MTPR

poetry

"Montana Inventory"

Jul 21, 2014

At 85 miles an hour an insect splattered
like saffron on the windshield
and a white cloud in blue sky above the
     speed-curried bug

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"Jada"

Jun 30, 2014

Are you frickin' kidding me?
Yes, Jada, woman, sister, yes
I am. Smile, Jada, there is more
to laugh at than you know.

In Haida, you pronounce the J.
Jada. It means woman. It says
sister, and in this matriarchal culture
gone to hell in a hand basket or a highbrow
hat that one woman remembers how to weave,
it is one hell of a handle, hell
for a fifteen year old to handle. Jada
who in the hell were they frickin kidding
when they named you?

Brian D'Ambrosio, Huffington Post

5/13/14: This week on "Home Ground:" Merriam Webster's dictionary defines "poem" as "a composition in verse, especially a highly developed, imaginative one." Poetry enjoys great popularity in some cultures, but not in the U.S. Does this matter? Can something be done about it? Tami Haaland, raised on a farm on the Hi-Line, thinks it does and it can. She's Montana's poet laureate.

5/5/2014 - If you’d ask most people, they’d rather stay at home and watch a Seinfeld rerun than go to a poetry reading. Yet almost imperceptibly poetry enriches our lives and generates cultural growth and change. Think about it. Add up all the myriad poetry-related activities: readings, workshops, symposia, retreats, undergraduate and MFA programs at universities, books, zines, websites, spoken word recordings, then throw in lyric writing for theater and the multi-billion dollar music industry.

"Birds of a Feather"

Mar 24, 2014

Each spring the hummingbirds hover
over the same place on my patio
Where twenty-four years ago hung
a red plastic feeder filled with sugar water

Four or five fowl generations later
through some unfathomable feat
these offspring flutter wings over
empty air in worship of this sacred spot

And I wonder if my great grandparents
fed off the magnificence of the Rio Grande
Where it divides New Mexican high desert
Blood of Christ Mountains on one side
and burnt amber sunset on the other

"Emerald"

Mar 17, 2014

Unbidden, a green memory
sprang forth, so overwhelming
in its clarity, it leapt across
three quarters of a century:
I stood before a counter-top
of jewelry, eye height, beside
my father who had brought me to
that "five and dime" store in the Bronx.
          Among the many rings displayed,
one gleaming emerald shone there
surpassing all the rest, and, firmly set
within a silver band, it was on sale
just for one dollar that my father
told the saleslady I'd saved.
          I bought the ring to give my mother

Montana Indian Poetry and Culture

Feb 19, 2014

Historian, teacher, and poet Joseph McGeshick talks about Montana’s Native American poets and about what’s happening on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. He also read a few of his poems.

"Still Alive"

Feb 10, 2014

Grain from farms along the Highline
fills the hold of Nordic Monarch.
Madrona sheds its bark like skin and
the surface of the sea is more
sensitive than skin. Somewhere
my noble fir breathes in
a million cells of air.

"Children of Snow"

Feb 3, 2014

                                       for my Children

I try to stay snow that my children wish
would come hard in Missoula, come hard
in me. There is fun in me like children
of fox and geese, sleds without tracks,
without worry. Yet this winter weighs heavy
as wet snow as I visit Welch and ramble
wishing for right time for ripe snow.

Sing a song for all children
who know that snow is holy,
falls holy on us, we, who should rejoice
in this time of work, of play, of holy
laughter that rings at crisp stars.

"Study for the Ridgeline Blue in Winter"

Jan 27, 2014

Throbs up from the darkening draws, eluding
dusk's clutch. Calls out and the owl
calls back, answering with her own ample koan.
When the world was flat we thought darkness
fell. Now we know it rises firelike from earth,
spindling up the oaks' trunks, engulfing
ridge and canopy.
                      The resulting smoke, then—
hue of a breath exhaled by a late-arriving disciple
come to examine the charred chaos of day
(such a staunch monk!) igniting itself again—
the odorless remains.
                       Then. The hanging

Still Here: Not Living in Tipis

Jan 22, 2014

San Francisco Bay-area photographer Sue Reynolds and American Indian poet Victor Charlo talk about their book, Still Here: Not Living in Tipis.

