The Call

A loud scree of a Red-tailed Hawk
fills the air. The sharp cry breaks
through a quiet afternoon

like an intonation of sacred bells
when we are summoned to be
alert. This scree soon dies down

to a softer remnant until only echoes
of it like an earworm of song remain.
Sounds awaken us—place us with our

feet on the ground, mind in the same
spot, a brief respite from busy thoughts,
it’s our North Star in finding peace.


This poem was published in the Methow Arts Alliance Quarterly Guide to the Arts in the Methow Valley for Winter 2017-18.

Back from a break, wrist fracture in fact.

I was humbled by the size of the audience I had for my reading from Resting in the Familiar at Village Books April 29 at 4:00 PM, How wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the audiences, although I wish I would have had time to visit with so many.  Thank you all for coming.

The visit to the Methow by Paul Nelson, Judy Kleinberg and Luther Allen on May 10 to give a workshop in Twisp on Glover Street at Rod Reagent’s studio and May 11 was a success.  We had several people who were interested in trying something new.  The next evening readings by them, our past Washington State Poet Laureate, Tod Marshall, along with Confluence Poets: Sam Owen, Subhaga Crystal Bacon, Alana Blusol and myself at Trail’s End Bookstore in Winthrop received a letter to the editor of the Methow Valley News  with high praise for the poetry.

 

Bloom

—In response to Childe Hassam’s “Twenty-Six of June, Old Lyme.”  1912

When the peonies bloom I will revel
in their elegance and wear my Chinese silks
light and free.  When the peonies bloom
I will fill all the vases with them
so their scent permeates every room
delighting you and me.  When the peonies
bloom, we will know winter is over
along with its darkening gloom.

Ah, the great day that it is, the day
the peonies bloom.

 

 

This poem is also a product of August Postcard Poetry.  I’m posting it this second day of March with snow falling steadily the past two days making me feel as if I live in a snow globe being constantly shaken.  In some areas it is too warm for the snow to amount to much, at higher elevations it’s getting deeper.  This time of year putting on several layers of clothing, the lightness of wearing Chinese silks only is a long way off.

Benjamin Carl Cary

We can still sit at Carl’s table,
that table with great stout legs
beautifully turned meeting
heavy planking—
floorboards from a cannery
in Craig, Alaska.
Michael Strong built the table
33″ x 73″
with gentle curves gracing the ends.
You could dance upon this table
a cancan or a Tango.
Smooth to touch, the honeyed wood
draws you to it.

We can still sit at Carl’s table,
this is where
he wrote: poetry
letters to friends
worked crossword puzzles
paid his bills
mesmerized guests as he would
stride about in heavy boots
a drink cupped in his hand
curled in close to his chest.
He might sing an aria
recite lines of poetry
or plays he performed in,
animated, telling stories
the timbre of his voice
unique
like him.

The table always had a vase
of fresh cut flowers, candles too,
books and papers in drifts.
I remember small black and white
photographs spread out there one day,
images of his youth,
those early years on San Juan Island.
The table supported all that and more:
his hand slapping down on it
punctuating his raucous laugh.

Seated there he ordered the seeds
and bulbs and shrubs for his gardens:
the tulips, gladiolus, iris and daffodils,
the azaleas, rhododendrons,
the calendula he loved
celebrated in one of his poems:
Impromptu #8,
“I fill the jars with orange calendula.”

We can still sit at Carl’s table
and until it is carried away
by strangers, it will always be
Carl’s table
one of a kind
unmatched
his leit motif.

In remembrance of Carl, March 22, 1929 – May 1, 1992. We were in the play “The Dining Room” together, and Carl was always entertaining on stage or off.  He had an amazing art collection of Northwest greats, and a collection of Native American baskets.  He also loved his gardens, and I will never forget his 21st Street house in Bellingham when all of his tulips were in bloom.  This poem was published in “Talk” many years back.

 

 

Crows

She said
seeing seven crows
together was a sign
a bad omen
forecasting death.
She said
her mother told her this
when she was very young,
mothers sometimes do that,
pass on superstitions
mine is Irish so I know.
Whenever I see crows
I try not to count
their number
plus,
I’ve thought of
qualifications
I feel certain
her mother told her
to fulfill the sign:
the seven crows
must all be standing
on one leg
all looking to the right
beaks open wide
in unison cawing,
sometimes little girls
are really very busy
they don’t always listen.

This is poem was published in Jeopardy in 1993 and included in “Talk” my chapbook, and responded to by three artists in the Methow Valley for the Confluence Gallery exhibit Visions of Verse.  This exhibit in 2013/2014 was the brain child of poet Linda M. Robertson, with then gallery director Nicole Ringgold, a call for writers was put out and 200 submissions were received.  Seventeen artists and seventeen poets were selected and the artists created work in response to poems they selected.  A chapbook of both poetry and artwork was created in addition to an evening reading by the poets.  It was an amazing exhibit and experience and one I hope will be done again.

 

 

Lathyrus Odoratus

to grow sweet peas
is to plan
preparing the bed
sowing the seed
stringing up net
or twine for vines
to grow sweet peas
is to think ahead
and lust
for a sweet scent
and delicate
beauty
if ever you receive
a bouquet
of sweet peas
thank the giver
profusely
from the bottom
of your heart
for certainly
they have borne
to you
a precious
gift

This poem was originally published in my chapbook “Talk” and expresses how I feel about receiving a bouquet of these exquisite flowers.   If you grow them and need to get rid of some I have plenty of vases to put them in.

Crows and the Pear Tree

Crows dive bomb the pear tree
knock fruit to the ground
descend upon it—
peck the fallen delicacies
with gusto— slurping, devouring—
leave only hollowed skins
limp and weeping on the grass.

We applaud their diligence
the industry of their harvesting,
while we are busily packing boxes
preparing to move, a wearying task.

Watching crows gives me reason
to pause, and I think of them writing
accounts of their feasting
in crow journals late at night—
of pear juice dripping down
their chins.

This unpublished poem was written as we were packing up our Eldridge Avenue home in Bellingham preparing to move to Twisp.  The hollowed out pears were a sight to see, and finished off by yellow jackets.