Friday, September 10, 2010

New writing from the CPITS Conference

ELLERY AKERS WRITING INTENSIVE 

We practice knocking on the earth, we test the names of things. William Stafford said to lower your standards. And so we do. Some 30 of us gathered at the Institute of Noetic Science on the hills above San Antonio Creek and the Petaluma Valley, to work with poet-naturalist, Ellery Akers. We look at list poems, we note the use of the senses—most notably the sense of smell. We note strong verbs. What the body can do. We read Gary Snyder's Things to do around a Lookout, and Linda Gregg's A Flower that Named Itself. We bring in names and body sensations.  (Note: these are raw, unedited).

SUMMER FOG

We are wrapped in a summer fog
that scrubs the air after fire
Mt. Diablo burning—like a volcano.
Paint the sky a tender sunset.
Tender tinder catching fire 
with the energy of an idea.
The cricket practices
the seething sound
of combustion and loss.

9/10/10


Ellery asks us to use the names of things in our writing, but I worry that the naming of things erases from the thing itself; I am suspicious of noun. As Bob Hass wrote in one of my favorite poems, Meditation at Lagunitas, each particular erases from the clarity of a general idea.


WILDFIRE

What about the ones 
who can't flee the fire?
I worry about deer mice
naming them and king snakes,
naming them shadow and light.
Even rattlers are on my worry list
as the smoke billows and rolls
like a punitive god.


REGENERATION

My skin crawls with particulate and ash.
Funerary regeneration at inception.
Next year, the slopes will bleed
yellow suns of mariposa and poppy.
Shadows will dress in lavender sage 
saxifrage, meadowfoam and gillia.


Most people don't know the names of wild flowers, they say, oh look, how pretty. They are quick to name colors, as if that were enough to sustain the imagination. Pink. Yellow. Blue flower. Pretty. So, the naming of things is meaningless, or is it meaningless for me alone? But I already know the names, so who am I naming it for. I understand the notion of specificity—but it diminishes from the verb-ness of being. I look into the throat of a gillia, and note its deep color, so like a Johnny Jump Up. A landing strip for bees. But the poems hovers out of sight.

AFTER THE FIRE:
TWO HAIKU

After the wildfire
pine seeds will open small fists 
of green renewal.

The mountain will paint 
itself back into beauty
after the fire.


UNTITLED HOMELAND

It feels wrong facing north
on the skirts of Mt Burdell
on this inland range
overlooking the Petaluma Valley
for my homeland is to the west,
toward the sea.



I was born within sight of the ocean
and a nervousness dances 
when I stray from the coastal hills of my birth.
The slopes of Mt. Barnabe sheltered me.
The long arm of the ridge wrapped itself
around our house holding us in from the world.

Afternoons I'd ride the crest of the ridge
testing the odor of pine and bay.
Sweet lethe, the crickets sizzled 
in the rattlesnake grass 
shaking a soft rhythm in the breeze.

Published at Medusa's Kitchen, Dec 7, 2010



The long line of ridges calling me out of the room. Siren call. Away from the writing. But I'm determined to stick it out. Nothing comes. Nothing comes. Not even decent photos. Ellery tells us that Evan Boland said she writes every day but gets one poem out of 30. That's about one a month. She also said that Marvin Bell said it's more important to write badly than well—as it's raw. Ellery wants raw. I say RAW! I roar. RAW RAW RAW! I think of Gollum eating raw fish in the dark heart of the mountain. What's it got in its pocketses? I've got the writing badly part down pat.

We steal verbs from the Greats, We note the action verbs from Roethke's Children on Top of a Greenhouse. We note the verbs and take them in. Harbor them. Give them shelter. We define the shakers and movers in a language. We read Rukeyser's A Little Stone in the Middle of the Road. 

