Tuesday, July 31, 1984

Letter to Jim Byrd: Mid-Ocean, Enroute to Oahu (journal)

Mid-ocean, somewhere,  July 31, 1984

Jailbyrd –
The only problem with initiating a conversation about relationships on the steps of BART and then leaving, is that all that gets left unsaid, rolls around in my head as if in dreams, unresolved. I guess if I hadn't said anything it wouldn't have made any difference – I still would've known what Zara said… Leave me hanging here.

Well, there's land out there— Must be getting close. Mauna Kea. Through the clouds, the low flat tongues of Molokai's shore.

Much later: tthe water is so warm, I had forgotten the sheer joy of it all. I spent last night at Kaiser Emergency Center, three fucking hours for a self-diagnosed yeast infection from the antibiotics. (And they will leave me with a gift in return: pinkeye.)

Welcome to Hawaii. I'd forgotten about the slow pace here. Fun, hokey tourist stuff. In spite of  9 million tourists, Waikiki is still manages to be friendly. Sure, they want the tourist dollars, but it's not just the shaka-buck shakedown. Actually, I like it. Sort of like television serials becoming reality— everyone relates to Tom Selleck and Hawaii 5-O.

Waikiki is like Disneyland, or LA shrunk into a dream. That dumb stuff on Fantasy Island seems to be be for reals here, and I can't believe that businesses are run this way. I suspect California was laid-back like this not too long ago. The ones who hustle don't have Polynesian paralysis. Can you imagine New Yorkers struck with Polynesian paralysis? Businesses still functioning?

The reason for all this trivia is that I am an involuntary prisoner, shut in for the day. I'm surviving on one orientation breakfast. You know, buy this, buy that, etc. I'm in a room crammed with first-time haoles and not so haole visitors. So my mind's very trivial. No, relaxed. Very difficult to think. Heavy. Pacalolo means I no can remembah, with an H. So much for intellect.

Continental breakfast means one donut, Styrofoam coffee, and Hawaiian punch. Not Kona coffee. It's too bad I have to sit through this, but it's the only time I can find out who I made my reservations with. She-it.

Somehow I don't think I'm ever going to get out of here, much less finish what I started to write about in the beginning of this letter. I am practicing writing meditation to withstand the deluge. Wish I could leave. Hanamua Bay is waiting, and all those fish. Trouble with drinking coffee and being the captive is that you go crazy faster.

Oh God I'm losing it. Bananas, mangoes, and coconuts, give me some strength. Mahalo.

Real life, like a loose tooth with a mercenary bench for the tooth fairy, they shake it out of you. National pastime is to spend money. I'm part of a Third World group, practically the only white person in the room and I feel more and more uncomfortable with them— they are the polyester class. All these honky bitches.

Did you know they take photos of you at the airport while you're getting lei'd? Five hours of sardine mentality on World Airways and a quick lei, everyone looks worse than wash-and-wear. For eight dollars you can have Kodak permanently remind you of how you don't want to look.

Everyone buys a photo of themselves. Something I find astounding. Something for a washed up unemployment photographer to look forward to?

You should see this hot Chinese number I'm looking at in red heels and very short white jumpsuit. The man she's with seems to have two women. Or is it three?
Like I said, being in the city is a trip – too much visual stimuli. I'm beginning to reel from voyeur mentality. I can't seem to stop creating fictitious backgrounds for everyone. Just let me out of here… 

The bus is coming. Help! I'm being held captive in someone else's material dream. Sometimes I get a little flipped out being alone in a strange surroundings. Not here, not today, the observer behind the camera sans camera. Taking imaginary photos.

This seething, wriggling mass of humanity, I'm part of, astounds me. Being related to all that imperfect flesh. Earlier, on the crowded bus, a man was standing, he dripped sweat from his forearms onto the seat of the passengers below him, who recoiled in horror at that liquid. Having nowhere to wipe off his fellow passenger's sweat, he fastidiously avoided looking at it.

