Essays With Short Lines



in the form of cyberbytes, word count 72

The first time I heard, saw a picture of Mohenjodaro, I swooned with delight. The name’s sound tasted like substantial food in my mouth. The brushed brick walls, retrieved from the desert, made my heart thump like Shiva’s feet patta tat tatting upon the mud of creation -- with desire -- a longing not to be satisfied in this life. Today, toward evening, I read Romila Thapar -- her "origin thoughts" as good as any.



I just saw Antonioni’s Red Desert again. The line is:
“I have to think that all that happens to me is my life.”

But my own remembered line always has been:
I have to understand that what happens to me is my life.

Completely different in meaning.



Noon! and the sun coming in.
What more can one ask of a winter’s day
-- after 30 days and 30 nights of rain*?

*See January 16, 2006, The Day That Didn't Break the Record.



The days pass; they’re all the same,
all doused with water and rain.

Having lingered overlong at the party.
The white mist and fine wind, hearty
and intermittent, tosses the despair
from my heart, my mood, my care.

I walk alone with my burden, delight
sliding to remorse, tedium, guilt, fright,
in flight from an inability to honor
Buddha, who changed destiny; horror

for Ashoka, Bodhi Dharma, Kanishka, for
Suryavarman II who bewitched the world with Angkor.
I study, I read, I levitate with love -- and wonder:
If it pleased them, why, for me, it remains hunger.

Buddha, before pictured a man, was a footprint, an umbrella,
a wheel, an enlightenment, a hint.



The world is collapsing around my ears.
It hums along okay,
-- a bit jerkily --
I just do the next thing.

But if I try to plan, or want to adjust,
fix anything,
cannot be done.

Everything goes kerplooy.
I can’t find it.
I can’t grasp it.
I can’t understand it,
it knocks me flat.

It’s as if life,
as whizzing molecules,
whizzes, slips, accelerates, dissolves




What was his name? The other guy who was “inventing”
the Theory of Evolution at the same time Darwin
was out there with his HMS Beagle researching, writing.

(Alfred Russel Wallace)

This sad juxtaposition comes to mind as I read Didion’s
book -- about her husband dying one night at dinner.
By the 100th page, her timeline -- how to say this? --

reaches the point

where she spent a few days with me -- or I
with her. It was the first Review Board I
convened for the Independent Filmmaker (grant-giving-to-filmmakers)

Program I headed

for the American Film Institute. She composed the Board, along
with Billy Friedkin and Ed Emshwiller (1925-1990), and
I discovered a huge blotch of blood on my

skirt when I

rose from our lunch on the balcony outside George Jr.’s
office at Greystone. I turned the skirt around, shielded
the embarrassment with some books and sidled off sidewise

to my john.

Yes, it really was “my john,” -- bright with blue, red
and yellow Mexican tile -- next to my office, which
had been one of the Doheny boys’ bedrooms. My

impression of Didion:

anorexically thin, neurotic, maybe on dope -- or an alcoholic. I
can’t remember if this was immediately before or just
after I finished writing the novel Angel’s Death -- which,

when read by

a dear and knowledgeable friend, was declared to be -- its
form -- like Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays.
I had never heard of Joan Didion, so it

must have been

before this Meeting -- maybe it even caused me to invite
her. And sure enough, when I read Play It
As It Lays
, it was similar in structure, a

Los Angeles structure:

driving round and round in short scenes, islands of familiarity,
excursions of despair. But, of course, different in content,
as was Jacques Demy’s LA structured Model Shop,

(with Anouk Amiee)

Round and round Los Angeles in short scenes -- it was
the natural structure of anyone who perceived Los Angeles
in those days -- when the traffic still moved. Didion’s

and Demy’s sold.

Mine didn’t. I was the other Darwin, as I have
been most of my life, talented, au courant, perceptive
and ignored. I watch this pattern now, so evident

in my life,

so there, so unmistakable. Always rushing just a hair’s breath
ahead of the crowd, the perceiving, writing crowd, and
leaving just before the climax, leaving the ground just

as the ground

becomes fertile for fame, publication, admiration, adulation, lionization.
I try hard to discover the meaning in this,
this pattern, this repeated, repeated, repeated pattern. I’ve had

the perqs of

a writer’s life: the talent, job, the acquaintances, enough fame,
and now I even have the dream-fulfilling eyrie
of a writer. I write and write and write,

and remain, fear

in my heart, outside and unknown. Why? I had plenty
of brass when I was young, and contacts, but
when read, instead of reading what I had said,

they wanted me

to rewrite, to say what they thought I should say.
So I stopped writing novels. I wrote 5,000, give
or take a few hundred, poems. Now I begin

to see my

life as that privileged, Emily-Dickinson-sort-of-life -- and
to understand her reasoning. If one remains unknown, anonymous,
one can write exactly as one sees the world --

and now publish

on the net. How odd it is that small coterie
of the published, the successful, the famous and infamous
leads the world about by the nose, while the

Other Darwins’ works,

equal and excellent, dedicatedly pursued, dry up off in the
wilderness, dry into neglected particles of dust, like those
bright spots just brought back from the comet’s tail.



There are too many factors to living.
The older I get the crazier it makes me.
Step out the door, I’ve forgotten something:
often the “Why” of the step, the “Where should I go?”

The “Who” called, the paper I wrote it on.
The month? Oh yes. And the date? Maybe. Time? What time?
Music is all I can listen to now.
Its sound doesn’t carry language’s need to make

meaning. Its drum beats on my heart, its strings
twang in my ear, its elongated melody
stretches definitionless beyond words.
The factors, my life, dissolve into dark matter.

There’s more of darkness, more of forgotten
now than there is of future or past. Everything
is -- is one infinitesimal, one
unseizable electron -- whizzing through nothingness.

4 x 10,12,10,12



Well, a new poem for the day, a new life! --
starting with the sunshine, brilliant, caressing and warm.
And a discovery: -- what happens to objects that cannot
be found, then appear at the next look around?

It is -- it is obvious, now! -- a short term memory
problem. Looking for the Bag Balm, one stares
right at it but, having momentarily forgotten what one
is looking for, one can’t see it, can’t find

it. Then -- after a moment -- another glance, I remember what
I am looking for, and There! -- It! -- Is!
That’s the new poem for the day, the new
life -- starting with the sunshine, brilliant, caressing and warm.




Then there are those who rev up one’s expectations.
New Friend: “...we’ll do this and we’ll do that.”
“I have no car.” “We’ll pick you up,
do some cranial sacral, cure your cat of clawing, biting.”

Well, actually, she gave me a hint that helps with
the last, which may be the great gift.
I have to live with Shiva-purna, promises, expectations, pleasure
in a new friend. Constance, I can live without.




Shiva-purna sits on the ledge, long, narrow, precarious, high
above the Chapel’s new polished floor. We have
a huge performance space; he has a new play
pen. If you were a 5th-floor, studio-raised,

20-pound cat, you might imagine the joy of 30
foot ceilings, auditorium-size space, light and air,
stained glass throwing chasable splotches of red and gold
sunlight over the gigantic floor, paneled walls. Shiva-purna is

unusually fond of red, crimson, scarlet. Yesterday he brought home
a gold and red paper napkin from god
knows where and, in the middle of the night,
a small, fluted, translucent cap from who knows whose

bottle of something. Light! Space! -- grand enough to develop some
racing speed having lept from the lofty balcony’s narrow ledge!




I have a pretty good memory at that. It’s just that things
get less and less memorable as I get older.
Everything has happened before -- or will happen again.

The memory that just came back so definitively was of a half
used paper towel across the room at the head
of my bed where I had been reading.

I now needed a paper towel to wipe the plant dish that
had overflowed as I over watered a seeding pot
that had not, so far, gown much of

anything at all. Odd, how, in this society, everything relates to economy.
The first time I heard The Economic Theory of
the Law, was in Karlin’s Constitutional Law class

in 1988. Now it has become universally, indisputably the truth. The price
of everything dominates all -- every memory. Perhaps one is
actually praying that Alzheimer's will kick in soon.

My mind, that used to think about God and the soul, art,
music, dance, design, pattern, playing things that were fun,
now thinks only of what it costs or

will I pay the cost, do without, or not mind the wet
floor. Years ago, it was the Canadians who painted
their houses with bright colors. Now we do,

as we Seattlites climb toward the cosmopolitan success of Canada’s stylish Vancouver.
But, of course, we’ll have to do it in
accord with the bottom line, economize, cut corners,

preach instead of pray, wonder why our garden city is not as
good as their garden city, launch an image campaign,
while saving half the paper towel for later.




