BY JAN HAAG

INTRODUCTION + POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

HAAG'S BIO

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS



THE 2003 POEMS

INDEX




QUICKSILVER

#O1
01-04-03

The mind is quicker than quicksilver,
more slippery than ice.
The rain rivers the windows.
Fog moves in -- to mountain the town.
There is no hiding memory --
forgotten lying deep in the trunk.
I know when the sun shines.
I know hail's thrash at the windows.
I sit in silence. Emptiness. Waiting.
The tide moves on the Sound.





EAT THE INCENSE

#02
01-04/12-11-03

She sips the words like coffee,
She tastes the words in her mouth
-- inhaling thick, incense-saturated air --
smoke that makes her cough.
A poem rises to the left of the cursor,
letter by letter it manifests.
Tap the fingers, tap the silence.
Tap the emptiness.
Sip the cream, sip the caffeine.
Shiva snatches the straw.
The poet recognizes nothing,
it grows from her brain:
twists of gray, crimson platelets.
Paled words from a visioned mouth
speak and she hears
nothing but the Sound.





SAGACIOUS

#03
01-05/12-11-03

My kitten, wearing the softness of his belly-fur,
the sheer silk of his Siamese coat, loves the light.
His pink nose sniffs the warmth
of the lamp's bright globe,

The delicacy of his white-booted
paw tap-tap-taps each thing to the edge
and over
into oblivion
-- a God's occupation.
A human should be
more sagacious
than to call him
Shiva.





MT. RAINIER

#O4
01-06/12-12-03

The mountain becoming pink
-- a strawberry ice-cream cone --
rock-solid, tiered in black boulders,
emitting memories of volcanoes...

In the rising sun
the mountain becomes two dimensional,
a thin cut-out,
a representation of it self...

The buildings flash back diamond light
into the brightening air.
One side lit, the skyscrapers
become three dimensional.

From the second tallest building
a gigantic flag waves. A weather device?
At second glance it is a plane
flying into the tall buildings!

Will there come a time when
those who watched TV on 9/11,
no longer turn flags into planes?
I stood thinking: I am watching this.

My milk boils on the stove,
but I must watch,
must see the moment
of impact.

But there is no impact.
It is a flag -- or a weather device.
The sun's brilliance floods
the city and my white walls.

The mountain, no longer ice-cream,
remains silhouetted on the horizon.
Its nuances and rocks exist on the other side of light.
Below the sun, fog spills into the valley.

Later the solidity of the mountain
re-asserts itself, exposes its escarpments,
its faults, bones through the snow, which,
come the summer strawberries, will melt.





VSEVIDOF AND RECHESCHNOI

#05
01-07/12-12-03

Two volcanoes, or are they the same?
In the slide image they are twins
-- or duplicates: one more perfect
than the other, one slightly turned.
I trace each snow trough down their
slopes, but the eye gets confused.
Like the foraminifera, it is hard to tell
if they are the same or different?
Through the microscope or on the screen,
one sees in uncertain new ways
-- or not at all.


CHERNICOFF says:

They're sisters, almost identical they
rise from Umnak Island: Vsevidof,
younger, more photographed, more
famous and almost free of glaciers, may
have erupted seven times since 1784
-- three times for sure. Six miles away,
Recheschnoi, from the Holocene,
heavily glaciated -- an all but identical
cone to the casual eye -- has been
dormant in historic times. Peacefully
remote, in the Aleutians, white mantled,

the two, stunningly beautiful, stand
pristine geometry for the geological eye





WEATHER CHANGE?

#O6
01-08/12-13-03

The clouds obscure
the brightening of dawn's gleam
along the Cascades. The fog
drifts. Suddenly, piercing,
the sun teases the horizon.
Nothing but a ball of gas!
A few billion years --
nothing will remain.

We won't be here to take notes.
Pinker than usual, the light patterns
the lines of my windows up
the wall.
The sky is bluer.
Appropriating the clouds,
the mountains hide.





POSSESSION II

#O7
01-09-03/12-12/13-03

Always possessed by my possessions,
One love after another and now
They are gone. All dead.
And I live on -- dispossesed,
Placidly, at last, possessing
My few possessions.

Often I pretend I am not here
And cannot be found.
I'm expected to walk
Back by myself,
Since I came this way
Alone





PINK GROUND

#O8
01-11-03

Before the sunrise, the lake turned
perfectly pink, Gauguin pink. I remember my
first shock at that pink ground -- in the Hermitage
in Leningrad, up in the attic where the Impressionists
hung -- knowing it could not be. Yet this January morning
Lake Washington, not even a tropical sea, turns pink for me
beneath those eastside towns, where the sun digitizes its rays
in winter to rise brilliantly diffused into the clouds over the Gatesian
landscape, the pink water, before the gilded town, the blue-black hills.
How many Gauguins would Gates buy if he observed this morning's light
on the pink lake, in the golden sky? Farewell sun, I murmur, as it dissolves,
incognito, into the atmosphere, the day's speculations, the unpossessible sky,
the geological
world, where
a forest lies
underneath
the placid
waters of
the lake,
having slid
there about 903.





HANTS

#09
01-14/12-13-03

It's the odd things that haunt one,
things you wouldn't begin to think
of as ghosts or hants. Life --
a testing ground of peculiar behavior, endurance.
You can hear it disintegrating all around.
(Mostly because I have a radio
and not a TV.)

I was struck last night
thinking about the giant leap living
things have made from cloudy,
all but transparent, amoeboid things
to the grace of my cat's arched neck.
He rinses his dark ears with, first, one
soft white paw and then the other.

With patience we could probably
last another hundred million years.
But its not likely with XY chromosomes,
drumming bongos in the ears of the dominators.
They silo away nuclear waste, its toxic power
retained until the sun cools,
until telescopes,

that have not yet seen
the beginning of the world,
pick up the end --
for nobody.





KISSING

#10
01-16-03

My kitten sits in the sink, or,
if I can persuade him,
on the counter.
His sweet, white-masked,
Siamese face gazes up at me
I kiss his pink nose.
Modestly, he bows his head.

Only recently,
has it occurred to me --
though I have had no thought
of training him to kiss me in return --
that he might be trying to train me
to better manners,
to -- in the way he does
with his two-inch, pink tongue -- unfurl my
broad human tongue, lick his face, show
proper affection.

At times,
I wonder on what spring-roller-system
he curls his disproportionately long tongue
back into his white-booted, silk-soft body.
Is there a little round case from which
it stretches out like a tape-measure
and snaps back on command?

On the other hand,
no doubt he wonders where
I keep the rest of my tongue hidden
and why? For, as far as he can tell, I suppose,
it is disproportionately short
for my massive height, broad bulk,
big fur-less face, naked paws,
non-fastidious habits.





GONE

#11
01-21-03

I used to have thoughts of god and salvation,
miracles in this world and the next,
and then, poof, there were none,
no thoughts, no god, no salvation,
no need for miracles nor love,
gone were the nights of hope,
madness, despair, gone were
illusions. The world, I learned
was no different than my own
imagination, my own light-hearted
need for intense drama and despair.





THE 33 "M" POEMS

13 through 45
01-29-03 to 02-26-03




THINKING OF ART AND LIFE

#46
03-03-03

Linda has come and gone.
The war still looms.
The date is perfection.
On such a day,
death would be perfect.
And life?
Ah, another day,
another day.
another day.





SESTINA FOR THOREAU

#47
03-03/04-03

Choose words carefully it's time for laments.
Wink continuously, don't see or hear.
Pull the new cap tightly against the wind.
Listen to free speech whistling through corners.
And at the edges of leaves and fields, wait.
Don't believe the world is safe or good-willed.

Citing his pig-headed resolve, good-willed,
the president of the free world laments
war and seeks it. He, unable to wait
for its declaration, smirks and does hear
no man. Pipers careen around corners
swept by linguistic debris and the wind.

In opposition, millions choose the wind,
walk the street bearing signs, crying, good-willed.
Knees against concrete they pray on corners
The un-elected president laments,
finds no reason to listen or to hear,
decides, re-decides new motives can't wait.

He sends troops, more troops, and weapons to wait.
Huge, nuclearized, aimed into the wind,
blissfully metal, unable to hear,
while leaflets announcing noble, good-willed
intentions flutter with dooming laments
for those to die on targeted corners.

Those on the lamentable, doomed corners
are instructed to rejoice as they wait.
The free world's president hears their laments
crying for life as if they were mere wind
in willows, willing to comply, good-willed,
eager to die for American greed. Hear,

hear, O president, Iraq begs to hear
genocide justified on the corners
of the free world, murder done in good-willed
remote, removed, sanitized halls where wait
awful dooms of heartless, profit swept wind
over the corporate landscape that laments

our market share, our imperial wait
grown thin, the implacable need of wind,
of power, for the hypocrite's laments.

O he laments and laments and laments
promises, promises, wild in the wind
his righteous blood is up, war cannot wait.





AT A LOSS

#48
03-06-03

I am at a loss where to begin
this morning or what to write about.
L, it appears, left Seattle
at 2:00 A.M. on Tuesday morning.
Later, that day, I got an e-mail from
Cousin M, telling me
why she and her mother have
not written. Justifiably so, in her mind,
and harsh harsh harsh. And I have
answered. Now I wake up
light-hearted, or as light-hearted
as one can be with Dubya's
obsession looming over us
to go perform genocide on Iraqi
people. I also read about
nanotechnology --
we being just on the verge
of harnessing chemical energy
to work as mechanical energy,
an article by Viola Vogel ending
with: "And I'm confident we can eventually
go beyond what nature was able to evolve
from biological building blocks."
She's talking about the billions
of years nature took to develop
nanoscale systems. Apparently
she believes that humans will
speed things up enough to
Do Something
beyond nature
before we disappear forever --
into the sun.

Is it any wonder one is at a loss
on a Thursday morning with the cat
stretched out beside my computer
and batting out to deflect my hand
every time I reach to pet him,
his cheek on my Princeton Encyclopedia
of Poetry (the poem I was working
on this week, at the request of Thoreau
was an anti-war sestina,
difficult, intricate). Shiva's claws
hook into my fingers as he draws
them toward his saber-sharp teeth.
Shiva indeed is his name and nature,
benign and malevolent.
Maybe at almost seventy
(nine months to go)
I begin to see, just to
SEE
how nature operates.
Forget understanding,
just stand still and watch.
I have never before been
mean and angry,
but I am mean and angry now,
I watch the malevolent
tides wash in. wash in
wash in, a tsunami
overwhelming the niceties
of my nature -- or nurture.
The exasperation
of living just getting me down.

I do understand L's 2 A.M.
departure. Enough is enough.
I have left places in a similar way,
without a word, without a backward
glance. Enough is enough.
The knell of Change's Bell is,
at times, loud
and very clear.
M's exasperation is clear
as well. How could I dare
to live outside her norms?
How could I dare say things
she only thinks? How could
I dare say things at all meant
in a larger context, meant for a
larger world. Rivalry
was a major theme in her
mother's rearing of her children,
rivalry with her eldest brother's
kids, who must have seemed
-- to her -- all too easily to succeed.
She never had clue one about
the agony in the hearts of any
of these five cousins.

Suddenly I have to dash to the bathroom
to prevent Shiva from flushing the toilet again.
He gets his paw under the tape and jiggles
the handle. I stick the tape down firmly.
He tears pieces from its edges,
and stands tall on his hind legs
to box my hand.

Is that the end of the poem?
What should I do next?
More coffee?
A hot toddy?
(The prediction is snow.)
Off to the U to work on the Website,
that, in M's opinion, quixotic,
egotistical, presumptuous enterprise.
The bosom of the family is full of vipers.
I am one and so is she.
It's what is called "human nature,"
consisting mostly in, "I am right"
and "You are wrong."

It is a fact
I do not know what to do
with the human mind.
Oh, it's easy enough to do a job
or pursue some research
or listen to NPR,
scion of censorship,
to distract the mind's perpetual
motion.
But nothing
so far of
the minds at work
seems to have aided
humans to get beyond
the bifurcations
that hurtle us perpetually
into individual and global
antagonisms.
All I can say about myself
is that I watch myself
becoming more isolated,
retreating into the peace,
as I said to S, of the "bereft."
"Bereft," she said, "is Freedom."
We laughed.
Humans may draw together to survive,
but it seems they have a natural
antipathy for one another.
Civilization is a process
we are not very good at.

