Archive for April 2011


 Some butterflies live only one week 

                 There Is Time

six and a half days to make memories
to rub wings against another
to flatten your silhouette
then open wide for what awaits

thousands of seconds
to sit with friends in orange and black Echinacea flowers
to lay your head into the gusts and become the morning’s kite

a half day to carry the memories made
to settle in a bush that steals shadows without malice
to sit with your many legs        still as Buddha
and feel breath pulse your wings
then listen

to the sound
     of your six feet clapping

Santa Fe Post #3 Moving to NM, Gary Pucket and the Union Gap, Cut-Offs, Plastic Curtains   Leave a comment

When I left Chadron, Nebraska for Grand Coulee, Washington in 1971 as an 8th grader, my friends gave me a going-away party. My gift from Kevin Moore and Gary Robbins was an album of Gary Pucket and the Union Gap. Songs that I remember are “This Girl is a Woman Now,” another  is “Will Power.”

Forgetting and remembering? This month it’s the act of moving house that is pulling memories from my past and entering my night and day dreams.“Y

 I remember watching his slender legs in his Levi cut-offs  as he stood across the small room from me.  He would cross one foot over the other with the toe of his sandaled foot down and the heel up, and the muscle in his leg was full and thick. I kept watching him cross and uncross every 10 minutes or so, tan legs slim view with thigh muscle hidden in the straight on-view until he shifted position again. His straight hair covered his ears in a Peter Tork (of The Monkees) way. I watched that leg in 1970 at a body repair shop after just turning down an alley and trying to park my dad’s Buick in a quick right turn. Unfortunately, a large rusted metal pole prevented my smooth parking maneuver. The car was my dad’s first nice car. It would mean big trouble if I didn’t get it repaired before he came home from his long haul trucking job. Luckily, Mick, the car repair guy was young and willing to help the new girl in town, and do it cheaply. My carhop job at the little hamburger place made little money and it would all go to Mick. The guy with the legs hung out just to talk with Mick and me.

Years later, I heard the leg guy had become an alcoholic like his father. The old father who slipped the tongue to the funny little lady named Bobbi who was married to a lawyer in the small town where we all lived. It was New Year’s Eve at the Eagles Hall. The packed dance floor held a lot of drunks and I could feel the upstairs floor shake or maybe it was the whole building bouncing. Anyway the old drunk gave Bobbi a slick lizard-like midnight kiss and grossed her out completely. It was great!

My mind has been taking me to that second year of high school in a very small Nebraska town where my family had just moved. I believed the world ended at the town sign.

This morning another young man came to mind from that 1972 time period.  I’d met him that same sophomore year of high school.  His name was Kirby. We met at a party in the country at an abandoned house. Funny thing was the parents of the girl throwing the party had given their okay, and it seems that they hung out in the living room where people were dancing. Either they chose to ignore the kids drinking in cars or the barn or were oblivious. Kirby asked me to sit in his car with him. He kissed me and then took my hand in his. He was a cute kid about my height 5’10 or maybe a bit shorter, which happened a lot in my dating world. Moccasins were often on my feet in the effort to be as short as I possibly could. Kirby made a remark about my hands being large. My hands are long not thick, but I guess to Kirby, they were larger than the usual girl’s.  It did not sit well with me. I’d felt large all my life even though I was a slender girl. I never saw Kirby again. Both of these young men spent only a few hours with me, so I’m not sure why they have prompted memories. Something about moving again to a new place.

This week  I’m in Santa Fe trying to sort out the rest of this mid to old life. Butterflies live one week to nine months depending on their size, time of year they become a butterfly and all those other chancy things that can happen to a life.  One sleepy night after proposal writing, job and house hunting, we decided to relax in bed and watch a Netflix on my laptop. We picked a movie about John Keats called Bright Star by director Jane Campion(The Piano).  She does great things with trees and the period clothing was fun. Keats was only 25 when he died. One line in the movie was about a three-day life of a butterfly. Keats and Fanny Brawn had a three-year love affair. It’s all relative, the life of a butterfly, the life of a person. What three days of this butterfly life would I choose to live, to re-live?

My mother became the careful practical parent after living with a man who often was without work or drinking the milk money away. I believe her artistic spirit lived beneath that practical side that emerged to feed five children, but there was an explorer underneath who longed to see great art and cultures. She would be worrying about me right now. The older she got the more she worried, and there were many new children to add to that worry. Somehow her matriarchal power formed a web over nearly 40 (give or take a few partners that come and go) children and grandchildren and seemed to keep us safe from most dangers while she lived.

My ex-husband loved metal buildings and always wanted one for the ultimate mechanics shop of his dreams. I dreamt of an old Victorian House and he dreamt of slick ugly metal. I use to joke that he would think it would be fine to make our home from one of these ugly structures taking over this sprawling country? Now in some kind of twisted joke, I’m leaving a charming house to live in a metal building.

