Harvest Day

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And just like that, my book arrives on harvest day.

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Welcome to the world, dear book.

Dear house where voice takes flight, dear river that swept me away, dear guide to the unknown.

Welcome to the world, dear poems in the original unspoken.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

And don’t forget, my friends: To make the best applesauce, all you need are the best apples.

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Photos by @seedsandstones aka Erin O’Neill

Alone Under the Apple Tree

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Summer unwinds us to the day my family returns to school. Is that…could it be… quiet I hear?

After a long, fallow summer, my notebooks arrive back on the table. The blank pages are ready for whatever comes next and I hope I am, too. CD Wright: Every year, the poem I most want to write, the poem that would in effect allow me to stop writing , changes shapes, changes directions.  

In other news, I was on local radio and had a lot of fun finding words for what I can hardly speak about: my full-term-about-to-be-born book. Lynn Cline and I had a rich conversation about imagination and the Anthropocene, about fruit years, about belonging, about ancestors and the unborn ones who will come next.

You may listen here, if you like.

If you listen to the podcast while exercising to a muted youtube workout under your apple tree, you’d be a lot like me. Though of course I’m listening to others, not myself.  Obviously, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paying Respect

Toni Morrison

February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

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Last week was luminous in the way the world becomes after a beloved sage passes away and their essence dissolves, expands, and is taken up by the grieving collective. My feeds became a space flooded with brilliance as the words of Toni Morrison filled almost every post.  Homage after homage honored her prophetic voice and legacy. She changed the world with her imagination, enacting a ritual of reckoning and healing that will be rippling out for generations.
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Those ripples are already moving in wide circles, most especially through the poetry community. It is wonderful to witness this moment in poetry, when the collective imagination is so fecund, so necessary, and so very, very well written.
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This month I’ve been buried between the covers of these books. Each one fills me with wonder and admiration.
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  • Jericho Brown’s The Tradition & Camonghne Felix’s Build Yourself a Boat vying for most gorgeous cover ever. Hot on the inside, too. I won’t give anything away except to say that the second I finished each of these I flipped back to the first page to start over again.
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Nicole Sealey’s exquisite Ordinary Beast. Sealey is the mistress of craft.

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Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ Mule & Pear. The poems in this collection are an incredible tribute to Black women writers –and their characters–across the last century. I turned to it immediately after hearing of Morrison’s death for a reminder of how stories sing across time and through dimensions.

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Soft Science by Franny Choi is elegant and devastating and dazzlingly inventive.

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 Museum of the Americas by J. Michael Martinez and Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral are books I often return to, for both the writing and unparalleled vision of the border.

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In their own crystalline way, each of these writers honors Toni Morrison’s famous words:
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
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I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge–even wisdom. Like art.”
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PS, Can you stand how on point the poetry section at Santa Fe Public Library is? 

Between Lightning Bolts

fullsizeoutput_1f18One thing I noticed on this year’s pilgrimage to the Colorado wildflowers was that there are places that have been found by the masses, and places that haven’t. That goes for mosquitoes as much as yuppies.

On this lonesome ponderosa-clad mesa, mountains rolled like green waves around us, rippling out in every direction. Thunder commenced cracking at midnight, and lightning strobed as it must have done on the very night of creation.

We crowded together on the bottom bunk, counting seconds between flashes of light and its answering sound. There is a fruitfulness to silence and the unspoken. I love quiet, unfilled places. I can’t help but notice that in the long absence I took from writing online, a book was born, emerging out of rich, internal soil.

The internet is a little like Colorado. Some parts of it are really noisy. That is probably where my publisher prefers me to be, but I am choosing this backcountry blog as my online home. It is the space where I own (to whatever extent that means on the internet) my own thoughts and images, and where I am unconcerned about likes and followers. I’m not done telling the story I first started spinning a decade ago when I first started writing Old Recipe for a New World, and I want to do it here, away from the crowds.

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We are home now. Fruit hangs heavy on the trees. The last weeks of summer stretch hot and welcome before us. I’ll be here, waiting for the next storm. How I love the hour after a good monsoon–the rain soaked desert, the dissipating ozone from lightning strikes that leave fertile ground in their wake.

 

Midsummer Revival

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Mountain season, lake season, birthday season, river season, monsoon season, Volkswagen season. Season of things sprouting up like squash leaves in the compost, with ideas, dreams, & seeds from the long ago circling back on themselves, re-emerging.

