I leave Saturday, July 14 for Mendocino Woodlands for our annual Sufi Retreat. This year I will have Wendy Taylor Carlisle, my favorite poetry companion, to teach the afternoon writing class with me. We have traveled together and studied the written word since the mid-1990’s. I organized a small book tour in California for her when her second, award-winning poetry book, Discount Fireworks was released in 2008. After years of reading my prose and poetry,  She edited Untold. Every word. I could not have done it without her. I am lucky. She is as good an editor as she is a poet! Wendy received five Pushcart Prize Nominations, and many awards. < http://www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com/&gt; She just moved from Texas to Eureka Springs Arkansas.

If you are coming to Mendo for the week and plan to write, you are in for a treat.  If you would like to come for a day or 2 you are welcome to join the class. It goes from 4:30 until dinner in Dining-room Right. Here is a sample of Wendy’s words, a stretchy modern sonnet: Please note that the format is not exact.

THE CIRCUS OF INCONSOLABLE LOSS

There is only one ring for those sweating horses with the preternaturally                                                                                            
flat backs and the fat smooth rumps from which ladies
            in stained tights vault onto the sawdust
                        or another horse.
 
Only one ring for the hung-over clowns and their Volkswagen,
a car so old it must be pushed into the one ring
            which is also the one for the acrobats and the tigers and contortionists
                        and dogs that walk on their hind legs,
 
then stop to scratch their necks, itchy under spangled ruffs. Above them
wire walkers and trapeze guys swing,
                        mayfly-graceful. Under them the one ring
                                    reminds the audience to celebrate, each in their own
 
constrained and special way,
the emptiness they’ve come to in the spaces where other rings should be.

                                                            –from Rattle #32, Winter 2009

Wendy shows humor and skill in equal measures.

 
Snow White reconsiders (two versions: the first became a sonnet)
 
At first I knew nothing about him, imagined
his wide shoulders, his eyes dark as cloves.                                                                                                                                         
My hand tightened on doorknobs;
he could be in any room. On the dining
 
table, the plates waited for his thumbprint,
each single knife yearned toward his grip,
 
I made the seven beds: I swept,
a trace of aftershave seduced a napkin.
 
The old woman brought me a coffin.
I bit, climbed in, was caught and paned, a kiss
galloped toward me carrying salvation.
 
Impact. My lashes sprung, inaction
was out of the question. The apple had been irresistible
but what woman doesn’t later regret her appetite for fruit?
 
An early version: After She Finds Her Prince, She Reconsiders
 At first I knew nothing about you,

Tamam and Wendy in Quito…

eyes dark as cloves.  My hands tightened
on doorknobs.  You could be in any room.
Every table was set for you.  Each decorative platter
waited for your thumb-print, every perfect cloth
lacked only a trace of your aftershave
I swept the kitchen, I made these seven beds.
Eating an apple, my eyes widened impossibly
imagining  you, galloping toward me through the trees.
 

Wendy at Murshid Sam’s Dargah, Lama Foundation

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