Friday, January 24, 1986

At Peter Nabakov's cabin in the Carmel Highlands

John says that I sat up last night in my sleep and I said an eloquent, polished paragraph on why I was afraid. I do remember sitting up and what I said as being lucid and clear, but I can't remember what I said. John doesn't tell me.

I remember seeing the orange juice container in the semi darkness under the full moon and the color, like the edge of an oil pastel stick, seem to float right off the bottle and come out past me. That's when I leapt up and discoursed theories on this deep subconscious fear that I have. But what is it?

I remember talking about the universe, traveling to constellations, well etherized. John asked me if this fear had anything to do with relationships. I said yes and no.

Yes, a deep fear is surfacing, and yes I'm afraid of the outcome, because of my mother's madness. Logically, I know her insanity is not congenital, not inherited, but tell my psyche that. 

Was it because I wore pearls to bed? Ah, the moonlight on the trees. Distant sigh of the ocean.

The last time I was in Monterey I was with sweet old Bob, an ex-boyfriend. Being here again with John has loosened some of those fears from their moorings. 

January 24, 1986

CPITS workshops Asilomar, freewrites

The magician of the North
pointed past
the industrious planets
snapping in a hungry rage.

1/24/1986 Asilomar
from word cards
workshops with JOS and MH

during the steep night
the owl shift seasons with the moon
the ruddy sky seems to slip up
from the western faces of the equinox
when can we pass this way again
calling out names like cattle
in sunlit meadows
tearing at grass
as if it were the last handhold
left on the sliding earth?

Who is this beast breathing beside me
like a long forgotten ancestor
coming up for recognition in the night
to give me new colors for dreams
to shake me from the cradle
where breathing came from beneath
the skin of the ocean?



Sunlight surreptitiously
slips out to reveal the age of green.
Tattered cannibals
devour the darkness.
The beast arises from the swamp.
Dust beneath, dust above,
pale green blooms on leaves
like fragile green,
like a rough tongued cat
or a satisfied roundness
in the palm of the hand.

We need half moons
in symmetric repetitions.

Why so sweet
why so yellow
why so sun
why so moon?

Civilizations rise and fall
by the edge of this fruit.


Under the banks of the river
silvered with the coinage of fish
Who can ask the gypsies how not to line
the edge of the moon?
Who sobs for untold fortunes
and greased lightning
to increase the weight of the sky?
Dreams crackle like freshly minted bills
hot off the press
rubbed between the palms

sounds like it's another take on Tengo Dinero

Tuesday, January 21, 1986

Dream Notes & Fish Boxes

Dreams I haven't recorded

Last night I realized that the goddess of green light came to stand up my bed it wasn't just the dark menace. Once I saw myself there, I was no longer afraid.
When I put my hands out to touch her, they went through the grass green substance. I slept better the rest of the night.

That night, I realized I never told my dream self that I had sold my ponies in real life. That's why they never appeared in my dreams of horses. So many dreams of horses.
Sometimes I ride them
Sometimes I can't find them
Sometimes they die in my dreams

I dreamt my horse dropped out from under me, having pushed himself too hard, and he died. I was afraid to tell the doctor who owns a horse, that I had killed him, because I didn't pull him up to rest, as we went to the top of the hill to the spring.

John says write your dreams always – they hold the keys. I've done little writing other than revision and art projects. It seems hard to write poems when I am revising or making art.

I've been making fish boxes out of Morilla Board watercolor paper. Tropical fish rendered on cubes suspended from fishing line from the ceiling. So far, I have five boxes. The turn in the breeze and remind me of the sea.

I also made two valentine fish heart postcards for the Sonoma State Valentine Art Auction, and signed them With love from the Tropic of Cancer. I scribed my poems on the surface like cuneiform. Years from now, someone will puzzle over it. (William Babula, the Dean of Humanities, bought it.)

I played around with poem and visual art with plastic typewriter ribbons. I took a red light bulb and wrapped it up in the Canon Typestar typewriter ribbon upon which I thad typed a poem of mine, Lighting the Electric Fire. You can unwind the ribbon and read it too. 

The second poem/art piece was Merwin's Inlet also typed on typewriter ribbon film wrapped around a broken conch shell. 

The third typewriter ribbon piece, Ascent of Man, was wrapped around the bleached leg bone of a cow. I hung all three pieces from the ceiling like a mobile. The ribbon was like a black mummy shroud. 

I don't know the significance of it all, but it pleases me to see the poems on the plastic tape. Something that would otherwise be discarded.

January 21 1986

Friday, January 17, 1986

First Draft of Bob Kaufman poem, Mantle

               April 18, 1925 to Jan 12, 1986

Bobby, this whole week 
I've been looking for you 
stumbling down Telegraph, 
darkened streets and alleyways
Every bent head, every ragged step 
it drags sleep across 
the shadows of pushers
Your dark face in the darkness 
The news travels slowly 
in the time it took God to make the earth, 
you died and there's Jack on stage 
reading a poem to you,
dead all this week.

