BY JAN HAAG
THE 2011 POEMS
NEW YEAR, NEW THOUGHTS
Because I have no friends,
Id like to go for electric-shock treatment.
Not that Ive not thought about this before
but never with the impulse to actually do it/
have it! Now, however, I feel good, even my knee is
healing. The only thing I lack is a clear and energetic mind.
Where am I going to find that? buy it? produce it? Its
not an invention, its a happening. One
day one wakes up, bounding about with happiness.
That is, the mind wakes up, bounds about with vigor,
energy. -- It just does! It works again,
it produces images and words and delights of thought,
activity. Why am I so without just now? --
Now, for several months, maybe even half a year,
gone just gone Come back! Come back! O comeback!
O energetic mind, lend me your hyperbole,
your need to speak, to write...to write
In company, yesterday, you were very
articulate -- talking with Anna -- really
listening, as well. Come! The computer
sits here, waiting for your words.
And I do to.
Refreshing to be out
in the night-frigid air
Am I switching from
cold to hot? Beginning to enjoy the cold?
I hear the hum of the newly active air
freshener and even feel it on my back. Pleasant
night. Silent night. Calming down. Tooth brushed
for the night -- and forgotten. Perhaps this is what
I have been pinching pennies for for years, to defray $1000
plus for a tooth, and I get the bonus of taking out the gold
tooth and putting in white, not porcelain anymore, but white
-- to enhance the right side of my smile. One dark tooth then all
white. It used to be white teeth, then one dark, one gold,
then white again. All things come to me
I prowl back and forth in the kitchen
-- looking for the next thing to do, I
walk, I peer, searching for usurpation.
Will I find it under the pot lid, on
the steps, coiled and ascending
to lights flickering blue? I seek
something marked: To do.
The morning washes on
slowly, silently, a sponge hits
the floor, a disk rattles. What to do?
What to do? Send me a messenger, God,
tell me what to do. Maybe even slaughter him
-- or her, depending on size and disposition. Let the
message appear in the sky as an angel, or at my feet, the
filth of this drifting world, weird planet, different than all
others. My lantern is dim, the grass under my feet and the dark
earth are hidden in the night. Whos to know where I go? Are my
steps, here in the dark, more? or less? important -- than the stroll of
the white astrobirds into the sky. Suddenly red-winged black birds fell
by the hundreds. No one knows why. A swarm of suicidal fish beached
themselves. Why.? From sound, they speculate. I act as ancient seer sent
to record the plagues that descend on us? Why? Because we dont speak truth,
so saith the Archangel Assange. God! help us to tell the truth! Stroll back and forth,
back and forth, back again in the soot blackened kitchen, shaping the lantern light into
a bell clapping
WANDERING THROUGH GLASS
As if I were living there,
it comes into my mind from nowhere,
the image of that trailer park, almost
all deserted, when I saw it. Embedded in
deep rich grass,
and someone telling me so and so
used to live here, a mutual acquaintance
a musician. In fact, a whole colony of
musicians from the Ali Akbar
College of Music.
Musicians lived here, camped out, ragged and shimmering silver and grass
in the sunshine, had a glorious romp, a time of laughter! But are now gone
and cant be found by my lantern light, nor by any light,
even the light of imagination.
And yet here it sits in my vision today,
the tall grass waving in the sunshine, the glint
off the still silver trailers, bits of trash about,
but not too many.
Deserted. Fittingly only lingering in my memory,
a memory that saw it for the first time
and only once, long after the musicians
of mismatched socks
had departed., long after I have departed
from the almost perpetual sunshine of Marin County
to the gloom beside the mountain, gleaming, at this moment,
white with snow, Mount Rainier -- the live volcano that
lives in my vision
-- from this nunnery to my old school -- also a nunnery;
its dome bright with lights in the dark, slowly being
swallowed by the burgeoning, global warming, growth
of greenery between here and there.
Should I go live with Aldona in Poland in a village surrounded
with green grass and write poems about flowers, be at peace, smile
in the mornings and at night? Where do I move on from here? I who
to this earth to wander.
Long ago my mother said I expected to live live at too fast a pace.
It came from novel reading she said.
She said real life took place at a much slower pace.
Moderate your expectations.
Moderate your pace.
Watch the sun rise and set while you are at peace.
My movements in time and space are so changed
that I live in a topsy turvy world.
Nothing fits, nothing goes inside another thing
where it belongs and has gone for years.
Anger floods my brain, and I think my grape
juice and pectin is very like the white bread
and jelly I used to eat every afternoon
to achieve my headache.
But no headache now, now colossal anger.
I remember James.
I remember Toni.
Both angry not long before they died.
My models are always negative models.
Here I go for a positive walk in the morning chill.
I just dont see the point of going on anymore.
No poems to write, no trips to take, no
subjects of consuming
and no single person loved more than just
the the intermittent compassion
I feel for the whole human race,
and for the animals.
What we have done to the animals is enough
to break the human heart. Theyre not against
sharing the earth with us, but they are
helpless against our
greed and domination. Or, like Shiva-purna --
by imprisoning him here, fulfilling his desire for
endless easy food, I have deprived
him of his natural life.
By my endless desire for easy food I, too have,
destroyed my own life. To what end? I try
to think why my soul has flown, why I,
who have always
had a passion to do, find myself (not quite
suddenly) with no desire but to stay in my
warm bed, doing nothing. Not even reading,
my desire is to do nothing!
And, because I have the means, I do nothing.
My home, my studio enchants me still: the
view, the light. The world beyond -- especially
at night, with lights
gleaming through the rain -- is as dazzling as
the sky above, as the conjunction of Venus
and the crescent moon. But is it worth
to look at it, night after night? To do nothing
but look at the lights sprinkled across Lake Union,
the dazzle of their beauty, so pointless.
I am so pointless, I cant seem to get beyond
the pointlessness of being.
The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius.
the 10 minutes,
the while I write,
my interest to
word soars. The
writing of the word,
captures my attention,
the deep, way down,
around my lower bowels,
beneath my belly, desire to
make it right, to express it
accurately, to make these simple designs upon,
first the screen and then the paper, fills me with
a visceral delight.
Let it pour forth!
Let its bell
my heart. Writing grounds me. It has, it will? until the day I die?
Perhaps humans were made just to record the world -- for a little while --
long enough to muse about, long enough, ubiquitous enough, for those of us who wish
to study being, to study it before we disappear back into the molecular universe where all else
lives -- if not forever -- at least since the Big Bang on December 6, some fourteen billion years ago.
