Monday, August 1, 2022

Iris & Aurora Visit

My daughter Iris Willow and granddaughter Aurora "RoRo"  Willow Fan came for a visit to Norwood  this last week.  We had a wonderful time catching up on our lives, divergent as they are. They live in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood, enjoying all the amenities of a large city. Here's a slice of photos from our time together.

RoRo  at the AirBnB that we stayed at after picking my family up at the Grand Junction airport with itki's fairy stump in the driveway

We stopped at Gateway Canyon Resort taking the back way home from Grand Junction to Norwood and walked the grounds, finding this metal kaleidoscope on a manicured patio.

We had a late lunch at the restaurant that was open at Gateway Resort. 

RoRo did a show for us at the outdoor stage  in the Gateway Resort complex, dancing and displaying her papers

When we got to the Farmhouse in Norwood, Iris and RoRo got to play Tri-Ominos, a puzzle game I found in the Free Box in Telluride

We got to go up to Telluride for a nice dinner with Auntie Sara Friedberg where RoRo got to draw on the chalkboard walls of the bathroom

On the way to Montrose to rent a car for the second leg  of the journey, which took them to Glenwood Springs to see one of Iris's classmates at Colorado State University, RoRo fell asleep. 

And then Iris drove off for Glenwood

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Shelton: A Fork in the Road


A Fork in the Road

Posted in Confessions of a Grandpa, Personal History, Watch columns by Peter Shelton on July 5, 2022

[Now, with the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe, this column of Peter's, from 2013, has fresh resonance, to go along with the anger and disappointment in America’s rearward direction.]

As the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade came and went last week, I thought, inevitably, about the abortion I caused, struggled with, decided on and went through with, in 1967, six years before the Supreme Court made the procedure legal. 

Not I alone, of course. My girlfriend had something to do with it. A lot to do with it, yes. And my mother. And my father. And a doctor I never met, who ended the pregnancy on a cold Sunday afternoon in December.

We could scarcely have been more naïve. It was my first physical relationship, the summer before starting college. That’s no excuse, but it was a fact as we explored and experimented and ended up, late that fall, with a couple of missed periods.

This girl, I’ll call her M., couldn’t tell her mother, so together we sat down with mine. There were some tears, but after the initial shock I remember the conversation settling, as most did in our house, into a reasoned examination of the options.

I had thought my dad would be the most ardent about getting an abortion. It had only been a matter of months since he’d given me some fatherly advice, expressing his hopes for my college years. He said those four years had been for him the freest, the most open-ended of his life, and he wished the same unencumbered time for me.

But Dad seemed intrigued when I brought up the possibility of our keeping the baby and my joining the Navy. He had been in the Navy during the war. We lived on the coast; we shared a love of boats and the ocean. (He was also a real straight arrow when it came to knowingly breaking the law.)

On the other side of the world Vietnam was raging. I had a student deferment, but nobody knew what might happen long term with the draft, and maybe, I thought, this was a fork in the road, the first in my young life, fate nudging me off the path most expected. I was more than willing to get married. I thought that was the outcome M. and I were headed for, whether or not we became parents at 18.

M. was not demonstrative on the Navy option. (We’d barely had time to talk ourselves.) She had also been more or less silent on the option of taking the pregnancy to term and giving the baby up for adoption. She was in college, too, at a branch of the University of California closer to home. Given the weight of emotion and the psychic exhaustion in the room after a time, I think she just wanted to do what was best for all of us. And by the next morning that best thing clearly was to terminate the pregnancy.

My mother was the one who, once the decision was made, steeled herself to action. She had friends, friends whose daughters had “gotten into trouble” and had to be rescued. M. and I knew nothing of this world; we would have been at a complete loss had we been on our own. Mom took over, arranged everything. She wasn’t happy about it, but she believed it was the correct solution. She was fond of M., but she knew it was mostly about the sex. She had warned me, gently, at the outset of the relationship. Too gently, I guess.

It was hard for me to think straight as I paced the alley behind the surreptitious clinic. It was too soon for perspective. But if I had been able to see the bigger picture, I would have realized how many lives were in fact saved that day: mine, M.’s (we parted, amicably, about two years after the abortion), probably M.’s mother’s, too – a single woman perched unsteadily on a financial and emotional edge. 

Our decision also saved, or made possible, the life Ellen and I found together, starting in our mid 20s. And the lives of our dearly anticipated children and grandchildren.

I couldn’t see the future then, of course. I walked up and down, numb and anguished both at the same time, while M. and my mother were inside.

I remember there was a lot of broken glass in the alley. As I walked, I stared hard at the shards, like stars in a black asphalt sky, reflecting the sun on an unusually brilliant early-winter day.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Roe v Wade

An Antipoem

                        -for Nicanor Parra

If we compress space & time 
itki* takes us back to the Parisian coffeehouses 
& tobacco dens of the Enlightenment
where debate was the addiction

Where the entrenched religious
& young turk rationalists duked itki* out
denying or defending the New World
bestseller of the day:

Relations des Jésuites de la Nouvelle-France
(aka Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit
Missionaries in New France 1610-1791)
released annually in 70 some volumes of Latin
French & Italian

These vigorous disputes
against a backdrop of the Old World’s
embrace of the divine right of kings 
centered on pressing arguments
for & against liberté, égalité, fraternité

Enlightened catalysts 
that led to the French Revolution
& inspired the American one

As Graber & Wengrow explain
in The Dawn of Everything (2021):
“...scandalized missionaries frequently
reported that [native] American women
were considered to have full control
over their own bodies, and that
unmarried women had sexual liberty
and married women could divorce at will.
This, for Jesuits, was an outrage.
Such sinful conduct, they believed,
was just the extension of a more general 
principle of freedom, rooted in natural
dispositions which they saw as inherently

So itki* is today with our
neo-Jesuit “orginalists


* “Ki” is a grammatical neologism Indigenous science writer Robin Wall Kimmerer advocates for using in place of “it”, “its”, “it’s” or “itself” to help correct English’s objectification of phenomena. The neologist term is harvested from the last syllable of a longer word in Potawatomi for an “earth being.” As a pre-school teacher I learned that we humans learn best by going through the known to the unknown. Instead of substituting “ki” for “it”, I’ve chosen to add the Indigenous neologism to our neutral English pronoun as a suffix, changing the way we speak of things in English from inanimate to animate. Indeed, that syllable, “ki”, is a Potawatomi suffix meaning “from the living earth.” Thus, itki means that even gender-neutral objects are in some way alive.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Vaudeville at the Transfer Warehouse

Telluride Arts, Telluride Theatre and the Wilkinson Public Library hosted a wonderful community Vaudeville event  at the Transfer Warehouse again Thursday, June 23rd, that drew a full house.  

Marko & Sally (Ryan & Meaghan?) were emcees, and did a lot of playful sketches and intros, especially a song skit called Stud & Babe. A bellydancer, my neighbor Tia performed a wild masked dance  and used twirling ribbons very impressively.  The We 3 a cappela choir of Amy, Leah and Joana did sumptuous harmonies. 

 A lovely fellow whose name I didn't catch had a  rollicking Lift Ticket song that had everybody singing along. Tim and Ek of Ragged Soles performed original music, as well as Ethan (solo) and For My Family (guitars, violin and singer).  Audience members competed for a demonstration of "Stupid Human Tricks" and Penelope Gleason won the prize for her facial movements.

The finale 

was Logan  & Nicko 

doing a burlesque skit

Logan was a 

wild dancer

The audience 

ate it up

Joanna Spindler did a wonderful piece that she premiered at the Telluride Mushroom Festival last year. I performed my Forever Wild piece about the town's saving of the Valley Floor

Forever Wild

The revolution's 

in the evolutions of the DNA solutions

Not the human convolutions of political pollutions

No bloke should have to choke 

to breathe the bloody smoke

& endure all the dope our dis-urban folk 

are force-fed & white-bred to buy buy buy buy

Rednecks know how the cattle go

& the sheep & the pigs at the rodeo

where the 4H ranch kids show & sell

their darling pets to the slaughterhouse vets

Hell, yes!

for grand prize ribbons & barbequed ribs

You better bet 


keeps a rifle loaded in his pickup

& if you’re a predator

he ain’t no host

As for Mama

she’s kicking up her heels at the Hitchin’ Post

so she can catch a little living

before the oven turns to toast

If we fast-food forward

where we seem to be headed

even the best will be bedded

in a sunset Sony big screen faux-dream

Mad Max Halloween

where they’ve stolen all the treats

in streets stripped of stars

chockfull of cars

on their way to the bars

The trick for the tramp

will be holding the lamp

so’s to be half slick enough

to slip past the thick stuff

they pour in our path

Fame. Fortune. The amenity math

whose sum shines so bright

there’s no time for fright

‘Cuz if you fall on your face

you’re out of the race

Look, you can't kick the habit 

if you can’t take the heat

So let's eat, McRedeye sez

the sweet meat of anger

that feeds into action

to halt the reaction of corporate factions

Fleecing the flocks & shaking their fists

Unleashing their chickenhawks

for pre-emptive hits

Time to call “Bullshit”

& Seattle their trade talks

Like Telluride did to that Blues & bruised

fat cat plan

to supersize & infill

the glacial till of the Valley Floor

No way said the townsfolk

who scraped, borrowed, begged 

& bought the sucker

An owner’s weighted bait

we refused to swallow 

or follow hook, line and sinker

to the gondola mandala big pond stinker

No, we realized right from the start

what shaded our eyes

& kept people apart

And you could too

You could dare to dream

To band together senior and teen

for the good of the land

Take an Earth First! stand

Toss a wrench in the machine

Let’s cut to the heart

with a smart green blade

& come to the aid of those who oppose

greed’s bottom line charade

Let’s embrace what’s wild

Pray for open space’s saving grace

Surround your town like we did our town

Where seven generations from now

we will enjoy free-roaming elk

Not a docile herd of cow

No jerkoff forest slum

No white boy trophy rum

Just the mountains’ mother


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Jack Miller RIP


Jack Miller's Shrine at his place on Hastings Mesa.

Friends held a marvelous memorial for an amazing man -- climber, adventurer, explorer, maker and friend to many. Many of us got to tell stories about this gentle giant who was not only a bonafide hero for saving the life of a friend stuck on the cliffs at Yosemite with a broken bone, unable to move.

For me he was the best Green I knew, backing me up when I needed political support. A man of deep beliefs, integrity and action. 

But a wild fellow who led me on an adventure at the legendary kickass cowboy bar in Ridgway called the Little Chef, where we "prosted" with a German fellow late into the day and then made it back to his digs on the Mesa, three of us on a snowmobile, so drunk we fell over every 20 feet, laughing with each tumble.

Lots of stories. Lots of memories. A friend for all seasons.

Jack Miller

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Bardic Trails: Madison Gill


Madison Gill was our Bardic Trails featured reader for June.  

She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Colorado State University-Pueblo. As a student there, she was involved with and first published in the university’s student-run literary magazine, Tempered Steel

Following her graduation, Madison worked for a short time as a freelance reporter and then Assistant Editor of an independent news publication in Pueblo. In that role, she founded and independently managed the publication’s first ever poetry submission column where members of the community could submit their work for publication -- often for the first time.

Her first acceptance outside of an academic platform came in 2019 from a Denver-based journal called From Whispers to Roars. Since then, she has gone on to build her publication history both in print and online with such local, national and even international publications as: The Write Launch, Tiny Spoon, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Sledgehammer Lit, and Pocket Lint among others. She continues to submit her work for publication and share her poetry in person at local readings and open mics. Most recently, her work is forthcoming in a mental health anthology entitled Tea With My Monster published by Beyond the Veil Press.

