Friday, December 31, 1982

CAMPBELL HOT SPRINGS, earlier version

Crows sit over the orchards.
The way a woodpecker approaches a tree is with intent.
We follow the Feather River north along the bowl of valley
and sit in the steaming pool, discussing our stomachs
amid a flurry of snowflakes. Ice forms in our hair and melts,
trickling down our scalps like blood.
Snow gathers on willow branches.
Snow on skin, the water, leaving marks,
dermis of snow on the water.

1982, Chico
Rev. 3/12/83
The original impetus for this poem was written in Chico, 1982. It’s almost a different poem. This is a second draft from 83, for NPC.

Wednesday, December 22, 1982


See this night pass under piercing stars.
The clear bell of night cups the earth
with a soft blue blanket of snow.
We wait for the sun’s return
to melt the frozen tears of the world
from its journey along the dark winter road.

12/82, or 83 solstice

Saturday, December 4, 1982

THE ILLUSION OF LIGHT: notes to a landscape painter (Frank Gannon)

Notes to a landscape painter

Just as I'm beginning to see color notes
the way fog resting on a green-eyed patch of ocean
turns to pale jade, or a wedge of sunlight
carves a bright cerulean wafer of sea,
and cantilevered mountains amidst swells
tease color across its taut surface,

you said, "find a red-tailed hawk circling in the sky.
His cry will make you forget the pain."
What I didn't see was how light belays notes of color
to your eye as you stroke the landscape.
"There isn't anyone else I'm seeing," you said,
and it dawns on me that this light is your mistress.

A web of my hair fell across your face
and you said you couldn't breathe.
A friend once said, "when lovers disagree,
one casts his vote and the other negates it."
No one told me the choices would be so limited.

Our conmingled clothing in a dark pile
at the foot of the bed casts tall shadows
as you held them up, a hooded cloak of darkness
stealthily slipped over the hills robbing them of color.
No one told you the night is for lovers.

At Bridgehaven, I found a hawk crouched on a pylon.
I said, "if he flies away, I'll forget the pain."
But he wouldn't fly away. Dammit!
I had to shake my fist at him and scream.
A hawk is not a feather daisy one plucks petals from.

Now, the dark painting you gave me makes more sense.
Who breaks up with someone on their birthday?
When I looked, it filled me with a feeling of loss
What I couldn't understand, because it wasn't
anything like your impressionist landscapes
but of a fence hemmed in by shadow.

The light peeked out from behind trees
teasing the viewer's eye around the corner, out of reach.
But, a painting is only an illusion of light after all,
just as these words are an illusion of feeling.
Didn't they tell you—if you stare at the sun too long,
you'll go blind?


Sunday, November 21, 1982

To Maureen in your fourth decade: a Sestina for my 30th Birthday

To Maureen in your fourth decade
Be sure to spend the season in Mexico.
Remember, ice melts the red hot licks of summer and spring.
Make sure you take a hike from forest Knolls to Tomales Bay.
From southerly licks, the red hot summer season
spreads grassy knolls to your moment.
Spring the tumbleweed down into the red hot summer
sleeping up into green meadows.
Be sure to have plenty of Guinness, a saucer in any season.
I have not spent any time in Mexico
And sometime during your 70s, we will sing together
in Dublin's fair city
and spend next summer picking huckleberries with your grandmother
And when you come back, be sure to practice your spear throwing
because the men who carry earth and bags are closing in on you.
If you need spears , I have several at my place.

In Mexico, hawks melt especially in spring from Bolinas to Petaluma.
The dish of Guinness wanders towards Dublin
Huckleberries are in leather bags.
Dehumidify your Volkswagen especially while eating strawberries.

Maureen,  in your fourth decade, go to Mexico
when the ice melts in TOmales Bay, take a hike to Foresville.
We'll all be there to meet you with the saucer of Guinness
because of the men with spears, because they carry bags of dirt.
I pass, Maureen, you should pickup your mail more often
on your way to Mexico from Tomales Bay
with your dehumidifiedVW, strawberries and Guinness,
pick up males on the road. Choose a nicer man. No more junk mail.
On your trip, may your bag contain the berries, beer, wisdom,
and the maturity of the recent past.
May it also contains the happiness of the future.
And made also contain first-class mail.

Maureen, in the 30th year, which is your fourth decade, take a hike.
Maybe lick the hot ice of summer and spring
Trek past that one with your saucer of Guinness
singing in Dublin with Mike, pick huckleberries with your grandmother
Take a spear and dehumidify your VW. Pick up your mail.

May your fourth decade be multiplied by your sixth sense in your fifth decade.
With the saucer of Guinness by your side, look forward
remember the days, not to be too mindful of sword flashing in Guatemala.
Always dehumidify your VW with strawberries,
remember to pick up your mail.
Have a good time while rolling down into the Russian River.

Spent a season in the hot licks of Mexico
with your saucer Guinness and the summer
spearing huckleberries with your grandmother.
Remember to dehumidify the bagman in your VW
and pick up your male more often whoever he is.
When you multiply your sixth sense in your fourth decade
so that your fifth decade will have seven blessings
while your VW rolls down the hill to the river.
Then next fall, take your new dancing shoes and hot stockings
to the mouth of the river and dance and Irish jig
while the pelicans dive for fish.
Go to the Pink Elephant and get drunk.
Get your VW lowered, chopped, cherried, and painted metallic blue
Cruise down to Mexico. Drink Guinness and Dos Exxes.
Cruise to Tomales, lay down in some river.
Take your grandmother to Stony Point Rd. and pick up some males.
Go down to the mouth of the river and celebrate
while the whales spout. And always keep the crows nest in your heart
in your fourth decade, and stop to pick the violets and wildflowers.


