Sunday, September 7, 2014

Let the Literary Tour Begin!

Grunge, grunge, grunge.  And grime.  And grit.  That’s been my life lately as my husband Roger and I have packed up a house and moved from the fair shores of Lake Ontario to the quaint town of Brockport.  A mere 19 miles, but 26 years worth of belongings that needed sorting and packing. It’s sweaty, dusty, grungy work that can prove painful, not just emotionally but physically as well. Who knew you could develop a repetitive muscle injury from unscrolling hundreds of yards of packing tape?!  But here we are in our new home, having transformed ourselves from country woodchucks to townie squirrels, happy to be making a nest on shady Hollybrook Road.

The work load was made considerably lighter with a little help from our friends.  And my quest for a literary diversion from The Great Moving Travails was deliciously sated by a special invitation from friend and author Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick who asked me to join her on a virtual literary tour, an ongoing program in which a series of authors reveal a bit about their work, post it on their blogs, and then pass the torch to a handful of other writers. 

Yay!  Yehaw! etc. Put me down as an unqualified YES!

There was no way I wouldn't join forces with my pal Catherine whom I first met going on four years ago at a writers retreat she hosted in Bonita Springs, FL, a short drive down I-75 from Roger’s and my condo. 

Magic happened; we became friends in the short course of a long weekend and have been close every since, sharing our writing life and life stories. We've had the joy of collaborating as novelist and poet at literary readings in Florida, the joy of lingering over coffee at Denny’s (halfway, right off the Interstate) with travel tales, excerpts from our family sagas, and, of course, literary blood, sweat and tears – and triumphs, including her latest, the recent publication of her second novel, Going on Nine, which I've read three times: in manuscript form, reviewer’s copy and my very own hot-off-the-presses edition.
I
It’s a gem of a book just as Catherine is a gem of a friend, which is why I took the time and creative energy to post a review on Amazon.com, which I’ll share with you here in an abbreviated version: “You are going to love this book. As an writer/poet and editor I’m hyper critical of the books I read, compulsive even, marking up a book with red pen noting typos and thinkos, factual errors, faulty logic, and just plain sloppy, flabby, lame writing. So, when I run across a flawless book that also delivers with depth of character, plot and history, I have to share that with my professional network. Going on Nine by Catherine Underhill Fitzgerald is just such a novel. It takes you right back to your own childhood where you can match your memories with heroine Grace's who speaks to us at an almost-nine-year-old and as a senior, reflecting back on the joys and traumas of childhood. Here's a journey through the loss of innocence that makes reader’s lives richer.”

***

And now it’s my turn to step into the virtual literary tour spotlight.

Many of you know follow my Vagabond Poet blog, so you know I’m hopelessly addicted to traveling the Planet with my Roger.  But I always have the supreme satisfaction of transforming myself from experience junkie to poet of place, which is how several of my books came to be, including the two whose covers you see here.              





And high time I got to the question-and-answer part of this author blog tour.

So…


What am I working on?

Poetry has come to an almost-standstill since we returned from Europe on August 14…and set about moving from our lakeside country home of 26 years to a new home in nearby Brockport, NY.  So hard to find time to write with 397 linear feet of books to be packed and taped for the move.  But I was pleased to have some moments alone to edit the poems I wrote in Scotland and France, plus get a start on a few about our time in Germany.

I’ll get back in the groove soon enough…and can look forward to a quiet winter in Florida where a new house isn't making its demands known!  I’ll get back to a couple full-length manuscripts I've been compiling…one of which is The Gizmo Girl’s Diary, which deals with life in the technological fast-lane. I’m also going to start shaping a new manuscript that will bring together all my archipelago poems from the Galapagos, Hawai’i and the Caribbean.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?


I like to think that my poems (most of them) take people places. Readers can sit in the comfort of their easy chairs or abed and feel the steam heat of the Amazon River in Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems (FootHills Publishing) or the icy sting of Antarctic air while ready The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica (Finishing Line Press) or the sere Utahn redrock underfoot while absorbing Lithic Scatter and Other Poems (Mercury Heartlink). Call me an experience junkie, if you will, but it’s when I step outside my quotidian life that broad, sweeping pathways to poetry unfurl, most often through wondrous revelations from nature.  I can become a blue-footed booby inhabiting the Galapagos or a chinstap penguin on the coast of Antarctica.

Why do I write what I do?


I have both a passion for literature and a passion for environmentalism that are the soul of a great many of my poems. They’re intimately intertwined. Certainly environmentalism took the lead when I compiled my first (of three) anthologies, The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on  Endangered Species of North America (FootHills Publishing, 2006).

There’s also my passion for the process of poetry. It’s revelatory.  As I’m writing them, my poems frequently surprise me and pull me off into a realm I had no idea I was headed toward. Thus, I turn a corner on a trail and there is a Torreya tree and it becomes the core of the poem “Orion Espies a Tree’s Demise,” which is my representative poem in TDE. Voila!  I had no idea I’d end up writing about the pending extinction of that species of evergreen. The tree appeared. And delivered that poem.  Happens all the time.  I’m lucky, but then again, every poet with an eye to nature will get lucky.

How does my writing process work?


I warm up to the world of writing each morning. Almost every day starts with notes in a book of meditations on the poems I ritualistically read in bed with my first cup of coffee. One poem each day from four books of poetry selected somewhat randomly. Right now I’m relishing Julie Bruck’s Monkey Ranch (Brick Books) in preparation for a book review. Then I move on to a book I serendipitously stumbled across in Oban, Scotland, this summer: These Islands, We Sing: An Anthology of Scottish Islands Poetry edited by Kevin MacNeil. Nothing like trying to decipher Scottish dialect first thing in the morning to wake up the ears! The morning foursome make a pleasant potpourri to spice up sunrise and get the wheels spinning.
Most days I scribble in my traditional journal: lots of quotidian news but also notes toward new poems, including lines I don’t want to lose to a faulty memory; observations I've made; accomplishments; plans; dilemmas….

In the back of that journal, I draft my poems, which is not an every-day experience. I need “time alone” for that without interference from my beloved husband, email, phone calls, etc. I can usually count on some quiet time once or twice a week, and every three weeks to a month, I head off on a “Poetry Safari,” where I go camping overnight in my tent to write the night away for hours on end.


***

And now, it’s time to meet the three writers who will continue the virtual literary tour!


Laury A. Egan is the author of The Outcast Oracle, the collection, Fog and Other Stories, (both publishedby Humanist Press), and a psychological suspense novel set in Venice, Jenny Kidd (Vagabondage Press). Two poetry books, Snow, Shadows, a Stranger and Beneath the Lion’s Paw, and the chapbook, The Sea &; Beyond, were issued by FootHills Publishing. Her work has appeard in over 35 literary journals and anthologies and has twice received nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Web, and Best of the Net. Visit her web site at www.lauryaegan.com and her blog at www.lauryaeganblog.wordpress.com.

And make sure you read her newest book, The Outcast Oracle, which was named in “Best Books of 2013” by Kirkus Review: “Simply delicious fun from start to finish.  A beautifully written novel.”

The Outcast Oracle is set in 1959 near New York’s Lake Ontario, and Charlene Whitestone has been deserted by her parents and left in the custody of her grandfather C.B. Although he loves Charlie, C.B. is a charming con artist, moonshiner, and religious fraud who inducts her into his various enterprises. Written in a satiric Mark Twain style, The Outcast Oracle is a great read for adults and teenagers alike.

It’s available at Humanist Press ($13.95 paperback/$7.95 eBook) at http://wwwhumanistpress.com/outcast-oracle.html or through online retailers.




 2) And here’s Jules Nyquist, who earned her MFA in Writing &; Literature (Poetry) from Bennington College in Vermont. She took a B.A. in Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN.  Jules experiments with sound and form and continues to write poetry on the page and for performance. Jules is the founder of the Poetry Playhouse in Albuquerque, NM where she hosts visiting poets and conducts workshops on poetry, creative writing and the creative process.  Her first poetry collection, Appetites (Beatlick Press) poems on food, drink and sex, was a finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona 2012 Book Awards.  Her latest collection of poems is "Behind the Volcanoes" that works through death, loss and transformation.   Jules lives in Albuquerque, NM and her website is www.julesnyquist.com.

You won’t want to miss her newest book of poetry, Behind the Volcanoes! I had the privilege to review it for Poet Talk, the newsletter of the Rochester-based Just Poets organization. Here’s a snippet of what I had to say in praise of Jules’s book: “These are strong, powerful, enduring poems by a courageous, unflinching poet who helps us confront our own mortality by setting an example, by making us travel behind the volcanoes – and return – wiser, healthier, more empathetic for our fellow big-brained Homo sapiens sapiens who have the gift of imagination as well as destruction.” From Beatlick Press, Albuquerque, NM, the book is available for $16 from just about every book outlet you can imagine.  
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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!