Loving behavior is as likely to
get you a pink slip from the beloved,
as is seductive treachery.
At times, I think my big
mistake was not getting
angrier
sooner.





BASALT

#49
03-08/09-03

As so often, I am floating in thin air
this morning. No where to go.
Nothing to do. Despite the fact
that I am out-the-door in a few
minutes to field-trip to the Cascades,
the fresh snow, the exhilarating air
where we may or may not
be able to see the geological
features thrust up, the ice-crystals,
the basalt.

Basalt calls up "Jocasta" for me.
Writing that script, I needed
a water-holding rock
and, knowing nothing geological,
I guessed basalt --
because its second-syllable-
accent lent it a regal sound. Basalt.
Basalt. Basalt.
One could build dynasties
of basalt.

As it turns out, being in the land
of vulcanism and continental shelves
crashing, a good portion of the Northwest's
land is basalt. Would that be true in Thebes?
Suddenly I think of my
journey to Thebes along Oedipus' route
from Corinth, back to his patrimony.
We three, three women braved the rocky road,
assured that it would get
worse but that we would survive.
Were those big-fisted small boulders
basalt?

The Sphinx waited at the cross-roads
(as desolate as the flood basalts around Grand Coulee).
Then the puzzle of solving, ever after,
that the distances were so short.
Even in pre-automobile days
one could walk Oedipus' route from
the crime scene of (killing father) Laius
to the Sphinx to (marrying mother) Jocasta
in a matter of hours.
Did basalt

delay him, so the drama
could take place? As yesterday --
we did not get to the Cascades,
to Snoqualime Pass.
Snow was there. We didn't go.
But made a trip across town,
which took longer than Oedipus'
straight trajectory, as we kept losing
one white van and then another.
A whirl-wind donnybrook,
that at last ended in
Discovery Park, peering up at
the Olympic Formation,
the Lawton Formation,
the Esperanto Formation,
the Vashon Formation, but
no basalt.

Seattle's toes are dug into
the mud and the sand.
It will move on one day,
shaking as it goes.
An Alzheimer's of the land
and none of us here to
remember -- The Sphinx's
Riddle probably having changed
to basalt.

I left the Greeks a long time ago,
the fascination with their
manufactured moral dilemmas.
Almost accidentally I went East,
found a simpler way of being,
found Shiva and, no doubt,
if I looked,
found basalt.

Field trips of the heart,
field trips of the mind,
climbing alone to
the peaks of speculation,
to the subduction zones,
annually flooded
with despair, but founded,
improbably,
on basalt.



Later in my geology class I learned that the great Deccan Plateau, down which I strolled in 1983, is another of the world's (there are only five) areas of flood basalts.




URN OF INTENTION

#50
03-10-03

There are peppered assaults on the brain waves
trying to make them perk up smart and behave.
Memory may be a choice of repaving
the dendrites, resurfacing the nave
where you worship, quaver,
weep, gnash, kneel, rave,
swear you'll exit the cave,
making up your mind to evade
the early yawnings of the grave.
Whether you be maven or knave,
adopt an attitude of slave
against the stave
and the craving
to be brave.
Utterly concave,
it seems inevitable to lave
as the teardrops pave
what you had hoped to save.





THE EPOCH POEMS

51 through 54, 56 and 58
03-11-03 to 03-19-03




PRE-ARMAGEDDON SESTINA

#55
03-15/26-4/06-03

If we anticipate earthquake
If we predicted a tsunami
If we see fire
If we forecast flood
If we fear a tornado
We evacuate the people.

We rescue the people
From the shaking earthquake
From the howling tornado
From the drowning of tsunami
From the sweep of a flood
From the blaze of fire.

Armageddon is brimstone and fire
Bush's choosing good and evil for people,
His war will cause a flood
0f corpses and cripples like an earthquake
3,000 bombs will tsunami
The land, one person per bomb, will tornado

Iraq's world, equal the Twin Towers, a tornado
Of disaster. Bush and Hitler call such fire
Bombing "shock and awe." Power no God, no tsunami
would vent on His people.
In such a premeditated earthquake,
In such a blood flood

Why do we not shield people from the tornado
Rage of a madman who, in a flood
Of righteousness, will make the earth quake
To avenge his Pa, to snatch oil from the fire
To topple a man he deems more evil to his people
Than himself. This Herculean tsunami

Of aggression we watch gather his strength to tsunami
Millions without hope of rescue from the flood.
Billions can be spent, but not to rescue the people.
Tear them with tornado.
Sear them with fire.
Bury them with earthquake.

But offer no rescue from the pre-planned tornado,
Don't shield them from fire.
Don't protect them from earthquake.

Be about your righteous mission, Bush, make the earth quake.
Your hatred, madness against millions will fire
Armageddon's tornado.





FUTURE PATENTS

#57
03-16/18/26-04/06-03

Bored with windows,
remembrances, impatient with memorializing, acquaintances,
relationships, accomplishments, they are as

"a civilization gone
with the wind," towing Education, Scholarship, those defeating
strategies. NOW I see the point. THEN I could

never figure out WHY
I had to learn it AND who said IT. To me, lectures, libraries were
delicious distillations of rejuvenating rain drops,

imagery to enlarge my
view, open my consciousness, enhance slowly growing wisdom,
dispensable as my finger or toe-nails, becoming

part of "the ocean of milk"
-- a Hindu image. I learned "to churn the ocean of milk" -- first
the poison than the amrita, to drink the soma.

Billions of people have
lived before me. Greater billions live here now. Knowledge
ricochets around the world via the NET. To

grasp at references, to
keep corking one's new thought in old wine bottles is to siphon
vinegar, a funneling of fools. I am lost among

jungle fruits, Damoclean
dreams. Scholarship (science, if you will) or art, a passion to eat
fruits, meats, sumptuous concoctions. Eat and

shit, no reverence of
a past less perceptive than today. Take it, enjoy, excrete poems.
Use. Intellectual property patents will stall

the world. Eat, enjoy
the new, it will keep us dancing forever, discovering, shouting
with joy, stamping with exuberance,

committing our amazing
new thoughts to cyberspace. Lock the tower, throw away the key,
walk barefoot on the burning sand.





BATTLE SHOCK

or

CAN YOU HANDLE FREEDOM

#59
03-27/29-03

At just below seventy its scrumptious to know
that one is all but irrelevant to this society.
No one needs you, no one wants you.
I even begin to expect less
of myself.

After the Iraq War started I heard a psych-type
define Battle Shock (BS for short)
as usually happening to young
warriors -- who get so
stressed out

that they want to run and hide. Not just from
enemies, but everyone, every human
alive -- the creators, all of them,
of this horror we
live within.

"Life!" I thought!
The definition of my life:
progressive abandonment of every
outpost, back-turning on every human: brother, father,
husband, lover, man, child, mother, sister, woman, friend.

Retreat,
higher, higher, higher,
away from humans, into the works of humans,
the intricate, awesome works of humans embroidered
in space on the loom of time, the expendable, large, drifting loom

suspended
-- for a moment -- in infinity
between the shifting subduction of the plates,
the fiery expansion of the trenches, the explosions
of the mountains, the deluge of the glaciers, the catastrophic floods.

One looks upon our works and weeps. If humans could do that, why
could they not love one another? Yet, I suppose, like my
battle-shocked self, the question is
backwards. Humans love each
other's works

too much, covet them, crave to possess the unpossessible, will kill
to possess, possess more, possess most, unable to conceive
that, like the dinosaurs, they were created
to be spectators, to enjoy the beauty
of the world.

Or, on the other hand, like the dinosaurs, because they eat a lot, they
are dangerous to themselves, the environment, others.
We have little evidence that dinosaurs fought
each other since they
lasted

seventy-
million years, about sixty-seven
million more than we have -- so far. They seem
to have been in harmony with their environment. What
does harmony mean along the food chain? I eat, you eat, we all eat.

Where's
the woe? Maybe our biggest problem
is in inventing compassion. I eat, you eat,
we all eat? Why make it a problem? I die, you die, we all die, why
claw our cheeks? We have let our sorrow define our humanity. Was

that wise?

I ask the basic questions over and over and over again? Why? Because
I suffer from Battle Shock? Alone, I have no one to talk to but
my computer. It has certain rules, I have certain rules.
I only "get involved" with it, when I forget
to obey the rules.

Otherwise, it leaves me alone, does what I ask, serves as an exteriorizer
of memory. Memory! Ayii! Human's wounding compassion will
last as long as memory -- 'til all the walls are sand again,
the mortar melted from the bricks, bodies
burned to ash.

The earth's core will bubble, its mantle will ooze, extrude, it's crust will
one day erode back to nature. Erased will be the skyscrapers,
the rock-cut caves, the ribbons of transport,
and the transports of delight
wrought

in the bosom
of humans by the twitter of birds
in the trees. Did the dinosaur's heart twitter as it became bird,
archaeopteryx, took to the skies, abandoned its great girth, became
satisfied with flight and song? Would they, O long-lived species, have

comprehended
without smugness earth's swallowing,
eight billion years hence -- by the sun -- a bit
of a while after man has eliminated his own species
with smart bombs, intelligent zappers of electronic systems.

Even as
I write. The total destruction
of human thought, both en-computered and in-truth
hovers heavily over my shoulder, like Poe's "Nevermore." So far we
hesitate to "fry" their systems because, doing so, we would fry our own. We have not

yet managed "smart" electronic erasers. We can blow up Bamyan with a set
charge, we can attempt a blow up of Baghdad with fallout from
Hitler's policy of "shock and awe." Indeed, what was more
shocking and awesome than the Twin Towers
crumbling?

We are democratic in our willingness to share our weaponry with one
another. We are one. Our only enemy is ourselves. Will we
be able -- in time -- to "love one another right now?"
Are the "bird-descendants," the Battle-Shocked
humans ready

for flight?
into space?
into the sun?
into everlasting
night?

In
to
ob
liv
i
on
?
*



*Oblivion, n. "1. the state of being completely forgotten. 2. the state of forgetting completely. " Random House Webster's Dictionary, 1998, 3rd Edition, p. 496

**"Shock and awe" was a term invented by Hitler, the phrase was first used in the Nazi magazine Signal. So if you want to return to the glorious world of Hitler, in Bush, we've got the right man with the right phrase.





ELIXIR

#60
03-28-03

O

yes, they all have them by now.
Hardly one in a hundred-thousand is clever
enough to keep his pecker in his
pants, and few witty enough
to not speak to a female friend
about his Children
or, God forbid, his Grand Children.
As if at seventy
I wanted to hear his
self-congratulatory summation
of all those hours of diaper changing,
homework, drug prevention,
desperation,
matured
semen.

Why on earth does he think I kept
my womb clean, pristine, all but virginal.
I always had the desire
NOT
to be a seedpod, not a transmission,
but a fruit,
a flower, a blossom --
on the road to
oblivion.

Human life, for me, was not the making
of new human life. Certainly there was
already enough, even in 1933, let alone
the six billion of today. Not everyone
has to bear kids. Surely there are
enough who
Want To

without my participation
in that on-going, disastrous
fecundity. But, set that aside,
the milking and the
pabulum, the petting and the play
leading to the emergence of the barbarous,
wingless, bewildered
adult --

I don't have to do it twice. Certainly not
by proxy. My mission since my emergence
has been to do it alone. To what end?
To what purpose? Why? Why do it at
all? Yet here I stand, way pass the half-
way mark, knowing my choice was
destiny --

e
x
p
l
o
r
a
t
i
o
n

-- not
repetition.
No matter how adorable, we now
know to neuter most kittens
lest they become the disease rather than its remedy.





THE PAST

#61
03-29-03

Images, like floaters in the eye,
web my mind. Moving ahead of my focus,
they cannot be caught.

The past.

What is the past,
but floaters across the mind?
The projection of arteries that carried

my blood out, out to the finger-tips, the toes
that danced across my vision
and now

must

return along blue
veins, slowly, sludge of the world,
mud in the eye that now wishes to see, but whose

filaments, grown veiled dangle like disconnected
dendrites over the rim
of time

lost.





THE RICH

#62
03-30-03

The rich have to have some means of entertainment
in this world, so they fight wars, have parties.
But they are always afraid that the poor are having
more fun, working, achingly serious.
In today's world, the rich, out of envy, snap up
all the interesting jobs. They become
actors, anchor-men, journalists, lawyers,
all professions that, when "rich" was invented, were
scorned as beneath the notice
of the great Khans, the Emperors of China,
the Maharajas of India,
Suryavarman II
whose entertainment was building
Angkor Wat.

