Sunbeams: What if the catalyst or the key to understanding creation lay somewhere in the immense mind of the whale? . . . Suppose if God came back from wherever it is he’s been and asked us smilingly if we’d figured it out yet. Suppose he wanted to know if it had finally occurred to us to ask the whale. And then he sort of looked around and he said, “By the way, where are the whales?” --Cormac McCarthy
So I went to the last Public Strawberry Hill Master Plan meeting tonight. It was an open house, lots of pretty pictures around, very few people. I was honestly doing ok with the aerial photographs of trails and such, but when I got to the conceptual plan for the picnic area, my heart broke. Not one picnic pavilion for 100, but what appears to be three picnic pavilions, room for at least 250. And a paved road right up into the meadow for their shuttles, with a loopy turnaround. I had taken some half page flyers with me, simple bullet points outlining where we are in the court case, along with info on the Parks Department's North Cheyenne Cañon Master Plan and its effects on South Cheyenne Cañon. I put them out on the tables, a little pile on each side of their comment boxes, and then proceeded to walk around and talk to folks. The flyers were purple, so they stood out against the white tabletops. About five or ten minutes later, I noticed they were gone. I scanned the room and saw a woman (one of several standing at the entry table) holding them behind her back. Some of them had been torn in half, and some of them were folded over in her hands. I approached her and said, "Can I have my papers back please?" At this point, I really didn't think anything of it, and fully expected her to just hand them over. As I reached out my hands for the papers, she pulled away and said that I would have to ask Jack about it. That's Jack Damioli, President and CEO of the Broadmoor. You can't miss him in the room: he's the tall one with the cashmere pullover sweater and loafers. So I walked over to him and asked, "Could I get my papers back please?" Slowly, he stuck his hands into his front pockets, pulled the insides out, looked down at me, and said,"I don't have your papers." And yeah, it really was in that tone you just imagined: full of power and sarcasm, and it was condescending and patronizing as heck. Miraculously, somehow, I was still calm at that point, and replied: "I know you don't have my papers, she has my papers." (gesturing to the woman across the room). Jack: "Then why are you talking to me?" Me: "Because she told me that I had to come and ask you." Jack: "Well, I don't know where your papers are." Me: "She has them, I told you that already, and I would like them back." Again, I point out the woman who had them, but she doesn't have them in her hands anymore, which gives him even more license to repeat the line that he doesn't know where they are. This went on for several more crazy-making rounds of me asking/demanding and him lying/deflecting. Then finally Jack said I couldn't get them back, because it was their meeting. I even told him I would put them in my purse and take them home, if they would just gave them back. He still refused. I'm not sure where it went from there... me wandering around the room, visibly shaken now, close to tears, a Colorado Springs police officer standing by the door on duty for them (?!), watching me. I decided to approach the woman one more time and ask her if I could have my papers. She just shrugged and gave me a look that said it was out of her control. I saw a glimmer of pity in her eyes, and I know that if it were just her and me, she might have given them back. She did see me getting one of the chocolate chip cookies from the tray at the end of the meeting, and she told me to take as many as I wanted; I kinda think it was her way of saying she was sorry. I also know if it were just Chris Lieber (used to work for Parks, now works for NES) and me, he might have helped. We had had a good conversation earlier in the meeting -- spirited yet respectful. But their hands are tied, I get it. I suppose it was at that point that I became the crying crazy woman in the room. "Just give me back my papers. It's not that hard. They're mine. My paper, my ink. I want them back." I sat down at a table and just decided to wait. I waited until they were packed up and getting ready to leave, which happened to be about 45 minutes before the meeting was actually scheduled to end, because there was no one there. I waited until Jack Damioli had left. I waited until I thought it was safe to ask one more time. But by then I knew it was hopeless. I simply said to the half dozen or so workers, "I guess I'm not getting my papers back, am I?" Without looking me in the eyes and without really saying anything, I had my answer. I'm still shook. Not because they took my papers, destroyed them, and infringed upon my First Amendment right, but because one powerful man reduced that whole room to subservience, and me to tears. The Broadmoor is a bully. Go to brunch with your friends, spend the night with your spouse, ride the cog railway (oh, wait, you can't!) if you want, but please know this: if you do, your money helps pay that man to humiliate me.
