Saturday, November 30, 1985

Fragments (garbled text)

This is what happens when ASCII  goes bad
I doubt that I will find the original text.

Missing text but something about Cabo San Lucas
plunges into the sea time 
Cabo San Lucass 
end we cry of the cliff 
rearranged himself slid into the ocean 
it was alive with blue and rose 
up and down the face of the cliffs 
like enormous breathing beast 
one could hear the soft shifting of the sea

November 30, 1985

LA PÁZ (Photos)


Here, in La Páz, the wings of birds
puncture the skin of the sea.
The bite of oleander blossoms
along the malecón remind us of
the proverbs of men and women,
because the birds have nowhere else to go
except for places etched into the walls of caves.

To make the sea, first, one must paint it.

November 30, 1985
La Páz, Baja, Mexico

My lines from a pass around poem at La Perla Restaurant, La Páz, with John Oliver Simon and Julie from Cabo. Maybe someday I'll get around to adding their lines. Or, not.

Baja Journal, La Páz to Cabo 11/30/1985 (photos)

From La Páz to Cabo we travel with Julie and her boyfriend Guillermo in the luxury of her car. No more Tres Estrellas buses with urine rivers from the bathroom running down the aisle.

We stop off at El Truinfo, a small mining town. This place was the original treasure of the Sierra Madre. It's hard to believe that this ghost town was once the largest pueblo in Baja California Sur. French cannons were placed at the base of a goldmine in the 1880s. When the French left, they left the cannons, the pianos, and the tall smokestack designed by Eiffel.

Blue morning glory against the sky, like pale stars. Opuntia, chollas, and giant cardón cactus in bloom—even though December approaches. A cactus with spent blossoms like draped sea anenomes. Strange cirios, or boojum trees twist and writhe every which way, remind me of mad, upside-down carrots. A kind of ocotillo, they're the only member of their genus.

We stop to stretch our legs. Julie says Hello crow, hola cuervo! He observes us with glinty eyes. Cardinals and bluejays: azul y rojo in this stern landscape. To see a cardinal here in the desert is like the shock of seeing the blood- blooming opuntia. This feathered flower flies from bush to bush, an odd ritual of spring on the wing in midwinter. I make a quick drawing of a crested cactus hawk standing sentinel on a large cardón. He has white circles on his underwings, and a banded tail.

We pass skinny cows and talk of tequila. Agave swords. Vultures stand on a dead cow seem to be congratulating each other on finding such superior roadkill.

The next two days are hazy. I am unable to write, but my Spanish comprehension improves in leaps and bounds. I lose my fluency in English. I become non-lingual and write nearly nothing. But I dream in Spanish.

We had a good giggle over the poorly translated menus and La Páz  and Cabo, for example: grabs and clamps crabs and clams. We passed a house made of woven sticks, like a basket, open to the sky. I tell John I want to live there.

At the Tropic of Cancer, near Todos Santos, John sits on top of the big boulder painted white with a blue stripe, to write a poem about an idea in the wilderness but this artificial boundary is a manmade concept. We are here at the wrong time of year to see the sun stand still, directly overhead at its zenith. Tropic means to turn back. The sun is no longer in the constellation of Cancer, but, Taurus. And there he sits on his cement boulder, the bull. No turning back now.

added, rev. 2/18
first two photo scans were from slides, and I thought they were bad. The color negative film, last photo, fared even worse.

Short takes from the Tropic of Cancer

On the autobus, a child in the rearview mirror
looks forward along a paved stretch of desert road,
the mirror always looking backwards
down that long road to the future.

La Páz, Baja, Mexico

The taxi driver who drove us
to Bahia del Coyote
told her young son to be good
or she'd put him out on the highway at night
to let the owls eat him.

Mulegé, Baja, Mexico

At dinner we shared tortuga steak
and picked green seeds from the tree
El Árbol de Fortuna, which is fortune itself,
neither good nor bad.
Under the full moon I saw a man
hanging by the foot
like the fool in the tarot deck.

