Thursday, July 31, 2008
31 joys of July, and we've had summer rain
not lingering too long but waking us up
at dawn mid-month with bowling alley continuous
thunder. Lightning zigging the pale clouds.
Tarah turns 20 this month. 20 years ago
I was in an Apple Valley hospital on my back,
epidural-stung and jellyfish bellied. She was born.
Long afternoons with a new baby and spinal headache
at my parents' house on Corwin Road, she asleep in
a tiny bundle of my arms, the pine trees on the old
ranch house and their needle-lifting singing on those
hot afternoons, the wind blows nicely on the Mojave
on desert summer days. This month, working long hours
on the desert anthology for Heyday, a monsoon-breaking
effort with zillions of changes and last-minute tinkerings.
Back and forth with Gayle at Heyday and Jeff the assistant
in downtown Riverside, mega-copying and fed-expressing
at the Kinko's on Magnolia. July 4th the blah of fireworks,
here in the Ritz Lands, resorts in nearby Indian Wells
(next door and across the street) have displays many times
during the year so it's not a novelty anymore. Two canceled
vacations to the beach, too busy working. Teaching the
Inlandia Writers Workshop at Riverside Library. One drive
to the Santa Rosa Mountains on the old dirt road backside
with Phil, to Dripping Spring, an hour on washboarded in and
out canyon pillaging. A real adventure. Cool and lofty up top.
Saw a nephrologist this month and it was made official, SSRI's
were giving me hyponatremia, a state where the kidneys lose
too much sodium and compensate with water retention. Nice
bike rides, 8, 10 mile clips on eves that aren't too hot this month.
Can only ride after dark in July. We have had a mellow month
temp-wise for Palm Desert, not much over 110, which is a joy.
Still too hot, and my AC was out for three days. Lots of
Hanging Around the Fort. Swimming in the pool, watering
the sunflowers and morning glories and marigolds and mint
in the garden. August will be a time to be off. We're heading north
to the redwoods and eastern Sierras. Adios, another July.
20 years of mid-summer hello's and goodbyes.
She handed me a mirrored butcher knife.
Then came the noon chucks, a fifth of Vodka.
My hair was still wrapped in the French braid
knotted with her strong fingers the day before
while I was teaching my high school English class.
She had removed her long red nails, told me she
Planned to shank her mother in the back that day
so I drove her far into the desert after school.
We hiked a mountain behind an old cattle ranch.
I fingered the splintered cross stuck in rocks,
my initials carved at 14 with my brother's knife.
It had been many years since I'd last been here.
I could still see my parents' house, wondered
how easy it would be for one of us to slip and fall.
At school, she had confided in her journal to me
that she once threw a desk at a mean teacher,
that she'd lived in a crack house South Central LA,
that she'd already had four abortions, many dads.
I wanted to give her a gift-- a bleached coyote skull,
maybe the rattle or papery skin of a dead snake,
a bracelet of rusty barbed wire from the corral,
a memento of the school year we spent together.
Instead, she carved her gang name on the cross,
told me that she wanted to fix hair for the dead.
dedicated to Shivonne from Goodwill HS, Victorville CA
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
not the twin who made them face-backwards,
or into ludicrous stone-hens, you made me Moon,
delight of the people, beautiful sister smiling in her
room, a perfect, orbed syllable. And then, you
violated me, in ways unspeakable, you knew your
heart belonged to Coyote, and he roasted your
skin, the people gathered acorns in the long rows
of oak trees at the base of Tahquitz Peak, silent
in their respect for the thunder, and visioned past
Pedro Chino, great shaman on the deer hunt who
transformed himself into a mountain lion so he
could reach the highest peaks more quickly from
the desert floor, the women sang songs at the oasis,
and they planted trees from the canyon. I know,
I felt the mountain lion stalking me, that late day
I'd climbed San Jacinto Peak, and no one, even you
could see me there, dusk whispering to me, and I
was scared, three miles to go and the trail waning
dark. And so I went away, sad, at your command,
for you knew you could not keep me there, the
lions leave pawprints in the snow, your thumbprints
chokeholded across my neck and spine. You broke
my cheek, and the people can only say that you
were not very nice to me, and so I went away. And
lucky for you, they remembered to pull your black
heart from the fire just before Coyote finished his
rabid feast, and you were saved, saved for them,
you look up at me and see a wan smile, a waxing
candle of light, barely enough to visit you, in my
roundabout way of coming and going, filling the
orbit of your mind in narrow ways, and full, the
sister you made and violated and sent away, slant
through your opaque window where you lie alone
at night, wanting me to fill your your hollow side,
your absent twin, I study you, I am shadow-fill.
