Thursday, December 31, 1987

QUARTZ—dream journal sequence

QUARTZ journal entry

The night terrors all began with the Zebra Killer. The bad dreams, the waking up screaming, the terror of being persued and strangled. My grandmother said I screamed loud enough to wake the dead. More like the living. When my brother was woken by my screams, he said he'd wait to hear if there was an intruder before he'd get out of bed. Either way, he'd hide under the covers.

I thought I was losing my marbles. My mother is schizophrenic and though they keep telling me it isn't hereditary, some part of me can never let go of the idea. Needless to say, I analyze things to the point of death.

My mother is also a clarivoyant. Second Sight runs in the family. Bad enough to be crazy but clarivoyant too? When she predicts or finds something, I want to make a rational case for it. Nothing to do with the supernatural or intuition.

I became a non-believer of the supernatural during the wee hours while trying to sneak into the house—the door hinge cracked like someone knocking—I inadvertantly became one of my grandmother's famous ghosts—the ones who knock at the door when death approaches.

Within the week, someone in the family did die, I don't remember who. Her brother Bill? So there I was, both non-believer and a witness. I toyed with the idea that my real events might be linked up with events yet to happen and perhaps we provide the link that makes it seem like precognition.

How else to explain the time my high school girlfriends and I were joyriding down Mt. Tam and suddenly, there were a weird dreamlike image of black tires spinning in front of me—distracting me to the point that I said, I don't want to alarm you guys but I keep seeing spinning tires. They all laughed, called me names and seconds later, the brakes gave out. The owner of the antique red Mercedes in front of us was not happy to be our brake shoe at the T stop. But it kept us from going through the fence and the house below.

Many dreams that I described in detail to my friends would come true. Sometimes I'd misinterpret what I saw, What distinguished them from regular dreams was that they were lucid--no fantastic dream imagery. Normal boring everyday events. Looking back, I blame the dreams on the enormous amounts of grass we used to smoke—it was the late 60's and we were in the middle of it all. But that 's another story.

My hooded dream-murderer demon evolved into other images. I grew bold, or rather, weary of it, so I tried asking it what it wanted with me. I even asked it to unveil itself. Once it changed sex and it became my aunt Jane with whom I was having trouble with, and later, it became me. Fear: my own worst enemy.

Through the years the dream image plagued me but I've never written down when these dreams happened. Location doesn't seem to matter—I've had them while in Europe and in Mexico. Imagine what a bloodcurdling scream in the middle of the night will do to the morale of the hotel clientele. Guests lined the hall, some dressed only in sheets looking like real ghosts with white faces! Pardon, I said. Was my face red.

My boyfriends learned not to grab me when the night terrors happened. Besides learning how to scream, I learned to fight in my sleep too. There's a section of the brain Ithat paralyses nearly everyone who has nightmares so the won't physically respond and hurt themselves or sleeping partner. But I have thin boundaries. I can fight with the best of street brawlers in my sleep.

Those cliff falling dreams when one wakes up stiff, in a cold sweat and can't move, is an example of this sleep paralysis-- only I, a small statistic, learned how to move like a ninja warrior.

I even went to my doctor and therapist who both said I was sane as can be expected and that it was a result of stress and illness. It seems to happen in cycles. Each time it happened, I thought I should check into the local mental institution— was there something that horribly wrong with me to give me this night terror?

When some friends died, two patterns emerged. One type had symbolic dreams in which the clues of two friend's tragic deaths were hidden. I found out about the deaths after the fact.

My mother banged at my door early one morning. I was in the grips of a dream so horrible and dark I refused to wake u or even remember it but I remember that my cousin RIcky was in it. I remember how the red lights cut through darkness, the sound of metal and cars. He had died in a motorcycle accident on 4th Street in Santa Rosa earler in the morning. I was there. I witnessed it. I saw him slumped over the parked car. Red everywhere.

Not all the dream experiences were terrifying. One night, after a wedding with too much champagne, I imagined dwarves marching through my kitchen statcking up crockery and fixing the sink all night long. I expected to see a lot of dishes in the morning along with a hangover. My landlady said that was Emilio Celli, her father-in-law. He loved to fix the plumbing. I saw him again at the bathroom sink. It was leaking.

When a friend's mother, Betty Land Wall drowned in Noyo River, I dreamed I talked with her underwater—I remember the salt stung my eyes. With a knife, I cut a baby from my belly. Then Micaela called to say Betty was gone. Washed out to sea.

Another time, Boschka Layton, ill with cancer, died of a heart attack at nine AM, right when I dreamed I rode a black horse through warm dark tunnels, His hooves thundered louder and louder and louder until we reached the opening but it was almost too small for us to squeeze through. We were reborn into bright light in a green garden, the horse was now a colt. I suppose I was younger because I had no sense of age. Rebirth.

It became harder for me to explain it all away as coincidence. The second pattern, which is more consistant is not a dream state. There are no images attached to it. Only a green light that stays with me even after I open my eyes and turn on the light.

The first few times it happened, I screamed, assuming it was the dream monster again but I couldn't remember seeing it. Eventually I noticed the green light seemed to be associated with people who had recently died.

One green being was creepy Larry, a previous tenant who died in a parking lot of a hemmoraged lung. His green presence seemed to prefer my cabin was the first obvious connection (he lived there, after all), but he was such a malevolant presence, I screamed him away. I told him to go away—he had the wrong cabin.

After Boschka died, a green light came again and but it was not so frightening. It was a childhood neighbor, Borg Haugen, who died soon after Boschka but I didn't find out about it until months later when a check for $2000 and a copy of her will was mailed to me.

