Follow by Email

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 28apr50011

Norwood’s Elle Metrick honored for poetry

SAN MIGUEL POET LAUREATE … At the risk of infuriating one of our county curmudgeons who find little to praise anywhere they look and everything to criticize, it’s wonderful to see the County honoring poet and editor Elle Metrick for her fine writing, her performance chops -- both solo and with the poetry ensemble EAR, her success in forming a monthly poetry circle through ACE of Norwood, and her overall devotion to the lyric valuables … She takes the mantle from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville, who served two terms: 2006-2010 … There’s no money involved. No sinecure. It’s just a way to honor one of the many arts that enrich our lives. Poetry. Dance. Theater … Would that we created more awards for those that bring beauty out into the open air.

SOUR GRAPES… It’s curious to see a citizen in our neighboring county railing against Ouray County Commissioner Lynn Padgett for using county travel money for honing her leadership skills. She’s already proved her worth to citizens there by winning election to the National Association of Counties … Our state association (CCI) collects dues from counties with public land within their boundaries (San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose all pay into that CCI fund, and have for over a decade). The money is used to pay expenses for eight commissioners from around the state’s 64 counties to go to NACo meetings in DC and to an annual meeting at different place around the country (this year in Portland). I’ve represented San Miguel County at NACo for ten of the last 13 years. Montrose has had representatives for much of the last decade. Ouray County hadn’t made the cut for one of the eight seats, until Commissioner Padgett’s election last year. That gives her the chance to lobby Senators and Congresspeople for issues important to Ouray County, with no additional cost to the citizens than a fee they’ve been paying for years. And in the process she (and Ouray County) have become leaders on the regional and state level … To kibitz because Padgett wants to develop even better executive skills at a leadership conference (which is non-partisan and has nothing to do with subsidizing anyone’s “political development”) – with money budgeted for an annual CCI meeting that only one of the Ouray commissioners can attend -- demonstrates either a lack of understanding on the part of this Wojciechowski fellow, or just more of the same petty partisan politics from Ouray’s hardcore Republextremists.

TELLURIDE AT RISK? … I’ve never heard anyone talk about this, but imagine this scenario reported on by Jeffrey St. Clair in Counterpunch last month: “An October 2000 report from the Sandia Labs in Albuquerque painted a grim picture of the consequences from a pool fire. The report, which was kept under wraps for years by the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission], found that “a waste pool fire could spread radioactive debris over a 500-mile radius, including Cesium-137, a carcinogen linked to birth defects and genetic damage” … Volcanic eruption. Meteorite. Terrorist attack. Who’s knows what (next) could trigger a “worst case scenario” in New Mexico’s Sandia Labs? … The driving distance from ‘Bourque to Telluride? Three hundred and fifty-five miles. By air it’s 206 … So, let the spinmeisters tell you it’s an acceptable level of danger. That the chances are nil. The odds astronomical … But the truth is, Southwestern Colorado isn’t out of possible harm’s way. We are well within multiple rings of radioactive fallout from existing nuclear reactors -- in a worst case scenario … This is the true risk. As assessed by the regulators … We could call ourselves a “nuclear-free-zone” until we’re blue in the face. It might make us feel smug, but it’s no protection in case the “impossible” happens. As we’ve been warned by the regulators, it could.

SAWPIT MERCANTILE … Telluride Bud Company wasn’t the only local business that slipped through the cracks in our competitor’s “open-for-off-season” listing. Downvalley, the good folks in Sawpit wanted customers to know they’re open for business all through off-season this year … Plus, they have an added attraction. The last time I stopped there to shop (they have some of the more curious gourmet food items for sale, not to be found elsewhere), I saw a herd of almost a dozen Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep ewes (they look like Mountain Goats with their short horns, but they aren't the pure white of goats). I watched, riveted, as they dashed up a butte to a lone sentinel who had been standing guard as the herd crossed over the road from the river. Stop, shop and see if you can catch sight of Ovis canadensis canadensis

