Archive for the ‘Recall’ Category


Definition: accept as true, credit with veracity, follow a credo, judge or regard
Synonyms: v. 1. maintain, assert, opine, hold, consider, regard, conceive, trust, have faith in, confide in, credit, accept, affirm, swear by, have no doubt
Quotes: ♦ In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true. — Buddha


♦ I believe that every person is born with talent.  — Maya Angelou


♦ The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. — Abraham Lincoln


♦ 20. Believe in the holy contour of life — Jack Kerouac from BELIEF & TECHNIQUE FOR MODERN PROSE

Antonyms: disbelieve, distrust

I believe…

Do you believe in the Lock Ness Monster, the Man in the Moon, Santa Claus? Do you believe in finding Big Foot, flying saucers, ghosts in the machine? Do you believe this year will be better than the last? Do you believe in yourself, your visions, your dreams? The things I believe change from year to year, decade to decade. I used to believe in the tooth fairy, the Velvet Underground, peace, love and rock and roll. What do you believe?

In the 1950s, a radio program called This I Believe was hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear essays from people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Wallace Stegner, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman—anyone able to distill the guiding principles by which they lived into a few minutes. (For inspiration, you can listen to essays on broadcasts from the 1950s at This I Believe.)

What are the principles by which you live? Are they different than they were two, three, or four years ago? Do you hang around friends who share your beliefs? Or push to expose yourself to other ways of thinking. The goal of the contemporary version of This I Believe (revived on NPR in 2004) was not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs, but to encourage people to develop respect for beliefs different from their own.

Get out your fast writing pens and write the Topic I believe… at the top of your spiral notebook (or start tapping away on your computer or Smartphone).

You can write a haiku, tanka, or gogyohka  practice and post it in the comments.

Or you may be surprised at what you discover when you follow the rules of Writing Practice —- I believe…, 10 minutes, Go!

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, January 2nd, 2012

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All is quiet in my home. I am staring out at wind rocking the trees. Mr. StripeyPants curls up on the wool blanket beside me. I connect to something wild in him. I’m reminded of my March practices — mandalas and writing about the moon. Where has she been hiding? I don’t remember seeing her this month. Has it been too gray. Or have I not been paying attention. The light has come back. The sky is lighter before bed. Maybe she disappears into the white skies of summer.

There are many names for the March moon. I resonate most with the Eastern Cherokee name of Wind Moon. I came out of a meeting this afternoon, walked across the macadam parking lot. The wind kicked through my hair. There was a coolness about her, not like the dog days of August, or the warm breezes of June. It was as if the sky had licked the top of a mound of crusted snow, sucked up her coolness, and swept it across my face. I woke up.

The Farmers’ Almanac calls the March moon, the Crow Moon, a name from many of the Northern tribes. There is the Kiowa Bud Moon, the Shawnee Sap Moon, and the Alaskan Haida Noisy Goose Moon. There is the Worm Moon and the Moose Hunter Moon. But I walk with the Wind, and the poetry of the Hopi — Month of the Whispering Wind. The names are connected to the land, grounded there. That is why I like this practice. Even if I can’t see the Moon, it doesn’t mean she is not there. The tides rise and fall to her rhythm.

I haven’t walked the land this week. But I slow walk any chance I get. Across the streets, parking lots, and sidewalks in the cities and suburbs where I live. Along the steps that lead up to my studio. I always remember to look up. On the ground, my feet hold the connection. Rooted. Every angle counts. As above, so below.

The wind has been blowing all day long. Dark winter branches fall from leafless trees. Twigs snap and drop on the deck. Strong winds strip away the dead wood, prepare the land for renewal. I saw one patch of green on top of the driveway garden when tires splashed through puddles of melted snow. There is an ice dam by the garbage can, melting and freezing, puddling and coughing, spitting and sputtering toward warmth and sun.

The three cats run to the door when we return home. They stand on their back legs, noses against the screen, and stare out at the return of migrating birds. I saw my first robin on a branch near the downtown Minneapolis library yesterday evening. Traffic was heavy. We were looking for a parking spot. “Look! My first robin!” I said to Liz. “Where?” she peered out the window in the direction I was staring. “Oh, I see it! Yeah, Spring!”

Then we parked and walked across crumbled cracks in the sidewalk and into the high-rise library. We went to see a writer, Will Weaver, and a filmmaker, Ali Selim, talk about their work. The writer wrote a short story, A Gravestone Made of Wheat. The film maker read it and wept. Then he bought the rights and spent 15 years writing the screenplay and trying to gather enough money to get the film made. It is called Sweet Land. I wept when I watched it for the first time last week.