So the answer is: To Write On -- and on and on and on and on snatching the molecules from the air,
snatching the light (which I learned only yesterday, has a weight? a force? of its own) measurable,
quantifiable, capable of shoving one around. A signal, maybe, to move back to the desert,
the sunshine, get out of this gloom! As I type that same light from the weak
winter sunshine reaches my desk, my mind,
finishes my sentence.
And I see I have constructed a lamp,
a bell, a lamp, a stable earth!
a hollow me, as always --
waiting to be
The word genie in Engliash is derived from Latin genius
Then when I found the title: GENIE for #8,
I had to, having forgotten how to spell it, look it up on Wikipedia.
And there was such a wealth of information and delight, as
could last me (another) lifetime to compose.
(put an a href to this page in Wiki:
Called Ann, as I resurface, with this bit
of delight from my daily depression.
Never had a muse, never needed one,
but find I do need a responder
someone who reads and expresses
interest? pleasure? just acknowledgment,
perhaps a word of delight
(or a light critique)
that I wrote it.
Thats nearly my full definition
of needing people.
Otherwise, it gets too discouraging
just to write and drop it
into the void.
Even if someone just says: Ooops. you dropped a poem.
Just because I am suicidal, doesnt mean my kitten shouldnt have a few strokes.
Put on some lavender to amuse the molecules, jump out out of bed,
run a marathon or two around the bed, the building, maybe around this cosmos
or some other. Chant a few Oms, squander whatever life you have left,
put on an act for the stars, settle for nothing, or less, yawn, flex, go back to bed,
call Martin, call the stun, call the moon, call God, call the clean air,
go back to bed, relax and die. How dose anyone ever think up anything to do, I
surely cant. 77 years of doing. It seems quite enough for a down hill
struggle. Or is it an uphill swirl of boredom & delight. Enough already. Go, read
Oh my God, I must write a lovely poem for that!
A digital delight if there ever was one.
Or one could write
to discover that amazing date
back in the first century A D
before the computer
the DNA of the universe.
yet to come
into the collapse
DEXTERITY, THE LACK THEREOF
The most dreadful thing I find about old age
is losing my dexterity, my memory, my
registration of where things are in my universe.
Ive been living on automatic pilot so long
I forget to remember how blessed I have been
to do most things easily and with skill.
Now I fumble and bumble. I dont see things.
I knock things over. I get agitated when just
a few things more than one try to occupy my mind.
Enough already. Even typing -- especially typing --
has gone from being somewhat hesitant, a little
difficult with a certain amount of inaccuracies
to fumble fumble almost every minute with
the keys, with spellings, with facts, with
blank spaces in my mind.
I have been saying to people: Buddism, we are
taught in satsang, is about achieving Blank Mind.
But what I have found, is that you automatically achieve
Blank Mind with old age. Even Buddha would have
done well to have had a little more patience before
propounding the road to enlightement,
the achieving of it.
With old age it comes
ENOUGH FOR NOW
The wind howls around my turrets,
the rain-waves lash my windows,
the grey is ubiquitious
the heater hums
Its cold in here. Cold as my soul.
I died a Monday and my corpse
sits here, hips a
into the seat of composition, like
a chalice -- perhaps the chalice
that caught Christs...
it strikes me
as a terrible
I have scratched my eyelashes away,
my skin is powdery parchment.
Why is it that I dont live
in a grave? -- deep and
wide, where I can
toss in my yoga-
sleep until I
Enough for now.
Send an incremental bill to Saint
Peter -- juicy and firm enough to wake him
to the pervasive menace humanity has become,
to the sickness that now invades, tutors all living things.
s far as I can tell, we were meant to move automatically.
And when we lose that ability (Ive lost it at 77),
its time to exit the earth.
to slow down to the level of the savages -- who must have
enjoyed the earth tremendously -- with time to
watch the clouds, feel the rain,
appreciate, in full stride,
I ate a lot of tumeric yesterday
and, according to my shit,
my entire interior has turned bright orange.
Would that one could
turn ones self
Suddenly, sitting on the toilet, I feel a lot better.
But not so well when I get back to composing
poetry on the computer.
Apparently, its time to let all that shit out.
Enough already. At times I think we, all
us humans, are here just to,
like everything else on the earth, make shit:
some for the plants, some for the sky, a lot
for the oceans,
a lot for the seas, maximum for the lakes
a damming amount for the streams. An
for the galleries, the theatres, formed
of brick and excrement, beauty and
Remember all this:
elimination is buillt into the system,
only our (our human) judgement
renders it bad
or good. But the big perception is the
cycling: round and round nourish-
ment, feces, fe
fi fo fum. We could rest easy
and all will go on
nicely, unjudged, like
Fe fi fo fum.
FE FI FO FUM
Fe Fi Fo Fum, nothing to do but fiddle with my
I wonder how God(s) feel(s) sitting in Hi(s) heaven?
Much like this.
Nothing, it seems, will convince Him to intervene
with/in His most
renegade creation. Attention! God! Please! Now!
or we may return
to the Gorgon*, Dinosaur, the Sloth, the Dodo.
Nice Studies! But
replacements! for US? Please! God! Most of us
lack a sense of
Cosmic Humor. We begin to worry about
*Re: Gorgon -- for a href
Light fading for the day,
No more thoughts.
Have I run out of thoughts?
Is it possible?
If you counted each oleander blossom,
One by one,
Right up to infinity,
Would you ever reach the last of the
The middle of that California highway?
When one dies
Does the infinity of the human mind --
Able to generate, thoughts, images, words,
What have you --
Come to an
Like the fall of the last autumn leaf, does it mean
Only one more (slight) gap before
The awakening of springs
HOW MANY STEPS
How many steps are essential
to a concatenation
My new, old, old, perhaps even older,
black shoes are as close
to (this) human
ever reaching an encasement of perfection
(-- she says at 77 years.)
got to me via a neighbors discard, and,
having found them divinely
and checking out their manufacture
and, years later, unobtainable in the West,
I asked her where she got them.
At a yard sale, said she.
having been broken in at least once (maybe more)
and at least twice,
finding they fit like a glove to my foot,
I have began to wonder how many of these
concatenations were essential
to this achievement of
the perfect fit of a soft black shoe.
I try not to mind my infirmities.
(To do so, I think of Steve Jobs,
who invented you, my darlings -- all my favorite computers --
in-between his various breakdowns and illnesses.)