Mulegé 11/26/85
Baja, Mexico

John sits on the ground
confronts a large boulder
painted limestone white 
with a blue stripe on it
at the Tropic of Cancer 
and he writes a poem
to a manmade concept.

Baja, Mexico

Menus at restaurants
in both La Páz
and Cabo San Lucas 
offered clamps and grabs 
and cramps and calms.
We couldn't stop laughing.

Baja, Mexico

The vulture airs his wings on the cardon cactus
because his ancestors had scales instead of feathers
and the cactus remembers when it was grass.

December 1, 1985
Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico

I want to live in a house
made of woven sticks
open to the wind and sky.

December 1, 1985
Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico


At the gringo bar in Cabo,
I entered, bundled up to my eyes,
in a red Mexican blanket
and black '50s sunglasses.
The gringos all turned to stare.
And when I dropped the disguise,
someone whispered, Oh, she's a gringa!
As if that explained anything.
And they fell back into their beer.

December 2, 1985
La Páz, Baja, Mexico

Thursday, November 28, 1985

Baja Journal, Autobús, Mulegé - Loreto 1125/1985

The old road was made by hand
The cow sleeps under the mesquite
What are you waiting for?
That the ripples of the sea
should weave us a blanket,
a net for our dreams?
At night, the snails compile slow mathematics.
The starfish creep through the twilight.
We're content.
The wind spells itself forward.
The owls sleep in the sun
and devours the darkness.
But there are paths in the water.
The saguaro points to the sky.
The guidebooks didn't show us this,
so let's go, carrying sea turtle shells
on our shoulders.
What more are you waiting for?

Autobús, Mulegé - Loreto 11/28/1985
translated from a collaborative poem written in Spanish with John Oliver Simon and me

Azul del sol
mangroves egrets
el agua se calle
El Viento no sigue
La tortuga no mira
las montañas secas
azlan el viejo
El camino no se llama
por el nombre
las montañas de la muerte
y ellas de la vida
bailan con el autobús
Porque? Preguntalo
al chofer. Las islas
flotan en el aire azul
con las nubes.

Blue sun
mangroves egrets
the water is so silent
the wind follows the sun
the turtle watches
as the dry mountains take flight
and the road calls us by name
the mountains of death
the mountains of life
dancing with the bus
why asks the driver
islands floating in the blue air
with the clouds.

11/25? 29? 1985
I wrote in spanish then translated it.

walking along the malecón at La Páz at sunset

Baja Journal, fire dream, 11/28/1985

Last night I dreamed that there were two worlds. One world for artists and poets and for dark-haired people, and another world for those who ran commerce and were light haired.

We were riding in a bus singing in our dark world. I was with old school friends. One of us realize the driver had abandoned the bus or the trolley and that we were being sent in, a frame up to our deaths. I presume. The situation wasn't much different than that of Nazi Germany.

We jumped out of the moving bus and headed for the creek. Soon, they were searching the woods for us. And one by one, they caught us. I almost escaped detection by hiding behind a waterfall, but one of my friends hidden too near me, gave the hiding place away.

They took us to the summer camp at the Barbano's on Arroyo Rd. in Forest Knolls. I often visit these places of childhood in dreams. And though I tried to keep the secret of being an artist from them—the Nazis? They decided we were expendable after, all and killed us one by one. I was the last artist, and they burned me by fire.

But I was a messenger and we needed to leave some code for those who will come after us. And when the scouts from my world, the dark world, came, they looked through my ashes and found an inscribed Chinese symbol similar to the character for big man.

The secret letter was an ygriega, the Greek Y, or double ll in Spanish. I think it was a symbol of something larger, as a message was carved into the sides of the letter. I know the symbol got into the right hands. I know this because I was there and I saw the carrier exclaim with joy and carry that character back to the other world.

Such strange dreams the world is made of.


Baja Journal, Mulegé, 11/28/85 (photo)

Thanksgiving Day, La Páz, Baja

Well, the best thing to do is to begin writing since little has inspired me since the bus from Tijuana was three hours late. We waited by the the busy roadside in Mulegé, in the predawn light. The moon, it was full enough to burst last night. And so strangely blue. Veinious.

