Winona Media (Leslie Schultz)

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Poems & Stories From the Heart
Updated: 2 weeks 2 days ago

April 11, 2017 Poem: “At the Theater: A Dream of Stars”

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 7:12am


At the Theater: A Dream of Stars

I settle in the theater, in a seat on the aisle,
with a clear view to the stage.
Then a woman claims the seat just in front
of me. Well, now I can’t see! She must be seven feet tall
with good posture. She is wider than a doorway,
her hair dense with leaping curls. The only thing
missing is the straw hat with a feather or flower.

Somehow, I know she is wearing wrist-length, white
gloves.And polka dots. She listens intently, never whispering
to her companion, who is, maybe, the little man shot
from the cannon in another show. I crane my neck,
first one side, then the other, glimpsing the movie
in fragments. She has every right to be who she is
and where she is, but why am I here, so blinded? Then

I know: we are in a cave, both staring at Plato’s flickering
fire, she the movable wall between me and the cool
illusory flame. We are shadow puppets at rest. She
is the band of silhouette circling the planetarium’s
domed screen. I have only to look up or down or
elsewhere— into the roiling heart of me?—
and peer through the dark lens of poetry.

Leslie Schultz

Wishing you a day when new planets swim into your ken!  Leslie

Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

Postscript: Poet-Artist Collaboration XVI–A Celebration of National Poetry Month!

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 2:23pm

Tim and I traveled to Zumbrota, MN last Saturday evening for this year’s salute to National Poetry Month at the Crossings at Carnegie. Each year, a group of poets and artists are paired up through a juried process, and then they come together to meet; introduce and read the poems; and view and enjoy the resulting visual art inspired by the poems.

After fifteen previous such celebrations, Marie Marvin and her staff have this event down to a fine artistic science. Beginning with a potluck reception at Crossings gallery & shop, moving to the nearby State Theater (operated by the Zumbrota Area Arts Council) for readings by poets and comments by visual artists, and then back to Crossings for lively conversation and closer looks at the art pieces, this event has something for everyone. And it gets better every year!

This year, among the twenty-three pairs of literary and visual artists, Tim and I were pleased to see poets Christine Kallman (a Northfield neighbor, playwright, and Sidewalk Poet) and her daughter; to see poet Ken McCullough and his wife, playwright Lynn Nankivil,  friends from  Winona; and to meet new people including a multi-talented artist from Red Wing, Art Kenyon, and his wife, Kathleen. Art created a painting inspired by my poem, “Nomad’s Daughter” (originally published in Third Wednesday.) His comments, and our conversation afterwards, helped me to understand my poem better. I love what he did with the poem, taking it into a dimension I could never have imagined. Below are some photos of the evening, to give you a flavor of it.

I was excited to find the painting inspired by poem.

Tim and I snagged good seats for the main program.

I get to meet “my” artist, Art Kenyon. Having thought about one poem in depth this spring, he decides to take home my book, Still Life with Poppies: Elegies.

Below, impresario Marie Marvin, and I channel the energies of Broadway’s classic, Cats–especially appropriate since the musical is based upon T.S. Eliot’s poems in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Marie models one of the evening’s wearable artworks, a polar fleece hat and mittens combo designed by Lana Sjoberg and inspired by Mim Kagol’s poem, “Cat in the Garden,” while I wish I could really sing!

It was an unforgettable evening that still has us clicking our heels!

Categories: Citizens

April 10, 2017 Poem: “Music So Loud We Can’t Hear”

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 8:53am

Music So Loud We Can’t Hear
for Luke
(Joe Bonamassa Concert, March 18, 2017)

It’s as if all the thunder
and bison hooves
pounding over the Great Plains
for centuries,
the spiral winds turning
skies green, and
all the demon freight trains
who shriek across burnt horizons
have gathered here,
in Minneapolis, on stage
at the Orpheum Theater.

Thanks to Benjamin Franklin—
his kite and key and legacy
of innovation at G.E.—we
are temporarily deafened,
our ears sheared free
of their function, and
hearing itself driven deep
into our chests, nearing
the knocking of our own hearts
and even deeper, toward
the lost hell of Orpheus
himself, into the mineral
music of our very bones.

Now we’re tuned to a new key,
flung beyond anticipation
into agitated deep seas:
those inky blues of desperation.

Leslie Schultz

As you will know if you saw my post of March 20 this year, the Joe Bonamassa concert was a high water mark for me. I am still thinking about it, “hearing my memory” of it, and playing the CD I purchased that evening.