That’s the kind of writing I want to do. I want to write a story that is so true to its time, that it makes others weep. We sat in chairs in the Minneapolis public library, each with a small brass plate on one arm. The plate is etched with the name of a writer who is, or once was, connected to Minnesota. I listened to writers talk about their work. Money sometimes surfaces in these conversations. How do you make a living and write. I believe we find our way. If we continue to show up.

Continue under all circumstances. Don’t be tossed away. Make positive effort for the good. The positive effort will take you a long way. And the giving to others. I’ve witnessed it countless times. It creates an opening in me. A whole place where I can learn to receive.

I don’t see the Wind Moon tonight. I hear the knocking of the chimes. If I don’t see the Wind, it doesn’t mean she is not there. The sky is black. Two planes flash, rerouted across distant skies. I don’t hear them. I see wing lights flashing in the dark. I know the moon is behind me, rising above the oaks. If I look out the bedroom windows in a few hours, I might see her pale face, 3rd quarter – half dark, half light. There’s a symmetry, a balance in that. I count on her. The Moon is dependable. She is never tossed away.

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 29th, 2008

-related to posts:  winter haiku trilogy, PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min, and PRACTICE – Snow Moon (Total Lunar Eclipse) — 20min

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What I know about tattoos I learned from D___. His entire right leg was tattooed, and most of his left leg. Both shoulders, all around his neck, most of both arms. His tattoos were serpents and Japanese letters and blues and purples, some red, beautiful tattoos, and I would examine them, lifting his leg while he lay on his back.

I wanted to get tattoos, but the desire hit me late, after I knew my body was mine to adorn for my pleasure. I wanted Our Lady of Guadalupe on my bicep, like Catholic sailors, except my bicep wasn’t big enough to hold her holy glory, plus I worried that her golden rays would droop as I got old.

But when I wanted tattoos I was firm, late 30s, after I’d had Dee and Em and knew that I could do things like birth babies on the bathroom floor or crouching like a tiger in my bedroom.

Why then, no tattoos? Mid-life crisis-y, that’s what I told myself. How desperate, how too-little-too-late. If I got tattoos, I’d want to be like D___, 1/3 of my body covered (by now probably the images creep up around his ears and chin like ivy crawling up a tree).

I’d want to paint myself in excess, or like piercings, be one of those people who start with a second hole in each ear, then add a small gauge. Then my lip and the spot above my eyebrow. My nose, and believe me, I considered my nose but later worried that I might get ancient and be dotted with holes that would affect my breathing, or worse, sag like big drops.

I remember Carmen Chavez’s cat pulled her earring straight through her ear and her lobe hung like a cloven hoof, all floppy like fringe, and that image stayed with me forever so that the piercings went the way of the tattoos. Out of mind.

I did get one second piercing on my right ear, although the last time I wore a stud in it was when I was 19, I think, and had teeny-tiny diamonds that Corky gave me and that I almost immediately lost, or one anyway.

I wish I had been the kind of young adult that thought nothing of changing my body, nothing of the risks of dirty needles — Cousin R___ got Hepatitis for life on account of his tattoos. I wish I could have colored away, I wish I’d even gone for the parts of my body where the skin sits on bone, showed my tolerance for pain and gotten Saint Lucy’s eyeballs, one on the top of each hand.

Someone once told me my art would make good tattoos, but I might have gone for more traditional images, a skull and bones on my other bicep, no dainty stuff, just the fare of soldiers and men my father’s age, a ribbon floating across my back shoulder, I Love You Jim!, except it might have had some other man’s name on it, an earlier love, for I would have been younger and bolder when I got it.

I’ve always been most in awe of the teardrops falling from the outside corner of a person’s eye, one drop for each year in prison, or is it for every five years, I wonder.

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – TATTOOS

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By Christine Swint

Whatever grows out of this pen, the ink, the spidery words trailing across the page, grow out of me like the hair sprouting from my scalp. The words are connected to my brain only in the instant the pen touches the paper, the same way that my hair is a part of my body only on the surface, at the follicle.

I often wonder why humans have so little hair covering their bodies, when our primate cousins have fur aplenty. In his book, The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris theorized that for a while, and I guess he meant a long while, humans became water mammals, losing most of their thicker body hair because it wasn’t needed, keeping only the hair on their head for warmth. But what about pubic hair? Why would that hair have stayed on the body while rest of our skin kept only peach fuzz?