I had a huge bash at Zara Altair's. Poets included Lee Perron, Mike Tuggle, Susan Kennedy, Simone Wilson, Jim Byrd—most of my old boyfriends...

Monday, November 1, 1982



Purple cutouts of mountains,
etched valleys and cold creeks 
tumbling over boulders where ice forms 
on the edges, rising steam off the laguna 
shrouds the lone heron croaking at dawn.
I walk through the mist-filled trees looking 
for the mystery, white light leaps from eddys 
and drops from ice, swims blindly downstream 
and falls into a blue pool at dawn. 

11/1982, or early1983?
added 9/15/2016
minor changes

random poems and notes on small pieces of paper 1982

Found poems my notes on small pieces of paper 1982

The difference between 
the FBI and the CIA 
is like the difference between 
scotch and bourbon.

Clemency for goat rock
Will this stretch of road support Winnebagos, 
a parking lot with TV antennas and stereos
Sacrilege of another California monument. 

If we had some ham 
we'd have ham and eggs 
Now if we only had some eggs 
—Irish saying

We make light-years leaping with other people
Yes but the wind was locked within the woods 


The ghosts upstairs are moving furniture at night 
while the rest of the world sends out for coffee

added 9/2016 oddities, at best.

Sunday, October 31, 1982


          —for Bill Snow

Some members of the Donner Party didn't wait for spring.
Their bones grew new coats of skin.
The survivors slept, dreaming of hot ash bonfires
remembered the earth was a vast burial ground
but did nothing.

Deep inside, the earth shuddered.
Liquid bones of molten lava tried to escape
& snow soothed the terrible thirst
from their hearts.

They say beauty is only skin-deep.
Skin stretched over the cheekbones of women
means nothing without inner structure.
Leaves are homeless without
wind-polished femurs of trees
to hold them to sunlight.

Look to the architecture of bones for strength.
Without them, holding snow would be impossible.
Mountains would bleed back into the sea.

In spring, no skin would slough off
to reveal the bare-boned mountains.
Who keeps moving the bones?
Soon they will rise up
& reassemble themselves
but the pattern is forgotten
& the earth's strength is altered.

Bare bones. Hidden bones.
For a year, Albion Ridge
swallowed the bones of young girls.
The murder was not avenged.
No one lit hot ash bonfires for them.

Their skin sank into the earth in a slow trickle
& the trees were the only ones left to listen
to the soft music
of skin falling from bones.


1985 Napa Poetry Review
1984 Deepest Valley Review
1983 Poets of the Vineyard, 2nd Prize
1983 ARC/Rural Arts Services
1983 Poets of the Vineyards, 2nd prize

Wednesday, October 13, 1982



As you rise up in sleep,
dreams and memory merge
like dove-tailed hands.

In sleep's imperfect flight,
the sum of our lives
enters a new waking.

Seeking night vision
a memory slowly approaches
in the shape of wings.
The mantle of stars drops
over your death—

lifts away from it,
& of this, you remember
how like doves,
her hands.

10/13/1982  (81?)
rev. 1988

1989 Women's Voices

Mnemosyme, a Titan goddess of memory, mother of the muses by Zeus
2. roughly translated, it means speak-memory

ASCII file was half gone. hard copy rools.
Such a radical shift from the first draft, almost a completely different poem, so I've posted both.  see MNEMOSYNE AUBADE


MNEMOSYNE AUBADE – for Richard Salzman

In sleep, dreams come
flying halfway down to greet you.
And as you rise up to meet them,
the dreams become a part of you,
and you, a part of the dreams.
To those dreams we bring with us
the whole sum of our lives.
Dreams and memories merge and sleep
like a pair of dovetailed hands.
I am seeking your stars in my dreams.
Like night vision, from the corners of your eyes,
you are remembering you can see
how the mantle of death approaches slowly
in the shape of doved fingertips.


Mnemosyne, roughly translated, means speak-memory.
She is the goddess of memory, a Titaness, and the mother of the Muses, by Zeus.
The revision is so different, it's almost another poem.


Friday, October 1, 1982


—for Alan Mclssac

The round sound of Tocaloma rolls off the tongue
like night drowning in the gibbous moon.
The herefords stop grazing and low to each other
as I help my neighbor gather topsoil for her lawns. Tocaloma.

We stop afterwards at the Western Saloon.
I sip sasparilla as she rolls down another beer
beneath the cobwebbed mooseheads.
At the other end of the bar, a gaggle of men
bang down a cup of Liar's Dice for another round.

Ranchers in overalls and gumboots
argue over what's the best feed for cattle. It's a lean year.
Two-wire bales of alfalfa sell at the price of three-wire bales.
We overhear them talk of planes dropping emergency feed
to livestock stranded on the open ranges.
Toby's Feed is shipping in the last of the Nevada hay.
I'm having trouble feeding my horse.

The corners of Agnes's mouth turn downward when she sips bourbon—
as if it were an uncertain pleasure.
She salutes the empty morning air, saying, Sköl pifiskin,
and I look for the toofta from Norway who always steals her drinks.

When her husband is at sea, and alcohol loosens inhibitions,
she tells strangers met in bars we have no socks.
Their eyes fill with easy tears, and during whiskey runs,
they take us to the General Store, buying me more white socks
than I know what to do with.

Tocaloma. To touch the earth.
The McIssacs went from milk cows to beef.
Alan says they couldn't make it any other way.
In the barn, we step over a dead weaner calf. He says, Don't look.
Their ranch stretches from the sky to the old Tocaloma train station.
Alan has a “Stop” sign in his bedroom, but the cattle erode the hills
and fine silt settles in Papermill Creek. No good for salmon.

