River in Mind


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Came back from chaperoning the Ashland trip, like a boss, with HP. We rule over our adolsecent plebeians with the cunning beneficence of battlewise tyrants, but now we are taking the air at our home in the mountains, and it is good to doff our crowns for a bit and dip our toes in the creek.

River in Mind

I have a recurring dream I would like to tell you about, because so many of you accompany me along when it comes. In the space of the mind it can take days, but I’m told it can happen in under ten minutes in the thing we call time. To begin: a river. A patchwork current made from the stretches that pull on the bones in my chest. First, the birthwater, the Clark Fork, from some highway bridge to Big Eddy, mixed and tumbling over the North Fork of the Flathead, from Big Creek to Blankenship, dotted sometimes with the sandy patch, the Fork of Clark again, from St. Regis to Paradise. Sometimes it takes days, and if I’ve gone to bed hungry, we meet more of us in odd groups of the best friends who have never met, having a picnic on the banks. We pass that spot on the Clearwater, where we see children catching bugs, us as children trapping the bugs in our palms and watching their wings dry on rocks. On the St. Joe, as we drift, always, always there is the father. Sometimes setting the hook in a flash of cutting rainbow, often just gazing, sipping flat amber from a can, watching the beneath. Does this mean famine, or feast? I wonder. When the Swan bit arrives, that’s when you come in, you Vikes and Vals and sisters. Down at the Ferndale bridge where path gets sandy and steep, and we shout verses from the 90’s alternative to one another, even those of us who have not spoken in twenty minus four years. The smells are wet rubber, mud, eel grass, and sunscreen. You don’t know them, but my grandmother waves from the banks of the Jefferson, where Grandpa Jack builds the bonfires eternal. Watch out when we get to the Gallatin, in long curves outside of Ennis, and a bit of turbulance around the Big Rock. Always, I am the one who rows us, and we talk urgently of Important Things That Are Quickly Forgotten. Thought you should know, because you are the company of those smells and sounds, and the dream comes portending. What? What does it mean when I meet you on the Bitterroot in this dreambox? The end is a river I’ve never seen, alone or with you, and the oars break and we drift sideways into a chute without a bottom, and then I wake up with the taste of warm honey.

Is this a poem? I don’t know. I just thought you should know what we run at night. It is really a delicious dream, and I am happy the day after. Hugs to you, my river friends.

Something Amiss


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Something is amiss. I tried to sit down and relax, with my glass of wine and the stupid internet and the stupid TV, which I’ve looked forward to all year, but I just got all antsy. All of those lovely things, the sitting and the pretty moving pictures with lights and sound, were no longer appealing to me. Or I felt, somehow, that they weren’t relaxing if I hadn’t earned them by doing actual work in my brainspace. Which is stupid, because I was at actual work today, all bright-eyed and caffeinated, and used the ole’ grey matter quite a bit, and then hung out with the Ds, folks and brother and sis’ in law, so, that was a full day accomplished already, but it doesn’t feel right. I don’t know if a poem will come from this, and I don’t know if I will post it or not. But, this is the first day of a new year, and there is something inherently poetic about that. Because History.

I’m going to give it a try. See what happens. Maybe I just miss you all already.

Something Amiss

“Miss you already” has always been my favorite goodbye. Miss you, friends hither and yon, especially yon, like I miss my vices, the instant they are gone. It’s because of dopamine receptors and the laughter we’ve brewed together, in offices and bedrooms and kitchens and on trails and lakes and rivers. There’s something amiss, when all I see of you are screens and type and glossy cards marooned on the fridge ’till next year. Something amiss in all this, and let’s think hard, this year, on the commune idea. The ten acres next door is for sale. We could build a labyrinth of treehouses, and get goats. We could make and grow things with our hands and sell it all out of the backs of rusty trucks. Our children would wear mud in the summertime and mohair in the winter. Here in the deep north not one of use would notice our wrinkles, or we would and just cackle. Hell, we’re a coven already. Not one of us would miss the commute, the routine, the paperwork. Not one of us would rather cubicle into retirement. All we need is the land, the tools, and the goats. Think on that, as I miss you here in the land of wires and string.


Whoops. I poemed again. It just didn’t feel good to not. And I do miss thinking of you, my poemfriends, because I do, as I write, and it is nice, but sometimes sad. Happy Thursday!

