Sunday, December 30, 1984

December 30, Dillon Beach; drawings (art)



Two cows weaving in the dunes at sunset, leave fine white crescents in the sharp sand. I gather crushed shells, sand dollars, and paper thin orange scallops. On the leeward side of a rock, a woman dandles a child.

Two girls run along the tops of the dunes, their screaming is like seagulls. Wind snatches a song from their mouths and pushes it back a hundred yards until they sound like they're coming from behind themselves, laughing so carelessly as if time itself stood still when the wind blew, and in that moment, an eternity. 

I survey this world of ageless youth, the same world as ours, but first it comes from the thighs, that inexorable gentle tug of the earth burdening me downwards with its weight, reminding me of my beginning and my end,

The slow tug of gravity, this slow death suckling on the toes, ankles, thighs. A clay chill carrying future memory. But I begin to run, to leap away from the quicksand time, I lift my feet off the earth, pump the blood. It keep my womb warm and ready. I'm not done yet. 

Geoff is on some warm shore. I dreamt of him last night. Donna said he sure showed a lot of pictures of me, but what about the one who had one almost ready for the oven? I said who? A dune slipped out from under my feet. 

I fell into the Roman baths at Bath. Warm water weighting me down. Rich suckle on my sheepskin vest I swim toward the edge, arms heavy with wet clothes, and I followed him with my eyes as he walked away with the group. 

He doesn't see me, though I call out to him, the wind pushes my voice a few yards back, and I realize I'm either a few days forward or a few days backward in another time. But dreams are like that.  

I'm looking at a movie or is he the one walking into my celluloid color dream splashing against the far wall?

Along the beach two spaniels run with their mirror image companions in an upside down world, until a wave breaks that image. Their barks are like pinpricks in the fluctuating surf. They trot in tandem, at play with the waves.

A couple strolling along the sand stop at a sand figure of a person reclining. The woman disengages herself from his clasp and goes back to the figure and stomps fully on the chest. I guess the boobs offended her. They are both wearing white sweaters. So out of place here. The sand woman has long hair made of seaweed and there is only the sound of the ocean.

Four men huddle between the bluffs, a blue screen of smoke designates a dimension between the cliffs. Carrying an ice chest and radio, they make to leave. 

Stephen says the game is over. I wonder who won? Further down the beach, the sand assumes a gray velvet look, where an impromptu game of football is in progress. An onlooker, someone's dog barks as if to announce the score. Or perhaps to punctuate a commercial at halftime.

The two spaniels resume their tandem dance with the sea, endlessly combing one section of the shore in a series of relays. 

The woman and her child leave the shelter of the cliff, she is carrying a bright red and orange plastic pail with a blue shovel. The child is bundled in florescent colors like the bucket. The navy blue of the woman's coat is like a black shadow trying to absorb all that unnatural color in all this gray sky.

The spaniels halfheartedly greet each group of people passing their sector of the beach, they're on a search for something familiar. As the groups leave, they resume their endless trotting and easy lope along the shore, and run parallel with the surf. 

Deeper into the dunes. the cows are grazing on saltgrass. I am reminded of the salt sheep of Camargue, an unexpected hunger arises. The wind erases their tracks in the sand. A jackrabbit exercises his options at dusk along a stretch between two dunes.

This soft sandbanks carved from the last storm, are impossible to climb. Donna's niece, Michelle, makes it to the top, but my weight crumbles the edge of it. My hands reach the top, but I am unable to ascend the bank, it is like a bad dream of pursuit and fear. Further down, a gully presents itself and I climb up. The sand is firmer more dense the inexorable weight of gravity less, age backs off a few years.


I think I have a bit more time to wait for Geoff.

The endless breathing of the sea, wave upon wave, like the sound of someone sleeping in the same room. As they shift into a deeper sleep, how it calms one and makes one sleepy too.

A wedge of shore shifts the mirrored weight of the spaniels as they gallops across the wet sand. The pressure of their weight pushes, and drives the water from the sand like a sponge wrung dry. 

No one disturbs the sandcastle, each one carefully walks around it. 

And when I write, time is suspended—the ocean, Stephan on the rock above me, the laughter of women, the football game, the incessant bark of the black lab—all this becomes timeless. If only I could suspend that moment and enter that world of half thoughts, and record it. 

It doesn't matter what I write as long as I try and define it with words, what I see and hear in the active definition. I am painting, honing my craft. Every experiment with sound and image is cumulative. 

I am preparing for the right moment. I don't know when it will come. I don't know what I'm preparing for. Like what Lee said, a startling enemy will appear. and you will both know what to do.

