Monday, February 26, 2018

Will Durst asked: How many of your high school teachers would you have confidently armed?


Will Durst asked: How many of your high school teachers would you have confidently armed? The ex- Marine wrestling coach? The English teacher who spaced out during John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn?” The librarian regularly hitting her flask behind the stacks? Sister Mary Uzi?

I replied: Our English teacher Ms. Mary McKay spaced out over Eleanor Rigby, and got a contact high from Kubla Khan. But then, she wore rose-colored glasses, had a permanent headcold, and lived in her own personal Xanadu in the Haight. No telling how she managed to get to school and back on her own. She was always enveloped in blue smoke, her aim would be clouded.

Music teacher Darryl Parker laced his coffee so heavily, it was a wonder he could drive over White's Hill at the end of the day, let alone, aim a gun. Art teacher Warren Fairbanks who sampled the ample wares of one classmate, was also an imbiber of sorts. His aim was sexual. The school narc married a classmate. His gun was always loaded. Kelly was one hot redhead.

Maybe I would trust my math teacher Archie Williams, who won the 1936 Olympic gold medal, and shook Hitler's hand, but he was far too kind a man to pull the trigger. I never did learn much math in his classroom but loved him anyway.

Maybe the Dean of Girls, Miss Ann West. She suspended me for wearing culottes, and for cutting class to hitch to Stinson Beach in February (the sunburn gave it away). She could have handled being armed. She had plenty of ammo. No problemo.

Philosopher Jerry Lucy taught us to question everything. I can't imagine twin Uzis mounted to his wheelchair. But hey, something he said must've resonated, we shut down the San Rafael Draft board and said no to war. But then, Michael Rossman's little brother was our school president, we had a direct line to the Free Speech movement even though we were tweeny-twerps.

The FBI was very interested in us, and well-armed right from the very beginning.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Mad donkeys


Someone posted photos of donkeys wearing floral headbands, they looked so angelic. But looks can be deceiving.

My donkey Joshua was one of the mean ones who didn't like kids. She plotted all forms of nefarious revenge for riding her. One time I was feeding her a carrot and she latched onto my finger, knowing it was my finger, and then ground away, and sawed her jaw back and forth, hell-bent on severing my finger. I had to pound on her somewhat hollow head in order to get my finger back.

Josh was plain old mean to the bone. She didn't like kids, and I was stuck with her because no one else could, or would ride her. Or get past her teeth. Born under the mean tree. She taught me to be wily. She'd dump me in the most awful of places. Ditches, briar patches, thistles. 

She'd bloat, would wait for the cinch to loosen up, hit a gallop (she was otherwise lazy and dawdled), then slam on the breaks at a strategic spot. She even broke my arm (but I never knew it until I was in an accident in 1997, as I hid all wounds from my granny....) 

There are many sour donkeys out there. I love Jim Dodge's descriptions of Ol' Pissgums in Not Fade Away. Our neighbors had tall grey donkeys who were sweet. More like Irish donkeys. I wonder if it was the particular breed that was so ornery? Josh was the smaller brown Spanish type. She had the Latin temperament down cold.


 I'd rather take my clever, scheming Shetlands (who kept me up nights) any day. Luckily Joshua's lame daughter Nay-nay was sweet. My horses were sweeter yet. I understand there are sweet donkeys out there...but Josh was not of that tribe. 

One of the few times Josh was a good donkey was when we were part of a Christmas pageant in Marin City. We began at the top of the hill, and there I was, Joseph, decked out in white sheets (al la KKK) leading Josh down the hill with my friend Step as Mary on her back.... (everything hinges on the location location location...I knew something was off, but I didn't know what.)

I do wonder if the type of donkey has something to do with their temperament. When I was young, I thought there was only one breed, I was astounded to discover there were many breeds of donkeys. I suspect Josh was a Spanish donkey, the donkey breed of the American West, and of prospectors. She came from Clear Lake, and lived a very long time...