29 Lessons from a Year of Poems


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It is the last day of 2014. Last year around this time I wrote a poem about letters. It felt good, so I decided to do it every day of the year. Maybe the reason I never liked resolutions before is because I never actually followed through on them. I doubted my own power of will, and the resolutions were never to achieve or accomplish something, but rather about the things about myself that I needed to fix. What a drag. Because I’ve gotta say, it feels good to finish something. Finishing things is not typically my MO. And, out of 365 poems, I’d say a good handful or two have some potential. So, I guess I’m proud of myself.

And I’m proud of you, too. We survived this year. The world is a terrifying and tragic place, but we laughed, and loved, and held on, even through things we felt were unsurvivable. Good job, us! Let’s give ourselves a round of applause, for how we held one another, how we grew, and all the dry witty rejoinders we made up on fly. Let’s breathe relief together. You are here. I am here. Still. Tonight I will light a bonfire of gratitude to you, and to this bewildering world.

For this last poem, I’m not going to try anything fancy. This is just going to be a list of things I learned this year, about poems and about life, in no particular order but for number 1:

29 Lessons from a Year of Poems

1) Life is hard here, at the darkening of history, and yet here we are, creating and loving and observing and caring and holding fast to the moments of light like tiny shells clutched in the tight and sandy fist of a small child facing the surf.

2) You can always write about weather, if nothing else comes. Weather is interesting. You can sit and talk about it with anyone. The moon is always good for a rise, as well. The same goes for landscape, but nature poems are hard. It is possible to write too much about water. Or is it impossible?

3) The Marilynn. When in doubt, make it sexy. This apples to both writing and life at large.

4) “The dishes, the laundry, all that crap can wait. This is your life. Don’t forget to live it”–Lorie Hartman.

5) We are united and anointed by our grief, and we grow stronger at the fissures.

6) The Walk Away. This can get complicated by the giant time-suck of television and Facebook and even the husbandpants’s review of a play in a game not fully understood can become fascinating, given the artists’ tendency to avoid her own magic.

7) The Come Back. Always, always come back. Don’t delete. What comes next might be saccharine. Leave the words, fix the ideas, but always return. Someone will always love your work. She is your mom. This coincides with lesson #8.

8) Butt in Seat. That’s all she wrote.

9) The best art is made for the dearest ones, and loved most by its recipients. Make for one another. Make all night long. The making makes love.

10) Sometimes the dark ones are best. Share the dark. It helps.

11) Be giddily proud. Cackle with glee at your own creations. Giggles unlock shame from the hearts’ cold dungeon.

12) Sap is necessary. It is okay to use words like magic, heart, soul, universe, ache, and love. We need it like trees do, to harden the flesh beneath the bark.

13) It is okay to write metaphors about trees.

14) Buffalo.

15) A Room of Own’s Own. The room in your mind is not spacious enough. Get your own damn room. Paint it any damn color you please. Stock it with two types of beverages: cold, and hot.

16) It is your duty as an artist to get political. Care with the tight-chested urgency of a mother in an emergency room. A revolution is coming, and this is your call to arms. The enemy wants to kill art with green paper and coins, and its ranks are swelling.

17) Visit your muses. Stalk them if you have to. It is its own communion.

18) Don’t let your feet get cold. Bravery is required of you each day.

19) Stop biting your lip. Especially when confronted by male colleagues who talk shop like they are announcing a football game. Let them go on thinking they’re the shit. It is you who are the shit. Know it.

20) Have the sad songs on repeat. The sadder the better.

21) When the flow slows to a trickle, get up and dance. Turn it way up and let the beat loosen the bedrock in your brain.

22) Be honest with your sorrow. Let it fill you and come leaking out your eyeballs. Sad yourself an ocean of grief. Then maybe you will stay afloat.

23) There is an unmapped organ for your art. It will not appear on the x-ray.

24) The Way Back. When stuck in the dreary wasteland of life’s debris, imagine the wind howling on a dark night in a time you never lived. Squeeze out lit dabs of history onto your palette.

25) Some things are things are the same thing. Student, teacher. Intuition, magic. Holiness, awe. Art, prayer.

26) Some things are not. Sight, vision. Time, minutes. Age, wisdom.

27) Your thoughts matter. They move neurons. They are a new element, an undiscovered particle, an energy source that could solve this whole fossil fuels problem.

28) A year with art is better than a year without. It can be your secret lover in the dark.

29) The last line always feels like the last line. When you feel it, stop. It is finished.


29 lessons? That’s a lot. Lessons don’t come along too often. I’ve been very blessed this year. It has been a hard one, but we made it! Thank you, my dear poemfriends, for reading them. I’m very, truly grateful. Check in occasionally. I think poeming is a habit that might stick around for a bit. Bring it, 2015. Ain’t scared a bit of you. I’ve got an army of love behind me. Great joy to you all, in 2015.



