Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thriving Together, in Art

We buried a friend last month. She was above all else a mother and an artist. Unique and loved, sorry to leave and ready to go. Her son wrote beautifully about her and especially about her last days. When I am a bit less raw about it all I will write something about natural burial, which brought her closest friends and family together to honor her and our relationships with her. But today I am thinking about three young artists I met twenty-some years ago, in a college campus apartment. Here is a poem I wrote, years later. An example of how art inspires art....though I'm not sure it's finished yet:


Three easels set up in a college apartment
three student-artists drawing hands.
One of them seems to be getting it true,
the other two point out. Someone says:
“hands are the hardest thing.”

That echo from the past comes to me now
because I can’t stop thinking of your hands,
remembering them, picturing them to the point of
tactile imaginings bringing them real, here and now.

Sam Shepherd man-hands,
sailor hands, builder hands, lover hands –
even resting they hold a lifetime and mine
resting in them look so small that, just to see them
–mine in yours – I am sixteen again, wanting to be your girl.

If I were looking only at hands
a curtain hiding the rest I would know
my sons’ at all their ages, my mother’s, my sister’s.
And yours - I would know yours.

The memory of these three young artists, Dom, Dave and Angi, helped me find my way into a poem. And at middle age they are still painting, having grown into their own styles and expertise. Elizabeth Warren wrote something so perfect about how we see ourselves as Americans. She said no matter how successful we are, we didn't get there alone. That we used what had been around us to help us succeed and that we owe a debt to our country, that we are in this together. She said it better than that and likely you've all read her words.

A year ago I bought some brush paintings by Angi. I've been wanting to change my home atmosphere to something more reflective of who I am today. They are not yet framed but my ideas are coming together and I'm hiring someone to paint the walls first, after years of thinking "I'll get to it soon." So it occurs to me that it's long overdue that I share these three artists with you! Take a look at their lovely work - maybe I'll be connecting new friends to them. Maybe you'll be inspired by them, or even want to hang a piece of theirs in your house, too. Here they are:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Happy in Spite of Myself

It's a perfect July morning in Port Townsend. My friend Diane invited me to meet her for coffee, always a happy way to start a saturday: a dark chocolate mocha latte at Lehani's on Taylor Street while catching up with my dear friend. We had lots to share after her two week visit with her granddaughter, which concluded at a picnic at my house where Caitlin became fast friends with my neighbors' children, playing one spontaneous game after another, the girls walking hand in hand next door to check out the chickens and turtles and dog.

The way things go in a small town, it's easy to have a conversation interrupted with someone dropping by to join in, and of course that happened again today. Something new in my life will wait until another conversation, but I met another of Diane's many friends here as we sat and talked.

And then there was the wedding. Not an actually wedding out on the street, but there in the sunshine in front of Lehani's today we met, not only the usual visitors and their wonderful pooches, but one after another of the beautifully dressed and adorned members of a wedding party. They were heading into the Rose movie theatre, for their ceremony. Everyone looked tip top, from groomsmen to flower girls and then, of course, the bride, sweeping by in her gorgeous antique silk gown, her head wreathed in flowers. Grace is her name. The family is known here for having musically talented children, all grown now. A brother, Paul, walked up to us and chatted a few minutes. Carrying his guitar he said he'd be playing a couple of Beatles tunes, including "I Will."

I want to tell you something. I have been pretty low for a while, in one way. Feeling bad because I've gained a ton of weight…well, fifty pounds or so. Partly, I overeat. But also, where I used to walk 4 or so miles a day here, five or six days a week, now I barely take walks at all. There's no cartilage left in my feet, says the doc, accounting for the pain. Well, and some sort of cyst on the bottom of my right foot isn't helping. In any case, I hear my mother's voice in my head. As she aged she kept chastising herself, saying how lazy she was. She wasn't. She was old, overweight, and tired and unwell. I do not like, at all, feeling that I am like that at 66. Frankly, this last fifty pounds is killing me. Because I already weighed thirty pounds more than I did when I birthed my children, nine months pregnant. So of course I want to lose the excess, as much of it as possible. Today I'll begin again to make healthier choices. And to use an exercise bike someone gave me two weeks ago, which now resides by the front window in my living room. I need energy, and even before I lose much weight, that will increase if I eat the way I do when I feel great and get some daily exercise.

I need energy just to keep up, but also to more fully enjoy my life and to feel, again, like there's still some time ahead of me to do that. I was smart when I moved here and bought a small, manageable house. I am not managing it well but I easily can get to that point. I have this cute little electric truck that I drive all over town now and people who don't even know at me smile and wave everywhere I go. I thought about that this morning as I was driving downtown to meet Diane. She likely rode her bike five miles to town, played basketball hard for an hour before showing up in her Port Townsend Drizzle team shirt to have coffee with me. I can't measure myself by Diane. Or the fortyish woman next door, beautiful and healthy and tending her lush garden. Life dealt each of us different cards and we're each doing the best we can. A sweet little girl in a red dress gave me a hug before I left this morning and her energizer bunny brother flashed a smile. Strangers smiled and waved, young and old. On my way home from downtown, I drove through the park at Fort Worden, down by the beach, watching tourists sun and walk and enjoy their vacations. And I got to come home. Because I live here.

I remember my sis and I, years ago,  were on Block Island for a week's vacation, wishing that someday we could live somewhere as beautiful and special as that. And now I do. And she's coming in a couple of weeks to have a week of vacation with me and her eldest grandson. He'll be at Marine Science Center camp for the week during the days and we'll be having fun, too. I can't wait to share this time with them. So what if I'm behind in my chores around here? So what if I'm not at my best physically at this moment? To be honest, I'm at my best heart and mind-wise and that's pretty darned wonderful.

