Saturday, February 3, 2018

Vagabond Poet Redux: Earthblog Mojo

Once upon a time there was a vagabond poet who dropped off the face of the Earthblog. The world was flat, or felt that way.

At long last I am clawing my way out of invisibility as I compose this first post in this new incarnation, Vagabond Poet Redux. I’m writing it on a new laptop for a truly fresh start. And I am returned from the abyss of loss since my beloved husband and vagabond partner, Roger, who died last July after three years of decline into dementia. I had to put this blog on hold. Until tonight.

The year has turned a corner again, and we’re well into the second (!) month of 2018, the first year in which on no day will Roger be alive with me to share in it. It’s enough to give me syntax issues. An entire year without him in my life, the first of….  And the first Valentine’s Day without my sweetheart. It is to sigh.

Despite his frailties, Roger was able to muster his plucky self for two final travel adventures—to Cuba for 12 days over the 2015-2016 New Year’s holidays…and in September 2016 for a two-week voyage along the spectacular Norwegian coast, over the top to the Russian border and back to Bryggen. You can follow us through and around Cuba in the photobook I created at: Meanwhile, enjoy this:

The Bee Hummingbird

The smallest bird on Earth
has no story of La Revolución;

the smallest bird on Earth
never eyed elites become exiles.

The smallest bird on Earth
zipped past things Soviet

(tanks, missiles, construction vehicles),
ignored Fidel’s orations, Che’s fiery wit,

and Camillo’s hot blood— spilled;
nor did the smallest bird

protest egregious U.S. embargos,
Nike missiles aimed at Havana.

And when Russia vamoosed
the smallest bird on this Earth

lost none of its milligram weight,
much less 20% as did the country’s

populace post-U.S.S.R., abandoned
during the Special-Period famine of food and fuel.

Throughout modern Cuban history,
the smallest bird on Earth

sipped bougainvillea and poinciana
in the Guanahacabibes jungle,

mated, fed, bred, and hummed
its smallest endemic songs

that to this day tell the story
of Cuba’s sweet-nectared survival.

(Appeared in the FootHills publishing anthology, Birdsong: Poems in Celebration of Birds)

Alas, in Roger’s last several months, I didn’t have time to design a photobook for our Norwegian odyssey. Now I’m not sure I have the heart to revisit those pictures. I can, however, give you this glimpse through a poem and a classic “K+R” photograph, taken in Bryggen.

After the Tour

The cathedrals of Norway
leap and soar to the sky
ornate spires, gleaming spires,
of stone, of steel,
Medieval and modern,

stained glass windows
of glittering geometric mosaics;
Jesus and Mary
of such meticulous beauty
and attention to light

at every turn
sculptures finely carved
gargoyles and angels,
St, Olaf in lieu of Thor—

of interest for their art and architecture
of interest for their history
and illuminated Christian mythologies
of supplanting the pantheon of the Norse;
of similar interest: the ruination of the runes,
of merely intellectual interest to me
among the cathedrals of Norway. 

But— and I have a witness—
I lit a candle
in Tromsø,
I lit a candle in Trondheim.
That’s the light that matters.

                   ~ for Iris Heichel, who with her husband Gary,
witnessed this poem

(Appeared in Miriam’s Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond, November 2016)

Off to See the World
          I’m off to see the world, there’s such a lot of world to see 
On his death bed in our living room in Brockport, Roger listened to a poem I read him, one I’d just written about a kayaking expedition we’d taken on the Inside Passage off the coast of British Columbia. He was able to grasp the essence of it as was evidenced by his grip on my arm and his response afterwards: I want you to keep traveling, he said in a low, ragged voice. Promise.
          I’m keeping that promise.

Mark your calendars and watch this space for more details re:

Late July: Hola, New Mexico
For the first time in four years (and since Roger died), I’ll be returning to the Land of Enchantment for eight days, with several spent in Taos where I’ll be giving a reading at SOMOS, the town’s literary center. If you’re in the area on July 25 please drop in. I’ll also be seeing poet friends in Santa Fe for a two-day stay with a final overnight in Albuquerque where I’m planning to meet up with two more poets.  I have ashes to be scattered.
Late August: Ahoy, Alaska, and the Haida Gwaii of British Columbia
          A fifth time back to Alaska!  Yeppers. But this Lindblad Expedition will take me to Sitka, where I’ve never been and where my father served for a spell in WWII. We’ll also touch the Haida Gwaii, remote islands in the Queen Charlotte Islands archipelago and are home to centuries-old totem-pole stands. The nifty part is I’ll be traveling with a couple Roger and I met on our Lindblad voyage in Scotland in 2014. Diane and Steve will be delightful companions for this first cruise sans Roger.  I have more ashes to be scattered.
          Here’s a poem from an earlier Alaskan vagabond adventure:


For one moment
the universe collapses

into a frame of black
on white, a minyan

of ravens against Yukon
mountain icefields bleached

a paler shade of pale.
The birds are near;

the high peaks far.
I touch them both.

