Life is made up of many epochs. In each epoch I will catch an image from one of my nine-cat-lives and see where it leads.



Early Cavafy


I remember the climbing rose outside
the breakfast window, climbing one
and a half stories up the corner of red,
matched brick, past the garage, up to
bloom in the south-facing window
near the black phone on the yellow
wall with prefix and three digit code.

The radio broadcast (my brother's
choice) the war news or (my choice)
the Saturday afternoon, Texaco opera.
I read Gone With The Wind and
Forever Amber while the war went
on and on and on. The war began the
day after my eighth birthday. What

age was I as crimson roses exploded
outside the sunlit window? I was
still in love with my honey-colored,
long, thick hair. Even then, I liked
being alone at home to freeze apricots
into ice cream while Mother, Sister
Father, Brother went to the relatives

(like going to the trenches). I liked to
be alone even then. The war seemed
remote, the opera exotic, the invasion
of my privacy acute when others were
present, but I gloried in the sunshine
shining through my honey-colored hair.
The summer mornings were many.

My Ithaca was spare.


Early Van Gogh


I remember the maple, so bright with
yellow, that in the dark-forest-winter
it seemed as if the sun had suddenly
shown in my hall-like, walk-through
dining room -- where we seldom ate.
The windows in that house were im-
portant. The solidified, low-ceilinged,

lean-to construction of the kitchen
ended in a huge, arms-on-the-cross-
window that gazed out into
silent hemlocks, burnt sienna and
umber duff where needles fell from
the forest onto the narrow path to
the wood hatch covering the pump

that didn't always work. That win-
dow set my dish-washing style for
life: warm water over morning-cold
hands, gazing into viridian shadows
waking the forest into the trilliumed
dream of life -- before the sharp rose
-scent of the crab-apples surrounding

the garbage pit, our midden, filtered
the spring air that began on April 26th
each year, promptly. Could the year
read the calendar? In the fall, John
gathered leaves onto a blanket, haul-
ing them, Hercules-like, to the forest
to molder beneath Paul's Breton-bright

ear-less, blood-stained snow.


Late Hwagehsa


I remember there were no windows
in the small, clean, furniture-less
room we shared, nor did we ask
why. It was cold, city-grimed snow-
slush lingered at the hand-made-not
-well-fitted doors. There were many
uninviting passageways, steps, build-

ing. But, the image that lingers was
not from my arrival at Hwagehsa,
nor from Sudoksa. Upon returning
to Hwagehsa we attended the even-
ing chant, all of us spilling out into
the snow from the small, ornate temple
where the Buddha sat, and the candle

-light came through the paper walls.
All the old men -- for it seemed that
none chanting were even as young
as I at fifty-four -- monks, in tailored
grey robes, sang the same chant, but
each with his own melody, variations
grace notes. It sounded, except it was

soft in the winter air, cacophonous
to me. From this apparent cacophony,
I was to learn later -- to learn now;
right now; at present; daily -- there is
no right way. O I had understood that
ecumenically, but today I follow the
thread of uncertainty assiduously,

hourly, knowing no answer, there are
no answers, there is what happens,
what is spoken, written. Multi-faceted
windows open to the world bright as
sunset's glitter of rose, pink, gold, blue
certainly explained by art, philosophy,
science, romance -- re-explained each

epoch -- between ice-ages.


Late Pharsee


I remember resting my chin on the sill
of the basement window. I could see
outlined beneath the midnight blue, four
o'clock light, ochre, yellow, mustard,
orange sun-rays caught like music in
the flaming leaves of the poplars, towers
dazzling, bright -- suspended under God

and the sky. What does one do with such
beauty? -- such towers of silence, such
damp-feeling white walls in my small
space shallowly excavated into the earth's
crust. I had expected to not like my new
home, sunken and dark. The rooms were
large, but I felt buried up to the shoulders.

But at night, when I turned out the light,
crawled into my bed on the raise floor,
felt the silence and the soothing warmth
of surrounding earth, thought about
being buried in the womb of the great ball
whirling on and on through the blackness
of space, I appreciated the protection, the

bliss. Where was I to go? Why would I
want to go? Like a seed cracking its shell,
a white and thready root fingered its way
down into the soil, the rock, met the water-
table, drank. Later, much later by human
standards, a year or so, flowers began to
bloom: geraniums, scarlets, crimsons, blue

lobelia reflecting the sky.


Middle Mulholland


I remember being unable to sleep at
Pacific View Drive above the City of
the Angels. I'd watched 'til dawn at
my all-window-walls imprisoned by
the city lights' glitter. They sparkled,
jeweled on a black carpet, laid toward
New York. I dwelt on a cliff, atop a

chaparraled canon, fragrant with
Podocarpus. It's white catkins
shagged along steps beside deep-sunk
metal piers, which swayed in
earthquakes, to where a door into storage,
I mostly avoided, opened into darkness.
There I endured a landlord whose medical

son-in law, was as fanatical for his
pound of flesh as Dubya, refusing to fix
the running toilet. Finally it ran all
day when I was at work. I came home
to inches of water flowing down the open
steps, soaking into the rug, brown-edging
the toes of my Century Dictionaries.

He was outraged that I objected to shit
in the toilet -- not whatever he called it,
but the fact that I called it "shit." I pitied
his patients, no doubt petrified into a
constipation as severed as his own.
Odd that this is what I remember of
that time of love, fame, success,

designer clothes, a car, comfortable as
a couch, big as a tank, where I walked
as well as ran at dawn (until I knocked
my four front teeth out), wrote two novels
at so many pages a day before I went to
my glamorous day job (full of present
and future celebrities) and a dawning

awareness of just how unhappy I was.


Sixth Hour Before War


The foolishnesses of American radio
goes on through the night, through
the morning. Ten minutes hence we
enter the sixth hour before Bushy's
forty-eight hour ultimatum expires.
It's just six hours before "Shock and
Awe" bombardment can commence.

Several early morning commentator,
however, emphasized the madman
qualified his threat, saying the in-
vasion would begin at a time of his
choosing -- thus implying "early" is
a possibility. I sit quietly, with my
milk/decaf coffee, in the paradise

of my eyrie, listening to the noisy
blowing of the ventilation system.
I look through the vast windows to
see the mountain, snow-shrouded,
cloud-veiled, and the grey, somber
medley of high buildings between
the hills, on Lake Union's shore,

a bowl of 21st Century capitalism --
less glamorous by day than at night.
A commentator announces: Baghdad
is silent. Those who can, have fled,
others hide, only war correspondents
walk about to broadcast their opinions.
Deep in my heart a secret wish abides:

that they drop five bombs and five fall
on Saddam Hussein. For though he may
be no worse than our madman, his death
might just stop the madman's annihila-
tion of the Iraqi people, who are no more
guilty than am I, sitting here silently

listening to the venting blowers.

Copyright © 2003 through 2015 Jan Haag
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:



EPOCH, Early Cavafy, 03-11-03

EPOCH, Early Van Gogh, 03-12-03

EPOCH, Late Hwagehsa, 03-13/14-03

EPOCH, Late Pharsee, 03-14/04-06-03

EPOCH, Middle Mulholland, 03-14/26/27-4/06-03

EPOCH, NEW, Sixth Hour Before War, 03-19-03







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