Topaz Internment Camp

A few days ago, when I was picking up my rental car, the guy behind the counter asked where I was going. “Wendover,” I said, and got the look of incredulity I was expecting. Turns out though, he was a history buff, and knew about the airfield.
Then he lowered his voice. “I had a lady in here with her mother who was heading for a high school re-union…in Topaz.”
I looked blank.
“The Japanese Internment Camp,” he said.
A very elderly lady, no doubt. I looked it up on the map–about five hours round trip–too long for me. I’ve read several books on Topaz, and been to the camp in Manzanar.
Which leads me to a question I may want to explore–can I write about somewhere I haven’t been?
People wrote haiku in Topaz. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

This is from

Consider the following examples (of free verse haiku), written in “camp” and published in May Sky.
Autumn foliage

California has now become

a far country

–Yajin Nakao

Frosty night

listening  to rumbling train

we have come a long way
–Senbinshi Takaoka

For more information on World War II era free-verse haiku by Japanese Americans, see de Cristoforo’s book May Sky: There is Always Tomorrow–An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku, published by Sun and Moon Press (1997) and the anthology Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience (Heyday Books, 2000), edited by prominent Japanese American writer Lawson Fusao Inada.

How Did I Get Here?


I flew to Salt Lake City. But of course it started before that. In the summer of 2009, I was involved with Albuquerque’s citywide Land Arts exploration. Rich and I took a bus tour with CLUI (Center for Land Use Interpretation) that despite having water bottles and power bars was like no other bus tour. It included housing developments abandoned for lack of water and funding, and the location of a “broken arrow”–a bomb which fell by mistake from a military plane.

CLUI is a kind of think tank, a data base, a world view that might almost be Zen–things are as they are, exclusive of our opinion. People are part of nature and topography, even if we destroy it. I heard they had a residency in Wendover, Utah. I asked Matt Coolidge who was running the bus tour “Do I want to go to Wendover?” He didn’t take special note, but I did, and sent them an application. It was accepted.

From Salt Lake due flat west on 80. Past the Brigham pit, with its enormous tower–the second largest open pit copper mine in the world. Made me wonder about industrial sites named for religious leaders and prophets. Could there be a Moses mine? It seems unlikely.

Past Saltair pavilion, a faux Moorish attraction, past the Morton Salt Works where the little girl in washed out blue strolls with her umbrella across the sign, past Reilly Chemical Salt Works that pulls everything from lithium to pot ash from the muddy playa.

Past the Tee of Utah, a huge sculpture you can’t stop to see–an artwork built to be viewed going 75 miles per hour, six spheres like planets coated with local rocks and minerals, built by a Swedish artist driven to put something vertical in this horizontal landscape.

Left at the Shell Station.

Left again, past the hangar where the Enola Gay was built to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

Here I am.

Wendover Yarnbombing by Carol Hummel

Yes, this is Wendover, Utah–the abandoned airforce base. This installation–or major yarn bombing–was done by Carol Hummel.The buildings are still here–I can see some right now–but alas the crochet was temporary.

The artists writes: The Wendover works were completed during a Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) art residency in Wendover, Utah during the summer of 2007. The pieces utilized 300 crocheted “cells” ranging in size from 12” to 36” in diameter. Building upon ideas in earlier work – masculinity vs. femininity, man’s intrusion upon nature, comfort vs. confinement – this series explores the repercussions of injecting (wo)man-made objects into the Utah environment. When the cells intrude upon the existing environments, they form vibrant viruses. Oozing out of mountains and over buildings and bunkers, blossoming in the stark white Salt Flats, the viruses are beautiful – colorful, intriguing, mysterious – as well as dangerous – intruding upon the natural landscape, covering and smothering native plants and habitats, injecting synthetic material into natural environments. They shift between organic and artificial, decorative and deadly.

I just found this to be an amazing response to a landscape I’m grappling with.

Where Am I?


I’m in Wendover, Utah. In a living pod designed by an art class in the abandoned Wendover Air Force base. Next to the hangar where the Enola Gay was built. It’s like a little mobile home but with oddities, mirrors and shelves appear in hidden spots and an indoor mailbox houses plastic kitchen bags. Spacious for one, doable for two, with two sleeping spaces carved out of corners.

At the edge of the Great Salt Lake. In what was once a vaster ancient inland sea. At the western edge of the “bathtub”–where mountains once were a shore. In a world of salt flats and playas that flood at the slightest rain, shimmering, not mirages but pure reflections, mostly of the utter blue of cloudless sky.

