Last fall, my grandmother cried out for my father in the middle of the night, according to the woman who cared for her in her last few months. That same night, thousands of miles away in Juneau, Alaska, my father awoke to the sound of her voice calling for him.

Everything is connected.

The day Nani died, a beautiful thrush, yellow like the color she always wore, hit our window and perished. The thrush has one of the most beautiful birdsongs in the world and is considered an omen of truth speaking. I have been speaking my truth ever since.

Today is All Soul’s Day, the second Day of the Dead, when people in Mexico and other parts of Central America honor loved ones who have passed away. So it is fitting that Dodging the Rain, beautiful literary journal based out of Galway, Ireland, just published my poem Season of the Crone, written last year about my grandmother.

You can read the poem here, and feliz Día de Muertos!

(scroll down to watch/read)

I am struggling with this blog post. I’ve been wanting to make an important announcement for more than a month now, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. How do you announce you won an award without coming across as bragging? It’s kind of impossible.

The truth is I was totally surprised, thrilled, and humbled when I found out in early April that my poem, “Solstice through Aperture,” placed first in the Alaska statewide poetry contest.

YAY!!!! Okay, back to being humble now…

I have to thank the good folks at Fairbanks Arts Association for hosting the contest, and thank you to Ishmael Hope for reading and blind-judging the poems.

Here is a video from the Fairbanks Arts Association of my reading the winning poem, “Solstice through Aperture,” as well as some of my other poems.

For those of you who prefer to read poetry, I have posted a copy of the poem below.

Thanks for reading/watching!

Featured photo by Fera Photography

You can imagine my delight when Plumtree tavern literary magazine sent me an email to tell me that they included my poem as one of the selected favorites from the past year. And lo and behold, mine was listed first!

I wrote this poem during a walk on one of the coldest, driest days of fall. Sounds muted, nothing stirring, and even the wind was dead. The next day life returned in the first snow.

Enjoy this time of quiet solitude. As Crosby, Stills and Nash say, the darkest hour is right before the dawn.

Featured artwork by Watanabe Seiti

Summer teaches Spanish in Juneau, Alaska, where she lives with her commercial fisherman husband and two semi-feral children. She’s not sure how they came to be that way, but let’s just say that the pinecone never falls far from spruce tree.

(Until, of course, a squirrel piece-meals it much like Summer eats a blueberry muffin. Fun fact: her nickname in Spanish was squirrel.)

Summer is a winner of the Alaska Statewide Poetry Contest, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Motherwell Magazine, Lowestoft Chronicle, Third Wednesday, and Hellebore, among others.

She got her start in writing at a young age, which eventually metamorphosized into rapping and writing folk songs. She has a background in theater and dance, and occasionally choreographs numbers for her belly dance troupe, Daughters of the New Moon.

Summer has a Bachelors of Arts in People and Performing Arts of Latin America and the Caribbean and Masters in Education.

She also likes to play in nature with her kids and write songs on guitar. You might catch her at next open mic rapping about the budget, or something else equally uplifting.

At the edge of the gumdrop forest waits a door to swallow her whole

deep, deeper down the rabbit hole she hopes to lose her mind or find her soul

or a better way back than before.

Perhaps chance upon a homeless camp

tarp and dust pan,

flash backs to that woman & those men you caught with your 22—

old news, that was way back when— squirrels & John Muir wouldn’t even give it a passing glance

by the old growth hemlock & spruce, snow on ground & twisting roots holding down your queen

of hearts, ocean breath & song of thrush, old man’s beard on Dr. Seuss trees & mushroom musk.

If John Muir were a her on this frapcious earth day she’d prefer the form of a cheshire cat

rather than a girl without a dog, 5’5 122 pounds, a perfect rabbit for the hunting hieing through wonderland

& a homeless camp, lichen’s web catching on her hat, rain water pooling under boots,

nibbling at the ice, and at the trail head upon her return, I wonder if John Muir

the man would observe a ladies torn thong strung along a branch as if to offer

a warning… I wonder.

One out of seven jobless, Venezuela size statistics,
but the Tongass is alive, listen—
 
the wilderness so thick, I could lean into this.
No helicopters to spoil, and there’s a 
part of me
 
that likes to do hard things— like fool 
myself
into jumping off this cliff sixty feet
 
into the drink, blue like a California sunset
reflected in a rear view mirror.
 
Hear the birds—  if they were words
they’d say gimme this, gimme that
 
so & so started it, and I don’t want you to die.
Word to your bird baby mama.
 
Oh wild wilderness, why do I love you
so fierce? Is it because I relinquish 
control,
 
is it because you show up in a flooded
beaver dam pool where you can’t tell
 
where the tree ends and its mirror 
begins—
the spider web that clings when you 
least expect it,
 
nurse log kind of love.
If it ain’t a good day I’m cryin’,
 
laughin’ and cryin’ at the same time,
inhaler in my pocket,
 
mask I’m rockin’
‘cause it’s not about me
 
this time— no one lives forever.
A girl cries every night,
 
she don’t want mama to die,
but I don’t wanna let it go yet
 
‘cause there’s still a part of me
that likes to do hard things.