That was the first time I put my hand into the greenness instead of screaming it away and I Igot a sensation of peacefulness and an image of an older woman with grey hair. Thinking it was Boschka (who I knew was dead) I felt comforted until the letter came. The dead paying their last respects.

In San Cristobal de las Casas, at least three green appparitions came visiting several times, the night of the Harmonic Convergence. The first time, I screamed. The second time, i was irate and wanted it to go away but it was insistant and appeared again, this time coming right at me until I was up, awake, and literally running around the bed screaming.

I showed John Oliver Simon how one of the beings came to the foot of his bed —how it stood there and how it moved. I told him it was an older woman, she was dressed in a jeans skirt and Birkenstocks. We spent the rest of the night on the roof back-to-back, with arms locked—facing east and west. No use sleeping that night! The next afternoon, John received a strange message that his friend had died. And I had mimicked Kaela's stance so perfectly, John had recognized it the night before.

When we got home from South America a month later, I found that Dave Evans had also died. The insistent way they all came at me was unnerving--I didn't know I was pregnant at the time—it was as if they were all lined up fighting to be reincarnated right then and there. Thin boundaries.

We were never sure about the third presence—it felt both local and old, with much power, both good and evil. I was having trouble convincing myself or John I was making this up in my sleep. But there was a spate of murders in Chiapas that summer.

Then there was Ron, the gay, celibate, alcoholic artist—another neighbor in Cabin 6 who died right on the heels of my grandmother's death. When the light kept coming night after night, I found myself in the middle of the room trying to push back the green light. At first, I was scared, but after a few nights of ghostly visitation, when it appeared, I groaned, oh, no, not again. Frustrated, and needing a good night's sleep, I left my cabin to visit my boyfriend, John for the weekend.

It was beginning to be a bit comic—only I didn't always know who was doing the haunting. I didn't think it was my grandmother with whom I seemed to be visiting in dreams each night. Each night, she'd appear and I'd say I thought you were dead and she'd say no, they made a mistake-- I was so delighted.

Upon returning from Berkeley, I saw Ron's parents' car in front and I assumed they were visiting for the holidays. I commented to myself, oh, no! Ron's dead and went into my house. But, there was no reason to assume that. Minutes later, a neighbor came over to say Ron died. The landlady went into his cabin, found him dead on the bed. At once, I realized the light that had been bothering me was Ron trying to tell me he was dead.

All those apparitions were no longer just in the realm of my mind and with that acceptance, came the release from fear. I was getting so desperate, I was willing to try a de-haunting—and I didn't even believe in the paranormal. My friends, Susan Kennedy and Pamela Raphael were convinced my visions were real long before I did and urged me to make a creation wheel. They gave me quartz crystals to line all my windows. They gave me sage and and eagle feathers. Soon every window was an impromptu altar. I created ritual because none was in my life and I was desperate for a good night's sleep.

Being the sceptic with a crazy mother, I'm not easily convinced or seduced. Driving down Occidental road, by the Laguna, my favorite place, I saw the north peak odf Mt. St. Helena shrouded in smoke. Seeking a ceremony, I listened for instructions: I was to climb the mountain and take a piece of pottery with me from Monte Alban to the north peak. There, I was to start at Ithe north, facing Geyser Peak and make a creation wheel ceremony. North, west, east, and south. I dreamed I was to bring back five rocks from the peak of Mt. St. Helena and conduct similar ceremonies on other Bay Area peaks. The entire Bay Area became my medicine wheel.

There was also something I was supposed to find while up at the summit. But no more instructions followed. After my hike to the North Peak of St. Helena (I'd never been up the mountain before), I found the place in my dreams where I had received my "instructions" was the site of a very old Miwok graveyard.

Weeks later, I did climb up to the top of Mt. St. Helena —I wasn't sure if my knee was ready for such a strenuous trip. From the start of the hike, I kept talking about a quartz crystal the size of my thumb I'd lost as a child. John assured me several times over that I wouldn't find any crystal on the extrusive volcanic mountain.

Weeks earlier, I was talking to Judy Sohegian about my experiences and she said to place rare earth and crystals by my bed. At the top of the mountain, the peak was just like in my vision and we performed a ceremony. I circled the bluff and found a huge quartz crystal. It was probably left there by someone on the Harmonic Convergence, now a gift for me.

Without getting into laborious detail in order to proove moot points, this entire sequence was confusing. I had to find my way, and only after each part of the event occurred, did I find written information "documenting" what I'd already done/learned. The cryststal was a receiver crystal. I had unwittingly made the creation wheel and started in the north—the receiver of power. Made a z shape, not a wheel and my first gift, according to cherokee mythology, the center of the wheel is a quartz crystal.

Christmas Day, I hiked to the dolmen on our hill with Lee and made a ceremony. The bluejay who mimicked my imitation of a hawk calling landed in the bay tree and called three times. My second gift of power. I began the process of deep grieving finally, after weeks of not going in deeper. I left some of my hair as part of the offering.

At the house, I took my grandmother's hair, some gloves and a coat she'd made when she was younger than I am now. The coat and gloves a glove, and the hair was the exact same color as mine. I realized how much alike we really are/were. The process of healing had begin.

The hooded demon of night terrors still comes from time to time. But it's rarer and rarer. It's as if the ghosts of my past were finally laid to rest.

