Category Archives: Poetry

The occasional poet and the cypress

Artist Retreat updates from the occasional poet and the primitive seamstress (we are one and the same in case you are wondering. . .).  On the stitching front I finished number 13 and moving forward.  Lots of threads.  Loose and delicious.  I love it all.  Sea salt & vinegar and fog on the beach –who knew I liked IPA–?  NPR by morning and a daily walk through the cypress where I recently met an Australian labradoodle named Murphy. The turtle evades me though I’ve received this tip to look where the bridge bends to the right.  That place where I spotted two red-bellied woodpeckers.  Common to this part of Florida.

#13

Primitive Seamstress series #13

 

A few months ago my friend Mike Burwell (the Cartography of Water) and I decided to get back to a writing group.  Small.  Just the two of us.  By doing a poem a week.  We’ve dubbed it the Thursday poem.

It all began the summer of 2005 in Anchorage, or maybe it began in Homer when we all met at the Kachemak Bay Writer’s Conference.  At Land’s End.  In the bar no doubt.  After listening to Billy Collins.  It included myself, Mike, and James P. Sweeney (A Thousand Prayers) who is also on the current season of Ultimate Survival Alaska.  Jim is too busy pissing people off and getting his book published to participate but Mike and I have been sharing a Thursday poem.  It is great motivation, and like everything in 2015, I’ve come to consider them beginnings.  Enough.  A start. Let go of judgement. Write. Share. The editing comes later.  A different approach than in Alaska where we tried to bring our most polished work to the table.  Both are acceptable formats.

Full disclosure:  I have no book.  Not even a worthy manuscript.  (not yet) –In fact this particular day of the Thursday poem I was so inspired (and defeated) by another poet that I nearly didn’t write a poem at all.  I felt unworthy.  How she flitted, like a hummingbird from right to left and tab far to the right and back again and it all worked so well. . . the alliteration, and I so safe (wearing the big panties) with my line breaks and hugging the left margin to the point of boredom.  Blah blah blah.  So imagine my surprise when my Thursday poet partner responds that he loves it all from top to bottom on the first draft.  Wow.  And so today I bring you said poem.

On the 8th day

I am cypress in a residential swamp
not uncommon not   not great my hips
swell wide at the border
in the company of lily pads  waft
across the shadow                            stir
waxy green upon the water                                               
            the turtle        promenade
does not care to win the race
who’s on first does not matter        discipline
            or disciple we are all god gifted
spreading wider        the Great Blue           heron              flies
            not without a scene
            screaming at interruption is redemption
for the unobservant.
 
Pray attention
 
or perhaps I am the bead of water
carefully cupped at the breast of stillness
all gathered wetness
            an offering     back    to sky
shadows long and dark go both ways
            across reflection                                . . .ripple. . .     
I am accumulation of whisper and dew drop
a pause upon the cusp         of Grace
 
The knees knobby (like) amputated stumps
protrude up and out            in sameness
not matched or exact           
            not not twin or triplet          
            not self-conscious or flattered         only raw
not cruel or kind the alligator rests
unnoticed.
 
Brenda Roper (2015)
 
cypress
 

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives in Santa Fe, NM.  She is currently at an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  Her work can be seen at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage in February 2015 or visit Art Happenings.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

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From Cerrillos to South Capitol

Poet applause in my heart

I wake into a Sunday of NPR discussion of Evangelical adoptions and Irish music and texting about a new odd job —to add to the five I already have in that slow flexible climb to enough a month for living.   I wake from a dream that spews forth like the Pavlof volcano erupting in Alaska.  Percolating notions and stand-ins for something important all mixed together and exploding from my unconscious.  The most vivid: the boa constrictor emerging from the side of the yard that is really a bedroom who turns into an alligator at the curb and flies across the street to climb a concrete porch where it is now a psychedelic lion with pink and purple flowers all beautiful and strong on the stoop.  Whoa.  From fear to glory.  And I fly too.  On my back, levitating in a long hall while two men look on.  As if I have to prove myself.  To rise up from “the help” wiping the salad dressing off the floor.  Okay.  Enough.  But I find dreaming fascinating.  And at the end of it all 34A appears.  A long ago number on a hospital bracelet that belonged to my mother.  Her room.  I made art out of it 10 years ago.  What are these messages?  These stories unfolding?