Here’s to those sharp peaks, moments of not-so-easy but profound listening!


Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

Postcard: April 10, 2017

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 2:33pm

Categories: Citizens

April 9, 2017 Poem “Nine Rooms”

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 9:08am

Nine Rooms
            A Spiral Journey Around Our House as a Bagua

Enter through the central eastern front door. Notice here,
in this place of career, a mirror and, opposite, Spring Creek, framed
in ink-black and ever-flowing, with one black stepping stone just out of reach.

Step right, into the space of opening insight, where I write
seated on denim blue, inspired by photographs of swimming pools,
ancient azure carpet, the cerulean sky through high windows.

Next, a still-greening family tree, shelves overflowing with history,
family mystery, and poetry. Here live the documents, ancestor-images,
old letters and departed people’s diaries.

Furthest west, evidence of a rich life. A trio of purple stones,
the global window of the televised tribal life, windows into
a garden filled with the purpling clouds of evening.

Adjacent, that red compass point, anchors inner and outer worlds–a tall vase
in the garden stands in all weathers, on red bricks laid by us. Fame & name.
Inside, a huge glass cherry, lipstick-bright, on its own pedestal: fruit of career.

Balancing lone insight, pink with potential, the rosy dreams
only life with a partner can provide. Also the essential necessities—
from cook books to record books, umbrellas and washtubs—that make dreams real.

Fragrance of oranges in the kitchen. Orange of stove flame
and curried pumpkin. A busy room with four doorways.
Children’s art on the refrigerator. All the best comforts of home.

Travel on toward the dining table and our home school room.
We gather here together, friends. Thank you for your wisdom
and good will, the teachings you share, and every earned white hair.

Arrive here, in the center, the balance wheel of radiant health
governing all else. Here find the polished broomstick,
glowing lotus scroll, and fine pocket watch bathed in golden light.

And from this inward resting place, a flight
of stairs, curving up toward a pearly moon,
the next level of lively adventure.

Leslie Schultz

I have been inspired by the concentrated wisdom of the Feng Shui bagua for many years. I have read a lot and played around with the ideas surrounding “the Chinese Art of Placement.” As a quilter, the bagua reads not only as a compass for balanced life but as a classic nine-patch quilt square.

This is a collage I made in 2010 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Northfield Arts Guild, part of a fundraiser for the NAG in which visual art was made, donated, displayed in local businesses, and then auctioned off.  My piece–a photography version of a quilt– was displayed for a time at Bierman’s Furniture Store on Division Street. I later made a true cloth quilt version to hang in my kitchen using the same fabrics. (Discerning readers will also note that the favicon for Winona Media is inspired by this piece. It was designed for me by a young artist, Teagan Cole.)

Here is a vintage photo of me with my softer, quilted version of the piece:

Thanks for hanging in there this month! Hope to see you tomorrow. Meanwhile, happy reading! Happy writing! Happy life!

L E  S
L  I   E

Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

April 8, 2017 Poem “Barcelona”

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 6:18am

I dream, from time to time, of Barcelona.
When the lakes are frozen and the engines won’t turn over,
when no letters from friends inhabit the mailbox
and my own words stick in my teeth,
when I can’t sleep or I sleep too much,
then I summon visions of Barcelona.

I know people who’ve been to Barcelona.
They leave the prairie towns of Minnesota,
fly into the dawn, then land at golden evening
on an azure shore of the Mediterranean,
ready to dine on octopus and saffron.
Sometimes they bring me back a small, bright trinket.

I have never been to enchanting Barcelona,
nor seen clay mushrooms soar cathedral-wise
(inspired ambition eternally unfinished);
I cannot pronounce my name in Catalan.
But I can imagine walking those sun-baked streets,
glazed mosaics glinting with shattered logic,

realigning scattered pieces in new pictures,
reminding broken hearts of future beauty.
It is good to have a place I will never go,
like Oz but better, a thriving foreign city,
where real life unfolds serene without me.
Sé que encanta Barcelona. Barcelona me encantó.

Leslie Schultz

(Image of Barcelonain mosaic from photo in the public domain)

Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

April 7, 2017 Poem: “At Home, after April the First”

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 9:40am

At Home after April the First
(for My Great-grandmother, Katherine Hinman Williamson Schultz)
I remember 521 Broad Street,
that solid, brown, two-story house you built
with Emil, local pharmacist. Bridegroom
and bride, yet already quite adult,
were you—zaftig Edwardian thirty-
something—carried over the new threshold
into the hallway and polished music room?

