Saturday, August 25, 1990


                  —for John Oliver Simon, who really put me through the wringer

At the national conference I nearly succeeded in avoided my ex-lover
altogether, but fate intervened to unravel the mystery
of what we'd become a year and a half later
Flying down a blind curve of stairs I ran into him
saying, Well, I guess I had to talk to you eventually.
He was on the way to the poet's baseball game
We sat on a log, under the shadow of an incense cedar
our backs to the westering sun, at a loss for words to break the silence
of unraveling the mystery of what we'd become a year and a half later,
we rehashed old lines as if it were possible to erase pain by clarification
I had to sift through the ashes to find out what was left of me
His confessions offered little solace or clarity
He says he's cured of 20-year-olds truth itself got twisted
He made me into the bad guy wanting someone to blame for his guilt
He crows about how the therapy has helped,
but is in the same pattern with woman # 3, or is it #43?
He hugs me, runs off to play baseball,
and the tears, dry for nearly a year,
break free of the dam imprisonment
I can't believe he sold my lamps not wanting contact,
and returned other ex-girlfriend's dishes
I had no tools to make sense of this carnage
Women ask if we'll reconcile,
some part of me wants something that doesn't exist.

They tell me how they seduced their ex-lovers, then said goodbye
we never went back
that doesn't exist
for once I was more important than baseball
We sat on the log tittering, knowing tongues were wagging
Devorah Major came over, saw us, abruptly turned away
Volcanic she muttered
Kathy Evans says her ex has a new family
Elizabeth McKim described John as a Peter pan,
a puere, the boy who never grow up  cycles of co-dependency,
like with Etheridge Knight who's dying of lung cancer 
Ingred says You need to process for a while,
Instead I run off to join what I thought was the multi-cultural caucus.
Francisco Alarcon's eyebrows raise like birds.
Tobey Kaplan says What are you doing here?
this is the gay caucus. I said Who cares?
We're all human aren't we?
At a time like this people's sexual persuasion
hardly mattered I needed to be with people

Luke Breit goes to get me a beer,
I barricade myself in the bathroom, easy tears
I could hear him shouting my name
When he found me again he said, This time don't disappear
when I get you a beer. More tears at the dance,
I abruptly turned and walked into the night
between the dark haunches of cars did John follow me? No
I'm swigging my beer and crying, finished my beer
reentered the hall like a space walker
then danced madly as if my life depended on it,
and it did. He enters, yes he did follow me.
I danced wildly all night with men, women, & champagne bottles
I was a marathon runner, the dance floor, my track.
I covered miles that night
gyrating and shimmering oozing sex and pain from every pore
I was like a bright flame of heightened intensity
his eyes upon me from across the room on the dance floor,
and from outside     blind I was always tracking him,
I didn't even have to look to see where he was
I could sense him with my eyes closed.
Once he danced too closely behind me, his toe under my heel
how he watched me as one man  played with my long scarf,
spinning me, tying me around the waist spinning me like a top
He was taking note. speculation & jealousy
Last dance— he stood alone in the middle of the room, hangdog
I took a healthy swig from my champagne bottle
danced into his arms  He gathered me in  "Goodnight Sweetheart"
perhaps this was the final ceremony we were seeking
Perhaps we were reluctant to take the final step severing the ties.
This dance was something I could offer him
the outfields of my body, a reminder of that close animal warmth
we shared. Impulsively I kissed him on the neck.
I was high, I was drunk we held each other close as the dance ended,
I didn't even look at him, just turned and walked away
my rules my game metamorphosis, the anorexia,
My writing literally saved me that year.
Kathy said seeing us dance together made her all weepy
We were all family and there was nowhere left to hide
and so it really is goodbye sweetheart this is the end at last
someone warned me the process in doesn't stop
even when you both have new mates
clearing the air  yes now I understand the pattern.

Dominican College, San Rafael

Wednesday, August 22, 1990



The pear holds memory of falling—
invisible when green, the bruise ripens,
spoils the fruit from within.



The pear holds memory of falling—
invisible when green, the bruise ripens,
spoils the fruit from within.


first draft


how the pear holds memory of falling—
the blemish, only to appear when ripe
spoiling the fruit from within.


Tuesday, August 21, 1990


TAMING THE MINOTAUR dream sequence

I was buying 2nd hand sheets in the Avignon pattern
I will only have to pay my grandmother 
for what I take with me
but I have to wash them first
I'm sorting my jewelry in the wet black dirt
by stone and color and metal 
Sifting through my heritage—
a hammered brooch with a ruby garnet 
the triangle of the goddess
like an eye, the eye of the bull in Sephanie's barn
and I'm washing my jewelry at the laundromat
My mother comes out, 
I'm afraid she'll steal them and we're fighting
I scream do you know what it's like 
to be the daughter of a schizophrenic?
the shame, and in public
she gets more outrageous,
it's an act I tell her, we are close to blows
my truck turns into a horse 
wheeling and snorting when I try to get near.
Inside my truck is my bed but it is frozen
I want to put my amulets 
and jewelry in it but it won't let me
I can't return them to the frozen womb.
when my brother chases it, it makes it worse
he challenges the monster into the barn
a great dark beast with foliage
sage shaking from his body
the Minotaur come thundering out of his lair.
I'm hanging from two meathooks on the barn wall
as he smashes into it, his hot breath on my heels
my brother tricks it into another ring
he continues to run until he severs a foreleg
and turns into a small bronze bull
but still we can't stop him
even on three legs he charges
why were we teasing him, coaxing him
out of the darkness when he was in a pure rage
no reasoning here
we had to transform him, capture him
so he wouldn't ambush us
he said, this is where my father 
enters into the relationship
when it gets real. 
This is where my mother enters into it
the shame of family madness
I won't carry the burden, 
I owe that allegiance to myself.


Monday, August 20, 1990

KPFA interview on censorship and the arts with Ken Larsen



Love, where is thy sting?
—after St. Paul
 Death where is thy sting-a-ling
   —from a 30s song
Nature is non-moral.
—Steven J. Gould

We abhor the notion of the parasitic wasp
burrowing blind through live flesh.
Resembling a dormant seed, it lies asleep
in the larval stage, awaiting the cue
to fill its bounteous desire.
When its appetite is glutted,
it emerges, winged into sensuous air,
free at last from the prison of host-carcass,
having satiated the blood-lust
and the consuming desire that indulged
its cannibalistic instincts—
We learn nature is non-moral,
but the religion of love
is based upon the unprincipled plundering
of the soft underbelly of the earth;
we dream our vanities into being.
That insidious questing hunger
glistens phosphorescent in the dark,
that imperfect prey; spent passion abandons
the husk of its crippled army,
scatters corpses like leaves to the wind—
the ghostly remainders of our lives.

8/20/90 & 5/91

Wednesday, August 8, 1990

Journal entry, 8/8/90,Wasting time

8/8/90   On Wednesday I go up to Mendocino for a Wasting time meeting, and a mini vacation. The following weekend it’s my high school reunion, and then the National Poetry Conference, followed by a trip to New Mexico two weeks later. And I was afraid that I would have nothing to do over the summer. I’ve barely begun to tackle most of the projects on my list, namely the translations, and my taxes. I also have two articles over my head, plus the final revision of my censorship essay. I feel overwhelmed. Of course I still haven’t finished my packets to the USSR, and they have to go out on Monday. Along with everything else, and I’ve frittered away a whole week. And my neck and back are now threatening to go into spasm so I’m physically uncomfortable to boot.

Soviet Poetry Since Glasnost

double-click to enlarge