Ellery's color-coded packets of poems are a shambles. I can't read poems reduced to 6 or 8 point type—especially indoors under florescent lights with these eyes of 57 years—soon to be 58 years. I'm nearly as old as my mother was when she died. The though pales me. I'm distressed by the presentation of poems slapped sideways in every crevice—we follow arrows to the end of a poem. My dyslexia bitch slaps me so I can't read even with double magnification and must rely solely on the orality of words. 

I have a reverence for the placement of things. Words on the page, a line drawing, or random objects on a shelf. I am always composing shape and texture, light and dark. Chaos into order. The double hazard of being both artist and writer. 

Ellery introduces the concept of blathering. She wants us to focus on the music and repetition.Go whole hog with phrases like: What I really want to say is... But does she know that blather is a loan word from the Irish, the gift of the gab? Or the gob, more like. I'm gob-smacked. She calls it a five-minute nutcase exercise. OK, I'll bite.

And so we have a go at mistranslation from the Swedish. Transtromer—Playing the Piano. The long song of music. Only thing is, I can grok the Swedish. Not that I know any Nordic language.

AFTER TRANSTRÖMER'S LÁNGSAM MUSIK
(a mistranslation)

Bring on all the strings
a solo trianon of aeloean harps
seek the generous firmness of notes
they play an earthquake of wandering ovations
writing broad strokes in the stark night
at the back of the masked oceans of fear
triggering our dreams with a lute.

One day you will understand
the playing language shuttered inside
the notes. It will live again
as a miracle with more clarity
and the stolen blond notes of summer grass
will find the karma of fire.
A lonely symphony of heat
will blaze with such frankness
that the cry of the willow
will weep water
and the waterfall will run clear.

Blond streams fruitful
the lengthy thought
banging up the mountain.


Well, that was pure drivel. I can't seem to enter into a poem. Ellery asks us to use words from the lists. But I can't even read the words. She's rushing us, perhaps wanting to get us to write 30 poems in today's afternoon workshop alone, so we'll have one keeper poem out of it all. Hurry, hurry, hurry through the poems. Take shortcuts because you've done it before. I've done that. Been there. Yes. But much of this material is new to us. I want to savor the words a bit, get the directions down—be able to read the words, so I can write, informed. I vow not to rush my students ever again. 

Write crazy surrealist images exercise. Use repeated phrases. Andre Breton, My wife.... The Sybil and  Nothing by Kathy Coleman. This has something to do with.... There is___in ____ named...

I think:
death in translation
my mother predicted my death

I go with There is...as that's all I can remember from the list.

THERE IS DRIVE

There is drive in the seed 
of the sunflower.
After sleep, it catches fire, 
a blaze of fiery yellowness
pulling the stretch of time 
over us like a button.

There is a stutter 
in the throat of the nervous sky
battening down its hatches 
of light and remorse
like a sailor too long at sea.

There is a dizzying blue of chickory 
whirring past by the roadside
amide the hostile shoulders of stone 
and gravel and shattered glass
amid the virtuous thistles.

There is a thread cut loose 
from the pond of the sky
as dragonflies dip and weave
crocheting the air with cerulean and lapis.

There is something carnal unloosened
from the red thread of the willow root 
dipping into the last summer stream
while the parched meadow watches from afar.

There is mortar in the beginnings on rain
exploding on the red clay earth.
Franciscan strata and serpentine at odds with,
yet married to this one place where the earth growls.

There is a porch of afternoon thought
watching a parade of cars
quench a volatile thirst of rangoon distance.

This has something to do with distance
longing they say, because what comes before
the wheel of time is relentless
as sand at the apex of a dune.

There is something to do with the unfettered wind
that comes and goes where it pleases
hissing thorough the leaves of a live oak
or sybalent whispering though the pines.

There is something of a secret kept from us
translation, a dark process of water and fire
whispering slantwise in our ears.

The far ridge beckons
my home, my home.