How cold the desert was last night. Across the road, a red truck, the kind used for cattle or for fodder, was parked facing north. Beneath its long body, a roll of plaid blankets. As we approached, the blankets began to shift as arms surfaced from sleep. It was easier to make out the triangular box shape of feet.

Some people were asleep on top of the loaded truck, some were inside. More and more men begin to stir and cough and fart from beneath blankets, draped like serapes. And as it is in the world of men everywhere, they begin unzipping and urinating as the second major act of the day.

The nearly full moon held a frosty circle around it, and our breath made clouds around our faces.

Dawn came like an open gate, rushing across the sky. And stars sunk like lights into the bright azúl sky. The oasis began to take on a distinctive shape as the goats stirred, and the roosters' call became more certain. The hunched cats began to take notice of small pebbles and oddly shaped stones.
One could hear in the distance trucks winding up and down their gear gearboxes. Schoolchildren passed by us, shyly eyeing the exotic gringos. The girls were wearing pale blue and pink skirts with white kneesocks.

The morning wind travels up the valley and rattles the palm leaves in dry arroyos. A muted layer of fog hangs over the river, obscuring the trunks of the palm trees. Their leaves are like crumpled hair above a blank face.

Not knowing the customs of the land, I overpaid the café man for my coffee. He crossed himself and began to exclaim to all the saints, looking incredulously at the two 50-peso pieces. I was startled because he began praying to the electric wires coming out of the wall. It was then I realized that maybe I had overpaid him.

Many of the townspeople passed by us as we waited for the bus to La Páz. The men with the blankets, unloaded several more, and began to neatly fold them into stacks, then placed each stack over a shoulder and walked into town to sell their wares.

I began to paint a watercolor of some palm fan palms. To properly paint this place, one must not exclude the human touch; a parked car, hand-painted sign, etc. That's all part of the scenery here. It takes some getting used to, as so much trash and 20th-century debris is everywhere.

Slowly I begin to realize that most things are indeed recycled, though the road goes through the end of Baja, everything is far enough away from everything else that the average tourist never gets this far.

My Spanish, which was previously nonexistent, except for a couple of years in school, with lessons at less than rewarding results, is improving by the hour.

I switch from English to Spanish and back again and I'm and I'm learning to ask simple questions, and how to pay for things.

The first night, when we arrived in Tijuana what can I say? To have a negative experience in Mexico, a la Tijuana, was a realized nightmare. Squalor, poverty etc. The road from San Diego to Tijuana is a cultural shock I will always remember.

Never having been to Mexico, I have no idea how the money works, and John is less than helpful, being in his own world. So when I went to the bathroom, the matron demanded money of me. First, I couldn't understand what she said, nor how much was needed, and John didn't see it fit to give me any money at all. Things went from bad to worse.

I was miserable on the bus ride to Ensenada, feeling much very alienated and disliking what I saw of Mexico.

After Ensenada, the second bus ride down to the end of Baja, on Tres Estrellas,  restored my sense of adventure, though we pulled into many dismal tiny hamlets after dark, where there was nothing more than a restaurant specially opened for the bus crowd.

Bologna sandwiches, tortillas, carne—the fare of the day. You eat what is presented. No exceptions. The baños have no seats and were little better than pigsties. As we headed south, they improve slightly. I tried not to focus on what was objectionable because one could certainly find enough to get queasy over.

And when we stumbled into Mulegé after a  tedious all-night bus ride, at 6:30 AM, the rare rain had turned the streets into slop that stuck to our feet. And when we pulled into our hospidaje, it felt like I had arrived to the best place on earth. Squashed cockroaches in the bathroom did nothing to improve the outlook.

Our gritty room held three sagging twin beds, with sheets of questionable character. After a much-needed sleep and shower and desayuno—breakfast, things didn't look quite as bad. A broom workover, and by rearranging of furniture I managed to transform this place. The cobalt blue table and chair framed against the coral pink stucco and a nice wooden door livened the place up.

