Joanne Uppendahl: Poet and Astrologer
Joanne Uppendahl lives in Washington State, with her husband and cats. She's a proud mother and grandmother, as well as a former mental health professional. Joanne is now a practising astrologer at The Crystal Voyage, a metaphysical bookstore and natural healing center(www.crystalvoyage.com). Of all the poets I've met over the years, this lady is the one to whom I feel most spiritually attuned. We share a common outlook on many elements of our vast and astonishing universe.
Joanne's work is intuitive, richly textured and always possesses multiple layers of meaning. She deftly incorporates allusions to Native American traditions drawn from her personal knowledge of West Coast aboriginals. Her settings are frequently very specific to the Washington-Oregon area, evocatively recreated so the reader immediately enters this special environment and sees it through the poet's vision. She shares her world with its various creatures on land and in the waters; her eyes are cast upward into the constellations and downwards beneath the earth. Both her daughter and her deceased son are very present and significant influences on her life and writing. Then there's her magnificent little granddaughter, Bea!
Joanne writes of exhilaration and joy, of mystical experiences, of the soul's journeys toward understanding, and of almost unbearable human loss. Her poems never fail to affect me at a deep, karmic level.
I shall be adding more as this page grows but for now, here's a foretaste of Joanne Uppendahl's magic.
In recollection’s haze, I see again
my laughing boy hold out his hands to catch
the bronze and topaz dancers as they fall.
He watches in amazement as, ablaze,
the last few leaves in waves, unfolding, drop
from sky to touch the waiting soil below.
We witness geese inscribe the air, incise
the clouds with secret code, in carefree flight
engrave their winged designs on supple sky.
I sense he'll soar like them one day, or like
a dancing leaf, drift over loam, yet never
guess he’ll sever from the branch so soon.
Sometimes the fields burned over grow much greener
than the ones untouched by flames and sons.
Fierce Alaska winds rattle kayaks tied to their docks.
Tugging rope tethers taut, they skitter, hitting flanks.
Spawning salmon cluster near banks. Ravens swing, dive
dip, white waterfalls roar. Eagles, in pairs wheel free
to feast of death, birth, and more. Step into kayak, sit,
position feet, snap skirt, heft paddle. Swing, dip, tilt,
swing, dip. Geared up to wait--I cling to edge of lake.
Observe, turn, turn, turn around the rim, eyes for bear.
Slipped suddenly into mid-lake, a tough current tilts me
closer to cold glacier silt, a hard wind herds. Dip, pull,
raise, tilt, dip; then, I close my eyes and rise in reverie,
sense my son’s call. Feel all, All, then lift to no words.
(c) 2005 Joanne Uppendahl
(c) Joanne Uppendahl
My darkened poplars
sense day climbing my sides,
and the horizon yields its shimmer
as they wake.
Scrub pine and fir
shamble music through searching roots,
a thousand hills distant
from where they intone in cloistered woods.
Subtle is the way of my waking
forests and wetlands;
grasses linger, unhurried along my thighs--
ivy creeps beside my cheeks.
Light folds among the drowsing geese
across the wash of marshes and deep ponds.
Jade glimmers in the shifting
trees, and branches lift to stir
the awakening birds to sing
my early psalms.
A maple leaf summons eyes to feast
on floors of the fallen--
these I gather to my breast
with softened cries.
Unseen, decaying leaves
prepare the crumbling redwood
for lives of cedar yet to come,
for ferns’ unfurling.
I embrace fall’s muted mornings
when slowed growth clears hours of thriving time.
My brood peeks from within; my quiet dark,
a warmer womb.
Seen from the train,
blue herons on pilings--
each limbless stub of water tree
holds a stationary bird.
Except one dweller,
who arches his stilt of neck,
turning his brush stroke head
as the scene passes.
But me! But me! he says,
extending painted wings
as if he might embrace
my fleeting face.
She Who Gathers Stones
The wooden fishing boats with creosote
surround the sea-soaked docks and crumbled posts.
She longs for frogs’ sandpaper calls in spring
and speaks with sapling trees that bow to hold
the weight of spiders stringing endless webs.
At night she opens windows just to hear
the rain, its fingers tapping as she drifts
in sleep, the heeding winds afloat with force
and voice to spit the needles wrenched from pines.
As pileated birds drum fallen woods,
she stands in silent study, unobserved;
her eyes reflect the bonds of trees and moss.
Her waterfalls descend to running streams
that splash her path across old river stones.
All poems (c) Joanne Uppendahl and used by permission