Sunday, August 31, 2003

GAME PLAN 1—after Sesshu Foster

GAME PLAN 1—after Sesshu Foster

The road goes on. Yes. Into a river. What was the game plan? To plunge in deep. To observe light rippling into shadow where the willow roots drink deep. Where the swallows dip down. Where the mare is tearing at the grass. The road not taken. Where we forded the river.

To the body's transgressions. To a life half lived. To a half life on the shell. To artillery. An explosion of doves. Is this the part where you duck & cover? Cheval de friese. Archaic names of war found in a field manual. Foundered. Labor long unto darkness. To the choices made. Was that the game plan?

The mare, she, pulled up short. Now I lay me... Remember to fund yourself. If only. Not regret. Observe leaves practicing flight, late afternoon. She came up short. Empty shore. Name the distinction between sea and sky. Her crooked legs failed her, Man o War blood in her veins. Her eye always on the horizon. Riding her into the wind. As if there was no end to it.

To fund the intellect the way of the psyche.

Is there a manual for that? To think we were once the wind. And now living in the present tense while sirens... Ordnance. The odor of pine, chaparral under the hot sun. Lughnasadh. End of summer. Before the fall. Hot flashes. Red mare, faster than verb. To be or not to question this life. We were in the race. But tortured dreams ran me down, tied me up in sheets. To ride like that.

Asylum from the mind, from the body.

To know flight. Call it God. Then, foundered horsepower.

Fear of mortality, fear of death. Fighting the prison of the mind. Clipped wings. I came up short. How many horses under the hood? To find a river, to fund a relationship, to found a life. To lose it. Then what?

Before the event horizon, at the race track, I looked up at her ancestor cast in bronze. We always used to yell at the slowest: Come on Seabiscuit! But a car was threading the road toward a determined republic of blood. Now I lay me down, down down... No, not in the middle of the road. Ashamed, we fought darkness. Gazing up between the oaks, I couldn't leave all that blue. No, not yet. In the middle of the road under all that cerulean sky. Let there be time to catalogue all the colors of the wind. To watch hawks tumbling down. No, not the siren. Not the needle aimed at her heart, too long for thought. Not that plunge into flesh. Deep. A whisper of wings into the dark.



Thursday, August 28, 2003

Letter to Michael Kettner, Catalyst

Dear Michael Kettner,

I noticed that you're selling a book I'm published in, under I'd completely forgotten about it...and AD Wynans...Migawd! How did you obtain a copy of the book? Would you like me to sign it to increase its value? Hahah. Um, what poem DO I have in it?

Maureen Hurley

Bookseller: M. Kettner and Son, Booksellers
Contact: Michael Kettner
Address: M. Kettner and Son, Booksellers, 1501 NE 68th, Seattle, WA, U.S.A., 98115
Phone #: 206-323-7268

Dear Maureen, 

How nice to hear from you again. Lest you have forgotten, i was the publisher of said CATALYST. Have taken a few years off writing to insure i have retirement income - to set up an on-line book biz specializing in poetry and sm. pr. stuff. Only have a few dozen of Catalyst 19 left, and since so popular, am selling them one by one on line;

Your contribution to #19 was a graphic, "self-portrait". thanks for offering to sign a copy. however with periodicals, there is little value enhancement with signatures unless multiple contributors do so or if signed by editor or famous person. in the case of erotica, the mere fact it is erotica, is usually enough. 

You did receive a copy or two of #19, did you not? don't remember you being on list of copies returned with no forwarding address. check out my list on ABE by clicking on booksellers. have over 1500 sm. pr. titles on line with at least as many to go. also have large list of general titles since it's hard to make a living on poetry alone. if you ever want to sell off part of your poetry collection, let me know. 

Take Care, M.

In a message dated 8/28/04 12:24:34 PM, writes:
<< if you ever want to sell off part of your poetry collection, >>

Hi Michael,

I've been thinking about it for ages, the books just sitting in my cabin in Forestville, some rare ones at that. And correspondence. Robert Bly/ Calliope Press...I put on that event at SSU. Lotta work & little gratis from himself.

