calumet

anyone for birchbark

the keweenaw temperatures are cooling and in a sudden blink, fall colors will come into the northern forests. so, now i am taking care of my “season of long white” preparations. one task is to collect the many pieces of birchbark that i collected this summer. these are the remains from the material i used for the cover of my most recent collection of poems. the cover of “collections of the soul” represents an interesting design of birchbark features. the chapbook contains another collection of short splake haiku visions.

 

“collections of the soul”

scan2

poems

cracked cell phone screen

tiny blue reflections

knowledge slipping away

# # # #

willy loman

empty mall-mart stores

boxes from amazon

# # # #

critics in armchairs

observing passing art

choosing acceptable mediocrity

# # # #

used bookstore mystery

between paperback pages

undelivered valentine

# # # #

Scan 1

 

 

 

a new home for tommy

DSCN9344

     in addition to the ‘splake takes,’ there is a new home for the bardic graybeard. twelve years ago i moved to calumet to join the omphale group of artists, and lived for several years above the omphale art gallery on fifth street. eventually i had an artist studio with the vertin group of artists at the vertin gallery in calumet. from the vertin tenure i had the splake writing room and library in the calumet art center. presently, my new creative home is the ‘rectory.’ the rectory is the old catholic priests house next to the saint anne’s church and now the keweenaw heritage center. i have a second floor studio for my creative writing activiies.

DSCN9372

preview of coming events

 

presently i am working on a new modest poetry collection ‘rectory’ that celebrate my new artistic working area. i am hoping to have finished copies of ‘rectory’ published shortly after labor day.

finally, an advertisement of coming events — much like the advanced previews of my saturday afternoon rialto theatre movies in three rivers — the new splake creative project is a collection of poems examining the literary theme of “beyond brautigan creek.”

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MORE SPLAKE

the splake writing room and library has received some recent news publicity. the calumet art center’s “newsletter” had an article about the writing room written by casey brendan. also, mariah powell did an impressive feature article on the writing room that was published by the houghton “daily mining gazette” in the “happenings” section. in the july issue of the “marquette monthly” there was a brief addition piece describing the splake writing room and library in the calumet art center.

Splake Writing Room offers free space to grow with art, poetry

By Mariah Powell, The Daily Mining Gazette, June 16, 2016

While a small space for reading, writing and learning is not an entirely new concept, the man who created and cares for the Splake Writing Room in the Calumet Art Center is someone with a unique history and viewpoint.
Photographer and poet T. Kilgore Splake, born Tom Smith, created the Splake Writing Room eight years ago after a morning chat over coffee with the center’s founder and executive director Ed Gray.

The room and its resources are free and open to the community, and visitors can check out items by signing the checkpoint log. All lending operates purely on the honor system, with no late fees or library card required. Splake says visitors often bring their lunches to the Writing Room.

In addition to books from every genre, the small room contains DVDs and photo Chapbooks, many of which were created by Splake and printed by one of the many small press publishers he has worked with over the years.
The room also includes a working laptop and DVD player, which visitors can use to view some of Splake’s most recent writings and films.

A few writers magazines sit on a side table, which Splake says he hopes will help anyone interested in honing their writing skills.

“If I knew a kid interested in writing,” he said, “he could come look at the magazines and explore interests in that direction.”

Splake’s own journey into writing did not begin until later in his life. In the late 1960s, Tom Smith was a burnt-out political science professor at Kellog Community College in Battle Creek.

In an attempt to recover from that burnout, he lived alone in Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore in Munising. One morning he was up drinking coffee, watching the smoke rise form the fire, and he started writing. That morning, he wrote four poems.

“I don’t know why I got up to write that [first] poem,” Splake said, “It was like being born a second time in life>”

Along with rebirth, Tom Smith chose a new name. Inspiration came from several different sources. First, inspiration came from the character Kilgore Trout from Kurt Vonnegut’s book “Breakfast of Champions.” Then, when Tom Smith caught his first trophy fish registration told him it was a splake. Retaining his first initial, professor Tom Smith became poet T. Kilgore Splake.

Splake’s early poems centered around woodsy and wild animal themes. Like every writer, Splake eventually started hitting periods of writer’s block. In order to gain further inspiration, he turned to photography.
Now, he said, he chases the writing when it goes well and turns his creative energy to photography when it doesn’t. Poetry is his first choice, he said, with photography a distant second.