Talented people often have maladies:
good ones, bad ones, slight ones,
colossal ones, and a daily
right down to
the maladies, they come and
they go. Except! now, at 77+, they
have begun to occupy more and more
of my brain tissue -- and itch itch itch,
my body itches,
I like to think of myself as talented,
rather than ill. (Though illness has often fascinated me as well --
a too early reading, no doubt, of Thomas Mann.)
But I was shocked, really shocked last night,
trying, for the first time after five years,
to read TRIVIUM --
I transform all my friends and
enemies into Goddesses and Gods
(my other name is Durga)
and because of which I lost the friendship of Leonard --
by asking him to read and critique it. He never did.
And when I called him -- something I had never done before --
he never contacted me again.
I guess TRIVIUM only proved his already firm conviction
that I was not a novelist.
And after my reading
(my attempt to read) the first chapter
last night, he, too, attempting to read it, may have concluded
that, indeed, I was a bit
amazed at how
complex, wildly, dully unreadable it was.
I, too, would have run from it, at that time
had I received it in the
I am a little saner, or at least
sane enough to recognize that it is
all but a comprehensive cosmos of incoherence.
Cest la vie.
On the other hand I was not
sad to lose the relationship with
Leonard. For, as much as I had
admired him as a girl,
when I was in Pennsylvania and married to John,
I had got quite wearied over the years of our correspondence,
of his need (or my need) to make endless
He might have called it: Pulling out the best that was in me.
In later life I began to feel it was a rack on which I was
(more or less) being tortured. One must be tortured, goaded, prpdded
Western literary tradition, no matter
what the pain. And ultimately abandon if one is so
naive as to stick to the desire to express ones self.
It was as if I had let him set up housekeeping in my mind
and, when an opinion or observation was called for, I knew
it had to be pointed and brilliant, to, so to speak, fit into
the literary tradition. And, though I never really falsified my
opinion, or comment, it was always pushed.
I felt pushed,
as I did later
in Hollywood, to make thought-out, calculated,
clever, succinct comments (when I was asked)
-- even though I, for myself, seldom
(if ever) thought that way.
So that, instead of expressing what I thought,
it was always a designed or elaborated, pared down
or tarted up version of what I really thought -- for,
if truth were known, I didnt have many opinions.
But it seemed to be
the thing to do, the thing to have: -- Opinions! --
in Academia, in Hollywood, in the BIG world
that I only came to after
I was more or less fully formed --
after about 23. Before that,
as I recall,
no one ever asked for my opinions
(other than, of course, what I wanted for dinner).
Or, indeed, during the Hollywood and Academic years, my life was so filled with
trivial solicitations for opinions,
I forgot to cultivate so called important opinions,
except on life itself
-- judged perhaps excessive --
Therefore, I felt I had to shine up my casual, easily held positions.
breathily haaaa aaa aaa-ing
on such opinions
as I could muster up some passion (let alone interest),
polish them on my lapel
before I gave them over to colleagues.
Thus it seems I was aware of the milieu
I moved in from 23 until my leaving AFI at 49.
So: 26 years of planting myself,
fitting myself into the landscapes I thought
I wanted to grow in,
where, indeed, I became a sort of bonsai
-- rather than a mighty oak -- or a redwood -- or a banyan tree.
However, I did become a bit of a banyan
-- one of those that could cover acres --
later in my extended affair with India,
Indian philosophy, study, architecture.
And it is only now, in my Plain Jane Poems,
of last year and this,
that I try really dedicatedly, vigorously,
to excavate right down to where
Jan really is.
What on earth does she think? And perhaps
the bigger question:
Does she really think all that stuff that is in her
(probably by now)
I have now, learned to write without thinking!
to let the words write themselves.
Its only after I have printed out a poem that I read it for its meaning,
and then its on to the next one
when most of the ones begot before are already forgotten.
as Baba used to say.
It is truly as if I were reading the Akashic Records
I write along, the words appear,
I write them down and,
for the most part, try not to change them as they flow.
When I am finished,
I reread and correct a little -- trying to
make sure that what I have written makes sense,
-- I have no idea what I mean by that.
sounds good is maybe more accurate.
For though I have no conscious standard (or almost none)
I measure against, I do seem to have some idea of what I mean to say
-- and try to make sure it is well said.
I think of the people who have been turned off and
away by my writing,
or by my words,
though I am not outstandingly bold or outspoken.
I am always amazed when people dont seem to like me
as much as I like them, but I have also learned to
not care over these many years.
I think in particular of Tom Vs present live-in love.
When I first met her, I was enchanted with her,
and thought she was delighted with me.
But then there was no further contact
before, several years later, I heard she has spent those
years living with Tom.
How odd, I thought
that she has never contacted me,
nor has Tom ever mentioned he is living with her.
I am actually ecstatic that they found each other.
But I am also a little miffed that I have been
completely left out.
I have never found anyone on whose list I am absolutely #1.
Maybe I dont want to be?
THE HUMAN MIND
The human mind is the only thing one ever has that is truly ones own,
hideable, secret, one can lock it away and never use it, or display it in
a great flaunt before the world, divorce it as other, challenge it as ones
own. Cling to it as the fountain not only of youth but of life.
FIVE MORE YEARS
Five more years is gong to be plenty for me.
Might even be an excess, excessive, way beyond
the time needed or asked for
I was talking with the Dentist today, my old,
nice, reasonable dentist, and asking about how long
I might expect to need a full set of dentures.
He asked: How long do you expect (or want) to live?
Then he started at 25 years? I blanched and said Not that long.
20? Oh no. 15? No. Five at the outside.
He assure me that the whole mouthful might last that long.
(for there are already about 10 missing) -- which he thought in pretty good shape.
Ah so, the down down down lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm I feel today makes even
five seem far more than I can imagine for me to do the distance. Enough already. If I
could just quietly die in my sleep tonight. That would be utterly sufficient for me. As,
oddly enough, though I used to need the time to get some things done. Id just as soon
leave fate with that chore. Enough already. Five more years is enough.