What have I learned it all for -- the highways in and around,
up and down California? From San Anselmo to Sacramento? Along 101 North
to Mendocino, south to, O God, south to Santa Monica, all those

roads shooting East, and the more beautiful ones winding West from
Sausalito, San Rafael, Sonoma. What have I learned them all for?
Everything so crucial, inevitable. Even just a route from here to

there. One must learn everything, because one never knows what
one might need. The days and nights, the music -- which
even now makes the heart grow tight -- expands with longing,

Indian music, North Indian Classical music, first in Texas,
then in California. The seduction of executive life in
Hollywood, the passion to express my life as art.

There was no end, no terminal point to
my desires, they encompassed everything. Geology: Western Washington
does not belong to the continent, the twin

perfect volcanic cones of Vsevidof and Recheschnoi,
the rock of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka;
the tiny, almost miniscule spectrum within which

the human voice, all human voices --
Maori to Madison Avenue -- operate, vibrate
the air ever so little, as do;

the Vedas, Shakespeare,
Chinese chanting deliver their endless
codes, endlessly spiraling messages from

voice to written word
to the seventh generation
multiplied by thousands upon

thousands. What
is it all
for? A passing

pageant? No
more? No
less? I


nothing and
still be
breathing today,

eating, sleeping, petting
the cat. Why
all the traveling?

Why all the staying
at home? There are
never enough questions to

manifest useful answers. There are
three vast areas of flood
basalts in the world, two

of which I have seen: Eastern
, the Deccan -- will Siberia beckon
me before I die? What happens

to all this knowledge then? 250,000,000 years
ago the gorgons wandered earth, 175,000,000 years
before dinosaurs chewed on cycads. Shiva-purna brings

me toys from Fred’s toy box -- expressing love.
What do I do with that? Watch 5? --
the diamonds moving north, the rubies running south?

Type another 100,000,000 words for the abyss? Drop them
in? Listen for the echoes? The fossilization of us
will supply barely enough bones for taphonomic studies. Who

will sort the chaos? Who will care? Why so much
trouble over futility? If it’s not maya it’s a mess.
Who’ll dust mop the universe? And shake the particles -- where?

After we’re gone, who’s to care? Will the next form have
such a passion for study? Curiosity? Or will they stand facing
the wind as serene as trees, soughing, sighing without audible sound.

3 x 12 -> 1 -> 11



Everything is different now, there’s no going back,
no return, no vision for retreat, no vision
for advance or climbing the walls. It’s just

different now. Buddha achieves desirelessness -- and then what?
The birds still sing, the daffodils come up.
Icy cold penetrates my comfortable, warm, narcotic bed.

Surrender? I do it every night. Gladly -- like
the cross-eyed bear. Sunday school. I go
to school everyday but Sunday -- that day I

walk, noticing the difference between real life and
the crocuses -- or is it croci? -- the daphne,
the prunus preceding the cherry -- the same, but different.

889 = 97



I’ve made, or remade, with Shiva-purna’s help, a red, orange, yellow, sunshiny
lampshade. He started it and I’ve worked on it every Monday (but
one) for about six weeks. The other day, Shiva-purna, under his chair,
was playing with a red, yellow, orange napkin, which I have never
seen before. He took three years to tear the lampshade apart, and
now, after its resurrection, he wants to keep working, clawing the sunshine
-- thick with layer upon layer of red-yellow-orange tissue paper -- into
the third dimension. O cat! -- where’d you get that red-yellow-orange
napkin? Once again, you’ve convinced me that you live inside my psyche.

12 x 9



Shiva-purna spends his early mornings hunting for my goat.
Is it on the kitchen counter top? The plastic,
dish washing soap bottle bounces on the rugged floor.

Not it. A tape cassette flies from the desk.
Nope. A little dance on the computer keyboard. Almost.
Her head moved, the goat must be hiding someplace

nearby. While sugarplum fairies dance in her head, visions
of gardens, lawns, backyards, farms, anywhere goats might nibble,
flood her dreams, lite nightmares skid by on her

way to waking. Crash! Pitter patter! Rain? The little,
commercial, shrimp cocktail glass, left neglected on the peninsula
of the desk in the preliminary search for tax

data, hits the floor, its paperclips, big and little,
scattering. She throws back the covers, sits up, snarls:
“Shiva! Purna!”
That’s it! Found him! Got her goat!

9 x 5


Fait Accompli
"a thing already done"



The tyranny of the group against the individual,
The tyranny of family against the individual thinker,
The tyranny of mindset against individual opinion offerings
The tyranny of the individual by unchallengeable numbers
The tyranny of individual hopes trampled by odds
The tyranny individual hopes endure even to prevail;

from the bottom of
totem pole,

we’ll ask your individual opinion; giving it’s unnecessary.

8 x 9



Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Pimai, Ban Chiang, deep behind the main
roads, through the forests, beyond superhighways traveling through jungle,
wilderness -- where America keeps its malls and strip malls,
multi-billion dollar corporations, its “campuses,” its moneymakers -- Thailand
keeps its monuments, its grand “capitols,” ornate, deserted, hidden
from the too-timid-to-explore sight of casual

tourists. Twenty years ago I rode the busses down
those long, blank highways, wondering how one knew to
get off, where to turn down the roads into
the jungle, what I would find. Piles of bricks
and spires, Buddhas more exposed than they were meant
to be, crumbling walls, dry, twisting, naked vines, unusual

trees. I wandered alone. I saw a few foreigners
I had seen in other foreign lands holding similar
guidebooks with bemused expressions as they stepped past tumbling
grandeur, silent birds watching. No wonder the Brits craved
Siam; but they never got it. It is difficult
for a 21st Century woman’s mind to grasp rape

and pillage of such beauty, destruction of such awesome
works of man by man and his neighbors. To
have built it at all, to have deserted it,
to have created again and again more hatred, more
enemies, to have lost the ability to preserve themselves.
I lack the ambition, the necessary greed to build empires.

My ambition is solely to look, to wonder, to
sit quietly in the night, to meditate on madness,
on heart pounding exquisiteness of ruins barely perceived in
the jungle, the people gone, the stones askew, silent
but for far off beasts, falling trees, mosquitoes, gnats,
unarticulateable memories, visions, remembered dreams, and the demented slaughter,

destruction, deaths that left piles of bricks, spires, shrines,
doorways, walls, corners luminescent with lichen, bicycle dust in
the sun hotter than dust, discouragement, the “Why?” of
life slowly bleeding deep under dirt, ‘til the piles
of ochre beauty are indistinguishable from the sky-blown
fields of wrecking-ball rubble like any other mall.



I wonder if I’ve always lived with this reluctance
to do anything, anything at all: reluctance to walk
in the park, to iron my shirts, to work
at my miraculous computer, write a story, another poem.

Interlaken Park, where I haven’t been in a long
time... I know the time exactly, I walked there
on New Year’s Day 2005, or was it 4?
I’d like to walk, to be walking there now,

especially in today’s thick fog, where a skeleton was
found -- recently. Somebody’s father. Been missing for fourteen years.
How could no one, anyone, not see a body
lying about in a park for fourteen years?* But

then, it was Interlaken. Interlaken Park where the thin
ridges come razoring and grooved down into thick muck,
where trees tangle as if it were the jungle,
where moisture, rivulets push dead leaves around, where one

can slip and fall, land, break a leg, shout
and no one would hear -- so few go there.
O, not along the road. That is well enough
travelled, formerly by cars, now by bicyclers and walkers,

but on the steep bank that drops down for
hundreds of feet from the odd little park/viewpoint
atop the hill, around the corner from Boston -- where
few venture. Where I didn’t know for years you

could, where there is a path, that there is
even a bit of maintenance on it. So he
slipped, fell, the aged alcoholic. No one missed him,
the family was used to him disappearing from time

to time. Imagine lying there for fourteen years among
the thin twisted trees, the Oregon grape, the bracken,
the ferns, the rains, the muck and the mud --
and I want to walk there this morning, in

the thick mild fog. But it takes two buses
to get there, energy to walk up or down
or along, and another two buses to come home.
I wouldn’t dare try the steep sided hill or

I’d end up like him. A skull, a skeleton
found, identified fourteen years later. Not a bad death,
especially considering nobody missed him enough to find him.
But probably no one could have found him anyhow.

*Suggested by the disappearance of Howard Coad,
Seattle Times, March 16, 2006, Pages A1 and A11



Today, meditating, I was on Melissa’s family land
again, thinking about Lilac the goat. I couldn’t
remember the route, except that we walked, under
the sun on wide, partly paved, empty roads
through country, still beautiful, past widely spaced houses.

On the path, I was always alone: through
the woods, crossing the platinum and golden fields,
beside the rocky creek. Always alone, except at
the swimming pool, huge, blue, surrounded by oleanders
in bloom where, just once, we swam nude.

