Wednesday, May 9, 1990



While drying my face in the shower mirror 
I cursed you because each time the phone rings 
that click severs me like stilettos
Maybe it isn't your X who hangs up each time;
but once she screamed how you beat her
and was I satisfied? As if I had done the act.

Once you and I licked sweet poems,
anchoring them firmly with stamps,
pony-expressing our hearts with postage due.
Damned if I didn't curse you  
and the mirror fell off the wall
dividing my face like the San Andreas Fault.
And I don't know if it's you or me
who is destined to serve time.

Blame it on a bad crop of chardonnay,
unseasonable rain, a ruined harvest—
but life is like that.
We're experiencing a drought
and no one is conserving water,
 not even the moon.

When my mother's lover died
I hated him in the way only a 12-year-old 
who saw the ugly evidence, could.
The way he used her, unforgivable even in death. 
But I had to allow my mother a refuge of memory 
resurrected in her fulcrum time of need.
Grief polishes the facts until they outshine themselves. 
But silver tarnishes in sunlight,
in drawers and in the cavities of desire.

line breaks

Tuesday, May 1, 1990

Mark West Student Art Show at the California Museum of Art

Stacking Wood for Celia

This room, with its indirect morning light is a permeable membrane. We bring with us the burden from earlier fire unwrap genetic coals.  A place-holder for an idea we can't quite let go of. Late at night, with little else to sustain us, words burn across the page. Thoughts pour down the arm to flood the pages. The extension of a tongue, of mind.  Boundaries of skin translate the air with origins.

Michaelangelo must have laughed as he lay on his back staring at the stucco vault of the Sistine Chapel. Adam reclined as God pointed the finger at him in the act of inspiration. 
How many times has someone fingered another with this simple gesture? 
Not a judaskiss, but of open betrayal. Contemplate the blank page, fill it with fingers pointing accusingly in every direction begging for perfection, or for some form of enlightenment.  The page kindles memory of the first fires.  What did they call those who kept the hearth fires lit? Words blossom tenderly.  Small bison thundering to the edge of the precipice.

The distance between love and death is life.  This casual stacking of words forms a nucleus to spend a lifetime decoding.  Something preternatural about the fall, the quickened night brings the idea of order, and stacks them like wood against the shed for the coming winter. Leaves of so many books, unwritten, trees have achieved the purest state, waiting to combust the stories of the sun when it forgets to return from that longest night. They burn steadily, singing a lifetime of cycles. This final combustion arcs across our eyes and glows under the skin.

In front of the bricked-up fireplace, Celia keeps a branch of long-needled pine from the mountains. Without flame, each night, as she writes, the branch inches steadily towards completion. The burden of self, in all its variations, seeks the next unbearable plateau.  Nothing is permanent or written in stone.  Rocks have been known to immolate. Ancient Anasazi petroglyphs of the sun spiral westward on the tufa cliff. Mount St. Helens rained down for weeks after, the gentle rain of ash, a cowl covering the cars. The urge for purification takes the form of silica: Trees, rock, this window.

My fingers found the hearts of sea anemones blossoming in the tidal zone. The soft pleasure of their tug, spicules made of silica. I stuck my tongue into their mouths, felt them prey upon my nipples.  My hand, shot through with light, pointed accusingly at the page (or was it the other way around?).  Darkness defined itself in the form of transparent hunger.  This room, a hunger.  Mitochondria haploiding in the mother ocean trapped within the cell. This room is a net, the nascent ear of a shell dervishing the stories.  Our job begins.  Late at night Celia writes: a candle, a cigarette, the glass of wine, the illusion of red.

In the larger rooms of angels, the new and old worlds are no different than the moon.  Stories leak from the cupboards of the mind and stain the page. The paper knife left a halo on Father Connery's deskblotter.  The knife resembled the one in the Sacred Heart—disembodied, floating through religion like a sword.  I was wounded the way cousins are when they finger and stroke the swelling edges of taboo. The "S," a betrayal of the word:

He loved death more than me, slipped back into the bosom of the sea. The cold rain of memory crests each wave of thought .The half-life of yesterday approaches the gardens of sleep, takes root, finds the fertile fields of imagination lonely for the dream’s embrace. I had no reason to face the dawn, my prince of tides returned to the sea. My legs ached as I crossed the floor, though I cried, no fins appeared. Reality bent itself toward sleep. Small mermaid, I carried the burden of that night home to the dream’s final sea.

The partnership of ink and paper is a kind of love.  Sometimes peace defines itself in the steadying rhythm of someone sleeping in the next room late at night.  Walls can't contain these words, a release from the prison of dailiness.  We harvest them. The herders and the hunters tending the flock, dressed in the skins of both the wolf and the sheep.  That tension urges us onward.

Mules in love with the idea of cliff trust the small blind eyes in their hooves.  In the jungle, the eyes on my shoulder blades opened for the first time.  The guerrilla slipped from tree to tree.  The hairs on the back of my neck pointed accusing fingers.  The eye on top of our heads takes dictation from the sky.  Locked in rooms, transparent, wall-less, but within walls, we, the keepers of tribal memory.  The air, a tangible weight of limbs pressing down. I climbed the temples of the new and the old world.  Others have punished stones into the air in order to write upon the sky.

Does the plant by the sealed fireplace despair, the evidence of its evolvement—a dead pine bough? Does it give up the struggle, cease to produce chlorophyll because everything dies?  Transmutation is too close to mutilation and mute.  Throw white stones onto the hardwood floor. Study the patterns.  Do it again on grass, on sand, on the Persian carpet The Sistine chapel rose up in mute attestation toward God. The underbellies of stones are secretive, full of promise.

No idea, ca 1990? 92?  Prosepoem 86-90