Friday, September 12, 2014

Poetry Friday: Josephine Jacobsen, A Poet's Poet.

[Quick note: Don't miss Sylvia Vardell's wonderful article w/ teacher resources about poetry and social justice.]

For my Poetry Friday contribution, I hope you'll head over to Numero Cinq, which has just published my essay about the marvelous and woefully undersung poet, Josephine Jacobsen. In the essay I take a close look at three of her poems, and I consider the fate -in general - of "a poet's poet," which Jacobsen was.  To entice you over to Numero Cinq, I offer here the first two stanzas from her beautiful poem, "Of Pairs" :

The mockingbirds, that pair, arrive
one, and the other; glossily perch
respond, respond, branch to branch.
One stops and flies. The other flies.
Arrives, dips, in a blur of wings,
lights, is joined. Sings. Sings.

Actually, there are birds galore:
bowlegged blackbirds, brassy as crows;
elegant ibises with inelegant cows;
hummingbirds' stutter on air;
tilted over the sea, a man-of-war
in a long arc without a feather's stir.

[read the rest over at Numero Cinq.]
For the Poetry Friday round-up, head over to lovely Renee La Tulippe's NO WATER RIVER.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Poetry Friday: Using All Six Senses in Oaxaca

It's my turn to post over at Books Around the Table, the blog I co-write with my critique group (Laura Kvasnosky, Julie Paschkis, Margaret Chodos-Irvine, and Bonny Becker) so I'm sharing some thoughts about my upcoming trip to Oaxaca and about using all the senses to write. You can use this link to head there and read the whole post. Here on the Drift Record, I'll just show you some of the photos, and in honor of Poetry Friday I'll toss in a small poem of mine that Jama Rattigan once shared with readers over Alphabet Soup. It was written about the market in a town called Tepoztlan. Oaxacan markets have a charm all their own. Don't miss the link at the bottom to a very special church organ in the little village of Tlacochahuaya.


Black avocados, yellow mangos,
bowls of menudo to start the day.
Tall, cold glass of fresh horchata,
green papayas, pink mamey,
pork pozole, pumpkin seeds,
chiltepines, round and red,
coconut juice and golden guavas,
then the different names for bread:
little shell and little piglet,
little ear and little horn,
now a cup of spiced hot chocolate,
sweet tamal with cream and corn,
lime paletas, piloncillo,
guava jelly, caramel flan,
herbal tisanes, magic powders:
Market Day in Tepoztlan.

 To hear the wonderful antique organ of the Templo in Tlacochahuaya, click here.


The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted today by Jone at Check It Out. Head over there to see what other people have posted. 
And don't miss the latest installment of Sylvia Vardell's Poet to Poet series - this time around, I get to ask the questions, and Skila Brown answers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Poetry Friday: All Moon-mad, Again

Lots of family obligations lately, which means not much writing time. But even when life is busy, there is time to go out and gaze at the moon -- especially when it's a "super moon." How beautiful was that last one? Answer: VERY BEAUTIFUL.

In honor of my seasonal moon madness,  I offer up this poem by Carl Sandburg. It doesn't have the formal inventiveness I usually like -- but I love the boy with the accordion, I love the old man and the cherry trees, and most of  all I love the fact that it is, at heart, all summer and all moon.

Happy Poetry Friday! Only a few more weeks of summer left - make the most of them.

Back Yard 

Shine on, O moon of summer. 
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,  
All silver under your rain to-night.  

An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.  
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
    to-night they are throwing you kisses.
An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
     cherry tree in his back yard. 
The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
     white thoughts you rain down. 
     Shine on, O moon, 
Shake out more and more silver changes.

                                                  --Carl Sandburg 

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Irene Latham over at Live Your Poem. Head over there to see what other people have posted. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Poetry Friday: A Holler, Not a Smile

Today's the 4th of July! 

When I was a kid I said "Today's the 4th of July" with a mix of delight and terror. I knew the day would be loud, it would be beautiful, it would be a little out of control, and it would ride roughshod over all those polite holidays like Easter, the day of white gloves, white patent leather shoes, white purse, white hat. The 4th of July was all about shorts, bare feet, sunburn, skin that tasted like salt if I licked it - which I did - and somewhere in the distance, cherry bombs and bottle rockets going off.  Easter was a sugary smile, the 4th of July was a holler.

