Monday, May 22, 1989

BUDDHA MOON


BUDDHA MOON


When Neil Armstrong first walked across the face
of the moon twenty years ago did she tremble?
When the astronaut came back from space he was a changed man.
Nothing mattered any more. After all, he'd seen the earth unveiled,
turned a little crazy, and it was like looking into the face of the gorgon.
He saw what we've done to her in the name of civilization,
making the first imprint in thick lunar dust.

In Guatemala, I held a Mayan smoking mirror in my hand,
a piece of fallen star, but you'd already planted another seed.
Did the moon shudder, the way you expect me to nowó
like Chac-mool, who ripped the heart from an unborn sonó
only to wonder why the smell of death greets us in the chaparral?
I am a vessel empty of light. I should have known better
than to trust the sun. When you walk across me,
Luna cries in a language you'll never understand.

Newton said, for every action there is a reaction.
We cannot reconstruct the past to fit our poetic needs,
nor to  ease guilt. Footprints remain after 20 years,
as if it were yesterday, or, only moments before.
Perhaps we should never have crawled out of the broth.
I want to tell the gobies and mudskippers there's been a mistake.
Go back into the ocean, your mother. We can't live on land,
nor breathe the air. In the Galápagos, evolutionary myths
crawled out of the precambrian mind of the sea.
Our lives pass before us in geometric exponentials.
Long after we've gone, life will continue;
another blastopore, in all its variations, germinating.
The goddess is made of basalt like the sea floor.

Off the coast of Japan, two rocks got married
with golden ropes, but the waves threaten to take one back.
They fortifed the islet with steel girders and concrete,
trying to halt another kind of progress.
You understand the bondage part, but not love itself.
The gods of dailiness have swept us bare.
Fallen off from ritual, who are we then?
Danger chose to walk in the form of a pigmentary default,
likening your eyes to the sky. You've found the cliff
to throw me from, and still not satisfied,
you want to barter exquisite corpses for forgiveness.
Your father is dead—his blue eyes beneath the Sea of Cortez—
tell him everything. Perhaps the sea will take you back.
No questions asked. But then, you already saw to that,
shuffling the tarot cards with a dealer's ease
from the bottom of the deck.


5/22/89

1992 Chaminade LiteraryReview
1990 Sonoma Mandala



Sunday, May 7, 1989

WOAD


—for my neighbor of 20 years, George Howell,
one of the original Dharma Bums (really)

and his Romilar--swigging partner in crime,
Richard Bebe, a good lawyer who 
committed suicide after heart surgery


Wearing a sheepish grin, my neighbor
George who restores antique rugs
heads for the trash bin the back way.
Noting this, I ask, What's in the bucket, shit?
He says, Close. My friend Bebe's wife,
she quit dyeing a while back
and gave me this bucket of indigo
that Ricard had made for me.
If you know anything about indigo—
it's made with piss, fermented camel piss
and the temperature has to be exactly 83 degrees
for the best color, so I waited for the right day—
I sure as hell wasn't going to heat it on the stove—
and I'm out there dipping my wool into the dye
and waiting for it to turn blue…and waiting…
See, indigo is colorless. Only after the wool's
exposed to air for an hour does it turn blue.
Well, I waited for hours and hours.
The wool turned brown, a horrible brown, at that.
It was just a bucket of piss— all that wasted wool.
I guess Bebe had the last laugh on me after all.


