Departure 

I don’t know how you experienced travelers do it. For me to leave on any trip is a challenge, let alone an overseas trip. Here is a glimpse of my reality. The good news is, I am finally here my printmaking workshop at the Ballinglen Art Center, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland.


It all started with an idea 

manifesting 

to a penciled entry on my calendar

Later changing to ink.

As the date drew closer and closer

Loose ends started appearing everywhere 

Coming out of crevices

I didn’t know existed.

I tripped repeatedly over them

And as one grabbed my ankle

I fell into a vortex 

Of whirling procrastination.

Round and round I went

Until I grabbed the

Dangling loose ends

Pulled myself up

Then tied them all together in a tight knot.

I finished gathering all my belongings

And left.

Breathless, I found my seat, buckled up

And sighed with relief.

The door closed

We taxied and took off.

Peering below were a few more loose ends

Shrinking in the distance 

Gyrating like frustrated cobras 

Trying to bite me.

But it was too late

I was off.

The Penultimate Travelers- the Furred, Feathered, and Finned

Travel for humans, for the most part, is a lifestyle choice.  We travel the earth to seek &fall experience, new destinations that pull on our hearts.  But humans aren’t the only travelers on this planet.  When it comes down to it, we are totally put to shame by those in the animal world where travel is mandatory.  For many, the mysterious urge of migration calls some of the earth’s smallest inhabitants to take journeys unfathomable to our minds.arctic-tern-1249243_1920

  • Consider the Arctic Tern who flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year.  Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles through several generations from regions throughout Canada to one small mountaintop in Mexico to spend the winter.  Pacific salmonsalmon-273062_1920 are born in mountain streams and swim down to the open ocean only to return years later.  They travel the hundreds of miles to that very spot where they hatched, to reproduce, & subsequently die.  The pull of migration affects tiny hummingbirds, whales, caribou, wildebeest & many other species too numerous to name.

butterflies-807551_1920As a trained naturalist, and as I ponder my own motivations for travel,  I wonder what it must be like for one of these creatures when one day, they wake up and its time for them to leave?  What do they experience when often they must depart the only place they have every known to embark on an unfathomable journey of such physical magnitude?

I wrote this poem thinking of a bird during its first migration & what it might be like….

 

 FIRST MIGRATION

A sliver of a moon

Shimmered off my left shoulder

As we pumped our wings

Rhythmically, silently

Through the darkness of the frigid night.

The urge unexplained

Tugged on my soul

& led me onward, North

Guided by stars

And the pull of the earth.

leaving the familiar behind

An unknown destiny awaiting.

I revel in the freedom of flight

Trusting the whispers from deep within

I follow the others to a foreign land

On a course mapped by generations before me.

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On The Way

It was the late 1950s and America was on the road.  My family was one of them.  Some of my fondest memories were from these times and our many camping trips to Yosemite National Park & beyond. This one’s for you, Dad…..

“Are we almost there yet?”1309f33c20927d222859100d29bb9db5

I whined to my parents as we motored down seemingly endless highways

punctuated with Burma-Shave signs,jack44

Jumbo Orange stands and other odd roadside attractions.

We traveled to the pace of a ’56 Chevy Station wagon

two-toned Red & White

unbuckled with my older brother in the way back
56 chevy

windows rolled down

stifling heat & wind flapping about our ears

while we sang songs in harmony

& read piles of comic books

rejoicing in those stops

with dripping ice cream cones

32bjackalope2briding2bjack2bpc2b5& Jackalope postcards

on the way to that perfect camp spot under shady pine trees.

We slept under the stars on army cots

tucked in thick sleeping bags lined with red flannel plaid

waking to the “shhhhhh” sound of the Coleman stove.

We waded in creeks turning over rocks exposing odd bugs yosemite-post-card

& released crude sailboats made of wood scraps &  white rag sails

into the current past our tin can waterwheels.

It was a wild wonderland

for a young girl with legs as spindly as a colt’s.

Now looking back to those years from the arc of adulthood

“Are we almost there yet?”

We were there

We were there all the time.

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The Poetry of Loss

There is no roadmap through grief.  I find peace through writing after the recent passing of my father.  Here are two poems…

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ON THE DAY MY FATHER DIED

I heard the earth sigh

Above the splash of tears

His spirit slipped away quietly

It’s shell worn from years of living

It was lifted by the cadence of prayer

Then finally free

He ascended

Into the arms of angels

And as we mourned him by his bedside

The heavens welcomed his spirit

Unencumbered by flesh

Finding peace among the stars

Forever in our hearts.

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THE GRIEF WASHED OVER ME

Like a strong wave of the sea

My face hit bottom

My cheek scraping the coarse sand

I stood up and was knocked down

Over and over again

Until I released to the ocean’s power

And washed up spent upon the shore.

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Mistakes Happen

Why is it we learn so much when things don’t go as planned?  I ponder this again after not thinking things through and doing my homework before entering the art show I participated in last weekend.

Mistakes happen

Errors of judgment

Unpleasant results

Usually expensive

Literally & figuratively

Missed – takes

Such

Learning opportunities

In this university of life

This education is exhausting

But apparently required

To reach one’s true destination

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To the Homeless Man on the Street Corner

I saw you there

As I waited in queue to turn left

Windshield wipers chasing furious raindrops

The wind buffeting your cardboard sign

HOMELESS

JUST GOT JOB

NEED MONEY FOR WORKBOOTS

PLEASE HELP

The line of cars began to move forward

I turned left, not stopping for the man

Shame spreading down to my toes

In warm leather shoes.

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This experience happened to me last week as I was leaving the grocery store parking lot.  Why do I freeze up when I see homeless people on street corners asking for money? No matter what the backstory, these people are in need and they aren’t out stealing for it.

I live on a very modest income but I have enough to where I contribute to charities monthly.  Maybe it’s seeing the actual face of need in person? All I know is that I did not go back through the traffic but I am making a commitment to change.

I just started following a blog by Cristian Mihai. Cristian is a talented writer from Romania with some type of serious, ongoing medical issues that appear to keep him housebound. He has put out a plea for donations to help pay is medical bills after his attempt to sell reblogs & books has not been enough.  In a sense, he has put himself on a virtual street corner.  To be honest, that same morning I had read his post, I felt the same hesitancy as when I drove past the man on the street corner. When I got home I made immediately made a donation to him on his Pay Pal account.

Times are tough for many in the world, but there is enough to go around if the wealth is spread.  Cristian has over 120,000 followers.  If every one of those followers donated $.15, his 8,000 medical treatment could be covered.  I am humbled when I think of when back to when my son was critically ill as an infant. Friends and strangers stepped up to help out.  Generosity is something I need to continue working on.

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