Friday, July 31, 1981

AT PARADISE MEADOWS


AT PARADISE MEADOWS

At the foot of Mt. Rainier
Chief Seattle sat pondering the face of the god. 
Did he know of what was to come? 

On the slopes of the mountain 
I bathe my feet in hot pools 
and wander in fields full of flowers. 
Larkspur, lupine and columbine.

These meadows were made by beavers 
felling alders to engineer the snowmelt into dams, 
this place where history seeps into my pores.

Tehama, like a breath 
the name of the mountain.
Snatches my mind away.
Circled in fog floating in a blue sky.
Underneath the mantle, the steady drip of rain 
shrouds the face of Tehema.

Across the sound, Chief Seattle, 
with his two wives following behind, 
was buried in his dugout canoe, 
in full view of the mountain.

Among the steaming pools and snowmelt 
I pick flowers on the slopes of paradise
wondering why it has to be so hard. 
The upheaval, and the price of beaver pelts,
smallpox decimating entire villages.
All that's left is the name of the mountain —
Like a breath, the name floats on the air—
Tehema, Rainier.
Tehema.

7/1981
 Port Townsend, Washington
added 10/16
minor revision/line breaks

ACROSS THE BLUE OF GLACIERS

ACROSS THE BLUE OF GLACIERS

A thin line of flowers stretches
across the blue of glaciers
Mountains meet head on
like rippling bones bleached gray

Glistening whales resurface among the ice flows
Their spume spraying great hunks of sky
Across the water  blue streaks on sparkling snow
The alcoholic snores of glaciers calving,
wraps around the heart like a blanket
as we snuggle in, summer nightfall on the tundra.

I am not a fisherman's wife
throwing back the day's catch
The snow is the color of roses,
red roses, and I dream of primordial suns.

7/1981
Port Townsend, Washington
added 10/16

Thursday, July 30, 1981

Pulsbo

Pulsbo

July 30, 1981: I'm back in Pulsbo again. An old song, an old saw set in the key of honkeytonk blues. Ten days after I said I was leaving, this inertia sets in… The feeling that I'm blowing it, but I'm trying to be clear, to be honest… The snags of human emotions are things really as complex as they seem? I keep pushing forward, thinking each time the dilemma will be the last, things will improve. Sometimes, the quagmire is right out the back door. Human interrelationships, the complex web of reason spread before me. We are each spinners of the web we weave.

7/30/1981
10/15/2015

Wednesday, July 29, 1981

FROSTBITE

FROSTBITE

The glacier rose up like a tongue
lolling out of the frigid mouth of the water
Ptarmigans, half white, half brown feathers
chuckled in the low undergrowth
of huckleberry and mountain heather.
The sun warmed us as our feet
crunched over bauchy ice and rotten snow
as we approached the summit.
A thunderbolt cracked,
stirring the thick air and our senses.
Ptarmigans dove for cover
as snowflakes covered their mottled backs.
Hypothermia begins
with a rhythmic rotation of frozen fingers.
Soon numbed cheeks cease to sting,
earlobes feel warm. And skin turns from red to blue.
White patches of creamy skin
are the first signs of frostbite.
One begins to feel the need for sleep,
such euphoric warmth, and dreams,
a jumbled series of memories
out of proper sequence, taking you further.
Soon you reconstruct your memories
to fit the shape of snowdrifts
and then you float into that warm tide
of snow, smiling.

7/29/1981
Port Townsend, WA
added 10/16

THIS KISS

THIS KISS

This maiden voyage of tongues,
Sleek suckle of cavorting seals
Undulating in kelp beds,
Capriciously nesting,
And antlered,
Rutting under the gibbous moon
Not the watery abyss
Licking shriveled toes and lips
Left too long in the bath.

7/29/81 Pt Townsend
rev. 8/81; 4/87

On the Dosewallips Trail, take 2



Stones sink into the snow leaving holes that drop down into the pack. The pack rearranges itself with a slow downhill crunching steps down from its own weight.
The roaring of last nights trees gives way to the multiple drone of today's flies. I am the only living thing around. The horse flies follow me for miles, flying a halo around me, each wanting to claim my flesh as his own.

A few clouds drift by, leaving folded shadows like black snow patches draped over the peaks. Talus slides encourage the flowers to grow in long lines downward, one plant below the other, the upper offering protection to the ones below, and the ones below offering protection in turn, and so on.

As I hike on the trail, my feet crunching on rocks slowly convert the finely shredded talus into dust.

The mountains are breathing the honey of flowers. The panorama of the Olympic Mountains becomes too beautiful for words. Soon the eyes ceases to see. I drop over the crest into the eastern rim where the starkness of The Brothers and Anderson Pass pacify my burning, too bright eye.

The vegetation too is different on this side. Taller shrubs and flowers. Also less variety. The trees are tortured trunks leaning upward into the hill for stability. Sometimes they crawl back up the slope 4 feet or more along the ground, trying to get back to where they first set root.

July 1981
added 10/16

Horseflies on the Dosewallips Trail

The roaring of last night trees gives way to the multudinous drone of today's flies.

Scattered stones sink into snow leaving holes that drop way down into the snowpack. The pack rearranges itself as it slips downward from its own weight.

