Wednesday, February 25, 1987

2/25 Journal


I need to write in longhand to soothe my brain before I get into revising my calendar, such a left-brained activity. All those dates to keep, it destroys my mood for writing.

Journal entry here, no problems today. Frost outside, frozen pipes. Small glass bones emerge from the hose and sing like wind chimes. I think of the old Celtic riddle of the bone the melts. The ancient Celts didn't have hoses, yet they saw the connection.

I spent yesterday in bed, flat out as my neck adjustment left me weak and sore, an unexpected holiday from reality. I've managed to work the computer from the prone position, not as much weight on my neck that way. It's magic to write on the computer, however I doubt I'll give up my hard copy. The act of cursive writing soothes my brain and steadies me.

The computer is better for revision. Something I've never been able to do much of, and my work suffers for it. So, this will be the year of revision. I actually want to stay home and to write and to revise.

It is difficult to write and to teach and to see John all at the same time, but I believe I've just begun a new pattern that feels a bit saner. Can I juggle all three at once? Of course, next year I will have no idea what I'll be doing. CPITS?

I know now that I don't want Devorah's job I don't want to be Statewide Coordinator. I can't even handle the stress of being an Area Coordinator right now. The thought of 60% time working on grants is a grim proposition.

So what's next in the wings? CPITS is like a small monarchy. Can I work with Duane BigEagle if I take Paula Gocker's assistant job? Do I even want to get involved on that level and what about the grant writing proposition with Lee? Is that even more stress? I ask is there anything I want to do that doesn't involve stress?

I'm sleeping late these days. As it is, I am hyperactive and then when the inner kid reemerges, I'm also excited about life. Somehow all the bustle makes me feel vitally alive. Wish there was a less stressful way to make it so. I have such a need to produce work, and to get my work out there in the world.

I also need to go do a good job on my current commitments. Photos to John for his project, document Gail Newman's project, a lot happening these days. I got my list of photos off to American Poetry Review for the top 100 poets. Then there's the lesser ones.

I need to follow up on that Napa Gallery offer, a part of me still says no, I don't want it. What to do when an opportunity strikes, or in this case, hits me over the head? Jump on it, or let it go willfully and without regret?

John said that Jennifer Jones of KPFA wants me to read on the air. The Storer TV reading is supposed to air on March 6. So much going on and all these contests are forcing me to revise my work on the fly. And I have so little time that I have to jump in without thinking Zen mind, make choices, and just stick to them. No time for indecision.

The IRS wants to arrest me for back taxes. Those years after the accident, where I was barely surviving, I have to reconstruct those records soon, and get them off my back. The fucking government squeezing blood from turnips. I don't believe in paying taxes. I don't even earn enough to pay taxes, but my CAC grants brought me out into the open and now they know about me.

Monday, February 23, 1987

ON WRITING


Experience in search of a form
becomes articulate
in the minutiae of detail.
How I use my creative potential
a small portion of the time,
and how I rarely write down
the long flowing inner dialogs,
because I'm waiting for a crystalline
moment to focus in on,
which never comes in that form.
So I wait in vain. Meanwhile,
the Muses capriciously pollute
their teachings with the droll facts
of dailiness until we capsize.
This is not new information—
but poetry is like that.

2/1987

Prior claim


A turmoil of images bombarded me when I got home. As I drove down Nicasio Road, I reached for pen and paper but instead grabbed a dull kitchen knife. Then I grabbed a pencil with no lead. Then I grabbed the gauge for the tires, all apt symbols.

My neck collar prevents me from seeing what I am writing. And I hold onto connected fragments that I'm not able to record. Only to lose them all. No placeholders.

I drive by RuccaRucca Ranch, and am flooded with memories. The first time I rode Frankie's horse around Nicasio Reservoir, she was so sure it was alive, she was shivering, and it was all I could do to get her to walk along the fire road. We sat around in the kitchen drinking strong coffee and smoking dope while Jerry and Micky jammed in the living room.

I think of the Grateful Dead and the obscene amount of money they used to buy that land. I loved their music, and can recite all the names of the rock stars in the Valley, the Grateful Dead Jefferson Starship, Santana. But when their records sold, they suddenly had lots of money, and they bought up chunks of the land. And our taxes went up.

We smoked dope and danced at RuccaRucca Ranch but underneath it all I never allowed myself to be seduced by it all. Perhaps this is why I refused to buy their records in the first place. I was a conscientious objector.

Last night, Jane was raging on about communism, while we were there protecting them, they were taking our freedom. I ask, what has to do with Nicaragua? I am apolitical. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Byron. We are all suspect. I believe my friends in Nicaragua are telling the truth, and the truth has many faces.

I had forgotten how loudly the pine trees roar when the north wind circles the valley. Or how the stars look more correct framed by this particular fold of hills, or how difficult it is to write left-handed.

Over Pt. Reyes Road, while writing this down, a finite shifting of gears, wordplay and interplay make both writing and driving barely possible. I have a hard time going home it's even harder to leave west with the night. Beryl Markham wrote: if you have to leave home, do it swiftly, go as far as you can, and never come back.

I am even more enraged when my rage toward my mother softens. She reaches over me to dip her hands into the sunlight from the south window. I think my hatred is so thick sometimes it clots the air. She says she gets depressed when she can't go outside.

The wind howls, and catches itself on the corners of the house and in the hexagonal sieves of the chickenwire fence outside. I am a spy here. Taking notation. This disengages me from some of the rage.

All of the new owners of this land, part of which I hold a shared trust in, on a piece of paper for unbuildable allotment of land that I want to return to, and can never seem to leave behind.