In a landscape pitted and mined. At the edge of three million acres of the military’s bombing range. Where old bombs are buried in undocumented locations. Where I can see old munitions mounds spreading out over the landscape like the ancient MIssissippian city of Cahokia. Craters. HIstoric aircraft. A landscape big enough to lose a plane or a bomb in. A landscape that seems to make people want to drive really fast, crash into things, and blow them up. And right outside my window, local police practicing some kind of maneuvers with cars loaded on a truck.

Its warm and sunny. Where am I? On the boundary between Wendover, Utah and West Wendover, which is Nevada, and which sports casinos and strip clubs. Also the grocery store, where I buy the odd things I’ll eat when I’m alone and not at home–cabbage, camembert, flavored instant coffee.

I plug in the tiny colored X-mas lights that adorn the inside of the pod, change the sheets, and settle in. This isn’t exactly Walden Pond.

Am I the first to use “googling” in a poem?

I’m revising a poem called “signal Fire” about our summer of wildfires. Often I don’t really remember what I wrote in a rough draft until I see it. I came upon this stanza:
a physicist
a child on a swing
try googling
“pictures of cities”
find Nineveh (where God’s hand was stayed)
where it was not
try googling
“on what day will I die”
or “god sends rain”
try prayer
or just sleeping through it…
I pack my passport
three pairs of underpants
and not much else
won’t save the photograph
from its edge
curling in flame

When I first saw “googling” I thought I’d take it out. Then I realized it was a whole thought, so I’m leaving it in. Are other poets using google in poems? I suspect so, but haven’t seen it.

Love Hurts by Terry Wilson

I met you one dark night at Albertson’s, the first evening the air filled with smoke from the Arizona fires in June. The sunset had been orange that day and it felt like the end of the world. You were standing outside of the Albertson’s on Zia and right away I could see how alive you were, how much like a breath of fresh air. I stopped my car right in front of you that night even though maybe I should have kept on going. Being with you made me feel like there was hope again, that maybe the Apocalypse would not come after all, even when the Pacheco Fire started, and then Las Conchas after that. There was so much devastation last summer, but it always made me feel so much better to see you blossom. I have to admit I wanted to be with you all the time; even your smell captivated me—so earthy and rich. Our best moments happened in the garden behind my house. I loved feeding you and often you fed me too; those were intense moments. You didn’t even seem to mind when I gave you tiny love bites, but I don’t want to desecrate our private moments by speaking of them here.

You seemed to be OK when I had to visit family for a few weeks last summer. As soon as I came home, I rushed to see you and you were always waiting and eager to see me too. But as summer ended and I began my job again, I think that was when things started to change. First the alteration was subtle; your feelings toward me seemed less fertile, drier and even cold as the weather transformed into autumn. Is it me? I wondered. Maybe I should have given more. Maybe if I hadn’t gone away? I tried to pay as much attention to you as I had before, but there was no denying that I was busier. Each day the hours of sun lessened, and you seemed so affected by that, like you needed the sun to survive. I can relate; I love the sun myself. But for you….well, let’s just say you’re more of a summer being. It got to the point where I couldn’t even imagine you staying around once winter came, and that made me so sad. Why can’t summer last forever? I thought with a pain in my chest. I understand how hard it is to be flexible because I’m not crazy about adjusting to new things either. And I don’t love the snow and the cold weather myself. But still, couldn’t you just stay with me? I’d protect you; I’d help you! You didn’t have to give up! I mean, we’d been together for four months now; didn’t that mean anything?

Finally I decided I could not just stand by and let you wilt away. I was going to take action, whether you completely agreed with me or not. Maybe I was being meddlesome, some might even say codependent. Even friends of mine told me, “Let go, Terry! Sometimes you just have to let go and accept what is!” But I refused to listen.

One night the prediction was dire. I was afraid you would not last till morning. What else could I do but hold you close, bring you into my house and try and keep you there so you’d be all right? You resisted some, but then seemed to accept that you were now indoors in a warm, safe house, even though our house is small and you were crowded. I was so happy that you could stay with me all winter, maybe even forever. You looked perky and serene as I said goodnight to you last Saturday evening.

But the next morning, something was wrong. I woke up wheezing, aware that the house had been modified in an important way. My lungs hurt and could not seem to fill with air. I tried an antihistamine and my inhaler, but when I saw you, I also saw the truth. And the sad reality was, you were not really content in my house. You told me you felt confined, like you could not take a deep breath either. You felt I had trapped you, that you needed the sun and the wind and the fresh air to live. That as much as you loved me, you could not stay.

That was the day I realized that I could not hold on to you. Even though I loved you with every breath I took, I was having trouble taking breaths now. I sneezed and coughed while I begged you to reconsider, not willing to accept that you knew best. And finally tonight, I sent you out of my house again. I’m crushed that even though we had an amazing summer together, a magical summer of love, a summer of ash and fire that I might not have survived without you, autumn is here now. I have to accept that you, my potted tomatoes, as lush and beautiful as you are, cannot live inside my house because I’m allergic to you, and you need to be free. When that first frost comes, I will try blanketing you with love and flannel, but soon the snow will fall and you will be gone forever. I will never forget you, my love. My lovely tomatoes.