Dec. 1987 (With minute sentence structure revisions on Jjuly 14, 2014. It was loaded with ascii bits. The journal entry ended abruptly—I really didn't know where I was going with the piece, and I sure didn't know how to end it. So I added the final paragraph for closure's sake). I've no idea what to make of it all—even to this day. I'm treating it like memoir dream prose. No other thing to do. But all this stuff''s real. I didn't make it up. All duly recorded in my writer journals FWFW.

Tuesday, November 24, 1987


On turning 35 in Cabo, I reflect back.
In this life, I've stood on pahoehoe and aa,
new lava at the crater of Kilauea, steam forests and ferns.
I've watched the sunset from Haleakala,
a volcano that rises 30,000 feet above the sea floor.
I've seen the tongue of the ocean from the air,
swam in the Caribbean where a shark followed me home.
The aurora borealis glowed, but I didn't understand
northern latitudes when the sun set at midnight.
At the end of California, El Arco,
I watched frigate birds with 8 foot wingspans soar overhead.
I walked in rain forests of Kauaii and the Olympic Peninsula.
From Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain
in the continental US, I witnessed a forest fire.
I stood barefoot at Badwater, 282 feet below sea level,
and I followed worn trails in the salt flats
to hidden streams where pupfish from an earlier sea
still swim.
It took me 20 years to get to Tenochitlán,
the ancient lakebed of Mexico City,
And in the Yucatán, I climbed the pyramids
and crawled inside El Caracól, the observatory
during the winter solstice. The sun danced.
I rode to the stars while on ether, farther than
the combined distance of all my horses.
In Switzerland I climbed the Jungfrau,
rode the highest cog railway in the world
to crawl inside a crevasse in the glacier
to see the layers of ice and striations of every blue imaginable.
At the Columbia Ice Fields, I listened to the growl and hiss
of the great wall of ice that created its own cloud system.
I bathed in the Skeena River on an Indian reservation
where the glacial river numbed my skull til it cracked.
A week in the Sierras, a black bear slept on me,
I was too tired to get up and run. Probably saved my life.
I stood on the lips of Glacier Peak
and Half Dome without a rope or harness.
Half Dome I climb twice because
I forgot what it was like the first time.
At Loch Ness I didn't see Nessie
but I crawled through a dungeon in an abbey.
I had tea with the governor's wife in the Bahamas.
I didn't know that when Taikaido drummers danced
my relationship was about to end
but it took me two years to find out.
My first abortion at 24, my second at 27.
I meddled with nature, paid the price, lost the men,
stayed sick for two years, kidneys, uterus,
then a whiplash. My body weakened. My knee tore.
It took me eight years before I could ski again.
I rode an Icelandic pony called Helgar,
fiercely primitive, like a Celtic pony.
The fossils of clam shells in Central Valley cliffs
convinced me of an inland sea, but at 10,000 feet,
there are freshwater clams, how do you explain that,
or the reef fish in the sacred cenote well at Chichen Itza,
trapped miles from the sea, or hidden rivers.
The circle of candlewax in front of the stela at Cobá,
With the odor of sacred copal we welcomed the New Year.
We saw he two cuatemundis cross the road,
we ran over another one that night,
running over an endangered species.
Third time's a charm. I won't mention the turtle steak.
I saw the edge of night, the bell curve of the earth,
I saw stars and a daytime sky all at once,
sunset from an airplane flying over the North Pole.
From the air, the rift of the Grand Canyon
looked like a vast crack in the earth.
At Tikal, the temple of the Jaguar,
the howler monkey kept hidden in the canopy of trees.
Soldiers stopped our car searching for undesirables,
800 peasants have disappeared in Chiapas.
All for agrarian reform.
In downtown Mexico City, armed guards
in bulletproof vests direct traffic.
And the blood that didn't come with the moon
and the question rises once again.
The end of another relationship.
Few couples can survive the guilt.
Until I return home, I won't know if the slow bleeding
is a sign of division or multiplication.
Guerillas hide in the forests of Tikal,
the Indians, stoic in the face of soldiers,
On the Harmonic Convergence,
we celebrated at the Mayan church of Chamula,
all these roads less traveled,
but the universe unraveled....
November 24/1987
Cabo San Lucas
It looks like a page and the ending was lost, I found this in my sketchpad.
added 10.16 minor revisions.

Saturday, November 7, 1987

Andes Dream Sequence


We had almost missed the walruses who put in a sudden, rare, unexpected appearance, beached and shining like seals. We mistook them for seals until someone pointed out the glint of enormous tusks, like horns. They weren't quite like walruses. They became seals too.

I galloped my pony down to the creek but there were only some loose sheep trotting and browsing under the trees. I had some trouble with his gear. The places of this dream world are like home only grander, wilder.

At first I mistake them for familiar places. There is fear, death, creativity, flying, the horses we ride—everything is magnificent. The very weather is a force to be reckoned with. The large volcanic peak rises up thousands of feet above the sea. We took an overland short-cut over the summit of the mountain to the bay.

The road or path with its many gates and switchbacks is a bright red zigzagging gash, like warpaint against the pale green chapparal and mist-covered grasses. It faces west.

We passed between twin volcanic peaks--cones covered with bright red dirt and strange plants. Bromeliads. Sometime we'd take strenuous hikes to the top just to see the silver glimmer of the sea and the distant specks of islands and the coast. It was as if the sky were a huge inverted bowl and the islands reached up the sides until they seemed almost eye level with the mountain we were on.

We returned home to reconnoiter and pack for the journey. A young woman on horseback with a chestnut filly on a lead, galloped north up the box canyon. The filly's tiny hooves clattered on the gray cobbles. The coolness of stones like water, the secret spots sun-warmed beneath our feet. I yell at her for galloping on pavement but she doesn't hear.

