Poems On Line

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I’ve had three poems accepted so far this year, and they all showed up on the internet this month. Here’s something about them.

First to “go live” was “Thickening” at 3 Elements Review:  http://3elementsreview.com/current-journal. 3 Elements puts out a prompt each quarter. I’ve been trying them for almost a year, now.   This was my first success. The prompt was “miasma, simmer, whimsy.” Unfortunately, they seem to have decided their prompts were too easy. This quarter’s prompts are two word phrases. Ouch! They’ve gone over my head.

Heron Tree accepted “Green”: http://herontree.com/young1/. This poem also came from an exercise, though it is far removed. There is a poetry exercise in wide circulation by Jim Simmerman called “Twenty Little Poetry Projects.” His claim is that if you follow his instructions to write 20 lines according to his criteria, you’ll end up with the basis of a poem. I never got all 20 items in, and half of them fell out in the revision process. But I do have the poem to suggest his system works.

The third poem developed from no prompts but my own ideas. “American Dreaming” is included in Kind of a Hurricane Press’s anthology titled “Objects in the Rear View Mirror.” This piece is not very accessible; you have to download the ebook version of the anthology and go to page 143: http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com/p/bookstore.html.  All the pieces are about driving. My piece is mostly about maps, including the colors of roads (see my post of July 7). I also brought Route 66 into the poem. I didn’t realize until I moved to New Mexico that Route 66 nostalgia is much older and broader than the television show. As a teenager I was a fan of that show, but I could never see why, of the buddy heroes, the dark one (George Maharis) got all the press in the magazines. I liked the tall blond (Martin Milner) better.

It was evidence that I was not in the main stream. If you’ve read my poems or some of my blog posts, you know there are still ways I don’t fit in. Now I like it that way.

Seventieth Anniversary


I was out for an early walk to avoid the heat this morning, and noticed how dark it is at 5:29 at this time of year, not the deepest dark, but still a while before dawn. It was seventy years ago today that the bomb was tested about two hours’ drive north of here.

I decided this would be the year I go to visit Trinity site. A lot of others made the same decision. The first Saturday in April was Easter Saturday, a time when many people travel. The site is opened only once or twice a year, depending on government cutbacks. Reports afterward were that while there are usually about 3,500 visitors at these openings, this spring there were 5,500.

Trinity site is located on White Sands Missile Range. The army is good at managing crowds. They were set up to check four cars at a time going in the gate. When I got there the back up at the gate was three miles long; it took me 55 minutes to get in. After that there is a 17 mile drive to a large parking lot so people get spread out. From the parking lot it is a quarter-mile walk to ground zero.P1000421.trinity walk

The army is not so good at other aspects of hosting visitors. There was a large golf-cart type vehicle providing rides from the parking lot to the site for those who couldn’t walk it, but I noticed there were not enough chairs at either end of the run to accommodate people waiting for the ride.

Some friends discouraged me from going. There’s nothing there, they said. It’s true that the crater has been filled in, to cover the radioactive green glass called trinitite which was the result of the explosion and to prevent its being stolen. There is trinitite for sale at locations around the edge of the range; some of it may still be the real thing. A few small samples are displayed at a table where the path meets the oval which represents the crater. There is a piece of one base for the tower which held the bomb, and two containers which helped move and protect the device. container 2

There are photographs hung on the enclosure fence, many of them of people responsible for the test, mostly white males looking pleased with themselves. If they felt any ambivalence about what they were doing, they kept it hidden from the camera.P1000424 cropped

It was once possible to view some of the trinitite on the crater floor. A structure was built with a window to look through. This is what it looks like now.P1000423

The army should have taken lessons from the National Park Service. “Years ago”? How many? And when was this sign installed? There’s no date given. “Years ago” sounds like the opening of a fable, or a tale of origins. It’s odd to find this in a place governed by scientific exactitude.

Outside the base, back at the road before the three mile backup, some people were protesting. They were not an anti-war group. They call themselves “Downwinders” and are asking for recognition and compensation for having been in the way of the radioactive fallout. No one warned them of danger. At the time of the bomb test no one had any idea what long range effects the radiation might have; though there had been accidents to show the immediate problems which high exposure caused.

