"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Winter Warrior



The sun burns a path through the morning fog
to capture the transient russets and golds along the road
that wither and waste with winter’s approach as a lone tractor creeps
across a field on a final till fore the ground is left
to settle and sleep and recover.
The old man on the tractor across the way
feels each bump and dip through his booted feet up to his hips,
he knows the clay and the sandy hill and the stubborn drain
of the muddy low. The lay of the land is choreographed
in the analytic brain of our winter warrior
who refuses to go south with the rest of his friends.

This is where I’m from, from how far I’ve come
to come back to the quiet of October russets
where the birds hover and hide in the dry rustle of the corn.
They swoop across the land in flocks
for they need their kind come winter.
For now they rest in the standing corn
as the tractor crawls across the field with a man at the wheel—
an old tractor that needs a firm hand on the wheel,
the swollen knuckles of the winter warrior.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Sand Dollar


As sand falls from a sand dollar
set on a shelf far from the seashore
(the tide pools of Oregon),
so do the seasons shift and leaves drop, 
weighted with rain from a gunmetal sky.
It muddies the unmarked grave,
the shoveled dirt, blackened and coarse,
unlike his face, clean-shaven on the blade of the mortician.
Lids drawn over the sterling blue eyes,
tie straightened and mouth closed,
tight-lipped, as our father never was.
The mouth isn’t right, my sister whispered
as the kneeler wobbled under our connected sorrow.
I checked his pockets, like a child for a coin,
climbing on a lap, cool and deep, and empty.



Linked to the Tuesday Platform (Poets Choice) at The Imaginary Garden.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Did I Tell You I Love You?

I see I've written nothing here since, well, since last December, but this is still my old faithful blog, waiting in the clouds for an update. I pulled it up (down?) once in a while to see if it still existed and to check on familiar blogs, but I didn't write. Now I have to write.

Dad died four weeks ago today. His life was a grand one of 96 years, full of many accomplishments and good works, so why do we cry? my mother asked as we waited for the hospice nurse to wash the body and the undertaker to come and wheel him out of the house on a gurney, wheeled him out from the room where he died, the same room in which he was born. We should be happy, said mother (as a good Catholic would say) but wherever he was, it wasn't with us. He was gone, still warm, but gone, and we missed him, so we cried.

We cancelled his "lifeline". We contacted Social Security and the Office of Personnel Management regarding his pension, sent out our thank-you cards and backstroked our way through the public grieving process. Now the private grieving has begun.

My father was a writer and his office was a vast library of agricultural yearbooks and farm journals and novels such as The Beast Of Muddy Brain, a novel about farming during the depression, and I wanted to write something memorializing him, but the how of doing that in a way he would approve is difficult.

On a morning such as the one a week ago, with the heat and humidity washed out of the air by a torrential downpour and straight line winds the night before, with puffy white clouds dotting the cerulean blue of Earth's atmosphere, with the corn tasseled out and standing motionless in the sun while the crickets sang and the geese flew overhead, while a pot of San Marzanos simmered on the stove readied for ladling into hot jars which now line the shelves in the cellar lined with fresh newspapers, as our mother taught us, I missed him.

On a morning like this with the eastern sky tinged with light by the sun at its back and an owl calling in a low throttle from the woods who-who-whowhowho, not singing but crying from the woods still dark, dad would be up; pushing himself out to the living room in his wheelchair in his fluffy white robe (sometimes getting it caught in the wheels) to sit at the picture window facing east where he could look out over the farm he loved that his grandfather started, looking out over the best place on earth and wait for the first person to come in the house and pour his morning coffee and give him a graham cracker. (The first cup is always the best.) Sometimes that was me. On a morning like this, I'd like to do that one more time.

Did I tell him I loved him? At the end of the night when he was tucked into bed, hearing aids on his bedside table, rosary where he could reach it, when I rubbed his foot under the blanket and said "good night dad", did I also say I love you? I love you I love you I love you?

On these fall nights, dewy and still, the chill of winter hovers in the air and the corn rustles on the slightest breath of a night bird, with the lights of his bedroom dark and bedside lamp off,  I miss him.

Today marks the Autumnal Equinox with fall arriving at 10:21 a.m. here in the Eastern Time Zone. The heat of summer has overstayed its welcome but soon harvest will begin. But dad won't be here to watch them bringing in the corn. He won't be here to check the yield per acre, dust flying out of the back of the combine as the beans are harvested, grasshoppers jumping and the smell of chaff in the air. Even when he could no longer be actively involved, he would be at that window, watching.

On this first day of fall when the grass is still green and the roses thrive, with the coffee growing cold in my cup, I miss him.





Robert Raymond. Linck
8/07/20 to 8/25/16
A farmer, an environmentalist, a progressive, a writer, a father.




Saturday, December 12, 2015

Haymow Workshop

There's a new bird in the haymow,
more musical than the sparrow,
less mournful than the dove.
Singing from the rafters.
Invisible.



