7th Annual Southern Oregon Poetry Award, Second Prize, 2012

As I drive toward
the Oregon coast
a sign by the road
pulls me: Darlingtonia fen

Footsteps crunch chips
in pine-scented woods
rustle of leaves
bird whistles

Pitcher plants proliferate
sucking flies to
their final meal
drawn by musky scent
to a poisonous stew
of mesmerizing liquid

Cobra lilies lie in wait
caped carnivores in
silent reverie of death
trap bugs in lazy languor

Sun filtered shadows
cross my path
as insects buzz
around hooded hosts
silently awaiting their prey

I walk though misty forest
curious at the play of life and death
in oasis of carnivorous plants
insects dance, drown
humans observe, move on

©2011 Julian Spalding


You say pouring out my heart
is not poetry.
Then I ask what is?
Is it poetry to walk with a sign
yelling about jesus?
whispering sweet nothings
to your lover?
making rhymes in colder climes?

I say poetry is a tempest in a teapot
a calamity in the nursery
the dissolution of a marriage
the death of a child
a heartbeat stilled in the prime of life
the pain of a life lived in vain

Who are you to say what isn’t poetry?
My life is poetry
words swallowing words
ouroborous without
beginning or end

I can say anything.
It’s my life expressed
just this way.
It’s poetry if I read my shopping list

My poetry is my story.
I will never tell someone
not to tell their story.
Tell your story
however you can

Tell it with a poem,
with a song, with your life
but tell your story.

My life is to heal my wounds
offer my gift, offer my heart

My story is a poem.
Your story is a poem.
Someone needs to hear it

© Julian Spalding ©2011

Mystic Warrior

[This poem was written as ekphrasis for this image of a sculpture by Rafael Vega at Dragonfly Blue Gallery, Taos, New Mexico.]

Visitor from beyond time,
feathered turtle-horse
from jungle and desert:
macaw, saguaro, bovine.

Cohoba shaman of cosmic vision,
green serpentine converser with gods.
Emerald forest shapeshifter.

Wooden cow creature, you don’t fool me,
you come to change everything.
Your spear of truth severs my head,
stone beads cover my heart,
dead and living worlds collide,
the dead world dissolves
into world of ancestor and spirit.

Wrap me in your wooden arms,
suck out the world,
tear me apart,
infuse me with knowledge,
put me back together,
new, alive, eager.

Julian Spalding ©2019

more haiku

Sagebrush shimmers
in high desert wind
The dog sniffs

Adobe abode shelters
New Mexico enchantment
Return to the desert

Clear blue high desert sky
Backdrop to magic land
Enchanted place of my dreams

High desert sage and piñon
crackling logs in fireplace
Calling me to put down roots

Piñon, cedar, aspen
Fuel for winter fires
Warms fragile bodies

New Mexico haiku

The residue of my presence
lingers like a ghost in Ashland,
now a desert dweller

Once Ashland, land of my birth
now the high desert:
homebound once again

Madrone and manzanita
took root in my mind,
now sagebrush and cactus



Inner Peace is achieved by following your heart’s longing. I know because my husband and I have made some drastic life changes due to following our inner guidance. Admittedly, I have wondered if our wandering ways are just “wanderlust” or are we truly following our hearts. How could we have left behind the beautiful home we built in the hills of New Mexico twenty years ago? It was intended to be our forever home we would never leave. Yet, when the inspiration struck, we sold our home and ten acres of wooded land and moved to southern Oregon! Why Oregon? Well, Ashland intrigued us and, after all, I was born in Ashland when it was just a little lumber town with a nascent Shakespeare festival. My parents met and married in Ashland and we lived on Mountain Avenue with a cow in the yard. And, after all, my Dad owned a lumber mill, the Sugar Pine Lumber Co., located on the site of the current Bi-Mart and Shop N Kart. The first time I stepped on the floor of those stores, I was reminded that my Dad’s mill sat on that very concrete in 1947 when he sold it and moved his family to Eureka to open another mill.

Our ten years in Ashland/Talent have been wonderful. We have hiked hill trails, attended plays, made friends and volunteered with several organizations, notably Lotus Rising Project, Rogue Rainbow Elders, Ashland At Home, Asante Hospice, Rogue Valley Manor and the new Holmes Hospice House. We bought a home in Talent, created a nourishing sanctuary and invited others to share the beauty of our lives.