I am the only living thing around. The horseflies follow me for miles, flying a halo around me, each wanting to claim my flesh as his own. To the left, the Inland Passage, the Cascades and Mount Baker, are all dreaming, tucked in a layer of marine mist.

Scattered clouds drape folded shadows of black ravens over the snowfields and peaks.

Talus slides encourage flowers to grow in long lines downward, one plant below the other, the upper plant offering protection to the ones below, and so on, all the way down the slope, in vivid color.

As I hike on the thin trail, my feet convert the finely shredded talus into dust.

The mountains are breathing the honey of flowers.

I run into another backpacker. I can't even trade my flies with him and he is sweaty and tired too.

The panorama of the Olympics is too beautiful for me to take in–soon I cease to see them. Blinded by such beauty, I become blind to it.

I drop over the crest into the eastern rim where the darkness of the Brothers and the Mount Anderson massif pacify my burning, too bright eye. I traverse up the Dosewallips River. So much to see: Grand Lakes, Moose Lake. I can't take it all in. 

I look back in order to look forward, and realize that these are the same mountains you can see from Seattle. They say Doquebatl, enraged, changed a woman into Mount Rainier and her son into Little Tahoma.

The small inhaled double chirp of the striped chipmunk is the only song in this still landscape.

July 1981
rev 10/15/2015

Oral History

The old fisherman said:

I'm originally from East Washington. Always wanted to fish. So I got myself a boat. Sold my ranch. Always wanted to see the ocean. Wanted to fish. Wanted to ocean fish.

 I wound up in a partnership. I had a gas store back in the day, those were too loose and fancy free days, i was in a partnership. That gas store, the feller paid for half of it. Then he wanted me to buy him out. I didn't, and he gave it to me.

Then one day out of the blue, I was out of business. I sold it and bought me a another boat, a cruise,r 24 feet, by golly. I fished it a year. Then I got another boat. Fished two or three more years. 

Met a fellow down in Glencove, I traded my boat in for three or four lots. Then I traded those locks for a 30 foot cruiser. I converted it into a trawler and finished eight or nine years. salmon mostly. 

Yeah, moneywise, I made a good deal. Made $2000. Good money then, by golly. I could've traded the two of those lots and had the lots and the boat yeah.

I live right on the beach now. Yeah, but that fella, he had a heart attack and died in his sleep. And his two brothers took over. They'll inherit the lots I owned, and the trailer and the boat. And damned if they didn't sell at all for hundred grand. 

To think I got it all going with that first boat that I paid $700 for, after I sold my ranch.

I felt like hell today, my wife, she went down, and maybe she'll bring me some dinner. Yeah, I fished eight or nine years for salmon. I'll be 80 next month. Doubt if I'll make it through the winter. My dog's 17 years old. He's deaf. Been that way for years. He doesn't pay much attention to my wife. Yes sir, he's a one-man dog.

7–29–81 Jefferson County Beach, Port Townsend, Washington

GIRAFFES

The giraffe

The two ffs in giraffe
are like two giraffes
running through
the word giraffe.

The two F's run
through giraffe
like two giraffes.


The butterfly

The butterfly flies up
like powder 
to a woman's face
and drifts down
like a woman's face 
into powder.


The electric eel

The electric eel slides
through the water
forming different words
as it goes
When it loops around itself
to spell the word eel
it lights up.


A sudden wind
is a Qualicum
is something  
like a sudden wind,
like a Chinook.
Qualicum.
July 29? 1981
rev 10/15/2015

SANGRE DE LUNA (poem)


SANGRE DE LUNA
Only the heart remains now...
—Eugene Ruggles

1. The water, within the foot of the ferry dock
is in full flood tide. The sand shifts,
raises like water, in syncopated rhythm.
Fish leap towards the dock light.
Its red glare rippling on the water,
floods the high ceiling of the loft,

On the beach, a senile dog
gives two barks and a howl—
like a child that's forgotten why he's crying,
but likes the way the air stings his vocal chords,
a primal sound wrapping the heart like a blanket.

The showerhead drizzles on my body.
Somewhere in this hotel, another mass of water
is flushed hack into the Sound,
and I stand soaped up like a cloud
in a dry shower waiting for the toilets to fill
and the drains to quit backing up.

A strong odor of kelp in the shower stall
and the water whispers to me
the name of a woman. Jasmina.
Her kelp hair, thick fistfuls  of it
like a prayer rug, cover her back.

2. She was in the cantina where you didn't stop off.
She  invited you in and you entered  like a demon lover.
For two dollars you drank all  the tequila you could  hold.
Balanced like a tightrope walker on a slack rope,
you swung great hunks of the sky across the room.

But I am telling you this. You wouldn't remember. 
You were never there. It was only a dream.
Jasmina, with the silvered earrings 
in the red skirt, never danced  for you.

Late in life, you decided to take up climbing trees.
The apples were as red as the roses on her skirt.
You remember the scent hung heavily in the room.
More memories flood back. A bare window 
and a door covered with an old woolen army blanket.
A gift from someone who couldn't pay.

She danced  for you.
The record player rasped its last melody.
She danced, the fire of the rhythm 
beat into the floorboards
and the dust sifted through the cracks
into the drinks of the men    
who were waiting in the barroom below.

But you were never there. It was only a dream.
You awoke in a strange hotel bed alone.
A red line running across your neck  
from your ear to your throat
and the only thing missing was your pants.