We met one landlord and entered the building through a small room with low ceilings that had been the office of the previous tenant, then through a door to a large room with a gray cement floor and a big overhead heater in one corner. The bathroom, just a toilet and a sink, was to our left, and a door at the back of the big room was another room that could be a bedroom. I opened the door from that room and was greeted with a four-foot space from the back door to a wire fence that ran along the back of the building. It would be a space for our two dogs.

I stepped inside the large room again, and my eyes teared. Maybe it was lack of sleep from two days of being up  until 2 a.m. and as usual,  I could not sleep in, or maybe it was the fear of taking this leap of faith that suddenly overwhelmed me. This space would cost twice as much as my house payment, and no one has called me for an interview in my job search.

My house with the hard wood floor we had put in ourselves in the living room with the wood burning stove that we had also installed and enjoyed on those cold Nebraska nights or the nice open kitchen with dog door opening to a huge backyard where my dogs chase each other in play and race along the fence with the neighbor dogs. The flagstone patio we labored to create and fitted stone after stone like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Trading all of this as well as leaving the family members and friends in the area for a metal building with cement floors. Am I on Candid Camera? Is this poetic justice for leaving my husband, or is the challenge I’ve been waiting for? There is fun in making a cold space into a home. I can do it. My mother taught me how to shape any rental house – holes in the wall and dirt yard – and make it feel like home, plastic curtains and all.

Posted April 27, 2011 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Santa Fe post #2- Moving to NM, Pablo Neruda and Mandalas   2 comments

“Life transcends all structures, and there are new rules of conduct for the soul. The seed sprouts anywhere, all ideas are exotic, we wait for enormous changes every day, we live through the mutation of human order avidly; spring is rebellious.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pablo Neruda

Just a few minutes before I read the words above, I typed an email to a friend and said that I can’t let a structure (my house) determine how to proceed with my life. Well, of course, I can’t and I won’t. Security is an illusion.

My house is a mandala. I’ve created a mandala in the sand and it’s time to let it go. My thoughts are chaotic as I type this post. Does everyone feel so yin and yang, so up and down, black and white, gray and tan, turquoise and brown? I’m a late bloomer. I matured early. I had the height and body that a fourteen-year-old girl should not be allowed; I bought my first very own house when I was 44 years old. I understood the ways of the world at eight years old, but didn’t have my own private checking account until I left my husband of 27 years. I earned my BSW and MA after that, but often felt like a fraud in the workplace like maybe I would be better suited for mowing the lawn or moving furniture. I supervised people but never wanted to be the boss of anyone. I hate meetings. I like people watching. I’m shy but must express myself with words.

The first day I walked into my house with the realtor, it was jam-packed with the belongings of a single mom and her three children.  Stuff and toys everywhere. Fake flowers stretched from the overhead fan in one bedroom to each corner of the room. But I could see underneath the clutter, it was my house. My first place to live all by myself that would be mine, and it was perfect for me. It had a staircase!  Imagine a floor on top of a ceiling. Since I was a little girl, I wanted wooden stairs, convinced that upstairs led to magical places.  I grew up in rental houses and trailers. We moved so often that my sister and I burst into laughter when we picked up a mattress to carry to a pickup truck. Our floppy mattress was difficult to carry and it made us laugh when we tried to maneuver it here and there, up basement steps, around corners. It became a giggle trigger. If we just put our hands on it for another move, we cracked, and had to stop every few steps to get a grip – on the mattress and ourselves.

The realtor showed me the little house. It had an upstairs for a futon, a library, a computer and with the two bedrooms downstairs, I would have room for my three children and their significant others when they came to visit. Those babies of mine! It’s as if they emerged from my body as extensions of myself. Complete little individuals, but with a visceral connection that I had not experienced before. I licked their slobberiest ice cream cones and gave it back to them, wiped their noses with my hand if needed, and loved their open-mouthed baby kisses all over my face.  Even though they were grown, I still had to have place for them. Ideally, that’s what I still want but know that we can figure that out wherever I land. Finally, I am accepting that they are not extensions of me, but whole adults. Maybe my mother had to die before I could believe this to be true.

This house had a dog door to the back yard for the puppy soon to live with me. Perfect! And now after eight years of hauling wheelbarrows of dirt enough to fill several dump trucks, and pulling the same amount of weeds, and painting every room in the house, and laying a wood floor and carrying flagstone until I ached, putting in a wood stove, hanging my mother’s paintings, and my son’s and his wife’s and placing my partner’s art in just the right places, and knowing the comfort of all that, and knowing that if I keep this house, I will have a place of my own and it will be paid for when I am old. I doubt that owning a home will happen if I sell this one but realize that just as my children are separate entities from me, the security of place is an inside job, not a structure no matter how cozy or secure. It is time to reach out my hand and muss the mandala and let the next life enter this structure to abide in it or love it.