After a walk around the town and the necessary mental adjustment to a lifestyle south of the border, I realized our place was actually pretty clean. The yard was carefully raked. And the cages of songbirds held such sweet music. Canaries and parrots and wild birds. Fincehs gathered around the wild birdcage as if in solidarity. And the cage birds attracted the finches who hopped on the dry mesquite and fan palm fronds.

While the mesquite for the shower heated up the boiler, John, desirous of a cup of coffee, stood on the wet cement and plugged in his immersion heater and proceeded to electrocute himself—not once, but twice—in front of the entire family who observed this transaction stony faced. I couldn't stop laughing.

Last night the lock on the door broke with us inside. John climbed out the window and down the drain pipe. Everyone was gathered around the door conversing excitedly as they tried to undo the lock with a machete. I managed to get the entire door handle off from the inside, but the bolt wouldn't budge. Until they seriously worked it over. No way to lock the door now!

By the time we had left Mulegé, I'm sure they remembered us, and would remember us if we ever passed through here and again in the future.

Wednesday, November 27, 1985



From the guilt of eating turtle steak
we make wild love after dinner
and the snoring from the family next-door
ceases as we rise into reptilian splendor
under the full moon.

Picking my way back from the outhouse
I am startled by darkened eyes sockets
on this cold desert where a wild moon
bleaches bones and eats the night.

A young rooster cries out in a child's voice
for some light in this village.
A passing car toots its horns at shadows.
Beneath a satellite disc moon,
huge, faint shadows of tarpon stir in the river.
Before this road interrupted sleep,
palm trees kept secret dreams.

In sleep, you stir, pulling my hips towards yours.
Each day, from my turquoise necklace,
I give a piece of the sky back.
There is as much future in those stones
around the neck of a woman
as there is in the desert sand.
I cradle the dreams of my grandmother,
fragile as paper, as you gather me in.
Sand in the bed fills our eyes and mouths.

Mulegé, Baja, California

Baja Journal, Horseflesh prose, dream images,11/27/1985

Sometimes when you asleep in my arms, my hand strokes your face. I imagine it to be denuded of flesh and bleached white by weather. My fingers explore your eyesockets, and draw the vague hollows of your skull, rejoice in the alabaster sculpture of jawline where your mustache crawling across teeth is a more recent dream.

I imagine the Bavarian forests and Alsatian horse traders to explain the color of your eyes. I wonder if traces of the Neanderthal could be found hidden in that Cro-Magnon suture of your skull. Somewhere near the brown line which an ancestor gave you, your eyebrows, the traces of hair on your ears, along with the drum of your skull or the wrinkle gray folds of matter, the future and the past lie hidden.

At dinner we share tortuga steak and pick seeds from the tree of fortune—after a fight. Only later, do I realize vagaries of the free of fortune, el Árbol de la Fortuna offers both good and bad luck.

Last night under the nearly full moon, in the small village, we passed a hanged man, or, a replica of a hanged man. I assume it was from the tree of life? Surely not the real thing. And I think of not of death, or the thievery of a murder, but of the fool—as in the tarot cards, the fool hanging by one foot.

We make wild love after dinner, perhaps it's from the guilt of eating turtle steak. Or our first fight under the full moon. The family next-door ceases their snoring, as we rise and fall in reptilian splendor into the night, under that full moon.

Making my way to the bathroom, I was startled by the faces of the family next-door. Their eyes were dark without sight.

This cold dust bleaches the bones. This wild moon eats the night. A quivering child's voice begging, drowning his baby sorrow in tears, he weeps for the return of the sun.

A lone car honks its horn. This village had never heard such things a decade ago, before there was a road here. Mulegé kept to itself. And now it's modern with satellite discs, and hot water showers or heated by ocotillo and mesquite. A prison, and tourists.

The transplanted tongue of Spanish begins to slip in and undermine the native tongues. I wonder what languages were once spoken at this oasis? The old mission is more like a stone-age castle than a church.

At the plaza where we sleep, there are sand drifts, like water currents on the thick floor, the Mexican tourist blankets are thick with soap. This is a land of precious water—even at the oasis. A school of tarpon, or tortora, swim in the dammed river, huge faint shadows of green beneath the pools.

