Thursday, July 17, 2014

Misty, Watercolor Memories




There’s no accounting for memories.

That’s what popped into my head as I was reading a story in Jim Ray Daniel’s new collection Eight Mile High. Teenage boys in the 60s, hanging out, pawing a stolen issue of Playboy magazine. All of a sudden I remembered being with my West Virginia childhood girlfriend Debbie in her house, up on a step stool, peering into a cupboard over the closet in her parents’ bedroom. She’d wanted to show me her discovery: Her dad’s stack of Playboys, which sent us into a gusher of titters like the typical innocent seven-year-olds we were. The town’s preeminent dentist of all people. Into girlie mags. WTF?

And so the thought occurred to me: There’s no accounting for memories. You just have to take the oddball zingers with the predictable zappers, sunsets on Lake Ontario, for example. Or lean into the curve of the imagination via the above image of Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Mountain Road,”and let it take you to New Mexican landscapes.

Now I’m sitting at my desk in the library I wrote about in my last post, burning some not-quite midnight oil wondering what memories will pop into my head years from now, ones about this house. Will I remember the porn flicks stashed in our soon-to-be-cleared-out garage storage loft. Ones Roger and I used to watch now destined for the trash come Saturday when my friends Mark and Colleen are here, helping us to clear out all that junk stashed overhead?

Will I remember our day of camaraderie at some point in the distant future when I’ve been dozing in my easy chair, feet up, having had a full-blown crone’s afternoon snooze?

I hope so. That’s a day I want to remember years from now.  Hence, a poetic mnemonic device:

Preparing for M Day


enemy house of mine
I speak in the short term in terms
of conquering your loft space

behind the plywood door
seven stealthy ladder steps up
where your forces have amassed detritus

over the dusty long term     
I use the term deploy
marshaling my own troupes

two friends     one long-term
another becoming thus 
I employ two terms in one phrase:

I wage war
on the storage area
above your garage

where for twenty-six years
godknowswhat lurks
a catchall term I coin for: 

plastic port-a-potty (long-term)
VHS porno tapes
humpback trunk stuffed

with old bedding
and twelve-by-twelve tent (short-term)
Barbie dolls in their Barbie wardrobe

my marketing-career portfolio
and a dozen or more originally packaged boxes
of West Virginia Specialty Glass Company

hand-blown stemware     pitchers      salad plates
tumblers     a candy dish or two (very long-term)
My army will rout it all out 

What match are memories sealed and labeled
for a domestic Sun Tzu
preparing for M Day

with her loyal lieutenants
Block and Powderly
and husband Weir bringing up

the rear according to strategic maneuvers
body-bagged junk to the curb
donations to the car

prisoners of my hoarded memories
to the southeast corner by the door 
At the end of the day’s battle

I will be able to say
in no uncertain terms
I love you     my enemy     my house 


***

Getting back to that business of goofy memories that can pop up at the oddest times. There’s always the possibility that I will also recall astonishment – the astonishment of Dewey, the septic system man, who had never heard this one before: in the 26 years that I’ve lived here, 19 of them with my Roger, we have never had our tank pumped.  Twenty-six years, no problem. No apparent need to call in a professional shit-sucker. Not broken, don’t fix. But, New York State Law requires sellers to empty the pot and have it certified functional. He’s coming tomorrow to get the stink out.  It’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. I must remember to take pictures.  (And sprinkle a little bit of my brother’s bone dust into the slurry.)



*** 



We have gone away from here many, many times but this house has for so very long been the home we come home to, as we did in June, returning from our two weeks in Taos, happy to have been in our little home-away-from-home at Casa Encantada, and to have had the privilege to walk among the old adobe homes of Taos Pueblo. Two weeks of warm, bright days and cool nights in our love nest in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in a sage desert along the gorge of the Rio Grande. O’Keeffe country.  Lawrence country. Our country for many years now, a dozen or more trips west to northern New Mexico and home again. So many years we have brought memories of Taos back with us in our hearts to live with us by the lake in our home-home.

