Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dear October,
Three days gone and already I miss you. You sent so many letters and surprising enclosures. You are my favorite mail carrier, sender of leaf and the crisp page. Do you see my notes of gratitude roosting on the line waiting for the perfect postal wind?

Your generous days offered me a plethora of lucky numbers. 4 was the Love-day under my pergola, a story-slam of vows with mints and buttery kisses all around. There was absolutely no kind of bluster.  Thanks for that, plus the picture light.  

Oh, October, I know you are connected to the eternal eight, but for Ghost Ranch you were right to send me nine.  
Dear Past, Dear Future was shuttled into a rec room made for younger folk, but we stole pillows and found and took our comfort slow. By day 3 we’d kicked off our shoes, unfolded ourselves, and became no small ordinary envelopes. We wrote to the living and the dead and maybe to the threshold spirits in between. We were letter boxes opened and gently riffled through.

Thank you, October, for the blood red moon, the matrimonial trail, for the rain and umbrellas and for those beneath them. Thanks for Aunt Irene, for the Inuit Inuksuk inspiration, for the Guthrie girl, for dear Brett.  Thanks for Willa and her desert sister surrogate. I loved Stanley Kunitz and his dancing partner.  Also, thanks for the big heart with her big pockets, and for all the brave asking. What is a letter if not an act of faith.  
Say, could you please look after any letter poems hidden under rocks? Ask November to deliver them if they languish in the sage.

October, you did not leave me much to long for except, of course, more. Please come again, and wear that gorgeous mesa gown. We’ll be ever grateful.

Yours, forever newly older,


Sunday, August 17, 2014

What the Owl Knows: Workshop in the Lyric Poem

Report from Creative Arts Week, 2014, with gratitude to my fellow writers, colleagues, and friends.

Ghost Ranch can be a bit short on creature comforts unless you are a rabbit, lizard, crow or burro. We compensate with luxury of view: mesa, juniper, chimney rock.
We make do with combustible creativity and hot tea, and stories, and a shared blanket if the sofa seat’s too hard. We feed each other. We take liberties. We swat mosquitoes where they land.

The Ghost House Poets had their matching owl socks, and like the owl they were wise to each other’s new writing, listening and questioning, opening and closing. In class, they indulged my assignments, drafting spontaneous work that lifted aloft those little paper exercises into double-fisted kites. I was constantly surprised. Once I thought: what a good teacher I am. Pedernal nearly fell down laughing. Burros brayed. Okay, maybe I was just happy to be in the company of poets making poems.

This group of five (plus all their alter egos and wild personas) mostly played in the afternoons but worked into the night willing to be discomfited, lost, pissed off, confused, or ghosted before they got to the dream state we call inspiration. When I saw them at breakfast, I could tell.

Together, they answered the unbidden call. They let fear into their poems. One gave us a tango demonstration. One sang a haunting song. We threw the dice. We took our numbers to the page and made them beautiful.

 Woody Guthrie came one day. We rewrote the medicine cards. We gave each other lines. We broke them how we wanted. What a class. Really, what a tonic. Who says there are few creature comforts at the Ranch.