Building -- now there's a noble trade,
but hard to learn, so the rich, the kings
and emperors had the talented poor
design and build their buildings,
then stuck their royal names upon them.
Would you rather have your name on
a building? or have the capacity to spend
a thousand hours
carving the Churning of the Milk Ocean?
detailed, intricate, sensuous with curves
and the beauty of forms.

But stock-broking, the trades, the "business"
of government? all too far from parties, entertainment
the glories of remaining in HQ,
(way behind the lines), behind the smart bombs,
the guided missiles, on the telephone,
the wireless, e-mail, fax,
holding press conferences,
weekends at Camp David,
Summit Meetings in the Azores,
and flying around all over the country
fearful of pursuit
on 9/11.

The rich have to work up the pleasure of sweating
in games, tennis, polo, hard-ball.
They never get the chance at the "good sweat"
of chopping a log-pile to see them
through a long cold winter.





GRANDIOSITY

#63
03-31-03

The man has gone mad,
pray for his soul.
Snake eyes into his unjust war,
on the verge of disaster
Dubya begins to perceive
what the world already knew:
that the Iraq people may not
want an American Liberation,
He puts out tendrils:
accuses Syria of goggle-sales to Iraq,
unproven, but bruited about,
throws in a threat to Iran to disarm,
ditto, but mildly, to Korea.
(Maybe it doesn't have any oil).
Then bruits it that the Arabs
are sending suicide bombers
into Iraq, fingers Putin.

One begins to get the pictures:
large and grand,
the man sees
himself as the great mountebank*
creating the Third World War,
The Fourth Reich,**
A new tin Hitler.
(Schroeder was right.)
But he forgets that Hitler
was bombed in his bunker.
He died!

Dead.
But not forgotten. Dubya doesn't need
money, maybe he needs fame --
and his calculation may be correct!
The world, what is left of it,
if anything,
will certainly never forget
the Dubya-Hitler who leads us
raving maniacally into WW III
(unable to hear the billion
Peace People pleading in the streets of
everywhere).

He rants about the need to
liberate the world, to
force "Democracy" down
the throats of all others,
especially Middle-Eastern
others. This is the mad
enterprise
of the man who killed
Democracy in the U.S.A.
with the help of A.R.C.
P.and P.***

They strung up Civil Rights,
choked due process,
slaughtered education,
prevented medical care, cut
their greed-prone cronies the
biggest deal ever, by docking
the rights, rewards
pay, lives of
children,
workers,
soldiers,
marines,
women,
sailors,
others,
and
the
Peace People.

He drinks his cup of blood every morning for breakfast
after his much vaunted "good night's sleep."



*Mountebank, "n. One who sells quack medicines from a platform in public places, appealing to his audience by tricks, story-telling, etc.: hence, any buffoonish charlatan or pretender."

**Reich," n. In German use, a realm, kingdom, or empire..."

***Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Paul and Perle

P.S. "Shock and awe" was a term invented by Hitler, the phrase was first used in the Nazi magazine Signal. So if you want to return to the glorious world of Hitler, we've got the right man with the right phrase.





I HAD TO

#64
04-01/02/06-06-03

change his name, my wild God,
my Shiva-purna.
Even a daily recognition of his
being androgynous
Shiva as Ardhanarisvara to the right,
Parvati as Ardhanarisvara to the left,
left him too wild to be confined within
my small world.
Dangerous, angry, leaping at me,
scratching and biting between bouts
of extreme affection, understanding,
love,
he is worse than a husband.
My ankles are bloody, my wrists
criss-crossed with tiny lines of
scabs, not even healed before
another snatching, savage,
scratch.
His temper short, mine growing
-- with sleepless
nights for fear he'll leap
upon my face, my eyes.

He needs woods, a jungle,
high trees to climb, low bushes
to crawl beneath, chill freedom
in the morning air,
to leap at crows,
attend to the gulls
without plunging
five stories to an apple tree.

I had to rename him/her
to another androgyne
Quan Yin,
Kwan Yin,
Quan'Am,
Kannon,
Kanin,
the compassionate aspect of Buddha
the merciful Goddess of mercy.
the gentle.

He raises his sweet white face to me,
pursed lips, gentle nose, to be kissed.
He purrs. I seek in his fur to be
sheltered from the crucifying world
beyond the windows and the stairs.
His warmth comforts me, his fur
is soft, silky as a gown for
the merciful Quan Yin,
kinder,
mellower,
a goblet of bliss.





SNIPPETS OF REALITY

#65
04-02-03




SNIPPETS OF REALITY
Done bits of doing
rick-rack on the edge
I'll return by midnight:
soft grace of an elegant
paw probes the jar,
extracts the plastic
the rubber-bands
the gold braclet,
the paper clips,
the small rock,
the plastic rib,
the yellow
feather,
joy.


  
                   a
               bent
          head, an
     ear with a nose 
  at the edge, sniffing,
  intensity, delight, more,
  tossed against a whiskered
 watchfulness, noble-kind 
kitten, gentle savage, 
patience, pretty pity, 
must eat. Now. He steps 
from his contemplation into 
my heart, purrrrrrrrrrrrring









PEER

#66
04-03/06-03

Peer into the past,
past the piles and piers
with dark water swirling,
creating a mist, a fog to
obscure the darkness.

Peer intently. The past
parades by on toes soft as
a cat's furred pads. Catch
light on an angle,
gleam on the claw.

Let it drag you to the pier's
eddy, stand still by
the weir, let the whirlpool
snare your feet,
your ears.





THE NATURE OF THE BEAST

#67
04-03-03

Don't choose to think every time
that the cat is smarter than you.
He's read your button chart,
and knows to push this one
or that one or the red one.
But is that smart? --

certainly gets you every time.
Under the light, he flops on
the book, nuzzles your nose
with his nose, purrs.
Bites!
Clever cat, waits for your

food, prefers raw meat to that
canned stuff -- and vegetables.
He likes his vegetables,
asparagus, green beans.
Yes, he likes bright green

-- tried nettles but got stung,*
just like I get stung but
seek it for my arthritis,
my old, slowed down,
barely responding fingers.

His brain is swifter than mine
his white paw tapping is gentler
than I could imagine. His
innocent blue eyes
seek mine, wide, staring.
Defiant.


*He now eats dried nettles.





DARK MATTER

#68
04-04-03

On the top is the silhouette
of a mountain, beneath it
are the halls, leading, one
from another into the garbh
griha,
the womb of the temple,
dark, hidden, mysterious,
creation,
union.

Above the halls, beneath
the silhouette are vast
spaces, filled with nothing:
structures, scaffolding,
buttresses, not meant to be
seen, not meant to be used,
not meant to be visited.
Every fractal

of every temple is mandala-ed,
planned, each plane reasoned,
each image a deity, meaningful --
platforms, beams, repetitions. Is
it dark or is the stone porous
enough to pour in, let in
the light? -- diffuse, mysterious
unsourced.

Is it dark matter? The Kandariya
Mahadva Temple at Khajuraho
is famous for its amorous
sculptures, but each time I see
the cross section of its totality
(once a year at least)
I ponder the dark matter,
unvisited

temple image

between its cave and its roof.
Who goes there? Who was
in there during the building
a thousand years ago? Has
no one been there since?
Outside, beyond its inner, hidden
platforms, columns, stairways, levels,
cantilevered

into nothingness:
"The Hindu temple..." writes
Desai, "...represents man's efforts
to symbolize cosmic order on earth...
created by precise geometry and calculations..."

Don't tell me the womb and the silhouette,
and the 800 erotic icons were all planned
and the dark matter left to chance.

Right here -- and in many places -- at least
a thousand years ago, dark matter appears
as cosmic power in the orderly universe,
unaccounted for. Was it imprecise, helter-
skelter, uncalculated, an emergency brace
here, a second stabilizing platform there.
Like the Buddha stupa, there is nothing within
or...?

Like dark matter, is it the undetectable glue
holding the universe together. the clue between
expansion, infinity, eternity or limitation,
an eventual shutting down, a giving up,
an implosion? Like the zero, a something
representing nothing, the nothingness
of the dark adhesion to something
at the edge (another false concept) of
extinction.





"APRIL IS THE CRUELEST..."

opening of The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot
#69
04-04-03

Odd that this "cruelest" should be running through my head today.
It is April. Rain drops. Cold. We no longer speak of
hail. Now it's "ice pellets." I ask my geology teacher: "Why?"

"Perhaps it sounds more militaristic." That's acceptable in this, the cruelest
month, producing, as it is, a wasteland of western civilization's seed-bed.
Set the Tigris afire, the Euphrates ablaze, annihilate the cradle between

the rivers. It's time for Mesopotamia to be full of craters,
bomb craters, missile holes, unidentified dead bodies, the residues of civilization.
The Taliban blew up Bamian's Buddha, Bush's America blows up Nineveh, Babylon,

Ur, the Chaldeans, the Sumerians, Jarmo, all barely guessed at before
they were nine thousand years in the past, peered at curiously
by the 20th century, blown to smithereens in the 21st, subjugated,

as all things salable, under the price-tag of oil. "Rulers for
Sale" "Countries for Sale" "Presidents and Premiers for Sale" We live
in the bargain basement of a world gone drunk on greed.

It was ever thus in the cruelest world, made so by
the cruelest animal who, lamenting all the while, kills and kills
and kills, letting the desert sands drink the blood of children.





NOT THERE YET

#70
04-07-03

I feel I must affirm I am not yet seventy,
no matter how much I long to be.
Older, to me, always meant wiser.
Older men, older rugs, older women
always attracted me, had more value,
their white hair made them seem
wise, good. Often good -- as if
with doe-soft skin, they had acquired
the patina of kindness.
Maybe one simply becomes too feeble
to be mean. Or. As each important
thing slips away into the unimportant,
as each craving dies down, as passions
become embers, one falls in love
with the soft glow of a flameless
light.





I WATCH

#71
04-08-03

I watch my cat's mood change
from the sheer-wanting-to-be-
petted, gentle-muzzled,
schmoozing delight of intense
scientific explorations of minute
millimeters of unexpected scent
on the rug to wide-eyed,
metallic-reflecting, tail-swishing
malice willing to spring on me,
devour my eyes, draw blood
from my throat as I lie
in the night listening to
cracklely sounds from war

in Iraq emanating from a small
black box. I try to imagine the
visages that belong to the voices
dispassionately chronicling,
death, destruction, horror:
exponential malice exploding
worlds that I have read about.
I hear about. I have never seen.
Between broadcasts I read about
the astronomical beliefs of the Inca,
the Aztec, the Spaniard, the Jew,
Islamic visionaries, Indian mystics,
Imperial Anglo-Saxons,

long since dead of hatred
for one another.
War seems to be a blood-sport
we will not give up. As
our weapons grow greater, their
accuracy more deadly, we mouth
more -- and more often -- about
peace, love, compassion,
justice, humaneness, horror
at images now too well
photographed of charred
bodies, decapitated sons,
exposed corpsed husbands,

and some wives as well. It is
natural, it seems, for man to kill
his fellow man. What can be done?
-- we cast our eyes toward the stars.
Just as my cat's fur soft-petting
coat shelters instincts of pure
meanness disguised as play, so human
kind, instinctual as any animal, is
unlikely to relinquish its highest
source of drama, surest fountainhead
of tales to tell one another
while toasting their toes at
the holocaust, under the stars.





SELF DOUBT

#72
04-09-03

You murderous little daughter of a bitch,
you have designs on my life.
You feed me wrong.
You treat me wrong.
You make me live on candy
and false cheer.

You make me sleep when I am not weary.
You make me stay awake to cry.
You are backwards
and contrary!
-- run by appetites like a dog,
unable to choose to be human

or humane.
In the throes of...
At the mercy of...
Surely there's an excuse...
But No!
You live on the other side of mercy.

You think I won't notice.
But I do. And I feel bad.
Achy, lethargic, bored,
dehumanized into a sloth --
like those they found at the airport
on their way out.

Is that what you want?
A one way ticket to a hell
of your own invention?
Why is it always an uphill battle
to make you behave, to make you
eat the good food which you love?

Now that the war is over
you have too much time on your hands,
time for mischief, self-defeat,
anger, humiliation, self doubt,
none of the things that
God told you life was all about.





