Sunday, December 31, 1995

Mt Diablo from Clayton, drawing

I had finished teaching art at the Montessori school in Clayton, I was so close, I was practically looking up the mountain's nostrils. I made a quick sketch on the trunk of the car as I was packing up my art supplies.

Shells, three drawings, stabillo pencil, 3/95

Though these drawings were actually dated 3/95, I'm posting them Dec. 31, 1995, so I can find them easier. In-class drawings.

Thursday, December 28, 1995

Light: particle, or wave?

Light: particle, or wave? If a wave, then not instantaneous, but sequential. I will break my promise to buy Nathan's father apricot brandy this Christmas. He comments: as if he needed it. It took two years for Edison to find a lightbulb that worked. Edison tried 6000 times to find the right filament. Einstein invented a new universe relative to the young one.  Now Newton's universe is full of holes. The frame of reference was built by absorbed particles, so could particles be waves? Particles are waves. Interference waves. Heisenberg said; You can measure position on speed, but not both. The Uncertainty Principle. We can't know if light is both a particle, or a wave. You can't observe position and speed at the same time. The comfortable certainty that science provided didn't exist any more. Relativity itself is only what you say it is.

Friday, December 22, 1995

Fragments for Arc

Obler's paradox. The universe is so immature that all the starlight hasn't had time to reach us. If there are so many bright stars in the universe, why isn't the sky lit up at night?

What is the speed of water rising up a dahlias stem? 4 feet an hour. Is this true of all plants? 

The bomb Oppenheimer a blind woman saw the light and asked about it. Eoliths: dawn stones.

The Dogstar, Serius. Roman dogs were sacrificed in winter. 
Egyptians believed there was an alliance, or a dalliance between the sun and the brightest star and it caught the summers heat. The dog days of summer. 
They circle each other in a 50 year-orbit, like slow dancers sniffing each others assholes. The closest one now is -94. The dog and the dwarf always circling in a gravitational red shift.

Beautiful words in the English language cellar door, bodega dunes, bread pudding, back porch, spring training, public library, atomic bomb.

They say after the bomb went off, Oppenheimer rode into the hills with whiskey and chocolate. Was he seeking the sacred plain of Kuruksetra?

In the fall of 1992, 50 years after Oppenheimer had founded Los Alamos in a Faustian bargain, I visited the museum where forest-green casings for Fat Man and Little Boy slept.

Oppenheimer was a Bohemian scholar, a Jew, and he devoured 16th-century French poetry. He thought a bomb would make the world a better place. Quantum mechanics. Enamored by the Bhagavad Gita, he moved increasingly to the left and learned Sanskrit. The first chapter laments the consequences of war.

But Pearl Harbor led to the Manhattan Project . In the fall of 42 Los Alamos was founded. Code names: Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. Lawrence built the bomb, and it was a place he was not allowed to name. The sudden irony of one-way tickets to a tiny station in NM. A secret lab atop a mountain, a potential of things to come a walled city. They said that worms came out of the faucets. 

Edward Teller played Beethoven late at night, disturbing everyone in the bomb town. 

Did my cousin Marie Walsh attend the parties drinking lab alcohol? I search the stills looking for a family resemblance in these 1940s women. Mary hadn't yet found us. A woman I had never met. They say I resemble her in baby photos. That she look like an angel. 

A radio station with no call letters. In 1942 there was barely enough plutonium in the world to cover a pinhead. The first atomic bomb was detonated in the Obscuro Mountains, Alamogordo, Trinity was Apache country, Jornado Del Muerto, the journey of death

The world became unnatural. GIs slaughtering wild antelope with machine guns. 

Thye say there was storm lightning that night, the night of fear, a portends of things to come it was an augur light in the desert he said, I was a different person from then on. The purple clouds, the key to the thunder reverberated, echoing back-and-forth and Oppenheimer yelling, It worked, it worked! The light of a thousand stars.

The sun was rising in the wrong direction. The blind woman saw the light and asked what it was, having no reference to it. Oppenheimer rode off into the hills carrying chocolate and whiskey to drown his sorrows. They say that the hair of cattle turned white. A black cat with white spots.