During those early years, Splake left his job as professor, which led to several tough financial years.

Splake said during those years, “I used to cry myself to sleep, begging for the freedom to do this.”

Over 1,000 poems later, Splake’s themes have evolved, but he still looks back on his first attempts.

He explained, “Sometimes the early, simple poems have a kind of honesty to them my more mature efforts don’t possess.”

graybeard1

the new splake book “graybeard memories was recently published by the gage press in battle creek, michigan. the book is a brief history of how tom smith became the poet t. kilgore splake. the commentary is based on real people and events, however, the names of the central characters in the memoir have been changed to protect their privacy. the book is forty-eight pages long with a variety of seventeen different photographs. some of the photos include the omphale art gallery, cliffs ‘poet tree,’ rosetta café (splake camus corner table), the old copper mining dredge, and the splake writing room in the calumet art center.

ash

on the small press scene, splake has had poems recently published in the literary magazines “abbey,” and “glimpse.” plus, his haiku poem “loving herself” was the cover poem in a recent
“bear haiku” publication.

“abbey”

private eyes

poets like detectives
bardic shamus tecs
marlowe spade spenser
mike hammer and nero wolfe
chain smokers
drinking rot-gut booze
ignoring policemen
familiar with tough guys
flirting with sexy blondes
solving mysteries
finding killers
where the money went
finally going home
with dark-haired companion
attractive intelligent woman
celebrating together

“glimpse”

feeling a poem (2014)

just relax
deep long breaths
forget your job
all your schooling
posturing professors
ibids and op cits
close your eyes
keep quiet
look inside
long dark shadows
brain-skull cavity
imagine edith piaf
barefoot in the rain
softly singing
another sad song

“bear creek haiku”

loving herself

no one cares for yesterday
worries about tomorrow
living in the moment

currently splake is filming for a new dvd production that will highlight the “green stone mine.” the mine was mentioned in splake’s previous publication “rainbow diary.” in addition, splake is waiting for copies of his new collection of poems to be published by editor dustin pickering of “transcendent-zero press: in houston, texas. the chapbook titled “last dance” is expected to be off the press sometime in mid-july.

MORE SPLAKE’S TAKES

recently i have had two books published – calumet air force base, by gage press in battle creek, michigan, and splake, produced by transcendent-zero press in houston, texas. in addition i had five poems published in the fine small press literary journal “transcendent visions” located in fairless hills, pennsylvania.

antennas

the calumet air force base book had a brief history of the creation and operation of the base in calumet, michigan. there are also several color photographs that graphically review the wholesale vandalism that was done to the radar facility after it closed. finally there is a longer splake poem that reveals my personal feelings about walking around the old air force base and seeing the human devastation.

aatower

the central focus of splake was my literary tribute to my favorite writers – hemingway, keroauc, brautigan and charles bukowski. besides the poems for these writers, there were a few writings about the rosetta café, my favorite morning coffee drinking place. finally the “transcendent-zero press book finished with several new “graybeard” splake poems.

aaasplake

in the splake introduction, transcendent-zero press editor dustin pickering stated:

“splake does not coddle the reader like a baby, sugarcoating lust with spiritualizing. he affirms his life and he seeks a higher order in simplicity and defies the usual authorities with spark and courage.”

the following three “splake” poems come from the latest issue of “transcendent visions,” edited by david kime and published in fairless hills, pennsylvania.

aaatvision

 

the zone

 

daring outlaw

like tarovsky’s stalker

searching forbidden unknowns

soul suddenly alive

possessing new vision

silent passing

running through jungle

finding way back

returning to himself

before lost behind

yellow crime-scene tape

 

# # # #

 

sylvia

 

beyond school celebrity

no think job

lost in cellphone

constant textings

killer “tits” shoes

lacy bra and panties

black sunglasses

teasing tattoos

without existential self

having no escape

 

 

# # # #

 

ice out finis

 

winds slowly turning

dark heavy shadow

hanging from eaves

naughty girl

showing her tits

silently whispering

“look at me”

black arctic nights

lonely endless terror

sunshine and spring

coming too late

 

# # # #

 

! COMING EVENTS !

