Friday, February 26, 2010

I awoke to the image of white horses standing in the rain


I awoke this morning to the image of white horses standing in the rain, thinking of Robert Sund's The Hides of White Horses Shedding Rain, part of his Ish River poems collection (Copper Canyon Press). He was an amazing reader—could weave a spell in no time flat. A calligrapher and painter as well. We had much in common. I wish I had bought that book, when I met him at Port Townsend in 1981, but I had no money at the time.


 
...The great white horse 
Stands under the warm rain
Like a shining cathedral.

—Adrian Mitchel, from Understanding the Rain



...and again falls
this quiet,
persistent rain. 

—Robert Creeley, from The Rain









3
Along the Columbia,
     three more hours and I'm home.
But first
I close the car door
and walk in a field of mountain grass.

I lie down, drink clear
water, dream of old rituals
and what it feels to be pure of heart.

When I get back home to the Ish River country,
I'll open the barn door
and see the hides of white horses shedding rain.

—Robert Sund, from Night Along the Columbia, Day in Blewitt Pass, Going Home



I had a white horse for a while—a stray from Forest Farm Camp (Linda Gregg's home) who wandered from winter pastures to our hill. Poor old Foos hated the rain—she turned dingy creamy, rain falling from her long lashes and that pale summer blue lake of her eyes, entreating me to stop.
added & revised 2/2017
I had to wait that long, seven years, just to find Sund's poem on the internet.
Major 7.0 quake, offshore Ryukyu Islands, Japan. Wonder if this was the source of my horse dream?


 Anacortes poet Robert Sund's 2001 obit

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home from the Scottish Games at the Queen Mary

Home again, jiggity-jig—from the Scottish Games at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

As I taught kids silk painting in the parking lot, someone stole one of my display scarves—part of an air earth fire water mural quartet that SF Tenderloin teachers painted with me ages ago. Yes, the scarf was tied down—well it WAS a butterfly! The irritating thing is, I'd just taught her how to paint on silk. Classic case of misdirection. Thing is, because they're done by students—no one thinks to steal them. I had it well anchored with clothes pins and it was also tied down, and it was there the entire day (despite the wind)—until the two girls came back...

The Queen Mary was cramped but so very art deco in rose & gray appointements. Men of Worth, a great duo, with Donald McDonald played in the Queen's Ballroom Friday night; someone requested one of my fave songs: Ralph McTell's Streets of London. Kenneth McKennen from the Isle of Skye... Portree—recorded Neil O'Neill at a set for Gaelic Radio—on an iPod! Neil sang in English but I could've sung in Irish—had he known! Note all the double-barrel names! LOL!

Meanwhile, across the Long Beach channel, TEDTalks were in an uproar. Keynote Sarah Silverman got all potty-mouthed & then stuck their nose in the goo. If TedTalks wanted—er—scuttlebutt, they should've hired The Big Yin as keynote.Billy Connolly may be crrrude, rrrude but he's also hilariously funny!

Speaking of crappers, Queen Mary, built on the Clydebank in 1930, has John Shanks in every stateroom. Neil was over the moon—more like mooning all the loos all made in his native Johnstone. He gleefully kept flushing the toilet like a mad dog—you had to step on a winch that read John Shanks on the porcelain knob.
Mr. Shanks' fixtures are a fixture.

The hot and cold knobs say Hot Salt and Cold Salt. Imagine washing up in salt water. Not such a luxury after all.

added 2/17 

Two Lucille Clifton poems

Two of my favorite Lucille Clifton poems—i sat at her feet (well on the edge of the stage—with Maya Angelou for National Poetry Week) at she read them, I must dig up the photos. RIP Lucille!

“homage to my hips,”


these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!






“wishes for sons”

i wish them cramps.

i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
i wish them no 7-11.
i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.


 
 

Queen Mary

We were featured at the 17th annual Queen Mary Scottish Games in Long Beach last weekend—our first time both performing and participating. It was a pleasant shock to run into so many old acquaintances there—including someone who read this blog—other than the spambots. They have turned me off to the point where I thought about deleting the entire blog just to get rid of them. They're worse than whale lice.

Now, I am under the profound illusion that there are 11 people in the world who are remotely aware that I even post a blog. But those 11 people don't actually read the blog— they're all those cute little postage stamp icons on the right column below the archives. Spambots don't count as they clearly don't have an aesthetic bone in their cyberbodies—though they are rather inventive at spelling/punctuation variations of Viagra and penis. Someday I'll make a list.

So imagine my surprise when one festival goer who is a fan of Neil O"Neill, Celtic Troubadour, said he'd actually been reading my blog. He showered me with compliments. Words like "talent," and "wisdom" were bandied about. My mouth gathered a profundity of flies (apparently Sarah Silverman had been seriously smutting down across the channel at the TEDTalks—a few disgruntled TED goers jumped ship—er conference hall—who came over to slum on the Queen Mary and maybe to look up men's kilts. You know those little cosmetic mirrors glued to the tops of their shoes?)

Anyway, all this to say that I've turned the comments section back on beneath most of the blog posts that I had previously blocked due to the literary spambots who write me lovenotes in such strange broken English. I found a new section that allows me to post a captcha and I no longer allow Anonymous posts—hopefully that will keep the thundering herds of spambots at bay. Hopefully. And with that, I might actually return to the blog arena again.