Maybe hair in places other than the head is not as sexually attractive to humans, at least not on the female form. Think how much money women, and some men, spend on ridding their bodies of unwanted hair: laser removal, electrolysis, Persian threading, waxing, tweezing, chemicals that shrivel the hair at the root, and of course, time-honored shaving.

As I grow older, the faint down of a young man’s moustache has appeared above my lip, which I remove every six weeks or so. I also have my eyebrows waxed. I’m not going to reveal anything else here — I’m writing to the bone, but not the bikini line!

I’ve tried threading, because it’s such a clean, non-invasive way of removing hair. It works like a rotary lawn mower, gently swiping the hair off the skin.

Humans do love hair, but we’re selective about where we want to see it.


Christine Swint studied English and Spanish at the University of Georgia, and Spanish literature at Middlebury College in Spain. She writes poetry, fiction, and personal essays in Spanish and English. She lives in metro Atlanta with her husband, two teenage sons, and two dogs, Raf and Duffy. After teaching in the public high school for many years, she now teaches yoga in local community centers.

You can read more of Christine’s writing at her primary blog, mariacristina. Christine also keeps a blog — called Yoga Dreams — about her experiences as a teacher and practitioner of yoga.

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – HAIR

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What’s in front of me is a list of the four ingredients for roasted broccoli:

garlic powder
olive oil

I wonder why I left off the main ingredient.

I wrote the items down in my notebook on Friday night, and on Saturday late in the day I cut the broccoli into florets and used my hand to coat each little tree with the oil mixture.

Little trees, that’s what we call broccoli, Jim and I, as a way to entice the girls to savor it as much as we do. “Eat your little trees,” we might say. On Saturday evening Em asked, “Do you like the top of the tree or the trunk better?” Jim said “the top,” I said “the trunk,” and I thought of the bartender in an Italian restaurant where I worked in college who taught me to peel the thick skin and eat the stalk, it’s the sweetest part. At the close of each night I handed him a bag with all the stalks we would have tossed, and every time I make broccoli I think of him.

What’s in front of me is tap water in a cobalt blue glass on my nightstand, a necklace made of Catholic medallions, the kind you get for Confirmation or First Holy Communion, and lip gloss that belongs to Dee. I used the lip gloss last night, my lips were dry and it was there, bubble gum flavor. It reminded me of Taft Junior High and shiny tacky lips and a big white sweater I wore every day to school in 7th grade.

What’s in front of me are my knees propping up my notebook. I’m tired, too tired to sit up and write. I took Dee and Em on a long walk in the bosque, we left a little after three and we kept going as if we were compelled to find something further on the trail and further yet, we walked and ran, and I had the sense that the woods were alive with pulsating pinks and oranges and browns.

What’s in front of me is the prospect of having to go out in the cold night to pick up a prescription at Walgreens that I meant to call in all weekend. In front of me the strong possibility that I’ll blow it off until tomorrow morning. In front of me Jim saying “you’re not going to make it to the store if you lie down like that.” I smile but don’t stop writing, years of saying “you see me writing in my notebook? — don’t talk to me” have fallen on deaf ears.


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A woman in navy gators, old-style webbed snowshoes, laced with sinew, bulky and awkward, tucked up under her armpit, slinging waggling ski poles, wrapped in a red knit ski cap with earflaps. I’m reminded that Natalie has a wool cap like that, a Sherpa cap that looks like someone knitted (no, crocheted?) it for her, especially for her. And now I’m remembering a photograph I took of her with dark shades and that Sherpa cap, gloves, or tan mittens. She’s staring right at me, right into the camera. We are walking the dirt road to the white cross behind Mabel Dodge, the one painted by O’Keeffe.

The sun is pale orange, sinking in a crisp winter sky. Wind whistles, clouds surf along a plume of chimney smoke, sky purples, alternating stripes of gray and red, tapered yellowish tails that blind me when I look into the sun to remember how to describe the light. Light is one of the hardest things to write about. Hard to detail. Like trying to capture the feeling of sucking air through a candy-cane striped straw. The kind in the Wendy’s Frosty I had Friday night. It was late, the storm was coming, Liz stayed two hours later at work. Overtime and a feeling of job well done.

Clingy, tawny oak leaves, sucked into winter’s vortex, hanging on by a single, dead stem. Bobbing ash branches over the Mystic River deck. That’s the name of the color of our deck: Behr Mystic River. And the house will be Pot of Cream next year and the trim will be Cloudberry. The color scheme, does it tell you anything about us? Or describe true color?

What’s in front of me, a long, lonely winter. Not the kind of lonely I am used to. Not the long-suffering alone kind of lonely. But the kind of lonely where I have to make decisions that impact me for a long time to come. There are decisions. And then there are consequences of decisions. Will ever the twain meet? I want to know.

