Friday, June 27, 2008

A Fatted Calf

Yesterday's post made me sound like an elitist jerk, something I never want to be. Again, quoting a little from Kim Stafford's book about his father: "That was it. There was an aristocracy of creation. Membership was absolute, but available. Forceful people were excluded, the proud, the pretenders, excluded because they declined "to be willingly fallible in order to find their way." But anyone who told their own puzzling story could be in the circle. Anyone who paid attention by writing or speaking their own truth could be Caesar of the vast, fragile empire of one life, and championed."

I believe that anyone "who pays attention by writing or speaking their own story" should be included and championed in whatever "circle" of aristocracy there might be. I know that here, in my town, and maybe in yours as well, there exists a chasm between the university poets, the educated, those who have a degree, and the ordinary town poets. Bill Stafford was always "an includer." Everybody was welcomed to the party, met with robes and rings and a fatted calf. That's the way it should be.

(painting: The Prodigal Son, by Gerrit van Honthosrt, 1622)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Having a Good Summer, Or...

What I Am Reading Now. EARLY MORNING: Remembering My Father, William Stafford,by Kim Stafford.

I truly love this book. It melts me, it makes the inside of my head tingle and shine. Kim Stafford writes of his father, "One time, after my father had read a stunning poem to start a program, someone in the audience spoke up: 'Do you want us to applaud,' she said, 'after you read a poem like that?'

'Applaud?" my father said. 'I want you to get down on the floor and grovel.' Everyone laughed."

I laughed. But I also want to get down on the floor and grovel. I love this man. Having been lucky enough to have attended a poetry workshop offered several years ago at BYU, in which both William Stafford and Leslie Norris were presenters, I now have their marks of comment or approval on all of the poems I submitted.

In the last month of his life, in the early morning of August 6, 1993, which was the anniversary of the day the U.S. bombed Hiroshima, Stafford (the quiet peacemaker) wrote this:


From the sky in the form of snow
comes the great forgiveness.
Rain grown soft, the flakes descend
and rest; they nestle close, each one
arrived, welcomed, and then at home.

If the sky lets go some day and I'm
requested for such volunteering
toward so clean a message, I'll come.
The world goes on and while friends touch down
beside me, I too will come.

His son says that after one of his father's readings, someone in the audience shouted out, "I could have written that!"

"But you didn't." He replied, and waited for a beat of silence. "But you could write one of your own."

Well, not everybody could. But, you know, I think that writing poetry, understanding poetry, real poetry like Stafford wrote, is like writing in, and understanding another language. Either you can or you can't. Either you "get it" or you don't.

The Way It Is

There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it's hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop times unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.
--William Stafford

There's a thread you follow. I don't want to ever let go of the thread.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tasting the Sun


Why is it
No one hungers now,
Trusting only each other,
Their divine hands helpless
In their pockets,
Their beautiful faceless heads
Down against a lowering sky?

But this little one sees,
Remembers the road that is
A milky spill of suns,
Turns toward a past
Where dead souls know that
Huilzilopochtli is the god who
Ate fire as a sacrament,
Summoning back life,
The resurrection.

See how she tastes his fire,
Lets his sparks light their
Common ether,
Lets them sift through her
Ethereal sky-skin.

She carries away in her hand
Hot coals to light her way across,
To wherever it is
Ghosts go.

(Written to another of Rick Mobbs terrific paintings, The Kiss. Needs work, suggestions?)

RIP, George

I am saddened to learn of the death of George Carlin from heart failure yesterday. If I had been a comedian, I would've chosen to be George. He got it right every time!

You were THE BEST, George. We'll miss you!

"Gee, he was just here a minute ago!" That's the way he wanted to be remembered. Let it ring!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Russian Olives

Ten p.m. and the temperature outside is 78, after a HOT day. The back door is open and the night air coming in is delicious with Russian Olive tree smells. Just thought I'd tell you. (Something like noticing the color purple.)

The picture is one of MontanaRaven's. She's the very best photographer I know. It's called "some consider this tree a weed."

A Tale of Two Junes (6-20-'07, 6-20-'08)

Last summer, Hawaii! This summer, BRACES!

(Clicken to embiggen, to better see all those rubber bands!)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Six-Word Bio

Ah, Mariacristina. Okay: I am always someone else's girl.

But there are so few of us who belong to ourselves, totally. And would we want that if we could have it? Sociable creatures that we are....

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, my cousin Ginger made me a lovely bride dress out of old window curtains. I was nine. Many years later, I wore my best friend Jan's wedding dress (something borrowed) on the day we celebrated our marriage. Many, oh yes, many years later, we are still celebrating--today, forty-four years. My word. Where has the time gone?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I spent two hours today on the phone with Tammy the Warrior Woman...I was so nervous before she called you might have thought I was awaiting an audience with the Queen. Which, of course, she is! She taught me how to do a sidebar, walked me through the tough parts, and generally re-vamped my blog. Like Chiefbiscuit, er, Kay, said, the place may look a little strange and those of you who think of me as Pepek may continue to call me by that name...but, like Pinocchio, I have become a real, well, girl!