Here is an invitation, on thick cream stock,
to your wedding. It floated for years around
that snug-built but lofty house on the bank
of the Menasha River, was somehow washed
here, to me, in the next century. And
another card announcing when town folk
could call. To announce your new rank

as a married woman, your calling card:
this one, the smallest, in thin gothic script.
A triplet of transformation. You grew
fifty years older there, went from plump to lank,
always loving (if not Emil) then a good joke,
a witty gesture or phrase turned neat,
even, Kate, when the joke was on you.

Leslie Schultz

Some years ago, I wrote a long post about this great-grandmother–part of a series of four–and there is a poem in my collection about the house she built that mentions her piano and her son and daughter-in-law. This morning, I realized, it was high time that she had her own poem.


Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

April 6, 2017 Poem: “A Bowl of Blackberries”

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 7:19am

A Bowl of Blackberries

Like its very distant cousin, the crisp and alabaster lotus,
the blackberry sinks roots deep in moist sand and mud;
but instead of a long, pure, central shaft rising
to support a single porcelain-white bowl filled with calm light,
the blackberry unspools its prickling brambles laterally—
meters and meters of looping, minute red thorns
spun headlong on tough, green cables resistant to pruning, each burning
with a myriad of fruit. Some I now see resting here:
a heap of honeyed coals, and each one alive with embers,
clusters of summer fire, alight with understory
of blood-purpled cordial, precious as caviar or eyesight or
fireflies; like justice outpacing mercy, each delivering
its complex cluster of sweet but stinging juice
with the prophetic bitter wood of seed.

Leslie Schultz

This poem started from looking more closely at things I see every day in my dining room and kitchen. I went to bed last night and awoke dreaming of blackberries, lotuses, and light.

Hope your day is full of sweet surprises!


Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

April 5, 2017 Poem: “Maple, Sky, Clouds”

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 5:24am

Maple, Sky, Clouds

White dappled blue, tapped by red—
looking up at the spring sky
upends my human head.
I don’t imagine I now can fly;

I feel as though I’m falling
into a welcoming well;
that something or someone is calling
or ringing a silver bell,

inviting me downward, and deeper
than I’ve ever ventured before—
Like Alice, I’m falling steeper
than the earth’s magnetic core,

and I’ll finally get to the bottom
of something I need to know,
where something waits, wise and solemn,
beneath this sweet vertigo.

Leslie Schultz

I find it both nerve-wracking and exhilarating to write a new poem and make it public on the same day. It helps if I regard it in a painterly way, as a sketch or a plein-air study. Today’s poem was inspired by these images I took yesterday in our garden, and, despite the formal differences, by the NaPoWriMo prompt inspired by Mary Oliver. (The NaPoWriMo site has a link to a rare interview with her.)

Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

April 4, 2017 Poem: “Rain on Mars”

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 9:46am

Rain on Mars

They all say it’s impossible.
Our weather wizards agree:
it’s as highly implausible
as a mesmerizing story,

or blue wisps of lyric
glued to scaffolded iron,
some scrambled chimeric
with the head of a lion.

Cold spring times on Mars
blows with blossoms of rust.
When you reach for the stars,
what you’ll find is: just dust.

Those are the facts
for what they are worth.
For magical acts
down here on Earth,

if you’d rather ponder
how things might look,
then climb up over yonder,
and dive into a book.

Leslie Schultz

This sculpture, just a few blocks from my house, is one I see most days. It inspires me, and I have been contemplating a poem about it for many months. Not this poem!  A deeper, more reflective, true-science under-girded epic was what I imagined. This actual silly set of verses was inspired by the sculpture’s name and its siting. Perhaps I can write the one I imagine in the future.

Mars has long fascinated me, too. It was thrilling to send through NASA’s visionary program of poetry and probes, one of my haiku about the red planet on the MAVEN mission. And it was fiction–specifically reading Ray Bradbury’s classic, The Martian Chronicles, when I was in middle school–that ignited my imagination about the cosmos. Still not much of an astrophysicist, but I can identify Mars in the sky these days and tell a planet from a star.

Here on Earth, I feel very glad and so lucky to live in a place that values art and science–a place of the joy in liberal arts. This sculpture project, fourth one in a series created by students at the Northfield High School, was funded by a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) with money made possible by Minnesota’s visionary Legacy Amendment, and supported enthusiastically by the City and the people of Northfield.

So, today, if I can’t be Martian, color me Minnesotan!


Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Categories: Citizens

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