Wednesday, December 31, 1980

Snail and carp drawings 1979 ot 80?

Whatever notebooks these drawings were from are long gone. These were bad xerox copies pasted onto my hand-calligraphed poetry folder. which held my "published" (keeper) work from 1978 to 1980. They could even be from 1978, or earlier.

 What you can't see from the greyed and worn xerox is that they were exquisitely rendered, almost 3-D. The coated paper still reeks of chemicals. I'm surprised they lasted this long.

The fish, probably borrowed from a Japanese woodblock, became a model for a raku fish I made in the mid 1970s. Or the raku fish I made in the 70s, inspired the drawing. Either way, I was intrigued by how the parts fit together so elegantly—especially the tail.

The snail was a garden culprit. I was drawing him as he was perched on my finger. I became enamored of the comic slobbery houndog quality of his jowls. After I was done admiring him, I let him go.

added 3/18

Monday, December 29, 1980


collaborative poem, Maureen Hurley, Donna Champion, published in the Obligatory Hug, 7/1984

Monday, December 22, 1980

The Close of the Year (prose) Trailside Killer

The  Close  of the Year (prose)

Below me  a  fog lake slowly wells up aid roils  over like milk flowing  down  the  hillsides in a slow dance that bathes the trees with dew and moisture on the slopes  of Gilliam Ridge. The peaks  of the Cedars  and the  Red Slide jut out of angular winter shadow like pyramids catching the sun.

Below me, hikers climb out of the  ravines of Austin Creek, and a chainsaw buzzes, a woodpecker calls to her mate, and somewhere far off, an early lamb bleats for its mother. Somewhere to  the  south near Point Reyes a killer is stalking unwary hikers and the corpses are an unholy offering in a place such as this that cries "no more blood".

A bloodthirsty killer who  knows these woods, who somehow lures young women away from the relative safety of numbers, and places precise bullet holes in their heads. Why this? That these woods have come to harbor such evil? The sunshine is so warm. I take off my woolen clothing, my bare skin and feet are stroked by feeble winter sun. My eyes grow heavy with sleep. Should I also expect danger from that intruder this far north?

The body of fog roils toward me like spores furring on excrement and three ravens  cut across its surface making their own kind of offering to the land.

The sun in the southernmost position of the sky needs fire, not blood, no bone-fires  to bring it back from solstice. I hear the  ticking of the clock. The ticking of the clock... a line from one of my earlier poems.

I learn to settle down and rest comfortably like a cat among lines of my own choosing. I inherit them, I, who disavowed them, they keep coming back in all of their angular beauty—an untamed vision to haunt me—like those nameless faces of those murdered women of Point Reyes.

A roaring sound is heard. Does the fog roar through the trees as it passes through? or is the fog a lake, and do the the waves lapping up against the shore of the ridge roar? or is it the eyeless souls and mouthless tongues of all those murdered women of Point Reyes?

added 7/17, minor revision
A reference to the Trailside Killer



Below us, the fog lake rises
on the slopes of Gilliam Ridge.
It wells up and boils over like milk
and flows down the sides in a slow dance,
bathing the trees with dew and moisture.
The peaks of the Cedars and  Red Slide
juts out of angular winter shadow
like pyramids catching the sun.

Below us, hikers climb out of the ravines
of Austin Creek Park
and a chainsaw buzzes.
a woodpecker calls to her mate,
and somewhere, far off, a lamb bleats for its mother.

Somewhere, to the south, near Point Reyes
a killer is stalking.
The sunshine is so warm.
we take off our woolen clothing.
Our bare skin and feet stroked by the glow
of winter sunlight.
Our eyes grow heavy with sleep.

The body of fog, like fur on dogshit, rolls towards us,
and three ravens slice across its surface
making their own kind of offering to the land.
The sun, in the southernmost acre of the sky,
needs no-blood, no bonfires
to bring it back from winter solstice.

I hear the ticking of the clock.
The ticking of the clock...
I repeat a line from one of my earlier poems.
I learn to settle down  like a cat among lines
of my own choosing.
They keep coming back to haunt me
like those nameless faces
of the murdered women of Point Reyes.

A roaring sound is heard.
Does the fog roar through trees as it passes through?

