Tuesday, July 28, 1987

BLUEBERRIES

— 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.



7/28/1987
Dave Evans died in right after the conference. I never went back.
rev. 11/88
Napa
Steve Kowitt's class

1989 Outerbridge








Thursday, July 23, 1987

BLUE VESSEL



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.

7/23/1987
Napa State Hospital
added 9/2016

Wednesday, July 22, 1987

HOT AIR BALLOON




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


FREEWRITE

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

FREEWRITE

FREEWRITE

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.


HOT AIR BALLOON

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.

Frewrite
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



Thursday, July 16, 1987

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 16




Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Days 15-16?

7/16, Thursday, a week later, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with my journal. My schedule is so filled at at this point, I have no down time. No time to reflect. So now I'm trying to catch up, after class, on my time. In the employee parking lot. These three pages only represent Thursday. I haven't even covered Tuesday and Wednesday which were equally intense.

Basically all is going well. More people are checking out the program and it's beginning to take off as a pilot project, it's working well and this definitely suggests that a there is a strong need for similar programs. Funding is always a problem.

There are many highlights each day. Working with the teenagers now takes up a large portion of my time, I prefer them to the fourth and sixth graders who are more out-of-control. They're not crazy, they're just little hellions who've gotten away with misbehaving and are proud of the anarchy of their success,. And all of them are boys. Need I say more?

Thursday I finally dressed one kid, John, down when he was rude, as it was getting worse and worse. He tried to lie his way out and I called him on it. I did get an apology from him, but in the process, he upset the others. We had to isolate him. 

Joey said to me, I really like poetry. And just like that, the bitter tide was turned, but four more weeks of this…? The other kids were on model behavior the rest of the session. John started out so promising. Somehow he got it into his head to be an asshole. And there was no turning the tide.

I met a second time with Linda Wargo's new group, lots of kids who are in other classes, so I'm seeing some of them two times a week—and are they ever progressing. Wow! I just have to be ready to leap with my lessons, or change them on the spot, so there's not too much repetition. Louis in particular, shows signs of becoming a really gifted writer and he often tells me how he loves it. This is a great group—unlike the Wednesday group. Ironic in that Linda says that is her low group. 

Floy's two new afternoon groups are resistant and there's a lot of mouthing; they say I don't want to do this. They have ingrained attitude problems. Starting at ground zero breaking down the walls again.

With Linda's group this is not a problem. The attitude cases drive me nuts because it's all about posturing and bullshit. But here they are, locked away in Napa, because they lost their Juvenile Hall passes. I think they're coaxed into participating in some classes, mine included. I suspect a little corporal punishment early on would've been in order for some of them. Not something one want to voice aloud. Too late now. 

Most of the kids aren't clinically crazy. Just survivors of a bad home life. I dislike having to be tough and to call their bluffs. There are better ways to communicate, but it seems the adult/authority challenge is part of the process. Or the process of challenging as part of the process.

Linda's community rehab group, comprised mostly of chicana teenage girls, is great. They come in all uptight not knowing what to expect and then I come on neutral and then I get them loosened up and we were laughing irreverently and being silly, making up outrageous poems. The lone male in the group, a black man, said, I had no idea it was going to be this outrageous and fun. He's aboard.

I'm introducing playfulness as a way of problem solving. Very little levity happens in Napa. It's a very serious place. Unfortunately the young kids mistake this for fucking around time. And then I have to be both good cop and bad cop. I'm schizophrenic, and so am I, said the Gemini.

Linda's and Bonnie's groups overlapped, so they combined classes. But Marcus wanted to schedule a personal critique time in the midst of it all. At one point, I was running different lessons between three separate tables. I got Bonnie's group settled in and working, and then I met with Marcus, who is from the same ward, then I ran back to Linda's group. It was too much, and I shrieked, You'll have to excuse me, I'm having a split personality right now—and we all cracked up. 

