Tuesday, December 31, 1991

House On Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad

House On Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad
by Madelon Sprengnether (Author) , C.W. Truesdale (Editor)

Amazon 2nd ed. listing, has my name, but no link
I had NO idea that it even went into a 2nd edition in 1997, and a 3rd printing!
Well, I guess have a first edition, then.

My story Night Train to Moscow: Waging Peace, was picked up by Black Dog & Leventhal (Workman) in 2001. Writing the Rails: Train Adventures By the World's Best-Loved Writers  by Edward C. Goodman (Author). Alas, it was remaindered right after it came out, right before 9/11. I never did get to do an author reading at Barnes & Noble. I will publish more info on this in 2001 entry. 

Night Train to Moscow: Waging Peace / Maureen Hurley p. 179
I do not have an electronic facsimile of my story. Only way to get it is to scan pages, but I've no OCR software. I may scan pages direct.  —MH, 2014

House On Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad

From Publishers Weekly
The nearly 50 short pieces of travel writing that comprise this volume display such a wealth of perspectives and explore such a variety of locales that the book is a splendid adventure in its own right. In "Ramont Hall" Rhiannon Paine looks back to 1973 when, at the age of 25, armed with a broken umbrella, a "dilapidating Mini" and youthful enthusiasm, she set out to see England. Helen Degen Cohen, who, as an eight-year-old Jewish girl narrowly escaped being deported to a concentration camp, describes her "Return to Warsaw" to visit the Catholic woman who hid her during World War II. Patricia Hampl's "Italian Two-Part Invention" savors the romance of a damp Venetian winter; a visit to a monastery during one sunny Umbrian spring triggers a memory of the author's childhood. Melissa Sanders-Self's fictional "Nameless Things" follows the daily grind of a young American woman who serves drinks in a Tokyo club that caters to Japanese businessmen. Catherine Stearns's "Icarus in Africa" is a series of letters from a feisty woman who signs herself "Ma" and who, at 60, starts out to teach at a rural school in Zambia. Sprengnether wrote Rivers, Stories, Houses, Dreamsone title and Truesdale is publisher of New Rivers.

Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Madeline Sprengnether

from Miami University Libraries


Published:Minneapolis, MN : New Rivers Press, 1991, 1997
Table of Contents:Introduction to the Second Edition / C. W. Truesdale
Introduction / Madelon Sprengnether
Introduction / C. W. Truesdale
Introduction: "Flying" / Beverly Baranowski
Via Pochutla / Barbara Abel 3
Juan Mina / Gretchen T. Legler 16
That Summer in Caracas / Linda Mathiason Norlander 34
Friends of the Teatro Colon / Nina Barragan 43
Icarus in Africa / Catherine Stearns 55
A Moroccan Memoir / Sarah Streed 63
The Cook's Child / Kathleen Coskran 100
Maputo: A Writer's Diary / Sharon Mayes 112
Mis en Abyme / Apathee Ananke 131
Borders: Thoughts and Images / Sharon Brown 143
The Search for Blind Camels and Balloons: A Mother-Daughter Memoir / Jane MaehrKatherine Maehr 151
Ahar / Nora Reza 159
The Errand / Nora Reza 165
Rain of Flowers / Mimi Albert 169
Night Train to Moscow: Waging Peace / Maureen Hurley179
Return to Warsaw / Helen Degen Cohen 196
In the Vernacular / Martha Roth 209
Coming Out in London and Beyond / Nicole Dillenberg 227
Two Nuns / Nancy Raeburn 243
Barba Manolis / Nancy Raeburn 249
Ramont Hall / Rhiannon Paine 263
A Walk on Hadrian's Wall / Rhiannon Paine 269
Excerpts from a European Travelogue / Jennifer Holt 274
Of Catalans and Kings / Judith Barrington 287
Alone and Footloose in the South of France / Susan A. D. Hunter 296
Rosenthallohne 8 / Jennifer OchtrupMonica Ochtrup 313
Borders / Sharon Chmielarz 325
Journeys in the Hidden World / Emily Meier 333
The Drive / Chitra Divakaruni 343
Tourists / Chitra Divakaruni 345
A Trip to the Hills / Chitra Divakaruni 347
Termini / Chitra Divakaruni 349
Italian Two-Part Invitation / Patricia Hampl 351
Toccata and Variations on Venice / Mardith Louisell 361
Chiaroscuro / Julie Landsman 368
The House on Via Gombito / Margaret Todd Maitland 378
Fata Morgana: Memories of Italy / Madelon Sprengnether395
Vicoletto: Scenes from Naples / Margot Fortunato 409
Evening in Padang / Linda Woolman Perry 423
Taxi / Vivian Vie Balfour 427
Belinda / Vivian Vie Balfour 435
A Thousand Farewells / Deborah Fass 444
Nameless Things / Melissa Sanders-Self 450
Pilgrimage to Atagoyama / Constance Crawford 462
The Blue-Green Seas of Forever / Michelle Dominique Leigh 475
Ontology and the Trucker / Diane Glancy 491
Contributors' Notes 495
Additional Authors:Sprengnether, Madelon
Truesdale, C. W. (Calvin William), 1929-
Notes:LCCN: 97069733
ISBN: 0898231825
"A New Rivers abroad book."
Physical Description:xix, 505 p. ; 23 cm
OCLC Number:38429465