 

and and and, note, save your milk duds and jujubes, shortly there will be a new addition to the “splake site.” there will be poetry and photographs from the rusty truck chapbook collection of new poems, plus, eric greinke, editor of PRESA PRESS is presently reviewing my work for another book collection that will be titled “tommy’s desk.” finally, a modest chap of poems “waiting” is being prepared.

 

 

 

long white memories by t. kilgore splake

“yoopers” (michigan upper peninsula natives) often refer to their seasons as eleven months of winter and two or three weeks of tough sledding.

borrowing that theme, long white memories is the most recent collection of poetry by t. kilgore splake. his chapbook was published by “gage press” in battle creek, michigan. the book’s front cover is a painting of calumet, michigan in the winter by jane vanevera of gwinn, michigan. the back cover is a splake photograph of ancient sorel boots and well worn snow shoveling gloves.

the poet splake is currently looking for a small press editor that would be interested in publishing his new manuscript “last train home.”

 

 

# # #

 

after death

 

 

becoming a cloud

constantly changing shapes

floating over earth

moving where wind blows

 

# # #

 

graybeard waiting

 

 

slow painful steps

wilderness wandering

touching tasting reality

almost close enough

nature should let him in

 

# # #

 

becoming

 

 

sad piaf voice

soft betraying words

distancing love

broken promises

another heart chasing

someone new

 

# # #

 

beginning

 

 

agates describing

fiery volcanic explosions

crawling glacier whispers

before fish

leaving fossil lines

quiet echoes

along superior shore

 

# # #

 

always heading north

 

 

relentless focus

bolano jim harrison splake

crossing unnamed rivers

hiking toward mountains

seeking places

solitary beauty

abandoning greed

broken-hearted love

forgotten youthful dreams

living in pine shadows

running with wolves

soaring on eagle wings

dark clear nights

moon belongs to us

 

# # #

 

master’s of flat arts

 

 

academic poets

lacking serious imagination

explosive original visions

gpa important

needing constant praise

for fractured self-esteem

satisfied with traditional rules

grammar and punctuation

censoring others experimenting

with dangerous writing styles

fearful wordsmiths

living without

loving and fucking

blending sacred and profane

while bearded tattooed poets

needing madness to create

each morning deciding

suicide today

or writing something new

 

 

# # #

splake in long white

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”

the poet’s room by t. kilgore splake

i was extremely pleased to receive the author’s copies of the new splake book the poet’s room from gordon purkis, editor of “shoe music press” in alpharetta, georgia. the book is 78 pages and the price of the book is $7.16. copies may be obtained from either “shoe music press” or ordered from amazon books.

the poet's room

the poet’s room

 

 

selection from the book

 

the following short dvd selection is splake reading the feature poem “and the poem” from the poet’s room.

 

 

 

kudos and comments on the poetry

 

“hellllllllllllllllllllllloooooo t – many thanks for the latest splake magnum opus! lots of goodies, i especially liked mother’s meds and alone – killer poems, both of them.”

–alan catlin, schenectady, ny

 

“got the copy of “the poet’s room” and thanks much ! like “tomorrow” best so far, resonates well with me . . . “football career” has that killer last line. you got to nail the ending, as I always say.”

–bob penick, louisville, ky

 

“here is my poem, indeed! thank you as always for the book.”

 –scot young, “rusty truck” editor

 

“tk, i can’t thank you enough for sending me a copy of “the poet’s room. i love your words, the sincerity, the lack of pretension, the raw power. honestly tk, your fucking great!”

 –ed markowski, auburn hills, mi

poem from the poet’s room

 

and the poem

graybeard artist

soon passing over

after several lifetimes

tommy thousand years old

yet in a blink

born only yesterday

shadowy memories

flickering in brain-cells

like brief movie frames

distant places called home

buying houses

battle creek college teaching years

little clear lake

downtown guest avenue

munising upper peninsula

small house on westend

moving to calumet

omphale art gallery loft

before mining row house

ash street tamarack location

present bardic res

occasionally wondering

different beds slept in

apartments here and there

falling in love

marriages kaput

divorcing different wives

gale caryl olga

children now grown

living in distant parts

robin lynn

ted mike casey

henry and heidi

stepson and daughter

serious love affairs

paula and stella

jennifer with daughter Athena

intimacies growing cool

rejecting emotional attachments

instead chasing art

animal pets vanished

three cocker spaniels

all named cinder

farm dog king

carpet eating rufus

siamese cat

present to wife

to postpone having kids

goldfish “bernard”