In this first collaborative photo-poetry book between a white urban photographer and a reservation Indian, Sue Reynolds' images and Salish poet Victor Charlo's poems tell a story of resurrection in the face of long odds. The book includes forty-five color photos and five Salish poems. A percentage of sales goes to American Indian College Fund.

"Light"

Jan 13, 2014

An artist places the intangible
              and tangible objects on the table together:
drift of diamond light from the Sky of the Mind
with the Asian poppy, the plate of wild seedling plums.

The direction is set, sun caught in eastern branches
when our empty hands have their other side of fullness.
              Still life: morning star. Moon.
Dawn. The sun (who is A Bird Singing in the Moonlight).

"Solstice Poem 2005"

Dec 23, 2013

                             -- for my friends, especially Ken Brewer

Today I glimpsed
a short-eared owl above
a rise just south
of Little Mountain.
Gone, when I looked again.

Of course this is metaphor
for the beauty and brevity
of life and for tragedy.
The owl will kill,
the owl will die.

At home, at dusk, in snow,
I hauled cut flood-wood
from the other side
of the river then
stacked logs by the willows

Book Talk with Chérie Newman, Barbara Theroux, and Zed

Dec 11, 2013

During this program TWQ producer Chérie Newman talks with Barbara Theroux, manager of Fact & Fiction Bookstore, and Zed about recently-published books written by authors from the western U.S. -- fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, for adults and children.

"The Snow In Wyoming"

Dec 9, 2013
University of Montana Press

...let's see what words you'll use to write the poems you write today, dreaming of Wyoming.
                       -
Miguel d'Ors

The dream will go wherever I go, luminous and dense
with its immovable rock ridge and water
cascading over red or yellow hillsides,
depending on the light,
                  while a buffalo's forehead
clears a path through the snow.

For the last several years, Robert Stubblefield has invited me to talk about The Write Question with students in one of the classes he teaches at the University of Montana. We talk about specific programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

Poetry, Aphorisms, and Perfect Pie Crust

Nov 27, 2013

Kate Lebo has created a delightful commonplace book that includes poetry, recipes, illustrations, and a twisty new form of folk wisdom. The conversation during this program includes the definition of a commonplace book, as well as perfect pie crust tips, pie quotes ("We ought to make the pie higher." - George W. Bush), and aphorisms.

About the book:

Giving Thanks, A Few Years Later

Nov 25, 2013

The sliding barn door slams against the far wall
winter light pours in like water through floodgates
dust floats in trapped sun

I reach up and grab the feet
of one more stunned and screaming
blue-green-brown Naragansett turkey
roosting in the rafters

Quick, he's upside down, wings spread out
heavy body bouncing
against the right hip of my spattered coveralls

100 turkeys, 8 friends, 3 days before Thanksgiving

"Pick Up"

Nov 18, 2013

What kind of finger to point? At which
map showing which right or southern turn? On
the newly poured shoulder, tar sucks at my shoe

I'm willing to walk out here alone, gravel grinding
my heel, gray day and the surface of the road
one continual oatmeal. No one thumbs

a ride on the frontage road but me
so no one stops but you. Stories of fingers
in the psychopath's pocket, suspicion float back

and forth in our first stumbling exchange.
You need me for company. I settle grateful.
Highway lengthens toward silence, hazard lights

"Complexity"

Nov 4, 2013

What didn't work the first time
won't work the tenth. This is true
of everything structured by desire
which continues to beat against walls
as if they can dissolve with repetition.

This is a problem in all relationships
that begin in image and end in dreams
that nag though night with what
never was and could not be.
In between these stages comes touch.