From a writer's retreat.

Linked to the Imaginary Garden's micro poetry link.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

THE ROAD TAKEN

From The Imaginary Garden comes a prompt imagined by Kerry O'Connor - from Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish, "Our Open Link provides us with the opportunity to write a promptless poem, to plumb the depths of consciousness and present our own visions in the form of poetry."

The detour led us off the highway
and onto a gravel road,
past shacks and crooked trailers.
The gravel in the wheelwells
amplified the quiet in the car—
our children in the back suddenly paying attention.

We’d crossed an invisible border
and entered a country where people sit on porches,
stare at the oddity of traffic, and don’t wave.
The road led us deeper into the woods
and through hills fit for a brochure

but outside the window garbage overflowed the ditch—
discarded tires and old car bumpers,
scraps of metal and broken glass signaling for help.
Dust hung in the air and breached the rolled windows,

and I wanted the highway, manicured rest areas and speed limits.
Our detour through this country inside a country
made our children put down their books
and ask questions we couldn't answer.


And what I remember more than what I wrote is the sense of fear that permeated the car, fear of the unknown and resentment at having been thrown into such an uncomfortable situation. We did not want to see what we were forced to see. And while it's been a while, I still see the vacant stares and feel the stillness that hung in the air.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Flash 55!

I'm  happy to join  this month's Flash 55 now sponsored by The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.

Purpose

Woman walks down the road
with a scissors in her hand,
kicking a stone with a scissors in her hand.
Bleached skull in the ditch
stones ricochet and skip.
Eye on the road, eye cast to the ditch,
cresting the hill, she chases a stone.
Hips swing and sway
with the scissors in her hand.






Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pretty Things

When you change your routine, regardless of reason or desire, it is difficult to re-calibrate your day. A rainy day is a writer's best friend, and a visit to the big lake (Lake Huron, for those of you who aren't familiar with this blog), brings me back to my organic roots.

Oh, how I treasure this life, our lakes, and the written word. Even when I'm never here, I'm always here.

Pretty Things.

A freighter drifts out of the mist.
We watch it crawl along the horizon.
Two girls braid their hair in the shallows

and a woman in a red bathing suit
and pink bandanna looks for something pretty.
A twin engine plane putts overhead

following the shoreline, putt, gasp! putt.
Buoys that mark the safe swimming boundary
bounce as a speed boat skims by.

Sail boats peak the horizon, bothering nobody,
seemingly not moving, but when you look back, they are gone,
swallowed by a lake that makes pretty things.

One ale later, we have to turn our heads to see the freighter
chugging for the straits with determination
and the woman is on her knees, looking for something pretty.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mesclun Mix and Pterodactyls

"The Organic Writer" has been woefully neglected.

With spring, garden planning, seeding, and prepping always takes precedence over blogging, but before I knew it, near three months had elapsed without paying a visit.

Oh! The frozen lake! Shudder. Time to move those pictures down the page. Today a picture of our pond in spring:


From end to end, a good place to cool off in the heat of summer after bailing hay or weeding rows of beets and chard and garlic....



It isn't all idyllic around here. I've been dodging pterodactyls, planting onions, chasing chickens, and weeding the rhubarb and the asparagus, the first tips of which are emerging. Spring has been slow arriving but the tulips are opening and grass will soon need to be cut. And it won't be long before we'll be jumping off that dock.

Yesterday, as I watered our seedlings and salad mix inside the greenhouse a large winged shadow suddenly flapped around the outside of the doomed roof, up and over, flap, flap, across and over, trying to find a way in. From inside it looked huge, like a pterodactyl brushing against the plastic, looking for entry. The plastic amplifies everything. If it is sprinkling outside, it sounds like a steady rain inside. If it’s a steady rain outside, it sounds like a downpour inside. I darted outside to see what the shadow was, but only a common crow flew off towards the chicken coop, and I went back inside. Crows can’t cart off a chicken like a hawk will. 

Back to the mesclun mix....



Doesn't it look yummy? Spicy and ass-kicking! Now for the picking. The farmers' market season opens Saturday and it seems the only writing I have time for then is the weekly CSA newsletter. But I hope to post more updates here about things of interest, and I think everyone has an interest in food and how it's grown on an organic farm. 

Oh, and a swim in the pond and a writing session on the dock.

Let's not be strangers!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Great Lakes Review

There is a breakwater on Lake Huron not too far from us that protects the harbor and marina. I walked out on it as far as I dared, then wrote about what and who I saw. The Great Lakes Review accepted my essay for publication and this morning it went live!



Lake Huron is beautiful and inviting, regardless of the season.



The narrative map series they are running is an awesome project, and I wanted to share. They're looking for more literary sketches to fill in their map.

Good luck with what you're writing and painting and doing this week!

