#7 — It’s 5:00 (and sunny) somewhere


Swaying Hips & Chicken Strips

Vacation got nothing on us.
Here in the Islands living off the land,
dining on ahi and mahi, abalone and fruit,
we’re determined to stay lean and strong,
healthy and glowing like freshly peeled mangoes.
When in the islands, eat as the islanders do!
(No, not SPAM and macaroni salad). We laugh
at the fat tourists waddling by and scoff at
their gluttonous ways. We thrive on nothing
but the simplest of sustenance.
Plantains and seaweed salad, sweet, supple
island eggplant and thick, juicy grapefruit plucked
from the tree, still warm from the sun. Let’s
live this way forever, we shout, kissing and raising
cups of pineapple juice and rum (local, organic)
in a cheers to us! But then, from out of nowhere,
trade winds carry a heady, familiar, stirring scent,
something tasty, something…wrong and delicious.
The rental jeep is weaving on the road and we
are jizzing in our pants, barely able to control
this insane olfactory sensation of….of….fried
chicken! Next thing, we’re passed out in a tiki
bar in Kona town, high on carbs, lips shining with
beef grease, blue cheese and pork fat, sucking
margaritas through fat straws and surrounded by
chubby old farts in flower print shirts, listening to
a lounge singer crooning to his own recorded three-part
harmony, patting our bellies in the ecstasy of indulgence.
We are done. Ah, swaying hips and chicken strips,
dripping cheese sauce, fried potato love, bacon burgers,
tanned behinds and fish & chips, mai tais, chi-chis,
cover tunes and candlelight. We. Are. Done.

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#6 — Like Cereal & Milk

I drove to work yesterday with a Paul Simon song in my head. “I’d do it for your love.” We were married on a rainy day….

Poetry is like drawing for me sometimes. I want the music in my head to play on paper, but it doesn’t usually come out that way. The water music of words is tricky. I’m not Paul Simon. I’ll keep playing, though. Never stop splashing in mud puddles, never stop doodling, never give up trying, thanks to the inspiration all around, including sketches like this “strange little drawing” from Jeremy.

Getting Along

Never settle for soggy grains
is how he liked to put it, how he
captured my wheezing heart. Until
a dripping spoonful of grape nuts
broke his incisor right in two.
I’ll say potaytoh, you say….
The magnets on the fridge tell
as much about us as the interior
of our medicine cabinet.
I’ll hold the bowl, you pour.
My teeth aren’t broken yet.
This is how we compromise.
You say tohmahtoh, I’ll say….

Day #5 — Palindrome Poem

Egad, No Bondage?

I prefer pi.
We panic in a pew.
Reward drawer?
No, it is opposition.
Yo, Banana Boy!
Tuna roll or a nut?
Rum, rum, I murmur.
Salt an atlas.
Sexes,
stats,
sagas.
Rum, rum, I murmur.
No sir, no way! A papaya war is on!

Now, on to Jeremy’s challenge!

Catching up

I posted on Facebook that “Poetry month is fun, but my goal is a poetry lifetime.” Isn’t that quaint? Of course, Shanna immediately Triple-Dog-Dared me to actually “do” the poetry month challenge. Here’s day 5….got some making up to do!

Tropical RainTropical Rain

In the velvet of dawn,
lips caress wet, sun-kissed skin.
Tongues intertwine
as morning glory vines.

Fingertips stroke a rhythm
against taut, silk drumhead
of thigh and belly and breast.
Toes touch. Sea meets sky.
Palms sway. A sigh of breeze.
A melody of sunlight.
A chorus of birdsong.
Earth and bloom rise
to greet the day.

A is for April, Akimbo, Alka-Seltzer & All’s Well That End’s Well

It’s still raining. We had to go to Hawaii to get away from it and in all honesty, it was really hard to come back. Wait, it was hard to come back last year, too. And the year before that, well, the Nuclear Winter wasn’t exactly a picnic, either.

Wait for it, wait for the bite!

So here we are, bundled in sweaters in huddling indoors with our stews and sauces and burning wax fires in the lovely Pacific Northwest. The fruiting bodies of a hundred and one aromatic shrooms are blooming in the moldy cavities of my snot-stanky flora-ridden sinuses. Sorry. TMI.

Oh, effing, well. This is why we have distilled beverages and basketball, is it not?

Yup, it is April, after all. Poetry month. Birthday Month. How lovely. I’m a couple of days behind, sort of (I’m sitting on a phone book of unpublished poems). But the challenge of a poem-a-day gets me more worked up than a sea slug on steroids. My challenge for today is to write a palindrome poem — Amore, Roma!

“Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.”

But first, here’s a touch o’ the Spring Madness.

Oh, and here’s a super cool contest from Crazy Horse!