comstock senior girls gift

living in pickle jar

insouciant “zydeco”

green parrot tattoo

talking in my dreams

university years

chasing bitch goddess degrees

western michigan university

classes and professors

ill-fated ph-d program

east lansing campus

holiday christmases past

family thanksgiving feasts

young boy birthdays

ice cream cake candles

lots of toys

like fading tattoos

cliffs mountain lion

trout and black bear

gone gone gone

finally declaring nada mas

abandoning demon rum

morning hangovers

once giving clarity and vision

now swallowing vitamins

blood pressure meds

blood thinning coumadin pills

too old to run

find a new place

change possibilities

shouldahs couldahs wouldahs

paved highway

destroying pictured rocks

outback wilderness

where one summer

wrote first poem

becoming creative loner

lost in solitude

grizzled old man

remembering past loves

today’s modern women

not understanding artist’s habits

unafraid of dying

margaret and emery

mother and father

escaping small farm poverty

becoming middle-class

successful society positions

now back in soil

under granite “smith” headstone

three rivers cemetery

besides two sisters

catherine and mary

my ashes to fly

off cliffs escarpment heights

scattered across keweenaw peninsula

daily fighting depression

like styron described

his darkness visible pages

boots dug in

steely determination

pushing envelope

contesting elusive muse

writing next poem

taking new photograph

knowing life’s happenings

now only like a dream

quietly disappearing

soon forgotten

feeling warm satisfaction

in splake writing studio

calumet art center

so following

dust unto dust

ashes into ashes

for others

here is my poem

tommy “bard res”

 

 

early april morning

gentle taste of spring

sun shining blue sky

birds cheerily singing

happy melodies

on  warm soft breeze

surviving season of long winter

frigid arctic degrees

accumulating snow drifts

bastard clock hands racing

running out of ticks

greybeard poet

collection of knicks and knacks

golden aging dilemmas

toes grotesquely curling

painful foot spur steps

successful cataract surgery

blurry haze gone

macular degeneration worries

wondering about passing

new driver’s license test

dangerous a-fib ripples

changing coumadin prescription

to eliquis meds

annual chest mri

check aneurysm growth

losing teeth

yet still a decent smile

surprising realization

how sometimes distant past

seems like only yesterday

december 1936

little tommy’s birthday

margaret and emery’s son

young boy

growing up

three rivers michigan

small midwestern town

like 1950’s peyton place

always hungry for adventure

challenging the unknown

not satisfied

being like everyone else

other people choosing

boring safe routines

wasting precious lives

brave romantic

trying family life

surviving three marriages

collecting interesting memories

gayle’s father

telling bootlegger’s tales

working for purple gang

wayndotte fisherman

finding bodies in detroit river

carl and evelyn

pressing me to quit college

earning money

buy their daughter things

new 1954 chevy

seventeen hundred dollars

no down payment

years with wife caryl

sold middle class experiences

emily post niceness

buying big house

new automobile

shiny enamel and chrome

expensive furniture

fancy interior decoration

sear’s “revolver” debt

meatloaf sundays

green beans leftovers

next week’s menu

babies babies babies

shitty pissy diapers

cooking special formula

colic and teething discomfort

logging late hours

nightly rocking chair miles

olga’s husband

older swiss miss nurse

refighting ww-ii with her ex

mad bedroom mating

wild exotic sex

apprenticeship with crazy woman

yelling and crying

door slamming silence

suicide her answer

when not getting her way

poet now alone

upper peninsula ghost mining town

without wife

serious lady friend

owning old row house

mortgage finally paid

social security check

middle of the month

other retirement dollars

michigan pension

for college professor years

final outlasting

bitter classroom burn out

quiet calumet residence

piles of books and dvds

organizers full of poems

photographs framed and loose

solitary creative escape

place to push inspired visions

scribbling words

stuff for new poems

across blank legal tablet page

like ferlingetti’s shack

with kerouac ghost

big sur wilderness

gary snyder’s fire tower

summer writing retreat

saving money

for later travels

lake superior lighthouse

lonely keeper

with time to muse and write

distant alaskan log cabin

home of jack london’s

“call of the wild”

