Monday, August 31, 1981

POEM TO THE MAN NEXT DOOR

POEM TO THE MAN NEXT DOOR

Newly divorced, you sit inside
listening to country and western.
The cabin, smaller than life.
Your possessions spill out the door,
And your wife comes to visit with the kids.
You thought about having the two,
maybe three kids with you,
but something came up.
Maybe it was the trailer
and the old truck you like to take fishing,
or the motorcycle,
or maybe it was the job that stopped you.
Newly impoverished,
you wear your genitals on your heart,
hoping someone will notice.
And the dog peed on the tires
of one of your lovers
the next morning.
When the toaster oven dings
you consider answering the phone.
But the game on TV
is winding down to a conclusion.

8/1981
10/15/2015

I thought that I typed this poem up before, here's the original hand-written copy from Port Townsend, so that definitively dates it; this is an original draft, the final poem probably had different line breaks, and revisions, so this is a placeholder until I find my old work.

Mo, Self portrait (drawing)

This is a  halftone screen of a drawing. It doesn't capture the detail of the original. I don't know where the original is, or if it survived the floods.




Saturday, August 22, 1981

MORNING AFTER



MORNING AFTER

The last Czechoslovakian stemmed glass
a guilty reminder on the drainboard,
its mate shattered as I washed it.
How many times have I left them on the table
from the evening before

and if you came over for morning coffee,
you'd notice they were a matched pair.
Now, I can't have anyone over for dinner
because they might bring wine.

For days I've been thinking
it would be so easy;
a slip of the hand
too close to the faucet head
would shatter those matched orbs
staring accusingly at me.

The thin fluted stem
and curved shards of glass
like wings of fragile birds
nestle, flightless in my hand.

8/22/1981
rev 82, 85

Sunday, August 16, 1981

THE EYE, INNOCENT OF THOUGHT

THE EYE, INNOCENT OF THOUGHT
      Where are your eyes?
      Vision slit through skin
      Plump as a ripe berry
      Slow as  quartz.
       —Susan Suntree

After 10 years, the road under the reservoir
is still visible in summer.
The edges of the road are slowly diffusing,
Its edges the same age as the lake bed and the shore.
The old cement bridge where the creek ran is underwater.
The road only offers a departure point into the lake.
Ten years measures a cycle of madness.

Boarded up windows
are like the white eyes of the blind.
The peeling mirror in the hayloft door is blocking the light.
It throws back to the sky an image of itself
framed by the liquid green of out leaves.
Behind the mirror, the cobwebs gather dust in solitude.
Through a light shaft, dust motes drift on air currents.

I've noticed how the eyes of calves
are like twin pools of murky light
surrounded by a shore of retina and vein.

Last night my stomach forced a tidal wave back down.
This morning I had to reason my nausea into being.
I read your poems, could feel the finger behind the ey,.
The finger in the eye socket finding
Not water but a boneless desert,
An arrid fold of brain.
There is nothing to punish there.
The eye was innocent of thought.

Sweet, the cycles of rain follow the footpaths of seasons.
Count them, the cycles of madness.
I hear the rain singing in the manner of the beasts,
Yet I am wholly human and, I can hear the singing of rain.
The sound reserved for the ears of beasts.

What separates this wretched tangle
of human flesh and bone from that of beasts?
Those liquid-eyed calves imprisoned in cages
So their flesh will stay succulent and tender
suckle my finger, the urge to nurse strong in ones so young,
Their petal tongues caress the index finger
And they know, somehow they know it is wrong.

In their eyes I can see the fish-lens reflections
Of myself and the summer sky.
Every action demands an equal.
Lying in the moldy hay inside the barn
are the mummified carcasses
Of these born too young,
Of those whose mothers could labor no more.
The breech-birth breath hangs heavily in the air.
Their choice was made for them.

It is difficult to learn how to forgive
what we have done
And pity is also self-inflicted.

I am not a sailor.
These islands hold no water.
The eye is a cistern in the arrid toneless plain.
A repository for madness,
the eye, innocent of thought.

