Mary Trautmann
    Mary Trautmann, originally from Indiana, has spent over half a century trying to get used to Southern California.  It is perhaps fortunate for us that she hasn’t entirely succeeded, for what is a poet without alienation, intense longing, nostalgia for times gone by?  Mary has also suffered more than one tragedy in her life—more, definitely, that her fair share. And through it all she has had her poetry to help her get through the worst times. Influenced by Williams and other greats of the early 1900’s, she writes sensuous poems often exciting to look at on the page, poems that rebel against the strict forms and metrical tyranny  of her earliest training, poems that dispense with punctuation but feel, intuitively, right.  Mary has also been a very important mentor to me. I showed her my first adult poems in the 90’s after I moved here; her honest and generous critiquing helped me to make enormous progress faster than I might have without her.
    Mary has a chapbook from several years ago called Seeding the Waves. She also published, about 30 years ago, a moving memoir of a daughter’s battle with leukemia. That book is called The Absence of the Dead Is Their Way of Appearing.  Soon a new chapbook of hers will be out, a book of poems that also deal with the loss of her daughter. Mary lives in a house in Whittier that hasn’t changed much since the time of the Kitchen Debate.  In this house she still writes and thinks back about her life. In this house she still walks around remembering a much bigger house in Indianapolis and the Roaring Twenties and the lean years of the Great Depression and the devastation of a World War. Many of her poems are in drawers, in manila folders—she has yet to buy her first computer. Occasionally she’ll get out a manual typewriter and polish up a poem or two. These poems have a lot of nature in them: flowers, sea, desert. They also deal with loss and mental illness and uprootedness, never straying too far from the idiom she inherited from Williams, and blissfully avoiding either the outer limits of experimentation or the excesses of vulgarity and that have come to dominate poetry since she definitively found her voice in the 50’s and 60’s. And she is still true to herself today, as far from Hollywood's orbit as it’s possible to be, surrounded by books in her lovely retreat, still carving out the muscular and gentle pieces that have helped her survive and stay sane, and that have been a source of comfort and inspiration to so many people.

four a.m.

El Niño
issue from the driveway wall
with gibbous moon
arpeggio series of hoarse notes
like gravel ground under foot
not the sweet fluty scales
of those mockingbirds
that visited last May
nested on the eaves and sang all night
but the chittering jargon of
October’s clipped wings
ominous predictions: change and war

El Niño
sows storm warnings
staccato bursts of desert sand
leak under the walls
infiltrate the dreaming house

© 2012 Mary Trautmann
Mary Trautmann was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the March 2012 Second Sunday Poetry Series