DOUBTLESS

#73
04-10-03

I drag this body, kicking and screaming
to the computer to compose poems
knowing that is all I have left
to do in this world of increasing
insanity -- string words together,
make imagery.

My life is as irrelevant to the world
as the other 6 billion, plus or minus
a few of the players who rule the earth,
make the money, play the Great Game.
They seem to find some fun in destroying
the lives of the semi-slave majorities
now inhabiting the "democracies"
vaunted but never materialized by
our single super-power gang-of-four
gods.

They're busy, O certainly they are too
busy to write poems, rethink their
motivations, empathize with their
victims. Why should they empower
their underlings? To what end? If
having a billion or two, and rule over
a few million lives doesn't satisfy them,
why would one think that having
the entire world in their pocket would
make them rest easy, help them sleep
through nights of bombardment?

Even they deserve our sympathy.
What a hideous world man has
devised to create ubiquitously
on this, the only planet we know
with a breathable atmosphere, top
dogs and underdogs. All dogs
-- trained to fight over scraps,
savage each other. You can trace
the line right back to the caves
in the hillsides, filled with
The Hunt and Blood Imagery.

But, of course, this is only what
we talk about, the imagery received
via our Orphic Media. All the gentle,
kind people of the earth get edited
out of the final cut. Why do we
put up with it? Nothing in The Constitution
(mainly written by Property Owners)
tells us what to do when we are taken
over by a gang of murderous,
terrorist, righteousness-spouting thieves.
What do we do?

Like Hitler's Germans we go about,
keep our eyes hooded, wait patiently
for our fates. Look the other
way on Kristallnacht. Night after
night after night. Pretend we are not naked
when your Civil Rights are stripped away.
When is the moment to act? It is hard to tell.
Even harder to tell, is What To Do?

What do you suggest?





RANTS, RAMBLES, POEMS & PORTRAITS

-- IN PROGRESS,

2003, etc.




COSMOLOGIES

#76
04-15-03

It's odd, but none of that egg
and bird imagery, nor twins
fleeing across the world, nor
emergence from the waters
ever appeals to me. Nor do I
believe in the Big Bang. All
so silly. Why explain it?

I'm not at all curious how
it all began, or, rather, I am
not at all convinced by any
of the children's tales we've
been told. I'm especially not
impressed by the blue-green
algae growing, capturing more
than its share of CO2, starting
an atmosphere, leading,
eventually
to us!

But, what brings tears to my
eyes, catches my throat into
a sob is hearing Chernicoff, one
of the world's great teachers,
describe -- basing it on new knowledge
of the past -- what the future, the hundred
million, sometimes billion year future holds
for the earth and the sun -- and nobody here
to witness it.





ANGKOR WAT II

#77
04-16-03

No matter how you succeed
in pushing back time and oblivion

No matter what new knowledge
you may find circulating about the universe

No matter what exquisite perfections
the architecture of your civilizations may obtain

The jungle lush and green stealing carbon
pumping oxygen comes back for Angkor Wat's splendor

Until the sun in her omnivorous beneficence and warmth,
in her perpetual greed for growth, for incineration swallows up the earth.



Inspired by Vikram Prakash's 4-15-03 Angkor Wat lecture






See also

THE ANGKOR WAT POEMS

1996 through 2003



Including

ANGKOR WAT I, 1996

IN A JUDEO-CHRISTIAN-ISLAMIC WORLD, 2000

CULTIVATE DESIRE, 2001

ESSAY VIII, 2001

CENTURY Xs FOR THE 2001 POEMS, 2001

MATAMATA, 2003

WHAT'S THERE, 2002

LEVEL, 1999,

ZIGGURAT/ZIKKURAT, 2001

PERISTALSIS, 2001

PI MAI/PHI MAI, 2001

COFFEE, 2000
______




I'M LOSING

#78
04-17-03

the fight with the cat, but more
importantly, my ability to read.
My eyes are fine, my time is my
own, I have two great libraries

at my disposal, and subjects of infinite
interest! Ah, but there's the problem.
Read the following three sentences:

"After harboring primitive plants for several billion years,
the earth produced its first animals about 500 million years ago.
They were the ediacarids,* strange animals like nothing now living.
They lasted for 30 million years..."**

And right there --
though there have been
stopping places before --
I cannot get beyond:

"...thirty million years..." -- some animal, some thing
I can find not one reference to in my dictionary-rich
environment, nor in the Columbia Encyclopedia.
(I must try the NET when I get to school.)

-- but
30 MILLION YEARS!
30,000,000 years!!!!

How does one conceive a number, a time period, of such magnitude?
As usual, I was able to skip right over "several billion"
and skid right by "500 million"
because (I'm guessing) nothing like us was yet here.
Then came an "animal" who lived 30 million years.

How can one go on with one's morning coffee,
or even the rest of the sentence?
"...then completely vanished, leaving no apparent descendants."

While I write, blood flows down my leg.
The cat! who I can neither tame nor dislike.
Who I can rename and did:
from Shiva-Purna*** to Quan Yin****,
-- I think he gets wilder each day --
who thinks my every stance and gesture is performed for
his, very physical (claw and tooth), comment.

And,
because of him, nothing is where
it should be -- he taps each moveable
thing to the floor -- so now I must hobble on my game leg,
trying not to splash blood about, across this vast room
to get a Kleenex to stanch the flow.

Returning to my speculation after the hobble:
30 million years doesn't seem quite so awesome.
In geology, one reads figures like that everyday,
confronts them moment by moment, does not, cannot
linger to absorb them, think of them, realize them.

Why should one? If they did not remain meaningless
my own brief 70 or 80 or 90 years would be lost in the stillness
of meditation focused on the infinity of that "30 million."
The dendrites would scramble even worse than they
do daily if I let those "billions" and "500 millions"
seep in to settle like sedimentary rocks
on my brain-pan's floor.

If I really stopped to think about them. If I really picked up
a piece of that sandstone, contemplated the grains,
mused on its history (no not history -- geology
for it has no history, history is what we make up
not what happened in our earth's 4 point 5 or 6 billion
years before we got here)

I would get no further, I would solidify, metamorphose
right here in my battered old folding chair, writing, as I do,
in the nude, with the dried blood on my leg, my coffee
finished now, the timer dinging for me to get dressed and go to school.

The cat has calmed down, sleeps in his dark brown and light shades
of tan and buff and white splendor on the pale sandstone-colored
rug. Has he, too, fallen into a contemplation of those
"30 million" years, those untraceable things that supplanted
the blue-green algae 600 million years ago...

No, not "supplanted" for the algae remains -- find it on any pond,
600 million years of being blue-green and an algae:
sucking in carbon dioxide, reducing it
and hiding the carbon in the earth's crust
until the CO2 had "released enough oxygen
to create an atmosphere that would support
animal life."

Eventually me! and the cat --
here for the flash of a claw,
then gone.





*Northwest Exposures. A Geologic Story of the Northwest, David Alt and Donald Hyndman, p . 32

**Ediacarids: From the NET "...the Flinders Ranges of South Australia at a placed called Ediacara has revealed a variety of jellyfish, worms, sea-pens and bizarre enigmatic forms collectively known as Ediacarids. (Google had only this one reference!!!)

***Shiva "the wild God (of creation and destruction)" -purna "absolute"

****Quan Yin "the Goddess of compassion, of mercy"






BASALT II

#81
04-20-03

There's so little time left,
and it makes not a nano-quark
of difference if I go on writing or not.

Nobody sees it, even I seldom re-read it.
I have no plot and no theme, no goal and no
analysis. I only want to express what I see, what I feel,

make some record, chart, see some plan some course --
for myself? or for who? I never had a desire to have children,
I absolutely never believed in "passing something on," via the blood
and the genes, nor the worth-savingness of human beings. Maybe it is
because I have never known and to this moment, don't know if my life

has been for ought. Re Gandhi: "What you do may seem unimportant,
but it is very important that you do it." So on I go. When I look over
the records of human life, culture, evidence, literature, history, art, etc.
I can't but think of all the people, like me, who have been left out, Who
have spent lifetimes trying to contribute and have remained unknown,
unread, outside the chronicles of the world. What a funny little skewed
representation is our cultural history. But some how, for some reason,
it is meant to be the way it is.

I read my geology text,
I am struck by the fact that the Deccan lava lake, p.157
its large basalt volcanic field is echoed only in the lava lake
of the Columbia basalt p.160 plateau
-- only two great basalt basins here on earth
and I was born on one and fell in love with the other.
And the Deccan flood basalt is the same age as the boundary
clay laid down when the dinosaurs disappeared. Like Ruthanne, long before
we knew the family history choosing to go to Mt. Holyoke.
Maybe our terrestrial choices
are
in
the
genes
--
so deeply
imbedded
one knows
nothing about
it until struck
by an odd fact or
two, like seeing
the diagrams for
the earth's magnetic fields
and the Van Allen's belts
on successive days
and being able
to see that
they are
one.



*p.157
**p.160, 242, 271 craters of the moon.





HIDING OUT

#82
04-24-03

Between aging and illness,
injury, discouragement,
one feels one is hiding
out in the backwaters of life,
exotic, weird, winsome,
not knowing how to do
a thousand things one
did with ease before.

One begins to have
empathy with Buddha
although 'ere now, I always
felt he was too young to
see the way he saw --
causing him to sneak way
without crown or jewels
into the no-man's-land

of quest, stalking
the meaning of life.
Not that I didn't begin
my own stalking early,
but not upon
perceiving old age,
sickness and death.
My stalking started

with unadulterated
-- by cause or reason --
unhappiness. Where did
it come from? Where did
it go? -- that bottomless
well of emotion,
sorrow,
discouragement, fear.

One day it left.
Now I exist in the bliss
of neutrality, neutrality of
bliss? Very little feeling,
little hope, little fear,
few plans, no desires.
Ayiee, there's the rub!
Buddha seemed to imply

that bliss followed hard upon
the heels of desirelessness,
mostly, I find a mild boredom
and not knowing what to do.
Live through one more day
and then another. To what
end? I'm not a fish caught
in the great tank exposing its

sole activity of fish-gilled
breathing, sending a flick
of the tail as a wave through
the body. Round and round,
undulating until, with luck,
it's spit back into her world
artificially made into
a fish-ladder to save her life,

to help her spawn, to make her forget
she once had forests and rapids,
sunshine and blue sky above her
fresh-water eyes. And the meaning?
The meaning of life? Breathing.
Walking. And, for this human:
writing, reading, the hopeless
patience of waiting out one's term.

The world was beautiful when I came,
maybe it will be beautiful again after we're gone.
In the meantime, I hide out, alone,
patient or impatient, writing, reading,
enjoying the spring when I remember
to look at it. The lilacs are in bloom,
my knee hurts so bad I can barely walk,
my soul is a hidden, secret tooth -- aching.





KNEES

#83
04-24-03

Why is it that every-once-in-awhile my knees are attacked?
Every now and again I cannot walk for a few hours or a day.
And/or for weeks I walk in pain, for no known reason, not
a fall or a twist or a sprain or strain, the pain just starts in, and gets
worse and worse and worse until, having for the most part
been noble about it and restrained, uncomplaining, I suddenly
just give up in despair. Suicide. How can I go on living when
I can't even walk. I shake my fist at the sky, hoping God is
paying attention. But he's not. But what is it that directs that
axis of evil to my knees? I misused them running, one time?
long ago? striding on the Boston Commons? I did that, took
eight weeks before the pain subsided. But it did subside. Was
that the first time? Ah, a bit before that, when I first started running,
I remember shin-splints because I was running in bad shoes.
The shoes corrected the ache on my shin bone. I can remember no
specific knee-hurts before that. I was in my forties then. So maybe it
did all start with the striding on the Commons. Being utterly free,
exhilarated, full of energy and youth and vigor. For that is certainly
how I felt, those few days before this present knee-hurt started.
As if God were intent on striking me down for being so joyous!
Not fair.

Then, perhaps it is psychological: weak-kneed, lily-livered, kneeling
before one's fate, kneeling before one's god, kneeling down, humble.
Don't be too assured of your "chosen" status. Hit her in the knees.
Break his knees. It's well known what knee pain will do.
How many times have my knees done me in?