8/16/1981



Monday, August 10, 1981

On the Road to Tofino

On the Road to Tofino

She's the girlfriend
of an old boyfriend of mine
Men kissing women
Women like glass jars
half full of wild grains
Tongues of men
entering the mouths of women
Small tongues like cocks
too small for vaginas
Enter loosely into the center of women
Enter and the bitter grain
covers their tongues
Grain they cannot eat or digest
Women lie buried in the earth
and are covered with greenhouses
Greenhouses to grow babies
One, sometimes two greenhouses
When men enter their women
You can see the rich earth moving
covered with fine rich crumbs
When a man comes, the earth is
shoved up through the navel
into the greenhouses of women.


(not sure what this is about...as I'm typing it up in 2015,  I've forgotten the gist of it, other than the title has haunted me for nearly thirty years. But I do know I got a Dear John letter from Lee while I was up north on Vancouver Island. He was seeing Mimi Wheatwind. I felt so betrayed.
Of course I dated none of these poems, but it was a surprise to find them.

Wednesday, August 5, 1981

Port Townsend


This town, once the biggest port outside of New York in the 1890s, is where the Chinese had carved tunnels under the streets, some tunnels are still standing. Dock Street is gone now, Water Street is the main drag.

They had to call it uptown because the uppity ladies wouldn't shop here. Water Street, where the red light is now, is for the ferry traffic.

Across from the Town Tavern, is a building the old guy inherited on the condition that he improve it, but he was caught tunneling under Water Street. Some say he was headed for the bank. No one really knows for sure. The city fathers were upset when one day Water Street caved in right in front of his building.

The year before last, he had boarded up all the windows, and before that, all the metal Victorian cornices were taken off. This year, he's unboarding a few of the windows and is painting the sashes blue. Like the sky.

This town, once a whore's town, is now a literary town. All the poets are well read. It's still a whore's town. There are red lights shining on the streets at night and, after dark, the literary whores flood the streets like migrant workers in a tent city.

Tourists and Winnebagos with California license plates cautiously drive through town to the ferry dock. They come into the Town Tavern looking for something harder than the soft liquor license allows. And we stare at their improbable attire, women wearings nylons with shorts, and men in perma-press suits. All the old hippies here are working as bartenders, and caretakers. it's all a juggling act.

I keep coming back to this town like a bad penny. A friend of mine, Sharon Doubiago, moved here to escape a broken heart. Little do I know, that this year, my heart will be in the same repair shop. Hearts are not made of porcelain, but of grist and sinew and blood.

There's that poignant moment of initiation. We all recognize the place where broken hearts either mend, or evolve into some other plane.

Whore hearts, we're all whores with hearts of gold, the wrong color for blood. Gold, the correct color for lizard blood. As we sniff out the color-coded hearts of those around us, our lizard eyes narrow, we taste the air with our forked tongues, and we retreat into reptilian silence.

Tourists pour into the Town Tavern. You can tell what time of day it is by the number of disembarked people at the bar. Like the ebb and flow of waves, the oak and glass double-doors swing to and fro, as the tourist surging in from the ferry, feel the need to slake their great thirst.

The man I am having an affair with is having trouble finding the bedroom where he last left his heart. He thinks his capacity for love is greatly influenced by his capacity for pain. I'm a transient blow-in. There's the bond that ties us all together, here in this town of whores. Down at the bar, we paint it red.

August, 1981

Monday, August 3, 1981

WHIDBY ISLAND


The bloodless limit of the red tide reaches me, in the mountains.
I'm waiting for sickness to come after eating oysters and clams. 
The seaweed bobs like the heads of otters  in the inlet. 
Dizzy, the next day my fingers grown numb. 
Such a clear day. Hurricane Ridge in perfect sunlight. 
Not such a good day to die after all.

Mountain goat fur caught on some brush 
and hillside so steep you could step out one foot and 
land a hundred feet below. 
The Mountain goats and the two kids lying down 
are white on white snowfields
The kids, white against a white sky 
white T-shirts of young boys 
the bleached bones of logs in sand. 

The mast of the sailboat pierces the gray sky. 
Whidby Island cliffs, like the sides of beached whales. 

