Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Tent Poetry 1-1-11

Don't ask, "Are you afraid?"--
everyone is afraid. Ask, "Where
can we find to run?"

-William Stafford
More than Words Can Tell

"Where to run?" Stuck here
in our five-dimensional lives
enfolded in a multi-dimensional universe
we run, eat, sleep, make love,
and wonder. We lie in our beds
and watch the light creep in
illuminating cracks on the walls and the
maculate ceilings as constellations,continents,
faces, emblems, and chronicles, interpreting them
as Signs. We hear dogs barking,
touch one another, cry, say goodbye, run, pray,
write poems, ask questions, make lists,
and run, as if any of these things might suggest
true exploration of what really is,
as if they might be messages
from some far star
that will help us understand Where?
And Why? And What it means to be human?

(NOT my ceiling, btw. Just thot I'd mention that.:D )

Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas


Once wast Thou born of Mary's womb;
And now, newborn from out the Tomb,
O Christ, Thou bidd'st us rise with Thee
From death to immortality.

--Liber Usualis
Rex Sempiterne Caelitum

First, there was a breaking of waters,
like every other birth,
and pain, before the first cry.

There was a star, perhaps a supernova
spilling fluorescent gases into the void,
perhaps a confluence of planets -- whatever...

whatever, His first words may have been Egyptian,
but the Jewish schoolboys, He among them,
circled at the Rabbi's feet, learned Torah,

learned sacrifice, and love, and loss.
He drew us in by blood, by suffering;
every one of us balancing in air, all newly-blossomed, and Reborn.



Suit of Lights

25 Random Things About Me

1. I used to think I could fly (I even wore a cape!).
2. Everybody I ever loved I still love.
3. I have an irrational--almost insane--love for animals (even bugs).
4. I have an irrational--almost insane--love for books--the latest, from Amazon, Mary Oliver's OWLS AND OTHER FANTASIES.
5. I decided to be a writer when I was 12, and began to write the Great American Novel. My novel CHRYSALIS was nominated for the American Book Award by the publisher. Didn't win. (This was not the same one I wrote when I was 12, btw).
6. My great-grandpa was a polygamist. How many of you can say that?
7. I have loved 3 sailors (and that's all I have to say about that).
8. I met my best friend Jan when I was in college, and she is still my best friend, after all these years. We are like Lucy and Ethel, like LaVerne and Shirley.
9. I was a shy and obedient child, a shy and quietly rebellious adolescent; as a young adult I was a hippie, and now I am a shy and obedient old lady (with strong hippie tendencies).
10. In Theater school I learned to become people other than myself....
11. I once got a standing ovation, which will have to last for the rest of my life.
12. If I had been a comedian I would have been George Carlin.
13. I once met Edward Teller, "The Father of the Atomic Bomb."
14. I once toasted a mouse (in the toaster, accidentally).
15. Like Anne Frank, I believe that people are good at heart.
16. Except for stockbrokers and CEO's of megacompanies, who are greedy and evil SOB's!
17. I dream in lurid Technicolor, with casts of thousands.
18. I have five brilliant sons.
19. I have eight beautiful grandchildren.
20. I am afraid of fire.
21. I think I am a good poet and writer.
22. I love my computer.
23. I am grateful that my kids are all smarter than I am!
24. I am still smarter than Tom Cruise (although this may not be true).
25. I don't have 25 friends who have not already done this meme.

My new camera! Me wearing my Suit of Lights!

To Ashley

Why I Love Poetry

You know, the number of people who love poetry is about the same as the number of people who love to wear Davy Crockett hats. So we are a rare and wonderful people!
I think I was, maybe 9 or 10 when I discovered poetry let you say things you could say no other way, and when I was 15 or so, I found that poetry offered a way of understanding things I never understood before. Poetry sparked a new way of feeling, of insights and images I had never imagined: that someone could write The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees/ Is my destroyer moved me to tears.