revised ever so slightly 2014








WOAD BACKSTORY

Always in need of indigo yarn to restore rare antique rugs for museums, George, my crusty old neighbor—who claims to have balled Janis Joplin—is wearing a sheepish grin, he sneaks the back way to the trash bin gingerly carrying a bucket with something horribly brown in it like it was worse than radioactive. I joke, “Whatʼs in the bucket, a buncha shit?" He cackles, "just about. My friend Bebe's wife quit dyeing (not dying, sheʼs still alive) a while back, so Bebe gave me this bucket of indigo dye—itʼs made with piss." He gives me a brief lecture on mordants used from Chile to the British Isles and Asia. Fermented piss was India's contribution to the industry. He continues, “And the air temperature has to be exactly 83 degrees for the best color, so I waited months for the right day—I sure as hell wasn't going to heat it on the stove—if you know what I mean. So, the right day finally arrives and I'm out there dipping my wool into the dye waiting for it to turn blue. Woad, or indigo is colorless. Only after the wool's exposed to air for an hour, or so, does it turn blue. Well, I waited hours. But nothing happened. The wool turned brown, a horrible brown. All I had to show for a day's work was the butt end of a dumb joke and a bunch of ruined wool. Was I ever pissed!" He said that Richard Bebe laughed and laughed till he cried. When I suggest, “Why don't you just pour it out on the ground, harvest saltpeter, make gunpowder and blow Bebe up; or recycle it and add some indigo.” The last thought pales even George. He huffs, "I'd rather start over from scratch, thank you." It didn't seem as though there was much need for a ready source of saltpeter either.

5/7/89






Friday, May 5, 1989

WILDCAT BEACH, BELTAINE 5/5/89



Wildcat Beach, Beltaine Silk & dye.



WILDCAT BEACH, BELTAINE
                                — for my students Nat & Erik


At Wildcat Beach I fill pockets with wax opals,
agates and moonstones—pieces of the fallen moon.
Five vultures wheel in a bright sky vibrating
against ruddy cliffs. The ocean eats the strand,
the night eats the sun. We lose track of time.
I point out equus, horsetail fern, ancestor of trees
when the dinosaurs were young. I despair:
so little time to teach the children about life cycles.

I yell at those who want to quit right in the middle of the road—
Five miles is forever. I feel like an ogre yelling at them.
Coddling won't do. No, that’s not it. I was never coddled.
So I tousle their heads, repack packs, clean skinned knees,
offer advice, feed them chocolate—these children I never had—
I am mother without being mother, father without having had one.
It's always a longer walk back, no matter what they say.

I am teacher. I am poet incanting words into true air.
We make a medicine wheel, divide into the four elements,
and writie poetry to the cardinal directions.
One crow commuting up the beach nods to me in flight.
On this side of the San Andreas Fault,
I come to understand the rest is illusion:
Those old generals who set the Gulf ablaze with oil
their dreams are cursed by flames of blue eels
writhing in shallow pools. Fire over water.

I dreamed Easter Island was a mathematical equation of the mind.
Two boys and I sit on the bluffs talking of neutron stars
and the desire for a simple life filled with ritual.
We watch a bonfire blaze on the opposite shore.
Nat says everything has a spirit—even that lupine bush.
They restore my faith, like the white deer who browse
beneath the stars. Recognizing an absence of ritual
in our lives, we seek something unbidden in the moonlight,
in the water and in the ancient eyes of fish.


5/5/89

1992 Shaman's Drum
1989 Night Full of Doves
         Green Fuse


WILDCAT BEACH, BELTAINE



                                       for Nat & Erik



At Wildcat Beach, my pockets fill with wax opals,

agates and moonstonesórare pieces of the fallen moon.

The waterfall at the end of the mind spills over
slate terraces laid down when the earth was new.
Five vultures wheel in a sky that vibrates
against orange cliff. The ocean eats the strand,
the night eats the sun. I'm losing track of time.
I point out equus, horsetail fern, ancestor of trees
when the dinosaurs were young. I despair,
so little time to teach the children about the life cycles.
I yell at those who want to quit right in the middle of the roadó
six miles is forever. I feel like an ogre yelling at them.
Coddling won't do. OK, that's bullshit. I was never coddled.
So I tousle their heads, repack packs, clean skinned knees,
offer advice, feed them chocolateóthese children I never hadó
I am mother without being mother, father without having had one.
It's always a longer walk back, no matter what they say.
I am teacher. I am poet incanting words into pure air.
We make a medicine wheel and divide into the four elements,
writing poetry to the cardinal directions.
One crow commuting along the beach nods to me in flight.
On this side of the San Andreas Fault,
I come to understand, slowly, the rest is illusion:
those old men setting the water ablaze with gasoline
who watch the silver-blue fish, with heads buried
like bulbs, their slender eel-tails seeking light,
writhe and twist in shallow pools. Fire over water.
I dreamed Easter Island was a mathematical equation of the mind.
Two boys and I sit on the bluffs talking of black holes
and the desire for a more simple life filled with ritual.
We watch a huge bonfire blaze on the opposite shore.
Nat says everything has a spiritóeven that lupine bush.
They restore my faith, like the white deer who browse
beneath the stars. Recognizing an absence of ritual
in our lives, we seek something unbidden in the moonlight,
in the water and in the ancient eyes of fish.


