Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Have I told you I love to swim? Oceans especially.
I grew up body surfing against narrow margins
of sand. Rivers next -- rocky, shallow cold rivers.
Lake, pond, pool too. Today, the last day, we drove
back to Abiqui. I swam in this amazing lake
surrounded by...well you can see. High desert
mesas & red rock & the smell of sage as clouds
amassed for yet another afternoon storm.
There was something other worldly.
The lake's not natural, created by damming
the Chama River. It serves as a reservoir.
Swimming there felt a bit the way I imagine
swimming on another planet might be like.
To float, surrounded by red clay cliffs
that hug the shore, not the endless ocean.
A good way to end things. A last swim.
Good bye to butte, to adobe, to annunciative
(is that a word) weather, to turquoise.

Monday, July 27, 2009

everything is illuminating

I see it -- my habits of seeing, the sightline
I've been stuck in, the same old same old
you know, it's always trees, bird, the dead
chimpanzee, make it new, breakfast or
collage but the same. It's a habit this
way I've been seeing, like smoking or chocolate.
So obvious that a different landscape would be
evocative, but how to make a blue door from
an old sock is the conundrum.

winding down

Blue blue sky & I'm going running
then off to find a river rock or two
maybe another mesa while I can
though bringing a mesa home
will be hard as they'll charge
extra in baggage & there won't
be room in the overhead bins
so I'll have to carry it another
way, which I can think about
while I run along with other
thoughts on the final days
in turqouise/silver land.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I've been thinking about structure. Maybe it's
the horizon, the lack of cluttery maples, the wide sky.
Turquoise too. Structure & turquoise. I've been reading
a friend's manuscript. That gets me to structure as well.
In a round about way, to my own manuscript. Which shares
some things with the photographs above. That's what I realized
running the other morning. But then the great revelations
that seize me when I run later look less shiny. Not out here,
though. All thoughts appear bright with a vivid gloss.
Structures too -- door ways, trucks, cars in shadow.
An abandoned house. & everywhere turquoise.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Yesterday I watched the weather's bold strokes
as swaths of rain moved over the high desert.
Blue gray clouds made the mesas and buttes
pop. The Chama River glowed with muddy
reds and browns. I'd forgotten about these colors.

Monday, July 20, 2009


From Adrienne Rich's new essay collection, A Human Eye:
A poem is not about; it is out of and to. Passionate language in movement. The deep structure is always musical, and physical--as breath, as pulse.
This strikes me as I travel in the southwest. Out here I'm removed from the routine and I see differently. I see because the elevation is 6,000 feet, because the predominant hue isn't green but mesa red and sage brush gray. I see differently because the architecture is pueblo not colonial. Here the color turquoise is myth not decoration. My breath is short as I run. The sun does in fact beat against my skin. There are new cadences -- the grandmother's voice lifts up at the end of her instructions to her grandson. I get stuck in my landscape, the small backyard of my mind. It feels good to be in motion.

Rich again:
Poetic imagination or intuition is never merely unto itself, free-floating, or self-enclosed. It's radical, meaning root-tangled in the grit of human arrangements and relationships: how we are with each other.
Here are some things I saw over the past couple of days

Friday, July 17, 2009

up and away

the landscape I'll be in for the next
10 days...Georgia O'Keefe country.
But I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

High Line Park Walk-Sunday afternoon

By Frank O'Hara

I'm going to New York!
(what a lark! what a song!)
where the tough Rocky's eaves
hit the sea. Where th'Acro-
polis is functional, the trains
that run and shout! the books
that have trousers and sleeves!

I'm going to New York!
(quel voyage! jamais plus!)
far from Ypsilanti and Flint!
where Goodman rules the Empire
and the sunlight's eschato-
logy upon the wizard's bridges
and the galleries of print!

I'm going to New York!
(to my friends! mes semblables!)
I suppose I'll walk back West.
But for now I'm gone forever!
the city's hung with flashlights!
the Ferry's unbuttoning its vest!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


On Thursday, June 11th I choose—foolishly, or fortuitously, only time will tell—to memorize Lisa Jarnot’s “Thricemost Field Mouse Song.”  According to cognitive scientists, music occupies more areas of our brain than language. Music, in other words, is more accessible than words. Music is more immediate, more global, more ecstatic. Because music processing is a more distributed network than language processing, music is even, in a sense “more meaningful.” 

Visit the link and read Emily Carr's essay. She's an American poet living in Canada.

Thricemost Field Mouse Song
By Lisa Jarnot

Thricemost Field most fidelitous mice of men
mice most field toast rebellion riven gunned
of rice mice most field glow of the one
christ mass field task resting mice and run
run most field roast, mossy mice of one
arm’s length mouse flank, felicitious and sunned
tan glow field row mouse is underdone
cooked roe built of field greens overrun
run mouse field house tent inside the sun
love paste arm’s haste mouse toes moon and hum
shaped wave, spare pace, mouse face dusted on
under taken leaves all raken, golden fur begun
open out the field of mouse, the field of mouse begun

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

words etc

"In my poetry, I have tried to put words together in a fashion
that is both musical and painterly. My poems are part sound
machines, part riddles and part verbal collages." Tan Lin

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I begin by imagining an artwork verbally. I try to describe in writing what the project is, what it is trying to do. I need to understand the artwork without giving it a specific materiality or solid form. -- Maya Lin

When I was young I spent a lot of time either reading books
under my bed (quiet, away) or lying on top of my bed staring out the
window. There wasn't much else around. The house, built by my
father on a hill, was high enough that I could look and look,
watch the light flow and the colors in flux against the hills and sky.

Yesterday's visit to Maya Lin's Storm King Wavefield recalled
those hours. Finally the air is dry and the light is clear. You
couldn't walk in the waves, constructed and shaped out of
an old gravel pit, because the rain has dampened the new grass.
But I had a sense of flux and flow even from afar.


My qarrtsiluni co-editor Anna Dickie and I exchanged books. Hers, titled heart notes, arrived while I was teaching last week, and finally over the holiday I had time to take it in. Her poetry, like her photography, is much connected to the natural world, often the garden. There's wit and wisdom here. I love especially how she takes on the idea of ordered chaos. Garden work and life work encounter "drought and deluge...scored into the heartwood," and Anna returns to this theme. She brings the sharp sensibility of a photographer to these strong, beautiful poems. You read and see word images developing across her lines in sound and sense the way a photograph comes up out of the soup of light and chemical. The book was published by Calder Wood Press. Go check it out.