On Sundays, her husband sends tightly written letters
on thin blue airmail tissue from Bombay, Hong Kong, the Mekong Delta.
When his ship, the “Baton Rouge” loaded with secret ammunition
was torpedoed, we watched the news again and again, but got no word.
The weeks uncoiled a glittering chain of days before she heard if he was alive.
I played with leopard cowries from the Indian Ocean,
and Caucasian silk dolls with Japanese eyes.
My music box chimed a tinny Sayonara, filled with foreign coins
as she showed me on the big map where the stamps and letters came from.
On Sunday evenings, we'd listen to “Hawaii Calls” on the radio.

When the liquor warmed her blood,
she'd spend hours rolling white bread into little doughballs.
After they got good and gray, she fed them to Smoky, the springer spaniel.
She made me feel unclean for becoming a woman—
as if it were something I could control— like those doughballs.
It was O.K. when we were still kids playing in the thistles.

My neighbor died in summer, when the waves turned golden,
and the lawn stretched to the hills like a green wave.
We pulled weeds, stood under sprinkler rainbows,
tumbled on the grass, until sky and land blurred, became one.
The rich black soil from Tocaloma sprouted healthy thistles
nourished by the cow paddies we stuffed into empty feed sacks.

Her husband drinks and thinks about the sea: Korea. Vietnam.
He planted the disease in deep so she never had children
(other than us). Couldn't, says Gram'ma, tisk-tisking.
Her insides blackened. The surgeon trimmed what he could,
but it wasn't enough. I felt nothing when I heard the news—
as if she were never there. And only now, twenty years later,

I am remembering all those lawns, and Tocaloma—
this place where we touched the earth
because the rolling hills and grazing cattle
weren't enough to feed the eye.


1988 Creative Discourse
1987 California Quarterly
1986 Marin Poetry Review

Wednesday, September 8, 1982

Sculptor/Poet, a performance piece Zara Altair, Bill Snow, Mo

We met several time during the fall of 1982, to produce this piece, but our inspirator, Bill Snow, never followed through, and so it was abandoned, though we did a rough performance at Bill's Gallery, Dec 21, a Tuesday. I have pages and pages of notes.  The Architecture of Bones came out of it.

Sunday, August 29, 1982

Napa Poetry Conference poems 1982

After a Galway Kinnell reading

The stillness of time, bones, 
hands filled by the harvest of want
There is time, still time for one 
who can groan, who can sing 
for one to be healed.

August 1982
Galway Kinnell workshop


Bone-kelp fingers of the dead
clutching at my ankles
slip off, harmless and beckon
to the breeze, lifting the clouds 
over the mountains. 

August 1982
Alan Soldofsky workshop

When writing, you are balancing language and experience. It's a balance between experience and metaphor there is little reward in poetry except a sense of posterity. Why do this? To try and write great art is to put everything into the line, and give up everything else.

August 1982
Alan Soldofsky workshop

Every bed is a mouth
That's what poetry is.

August 1982
Alan Soldofsky workshop

In the blue regions of afternoon
there is but one desire, for a boat,
a red reflection plays off the water
And it is a slow levitation of joy.

A bowl of dead bees covered with rose petals 
a green dream emerges from the rind 
of a cantaloupe and everything seems possible 

There is no need for narration in the poem 
the ravens will keep us awake
Only the force of brushstrokes
keep lilacs from the pathos

Lilacs against white houses
You can hear pain singing, it is not a song
it is hard to let go of summer 
remembering, then forgetting loss.
launched a lunch of raw butterflies

Bob Hass workshop Bantu Rhythms
August 1982 (also 85)

added 9/2016
I need to edit them

Friday, August 13, 1982

Orphan Calf

Today, I rubbed the face of a young steer. His horns were erupting under the furry pole. His long forelock covering the bulge. It was like teething. A young orphan calf, reassured by the steer's presence, sidled up to suckle upon my outstretched finger, he tasted the saltiness of the steer. Spat it out. His lower teeth were perfectly flush with the gums, like the toenails of elephants. I walked over the hills covered with Diogenes' lanterns and Ithuriel's spears. And wild lillies—tulips called pussy's  ears. Lavender hair on the triangle that joins the ovum. Thought of the calf's disappointment of finger. The illusion of mother. The breast.

added 10/16



I am trying 
hard not to 
think of our 
water contaminated by 
pollutants. As I raise a glass 
to my lips and drink, 
I discover the 
throat has 

added 10/16
first draft



They say beauty is only skin deep
Imagine the snowy skin of mountains 
able to transform the bleakest mountain 
into a thing of beauty. 
But without bone structure 
that skin of snow would not be seen. 
It's the bones of the mountain 
which lend the snow its beauty.

added 10/16

Mr. Abatni of Avelar Road

There's a man from my dreams, whose name is Mr. Abatni. He's a smallish, balding man who lives on Avelar Road. I don't know much about him except it's been over a year now, and still his name randomly crops up like a mantra.

It's like the two are intertwined Avelar Road and Mr. Abatni. I have no idea why. Maybe it's the way the two words sound so close together that haunts me each time I pass the road. Maybe Mr. Abatni doesn't even exist, except in my own mind. Even so, he's clamoring to get out and I keep stuffing him back in. Because I don't know what the story is. What if there is no story?

But you see, I've been so busy dreaming lately and it seems that I just don't have the time to write about him. I resent the way he keeps introducing himself and intruding upon my life. Especially since he's a fictional character. Especially when I'm feeling depressed. Especially when I dream.