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Thousand Lashes



As reported today in Poets and Writers, PEN is holding weekly vigils outside the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in London in support of Raif Badawi, an activist and blogger who was convicted last May for insulting Islam. Badawi was sentenced to ten years in prison and one thousand lashes, the whipping was begun last Friday. He will receive 50 lashes each Friday following morning prayers for 20 weeks. (They say their prayers first.) The extended punishment is intended to instill fear in the population and cause severe long-term damage to Badawi, probably death.

Really. A thousand lashes?

Another shot over the bow warning writers everywhere to not insult Islam. Never insult Islam or write anything that can in the slightest way be construed as criticism if you value your head and your back. Don't insult Islam if you value your freedom and the writing life. Don't insult Islam or....

delete delete delete 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Three Friends

It takes a lot to know
what’s right
to let others in
when solitude fits this shoe.
It takes a lot
when night looms
endless
as a stopped clock
not to be afraid.
When the quiet overtakes
me, myself and I,
it takes a lot to face the facts
to know what’s right
to ask for help,
to pave the way and be brave
to be in your bedtime prayers.
I don’t want to be brave
I don’t want to be there.


Linked to the poetry garden and the Tuesday Platform. I've never been good at reading on stage, knees get wobbly and the podium shakes. It's easier here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

One More Flash For The G-Man

FLASH 55

It's been a while
without his smile.

Fridays have never been the same
though it's been a while

without the G-Man in my
blogroll. It's been a while.

I never got to boast a Yahtzee
never had that cup-a-Joe.

His graciousness I sorely miss
though it's been a while.

It's been a while
without his smile.


When Galen Hayes retired from active blogging, he passed the Flash 55 mantle to the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. This prompt was a final tribute to him. He died suddenly last month. They will be offering the meme on the first weekend of every month in his memory. Thank you, poets of the garden, for giving me a forum to say goodbye.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Burning out the Black



The boy trudges along the road
with a load of sticks on his back.
Cook fires burn the black out of the tropic night
and viewed from the top of a hill by a cross
(erected after the massacre
  inspired by the School of the Americas)
they dot the landscape like lights over L.A.
but the air smells like burning shit.

Down an alley in the city
through a fence he once glimpsed
a rope slung around a tree and tied post to post
from which clothes were hung to dry
and wood did not burn.

Further up the street were gated communities
and guards with guns in all the banks
and a pool behind an iron fence.
Drawn to the water, he peered through the filigree
at the diving board and a waiter with a towel
until they shooed him away.

Clothes drape rocks around the cook fire
and hang off every available surface.
He dumps his load beside the fire
and stirs the coals with a stick.


This post is based on the prompt at Magpie Tales and dedicated to the people of El Salvador and Guatemala.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What Would You Do With A Day Of Solitude?

Alone for the day. They ask, What are you going to do in that quiet house, all alone? What will you do with ALL that time? 

Shall I waste it? Daydream and piddle it away?  Drink, dance, light candles and incense, play music and write? Write and write and write? Time well wasted. A beautiful wasted afternoon. 

But dusk gathers, and I’m a chicken farmer as well as a writer. Eggs are gathered in baskets and await their sorting and boxing, but now I must go outside into the bitter cold one last time to shut the hens in for the night.

In the light of the quarter moon, the greenhouse glistens like a snow globe and each frosted blade of grass across the expanse of lawn is an ice crystal twinkling like fairy dust in the headlights of my pickup. I’m a chicken farmer and winter has arrived at last. The ground is frozen so my boots won’t sink into the mire that surrounded the chicken coops from the rain and slush preceding Christmas. There was no hope of it drying under the gunmetal sky with the low light of the winter solstice. No hope of a terra firma without the air temperature dipping into the twenties and staying there. Staying there.

I’m a chicken farmer and with dusk the chickens are back inside and roosting, and I must shut the coops. Roosting, they are vulnerable to any creature that might chose to invade the coop under cover of night: the coons and the skunks, the mink, fox and ground hogs, all hungry for a tasty chicken on a cold winter’s night, a meal worth the risk of a foray into populated areas. So I must cross the poultry fence in the light of the headlights I aimed to light my way. I traipse across the frozen blades of fairy grass that crunch underfoot like tiny bones to secure the coop, shut out the varmints and protect the sleeping chickens that turn comatose with the setting of the sun. Lively creatures by day, they turn silent and immobile by night, becoming even more defenseless than they naturally are. 

The stars that populate the sky and the moon at half-mast help to light my way and I reach the open door without tripping over the poultry fence or the feeders or the big stick one must carry by day to ward off the rooster with his spurs. The hens are lined up on their roosts like sparrows on a high wire. The white rooster is on the top rung surrounded by his adoring flock. He lifts his head and gives me a baleful look but doesn't budge from his perch. I slam the door shut and wedge a board against it for added protection against the crafty coon with crafty hands that can turn handles and unlatch fences. Sleep settles over the coop buttoned up for the night, and all are safe. I’m no longer a chicken farmer. I’m a writer.