I find I have enough energy left for
a minimum of housework: the dishes,
the counter tops, at times, the table tops,
the cats litter box, intermittently, the tub gets
a bicarb of soda wash whenever I do, the plants get
watered when they droop, the cat makes sure he gets
fed by meows, looks of intensity, and by an occasional tap
from a soft paw and an unsheathed claw reached out gently to
my passing foot. Other than that, my greatest desire is to lie in bed
all day long without eating -- now that my appetite has fled -- a minor
miracle. So the papers, the pencils, the books, the pamphlets, the keys, the
poems, the diatribes, the punch, the stapler, the tall blue, medallion decorated
slab vase with my spreading bouquet of naked twigs and small ginseng bottles, still
multiplying, enhanced by one long silver parallelogram of a lacy Indian earring, one
golden ball, two red silk roses, one smaller than the other -- this one retrieved at Margarets
storage space, where she in her ardor to organize before she went to Turkey piled everything
into boxes and thence into neat stacks, leaving only this small rather squashed red silk rose with
green leaves, in the bottom of an abandoned box, the other rose, larger and a little perkier came
also from another desertion. In fact I might call this the tree of desertions. It started with
an utterly charming lilac branch being blown to my feet in a spring wind -- last spring when
there was lots of warm wind -- just as I was wishing for a bouquet, or a branch or, at the
least, something lovely to put in my blue slab vase, having just moved it from a strange
little 5 1/2 x 8 3/4, 6 inch tall stack of two lumber ends left in a random corner
created by, it is said, one of the major heating ducts that enters my studio/home
on the west wall as a 10 inch wrapped and painted pipe diminishing to a 5
pipe as it passes overhead on its way to the rectangular 14 1/2 x 7
pipe that descends the east wall, eventually forming the corner
into which the little platform formed of the two lumber
pieces on which the tall triangular blue slab vase sat,
and where one day pulled over by the cat, Shiva
had the top of one of its ears broken off, and
hence got moved to a, hopefully, safer place
on one of the tables, where it still sits
having become my work-of-art-in
progress of glass bottles and roses,
and found jewels. It gets done
slowly enough to not qualify
as work for my diminished energy.
So I do nothing -- nothing more then make
this vase, which looks nothing like the blue slab vase
with the earring and bright gold ball sitting on the table
This all happened after the lilac blossoms died and I couldnt
bear to part with the branch -- which has continued to live with
Shiva-purna and me, the heat duct, the table, the undone dishes and
who knows what else will come to be in this old nunnery as we proceed
day after day after day, picking up things and hanging them on the naked twig.
Things are never going to go back to the way they were
There is alwzys perpetual change and its going to get worse and worse
Day by day, this perpetuzl screaming itch, this maddening
perpetual forgetting of the mind,
the heavy beathing in my fiercely aching chest
(although I must say that seems to have gotten better today)
Perhaps the pulled rib and its consequences really are mending.
(I feel like Adam, what a yanked hurt that must have been
if I hurt this bad from a 12 inch fall.
But every night I cry out for the grave
Still above ground
-- the perfect answeer I heard today to:
How are you?
My petty hurts and aliments and annoyances completely rule my life by now.
And its never going to get better.
Tonight Ill look up nicotine -- supposed to be in rose spray.
Id almost rather shoot myself by now (but I have no gun)-- Im in such a raging anger and irritation
all day and all night now, in my hideously
I hasve driven myself mad.
The only thing left to do is die of it.
I have enough energy each day to feed the cat
and do the dishes. No mean feat that,
my sister always said I used more dishes
than any other human.
And I do.
I think of a fishing village to which I have never been.
From my perspective, where I sit, at one of my desks,
the gloom outside the window is coagulating into a fog,
a gloom as dense as my brain, non-thinking, undelighted,
blank, gone to sleep. The reason hunger was invented, laid
upon us was to get us to rise from the ground, move around,
And I did that. At last. After a few not very vigorous
exercises. Then suddenly, without thought, I began to clean
out the freezer, the small one at the top of the fridge, stuffed
full as an avalanche poised to fall. Doing so I found some frozen
Durian -- which has to date from 1-1-11. Utterly unctious, delicious,
interfering, of course, with my vow to get directly onto Beiler soup again,
my health, act like a human -- Except! Ive now spent so much time
acting like a great, gaint ground sloth, Im not sure I want to interfere with
that achievement, this peace, this dullness, this longing just to go back to sleep.
I think it may be the face of death I am longing to look upon, smile and be gone.
I had no idea the longing to be gone could reach such proportions before I actually
died. I still wonder what happened, other than the sun falling out of the sky, gloom
grievances older than fish stirred up from the murky slime at the bottom of the worlds
plan, or lack of plan. How on earth did hairy Adam and rib-pulled-Eve manage to wake up
sufficiently to wander out of the cave. Then retreat forever once they did. I watch my cat,
Shiva-purna to find out what you do when you lack a human brain. He nuzzles along the
floor until hes under the warmth of my bright little light, then reaches out a big white paw
and steals my pencil, tosses it about abit, and contentedly, his paw upon the pencil, falls
alseep. He likes my being down here now, from the loft, to sleep, and be available for
At 77 I learned I didnt have to work half as hard as I always
thought I had, to and had always done. If I just relaxed and thought about it,
whatever it happened to be for that day, I found very often that someone
had already done what I so wanted and needed to do.
When I looked around, not even very hard, I found that someone,
indeed, had already written the book, painted the picture, done
the research. I, as I had always thought, didnt have to do it all,
I could just sit in my armchair and enjoy watching, like a documentary,
reviewing what I wanted to do, but now had been done by others.
How did the human race exist so long without writing?
Where were all the secrets kept before books?
Was it really a good idea to have each new generation
start from scratch and reinvent everything again and again?
On the other hand, was there really that much to invent
Why did inventing seem so much more interesting than
just appreciating, just being a collector, a possessor.
Certainly, some people did like to be King,
rather than a writer. How very odd.
Nonetheless the world was filling up completely
with all the new inventions, the arts, the studies
The problem became:
How to stop it! If creativity was to go on and on. Then so must destruction --
Even God knew that. And at 77, being almost as old as God, I learned
I could just relax, lie back and think about it.
Just think about it,
What on earth is a day of beauty and sunshine good for?
MY WHOLE LIFE
My whole life through I didnt take much from the real world
Somehow, it seems, I thought that my mind would outlast the real world.
I saw beauty, I saw the magnificence of the rising sun but,
nonetheless, rushed home to snuggle inside my thoughts
of the rising sun.
I could see, appreciate and seek to sequester but, other than that
I didnt know what to do. Can you tell me what to do
with the dazzling beauty of the rising sun
or the rinsed gold of the sky when it sets at night?
Nothing to do. But doing nothing is not within the repertoire of being human.
How to live within the bounty of nature is something I never learned.
One sees, admires, and then what?
I have never learned to bathe at peace in the first or last light of the circling sun.
My cat is happier, I think, without the capacity of a poetry-making mind.
He is a poem. I am a poem. I can appreciate him, but I cannot illuminate myself.
My right leg is withering.