Feather & stone
sealed glacier deep

become my body:
corvid warm,

granite solid.
I fly, I stand still,

even in near-Solstice
sun above the 60th

parallel. I travel
great distances, but

I remain with you
in the old photograph

taken by my inner eye.
As a flash I am there,

I am here.
Follow me.

Appeared in Cirque, Winter 2015-16; displayed in a Cirque open-air exhibit in Soldatna, AK, summer 2017.

January 2010: Off to See the World
          In January 2019 I will be voyaging on the Queen Mary 2 for a Cunard World Cruise of 108 days.  You’ll hear more in posts to come.  Yes, I have more and more ashes to be scattered.


If you’d like to read more poetry, here are a few links to a variety of publications…a variety of poems:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Supermoon Eclipse and Beyond

I enter time on this page.

What kind of time? Steven Hawkings’ or Walt Whitman’s? The goose’s or the loon’s? Are we counting the nanoseconds of the autumnal equinox or an average human lifespan? Is this the tempus of fugit fame?

Maybe. We’re all exclaiming, Where did summer go?! To which I add: !!!!!


Brockport Etude by Waning Gibbous Moon

Crickets, katydids
the maracas of August
leopard frogs on vibes
a little live night music
from wild old fairy’s woodland


So, readers, I’ve been in absentia to so many of you. If you’re a Facebook Friend you know this was the summer of Taos (two weeks), an emergency adventure at Christus St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe (one week), a Canadian getaway (one week; theatre + cottage), physical therapy (12 weeks and counting— great results for Roger)…and so on.  And, if you’re on my listserv, you know I had a book come out in May, Bunchberries, More Canada Poems (see below). Poetry readings, walks, dinners with friends, topped off by our housewarming party (46 wonderful guests) on September 13.  The only timely news is that our house renovations are complete for the season (gutters winter-ready).  And: we migrate to Florida, departing October 19, arriving at the condo on Halloween/Samhain after several visits with dear friends along the way.


Brockport Autumnal Nocturne

Now I speak to you
of leopard frog’s skritch-skritch-skritch,
one last long samba
before mud time as cold fronts
whisk south out of Canada.

                        for Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick


It’s been a nippy one today. Coat weather, furnace running. We’re wusses.

Today?  Is it today already? No, actually, it’s night, a windy night without frogs, and I obtain the answer to my opening questions: it’s been poet’s time all along. 

For further reading:

·         My thanks, deepest thanks, once again to Michael Czarnecki at FootHills Publishing for publishing the sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada: Bunchberries, More Canada Poems. Signed copies are $18 (postage paid) or you can order direct from FootHills at .
·         Keep your eyes on . This is a fabulous new online poetry journal. I think you’ll enjoy hanging out at the Tavern.  My thanks again to editor Russell Streuer who will be publishing two more of my shorter poems this month. You can go directly to one of the earlier poems at .
·         Perhaps the most unusual publication event (and it was an event!) was when Big Bridge editor Michael Rothenberg published a review of my Lithic Scatter and Other Poems in the latest edition.  What was unusual is that my beloved – deceased – friend Beau Cutts wrote it, the last thing he wrote, and now, posthumously, it’s been published. See: .
·         I also would like to gassho for editor Carl Sharpe who put me in the spotlight in his VerseWrights journal. .
·         I invite you to visit two web sites: + and . I am exceedingly proud to have my photograph of the Everglades River of Grass help the citizens and tourists of Miami understand the rare, magnificent world of the Glades, which is just down the road a piece.  The work I did there as Artist-in-Residence continues to do good work.  That the photo will be enlarged to 48: and wrapped around a building in downtown Miami knocks my socks off.

The first photo is of a Canadian tree frog I encountered while visiting friends Judy and Fergy Ferguson at their cottage in the Kawarthas, Ontario, in August.  My second photograph is of the Charles E. Burchfield painting "Haunted Twilight," which was hanging at an exhibit at the Burchfield Penney Center in Buffalo. (I've been in love with Burchfield's work since I was sweet 16. Well, maybe not sweet.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Poetrytales Written in Stone

I want to open this blog posting with a poem, a new one, one written tis winter.

So, please excuse me for a moment, I have to paw through 41 pages to make my pick.  Hmmm, what poem will I select to share with you?!


