Monday, February 27, 1989



I have nothing more to work at 
than to make silvery images.
Flickering horizons. Imagined vertigo.
I have nothing more to do than sift icons.
I make sense of random patterns and snow.
They occupy the space in front of me 
in perfect obeisance. My body is a temple.
A life without complications, Alberto said.
They worry about all the stories inside me 
they wish were theirs. I play out 
visions over and over 
as if there were no future, no history.
Though I cannot offer them anything real, 
my seeds are broadcast beyond the living rooms 
of their minds and out into the universe 
where only the stars can decode the signals.

Mark West School



In this span of curved earth 
baptized by fire,
my many breasted hands 
hold the soil, empty as night.
But I dream of strawberries 
and the wisdom of cobwebs.
Each small spider, 
each half moon, 
is a repeated pattern 
where fishers crack me open 
to reveal an empty vessel—
the earth-stain, and the water stain.
Without the tempering of fire 
I dissolve and melt back into earth 
after the first rain.
As it is, the stones know me as kin.
The enduring plains and relentless sun 
brings me back to myself. 
The passing of days are but fleeting.
My hunger is for the cycles 
of the earth, again and again.




I am silvery horizons
distant lakes
a step between
horizon and sky.
From the bowels of the earth 
miners wrested me from soil 
where I journey 
to assumable heights.
I am below your feet 
and I raise you a little closer 
to the sky.



From the bowels of the earth 
men have pulled you up 
from bauxite and bass rock 
to place me beneath your feet 
to raise you a little closer to the sky. 
I am silvery horizons, 
an arch, distant lakes, a mirage, 
a bridge to lift you up like a bird 
to dizzying new heights 
bringing you a little closer to God,
to yourself, one small step at a time.


FAN l, FAN ll


Three blades gather dust inside a silver cage
where, in summer, yellow yarn flutters 
like  suspended birds
& the bones that hold me up to air have no body.
The cord, a tunnel for riversóturbines
churning and grinding, spitting out air.


Out of orbit, three blades, 
a trinity of air.
Water-smoothed stones
gather the dust of time and neglect
inside the silver cage.
In deep summer, yellow string flutters
like yellow tropical fish called tang
against the current.
The bones that hold me up 
are not corporal.
Turbines churn and grind
shoving the air forward into day
& nothing more.
My inspiration, vocal
I speak of the air
& rotate like the planets.




In the Chiapas dust I have found stone
And from beneath the moon's gibbous face; bone.

Owl's feathers candle the sky into flight,
And the lactating stars witnessed that night,

A marriage blanket. We built a landscape,
Imagined futures to harvest and rape,

Though dew on the grass is primordial,
And memory transmuted into glass, real

As blood—the things said that cannot be undone.
And love we have killed before its begun,

Comes back to haunt us in our dreams, like birds
To ply the Icarus inside us with words.

In dust I've found the ancestor of stone.
It is this life we choose to live alone. 


Friday, February 17, 1989


             —for Jorge Luján upon the birth of his son

With his birth, Uriel divides the year in half
because he unites two continents and cultures,
his father says. Jorge writes of his new sun,
making apologies for his poor English.
His words glow with such paternal pride,
there is no mistake of grammar.
He asks if I'll write a poem for Uriel.
And to the unasked question–
No, my life didn't end when I gave back the sun.
The magician's fruit was filled with bitter seeds,
a womb of fish eyes glistened under his knife,
but the heart of the papaya was no less sweet than any other.
Once severed, we couldn't put the two halves back together.
Excuses issued from the corners of our dreary hearts
into the small casket where the moon sleeps.
Jorge, you hold the sun in your arms
while I continue to chase shadows in darkness.
And these unintended words, a labor of love.


Tuesday, February 14, 1989



Gauguin imagines his own corpse devoured by ants.
He carries arsenic in a Peruvian olla up to the mountains.
When suicide fails, cursing God, he returns to painting
the myth of abundance, the golden tropics without a shadow
on the horizon. Te oviri rerioa. The savage dream.

He writes: your work can never be too luminous.
Let everything you do breathe. I'm hard at work.
I am entering into truth, into nature.
Civilization has fallen from me little by little.
I know the odor of the soil.

The concept wells up like a volcano blossoming
strong, hard and pungent, a tapestry of color.
Here, poetry emerges spontaneously.
There are no more refuges to flee to.

The imagination of a lonely man
has devoured his hope with dreams.
Strange white birds eat lizards—
the uselessness of this life.


Thursday, February 2, 1989

Andean Music: Chaskinakuy


In the Incan Quechua tongue, the word chaskinakuy (chas-keeNA-kwee) means "to receive from hand to hand among many people." Sonoma County musicians Edmond Badoux and Francy Vidal of of the Andean music ensemble, Chaskinakuy, founded in 1985, continue the tradition of interpreting and sharing the roots of Andean music—from Ecuador to Argentina— with attentive audiences. The sold-out performance at the Cinnabar Theatre on Jan 21st, is an indication of the popularity of this dynamic duo. 