I realize tonight also that this will also be the home we return to from our forthcoming adventure to Scotland, Paris, and Germany’s Black Forest, departing July 26 for 18 days 14. Our first time in Europe together.  A welcomed vacation from sorting, packing, hauling. But a sobering thought occurs to me: this will be the last time we return from a journey to our lake home. Big sigh.

If you want to follow the Scotland portion of our adventure, go to Lindblad Expeditions’ Highlands Cruise on the Lord of the Glen: http://www.expeditions.com/destinations/scotland/ There’s a link on the page to “Daily Expedition Reports.” The crew will be posting those during our adventure, July 29-August 9.

Meanwhile, thank you for being with me at home and abroad these past seven years. The saga will continue at the same desk on the same laptop if from a different library, a new home where you can join me, I would hope, in setting down stakes. Meanwhile, this post will serve as a memory booster of the time I last spoke to you from Edrose Shores. Au revoir.

***  

Finally, as usual, I leave you good people the opportunity to do some further reading if you’re so inclined:

·         You might get a chuckle out of my poem in the new issue of The Homestead Review; thanks to editor Jennifer Felluth for publishing “Imagine a Holy-Roller Hyphen Revival First-Hand.” Go to: http://www.hartnell.edu/homestead_review/Spring_2014/merrifield.pdf
·         I was tickled pink that editor Nathan Hondros at Regime Magazine in Australia gave the light of day to “Aubade in Nine Amphribrachs.” It’s from my collection When the Night Is Slow: Poems après Leonard Cohen, now off being eyeballed by a publisher. Find my Regime poem at: http://www.regimebooks.com.au/regime04/
·         My thanks to Roberta Hill, editor, and Michael McDermott, editor/publisher at About Place Journal. The new issue, “Enlightened Visions in the Wake of Trauma” is a breathtaking, passionate call to action on behalf of our home planet. You’ll find my poem at http://aboutplacejournal.org/enlightened-visions/s3-iii-i/Karla-Merrifield-iii-i/ 


Friday, May 23, 2014

Library Footnote



Welcome into the library at 15945 Edrose Shores, my cubbyhole of books within a house of books, 390 or so linear feet of them that are soon to be packed up and moved 19 miles to a new home in Brockport, NY. And with them the tchotckes; I dare not count the countless delicate tchotckes (14 turtle totems alone) that will need the most careful packing.  For, alas, my days in this space are numbered.

The view in the photograph is northward toward the Lake Ontario shoreline; Great Spirit Manitou lies but 60 feet on the far side of these poetry shelves.

To the left, a bookcase that is all Heyen (and some office supplies). The vintage portable typewriter (1930s) holds a couple dozen Bill’s Poemlet Press poems, illustrated, tucked into plastic sleeves.  A rooster peeks out from the largest one, its poem verso.  Artifacts of a friend, a beloved mentor, and a man who should be Poet Laureate of this country. The US needs him. But I digress, drifting into hero land.

Back in the here and now: The photograph is an outtake from a folder of archival shots, done with an eye on content rather than artfulness. Zoom in and I can read titles on the spines. With no visual assistance I can make out Poe, Snyder, Service, Frost, Tennyson, Clifton, Piercy.
  
In reciting their names, I recall that I’ve written several five? six? —poems about this cocoon within the chambers of my mind, a mere handful from among dozens and dozens I’ve written herein on dozens of far more far-reaching subjects.  Here’s one "library poem"; it’s from an unpublished (as of yet) collection, Virus in the Song, my book of “bro poems”, my ensemble of "little griefs:"


Going for the House Beautiful Aesthetic


I say it’s what happens, like
when you refurnish, say, a library
if you’re the sort of snooty woman
who has a room she calls a library,
&, like, the pricey new carpet
she imagines is ultra-rich blood red
& above it like a kind of Bible, her obese
dictionary, not that a Bible would be found
anywhere near this particular pagan temple,
of volumes & volumes (all of William Heyen’s
in one bookcase all to themselves),
& like  she’s done this kinda remodeling job
with oh-so-prissily arranged
pine cones, sea urchins, a turtle shell—
and, ohmygod, her brother’s bone dust.
I forget the words behind it.

