Friday, April 24, 2015

In Search of Sheeps Canyon - a Poem and Photograph by Patty Mooney

On the Anza-Borrego desert floor
heat rises in cartoon clouds:
"Hotter 'n Hell!"
Ocatillo lean clutching red hankies in their claws.
A chuckwalla* scrambles for sparse shadows.
Yuccas fan out their arrays of poison-tipped blades.
The stream crossing is a delirious surprise.
Look and soak but do not sip.
Here is where the critters gather,
including flesh-eating flies,
invisible armies of them.
In the distance Sheeps Canyon shimmers:
palms and lush foliage,
pools of water, and a waterfall
cool as melted ice, cool
as melted ice.

[*fat black lizard]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oregon Diary 1975

This morning I woke up from a dream in which I'd been sliding down a sandy ocean cliff and was prevented from crashing down onto the rock beach by alighting on a small bluff.  It took me a few minutes to realize, upon awakening, that this had really happened to me after I'd just turned 20 and was hitchhiking down the Oregon coast from Tacoma, Washington to San Francisco, California.

In the dream I'd been trying to get away from some nasty villains.  In real life I was trying to figure out how to get away from the guy I was with.  I'd ridden with him in a drive-away truck from Flint, Michigan, across the northern United States.  It was one of my earliest educations about the nature of men.  Prior to that, I'd been raped twice while a student at Michigan State, by two different men.  I was a cute young woman which made me prey to predators and I figured that by leaving the state, I could evade such unwanted attention.

Upon further reflection this morning, I located a letter to my mother which recounts that time in Oregon, and since it's Thursday I figured it would be a great Throwback Thursday entry for today, and a true glimpse into my "Diary Left Open" 40 years ago.

Sunday, August 24, 1975
If we had ready transportation, we’d be in San Francisco by tomorrow.  We have come a long way, met a lot of people; we’ve had lots of rides.
Yesterday we were let out at Fort Lewis, the worst place in the world to hitch.  We had to walk one and a half miles of railroad tracks to the next exit.  In Washington you’re not supposed to hitch on the freeway, only on the entrance ramp, way up, where the chances of getting rides are slim.  Luckily nobody official caught us hitching on the freeway.
After a short ride yesterday, we had a trauma.  A rusty red pickup truck stopped for us, so we stowed all our stuff in the back.  When we got out, we had time enough to get out only half our stuff before the guy drove off.  My wicker satchel was still on that truck, with all my poetry, writing instruments, paper, etc.  My most valuable possessions.
It seems impossible that he didn’t know some of our belongings were still in his truck, and that he didn’t see us chasing him halfway down the block.
Jim and I were standing there worrying about it when a guy in a camper rig offered us a ride five miles down the road.  I said no, because I knew our things were not gone; we had to wait for them to come back.
Jim was going to hitch down the street the guy made off on, and would kill him if he found him.  I stayed behind to watch our stuff, felt that I should be crying, but I couldn’t.  I didn’t believe that my poems were really gone.
Fifteen, twenty minutes later, he pulled up, said something like “Sorry man, didn’t know there was stuff back there.”
Right now we’re both sitting in a local cafe drinking beer, and eating nuts.
We sat in one spot on Highway 101 for about two hours waiting for a ride.  The Oregon coast is right there, immediately west, and beautiful, though cold.
Especially cold at night when the tide and the fog come in, and the air gets wet.
We slept off the highway, under a full moon, to the tune of the ocean buoys, on a very sloped sandy bluff, which our sleeping bags kept riding down. We had to wake up a lot, to pull the bags up. Also, Jim kept rousing me to say that he thought it would rain.  When daylight came, I could see that the sand went down to a point a few yards below where I’d slept, after which there was a sheer rocky cliff a hundred feet to the crashing ocean below.  Yikes!
I am not feeling so depressed as I did before (previous letter.)
The weather gets warmer the further south we go.  We haven’t been swimming yet, though.  The water temperature is 40 to 45 degrees.
I sure hope we can reach San Francisco tomorrow hitchhiking.  I am getting anxious to be there.
Physically I’m fine, except I am having cramps and no menstruation.  And I’m getting tired; sleepy.  Next time we camp, it’s going to be on some nice flat ground.

We have been lucky.  We’re in Coos Bay today, San Francisco tomorrow.
Monday, August 25, 1975
Currently passing by the coast of Oregon in a rather shaky car, so excuse the scrawl. 
Last night I slept in the back seat of this car, and stayed quite warm.
The driver, Ken, is just a year older than me.  He travels all the time.  This time he is going to Mt. Shasta.  He slept in the front while I slept in the back, so we talked about a lot of stuff.  He told me about his family, and things to do in San Francisco.  He seems terribly young, even younger than me, just by the way he talks, and what he talks about; young meaning vulnerable, or innocent.  But that’s just my impression.  Jim has been quiet all morning.  I think he’s mad because I slept in the car.
All for now,

Friday, April 17, 2015

America Asks About Justice - by Martin Willitts, Jr.

Martin Willitts, Jr.

My friend, Martin, sent me a link to his poem which follows. I decided to post it here as it is such a powerful message about America's place in the world.

I first met Martin when I was 18 years old. The way it happened was, I had read some of his work while on the editing team of a poetry magazine at Michigan State University called "The Circle Is A Perfect Line." He'd sent in several of his poems. Even then I could see his talent, and at that time he and I began to correspond by mail. I was then fortunate enough to have a mentor, Carolyn Forche, who helped me get accepted at Bread Loaf Writers Conference - a very prestigious thing for a young poet. So on my way to Bread Loaf, Vermont, I stopped off at Syracuse, New York to meet Martin in person. I remember that he took me to the Letchworth waterfalls which were magnificent. Together we bonded and shared a love of nature.

