Friday, June 27, 1986

WAITING FOR THE STORM



WAITING FOR THE STORM

When a fish swims on an inland sea 
we can go no farther than the nearest shore 
because there are no other shipwrecks 
other than the ones we are on. 
How many shells will it take to build up this reef?
How many palm leaves will it take to calm the wind?
Is there an edge to this wave?
In the rainy season fill all the bathtubs with gin
 and wait for the storm to pass. 

6/27/1986
added 2/17

Write a poem from a first line by another poet 
I chose Roethke's line: "in a bleak time when a week of rain is a year…"


Notes for SAILING INTO DARKNESS

Notes for SAILING INTO DARKNESS


In the fog, ropes of light
hang from the eucalyptus trees.
The story of the murdered wife 
haunts the cypresses.
The names McNeil, Monroe, 
Casey, the Bishops, the Clays. 
Our baby, unnamed, born 1832, died 1832.
McFarland, so many babies like him followed 
and slept beneath rough carved granite.
Charity is beloved. Mother and daughter 
share a tomb with an infant who came from Canada.
Then they were followed by Pauline and Ellie
and six more babies a year nine months apart.
McMillan, Samuel, and Jeanne, 
someone's daughter, age 10.
The mother slipped in six years later,
unable to withstaand the gulf 
of inconsolable distances.
One week old, another, stillborn.
The last one standing
buried them all.


6/27/1986?  
Point Arena
no date, Herb Kohl event?
added /rev. 2/17


OPHELIA'S REFLECTION

OPHELIA'S REFLECTION


She slipped beneath the wheel
as if a carnival of alley music
was captured in a childhood memory
and laundry flapped to the rhythm
of the unwashed years.
Do his blue eyes still reflect the sky?
Brilliant greens of the mallard
glisten in the sun as he dives for food.
Eye spots of sunfish stare up at me
through the murkiness. Intangible hordes.
The surface of the pond supports
the reflection of my weight.
The night green scent of the pond
seduces me in and under:
Ophelia's last dance.

6/27/1986
added 2/17




Write a poem from a first line by another poet
"his mind washed of the poems of the day…"
A poem by Claire Siegel

PORTRAITS

PORTRAITS


Their teeth aren't attached to their heads
They walk softly on wooden legs 
and kneel before each other on hollow knees
They dissolve each other's faces 
and hang them on meat hooks 
carefully saving the eyes for last 
so that they can polish them 
on their chests until they shine 
with malice.

6/27/1986
added 2/17










Write a poem from a first line by another poet
"Take no comfort from their sleazy smiles."
Wilma Elizabeth McDaniels

Thursday, June 26, 1986

FORGETFUL Rilke transliterations

        —after Rilke

I have been a fawn amid the ferns
I won't die when the wind comes
I see her wandering with the darkness
on such a night like this.
The turf is sleeping, saintlike,
and in the morning the road
is still the first pattern of the night
and the stream's answer is not there.
Then waking the storm to let the egrets fly
across the sea and I braid my eyes
so that they will fall like hair into yours
and from that we will drink
and gaze into the broken storm.

6/24/1986

Fragments

When I come to your command
and watch you rise up to meet me
like the boat of evening and we ride
each other's swell until your face
is like an empty mirrored sea
upon which the dragons of memory sleep.

To say come out of darkness for me
for three meals a day: one in heaven,
and two on earth. Bounty.
He wore a lion's helmet: one red as blood.
the other green as grass.

Until we reach four mountain passes
and have nothing but a point of light
to guide us from the darkness,
we will have no more handholds.
Be not afraid because the time that will come
is no different from that of the past.

In my wearied soul
drifting under an inflamed sky
the punishing slickness,
troubling for those among us
who are tired, and for those who follow me.
A fiery hand is goading me onward
under the weight of the nebulous sea.

6/24/1986
The damage was so extensive on the last stanza, I was only able to resurrect one word in five. added, rev. 9/17

Tuesday, June 24, 1986

CPITS retreat, Calistoga 2

CPITS retreat, Calistoga
6/24/1986 three words per line poem

Three virgin hills,
Islands arising from a deeper blue
where the sea and sky
confuse themselves
with circular distances
and the cloud formation
doesn't just happen to appear
on the horizon
like there was no tomorrow
because today my mind's, a fog,
it's fogged like those sea cliff arches
and no one even knows they're there
but still the wind moans through them
because it's not often one finds a mouth
in such a place as this.
So we go on as they say
this fog to will disappear
with enough heat and pressure
but who's counting keeping counting score?
The Giants won 18 to something
you said in the middle of a conversation.
I feel like leaping from cliff to cliff.
That's about as much logic as we can stand
in a place like this, falling, falling
like snow covered apples,
we tumble into the sea
and float to the horizon
where the sea is returned to blue sky.