STARTLED … Walking by the barn and sheds on my way back to the house from my studio at Cloud Acre the other day, I heard flapping and looked up. A big-winged bird soared above me just over the roofs of the outbuildings … A owl? No, bigger. An eagle? No, it had gray plumage and long trailing feet. Suddenly I realized it was a Great Blue Heron. It was the closest I’d ever been to that reclusive critter … Amazingly, it hadn’t seen or heard me. It glided a hundred feet to my small pond and disappeared behind a living fence of red willows … I was outside an working. I wanted to do some spring mowing before the sun went down, but I weeded instead for 10-15 minutes. Finally, I figured I’d wander down to the pond and see if the heron was still there, before I kicked over my lawnmower’s engine … I got about 10 yards from the pond, came around a berm and this magnificent bird with a huge wingspan lifted up from feasting on my pond’s minnows and sailed into the thick spring air.


Alamos, Sonora

We walked into the small café
to see the Master Shaman
surrounded by eager apprentices
in the corner booth
Their rapt attention     focused
on his hands
as he compressed
the energy between his palms
tighter             tighter
A sudden sharp snap
of wrist and shoulder
he flung it down
off the center of the table
a steel ball-bearing
off hard formica

My juggler’s hand
shot up and out
instantly calculating
angle and trajectory
to save the customers
to save the crockery
to save the day!
A short-stop’s stretching catch
the ground-hop ball still spinning
sizzling in the glove
At that sharp metallic sound
surprised patrons spun around
to see       me staring
into my shocked
and empty

-Lightning Heart
No Name, Colorado

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 21apr50011

Reassessing Nuclear Power’s Risks

RISK … Every human is a great evaluator of risk. Throughout our lives we make judgment about what can hurt us, what could kill. So, I’m not so sure we should look to others to assess our own personal risk in continuing down the nuclear road. Or the risk to our loved ones ... You don’t have to read the Wall St. Journal or listen to Fox News to know it would likely be unwise to look to the leaders of our capital-driven, growth-obsessed, industrial materialist society for a fair risk assessment … Citizens, when it comes to assessing the risks of nuclear power, I think we are called upon to consider the kind of radical action that Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin modeled for America – to start thinking for ourselves. To weigh as individuals what our risks are. With nuclear, and without … Otherwise, you may as well “Leave it to Beaver” as effectively as any industrial expert paid to convince you everything’s hunky-dory. Radionuclide’s are harmless. Radon is good for your lungs … Time to realize that all those too familiar “expert” nostrums --“state of the art”, “best available science”, “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA), or “practicable” (ALARP), or “cost effective,” etc. – for what they really are: educated guesses with incomplete data … Should we really risk $300 billion+ in damages and hundreds of American miles cordoned off from human contact for thousands of years to pay less on our monthly electrical bills? … Forget the “experts.” What does common sense tell you? Is the benefit worth the risk?