By Some Mistake,

my new coiff’s punked out,
spikey like a snowy egret’s pate
but mine’s silver, mind you, not yet white
and definitely not your old broad’s
mating plumage (How does that damn bird
keep her headfeathers so brazenly clean?);
I gotta do hair goo for this do—
gunk equals must— otherwise you get me
going on vulture-ugly and screaming
Buzzard shit! ’cause avian envy’s hard stuff.


There. That didn’t take too long.  I chose this poem for a few good reasons. First, I wrote it for my beloved friend Colleen Powderly, a poet of power who’ll be visiting us come Friday. (Yay!). That makes this poem a poem of friendship, so is impeccably suitable to share with you. (It also spares you the politics, erotica, etc. in my Winter 2014-2015 collection.) Three: The poem is light. Puh-leese, no downers for my first posting of the new year. Four: It feels good to sweat the small stuff when the heavies (name yours—cancer? senility? grief? despair?) have got you in rocky, hard places. Life calls on you to make like moss: Be soft. Sit still. Listen. Breathe.


I give you another story written in the photograph, one I took last summer on the Isle of Iona in Scotland. Here it is February already and I’ve only today finished Volume I of the Highland adventures photo/poetry book.  (See below.) The wall is one at a 13th-century nunnery, continuing to fall into ruins. I gaze at the stone and can almost hear one of the novices humming a prayer to St. Brigit, for me.


Methinks another poem is in order, and another photograph, that is two more tales of a poet.


Florida Lullaby to Self

Lately I’ve been having the most satisfying
yawns after afternoon daydreams
and satisfying stretches of mind
(Cohen, Scafidi, Longenbaugh)
and stretches of muscle (water aerobics);
I bathe in warm pools of solitude,
as often as I dare, dance
with coyote and owl by the stars,
and by the moon sing to armadillo
of the raccoon’s thieving envy.
I inhale in concert with tree frog and cricket;
I exhale spells cast on the feral boars of life.

Wildness, this darkness, do comfort me;
I shall sleep the sleep of lichen and moss.


That, folks, is how the winter is going most of the time.  Roger and I keep perhaps too busy socially, though certainly have a good time. Roger’s working hard to keep fit; I get to the pool often for my own exercise.  And, we will soon be packing our bags for an expedition to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal. The Vagabond Duet are going to give another trip a try.

Meanwhile, I hope you have the same sweet sleep.

Drift off to sleep, perhaps contemplating the life of lichen as in the photo below. This lichen lives quietly, stubbornly, enduringly bonded to granite on a hand-worked stone the size of a breadbox painstakingly set into the walls of a ceremonial mound dating to Neolithic times in the Scottish Highlands just east of Inverness. I can almost hear the clan priestess chant her ancient song to the Moon, for me.



For further reading, viewing, discovering:

·         Travel with me! See my new Shutterfly photo book at: . At long last, the first of two photobook volumes of Roger's and my expedition in the Scottish Highlands. Join us aboard the Lord of the Glen as we explore the islands of the Inner Hebrides and motor along the Caledonian Canal bisecting the Highlands from Oban in the far west to Inverness in the far east.  Look for Volume II of the adventure soon!

·         Two poetry events are in the offing. In case you’re in the neighborhood here in Florida, see: - Reading on Feb. 12th with beloved friend and fellow writer Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick, along with writer Kris Radish.

·         Coming up on Feb. 22, I will join my beloved friend and fellow poet William Heyen for a duet reading at Bookstore1Sarasota. My third reading there!!february-events/c1c1s
·         And please visit The Centrifugal Eye at -- my Her “Wealth of Souvenirs” is out (or just about out) in the Winter 2015 issue, “Story,” along with “a solitary, endless / infinitive”, mys book review of Julie Bruck’s Monkey Ranch, along with my photograph “Slave Art.”

·        Do you love coffee or hate it? Share it or drink it alone? Prefer regular or decaf? Flavored or plain? At home or at a coffee shop? See the sample poems by Jo Balistreri, Wilda Morris and me. (Mine is “Since today is the first full day of summer I envision:”.) Check it out at I’ve very honored to be judging this month’s challenge, especially to be partnered with Jo.  Thank you, Wilda!

·         Also my poem “Herpetologically Yourswon Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge in January and was published there in January. Scroll down her site to read it. ,

And, should be lucky enough to have copies of these journals (or decide you’d like to order a copy on Amazon), you can read:

·         My poem “Florida Nocturnal Sutra,” which appeared in Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poetry, Winter 2015, and “Visit to the Magic Kingdom of Everglades Trees” rand in The Weekly Avocet in late January.  Also, “When I Wish upon a Tree” out on New Year’s Eve in The Weekly Avocet.

·         Another poem: “Final Tally: Mosquito Netting: 0, Wife: 9” was published in We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems (Stacy Savage) in February.

