In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Poetry: Universal Love

The 2012 "Phrasings in Word + Dance" is on!  Bellingham Repertory Dance presented its sixth annual collaboration with Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater this weekend.  What a great three days of art and insight. Carla and the BRD company have outdone themselves, again.  

This year I was selected, along with 5 other poets, to write a poem inspired by the dance film "Welcoming Clyde", produced by Pam Kuntz, featuring BRD dancer Kate Stevenson.  It follows Kate dancing through her first pregnancy with grace and beauty, narrated by her husband.  The grand finale: Kate dances with her baby boy Clyde in her arms!  It's a moving piece with beautiful photography.  The poems were matted & displayed on the fireplace mantle at the Firehouse.
Here is my submission:

Universal Love

Fathering life

Magnets towards center
Cosmic stirring pot
Circular orbits until
Gravity compels form

Mothering ingredients
Building hope
Holding, protecting
while this new galaxy
swirls into creation

Son our sun
Your parts divide, growing
Reverse mitosis~
you bring us closer

Family of stars
Directionally dependant
Tossed around like
A dryer set on delicate

Nine months you grow
Three worlds combining
Brought together by love’s gravity
Tonight, a new light shines in the sky!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Poetry: Guitar Man

Guitar Man
Taps his foot to the music
Frayed boot heel wiggles against the floor
Fingers, as comfortable on frets
As his legs are in jeans

What does he sing?
What is that sound?
History weeping through
Oozing out of dry crevasses
Days in the sun created

Poems written on wrinkled paper
Songs sung to walls of fallen plaster
Large women clap approval
Hoping to take a piece home

Frequency broadcasted to a crowd
Listening ears, watchful eyes
Curtains moving with the fan
Breeze blowing in the street noise
His howling is overruled

Painting by Hyatt Moore

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Spring always puts me in a sentimental mood. You know, it’s all a part of that inane idea to get rid of the old and bring in the new; spring clean the garage, backyard and the soul. Some projects take up so much time I feel like they’ve kidnapped me! During the tedious task of cleaning out my bookcase, my mind drifted on that thread of thought. I started to relive the day I heard the news of my Grandma’s kidnapping. My grandma was really kidnapped, not by an “organize the closets” project, but by real psychotic people! While I sprayed more wood cleaner onto the dust rag, I pondered the lessons of that story.

In April 1998, forteen years ago this month, my cousin Susan called me late in the evening with the news. Before I could say one word she cried out “Grandma was kidnapped!” My cousin went on to give me an account of events: early in the morning grandma had a break in, was held hostage, pistol whipped, rescued by the police late in the afternoon, has been released from the hospital, and was going to be interviewed by the local news station tomorrow. I was speechless! That’s a call you don’t get every day.
At the time of the kidnapping Grandma Mimi was 86, and lived alone at her home in Anacortes Washington. The two kidnappers told grandma their plan was to take her to their isolated mountain cabin, issue demands to the family and wait for the money. However, on their way to the cabin the kidnappers got restless, began fighting over the plan, and started driving up and down Interstate 5 indecisively.

From the backseat Grandma could hear the new plan unfolding; they no longer wanted to hold her for ransom instead they just wanted to kill her and throw her in the woods. They pulled over to a remote road just off I-5, dragged her out of the car, grandmas back to the woods. Putting the gun up to her head the kidnapper asked if she was ready to die. Grandma didn’t hesitate, “I’ve lived a long and wonderful life. I’m ready to go. Go ahead and shoot.” What an incredible statement! Surprisingly, she said it with such conviction, the kidnapper was unable to pull the trigger!

Frustrated, they threw her back into the car and kept driving. The driver was on meth and her erratic driving caught the eye of an attentive road side worker, who called it in to 911 as a possible DUI. Glancing up over the back seat, Grandma could see two cop cars rolling down the on ramp towards them with lights on. “They looked like angels coming down from heaven!” she said.

Grandma was rescued and the kidnappers were charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and second-degree kidnapping for allegedly abducting an 86-year-old woman from her home and terrorizing her.

Grandma had a full life, good and bad times. Not many of us get an opportunity, like a gun to the head, to say with such conviction, “I am ready to go.” It’s true you can find new life in many places, but some people find new life at the wrong end of a gun.

This is a story that has become a part of my heritage and will stay polished in my memory, kept high in a safe place, to be displayed and discussed when appropriate times allow, not too unlike the knick knacks on my freshly polished shelf.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Powered by Poetry

Last night at Poetry Night's open mic I ran into another Mary Oliver fan.  I find it exciting to meet new people and hear their story.  This poetry fan told me she doesn't write poetry, she just comes to listen.  However, one night, about six months ago, she read the Mary Oliver poem "The Journey".  I was happy to hear this because I was reading that same poem that evening, along with an older poem of mine called "Droplet"
( ). 
The conversation was started! 

Naturally I asked her what drew her to that poem.  She said she's always love Mary Oliver but the poem "The Journey" struck a cord in her.  She went on to share that last fall she was going through a transition and it was as if the poem was written by her own heart.  She was touched by it. It was a wonderful experience to get up in front of a crowd and share her feelings- even though they were written by another- they expressed how she felt that day.  Last night I was also feeling that way and for a brief moment we were in accord.

Poetry is like any other art form.  One hundred people can view/read it and you'll get one hundred interpretations.  Good work will speak to to you, move you, change you if only for an instant. 
Art is powerful!

Love this quote:
"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions"
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, US author & physician (1809-1894)

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save

*copyright Mary Oliver

Monday, April 2, 2012

Poetry: Winter Prayer

This morning the sky changed.  The wind came from a different direction than what I was used to, catching me by surprise and creating a sense of curiosity within me.  The trees I walked under moved and swayed to the song of the wind, making for a lovely dance.  The wind combed threw the branches and low lying bushes to grab up the dead and recently fallen, blowing them around in whirlwinds.

A curious thing to watch the wind.  It's true you cannot see IT but only what it DOES.  My skin grows wrinkled and dry by it; my hair lifts and twirls falling into my eyes.  "Don't look at me, just feel me" it says, "I've come to wash off that which is dead and refresh you for a cold winter, to prepare you for a new spring.  Your days of summer lying in a warm breeze will return, but first you must feel me against your face.  Feel me hit your heart, swooping in deeper than any soap, cleansing your soul with hope renewed."

Hope gets us through the winter.  How sad for those in the dark age when the world seem a constant winter.  Perhaps they had forgotten what spring flowers smelt like or the hot rays of the summer sun on their face.  If winter last too long the heart will stay cold, frost bitten, hard.

Fall wind please blow on me and release from me the dead and dying parts.  Twirl them up to the sky, lay them on the ground, churn them into soil, all that death is good for. 
Take those parts from me so that I might see spring again.
I will not forget the flowers
I will not forget the summer sun.
I will not forget the green grass and the lazy days lying beside a lover

Blow wind blow!
Do your worst so that my reward will be greater!

Poetry: Loose Hair

Sometimes you don't
Notice a stray hair
On your clothes
Until the light hits it

Stray thoughts
A lost memory
Forgotten friend
Your car keys

Things we loose
Blown off us
Fingers rustle through
Our hair, looking

How can you put
Back into the follicle
Stray hair that 
Left the scalp

It must instead be mourned
If it was even missed or
Greeted graciously
Like a fresh beginning