June 21: Join us for a reading at the Lithic Bookstore in Fruita, Colorado

June 19th, 2018

Lithic Bookstore Poster for june 2018 reading

ABOUT RACHEL KELLUM — Poet, artist and teacher Rachel Kellum lives at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Her passion is to help people of all ages live artfully and mindfully. Rachel has taught English, literature, and the humanities at Morgan Community College, where she also directed the Gallery of Fine Arts.

ABOUT PETE ANDERSON — In his books and in his life, poet, editor, teacher, and adventurer, Pete Anderson explores the ecology of story, spirit, landscape, parenting, and the cultural eccentricities of the American West. He teaches at Adams State College in Alamosa. Writing, he says, is about making a home: in the high desert, in the world of ideas, and in the great mystery of it all.

ABOUT LAURIE JAMES — Laurie James lives on a hill of sand with a pocket gopher, eighteen salamanders, and herds of well-fed birds. She can be found in Salida, picking up twigs on the edge of eternity. She’s performed with The River City Nomads for many years, and co-founded Sparrows, the Salida Poetry Festival.

ABOUT WENDY VIDELOCK — Wendy Videlock’s poems have appeared several times in Poetry Magazine, Best American Poetry, Hopkins Review, The New York Times, The New Criterion, Quadrant, The Dark Horse, Rattle, and other literary journals. Her books are available from Able Muse Press and other book outlets. Wendy is also a visual artist, and her paintings are featured in several Colorado art galleries, among them:The Blue Pig Gallery, Working Artists Gallery, and Willow Creek.

The Big Picture

June 17th, 2018

exquisite corpse

Man Ray, Yves Tanguy,
Joan Miró, Max Morise,
you architects
of exquisite corpse,
bring a woman in,
dream the Siamese kiss.

You four men cannot
deny the yin of orifice,
the phallic sticks
of dynamite, pistols spraying.
Mark it, baby! Come and piss!
State of the art!

Only Miró dropped
the obvious violence—
beneath the body of sex
and death he gave us dust,
creature, appendage,
a lit match, the vague line.

The monster sits
on the back of a man,
dead or simply
fallen with the weight
of his side
of the binary.

Blind to design, men love
to pass sketched paper
hand to hand,
pass land and women
like pieces of folded power.
A game! Art of the state!

Layer by layer they build
upon fragments
of other men’s clues, desire
daring us: unfold this mess,
marvel at our artifice,
our clever disaster.

2017/2018

Forgetting Father’s Day

June 17th, 2018

Today, by noon, your boys
so far have forgotten Father’s Day.
Divorced ten years, their dad
doesn’t want you to remind them.
Backspace the text you started
each carefully chosen word at a time.
In the most despicable way,
you feel better about the year
they forgot Mother’s Day
and he didn’t remind them.
Admit it. You cried. You were glad
they felt badly when they realized
their mistake. But why care?
It’s a stupid Hallmark holiday.
Still, forgetting is pudding proof
they don’t have a clue how hard
being a parent is— infant fevers,
public displays of tangled toddler hair,
dripping snot, the sibling punch,
the teacher’s heartless taunt,
the constant sense of impending… what?
(don’t say or even think it)
with every unexcused absence,
below-average English grade,
the social judgment for every ripped knee
or t-shirt stain, the gnawing guilt
of making time or love or a life
for yourself outside of what’s for dinner,
the fear that any self care you steal
is directly related to why
your child will need therapy
in a decade or two or five,
when they decide to get a divorce
from a wife too little or too like you.
What will they write or say someday,
these children who forget you,
remember your crimes before the good.
With sheepish shame, you look forward
to the stupid holiday, the stupid card
(hopefully homemade with a cut-out heart,
no matter their age), the one day and way
you know they have at least been taught
to enact the performance of gratitude
for you, for their existence and the chance
to grapple with the art of living
on a boat floating on the sea of death.
They and the day are still young.
You are not. Their father waits.
Neither of you hold your breath.

2018

Daily Desert Rain

June 15th, 2018

For Rosemerry

Appropriately shaped and named,
staked irrigation wands
shower parasols of homemade rain
over gnarled, crisp leaves of tiger lilies,
magically resurrecting green blades
I had counted as lost
for having begun watering so late.
Brown needles, the carpet of piñon trees,
sprout stalks of green mystery, like fate.
Everything that needs water,
my darling, patiently waits.

