Rocky – A Ceremony

Rocky (A Ceremony)

A Black vest over a long winter coat,
Flannel shirt with cut off army pants,
Hiking boots, no socks.
Shoulder long wavy blonde hair
Hiding wide and cloudy green eyes.

It was the middle of summer.
He walked with a heavy stride
Through milling crowds carrying
briefcases and shopping bags.
He noticed every glare, the stares
Of eyes passing by on the downtown
Stage-set streets of Boulder.

Rocky had grown used to the divisions.
He had tried a long time ago to merge
With people, to walk down a street
To sit in a bar, to talk with smiles,
Nods and winks.  It would last
A day, a week, but always the pin prick holes
In the sky would blow wide open.

In mumbled chants he would tell me
Of spirits in the city that move a person
Toward danger to teach them freedom.
He spoke of God and pain. How each life
Has many symbols but only one ceremony.

I had heard of his exposures, of his
Ceremony in the streets but there
Was nothing all summer long, through fall.
In winter there were quiet walks
Like prayer through white streets,
His voice became more private,
Closer to silence. I looked away
For a moment, an ordinary
Glance at something in the snow.

Looking up – His coat was off, vest off –
I picked them up Out of the snow.
I followed him – shirt pulled over
His head as he walked, boots
Stepped out of, cut off army pants
Dropped, walked out of.  I picked up
The shirt, the boots, the pants,
He kept walking, his bare skin
Goose bumbed and stark
Against the snow.

Each step raged with divine force
Carrying him forward, and forward
And forward until he stopped – hard.
His face abstracted and white, mouth
Stretched open over his chin, eyes
Rolled up, shooting into the grey sky.
His arms pushed up around
The tortured face, bent at the elbows,
Fists open – a body opening
Up as if burning  flesh away
Revealing within – the angel
And a fierce soul struggling
And twisted together.

The silence cracked the air.
Everything was silent.

New Poem: Dreams at the Source

Dreams at the Source

I saw the hand glowing
Purple on its edges,
The delicate triangle
Of the palm revealed
The color of the sun
As it hangs just above
The horizon.

Gold coins,
Tiny Jupiters,
Polished red apples.
Cherries hanging
From thick black chains,
Above jewel encrusted vases.

Ice shards crack underwater.
Under these frozen swells
Creatures the color of pomegranates
Open yawning mouths, in some places
Too dark to see. This is the only Flower
That blooms at night,  in this place.

Feathers glued to the skin
Of the man’s arms and legs.
He puts on a long blue mask
Decorated with green paint
And teeth. He puts on his sheepskins
Dyed In deep crimson
And dances in front  of the mirror,
Chants and feels all the hands
Raised above heads waving
Ecstatic in their rhythms.

In the room she held her doll tightly.
Small colored worlds floated
around her, each with its own
word written on it. One floated
close then lingered  in front
of her wide eyes. She was not afraid.

Another sphere drift past
And inside she saw a spiral
And in front of the spiral a boy
Holding a yellow light in his arms.


Stair by stair, he ran
up the spiraling stairs
Towering into the clouds
With hints of blue and gray.
Below him children sat in circles
Comparing their bug collections.
Above his head a jet soared by.
Above his shoulder, the moon.


New Poem: Candle at 4am

Candle at 4am

I lit a candle at 4am.
It was an awkward flame,
Trying hard to glow
But the sleepless air
Pressed heavy against
The Light – a tiny egg
Of pale yellow and white
Without even a flicker
Or a flinch.

It could not quite burn
Through the layers
of Stillness. The strangeness
Of the hour bore down
On its brave light,
Forcing it into
a  Slight curl of smoke.

Salt – A New Poem

A new poem from the workshop I am in right now. One of the books we are using a book called In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poets Portable Workshop by Steve Kowit. I have found it really useful for accessing forms of poetry that one might not be used to writing about. In this case, it is a memory from childhood. I have never written about memories so it is new for me, and quite rewarding once it was shaped into a poem.


Long dunes slide into crags where the water’s beat
Wears deep grooves between sand and rock.
The air salty cool and grey. I can hear laughing
Over by the big rocks. Far ahead my brother
And sister jump through caves that look
With hungry, cracking eyes and pointy teeth.

I never could keep up with them, though I tried
With everything I had. My legs would not move
As fast or jump as far. But I was almost there.
A few more rocks, one more jump and I could
Play with them and they would smile at me.
I did not even look down.

I reached hard, stretched my legs hard to find
The ground but it was gone.  All I could taste was
Spinning salt. Rough bites of rock clawed at my
Little arms and legs. Fists clenched sand and water

A warm, huge hand found me, a limp, wet doll.
I was pulled up and out of the churning water,
Softly sprawled onto hard rocks. My father
Slapped my back with soft, hard thumps.
I coughed out the sea. Everything was salt
And so cold. He stripped me of my wet clothes,
His giant green windbreaker swallowed me
With comfort and warmth. I heard them playing
Still and I started forward again
To the only place I ever wanted to be,
Wherever they were, my big brother and sister.

“You are too small for those rocks.  Here take my hand
And walk with me. I will walk with you.” I looked way up
At my Father’s careful eyes looking down into my tears,
Little fingers wrapped around one of his.
The wind whistled through the crags.
He found a tide pool with a starfish.
The distant laughter slowly faded,
Fading like a longing fades when you first learn
That there are places not meant for you.

Sandra Walton 2013

This gave me hope

I am back in school and hammering myself with technique so I can become a better artist. I am really good at some things, and other things are so hard for me. I am having a great time but I find myself comparing myself to more experienced professional artists who have amazing technique that seems lifetimes away from what I may ever accomplish. This quote gave me a ton of hope in the struggle for technique vs. innate creativity.

“You cannot reconcile creativity with technical achievement. You may be perfect in playing the piano, and not be creative. You may be able to handle color, to put paint on canvas most cleverly, and not be a creative painter…having lost the song, we pursue the singer. We learn from the singer the technique of song, but there is no song; and I say the song is essential, the joy of singing is essential. When the joy is there, the technique can be built up from nothing; you will invent your own technique, you won’t have to study elocution or style. When you have, you see, and the very seeing of beauty is an art.” ― Jiddu Krishnamurti


Quote of the day:

“You must not fear, hold back, or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into creating. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” Anais Nin



I am starting school again after 15 years away. One of the classes I am taking is a drawing class. I have been painting and drawing for years but I feel rusty and it is always, always important to keep your ‘chops’ up – to feel at ease in the fundamentals. That being said, I know I will make tons of bad drawings and mistakes in the next few months. I came across a great quote by Neil Gaiman regarding mistakes today. This can be applied to art and to life.

“Be proud of your mistakes. Well, proud may not be exactly the right word, but respect them, treasure them, be kind to them, learn from them. And, more than that, and more important than that, make them. Make mistakes. Make great mistakes, make wonderful mistakes, make glorious mistakes. Better to make a hundred mistakes than to stare at a blank piece of paper too scared to do anything wrong..”

Poem completed today – Haunting

A poem I just completed today. I love the process of revision, the feeling you get when you fine tune the sounds, punctuation, the spacings. I especially find it amazing when you edit out a big chunk of what you thought was so precious and realize it was actually holding the poem back. This poem went through many revisions. It is quite hard to not find yourself in cliche when writing about the supernatural. Not quite in time for Halloween but you know, you can’t push the river…


Under the strange glow
Of the winter sky
At night, it haunts me,
Gray shadow, the silence.
And high above I feel
It’s weight bear down
Upon my sleeping eyes
Tearing the sleep into pieces.
I sleep the dream to awake
And know that you are here

In the stillness of that time
When thought forgets
Limits. A simple glimpse
To the corner of my room,
In the corner of my eye
An ocean and a sigh
Passing through one moment
Of vague eternity.

You are an angel, a friend
Long past, the thin, fragile
Woman who died here,
Who I only met once.
You are buried here,
Under a strong cedar
That no longer stands.
Your grave has been
Covered by concrete
And memory has pulled you
Back to this place. Your
Memory. My memories.

By aim or by chance,
Your resolve pushes me
Out of my sleep, freezes me
To stare, waiting for you
To tell me anything but
There is no language.

If I were to find
Just the right tone
Of a certain bell
And ring it,
Or speak some word
By chance, could you
Then find your way
Through the restless air,
Opaque layers of what
I do not understand –
Would I hear who
Or what or why?