There were many people who came and went in the dream. Some were like family, others were like long lost friends. Some we never saw again. Our walrus hunting party contained a collection of beings who drifted in and out. Some were constant companions like the Siamese cat perched on my backpack. He was a scout, with his cheek rubbing the back of my neck. He'd confide in me, telling me the best trail to take. Any wrong trail would loose us the chance to follow the walrus.

We reached the shore uneventfully and began to climb a steep ridge to the south. I seem preoccupied with direction in this dream. The early morning sun was to my left shoulder and the receding shadows to the west quickly crawled into their lairs to hide from the day. At dusk they crawled quickly west but the sun was an inexorable task master.

We know they reach those distant shores because we have dreams and are able to walk upon this landscape again and again. My psyche is very much tied to this place. I live in another place. Perhaps even in another time. It is an extraordinary world like through the eyes of a child with the memory of an adult.

All this time we were hurrying at breakneck speed toward the world like runaway trains. The clatter of wheels. Steel rails humming and screeching. Breathless. Vanishing point of tracks in the distance.

Each evening at sunset I feel the loss of something unnamable. Twilight. Anything can happen then. Perhaps this is why my grandmother chose to die dreaming towards evening-- the hour when long shadows form a bridge between the islands. New moon with its silver crescent resting on the tops of trees.

The cat was making sure we didn't wind up in another place, or we'd lose the thread of this dream. The trail up the ridge was extraordinarily steep. I would look up to the skies trying to follow the progression of the trail.

An occasional hiker above us like a small dot gave me some idea of scale. We climbed those ridges in search of those walruses—they were more akin to narwhals and unicorns than walruses. The ridge was steep, nearly a sheer drop into the turquoise sea.

The mountains are volcanic, scoured by glaciers in some cases. But the sea is bright turquoise blue. Tropical water like Big Sur or Hawaii. Not northern water. Odd. I stopped to rest, lying with my face buried in the close cropped dew-soaked grass because the Siamese cat was whimpering. I thought he might be thirsty, or needed to pee. Or even a bit motion sick.

His head would bob and sway, his blue eyes narrowed to slits, fixed on some distant horizon. His mind (such as it is) intent on keeping the horizon in place. We stopped on a narrow ledge. He said, you didn't even invite me to the ocean. You left me here, alone, worried." I said, "cat, I remember how much you hated the sauna. How miserable you were with your fur coat while we sweated and laughed. Some things a cat can't do because he is a cat." He sighed and said, "perhaps I'll enjoy snorkeling. At least invite me."

We could see shapes in the water. Shadows of whales and seals. I said, "can we continue our conversation in a safer place? I want to take a photo first. Could you move the backpack up a bit where it's safer and not in the picture?" He dragged the pack off the trail and he turned into a slender furry young man, his graceful markings elongating his legs.

I fumbled with my camera. At the top, we forgot the conversation. He was just a cat again. At the crest was a mountain hostel/hut of stone. Perhaps a former fort or bunker, ancient reminder of when there were terrible wars. The scars on the hill have long since healed.

A tall, gray-headed man hummed louder and louder until the hall was filled with the resonance of rubbed crystal glass. Someone spoke. I made an outrageous pun about poets. A woman who looked like Sara was there laughing. leaving my backpack on the bed with the cat, I grabbed my camera and ran down the corridor leaping into the air until I flew, feet first wobbling a little out of control because my coat I'd found on the trail was flapping out behind me like a cavernous black bird trying to fly the other way.

There was the ever-present danger of falling off the cliffs. In fact, during most of this dream I was having to be extra careful because I was afraid of slipping off the edge. It was like Switzerland at sea level. People were there from other countries. Canada, I think. lots of accents.

It was as if the clock had been turned back to the migrations of the 60's and 70's when we all traveled without fear. Women were dressed in full skirts like the peasants of the middle ages. They had red prayer rugs among their sleeping gear. They sat in alpine meadows as if they were outdoor living rooms. I was amazed by their casual use of something so valuable as a rug to go trekking.

The rain, or a thief might ruin all this loveliness. When the rugs were spread out against the pale winter grass it was lovely. The women left their possessions freely scattered about. It was difficult to tell the difference between someone's personal belongings from those who had already left—who no longer needing them, leaving them as a gift for those yet to come.

I wanted to gather up all those rugs (mantas?) and take them home. I found a small fragment of material, a rug so worn, a weft of daylight was sewn through it. The steep hillside meadows glimmered like the green of the Guatemalan highlands. On a crag, at the crest, for warmth, I used the greatcoat of heavy wool—the color was of distant forests so full of green they appear black. It was like trying to name the deep blue of nightfall before the stars pierce it through.

For the lava tunnels, I found a Duracell flashlight. Black and orange with AA batteries. We practiced leaping and flying through the tunnels that opened to the north. I think the cat wanted to join us. This time I remembered to invite him. He was appreciative and bounded along in that silly rocking horse way of cats.

Later, we went to observe the southern ocean on the other side of the terraced cliff. I was amazed by the steepness of the hill. Even the trail sloped downward enough to keep us walking deliberate and careful. The point jutted out enough to make a shallow cove protected from the northerly winds.