place of robert service’s

“men who don’t fit in”

vermont stone house

of scott and helen nearing

writing about “good life”

splake’s keweenaw peninsula

ancient bard house res

“beat hotel” environment

like paris creative scene

visiting beat’s seclusion

early morning espresso

with crossword puzzle challenge

rosetta café

like left bank bistro

where camus sipped wine

pressed his existential edge

soft shadowy whispers

piaf’s ghostly voice

now doddering old fart

thinning gray beard

pressing past memories

pictured rocks summers

lonely campfire nights

mornings writing poems

sweet dutch master’s aromas

seeking artistic wisdom

from boozy bushmills dreams

still regularly engaging

elusive damn dame muse

wrestling with another

poem two or three

until mind shuts down

body wears out

with desperate final breaths

wondering about celebrity

artist henry darger’s

creative talents recognized

following his death

calvary cemetery service

splake granite rock

red tibetan prayer flag

bones and ashes scattered

across cliffs escarpment

floating from poet tree heights

his mountain lion watching

poet coming home

the photographer

earlier this week i received an e-mail mesage from editor alison vyain of moon publishign and printing in fort wayne, indiana, saying the march edition of the moon was finished.  this issue has several splake poems plus front and back cover splake photographs.  i quickly put a check in the mail and ordered extra copies of the publication.  i will send a copy to marcus robyns, splake archivist at northen michigan university in marquette, michigan.  also, i will send a copy to the archives at michigan technological university in houghton, michigan.  finally a copy of the moon will be placed in the splake writing studio in the calumet art center.

recently i wrote a short piece about writer’s block and the terror of feeling that nothing creative was happening.  as a response to writer’s block i chose photography as an alternative art form that would provide me with a second creative outlet.  when nothing is happening on the blank page i am able to look at reality through the glass of a camera lens.

in the beginning of my filming i believed that the black-and-white photographic artistry was emphasized by kathleen mccann’s observation.

“for me black-and-white engages my imagination in a way that color does not.  it is timeless in a way that color isn’t.  the textures of light and shadow mirror the daily journeys we all must take in solitude.”

i chose the 35mm film format and used olympus camera bodies with separate wide-angle and telephoto lenses.  a tripod and cable release were also critical accessory items.  i believe that artificial light destroys the creative nuance of a picture.  i can remember waiting precious seconds for a time-released exposure to trigger the camera lens.  when filming i worked almost exclusively with kodak tri-x.

throughout my working years i have enjoyed considerable artistic success with my photography.  i have had gallery shows at the davidson in battle creek, alger area arts center in munising, portage view in houghton, and the omphale in calumet.  angst productions has published three splake photographic chapbooks–available light, shadows visible, and lightness of being.  also, in the past several years i have had cover photographs for many small press literary publications, and splake pictures printed in numerious national poetry journals.

ten years ago i moved from the print format to the digital filming technology.  i purchased a nikon 5000 cool-pix camera and have established a modest inventory of both color and black-and-white digital photographs.

the following are several examples of black-and-white photographs that i took with my nikon camera.

last train out

last train out

long gone long

long gone long

mad dog escape

mad dog escape

amen jesus amen

amen jesus amen

one bridge too far

one bridge too far

sweet sweet dreams

sweet sweet dreams

american flag

american flag

on my way to the fair

on my way to the fair

no forwarding address

no forwarding address

attention

attention

ten and two

ten and two

no mail today

no mail today

penny ante feud 13

the past week i received the latest issue of penny ante feud, an excellent collection of poetry published by “shoe music press” in alpharetta, georgia.  in the new edition ed markowski wrote a poem “a tribute” which contained welcome praise for this graybeard wordsmith living in the far northern territory of michigan’s upper peninsula.

ed is a nationally known writer of haiku poetry who lives below the bridge in the downstate flatlands of auburn hills, michigan.  he has also developed an interest and talent in painting which provides him with a valuable second creative outlet.

