Up 6/2020

[This page goes on changing contents & organization as materials are added, more or less randomly (at least at first). A page dated December 2012 in a newly opened folder had the first two little verses, for example, almost lost amidst a variety of miscellaneous notes jotted in various directions. I’ve taken the title for the group following from the first. Virginia took it from Li Po’s answer to someone’s question about why he lived (or traveled) in such country, so far from the mainstream: “Peach blossoms follow moving water.” Her version gives it a quite new (& present) twist. –22 May 2020]


why live in green mountains?
good grief…peach blossoms follow
…the smell of burnt toast

fried egg on a plate
–last licks of light


pine smoke
–our neighbors
home from work

new handhold–up &
down the icy steps, even
grandma brings in wood

paper lanterns fill with moonlight

dark clouds
in & out among
the stars

pitch black–even dreams
drained…to silence….

muddy road
~~~–a gate at each end–

cold cabin
still laughing
I turn the heater on
this night is mine!
this day is mine!
I will eat & slepp
& write poems
for myself
& my friends
I will follow the beaver tracks
breathe in the sweet
wild air
& the blackbirds’ liquid chatter
& the river’s song

I talk to me new person:
the time of our life
is an open mouth
in a rainstorm–the tongue
will tell us where to go

dawn is a sharp-toothed snake
…& we must bite it
while we can

[This last is part of a 4-page sequence, “for Shirley”; the full piece in her own hand & original spacing follows, though without an apt title yet. Despite first lines (e.g., “dark clouds” & “dark, muddy road”), the poems themselves are not at all dark. Like the road, they are the way out–to liberation, discovery, freedom.

In this case, the country road leads to “Inspiration,” the cabin where the poet wrote it, passing Shirley’s two-gated driveway en route, apparently at the end of a busy teaching week during which Shirley seems to have done diagnostic consulting for some of Virginia’s students–thus the cryptic letters schools used to abbreviate conditions. Perhaps a more apt title would be somethig like Open Mouth: the tongue will tell us where to go….]

~~~…MUDDY ROAD [click to open]

the house is quiet
my mother pours new water
on her old teabag…

“maybe the blue-eyed marys (calypses) are out”
“let’s go see this afternoon”
“oh, I hear the spotted towhees!
–your father would be pleased”

toot of a small fishing-boat passing
voice-fragments drift
up the steep rocks

festive day
an orange ribbon
for the boundary rock

back boundary fence
10 years ago
my father stood here

among the leaves
red berries flicker
as I walk away
——————————-[maybe 10 years later?]

rain sounds all night
–morning music pours
~~~from my ears

buzz of a small plane–
look up to the sky, each time
I think of my friend

with the rain
…laughing voices return
to the orchard

tipple tipple–
a young bird runs
across the skylight

leaning by the door
new year’s broom
standing in snow

even in summer
night-cold draws up
from the stones

eyes flash & glimmer
in firelight–mind reaches out
–the body warming

first light on your
wedding day the robins sing
louder than ever

already– this day like no other

on a blue page the sky is written

one primrose open
yellow as the moon rising
between branches

long legged cranes/ wing
to wing across/ the purple/
night–/~~a trail of stars

wing to wing across
the purple night
star-cranes, wings & legs

before the town wakes
birds & I
sing up the sun

[A few of these may also be found elsewhere, e.g., among Weathergrams hung from trees at an annual Poets’ Picnic (in absentia for us).]


Lest you get the idea she was a master of the Basho moment only, here are a few pieces from a folder she’s titled “in progress,” along with some clearly finished works in her own hand following.]


one step. –or a half-step?
1/2 one of two?
or is it one step forward
two steps back
~~~~~~~two steps back
~~~turn around
daeh e’ruoy dna [?*]
~~~~~~~~~~~~”first take no falls”

at the edge crumbling
old concrete steps steep
going down? / coming up?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I lean…
my cane like a thin leg
with no power in itself
only to stick where I land it

my hand trembles the cane
wobbles–poised high above–

one push–time, point, release–
platform/ earth/ air & water,
all in one dive leap
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~letting go
through the balance point
passing back & forth
through the same SPLASH point–