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The end of the year is near. How will you celebrate it? We plan on another end of the year fire. Plus smores. Always plus smokes. I plan on doing a “here’s all the stuff I learned during this hard year” poem, but not yet. Not just yet. I have two more days of poetry to write. I don’t want them to be all dark and despairing. It is an easy time to get downhearted, and it is always easiest to roll over and embrace the darkness. But I’m not gonna. Not tonight.

Tonight I’m thinking about my friend Hermina, because she posted this song: “Witch”.

I love her voice, and her band Butter informed a good third of these poems. I love the lyrics, too, and wish I could write something so haunting and beautiful. Somehow I think it helps to have a kick drum involved.

Anyhow. I’m going to write a poem, about witches or something, and then get to getting on with the end of this year, 2014.


Her love is a little rye and wild.

She is a witch, “without any witch friends”, and a magic woman in a black cone hat. She wear robes. She brews trouble, in cauldrons with newt eyes, courting mischief and rebellion with her potions.
Beware the Witch of East Hope. Beware the magic of Riser Creek, that she pours into blue glass bottles and curses with an ancient tongue.
Don’t take a goblet from the woman in black, and don’t toss back that wine the color of currents. It is poison, just as sure as that apple was.
That black water in the glass a fool’s drink, and she wants you to gulp it.
In the dead stand she lights the candles.
One to the North, South East, and West. Waits for the winds to come. The frozen ground doesn’t touch the feet of this Witch. Not at all, not at all.
The cold is warm to the cheeks of a witch. She’s out of town, often. She’s comfortable alone in the woods with her magic and dogs.
Look, look there in-between the cedar trees! Look there, look there, it is a witch!
or a branch, or the wind whipping up the creek bed and casting big pictures.
Call out then, to the seeker when you see her, call out to the woman on the bank, who disappears to sing under the rocks, call out to the woman in black that you see in the branches.

Ask her how the year went.


Witchy poem. Okay, then. Happy Tuesday, my readers of poems. How did your year go?



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Good God. This BBC article:  “‘Memories” pass between generations‘ ” that I read today told me that the reason I have the ESPN, or at least the reason I remember things that happened, most likely, to my great-grandparents, is because the chemical reactions in the blood of our ancestors creates real changes in our DNA, and those get passed along, again, and again. James Gallagher for the BBC writes, “The findings provide evidence of “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance” – that the environment can affect an individual’s genetics, which can in turn be passed on.” Whaaaaa????

n dreams, mostly, I imagine and from repetitive ancestors, but also from things. Stuff. From the stories that the stuff makes.

Also, while waiting for the Ds to get to sleep, I watched Antiques Roadshow again, which always gets me in a particularly ghosty mood. I’m going to poem that and then wait for Hp to arrive here, at the Creek of the Everlasting F’Yeah. Last Ghost poem of the year. Probably.


Heirlooms are just whole stories, stuck in our things that become inheritance. Good reason to pierce your soul and put your stuffing into your stuff. Give them a meal of leftovers in memory. Quite a dustup when the Siberian amethysts went to the wrong daughter. That is not a story of our family, but it is of someone’s. Those are the best of all purple gems passed along in the bones. Sometimes the story comes back in pieces to the grandchild, and sometimes it gets all attached up in the bracelet. Sometimes it is the the ugliest lamp in the room. Might could be it is the ugliest bright and a hideous light, could be the worst ceramics in the world with the best story.  Here’s a thing of memory to the daughter. Here is a thing with a story to the son. Here is a dress or a dish or a lampshade to the granddaughter, along with the eventual jewel. Here are the weapons and tools to the grandson, too, unless there are none. Those lucky granddaughters.  The night might be bright and cold and deaf, like the cold that freezes it all up, but there are stories in the wearing or moving of these things, things that are passed with words and weight.


The weather is causing the internet to be wacky. Again. I’m going to post this before it goes away, because it is the most poemy thing that has gone all day. Monday. Hugs, you poemies.

Nightmullings and Daydreams


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The accumulation poem worked! I made it snow again! I remember, vaguely, the feeling that I controlled the weather with poetry earlier in the year. Got the ole’ poem-espn again (another Mean Girls references for those in the know).

Side note: what would the nation look like if there really were a poemESPN, and we all devoted as much time and as many dollars to it as we do to the real ESPN? Something to consider, though heavens know there is poetry in sport.