I suppose its a bit dramatic to state it that way,
But it is the knee that always hurts, the hip that seems a little twisted.
It is my annoyance.
And yet, I bet no one else looks at my right leg
and sees it as withering.
SHE ALWAYS WEARS BLACK
She always wears black and it is always covered with cat hair.
My sense of time is so speeded up -- or slowed down -- that
two oclock seems like a week ago.
Is that metabolism? or memory leaps and gaps?
Can you imagine an age when 99% of everything was NOT enclosed in plastic?
Just saw and interview with the 127 hours lad.
I had already been thinking of the supernova state
of being alone
So I was riveted until they end of his Interview with David Frost
in Al Jazeeras FROST OVER THE WORLD, through the fall of the boulder,
through the shouting, and through the realization he was really alone
through him knowing after trying all alternatives, that
the only way to escape was to get rid of this trapped arm.
What part of you is your arm, what part of you could you really lose
and not be losing yourself. how much of your body is essential to you
not even to mention the pain. He, by the by, never mentioned the pain of the arm
being pinned by the rock, either as it happened or over the next few days
before he decided to cut it loose.
I wonder if it did hurt?
But where I couldnt follow him any longer -- was
when Frost asked him what he had learned, or felt about, etc
the experience -- and he began to babble on
as most people do, about how he had come to appreciate
other people and his love for them and their love for him. How, thru being alone
he began to really appreciate being with other people
blah blah blah
I think thats bullshit.
I have always found how much I come to appreciated being alone
when I am alone, or have been alone, either through choice or bad accident.
I think this how important other people are is a ckuche -- probably taught by parents
to their children when then are about to embark on an afternoon alone.
Parents spend a lot of time teaching children how much they are going to miss the parents
in the next few hours of absence.
But I dont think it is an instinctive behavior.
Now that I am alone about -- what? -- 90% of the time
I find I spend almost no time even thinking about others,
let alone missing them or wishing they would come hunting for me.
I am usually busy with what I am doing -- what I choose, quite independently of anyone to do -- i.e. read or write to lie looking at the ceiling, or the beautiful view from
my recent bed upon the studio room floor, looking at my huge jungle spill of my
flourishing plants, the new angle on the MTC needlepoint, the movement,
when I am so lucky,of the bright end of winter sunshine invading my dim
high ceiling studio, turning it into a vast chamber of light,
and here, once in awhile, I do think of/remember other people
mostly in the context to learning! a new angle of vision
on old memories, happenings, ideas
Mostly being astonished that I never thought of that before.
i.e this mornings realization of parents threatening one upon their departure that You are going to feel lonely, deprived, scared, lost, etc etc when they are gone
But in fact you almost never did. You felt relieved, uncluttered, happy
to be uninterrupted for a few hours or a few days
with the yawning vacancy of what you are going to do over the
next week when I finally persuaded the family I really did want to
be all by myself at Dabob for a whole week. And theyre what are you going to do what are you going to do what are you going to do all day?
And when they were gone finding that a whole day was barely time enough to do
the nothing I craved and found how seamlessly a walk glided into a swim, or an hour sit on the beach or just staying in bed 1/2 a sleep
And of course the week ended early when parents arrived to rescue me a day ahead of time. I was just feeling it was about time to settle into being alone.
As I do now, having got rid of all of my friends and human companions,
trained them not to call me, and with somewhat more difficulty stopped checking
my email. Not because I especially wanted to hear from anyone, but jus curious about what happens as time passes.
Almost always, the return of others is intrusive.
I seem always to have less energy when I am by myself,
have a stronger and stronger desire to sleep more and more of the time
but do guess that if I really were ALONE for an extended time,
the get up and go would return sooner or later.
So I was vastly disappointed with Mr. 127s insight of deeper appreciation of others
he came upon, I was hoping he too, as I get glimpse of from time to time,
might speak about turning in on vast landscapes in the human mind where he
had never been before, vistas of insight, starting from doubt and at times
ending in a new frontier of possible certainty.
If he hadnt turned it into a movie, and world wide adulation, interest in him
what else indeed might he have learned from 127 hours of solitude
after the drama, the pain, the fight, the decision --
then what? if he had gone on being alone.
Along the lines of the Indian holy men who had themselves sealed in small caves for 33 years, alone, fed through a hole in the wall, no speech, no vision of others.
they didnt even for the most part invent god.
what did they perceive?
Certainly the rest of humanity was the least of their interests.
Two bodies, two minds, two of both
Dull witted, dim witted, I guess I have passed,
or am passing, through the state of nirvana
It seems perfectly enough just to think it -- whatever --
without having to write it -- lately.
A condition devoutly wished for over lo these many years,
and now, with some of the most profound thoughts,
excellent leads into poems Ive ever had,
I admire them, but just havent the omph
to write anything down, work on it, want to share it --
like the state of Nityananda, fat and waddling, no words,
just throwing candies and giggling. in a state of bliss,
just his presences was the blessing.
But I dont live in a state of bliss!
Whose fault is that?
If you truly didnt feel that urge to record,
maybe you would be in bliss, but
not now, not yet.
#34 (No. 2)
Well, goodness me, it seems like I have been gone for
a century or two -- in bed, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping
sleeping sleeping, In bed so long that my buttocks
and my knees, have gone to prickle, prickle sleep
and my mind, for the most part, a pale grey
madness. Today it feels like I am almost
glad to be awake, up, sitting at my machine, looking
to pull new sentences from all that twisted, gray-brain-word
matter. So come, have a cuppa with me
and see what thoughts I have -- if any -- about
our human world that has literally, quite literally, gone
mad -- before a shield volcano or two of ice, rain and wind
playing background to half a dozen or a dozen revolutions, many
peaceful revolutions going on in the Middle East, a few already
successful. All this, plus the revolts going on in the U.S.A.
led by Wisconsin -- now spreading across the continent
Our very own proletariat has wakened in objection
to the sinister pip-squeak, Scott Walker, trying to
stripe away, to kill our Unions and their Rights.
What a baby-faced horror he is! He looks as
if the Republicans invented him in
a video game -- so
perfect is his visage of guileless evil.
Will he win? Will he lose? Weve yet to know
Hundreds of thousands have stood up in protest
across the nation. Who knew this would be the spark
to rouse the sleeping giant? Theres no going back now.
It makes the American heart sing just to be alive, to see
this uprising of truth telling, for me, ever hopeful,
to be here to witness it.
Cest la vie.
And, God be praised,
to be sick enough to lie abed
enjoying it -- day after day after day.
