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Ken Hartke

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I'm retired and living solo "out west" in the New Mexico desert. I've been an observer and blogger for years and usually have four or five blogs going but wrote for myself or for friends. A lot of it was travel stories or daily random postings -- but it was a good experience. Red Room allowed me to share things on a wider scale and with its demise, I (maybe) found a more public voice.

Kiowa Ranch 2018 — Waiting for D.H. Lawrence

Our thoughts bewitch us at times. A certain rough edge
of our perception snags an errant and unsettled
hint of trespass.  Like time is standing still. Such was
the case on my visit to the Kiowa Ranch.

PB040031.JPG

The old throne chair, now in ruins, sits on the porch
as if waiting for some wandering king’s return.
That was his chair, back then, and it saw a lot of use
almost a century ago.

 

Every day the current cat comes from somewhere
and sits on the arm of the chair and waits.
He is of the present generation of cats. It’s his job now.
Passed down. It is his chair now. He waits.

 

He has a spot worn into the arm of that old chair.
He listens and surveys the view, near and far;
to the somber hills and to the distant peaks:
to the Sangre de Cristos — the Blood of Christ.

 

The “master” left in 1925. He returned only once – to be
finally laid to rest. This was the only place that Lawrence
and his wife, Freida (the Baroness von Richthofen),
ever owned. It was called Kiowa Ranch, back then.

 

It seems fitting as a resting place for a restless soul.
This small ranch, near the village of San Cristobal,
a mere fly spec, was his treasured home.  But
San Cristobal is the patron saint of wanderers.

 

Frieda lived on at the ranch into the 1950s.
The cats knew her. Georgia O’Keefe was here.
Aldous Huxley was here.  A constellation of stars
once graced this old porch.

PB040035.JPG

Accommodations were challenging and rude, at best.
But this place stood in opposition to the “roaring 1920s”
and I think that was the deliberate point of it –
a point of departure – of escape.

 

Lawrence was contrary if he was anything at all,
and as remote as the ranch. Getting there, even today,
is a challenge. It was far different from what he knew
before, in England and Europe.

 

How was he viewed by the local Hispanos?
He was the stranger on the hill. He was a writer.
Some days they might have faintly heard him hammering,
trying to fix the barn or the fence for Susan, the lone cow.

 

Lawrence liked to write outside under a huge Ponderosa Pine.
He would drag a table outside and write in the open air.
He remembered: “One goes out of the door and the
 tree-trunk is there, like a guardian angel.”

 

The tree is still there, waiting too, a guardian angel
along with the cat and the chair and the porch and
the house,  just as it was when it shaded the writer
at his table. It still drops pinecones where he worked.

Lawrence_Tree_2.jpg

Georgia O’Keefe made a painting of the old tree —
lying on her back during her time at the ranch.
It is tall and strong and could likely endure and
wait another hundred years.

 

New Mexico agreed with him and offered a cure
for his soul and his ever-weakening affliction.
He completed five novels and several short stories,
and a collection of travel essays, all under his tree.

 

Wanderlust returned and he headed back to Europe.
He stayed near Florence and in France. Soon years passed.
His affliction returned. He died in France in 1930.
He never again saw the ranch.

 

Years later Frieda had his ashes brought back to the ranch
and interred in a small shrine that sits on the hillside
above the old cabin with the porch and the chair
and the cat and the tree all patiently waiting.

PB040023.JPG

.

The Home Place – 2021

Recent comment in this post
Stephen Evans
Wonderful portrait, Ken.
Sunday, 22 August 2021 15:20
2977 Hits
1 Comment

The Bus Stop

I walked her to the bus stop.

We sat quietly together.

There was not much more to say.

Her bus came and left...

but she was still here waiting.

She looked at me and smiled.

"You’re a late bloomer" she said, laughing.

"I'll wait for you forever."

Forever.

That is a long, long time.

 

She was as good as her word.

It really wasn't all that long.

I guess I bloomed at some point.

Or she just decided I did.

We roamed the world and

lived beyond the fences.

We grew our own expectations.

We walked along together.

Forever.

On the beach, at sunset.

 

PC100229

 

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Lovely portrait, Ken.
Sunday, 01 August 2021 15:44
Rosy Cole
Priceless! Memories to warm yourself by. A heartwarming share.
Monday, 09 August 2021 17:29
Virginia M Macasaet
FOREVER... love this word! Your writing paints a truly wonderful picture of FOREVER.
Monday, 13 December 2021 23:34
821 Hits
3 Comments

A Place Beyond

There are places beyond the usual limits
of space and time.
We go there – when the time is right
to see what is mostly unseen.

This is not a different world or universe.
You simply have to hop the fence.
Step lively if you want to catch the fleeting moment.
It is worth the effort.

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0 Comments

Be It Ever So Far Away

It is so tiresome now.

To have so much to do;

but cannot do it.

To have so much to say;

but cannot say it.

To have so far to go;

but cannot journey.

Our existence is masked.

Our life on hold; we hold

our breath waiting, watching,

for the promised land they

tell us lies just ahead.

 

This has gone on longer

than some biblical plagues

of forty days and nights.

We count ourselves lucky

if we are still even counting

the days - no, weeks, months.

It is the same everywhere.

There are always complainers.

Some cry louder than others.

Some have good reason as

there are many empty chairs

and cold pillows on the bed.

 

I was in Dublin at the start.

A few glory days in March.

It was slow to catch on as

we walked the streets and

saw the puzzled faces and

the two-meter marks.

Even the pubs were closed.

There was a sign on a wall

"There is a good time coming,

be it ever so far away."

And that became our quest,

-- be it ever so far away.

 

November, 2020

 

 

Recent comment in this post
Stephen Evans
So apt, Ken!
Saturday, 21 November 2020 01:27
1168 Hits
1 Comment

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