Riotous Spring

 A Swainson’s thrush is freaking out somewhere
in the pine forest. It is something like a one-man-band
of birdsong that will give you pause. A concert flutist on
acid, letting go, having a really good time out in the woods.
Have you ever heard one? Here in the so-called “temperate”
forest (which, when translated from some
native language means means ‘chilled to the bone’)
Swainson’s is the only woodland thrush whose song
rises in pitch, as the pitch rises. Spring is truly an occasion
here, after two full years of winter. Get ready, here it comes,
a blooming orgy of pistils, petals, birdsong and pollen.
Sunlight is yet fleeting. Bullying storm clouds hover and
yet we remain hopeful, the anticipation almost unbearable,
in a sense psychotic, this eagerness for birdsong, for light,
for rising earth, for soft, slow days, for drinks on the patio,
the perfect putt, blooming dogwoods, blue sky, and last
but not least, warmth without smoke and fire.

Red-headed beauty

What made me turn back on the trail, I do not know. I was running downhill, towards the creek, when I looked behind, to see if he was near. My first thought was to continue to the water and wait, stretch there, breathe in the cool, refreshing air. Instead, I turned and headed back uphill. As I rounded the bend, my sweetie was motioning to me, silently. “Hurry, hurry,” he said in mime. “Quickly, quietly, get your ample ass up this hill. There is a surprise awaiting.”

I bounded as boundily as I could up the little hill and slowed down, to quiet my feet. He walked towards me and whispered in my ear. “A pileated (pill-eeh-ated or pile-ee-ated) woodpecker is right off the trail. Shhhhhh.”

I tip-toed another 10 feet and squinted my glass-free eyes into the forest. Ohhhhh, there he was. A beautiful, crow-sized, red-headed beauty, pecking away at the soft innards of an old tree, grubbing for grubs. They are said to be shy, but not this girl. Or boy — they are similar except that the male has a red stripe from bill to neck. We didn’t catch that detail at the time. Regardless, this prize was pecking away right off the trail and not much of a wallflower at all. Such a precious gift! What made me turn back on the trail? A transferrance of energy from my guy on the trail, who was hoping I’d turn around, excited to share? The simple, stupid fact that I’m working to heal a leg with a long-term injury that needs extra strength workouts (so I can beat myself up in a 25K trail run in a couple of months)? Who knows. These things defy gravity. But I’m sure glad I did. One can never be sure…..what will happen next. That was one magnificent bird! Listen: Click here

(Photo found here)

In a name, on a tree, carved in stone

“Whorehouse Meadows in Harney County was exactly that during the days of the Old West. Setting up facilities under a canvas tent in the secluded meadow about a mile east of Fish Lake they would then meet up with cattle and sheep herders. In the 1960’s the Bureau of Land Management issued a recreation map renaming the meadow, “Naughty Girl Meadows” But in 1971 the Oregon Geographic Names Board took strong objection to the change and brought their argument before federal arbiters. After ten years the old name was restored in 1981.” — Wikipedia

Thank goodness the sensible side of our society remained strong in this fight! Long live Oregon’s Whorehouse Meadow in all her properly named, politically incorrect glory!

Unfortunately, there are plenty of idiots among us. The petroglyphs on a culturally and spiritually significant rock near the Alvord Desert in Oregon were first shot at, then destroyed by fire. I wandered among the rocks on a recent trip there, hoping to find some remaining shred of native art. Nothing. Just moon shadows and coyote yelps amongst the sage. Gone forever. Vanished in a drunken hail of gunfire and grease and greed-fed flames.

Destruction of expression is sad. As Brad said recently, the burning of the library at Alexandria should be considered one of the worst crimes against humanity. The culprits? It’s complicated, but it’s something like a stupid joke: A Muslim, a Christian and a Jew walk into a bar…..yep. Those kinds of fools. Just like today. Of course, there was the destruction of Mayan scrolls in the name of the “Lord” and who knows what else, in the name of what? And why? Power. Dominion.  Destruction for the sake of it, and it is sickening. A bitter truth. Truths. And lies.

Wild plums

The plum tree across the street beckons. It is old and tangled, uncared for and twisted into itself. The tiny wild plums are hard to reach. The ones on the ground have been pecked by birds and stung by bees. A scratched knee is worth the climb….these forgotten plums are ripe, sweet, and perfect. The sweetness of the juice and tartness of the skin holds me still for a moment. Passion, concentrated in a tiny, forgotten, wild plum. Go explore.

I came across a great photography site: Freesolo — “Conservation through Adventure” — a passion-harnessing collective!

Feathers, forked tongues, hollow bones & filaments

There was a hint of surprise in her voice when she said it: “You are becoming so fearless.” My response? An enthusiastic, “I know!” This, coming from Shanna, a damn freaking good poet, novelist, writer, writing instructor and friend (girl crush!) means so much. She was speaking of writing, but the ever strengthening fearlessness goes beyond words.