 

On Thursday I take my car in for brakes and walk from Cerrillos to South Capitol.  It is morning and I walk in the shadow of the buildings on the East side of the street as if I am in a foreign country.  Alive and elated and joyful.  Where does that come from:  a walk outside the perimeter of our own lives?  A change of direction?  Graffiti and signage and the dishevelment of an old street.  Gritty.  I like gritty.  I take out my new smartphone to snap photos as I go.  It so thin and heavy and I fear I may drop it.  I feel a bit conspicuous but that doesn’t matter.  Really.  At Baca Street I push the button to cross and take myself to Counter Culture where I’ve not been and eat the best lemon poppyseed cake ever with an equally delicious latte at a table by the wall beneath the art of photographs for pets.  The phone rings.

I rise to the occasion of the question and outside find a path I did not know that carries me all the way to the Railyard Park in a matter of minutes.  Past the community garden.  The Rail Runner runs and I pause to take its picture.  On my way to work but I have a moment to spare.  And now I vow to do that weekly.  A walk from this neighborhood to that neighborhood on a path that will carry to coffee.  To rambling thoughts of possibility and a person I use to be — on other paths.  In other places.

In this slow coming spring the days pass without focus.  A blur of interview and company and shuttle here and there.   The Etsy site undone.  The blog unwritten.  No poetry for Wednesday.  But there has been art.  In Microscale in Madrid at Metallo Gallery and An Affair with the Muse at Kristin Johnson Fine Art in Santa Fe where my work shares the walls with other artists, known and emerging and the joy of friendship and good times and wine and food and walking beneath the stars of the New Mexico sky.  A glimpse at  “behind-the-scenes” of movie making on porches and side streets and vans with kitchens on Armijo.  Those yellow signs with letters sideways and upside down that instruct those in the know on where to go.

 

And the trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida that blew open my closed perceptions has come and gone and my photos not posted or sent to friends, but still I keep the weather of St. Pete on my homepage.  Just in case.  I check rentals on craigslist and subscribe to a newsletter and the Warehouse Arts District but will the humidity be too big an obstacle? And my mom has gone into the hospital and is out again as I plan a trip back for the family reunion.  For my birthday.  To get together with sisters and brothers and cousins and those aunts and uncles that remains.  A hug to my dad and hopefully more than 30 minutes.  So hard to fit it all in.  A moment here and dashing off for a moment there.  Maybe a swim in a lake, a walk on the beach of Lake Michigan, wine tasting and a walk in the country but how to get from Detroit to Durand?  No public transportation that allows independence except a car I won’t really need and one might as well pay the difference to fly into the local airport.  For convenience but it is steep.  Pause.

Everything is changing.

travel

Today a poetry reading in Eldorado.  200 NM poems.  I will sit in the audience to applaud the poets.  Important to applaud the poets.

Go well into the tomato starts, the basil outside the door, the pots of pansies that make you smile.  Through whatever gate you walk into whatever street you travel onto that path that carries us forward.  To life without fear.  To love.  To ourselves in all our imperfect beauty and authenticity.

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives too far from the ocean but loves her new digs in South Capitol.  Her work can be seen at Kristin Johnson Fine Art or hereIn Microscale is up through the end of May at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

 

 

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endings, beginnings and 9 degrees. . .

I just finished the bag of sea salt & vinegar potato chips I purchased on Labor Day weekend –they expired at the end of the year.  Washed down with a bottle of winter brew dark beer still in my refrigerator from the holidays because everyone drinks wine instead.  Me too but today it felt right.  One beer.  Late afternoon.  Sunday football I do not watch though I know the Broncos lost and a friend is rooting for Seattle.  And though sunny outside it is well below freezing.  A day worthy of the bomber hat and big boots.  The beer, the salty potato chips, the rest of the Trader Joe’s chicken salad with cranberries and all those calories (justified) because I am moving.  Across town.

Pulling out the stove in one house to clean and pulling out the stove in the other.  To clean too.  Apparently something built a nest beneath the stove top, and between the wall and the oven since the last tenant.  Or maybe the last tenant never cooked and those curled up leaves are from a former former tenant who had a little grow operation.  This might explain the problem with the deadbolt on the front door and the reason it was not working yesterday.  Or the fact it was 9 degrees.  Or operator failure.  Or because the doorjamb has been pried open with a crow bar so many times the entire door is broken inside, but the landlord wants to make it right.  Has. Lovely people.  Thank you.  — still I’m pushing for a new door +  a screen door too.  With a little eye hook.  For summer.