the next move already formed
in the mind
~~~~~~~~~daeh c’ruoy dna*

[*I’m not at all sure my transcription of this repeated phrase is right. Some of the letters look like they could have come from another alphabet, possibly one of her own design. (Could it be from Beowolf?) Please let us know if you think you recognize the phrase, its source, &/or pronunciation, c/o bodlibrary2020@gmail.com.

It seems to be a part of a musical dance-game the woman with her cane plays, singing to herself, as the memory of her girlhood as a diver helps inform her sense of balance while negotiating the three concrete steps (or two steps plus the landing) outside our house, a route she took up & down at least twice a day, done attentively after breaking her hip in a fall (2010). “first take no falls” was her doctor’s prescription, a mantra repeated each visit, and a practice successfully followed most of the time–all of the time on these particular steps…..

Her love of dancing & water never faded (“one more hula/ under the blue sky”), along with her sense of oneness with earth, air & the creatures thereof, as in the following.]

~~~Ecstatic Dreams

tonight I sleep
with whales
head down
vertically aligned
perfect density
air to bone
water to blood
just below
the waves
the stir of
dusk settling
whispers of light
eyes closed
eyes open
a garden
of silent

I dream ecstatic sleep
the press of cold seeps
from all sides my heart
a stone, falling into dark
ocean’s deep embrace: skin
to bone squeezed to muscle
—touch of fin—
till light itself escapes

ravens slowly gathering,
streams of orange, green & yellow
as if on fire–a deep sea river
tentacles fluttering & ____ [?]
in the current–great luminous eyes,
the deliciously soft flesh of the squid–

joy in the hunt!
joy in the battle wrapped &
thrashing–teeth sunk in–
a final snap! the great body
goes limp, fades
to gray, suckers release
long, twisted lines of
holes…joy in the taste…
chewing & swallowing
one more beak settles
into my stomach

called to air, I rise
from the abyss
through a wake of
luminescent bubbles
a mass of silvery fish
explodes like fireworks
through long seaweed

a flock of penguins sweeps
faster & faster up a column
of sleek turbulence

bursting through the shattered surface

ah cracking air–tremendous breath!
tremendous splash! cracking air!
the sun-drenched oceans
echoing in their beds!

will I sleep
as a whale?
a leaf in the wind?
a butterfly?

wings & the shadows of wings
flicker the domes & fissures
hills & valleys of
my mind…
—————————–[no date]

[Breath-taking. We’d ask her about the title, if we could, originally without one, in which case she’d either offer an alternative of her own; say “if you’d like” to a would-be editor’s choice; or ask to think about it, meaning time to feel the question through. Didn’t e. e. cummings write, “since feelings are first,” in one of his love poems?

Mind & feeling become full partners in her dance, however, as if either might get lost without the other. Not opposites, let alone adversaries, they make a whole greater than their sum, rarely more so than in the following.] —————————————–


[Here are two exhilarating adventures of motion & memory, as deeply playful as profoundly experimental poetically. Each is taken out of its original context in different groups. ‘divinity‘ comes from a sequence she wrote to & for her mother. ‘Downhill from here…‘ was part iv. of a gift called “Mahalo…my husband,” being her breath-taking take on the last stage of a shared lifecycle. More information on them may be found in the “Poetic Discovery” post, but nothing comes close to the direct experience.]

[Click each to open. But BACKSPACE your website control to close PDF automatically & return to the main site. Trying to close the PDF otherwise closes connection to the whole website.]

~~~~Downhill from here

[Whew! Besides the over-the-hill couple about to experience an imminent decline, where “Downhill…” begins, the we of the poem presumably includes her Plumb Lane buddy Kitty Houghton, a companion presence throughout & much of their childhood, starting in the same nursery (born days apart), country neighbors thereafter, part of each other’s family. Odds are it’s Kitty being quoted in “Look ma, no hands!” before their last leap– ]



words dance in my head
like cranes, beaks straight up
~~~~~~~~in my head, cranes!