·         And another: “Among the ***s” in Petals in the Pan, an anthology from Kind of a Hurricane Press.

·         Another, also from Kind of a Hurricane Press: “Ménage à Trois,” Pyrokinection, Fall 2014, and s reprinted in Storm Cycle: 2014 Best-of Anthology, out this month. Click on: … scroll down to “Older Posts” and scroll further.

·         Lastly, “Following Leonard Cohen’s Lead” will be out soon in Poeming Pigeons, an anthology from The Poetry Box.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, December 12, 2014

At the Epicenter of My Universe

My, oh my. I’m clobbered over the head again with the lesson taught by Tempus Fugit.Traveling in Scotland, France, Germany. Moving into our new house in Brockport. Wintering in Florida. Summer turned to autumn turned toward the Solstice. My, oh my, Leonard Cohen sings.

So, here I write from the condo in North Fort Myers. Just yesterday it seems Roger was standing at the famous post box in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Highlands. Here is one of two extant ahistorical mail drops in the UK. The other is on Mull, too. It is a mandatory tourist photo op because it and its twin bear the imprint Edward Regina, the one-who-would be-king-but-abdicated-for-Wallace-Simpson. The installation had, ahem, been premature. Best of all: there stands Roger, the king of my heart.  Lookin’ good, lookin’ good (for 82.5).


Here is a poem I wrote while we cruised the Inner Hebrides and then the Caledonian Canal aboard the Lord of the Glen.It came to me as we were entering infamous Loch Ness. No, no, there was no monster, but we did have the opportunity to meet a Highlands poet. (Ta! Seth Crook, my laddie.) Only this, one of my gestalt poems meant to encapsulate a locale, an ecosystem. The photograph below intends to do likewise.


Highlands Gestalt


If I do not
seep into sodden bog,
I will become
the rippling loch



The following photograph is emblematic of Hollywood House, as I call our new home at 237 Hollybrook Road in Brockport.  A home that is to my amazement already a home.  In my September post I gave you a tour of erstwhile library-nest back at "the lake house." For this posting, I give you a glimpse at my new study-nest. It is a glimpse at our happy place where we’re part of a small bustling community with friends so close by. Services, too-- Wegman's is only 1.1 miles away, not 19.  And doctors' offices only 40 miles roundtrip, half as much as when we lived on Edrose Shores.  What's not to like? As if magically whacked with a wand, we were townies! 


Brockport Morning Etude #1

sounds according to October
a chainsaw                   a chickadee
a leaf blower               jays
riding mower               Carolina wren
neighbor’s easy-list’ning radio
                                    squirrels' chattering en chorale
music of Hollybrook Road

a pick-up truck groans by
I change my preference

I choose instead the eye
its October light
sugar-maple yellow     weeping-cherry green
bronzed oak                golden birch
blue sky                       cloud white
   I see home

                        for William Heyen


Shebang!  Florida! The 12-day road odyssey passed in a flash of four visits with family and friends. Lo and behold, one zap it seemed and we were installed at the condo in North Fort Myers.


You find me
amid lichened pines,

from the sinful


I leave you with that little sip of the Gulf of Mexico, that wee taste of Florida's woodlands as I wrap up this whirlwind tour of recent months.

More important, I give many thanks for your many gifts to me, whether reading these words or speaking on the phone or emailing or dropping onto Facebook now and again.  I am blessed with so many friends and their hugs and their smile. Most important, I am blessed to have my Roger, who is indeed the epicenter of my intimate universe.


For further reading:

Many thanks to Michael McDermott of the Black Earth Institute, editor and publisher of About Place Journal.  He most recently published my two poems, “Breathlessly” and “Long, Strange Climate Trip” in “Voices of the Human Spirit” edition of APJ. Find them at:

I’m thrilled!  At long last I’ve had   a poem published in Literary Bohemian. My thanks to editor Carolyn Zukowski who refers to herself as the grand poobah.  It delights me that some words of this Vagabond Poet found at home at LB.  Check out the cool graphics, too!

It was a rare and special treat to do a mini interview about my passion for Leonard Cohen with blog maestro and fellow poet Miriam Sagan of Santa Fe. Mine was the first in her “What I Know How To Do” series on her Miriam's Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond. Find it on:

I’d love it if you would listen to a recording of my “Sonnet for Leonard” recited by Vu Vuong, editor of the marvelous Perfume River Poetry Review, originally published in the journal’s Issue #2, “Ars Erotica.” To watch, visit: 

Last is a link to my 30-minute interview with Joy Radio's Pattie Welek Hall.  How did I get started writing poetry?  Who's my muse?  Which poets inspire me?  Listen up at

Check Out Poetry Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with JOYRadio with PattieWelekHall on BlogTalkRadio