THE RUN ON SENTENCE
Blather, part 2. Ellery reads Carolyn Kizer's Threatening Letter
She says: Use blathery phrases to create a run on sentence: I understand, I suppose, just remember. on the other hand, the unifying principle behind all this
CK Williams Each time/ Sharon Olds, Adolescence. Diaphragms.
Pile on the details. Make a memory poem of smells and sound. When I was 10, here are, give me back, I can still remember, That was the year, etc.

THE END OF THE RELATIONSHIP

I remember when I left 
my diaphragm 
on the shelf of the tub 
after a bath where
he left an egg under it.

TAKE II

I suppose you'll want me to be precise 
describe the way the sky reflects back on my shades
though we're indoors and I can barely see.
The sun has come out after two months of gloom
I am blinded by its strength, the way colors come alive, 
the blue of sky against the dark green of oak 
and the blond manes of grass everywhere, a riot of color.

And I can barely see with my spectacles on 
and the print is too tiny for me to see under artificial light
and besides I can't read indoors after rain either
the way the light transgresses, turns blue as the sky.

At least with Edison's light bulbs 
there is a spark from the earliest fires 
of Las Caux and Altamira.

I suppose I really should look up more often, 
see the sky for what it is, polluted with greed and soot.

On the other hand, the type on the paper 
is like little ants squirming out an unintelligible meaning.

Of course I can read it, just not under this lack of light. 
It might as well be the dark side of the moon.

I suppose if I got really strong glasses 
I could read  6-point type, 
smudged by generations of copy machines, 
but do I really want to? OK, this is shit.

Did you know that even after several years, 
wearing glasses makes me bilious and headachy? 

I suffer more from migraines that most.
I blame the glasses, or maybe the floating islands of Lake Titicaca
My classmate Doug was complaining of vertigo 
and blamed a past life spent on an open sea.
He blamed the Straits of Magellan.
Whereas I blamed Tierra del Fuego 
for not shedding enough light on the subject. 

He blamed the Straits of Magellan 
whereas I blamed the sea.

Here, there are ants at a picnic 
on the coastline of words
nonsensical syllables
my eyes grow old,
they grow old, they grow old.

Where is TS Eliot when we need him?
My eyes are all glazed up and damseled about
in this cage of old age.

Wait! That was Ezra in the cage of madness, not Eliot.

The unifying principle behind all this blathering
is that I'm rapidly approaching my "sell by" date.

You see, when I was a child, I was a powerful dreamer
what I dreamed came into being
like my dreaming of Russian troikas in the snow
I dreamed it in Mrs. Brice, the mean teacher's homeroom class.

It was late afternoon, probably sometime in the fall.
She was droning on about something
but my daydreams were too powerful for me to follow her.

I was an escape artist and I dreamed of the world.
I dreamed of Russia and Peru, the places I'd read about
and indeed I went to all those places. They fueled my thoughts.

But you see I also dreamed of a world so terrible
when I was 50, and the more I imagined the earth,
the closer I looked, to clarify my vision,
the worse the world became.

The harder I dreamed, the worse it got
and soon I couldn't dream myself into being
not into old age, not past my 50th year, 
and yet here I am
on the eve of another birthday
past my sell by date
in the fall, verging into winter.


FLYKU

the fruit flies knitting 
their hands in despair thinking
of the coming fall.


ON NATURE POETRY  blue sheet
persona, use run-on sentences, think, & become the object
become the thing from the inside
pay attention to rhythm
write about a plant or an inanimate object
An Axe looks at winter Snyder
Our models Louise Gluck—Wild Iris 
Carlos de Andrade, Muriel Ruckheyser—The universe is made of stories.