copyright Ruth Nolan 2008
Readings - Events - Workshops -
Raves - Summer & Fall, 2008
Ruth Nolan, M.A. is Associate Professor of English
at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, CA. There,
and elsewhere, she teaches and lectures in:
creative writing, poetry, desert literature and
Native American literature, all with a focus on
the California desert regions. She has recently
founded a new desert literary magazine,
Phantom Seed, and is also editing an anthology of
California desert literature to be published by
Heyday Books in 2009 (www.heydaybooks.com)
(in addition to the below listings, stay tuned for updates
and for "desert poetry writing workshops" to be led by
Ruth Nolan this fall, winter and spring at exotic and
unique locations throughout the California desert, including:
The Living Desert Preserve; Bubbling Wells Ranch;
Desert Studies Center at ZZYZX Springs; China Ranch;
Whitewater Preserve; Deep Canyon; and more!)
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Riverside Art Museum
downtown Riverside, CA
Poemeleon - Contributors Reading
7 - 9 p.m. free to the public
(during Riverside Art Walk)
Thursdays, July 31, August 14th, August 28th
Riverside Library - Inlandia Writers Workshop!
6:30-8:30 p.m, free and open to all writers.
Workshops will culminate in regional writing project.
Come and join us! Only three weeks left!
Workshop leader: Ruth Nolan
Tuesday, August 25
Blankety Blank Poetry Workshop
Riverside Art Museum
6-8 pm, free and open to all poets
Workshop leader: Ruth Nolan
this month's focus: poetry cartooning - visual poetry
(we meet on the 4th Tuesday of each month)
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Chaffey Art Museum - Poetry & the WWII Art of Milford Zornes
Time and more information TBA (check back!)
Sunday, August 24, 2008, 2:00 p.m.
Performance Reading and Book Signing
Above the Tree Line:
The 2008 Anthology of Southern California Haiku Study Group,
featuring haiku and haibun from 30 southern California haiku poets.
Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA
2:00 p.m. - for more information:
September 2 - December 9, 2008
Creative Writing class - open to the public
Tuesday evenings, 6:50-9:55 p.m.
College of the Desert, Palm Desert, CA
writers from the community as well as traditional students
are welcome to take the class for credit (3.0 units) or audit.
Writers will be encouraged to develop original works in the
areas of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction with a focus
on the local desert region; class will culminate in a reading
at Barnes and Noble, Palm Desert, December 5th, 2008.
for more information contact Ruth Nolan, instructor,
at email@example.com (760) 964-9767
visit College of the Desert/admissions at
September 10, 2008 7-9 p.m.
Reading and chapbook release of the collection
Slouching Towards Mt. Rubidoux Manor
featuring Inland Empire Writers' poetry, fiction, and essays
from the Summer, 2008 Inlandia Center-Riverside Library
Riverside Library, 6:30-8:30
free and open to the public
September 28, 2008
Claremont Public Library, 2 pm
Featured Poets: Ruth Nolan + Lisa Ann LoBasso
Trap Door Monthly
Poetry Reading Series: 2008-09 Season
Palm Springs Art and Wine
begins October, 2008 - your hosts - Ruth and Steve
more information: dates, times and poets TBA soon!