WATER or MOUNTAINS

#84
04-25-03
"Water, when it flashes into steam, is the only instigator of volcanic violence; lavas without it erupt quietly." Northwest Exposures, Alt and Hyndman, p. 310


When you think of St. Helens, when you think of Krakatoa,,
when you think of Toba, when you think of Santorini,
any of the great explosions of the world, think of water!

"Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink"* said another poet.
Drink it in the form of lava, of magma, of mantle, of ash and crash.
Appearances are deceptive, say the sadhus -- none quite so deceptive
as water oozing gently into every crack and fissure, gliding down each

leave and stem, filling the lakes (all but the lava lakes) salt or fresh
of the world, evaporating, re-reigning with rain, torrential downpours
sweeping all into the river, the flood, the ocean, the deep, heavy ocean
crusts that move about, aggressive plates diving beneath the lighter,
light-hearted rocks. Most of the world is basalt -- not much water there --

black, dark, or andesite, dark, or rhyolite, light, all eager to shed their
water as we humans, just now, moving into capacity (even overload)
begin the great water battles. Free until now, now only the rich will get
to drink at leisure, bathe in warmth, relaxed and at ease. The rest
of us? Well, we'll build up that head of steam, send shock waves like those
that have darkened the world for most of the species that ever lived.

Mention your preference: meteorites or water, though you'll have no
chance to choose your destiny. It won't even be your destiny. You'll be
long gone before the earth is disposed of according to the biggest bangers
-- which no one can conceive. One becomes facetious, faced with a few
billion utterly (in human terms) meaningless years. Not even a basalt
molecule has much adventure all by itself. But flood basalts (resistant
to water) cover major portions of the Northwest's earth, the Deccan plateau.


*Coleridge





LIFE IS LIKE

#85
05-04-03

Life is like striding up a polluted river
against a strong current, with raw sewage
flowing past -- dark and soft, silky,
almost like velvet. If you don't
look and you keep your nose
buried in the white kerchief
usually kept in a rosewood
box, it can be pleasant for
measured steps through
muck and filth. Never
mind poverty and cruelty
along the fetid banks.
A shaft or glimpse of
light may pierce the
exotic landscape
or your heart
from time
to time
and
sleep
will ease your burden,
steady
your slippery steps among the shoals.





THE KIT LIKES CUISINE

#86
05-06-03

O he'll eat catfood, daintily,
and a tad of chicken, raw or cooked,
a portion of liver, a bit of beef,
but what he really likes
is a good curry
or my new
Chipotle Pepper,
fully cooked,
four dollars a pound
gourmet chicken sausage,
richly spiced, cut up in
small bites,
no more than an elegant,
restrained amount on the plate.
Presentation is his other love.
Good Spicing and How it Looks!

Well, what do you expect from
a Thai cat (those Siamese who
make the best food in the world)
with a Sanskirt name
(the Indians know their
ghee and how to "fry their
spices.")

I know, I cannot be neglectful.
His chef, Shiva's chef
that is, must be as careful
as the feeder of Kuan Yin,
Avalokitesvara.

Fathered
by the Yeti, he comes loping along
like the Snow Leopard
out of those crashing, rising
mountains, his flamboyant tail,
the size of a coiled carpet
(Persian, no doubt), swinging
behind him
to be my kitten.





HELTER SKELTER

#87
05-09-03

At the moment, I feel myself to be
such a helter-skelter child.
Now I have to figure out if I think
that's bad.
Never have been able to stick
to a diet or a schedule.
Once in a while, get over-discipline
and daren't break the commitment
less I break the drive.
And when I do, I seldom go back.

What has my life been
being so scattered. Would it have
been different if I had adopted
a few more good habits,
traditions, paid attention
to social requirements,
felt someone knew more than
I did -- about how to run my life.

Certainly I wouldn't feel so
helter-skelter. What would
I feel?





LAST NIGHT

#88
05-13-03

Last night the moon was in my window
not quite full. This morning there is nothing
but sky.

"Finish one thing before you begin the next."
I'm sure Mother must have said that at one time
or another.

Sixteen minutes out of bed, eating lettuce, bacon
and avocado omelet, I am furious at the law
of gravity

as I run into the remains of one unfinished
project, then another.
Shiva

wants to share the bacon -- as long as its
on my plate. Add some almonds. Drink
the spring

green residue of fury. Watch the simmering
crimson of red clover in the mind's eye. Forgive
God -- if you can.

Pray for the moon to shine again tonight
shimmering full for my old eyes,
and

full enough to tear from earth, impact
or not, and float away, just so far, into gravity's
space.





REMEDY

#89
05-17-03


"...dried penis of white horse, with honey in wine...for male impotence" The Golden Peaches of Samarkand, Schafer, p. 180-81


Could you be persuaded of its efficacy? or that jade is
dragon semen? The T'ang Chinese lived in a time
of greater belief, lore, and lovely imagery.

Better, don't you think, than chemo-therapy,
mammograms -- slap it here, my dear, on this slab;
we'll give it some rays

from which you may get cancer, but at least it will
prove that you don't have the big C now.
Oysters, too, helped with nocturnal emissions,

and there was donkey stew for melancholy and madness.
Now we have smart bombs, and an inability
to calculate the dead. Not our own

but theirs. Somehow, as long as it is unknown,
incalculable seems less than knowing.
The tricks of the trade of the Me-di-a.

Help me fasten down my pain. Take an electrical
stapler and tack my heart to the wall.
So we can do a study of

wall-tacked hearts to see if it hurts -- that Bang! Bang! Bang!
The world has gone mad, and me with it.
Give me some white horse penis with

honey and wine for my impotence, dried peaches
for my lungs, rhubarb for my bowels.
They knew, they knew

and, having sailed and seen the world, they burnt their great ships
to stay in the glory of the middle kingdom,
the center of the world -- between heaven and earth

disdaining trade or conquest of others
until they conquered themselves
and didn't live long enough to invent the WTO*.



*World Trade Organization, whose existence was protested by incalculable millions -- beginning in Seattle, then around the world.






GEOLOGICAL BLISS

#90
05-19-03

The sky opens up like a shield against the radiation
of my bliss. It oozes up like polliwog batholiths:
tiny-tailed and undulating in the stone.

When I was a child it was simply Darrington,
Concrete, Marblemount. Who knew about
the Straight Creek Fault then -- or cared.

Now I spend my hours of pain contemplating
the mountains 12,000 feet high, being accumulated,
accreted, vulcanized grain by grain, sometimes

sand, sometimes ash. Sugar-like, if you put
one grain next to another for millions and millions
and millions of years, it becomes a mountain

huge, magnificent, faulted, ground-up and respewed.
Why would we not let it be? Let it store its
bliss toward our visit in 2003.





POEM IN THE DARK

#91
05-23-03

I am reaching that age when I can't remember
why I chose to do this or that.
All that fills my present is going to the toilet
in the dark, the cat's soft paws
reaching out, caressing/hooking my foot
with a plea for attention.
He draws blood.

There used to be high blood pressure in my ideas,
needs coursing through my veins -- to declare,
to sustain. Today I wonder
why I do anything at all. For the cat's admiration?
My ego died a long, slow, painful
death and has left me gasping
on the outer shore of life.
Wondering...







THE ECONOMIC VIEW

#96
06-12-03

Dollars and cents -- there is nothing but dollars and cents.
Sense and dolours are ignored or preverted to dollars
and cents, rerouted to the economic view of life.
We have nothing left of what we once called life
once upon a time.
Dollars and cents, dolours and sense;
laughter is a one time visit, greed is a constant companion.





EIGHT FACES FOR LIFE

FOR THE PUGET SOUND BLOOD BANK

#97 -- #104
06-13/7-26-03






PERSIA

#106
06-17-03

Shiva-purna erases my identity bit by bit.
Early this morning he knocked my picture from the wall.
Nor could I remember the problem of how the mundane
and God seemed hard to connect.
The moon, now several days past full,
shone in my five a.m. window.
I lay in my bed, the cool breeze
like kisses across my shoulder,
thinking of the Persian woman and Rumi,
regretting I did not get to know her
-- until I mentioned his name.
She's off to Iran (Persia) next week.
"I love my country," she said

when I said "Why now?' -- thinking of the news
and the unrest. "Which side are you on?"
I boldly asked knowing that few who were
on the side of the government had left the country,
knowing also, it might be a dangerous question
(in other circumstances) for her to answer.
Now, I have other questions I want to ask.
"Do you choose this time to return
just because it is dangerous."

"I love my country..." what do you mean when
you say that? The heat? The summer? The trees in the city?
The food? The vistas? The bearing-up people?
What is your country?... as different from mine?
Where the sun has now replaced the moon,
and the shadows dance on the wall.
Where the cool breeze slides across my back
and Shiva, lies beside the computer
and jumps at me
when I stare into his blue eyes.
I have learned this morning, if I pet the pads of his paws,
he keeps his claws retracted,
nonetheless he doesn't like
my gentle petting too much.





I WANT

#107
06-22-03

to go back up the river of time,
back to India,
twenty-one years ago --
which seems an hour or two
in the past, recapturable.

Shiva-purna plays with a news clipping
of a monarch butterfly on my desk,
looking at me with bland, blank eyes
and wall-tapping tail, and I recall
-- not the scene I meant to write --
but the statue of Shiva in the garden
of the ashram
that I used to touch with my fingers,
caress with my hand.

If I returned to India, I could not
take the well-fed-Shiva-purna with me.
That sleek, muscular, tawny,
turbulent cat. The Hindus might
tolerate a spoilt, rambunctious,
teasing God, but probably not in the form
of a cat.

Or, more likely, he, being so well-fed,
glossy, fastidious, I would feel
guilt needing to be sweated out of my soul,
pampering him in a land where
others are hungry or lame.

So, where was I paddling back to up the river
of time? Ganeshapuri, the hot springs,
the mossy-stone, hot springs under the flamboyant
trees -- where I visited once?
twice? to sit long and deep in the carved
out tub, hot water bubbling into the bath
in the grimy, small, stone room.
I don't remember the bugs and lizards,
but I am sure they were there
entertaining themselves with
glimpses of the relaxing,
shuddering human.

I have no desire to go there today,
but a longing to paddle back up
the river of time to be there
twenty-one years ago, with life,
so much of life, yet to be discovered.

Did I go once or twice?
Why didn't I go more often?
Why am I such a sipper of life?
What do I want that I didn't get then?
Why return, even just in my mind?

Surprise and delight? The willingness to endure
even the dust and the grime and the creatures?
Willing to be enchanted with things I had never seen
before?
(Will never see again.)

Why not be here now -- where I am?
Or, twenty-one years from now, I will
think of the Shiva cat in the sunlit
room -- Ah the sun has come out! --
and remember with poignancy were I was
then.

Why do I want to be there again?





MY FATHER

#108
06-27-03

He, too, was going through all sorts
of changes, trying to become a person.

Life is a long contest in which one tries
to become the person one wants to be.

I begin to see that now, at the same time
I begin to see the end of me or my sister.





VARIOUS KINDS OF TRIPLETS

#109-112
07-06 to 07-10-2003






BEAUTY

#113
07-17-03

My life embodies the Navajo Blessing "May you walk in beauty."

I wake in beauty
in my eyrie atop the old nunnery,
the morning sun -- "may your summer
mornings be many" -- bright against
the high white walls, dancing on my
avocado, grapefruit, lychee trees!

And go to sleep in beauty -- often with
the wild wind whipping round the corner
from the cotton woods, sounds of dancing
and shaking the rattles of beauty.

Two thirds of the day
I walk in beauty
across the UW campus
among old trees and graceful bushes.

The other third -- partly on the bus --
that too is beauty.
I sit in front watching,
noting who else is with me on the journey.

And hear again and again of man's cruelty to man.





PERSONA

#114 to 118
07-22-03 to 08-03-03




THE EXULTATION POEMS

Including

TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS

119-121E, 124, 134-136
08-07-03 to 12-12-03




#122

08-14/10-14-03


GIFT GIVER


He thunders down the hall,
he haunts the stairway closet,
basks in the full moon light,
follows Mars' dramatic progress
athwart the morning sky,
curls on his pillow
exposes his lightening-streaked belly,
the Great God, Shiva-purna,
my fifth floor, Shiva-full, walk-up cat,

He eats only the choice, center cuts of meat,
and asparagus. He is also fond of nettles --
dried for my nettle tea.
He sits upon my book
purrs -- a little.
I brush him. He returns kindness with a bite,
turns his wide, blue,
astonished eyes upon my every
gesture, brings me gifts.