The unlucky cockroaches are squashed by guests visiting el baño, the bathroom. The rest of the tribe are hidden within the plumbing. It's utter squalor. But after a day of touring the streets of Mulegé, it seems like home.

I begin to notice different things: how this yard is cleaner than the others, and how the earth is so close to us here. The sand in our bed is waiting to fill our eyes while we sleep. Who's to say the sandman isn't Father Death after all?

You turn towards me in sleep and pull my hips toward you, still snoring, your even breath, at the base of my neck.

Each day, from the dowry of my turquoise necklace, I give a piece of the sky back. Each time you tell me of your love for me, I think there is as much future in the sky and in the stars, than this necklace hung around the neck of a woman, as old as as time. A turquoise noose around her neck, on her birthday,as the desert sand tries to bury us.

During the night, you told me that I spoke of wedding bells, and I said Buy them back.

We are wedded to ourselves, after all. I dreamed my grandmother, fragile as paper, she was helpless and I cradled her in my arms. At that moment I realized that I am also my grandmother.

November 27,1985
Full moon in Mulegé, Baja California
added 2/18, slightly revised for clarity
This first draft of HORSEFLESH was was written in the dark, or in the moonlight, while I was half asleep.

Monday, November 25, 1985

GARDEN, ENSENADA two poem fragments


I am not Lilith alone in the garden.
I did not spring from your mind
full-blown, like Athena.
Some things are best learned,
one foot in front of the other.
Don't leave me lost in the dark.
If you are a good teacher
I will learn to love this place
that is a part of you.

I don't know


Plastered across the storefront window
of a plumber's shop in Ensenada,
the arts section of a San Diego newspaper
with a color photo of a new sculpture
by Claes Oldenburg, of a giant tube
called Toothpaste.

I don't know
added, rev. 2/18

Sunday, November 24, 1985


At Camp Pendleton John stops to take a piss.
US govt. signs warn of eminent arrest 
for stopping or loitering here
& I imagine a military patrol in the bushes
waiting for the weak-bladdered.
We pass Ground Zero.
Truncated towers, multi-armed monsters
march east across Highway 101 from San Onofre.
I try on the round sounds. Onofre. Laguna.
La paloma, pigeon/dove es la verdad.
In Spanish there is no distinction between the two.
Open chord progressions of birds 
sit in arpeggios upon the scored lines
leading from San Onofre to the heartland.
John says, “All across the country 
these reactors are dormant bombs 
waiting for a fuse."
Huge heart-shaped bells 
strung from the power lines
labor silently in the wind.
San Clemente



Hung over & 
headed for Mexico 
in a rented car,
we try and outrun the rain
& the bleary weight of ourselves,
alone, and with each other,
after the wedding.
Today, at the age of 33,
I’m as old as Christ, before he died.
John weaves turquoise stones,
flecks of a jealous sky, around my neck
and says, “In 50 years I’ll be an old man,
will you still want me then?”
I say: “I have trouble
separating myself from childhood,
and the child within asks,
”Where do the wild birds
go when it begins to rain?” 
I hide the blue stigmatas
burning on my palms.

slightly rev. 2/17
San Clemente

Saturday, November 23, 1985


—for Brian & Nancy, 11/23/85

Late afternoon wedding.
The courtyard of Mission San Juan Capistrano
harbors no swallows--only bleak mud nests.

On the bare tree, the one white pigeon stirs the flock
and like grey leaves bursting into flight, they circle and bank
as guests enter the narrow timbered adobe chapel,
whitewashed walls lean heavily toward the sea,
dim green light broken into patterns by the windows of saints.
A white satin carpet is unrolled for Brian & Nancy.
Behind a flurry of veils, the kiss, the rings we can’t see.

The guitar strings whisper, the mariachi band readies itself.
And the final words of the padre, “In 50 years
I will come to bless you again. Look for a small white bird.
All this recorded on video; seafoam and dark shadows.

