Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Elegy for Laurie

“Who am I to inspire someone else and prod a good poem out of them?  I don’t see myself in that light.” —Laurie James, poet, friend, performer, organizer, member of the tribe, in an interview with Eduardo Brummel, Write More Now, 2017

A cantankerous sparrow of a woman,
   I imagine her rolling her eyes at death
     as she lights up a cigarette and says,
       “Let’s get on with it.”

A relentlessly generous bear of a woman,
   already I hear rumors she’s visiting people
     from the other side, asking them to dance.
       She was the one who would build the nest
         big enough for us all to fit.

She was the one who’d carve us a space—
   carve it out of nothing, if that’s what she had—
     so we could gather and rock each other’s worlds.
       She was the one who knew the weight of moonlight,
         the one who went from mute to muse.

She was the one with the mischievous smile,
   the nomad with poems for a road.
     She was the one who inspired us
       to be family as we write.
         She was perhaps the only one
          who didn’t see herself in that light.

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And then one day, everywhere you look,

a door, waiting for you to open it.

In the apple tree. In the parking lot.


in a blade of grass. In each stone.

Not that it appeared because you are here.

More that it always existed and now


you can see it. In the asphalt drive.

In the dotted line. In the telephone ring.

In the scent of lemon. And every door


a world you might choose to enter.

Kiss on the neck. Cloudy sky.

Magpie wing. News headline.


You can’t possibly enter them all.

Button hole. Rising bread.

Sometimes you can go back


and the door will still open. Sometimes,

even on the most familiar path,

you can never go back again.

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One Not Quite Accident

years before the fire

the match in your thoughts—

what isn’t tinder

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And if you are lucky, you might stand

in the place where the horses were loaded

before they were led to look for gold, for silver.

There are journeys you, too, wish to take,

though you know now that the journeys

you long for the most are often made

by pledging yourself to a place.

The old stone walls were built with flow in mind.

Even now, they keep nothing out—not the sunlight,

not the wind, not the curve of your imagination.

And every window is an invitation

to see the same beauty framed a new way.

What might be possible here? No way to pretend

to predict the infinite. Still, this chance

to show up, to serve our own passion

in a toast to potential, and to be humbled

by our own hearts so eager to be opened.

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10-5-15 Finding Poetry in Life

Join me in Grand Junction at the library this coming Monday, at 6 p.m. for a conversation/reading/presentation as part of their ongoing “Inspiring Presentations” series. Free!

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not once

has a firework apologized

for being so bright—

like that, I think,

live like that

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No Strings

Here, we might say, here is where

a road should be. But road there is none.

Isn’t that like us, thinking we know

the world better than the world itself.

There isn’t a road. That is clear.

And we want one. That’s clear, too.

And we don’t like the fact

there is no visible road.

Whether our intention is to run away

or to move closer to,

well, that changes, doesn’t it.

And isn’t it just like us to think

we need a road. Instead,

there is this change of light,

this scent of rain. There is

nothing we might call a path,

but there is this urge

to begin to move, this desire

that causes the legs to lift,

again and again and again,

less as if we are marionettes,

more as if there is some inner drive

more real than even the real world,

and it helps us step one more step,

one more step toward what we do not know.

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Wearing their life vests made of cork
the Kolb brothers rowed their canvas boat
down the Colorado River.
I watched them on scratchy black and white film.
It was different then—no dams,
no crowds—only no different.
Humpback chub and pinyon jay,
mule deer and cliff rose,
ponderosa pine, white roar
of the rapids and two billion years
of geologic record.
Revelation must be passed through
with the whole body,
though the brothers were not looking
for revelation. They were looking for,
well, only they can say, and they are gone.
I did not intend to travel to their home
at the edge of the cliff,
but when I found their legend,
I felt an uplift, a collision, a drifting apart.
Is that, too, what revelation is? I swallowed
their story as if it might carve me,
undermine any harder layers
so they might collapse,
might erode me into whatever
is essential, a woman who longs
to launch herself into the flow,
no matter how flimsy
her protection, no matter
how loud, how unruly it is.

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Some days we can’t find
the poem, at least not
the one we want to write,

the one about purple wisteria,
for instance, or the one
in which the raven appears

a sign that magic is present. Instead
the poem waits to be found
on the back of a paint sample card

or it’s cracked inside a blue glass ball.
You can glimpse it, there!
and it’s beautiful, dewy, but when

you find the pen, the poem
is as missing as the tin man’s heart.
Each time you get close,

it dives into the swimming pool,
though there is no diving allowed.
It tells you there is no happy hour

on Saturdays. It invites you to a dance party,
only you don’t have a car and it is much
too far away to walk.

For a moment, the poem was
a red tailed hawk, but the circles
it made were too high to read.

For a moment, the poem
pulled like turquoise wool
through your fingers, but then

every turquoise stitch you knit
uncounted itself and unraveled.
It is hard not to think it’s something

you’ve done. It is hard not to think
you’ve let yourself down, or even worse,
that you’ve let down the poem.

I’m here, you say, to the air, to the hawk,
to the purple wisteria blooms.
I’m here, you say to the raven, the road runner,

the blue, blue glass of the blue glass ball.
But you’re too in the way, and the more you try
the more it’s like trying to catch a cat that knows

you want to clip its claws.
And the poem slips out of the dragonfly wings
you found on the path this morning,

and it steals the silver from the nightshade leaves
beside the Rio Grande, and it walks out of the room without you.
Even it doesn’t know where it is going.

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Example Haiku

flat gray sky
the chickadee sings
no less brightly

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