***

Move your eyes around the room to a chair, desk, printer, laptop, that is, my work station extraordinaire, complete with morning light and (off-camera) hummingbirds at the feeder three feet from my seat. I must have a half-dozen bird poems set in the library.  Plus a few computer poems, a couple of printer poems, too, that plunk the reader down in situ.  Both old typewriters shown here, in fact, inhabit some poems. (I pause here to ask myself: Is there a chapbook lurking in all those pages of library souvenirs?)

Then there’s this, invisible to the naked eye: All my books have been born here.  All of them. (Although not pictured here, they have a shelf unto their own. Documented in my archival photo album.) Several more have been conceived here and are now in utero. Quintuplets, I believe, that will be born elsewhere in a library to be determined.

It is a “big grief” to contemplate leaving this world behind. But it is time.

Meanwhile, Roger and I will be off in June to Taos, NM, for a couple weeks’ vacation from the buying-selling house whirlwind. The library will get some rest while I’m away. Spiders will keep an eye out on a trillion words.

Happy holiday weekend,

Karla

***

For further reading, you may want to follow the links to:

·         A poem of mine that was recently published in Your Daily Poem - http://www.yourdailypoem.com/listpoem.jsp?poem_id=1794 – thank you to editor Jayne Jaudon Ferrer.
·         What a delight to have a poem appear in Bare Root Review ‘s new issue, which you can read at: http://www.smsu.edu/barerootreview/17merrifield.html.  Many thanks to editors Daniel Kilkelly and Tyson Tofte.
·         I am very proud to have had the honor to be part of Orion Magazine’s  “The Growing Season.” a poetry exchange project this spring that brought together collaborative pairs of poets. My partner was Jennifer Burd, author of Body and Echo, a fabulous collection of poems on nature and the human condition. For more about Jennifer, see http://redroom.com/member/jennifer-j-burd; to read one of our collaborative responses to Orion’s “growing season challenge,” see http://orionmagazine.tumblr.com/post/85840542933/poetry-exchange-jennifer-burd-and-karla-linn
·         And, saving the best for last, here’s a photograph of my poem “Step Right Up, which was displayed at Everglades National Park’s Coe Visitor Center in  April 2014; it’ll return again next April! My efforts during my artist-in-residency at the park continue to reap rewards for me…and the park’s visitors.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Glowing Season



Duck, duck, take cover -- it's National Poetry Month, April's literary tsunami:  flood of poems-a-day, flood of prompts. And events up the wazoo that run the gamut from readings to anniversary celebrations to, who knows, a poetry hootenanny?! (Alas, I'll miss them all since we're packing up the condo for the season and traveling homeward as of April 18!) Many poetic projects afloat this month, too.  I'm committed to two.  

Poet-friend M. J. Iuppa's challenged her network of poets to participate in her 30/30 project -- write 30 poems in 30 days or bust. And, bless her heart, she's providing a deluge of prompts to help us along. (See http://mjiuppa.blogspot.com/ .)  What a boon!  Thank you, MJ!  The prompts are proving fruitful.

Orion magazine's blog has orchestrated a collaborative poetry project themed "the growing season." I accepted the invite to participate and have been paired with Michigan poet and kindred spirit Jennifer Burd. We are writing three poems together this month that will later be posted with the other duets' poems on Orion's blog at http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/newsfrom187/. Look for it as April winds down into May!

Meanwhile, this April dispatch to you comes to you from Site #10 Caloosahatchee Regional Park where I am encamped on Poetry Safari in Bukowski le Tent for my sixth and last safari for the season.  And, quite in keeping with the spirit of the "glowing season" (my variation on the Orion theme), I'm off the grid in pine-palm forest going about the basics.  No electricity, just a journal and a pen for the making of poems by sunlight, twilight, starlight, moonlight, lamplight, and candlelight. Before Roger and I wing home to Western New York, I gather these rare solo moments of light at snowbirds' season's end into a tanka (a Japanese form of five lines with 5/7/5/7/7 syllables).


