smell it breathe it

last week’s fierce alberta ‘clipper’ delivered over a foot of snow to the keweenaw farther northern territory. minus zero degrees plus forty-miles-per-hour winds added to the long white accumulation in metrops. however, under the present arctic blanket mice families are growing. also tiny eggs are warming in bird nest homes and soon will be bringing new life into the world. while there is crunching under each bootstep, the michigan upper peninsula is already ‘coming into spring.’

recently i posted copies of two new literary publications to reviewers, editors and close writing friends. presa press (editor eric greinke) finished “anatomy of desire,” and gage press (battle creek, michigan) produced a new collection “beyond brautigan creek.” the brautigan creek production also had a dvd attached to the chapbook. i am hoping that my “wonder woman anna” will have the technological wisdom to make the “beyond brautigan creek” dvd available to wordpress viewers.

the next splake collection of poems – “sacred and obscene” – is now at the transcendent-zero press in houston, texas (editor dustin pickering) and will soon be available.

“anatomy of desire”


mexico city blues

poet’s broken heart

wet espresso tears

lost in arctic white out

dreaming of escape

riding greyhound ghost

midnight crossing border

cold beer breakfast

orizaba street café

chatting with jack

# # # #

poet’s roots

“moving beyond parents”

friday night sockhops

“stardust” slow dancing

suddenly replaced by bill haley

“rock and the clock”

blackboard jungle music

crew cut hair and sweaters

chinos with belt in the back

wildly dreaming of

brando bogart james dean

black leather jackets

motorcycle boots

sexy looking tattoos

not understanding kerouac

on the road miles

searching for good parts

nelson algren paperback

often feeling like elvis

a little bit shook up

#  # # #

all or nothing

“in the desert – man is there

god is not”


few people find

sacred spiritual feelings

abundant in desert space

preferring holy book passages

religious scripture words

for explanations of life

thousands of years passing

rainwater melting snow frost

creating brilliant red lansscape

massive buttes and mesas

glowing like fiery forge

moments of creation

before bethlehem manger

time of eden

sandstone petroglyphs

describing native magic

rolling piling white clouds

becoming black thunderheads

wild mustangs racing across land

dust devils blowing through sand

today shadowy ghosts

still staring at heavens

celebrating gods

forgotten by others

# # # #

“beyond brautigan creek”


something more

late dusky shadows

quickly evening darkness

sitting around campfire

brautigan creek bank

warming hands in embers

remembering summer nights

many years ago

listening to glowing coals

learning greater wisdom

understanding what to think

important things to do

tomorrow leaving behind

important artist’s memories

poet tree sentinel

writings photos paintings

old leather boots

hanging in tree

rocking chair

with jack daniel’s bottle

tin cup waiting

for thirsty traveler

first dawn

following prayer flags

birch tree signs

leading to cliffs trail

traveling light

without rucksack or gear

moving beyond

rocky granite summit

hoping to find true love

perfect place to live

like sam and jill

gilliam’s movie “brazil”

poet’s happy ending

living with paula

chapel rock beach

swimming naked

chilly lake superior

truly free spirits

outside of time

# # # #

Scan 1


“a letter”

i was recently blessed with a rare moment of literary praise. my surprise was a letter from an alabama lady who this past summer had been visiting the pictured rocks lakeshore area in munising, michigan. while having lunch in a grand marais restaurant she found and read a copy of my “pictured rocks memories” poems. she said:

“we sat in a quaint diner, the fog of an overcast afternoon swelling off the west bay, and i noticed a stock of books on the window sill of our booth. one so happened to be a timeworn chapbook of poetry-exactly palatable to my taste. while my mother and aunt savored their dishes, i indulged in poetic musings of local nature, serenity and folkways. i was captured by the culture, the writing; my southern heart felt so connected to a place so far from its origin. i felt immersed in the natural beauty of a land i had just recently laid my own eyes upon.

we left town shortly after and journeyed home, but the name stuck in my head. splake. what an odd name, i thought. it wasn’t until winter engulfed my home here in alabama, that i was reminded of the writing. i’m not sure what spurred me to write this, but i believe the poetry touched my soul in such a unique way. i’ve realized how detached i’ve felt from the likes of frost, thoreau, or whitman because of just how welcoming your writing was. i could feel the words around me, i saw it in the swaggering pines, the rushing waterfalls, the towering sand dunes. i felt the culture, i understood the lore, the myths – it was rapturous. i suppose this is a thank you for drawing me closer to the area and heightening my foreign experience of its lifestyle.

t-hanks a lot bama and

‘go tide’

splake: a day in the life

jim stegner is the central character in the new peter heller book the painter. in the heller book stegner describes his awe as a seventeen year old boy viewing the winslow homer painting “fog warning” at the san francisco museum of modern art.

the winslow painting shows a fisherman in a small boat facing an approaching wall of fog. the fisherman is alone and appears worried that if the fog surrounds him he could be lost at sea forever. young jim stegner immediately decided that he wanted to make stuff come alive as he had seen in the homer work and became a painter.

this driven creative feeling of “i want to do that” is exactly how i felt many years ago after reading the poetry of richard brautigan in his books rommel drives on deep into egypt and the pill versus the springhill mine disaster.

as a younger poet i quickly discovered that discipline – both mental and physical – were crucial to finishing an artist’s creative works. in a recent issue of “the daily rumpus” editor stephen elliott quoted a new york times study of creativity that stated the “way a brain works is similar to an elite athlete.”

becoming a determined artist anxious to discover experiences that i had never felt before, i established a rigid working schedule for my writing days. the outline of my basic habits are revealed in the “splake: a day in the life” dvd.

in the video the alarm wakes me early in the morning and i shower, knot my ponytail, quickly check the home computer and have breakfast at the bard res. then i drive to my studio in the vertin arts building to work. during this early morning time i check on the latest e-mails, jump start my brain with a crossword puzzler or two and review the planned agenda for that day.

however, after an hour or two i pause to get a second cup of coffee and check up on local calumet gossip at the orson welles booth in the evergreen café. at the evergreen café i chat briefly with the waitresses, mary rowe and patrice kauppinen and jikiwe, director of the vertin art gallery. when i made the “a day in the life” video jikiwe and i used to discuss the future issues of cliffs soundings, the literary magazine that we produced on the evergreen café mornings.

“a day in the life” video finishes with a second early morning drive from my ash street old mining row house in the tamarack location to the vertin building in an early morning blizzard. the careful viewer will note that the snowflakes are thick and there is also about eight inches of fresh snow covering the street. a person familiar with calumet architecture can see the red sandstone structure of the old calumet theater building while driving on sixth street to the red blinker light and the vertin art gallery


NOTE: as an additional footnote, since my early mornings in the studio in the vertin art gallery i have moved my writing location to the “splake writing room and library” in the calumet art center building.


“splake: a day in the life”