experimentation or even learning. Now when I make a horrible picture, I can just delete it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Haiku #223

I'm listening
this morning but where
is my cricket now?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Haiku #222

I just noticed
the summer cricket singing
outside my window

Haiku #221

Many circling birds
form a halo over your arms,
Old Tree

Monday, August 10, 2009

Haiku #220

This summer afternoon they
reach for a fat blackberry,
purple fingers

Haiku #219

Dragonflies fret
over the milkweed
this summer day

Haiku #218

Process is more
important than product
in the face of chaos

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Accidental Enlightenment

I was sorting through some books tonight because I want to make a special shelf for my books on Haiku and related subjects, such as Zen. I ran across my little edition of Zen stories called Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Always a favorite of mine, it nevertheless had not been looked at in some time by me. I opened to a random page and read:

A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: "Have you ever read the Christian Bible?"

"No, read it to me," said Gasan.

The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew. "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ... Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."

Gasan said: "Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man."

The student continued reading: "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened."

Gasan remarked: "That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood."

Then, trying to decide where to put There is No Road, a book of poems by Antonio Machado (1875-1939), I opened the book and read:

I love Jesus, who said to us:
Heaven and earth will pass away.
When heaven and earth pass,
my word will remain.
Jesus, what was your word?
Love? Forgiveness? Charity?
All your words were
one word: awareness.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Haiku #217

Empties eternally
blinks inconsolably:
neon coffee cup

Haiku #216

You have no choice
in your life
You always have a choice

Haiku #215

When you dream
do your feet sometimes
leave the ground?

Haiku #214

The passing train sent
them soaring. Now the buzzards
decorate the dead tree.

Haiku #213

the dog does not agonize over
its morning ablutions

Haiku #212

And after every
night of celebrations
the church bells toll

Haiku #211

Is your life as strange
as the stories you made up
when you were a child?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Haiku #210

In your cut-off life
you resemble reptile ancestors,
Little Bird

I was coming back from the mailbox this steamy afternoon, my eyes on the ground and lost in dreamy thought, when I saw this little bird. I don't know how it got there; it wasn't near a tree. I went inside and got my camera. Because I was in such a dreamy state, I didn't think to mark to place, so it took me a while to find the bird again. It was only ten minutes or so, but in that brief time, the body had already changed. It was more limp and the head had fallen into the rocks. I know a lot of people will think it morbid of me to be so fascinated with this dead creature, but I find beauty in it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Novel update

I've been wrestling with this novel so long that it's hard to find new ways of talking about my work on it. Now that my trip is over and I've rested a bit, I'm back on it. I did quite a bit of writing--bits and pieces--on the road, and much of it I feel good about.

When I looked over my drafts, I found them to be cluttery. While I was on the road, I found a voice and method that pleases me. So, yes, I am starting over. Not really starting over because I'm using most of what I've already written. It just needs to be recast in the new voice, style. And of course when you change your voice, your narrator changes, and when your narrator changes, everything does. So it's best just to start fresh.

But I have a new plan. I've figured out that if I write just three to four pages a week, I will have the book finished in a year. I hope to do better than that--finish earlier--but for right now this plan seems possible. Fifty-two weeks times four pages is 208-pages, a good length for a novel and certainly the longest single work I have ever written.

I am off to a good start. I told one of the Graduate Students I taught last fall that my new prose is like fresh, clean sheets snapping on a line just waiting for a reader to take them in, put them on their bed, and warm them with their body.

New goal: By the end of July 2010 have a complete first draft of novel 2 finished.

If I do as well with this goal as I did with the Haiku, I'll be happy. My original goal was to write 100 Haiku in a year. I started last fall and so far have over 200.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Haiku #209

Old Graybeard,
spirit mask:
Bison in snow

Haiku #208

Makes soft clicking sounds
above the geysers:
crow flying

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Haiku #207

The best fry bread
I ever had was made
in Monument Valley

Haiku #206

Bikers have stony
Mount Rushmore faces
in the West

Haiku #205

Men grasp bottles by the neck
to drink beer in the casino
at Cody, Wyoming

Haiku #204

Three blackbirds
ride its back: bison
grazing on the hill

Haiku #203

There's a place at Mammoth
Hot Springs the color of gold--
Touch the water with your hands

Haiku #202

Have you ever
seen a big elk

Haiku #201

Our dogs
chase a ball in mountain snow--
The Cascades in July

Haiku #200

make green mountains blue
near Butte, Montana

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monument Valley: The Navajo Reservation

Through the windshield on the way to Monument Valley.

A roadside stand in Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Brief Internet Access!

Three more photos of Arches. I took this photo at ground-level. I liked the texture of the dry, cracked earth and how it contrasted with the smooth rock in the background.

This photo has a sense of movement, created by the lines in the stone.

I love this photo that I took of Allen. It was overcast at Arches that day. The cloud cover was dramatic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A great place to sit along one of the trails at Arches National Park.
You can barely see me sitting on the rock at the foot of the Arch at Arches National Park.