The needle hisses at the end of the record

to the alcoholic snores of an old man
yellowed spittle and hair oil on the pillow.

Outside the window, the red glare of the harbor light
offers a semblance of perpetual day, 
a primordial sun, volcanic glare, red smoke, red ash.
You thought you heard the whispering of skirts
but it was a seagull that landed on the dock.
The odor of pitch oozing from fallen trees.

3. In the Town Tavern, we bang down another beer,
watch sunlight sneak across the border into Victoria.
This gloom hangs over the peninsula 
like a shelf fungus jutting from a tree. 
Clouds cling to mountains 
rising two miles straight up from sea level.

I followed one canyon in from the ocean
deep into the heart of the mountains.
One step out would have saved me from remembering
but I was distracted by flowers growing in a crevice.

Glaciers across the continent are retreating
except the one I'm standing on front of,

it cracks and shudders like a god trying to get out.
The  only way to escape is by water—drop by drop.   

We're waiting for summer, but the night is dressed in winter.
I am not afraid of the frozen wave of the glacier,
or of its undertow of blue light.

Who is playing the strains of the guitar?
The room is encased in black velvet 
except for the red light pouring in from the docks.
Sangre de Luna. The seagulls are asleep. Sangre.
That red light  shining on the water, like blood.
Sangre. Sangre. An eclipse bleeds into the dream.
Somewhere a man cries out in his sleep for Jasmina
and the odor of tar hangs heavily in this room.

Maureen Hurley
7/29/81
Pt.Townsend, WA
from Sangre de Luna (dream)
added 10/16, revised 7/17 (David Bromige's suggestions.)

Sangre de Luna (dream)

Sangre de Luna

The cloudbank rests on the Olympics like a shelf or a tree fungus, cuts off sunlight with mist a thousand feet thick. While Victoria is in full sunlight across the Straits.The smell of the tide overpowers the odor of breakfast, it was a bargain for $0.69. I got a whole-wheat sticky bun, coffee in a Styrofoam cup, muddy coffee by Cremora.

Last night was an unusually high tide, was it the full moon? In the water, within the foot of the ferry dock, a flood tide. The sand shifts, races like the water, only in a slower syncopated rhythm. Fish leap towards the dock lights. Its red glare rippling on the water, the same lights that flooded our high ceilings.

 Under flannel sheets we snuggle. God I haven't had those since I was a kid sleeping in my grandfather's bed, in my grandmothers room painted green. When he died, I moved into that green room, and his quilt became mine. It had roses on it, I remember.

On the beach an old dog barks and howls, more like the way a child who is forgotten why he is crying, does, but likes the way air passes through his vocal chords, weaving primal sounds around the human heart. I understand his loneliness, like the way the waves understand the slant of the shore.

It's a soft Irish day. No it's a grand one. A fucking grand one. It doesn't matter which. Take your pick, they all mean the same thing in the end. This is not Ireland. My grandfather, dead these past 25 years.

The rain drizzles, the shower drizzles more rain on my body. Somewhere in the building, another mass of water is being flushed back into the sound, and I stand there soaked up like a sodden cloud in a dry shower, waiting for the toilets to fill up, and the drains to quit backing up.

There's the odor of kelp in the shower stalls, and all I can think about is a woman I made up in a dream, named Jasmina, whose red roses could almost be plucked off her skirt, and she danced to the strains of the guitar. Sangre de Luna. Her kelp hair, thick fistfulls of it, like a prayer rug down her back.

She was in the cantina where you didn't stop off. She invited you in, and you entered like a demon lover. For two dollars you drank all the tequila you could hold, balanced like a tightrope walker on a slack rope, you swing great hunks of sky across the room.

2. But I am telling you this you, you wouldn't remember, you were never there. Jasmine never was a Mexican queen with the silver earrings, in the red skirt who danced for you.

Late in life you decided to take up climbing trees. The apples were as red as the roses on her skirt. You remember the scent of apples that hung heavily in the room. Windows and doors covered with old woolen army blankets. A gift from someone who couldn't pay.

She danced for you. The old record player rasped out a melody. She danced on the fire of the rhythm that beat it's way back into the floorboards and dust seeped into the drinks in the barroom below.

No, you were never there. You woke up in bed alone, a red line running from your ear to your throat. The only thing missing was your pants.

In the next room, the hissing of a needle on the old record, the alcoholic snores of an old man. The spittle, yellowed and dry on the corners of his mouth and the three days growth on his beard contrasted with the oily black smudges on the pillow.

Outside the window, a steady red glare in the water, I am not afraid of its undertow. What if my feet should get stuck under its advancing embrace? What if I had stepped off that ridge? Or in front of the moving car stolen by this kid who ran away from yet another foster home, and the town police knew him by sight?

Only I am hearing the strains of the guitar. I am throwing back my kelp hair and dancing. I have been dancing so long, my feet no longer have shoes. of the light brings about a perpetual day.

The primordial volcanic sun viewed through red smoke and ash. You thought you heard the swish of a skirt, but a seagull lands on the dock and creosote is a kind of oil oozing up from the pores of fallen trees and great lumps of tar float in from the tankers offshore.