October 2-4, 2008
October 27, 2008
Phantom Seed Release - Issue #2
Palm Springs Library 6:30 p.m.
November 1 & 2, 2008
California Desert Indian Literature:
Indigenous People of the Mojave Desert
Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park
lecture-workshop taught by Ruth Nolan
includes hike and lecture
more information coming soon!
December 5, 2008
Barnes and Noble, Palm Desert
College of the Desert creative writers - reading
of original works, 6:00 p.m., free and open to public
December 13, 2008
Desert Literature - Lecture and Slide Show
The Living Desert University, Palm Desert, CA
Ruth Nolan, lecturer/photographer
Ruth Nolan, M.A., is a native of the Mojave Desert circa Apple Valley and Associate Professor of English College of the Desert near Palm Springs, CA. She is also a poet, writer, and book editor/publisher. For two summer seasons, 1986-87, she worked for the BLM as a helicopter hotshot and engine crew firefighter in the California Desert District, and has extensively hiked, traveled, and embraced the essence of her desert homeland. Her poetry collections include: Negotiating With Testosterone (1995, Northern Arizona University;) Wild Wash Road (1996) and Dry Waterfall (2008) (both by Petroglyph Books.) Her poems have recently appeared in Pacific Review, Mosaic, Poemeleon, San Gabriel Valley Quarterly, Fishtrap Anthology 2007, San Diego Poetry Annual 2007, Genie, Haiku Journal Summer 2008, and Inlandia: A Literary Journey through Southern California's Inland Empire (Heyday Books, 2006.) Ruth is also editing an anthology of California desert literature for Heyday Books, to be published in 2009. She is advisor and editor of the new California desert literary magazine, Phantom Seed. She has not yet been nominated for a Pushcart, she has not yet won a major literary award or had a chapbook published – somethin’ to do with spending too many years running around the deserts and southwestern rivers hiking, canoeing, camping, fighting forest fires, having her beautiful, in-killer-shape-ass photographed for future porn exhibits in the cum-Internet era, and morphing into one mythopoetic oneness with nature....and of course in the latter years, being busy teaching full-time at the sweatshop (at the advice of a real, old-time Freudian therapist - cigar, Rorschak, the whole deal - leaning back in his smoke cloud in his dark-wood-paneled office that turning point of a day almost 10 years ago: you have a choice: do you want to join the society of life, of writers, and take your turn in the pecking order of the publishing and po-hustler, networking, alliance-building, 'I've got your back, you've got mine, doesn't matter we don't have English degrees or master's in serious literature of the world not to mention, haven't read much but contempo-rary po-etry, shades of John Ashbery, however you want to catagalize it, go lick a tree and inside out on your carve, the smooth morning of sycophants, twerping the dweeb, oh how I wanna be' - MFA's only cost $40k or so but it's well worth it, marry that judge or bankruptcy lawyer, just think you'll never have to teach inner city high school English or - sigh- well, you're obviously taking the hardest route possible thinking you have somethin' to prove to this tough mutha-fucka universe and bust some caps out there as a single woman with a small child, go out and save those Compton kids from their alternative high school hell, maybe one less in the CYA, maybe one less parent shot in their sleep, maybe one more girl who grows up without slitting her arms to spaghetti - so you'll just hafta go work with the masses of the poor to cover your coke habit! - and take that nice English teaching job they're offering you at the sweatshop of all muthas, the underpaid community college system, College of the Desert - OR, A BONE RATTLER'S FATE: be a poet starving on a rock?) All you hafta do, with your Master's Degree in English Rhetoric, Composition,and Literature, with an emphasis in Creative Writing, is read piles of English 50 essays, spend only 10 hours per week on top of nurturing students in the fine art of sentence-writing and proper semi-colon usage and subject-verb agreement, and then back to your fine art of juggling single mom-hood: that’s what happens when yr Lakota Indian ex ends