Friday, July 28, 1989

LIVING WITH BEARS


LIVING WITH BEARS

We are all immigrants and what sustains us 
is the failure of desire and need.
Each question you resurrect from the debris of childhood
I want to believe in, but I come from a long line
of bear worshippers who survived the potato famine.
I don't eat red meat. Icons in dark niches, guttered candles, 
a menorah, and the ritual of our bodies—
there's always an ocean, a continent, or a lover in the way.
One of the wounded, you're trapped in the dark heat of the city
instead of feasting on onion domes in the Red Square with me.
I taste your words as if they were ripe
huckleberries pale with bloom in late August.
But I'm omnivorous. Did our tongues really find the faith?
We could spend a lifetime looking at the ground, or love.
The phone rings, your exlover reminds me
with silence, of what we have in common.

Kiev celebrates a millennia of civilization.
Sasha says in Russian, There is no verb to be in the present. 
It is understood. We do not live with white bears, 
tovarishchi, are you all capitalists, then?
We are the same people. We are breaking the images.
He says, Afghanistan is Russian for Vietnam,
pulling on a cigarette with his good hand.
An idea called napalm has melted his face.
An American vet trembling like a lover, offers a light, 
and touches his hand, the half-formed word brother on his lips.
The steppes have no natural boundaries.
No more bison, cossacks or mongols sweeping the open plains.
I am lost on the limitless horizon. Mnogaya leta.
Voices sing with the quality of wind on the land.
The future is no more uncertain than the past.
And yes, the failures between us are what we know best.
But even at fifty below, the arctic pools, the polinii
don't freeze over, where in winter the bears come to feed.
Within the earth, wood grows upward without haste & without rest.
Sometimes I hear it in your voice —
vulnerability slips in and we find sum totals
have nothing to do with tenderness or faith.
A brittle sheet of gold foil tremors 
the geography of who we are.

7/28/89

Friday, July 21, 1989

Harte Crane’s birthday party photo


Blast from the past: Hunce Voelcker's annual Hart Crane party: Ann Erickson, Betty Garrett, Gail King, Hunce Voelcker, Pat Nolan, Paul Mariah (& me behind the camera, as usual). Hart Crane was born in July 21, 1899, and it says 101 year birthday party, but Hunce died in 1990, so it’s 1989.

Press Democrat, letter to the editor, Celebrate Sonoma forgot the poets




Wednesday, July 19, 1989

Healdsburg Tribune, Poetry overlooked at Celebrate Sonoma



Poetry overlooked at Celebrate Sonoma

Editor; (This is an open letter to Cindy Paulos and the Celebrate Sonoma Staff): Sonoma County is home to one of the highest per capita of artists in California and the 1989 Celebrate Sonoma/Sonoma County Art Awards ceremony is a brilliant way to honor us. Thank you. I want to commend you on all your hard work on putting together this showcase but I was appalled at the blaring omission of a major fine arts category by your committee. Listed in the program were six musical, five visual artists, nine thcatrc/dancc, three literary arts -- even a restaurant, chef, and cartoon category -- but no poetry! As an active poet, past president of the Russian River Writers’ Guild, the oldest continuous reading series in northern California, and Sonoma/Napa coordinator for California Poet in the Schools with the fourth largest program in the slate, I find this oversight unacceptable. My personal credits include the 1986 San Francisco Arts Commission Bay Area Poetry Award, the 1987 San Francisco Bay Guardian Poetry Awards, the 1989 San Francisco National Poetry Week awards and seven California Arts Council Artist in Residency grants, I find it somewhat ironic my students' artwork graces the cover of the latest LBC Events magazine -- but no poetry. The National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council both support and recognize poetry as a fine arts form along with visual arts, music and performance. There arc literally hundreds of other equally and exceptionally lauded poets in Sonoma County who would have brought honor to your awards ceremony. (A long list of poets followed, edited for space) Telling us to show up at an open mike when you fail to publicly recognize our art form is both an insult and a discriminatory act. Would you expect the Santa Rosa Symphony to do likewise if it were excluded from the list? I strongly urge you to amend this glaring omis sion to one of the largest and prolific communities in northern California by including poetry as an arts category in your 1990 Sonoma Arts Awards. Only in America something base as this could happen. In most countries of the world, Chile and Russia included, poetry is the heart and the breath of culture -- people line up for blocks and for hours to hear their poets read. Without poetry there arc no lyrics, no songs, no theatre, no art! We are our country's poets and deserve to be heard and appreciated. Should you need more information, we would be glad to assist you.