Starter lines:
i remember
I overheard
it is so terrible
you, who do not remember
I tell you
At the end of suffering 

BECOME THE OAK

Think, become the oak
Become the maple or the iris
The sun drinks lavender
Become the sward of grass in late summer
the odor of tarweed
Become the meniscus of the sky 
bearing down on the horizon
Become the breeze 
seething in hot summer
while the buckeye aestivates
Become the dance of fal
the first leaf spiraling like a ballerina
Become the line of trees 
following the crevice of the hill
sweet water seeking the solace of rock
Become the lonely islands of bunch grass 
amid the alien oats
A tower of brome babel in the the wind
the ancestor of corn and wheat
Become the hiss of serpentine
tufts of Indian soaproot on the beaten path
or prayer flags in the garden
Become the mud flat at low tide
Become the sweet odor of creosote and coyote bush
Become the slough giving back the blue of the sky
a marriage of sorts, the sky and estuary
Become the star thistle—
whether in magenta or in yellow
an interloper, so common, 
Still, the striped bumblebees roll 
and dance in the blossoms anyway
Become the head of the onion, gone to seed
the rattle of deer hooves on pavement
Become the breeze from the west
laden with the memory of the sea
Become the reservoir, become the lake, 
or the drought that uncovers ancient shores, 
old campsites and middens
Become the distinction 
between the seen and unseen.


Become the slope of Sonoma Mountain
or the secret of the Soulajoule range
Become the secret plan of the deerpath
the distant knock of woodpeckers in deep forest.

Become all these things 
because there is no division 
between Self and self
Become the constancy of the wind.



Ann Carsen- My religion
WS Merwin Chord, Native American idea of giving thanks before you begin.
use opposites—both good an bad
use pairs  and repeated phrases
two parts of the natural world ocean/fish  hawk/air
use strong verbs & nouns
USE while he
when he
thank
listen
we are saying thank you

A NOTE TO THE WIND

I used to believe that when the sky cried
it was a sign of God’s displeasure
I used to believe that tears 
held some magical power
to transcend or to hide
the idea of active verbs
not passive resistance
drawing a blank
Write it, write it again
I can’t think, I can’t think
I used to believe that love conquered all
Yes, the heart, I used to believe in it too
I had a vision that it all mattered
that patterns would emerge
like tree to sky
or note to wind
the roof of the sky sheltered more than clouds
and stars and day and night
I used to believe that the moon hungered for water
the way the germinating seed hungered for soil
but then I met strange forms deep in the jungle
that hungered only for air
the eye on the back of my neck 
opened to its own nightmare
and I could no longer close it, 
it hungered for light
the water, a sacrament of sorts.



MY GRANDMOTHER’S HANDS

My grandmother’s hands 
were torn and speckled with pigment
fair northern flesh burned by the fierce California sun.
A rebellious knotted vein rose up like a stone.
It was a lucent blue that dragonflies aspire to.
A souvenier from a wayward strand of barbed wire
Her freckles, archiplelago of islands set adrift
on a moon-milk sea.
Tiny Brendan voyagers in curraghs 
headed for the New World
A phalanx of tiny warrior shields 
raised up against a common enemy, the sun
But they failed to protect her children, 
when the melanoma set sail for that country 
from which nothing ever returns.

I remember the wide spatulate fingers
that weeded gardens, 
rubbed sheets against the washboard
that sewed and mended jeans
or made dreses for my first day of school 
and how I was ashamed they were not store-bought.
I remember the way she sewed them
at the announcement of summer
The way she swung the axe,
or sawed wood for winter
or when she cleaved meat.
The way she separated chicken with such surety 
I learned the survival of hands 
but not the deft wayward touch of love.

No caresses were needed 
because I already knew she loved me 
with a love as fierce as the sun that burned her skin 
as she labored in the garden or at the clothesline 
or stacked the wood, she kept us safe, 
and provided when no one else would.
As she knelt to pray in the Sunday pew, 
the sun shone on that knotted vein 
and it was so beautiful—the scarring and freckles, 
a skin painting of faith and tenderness.



PERSONA ANIMAL POEM  red sheet
keep the channels open  Martha Graham quote Robert Duncan's My mother would be a falconress  Ginsberg The Lion for real
Write of a major event, or your mother as an animal
what does your animal smell, hunt, or know?
include an animal in a weird way.