Despite its size, it all worked out fine. I'm much more at ease with the groups, and I'm able to tell them my fears and insecurities and the risks I'm taking. The drugs they take are so potent, it's hard for them to fight the medication, and be themselves, but I'm pushing them harder to do just that.

In the men's lockdown ward, Raymond finally gave up his—I'm so crazy—routine, and he wrote a long poem, unasked. I had them write about things they didn't know they loved. 

Kirk didn't show up until later. It was so funny, he came in shouting out his lines—he who didn't want to be in the group to begin with. Carl came undone; he was holding his head and howling—it's too intense it's too intense—and he rushes to the bathroom to retch. And someone else is shouting this is way radical. Wow, cool! They were acting like college kids. Someone asks:  is poetry supposed to be radical?

Two new guys are slow but we are getting there. Today they comment that I didn't need to tear the curtains off the wall to get their attention. I had their attention from the get-go.

Afternoon class: Earl and I explore the renga form on the computer. 

In Brook's group, Michael, who claims he has been illiterate for 14 years, because he can't read without glasses, has lost several pair on violent wards.  He's not used to thinking anymore. So it's all a stretch. However he is beginning to blossom. I took down a poem from him about his life, a road game, we did a poem on what's in a name.

Rick has outbursts of violent behavior. Brooke is able to calm him down. But I can't read his writing, I think he's an ex-cop…I tend to shy away.

Mellow Ned doesn't respond to anything right away, he has a distinct synapse lapse, but clearly he is very gifted with words. He loves writing in rhyme, and the lyric format. He was he is a musician after all.


In Linda's groups I'm beginning to collect drawings for the book. We began a watercolor poster, with the Wednesday group. Wednesday at noon a kid jumped in front of a semi, a suicide. One girl said I smell smoke. It must've been the creek Oregon fire. There is reason for concern. Too many eyes light up at the smell of smoke. Napa has the highest per capita rate of arsonists in the entire state. Fire is a big deal here.

What I've learned is to not take the patron's participation handicaps at face value but to push them gently to get what I want, and to be open about my attitudes and misconceptions, a heavy dose of reality. I am able to articulate and to talk about this place without feeling I have to be delicate, or that there are taboos—other than their privacy rights. 

Howard, after seeing his poem typed up, really liked it. He's an odd one, the chess playing savant. Wednesday afternoon, a formerly dead time, I had a group of men gathered around me and we were all discussing writing. I got a glimpse from the outside looking in, the camera panning in, it's actually working. Success. What happens when I leave?

Freewrite

the time for spring is beyond us
I am tired of all the things 
both visible and invisible
This tightness of ribs 
where the night stars show through
Listen she sighs slowly
I hear nothing

Thunderbolts in a slow sky
Have no need for pathways.

The emptiness of wine glasses 
like sad sunsets 
the frames a ladder to the shadowy past.
I am left in the dust
Who can hear the questions the woman asks
Young beggarsquaking in the roots
This the last week of summer 
before the fall creeps in
Melodious notes of dry grass before rain
We each desire something from the rain

Tuesday, July 14, 1987

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 14

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Day 14


Tuesday 7/14. The days are so filled, I barely have time to type up homes for each class, let alone working my own journal.

Michael G stops by and I get him on the computer to rewrite his poems. This time he really got into it, and did some good revising, to the point of overworking it.

Alison's class, Louis, Julie, Christine, Sarah and a new girl. We did a lesson from Kenneth Koch's Wishes, Lies and Dreams. Louis has been writing outside of class. I recognized his poem—it was great but it was  written by Yvonne. Plagiarism is alive and well at Napa. They are wanting positive feedback so they'll even stoop to copying each other's poems, and think I won't notice.

Howard wanted his poems typed up, he's not so paranoid these days, and seems to like them. He has new stitches over his eye. I'm afraid to ask.

Lunch, Linda Wargo and I discuss the poem posters. Her group comes in late. We do a poem based on Wishes, Lies and Dreams. as well.