WRONG … Just my luck to have based a lot of historical research on a rare publication that appears to have been rife with errors … In 2004 Dr. Andrew Gulliford published my historical essay “Mining the Gold: Telluride and San Juan History” in his book, San Juan Sampler: Selections from the Nita Heald Webber Southwest Postcard Collection (Durango Herald Small Press). One of the primary sources I used to do research for the historical section was Ray L. Newburn, Jr.’s Postal History of the Colorado San Juan. It was a book none of the regional libraries or bookstores had a copy of – more manuscript than tome -- and it had been generously loaned to me by Buzz and Jean Zatterstrom of Nucla … Buzz was fascinated with postage stamps (as am I) and had secured a copy of Newburn’s monograph (along with a postmarked envelope he showed me from Cameville – a long-vanished post office townsite at the juncture of Tabeguache Creek and the San Miguel, just upstream from Uravan) … Thinking (as many amateurs do) that my single rare historical source could give me literary advantage – mining, as it were, the gold of found information, I rushed ahead without checking sources and cross-referencing what I had. Alas, my own hubris caught up with me … In his book, Newburn cites the name “Rio del Cado” as the appellation first given to Leopard Creek by the Dominguez y Escalante expedition of 1776 (the good padres were seeking a route to Monterey from Santa Fe, while ancestors on my mother’s side – the Santa Cruz family – were just arriving in Monterey from Mexico -- at about the same time). Newburn translates it as “River of the Elbow” (I think a better translation might be “Bent Creek” or “Crooked Watercourse”) … Nevertheless, I wrote up my little history and cited Newburn for my Leopard Creek story. Then, I got an email from former Tellurider and Colombian-American friend Lito Tejada-Flores a couple months ago and things started to go south. Somehow, in one of our exchanges, “Rio del Cado” came up and Lito replied curiously that “Rio del Codo” meant “Bent Creek” but Rio del Cado was a much more obscure word, literally “rabbit burrow” but really slang for “a hideout of crooks.” I was intrigued. Maybe Butch Cassidy was just the latest in a long line of outlaw denizens of Dallas Divide … That tantalizing theory collapsed, however, when I conferred with local historical sage Dirk de Pagter – whose collection of ancient maps of this region is legendary. “I think ‘Rio del Cado’ must have been a spelling mistake by Mr. Newburn,” wrote de Pagter, “because it is the only time it was called by this name. Hayden [earliest government surveyor of this region] first referred to it as ‘Rio del Codo’ in 1874-1877 and this name was used by many cartographers like Louis Nell who copied Hayden’s information. But, after the initial gold/silver rush, by 1886-1887 the name was changed to Leopard Creek. I cannot find any reference before Hayden” … So, not from Dominguez y Escalante. Not “Cado” at all … One more revisionist footnote to the comprehensive history of San Miguel County that’s yet to be written.

AND OOPS … Mea culpa, dear readers. Win an award & you start making mistakes all over the place. My only excuse: writing under deadline in the wee hours can carry one into strange corners that even copy editors don’t check … We are NOT on the cusp of the 21st Millennium of the Christian Era, as I asserted quite falsely last week. We HAVE entered the 21st Century of the Christian Era, but only the 3rd Millennium … Thanks to my old sem buddy Gary Saso of Cupertino for putting me straight after my flagrant off-course boo-boo.

GREGORY GREYHAWK … Another bright star flames out … One of those giant souls, huge-hearted, a string of his own hockey teeth pearled around his neck. Brilliant, erratic. I loved being around him. Anything could happen, and sometimes did …. Just ordered his book, Wailing Heaven, Whistling in Hell (Howling Dog Press, Berthoud, Colorado, 1996) … Gonna miss the wrap of his big arm as we caromed down a Denver sidewalk, and the wild grin of his gap-toothed smile.


Remembering Karen Chamberlain

lanky stalk of grass
singing in the autumn wind
your voice packed with seeds

-Carol Bell
Fort Collins

Sunday, April 17, 2011



Chocolate to morphine. Acid to ecstasy.
I could jones on you forever.
Your taste on my tongue.

Sure, at times we trade tit-for-tat.
Give or take. But ultimately
both of us get taken away.

You say, Pay attention to my clock.
It’s on Tibetan Tantric Be-Here-Now time.
But what I hear are the crazed

bees of electricity
humming in the wires
& the sweet drawl lisp of your voice.

Love’s a dented circle
pierced with arrows. I bring you
a heart of rough-cut alabaster.

Take my anger & polish it
to a sheen where at last
my own scuffed self can be seen.

Time to dance, I shout
Hooping & hoofing it while we can.
Give me a hand, darling,

Let’s do a Tarentella Napoletana
under the slickrock black of our Anasazi sky
looking south to Lone Cone.

Once more I’ll ignore the stars to stare
into the polished juniperberry
blue of your eyes.

Glazed. Longing. Hungry for
the grip of the other. So here now
we’re gone.

Capt. Barefoot Broadside                                          Union of Street Poets
Vincent St. John Local / Colorado Plateau / Aztlán
 Kuksu Brigade (Ret.) / San Francisco

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Along the San Miguel

Winter in the San Juans

Along the San Miguel,
rock-studded slopes of P-J
& Ponderosa get hot mid-day.