Lilac trotted on the asphalt, her little hooves
clicking. There were huge acorns to be stepped
on and nuzzled. In motion she was easily
led, but stopped, she was beyond my strength
to set in motion again. Homely little big

bellied thing, she was too heavy, stubborn, mute
for me. Once I walked with her alone
from Melissa’s land back to the ashram. Melissa
cuddled her like a baby. Melissa was strong.
By nature, Melissa was half animal, the other

half, saint. She could neigh, like a rutting
horse, loud enough to echo through the valley,
She had secret ways of accomplishing things: silently
in the night, or when your back was
turned, planting flowers, slipping into your hand exactly

what you wanted to eat, accepting your thanks
with the grace of a great blue heron.
She had in her nature the openness of
the land she was reared on, blood red
sunsets, live oaks, the talent to let things

grow, the secretiveness of the gathering dusk. Her
chickens laid blue eggs. Melissa served sweet chai
to guests sitting in the warmth, the dust
on the trailer house steps, Lilac nearby, munching
-- living now, known vividly, only in my memory.



I find it impossible to think about John.
My heart is so quiet lately, maybe asleep,
tranquilized, or gone. I can see some of
the circumstances of our lives, but I can

barely draw up an image of him, so
far in the past, but even the present
is serene to me now. Nothing more to
do, nothing more to see. Comprehending that fact

slowly, and without malice. They say, human life
is short. So it is, even though much
of the time it seems endless. Days seem
long, but once I’m in motion, walking, writing,

reading, time passes pleasantly enough. I guess I
will never again feel that vasty hole of
need to do, should be doing something. John --
I still can’t visualize nor think about him.



I’d be quite surprised if there is a poem
in there today. Where? O, just anywhere. Where’s in
there? O, in my belly or in my brain.
In your heart? O, I suppose that, too. It’s
in there, someplace. Along with the broccoli you’re shoveling
in -- and the mayonnaise? Yes. It all becomes heart
or soul, sooner or later. And the soul turns
into poetry? I suppose, something like that -- immortal poems.



Each morning I wake, lie in my bed, watch the sun climb the white walls
through the poplar leaf shadows outside my eyrie window. I lie still, not quite holding
my breath. I feel like a clear, quiet, dark forest lake. There’s no motion whatsoever,
except the sun (and shadow) moving across my walls. No wind. Not even a dragonfly’s
antenna touches the lake, the mirroring water. No energy. No lack of energy. No urgency.
I lie motionless. Even Shiva-purna has gone back to sleep, white paws over his eyes.
The morning begins. It wakes. To where will it lead? How will the stillness vanish?



I sat like a mummy all wrapped up in my embalming fluid. I couldn’t move,
couldn’t speak, I didn’t want to speak.

Even at 36, I could never understand why anyone would go someplace
to shout over music one didn’t want to hear, to say things one didn’t want
to say in an atmosphere one didn’t want to breathe, having to ask
again and again to find out what they were shouting at one.

It wasn’t until I got out into a cooling breeze on the sidewalk, I thought
to figure out that 36, a random figure caught in my head, is half the age I am now,
thrice the age, even so, since I last wanted -- inspired by movie magazines
bought on the way home from John Marshall Junior High --

to go to a nightclub. Probably, at that time, I was about 12. And tonight
wasn’t even a nightclub, just an upscale tavern in a high-techy world where
last time I walked its old-part-of-town streets there had been fishing tackle
and hardware stores that didn’t sell much because what they sold lasted forever,

and typewriter repair shops. The noise, the din, the cacophony -- like inviting
a llama into the roaring, saturated reds of a slaughterhouse. Why would you do it? --
I wondered, bemused, as I wandered the glittering night to find a bus stop --
which, when I found it, I had to question a red-haired fellow, to make sure

it was one. He knew, too, that the #44 was always late. At the next stop
a young, minimum-wage-class couple was told they couldn’t bring two new, still-sealed,
gallon cans of paint onto the bus -- “terrorists,” you know. He had to walk.
I suggested next time she put the cans in a QFC bag.



Nothing is being illuminated by sunshine yet.
I look with longing out across my world:
the parking lot, the trees, the houses,
both big and small, the lake, the sky scraping
buildings, the hills, all patchy, spring green now,
to where Mt. Rainier is hidden by the overcast.
And above are the white clouds, the blue patches
of sky, and the missing sun. It will come later.

I eat my hemp powder and strawberries and think of nothing.
I long to be walking around the edge of the lake, across the bridge,
around Portage Bay, and wonder if my legs will take me so far today.
Where the cat bit my wrist, there is still a gouge and lump, some discoloration,
and purple blood, but no pain. There was never any pain. Just the drama of having
to go to the Health Center, through minor surgery, five nurses, four needles, the doctor,
and the antibiotics, now having neutralized my good bacteria and flora, making me feel
a little float-y. Bon voyage to one more of life’s exigencies. Caring for the body seems

to be what one does after seventy. Each day it fills in the cracks of nothingness,
triumphs over intention, desire, a longing -- not too strong -- to do what I used to do.
That "must do" I needed to do so urgently, now blends almost seamlessly into the landscape.
Where’s the hurry? The hundred billion, trillion blossoms of spring have just began to arrive,
and the sun does wink its promise from time to time. What exactly is it that needs to be done?
Why did I ever feel it was my job to do it? It’s 350 million years since that strange, four-legged,
alligator-headed fish flexed its wrists and walked onto the land, probably not in a hurry, nor did it
know that it was going to end up -- at least pause momentarily -- in my poem. 10:23 a.m.



There has also been learned speculation about the bones
of an ancient little people (Homo floresiensis)
found recently -- about a year and a half ago -- in a cave
on an island (Flores) east of the Java Sea.
Are the bones from a new, unaccounted for, human species,
18,000 years closer to the alligator-fish than us?
Potts from the Smithsonian says its leg bone, foot and shoulder joint
were “quite different from modern humans.”

The brain, “grapefruit-sized,” only 23.2 cubic inches, Martin,
of Chicago’s Field Museum, says, would not have allowed it (a female)
to make sophisticated tools like those found with the bones.
Paleoanthropologist, team leader Dean Falk, (a woman) of Florida State University,
did not think the brain (possibly shrunken) belonged to a microcephalic.
Morwood, of Australia’s University of New England, finder of the bones,
described them as “a new species of dwarf human ancestor”
that survived beyond the dying out of the Neanderthals, 27,000 years ago

and overlaps with modern humans. A dream come true? Can’t you remember,
as a child, wishing for a race of little people to keep you company,
for you to watch over and love? Apparently god, made in our image,
wanted the same thing and just, like the Buddhist’s say, did it! 12:23 p.m.



Today I am haunted by Ellen’s house, Ellen’s
chateau, the golden walls, banqueting table, the plaster
dust everywhere, unfinished rooms -- huge and inviting -- packets

of nails and the white silk curtains, orderly
gardens already producing enough vegetables to sell at
the market; huge vats, containers and presses not

yet pressed back into service, the dream of
a French country life manifesting, mysterious. What year
was it that I roamed France with Eva,

visited the new museum in Bilbao, and how did
I get from there to here, shuttered in,
ageing, coffee-less, inspired by nothing, yet at peace?

There was a private chapel and a huge
garden at Ellen’s. There is a vast garden
containing raspberries, rhubarb, rue and, in the huge

chapel of my 100 year old nunnery, I
read books on ancient India and do my
early morning yoga. Why do I think my

life so different today, cry to the radiant
vision of the gone-ness of yesterday? Is it
just the poignance of the goneness of yesterday,

the poignance itself of time passing? Eva and
I, on our way to Conques, her stone
town resplendent with music, visited Illiers -- Proust’s village

from Remembrance of Things Past -- late and distilled
to just the Church, like an Oriental carpet
vaulted, structured toward heaven and anchored by my

overwhelming desire, passing-through devoutness, my love, longing.



I couldn’t quite remember what it was like
to be young, lying on the floor, eating
spaghetti for dinner, dreaming while I pretended to
read spy novels, and picked my nose. Never

for a moment anticipating that I’d be eating
spaghetti lying on the floor reading Le Carré
at seventy-two, still picking my nose having just
learned, a month or so ago, in Physiology,

that mucus is the nature of the respiratory
tract, that there will always be a certain
amount of mucus up and down the nose,
the throat, the lungs and, somehow, the usually

moist Seattle weather dries it out in the
nose, crusts it -- more than, for instance, in
Hollywood. Imagine picking your nose in Hollywood! Mucus
softens, prepares the membranes for use. To do

what exactly? Lie upon the earth, eating spaghetti
with Trader Joe’s meat, and commercial, organic Marinara
sauce? -- too busy dreaming to make it with
real tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, butter -- and,

afterwards, drinking pure, powdered chocolate and raspberry jam
mixed with soy milk into a tasty coffee-
substitute containing enough caffeine to wake the brain,
dream, dine, realize things will never be different.

One has to, of course, note that chocolate,
jam, sugar are no longer allowed, nor spaghetti,
green and spinach though it may be. All
simple pleasures are forbidden, only the disentangling remains.