It is a sweet little loft casita.  I will be happy there.  A gate for greeting.  A chile ristra against the adobe.  The light is fantastic and I have my own yard and coyote fence, for privacy and entertaining.  Don’t laugh.  I do occasionally invite friends over.  That said I like that it is on a one-way alley and not exactly easy to explain the exact location or how to drive to arrive.  The wall outside my kitchen window is built of stone.  Picturesque.  It feels country European to me. I  pretend I am near the vineyards of Tuscany though happily in Santa Fe.   South Capitol.  I will plant sunflowers and geraniums and sit beneath my umbrella to bask in their beauty.

Leaving El Zaguan is not without pangs of “will miss you” –the most charming apartment and compound ever, creative neighbors/friends, fantastic staff who leave little gifts outside my door:  firewood, rusty metal, boxes, a painted glass, vintage linens, donuts and books and clothes. . .good memories.  It has been fun and fruitful and I am happy for the experience(s).  Did I sit on the porch swing often enough on summer Sunday afternoons?  Walk around the garden?  Look at the stars?  For those creative types looking for an artful life in 500+ square feet I hope you consider applying to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.

 

Life and the New Year are filled with a celebration of  endings and beginnings.  One job ends another door opens.  That kind of thing.  Change and poetry and art in new places.  Four of my 12”x12” oil on canvas will be part of the small works room at the new Kristin Johnson fine art gallery located at 323 East Palace in Santa Fe (across from La Posada).  I hope you can make the New Year’s Opening Reception this Friday January 18th from 5-8pm.  The gallery features a fantastic selection of contemporary fine art including abstract expressionism, encaustic and photography.  I am thrilled to be a part of this great addition to the Santa Fe art scene.

Transition

On the writing front I  rekindled a poetry group after a long hiatus.  Actually a resurgence of the one from Alaska.  Just Mike and I at the moment.  Trusted friends. We miss you Jim.  Perhaps inspired by the combining of art and poetry in the Odes & Offerings exhibition of last spring or the current Voice to Image exhibit at Vivo Contemporary where Mike (Burwell) responded to the work of Ro Calhoun and read his poem at the opening last week.  Or perhaps it was simply time to begin again.  The poem I brought to the table, begun in May 2011 and untouched until a few weeks ago, is a long two page ramble peppered with memory and lyricism, about meeting my biological father.  Maybe I’ll read it at the upcoming reading at El Zaguan –the 2nd in a series of on-going readings by writers/artists in residence.  Sunday afternoon January 27th, 2013.  545 Canyon Road, Santa Fe. Free and open to the public.  Time TBA.

 

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High Road Haiku-ing and Happy New Year!

The weekend between the ending of one year and the beginning of another.  By calendar.  The light softly returns. Three clementines shrivel in their bowl and my brother hooks up to a sodium IV.  I buy a $10 ristra from a truck in Chimayo and later coconut/carrot cake interlude with coffee and friends on the High Road to Taos.

Today laundry and quietude and a Sunday drive to Madrid where all roads end at the Mine Shaft after a wee bit of shopping.  A friend visiting from New York via Alaska and Afghanistan finds boots for buying that are very custom cool –while I choose the Silver Margarita.  Cheers.  and thank you and sometimes life is all about food.  Tamales wrapped in corn husks with deep red chile and kobe beef burgers with green chile on top.

Salty hand-cut fries and conversation before the music. Oh! Christmas Eve habanero hot fudge with real vanilla ice cream.  Holiday soup drop in before or after the Farolito Canyon Road walkabout and champagne/eggnog cheer meeting the family of friends.  A cocoa log for sharing from a red plate, chicken mole and more red than white.  Wine.  Saturday Santa mission through the Jemez and a first trip to Mu Du noodles — certainly not a last. Fantastic flavors in generous white bowl warm sake in ceramic cups.  Then another.  Coconut lime sorbet so fully satiated. Laughter and talk of travel and Land Rovers and everyone moving to Santa Fe. Longing and lasting and listing and poetry on the horizon.  There is merriment and change and the full moon risen and waning.   And here’s to haiku-ing on the High Road, haiku-ing on paper napkins and happy New Year haiku-ing all those roads we may travel down in 2013.  To that place where dreams are discovered.  Friends and food and fools are we.  With a little blues on the side.  Harmonica happiness to all.