Between a rock and a hard place at Arches National Park.

Buddha, Sweetpea, and me at the D. H. Memorial and Shrine, San Cristobal, NM.

This is the first time I've had access to the Internet. We've been traveling the Southwest like a lightening bolt--not quickly but in a zig-zag fashion that I like. I don't have much time but wanted to post some photos. I have been soaking it all in and doing much writing and thinking.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Haiku #199

David Carradine
Light's out at seventy-two
Goodbye, Grasshopper

Down and then Up

For the first time in a long time, I went to bed at a reasonable hour, about 11:30. I went right to sleep but woke up at 1:30 and could not go back to sleep. I got up and, looking out the window, was surprised by how lit up the sky is.

I find myself being comforted more and more by thoughts of Basho growing old, setting out on spiritual adventures, and writing haiku.

This may be my last entry for a while, as Allen and I have our own adventure to take.

Be well.

Long having wander'd since, round the earth having wander'd,
Now I face home again, very pleas'd and joyous,
(But where is what I started for so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound?)
--Walt Whitman

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Publication News

I just found out that two of my poems have been accepted at Segue, an online literary journal. It's a beautiful--and useful--journal. I encourage you to check it out.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Going on a trip

Have you ever noticed that when you are planning to go on a trip, things start piling up? Just like today. I am applying for a residency. I have to print out several documents and in the middle of things, I ran out of black ink and don't have a replacement.

And Allen took something out of the library that is now overdue, except we can't find it and he has no idea what it is: It has "seagull" in the title, the library says. Seagull?

And Buddha and Sweet Pea got their shots at the vet, but now we find out that Sweet Pea must get a booster shot on the road in four weeks.

Have I mentioned that we are going West? That I hope to continue my writing practice on the road?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Letter Project

The first letters have been posted at "The Letter Project."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Letter Project

I am starting a new blog that will be filled--I hope--with exceptional correspondence about writing and writers. The blog will be called THE LETTER PROJECT. The project started with an assignment I gave one of my classes, but I want to open the project up to anyone who loves writing and writers. Please consider contributing to this project. Below is a tentative description of the project. Please feel free to pass the information on to others you think might be interested. Thanks.

THE LETTER PROJECT stems from my lifelong love of writing and receiving letters through the mail. I collect authors’ and artists’ letters. One of my favorite collection of letters is the poet James Wright’s. A Wild Perfection shows Wright’s curiosity, struggle, failure, and triumph. As the introduction to the letters states: “As we read these letters, we pull our chairs into the circle and listen to both Wright’s serious and comedic discussions …” I hope this this blog will serve a similar purpose: to bring virtual readers into a circle of sharing.

People express themselves differently in letters than in any other form of writing. It has been said that in letters we find the writer’s soul. That’s why it is so important to keep letter-writing alive. This blog is a repository for actual letters–written and sent. Each letter deals in some way with a literary author or work. It may be an author or work the letter-writer loves, is curious about, or has a sudden insight about.

If you would like to write a letter and have it appear on this blog, here are the things you need to know:

1. You must actually write a letter to a real person. The letter should deal with the following subject matter: a writer or written work that is important to you.

2. You must put that letter into a business-size envelope, address it, and put adequate postage on it. Any letter which is four or more pages long will probably require extra postage.

3. Do not seal the letter. Do not put any objects into the letter, such as jewelry, artwork, or photographs.

4. Put the unsealed, addressed letter into a larger envelope and send to me at: Theresa Williams, Dept. of English, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403.

5. Inside the larger envelope, include a short letter to me in which you say something about yourself, provide snail mail contact information, and provide your e-mail address.

6. After reading your original letter, I will seal and mail it. (It is very important that the letter be in a business-size envelope. Due to new postal regulations, anything larger must be mailed “in person,” and I don’t have time to do more than drop your letter into a mailbox.)

7. Only the best letters will be included on this blog. If I decide to include your letter, you will receive an e-mail from me with comments and further instructions. Even if your letter doesn’t appear on the blog, you still will have done a very important thing.

8. Be sure to keep a copy of your letter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

To Old Chucky

My father-in-law's funeral is today. His name was Charles. He had been ill with cancer for some time and outlived his doctor's prognosis by more than two years. The final two weeks were hard. He died a hard death.

When he was still feeling reasonably well, he told Allen that after he was gone he wanted us to have a glass of wine together. He wanted us to make a toast to him, saying, "To Old Chucky, wherever he is."

He last words to me were that he was ready to go. He also said he wanted Allen and me to enjoy our trip out west this summer.

Those statements were helpful and erased any guilt about going on the trip. The trip out west is something we have dreamed about for a long time. I was thinking the experience might add to the novel I've been working on. I was hoping to work on the novel "on the road."

It is hard on a man, losing his father. Allen said that taking care of his father during the last days was a spiritual experience. He said he wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience. He also said no one could pay him a million dollars to do it again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Up All Night

Third time sending to blog from WinJournal. It seems to be working fine. Have been up all night writing. It went very well. J

Monday, May 18, 2009


Rondel of Merciless Beauty

Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene;
Straight through my heart the wound is quick and keen.