I like to hide out at home and make plans on catching up with myself. Put away my clothes that are still draped all over the bathroom since the last time I went away, how many months ago? Do my laundry properly, not this wash the underwear, and the white dress I've gotten so fond of, in the sink.

Actually, I've quit wearing underwear because I hate to wash them. It doesn't really matter when I wear a dress anyway. No one is looking. Who has the time for a born-again virgin in a white dress?  The best part about hiding out from the world is that you can break all those plans you made.

Sometimes I don't answer the phone, especially when it's Lee on the other line. I always know when he's there. I always know when he's calling. He has a way of calling whenever I think about him—which is the most of the time. It drives me mad.

At least, when we're fighting, he won't call. Sometimes the fugue state can last for weeks. That gives me plenty of time to catch up with myself—except, then I'm so preoccupied with rewording and analyzing what I should've said, could have said, that I sit in a stupor. There goes the laundry.

That's when the story of Mr. Abatni crawls out from under the pillow I'm sitting on. Sometimes I think I'd like to banish him from my memory banks forever, but he's like a bad tune that gets stuck in your ear, and plays over and over until you want to punch your own ears out. Even now he is haunting me, and yes, I still can't seem to write about him. Because I don't know who he is. Or what he wants. So this non-story will have to do.

Ah, the sound of Avelar, like the halls of Avalon. It jogs the memory like a fairytale, or a novel that one becomes so absorbed in, that reality seems less likely than the story.

The dreaming at night gives birth to the credence of the tale. Enter into that landscape of far distant pavilions. Avalon, huge halls where knights still dwell. King Arthur, in my dreams, yes, Avalon. Avelar. Echoing through the cavernous depths of my brain.

But I detract from my story, that's the way he is. Puts a fog over my brain. Doesn't want to get born. I guess. I heard  rumor that he and the missus ran Casini's Campground in Duncan's Mills for a while. That was before she got religion. It seems she didn't want to live with him anymore after that.

So he moved over to a small cabin on Avelar Road. He didn't have a whole lot to look forward to. No job. No missus. The TV was the only saving grace, I guess, or maybe fishing. He used to tell stories about the one who got away. I was never sure who is getting away with what, the fish, or Mr. Abatni.

The choppy sound of Abatni. Short, rotund, and balding—like the man. He drove a little sky-blue car, a Toyota, the valve rings were so bad that that little circles of black smoke drifted out from the exhaust pipes like twin fumes of dragons.

Who says dragons aren't real? They've just been reincarnated. Get it? The pun: inCARnated. It could be worse, dragons mating with cars. In this advanced technological age, anything is possible.

Grendel really does live in the bottom of the mirror. That's why I avoid the looking glass. Beowulf was right, you know. But it's too late to do anything about that. The treasure's long gone. A mere reflection of itself.

Abatni. There is no Mr. Abatni. It's a name my dream made up. It's a bit hard of hearing. Oh, I get it: abat ni—it's all about me, or not—with a headcold. Or I'm dreaming in Church Latin again. Or is it Provençal? It happens. Pay no heed. Carry on. Abat means blind. and clearly I am blind. Or not. Said the knights of Ni. Nay. Ave Maria. And avalar is to to endorse. Endorse nothing.

The ducks bobbing along the coast of Santa Barbara are nursing black milk from the mother. Long live Beowulf. He slew the wrong enemy. Grendel and his dam were not the enemy, Herrot, the meeting hall, and civilization—were.

Blame is due, where credit is given. And when I walked along the shore, my feet were covered with black milk, black gold. How crude. Oil companies insists the crude comes from a natural seep at Coal Tar Point. What a wonderful way of covering it all up. The not me syndrome. Do they think we are blind? Where is the dragon when you need him?

The oil companies feed the nursing public a cockamamie story and they all swallow it. Blind endorsement. Good milk. Black milk. Milk drips like honey from the open sores along the coast of Southern California. SoCal, lo-cal. Calories from the black mother. Feed the children. Nursing. Weanling. The great teat. And there's rumor that they want to drill off our northern coast too? I think not.

May all the oil companies get udderitis.

August 1982? Other poems bundled on the same paper, on 8/13. Friday the 13th! It fits.
added 10/16.
Minor changes and connections to make the story work. I still don't get it, but it wanted to be written, so, I indulged.

Sunday, August 1, 1982



As I gain elevation leaving the valley floor
Water drips from the rocks
And collects in pools
And ripples along sandy, pathways
Light juts out from behind a cliff
and penetrates the valley floor

My vibram soles cup soft
Against the rocks. 
Rain turns to snow

Moss needs little light 
My pack weighs too much. 
My shoulders are familiar 
As the backs of horses

August 1982



In these unadorned camelid hills, ancient 
clam beds seek absolution from baked adobe 
while unseasonable green fountains of corn 
suck water from this desert oasis. 
Sacrament. This morning, the priest wore 
an alb and the purple robes of penitence,
as he offered up the blood of the earth,
the palms give voice to parched santana winds. 
Grapes from Chile at two dollars a pound; 
the price of water from Chilean earth 
3,000 miles south of this desert where 
campesinos struggle for the dailiness of bread.
And in the north, an ancient lake 
 is dying of thirst so a garden may grow. 
What is the color of forgiveness 
when mirages of real water slick the surface?

Easter 1983?  It may be 82
1984 Napa Poetry Review
         Poets of the Vineyard, First Honorable Mention

Saturday, July 31, 1982



Yet another year passes
my lip remembers the curve of yours
the bed was a mouthpiece
and our bodies spoke simply.

All words are suspect.
Hands betray us
by covering the eye, the ear, the throat.
Our bodies never forget the touch of old lovers.

