Monday, October 31, 1988

Journal order, on the writing process


The order of entries in my journal is more haphazard than usual. Too many major life traumas in September and October threw me off. Meanwhile halfway through the year, I started writing in another journal but I am unwilling to abandon this one with all its virgin paper patiently waiting for me to scribe it with knower's ink.

Sunday, October 16, 1988


Names for time, insufferable on human terms
100,000 years. How does a stone
measure time and distance?
I've always wanted to see Lascaux and Altamira
(look up!). The first Greek goddess,
the great mother, was not Greek, but a meteorite
that struck the earth with sudden impact.


Saturday, October 15, 1988



Reina, a blind, dowager cat of 15,
who has learned to tell lies for more food
and has a paunch to prove her success,
ignores the catnip-stuffed mouse I bring her.
We can't tell her facts:
why it always rains outside each door
in the house at the same time, the dilemma
of eating tuna and the diminishing dolphin population,
or the effects of mercury poisoning.
Has it begun to manifest
its mad-hatterly ways in this idiot savant
well into second childhood?
Mornings, we find her upside down and drooling;
rubbing her whiskers and head ecstatically inside our shoes.
We make jokes about the narcotic effect of ripe shoes and laundry.
But when my new shoes are also
singled out for euphoric distinction,
I realize, slowly, how our conclusions are hampered
by our own anthropomorphic limitations.
It becomes clear, her need for scenting—
In cat terms, as we walk our daily rounds,
our shoes mark the outer boundaries of her territory.
Who'd have credited this blind old cat
with enough foresight to keep tabs on her realm—
She, who had us barking up the wrong tree all along?

10/15/1988  first draft june?

1995 CQ #22 California Quarterly
1991Poet Magazine, Fall issue
1990 Poetry USA
         Sparrow Grass
1989 Green Fuse
         A Night Full of Doves

Wednesday, October 12, 1988

Young HES poets published

Young HES poets published

Four Healdsburg Elementary School fourth graders have had their poems published in the California Poets in the Schools book of poetry, True Wonders. The young authors include Merwyn Kinton, Todd Williams, Logan McEwan and Tommy Jordan and their poems are reprinted here. The students are members of local artist and instructor Judy Sohigian's class. Sohigian. in turn, invited guest artist Maureen Hurley into the classroom to conduct the poetry program with the students.


A stone hidden inside me 
A stone in the water 
Just a stone secret 
A stone twice my size 
A stone in the water 
A stone with laughter 
A stone in the water 
A stone with me in it. 

Tommy Jordan


A light in the darkest of places 
My stone holds a secret no one knows
But only those so powerful can know
The stone's secret. My stone cannot talk 
But sometimes I feel a stinging in my head
And my stone grows weak 
and my knowledge and will grows strong.

Merwyn Kenton 

THE STONE a grandfather
that will never die or go away, 
you can keep this rock forever. 
you can keep it a billion years 
and it still won't wear down. 

Todd Williams 


My rock is like the red hot sun around my soul 
It keeps the secret of my heart. 
The stars speak as I scream with tears. 
It has given me the power to stand 
in this dangerous world 
to keep many wonderful secrets. 
It has given me things to keep forever. 
The hidden places I go where eagles and hawks soar... 
Where stones shine with beauty and kindness. 

Logan McEwan

THE AUTHORS - Four HES fourth grade poets were recently published the California Poets in the Schools latest volume of poetry. They are pictured here with teacher Judy Sohigian.

Sunday, October 9, 1988

Big Doings at Poetry Fest, National Poetry Week Festival, CPITS, SF chronicle

October 9, 1988 | San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Patricia Holt | Page: 2 | Section: SUNDAY REVIEW | Column: BETWEEN THE LINES

The National Poetry Week Festival is producing quite a shindig this year in San Francisco. Spilling over to 10 days (October 14-23) of events at Fort Mason, the festival begins with a champagne reception and dance on Friday the 14th.Space forbids complete listing of dates, times and locations (for information call 621-3073 or 776-6602); here's a brief summary of NPWF's incredible lineup:

WOMEN'S POETRY: Curator Joyce Jenkins of Poetry Flash, San Franciso poet Edith Jenkins and other women poets discuss the theme, "Stealing the Language."