Winter Solstice

One of the few poems of 1980 that I actually dated. There's also a reference to the Trailside Killer,  this is one version. I can't find a decent copy of the other version. Added 11/16 minor revisions & line breaks. There's also a prose version, probably a first draft for this poem, Winter Solstice, 1980.

Sunday, December 21, 1980

Winter Solstice, 1980

Our feet brush through the pine needles, one last time before they settle back to earth. In the sunlight we can't help but reach toward love. The blood roars like an ocean through your veins and a fog shrouds my belly. It sings through my veins as a fog enters my mouth and I feel your pulse against my lips as you come loose from your moorings. It's 5, no, 7 counts and you sink into oblivion. And the ethereal mist seep between my teeth and flows across the wilderness of our bodies. I think of those 5 or 7 million dead lying on my belly, and of those poor murdered women of Point Reyes, as soft grey brain matter sinks back into the earth. Our bodies warm to winter sunlight and we reach to hold each other as we celebrate the returning of the sun.

Winter Solstice 1980
Austin Creek Park
added 7/17, revised
*a reference to the Trailside Killer

Monday, December 1, 1980

In the Garden

In the Garden

She was at the bar ordering the Calistoga water when she saw him. It seems that their paths were always crossing these days. She suspected it was a mutual sabotage, neither one willing to let go of the other.

She knew he might be at Garbo's Niteclub but decided to go out anyway. She was tired of avoiding all the places he might have gone to. There weren't many places a single woman could go to have a quiet drink and dance off the day's tensions.

Besides, her friends were there. Should she give up her friendships just because he was there? It was a public place. He didn't have his name stamped in every corner the way a dog leaves his scent when staking out territory. She had just as much right to be there as he did.

She didn't want it to seem like she was avoiding him, even though she was. If she made it obvious, then he would think she was mad at him and then a confrontation would follow, and she would cry a little, making a firm resolution to never see him again. But she knew she could never keep that promise.

She had tried that one before, God knows she had tried. It was after she had lost the baby. It was probably for the best, but her arms ached to hold that baby. She wanted to put that baby in his arms and see his face often as he held his firstborn son. She often thought it was a son. She never knew. Didn't want to know. Somehow the guessing was always more satisfying.

They had tried to make a clean break of it, the moving on that would eventually need to happen, or so he said. What she hadn't counted on was falling in love with him. It was the last thing she needed. Her marriage of five years was breaking up. His being there to help her through the adjustment period, and surprise pregnancy on top of that, was more than she could handle.

No, she went into this relationship clear eyed, and in control of her feelings. Who knows why the blind Seraphim aims at random with his deadly arrows. Arrows to the heart. More like porcupine quill's. Can't pull them out. Not even with pliers. Sometimes they work their way out, emerging on the other side of pierced flesh.

When she knew she had been struck, she no longer resisted. She figured it was fate and she may as well just accept it. She certainly didn't want to be tied down just yet. She wanted to sample some freedom. All those men out there with extended cocks waiting to be tried. Nonetheless, it had happened.

Maybe she was a prime candidate not having been in love for a couple of years. Her husband and she lived together for reasons of convenience. They thought they were surviving in a tough world that require two people banded together against the common enemy.

And when there was a cease-fire, she popped her head out of the manhole and discovered there wasn't an enemy in sight. There was never an enemy out there
The enemy existed all right, it was right there in her bed, sleeping with her at night, feeding her by day. The common enemy raised its snake eye and hissed her name. She fled in terror, right into the open arms of this man sitting at the bar as she waited for her drink.

He walked over to where she was sitting. She could sense his presence and it excited her. She could feel the subtle variations in body heat the way a snake does when it is blind and in summer molt. The snake sheds his entire body including the eyes. That's why rattlesnakes are so deadly in summer. They can't see, and blindly striking anything warm.

The hostility rose up to her abdomen and lodged in her throat like a fish bone hastily swallowed – she tried to civilly answer his queries. How was she doing? And so on. She wanted him to go away, leave her alone. She knew there wasn't much chance of dancing with anyone else that night now that he had come over to her table.