Sea voices whisper, "time is woman-shaped."
As the sand rushes through the  hourglass,
the sea hisses, "a drowning body
means the honeymoon is over.

I have no hands to turn the glass on its side
and the sand within is the color of white noise.
I come away, feeling old.


Tuesday, July 13, 1982



I enter the church late and slip into the last pew.
At the altar, my uncle's widow remarries.
During the nuptual mass,
The priest raises his hands high holding the Host.

I look up, after years of superstition
The nuns said, "Don't look at the body of Christ, 
or you'll go blind." Bells ring. Mea culpa.
I place my clenched fist over my heart
and close my eyes for old time's sake.

Mary Azalie marries again after 25 years of widowhood.
Her husband died so young of cancer.
My uncle's jaundiced skin
yellowed like the pages of a book left in the sun.
I was four. I remember the way light 
filtered through the windows
of the hospital ward.
illuminating the sheets a radiant white against the skin.
The white tile floor in chicken-wire patterns
was stained with rust like his skin.
"It was the liver." they said. Melanoma.

When my uncle Myles died, he left behind a widow
and three sons — one in utero.
And my grandmother lost another son
so soon after her husband.
The three sons consoled the mother.
And then there were only two sons.
One lay dead across a parked car,
The Harley's stuck throttle roared like an enraged bull
in the neon-dawn.
When the news came, they couldn't waken me.
I wanted to sleep dreamlessly, without effort.
My dreams of violence.
Is the dreaming

Bikers from all over came to see him off,
With their chrome and steel gods
Roaring through the streets of Santa Rosa.
The last time I was in this church,
the pallbearers wore armbands of green, gold, and white,
and an Irish flag was draped over the coffin.
Another son dead.
And the mothers of Ireland keening. Mea culpa.
And the priest says to the married couple,
"Let us pray for those souls so long departed 
in the hopes that they will rise again." 
Pray for those who hope to rise again?
Hope? The charade of Mass -—
And the priest gives the body of Christ to the living?
Should we go forward willingly into death
in the hopes that we too will rise again? 
We chant, "I am not worthy to receive you. 
Say but the word, and I shall be healed." 
And we shake each other's hands.

I kneel.
Dressed in virginal white.
After ten years of trying to cast off the faith
I'm beating my heart
and chanting mea culpa as the bells ring 
and the Heavenly Host is risen.
If I look, I'll go blind.
Body of Christ. Body of

"...and a half a loaf of bread," the priest concludes. 
"I now pronounce you man and wife." 
Christ said, "this bread is my body." 
Marriage, the sharing if the bread, the body. 
The priest says, "You may now kiss the bride." 
The congregation applauds.

Do we choose who we love
Or are we chosen by love?
The golden age of lovers is in the past.
And I wait for another man who can't say the words
as if love were death's bridesmaid.
There is nothing to do but wait
With my fate sealed shut in the coffin.
And time marching through the unopened womb.

As the newlyweds leave the church,
I am sobbing.
Not for the wedding,
Not for love, or my lack of faith,
But for the sons,
The sons and lovers we all try to bury.
It's not the death we mourn for,
But the grief which starts anew each time,
and blooms seasonally like a flower.

I gather my bouquet and leave the church.
Beside me, my grandmother says,
"Its OK for me to grow old,
But I can't bear to see my children so old.
Those children with those bent grey heads,
they belong to me."


Added 10/16. My aunt Mary Azalie Reilly, a widow most of her life, married Young Smith, of the Coast Miwok Nation, so the wedding party included most of the Coast Miwok and the Coast Pomo nations.

Thursday, July 1, 1982



1. I read in the paper that men prefer blue and green
while women tend toward reds and yellows.
A man dressed in red empties his wash cart into the dryer.
Every item of clothing is red or in variations of red.
An occasional pink sock lightens the load.
He sits beside his woman who's also dressed in red.
Part of some religious sect dressing in red instead of orange?

A Mexican worker converses in hushed tones with his comrade
and his eyes are on every woman here.
His red skin glistens from the heat of the dryers.
Hola. Que tal? Como estas? but one can't address
a stranger in the familiar tense—only the putas, the whores do.
They eye the forbidden breasts of American women.
What is the attraction for pale sallow flesh
while dark wives sing niños to sleep in southern villages?

Young women with blank faces and bored boyfriends
attend the machines in some mysterious rite of passage.
They watch older women who ignore screaming children.
A child with a shaven head stares at the entrance
and the couple dressed in red return.
He wears red shoelaces on his red sneakers.

The Mexican watches women fold laundry to their breasts.
Is he thinking of darker-skinned women beating laundry
on the rocks of the stream near the village?
Or is that also just a myth fallen by the wayside
with overcrowded barrios and polluted streams?
The baby dressed in red reads the pink section 
of the Chronicle upside down. 
What is this fatal attraction to red?
Will he grow up hating the color of passion and life?

The Mexican waits for my dryer.
There are other vacant dryers near the maze of women
folding clothes on the table. But he waits for mine.
He places his meager load in the dryer—
a beige nylon jacket, polyester shirt and pants.
A friend told me, that in his country, Peru, the natives
dress in their polyester Sunday best
and climb the slopes of Macchu Picchu
expiring from the heat.

I fold ragged hand towels, my eyes
catching the furtive glance of the Mexican man.
His sad rabbit eyes drop floorward. No eye contact is made.

My maiden aunt told me she used to wash
the same clean pair of boxer shorts
over and over again so the men in the laundromat
wouldn't know she was single. What was she expecting?

2. A student of mine, Sally Luna, a slight, beautiful child
with black hair cascading to her waist wrote:
"I love the trees. They have feelings locked inside them
and they are brown like me. They understand."
She washes the hair from her leaves
and refuses to write poems in her own tongue.