The mammoth flukes of a whale rose up and silently slipped into the sea without a sound. Dolphins and seals everywhere. Fumbling for a shot I nearly drop my camera. A lone rust-colored submarine (or sunken ship?) devoid of crew, drifted in the turquoise waters like a phantom ship. We hear familiar gurgles, groans and clicks. Did they come from some Argentinean shore or were they all dead inside, their bones entombed in the hull of a floating iron ship never released from their journey?

rev 11/7/87
some of this was from before I knew I was going to South America, or the Galapagos

This is probably the first draft. Note the first line leading in is what drove the piece. Seals swim upriver to steal souls & sing memory to sleep. Lost in the revised version:


Seals swim upriver to steal souls & sing memory to sleep. We almost missed the seals who made a sudden, rare appearance from the creek at the foot of my grandmother's land where it butts up to Barranca Road. Beached and shining, we mistook them for rocks until someone saw a glint of enormous tusk, massive, like the bleached horns of my goat skull. (Walruses?)

I wanted to see more of those strange beasts, and galloped my pony down towards the Stone's place, but there were only some loose sheep trotting and browsing in the shade under the creek trees. We returned home to reconnoiter and made ready for the journey. My cousins and my niece Tiffany saw us off. My aunt Toddy was in the house with my grandmother talking about the past, their arms soapy from the dishes as they dried them on the dishtowel. 

A girl riding a chestnut mare with a sorrel filly on a lead galloped north, the fuzzy baby with her protective cream undermarkings along the mane and tail would later turn to a bright red, the color of embers. I began to shout at her for gallopintg on the pavement but the horses' hooves were making that satisfying dull crunch on the small, sharp roadside gravel that brought no injury to the delicate navicular bones in the hoof. 

The filly's hooves clattered on the crushed rock pavement in a tiny tattoo drum roll. The road was made from a bed of asphalt or tar with small grey rocks the size of fingernails pressed into the soft surface. Country roads in summer are wonderful to walk on barefoot. In the shade, the coolness of stones is like water, and the secret soft spots of sun-warmed tar oozing under our scorched feet, was a legacy from our childhood. 

The filly was so young, so small and light, the brief gallop on pavement would probably not damage her legs. Besides, the young woman with the loose hair was in a hurry to get to the fireroad leading north from the box canyon of Barranca road. (Was she me?)

Following the trail of the seals, we knew they slid down Barranca Creek to Papermill Creek and out White House Pool into Tomales bay. We decided to take a shortcut up the arroyo over the summit of Mt. Barnabe to Tomales and the sea. 

Mt. Barnabe looms, a dream image of a large volcanic peak rising a few thousand above the sea. (It's not volcanic). The fire road, with its many cattle gates and switchbacks cut a bright red gash like war paint against the pale greens of chaparral and mist covered grasses. (The land formations and plants were all wrong—I suppose I was making similies in my sleep).

This place of dreams, of fear, death faces west toward the mythical Tír na nÓg, the land of enchantment. Sometimes we'd hike to the crest just to see the silver shimmering sea and the distant specks of islands. The coastline floating in the huge inverted bowl that the islands seemed almost eye level with the mountain top. 

In this place of dreams, time is skewed. The siamese cat perched atop my backpack was a scout. With his cheek rubbing the side of my neck, he'd whisper the best trail to take. Any wrong trail would lose us this chance to follow the seals. We climbed a steep ridge facing south. The morning sun beat down on my left shoulder and the receeding shadows from the west crept back into their lairs. Each night, they stretched west toward  Tír na nÓg, the blessed isles, the land of the ever-young, the land of the dead. Another country from which no one returns.

The top piece was revised 11/7 87, but I think it was written in 1985...

DREAM SEQUENCE INVOLVING MY GRANDMOTHER'S DEATH—with minor syntax revisions and last few sentences (it ended abruptly—something was lost in transition...)  on July 14, 2014. Amazingly, when we got to the Andes, it really did seem like being on the ridges of Mt Barnabe. Many similar plants—but the chaparral and grass was a strange pale green—just like in the dream. Seal/walruses? I've no idea. I am the walrus? Koo koo katchoo. Unicorns? Llamas, maybe.


The cat dragged in a wild canary, a finch really. Its tiny beak opening and closing. I rescue it, knowing it will die of shock but at least, it will be easier this way. Soon, he grows quiet in my hand and I know I will paint him for all those yellows and delicate tracings of white. And in this way he will live forever.

11 /7/1987 ? no date
(written at the same time as my weird walrus dream sequence piece)
added 9/15/2016
last line was added. I meant it, but never scribed it.

Sunday, September 6, 1987

HIDDEN LOGIC (Random Access)

1. Why it took so long to leave and get back
bears testament to the tenacity of astronomers
racing for a mystery, who worry over a rare look
at the Milky Way's inner secrets, and like clairvoyants,
they focus on the trivial magic of a planet
nursery, or the one that got away.
We may solve or witness the speed of morning light
as we board the remains of a ship
to watch the future play itself out like a giant harp.
Inside a comet's tail 500 light years away,
the notion of comprehensive life may be a lark.
Man seems destined to serve time
somewhere for his rapacity.

Who wants to halt the sale of front row seats
for a chance to win an emerald mine in guerilla territory?
Bring out the lions. Little remains of the next frontier.
When taking chances, strike for sleep or death.
It is the same thing as building worlds of crystal.

And who hasn't entertained ideas
of having taken Paris by storm
or wishing they'd slept on a train
New Orleans bound, or finding
a passage home for sunken ships
from the Bermuda Triangle?
They still seem like good ideas.

When there was a glove shortage in Hollywood
we collected shadows, stray bullets, laundry lists,
and talked of strange events like Einstein's Theory
or nude girls who start riots at airpoirts.
At the movies, it's not the woman with the golden
irrisistable charm who gets the last laugh.
The latest news of breast reduction strips us bare.
There are other secret lists.
We leave our notion of beauty and call
it everything but imperialism.