Some new kids in Floy's class, plus the ones who worked with me before. They know the drill, and get right down to business. I can see the difference already. Rod, Julie, Eric, and Kane—plus a new girl who wrote in Spanish.

Recap: Less time than ever to record the daily events. This afternoon Linda's rehabilitation group (a new group) was still working, when I had another new group join us too. But Marcus wanted my individual attention for a critique, and I said, excuse me, I have a split personality today.

Monday, July 13, 1987

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 13

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Day 13

7/13/ Monday. Darrell C. asks for an independent critique I moved it from 1 to 2:30 PM. He wants to know if he can publish a manuscript and he wants to know about sci-fi, and he is also very interested in the process of copyright. He's owning his work. I need to look into the William James foundation see if there's any help for him there.

We look at forms and structure, it was a good critique, the three best poems he chose included the two sci-fi pieces. They were looser than the one he read in class. We talked about editing—the hard work. I suggested that he rewrite four of his poems and gave him some writing assignments. He needs to write about being in Napa not just about elves. He has a good voice but he's prone to abstract ideas.

Heber met me at the door. What a change in him. The sullen man come alive. He's apologizing for not writing anything, but he said that he really wanted to. He's got a good ear and he said that his delusions may get in the way of accomplishing something, always an excuse.

Darrell said the drugs make him less motivated. I told him he still has to keep on trying. Keep fighting. That's the artist's path.

Chuck showed up at half an hour late for his appointment so I didn't see him.
Howard wanted to talk—him, the non-talker—about his poem. He's concerned that someone may read it and then, know of something him. He was annoyed at the prospect. It was a Earl's appointment time, so I couldn't deal with him other than to say that I wouldn't type it up, if he felt uncomfortable about it.

3 to 4 PM Earl and I had a great time. I really like him. We talked of haiku. He dictated a couple of lines in a poem about Fujisan and read a few of Issa's haiku translated by Lucien Stryck.

In the middle of our critique time, a woman came running in, a teacher Floyd D, who wanted to schedule a few classes for her adolescent group. Eric is one of her kids and he's loving the poetry workshops. Raving about them. That's how she found out about them.

The poetry program is really beginning to have an impact. People I don't even know, say hi and wave to me as I drive by in my VW bug. Word is out. The inmates like me and they like what I'm doing.

Floyd said that she had seen me read in Sebastopol, so my name value is increasing. So ironic that the recognition I wanted is now merely a byproduct of what I am doing, living the life, being the artist, but not wishing for it.


FREEWRITE

Ancestral cairn,
the sky singing of tongues
from ironclad clouds
this cold, red road to the sun,
the ancestral wind
swims like a fish in the rain

A man's horn filled
with flowered words
and broken tables

Paper lion feeding on words
shaped cloth around my knees
falling like dusk to the ground

7/13 Driving country roads,
their twists and turns remains secretive
until I leave each band and curve,
and it unwinds like an arrhythmic black snake, or a ribbon.
The intimacy comes with time,
and I look forward to certain bend
that remind me of other roads,
passing under the redwoods at Papermill Creek
is very much like Mark West Springs Creek.
Like with Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Road
I'm beginning to recognize a particular band
not only by its forward face
but by how it looks coming the other way
in late afternoon, like film clips played in reverse,
there's that odd sensation as the reverse image
meshes with the current one,
engaging two points of view.
The road threads between the mountains
along the silver needle of the creeks in late summer.

COUNTRY ROADS




PORTER CREEK (no efile) see Country Roads



July 1987 Napa
This became another poem, 

Thursday, July 9, 1987

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 9

K


Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Day 12

7/9 Thursday. Jocelyn's class is late again, the kids are crazy, we didn't accomplish much. We made letter poems but the there were too many attitudes problems. Last week's negative kid dictated a poem to me without being asked.