He shattered one of
Uncle Roger's wine glasses
to bring me two
ruby red shards, as well as
Roger's fawn-colored
feather duster --
in the middle of the night.
He looks out for me, I look out for him,
The Great God, Shiva Purna.





PONGA

#123
10-20-03

The white dog in the white snow is
an illusion of eyes and mouth and nose.
Ponga goes to Protests carrying his sign:
"Unleash the dogs of peace."
His master teaches music,
the music of the whole world.
Ponga is an example of what a dog should be.
His master, Ter, is an example of what a man can be.
Populated by such, the world might, indeed, run free
with Peace.





#125

11-09/10-03/12-25/26-06

I WANT TO KNOW

For Chungmi

Listening to the radio, when some of the odd programs come forth on
a Sunday morning, saying things (one never hears on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS,
NPR) from college campus stations or Berkeley or other banished-to-the-fringes
and marked-to-be-annihilated-by-the-FCC places, I hear a recapitulation

of Korean war news that none ever heard fifty years ago -- still don’t
hear today, except on the odd Sunday morning stations of college campuses or
Berkeley or other banished-to-the-fringes, marked-to-be-annihilated-by-the-
FCC places -- that dozens? hundreds? thousands? tens of thousands? of our U.S.

troops, our boys, our brave boys in khaki, while they were annihilating villages
in Korea (would annihilated villages in Vietnam) stood in line (probably in the
evening) for access to the rape rooms. Joking and laughing, eager for the
combat, they stood in line waiting to stick their penises into the bodies

of terrified girls and women. Maybe there were rape rooms for the gay
guys, too, waiting to stick their penises in the assholes of the Korean
and Vietnamese boys. Now, we’ve all heard -- if we listen carefully to odd
radio stations or have a friend who wrote a play -- about the Comfort

Women, raped, mutilated, killed by the Japanese. These victims now, slowly, cautiously have
stepped forward to tell their tales. But what we don’t hear, have never
heard, is what happens to the other victims: those lads, the U.S.
troops, our boys, our brave boys in khaki who pulled their penises out

of their khaki pants and pushed them into the fragile bodies of little
girls, mothers, sisters, daughters, who, if they (the girls) were lucky, then died
with the injected-by-many, smeared-semen oozing white and viscous from their
gentle-lipped hidden entrances to the privacy where babies come from, slipping newborn

into the world. The soldiers, we assume -- because they were the winners, the
conquerors, the God-on-our-side ones -- lived on. Dozens? hundreds? thousands? hundreds
of thousands of U.S. troops, our boys, our brave boys in khaki,
our rapists-come-home now walk among us leading “normal” lives. There is

never a whisper about prosecution for the rapers (whether they be our boys
or Japanese or Muslim or Christian or Jew) in any war zone where
victims, losers, are shackled in rape rooms or restrained eagle-spread on the
ground by the lads (their friendly, cooperative buddies) so their comrades can push

their penises into the contorted-by-fear bodies of young girls, grieving mothers,
widows, aunts, grandmothers in each war zone where this has happened from time
immemorial. On each battle ground, the lads, our U.S. troops, our boys,
our brave boys in khaki or blue or mufti, stuff their penises limp

and covered with their buddies’ semen, and the girls’ blood and fear, back
into their pants, adjust their gun belts, bringing their heavy weapons again around
front where they can be easily grabbed to shoot, and walk off. Or,
leaning against a tree or the wall of the rape room, they light

a cigarette and enjoy the rumpus of the later comers with the girls,
women, meaty-pieces for penis-hard men. What I want to know is:
who are these men now? Do they enjoy sex with their wives? girlfriends?
prostitutes? Are they the ones who go on raping in “civil society?” Are

they the ones (Congressmen, for instance) who vote for more wars, more combat,
more victims so they can go again into the rape rooms beneath the
trees and stick their battle hardened penises into other peoples’ mothers, sisters, daughters,
and the butts of other soldiers twisting, turning, screaming not to be raped?

Do they come home, cacooned by their memories? Maybe they are the ones
who declare themselves for these wars. For I, personally, don’t meet any person
who defends the U.S.A. terrorist attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Columbia,
Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador, Vietnam, Cambodia and the hundreds of other countries that

we have infiltrated, invaded, raped “to bring democracy” into the lives of the
living and the walking dead, whose innocents, with genocidal fury, we kill in
countries not our own, where we bomb so we can rebuild (at great
profit) their infrastructures. In the polls, Bush and his henchmen still stand high.

Somebody must vote for them. Are these voters the old rapers with the
hard penises? gone soft now with the remembered horror of destroying the bodies,
the lives of girls, mothers, daughters, widows, aunts -- who now need Viagra to
get it up just enough to father a single daughter for their later-

in-life pleasure. Who are they, these dozens? hundreds? thousands? hundreds of thousands
of U.S. troops? -- our boys, our brave boys in khaki, brutally screwing
their sisters, screwing the earth, so there is no place to come home
to unhaunted by their hideous memories. Is my experience so limited or have

all the rapers become liberals? demonstrators? protesters? Did they change their minds once
they experienced the “glories” of war -- or -- do they want more? then some
more? more under the trees, in the rape rooms -- changing procreation to putrefaction
with their terrible pleasures -- to be lived with, remembered until the day they

die, victims forever of man’s uncontrolled terrorism of his human sisters and brothers.






KNOWLEDGE V

#126
11-25/26-03

I'll never use up all I need to know in this lifetime.
If the night comes down fast and I, avoiding the twinkle,
look away from the city view, close my eyes, I'll see dark
blue ameboids, free floating, pulsing bright and black, coming
one by one in and out of existence, ending in bright
crimson, the orange-cerise glow of liquid amber in --

perhaps before -- the fall. I'll never gather up all I
have found to know by remarkable study, slow aging.
Turn the lights down low, read into the night, read into each
night the day before and the day to come. Touch the autumn
leaves, kiss the damp-nosed cat, hum an old tune, listen for wood
peckers -- or their ghosts -- meditate on the Handmaids of the

Precious Blood
, their contemplative life, one convented heart,
cottonwoods turning to gold, Lombardy poplars greenish,
but gold, too, forming forests beyond the nunnery
window. Nothing but reality bothers you now. Wake
paradoxical nightmares to the quiet suturing
of, skull to skull, the eight million dead beneath earth's soil.

Consider slow cooling. Consider greenhouse gas. Then
consider what we forgot to consider before. Fish
eat fish, fish eat coral, fish excrete the white sand, fish
sieve the ocean for plankton smaller than you and I. Whales
live on microscopic tidbits of life strained through baleen,
lost in the blubber of time, flesh becomes flesh, ounce by ounce,

whisper by whisper, gentle secretions accrete into
new thoughts, flamboyant, floral colors, spiked remembrances,
hideous might-have-beens, might-still-bes, liquid on the nib,
blob by blob, like blood dripping into the South China sea.
Oldest of oceans, you, too, shift, reconfigure crash, push
continent to continent, progeny of fiery vents.

"Remember me!" cried the ghost of Hamlet's stalking father,
unsure, perhaps, of genetic responsibility.
That seed in the womb, we now know, can burgeon from itself.
O Tampering Man, Homo Ludens, watch from the tower,
throw up the guards, bring down the portcullis, name, possess, snatch,
rape, kill that which gives you your self-defined-degraded life.





THANKS

#127
11-27-03

What the hell am I doing at the computer now?
A mild morning. A blue slash on the horizon
held my attention for an hour, neon, bright,
electric blue, horizontal, displeasingly
vivid, man-made, large. Perchance it be permanent.

Where do I protest, who do I protest to today?
Today is Thanksgiving, one of those days I
avoid in so far as possible. I don't
mind giving thanks to whatever god or presence
left out there in the grey and cold and wild whipping wind.

I do mind over-eating, being jolly, but today
all family is in Arizona (except my
brother -- under supervision, he'll over-
eat properly in his rest-home). I'm going to
Udupi -- South Indian -- south from here in Redmond:

spicy, not turkey, no dressing, no cranberries, no
pie, none of Mother's Christmas Pudding, either, of
chocolate, dates, gelatin, walnuts and whipped cream.
She's dead. In heaven avoiding, at last, over-
eating each holiday -- and every other day be-

tween. I woke this morning to Vandana Shiva's speech
about Indians starving because of our in-
sistence on "free-trade." Thousands and thousands dy-
ing, hundreds and hundreds of suicides by con-
sumption of our genetically modified fer-

tilizers, patent-owned seeds, our buying, our selling
our "free-trade" in the threads of human life, our grasp-
ing need to steal and own centuries old seeds, weeds,
trees, the water, the land, the souls -- to be Rich!
Rejoice, O Pilgrims -- that the rich are rich and the poor

are poor. There's much to give thanks for, as we learn to live
in the streets like the Indians. It's cooler here
and rainy, but never mind. They, too, do have,
yearly, the relentless monsoons. And they're slim, be-
cause they are hungry, so more can fit on a single

square of pavement or balance on the branch of a tree
or become invisible next to the balus-
trade of a balcony. Look upon the world
and rejoice! The haves have and the have nots have not.
And soon there will be even fewer haves and many

many more have nots. Give Thanks, O ye Pilgrims, on U.
S.A.'s Thanksgiving Day! At Udupi's near Mic-
rosoft we'll celebrate not only Indi-
a's gift of food, but the swift burgeoning of
our caste system, more useful, exportable than theirs.





COPPER RIVER SALMON

(ONE)
#128
11-28-03

I am losing consciousness,
I am dissolving into thin air
My mind is becoming a jumble,

a trash heap of inherited thoughts.
Confusion, hypoxia overcome me ceaselessly.
I am unable, any longer, to separate the meaningful

from idiocy. Chaos is sucked into my lungs with every breath.
Perhaps there are too many seeking souls in the wind.
Perhaps I have eaten too many salmon.

My qi, in confusion, is embraced by your qi.
The Hindus say we are all one thing:
What you are, I am. They may be right:

Every psyche made up of eight billion
fragments. Eight billion fragments/fractals are one.
This is not even to mention the mitochondria

and the chloroplasts -- nor the salmon. Do the
billions of souls the salmon
shelter count
as being here now? Or are they strictly in reserve?

If they don't get to spawn, do their harbored human souls die?
-- or make a fast exit at the terminal of a dead end stream?
jet away into the bushes? Where then?

I rather have the impression that a lot of souls now
in circulation are used souls. At what point is the soul considered
used? Is my soul -- now in a state of confusion

with hypoxia overcoming me -- is it used and, in me, still in use?
Or, though moribund, still in me though over used --
and for all practical (further) purposes

unusable? Would the salmon, if they could reach their ordained
spawning waters, mend, re-stitch, restore the remnants of my soul,
make a crazy quilt to cover me and my guilt, pound

the Copper River into a shield for my safety?
How altruistic can one expect an entree to be
given no choice and limited territory?





THE FUTURE OF LIFE

#129
11-29/12-02-03/06-24-07
Why is it man cannot think in multitudes?
I begin reading "The Future of Life" by
Edward O. Wilson, knowing I wwill love it --
first and foremost because he uses Isabella Kirkland's
painting
of which I, accidentally, wildly, passionately possess
an exquisite small copy. I have possessed my
copy for years -- even before it appeared on
the Whole Earth Magazine's 2000, fall issue cover.