Now, our hearts are longing again….this time to return to New Mexico, specifically to Taos. Why Taos? Well, Taos Mountain seems to be calling to us. I think it is about the spirituality of the high mountain desert, the ancient civilization that still lives there in relative harmony with the non-indigenous Anglos and Hispanics. We recently spent a week in Taos to determine if we were mad, bad or glad that we are considering leaving the town of my birth and relocating once again to a place where we will need to buy another home, make new friends, find new volunteer opportunities. We felt the pull of the high desert, the connection with the land, the sense of proper place. In her beautifully written book,”if Women Rose Rooted,” Sharon Blackie writes, “one of the wounds dealt to us by the coming of the Wasteland is our severance from the land, the rupturing of the relationship between people and their places. The healing of the Wasteland requires a healing of this wound. Our Return, then, requires a place in which we can be grounded, rooted; a place in which our particular gifts and wisdom can flourish; a place in which we can fully embrace the natural world around us, and our part in it.”

For nearly forty years that place, for me, was New Mexico. And for ten years that place has been the beautiful Rogue Valley. And for some unknown and mysterious impulse, the siren call of the mountains of northern New Mexico is calling us home. I never anticipated this move in our 70s. We were here to stay. Yet, our hearts are longing for our proper place where we feel fully rooted and we can flourish. We leave this valley with a mixture of sadness, anxiousness about our sanity or lack thereof, expectation of adventures in a new, yet familiar place and heartful longing. Terry and I are saying goodbye to the home, friends and place that have nurtured us for the past ten years…. and setting sail for the Mystery of the Land of Enchantment that pulls at our heart strings so strongly.

We offer heartfelt thanks to all we have encountered here, the cousins we have deepened relationships with, the Oregon land that called to us ten years ago and the joy of living in my birthplace. What awaits us? That is yet to be discovered as the Mystery unfolds.

Peace be to all.


aroma of morning coffee,
blood coursing
through my veins.

my lover’s touch
the scent of a rose
delicate essence

ginger orange marmalade
on morning toast.
door opening into my soul.

my evening walk,
cascading mist of
glimmering moonlight.

Breeze blows wisteria
Weeping blue atlas
Cries to the skies

Before the inferno burning up southern Oregon and northern California, and long before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Terry and I had accepted an invitation to join friends on a whitewater rafting trip today on the Klamath River. The fourteen mile stretch was mostly I, II and III category rapids, with the lovely names of Satan’s Well, Hell’s Gate and other such endearing monikers. The sole category IV was called Ambush.

To clarify and simplify this rating process, all whitewater rapids are rated on a scale of I to VI. The rapids receive ratings based on a combination of difficulty and danger. I don’t think I’ve ever hit a class IV before. Believe me, it is intense. As soon as we hit the deep troughs, I flew out of the boat, along with a visiting German man who was on the same side behind me. The boat had tipped deeply into the trough and we tipped with it. It was a terrifying experience as I wondered if I would survive it. Of course, we were all wearing life jackets and mine kept me mostly above the water, but the whitewater was surging all around me, dragging me under, smashing me against the rocks. I was frantically trying to get to the boat to be dragged back in.

I had been Ambushed by the scariest and most intense class of rapids on this stretch of river. My husband was just as frantically trying to reach me to pull me out of the frothing tumult, which he did with the help of a friend in the raft. All told, I was likely only in the water a total of maybe two minutes, I don’t know for sure, but it felt much longer. I wasn’t at all sure I would be accompanying him back home after this ordeal. My gold earring which I had worn in one ear for about fifteen years was ripped off, now lying somewhere in the Klamath riverbed, or perhaps being eventually swept out to sea.

I found this explanation at http://wetplanetwhitewater.com/rafting/class-system/:
“The most important thing to remember with the classification system: it has nothing to do with how much fun a rapid is. The system is based on difficulty and danger, which do not always equate with the “fun factor” of a rapid. There are plenty of class III rapids that are more fun to raft than many class IV rapids.”

