Monday, July 28, 1980



the center of  a muskmelon 

with its lips full of seed
is the body of a woman  
in love 



Bread dulls the knife knife
Paper dulls the scissors
The senses are dulled,
the cutting edge, gone.
The knife against the whetstone
leaves a fine residue of stone and steel.

Tuesday, July 15, 1980



The slumbering giant,
I saw  his crematory eye
spark and ignite
the memory of the night hour
whose hour has come
before his red rimmed eye?

I pick myself up among the bones
You are the dreamer and you are the dream
You scatter rose petals into the sea
I separate the chaff from the grain

I am the gleaner, I am the dream
and the mud oozes over your dreams
What seed is this that sprouts
from the breast of the universe?

From the edge of night you look up
and you stare into that vacant sky
You look for the edge
The shaft of light penetrates
the eye of the dreamer
the womb of the universe
where the tidal forces of your life flows

It is the spine of the ridge
where the red wind blows
In the mud you find the edge
the edge is in the arms of the red wind.

1979, 1980
Another version was published in The Program, vol. 1, no.3, 1979

Sunday, July 13, 1980



Coyote was my witness
howling at the doorstep.
Some say I was born in the crack
between the lintel and doorjam.

I've been the hooves of the centaur,
the ember sparking the crematory fire,
the grass on the sunken graves of Hittites.
I am the mist rising from hollow armors.

I've seen silvered hands of women
tattooed with indigo weaving the rug,
and the slaughtered fawn
run red synthesis upon the earth.

I am the song the edge of night sings
and dawn howls on street corners.
I was the essence that flew upward at creation
and out of it stars were made.

Nothing more than granite ground to flour by glaciers,
you race through streams to lie in the ocean.
I've divided air from water and fire from the horizon.
We are lines converging on the compass and the cross.

We are the first-born of Coyote.



    for Meriden Le Seuer

The mindful trust of this body is held between the spaces of the unseeing eye, left behind on the prairie where Crazy Horse last stood. Yonder, prairie flowers grow naked on the graves of those whose blood nourished the soil 100 years after the last buffalo robe rotted into dust. The circling sparrowhawks encompass the lost souls of those who died in anger, hatred, or in fear. This is a song of sorrow for those who walk alone.

Port Townsend, WA

Friday, July 11, 1980



With its absent-minded stroke
upon the coarse woven skirt,
the knowing touch of an
arthritic hand, too old
for a middle-aged woman

The surety of her deft dressmaker's touch
reminds me of my grandmother's hands,
who made all my school clothes,
but this woman's other hand is missing

& I sense the presence of her twin limb
occupying space, still capable of feeling,
never aging, like the amputated limbs
of children.

As if in greeting and supplication,
her absent hand caresses this room
with the comfort and care of a hand
that lips of children dutifully brush.

Her daughters smooth their dresses
carefully over their thin knees.
I too remember how cruel the kids at school were
on the subject of home-made dresses.

Port Townsend, WA
The Child in the Bell, CPITS Statewide Anthology, 1981-82

Thursday, July 10, 1980

Port Townsend Poetry Conference 1980 (photo)

Port Townsend Poetry Conference 1980. I was with Sharon Doubiago, Tobey Kaplan, and Leonard Cirino. I'm listening to Meridel LeSueur. Sitting on the floor at her feet, actually. Her daughter, Deborah took the photo with my camera. I found it decades later when I scanned my slides. We crashed the Centrum conference—they tried to bust us, and Meridel said, the California poets stay or I go. Sharon Doubiago read from her new manuscript, Hard Country. Meridel said,  This book needs to be published—and the rest is history.

Writing at Centrum
 Centrum’s literary program is a rigorous, craft-focused community for writers, editors, translators, and readers working in a variety of styles. It all began in 1974 with the founding of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference by novelist Bill Ransom, who envisioned an egalitarian, non-hierarchical conference where the emphasis was on the craft of literary writing. Jim Heynen, Carol Jane Bangs, Sam Hamill, and many other writers continued the emphasis on the writing craft and the mid-July conference has become an annual pilgrimage for many.

