Golden Shackles

These golden shackles I wear:
heavy and tight,
but they pay my dues.
They’re outdated and tarnished
but they still have use.
These golden shackles I wear:
rusted iron,
are well past their prime.
They are owned by another,
and yet they are mine.
These golden shackles I wear,

which I hold the key.
I could unlock them right now
but wouldn’t be free.

Just One Song

To merely know your name is all I long,
to see your face and figure, if you please.
Oh how you tease to offer just one song
ere ghosting me with silence in the trees.
I heard you sing but once, your melody.
‘Twas not enough to fathom who you are.
I squint and strain my eyes, in hope to see;
but woods are thick and you have gone too far.
How long should I pursue you through the mire
and yearn to catch your beauty in a glimpse?
How far can I give chase before I tire,
when fervent march gives way to aching limps?
Alas, with vestige of your presence gone,
my memory not knowing you lives on.

Fall Camp turned Winter

After a full autumn of being busy at work, directing a play, and raising a one-year-old, I was ready for an escape into the woods. So what if it was Halloween? A solo camp seemed like more fun to me than a costume party at a bar… so off I went to some favorite turf in the Chippewa National Forest.

The plan was to build by own shelter with a tarp. But I didn’t (and still don’t) have a good camping tarp. I had one of those plastic woven tarps you use to cover firewood or whatever. Also, it was way too big and had grommets/tie offs in all the wrong places. Well, the bigger issue was that it didn’t have them in the right places, i.e. the center of the tarp. Only on the corners and edge.

A29CB27B-F0CC-4B25-BFD3-F123919AFA38End of October in northern Minnesota, I should have expected as much, but the fall turned to winter quickly. My shelter was frumpy, and I orientated it with the view of the lake in mind… more than the prospect of wind coming off the lake in mind. I’m still a little wet behind the ears when it comes to bushcraft, and lacking some of the right gear to do it well; but a terribly constructed and planned shelter compounded by falling damp temperatures made for a pretty restless night. In the midst of rut, I was also kept on edge by the sounds of enamored deer chasing each other through the woods. Even though I’m ‘all grown up’ and was 95% sure the noises I was hearing were just deer, my imagination was still going wild as I slept alone in the woods with noises of creatures breaking through the darkness. For comfort and security, I kept my side arm close at hand. Just in case the bears weren’t hibernating yet, the wolves smelled steak on my hands, or Leather Face was out on the hunt.

I woke in the morning with hands that were too cold and stiff to start a fire. Also in the early stages of a cold that was beginning to eclipse my sinuses, I decided to call it early. It would be one night rather than three. Nonetheless, it was a good little adventure in a fun spot to which I hope to return.


Porters and Poetry

Reprinted from ‘Make it Minnesota

Living in Itasca County is a blessing with its idyllic crossroads of Minnesota’s Nature and growing rural arts scene. A number of us juggle daytime professions with after-hour passions, and we do a small part to augment our community with unique, cultural experiences. This spring such an event sprung with a Friday night in April dubbed ‘Porters & Poetry.’ The experience was born from a love of written language, performance arts, and craft brews. The setting in MacRostie Art Center, with local creations gilding the white walls, was inspiring.

Featured poets punctuated opportunities of open mic, and all was enhanced by a round or two of libations. We had roughly 80 in the crowd, which we figured wasn’t too shabby for a poetry reading in the north woods of Minnesota. Having gone well, thanks to support from area organizations and individuals, we wrote in a second round for October. Instead of featured poets punctuating the open mic, we tried to change it up with competitions for original limericks and haiku.

Why limericks? They’re just fun, and you can’t argue with that. Why haiku? Haiku, is Japanese micro-poetry, traditionally being an artistic observation and enjoyment of nature. In the midst of a gorgeous Minnesota autumn with the changing colors at their peak, inspiration from nature was abounding in October. Art reflects nature, and nature is an artistic creation of its own; so one cannot live in the beauty of the north woods without being inspired by every breath of clean, pine-scented air.

wind swirling tall pines:
The gravel is carpeted
in fresh, amber shag.

            Whether hiking far north of Grand Rapids on the trails of Suomi Hills, or in the heart of downtown on the banks of the infant Mississippi, an artist is inspired by the tremble of every aspen and the chastising from every squirrel. Not that one needs an excuse to get outside and enjoy nature, but the haiku challenge of our latest Porters & Poetry gave great reason to do so. Apparently it is customary for Japanese to go on a nature walk for the sole purpose of seeking an inspiring moment in time and nature, from which to write haiku. I found it difficult to set a poetry quota of one when the inspirations of nature are countless; from towering pines to trumpeter swans to vibrant rose hips…

those wild crimson lips
kiss the shrubs where roses grew,
bid farewell to green

            But all good nature walks must come to an end, and in time one has to come inside and go to a poetry reading to share it with others. If a pint of Minnesota’s finest brew or a glass of red wine are to accompany the eloquence of spoken word- so much the better. And best of all, proceeds from Porters & Poetry went to Grand Rapids Players community theatre; so essentially an artistic event helped to raise funds for other artistic experiences. That’s collaborative sustainability in Minnesota’s Nature; And creating arts in Minnesota is almost as good as going into the woods to find inspiration.

Rows of red fingers
interlock in rev’rent grace.
sumac radiance