up spending your child’s formative years in and out of prison for various offenses, such as murder, drug trafficking, domestic violence, and so forth, but I hear that he’s on parole (again, again) and doing pretty well with his new Lakota Indian girlfriend, detailing cars and not drinking – well hey, it’s lucky that this Ruth Nolan-hole, as my cantankerous 20-year-old calls me, has time to write a fuckin’ poem - She is twice a Vermont Studio Residency Recipient and is a longtime student and friend of the famous, Claremont-Tufts award-winning poet, Pete Fairchild (good friend, great poet- you go, Pete, now let's go fishing at Deep Creek! Just saw him the other day and he shook his head, and said, "Ruth, write fiction." I swear all I did was look at him.) Oh yeah – I’m thinking of the punk rock group “X”: “Who’ll bring the Flag?” One of those nice figurative language mind leaps that somehow got me singing “Los Angeles” from “Under the Big Black Sun.” I remember how I got sorta beat up at that show in Reseda at the Country Club, circa 1981 or something, when I was too naïve to know what slam-dancing was. Wow, how this poetry marketplace has shown me otherwise – hold onto my overalls suspender! Exene, you were right!
Monday, July 28, 2008
| Dick Barnes - a great poet, great Mojave Desert poet - this poem is reprinted with permission from Dick Barnes' widow, Pat Barnes. Look for desert poems of Dick Barnes (who was an English professor, translator of the poetry of Argentine poet Borges- with Robert Metzer) to be published in the Sept 21 (fall equinox) issue of Phantom Seed. The following poem will also be published in an anthology of desert literature, forthcoming from Heyday Books, 2009. Thank you to Pat Barnes and the equally-amazing poet and professor emeritus, Pomona College, Robert Metzer. See also the link to the critical essay written by Metzer, about Barnes, and the genius of Barnes' poetry|
link to Robert Metzer's discussion/critique of Barnes' poetry.
Baghdad Chase Road in July
Within the immense circle of the horizon
only the two of us on two legs
that don’t have feathers on. Hello,
horned lark. Hello, loggerhead shrike.
Hello, dove-size bird with black fan-tail
fluttering along the ground, a jackrabbit
would jump as high. And for the vast
absence of our own species,
thanks, thanks, thanks. Not that you
didn’t dig the mines and make this road
we’re on; but it’s your absence
today that earns my gratitude. Thanks too
for the monument and bronze tablet
to mark where Ragtown was, and the railroad
going down to Ludlow, so I can rejoice
they’ve already disappeared
with hardly a trace. Thank you sky
for speaking only after lightning. Hello, jackrabbit,
hello groundsquirrel, good luck raven,
I never saw you hover like that.
Thank you, rain, for flavoring our jaunt
with a hint of danger, and for the splashy mist
when you lashed the desert hills to show
what you can do when you mean business.
Thank you, other twolegged bare featherless
for sharing the jagged horizon of my life.
Thank you rainbow over the East Mojave
low to the ground so early in the afternoon:
thank you for being here with us.
c. Dick Barnes, reprinted with permission from Pat Barnes. Thank you!
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned –
from "The Second Coming," W.B. Yeats
Women have more receptors for the feel-good synapses
In their brains than men, and fewer electrical impulses
per day to feed their hearts. Blue frogs underground,
dry and wise beneath the Spa Casino Hot Springs
downtown, your palm-lined canyon, bisecting the heart,
twin all-terrain vehicles neatly trailing inward towards
the celebrated oasis. If I had known you then, pillared
on our backs in damp sand, January, the blushing sun
perfect in its not too long shining, the moon cresting
its shy face from exile, when the god Mukat created
our bodies and leapfrogged across her wan back she
sighed, trailing heat in her waves, the way jet skis
singe the deep
narrow trickle from your heart, you seep in small starts,
not full-lipped assault, deserting me deep in the warm
water, the canyon is summer, the Mojave Indians say
That the octopus would drag the possessed ones away,
From the cliffs, and out to sea, my brain is a tired organ,
Landlocked and merging towards sea, dams block us all.
