Sunday Poem


A few years ago Uno Mundo Press published my second book, a book of poems.  Reviewers say it is a memoir.  Oddly, that was not the plan; in retrospect, it seems apt.  The poems’ topics are not chronological but rather via topic with quotations before each topic as a sort of introduction.  For the foreseeable future, while I continue writing another book, I will post one poem from the book every Sunday.

The book begins with this quotation:

“Do something scandalous to give your descendants something

to talk about when you are gone.”  Vanessa Talbot

 

The first section begins with this quote by Judith Jameson, the famous dancer and choreographer:

“I always tell my dancers.

You are not defined by your fingertips,

or the top of you head,

or the bottom of your feet.

You are defined by you.

You are the expanse.

You are the infinity.”

 

The first poem in the book goes like this:

I Have Lived

Depression, sad days, melancholy.

Gone!

At 26, I said, “To hell with this!

You control you life, live it!”

 

I tried forbidden liaisons, trained horses,

Traveled around the world, a cobra wrapped around my neck,

Walked the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir,

Stood before the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi,

Watched the Taj Mahal reflected in still waters,

Walked the streets of Katmandu,

Talked to monks at Shwedagon Pagoda,

Bargained with sticks in dirt, math our only common language,

Downed raw turtle eggs in Costa Rica,

Danced on table tops, sang “Adonai”,

Roamed empty roads across the Navaho Nation,

Divorced four times,

Raised two talented children.

 

I have lived, running on the rim of wonder.

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Sunday Poem–A Life


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I wrote the first blog post about this in February, a second a few weeks later.  The following poem I wrote a week ago but never posted:  too upset, too sad, too filled with regrets I could have no way fixed because I did not even know all the story.  He remained unconscious for two months from late January until March 22.  It seems strange that the memories of a life I lived so long ago, mostly forgotten, could surge into so many waking moments now years later.  Life:  always filled with wonder, surprises.

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the wind blew through the trees

whispering green spring, beauty

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the man I loved, beautiful mahogany velvet

dazzled the world with his smile

yesterday we put his body in the ground

my daughter’s father, standing with family

some we had never seen before, worldwide

yesterday we put his body in the ground

watched a life flash by, slides from baby

to our life long ago, other lives and children

yesterday we put his body in the ground

family, friends, two of his children

a life struck down, too suddenly, too soon

In honor of the life of Kenneth A. Mowoe

You will not be forgotten, your memory lives on with me, your family, your children and grandchildren, your friends.  Peace.  Love.

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A Week of Wonder and Flowers


 

This past week was my birthday.  The wonder started a week ago when my friends came for dinner and my friend’s father, visiting from Mexico. brought me red roses.  I had not seen my friends in a long time and it was fun.  Then on Sunday, Roberto, the father, and I went hiking in Palo Duro Canyon on a new trail.  I never saw a name for it.

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We found this trail by starting at Chinaberry (for those who go to the Canyon), taking Comanche Trail up to this new trail.  When they intersect, we went north rather than south on Comanche.

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If you read the previous blog in December about hiking Comanche, you saw this peak but from the center and to the south.  This is a view from the north looking south.

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Eventually, after hiking up and down across an arroyo, you end up above the river which looks tiny here, but when a big rain comes, it can rise many feet in a few hours.  It was very sunny, I had a hard time focusing so occasionally a finger got in the way.

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Roberto has a funny sense of humor.  He could not resist pretending to hold up one of the many giant boulders along the trail.

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This is not a difficult walk and not too long if you only have a few hours.  We came across a group of wild turkeys, but they moved so much, I was unable to get a good photo so gave up.

Wednesday was my birthday.  It began with my first period class–I teach senior high school English.  They showered the room with confetti, brought me a giant chocolate muffin with a candle in the middle, lit the candle and sang me Happy Birthday.  Then during second period, two of my students arrived with two bouquets of flowers.  The room smelled wonderful for three days.  I brought the flowers home yesterday in a big box.

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My grandson told the florist to make me a giant bouquet with exotic flowers.  This is one side of it.  Orchids, roses, hydrangeas, and some really unusual flowers which I cannot identify.

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This is the other side of the same bouquet.

This bouquet is from my son.  He knows my favorite color is orange and that I have a lot of that color in my house so….

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I am seriously nerdy and asked for an atlas for my birthday.  My daughter outdid herself and bought this one full of all sorts of information I never expected and maps.  I love maps.  When I read a book from Latin America, Africa, etc., I look up the places on maps.

