Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Gust front "shelf cloud" (or "arcus") on the leading edge of a derecho storm.

So by now some of you (the brave, the few), may have noticed that - after a very long spell of posts few and far between - I've been posting every day for over a week.  It's been quite a streak.  I broke it last night, though, sitting at my computer with this poem and unable to see it clearly enough to let it be born just yet.  The reason was fairly simple: I'd waited too long, waited till the end of the day.  I have been taking one hour every morning right after waking to do these blogs; yesterday morning, I spent that time grading papers that HAD to go back to students.  Good idea for Professor Miranda; bad idea for Professor Muse.  

This morning, things look better.  The revision energy I needed has willingly gotten up early with me.  And oh well, that's what streaks are for, right? 

What I am trying to do is also break through a writing drought.  I rarely have writing droughts; my problem has always been how to contain the flood.  But it's been a rough year, a rough couple of years, all the way around.  My creative energies have gone into solving massive problems, creative financing for a relative in distress, moving house, teaching hard, the continued push to get Bad Indians into university classrooms, and the physical challenges of being a 52 year old human being.  I tell myself, it's not that I'm not being creative; it's that I'm not being creative ON THE PAGE.  

So I am taking back my creativity, crumb by crumb.  I've been using this blog as a challenge to my writing self, and as a place to mark just one small triumph every day: today I wrote something worth keeping.  


Some Years

-       with thanks to Adam Zagajewski

It is the year
April bursts into flame:
30,000 acres
of mature oak and pine forest
burn down to ash.  
Fires with names
like Rich Hole, Alleghany Tunnels,
Barbours Creek, Shipwreck and Wolf Gap
turn a valley into a crematorium.
The air isn't fit for breathing,
cinders scratch eyeballs, lungs
ache and heave.  The bodies of trees
cry down on the earth,
there's no stopping this massacre
and the sky has been abducted
by aliens.

It is the year
May’s trees scream
in chorus: 17 year cicadas
emerge out of round holes
in the earth, shed clumsy skins,
find love in the trees.
Males ratchet up, belt out
lust like banshees.
Afterwards their golden bodies
fall to earth in great glorious waves,
dead red eyes staring.  Females
slit open branches like wrists,
lap up the sap, lay down their eggs,
disappear –
Magicicada septendecim –
leave behind the brown flags
of death.

It is the year
of the derecho:
June air turns into a brick wall,
crashes down like God’s fist.
Trees bend and crack,
trunks shatter like glass
or else lay their crowns down,
kiss the ground, clutch boulders
that rip out anyway –
leave behind craters of open earth,
oaks stretched out on the ground
like beached whales
no longer living in two worlds,
but pulled wholly into air.
Old roots thick as fire hoses
gasp at the sky.

Some years burn you up.
Some years suck you dry.
Some years rip out your heart
and dance on it.  Hang on.  In these years,
you must think like a phoenix. 
Regenerate like a starfish.
Teach your heart it must grow legs,
walk out into the mutilated world.

            - Deborah A. Miranda

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