Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lost Poems: One Gun

Blossoming Evelyn
Blossoming Evelyn
Pulling teeth out of the gums
and only numbness comes.

Man on trial, history of God,
glory and honor,
are they no longer?

Knuckles are broken
on the shadow puppet stage,
and who do we have to blame,
but rage.

Poem originally written in the spring of 2003.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Foxglove: A Study

0612Foxglove Arrangement Detail 0612Foxglove Arrangement3 0612Foxglove Arrangement

The foxglove is a quintessential cottage flower that grows wild here in the Pacific Northwest.  It is a flower that baffles me.  In studying the language of flowers I am finding most flower dictionaries prescribe the sentiment of 'insincerity' to this handsome flower. Such a hurtful sentiment.  I understand that with the language of flowers not all flowers can have rosy, sweet meanings but how can any flower be 'insincere?'  Let's dive into the history of the foxglove and see what we find.  The language of flowers is a bit subjective so perhaps after the study we will redefine the foxglove. 

Diana Wells' book 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names lists some of the common names for Digitalis as foxglove, fairy-bells, and ladies' thimble.  She suggests 'foxglove' comes from the Old English foxes glofa meaning foxes' glove.  The myth being that foxes wore magical gloves to sneak in to raid the chicken coop. Cunning, shrewd little foxes using the bells of the foxglove as gloves to soften and quiet their attacks but does this make the flower 'insincere?'  'Self-ambition' is an alternative suggestion for the foxglove's symbolism given by Shane Connolly in The Secret Language of Flowers: Rediscovering Traditional Meanings.  I hesitate to accept 'self-ambition' as its meaning because are not the foxes the ones with 'self-ambition' and not the flower itself?

In The Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles picks up the fairy theme by suggesting that the name foxgloves is "a corruption of Folk's-gloves." Folks being the little fairies.  Fairies-petticoats, fairy-caps and fairies-dresses are among the many common names. "If you see a foxglove bending over, it is because the fairies are hiding in the bells."  A story also goes that if you picked a foxglove you would offend the fairy folk. 

Pickles reminds us that there is a darker side to the foxglove.  For years foxglove was used as a herbal tea to treat dropsy but it was well known that foxgloves would kill or cure.  Foxglove is noxious with an overdose causing "nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as sometimes resulting in xanthopsia (jaundiced or yellow vision) and the appearance of blurred outlines (halos), drooling, abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, weakness, collapse, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, and even death."*  One will notice that most animals, aside from the nimble bee, steer well clear of these flowers.  Perhaps this is why other common names for the foxglove are bloody fingers, witches' gloves, and 'dead men's bells.  "To hear them ring forebodes an early death." Here I can understand the sentiment of 'insincerity'.  But there is more to tell of the foxglove's story.

In 1785 a British physician, William Withering, first wrote of the medical uses of foxglove in An Account of the Foxglove.  From this ground breaking research a group of medicines made from the plant's seeds and dried leaves called digitalin were developed to treat heart conditions and are still in use today.  How then can foxglove be claimed as emblematic of 'insincerity' when it has the ability to aid in the healing of heart conditions? 

Fortunately three early floral language dictionaries provide an alternative to 'insincerity.'  Henry Phillips Floral Emblems suggests foxglove be the symbol of  'youth.' In his explanation for youth he says, "The light down which covers the stalks of this plant, induced the poets to make it the emblem of youth."  I like this emblem of youth as I consider myself an amateur poet.  Many of the common names that follow the fairy theme seem to me to carry a youthful outlook.  One may even stretch to say that the medicine that the foxglove provides gives one a return to 'youth.'  This may be a stretch indeed so let's look at the last sentiment of the foxglove.

The French author, Pierre Zaccone writes in Nouveau Langage des Fleurs : avec la nomenclature des sentiments dont chaque fleur est le symbole, et leur emploi pour l'expression des pensées that the foxglove is the symbol of 'travail' meaning 'work.'  My rough translation of his explanation is "Plant is thus named because its flower reminds one of figure sewing, hence the symbol it represents. There are two kinds of foxglove: white foxglove and purple foxglove.  Administered a high dose it becomes soothing narcotic for certain conditions."  The last sentence there makes me feel quite uneasy as we have learned how toxic foxglove is especially at high doses.  Being that it that this was written in 1853 clearly the understanding of foxgloves' noxious nature was not widespread knowledge.  'Travail' or work is an apt sentiment to the foxglove.  We see Wells' common name of ladies thimbles working during sewing, the work of the medicine, digitalin, in heart disease, and finally this study itself certainly was some work.


*See Wikipedia article: Digitalis 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lost Poems: The Yellow School Bus

First Press Birthday Pansies_ Petunia 'Rainmaster' Subtle Pinks Wildfire_


The Yellow School Bus

In elementary school, the big yellow school bus picked us up,
down on a quiet street, next to a big field.
We set our backpacks up in a line and
played in the field while our moms talked until the bus arrived.

In middle school, the yellow school bus picked us up,
it wasn't so big anymore,
just outside our neighborhood along a more trafficked avenue
and we grouped up and talked with our friends.
There weren't any moms anymore.

          One afternoon walking home from the bus stop
          Josh, Yvonne, TJ, and I got in a big water fight
                    in and around Josh's house,
          The girls were winning, Josh grabbed food
                    from the refrigerator in retaliation.
          I ran home with apple juice in my hair.

                    Josh's brother, Luke, hung himself in his garage five years later,
                    with red scratches on his neck from trying to stop the suffocation.
                    They built a wooden porch outside their front door but
                    no one comes to sit there anymore.

In high school, the bus picked kids up,
but it didn't come for me.
I walked alone.


Pansies = thoughts, 'think of me'
Petunias = resentment, anger or 'never despair'
Single Rose = simplicity; 'I still love you'
Tulips = fame and renown
     red... declaration of love
     striped... 'You have beautiful eyes'
     yellow... hopeless love


Poem originally written in the spring of 2003.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Space Between

Beware Beware Detail

Beware of the temptation to seek justice in the witching soul of music.
It feels like standing
at the edge of a precipice,
admiring the view,
in awe of the beauty
that surrounds.
Father Sky.
Mother Earth.
and Me ...
in the space between.
Rhododendron = Beware or Be aware
Crabapple = Temptation
Rudbeckia = Justice
Northern Sea Oats Grass = the witching soul of music
Listening to Dave Matthews Band Everyday album.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lost Poems: Rabbit Hunting

With this ring-6 Storytime An Apple a Day

Rabbit Hunting


up highway 85 to take me to school,
catching a glimpse of Fort Vasquez,
sitting there, clay putty walls, a museum,
sandwiched between highway on either side,
my Papa would point to the hills to the east and tell the tale of

December 7th 1941:

"Me and Donald, who was really more my brother's friend then mine,
were rabbit hunting, which I hardly ever did.
Donald pointed out to a bushy area of the hill,
'I'm gonna get him watch.' I didn't even see a rabbit there.
Donald pointed his gun up to the sky.
I thought he was crazy but he arched his shot

and SMACK,

the little rabbit came tumbling down the hill.
I don't think I hit one rabbit that day.
Coming home that night in his little convertible,
we turned the radio on to listen to some tunes,
but there weren't any on. We flipped though all the stations but, no music,
all they were talking about was the Japaneses and somewhere called

Pearl Harbor."

Poem written in the spring of 2003

Photographs taken on August 5th 2015