Edna St Vincent Millay was my first love. Dylan Thomas was my second. After that there were suddenly too many to count, like stars on a good night, after the first one or two.

Mary Oliver writes of praying in words I think apply to poetry as well:

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but a doorway

into thanks, and a small silence in which
another voice may speak.

Like Abbe Joseph says in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, stretching his hands toward heaven, his fingers like ten lamps of fire, "If you will, you can become all flame." And we all understand what that is like, don't we? And we've all come through the doorway into thanks, and most of us have found the silence in which another voice may speak....

And if this isn't clear enough to be useful to you, stick around. Hopefully one day it will be, and you can become "all flame."

Just pay attention.

I write poetry because sometimes it takes me where I need to go, it says what I need to say, and it ALWAYS says more than the words alone say. Sometimes the meaning of the poem is in the white spaces between the words. And sometimes, after a poem is finished, I am as surprised as anybody at how it happens. It is a doorway. It is a small silence in which another voice may speak, and just sometimes, I do become all flame. It lets me say what I can't say any other way. It lets me be more than I am. And if you can pass the poem on to someone else, that's just gravy!

That is why I read poetry, that is why I write it.

Love, Gram Cracker

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas 1975

December 14, 1975

Dear Folks,

Here it is, Christmastime already. Our tree is up and decorated with paper chains and painted salt & flour cookies, the stockings are hanging by the fireplace, the Christ Child and Mary, Joseph, and assorted shepherds, wise men, cows, sheep and a donkey (and the angel) in our nativity set have found a place in our Bar-B-Q.

Christmas will be a little leaner this year, as I suppose it will be for many people. Money doesn't stretch very far, but I guess the things that are really important we have in abundance. Linn wrote this little Christmas Carol last week. He and his teacher are playing it as a violin/cello duet for the school Christmas program on December 18th. It's part of our Christmas present to you.

I was thinking of last Christmas and how good Jer was with the tree and packages--but this year I wouldn't dare leave one package or ornament within an inch of Marc (we call him Coco now, thanks to Jeremy). His hands are constantly moving, opening, breaking, tearing, getting into.... He has several favorite places to play:
in the fireplace (it's so nice and ashy), in the trash, in the toilet, in the Kleenex box, in the cupboards (I find cans of soup and tuna fish in the weirdest places), and in the pots and pans (they make lots of noise). He still has not found the courage to walk more than three or four steps at a time. Hands and knees work fine for him!

Jeremy is still a very thoughtful, considerate, a gentle little soul. In the nursery at Relief Society, while the other toddlers are busy hoarding toys, or taking things away from someone else, making them cry, Jer is busy taking toys to whoever is hurt, or crying, and he sweetly comforts them.

Kit is Joseph in the Sunday school program next week. I took the beard off his pirate mask to help his robe-and-towel costume. It looks really good. He's also supposed to wear a nightshirt for the school Christmas program. He's resigned now, but at first he said it looked like a DRESS!

We have snow again (after 2 weeks of summer in December), and long icicles are hanging from the roof.

December 18th

Just heard Linn play his music. It sounded really pretty! He's a good violin player nowadays.

Got your letter today (and read it 3 times), and the package came yesterday. Many thanks! We're going to fill our Santa and Snowball candy dish up this weekend. I'm not going to make any gingerbread houses this year. I had six little Cub Scouts over Tuesday making cookies and fudge. What a bunch of boys, when I already have five to begin with! Last week we made decorations from decoupaged Christmas cards. Maybe we'll go caroling next week. They're nice little boys.

I have 15 pages of a story started. I'll send it and you can see what you think. I wonder about keeping it in present tense. Maybe it's too hard to read. What do you think? Got a card from Sis. Jones last week--brings us up to 4 cards so far....