January 25th, Egypt erupted.
Today, the first of March, we wait to hear
Qaddafi has been caught, jailed,
and Scott Walker has received his dismissal papers.
America raise your head
Quaff a cup with me!
COMING BACK TO LIFE
You gotta keep trying kid,
its not good enough just to give up.
After a brutal day of bussing and
eye exam and more bussing, eyes dilated,
trying to contact The Family, sidling
and dashing and hobbling through therein drops
and the slightly distorted gloom
seeking a ride with Suzanne or Jim or HS
out to the dinner to welcome Bob back
from Vietnam, after two hours, everything worked out as
usual. Nice dinner. My sister HS has an overabundance of
energy and Mom-ability to whip up a dinner for ten and
stick in the last minute eleventh chair for her anomaly sister.
And sure enough, leavened by Bobs trip,
the conversation did stay away from
the coos and ooohs and aaahs of too
much attention to the two year old
and nothing else said.
So it was terrific, Rosa looking splendid
with a week and a days worth of
the new responsible job.
It does do wonders for the look to have
a job big and important enough
to be worth stretching ones mind around.
And Bob has turned out to be
the dedicated traveler, with whom its
great fun to dredge up my old travel memories.
He goes with groups, I always went alone.
Hes seen far more than I ever did,
but has never felt the silky dust
of Maharasthra between his toes,
walking in the moonlight
on the slopes of a Hill Station
with half a dozen
who delivered me to
the railroad station, to find out about
the morning train and to receive guest status in the
Railway Mens Retiring Home
for the night..
But the conversation with Bob,
did call up the knowledge, that my memories are slipping
Im beginning not to remember where
I was and why and in what year.
All that activity and passion
now passing through the blender
of s slippery whirling mind.
Better to stay home and
Especially after a day of dilated
activity where it was suggested
I might be developing
glaucoma in both eyes,
and learned from HS
that not only does she have
glaucoma, but that Daddy
lost his eye with it. I was away.
but it seems, we all have it in the left eye
later in life. But Dr. N whom I
went to has already saved Martins eye, long ago.
and I actually rather doubt I have the big G.
As the Doctor murmurs about it
his words seemed to suggest the same
odd anomaly at the back of my eye(s)
as discovered 15 years ago --
when other doctors were
pursuing the source of
some giant obsidian-black
floaters I had then
and which they said I should not
worry about, neither the anomaly nor the floaters
and I never did.
JOIE DE VIVRE
COULD IT BE THAT MY INTERESTS ARE REVIVING
Dare I say that my in interest is reviving.
I feel better this morning.
I keep trying to think about my recent
bedriddenance as possibly
just a part of the getting well
process from the pulled out rib.
I have never quite ben able to get my mind
around the recuperation process --
the taking time to recuperate.
Ive always acted (if not thought)
that as soon as the pain stops
(or lessens) then its back to work time.
But maybe this eternal languishing
in bed that I have been doing
is my body taking command
Stay still until you are really healed..
What I strange concept. I dont hurt (there)
any more so surely I am healed enough
to go back to work -- now.
And in the meantime, ive psyched myself
into a conviction (almost conviction)
that, lying still, for weeks and weeks
unable to rise, to wake up, to be interested
in anything, and therefore, both body and mind,
atrophying almost to unto death.
Then comes more news on the radio of
Bradley Manning locked up in his isolation
cell, not allowed to move or speak! or
even sleep, but immobilized
as so far as in-humanely possible.
And they -- the incarcerates -- do worry
(as far as the radio reports) that he may
be becoming permanently physically or
More likely, him than me, who except
for the dead weight of inertia, is free to
move, revive, begin again. Go out and face
the world even in this perpetual rain and wind.
I love the wind, so there is no harm in that.
Its just the cold that takes such a toll on
me that I have no desire to rise from
my warm bed and get on with it.
But today, even the total blankness of my mind
seems to be allowing in -- maybe fantasies of
interest and activity.
Bradley has no choice. I had no choice,
but today I begin to see again,
Perhaps I have been lucky enough
to out-wait my demons of
OLD DENSE HEAD
Old dense-head is up and out of bed.
Now that Ive got me into a state
where I can barely move, hardly walk,
ache all over, dead-brained, tight-nosed,
about to sneeze at any moment --
now that I have accomplished all
these debilitated states and more,
perhaps it is time for recovery.
The pressure on my nose is extraordinary.
the pressure on my eyes is debilitating
the inability to turn my neck, my head,
stand on my legs, walk properly,breathe deeply --
surely must signal something.
Its as if my alter-ego, my alter-devil,
the monster I have lived with all my life,
has triumphed at last. It wants me to
lie in bed, sleep forever, lethargically step
right up to deaths door and into silence.
Dont move! and I impose this same
immobility on Shiva-purna. My
beautiful cat and I lie through most
days completely drugged with sleep.
We lie along lethes shore fagged out
wishing for annihilation.
The whole world has changed
and seems to be only a vision at
the other end of binoculars,
or a kaleidoscope unrelated to me.
Go away old active world. Let me sleep.
Fat and waddley, I am now truly
my brothers sister. Whatever
happened to him with the stroke
spread to ubiquity in spades after
years of not moving, years of sitting,
waddling. Why have I done this
to me. What do I expect? A
fairy godmother to come down
through the ceiling and guide
me to walk again, to move.
My head is so dense I could sell it
as a concrete brick -- one of those square ones
with the decorative holes -- get another
and become a bookshelf. I am somewhat
of a book shelf and nothing else.
Books read and unread, new and used,
written and unwritten.
Influences in my life I never think about anymore:
This morning I wind and rewind the tape of
Muktanandas Siddah Gita II -- and that rich
a bit sour Sanskrit or Hindi or whatever
plays again through my viens, my life, my heart,
the hallow tubes of remembrance.
How many years of my life I spent (about 8 or 10)
listening to the chanting, trying a bit to chant,
trying to be a Hindu, trying to find some meaning
outside, larger that in myself to believe in
and I had many a fine hour of enjoyment, but never
found the belief until I sat at the feet of
Swapan Chaudhuri and was so captivated by his
that I found what I was looking for
But even that came to pass. Now I live in a limbo
of semi silence, too inundated with a lifetime of
music and sound -- so all I crave is silence.
But that too is not satisfactory.
I am no longer capable of living in silence
I crave the noise of the war broadcasts, the noise
of the upheaval of our doomed and rotting civilization.
My heart is silent and frozen.
I could not get my minds eye off the young Bradley Manning
forced to sleep naked and alone in a cell,
forced to live with out movement.