Everyone always fled whenever they chanced to meet up like this. It wasn't just his physical size that made people avoid them, it was something else almost intangible, as if people sensed that that they had some unresolved business, and perhaps there was a presence of danger. Maybe they sensed the volatile nature of their relationship and thought it best to clear off.

It wasn't a case of the roving men realizing that they were no match for him, mutual friends were uncomfortable as well.

She got up to leave, and he walked her to her car. Once outside, they felt freer and breathed more easily. There wasn't that awkward sense of his hovering over her when they were inside. They walked close together, almost but not quite touching one another. They lingered at her car, talking of nothing to make time pass more slowly. Neither one was willing to say good night to the other.

He said, hey, you still owe me a massage, I'd like to collect it now if you're not too tired. Or, if you are, tomorrow morning would be fine too. She wondered did he really want to massage, or was this yet another clumsy attempt to reestablish contact? She was half angry half intrigued. It didn't occur to her to be upfront and asking precisely what he had in mind. Chances were, he would deny any interest in her, that all he wanted was a massage.

They had often spent the night together as friends. Was this the big showdown? Would you want to sleeping partner for the night, and then a quick goodbye, nice to see you in the morning? If that was the case, then he was in for a surprise because she was going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't want to fuck her.

If he laid one hand on her she was going to really let him know what a bastard he was and if he wanted to fuck her, then he was going to have to own up to the whole affair, that he did love her and if he wanted to sleep with her, then he damn well better marry her and be done with it.

She was tired of the cat and mouse roulette and she wasn't going to get sucked into making the first move because he was unable to make it himself.

Sex wasn't a deciding factor in their relationship. If it wasn't there, or so he thought, they weren't having a relationship – regardless of all the other aspects of their time spent together.

She slept in his arms, holding hands and thighs, they clung to each other the whole night long until dawn separated them from dreams and reality.

At breakfast he said, it's nice to know we can still innocently sleep together without the confusion over a relationship. She thought, yeah, we didn't fuck. Are we innocent? Who's garden are we in anyway? And who let the snake out?

No, we are not innocent, just blind and unable to help ourselves. And we keep on trying to reach each other in our own pathetic ways.

Fall 1980

Orange Cat

An orange cat ran across the road tonight. I tried to avoid him. The car stalled, a tuft of fur drifted up and caught in the light of the headlamp. Just a few days ago, I noticed the Cat Crossing sign as I drove to work, and, I thought I'd never be in a position of breach of faith. You said, "I hit an orange cat the other night too." And we talked about karma and abortion, as if the cat were the karma. Or the dogma. But we didn't really believe in that. So, tonight I hit my first cat. I felt so guilty and  sorry for the owner of that cat who would look in vain for her wayward tom. Then wondered about fate. Are we merely instrumental in the scheduled deaths of others whose time has come? Where are we in the right place at the right time for the accident to occur? Do any of us die before our time has come? What about all those people who try to ended it, and then live? Is it destined as to who will live and who will die? What about all the men and women who abort their young too soon? Is that karma of the unborn? Or are we all murderers whose time has come?

Fall 1980
added 10/16
slightly revised

Fiction class with Elizabeth Herron Fall 1980

Since I can't date most of my fiction and memoir, and it looks like I revisited some old pieces for this class, which, sadly, turned me off to fiction, I'll file them here, at the end of the year. I pretty much abandoned the prose process after taking this class and it wasn't until I established this blog that I was willing to revisit prose. 

I still have an aversion to fiction. I'm much more comfortable with memoir. I do like Elizabeth (as a poet), but I sure didn't like her class. I came away feeling like a complete failure in both poetry and prose. I'll own it, not blame others, it was all on me. My doors of perception, self-doubt, and vulnerability conspired against me. I wasn't very good at pleasing others with my work, which required a wrestling match before I got it down on paper (who knew I had dyslexia?). I guess I learned something from the class. But there's still a bitter taste in the back of the throat some 36 years later. 

The one good thing about the class was that I became fast friends with Ockly scientist/engineer Michael Fulton, who was working on a sci-fi novel. We saw each other for a few years, and kept in touch through the 1990s. Worth the price of admission. I've added most of this prose on 10/2016. It's hard not to resist fixing them.   Onward, as they say.