"River"

Oct 28, 2013

Do not murder the man whose
grandfather stole land from
your grandfather. Do not make
your grandchildren, who will
love you no matter what, decide
whether or not to tell the truth or
live like hollow stems.

Don't let rage become a flash
flood, or a lightning bolt that
strikes you again and again.

Would you save every tissue you
blew snot into? No, we cannot
save everything.

Maybe we can't save anything
or anybody except ourselves.

"October Aspens"

Oct 14, 2013

I see pale yellow aspen leaves
along the shaded background mountainside
which quake and quiver in the slightest wind
as if they are determined to maintain
their named identity in bold defiance
of the seasons' change to duller hues—
and share their mood of glum diminishing.
         So what is it about this momentary glow
of quaking yellow aspen leaves,
waving along white-grayish boughs,
accompanied by shrieking crows,
cascading under purple clouds,
that suddenly evoke in me a shudder
for all transient breathing things:

"Storm Pattern"

Sep 30, 2013

On my living room wall hangs a Navajo rug
handwoven by Virginia Yazzie. A Storm Pattern
with a black and white border, through which
the spirit line passes, a design like silhouettes

of mesas on the Colorado Plateau. Within the border
it's red, Ganado red, with black and white
figures, the sacred water bugs, the mountains
and the clouds, and the intersecting lightning bolts

How to Write the Great American Indian Novel

Sep 9, 2013

All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.

The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.

If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man

then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.
If the Indian woman loves a white man, then he has to be so white

"Good Intentions"

Aug 19, 2013

Wesley and I aspired to build a lake
in his backyard, with lily pads and fish
and frogs. We dug a hole, planted
an old hog trough, filled it with good
water from the garden hose. Pedaled
for the river, buckets clanging from our handlebars,
fish nets lashed to our bike frames and fenders.

"Little Boys and War"

Aug 12, 2013

I was six; brother was five.
Papa was gone to war.
Planes roared overhead
Racing for the city,
Our farmhouse shook;
Dishes crashed on the floor.

Mama screamed and
Called us to her.
In the roar, we wouldn’t hear,
And rushed outside
To watch the show.

Could we really see the bombs
As they flew toward the city?
“There! There!” we’d yell
As planes swooshed low
And dirt blossomed upward
And lives and property
Were destroyed for our enjoyment.

Collection of Poems Captures a Family's Story

Aug 8, 2013

During this program, Zan Bockes talks about writing her way through grief, and her adult perspective on an abusive childhood. She also reads from her collection of poetry, Caught In Passing.

The poems in Caught in Passing capture moments that, seemingly evanescent, encompass what is enduring.

"Thought Under Construction"

Aug 5, 2013

There's no first stanza and maybe we should all go home,
since thinking isn't easy under any circumstances. And if

'home' is what's under construction? The work crew first
disconnects the stove, then turns up the radio. Omelets and broken

eggs, yes, but quiet and even the chips and cracks
were the script. Like the script of a one-note seasonal bird

when a chill moves over a lake. But not like the radio.
The first rule of construction? Destruction. Even the bees

"The Velocity of Love"

Jul 22, 2013

So still we sit
in chairs that mold our breathing,
frightened birds
with feathers slimed in oil,
fish in nets, bodies
pressed against the figure
of their deaths.
We haven't spoken
for an hour. Your last
word digs holes in the air and
hangs.

Beneath this weight, Father,
tell me I'm lighter than light,
that my love for you outruns
the spinning lance
of hate.

"Gathering Mint," a poem by Laurie Wagner Buyer

Jun 10, 2013

He woke quiet, ate potatoes and eggs
sitting alone on a cottonwood stump in the sun.

At noon he took a rifle, burlap bag, and handful
     of dried apples,
saddled the glass-eyed gelding, corralled
     the wayward mare,
whistled one long high note for the hound
     and was gone.

It was late the first summer, river running
     low, meadow grass tassels paled by wind.
I weeded the garden one faded row at a time
     while the goats lazed in barn shade
and the mare paced,
     nickering again and again.

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