Even with winter’s bite, snow
melts off, though it’s too cold
for new growth. Just

last year’s hardy perennials
scratching out roots in the
Dakota sandstone, Gambel

oak & leaf litter. But it’s
a tolerable kind of cold. Just
about sunny enough to roll up

your shirtsleeves. Even if
your forearms get goosebumps
with each passing cloud.

Capt. Barefoot Broadside                                          Union of Street Poets
Vincent St. John Local / Colorado Plateau / Aztlán
 Kuksu Brigade (Ret.) / San Francisco

Friday, April 15, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 14apr50011

Looking Back on Vatican II

CONFESSIONS OF AN EX-MONK … The dawn of the 3rd Millennium of the Christian Era has not showered its graces upon the Byzantine stained glass of Roman Catholicism. Revelations of widespread sexual abuse among deviant members of the Roman Catholic clergy have rocked the faithful and non-believers alike. Bishops and Cardinals have been touched by the smoldering, decades-old scandal (even, some claim, the Pope). Not for any predatory sexual behavior themselves, but for allowing ordained predators to continue in the priesthood – instead of shutting the offenders up in mandatory seclusion. Or sending them off into the world, excommunicated. Or (God forbid)  turning them over to the civil authorities … As a young man I had such hope for religion. I was a believer. Even with the allure of Fifties Rock & Roll parties and Eighth Grade first dates, I decided at 14 to dedicate my life to making this a better world with a better life for all. Which, in my young mind, translated into entering a diocesan seminary south of San Francisco (Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs was just a class ahead of me there). My intent was clear – I would help convert the world into believers in the gospels of the RC Christ ... Of course, the deeper I got in my studies, the more my goal morphed. We aspiring clerical Turks wanted to get rid of the old Latin Mass. Bring the ritual into English, so all could participate. And understand. Ours was an American kind of Catholicism, imbued with Jeffersonian principles and Catholic Worker tendencies. Many spiritual greenhorns like myself embraced the near heretical writings on the Omega Point by Jesuit philosopher-paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, as well as the complete oeuvre of Trappist poet, pacifist and celebrity monk Thomas Merton, who pioneered interfaith dialogue among East and West religious traditions and bridged the spiritual chasm between modern literature and contemplative life (Cables from the Ace, New Directions, 1968) … But the retrenchment of the Roman Curia once Blessed John the XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) died and my own wrestling with existential phenomenology (and a looming vow of celibacy) led me out of St. Patrick’s Seminary and off to Montana and the land of the Absaroka (but that’s another tale) … All of this to say I have a confession to make. I’m addicted. Every spring, as my mail box fills up with lurid photos of the most beautiful creatures, I have come to accept that I am addicted to the pornography of garden catalogues … Omygoddess, I could leaf through their Technicolor pages for hours. Entranced with the beauty of this bulb. Lusting to purchase that flowering annual. Pining for the rarest heirloom spud seed … And, honestly, I’m not a bit ashamed. When it comes to the sin of gardening, I’m completely unrepentant.

DICK BRETT … An old sem buddy of mine reporting from the interior of China sometime last week … “The weather is Chengdu gray here. Spring is not in the air … The Chinese just finished celebrating their tomb-sweeping three-day holiday where they remember their beloved dead. I was the only foreigner in Pingle, a 2300-year-old Chinese town, where human beings first used natural gas. I was surrounded with Chinese who have gotten a little bit bigger piece of their ever growing economic pie. The Chinese know how to relax with their family and friends, tea and beer by the river -- talking, playing cards or mahjong, and eating fresh, delicious food … The four hour trip back to the big city was worth it.”

WEEKLY QUOTA … In a letter to Nicaraguan poet and cultural minister Ernesto Cardenal, Thomas Merton wrote: "The world is full of great criminals with enormous power, and they are in a death struggle with each other. It is a huge gang battle, using well-meaning lawyers and policemen and clergymen as their front, controlling papers, means of communication, and enrolling everybody in their armies."


