Friday, September 16, 1983

7 POEM FRAGMENTS, no date, end of summer 83?

Music running across prairies
under milky trees and golden silence,
it roars across the evening sky
and shakes the essence of night from the trees.

On the hillsides, raspberry bushes
overlook the meadow. The birds sing.
Tonight, the moonlight shines in the trees,
last night of summer.


Seedlings push earth in musical notations
A violin breaks the glass
A worm dances to the music.

Spiders huddling
over corpses of the dead
wringing their hands

 Eating rabbit looks like a skinned cat
and taste like dry chicken
Tougher stomach muscles than the chickens
Eating rodents, Romans eating dormice,
sleepy mice kept in clay pots
for the fattening winter

Outside the quiet classroom
children yelling
floating sound resonates in the air
like the loneliness of a fever.

So sorry I broke into your glass house
but I fell off the stairs I needed a bath.
The door was open and the cat
hadn't been fed in three days
and it was a stone's throw away from the fridge.

Floral clocks of darkness
are singing to the rocks of love
and fish sleep out of the rainbow
and petals fall from the teeth of poetry
while I sit looking pretty writing poetry.

September 1983?
added 9/15/2016
I probably wrote these in class, teaching CPITS
(next poem is Her mask of attention slips...if that helps)



Her mask of attention slips
as she turns toward the sun
Clocks of sovereign weight
sit in rapt attention
Through her open window
a radio blares
to the rhythm of flapping laundry
next door
The judge's mask slips
Who gave her reason
to tilt volumes of abysmal trees
on their sides
don't they know she is a financier
of earthquakes?

alas, no date.

RRWG reading, Franklin St. Clubhouse, Charles Entrekin, Maureen Hurley

Thursday, September 15, 1983


The atomic bomb was developed under the code name of the Manhattan Project.
Those involved with the project died within three decades of cancer.

—to Jane Walsh Reilly

Grandma said:
Julia took the kids:
Mary, her sister, and the boy twins
to Colorado for a better education.
There wasn't much in Nevada,
and there was some trouble with the marriage.
My grandmother's half-cousin Bill was a handsome man.
He was the number-one son
and ran the Home Ranch in Austin, Nevada.

Julia O'Leary came out from Bantry to marry Bill.
The family was deadset against the marriage,
They were first cousins, you know.
And Mary's sister was brilliant too
but she was institutionalized in Denver.

Darwin's parents were first cousins too.
There was something off about his sister as well.
It works that way with marriages between first cousins
genius and idiot: flip sides of the same coin.
Maybe that's the Almighty's way of keeping things separate.

It was during the war years, I remember,
Mary was chosen right out of high school
to work on a secret project for the government.
When they were testing for mathematics and science,
Mary got one of the highest scores in the country
and she went to work back east.

It wasn't until later we found out
it was the Manhattan Project
one of the government's best kept secrets.
No one knew anything about it.

We didn't hear from her for years,
and learned of her death announcement
when it appeared in the papers.
Here I was, first cousins to her,
and even I didn't know.
There was one short line about her work.
I heard, all who worked on it died,
but no one blamed the project.

The first time I saw Mary at Home Ranch
was back in the '20s the little toddler
standing by the adobe wall
and Julia talking, talking, talking
I was dazed because that child,
her voice was like a bell.
She was so perfect,
I thought I'd seen an angel.

And Julia, looking at me so quizzically
That was the pity of it. I didn't explain.
And her, Mary, clinging to her mother's skirts
as if she'd done something wrong,
crying hysterically,
Mommy, mommy, I'm not a bad girl. Mommy.


Thursday, September 1, 1983

drawing from Obligatory Hug

ARC Sept/Oct, 1983 4 photos front page: Mike Tuggle, CA Oranges, Ft Ross, kids, fence & rock


       —for Carolyn Forché 
         Hibakusha is the name the survivors of Hiroshima gave to themselves.

I.   The violin's slow scale
climbs above the beat
of the metronome,
patterning mountains of notes,
increasing in tempo.

II.   A child under the alders

stares at the liquid leaves
that hide small cones—
brown, like river debris.

III.    A sonic pitch
loosens the violin's strings.

The bow falls slack
and the hand falls silent.

IV.   A pulse of light quickens the sky
The leaves, robbed of their color
sizzle into premature fall. 
Ashes. Burnt decay.

V.  The acrid odor of hair
distracts the woman playing the violin.
Glancing at the mirror,
she watches fascinated,
as the mirror slumps off the wall.

VI.  Vast ridges of light.
No color anywhere—
only a drenched landscape
of saturated light
brushed by fingers of white noise.

added 10/16


The violin's small scale 
climbs above the metronome, 
small bejeweled clicks 
patterning mountains of notes,
increasing in tempo, 
a sonic pitch invades,
the strings lose their time,
the bow loosens 
and the hand falls silent.

Napa? no date

Ducks slip into births and sleep 
in the shade of trees at noon. 
I feed them raspberries. 
Ducks masticating raspberries 
in a khaki colored lagoon. 
They swim over rotted bull rushes 
the way birds fly over 
invisible boundaries of fences. 

The word trespass is an unintelligible concept 
we see the line fall short of the mark. 
Either we plunge into the murky depths 
shedding drops of light from our breasts 
or we cower silently in the tall rushes 
and listen to the cackle and skirted rustle 
of ducks, afraid of the depths.


First draft

the ducks slip out of the shade of trees, 
awaken from their nap by the approach, 
I feed them raspberries. 
They're masticating raspberries 
in the khaki colored lagoon.

They swim away over the bull rushes 
and I am reminded of the way birds 
fly over invisible boundaries of fences, 
barbed, electric, or wood
it doesn't matter.
The signs of no trespassing are not read.
To trespass is an unintelligible concept for birds.

I read the lines and fall short of the mark. 
Even if we climbed into the murky depths 
drops of light from our breasts, 
or we hope her silently in the tall tule rushes 
and listen to the started rustle and clacking 
of ducks afraid of the murky depths.

added 10/16

Napa craft lecture, Galway Kinnell and Tess Gallagher, The music of poetry, journal

The rhythm allows a poem to breathe effortlessly, things that seemed impossible before you start writing, to be out of reach, become within reach. Writing is not the last ornamentation, but a part of the poem itself. The music of the poem is the poem. All of life is based on cycles, the becoming and the dying. The rhythm is the first expression of life. To attach to that rhythm, that’s what art does for us, it’s the music first, then the poetry. 

9/1/83 freewrite from a craft lecture with Tess Gallagher and Galway Kinnell


Death's feather-fringed angels

White like emily
more gold than gold

endless stream of raw wheat
in the eye of the poem

the same alarm clock stands
on countless night tables
back and forth
across the country
timing trysts. lecture readings
the same hands sweep
the same face unceasingly
like a sea lapping at the shore

9/1/1983? 84?

there's a reference to Mary Rudge in the first line, and Sappho in the third line. I have no idea what it means
added 5/2/2016