Reading Selene’s Essay
When My Father Died

July 18th, 2018

For Mad Max

Reading Selene’s essay when my father died
a self-confessed father-loather, father-broken,
I didn’t feel him pass. No whispers, chills or visions.
Her words carried no parting words from him
except perhaps, in a story she told
on the first day of class with no hint of known patricide:
I was named for the goddess of the moon.
Selene, daughter of Hyperion, the High One.

Often, a girl’s significance, outer & inner, is born
of her father’s mess. Hyperion—son of Gaia & Ouranos
(Earth & Sky)—one of twelve Titan children
who, encouraged by Earth’s child-loyal vengeance
and led by Cronus (Time), overthrew their father.
Only Oceanus cried as Time castrated Sky, tossed
his genitals into the sea. From their foam sprang Love
& other things. Aphrodite rising on a half shell.

The over-throwers were, of course, later overthrown
by their own brood. Let it be a lesson unto you who kill
your fathers with this belief: others’ truths of him are lies.
Bury him whole. Name his fathers. Your sons, daughters,
too, one day may spring from a sea of your half-told life.
Perhaps half-grown their love of you will wax & wane
like sideline Selene who soon lost her name, a moon
of memory swelling and undressing tides of grief.


Faint Station

June 23rd, 2018

“…on blood antenna / and dust radio”
~Chris Whitley

for D.D.

On those days
static leans hard
on either side of me,
I’m a song
I no longer hear.
You hold me
in the kitchen,
a dial tuning in
to a sliver. Listen,
this is a faint station.
Never out of range,
you always find it.


With thanks to William Stafford, Chris Whitley, and Pete Anderson for the writing exercise.

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.


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 divorce
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.


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.


Rufous-Sided Towhee

June 3rd, 2018

“Eastern and Spotted Towhee have each been restored to full species status; formerly considered one species, Rufous-sided Towhee. The two interbreed along rivers in the Great Plains, particularly the Platte and its tributaries.” ~ National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 3rd edition

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 sex slang and a rapper’s name. 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 inside. Like tiny Pluto of my lost youth, someone decides to reclassify a planet, a species, and the world accepts a new truth. 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.


On Slowing

May 26th, 2018

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


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.



May 6th, 2018

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


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.


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.


Before Dementia Steals Him

April 19th, 2018

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


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.


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.)