When I got home today there were flowers in a little vase on my doorstep, from the girl in the red dress, and chard, bunched in a glass of water, from her mom. Health and beauty and the full joy of life
. It's all right here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Once again, a few minutes ago, I decided to search for my glasses. Nearly invisible, I lost them about two weeks ago and was sure, absolutely sure, they were here in the house. I don't live in a large house, just a little ranch. Yet, like some very bad joke on myself, without my glasses I couldn't find my glasses.

I've been wearing an old pair, badly scraped up and missing a nose piece, but mostly leaving them off around the house. I was more uncomfortable with them on than not.  So just now, when I found my lost glasses, in a little knitting basket on the living room floor near the fireplace, it was as if I hadn't eaten or drunk in two weeks and some kind soul gave me a sip of water and said "there there."

The duality of feeling hugely blessed and fortunate, yet being surprised at how big a thing this recovery was struck me. Then I realized why it was such a big deal. My mom had macular degeneration. And you know, I thought that I had a great deal of empathy for her in that. I thought I understood what she was going through, but I wasn't even close to really getting it. And now, as I slide my found glasses onto my face my heart leaps. I am liberated and comforted and whole again. I realize that for my mom it was all struggle and loss with her vision. She had her moments, one I witnessed as she twisted and turned her head to see the face of a grown grandson come to visit. She searched his face, moving her head around to try to get him into that limited view and when she did she was transformed. It was a little victory for her and a huge enhancement of her rare visit with him. She had seen and recognized his blue eyes.

She saw a flicker of eye and was overjoyed. I get to fill myself up with visual beauty every day, and I take it so for granted. I think that I don't, but this contrast of being without clear vision and now with it again, says otherwise.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Big Poetry Giveaway 2014 Results

Happy Day in May

Thirty five entries went into the bowl and four came out:

Susan Rich will receive Gary Copeland Lilley's Alpha/Zulu

Andrea Beltran will receive William Stafford's The Way It Is (first drawn of those who preferred Stafford's book)

Mary Jensen will receive Kathryn Hunt's Long Way Through Ruin

Faith will receive Sylvia Bowman's  We Met, Once Before

Soon as I have your mailing addresses I will send these out to you all!

Thursday, March 27, 2014


BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY —  5th. Anniversary Edition!!!
Here we go, beginning our annual celebration of April as Poetry Month, in style. If you love poetry, please leave your name and email address and, if you like, which book you hope to win, in the comments section below. You'll be entered in a drawing to win a book of poetry, for free, including shipping and handling. I'll try not to handle it too much before I send it out to the winner, though. And better still, this blog is one of many participating blogs. Follow the link to find a list of all participants and enter every one you wish to enter, along the left side of Kelli Russell Agodon's blog.

Because it's the 5th. Anniversary of the giveaway I feel like giving extra books this year. I have chosen four, so on this particular blog you have four chances to win. 

Alpha Zulu, a book I treasure,  is by 
Gary Copeland Lilley.

Long Way Through Ruin, highly recommended,  is by Kathryn Hunt.

We Met, Once Before, is a beautiful new work, by Sylvia Bowman.

The Way It Is, is one of my favorite books (the title poem is a touchstone piece for me) by William Stafford.

These are not books I am parting with, I promise. I drove downtown today to my local independent bookstore, The Imprint, and bought copies especially for this giveaway. I wanted to give a couple of older favorites and two newer volumes. I hope you'll enjoy my selections. 

After my visit to the Imprint I got the dogs out of the car and walked them down Water Street for a way and then to one of our downtown stretches of beach. Facing the cloudy skies which filled the sky from  Port Townsend to Whidbey, I was reminded how many iterations of beautiful evening light there are, even when the clouds dominate our sky. Their towering darkness threw a light onto the water that left it looking like liquid platinum. It felt like the world around me was breathing beauty onto the surface, gently but with strength. As a poet I try to transform experience and thought and feeling, to have such an impact as that grey light did tonight on the waterfront. The world offers us so much. The least I can do is offer something back. Here you go, dears! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Big Poetry Giveaway: WINNERS

Thanks to all who visited here and entered to win a book of poems to commemorate Poetry month!
As you can see from the photos, I put all of your names in the dragonfly box, stirred and with eyes closed, drew two entries as winners. I even used tweezers to feel more detached as I chose.

Margo Roby, I'll be sending you Mrs. Coffin and Miss Blood, by Sandy Diamond
Rod Wilder, I'll put your new copy of Billy Collins' The Apple that Astonished Paris in the mail.

May you each enjoy your prize!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Big Poetry Giveaway

Spring is creeping in on us. Cherry blossoms decorate the still cold ground and wave pink against the sky. And it's nearly April, Poetry Month. In the past I've distributed poems to strangers as I walked around downtown, part of the Poem in Your Pocket concept of spreading poetry. This year I'm participating in the giveaway. And it's ever so simple. People can visit here and leave a comment and their email contact info for me from now until the end of April. A random drawing will be how I select two winners, sending them each one book of poetry. Since I am unpublished as yet, I offer two of my favorites:
On the left is Miss Coffin and Mrs. Blood, Poems of Art & Madness by Port Townsend Poet 
Sandy Diamond. May Sarton wrote: Begin Sandy Diamond's Miss Coffin and Mrs. Blood and you will have to finish it. As powerful as a long novel...compassionate....a work of art..."

And the book on the right is The Apple That Astonished Paris by Billy Collins. If you've read his collections or more recent books, I think you'll enjoy going back to this one. I loved it enough to buy it twice. : ) 

So there we have it. I'm an unknown and you needn't read my work, but let's keep spreading the love of poetry, together! 

Here is a link to the fabulous Susan Rich's blog where you'll find a list of everyone participating. Enter at all the sites you like!