Last Night



Last night,

coming home from a friend’s little cabin in the woods,

moon bigger than full,

low and wide over the road to Pepin,

no other cars in sight,


I felt the full sirens’ call,

I heard the Enchantress’ subtle song,

deer in the weeds off the shoulder,

just waiting to dive in front of my truck

and give their souls to God and Gods

and whatever fairies surrounded us.


Next full moon on the solstice is in 2094 they say.

I’ll be 146 then.

Well, 145,

I won’t turn 146 til well over a month later.


I dream about it now.

The softness is compelling.

I have grown larger than the lake I live beside:


Once again, there are moths in my ears, dancing away in the light.

Once again , there are songs unraveling, right there at the beginning of the dream.


Solstice seems to be the exact height of silence.

It seems to have wandered off to Norway and a quiet home

on Sognefjord

where we all spent our early days.


I am a poet now.

I am a poetess.

One of my eyes moves to the side of my head, like a fish.

Turkey vultures sit on the jetty nearby,

staring at me, maybe 10 of them.

The breeze is clean and new,

and wanders in from over past Lake City.


I have not come this far to stop now.

Pain will not hold me back.

I refuse to disappear into the internet,

into wine and beer,

into sex.

I refuse to take lightly my proximity to the passing world,

to the next world,

to the world we are waiting for.


The lilacs have bloomed and fallen back asleep.

My hammock sits empty in the yard.

For once, I will turn my chair around and face the street,

wave to allthat pass by,

and mumble,

delicately to myself,

about angels and dragonflies

and the short sweet smell of sunset.

Federico Garcia Lorca -

“Hay muy pocos ángeles que canten,

Hay muy pocos perros que ladren,

Mil violines caben en la palma mi mano.   


There are very few angels that sing,

There are very few dogs that bark, 

A thousand violins fit in the palm of my hand.”


Why Painting is Hard


The first thing I remembered were the birds,

a wall of grackles screaming from somewhere

out beyond my ears.

Then it was all the dogs

and the slow moving whine

of trains that were falling back asleep.


See, I’d forgotten to weep.

I’d forgotten to make wallpaper out of gourds

and vests out of family newspapers.

The jonquils were burning

and all I saw

was grass turning

the color of money.


Tommorrow, I want you to be my guest.

I want rocks to make hammocks out of trees.

I want tires to find time for wine at breakfast.


Please, take my heart,

make it the size of Yankee stadium during the ‘59 Series.

Carry it’s mail

like the wind carries our thoughts to North Dakota.


O.K., here’s my list:


I want grandchildren that fly.

I want houses that sing great big songs (like Woody Guthrie did).

I want streets that dance til 5 a.m.,

angry, sweating, sexy.

I want to wander through your dreams.


dougie padilla





I grew up in Minnesota with my mother's side of the family, all Norwegian, going back for ever. We lived in Minneapolis, the big city, but some weekends, every holiday, and often in the summer we'd pile into the family sedan and drive a couple of hours southeast, down along the Mississippi River to Winona, an old river town, where my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and a whole slew of cousins lived. Come Christmas we'd have a rather large horde at my grandparents house for Christmas Eve dinner, our big celebration, the adults all gathered round a huge dining room table, the young adults in the next room at two or three card tables pulled together, and the younger kids in the basement running amock.

And we always had the same meal, the special meal eaten by Norwegian immigrants in the 19th century when they came to the prairies. Here it is:

First course:

·      Herring and flat bread crackers with Rullepolse (a type of spiced meat roll)

Second course:

fruktsuppe (fruit soup), made from pearl tapioca, cinnamon sticks, water, and dried fruit, mostly prunes and raisins and served hot

The meal:

·      lutefisk (in Minnesota Cod is used)

·      boiled potatoes

·      drawn butter (for the potatoes and Lutefisk)

·      meatballs

·      peas

·      lefse (potato flatbread, not unlike a tortilla) with butter.  (No brown sugar on your lefse at this meal, that was only for fun times in the summer)

·      flatbread (Flatbrod)

The desserts:

·      steamed cranberry pudding with hard sauce (but not with liquor in it)

·      romegrod, (rice pudding with brown sugar and real cream. I remember eating it for Christmas Eve diner, my sister doesn't)

And, the cookies:

·      krumkake

·      havrekake

·      rosettes

·      sandbakkels

·      fattigman

·      sprutbakkels (Spritz)  made in shape of the letter S for the family name, "Stenehjem"

Coffee, always coffee

Now lutefisk was the center of this meal, the crowning glory. It is not the kind of thing that one eats easily, however. You pretty much have to be born into eating it.