©2012 Sandra E. Walton

Anchorage – A poem

I was born in Anchorage Alaska and moved back there in my mid twenties for a while. I will never forget late Autumn in Anchorage and the walks I would take around the inlet and down the long park strip. I think this poem captures the awe and serenity of those walks. I just finished it today, been working on it for a while. When I started it it was around two pages of free writing then over time I shaped and trimmed, added and removed. In the last few days I have completed revisions of three other poems I will be posting over the next week! Revision is just that – re-visioning – going back to the original vision and telling it again until you have all that you want to capture and nothing that detracts from the flow. The process borders on alchemical for me. The creation (and completion) of a poem is an amazement to me always.

Comments are most welcome. I always deeply consider the thoughts of my readers.


The night dark sky
Falls early. 4pm
Like midnight,
Snow glares white
Against the black
Silhouettes of the pines.

Wisps of smoke
String from houses
In unnatural silence.
Street lamps glow
Amber pink
As ice fog
Smooths in
Covering every branch,
Twig and pole,
My coat, my hood,
My gloves,
My breath,
My Sight and smell.
The opaque air soft
As I walk through
The dull glow
Of the lamps.

I walk through
A city where
No city should be.
Ocean closing fast
The south, hard waters
Frozen and asleep
Drifting slowly above
Deep currents, melting
Into long shores
Of gray mud flats.

An eternal North
Where the Chugach
Meets the shores with
Huge solemn glances,
Towering over this
Small scatter of buildings,
Houses and roads forced
Between frozen water
And frozen rock.

©2012 Sandra E. Walton

Me at Portage Glacier!

Atlantis Award for Poetry

I submitted six poems to the Atlantis Award from the Poets Billow. I should hear something (or not) by the end of November. It is such an important thing for a writer to just submit their work. It affirms that you are serious about wanting others to share in your work and that you are courageous enough to try. It’s good to find what journals fit your work, but once have follow through and submit your work. It really is important!

If you want to see the poems I submitted here they are. A few are revised from poems on the site.

A Case for Hope
Equal Moments
Lamentation (In memory of my Father)
Forsaken Tree of Life
Being Born
Crow (In Memory of Sarah Bell)

A poetry contest I am entering, maybe you should too!

I am submitting six poems to this poetry contest and am pretty excited about it. It’s a great contest and I really recommend anyone who puts pen to paper with an intention of sharing it with the world to submit their own poetry. The guidelines are very realistic and the fee is only $5 for every three poems. Even better, it is all done online. A perfect way to get over your submitting jitters. Good luck!

The Poet’s Billow is a fantastic online journal and resource for writers.

The Atlantis Award at the Poet’s Billow

The Atlantis Award is awarded to a single best poem. The winning poet receives $100 and will be featured in an interview on The Poet’s Billow web site. The winning poem will be published and displayed in the Poet’s Billow Literary Art Gallery and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. If the poet qualifies, the poem will also be submitted to The Best New Poets anthology.

Up to five runners-up will be considered for publication and a Pushcart Prize nomination.


Revised Poem: Being Born

An older poem revised so much that I consider it new. I have been told I ask too many questions. I just consider it part of my voice. The question is as valid a literary device as any other. Whitman would make lists and lists of items, I make lists of questions. They are my questions to ask. Plus, we all ask big questions and some of them do not have answers. So, this is a short poem, with big questions. Enjoy and let me know what you think!


Being Born

In my mother’s womb, In that
Dark, swollen corner where
Miracles happen that we will
Never fully understand,
I rested nine months and grew.

Surrounded by the warmth
Of her waters, covered with
Ripples of her heart, soothed
By her soft, dulcet voice,
My little ears immersed
Into an echo of peace and
Infinity. In her womb
There was no time, no past,
Present or future, only one
Steady presence of life.

When did my quickening come?
Hours before I emerged
From that watery eternity?
When did I realize there was
A forward, a future, a something
To come? Did I realize there,
Before my first breath that I
Was moving, that there was motion,
Perhaps a tiny sense of time?

As my mother’s body and mine
Stirred, the quiet waters
Began to race and ripple,
Pulsating speeding hearts.
In the violent contractions,
The Pressure and the pushing,
What did my womb mind
Understand, at that moment?
Did I first know fear on
That day eternity changed?
Did I first know anticipation?
Was this my first experience at
Ambiguous, unknowable emotion?

Did I hear the voice of God or an angel
Whisper “There Child, It Is Time”.

© 2004/2012 Sandra E. Walton