Whidby Island. The odor of salt tang in the air 
the almost overbearing odor.
A seagull cruises overhead
Red light/white light revolves 
on a red roof and white lighthouse.
Red of firebird rocks
Another seagull tackles the kelp

while I wait for symptoms of red tide.
The Cascades and the Coast Mountains 
meet head-on and collided into islands.
Kitsat Peninsula and the Gitsat Indians.

Once I went to K'san.
Old Terrace, Middle Terrace, Terrace and Kasan are all the same place. Gitsat Indians are becoming carvers of tolem polls once again. Argellite frogs with discrete price tags bark out place names: Puyallup, Dosewallops, Sequim Squim.
A diver walked down to the water throwing back the days catch. Segulls surround him like old men.

A tired poet friend of mine says to me three times 
I am just a fisherman's wife living in Port Townsend
I am a fisherman's wife.
I am the wife of a fisherman, 
waiting at home. 
I am tired of writing.

A slight breeze stirs the water in the cove, rippling water like watered silk. My neck hurts from an old whiplash.

For your body, I need Mr. Badger, the skeleton maker, to help me.
Thank you Leslie Silko, thank you Mr. Badger
I'm a writer's ghost writing nothing because I'm not writing poetry.

The wings push mostly downward when the blackbird flies across the sky.

I met a man whose real name was Don John or John Don. Either way he writes a patch of blue opening up like an eye.

The sky imitates the blue of glaciers and blue hidden eyes of the north snow people

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

Argillite frogs with discrete price tags 
bark out place names: Puyallop,
Dosewallops, Squim, Sequim.

Bill Stafford's hat is soft like the slack corners of his mouth. From the brim a feather trembles, loosened from a bird years ago. The eyes reflect the talons still. Like me, Bill worked with kids in schools. PITS. Says there's more material for kids to write with in poetry than structured prose he said.

Waves of horses butcher your dreams. Marina Albert says. 

Language there's a secret language hidden within the language, the effect of syllables upon us.

The tribal influence would be the door
Among those who know. Not a chance to change is evident.

july? Aug 1981
10/15/2015
I can't make out most of the craft notes, and they're scattered in amid the prose. It reads like nonsense. Can't even read most of it. Maybe I'll revise it, whip it into shape. Or not.

Short haiku of sorts


I awaken in a glass house, 
the Straits blend into fog, 
the horizon, indistinct as this morning.

Two payphones in the basement. 
People wait to make long-distance calls. 
Slot machines collect change at the end of the line.

Evening sky the color of salmonberries
A dull grain sheen on the water 
an unseasonable hue.

Volkswagen engine valves clatter. 
House finches nesting in the eaves
rearrange themselves and chatter.

The face of the glacier gave way 
and 11 people died on Mt. Rainier.
Yet it floats, sublime, at dawn.

July? 1981

Port Alberni


Port Alberni, Vancouver Island – I overdrove my mark, a hitchhiker said she knew where I wanted to go, and we missed our turnoff, so I'm staying with her in a strange house.

The moon is a rusted silver crescent hanging below Venus. Mountains fringe this place like shards of glass. Montgomery School Principal, Ken Lytle used to live here years ago, when he was a boy. The hills around Cazadero's Montgomery School are much like this place.

It is 50 miles away to Uclulet by water, it means safeharbor. Or, just water. A Nootka word. You ride the mail boat to get there – it's an eight hour trip. Uclulet looks like Point Reyes. I watch the same ocean here, as I would at home.

Ken Lytle spent some time in Port Alberni as a kid and hated it. Port Alberni, Dante's Inferno of the Northwest surrounded by snowcapped mountains. It has a fjord that goes 50 miles to the Pacific, it's a mile wide and an mile deep, the brown oily water from the pulp mill, like flotsam. Paper pulp loosing from ships floats out to sea. The fish leaping to the surface for air, ground from the pulpmill when it rains, it is an acid rain. Hell.


I'm staying with friends in a log cabin in Parksville. Pete Lang's wife Sarah teaches me to belly dance. Downstep, thrust, downstep, thrust. Work down into the floor, not up into the sky. The outhouse has a blue plastic sky. Sharon stepped on a slug barefoot.

A friend of mine, Ken once threw a slug at his wife. And when I washed my jeans a slug was in the machine. There isn't any way to get slug glue off. Damned,  those jeans are Calvin Klein's. I traded a pair of cowboy boots for them. The slug crawled through her hair. She washed her hair seven times. It never came out. They are now divorced.