And in another part of town, a kid climbs an apple tree. His red shirt does not have roses embroidered on it. From the tree, he can see the ocean and the tankers anchored offshore are old US fleets sold to foreign countries for scrap. He jumps down and runs along the sand singing a song about a dancer named Jasmina.

3. In the Town Tavern you sit and drink down another American beer and see how the sunlight is shining in Victoria across the border. This weather hangs over at the Peninsula like a great shelf fungus jutting out from a tree. Only the clouds are attached to the mountains that raise nearly 8000 feet up from sea level.

Did I tell you I followed one of the canyons in from the ocean. I penetrated deep into the heart of the mountains. At the pass, I turned towards the ridge. A spine of land, and I stood a long time looking down at 2000 feet drop.

On three sides, one step out could've saved me. But I was distracted by the color of flowers growing in a crag, that the mountain goats, for some reason, avoided. There were alpine roses in full bloom, like the ones growing in the Swiss Alps that summer nine years before.

The glacier is retreating. All glaciers over all the continents are retreating, except the one I stood in front of, the Columbia glacier, and I listened to it crack and shudder like some great God trying to get out. His only method of escape was by water, drop by drop. It was as if he waited for summer, a day warm enough, to melt ice, but ot always brought the chill.

I placed my hand on the edge of that dirty blue tongue but could feel no sensation in my fingers, it was more of a burn and ice. My fingers went into my mouth instinctively, like a child.

I am not afraid of the frozen wave of this glacier, or its undertow. What if my feet should get stuck under its advancing embrace? What if I had stepped out off that ridge? Or in front of the moving car, stolen by the kid who ran away from yet another foster home, and the police knew him by sight.

Only I am hearing the strains of the guitar playing. I am throwing back my kelp hair and I am dancing. I have been dancing so long my feet no longer have shoes.

I walked 17 miles in one day just to get out of that valley and away from that cliff. I am barefoot, my calves are swollen. Who is playing the guitar? The room is dark except the red light coming in from the docks. Sangre de Luna. I hear the swishing of skirts. This seagulls are asleep. That red light shining on the water. Sangre. Sangre. Somewhere a man cries out in his sleep the name of Jasmna. The scent of apples hangs heavily in this room.
Port Townsend
7/29/1981

missing final prose hardcopy so it has typos. Needs revision.
See also  SANGRE DE LUNA (poem)
added 12/16

Sunday, July 26, 1981

The Woman in Question: A Story


This is a story, someone else's story, not told quite right, almost not told at all, about a man who forgot and what happened because he forgot to remember. It could be a story about the trickster coyote, or it could be the man next door, but most likely it is about your ex-lover whom you never quite forgave and never quite forgot either. However, this is not an essential element of the story. There are no parables, no great hidden truths. But I can't convince you, your opinions are your own. There is always the possibility of meaning derived from the most thinly veiled of stories. This is a story about a man who thought really there was nothing he kept hidden from himself. Like some great body of truth. And of a woman, for no good reason, loved this man. This story is not about the woman who never quite recovered her heart, but of the man who owned his own heart so thoroughly, he knew what he was about. Once upon a time there was a man. What did he forget? Besides the fairytale. He said he never loved the woman and yet he couldn't stop touching her. This went on for years, just touching without feeling. And he said he never loved. Her. An anorexic parable of plenitude denied.

July 1981

Saturday, July 25, 1981

SEA URCHINS


Sea urchins, with mouths like Diogenes lanterns.
River otters swim facedown and eat on land.
Sea otters swim on their backs and eat on water
using their chests as tables, they're
madly hammering clams with rocks.
I think of this same stretch of ocean
up and down this coast—from Baja
to the Bering Sea, ah yes, teaching me
of the return, the return. Prodigal.


7/25/1981
Pt. Townsend, WA
added 9/15

Port Townsend journal, Michael Daley

7/25 it has taken me three days like Christ to come home. The transcendence into pain, self-pity, thoughts of suicide, quitting teaching poetry, quitting organizing readings, putting my past – all is an act of self pity.

Galway Kinnell said that and Sexton indulged in the ultimate form of self pity, selfless suicide. I have been sulking, I've been pouting inward, no lower lip projecting anymore. No longer acceptable.

Waves of sorrow are flooding the rock strewn beach. My heart unwinds itself like a snail poking its antennae out to see if the coast is clear.

The clouds paint an illusion of color over Mount Baker and is smaller twin poking out of the marine layer of mist, whether the cloud are real, no matter. It exists behind those islands, floating on the water.

Galway says to me: you can't quit writing, ever. Not the way a dog quits killing chickens when the carcass is tied to its neck till it rots.

I wanted to hang my heart around my neck. Proclaim myself smarter, saying I cannot love again.

My wounds run open with black blood deep inside my heart lies, my heart lies. The day and not days and nights of poems yet to come.

The clouds of Mount Baker are expanding back into cloud. The smoke has subsided.

The true skin of writing never buries itself moisture like under the waves of sorrow.

The mountains and the curves of land are breasts of the earth. The clouds milky teeth white breast in the air and sky. And while I sit on Michael Daly's porch, contemplating dusk, I wait for time to pass. I evaluate the sunset. I saluted the sunset yesterday with a bottle of California wine, drinking little sips from the stems of grapes before the harvest, calling me home.