The unbelievable cruelty of our Democratic Civilization.
Who wants to be here?
Who would not rather die.
Who would not choose to live naked in a forest
and the rain.
Eventually it does strike one as odd
that the way to proceed is the way
one always has. Which has got one
where? Just here, wondering what
to do next.
I have one of the privileges that
few people have -- to do all day,
every day, just as I please. I have
conscientiously avoided all, usual
So each moment is fresh and
new and unspoken for. I have
succeeded in avoiding almost
all shoulds. I have listened
to the Buddha
saying, all human suffering
proceeds from desire, and,
having got here, Im inclined
to think it might be that all suffering
begins with lack of desire.
Why else be here, if you dont want
to eat, if you dont want to sleep,
nothing is more indigenous to
human life than eating and sleeping
capture prey, eat and then go back
to sleep. But modern life has cut
out the middleman, one no longer
has to walk around to capture prey.
Walking in and out of the Bedlam of my mind,
six months of incarceration in the lime stone
caves of thought and despair -- as surely in
solitary as Bradley Manning, and even for a
lesser offense. He just -- maybe -- downloaded
a load of the truth and got it to Assange for
I have simply paced the walls, wallowed in
the sink of the cell -- cells -- door open
unable to move beyond my thoughts. Locked in
here with the daily news of the world more or
less eager to lock at last in mortal combat,
and more or less subjected to the weather and
the trembling, shaking, quaking, splitting, fire-
spewing of the earth -- plus dabbling in
the consequences of our dabbling in the mortal
dangers of nuclear fission
How strange. What a strange place to be
without locks on the door, with plenty of windows
on the world, but locked up tight in the contemplation
of the worlds destruction and the destruction of my own mind --
and body. Cant focus attention to anything but the
hurts and the symptoms of ill health, aging, still mild
but, concentrated on, growing worse.
Its a lack of sunshine.
Today the sun is out shining
forcefully, as if it meant to stay, to outface
another rain storm, as if it meant to take up its duty
once again of warming the earth, the hearts of humans,
my heart. I think we have had, I have had, a trial run
of the end of the world. No great drama,
just bad weather. Who on earth minded
the weather before we humans arrived?
Who will care when we are gone?
Youd never guess by looking at the lists
and lists and lists and lists and lists and lists
and lists of Charlie Roses guests that he is
yet aware that half the human race -- a little
more than half -- is women. Hes not a particularly
masculine man but he sure favors the boys when it comes to
who he wants to talk to. Interesting. Hmm.
And when he does interview the occasional woman,
you can see his discomfort, as if he might be trying to
talk with an unshorn bended palm, and when he has one
-- about like a, one nigger in a wood pile, he often all but
ignores her until the tick end, and gives her a questions --
to which he usually doesnt hear the answer.
Hmmm. I wonder which century he thinks he is
Do I listen to him? Once in awhile. There is so little choice
if what you want is some actual conversation, rather than the
set pieces of politics and money, the economy and the bedroom..
Its been more than several decades now if what you expected tio
here from reasonable educated women is a chat about men. Boring!
They often talk philosophy and science, some
business and the kids. But mostly their
take on a world gone to hell,
drunk with hedonism and
ego -- doom.
CONLEY, MY BROTHER
He suffered through his life pretty much all by himself.
Few friends, no one (in the family) on his wavelength.
We were in touch maybe three times, when he came
through Chicago, and I was at the Art Institute, when
I drove across in the snow and in my silver skirt to talk
to him on Mercer Island.
And right now, when I feel very alone and as if I am
going to die soon - I look deep and I see How lonely
he must have been, but also, because I share that kind
of loneliness, I know it is chosen, and my company wouldnt
have helped much, nor anyone elses. What he was here to
do he was here to do alone, as I was -- but are alonenessess
never touched, never crossed except at the two times mention
above, and in childhood, We all had a lot of fun in childhood
but I dont remember the specifics in terms of words. I can
see visions of us running out to Moss Hill and similar scenes.
Like me, I am alone, but I do not want company, I havc even
become lonely in this last six months, but there is not a person
on earth I would like to be here, be with me. Except once or
twice a month, Jim, my nephew by marriage who started out
such a barbarian but in these last years has become a precious --
what? Scholar? scholar of the kinds of things that interest me.
But he comes at them from a very different angle. And
Vikram, who is like a dear spiritual/intellectual/thoughtful
father to me, but he also, just one or two times a month,
and Ann -- who I see also two times a month for talk.
Those are the people I feel close to in the sense that I
need, but not too close! not too much! But each has their
aloneness, except possibly Ann, she has all those sons
always filling up her life when she has any time left
over from being alone, reading, musing.
I never knew my brother and dont miss him,
but once in awhile, like this morning, I feel his heart beating with my heart.
if I am lucky, my mind is a complete blank. I wait
for a thought, a word to arise, jump in and go from
there. How confining, it seems, it would be if I had a
world view, a socket in which to fit the ideas, the magic
that just comes. Let it pour. Like the first drops of an
intense shower: sprinkle sprinkle --one can hardly believe
it, and then a drop hits one in the face, an another. One begins
to think of ones hair, ones scarf, the shoulders of nes coat and
soon one has to raise ones umbrella or begin to walk a little quicker.
Not that rain drops are bad, but one thinks of a cold, the sniffles, an
begins to hurry, if ever so little. Still without a world view. And this amidst
some stemming and shaking and fanning out the scarf one relieves oneself of
the possible ill effect of a chill, climbs the steps, disrobes. Takes a cup of not
water -- and begins. No world view, just some words. What words. I have no
Letting go, forcing myself to behave
as if there were something more for me
to do on this earth, and knowing not, knowing
there is not
Ah, if we only had control over the reins, the jingling bells
of the reins, if only we were able to let go. Just like that!
And slide into darkness, asleep forever --
If I walk away, I do not remember I should walk back,
my chia seeds languish, swell, in the tepid water,
should I drink it now --- or ar dawn?
I used to believe so much in beauty:
the necessity of it, the wonder of it.
Now I see it only as a component, one
more element in a vast universe, where
all is interesting -- a word one used to use
when nothing else could be thought of to say.
But now, it seems to comprise anything worth
looking at, anything worth saying. Though if the
truth were known, less and less seems worth saying.
The gulls screech, the loon of the mind cries. The cat
purrs -- followed up by my echo. We purr together, the cat
and I. The weather glooms grey and grayer -- but the grape
hyacinth is already in bloom.