Only your word will heal the injury
To my hurt heart, while yet the wound is clean -
Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene.

Upon my word, I tell you faithfully
Through life and after death you are my queen;
For with my death the whole truth shall be seen.
Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene;
Straight through my heart the wound is quick and keen.

Geoffrey Chaucer

Played with the dogs at dusk

This is my second attempt to publish to my blog from my WinJournal Software. I thought this software would be good when:

1. I am traveling with my laptop and don't have access to the Internet. I can make entries and then add them to my blog when I return.

2. I am working on the novel. I thought it might help me to stay organized, since WinJournal has features that Word doesn't have.


Boston Terriers have a LOT of energy. I went outside with them at dusk to throw one of their favorite toys for a game of fetch. It is a blue ring. Sweet Pea does not drool, but Buddha does. He always brings his toys to you all slimy. Between the slippery toy and my poor throwing arm, they weren't getting much exercise. Then I got an idea to use a wooden stick. I put the ring over the tip of the stick and I threw the ring by slinging the stick. I played with them until it was too dark for them to find the toy anymore.

I have been working with the novel by integrating parts of it into my journaling software as entries. So far I am enjoying the process. For some reason it is more inviting to write on the software than it is to use Word. I can then save my entries to Word.

5/18/2009 10:03 PM
This is my first attempt at exporting an entry from my journaling software (WinJournal) to my blog.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I watched the movie Northfork again today.

"And in that journey of dying, you see many things. But all of the issues I had are past, because I was to be a witness, a helper. And that is the thing I think is important about death, is the ability for us to be witnesses, not only for a person coming in, but of going out. And that is what we have here–we’ve lost our time, it’s gone. But maybe there is a birth someplace else. Maybe there is a blessing from that experience. I’m no longer afraid of death; but it’s a lesson that has taken me sixty years to learn." (Father Harlan, Northfork)

Friday, May 15, 2009



They come in and out
through the day,
most of it is just big
Hello's, It's so good
to see you's, and "You're
so lucky to have
this time--s0 unexpected--
here at the end.
I will pray for you!"

"Yes, I know, yes!"

"There are reasons
for staying and
reasons for leaving:
it is all pre-planned,

They do it as easy
as breeze blowing
through trees.
It is so tiring to watch.

Haiku #198

I get little sleep
I know this letter is weak:
deathbed thoughts

Haiku #197

After the wine, stand still.
A door will open, leading
to the light on the porch

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Haiku by Basho

Seen in plain daylight
the firefly's nothing but
an insect

Don't You Know

The PAD CHALLENGE is over, but I found this prompt at Poetic Asides. Robert offers a prompt each Wednesday.


Don't you know how hard it is to write
when you are alone with two Boston
Terriers? When the husband is away
caring for his dying father and the
dogs who love your husband so are in
pain for his leaving and follow you
everywhere about the house?

One curls on top of your discarded
clothes while you are bathing,
one barks at the door at every sound.
They are like four-legged children,
so lonely and looking for solace and love.

Why do we keep animals with us?
We struggle, driven by human needs
that in retrospect seem worthless.
I write this poem now with a dog in
my lap. I write; she sleeps.
It is the spirit of the animal
that I communicate with now.

Don't you know?
I am the lost one.
She knows who and what she is.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Haiku #196

Rainy tires swish
outside on highway six--
I have nowhere to go

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Haiku #195

Robin's shadow
passes over sunny grass
this spring day

Haiku #194

A buzzard soaring
over electrical lines
out toward the field

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I am amazed by how well my writing went today. Not that I produced a lot of pages, but my writing is so measured, so sure. I really have to give a lot of credit to the April PAD Challenge. I'm able to use some of those poems as springboards, as new forms by which to shape my material. Very exciting.

It's chilly in the house. Allen is making a fire. I think I'll make us some hot tea.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Back to the Novel

Some exciting days of writing are ahead for me. Today I have been working at incorporating new ideas into the manuscript I started at Provincetown last summer. I am setting a new tentative goal of finishing the first draft of this novel this summer.

Writing the poetry this academic year--and especially during April --has helped me to find my way with language, metaphor, and thought. I can't wait to see what happens!

Thursday, April 30, 2009


The last prompt: "Farewell"

We are the ones
who say goodbye to all that,
the latest stomach aches
from eating too many sweets,
blood on our calves
from walking through briars in the field,
the lonely echoes and dead sparks
inside these bodies we live in.
Goodbye to all that.
We are so alive and so afriad

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Prompt: "Never"

Never think of prayer
as an obligation.
Pray to your confusion.
Ask that you not be felled
by sinister thoughts
of obliteration.
Pray not to become,
only to be.
The world is visible.
Pray to see.


