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: https://karlasphotobooks.shutterfly.com/. 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.
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
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:
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.
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: