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birthday celebration

From The Offering

I watch curled leaves, dusted dry

until eyelashes close my lids to

the breeze that brings the ocean to

the fire road surrounding these hills.

I need to know 

that if I were to open me up, I

would feel my every inhale

holding my attention just as though

I were a story being read in

the front room by the monks here 

who are praying.


I have a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from San Diego State University.  My original major was early childhood development but as I quickly realized my first semester while taking a creative writing class, I wanted to switch my major to English and explore creative writing.  I had to petition for the switch which required me to submit 10 poems to the department head.  When I had my interview with her, she told me that by poem 6, she had read enough of my work to determine my skill and she accepted me into the department.  I was so happy to tell my Dad and Mom, as I'd been writing poems since elementary school.


My Grandmother Burns was a writer and her book of prose poetry was published in 1911.  She raised four boys who all became doctors.  My father was a surgeon.  He and all of my uncles were musicians as well.  The Burns Orchestra played at dances and concert halls throughout the northwestern United States.  Their earnings paid for their college and medical education.  


My life changed when my Dad was diagnosed with melanoma.  I was 19 years old.  I remained in college and frequently came home to the Los Angeles suburb where I was raised.  He died two years later just before I turned 22 years old.  Toward the end of his life, he gathered the family together and gave away the things he had in his possession to each of his children. There were seven of us.  I received some of Grandmother Burns' handwritten journals and writings which she kept in bound volumes.  My life would never be the same.


I was emotionally fragile at the time I graduated from college.  I had four wonderful years learning poetry under the instruction of Carolyn Forche and Glover Davis but once graduated, I focused on a career that took me in a different direction and I went to paralegal school.  I worked for law firms most of my professional life.  Those first fifteen years passed before I would return to writing poetry.

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