Sunday, March 21, 2004

Alternator Blues Coyote

After teaching Fri. at Alexander Valley School, the new-to-me Nissan's alternator died on the freeway in the rain at dusk, in Cotati, and I was miles from either home...I had to literally rely upon the kindness of strangers (I was Blanche(d) alright!!! with fear)...

Filling up at the gas station, I spotted a stranger wearing a Harley cap, named Jim O'Hara (I knew I was in good hands: he looked like my cousin, luck of the Irish) after an ordeal, Jim got me headed toward home (Tara? Was I Scarlet?) with a new Kragen battery and an admonition: "don't use anything electrical" and I got to my cabin in Forestville some 25 miles away, using the wipers only when I couldn't see anymore...I couldn't make it back to Oakland (an hour) with the headlights on.

The Kragen guy said I could go maybe 20 miles on a battery & no alternator...and of course my car has ALL the idiot lights (all using up precious electricity).

Anyway, after numerous phonecall, and "hold please", I located the part I needed on Sat. from Smothers, and a neighbor mechanic put it in, but everything I earned the last two Fridays and all my emergency wallet money ($100 bill) was spent on the "free" car.

I think my mad careening around with Coyote the other night (see below) sent an already fragile alternator over the edge. So that's why the engine light was on... of course, being an idiot light, it didn't specify that the alternator was bad...

What a night. I need a cell phone.

Still reeling (in Oakland at present...)


(SPIN is a silk painter's conference in Santa Fe; Isabella Whitworth (UK) is making a wall hanging for the conference with pieces from all over the world...My Coyote in Alexander Valley is one of them.

Maybe I should fix my original SPIN square and see if it'll shrink so the image will fit. I tried to peel off the affixed Pellion no avail. I prefer the original piece to the second 11th-hour piece, unfixed but now safely in Isabella's hands (vs. in the mouth of her mad howling collie named Collie with postal aggression issues)...

There's a story attached to my piece...ironically, my SPIN square is of a coyote (trickster) howling at the moon. Coyote's been in my pocket ever since the last full moon

in my other life, I'm an artist in the schools. I began a series of new silkpainting workshops, and evening storytelling gigs at schools after months of no work... Real live coyotes were howling at the full moon at my first evening gig at the Alexander Valley grange, which gave me the inspiration for my piece.

Amidst the sleeping vineyards, small leaf hands opening to the prayer of spring, Mt. St. Helena, backlit by indigo & moonlight, the Russian River murmeling to the crescendo of crickets & coyotes.

* * *

The other evening (3/18/04) I was to tell stories at TWO inner city-schools back-to-back (someone cancelled at last minute) for Oakland's Family Reading Night. So I put on my storyteller's costume, I made it to the first school ontime (despite a massive traffic snarl on 580). In a sweltering gym packed to the gills with kids and grannies, I told Anansi & coyote stories, and we all howled like mad, invoked the rainstick.

Timing was very tight. I was assured the 2nd school was merely "minutes" away but MapQuest gave the WRONG directions. Some demi-bright city planner named all the streets & avenues as numbers...AND all the avenues & numbered streets have an extension East in the title...which gives any given address 4 possibilities, all in the dicey part of East Oakland.. And I don't like numbers.

I couldn't find the second school, at Highland Hospital (gunshot capital of CA), it skipped from the 1300 to the 1900 block, no 1700...  (it was an unseasonable balmy night for March, indigo sky, crescent moon).

The Brothers and the Cholos were all hanging out in the 'hood with their cellphones permanently glued to their ears: lotta shit goin' down. There I was, caught in the crosslight of a cultural conundrum called East Oakland, but I was desperate. All those kids waiting for me somewhere nearby. I was griot. I was poet. I was brazen. I was there to tell their children stories, dammit. Magic was afoot and would not be impeded.

So I had all these bad-ass guys all calling my school contacts, only no one was answering their phones. I told one cabrón (who spoke no English) that I was to tell the kids a story about el Coyote Azul, and he just roared with laughter and shouted, buena suerte! as I sped off like a madwoman possessed, myriad silk scarves wafting like Isadora Duncan's. Madre de Dios!  Gawd knows I needed good luck. Who scripted this night anyway?