Martin Willitts, Jr. is one of the most underrated poets whose work I have had the privilege of reading. So I wanted to introduce you to his poetry in my modest blog.

America Asks About Justice

by Martin Willitts, Jr.

The world creeps along and we judged for 8 years
without moral authority,
like we were transporting bananas through fields of bones.
And we dare to ask about Justice.

Some church stating good intentions sends Bibles to cure AIDS.
Someone points out we must save the innocent
by bombing them for weapons they never had.
We stretch lazy across borders and ask about Justice.
The hypocrisy is packaged like corn flakes.

We made men stand naked on a small wavering box,
blindfolded as Lady Justice, a noose around their necks,
threatening to kick the box out from under them
like we were haggling over the price of gasoline.
This is the Justice we hand out like purple thumbs.

We justify our actions like we justify someone else's poverty.
We do not investigate the infected mold of FEMA trailers.
We do not investigate contaminated food given to the School Lunches.
But we allow fraud to exist in non-bid contracts to War contractors
who build things that fail the soldiers.
Justice is a smirking recruitment poster.

We would rather teach children about values
from a book written by a man who was arrested
after violating three of those values.
This is justice.
We bring justice like bombing raids.
When enough damage is done,
there will be final assessments
of the success or failure
although the end result does not matter.
Justice will be served on a platter like empty collection plates.

If you ask me about justice we have offered these eight years,
will I have an answer that matters?
Will justice come to take me away for speaking?

Martin Willitts Jr's recent poems appeared in Blue Fifth, Bent Pin, Glass, Flutter, Coal Hill Review, New Verse news, The Centrifugal Eye, Quiddity, Autumn Sky Poetry, and Sea Stories. His tenth chapbook is "Garden of French Horns" (Pudding House Publications, 2008) ad his second full-length book "Hummingbird" is forthcoming from March Street Press.

(author retains copyright)

"Herons Reflected In Water" - Poetic Origami by Martin Willitts, Jr.

Click here to see more of Martin's work and his poetic origami at 3 Lights Gallery

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Rodeo - A Poem by Patty Mooney

I feel like an imposter in my down-under hat
with kangaroos on it, I'm a downright hippy.
Would rather see a rattler sunning itself
in the outback than skinned for boots.
The cowboys have it figured, how to:
separate one bull from twenty,
rope a calf in five,
be a barnacle on the back of a bucking bronco.
The rodeo Bozo pops in and out
of an aluminum beer barrel
as inflamed bulls toss riders, snort
and stamp dirt. Those bulls
put on a show but in the end
they're roped and funneled back
into the holding pen, seething,
quelled. Tough meat.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Experiments with Peeps - A Poem by Patty Mooney

Pink Marshmallow PeepsImage via Wikipedia Pink peeps on Rice Krispie
baskets grouted in marshmallow.
Sweet peeps glisten
eyes wide, beaks mute.
Half-eaten peeps
headless and landfill-
bound after Easter.

The garbage truck strains
and grinds, shrieking
into the early morning
as though lending language
to those stiffened peep
corpses buried
under potato peelings,
congealed fat
and suburban stench.

Chirrup twitter chirp tweet !
Those tiny peep voices
rise in a sugary dirge.
Resiliency's an asset
as pink as a fresh
pack of peeps.
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Five Fingered Lily - A Poem by Patty Mooney

The Tiare Apetahi
perfumes the air,
a flower so rare it is mythical,
growing only on a Raitea cliff
that juts from the sea.
Three of us climb, slipping back,
then punching forward endlessly as
volcanic loam seeps into our boots.
Cloud underbellies murmur of rain.
Nutea disappears over a hill,
and behind him, my husband.
Alone, my frustration unleashes
its tropic downpour.

I shake the dirt from my shoes,
rub my complaining knees,
then continue the climb.
Nutea and Mark wait at the top
of a waterfall like eagles.
I’m nearly up when I slip
on polished rock, plunging
down a vertical river, a waterslide.
Mark descends to pluck me up,
and shoves me to the summit.
It's flat up here, the sky sapphire,
storm system gone. Nutea shouts,

"Tiare! Tiare!" pointing at glossy
green bushes
fisted with succulent five-fingers
named for the hand of a Princess
who died of a broken heart.

Nutea pulls a plastic container
from his pack,
and begins to fill it.
Suddenly, a heavy wind
conjures black clouds.
We look at the sky as the Tahitian
clamps his lid on fifty fingers.
The temperature plummets
ten degrees.

Thunder cracks the sky,
lightning fireworks.
Gusts of hail
sting flesh, plaster our clothing.
We race down the cliff,
weather chasing like Rottweilers.
I slip and slide on my ass
down marble-smooth boulder
with a rush of adrenaline
feeling lucky to be alive.

At the base of the waterfall,
the sun chews through the clouds,
the wind drops.
Those unruly dogs
jog back
to their master.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mourning Doves - Poem and Photograph by Patty Mooney

In the morning they stroll along the railing,
heads bobbing. He bends
to whisper to her, his speckled
feathers come to a sharp point,
her beige breast plumps.
By Spring they have built a nest
in the crook of the palm beside the deck.
She warms the eggs as he forages
for grubs at the feet of the fig trees.
After a week of cold storms
the nest is empty, no mother, no eggs
To the east the dagger wings of a raven,
its brazen "Caw!"
Two weeks nothing.
Then one day as sun butters the deck,
there they are, the tawny couple,
claiming their spot on the railing,
necking like teenagers.