In 2021, Madison was named the winner of the Cantor Prize awarded through the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Program -- judged by Donald Levering of New Mexico -- with her poem, Urraca (magpie in Spanish):


In the yard, two magpies

fight over the still-warm carcass

of a less fortunate and nameless

bird. Their shrieking uncoils

like barbwire from my mother’s flinching ear. Meanwhile my lover’s

eye glazes over, no longer here

but far from here on one of many custody-arranged road trips

back and forth from Wichita

in the backseat of his grandfather’s car with his brother

scouring the skies and splintered fence

posts for a flash of yin and yang tail feathers. “Urraca!” they’d cry, and grandfather would award them both a quarter

for their retained Spanish – grandma laugh- sighing on the passenger side.

Now my lover and his brother

are older – his brow furrowed

in a wrinkle deep enough

to stick a coin in. And the quarters in his grandfather’s pockets,

if there were any, have long since dropped

onto the cold hospital floor

as a nurse folded them the morning after lightning struck in his chest and took him to the next world. Meanwhile the magpies

go about their brutal business –

softened in the memory of a child. Their long tail feathers like a bridge between worlds – my lover standing at one end, arms outstretched, crying: “Urraca! Urraca! Urraca!”

Light in the shape of his grandfather reaching back from the other, pulling a quarter like a silver tooth

from the mouth of the sun. 

Madison likes to reference William Faulkner’s 1950 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech when describing the nature of her work as: “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself.” She is a self-proclaimed love poet. Most of her work is deeply rooted in her personal life and includes themes of relationships, family, mental health, spirituality, social justice, and the natural world. A few poets whose work Madison feels has greatly influenced her own include Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, Frank O’Hara, Ken Arkind, Carrie Rudzinski, Andrea Gibson, and Buddy Wakefield among others. You can find Madison on instagram at @sweetmint_poet where she mostly celebration-posts her publication acceptances and occasionally shares excerpts of her recent work.

Here is A  VIDEO RECORDING of her Bardic Trails  zoom reading.

Broadside created by Daiva Chesonis

Poster by Joanna  Spindler

Thursday, June 2, 2022

The Poetic Imaginarium


Featured at the stylish Sherbino Theater in Ridgway's trendy Arts District June 1st, Wendy Videlock of Palisade presented a lively, interactive discussion on how we might cultivate the creative process, life-long learning, and the love of sensual experience into our everyday lives. 

Wendy shared a number of thought-provoking excerpts from her recent book of essays,The Poetic Imaginarium: A Worthy Difficulty.  Unfortunately, that book wasn't available thanks to supply chain issues. But her newest book of poems, Wise to the West (Able Muse Press, 2022), was available and she read several poems from there

Here in the West

Here in the West, whatever

one's pain

one never complains

about the rain.

What's good for the plains

is bad for the harvest.

What freezes in spring

is sugar-beet borrowed.

The river depletes.

The groves expire.

What blooms

in summer is wildfire.

Afterwards, she opened the floor to questions. That prompted Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer to craft this poem, which she sent out to her followers today:

Fill in the Blank

for Wendy


Tonight, the poet with the tendrilled hair

asks us to fill in the blank.

The most important relationship

you cultivate in your life is with _________.

One person says, Love. Says another, Yourself.

And long after the question is gone

from the air, long after the conversation’s

moved on, I think about ways

to fill it in. With time. Mortality.

Uncertainty. Peace. And ultimately,

with nothing. How beautiful

to let what is blank stay blank,

a space holder for pure potential.

What if our relationship with nothing

is the most important relationship we have?

I notice how she never fills in the blank herself,

leaving the space for everything.

Nothing is the most generous of doorways.

Now everything is possible.