Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Border Press announces the publication of Diane Marquart Moore’s latest book of poetry, The Ultimate Pursuit, which is now available. According to the blurb on the back cover, The Ultimate Pursuit includes explorations of a Persian transmigration inspired by the author’s lifetime readings of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and memories of Persia during her sojourn in this country, 1973-75.

This volume offers a brief glimpse into the culture and history of Persia in lyrics spoken by transmigrated souls, beginning with a rooster who crows day-long on the banks of a Louisiana coulee. The book offers a non-traditional excursion into a culture 2500 years old. The Ultimate Pursuit includes a section of poems about Persia selected from Farda, published in 2009. 

Moore’s deceased brother Paul painted the brilliant-hued cover and provided many paintings for covers of the poet’s 31 books of poetry. Rose Anne Raphael of New Iberia, Louisiana rendered the elegant, imaginative drawings within The Ultimate Pursuit.

During her sojourn in Persia, Moore wrote for The Yaddasht Haftegy in Ahwaz. She has also written non-fiction and young adult books about her life in the oil patch of Khuzestan Province.

A sample from The Ultimate Pursuit entitled “Unborn Tomorrow:”

“A lizard flicks his tail
against the dried mud wall,
always a wall surrounding the women
that men easily broke down;

she, receiving, still plays the lute,
her substance once a shrieking noise,
a rooster remade by the master potter
who gave her this garden —

the Holy Present — to live in,
a gracious trade,
her gowns as green
as the cypress in spring,

the purple desert
outside her window
a plot of dust
looming like tomorrow

into which she could become again,
a vessel broken into another face,
her veils cast down,
every former Self dying,

untrapped in one life
as she enters into dim awareness
of a mystical variance,
the moment of God.”

The Ultimate Pursuit is available online from Amazon and from Border Press, P. O. Box 3124, Sewanee, Tennessee.

Thursday, February 21, 2019


“The silence of too much winter,” I once wrote in a poem, and I might add, “the winter of too much wetness,” as I look out at wet leaf piles heaped in the backyard. A prediction of fog and more rain evokes in me a desire to visit a place I love — the desert of southern California. The feeling is further enhanced when I open a folder that contains copies of postcards my mother collected on a trip to California in the 40’s — cards on which paintings of the desert were shown. The paintings appear on linen cloth cards, and, in particular, I was drawn to two: one of smoke trees in a desert wash and another of Joshua trees jutting into a blue sky.

A great classic book about the desert suitable for the kind of droopy weather we’re experiencing was written by John Van Dyke. It’s simply entitled The Desert, and if you read this tome, you might feel like trading locales, swamp country for desert terrain, for at least a week or so. The author spent three years living in and studying the environment of the desert from a naturalist’s point of view, and he paints with elegant prose what is portrayed in the renderings on the postcards I inherited from my mother.

As I finish up a book of poetry I’m writing — some of the poems based on the desert in Khuzestan Province, Iran — I’m reminded of lines in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: “The worldly hope men set their hearts upon, /turns ashes or prospers, and anon,/like snow upon the desert’s dusty face,/lighting a little hour or two is gone.” Since I’ve memorized many of the quatrains in the Rubaiyat, this verse particularly resonates with me because it reminds me of how our everyday pursuits center on vanity and of how much we avoid the desert places if we can. But it’s there that we encounter the Self and our need for a more spiritually centered life. 

I’ve lived in at least two desert places: El Paso, Texas and Ahwaz, Iran, and from 1983-2007, I made annual treks to southern California where the brilliant light often restored my body and spirit. One summer while we traveled to Palmdale, California from Lake Tahoe, which straddles the line between California and Nevada, I sat in the passenger seat of a rented car during a few hours’ journey and was inspired to write 20 poems about the desert places we passed through, e.g., a brief one entitled “Sage Advisory” and another “Near Cartago, California.”

The long green fingers of sage
reach, open-handed, upward,
unafraid of the brilliant sun,

but they are closed,
will store their brilliance
and open their fingers

 only in darkness
when the desert has cooled,
when the universe becomes a plant.

and “Near Cartago, California: Population 75”

Salt flats, fields of uncommon snow
blush at the edges,
brine shrimp wriggling pink.

Not a mile away
from the turn-off to Death Valley 
Joshua trees suddenly jut up,

old men with arms linked,
standing too close to each other,
grousing in the sunlight.

And as I write this, the sky refuses to clear, so I continue going through my mother’s postcards, envisioning her delight… and loving that she, an intrepid adventurer, taught me to appreciate desert life.

Monday, February 11, 2019


Imagine giving up your morning coffee because you blamed the fragrant, energizing beverage for causing digestive and other health problems on the one cup you consumed daily. Imagine the loss of morning joy and energy from coffee withdrawal. Then read about all the benefits of coffee, and you can envision how two months of being without my morning coffee affected energy levels for me — not to mention the awful headaches brought on by withdrawal from this beverage. But what a delicious return to this commodity; in fact, after crude oil, I’m told that coffee is the most sought after commodity in the world, and I’ll drink to that.

I returned to coffee after reading the latest health benefits attributed to coffee: improved energy (#1), lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes, protection against Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cirrhosis of the liver, helps burn fat…

Both sets of my grandparents advised me as a child against drinking even diluted coffee milk because it would stunt my growth and impair my thinking abilities. However, the scent of coffee brewing in their households was a delicious smell on mornings when I spent time with them for a week or more during summer vacations. Although my paternal grandfather, Emerson Lavergne Marquart, was of German descent, he had adopted the Cajun way of brewing good coffee after his marriage to my Cajun grandmother. He used a battered white enamel drip pot to make the dark French roast coffee that I yearned to taste as a child, but he forbade me to have even a demitasse cupful that he used to serve adults just waking up from an afternoon nap.