Jan 12, or 17? 1986
first journal entry is 2/3/86, but it was originally written on a napkin at Cafe Triest

see Bob Kaufman poem



Intent on their newspapers
they read with furrowed brows.
The white man is reading a lingerie catalog.
The black man is reading about ML King.
The same brow ridge repetitions.
What forests we did we climb out of?
This jungle of desire.

Jan 12, or 17? 1986
CAC workshops, SF

Thursday, January 16, 1986

ANY GIVEN MAGIC (Carolyn Lau workshop)


Living in present time
This lump of earth 
makes fine red marks 
on the cave walls.
This one makes the colors 
of spring pine pollen.
This burned wood works best 
if it is burned slowly.
These marks here represent teeth.
This is for the sun.
See how it follows the arc of the moon?
And that northstar 
brightens every fourth day. 
This window overlooks utter blackness
Stars, such infinite wanderers, 
yet fixed in their orbits.
You can see the blur of distant novae 
there in the center of the night sky 
No, it's not your eyes 
blurring in the coldness.
I have taken photos of the moon 
under the eclipse.
It sheds its skin like a molting snake.
Sometimes it's red, sometimes blue.
Did you know that the rainbow 
lives in snakes' eyes?
Color that bison in more 
now, add black. 
Given magic
This cold eats our bowlines, 
this hearth fire, a place to sleep
This afterglow, 
this dying ember of the earth. 

From Carolyn Lau's dance poetry workshop 
CAC workshop, I worked with Luisa Tish

imagine yourself being in two worlds, the past and the present, or the present at the future, at the same time. Use rhythm, music, imagination, plan to sing one line in the class.

Friday, January 10, 1986



What small hands
have pulled at that bit
what balancing children
have leaned forward
to catch the brass ring
and what jaunty tune played
on the calliope of the mind?

O horse of joined wood
painted with a lion's tail,
who holds the bit without reins
between wooden teeth
while I hold him firm
between my runaway

Oakland Museum
added, rev. 3/18

Thursday, January 9, 1986

3 Freewrites

My revolution is a synonym of arguing
but my youthful virgin eyes turn with the sun
and the karma of mutineers and thieves
hailing us, lonely for the cultural palaces,
laden with pretensions and validations
of villas and money and mantillas.
Soon there will be a Taj Mahals in every yurt
and on the killing fields, only the Russians
laden with raiments of politics,
will slice open the heart of the country
under an ancient earth.


No school today again.
Herefords wary of our methods
meander away from us.
They say his mother was worried
because the wilderness father saw
goshawks dipping from the ladle of the sky.
Who arrested the sun for idolizing itself?
The black bear awakens from slumber.
I think: heart and health, hailing stipends
in the motherland, firmly folded
in monosyllabic words
dripping day after day.



Enclose your yards with words,
close your mind to syllables,
count the vowels moaning
in the deepest throat of the night.

Independent drugs on Thursdays
will provide nothing as usual.
it is necessary to offset the cost.
There is no end to this relief.

Memories slip under the cogs
and movie star voices trespass
through thin hotel walls
to enter the surreal stirrup
of sound in the ear canal.

But the instant ocean of sand at our feet
continues its cease and surcease.
The fan palm outside the window stands vigil,
keeps rhythm to the sound of rain.

added, rev. 3/18

Wednesday, January 8, 1986



Towering mountains, sleepy clouds.
In Nachita's hospidaje, against the coral walls
is a cobalt bench where John sits
playing Schuman on the recorder.

The wild birds stop to listen
to this strange kindred singing
in their sultry desert after rain
in Nachita's courtyard. 

Palm trees under the stars
beat a staccato in the breeze,
tarpon asleep in the river, shadows
rise and fall to the beat of the fronds.

This is Mulegé in winter. A small backwater.
The slow green edges of palm fronds
slice color into the water, it blushes,
and the lagoon talks back to the sky.

At sunset, the dark triangle of a man
immersed in a book, hunkers down on a peak
overlooking Nachita's courtyard.
Pale yellow lines in the muddy streets
open like a musical score sheet.

The first rain notes in this desert are soft.
A woman tells her small son to be good
or the owls of the highway
will eat him during the night

She says, this is the first of three rains
that comes each winter. Mark it well.
The earth is drunk, on a trinity of rain,
and soon the ocotillos will catch fire.



Like seasonal birds
the feathered fingers of the lagoons
fan out and caress the orchards and crops
and what's left of the summer grasses.

The gray green rumble of vines
on the forest floor awaken, and twig
fingers yank strands of my hair
for bird souvenirs.

In and out of the circles, we move
like planets, the heave and cry of cycles
quailing at the headman, these stars
have drenched the sky with their tears.

The night brings apparitions
veiled against the darkness.
The comet emerges from behind the sun
with its tail between its legs
like there was no tomorrow.

