Photos for January Stones and April PAD 2012 property of M J Dills (exception 1/16)







Monday, September 12, 2022

Poetry Postcard Festival 2022

I was pleased to get all of my postcards sent this year by the end of the month (August). For 2022, I tried to write each poem that somehow related to the postcard I was sending. Sometimes it worked. Not always. Try to think of how little that space is on the lefthand side of a postcard; one can't be verbose. I wrote spontaneously and used my good friend White Out correction tape when things went really south. There are a few minor edits but mostly, they remain as my thoughts flowed from my pen onto the cards. Here they are:


Today I sit in the shade at the lake, Greenlake, with my postcards, dog and a good book. 

It’s cooler here, on this steamy day, lots to see: 

a fellow wearing a t-shirt that says FUNCLE – I’ll bet he’s fun! 

A panorama of paddlers, defying the sun, 

standing up to the heat. Scantily clad sun bathers 

and fully clothed head-to-toe sun-fearers. 

Wet dogs, 

pink children, 

brave cannon-ballers. 

(This post card was found in an antique shop in Port Gamble, Wa.)



In the 80’s, I often visited a friend in Montlake, off Portage Bay, 

who was caring for a woman who was 102 years old, 

and we sat around a small table 

and sorted out greeting cards 

and stamps, postcards and gift tags, while she told us 

a story of each one and pasted them 

into a collage, with a little help from our friend, and me. 

(This is a vivid memory and I pass by the house often, which this stone house in Versailles reminded me of.)


                                                         Homeless in Seattle

We drove, 

a rainy night, 

though we really just crawled 

through traffic on the Interstate 

and there, under an off ramp, like campers, 

seeking shelter, people around a bonfire, 

holding cold hands, palm out to the flame, 

and children 

hooded, 

bundled, 

a man cradling an infant. 

From our heated car, we peered into their home. 


I said a prayer, 

tho I don’t pray, and 

found my way down 

the painted pathways, counting on my aged knees 

to cooperate, seeking out the childhood home 

of a great artist, an icon on his times, 

a partner to the woman with 

the most discussed eyebrow(s) of her century. 

It was a perfect peaceful day – 

to pray. 

(Postcard purchased at Museo Casa in Guanajuato, Mexico, November 2021)


Sometimes I feel lucky. Today, Olivia Newton John passed. She fought breast cancer off and on for a long agonizing time. Oz won’t be as sparkly and precious a place without her. I’m 73 soon, same age. Today I count my lucky stars.


Somehow the moon 

willingly remains the same, 

while I, unwillingly changing, 

decade upon decade, watch with wonder 

in the dark night, as Mother Moon 

gives us her light. She has traveled 

an incredible distance with me, observing 

and unjudging 

my motions and desires.  

(This postcard found in an antique shop in Port Gamble, Wa. July 2022.)

 



I grew up in a small town, arranged 

at the foot of Mt Rainier and 

watched intently a night sky 

where stars appeared in sharp contrast 

to their deep background. A moon 

arrived in all her stages, back 

when we could still see 

the Milky Way, before I moved 

to the city and could nearly count 

the stars in the sky.


I lived in the hills; 

took me forever 

to pronounce fraccionamiento 

without mangling it. Alone 

at night 

in the huge villa, from the top bedroom, 

windows with screens (mosquiteros), 

no glass (sin cristal), the waves 

on the beach below thundered, never 

in an expected syncopation, therefore 

waking suddenly me at times, 

from a dreaming sleep. Cicadas screamed, 

frogs hollered in an almighty chorus 

and jungle animals made their own kind of music. 

I miss this orchestra. 

πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—Con corazΓ³n 

(My house was where the arrow points in the photo.)



Sometimes 

I’m touched

with guilt, 

considering the life I’ve lived, 

the idyllic childhood, 

relatively free of worry, 

barefoot summers, 

plentiful gardens, 

an auto for each parent. 

My grandchildren 

inherit a different world 

and 

have every right to be angry.


In dreams are memories of places visited, 

people known and unknown, 

alive and passed. The element 

of a fantasy world, 

a universe that lives 

in one’s deepest imagination, is also present. 

Unread memos, 

unlocked doors, 

unmet lovers and 

flights of unparalleled desires.



If you happened upon a key in a door, 

would you turn it? If the door then opened, 

would you enter? If there were stairs, 

would you climb them? Would you call out and say 

Hello – an intruder is here!?  