NATIVE AMERICAN POETRY: Mary TallMountain, Dennis Jennings, Lorenzo Baga, Janice Gould and Ramone Wilson offer poetry from early American history to "the present cacophonic and multitudinous society."

ASIAN AMERICAN POETRY: Marilyn Chin hosts a program with poets Genny Lim, Richard Oyama, Jeff Tagami and Nellie Wong.

CELEBRATION OF THE WORD: Maya Angelou and Janice Mirikitani - two of the most rousing and moving poets - will be joined by Guy Johnson in an evening of poetry readings.

LITERARY SAN FRANCISCO: A review of San Francisco's literary history will be launched by Jack Mueller and Kevin Starr.

BLACK AMERICAN POETRY: A great afternoon of readings hosted by Guy Johnson, featuring Opal Palmer Adisa, Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa and Reginald Lockett.

HISPANIC POETRY: Latino, Chicano and Central and South American poets will appear under the direction of Martivon Galindo in a program including the work of Francisco X. Alarcon, Carlotta Caulfield, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Victoria Mirinda and Piri Thomas.

POETRY OF THE SACRED: A program ranging from ancient Indian perceptions to modern celebrations of the holy will include Hindu temple dances by Uday Shankar Sengupta and readings by James Broughton, Andrei Codrescu, Mary TallMountain, Jerome Rothenberg and William Ruddy.

POETRY IN FILM: National Poetry Association chairman Herman Berlandt will lecture on synergistic art with illustrations from 12 poetry film festivals.

POETRY IN DRAMA: Patrick Finley, Kush, the Noh Oratorio Society, Titch Jones, Verona Seiter, Paul Finocchiaro and Larry Maraviglia will perform poetry from dramatic works.

LANGUAGE WRITING: New trends in poetry will be explored by language writers Ron Silliman, Barrett Watten, Steve Benson, Carla Harryman, Michael Amnasan and others.

POETRY AND HEALING: Santa Clara State Hospital Poetry Therapy director Joy Shieman will host a seminar with Dr. Jack Leedy and psychotherapist Sylvia Lange.

PRISON POETRY : San Quentin Poetry Workshop director Floyd Salas introduces works by inmates, guards and outsiders from many poets including Judith Tannenbaum, Shawn Murphy and Raymond Thompson.

POETRY FOR PLANETARY SURVIVAL: Mary Rudge features Miriam Patchen, music by Will Sand Young and Jesse Beagle, Haiku poets of Northern California, Julia Vinograd, Jack Hirschman, Native American drumming and poetry - all in celebration of the environment.

CALIFORNIA POETS IN THE SCHOOLS: John Oliver Simon and Tobey Kaplan present poetry written by students and teachers.

APPRECIATION OF THE TRANSLATOR: An afternoon of understanding how translation shapes poetry, with Etel Adnan, Geoffrey Cook, Michael Davidson, Barbara Paschke and Paul Vangelisti.

EROTIC POETRY: Mary Mackey hosts readings by Alta, Ivan Arguelles, Jane Hirschfield, Lynn Lonadier, Viola Weinberg and Jeremy Larner.

THE LIBERATED MUSE: Gay and lesbian liberation is the focus in this program of poetry, with readings by Neeli Cherkovski, Judy Grahn, Susan Griffin and Harold Norse.

THE BUSINESS OF POETRY: Jan Butterfield of Lapis Press and Joyce Jenkins of Poetry Flash present ways to expand the poetry audience and break into the media.

POETRY IN WORK AND PLAY: Longshore poetry, trucker ballads, sea chanteys, union songs and cowboy poetry will be read by poets Bobby Erikson, John Devore, Billy Fouts, Gino Sky, Jesse Smith and Piano Jack under the direction of Buzzy Vick.

POETRY IN POP MUSIC: Jesse Beagle, David Brian, Mathew Robertson, Chuck Brodsky and Beth Margolin appear with Ted Czuk to explore the historical development of poetry in music from troubadours of the Middle Ages to to contemporary songwriters.and many more.

All this plus creative writing workshops, round-robin readings, open readings, marathon readings, poetic dance performances, book tables, poetry video theater and visual poetry exhibits. Tickets for any part or whole are cheap (call 762-BASS), thanks to grants from the California Arts Council and the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.

