ESL Bubbe

G. is almost 21/2, and talkative. We don’t always understand, but recently I heard her have a rather complete conversation with her dad, Tim. It is partially that they are close, and share an interest in his work–excavation.

Tim: I’ve been cleaning out my parents’ yard while they’re away. Took up a lot of sand.

G. Pop John’s?

Tim: Yes, at his house.

G. Mud?

Tim: There’s caliche mud under the sand. Working on that too.

G. MY sand? (with the worried look of a home owner).

Tim: I haven’t touched your sand or the playground, don’t worry.

Work is a big topic, as she lives on a family ranch with numerous businesses. She hates it when her mom Isabel and I retreat for our weekly studio date, but we do need to focus.

Tim: Does bubbe (that’s me!) work?

G.: With mom.

Tim: Alone?

G. No. (I never so much as take a phone call or check my email when we are together. I’m hers).

Tim: So what does Bubbe do?

G.: Talk.

Poetry In Public Places

From the Poetry in Public Places FB page.

Always interested in these, as I’m curating ten poetry posts on SFCC campus.

There’s a new poetry box in town! In fact, there’s a growing chain of them, courtesy of The Main Street Poetry Box Project, in California.
The Project is the brainchild of poetry lover Gary Maes, who is building and siting the boxes in and around Kelseyville. “But these boxes are just the beginning of the project,” says The Bloom, a county news source.
“[Lake County Poet Laureate] Georgina Marie, with funds from an American Academy of Poets grant, will be working with Gary to install boxes throughout the county. ‘My goal is to have public poetry in every community in Lake County, including the tribal communities,’ she says. ‘I’m also working on creating tiny poetry libraries and poetry murals. I want to make poetry more accessible to all.’
Way to go, Lake County, California, for supporting this progressive effort to proliferate public poetry!

Haibun by Mary Sherman


Sitting comfy in a warm bath while 2000 miles west, the lands are on fire.
Outside, strong winds bring scent of smoke and skies of gray. There is collective experience happening. We are interdependent. Later still, eyes scratchy, throat parched and dry. The hummingbirds have drank nearly half the water in their bottle. Are they thirsty from the smoke filled air as well? I go through my own checklist in case of an emergency evacuation. Where’s the cat carrier? Should I buy a smaller one? Can I grab everything quickly for Cooper (food, bowls, leash)? What do I take with? Make a list. Only the essentials. What is of most importance. Has value. I am part of the trauma whether “living in it” or thousands of miles away. 

Feeling the density of fear.
Who has time to mourn?

Throat scratches from smoke
Fire releases emotions
Hummingbirds new thirsty too

Deliver Us: Sculpture by James Gould

This was up temporarily in the Railyard Park. I hope it finds a more ongoing home, as I missed the chance to see it!

The artist says:

The laundry hamper was found abandoned in an acequia within the City of Santa Fe among other articles in various stages of usefulness. It stood untouched for several days before being adopted for a chance at a new life within a work of sculpture. A lifetime of nurturing creative intuition served up a vision for a large, playful adaptation with tall hoops and long wings. The inspirational gift came with the title, Deliver Us.

A working knowledge of craft and structure contributed to realizing the vision. Dedicated persistence saw it through with time spent milling wood, shaping parts, fabricating delicate bent laminations and negotiating hardware fittings. Finishing treatments were applied in harmony with the bin’s framework.

Quests born of dreams often employ the inventive use of materials. The Wright Brothers conjured flight from a bicycle shop. Pioneers set out in covered wagons with wood spoked wheels and other trappings for an overland journey. Longing can result in something tangible. Hot air balloons take a certain form as do some insects among us. Lacey wings. Bulbous heads. Long tentacles. Multiple feet. Nature evolves forms. Workmanship can also give form to what is imagined.

An enigmatic creation can summon familiar comparisons, call up a smile and spark links to other thoughts and feelings. For some, an ambiguous mystery is also welcome on its own terms. A clear, definitive explanation is sometimes best left unattended.

Deliver Us
completed in 2021
19’ 10” W, 13’ 5” H, 3’ D
domestic hard and soft wood, metal hardware, found object
James Gould Santa Fe, New Mexico

Poem after Jay Defeo by Miriam Sagan

In a lecture on women and abstract expressionism I learned about Jay Defeo, and her massive piece The Rose.

I’m often inspired to write about art. This isn’t directly ekphrasis.

A History of Syntax

I am born
into a vanishing world

blue horses have already
disappeared over the ridge

and shapes replicate both
themselves and a feeling of unease

the past with its great forest and wolves
exists only as the remnant of a tale

it is not a woman wearing a hat
or even a vase of flowers

but how you feel
about the mushroom cloud’s appearance

panic, regret, revenge, awe
repeating outside of narrative

the painter crashes into a tree
killing the women passengers

a woman starts to stain the canvas
hue diluted by turpentine

like me diluted by you
or chaos with a smidgen of relief

is it getting hot in here
or is it just…me?