Sharon said write a story about your clothes. She still has the same clothes. From year-to-year, the stories about clothes stack up and accumulate like clothes in the closet.

Once when we went out dancing in Elk on the coast of Mendocino, the leotard I had scrounge from a trashcan ripped down the back. I borrowed her special heart pin and lost it. It was found later on the dance floor, broken. We glued it back together – our friendship mended. Sort of.

She will run away to Port Townsend to escape a broken heart. Did I cause it when I lost her heart pin?

Sunday, August 2, 1981

Flora & Fauna Notes

Woolly mammoth tusks like ribs of a beached boat.
The tide becomes delayed
among the many islands and fjords. 
Gravitational pull of the sea and especially the moon, 
causes a bulging of the oceans
traveling along the world in a great wave. 
The crest of this wave is high tide
the trough is low tide.

Title range is greatest at Prince Rupert
and the Powell River where flood tides
from the north and south meet and drift. Tidal bore.

Acorn barnacles stand on their heads
and kick food into their mouths with feathery feet
Purple crabs are like porcelain, clams have 32 blue eyes.
Seaweed absorbs nutrients directly from the water.
Roots hold fast, piddock clams, great sculpins

List the islands fjords and shelters inlets along this coast 
home for thousands of waterbirds. Common snipe 

The Fraser River drains one quarter of BC 
I have been to Salt Spring Island, and Mount Vesuvius.
I'm going to Ganges.
All roads lead to Ganges on Salt Spring Island. 

Offshore islands have fewer species of plants and animals
different from the mainland.
The Queen Charlotte Islands,
continental slope, continental shelf,
continental drift on the edge
of the continental shelf of North America 
Backbone of mountains rises up
from the western shore the Queen Charlottes 

I am remembering the trumpeter swans at Mount Lassen,
and carpenter ants, spotted slugs,  
the Georgia Straits, the way the ship rocked.

Sitka spruce, willow,
Douglas firs are not the final stage of a coastal rain forest,
deepening leaf litter, climax rainforest
the wet climate of mountains facing the sea 
the stableness of the vegetation
can only be attained after a thousand fire-free years 
tideland spruce can withstand constant wind
and saltspray of the exposed coastline.
Sitka spruce, a protective buffer

Lions of the Sea
Glaciers never reached triangle Island
burrowing seabirds.

Nothing in nature is static
the land, the sea, the climate,
the plants and animals of today
are nothing but a passage
 apassing expression of a relentless process of change.

Earth air and water borne by the glacier
heated by the sun. Alpine tundra
dark dwarf willows
Northern Lakota and Plateau
the boreal forest, the montane forest
the grasslands, the dry interior, the bitteroots
the dense rain forest
and the Coast Forest in rain shadow
the Olympics the more specific wins
Salmonberry Salal Willow, blueberry Western Hemlock

What is this dice game played by the Micmac
500 years old
counting sticks, six round bone dice
made of walrus bone

wet piñata loose hair
embroidery this willow cradle
has been decorated with silk ribbons
what about my silk shirt hanging on display 150 years from now

the value of trade silver
beaver was the standard of trade

called it the fire breaks to symbolize the meeting of chieftains

the cave of petroglyphs
long ago when the world was young
animals held their winter dances in caves.
animals changing into human form
and this so embarrassed them
that they gave man their dance i
n order that he not reveal their secrets.

Nootka Indian masks capture the initiate
Tshimshan and Kitsat want to call three eagles
to explain the universe.
Cosmology is the relationships between peoples
the supernatural is preserved symbolically
masks make the natural and supernatural world visible
they explain our relationship
and take hold

human life depends upon a healthy structured natural world t
o ensure balance Indians conducted ritual seasonal changes
crisis economic activity
the shaman kept the balance
between the three worlds
the soul capture
scattering of eagle down for peace
the potlatch
the seasons
the ceremonies
art makes the supernatural world visible


This is a lot of gibberish to clean up! I must've been planning to use it in some writing. 

