Monday, July 29, 2013

Poetry of the Earth

We circum-navigate an island hemmed in by the sea

Whisked to shore in a frenzy of exploration 

kelp beds squish and pop under foot.

Old mining camps and lodges left vacant

leave a trace of unsettling mystery, the dying out  

of what was hungered for, then:

gold, primal beauty, solitude.

We set shrimp pots, sink halibut hooks, and

listen and wait for whatever arises within us:

a confession, a joke, a memory, a story until

the rise and clap of blue water rushes up and 

something breaks the surface; we can

feel their pulse and rhythm with our own out-of-tune instrument

and briefly, we are in harmony with that which 

cannot be expressed in mere words and phrases,

like a totem shoreline

or an errant cloud.

Artful poems can be written here,

beautiful paintings painted.

The scientist can calculate, the surveyor work his logic:

but the enchantment of this day is ours.

In the unbroken chain of eager explorers 

(we are the ecstatics

we claim it as our seeing, our first time, 

our perfect connection 

to the deepest and ever-lasting vibrations of life.

*Location: Knight Island, Prince William Sound, Alaska

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thought Bubbles, Random Squiggles

While hiking in the mountains with friends, I began to take notice of how much my mind jumps around from subject to subject on those steep, uphill climbs to the summit. On the flatlands, the chatter of family events, summer plans and work headaches dominated our easy pace. 

Planting our walking poles and placing one foot in front of the other, the elevation change began to take root, and our lively conversations  stopped. Instead we turned our thoughts inward, attending to each footfall, and coveting every breath as the hike took on a more strenuous note. 

It got real quiet, and I imagined thought bubbles floating above everyone's heads. 

If memory serves me, the order of my thoughts (unrelated) went something like this: 

First...what is the cause of autism? This most puzzling and increasingly prevalent disorder is on the rise, and I wonder what is its origin. 

Second: What was the last Ingmar Bergman movie I saw?

One night I did an Ingmar Bergman movie marathon. His films are in black and white, with high and low camera angles, disturbing shadows and overall an minimalist effect. Big bowl of popcorn in my lap.  

He said (paraphrased): No art passes our conscience in the way film does; (it) goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our soulsGreat stuff. 

Then a Game of Thrones marathon with my son, Zachary. Big bowls of popcorn in our laps. 
Egret shoots John Snow with her bow and arrows (I about died, rolling on the floor).  Khaleesi, proud and beautiful, frees the slaves. Great stuff…brilliant and engaging. 

Third: I would love to walk the streets of New York just to see all the lovely clothes people wear. And jewelry. Like in Italy. While on a train in Tuscany, I couldn’t stop drawing women and their loud jewelry, big beads, colorful scarves and purses, sensible shoes, and very very nice skirts. 

What would it be like to dress up everyday? I think it would make you feel grand. Where I live in Alaska, we’re grubby on a day-to-day basis, which equates to comfortable, but essentially boring.

Bear tracks. The girls and I stop for a look. Are we standing upwind? 

Fourth: Remembering things on my 2013 To Do List: 

1).  Finish poems (in the file cabinet and on the computer for the past year and a half). 

2).  Finish illustrating a children's book, titled Bananas Are Moons. No publisher yet; 
      consider self-publishing with CreateSpace. Anyone out there have any experience with  

3).  Learn how to make Time Capsules.

A Time Capsules is a video of small things in your life…soft rain on the windows, an orange coffee mug steaming with hot chocolate, Coral’s flowery rubber boots, the pink afghan Susan made for me, kids crushing the Slip N' Slide on a hot day. Snapshots in time strung together to make a beautiful little film.

Fifth: Things I miss: deciduous trees, walking sticks (the alive kind, literally, sticks that walk), violent thunderstorms, lightening bugs we used to catch and put in Mason jars. We don’t have these things where I live. We worry about other things, like cranky old bears and  moose with an attitude. At least you can see them coming.
A ground squirrel darts across the path. We stop for a look. Drink some water. Swat the pesky mosquitoes (I could never be a Buddhist). The trail gets pretty steep. A most outstanding view. 

Sixth: A memory: On a trip to Paris I made a grave mispronunciation (in French) by asking a man on the street where is the train station? Or so I thought. Instead, I asked him where is the war? 

Oh, the look on his face. Some things you just never forget. 

The girls and I stop again; this time for photographs. Mary smiling. Jean standing on a huge rock, Ginny calling her dog who’s running all over the tundra, frantically sniffing the ground

Seventh: For some strange reason, I have a thought about smoking a cigarette. One of those additive-free Native American brands. 

I am not a smoker. 
Hope it's not a sign of something (gravely) imminent.

Eighth: I worry too much about all manner of things. Like pesticide drift (we’re spraying our children who breathe the air), affordable health care for everyone, did I turn the stove off before leaving the house? 

Ninth: A post card collage is my next thought. I will make a postcard collage when I get off this mountain. I have a big stack of them: hotel postcards, beer advertisements, old ladies in big hats. Boys showing off their muscles-retro cards. Waterfalls in Hawaii. Famous monuments. Collage time!

Tenth: A memory: Pulling shrimp pots out on Prince William Sound. Julie and I bathing in a freshwater stream...screaming with exhilaration it is so cold.

Uh oh. Bear scat on the trail...still steaming. Make noise. Sing. 
Mary Poppins. Fiddler on The Roof. Oklahoma. Any musical will do.