Michael Daley founded a literaty journal, Dalmo‘ma

The sun reminds me that it rises again just as surely as it sets, like the low hum of the well oiled machinery the ships on the Straits of San Juan de Fuca interrupt the whispering of waves along the island shore. I've spent so little time writing. I do not offer my craft a place to sail. I'm learning to sit study and listen.

Michael confesses he was an altar boy, but his face darkens. He escaped the seminary after studying to be a priest. He carries the wrath within still. Our common thread, we're all poets teaching in the schools. All, on the outside, looking in. Poet fugitives.

Last night, I swung the double headed axe, splitting wood to earn my keep. Michael thinks I'm a lightweight. I resent it. The kindling flies off into the bush. I glare at him. He shrugs, re-evaluates, and smiles at me beatifically. Breaks the silence with his broad Boston Irish vowels.

I'm striking at the anger off my bones the previous night, the news of losing both my lover and my friend. My lover and my friend have found something to ease their souls and my burden becomes weighted doublefold and that axe is unsteady at first, becomes sure, the pile of kindling grows exponentially from out of nothing.

Michael resents my presence. He is like a jealous god. Doesn't want to share Sharon. Last night I heard them whispering. I lumber off to sleep in the backseat of the VW bug. He says to stay another night. He doesn't know I overheard what he said. Where will I go?

I have exercised hard, I have stretched and used muscles. I have poured new oxygen into my blood, the tissues and my heart are becoming fine-tuned as I run through the pineleaf forest. Sharon says you must listen to your heart.  You must write about it no matter what. I am learning the readiness of lung and leg as I take the time to stop and eat the thimbleberries and the blackberries. But my tongue awakens to acidic fruit, rotting before it is ripened.

Sharon Doubiago

7/24-25/1981
Pt. Townsend, WA
added 9/15

See True Writing, another version of 7/25 entry

Dream Sequence journal

7/24  dream sequence

Didn't sleep till 4 AM. Thought of Lee and Mora together until it drove me frantic with rage and I was saturated with sweat. When I finally did sleep the dreams that came forth were bizarre.

I was given a rare mouse with purple fur. I had to transport it to the other end of the school corridor where some lockers were. I got on someone's case for having my key to the locker. She was using it for too far too much. 

And I was also dragging this heavy lamp base and stand with my left hand. No one would help me. It caught on a crack and struck me. My hand was wet. I looked down at the blood, feeling no injury. 

The mouse was on the pavement facedown. Death twitches, its right side eviscerated, and from his stomach, protrusion, like a clam foot, he was struggling for life. I thought for a moment he could be saved by a few stitches but I realized he was too badly injured. The mouse, other than it's purple, and cuddly, didn't mean that much to me. That I had gotten attached to it.

While walking down the corridor I wondered what shall I do with it? Kill it myself? Finish suffering? I, who it accidentally inflicted it all upon this mouse? From under a sweater crawled a white cat who immediately grasped the situation and started to eat the mouse before it fully died.

7/24-25/1981
Pt. Townsend, WA
added 9/15

See True Writing, another version of 7/25 entry

SONG OF THE PRAIRIE

SONG OF THE PRAIRIE
         —for Meridel LeSueur & Sharon Doubiago

The mindful trust of this body is held
in the blind spots of the eye; a memory
of the prairie where Crazy Horse last
stood. Flowers grow naked on the graves
of those whose blood nourished the soil
a hundred years after the last buffalo
robe rotted into dust. The circling
sparrowhawk encompasses the souls
of those who were lost in anger, hatred, 
and in feat. A song of sorrow for those 
who walk alone.
July, 1981
Port Townsend, WA
The Child in the Bell, CPITS Statewide Anthology, 1981-82

Friday, July 24, 1981

True Writing


1. The clouds of Mt. Baker and its smaller twin poke out of the marine layer of mist. Whether cloud, or real, no matter. It exists behind those islands floating on the water. Galway says, "you can't quit writing, ever. Not like the way a dog quits killing chickens when the carcass is tied to his neck until it rots."

The lenticular clouds of Mt. Baker expand and contract into cumulous shapes. The true skin of writing never buries itself oyster-like under the waves of sorrow. The mountains and the curve of the land nourish the horizon of the sky, and, the milk teeth of clouds sink into the air.

Like the low-oiled hum of machinery,  the sound of ships on the Straits of San Juan de Fuca interrupt the waves of sorrow, and, the whispering of the inland waves tells me that I've spent too little time writing, denying my dubious craft. I am learning to sit steadily laden with words, waiting for wind, to set sail.

2. Last night I swung the double-headed ax, striking at the anger in my bones. The axe swung unsteadily at first, became sure-bitted, and I find my rhythm, swinging the singing blade that bites the smooth inner grain of gleaming heartwood. Stacking wood for long winter nights.

My  lover, and a friend have found a way to ease the ticking of clocks, and a way to outwit the silent whitewashed walls standing in evening shadow, I wanted to hang my heart around my neck and let the open wounds run into the streets with the black blood of the sewers. Deep inside is where the days and nights of poems lie like sleeping dogs.

I imagine waves of sorrow flooding the cobbled beach of the Sound, and my heart is tucking itself in like a snail, afraid to poke wayward antennae into the air. Stasis. The shell of home, a prison.