A photo of my friend Steph and Nay-nay, caught diving through the fence. (She got stuck...) Sadly, I don't have a photo of Josh.


Donkey Wars
EARLY WARNING SYSTEM

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ODE FOR JOHN OLIVER SIMON


May you always dream
of the freedom of clouds
scutting across the sky.
May your laughter be
raucous as the crows at sunset
and carry their dark wisdom forth.
May you sleep soundly
with wild birds in your heart.
And may your thoughts be
like godbeams of the sun
at daybreak to pierce
the ordinary and the mundane.
And may the mountains rise up
to hold you on their crests
so that the stars may find you
shining among them
like a thought bearing witness
to your words shedding light
on this earthly plane.

2/14/2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Almost Ten Years a Bloggin'


Wow! My blogpage counter whirled past 500,000 hits in January and I didn't even witness it. I never imagined having that many readers, ever. I know that people are reading my blog, I just don't know who my audience is—whether they're avid readers, or merely flybys. About the only thing I do know is what people are reading.

I added the blog counter in 2010, I would imagine that I didn't have all that many visits during the first two years, perhaps 40-50,000. But it's 517,056, right now, and whirring up. It boggles the senses. My most popular post, The Viking-Irish Redhead Gene Myth 3/23/2009, has garnered 87,113 hits. Does anybody actually read it, or do they just click on it? Gratified to see Mill Valley's Unknown Museum and the Gluers Junk Art move up to fourth position. The art movement was important, and there was very little about it on the internet.

I've been blogging for nearly ten years. I began blogging in 2008, though I founded the blog in January of  2007, I let it lay fallow for a year. I was a slow adopter. To be fair, I really didn't begin blogging until August, 20, 2008, so I guess this is a bit of a preamble.

Since ca. 2015, I've been actively filling in the backstory timeline, posting work from the early years. (Groan.) I've still got a long way to go, as I am gleaning old journals. I'm branching out to include prose—and especially my travel journals.

Right now I'm focusing on the John Oliver Simon years (1985-89). Not that there were that many solid years, as I ran far from him when things went south, but he continued to influence my life and we finally buried the hatched, to become deep friends again.

My goal is have at least 52 posts a year, some years' worth of material is rather slim on content (especially 2005 and 2006), but most years are robust.

Because I've given myself permission to also post freewrites, vs. polished poems, I'm beginning to see crossover connections between posts (and also anchoring the actual date some of the early writing was written.) Matrix. Matrices? Who knew my Tengo Dinero piece had its roots in a CPITS workshop on Marge Piercy's Charm for Attracting Wild Money?

I still hold a vague hope that some of those early corrupted files where I lost vast swaths of work, will resurface, at least in draft form as I glean my old journals.

Thank you Guy Kawasaki for getting me into this mess. It's been a fascinating journey. LITERRATA or Veritas and the art of Memoir.

Happy blogaversery!
Sort of.

NB In case you're wondering why I even bother posting all these blog milestones, it's so I can keep track, and it's a way to measure my progress. Otherwise, I despair. It becomes a morass, and when self-doubt kicks in, it becomes a raft, and a memory aid. And as an added bonus: a timeline!


Porque Anadrio!



I am re-reading Otto-Raúl González'
Diez Colores Nuevos en Españo, aloud, badly.
Porque Anadrio es el color allegria!

Re-reading old journal entries from 1985, I was surprised to discover that John told me about Otto-Raúl's poem, Anadrio, when we first hooked up. No wonder I've been fulminating over that poem lately.

Funny, how the mind works circuitously, and circles back to settle like an old dog in front of the hearth. I guess I am seeking joy in a time of sorrow.

After I had helped John's daughter Kia scan photos last Thursday for the memorial, she was browsing John's bookshelf, and out of the blue, handed me the book. Of all the books on John's bookshelf, why that one, the one I wanted? Surely it was fate.