I sit with my notebook and write at a wobbly, splintery picnic table, one of many under this public pavilion. At least some underpaid city employee was told to paint them brown. Through the scrub oaks, I see: four old ladies with hiking poles and sun hats, three hardcore mountain bikers, a snake of multi-generational hikers, two deer grazing, a young couple from Palmer Park stringing up a hammock, an elder couple with binoculars, a mother and teenage daughter looking for a trash can in which to place their pooch's poop. I scramble up a short social trail to the mesa above the pavilion, and there it is: a spectacular view of Strawberry Fields, where King Philip plots his Broadmooresque stable and bbq party venue. Up here, I watch a hawk hover, hear a bluebird call, and discover a decomposing coyote. Below, in the south canyon, I watch white whales shuttle up and down, as a blaring ambulance struggles upstream towards Seven Falls. The trails on this wild and unnamed mesa below Mt. Cutler are slated to be closed in the new Master Plan -- a plan meant to deflect from the city's neglect. What should a Master Plan have? What does a City Park need? Closed public roads? More trailheads and parking lots for tourists? Private-public partnerships where somebody profits? Ideas that will never be funded because we can't even afford to take care of what we've got?
Nah. What we really need is simple and more cost-effective than that:
places that cater not only to our tourists, but to anyone seeking respite from the city
picnic tables made from those newfangled-recycled-weather-resistant materials
small parking areas that make the creek and its coolth easily accessible to all
trail systems that respect and reflect the needs of the locals who use them
a limited number of cars, but only during peak summer weekends
a regular maintenance crew to keep the picnic areas beautiful
I made this with an app. I don't want to learn to speak "app" right now, but I'm going to. For words, images, and sounds. Here we go!
It just takes a little longer. It's so easy with the platforms kids are using today: instagram, snapchat, etc... I had to save the image by emailing it to myself, then downloading it onto the computer, and then uploading it from "downloads" into this blog post.
I stole this most excellent graphic from my friend Sarah Hope's new blog, in which she dares herself and all the rest of you humans to do things that might make you see/feel/experience life a little differently. A few weeks ago, she dared us to put our feet in the mud. For some, I know this is crossing a boundary of sorts, but for me, that's just another day in the woods. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, really.
But I decided to do it anyway. Not knowing where, exactly to find mud in the middle of July, I decided that there must be some down by Cheyenne Creek, a short walk out my back door.
After a bit of searching, I found the perfect creekside rock, set my composition book down, removed my Chaco sandals, and sank my feet into the water. Ooooohhh. Already, I was thanking Sarah in my mind.
At the bottom, about nine inches down, my feet touched not mud, but coarse granite sand, a natural foot massager if ever there was one. My gratitude for Sarah's dare grew bigger. It felt so good I decided to take a walk upstream. I probably ventured only about 30 yards before turning around, but taking steps barefoot in creeks is such a calculated, mindful experience, it felt like an epic journey. Plus - it was a whole new world in there! There was a hiking path on one side of me, and a road on the other, but under the canopy of the trees and with the rippling sounds of the water, they disappeared. Then I remembered creek hiking at Camp Kilowan every summer! Then I started singing: "Kilowan, Kilowan, your maidens have gathered...."! Then I remembered fairy boats! Then I wanted to bring everyone I knew on a creek hike! I still do! I have no idea how if it would work (the creek's pretty narrow), but if anyone wants to come with me, I dare you.
(Unfortunately, my phone died just as I was taking it out to get some photos. I was angry for about two seconds, and then figured it was actually kind of a gift. No one knew where I was, and there was no way for them to reach me. I found this to be an extremely pleasing circumstance. Anyway, here's a photo of Cheyenne Creek from the internets)
I finally returned to my rock and grabbed my composition book. Here is what I wrote:
The water will almost always flow faster than your stride -- get used to it. Pine cone canoes navigate the rapids by not navigating. submerge resurface flounder snag Will you will recognize in yourself the false prophet if you stay too long in one place? The key is to connect and disconnect in a cycle prescribed by the cottonwood leaf Thank you, Sarah. For the memories, new and old.
Huh. Here's a poem I found that said "draft". I remember writing it, but I totally forgot about it. It's dated 4/1/17. I wonder how many other drafts I have in here.
It seems somehow important and relevant that I discovered it TODAY, being the fourth of July and all. I remember I was trying to copy a form (from Gerard Manley Hopkins) and that it involved rhyming, and it was hard, but rewarding. Anyway, happy whatever, America!