Climbing the mountains, I have labored long, stretch unused muscle, sucked new air into my lungs. I am learning the readiness of lung and leg. As I stop to browse on thimbleberries and wild cherries, my tongue puckers to the strange acidic tang of fruit, rotted before it's had a chance to ripen. Like my writing.

At the end of my journey, I sit on the beach at sunset with a bottle of California wine, taking in the secret green heart of grapes before the harvest, this lifetime vow of words, a rare vintage calling me home.

7/24/1981
Pt. Townsend, WA
added & revised 10/16

Thursday, July 23, 1981

DEATH WISH


I make contingency plans 
for multiple suicides.
I envision my body dead, 
found floating in the surf 
weightless in the buoyancy of water. 
The first gulp of water into the lungs, 
and the retching stomach rejecting salt waters. 
I envision my body dead, 
thrown from a cliff, like a soaring bird. 
The impact twists the limbs,
flesh impaled by splintered bone. 
I envision my body dead.
 A vein, a tiny nick the royal purple color 
bathing a white towel 
followed by a ringing in the ears 
and a lightheadedness
I envision my body but i remember
my mother swallowed pills by the handfuls.
The beginning of the end 
first felt in the hand, then
the fingertips, and numbness 
that spreads up the arm 
until it reaches the heart
My body, the mind seduces, 
offers final solution, 
and escape from the pain.
I make plans for multiple suicide 
never tried, but I want to be ther.
I want to watch 
as I'm dragged out of the ocean, 
off the cliff, 
from the house, 
to see if something registers in his eyes.
But I am afraid of death. I am a coward.
I just want escape from this pain. Not death.
Waking up at night sometimes I think 
I am dying, or am already dead. 
The irreversible tingling starts 
in my fingers and travels up 
my hands and my forearms. 
I tried to stop it, throw 
the deadman's arm out of bed,
before it reaches my upper arm.
It is so close from there to the heart.

7/22? 1981
rev 10/15/2015

Wednesday, July 22, 1981

LETTER FOM HOME

As I draw in a breath,
the pain hits me in the small of the back, 
reminds me as I clean my nails, a letter received,
my lover, and my friend together. 
I cancel my flight home, tell him too much pain.
Need to absorb. Sponge like, my sinuses swell 
and drip replacing shed tears.

Body occupied. Seeming indifference. 
I think, it's a joke they're playing on me. 
I will go home and they'll greet me. 
I read about the mushroom cloud. 
I slam my fist into walls. I doze. 
I cough, the crying comes later. 

Quickly I spread like fire 
from no anger to anger 
then back again to no anger. 
What is this seeming indifference? 
Laws between waves.

The shore below the house, such clear water.
I need the island. Protection Island. Discovery Bay.
Funny how much skin is shed from beneath the cuticle
Dead, it doesn't seem to want to let go.
And I play back old love scenes.
And plans of disappearing acts
Where I'll go, how I'll survive.

Fear of isolation. 
Plans of multiple suicide my body dead, 
as I watch them receive the news.
Self banishment from our intertwined lives.

Visions of a huge sea urchin waving its purple thorns.
I crawl toward it and in the center, 
a shaft, milky white pointing up to the water to the sky. 
The thought of their bodies touching. 
Headless pulsating 
knife in hand I want to sneak in and watch. 
My eyes throwing poison like basilisks to walk on the water.

My body becoming becomes a deep chasm 
and a fan light shell is raising, 
growing outward from the lips 
from the shores of my body
I want to tell him, try and track me down like the Hunter, 
and I will snarl and throw bowls of soup at him. 
I will not yield again. 
This soft mouth has tried 
to coax wholeness out of incomplete shards. 
These hands have tried smoothness on the sand 
where only a rocky shore lies. 

This body has tried to nurture and to heal
With its touch, this body has clung to life, 
never wanting to let go of the dream. 
Now the vacuous heart buries membrane. 
This body wants homelessness, 
and seeks it in an impartial landscape 
of rocky shores, desert sands.

Thin cloud stretched across the sky 
like material played between two hands. 
Whispering pine needles. 
How will my chin raise itself again and it shame? 
Are the resurrections of the heart in dusty hollows,
not shores of blue, gray, and mudstone? 
Where does the last shaft of light come from? 
Where does it go in its final hour?

7/22/81

Jack Cady


Jack Cady drawls in pure Kentuckian, you cain't publish good fiction in Redbook. He calls it rubber-stamped commercial fantasy. Jack is a master of the short story. Jack said that fiction uses exterior focal points to slow down the action, to focus beyond the action – using adjectives to describe actions. Inferential use of exterior or surrounding action to describe gory detail.

He's working on a novel. I can't imagine writing a novel. I have no sustained sense of story. Jack looks like the old man and the sea. Pure Melville. He is haunted by ghosts. Maybe Moby Dick haunts his dreams.

Jack mentions May Sarton's portrayal of old people, and the development of characters. Says, see The Dollmaker by Harriet Arnow. A poor family from Kentucky, moved to Detroit, the promise of a better life. Written in unadorned, powerful prose. He says you must also read Joseph Conrad's novella, The Nigger of the Narcissus (The Children of the Sea). An allegorical tale of the sea.