The scientists acted as if they were testing in an empty space. No place on earth is that empty. I’ll let nature have the last word. This was along the path back to the parking lot.P1000430 flowers

New Mexico History, in More Ways Than One


When I came to Southern New Mexico I quickly learned about Juan de Onate and his arrival in what is now New Mexico in 1598, which led to the founding of the city of Santa Fe in 1608.  Onate came north along the Rio Grande with troops, cattle and sheep and religious men eager to convert the local inhabitants.  They were coming to stay.

I only later learned that Coronado had reached New Mexico much earlier.  His itinerary, which was primarily a search for gold, took him north into Arizona first, then across into New Mexico, reaching the Rio Grande a little north of Albuquerque.

Rio Grande by Kuaua Pueblo

Rio Grande by Kuaua Pueblo

On one of my recent trips to Albuquerque I took time to visit the Coronado Historic Site, which should properly be called Kuaua Pueblo, one of several communities of the Tiwa people.  Coronado arrived in this part of New Mexico in the winter of 1541, and demanded support for his troops from several local pueblos.

The museum part of the site was undergoing restoration, but there was a tour of reconstructed buildings, from which I learned some of the more recent history of the site.  There was much work done on the site in preparation for the 400th anniversary.  Excavations were done, covered over and replaced with reconstructions.  Unfortunately the reconstructions were done in adobe, and the wind and weather wore them down in a matter of years.

Early Restoration

Early Restoration

More recent restorations, still on top of the excavations, have been done in more durable materials.

Recent restoration

Recent restoration

More recent research has revealed that this site is misnamed because this was not the pueblo where Coronado quartered his troops.  That site is two miles to the south.  It came into private hands and now has condominiums on it.  So the Kuaua pueblo keeps Coronado’s name.

Outline of Kuaua plaza kiva

Outline of Kuaua plaza kiva

So, in addition to historical lessons from centuries ago, this site demonstrates the more recent history of restoration and research.

Road Maps

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William Least Heat Moon’s book Blue Highways is one I enjoyed reading when I was younger.  It celebrated the lesser roads which were blue on road maps.  Not the least of roads, but roads that went to small towns off the U.S. Highways.

When the Interstates came in someone decided that their color should be blue.  Now another color was needed for the lesser roads.  On most maps I’ve used the U.S. highways were and still are red, except where they’ve been turned into limited access roads and are then entitled tobe colored blue.  What to color the lesser roads?  Our American Map uses orange for the secondary roads and yellow for those which are only “other paved roads.”  A nice color scheme.583 map 1

Except for the fact that colors carry emotional weight.  Blue is a color of hope “the wide blue yonder,” “the sky’s the limit.”  Orange is the color of danger.586 road sign 1

Orange is used for warning and road work signs because, as I have come to realize after seeing signs ahead on the road for years now,  it is the most visible.587 road sign 2

But orange as a line on a map doesn’t call us out the way blue suggests possibility.  And those big blue highways don’t lure us out, they command, insist.  Driving the big blue roads is a matter of minutes and miles, not of countryside and new impressions.585 map 2

Our U.S. map book is several years old now and we thought we should get a new one.  We have it in the car, but we don’t use it much.  The big blue roads look much like the roads in the old book, but all the other roads, major and minor, are pink.  We can’t get used to it.  What does pink have to do with going someplace? P1000588

Gray Rock

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Or is it grey?P1000592A recent crossword puzzle had the clue: “grey and ochre”.  I knew as soon as I counted the squares that the answer was “colours.”   It’s that British “U” as in honour or labour.  I might not have caught on right away if I hadn’t been thinking about gray and grey – because I tend to switch between the two.  And I wasn’t conscious that “ochre” was a British spelling.  The “U” problem I had learned from work as a copyeditor.

This gray is Deer Isle granite.  On closer inspection it turns out the color is a combination of gray, white and black bits.  When it is polished the black shows up even more.P1000589This small rock I found on our beach.  The large one is from a recent hike.  Nearby, I saw these flowers, whose names I wish I knew.P1000594