NIZALOWSKI … My good friend and poet buddy John Nizalowski and his daughter Isadora (my god-daughter) did a terrific poetry and violin/flute duo at Caole Lawry’s Planet Earth & the 4 Directions Gallery in Grand Junction last Friday. John read mostly from his new book The Last Matinée (Turkey Buzzard Press, Kittredge, Colorado, 2011), and Isadora played improvisational work with Classical, Jazz, and Celtic influences … John teaches writing and mythology at Colorado Mesa University (CMU). Born and raised in upstate New York, he received a B.A. and M.A. in English from Binghamton University and the University of Delaware, respectively. He has written for various journals, most notably The Santa Fe New Mexican and Telluride Magazine. His literary works have appeared in numerous publications, including Puerto del Sol, Blue Mesa Review, Weber Studies, Blueline, ISLE, Chiron Review and Under the Sun. He has a unique and abiding love for the Southwest that is captured beautifully in his writing. A true believer in making poetry and literature available to the community, John is the creator of the CMU Writers and Poets Series at Planet Earth … Isadora is a senior at Grand Junction High School. She plays in the CMU Orchestra, the Grand Junction H.S. Chamber Orchestra and the GJHS Full Orchestra. She also is in the District 51 Honors Orchestra.
DOUBLE BOOKING … The same night that the Nizalowskis performed in Grand Junction, the Western Colorado Writers Forum held their Literary Christmas program. While not good planning for local audiences, it was great for me – since I don’t get to Grand Junction that often … I missed the first half of the Christmas program (Jill Burkey read several Christmas poems by our own Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer), but came in time to here award-winning poet and publisher Luis Lopez do a wonderfully heartful tale about a Cardboard Christmas Tree, the amazing Wendy Videlock doing her Juggler from Ganndoleen in a broad Irish brogue, and the extravagantly arrayed poet/astronomer Danny Rosen reading from Carl Sagan and Richard Wilbur.
DEPRESSION … Gary Greenberg has written a new book on this old topic – one of the unhappier human conditions, which some of us suffer from more than others – calling it a “Secret History of a Modern Disease,” Manufacturing Depression (Simon & Schuster, 2011). And Scott Vickers did one of those brilliant explications in last winter’s Bloomsbury Review that dangles the book’s main ideas before you like puppets and puts you in a place where you’re there when the emperor struts into the room – Big Pharm, making a fortune off a condition that needs time to heal and a process that has to run its course … I know. Chemical imbalances are real. Drugs (what a funny word, with meanings both dark and sunny) have their place … But I watched my mom lose a son, like her mom had lost a son, and how incredibly depressed it made her. Not long after, dad left her. Then an operation to donate a kidney to research (Greg had died of a kidney disease) left her with severed nerves in one leg. She was unable to work. Blanche was in depression for years … I was young. I was no help. Though I didn’t get depressed. I grieved, and then jumped from seminary into government service (Kennedy & all). Took the leap from California to Montana. I had to get away. And in doing so made a complete life change … While Blanche fell into the groove of lonely grieving she’d seen in her mom, Grandma Lily … If there had been a community to help her, it might have been different. But while she could be incredibly playful one minute, the next might see her rage flame out. And it seemed like the ghost of Grandpa Frank, her dad who beat her (and who knows did what else), would take her shape, as she unleashed an inner tomboy she’d never completely disowned … Script. Prescription. The collusion of western medicine’s pill-taking with big pharmaceuticals’ pill-making. In our culture, everyone wanting, almost obsessed with, feeling good … While when I was over in Laos, with its curious mix of Buddhist socialism (transcendental realism), people didn’t want to be happy, didn’t want to be sad. There’s was the golden middle … Me? I’ve always thought the best psychoanalytical therapy was confessing and gossiping with my closest friends, male and female. Although singing, hiking and acupuncture come in close behind. But then I’ve always danced to a different puppeteer.
THE TALKING GOURD Magpie Nest
Say a creaking cradle,
a doomed bassinette,
its gaping walls,
more sieve than shelter,
a blueprint lacking details.
We can’t build this joiner’s nightmare,
want thicknesses and right angles
to protect our young.
Say kindling pile, a twiggy yurt.
Hatchlings grown clumsy, huge
and raucous as adults
overfill their backwoods shanty.
They study shards of sky,
flap crazily into blue, then
leave behind this riddle.