Jack says, Seek empathy, watch out for imitation, for cheapness. When you write in cliché, they are symbols—not human or dehumanization. As writers we gotta fight back by being not just good, but by being the best. Don't be mediocre and trade one form of garbage for another, he says.

July? 1981
10/15/2015
not sure what this is about, or from, did I attend Centrum lectures? Probably met him at the Town Tavern too.

Writers at Centrum, Fort Worden, Port Townsend. Mid July (17-25)
1981 
Margaret Atwood, Robert Haas, William Matthews, Sam Hamill, Tree Swenson, Leslie Marmon Silko, William Stafford, Jack Cady, Jane Yolen.
1980
Galway Kinnell, Meridel LeSueur, Richard Shelton, Ann Standork, James Bertolino, Madeline DeFrees, Donald Hall, Sam Hamill, Bill Ransom, Lisel Mueller, Bill Knott

Friday, July 10, 1981

THE CLFFS OF MARROWSTONE ISLAND

THE CLFFS OF MARROWSTONE ISLAND
       —for Michael Daley, and for Kathleene West

In the air, the overbearing odor of salt tang
hangs over the bleached gray logs in the sand.
A breeze stirs the water on the empty cove.
The watered silk patterns embroidered with bull kelp
bobbing like the heads of otters.

A breeze stirs the water on the cove
the mast of a sailboat pierces the gray sky.
Mount Baker rests against the shrouded sky.
White T-shirts on young boys,
their muscles rippling like water.

The Cascades and Coast Mountains meet head on,
collide, and form into islands.
The Cliffs of Marrowstone Island rise up
like the sides of beached whales.
Indians are carving totem poles once again.

Argillite frogs with discrete price tags
bark out place names,
Dosewallips, Sequim, Sequim.

A diver walks down to the water
to throw back the day's catch.
Seagulls quarreling like old men
dive for the returned fish.
Bull kelp is rotting in the cove.

A tired poet friend said to me
I am a fisherman's wife.
I am the wife of a fisherman waiting at home.
I have taken up knitting.
I am tired of writing.

A breeze ripples the silken waters on the cove.
I met a man whose real name was Don John
or John Don. Either way, he writes.
He is a ghostwriter.

A patch of blue opens up like an eye.
The sky imitates the blue of glaciers
and the hidden eyes of the north people.

The sea is so quiet.
No tongues lapping at the shore.
These are the Straits of San Juan de Fuca.
If I sleep here on the beach tonight,
 will the water know the coast is but a thin line?

7/10/1981
Port Townsend, Washington
added 10/16
slight revision/line breaks

Wednesday, July 8, 1981

Why I am Writing


Why I am writing

It must be rolling off the boat from side to side and the people, determined, arms clamped at their sides, walking deliberately forward, five steps to the left, five steps to the right, sometimes colliding with ship's furniture, always managing to pursue their destination as the swells rock the ship.

Maybe it's the thought of heading into a country where the mail is on strike and there isn't any means of communication that appeals.

I watch a beautiful woman, physically stunning, told at a young age that the turn of men's heads was meant for her, but her eyes are fishlike, cancer eyes. There is death in her eyes, those half-lidded mouths never smile – their blue chill has spread to her viscera, and the marrow of her bones freezes.

Someone said that Port Townsend is the clitoris of the Olympic Peninsula. The M. V. Coho cuts a large swath – a seam in the watered silk itself that spreads from Port Angeles to Victoria, B. C. After a rain, the only clear patch of sky is located directly overhead, and the moon glows like a cat's high. Five steps forward, and five steps to the left, the body obeys the surges and swirls of the sea.

A friend of mine is kayaking from Seattle to Juneau. He called from a payphone in Ketchikan. Last time we heard from him, was a postcard saying his kayak needed mending. He hopes for patches will hold. After being so close to the sea for so long, he becomes depressed when he's away from it for more than a few hours, and he doesn't want to come home. I know that feeling.

In the seat behind me, a man is teaching his young sons how to navigate by the flashing beacon lights. To the west, the light flashes at 10 second intervals, and the one to the north, at two second intervals. Swells rock the ship. The inland passage is unprotected here. Breakers roll in from Japan carrying glass fishing floats across the Pacific.

A group of men sitting across from me, scruffy, the boys in the process of imprinting – a rough society of males looking insolently about. As they were engaged in conversation I detected an accent slightly German and my opinion of them changed. It's funny, what will forgive in foreigners that we won't forgive in natives.

As we pulled into port, reflections of the Houses of Parliament parliament are lit up like Disneyland, and  their reflection is distorted by our way by our wake.

7/8/1981?

This was a previously typed version I had found. Not from my raw notes like Parkville
added 10/16

Parksville, BC

July 8, 1981 on the MV Coco headed to Victoria again, a six-hour wait to get on the ferry.

The MV Coho cuts a swath, watered silk spread from Port Angeles to Victoria BC. After rain, the only clear patches are directly overhead. The half moon glows like a cat's eye in the dark.

The ferry pitches, I dance down five steps forward, then five steps to the left. The body obeys the surges of the ocean and the swells keep us stepping in time.

I contemplate moving here. In winter it gets dark at 3:30 PM, dawn's at 7:45 AM. Winter must be dreary. 

In Parksville, a woman in her late 30s, who has lived here most of her adult life, is wearing red suede cowboy boots, tight jeans, and off-white sweater, neckscarf. She pulls out a unicorn puppet as the ferry pulls into port. The Houses of Parliament are lit up like Disneyland.