Friday, October 7, 1988


1. By the same white car
where my grandparents stood
sternly facing the camera,
was that me in my mother's arms
or someone else, milk eyes squinting
as she drools, her fat starfish hands
clutching a red and green tropical sea.
My mother's skirt, an island in paradise
and later, the jungle print will become
a pillow for my grandmother's couch
where I will wait years for my mother
to reclaim that skirt, and me.
All this fuss for a photograph.
who'd have thought those faded photos
marked the end of an era?

At the age of two,
that isn't me looking in.
I'm looking out of the photo
at a woman, older than my mother
who is still holding me in the picture.
She says she knows me but I know better.
I am cross without my nap
so I squint and sing and coo
to the sun in a blue sky.

Now she makes some other writing marks
but I swing my arm across the paper
and the table and the wall
filling the world with rainbow color
putting an end to all this writing.

2. That can't be me at 13
about to start high school.
That's someone else who looks like me,
who feels very grown up and eager to begin.
I'm looking out at myself, looking in.
She looks different, she isn't smiling, like me.
Are we related?

Her eyes glow red from the flash of the camera
making her look like an albino rabbit
while my eyes are brown.
My mother's skirt, a pillow on the couch
is now threadbare.

My red dress is embroidered with small mirrors
reflects a cloudy sky, like a pond,
a mirror full of algae.
I awake at night full of fear
I can't hear what she's saying.
a namelessness in the dark, like a sudden flash
that bleached the color form her hair, from her eyes
turning them from brown to red
like the rabbit who said yes.
All the times she turned them down,
every single one of my children.


4th revision from some notes on Jorge Lujan's poetry workshop, Alexander Valley School? on 4/12/88. I need to type the first drafts.

Thursday, October 6, 1988

10 6/88 journal

This morning the phone wakes me, Fotomat saying the small albums I had ordered are in. Then she calls me back, says it's the wrong size. I didn't order either size album and I don't like 7 AM phone calls telling me to buy something. If anyone calls me at 7 AM it'd better be for a good reason.

I can barely remember my dreams except that John looked a little like Bob as if bits and pieces of Bob had rubbed off and attached themselves to John's face. Most notable was the patches of beard and hair – as if John were a prisoner behind the mask of Bob's face—someone whom I haven't seen in over 10 years. Perhaps all that talk about abortion brought Bob back into the picture.

Not so much the first one, God. But I remember the day it happened so well. I just come off the pill, tired of being continually nauseous. One afternoon, we weren't careful. I knew then it was too late, the moment frozen in my mind.

It reminds me of the story of the fifth-grader, when asked when he was born, he said, My mom and dad went on a picnic, and she got pregnant. It was in Germany. The teacher and I manage to keep a straight face but, as she said, the times they are changing. Quoting Dylan and our own lost youth.

10 6/88

Wednesday, October 5, 1988

Phone calls to the dead

Today I was asked by the San Francisco Bay Guardian to be a screener, a first reader for the Northern California poetry contest. My penance for having won it in the past. The woman who called, Jane Sullivan, was not related to the Jane Sullivans in my family. She said I've never received any calls from another Jane Sullivan. I said our Jane was long dead, so it would be hard for you to receive her calls. I always thought it would be an ingenious invention if someone would developed a telephone to call the dead. AT&T would make a killing. Only one dollar a minute, evenings and weekends free. Call home.

Saturday, October 1, 1988

I Won $50 for Horseflesh at National Poetry Week

National Poetry Week, II
I won $50, second place for my poem, Horseflesh, poems on everyday experience.
Horseflesh was a dream fragment. John and I were in Mulegé, Baja. I was going out to the bathroom and I met someone outside in the moonlight. It was unnerving. Another guest at Nachito's.

I'm not sure if I was awake or asleep when the Horseflesh poem came to me. Whether it was dreamed before I woke up to go to the bathroom, and I added this skull image, or whether I was still in the dream state, as I stumbled off to the bathroom.

And I don't remember if it was happening and I wrote it down when I returned, or if I wrote it afterwards. What I do remember was the brilliant stars above. The broken bed, the sandy sheets, the abject poverty, all contributed to the imagery. And there were many more fragments which I wasn't able to retrieve.



Sacramento Poetry Center Poet News letter from Patrick Grizzell, (Jim Dodge)