Twist the slippery noodles against the big spoon,
pile the sauce on the fork, gather the
cheese on top, suck the tag ends into
the mouth, savor each bite and forget it.



There isn’t any enlightenment, and there isn’t going
to be any, except what you manufacture out
of your own substance.



Their voices appealed to me, their call for
freedom. Yet, I am the freest
of the free. They gave up everything so

William could be King, yet even his brother
spits into the wind. And even
I, trying to remember, remember nothing.

“Goodbye Diana, we’ll never forget you.”
But we will, we will, as each impenetrable
year flakes, falls on time’s crust.

As William grows up, becomes king, skips over
Charles and his Camille, he’s the one who
will probably never forget. At least

not in his single trial of life on
this earth. Everyone has a divided
mind, between memory and the present

moment, pulled like taffy, stretched to the breaking
point and, strand by strand, pulled
apart to reveal nothing accurate, for no thin

wedge of consciousness can ever duplicate what was,
what is coming, what will be
gone -- thin nano-disks overlaid on nothingness.



Lately, I begin to understand the yogi, down
by the river flinging arms to the sky,
twisting his trunk about like an ancient ficus,
preparing his body for the pleasures of death.

What better use of the day, the dawn
or the evening light? Breathing deeply and slowly,
the prana expands and contracts with the rhythm
of the universe, pulsing, a pulsar, one kind

among the infinite variety of stars, one dot
in the ubiquitous universe within the universe, galaxy
within galaxy forever. Stand on the shore. Breathe.
Let the sun’s gold light shine through you.

Let the river tug sand from between your
toes, let the boats pass to and fro,
let the sun ascend the sky and sink
to warm your back. T urn like a flower.




When all your dreams have turned to memories
remember, indeed, that the summer mornings were many,
that poignancy comes not from failure but success.
You have what you have always so wanted

and still the wanting goes on, an unease
in the heart which does not slow down
enough to see the tiny moth dance in
and out of the streaks of sunlight, invisible

before the circling flight, in the morning air,
the yearning heart that will never know what
it yearns for beyond the fact that attainment
is not the answer. Getting what one wants

becomes as invisible as the air standing still.
Without the moth, without the dance there is
no sunlight, no recognition of what is buried
in the air between you and the ceiling.

The limitless sky, blue into forever, conceals desire,
fulfillment, wanting, attainment, the moth, the invisible light.
After you are gone, there will be no
other you, no shadow of you, no container

of the yearnings, the dreams, the painful memories.
There will be nothingness, as there is now
from wanting, lack of wanting, attainment and failure.
The nothingness that is everything slowly becomes invisible.

The everything that is nothingness slowly becomes visible.



My computer screen is as blue as I
wish the sky were today, as blue as
it was yesterday and the blue day before.

My moods are as susceptible to change as
the weather, daily, hourly, at times, minute by
minute, grey, then blue, then blue grey, blue

as a cloudless sky, blue as a heart
devastated by a fire swept desert: animals, Joshua
trees, tumbleweed all burnt by the fire’s fury.

In places, ignoring human habitations, it stripped land,
Rimrock land, Robin’s land, Max’s land. Their birds
and dog are safe, their hearts bluer than

the computer screen or the blue sky of
a cloudless perfect day. A way of life,
a wall of fire, the wind, fatal change.

The fire took the spirit, left the bones
black, littering the land. Not a sound after
its roar snatched the blue, turned it orange.

The sun set orange and they were somewhere
else, answering the phone from an empty house,
a cloudless, perfect sky, blue-black hearts, sorrow.



I feel like doing something, but what? No
idea what to do. No poems bubbling up.
I have walked, exercised, eaten, poulticed, now what?

I’m like a reservoir that has been drained,
scrubbed, ready to be refilled. The water seeps
back slowly, fresh, clear, but apparently there’s no

Koi swimming in it. I miss the flashes
of gold, the golden fish, the gaping mouths.
I remember seeing Koi in San Jose -- in a

park garden -- I think. But I don’t remember
if that was the first time. Some place
Koi swam in artificial narrow, curving rivers cut

into a marble floor. Was that in a
restaurant? A hotel? Some public place with palms?
As my past comes back to me in

flashes, I am repeatedly astonished at how many
places I have been, how many things I
have seen -- and all as if in a

trance. As the images flash like Koi through
the water, my mind grasps, but everything is
too quick, to supple, it’s like trying to

grasp transparent smoke. Again the image -- the knowledge
of sun streaks existing between the window and
the wall where the tree shadows dance, made

visible only by the dancing bug, circling, circling
in and out of the morning light -- is
like memories now perceived to exist at the

bottom of the pond, emptied, refilling, but still
its meaning elusive. At the greenhouse, when I
asked about the missing pads, the shallow, thorny

giant pads usually in the tank near the
entrance, Paul said the Koi had eaten them.
The Koi were missing, too, but Paul assured
me they were there in the dark water.



Without my glasses, I see the world as
an Impressionist painting, the world becomes as beautiful
and fuzzy as my untrained mind. I am

convinced (by Bates) that the day my mind
clears, my vision will also clear. Maybe never,
but maybe one day -- especially if I work

at it via total relaxation into the confidence
that all is as sparkling clear as Hamilton
Pool , that blue crystal jewel feeding the Perdernales.

Worth trying. Meanwhile, the world is gentle, sparkling,
more radiant than reality. By now I’m used
to it. What more needs to be seen?

Perhaps for too long I have seen the
world too clearly, not enough left to mystery
in the shadows, Koi darting in the depths.



What do I do with all this bundle
of feelings and memories, musings and remarkable terrors,
bits of joy and horrors of unsought knowledge?

Like the giant mountain of sticks on a
peasant’s back -- do I just take them home,
burn them -- for a moment of temporary warmth?

Most things we do thousands of times in
a lifetime. We breathe, we eat and we
sleep. Next day we sleep, eat and breathe.

We walk, we run, we jump in a
vehicle and drive or ride or violently collide
and spill the gigantic twig bundles of others.

Brueghel painted pictures. Perhaps that’s more satisfactory than
trying to stroke up an image with words.
Words may be everything else in the world,*

but, in fact, they are nothing at all:
multitudinous bits, of pick-up sticks, twisted, fragile twigs,
blossomless, scentless, stick bits of nothing at all.

*"Words are everything else in the world." Roethke



(Later, on 10-26-06, I noticed that on exactly this day in 2004
I wrote a poem called The Heat, so this became The Heat II.)
The heat conjures the nostalgia, the poignancy of
being alive. Odd. For I am not dead --
yet. Why don’t I move? -- to the other
side of the mountains, to the other kind

of, extreme kind of weather, the heat that
I have always love, which has always inspired
me with love. Why do I force myself
to be satisfied with a few weeks, at

most, of hot hot Seattle weather? -- And even
that a somewhat new phenomenon. Why am I
so afraid of loneliness, a phenomenon I hardly
believe in. Or rather, I believe in it

enough, but it just is. For the most
part I have eliminated it as an influence
on my actions. I know, quite definitively from
over ten years ago, I shan’t ever die

of loneliness. I will simply get over it,
go right on. It will fade away, even
as the heat finally fades into a cool
breeze about dawn. It will give way to

some activity, some new interest, some new job,
necessity, wild cry of exhilaration in my heart --
as I find the right word to complete
the poem, the exact image to contain the heat.



It started long ago in my other life --
the ephemeral invading my real time. The ephemeral
memory, remembrance, time past, time, longing, gone, longing
-- the goneness of time invading my present time.

They were occasional, memorable, identifiable. Now, with the
slightest encouragement, the random images, the remembrances of
things past flash across my present, like star
showers (Perseids, Leonids) nightly or constantly, day and night.

For stars fall in the daytime, too. We
just can’t see them against the light, in
the light of the greater intensity of the
senses, those five senses that rhetorically dominate all.

But there is another sense that picks up
memory, that subsists on memory, that constantly tries
to turn memory into knowledge, remembered facts into
images, clusters, clusters into galaxies that mean something.

One is always trying to map the territory,
that phenomenal break like the boundary break between
the Permian and Triassic when there were living
things, animate things, memories. Then there were none --

map the quiet solitude of the present, the
calmed, serene, placidtude of the present where the
odd image, significant or insignificant, will suddenly flash
across the screen of consciousness, blotting out the

present like a lightening strike, like a flick
of the electric switch -- total darkness but brilliant
living momentary memory, memory of moments long gone,
buried beneath the shale. Things that I used

to do and do no more. People, places
things that I used to know and know
no more -- yet they manifest precisely, like Googled
images when the selecting key is pressed. Where

do they reside in the meantime? In the
great computer lockup that is the human brain? --
a storage facility that one carries around all
day long. Having for the most part, or

for long periods, lost the code, then one
day -- no fanfare -- I find myself within the
reality of the image, its significance palpable. Then
gone. The ephemeral dances, dominates and then disappears

-- into its lockup. One day it is gone
forever. “But that’s not poetry!” cries the Critic.
No, it is prose essays in short lines.
Too much like life?