Friday, October 4, 1991

STELLA MARIS freewrite


It's 5 am, Venus and Jupiter in conjunction with Jupiter,
someone says the star of Bethlehem
on the eastern horizon, new crescent moon
in the old moon's arms star of the sea.
I remember  sleepwalking to the front door
awakening to find a configuration like this
celestial bodies, the planets are aligning themselves
venus in the moon's halo appears to be holding the new moon
and holding the old moon in her arms
Venus Stella Maris I awoke naming the planet by its Latin name
where did that come from? I was baptized at the Star of the Sea
church. Some say it's really 1993 years since the birth of Christ
some priest or another got it all wrong way back when
the millennium is approaching at lightning speed
how many time since the year zero, or 3 ad
have Venus and Jupiter crossed paths
of course, everything's relative
it's what we see from here, this place.
that we designate as the most auspicious of signs
above me, Orion's belt suddenly i remember
a pictograph I'd seen somewhere
was it New Mexico, Hawaii
the small man dancing on the horizon
I recognized Orion. The names of stars
arabic and greek interpretations
thousands of years after the naming
what were the Hawaiian names
or the Indian names for the constellations?
The Pleiades directly overhead
the Celtic new year. The night sky takes on a significance
in my subconscious
I am recognizing a passage of time
our creators were more finely aattuned
to the movements of the stars
now we're lucky if we can even see them;
 the lights of the cities
a common denomonator for the madness
that sits within the absence of ritual
biological clock finely attuned to the measurements of seasons
the equinox another rare celestial event full moon equinox
and hunter's moon in one Paleolithic beginnings
haang from that orange orb
is it merely pollution that makes it orange?
I remember the August eclipse moon over Kiev
not knowing it was an eclipse
I watched the moon bleed in to the evening sky, 1989
In less than a week I'll be  traveling to Kiev again,
my 3rd trip to the USSR in as many years
this morning I'm off to Montana
listening to Tracy Chapman singing Mountains of Pain.

October 4/1991

Uh-oh a lot of ascii at the bottom—never a good sign

Thursday, October 3, 1991

Making Things: Artist Raymond Barnhart 10/5/91

 Assemblages by Sebastopol Artist Raymond Barnhart

THE SUM OF ITS PARTS— Barnhart outside his Sebastopol work space with one of his "relief constructions,"
Consummation. "I want to please the work. I want it to please itself."

We asked the captain what course of action to take toward a beast so large, terrifying, and unpredictable. He hesitated to answer, and then said judiciously: "I think I shall praise it."   —Robert Hass, Praise


I recalled the twist on reality and an unexpected visit from poet Bob Hass' poem, Praise while viewing Sebastopol artist Raymond Barnhardt's latest exhibit, "Recent Constructions" at the California Museum of Art in Santa Rosa, California.