MY MOTHER WAS A CHEETAH

My mother was a cheetah, 
she could outrun any man
but curiosity killed the cat
and so she circled back again and again
as she raced the wind
But she outpaced herself
and was left haunting her own shadow
instead of flesh, bone & fur
But when she outraced death
it kept apace and it got her in the end
all nine lives used up.
First, the twins, and the rivers of blood
unstaunchable, so many stillborn babies
Then the accidents, putting herself in harm’s way
The muggings, the men who would harm her 
by the fist, or the knife, 
or the lip of the windowsill, four stories up
Those who valued life so little, 
they wanted her dead
the men who would kill her for meager SSI checks, 
for their next fix
This pattern was followed by the suicide attempts
and when the drugs didn’t work
and if that wasn’t enough, 
then the cancer shining in her breasts
used up two more lives, but she was saved, 
she was saved several times over
But then it snuck back in behind the implants
It snuck back in on little cat feet
It was the final triad for a life lived at the speed of wind
it all adds up to a life that hung on the cusp
of too many battles 
so that there was no longer enough energy
for the hunt or for the caring of her young
Sure she mourned for her lost cubs
 searching for them in the breeze, 
As dusk fell, her eyes grew wide at imagined dangers
Flight and speed were all that she had left
I will always remember her with her red mane
all wind touseled
and the way she stood, both hunter and hunted
she was both gazelle and cheetah
my mother, the wind.


MY FATHER'S THIRST

my father was a river of thirst
who slid snakewise
into a bottle of Seagrams
until his mind became the water of Lethe
Weather patterns withholding
the love of his children evaporated like dew
in the morning sun  
for how can you love what you do not know?
I came to know him only in death, 
by the cataloging of his things
old coins, handguns, 
souvenir shot glasses 
and casino ashtrays.



MEMORY POEMS  red sheet
Rexroth Christmas Eve, Snow in SF
Robinson Jeffers O Lovely Rock
Gerald Stern The Power of Maple

Write a happy memory, of a time when you felt safe
outside/inside (tree giving instructions, a tree in conversations

IN CONVERSATION

Coast live oak, valley oak, 
buckeye in summer
Tell your children
do not rush that headlong frenzy into light and earth, 
Be sure to fall far enough away from the mother 
for she poisons the soil beneath her, 
She cannot shelter your beneath her canopy
There is room enough only for one at a time
and to flourish you need new horizons
Find a hillside studded with limestone and serpentine, 
for they hide a steady source of deep water 
for you to plumb during times of drought
Between the two extremes you will find a place
neither too toxic nor too loamy
For to grow too fast 
before your roots have anchored to the earth
is to become topheavy
And if you’ve chosen the rich plain over the rocky slope
like your cousin, the valley oak
then, in winter storm, when the rain falls in sheets
your boughs will become heavy 
for you do not shed leaves in winter
Your cupped leaves will fill with gobbets of water and wind
And the wind and meadow will conspire to topple you
They will not support your new weight
and you will be felled by nature
and by your own foolish desire
to crown too soon.

Know your place first
and when it’s safe, and all systems are go, 
only then, push against that shelter of lined walls
to emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon
Split the seams of your prison, 
then send your taproot down deep, 
you only have one chance, 
choose your crevice in stone well.

Tell your children to open into two rafts of nourishment
to carry them forth, know when to open,  
Only then, unfurl your first leaves as if in supplication.

Beware the woodpecker who probes your secret depths
to bury your own children in a purgatory inside you
Beware the oak gall wasp
and especially the beetle who brings 
the sudden oak death on his back
for your sap will run like a red river of grief
that no tide will turn.