Jeremy knows "Claus' this year. You should hear him sing Jingle Bells. He can sing a lot of TV commercials, right on key! And now he walks around going, "Ho,Ho, Ho!" Nutcracker tickets are all gone. So are Messiah tickets, almost as soon as they went on sale. Costs too much anyway. Well, the fairies didn't wash the dishes while I was gone, and I doubt they'll do them while I'm here--so, adios.

December 19th

Linn's school chorus is singing at Cottonwood Mall next week. Jeremy slipped on the ice this morning and landed on a pipe with his eyebrow. It's all swollen up this afternoon (the eye, not the pipe, of course!). Poor eyebrow!

Tonight we're going to go listen to the Tabernacle Choir rehearse--if we can get a babysitter.

(We couldn't.)

I love Christmas, and the tree, and the lights, and Christmas music, and wrapping and giving gifts. I love to look at the boys faces, at their eyes, as they wait for Christmas to come. I love the excitement I catch from them....


We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! It snowed last night, so we have a white Christmas. I noticed that Santa is still carrying around your presents and ALL the Christmas cards we should've mailed in his briefcase....

Marvin and the babies are catching up on lost sleep, the boys are out playing in the snow, and I suppose I'd better start thinking about dinner. Fa la la la la, la la, la, la. We have five little Rock Cornish game hens to roast, poor things.

Marc walks now. He's getting his top two molars and it's sure making him miserable. But he's a very agreeable little person--says "yeah" to everything. Everyone seems happy with their new toys. I glued my thumb to BeeGee's new helicopter's rudder with instant-bonding super-glue. PANIC. Thought for a minute I'd have to have my thumb amputated or else wear a helicopter on my thumb forever...it's sort of like freezing your tongue to the ice tray.

Bye for now, & all our love. Happy New Year! XOXO


(Click twice on the pictures to see full size!)

Giving Thanks 1975

November 1975
Thanksgiving Day
9:30 a.m.

Dear Folks,

Happy Thanksgiving! We are sorry we can't all be together today--I really miss these times together, they come so far apart, and if I could be anywhere in the world today I'd rather be where the rest of you are. It looks as if Marv isn't even going to be here. He had to take two busloads of people up to Park City last night (the last one at midnight), and he got up at 5:30 this morning to take another bus from the airport up to Snowbird. It's snowing like crazy outside. He was going to try to come back to eat this afternoon and then go back up, but I think the weather will be too bad. So I guess Thanksgiving will be one Pilgrim (me) and five little Indians.

The boys have taken their sleds off to the hill at school. I have baked 2 loaves of bread and a pan of cinnamon rolls this morning--now I'm hoping this turkey will thaw soon so I can stuff him. I turned off the parades and cartoons and turned on Beethoven (not very Thanksgiving-ish). Jerry is helping me write this: he's sitting on my lap, pointing to the page, saying "A...B...C...."

With the weather so snowy I guess it's just as well we don't have a long way to drive. We'll light the fire tonight and be glad we're home. But I've surely been thinking of you this morning!

Lee just came bursting in--his face is red as an apple. He's been burying his head in the snow, "making snow-faces," he said. And here come the rest, dropping little balls of snow off their coats all over the floor. They want a piece of warm bread.


The old turkey (bless his heart) is in the oven. Linn says, "Just think about how he used to be alive and running around!" I told him I try NOT to think about that. He said, "It's for a good cause." I suppose so, if you're not the turkey, I tell him. "Well, we're not turkeys," he says. So much for this bit of wisdom.

The TV is on again, and singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving? The snow has almost stopped. It's pretty out.Clouds are laying in the canyons and ridges on the mountains, the trees and bushes are all lacy. I finished writing the roadshow. I think it's pretty good. The play is called The Duyvel and Diederich Katters-kill. It has the Devil in it, and the Ghost of Captain Kidd, and buried treasure, and a lazy man (Diederich) who trades his soul to the Devil for the treasure, and his greedy Wife--all at the time just before the Revolutionary War. It ends with the devil "collecting" as the first shot that begins the war is fired. I'm trying to do the music, too. Anyway, it's fun and it keeps me from getting bored.