It is amazing what emerges out of long silence. I have new stories to tell, though they are not so unlike the old ones. I have a book soon to arrive in the world, children still unfolding into their fullness, and an imagination still preoccupied with how it is one should live in this world. Perhaps it’s time to re-claim this space in the online wilderness, now so delightfully out of date.

Let’s be old fashioned together, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled Map of the New Year

I spent New Year’s Eve with my table spread in all the year’s ephemera. The paper record of our lives stowed away in a basket and then added to the mighty, heaving scrapbook that has documented our days for ten years.

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Here are a few holiday scraps to add to the Old Recipe archive, also…

Wood and Water. My child! She got tired of the wood tossed in a big pile on the ground, and led the charge to neat and tidy stacked rows. We would have gotten to it, eventually, I’m sure, but…

She is quite handy to have around, this one!

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Feast making. Note to self in times of doubt: yes, it is always worth it to spend a day cooking with your children and mother, to occupy an alternate world in which we are slowly and satisfyingly nourished.

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My other sustenance: Holy Darkness.

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I need more of this.

Ah, there we go.

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I am craving night, especially after reading, by absolute chance, Waking up to the Dark. I really would press this book into each one of your hands if I could. It is lyrical, prophetic, soul stirring.

“What is to become of us? That is the question waiting for us in the the dark.”

–Clark Strand

Meanwhile, in the endless La Niña sunshine, my daughters are making doll quilts.

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And on New Year’s Day we climbed our beloved ridge with dear old friends and found a  spiral overlooking the city.

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At it’s center, we discovered a miniature deck of the Wheel of Fortune.

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We drew cards in a circle, and made a map, of sorts, of our work in the year ahead.

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May Justice see her work done with our hands.

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With each year, and each day, may we rise, and rise up, again!

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To your reading list I would also add Down the Dark Mountain, a gorgeous essay from High Country News about beauty, grief, and ecocide. Do you have any suggestions for me?

 

Summer Drifting

Summer usually asks us to let go and be carried away by our senses. For a brief moment at the height of heat and sunlight, when the rains arrive and flowers begin to crowd the garden, I surrender. I put aside my work, my attachment to order and structure, and let myself drift.

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It always feels strange–I don’t easily let go. It’s usually only when the wheel of the year is steadily turning, turning, and I can sense the passage of one season into the next that I realize it’s okay to belong to it completely. I can see that surrender is fleeting, and precious, and won’t take me too far off course.

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Maybe the four day river trip we just took, floating down the wilderness section of the Rio Chama helped me see all this. To have the outer world mirror the inner always helps with navigating life.

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We moved slowly through the day, carried by the river but trying not to move too quickly through the canyon. When the water grew still, we lifted the oars to spin and take in the view, to drift on flat water. We navigated the rapids and sleepers when they came. The girls chanted “It’s not over yet!” as we splashed through white water. Come afternoon, we tied the boat up when we arrived at a place that felt like home. IMG_4238

We’ve spent our share of time on the spectacular lower sections of this river, day tripping and camping and floating with improper gear. But I’ve always known there was something further up, inaccessible and out of sight. And I’ve been thirsty for it for a long time.

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(Pause in which the blogger wonders what inner journey that longing and arrival correlates to.)

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Turns out it takes years to gear up for the river with a Vanagon era (and size) boat. But while I’ve been busy with poems, someone around here had a vision and spent weeks repairing and preparing, arranging permits, amassing an impressive collection of straps, and learning to drive the boat.

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We skipped the dinosaur footprint, the side hikes. Despite my pre-launch jitters, nobody was bitten by snakes, or swept away by the river. More and more, I need to choose trust in the goodness of the world over my fear of what harm it could bring. Running this river was like learning to float for the first time. I was surprised at how much work it takes to stop working and how good it feels when you do.

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Sometimes, we travel the farthest when not moving.

Sweet summer drifting, friends. Let go while you can!

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Ps: A couple of my poems landed on sweet shores and are part of a folio, “Sacred Americas,” from Anomaly (formerly Drunken Boat).  The editor writes, “And don’t you know that the world has been remade, again and again?…This remaking is what I call the sacred.” These poems are medicine for our times.