SHADAB’S WORKSHOP

WINDMILL

Shadab hands me a bon voyage traveling candle
from the Windmill Hotel in Amsterdam
nestled in a spice tin dressed in yellow and red,
a faint perfume of pine and cleanser escapes

Not my Amsterdam of dank winding canals 
and sudden curtains of rain and sleet
or the spicy smell of wet pavement
and the serpentine hiss of tires in puddles

Or biking through Vondelpaark
on a Sunday afternoon with neo-impressionistic clouds
roiling on the horizon in violet and blue hues.
A rock band blaring on the stage, 
everyone lighting up weed-laced cigarettes
while lovers and pickpockets haunt the shrubbery.

Not the Amsterdam of yesteryear 
when the women in billowing dresses
and best harridan voices gutturally rasped
as they collectively hung their laundry to dry
in a vast Monday dance across the city.
The water taps bellowed and pipes rattled in unison
to a chorus of soap and lye and fish.

The iconic windmill caught an offshore breeze
the harbors filled with furled sails
the air, redolent with spicy cargo from the East India Co.
rolled down the gangplank with a flourish.

Instead, I hold a small round tin
the kind that expensive spice is sold in
the label, dressed in yellow and red
a paper sari or Javanese pareau
nestled inside, a tub of saffron colored wax vat.
Perfume escapes, wafts up, 
the odor of pine resin and laundry
the wick, slumped over, no match will kindle
as if it had buried its head in shame.

9/12/10



Shadab tells us of the names of perfumes, the olfactory senses, the frontal lobe, the limbic system, the hippocamus, and the seat of memory, receptors, how the role of perfume is both danger & desire evolutionary factor 4000 years in the making, first reference is 9th c. Arabic alembic treatise, first to experiment with the rose. 1221 monks...

We will invent our own perfumes
pick a name (what’s in a name: Poem, Duende, l’aire du temps, obsession, opium), discuss ingredients, distilling process
invent your own scent, identify it with a noun (person, place or thing)

L’PETIT SAUVAGE

First, gather rose petals
from the wild climbers 
of abandoned farmsteads
for they are closest to the road to Damascus
then gather lavender 
from the steep south hillsides 
and cliffs of Obuda gardens
in late afternoon 
while the strains of wild gypsy violins play
from the parapet of the old walled city.
Scent the afternoon
wait for dusk 
and add a touch of neruli and jasmine, 
a little amber and clove. 
Steep in glass jars in filtered sunlight 
with rhisome of orris root and ambergris, 
gather the air churned 
by the wings of small songbirds, 
the laughter of children, 
the lonesome cry of a horse 
separated from the herd,
the rustle of pine and bay in late afternoon
where serpentine and angst 
create a bed of strife and longing
for pure sweetness is too cloying, 
you want a balance 
the lavender will wash away your worries
Gather the ephemeral odor of a summer meadow
summer islands, a hint of bay and pine 
followed by the preternatural urge of fall
for you don’t want soothing sloth, 
you want energy and vigor
Crush the rose petals 
and lavender buds stripped from the stems
in a marble bowl with a pestle of ironwood or yew
Double gather in the air of a meadow  
with the heart of neruli or ginger
with sweet almond oil, make into into a balm
and use it sparingly on the wrist at dusk
when sad and in need of of a soul cleansing.

Or decant the concoction into slender bottles 
used to collect tears of Romans
Circle the garden widdershins 
to unwind the distillation of late afternoon
Wear when nostalgic,
 and your dreams will be soothed, 
and you will waken refreshed 
from the ravages of this century.
Call it archipelago and pack it in a box 
made from the nascence of a pearl oyster shell, 
sheathe it in hand dyed silk. 
Throw all caution to the wind.



PAM SINGER’S CLASS

Maria Sabina sez
the blue vault of the sky sez
the north wind sez
the wind sez
the birds are bridges across the sky
the birds are a bridge
wings of the sky
birds are the blue heart of lapis
and tree on tree, emerald slumber
leaf green and sun splendor
the hiss of rattlesnake grass
the rattle of deer hooves 
will set you right again
right as rain, right as rain
sez sez


JILL MOSES CLASS

Embodied poetics (literally) Whitman, I sing the body electric, Dickinson body poems vs the PhD of deconstruction
what lives on after we’re gone?
writing from within the body, or a body of work. I'm too flogged to think, let alone, write. I am saddened by it, but that's the way it is.