We've all had coughs and drippy noses for a couple of weeks--seems like forever. Linn has been taking skiing lessons. He likes it. Gosh, I'm going to try to make a pumpkin pie, so I'd better get going on it. Marv might make it home after all. Darn people who want to go skiing when they ought to stay home with their families and let others do the same.


The pie is in the oven, the sweet potatoes are boiling. It's snowing again. I am sleepy. They wanted to see Marv in the Bishop's office last night, but he wasn't home until midnight (he stayed about 5 minutes) when he brought the turkey. I was beginning to think we'd have hot dogs for Thanksgiving.... I wonder what they wanted him for? Poor Marvin, I guess he's having a free dinner up in the mountains at a beautiful ski chalet, surrounded by jolly skiiers in wooly sweaters beside a roaring fireplace...when he could be here watching Pippi Longstocking and Mr. McGoo and sniffling along with us!

I must go and change Marc's pants. The smell is drowning out the turkey and pie.

One O'Clock

Marvin came home. Hurrah! But he has to go back in half an hour, and the old turkey won't get done. He's nice and brown, but the popper-thing won't pop up. Everything else is done and waiting. Jeremy is still napping here on the bed beside me. He keeps laughing in his sleep. It must be a really funny dream.

10:30 p.m.

Dinner is over, the mess is over, everybody is full and asleep, except me. (Marvin's not home yet). We had a really nice Thanksgiving after all. It has been a good day. I've been thinking of other Thanksgivings over the years--all of the turkeys and potatoes and pies, all the family together--Grandma and John and his bottle of Four Roses, Aunt Lauree and Uncle Frank and all the cousins--and the Thanksgiving you made the pie and forgot to put the pumpkin in it. I hope you know how much we love you, and how often we think of you. Many hugs and kisses from us all. XOXO,


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

En Sof

"See how Christ's blood streams through the firmament; one drop of it will save me. Oh my Christ."

--Christopher Marlowe

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Tent 7-23 LITTLE ELEGY

My all-time favorite poem will have to remain Dylan Thomas's FERN HILL.

But I want to share another: XJ Kennedy's LITTLE ELEGY (For a child who skipped rope).

I love this poem for its fantastic imagery. Every word means more than the word itself, and every image means something much deeper.

Remember how it felt, as a child, jumping rope until you were so tired you couldn't breathe? So, Elizabeth, this child, now lies resting, out of breath, out of turns. But this poem is an ELEGY. She is truly out of turns, and she will rest forever. Her quicksilver feet (and, really, aren't ALL of our feet quicksilver, our footing on this earth unsure, slippery?) didn't quite clear (and yes, we've ALL "missed," caught our foot on the edge of the rope as it whirred under us?) the whirring edge of night. Elizabeth was tripped by death.

And yes, earth, too, spins circles around us all. Like a jump rope. Time passes. The children grow, and mature, and age, and finally die. And eventually we will ALL "trip up." We are Elizabeth. Elizabeth is us. NO matter how lightly we skip, this turning earth will catch us!

Finally, when death himself becomes the "skipper," we pray: Lord, for Elizabeth's sake, for our sake, trip up death.

The poem is music. Imagery like this is rare. I cannot read this poem without feeling a catch in my throat,(the bell tolls for all of us). Maybe it's because I have attended the funerals of two dear friends this week and I am feeling very mortal. Orson Scott Card writes in his weekly column in today's issue of the Deseret News about poetry in general, about a specific poem he loves by Clinton Larsen, called Black Swans. I'm not going to discuss this poem, but want to note some of Card's feelings about it: "The mastery of it is also astonishing. It is like a complete course in lyric poetry contained in 13 lines. He speaks of "using words with multiple meanings in such a way as to use all the meanings at once." Most poets", he writes, "labor all their lives to be a part of the life and heart of everyone who hears or reads it."