1980 (I went to this one; I remember meeting Lisel Mueller, and Bill Knott as well as Donald Hall; I think this is the year I met Bill Root and Pan Uschek, and Rusty North.)

FACULTY: Galway Kinnell, Meridel LeSueur, Richard Shelton, Ann Standork, James Bertolino, Madeline DeFrees, Donald Hall, Sam Hamill, Bill Ransom, Lisel Mueller, Bill Knott.
1981 (I'm pretty certain I went to this one too as I have a journal entry on Jack Cady; and I spent time with Tree Swenson and Kathleene over at Copper Canyon Press. Kathleene West (what was her last name back then. I found out that Linnerson was her maiden name, she said she was always reinventing herself. Anyway, she got me to apply to teach poetry to kids in Montana.)

FACULTY: Margaret Atwood, Robert Haas, William Matthews, Sam Hamill, Tree Swenson, Leslie Marmon Silko, William Stafford, Jack Cady, Jane Yolen.
1982  (I know that I went to this one too, I remember singing and drinking with Tess and Ray (note to self: don't try to keep up with them drinking); I fell in love with Thomas McGrath. I remember his Imaginary Letters.)
FACULTY: Olga Broumas, Henry Carlile, Sandra McPherson, Carolyn Forché, Tess Gallagher, Sam Hamill, Paul Hansen, Jim Heynen, Thomas McGrath, Richard Shelton, James Laughlin, Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish.

added 2/2017

Tuesday, July 1, 1980


The blossoming candles of the buckeye
are pointing their way toward water.


Wild Cherries

                   —for Robert Bruce Hamilton, wherever you are

The wild cherry trees of the Colombia River Gorge were covered with tight red fruit almost gone wasted because everybody drove up to Troutdale, near the slopes of Mt. Hood to get prized Bing cherries at a dollar a pound—dark luscious meaty fruit the size of your big toenail. Even the birds weren't allowed to nibble on them. Not that I could afford them either. I joined the birds in a more profitable hunt for the wild fruit that hung within reach of the river shore.

Volunteer trees that had escaped the hybrid yoke, were laden with tiny cherry pie cherries. I climbed up on the roof of the Volkswagon bus, and ate wild cherries as fast as I could pick them. I had stiff competition with the Clark's nuthatches who were quicker. They gulped the fruit down, seeds and all.

I began to savor the cherries as I satiated my desire for the first fresh fruit in season—after a penitential winter of dull canned goods. I ate them most delicately. I nibbled on their edges. I bit them in half, rolling them in my mouth, savoring the tart and sweet admixture— balancing them on the tip of my tongue. I admired their jeweled redness—like pomegranates

Then I saw something move inside one cherry—actually a part of something. A slender threadlike worm dangling off the other half of my cherry. I cautiously bit into another cherry hoping it was an accident. It too had a worm. And the next one, the one after that, and so on. Every cherry had its worm, and I had already eaten two pounds of cherries. I felt queasy and imagined minced worms stitching themselves back together—making a reverse journey back up my throat.

The only thing that saved me from myself was that I recalled hearing that Provencal cherries—unrivaled in flavor—each came with a resident worm. The payison of Provence swear that's the reason why their cherries taste divine. They eat their cherries with worms and all with a bon appétit. But I felt betrayed by all this bounteous nature.

I prefer my protein less lively—didn't I tell you I'm vegetarian?

ca 1980?  rev. 2014
An event with Sweet Old Bob, so the mid 70s, but when I wrote it, I'm not sure. Hindsight is a great tool for editing. I remember being overwhelmed by prose, so not my strong suit. So this piece lay fallow for ages. I rediscovered it while scanning old work. Dusted it off a bit.