No tears to turn into leaves and land on this earth.
Whole forests have been decimated on this earth.
They said there once was a time squirrels
could cross the entire country
leaping from branch to branch,
never once touching the ground.

Sally Luna's hair is a waterfall where wild birds nest.
To what oracles will the trees
listen to after her leaves fall?
We close our eyes to memory, Poland. Ireland.
Sandinistas of the world watching
someone go down.
The real struggle is in trying to forget
what you know to be true
but the skin holds memory.

They say every atom ever created
is still around after three billion years
of constant recycling.
On this earth, we are part tree, part dinosaur,
part rock, star, sky and air
the genetic memory of stone.

Memory continues unbroken.
They say red is the color of passion
and blue the color of tranquility,
but this beige, the pale earth tones
the brown polyester of the Mexican's work clothes
are the color of cultivated earth.
The oppressor and the oppressed.
They say their women pass the time
pressing strawberries between their thighs.

One can tell much about a stranger in a laundromat.
In the laundromat, we're all a little seedy,
hiding secrets from each other's prying eyes
because our worn clothing divulges too many truths
and the dryers whisper secrets to each other.

In this uncomfortable village
we're all eyeing each other up and down.
The mountain streams are gone.
There are no women washing clothing by hand
and sharing each other's dreams and sorrows in the sunlight.

No, we are not touched by those brown people
pruning vines in prize vineyards.
They drift in from across the border
and from the riverbanks they watch us swim
laughing silently at our pale nakedness.
They are shadowless in the bright sunlight.
Only in here, the laundromat,
do their shadows become faintly visible.

summer 1982


        —for Lee Perron

After dinner we walk in the strange July rain.
You say it's tornado weather
and the radio reports strange snow in the Sierras.
The Valley town of Winters was struck by its first tornado ever.

This bowl of landscape reminds me of Wyoming.
The Midwest, you say, and you couldn't be happier
tho you call yourself a Hoosier from the plains of Indiana
by way of Boston, stranded in a place called home, California.
What stirs in this alchemy of clouds
spread across the Healdsburg valley?

Cattle tear at the grass. Bullfrogs squeak like mice
as they dive for cover in the roadside ditch.
The cloud feathers funnel towards the east
and the sky burns like salmon eggs on pale gravel.

We return to paint the Victorian doors verneer and birch—
color names for variations of white paint.
Locked in thought, we quietly work,
our daydreams spread across freshly painted walls.
Soon, the house is flooded by the light.

added 10/16.

Tuesday, June 29, 1982


      —for Marty Goldstein
         Oct 14, 1949 - Jan 15, 1983

The sound of whistling
escapes from the lips of a solitary walker.
Down the empty corridor
a ringing sound echoes
from an empty can rolling across the cold cement
An escapee from the junk piled in the corner.

The corridor with its empty straight
lines and right angles leading no where. 
No one standing in the closed doors
and darkened windows.

The whistling sound—
a forced breath escapes 
from a friend 
who lies waiting
in a hospital bed.

His hand, a fragile lotus curled
on the white sheet can't stop the darkness
from creeping out of its lair
and spreading its viscous fingers of cancerous ink
across the soft grey carpet of his brain.

A song without words echoes through
the corridors of the brain.
The sentinel note sounds.
But there's no one there 
to open the closed doors
and the windows are locked shut.

We are all walking.
We take turns walking.
We all walk unannounced 
on that long, dark road.


A poem for Marty Goldstein, the first of my SSU classmates to die, of brain cancer. He was such a brilliant man, one of my close compadres in the Senior Seminar Literature survey class, and in the MA program. He died too soon, probably why this poem never made it to the electronic realm. Too sad. I still miss him. He died Jan 15, 1983, he was 33 years old. There wasn't a memorial, or if there was, we didn't know about it. So we never got closure. Next to go was Jim Montrose. We thought we were immortal. Here's lookin', at you, Kid.

Added 10/16

Friday, June 18, 1982

CAC/CPITS teaching journal, Working with continuation students, Bill Bradd

Working with continuation students, Bill Bradd

I work in small groups 10 to 12 kids, we create non-public poems, there’s no censorship. The ratio is more boys than girls, it’s usually 12 to 1. There’s always rebellion, you’re entering into a conspiracy. Bill uses the blackboard for anything, any thought. Class consciousness, he says, is a good place to start, but you can keep on writing if something strikes your interest. The way to love the thing you’re doing is to get to know it best. Overview—write a poem about it. Overview—kids know geography well. Start with their geography. Climb up a mountain and look down at your town like a bird. Write a poem about it. Maybe you’re looking down through time itself. Bill says, I introduce them to their own terrain, their own roots. Bill takes a piece of paper and marks all over it and then tells them that it is not holy. Not an icon. Does it work with them? On editing: Bill cleans their work up with them and throws words away correct spelling and grammar right there with them so that they see the process. Bill says, being eccentric helps. It intrigues them. The one-to-one attention I give them is all important. Bill says he is not there to sell them anything and they accept it. Bill likes to work without the teacher in the room. Says it hinders their creativity and self-expression.


RRWG reading at Copperfield’s Maureen Hurley & Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, June 1, 1982

WHY DO TREES DREAM? and other questions

WHY DO TREES DREAM? and other questions

Why do trees dream always of sunrise?
Why does the fog creep behind the frees and slumber there?
And where does the horizon stop and the ocean begin?
Why does the breath of mice stir in the dreams of elephants?
Why are pencils yellow as the sun and as round as the moon?
Where does the breath of elephants live?
When does the sun sleep?
And what is the matter with the moon?
Where do most changes occur?
What can be said about the color red?
What does the shape of a human heaft represent?