XJ Kennedy does this, in 10 lines. Please look it up!

My poem, an old one this time. But I hoped to use words and images with multiple meanings, and like every poet, I want the poem to resonate in the heart and life of those who read it. 24 lines.


Your see-through faces have
run together like watercolor
on oatmeal pages
all my lovers buried alive

I never said goodbye
never knew how
I stored you up instead
in this cluttered attic

inside my head, in a
brown box rough with dust
and tied with barbed wire
for ribbons

one bound creature
of several shadowed hearts
and many limbs
all your vanished words

your brown eyes or blue eyes
all of you locked
like a bunch

of mad or hunchbacked uncles
hidden away
who grind their teeth
in my sleep

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Kashawing (Big Tent: Love's Old Tweet Song)


And so,
this pale son of Scottish kings and
ice-white English princes,
a guest among these island terraces and palms
ringed by Sumatra, West Java, Singapore...
has touched the brown daughter
of Silang and Rizel, of
Filipino sampaguita peddlers and tuba traders.
He, on this side, is the jewelled blue Pacific.
She, on the other side, the dark
rolling dunes of the Philippine Sea.

And, having made
a true and everlasting Kashawing,
he has loosened his knotted tie.
She has taken the gold pins
from her long hair.
In the heat-waves of fiesta at noon-day,
there, in the music of bandurrias,
their feet are off-balance from
the sudden shock of the collision
of east and west. Her island-black eyes
reflected in his English-blue eyes
are wider and deeper now,
glowing with light, like all
the houses on Bagumbayan Pequeno Street.

And everything is moving there
on the horizon,
blue on blue,
both of them transformed,
she by his cool European ice, and he,
by her bright island birds.

* Kashawing: a promise to the Gods

(Happy Tenth Anniversary, Marc and Grace!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Big Tent:: Wild Things


Fear follows
me like hungry cats
at my heels

Feed me
their small teeth sharp
I have put out both
meat and milk

peace offerings
but they do not eat
nor drink
they are not pacified

I have nothing left
to share with them
they remain
hissing and wanting


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memorial Day. All is well.

I existed from all eternity and, behold, I am here; and I shall exist till the end of time, for my being has no end.

-- Kahlil Gibran

I have only slipped into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me...

Let my name be ever the household word it always was; Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near; Just around the corner. All is well.

-- Henry Scott Holland

Daddy, Mama, Brother: thinking of you, missing you, loving you!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Golden Record -- What Turns Me On!


When NASA sent out Voyager 1 in 1977, and Voyager 2 a little later, they sent with them this "Golden Record," just in case someone out there should happen upon it, sometime, somewhere. It contains greetings from us in 55 languages, pictures of us, people, animals, flowers. It shares Earthsounds, thunder, wind, rain, crickets, trains, birds, whales...and it contains upon its golden skin the music of Bach, his Brandenburg Concerto #2, Queen of the Night from Mozart's Magic Flute, drums from Senegal, Australian Aborigine songs, Chuck Berry, among others from China, Japan, and elsewhere....

Just the thought of this piece of us, traveling yet outward and further every second, through the extravagance of the universe, gives me goosebumps.

If you want to see everything that's on it, check out the link above! My Big Tent Poem (below) is part of a piece written years ago.

What Turns Me On?


(an excerpt)

And if the sun
should cool enough to freeze us
or explode to supernova
and thus incinerate us all
what alien ears,
on hearing a concerto of whales
a cry of birds
sent out in orphan Voyager
may celebrate our fragile hope
our itching curiosity
with what in alien delight
may pass for sacramental bread
and wine?

This Astronomy Picture of the Day Photograph is described: "Long before Stonehenge was built, well before the Dead Sea Scrolls were written, ancient artists painted life-sized figures on canyon walls" in Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA. This section of wall is called (because of the larger, dimmer figure in the middle) the HOLY GHOST panel. The sight of this, with the Milky Way stars of our own galaxy showing through a gap in the rocks, also turns me on, gives me goosebumps.