A synapse of mind, suddenly I'm jerked painfully back into time by some tangible form. My mind buzzes like a stretched rubber band, and I'm disturbed because I prefer the meltingly lost places of ceased time. 

But though I spend large sums of time in reality, and in that other world—the place between worlds—that fraction of a moment when the mind buzzes, hovering somewhere between the real world and the world of daydreaming. 

The spaniels have moved to another section of the beach. I am ready to move on, my mind spent, body numb. The sound of the ocean is fully inside my head like a seashell pressed to the ear. 

The spaniels return to the familiar place of the shore. Keep running into the surf. Sniffing the sand as if searching for a lost sense of something familiar, their mirrored shadows, keeping in perfect rhythm.

December 30, Dillon Beach

TWO COWS, DILLON BEACH


Two cows weave trails
through the dunes at sunset,
their hooves leave white crescents 
in the sharp sand and crushed shells.
I collect treasure: sand dollars the size of pearls,
rock oysters, and papery orange scallops.
By the lee of a rock, a woman cradles her child.
Two girls racing along the tops of the dunes
scream with laughter, so like a gull's. 
Wind snatches a song from their mouths 
and pushes it downstream until it sounds 
as if they're running behind themselves 
& they're laughing as if time itself stood still.
In that frozen moment, the wind 
consumes an eternity of ageless youth. 
I inhabit the same world as theirs, 
but the weight of it begins in the thighs, 
that inexorable gentle tug of gravity,
the earth's burden, that downward thrust, 
reminding me of my beginning 
and my end.

12/30/1984
rev. slightly 11.17.15

Tuesday, December 11, 1984

PERPETUAL MOTION freewrite


In the center of darkness
the red vibration of a rose.
Here, is the center of the universe.
Darkness lies between the crevices of fingers
molecular shadows in red and black
on the coffee table battery-operated toys
and gyrating gimbals churn
a perpetual kinetic dance
until the switch is thrown.
Electricity travels and dark tubes
on impulse the speed of light
across mountains, rivers, cities, continents
not heeding what was said
on a particular afternoon
before the toys stopped their dance.
Someone said there is too perpetual motion,
it's called life. Even in inanimate objects
we just can't see inside them
all those atoms bouncing
and dancing in darkness
inside each atom, a rose,
a template of the universe.

12/11/1984

Monday, December 10, 1984

BANK HOLIDAY, COUNTING BACKWARDS, 2 freewrites


Who said, take the deep
blue stars to the ball?
To get change,
one must carry shells to market,
to market, to buy a fat…
No more dinero. All this jive
the green ink odor
of lettuce on bread
gives me such a funny feeling.
Life, the best teacher,
kills all its pupils.
By the banks of the river
my love and I sat down
and I pulled out my fiddle
to watch the cash flow.
No clams on this muddy bank.
It doesn't know Sunday
from a blue Monday.

12/10/1985


Counting backwards,
I remember the halfway mark
and saying my alphabet bilaterally A2 B4
fish mirrors to catch a falling star
who never kissed the palm of my hand
who never told me how to hold a kiss
all through the night
and to never let go.
Take a fallen eyelash
Make a wish, blow on it
to the farthest fences of the world
to keep the bad dreams at bay.

12/10/1984

Thursday, December 6, 1984

FLOODWATERS


In silence you sit, your eyes,
like floodwater in the bayous
A map of sorrow, in your eyes
and the creatures crawl
out of the swamp at night.

Talking has a way of covering up
all the greens like when
you close your eyes in the sun.
Green, then red flashes across the lids.

All this red talk
like fire in the pineywoods.
Pale smoke rising,
or is it early morning mist?
Bruised water on the gulf
takes a beating after the storm.
Water rises to the doorjambs
of your father's house
and stops there.

Once, you said, your father
went out into a storm
to find the highest ground
upon which to a strong foundations.

Saltspray on the lips,
parched skin turns to brined wood
impervious to fire
Bly says rub a potato across your face
to absorb the salt.
It's hard to keep a shine on old leather.
But potatoes will do.

When you're one step ahead of the law
and one step behind in your head
it's harder yet to keep a shine on leather.

Like Noah, lost at sea,
all I ever wanted to do
was to wait for the storm to end
and to see the shape of the land  reemerge.
But 40 nights is a lot of darkness.
I can smell the floodwater's
metallic dank overture
like the rancid sweat of hands
on a nickel plated brass buckle
clenched in fear.

12/1984 (85?) from a Muriel Ruckeyser lesson on science, by Zara Altair. This was in my 1985 journal but I couldn't have written it with Zara as I was in Baja in Dec of 85.

