To Grandmama (1929-2014)

A few evenings ago, somewhere in the Bridger Mountains of Montana:

A wind sweeps gently through the aspen leaves,
the sound soothing, the fluttering soft,
then suddenly crescendos into an almighty rush
as the air surges through untold leaves,
shimmering and dancing like flames.

Higher up the mountain, the rut calls of the elk herd echo
beneath the swaying lodgepole pines,
deep, resonant roars followed by high pitched bugling.
A blue jay perches on a wooden post nearby, alternately rattling and chirping
as two bobcats dart across the path a few hundred feet away.

It is breathtaking,
and I turn the warmth in my heart toward the sky.

Native American legend has it that in these majestic moments
when you’re filled with the wonder of something larger than yourself,
it’s your ancestors reassuring you that they are far from gone.

It could have been you and I hope that it was,

because I could feel the soft touch of your hands tickling my neck as a little girl,
and inhale the sweet scent of gardenia as you held me when I needed to remember what unconditional meant,
and hear the contagious trill of your giggle that sent us both into gasping, shrieking fits of laughter.

It could have been you, and I hope that it was,
because you would love these yawning hills,
the flux of autumn yellows spreading across the valleys,
murmuring streams mingling with the soft susurrus of sighing branches.

It’s peaceful, and the life-giving spiritual world about me
is reassurance that you are near,
in the joy for life I’ve inherited, in my memories, in my heart…
Until our paths cross again.

Grandmama

BOOMA art show – 1/17/2015

Last weekend in Livingston, Montana, I participated in a text/collaborative art show.

I was given a photograph, and then I wrote a poem based on that photo. Then I passed on my poem to two dancers, and they choreographed a dance which then played at the show. And so and so on.

 

Here is the photo by Bozeman based photographer Dan Armstrong:

 

A_Drop_In_The_Universe_DA

 

Here is the poem I wrote based on his photo:

 

Coordinates

              I intended to travel alone,
         but the mind is that clingy companion,
         impartial to longitudes and latitudes,
              unwilling to be left behind.
        So, it’s one foot in front of the other
                 down eroded alleyways,
               along picturesque trails,
                     squeezing you
                          out
              with a frenzy of new images

followed by warm exchanges with the passerby- we all insist on being perfectly present (not reflecting on what we said
and didn’t say, did and didn’t do).

But when the darkness takes over,
issuing stars into the night sky,
your absence seeps in like a carnivorous vapor:

seething particles consume my mouth, until smiling burns,
and my eyes,
until the tears come (and they do), even my ears!

until endless chatter aches as much as endless quiet,

devouring my skin so slowly and methodically until eventually,
I don’t recognize myself.

By ‘your absence’, I mean the way you come into my
world everyday
without...being...here.

 

And here is the dance that two ladies did based on my poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R79d7F-vWPk&feature=youtu.be

Excerpts from the coffeehouse #6

A troop walks into the coffee house. Mom’s haggard, kids dangling from hips and hands amidst diaper bags and scarves. Right away, you know she rounded everyone into the car by saying, “how about we stop for hot chocolate on our way?” and then no one forgot about the suggestion as hoped, so now they’re here waiting in line. And by waiting, I don’t mean waiting at all. There are four little heads bobbing around, eyes peering from behind articles of her winter garb, hands “organizing” the pile of chocolates for sale, arms reaching up to the counter to show her what kind of scone they “need, mama!” 

She can’t be older than I. Our eyes meet as one of her bundled units wanders in my direction. I’m leisurely sipping an almond milk latte while tapping away at my laptop. It’s ridiculous how comfy I am, and I decide to scatter my pile of notebooks beside me. There, now we’re both frazzled. 

Her little boy (I’d say 5, give or take 2 years – I can never tell) has spotted the bookshelf next to my table, and he’s pulling books out, one by one and stacking them on the floor, naturally. His mom is now ordering with her back practically to the barista so her baby can’t get to the biscotti. 

“I like what you’re doing with the bookshelf.” I say. 

I’ve surprised him and he freezes. So I continue. 

“There are a lot of books to choose from and it helps to get a good look at all of them.” 

He looks at me and continues slowly pulling book by book out off the shelf and onto his pile not the floor. 

“I’m um, I’m …um” he starts, realizing with excitement that he has my undivided attention and thus totally loses his train of thought. “I’m…my, um, um, I’m…UM” he’s kind of gasping and looks at me. We both recognize that one of us will probably need to pick up the communication slack here, so I jump in. 

“Are you choosing a book to read?” 

“Yeah!” Now we’re off to the races. He tells me in one breathless surge about the book his mom reads to him at night but sometimes he reads some of the words too! And he loves polar bears because they stay warm when it’s cold (hugs himself and jumps up and down) and it’s Christmas soon and he gets HOT CHOCOLATE WITH WHIPPED CREAM today because his mom said so (I was right!) then he whispers something about getting in trouble yesterday because he gave the dog a… he trails off, realizing the joyful dialogue has taken a somber turn. 

“Wow, you have so much good stuff going on!” I say, impressed. “So…what happened with your dog?”

He shrinks a little and scrunches his face. “He threw up. On the carpet. In my mom’s room. And she was really mad. The dog’s not supposed to throw up. He ate meatloaf. Bad dog.”

“Oh, I see.” I like this kid a lot. “How come he decided to eat meatloaf?”

He sighs at the bad choices of his dog. 

“Well, just because. And also, because he likes it,” he explains. “And because I shared mine. Mom likes it when I share because sometimes we have too much and someone else needs some of it.” 

He beams at the good thing he did, then runs back to claim his hot chocolate, even though it’s too hot and he and his mom agree to hold the cup together. 

yoga in LA, like, this one time

Dressing room in yoga…

Girl: I go to Thailand every year just to sit in a cave and pray.

Other girl: oh my god! That’s like “Eat, pray, love!” *sigh*

Girl: Well, yeah…except, like, I don’t eat. I just do a juice fast and get colonics every day. It’s so raw and REAL.

spare change

She asked me for spare change and I said no not today. She glared and said you get what you give and I looked at her angry eyes and agreed.

Jack. The man.

“…they danced down the street like dingledodies and I shambled after as usual as I’ve been doing all my life after people that interest me, because the only people that interest me are the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing… but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night.”

~Jack Kerouac, ON THE ROAD: The Original Scroll

charmed in Missoula, MT

I jogged past an elderly man and waved because it was early on a Monday morning and we were both enjoying the fresh air. He yelled “WHORE!” Happy Monday.

young love

At the airport. A little girl about 4 years old walks up to a boy her height in line, and unzips her sweatshirt to reveal the SAME Batman t-shirt that he is wearing. They stare at each other, then alternately grin and scowl, until she finally runs away. He steps out of line, watches her for a moment, then screams, “COME BACK BATGIRL!”

Excerpts from the coffeehouse #5

Coffee shop. In line. Toddler looks up at me. I look down at her, and feel giant so I squat to her height. She grins and touches the tattoo on my wrist with one small fingertip. Then she slowly lifts her tank top and points that same tiny finger at a fading heart “tattoo” on her protruding belly, beaming. Absolutely beaming.

let this knowledge settle into your bones…

One of my best friends in the all the world sent this to me this morning and it was perfect. Thought I would share and I hope it’s perfect for one or two of you good people:

There comes a time in your life when you walk away from all the drama and the people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you well, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.

Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.