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Temple

It’s not because anything special happened.

Though I’ve sat in silence in desert canyons

and climbed iron rungs on overhanging cliffs

and sung in cathedrals and sung in snow caves

and hiked naked through juniper and

washed dishes in inner city shelters

and wandered the cobblestones of ancient villages,

today, sitting on the couch in my own house,

I finally understood with my whole body

how life puts us in the places we need to grow.

And so I made tea. And sat a while longer

with the windows open, listening to my longing

as it wove with the sound of the sprinklers and the oven fan

and I said to the moment, what do you ask of me?

One Journey

this crumb trail of syllables

worthy of decade-long explorations—

your name

Good Morning, Stranger

Some mornings when I wake,

it’s as if I have entered someone else’s life

wearing someone else’s dress

and someone else’s socks

and try as I might,

I can’t seem to find myself inside them,

can’t seem to get them off of me.

I read a book in which a woman’s lover

tears off her clothes with his teeth.

I’d be grateful for the help, of course,

but what if I discovered more layers—

what if my skin had to go, too?

And what after that?

How long can I move through the world

as if I’m a stranger to myself?

How long can I pretend not to know

this is the only life I’m given?

This skin, mine. This body,

with its trillions of cells,

the only body I get.

This day with its unfamiliar dress,

the only day.

Looking in the mirror,

I see what I always see—

someone I almost recognize,

someone I sometimes

feel ready to meet.

One Marvel

after Issa

common as morning

this love and yet

and yet

One Endless Supply

slipping again

out of those same dog eared thoughts

faded rose petals

Tonight Is a Torn Map

Tonight Is a Torn Map

Tonight is a torn map

and the woman

is a would-be voyager.

Once, she believed

there was a path.

Now, she believes

there are many.

Sitting still

beside the river,

she notices

the urge to rise,

notices when

the urge has passed.

Notices it rise again.

Being still

is one of the hardest

paths of all.

All around her

the world is moving—

gurgling, waving,

weaving, crawling,

climbing, winging, falling,

eroding. And in her,

more movement

than she dares to admit—

not just mudslides,

tectonic shifts—

every day the landscapes

change. Every day

the inner map she drew

looks less like what’s

really there.

It was no mistake

when it ripped.

Stubborn Praise:

An evening celebrating here and now through poetry

with hosts Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and James Crews

and special guest

Alison Luterman

August 10, 5 pm (PDT), 6 p.m (MDT), 7 p.m. (CDT), 8 p.m (EDT)

Free, but you need to register for this webinar here: Zoom

Every second Monday of the month, invite yourself to an evening of poetry that wholly meets the moment, its losses and fears, and helps us also to see small kindnesses, stubborn blessings, and renegade beauty. After the readings will be conversation harvested from questions and comments in Zoom chat. Though unlimited people may register, space is limited to 100, so be sure to show up on time!

This month’s guest is Alison Luterman, celebrating her newest collection of poems, In the Time of Great Fires, which won the Catamaran Poetry Prize.

Her previous books of poetry are The Largest Possible Life; See How We Almost Fly; Desire Zoo. Her poems and stories have appeared in The Sun, Rattle, Salon, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, The Atlanta Review, Tattoo Highway, and elsewhere. She has written an e-book of personal essays, Feral City, half a dozen plays, a song cycle We Are Not Afraid of the Dark, as well as two musicals, The Chain and The Shyest Witch.

Alison performs with the Oakland-based improvisation troupe Wing It! and has given writing workshops all over the country, including at Omega and Esalen Institutes. She teaches memoir at The Writing Salon in Berkeley, and is available for private coaching in writing or creativity, both in-person or on-line.

This free event is hosted by SHYFT at Mile High, whose mission is to provide all people, regardless of ability to pay, with classes and programs proven to reduce stress, heal trauma, and create connection.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer lives in Placerville, Colorado, on the banks of the San Miguel River. She served as San Miguel County’s first poet laureate and as Western Slope Poet Laureate. She teaches poetry for addiction recovery programs, hospice, mindfulness retreats, scientists, women’s retreats, teachers and private students. She believes in the power of practice and has been writing a poem a day since 2006. She has 12 collections of poetry, and her work has appeared in O Magazine and on A Prairie Home Companion. Her most recent collection, Hush, won the Halcyon Prize, and Naked for Tea, was a finalist for the Able Music Book Award. She is the co-host of Emerging Form, a podcast on creative process, and co-founder of Secret Agents of Change, a group devoted to surreptitious acts of kindness. One-word mantra: Adjust

James Crews work has appeared in Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic, as well as on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry newspaper column. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Writing & Literature from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The author of three collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays (Prairie Schooner Prize and Foreword Book of the Year Citation, 2011), Telling My Father (Cowles Prize, 2017), and Bluebird, Crews is also editor of Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection. He leads Mindfulness & Writing workshops and retreats throughout the country and works as a writing coach with groups and individuals. He lives with his husband, Brad Peacock, in Shaftsbury, Vermont.

It Just Might Happen

Everywhere I go, I find them—

people who bring love to the world.

Reading the headlines,

I sometimes think love is dead

and humans are brutes

and we may as well all give up.

But every time I leave home,

I meet pedestrians who wave

and women who give understanding nods,

and men who offer to pay when the person

in front of them is short a few bucks.

People hold doors for each other with a smile

and I’ve seen folks pick up trash

off the sidewalk and go out of their way

to not step on a beetle or a worm.

My friend Wayne says,

We have to love the world

to want to save it,

and sometimes, I think

it just might happen—

though every day unspeakable cruelty

happens on these same streets.

Oh this world.

Even as I feel my guard go up,

I see strangers chatting on the corner

as they wait for the bus,

notice how their laughter

threads through the noise of the day

like a song, like a kite.

Library Cardiac

In the library of my heart

are thousands of slim volumes.

There are no rules

against dog earring pages.

Writing in margins

is encouraged.

There are many comfy chairs,

sage and amethyst rugs,

and surprisingly tall ceilings

with ladders for reaching

the highest shelves.

Dust never collects here,

the cream candles never burn out,

though sometimes

a chapter or two is lost

and no one notices.

It smells of vanilla

and lavender and old paper.

It smells of autumns

and moonlight and loss.

Is it any wonder

I sometimes go days

without leaving here?

But sometimes,

though I have in my hand

the key to get in,

I just can’t find the door.

Parting Gift

Parting Gift

Friends, I will be your blooper girl,

your end-of-the-credits buffoon.

You can film me as I fall, as I fail, as I flop,

as I drop the tray of glasses,

as my strapless top slips.

I’ll make it easy on you.

At least twenty times a day

I forget my lines.

At least ninety times a day,

I trip on my certainty.

Yes, I will be the one

who will flub most every punch line.

I’ll be the poster child

for sincere ineptitude.

I know, my outtakes

are better than my A roll.

But dang, the path of failure

has always served me.

And man, most of the time

I can laugh as I blunder,

laugh until you wonder why

I am still laughing,

laugh because what else

can a woman do when

gaffes are her saving grace?

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