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Gary Lindorff's 'Children to the Mountain'

Book review:

Lindorff’s work is nothing if not relentlessly contemplative. Each poem is a purposeful plot of thought, inevitably stimulating reflection. Not all are immediately apprehensible, but this is due more to reader impatience than writer quirk; re-reading invariably renders reward. They are grouped in four parts: “Tipi in the City,” “Manure Cannon,” “Dismantling Hell,” and “There is a Mountain.” Many are personal, and all the more alluring for it, from the poet’s grateful remembrance of his first encounter with a shaman, to unsentimental childhood memories of shooting guns with his brother — and their dumb witnessing of the assassination of a hognose snake.

Though this might sound more like public relations than analysis, to simply leaf through the book and read at random elicits stopping and reading. You don’t find yourself skipping, rejecting.

And the stylistic diversity is surprising. In “Bestiary, the old gang is back,” you find the poet whimsically engaging in quasi-fable, relating a conversation among a lion, penguin, butterfly, mouse, and worm. Their discussion, which is nominally about getting together for a game of cards, overtly and subtly takes issue with that most monstrous of all creatures: the human. Excerpt:

    Mouse (who never had an evil thought)
    Asked penguin (who never raped or pillaged),
    Have you seen caterpillar
    (that one who never held anyone at gunpoint)?
    Oh, you mean butterfly, said penguin.
    Now he is butterfly (but, just like caterpillar,
    He never held anyone at gunpoint either).
    Crow (who never stabbed anyone in the back),
    Who happened to overhear this conversation,
    Said he just saw butterfly
    Flying over the garden.
    Should I tell him you want him? asked crow.


Today, Lindorff lives with hhis wife, Shirley (and three cats) in an intentional community — a village of persons with some common values — consisting of six families, each of which owns ten acres. There he chops wood, manages a garden, makes music, carves stones, goes for walks in the forest, offers counseling as a dreamworker and shaman, and. . .

Writes poetry, such as one that would serve as an apt imperative for our time, “Dismantling Hell.” Excerpt:

    That night I dream that I am in town, stopping at Walmart
    and I notice that the greeter bears a strange resemblance to Christ.
    He says, “Welcome to the last place on Earth.”
    I ask, “Where do you keep my heart?”


RIP RENSE is not as good as a skink or a skunk, but does his best. He curries favor with only the finest curries. During the full moon, he turns into a human. He is fond of Puccini and chocolate and, as Steinbeck said of “Doc,” in “Cannery Row,” true things. A native of Los Angeles, he is the author of several novels and short story collections, a collection of poems, and a forthcoming mystery, "The Bronzeville Boogie.” His work can be found at

story | by Dr. Radut