Sunday, March 31, 1996


I begin this last day of March with 

Malachi Mulligan chanting to Daedalus, 
thalassa, thalassa, the sea the sea, 
she is our great mother. 
The morning echoing 
the Greek winedark sea. 
We each pray in our own fashion. 
The beauty of it is that I 
can't come back to this place.
Not even twice. Not even once.

3/31 1996


Books, too often, 
are written out of other books. 
Poems, out of other poems. 
Progeny responding to itself 
like a profusion of warped mirrors, 
reflecting only what is already known. 
Go directly to the source, 
and don't trust the poem 
begotten of other poems, 
with no prima materia 
to distinguish it from the complacency 
of what is already recorded.


Thalatta! the comet's tail

I begin this last day of March with Malachi Buck Mulligan chanting Thálatta! Thálatta, the sea, she is our great mother. The morning echoing of the Greek-tight sea.

We each prey on her in our own fashion.
That's the beauty of the slime. The snot-green sea.
Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, 
fretted his heart. Ate at his soul.
The scrotumtightening sea.Where is Dedalus when you need him?

The last time I read these lines, I was alone in a Hawaii hotel room, broiled lobster-red by the sun, angered by my pale Irish skin on a beach where generals one stood directing war traffic in the place of many springs, Waikiki. They dispatched the warriors that never returned home.

Thálatta! the snot of the sea. Stromatolites, blue-green algae are the first sex.

Olamphalos. The comet has business in another sector of the universe. 

We are measuring the age of the universe by the age of water evaporating from the comet's tail. Spit in the ocean. Measure the relative age of spirit and the ocean. Thálatta! The sea is our mother. That comet is avoiding its solar orbit.
The mother of water in its tail, the origin of life as we know it, is gathered from the depths of deep space; 4.25 billion years worth of water vaporing across our sky each night. Thálatta! The sea is our mother.

added & rev. 11/17

Saturday, March 30, 1996

CPITS reading, San Rafael

CPITS meeting at the Falkirk Center. We're reading at Open Secret in San Rafael, Steve Garber, Toby Kaplan, Arthur Dawson, and myself read to an audience of four in the temple room, a wild and wonderful room with Ganesh and Buddha, and hundreds of Tibetan singing bowls.

Steve's wife was there with their daughter and though he occasionally philanders through the ranks of CPITS poets, Toby says they remain committed to the relationship because of the child. 

I look at the little girl, she's beautiful and looks Irish, I say to Steve, We are mostly Irish, especially when we fight, said Steve. Funny, I resemble that. I could tell instantly that she was Irish. Why is it that we Irish can spot each other so easily? 

Of course, no one can tell that I'm Irish. I tease Susan Wooldridge about being Jewish when she, Steve and Tobey all look at each other. Susan saying to Tobey and Steve: I didn't know you were Jewish! We laugh. Their blue eyes dancing, I laugh, saying, Everyone thinks I'm Jewish, and I'm 100% Irish. Susan instructs me to turn around, and slaps my butt, and says, Yup you're Jewish. 

Thursday night I'm going over to Tobey's for Passover. Someone asks, how do you get invited? and the tradition of the CPITS poets Passover dinner is born.

Wednesday, March 27, 1996


Marat asleep, or murdered in the bath,
it makes no difference.
JL David's classical references were made,
upheld, perspective upheld perspective,
keeping us all in our places.
We are invited to view him, like voyeurs,
but are not allowed in. The painting is a wall.

The viewer is held in lower esteem than the artist.
The hierarchical distancing of art
that instructs, rather than just is. Or is-be in Irish.

Is it true Saint Augustine was the first writer
to scribe from the point of view of self question mark,
the "I am" that we are so eagerly following 1500 years later?
Is there nothing beyond this I am?
To think I blamed this Descartes
for moving us into the realm
where we separate ourselves from nature,
when, in reality, it began at the fall of Rome
eleven centuries of civilization
disappearing in a generation.
It might as well of been an afternoon
on the other side of the Empire.

Was the empire staring back like a temporal wormhole,
the proverbial eyes of the wolf both suckling and on suckled?
Remus and Romulus practicing cross speculation.
Milk mother who was Rome of the seven hills.
There are different opinions of course,
the window of the eye, nonetheless myopic hidden agendas
coloring the perspective of the victor
in a fit of self-aggrandizement, calling it history.