Saturday, August 1, 1981

Puck Goat, Mt. Olympus, Lunasa


Mt.Olympus from Hurricane Ridge. From an old slide—early 1970s, or  1981?

On the northern slopes of Mount Olympus: the ancestral sweep of the mountain, shadows are suspended across entire valleys. Talus and wildflowers in blue are the only signs of life in this severe landscape.

I am taller than the subalpine spruce forest at my feet. Like Gulliver in a Liliputian landscape. I must be way above treeline. I can almost touch the sky.  Small juniper trees hug the ground, they spread out mat like, a living carpet at my feet. The trees may be diminutive, but their berries are full-size.

A melting cornice of of snow slides off the razorback ridge and makes a second ledge of snow, well on its way to becoming a glacier. Below me, a string of glacial melt pools in aquamarine and teal, decorated with chunks of snow, icebergs in the making. 

I had to take off my telephoto lens because the animals here have no fear. Marmots shuffle up to investigate my feet and they size me up. I guess they don't get too many hikers on this steep slope. Or I look like a big marmot to them.

The only way to escape these droves of flies, is to keep on walking, or stand against the wind. I keep on walking.

I've lost count of the miles. I've come farther on one day that most round trip hikes. I keep reminding myself I have to walk the same distance back again, that each step forward is the half-way mark back to the trailhead.

But a part of me never wants to return to that place I came from. So I keep on walking. I have run out of trail. Literally. I am half-way to Marathon. My race against my pain is still not won. So I push ever on. The talus rings like fine crystal in someone else's bed as I stumble over compacted shale.



I take in alpine roses, lupine, larkspur, rock cress, a veritable Turkish carpet. Wallflowers, cinquefoil, buckwheat, Indian paintbrush, sky pilot, phlox, stonecrop—it's a carpet bazaar. A concuspiance of flowers stands taller than the tallest juniper.

In this dainty landscape, butterflies soar like hawks, and birds are the size of bears. A complex mosaic of lichen and moss grows on the ground, black lettuce-like leaves with frothy petticoats of pale green, dresses the rocks.

I want to get down on my hands and knees to worship the tiny Japanese gardeners who live here. My hand orchestrates a symphony of striated scree alternated with grand sweeping swaths of flower gardens. Beauty before me as I walk.


A hummingbird hovers, checks me out, then dives off the edge of the cliff. He takes my breath away. I lay down and peer down into a pocket valley, blue pimpernel and sky pilot and sky are one thing.

Sometimes the junipers achieve enough height for a mouse to hide beneath them. They eye me curiously, and rotate seeds in their paws as they nibble at the edges of pine nuts. Dark mauve phalacea is like bruised skin, amid the pearly everlasting.



A talus crest is black with lichen and weathered varnish. Mount Olympus? I am lost traversing range after range, I am deep in the heart of these mountains, trying to escape my own depths.

A fresh rockslide area glows coppery pink against all that dark scree. A golden mantled marmot stand up to salute his allegiance to the wilderness. With his back to me, he whistles, then screams to the valley below. I am not the enemy. Friend of your friend.

Deer graze on the subalpine spruces, they devour this fragile landscape. I drowse in the warm sunlight. Pink and white pine heather bells shudder and nod in the breeze coming in from the west. Harbinger of sunset. 

I awaken with a start. Another deer appears, a buck, two-pronged with velvet, he eyes me, sniffs the air. Drops his head to pluck tender pine shoots. I was sleeping where the deer come to feed.

These steep talus slopes are held in place by the roots of flowers, no grass or moss or soil.

On Hurricane Ridge, and here, deep in the mountains, the Rocky Mountain goats eat the precious patches of soil. They're looking for salt, someone said. They paw at soil pockets, they eat the soil, they lick the stones, they lick the hiking path—searching for traces of lost salt. They are not a native species. My traitorous tears are made of salt. Perhaps displaced mountain goat will eat them.

The bleached bones of juniper, a skeleton hugs the rock outcropping. Patches of stonecrop form light cream-colored oases on the hillside. Life and death are one thing.

The intense purple of lupine, and the yellow of wallflower takes my breath away. The papery leaves of the pasqueflower tremble on the slightest breeze. I watch the antics of a furry jumping spider dressed in black and rust.