Edmond Badoux, who hails from the Swiss Alps, moved to Canada where he met Andean musicians. Baxoux was a founding director of the internationally acclaimed Andean group, Sukay (open the earth for planting), they settled in San Francisco in 1975, but Badoux left the group in 1985 to do research and founded Chaskinakuy. 

I've listened Sukay on many a street corner—they were my first introduction to the nueva canción style of Andean music. (Simon & Garfunkel's iconic El Cóndor Pasa is in the nueva canción style). Badoux makes most of the instruments we see on stage. And there are a lot of them. Vidal and Badoux typically play 30 to 40 instruments during their set. 

Both Badoux and Vidal have traveled extensively throughout Latin America, collecting music and instruments—made of reeds, feathers, horns, hooves, bone, and clay. Badoux traveled extensively in South America for over a year, collecting and recording Andean music, "literally receiving it from hand to hand and heart to heart," says Vidal. 

Vidal said, "imagine you're on the road to Otavalo." That was easy. I'd just returned from the Andean town where eucalyptus forests flanked the slopes of the Andes, and Vulcán Chimborazu punctured holes in the equatorial sky. 

The other half of the Chaskinakuy duo, Francy Vidal explains that the musical instruments covering the stage are mostly wind instruments. Vidal is an eighth-generation Californio from Sacramento, by way of Mexico and the Old World. Vidal first became interested in music when her mother played the organ for the Mexican church. 

Ironically because tourists expect to hear El Cóndor Pasa, Andean musicians everywhere have learned to play the song. Francie sang songs in Spanish, "I come from the puna. In my saddlebags I bring hopes, dreams and sorrow," and in Quechua, she sang a tinku, or planting song, "...Come on little brother, it's time to get up./ The golden sun is rising." 

Tinku is a ritualistic warlike form of extreme combat dance (or brawl) both in praise of Pachamama, the World Mother, and a denouncement against the conquistadors who made them slaves. In both cases, blood sacrifice is involved. 

Vidal used the downtime between songs, as they swapped instruments, to educate the audience. The most common Andean instruments are the double-row cane panpipes, and drums ceremonially used for the agricultural calendar—planting and harvesting of potatoes, amaranth, maize and coca. 

The traditional Andean panpipes, the zampoña, or sikúfrom the tiny chuli to the monster toyoare divided into two instruments sharing one harmonic scale. To play music on these panpipes requires two people being of one mind, one breath, to coordinate the melody. Vidal and Badoux take turns demonstrating a scale. One half of the panpipe duality (or moiety) is called the ira, and the other, the arka (both male and female—or Pachatata and Pachamama). The complexity of these pipes adds a whole new level meaning to make sweet music together. 

Vidal held up what looked like wayward pipes from a disemboweled church organ. The toyo (or jach'a in Aymara) the largest panpipes in the world, are five feet tall, and contain every note (A-G). Some toyo are even bigger—up to six feet tall.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the indigenous panpipes, dating back 5000 years, were tuned to a pentatonic scale. The pipes have a deep resonating sound like Pachamama, the earth breathing, the Andean air alive with electricity and howling winds—or like insects buzzing in the jungle. 

The panpipes, divided in two parts, require two musical partners to play a scale or a melody. While one musician breathes, the other plays—to a stereo effect. The word conspiracy means to breathe together. At high altitudes. it requires a conspiracy of musicians to properly play the panpipes. What's amazing about these pipes, aside from the sheer size, is that they're typically played at altitudes of 9,000 to 14,000 feet-—more than two miles above sea level. Talk about playing in thin air and breathing together. 

We learn practical applications as well. "If your panpipe gets out of tune," adds Badoux, who makes many of the pipes, "you can drop ball bearings or lentils in the pipes to tune it—but you can only sharpen it." 

Vidal, a flautist by training, explains that the quena (kena), or the seven-holed notched flute, has at least a 3,000-year tradition and is made from bamboo, reed, flamingo legs, or even human thigh bones. The smallest, the pinquillo, or kamacheña is an annoying mosquito-pitched 3-note flute. Not recommended after a bout at the chicha bar. 

Ocariñas, are globe-shaped hunting flutes with four to six (or more) holes, often made of ceramics, in the form of flat faces, turtles, and birds. "Traditionally, women weren't allowed to play the flute but that attitude has changed since the 60's," said Vidal. 

Unusual traditional Andean musical instruments include an antara—a single row panpipe, or sikú panpipes made from the quills of turkey vulture wing feathers. In Peru and Bolivia these panpipes are made from the larger quills of condor feathers. I heard one being played on Lake Titicaca. Shrill and mesmerizing. 

Perhaps the most odd instrument was the clarin, or cana, a ten-foot long bamboo French type horn with all the kinks removed which sounded more like a trumpeting mastodon, than a horn. Cow horns (bocinas) and conch shells are also used. 