I can certainly attest to that! Encountering Ambush was anything but fun. It was terrifying. Fortunately our raft was being steered by an expert whitewater raftsman, without whom I probably would not have survived. Back home, safely ensconced in my sweet home with my man, I am nursing multiple bruises and sores, but luckily nothing was broken.

And I am reminded of the horrific fires burning all around the Rogue Valley, the homes that have burned, the wild animals that have perished, the intense smoke filling our valley for weeks and likely more weeks to come. And I watch the unfathomable devastation of Hurricane Harvey and those people and animals who succumbed to the flooding, and my travails seem petty by comparison. I’m just relieved to be safely home. And I’m sad that so many others in more dangerous circumstances may never find that safety.

By Julian Spalding

This essay involves the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon, my Osage Indian ancestry, The Osage Reign of Terror and a current best seller; Killers of the Flower Moon. I am writing this in May, the month the Osage call the Killer of Little Flowers Moon because frost came so often at this time of year, killing young flowers.

My story starts on the Osage reservation. Like so many native tribes, Osage territory was shrunk from a territory that originally covered most of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, to banishment in the corner of northeast Oklahoma in the late 19th Century. The tribe, which had been consigned to a Kansas reservation, was given the option of buying some non-productive land from the Cherokee tribe. The land became Osage County. In a bizarre twist of fate, in the early 20th Century, oil was discovered under the land. The Osages, who had managed to buy mineral rights with the land, soon became the richest people in the world as they benefited from oil leases and royalties. The money was apportioned to the 2,229 living members of the tribe who were born before 1907. Their shares of the mineral rights were called “headrights,” which were inherited by their descendants in perpetuity.

My grandmother was one of the original headright owners. In the early decades of the new century, she enjoyed the wealth shared by all headright owners. But there was a dark side to this sudden wealth, explored in depth in Killers of the Flower Moon. Sensing an opportunity to acquire some of this wealth, unscrupulous men married Osage women, killed their new wives through a variety of methods, including shooting, poisoning and blowing up an entire house with the occupants inside. The headrights of men were also stolen by their white “guardians.” The government had set up a guardianship system, since the Indians did not know how to manage their sudden vast wealth. However, the guardians were invariably corrupt. In fact it turns out most of the local institutions, from bankers and lawyers to law enforcement, were part of a grand scheme to defraud the Indians.

The resulting Reign of Terror began in the early 1920s. At that time, my great grandfather, Clarence Trumbly, lived with his extended family on their allotted land just over the border in southern Kansas. My grandmother had married a Scotsman named Thomas McAdam when she was sixteen. My mother, Betty Jane McAdam, was born in 1922. When she was two or three years old, Clarence moved the family to Grants Pass, Oregon. I never heard family lore that said the reason for the move was the Reign of Terror, but I can’t imagine that that was not a major factor since hundreds of Osages were being murdered at that time.

Clarence bought land in the Applegate Valley and a theater in Grants Pass where my Mom told me she used to see movies for free since her grandpa owned the theater. She grew up in Grants Pass, graduating from Grants Pass High School. Her mother, grandfather and other relations are buried in the Grants Pass cemetery with grave plates bearing their names.

When my mother was sixteen, she was working in a store when my father Raymond Spalding saw her and, as he told me, “When I saw that beautiful woman, I said, ‘I’m going to marry her’!” They married about 1942 and settled in Ashland where my Dad and his father, Elmer Spalding, owned a lumber mill called Sugar Pine Lumber Company. My Dad wrote a short autobio where he mentioned that his mill stood at the corner of Ashland Street and Tolman Creek Rd., the current site of Bi-Mart and Shop n Kart. When I was two or three years old, my Dad sold the mill and moved his family to Eureka, California where I grew up. I eventually graduated from UCLA, married, had a son, and then moved my family to New Mexico where my wife and I had two more children before we divorced.

She left New Mexico, but I stayed, wandering in the desert, for forty years! In 1987, I met my current husband, Terry Brown, in Albuquerque. In 2008, we bought a home in Talent, moving in 2009. When we shopped at Shop n Kart and BiMart, it felt strange to walk on the cement floor of these two stores—a floor my Dad poured when he built the mill in the late 1940s! But that’s another story—the Spalding family who ran lumber mills in the valley for several generations.