                                                             College Bound

The winter excitement 

of driving the corridor 

with three laughing girls, 

junk snacking, 

phones exchanging playlists, 

energy crackling 

in the downpour 

surrounding us. Spring comes 

and destinations are 

locked in. Summer ends, 

goodbyes stretch boundaries, 

boundaries stretch hearts.


We went home, 

exhausted, and slept, 

my loyal dog and me, 

like two cats in the jungle. Hush, my darling... 

a long day, 

and now we exchange dreams. 

We roar. 

I run. 

You read.



Free

to be

to see

two women

walk arm in arm

expecting no harm

be free

see

the future



I dealt with a bit of my past today. 

Old friends losing their minds, 

young friends breaking chains. I came 

out of sleep with a dream on my mind 

but could not grasp the meaning 

as the images dissolved 

with every blink of my waking eyes.



Where else will you find 

London, 

Colorado, and 

Arizona 

tossed together. I am enchanted 

by the imaginings 

of the original stone masons, laying 

piece upon piece, mortar 

mixing, and the young, strong hod carriers 

grunting and sweating. Young boys, 

perhaps dreaming of joining 

an expedition to the North Pole, 

slopping cement instead, 

never a thought that a ship would sail way 

with that very bridge, disassembled, 

over the ocean to the west, 

while they died trying to escape. 

(London bridge was built the same time as the Amundsen expedition to the North Pole.)


I was about 14 years old. A teacher 

said to my mother 

She can do anything she decides to do; 

she just needs to set her mind to it. 

So, I did. 

Which is why 

I nearly failed school for a couple years, 

but I learned a lot about 

Greek mythology and 

Shakespeare. 

(This card was found at an estate sale.)




 



If you peeled the stamp off this postcard, you would read 
Place stamp here 
ONE CENT for United States 
and Island Possessions 
Cuba Canada and Mexico. 
Two Cents for Foreign.                                          
Imagine the price of peace for 
ONE PENNY!


I continue to see old lovers. 

Yesterday it was David, 

sat in a lawn chair by the lake, 

a book propped in his lap, 

so like him – his hairline 

receded more than I remembered. 

As I drew closer, my bad eyesight registered 

to reveal a woman, hair pulled back 

in a tight ponytail, 

wearing an orthopedic boot. 

I’m glad it was not David.


Was a time 

women dressed as if 

tending hives of bees, to cover 

nearly every bit of exposed flesh, as if 

to repel a sting or 

the barb of a thorny plant, 

fearful of the sun, 

wind 

and the lustful, gawking 

of commonly lubricious men 

of all ages. 


I ask to have all my post cards hand cancelled at the post office. 

I don’t know that it will make a difference to the receiver, if all the words will be clear and unmarred by stickers and ink. 

What I do know is this: the postal worker always smiles cheerfully, stamps as requested, and I like to think they admire this old-fashioned approach to mailing. 

(This gorgeous postcard, hard to part with, was found at an estate sale. On the back it mentions Ghirardelli Square, The Cannery, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Maritime Museum and its old ships.) (And you know all those curtains would never be so synchronized.)


He likely had the final word 

and as she half-slept, 

feet callused and weary, the train 

perhaps a thousand 

thoughts away, he strained his eyes, tired 

from the relentless vigilance 

of getting there, soothing her with words 

not his own, but no matter, 

just words to let her know 

he would be her constant lover. 


A simple room, 

of comfort and perhaps 

a little warmth, 

where in the sunny corners, 

sanity might visit, so a man 

with demons 

could preserve for us 

on canvas, wood, paper, 

whatever available 

and live in some kind of peace,

alone 

in Arles.


The Siesta

Who might see us here 

or bother with our wagon, 

while we, 

weary from thoughtless labor, 

the unceasing swing of the sickle, 

backs bent, 

the onslaught of insects 

disturbed in their pattern, 

baying cows 

begging for a small shade. We sag 

into each other, 

and dream.

It’s late.

I look out my window over the city lights into the dark of night.

I see Venus.

It’s August.


The song of fate… 

a destiny for each unknown, 

as sure as they were 

of their very own futures, as certain 

as steel cast to the air. Drifting 

with the vaper of a tapered candle, 

dismissing thoughts 

of the war 

outside the door, 

until too many sons had died, 

too many fathers gone missing 

and she sang 

no more, 

no more.


I am pressed to think 

of Our Lady of Guadalupe 

whom I consider 

The Mother. When 

I see her 

in symbolism. 

In Canada, 

Mexico, 

anywhere. 

Graffiti, 

other mothers, 

lone ladies. I don’t think

of Catholicism, 

religiosity, politics. I think 

of the UTERUS.

