I’m Heading Out Again

into an unknown adventure. These last few weeks have truly been my autumn walkabout. I’m off to an Art Loves Science program in Ottawa, studying the microscopic.
My heavy suitcase contains some actual necessities–power bars, toiletries–and my own true essentials–a lot of my favorite cute funky clothes. I can’t concentrate if I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes. I could probably get by on jeans and sweaters but I don’t wear jeans. Even if I’m totally alone I need to dress a certain way. Even if I’m looking into a microscope.
Last winter in Japan and last week in Nebraska I feel I perfected my look–little skirt, bright tights, clashing socks, gold sneakers, big earrings, square hat, purple coat. I project amusing old lady, I hope.
At Agate National Monument in Nebraska I was teaching 70 school kids poetry and suminagashi. “Are you the artist?” some teachers asked. How did they know? Maybe my bright red plastic sunglasses with rhinestones?
I’m out and about. I’m in the world. I’m headed for Medicare (yay!) and for grandmotherhood (double yay!). I’m not invisible, yet I am not wholly seen.
But I know I’m here.

Poetry Can Be Found in Everything

Poetry can be found in everything — the light, the air, the sounds of the city around you. Now, visitors to Manhattan’s Riverside Park will have the chance to explore poetry in a whole new way, thanks to “Viewfinding” – a large-scale public sculpture created by Brooklyn-based artist Sarah E. Brook that features the work of 26 LGBTQ poets. The sculpture will be up until August 2019, and there will also be a reading by the featured poets at the sculpture site on September 22 at 2 p.m. ET.

“Part of what I am aiming to do in the sculpture… is to create these invitations for viewers to seek alignment, and seek their own resonant positions relative to the work and to the landscape,” Brook tells Bustle. “For me, the process of positioning myself in a way that allows me to align certain colors or certain structures in a piece with certain elements of the landscape or the light is a very, very, very grounding and affirming process, and feels related to taking resonant expressions of identity and experiences of embodied identity, particularly related to queer and gender identity. So, ‘Viewfinding’ refers to kind of that process… Like, me seeking my own view, my own position, relative to this work.”

Haiku & Photograph by Ursula Moeller

wild cowpen daisies
fragrant, crowd the wild field
egg-yolk yellow

masses of golden flowers
hide prairie-dog holes
sentries peek through

playground swings and slide
frame fragrant flower field
kids shriek with laughter

beneath cottonwood
memories, Death Valley blooms
once a hundred years 

black waistcoat, midnight trousers
shiny iridescent tail

smell of pink erasers
shorter days
that time of year again

Home Again Home Again

I’m home–where the heart is, where Rich certainly is, and all my underwear and earrings. Where I have an opinion about every little thing. The red impatiens are still blooming! And, fuck, looks like the skunks are back. What a comfy writing space. And what funky kitchen cabinets…”somebody” should really replace them.
I had two weeks as the artist in residence at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska. Amazing fun, of the Zen writing sort. Golden sunrise. Hail storm. Giant rainbow. Whisk you off to Oz storm clouds. Each day pretty much my own. Wake up, get coffee, sit in the kitchen alcove and look out…out out out…prairie, some soft buttes and bluffs. Wonder about what 20 million years means. Think about horses the size of cats and mammoth fossils. Drive three hours round trip to eat in a cafe and look at Native American beadwork. Drive two hours round trip to the excitement of Walmart.
Dinner party with Japanese food and rangers. Be even more impressed by park rangers–their dedication to science, ecology, community, and learning. Spend a rainy day with a herbarium of prairie grasses. Read about Native American views on fossils. Read about Laura Ingalls Wilder and all the lies that lured settlers to a place where there has never been enough water. Think about John Wesley Powell warning about this, and how the government continued to lie.
Walk. Stop. Feel everything swirl around me. Micromanage my loneliness and homesickness. Listen to the resident ghost in house 1 bang about. Enjoy being able to do laundry. Hang out with the kids living in the trailer across the “street.” Stand stunned as a cattle drive comes through.
Teach 70 kids writing and suminagahi on “weather day” field trip. Watch presentations on clouds made of ever fluffy cotton balls. Look at their faces and imagine them as grown-ups. Do a youtube interview. Write twenty-two poems and like all of them. Fail to meditate daily or to get more than forty-five minutes of mild exercise a day. Neglect to work on a novel. Talk to myself in the car and worry about everything I’m worried about. Pray. Fight with the rental car agency. Watch all of the new “Dynasty.”
Be unembarrassed by who I am because the prairie inspires that.

Blue Window: Poem & Photograph by Miriam Sagan

a blue window
seen from mine
in the old hotel

slick streets beneath
a stuttering street lamp

it’s been many years
since I looked out
at rooms above mine

that particular
feeling—a hot springs town
in rain

you gave me a gift
hidden within the ordinary

a cafe life
small waterfall
Lakota star quilt

hiding in plain sight
a flicker
of the ineffable

taste or scent
of spring in autumn

curtain pulled back
light spilling

I Heard This Story Told For True Yesterday in Wind Cave, SD


the girl vanishes
from the cave—
from her partner,
she falls into a crevice
is rescued
thirty hours later

she’s been singing—
when they find her
she is belting the last verse
of “All Along
the Watchtower”
for the hundredth or more time

not everyone
knows enough lyrics
to survive
solitary confinement
but I do—
for hours south on 71
South Dakota to Nebraska
I’ve been singing
“Boys and Girls Together”
and “The Cape Cod girls
they have no combs”

besides the moon
that was the first thing
I ever noticed was beautiful,
these words:
“They comb their hair
with codfish bones”

I’m just in the cave
for an hour,
in total darkness
for the few minutes
the Park Service allows—
Boxite calcite
a crust
of sparkling crystals
and every song a song of the sea
that left so long ago.