long-legged wings stretched
~~~lift! stamp! beaks up to the sky!

condor dreams–the wild
cold air, blue & endless
snow-peaks from above

concrete ledge–wings
hunched (longest span in the world)
head down

upright, white head turned
to gaze down sharp–wide-eyed
we stand looking up

aren’t you proud, eagle
that your offspring have gone back
to old hunting grounds?

what can you do, giraffe?
with your long long legs? run! run!
over walls & out

let the whole desert
be your stretching ground–

[These above may have been part of a game she played with her students, at least once, inviting them to imagine themselves as the animals conversed with. I’ve taken only ones in her hand, some of which may have been more or less jointly imagined. In a variant of the game, there could be the chance for others to add a last line, appreciating each unique reflection.

The poem is not about the animals as much as about the imagination, the shared heart taking flight. Likewise the following is not about earrings.]

~~~robin’s egg blue

a tiny robin’s egg (blue
blue) ~~~ swings
below her ear
~~~~~~~given by her daugher
in Paris (if I remember right
what she said some time ago),
a graceful, easy time
walking lightly time before
inertial years of gradual slowing,
as particle by particle inevitably
dried the pool & circuits of smooth
coordination–at odds with
the rhythms of her limbs–

pain & joy mixed, she tells
of her quest-journey to Australia
& back–& then that she’s picked
the quest up again, called into
the myriad chaotic/ ordered
branchings of her own mind–
dark passageways that offer
a new way for the touch of stillness,
for grace re-emerged, revealed
in motion & spirit of the dance,
blue as a robin’s egg, again
open to the sun–

~~~~~~~~~~~~~to Jeanine–
~~~~~~~~~~~~~friend with heart & courage

(We haven’t seen or talked
since her deep-brain surgery,
& now, thinking of her again
& again I silently renew
my pledge to ask how her quest goes–

each person’s life a quest,
a persistent call to the inward path,
to discover the core heart treasure,
struggle to bring it back–
& find it again in sharing….)
—————————vrb (6-21-05)

[Poetry was often a kind of meditation for her, a way of settling, exploring & tuning the self; it was also, at heart, a way of sharing, i.e., being & tuning together. In a sense, that’s the main, if not her only, agenda. Any thoughts or ideas grow out of that soil–the experience awareness brings to light. The following was a birthday sharing, here in her own hand, “for my son Gus.”]

~~~WILD (birthday) ROSES

[Her sharing (like her poetry more generally) could take many forms, from the open-ended meditation to moments caught on the fly, as on these postcards to Gus from the Bosque del Apache during one of our crane festivals there. Gu shad done seasonal Forest Service migration studies in & around the refuge, but was living in Hawaii at the time. The green chili burgers were from the famous Owl Cafe, between the refuge & where he’d lived during at least one period, so all these were like photos from home.]


green chili burgers
on the run
between flights–

(great owl/ just after dusk/ in the dark)

2 hawks higher & higher into the sun

tour stop #12
a tree with crows
for fruit

easy as geese we cruise from pond to pond

flying in at dusk
in two & threes–
taking off in one great lift

shadow of the hawk part of the branches

rustling husks
like dry November rain

love from
the both of us
all mixed up together
as usual


[Whether taking the form of a musical interlude, meditation, dream adventure, thank-you note or feelingly noticed moment, a high percentage of her writings can be called love poems. Besides those to, for, &/or in harmony with particular loved ones (family members, students, friends of all sorts), others reflected her love of music, dance, painting…& particular places in the natural earth.

The Bosque del Apache was one we re-visited many times together, including once when we slept (if one can call it that) out in the midst of the flocks, wide-eyed as the snow geese rose at dawn. Another was out in the heart of the dunes at White Sands, where friendships with people, including the management that kept inviting us back (ostensibly for my full moon public programs there), meant we got to stay when everyone else had gone, the whole night on a high dune under moon, stars & clouds.

Besides notes in notebook, on pads & assorted scraps, she kept a special sketch-book for White Sands, with entries at various times, pieces from which may already be up, elsewhere on the site. Otherwise, will look into adding more of her Bosque & dune offerings here ASAP…. –27 May 2020]