(photo and copyright: Bret Webster)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Big Tent Wordle


Look in God's purse
for hidden candies.
This is no delicate Evening bag.
She carries something simple, black,
crumpled. She will open it for you.
You may peek inside
where there are hidden treasures: zippers
and mysterious pockets. It's lining is
a caparison, a wild extravagance
across the back of an Indian Elephant
on the back of a mouse.
Ganash, on a lotus flower,
candies falling from his trunk into your hands--
a tincture of prod and noose.

Suspend your disbelief.
Feel the patterned lining of the purse
with your fingers for proof.
Fondle the straps
that lock the moon in its place
inside the black bag.
Capitulate to the futile terror of Her fecund
nursery of stars across the high,
steep walls that rise up
toward the clasp.

This is God's purse. Sapient, She will
soon fasten the zippers without a glitch,
doff the splendor, and open
a small tin of lemon drops
for our pleasure,
assessing Her role as Mother,
soothing us with linty candies from Her
simple handbag, wearing Her simple
hairnet, fooling us
with Her simple shoes.

(There. I think I used every one: purse, crumpled, caparison, tincture, pattern, proof, capitulate, futile, fondle, sapient, glitch, and doff. Did I miss any?)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Words for a Fairy Godmother

Listen, I have a confession:
my words think they are
the only beautiful things I have.
They are my lapis lazuli eyes,
my teeth-pearls,
my French damask tongue,
my Speed-E-Namel diamond nails,
my October-opal nipples,
my jade-green navel.
My husband cannot eat them.
My lover's deaf.
Listen, I have sinned.
For penance what shall I do
to bring money home
for milk and bread?
I have a confession: There are worms
in my dreams.
My words are all pigs-in-a-poke
believing that they're treasures.

Must I recant?

(Big Tent Poetry prompt #2 Words)

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Official Tattooed Lady

I thought it would hurt more
this needling and inking of pictures
coming to life on my skin

this black and blue here
across my heart
looks like an eye

could have been anything maybe
a bullseye for any sighting weapon
ah, hell, didn't I ask for this

sign up for it
didn't I pay
this here across my back

these flowers and snakes
look real, don't they
blood coils and green coils

if you look close you can see
something caught and dying
on those thorns, those fangs

that bifurcated tongue
this is how I make my living, see
I show the world what eats me alive

the little acorns and dollar signs
at the small of my back
they're for love and luck

and the little ladybug here
on my lip
they haven't worked yet

but who knows
why did I do it you ask
I want people to see

what I look like.

(This is what the world's most tattooed lady said when asked why she did it.}

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Carter Family one of Wealthiest in Colonial America


Perhaps there never was an official royal class in North America, but the Carter Family who had huge land holdings in Tide Water Virginia were very close. The fortunes of the Carters in England began when William, Duke of Normandy crossed the English Channel in 1066 to fight for the crown of England. Naturally William brought his most loyal Norman knights with him, and among them was a clan of knights known as Cartiers.

According to the Tapestry, which recorded the Battle of Hastings, William found himself in danger of being surrounded and overwhelmed by English soldiers. The Cartiers rushed to defend their Duke, and saved his life. With out their action, William would surely have been killed, so when he won the battle and became King of England, the Conquer showed his gratitude by giving large estates and other privileges in England and Ireland to the Cartier Knights. The Cartiers became part of the privileged class of England.

The Cartiers were progressive and after a few generations many of the Cartier descendants became wealthy manor owners and businessmen. By the time England founded Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, Cartier had been changed to Carter, and the Carters were among the most educated elite of their time. Around 1612, members of the Carter business cartel began looking at the potential of the emerging tobacco trade in Virginia.