In my maternal grandmother’s kitchen, coffee was brewed only in the early morning, and she was the guardian of a pot that produced a wimpy, light brown liquid she claimed would keep me forever short (which I achieved without partaking of the coffee milk for which I craved just one taste). But, then, she issued health and safety bulletins at every turn to the extent that I'm still afraid to be in an indoor tub of water during lightning storms, feel that I must have my feet covered no matter the weather or locale, and, she emphasized, I must never mention that I had a bathroom call. In addition to the ban on coffee, she advised us to never drink wine as it would cause us to go crazy. It took me awhile to get over the latter admonitions, but I finally gave in to the idea that a cup of coffee and four ounces of wine daily wasn’t going to kill me or make me crazy.

Coffee consumption can be traced back to Ethiopia and a goat herder named Kaldi who noticed that his goats didn’t want to sleep after they had consumed berries from a particular tree. He’s said to have reported this to the abbot of a monastery who decided to brew a drink using the berries and discovered that the concoction would keep his monks awake to do their prayers throughout the night after partaking of this beverage. During the 18th century, coffee seedlings were planted in the Royal Botanical gardens in Paris, and a seedling was transferred to Martinique where it became the parent of coffee throughout South and Central America. And so it began…and so the coffee industry is now a billion dollar industry!

During the 1940’s, the musical group, The Ink Spots, gave coffee a new name through their song, “Java Jive,” a song so compelling that my father-in-law decided to use the term “java” on a trip to New York City — a famous trip in which my sister-in-law transported every pair of shoes she owned in a washtub and forced my husband to carry this shoe holder through the lobby of a hotel. As if that wasn’t enough embarrassment for my husband, my father-in-law took him to a dime store restaurant, climbed on one of those red, plastic covered stools popular in the 1940’s, and ordered “a cup of java and some flapjacks” in a loud voice. The Clampetts of the "Beverly Hillbillies” couldn’t have played hillbilly better, but my husband never visited New York City again. We only passed through the Big Apple (got lost and bought a cup of coffee at a gas station) on the way to a military assignment in Maine.

And for all of us who call ourselves poets, what would we have done during the Hippy or Beatnik eras had it not been for poetry readings at coffee houses? Even the Brits had their coffee houses, 300 of which existed in London as early as the 17th century.

Thomas Jefferson once acknowledged that coffee was the favorite drink of the civilized world, and I heartily agree. I’m feeling much more civilized since I resumed my one cup in the mornings. Viva Java!

Thursday, February 7, 2019


“Look at the trees,” my father always said when an argument (usually precipitated by him) became loud and quarrelsome at mealtime. So we would pause and look out at the grove of pine trees in the backyard. Sometimes the sight of the tall, cheerful pines had a calming effect, and, more than likely, the harsh tenor of my father’s voice caused us to cease fire. As I grew older, I discovered that my father’s command carried a note of wisdom, and trees/forests became retreat places for me where I could “perceive tongues in trees…”* 

Yesterday, at lunch, a good friend brought us a copy of an article about trees in the March issue of The Smithsonian magazine that became last night’s reading. It’s an amazing article about the tree whisperer Peter Wohlleben, a German forester and author of The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, and while I’m not convinced that trees really do talk to one another, I can imagine them sharing conversations. I believe the explication about their connecting by way of underground fungal networks through which they share water and nutrients, and send distress signals about drought and disease — mycorrhizal networks, the tree experts call them. According to Wohlleben, they also communicate in the air through pheromones and other scent signals, including scents through their leaves. 

Through further studies of trees in Hummel, Germany, Wohlleben was convinced that when a tree is cut, it sends out electrical signals like humans enduring wounds to their bodies! Although scientists aren’t willing to concede that trees possess a form of consciousness, writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, have attributed emotions and consciousness to trees, and I love all mythological stories about them talking to each other.

This is only a mention of the Smithsonian article, but it’s worth a good read — as is the book Wohlleben wrote about trees in which he features them talking, crying, panicking, mourning — all these human characteristics that he creates for them to illustrate the rights of trees to grow old with dignity and die a natural death, rather than a death imposed upon them by tree cutting.

I can identify with his sentiments, perhaps harking back to my father’s command to “look at the trees” which, as far as he imagined, preferred to provide us with an example of dignified silence in times of stress.

Last year in my book of poetry, Let the Trees Answer, accompanied by photographs of trees beloved by me, I attributed consciousness to many of the trees Dr. Victoria Sullivan, Karen Bourque, and Joel Fontenette photographed. One of my favorites is the Joshua tree, which I have written about many times after visits to my daughter’s home in Palmdale, California.

The poem ends with:

A few years ago I saw scarred arms
after a spring without rain
and a winter without frost,
deserted by orioles and wood rats
and their kind that lived
thousands of years ago
threatened by climate change…
spaces in the West no longer sacred,

the Mohave gaunt from too much light,
wind blowing through skeletal trees
and fading indigo in the sky,
white-capped Joshua trees
once thriving in seasons of health —
the golden air of California — 
After a long sunset, appearing again
with wider horizons, taller stalks,
higher manifestations of life…
angular and mysterious. 

Photograph by Joel Fontenette, Palmdale, California

*As You Like It, William Shakespeare