c. Ruth Nolan 2008
inspired by an anguished love relationship and a visit to the Agua Caliente Hot Springs, healing center for the Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs, CA, and learning of the nukatem, power beings who reside between the human and spiritual worlds, and the legend of the Blue Frog, and of course the visionary Irish poet , Yeats, whose poem "The Second Coming" is the most right-on piece of writing forecasting and postulating our times...written almost 100 years ago. A real prophet. And yet, beauty finds us all....on the sharp edge of the cliff, in the swirl of tail-lights in the slow moving night sky, stars in you brow and a low slung Milky Way, two pools of water and the White Deer cometh for salt, your smiling ledge, quiet as morning quail and the napping morning glories, narrowing in on the dawn, flooded avenue, wings of your arms.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
My beautiful, amazing, talented, brilliant daughter, Tarah Jolene, turns 20! Off to the beach and Knott's Berry Farm this weekend with her boyfriend Alex to celebrate.....she and I will have nice mom and daughter dinner tomorrow eve, on her birthday proper! Tarah is a student at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA and is working this summer for a doctor's office in Rancho Mirage. She recently got a new (used) car, a 1991 Lexus. I remember that summer night, 20 years ago, when she was born...in Apple Valley, California.....a little purple baby soon turned human! Can I really be old enough to have an offspring who exits her TEEN YEARS tomorrow? How shocked was I when she stumbled INTO them? Eee-Gads!
My wonderful, intelligent and sweet nephew, Mikhael, turns 12! He is a student at the prestigious Lewis Academy in Apple Valley, which specializes in such amazing science projects as the Goldstone Deep Space Tracking center in the Mojave Desert and the restoration, at the adjacent Mojave River, of the nearly-extinct and ancient Mojave chub fish. Mikhael got a guitar today for the game, Guitar Hero, and enjoyed pizza with his parents, Jim and Sandra, and his little brother "James Dean," who just turned 8 on July 3rd, who I call "Beak" (it's an inside joke between us. Fun to spar with boys, being the mom of a daughter!)
Also on July 27th.....a fruitful day for family birthdays!
Amber Bruce, awesome daughter of my cousin Brian, who lives in Florida, turns 20 - yes, she was born just one day before Tarah! Shout out to you, Amber!
Logan Pinkerton, wonderful son of my cousin Robert, who lives in Hemet, California. He is turning 16. Shout out and happy day!
I can hardly believe this younger generation is growing up so fast. It seems just last week they were all little kids....the realization making life feel much more sacred and precious, temporal and to-be-savored, step by step and then, when they start running...
Tears in eyes and joyfulness. I love all of you.
College of the Desert will offer a once-weekly, evening creative writing class, open to beginning and advanced writers, as well as traditional and non-traditional students, on Tuesday evenings from 6:50-9:55 pm during the Fall, 2008 semester at the Palm Desert campus. The class will begin on September 2, 2008.
The class will be taught in a workshop format by Ruth Nolan, M.A., Associate Professor of English and advisor to the COD Solstice literary and visual arts magazine, viewable at www.solsticemagazine.org The class, which is offered concurrently as Eng 5A-5B (beginning and advanced creative writing,) may be taken for credit (3 units) or audited for non-credit, and is open to the writing community at large.
According to Nolan, who is also an active poet, author, anthology editor, and founder/editor of a the new, desert-based literary magazine, Phantom Seed, "This course is ideal for local writers in our community, regularly-enrolled students, and all others who would like to participate in a supportive writing workshop meeting just one night per week for a three-hour session."
Nolan emphasizes that all writers, beginning or advanced, are welcome to take the course, including those who are undergraduate students at COD or elsewhere; have already graduated from college, here or elsewhere; and those who wish to take only a creative writing class and aren't enrolled in a degree-seeking program or other courses at COD.