6/24/1986
added 2/17

I'm not positive about these dates and this would be Monday/Tuesday vs weekend.



to do:
FORGETFUL
after Rilke

I've been with one fawn with terns




Monday, June 23, 1986

CPITS retreat, Calistoga 1



CPITS retreat, Calistoga
6/23/1986

Esperaba hasta que alguin pidiera bailar.
She waited for someone to ask her to dance.



The trick is to trap the wild laughter
of the ancestors beneath a fat hill

laughing like fat hills
wild ancestors
trap and trick us
into believing anything.

A stranger knows
how fast lightning
captures the spirit under glass
before we put out the flames.

The magician who travels
to the source knows
the bitter surrender
of the wave to the beach
is central to the struggle.

The resourceful magician who travels
to the center of the earth
will bitterly object
to surrendering
to sand on the beach.

6/23/1986
added 2/17
CPITS retreat, Calistoga, from wordcards?










When the greed of horses
strips the fossils of time
from the checkbook of skeletons,
then go to the carnival of books
where the clown of tears
wears a wedding band of fright
under his shawl of death.
There you will find the mask
of fluttering lies has fallen
from the face of the moon. 

6/23/1986
added 2/17





AFTER ROUSSEAU
Sleeping Gypsy
Ekphrastic poetry

Under a full desert moon
a lion stands guard 
over the sleeping man
dressed in a striped tunic
with a jug and a mandolin at his side

the green sky, like a lake
that feeds the mangrove swamps.

A cold Indian in ceremonial robes
floats on the cloud-studded horizon.

6/23/1986
added 2/17



FOWLISH BEHAVIOR

FOWLISH BEHAVIOR

Why do I say hair?
I say braids, plaited leaves.
Three geese stroll beneath the willow
like it was Sunday in the park.

The hair of the willow drinks from the pond.
Shadows of blackbirds weave and stitch
the clouds to the mirror of water.

The red claw of a dismembered crawdad
no longer pinches the sunlight.
What errant boy did this?
Ducks parade and commute from lawn
to pond and from pond back to the lawn.
Fowlishly nattering on all the while.


6/27/1986
added/rev. 2/17






Why do I say hair?
I say braids, plated leaves,.
Three Kise strolling under the willow
like it was Sunday in the park.

The hair of the willow drinks from the pond.
Shadows of blackbirds
weaving the clouds to the mirror.

The red claw of the dismembered crawdad
no longer pinches the sunlight.
What boy did this?
Ducks parapet commute from lawn
to pond and from pond to lawn.

6/27/1986
added 2/17

THE SLEEPING GYPSY, after Rousseau




The Sleeping Gypsy 1897, Henri Rousseau —Wiki

THE SLEEPING GYPSY
La Bohémienne endormie
—after Rousseau

Under a full desert moon
a lion stands guard 
over a sleeping woman
dressed in a striped tunic
with a jug of wine
and a mandolin at her side.

Her walking stick dreams of snakes.
The Big Dipper holds its water.
The green sky is a lake
feeding the mangrove swamps.

Tonight the lion isn't hungry
because the moonlight is a song 
dressed in ceremonial robes
floating on a star-studded horizon.

6/23/1986
added/rev. 2/17







Rousseau described his painting as follows: "A wandering Negress, a mandolin player, lies with her jar beside her (a vase with drinking water), overcome by fatigue in a deep sleep. A lion chances to pass by, picks up her scent yet does not devour her. There is a moonlight effect, very poetic."

Sunday, June 22, 1986

AntiChrist Comes in the Form of Invasion (Einstein Sleeps)

see
AT THE CENTER OF A BIRD'S BACK EINSTEIN SLEEPS

 





AT THE CENTER OF A BIRD'S BACK EINSTEIN SLEEPS




My aunt says the millennium is at hand.
She strokes my cheek, wants me to believe, be saved,
reunited "upstairs" when the time comes,
while on T.V., a modern-day Elmer Gantry preaches a concoction
   of science and myth—anthropomorphic bible-thumping.
It's the tenth anniversary of Jonestown, Greneda.
I have not received communion since the Vietnam war.
For this, I will spend an unspecified amount of time in purgatory,
my aunt says. But there are graver sins I have committed
which I tell no one. I watch re-runs of Kennedy shot over and over.
After 25 years, grief unfurls anew and I am ten years old again.

The sacred volcanos of Peru and Guatemala are littered with corpses.
In the Peten Itza jungle, near the sacred city of Tikal, saraguato monkeys howl,
making no distinction between exiled guerillas, and the invading army—
Uzis bought with U.S. dollars. AK-47's. In the jungle the Cold War continues.
In the ceiba trees scarlet macaws scream warning to thrumming insects.
Oblivious leaf-cutter ants carve low tunnels through the underbrush.
I never get used to the guns. In the highlands I never saw boys or men
only women and babies waiting under the volcanic shadows of Atitlán.
On a shining path deep in the Andes, friends carrying medical supplies
are stopped by leftist Sendero Luminoso terrorists on horseback
who let them go when they answer each question right.
Having passed the test, they feel reborn. Their path leads forward still.

