“These poems by California poet Diane Solis glint with distinctive Western light. Like Larry Levis, Solis exhibits her breadth of skill with tightly compressed poems (“Thirst Like This,” “Tigers of Her Imagination”) as well as sprawling suburbanesque narratives (“Bennies,” “Dolphin Skeleton,” “Cigarettes”). Solis’ work pushes the reader past California’s  chardonnay-tinged Romanticism to face the mirrored glare of the land “east of Eden.” Here, reminiscent of Frank Bidart, we find cancer, industrial accidents, county jails, bars, syringes, internment camps, and mange—all tucked among camellias, quail, chaparral, and peach trees. Solis makes a well-cultivated and rich contribution; she extends the open gesture embodied in California poetry.”

–Rose Marie Berger, poetry editor, Sojourners magazine (

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Today's walking meditation. From the "Compassion and Love" files.


Walking Notes

Writers, some of us, keep a notebook in a pocket. And we make notes when we get a chance, as we walk about the world. Here are some of mine from this morning's walk. Perhaps you'll recognize them in future poems.

You wonder, was it experience that made him so cautious, so afraid?

* * *

The knife you slip into your glove. The flattened fork with sharpened tines you carry like a shiv in your sock.

* * *

The only thing you have to fear is your own active imagination, and your father's, and perhaps falling rocks.

* * *

She holds her pen like a knife, who writes to defend them, women, children, elders, and other sentient beings.

* * *

The Pointer's odd approach. How he sneaks up, from avocet to plover, and digs his feet into the sand to chase them.

* * *

22 pelicans

* * *

Why we find so many claws on the shore. The giant crabs who cut off their claws to save themselves. If humans were crabs, we should all be missing hands.

* * *

How the scent of jasmine is pleasant and subtle like the waves at lowest tide. But gardenia, especially the fake kind, punches me in the face like a shrieking sea witch in a storm, scraping off the skin.

* * *

The tuna can floats along the shore like a small raft for tiny souls.

* * *

Conversation overheard as I walk by:

"I’ve been thinking."

"Thinking long and hard?"

"I'm not thinking long or hard."

* * *

Another conversation:

"She's been a consultant most of her life."

"Well, you know the trouble with consultants, don't you?"


"They come, and they give you all sorts of advice, or whatever. But they never stay."

* * *

I know why the surfers run down to the sea.

* * *

My first dead sea lion. When the tide comes in, reaching up over the berm to take the dead sea lion home.

* * *

Ropes twisted in the kelp on the the ribbons she wound through her hair.

That's it for today, my friends.


Writing Prompts for the Weekend Writer

1. Choose a word from the list below, or another word. Write about it for three to five minutes. As in all journaling, don't worry about spelling or punctuation:


2. What is in the trunk of your car (and/or glove box)? What does it say about you? (five minutes) Now take a look in your refrigerator or pantry. Same questions.

3. Something you never said to someone who is no longer here--something you wish you had told them. (five-ten minutes)

4. Tell me about your worst day in a relationship, and/or your best day in the same relationship.

5. If none of these prompts grab you, write about one of the photos in "Are You Dreaming the Dream? Or is the Dream Dreaming You?" below.

New post coming. See you soon!


Are You Dreaming the Dream, Or Is the Dream Dreaming You?

What's the difference between seeing an illusion and being delusional? I listened to a CD of Pema Chodron's last night. She spoke about the difference between illusion and delusion.

Illusion, she explained, is all of us dreaming the same dream. If I understood her correctly, I pick up a ball, and others see me pick it up. I throw it through a window (by accident, of course), and others hear the glass breaking. But we're all dreaming, and it's all the dream.

Delusion, she went on to add, is when you're the only one who sees something, whether others are around or not.

So, what I want to know is: Are mystics and prophets seeing more of the illusion, or do they see behind the curtain, or are they delusional? For your journal/discussion, tell what you think about that. Or...

Choose one of these photos. Using descriptive language, tell what you see. Now enter the picture, entering the dream, and have another look around. Use two or more of your senses and tell what's going on, who else is there with you, what's happening out of the camera's view.

Finally, are you dreaming the dream, or is someone dreaming you?