Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Alaskan artist Ellie Schmidt (whom I met in residence at Elsewhere)is one of the publishers of this zine. One of my pieces is in this issue. Try it, you'll like it:
BLURB.COM
In this Selkie Zine we ask our contributors to tell us about the tools they use for finding their way in the world.

Friday, February 15, 2019


"She Who Hears the Cries of the World", originally published by Peter Anderson in "Pilgrimage: Story, Place, Spirit, Witness" has just been accepted into an anthology called "We Are the Gift." It's Kickstarter funded so I'll be linking it here when the campaign starts. Always great to recycle a good story!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Calling Them In (excerpt)

 
 Published in "Messages from Hidden Lake. Vol. 8" Alamosa Public Library Literary & Art Collection, Dec. 2016


     “Honey...?”
     “I gotta tell you something.” He rocked forward, standing to accentuate the message. “something happened last night while you guys were sleeping.”
     “What?”
     “There was a bright light right outside the window, there by the bed - it woke me up. I couldn't see anything out the window but light, because the source was over the house. So I went out on the deck to look. There was a brilliant white ball...” He stretched out his arms to indicate the size, “...and it was hovering right over the bedroom!”
     “Oh, my god! What did you do?”
     “Nothing! I was petrified. I could only stand there and watch it! Beams of light, four, I think, came out of it and one shone on me. It raised up a little, then shot straight up and disappeared! I came back inside with you guys and have been sitting here awake ever since. But it hasn't come back.”
     “Should we call someone?”
     “What would be the point? People see crazy stuff all the time. But I gotta say, I've never seen anything like this. It scared me silly.”
     “That explains why I had that weird feeling of being watched all last evening.”
     “Yeah. What if it comes back?”
     “What if it's after the baby?”
     “I'm staying awake tonight, or sleeping in the living room.”
     “Good. I probably won't sleep either. I want to talk to someone though. I'll ask the neighbors if they saw anything.”
     “That'd be alright. You don't have to go into detail.”
     “What time did it happen?”
     “Between two and three a.m., I think.”
     “No one up then, but it won't hurt to ask around. I'm gonna call Mama, too. She'll have an idea.”
     Crazy as my Mama is, she always seemed to know what was happening, especially if it was in a galaxy far far away. The morning air was clear and clean and typical. I felt good. The uneasiness had vanished like a nightmare in the sunlight. Only excitement remained. I checked with the neighbors; everyone had been asleep; no reports of strange lights. So we decided to stow the story away to be retold around a campfire. Then we called Mama on speaker phone.
     “So Krishna, you didn't get the rifle and shoot it down?” she asked. That, of course, would have been her first instinct.
     “Hell, no, Mom. You don't go and attack something like that! What if it returned fire?” Funny, you'd think with all his video game practice he'd have taken the gun outside with him. I'm glad my husband can keep his head.
     “I guess you're right, son. Well, there is someone you should tell. I'm sure they'd like to know. The SETI conference is in your town all week. You didn't know?”
     “No, Mama,” I sighed. “I don't pay attention to all the weirdos who come through here.”
      Mama would have known, of course. She was up on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “There must be intelligent life somewhere,” she'd say, “cause there ain't none on this planet.” 



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sweat Lodge


Published in E.P.I.C. magazine, Durango edition, Nov/Dec 2016



SWEAT LODGE
by Winter Ross

We throw cedar on the rocks,
Breathe and Bless ourselves and Pray
For each other and the World.

Water Pourer calls the Buffalo.
From its horn, he dashes water on the glowing stones.
Even though the earth vibrated beneath our feet as we stood
Near the line of tobacco linking fire to buffalo-skull altar,
The horn runs dry.
A river rock cries and cracks in the hot dark.
We have never known him, and so
Buffalo does not come.

Fire Tender calls the Stones.
“Aho! Welcome, Grandfathers!”
I pray only the prayers in my heart.
I don't need tobacco, lectures on magic, feathers or judgement.
I need the smell of copal: its sweet scent rising on the breath of the rock people,
Sweat and heat to ease the ache in my back and
The voice of the Singer to take me to the Other World and so
I sing only the songs I know.

Drummer calls the Bear.
I imagine him ripping through this cloth dome.
Sitting in the line of power, we would receive his claws.
What would we do
With our bloody tattoo?
Flaunt the wounds as a badge of honor like the flesh offered at Sundance?
This is hubris, and so
Bear does not come.

Nephew prays for his vision;
He is praying for the healing of his Earthly eyes.
Grandmother prays for everyone's vision;
She is praying for our Spirit eyes.
Together, we call for the Door;
The night mist is sliced into moonlit ribbons and I See:
A Bruja silhouetted in the doorway of a medicine tipi,
Dark light streaming from her fingertips -
Goddess of Past and Future: the Answer to white man's Christ.

No one calls the Spider,
But she has come.
We sit protected in her embrace.
She crouches over us in the sweat lodge,
Eight white willow legs arched into a star shaped web,
Her body is a translucent orb at the Center of the Universe.
As the drum begins its song, I see her heart beating.
We are Children in her trembling nest.

Throw cedar on the rocks,
Breathe and Bless yourselves and Pray
For each other and the World.