Lutefisk is reconstituted dried cod that was brought on the long voyage over by Norske immigrants and not forgotten once more edible fair such as pork became plentiful. Smelly and gelatinous when wrongly cooked, it is smelly and lightly flakey at it's best. We lways served it with drawn butter (but the Danes seem to think that it is best eaten with a mustard sauce. Which, of course, is sacrilege where I come from.)

My grandparents got the lye dried cod and then soaked it for days in the washtubs in the basement.  My sister and I don’t remember the actual process (the lye, the rinsing of the fish, etc), but we do remember watching them go downstairs twice a day to change the water. We were young and didn't realize we were watching a form of culinary alchemy, something that we were not really able to pass on to future generations.

And, of course, the nice thing about making lutefisk in Minnesota at Christmas is that after dinner you could put it in a kettle and put the kettle in the garage where it would stay perfectly cold, even frozen.  That way it didn’t smell up the refrigerator.

To speak to the popularity of this fish delicacy, I am 70 years old and I have only found one person younger than I that will eat the stuff. And he is 63.

Lutefisk recipe:  Go to a store that carries the freshest of fish and seafood. They probably won't have it. Ideally, you would get the Lutefisk that they pull out of a barrel like in the old days. But more likely you will find Lutefisk skinless and "trimmed" and packaged in a plastic and possibly in the frozen fish section of your local scandinavian foods specialty shop. If you can't find your lutefisk nearby try this spot on the internet: .

Take the lutefisk out of the plastic bag (it's usually in plastic these days, for fear of the smell), put it in a large bowl, and cover with ice water. Change this water two to three times and keep in the refrigerator (if your family will let you). This firms up the fish.

How to cook lutefisk:

Put the Lutefisk in a glass baking dish and season with salt. Cover it with aluminum foil. Put in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook it or it will look like whitish slimy Jello! It will be not brown when ready.

In Minnesota, we figure a good pound of lutefisk per person, served with hot melted butter.

 Douglas Padilla, artist, curator, arts activist, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

(with assistance from my sister Doreen Padilla Hyde, Austin, Texas, USA)

(© Douglas Padilla)

2 Janis Stories I Think Happened Maybe


1967. i'm twenty years old and living in san francisco. It's sunday and the "summer of love" and i'm a wandering hippie. my buddy says that we should walk over to golden gate park to "hippie hill", the spot where all the hippies would hang out and smoke dope and play in the sun. we get there and the grateful dead are playing a free concert. so we get stoned and stick around. then, garcia sez: "janis, janis, come on up on stage and sing with us!" so janis joplin gets up on stage and sings a song or two with the dead that day. at least i think that happened…


It’s 1968 and it’s a cold and rainy san francisco winter night. a friend has a party for us to go to. we get there and go into a bedroom to put our coats on the bed. i snoop around, cause I’m from minnesota and we’re snoopers. i notice that all the photos have janis Joplin in them - janis and various other folks, some of who look like family. then, it dawns on me, “I’m in janis joplin’s bedroom”. I stay at the party til 3 or 4 am. janis never shows up. (© Douglas Padilla)

"Monday Night Football"

watching the vikes get shellacked by chicago,
favre knocked out in the second period,
probably his last game –
he had a good long run.

at the same time
reading some of the Beats,
corso, lew welch, whalen, snyder,
even a little kerouac,
especially during the commercials.

welch, especially, is a revelation.
god i loved him in the sixties.
he's no less wonderful now,
tho i myself am in my sixties.

"Sausalito Trash Prayer"
"Song of the Turkey Buzzard"
" [The Image as in a Hexagram]"
"[The Empress Herself Served Tea to Su Tung-po,]" -
all big faves, all still delightful.

but it is "[I Saw Myself]" that is the masterpiece.
"ring of bone" - how many of us
will have that exact golden moment?
how many of us will continue to long for that one small event
that stretches out throughout the rest of our lives
and into eternity?

its the 4th quarter now.
favre is still out, the rookie joe webb is in the game.
we look kinda hopeless – even the defense seems lost.
when the bears win it guarantees them the division title
and makes the packers' dilemma that much harder,
thank god.

tomorrow i will wake up around 6,
eat, check my email, meditate.
then i'll go out into the cold winter wind
and shovel snow under the deep, bright blue sky.

and i will be quite happy.

may all beings know peace.
may all beings find awakening.

december 10, 2010


© douglas padilla