Floridian Tanka


A poem twisted
like an old liana line
bares all in shadows
of sabal palm and slash pine—
my canopied lines spiral


*** 

The rainbow in the above photograph was taking from aboard the S. Y. Sea Cloud in the Caribbean Sea during our Lindblad Expedition there in February-March.  Please feel free to view more photographs alongside poems in my newest photobook at https://karlasphotobooks.shutterfly.com/ . I promise you more rainbows, including a twin-set over the island nation of St. Lucia.

But you won't find the following poem in the book. This one is part of a sequence I'm writing about the storied Sea Cloud's history, beginning with her "birth" in Germany in 1931 as a tall ship commissioned by millionaire couple Margaret Merriweather-Post and E.F. Hutton. The poems are written in 19 different poetic forms -- my effort to mimic the complexity of rigging on a tall ship that has had many incarnations, including this one (another tanka), when she was only four years old:

Leningrad to Istanbul, 1935


The ambassador
Sea Cloud on diplomatic
duty to Moscow
serves post-divorce, new bride M.,
whose capitalistic tool flies.

*** 



*** 

Last, but not least, I leave you with a couple more poems, this time as added NatPoMo treats.

  • The new issue of The Centrifugal Eye came out early this month.  In it you'll find my usual book review (of a Tom Holmes' book), along with my poem, "Algonquin Gestalt." While you're there, check out the delightful poems of Colleen Powderly, Kitty Jospe, Wilda Morris and many, many others. My profound thanks to editor Eve Hanninen yet again for publishing my work. http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyepoetryjournal/id1.html
  • And check out Your Daily Poem at http://yourdailypoem.com/listpoem.jsp?poem_id=1794 for a poem of a different color!  Thank you, editor Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, for once again publishing my work.
Here's to spring, which for so many can't come soon enough after a long and brutal winter of polar vortices and high heat bills. Ice is melting, robins are nesting and daffodils light the warming days.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Tale of Two Birds





Bird shit?  If there are to be birds, if there is to be the beauty of birds, there’s going to be bird shit on your safari hat. Owl shit hits with a plop of tiny bones and down. You wash it off your life and get on to the beauty.

            Fact is, a lot of us are having shitty days, some shittier than others. Plus holiday stresses. And maybe the heavy emotional whammies of Solstice with cancer, or Christmas without your father for the first time, or Hanukah with the threat of expiring unemployment benefits.

            Enter the beautiful bird in the photograph above, the secretary bird of East Africa that Roger and I saw one morning on the Maasai Mara in western Kenya. Beauty.

            I remember her, too, in a poem these three months later. Her tale is in the form of a tanka (five lines of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables, another gift like haiku and haibun from the Japanese), a form I chose to mimic her crown feathers.

Iconic


African feathers
fanned, forming her white headdress—
secretary bird—
Serengeti’s adornment
of savannah most holy.


            Roger and I remember what it was to behold her timeless beauty…beauty to be shared with friends, family, fans, fellow travelers – and you, my readers. Beauty to alleviate -- if only for a moment -- your private pains of heart, mind and spirit.

(If you would like to immerse yourself in more African beauty, by all means, go to my latest Shutterfly photo book at https://karlasphotobooks.shutterfly.com/  and let beauty amaze you.)


***
     

           I am the other bird in this tale of two, a snowbird mated to a snowbird nesting happily in Florida condoland with wildlands close by…and every day the Caloosahatchee River flowing past our lanai where we watch the boats go by, watch sunrises, watch moonrises.

            But it isn’t all a birds-of-paradise life. On our annual mecca to my holy land, the Everglades, our Florida Bay campsite handed us a plague of whining salt mosquitos where we were expecting egret beauty.  Deet means nothing to them. Instead, we smeared blood all over the tent walls – my blood in tiny swollen skeeter bellies. We didn’t stay a second much less a third planned night. I counted 26 bites in a few short hours. Yet we survived, of course, to laugh about our suffering through allergic reactions and fear. And, as we departed the national park, we took time, dodging egret shit, to see the beauty of my angel of the morning rising over the River of Grass.