Why do people respond with an almost palpable
love to this particular painting? The first of
a whole series called Taxa, it shows, in
all their beauty, earth's endangered and extinct species


In the nineteen-seventies, I believe, when there
was an exhibit of "Women Painters (...Through the
Ages?" -- the first of its kind??) at the
Los Angeles County Museum there were several paintings
by Rachel Ruysch. They were the most beautiful,
detailed still-lifes of flowers, I had ever
seen. However, there was not even a post
card to buy. After seeing them, I craved,

as a companion to my life too own,
a still-life equal to the beauty of
Rachel's. One day I climbed into my friend
Craig's van in Sausalito. There, on the back

CORRECTED TO HERE

seat, lay a small picture of a most
exquisite still life (equal to Rachel's) I had
ever seen. I said: "What's this? He said,
"A reject. Have it if you like." I
clutched it to my bosom -- where it stuck
to my heart. Craig, among other things, prints
on the computer, in color, exquisite reproductions. The
best I've ever seen. And -- he has a

bad memory, almost as forgetful as my own --
he didn't, just off hand, remember the artist's
name. Thereafter, from time to time, I discovered
her name and forgot it again and again,

but never forgot the painting. (Interesting: I forget
the names of painters, but never the paintings
themselves. Or at least when I remember a
painting, it is always there. But here I
see Wilson's use -- the book has been given
to me by a departing-for-the-woods-
friend -- and I will, I now know, know
Isabella's name forever -- as long as my own

mind lasts. Wilson begins by calling Thoreau
an artist, defining what an artist is, a
definition I in the introduction to my website.
Then he begins to define generations, using the

father-son routine of well-known arts and
sciences lads, leaving out the rest of humanity,
as if -- because he happened to know about
them -- the one's he knows are important and
the other ten millions who lived and died,
thought and wrote, painted and suffered, rejoiced and
mourned, were not worth mentioning. There have been,
doubtlessly, a million Thoreaus -- with his thought style,

life style, ability to write -- dotted here and
there over earth and time, both before and
after T's habitation at Walden Pond. Why does
"history" offend me so? Would I be so

offended if I had a bigger note in
its annals? Is it sour grapes? Or do
I miss the sweetness of all other grapes?
All, except the limited, limiting, small crop of
historical grapes, studied and restudied and restudied, pressed
for wine and pressed for jam, juiced and
plucked from the dust of the vine as
if there were no other grapes, no other

champagne quality grapes to be known? While the
known ones, often mediocre, often outmoded, are almost
never discarded even when proved obnoxious, even when,
occasionally, it is shown that some other obscure

one did it first or better or more
beautifully or more lastingly. History remains a set,
almost static, a rote recital, of a certain
number of events and inventions that a very
small coterie of people created and wrote down
in their personal diary and others were forced
to, or willing called, history. Very exclusive diaries
that excluded almost everyone else, seldom welcoming or

embracing other geniuses than their own. As if
a billion of lives could be summed up
by the single citing of the achievements of
one. (However, here, revising in 2007, I must

add a slight addendum about “blogs” and logs and
what I still perfer to just call websites,
where by the second half of the first
decade of the 21st Century we now see
hundreds, thousands of people expressing themselves -- often in
language or images that put our old masters
and new masters to shame, re style, content,
thought, invention, daring-do and the incredible beauty

of the luminous screen -- where everyone can post
and everyone can read/see if you take
the time to invite Google as your traveling,
browsing companion. Now, having read a bit more

in Wilson’s book and after seeing him place
himself securely on the knee of Julian Huxley,
and thus unmistakably in the fine line of
history, let’s see how he gets to the
future of life -- which surely, if there ever
is one, will be a multitudinous affair of
a geometrically enlarged and enlarging section of humanity
being history, writing history, expanding beyond anyone’s (existing

today) imagination of what was and what can
be. In the meantime, I’ll still pay homage
to the millions of Thoreaus, before and after
the 19th Century who lived elsewhere than on


II

this scrap of Massachusetts land beggared from the
Indians -- all of whom were Thoreau’s equal, observing,
noting, musing, ruminating over thousands of years. Yet
one might say I am obsessed with obtaining
my place in history. But I do not
want to play their game their way. It
is not that I want their -- those in
history's -- company. I just want the "readership.” I

don't want to hawk my wares, I don't
want to plant myself within their (mostly skewed)
findings on human life. I believe that everyone,
though too often discouraged, who even may not
be very good at it, has something unique
to say about living. But almost everyone’s thoughts
get lost by the ownership of the small
coterie who write/fight their way into history.


III

Well, naturally, by the time I get to
page xxi, I am proved wrong and skeewah,
a jumper-to-conclusions, a not-willing-to-
listen-to-the-other-guy (except under duress

and after I have expressed my own limited
opinions), a prototype of jealousy that T is
famous and I am dumb... Well he's not,
just read his motivation as quoted by Wilson

on pages xx and xxi -- what else are
they but my own? He just did it
first and better, or maybe not better -- he
just got famous for it and I am
still obscure up here in my eyrie-nunnery --
working away on the same: What the hell
is it? -- this life stuff!!!!! This minute by
minute and galloping by generations stuff! It never

seems to get any place, it goes round
and round, and each round different? Civilizations come
washing up on shore, not better, not worse,
just different -- with all the little creepy/crawlies

that are the passion of Wilson, and all
the crows and birds of Thorough! -- as W
is at pains to tell us he pronounced
his name. Once again, it's my all-but-
seventy-years-battle with innovation and tradition. How
I love beyond imagining the fanatically traditional, classical
purity of Swapanji's drumming. At the same time,
how I love, in my own art, not

to follow anyone who has gone before, to
experiment night and day, poem by poem, silly
and profound, trying, always, to peer into what
comes my way day by day. And trying

to glue it together with what I KNOW.
To answer the riddles of Thoreau and my
own. Always ending up envying those first humans
who began to make, not only fire and
dinner, but who began language, began weaving, began
writing, began tasting the plants around them, even
envying those who began killing the other animals
to swallow their flesh. Ah, to start with

a clean slate! Not to be taught all
that nonsense which I have now lived long
enough to discover in a discouragingly great number
of cases are opinions, not facts simply the

opinions (no better than my own) of others.
The classical example I can cite in 2003,
is the now forty year old example of
geography -- in 1963 the geographers of the world,
gathered together in San Francisco and finally began
to believe in plate tectonics, the perpetual movement
of the continents of the earth. (And even
this is questioned again by some today) But

imagine all the nonsense that was taught to
us, me included, prior to 1963 and is
still in cited history. Historical People become famous
even for being wrong, while the ten billion

others, live and die in silence. "The silence
after a lifetime of talking and the silence
after a lifetimes of silence is the same
silence," says my favorite, Nisargadatta, (who I recently
learned must have been known to Gandhi, as
N's recorder, Maurice Frydman, for awhile lived as
G's disciple). So, for my envious soul, cheer
up! We all end eventually in the grand

hall of Silence -- which is what you liked,
a lot, and a lot of, all along.
Note of 06-27-07: My favorite thing, I have
finally discovered is to let everything go, get

messy, dissolve into chaos, almost to the point
of madness, then to bring it all back to
order, my house, my thoughts, my relationships, my
garden -- you name it: dissolution into chaos and
then restoration of order -- thus thee, me and

the world work.





CALL ME PARVATI

#130
11-29/12-02-03

He wants to eat every time I eat,
my cat called Shiva.
He's getting bigger. Pretty soon
he'll be as big as a snow leopard.
Hefty in the haunch,
a tail as thick as a hawser,
he's close to taking over the studio,
dominating the household like a husband.

But I say to him, "You'd better not take
over. You don't shop,
you don't pay rent.
If you overwhelm, if you eat me,
you're going to have to go out into
that world, where you have never been,
and rip your own liver from a pig or a cow.

"Big dominating Husband, huh?!!!
Try that!"

"In the meantime, be nice to me,
Pravati, the wife who loves you,
and made the mistake of naming
you Shiva. Not only Shiva,
but Shiva-purna, i.e.
Full of Shiva!

"Don't ask to eat more.
you're growing fast enough,
Lion-sized Kitten!

"Moderate your appetite.
Stop trying to decide which
to chew on, hands or ankles.
Neither!
Let me pet you!
Purr!"

His big, masculine, white-booted paw touches a spider
as gently, as tentatively as if it were a chip
diamond in the crown jewels.

I wonder if anybody ever wondered
if Parvati was lonely while
Shiva was out dominating the world
as a flaming linga.

Not likely.
She has her own bundle
of austerities she practices
daily.

Namaste!





BEFORE SEVENTY

#131
12-02-03


Four days left before seventy.
Seven O!
Astonishing.
The last few days
I have been walking
as if I were thirty again.
I had quite given up in despair
that I would ever walk free,
upright, light-hearted, easy.
But there it is.
Patience.

Renewable.
The human body does
seem endlessly renewable.
Though one is always spiraling
down hill, it is slow, quite leisurely
most of the time. Decay: ending perhaps
as light and lacy as the winter-pounded leaves
leaving behind only myriad intricate veins
like shadows of winter on the spring.

Has the witchazel began to bloom?
Just before seventy, I'll pray for
energy to walk the Arboretum
to smell the first witchhazel,
harbinger of one more year.
yellow, bright-faced,
spider-like
and sweet.





INCENSE

#132
12-03-03


I'm up burning incense this morning,
washing blood out of my duvet.
I seldom burn incense

The cat scratched my leg again and I climbed
back under my comforter
without thinking about bleeding.

Why am I burning incense?
for Bill, for Theresa, for my poetry,
for me

and a new desire to see the world is as it is,
to stop the anger, the aggression in my breast
against all those

doing what they think best.
Why am I to judge that killing thousands of Iraqi's
is wrong

Who am I to judge that destroying the world
to save it is nonsense?
Nature got bored with the dinosaurs.

Who are we to save each creature verging on extinction?
How else is the world to be fertilized
if not by us?

So I burn incense, pray for Bill/Theresa,
try to back off from wanting the fruits of my labor,
let the world be as it is.

I light one candle, the candle from Joan, beautiful, generous, Joan.
She gave me (each of us yogis) the little saucer beneath the candle
just at the moment desire was forming.





THE MAGIC NUMBER

#133
12-04-03

What have I written this year?
Should I stop now?
Yesterday, I articulated to Vikram
that I write
to shape my experience.

It is something to DO with living --
like sticky paper for the flies.
Capture them, watch them twitch
for a bit in the goo.
Hang around for a while.
Then forgotten

It's been a prosaic, didactic year.
Lots of trauma about the shape of my knees.
But as we approach seventy together
they are much better. I walk again
freely, easily.
They, graciously, have slowed me down
enhanced my consciousness.

I have been made aware
that I will die.
That no matter the good shape
of the body,
it is stiffer, older, the mind a good
deal slower
able to blank out mid sentence
and also recall mid-century -- the last.





POSSESSED

#137
12-19-03

I keep writing
I do not know
what for or why
It's as if some amanuensis
Has picked up my pen

I've rather stopped sending
my poetry round
as even I can't
often
think what it
means





POSSESSED II

#138
12-20-03

I was trying out different bodies
last night in my sleepy mind's eye
wondering what it would be like
to rest in Leah's pregnant body
the night before her birth,
or my mother's, all birthdays
today. And then I tried a few
other notables, in their beds,
in the night wondering what it
would be like to sleep in their
body, fall asleep with their mind
whizzing. Bremer, for instances,
the butcher of Baghdad.
But when I got to Bush's
body, it was so dark, I was terrified
to enter. So I came back to my bed
as me, took deep breathes,
fell asleep.





#139
12-21-03


A BIRD FLIES OVERHEAD


with erratic bursts of wing-pumping,
raggedly. Perhaps he is just learning
to fly. Why is he so high up? Just to be
parallel with God's eye, he has to be
two-hundred feet from the ground.

Is he struggling or having fun?
Perhaps. I know nothing about one
bird flying, nor fishes in the sea
One gets so used to thinking of me
on earth, in elevators, one forgets

there are other elements where others feel
at home in: the sky, the sea, real
mid-nightness. Some creatures are found
to live in rocks, in the ice, in the sound.
Sound becomes light in the sea.*

The bird is out of sight from my bed
now. From horizon to horizon the dead
misty gray of the year's shortest day
conceals the mountains, the lakes, the bay.
One remembers flights one regrets.

The cat fans the paper pile as he scratches.
The paper edges tickle his paw patches
or sharpen his scimitar claws. This writer,
between reprimand and laughter,
wishes he were brighter

or does he do it deliberately?




*sonoluminescence

Shawn Brixey, Associate Director of the Center for Digital and Experimental Media, U.W.






#140
12-22-03


THE MOUNTAIN


was a black solid this morning,
not a crevice or ridge or glacier showing
on its mighty, but gently sloped, volcanic cone.

One could guess it was made of rocks,
its outline crenelated, solid,
its daughter just off the Eastern slope,
small, but rough and shy,

the sun not yet rising on the first day
of the increasing light,
not yet showing its pinks and peach.