Prompt: "Sestina"


If you love me, send me to Avalon
Send me, else my spirit go down
Send me, knowing I’ll never come back
If you love me, let my body be forgotten
Let it be the empty space in all your houses
If you love me, send me to the land of apples

All life begins with the taste of apples
They grow no better than at Avalon
From their taste grow the strongest houses
Houses in which we will never fall down
In which the best in us is never forgotten
Spirit made of apples has the strongest back

For my journey I will stiffen this human back
Already in my mouth is the taste of apples
Spirit red, spirit green and gold, never forgotten
I’ll find my spirit in the orchards of Avalon
And there I’ll freely tear my body down
I must make space for the spirit houses

I want to live in the spirit houses
Send me, I want to never look back
The body does what it does, goes down
The body falls like the ripe apples
Fall in the land of Avalon
Where spirit is not forgotten

What I really am, you’ve already forgotten
My spirit has had no place in your houses
If you love me, let me go to Avalon
If you love me, let me go back
I know I can only live with apples
Let me go before my spirit falls down

Already my spirit is falling down
But something in me hasn’t forgotten
My tongue still remembers the taste of apples
In dreams I look out windows of spirit houses
If you love me, let me go back
Back to apples and back to Avalon

I will journey to Avalon and be light as down
I won’t be back; I’m glad my body will be forgotten
Give me spirit houses, give me the sharp taste of apples.


Prompt: "Longing"

The cafe,six in the morning.
He tears toast into tiny pieces.
When somebody
else comes in, he looks up
from his plate.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Prompt: "Miscommunication"

It was Fall semester, near
Christmas, and the rain
was turning to icethat was going tick-tick-
tick on the windows.

He was telling me about the day
his dog was hit by a car
and the dog was not
dead, but suffering.
I only wanted to get home,
which was forty miles
away on country roads
untouched by salt
trucks or plows.

He was telling me how he
had to do the manly thing.
Only now do I realize the
importance of the story.
He had taken the gun from its
proper place.
The dog could not have understood
what this farm boy
was there to do.

He was there to shoot her,
he was telling me, and she licked his damned hand.
We say our animals understand us.
She could not have understood
why the gun was about to go off, and
it was because he loved her.
I only wanted to go home.
Ice hit the windows.
For a moment that was the only sound.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Prompt: "Event"


Our lives are important.

We cannot predict tomorrows or todays.

Our condition is a cosmic tragedy and
cannot be improved.

Our lives are hideous and amazing.

We cannot be giving away our hearts just
to be stepped on.

Our lives are too short.

The easiest way to find something you
have lost is to buy a new one.

Our lives are changed forever.

We cannot be giving away...
We cannot be giving away...

Our lives are ours alone.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Prompt: "Travel"

I won't be posting my poem for April 24 here or at Facebook. It is too closely related to the work I'm doing on my novel and I'm not ready to make it completely public yet.


Prompt: "Regret"

I used to speak of them
as though I was the lucky one,
the one who survived nine months
in the mother's belly,
the one who lived to eat
chocolate, have sex before
marriage, marry, and have children
of my own who I imagined would
be tiny replicas of myself.

My absent siblings never died;
they were lives which
never happened.
When did that change?
When did I give each a face?
One a sister
who would have saved me
the other a brother
who would have sent roses
on my birthday

There's a wound now,
and luck has nothing to
do with my life.
Now I must learn
to live without them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Prompt: "Work"

is when my goatish self
becomes my sleek cat self
no more nibbling at garbage and grass...
night work is blood work.


Prompt: "Write a Haiku"

Deer standing in field--
I long to touch it, but why?
Way to forgiveness.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Prompt: "Rebirth Poem"

should be easy to write
but not today
when I am undone
by the simplest thing:
It's raining, the
car won't start,
and I've someplace
important to go.

My husband
tells me each disaster
is simply the price
for breathing.

It's April,
the same month
my mother died.
It was ten years ago.
When they told me
I noticed the
trees were just
getting their leaves.
I remember thinking,
She would have liked this.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Prompt: "Anger/Angry poem"

Anger should not rule us.
Let Death rule.
Go to a junk yard or cemetery
& resurrect.
Fill the sky with lightness,
wise Knights in rusty armor,
little animals that
tunnel in the dark,
lips & eyes, lungs breathing
ever more gently.

(I think when I revise this I may say "little animals that tunnel patiently in the dark)

Mr. Toad-4

Mr. Toad-3

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mr. Toad-2

Mr. Toad

I had fun taking photos of this toad that Allen fished out of the pond for me. I have a cheap digital camera, so I was happy this one turned out so well.
Pimpled knot of skin.
Nostrils blinking like eyes.
I turn you over
& you play dead--
belly like cornmeal.
Webbed feet
in an attitude of prayer.


Prompt: "Interaction"

We no longer have the old gods
to birth us to wonder.
Movie characters change us in small ways.
We cry in the dark where no one sees us.

Give us the being of pure light
who will visit us from a star unknown
become like us, suffer the needs this body has
for sex and Dutch apple pie.

We seem to have the galaxy to ourselves.
When the beloved dies there are no second chances.


Prompt: "All I Want Is..."

is to sit in my yard today and every day
watch the cats go down to the pond one
by one to take a drink.