            There was also a certain recent Saturday night we spent in the ER at Cape Coral Hospital, driven there in a panic due to a sharp spike in Roger’s blood pressure.  He came out of it just fine, and is now in the care of a local physician who’s keeping an eye on him.

            In the end, the snowbirds who are lovebirds try to keep the focus on beauty, all expletives deleted.

            As you-know-what it can be, our eye turns to hawk, shrike, heron – any bird in sight for its beautiful healing spirit, which I share with you via a poem in the form of a skink (one of my five-line jobbies, if you recall).

           

Who-who?


I know precisely what it is to fall
under the spell of Florida’s full moon
too soon waning toward winter solstice
going as the amber river goes.
I fully understand Floridian moonlight is spelled o-w-l.

***

            May you celebrate the new year with beauty.  In any form.

***

And, should you like to read more, see more of my work, here are links to a few recent publications:
      

·         Two poems, “Happenstance: Run Off to Sea” and “Hunger,” appeared along with an illustrative photograph of the trawlers referenced in the former poem. My sincere thanks to editor Michael McDermott for including me in this tribute issue, “Earth, Spirit, Society,” dedicated to his wife and Black Earth Institute partner, Patricia Monaghan. See: http://aboutplacejournal.org/earth-spirit-society/karla-linn-merrifield-ii-ii/

·         Out recently was my poem “Drilling Down” in Borderbend’s WTFrack 2013. Look for it at http://www.borderbend.org/wtfrack-2013.html
·         My most recent book review is of Anne Whitehouse’s The Refrain, entitled “’“the lost jewelry showed up;’” it appeared along with my memorial essay, “on Robert C. “Beau” Cutts,” in The Centrifugal Eye’s Autumn 2013 issue, available at: http://centrifugaleye.com/
·         Look for three of my poems and photographs on the new National Parks Art site. As a former Everglades Artist-in-Residence, I’m delighted that a sampling of the work I did during my residency continues to reach beyong the park’s borders. Go to this link and scroll down a bit: http://www.visitnationalparkarts.org/gallery.cfm?galleryid=4&galCatID=13&exhibitionID=2&cdid=4&cid=18
·         And many, many thanks many times over to Amy Huffman at Kind of  a Hurrican Press, she and co-editor April Salzano have brought out two new anthologies since I last posted.  You’ll find my poem “Ahh, Florida Grief” in In Gilded Frame, my poem “#427:  Saving Everything” is in What’s Your Sign? To order, go to: http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com/p/bookstore.html



            

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Can you say k*n-*trast ?!











Do I look 5,360 miles older? I sure feel it. Roger does, too. We know we will never drive cross-country again. We’ve gotten too old for that crap.  Just know: It feels sooooo good to be homebodies again.

But, oh, my, what an adventure we had, a journey in contrasts. For example: “Taos Window Study 1” and “Taos Window Study 2”, the photographs illustrating this long-overdue post, provide a metaphor of contrast. open and shut.  

We ate in contrasts, one night in Las Vegas, NV, a Caesar salad so succulent that it made me cry, to a one-skillet Knorr ready-mix dish on a camp-stove at the Las Vegas, NM, KOA. We showered in marble, we showered in wooden stalls.

We explored marshes dried to dust by long-lasting drought and followed the tumbling wet course of the perennially flowing Frijoles River (Little River of Beans).We also strolled the Old Town of Albuquerque and the old-old towns of Anasazi ruins. I read some poetry. I wrote some poetry. Roger listened, Roger heard.

And now that we’ve returned, are more or less settled in, and trying to keep track of our calendar of medical appointments and social gatherings, I’ve managed to put our wild-west vagabondage into this brief reflection, along with a new photobook with its high-contrast technicolor front cover. (Details below for viewing.)

