Author Archives: Irene

Replenishing the Well

 

I had hoped to sparkle back your way this week, but truth be told, the well is still replenishing (not that dryness is actually the issue, here…)

So I simply offer this image of a spontaneous moment on Monday with hopes that  your well is replenishing well, as well–

Muguets and Tissues: A Writer Wednesday Post

May 21st, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (5 Comments)

Muguets Muguets & Tissues, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014

If you really want to listen to my clogged-up voice, please click here:Muguets and Tissues

Oh, the fuzzy muzzy muddle-headed mediation of a cold! Right in the middle of this scurrying season, the flow of life congeals, senses blanketed in thick subterranean retreat, jello in the veins and brain.

Though people come and go throughout your day, forget your appearance–nothing makes your puffy self attractive. Red rims every feature of your face, your cracking voice seems to be emerging from an antique bathosphere, and the few movements you care to make are like a stop motion animation with the motion mostly stopped.

But there is comfort in withdrawal after a week of intense effort. And perhaps at day’s end, you can, in your pajamas, gather sorrel from the garden, roast garlic and shallots, chop the last potato, sip that savory soup, mix a toddy of brandy-addled ginger tea, climb into bed with an old-fashioned whodunnit, blessed by the faint but detectable scent of  a nosegay of muguets you plucked. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

 

City Tulips

City Tulips, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014

As the old song goes, while strolling through the park one day, in the merry, merry month of May, I was taken by surprise… by the colossal size and the glory of the tulips on the way. These opulent beauties are gracing Madison Square Park for a few more days.

But I cannot linger to describe or draw conclusions from them (not that they need it) for I teach a dozen poetry classes this week to help our local schoolchildren cherish the natural world. (Thanks to the Hudson Highlands Land Trust’s  River of Words program.) So it’s a short post today.

Monday was School Forest Day here in Garrison, and I was asked to conduct a few sensory awareness exercises with first-graders. We watched leaves dance, listened to myriad sounds, learned to know a personal rock by touch alone.

Here are the blooms I’m cultivating in our country woods–with any luck, they’ll keep blossoming for years and years.

 

Country blooms

 

 

Fiddle-Dee-Day: A Writer Wednesday Post

May 7th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (9 Comments)

 

fiddleFiddlehead, photo and all text, © Irene O’Garden, 2014

To listen to this post, please click here: Fiddle Dee Day

At dinner the other night, John and I were served a delicious dish of sautéed fiddlehead ferns. I always feel a bit guilty eating them, since they burst so with promise, as did this one outside my cabin door last Friday.

As we munched, I was reminded of my slenderest little volume, eight pages long. Tracy Strong and I conceived, designed and printed it spontaneously in a single day in 1995 to accompany my show Stand-Up Dreams

psychic compassPsychic Compass, photo © Irene O’Garden, 2014

As you see, it’s entitled “All Points on the Psychic Compass Turn In.” It’s a tiny collection of thoughts that occurred to me waking up from sleep. (The title itself is one.)

Such thoughts have a different quality from either dream or waking reality, and while I don’t always know what they mean,  I enjoy attending to them.

The one I recalled was this:

 

Fiddlepage

 

It made me laugh when I wrote down, but I didn’t fully get its meaning until I took this photograph a few moments ago. That’s the very same fern in the top photo, but how the days have changed her. Her head is nearly all unrolled–though, for the moment, her leaflets are fiddling still.

This fleet season, these few days when opening leaves are V’s on the trees, is like that ephemeral state between sleeping and waking–a sweet surprising passing gossamer of consciousness.  Reminding us that life, at any stage, still bursts with promise.

 

What are you fiddling with these days?

Words On a Page: A Writer Wednesday Post

April 30th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (2 Comments)

words 2Words on a Page, photo and all text ©Irene O’Garden, 2104

 

 

To listen to this post, please click here: Words On a Page

Waiting for a train I heard one young woman tell another, “My brother says, ‘Why should I read? It’s just words on a page.’ ”

Struck me to the heart, these words in the air.  And though I’m selling tuxedos to penguins, should someone ever ask you…

“Why board a train?” I want to say. “It’s just cars on a track. It only gets you places hard to get to on your own. And a whole lot faster.”

But shock occasions reflection and reflection, gratitude.

Words on a page. Important, like boxcars, for what they convey. Which is us.

Reading, we ride with the engineer. Worlds of our joint creation spring up around the locomotive.

Non-fiction writers can take us anywhere —this author explored the Arctic, for example, so I can share somewhat in that experience. What expert scouts good writers are!

Fiction writers take us inside of each other, inside of ourselves. They train our inner ear to our inner life—that slippery ongoing stream of psychological states which filter, flow and congeal into physical experience.

And poets? Well, they don’t use tracks at all. They just beam us from place to place.

Isn’t it wonderful, this magical travel through each other’s minds and experiences? Even if sometimes the page is glowing glass, not paper.

 

Where have you been traveling lately? 

(No dictionaries were harmed in the creation of this post.)

 

Looking forward to seeing wonderful folk this Friday night at my reading in Beacon at The Howland Cultural Center!603647_1437161439856601_6956585083063026521_n

 

Why Let Your Hair Whisper? A Writer Wednesday Post

April 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (6 Comments)

Why, Indeed Why, Indeed? photo and all text © Irene O’Garden 2014

 

To listen to this post, please click here:Why Let Your Hair Whisper?

Don’t you get a kick out of life? You just never know what you’re going to see when you pop into a shopping plaza.

Before I offer my answer to this interrobang-less question, however, I do want to note with warmth and affection that this vigorous and colorful bit of marketry was done entirely by hand—an increasing rarity in signage these days.

Nor does it feel like a corporate suggestion, or something someone would pick up on a salon-tips website, also an increasing rarity. “Why let your hair whisper when it can scream?” has the cachet of an original notion. Was it the boss’ vision, or an enterprising employee’s? Perhaps they are one and the same person.

Either way, you can picture the grinning artist with her stack of big printer paper and her markers, twirling away, bringing in business. For if I wanted my hair to scream, I’d want a salon where people clearly have fun with line and color and, in evidence on the smaller signs, scissors!

However, as far as the question itself goes, it’s nice to have an answer I don’t have to google (yet another increasing rarity?)

Because though my hair’s short, it’s still close to my ears.

 

 

Have you an answer you don’t need to google?

 

Thanks to the lovely Liz Gilbert for yesterday’s Facebook Fan Page post featuring my work!

As mentioned last week, our local newspaper, The Paper at Philipstown.info, is running “One Poem a Day Won’t Kill You” through April. Today’s video is me reading my poem “To My Husband Away On Business.” (Please click below.)

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And a reminder that I’ll be a featured poet on May 2–please come hear the new work!

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Vernal Icon: A Writer Wednesday Post

April 16th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Poetry - (6 Comments)

 

sunny bunny

 Vernal Icon, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014

To listen to this post, please click here:Vernal Icon

This stunning vernal icon on our mantelpiece was created by collagist Lisa O’Rourke. (No website yet–her work was offered at  Tracy Strong’s wonderful studio sale.) Though freshly minted, it strikes an ancient chord in me–a fine untarnished image of fertility that feels at once medieval, and somehow older than Easter.

As accompaniment, here is “Rabbit,” from my Voices of Animals collection. I often share it in the classroom with young bunnies.

 

RABBIT

Spring is the heart

of the rabbit. Spring

is the haunch. My ears wing

my sound: melody of morning

runs like water down. My nibble

my gnaw my sweet root. Then danger!

rustling like birdflight,

fans my ceaseless quickenings.

How I love to be afraid!

For I know I am fast—

the holy scent passes my whiskers,

I joy in the whiz of the grass—

know fear’s good; smell speed there.

Blood runs high, worlds blur

in this great bounding game.

 

The turn the twitch

the switch, the hitched haunch

in twisted white wheat loosed

just before the clamping tooth,

slipping spinning kicking

bare along the pounded bank

Will I make my hole

or float above me watching?            

 

Wished I a safe life I’d live

as a mole! Wriggle short fur

grass tuft tail. I have known

severally this great soaring instant

of death. We die as the grass:

not at all.

 

 

How will you enjoy the rites of Spring? 

 

 

Check out One Poem A Day–great seeing folks read favorite poems.(Mine appears next Wednesday.)

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And here, the info about my poetry reading on May 2 in Beacon:

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The Gardener’s Lament: A Writer Wednesday Post

April 9th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Poetry - (15 Comments)

PeasePeas on Earth, photo © Irene O’Garden 2014, poem © John Pielmeier, 2014

To listen to this post, please click here:The Gardener’s Lament

(Apologies for the missing apostrophe above–Wordpress will not let me put it in, despite my particular personal affection for that bit of punctuation!)