Because everyone's response to my queries about Raymond Barnhart and his work was the inevitable raised eyebrow, followed by an incredulous: "You mean you don't KNOW about Raymond Barnhart's illustrious career?" I gulped, and found that the best recourse was to praise it. Taking the beast by the horns—by asking Barnhart niggling details about his second career as an assemblage artist (painting was his first career) seemed sacreligiously inane and so unintelligent. Excuse me, your slip is showing...

And so, at a recent artist's lecture at the California Museum of Art (CMA), when the venerable artist himself was introduced by museum director Duane Jones as "Someone who needs no introduction," I thought, aww feck, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was right: "You can only ask questions and die." Luckily, the lecture was a quorum of questions ranging from "How do you name your art?" to "What kind of power tools do you use?" The questions were all answered by Barnhart, age 88, with such thoughtfulness, verve and wit, I was in love with love itself.

Artists know firsthand that one of the challenges in art and poetry is to create something that is profound, but with a sense of humor. One who can accomplish both—without lessening the impact of the statement—is a Master. Barnhart's elegant, formal masterful assemblages are intentionally playful, they delight the eye, they make you want to laugh. 

Conceptual artists make us look at ordinary things in a new way, they redefine our limited perameters of "definition." It comes down to rearranging concrete nouns into metaphor—Plato's nemesis. The metaphor of Picasso's bicycle seat and handlebars as a bull's skull. Man Ray's steam iron with nails, and Christo's running fence—all share that spirited kinship to challenge the senses and reality. How we see the world.

In his youth, Raymond Barnhart worked as a riverboat deck-hand, carpenter, fruitpacker, and window designer before becoming an artist. A painter during the first half of his life, Barnhart received his MFA from Ohio State University, and he was an instructor at the University of Kentucky for 32 years before leaving and moving to California in 1958. 

While teaching a design and wood sculpture class in Mill Valley, and from his contacts with the Bauhaus novement, Barnhart found his true medium: assemblage. His assemblage work is classical in the sense of composition, aesthetics, and design. From the Conceptualists, he incorporated the use of found objects. And he made a just marriage of it.

But whereas Conceptualists diverged, exploring man's alienation in society, Barnhart's work is full of hope and compassion: it reflects the linear sentiments of art, beauty, balance, harmony; it transmorgifies limitation as set in stone by various art movements: it remains unswerving in its devotion to the aesthetics of art.

Wind-blasted, sun-bleached, and burnt materials juxtaposed against man-made rusted and tarnished discards become the poetry of deserted places. Fellow Sonoma County artist John Kessel said, "Raymond Barnhart assembles diverse, objects to create visual poems that evoke either man's place in nature—or man in contemplation before nature. Some pieces tell a story, and all are poems which convey an impact. This is an art of redemption and reconciliation."

Raymond Barnhart's contemplative "Homage to Albers," a tribute to former teacher and Bauhaus master Josef Albers, is essentially a 3-D painting made of found materials. So many relief constructions, or constructed reliefs that double as sculptures, are also subtle and painterly—the wrong color value or texture would destroy the harmony. 

The piece entitled "Yesterdays," for instance, is made of mullein leaves and weathered boards accented with traces of vermillion and rust. "Straight Guy'" has a cerulean blue backdrop for the book, embellished with old Mexican coins—Quetzocoatl's centavos and cobwebs (intentional or otherwise). 

Many of the relief-constructions are formal in composition, and all have stories behind them: "Playtime," an elegant moment from another era, is captured with that one lost glove and fragments of a mirror set against a pale peach and tender green backdrop, while "Op-Art?," evolved from a run-in with a wood-munching gopher absconding with dried fruit in a prune tray—the ultimate recycler's revenge.

"Sort of an Altar" is in keeping with pre-Christian animistic Native, and Latin American traditions. Barnhart spent considerable time in the Southwest and Mexico studying new materials, including vinyl resins under José Guiterréz. 

Other pieces evoke a Japanese aesthetic. Simplicity and clean lines—an oxymoron when one considers the human detritus from which these constructions arise, phoenix-like, from our discards. 