Maureen Hurley, Lynn Watson, Pamela Raphael, Forestville

Saturday, July 15, 1989

JESSE RIDING SHOTGUN DOGGEREL


JESSE RIDING SHOTGUN DOGGEREL

Doggerel, catteril, it's the same to me
whether bad verse exumes dead poets societies
or politicians show too much interest
in exposing moral pejoritives. The body pests
are in danger of becoming cockroach battilions
censoring Raid cans in the name of titillations.

Hart Crane had trouble licking
stamps underwater while picking
on suicide as a means to an end of—
Well, that part is censored verbiage—
Mapplethorp syrup under the bridge.
It's the same to me whether or not
police poets piss in the pot
or that god is dog and evil is live

It's all done with with mirrors.
Jesse Helms has more than that in arrears.
Pass the dog bisquits, please comply.
It has everything to do with ergot on rye.
Way to go. Don't you know, Dude,
they say he feels wrong—
like a dog eating cat food.

2. You're down on your knees
trying to appease the wicked flesh.
The next time you decide to kick ass,
to lick what you see as brass fascism,
remember your kennel is made of glass.
Rescind your transgressions and your sins.
You're caught between a rock and a hard place,
it wasn't the rabbit who won the race,
with Jesse at the helm, a national disgrace.
A scandal you haven't got a handle on
for running on and on at the mouth.
You bet your sweet ass I am.

1989? 90?
Jesse Helm/NEA censorship scandal July 1989
repurposed from Doggerel


DOGGEREL

Doggerel, catteril, it's the same to me
whether bad verse exumes dead poets societies
or politicians show too much interest
in exposing moral pejoritives. The body pests
are in danger of becoming cockroach battilions
censoring Raid cans in the name of titillations.
Hart Crane had trouble licking
stamps underwater while picking
on suicide as a means to an end of—
Well, that part is censored verbiage—
Mapplethorp syrup under the bridge.
It's the same to me whether or not
police poets piss in the pot
or that god is dog and evil is live
It's all done with with mirrors.
Jesse Helms has more than that in arrears.
Pass the dog bisquits, please comply.
It has everything to do with ergot on rye.
Way to go. Don't you know, Dude,
they say he feels wrong—
like a dog eating cat food.

1989? 

Saturday, July 1, 1989

HOUSE BY THE SEA, PT. BONITA

HOUSE BY THE SEA, PT. BONITA
     From paintings by El Meyer & Gail Packer
      Heredity is nothing more than stored environment.
           —Luther Burbank

For years, the Farallones hid the mouth of the Golden Gate
from explorers bearing glass beads and small gifts of death.
The Ohlones & Miwoks thought sailing ships were white birds
rising from the bottom of the sea. So ended
ten thousand years of dancing on the brink of the world.
A carnelian tooth chews on the miniscus of the horizon.
Clouds roil and twist like whitecaps or forgotten dreams
of cypresses testing the boundaries of air.
Redwing blackbirds whistle drills in the cattails
as limed buildings edge nervously into morning.
Ghosts inhabit sheets left out overnight on the clothesline
and the grape squeezes life from red franciscan strata.
An army of geese guard the dark continent.
Steam shimmers on the mirrored beach. Rare shells.
It's a matter of degree whether faith creates
experience, the padres shrugged as Indians died
of the common cold and smallpox. And for miles
the ground was littered with their bones.

7/89

1992 So We Might See in the Desert, CPITS anthology
1990 Poet News/ Sacramento Poetry Review
1989 Green Fuse
1984 California State Poetry Society, First Prize, and Dec. 1994 "Best of the Best" published poems