"To bring the poem into the world / is to bring the world into the poem."

Monday, January 23, 2012



While I have been only modestly financially scared by the recession, as an empath, I feel the horror of it deeply and that experience of horror has stemmed largely from the visual assault of its impact. Living in Florida, I see the recession everywhere I turn. There’s the roadside scene of yet another house in foreclosure. Another glimpse of an unfinished development, its condos enmeshed in vines growing out of unframed windows. And there to the left, another line forming at the food shelf as the doors open for the day. It’s unending. And what the eye sees, the heart feels with an enduring pain. For the first time in my writing life of nearly 50 years, I was moved to take action. That action ended up being Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%, which I co-edited with activist-poet Dwain Wilder – a labor of love that just this month came to fruition with its publication by FootHills Publishing.



I’ve long been a plein-air poet who prefers whenever possible to write in the company of non-human nature. The recession and its dire impact on the people of this country, both the poor and the middle class, stranger and so many, many friends, has made my desire to commune with the simpler beings that are trees, birds, etc., an imperative for my soul’s sake. I am more and more often desperate to escape the latest recession news story or Facebook testimony of financial loss…and find a time and place in the wilds to heal so I can continue writing both “nature” poetry and political poetry.

Karla’s photograph of a burrowing owl in Far Tortuga.



Scherzi Sequence: Accessorize
the Tent I Occupy

After eons of reptiles,
my good taste leans toward limbic.

Nylon walls & dome do make
a cave for slithering dreams.

I invite snakes inside.
I eat with them off the floor.

I occupy this shelter,
half-human, half-tortoise.

After eons of rodents,
I still nest in marsh mouse fur.

My cot & sleeping bag
do comfort armadillos.

I envision the soft pillow
world of artful owls.

The wild motif serves its purpose:
I am animal.


I count sheep at midnight.
Recite poems at 1 a.m.
Fret about my to-do list at 2.
Agonize at 3 over the book
that’s going to die of disinterest.
Clock clicks 4:
the wide-awake litany
of hydrofracking, censorship,
the brutality of greed, poverty,
the brutality of…
the brutality of….
By 5? Atomize. Wait.

Inconspicuous, I feel
I am anything but.
It won’t be long now.
Another sleepless night will end.
Daylight comes to their crosshairs.

Occupy Fort Myers Quincouplets,
Reversed for the Cause into Hopelets

[Curator's Note: Click on image to see larger image]

Letter from the Editor

I make a last call for action
on Facebook and LinkedIn: Submit now.

Time is of the essence to the movement
as time always is. I channel

Ginsberg to howl, Ferlinghetti to roller-
coaster us into archetypal dream.

I implore Snyder to bow
from his mountainside, embracing

us in spirit in these pages.
We shall Occupy the Universe

with peace & love & unity & truth & courage &….
We continue to believe in better things.

We even put it in writing
into a protest anthology

so the beat & the vigil go on.
Out of many voices – 99 – one.

I part my lips. You follow suit.
We kiss the book.

The 99% Guarantee

Strictly blue collar, luckily
unionized, I labor as Editor #13.

My job order for this shift
is to ensure something specific

but utterly preposterous is written.
The next poem rolling along

the conveyor belt to my station opens
           There once was a doggie named Shelby

           whom Occupy Denver elected their leader.
           She sits. She stay. She shakes paws

           with City Council pols, the police chief,
           and pees on their plush wool carpet.

           Don’t sic ‘em, lick ‘em, atta girl.
For a protest lyric it will do.

I stamp it factory-approved.
Another one gets shipped off

to the warehouse of quirky odes
for the revolution to Occupy.



Award-winning poet, National Park Artist-in-Residence, and assistant editor and book reviewer of The Centrifugal Eye, Karla Linn Merrifield has had work published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has six books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry, and her new chapbook, The Urn, from Finishing Line Press. Forthcoming from Salmon Press is her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North. And from Finishing Line Press Merrifield’s The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica. She just completed co-editing the newly released Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.

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