So many strangers have grown into their justified rights of ownership. There's a new no trespassing sign on the corral gate. Is it  meant for us we who actually own the land, by our very years here, have prior claim, or do the newcomers?

These newcomers have been here a while now, these strangers who can never fathom the memories I hold. Horse Hill, the old hitchingpost, now someone's faux castle. On the path by Arroyo Creek where I rode by my horse in summer, now has three new houses—three white elephants rising huge in Bianchi's field. I feel physically ill by their presence. This progress we measure by planting massive houses over the green fields of the past.


Wednesday, February 18, 1987

Last Run


I felt betrayed when John took me down that last slope knowing I was so tired. It was the last run of the day, and I had a bad knee. I said I didn't want to go down that slope several times. It fell on deaf ears.

When I asked him which slope he wanted to go down, I wanted to relinquish control, and offer him the choice as a token offering of our last run. When he chose that particular run, I felt I had to go through with it, though my commonsense said no way!

If I looked at it from his perspective it was possible to get down the hill. It would really please him if I said yes. I was doubtful, which affected my skiing ability.

When I took a nasty spill near the top, I should've said no, but I felt once committed, I had to follow through. And I was too tired to ski the run.

It was a nightmare getting down the hill. I couldn't turn to the right because the muscles in my left knee were fatigued. Snow conditions were terrible. Wet snow, an ungroomed slope, and lots of potholes and bushes. But I had to get down that slope.

I was more angry than scared. Angry with myself for going along with John's suggestion, angry that my knee wouldn't work, angry that my skills weren't good, etc.

When I got to the bottom of the hill, I hated John for getting me into this mess in the first place. Or for getting myself into the mess.

Yes, I could've exercise free will and said no, pushed John into a safer run, but I didn't want to do that – all because of my wanting to please him. So I got angry. I had worked myself into a situation I couldn't back out of for fear of losing face. And now I had a sore knee to babysit.

VALENTINE TO JOHN

VALENTINE TO JOHN

You, my valentine, never received this card
after a weekend on the slopes of Mt. Shasta
We skied on a form of pure light.
In the darkness of the car trunk,
the Lemurians kept it from you.
While we ate white chocolate
the pomegranate seeds within me
pulled toward the darkness
wanting their due.
This is what comes of childhood,
old broken paths, losing our way
but we can go on from here
because each path is always new.

2/18/1987

Saturday, February 14, 1987

Red Pepper


The red pepper I sprinkled on my brother's tongue glowed like rare earth and the tears rolled down his cheeks. I thought it was funny, how much water he drank to quench the fire. I traded him my pennies and nickels for his small thin dimes with wings explaining the nickels and pennies were bigger and fatter than his old dimes. Silver winged Mercury caught my greedy eye and I extolled the virtues of copper Lincolns, Buffaloes, and Indians. We traded wooden nickels from the general store.

Living on the edge of nostalgia !living in a house with wood heat, and the copper tub with its veridian streaks simmering on the stove for dishes laundry and our baths. Sometimes Grandma would lug steaming tubs to the real bathtub on the back porch with claw feet. One hot summer day we filled it with cold water from the spring but my cousin Bill pooped in it. We all jumped out screaming and he just sat in the cool white water not knowing what the fuss was all about.

The kerosine stove glug-gluging from the amber-pink wine jug with a biting odor, as I lay between the green enamel stove legs shaped in that classic turn-of-the-century harp curve. And the new yolk sunshine plastic bowl melted from the heat of the burner but the buckwheat pancakes my grandmother made filled the need in my stomach more solid than stone. I had no idea it wasn't to last, that I'd spend most nights awake, wondering where she'd gone to and the beginnings of invisible threads tugging at me during these countable rotations of the earth.

Hot Vienna Bread every Sunday, the bacon and eggs that always made me sick, but I ate them anyway—and reading the Funnies, rituals of childhood. After years of not buying the paper, I buy it each Sunday because there is a mortal comfort in that small insignificant action. I eat bacon and eggs that still make me feel sick and at the end of the week, the piles of newspapers, starters for the morning fire to keep us warm throughout the winter.

The first time I saw snow falling on these coastal hills—a white blanket transformed the known world into a place almost familiar, like visiting home in dreams where things aren't quite as you remember them. That’s how you tell the difference between the real and the unseen. My red robe bled against all that white !and, cold gnawing at my bare feet giving them a taste, a forerunner of the deaths to come.

And those winged dimes what happened to them? Did we spend them on candy or raccoon tails at the general store, or did their thin silver trails slip into cracks only to be rendered visible under the light of the moon that appears so infrequently in dreams?




I have no idea when this was written early 1980s. Sometime during the dot-matrix days. That makes it as late as 1989.


Saturday, February 7, 1987

FROM THE EGYPTIAN



FROM THE EGYPTIAN

Like young chicks without feathers, 
the wet birds skim under the moon
three nights later
a hawk measures the sky 
with invisible ropes
and in this deep pool
where the young calf dances
people come to drink
A heron raking the water with his legs
drags a stream of tulips
veed feathers of water in his wake.

2/7/1987
a transliteration from the Egyptian

BEYOND THE REEF


The siren in the night
The calling of a whale
And beyond the beef
A thunderhead gathers
and takes in the sea.
I am breathing beside my body
The distant earth is my blood.
The heart of this universe is pale.
White blood of the galaxy
And this crayon of the sea colors the air.
And I am working hard
Looking for something
beyond the reef.

2/7/1987
a transliteration

FROM THE EGYPTIAN