John Carter was born in 1613 at Edmonton, Middlesex, England. He was sent to the Virginia Colony in 1635 and settled along Corotoman River, which flows into the Rappahanock River near Chesapeake bay in Lancaster County, Virginia where he founded 'Corotoman' Plantation. He managed to become a colonel in the militia, and was instrumental in driving out the remaining Indians from the region by 1640.

With the support of wealthy relatives and associates back in England, John Carter had the resources to outfit ships to go to Africa and bring back slaves. He soon discovered that Africans from the Ibo culture were excellent subsistence farmers in a semi-tropical environment, and he chose people from the Ibo culture to become slaves on Corotoman Plantation.

While he eventually had children by his five successive wives, it was his son Robert "King" Carter (1663-1736), by his second wife Sarah Ludlow, whose descendants are associated with the history of the Burke family of Washington County, Ohio.

Carter died 10 June 1669 at Corotoman Plantation, and is buried in Christ Church Cemetery, Lancaster County, Virginia. The descendants of the Ibo people, enslaved and brought to 'Corotoman' Plantation by John Carter were the slaves for future generations of John Carter's descendants.

Robert "King" Carter was born at 'Corotoman' Plantation. The name "King" was not used in jest. By 1700 Robert "King” Carter was the richest man in the English Colonies of North America. In other words “King” Carter was America’s first millionaire! He owned nearly 300,000 acres scattered across the Northern neck of Virginia and he had about 1500 African people enslaved on his many tobacco plantations which were managed by resident managers.

Not only did “King” Carter cultivate tobacco, he owned warehouses where he stored tobacco purchased from other planters, and he owned ships which carried the product to Europe where other Carter family members operated businesses linked to the tobacco trade. His ships were also stocked with trading goods, and sailed down to Africa, where the goods were traded for African captives, who in turn were brought back to Virginia as slaves.

Robert “King” Carter had a son he named Robert Carter Jr., born in 1704. Robert Jr. died in 1732, leaving a son named Robert Carter III, who was born in 1728. “King” Carter raised his grandson Robert Carter III, who became a wealthy planter in his own right, known as Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia. In 1791, Robert Carter III emancipated 500 slaves, including the ancestors of the Burkes of Washington County, Ohio!

Henry Burke is an historian specializing in Afro-American history and the Underground Railroad.

(** Just storing this here until I can figure out how to put it somewhere else....)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Pam Antonivich 1942 -- 2010

"My heart is heavy as I mourn the loss of a dear friend Pam aka Batman, from ALS. She was an amazing artist and friend who never gave up. I love you Pam, fly with the angels." -- Tammy Brierly (Warrior Woman aka Robin)

Me, too.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Smoke from the Central Fire

Early this afternoon I was saddened to hear of the death of Wilma Pearl Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

In her book "Everyday is a Good Day," Wilma wrote of attending a "Stomp Dance."

"In the past there was a ceremony in which the medicine man prepared a central fire" around which the people danced all night. "In the morning, every person in the village took a new fire home from this specially prepared central fire. Putting out home fires, then relighting them from the central fire was an important symbol of community and shared relationships." She spoke then of the people "attending Sunday morning church services smelling of smoke from the central fire."

Wouldn't it be a great thing if we all, regardless of our various faiths and genealogies took home a new fire and came away smelling of smoke from the central fire?

(Photo by Yodit Gidey/Durango Herald)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Illusions of Arrogance

My old friend Jerry Johnston writes wonderful columns for the Deseret News. Not long ago he wrote one that I especially liked (Saturday, March 27, 2010) and thought I would share. He titled it "Nothing on Earth is under our control," and began by relating how TIME in Yuba City, Arizona, is reckoned. Half the city is on the Navajo reservation. The other is on the Hopi reservation. Because one half subscribes to Daylight Savings Time and the other doesn't, you can time travel from one side of the street to the other. "And here," Jerry writes, "is the funny part. Nobody seems to mind."

