Saturday, May 15, 2004

3 Hams at a Bread & Roses Party at the Nagy's


Bread & Roses Party at Toby & Phil Nagy's, Piedmont, CA.
Will Durst, Maureen Hurley & Michael Pritchard  May, 2004?



Michael Pritchard Director to all three, all right take the joy of life thing down a bit you three. This is an artistic photo, same result can't help these faces they show years of laughs love and Bread & Roses compassion. Plus, of course, three hams. A hamilicious photo!


Maureen Hurley I need to find the original of this photo and see if I can make a better print—this is a terrible copy—from when digital was in its infancy. I've been saving it all these years to send to you but in those days you didn't even do email, O great gorilla-fingered one! Welcome to the digital age. And Facebook, no less!


added 4/24/2016

Monday, May 3, 2004

Housesitting for Shiva — prose

I awoke in a strange house, in Atchison Village, in Richmond, CA, to the sound of someone walking on the roof. I awoke to am empty house and a strange garden where the night before, I had been introduced to all the roses name by name, the owners having left me a carefully plotted map with precise watering schedules and soaking instructions for tender new roses versus the long established roses. But they left me no information that the electricians were coming in the morning. Or the name of the cat or that the mail needs to be let in once a day too.

An electrician let himself in by the front door at dawn, looking for the fuse box. I thought the house was being robbed. I lunged for the phone. No dial tone. He didn't look like a thief but he came to rob the electricity from the house. His eyes were like St. Elmo's fire against skin the color of shadows.

Luckily I was dressed, I'd fallen asleep watching TV on the couch. Sleep came in limbo in a strange house. He was as surprised as I was. He informed me in a lilting accent that there will be no power this morning. Tthis means no morning tea, no computer. Only the garden, the cat, and my notebook for company.

Yesterday’s record heat wave threw the watering schedule asunder. The northern sky was lonesome for the tropics. It paled and flashed and whined with longing. St. Kitts, said the other electrician, that's my home. My island. Are you far from home? he asked. Being from far away, the island man assumed everybody was from somewhere else.

I was all tangled up in answers, should I say where I was born, where I was raised, where I’ve lived, versus where I live now or where I would want to live in a parallel universe and why I can’t seem to answer the question? All I could think of was the color of the sea on tropical reefs. Turquoise longing versus the prison of our steel slate gray bay.

Incongrously, I began humming an old Holly Near/Ronnie Gilbert song to Steven Biko as I fed the cat who was furiously weaving figure eight shackles around my ankles and I remembered the cat's name was something like Biko. God, I hadn't thought of that song in 20 years. The cat didn't care what I called her as long as I give her full measure of kibble (and then some) plus equal petting time. Gurumai and Baba and all the bodhisatvas stared at me from photos and niches on every wall, the mantra eternally whining like a famished mosquito on the CD set to replay until infinity or the next power shortage, was mercifully silent.

We think in terms of color, I was defining my morning in pantone scale. The roses were like florid schools of fish. Circe the nymph, shared a plot with Just Joy. Mme Lombard was in bed with Tolouse Lautrec and you know what that leads to. Alliance de Franco Russe was next to the quartet: Peace Rose, Gloire & Eglantine, and Mrs Choux, but Aloha was off sulking all by herself in a corner. No island welcome there.

I found Charles de Gaulle tangling in the same heady bed with the Tipsy Imperial Concubine. An international scandal. Leaves and branches entwined. I imagined a collective lovers knot of rose roots under the rich loam. I followed the hand drawn map, watering each rose for exactly five minutes, avoiding downed power lines suspended from the pole by yellow lines tied to the roof. It was as if the house was a boat anchored to a mooring line, snug in a harbor of crabgrass sea.

When the watering was done and it came time to pick some roses for my class, I forgot the eminent danger of water lines and high voltage lines intersecting, though the hose and extension cords were crossed in fated lovers’ knots. I forgot the possibility of electrocution greeting me by traveling up a silver highway of water to the hose, will my rubber and wooden shoes save me?

Should the lines cross, and the electricity arc, then I stood at the intersection of an improbable death. As I picked roses, I forgot all about my plans to run away from the trajectory of power line and the yellow rope, should it break. My plans to avoid imagined deaths was dismantled as I flitted from bloom to bloom like a drunken bee with shears in hand, gathering heaps of roses of every description, color and name.

There were nearly 150 varieties of roses to tantalize and entrance, their heady odor, narcotic. I was like the cat, stoned, staggering from each imagined heaven to another, oblivious to the ghettoed and armed hordes of Richmond's Iron Triangle, death capitol of the world, gathered around cars right outside the fence, with rap music vibrating car windows like a gale against sail lines. Doin' coke lines on the hood. Watching us watching them through the iron bars.