In Linda Wargo's class, two kids from another class Louis and Julie joined us. Louis and Julie were so jazzed from the Tuesday afternoon class, they were so excited about working on a poem. Word cards rock, said Louis. He told me he tried to write more poems back on the ward but it wasn't the same. We had a 45 minute session. We wrote using word cards, and my name is like... Linda said she will have the students make drawings for their poems for the second hour.

Ward T – 12, three guys asleep on the table, three new customers. One is light footed, so the doors need to be kept locked. It's stuffy in the classroom. I'm glad to see Darrell's back, and that Kurt's still sticking it out.

We read their poems from last session. Kirk's god poem is not bad. It's an uneven group, but Darrell's a real poet. I read the Soledad poem to them. I also read Nazim Hikmet's,Things I Didn't Know I Loved. They quit fidgeting around and look begin to listen when they realize Hikmet's writing from prison. Something clicks. Hector wants to read the second half of the poem. I tell them to underline parts of the poem they like. I'm trying to get them to become active readers.

We made a group poem about Napa. They're still not totally into it. So I tell them to talk about this place and I ripped the curtain from the window and say look out that window, there are bars. Talk about this place. At that point I had their undivided attention and we wrote a long poem together. It was a breakthrough day.

It's not all cigarettes and drugs. their shaken out of their their stupor now.
Mitch write some moving poetry. Nurses shoes like clocks. They're impressed by my craziness and they open up.

I have an appointment with Darrell after lunch to have a one-on-one session. His poem was okay, at least it was rea.  it'll be interesting to see what happens next week.

FREEWRITES
These must be word cards 

we were schooling reality 
teaching it how to walk 
like a woman with a basket 
balanced on her head 
and her smile playing with the sun. 


The future dawn in a tree 
slowly with dry thoughts


My name is like the hourly perfume of bells 
my name is the light behind the clouds


Tired blackboard of glass shatters 
beneath the stars of hope 
and the bricks of emptiness
fill a room with nothing more than air.


the rich perfume of winter 
reminds us of the futures not taken 
the resurgence of light scatters the hours 
until the sand, lonely for the shape 
of an hourglass, repeats its endless task.


The cup of sadness dropped from the counter 
and baby corn was a factor 
because the basis for a civilization 
is hidden within the tenants of time.






Wednesday, July 8, 1987

MANNA


From the whirlwind of a passing truck,
the robin's body luffed & raised
like a leaf; orange breast flashing
the dawn back into the sky.

I wanted to stop the car, mend
the random fluttering of small wings
in their strange and useless flight,
& turn this tiny teacher of Icarus
back toward the sun.


7/8/1987

1989 Sculpture Gardens Review



FREEWRITE

From the from the wind of a passing truck 
the body of a robin luffs and raises 
like a leaf and autumn leaf 
the orange breast flashing
the color of dawn back to the morning sky. 
Tiny wings flutter randomly useless 
in its strange head over head flight 
along the side of the road, 
fragile grayness like a soft fog, 
no longer lifting into air, 
the last flight of the robin 
into another kind of world.
Early autumn
Where the steady pool of darkness 
descends upon us all 
neck broken, his head tucked under one wing 
for preparation of that final sleep. 
I wanted to stop the car, 
hold that tiny teacher or cousin of Icarus 
in my hand, straighten its wings 
and turn it towards the sun 
to escape the island of death. 
Each time we witness the death 
of any living thing we feed the manna of our own death 
we die too, we witness the mortality 
of every new day. 
We bear witness to our own sleeping 
in summer, autumn's descent into winter


Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 8


Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Day 11

7/8 Wednesday. Short critique this morning with Barry on his poem; he's doing a lot of writing.

Linda Wargo's S -1 group, the ones with the lowest academic skills, didn't do too badly. Eric may sound slow, at first, but he always has a poem ready to write. The word cards worked well for him. We also made some drawings for the book. I met with Linda and Steve Weeks to discuss the layout of the book. Linda offered hundred dollars to help pay for the rehab students' portion of the book I don't know what all we will need yet. But I am grateful for her assistance.