2018

Rufous-Sided Towhee

June 3rd, 2018

Until recently the Eastern and Spotted were once considered a single species (Rufous-sided) but not any longer. ~Wild Bird Watching.com

Chub chub zee, the bird says, while I dig grass out of garden mornings. Chub chub zee.  I know at once I once knew the bird’s name. I wait days for it to come. Too far gone. Google offers only slang and a rapper. Finally, I text my boys’ father who taught me its song twenty years ago when we were in love. What bird says Chub chub zee? Spotted Towhee, he texts back, Remember them in Escalante? I do not. They have a red eye! And later, when Grace stops by to help me identify a weed, she explains the bird used to be called Rufous-Sided Towhee. Yes, that’s it! The bell rings. “It’s too bad,” she ponders, “it was more fun to say.”  A sadness flies in me. Like tiny Pluto of my lost youth, someone decides to reclassify a planet, a species, and the world accepts a new name. Publishers update field guides, birders comply, but Spotted Towhee will never ring in me. “Drink your tea,” Grace says the bird sings, or simply, “Drink tea,” but it isn’t her voice. It is his, drawing out and trilling “tea,” and our boys’ high-pitched throats in mimicry, giggling. Memory opens like morning sky. I mourn the Rufous-Sided Towhee.

2018

On Slowing

May 26th, 2018

If you must go
from here to there
in a straight line,
incorporate a curve.
Another. A third.

2018

They Lived

May 13th, 2018

My tiny Pisces mother gave four
hearts to walk the earth, and we gave six
but know we all gave more.

Ill-timed, ill-formed, ill-born—life is short.
They swam only in our darknesses,
wilted on the wet lip of the door.

But earth is just a shore.
A life is loved and lived in tender kicks,
the secret kisses of a pink seahorse.

2018

Folding

May 6th, 2018

Folding his huge clothes,
My heart handles
Cotton altar cloths.

2018

Feeding My Father

April 21st, 2018

in our age or in theirs or in their deaths
saying it to them or not saying it –
if we forgive our fathers what is left
~excerpt from “forgiving our fathers,” by Dick Lourie

When Lewy
bodies in his brain
locked his arm midair,
I lifted the forkful
of eggs to his open lips.
My mouth opened too,
the way mothers’ mouths do
while feeding their infants.
The unexpected gift—
I found the truth: gaping.
I finally forgave him
for forgiving himself
for everything he did
and could not do.

2018

Touché:
A High School Teacher’s Sonnet

April 20th, 2018

For Derek

The sonnet makes so many students groan
As if I’ve offered them a bowl of mud
If they were cats, the sonnet’s a dog bone.
No love of artful language fuels their blood.
Shakespeare’s long dead, no use to their rich lives
Of spending every minute on the phone.
“Off and away,” I say; their eyes are knives,
Perhaps the tiny screen is their hearts’ home.
I get it—know the small black mirror’s lure,
The raunchy memes, the vines, the sexy text!
But still, such techno banter is manure
In which to sprout a bard’s mind, so complex.
Groan as they may until the couplet’s done,
Some even say they had a little fun.

2018

Before Dementia Steals Him

April 19th, 2018

Dad gives me this:
Please remember
If I ever forget you,
I will never forget you.

2018

On the Cusp of Voluntary Economic Uncertainty in 2017

April 18th, 2018

Money auto-deposits monthly.
After years of milk-struggle,
Salary freeze, and now, slow gains,
Finally, a small measure of security.
Why would I give up
Living small and safe on the plains
For a new people and place.

I’m not rich but
I can over-tip.
I can buy art.
I can save for braces.
I can fear loss of comfort.
I can remember something
I used to know about being poor.

Magic was free.
Rooms of grandma’s furniture, free.
The forgiven land loan, free.
The majesty of Friday night pizza,
The sound of a generator powering
A VHS movie on a mountaintop
For my two kids, nearly free.

Poverty gave me preciousness.
That power is gone.
Now, sickened by
My own miserly arrogance,
I recall once knowing
That not even a president
Could rob me of peace.
Like a hermit in a cell, I was free.

2018

A Well-Built Home

April 17th, 2018

To provide an illustration of her well-built home,
My new friend– tall, lean, salt and pepper hair,

An early Harvard girl when Harvard girls were rare,
Said she likes to hop up and down in the shower

And shake off water before stepping out into the towel.
Her husband of over forty years brought it to her attention:

Have you noted the house doesn’t shake, he lightly mentioned,
When you jump in the shower? (Her story in me–a rhizome.)

2018

Tantra

April 16th, 2018

On a morning when I hunch
In the shower under the weight
Of the paperwork of the day,
Of the week, month and years,
Sidpai Gyalmo comes to my face.
Her vicious wily smile, lip corners
Curling over teeth needle sharp,
Tongue stretched out long
And pointed like a rock star,
Eyes wide and insane with will
To look upon a world that ignores
Our need for safety, comfort.
She rides on, black mule too small
For her size but vast, wearing skulls
Of worry around her neck,
Perched on the skin of the corpse
Of her ego, her own very real
Impending death, and I give it a try.
I put on her face, crazy eyes,
Pointed tongue, exposed teeth
Water dripping like a baptism
Down our blue body and I am
Laughing at my courage to be silly,
To face this terrible world with
Its bombs and petty bureaucracy,
Its cemeteries, beds and kisses
With completely ridiculous fearlessness.

2018

Witness

April 15th, 2018

Grandpa’s final breath
Found its way into the lungs
Of my quiet son

2018