Friday, July 28, 1995

Gundlach-Bundchu reading

A good turnout: 35+ people showed up for the Gundlach-Bundchu Dead Poets reading in the vineyard by the caves. I read William Carlos Williams The Red Wheelbarrow to appreciative chickens roosting on haybales. 

People commented that my reading of the dead poets was very dramatic. I made an impact, or they liked the way I read. A wonderful reader they said. Lila of Readers Books said I performed so well they were going to put me on the main stage tomorrow with Bill Moyers to help raise money for California Poets in the Schools. 

I'm a little miffed, don't they know that I'm the Area Coordinator for CPITS? I feel a bit betrayed by my CPITS protege, Arthur Dawson who should've made sure I was included in the festivities. So much for altruism and reciprocation. I feel like a ghostly apparition.

Apparently my fundraising strategy was so good on Wednesday night that I raised over $50 in nickels and dimes. They said I was such a good emcee, they would love to use me tomorrow, but they'd already asked someone else. Clearly, I have made an impact, too late. 

Thanks a lot, Arthur, for supporting me. Hopefully the networking will pay off next year. They asked me to come early to the reading to help set up. This is good because I keep getting a negative vibe form Luis Kong. He's keeping his distance as if his trouble with CPITS was my fault.

Arthur Dawson, his wife, Jill, and I went to Murphy's Pub for a pint. A surprise to see Don Coffin there playing Irish music. We sang along, and drank and ate ourselves silly. 

I was busy talking to Jill, when Don yelled out Maureen! I thought he was yelling at me for talking during his set. Turns out he wanted me to play the bodhran, only I don't know how to play it, only the spoons.

Gundlach-Bundchu Vineyards & Murphy's Pub


At Gundlach-Bundchu Vineyards
lost etudes resurrected at sunset 
mid-summer over 100 years later 
the viola sings a cello song. 
The pines at the edge of the vineyards
stand at rapt attention. 
The chickens tail up. We eat grapes, 
drink Pinot Noir, admire the bouquet,
the darkness of pine needles
enters into the equation. 
The combs of chickens against oat hay
blood of poppies. The Valley of the Moon
undulate below us. Vineyards in full leaf,
like wild frozen dancers
caught in the gyrations of music.
Pinecones punctuate the grass.
The last blossom of sunlight on her face
as she plays the final note.
We are always students
learning the path of the notes.
In the distance, deep growl
at Sears Point Raceway,
is like a beast in the belly.
We read Neruda, Vallejo, and Tu Fu
at the Dead Poets Society reading.
The fog rolls in, we, in summer dresses
shiver, as Arthur reads an Eskimo poem
about words and magic when the animals
and people were one thing.
Undulating vineyards like frozen waves
as if the ocean forgot to move along,
and was caught poised, midflight
from the farthest Pacific shore.
A horse whinnies, house lights
wink like misplaced stars.
Windows and the suicide of light.
Death again rides the parameters of the field,
the aerial ballet of the bat
We read poems until the light is done,
then we say them from memory,
then, when that fails, we sing them,
as if the very words of the dead
could bring back the sun.
We become silhouettes
The ridges, like the arms of a dream
gather up the songs, a bouquet of words
and we come undone
in the Valley of the Moon,

Gundlach-Bundchu Vineyards

Wednesday, July 26, 1995


At the Sunshine Café 
I remember an image 
standing by my old VW 
with Yvonne telling me a story
about how her father felt about love 
and the way that Athena 
sprung full-blown from her father's mind.
I don't know the meta-language
behind what she said, was it in code?
But we swiftly tumbled into the physics 
of teaching children poetry.
I remember the way winter light 
soothed the edges of the hills.

rev. slightly 17 Nov 2015

Thursday, July 13, 1995


I threw out my dead mother's 
false teeth today, 
and I realized for the first time  
that I'll never be who I was 
before my parents died 
as if it were something 
I could ever get back to. 
Imagine death saying that. 
I'll get back to you. 
Say it three times.
Say it until it coats the tongue 
with consonants that will bleed 
into the printer while you sleep. 
I dreamt my father brought me stories. 
These words, my soul inheritance, 
my progeny.

13 July 1995
rev. slightly 17 Nov 2015


Three indignant sparrows
sing so hard that the bush quakes.
Vultures spend a glad afternoon 
amid new mown fields and hay bales.
Those feathers caught up too soon 
don't bode well for flight, 
and grief is a found object.
My grandmother said, 
a bird flying into your house 
means a death in the family. 
Michael Hannon writes: 
happiness won't come easily. 
You have to fight for it 
every step of the way. 
I am a seasoned fighter.
But the lesson of impermanence 
is merely impermanence.
Every atom weeping into a folded wing 
and 100,000 corpses dance on a pin.

The poet's job is to bring the news 
of the unspeakable into the world.

13 July 1995
rev. slightly 17 Nov 2015