(some) of my Best Books of 2014

There are SO many amazing books out there, by SO many amazing writers…I read voraciously, and yet, there aren’t hours enough in the day to read all the books and writers that I wish I could find time for.  Everyday I thank the graces that be for the gifts these people bring to me, to us – their stories, their words, the beauty of their language – as elegant and vibrant and smacking of punch and vile and wonder and all that we humans need: to see, to feel, to laugh, to remember, to not forget, to explore, to investigate, to dream…

…So I send out my heartfelt gratitude for all the writers out there who have given me reason to press on with my own writing…and to stay up WAY too late, countless nights, as I say…”just one more page!”  For allowing me windows into what it means to be human – to live, to flail, to feel joy and sorrow and hope and despair – to laugh and marvel and remember and feel blisteringly inspired.  To all of you – I offer my ever enduring thanks.

photomy list, from top to bottom (in no particular order):  1) When Women Were Birds – Terry Tempest Williams   2)  Ways of Seeing – John Berger   3) Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks   4) Farm City – Novella Carpenter   5) The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert   6) Abundance  – Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler   6)  Wind From An Enemy Sky – D’Arcy McNikle                   7)  Insatiable Curiousity (Innovation in a Fragile Future)  – Helga Nowotny    8)  A Thousand Mornings  – Mary Oliver     9)  A Field Guide to Getting Lost  – Rebecca Solnit   10) Island of the Blue Dolphins  – Scott O’Dell   11)  Selected Poems  –  e.e. cummings   12) The Well and the Mine  –  Gin Phillips

 

 

look around…

To begin and To end… a little e.e. cummings

“being to timelessness as it’s to time                                                                                              love did no more begin than love will end;                                                                                  where nothing is to breathe to stroll to swim                                                                               love is the air the ocean and the land”

 (excerpt from Love and Its Mysteries – #13)  

How the words of e.e. cummings set the soul to sigh.  He ever reminds that Love is the All, is the Everything, is the It.  What else shall there ever be?

Some Signs of Love popping up around the globe:

*In the January, 2015 edition of Popular Science Magazine, check out the feature article  “Animals Like Us” – you will read about an organization called NhRP, which stands for Nonhuman Rights Project.  This is an organization that has begun to fight for the rights of animals, on a new level.  In December, 2013 – they sued (on behalf of 4 captive chimpanzees) their captors, asking a judge to grant their clients the basic right to not be imprisoned illegally. The NhRP could soon file similar lawsuits on behalf of other great apes (bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas) and elephants—beings that have all been shown to possess highly developed cognitive capabilities.  Read the article and come to terms with the beautiful truth that Humans are not so special or unique in terms of their emotional attachments, ability to reason, love, mourn, problem solve, create social structures, etc…

*The People’s Climate March in Manhattan on September 21st – over 400,000 strong, coming together to show solidarity for our environment.  We must be the change we want to see…so next march, let’s make it 4 million strong, with people from all around the globe.

*Celebrity Wolf OR7 – a wolf from Oregon, the 7th to be caught and fitted with a radio collar…hence the name.  At some point, in September of 2011, OR7 left his pack and wandered southwest, crossed four mountain ranges and five national forests, all the way down and into, California.  And OR7 has found himself a mate, and now has pups.  He is the first wolf in California in over 90 years.  Awesome.

*USA to restore full relations with Cuba.  Moving forward, after more than 50 years.

*Gottlob Schmidt, a farmer in Alberta Canada has just donated his homestead of nearly 1000 pristine acres to be used for hikers.  The park will be called Antelope Hill – it is home to rare native grasslands, aspen groves, wetlands as well as a variety of wildlife and it is stunningly beautiful. Once Antelope Hill opens to the public, the park will be used pretty much just for hiking – no hunting, camping, or vehicle use will be allowed – at Schmidt’s request.  I think I need to get my kiester to Canada!