Monday, December 3, 1984

Journal entry, many moons later

Journal entry, many moons later

So, I'm writing on random blank pages in this notebook. The last time I wrote in it, was in Hawaii. Other than rain damage, there was a reason for this abandonment. There's an open letter to Geoff, and to myself. And to Ed. I know, he's asleep in Hawaii at 6 PM, west coast time, and I thought of him. 

Tonight, after three days of migraines, I had a reading at Garbo's. At first, no one showed up. I took it personally. I felt especially bad for Michael Tuggle and Susan Kennedy who are two fine poets reading with me, but we also started early. The audience grew exponentially. We read sparingly and it was a lovely reading.

Also, most of the regulars were friends who didn't show up. And I thought oh I must be a bad poet, they're not here. It came down to overcommitment, but still, no one showed up. Not Lee, Sarah, Donna, Marianne, Eady & Jim Montrose. No one there. At least the Reverend showed up late.

I get that they've all heard it all before. So much for moral support. Well it could be the time of year as it is December 3 moving into Christmas. But they could've at least shown up for moral support. Lord knows, I've done it for them enough times.

But before me is a whole new audience. People who want to hear me read, a new, fresh audience. Yes. I hate what I've read, I'm going through I'm not a real poet phase. Phobias aside, V Weinberg liked my new Tocaloma poem, something I've never read in public before.

Afterwards, around drinks, we discussed the plight of Welsh coal miners in Pennsylvania. The Reverend Bob Jones is from there. We discussed East - West mysticism and narrative prose. From ego—to being fulfilled. He said I'm laying groundwork in those narrative pieces for novels or whatever. 

We both write long narrative poems, and I think too much. So much of what gets said while deep in the cups, disappears by morning. I can't record it all, but to write every morning, and to read every day, and to party every night... I'll not hold up if I party every night. The Reverend just wants to give it all up and become a writer. I know that obsession.

We talk about agents and networking and going after what we believe in. I say be careful of what you wish for, it becomes true. He said, I'm ready. We talk some more about East - West religions and the role of enlightenment. He says without darkness there wouldn't be light. And I say, in this world there is too much talk and not enough words.

Words are like vessels. The role of the poet is to give new meaning as in original meaning to words in order to shed light. Poetry is religion, I tell him. 

Bob talks about his latest manuscript and how he can't quit preaching because he has two daughters in college. I say, you don't owe them an education. It's nice, but parents don't owe their offspring this. Education's is something one has to desire and strive for. 

I say this because no one helped me, or perhaps it was because I found my own motivation. He's just pushing along, I'm pushing along. We are still writers in spite of it all. Determination factor. 

I comment on his need for closure with his congregation. What they need, he says, is a pastor who won't bore them or frustrate them by pushing them too hard. We are all lazy. Knowledge by blood. Limited by our friends. Can we help that? 

I say go for what you want again and believe in it. He agrees, says I've done it. I say, do it again. Rilke's sonnets to Orpheus, no matter who translates them  are magnificent, because what he writes about is magnificent. How can you go wrong in believing in what you believe in? Bob says, Amen to that!

December 3, 1984

Sunday, December 2, 1984

TODAY'S NEWS


A sunburst of red, yellow & orange
on the fold of pants where ass joins leg
mesmerizes me, it's like a friendly fire.
I drive to the post office, only to find it locked.
20 years ago, Maria Salvio spoke at Sproul Plaza.
Reagan and Gromako cautiously talk 
of improving US-USSR relations.
At least there was no bloodshed, or shoes thrown.
Jerry Brown and Jane Fonda make the news.
Russia think-tanks, fire in the hole.
A Scottish-Polish American soldier, 
Wladyslaw Stanislawski, awarded citizenship 
posthumously, for dying in Vietnam.
But he's already dead, I think to myself.
Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport declares 
Monday as Free Speech Day, I was there,
I didn't know the significance, I was young. 
And Chris Foley, a high school student,
receives microfiche from Russia 
on US classified missile plans.
it's a long chain of events,
today, getting the news. 

12/2/1984
rev. 17/11/15

Saturday, December 1, 1984

Obligatory Hug, Dec. 1984, Russian River Writers' Guild







NIGHT VISION

NIGHT VISION

Caught in my headlights,
eyes of young bucks
not leaving the dead body
of their mother.

12/84

Postcard collage poem to Jim Bird


There is some scientific thought
that rhinoceroses and armadillos are related.
Since last March, African black rhinoceroses
have been contemplated grazing on
on two ranches in Texas.
Rhinos are browsers like the relations,
the zebra and the horse.
They fit in very well in Texas, someone says.
Ecologically, there is little doubt
that rhinos will thrive in Texas.
Texas is perfect, he explained.
How do you move a rhino against his will?
The armadillos have not been consulted.

December, 1984
added, rev. 9/17