Like with Kennedy, I cannot erase or help the blood
of lawyer Manuel Febres-Flores migrating to the sea.
My Peruvian friend said don't look, but it was too late
as we sped off through the Chorillos tunnel to safety.
The TV news fills in the details. He went to buy a newspaper.
His crime was that he was a good lawyer on the "wrong" side.
I have committed this to memory, and I have no words
for bearing witness to the casual departure of life.
There are no front lines in the jungle, the cordilleras, or here.

The Japanese woman warns me never to sleep
at the foot of the bed, or I will have terrible dreams.
During this harvest of apocryphal nights, I learn I have "thin boundaries"
because I dream of snipers in the jungle, and wake up on the floor
crawling toward the safety of closets. I worry about borderline
madness but there are those in power who don't dream. Ever.
Instead, they bring us nightmares. Names of horses.

Before the attack on Hiroshima, an ex-pilot boasted
how he dropped warning leaflets written in English.
He said they were like falling snow, or "window,"
the metal filaments they used to avoid electronic surveillance
while flying in enemy space. He said they named the bombs
and planes after children: Fat Man, Little  Boy, Enola Gay.
I wasn't born yet when this happened
but I keep making origami cranes to heal something in myself.
There are thin boundaries between water, air, and space.
Point in time. Crushed beneath the burden of air, fish drown.
On the swing set, I heard angels striking matches in dry summer grass.
The Hibakusha, the first to witness bright plasma clouds and shadow
are nearly all gone now. At the center of a bird's back Einstein sleeps.
Antichrist arrives in the form of invasion.
When the last condor dies, who will strip it clean of flesh
and make a quena flute from the feathers of its wings?

1986
rev. 1987 & 1989

first draft: Antichrist in the form of Invasion 1986

1990 Apostrofe!, and ROTOR, in Russian,  USSR
          Cherkassuy Krai/ Pravda  in Ukrainian, USSR
         




Saturday, June 21, 1986

LATE HOUSEWARMING POEM TO WM.T.WILEY


After you'd moved in, something new
glowed from the deadwood of the madrone—
Wedged between the cambian layer and heart,
a white torso startled my horse.

I don't know why, but I've always been afraid
of fallen trees in the forest at dusk—
a ghostly reflection of downed limbs.
Maybe it's because things unseen by the iris
come more clearly into focus: night vision.
These exponentials sharpen the artist's eye:
Andromeda, Orion's shoulder,
a Styrofoam torso, the half-life of memory,
branches learning to meet the ground.

The last time I rode past this house,
Mrs. Raynes choked on a piece of steak
at a dinner party; small white O’s
of the guests' mouths, as each searched
for an appropriate response—
and found themselves wanting.
I remember how her clipped voice resounded
like hooves churning up the steep driveway.
Flecks of foam & blood dappled his eager chest
the last time the horse carried her home.
Her husband and children moved back to Britain.

The light from the kitchen window
slaps against the corralled darkness,
antlers knocking on the garden fences
like the dead, my grandmother says—
Deer raise their heads as if in welcome,
to watch us pass.


1985/86/87/90 Solstice


HORSEFLESH

          —for John Oliver Simon

Sometimes as you sleep in my arms,
my hand strokes your face.
I imagine it to be nude of flesh
& bleached white by weather.
Then I can explore your eyes,
slide down the sweep of jawline,
walk through dark Bavarian forests
where horsetraders from Alsace
read the Torah by candle flame.
Somewhere near the browline,
the ancestors have marked you
in the wrinkled grey folds
where the past & future sleep.


Baja 1986


 1994 H.M. Judah L. Magnus Museum, 8th Annual Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for Poetry on the Jewish Experience
1989 Creative Discourse
1986-88 Falling to Sea Level
1988 Poetry SF, 2nd Prize, National Poetry Association
         The Paper
1987 Marin Poetry Center


this version was published in the fall issue of Poet Magazine in 1991




Jorge Luján set this poem to music, so it's been sung a lot by him in Mexico and Latin America.. At one time I used to sing this at readings—but after a horrendous break-up with John, I never revisited ay work from that period for over 30 years—the pain was so great. Only now am I forgiving the past.  And I can no longer  remember the melody... 2/22/2014

Friday, June 20, 1986

Falling to Sea Level, Aldebaran Review (photo)


 
--> Falling to Sea Level, with John Oliver Simon,  (bilingual Spanish/English, Aldebaran Review/Russian River Writers' Guild 1986, fourth ed. 1988). 

Sunday, June 1, 1986

Nasturtiums (art)

I'm not sure of the date on this watercolor, circa the summer of 1986, or 1987. I had carefully trained these nasturtiums to cover an ugly concrete and rebar wall in John Oliver Simon's back yard. He, not seeing the beauty of my handiwork, tore them all out while he was readying the garden. I was heartbroken, I salvaged what blossoms I could and painted them. Watercolor and gouache.

Nasturtiums 9x12" watercolor & gouache.