All I want is to walk past the brown
leaves collected in the old glass
bowl left outside the door this winter
hear the blackbird on the limb
ruffle its feathers and call
hear the other one answer
from a far part of the yard

All I want is to be there when the frogs
let loose the whirring in their throats
and then stay silent a long time
turn and see my husband looking at me
say to him I'm not much to look at
hear him say Speak for yourself
say You're stuck with me
hear him say That's music to my ears
Peel an orange
throw the rind by the busy
mound of ants

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Prompt: "color"

I'm seeing red today
my father in a southern springtime
raking and burning
deadfall from the pines
a huge red ring of fire
blackening the earth.
Our kitten runs to him
jumps the flames
loses all
whiskers in that bold action.
I think of that kitten
whenever there's something hard
I must do
and my father raking his
piece of ground
the red ring around him
getting bigger, spreading
out to burn the world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Today's prompt: change up the title of a published poem.

Someone has left for me,
wrapped in a brown paper sack
on which my name is written
in blue,
a gift--
the Journals of Dan Eldon.
Inside is an unsigned note
saying, Come let us
explore and record, with
the eyes of a child,
horror, irony, traces of
paradise, traces of hell.
The note ends,
A number of poems have "gift" in their title, including "The Gift Outright" by Robert Frost and "The Gift" by Li-Young Lee)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Prompt: "Love or Anti-Love Poem"
I did this quickly, between classes!

He's never had the right maps
never known the right roads
always the crumbling
the falling apart
a twisting in his bowels like
Adam and Eve fleeing
going where the righteous hand
sends all bad people
the million dollar question
is, "Where?"

Monday, April 13, 2009


PROMPT: "Hobby"

(for St. John of the Cross)

It is only called sleep--
It is rapture.
It is where the deer
goes in search of her
stag who lies wounded,
high on the mountain,
next to green waters.

The stag burns.
His wound is red.
The skin is transparent
over his ribs so that the
clenching heart is seen.
Soon, he will be cooled by
the ecstasy of her flight.

The hobby completes.
I am deer and stag, both--
the two have but one feeling.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Prompt: "So we decided to"

(for Robert Frost)
keep vigil
over our empty spaces
& the hawk floating above
so that we need only
to open our mouths
for the other
to say
I hear you

Saturday, April 11, 2009



1969 Volkswagen Beetle.

Ivory, the color of old bone.

One antenna.
Warrior that has lost something in battle.

Hubcaps, rusty due to piss from the old
cat Sam who repeatedly marked it as his own.

Sam's skull.
Now rests on the mantel.
We found it years ago under the pokeberry.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Another poem written quickly. Prompt: "Friday"

and I'm on my way to work
in the ancient Volkswagen.

Lately, I've been privy
to a number of human
unkindnesses of
the generic sort.
The usual sniping and
jockeying for impenetrable position.
Also yesterday a colleague told me she
once fell down stairs
on campus. People stepped
over her to get where
they had to go.

Unkindnesses, even the usual
sort, build up in you
after a while.
They make you afriad
of what will happen next.

This old volkswagen, so good
on gas, is never good in
the elements. I can barely
see out the glass.
There's so little between
me and a world that
feels alien today.

What will we do
if we need each other's
help and grace but find we
don't have them to lean on?

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Again, I wrote this quickly between classes. I had no idea what to write, so I just went to the Poetic Asides site, clicked on comments, and composed right there. I made very few adjustments. It is what it is.


Sometimes I wish my memory
started at eighteen
when I married.
That's when the
good times started
to roll,
not before
when I felt extraneous and
just tried to stay out of
everyone's way.
As a rule, I
don't like thinking about childhood.

Except there was one time.
was dying.
My brother told me so on
the way home from school.
I held it in until
I walked through the front
door. My mother was sitting
in a chair, facing the door
as if waiting for me to walk through.
When I saw her I
burst out crying.
She touched
my hair and called me baby.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


The prompt for today is "routine."

(for Goethe)

And so
I saw this thing again
as though it was of
I recognized it
not for what it was
but as something
I had once
but forgotten.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Haiku #193

Stepped over a mud
puddle this morning on the
way to my office


The PAD prompt for today was to write about something "clean" or something "dirty." Well, they asked for it.

I had to do this poem quickly between classes. It was sparked by a conversation we had recently in my contemporary poetry class about sex in poems and an e-mail received in my inbox today about a rape that happened on campus on April 5:

We shouldn't speak of sex in poems
because sex is dirty
the proper place, as we all know,
is in a nudie magazine
that must be hidden from children

We shouldn't speak of sex in poems
the proper place, as we all know, is
in an e-mail from the campus cops
saying a student was sexually assaulted
by someone she knew and saying we
must be wary of those who may be friends
of others but not known to us
God help us all
Please God save us from dirty sex
Please God save us from dirty poems

Monday, April 06, 2009


The prompt at Poetic Asides was to write about something missing.

This is the woman that left
Arizona sun and moved to
gray Minnesota
with a man that promised
to take care of her and
her little children.

