Monday, May 30, 2011

First Night Home

Strike the old set!
Replace those earth-clinging trees!
Remove the ocean's breath.
Thin out the paint in the sky.
Tune out General Motors.
Change the scene to:

Hot, dry heat, a plain's sigh.
a windmill creaking and groaning
under the weight of night. Offset
with coyotes howling and an overture
of nocturnal insects. Add the clatter
of a feeder, a bawling calf. I

enter, the extras offstage,
carrying on about harvest and baby Sarah.
I move downstream to face
the horizon, huge and uncluttered.
The stars come on as lights on a stage.
The solo spot, the moon
in its yellowish orange glory,
focuses on me,
and home.

Circa 1980?
Abilene, KS

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Warrior, circa 1979

Your body hugged the wall,
a warrior frozen in effigy.
Sheets like crumpled paper
cover your marbled limbs.
the line
between body and bed separates.
Springs can't hold,
the frame falls apart.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


2nd draft

The Platte's muddy
ribbon, twists,
braids, plaited
with trees that suck
the life, the water,
from the river.

The Divide (a?)
between the Little Blue
and Republican river-
The Land:
Willa's home.

Soybeans, bushy in green,
Corn, majestic tall in a blue bowl sky,
dipping and swaying in a constant prairie wind.
Puddles and pools
where cows come to stand,
circular pivots with dried out corners.
Rolls (rolling) into Kansas.
Prairie carpets:
a land I can shrug on,
implant my feet,
root in blue stem
and buffalo grass.


If I "can't go home
again"- why
do I feel so alive under endless sky?

Winds whip,
and wrap arms
around my body.
Rhizome. Planted
to keep me still,
a voice that wakes me.

my emotions undulate
like the limestone
(dead creatures of forgotten seas)
to break through surface grass?
The ocean underneath the waves.

(Once when I was a child
I held a seashell,
found lying in a Kansas cow pasture.
White as cumulus stacked in the east.
I marveled at its placement
without a present sea.)

I fight
to twist, twine myself
in the grassy earth.
If all I am
is formed by 15,
can the mountains
ever take the place of sky?

Will my skin flake off like chips
of limestone
exposed by the cut of the road?
Are the scars of my life imprinted like fossil shells
in scattered debris of rock?
or fence post crooked on the wind?

I can't be the fence.
I can't be the barb sharp.
the electricity
can not flow.
It should roll,
heaving past
fence lines
while the prairie surges,
swells, fecund,


I am hot wired
to these forsaken farms,
barns silvered gray,
collapsing inward to let the sky
fall in them.

The roads that dwindle to grass,
velutinous over earth.
Dusty toes leave tracks
in the primordial mud,
puddles left from the thunderstorm the night before.
the road of my youth crawled over those familiar hills:
dinosaur hill,
plum valley,
dump hill,
buffalo slough,
snake cellar.


There be monsters hidden in those ancient farm implements.
teeth rusting evil in the afternoon sun.
A neck of a monster
that would chase me if I dared to look him in the eye.
(Just as I dreamed of tornadoes with evil personalities chasing me with intent to kill)

Was it a mother's warning
that instilled fear?
or a father's
admonition to stay clear,
that KEPT
me from the mossy steps in dank the earth
a cellar drear, monsters ....

In the distance
the windmill clangs
as it switches gears,
cows bellow at feeding time
(I remember fetching cows!
"Cum Boss. Cum Boss.")

grassy fragrant rich manure dries:
land minds to avoid in pasture fields.
The cotton woods rustle to whisper their secrets
to me on afternoon breeze.
Meadowlarks whistle my name and bobwhites "killdeer".
a hint of water, mixed with ripening plum.
life on a Kansas Prairie.


After reading Yaku I wanted to try my hand at a Haiku. So this is what I came up with in between reminding students to start with an upper case letter in their sentence, end with a period, and the "y" goes in the basement! Since the students were using information from the book I did too. Students were also being encouraged to use their phonemic spelling. Plus I am trying to establish the habit of looking to the word wall to spell sight words.

I love this book. I found it in one of my Dr.'s offices. It is self-published by his sister and nieces. I think it should be really published and offered to the world! Hey Scholastic!!!!!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bas Relief

Bas Relief

The marble played freeze tag
across the plaza.
The evening breeze brought Greece to mind,
while General Motors lost its way
in Kansas City.

a roller skater on an Olympian run
passed our table. We laughed
a we thought of skates on gravel.

the ice melted in the gin.
Evening fell in among us,
kept us company:
a marbled night in  bas relief.
Conversation froze around us,
marble browned in the cracks,
the ruins enough for me.

circa 1979
For Rick
Vassar Junction

Saturday, May 21, 2011

the Road to Emmaus

No doubt
the scars were there to see.
Today in Words, Always a new,
this hour of bread
to last a life,
an eternal life,

Who needs these eyes?
with me on that friable
dusty road to Emmaus.