2. After a night in a hollow tree struck by lightning,
it hurt to feel my dream, a prisoner
of the morning cup of coffee,
yet you save your life by
sampling the farm-raised local delicacies.
Puberty arrived before the mail in Paris.

You'd better find another way out of the country
or face false charges for smuggling
opium-filled artifacts.
Democracy leads rebels to their deaths.
One slip could decide the manner
in which you live or die. Ask the Rosenbergs.
How lovely, this green made for springtime.

In the creole tradition,
when talking with the dead, remember
voodoo priestess send messages
with more compassion than magic
and it is good because laughter
is a sign of forgiveness.

Beneath the sea, rain disrupts the promise
of spring, and in the form of singing fish,
the dead roar back to life, finding a passage
that lures the curious like distant memories.
The world's hidden logic is another aspect
of Carnival and the infinite possibility
of an inquiring mind is riding high
on the blues in overtime
because there are patterns for everything.

Sept. 1987? 88?
If Wofitbuta, then September, 87?
original is dot matrix.
part 2, new poem?

Sunday, August 23, 1987



We climbed every pyramid in the new world.
An amber ring of melted beeswax and copal
at the foot of the stele. The New Year.

Hummingbirds keep track of 8,000 sunrises
and jaguars count katones by multiplying
the blood of generations with reed sticks.

In the temple of the Phalli,
moss-green penises, larger
than a man's head; the walls
have sanctioned innumerable couplings.

Some breathing thing makes its way
through the ruins, but no one appears
in the korbeled arches to initiate
me on the low limestone bed.

A presence of eyes staring at my back
follows me out of the jungle toward the gaggle
of tourists aiming cameras at Chac-mool.

You filled my mouth with food and jade beads
& the sky was held up by four ceiba trees.
Quetzal feathers fell from the sky

like obscure writing & we collected them
in cloth bags woven on strap looms
made of sandalwood and bone.

Chichén Itzá,
First draft, ca. 1/1/1987, Mérida, Yucatán
rev. 8/87, Napa

1988 Poet News/ Sacramento Poetry Review
1986  87 Falling to Sea Level

Thursday, August 6, 1987

There is so Much We Save from Childhood

Stephanie's mother died in the fire. A beam caught her on the forehead. She fell behind the door and Joe Bianchi never saw her until it was too late. They said the smoke killed her. They later blamed a faulty wire from a clothes drier, they blamed her drinking.

Smoke rose up like a thick black dragon snake to the empty blue sky as we walked through the fields from the bus stop. We were home from school. When he saw the source of the smoke, her brother Eric darted towards the house and the adults came running out from all sides trying to head us off but we were errant calves headed toward the barn, toward the burning light.

Steph and I stood by the corral trying to find a way to comprehend what we couldn't understand. I was almost ten. The oldest one. I held her hand. We retreated to the lower field and watched the flames eat the sky.

In the glistening cinders, we found a dog-eared photograph, an armless doll, the bent tricycle wheel, some hair tied with a grubby ribbon the color of rust and baby roses. Johanna's childhood toy horses covered with real fur and had real manes and tails that were miraculously unharmed. We indiscriminately admired the beauty of charcoal and emerald green sprouts of winter grass amid the rusted nails and glass rubble.

The end of a life, of an era. Of childhood. No more late afternoons, where we dozed off, bees buzzing to Brahm's Lullaby, when sonorous sleep blanketed the eye with the pale light of summer. The familiar gesture of a stranger, the face of a father. Not my own.

When we were impatient to grow up. Her father said, Stay children always. Stay young. His spaniel voice hung mournfully from our ears as we played. Stephanie listened and found that if she quit feeling, quit eating, Time stood still. While I hid the shame of my hunger, she denied its existence. She had climbed up out of this carnal world to a higher plane of existence. She left no ladder for me to follow.

One morning, Les placed the sick lab puppy with the blue tongue and cold feet on the oak stump to ripen in the winter sun. Its tender black ears like velvet moleskin gathered in no sound as the hatchet bit into the oak. We suspected the worst.

Somehow we got through it. We placed one foot in front of the other. As one foot lifted from the earth, we compensated for the earth's pull. We developed a trust for the way our feet brushed the surface and though we tottered on stilts always falling forward or backward, we caught ourselves at each step.

I have a vague memory of my own father asleep with his head on my mother's lap. She stroked his hair, the ocean pounded and the windows covered with spume.

When Stephanie's mother Johanna rode Binty, she let down her long black hair, a night waterfall. Binty pricked up her ears and tail, gathered in her haunches and leaped from the earth to fly up the driveway. She was no longer of this earthly plane with that precious cargo on her back.

And Binty's sister, Sununu, the red Arabian swallow, whinnied out a welcome as if her heart were about to burst.

Gravel scuttled in all directions, like our childhood.

Stephanie confided in me that her mother was a Russian translator for the United Nations. Johanna majored in Slavic languages at UC Berkeley. She was being watched by the government. We overheard words like McCarthy and FBI. Mimi spoke little English. Devuchka, she'd say.

Speaking the language of the enemy was enough to condemn a person during the purges. This I learned later. Hellman. Hammett taking the Fifth. Red diaper baby! It became a dream to go to Russia because of Johanna but I never rode troikas in the snow.

Astride Binty, Stephanie's thin legs barely reached half-way to the mare's sides. Binty knew the weight of the rider was not of Johanna, so she ran us into the sides of barns, and off cliffs to rid us of the memory.

Soon no one but Steph would ride her. Whether by grief or boredom, Binty began to chew on the barn. First the manger disappeared, then the stalls, soon the barn was as hollow as our hearts.

Binty turned white with age. Stephanie got married, moved away to the desert, got thin after the children were born, it was as if the Arizona sun sucked all the moisture from her bones. Later the cancer would come and drink the marrow from her bones but on some level, Steph was already gone.

They said Binty died with a splinter in her throat from chewing on too many fences. She'd eaten most of the barn with her nervous cribbing. They tried everything to make her stop. Creosote, electric fences, but she chewed that wood as if she was trying to devour every last molecule of scent from her lost mistress.

Johanna no longer needed watching. But sometimes Binty would raise her tail like a banner and run in the pasture as if Johanna were astride.

Stephanie and her two brothers moved into their grandmother Mimi's house at the foot of the road. We made daily pilgrimages past the charred house to feed the horses. Scoured, blackened wood glistening in the rain-heavy grass mesmerized us with its jewel-like splendor.

Perhaps it was because we were both raised by grandmothers, my mother was alive but not present, or because we born a year and two days apart, we were psychic twins.

I remember Johanna so clearly. In spring, she drove us the long way to the store. Sometimes we took the low road to Forest Knolls or the back road around Mt. Barnabe to Olema. As she pointed to Bolinas Ridge, the dark green oldsmobile gently nosed into the stonecrop-covered cliff for a closer look.

Next spring, I took Johanna's name for my conformation name. When it was my turn to approach the Bishop, I solemnly marched up to the altar and kissed his alexandrite ring, but he stopped and said it wasn't a Christian saint's name. He said he couldn't confirm me. The music stopped. Mortified, I replied I didn't care. She was someone I loved. My best friend's mother. She was with grace.

He asked, Would I take Jane? NO. I was so frightened I nearly peed myself but I didn't waver, though it meant excommunication. Eyes of the church upon me. The horrified nuns buzzed in each other's ears, they came up with a solution, and put Joanne, a diminutive Joan of Arc, on my certificate.

Stephanie's horse, Gay Girl, the thoroughbred, didn't get up one winter morning. Steph's brother placed the muzzle of the rifle very carefully over her small white star. A part of our childhood disappeared, locked into memory, as close as kin, as close as air.

A rusted snaffle bit hangs on a nail inside the barn where the swallows gather cobwebs ladened with powdered hay dung. I can't bear to look at the ridge without remembering the way Johanna admired the view of the purple fringed hills and dark shadowy forests on the north slopes. This place, a refuge.

Poor Johanna, living in the country, trapped by domestic life, a brilliant mind, branded by fire. I never knew her maiden name. That day when the house burned to the ground, Stephanie and I became blood sisters, we both had open wounds.

© 2007 Maureen Hurley. A shorter version of this was printed in Creative Discourse, Petaluma, CA 1987, but written earlier. When?

Other horse bits

Tuesday, July 28, 1987


— for Boschka Layton

From the ivory piano keys comes an ache
that cannot fill the cavity of this room;
the desire for slim youthful bodies,
love, and chocolate at midnight.

I am a guilty house guest rummaging through drawers,
and in the overabundant cabinets filled with canned food;
prune/apricot soup and small pyramids of jars
filled with seven kinds of mustard.
In the freezer, diet meals sleep in cybernetic suspension.

From this feast of dark chocolate and blueberries
my cheek numbs and swells like a beesting. Allergy.
Small, opaque stones; pills glistening in my hand
to push the darkness back into its corners.
I have trouble breathing & I'm afraid
of dying in the intimacy of a stranger's house
like my friend Boschka, with her wild drooping cheek,
and aslant smile which provoked
occasional screams from unsuspecting infants
and even the most seasoned of friends.

The melodious Bell's Palsey resounds in my ear
and my face takes on the same shape as hers.
She died in a bed not her own
and her ashes under the gravenstein tree,
were made into apple pies as she wished
but something in her hungers for this world.
I feel like the outside cat, close to death,
desperate to come into the forbidden house
one last time.

Dave Evans died in right after the conference. I never went back.
rev. 11/88
Steve Kowitt's class

1989 Outerbridge

Thursday, July 23, 1987


This blue vessel of my heart
is shaking, hollow
before winter crawls out
of the oven of summer.
Parachuted with weights,
there is no more sky
left to hold up the air.

Napa State Hospital
added 9/2016

Wednesday, July 22, 1987


Like an outrageous sea cousin of the jellyfish
a hot air balloon hovers atop a sea of grape vines
it contracts and expands;
the hissing and snapping of flame
tongues fill the bag with hot air
and five people—some climbing in,
others climbing back out
in chaotic patterns  ready for safari
dressed in kahki and telephotos
they stalk the grapes
the farmer runs out of his house
shaking his fist at the tourists
who paid $500 a head to sail above his grape sea
destroying his vines—
more money than he'll get for his crop
Meanwhile in the next pasture,
a horse and donkey have stopped their
morning grazing to watch the spectacle
of this strange fish floating
in the midst of their breakfast

7/21/1987? 7/22?
7/94 saved


Like an outrageous above sea cousin of the jellyfish, 
the hot air balloon with rainbow colors
drifts over a sea of grape leaves, 
it contracts and expands, 
the hissing and snapping of flame tongues filling the bag.
Five people in and out at the gondola, 
someone getting in others getting out, chaos, 
dressed in khaki and sporting telephotos. 
The farmer comes running out of his house 
shaking his fist at the tourists 
who paid top dollar to sail above this vineyard
At those who are destroying his vines
Meanwhile in the next pasture
the horse and donkey have stopped their morning grazing 
to watch the spectacle of stinging jellyfish 
in the middle of their breakfast 
The hot air balloon lands later, near my car,
in the Napa State Hospital parking lot, 
the patients are thrilled beyond belief, 
there is a cop is writing the balloonists a ticket 
and there is a general hubbub and howling 
how will I be able to teach today?