 

Ode to Sugar Nymph

 Cake on the High Road

Truchas? Trampas? Penasco!

Too much white frosting

–Mike Burwell (and friends)

 

Corona Mine Shaft Blues

Mandolin haiku

Sunday shot of Tequila

sings me yesterday

–Brenda Roper (and friends)

Brenda is currently one of six writers and artists living in the oldest artist colony on Canyon Road.  Studio visits welcome by appointment.  Happy New Year!!

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Merry Christmas card & Happy Holidays –!

BELIEVE in possible. . .window
Christmas tree in store white
magic lights do glow and outside
a snow angel or two.  Jingle bell
the cathedral rings long. Then try
the road less traveled by. . .
 
 HAPPY Holidays jingle JINgLE
solstice sweet holy Hallejulah
JOY to fire light the world on
and fly our singing hearts oh!
wings of peace away fly away to
territory untethered. . .cloud
snow star memory tear whisper
kiss kind friendship into a New Year!
 
Peace and bliss and possible. . .
 
 
 

Merry Christmas & JOYful

ode to snowflakes

tree lights song. . .
 
all the stockings are hung by the
Chimney with care. . .ice skates,
brick cardboard fire place hot
cocoa and orange memory. Santa 
cookies sugar and icing. Nuts in
a bowl for cracking.  A box of
chocolates.  Poke.  A carrot for
Rudolph up on the rooftop and sing
Frosty the Snowman and Dickens. . .
it’s a Wonderful Life White Christmas
–peace on earth goodwill toward men
 


and woman.  Sweet clementines

 

In the bathtub on Saturday it comes to me a calling for wilderness.  A sojourn walkabout drive all the way to South America across many borders.  Across the portrayed realities of gunman and drama and fear.  Into the possible the unknown the joyful abundance of challenge and shift and belief.  To experience the tides as they rush in than out.  Toe heart rushing through and away and over flowing the river floods and bleeds no bandage thick enough to sustain the violence say push push believe drive go open up gratitude kind truth like a Hallmark Card.  Put down our weapons of mass destruction drone nuclear cold war pharmaceutical economy and help the butcher’s son the widow’s daughter.  Make room for those who need.  And that is all of us.  All.  Sweet juice dribble down our cheeks over our lips to love.

*******

Brenda Roper is one of 6 writers and artists currently living in the oldest artist colony on Canyon Road in Santa Fe.   Her work forthcoming in Cirque the Solstice Issue #7.

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Books & alleys & blossoms come & go

Monday morning Memorial Day.  I read on the internet this morning that one can bid on the crypt of Elvis.  Really?  Is that cool?  Weird? –but in the interest of capitalism there is no marketing scheme not possible.  No mail today.  My Netflix cannot be returned but since I haven’t watched it yet, though it came five (5) days ago –well that works out.  That and our substitute mail carrier refusing to pick up the outgoing mail.  I chased her down the street on Friday but tactfully.  She appeared overwhelmed under the weight of her leather pouch and long dark hair.  And very young.   She laid the stack of envelopes I handed her on top of a painted Santa Fe style box at the end of Gypsy Alley and assured me she would take care of it.  I want to trust her so walked away and let it go.

Canyon RoadCanyon Road alley

No banking and Kaune’s might be closed for the holiday but I am working this afternoon.  Because there is no possibility of errand I can walk the 15 minutes to this day job.  I love walking.  And I love walking to work through the gravel one way narrow streets of Santa Fe:  Abeyta, Las Animas, Arroyo Tenorio. . .it has been the loveliest of spring and how quickly the blossoms come and go.  The brilliant orange petals of poppies.  The lilacs long gone.  The wisteria, apple and cherry blossoms no more.  Everything in its own time.  For images please click here.

Odes & Offerings

Prose by Robbins 18"x24" mixed media on panel

The Odes & Offerings Exhibit continues through June 8, 2012 at the Santa Fe Community Gallery on Marcy Street.  Part of the Santa Fe Poet Laureate program and the final project by current but outgoing Poet Laureate Joan Logghe — where 36 local poets were paired with 36 visual artists.  The poets provided two poems and asked the artist to choose one then embed the text of the poem into their work.  I met my poet Phil Geronimo at a reading in the Gallery a few weeks ago.  He is quirky and earnest and fun loving and I was thrilled to finally meet him.  Rumor says he was waiting tables on the night of the opening.  A former long time employee of Collected Words.  A good poet. Grateful he thought my piece “Prose by Robbins” captured the spirit of his poem in its colorful and somewhat quirky interpretation.  A good match.