Vidal explained the European influence, musica criolla, brought to the Andes the sound of stringed instruments which all lend their charm to the native Andean tunes. The guitarra, the mandolina, the charango—the ubiquitous armadillo soundbox mandolin, and la arpa— the Irish harp—played upside down! 

Several percussion instruments include rain sticks, a goatskin drum and chullus made of hooves. "The rattle made of goat hooves was very expensive by Andean standards," explains Vidal to the audience, "a whole herd of goats went into the making of that rattle." Like a herd of castanets. Vidal and Badoux's performance is educationally entertaining and uplifting as the Andes themselves. 

Badoux & Vidal are celebrating the release of their first cassette, Chaskinakuy: Music of the Andes. The cassette features traditional instrumental Andean music played on native panpipes, flutes, drums and strings. The cassette, available at the concert, was recorded locally at Joe Hoffman Studios, Occidental. Or you can order a tape directly from Chaskinakuy, PO Box 943, Penngrove, CA 94951. The duo also teaches music classes in Penngrove and perform in the schools as well. Chaskinakuy will be at Guerneville Community Church, Fri. Feb. 3rd (1988) at 8 pm. Tickets are $6 at the door. 

Lest you think this review is no longer relevant, the out of print Music of the Andes is soon to be released on CD. Visit Chaskinakuy's website to pre-order it, or pick up one of their other CDs Cosecha, or Flor de Tierra there, or at CD Baby. 

Chaskinakuy's 2014 address is PO Box 11421, Santa Rosa, CA 95406. If you want to book them for an event, or a school assembly, contact Francie at

The Paper, Jan. 1988, there were photos too. Alas, no tear sheet.
rev. Feb. 27, 2014

Wednesday, February 1, 1989

OUT TAKES/COLLAGE Galapagos, Gauguin


In the Galapagos, evolutionary myths
crawled out of the precambrian mind of the sea.
Birds proclaim unchartered territories.
A certain slant of sunlight grows wings.
I listen to translations of wind in the trees
and turn stones over and over,
trying to fathom below the surface.
If only we could move freely among molecules—
no separation between stone, water and air.

Civilization falls from me little by little.
I know the odor of the soil.
Gauguin said, Let everything you do breathe. 
I'm hard at work;
entering into truth, into nature.
I go deeper into the idea of word,
primal soup, blue-green algae,
the first "I am" the world uttered.
Long after we've gone, life will continue;
another blastopore, in all its variations, germinating.
The moon is made of basalt like the sea floor.
Here, poetry emerges spontaneously.
Here there are no more refuges to flee to.
We are standing on ceremonial ground.
A wobbly prayer lifts up, takes flight
across the valley.  

date?  2/89?

OUTAKES from Country of Origin

OUTAKES from Country of Origin

We have so little time
to download memory
into the fatty tissue
of each other's heart.
We savor its life-giving substance.
We eat around earlier fires
in a gesture that's timeless.
You and I shared an aurora borealis
of dreams in the night.
The air above our heads
was alive with blue light.
Solar winds enter our crowns,
our last chakra.
We are tumbled like leaves
across the bed of autumn.
In morning sunlight,
our eyelids bathed in red
corpuscles dancing
between membrane and cornea.
I think about the time we don't have.
Last night the air was alive
even the reflection
on the pavement wore red,
clearer than blood, translucent.
Last night the sky was
timeless and of no age,
Last night I burned amber from the Baltic
because a friend was suffering
at the hands of love.
The division of male and female.
What separates us from ourselves
and each other?
I burn amber, pine resin older
than the ages of man­
because finding love is rare.
Seeking an island of refuge,
we bleed back into the sea.
I wear silver horses on my ears,
and coral from the sea's garden cities
not unlike trees. Yes, birches in winter.
Will you drink birch blood and think of me?
Plant a tree so it may discover
quadrilateral symmetry,
bi-lateral agreements
while our governments talk
of disarmament.
Now your leaders fish in our rivers!
Perhaps it's already begun
but razor blades
are so thin on the tongue,
their song is quick as this life.
Why do we choose suffering, calling it love
because we can only feel it with each passing?
I am sending you stones
because I know nothing else more
enduring than their secrets.
From lapis I fashioned a blue heart,
filing it each night
because something inside me was in pain.
So I shaped stone with stone,
and found my own stone heart
was alive after all.
I've planted stones
in the garden for you.
Somewhere inside all of this
there is a story waiting.
On the telephone, precious star
sounds distorts your voice.
Sunspots the cackle of space.
Our voices, thin reeds
bending in autumn wind.
Yes, winter is a voyage
across the dark tundra sea.

These were lines pulled from a longer poem, Country of Origin. I couldn't bear to toss them. I merely added punctuation and  a few transition words. Otherwise, it's stet. I posted this close to the original timeline when Country of Origin was written but I suspect I revised it much later (as I've a much later revision date: 9/28/89 for CoO) throw out this much work requires distance. Maybe at some later date I'll go back and rework this piece. But right now I'm preoccupied with getting the brunt of my work online.  7/11/2015