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Glenna Luschei: California Poets Part 4, Four Poems

Glenna Luschei

December 29th, 2021

California Poets: Part IV

Glenna Luschei

Four Poems

Canada Goose

We called him Wellington: his long black boots. He knocked on our door with his beak.

He took off in the dark flight of geese over the Lake. We expect him back. Next time goslings?

Branta canadenis


When we lived in that redwood house built ‘round an oak tree, the children gathered at the kitchen table. custody battles complete. I stepped outside. I couldn’t take the merriment. Their giddy relief scraped down my spine.

The branch next to me held a mother possum, four joeys on her back, my own four jostling inside the house.

I knew her babies tiny as honey bees, twenty to a litter. On birth they crawled into her pouch.

Four of them on my back, I barely provided. I lived in the wilderness of marsupials, my pouch their safe house.

I learned what it meant to scavenge as an animal, to know the slaughter hour, to be born white.

How did I survive? We got through. I go back inside, bring them bowls of popcorn.

Meeting Moriarty

Your language sounds like the water in which you tried to drown me at Pie de la Cuesta. Always water, always children, always in Spanish, your ghost comes to haunt me, to taunt me.

You taught me duende, told me I was a fighter worthy of your wrath, told me my heart would get me.

Fifty-two years ago they sent a diver out after me. The waves tossed me but I could still see my son on the shore. Thrashing, I watched him getting smaller and smaller, I couldn’t drown. I had to drive him to Little League ten years later in a town where we had not yet lived. I gave that swimmer my last hundred pesos, sodden, hidden in my bra.

Next time on the Rio Grande, birth of a daughter in El Paso, deep vein thrombosis. I ran the household from a wheelchair. I had cases to solve. You’re playing with me, Moriarty. You wanted to save me for yourself.

I should have known we would meet in Cuba, when I bit the dust in Matanzas. The doctor said I would die if I got on that plane. One week in hospital, my son flew me home first class. Your ghost loved that, Moriarty. If only I could wait fifty-two more years, I know you’d give me one more scare.

The Fabulous Planet Uranus —for my birthday, February 11

Like me, Uranus takes eighty-four years to circle the sun. We’re just now winding up, off to a rocky start on to the next orbit. I won’t last that ride. We’re stocking up on provisions anyway. Like me, Uranus lies sideways on its axis. I feel fortunate to be singled out for this quirky ride. I don’t mind sharing my birthday with others. Thomas Edison, for one, also intent

on incandescence, and Burt Reynolds. Uranus, cold, blue and windy, you are the God of the sky. You are the reason I skate on ice.

Author Bio:

Born in Iowa and educated in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, Glenna Luschei holds degrees from the University of Nebraska where she graduated with high distinction and was tapped Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar board. She has lived most of her life in Latin America and the American West. She is now an avocado rancher in Carpinteria, California, and served as a panelist for offering aid to farmers with the USDA, also working as a translator for Spanish-speaking workers. Luschei acted as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts which awarded grants to writers. She completed her PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2005.

In 1967, Luschei moved from Colombia to Albuquerque, with her fourth child under one arm and her first book, Carta al Norte, under the other. In Albuquerque, she established her Solo Press and the magazine Café Solo as an exchange with Latin American writers.

She participated in the New Mexico Poetry in the Schools, was named the D. H. Lawrence Fellow and a grantee of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Her book, Thirty Songs of Dissolution, was published in 1977 by San Marcos Press, Cerrillos. Her retrospective of poetry, Salt Lick, was published in 2009 by West End Press, Albuquerque. Her book, The Sky Is Shooting Blue Arrows, was published in 2014 by the University of New Mexico Press. Her latest book, Zen Duende, a collaboration with Erik Greinke, was the winner of the Pushcart Prize and was published by Presa Press in 2016.

Her books of Spanish translations include those of work by Luis de Góngora y Argote and Sor Juana, Solo Press. Her Solo Press publication of Luis Aleixandre brought her and her husband Bill Horton to Aleixandre's Nobel Prize investiture during their wedding trip in 1977. Some years later, the couple moved back to Bill’s home state of North Carolina. During that time Luschei was awarded a Fortner Prize and an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

After Luschei's move to California, Solo Press added Solo Flight, an activities group supported by the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, to produce Poetry and Jazz Festivals as well as book fairs. She brought New Mexico and Mexican poets into her events, including Carlos Fuentes.

Luschei has taught for Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; UCLA Artsreach, California Men’s Colony and Atascadero State Hospital, as well as at the University of Nebraska Writer’s Conference. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Writer's Fellowship and many California Arts Council individual grants.

In 2000, she was named Poet Laureate for the City and County of San Luis Obispo.


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