Aluminum blue streaks, striated against brown banana orange. Night falls from the West. There is dusting of powder on the north side of the ash. The tree is 3 pronged and I see the sun through the slingshot V of branch 1 and branch 2. Thing 1 and Thing 2 with their shiny red and white hats. The snowshoe woman looked like Thing 3, though I couldn’t see her face. She walked briskly, head down against the wind. It picks up as the clouds disperse, making way for the frigid air of a clear night.

A midsummer night’s dream is only a distant memory. Orange day lilies and sweet bush clover and pansies and black-eyed susans. I took a lemon bristled broom and a fire handled, snow shovel and took care of the deep, mottled driveway, the newly painted deck, the lean and trim gutters that Gene completed on the eve of Saturday’s storm. He was dressed in Carhart brown and sucked on a Marlboro while he deftly tacked the gutter pipe to the old 50’s Masonite siding. “It’s in good shape,” he said. “Usually, this stuff cracks.”

He looked kind of James Deanish (there I go again) with that cigarette dangling from his winter lips, sideburn edges peeking under a red skull cap, body wrapped in the bulk of winter construction in Minnesota. He was the nicest man and I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated contracting with professionals who do what they say they will do and don’t quit until the job is done.

An elongated scar on the south branch of the closest naked oak. It’s about 50 feet from the window I’m staring out as I write. There were two cardinals (aren’t they bulked up finches?) on the three feeders on Friday, one male, one female. The female was an understated caramel, with her tiniest breast feathers ruffling in juts of wind. I wondered if she was cold.

Then the male flitted by in papal crimson and true black. The female had a little blip of red on her crest. I watched them dance back and forth on the oily, black-seeded feeder. The neighbor plugged in his outdoor Christmas tree, twinkling white, while his kids pulled out over thin air, dangling from a wooden seated rope swing hanging from the same scarred oak.

Plus 6 with the windchill. The night’s sunset is reflected in the shiny screen of Liz’s laptop. She oils her hands with a lavender salve I bought at the Albuquerque Growers Market last summer. I feel glad to be alive.

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 2nd, 2007


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I feel loved when I hear the words, “Hi, you.” That’s what Jim sometimes says when he answers my call on the cell phone. They sweep me off my feet, those simple words, and if that were all he did for the rest of our lives together, I think I’d be happy.

I feel loved when Em comes up and hugs me. She reaches the top of my waist, hugs tightly, then pats my back with her little hand. I am surprised by her capacity to love, how did she get so much room in her tiny body?

I feel loved when my family gets along, no quarreling over sharing the peppermint bark or which movie to watch on the computer or who gets a skirt and who doesn’t. No bickering over your turn to cook or I’ve cooked all week. Mine is a need for harmony, and more than that, optimism and kindness.

I realized after staying in bed most of yesterday that I rely on others to make me feel loved, rely on the smooth humming of those who live with me. When Jim gets sick, as he was Thanksgiving night, with bad pains in his lower abdomen, I feel unloved, or overwhelmed, unable to carry forth. It’s not how I want to be, I want to be a strong, loving partner, but sometimes my strength comes too much from the strength of those around me.

I’ve been reluctant to write about love, reluctant to look inside my heart and ask, What is love? Love isn’t gifts, I know that. I love touch, but more than touch I need words. Simple “Good morning,” “I love you.” Even if “I love you” is doled out every few intervals, as long as it’s said with a lift in the voice, it takes me with it. On a trip to lovedom. Dumb lovedom.

Love, love is. I remember the movie Love Story. Larry watched it sitting on the orange beanbag in the den. It was past my bedtime, but I crept behind the bar separating the kitchen and den, and I watched to the end. Love is never having to say you’re sorry. The next night I crawled into bed with Mom and told her I thought I had cancer. I guided her hand to my chest and showed her the small lumps in my breasts.

“Oh,” she laughed, “those are breast buds, the beginning of boobs.” I cried, partly from humiliation, partly relief. I thought I had the same kind of tumors that killed Ali McGraw, thought my tragedy greater than hers, me younger, me real, me not loved by a handsome Ryan O’Neal. Never knowing love and knowing in the soul inside my heart what this meant, loving to the point of not needing to say you’re sorry.

Only later did I find out that I feel loved when after foul words are spilled, my beloved can tell me that he is sorry.


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Alberto Gonzales, I see his round face, some vato I might see at El Camino Restaurant on Fourth Street, eating huevos rancheros. There he might be happy, light, maybe even Democrat, but up on stage, the television reporters talking over each other to ask him questions, poor señor Gonzales was like the proverbial deer. I saw his fear.