Review of Grand Canyon Lodge at The North Rim by Chantal Quincy

Chantal Quincy

Grand Canyon Lodge at The North Rim
Situated at Bright Angel Point, the Lodge is truly a National Park treasure. Since 1919 that the Grand Canyon has become a National Park, millions of visitors from all over the world have travelled there, but most of them are contented with a visit to the South Rim. Those who take the road (the only way to get there) and make the detour to drive to the North Rim are wildly rewarded.
From Jacob Lake, the road winds in ponderosa forests and meadows. After 40 miles, we reach our destination and notice that the parking is, on purpose, away from the Lodge (no motel set-up with your car at the door, yeah!!) A big wood panel let us know: Grand Canyon North Rim – Welcome. Behind it is the information center and adjacent to it a large gift shop. A little further is the Coffee Shop which opens its door at 5:30 am for those who want to pick up a warm drink on their way to look at the sunrise from the East terrace.
The Lodge built of stones and wood has a nice rustic look and stands proudly at the edge of the cliff. As soon as we enter in the lobby area, we are pulled immediately towards the huge bay windows like if they were gigantic magnets. We gasp in awe at the majestic and breathtaking views of the Canyon. This big room is the point of attraction of the Lodge as well as its two terraces on both sides. Then, we realize we have passed the Front Desk and the Dining Room without even noticing them.
On the West Terrace people sit quietly and have a drink before dinner as they enjoy the sunset. The rough landscape of red, white and black rocks with little vegetation seems even more threatening with the increasing shadows as the light diminishes and the sun disappears behind the horizon .
At sunrise, from the East Terrace, we are greeted by the playful chipmunks. The sun shines softly on the South Rim first. The mystery of the night is unveiled as the shades of blue turn slowly white and yellow with such an incredible luminosity. We feel grateful to live this magical moment: the dawn of a new day. Our bones warm up and shed the chill of the 45F since the “wake-up call” of our alarm clock! Unnecessary noises or rowdy crowds are nonexistent. They would not fit here. Like in all sacred places, one automatically tones down, almost whispers…
The moment I own
The Canyon I share
The mystery I love
The beauty I wonder
In its infinity
And vastness
I am

The lodgings consist of simple log cabins, and of course there is no television or radio anywhere. The food is excellent at the restaurant (continental and gourmet cuisine), and the service attentive. There is also a deli-café for those who want to grab a sandwich for their hike or enjoy a lighter and cheaper meal.
We saw little kids getting a Junior Ranger Certificate and we asked if grown-ups could also become Junior Ranger. So we learned the little booklet and took our oath with Ranger Nancy that evening, to my great joy!
I have stayed twice at this Grand Canyon Lodge and hope to go back again. When you leave this place, you may need a tissue in your pocket as you eyes will probably water! Thank you Teddy Roosevelt for making the Grand Canyon a National Park!

Domestic Apparition by Meg Tuite (A Review by Anna March)

Domestic Apparition by Meg Tuite (A Review by Anna March)

San Francisco Bay Press


Meg Tuite’s “Domestic Apparition” is sublime.

In this mosaic of tightly intertwined chapters that seamlessly join to form the novel, we meet Michelle, our narrator, whom we will not just come to root for, but to deeply care about in all her imperfections.

The novel is set deep in the human interior, and there we meet Michelle at age six and in reflected snippets, we travel with her the distance from her dark childhood in a seemingly normal family, through her hampered yet wild adolescence and into her early adulthood where in the midst of the soul-numbing crush of corporate America, an intimate human connection is finally made. We stay with Michelle while she learns to feel, to attach, to grieve. We watch her become human and it is tremendous to see – to feel — this adult hatchling come into her own and enter the world.

Along the way, Michelle shows us life from inside her tragic, sprawling, Catholic family while maintaining enough taut emotional distance to keep from becoming maudlin. We see her survive the abusive nuns at school, her raging father, and the misery of watching her mother disintegrate – while all the while she’s instructing us in the meticulous defenses people craft in order to survive. We meet a menagerie of relatives, friends, and colleagues – people coping with loss, rebelling against mistreatment, pushed to the margins by an uncaring world. Michelle is a realistic interpreter who does a majestic job of exploring the truths barnacled to the harsh underside of family life.