What my sole soul reader did say is that my blog was hard to follow in that there is no apparent order. That comes from my many writing hats. Maybe I should consider splitting the blog into several sections, or create different blogs. but it's hard enough just to keep one blog alive.

Should I pull all the poetry & post it in one blog? Post all the old newspaper articles in another blog and then create a separate Marin memoir blog? Problem is, the categories are all so fluid and they do inform who I am. I have never been good at separating my art genres. Is there a way to also thematically arrange the posts—other than by post date? Moving them means I lose the comments, BTW, and I do deem any genuine comments more precious than gold and Viagra. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sorcha Fragment

On a far distant Island on the other edge of the known world, a girl lay on a bright pile of mown hay, thinking of the tale the visiting seanchaí had told them around the hearth the night before. The sun drowsed her into that limnal state between waking and sleeping. The wind was like loose silk on her skin. She imagined it whispering—sometimes she could almost understand what it was saying. Something about Sorcha. A kingdom of light. Was it the wild geese flying overhead in a vee-formation that trapped her daydream in their net of air?







PS For what it's worth, the spambots are onto my new posts like flies on shit. To wit, this fragment of an unfinished post was spammed in less than 12 hours after posting. So sorry that you cannot post a comment in most places at this point—I keep closing the loopholes as they sniff the comments out. No way to turn them all off—only one by one. That's about 300 posts.

PPS I found a new setting that wasn't in my Blogger settings before that allows me to put a captcha puzzle in the comments page. I also no longer allow "Anonymous" posts. as that was a real culprit. Someone please post a comment so I can see if it works!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Queen Mary Scottish Festival in Long Beach


Yo my LA Peeps: I will be teaching kids silkpainting and spinning Celtic tales at the Queen Mary Scottish Festival in Long Beach on 2/13 & 14; and Neil O'Neill will be headlining! We get to sleep on the ship too!

I will be sad to miss my annual Sonoma State Art from the Heart opening and art auction on Feb 13. My NorCAL Peeps: go forth and buy my silk painting for a lot of money—it supports the SSU Art Gallery. Tell Carla Stone NON & Mo sentcha!


February 6


Other news: My Sonoma State University classmate Doug Powell wins $100,000 Tufts Poetry Award for "Chronic." Who says poetry doesn't pay? Last time I saw Doug was at a SFSU reading in 2003ish.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

water puppies



When we were kids we used to find giant water puppies in a tributary of Arroyo Creek in Lagunitas. They were huge, the size of large cats. Our water puppies on the slopes of Mt. Barnabe came in varying shades of brown and russet. We called them moving poops (we were very young). They were quite scary as we'd never seen anything like them before—and we thought we knew the woods and creeks like the back of our hands.

Unfortunately, the lone boy among us, Eric, stoned some of them them to death. They couldn't move very fast on land, I always felt so bad about that incident—as they were quite rare in West Marin!

Wiki link has a photo of a rather cute one. Ours were fiercely ugly. Now I get why they're called water puppies/dogs. They must've barked at us.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_giant_salamander

Abetter Wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Giant_Salamander

But ours were much stouter (hence the poopy name) —these salamanders are more svelte. Like Twiggy!

February 3, 2010

Close encounters with Japan's 'living fossil'
 

Out of the Blue (poem)

If you're looking for British poet unlaureate Simon Armitage's 9/11 poem, "Out of the Blue”, click here. This ain't it—but thanks for stopping by, maybe set yourself a spell and say hi?
Today, as I despaired, out of the blue
a disembodied voice shrieked from the void: 
Write your poetry. What can I say? Admit or deny
that I'm preoccupied trying to conjure up cash,
trying to sell poetry to schools that have no money—
even to match the imperatives of a poetry grant,
or that I'm trying to switch my left brain on

and it just won't go because winter malaise
has addled what's left my right brain as well?
That I am in a drought of my own keeping
or that I am saddened by the sorry state of affairs
in the schools, in the state, the country, in the world,
wondering if I'm going to have to take on menial labor
in order to survive & feeling rather desperate in general
as if suffering were good for art—or a way out.
Does it really boil down to a matter of faith?
Is it as easy as that—when no metaphors will come
and land unbidden on your shoulder
and whisper sweet nothings in your ear.
I want to say: I believe, I believe
though the darkness descends down to my toes
& my fingers stain the keyboard with invisible ink
& anachronisms abound in this technological age
but I'm too tired to wrestle with them
or bitch-slap them into a panacea for this century.




Note Bene (9/2011) Certainly, 9/11 is the backstory for this poem, though I don't name it. 
But if you've a hankering to see Rufus Sewell's marvelous eyes up close and personal, as he recites from Simon Armitage's poem, check out:
Rufus Sewell reads "9/11: Out Of The Blue" Part I That link will take you to the page with all the links to Simon's poem. I can't bear watching the footage even ten years after. The one survivor I knew, a painter, is now dead from brain cancer—from breathing in the poison dust in her Manhattan apartment just a few yards from Ground Zero. No, I can't revisit this, not yet.