Motes rise in the afternoon sun,
cloud my outer eye.
"It was necessary."

I don't have to see the holes,
the water stifles dust,
the inner eye believes
in the bread and wine
Your body and blood.

I can believe without sight.
(turned inward on myself)
I don't need proof
to know the dusty road
always leads to You.

hearts that are burning
(did Moses' heart burn
within at the burning bush?)
at your Word,
Your liturgy is Our
Road to Emmaus.
Where the Victim becomes
the Victor.

Run the race,
to the line.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

More "debris"

I've been going through my old file box of things I wrote in college during the 70's.  My Senior project was writing poetry and Dr. Dan Daniels was my advisor.    Some I read with embarrassment and others I think to myself,

"That's not bad!"

I itch to do some rewriting on them and then I think to myself, "Won't that violate the poem that was created when I was 22?"

  Of course a 54 year old brain is going to want to change it.  So I've decided that I will keep them intact and maybe write a companion poem to go with the original.  22 vs 54 and how I've changed or have I changed?

I found my dedication(?)  page today with the quotes I selected.  I forgot some of them.  But they still stir my soul.

"Good choice Barbara!"

"This has been a pleasant, pleasurable exercise leading to a greater sense of happiness."  

From the original play, "Edna".  Performed at Kansas W. in Salina, KS when I was in high school in the 70's.  It's my David quote and will always bring him to mind.

" Now more than ever it seems rich to die, to cease upon the midnight with no pain..."

from Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats.  I think of Survey of English Lit with Dr. Wroten and of Kris Brown and Mary Green.  It appealed to my "dramatic sense of life".

"I wasted time and now time doth waste me."
Richard II  Shakespeare

Ah Mr. Callison, the little theatre, and acting class.  He had me work on this passage and I have never forgotten it or what it meant to me.

"God dammit this is hell.  But I planned it, I sawed it, and I nailed it, and I'll live in it till it kills me."    Love Song: I and Thou  Alan Dugan

Modern American poetry with Dr. Dan!  Again all the ladies in the poetry classes.  We swooned and sighed.

Good memories and GOOD literature.  Good literature resounds through your whole body and being.  It builds your life up and makes it bearable.  It comforts you when life is too horrible to think about. It takes you places where the world is different from your own.  It lets you  escape.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dennis inspired me with his blog

Dennis, a college classmate from Southwestern, inspired me with his creativity blog.  Dennis played Dudley to my Queen Elizabeth in "Vivat, Vivat Regina.

"We all need that Broadway show we’re in where every day we give it everything we’ve got leaving our souls on the stage for the audience. Everyone has talent of some kind and to fulfill his or her life’s purpose needs to use that talent to deliver insanely great work. Nothing less."  

Love this quote!

The poem in progress....
                                                                   To Be

to be 
on stage
is to strip,
no husk
leaves, silks,
articles of soul.
To toss like so much debris
into the auditorium;
like yarding it to the dump.

A willing sacrifice of self,
this art.
I'll bare it,
bear it,
shuck it
to find that one kernel.

Hold it to the Fresnel,
watch the colors fade,
rise to white light.

The silky strands,
adhere to  aching fingers.
I try to wipe them away.
Some fall,
others cling.

This art of mine
lies composting,
heating up
as I write, write 
to find, to lose, 
to cross out, to start again.

I cannot but help
myself to memories.
 I labor to begin,

To be
on stage,
on paper,
making sense 
of this newly cobbled self
show cased
on a self constructed stage.

To Be.

Earthquake /Tsnami

May 1
The earthquake and resulting tsunami imagery has been showing up in a lot of my writings.  I was fascinated by the language used to describe these events.  Particularly the tsunami that swept a young man away from Crescent City, CA.  His body was found weeks later 300 miles north, washed up on a beach in Astoria, OR.

I was also fascinated by the thought of the debris from Japan making its way to Oregon and then circling back to Japan. ( I did not know there is this huge mass of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean. )   This journey will take 6 years and it will wind up back in Japan.  (And where are the Japanese people going to put all that debris?  back in the ocean?  and how much garbage can our oceans hold?)

This imagery seems appropriate for my life right now and I am still playing around with the language.