Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Highlights

Chagall's ceiling at the Opera Garnier, Paris

Inspired by year-end roundups, I decided to create one of my own. And so, 15 bits of the best from 2016:
  1. Launching the prophetic art resource site, PropheticArt.Info on January 1st.
  2. Traveling on the book tour as the illustrator for Erin’s grand book, Wings: Gifts of Art, Life, & Travel in France
  3. Reading one of my poems at the iconic independent bookstore, Book Passage, during the release of the anthology, Vignettes & Postcards Morocco
  4. Standing beneath Chagall’s ceiling at the Opera Garnier in Paris
  5. Working with my mom on her second book of blessings: Blessings for Love & War
  6. Celebrating a mid-summer milestone with Hayley over uncontrollable fits of giggling
  7. Doing pre-workshop calisthenics led by the Poet Laureate Juan Feilipe Herrera at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers
  8. Helping plan another Deep Travel Morocco adventure with Christina and the inimitable travel writer, Tim Cahill
  9. Launching a greeting card line, Take Heart, with the savvy advice of Mindy. (The card line will be more accessible once I finish…)
  10. …updating my website to offer commissioned poetry & paintings, among other things (coming in January!)
  11. Tasting my first kouign-amann pastry in the Fillmore, San Francisco
  12. Finishing a full-length poetry collection…and beginning to send it out into the world! (Any contacts with small presses most welcome ;)
  13. Hand-delivering the paintings that sold from my art show
  14. Listening to my father give his last official blessing while on staff at the church he is retiring from
  15. Turning 40 and feeling like the truest goodness is about to begin….
Here’s to celebrating the good stuff when it's “time to laugh” and “time to dance,”  

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Compound Gratitude

Thank you for the eye and the sight
for the ear and the drum
for the finger and the nail
for the under and the belly
for the back and the bone
for the hand and the made
for the heart and the ache.

Thank you for the moon and the light
for the sun and the flower
for the rattle and the snake
for the thunder and the storm
for the star and the fish
for the blue and the bird
for the honey and the suckle.

Thank you for the day and the dream
for the good and the night
for the after and the noon
for the cross and the over
for the up and the coming
for the life and the time
for the thanks and the giving.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Take Heart Cards

The Take Heart greeting card line has launched! These cards celebrate the art of encouragement. To take heart is to encourage, to encourage is to inspire with hope, and the Latin root of encourage is cor, heart. The cards are waiting to be filled with your own heart-ful words and sent out into the world....

Each card is:

~ 5” x 7” (ideal for giving and framing)
~ Blank inside
~ Printed in Oregon, USA on 100lb cardstock
~ Hand embossed in the lower, right-hand corner with my æ signature
~ Accompanied by a translucent, vellum envelope (hard to find!)

Ten percent of all Take Heart sales go to support The Studio at Living Opportunities, which provides a place to create for people with developmental disabilities.

For now, the cards are available in a several Southern Oregon stores. Stay tuned for more locations. Meanwhile, I can accommodate retail orders as sets of all 10 designs with vellum envelopes for $25 + $5 s/h to US addresses. 

Email orders with your shipping address to: Payment via this PayPal link.

Take heart!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Sky Song

This poem appeared as part of the Black Earth Institute's "30 Days Hath September" Project

Sky Song

Hear the sound of the age changing—
it is the refrain of yes
shaping new constellations
from the old stories
that scroll through our days.

Hear the galaxy hum of love—
the quantum is of the unseen
singing our names (when we
only know to say them) and scheming
sweet rhymes in the forth dimension.

Let’s get invisible.
Let’s kiss elisions.
Let’s get spirit naked
and play in the river of give
and good and mmmm.

Let’s dabble in destiny
and possibility
until we turn into songsters
who heal the holes
in skies and hearts.

Let’s hum in the night.
Let’s ring in the day.
Let’s write a new chorus
across the sky with contrails
of stubborn joy.

Let’s sing it even when it hurts—
even when the blood runs,
even when the fire burns,
even when.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Beyond Myth: The Poet Sandal-Maker of Athens

The Poet Sandal-Maker and I: Athens, Greece 2006
(Thank you, Molly, for getting this photo!)
A very hairy man smiled and pointed down another, greasy Athenian street. I had my doubts, but he had great shoes. We must be close.

Molly thanked the man and led the way. Our friendship had spanned Archie comics to eBooks, and we travelled well together—tag teaming who led and who lagged behind…questioning where the other was leading.

It was my turn for the latter: “You sure he understood what you asked?”