She tells me there's a home for retarded people in Parksville. They let them loose here. It's wonderful. Phil was named Mr. Parksville. Phil came over the other day like a tornado, screaming hello! He runs around town like Santa saying hello, you take care now. Hello!

He strides through town, he helps little kids with bikes, nodding his head so hard that his glasses fall off. He walks 10 miles a day. He went to Disneyland and forgot to stride. And lost his mind.

He changes the light bulbs at the Island hotel, he is employed. He always comes around and asks: do you need any lightbulbs changed? And the manager usually find some that need changing. Once a week he comes, and every week lightbulbs change. Sounds like a lightbulb joke, but it's not. 

Monday, July 6, 1981

Vancouver, BC

I've been three days in Vancouver, but I didn't want to write a thing. Today hiking on trails around Grouse Mountain, my depression lifted. A grouse boomed. I called back, he answered and so on.

Depression is caused by barometrical variances someone said. I take to the mountain trails with a vengeance.


At the Literary Storefront, in Vancouver, my poetry teacher David Bromage reads Wang Chao stories, and my homesickness left for California on the Gray Rabbit. The loft is hot as blazes, the sunset lingers forever, fiery throat of night.

Afterwards, we slipped oysters down at Leo's Seafood. There were three of us who were brave enough. Cecelia, David, and I. Margaret Atwood just shuddered. Terry, the coordinator shuddered too. David's son Christopher passes. 

Cecelia and David are newly married. Oysters are an aphrodisiac. They're hairy. It's all that bearded clam stuff, or was it hammy business. They have each other while I was invited to Terry's place to spend the night. I do need a place to crash.

So Terry runs the Vancouver readings and I run readings in Sonoma, and so we have a lot in common. However, I only met him three hours ago. God knows, maybe he's waiting for me to come onto the oysters or, or ersters as David said.

How do I know they don't have red tide here? What is that stuff sprinkled on top? Celia says it's paprika. God, she just slips them down whole, doesn't even chew them. Must have had years of practice. Maybe that's how she got more than one husband.

I remembered how Lee said she had the kind of mouth a man wants to slip a cock into. I was shocked by his candor. I couldn't keep my eyes off her mouth all night. It's always open. She has such a petite, sweet face and big boobs. She looks like she could be Christopher's kids sister and he's only seventeen and 6 foot five. David, Celia, and Chris – they all look related in a stylish fashion.

It was good to hear Lee's voice on the telephone and that Sonoma County hasn't burned down in my absence. It's wildfire season. For $2.30 a minute Lee told me in a lengthy fashion about how he quit  working on his book, and I billed this call to my home phone. Astronomical.


On the trails of Grouse Mountain I saw crooked trees growing in graceful J curves on the hillside. Ken says that when the trees move down the steep slopes, they always right themselves, growing up in a straightforward fashion—imagine trees moving like that.

Alan is now in Ketchikan, that's Pam's brother. I guess the patches on his kayak are holding. He calls Pam from a payphone. Won't be in Juneau until July 12 or so he says, and he still doesn't know I have his car. Pam tells me much later he was sweet on me. Of course I was the last to know.

Pam got a job as a waitress in Juneau. The pay's lousy. They won't let her keep the tips either. At home she'd be making much more on tips than six dollars an hour. She is completely broke. 

She supposed to be back in Sonoma by July 15 to discuss her future school plans with her husband Rick. I don't see how she does it, traveling with her lover of three years, Michael, and Rick back home making movies God knows where. Atlanta? Before he goes to Europe. 

Maybe she's talking like she actually wants to cut Rick out of her life completely. Her emotions contract and expand like a red rubber band. After three years, this is the most serious she sounded in a long time.

7/81


Wednesday, July 1, 1981

Puget Sound



I'm sailing in the Puget Sound with Ken and David Haugen. We caught a small king salmon right off Squamish, near where Chief Seattle is buried. We baked the small offering on a wood burning stove on the boat. Three ducks, hopeful mallards followed us for a while as we piloted in towards the harbor.

Ken told me about the rhinoceros auklets, how they can swim with their wings underwater and herd the herring as if they were cattle. Like puffins, they look like cigars flying through the sky, they swim better than they fly. They're the cowboys of the sea. 

Ken lives aboard his boat dock Q, birth 36. I am filled with an inconsolable longing and inexplicable grief.

PORCUPINES


Galway says porcupines will consume
almost anything the human hand touches
Table legs, axe handles, toilet seats.
In my heart a slumbering porcupine is stirring.
Was it the shape of my breast under the loose shirt,
his hands slipping in and leaving traces of salt behind?
Words pierce the flesh. Will work their way in
to the heartwood? Salt in the wound.
A porcupine awakens slowly in winter.

1981

PINE BOUGHS


Tips of pine boughs sway in the breeze
Viewed through slumped glass
they look like a lazy summer stream.

Are those shapes gray lakes
Resting on the green light
Or are they islands adrift on a green sea?

These mountains
absorb sound
And emit silence.

The rhythm is not regular
It comes
Running out of the bushes
Like Rin Tin Tin
Looking for the Lone Ranger
On the way to a mugging.

Julyish 1981