 

She looked him 

right in the eye. She wasn’t 

ever the type to flinch. She knew 

he was married, 

several children. 

She’d two herself, after all. But 

we must follow our dreams 

or go mad. And she’d never 

been allowed to 

simply dream. Life 

was too demanding. Even the weather 

dictated the choices 

she was forced to make. She looked 

him right in the eye.

The legend on this postcard actually reads "Stepping Out at the San Carlos Hotel in the 1920’s. One of the finest hotels in Florida and a center of Pensacola society." Enticed to look it up, I found The San Carlos was demolished in 1993, after being abandoned for more than a decade. No one associated with the design, architecture, building, ownership, management, etc, had any Spanish connection. It was named the San Carlos because the collaboration of white Anglo men thought it sounded romantic.  


Thinking of running, 

getting out of here.

All the fancy colors 

and we wear plain muslin; you can 

see us, 

any distance, day 

or night. Thinking 

about running. No place 

to go. Nowhere to 

even start to run. What’s even 

in the woods? Nowhere 

to land, feet on the ground. 

Thinking of running 

but sticking around.

(Inspiration for this postcard poem came from this Jacob Lawrence painting and a book I'm currently reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.)


Everything’s 
a pyramid scheme. 
Think about it. 
No matter what, 
it’s trickle up, 
trickle down. Unless 
you drive your own taxi 
and own the gas pump, 
less of a pyramid 
for you. Every 
other level, it’s definitely 
someone’s scheme.  
Top to bottom. 
Bottom to top.


Thanks for reading!


-


-


Tuesday, May 24, 2022




Bang 

He’d just gotten a haircut. Bang. 

She was an exchange student from Pakistan. Bang. 

He was the world’s best son. Bang. 

She was his sister. Bang. 

He was fifteen. Bang. 

They came to the United States to escape violence in their home countries of Eritrea, Iran and Vietnam. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

She loved the Dallas Cowboys. Bang. 

It was her first time in a gay nightclub. She was with her uncle who she called Guncle. Bang. Bang. 

He was 25, one week away from finishing his internship. Bang. 

They were Mexican. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

They had twelve great-grandchildren. Bang. Bang. 

He was a standout athlete. Bang. 

They were at a prayer service and invited him to join them. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

She was 86. Bang. 

They were Black. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

The baby was alive under his mother’s body, covered with her blood. Bang. Bang. 

He was visiting from Germany. Bang. 

He was shot by police. Twenty-eight bangs. 

They were gay. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

He was protecting his wife and grandchild. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

He was an off-duty police officer. Bang. 

They were twenty children, ages six and seven years old. Too many bangs. 

He was a bus driver. Bang. 

She was his mother. Bang. 

He was a Petty Officer, Third Class. Bang. 

She was his girlfriend. Bang. 

He dreamed of becoming an art teacher. Bang. 

She was the last victim to be shot. Bang. 

She thought about bringing her pistol to work the night before. Bang. 

He was three. Bang. 

He saw the shooter brushing his teeth in the bathroom moments before. Bang. 

She begged for her life. Bang. 

They were watching Trainwreck. Bang. Bang. 

She was pregnant. Bang. Bang. 

They had sixty-three combined years working for UPS. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

They were at home, eating dinner. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

Our president sang Amazing Grace.


by Margo Jodyne Dills

January 2019

Saturday, October 16, 2021

 WORDS

Too many words, not enough time...

This morning, as I lay in bed, reading David Remnick’s lengthy New Yorker article about Paul McCartney, and The Beatles, I mused at how much time I was wasting, not getting up, walking the dog, getting water on for tea. They I mentally smacked myself on the head and settled further into the down, to savor every word, my little Penny snuggled up to my side, happy to not brave the cold outside.

Mornings, I skim over saved articles, online and off, from the day before, or week, month, year…and try to read as much as I can. I have books piled in every horizontal space of my house, am currently reading three: Facing the Mountain, by Daniel James Brown, The Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, and Saved by a Song by Mary Gauthier. Plus I’m writing my own novel, Sparrow, the story of a songwriter, who overcomes obstacles personal and political, to fulfill her dream.

Some articles are saved on my computer, others ripped out of magazines, and still more held in publications that continue to gather dust on shelves and tabletops.

As a child of four, I taught myself to read under the kitchen table, using my brothers primers, which he tossed aside to run outdoors and join his friends with bikes, bats, balls. He turned into a voracious reader as he aged but, in the beginning, there were more important things to do, especially when bats turned into guitars and balls into turntables. I was also a fan of outdoor adventures, and starting at the age of nine, carting my younger brother around, as well. But whether inside or out, the world of words captivated me and it wasn’t long before I began to craft my own.