Tuesday, July 21, 1987



Like an outrageous above sea cousin of the jellyfish,
a hot air balloon in rainbow colors
drifts over a sea of grape leaves,
it contracts and expands,
the hissing and snapping of flame tongues filling the bag.
Five people dangle in and out at the gondola,
someone getting in, others getting out, pure chaos,
They're dressed in khaki and sporting telephotos. 
The farmer comes running out of his house
shaking his fist at the tourists
who paid top dollar to sail above this vineyard
At those who are destroying his vines
Meanwhile in the next pasture
the horse and donkey have stopped their morning grazing
to watch the spectacle of stinging jellyfish
in the middle of their breakfast
The hot air balloon lands later, near my car,
in the Napa State Hospital parking lot,
the patients are thrilled beyond belief,
there is a cop is writing the balloonists a ticket
and there is a general hubbub and howling
how on earth will I be able to teach today?

not sure of the date, other than it's towards the end of July, 1987. I wrote out of sequence in my journal, while I was driving to work.  Could be 7/14, or 7/21;, or 22; probably not 23.


Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 21 & 23

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Days 17-20

7/21, Tuesday I typed up poems at home. This is wrap-up week. I need to do my final bill this week.

Anabelle's class went well, the kids were friendly and pleased to see me and I gave them poems and we made editing changes. They did some drawings. I handed back their work and they were very excited.

Linda's class, my favorite class ever. They began making their poem posters, we did some final editing. Carol wrote her first real poem unasked. New kid and Chris did a surfing poem. Benjamin had trouble settling down so far, no problems from him. Yvonne swears she wrote a typed poem, so does Louis—who to believe? Who wrote the poem? This is like the biblical story of the two mothers and one baby. Now I'm less certain who wrote those other poems out of class as well there could be a forgery ring going on.

Afternoon wrap up Floy's class didn't show up after I typed up all those poems.
Mark worked on the computer with his own poem. We worked on some other poems in his morning critique.

Alison's class is next. I'm feeling a bit poorly and don't mind the cancellations. The computer is making me nauseous. No I don't really have time to write, or I do really have time to write and there's nothing to write about.

7/23 Thursday Wednesday recap. AM wrapup, PM group canceled. I've been typing poems nonstop for days, trying to return everyone's work.

Linda is getting started on the poem posters and possibly Bonnie too for the final art project.

Thursday later, Jocelyn canceled, but it's still a whirlwind of a day. Lockdown groups on on T – 12.

I probably put in 80 hours this week. Thursday and next week beyond what I'm paid on the contract. I need to take time off in September. Still no paycheck.

Linda's other group was glad to see me, they brought brownies for us. How sweet. Even Craig came out of his hundred mile-per-hour world to make some sense. It seems very real in there. Must be the lockdown ward.

I told Vance about how Pamela likes his poems. He was pleased. He wanted to know who would replace me. I said, I'm impossible to replace. Sometimes they just need lively banter. They weren't to take they want to continue this project when I'm gone. I need to give Susan some ideas.

So I really enjoy this residency and sad to see it end, but boy am I ready for a break. I'm ready for it to end.

Thursday is my toughest and best of day.

Rehab end Louis's group, the adolescents are sweet.

Forget about the fourth through sixth grade boys.

Anabelle's kids were good this time too.

I'm committed to getting a poem from everyone for the book or, books?

Lots of adolescents. The month break will make it easier for me to do the book.

STATS: Direct contract 110 people and about 20 staff have written poems with me. For approximately 20 days. Some have worked with me for six sessions, others as few as one or two sessions, a few have worked with me 8 to 10 times. That makes it similar to a CPITS residency. Average exposure is 5 to 6 sessions.

The half-hour model program was thrown out.  I was told that a 20 minutes attention span was the most I would get. And I was told to try to make the classes shorter yet.

And most sessions were at least an hour. And I knew they were very roll. The age span of my clients was anywhere from fourth grade to 80 years of age. Of the 110 people I worked with, +20 staff, over half, about 50 to 60, were adolescents. Approximately 57 into in three classes, I tried to count them only once I was not always successful. About five people worked with me only once. There was an overwhelming repeat audience even among the dropouts. Going to class and working with them directly is still the best way.

Imagine if the dollar
was going to crawl down the street
like a snail, then rain would fall
declines back up into the sky
without knowing
the shape of the land.

This blue vessel of my heart
is shaking, hollow
before winter crawls out
of the oven of summer.
Parachuted with weights,
there is no more sky
left to hold up the air.

Some random nonsense
I am not doing word salad with the patients,
there is order,
I'm trying to open up their preconceived ideas,
which are very narrow,
of what writing really is.
Every once in a while
I run into a word salad writer
and it's a challenge
to get them to write coherently.
I should talk, using word cards
my work is word salad as well
so here I am introducing structure
when I'm normally inclined
to go the other direction.

I still have not found my final journal with CAC wrap up notes. But I did find this from our Castles in the Air bookparty. 2/18/1988

Letter to my Napa State Hospital Poetry Students