Monday, February 23, 1987

Prior claim


A turmoil of images bombarded me when I got home. As I drove down Nicasio Road, I reached for pen and paper but instead grabbed a dull kitchen knife. Then I grabbed a pencil with no lead. Then I grabbed the gauge for the tires, all apt symbols.

My neck collar prevents me from seeing what I am writing. And I hold onto connected fragments that I'm not able to record. Only to lose them all. No placeholders.

I drive by RuccaRucca Ranch, and am flooded with memories. The first time I rode Frankie's horse around Nicasio Reservoir, she was so sure it was alive, she was shivering, and it was all I could do to get her to walk along the fire road. We sat around in the kitchen drinking strong coffee and smoking dope while Jerry and Micky jammed in the living room.

I think of the Grateful Dead and the obscene amount of money they used to buy that land. I loved their music, and can recite all the names of the rock stars in the Valley, the Grateful Dead Jefferson Starship, Santana. But when their records sold, they suddenly had lots of money, and they bought up chunks of the land. And our taxes went up.

We smoked dope and danced at RuccaRucca Ranch but underneath it all I never allowed myself to be seduced by it all. Perhaps this is why I refused to buy their records in the first place. I was a conscientious objector.

Last night, Jane was raging on about communism, while we were there protecting them, they were taking our freedom. I ask, what has to do with Nicaragua? I am apolitical. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Byron. We are all suspect. I believe my friends in Nicaragua are telling the truth, and the truth has many faces.

I had forgotten how loudly the pine trees roar when the north wind circles the valley. Or how the stars look more correct framed by this particular fold of hills, or how difficult it is to write left-handed.

Over Pt. Reyes Road, while writing this down, a finite shifting of gears, wordplay and interplay make both writing and driving barely possible. I have a hard time going home it's even harder to leave west with the night. Beryl Markham wrote: if you have to leave home, do it swiftly, go as far as you can, and never come back.

I am even more enraged when my rage toward my mother softens. She reaches over me to dip her hands into the sunlight from the south window. I think my hatred is so thick sometimes it clots the air. She says she gets depressed when she can't go outside.

The wind howls, and catches itself on the corners of the house and in the hexagonal sieves of the chickenwire fence outside. I am a spy here. Taking notation. This disengages me from some of the rage.

All of the new owners of this land, part of which I hold a shared trust in, on a piece of paper for unbuildable allotment of land that I want to return to, and can never seem to leave behind.

So many strangers have grown into their justified rights of ownership. There's a new no trespassing sign on the corral gate. Is it  meant for us we who actually own the land, by our very years here, have prior claim, or do the newcomers?

These newcomers have been here a while now, these strangers who can never fathom the memories I hold. Horse Hill, the old hitchingpost, now someone's faux castle. On the path by Arroyo Creek where I rode by my horse in summer, now has three new houses—three white elephants rising huge in Bianchi's field. I feel physically ill by their presence. This progress we measure by planting massive houses over the green fields of the past.


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