I don’t like Alberto, was happy when he resigned, but I do recognize one thing. A fish out of water.

Now that he’s gone I can wonder what it was like working with the Bushes and Cheneys. The privileged white people who know names like “Alberto” and “José” and “Juan” from their gardening help. I can imagine how Bush might have pronounced Alberto’s name. The long Al, the Bear, and the Toe. Al-Bear-Toe.

Or maybe Bush was used to his share of Albertos from the ranch in Crawford. Maybe his best laborers were brothers named Jesús and Miguel, and their cousin Alberto, and maybe Bush could get by with broken Spanish. Hell, his brother married a brown girl, for God’s sake, we love ‘em like family.

But this isn’t Alberto or Dubya or Jeb. Although I do like saying “Jeb.” This is me, I’m a fish, flopping around on the ground. Do I grow feet, do I flounder, what are my experiences?

I married a white guy, we call them “Anglos,” and his politics are good. Strong democratic family, a good family. Kind and compassionate. My husband says when he grew up he wanted to be American Indian. He catches fish with his hands. He’s a fish out of water, too, my husband, and one of the ornaments we have for our Christmas tree is a black sheep his mother knitted for him.

I went to the Albuquerque Country Club for lunch last week. It was an event my mother-in-law invited me to, something she wanted me to do. It’s complicated. I love her, really love this woman. I wanted to be there, to put on my best face. I’m beyond high school resentments, those Cleff brothers who called it Vato High. I’m grown up, a grown woman with children, for God’s sake. Nothing is as glib as when seen through the broken heart of an 18-year-old.

There, in the white linen tablecloth world of brown people taking care of white people, the club members with names like Baca and Gonzales, they’re mainstreamed now. Do they look in the eye of the thin brown vato walking past on his way to pull weeds so the sidewalk is free of debris?

Fish out of water, I grow lungs and legs and my scales get light. I attended a Hispanic Leadership Conference hosted by my company. I told a VP that I appreciated his embracing his “chicanismo,” and the guy looked at me and said he embraces his “puertoricanismo.” Take that, brown chica grown up in a white world, at least I have my own people, we eat our eses and reject all of it, especially your stale Reyes Tijerina revolution.

So adaptable. Like Alberto. We conform. Speak with zero accent. Use big words. Go to banquets, my God, I can straighten my hair in the name of a banquet. Too bad he is a Republican, and a nasty one at that. I might have felt sorrier than I did the morning I heard the news, the fish finally died.


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by Elizabeth Statmore

Writing this book is the loneliest journey I have ever been on.
Nothing even compares — not divorce, not mental illness, not
abandonment, not the murder of my best friend from high school. Not
therapy. Not meditation.

The other day I told Natalie how hard I am finding this last stretch.
She agreed sympathetically and compared it to giving birth. “At the
end, you really have to push.”

A thought occurred to me. “So is there an epidural when you get to
this part?”

She laughed. “No painkillers. Just screaming.”

Some days I wonder if this is how the deeply delusional feel in
psychiatric hospitals. I shuffle around the house in my socks and a
dark blue sweatshirt, muttering to myself. Just me and my characters.
I hear their voices. They argue and negotiate on the pages of my
spiral notebook. I plug cartridge after cartridge into my Waterman
fountain pen. Black ink only. I can’t bear to see colors these days.

The other night my dharma teacher said, “Intention precedes action.”
I wrote this on a small yellow Post-It and placed it next to the
altar on the far left corner of my desk. On the wall just above it is
a companion Post-It with a recovery saying on it. The saying was
given to me by a fellow writing practice writer. It says, “Motivation
follows action.”

This captures how I am feeling these days. Intention precedes action
and motivation follows it. And I am suspended in the action in the
middle, groundless and beyond grasping, hovering over the edge of the
cliff like the great dharma teacher Wile E. Coyote. I blink into the
camera and feel myself gulp before the fall.

Abandoned Is… is a writing practice written from the Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – “ABANDONED.”

About writing, Elizabeth says:  I love the way writing practice lets me crawl through the window of a dream into the spirit world, where wild time is woven together with ordinary time to bind our souls to joy. I began writing practice in 1988, when I discovered Writing Down The Bones at my favorite bookstore, and I began formal study with Natalie Goldberg soon thereafter. Day by day, this practice has taught me to accept my whole mind and to work my way through life one word at a time.

Revisiting my old spiral notebooks reminds me how hard I worked in the learning but more importantly, how hard I had to try. They remind me how I learned to step forward with my own voice and declare, “The only one who limits me is me.” Year in, year out, they remind me how this practice has given me who I am.