Tuite never allows Michelle to become precious or sentimental and renders Michelle’s life in painstakingly clear detail – replete with every horror. Tuite offers her readers the “static eye” which (she reminds us) truth requires “at the very least.” Sentences like this gem fill the novel:

“Every night my grandmother limps out of the liquor store with the submissive stoop of the genuflected and the promise of a liturgy to come in a bottle.” You will be transported by the glorious imagery on every page. How’s this for description? “His fabricated face, pliable in its chilling meteorological leaps and depths, ravaged over his features like a typhoon blasting through a village built on sticks.”

Michelle and her siblings emerge from the darkness of their childhoods with more than their fair share of psychic wounds. Yet in rendering her characters’ vulnerabilities — and invulnerabilities — Tuite touches our own humanity. The gift of Tuite’s searing prose leads us to want for Michelle and her family as they wrangle with themselves and the world. Neither Michelle nor Tuite flinch – darkness is made visible on the page.

The work is bursting with pain, with raucousness, with joy and, ultimately, heart. Michelle’s life pushes us all to feel our own truths, no matter how grim or painful they are. She reminds us that facing our own history and who we are as a result of it is the only way to be whole in this world, to be able to feel the deepest of joys, to not be hobbled by our own selves.

“Domestic Apparition” is stalwart. It transcends brave. It shreds you and then replenishes you — much as the world will. We are reminded of the impeccable Oscar Wilde quote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Meg Tuite takes us to the gutter with all its grime and then gently tilts our eyes to the skies. In her capable hands, we will indeed see the stars.


~Anna March is a writer from DC who now makes Rehoboth Beach, DE her home. Her work has appeared in Salon, Connotation Press and other publications. Her novel, “The Diary of Suzanne Frank”, is forthcoming. She can be reached at

This review first appeared in Pank Magazine.

Sneakers on the Wire

I’ve been looking at a fantastic book–YARN BOMBING–The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain. They have a sneakers on the wire pattern. To go with it, I thought I’d reblog my obsession with the same.

We took a nice walk under the moon, down by the river, which was dry. But cold air welled up out of its canyon and refreshed us. This neighborhood contains the edges of so many things–rich and poor, rural and urban, shabby and chic. Really mostly shabby, but my affection for it makes it charming in its details.
And as always walking back home I wondered: who threw that pair of tied together sneakers over the telephone wire. And why?
I asked around. A common response was: drugs, it signifies a drug house. Or–bullies stole them and tossed them up. Or–a party! Drunken revelry! Sports victory!
Then the practical–someone had time on his or her hands. And a pair of sneakers.
My friend Julia Deisler wrote them a tiny bit of homage:
‎”… under the moon and on winter nights when low-lying snow-laden clouds and reflective snow make their dangling silhouettes newly visible and mysterious (or something like that)”

But then Rich, my live in reference librarian, referred me to
A look at this site basically agrees–it might be drugs, turf, a party, bullying, etc. etc.
Mostly I just like that those sneakers are there. They dangle, a marker in the urbanscape that might or might not mean something. Someone else had suggested that maybe they were an art installation, like at SITE Santa Fe–perhaps a bit inadvertent.
Beauty is everywhere.
And that evening, walking home, I catch a glimpse through the laundromat window, of a man and a woman folding a large white sheet together.

Occupy Port Angeles from Miriam Bobkoff

Saturday, October 15, 2011
Occupy Report

There were people from AFL-CIO, Veterans for Peace, Green Party, MoveOn, can’t remember who else. One person with an anti-GMO food sign. One person with a sign against the Federal Reserve Bank. One of the un-speakers pointed out there was nobody from the county Democratic Party.
The un-organizers brought a lot of old movie posters to write signs on the back of, but at first had no markers. Someone came running with a handful of markers. Eventually I was able to make myself a sign that said “99% we are the people” on a folded-over poster. Later I decided my base message was the one I saw on several handmade signs: “Remove corporate influence from politics”, so I wrote that on the other folded half, and switched back and forth.
An eccentric dude in yellow trousers took the microphone twice. The second time he was singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. People sang along. The mad-as-the-devil woman read a statement she had written out beforehand. A couple about my age asked me how long I had been demonstrating. I checked my watch. “About 48 minutes,” I said. “That makes you senior to us, we got here half an hour ago” they said, and told me that they had never been to a demonstration before.
After standing by the park for an hour, waving signs at the traffic on Lincoln Street (which is US 101 at that point) we started marching and circled around downtown in about 30 minutes (it’s a small town), visiting various bank branches, politely stopping for red lights so we interfered with no traffic. Saw a couple of police cars, but their occupants not visible. They didn’t need to remind us, we were good about staying on the sidewalk. The front of the line chanted “We. Are. The 99 percent.” The back of the line with much louder voices was chanting “YOU. Are. The 99 percent.”
“This is my first demonstration,” said one young person to another as we were walking. “Same for me,” the other replied.