In this course, the techniques of developing writing skills in fiction, poetry, and drama/screenplay will be explored, and students will be encouraged to develop themes in their writing that resonate with the local desert environment and region.
Nolan is teaching a highly-successful and popular creative writing workshop at the Riverside Library this summer, in conjunction with the newly-formed Inlandia Institute (sponsored by Heyday Books,) in which participants are generating regional writing; she plans to use similar strategies to help writers in the COD course use the rich fabric of the local area as a building block in their own writing.
Students will also learn about local writers communities and events; publishing opportunities; and transfer opportunities for creative writers to the CSUSB and UCR-Palm Desert undergraduate and M.F.A. programs, which include four-year degree programs with a creative writing emphasis, and traditional and low-residency M.F.A. programs that are accessible to local residents.
For more information, and to register, contact the College of the Desert admissions office at (760) 356-8041 or http://www. collegeofthedesert. edu Ruth Nolan can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, July 25, 2008
River of Lost Martyrs
I'd not gone to confession for years
lost to St. Catherine's in Rialto as I am
until the summer my garden died, last June,
I carved initials - not mine, someone else's-
into the rocks that cradle the iron cross
at the top of bald-faced Mt. Rubidoux
I was hoping to see a leg of homeless man,
or maybe the fingers of a despondent
Cahuilla Indian, out of tamarisk, cottonwood
in the fire singed Santa Ana River bottom,
the reeds no longer available for weaving
baskets, for cooking, for gentled tending,
the soft ebb of tide shelter, drawing
my song, your voice towards the Pacific -
I would only know your dreams,
about this toxic river, buried as it is now
by freeway overpasses and light searches
from the irritating helicopters: no help
on the way, only drug smuggler arrests:
the marijuana no longer arches freely
in purple procession, flowered music
towards the Arrowhead in the sky
mountain, our only knife tip guide -
this summer, the garden in my desert
backyard is green, the just-planted
lavendar and marigolds busting
from their wire grooming, sunflowers
dangling fat, heavy heads
over the neighbor's wall, and she
is never home, to see the ants
pick their faces apart while the river
rides toxic dumps, the lost handhold, the
forgotten opera, swinging Jesus feet
dangling in wind, old crucifix on the head
of your dry town center hill, where
the Spaniards had their jeweled fill of
vast land tracts, not yet tilled under
by the plowing of my heart, your hands
June is fat this year and the Virgin Mary
I once loved and knew is still painted blue
copyright 2008 Ruth Nolan
A Literary Magazine of and about the Heart of the California Desert
Now accepting submissions in all genres: poetry, fiction, essays, articles, interviews....for issue #3 to be published March 21 (spring 2009 equinox.) Please submit work that reflects the essence of the desert: particularly, but not limited to the California desert region.
We especially like writing that transcends the everyday with mystique desert visions induced in such activities as UFO sighting; speaking up and taking a brave stand against the corpo-terrors of proposed windmill and solar panel farms, mega-watt voltage lines (as if we need more - the desert is already maligned with them,) and toxic and urban landfills that threaten some of the last sacredness and spiritual purity of what is left in California's southeasternmost wedge; the alt-magic occurring in the vibrations of middle of nowhere raves, in the loneliness of a desert refugee, in the bravery of the art of disappearing into the desert...most of all: what can you tell us without telling? What shadows comprise the heart of your "desert" love and "experiences" and "spiritual renewal" or "country-club-loving, Mojave and Western Colorado/Sonoran Desert sunrise magic?"