In addition to the novel she is writing, Elizabeth is a frequent contributor to KQED-FM’s Perspectives series. If you would like to read more about Elizabeth, visit her website, Elizabeth Statmore. To listen to her work on Perspectives, click on the link, radio.



-posted on red Ravine, Monday, August 13th, 2007

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For writers and artists, blogs can be a curse and a blessing. A curse when you spend hours of your time clicking your way through one blog then another, all the while not getting to the essay or the canvas or the slow walking, sitting, or writing practice. A blessing when you find like-minded souls and inspiration in the works they publish.

These two blogs have been a blessing for us at red Ravine: Walking Turcot Yards documents the author’s relationship with “the world’s largest abandoned space,” Turcot Yards in the south west of Montreal. (neath of Walking Turcot Yards also provides these photoblog links to other unusual and highly inspirational sites, including d e s o l a t e   m e t r o p o l i s.) Anuvue Studio is written by Heather, who says in one of her posts that “‘normal’ isn’t part of my vocabulary.” Normal isn’t part of her imagery, either.

One theme that stands out in both blogs is “abandoned.” Abandoned buildings, playgrounds, homes. Abandoned industrial areas and overpasses. The photos evoke dreams of yellow-lit tunnels, desolate desert, wind whistling through broken glass. Being abandoned — such a dreadful thought. And yet, here are these left-for-good places, living on while the rest of us think they’re dead.

What does the word “abandoned” mean to you? What feelings does it bring up? Take a tour through these six images. As soon as you’re done, write a ten-minute practice on Abandoned is…


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roar, still, ebb, flow
herbicide, hamburger
swaying limbs, pine needles
swift, clouds
exhaust, chemical lawns
i wish i was a mountain

cracked leather, brass penny
gray stitches & socks
worn sole, aged & ancient
keds, flat-footed
rolling rubber, unfettered, grounded

spots like eyes, no eyelashes
knobby ears, no ears
sticky mouth, no mouth
nibbling on a daisy, no tongue
understanding me, the moment, the afterglow
in flight, landed, no feet

ram, dodge, uterus, flows into aries head
subjugated, relegated, to low status, low rider
rimmed by a rubber tire, spoked corroded metal
rubber meets road, i’d rather be home
standing to the side, sitting on the curb
i am at the same level, butt on the ground

rust in the pocket
pocked & dipped
i smell cement & car metal & rubber
cracks & the edge of a blade of grass
pokes its head out of hard manmade
crumbles, crumbs, chirps of a cricket
lunch is over, i rise

milliliter after milliliter
ounce after ounce, thirst, hunger
hungry for what? mark line, fault line
boundary between air and water
glass half empty, glass half full
refraction – florescent amber
blonde desktop water saves
me from cubed ice and pods
the size of a manhole
underground refreshment
heavy the weight of water

dots, dots, dots
green dots, yellow dots
bright avery triangulated red
lines like paper cups & beige
with the thumbprint over the logo
logo – type – typewriter
who uses a typewriter?
Dorothy Brett, i have 2
and these old dotted labels
begging to stick

rhododendrons, mt. hiijidake
scarlet pink, hovering clouds
6, the number 6, for months
Giant 6 –
Red sundays on 3, 10, 17, 24
japanese, i wish i spoke japanese
elegant characters
calligraphic boundaries
days of the week, months of the year
all start with sunday

container, containers, marion woodman
containers archetypes vessels
square, rectangle, cardboard
corrugated, no lid, missing lid
destroy date, obscured
contents – drawback
exp – holes for handles
oh wait, lid is not missing
it’s stuck to the bottom
snug – safe – tight

coffee stains, jitters, duluth
superior, travel in stainless steel
black plastic, dips and holes
thumb holder handle
skinny bottom, wide top, reflects
myself back to me
and in between, liquid gold

 Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

-from Topic post, Gesture

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I find beauty in red, deep red the color almost of blood, blood running and deep inside, but dry blood, that turns light as if the oxygen has infused light. I find beauty in wide faces, clear skin, open expressions, the smile of my daughter. How she hasn’t yet grown in incisors and how when she smiles wide I see gaps on either end of her smile. How that makes her smile look deep like a laugh.

Beauty is something I find in odd little corners. I remember a labyrinth of streets in The Albaicín in Granada, stumbling across a vine-covered restaurant, how it seemed to grow into a wall, hidden and white, the cobblestone streets, the color of lavendar. I find beauty in the seeds of the pomegranate, that means “granada,” and I like that the shell of the fruit resembles a treasure chest, the seeds are gems glinting in sunlight.