The library was my second home when I was a kid. The tiny Enumclaw library seemed like a vast compilation to me. Then, the first time I walked into Suzzallo at UW, tears involuntarily sprouted. What a world! The smell; they all have that old papery odor. It starts in bookstores and then melds into something else. In 1974, when I returned to Enumclaw, after six years in Los Angeles, the librarians greeted me with familiar warmth, and handed me the most recent bestseller, Jaws. I read it that night and returned it a couple days later, remarking, “Well, there’s a book they won’t be able to make into a movie.” I never did see it, preferring to dwell in my own visions of terror. Books have always meant more to me than film, though I do love a good movie with feelings and messages, rather than fear and violence. I'm more into Olive Kitteridge, Local Hero or Ivory/Merchant creations. 

                                              Suzzallo Library - University of Washington

The Remnick article made me melancholy,  reminding me that Paul McCartney is 80. I’m 72 (I talked about that in my last blog.) John and George are long gone. Many years from now came a lot faster than we wished for. I’ve so many words to read and write, so little time. Better get busy.

Thanks for reading.

(Photo of Betty Wiebe reading to a bunch of spit-shined local kids on the patio of the Enumclaw library. Betty was a friend of my mom's, and I still have a couple books she gave to me, knowing what a reader I was. That's me on the little stool looking up at her.)

Monday, October 4, 2021

 72

When I think of 72, I imagine an old person. That’s not me. Until, of course, I glance at a mirror, and then it’s kind of a sudden surprise. Every time. Yup, it's me, alright. 


I’ll be getting a consultation later this month about cataracts. My eyes are one of the things that are slowly failing me, and it’s irritating, knowing how well they have stood in my stead for all these seven+ decades. I thank them for all the things they have helped me see well in my lifetime. An eagle flying over our boat in a nasty storm, guiding us to port. The birth of my first grandchild, who entered the world blue and with raging eyes of her own, turned pink, and has been watching us all with great contemplation ever since. A panoramic view from my house in Mexico, Villa Margeaux, and the beach below, where I met some influential people in my life. Mount Rainier from a plane window, pink with the rising sun. Mount Rainier from every window on the south side of my childhood home. Thousands of women marching down Pine Street, Seattle, led by indigenous women in traditional dress, carrying signs and singing songs. From balconies, seated in large auditoriums, close up and far away, some in intimate settings: Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Auster, John O’Leary, Desmond Tutu, Timothy Leary, Mara Liaison, Bill Gates, Tammy Duckworth, Ann Patchett, Gary Trudeau, Wally Lamb... and so many others. Hale Bopp Comet. A mare foaling, a cow calving. Whales breaching, dolphins following us in huge pods, manta ray flying over the water's surface, octopi swimming under the surface. The Charles Bridge, Prague. Hamlet's Castle, Denmark. Glacier Bay, Alaska. Pyramids in Mexico. Volcanos in Hawaii. Mt Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Paul Revere's house. The statue of Barbara Jordan at AUS, Texas. Cenotes in Tulum. Brooklyn Bridge. Sequoias, redwoods. 

    With some good people at the Villa                     Room that got well lived in at the Villa

 

Sights, yes, and sounds, as well. I’ve had difficulty hearing since about 1985, so over half a lifetime. I’m looking forward to the infrastructure bill getting passed and my ability to afford hearing aids that work for me. Aside from the list of notable sees, my list of hears may be impressive to some: Beatles (twice). Don McLean, album debut of American Pie at Doug Weston’s Troubadour in Santa Monica. Ravi Shankar. Dexter Gordon. Mel Tillis. Pearl Jam (several times, for an old lady). Carly Simon, album debut of Anticipation, also Troubadour. Toots Thielmanns, Mose Allison, Maceo Parker, Kurt Elling, John Hammond and many more at Jazz Alley, Seattle. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mamas and Papas, Beach Boys, Keb Mo, Taj Mahal, Turtles, Animals, BJ Thomas, Judy Collins, Neil Diamond…the list goes on and on. The latest Herbie Hancock at The Paramount, Seattle. The precious voices of Mila and Coco, Luca’s cello, their various instruments, sounds and productions. On stage I’ve had the immense pleasure of viewing Maggie Smith, Anthony Hopkins, Patti LuPone, Samuel L. Jackson, Lily Tomlin, Kate Hepburn (twice), Richard Chamberlain, Lawrence Fishburne, Tom Skerritt, Judd Hirsch, Harold Gould, Cleavon Little, Tom Hulce, to mention a few illustrious talents. My god, I miss live theater so much. 

