Archive | December 2011


We live between two fault lines, not far (geologically speaking) from the traveling hot spot that created Yellowstone National Park. i love that my name is buried within the black glass rock ‘obsidian’. i feel deeply connected to the earth’s innermost secrets, although not directly or consciously privy to their insights.  So writing, in some ways, helps that magma rise through me, where eventually the rocks expose themselves in poems or stories. Here’s the one (slightly revised, cuz one is never satisfied) that Ravi Shankar was referring to in my post a few weeks ago.


He wakes me with that


bull elk fall serenade

and i scramble through my tent flap

into a Yellowstone meadow so frosted

in the vanilla milkshake moonlight

it could be snow.

Glimpsing movement, he keenly

gazes my way.

Another bugle erupts

steaming over obsidian stream .

Musk stinks like moldering swamp.

His thick neck carries

a wild architecture over grassy

stars, while slow

echoes fade.

Behind the mousy river rustling by

he now holds an easeful silence,

and like a famished trout, i gulp

the riddle he casts

into this molten glow.


Going Bovine

A speaker at the JH Writers Conference mentioned Libba Bray’s intriguing YA novel, Going Bovine, and i was psyched to find it at our little library. Though i read it months ago, this week’s events have brought back the major premise Bray posited there. The story follows Cameron, diagonosed with Mad Cow disease for humans, as he lives in two worlds at once–which may seem from the perspective of the people he’s known all his life as a hospital bed and a hallucination. From Cam’s perspective, he is on a road trip to save the world, and then on to possible unsuspected new horizons with his punk angel, Dulcie.

That’s one thing about death–we just can’t say definitively whose perspective is real.

Our border collie’s liver failed her on Monday after years of steroid treatment for an autoimmune disease. She still loved to chase balls and her dog friends, and we just enjoyed a long sparkling snowshoe adventure on Saturday. But a rancher nearby has left a dead Hereford out in his field, and she got into some bacteria there that her compromised liver couldn’t fight off. So while we sat on the floor with her heavily-sedated-self through the night watching the rate of flow in her IV, she talked and twitched, apparently far away already. Grateful to Bray’s loony vision, i tried to imagine the antics Kestrel’s particular angel might be playing as she was convinced that other worlds were beckoning. i picture a chiseler (aka Uinta ground squirrel) wearing rainbow wings and darting across sandstone hills through the sagebrush…this way, follow me!

Winning poem comments

My flash poem, Volcanic, won the Jackson Hole Writers Conference prize last summer. i just stumbled across this, from a panel judge. Sweet!
“Ravi Shankar had [this] to say about the winning poem:

“‘Thanks to poetry,’” Mexican writer Octavio Paz wrote, ‘language reconquers its original state…its plastic and sonorous values.’ In the winning poem “Volcanic,” the author uses a keen sense of sound (from the alliterative “blood-pulsing/ bull elk fall serenade” to “musk [that] stinks”), combined with a careful observation of the natural world that retains its mystery and “easeful silence” while surprising the reader with its ultimate movement.”

Summer of Silk Moths

This little book won the 2010 Green Earth Book Awards YA Honors. The personal mystery the protagonist lived with felt a little forced, but i liked the story as a whole. The character’s real work appeals to me–hauling building supplies, pounding fence posts–and combining those skills with his deep interest in natural history and drawing makes him intriguing as a potential pathfinder for other young men who aren’t often given these kinds of roles in YA. This story was a tribute to a great book my grandmother probably gave me, The Girl of the Limberlost, which also ties natural science (thru moths!) to people’s personal struggles. The author is working on a sequel, The Winter of Wolves, that i’ll definitely want to check out.

The Complete Persepolis

Marjane Satrapi created an intriguing graphic novel/memoir of being a young adult during the Iranian Revolution(s). What a fine research aid for the complementary subplot in my current work–a way to remember that in no country are the people a monolithic bunch. Satrapi’s family members demonstrate some different perspectives on the issues of their days. Definitely worth a look, especially in light of the ongoing changes across the Middle East this year.