September 2005

Ann Willliams-Bailey: poet, artist, teacher, naturalist


About the poet:

Ann W. Bailey was born in Hayward, California and raised in the Central Valley. She teaches at Roselawn, an alternative education high school in Turlock, and writes with two writers groups, including The Licensed Fools. She is an active volunteer with a number of community organizations, including the Turlock Arts Commission (High School Art Showcase), Youth Art Month Schools Collaborative, Relay for Life, and Turlock Together. She has published in a number of local and regional publications and was part of a now-defunct, small

university press called: "Big Moon".

About her philosophy of writing:

Writers and artists practice seeing accurately. They look closely and envision what is around them in order to make note of it. Sometimes the words/images come all of a piece, but usually it is a series of revisions: re-looking, re-thinking, rewriting until some sort of truth finally emerges.

In open communities, the writing/artistic process can go a step further- it can go public and creates dialogues. Those dialogues might shake things up, but they prepare citizens for informed action.

Dialogues wake us up, incite us to look closer, give shape to our observations and incubate hope. Hope informs action, and informed action steps up. This process can be a long one.

It takes collaboration and trust, but is at the very heart of the belief business: a leap of faith followed by a series of small awakenings.

Who could ask for a better beginning?


Daily Bread

Gandhi did time for it
forgetting where he was,
who he was talking to,
Martin Luther King
for extending grace,
fighting fire with light

Three hand-spans from the horizon
shadows race the long stretch
over abandoned fields,
new construction,
run hard
mad dog the setting sun

Who am I to question
blue dark to first star?
constellations ignore nightly scrutiny
sunset blooms without remark,
a white slip of moon
needs nothing from me

My small path wanders
from good morning blessing
to occasional wishes on a star
Not too much asked:
my daily bread
a moment's peace
a watchful eye over those I love


Gauguin Slips

Gauguin slips
forgets where he is
who he's talking to,
Tattooed with light
heat drives him
directs his actions
pulls him into uncompromising

Left alone,
he whistles fragments
of song
pieces of earth
thunder at dusk

Given choices,
he answers solitary words
with riotous color
echoes silence
with birdsong congress

Mock Adept
Practicing both wave and particle
Gauguin shatters twilight
Grey silhouette,
outlined in the doorway,
his shadow runs on into dark


Waiting for water; Denair, California

Leaning on a shovel

hands knuckle over knuckle
hats on from habit
ditch tenders dream awake
the long hours of waiting-
the heartbeat of rushing water
muddy from the gate

Familiar silhouettes
water-witching the canals
send thirsty fingers into rustling soil,
tipped, wheeled, guided- water takes its own time
truck motors ticking / crew cabs parked next to the falls
hot coffee steaming, steel thermoses on the seat

Leafy sentinels, rooted beside them
stand row after row: peach, alfalfa, almonds
mouths open, lining the dusty tracks;
Water slithers in
line by orderly line of inching silver threads
flooding reflection-
hissing along the ground,
Orchard to orchard
ditch bank to crop
water slides and simpers
spreading out to mirror treetops
up to mimic the stars

Slaked at long last
ticking like the pickup
submerged acres of leaf and rustling pasture
resurface with a shake- the other side of thirst-
and quietly sip moonlight;
Away in the distance, dogs bark their canine questions
perhaps in answer
to the ghosts of midnight trains