I used to sense that no matter where
I stepped, I affected, I blessed everything, all.
I blessed the world, myself, I touched everything.
Every step was meaningful. If my footsteps weren't

there, something else would be. Nothing was ever
created, nothing ever destroyed. Then, for years. I
just became unconscious of this belief. Now, I
have lost the sense of it entirely. I

remember walking a street, walking away from the
ashram in Emeryville, and feeling this step-by-
step as a true, blessed phenomenon. I want
to feel that again, blessing and blessed, as

I walk. Odd how walking -- the knees, the
feet, the balance -- has been an on again,
off again problem for these many years, and
worse since I moved into my eyrie paradise.



I don’t feel the least suicidal anymore, I
just feel this (life) has gone on long
enough. All my time, my waking hours are
filled now with maintenance: making food, making my

bed, making poultices, checking my sores, my pulse,
temperature, blood pressure, taking pills. The old anxiety,
free floating anxiety has returned. Where has it
been for so long? It was startling to

see the sun yesterday, as I walked out
on the hot, black street after my afternoon
absorption in the Darger film. The sun, at
7 P.M., was still high, and as big

and brilliant as God, its spangled effulgence too
much for the human eye. The stunning atmosphere was
like that midsummer’s day at Stonehenge. My vision
was like the sound of a gong, the

roar of a thunder sheet. It was as
if my illuminated feet faltered 3 inches above
the pitch oozing, mended asphalt. The scintillating sun
was so intense I couldn’t breathe. Step by

step, one step in front of another, wading,
forcing my way through the sharp-as-a-
razor light, brought me to the library, the
icy wind of the air conditioning. I longed

to remain in the sounding street, overwhelmed by
the too bright, too hot reality, a killing
sun that must have resembled the sun that
showered the Moche prisoner, the Aztec sacrifice, the

condemned of the Incas. I have no desire
to go or stop, just this bone weary
feeling that it has gone on long enough.



I close my eyes under the cucumber slices
that soothe their smarting, and there is one
vast neutrality of darkness, the darkness and neutrality
of space, endless space. It is, it just

is. It is the universe, it is neutral
and active in its isness, and if one
parachutes in for a close-up it is made
up of billions and billions of fragments, fragments

and creatures, and bacteria, and nano particles, electrons,
right on down to nothingness, a vast neutrality,
like my own body housing millions and billions
of cells and animated functionaries, each amazingly and

uniquely beautiful in its own functionality, utility, composing
the universe of me, my consciousness, that fits
as one of a quadrillion particles into the
vast neutrality of the universe which I visualize

beneath the cool of the cucumber. It is.
It just is. What does it mean? Why
nothing. Meaning is a human term, just like
something and nothing. What is is. Admire it.

And, as Shiva-purna the cat say, “Don’t even
think of petting me!” Treat the one vast
neutrality as neutral. Fingers, touching, is a human
construct. Keep away from human constructs. You’re human,

you know how bad they make you feel.
Later on, while he’s feeding or sleeping, you
can pet the cat. He’ll purr, nuzzle and
ask for more, then wake and bite you.



From my window, looking south, I can see
parts of two blocks, or maybe a block
and a half of north/south, tree-enclosed
city street. South of the half block is

one of the busiest streets in Seattle, North
45th. One can see a truck, a car,
a bus, another truck, a red car, a
blue car, another red car, two cars of

neutral shade, some going east some going west.
They appear and disappear from tree foliage to
tree foliage, I look from on high, from
my nunnery crowning Wallingford hill. Am I dumb

enough or omniscient enough to think I’ll ever
discern their meaning, or understand their pattern by
lifting each of those vehicles and looking at
their bottoms, their motors (hearts), their drivers (brains)?



Childhood is an evil
Learning what one will spend
The rest of one’s life unlearning.

I become more and more convinced
Everyday that when I was young
I lived in a different dimenson.



Last night, playing a jigsaw puzzle,
I was relieved of the burden
of wanting, for 65 years (at
least) to write a novel(s). I
finally understood that what I really
wanted was a remedy, a soothing

balm -- something to ease the hurt
of living. I’ve never been interested
in studying human nature -- a total
loss as far as I am
concerned. What I wanted was something
to ease the pain. Which, of

course, novel writing didn’t do. They,
all six novels, draft after draft,
draft, draft, draft, did nothing for
my anguish. And now, with nothing
left but “now and death,”* I
understand. Now that desire has dropped

away (and the hurt) -- leaving me
tons lighter, gossamer, like truth, almost
transparent, like neutrality -- does a feather
feel? Does a whisper ache? Do
words, even coagulating words, swell with
remorse? Where has my anguish gone?

And the poetry? What is that
for? In a way, I don’t
even consider it mine. I sit
at my computer, open the sluice
gate and, with nary a thought,
out it pours. Where does it

come from? What does it serve?
I have no idea. Now that
I look like an old Buddha,
turning to yellow, to a color
somewhere between a pat of butter
and a carrot, perhaps I’ll find

out. Where does it come from?
What does it serve? Is it
in itself a channel to lessen
the hurt? -- the hurt is about
gone. Now -- had I the desire --
to explore human nature, at least

I can think about it without
dying of the pain. The poetry
was never painful. It did whatever
poetry does without bothering me much.
It just happens. C’est la vie.
Now that I no longer need

to concern myself with prose, novels,
expressing my thoughts (none) about human
nature, what will I do? Hmmm?
Interesting. Interesting, too -- this is the
61st anniversary of the bomb dropping --
the first atom bombs dropping on

Hiroshima, Nagasaki.

*A Carthusian expression from “An Infinity of Little Hours,” Nancy Klein Maguire



Ha! I got up this morning,
put on my yoga costume and
got sunshine all over my black

pants. What’s a girl to do? Ha!

Bleed black? Bleed yellow? Or bleed
all over my black pants pretending
sunshine doesn’t matter. But we know

it does, turning the black pants transcendent white.

Ha! Will I go to bed
tonight with black pants or white?
Will I, by then, care? Or

sunshine failing, what color will the dark be tonight?



I wake up every morning looking
as if I’ve had a quarrel
with God. My eyelids are swollen
and droop, with double bags beneath.

My face is heavier, with a
touch of jowliness. Where this all
came from, I don’t know. But
it came upon me just about

the time I kicked the thyroid
pill habit. I thought it was
something I was taking, one of
those endless pills even the well

meaning naturopaths are always recommending. But
maybe not, maybe it is that
something I’m not taking. Or, who
knows, maybe I do have a

match with God every night. Maybe
that is why -- what sleep is.


Poems #55 through #75



which starts with this note from my NEW START (AGAIN) Notes of 08-14-06, 8:45 a.m. Feel very light and good after doing the slowest possible yoga. Ready to start on a new project named PILGRIMAGE -- i.e. poems about all the places I can remember where I have done (a) pilgrimage starting with the Mission somewhere out south and east of Los Angeles -- that I visited many years ago.


SAN ANTONIO DE PALA (meaning "Protector") MISSION (Asistencia)


I can remember driving south and east, I
believe, to discover one more of the missions --
this one not famous, not on the regular
charts or maps of California missions. In fact,
it was just a “working church” founded as
a mission. What was its name? I have
the feeling it began with a Z or
maybe a W. Surely I’ll find it on

a map or through some other work of
reference. It was in somewhat hilly country scattered
over with scrubby brush, big stones, little stones
-- perhaps not an attractive landscape to others, but
I loved its very remoteness, its unadored-by-
our-civilization quality -- even as far back as
1970-something. Even then no one I knew
ever wanted to accompany me on my explorations

-- before I knew to call them pilgrimages. I
was interested in the missions then, but knew
little about them. The drive here to see
the Pala Mission was partly just a desire
to see all the missions. (I never did.)
I fell in love with the rocky landscape,
the tuffs of wild grass but (intensions not
withstanding) never came back. Maybe there were tumbleweeds

blowing across the highway -- they often did in
places I drove to alone. They tumbled like
notes of love through my life which, later,
I could liken to a pakar in Indian
music, that group of notes forming the signature
phrase that captures “the heart of the raga”*
-- unmistakable to anyone who studies (deeply) into North
Indian Classical music. I didn’t do that either.

