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Weaving the Terrain: Southwestern Poems

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Weaving the Terrain0001Weaving the Terrain is a large collection edited by David Meischen and Scott Wiggerman.  It contains 211 poems, by many poets—a minority of the contributors have supplied more than one poem.  The subject matter ranges across the southwestern states and over many themes.  There are plenty of roadrunners, vultures and coyotes, historical moments both familiar and lesser known, and a lot of sand.  There are personal stories as well, events that “just happen” to take place in a southwestern locale.

The full subtitle is 100-word southwestern poems.  This challenge, it turns out, can be met in many ways, by many shapes and styles.  Instead of the usual blurbs on the back cover, the comments are about the interesting project of fitting poems to this measure.  Every hyphen or article changed the word count.  That effort, however, rarely is visible in the finished product.P1010054

I have a poem in this collection.  It’s in the section called “Half-Lives Slowly Ticking” but is primarily about one of those lesser known historical moments, the feud between cattleman Oliver Lee and lawyer Albert Fountain.

P1010057

This book seems to me primarily a book for poets, those who will explore the shapes and guess at the choices of various poems.  But I think it might provide much interest to those who imagine the southwest but have never been there.  A gift for prospective visitors?  Dos Gatos Press managed to keep the price for 235 pages of poetry to a reasonable $19.95.P1010059

I’ve illustrated this report with a few native plants from my garden: apache plume, a cactus, and my mesquite tree.  The tree is just leafing out and that is considered a trustworthy sign that it is safe to put out tender annuals.  Frost is over.

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About the Iris

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The iris in the corner of my yard are out.  I’d been watching them from my desk.  Saturday morning they seemed still very tight.  Sunday afternoon several of them were waving their flags.

Iris0050

Here are some thoughts on how important such transient beauty is in the scope of our daily lives.  Thanks to a Two Sylvias Press prompt last year on “love and beauty in a terrible world.”

Balancing Act

The blue iris and the white,
white alyssum and purple mat
bloom in sandy spring winds.

Sitting beside you makes even
the building with one wall gone
bearable, though I get up to season

our thick bean soup to unsee
children carried on stretchers
after yesterday’s bombing.

We have news, a mute button,
an off switch.  And a camera
to record the short-lived iris blooms.

Sin Fronteras Journal Issue #22 is Out

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SF22 coverSin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders #22 is out.  It’s hard to believe that this is my seventh year as one of the editors, as other personnel have changed.

Our cover artist for this issue is local artist and poet, Katie McLane.

We have a number of bi-lingual poems and one poem presented complete in both English and Spanish. This is something I have had a major interest in expanding, since a border is, among other things, about language.  We’ve made some progress in this.

Poems about rivers, mountains and desert are included, as are poems about family and about loneliness. There are poems commenting on our own southern border, but also poems about September 11 and current troubles in the Middle East.

If you’d like to submit for Issue #23, consider this: this year’s editors will return next year, so it will give you a sense of what we like if you read a copy of Issue #22.

Submissions open April 1.  More information is available at http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com

Look Out of My Window

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The view from my desk lets me keep an eye on the yard.  When I begin work I often see small birds.  Later the doves take over.  All still seem to find good things to eat in the dried grass.

saltbush gold

 

 

The four-wing saltbush has taken on the gold of late autumn.  The chrysanthemum that somehow survives among the bushes is working hard to upstage it.

 

 

 

 

 

Leaves of the tall grass plant are turning purple.  At this stage it makes me think of shading done by an artist’s pencil.  big grass

 

 

The iron lily, a souvenir from Santa Fe, is strategically placed to cover a sprinkler head from an earlier life of this yard, when it was covered with grass.  When we moved in, nothing was left of that but the strings that once held the sod together.  It is by chance that it also makes a nice focal point from my window.

On Time

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I’ve seen in various places the information that people kept away from the sunlight world and clocks will operate on a 25-hour cycle, instead of the 24 hours of the earth’s rotation to which we think we are accustomed.

Clock989I notice that the moon circles the earth on approximately a 25-hour cycle.   Is this a coincidence? That seems likely.  The moon is on its own path, against the earth’s turning.

Could it be that the earth once rotated on a 25-hour cycle?  At some time, very long ago, but after the creation of basic life forms which later evolved into our DNA, some cosmic event bumped up the earth’s rate of rotation to the present 24 hours.

I like this theory because it would make the following statement true:

“There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

I find myself thinking that thought far too often.  Are we being cheated out of one of the twenty-five hours in the original circadian rhythm for which we were designed?

Has anyone researched this matter?

Turn, turn, turn

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Another cross-quarter day, better known as Halloween.  I read somewhere that this is the third harvest, the others coming at Lammas (early August) and the equinox.  Maybe in Europe?  I don’t seem to have much to harvest this year.  In fact it is planting season for Swiss chard, the one vegetable I’ve succeeded in growing here.  But I do have flowers:

P1000985The chamisa and the butterfly bush are flaunting their yellow and red, and yes, fighting for space.  In the side yard the volunteer autumn sage is blooming again:

P1000987Fortunately, it doesn’t mind in the least that I never got around to deadheading the last set of blooms.  As the weather cools I hope to give the garden more attention.

In the summer I was fighting weeds with early morning forays with vinegar and salt.  It seems to work.  My front walk is quite well behaved.  Time to spend more energy on the other sides of the house.  Who was it who commented that something is always happening in a garden?

Some Poems

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I’ve had a couple of poems appear on line recently.

“Helpless” is about one of the difficulties of being a parent.  It’s a recent poem about something that happened many years ago.  You can see that it left an impression.  Oyster River Pages has published it:

https://www.oysterriverpages.com/helpless

“Midseason Report” is about fires in the western states.  It was written a couple of years ago, a season which seemed bad at the time, but wasn’t as bad as this year has been.  You will find the contents page for Route 7 Review at:

https://www.route7review.com/issue-5-2017

I’ve been noticing poems now and then which seem to fit our current situation, though they were written a few years ago.  I even have one of my own:

          Shaken

As a child in earthquake country
I knew the earth could shift
yet walked with confidence,
assured the fault did not lie
under the house.

When political tremors spilled
boxes into Boston harbor, an
Englishman’s table, set with tea
from Ceylon or India, fresh milk,
Caribbean sugar, did not tip.

New voices cried from far countries,
colonies.  In science, physics and
chemistry undermined foundations.
Causes widened like the Atlantic,
deepened into canyons.

Upheavals everywhere, I learn no
house is safe.  Leave silver locked
up, set teapots on tray tables ready
to be folded at the first
faint  rumble.

Two major earthquakes in Mexico recently. Political upheavals in Washington for months. Did I sense these were coming?  Of course not.

You can find the poem, and others that connect with it, in my book, Made and Remade (2014) available from me or through Word Tech Editions.  See Books page.

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