24 June 2009

Back in the Day

In 1987 I met Kate, the woman of my dreams.
We fell into each other’s other,
we held each other up.

Together we discovered the depth of red wine and despair.
Together we quit bathing to detect which essential oil best masked
or better yet enhanced the pungence of sweat.
Together, we mocked women who over checked each nuance of make up
in the mirror at the Hauf.

Then, under a full moon in October
we danced in our Chuck Taylors.

Treading over graves,
billowing scarves framed our flesh
and swept against the stone woman.
She didn’t look up once.
She became us, and we became her.

We are that woman
holding our head in our hand,
sorrow dripping from our eyes.

We are that night
spent dancing in the dark
while flashes from a camera
illuminated our flesh against stone.

We are that full moon
hanging in the sky
reflecting shining jewels of wisdom.

The next day, I wrote the first poem
that I believed in
and my life as a writer began.

23 June 2009

Cinnamon Stick

A natural scroll
pushed from the earth
woody and pungent
yet fragile

I want to see it spring forth
unmolested from the earth.

I want to sip hot cider
through its rolls of flesh.

21 June 2009

Fallen Hero

Piggy’s head snaps back,
his ears sit high on his head,
and his eyes are glued
to the ant inching toward him.

When it reaches his paw, the ant crawls up.

Rapid-fire, Piggy opens and closes his mouth
up and down his furry foreleg,
frantic to get the little bugger.

And then,
Piggy’s head snaps up.
Furiously, he swings his snout
from side to side,
his fat wet tongue flails between his teeth
until the ant flies out.

The whole time this is happening,
Hopper has his eye on the scene.
He quickly rushes over,
ears forward on his head,
his “I’m so happy something’s happening” smile
exposes sharp white teeth against wet pink gums.

Never missing a beat, Hopper’s paw
slams down on the ant,
lifts up,
slams down again,
lifts up,
then with one fatal slam, he nails the ant,
who had only wanted to cross
the long beige expanse of carpet
to get to the kitchen
and find a scrap to carry back to wherever it is
that the rest of his kind dwell
in this red brick house,

carrying on a legacy of urban ants
that began when people were
audacious enough to multiply
and build houses
where the ants once reigned supreme.

Dog toys, indeed!

Does the ant colony miss their fallen comrade?
Or do they carry on with no recognition
of the ultimate sacrifice made by one of their own
in a treacherous quest for food?

20 June 2009

Len & Hazel


Every spring Piggy sports a black and white mohawk. A long strip of coarse hair defines the length of his back. He is an odd dog, and it suits him. People stop us on walks to talk about Piggy. One lady asked us if he was one of them ridgebacks she’d heard about. Rude or not, we all laughed. Someone drawled, “Ee’s not a Ridgeback, Ee’s a Dingo!” Then we told her his story.

Piggy came from the shelter in Helena. Len and I went to the shelter to check out a Bouvier they had listed on their website. However, when we interacted with her, she was aloof. When we walked her she wanted to get away. The paperwork the pound had on her, listed various ways she had escaped from her previous owners. We worried that our fence wasn’t high enough, and we wanted a dog to love us. We window shopped a little, until we came to Piggy’s kennel. Scrawled in huge letters on a big white poster board were two words that did us in: DEAF DOG. We have one deaf dog, we reasoned, and this one wiggled at our very nearness. We knew he would love our home.

Piggie cannot hear a thing, his vision is weak--we think that at a distance he sees only the movement of outlines and shadows, and we are fairly certain there is some retardation involved. His black and white mottled fur looks like Blue Heeler. His head shape, the texture of his hair, his tail, and his eyes show evidence of Siberian Husky. One of Piggy’s eyes is ghost blue, and the other is mostly brown with ghost blue shapes up top of the iris. Every spring he sheds his Husky hair while panting through warming temperatures. We shave him for his own comfort, and to give our cat hair rollers a rest. We give him a mohawk so we can say, “Ee’s a Dingo!” with our best (not good) Australian accent. So yeah, he’s not a Ridgeback, but a mix thrown together by fate. A mix who sports odd hairstyles and exudes enormous joy at human attention. Our Piggy.

We wanted a dog that would love us. You know the adage: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it? Piggy embodies it. He earned his name because he is a pig for attention. His previous owners called him Bo. We call him PigDog, Piggy, Pigster, Sters, and Piggy Wiggy Woo………I know, he can’t even hear us, right?

Piggy the Wonder Dog is able to jump through Hula Hoops in a single bound.

He is a happy boy with cognitive issues, and we love him dearly, yes we do.

18 June 2009

Noisy Time

Currently, a fine flock of feathered friends shares our life: Sophia the scarlet macaw, Sadie the blue and gold macaw, Sweet Pea the Senegal parrot, LB the green cheeked conure, and Harpo the yellow canary who can sing like no other.

A noisy time is when every bird in our house has something to say, and each of them hollers to be heard above the rest. Sophia wins, wings down. Most days, there are two noisy times: both 7ish. Will I miss them when I venture into the Bozone this summer? I fear not.

Sophia is a scarlet macaw. Everything we read ahead of time warned of the noisy wildness of this particular critter. HOWEVER, the summer Len and I got married we visited Sophia at Petco frequently. Trips to visit Spaghetti-O and Paris, a blue and gold macaw became family outings. I taught Sophia to belch during those visits (What was I thinking?). We bonded.

Paris sold to a couple in Helena. Sophia remained at Petco, waiting for a home. The bird handlers told us that due to a diminished market in Great Falls(and a deformed toe), Sophia was moving to another Petco. We did not want her to sit in a cage at Petco forever, and the first of many birds joined our roost.

The thing about birds is, when you have one, people get wind of it. Soon friends have friends who want to give you birds. They have allergies, they didn’t know how loud they would be, they don’t think they spend enough time with their feathered friends. Dumb ass us, we take them into our home so they can have noisy time twice a day.

Call and response is so natural in our home, its absence may send me into campus conversation with crows. Perish the thought.........

15 June 2009


You know the story--the one about the guy selling pencils on a corner in China having an impact on butterfly wing flapping in Montana. Everything affects everything. We are, I am, a massive oneness. Duality is an illusion that makes it easier to "deal."

Think of the the responsibility this brings. Every thing you do impacts the all.

In March of 2003 a truck pummeled through our front fence and landed in a parking spot at the school across the street from our house. The fence had only been up for a week. It was there to protect TL when she played in the yard with Hopper. The man tested clear of drugs and alcohol. He claims that he threw up and passed out. He meant to hit the brakes when he threw up, but he hit the accelerator. He was fine afterward and there were no other injuries. The fence in my front yard looked sad for a short spell, and his truck suffered some damage.

Now, what does this little truck story have to do with the price of pencils in China? There was an earthquake in Indonesia at the same time a man threw-up and lost consciousness in Great Falls,
Montana clearing out the corner of a chain link fence with his 1/2 ton truck.

Was that a message? HEY LADY! You think a fence will protect your kid?!

Fences indeed.
Good fences make good neighbors, or in our case vicious dogs.

Hopper is a pit bull mix. He was found on the side of the road by the sheriff with his head split open--the apparent victim of a hit-and-run. The sheriff's deputies brought him to the vet. We adopted him.

A favorite game of the neighbor boys was to run up and down the length of the chain link fence making faces with wiggling fingers at Hopper. Hopper growled and they encouraged him. His fence behaviour is offensive, if not scary. We moved. Hopper still hates people on the opposite side of a fence from himself. I encourage neighbors to spray him with their hoses, it humbles him.

Hopper is the Doodles. He rocks. His behavior mellows more and more daily as he ages into stiff muscles and well-cushioned rests. Although signing "walk" or "outside" still gets him wiggling.

Blah blah blah, what does this have to do with connections at work within the massive oneness?

Oh yeah....
My daughter wanted a deaf dog for Christmas. I searched online and began commuication with a woman in Bozeman who rescues deaf dogs from shelters or other circumstances and engages in agility training with them. I was considering one of her dogs that worried me as it was a breed with herding tendencies. At that point in time we had seven cats in the house. (We bred Maine Coons for a spell...don't try it in a small house.) Still, this was the only deaf dog I could find, and Christmas was merely months away.

Here's the clincher, kismet, fate, connectedness.....a flyer shows up at the MSDB (Montana School for the Deaf and Blind) office: Pete -- Deaf Dog, needs home, come to Skyline Vetrinary. The Blazer got us to Skyline Vet , and in no time "Pete" was one of the family. Pete is Hopper, Doodles, Doodley-Doo, and he came to us right when we were looking for him. He wanted us, we wanted him.
We fit right. (from a Deirdre Flint song)

Many months later, I was at MSDB subbing, when the supervising teacher told me to go home. She had just driven by my house and saw that "someone took out the front fence." My immediate panic was Hopper. Did I leave him out that morning? I usually didn't leave him out in front because he terrorized school children. But if the back fence was at all compromised....who knows what Doodles would doodly do?

When I got home I didn't see Hopper, and checked in the house. Oblivious to recent drama, Hopper's snout rested across the pillows of my bed, and he barked that soft little dream bark that makes his mouth look like he's smiling. With TL at school, Doodles asleep, and the cats in windows, my attention turned to the fence.

I felt victimized. There had to be a reason that guy puked right then; he said he felt fine up until that moment. He was checked out and released from medical attention. I googled earthquakes and tornadoes all day until I found one. The time fit. On May 26, 2003, an earthquake in Halmahera, Indonesia coincided with a freak accident in a Great Falls, Montana front yard. Every action has a reaction.

Things happen simultaneously. Balance in the massive oneness flows in and out of whack.

Or is the preceding verbage simply whack?

place becomes us

Hoo-ah! The Bozone reels me in from all directions. During the late 80s at MSU, the minds of my fellow philosophy students shone brightly inside discussion on predetermined topics. Voices from those discussions still pop up when pertinent context exists. My life as a learner took hold tightly in Bozeman. My life as a friend and a lover took hold there, too.

Though improbable, my cells know how to turn my body toward Bozeman when my eyes are blindfolded. Bouncing through "nu-uhs" one afternoon, my daughter tested my claim. She blindfolded me so that I would have no chance of peeking. We went out onto the deck, then downstairs to the yard. She walked me around in circles several times. After a few turns she'd ask me to face toward Bozeman. I did it correctly 16/16 times. Living in Bozeman made Bozeman live in me. Familiarity builds physical connections not only between people, but between people and places. Think about somewhere you have not been for years. Somewhere you spent days upon days of your lives exploring, reading, loving, cleaning, and learning. Close your eyes now, get lost in a memory, and see if you feel it in your body.

Place becomes us.

This summer I will participate in the inaugural year of the Yellowstone Writing Project. The YWP is hosted by MSUs Kirk Branch, and Lisa Eckert. Yup, I'll be breathing in the Bozeman air, cruising alleys, perusing thrift shops and writing. This blog is a playground for words during the project. Perhaps it will continue beyond the duration of the project. It just might prove itself to be useful, fun, therapeutic, or worthwhile in some as yet unknown manner.

Here it be. Commiment made. One (more or less as the spirit moves me) post per day. With no topic provided, dear reader, expect a meandering blog.

Tangents are openings difficult to resist.