Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Antarctic Dreams

The Vagabond Poet has landed on terra firma at home after a 28-hour journey from Ushuaia, Argentina -- the southernmost city on the planet -- to our driveway.
I'm finding it impossible to describe to people what it was like. No superlative I've come across does the continent justice.
However, I've made one discovery: It's not the "White Continent" as it's so often called. Antarctica is the "Blue Continent" to me. Sky, water, ice combine in remarkable ways in myriad hues of blue. Ahhhh.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Greetings from below the Antarctic Circle! We crossed this line—660 33” 30’ south latitude—aboard the National Geographic Endeavour this morning at 8:30 and, as I write, are several degrees below it making passage to Marguerite Bay on the southern end of Adelaide Island off the Antarctic Peninsula.

It’s been a fantastic voyage so far…with humpback whales cavorting next to the ship in a quiet bay…crabeater and leopard seals hauled out on bergy bits…chinstrap as well as gentoo penguins waddling uphill from the shore or sliding downhill to it on their bellies…overhead a variety of petrels, terns, skuas and albatroses wheeling in the gray skies. In fact, I’ve counted 21 “bird firsts” so far in the expedition.

We’ve had our share of rough seas, winds (up to a full gale) and some snow, but the temperatures haven’t dropped much below freezing. And in the quieter waters of channels and straights, calmer waters and great masses of fantastically shaped blue icebergs drifting by.

I look at the sharp-ridged towering volcanic mountains sheathed in ice and at white caps torn off of wave crests as far as the eye can see and am reminded of Thoreau’s dictum: “We need the tonic of wildness.” In Antarctica on this journey I am getting the strongest dose of that elixir. The White Continent and its adjacent seas indeed belong to the penguins. Man may visit briefly, carefully, but in the end this is the kingdom of the gentoos and their ilk.


First Morning, Drake Passage

No reminder necessary, no other option:
Obey the sailors’ law: “One hand for the ship.”
I must get a grasp, hold fast to the Endeavour
to steady my wobbly landlubber’s legs.
I lurch along her decks, sidle corridors,
totter fore to aft above the heaving seas,
With an envy of cavorting albatrosses
and their various companion petrels,
I wish for wings with which to skim
these white caps, pray to relinquish
all my labored habits of terra firma
that I too may woo the watery churn
with unfettered spindrifted kisses.
As I bend at the knees, dip and lean
into ever steeper, steelier swells,
does this Southern Ocean recognize
my curtsies? Do waves witness how
I swoon? Will winds know when I let go?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Oh, Canada! Oh, a New Poetry Book!

Coastal Range

if I do not drown
in the snowmelt stream
I will become the mountain
My newest book of poetry has just been released from FootHills Publishing -- Godwit: Poems of Canada! With lots of poems and a few photos I take readers on a journey across the vast stretches of Canada. From Newfoundland and Labrador to the shores of British Columbia with many stops along the way, you'll travel out of the fog, onto the prairies and into the mountains, meeting up with wildlife and fascinating people of yore and of today.
Considering the cost of airfare and gasoline these days as well as border crossing hassles, Godwit is a sane solution for those seeking to explore the great northern frontier. The book is available from FootHills Publishing at www.foothillspublishing.com. Cover prices is $18 US.
Worth the read, eh?

Monday, August 20, 2007

On Wings of Hope

My newest chapbook, Dawn of Migration, has arrived!

The chapbook, which is being issued in conjunction with my fist-ever one-woman photography exhibit as part of the 3rd annual RochesterInkPoetry in Fusion Festival in October, fuses 19 of my “best of” bird photographs with 18 poems about the Galapagos’ blue-footed booby, Florida’s roseate spoonbill, Canada’s white pelican, the ubiquitous great blue heron and more.
One critic, fine art photographer and author Laury A. Egan observed this about the Dawn of Migration collection: “In style, these poems are intensely feminine; in perspective, they are powered by the maternal, as if written by Mother Nature herself.”
I hope you'll want to take a closer look. No binoculars required!

The chapbook is available for $11.50 (including postage). Proceeds support RochesterInk, as will sales of the framed photographs (available November 1). To order the book or to find out more, write me at klmerrifield@yahoo.com
Kindly, from Kent, NY (aka Home),

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Northern Bound

The vagabond poet is aheadin' home...where, if all goes well, I will arrive on Wednesday, August 8, after eleven weeks of gallavanting. The penultimate adventure of this long journey to the Southwest and back took us along the Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi. Much to see along this lovely route that follows the old Indian-trail-cum-pioneer-pathway of the 1800s. Historic churches and moody cemetaries with worn tombstones and old trees draped with Spanish moss...ancient Indian burial mounds...creeks and delicate waterfalls...sites of now-defunct towns...and nature trails like the one that led through this cypress swamp one early morning.

One last stop along the way: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday. Then home, home at last.

Look for more postings this fall...beginning with a couple selections of photographs from my upcoming one-woman photography-poetry exhibit at High Falls Gallery in Rochester, NY. Dawn of Migration and Other Audubon Dreams is slated to open on October 3...with an accompanying chapbook of the 18 bird photos and poems in the show.
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Sunday, June 17, 2007

San Juan River Magic

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Shall We Gather at the River?

for the 2007 Wild Rivers Dory Expedition members

I am not the first
to have this strong sense
that canyons are not for people;
they’re for rivers. And rivers
are here for rocks, to receive
from limestone walls great corrugated slabs
and make of them these billion cobbles.

I am not the first:
Other passing Homo sapiens sapiens
who came long before me, long before
any of you, knew canyons
are not for us. They’re for lizards,
mule deer, desert mountain sheep,
cliff swallows, green-violet swallows,
martins and bats, always the bats.
Creatures of the evening primrose,
creatures of the cloudless morning-blue
vault of heaven we are not.

And I am not the first
to take home sand in my shoes,
pebbles in my pockets,
mementos of the San Juan Goosenecks,
testaments to Time’s endeavors
as I too pass through with you this hour,
floating this river’s ancient meander
beneath her crumbling canyon towers.

with a line from Ann Zwinger

Saturday, May 5, 2007

So this is what a vagabond poet looks like! At least I did last summer while exploring the base of Canyon de Chelly in northwest Arizona, one of my most favorite places on Earth, a sacred space for me as well as the Dine (Navajo) people. And one of the places my husband Roger and I will be returning to this summer.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Welcome to Vagabond Poet

Friends, poets, family, thrillseekers, voyeurs, fellow travelers! Welcome to my blog.

Who'd have thunk it? Well, times change and even older humans can adapt to new environments. Besides, I'm being my old practical self. This is an easy way to keep up with me, my poetry and photography as I wind down the long and winding road.

I hope you'll visit my blog from time to time to see what's new in words and pictures.

Happy trails!