He was neither caring nor
smart: For instance, in
speaking of the thousand
dollars she'd made caring
for a dying relative,
which she loaned
to him and which he
never paid back,
he said,
"She borrowed me the money."

He wasn't the person she thought
he was when she moved in with him.
But he was the person she thought
he was when she moved out.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


I'm not posting my PAD poem for day five here (about a landmark) but I wrote another one which I will share here. It seriously needs much more thought. But here is my beginning:

Car Crash Memorial Crosses
When I see them along highways
a black mark touches my lung.
I imagine the mark showing up
in an x-ray and my doctor
prescribing a complicated treatment.
My next breath is painful and short.
For a moment I wonder
if I will be able to go on.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Alternate Poem

The PAD Challenge today was to write about an animal. I didn't post the animal poem I wrote for Poetic Asides because I'm not quite ready to do so, but here is a poem I just wrote to make up for the one I didn't post earlier. This needs a lot of work! But it is a beginning. The mayfly is going to be a big part of my second novel, and I've been needing to poetically explore the topic. So here is a first attempt:

--the beautiful other.
Who wouldn't
want to mate with them:
They have paired genitalia!
Their insides
are filled with air.
Some float to the ground
while mating.
Others keep flying.


I won't be publishing my fourth poem here. :-)

Friday, April 03, 2009


Poem 3 for PAD.

(for Clark)

Mother might tell
you, for instance,
"I like the way
you turned out."
Or father might
say, "I'm sorry
I'm not around."

You grew up in a circus,
were nursed by goats
and schooled by acrobats.
Before bedtime you
sat on a bed of nails
while the tiny man
in a black tuxedo
combed your long hair.

Pipe Dream.
Dark joy.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I had to compose this one quickly because my day is really full and goes on into the night. This is my second poem for the Poem-A-Day (PAD) Challenge

sits on the edge
of a bed, her arms
hiding her nakedness,
her body slight,
pink root,
thing to be eaten,
neither woman nor
human without
a way back


Along with many others, I have taken on the challenge of writing a poem a day (PAD) during National Poetry Month. We post our poems at Poetic Asides. The best will be chosen for a free eBook. I'm doing it to keep the creativity flowing. Each day of the month, we are given a prompt. The first prompt is to write a poem about origins. Here is my poem for April 1:

Crow used to be white.
His feathers were translucent,
like crystal. His song
was soft, like leaves
waving on stems.

That was before rain,
before he put on his black
coat & hunkered down
in noisy resignation.

Listen: he's picking
through your
trash now & laughing.
Before long, he'll peck
out your eyes.

Crow makes no excuses
for his behavior.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Haiku #192

New discovery!
On my chair,
dead moth in its tattered coat.

Haiku #191

Cold spring night...
Put more wood on the fire!
Oh, my hair smells of smoke.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Haiku #190

In the pond
a lone bluegill swims
among the minnows.

Haiku #189

Wood, heavy in my arms.
By morning,
white feathers.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Haiku #188

Purple crocus blooms,
Buzzard circles above trees,
Spring morning.

Haiku #187

Day and night--
frozen water falling.
When will spring come?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Haiku #186

The zookeeper remembers
the book about insects, parents, and god.
His eyes are moist with tears.

Haiku #185

With sucess
comes all the evils
of creation

Haiku #184

The intellect is silent
Cares fall away.
All is well.

Haiku #183

It doesn't matter.
Living & dying are one.
All is one.

Haiku #182

Dogs don't understand
March thunder, hard rain--
they're used to snow.

It Isn't Enough

It isn't enough to write a good book, a beautiful book, or even a better book than most. It isn't enough even to wrote an 'original' book! One has to establish, or re-establish, a unity which has been broken and which is felt just as keenly by the reader, who is a potential artist, as by the writer, who believes himself to be an artist. The theme of separation and isolation--'atomization,' it's now called--has as many facets to it as there are unique individuals. And we are all unique. The longing to be reunited, with a common purpose and an all-embracing significance, is now universal. The writer who wants to communicate with his fellow-man, and thereby establish communion with him, has only to speak with sincerity and directness. He has not to think about literary standards--he will make them as he goes along--he has not to think about trends, vogues, markets, acceptable ideas or unacceptable ideas: he has only to deliver himself, naked and vulnerable. --Henry Miller

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Haiku #181

Asked Google relationship
between Jung & bird
Answer: do you mean young bird?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Suicide of Sylvia Plath's Son

My friend Gretchen just informed me about the death of Sylvia Plath's Son. I found two good articles about it online. Below is one of them and a link to the other:,0,547662.story
Poet Sylvia Plath's son, Nicholas Hughes, commits suicide in Alaska
By HILLEL ITALIE AP National Writer
5:14 PM CDT, March 23, 2009

Nicholas Hughes, the son of poet Sylvia Plath, hanged himself at his home March 16, 2009, Alaska State Troopers said. (AP Photo, file) (AP / October 30, 2006)

When Nicholas Hughes was in his early 20s, his father, poet Ted Hughes, advised him on the importance of living bravely."The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated," Hughes wrote to his son, who committed suicide at 47 last week at his home in Fairbanks, Alaska, 46 years after Nicholas' mother, poet Sylvia Plath, killed herself."And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all."

From the time that Plath died, in 1963, Ted Hughes had tried to protect and strengthen their children, Frieda and Nicholas, from their mother's fate and fame. He burned the last volume of his wife's journals, a decision strongly criticized by scholars and fans, and waited years to tell his children the full details of Plath's suicide.

And only near the end of his own life, in his "Birthday Letters" poems, did he share his side of modern poetry's most famous and ill-starred couple."What I've been hiding all my life, from myself and everybody else, is not terrible at all. Though you didn't want to read it," he wrote to Nicholas in 1998, months before Ted Hughes died of cancer."And the effect on me, Nicky, the sense of gigantic, upheaval transformation in my mind, is quite bewildering. It's as though I have completely new different brains. I can think thoughts I never could think. I have a freedom of imagination I've not felt since 1962. Just to have got rid of all that.""But I tell you all this," Hughes added, "with a hope that it will let you understand a lot of things. ... Don't laugh it off. In 1963 you were hit even harder than me. But you will have to deal with it, just as I have had to."

Nicholas Hughes, who was not married and had no children, hanged himself March 16, Alaska State Troopers said. He was a man of science, not letters, the only member of his immediate family not to become a poet. A fisheries biologist, he spent nearly a decade on the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a professor of fisheries and ocean sciences. He left in December 2006, according to the university's Web site.

Hughes' older sister, poet Frieda Hughes, issued a statement through the Times of London, expressing her "profound sorrow" and saying that he "had been battling depression for some time.""His lifelong fascination with fish and fishing was a strong and shared bond with our father,"

Frieda Hughes wrote. "He was a loving brother, a loyal friend to those who knew him and, despite the vagaries that life threw at him, he maintained an almost childlike innocence and enthusiasm for the next project or plan."

Nicholas Hughes graduated from the University of Oxford in 1984, and received a master's of arts degree from Oxford, in 1990, before emigrating to the United States and getting a doctorate from the University of Alaska.

Hughes' family history was an "urban legend" that was passed around from student to student. But it was a subject no one discussed with him, said Kevin Schaberg, a former student in a fish ecology class taught by Hughes.

"It was obviously something he did not want to talk about," said Schaberg, who added that he knew Hughes struggled with depression. "I never brought it (his family) up. He never brought it up."

Mark Wipfli, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Alaska and a good friend of Hughes, said that Hughes never spoke of his mother to him, but he talked warmly of his father, who sometimes visited Hughes in Alaska. Even though he had left the university, Hughes remained active in research and was a key scientist in an ongoing study of king salmon.

"I would really like to see him recognized in his own right, not just as the son of two famous people," Wipfli said. "In his own right, he was an incredibly wonderful person."

Hughes not only taught about fish, he also enjoyed fishing and other Alaska pursuits, such as skiing, boating and hunting moose and caribou. What stands out the most for Schaberg, however, is Hughes' vast knowledge of fish, his instant recall of authors, titles and journals on even the most obscure subjects."

Nick was probably one of the smartest guys I've ever met," he said. "When it came to fish, he was a walking bibliography."

Hughes was only 9 months old when his parents separated and was still an infant when his mother died in February 1963, gassing herself in a London flat as her children slept. A few months earlier, she had written of Nicholas: "You are the one/Solid the spaces lean on, envious/You are the baby in the barn."

Not widely known when she died, Plath became a cult figure through the novel "The Bell Jar," which told of a suicidal young woman, and through the prophetic "Ariel" poems — "I shall never grow old," she wrote — she had been working on near the end of her life.

The immediate cause of her breakup with Hughes was his affair with Assia Wevill. Plath's legacy haunted her husband, hounded for years by women who believed he was responsible for her suicide and by a procession of biographers and fans obsessed with the brief, impassioned and tragic marriage between the two poets.

Ted Hughes relived the tragedy not only through the constant reminders of Plath, but also through the suicide of Wevill, his second wife, who in March 1969 killed herself and their 4-year-old daughter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Haiku #180

Ants used to be giants
Ants were bigger than dinousaurs
Now, tiny, they are always with us


Ants used to be giants.
They were bigger than dinosaurs
& old T-Rex trembled
when ants marched.

Now ants are tiny.
They ride to work with us
in our clothes.
They fit in suitcases
& we bring them home.
They climb into our
toasters looking for bread
& at night they eat
our cookies and cakes.

When they were giants
they hid in dark forests
& caves. They were hunted
for carapace which
men used for armor
& women used for
letter openers, shoe
horns, buttons
& combs.

For a time ants were used
in farming. They pulled plows
until it was learned
they wouldn't walk
in straight lines.

Some say ants once had
human heads, like centaurs,
& reared upon hind legs
before the charge.
Some say ants had wings
& horns.
Some say they were wild
& learned both--
like us--
& fed on meat.

