Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wounded Healer: Gathering Poems in the Immensity

Photo by Swain Scales
Wounded Healer

We were small in the valley
of red and white sands,
just creatures among creatures
in wilderness.
We stayed close together,
            friends in the immensity,
            hiking canyons and washes at night
with a full moon and headlamps
and me blindly reaching for objects
in the shadows and for some reason, that night,
I spotted all of the corpses:
            a decomposing coyote,
            large femur of a bird,
            skull of a mouse,
            a baby deer hide —
death was everywhere.

Later, as I walked to my cabin in pitch black,
I heard misery —
a wounded animal,
            baby of a creature
            whimpering, terror.
I pointed my flashlight in the direction of the sound,
and for a moment,
I was prepared to scour the dark,
            find and save,
            soothe and ease,
an anxiety in my chest —
a responsibility, old, familiar,
like when I was a child and sensed
that the people around me ached,
each one (everyone) in their own way,
could see it but not calm it,
            lived with knowing I had no power
            over grief.

In the morning, I spoke of it
to the poet, Dahveed, as he poured me coffee.
“Yes,” he said. “I heard it too.”
“Do you think it was suffering?” I asked.
“I think there is suffering all around, always.”
And his eyes told me another truth —
that I am not responsible to fix it.

-Renee Podunovich, 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Beauty Everywhere: A Poem of Reverie & Celebration of Artistic Friendship

Peaches, Blue Depression Glass, Floral Tablecloth
photo by Renee Podunovich
Beauty is everywhere. Everywhere I look. Beauty is amplified by friendships with those who also see it in all of the small and large and in-between places. Beauty never hides, perhaps the mind fogs and can't see it, loses perspective, but then Beauty is there again, everywhere, always- and inside each of us too. 

This poem is dedicated to my long-time mentor and friend, Sonja Horoshko at Art Juice Studio in Cortez, CO. She first showed me how to choose to see Beauty everywhere, even amid the constant destruction and chaos that is always concurrent. This poem is about our friendship and being artists together. The elements used here are a combination of specific details of each of our lives and they co-mingle inside the poem in a manner that brings me great joy. If you take one thing from this poem, let it be to sample blue cheese on gingersnaps! 


she lives by herself and hunts, but she is not a stray cat. she is movement, a nocturne, a blanket spread out in the park, a knife cutting apricots and green chilies, a dish with a floral pattern, a textile draped over furniture, rice paper and cerulean ink, silver and turquoise, the crimson and lime and umber stones that are the palette of the desert 
she is a bluebird on a juniper branch,
a bluebird printed on a cloth flour sack,
a Tibetan bell at the front door,
an old bed frame used as a trellis in the garden,  
a trail that is circular,
pots of red geraniums beneath the sagebrush,
the black and white stripes of a sun umbrella,
chime-song in the spring winds and
recumbent vines of morning glory radiant with dew.

beauty billows out in waves
from an introverted doorway of a delicate bungalow on an irregular block,
where she paints or writes by a wood stove, serves gin with sprigs of garden mint in old fashioned glasses, splurges on blue cheese and gingersnaps, keeps company with watercolors, black cats and pianos. 

sometimes she is jet stones strung on wire with tears and pearls,
heavy like layers of Pendleton blankets stacked so high
their distinctive designs overlap then disappear in the night
and she sleeps and sleeps in the art of dreams—

her bed is a web of stars
where certain sadnesses barely make a dent
in the enormous body of space and dark matter.

- Renee Podunovich, 2018

Thai Chilis, Plum Tomatoes, Woven Basket
photo by Renee Podunovich

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Poems as Reciprocity: Giving Back to Rain in the Desert

“Gifts from the earth or from each other establish a particular relationship, an obligation of sorts to give, to receive, to reciprocate." 
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, from Braiding Sweetgrass
Rain on Spider Webs photo by Renee Podunovich

“This storm is the remnant of Tropical Storm Rosa,” he tells me this morning as I stand with a cup of coffee among the sagebrush, enjoying the movement of airborne water and cloud swirl. She has slowed her course this far inland, so that we receive her in the High Desert as a woman whose powerful voice was heard...and then hushed. Writing poems for rain in the desert is a kind of reciprocity, the only gift I can think of to give her today.  

All night long I was aware of this storm, she was seamless in her travels between my dreams and my waking world this morning when I sat down to write. 

Tears on Spider Webs & Wire

I woke to the sound of her fingers
thrumming on the roof,
on my sternum—        her water hair
                                    each strand drizzling,
                                    skimming my face
                                    (only dreams)
she placed tears
in my eye sockets,
they fell out of the corners,
wet quartz tumbling
onto my pillow, evaporated
by morning                  —absorbed back into her mist.

They say she is a feminine rain
when she is slow and steady,
so light in the falling
that only gradually
will the bark of Juniper become black,
the subdued needles vibrant jade,
so woozy from the enchantment
with its own purple berries
that it bows down by morning,

I slept in her ocean,
deep in the underwater rivers that form her waving.
I wake to a wet desert,
and her tears caught on spider webs and wires.
On my fingertip, I lift a single raindrop,
lay it on my third eye,
the place still concerned about a certain sorrow,
a permanent loss
I can do nothing to soothe.

If I successfully wrestle my own darkness
each night, if her hands
occasionally caress me in shadows—
                                    the broken drought,
                                    the end of longing,
                                    a healing which only comes
                                    at its own tempo.

-Renee Podunovich, 2018
Rain on Wire photo by Renee Podunovich

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Moon Lace: Desert Poetics, Night Wandering

19th Century Burano needle-lace fan leaf

Moon Lace

Quartered, now halved, she dresses me
in a gown of finely laced light,
so spidery and buoyant,
her enchantment is a snare—

I curve,
along this slight arc
of an earth animated by moonshine
in a wilderness of boundless night:
trails of stars
I follow,
until a slight rotation of the planet
pulls me back to my place among

where this mistress moon
weaves me into her thin glimmers,
twisting a glow into the curls of my hair
scattered like snaking vines along the red dirt,
my skin a luminous satin, such a smooth
surface for the embroidered frills and flounces
she laces upon my neck,
delicate gossamers looped, plaited, knotted into
a decorative and illusory noose.

I have imagined myself
as a million beautiful
yet time-bound things.
In every bondage
is the key to breaking free.
Escape is simple here in the desert
where the scale of the warp
and weft and arid conditions
render mental threads brittle,
the free flowing flower motifs and illusions
snap and break in their exposure to vastness—

just stitches in air,
defying grid patterns, lifting
their heavy adornment away from me.
And then I fly freely in the night,

wicked and released.

-Renee Podunovich, 2018
Seated Under Half Moon, photo by Renee Podunovich