The standing passenger lifted his shirt to cool off, showing the twisted, melted flesh. Pahoehoe lava, seared pockets of flesh. Scar tissue cannot sweat having no sweat glands. The only places that this man could sweat was from his forearms and his belly. What napalm melted his flesh? We are all veterans carrying the war damaged flesh from one place or another.

The reason why I travel is because memory jogs, and random action becomes significant when patterns are created. Our bus arrives. Aloha!

On the bus, a middle-aged woman named Gladys asks: how does this look? Smart with biwah pearls. The reality of it is locked away in tablecloth mentality. A dapper gentleman in an Indonesian wedding shirt, white linen pants, white shoes with holes punched out, smiles at me with gold teeth,  his pigeon ruby ring, worth a lot of blood.

She leans on me, cowlike, obliviously her cheap perfume fighting against the odor of her plumaria lei.

Something happens here, an imagined reality. For a moment I know longer know what it is I am writing, nor to whom I write, or why.

This letter, if it is one, has taken hold of its own reality, is consuming its own history, its fictitious past.

If that odious woman plants her green and gold heels on my bare foot one more time, I'm going to bite her ass off, but then there would be no comprehension fir the dead.

It is so crowded, and hot, I cross my legs with a fellow passenger as her fat presses against my inner thigh. Violation of space. I am very touchy about personal space. They are German, it is difficult to be rude to foreigners.

I am a bitch. I bite my tongue. I carefully fold the tips of my fingernails over my fingers, testing their tensile strength into the palm of my hand—where is the breaking point? It is different for each of us.

How many of us eat before we are truly hungry to sate some trivial god of greed?

July 31, 1984

Monday, July 30, 1984

The sound of crickets or frogs

The sound of crickets or frogs,
the croak comes out of a bag
filled with dried vertebrae
Each croak demands one neckbone
for its passage.


Invisible Boundaries 1984 NO eFile! Type!

this is definitely NOT the same poem as my Soviet poem by the same name in 1989!

Monday, July 9, 1984


The boat lay fixed, resting on the rope,
the deep bosomed ship, fast at anchor.
                           —from Beowulf

How many years has it been since
Ebbe rescue the drydocked Egyptian dhow
from the battering ram and burning?
I remember the story about how he had to wait
for the full winter moon and king tides
to float it up the shallow channels of Bolinas Creek.
Its carvel-built sides furrowed the bay mud,
as it sailed under stars.

In the darkness of winter, his wife
Angela, sat sewing the sales by hand,
the painted sun blazed on the walls
of the loft as the heavy fog
tongued the windows and doors.

Ebbe hammered his poetry into that boat.
And each year it was not quite ready,
needing more revision and finishing
before the spray of the sea
could baptize that sailing sun.
And his girl-child needed tending-to
on solid ground.

Soon she will be old enough to sail —
she's the steadfast anchor
that keeps her father surely shored.
In his arms, her slight weight
is a more solid metal than iron.


I have other poems of Ebbe Borregaard too, somewhere. Ebbe quit writing in the late 60s. But he was a solid writer, and mentor; friend of Robin Blaser, JoAnne Kyger, and Jack Spicer. I remember JoAnne telling stories about all of them on the Mesa, at Richard Brautigan's treehouse. Bill Berkson, and Bob Creeley lived down the street on the bluff.  I loved hangging out in Bolinas, I also had no idea I'd become a writer. So I didn't take notes.

Jess, Ebbe Borregaard & Jack Spicer, Drew House, Stinson Beach ©Joanne Kyger

Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance

Ken Kesey 



I got a letter today from Bill Berkson. 
He says, it's been a while. 
Not much has changed— 
He says, Ebbe is still around, 
and will you come to visit soon? 

How that time gone, fled,
vanished beneath night's cover, 
just as if it never had been.
The wanderer said 
the story never changes much, 
only the times are different.


Outakes from the Wayfarer,
a poem to Ebbe Borregaard.
Sometimes the outakes are the baby,  
and the poem is the bathwater.
Or is it the other way round?
At any rate, this was tossed, 
only to be retrieved again.


See   Ken Kesey  

Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance