Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Sunday Poem: Russell Libby... Applied Geometry

American Life in Poetry: Column 194

Father and child doing a little math homework together; it's an everyday occurrence, but here, Russell Libby, a poet who writes from Three Sisters Farm in central Maine, presents it in a way that makes it feel deep and magical.

Applied Geometry

Applied geometry,
measuring the height
of a pine from
like triangles,
Rosa's shadow stretches
seven paces in
low-slanting light of
late Christmas afternoon.
One hundred thirty nine steps
up the hill until the sun is
finally caught at the top of the tree,
let's see,
twenty to one,
one hundred feet plus a few to adjust
for climbing uphill,
and her hands barely reach mine
as we encircle the trunk,
almost eleven feet around.
Back to the lumber tables.
That one tree might make
three thousand feet of boards
if our hearts could stand
the sound of its fall.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2007 by Russell Libby, whose most recent book is "Balance: A Late Pastoral," Blackberry Press, 2007. Reprinted from "HeartLodge," Vol. III, Summer 2007, by permission of Russell Libby. Introduction copyright © 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bike and Trailer: Ready for Road Trials

NOB HILL--Before starting on the Transamerica bike trip, I went on a little jaunt along the Malpais to test out the equipment. Here everything is ready to go, waiting on the porch for Bob to arrive. His wife Wendy drove us out to Grants. We then biked south to Quemado.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Joe Lawson, The Gumball King, Dead at 58

NOB HILL--Joe Lawson died last Thursday night. Saturday we had a wake. There are no words that can express the loss.

But I tried. I posted a piece about him on The Duke City Fix this morning.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Border Folly: The Rest, Including Day #3...We Cross Paths With the New York Times

NOB HILL--We made it back about a week ago. We had no internet connection for the rest of the trip. I got sick and put nothing up about the finish. This led to an interesting development.

We had spent the third night at Organ Pipe National their backcountry campground. There were only 4 sites, pit toilets, no water, no shade. They were perfect.

By mid-afternoon all the sites were occupied: two by single men who looked like they had given themselves over to the focused, sun-baked look of desert fever, and a young couple who never left their campsite. Everything was peaceful enough. Especially at night once the older wild man quit talking to himself. And the young woman in the next tent quit her rhythmic barking.

Anyway we hiked in the afternoon, ate a good supper and breakfast, and left by about 10:00 a.m.

It is a very lush part of the southwest, warm and full of vegetation. Our campsite was fortunate enough to have the only organ pipe cactus that was actually in the campground. Saguaros were everywhere, as was mesquite, creosote bush and some other native plants.

Most interesting was what is called the Jumping Cholla. This single-stemed cholla has lots of spikey balls attached to its arms that attach themselves to passersby. They don't actually 'Jump,' but they come off the plant extremely easily. In fact, they fall off.

They stick pretty good to your flesh, however. And you can't touch them to pull them off. A ranger recommended using a forked stick.

The New York Times Connection
Anyway, I picked up a copy of this Friday's NYT and found that in the Escapes section, Keith Mulvihill had written a piece on the Arizona Borderlands entitled "A Road Trip On the Edge Of America." He mentions Organ Pipe National Monument. It is a wonderful piece with a lot of information. I will say that Organ Pipe NatMon is definitely at the edge of America: right on the Mexican border and totally out of the way...except that the highway through the Park is the main road from the USA to Puerto Penasco (otherwise known as Rocky Point).
The NYT article has a picture of our campsite! That guy Keith probably moved the picnic table just a hair, but that is definitely our site! I keep wondering about that woman's barking...was that the Times reporter at work? Who knows.

We may have been there at the same time. Maybe not. But I'll tell you one thing: we ate better than they did. Beef Stroganoff for supper. Pan fried potatoes, sausages, eggs, and green chile for breakfast.