Thursday, July 2, 1987

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 2

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Day 9

7/2, Thursday.


I wanted to wander in the field of chicory 
and pluck enough petals 
to fill my life with blue 
and the sky would come down 
to see what it had lost, 
to reclaim a part of itself, 
to reclaim its small silken self.

(chickory on 101)

Jacqueline Campos' class, we read poems and I asked them what they knew about the sky. Squirrely boys. I had to lean on them. One new kid belligerently refuse to work, so I took his I don't know…  attitude as a starter line. And we made a poem out of it. A busy class. I can make them work and like it. But it's not always easy.

Barry wanting attention, was frustrated because I wasn't available. We got into a confrontation because his frustration was focused on me. Quick to anger, I refused to be coerced into being responsible for his frustration. It wasn't pleasant. 

We scheduled a time as a means to problem solve the situation. He was still angry, and we weren't using the time productively so I needed to move away. Later, he calmed down and we worked it out.

Peter came in to say good morning in the midst of all this. I really felt Barry was trying to monopolize my time and  I get that he really wanted to work with me when he came in. That I was otherwise engage, must've been frustrating for him. I get it, but there's only one me. Ship of fools. What ticked me off was when he said I'm not getting enough of your time. Partially understanding it and partially a monopolization of my time. 

Patricia said that's the  Q 2–1 Ward for you, the center of the universe. What I should've said,was,  I'm sorry you're frustrated but I haven't got much time. Also, I had no idea he was waiting for me. So much for that.

Meanwhile, John G did do a poem for me in the morning. He said that morning was his best time, right after he woke up. He handed it to me with no demand on my time. After I cooled off we talked about his poem. Physics, the bomb—we looked up the physics and talked about neutrinos and quarks in the electromagnetic spectrum. I learned how a microwave works and why radio waves are less harmful than x-rays. 

A young Chinese boy tied down to a wheelchair paces the aisles and stacks like a hungry tiger. His hands are constrained in round white mittens, like saucers, like animal paws. Unable to pick out a book, let alone turn the pages, what utter frustration. But he was an at risk patient. He proceeded to tell me a poem in two and three line

Earl E came over, ever gentle, and ever polite; he said he wasn't very together in the morning. Sorry he missed our meeting time. 

The afternoon appointments are canceled due to 4 July games to be held on the second of July. 

Erica, Patricia's supervisor, wants me to mingle, and get to know people. I make plans to meet Earl outside the library at 3 PM. We have so little time left only four more sessions. The little mini sessions in between, like today, really help a lot. 

Yesterday when Earl read his work from last week, about the nuclear bomb home, he didn't recognize it. He adde that he liked it so much, then he asked who wrote it. He was so surprised when I told him that it was his poem.

What am I going to leave in place in order to continue the writing workshops when I'm gone? When the workshops are over, who will replace me? 

I can only encourage my students to read more poetry and to continue to write poetry themselves and to get their work published. I need to make them aware of what's available the Kenneth Koch poetry how-to books are excellent. I will ask Patricia to set up a poetry corner with copies of my lesson plans on file so students can use my ideas for future work. Set up a poetry circle fso they can read their work to each other.

For evaluation I will need to get Patricia to make some written observation notes I don't think the clients will be able to give me an evaluation for the California Arts Council grant. It looks like I can't get additional funding from the William James Foundation. I am disappointed. 

Afternoon recap. We hung out at the games until 3 PM. I ran into Michael C who was trying to socialize more—and wasn't coming to class. I don't think he's writing. I told him to start coming before the class is over. At 3:30, Earl came in a bit low and lethargic. We read snippets from Romeo and Juliet, J Alfred Prufrock, and a poem by Rexroth. We talked about modern poetry and we noticed that the lines he dictated fell into threes and that they were all 5/7/5 without counting it was there before him. When he became aware of the pattern his imagery weakened. There such a thing as knowing too much.


From the hardware store a couple emerges 
carrying a large white rectangle between them. 
They watch walking such careful concentration 
it draws attention to them. 
They are like two students at a school dance 
learning how to do stuff together 
in formal concentration with wooden steps. 
You think they just met. 
But they had that long married portliness of couples 
who begin to resemble each other 
how much do they really know about each other 
after all these years? The mirror they carry 
reflects only the sky and their feet 
move to a rhythm of their own.

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