In the Japanese sense of the tradition, Barnhart is Sonoma County's "living national treasure," an honorary title the Japanese bestow upon their finest artists. As it tums out, in 1962 and I963, Barnhart took a sabbatical in Kyoto, to observe traditional culture. His assemblage, "Memorial" is in the contemplative spirit of a Japanese Zen garden and is "quintessentually Raymond," as one art patron committed at the exhibit.

When someone asked. "How does the spirit enter the work?" both Barnhart's wife, Genevieve, a jeweler-sculptor, and CMA Director Duane Jones interjected in unison: "Because it's there!" A variation of the famous Adele Davis quote banged around in my head: "Your art is what you meet." 

Perhaps a more hard-hitting audience question was "Why is this art?" Barnhart sanguinely commented: "You're no beffer than what you are—you do the best you can. I make what I want—the best I can. Some people call it fine art. I don't have the ego to call it that, I just make things." At a previous an show, when an observer snarled, "What's this supposed to be?" Barnhart replied, "It already is what it is!"

Barnhart attributes his interest in recycling found objects both to his youthful visits to the city dump and to his job at a large department store where, like Andy Warhol, he got his start in the arts by arranging window designs... for women's corsets and brazierres. "I'd see something interesting." An under-statement. Apparently his bosses who kept abreast of his provocative displays, agreed: two year later he was appointed head of the entire display department.

According to Barnhart, bringing a relief-construction into the world for public display is usually a process of elimination rather than of adding to the composition. And he arranges things by degrees—the way a mechanic fine-tunes the points on a car: if the dwell-gap isn't just right, the end result is a car that won't run and you're on foot far from home some dark and rainy night. CMA Curator Duane Jones commented, "When one of Barnhart's assemblages undergoes subtle rearrangement, it might take months before it is completed."

"The piece and I become a team," Barnhart explained, "We grow together. I start off with a plan, but wonderful things happen along the way. I want to please the work. I want it to please itself, and I want people to respond to it. I'm not the great artist who makes things difficult to understand—children like my work." High praise, indeed.

When an art patron asked if he plains an assemblage in advance. Barnhart replied, "No, that would be like meeting three people you've never met before and already you've figured out how to manage them."

Barnhart commented that one of the first pieces to sell at the CMA exhibit, "Crisis" featuring Japanese dolls, is "an absurd sort of piece, it doesn't make any kind of sense. It's a kind of insanity that I had to follow." He compared his own artwork to how some people react to stress. "It's absurd; a pun." As is his purple mouse and throne, "Her Highness."

One piece with a conundrum of a title, "Emanon," is merely "no name" spelled backwards. Barnhart said, "I ask the pieces, what is it you're really standing for? I limit my definitions to a deliberate vagueness, because if I'm specific, I'm narrowing it down. You are not limited by your own presuppositions. I name my pieces purely for identification purposes. If you don't like them, why then, make up your own name."

Barnhart considers himself to be a third-rate carpenter with a proclivity for the hand saw. He said, "I'd rather do it by hand; it's in keeping with the material I use. I'm pretty conscietious about using authentic wood." He elaborates that nothing can mimic the natural aging process of the elememts—which gives his works their characteristic patina. 

Though owing to the fragile nature of his material, Barnhart doesn't imagine his art will outlast an art consumer's grandchildren. Barnhart says, "I use lots of nails. And glue is a serious proposition. It's embarrassing to have you piece come apart."

Barnhart reflects, the process of finding a home for the artwork is is often painful. "I hate to see some of them go, or to put prices on them." He dislikes working through a regular dealer and insead prefers that potential buyers come directy to the source, so he holds an annual open house and studio (this year's Open Studio is Sept. 28 through Oct. 6). 

Barnhart's prices are downright bargains—far below that of lesser artists' work-because he wants to make his art affordable to artists. One artist friend paid installments at $10 month for three years. "It should be on the wall for someone to appreciate." At any given time, he has over 150 pieces floating around his studio and home. At a dozen pieces a year, he's not a prolific artist, but then, he says, he doesn't do it for the money.