Who is locked in, us or them? San Quentin in the distance, shining like a reverse Mecca. The holy sepulcur of baddies. Worse than Al Capone's Alcatraz, holding thriller memory for the tourists. I felt a lasso of premonition and dread circle and tighten around my heart and nothing eased that pain. The power was out but I could still hear the om mantra chant from the dead CD player.

I was distracted, the house gave off an electric moan, as if testing the anchor rope mooring. I was thinking of rescue ships in the night. I recited, bowline, jib line, I chanted another line until I got to the radishes with their rosy-spanked bottoms peeking sediciously out of green petticoats. I liberally doused them until their leaves became slender green fins in the mulch. I tried not to think of orphan stray bullets that have planted themselves in the gardens, in the walls of this historic Rosie the Riveter village surrounded by railroad yards, Chevron tanks, and urban ghetto.

Sometimes I still dream an old lover comes in the night to put his arms around me. Last night I played succubus to his incubus, and opened like a rose, only to awaken to a confused history of decades slipping upstream, under the bridge of time, caught off guard, finding myself in sleep, unfaithful to my mate. The exponential dance of cumulative lovers had not corrupted that dance but old habits die hard, like all the rest.

In the infidelity of sleep, we are all infidels. Meanwhile, my cousin will turn up missing, victim of a hit an run on the Richmond Bridge, and I will find her registered as a Jane Doe at the NICU ward, in a coma, where I will begin to hold vigil and pray in earnest to any god that will listen that she will wake up whole. And the electricians, on island time, will forget to show up and the refrigerator will thaw and christen toe floor to become a white island of rotted food surrounded by a baptismal moat of ice water.

2004 may

HOUSE-SITTING FOR SHIVA

HOUSE-SITTING FOR SHIVA

I wake to a strange house, someone walking on the roof.
I wake to the garden where I have been introduced to the roses by name,
the owners have left me a plotted map
with watering schedule and instructions for new roses
versus the established roses
but no information that the electricians are coming in the morning.
Or the name of the cat or that the mail needs to be let in once a day too.
An electrician lets himself in by the front door, looking for the fuse box
Luckily I’m dressed, but asleep on the couch, he’s as surprised as I am.
He tells me there will be no power, this means no morning tea, no computer.
Yesterday’s heat wave has thrown the schedule asunder.
The northern sky is lonesome for the tropics
St. Kitts, said the other electrician, my home,
Are you far from home? He asks.
I’m all tangled up in answers, do I say where I’m raised, where I’ve lived,
versus where I live now and why I can’t seem to answer the question?

We think in terns of color, the roses are florid schools of fish.
Circe the nymph, shares a plot with Just Joy,
Mme Lombard is next to Tolouse Lautrec
and Alliance de Franco Russe is next to the Peace rose
Gloire & Eglantine, Mrs Choux, and Aloha all by herself in a corner
I find Charles de Gaulle in the same bed with the Tipsy Imperial Concubine
I imagine a collective lovers knot of roses under the rich loam
I follow the map, watering each rose, avoiding down power lines
suspended from the pole by a yellow line tied to the roof—
as if the house were a boat anchored to a mooring line
snug in a harbor of crabgrass sea.
When the watering is done and it comes time to pick some roses for my class
I forget the eminent danger of water lines and high voltage lines intersecting
though the hose and extension cords are crossed in fated lovers’ knots
I forget the possibility of electrocution greeting me
by traveling up the silver highway of water to the hose, will it save me?
Should the lines cross, the intersection of an improbable death
I forget my plans to run away from the trajectory of the line
and the yellow rope, should it break
My plans to avoid imagined deaths are dismantled as I flit from bloom to bloom
with shears in hand gathering heaps of roses
of every description and name
nearly 150 varieties to tantalize and entrance
their heady odor, narcotic, I’m like the cat, stoned,
staggering from each imagined heaven to another
oblivious to the hordes gathered around cars
with rap vibrating the cars like a gale against sail lines
bowline, jib line, another line until I get to the radishes
with their rosy spanked bottoms peeking out of green petticoats
Sometimes I still dream he comes in the night to put his arms around me
I play succubus to his incubus, and open like a rose
only to awaken to a confused history of decades slipping upstream
under the bridge, catching me off guard
finding me in sleep unfaithful to my mate
the exponential dance of cumulative lovers has not corrupted that dance
but old habits die hard, like all the rest.
In the infidelity of sleep, we are all infidels.

2004