Looking up into that exact blueness of sky, I say, I begin to understand the how the theory of time and space continuum began. You say the word, Anadrio, an invented name for a new color for joy. You tell me of a Mexican poet, Otto-Raúl González, who invented ten new colors, and you said Anadrio is the color of joy and of good luck. —from Long Distance Relationship, 1985
see also Mexico Journal: getting our Guatemalan visas
It took several years for De Diez Colores Nuevos to be published (1993), and John was beginning to translate them in 1985.

Anadrio

Quien primero vio una nube de color anadrio
era un joven pastor de diecisiete abriles
que más tarde fue monarca de su reino
y hombre feliz hasta decir ya no,
porque el anadrio es el color de la alegría
y de la buena suerte.

¡Y de la buena suerte!
¡Y de la buena suerte!
¡Y de la buena suerte!

En mil quinientos veinte
un español porquerizo de Castilla
vino a América y cuando se internó en la selva
vio un árbol de color anadrio
ese mismo soldado de fortuna
más tarde comió con Carlos V
y fue virrey;
porque el anadrio es el color de la alegría
y de la buena suerte.

¡Y de la buena suerte!
¡Y de la buena suerte!
¡Y de la buena suerte!

En la época moderna otras personas
han visto objetos de color anadrio
y su suerte ha cambiado en forma radical.

Un pescador vio una sirena cuya cola
era anadria y desde entonces
pescó y pescó y pescó y pescó y ahora
es dueño de una flota ballenera;
porque el anadrio es el color de la alegría
y de la buena suerte.

¡Y de la buena suerte!
¡Y de la buena suerte!
¡Y de la buena suerte!

Vendía periódicos un niño,
rapaz sin desayuno, de pobreza trajeado,
un día en su camino vio una piedra
que era, por supuesto, de color anadrio.
Ese niño actualmente es accionista
de una inmensa cadena de periódicos;
porque el anadrio es el color de la alegría
y de la buena suerte.

Pinte usted
las paredes de su casa
de color anadrio
y le irá bien.

(
Otto-Raúl González, De Diez colores nuevos, Editorial Praxis, 1993)

Thursday, February 1, 2018




OK, so my very, very elderly technology is biting me in the butt bigtime. The scanner I have does not have high enough resolution to scan negatives, and now the light table is off, so one side scans darker. So not OK.

I either need a GoFundMe project or find Patreon support (or both) to get a decent scanner that also scans negatives (Epson V800/850, around $1k used), and the time to scan. Any takers/supporters out there? I have some incredible photos of poets spanning 30+ years.

Luckily, I had already scanned most of the travel photos of John Oliver Simon earlier...

In the box: Harry Mattison & a poet flasher (aren't they all?), Will Staple & Gary Snyder at poet Robert Aitken Roshi's zendo on Maui...and that box is filled with photos. Mostly from Napa Poetry Conferences, and National Poetry Week, but also other events. Nice ones of Carolyn Kizer, Carolyn Forché, Galway Kinnell, Tess Gallagher, Frank Bidart, Janice Mirikitani & Cecil Williams, Jessamyn West, Meridel LeSeuer, Dennis Banks, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Ann Waldman, Alan Ginsberg, Larry Ferlinghetti, Bobby Kaufman, Gene Ruggles, Judy Grahn, Derek Walcott, Shirley Kaufman, etc...

And somewhere I have negatives of Alberto Blanco, Otto Raúl Gonzalez, Elsa Cross, Carlos Orellano, etc.

Then there's Poetry International negatives as well: Seamus Heaney, Dmitri Prigovv, Iosip Brodsky, Breyten Breytenbach, Miroslav Holub, the two Adrians....Henri, and?

Happy Imbolc, let there be light.

AFTER SCANNING PHOTOS of an ex for his memorial (haiku)


Haffa bottle of wine
and a haffa cheesy pizza
and I'm right as rain.

2/1/18