23 July 2009

twitter poetry

Here are the Twitters that came out of a whole lot of hours driving in a car full of sleeping children. It might be a new genre of poem.

Road trip

The lake below Multnomah Falls is still. Deer at the edge stand in their reflections.

There's brown pelicans in the Columbia on a sandbar near Biggs.

Rock sheep on the cliffs near Philippi.

And windmill farms outside of Arlington.

Just past the Bradock Slough and there are fields of Black Angus and a row of white bee boxes.

Lake Bob.

Horses spook near Cement Plant Rd. A palamino bucks. The running herd turns in the field like birds.

I think it was a deer in the sagebrush with its elegant neck and ears like cupped palms.

The Ontario OreIda plant belches rings of white steam. Wonderland Caterpillar of Potato. I'm just a girl, I answer.

Corn. Corn. Wheat. Corn. Potatoes.

Boise. We wave our hands out the window to my friend Justin Larson. Of course he sees us.


Kristen says the sky is always the same dome but I think it reaches further down here. Down to the curve of the earth.

Four days later. The sun rises over Brigham City. Leaving Utah.

There's cows and sagebrush at Sweetzer Summit. And sun over the East hills.

Something you don't see at home: billboard of close-up dairy cow udders. Jerome, Idaho.

There are windmills at the 45th Parallel. Must be windy halfway between the North Pole and Equator.

The first time Becca saw the Columbia at Umatilla, she said, "That's not a river! It's a lake." Only the R's and L's were W's and she was 3.

Everything green.



12 July 2009

one bird at a time

A couple years ago, Joanna Rose and Stevan Allred reviewed some of my stories and offered practical direction and some needed encouragement. Given my own evaluation, I discourage myself to the extreme. I told them, "I quit every day."

Joanna gave me advice from Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird: write it "one bird at a time."

I am stuck in the third and final section of my novel, baffled by some plot movement and my inability to get what is in my head out on paper. This one has been going around and around for the past month. With my August deadline just ahead, frustration is my muse.

Outside the open window, three Mourning doves chase each other to and from the corners of the yard and up to the rooftop. A competitive threesome. For territory? Mating ritual? Play? The whirring mutter of their wings reminds me of old-school sci-fi alien spaceships. Earlier, a black-headed Junco fed seed from the patio to a peeping juvenile. And the brilliant yellow goldfinches have been all day on the thistle feeder, undisturbed even by the antics of the doves.

A light rain begins. Silver drops collect and hang from the branches of the rhododendron. I am content to make another loop through this chapter. One page. One raindrop. One bird at a time.


27 June 2009


I have heroes. They are someone to grow up to be like. Someone who inspires uniqueness. Motivates growth. Presses on my resistance to change. Offers hope in my most private, pre-dawn moments of despair.

In my list, they should probably be separated into categories - fictional and real. The fluctuating distance between dreams and reality.

My fictional heroes are so most likely because of some aspect of their character that I admire, covet or am simply amazed by. And perhaps it is the reality of their character that makes them heroes.

"You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can't remember your last name. Your kids don't want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy."
(John McClane - Live Free or Die Hard)

"Micro changes in air density, my ass."
(Ellen Ripley - Alien)

"He was paraphrasin' Nietsche, ya illiterate midget."
(Logan - Wolverine 35)

They become recognizable out of their creator's ability to carry forward the profound human essence, perhaps of someone nearby or influential: lover, grandfather, next-door neighbor.

"We're alike. I, too, believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in his life. I was twenty when they said a woman couldn't swim the Channel. You're twelve; you think a horse of yours can win the Grand National. Your dream has come early; but remember, Velvet, it will have to last you all the rest of your life."
(Mrs. Brown - National Velvet)

"Well, you can tell me now. I'm reasonably sober."
(Rick Blaine - Casablanca)

Once in a great while, I find real heroes, those living, breathing humans with heroic accomplishments or some monumental legacy of change or goodness. Or perhaps just people who have done something quite ordinary for whom I hold enduring respect and adoration.

"The thing about rights is that in the end you can't prove what should be considered a right."
(Dr. Paul Farmer)

I heard the Dalai Lama speak in Seattle at the Key Arena last spring. (see my earlier post)

Raymond Carver first inspired me to write at all.

"There isn't enough of anything
as long as we live. But at intervals
a sweetness appears and, given a chance
(Raymond Carver - Ultramarine)

Young Flannery O'Connor age 2 or 3Flannery O'Connor prompted me to write the stories in my head no matter how quirky or bizarre. I discovered a recording of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and joy welled up in my chest at the sound of her voice. (Listen to it from this playlist)

"My own approach to literary problems is very like the one Dr. Johnson’s blind housekeeper used when she poured tea–she put her finger inside the cup."
(Flannery O'Connor - Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction)

There's a much longer list, and I suppose there's always room for one more.

It's still early.