Other body parts. Knees are 72. That’s for sure. Hips catching up, too. Too many accidents, skiing, biking, boating. I guess it's my brain that I've had issues with for most of the 72. I've gone in and out of deep depression all my life, from about 10 or 11 years old. Sometimes it's bad, suicidal a couple times but too smart to put my family and friends through something so awful. I don't talk about it but heck, 72...it's a good time to let some things out of the closet. I'm sure many have been vaguely (or not so vaguely) aware of this. I've tried therapy but it has never gone anywhere for me. I'm much better now, healing with age, I assume. Of course, there are life events that've had an impact but sometimes the boogeyman shows up for no reason whatsoever. When I'm feeling good, and I call that my sense of well being, it's like a pink sunset that I wish would last forever and I always acknowledge it, knowing how lucky I am. 

Boating is one thing I miss. There’s something about being on the water, fresh, river, lake, ocean. I’ve seen a fair share of the Pacific coastline and a bit of the Atlantic, Baltic, Bering, Caribbean, Hawaiian Islands, but if I had one wish and a shitload of money, I’d buy a boat and sail around the Salish Sea. I could man (or should I say woman) the helm as long as the weather didn’t get too rough. I only need a good crew and a somewhat steady set of legs, from the ankles on up.

                                                                Some lucky bastard on Lake Union 

The one big change in my life was at the beginning of the pandemic, when I adopted Penny Lane, the sweetest dog in the world. I got her in June of 2020, but it probably took a few months for us to completely  adjust to one another. Penny gets me moving, which I think is probably the primary thing a person of 72 needs. Some of those hip-and-knee-involved accidents over 72 years have caused joints to seize up and refuse to obey brain-to-body orders, so first thing out of bed in the morning, we are on the trail, rain or shine (and sometimes snow, which is awful, but tolerable). She is a rescue from Puerto Vallarta and after spending months alone during Covid, she made semi-isolation a lot nicer. She is full of character and keeps me smiling.


                  Penny Lane  

I’m glad I had kids. My daughters have been a real comfort to me. They got me through a nasty bout of Covid in January 2020, and I never want to be that sick. Ever. Again. I thought I’d die. So did they. I fell ill on January 24, exactly 26 years to the day that my husband was admitted to Swedish Hospital and our lives were changed forever. The past 24 years I’ve been a solo act. In the beginning it was not easy making decisions on my own. I got brave one day and went to a movie (Shakespeare in Love) alone, something that seemed so odd to me. It broke the spell of alone-fear and after that, I didn’t mind living, eating out, traveling, going to movies and plays, jazz clubs, meetings, and so many other places, on my own. I learned to enjoy my freedom and now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I look forward to many more years… I have plans. I have a legacy to leave. I have places to go, things to do, people to meet.

Thanks for reading.

.

.

.

 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

 

 

Penny Lane, my wee dog and I walked up our Interurban Trail to Walgreens, to pick up a prescription. It was a cool day, early September, autumn in the air. A young man was by the doors as we approached. He was carefully pawing through the top of the garbage bin. Long dark hair and a handsome face, dressed in jeans, hiking boots and a light jacket, he opened a discarded meal container, made a face at the contents, and tossed it back.

“You hungry?” I asked. He smiled, a mouth full of beautiful white teeth, punctuated by dimples.

“Yes,” he said.

“What would you like?” I asked, hoping it was something that might be available in the drugstore.

“Anything,” he said. 

Where do homeless people come from? Where are they going? What are they doing here? These are questions we all wonder. Are they dangerous? Are they on drugs? What happened to them to make them homeless?

I told him to wait for me. The pharmacy was busy with covid testing out their drive-up window, people inside getting vaccinated, and two people in front of me who appeared to have extremely complicated issues. While I stood in line, properly distanced, I decided I would get a twenty and let the young man go shop for himself. But when I asked for cash over the purchase, the clerk rang it up and forgot to click that button. She said I’d need to make another purchase to add cash to my purchase, and I’d already made my purchase. Half an hour had passed. Frustrated, I wondered if he would still be there. He was. I was struck once again by how young this not-much-more-than-a-boy was. He was clean, he looked like he took care of himself, good-looking.

“Walk with me,” I said. “Let’s go over to Trader Joe’s and you can pick out what you want.”