Today, warm now and slower, slowing down, I find beauty in nothing, and I don’t mean that I find no beauty but rather *nothing* can be lovely. Nothing pressing, nothing pushing, just being. Beauty.

I find beauty in the mole above Mom’s lip. She had it taken off years ago, but always it was the mark I recognized, like a penguin who knows its child by its sound, I knew Mom by her beauty mark, her hair up in rollers and a bandana covering it, a cigarette hanging from her lip reminding me that she is tough, and those thin lips trembling with anger or love. Beauty.

-Writing practice from my notebook, June 2006.

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A spare moment, one not accounted for or otherwise claimed. A moment to carve out warmth on the sofa, from sitting here long enough that the heat transfers from me to the cushion, envelops me just so. Just so much that I know when I stand to pick up the pizza crust box and read how to make the dough, the warmth will evaporate, from me and from the couch.

What makes me happy is having no one accountable, me to them, them to me. Hearing the girls talk in their room, no voices raised, no agitation at all except for arguing birds out the half-cracked kitchen window.

Happy for health in all its forms. Strong, vibrant body. Shimmering skin. Em was sick with the stomach bug this weekend. She stayed with Mom, and I have to say I was happy to let my mom deal with my vomiting feverish child, happy it wasn’t me doing the soothing and cleaning, nor the puking. (Yet sad to know how easily I relinquish those duties, still not a mother yet, not the mother I knew and loved.)

Happy to have spent time this morning painting, although with the Open House looming today my quiet patience turned to impatience, especially when I realized I couldn’t scan my drawings without my laptop. Unhappy with technology, the whims of CD-ROMs, how they must be cataloged and saved and pulled out just in case. Yet, the CD with my printer driver is long gone and the blue moon at last arrived.

I can’t say I’m happy this Sunday evening. I’m not sad. I’m content, overwhelmed by owning more than one house, wish the other would find its buyer. Wouldn’t mind a fast forward to June or July, or even September, the start of my favorite, most happy time in New Mexico.

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All the way to the building this morning a voice in my head keeps step with my feet. I am not equipped, it says.

I am not equipped.

I am not equipped.

It is referring to my inability to deal with the Virginia Tech shootings. Nothing inside me to rationalize that act. Nothing inside to not let it get to me, shake me deep down, frighten me, make me wonder why any of us brings children into this world, ships them off to college, watches them die. Brutal. Senseless.

We have the right adjectives. Not the right mechanisms to deal.

My mother-in-law turned to me on Sunday, we were sitting in Em’s guitar recital, and said “I weighed 112 pounds when Jo was born.” We’d been talking about cleaning out closets. She was wearing a beautiful Mexican woven shirt that brought out the green and purple in her eyes.

“One hundred and twelve pounds,” I said, “I can’t imagine.”

“Well, David had died,” she said, “and I couldn’t eat anything.” David is–was–Jim’s younger brother by 15 months. He died when Jim was six. Leukemia.

I am not equipped. I would wither and die myself. I would go on a rampage myself. No, I would never, ever do that.

I remember the morning the airplanes flew into the towers. I was driving up the hill to work. I turned around, turned my car around and went back home. Called all my staff, told them to go home.

I remember the March day we started the war in Iraq. We’d been advised at work not to talk about it. We’re a multinational company. People of all colors, nationalities, religions. I walked through my day wanting to scream, It’s war, you fools!!

I am not equipped. I go through my day, do my work. I want to cry.

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This weekend in Albuquerqe is the Poetry Slam competition to determine the members of the team who will go to the 2007 National Poetry Slam Championship in Austin, TX in August. I’m going to try to make the Albuquerque event. I want to see slam in action. It’s as much the performance as it is the poem.

In honor of slam events, which I imagine are gearing up all over the place, I challenge my writing community to do some slammin’. According to the What Exactly Is Poetry Slam FAQ, poetry slam is “the competitive art of performance poetry.”

The basic rules are:

  • Each poem must be of the poet’s own construction;
  • Each poet gets three minutes (plus a ten-second grace period) to read one poem, if the poet goes over, points will be deducted from the total score;
  • The poet may not use props, costumes, or musical instruments;

Write a poem that you can perform in three minutes. Write several. Gather an audience–your family, loved one, cats, friends–and perform your poem. Or, perform it in your kitchen, alone, where you can really belt it out. If you want, write about it. Is poetry slam your cup of tea?