Posted April 23, 2011 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Essays, Have a Chair, Uncategorized

Santa Fe Post number 1: Moving to NM   Leave a comment

I met  Woody Vasulka at an art opening at Site Santa Fe Gallery.  He and his partner Steina escaped from Czechoslovakia in the late 60s when the Soviets were invading. Woody knew I planned to move to Santa Fe where he and Steina have lived since the 1980s after running an alternative gallery for film and video called  “The Kitchen” in New York City.

Woody asked me, “Will you die here?”

I shrugged. It was not a question I had considered.  Will I die here? I have not completely absorbed the idea that I will live here.

Posted April 21, 2011 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Have a Chair, Uncategorized

Daughter   Leave a comment

she is the clutter of glitter 
caught in the light 
then gone  
while I am still pondering  
how love enters    exits  
how it draws itself into another’s being  
long as a day’s breath   
short as a lifetime

Of Enchiladas and Poets   Leave a comment

The poem
like the enchilada
and the poet    like the cook
cannot be discerned
from a glance

as affection from a lover
cannot be guessed
by brawn of muscle
or bulge of belly

Poems and enchiladas
come long
skinny, stout
or smothering

Their builders are likewise of varied shapes
and though I've heard, "he has a poet's face"
I cannot trust
the truth of an image

until the taste of poetry
and the impact of enchilada
lie on the tongue
roll across the palate
seize the pores

Santa Fe or bust! Gering/Scottsbluff, Nebraska Home of Miss America and Spam(NE)   Leave a comment

This is my last column to  be published in the local newspaper called “The Gering Citizen” in Gering, Nebraska.

You never leave others behind; you take a part of them
with you and leave a part of yourself behind.                                                                           

 Fortunately, advice given for one situation works for many. 
From the Whole Earth Catalog:

“To reconcile the sometimes divergent needs of the various aspects of bookmaking, decide first on what should be done creatively, then modify these decisions as necessary to accommodate the practical considerations. In other words, plan the ideal first and retain as much of it as you can. This works better than any other procedure because the creative process functions best when it is free of practical considerations. The moment you accept mechanical or economic limitations, your imagination tends to freeze. Not that it merely restricts itself to the practical—it tends to act as though the limiting walls were made of glass, and it swings in a cramped arc far short of those walls. This is a safe enough procedure, but it precludes any chance of extending the possible.”

Now substitute the word “life” for “bookkeeping,” and that is my plan for my new adventure.

I vote for tossing the old résumés and typing up new ones that tell much more about the creator of the document.  Put in all your talents from the weirdest, maybe you can make your feet turn almost backwards, or you juggle knives, add your sweetest talents, are you the best listener or make the finest peanut butter cookies, do you have a mean tennis serve or make people laugh everyday. What do you do best? How would you choose to spend the afternoon of your dreams. If résumés told more than years of formal education and regular jobs then maybe opportunities would surface and people would be better matched to their strengths on job sites and entrepreneurial adventures would abound.  I am an idealist, but change begins with a dream.

My first important job and the one that I loved best was caring for my three amazing children, Joshua, Nicholas, and Kathryn (Katie) and I am pleased to say, they are curious, open-minded, loving adults. My second occupation was in social work, but throughout this period and also while my children grew, I wrote. Writing became my avocation. Re-invent yourself someone said to me a few years ago.  Really? Can that be done? I am not sure how to stir me into a new potion, but I have discovered that whenever I take a risk, I’ve had no regrets even when it is difficult. In the movie Open Range, Annette Benning’s character said to Kevin Costner’s character. “I don’t have the answers, Charley. But I know that people get confused in this life about what they want and what they’ve done and what they think they should have because of it. Everything they think they are or did takes hold so hard that it won’t let them see what they can be.”

Almost two years ago I sat next to Lisa Betz at the Western Nebraska Community College Emerging Voices reading for those published in the yearly literary journal, and we talked about the new newspaper, The Gering Citizen. I told Lisa that I would love to write a column if they needed something. Lisa was enthused about this idea. My selfish thought was having a place to give my poetry more exposure. Much to my surprise that is not what I did. Instead I found that all kinds of topics emerged for my weekly columns. I love surprises, even when I surprise myself.  I will be forever grateful to the Gering Citizen for allowing me to find a voice that I had not used before. My ideas were not always met with agreement, but if I caused one reader to pause, wonder, consider the topic, that satisfies my effort. I appreciate a variety of viewpoints and the passion that other columnists have about their opinions, and their dedication to their work, community and their lives. This is my last column for the Citizen and I thank all readers for taking the time to read my words.  I will soon be spending time in Santa Fe and considering a possible move, but I’ll always be a Nebraska girl wherever my journey takes me, and know that this landscape shaped me in ways I am still discovering.

Posted April 5, 2011 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

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