Thanks, Tammy!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

To all you fine dad's out there: YOU ARE!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Joy of Lex


Remember my little poem about Orson Scott Card, which form I couldn't recall?

Hey Nonny, Hi Nonny,
Weird Science-Fantasy
Hasn't the wherewith to
Buy this cannard;
Try us again next year
If we're not bankrupt, for
Remuneration, Dear
Orson Scott Card.

Well, I found it! From: The Tenth Muse.

The double-dactyl is a short verse form invented by the American poets Anthony Hecht and John Hollander in 1966. The poem consists of one sentence containing forty-four syllables that are distributed over eight lines and fall into two four-line stanzas. The first three lines of each stanza are dactylic dimeter; the last one is a choriamb. The two stanzas end with a masculine rhyme on the last syllable of the choriamb. The final feature of the form is found in line six of the poem: a single, six-syllable word which is a double-dactyl. The example illustrates the rhythm, rhyme scheme, and other salient features of my favorite form.


Dactyls in dimeter,
Verse form with choriambs
(Masculine rhyme):
One sentence (two stanzas)
Challenges poets who
Don't have the time.

One more example, from The Tenth Muse:

Pitiful Tantalus
Stole food and drink from the
Table of Zeus;
So, he was punished with
Torture of sustenance
Just beyond use.

Give it a go!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

RWP: Watching You

Anniversary: Keep Away

After forty years
Your face is one
I no longer recognize
Among other half-remembered faces
Of children grown
Lovers gone
Friends departed

In your endless rage
I know only
The red wilderness
Of burnt Mercury
I would be glad
For some small thing of Earth
A red carnation

Once keep-away
Was something children played
Now I listen to you breathe
You sleep in pieces
This part of you
That part of you

I think how as a boy
You hid a pocket knife
In the top of your Commando boots
Had a nosebleed at Grand Canyon
And threw your unsold newspapers
Into gutters

Now you lie buried
Belly down in pillows
Mouth open
The outlines of your dreams
Of Guam, of flight, of Halley's Comet
And the end of the world
A trailing current
Of your death

Leaving no notes behind
No messages

(I posted this one
last year, so if you think you have seen it before, you probably have.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rescue the Princess

Oh, do not try.
She is bought and sold, and
smells of old cheese.
She has lost her story
and does not want
to be rescued.

She is what she is,
will never arrive, never
depart, be welcomed,
or suffer. She is
what she needs: a bed,
a cigarette, a coffee pot.

She is blue, a sort of mold
grows where it takes
getting used to, but she will.
You cannot give her anything.
She is all on her own.
This is her career.

People go by, and
mention her name, but
save your breath--
this Princess will never
be fixed. Do not
defend her. Do not


(painting by Rick Mobbs, "rebirth.")

Monday, June 09, 2008

Home Again!

Home again! Jiggety Jig! We had a great time in the Big Woods. Wish you were there--the best I can offer is a few pictures of the festivities. Minnesota is green as Ireland. The company was the finest!

This is Grandma's House at Walnut Grove, the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prarie," only one of our many adventures! (See below!)

A Prarie Home Odyssey

The Mini-Apple of Minneapolis (not to be confused with the Big Apple)! Did you know St. Paul was first called "Pig's Eye?" Me, neither. Enjoy this little trip!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Tunnel of Love

We are getting ready to take off for the North Woods to visit with I and K and their Mom and Dad, so I will be gone for the next few days. But here's a new picture of the Rhiesling in the Tunnel of Love for your viewing pleasure! Have a good week!


Sunday, June 01, 2008


Gosh. I dreamed last night I was Meredith Grey (of Grey's Anatomy), and I was about to perform life-saving heart surgery on my friend, Nila, who died last week. Anyway, I told them I wanted a big room with lots of light, so they took me to this huge room with a lot of windows, with the sun pouring in. I tried to get my surgical gloves on, but they seemed to be filled with paper, which made them stiff and awkward. I couldn't bend my fingers, and the paper was sticking out like a scarecrow's straw. When they wheeled Nila in, she was not simply covered, she was wrapped like a mummy. On the operating table there was a dirty cardboard box with my surgical instruments--some saws, screwdrivers, a butcher knife...I rummaged through the box, looking for a scalpel. I finally found what looked like an exacto-knife, and I began practising my planned maneuvers in air, over and over (just like Christina did before her big surgery on last weeks show). These moves were like a tic-tac-toe grid. So I began. I carefully cut through Nila's mummy bandages, and to my surprise and horror, discovered a grody OPEN EYE. I knew immediately I was too high, so I moved lower and began to carve another grid...

...I woke up, let the dogs out, and brought them in, and went back to sleep. I dreamed I was trying to tell my dream to everyone, and nobody was interested, which is probably true. Lala.