Last night I sang songs, using the poems of Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda among others, with the Amarillo Master Chorale in a church with perfect acoustics for choral music.  Tonight I will see friends at an opera party.  What a wonderful week!!

A Week of Gratitude (cont.)


Each day I made a list of things for which I feel grateful, sometimes more, sometimes less.  Tuesday’s list includes:

-Endless sunsets streaked with orange, vermillion, purple, lavender and colors with no name.

-An ability to sing the world’s greatest chorale music with a group of experienced singers who even occasionally sings with the symphony.

Wednesday’s list includes:

-Books I love.  My favorite is “Storyteller” by Leslie Marmon Silko.  I must have read her story “Yellow Woman” at least 50 times.

-The ability to write myself.  I entered a flash memoir contest on Wednesday.

Today’s list includes:

-A short but fun experience with my grandson whom I picked up at school.  He told me all about what he is learning in science class–he is in seventh grade.  We discussed genetics and Punnett Squares.  I recently explained them to some high school biology students.

-Driving my tractor, grading the steep drive down to my cliffside house.  I grew up on a farm and love driving the tractor.

-Cooking dinner.  Here’s the recipe:

Fillet of salmon–keta

4-5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 poblano pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/2 medium beetroot, thinly sliced and then diced

Bebere to taste or other spice if you do not have this

Several bunches kale, spine removed, and coarsely chopped.  I used two kinds–one green and one purple.

Saute the garlic and beetroot in olive oil until nearly cooked.  Add the poblano pepper and salmon.  Sprinkle a coating of bebere to cover the salmon.  Saute until salmon is nearly done and pepper is cooked but still bright green.  Add kale, occasionally stir, and saute until kale is slightly wilted. Serve over rice.  I used basmati from Pakistan.

Note:  bebere is a spice from Ethiopia.  I use homemade from my Ethiopian friends who have it special made.  Her blend is complex but not very hot.  Some commercial blends are mostly hot.

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Gratitude


Thanksgiving brings so many thoughts, including thoughts about the divisive political discourse in the country now.  However, it seems more productive and in keeping with the day to focus on gratitude.  As I write this I think of both personal and broader things for which I am grateful, one of which is that I live in a country where divisive political discourse can actually and legally occur.  Now to the more personal (even though I think the personal is political, I will not focus on that)–here is my starter list:

-my family–daugher, son, and grandson; daughter and grandson will join me shortly to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

-my mother’s pumpkin pie recipe which my grandson will help me prepare when he arrives; he says it is the only pumpkin pie he really likes.

-my job which I truly love–teaching public high school; my students frequently make my day.

-where I live in beauty truly on the Rim of Wonder.

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-my health

-my friends

-my ability to travel to all sorts of fascinating places

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-a life I love

 

What day is it?


Probably only school teachers and students will relate, but since school was out a couple of days ago, I have to really think to know what day it is.  You would think I could remember because today is a busy day and last night’s sleep was interrupted by lightning, tornadoes, crashing rain, and hail.  Tonight they predict more of the same.  I live out in the country; I cannot hear the tornado sirens going off.  About 1:30 am, my daughter calls from her basement in town.  The tornado sirens had gone off and she and my grandson had gone to the basement. Honestly, hail worries me more than the threat of  a tornado because hail is relatively common here.  Little hail won’t destroy my steel roof or break the numerous banks of windows in my house, but large hail…I don’t want to even think about it, especially since the company from which I bought all these windows went bankrupt.

It’s humid, really humid.  We here in semiarid country are not used to humid.  Feels like you cannot quite ever get dry.  Clouds come and go and I am guessing tonight will be a repeat of last night.  I do not need a weather forecaster to tell me that.  But it’s green, really green, emerald green, an infrequent site here too much of the time.  At least, I won’t have to worry bout wildfires like I did two weeks ago.

My daughter was called in to work–she’s a nurse, my grandson is eating a grilled cheese sandwich–I use artisan bread and cook it in olive oil.  Gives grilled cheese a whole new meaning.  In two hours we will go to friend’s house to visit with her dad who arrived from Mexico for a vacation.  I will have to use my Spanish; he speaks no English.  Last night he called me on the phone.  He talks fast and I am a bit lost.  It’s easier in person.  Then we will pick up my grandson’s older brother, we will take grandson to soccer practice, take him home and finally older brother and I will be off to a concert we know nothing about (an adventure) and to Art Walk.  Art Walk occurs the first Friday evening every month.  You would think I would remember what day it is.

