Category Archives: Regional Poets

William Stafford Tribute, 2013

In my introductory remarks at the William Stafford Tribute, I noted that Gary Snyder, Phil Whalen and Jack Kerouac spent summers in the Upper Skagit River Valley working for the US Forest Service as fire lookouts, and that Robert Sund lived most of his life in the lower valley. I don’t know how long William Stafford lingered in the valley; his footprint is mostly in the Methow River Valley on the eastern slope of the North Cascades.

Did I meet them? No. I moved with my parents to a primitive cabin on the banks of the Cascade River in 1935; lived there for a few months before moving to Rockport, then across the river. I left the upper valley after graduating from high school in 1951, before any of these men arrived.

I read the following at the tribute at Village Books in Fairhaven, Bellingham, WA, on January 17.


“I like to live in the sound of water,

in the feel of mountain air. A sharp

reminder hits me: this world still is alive;

it stretches out there shivering toward it own

creation, and I’m a part of it. …”

—William Stafford, Time for Serenity, Anyone?


            
            Born in Ice

Born in ice melts and trickling creeks,

the Skagit rushes out of Canada

through gorges, faults, breached ice-age

moraines and magma,

grows in voice and spirit

as it flows to the Sound.

Raven, salmon, eagle and The-People-of-The-River

were one in word

before King-George-People and their books,

sought to make The-River their own.

With magnanimity,

The-River has borne evils

of ditches, dikes, and dams.

When leaves rustle golden,

it calls Wind-Spirit and Rain-Spirit

to return Valley-Spirit;

and when creeks quicken and fawns drop,

it calls Shaman Spirit

 to awaken from dreaming-sleep

and return The-Valley

to days before the world changed.

Skagit River, B.C.-WA

On April 28, 1996, I read “How This Eagle Came To Be” during the ceremony when an eagle carved in cedar was presented to the North Cascades National Park in memory of my mother’s friend, Marge Martin Emmons, a member of the Upper Skagit Tribe. It was dedicated in the North Cascades Interpretive Center, Newhalem, WA, a few hundred yards from her birthplace on the Skagit River. Born in July when twinflowers were blooming, she was a lifelong nurse, dying when winter’s darkness was leaving the valley.

 

How This Eagle Came To Be

 for  Marge Martin Emmons, Upper Skagit Tribe

 July 21, 1914-April 22, 1995.

 

A long time ago—

The Skagit splashed on rocks where wild goats fed,

Eagles rested in cottonwoods by quiet waters.

All beings spoke one tongue.

First-People and animals lived in harmony.

 

One day, Creator came to this place—

Sun was smiling.  Clouds were sleeping.

Wind was touching twinflowers, tasting berries.

An eaglet danced in her virgin feathers.

 

Creator sang—

This eagle will soar over clouds,

Sing a caring song for all people,

Follow prophets to far mountains and rivers.

Gentle and wise, mindful of righteous paths,

She will see beyond horizons and tiny stones.

My spirit will be in her.


Then Creator said—

In the days when darkness leaves this valley,

When rain dances on the snow

And forget-me-nots are kissed by the dew,

This eagle will fly to her cedar tree,

To a totem crowned for eternity.

Her spirit will be forever free.

North Cascades Mountains

     Newhalem, WA


Never Been in a Canoe

“Get in!”

Marcus hollers over a deafening river.

“We’re goin’ wid’out chuh.”

“Hurry up, chicken shit,” Frank yells!

 

Marcus, fourteen, staggers

to keep his footing in the canoe bow,

leans on the pole he thrust into shallows

until it bends, holding the canoe in place.

 

Frank, thirteen, in the stern,

teeters in a wobbly balance,

pushes his pole downward

to steady the cedar shell.

 

I wade into water slapping

my knees. Grab the gunnel.

I’m almost nine, never been in a canoe.

“’Not chicken shit,” I whimper.

 

I glance at the river—

an uprooted cottonwood is diving,

rolling in the current,

coming right at us.

I look down. Shiver.

Blurt,

“It’s not yours! You

dragged it out of the brush.”

 

“Damn it, chicken shit.

Get in!”

                    Upper Skagit River

          Rockport, WA


        Summer Shower

I lay here in the semi-light of our cabin’s loft,

dreaming to the rhythm of a summer shower

raining on moss-chinked cedar shakes,

collecting in rivulets coursing the pitch,

dropping softly on June roses,

drumming rhubarb leaves.


If it stops, Dad will call me

to the pasture to auger holes

for hand-split posts replacing

those homesteaders planted,

now rotted in the ground,

no longer defending hay meadows

with rusting, sagging, barbed wire.

    South side of the Skagit River

             Rockport, WA


Clover: A Literary Rag, vol. 3

Clover: A Literary Rag, vol. 3, will be a featured event at Village Books in Old Fairhaven, Bellingham, WA, at 4:00 p.m., Saturday August 18.
    With more authors from a wider region and more pages, it is clearly a Pacific Northwest publication. This title page is the first page of the three-page table of contents.
     For more information, including cost and how to purchase Clover, see
www.independentwritersstudio.com.


National Poetry Month Celebration, 4/23/2011

        I’m pleased to be considered one of these outstanding poets, for a couple hours anyway. Even though we are asked to only read 5-6 minutes, altogether, it is going to be an stimulating and exciting event.
        The following is copied from the April calendar for Village Books in Old Fairhaven, Bellingham, WA. (
www.villagebooks.com):

“Come listen to a variety of local and regional authors read their poetry in our Readings Gallery at 6:00 pm, Saturday, April 23. This event is in celebration of National Poetry Month, and includes 18 poets, so come support their talents! The event line-up includes poets Luther Allen, Jim Bertolino, Elizabeth Colen, Oliver de la Paz, Susan Erickson, Seren Fargo, Paul Fisher, Richard Harris, Steve Hood, Malcolm Kenyon, Robert Lashley, Neil McCrea, Kevin Murphy, Nancy Pagh, Melissa Ann Queen, Tom Schabarum, Charles Van Pelt, Jeremy Voigt, and a special reading in memory of Pam Champagne. Village Books is pleased to carry titles by most of these authors. Please call 360-671-2626 for more information, or stop in the store and take a look at our display of local poetry books on the mezzanine level.”

Celebrating National Poetry Month

    I’ve joined a gaggle of poets to celebrate National Poetry Month at Village Books, Sat., Apr. 23. Yes, it is truly a gaggle, a good ME word from the 15th C. word that rises from cackle, an older ME word still. Here’ we are. Out in front, leading us will be Jim Bertolino.

 

 

GROUP POETRY READING WITH VARIOUS LOCAL & REGIONAL AUTHORS IN CELEBRATION OF NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

Start: 04/23/2011 6:00 pm

Come listen to a variety of local and regional authors read their poetry in our Readings Gallery. This event is in celebration of National Poetry Month, and includes 18 poets, so come support their talents! The event line-up includes poets Luther Allen, Jim Bertolino, Elizabeth Colen, Oliver de la Paz, Susan Erickson, Seren Fargo, Paul Fisher, Carol Guess, Richard Harris, Steve Hood, Malcolm Kenyon, Robert Lashley, Neil McCrea, Kevin Murphy, Nancy Pagh, Melissa Ann Queen, Tom Schabarum, Charles Van Pelt, and Jeremy Voigt. Village Books is pleased to carry titles by most of these authors. Please call 360-671-2626 for more information, or stop in the store and take a look at our display of local poetry books on the mezzanine level. Or, go to www.villagebooks.com.