Some code on the board, archaic numbers.
But the rivers were here first,
long before there were mountains.
What of the ancient riverbeds,
now a cobbled field?

added, rev. 3/18

Three Transliterations from Rilke's Vorgetful

      —after RIlke

Shadows carry us through the hard times
when the sky falls, and the moon fills
with green leaves like quaking cottonwoods.
With this verdant light comes hope,
clusters of sunlight fill the sky.
Sunlight so bright that it shatters the darkness
into mirrored shards and light surpasses stars
chasing them through eons of space and time;
time which cannot be brought back to itself.
Ah, to catch the world in the palm of the hand.
Shadows dissolve, and the souls of gods
reincarnate in the glistening rivers
which once stood for time indefinite.


     —from Rilke's Vorgetful

I've been waiting in a frenzy
but underneath the slick exterior
I am the dying wind
falling under the spell of the music of love
while wandering the knotted trails
along the cliffs of the Dingle Peninsula
under the suchness of night
that magic was afoot.
The crenulated turrets teething the wind
are keening, and the red deer stands
frozen in time, the forest slips into the night
and the sun no longer shines.
The well is silent in the storm
and the tall egrets look out to sea like sailors.
One bright glance might let them fall behind,
and the wives without the strength of gazelles
will always gaze into those green trees.



When clusters of sunlight
shatter the darkness into fifths
the shadows of the moon
carries us through the hard times.
The moon fills up with green leaves
and time cannot be brought back to itself.
Shadows dissolve and the gods
have reincarnated in the ageless rivers.
With the light comes hope.

MWS Mrs. Milia's class
added, rev. slightly 3/18
fake translations

Wednesday, January 1, 1986


On the white mountain of sheets
with the washing machine chugging
women's voices filled the air
and all that reference to she
the soothing sounds of ocean
and I learned it was a name for me
as if I wasn't there
I thought myself invisible
all that sssshhhh like
sleep in the afternoon
I could hear the white paint on my face
giving away secrets
Me, eater of white paint
in search of the small glass vial
of ice cream so magical
it never needed the polar north
of iceboxes to keep it firm,
and the burning white coat
coating my tongue
Baba baba baby in the laundry pile
eater of paint
making a metaphor of white
the handwriting of the x
not quite formed
the shape of writing
marking the spot
to sculpt writing from the white field
and later, small dark stains on sheets
once the flame of full blown roses
in midday sun
bringing death into the house
my grandfather going to the hospital
carrying a suitcase
who wouldn't let me come with him
and I wondered about the need for suitcases
in the world to come
There is something so still, so timeless
about midwinter light
a tangible quality that almost hangs in the air
like the sharp scent of bay or sage
and the slow shaping of all this white
toward the lucid scrawl of writing


The weight of this poem... (collaborative poem with JOS)

The weight of this poem in air
floats away & away from the world
to settle in the outfields of the
unicorn whose syllables are
like steel teeth ready to
nibble on the cookie of your ear
in front of some sweet
flower or sunrise or factory
or even on this mountain where
nothing is real except
the air, and even the air
is heavier than this poem.

Maureen Hurley & John Oliver Simon

no idea as to date, but probably late 1985. Or 86.
I'll never know—unless I find the original in a journal.
so I'm adding it to 1/1/86, as 1986 has so few poems.

added 11/16



Who is this beast breathing beside me
Like some long forgotten ancestor
Coming for recognition in the night
To give me new colors for dreams
That continue to shake me from the cradle
Where breathing came from
Beneath the skin of the ocean



Returning from the mountains
I find poems taped to my fridge,
Words left to do their work
like an invocation
or a long, slow seduction
in case climbing the mountains
wasn't enough.



Who will ask the gypsys how to line the edge of the moon
Who sobs for untold fortunes and greased lightning
to increase the weight of the sky
where dreams crackle like fresh dollar bills
The river is silvered with the coinage of fish
Wait cloud, a winter rooster wants to dance in the sun  


don't know when

Herb Kohl: poetry is wonderful

Herb Kohl: poetry is wonderful
in that we speak different languages
in the heart, the body,
the soul of the people.




Who will ask the gypsys how
to line the edge of the moon
with silver borrowed from the dead?
Who sobs for untold fortunes
and greased lightning to increase
the weight of the sky
where dreams crackle
like fresh dollar bills?
The river is silvered
with the coinage of fish.


Fish postcard, "Love from the Tropic of Cancer," watercolor, collage on morillaboard

Love from the Tropic of Cancer, 1986

The Dean of Humanities at Sonoma State University, William Babula, bought this piece. I was pretty chuffed, and also sad to see it go. This is a hand-colored black and white xerox, as I didn't have a photo of it. It came out of my journey to Cabo San Lucas with John Oliver Simon in 1985. I had originally made it for him (I made him another one) but I also needed a piece to enter the art show (due at the beginning of January, hence the post date.)

I also made a series of morillaboard fish boxes into a mobile that turned and swam in the slightest breeze.

This project eventually morphed into my large silk poem posters. But it all began here. With this piece.

FWIW, I am posting my art in January (art hearts) or December (all the rest of my art) as there usually isn't a firm date associated with any of it. It's easier for me to find my art that way. If I was traveling, and the art was in my poetry journal, then I have a solid date, and have embedded the art in the journal entry.