Saturday, February 10, 2024

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

For Eduardo

When Bruce Told Me He'd Brought You Your Hearing Aids

I thought, good, he can hear what the ICU nurses say.

Then I began to wish for another kind of hearing—

wished you could hear the faithful pumping

of your own loyal heart. Wished you could hear

the snow as it fell outside your window reminding you

of the silence beyond the beeps and alarms

of the hospital room. Wished you could hear

the hundreds of prayers being raised

and chanted for you. Wished you could hear my voice

as I whisper into the candle beside me

saying again and again your name, your name,

wished you could hear all the love rising for you

the way dawn rises, inevitable and beautiful,

the way sorrow gives rise to song.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Marie Luna



[In honor of teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, with gratitude]

Let me not introduce my "self"

Let me be the lichen on the rocks you sometimes notice

Before moving on to more interesting sights

Let me be the feathery plants in the water you briefly ponder

What is that? you wonder

I no longer want to be known or remembered

The burning youthful zeal to make a mark has faded

Like initials carved in the aspen as the dry bark shears off

I want to turn to powdery dust, separated from the core

Remember the elk teeth marks on the trees

A log of how high the snow was that winter

Chewing shrubbery and bark to survive

Did they make it through the lean times?

Remember bear cub claws cataloged in an aspen

Wonder about the fate of that bear

How many strawberries did she get to eat

That blissful summer with her mother?

My not self will be there, in the marks of the long gone.

-Marie Luna

Peter Waldor


Beginning Polyamory

Peter Waldor is a poet from New Jersey who, after many years of visiting, has made Telluride (CO) his home. We have become good friends and have spent many hours hiking or snowshoeing in the San Juan Mountain we both love (him far more than me). We have performed together and he has published many books to critical acclaim. He has a spate of new books coming out and I wanted to showcase some of the marvelous poems therein.

As I wrote to him after diving into the first of these newbies,  Beginning Polyamory.

I couldn't help dipping into Beginning Polyamory's first 50 pages

Just as some of your marvelous reviewers attest, I found the pieces
"like obsidian ... polished into jewels or napped to the keenest blade"
"concise, even abrupt" with "spare irony" both "elliptical and colloquial"
featuring a "peculiar plainspoken deliberateness" that is "trenchant" and "whimsical"
The Holiness of Lovemaking is serious and First Kiss humorous
Lifestyle is a deep truth
"I guess light or dark / can bring fruit to ripeness" -- YES!
Epistolary, Your Foot -- you capture brief snippets and make them funny, ironic
Dress and Good Luck -- expectations reversed
I especially loved Precipice with its great lines:
"and I can't think of a worse
curse than 'whatever,'
especially when said quietly,
with skill."
Backwards, Fouled It Up, Something Missing, Tee Shirts, Power-Sharing
full of quirky telling details and always fearlessly honest
Size Matters and Hardness maybe risque but so deliciously restrained at the same time
"soft as a rubber / pencil in a magic trick"
Gift of a Cigarette that adds an irrelevant last detail that completes the verisimilitude
Warden, Lovers and Friends, Fifty Years Later
Just a marvelous collection / lyric travelogue through the experience of polyamory

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Rosemerry at the Gunnison Valley Poetry Festival (2018)
[photo by Art Goodtimes]

Rosemerry is an amazing friend, poet, storyteller and wise woman. Her latest book All the Honey (Samara Press, 2023) is a classic. If you're looking for one book of poetry to buy for the holidays, let me recommend this one.

She has a poem-a-day practice that she shares with folks. I find it invaluable -- uplifting, insightful, spiritually important.

Love Lessons


There were thousands of wild iris

in the wide, damp meadow.

Forty years later I remember it, still,

the pale purple petals fluttering

in the morning breeze.

The spring air was cold;

my feet squished in the mud,

and I picked armfuls of iris,

each bloom the loveliest.

I picked and picked

as if dozens of iris could convey

how extravagantly I loved a boy.

Loved him beyond measure.

Loved him meadowfuls.

Whole mountainfuls.

It’s so human to long to express

the inexpressible.

Forty years later, I remember

the immensity of that love—

how it changed me, made space in me

for who I am today.

Love is, perhaps, rhizomic,

like iris, spreading where no one can see.

If you could look inside me now,

you’d find fields of iris, infinite acres.

I still long to pick dozens for my loves,

even hundreds, though now I also trust

how sometimes a single stem

says everything.