As the last chord fades, we leave the church
barely able to look at each other
but our white-knuckled fingers and damp palms
reassure us of our existence.
John mimics my left-handed sign-of-the-cross
The nuns said it was the sign of the devil.

Our car horns stir the pigeon flock
into another cloud of frenzied flight.
We run the red lights. Cars at weddings
and funerals have right-of-way.

At the San Clemente Beach Club
the wedding party reconvenes.
In this bastion of America, pinstripe suits
mingle with down jackets and nikes.
I imagine behind each face, a mask,
behind each palm tree, a dark stranger.

Each day John pins to his breast
the lapis heart I gave him.
In ritual there is comfort.
But this makes me uneasy.
Someone sings Danny Boy
& Brian’s mother cries
the same way my aunt does.

The storm front pushes down on the sea
until the horizon is swallowed.
We take armfuls of red carnations out into the night
& slide drunkenly between Brian & Nancy’s sheets
as if this were our honeymoon instead.
Dark petals stain the sheets & the rain comes down.

San Clemente

Friday, November 22, 1985



After running into Jim Duran at LAX,
we're surprised to find we both know him.
I know him as Seamus, and John, as Jaime.
We yelled out in unison Seamus/Jaime, to Jim,
and turned to each other and laughed.
We agree  to meet up later for dinner at Palo Verde,
and the reading at The Laguna Poets, followed by open mike.
Some of it was dark, dark and richly green, a la Roethke,
or James Wright. Terry Kennedy, Richard Weekley.
I said: Women can't get away with that kind of language,
it sounds too banal. We want something meatier with hips.
Another poet reads a diatribe about the IRA. I cringe.
John writes in my notebook, verde te quiero verde—Lorca
If she talks about horror, I'll scream, please don't say...
The horror, the horror—wrote Joseph Conrad.
See? Already the Belgian Congo is a cliché, said John.
Neo-colonialism and confessional poetry at its best / worst.
Speaking of darkness... We have no place to sleep.
I can't reach my cousin in Laguna Beach.
I ask John, Do we have a place to duerme?
He says not to worry. if nothing turns up.
we'll go to a motel and make like rabbits.

Voyager Inn, Laguna Beach
added/rev. 2/17

Laguna Poets reading (prose)
Remembering Jim Duran, (Séamas Ó Direáin)

Thursday, November 21, 1985

At Jack Grapes' Place, LA

At Jack Grapes Place, LA

Outside the window
a woman in a car checks her watch,
fixes a button, clasps a book to her bosom,
checks her hair, sets the book down,
gets out of the car, picks up the book…
As I stare out between window and screen,
feeling like I'm in a Truffaut movie,
the camera pans away from the car
to my face, the lower half hidden from view,
as John plays Handel on the recorder.

* * *
At sunset in a strange city
in a strange  house,
Jack and Lori asleep.
I'm shaking twilight from my bones
while John turns on
the garbage disposal unit,
looking for light

* * *
From under his fingertips
notes from Handel slip out
so achingly pure in my ears.

* * *
Distant crackle of newspaper from the kitchen
the sound of a memory being disturbed.


San Francisco to LA, Baja bound (journal)

San Francisco to LA, Baja bound 11/21/1985

The earth's skin stretches along the fault from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas. We follow the San Andreas Fault across the brown reaches of wrinkled skin, from Point Reyes to LA. Stark silhouettes of hills, highlighted razorbacks, an early sun.

 White Sierra peaks compete with low valley clouds, for sky.

Fault lines below us, as if the land were formed by a giant finger, dipped in melted chocolate, then lifted up, leaving sharp ridges of serrated earth. In contrast to the checkerboard grid on Central Valley farms.

An occasional ridge of clouds like an errant river patterned after the ridges  it crosses, a bridge of clouds.

In the distance, Telescope Peak, the farthest ridge, the White Mountains, Death Valley and the white snow fields near Mount Whitney.

To the south called, where the Sierras ease westward to join the coastal mountains, isolated peaks float in a white sea, denser clouds shore up at the edges of the Tehachepis. A faint dusting of snow against the blueblack ridges.
From this height, most color is lost, drained of essence. Like a standing wave, a bank of clouds rolls back from the steep cliffs and mountains.

