Thursday, January 31, 2019

I have a Blogger stalker

Dear cerebellum, get a life
Quit stalking me.
If you don’t like my blog,
don’t read it.
So simple!
Move along now.
Nothiing to see here.



Like the returning salmon, I only feel at ease
when I return to my natal watershed.
The moment I cross the rise over the Tomales Bay watershed.
I let go of my tight breath, and sigh. I know I am home.
The farmlands rise up to greet me like old friends.
Without judgement, without frame, 
the convolutions of road, space and time 
take me back to a place when anything was possible—
even love.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Fort Worden Centrum summer writing conference, 1979

Fort Worden Centrum Writers Conference, 1979—with thanks to Jim Heynen

Jim Heynen posted a Facebook photo of the Fort Worden Centrum summer writing conference, from 1979. It was before my time there but the stories from that conference were still circulating in 1980 when Sharon Doubiago, Leonard Cirino, Susan Abbott, Tobey Kaplan and I crashed the Writers Conference in 1980.

The photo evoked such memories. I wrote to Jim: Ah, Sam Hamill with his curly red mop (I have a photo of him from the 1980 conference), and Bob Hass as a longhair. Migod, Levertov, and Kumin. Robert Bly was born old? We were all reading Thomas McGrath’s Imaginary Letters during those years. A hero of mine. What a handsome man. Can’t believe Bly was a belligerent asshole to Tom (hahaha). Shocked! Simply shocked, I am. We heard about that embroglio when we attended in 1980. And something about the baseball story with Levertov.... I don’t remember any of the details.

Tree Swenson and Kathleene K West. I miss her. Ever the chameleon—she said she reinvented herself every ten years. She was kind to me, got me on the Montana Poets in the schools roster. We reconnected on Facebook right before her death....I had no idea she was in such anguish. She sold me her old cellphone for $15 but never cashed the check—its name was Gravity. I deleted her pictures of New Mexico, thanked her for the phone, then I heard the news.
Jim Heynen replied: Mo, I guess Bly was actually quite good in his workshops, but he tormented McGrath during McGrath's reading by yelling from the audience, "Read the Tomasito poems!  Read the Tomasito poems!"  McGrath finally addressed him firmly with, "Patience, Robert.  Patience."
At a social event, Bly insulted Levertov by telling her she was being too hard on people in her workshops.  She started weeping and came to me, exclaiming "What a horrible man!"  But Levertov had no tear ducts to shed the tears she was feeling--so her eyelids just bulged and got red.  Another tidbit: Bob Hass was reluctant to come and teach a workshop because, he said, "I don't know how to do it."  Then he did a great job.  One exercise was having participants do an exact imitation of a poem they liked--the same number of syllables per line, and accented and unaccented syllables exactly as the original.

I told Jim, thanks for the backstory. I was standing with Tess Gallagher and Ray Carver, as they, and others were recounting the stories, which became interwoven with ours...a mythos of sorts.

I only remember vague fragments of the infamous Levertov story of baseball players, drunken writers conference parties and the dropping of the f-bomb. And something about Kumin too that made the gossip train too. The stories that survived.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Where am I?

Someone posted a quote from The Prisoner.
I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!
I am painfully reminded of all the cool places in Wales to visit, my ex partner’s sister dragged us to the fake village where The Prisoner was filmed. I was fit to be tied and asked W H Y with many question marks. We were there for six hours—it was truly a life sentence. The unanswerable questions arise. Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself. 

Be seeing you, Number Six.

Monday, January 21, 2019

iPad dictation fail

A case of iPad dictation fail!

My iamb having number.
I was in about an hour.

About the only useful thing I can say is at least it wasn’t in imbic pentameter.

Thursday, January 17, 2019



Last night’s storm pounded
like a desperate drunk at the door,
and left potholes the size of Shetland ponies.
The Laguna leapt its banks,
and kayaks decorate the new shoreline,
a vast inland sea, a river road
drowning the oaks,
leaving cattle stranded on new islands.
I saw ravens bathing in temporary lakes
in the horse pastures.
Trees and garbage bins bowed
to the untamed gods of wind and rain
while the earth shakes its mantle
like a wet dog at the fire.
They say last night Mary Oliver died.
Today is the anniversary of my former love,
John Oliver Simon’s death. Goodnight sweet prince,
The magic realm of a year and a day
is greeted by bales of hay sprouting green crewcuts,
and fields of young mustard is nodding
their golden mantles to the returning sun.


Sunday, January 6, 2019



It’s raining like mad.
atmospheric rivers
raging in the sky.

The rain pounds us down
to its level—a sea change—
salmon swimming home.

A rapid tattoo
beats a primal tympani
on roof and windows.

The old potbelly
groans like an arthritic dog—
last log on the fire.

The Epiphany
Three kings lost in the rainstorm.
A king cake of thought.


California Impressionism

Inspired by a desire to capture “impressions” of everyday life, avant-garde French artists, whose work was considered unacademic by the Salon, changed the face of art—from upholding the neoclassic ideal (think photo-realism) to focusing on the vagaries of weather and intimate life by using a bright palette, and quick, broad impressionistic brush strokes.

The French impressionist movement of 1874 was controversial because the subject matter was not Salon approved—no allegorical subject matter. It did not instruct. it was art for art’s sake, or rather, it found god in the sublime.

And instead of painting in isolated studios, they took it outside, to the fields, thanks to pioneer landscape painter, Papa Corot. Also, the invention of tube paint changed how painters painted—in plein aire.

By the turn of the century, however, Impressionism was widely embraced, with artists making pilgrimages to study with Paris’ finest painters.

The movement was embraced by California artists who also emulated 19th-century French landscapes for inspiration. Society of Six, William Keith. Maurice LeMue. Unlike east coast impressionism, California Impressionist works did not solely revolve around the vagaries of weather, or the grandeur of sublime landscapes (think Bierstadt) instead, they showcased the atmosphere and emotion of scenery—using lots of juxtaposed color swaths.

Impressionism and the California Impressionism school has certainly affected my own sense of art. We grew up with a WPA mural in the Lagunitas school office, which was later discovered to be a mural by Maurice LeMue. It became an unconscious reference when I began to photograph landscapes. So, I owe my vision, in part, to that school.

(Well, I found the article I was reading to be so clumsily written that I wound up rewriting it, so no quotes. So I guess this is now my writing. But there is art!) See the link here. From a Facebook post. Perhaps I will expand it into a full article in the future.

Saturday, January 5, 2019


I’m not liking this new year  at all.
I’ve been sneezing so hard it feels like
I’ve blasted myself backwards into yesteryear.
And all I want to do is to curl up
tighter than a tortured hedgehog
& sleep in until tomorrow,
and tomorrow and tomorrow.