That is what we are looking for, here at "The Seed." What you can write about by not-telling, not selling-out, not-telling people when you find an amazing hot springs on a gun-shooting outing with an ex-Army ranger who later becomes your boyfriend; when you find sleeping circles in a place far off any map; when you actually live in some crude, ramshackle old homesteader's shack lacking plumbing and floorboards, in a remote area where old hippies sip peyote tea 24/7 and long-subdued members of the Manson family stop by with bags of oranges en route to cultivating their small marijuana crops in little canyons spilling from the coastal mountain ranges, whose locales I shall never name, when you live sans A/C in your house or car and just take naps in the hot part of the day....
So, to all you new "desert lovers" - more advice on your Phantom Seed submissions from this "indigenous-gangsta" desert girl who grew up hiking places like Rattlesnake Canyon and chillin' at Cock Rock, watering a lone juniper out near the Lucerne Valley cutoff (dirt road 20 miles from "town,) with her little baby in a backpack; working the fire crews to protect immensely imaginative crags of brittle mountain near Slash X Ranch - back when the desert wasn't yet "in vogue," wasn't yet picture smeared (think: "the Joshua Tree album by U2) across album covers, mass produced in advertising campaigns and trashed during major film-making (which, to be honest, began way back in the 20's with silent movies and, epitomically, Cecile B. De Mille's "Old Testatement" movie, even before my time, though we all believed it was Israel....).....and now, with the Internet.....way too easy to figure it all out! So, that's what WE WOULD LOVE FOR YOUR WRITING to be about, for the Seed: bring on your best work and get real about writing the landscape you think you wanna love (woo your supposed crush) and call your own.
Do it well: with top-notch writing and select words that an only come from the random desert experiences such as hugging creosotes after the rare rain, doing something bad like burying a few obsidian arrowheads so that the obvious petroglyph-thieves in a sadly neglected BLM archaological site don't get ahold of those, too...getting stuck 40 miles off-road near some unmapped volcanic plug far, far from Barstow on a cold February day and....walking that 40 miles when the distributor cap on your '72 Toyota dies out and flagging down some guy close to midnight on the closest entrance to the I-40 who wants to take you to a cheap Hinkley hotel (sorry, can't go there)....help clean up myriad meth-lab remains while on fire patrol in places NOT protected by the loving little wedge of the ever-precious and immensely "cell phone safe" designer Joshua Tree Park and surrounding hamlets of trendy, Sedona-in-the-making Joshua Tree, 29 Palms, Yucca. Well, it could all go in 2012, or if firearms are once allowed, loaded and concealed, in the Park, or if the smog gets too bad, or the rock climbers go on strike but....it's pretty good for now, albeit all the darknesses on the fringe...
I challenge you. Be real. Write about what you are really doing, seeing, thinking out here. If you are manifesting the California desert to fulfill your inner search dreams, you aren't the first. Others have come to mine its gold, seek its austere God-gaze - nothing quite like it to set your spirits right and wash your urban sins away. If you are here to make a buck, yada yoo ha. Write about it! If you're manufacturing, perhaps use a peusdonym, but we want your story! If you want to come clean about shotgunning a covey of raven, this is the place to do it. Did you drive your car today, say, from Palm Springs to Victorville, to shop up there at Home Depot for the best deal on your new "energy saving" solar panel that you'll install in the Morongo cabin? Write about it! If you are involved in desert activism, i.e., "Stop the proposed ower lines across Anza Borrego," or "Green Path....Isn't," or if you were at the Pappy & Harriet's music fest fundraiser to stop Eagle Mountain Dump, good for you - treat yourself by seeing swanky NYC-snooty art exhibits at the Palm Springs Museum (well, we used to have a desert exhibit, but with all the mid-century architecture here, ahem, that doesn't suit our needs, we need "real" art for "educated" people).....but above all, remember that "the desert is OK - you are OK. It will be here long after the human sillinesses rise and fade. There is a silver lining, after all, to life in the land of the enduring and brutal sun.....and stories galore that need to be written to make it all the much richer....