April Aubade

When you finally
sleep with the
window open in
a century old

house, the itch
of April enters,
a highway breathes
through, trains woo

darkly westward. Come
morning, wood pecker
drills a hole
into your waking

mind. A pin
of light shines.
Air sucks your
closed door against

its frame, trying
to make a
path through you.
Wood knocks wood.

Your metal mechanism
clicks in its
lock, hinges almost
creak. Everything begs

a thin opening.

-Rachel Kellum

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Afoot with Visions

Hospice Leave

odd to go
from fast-track
county meet & greets

to sitting
with Grandpa Vincenzo
in the rest home

weaving baskets of twine
that was once vine
& now’s the only line

back to the rainbow garish
sun flash San Miguel
end zone I’ve left

to sit on the foggy San Fran sidelines
as Dad makes his own last
end run dash

Capt. Barefoot Broadside                                          Union of Street Poets
Vincent St. John Local / Colorado Plateau / Aztlán
 Kuksu Brigade (Ret.) / San Francisco

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When is a Loss a Win?

How many times has someone asked you to write them a job recommendation, and you do? Sometimes they get the job, and sometimes not. Here's a poem responding to one just-about-to-graduate friend, after not...

When is a Loss a Win?

-for Dr. S. Lynn

Part of me
was almost sad
to help you net that job
you’d had

Admin done well
without doubt

But I wanted to say
Make a play A big catch
with that postdoc basket
of East Afric skill sets

Why not angle the reel
for more?

Maybe seconds’s a better
regardless of what you
wanted most

or thought
went first
Old Man Crow taught me
on the rez
You cast intent out in the world
& then just fish with the flow

instead of willing

Or like my wobbly
red monk hobo balladeer
tracker guru Utah Phillips

Every so often
you have to wake up
& jump

off a cliff

Capt. Barefoot Broadside                                          Union of Street Poets
Vincent St. John Local / Colorado Plateau / Aztlán
 Kuksu Brigade (Ret.) / San Francisco

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 7apr50011

Stamets offers Experimental 
Mycosolution to Japan’s Nuclear Mess

MYCO-REMEDIATE JAPAN? … Shroomfest & Bioneer Psychonaut Paul Stamets is calling his rough-sketched proposal: The Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone <//>. He wants to use hyper-accumulating mycorrhizal mushrooms like Gomphidius glutinosus and Laccaria amethystina to bio-accumulate the radioactive isotope Cesium 137. He’d use this opportunity to run continuing tests of other mycelial species for their radioactivity-absorbent qualities – research that’s in the process of expanding world-wide, as the medicinal properties of mushrooms continue to astound science. This would allow researchers to measure which fungi work best at cleaning up the radioactive isotopes released into the surrounding soils by the Fukushima core meltdowns. The contaminated shrooms would be harvested and incinerated, and the radioactive ash would be “further refined and the resulting concentrates vitrified (placed into glass)” or neutralized using whatever becomes the state-of-the-art long-term nuclear storage technology (still to be invented) … His paper recommends that the Japanese evacuate and fence off a large nuclear zone embracing the devastated fallout areas in the vicinity of the failed Fukushima reactors. He’d have the government assemble “a high-level, diversified remediation team including foresters, mycologists, nuclear and radiation experts, government officials and citizens.” Wood debris from the tsunami would be chipped and mulched into contaminated areas to a minimum depth of 12-24 inches. Native deciduous & conifer trees would be planted in the wood chip mulch inoculated with various radioactivity-concentrating species of fungi. Harvest would be done under hazmat protocols … “By sampling other mushroom-forming fungi for their selective ability to hyper-accumulate radioactivity,” explains Stamets, “We can learn a great deal while helping the ecosystem to recover” … The paper estimates it could take decades to remediation the zone, but the end result could be a forested national park to benefit future generations of Japanese. No analysis of cost accompanies the paper, but it does include a bibliography of ten scientific articles and books on fungal interactions with radiation, including Stamet’s own Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (Ten Speed, Berkeley, 2005).

