Saturday, March 12, 1983

CAMPBELL HOT SPRINGS (100 Monkeys) no efile on final copy


Like snow monkeys of Hokkaido
we sit in steaming pools
under a flurry of snowflakes
and discuss our stomachs,
Keats, and the idea of truth and beauty.
We bring our ideas of culture to backwoods
artists who were content to paint
on rusted frying pans and saws.
To them this is what art is.

Imu, of the 100 monkeys story, was the first
to wash sand from grains of wheat in the sea
and soon the whole tribe copied her.
Scientists were puzzled by snow monkeys
arranging small white stones because
it had nothing to do with survival.
They couldn't bear the thought of monkeys
inventing a new game, or art.

Later, when the story of Imu's influence
was challenged by fundamentalists, I saw
a photo of the monkeys and people
bathing in the hot springs together.
Who was copying who?
Hoarfrost forms in our hair, melts and
trickles onto our scalps like blood.
Snow piles up on bare black willow branches
and leaves a dermis of skin on the water.
Nothing is as simple as it seems.

Campbell Hot Springs
rev. 1988


Like the snow monkeys of Hokkaido
we sit in steaming pools
under a flurry of snowflakes
discussing our stomachs.
Ice forming in our hair
melts and trickles down
to our scalps like blood.
Snow gathers on bare willow twigs
and leaves a dermis on the water.


IN KIND MATCH, and some haiku , Chico

Dear California Arts Council, this is just to say, that after my presentation, for my in-kind match I am deducting the price of a pair of gloves because we stayed too long in the hot pools and got caught in a snowstorm over Yuba Pass. I had to put chains on Ken’s car, because he didn’t know how, and then I couldn’t write for ages afterwards with my poor frozen hands. On the long straight slaughterhouse stretch of Highway 99, we gauged the distance of approaching cars in our lane by measuring how close together the headlights were. We hoped they weren’t in our lane. And we measured the speed of our death accordingly. And after that, I could only think in broken  haiku.


The precision of bird wings 
slicing through the air, 
A  scythe of feathers.

Honey locusts 
looking up through the mouth 
of a cliff to the sky.

Hydrants aching 
for a dog’s leg trickling water 
urging the bladder onward. 

Indian hot Springs, 
Big Bend, Pit River we were hot 
stones floating in the pool.

On I-5, the transparency of trees 
hiding winter’s houses in the hills 
clothed like green brides.


Friday, March 11, 1983

Gypsy funeral

Baro Ram, the big man, the leader, or king of the San Pablo gypsies, Staley Costello died. Gypsies believe that the dead should be surrounded by what they loved in life. Things to take with them on their final journey. Stanley Costello took a Styrofoam model of a leaping fish, a rod, some cigars, cans of Coke, a fishnet—all were  placed on the bier for that final journey.

No date. 3/83?

Note bene: The last gypsy funeral I witnessed was for Baro Ram Silva, the Santa Rosa King of the Gypsies. Swarthy men on horseback, decked in heavily tooled silver saddles, people crowded in Cadillac convertibles, down the middle of Santa Rosa Avenue, women in full skirts, shawls embroidered with roses, everyone, men and women wearing astounding gobs of jewelry, I stood outside of Madame Rosa’s Palm Reading parlor on Santa Rosa Ave., and watched a lost slice of history parade by, not understanding I was witnessing the end of an era.

Silva, or Silveria, lived on High Street in Sebastopol, across from the library, and made redwood chairs and tables. He supplied my friend Donna Champion’s fathers A&W franchise with tables and chairs. Come spring he found his way to my grandmother’s house in Forest Knolls, where he collected scrap iron and fixed our pots. One time we bought two chairs and a table that lasted forever.

Donna remembers one year Ursuline High School put on a Gypsy night, and the real Gypsies wearing massive chains of gold, turned out. Madame Rachael was reading palms in one corner of the room. It was a watershed event, as they are but nominally Catholic. Donna went to school with comedian Pat Paulson’s niece, Pulika (sp) was their gypsy name.

It seems I raided old notebooks and recorded everything in March. First paragraph is from my NPC journal. Silveria story I added later, with a lot of hindsight, 4/2020

See King of the Gypsies

Tuesday, March 1, 1983


      —For Daphne

Jonquils nod their heads toward the sun.
Shadows of trees claw at the edges of the meadow
 as winter sun pushes westward.

Like a river, the wind lifts me
and enters with greedy licks:
The only thing real. I am coming through the tall grass.

The wind carries me to the orchard.
and I sit astride a fallen tree covered with moss—
warm, yielding, like flesh.

Like the wind, the tree quickens
comes, and I fill the trees.
I am coming, through the tall grass.

The tree shudders & divides.
Embedded in the heartwood,
smooth as- silk, an embryonic apple
beats a slow rhythm.

The wind comes through the tall grass.

3/83 Forest Knolls