Bamhart migrated to Sebastopol in 1969 with "all the cumbersome impedimenta of an assemblagíste." He described his hand-built home, work areas and studio located in the hills west of Sebastopol, "like having an enormous library.' He peered over his glasses and said to me: "You're a poet; it's like your having a dictionary or a thesaurus." 

His "library" of reference material from which he draws upon to make the assemblages that are slowly born into this material world——is extensive. Sometimes it takes years to get each piece jiust right. Thirty years' worth of material slowly continues to evolve, or devolve, as the case may be, patiently awaiting the resurrection into art. 

Barnhart says he sorts things according to shape and substance: rebar, stones, bones, feathers, 2x4s, weathered barn-siding, etc. He says constructing assemblage is not like painting—from a few tubes, we can mix millions of colors. "I start to work on a piece. it tells me it wants something—then I have to go out and find it—without knowing exactly what it is." And so the hunt and peck system begins.

Barnhart's assemblages continue to appeal to the senses and delight the eye, because he is a master of composition and serene harmony. I am struck by how much "sense" his assemblages make—found objects, each with a particular history. The equation of this-is-to-this as that-is-to-that. Some found objects incorporated into the art have been knocking around Barnhart's studio since 1957. Other bits and pieces, are flotsam that people have give him. Finding a home for wayward objects requires persistence, patience—and a reverence for what they were in past lives. In Raymond's art, the whole is always greater than its parts.

"Recent Constructions" by Raymond Barnhart is on exhibit at the California Museum of Art at the Luther Bubank Center through Nov. 3. Also on view are assemblages by Santa Rosa artist Charles Churchill. Museum hours are 11 AM to 4 PM, Wednesday through Sunday. For more informaition call 527-0297.



(Raymond Barnhart was fatally injured in a car accident, August, 1996). The Memorial was held at the California Museum of Art, Santa Rosa, California.

"The making of art has been the major force that has formed my life, from the copying of a brilliant autumn leaf in the first grade, on to my recent garden pieces. As a practical youth I envisaged a future as a commercial illustrator, but my eventual exposure to college studies in the history of art along with visits to art museums gave me an awareness of the true art world "out there."

Concurrently with my college and art school classes, I met and worked with some great master-teachers. These latter contacts fortunately set my ambition to become an art teacher myself. This was a most rewarding direction to take because I was able to pass on the making of art to many other young people, to continue my own art production, and—modestly enough—to earn a living.

Since my retirement as Professor at the University of Kentucky in 1968—leaving studio teaching while I still loved it—I have had the privilege of working solely on my own pursuits. Choosing the North Bay Area was fortunate—I have had the privilege of associating with numerous creative artists. So I feel that I have spent my life with art most happily. "

—Raymond Barnhart

from the brochure "Celebration: Raymond Barnhart 1903 - 1996, " Memorial Exhibition, CMA, at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts.


1937 Marshall University, Huntington, WV.
1950-1968 University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY (eight exhibitions).
1950 Indiana Museum, Evansville, IN
1952-1966 Art Center, Louisville, KY, (four exhibitions).
1955 Caravan Gallery, New York NY.
1959 McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, TX .
1960 University of Mississipi, Jackson, MI.
1964 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.
1964 Staten Island Museum, New York, NY.
1964 Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
1964 University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.
1967 University of Arizona, Tempe, AZ
1969 Cleveland Art Institute, Cleveland, OH.
1969 University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.
1970 Galeria del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA.
1971 Dominican College, San Rafael, CA.
1971 Rio Honda College,Whittier, CA.
1974 Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA.
1976 San Jose Art League, San Jose, CA.
1977 Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA.
1977 The Annex Gallery, Santa Rosa, CA.
1978 Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA.
1978 "A" Gallery (Anna Gardner), Santa Rosa, CA.
1980 Quicksilver Mine Co. Gallery, Stinson Beach, CA.
1982 "Home-Studio" exhibition, Sebastopol, CA.
1984 "Home-Studio" exhibition, Sebastopol, CA.
1885 California Museum of Art, Luther Burbank Art Center, Santa Rosa, CA.
1985 Marshall University Art Museum, Huntington, WV.
1987 J..Noblett Gallery, Boyes Hot Springs, CA.
1988 City Art Center, Walnut Creek, CA.
1990 J.Noblett Gallery, Boyes Hot Springs, CA.
1991 "Home-Studio" exhibition, Sebastopol, CA
1991 California Museum of Art, Luther Burbank Art Center, Santa Rosa, CA.
1993 "Home-Studio" exhibition, Sebastopol, CA.
1995 California Museum of Art, Luther Burbank Art Center, Santa Rosa, CA.
1995 University Art Museum, Lexington, KY.
1995 California Museum of Art, (Retrospective exhibition), Luther Burbank Art Center, Santa Rosa, CA.
1996 California Museum of Art,"Raymond Barnhart: A celebration 1903-1996"
Luther Burbank Art Center, Santa Rosa, CA.

