Monday, June 23, 2014
The fox slip through the poultry fence like eels through sea grass. Nothing can stop them except a ten gauge, a keen eye and a steady finger.The loaded gun sits by the back door, though I don't like it there. We guard the poultry fence towards dusk when the chickens are still outside foraging. We watch the field, the woods, the fencerow.
We can't go to town, or down the road to dinner, can't weed the asparagus or trellis the tomatoes. Here they come across the open field, bolder than fox should be. There one goes out of range at a brisk trot with a chicken in its mouth, disappearing into the woods. Feathers on the ground. Carnage in the fencerow. Buzzards overhead, cleaning up after the fox.
We mull the fate of the birds we've raised, nurtured through winter with heat lamps to ward off the frigid wind, and now move around on open pasture, water and pamper for the eggs they give us. They are just now beginning to reach their peak egg production. All the hard work through winter was just beginning to pay off.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
But wait. The whirr of the gas-powered weed whacker warns of danger. The swoop of the handle cleaves the air, dismantling everything in its path, protective goggles and gloves for the whacker in full-throttle approach. Protection for the cutthroat but none for the poppy. In one fell unsupervised swoop, the poppy is in ruins, flecks of bud (hints of salmon) lie scattered in the grass like fluffs of dandelion.
Sister presented mother with the remnants. Poppy pieces in her lap, like rose petals saved from a prom corsage.
Friday, April 25, 2014
|Willard Asylum - Lisa Gordon|
The walls sweat
like my doctor's brow.
I long to touch dry bark,
rasp my cheek along the flank of a willow,
rest a hip against the oak
at the back of the lane.
They tell me it will make me feel better.
I swallow and nod and try
to get along.
But the walls waver and sweat
like my doctor's brow.
I can tell you how that tastes.
I want the sandy lane under my feet,
sand I can brush off and leave behind.
I wrote this poem for an artistic interpretation challenge from Margaret at the Imaginary Garden. This photo of the Willard Asylum in the Finger Lakes Region of New York was taken by Lisa Gordon when she toured the facility and photographed it. The asylum opened in 1869 and was closed in 1995. During the time it was operational, 50,000 patients called it home. Six thousand died there. Also of interest to me is Margaret's link to an ongoing project by photographer Jon Crispin called "The Willard Suitcases". He is photographing the contents of suitcases left behind by patients of the Willard Insane Asylum.
There are more photos of the asylum on Lisa Gordon's website here, including this one of a patient's grave, marked only by a number plate set in the ground.
|Willard Grave Marker - Lisa Gordon|
Friday, April 11, 2014
|Boat In The Moonlight - Odilon Redon|
and the boat was found
but not the old man.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
but the thaw has begun.
only leaves and corn husks float
in the debris of spring.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Nothing except in things.
So, I've decided to write a memoir, triggered by a contest notice. I'd never thought I had a life others would want to read about, but as I thought this over, I decided that wasn't true and began to dig around in my head for the childhood events that stand out like signposts. As one was unveiled and examined another emerged, like trees in a fogbank.
Do you ever wonder what made you the person you are today? How you got to where you are, why some things matter to you and other don't? What your career choices have been and the people you are attracted to and the ones who repel? Writing a memoir is to take an untraveled road of discovery. And I've had the strangest, most vivid dreams of places and things and people I've not thought about in a long time. Do you wonder at the mother-lode of memory buried in our brains, waiting to be brought to light and shared?
I'm an environmentalist because my father is and my grandfather was, as was his and so on. Though they didn't call themselves that, any farmer who farms the land in a sustainable way and raises grazing animals while adhering to the time-honored practice of husbandry, is essentially an environmentalist. On road trips, Dad was constantly pointing out things of interest, from a herd of cattle to a hawk to the setting sun. He never let nature go unnoticed and while we might have been prone to day-dreaming in the backseat or squabbling about who was touching who, he drew our attention out the window to the vista in front of us or the one behind.
So that is one signpost in the road I've traveled to become the person I am today. But there are things I'm afraid to write about too, as sure as the fog will lift and the noise intrude. It takes a lot of courage to write a memoir and I commend the masters of this genre, namely Jeannette Walls who wrote The Glass Castle. And while I never led that nomadic of a life, it hasn't been one without interest and intrigue.
I've always found the idea of a "residency" intriguing. This farm might serve as my residency, except family obligations and chores always interfere. Life intrudes. That's the beauty of a true residency. Nothing intrudes between you and the writing. Dare I apply for a residency? Could I be gone for two weeks to participate in an endeavor that society places little value on? Many would see it as selfish and self-absorbed. I would see it as the gift and opportunity of a lifetime.
The closest I've ever come to a residency was a friend's summer house on a wake-free lake in Gladwin. I stayed there by myself for three days, nothing but loons, lily pads, jumping pike and grazing cattle in a field on the other side. I loved every single solitary minute. I wasn't afraid. I spread my manuscript out around the living room (itself, a luxury) and let it absorb every waking moment, stopping only to eat and sleep. In three days I edited fifty pages, wrote a poem and penned two or three sentences of another idea. Think what could be done with two weeks!
Friday, March 28, 2014
so I labored long over rhythm and rhyme,
Sunday, March 16, 2014
In Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray", many universal truths are revealed between the lines of convoluted verbiage. Just as there were plodding passages I skimmed over, there were glittering sparks of dialogue and introspective pondering, which caught me by the feminine equivalent of "the balls".
I wanted to share a few of my favorite lines that made me stop and think.
- "Each of us has heaven and hell in him."
- "Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man's face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes of secret vices. There are no such things. If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the molding of his hands even."
- “To get back one’s youth, one has merely to repeat one’s follies.”
- “Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”
- “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”
- “He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.”
- “The lad was premature. He was gathering his harvest while it was yet spring.”
- “No civilized man ever regrets a pleasure and no uncivilized man ever knows what a pleasure is.”
- “He had told the girl whom he had lured to love him that he was wicked, and she had laughed and answered that wicked people were always very old and very ugly. What a laugh she had!—just like a thrush singing. And how pretty she had been in her cotton dresses and large hats! She knew nothing, but she had everything that he had lost.”
Friday, January 24, 2014
and spread it on our bread?
One molecule from plastic
should be their claim instead.
Round-up in the waves of grain
they took her breast by knife.
The deer steer clear of GMOs,
amphibians the coast.
Let’s all melt some Tupperware
and spread it on our toast.
If you like butter on your toast, let the G-Man know!
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Even as a child, she was drawn to the night
when the air was soft and fraught with life.
He, too, a child of twilight—
mysterious boy boomerang in his belt.
Was my father’s, he said,
dog circling, divining the night air.
Fingers entwined, he taught her to throw
so it would always come back.
If it's Friday, or Friday Eve, it's time for Flash, Flash 55. This weekly event is hosted by the G-Man who loves fiction with a plot and 55 words.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
In the midst of this deep freeze, something called me from bed at five in the morning. Minus thirteen degrees outside, and the furance runs without pause. Why am I not still bundled in bed with a pillow over my head? Because of the poem that won't leave me alone?
It's the snow, it's the snow, deep and blowing and more
and the road is not there nor the drive nor the fields
nor silo with its rounded white globe.
The birds have all fled to the wood and the cows
bury their noses in sweet fragrant hay.
The bull dreams of grass and the sun on his back
and the chickens fluff their feathers, heat lamps under their wings.
It came quietly in the night, like pirates boarding a ship,
blanketed the Queen Anne's Lace gone to seed in a ditch
then bestowed billows of white on the evergreen boughs
and laid down ruffles of lace up to their waist.
The car lies like a behemoth under a quilt
and the bird feeders are frozen and covered with snow.
So still, so still.
But then the wind stirred on a rotational pull
and with hackles raised, set off in pursuit.
It rallied the snow, which must be put in its place,
must be molded and banked and taught to behave
and now white is the sky and the roof of the barn
and the house and the field where wheat once grew tall.
A little brown sparrow lands on my sill,
she lands in a candle nestled in snow.
Soft and brown at my window, right there at my window,
this little winged creature quivers and shakes,
under stalks of arugula gone to seed in a vase.
Eyes dart to and fro, tis a mean trickery,
these stems bereft of seeds but decked out prettily
in white Christmas lights.
What’s its use asks the sparrow,
so fragile yet hardy of wing and sinew
It has no seed or shelter, it’s nothing to me.
So wise, the sparrow, poised to leave. To leave.
The Christmas tree hauled outside on the porch—
denuded of finery yet beautiful still—
has blown off in the gale,
but its branches are thick
and welcoming still
as on that night in the lot
when we chose it over
She flies into the winter of my spent Christmas tree,
disappears from sight but I know she's in there.
Then joined by a junco who was lost in the wind
a chubby little junco, charcoal blue and lost gray.
then, look! a fat dove skitters onto the porch,
wings flutter and clap and he joins them in there.
All so hardy and knowing and independent of me.
Thank you for reading my long weather poem. I couldn't seem to stop. But one more thing before I go, from Book Riot, this past week comes a list of ten wonderful Kurt Vonnegut quotes. If you've stayed with me thus far, I would leave you with my favorite.
"The America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries."
Friday, January 3, 2014
Someone poured a stein for the deceased
and set it on the mantle.
It had warmed but wasn’t flat.
The sun danced off the lake
which should have been ice-covered
but was as bare as the hands
wrapped in a rosary.
Let them wonder that you walked
amongst their grieving
and finished your final beer unfettered.
If you ever drank a dead man's beer, let the G-Man know. Write a flash piece of fiction in exactly 55 words and let the most gracious host know. Cut it up right. And have a Happy New Year!
Friday, December 27, 2013
We paid close attention to daylight hours and the sun’s position in the sky; we minded time by the path of its progression. At nightfall, we lit candles and hauled an old kerosene heater out of the attic and kept track of the matches. We played cards and dominoes by candlelight. With the television off and internet down, the piano regained its rightful place at center stage, and rusty fingers turned nimble over the course of the outage.
When the skies cleared and the sun came out, the kids took to the outdoors with boots and camera. They climbed the slide on the dock at the pond,
all the way to the top.
And saw the tracks leading across the ice.
I considered a story of mayhem and murder in a two-hundred-year old barn. You can research a novel in a spooky barn, but do it before the sun goes down.
Just saying…it’s not all bad when the power goes off. And when it comes back on, you have another experience to write about.
Friday, December 6, 2013
a boy climbs a tree.
Hiding in the brambles,
two maybe three.
ribbons in her hair,
with a weight that isn't there.
A wistful wind whistles
through the lilac hiding place,
telling of those who huddled there
when they were young and scared.
This is a Friday Flash 55 for the G-Man. If you write a flash piece on Friday, let him know. This is written in rememberance of playgrounds with steel slides and wooden teeter-totters. Playgrounds that were a refuge and a curse, playgrounds that instilled bravery when we were young and scared.