Penny liked him. That’s always a good sign. On the way, a couple short blocks, I asked his name. Matthew. From Palmdale, California, and not in contact with his mother, who has problems of her own, and kicked him out long ago, while he was still in school, and no, he didn’t graduate. Matthew does have regular contact with his grandmother, who he’s close to, and always lets her know where he is, and that he’s okay, and she worries about him, all the time. Twenty-three years old. Homeless for all practical means and purposes. Matthew and his dog are on their way to Whitefish, Montana, where there is migrant work. He travels with a friend, and they take turns guarding their tent and staying with the dog. They were in Seattle, waiting for their connection to Whitefish. Often, they ride in empty boxcars. They never try to get in while the train is rolling but sneak in while it’s in the yard. Usually there are security people who do see them but let them be.

I carried Penny into the store. No one paid any attention to this older woman and young native man. Matthew took his time carefully choosing something to eat. It was a tuna wrap.

“Get something for your friend,” I said.

“You’re sure?” he asked.

“Of course.”

He grabbed an Italian style wrap sandwich and when I told him to get something else, he took a chicken Caesar salad. I asked if he’d like some fruit and we had a look at apples and oranges.

“I think the cut-up fruit would be better,” he said, and I reached for the largest container.

At the check stand, I made sure I was going to get cash back and handed Matthew $20.

He was so grateful, tears in his eyes, as we stood outside the store, and it was clear he wanted to hug me.  We grasped each other’s elbow instead and he gave Penny a pat. The bill was $17.66 and I later kicked myself for not getting him dog food.


Low-income migrant workers are amongst the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

1 in 10 young adults ages 10 – 25 endure some form of homelessness in a year.

People of color have an 83% higher risk of homelessness.

A big challenge for homeless people looking for jobs is not having the right skill set.

We have attitudes about homeless that are rarely based on facts.

I’m not a religious person. My friends are aware of that. I do weary of Christians in our society who rely on certain types of media to get justification for their actions and judgments. However, what a difference it would make if they simply applied lessons from the scriptures, which they ignore in favor of those they choose to interpret to validate their own causes.

Matthew 25:35-36 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger…

Matthew 25:40 … Truly I will tell you, whatever you did for the one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Thanks for reading….

(This is not a photo of Matthew; it is a stock photo.)


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

POPO 2021

Can you believe it's been a year since I blogged here? I told someone the other day "2020 is just a big bird dropping splotch on our calendars. Nothing happened, or so it seems." Now we've rolled around to another Postcard Poetry and I shamelessly will promise to get better again about blogging and hope to have some good news before this year in over.


In the meantime, here is PoPo 2021:

                                    The Great Wall of China in Six Parts


Can you see me up there at the top of the hill? 
All you need to do is enter, step...step by step. 
Up, up, follow what path has been given you, 
a map, unnecessary when it's all laid out for you. 



A window, 
essential to seeing in, 
and seeing out. 
Vast, 
with so much promise, 
all that is required is to 
open 
eyes 
wide 
shut.



The Chinese wall,
intended as protection,
was a path for 
travelers...and so one could move, 
stand still, 
balk, 
reach, 
reject, 
run to or from, 
fear, 
admire, 
care for, 
or seek to destroy.



And I stand and wait, 
watching moons and suns ascend, descend, 
stars come out and diminish, 
comets vanish, 
planets born, die, change names, 
and a plan for your return 
in the distance, 
where I can make out 
the thin form of your resistance. 




Where it begins, ends, 
falls in disrepair, 
seems invisible 
from the blind eye, 
rolls, 
like the blood in your veins, 
connected, 
never completed severed, 
always pulsing, 
always present, 
always struggling. 





Spring arrives each year with hope, 
a new possibility with 
a non-holiday holiday. Cruises
into summer, on the edge, 
the opportunity to reject once again, 
just like autumn does; and winter disappoints, 
over and 
over again. 


Family Legends


The stuff for family legends isn't always worth repeating even though details may be clear and unforgotten. When my son was lost at sea and there were helicopters searching dark waters, his father trying to figure out how he would explain to me he'd lost our boy, who was sound asleep in a deep bunk midship. Rescue teams cheered while we fumbled with untrusted emotions. 


However I'm Dressed

I know you think this is an invitation. 
It's not. 
It's me, 
being me. 
On the beach, 
the pool, 
walking down the street, 
over the bridge, 
in school, 
at work, 
in the grocery line, 
at the theater, 
wherever you see me, 
however I'm dressed, 
no matter how much skin 
I choose to show, 
or hide... 
this 
is 
not 
an 
invitation.