Then hesitantly before the sun actually rose
Rainier turned white, completely draped
in its snow shroud.
The sky is dashed with color from horizon

to horizon, the earth is blue-black and silver
Still the sun hesitates to rise.
A single plane flies from the North West

leaving a white contrail against the immense
blue sky -- and I think of an old,
lost love, D'Arcangelo -- known
as the "cloud painter" -- who loved

contrails against the blue,
shot hundreds of photographs
of those white lines. I wonder

what his unforgiving children
did with them when he died.
I never claimed the painting he gave me
"Mit Out Sound":

white freeway arches and a contrail
against the vast blueness of an Eastern sky.
You could hear the silence.

Now there are fragments of four
contrails flying elongated, white silk
Tibetan flags across the mottled sky.
The Cascade ridge glitters,

gaudy, liquid gold
as the Sun rises, seemingly solid,
pushing a cloud, shimmering

and silver-white, with its winter disk
of antique bronze. And again, I
remember the Archangel, who
took me to the top of the Trade Towers.

How he would have loved to be alive,
a witness,
when they fell.





#141
12-23-03


THE GAUGUIN PINK LAKE AGAIN


The Gauguin pink lake again,
and the Golden Orb Weaver Spider,
one for the eye and one for the mind.

Reading old news in the tub last night,
ancient Web news from January 2002,
about the recombinant spider silk

being cultured then (and now, one presumes)
in the milk of transgenic goats.
I lie abed thinking

about spider/goats this morning. I come
to the amazing conclusion:
But of course!

Milk is to mammals, no doubt, as unspun
silk is to spiders: milk in the belly
amino acid milk, like us

and spider's thread spun of pure protein:
"a self-assembling, biodegradable,
high-performance, nanofiber structure

one-tenth
the width of a human hair" --
now patented. And what do they

call it? BioSteel.
And what do they want to use it for?
"...military and industrial" purposes.

Again, I watch the pink on the lake,
gone toward orange now and peach.
I think of other substances

like milk: semen and jellyfish,
the ooze of mucus,
the product of a sneeze,

all self-assembling, biodegradable,
amino acid substances which we are
matching day by day,

molecule by molecule, tuning sound into light,
day into night, microorganisms into power,
electromagnetism to catapultic speeds,

defining the color of the universe --
as the lake turns silver, blue-black
and gray -- with my tears

as I skim the pages of the ancient document,
noting that uses are 90% military,
almost none for the sheer beauty

of a world self-assembling,
building itself into wondrous things.
And our object? To use this knowledge

for profit and destruction.
Gauguin painted pink ground,
people blue and maroon.

Will the golden orb weaver spider
capture our compassion, appreciation
for the pink lake by the light of dawn?





WORK ON YOUR OWN SOUL

#142
12-25-03

Truly not much else to do but contemplate,
work on your own soul.
What I experience lately is having to grit
my teeth and bull my way through
all those things that once came easily
and, now, DON'T.
I spill things, I drop things, I stumble,
-- one thing I don't do is cry.
But all the gentle ways I used to be
don't work now. I have to yank
and jab, punch, pull and bang.
I now understand
all those angry people.
Life must have been like that
all along for them.
For me,
I had to approach seventy before
I became this ordinary bluffing,
blundering, brutalizing buffalo-klutz.
A lot of my wires, apparently, didn't
get hooked up to their nodes
until recently.
Now, its full bore to the grave!
-- like Strangelove, yippee-ing and yelling
riding the bomb right down
into the ground --
our ground, grassy though it used to be.
Work on your own soul,
breathe deeply in the 4:00 a.m.
darkness, enjoy the quiet respite,
you're sure to spill the coffee
as soon as it's poured.





#143
12-26-03


TRULY


I

Why blow up Bamian
It's all we have
A few objects
From a few thousand
Years ago,
A carving or two
History, Religion, Ideology
All are illusions
Who remembers the Donatis?
All that survives is a poem
All that will survive
Of Homo sapien sapien
Will be a few objects
In a niche or two
Cached away,
A few words in
Cyberspace
Possibly inaccessible
To all but
The wind.

II

Maybe there are words in the wind
already. Will we ever find out
how to access them?
Perhaps, like Indra's net
every particle reflects
every particle
that ever existed,
we just need
to know
how to look,
we need the
code.





#144
12-26/27-03


CHRISTMAS


I feel so rinsed and clean
not only have I been spending
extra hours in the pool
exercising

and not only being
successful at keeping my
head above the toxic
chlorine

but beginning to feel
stronger and more capable
bending my legs
flailing

my arms, but I also
managed to almost wholly
skip Christmas.
No shopping

no eating, no forced
conviviality, no not-need presents given,
no false joviality, only two
presents

received, and those
quite charming: a clippers
to deal with my cat's
bamboo

forest and individual
honey sticks never seen by he
or me before, and delicious,
edible.

But most of all,
I feel so clean and rinsed after
my session alone in the computer
lab, indexing 2003.

Three or four hours
of centered, concentrated work,
then coming out into
the frosty night

about 5:30 and the streets
so empty and quiet
I couldn't
resist

walking the mile up hill,
past the empty campus the darken
stores, the one or two cars,
single people.

The solitude was like
a bath in starlight. The aloneness
made me laugh
out loud.

I feel clean and rinsed
for the New Year, hopefully, that night,
too, will pass in solitude
or perhaps

in the multitude of
a candlelight vigil round Greenlake
-- I have yet to ask --
solemn,

lonely, some singing, some
chanting, many, perhaps, remembering
the frightening magnitude of our presence,
the gift of our stay upon the earth.





#145
12-26-03


TO SAY NOTHING OF THE RETURNING OF THE LIGHT


Suddenly I find I love
Being out in the 5:00 P.M.
Darkness

Alone, before or after
The rain, wandering
In solitude

Noting the buds already
Set, seeing the iris
Leaves

Slicing through the dirt
Sensing though not
Seeing

The imminent return,
The glory of the
Incremental
Light.





#146
12-28-03


MORNING II


What a pleasure and privilege it is
to live with a pussy-cat.
This morning, neither of us doing
anything, me on my bed
and he on his mushroom, we let
the morning begin
without fanfare, without even
light, still, at 7:12 --
I reflect that already the tail
end of the days has
grown longer, but the morning
may be darker, longer
than ever. The odd tilt of the earth,
I was told by Dan,
makes for an unevening in the
regaining of light.
But we are on our way toward
summer now,
ever so slightly. I saw one
very short iris
in the garden already. Whether
a winter iris,
or the first of spring (so distant)
I cannot say.
Still at 7:16, no crack of light over
the Cascades.
Maybe there will be no day today.
The cat stretches
on the Shiraz rug, his tan and white
and black against
the red, maroon and blue of the worn
rug, he plays
with the brilliant red and silver-ribboned
tissue that wrapped
my Christmas honey-sticks from Charles.
Various-flavored, I can
cut both ends and straw up my coffee as I
am fond of doing.
7:21. Do I dare peek at the expected dawn
again? Ah! I turned
out the other lights. There is a certain growing
lightness to the sky, variegated
here and there -- clouds, I think, another gray
rain-besmirched day.
Still I wait for that streak, that crack of light
beyond the Eastern mountains.
If one gets up early enough in Seattle, there is
almost always a suggestion of sun,
the pinks and peaches of dawn as the sun gallops
from behind the mountains
into the cloud-gathering sky. Pink, Yes! Already
there is a suggestion of pink
tinting the heavy, gray-blue, sodden clouds,
but no hint of the cracking dawn,
no guarantee the light will come again today.
But Saher is born, promise
that the day will dawn for one more life-time
for the East and for the West.
7:31, I see the pink is just from the city lights
and not from the longed-for
sun. I look off toward First Hill and, sure enough,
the pink light seems to emanate
from the house of Saher.
Traffic is already thickening on the Sunday morning
freeway, but the clouds
and the mountains seem to meet -- no room for light.
The Lombardy poplar and
the cottonwood stand black, twiggy, stalwart against
the relentless, rain-pregnant clouds
7:46, the sun has lost her chance to peek between
the mountains and the sky.
Saher completing here third day, has slept through
her fourth dawn. The cat pushes
the black bamboo wands in their fruit-juice jar,
urging me to chase him,
galloping up and down the hall.
Sleep tight, little child of the dawn.
The cat must play and have his 547th day.





#147
12-29-03


FIRE!


Fire! this morning on Capitol Hill.
White smoke! Flames! Black smoke!
Enveloping the three red-jeweled antenna.

I feared it might be the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
But after half an hour a laconic report from
NPR saying it was a house, too hot to enter,

near the museum, so they were letting it burn,
Now, an hour later, the white smoke is blowing
south and we have a sunshiny day of such

pure air that the light hurts the eyes.
And, like a fur collar, a ruff of fog clouds
around the horizon to the south, to the east

and to the west. To the north it is clear.
Belligerence is in my brain this morning.
Not unusual! And I'm off for the water.

Douse the fire! Douse the heat! Two more
days, and I still feel I'll be lucky to survive
this year. The political madness. The pain.

And yet I am happier and, perhaps, as well as
I have been in the last few years. This too shall
pass, the madness, the pain, the happiness.

Day after day after day I grow wiser to this
magical maddening world. It is what it is
and no more. But no less.





#148
12-31-03?01-01-04


DECEMBER 31ST

Expectation. I have this feeling of expectation.
It's unusual. Usually when the year ends
for me, it is just another cipher on a man-made
calendar. No more, no less. Nothing interesting.

Time passing, another day; tomorrow, I'll probably
not remember to change the date. 2004 will be hard
to remember for a month or so. Then the spring --
already the buds swelling. The cherry trees I keep

tabs on from my window were perfectly purple
in the late afternoon, as if all the pink-white
that will be their blossoms was rushing in un-
diluted-thick-color up their branches to be there

when the fragile forest of blossoms burgeons
into incandescent light. Last night, reading late,
a novel that as I go along begins to make my
stomach queasy, I heard strange, faint, swishing

sounds, and something compelling about the air.
Finally, I got up to discover an inch of snow already
on the ground, and coming down in a gentle blizzard.
And Kids! They had to be kids, in the parking lot,

speeding and making their car, fish-tail and skid
in circles, again and again, that faint swish. Then
they high-tailed it out of there, probably seeing
three of us at the stairwell windows. Gone. It

was hard to go to sleep then. It was midnight,
the phantasmagoria of the snow, coming down
in the night thick enough to erase the lights
of the cars on the bridges (which I saw being

constructed years ago), turning them into faint
flickering fire-flies, had already erased Seattle.
The high buildings were gone, the lake was
gone. Just the silence of the snow. Not even

that faint ticking that so often is the sound
of snow. It was silent. I saw one car go by
in the night with a foot of snow on it,
probably not from here, probably

come down from the north. I wanted to
watch the falling snowflakes forever, but
my legs were tired from water exercise, from
computer sitting, from quick, if short, walks,

from Yoga, where, by the end of the session,
I felt light -- and, finally, identified the exact
sensation -- beyond feeling beautiful and svelte,
young again, supple, rising back into limber life

from Bill's magical teaching -- I felt -- until I
tried to stand up, stiff as usual, and awkward
now at seventy -- like I could levitate, that
instead of crawling on my knees and twisting

my body and heaving its bulk up from the floor
as if... as if in my stillness... as if I stayed still,
I could levitate. The feeling was so strong
and so precise, I mentioned it to Bill.

And he began to talk about levitation,
and kundalini, and the possibility of taking
the class further. I couldn't listen. I wanted
just a hug and to leave, in my usual silence,

my usual feeling of quiet after the class.
He persisted, just a moment. I think it was
the fearful demon of hope I was batting
down as if it were a climbing, strangling

vine that had suddenly sprung up at my feet
and was enveloping me, wrapping me around
with feeling I now longer feel, no longer
want to feel. And yet I think about it,

like this book,* making me queasy. But it
is odd, this feeling of expectation that has
been growing in me lately as I become more
awake, more alive, as I swim, and bend

and twist, like a tree-snake, shedding its
bark. Today, a juice bottle is empty, and I
will fill it with water and put in one of
my black bamboo stalks, to see if, like

Tannhauser's staff, it will sprout new leaves, even
from a dry stick, dead for weeks now, dead
for years now, as if at seventy, I had returned
to girlhood, to knowledge I never hoped to learn.

This is the end of my plain-Jan(e)-year-end poems.
Maybe I have reached once again the point
where Klee began his Sketchbook
and I began my writing with The White Bird.







Copyright © 2003 through 2015 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jjhaag@gmail.com

INDEX for THE 2003 POEMS



MASTER LIST: ALL POEMS


BY JAN HAAG

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

HAAG'S BIO

21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context