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

Being Seen

Yesterday at the school I had one of those days where everything you do rubs someone the wrong way and everything you say come’s out  exactly not how you meant it. I was feeling like I wanted crawl into a cozy little box and hide myself away, wondering why I chose to come out of five years of hermit-ing in the first place. I felt raw and open and all I wanted to do was become invisible. Then I wrote this to myself this morning. I think some of you might relate, so I’m sharing it.

…I want to be seen. I do not want to be invisible. I want my work to be seen. A big part of being seen is the fear that you will not be liked or are not good enough. I am going to be brave and take the hits because some people will like what you do and will encourage you and others will be all flustered by your very life force and existence. You will get in peoples way, they will get in your way, you will be misunderstood, you will misunderstand, you will take things personally, you will not understand important things, you will understand other important things. You will be seen, and felt and there in the world bumping up against all the other people that are also there in the world bumping up against you. It’s alright to retreat, to take a breather as you get used to all this bumping into things and being bumped into. It’s alright to let it go – but do not wish again that you might be invisible in the world or that somehow if people see you they will see your wrong. Be SEEN in the world – it is the only way for an artist and a poet to even have half a chance at an audience and to find some camaraderie with even a small handful of fellow creators. You must be seen and be o.k. with all the awkwardness of being seen, because it is only in being seen that your heart will be known and an artist and a poet wants more than anything in the world to have their heart be known. Get used to being seen.

Neil Gaiman – Inspirational Speech at the University of the Arts 2012

This is the most encouraging and inspiring talk that I have heard, possibly ever. Ya, it is that good.

As you may know I am going back to school at 46 years old. I ran into some really difficult times over the last few years that pretty much ‘simplified’ everything for me and opened up some time. Instead of letting the losses get me down anymore – I am turning it into an the opportunity of a lifetime. A time to completely re-invent myself in the image of who I have always wanted to be, doing what I have always wanted to do – make art. Some people have told me that it is too late to learn the skills I need to express myself the way I would like. There is the fear that I am nuts for trying to establish myself as an artist so late in life. They are saying it is too late to be who I want to be – and I refuse to believe that.

This talk is not just for young graduates, but for anyone that is on the artist’s journey – no matter when it begins.

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


From my free writing today

I do free writing every morning – 3 pages at least. It ranges from the simple rant to my deepest philosophical thoughts. At night I try to do 2-3 pages of just creative writing, especially if I have not gotten any writing done during the day. That is 5 pages a day minimum, that makes me happy. Often when I write I get moments of clarity. Today I got a moment of clarity surrounding my writing and my painting and the recipe I need to achieve a certain contentment as a creative. I think almost every creative can relate to this so I am sharing it. When you can distill your thoughts into little chunks you can focus on, you can begin to answer the question of how to make them happen. I recommend taking a little time to think, maybe write about what you need to really thrive as an artist. A few things that would change everything. I hope I can make the below happen for me, and I hope you can make your creative recipe happen for you.

December 7

If I could clear up just a few fundamentals as an artist I would be happy 1) What do I want to consistently paint about, body of work sort of thing. I have the desire, the passion, the skill I just lack continuity of vision right now.  2) How to tap into and channel that sporadic poetic muse and 3) A driving theme for my fiction. What format – Short story, long fiction, autobio, inspiration… what? And once I have the what, what would be the p.o.v. and voice of the work. Add an increased focus and I’d be golden. It would be like having wings. I’ve never gotten it down to such a recipe before.

Rejection Breeds Creativity

200b722905293f1ecdc1807d5b66075eThis is a really thought provoking article on something that each of us, at some point, has to deal with as artists. I have long held the belief that no matter what the outcome the activity itself is forward motion and important growth.  This article gives us an even better take on the old friend, rejection.