GRACE & SUSIE’s CLASS
directional words
what we see in nature

VOICES

Beneath the sky
rustling like a stream, oak
the keen of a hawk
the beauty above me
above me only sky
cover me with stars
planets in conjunction
Jupiters’ moons
surround me with voices
blanket me with the wings 
of hummingbirds gone to war.

Fill me with laden air
turn me like a leaf in an autumn meadow
Tell me of the time of lichen and stone
pale jade and russet
when the corn grew secrets
held safe in the ears of harvest

I am bay, I am oak, I am cedar
guide me through the words
like leaves on the pond
small boats of green and yellow and amber.

Carry me across like Charon
Make me honey oatcakes to feed his hunger
a stream of thought
for I want to live in the same place twice
in the lonely night of stars
and the mountain holds more gravity
than these latent thoughts
of sungiold piercing the shards
of light on a lake at dawn
I want to know why the dappled light
throws myriad suns
with such reckless abandon
what are we seeking?
the light itself
is dressed in skins.


DANA TEEN LOMAX  I'm afraid I bombed in her class too. Tired. Tired. Tired. Double duty of photographing every workshop and participating as a writer is taking its toll.


THIGH

She tells us the strongest muscle is the maximus gluteus
but for me, it’s the thigh
Once I had a car with a bad starter and a bad battery
so I always had to park on a hill
let gravity take its force, ignition, combustion, speed
One time I had to go to the City
I chose my parking spot and getaway wisely
parking at the end of a street
so I could roll down the road and jumpstart the car
what I hadn’t planned on was someone parking in the red zone
in front of me, I was stuck. I waited, no luck
so I sat on my hood and pushed with my thigh muscles. 
The impossible made possible, 
I pushed my car uphill and pushed and pushed, 
rolled the car back far enough to clear the bumper
 must’ve had some help and I got out of the car
I rolled it down the hill, pop-started it and drove home



UBUweb experimental poetry, publishing the unpublishable

FRACTURED SOUND

It begins with a fracturing of sound
the eyes burn, hard to focus
like a sleepy afternoon
that liminal place between waking and sleeping
then the narrowing of vision
the letters on the screen become aquatic
I admire the peculiarity of light and color
the tinabulations an orchestra
of drowsy flies.




Claudia Rankin, politics of the land
how we limit ourselves
she changes her mind in  the middle of the poem,
don’t let me be lonely
she frames culture & politics as if from the outside
pop culture and current events & regret. Frank O’Hara
poets for living waters Amy King using BP language to write poetry

WRITE about a moment when you changed your mind
when you woke to a different perspective

SEA CHANGE

We were having a discussion on something or other, 
I don’t remember what
but when we entered, I was on one side of the fence
and what I thought was firmly entrenched in belief long standing
but then a shifting of sight, 
like when you stare at those optical illusions, 
the box leaning inward or out
I don’t remember what. 
the particulars are unimportant
but it was an epiphany, an AHA!
when I got it
and I was irrevocably on the other side of the fence
looking back, realizing I could never enter
into that easy place of language again. 
For example: to Jew someone down, 
to get something for cheap, or to call someone a Wop, or a Mick
the unintentional hurtfulness buried in pop culture and language, 
sensitivity
the innocence lost
A shift of consciousness.

Alright, I do remember that it was a heavy subject 
obliterated from memory
because we’re not supposed to go there
not something that comes in neat packages of do’s and don’ts
but I do know there was no turning back
and I was a pillar of salt
my tongue cracked in my mouth
and what was black had turned blindingly white.