But I could recognize Mārwā, which Khansahib and
Swapanji played often -- characterize by a sad, minor,
dirge-like chalan: (low shuddh Ni, low shuddh
Dha, komal re, madhya Sa) -- difficult to play,
but somehow a favorite with all of us
-- musician and audience alike. Mārwā. I must look
it up and tell you more about it.*
Or, no doubt, by now, Google will perform

this service for me, while I go back
to peering though all the over-lying memories
of visiting that primitive countryside, the church set
among the stones, no evidence of a town
nearby, as I recall, but still a working
church. “...for the peasants...” one might say in
Europe. But here? Who was it for? People
like me who made solitary pilgrimages, trying to

relive (at least in the mind’s eye) what
it had been like to stop here, just
here -- with the wagons and the horses, possibly
still a large escort of soldiers -- to say:
“Here we will build a church -- and this...”
(with a sweeping gesture of the arm or
the imagination) “...all this will be the mission.”
“Gardens, fruit, flowers. God's blessings for the savages."

"It will flourish,” the captain or the padre
might have added. But it never did. Except
in so far as it was still here
to be sought out by a wandering 20th
century pilgrim interested in silence and solitude, mystified
-- Oh so mystified! -- by: What is life? What
am I looking for way out here? And
why? a lonely seeker after who knew what?

*Mārwā, p.194, The Classical Music of North India, Ali Akbar Khan, Volume 1




From Possession to Space to Emptiness. On Charles
Street, probably in the ‘70s of last century,
I looked at a house in Beverly Hills.
For some reason, Charles Street and other streets

one block south, I believe, from Wilshire Boulevard
were, at that time, inexpensive, somehow not quite
fashionable -- so its houses were affordable even to
me, the budding executive. But I was appalled

at the amount of space I would have
to fill with furniture. High ceilings, huge rooms
lots of them! -- an auxiliary cottage. What was
I to do? Even then I owned almost

nothing -- but then it was a fault, not
an unattainable, desired goal. Or, I’d have to
learn to be a landlord, deal with renters,
fix things. So I turned down what I

knew even so was a “good deal.” Appalled
at empty space? What a concept! -- I think
now -- that privilege of hugeness and emptiness. O,
to drop in a few pillows, some rugs

and wallow in nothingness. Maybe keep all the
possessions I have in the cottage. It was
a lovely house. But even then, every time
George took me furniture shopping for my little

rented house off Mulholland, I’d come home with
only one more plant. One night, sitting on
the floor in his suit, propped against my
living room bed, he said: “You’re never going

to buy any furniture. Just get a nice
load of clean dirt emptied in here and
a few logs.” He knew me better than
I knew myself. I never bought any furniture.

I did buy a couple of chairs (and
acquired a coffee table) for my office, which --
big, laid back, awkward to rise from, leather
and wood, sling chairs -- I soon gave away.

For my house I bought rugs from Cleve,
old, Oriental carpets -- and I’ve kept them -- as
well as a few piece of Chinese Household
Furniture along with the Kates book to read

about them. The chairs were so upright and
austere, that Cleve, the seller of these moderately
priced antiques suggested that my visitors “either have
to bed the hostess or go home.” Needless

to say, I never got pregnant -- except with
the knowledge that it was space and nothingness
I wanted more than any thing in this
world. I have that now, up in my

eyrie: the morning sunshine -- occasionally -- (this, after all,
is Seattle) with gracefully moving shadows on naked,
white walls, and still too much stuff -- though
it’s mostly just papers and books. Too many

books! Too many papers! And my Shiva-purna
cat. If I’d bought the Charles Street house,
I’d have millions today. That is, if I’d
been able to stay, if I hadn’t gone

mad or suicided out of that life, if
I hadn’t become who I am, I’d have
all that space and light and I could,
by now, have it filled with Emptiness. So

where would I put all that money? Stack
it in the corners? Under the rug? Beneath
the big logs in the living room? Or
store it in the cottage with the furniture?




Flowers are plants we cultivate and cherish. Weeds
may be the same plants rejected and neglected.
My Aunt is a bit of a crackpot.
She has difficulty believing that her words mean
anything at all. She utters. No one listens.

She utters something a little more inane. No
one pays any attention. Then the world over
reacts and sends her on a two hundred
mile ambulance ride, for merely asking her caregiver
to help her count out her pills for suicide.

Why shouldn’t she expect some help someplace, some
auditory attention? But people stopped listening to people
years ago -- except if you’re a politician or
unfortunate enough to have media pass by within
earshot when you utter your harmless, unintentional nonsense.

“Extinction is normal. Species do not last forever.”*
We are all lonely for a little attention,
and a little chaos doesn’t hurt either
A little pixie’s grin worth of shocking up
a hurricane of startled, too late cautionary, preventive

reaction, and there she sits in its eye.
Who else hasn’t dreamt of doing such in
our gone-mad world of inane, terrifyingly insane,
terrorist-must-be-captured mode which has imprisoned
the world, our minds, our hearts, our gardens?

Cultivate weeds assiduously enough and they’ll indulge in
signage, intellectual glorification, while Auntie, passing through screening
clean, will ask the screeners if it really
is okay to carry on the butcher knife
set for her daughter in her hand luggage.

*When Life Nearly Died, Michael J. Benton, p.135



for Diana

Have all the love you want to when
you’re young. Get a belly full of it,
over indulge, dramatize, expend your lust and your

strength, wither in shame and grief, cry all
night and sometimes through the days as well.
And then know other and better things are

to come. Beyond love, the world begins. It
becomes interesting, full of curious things, the fathomless
ocean of the interior, deepness of timelessness, infinity.

Are we just the backward smearing* of some
mass extinction event? -- already gone but unaware of
it? Or perhaps a forward smearing already ordained

-- by who? Perhaps we do not mark any
real event. After all our 2 million, maybe
more, maybe less, years isn’t even a snap

of fingers in geological time. Wouldn’t that be
the joke of all time -- if we didn’t
even show up -- as, for instance, the history

of India by Indians contains no contemporary mention
of Alexander -- our Western “world” conqueror. They didn’t
even know or note he was there and,

obviously, couldn’t have cared less. Yet think of
the to do we make of it in
Western History: Alexander “conquered the world” -- oops, whose

world? in whose opinion? when? We will never
find the last surviving member of a particular
species -- nor the first. Therefore, who sleeps with

whom, as McKenna** suggests, may mean something to
thee and me, regarding the channel of our
potential, potently perceived, petty human power, but nothing,

perhaps less than nothing, to the evolutionary goddesses --
striding the earth, swishing their skirts back and
forth, back and forth, to sweep, to clean,

to be amused by the barren landscape before
they, too, may be subjected to smearing, to
an illusion of being, the result of worm-like,

shrimp-like churnings of the human imagination -- who, it’s
likely, have never existed at all. How can
you tell that you exist? Just because you

walk and talk? -- doesn’t prove much. Because you
have such intense feelings of love and grief.
It all proves what? Nothing? Nothing at all?

The earth may be in the process of
forgetting us now. Just now. We find new,
unexpected fossils all the time. Won’t it be

a surprise -- that tiny extinction level -- where homo
sapien fossils turn up for some future consciousness --
where we’re fairly certain to be tossed in

with the pilgrimage of the monkeys or the
land-creeping fish, one, at least, of whom
got here 375,000,000*** years ago with legs, wrists,
jaws and some discernible determination. C’est la vie.

*When Life Nearly Died, Michael J. Benton, p.174
**The Archaic Revival, Terence McKenna
***Sisu II, JH 2006 Poems #28, 04-19-06




Aldona -- angular as an Indonesian Shadow
Puppet, ornate, beautiful, with strange, stringy
hair, a little jerky, just enough
to set off her all but
flawless beauty -- mourns for a lack
of love in her life, for

the regular boy/girl, man/woman
love -- that cultural artifact the movies
hawk, that man-made fantasy that
it is the goal, life’s raison
She’s fallen for it: strings,
joints, limbs, patterned painted clothes -- even

though she can draw like an
angel, paint like a master, perceive
like a genius. She made me
a blue glass ball, with a
blue exotic, luminous flower etched within.
A self portrait, I perceived, an

exquisite butterfly confined in a spherical
prison. Fabulous from the outside, but
from the inside...? Solid glass. Flat
on the bottom. Blue. O, Aldona,
your beauty must make God weep.
But nothing changes his mind! Humans?

Let them suffer. Let them invent
feelings. Suffer for them. Just one
young man was worthy of Aldona,
but he wandered off to Taiwan
and never returned. Witty, handsome, intelligent,
he proved himself an intriguing shadow

puppet. No trace of him ever
found. His story thus far more
romantic than he was. Poof! -- gone
forever. Even so, he wasn’t right
for Aldona. He wasn’t free. He
was her best friend’s boyfirend. She

could be friends but nothing else,
and he, as destiny beckoned, walked
right off earth’s Eastern edge. Aldona
returned to Europe. I am here,
the observer of beauty, I listen
to the gamelan -- watching, waiting, singing.




It’s hard to believe that I, too, once
lived over the flamboyant fuchsia arch of a
bougainvillaea in a coffin-sized room with a
balcony just off a dharma hall, listening to
the moktak in the morning sunlight, touched by
the smell of hot tar wafting from beneath
my rescued bamboo mats, my plants. I read
the word bougainvillaea -- which I used to know

how to spell -- and feel its scarlet, rose,
Mediterranean glow suffuse my heart, feel the heat
of the Angel’s City ride my veins once
more in vain. It’s in books I live.