It is very late. I can feel my insomnia abating. It’s time to crawl into bed and listen to Lake Ontario crash into shore on a stiff norther. Mmmm. Coolest night in days upon days.  Mmmmm. A sticky-free cuddle in store, soothing to the soul no matter your age. But, first this, a variation on the old Persian poetic form, the ghazal:


Bedtime Story

I remember the numerous sleeping
arrangements of mythic journeys
undertaken by an aging hippie
and her octogenarian husband.
That would be us. In cosmic sleep.
Sleeping around New Mexico,
seeking enchanted dreams
on canvas cots in nylon sleeping bags,
in king-sized beds on sumptuous linens
with embroidered pillows galore.

Like a minor poet and her sleepy muse,
like a lesser Anasazi god and his consort,
I want you to recall how we roughed it in Santa Fe
in a dreamy blue Eureka! tent. Recall how we
rolled over luxuriously, in closer, in Taos –
su casita e ma casita. We did, we did—
and we slept under dream-claiming Chaco stars.
We slept by Bandelier moonlight. We fell fast asleep
and we dreamed all kinds of sweet fearless dreams.
O, how we sleep together. Wherever. Whatever.


                             for Roger

Signed         KLM           #27    Library, Ed Rose Shores         7/12/13


***

For further reading:



·        View my newest Shutterfly photobook, Southwestern Enchantments, at https://karlasphotobooks.shutterfly.com/. If you’re new to my photobook page, you’ll need to send me a request to join my group– just a click away.





  • ·         This anthology, Rust Belt Rising, is a must-have on your bookshelf.  Sure, I was perfectly delighted to have my “Ballad for August 12, 2012” included – along with sheet music for the chorus – but the book is an amazing assemblage of poetry, prose and art that addresses America’s rust-belt history and provides hopeful glimpses into its future. Hats off to editor Jaheymus Joyce Zeit-Geistman. To find out more about it and to order, go to http://www.theheadandthehand.com/
 


  • I invite you to jump over to http://miriamswell.wordpress.com You’ll find  three poems from Lithic Scatter and Other Poems, published in July by poet-par-excellence Miriam Sagan in her Miriam’s Well blog. 



  • Ends of the Earth’s “Feathers & Fish-tales” edition included my poem, “Reeling in the Truth,” which will take you into the Everglades for a short spell.  While you’re there, don’t miss Wilda Morris’s, William Doreski’s and A.J. Hoffman’s  poems. Kudos to editor Anna Brock.  See: http://www.h2m.myzen.co.uk/EOTE_201306_61204842.pdf



  • Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems, my newest collection of poems and photographs, published in May by FootHills Publishing . To order your copy of the book, go to http://foothillspublishing.com/2013/id63.htm  or drop me an email to request a signed copy. Cover price is $16.00.

  • Speaking of steamy… Check out Naked Earth’s  “The Hoe Issue: Taste and the Tongue,” for a twist on the theme in my poem, “Bone Dust.”  A gassho to editor Chelsea Miller for publishing it.  http://nakedeartharts.com/bone-dust/ 

  • I’m proud to have joined the family of poets in Your Daily Poem, edited by poet Jayne Jaudon Ferrer. She recently featured my “Speaking of Québec,” a tongue-in-cheek poem that I’ll be including in my next collection of Canada poems, what I think of as Godwit, the Sequel: More Poems of Canada. http://www.yourdailypoem.com/listpoem.jsp?poem_id=1483

  • I am perhaps proudest of all to see both a poem and my regular book review column appear in the new issue of The Centrifugal Eye. Also: don’t miss the insightful “round robin” interview with poets featured in this “Punchline First” issue that explores communication (and miscommunication!) styles. Turn to: http://www.centrifugaleye.com/  Editor Eve Anthony Hanninen has published quite the tour de force with this provocative edition.

  • Eyes a little tired of all this reading?  Then hop over to Lip Service Journal to listen to three of my poems recorded at the invitation of editor Maurice Oliver, poetic innovator nonpareil. http://lipservicejournal.tumblr.com/

Thank you, dear readers! I hope my return to Vagabond Poet will be soon. Meanwhile Roger and I turn our eyes toward Africa, departing September 16 for Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar!