Yesterday was publication day for AFTER DARK, POEMS ABOUT NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, and I had a great day. My thanks to everyone who helped in some way to make the occasion so special.
Today is Stop #10 on the tour and I’m happy to say that the host is Renee La Tulippe, in Italy over at No Water River (https://www.nowaterriver.com/). Most of you know Renee and/or her wonderful achievements in preserving the work and voices of poets. On an early occasion when she interviewed me, for some reason I was full of silly responses and that’s how our relationship began. I’m not sure Renee believes I have a serious thought in my head because when she agreed to host me on this tour I sent her my answers first. Well…
So I’ve been looking forward to seeing today’s post and discover what my patient friend has managed to make of what I sent her. I hope you’ll enjoy her post. I’m quite sure that I will.
Renee, let the fun begin. Seriously.
This weather puts a serious dent in my goo foffing schedule. Okay it was over 70, but I couldn’t see the beach. Another poor baby for me.
But on the bright side, today is the second stop on my blog tour to introduce people to AFTER DARK, POEMS ABOUT NOCTURNAL ANIMALS. My thanks to Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink
I went to the basement to put something away and found my old arrowhead collection as well as a basket filled with most of my mineral collection. But what held my eye longest, and made the trip upstairs with me where it now resides beside my keyboard, was a jar containing the sun-dried body of a lizard.
I’m not sure what kind of lizard it is but I’m guessing it’s a Desert Spiny Lizard. It was dead and already mummified, just as it appears now, when I found it 75 years ago on an Indian reservation in southern Arizona.
Our neighbor across the street managed a store on the Papago Reservation a few miles from where we lived in Ajo. One day I went out with him and his son, who was my age, and we spent an afternoon roaming around and chumming with some of the Indian kids. I remember poking around in a hole in a bank they told us was a coyote den. At the cemetery we stood in awe of the shards of colored glass that lined the walls around it.
Another stop was at an open air cistern long in disuse. We all climbed down into the open pit and that’s where I found the skeletal remains of the lizard. Even at that age I was a collector so one of our hosts came up with a jar just large enough to hold the body.
I took it home to Ajo and kept it with me when we eventually returned to Springfield where over time I lived in four houses. I stored it in my folks’ basement during the years when we lived in Atlanta, Evansville, and Kansas City, and reclaimed it when we moved back home in 1973. Since then we’ve lived in two other houses, counting this one.
I think this relic has earned the right to come upstairs into the sunlight for a while so I can admire it again and wonder, again, what stories it might tell if it could. The Papago Reservation name was changed to the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in 1986 so history is busy covering its traces. But this unnamed lizard and I? We’re still here together.
I met poet Joy Acey Frelinger in 2011 when she attended my Highlights Foundation poetry workshop near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Joy, Jeanne Poland, Ken Slesarik, and Cory Corrado were in the same group and I love it that we’ve all stayed in regular contact over these last eight years. That’s Ken and Joy (in red) in the picture.
Yesterday Joy sent me a note about my contribution to Jane Yolen’s new form, which she has dubbed the Tendrillon. Here’s Joy’s note/suggestion.
“I like your reply poem to Jane’s challenge BUT your ending couplet didn’t make much sense to me. I’d like to suggest for the last line:
I’ll drink martinis, very dry.”
And here’s my response.
“Thanks for the suggested revision. I meant my tongue in cheek ending to smack of irony: after over imbibing on wine for so long, my speaker decides to turn to vodka until he gets all that vine out of his system. Your suggestion changes my meaning but is a clearer solution. I’ll mention this on my blog.”
Sometimes when a writer dashes off a line to reflect his meaning, the result isn’t as clear to his reader as it seems in his mind because he knows what he means to convey and the reader has to be told. This may be a good example of it. The floor is open if you care to add your own thoughts to this example or perhaps to speak in general on the subject of clarity of expression. Thanks, Joy, for creating the teaching/learning moment.