The sizzling heat rising up from the talus creates a shimmering horizonline. The edge of the ridge drops off from sight and all the flowers keep nodding their heads in the breeze, as if in agreement. There are so many flowers that I leave bruised footprints behind me. I keep walking up the path that follows the top of the ridge, hoping it will go on forever. It does not disappoint.

The path cuts along the side of a slope, so steep, it's like walking on the edge of a box. It drops a long way down, it's little more than a goat trail and it veers off to the left to the lake camp, set in shadows. To the right, are the valleys and ridges that lead up to Mount Olympus and to the Elwah River Valley.


The track is no longer a human path. I begin free-climbing towards the summit, inching closer to that elusive spine of ridge. I tell myself to be careful, don't trust the rotten rock.

Another hand grasp and toehold: I'm almost to the summit. Hair-raising. I've gone way past my limits. But still I push forward. I'm thinking this stuff is for the goats. What am I doing here, alone, so far from civilization? No one know where I am. But, having come this far, I want to look at the face of Mt. Olympus.

Silently, white. Above me a jagged shape looms. I take it in at eye level, powerful forelegs, and I look up to a white fur chest. Black horns and yellow eyes appear. Am I hallucinating?


His beard, and breath tells me he's real. Uh-oh. This Rocky Mountain goat coming down from Mt. Olympus has right-of-way. Cars going uphill may have right away, but then I'm not a car, and he has sharp black horns and the surefootedness of hooves.

The rules of right-of-way on a precipice is not to stop in a dangerous place. He has no hesitation as he advances toward me. There's literally no place to go. I back down the crevice, the small of my back tucked into the base of cliff that arcs down 2000 feet of scree. The angle of declination will not stop my descent into space. The angel of declination.

The goat hesitates, he looks at me. We make eye contact and we each make a silent pact. He has to pass right by my feet. There is nowhere else to go. I drop my gaze, and look down at my boots. I present no challenge, i make no eye contact. I empty my mind and I become wind, rock and sky. I come and go in peace, at will. We are one thing.


He does not challenge me to a duel. He carefully passes me, his fur is silken snow. He is a young ram, ousted from the herd. So I know there will not be others following him.

So I follow him down the spine, back to where I came from. I am shaking, adrenalin, fear, a rite of passage. I'm taking photographs of his back. They're not as good as the one I got as he appeared over the horizon. I took photos first then realized the potential danger I was in. The camera is an extension of arm, an automatic reflex.

The goat is eating his dinner, he is pawing up the plants to get at the minuscule pockets of soil hoarded there. He eats the earth, craving salt. I smell of salt and tears. He is not afraid of me as long as I move slowly.


We stay like this, entranced for an hour or more, in the evening light, the goat and I, before I descend back down the mountain at twilight. Northern lights dancing in the distance.

Something truly memorable has happened. A wordless quest, answered. A heart mended. I return back down the mountain a different person than that grieving woman who left behind her sorrow in the fog shrouded dawn.


August 1, 1981
October 11, 2015
(Found in a journal, most of it is verbatim, I added the context when I retyped it.)

Anacortes

August 1 & 2

I'm at the Anacortes fair selling jewelry with Leo and Terry. We're watching the Bosco boys live. I catch their juggling act for the first time. It's rough. I don't mind. 

Terry says "every time I see you, you've moved a little farther north."

DJ hugs me. it's hard to pick up a welcome hello hug after a hard goodbye hug two days previously. He hugs me again. Just in case.


As the day wears on, their act improves. So do we. During stolen moments between their acts and my breaks, we go off in different directions at nightfall looking at each other questioningly. 

Next day, their act improves, and we know once again our friendship is solid and between breaks we hug and kiss and talk about northern tier, how that joke cost them potential money during the pass the hat, because Anacortes is a working town. 

They don't laugh at those kind of jokes. It doesn't matter. They juggle the clubs.


We pass each other at the fair we stop hug and kiss. Soon it's time for goodbye. He says, "I don't know whether to say goodbye or, see you next weekend."

"This time it's for real," I say. We can't seem to untangle our tongues. I give him a poem about kisses, and our act improves.


WHILE WAITING FOR THE ANACORTES FERRY