Glory be to God for dappled beings —
For humans of couple-color;
For the immigrants' brindled descendants;
Butt-dimpled newborns who cross borders in slings;
Deserts dotted with dolor;
Following the Pied Piper of Independence;
Vainglorious attempts at Euclidian geometry;
Whatever is not-so-evenly divided (smaller);
Freckled, splotched, mottled, transcendent;
He knows that beauty does not rely on symmetry:
I'm going to attempt to write a few of my truths regarding the new Twin Peaks The Return. I'm not sure where it will take me. Trying to write about Twin Peaks feels sort of like entering the Red Room itself. Anyway, here goes...
Truth #1: I've only watched through episode 4.
Truth #2: The first time I watched Blue Velvet I was in college, and so stunned out of my everyday existence that I walked around for days in a daze, wondering if what I thought about the world was even real. I've been a Lynch fan ever since.
Truth #3: That said, regarding Twin Peaks, I'm only in it for the nostalgia.
Truth #4: I loved Agent Cooper with a fancrush love. Now he's gone (well, actually, there are more of him, but none of them are the one I loved), and I haven't fallen in love with any of the characters yet in the new series. This is a huge problem. At its heart, a show needs a sympathetic character to draw me in. The sympathy is gone.
Truth #5: Oh shit, there it is! Why David Lynch is still relevant. There is no sympathy in a world that has Bob in it.
Truth #6: I fell asleep twice during the past four episodes. (It was late, and I was soooo sleeeeppyyyyy...... but still). Well, damn, there it is again. The excessive slowness of the pace only serves to reveal our own shrinking attention spans.
Truth #7: When Bobby walked into the room, saw Laura's photo on the table, and cried, I cried right along with him. Classic Twin Peaks soap-opera moment, complete with Laura Palmer theme song. Thanks, Dave.
Truth #8: Twin Peaks The Return makes me laugh. Andy and Lucy's son telling his parents they can do whatever they want now with his childhood bedroom. Lucy's incomprehension about how cell phones work. Every time Cooper yells, "Helllloooooo" at the slot machine. Former psychiatrist Dr. Jacoby spray painting shovels gold. My favorite so far, though, is when Lynch, playing FBI Director Gordon Cole, says, "I hate to admit this, but I don't understand this situation at all."
Truth #9: OMG this moment!
Truth #10: If you understand this genus of funny, we can be friends.
I have two poems in process right now. They were seeded in two different forms. One was on
20 July 2017 and is handwritten in my wide-ruled Composition Book; the second is in Notes on my iphone, auto-dated July 18, 2017, to which I attached pictures that may never make it here. The journey is almost too far, even though it's wireless. The distance is time.
I am going to transcribe each of these "seed writings" onto the blog, and, of course, revise as I go. It can't be helped. I am curious to discover how two juxtaposed starting positions might create a different experience for me as a writer as I struggle toward publishing. How did I get from there to here? Did handwriting or texting have better outcomes?
Neither the texted Note nor the handwritten Composition will be better or worse than the other when typed up here on my blog. I have no way to prove this hypothesis. Maybe the proof will be, "What do my friends think?"
A first draft (Stage 1) ever only really exists as its seed. You don't get to read those. Nobody does.
This, right here, is Stage 2.
Also, lately, my blog posts have been Stage 3 poems. They have been labored over and crafted. I'm very proud of them. But they lack something. Voice, maybe? Context? I don't know. Like I haven't wanted to just write for the sake of writing anymore... There's always too much thinking now.
I like thinking about poems as having Stages, though. Like cancer.
Please remember that what you are about to read are Stage 2 poems, maybe 2B. They still have lots of growing up to do. Any kindnesses or critiques you might like to bestow on them will be welcomed!
Also remember that you do not know which is which. I think they call this a "blind" study, but I honestly really don't know. Feel free to make guesses.
Write each of your poems
as if it were your last—
As if all tattoos were temporary,
which they are, of course,
if you really think about it.
Send each of your words
to the darkest cave chamber, whose
walls have never known sunlight.
Make sure your poems have
napped in hammocks and
slept on Greyhound busses.
Let your phrases pierce our defenses
like terrorists, and be the Ones Who
Know. Read every poem three times—
you can't get it all on the first go.
Don't even try.
Write each of your poems
as if someone will read it
We remember backwards best
I walked where once we kissed
My body remembers it as resurrection
My imperfect memory sees pathos
Here's the hole into which we almost fell
The lessons are all common sense
And we thought the trees and their shadows
could hide us from the moon.