It was also my grandfather's birthday. Walter Vane Wagner, married to my grandmother for more than sixty years. He tattooed a couple of his knuckles --- a spider and a butterfly ---- with a sharp pen knife and some ink when he was a teenager back in the late 1910's - and when I sat on his lap as a kid, I would make him show them to me. He was a man too thin for his name, so everyone just called him "Skinny" --- if it hadn't been for a good set of suspenders, his pants would have been down around his knees each day. He worked his whole life as a lumberjack for the Weyerhaeuser Co., back when trees were big

When we all got together for our 4th of July picnics, it was my grandfather who was the center of attention rather than anything as abstract as America. He was one of those complicated men who made it through the Great Depression on pure grit and willpower, and he wasn't sweet - my grandmother, Mary Alice, took those honors. Gramp was...what was he? For me, he was a combination, of fascinating, scary and magnetic. He smoked - in fact, he was the only smoker in our big, extended family - and from a young age I associated cigarettes with long, lean men of the Wild West. My grandfather beat Marlboro cigarettes to the punch on that. Now my grandfather's great-grandson - my youngest son, Mike - has a tattoo of a tree all the way up his arm from wrist to elbow. My eldest son, Josh, has a tattoo of Mt. Rainier at sunrise. Both are gentle souls. Neither one smokes.

Skinny, Mary Alice, my Aunt Gloria (who was called Gee) and my cousins Randy and Colleen, my dad John, my mom Lorene, (everyone called her Peach) and the three of us - Johnny, Mary, me - on the beach for the 4th of July: When I close my eyes, I can still see it, smell it, taste it. Later, my own kids got added into the scene - Josh and Mike and my daughter, Mary, always the bravest of the bunch, turning over rocks to discover crabs, or swimming with her Aunt Mary and her Great-Aunt Gloria in the freezing water of Puget Sound.

Gad, I loved those warm days and those picnics, sharing laughs, sharing food. There were always hot dogs cooked on sticks over a beach fire, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, dill pickles, olives, maybe some A&W root beer to wash it down, always plenty of coffee in heavy, glass-lined thermoses, strawberry shortcake to round it all out. Gramp - Skinny - could out-eat everyone.

As the dark came on, there were boxes of sparklers - we would run across the grass creating trails of light, or sail lit sparklers out onto the saltwater, stuck straight up into big driftwood logs. When I was a kid "the beach" was in front of the cabin my grandmother's parents built on Elger Bay, half way down Camano Island. During the years my family lived in California, we substituted the fireworks at Spartan Stadium in San Jose for the beach, but it wasn't the same. Eventually, we all moved back - first my husband and me, then my mom and dad, then my brother and his family, then my sister. Once we were back in the Northwest, the beach became Rosario Beach on Whidbey Island, home now to the Maiden of Deception Pass.

And for the years my parents had their own home on Whidbey Island's Penn Cove, we had our picnics there in front of the house.

It seems we stayed out from dawn (sunlight coming up over the Cascade mountains) to dark (sun going down behind the Olympic mountains.) The day would end with s'mores around a beach fire and all of us getting sleepy staring at the embers.

Since it's Poetry Friday, I'm going to post the lyrics for America the Beautiful. Whenever I hear this song, it un-glues me. But I don't think of this country the way I thought of it when I was little.

America the Beautiful: a holler rather than a smile. A little out of control. Not always sweet. Magnetic but scary. Riding roughshod. Yes, we have spacious skies and purple mountains' majesty, but just like the 4th of July, in America there always seems to be the sound of something exploding in the distance.

Happy 4th of July, everybody.
If you're interested in seeing what other people have posted for Poetry Friday, head over to Heidi Mordhurst's My Juicy Little Universe. You'll find the round-up there. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Portrait of a Pig by Jamie Wyeth
 Well, it's not quite Poetry Friday, but I'm going to write this up early (Wednesday) and schedule it to post on Friday. I'm headed down to Eugene, Oregon, for a few days - who knows whether I'll have time to post it later.  My daughter and her husband are going to run there in the Dirty Dash (mud at the home stretch) and my seven-year-old grandson is running in the Piglet Plunge. A muddy time is guaranteed for all, photos are sure to follow. In honor of all things piggy - and hoggish -  I offer up this original poem for your reading pleasure.


It’s true, I grunt. I’m low. I lurk.
I roll in mud. I muck about. 
When dinner comes, no matter what,
I scarf it up and soil my snout
and gulp with such abandon that
my cousin pigsters get left out.
Ferocious Me!  That’s who I am –
I nip the runts and make them shout,
“O, Rotund One! O, Royal Swine!
You are the barnyard’s Master Lout.
We’re curly-tailed and pink and squealy,
but you are the Porcine King, no doubt! “
Quite right! Quite right!  I understand
what being a Hog is all about! 

I think Jamie Wyeth, whose "Portrait of a Pig" heads up this post, painted the swiney guy I was thinking of. Here's a bit of trivia: The real-life subject of this painting ate seventeen tubes of the artist's paint while no one was looking. O, Rotund One!