THANK YOU … Town of Telluride for filling in the blanks in the macadam on the Spur in To-Hell-U-ride … I don’t mind bumping along to moundy slops of stop-gap playdough repairs in commuting into paradise, it’s the ravenous Tyrannosaurus potholes swallowing my tires that gets under my skin.

THE SIDEWALK PHILOSOPHER … Oh, I got scolded the other sunny day, walking down Colorado Ave., for everything Obama and the invidiousness of politicians who promise change, like they have to do to get elected, and then get changed -- usually by a lot more information and diverse opinion, although sometimes payola (our species is particularly adept at scamming a system) … The problem is, once elected, you have to govern, and governance means listening to everyone (public & staff) and finding the people’s balance in each contentious decision, regardless of one’s personal bias. Holding inflexibly to every promise is a terrible strategy for governance. One can hold inflexibly to values and goals, while compromising on particulars if one can’t get a majority of support or move one of the many complex power points in a democracy (tyrannies are much simpler)… I wish more people cared enough to scold me like that. Still, I wish we all had to scold each other a lot less.

PRICE-ANDERSON … That’s the secret back-end subsidy for nuclear power that began in the Atomic Fifties. It caps liability for private nuclear energy corporations at $12.2 billion in case of an unforeseen accident of some unexpected source. Any costs in excess of that amount are the responsibility of taxpayers … Sounds almost reasonable, eh? That’s a lot of cash … Guess again … Here’s Jeffrey St. Clair from Counterpunch last month about the costs of an American nuclear catastrophe: “An controlled pool fire and meltdown at Shearon Harris [nuclear reactor] would put more than two million residents of this rapidly growing section of North Carolina in extreme peril. A recent study by the Brookhaven Labs, not known to overstate nuclear risks, estimates that a pool fire could cause 140,000 cancers, contaminate thousands of square miles of land, and cause over $500 billion in off-site property damage.”

GREENWASH … It’s wonderful that Telluride has always been blessed by Socratic gadflies who won’t let us rest on our laurels. We’ve done a lot of things right (the valley floor) and a lot of things wrong (the airport) – although some would reverse those two -- and maybe our much-vaunted carbon footprint reductions are mostly hot air and rhetoric; and maybe our building code is clumsily regulatory and costly and doesn’t really address the problem; and maybe paper bags are worse than plastic (what about putting a charge on bags like they do in DC, and forcing people to use their own bags?) … Still, I don’t think we have to beat ourselves over the heads because we aren’t pure green. I can’t think of any place that is. But we ought to constantly be improving the green we’re tying to become, and start taking my esteemed fellow citizen Harold Wondsel’s criticisms to heart.


Iraq War Demonstration
San Francisco, 2003

Carried by five blondes
the banner spans the street.

Across the top:

Marching the middle:
big, bright daisies.

The bottom line:

-Doc Dachter
Nevada City

Tracking the Lyric Valuables


-for Wendalicious

your slim sly book’s
a dance in the park
a daze, a drizzle
a puzzling lark

stones yearn to fly
words bark & sizzle
where you choose to fuse
we steam & bruise

to curve ourselves
to intent’s bent stem
changing color
undercover, just for fun

poems winsome
won some, lost & found
mossy, moving
knots unbound

I’m tantalized
I’m mystified
you pull my leg
my heart my eyes

and yet I bet
my best disguise
of dim wit & darkling
thought couldn’t pry apart

the surprising uptick
brilliant arc
of your even one
least question mark

Capt. Barefoot Broadside                                          Union of Street Poets
Vincent St. John Local / Colorado Plateau / Aztlán
 Kuksu Brigade (Ret.) / San Francisco


I am honored to have been named Poet Laureate of Colorado's Western Slope at the first annual Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival in Carbondale this past March. I'll be posting text and poems here for those that may be interested.