                                      LOSING YOU

                                   


Losing you was losing a part of my history. 
There were things that only you and I 
could remember and now 
I must remember them on my own. 
With no one to validate the memories. 
And the sadness is not so much 
that you are gone, 
 it's that we are gone.



aLmOSt NoRmaL

We almost started
being a little normal.
Trader Joe's even took down                               
their plastic shields. 
Masks were optional 
for the vaxxed.                                                        
Too soon.                                                                            
Wildfires make the skies hazy.
Again.
This.
This is our new normal.
Masks fulfill multiple purposes. 
We are all frogs 
in a warming pot.
The canary has sung.


Chinooks



Lavish Saturday morning 
breakfasts at Chinooks. 
Laughing family laughs, eating 
honeyed butter, and the tingly taste 
of orange zest. Seagulls 
piercing the calm of the drizzle 
hanging under the sky, scolding 
us for living too well, telling us to 
go home, 
pack for the future. 

Forgiving Myself


Flipping through old notebooks, photos, clippings, poems, quotes, flattened matchbooks. Hours pass as the sun floats across the southern sky on a warm summer afternoon and I, caught indoors, forget the garden, the dust and dishes and all other duties, forgiving myself for places I meant to see, words left unspoken, dried up tears, ships that have sailed. 





Life Redirected

Once I had submitted to the life 
that had been redirected for me, 
I dove in headlong. Limbs
no longer were a matter for
prom gowns and 
summers at the lake, 
ski slopes or wooden stages. 
I became a leg to cling to, 
a vessel of milk, rich and blue,
arms never empty, 
a backbone 
stronger than my mother 
ever predicted. 
New shoes, 
a different hat. 



The Summer of '66

The summer of '66, 
I thought I had 
everything figure out. But 
I missed some things. 
How to protect myself. 
How to fight back. 
How to say "no." 
My outlook 
was always cheery and 
I was confident. There were 
leading roles in my future, 
straight A's, 
the Dean's list. There were 
other lists, too, which 
I could not have foreseen. 
I have no regrets but 
I have some good advice.




Makah 1993 Neah Bay 

Our heads were filled with magic 
and a new ancient language. 
We walked on whaling beaches 
where history has been forgotten 
by those who choose to change it. 
The songs, 
the food, 
the stories, 
the mystical words, 
clicking and soothing, 
the craggy beautiful faces, 
the clamshell yearning 
for a different time and place



Master Thief 

I'll teach you how to steal he said. 
First you take the little things
They go unnoticed. The big things
are harder; you're always being watched.
But it's not impossible. You must be
brave and put on a face, as if
you don't care at all. Pretend
it belongs to you. The 
difficult part is when 
they steal from you. Some 
have nothing of 
value. He taught me how to steal. 
He was a Master Thief.


New York September 2019 

East Village
was a perfect time 
in the city garden 
with Marta, who had
the key to let us in to the
fairy lights and 
marjoram, parsley, 
Simon and Garfunkel warbling
over speakers meant for
dayworkers. It was a 
sister kind of night,
young and brash,
old and wrinkled,
in between,
imparting stories, opinions, guidance,
raucous laughter, tittering giggles,
bold invitations, glasses never
half empty, pushing the morrow
out of our minds.




CATS

My son wrote a little
personal essay once about our cats; past,
present, and future. He was 9 at the time 
and it was 
one of the sweetest things 
I've ever read by anyone. He
laboriously typed it out on my "Selectric" 
and I still believe I will find that yellowed
piece of parchment paper in a box
someday. I miss all those cats.





Brave

Looking back, I can see 
the crack forming when Brave 
died. A strong beautiful hen, 
so named because 
Brave 
was who she was. One of the
original brood, she 
carried so much weight 
on her tiny feathered wings;
so many expectations,
future dreams,
silent songs,
little secrets,
prospects for a formidable foundation.
Hope.



Peanut Butter Memories

My bro and I shared a love 
of certain edible things. 
Popcorn, 
tacos... and peanut butter 
on warm toast with butter melted 
and dripping! You bite into it 
and it oozes between 
your teeth, gets stuck 
to your cheek hollows and 
you wash it down with a cup of 
good strong coffee. All 
those things 
make me remember him; 
olfactory memories.




Kornfeld

He was just a guy 
who lived in my building. I 
collected his rent 
every month. He smoked 
so I saw him outside 
usually. I 
talked with him 
and his son about 
football, croquet, 
dogs, the weather. He 
died alone in a hospital 
room while others 
were attended to. No 
one was saved. I 
was the only person 
he said goodbye to. 