Guerneville School
in class writing after Neruda's Questions



Divided in sleep,
we slip in and under
the watery realm
where I am tossed
from shore to shore
by the river
of your night journey.
The horizon of your dreams
merge into mine
and the eye of dawn
rising soft
as a pillow of fog
offers some chance of rest.


AT THE 10,000' HUT

AT THE 10,000' HUT

The glacier rose up like a tongue
lolling out of the frigid mouth of the north.
I climbed over an ice wall
to trudge to the summit.
Ptarmigans, in half-summer plumage
chuckled in the undergrowth
of huckleberry and mountain heather.
The sun warmed us as our feet
crunched over rotten snow.

From the Olympics,
a sudden summer storm growled in,
threatening snow.
Dressed only in summer gear,
we were foolishly alone on the mountain.

The first sign of hypothermia
is the rhythmic rotation of frozen fingers
and your numb cheeks no longer sting.
Earlobes feel warm,
and your skin turns from red to blue.
The white patches of creamfat
like small islands adrift on your skin
are the first signs of frostbite.
Then, the overwhelming need to sleep,
euphoric warmth, and dreams—
a jumbled series of memories
out of proper sequence, take you in farther.
Soon, you reconstruct your memories
to fit the shapes of snowdrifts,
and you float into that warm tide of snow.

A thunderbolt cracked,
stirring the thick air and our senses.
Ptarmigans dove for cover
as snowflakes settled on their mottled backs.
We turned and ran down the mountain,
each gigantic stride brought us closer to home. 

At lower elevations, the snow turned to hail,
then to rain, whipping our legs,
as we descended to Paradise Lodge
nested on the slopes of Rainier
2,000 ft. below the hut, to safety.

slight revision

ACROSTIC More than I can say

ACROSTIC  More than I can say

More than I can say
A letter drifts slowly
Upward like a
Red kite loosened on a string
Except that I'm supposed to write about about me.
Every time I begin, I get distracted by
Nouns, verbs, the shape of letters...

But letters strung sideways are
Another way of viewing the world.
Better start writing about me.
Absolutely distractable, loves the color

Violet—putple, and sunsets before a storm.
Intuitive, irresponsible, irrepressible
Open-eyed, both
Lazy-eyed, and slothfully
Ambitious at the same time.

Hurtling along at 9,000 miles per hour
Until something stops me
Right dead in my tracks
Like a train hitting a brick wall.
Everything crashes.
Yet out of the chaos, curiosity persists.

in class poem?
added 2/2017



Give me an 0 as round as the eyes 
of snow monkeys sitting in hot pools 
on the island of Hokaido.

E's a hungry Pacman 
attacking the letters in front of them 
eating up all the other vowels in sight 

And U's are. the twin horns of the water buffalo
balancing the red Egyptian sun between them.
A U for Isis and Osirus.

Pyramids of A's buffeted by desert sands 
standing in memory of Custer 
And A's framing the camp 
as the Indians ride north to hunt.

I, the megalithic monsters of Carnac
with 900 stone teeth projecting skyward

I want W's. Double U's to hold up the moon,
the earth's axis, temples of the sun
I want W's swinging from cloud to cloud
Like monkeys in the temples of India
A place where Custer can take his last stand
Where Reagan can see his last redwood tree
Where Einstein can safely bend the universe
Where nuclear bombs can sleep for an eternity
among the bits of floating debris of deep space.

in class poem after Rimbaud
Guerneville School?
added 2/2017



Drifting, drifting on a memory,
The pocket gophers of space
are devouring the Milky WAy.
They are holding galaxies
between their teeth
as the scissors of time snip
snip at the purse strings
of the past, The pillow of
infinity bursts forth
and new galaxies are born
to the.volcanos of history.
Drifting, drifting on a memory,

definitely an in class poem, Guerneville School?
added 2/2017

Saturday, May 1, 1982


         … What appears before the eye is simple illusion.
              – from Double Sonnets from the Subconscious
                                  —Leonard Cirino
            for Leonard and those who have ridden the black mare

What separates the word desert 
from something sweet 
is the twin presence of slithering S curves 
of snake tracks in the sand. 
The letter S has no consciousness of desert sand 
or, of dessert peach.
One singular S stands alone. 

The second S changes meaning
gives plurality, gives possession 
and ownership to words.
Snakes go blind during summer molt shedding 
even the skin over their eyes.
In their hot blindness they strike anything warm 
with an accuracy surer than sight.

In the twin mirrored lakes of horses, 
verdant green blades stab at the sky.
Cows easily slip into the past.
Their prehensile tongues covet only grass, 
not the thrones of one eyed kings.
Cows carry the mark of Cain in their eyes.

Sheep pressed their lips to the earth, 
always trying to get closer to the source, 
and they forget how to move on.
They graze until there is no grass left 
and the cattle starve.

Horses tear at the tops of grasses, 
their eyes always on the next bunch. 
In the boneless desert behind the eyes,
we all carry the carrion crows within.
In the fallow fields where the grass is greener, 
the convex lens covering the eye, carries light 
to the arid folds of the brain.
The eye is the cistern in the arid boneless plain.

Yes, the same sheep graces in the same pastures
and need no eyes to find the turf.
Maybe it's the size and shape of cows 
on that always leads them onward.
Or maybe it's the cloven hooves of the goat 
and the sheep that carries the shape of death 
in its eye, bringing us still closer to the earth.
Still, it is a privilege to see the milk-blue eyes of babies, 
unfocused, half blind, closed, asleep at the breast.