Most Native Americans "don't put much stock in man-made constraints -- things like minutes and seconds, private property, mineral rights, and air space. Jerry says these things were invented by haughty human beings to give them an illusion of control.

"They're fantasies," he writes. "And the idea that people can actually own a piece of the earth -- all the way to the center of the planet" is only a little less silly than thinking "you own the air above your property. It's like claiming to own the sun itself, or the breeze in the sycamore trees or the sound of wild foxes as they bark on the hills...I've heard white Americans complain that Native Americans don't show more pride of ownership.

But I have seen puzzled looks on their faces when a town nails a city limits sign on the top of a mountain -- miles away from the community -- because the city fathers want to control all the zoning. And I've seen them listen extra carefully, trying to understand why farmers and industrialists say they own so many cubic feet of a river.

We'd "go nuts," he says, "living in Tuba City. We'd want to beautify the place, when the truth is the desert landscape is about as beautiful as it gets. We'd want to make the place more efficient. We'd want to know exactly what time it was, every second of every day in every part of town. We'd want to feel we were in control of our environment.

The truth is, nothing is under our control. We are at the mercy of the elements and the Creator every moment of every day. Control is an illusion. It's a delusion of arrogance -- like thinking we actually own the air above the swaths of Earth we think we can buy."


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tales Well Worth Telling

Undoubtedly, there will always be storytellers in our midst with tales well worth telling.

Art by Deviant Art
Storyteller by ~sw33tdreamm



"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower...
--Dylan Thomas

This is how the story goes:

There is a light that only leaves can see,
green cells whose sugar-yellow receptors, like retinas
down the length of their veins, recognize day breaking.

The light is sovereign
as the Father's rituals, as the Son's relics.
The field is white with flowers:
the force is in the flower, and in the field, and in the rain.
The Holy Spirit is light disguised as water.
Will you recognize the glory as it falls before your face,
and on your right hand, and on your left?
Cleanse your feet with water, pure water.

O, sister, lets go down, come on, brother, come on down
O sinner lets go down, Good Lord show me the way

Kick off your shoes! For as long as there is light,
the light becomes a cool river in the heat of day;
fill your arms, fill your skirts with flowers growing down
to the water's edge. We are saved

for such a time as this! For verily, thus saith.

(Down To The River To Pray, Robert Allen Zipkin & Douglas Metgar)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

RWP Volta


Sixty miles per hour
along the Pacific Coast Highway
beside you, and you say, I wish
that you would lay your hand upon my thigh,

and so I do. The sea is gray with rain,
and no perceptible horizon reveals
saltwater to sky.

Now that I am old, ad patres, as it were,
and you are older still, I regret to say
that yours was not the first
my hand had touched.

(ad patres, Latin, to be dead, to be gathered to ones forefathers.) :)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

RWP -- The Doppler Effect

The Doppler Effect

"Uber das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne"

("Concerning the colored light of double stars and other stars of the heavens.")
--Christian Doppler

Centered in the doorway, you stand where a window
Looks two ways: one way the hours swarm into blue,
Colliding like dominoes, piling up like old newspapers
On the porch. The other way the minutes retreat
Like beads on a broken string. Even the seconds
Are strangers speeding away, shifting toward red.

As you wait, entire universes are conceived and destroyed.
There, on the blue side, your mother's body
Has swallowed a seed, and shaped you from air.
A girl with freckles on her lips.
There, on the red side, your eight grandchildren
Hustle toward a future you cannot begin to imagine.

And you. You touch with care wherever the pain is worst:
Your eyes, your neck, your heart. You notice only now
That the window has become a mirror, and the doorway
Is shelter. Shifting now into red,
Your mother walks up behind you, slips you a chocolate
As she passes by. Your grandchildren's soft,
Unfinished baby skeletons tumble faster and farther
Away. And this moment, the Present melting in your mouth,
Is all you need.

(art by H. Koppdelaney)