    Childish Summer

    Mornings were soft and fresh... 
    smell of dust from 
    the alley, green wet 
    grass. Trees, with gnarly 
    roots, to create spaces under, 
    outdoor sanctuaries with 
    rock-lined borders, little imaginary 
    shops where fairies visited 
    after dusk, when children 
    were meant to be 
    indoors. 
    Dolls dragged out of 
    bedrooms, then found 
    in the morning dew, forgotten, 
    then retrieved and 
    loved again. Kool-aid 
    with so much sugar
    it hurt your teeth, soda 
    crackers, peanut 
    butter, fresh picked 
    berries, slightly 
    dusty. Barefoot 
    for weeks on end; 
    toes splayed in September. 
  

Battle Lines

Battle lines
were drawn.
One of us fought hard, 
the other with a short stick, 
keeping monsters 
at bay. It ended 
in an emotional rout and 
open wounds closed 
eventually but 
the salt remained. 
Ships sailed. 
Horizons fell dark 
but never stayed that way. 
New shores harkened. 
Castles were built 
on sand.


California

Songs have been written about California, 
the beaches, the palm trees, the sunset pigs, the hotels. 
It pulled me until I got fed up with partial truths, earthquakes, 
and broken promises. 
I won't forget the swarm of baby hummingbirds, 
Olvera Street, mean geese in Sacramento, canyon bike rides, 
being taken for rock stars, Paul Bunyan, the pier, 
candles in wine bottles, and your hair.




Fall 1968

I loved the market, 
even the odors of raw fish, mixed 
with the pungent smells of mums 
and marigolds. It wasn't a tourist 
attraction yet, just a place to buy 
from vendors, the deli, and a newsstand 
with hundreds of selections; 
I could've hung out there all day. I 
bought pudding from 
the sweet Asian lady, 
a peach, 
and a tomato, 
which I ate whole, 
sprinkled with salt. 
You told me I was pregnant. 



We Saw the World

From the time I was 6 or 7, my bicycle was total freedom. No one really cared much where I was in our safe, small town. I was GONE, down the street, around the corner and into the wild. When he was 2 and I was 11, my baby brother joined me, perched in the basket on my handlebars. We saw the world. Our world. We had no borders and wide horizons. 

Another Country

 I loved you in another country
There were maps leading us down roads, over seas,
into mountains and jungle, that we imagined
or simply conjured. So we could
go our own way, like birds
in a murmuration, whirling,
changing with a whim, impossible 
to follow.
Off the charts.




CHURCH

Anklets, bare legs all the way up to the Sunday panties, Mary Janes
that pulled socks down over the heel, like a tiny determined conveyor belt, 
repeatedly. Impossible to find two socks that matched, per order of Mom.
Late. Snow splattered on the landscape like crispy sugar. Holding a heavy green
hymnal with crackling pages, wishing to be home
having hotcakes with Dad.



The Eye

I miss you, Dad. You always had an eye on us, 
even when we were far far away.
You were all seeing and you knew
everything.
At least we thought you did and
that was good enough for us.




OUR HOUSE

Our house was a very very very fine house, 
on the best street, 
on the best hill,
in the best city,
in the best state,
in the best country, 
on the best planet. 
We used to sing this song 
when we thought nothing could change, 
fooled 
by our image of reality. 
We were so wrong. 

 

Distant Smoke

In the distant smoke of the future, I will not acknowledge
pain or sorrow. I will see my beauties as full-grown
human sculptures, perfect in every way,
better even,
having gained wisdom 
through ears and eyes. May they 
always think of me,
who loved them completely,
as one who cradles them through 
distant smoke.

And now another year of PoPo has been completed. I ask the post office to hand-cancel my little poems as they are sent abroad and near, in hopes words will be left clear and legible, but there is always some overzealous postal worker, who needs to run these tiny pictures through mean machines. One hopes they arrive somewhat intact and if not, here are all the words, and the images, too. Cards are collected at estate sales mostly and these poems are rough drafts, written as prompts, using the postcard for inspiration. Many will be reworked and polished. Look for them and others in my poetry chapbook, available at the end of the year.

Thanks for reading...

I can be seen/heard reading three of these postcard poems from a session that drew our Poetry Postcard Fest to an end of September 2, 2021. There are many beautiful poems to observe from an abundance of talent, but mine are found from 7:45 - 10:30. https://ppf.cascadiapoeticslab.org/2021/09/05/post-fest-open-mic-video/