In their words I see memories, watch my
flowers-from-the-streets thrive, wear robes of
grey, do 108 bows, walk four miles to
law school, flirt with A.M., knowledge, Constitutional Law,
work for the gift of his gray Honda,
do masterpieces of instant “installations” that only he
and I share, hoot with wild laughter at,
in the 6,000 square foot space where we

sort, on a naked floor, with one architect’s
table, a lamp, a high stool, his myriad
documents for archiving, a space where film-women
sat on five little ladders circling a gigantic

glass ball, to discuss a Peace Pilgrim film,
before I drove off to the organic farm
in a box canyon along New Mexico’s Gila,
where I stitched the Kalachakra’s, All Powerful Ten
Symbol, before I knew each brilliant colored strand
had meaning, before I knew it was Lentza
script, before I knew it would send reverberations
throughout my life, like the powerful sound waves

of the eight foot high bell I had
rung at 3:00 in the dawn at Su
Dok Sah. Do you want me to stop
and explain these references or just go on

riding the blue crests of remembering? The pilgrimage
of my life took place under many a
bougainvillaea arch climbing golden stucco, ancient or log-
built hall today and in the 9th Century.
How do you explain the intricacies of reality,
smooth them out to sit in the regulated
seats of grammar and chronology? Nothing was pre-planned,
all was inevitable, all now forgotten in the

bog of time, until recovered by that word,
“bougainvillaea,” in a modern “Edwardian” novel, too intricate
for my fading mind to comprehend as I
proceeded, page by page, perpetually losing, like a

snail, the comprehension of my silver trail as
instantly as conceived -- like the snail trail chain-
stitched on the rug each night in the
emptiness of the pushed-back-furniture house of
my temporary Alzheimer’s charge. Go on your pilgrimage,
child, balance on the keystone of the arch.
Consider the temples of India, stone and austere,
with sumptuous, intricate designs against the temples of

Korea, with colored saplings for ridge poles. Had
I the courage to leave my northern eyrie,
the heat of the Angel’s City could suffuse
my bones once more with hot reality. But

my flesh is cold, my head throbbing with
the coffee it craves to keep the memory,
the passion alive. Bougainvillea, perhaps civilization was built
on Bougainvillaea -- perhaps Google will tell me where
it came from (Brazil), who found it (Louis
Antoine de Bougainville), when (1760), who nurtured it,
who bred it into a heart-holding pattern
of the south, romance, my life that could

have been. Once was. Both now disappearing in
the cool gray morning of the rest of
my life. It isn’t even the blossoms we
admire so much, it is the scarlet bracts.



for Richard Brown

As an old woman, I have to ask:
What is beauty for? -- vast acres and acres
of sun-kissed woods, green fields, bird song,
large, serene, trumpeter swans, that don’t trumpet often,
the almost concealed ocean, a Japanese rock garden.

After walking across autumn meadows, through mossy woods,
what remains in the memory, the heart?
Apparently that which remained in the hearts of
the creators. Our guide, the director of what
is no longer a private garden but a
Reserve, said, as we gazed, near the end
of our visit, on a reflection pool: This
is where the creators came each evening, to
walk, to sit, to be -- near the north

edge of a black rectangle, 200 feet long,
28 feet wide. Nothing more. The water lies
10 inches below the tuft of the lawn.
It needs to be changed now, but there’s
no hurry, for once cleaned, the alders must
to be ready to drop their leaves, so
that tannins, from the leaves’ decay, by turning
the water black, will assure the diamond precision
of reflections. Water too clear causes weak reflections.

Along each side of the pool, enclosed by
a wall-like hedge, there is a 16
foot margin of pristine grass; at the north
end, there is a wood bench and, in
the twilight, the black green of the grass
as well. There is stasis, silence, the stillness
of enchantment. Beauty, serenity and, if you stand
in the right place, sky high trees, sky,
deep and black, in the pool’s depth. Silence.

After thirty years of creating the beauty
of the curving walks, the wood-softened paths,
the bridges, the almost hidden roads, the bird
sanctuary, the swans’ ponds, the rolling fields that,
in their naked greenness, remind one of crops,
abundance, of a descent into grandeur and paradise,
it was the silence, the blackness, the bleakness,
the at-strange-angles reflections of the unmoving,
unwhispering trees, beneath which the Bloedels liked to

sit at sunset, twilight, into the evening, watching
the muted, noiseless, faltering, slowly, softly fading light.
Again, an old woman asks: What is beauty
for? The silence, the awareness, the peace, vast
black-mirroredness in green lawn reflecting the sky,
reflecting human thought, reflecting tomorrow’s moments, still blank
and, if standing very still, breathless, while the wind
doesn’t move, the steady gaze of the black
pool’s surface will silently, eventually, steadfastly reflect eternity.





Be ware when you begin to enjoy having nothing,
no beauty, no hope, no love, no reason
and want even less.
“nasmi na me nabam”
“I am not, nothing is mine, not I,” *
says beautiful Prakriti to Purusha becoming indistinguishable from him.

*Dancing With Prakriti,” Alfred Collins, p. 62 in “Is The Goddess A Feminist?” Hiltebeitel & Erndl


In this past year by mind has fallen wide
open like a jaw, a shark’s jaw or
better still, a whale’s
jaw: huge, gaping, capable
of swallowing anything, everything. The capacity of my
ignorance is enormous, I know nothing. Rather, I know

a lot. But I sit in class and they
seem to be talking about subjects at a
different level, with understanding
I can only guess
at. I think they might be attending secret
lectures to which I am not invited, or there’s

a page or two missing in my syllabus** -- or
maybe just the thread, that Ariadne thread that
leads one out of
the maze. Somehow, it
got pulled, like that black thing on a
shrimp, and discarded along with the shell, and there

I am, threadless and clueless. For sure, my shell
is gone. I once thought I knew something,
but no more, nothing.
I have nothing to
contribute anymore but silence. My mind thinks I
am kidding as I write that -- but, oh no!

I feel such an outsider -- like Marie said on
Wednesday. At 82 she feels herself an outsider,
but from my pov
she is all but
inside the loop. It is I who am
way off there in the distance, mouth agape at

all I don’t know, at all the connections I
haven’t woven together. Everyone else is busy busy
stitching, and I’m off
here hoping just to
catch even a small glimmer of the pattern.
Nothing fits anywhere, including me, my mind, my body.

**A word that doesn’t/shouldn’t exist. See The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, Simon Winchester


The body comes in three parts: 1) the meat
on the street, 2) the lovely envelope 3)
the consciousness that is
me. 1) The meat
on the street is road kill. And, like
road kill, is all bloody, red, slimy with feces,

torn muscle, brains, bits of bone, muscle, liver -- all
spilled out. It looks nothing like me. How
does it fit into
2) which is often
contained in velvety skin, especially the young body.
It is like -- what? It is like nothing at

all: smooth, soft, sensuous, capable of being touched, of
gently touching all things. One can not quite
visualize how the guts
and blood and torn
ligaments fit into so much loveliness, or how
the loveliness persists even as the envelope wrinkles into

old leather and one begins to wish that all
would disappear and leave only 3) The real
me, the consciousness that
is me, the thinking,
feeling, observing, obsessing, cheerleader me, who is all
I can perceive from the inside. The meat and

the envelope seem not to matter to the real
me bounding about endlessly within the world and
within the body as
the one who sees.
Life’s job seems to be reconciling this tri-part
being into one single body being. Will I ever

understand how these blood vessels, like limp, repellant, discoloring
spaghetti constitute my love of thee -- or, more
importantly, my love of
putting words, putting the
words created in my third part (the part
of the third part that is the mind) on

paper, on a website, out in the air as
conversation, that the pumping redness that fits in
the palm of either
hand is all there
is to Life. All the images, all feeling,
within words from 60Hz to 12kHz or 45dB are

there, and will cease when the heart stops pumping.
When the venous and arterial bloods lie still,
stagnating coagulating, when eyelids
turn to stone, when
the million billion processes, molecules, synapses, named by
the mind cease functioning, become meat in the street.


