Way of the Mountain #183

by MG Admin on November 2, 2011

I cut some of my best performance teeth in bars, reading poetry above the clink of glasses and the din of boisterous patrons. It sharpens one’s work. If you can grab the intoxicated so they stop and really listen, you’ve done something remarkable.

But this month I want to celebrate a poet who didn’t read in bars much, but who stood in a trench with his fellow soldiers far too close to an early atom bomb blast. The experience led him, by various routes, to become a poet/professor and a peacenik. Leonard “Red” Bird was a marvelous educator, who taught his students at Fort Lewis College in Durango to love literature — from Shakespeare to Bukowski.

I had the good fortune to read in his class, watch him teach and become his friend. The last time I saw him was at the San Miguel de Allende Poetry Festival in Mexico last winter (when he shared with me the poem below), and he was as vibrant and full of life as ever, in spite of the sickness that would eventually take him from us. The whole idea of poet laureates is so Brit and high-tone that it seems antithetical to the subversive art of poetry. But Red Bird was my poetry hero when I came to Southwestern Colorado. He may not have been a laureate, but he was an honest, authentic, Western voice with a message of peace and love — a quintessential Way of the Mountain Poet.
— Art Goodtimes
Cloud Acre

Send all poetry submissions to poetry@mountaingazette.com

So Shine!

Each budding self exists
As one translucent slice of time
That plays across the radiant sun
But once. Every breath
Depletes the finite gift.

Even at birth, as we swim
Towards first breath, we catapult
Into space as glorious rainbows,
And fade just short
Of bridging the abyss.
So plunge into the dance, and shine.

— Leonard “Red” Bird

Coyote

Out on the ranch and loping home.
Perfect evening. Perfect solitude
Horse and I.

Suddenly, coyote song
in surround sound. Pull to a stop.
Song on the left and song on the right.

Coyote right in front of us
singing away. Lucky to see
her song being sung!

— Therese Rocamora
Leadville, Colorado

Solo

Before me
the plain stretches outward
begging to be clothed in footsteps
and suddenly my world
is too small to contain my wild …

One day
to be myself
in the mountains.

— Charles Allen
Salem, Oregon

Stories

Stories are just pins
Holding up a dress as big
As this star-strewn sky

(Let’s take it off, look
each other in the eye)

Ellen Marie Metrick
San Miguel County Poet Laureate
Norwood

Monsoon

The show is in town
It’s hard to miss
Black veils drape the stage

Behind the scenes
torrents of compassion
bathe the earth in a wet caress

The curtains part
The performers appear
Arizona Rose Penstemon

Columbine Purple Loco
Aster Paintbrush
Wandbloom

— Eric Smith
Flagstaff



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