Prose by Robbins
It has been a very sweet event.   So much literary talent.   So many books.  All the readers well-read and read well.  And word on the street is a book from the exhibit is forthcoming by Sunstone Press.  Stay tuned.  Thank you Joan.  Thank you poets.  Thank you Rod Lambert and the Santa Fe Community Gallery, etc.  If you haven’t been please go:  201 W. Marcy Street/ Gallery Hours: M–F 10 to 5/Saturday 10 to 4.  Closed Sunday/Monday.

Speaking of New Mexico and poets please check out 200 New Mexico Poems –A New Mexico Centennial Project celebrating history through poetry.  Submissions still accepted.  Enjoy!

James P Sweeney

author

More on books, words, sweet events and all –my good friend Jim. Sweeney.  or James P. Sweeney, has published his epic experience of survival in the Alaska Range in his new book (that took eight years to complete): Alaska Expedition Marine Life Solidarity.  I can’t put it down and hope you will consider supporting his endeavor.  It’s a great read and you won’t be disappointed.  Order your copy at http://www.jamessweeneybooks.com/.

 

Brenda is currently one of six (6) artists in residence at El Zaguan, the oldest continuous artist colony on Canyon Road.  Please stop by 545 Canyon to see  the Zaguanistas Summer ART Kick-Off:  Billy McLane, Bethany Orbison, Max Carlos Martinez, Adam Eisman, Marilyn Sahs and Brenda Roper -–an eclectic group exhibition of photography, painting, words and wood.  Friday 5-7pm/Saturday 12-4pm. Through June 8th.  Studio by appointment dreamcafe943@yahoo.com.

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Who’s gonna build your wall?

Sunday in the High Road House above Bisbee.  The super moon risen and roosted. The sun shines all the way to Mexico.  I awake refreshed from pondering and fall down too much in my own head surprised it is only 7am (that one hour time difference — but in my favor).  The wind blows but not in alarm.  I think, to no one beside me but many in particular, that when I write my first poetry book or perhaps a new blog it will be entitled “What Keeps me Afraid?” –What keeps me afraid of taking chances, of driving to (fill in the blank), of booking an airline ticket from here to there –of using all my cell phone minutes? What keeps me afraid from quitting my job, from moving to the ocean, from taking all day to sit and read?  What keeps me afraid of  success/happiness?

I decide it already a good day (these are the choices we’re given) and then I read about Erasure poetry.  Who knew?  How do I miss these things so relevant to my own life?  And well now I know and isn’t that the gift?  Of course.  Duh.  Gwarlingo again.  Mary Ruefle. Jen Bervin. Brenda Roper (ha ha. . .).   Mine likely more mixed media and collage than fully erasure since I can’t even follow a recipe but I love this. . .excited to get to those old books at my day job (thanks Portia) and work with thread and yarn and taking away and adding to.  Travel hurts so good for creative inspiration.  And yes justifying the money spent, the time away, the pleasures of this glorious High Road view to all those ghosts still watching from the cobwebs of my judgment days. . .and I’m such a good girl. Yeah right.  Who cares.  I know.  Babbling.

I make an amazing ravioli frittata –in the big cast iron skillet provided.  I know you’re thinking what?  Ravioli frittata –but amazing.  With olive bread toasted and spread with peach preserves.  Groovy yum. Afterwards the walk down the Rose stair to the historic P.O. (attached to the library) –don’t get confused and send happy snippets on artful postcards to the stacks.  I pause on the stair climb oh my lungs please sing yes I can like the little choo choo. Yes I can.  Do.  The drive to Tombstone to look see and then wonderment at the why?  Really.  Even the Bank of America is “for sale”.  Hmmm.  Fat people wait in line to watch the shoot-out at the Ok Corral while costumed cowboys lack enthusiasm in getting me to buy a ticket.  On a side street people target-shoot paper silhouettes as if that is “okay” because it’s just pretend.  Let us not condone the freedom of load and shoot.  People?  I wonder the thrill of such entertainment.  And if  I want I can drive to view the wall being build to celebrate the separation of borders.  Only one mile.  One mile to Mexico.  A thin line.  And white trucks with green lettering.  I didn’t even think to bring my passport.  and I love Mexico.