As they gain age, the focus sharpens, 
clarity leaps forward, images fall into place, 
and the foraging begins.
King Lear said, "a man may see 
how the world goes with no lies."
Do we truly learn wisdom with our eyes?
What appears before the eye is simple delusion.

Reduced to the level of beasts, Gloucester, 
blinded by the pelican daughters of Lear, said,
"I have no way, and therefore want new eyes."
No, we can't return to that first sight.
There are no thrones left for one-eyed kings 
and beggars will never ride in the dry desert kingdom 
of the blind with the surefootedness of second sight.

Revised 8/82, 10/82



Like hearts of wild birds
riding the storm
or panthers defending sectors
of the universe
we seek shelter
before the visions of stars.


Monday, April 12, 1982

Letter from Leonard Cirino

Dear Maureen,        April 12, 1982

Ah the rain I wish it would end but that's not the forecast. I traded some work hauling manure for some strawberry and lettuce starts so there will be something ready by June. This is the poem that is an "answer to your one about my eye. Read it and tell me what you think. Please have someone let me know for sure about May 10 at the reading date because I always make plans ahead so 1 can't change them. I have a whole lot of new work since december at Garbo's so 1 won't be repeating any poems if anyone asks they will all be rather new or at least never read in Sonoma before. These damn typewriter keys keep getting and hitting in the wrong order so I hope you can make sense of this letter. All is well except for my truck which still is without transmission and no transportation. Costs me less money as I am very poor these days—no job at all—I quit dishwashing because of the ten-mile one-way trip and the minimum wage. Are you going to Pt Townsend this summer? I might go if I could  take my dog and find a ride. Hint Hint. Must close now and write other letters hope to see you next month or sooner if you want to visit. Get Simone and you up here sometime soon.


Leonard Cirino, LeePerron, Karla Andersdatter reading

Monday, April 5, 1982



What separates the word desert
from something sweet 
is the slithering S-curve 
of snake tracks in the sand
Leonard writing rebuttals in the green grass 
reflected on convex lenses covering the eye.

Eyes – the addiction of sight 
in the twin lakes of horses and cows 
verdant green mirrored blades of grass 
stabbing the blue sky.

The letter S has no forgiveness, 
no consciousness of desert sands 
or a dessert peach 
But one S, singular – 
the second S changes the meaning, 
gives plurality, 
gives possession and ownership 
to the concept previously implied 
in the word preceding it.

Snakes go blind during summer molt, 
shedding even the skin over their eyes, 
in their hot blindness they strike out anything warm.

Cows easily slip into the past 
their prehensile gray tongues covert only grass
the cloven hooves of cows, camels, goats, deer, sheep, 
ungulates who ruminate – chew their cud.

Sheep pressed closer to the earth, 
they're always trying to get closer to the source, 
and they forget to move

Horses, have you ever watched 
how they tear the tops of grasses,
there is always on the next clump of grass, 
their fluid joints making popping sounds
as they shift towards the next elusive hummock of grass.

Eyes are mirrors, all of us carry death within us.
It is it is a privilege to see the milk-blue eyes of babies, 
unfocused, half blind, as they gain age, 
the focus sharpens, the clarity sharpens, 
images fall into place and the foraging begins.

also a prose poem, there's also a poem version....somewhere.
added 9/2016

Thursday, April 1, 1982


Imagining myself at the Musée des Beaux Arts looking at Breugel's painting, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, while listening to Paul Winters' composition of Icarus in Flight. And yes, Auden, and WCW enter into it.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus Breugel

The Phoenix, suffering
turns away from disaster, and weeps.
I think of Bruegel. Old and new children,
aged, waiting for birth, martyrdom, and danger.
They've gone to the dogs, it's all torture, of course.
On the untidy spit where Minos and the Minotaur jousled.
Al, the the labyrinth, you say. Yes, and feathers.
Don't forget the sailor or the plowman.
A boy falls from the sky
because I sailed calmly by.
Cause and effect.

The mind, the palm at the edge of space.
Such gold feathers, the phoenix sings
and rises from the edge of space,
his shining feathers and ashes,
and 500 years of human feelings
are too much for the bird to absorb.
The foreign songs, the bird sings,
the fire feathered bird sings
until his heart bursts,
and his feathers dangle down
in the wind and tangle in the branches.

In Crete, both the great Goddess
and the youth sacrifice to the sun
while the phoenix rises from the ashes.
He sings once every 500 years
and the wind in the branches of the palm trees
whispering secrets of distant oasis.

I think: maybe Palm Springs or 49 Palms
Dedalus gathers the feathers of the phoenix
to give his son the power of flight.
There's a sailing ship in the bay,
but the plowman turns away.
The shepherd turns away.
Such a tiny splash that was never heard,
such thin ankles, such a slender boy,
and Icharus falling, falling, fall-
ing in slo-mo forever trapped
in the pool of his father's eyes
as he reaches into the void.

added, rev. 9/17

Monday, March 22, 1982



All night long tiny tipsy men
tiptoe past my fridge.
As they walk by
they ask me
"Are you ready yet?"
"No," I tell them.
There must be eight of them
crowded into my kitchen by now
celebrating the equinox.
My cabin is populated by dwarves
stacking up like plates,
they are breaking the crockery
with their clumsy bodies.
Determined to stop this nonsense,
I roll out of bed
holding my hangover in both hands
and vow never to drink again.

Spring Equinox 1982
added 2/2017

The white wool of sleep

The white wool of sleep

The white wool of sleep
is knitted with the purple pollen
of opium poppies 

The ringing sound you hear
emanating from clouds
is made by someone
drinking the detail out of the sky
with their eyes
as lovers look deep
into one another's eyes
and all is voided.

3/22/82? 81?
sounds like an in class poem