“A Tribute”
by Ed Markowski

With thin blood tender tender calloused feet and a pacemaker propelling his ascension beyond the summit to refresh the poet tree planting new packets of strong steady words that were born bred and bathed in the salt of the Earth up and down a crazy star-pocked trail this sacrilegious saint and Saint Bernard who drained every drop of amber sanity from the decaying industrial guts of greed spilling lava hot from macro micro and Velcro America with an RG Dunn clenched firmly between his teeth flicking flies tagging trout and living wise in the soothing cool of an eternal keweenaw stream carousing with his muse creating shaman songs gloriously drunk with the spirits of the B Brothers and our Grand Papa encased behind a warrior’s sad eyes on the snow-shocked streets of a ghost-less ghost town after seventy-five years the white pine poet explores a new rock-topped superior shoreline that would kill a man half his age splashing his mad mind stew and painting his mind mad mural across a vast shifting snow-carved canvas dancing wolf wild through a shattered glass landscape in shoes that only he can fill.

poet of the frontier

yesterday i received an e-mail message from “presa press” editor eric greinke who informed me that he had nominated my poem “snowfly dreams” for a “pushcart award,” enjoying this literary surprise, i decided to drive out, hike in, and climb the “cliffs” to the old cobblestone smelter smokestack a the summit, my winter trek would be easy as i would be following the trail packed down by the recent snowmobilers,

as i was turning quiet tranny miles north of calumet, the eastern horizon was coming into early first dawn light, this reminded me of the weekends a long time ago when, as a young boy, i would go with my father to visit the smith deer hunting camp outside pentwater, michigan, a three-hour drive from our three rivers home, dad drove a 1947 plymouth coupe in those days, which was equipped with a metal box-type heater which had small doors that would open and close to control the automobile temperature,

we would leave three rivers about 5 o’clock in the morning and arrive in pentwater just in time to have our breakfast at the pentwater bakery before continuing the drive out to the smith camp, ah, such delicious memories, hot cocoa, greasy sausage links, eggs, and the most marvelous stack of thick dark brown wheatcakes,

in the 1950s, the small towns of hart and pentwater represented the true michigan wilderness, later the area sadly became over-populated by the people escaping the grand rapids and muskegon metros to settle on their own recreational properties, emery hired locals to cut the jack and norway pines on our 40 acres to sell to the lumber mill in walkerville, for three or four summers i was friends with two colorful old-time lumberjacks, charlie schultz and jack deutchman, another old logger, bob hughes, would skid the cut logs out of the forest to a roadside loading site with his team of horses, bob fed his horses chewing tobacco as a special treat, of course, this was an extremely exciting experience for a young ten-year-old boy,

many years later, married with two young sons and a daughter, i had grown tired of the college classroom and empty title of associate professor, and i began searching for a more desirable alternative, finally i thought why not sign up with the bureau of indian affairs and teach in a remote alaskan one-room school, work three or four years, save as much money as possible, buy some cheap alaskan land, build a log cabin and as best as possible live off the land, hunting, fishing, gardening and foraging, i would become my own boss and not have controlling academic committees or stifling college administrators telling me what i had to do, plus, my children, ted, mike, and casey, would enjoy a bi-cultural childhood, growing up familiar with the customs of the alaskan indians as well as the ways of the mainstream american culture,

alas, my wife caryl was very cool to the idea of flying into a remote alaksan village to live for two years, which was the duration of a bureau of indian affairs teaching contract, nor was she sympathetic to ordering a year’s supply of food that we would need in advance of settling in an alaskan village, it was with a bitter degree of disappointment that i aborted my grand alaskan escape adventure,

all of my life i have been drawn to some remote wilderness location as the place to live, for ten summers i would flee kellogg community college in battle creek in early may and live in the pictured rocks national lakeshore outback between munising in the west and grand marais in the east, summer days in the pictured rocks were spent trout fishing, hiking, and just slowing down to the pace of my ross lake camp’s daily consciousness,

now in the twilight of my lifetime i live in the small michigan upper peninsula village of calumet, once the center of a booming copper mining industry, the “cliffs,” a ridge of basaltic outcropping north of calumet provides me with a final sense of being at the edge of civilization, often while hiking and climbing in the “cliffs” i find that i become at one with my “self,” and thus able to ebb and flow with the mad magical stuff that new poems and stories are made of.