I’m reading Edward Abbey’s The Fool’s Progress, An Honest Novel. It is an eye-opener, simultaneously atrocious and beautiful, and becoming altogether gorgeous not that I’m towards the end. I had no idea about the real Ed Abbey, and if this “honest Novel” is to be trusted as new-autobiography, the man was much darker and more complicated than I had known. Here’s a passage:

“Very deep is the well of the past. Shall we not call it–bottomless? What is our history but a vivid continuous dream? We skim over the roadway bearing northeast to Kansas, me and my mortal dog, and the infinite dimensions of the recent past–a mere one century–make the brain giddy, the mind reel, the heart to swoon.
Watch the gas pedal, pal. Mind the cops. You can’t afford a lock up now How true. I slow down. I want to weep. Not for sorrow, not for joy, but for the incomprehensible wonder of our brief lives beneath the oceanic sky. This could neverhave been a populous land but even here, all about me, lie the unmarked graves of slain Indian warriors, Kiowa, Pawnee and Comanche, their women their children–twenty thousand years of living and dying. And above the natives rests a stratum of trappers, fur traders, buffalo hunters, cavalrymen, drovers, cowboys, sodbusters, more worn-out women and stricken children–the organic mold of thousands and thousands of forgotten human creatures like you, me him, her, this bank clerk here, this banjo plucker there, those drummers and buglers and music critics yonder…
Now now. Best not dwell on it, Lightcap. you’ll sink if you do in this sea of grass like the disintegrating plowshares that broke the plain, under a sky of dust, for what end?”.

I don’t know what struck me about that passage, beyond it’s lovely flow and the fact that I often feel the weight of that history that deems our own lives mere flashes in the pan, as we all do, I imagine. I also have a real desire to work on containing my thoughts to the present moment, but it’s a struggle. I wonder, and philosophize, night-mull and daydream.

Something about this recent accumulation and the fact that I had to go back to work (soon, too soon) tonight and the students watch the documentary about Shane McConkey have got me thinking about mortality today. That, and winter driving. What risks we take. Some more than most.

A poem on this life, and then bed:

Nightmullings and Daydreams

Enough with all the pathetic nightmullings and daydreams, on the one and only question, to which there answers both none and infinite. Enough with the wishes to be somehow, in any way, watched under the divine. Is it only with the snow falling like the cold ashes of the recently-dead that the peace is felt, as though freed from the undisappearing question that eats without end through the loam in my brain? If only I could lock it somehow away, with a big door of faith, but faith is so slippery a goo, so hard to hold fast. How to forget, on the December’s drive, when the tires slip, the funereal mountains and the bones under the valley, whose calcium supports the beams of their crumbling barn, and the tracings of the foundation, seen only in spring? It is always the same, always thumping with rhyme in my chest. Is now enough? Is it enough, enough?


Gosh darnit. Another question poem. That’s okay. I like it enough. Goodnight, all you readers of poems. Happy Sunday.

The Accumulations


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Got all sunny up here for minute. And pow pow:


It was like counting up the inches and forget the pines, and give these penulties,
Let us gather the ways, and count the ways it piles up, like whoa whoa whoa, just woke up of this trout stream, and I’m wondering just were you entered. What for do you think about these inches? Wherefore did they come? Here it falls like Thanks, like thank you, thank you word. Imagine the bugger wordl

Hug you, friends of the poems. happy saturday.

The Messy Contradictions


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We have a night in the house to ourselves! The Ds are spending the night at their Grandparents’ new pad, and I’m going to rock this poem out and go play a board game with HP. I know just yesterday I wrote about wanting to spend more time on the last week’s poems, but we are never alone in the house. Ever. This is a few times a year experience, so I think that it is okay to get to typing and then gather some poemy pieces for tomorrow. Always thinking ahead.

Actually, my desire to make these last few poems extra awesome and my desire to go kick it in my house with my guy are a constant battle, and that brings me to tonight’s poem. We are different in a lot of ways, HP and I, but we work, some how. I’m going to think on that for a poem, and then get offline.