5/5/89


See an earlier version
MOONSTONES

Related posts:
White Deer
Huckleberries





MOONSTONES

MOONSTONES
   —to my poetry students

Last night, the same crow 
was commuting up the beach 
headed north, towards wisdom, towards light. 
The idea of a waterfall at the end 
of the mind made sense. 
Lupine and mustard cloak the hillsides.
We sit in a circle, divided by the four directions. 
The sun breaks through the fog like laughter, 
a cacophany of birds. Someone smiles. 
The rocks rise like an island of thought  
shipping the darkness out to sea 
while a student takes small pieces of light—
silver oxide and shadow. 
Mirrors of ourselves on film, in the water. 
The wind fluxes the pond, knitting small ripples,  
something to wear for the day's dance.
So much water in the ocean,
in the air, in us. The sea is our mother. 
I wanted moonstones and found none. 
And then at my feet, the purest white ones I'd ever seen. 
Katie asks why they're called that. I don't know 
Maybe it's because the moon would like to visit us 
right here on this beach, t
his island commuting north to Alaska.
Where the moon feels at home, 
 where tundra flowers dance in summer breezes
where, in winter, mice tunnel under the mystery of snow, 
and darkness takes its own time being born into light.


5/5//89
Wildcat Beach, Beltaine

I accompanied Mark West school teacher, Gerry Crawford, on their annual 5th grade outdoor ed class. The poetry was flowing through me at such a rate, I could barely write it all down.

see later version
WILDCAT BEACH, BELTAINE 5/5/89

Letters to Wm Poole
(somewhere on The San Andreas Fault) May 1989









some line break chances 
ascii hell in progress

Thursday, May 4, 1989

KEEPING THE DEAD IN THEIR PLACE


KEEPING THE DEAD IN THEIR PLACE


Have the dead taken Hollywood by storm?
In the Pink Section I read Night of the Living Dead
boosts Nielsen Ratings and Joyce's The Dead
is now playing at the Clay Theatre.
The city of Colma is bursting with landed celebrities:
Emperor Norton, Lefty O'Doul, Ishi, Wyatt Erp, John Doe.
The funeral parlor where we put Mary Bianchi to rest
is now the Petaluma Police station.
Have the cops taken to arresting the dead
for petty crimes against life?
Loitering in the park after curfew without a parade permit,
or driving without a vehicle while under the influence of death?
The police have trouble keeping them behind bars.
They have no fingerprints, no ID, no known address.
What of the half-dead, the brain-dead, the undead,
those dead as a door knob, or those sleeping like the dead?
The one in the White House was secretly dead
for years but he had a good make-up artist.
Soon, they will be wanting voting rights
and you know what that leads to.
Ma Bell foresees a unique eleventh-hour monopoly
on long-distance surcharges to the dead.
The IRS is interested in repossessing hell bank notes
but doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.
American Express and Club Med are working out
the details of an earlybird pre-payment plan
so those who beat the rap can have their R & R
on some island hideaway. DOA Anon has sprung up
across the country. All these perks—
too late for poor old Mary Bianchi
who was a gardener right to the very end.


5/4/89

1990 Green Fuse  or 1989?



This is what happened when I read the Sunday paper...