Sunday, October 16, 2016

She Who Hears the Cries of the World (excerpt)

A version of this memoir was published in the literary magazine, “Pilgrimage: Story, Place, Spirit, Witness”. Volume 31, Issue 1, Crestone, Colorado, 2006

     “Welcome! Welcome! Come in and sit down!” A monk in T-shirt and shorts bowed formally, giggled, then gave us both hugs. His shirt was decorated with a portrait of Yoda, the wise little master from Star Wars, and the words, “May the Force Be With You.” I couldn't imagine him in a long black robe. He rubbed his shaved head. “Is something wrong?”
     “Put me to work!” I pleaded. “Give me something to do. I can't sit.”
     “Sorry, hon. That's what we do here!”
     I tried to laugh, but I felt too dried out.
     “You won't believe the morning we had!” Boyfriend interrupted cheerfully. “This woman is a hero!” The other two monks in the kitchen put down their knives and hurried around the counter to hear his story. Their salad preparations would be postponed by speculations of exactly which mountain pass had claimed the life of the bicyclist. Surrounded by craggy peaks that regularly took the lives of climbers and hikers, they were keeping score. Boyfriend had hooked his audience. “They musta shocked the guy five times...”
     I backed out of the kitchen, left the performance behind, and entered the open space of the monastery's main hall. Giant ponderosa logs formed the ceiling vigas. The vigas supported a long room that jutted from an earth berm to the open hillside. I blinked in the white light coming in through the windows. The entire southern wall was glass. Black paper cutouts of swallows were taped high on each pane to warn real birds away. A painful crack, running from ceiling to floor in one panel, was either testament to the futility of communicating with nature or a memorial to a pre-cutout casualty. I could see past the lawn, beyond a tangled garden of herbs and poppies, to the sagebrush floor of the valley. If I squinted off into the distance, I could just make out the Great Sand Dunes nestled at the foot of the mountains.
     Silent children. Seas of sand. Corridors of dreams. Bleeding mountains. Gold for fools. A dead man's kiss. Suddenly I felt like a bird hitting the window, feathers scattered, stunned. The light flared in rhythm with my pounding head. I had to shut my eyes and turn away.
     When I opened them again, I saw a figure begin to emerge from the shadow of the north wall. It seemed to move toward me as my eyes became accustomed to the dimness. It took my complete attention, finally, and filled my frame of vision. Before me stood a life sized statue poised on a low pedestal. Kuan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion, gazed serenely at me from the darkness. The lustrous eyes were not heavy-lidded and inward looking like those of the Buddha. Instead, she stared steadily out from the shade to the harsh landscape beyond the monastery. The flowing robes, cast in black patina bronze, glowed with polished detail. Her left hand held a budding lotus. Prayer beads trailed down the folds of her gown and ornate hems lapped like waves around one bare foot. Her right hand held a small pouch from which flowed a stream of water. Slender fingers opened gracefully toward the ground in a gesture that suggested both offering and acceptance. She seemed to be waiting patiently for whatever the desert brings. Waiting, with water, for whoever crosses the pass.
     I felt the peace of this Bodhisattva flow over me like a cool wave. The images of the panting wildlife officer, the little boy wide-eyed with horror, the trembling hands of the paramedic, the young man swooning in my arms, and the tears of the thin man, faded as I met the deep gaze of the goddess known as “She Who Hears the Cries of the World.” I brought my palms together before my face and bowed. The taste of salt tears brought me back to myself.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Tattoo

Published in "12x12", Coastal Carolina University, 2010


        She studies him from the dark silence of the passenger seat. He is wearing the Night: black jeans, black sweater with sleeves pushed up to the elbow, tiny star of a diamond in his earlobe. His pale profile and outstretched arm glow, moon-like, in the green dashboard light. Left wrist draped across the steering wheel, his hand falls languorously into the shadows, defined only by the red coal of a cigarette.
     Blue tattoos jump from the white skin of his forearm: the Hindu sanskrit Om, the Taoist yin yang, and on the inside (along the soft part where you'd slide a needle) the Druid design she'd once planned for her own arm. He'd had it inked into his flesh just as she'd drawn it years ago on vellum, with one exception; the intertwined deer had become hounds. She sighs.
     His face turns. Eyebrows lift his eyes – a ravaged blue, bright even in the car's gloom – over the edges of his glasses. The thick lenses seem a paradoxical accessory to the black leather motorcycle jacket on the seat between them, to the copper beard, to the fiery sweep of hair she imagines might sear her if she touches it...
     He leans toward her. She smells cinnamon oil and tobacco. She envisions the golden god, Shiva, dancing for her, offering flames of desire and destruction.The auburn brows arch higher. “What?”
     “Just taking a last look at you,” she murmurs. She closes her eyes, frees her long hair over the back of the seat, and stretches into repose. He turns back to the road, satisfied with her answer.
     The future is no more than a thin gray line of sunrise beyond the windshield.




Tuesday, November 3, 2015



Aspens' discarded clothing 
Golden ornaments
On the blue arms of the spruce




Classes in Haiku and Flash Fiction
Discover how to express the essence of life and memory in the ancient Japanese form of poetry called haiku and the contemporary prose poetry of flash fiction. Our time includes a walk in nature for inspiration as well as writing time and group critique. This is a weekend workshop. One day workshops in either genre are also available. contact Winter at: wintersweb@gmail.com or see more on the website: www. ceremonialvisions.com