Such is the story of the Celts,
always on the wrong side of history.
And the civilized world can't understand
the anger of our politics,
why the Sinn Fein, forced into a bed, not of our own choosing.  
or the political annihilation and trivialization of our culture,
except on St. Patrick's Day, then everyone's Irish.
We've even lost Halloween to the great galaxies of culture.
On the other side of our belief exists Oisín, and Tír-na-n´Og,
land of the eternally young, on these clement shores.
But age finds its way into my mirror,
reminding me of how worship is limited and ageist.

At 70, Tony Curtis quips,
can you imagine being with a woman
old enough to be my wife?
As long as they're combined age
doesn't equal hundred
they can hold onto the illusion of youth
in the land of youth.

Jack is wearing a Guinness shirt. It's in Gaelic.
I can make out a few words. Darkness. St. James Gate.
He says clearly it is another onomatopoetic word,
the sound of a gate latch closing.
I tell him of my letter to Dear Abby
who claimed Saint Patrick was both Roman and English.
Someone says he was Welsh,
Britt, Breton or Welsh he was still a Celt.
The darkness sliding down the tongue
to the gateway of the word cock.
Words unloosing from the tongue agitate the air
until the darkness capitulate and we find ourselves
circling the the molten eddy of meaning.
Simultaneous worlds collide encircling us
between their parameters leaving me to wonder what if.

If what if, meaning if only we had met sooner,
but the XXX would have the positions would've been different.
The gate would've been locked
our hosts are on what's print something  XXXX
safe from each other's words.

ASCII hell struck with this piece, this is what I was able to rescue. Third page of notes is missing


On the other side of my heart 
there's a riverbed that lost its way,
seeking egress while I sleep. 
I wake exhausted, drowning in unborn images,
seeking a perfection of words 
in a translated world of incomplete thought
littered with random meaningless things.

The gypsy guitar is more articulate 
than all the imprisoned pens 
in yuppie briefcases, 
but this is the age of laptops.

I too have been guilty 
of keeping company 
with my warm PowerBook, 
displacing the fireside cat, 
we can no longer can afford 
the luxury of fireplaces,
trading them for thermostats 
and controlled environments. 
No time to get close to the elements.

I've never told anyone how I 
once dragged my computer to the hot tub,
despite the fear of electrocution 
or peacock feathers sprouting from my screen.

This wounded lover lost in fruitless daydreaming. 
I felt like Marat Sade composing in his bath, 
you know that painting by Jacques Louis David, 
where he's frozen in that moment in time.
Where we see him naked, and forever dead.

27 March 1996
Alexander Valley School
slightly revised for clarity 12/16


At the Dancing Goat Café 
I suck my cappuccino down 
and write these lines.
The fan is mirrored in
the thick bottom of the glass
like an angry river with nowhere to go,
these words burst the dam.
I tell my students how I'm writing a long poem
that won't finish itself and so,
writer's block finishes my thoughts
before they take shape,
allowing no prisoners.

It's been a year and a day,
time for the enchantment end.
I've taken to find finished
finding my orphaned words
loose in coffee shops:
familiarity breeds contempt.

Someone asked how long is it?
I answer 36 pages, after Hiroshige—
he made 36 views of Mount Fuji.
There is there is an audible gasp
but they think one pages long.
We talk about the importance of poetry,
how poets are renegade philosophers.
The philosopher's camera needs no film,
no silver nitrate no, no digital chip,
no darkroom, only the prima materia of the universe
to tear down the walls that separate us
from ourselves and from each other.
The notes of malaguena rains down upon our ears
creating a scaffold for the ear
to climb to the fan circling the room.

27 March 1996
Alexander Valley School


How come no one ever writes about
the roadside grave markers,
places where people have departed
to that undiscovered country
marked by crosses and plastic wreaths
in case they might want to return.
This place of death, more equivalent
than the place of birth, to memorialize.
There are too many markers
on my favorite stretches of road,
a sobering reminder of the temporality of life.

How come there are no words in English
for these places of personal departure?
Is there a word in Spanish? Liminal?
How come no one ever sees the family
of the dearly departedm planting marigolds there,
refreshing them each Dia de los Muertos,
drawing from the tradition of the Celts
and the Indian together
in their current memorization of death's doors.