I am indeed honored to have known such a man as Raymond Barnhart. I am a better person for it. He touched the lives of many artists and writers and will be sorely missed. —MH

Wednesday, September 25, 1991



When my weekly horoscope said I'd fall in love with a stranger,
perhaps a Gemini, I laughed, thinking how easily I'd outfoxed my fate, 
and escaped Eros' sting. Besides, it was during the Russian coup,
I was living a cloistered life; I'd sworn off men—especially Soviets,
having put the last one (a Cancer) on a plane back to his wife.
Chocolate is a lot easier on the psyche and tastebuds.
Minerva cautioned the entire centarian tribe of archers,
Unlucky in love, are you the problem or the key to the solution?
Sagge, be careful what you ask for. I don't believe in starcasts,
but I forgot the gods are practical jokers. 
A chance meeting with a stranger on a pier,
minutes before my forecast was rendered null and void,
I fell in love with a Gemini man from an overthrown country 
half-way around the world, without even a language in common. 
I forgot to specify I wanted a sensitive, rich, agnostic American. 
Instead, I got a piously orthodox aging Russian singer.
Always in hot water, I know I'm trouble, I wonder what he asked for,
& how many other Sagges were parboiled that week?
Blame fate or the stars the ship was stranded a week in port.
It began innocently enough—the night I drove him back to the ship
at 70 mph, my unexplicable tears, the swimming freeway.
Alarmed, he wondered if we'd get there in one piece.
I stood on the pier shivering in a summer dress
& bundled against the fog, dismally in love with a stranger
about to set sail. The gods take no prisoners, we couldn't board ship—
US customs had shut it down. Trouble, all right.
He pointed to the dictionary, are you free?
Was he was referring to political ideological freedom
just after the coup—it seemed a natural enough question.
Panicking, I assumed he wanted to defect. 
Six others jumped ship in Seattle and nearly drowned.
He shook his head, No. I thought, O god, 
it's the larger question: do I have ties, am I single? 
But he just wanted to go shopping before returning home.
Relieved, I said yes to all three counts.
We spent the week exploring backroads and beaches,
singing under the stars, before his ship left for Vladivostok.
My girlfriends sighed, how romantic! It's certainly a challenge. 
At least he's not married like the last one.
While I was busy fanning the blaze with a frying pan,  
my ship came in all right. And sailed without me.
I wonder where fate will take me this time:
To St. Petersburg as a Russian wife peeling spotty potatoes?
Or will he come here, dependent as a babe; 
both of us broke and hating each other,
living like caged rats in my shoebox of a cabin?
I've never seen the fall come in like this before: thunder & rain 
after a day hot enough to cook eggs in plein-air.
Last night's full equinox moon pushed on the sky
like an impatient child in the birth canal,
with bags packed, nowhere in particular to go.                 

rev. 5/92

Sunday, September 22, 1991



The first sign of winter begins as a small vegetable mold on the leaves,
jagged five-veined hearts pointing away from the nest in radial asymmetry.
Fractal curve of young leaves guard embryonic clusters
caught too late in the season and yellow-orange squash blossoms
curl their five arms around the fruiting body to keep it warm.
From the velvet throat, the stamen, like a finger,
or brain coral, rises up from a phallic stock. Floral love.
Pale green veins end with small claws at the tip and base of each flower
like two hands—one holding up the sky,
the other holding up the sun, as if in victory.
The base root swelling through the boundaries of star
shaped fruit until it becomes a crenulated sundog on the horizon.