Take the bold approach. Pretend that the desert is ALL that you have, that manifest destiny did NOT bring you here, that this is everything, no going back, there is no Jersey shore or Michigan lake-safety, and all you have left in your tiny human-ness measured meekly against this austere and centuries-old homeland of the timbisha shoshonee, chemehuevi, cahuilla, kumeyaay, serrano, halchidon, paiute, mojave, and many other indigenous peoples who were smart enough to learn to live at one with the land (that is, with utmost respect for the powers that be in those volcanoes and in those sandy wastelands, knowing the waterholes and not giving 'em away for golf) long before the desert was a fashion statement, a blank screen for Hollywood, proving grounds for the US military and Ford Corp and Nuclear Warheads, United, and lately, the giant maw of the Enron-inspired, desert-whoring energy-corps, old-school president style (yeah, it's almost over! Just a few more weeks.)
From Your Editor
HOW TO SUBMIT
Email submissions preferred: include your name, contact information (email, phone, address) on each and every page of your submission. Please submit as attached document or copied/pasted into the body of your email. Subject line: Submission - Phantom Seed. Submit to:
email@example.com OR land address: Ruth Nolan/76530 California DR, Palm Desert, CA 92211. We regret that submissions cannot be returned. EMAIL SUBMISSIONS ARE PREFERRED. Thanks.
Phantom Seed, Issue #1 available for $5 per copy; Issue #2 (Sept 21 issue) also available. Contact editor at above email. Upcoming issues soon to be available at venues throughout the California desert., including Borders, Barnes and Noble and amazon.com
Phantom Seed Issue #2 has been a PHENOMENAL hit! Please submit your work and partake of this amazing and successful desert literary venture. We had full-house readings October 4th at the Riverside, CA library and on Oct 27 at the Palm Springs, CA library. Thanks to EVERYONE who contributed their wonderful works!
Next Phantom Seed Reading: Pasadena Library, Catalina Branch - hosted by Don Kingfisher Campbell. Saturday, January 31. We will have another reading at the Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa this winter and at California State University, San Bernardino. Check my blog again in early to mid-January for more information.
Editor: Ruth Nolan, M.A., College of the Desert professor, anthology and book editor/publisher, and author of: Negotiating With Testosterone (1995, Northern Arizona University;) Wild Wash Road (1996) and Dry Waterfall (2008) (Petroglyph Books.) From age 13 on, after exile from southern California's "Inland Empire," Ruth grew up in the Mojave Desert, worked for the BLM as a helicopter hotshot and engine crew firefighter in the California Desert District, and has extensively hiked, traveled, and embraced the essence of her desert homeland. (hey, it's better than San Bernardino.)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
You've come so we can have sex tonight. But first,
I show you my Saguaro cactus walking stick, hidden
in the corner near my bed, I ensure the dog won’t chew
the thumbhold I’ve worn into its tip during solo hikes
in deserts, there are stories about this pole to tell you,
impatient, wanting to kiss me, tongue the lay of my
body's geography, sand my skin with your wirey beard.
And first, the story of the Saguaro cactus, pointing its
prayer-barbed arms to the sky uniformly, solid but not,
they are thick with center, crowned occasionally in canopies
of white-flowered heads soaked in the June downpour, owls
nestled in their hollowed out core while the rain is absorbed.
Some years ago, on a morning walk on the non-California side
of Boulder Dam, I mined a vein of arm from one fallen tree,
half as thick as my wrist, amazing sponge, fat as Lake Mead.
I lovingly sanded it down to its finest grain, soaked it
repeatedly on advice of a male friend wise in such things,
with oil of linseed, let it dry completely out. He told me
I’d have a walking stick, a perfect, balancing companion.
With the thick of your carpenter’s palm pressing into my hand,
rough and eager, you reach into me as sudden as a quick rain,
with your electrified saguaro arm heavy and thick, not yet
exposing me to the tangles and barbs and odd birds of your skin,
expansive, but not quite full at the core, preparing for drought.
July 24, 2008
copyright - Ruth Nolan