Specks of daylight falling from still green autumn trees
are forced to obey gravity by the rain.
Last night I could
see, I could dwell
in, I could acknowledge all else, all others,
the world as consciousness and myself as a speck

within that -- right there, at the outer edge, which
is the present pushing toward eternity. All is
contained, all is growing.
It fits like a
skull cap, all is plain and in plain
sight and growing, with a jewel, right there at

the edge, which is me. I know, though I
cannot see, that there are also countless others
shimmering, sharing in consciousness
and it doesn’t matter
what we do. We are. We are, as
is the lava of the flood basalts that helped

to destroy all but everything in the Permian Extinction
250,000,000 years ago, 90% of all living things,
kaput, and we’re on
a speedway course now
to complete that extinction, all things combining, humans
and weather and fecundity and just-don’t-give-a-

damnedness. It will no doubt take another couple of
million years, to absolutely complete this extinction, but
it’s likely to be
complete. Right now, already
it is irreversible. And whatever is there to
see it, will see the earth, bald and bubbling,

again free of life. The poles have, or maybe
will, switch again and again. Perhaps create a
rhythm. But it won’t
make any more difference
than this alignment from left to right or
right to left or top to bottom. It is

there. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn’t. What
does the pole star mean? What does light
from the moon mean?
Or the sun? What
do words saved or words destroyed mean? We
wander through the woods, the tangle of our minds,

and come to another place of beauty. Where is
it? And does it mean anything at all?
Who is to say?




Edges and Gateways is the name of a Contest,
which Vikram implied I couldn’t apply to because
I was neither a student nor an architect.
We laughed! Nonetheless it seems to have lodged
itself in my brain and seems to fitly
describe some peculiar sensations I am having just

now. As if I were being followed, as
if, if I turned fast or too slowly,
I will see the other world behind wrought
iron rods, fall off an edge into something
. I get just a ghost of a
hint. Then the earth swings back to normal.

But the instant surprise, momentary glimpse, the where-
does-that-go? fits in with the odd
sounds, small noises I hear and have never
heard before in this hundred year old nunnery
-- like the tick tick ticking of snow against
window panes or the splashier sound of rain

leaking in or little buzzes or whines which,
at first, I thought of as Mary sawing
or a vacuum cleaner. But the whine whine
whine turned out to be Julia at her
Qui-Zen-Art. Late in the night she
leaves salty cookies at my door. Sounds like

tiny running feet inhabit the walls, but only
two, not the four of a mouse or
rat. Are the bats back? Do the ladybugs
make a tic-tic-ticing as they walk
across, around, above the multi-paned stairway windows?
Are we so high that they’ve mistaken our

plain walls -- even though not curved nor white --
for an astronomical observatory? Have you ever seen
the ladybugs at Kit Peak or MacDonald or
any observatory, for that matter, piled fifty inches
deep, corpses and dying, piled against the exterior,
curving, white walls willingly leaving this life via

a fatal mass attraction. Did they see around
the edge? Or through the gateway? Have etymologists
and astronomers made a pact to share their
field notes? You never saw so many bugs
as inhabit an astronomical mountain, like Wilson or
what’s the name of that one in Flagstaff? --

old fashioned, with a spiraling wooden staircase leading
to the sky. I don’t disbelieve in ghosts,
but I don’t exactly believe in them either.
I have lived in the nunnery for four
years and never heard these sounds before. Did
the nuns make a pact to return and

celebrate the hundredth year? Or are they just
now waking to gather the last of their
habits and flee? One wonders. It was silent
before. Cats pad about, I pad about. Artists
and the curious wander in and about. No
one knows which questions to ask. But over

one’s shoulder from time to time there seems to
be an entrance to eternity. I am tempted
to step through. Maybe that’s why it’s always
just a glimpse, a slight of hand, a
not-meant-to-be-inviting temptation. At times
I think I will die by the hungry

hands of greedy curiosity. Bill talks of dreamtime --
the Aboriginal dreamtime. He leads us in yoga
and wanders down strange thoughts to tell us
that dreamtime may be more important than time
we spend awake. I never, until this morning,
thought of dream time as sleep, as dreams

in sleep. But, at this age, I see
the Aborigines may have been happy, like cats,
to sleep most of their life, lie about, especially
with a full belly, and dream. More fun
surely, though maybe not as exhilarating, than chasing
down that kangaroo to have the full belly

on which to sleep. So maybe the Aborigines
and I are thinking the same thing as
I now realize that sleep -- and its bookends,
hypnagogic states in the early evening and in
the early morning -- has become my favorite activity.
Half awake I know a lot of things.




Who knew -- standing in the kitchen of my Seattle
nunnery, who knows how many years later, while peeling

funny potatoes from Susan's garden -- my memory would suddenly
flash-up waiting at some slip for the ferry

to cross some river. My bones feel it was
here in Washington. But where? The Columbia? The river’s

memory doesn’t feel that wide. Some quaint, hilly-near-
the-river town -- where? The ferry winches, pilings, dock,

are rough, hand-hewn, somewhat jerry-rigged by our
modern slick standards of steel and glass -- but charming

in their blackened age. Where was it? Will I
ever know? Even if I were to know, will

I know I know? Between memory’s slippage and the
overflowing storage of years and years of attentionless accumulation,

who knows where it picked up its flotsam, jetsam,
and treasures. And Julia, of course, she’s there again,

standing -- not on the slip, not near the river,
not on a boat. Why does she spend so

much time in my memory? I’m sure, I am
very little in hers. And there are the Mima

Mounds, where she never was, fanning out next to,
beyond her insouciant figure, naked, weedy, on the overcast

day of some geology field trip from which I
still possess seeds -- of what? The edible, onion-like,
portion of the small, delicate lilies the Indians ate.




Bearing the psychological beating of dying friends, relatives,
enemies, the crippling of hands, feet, attitude, mind,
our faculties diminish, step by step, in a
slow, not stately descent toward the grave.
I would not pause or stop now, but my
body, familiar with living, hesitates, refuses to die.

As it turns back, Change remarks: “I’ve seen
you before,” and beckons mutation, decay. God arranges
an accident, meat in the street, death. Recycle
today. The molecules whiz, materialize elsewhere, enjoy
zoological immortality, the "I" enjoys delicious
sleep, wakes to new pilgrimage.

Copyright © 2006 through 2015 Jan Haag
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:



33 -- Accounted For -- 9:53 A.M., 06-03-06

34 -- Accounted For II -- 11:33 A.M. 06-03-06

62 -- Aldona II or III, 09-26/11-12/14-06

32 -- Bemused, 05-17/18/29-6-19-06

60 -- Beyond The Meaninglessness Of Love, 09-16/17/19-06

66 -- The Bloedel Reserve, 10-11/12/13/14/15-06

16 -- Censure, 03-16-06

51 -- Civilized Childhood, 08-04/05-06

09 -- Constance, 03-12-06

67 -- Day After Day Ater Day, 10-12/13/14/15/16/17-06

39 -- Die, 07-15-06

31 -- Each Morning, 05-16/06-20-06

71 -- Edges and Gateways. 11-03/04-06

35 -- Ellen's House, 07-09-06

37 -- Enlightenment, 07-11-06

48 -- Enough, 07-25-06

46 -- The Ephemeral, 07-24-06

13 -- Everything Is Different Now, 03-14-06

53 -- Exclamation, 08-07-06

52 -- Explosion, 08-06-06

16 -- Fait Accompli, 03-16-06

42 -- Feeling My Way, 07-19-06

15 -- Goat Getting, 03-16-06

45 -- The Heat II, 07-24-06

10 -- Heavenly Play Pen, 03-12-06

21 -- Immortal Poem, 03-27-06

16 -- Invitation, 03-16-06

18 -- I Wonder, 03-19-06/02-07-07

20 -- John, 03-21-06/02-08-07

38 -- King William, 07-13-06

05 -- The Last of the Raj, 02-08/07-27-06

19 -- Lilac and Melissa, 03-20-06/02-07/08-07

01 -- Mohenjodaro, 01-12/02-16-06

14 -- More Gifts, 03-14-06

08 -- New Poem, 03-12-06

03 -- Noon, 01-17-06

59 -- Now That You Have My Attention, 09-06/15/16/18-06

49 -- One Vast Neutrality, 07-26-06

06 -- The Other Darwin, 02-15/07-27/28-06

55 to 75 -- THE PILGRIMAGE POEMS, 08-14-06 to 00-00-06

58 -- Progression, 08-28/09-04/05/06-06

44 -- Question, 07-21-06

02 -- Red Desert, 01-12-06

41 -- Rimrock Fire, 07-17-06

55 -- SAN ANTONIO DE PALA (meaning "Protector") MISSION (Asistencia), 08-14/15/16/17-06

11 -- Short Term Memory Loss, 03-13-06

54 -- Sleep, 08-13-06

36 -- Spaghetti Dinner, 07-10/11-06

17 -- Sukhothai, Ayuttaya, 03-18-06/02-06-07

07 -- Too Many Factors, 03-06/031-06

40 -- Turning, 07-16-06

72 -- Two Trips And Julia, 11-05/06-06-06

50 -- View, 07-26-06

47 -- The Walk, 07-24/25-06

12 -- What Have I Learned It All For, 03-13/08-01-06

04 -- Wheel of Samsara, 01-26/07-27-06

43 -- Without My Glasses, 07-19-06







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