So I tried the other end of town, in the industrial flats, on the other side of Amtrack, by the shipping yards, (Port of Oakland, not a place to hang, even by day), I was literally airborne over speedbumps, careening around corners in a friend's new-to-me car, a Nissan the size of General Patton's tank.

I eventually found the school, but not at the given address, it had moved several blocks west to the new Cesar Chavez Center...I spotted droves of kids leaving a barred compound with pizza boxes...and I followed the reverse tide back several blocks to the school only to find an empty gym, reeking of new paint, and I just burst into tears, howling like Coyote himself.

The good news, the school invited me back to do another story. Should I tell them about Coyote? Lately I've been thinking about making a bilingual Spanish kidbook of Blue Coyote, with silk illustrations... He's been very busy these days. And we artists obviously lead charmed lives, boldly going where the sane fear to treadÑespecially in the barrios after dark.

I poured myself a rather large glass of last year's wine when I got home. Peeeled the label off the bottle, it said where I've been, Alexander Valley vineyards, Mt. St. Helena rising up to touch the sky.

Friday, March 12, 2004

FOUND POEM lists —aphohorism chain poem

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link
A rolling stone gathers no moss
After the storm comes the calm
All aren't hunters that blow the horn
As green as grass
As is the gardener so is the garden
As you sow, so shall you reap
Better to go back than go wrong
By hook or by crook
Deeds are fruits, words are but leaves.


boisterous bastard conception
obsessive blight
immemorial  glamor
pedagogic rune 
build synthesis
spark rabble overture
azalea thaw
darwin colosseum
diminutive pitilessly
sharecrop utopia  
blend appetite rot
besiege bacterium hour
cypriot diesel
affluent  crescent
secondhand dessicate shop
abdomen dirt company
forestry africa



Thalatta, thalatta, the sea, the sea…
& Ulysses asleep, as I write with a pen, blue as thalassa. 
Thalatta, old sea, thalassa, new sea, both wine-dark. 
A drunken boat rocking, rocking, that slap and thunk.
As if a fist against a slab of meat… Industrious measuring, 
the blue eye on the prow plumbing the depths for signs of danger, for luck…
it’s all the same thing in the end. What sailors, what shore?

I write with a blue disco pen shedding blue light, 
a gift so beautiful I can hardly bear to write with it, 
I can barely contain myself. Homer was blind. 
What would purlblind Joyce have done with this distraction? 
The novelty of a pen lighting my words in the darkness…
I can’t wait to turn off the lights and see if my words, 
written in darkness, in knower’s ink, 
shed a different light when written thusly, 
will I find new metaphors at the end of the sentence?

And her lost sandal greeting the lip of Venus in the rosy-fingered dawn…

My hands, dyed woad from today’s art 
would be the same equation as darkness. 
I am mesmerized by color, traffic light amaze me, 
the green but not really green, teal blue, 
the color of epaulets of wild ducks 
and the red verging on magenta, 
venous blood from the inside of the wrist. 
And the yellow of the sun trapped behind glass.

These colors we use to invoke all other colors, 
to call them forth. Light, prisms, 
the edge of a broken bottle behind the hospital 
casting rainbows on the far wall.

Newton was right, light so amazing 
that he theosophized eloquent and the poets, 
when the saw what was possible, 
abandoned their dreary palette of words, 
drab browns and greys, and invoked color, 
pure prismatic color in their verse, 
liberating it from the mundane 
so that I may write this nonsense 
about the sea, the sea, 

all that blue uinleashed in this pen, 
it was a business gift from
one Japanese business man 
to another, to curry favor…

And Ulysses still sailing home 
heroically after all these years, 
Stephen Daedalus trading in his oars 
for tt’s taken from thalatta, for thalassa, 
having arrived in the 21st century 
a hundred years hence, the sea, 
Demotic Greek, the Olympiads 
returning home to Athens in time for the Games. 
Sea, sea and sky are one thing on the horizon. 
Look how Bloomsday approaches 
at the speed of sight.


