Denver (Last Blog Post): March 8 – 20, 2019

We chilled and rested up for the first week back in Denver.  We unpacked the wine we had traded our handwritten poems for in Sebastopol/Monte Rio, sorted books and I got my paperwork in order for next year’s taxes. I reentered the rhythm of taking care of my mom.  Then, wanting to celebrate our “We did it!” moment, we organized a little brunch.  We had our great California wine from Random Ridge, a 2016 Fortunata red, Barbara’s Bill Clinton recipe for quinoa salad, and the amazing, nearby French Trompeau Bakery right down the street.  It all came together beautifully with my mom, Junior Burke, Jenny Dorn, Denie Orr, Joanne Weiss, Barbara and myself around the table.  A rollicking crew.  It was the perfect toast to our reading adventure! (MO)



I said to Maureen’s mother, De: Before we started our trip, I was mostly alone. On the road, I had to get used to being with Maureen all the time; now I must get used to not being with Maureen.  We all laughed.

On my first night here, I dreamed that I was my father, driving his car, and I was myself at the same time. He was going home, finally alive again, but it was me, too home, but here I was at Maureen’s house.  And that night I slept so deeply, finally after lots of restless sleep on the road.

Maureen’s mother is fragile, tiny and agile. She climbs the stairs and goes for walks. Her hair is snow white and her eyes are hazel, a little blurry from aging.  She is about the age my mother would be if she had lived, rather than dying at 37.  De never smoked and she was physically active her whole life. She had three children, was born on a farm, drove a tractor, worked at many jobs, including at the racetrack, riding and walking the races horses after a race to cool them out and stretch their legs.   Quite a life she has had, growing up without electricity, telephones, running water, cars and now living in our tech age in Denver.   She looks into my eyes and tells me all about how the town where she has lived for the last 30 years, Truckee, CA in the Sierras has changed. I enjoy watching her and Maureen making dinner together. (BH)

March 16 2019

At the brunch today, it was great to give Junior Burke a big hug. When I was teaching in the low-residence MFA program at Naropa, Junior was in charge of the program and we had lots of contact.  He has a new novel that I’m looking forward to reading, A Thousand Eyes (Winchester Press, UK).  While the group ate lunch, we talked about our writing projects, our cars, politics, the floods and fires, people we knew, our reading trip, etc. When I talked about my journey in the carnival south, Junior told us how he had worked in a carnival too, running a game. It was great to meet up with Jenny Dunbar Dorn again and friends of Maureen’s, Joanne and Denie who owned a literary bookstore in Denver.  (BH)

Dennie, Joanne, Jenny, Junior, Barbara, De (Photo by MO)

MO and Denie Orr (Photo by BH)


March 18, 2019

We met Steve Katz and Jane Wodening, both writers and longtime friends of Maureen’s, at Angelo’s Taverna, an Italian restaurant in Denver. Barbara has also known Steve for several years, and was happy to meet Jane. Steve brought along a book he just received, from Roberta Neiman of her black and white photographs, The Magnetic North: Summers with Extraordinary People, and text from when she, Steve and his family, as well as other artists and musicians summered regularly in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.  The photos celebrated Robert Frank, JoAnne Akalaitis and the Mabou Mines Troup, Joan Jonas, Philip Glass, Steve, their children and families and others building their own living shelters in the then wild hills.  We passed the book around, looking at the photos while Steve told tales about their many summers there.

Barbara talked with Jane about Jane’s book, The Lady Orangutan and Other Stories, especially one story that Barbara liked a lot,  “Of the Unknown,”a story about when Jane and Stan Brakhage and their first baby were traveling and living in a station wagon, taking back roads across country.  It was a frightening story of unbearable hot weather, an undependable car, wilderness and a severe cop, so frightening that Jane said she was frightened just writing it.

After eating pizza and salads, in the parking lot, we said our goodbyes (for now). (BH & MO)

Above photos by BH

Jane, Barbara, Steve, Maureen (Photo by Waitress)

March 19, 2019

We had our last reading for this trip at the Mercury Cafe for the F Bomb Series.  It was a crowded room; we were happy when Jane Wodening joined us at our table.

(photos by BH)

We were introduced by Leah Rogin-Roper. Leah talked about how she, Nancy Stohlman, Kona Morris and others were in Barbara’s MFA class on flash fiction at Naropa, and how a group of students from that class started their magazine, Flash Forward and that was also how this reading series began. The event started with three open readings, one by Kona Morris,(a past student of Maureen’s, too); she read a short short story she wrote using one of Barbara’s prompts.


Photos by BH

Our featured co-reader Crisosto Apache read his poems; he is the author of GENESIS (Lost Alphabet). Then we read our short-short stories, trading back and forth.  Maureen read earlier stories from Hearts in Space, and Barbara read from her novel, from Cities & Memory, A Swift Passage and newer work.  This event was perfect for bringing our on-the-road trip to its final ending, in a carnivalesque room with wall paintings, lush multi-colored draperies and twinkling lights.



Photos by Leah Rogin-Roper

Collin Schuster came up after we read with his long treasured copy of Hearts in Space for Maureen to sign.  Collin is the publisher of Positive Magnets, an exciting new zine.   Later he joined us for a bite to eat and conversation in another restaurant section of the Mercury.

Waitress photo / BH, MO, and Collin

At home, we finished our last blog post, the end of our two month odyssey; in the morning Barbara is packing up and heading back to New York, with a one-week stop in Kalamazoo/Detroit.

March 20, 2019 Am:


Addendum: Blog Post by Pat Nolan

Into The Heart Of Wetness

Addendum: email and poem Collin Schuster sent us today–

Dear Maureen and Barbara,
It was sweet to meet up with you last night! Thanks for the company.
Most Best,

At Mercury Cafe “irresistible waves”

I was carrying the stone of
Posidippus in my pocket
but I lost track of it
in the aisle of swans
(books) (The Prince and the Pea)
(Lowriders in Space) I’m lost in space
(Hearts in Space)

(Barbara and Maureen)
tell me more about the visible sun
and about your friends
the seed lasers generate
over there by the park benches
where the kid chess champions
swap rooks

I’ve unasked questions
like how to condense the hour into a sky river
to know about D.G. Wills
(Only Lovers Left Alive) Detroit
places you’ve seen

meeting w/ Diane
and conversations with Bobbie

you’re all gracious diamond minds
you’ll get to New Orleans

and radiant brown eyes of mesas
the tools of the Mesozoic
when St. Paddy’s day saps clouds

when you condense the steam
it releases Charlie Musselwhite Energy
the biography on Houdini is being held
I thought we lost it but we didn’t
we charged the boom box upstairs

“You my all night study, and you my
midnight, my midnight green”
Telephone Woodland Pattern India
Karen Uhlenbeck wins the Abel Prize
eat your heart out Posidippus!