How happy I am to plant this timely guest post before you today, written by the literarily nimble John Pielmeier! While known to most of the world as a dramatist and screenwriter, he is also a delightful poet, as you soon shall see–

(Full disclosure: I am myself the wife to whom he refers.)

THE  GARDENER’S LAMENT

Starting on the Ides of March

I have seen my poor wife arch

Her greening brows, begin to plan

Precisely where to plant her can-

teloupes, tomatoes, peas and corn,

Rhubarb, lettuce, Plenty’s Horn.

April brings the seeds a-sprouting

In our kitchen, stemlings mounting

Up our dining rooms bare walls

In our living room and halls,

Bathtub filled with greening babies—

Future yeses, no’s and maybe’s.

May’s the time to plant and crack

The earthen beds and break your back

By heaving tons of sod or mulch or

Some such boons to horticulture.

June—our growing babes are prey

To bugs and slugs; Cocoons of May

Have sprouted into caterpillars;

My wife and I—the June bug killers—

Forgot to spray the tree for leeches—

Whoops! Too bad, we lost the peaches.

Come July the currants red

Are calling us from early bed

To pick and pick and pick and pick

And pick and pick til we grow sick

Of picking. Lo! No end in sight.

It’s time to pray for currant blight.

In August-time the corn is high

As–well—a tallish midget’s eye.

The sun’s been hot—a fierce attack—

And all that’s green has turned to black.

But never fear! My lovely mate is

Overburdened with tomatoes.

September’s crop is fit to burst—

Too bad the deer have got it first.

October’s time to plow it under,

Dream of next year’s harvest plunder,

Calculate the season’s fee—

A dollar-ninety-eight a pea!

For tho’ the snows sift white and deeper,

Winter’s veggies sure are cheaper.

Begging all your green thumb’s pardon,

I bid farewell to this year’s garden,

While ordering Burpee o’er the phone.

There’s nothing like a grow-your-own.

 

 

How does your garden grow?

 

If you find yourself in Beacon NY on Friday night May 2, I will be a featured poet at the Howland Center at 8pm–I’ll be reading some of my newest work. Hope to see you there!

Sprung: A Writer Wednesday Post

April 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays | Poetry | Publication News - (6 Comments)

SprungSprung, photo &  all text, © Irene O’Garden, 2014

To listen to this post, please click hereSprung: A Writer Wednesday Post

Though momentarily concealed, the sun was out long enough this week to bless the dining-room bouquet, soften the earth in the garden and distribute a general feeling of relief here in the Hudson Valley.

Help arrived yesterday and busted up the last crusty, recalcitrant, gravel-studded humps of snow; scraped away the tattered mats of autumn leaves, and leveled all the yellow silhouettes of “winter interest”—those grasses, rosehips, dessicated flowerheads we leave in the bleakened landscape to lift our hearts.

Snowdrops, crocuses, green poking spears –all the lovely little Spring clichés bring comfort, for I’m wrestling with the angel of an old writing project.  Caught myself thinking that finishing it will be quite an accomplishment.

But that approach can be a winter of its own. Does Nature “accomplish” Spring?  Is it a list of tasks she checks off one by one? When she’s finished, does she collapse in a cloud and say “Glad that’s done!”

Those poking crocuses remind us creative projects are not sets of tasks, either, but living things, with their own seasons, growing out of ourselves into themselves and at last, springing free of us.

 

What’s springing up in you these days?

Wanted to let you know about a delightful project our local newspaper, Philipstown.info is doing. Perhaps your community might enjoy creating this as well–I was asked to record one of my poems–it will air later this month

One Poem a Day Won’t Kill You” celebrates April as National Poetry Month by inviting community members to read a favorite poem, original or borrowed.  The project drew such an enthusiastic response that April may be a bit longer than usual this year.  Tune in each day for a new addition to a delightfully inspiring anthology of poems and voices.

 

 

 

Sieve Mind: A Writer Wednesday Post

March 26th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (12 Comments)

 

Sieve 3Sievery, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014

 

 

“Words draw pictures,” my mother was fond of saying. Perhaps that’s why I paused a moment when I recently heard myself say–as many do– “My mind’s like a sieve.” This mind I was griping about immediately came up with a rejoinder, which I wanted to pass along calligraphically to you:

 

 

 

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Taking this week’s photo, I also realized that not only do our sieve minds catch what is important, on a good day they reflect the light, too…

 

Has your sieve mind caught something interesting lately?

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