Now ants are always with us.
They will be here at the
end of the world, climbing
on the roses, sucking
honeysuckle stems
& clinging to our
own sweet bones.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Haiku #179

setting sun &
two gold-breasted robins

Come to me

I just received this poem in my inbox from, and it just left me breathless.


Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low

As long ago, my love,
how long ago.
--Christina Georgina Rossetti

Spring Stillness

It is spring. We have many cold days ahead here, but the frogs are back, and the buzzards. I hear birds on my way to the truck to go to work.

Tonight I have been listening to a lone frog who stays by the shallow pond Allen dug years ago. The pond dries up in summer, but in spring it is filled with life. The frog sounds like the teeth of a comb being pulled across the edge of a table.

It's often windy here, so when we experience a still evening, it is special. Tonight I was reading a collection of Charles Simic's early poems. "Evening" spoke to me the most. In "Evening," Simic writes:

The snail gives off stillness.
The weed is blessed.
At the end of a long day
The man finds joy, the water peace.

I love how Simic shows how we connect to earth and therein lies a kind of peace. I also love how he addresses simplicity in the next stanza:

Let all be simple. Let all stand still
Without a final direction.
That which brings you into the world
To take you away at death
Is one and the same;
The shadow long and pointy
Is its church.

This stanza suggests that we cannot control what happens in our lives. We don't know what our "final direction" will be. In our still moments we understand the life-death cycle. Our birth and death come from the same source: when we are still we see that. Life becomes simple. In the last stanza, Simic addresses human knowledge:

At night some understand what the grass says.
The grass knows a word or two.
It is not much. It repeats the same word
Again and again, but not too loudly...

I think of Walt Whitman's poem about grass, how it symbolizes eternity (the beautiful uncut hair of graves). The grass repeats the same word again and again. What is the word? Tonight, I think the word is eternity. Eternity is experienced in the moment of stillness--it is not a feature of a hereafter.

Sing, my little frog. Sing on.

Haiku #178

Comb's teeth pulled
over table's edge--
What the frog sounds like.

Love Calls Us

A favorite poem of mine is "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World" by Richard Wilbur. I have a copy of Wilbur reciting the poem and I listen to it often.

I like poems that make an argument in favor of this earthly life. As the title suggests, the "Things of This World" are touched by our capacity for love.

Of his poem, Wilbur has said:

"You must imagine the poem as occurring at perhaps seven-thirty in the morning; the scene is a bedroom high up in a city apartment building; outside the bedroom window, the first laundry of the day is being yanked across the sky and one has been awakened by the squeaking pulleys of the laundry-line."

So the speaker awakens to the sound of laundry being hung to dry in the city, on lines between buildings:

"The eyes open to a cry of pulleys."
I like the double meaning of the eyes opening in both a physical and spiritual sense. It is that moment when we first awake and are still, for a moment, held inside the magical world of sleep:

"And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul / Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple / As false dawn."
The image of our souls hanging "bodiless and simple" like laundry is lovely and haunting.

I've often puzzled over the reference to "false dawn." Tonight I remembered seeing a false dawn when I was in Vermont, spending a particularly miserable rainy night in a leaky tent. I had no watch and kept thinking the skies were lightening. I experienced that false dawn for many hours as the wet tent flapped against my back.

Dawn means revelation. I think maybe Wilbur is saying that the laundry incident is a false revelation, but false only in the sense of not being permanent. I do believe the moment of transcendence is true, though, for as long as it lasts.

The speaker compares the laundry to angels:

"Outside the open window / The morning air is all awash with angels. / Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses, / Some are in smocks: but truly there they are. / Now they are rising together in calm swells / Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear / With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing."

The speaker is in a moment of transcendence. Now comes the time for moving back among the "things of this world." Wilbur writes:

"The soul shrinks / From all that it is about to remember, From the punctual rape of every blessed day, / And cries, 'Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry, / Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam / And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.'"

The soul wishes to remain in the ecstatic moment, but of course we fall back to earth by remembering our duties and schedules. But another pull toward earth is "bitter love," the acceptance of the body for what it is:

"Yet, as the sun acknowledges / With a warm look the world's hunks and colors, / The soul descends once more in bitter love / To accept the waking body..."

The final stanza expresses love for the lowest of creatures, thieves. It shows how the pure (lovers) become sullied and how the heavy walk light and attain balance:

"'Bring them down from their ruddy gallows; / Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves; / Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone, / And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating / Of dark habits, / Keeping their difficult balance.'"

I think the "difficult balance" is what we all must keep. We live in the body. Since our waking hours are spent more inside the body than the soul, we should learn to enjoy our earthly existence. We learn to enjoy it by loving, even when it is hard to do so. Even when our experience here proves to be bitter and hard.



About Me

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Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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Fave Painting: Eden

Fave Painting:  Eden

Fave Painting: The Three Ages of Man and Death

Fave Painting:  The Three Ages of Man and Death
by Albrecht Dürer

From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych



Little Deer

Little Deer



Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Forward, Looking Back

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