The Messy Contradictions

When you suggest moving a desk in my office, so we can work together, I reply that you are a den man, and I am a studio girl. You with your maps and books and instruments of navigation, and me with my altar, clean light, and imprints of water and giant black-purple poppies we work, but not in the same room, not for this. For I am the introvert who can talk for hours, and an anxious procrastinator. I crave distraction, and seek it out. I, the messy germaphobe, which why the dirty jobs are left to you: the pooper-scooper, the rodent-removal, the spider carnage, and the dump-runs. My neuroses make the appointments, to cover our teeth and general health, and purchase the researched foods. You are the ambitious dreamer, who also is no stranger to midnight conversations. You are excellent at talking it down, I am guilty of bring up all the danger. We are messy, but not unclean, clean but not neat. We are the masters of unwritten daydreams, and the ventricles of one rhythmic organ, you the left and me the right, or vice versa. Whichever. We could be the hemispheres in love, synapses shooting back and forth, working, always, on the same one life.

Never know when the love poems will come. It’s interesting. It’s true, though, HP and I are very similar, and very different. Somehow, though, it works. Happy Day After Christmas! I hope you all still have your decorations up, at least for a little bit.

December 25, 2014


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Merry Christmas! Yesterday my mother and Aunt gave me a box of paper, with every single poem of the year printed. It was very heavy. That was a lovely gift, especially given that even after a year of doing this every day, I am still so blogilliterate that I can’t figure out how to make a month-by-month archive. It made me cry. They’ve been reading them, and that a) makes me feel loved, and b) is embarrassing. Because I know the poems have gotten shorter, and lazier, and sloppier, and now I have evidence. I know that the poems have gotten shorter and less topical, and I’m so exhausted at the end of 2014 that I shy away from the news that moves me, and I go too fast, because I have no time, and I want to slow down. In 2015, I think I’ll give myself a piece, of what ever genre I choose, a week. Or a month? The daily deadline doesn’t offer me much in terms of time, and it is a bad feeling. I know I’ve tired of poems, but there are seven left, which is nothing. It would be nice to have thought something poem-y at some point today. Christmas Christmas Christmas, gush gush gush, whatever. I want something truer, and closer to the bone. This is the last week of the year. Let’s write a poem about that.

December 25th, 2014

Nobody has ever been here before, not right at this minute, in this year, not yet, no one but the newborn. It is really just a record of flashings, and brief pretty minutes and small claps on the back, this year. It is just a pile of shock, bright minutes up against the weighty dark. At this, the years end, we are plumb out of feels, shellish and full of shaken cheer. At this, the dark end of the cycle, we are reduced to hugs, pulse-lowering caresses, and glittered paper, and the universal feeling of shaking it all off and driving and driving and driving away from responsibilities and care. The Ed Abbey jerkface feeling, the Nowhere Girl feeling, the looming and shiny shadow that calls with a pulse, like counting in the blood. It is the beat that knows that we don’t know, not at all, whether this will be the year we part. It is a scared and quivering stroke that leads us both forward into what we know of nothing. If this is a record of the year, so be it. It was bloody, and violent, invasive, mean, pushy, rude, entitled, and bitchy and we will be glad rid of it. It was a wretch of a year, mutilated and worthy of punishment and exile, but in there were the shiny minutes of good and great hope. Sometimes, in the small hours, there was some praise. Many requests for help, some more dire than others. Rarely, sunrises, often sunsets over the lake with the laden sky, grey, pink, and heavy. Sometimes we consulted myths. Sometimes we asked the advice of the dead. Always we wanted more. Always we wanted more than routine, and worried about the endless days of dinners and backpacks, not coffee spoons but carafes and uninsulated cups. This year, the fourteenth of the century, is stubborn and heavy. It is a load to bear. But, its a new one ’round the way, and I could take you by the hand and bring you to a table, somewhere coded and secret, like a secret of literature, where the key is lost to everyone but ourselves, and there we would reassure ourselves, and make a flash in the dark against the coming year.

Hmm. This is half sad, half sexy. Isn’t that how most of a year goes? Although this year, for me, was way, way sad and way sexy. And it is the first poem of the last weeks of poems of the year. Which is great for me. Thank you, poemfriends, for reading. Happy Thursday!



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I received the greatest and most grateful gifts tonight. And it was exciting to give D2 her new bed, all brilliant and beautiful, all pretty and gay. My amazing mother wove me a spread for couch in my office, and it is beautiful. This whole night makes me say this:


Here is what I say to you. I say, give great big thanks, give great big love, hard and often This is my hallelujah, and I say it loud with big thank, here, oh here, right here are the the biggest and growing thanks. Here is how it grows, like moonlight, like creeping acquaintaince, like the distance of my chest, like the pittance of the season and the sizzling sound of snowfall. Here it is on the ground, here is in the sweet morn, here it is the full fall of big flakes in the yard, here they fall in the heart temple.

I missed you all year long.

Merry Christmas Eve, poemfriends. Love you.