And all the while the Tom Russell refrain runs ’round . . .who’s gonna build your wall. . .who’s gonna mow your lawn. . .who’s gonna cook your Mexican food when the Mexican maid is gone. . .who’s gonna build your wall? and God Bless America but I do and I don’t.  Glad I went on the two second tour.  Bought a post card for mom and dad, but really this is why people travel across the country on vacation? the anti-creative or curious and aren’t we all sometimes.  Holsters, hats, a stagecoach –dull  dry brown– wind geysers sweep up in the distance.  No hiking in the Dragoon Mountains today though that would be lovely.  Lovely to retrace this trip with friends.  To hike and meander and bird.  Share wine on the porch.  Climb all the up down staircases,  pizza at the Screaming Banshee, and night cap at the Stock Exchange.

Why am I afraid of doing too much and not enough and stillness, when stillness is what I’m after.  Of opening too wide inside out so colorful for there is art to do the talking.  To tell the tale.  Clarity slowdown meander like a lazy river played hooky in High School 35 years ago.  May –from study hall.  Wow that was pushing the envelope.  Good for me.  Authenticity does not play games.  I was baptized by my boyfriend at the lake when I was 14.  I was told to do this.  Parents go to church for a few years phase. People were watching.  I still feel them watching.  Always watching.  As if I need to ask permission.  Still.  No one is here.  I turn around but I’m all by myself.  So what happened to the map?

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Roots and community and everything in bloom

The company has come and gone.  The studio empty of bed and family.  Missing and stillness.  Projects placed and silent.  Time passing quickly and fully and not enough.  April is poetry month and this weekend I go to two readings.  Joan Kane, Inupiaq born in the modern world.  Raised in Anchorage.  Schooled at Harvard and Columbia.  Still a King Islander.  Her voice breathes forth the language of her tribe.  Her ancestors.  Her rootedness to a culture though she was not born among the cliffs, and King Island only rock.  Contemporary telling of myth and memoir and spirit passed on and down and recorded.  She is wife and mother.  Poet. Read at IAIA.  The night of the hard rain.  The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife in its 2nd edition.  Backstory enriched. Wonderful.

I never knew my grandparents on my father’s side having just met my father.  And only my maternal grandmother Grace.  I beg for photos and have them now.  All the grandparents and great grandparents.  Cake and celebration. Artful project and forever.  Thank you.  So much unknown.  No tribe to carry us forward.  No shared history that formed us on the wings of ravens.  No name given at the death of one to the birth of the next.  I am adrift  — thinking of rootedness and community.  At the 2nd reading this is the context.  Three (3) Santa Fe poet laureates read at the NM History Museum auditorium on Friday:  Arthur Sze, Valerie Martinez, and Joan Logghe.  Very different styles yet all uniquely exceptional.  Excellent presenters and poets.  Humor and myth and abstract well-crafted.  The Palace Press.   It was lovely and during that hour I felt a kinship with Santa Fe.  My community though I often phrase it  “a place of transition” –still it grows on me.  The balloon man on the Plaza, the fall of light across adobe.  Shadows.  The mix of culture and tourism and sunshine.  Turquoise and drought and sunset. 

 

But place for me is internal.  It comes with me.  I unpack it from apartment 5 to apartment 6.  From Alaska to Baltimore to Santa Fe.  From Michigan to Colorado to Montana, and maybe back.  To a month in Mexico.  To a weekend away.  I’ve written about this before, in the letter poems.  It resides in the imagination of dreams and the comfy white chair where I watch movies and read books and contemplate.  In the dance across the studio.  Tom Russell and Leonard Cohen.  Pause.  For lately I am cracking open. April.  That month of wind and weather unpredicted and blossoms.  Of sun and dust and wet and dry.  This is a good thing.  Joyful –though sometimes I am besieged by the day job.  The squelching of spirit.  Bad attitude and a loss of perspective. 

A friend speaks of being rooted 30 years or so, and I understand how those roots dig in deep and spread and stay and split and sprout and I am adrift.  A steady slow current to nowhere known.  I contemplate that friendship is a reason to take root.  To travel to and across the country and visit and make plans and imagine a dream.  To set priorities and take chances and believe because what else do we have if not the love of others?  It may be time to set my fears aside and plant my toes awhile.  To test the waters.  To dive in and swim.  Hmmm. 