Beneath the leaf canopy, an acrid odor of beetles
or formalin gives way to the sweet sap of mute inverted bells.
Yellow fruit. Pure cadmium pigment from the tube, so intense
it pushes back the green air with small vibrations of light.
In the heat of summer you can almost hear them growing,
taut-skinned summer squash, ripening to bursting point,
scattering small blind eyes in the soil, waiting for the signal
to unzip the genetic ladder. Vegetable love.
This extravagance of life too soon ends.
The kitchen knife reveals their hidden star charts,
the marrow and vein of space. Tracks of seeds—
stars streaking in the direction of dawn.

I remember my grandmother picking the unpollinated flowers,
looking inside each one, saying, they'd never bear fruit.
I never knew how she could tell — sexing each squash blossom,
dredging them into egg and flour and frying them in butter
until they were dinosaur tracks of the sun
feeding me in late summer. Nutty sweetness
and the promise of something more.

And you, unseasonable bitter fruit, tough-skinned vessel,
why so yellow? A love token of the sun's fickle attention?
Undone by your own surgery, you try to cleave your broken halves,
heal the breach with your veneous dealings
but you can't fix the imperfect symmetry of your heart
severed from its circular discourse by the steel blade.
There is little comfort in remembering the corpse of our love,
or in knowing that you're a beetle-browed Sisyphus
condemned to dragging your sterile sex from woman to woman
like a victory torch in a perpetual race where
no one gets to be on top of the dung heap.

rev. 9/91

1992 First Leaves

Wednesday, September 18, 1991



Sleeping until noon & needing an excuse,
she blamed it on the java she scored—
20 pounds of dark French roast
vibrating in her fridge—
keeping her hardwired all night long.

rev. 8/92

89 to 92

Tuesday, September 17, 1991



In the Grand Canyon, the rivers eat time.
The muddy Colorado, a hungry red snake devours natal rock.
Like an old man seeking the fountain of youth,
it eats ever deeper to a time when the earth was young.
Soon it will devour itself like Oruboros,
because it eats through to the heart of the metaphor—
not vertical history, but timeless geology.
Lava sensibilities hidden in the depths
give no clue to the passion set in stone; time itself is fluid—
cracks in the earth, fissures in the soul
of alluvium and rusted sandstone.
Defiance Plateau. How big, and utterly defiant
the land must've seemed to those crossing by wagon.
Now the land becomes less distinct,
an amalgam—like the people who settled America.

Mirages are to the desert as waves are to the ocean.
Ghost cities laid out like Nazca lines,
geometric knotwork of someone's failed dreams.
We try so hard to leave our mark,
sometimes without even knowing it.

Flying over Acoma, the oldest inhabited city in the U.S.
I think of Coronado searching for the seven fabled cities of Cibola,
who found only the empty cities of the Anasazi, the Old Ones,
could not see the wealth of earthen walls glowing at sunset.

9/91 & 9/93  
Santa Fe, NM

I began this poem in 1991 when I went to NM with Lucia Hammond. 

My hard copy has another section at the beginning which may be another poem.  An outake.



Dendritic memory of dry riverbeds,
the pale alluvium, most recent in memory,
points accusingly toward sinkholes below sea level.
Recognizable from the air: Cedar Breaks,
Vermilion Cliffs, Rainbow Plateau, Monument Valley.
Lines across the earth in resonating patterns,
what do they mean? Power lines visible from space?
The varied skin of the mother,
the mysterious deeper names for the earth.
A finger lake with fractalline shores—
and irrigated circles, green coinage for the corn mothers.
Nothing grows in the pocket canyons
except turquoise reservoirs, truly jewels of the desert.
Remnants of oceans, polyps and coral, a garden
bloomed in the blood of our mother, the sea,
the first goddess to emerge
and give up her bounty.

9/91 & 9/93
Santa Fe, NM