My maternal ancestry stems from the Osage Reign of Terror, without which I might not have been born, and, likely, not in Ashland. My mother lived on her headright income inherited from her mother, and me from my mother—which today represents a portion of my income—a mere fraction of what once provided lavish lifestyles for the Osage of Oklahoma. After a sixty-year absence, I had returned to my own ancestral land of Oregon.

How can we know who we are if we don’t know our roots? Only when we know our lineage can we place ourselves in historic time and recognize where we are and where we belong.

© Julian Spalding 2017

By Julian Spalding

Richard Rudd In his monumental work, “The Gene Keys: Unlocking the Higher Purpose Hidden in your DNA” (Osprey Publishing Ltd. Kindle Edition), states “Nature knows exactly what she is doing, and we should take heart from this.” That simple statement reveals a potentially powerful insight into the mystery of our times. If Nature indeed knows what she is doing, from that flows a deeper realization of the historical trajectory in which we find ourselves. Is it possible we are the culmination of a vast experiment of a vast intelligence we can barely fathom from our limited human intelligence? Is it possible that our very disconnection from “Nature” is actually Her intent?

It has often been postulated that humans are destroying our habitat because of our belief that we are separate from and superior to Nature. Yet we are in reality a part of Nature. We are not separate. May we not, then, be a part of Nature herself creating the Dream of the Planet? Is it possible that we are part of a great evolutionary process, in which the current state of planetary destruction is a necessary ingredient for a Great Transformation?

The term dissipative structure was coined by Russian-Belgian physical chemist Ilya Prigogine. Out of that postulation came his Theory of Dissipative Structures which states that when a system is ready to move to a higher frequency, it disintegrates into a chaotic state. Out of chaos comes a new order, an order that would not have been possible had the previous order not devolved into chaos. What looks like chaos at one level, looks like a birthing in the new dispensation. One way of looking at this process is how a caterpillar voraciously devours everything in its path, until, sated, it stops eating and spins a cocoon. Inside the chrysalis, the body of the caterpillar turns to a mushy substance. Its cells disintegrate and new cells begin to grow called imaginal cells. At first the imaginal cells are experienced as foreign and the old caterpillar cells try to destroy them, but eventually the caterpillar surrenders to the process and the imaginal cells begin to build a new creature which eventually emerges as a butterfly, an entirely new creature.

If the caterpillar cells had not dissipated into a chaotic mush, the imaginal cells could have not emerged out of chaos and the new creature could not have been born. Is it possible we are experiencing just this process on a world scale? Does Nature know what she is doing?

Richard Bach said, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” –Perhaps Nature calls the end of the world as we know it, the birthing of a new world. Melody Larson writes, “A caterpillar event occurs and we have the choice to view it from the caterpillar’s perspective (the limited view of the ego/personality) or from the Master’s perspective (the eternal view of the Soul.) From the Master’s perspective a disaster is not a disaster at all but the necessary and wonderful adventure into a bigger life–the butterfly life.”

Clearly, from our limited human perspective, we are witnessing the beginning of the death throes of industrial civilization. This is cataclysmic, beyond human ability to fully comprehend. What does this mean for our way of life? How will we survive? Will we survive? Maybe a better question is who will we be together in the face of this unprecedented challenge of our time? I doubt if we will emerge the same people we are now. Industrial man may not be able to survive in the new world. The Gene Keys states, ” A new network of neuro-circuitry in the solar plexus is superseding the reptilian fear-based neuro-circuitry of the old brain.” If this is true, then we may be literally evolving a New Human Operating System.

“Between 2012 and 2027,” says the Gene Keys, “a core awakening fractal of humanity will lay the foundations of a new world that will reshape this planet from the inside out.” It goes on to say, “After this awakening has occurred, one will no longer exist as an individual. Awareness will operate collectively.” This process is so far beyond our current collective awareness as to be inconceivable.

The Gene Keys also states, “Our current generation is the sacrificial generation. Our collective body is purging humanity of its ancient toxins.” It may not be advantageous from an evolutionary point of view for 7 billion humans to exist on the planet. How this process will play out is anybody’s guess, but if Nature indeed knows what she is doing, then those of us who are awakening to a greater reality may be the imaginal cells of the caterpillar building the rudiments of a new human and a new planet.

© Julian Spalding March 2016