We are:  a nurse, a teacher, a widow, and two retirees. We carefully pole (several pairs of bad knees) back down the mountainside. Inhale. Exhale. One step after another. A walking mountain meditation. 

We sing. The hills are alive with The Sound of Music.

Back to ground zero. Back to our daily lives. Back to important, purposeful thoughts.


Monday, July 8, 2013

We Are Stardust, We Are Golden

                                My brother sent me a cryptic email for my 60th birthday; all it said was:

                                  "Arrival On Earth"
                                  and my immediate response was: 

                                  "I Have Landed" 

                          For a moment I felt other-worldly, like an alien who'd   
                                 stumbled off a spacecraft from a distant planet.
                                 Scientists say we originated from stardust and share a common 
                                 set of elements. If this is true, are we merely accidents gaining     
                                 momentum (like snowflakes), picking up hydrocarbons while tumbling 
                                 wide-eyed through reams and reams of exploding dark matter?
                                 Ahem. Earth to Monica.

                               Or are we human beings created with a clearly focused Intention (see
                               Genesis...dust!), totally unique to billions of others in this giant
                               human swimming pool of a planet?

                               Given the short time we are blessed with life, I've thought 
                               about the conundrums of death and aging, not because they
                               are morbid subjects or I'm cloaked in any sort of depressive
                               state, but because they are wholly fascinating subjects to
                               ponder, and the latter (because I haven't personally lived
                               through the former...haha) is odd and really is somewhat
                               "other-worldly" to observe.

                               I now view the world as an entirely different place as I did 
                               in young adulthood, not because science, technology and
                               the Internet have expanded my perspective, but because
                               I'm old enough to perceive changes in perspective on
                               an extended timeline. When you're a fish in water, you don't notice the 
                               water; history is happening day to day, moment to moment, but
                               not entirely digested until later when there is an accumulation
                               of time stacked behind you, like water behind a dam.

                               There is an acute awareness now of taking stock of events, big and 
                               small, personal and impersonal. With all this accelerated to the nth 
                               degree of change going on, the question remains: do things ever
                               really change? Are we still talking about sustainability ( a repeat
                               of the 1970's...remember our holy bible, The Mother Earth News?), 
                               or how to end wars or prevent them from starting (power and resource 
                               duels, nothing new).

                               At 60, you can see the world from a distance and view differences and 
                               similarities that have accumulated over time. Splendidly interesting.

                                                                        D. Di Zio
                               The body. Oh yes, lest we talk about the body. My mom summed
                                it up like this: "Picture an old car; parts just start rusting and
                                fall off." She told me this when I was 40 (watching her own body
                                changing) and I had no idea what she was talking about. Pretty
                                grim. Too abstract.

                                But now I get it. Concrete as hell.

                                It's bizarre to look in the mirror and say, who is that? Is that the 
                                16-year-old ground me for the rest of my life, I don't care, it was worth
                                it - hellion you were 44 years ago?  Or the glowing, enchanted and
                                electrified woman holding and kissing her first born for the first time
                                a mere 31 years ago?  Or the highly irritable menopausal hellion-repeat
                                I won't go into details, a short 10 years ago?

                               At 60, not only do you realize a relatively long experience of life, but the 
                               lives of others, too. Grandparents gradually shrink and fade from view
                               while children enlarge and ignite the entire landscape. When our 
                               neighbor kids burst through the door (we installed a doorbell to
                               accomodate their height), the whole house lights up with laughter
                               and beautiful non-stop chatter.

                               Please: Don't put me in a home when I'm old; put me where I can
                               hear the laughter of children.

                               And finally, by 60 you realize nothing lasts. You rust out or you burn out,
                               but out you go. The bad times will pass (and so will the good) and as                                    my friend Kathy Drue, says, life consists of moments arising, one after
                               another after another, that we have no control over and can only                                            respond to as intelligently as possible. All the masks we wear, the roles 
                               we play, the mistakes made, triumphs experienced...all of it comprises  
                               the outer shell of our existence while the inner mystery remains intact,
                               indestructible and energy that pulses through the universe,
                              (call it god, the source, the life force)...picking up particles on
                              its flight through space, creating black holes, big bangs, planets, 
                              stardust and real honest-to-goodness people.

                              Thank you brother, for the succinct off-kilter birthday wish.
                              Got me thinking.

                               The 1950's

Monday, July 1, 2013


           Today I remembered when you were six,

           the first time we crested the hill

           that rolled Kachemak Bay into breath-taking forms

           water & sky & blue glaciers,

           tall sandy bluffs;

           we combed the beach for driftwood

           kayaked in quiet coves

           told stories 'round a ring of fire.

          Our house was empty for a while when you boys left (years ago)

          to investigate the wider world, try on new ways of being,

          craft lives you could call your own.

          California, Europe, Oregon, explored this shiny penny called world, and

     then one day, with your hearts full and satisfied, you came back

     to raw memories, to strange hours of daylight, to worn river rock & tall green trees.

     Today long trails of grey clouds create their own rhythm & light

      singing a pure song, a remembered song of pricking

      ocean smells, damp sand, faithful old friends and vibrant new loves.

           We excavate dreams on a bar napkin, sketch out rooms and plans

      where to build for the best Bay view, how ground water burrows and drains.

      Your dreams entwine with ours (yes, we still have them at age 62)

      and though the day is grey we synch our senses,

      approach a renewed state of mind

       toast our precious connections,

       and raise our cups to the sky, catching the rain.