Then, Tokyo, reduced to rubble. The bomb was dropped because no one had the courage to say no. Hiroshima was a virgin city, untouched by firebombs and Frank Oppenheimer said, We hadn't thought about of all those fallen people. What have we done? It shouldn't be in anger, my brothers.

The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2: The Eternal Reality of the Soul's Immortality

Mary's death by cancer, and her cousin, my mother's breast cancer, a result of the bomb fallout.

Shoah is the Hebrew word signifying utter destruction. Holocaust. Shovah, a period of time in Japanese history. Shiva, goddess of destruction. L'shanah tovah. Cast our sins into the river. The starlight of the universe unleashed all at once. Karma, revelations of the ultimate truth. Om, shanti, om.


Wednesday, December 20, 1995

Solstice Blues: the day Jerry Garcia died

I've been sleeping until 10 AM the past few days, very uncharacteristic of me. We approach the solstice at the speed of darkness while I sleep like the dead. Only with strange dreams. Do the dead still dream?

Mike Tuggle on translation and transliteration, translates a dream. I think of Peter Sellers. Mike offers advice. Do not repeat yourself, he said, repeating himself, Do not repeat yourself.

Deadheads holding long stemmed roses at sunset overlooking Bolinas Lagoon. While I was atop Mount Tam, where I was conceived, the day Jerry Garcia died, that hot August night.

They say to play the blues, a bluesman has to live the blues, he has to have lived a life of sorrow. A 10-year-old, Brody Buster, harmonica prodigy, opened for B.B. King, at age 8. We're talking dark blues clubs and alcohol. You don't really have to live the blues in order to play the blues, says Brody. Wise child. He.


Tuesday, December 12, 1995

All the Goldeneyed Birds

Yesterday Nathan and I went to see Goldeneye, the latest James Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan. He was certainly handsome, but I didn't laugh as much as I did in the old Sean Connery 007 films. The entendres were well delivered. You could see them coming, the bad girl was thoroughly bad, the Russian focus was fun—especially St. Petersburg, but having lived there, I was distracted by familiar sites, places that I had walked daily. The plaza where the blackbirds, with their golden eyes, trapped suns, strutted and cooed. I had a pang of homesickness when I saw the airport, where Valera had greeted me with carnations. A pang, because I fell out of love with him, and couldn't ever get back to that place within me. And now it seems that Sonny and I are heading towards a truce, but to what end? All the golden-eyed birds in the bottom of a shot-glass.

Monday, December 11, 1995

Giving it back to the Dead

Day three or four of earache, allergy medications don't seem to relieve the pressure. My cousin Sinead quips don't spray hairspray in your ears. I had to laugh as this was one of my mother's bizarre quirks. I put a scarab on the earring I've been wearing as a bracelet these past few months. Thinking it might help.  Yesterday, the wire broke, I lost the scarab, it was one of Mom's. I am devastated, but maybe it's time to give back the dead to the dead. We've done our year's worth of penance. For both my mom and my dad. It will be his birthday in two days. Time to move on. A cartouche of Horus the hawk. The feather of truth. The Egyptian book of the Dead comes back to haunt me, one of my mother's favorite books. Sinead's dad died on December 8. A busy month for the dead. Sinead said she smelled cigarettes in the hall, as if he was there, saying one last goodbye.

Monday, December 4, 1995


Be one mile above your home 
dreaming of a time when childhood 
held the meaning of magic. 
Hopefully there, you'll become 
part of the memory.

Be one mile above the coastal ridges 
where you were conceived, 
on Mount Tamalpais's body at sunset, 
after the wedding. 
Remember there are no accidents.

Be one mile north of your heart.
Watch its struggle, 
necessary growth requires the shedding of pain. 
Layer by layer, 
onion tears to cleanse the wound 
of the father and the mother.

Be one mile above Forest Knolls, 
the hill your family's owned a hundred years, 
the big rock like a phallus jotting out, 
the ravines, his legs. 
your house at his feet
if Mount Tam is a woman 
then surely this ridge is a man.
This is the way of things.

Be above the road that leads you home, 
named after an English pirate.
Remember how the Estero 
uncovered the old wood, the square nails, 
and you dreamed this was part of his legacy.
Yes, the plaque was fake.
But the idea of Nova Albion 
and the ache of those white cliffs 
seeking the cadence of speech with the sea's voice.
It told you of other stories:
How the Miwoks dressed in fine embroidered silk 
and ate shellfish from the Chinese blue bowls.

When a trader ship foundered on the craggy shores, 
Point Reyes was the foggiest place in America, 
but all you can remember is the sun 
christening this island in time. 
The point of the three Kings, Little Christmas.

Be one mile above Creamery Bay and Home Bay.

Be one mile above the sunken valleys 
where you want to skim across their surface
in bidarkas. Perhaps the Russians already did this,
but where you were raised is rich in sea nurseries 
on an otherwise inhospitable coast. 

Hover above the 
wild purple irises in spring 
and remember you carry this place within you always, 
that it wasn't a sin to be born here, 
not knowing the concept of beauty until you left in exile,
expelled from the garden by those with more money.
For, in your dreams, beauty walks before you 

in these wild coastal hills that you call home, 
having called this place home for ages untold.


Sunday, December 3, 1995

Paracas, II, first draft

Paracas, II

I have stood in the deserts where it has never rained in living memory, where the ancients brought water from miles away in canals. Snowmelt from the Andes made this desert bloom a thousand years ago, but the Cordilleras grew up to the sky, taking the fertile plains with them, until the water flowed backwards. 

I have climbed the skeletons of ancient cities, on man-made mountains, where strange crows flew to the center of the labyrinth. I have hiked into the heart of the Inca Empire. 

I have been to Sacsayhuaman, the panther of the Milky Way slept there. The red ocher on the walls. I have stood on the Masada at Cerro Baul, where there was a siege of 50 days. No water forced a surrender. 

Why was Chan Chan deserted like all the other citadels along this coast? When the Spanish came? All the deserted terraces lying fallow for 500 years, the desert endures the confession of stone. 

I have carried the red rocks back from Nazca where they have lain undisturbed for centuries, staring up into that forever sky for millennia on end, while the constellations orbited into the Aquarian age. Who knows how long the erosion chewed on their rock faces, the undersides, smooth from river polishing? This place that hasn't seen a river flow in the millennia. 

Skulls and bones have lain here undisturbed for a thousand years. Llama bones and scraps of burial shrouds. The ceremonial death ritual to ensure life. 

Climbing the metal water tower on the Pan-American Highway, we view the necropolis. Chen Chen was already in decline when the Incas invaded Chimo the remains of hundreds of young women in the burial bed of the king. God Kings of Chan Chan. 

Coastal desert reed boats on the Pacific. Where do you find water in the desert where it never rains? Green jewels on cliff edges In the Moche Valley.

I stood at the top of this ancient pyramid at Huaca del Sol, abandoned canals 2500 years old. The the inter valley canal, once fed by a river 60 miles, away was built in 1100 A.D. There are hundreds of canals and river valleys here, they used the water to measure the degree of slope. I've walked down those dry canal beds, with their sophisticated hydraulics on par with the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian pyramids, as a great ancient engineering feat.

Meanwhile the land rose like a budding tooth. 

El Niño in 1983, flooded this region; 50 feet above the valley floor there is a flood line with freshly eroded bricks above it. The taxi driver tells us of the flooding of El Niño, he said that the Pan-American Highway was underwater. 

I'm reminded of the pink flamingos at Titicaca, on the altiplano, the giant Andean coots and grebes, the shell middens like giant chess figures dotted the landscape on this rapidly receding coastline where one coastal uplift of 60 feet at a time, combined with a deluge of rain, forever altered the landscape. 

The orange and red Peruvian buses with their white stripes like a reflecting mirror shining on the desert into these opposite shores. 

I've stood in dry riverbeds, and I have been the raw scarred banks, decades after the deluge. All those skulls staring out to sea, refusing to stay buried, as if the sea held all the answers.

Only now, after seven years, every cell in my body having replaced itself, but what about my hair? Surely my hair hasn't replace itself, for it is longer than seven years growth. 

On the temple of the moon above Machu Picchu I wanted to leave something of myself behind for my dead grandmother and so I cut off a chunk of my hair and left a quartz rock from home at the top of the moongate. 

December 3, 1995 (from my journal)

See Letter to Luis Kong, from the Necropolis, Paracas 1988