 *There are 300 women sitting in Congress…for the first time. Ever.  This is an improvement, in terms of representation in government for all women, but it’s still dismally low percentage wise.  The House still comes in at less than 20 percent female representation.  Come on Ladies!  We have to get out to vote! Participate.  Get involved.  Run for government positions.  We are the silent majority.  Let’s embrace our inner “Rosie the Riveter” and change the World.

Have other Love Signs from the horizon?  Share them with me and I will happily post

….in closure, e.e. cummings – from Whispers of Mortatlity #8

in time of daffodils(who know                                                                                                      the goal of living is to grow)                                                                                               forgetting why,remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim                                                                                                      the aim of waking is to dream,                                                                                         remember so(forgetting seem)

in time of roses(who amaze                                                                                                         our now and here with paradise)                                                                                     forgetting if,remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond                                                                                     whatever mind may comprehend,                                                                                   remember seek(forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be                                                                                                             (when time from time shall set us free)                                                                           forgetting me,remember me

 

For Alice…..

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Time is short, we must learn to do what is important Today.

So many gifts are imparted to us on the backs and breaths and hearts of those who came before us, who loved us, and allowed us to love them in return.  Now, Today, Yesterday, This Moment – all of these are the perfect time to commune, remember, honor, exhalt.

It is easy to believe the world has gone haywire.  It is easy to believe that the United States has forgotten its name, that the word “United” has meaning, but it has.  But its meaning is delivered only in action… Its meaning is delivered only when and if we make it so.

It is easy to forget what is necessary.  It is easy to hide one’s head and look the other way.  It is easy to believe we are helpless.

Perhaps we need to end our love affair with Easy.

Perhaps we need to reacquaint ourselves with something else.  Something stronger.  With greater grace.  With deeper fortitude and determination.  We need to excavate the long lost Hard Work, of Sacrifice.

Our grandparents, and/or great grandparents, understood the trans-formative power of Sacrifice. Through their sacrifice, they endured, changed the world, and turned our country into a story of great success.  Easy was not in their vernacular.  Easy should be eradicated from ours.  We can, we must, decide to strive hard, work hard, give hard, believe hard, embrace hard, sacrifice hard, encourage hard, commit hard. We stand at the edge of a tipping point and a decision is required, a commitment is required, from each and every and all of us.

We must learn to dig deep Hard, and never let go.

In the hearts and homes and peoples of today, Sacrifice as a word, Sacrifice as an action, is virtually obliterated.  It is a relic, a ghost of ancient lore.  Consumerism, the empty-booming- heartbeat of our once great nation, has rendered us obtuse.  It has blinded our vision and led us to believe that we can, should, must, have it all…whatever we want, when we want it, however we want it, no matter what..no matter the cost (and I do not mean monetary).

Sacrifice is the bloodline.  Sacrifice is the arrow.  Sacrifice is the end of the rainbow.  Sacrifice is the gold.

Sacrifice means you take others into consideration.  Sacrifice means you are committed to never giving up.  Sacrifice means you work hard today for the glory of tomorrow.  Sacrifice means you strive.  Sacrifice means you believe in the day to come. Sacrifice means you are unafraid of blood, sweat, and tears.  Sacrifice stands on faith, which stands on priority, which stands on determination, which stands on self-respect, which stands on the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before you, who believed in you, who sacrificed for you, who gave to you, so that you may give in return.  Sacrifice considers the many rather than the few.  Sacrifice means there are times when you must put others before you. Sacrifice understands the essence of time, the span of time, and that anything and everything done today, will have affect on the tomorrow of every tomorrows.  Sacrifice understands the hand reaching back, to the hand that pulls forward.  Sacrifice understands that when one falls, we all fall. Sacrifice means you will do everything that you can to never let that happen.

In my family’s bloodline runs the hard and fast and indomitable blood and spirit of many amazing, gut-giving, and deeply sacrificing ordinary people…here, today, I will write of one.

Autumn_river_horiz2

Alice.