MEG HAMMILL

fractiles, sequence
native peoples begin with thank you
1. Opening t gratitude
2 owning your pain for the world
3. Seeing with new eyes
4. Going forth

The spiral connects the fragmented mind
choose one to hone in on
environmental crisis, etc
using the news, borrow words & phrases


OPENING TO GRATITUDE

1. Thankful for
clear weather
the view
sun & sky
words unfettered
water in all its forms
the breeze

2 Opening to the pain
vulnerability
ache
migraine
my fluttering heart
overstimulation
moving beyond fear

3. Seeing with new eyes
the bending of limbs
long shadows on the horizon
how the tall grass and the wind scrubs the sky
how it shapes the trees

4. Going forth
ridgetops beckon
I want to play hooky
the distraction is part of the process



TEN VERBS TEN NOUNS

TEACHER words
teach
educate
discipline
learn
instruct
punish
homework
books
words

oil slick
deep water
turtles
fish nurseries
slick
ocean oil well
derrick
fire flames
smoke
boom of human hair

Create sentences mixing I matching form the two lists

SHELL RECOVERY ACT

Instruct the ocean
that the words fanned by the flame
hold the secret instructions 
of fish in deep schools
whether the open books of deepwater
are mutilated or punished by 
the punctuation of derricks and wells 
on the sea bed
the betrayal of burst pipes and bent valves 
that can no longer hold the payload
the sea on fire.


owning the pain of the words 
epistle or ode address the object


Epistle or ode

SHELL EPISTLE

Dear seabirds and turtles
whether greenback or loggerhead
whether pelican or spoonbill
whether cities of fish
lifted from their prime
we diagnose bird and oil slick
name Dawn soap as a savior of feathers
O horrible brave new detergent
thy name is rainbow slick
and dolphin rise
surprised by the betrayal of water.


CLARE BLOTTER
talking in code
3 chakra sounds
moce your voice down
low E
Heart Ah
O sound of the throat

OK, Chakra work did me in—nothing at all to show for that workshop. Think I'll step outside and test the air of late afternoon.


ARTHUR DAWSON  Song  of place
Our job is to become natives of where we are —Snyder

We are ecologically illiterate

Write the story of place names
Dead Man’s Curve
The low road
Shafters
Papermill Creek
Creamery Creek
the spillway
China House

THE PLACE WHERE COYOTE LOST HIS BONE

I am drawn to the back roads
the drive out D Street
the bend where you leave the suburbs behind
the road becomes rub-board rough, 
chuckholes from last year’s rain and frost 
fractures the asphalt like a puzzle
and the tires make an unfamiliar rhythm
the road snakes up the ridge
the sentinel rock outcroppings are a gateway of sorts
natural dolmens of the new world
the one that looks as if it were raised by men
and not the uplifting of faults
the coast live oak grows on the leeward side
for passes in the coastal hills are wind funnels
the wind, laden with a payload of fog
creates micro niches, 
the oak and the cattle take advantage 
of the slender shelter the rock coppice provides
I want to flee civilization
I want to inhabit the places untamed  by man
The setting sun creates a sundial of sorts
the cattle gather close, crop the summer grass short
their eyes rivited on me
this act tells me that the rancher feeds them hay
they associate stopped vehicles with food source
the shadows grow long and snake across the landscape
the light is golden and amber
the wind that traditionally roars through this pass 
is momentarily still.
a surcease, an equilibrium reached  
between inland heat and coastal temperance
but the tree shorn by the western wind 
holds mute testament to the forces of weather.

It is said that the rock is coyote’s bone.
it must’ve been some story how he lost it
but those who knew the story
are all gone now.

I imagine the women came from miles around 
to rub up against the rock
to induce fertility, a baby-making rock.
We don’t know the back story of how it was lost
poor Coyote, losing his boner like that.
Maybe it’s because he didn’t recognize his wife 
after the flood receded and she stuck it there 
to remind him of who she really was.

9/12/10

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