Clouds enhance their shapes. The snow gathers like herds of lost sheep on the north sides and at the crest.

We begin our descent into LA. Trees become individual fly specks, no longer the dense mats of vegetation of  of the north.

Wave after wave of hills and dark silhouettes like the tracings of red mind on a gray sea, sediment in  tortured swirls. One can almost feel the tortured land screaming with adolescent growing pains.
Hills give way to the eroded faces, mostly to the south, where the sun soothes it out like smoke. A winding arroyo filled with boulders, and Franciscan mud gullies washed out to the sea by infrequent rains. Smog mingles with errant clouds that cowl San Gregornio, San Joaquin, and Mount Baldy.

Way off, a distant white peak somewhere in Nevada. Mt. Charleston?

LA sticks its dirty head through the clouds, herringbone grids of parked cars mesh on the flat desert sink.

The Pacific takes salty bites out of the saline desert. We fly through the vapor strung between clouds like laundry.

Above the bright turquoise sea, and below the gray washed business of cities, threaded by the complicated snakes of freeways.

John says the LA smog is nothing. When you fly into Mexico City, it's like you're flying into a bowl of soup. I am not looking forward to that.

John memorizes poems for tonight's meeting. I interrupt him again for verification of San Gregornio, brilliant, white, like a crack crack between worlds.

In this muted light, the LA River grid is a flat glistening aqueduct of concrete running due west, wide in places for the seasonal flash floods, otherwise a narrow braided river channel for the steadier flow, two rivers in one. Grid of main street and the irregular patterns of freeways, more like the path of the river and the river itself.

For one short block, besides each green postage-stamp lawn, liquid amber pushes its blaze of leaves toward the concept of fall.

In this city of deserts, metallic tweed of cars interspliced with grade wisps of rude and introduces the complexities of commerce to a place where creosote bushes once kept a generous living distance between each other each other.

A ragged line of trees, mostly eucalyptus, modestly covers a low-lying ridge near the airport. It reminds me of the banks along the Russian River or perhaps the Sacramento River. On those hot days of pavement, a distant memory of water wavers a mirage of mirrored oases.

Along this stretch, the land still remembers the shape of the inland sea.

enroute, in the air
added 2/17

Laguna Poets reading

Enroute to Cabo, we have a stopover in LA for a couple of readings.

11/21 Reading at the Cafe Cultural with John Oliver Simon and Rubén Martínez, then dinner with Lori and Jack Grapes, Rubén, and Sergio? We brainstorm CPITS and CAC residencies over meals.

It turned out John and I both knew Jim Duran separately. He called Jim Jaime whereas I called him Seamus. We once ran into each other in LAX enroute to Guatemala. John yelled Jaime while I yelled Jim, and Seamus simultaneously. We turned to each other and laughed.

On the even of JFKs assassination, we met up for dinner in Palo Verde, discussing linguistics and poetry, the origins of language and the uniqueness of  Irish language structure. We must've bought something expensive. Dinner was $34 plus tip.

Then we went to the Laguna Poets Reading Series. Terry Kennedy and Richard Weekly read. Then John and me. I also read some of my kid poems, distributed copies of ARC, and met the editor of Cal State Poetry Quarterly who wanted to publish some of my work. We set up another reading for next summer.

My cousin Eddie Walsh wasn't at home in Laguna Beach, a small hovel in the basement of an apartment complex (he must've been in Hawaii), so we rented a room at the Voyager Inn, and I bought Seamus Heaney's Sweeney Astray, reading about mad Sweeney over breakfast at Benny the Bum's Diner. Mad checkered tile floor and walls, like something from Nighthawks.

This is how I celebrated my birthday, among poets. We headed south to Solana Beach and crossed the border, headed for Cabo.

Added, rev. 9/17

Remembering Jim Duran, (Séamas Ó Direáin)

Saturday, November 16, 1985



The blizzard enters into this room
making my bones white.
The door to the right hip bone
opens into a howling snowfield.