Alice was, and remains, my maternal grandmother…despite the fact that she is dead.  Alice believed in only one word, Yes. Alice spoke sing-song, with a dear Norwegian accent until she no longer spoke at all.   Alice moved away from the farm and into the city at 16, to live with strangers, to work, to send her earnings home, to feed her siblings, to keep the farm.  Alice took care of whoever needed taking care of.  I don’t know who took care of Alice…God perhaps.  Or life itself.  Alice fed the Homeless who rode the rails into St. Paul, along the mighty Mississippi, just below the bluffs, just to see Alice. The bluffs belonged to Alice, Alice belonged to everyone.  The men would sit on her back stoop, eat hot bread straight from the oven and from the heart, of Alice.  Alice wrapped everyone tight against, and inside, her generous bountiful breast. Alice was not beautiful, she was handsome.  Alice was the most beautiful of all.

Alice is my grandmother.  I love her more today than ever before  – though not as much as tomorrow, or the day to come after that.  Alice was released to the soil more than 20 years ago – and yet her spirit sings, and rises, and comforts, and leads.  Here is a small gift, for her.

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Make room for the trees, Alice says, high past the sky.                                                                   It touches down as bird song,                                                                                                      the spill of rain.  Wind.

Wonder I, if you would recognize, Alice                                                                                       the sounds of evening here, so far from your once there.                                                   Space, where silence tumbled                                                                                             tumbles less and less, and more and more                                                                 boomerangs sound –                                                                                                                under stone, inside wood, against dull star skies.

As it is, remains crickets, and once                                                                                              the sound of owl, on a late evening stroll up the hill.                                                          Rivers, not of water, but rolling cars                                                                                       sound outside the door, and                                                                                               booming moons, round and bold                                                                                            silent, as witnessed long before.

Punctured heavens of diamond light                                                                                        your eyes must have absorbed  – out there,                                                                             then back, in the tall grass beside the barn                                                                              and naked land.

Naked.  I wish to find that now, here, Alice  –                                                                                in this blink that carries me,                                                                                                       the way it once carried you, blinks ago                                                                                         on prairie hill, in farmland weight, rich with loamy soil.

To mind’s eye, comes a field                                                                                                     rising gentle as feather down,                                                                                                     the gold sway hushing, hushing,                                                                                         catching endless, still.

…Or fire, licking clouds, deep in dome of sky,                                                                   cleansing, cleansing, re-igniting the call                                                                                       for seedlings, saplings, will.

…Or meadow, stretching, stretching,                                                                                       alight with bloom and water song,                                                                                               tall trees that kiss the graces                                                                                                         of what may come and yet to come.

Make room!, cries out the endless,                                                                                   unending, endurance of time.                                                                                                   Make room!                                                                                                                                        I am coming                                                                                                                                      I am coming                                                                                                                                        I am coming

 

 

 

 

 

a work of art…

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Congratulations to my friend, and poet, Kimberly Burwick,  on her beautiful new poetry collection titled Good Night Brother, published by, and available for purchase at, Burnside Review Press.  Here is one of my favorites:

What Began in Nineteen Sixty-Nine

Glory all the way to the trees, white lilacs                                                                                       on cut grass, then nothing but the setting                                                                                       flatness of short grains upon drifts of weeds.                                                                                 I waste what stillness turns the decaying                                                                                         robins bright, knowing you might live                                                                                               longer than I wish, beyond the deaf                                                                                                 green paradise of home, longer than                                                                                               the hanging lemons large enough                                                                                                   to tremble and sway.  I’ve come to                                                                                                   believe you can’t touch me, only the sun                                                                                         letting go of terribly red ditches.

Check out Kimberly’s previous collections:

Has No Kinsmen (Red Hen Press, 2006) and

Horses in the Cathedral (Anhinga Press, 2011) – winner of the Robert Dana Prize.

                            

Support our beloved poets!  The world is much richer because of their gifts. Click on above links to purchase Burwicks’ previously published works.  So glad Kimberly continues to send her beautiful spirit, and beautiful words, out into the world.