Lee Perron--do you know him? also got into the rare book business--along with John McBride...who, if I have the story right, was laif off after 25 years from Moe's Books on Telegraph--recession, a sign of the times. As our friend Ken Bullock said, hell of a time to try & sell books. How are you doing with it? Are you still publishing journals? I did look at my resume and Catalyst is indeed listed--way back in the 1980s.

Ach, the book signing, It was merely a ploy to say hi via cyberspace...your name rang a bell, and certainly, Seattle....I'm trying to put a face/event/place to your name as I'm certain that we SF? Or Port Townsend? I'm excellent with faces, even after 20 years...when & where? Obviously you've got my drawing, it must be a self portrait...

Gawd it's been a right long while since that epic journey we took north from Mendocino: Sharon Doubiago, Leonard Cirino, Tobey Kaplan, myself and Moonlight the Alsatian shepherd, in a white station wagon named Roses. An anarchy of northern California poets crashed the Port Townsend Writers' Conference...Carol Jane Banks was having apoplexy right, left & center.

We were all sleeping on the beach, one full moon night, the tide came in and nearly swept us away. Leonard was floating around in his down bag like a cork. Bill Knott was living in a big Victorian on the bluff with Pamela Uschuk (sp)?, we spent a couple of nights on the porch. We later found some barracks that were open after that. CJ Bangs was trying to get us bounced out of the conference but we were like bad pennies. Meridel LeSueur took to us, said we stayed or else and that was that.

Meridel took Sharon under her wing, and that was the start of something, all right. I kept out of the way, feeling like a poetry impostor, and years later, Meridel was asking me why I stayed away so long, was I mad at then it was too late for a prodigal daughter.

I remember Ray Carver, a long cool drink of, er...uisge beatha, chainsmoking and we were all singing Irish songs at some bar with Tess Gallagher... and Michael Daley. Empty Bowl. And Marina Albert...putting us up. All these names bubbling up. it was a spur of the moment event that irrevocably changed my life, somehow I always thought it would continue like that, mad confabs of poets...but then long distances of time and isolation set in.

After finally breaking it off w / John Oliver Simon, I wound up in the USSR doing a poetry & art exchange. It was there I began to translate the Soviet poets. I ran into Marina in Moscow, we were both living in Leningrad with crazy Soviet singers. We'd hoard our dimes and meet at the Seagull Cafe on Nyevsky Prospect, we'd pay an outrageous sum (a week's wages for some) for lattes, worth every penny. 

One time we met Mendelstahm's publisher, it was Glasnost and there was hope. He brought his samizdat publications out of hiding and we held a piece of history. For that one publication he could've been killed. In Moscow, I saw Akhmatova's frail sister feeding pigeons in the snow. But I had to let go of Russia in order to survive. I came back to the States.

I did get to Poetry International in Rotterdam a couple of times, and was in on the Breytenbach translation project...with the likes of Holub, Heaney, Dove...I was onto something, in that I loved the process of translation, then I was nearly killed in 1997, a car accident, and with the shock and healing and all that, poetry sort of left me. I still write, but not with the fervor of the past. Dabbling in prose too, but what's a dyslexic to do with linear thought? After the accident I went back to school and got a MA/MFA at SFSU, w/ a side of Celtic studies at UC Berkekey. Did some playwriting too. But I blather on...


Hey Maureen, 

no, 12 years of publishing was enough for me. still writing. on-line is the way to go with book biz these days. more one has on line, the more you make. been learning on-line biz from a couple of the masters here in seattle. left Kathleen after 23 years a couple revolutions about the sun ago. tough at first but had to be done. 

quit job of 16 years and decided to set myself up so i'd never have to work for someone again. just write and sell books. if your poetry collection is anything like mine, i'm very interested if you truly want to sell. i'm just getting past initial years of set-up and debt management it takes to get going and could probably work something out as autumn progresses. 

glad to hear you've recovered. the writing impulse is fragile. been observing it in others for years, studying, if you will, how to maintain it and have it thrive. not easy to do, especially as one ages and life's vicissitudes work on one. have to get ready for work (at Horizon Books). talk to you again soon. -M. P.S. No, we have never met. You were in town once but we didn't hook-up, if i remember correctly.

Take Care, M.