These spaces between teeth echo 
in dark corridors.
I climb the night sky
where the ice of Saturn circles
for millenia on end.
Chrysanthemums on dark velvet.
November running low on the eastern sky.
Loosened arrows 
invade the heart.
Torrent after torrent.
Rain on my roof.
I remember each dress my grandmother made me.
And this deep season
like buzzing of flies in late afternoon,
dry rattle of corn harvested in late fall.
Thinking of death.
When we rode the Clydesdales to the river
bareback, & without a bridle.

rev 7/7/94


The door to the right hip bone
opens into a howling snowfield.
The blizzard enters into this room
making my bones white.
These spaces between teeth
echo in dark corridors.
I climb the night sky
where the ice of Saturn circles
for millennia on end.
Chrysanthemums on dark velvet.
November running low on the eastern sky.

I subtract another year from my death date.
Loosened arrows invade the heart at any age.
Torrent after torrent.
Rain on my roof.
Deep under blankets
I remember each dress my grandmother made me.
And this deep season
like buzzing of flies in late afternoon,
dry rattle of corn harvested in late fall.
Thinking of death
when we rode the Clydesdales to the river
& without a bridle.


Poem for attracting wild money CPITS lesson

John tells the class, Write a charm poem for attracting wild money based on Marge Piercy's CHARM FOR ATTRACTING WILD MONEY Use three words per line, don't use words with money, repeat last line until something comes in your head, or changes your strategy.

Somehow I don't think this lesson worked for me. On the other hand, my first draft of TENGO DINERO is on the very next page of my journal. It took a couple of weeks to jell, but it's definitely related.

Money coincides with
means and ends
Can't stop what
ends, think of
the cactus mind
the mind's eye
Vortex of storm
Zing zing zing
Electrical impulses and
written expression on her
red and black socks
and plaid skirt
Like a fairytale
and I wait
for morning fog
to burn off,
all this red
Can we go on
from this place?

Try to write three
words per line or
use one image per line

rustling bay leaves
cat coated fog feet
a nest of hills
a narrow winding road
sheep eclipsed by rock
no more Carneros.

Green gravid fields gathering cinnebar
Cambiar black and red and green on white
white sheets and green fields.
Cover the bank floors with grass,
straw bedding for the animals,
bed down in fragrant green commerce
because there's no room at the inn.

Bright star horizoned above the vault
and Jack felt like playacting
when his friend and said
bang bang you're dead.

CPITS workshop with JOS

Tuesday, November 12, 1985



The script of flowing water
over my bones dissolves
beneath subterranean fires.
Lorca could do no better
with dry oranges under a full moon.
Neruda's rabbits and elephants
are saving up all their questions
for the city of the dead.
Who would have guessed
these things would occur in Macondo,
a fictional swamp?

A hundred years the ship sailed
she sailed between storms,
this sea seeps into the underworld
and we are tired of waiting for caves
to yield the stone figures and potsherds
thus naming us for civilization
The shoes I shed so my feet will leave
a clear impression on damp soil.



The bear by my side
snores, I untangle my fingers
from his pelt.
He's not too eager to leave
this nest we've made.
As he yawns I can see
the sharpness of his teeth.



Oh, tent of darkness
billowing from the door
The bent rays of  sunlight
like fishhooks fashioned from light
captures the sobs of the moon.
Silver in my pocket catches this night
and throws it on the shore behind us
like there was no tomorrow.
Look how the moonlight drips
from his shoulder.
I could drink from him all night.


Friday, November 8, 1985


     Tuang is the color of unexpected voyages
      to unknown lands and forgotten worlds.
                     —Otto-Raúl González

This hologram, a rainbowed relief
a vibrating spectrum
a band of each invented color
separated from the matrix of imagination.
The child's cranium suspended in air
like water caught in a flat world
of silvered paper and lasered light.


These footprints asleep
beneath the slow horizon
The sunrise is red in the swamp.
Volcanic ash sifting through the air
blankets the earth with a fine silk cover.
How our feet sink into ash
Soft grit of pulverized rock.
I pause for a moment
to look back toward the river.