My tractor and me


Yes, I own a tractor.  Last summer I decided I was tired of hiring my neighbor to mow when I needed to get rid of tall grass or cut down some yucca or plow snow or grade my drive which washes terribly in a big rain.  I bought a Kubota, not a big one and not a tiny one, a middle sized one.  I had driven it only once this spring, but after this five inch rain my driveway is less than optimal.

My grandson came home with me tonight because my daughter is working a night shift at the hospital; she is a NICU nurse.  I fixed us dinner–that wonderful organic pasta from Italy, some fish with vegetables for me and cheese topping for him because he is vegetarian.  After I finished the dishes, tractor time arrived.  I backed it out of the barn and started working on the lower part of the drive, the really steep part that goes to the paved area next to the garage.  My tractor saves me considerable work after a big rain.  I used to shovel for hours getting the dirt and gravel off the paved part and hauling it up the steep drive in a wheel barrow to dump elsewhere.  Then I would sweep it.  Tonight with the tractor, it was completed within 1 1/2 hours.  I even had time to sweep the dust out of the area of the barn where the tractor was parked.  If the weather holds sunny like today, tomorrow I will work on the long part that goes nearly to the main road.

As I write this, my grandson writes his third blog post.  He already has followers; he is ten.  His blog title is The Blogging Boy.  I have no idea how long he will continue to blog but he is a quite persistent fellow for a ten year old so maybe he will continue.

If I had considered it earlier, my grandson could have taken a photo of me and my tractor.  For now you will just have to use your imagination.

Family Road Trip–Day Three


Today we awakened earlier that we usually do on vacation in order to get to the train station in downtown Albuquerque to take the Rail Runner to Santa Fe.  Apparently, we worried too much about missing it because we arrived really too early and sat around for more than 45 minutes waiting and watching.  I walked around and took several photos of my grandson waiting and of one of the numerous murals one sees in downtown.

 

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I was surprised by the number of people using this train.  It takes one and one half hours to get from downtown Albuquerque to Santa Fe depot because there are quite a few stops on the way including one at Sandia Pueblo and another at Kewa Pueblo.  Photos are forbidden while traveling through Kewa.  The route basically follows the Rio Grande Valley.

I took a few photos from the train and several in Santa Fe.  Good friends, Dino and Zuriash, were already in Santa Fe and picked us up at the depot.  We went to the Chocolate Maven for brunch–my daughter totally loves this restaurant because they have crepes.  We walked around the art exhibits by the church near the square, stopped in a few shops, and just before the return trip on the train, went to Jalapeños for drinks.  A wonderful day with family and friends and a little train trip, my grandson’s first.

 

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Gratitude and Dust


Initially, I planned to continue my Apocalyptic Planet series, but today’s events caused me to choose otherwise.  As I sit here writing this, I can see the endless blowing dust through the spotted window.  Sometime today, while I was at work, it sprinkled while the dust blew.  Now every window on the east and north side of my house appears as if someone had thrown handfuls of nearly dry mud at it.  My black car looks the same.  The wind whistles in the flue of the wood burning stove in my bedroom.  This storm  blows harder and longer than the one we experienced last week.  Tomorrow they forecast more of the same.

Saturday I stopped by two greenhouses to purchase some hanging baskets and native flowers.  The mesquite trees kept telling me, “Wait, wait.  Cold will come again. Wait!”  Normally, I obey what the mesquite trees tell me.  They never come out until they know without a doubt the cold is over and they feel safe.  I bought the flowers anyway.  This coming Saturday, Hilltop Senior Citizen Center in Amarillo has their Gala at my house to raise money–complete with a silent auction, food, and drink to raise some much needed money.  I want everything to look springlike and pretty.  I heard the weather forecast on the radio coming home from work.  I just looked again on the Internet.  Frost predicted tonight and even colder tomorrow night.  After I fed Rosie, placing the alfalfa as much out of the wind as I could, I brought the hanging baskets inside and poured a bunch of water on the other new plants. The native plants, tough, worry be little.  The others will not survive 33 degree weather.  Later, I will go out and cover them with old towels, hoping the wind relents and does not blow them off.

Everyone here posts photos of the dust on the Internet and gripes about this horrid weather.  Although I certainly dislike it, I refuse to complain.  This, too, is tornado country.  I listened to the news this morning and again coming home from work.  Thirty four dead, whole towns destroyed, a new school flattened.  Here I see no devastation, only the endless, depressing, annoying dust and wind.  My friends, family, and I are alive, our houses intact.  Rosie huddles behind the barn, still healthy, neighs when she hears me coming.  Gratitude engulfs me.

 

Rosie

 

Rosie

 

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The iris I was hoping for.