Do we go on to another existence
or is there nothing but nothingness?
The denial of departure spawning
eternal generations of ghosts and philosophers
baling forever to their point of departure.

It makes me think of geometric progression
and the diminishing planes of perspective,
seemingly coming to a finite point
but always fooling the eye,
like a long hard road in the desert.
Seemingly vanishing into a lake of the sky,
only to go on and on like infinity itself,
until the edge of the continent ,
makes it define its boundaries.
Marigolds and skulls made of sugar for the dead.

I've never written about the elemental reduction
of my mother into bleached coral reefs
aligning the beaches of paradise.
How my mother wanted the ocean
to be her last road, but I've kept her in a box
all these years, a prisoner of my own inability
to articulate grief, while my father is moldering
in a lead-lined casket in the city of the dead.
Even if I could pour some whiskey over his bones,
the lead denies his egress
into where we come from,
our mother, the earth.

I think of Carolyn Kizer's mother
lost in the closet full of size 11 shoes
for a small eternity. Banishment
takes such a strange forms.
My mother lounges in a cardboard box,
and easy prison to break out of
for the more sentient inhabitants
of that room.

27 March 1996
Alexander Valley School


Because these words find me wanting,
a place real in the eye of the beholder,
I imagine landscapes filled with flowers, 
with names known only in books.,
Places that seem so real
I revisit them in dreams.
They might exist between
the pages of a book, 
or suspended midway between
the lips of a lover, leading me
to real places in the world.
The intersection of my wanderlust 
is in memory of my grandmother's
unexpressed desires.
She, who raised eight children, 
had no life other than squalling babies 
crawling in the iron red dust, 
eating bugs and litter with impunity, 
later eating their words, and others, 
as they, and their children after them, 
practiced the hunting stance 
with well aimed arrows, and epithets,
not realizing the enemy was also within,
forgetting the thickness of blood 
in their thirst for ammunition.

27 March 1996
Alexander Valley School



Because these words find me wanting
a place real in the eye of the beholder,
an imagined landscape filled with flowers 
with names known only in books.
Places that seem so real 
I revisit them in dreams 
though they might exist only
between the pages of a book, 
or suspended in mid air 
from the lips of one to another,
leading me to real places in the world.
The intersection of my wanderlust 
is taking form in the memory
of my grandmother's unexpressed desires.
She, who raised eight children, 
had no life, other than squalling babies 
crawling in the iron rich mud,
children eating bugs with impunity,
and later eating their words 
as they, and their children after them, 
practice the hunters stance
with well aimed epithets,
forgetting that the thickness of blood 
is more holy than water.
In their thirst for ammunition, they,
not realizing the enemy was within.
I imagine the breadth of history's story 
when I came to realize the outrageous arrows 
flew unheralded through the centuries 
to find their mark within. Genetic memory.
assuaged by the knower's ink 
blossoming into words.

27 March 1996 Alexander Valley

Saturday, March 23, 1996

Comet sighting

Happy Spring! Nearing midnight I immediately found it in the sky, a fuzzy light, looking a little off-center. I could really see the tail, a real comet, though it was fairly wispy. Imagine, all over the world, people are looking for the comet with an unpronounceable name: Comet Huakutake.

25 March: Last night was supposed to be the big night for viewing the comets, or should I say, comet singular, as they're exceedingly rare. It was cold yesterday as if we were having more snow. Storm clouds, and biting wind reminds me of Russia.

At the Sebastopol flea market, a Russian woman mutters something in Russian: squelca denge (how much), and yells Tree dollar! to the Mexican woman selling clothes, neither leaving the comfort of their native language. Amazingly, they seem to understand each other well enough to do business. Tree is close enough to three and, tres, and dollar, no matter how thick the accent, is an international word.

Monday, March 18, 1996

Blank verse

I keep forestalling the inevitable, writing in my new journal because a few pages were left blank in my previous journal. And so, a stalemate ensues, and there is nothing to be done, except to take the plunge. Fragmentary scratches posing as writing, an extension of thought separated by commas. A verbal shoutout at the OK Corral where the only thing left sanding are the fence rails draped with ghost words.