I especially love  Love Lessons because my eldest daughter's name is Iris

One Sacredness

an altar for wonder—

that small pause

before you speak

Her short poems dive deep

After a Rogue Hard Frost in Late June

The usual suspects wilt and die.

Basil, of course, and beans. Potatoes.

Zinnias. Nasturtiums. Marigolds.

I find myself staring at the beet greens,

spinach, and arugula, marveling

at how they thrive, impervious to cold.


I have a craving for resilience.

I pull the dark leaves to my mouth,

devour the green communion.

It tastes like survival, so bitter, so bright.

Her poems of the natural world are full of awe

Tonight I Remember

how he resisted learning

to tie his own shoes,

how I cheered

when he learned

to pinch the laces

between his fingers,

knotting and looping

and pulling them tight,

making a bow

that would stay.

How I encouraged

the very thing

that allowed him

to walk away.

Oh, sweet woman

I was then,

beginning to learn

letting go.

Now that he’s gone,

I’m a student

of being loosened,

untied, undone,

still practicing

how to let him go.

And her poems of grief are truly transformative.

To subscribe to Rosemerry's Poem a Day  emails go HERE:

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Eclipse the Musical


Dalton Trumbo is Grand Junction's main claim to literary fame. The left-leaning author and Oscar-winning screenwriter is best known for Johnny Get Your Gun  (National Book Award novel), a slew of memorable film screenplays (Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Exodus, Spartacus, Papillion) and his imprisonment for being one of the Hollywood Ten and refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 during the red-baiting McCarthy Era. On the 100th anniversary of the city's Avalon Theatre, the Foundation responsible for its preservation and renovation hosted the world premiere of Eclipse the Musical. Conductor Scott Betts composed the music and wrote the lyrics adapted from Trumbo's first novel, Eclipse (1936) -- a social realist work based on his hometown.

My friend Dea Jacobson and I caught the first of two shows of this work which was a thinly-disguised fiction based on actual Mesa County characters and institutions. A fitting historical production with fine acting, great choreography, dazzling voices, live orchestra, period costumes, historic photo backdrops and a catchy finale song: "A shack, some grub and someone to be with. That's all you need. Any more is myth."

John Abbott lashes out at Violet Budd

While the story was a tribute to a capitalist hero who loses everything in the Depression, Trumbo imbued it with some interesting social critiques -- portraying the local madam as a supporter of the community-minded John Abbott who leverages his mercantile emporium and banking interests to lift up employees, boost the  town and even help his competitors. On the other hand, it's the righteous Violet Budd, crusading Women's Christian Temperance Union matron, who is the inimical thorn and foil who helps bring Abbott down. Their second act where Abbott unloads on Budd was poignant and powerful, after his assisting her projects for years -- even though he personally disliked her, having seen her as a  judgmental and self-serving virago.

Stumpy gifts Abbott when all others let him down

The singing was impressive throughout, with Joey Stafford's Budd waxing operatic, Chris McKim's Abbott was skillful and convincing, Miriam Deming's clarity was crystal and her warmth charming, Juli Jacobson's Ann Abbott solid, and Lana Leigh Rogal's Stumpy (the madam) winning in every way -- she doubled as director and choreographer making her a triple threat that served the production well.

The cast sings the finale song

The entire cast deserves praise and all the technical aspects were well done. A resounding success from all artistic angles.

Congratulations to Steve Doyle and the Avalon Theatre Foundation  as well as the Mesa County Historical Society for putting on a rousing celebration of Grand Junction's landmark theater's 100th year of existence.  It's no surprise the audience gave the premiere a standing ovation. 

The Main St. Trumbo sculpture in front of the Avalon Theatre

Friday, November 3, 2023

Liminal Space Odyssey


I can't say enough good about this dazzling event  in Norwood on the second day of Dia de los Muertos this year.  It was a multi-media happening with  poetry, story, video, slides and music. 

Craig Childs is an amazing storyteller. He had us riveted to our seats with wild yarns, asides, stories both personal and historical -- waving his arms, timing  riffs to images flashed on a screen, building to  suspenseful climaxes and then making us laugh hysterically before artfully transitioning to another of his trio. A maestro of the tale.

As for New Orleans-inspired blues folk guitarist Russ Chapman, I couldn't stay seated and had to get up and rockabilly a bit to his winsome lyrics and schooled performance. His song about the Wall that welcomes you in (WalMart) and his Let Bygones Go On By finale had me dancing in the foyer. Russ and Craig even did a bit of rat-a-tat playful debate and stand-up between performances.  No wonder he won the 2017 Telluride Blues Challenge award at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival.  

Poet Kierstin Bridger is no stranger to awards either, having won the 2017 Women Writing the West's Willa Award and Telluride's own Fischer Prize for Poetry.  Her poems wove around the theme of liminality, just as did Chapman's songs and Childs stories from his adventures in a Tibetan river, the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and  Mexican caves

In anthropology, liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete.

As Childs' shows always do, they educate, sometimes titillate, while invariably entertaining. It may be its own veiled rite of passage but  expect a  ritual where one can look forward to a rollicking good time.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Indigenous Peoples Day

 I was gone back east for a wedding on Indigenous Peoples Day this year and so didn't post anything online. But my dear friend  Rafael Jesús González wrote an amazing essay in Spanish and English that I wanted to share with you.

Gaia's Lament
Lamento de Gaia (inglés)

El 12 de octubre es fiesta conocida en varias regiones y épocas por muchos nombres: Día de Colón, Día del descubrimiento, Día de la hispanidad, Día de las Américas, Día de la raza, Día de los pueblos indígenas.

En México en 1928 a la insistencia del filósofo José Vasconcelos, entonces Ministro de Educación, se le nombró Día de la Raza, denominación de la Unión Ibero-Americana en 1913 para declarar una nueva identidad formada del encuentro de los Españoles y los indígenas de las Américas. En 1902 el poeta mexicano Amado Nervo había escrito un poema en honor del Presidente Benito Juárez (indio zapoteca) que recitó en la Cámara de Diputados, titulado La Raza de Bronce alabando a la raza indígena, título que más tarde en 1919 el autor boliviano Alcides Arquedas daría a su libro. El bronce (metal noble fundido de varios metales) llegó a ser metáfora del mestizaje. Según el pensar de José Vasconcelos una Raza Cósmica, la raza del porvenir, es la raza noble que se forma en las Américas a partir del 12 de octubre de 1492, la raza del mestizaje, un amalgama de las gentes indígenas de las Américas, de los Europeos, los Africanos, los Asiáticos, las razas mundiales — en una palabra, la raza humana compuesta de una mezcla de todas las razas que Vasconcelos denominó la Raza Cósmica.

Pero no se puede ignorar que esta raza ideal se forma a gran costo de los pueblos indígenas Americanos (y de la gente africana traídos aquí como esclavos). Desde 2002, en Venezuela se le llama a la fiesta Día de la Resistencia Indígena.

Sea como sea, por cualquier nombre que le demos, de cualquier modo que la cortemos, es la misma torta — la fecha conmemora la llegada de los Europeos a América (que para ellos era un “nuevo mundo”), no una visita sino una invasión, un genocidio, subyugación de las gentes de ese “nuevo mundo” que hoy conocemos por el nombre de un cartógrafo Europeo que apenas pisó el suelo sagrado de los continentes que llevan su nombre. Lo que marca la fecha es una continua colonización, explotación, abuso, ultraje de los pueblos indígenas de las Américas que escasamente ha menguado, que ha persistido estos quinientos y treinta y tantos años.

Bien se le pudiera nombrar Día de la Globalización. A partir de ese día se comprueba concreta y definitivamente que la Tierra verdaderamente es redonda, una esfera, una bola, un globo. Y desde esa fecha se les trata imponer forzosamente a las gentes indígenas del “nuevo mundo” una cosmología, actitud bastante extraña hacia a la vida, hacia a la Tierra, hacia a la economía, hacia a lo sagrado, hacia al ser humano mismo — una sola "verdad" estrecha e intolerante, un desdén rapaz hacia la Tierra vista solamente como un recurso para explotarse, un concepto del progreso difícil de distinguir de la codicia y el hambre del poder.

La causa de los indígenas clama por justicia: se les sigue robando sus tierras y terrenos, se los destruyen por sus valiosas maderas y minerales; sus creaciones agrícolas, tal como el maíz y la papa, que han salvado del hambre a gran parte del mundo, se modifican al nivel molecular y se controlan por corporaciones rapaces; sus medicinas tradicionales se patentan por esas mismas corporaciones; el agua sagrada misma se privatiza y se les roba; aun no se les respeta el derecho a sus creencias y culturas. Aun poniendo al lado la justicia, todos deberíamos aliarnos a las gentes indígenas de las Américas (y del mundo entero) en su resistencia contra tal abuso porque lo que los amenaza a ellas nos amenaza a todos en el mundo entero — y a la Tierra misma. Tienen muchísimo que enseñarnos acerca de una relación sana del hombre con la Tierra.