Going North by Conchita De Luto Part 2

“Hello!” He heard Julia Medina’s raspy voice.
He opened the door.
“Hello, Julia.”
“Is that you Mando?”
“Yes, how are you? You look good.” He said.
“Yeah, sure, liar. You look good too. What brings you to Vegas?”
“Ah, just came to check on the place, you know. For old time’ sake.”
“Well, it’s still here. We keep an eye on it. Someone ripped the back door off, as you saw. I called Mario to come and board it up, but he hasn’t gotten around to it.”
“The house looks pretty good, Julia.”
“Well, it’s a sweet old place, Armando. Lots of good things happened here. It just needs some love.”
“We should just sell it, no?”Armando said.
“No one wants to live in Vegas, anymore.” Julia said.
“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Armando said.
“Really? You coming back?”
“Oh, I couldn’t come back.”
“Well maybe after you retire. You never know, right?”
“Funny you should say that…” Armando said looking at his mother’s friend, who didn’t look any older than the last time he saw her five years before.
“Bueno, pues, I gotta go. You know we’ve been lucky the place hasn’t been trashed. We had some cabrones from town coming over here to party for a while, but we called the sheriff and they’ve stayed away after a few tries. Just a place to party and all that. You know kids. Bored, drunk, stupid.”
She stared at him from head to foot. “How long you be around?”
“Not long. I’m leaving today. I was just too tired to drive back to Burque, last night so I spent the night.”
“You, okay?” She motioned towards the sleeping bag with her chin.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” He said.
“Bueno, let me know if you need anything. I’m always around.”
“Thanks, Julia. Really.”
Julia turned and walked down the porch steps. Armando went back inside.
When he got inside the house and closed the door, he noticed how still the morning was. He felt unsettled, like he should have said something else to Julia before she left.
“God,” he thought, “I should have been more polite, or asked her more about the house.” Now he felt guilty and weird. He went to the door and opened it to call out to her, but she was gone. There was no car anywhere and he thought that maybe it was because she didn’t bother to maneuver the heavy metal gate that he had moved yesterday, but when he took another look, he saw that he had not blocked the passage. He took the gate out of the way and left it there. There was no trace of Julia.
Armando walked into the kitchen. Even the kitchen cabinets, old as they were, were still in intact. The old gas stove was where it had always been. Looking out the kitchen window he could see that the propane tank was still there too. He looked down at the linoleum floor and noticed his footprints in the thick layer of dust. Were those his footprints? He looked at the sole of his boots. Yes, those were his prints, but nothing else? No other trace of what or who had escaped out of the house when he showed up?
He scratched his head. He shrugged. “Whatever,” he said again under his breath. “I talk to myself now, goddam it,” he said.
He was hungry and needed coffee. Had he been nicer to Julia, she might have asked if she could get him some coffee or invite him up to the house. He was so weird she got creeped out and left. She probably heard his tirade and the smashing of his water bottle against the wall.
With coffee on his mind, he got into his Explorer and drove into town. The Spic and Span was still there, like it had always been. He ordered black coffee and huevos rancheros, with both red and green chile.
“Christmas,” the waitress said.
“Christmas,” he repeated.
The huevos did not disappoint. “Why can’t they make chile like this in Burque?” He asked himself and sopped up the rest of the sauce with the sopapilla.
A middle-aged man with a beer belly wearing a black felt cowboy hat stood silently by his side until Armando looked up.
“Hey, Bro!” the man said. “Where you been?”
“Mario,” Armando said, recognizing Julia’s brother. “Long time no see, man.”
“I know, Mano. It’s been a while. Still at the lab?”
“Just retired,” Armando said.
“Really? Lucky! I’m never going to retire. I’m going to die working on some pinche house or another.”
Armando smiled and motioned Mario to sit down.
“So, I just saw Julia this morning,” Armando said.
“Julia? Are you kidding? Julia’s dead, Bro. She died last year.”
“What? I swear she came by to see me this morning.”
“Well, I don’t know what to tell you, man, but my sister Julia is dead.”
Armando raised his eyebrows.
“It was Violet, my niece. She looks a lot like her mom. Spitting image.”
Armando stared. “I called her Julia. I’m sure of it. Several times. She didn’t correct me.
“She’s shy.”
“She said she called you about the back door. Someone ripped it out.”
“That was Violet, Bro. You just got confused.”
“It’s possible, man. Anything is possible right now.” Armando said running his hand through his hair.
“You, okay, man?”
“Yeah, sure.” Armando said. “Just some marriage problems, you know. It was a long time coming but here it is now.”
“I’m sorry man. It’s a drag. I’ve been divorced 3 times.” Mario broke out into a sinister cackle.
Armando grimaced. “My first.”
“You’ll get over it.”
“No doubt.”
“So how long you around for?” Mario asked.
“I was leaving today but maybe I’ll stick around, fix the door, you know, see what else the old place needs.”
“I’ll be by to board up the door today, if you want.” Mario said.
“You know what? Let me take care of it.” Armando said. “Might as well put myself to good use.”
“You got tools, Mando?”
“Good point.”
“I’ll bring some by later.” Mario said.
“Okay, I appreciate it, Mario. It is Mario, right?”
Mario laughed, “Yeah, Bro. It’s Mario, but my sister’s still dead.”
Armando threw his head back and chuckled. When Mario walked out of the restaurant, Armando’s fingers felt as cold as ice.
“I must be going nuts,” he said to himself. “I am sure that was Julia.”
He went down to the market and bought a loaf of bread, instant coffee, some bologna and cheese, oranges and a bottle of whiskey. He then called Adobe Propane and asked them to deliver some gas.

When Armando drove back down the road and passed through the broken gate, he rolled down his window to take a deep breath. The crisp Northern New Mexico air was filled with the scent of a piñon fire and it smelled like home.