Not long later, Molly pointed. There it was: the shop sign I’d been seeking. To a tall poet who has spent years trying to find size-12 shoes I like, the Poet Sandal- Maker of Athens was as intriguing as any myth I had read in Edith Hamilton’s Mythology.

I had brought just one pair of walking sandals with me on our ten-day trip to Greece. The weather websites had forecasted sunny delightfulness, and I had decided to bring only a single, carry-on daypack. That spring, I needed to keep my life simple.

Despite spending the winter in a Swiss chalet with a fairy-tale view across the valley to Italy, it had been The Winter of my Discontent: a messy breakup, Gruyère weight gain, and the looming Indeterminate Future after returning to the US.

When Molly had asked if I wanted to join her in Greece before I returned home, my answer had been a rather desperate, “yes!”

It may be more grownup to be able to deal with one’s issues without leaving them behind, but it’s a lot more pleasant to have the change of scenery—especially when the scenery will include Athens and the Peloponnese islands.

The problem was, Athens is not the islands. It is a polluted, gray, treeless city, bearable mostly because of its headline ruins. When I climbed up the Acropolis, I wondered if it were even more magnificent when contrasted with the modern cement buildings in varying hues of sidewalk that sprawled below it into a haze of smog.

We did enjoy the antiquity. We enjoyed having the Parthenon to ourselves at dawn for the briefest of moments before the tour buses crested the hill. We enjoyed playing caryatid, taking pictures of ourselves as if we were holding up the porch of the Erechtheion.

Back in the Archie-comics era of eighth grade, Molly and I had volunteered to illustrate our classroom’s Greek myth binders. We drew Hera with gladiator sandals on ill-proportioned feet, Apollo with a lumpy bow and arrow, and Poseidon with a trident that poked past the three-hole punches. We knew our Greek mythology and our accessories.

But let’s face it: as tourists, we weren’t going to get a glimpse of Poseidon on the docks of Piraeus, and even if we did, he was notoriously aggressive. Who wants to risk encountering a stormy god with a trident and all of the Aegean Sea at his disposal?

The Poet Sandal-Maker, on the other hand....Now here was a legend we could experience.

Molly had already been inside the shop for a few minutes while I continued to stand in silly reverence on the street. She leaned out the doorway and waved at me, “Coming in?”

I stepped in to a parfumerie of leather. A long-haired artisan sat bent over a stack of soles. He smiled when we entered and kept working. The only other person in the shop was a mannequin wearing a sheer red dress in front of a wall of sandals, boxes of sandals, and chairs stacked with sandals. 

The man introduced himself as the son of Stavros Melissinos, the poet of the shop’s name. My disappointment at not meeting the legend himself disappeared as soon as the son pointed us toward the wall of shoe design options. Choices spanned leather hues, band widths, strap lengths, and ties. Deciding to stick to my plan of keeping it simple, I opted for a single pair: an elegant variation on the flip-flop called the Minoan. 

After measuring my feet, the third-generation sandal maker began to craft my sandals at a worktable invisible beneath strata of soles, Marlboro boxes, knives, and pliers.

Within minutes, I had custom-made sandals. They were smooth as the yogurt and honey we’d had for breakfast and just as sweet. Kneeling before me, the sandal maker adjusted the leather while I asked him questions about poetry. When he was finished, he looked up to see what I thought. I smiled—a genuine, eye-crinkling smile I hadn’t felt across my face in a long time.

Molly was laughing. “I hope my sandals make me look half that happy.”

I pulled off one of my new shoes to examine it. The sandal soles were imprinted with the poet’s trademark: the gestural profile of a face. The image could have been carved on a column at the Acropolis. Or it could have been an illustration from the Odyssey translation I’d read a few years before.

“The leather will stretch. It will get very soft,” the sandal maker said as I slipped the shoe back on and began to walk around the shop.

He was standing now, watching me wiggle my toes. The thongs were tight, but I trusted his advice.

And he was right. They did stretch. They are now so soft they shine. I walked in them later that week on the Peloponnese island of Hydra, later that month through the wine country of the Languedoc, years later to a wedding in Montana, and recently into a serendipitous Market Street encounter on a sunny, San Francisco afternoon.

They are my go-to summer sandals for nicer occasions: flat, lightweight, and easy to pack. When I pull them out of my bag and see the imprint of the Poet Sandal- Maker logo, I am always reminded that there is joy down the most unpromising of streets.

Maybe it was shallow of me to be equally thrilled by leather sandals cut to fit my feet in Zeus’s homeland as by the Parthenon at dawn. Or maybe the things that make the journey possible and pleasant can be just as important as the destinations they bring us to.