En una Tierra, mucho más chica y frágil de lo que imaginábamos, nos encontramos en plena globalización y pugna contra la imposición de un capitalismo desenfrenado y del fascismo, su lógica extensión, que lo acompaña. Sigue la resistencia indígena que jamás ha cesado durante estos cinco y un cuarto de siglos y ma pesar de una represión brutal y ahora todos as nosotros de la raza cósmica de mera necesidad debemos aliarnos a su lucha, pues esa lucha es nuestra de todos si hemos de sobrevivir en la Tierra, bendita madre de nuestra estirpe, la estirpe de la raza humana — y de toda nuestra parentela los otros animales, las plantas, los minerales. En la Tierra redonda y sin costura son ficticias las fronteras y lo que amenaza a unos nos amenaza a todos. Pensar al contrario no es solamente inmoral sino locura.

Berkeley, Alta California

October 12 is a feast-day known in various regions and times by many names: Columbus Day, Discovery Day, Hispanic Culture Day, Day of the Americas, Day of the Race, Day of the Indigenous Peoples.

In Mexico in 1928 at the insistence of the philosopher José Vasconcelos, then Minister of Education, it was named Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), denomination of the Iberian-American Union in 1913 to declare a new identity formed by the encounter of the Spaniards with the native peoples of the Americas. In 1902, the Mexican poet Amado Nervo had written a poem in honor of the President Benito Juárez (a Zapoteca Indian), which he read in the House of Representatives, titled La Raza de Bronce (Race of Bronze) praising the indigenous race, title which later in 1919 the Bolivian author Alcides Arquedas would give his book. Bronze (noble metal amalgamated of various metals) came to be metaphor for mestizaje (the mixing of the races.) According to the thinking of José Vasconcelos, a Cosmic Race, the race of the future, is the noble race that is formed in the Americas since October 12, 1492, the race of mestizaje, an amalgam of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the Europeans, the Africans, the Asians, the world — in a word, the human race made of a mixture of all the races which Vasconcelos called the Cosmic Race.

But that this race is formed at great cost to the indigenous American peoples (and to the African peoples brought here as slaves) cannot be ignored. Since 2002, in Venezuela the feast-day is called Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance.)

Be that as it may, by whatever name we give it, however way we cut it, it is the same cake — the date commemorates the arrival of the Europeans to America (which for them was a “new world”), not a visit but an invasion, a genocide, a subjugation of the peoples of that “new world” which we know today by the name of a European cartographer who barely set foot on the sacred ground of the continents that bear his name. What the date marks is a continuous colonization, exploitation, abuse, outrage of the indigenous peoples of the Americas that has scarcely lessened, that has persisted these five-hundred and thirty plus years.

It could well be called Day of Globalization. Since that date, the Earth is concretely, definitively proven to be truly round, a sphere, a ball, a globe. And from that date is imposed by force upon the indigenous American peoples a quite strange cosmology, attitude toward life, toward the Earth, toward economics, toward the sacred, toward the human being him/herself — a single "truth" narrow and intolerant, a rapacious disdain toward the Earth seen only as a resource to be exploited, a concept of progress difficult to distinguish from greed and the lust for power.

The cause of the indigenous peoples screams for justice: their lands, their fields continue to be stolen from them, destroyed for their valuable woods and minerals; their agricultural creations, such as maize and the potato, which have saved a great part of the world from famine, are modified at the molecular level and controlled by rapacious corporations; their traditional medicines are patented by those same corporations; sacred water is privatized and stolen from them; even their right to their own beliefs and cultures is not respected. Even putting justice aside, we should all ally ourselves with the indigenous peoples of the Americas (and of the entire world) in their resistance against such abuse because what threatens them threatens us all throughout the whole world — and the Earth itself. They have a very much to teach us about a healthy relationship of humankind with the Earth.

In an Earth much smaller and more fragile than we imagined, we find ourselves in full globalization and struggle against the imposition of an unbridled capitalism and the fascism, its logical extension, that accompanies it. The indigenous resistance that has never ceased these five and a quarter centuries and more continues in spite of a brutal repression and now all of us of the cosmic race, of pure necessity, must align ourselves with their struggle, for that struggle is ours if we are to survive on the Earth, holy mother of our race, the human race — and of all our relations, the other animals, the plants, the minerals. On the round, seamless Earth all borders are fictitious and what threatens one threatens all. To think otherwise is not only immoral but insane.

Berkeley, California

© Rafael Jesús González 2023