Paintings and drawings

Drawing of Afghan women by Latifa

 

piled up in a corner

Art reflecting life

In Berkeley

In Afghanistan

In San Francisco

Ink sketch of San Francisco by Pamela Collett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a refugee camp

All originals

Drawing by Afghan girl, Nafisa, age 13, in a refugee camp

All true statements

in different styles

Different mediums

Different lives

By different artists

Will they survive

Will anyone remember them

And what they sacrificed?

 

I place my computer

in its purple jacket

Carefully on the floor beside the art

out of the way

I must have a clear path at night

Remember

the secret to a long life is

hold on to the handrail

Do not fall

on your way to the toilet

with the nightly insomnia of age

And you sometimes sleep walk

Keep the path clear

Always

Hold on to the hand rail

even when there is none

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written at Life Before Death,  Poetry Workshop with Paul Collis, 17 April 2019

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

 

Dead possum

Dead thylacine

Dead people

How to be alive

even when dead

How to continue

with no story

no land

How should I bury

the dead possum

in my front garden

How to show respect

How is it that today

this very day

there is death at my door

and on the radio

a program on

environmentally appropriate burial

listening while on my way

to Life Before Death

a poetry workshop

 

We need to change everything

The way we live

The way we die

The thylacine

could not change

trapped by invasion

The koala

cannot change

trapped by deforestation

We are trapped

By coal

By corporate greed

By subservient politicians

We are trapped

But trying to break free

 

Young people on strike

Urging us to escape

To do so requires change

and the changelessness

of indigenous cultures

who lived

with the land

with the animals

with the plants

with the rivers

Too late for that

But we must break out

And go back down

Down down

into the deep past

Embrace the deep past

For a renewed future

 

I do not know how

to bury

the dead possum

in my front garden

Perhaps I will learn today

The thylacine will teach me

Thank you for the lesson

I hope I have learned

Dead possum found in my front garden

 

Musical instruments from Kenya

Post script:

I did bury the possum

I read this poem.

I dug a hole in my front garden.

I used music makers from Africa

to send the possum on its way.

 

Your comments are always most welcome.

Please check out my other blog about the

novel I’m writing.  https://familyandfiction.com/

Thank you!

 

 

 

How can I possibly

sleep

with too much

to think

to read

I greedily swallow

poem after poem

by Kenneth Patchen

Reading as fast

as I possibly can

before the words

escape off the page

I grab them

and swallow

hungry for more

Words exploding

Poem sketch by Kenneth Patchen

inside me

I won’t let them escape

Word after word

Non sense

sensible

Ill logic

logical

My socks

have a hole in one

The shock of the cold

tile floor

I want to write

more

and more

Such is life

 

 

San Francisco Sunset, from Oakland Shoreline Park

 

What have you

noticed

observed

learned

after three weeks

in Oakland California?

 

Can you live in two places at once?

Can you accept a divided life,

bringing together past and present?

You thought you had to place your allegiance

with only one

with Australia

after struggling to accept and be accepted

You evaded and avoided

the other country because of your politics

and the comfort level you had achieved

living in Australia

 

Returning to the USA

motivated

by your mother

to distribute her ashes

on the beach at Pt. Reyes

according to her last wishes

And to help your friend Martha

in the momentous change

from an academic life

to so-called retirement

Where should she live?

Where would she accept

and be accepted?

 

You returned to Oakland, California

for three short weeks

Getting a snapshot of the lives

of past friends

and current family

After initial culture shock

living in a smaller space

with less autonomy

more people

more stress

more cars

more people

you settled in

Found a pace

and a space that suited the current you

You can be both

Just like you have two passports

You can incorporate both

the past and the present

 

Returning to Australia

on the bus ride

from the Sydney airport

back to Canberra

looking at

clouds upon clouds

that I lack words to describe

rolling hills

gum trees with grey-green leaves

I am calm and comfortable

I embrace my life here

without turning my back

on previous lives in the USA

 

Brindabellas, near Canberra, Australia

Celebrating! My mother is floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean where she wanted to be. She wrote her wishes down and we followed them.

My mother Bette Jo Hutchison Silver died 1 March 2011 in her bed, in her home at 623 Greenway Terrace, Brookside, Kansas City, Missouri. I was there. She had asked me the day before if she were dying. I said yes, and reassured her that all was well.

            Bette Jo Hutchison Silver (date 1996?)

Just before she died she opened her eyes, looked at me. I smiled and told her I loved her, gave her a kiss and she was gone. My son, Nathan Collett, was with us. Her grandson, Lawrence Andre, and his son Henry had said good-bye earlier that day.

My mom left written instructions that she was to be cremated and her ashes spread at Pt. Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, California.   When I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, my mom and I frequently visited Pt. Reyes. One time, we backpacked up a steep hillside to Sky Camp and camped out together in a small tent.

When my nephew Lawrence found out about her wishes, he asked me to wait to distribute her ashes until he could come to California. So I brought her ashes to Oakland, California and set up a small altar to her.

 

Me in Oakland California with altar to Bette Hutchison Silver

Lawrence lives in Mission, Kansas, just outside Kansas City, Missouri. When my mother died, I was living in Nairobi, Kenya. I moved to Canberra, Australia in 2014. My mother’s ashes waited patiently for us in Oakland, California.

Finally, eight years after her death, we did it. In March 2019, I came from Canberra, Australia. Lawrence with his son Henry came from Kansas City. We met in Oakland, California. On Saturday 13 March 2019, we drove to Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

 

Bette Hutchison Silver altar at Limantur Beach Pt. Reyes National Seashore

 

Lawrence Andre and me at Limantur Beach with Bette’s ashes

A blue sky day, warm and windy at Limantur Beach. I read poems and tributes to my mom from family and friends. Then we opened up the box, took out the bag with her ashes and waded into the sea. We took turns throwing handfuls of her ashes into the Pacific Ocean. I threw one handful for my friend Martha. The wind carried the ashes up in an arc, then they dropped down into the ocean.

Opening the box with Bette’s ashes, me, Henry and Lawrence Andre

 

Me, Henry, and Lawrence wading into the ocean at Limantur Beach

Lawrence suggested that we fill the box that had held her ashes with sand and objects on the beach, including a sand dollar, part of a crab shell, and some small rocks. Now the altar honoring Bette Jo Hutchison Silver is back on the shelf in Oakland, California. Inside the box are memories from our day at Limantur Beach.

 

We remember you Bette.

We miss you!

 

My mom Bette Hutchison Silver died in her bed on her sleeping porch in Kansas City, MIssouri, on 1 March 2011. I still miss her. Her photo is on my desk and on my computer desktop.

She had written a request that her ashes be distributed at Pt. Reyes National Seashore, just north of San Francisco, California. My mom and I used to go hiking and back packing there.

Her ashes are in Oakland California where I made a small altar in her memory. My nephew Lawrence requested I wait to distribute her ashes until he could join us. That will happen soon! Lawrence and his son Henry are coming to Oakland. Jim and I will be there. On the 16th or 17th of March we will distribute my mom’s ashes at Pt. Reyes.

We miss you Bette!

 

Seeing the mug

Bette’s Ocean View Diner

I think of

my mother

Bette Hutchison Silver

 

I am the connection

of every member

of our family

to my mother

Bette Hutchison Silver (date 1996?)

I am becoming

the connection

to my father

 

Constructing that connection

began seven years ago

after my mother’s death

 

Discovering documents

hidden in her attic

 

Researching online

to write

a book

that is and is not

the story of my father

 

So remember

through me

you are connected

and ever shall be

Greetings to all who read and follow this blog! I started it in 2011 in homage to my mother Bette Hutchison Silver.

Now I’m onto a new stage… and a new blog… www.familyandfiction.com about the process of researching writing and rewriting an historical novel based on events in my father’s life,  W. Lon Hutchison.

Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time is the story of Lew, a teenage runaway from Oklahoma, who overcomes drug addiction, mental illness and family betrayal to become a successful entrepreneur.

I hope you will follow my new blog.

Thank you! Pamela Collett RN 2

Haiku walk during contour 556 biennial public art festival

Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra Australia

21 October 2018

 

pushing a stroller

upright man

Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra Australia

gazing at lake

companion

walks head down

 

circulating

tree fluff

from foreign trees

 

brown leaves

white fluff

floating

dull green lake

 

red shirt

red pants

green meadow

two men

far apart

 

sculpture

unmoving

landscape

changing

 

large boat

small lake

artificial

 

headless

floating

dead magpie

 

Trash assembled

people attracted

 

Snake in tree

hanging down

tempted

 

White floating fluff

brown slow moving stream

 

zig zag in stream

sacred submerged

 

zig zag above

sacred beneath

Sculpture

minimal

stream

reflected

 

Cat on a leash

owner trained

 

Long dress

high heels

out of step

by the lake

Why can’t I read

novels

prose

as I once did

Devouring stories

lives

characters

immersion

I open a book

and close it

then another

and close it

within minutes

 

Is it the fault of poets

such as Clive James

Where every word counts

causing

prose

novels

to fall flat?

 

Or Samuel Wagan Watson

Ali Cobby Eckermann

Eleanor Lerman

Kenneth Rexroth

Other poets

names forgotten

sitting on the shelf

to be read and reread

 

Emotions linger

Specific poems

unremembered

Poets’ words

pierce

shine

penetrate

Leaving novels flat

colourless

Spoiled by chance

or choice

 

Now and then

poetry escapes me

the terms foreign

the language English

the context unknown

unwanted

unseen

 

A sometimes thing

poetry’s direct hit

reaching the heart

Pelicans Tucacas Venezuela

 

 

 

 

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