We went to a trail running event last weekend. The night before the race, a hula hoop contest was part of the festivities. BadAss and I had our outfits coordinated perfectly. Getting up on the stage in pasties, a red wig and a skirt made out of poof balls took nothing at all, not even a gulp of liquid courage, though the whiskey went down smooth enough. You’ve come a long way, baby! The best part, though, was when a naked giraffe arrived on the scene and stole the show. That bitch took our first place win, but I couldn’t have been happier! Why? The naked giraffe was a woman from North Carolina who was just passing through visiting friends. She said she’d never done anything like that. “Go for it,” we told her as the music blasted and the disco ball spun above the stage, and she did. She spun that hoop in her giraffe mask and nothing else. She was thrilled about the experience and had a great time. No lightning bolts struck her down. The sky didn’t fall. The Pope didn’t banish her to a rocky island. The next morning, she used some of my gold body paint and ran through the forest with giraffe spots on her shoulder. Now, thankfully, there is one more person in this world who has one more fearless feather in her cap. Yes and yes! Fearlessness results in experience and experience results in confidence. With confidence comes the ability to truly soar. Schmaltzy as hell, but oh so true.

There was a time when writing truly felt frightening. Part of it was insecurity about the quality of my writing and part of it was being held back by someone in my life who believes that creativity is a waste of time. (Everything else must come first). I’m sorry but the chores list can wait! When the muse calls, there can be no holding back. And I certainly wasn’t wasting any time at all this morning when, while running, the poem below jumped into my head and was finished creating itself by the time I got home.

Yes, Miss Shanna, thanks in part to you, I am getting more and more fearless every day. Thanks to Brad and other people who’ve whispered, “spread your wings,” into my ear, I’m closer to soaring than I’ve ever been. This is not only important for myself, but for my sons, who are growing wings of their own.

I am also more conscious of the things I want, the things I need to take control of in my life. I am confident that I will conquer my fear of going beneath the sea and exploring that big old ocean. One day I will defy gravity and fly with the fishes.

There’s poetry down there, ya know.

Defiance

Ape, not monkey he likes to say
when I tell him I spent the day
swinging from trees. Swinging by my tail,
howling and flinging myself
from branch to branch.

 “No silly, we are descended from apes.
You can’t have a tail.”

So I slump into the green chair after a long day
in a box and flood my brain with lighter
fluid. For I am tired of lumbering,
knuckles dragging. Worn to nothing
by the elements. Ground down by
blowing wind and rain, absent
summer. Cold, starless nights. 

“I want to fly,” I chatter in broken
monkey language. “Do you hear me?”

Give me my tail. Give me bent-branched
treetops. Give me scales and wings.
Sky. Emptiness. Release me into space.
Allow me the pleasure of hollow bones and forked
tongues, tentacle arms and filaments.
Marrow is too heavy, gravity
demoralizing. The apes can have it all.

Take flight

This post is about butterflies and rodents. But it is not about magical butterflies and creepy rodents. It is about the views we take, the scurrying creatures, the interwoven webs of life.

We went on a beautiful 8-mile hike at Silverstar Mountain northeast of the Columbia River Gorge. I hadn’t been there in FOREVER — since 1990 or so. Good grief. The trail took us high into the open alpine meadows and rocky outcroppings made not of basalt, as we’re used to seeing around here, but granite.

Thanks to a slow, cool start to summer, the wildflowers are still going nuts. Brad spotted a bushy-tailed animal in the rocks, perhaps a Martin? We also saw at least two pikas, said to be indicator species for global warming. They must have been enjoying the heck out of that cool, cloudy, mist-drenched August day. Unfortunately, temps above 80, even briefly, can kill them. I hope they’re high enough. A third of them in the Pacific Northwest have already disappeared.

We saw another indicator species — the Edith’s Checkerspot. It flits about for only a week in the summer. A week! Reading about the Checkerspot, I fell into the rabbit hole of information. Butterfly wings are made of a thin layer of veined protein — the same stuff that our hair and fingernails are made of. The color and texture comes from hundreds of scales. They are pigmented from the plants butterflies eat, such as bright red Indian Paintbrush, but the cellular structure of the scales is what causes irridescence and other coloring because it reacts to light.

The Checkerspots do not migrate — and they rely on specific plants, such as paintbrush. As they move northward and upward into cooler climates, the host plants may or may not be available to them.

Adult Checkerspots live just a week to ten days….and yet, they are part of a timeless, endless ecosystem.

One week. I’m so glad we hauled ourselves up that mountain trail. Life is sweet. Paper or plastic?

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