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I wolfed down the creamy center of the pecan caramel roll I bought at Tobies on Sunday. We stopped there on the way home from Duluth to gas up. And, well, to buy their famous caramel rolls. I forgot to eat mine yesterday, even though it was sitting in big cardboard box with Tobies in forest green letters on the counter next to the Braun coffee brewer.

I was engulfed in the writing. And recovering from being sick all weekend. I thought it was allergies. But now I am wondering if it was a cold.

Duluth was fun anyway. We went to the center of town and walked around for a bit before heading out to Park Point. It was rainy and the windows were foggy. We were going after a virtual cache, a piece of Duluth history that has not been forgotten. There is a huge monument to 3 men that were lynched on a city street in a vigilante panic. Something the town is not proud of. There was a monument of granite and the chiseled words of writers urging us not to forget. James Baldwin was one of them. It reminded me of the power of words. Granite. And words.

The site seemed more somber in the gray day. I had just read about it on the Minnesota Historical Society’s site. And then Liz ran into a geocache along the same theme when we were packing Friday night, doing laundry, preparing the cat dishes and litter boxes. When you go away for only two days, there is a lot of prep work for the little time you get to enjoy doing nothing. But it was worth it.

I am back at home now. And the sobering reality of making a living hits me again. I started to worry yesterday. But worry is in the future. I want to stay present. So I rested and wrote. Recovering from my cold. And sending energy into the center of me.

I did have the thought before I went to bed, “What are you doing, trying to be a writer? You should have stuck with photography. It’s so much easier.”

It’s true. Photography comes more naturally to me. I find the visual arts to be easier than writing. Creative writing is a tremendous amount of work. And I’m manufacturing the details all in my head. The visual arts like photography, drawing, painting, are freeing in a different way. They are also more expensive.

To write, all I need is a pen and a piece of paper. And time.

I need to give myself the time to sit down and write. With photography, I can do it on the fly. But I have to be awake enough to see the image. And I do have to stop and be still long enough to compose the shot, and pull the shutter. I’m also a big one for full frame shots. So I don’t edit any of my images by cropping. I am a purist that way. Something I learned in Media Arts. Maybe it’s old school. But it’s the way I am.

I need to get on with the day. There is so much to do. I wish there were more time, more hours in a day to complete everything I need to get done. As it is, I can only prioritize my obligations – to other people, to work, to places I am supposed to be, tasks I am supposed to do, all the little pieces of my soul being tugged at and stretched to the limit – then take the next small step.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

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Monday morning and as usual I’m running late. Em is looking for the calendar I tucked into the file cabinet yesterday to get rid of the clutter for the open house. I burned the bacon this morning, and I didn’t even look away from it that long. And now I’m reminded of those dialog boxes that sometimes come up when you’re installing some program or using an online form–are you sure you want to navigate away from this screen? I shouldn’t have navigated away from the bacon, not even for two minutes. I ate the burned pieces. Can you believe it? I hate waste. I ate the burned pieces.

Heated up the milk for my coffee too high, left it on the counter while I got dressed. Came back to the milk and there’s that thin film on top. The thing I least like about heated milk. And now Jim is telling me about what he’s going to do today. He stands in the room in front of me and ticks off all the places he needs to go to today. I keep typing, look at him and keep typing. This is my writing practice. No one knows it’s sacred but me. I try to explain. Other times I’ve been interrupted, and I’ll say, “I’m writing.” Say it fast and look up and raise my right eyebrow, a swift one-movement, the words and the look and the eyebrow, and it usually works. With the girls it works. But with Jim, when we’re under stress, and there’s the moving into the new house, and the replacing of the boiler first, and a new well, and a chimney sweep, and the painting–all of it before we move. Well, it’s hard for Jim to understand that in the eye of the hurricane that is called Moving, I can sit and do a ten-minute practice.

Dee comes in now to show me a rip in her stuffed horse. Mary Christmas. Dee is still a girl, and I tell her I will sew it. When?, she says, and I nod, not trying to come up with a timeframe and keep writing. And now, a moment alone, just me and the sound of a train off in the distance. Me and the sound of the washing machine going into spin cycle. The foo-foo-foo-foo, except faster than I can type it out. It’s Monday morning. I made bacon, burned bacon, gave the dogs five of the pieces along with bacon grease on their food. Bacon food, we call it and we say it like it’s the most special thing they’ve ever had. We say it in a loud whisper, Bacon food, and they wag their tails and ripple their long bodies. I’m dressed, don’t have on make-up, will make it to work by 9. Work through lunch. Search for a day or two I can take off to do the painting. It’s hard fitting in everything my life demands. Much less writing. And I’ve been doing much less writing.

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