The studio is silent as I contemplate the distractions of poetry and family and a margarita at the Coyote Cantina sunset between the geraniums.  A friend to walk home with through the darkness along the river.  A Maypole neighborhood annual event.  I celebrate the birthday of a friend in our garden at El Zaguan.  Wine and flowers and conversation.  Nibbles and chocolate and reminisce. She brings me maps of places I will soon travel. Chiricahua National Monument where I will hike among the formations of rocks I only realized existed in southeast, Arizona.  To Bisbee where I can see into the mountains of Mexico from my bed on High Road and walk a thousand steps back and forth to the town below.  I am borrowing a tent and taking the stove.  Travel is good for the soul.  Mine.  Ripe with possibility and everything in bloom.  Candles flower showy in the yucca, Valerian, fragrance and birdsong.  Chirp.  Kiss. 

 

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The art of collage and the collage of art: words and such

I have company coming this week.  Family.  A sister who loves Santa Fe and me and a good time will be enjoyed.  Wine tasting and green chile and Ten Thousand Waves.  She is easy and fun and I love her too.  In my efforts to prepare I put off the deep cleaning for the art of collage.  A trip to Michaels 40% coupon in hand.  A trip through words from friends important enough to print.  A glance at a journal entry from 2004.  A glance around the room.  A meander across my thoughts.  Christmas lights burnt out except for one edge still tacked to the wall.  “To Do” ironing and hand washing draped over a chair.  Green chile stew warming on the stove.  An invitation an obligation and an RSVP. . .waffles remind me of Montana.  I will, and maybe, and yes, later by phone but I have a birthday party on the same day.  Still I thank you.  Would love to.  How to admit I am scared of the phone.  Of conversation. Don’t want to bother.  You or anyone. When is the best time –is there a best time or better than now?  Will I catch you off guard?  Will you be happy to hear from me?  Are you eating dinner?  Making love?  Out in the garden?  Busy?  Silly.  I’ve always been this way.  Who knew?  I take after my mother.  The first sentence apology.  Better now.  Really.  Email is good.  –but I long to hear your voice.  What will you whisper? 

Desert dust gathers every 5 minutes anyway but she doesn’t like spiders so I sweep beneath the radiators.  Twice.  And reach toward that dark corner where the claw foot tub bends away from the wall.  I’ve seen them there.  Below the soap dish.  No bother.  I wish to go to the place where the spiders spin philosophy, to sleep with Henry’s letter beneath my pillow.  We are children who have lost our freedoms, disassembled by an installation of men with guns at the International Airport. Emotion and logic are at odds. I feel the weight of solitude.  A collage poem from long ago.  It sounded wistful and everyone wondered “who is Henry” –?  But I am obsessed with the possibility of love and the arrival of spring and all that pungent longing like pregnancy.  Nature’s pink blossoms cause me to trip over the buzzing bees who have not arrived.  Swollen with the fragrance of pollen.  Ripe.  From yesterday.

My mother is in the hospital.  Again. Her artery clogged at 95% — we gather hope  like clouds.  Soft and buoyant to keep her afloat.  To keep her longer.  Longer.  Even a little bit.  Longer.  Like a ruler one upon the other the lengths suspended across the map.  One inch legend.  A strong blue line.  A river.  Meanders.  No one is ever ready for that kind of departure.  So I check for updates — keep the phone on through the night.  All is quiet.  Love gathers in places not visible. 

The studio hovers.  In the background. Tin and blue foam and wedding paraphernalia.  Papers and glue and cake stanchions (of all things) but it seems important.  I will make my mark.  It is Sunday.  Collage somehow seems cheap and shabby.  No matter the sun shines and the pansies did not freeze.  Flat line daydreaming rocks me to sleep.  The photos too flat send me to Michael’s where I feel more crafty than conceptual though I surrender myself to believe in my abilities.  That I will shine in the end.  Chaos will prevail in that way creativity tumbles forth to protect me from shame.  Like a waterfall.  Pour-over and plunge.  No diving.  White chiffon and game pieces bring it back to perspective.  No dust gathers at the kitchen sink.  And a journal entry as I rummage and reminisce from Baltimore:  . . .trying to plan my life around an arrival that may not happen. . .or a departure.  Not my mother’s but my own.  Beyond the border of permission.  This crab is poking outside her shell and no beach has she found.  