(I know this says March but I suspect it was written in June, Bloomsday. Rescuing old bit of writing from the void—1/2/2014)


bastard conception
obsessive blight
immemorial  glamor
pedagogic rune 
build synthesis
spark rabble overture
azalea thaw
darwin colosseum
diminutive pitilessly
sharecrop utopia  
blend appetite rot
besiege bacterium hour
cypriot diesel
affluent  crescent
secondhand dessicate shop
abdomen dirt company
forestry africa


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Moonlight Over Alexander Valley

I did a poetry lesson at the local school and silk after school, we did hoops for the annual spaghetti feed art auction that raises money for the school—and the arts program. It's so fun when everybody bids on these big barrels of wine... California's finest...and the wine flowed liberally the Alexander Valley grange, at the foot of Mt St Helena, under a full moon, coyotes singing in the distance...after a dismal winter, hope returns in the tattered jackets of flowers by the roadside.

I passed the math(s) test! Something I've never beem able to do...I can't believe I had to wait until I was 51 to pass a math test! Only now is my mind ready...I too hated writing, didn't write at all until I was 30, then something happened...a dam burst, maybe it's because in art, I have no words, just color and light and shape.

At present, I am reorganizing my silk a lot of stuff on Fri...I feel like King Midas recycling the gold gutta....actually I'm stalling/ procrastinating on my SPIN square...acaicias (wattles?) in bloom, and my eyes/nose(s!) running. welcome to spring.

When writing, write faster than you can's usually better that way Besides the big censor kicks into overdrive if you give it the time. Me? I take no prisoners! I'm dyslexic so it's interesting, if not odd  that I write as well. I believe that with art as a basis, that one can learn, become proficient in writing. You already have the honed skills. Words are just a new kind of dye.

But hey, the  moonlight was incredible over Alexander Valley, coyotes serenading the full moon in a distant canyon, the daffodils nodding their heads in the Chinook breeze  (we plant them by the rural roadsides here for cancer victims, etc. It began as a fundraising campaign, a dollar a bulb, and now Marin and Sonoma County roadsides are ablaze with yellow. 

After 9/11, many people planted a bulb for each of the fallen. In our small church yard in Nicasio (think George Lucas territory), thousands of blooms nodding their heads in agreement.)  

I not only have math anxiety, but I have math rage...I get homicidal when I read some of the inane trick questions...and wonder what's the point of testing us? So many math questions are so poorly written and I have dyslexia and so I have to be ultra careful with the reading part. Then if my eye sees a number, it does strange computing—that has nothing to do with the problem. It's like I'm schizophrenic when it comes to math in that I have moments of lucidity, amid hours of confusion... (did you ever see Beautiful Mind with that gorgeous man, Russell Crowe?)

When it comes to math, I do absolutely nonsensical stupid mistakes ...though I understand how to solve them. Then the shytes who make these (teacher) tests, make up questions where they don't even want the answer, they want you to come up with another alternative (algebra) I mean who cares as long as you understand the problem and can solve it. 

I saw a (woman, thank god) math tutor who was fascinated by the way I solved problems...she said she was classically trained, and me, well, I circle as an artist does, from an oblique angle. (how's that for a rant???) Oops. I beg your pardon... Lately I've taken to cracking codes and dropping cyphers off in abandoned warehouses...(just kidding).

OK, so here's the burning question: so why does everyone refer to math in the plural, schizophrenia, royals, or because there are many forms of math(s)? Where is Pythagoras when you need him? I actually discovered I was good at and liked geometry...of course, we artists understand form/volume at the ground level, right?

Alas, the PO is closed now, so I'll send gorgeous rainbow colored pens out via carrier pigeon tomorrow!!!

Monday, March 1, 2004


May you bring nature to us all
May the seconds pass by
like graceful birds
floating in the sky of you
May the birds build their nests
\in your bed of dreams
May you bring nature to us all.

no idea of date, found in May You poet teaching folder. Paper is somewhat yellowed, but not funky. sI'm ticking it in March 2004, but it could easily be1994 or 2014 for all I know.