Afternoon recap. Busy day. We wrote to the prompt: what's in the name? Brook's quite a writer. We have a good time. I have two new clients. Ned's so heavily medicated, he's a little too out of sequence. He's a musician. Goes with the turf.

The other new client explains how he can't see without his glasses. It's been seven years without glasses, he says. He writes a poem and struggles to read it, he says he didn't know he could still even read, let alone, write. Seven years! I can't imagine it. At any rate he's really enjoying the writing process. Even if he is half-blind.

Ned finally gets down, so we do all right. It's a matter of reaching in. Howard is very cool, he writes poetry like the way he plays chess. Howard checks us out, dictates a poem to me about his name—strong work.

Barry and I finish our day's critique. These guys are getting more quality writing time in than I am!


7/8 Wed. I've fallen hopelessly behind in my journal. Impossible to catch up. At least I'm still writing my own work, part of the stipulation of this grant.

FREEWRITE

From the from the wind of a passing truck 
the body of a robin luffs and raises 
like a leaf and autumn leaf 
the orange breast flashing
the color of dawn back to the morning sky. 
Tiny wings flutter randomly useless 
in its strange head over head flight 
along the side of the road, 
fragile grayness like a soft fog, 
no longer lifting into air, 
the last flight of the robin 
into another kind of world.
Early autumn
Where the steady pool of darkness 
descends upon us all 
neck broken, his head tucked under one wing 
for preparation of that final sleep. 
I wanted to stop the car, 
hold that tiny teacher or cousin of Icarus 
in my hand, straighten its wings 
and turn it towards the sun 
to escape the island of death. 
Each time we witness the death 
of any living thing we feed the manna of our own death 
we die too, we witness the mortality 
of every new day. 
We bear witness to our own sleeping 
in summer, autumn's descent into winter.

Tuesday, July 7, 1987

WARDROBE MOTHER


WARDROBE MOTHER

She dresses in mouldy costumes
and the bug-infested mountains
of clothing in her rooms,
she attacks with Raid roach killer.
In her purse, along with crumpled bills
and dry marking pens, she carries Aquanet
to spray in her ears to stop the voices
and bugs she claims have crawled in
during the night.

When she talks, words tangle
and flop like shoes
with each utterance
as if she were playacting,
not matured into the part of age.
She remembers the stage,
boasts of roles, and curtain calls.
Her mascara drips and melts,
and on her false teeth, lipstick smears
like blood on ivory piano keys.

When the medication isn't working,
she hides behind unfocused eyes,
the generic beer in hand
bringing comfort and oblivion.
An endless chain
of cigarettes, the only thing
she remembers—ties her to this world  
where her "friends" wait it out
in downtown hotel rooms until
the SSI checks come in.
Then they mug her,
robbing her of more than money—

this woman I continue to call Mother.


7/1987
rev. 7/7/94


Man, digging through some of this old work is painful...



Monday, July 6, 1987

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 6 & 7

7/6, Monday. Call to Kathy Russell, I can't believe I still don't have a contract. Apparently there are two contracts one for 1986/87 fiscal year that goes to June, and one for 87/88 fiscal year which includes July through September. The paycheck should be in the administration office by Thursday afternoon, or so I have been told. Kathy said to wait until Thursday before panicking. I haven't been paid yet. A call to Gail McGovern would be in order.

Kathy Russell said she will try and visit the site the last week in July, 21st to 24th, if there's travel money, if not, she still needs to do a site visit in September, my new schedule. Send her a note about not working in August. Remind her.
7/7 Tuesday recap. Late with Annabelles kids, I can't remember what we did. There was a problem with doing the residency and I'm doing a recap two days later. Not good. Time flies, never a good idea to put off the journal until later.
During lunch I typed up poems trying to catch up. It's so easy to fall behind. 

Afternoon class, five new kids—Louis, Julie and two others are great. We had a hot writing session.

Full day, not enough time even to record the day's events. I had a long critique session with Barry as well. I went home feeling good, despite the fact that I feel so rushed.