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Easter on the High Road: Chimayo, Taos and walking the Rio Grande Gorge

On Easter morning I wander past the blue gate framed in shadow and solitude to the cemetery at the top of the road near our Bed & Breakfast.  A glow of 7am dawning sun over the mountain that cannot be confused as resurrection though it is spring and isn’t that the symbolism really?  The birth of blossoms after the dead of winter? The rising of idea and possibility and friendship road trip  rich with ripeness.  Kumguat burst of citrus opens conversation like song and sometimes politics slow us down and send us running from borders we did not mean to cross or offend with opinion.  Yet it is all necessary.

It was beautiful.  The quiet morning before the walk across the gorge into vertigo and sage.   Impromptu picnic along the Rio Grande on that lovely stretch between the bridge and Pilar –with ants and a lazy river meander dip the toe in the water April Sunday without consequence except for that ant hill –rosebud blanket could not contain. In the end given over to beer and cheese and organic beef jerky.  A fly fisherman in the shallow water.  Afterwards  a poem by Tony Hoagland published in the SUN April 2012:

The Best Moment of the Night

You had a moment with the dog,

down near the base of the butcher-block table

just as the party was getting started.

Just as the guests were bringing in

their potluck salads and vegetarian lasagna,

you had an unforeseeable exchange of warmth setting them down on the buffet,

with this scruffy, bug-eyed creature

who let you scratch his ears.

 He lives down there, among the high heels

and the cowboy boots, below the human roar

rising to its boil up above. Like his, your evening

 is just beginning –but you

are lonelier than him.  You think

that if you disappeared tonight,

 you would not be missed for years;

yet here, the licking of the hands and face;

and here, the baring of the vulnerable belly.

 You are still panting, and alive, and seeking love;

yet no one who knows you

knows,  somehow,

 about your wet, black nose,

or that you can wag your tail.

and doesn’t that about sum it up?

I have mixed feelings about the Kit Carson memorabilia park and cemetery and museum but such is history.  Selective and recorded and repeated.

Three little girls in white Easter bonnets and Ughs pass us on the patio courtyard outside our rooms and the youngest cheerfully bellows “happy Easter Bunny” and I love that.  Happy Easter through the lips of a 4 year old.  Bless her and a weekend with friends on the High Road from Santa Fe to Chimayo.  Holy dirt and Indian dancers.

The Millicent Rogers Museum and “art of the dress” to margaritas at the Taos Inn and Agnes Martin at the Harwood to dinner at the Love Apple –a highlight for us all.  Earthy French wine with a peppery finish and local cheeses with baguette.  Funky aprons and farm-to-table food served by beautiful young women that remind me of myself 30 years ago.  Wholesome idealism and possibility dancing up mountains far above the elevation where I can breathe today –though I try sometimes.  Or not at all when I think about it.  Joyful projection eventually beaten down with the marshmallow bow and arrow.  No chocolate.  The ” l  o  v  e”  not written at the end of a letter.  The email that comes without intimacy.  Only obligatory “send”.  And a voice thick and already an arm’s length away from the phone without “hello” as he hands it to another.  No manners on that side of the tracks.  Now or in the beginning.  No happily ever after.  No interest these men in their daughters.  Our father who art in heaven. . .right.

The day after Easter I walk up Abeyta straight onto the Merry-Go-Round of redundancy.  That hamster wheel circles past the Easter bunny and all those wrappings I found in the garbage behind the trailer when I was 9.  A loss greater than Santa Claus.  What is it about sugar that brings joy?  About secrets that bring pain?  Jesus tortured on the cross does not answer despite his resurrection.  As we pass another cross upon a mountain a stranger recites the rosary and  Kate packs the holy dirt in her eyeglass case.  Hallelujah!  I dump a little in an Altoid tin –for what I wonder?  Still in my purse.  Today grateful for the rain.  A gathering of clouds to release the storm.  Brief and fresh and sunshine everlasting in the mind of the believers.  A ray into the hearts of the truth tellers.  A crack in the armor.  A vision of hope.  The wisteria awakening at the edge of the roof.  Not even May.  A purple haze whispers seductively to those who lean closer.  Do not fear to go to that place where angels venture freely and only fools fear to tread –or is it the other way around?

 

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