Poor little second cousin of the real hyacinths cone of blossoms:
scented, elegant, radiant, multicolored, sturdy, factual, overshadowing
the grape, with its miniature, modest globes of hyacinth blue, its light
fragile stalks among the rocks.
Grey-blue, grey blue, even the doves wing
has more iridescence than the Seattle sky.
We, who are aging, long for the sunshine.
But the sun is also weary. In a few billion
years -- after we are gone, it too will dull,
will grey, and go out! Odd. Even illusions
of stability will die. What is being, if being
isnt permanent? Even the earth will slow
down and stop one day. Will heaven be
On my way home from
the Food Bank today
I found a black rose
in the parking lot of a new
coffee shop at the foot of
my street. Nonetheless, I
shant go there often
its 40/50¢ more than my
other two choices.
Part of the Food Banks charm
is not having to make decisions
anymore. You get 1 or 2 of
this or that, or, occasionally, 6
or unlimited -- like papaya the
other day -- huge, Hawaiian
my very favorite. 6? 7? how
many did I take? Eat some, freeze
some, best to eat them skin and all
At last in my 77th year someday has arrived,
is arriving, is appearing
from time to time and accelerating
All those groceries put by for sometime in the future,
not now, in the freezer, out of mind, and sight
in the back of cupboards, up on high shelves.
I am bringing you forth, picking you up and deciding
to use you -- today!
Old sauces and curries, old cans of applesauce I eat only
once in a while -- or have never eaten, I eat now,
today, right now. Open it. Taste it! and if you still
wake up tomorrow, it probably wasnt poisonous.
I have tried this several times -- fairly successfully.
Just say it! Just do it. Just write it down. Just say
it as it is -- no frills, no rhetorical devices, just say it
and go on.
Enough fiddle-faddling, conservation, thinking-about-it.
Deaths off there in the corner, grinning -- as do I.
Why not? Why not clean up the place, get it ready
for my not being here?
James did -- toward the end he was obsessed
by cleaning up, finishing off, gathering together,
discarding, reconciling. I can do that too.
Its harder now, at the nonce, to get back to my
capabilities of writing every day, of setting goals, limits,
posting poems on the NET: 2 a day, 10 a day or a week.
Just do it, Forget good and bad,
Youre only here,
as you have known for a good long while,
keeping a record,
Nothing more. Nothing less. Just do it.
The tangled mind of consciousness has led more humans
astray then you would ever like to contemplate. Thinking and
not thinkings, the two greatest bugaboos in the world.
Its wildly hilarious to think of all the successes
of the Chinese Emperors building vast, I mean
vast empires, which then disappear just via time
or the next emperor sewing the land with salt,
or us, sewing the land with cluster bombs, blowing off
peoples arms and legs and heads and bodies, all that
success leading to all that nullity. What is the point of
getting my meal eaten on time, or my body slimmed
down to attractive again?
What is the point of time passing, taking stock of it,
account of it, nothing what happened -- and what
didnt happen. Here we are in the middle of time,
no going back or forward except second by second,
marching, with small steps, into what was future
and is no more what becomes past and is no more.
What did we call this poem:
Here we are.
In the last many months Ive become exceedingly
interested in what happens if I do nothing.
Nothing out of fear or interest or exuberance or
habit or lethargy, nothing -- because my wants have
fled from me, and I sit here, like my brother Con
did for 20 years, and stare into space and do
The absurdity of the world is really getting to me.
lately. One does it. It makes no difference. It is erased.
One could call it cycling through life.
It has never been more clear to me: the pointlessness
of so called accomplishment.
Tomorrow it is gone
even though one enjoyed doing it.
Just not to be would be so peaceful. Though I dont
quite think that is the state Shiva-purna dwells in,
he is, he enjoys, he sleeps. Hes distressed when
he doesnt get what he wants. But he does want.
I suppose if I could manage to want again,
that would be a step forward
-- or backward.
WHEN THE SUN SHINES
Seattleites rush out like a whole commune of artists to compliment each other --
as if each, individually, were responsible for the weather,
as if each had, personally, designed the day,
the shimmering, bright yellow rays
from the sun.
Im an old woman
listening in the rain
from Seattle to a
a thousand accents
about the recent
revolutions in Egypt,
in Tunisia, in Syria,
in the Arab world
with a thousand accents
all speaking English.
No one even remarking on it
They talk about it all being able to
happen because of the technology
of Facebook and twitter, but
not so far seeing the total
uniting of the created by the
Im an old woman
listening in the rain
from Seattle to a
a thousand accents
about the recent
revolutions in Egypt,
in Tunisia, in Syria,
in the Arab world
with a thousand accents
all speaking English.
No one even remarking on it
They talk about it all being able to
happen because of the technology
of Facebook and twitter, but
not so far seeing the total
uniting of the created by the
As I think of writing a poem today,
I watch the tide of disinterest
wash over me.
A curtain of paralysis drops
over my insight, my energy
immobilizing my molecules
so that I sit gape-mouthed,
unable to think,
unable to act.
Its beyond boredom.
beyond fright of punishment.
Itdeadly threat from a clear sky.
What a whistle-blower might feel
before the irretrievable act,
but then decided to go ahead.
This is my whistle,
this is my blow,
Its terrifying to
let your guard
go for vacation,
to spread the intervals
of your net
so wide that a poem
and one more centimetere
of your terrifed soul
is revealed to a world
that could not care less.
Certain moments of my life, certain scenes certain times,
have been like a french movie.
I just finished viewing, screening, one would say n the old days,
??? Ayarass SUMMER HOURS.
It strikes one as thesis what family life should be like -- so civilized,\so realized,
But only moments have been like that for me. Mostly, as I looked back the
times I spend with Eva. She had the touch to make moments turn into moments like
that, like movement out of a french movie. Charming, lovely caring, sensitive, extra awake,
every moment created, somewhat like a Vermeer.
But that the same time, I remember, it was often maddening, irritating, unbearable to be with her, unbearable to be with the french when one is not french -- but ones much cruder
Those moments were exquisite, those moments were precious, but I could not
give up my life for them.
It almost makes me suffocate to think of them, locked into being so civilized
so aware, so cultivated, like living inside a very small prison. Americans,
I think, are very profligate with their time and their space, as if they wre always outside and always flinging their wares wide to the sky.
Not in elegant exuberance, but in profligate abandonment, unconscious breaking out
into the freedom of not being in prison.
The French seem to both know how to have and how to recreate
the perfect childhood on the screen.
For the first 77 yeers I was vigilant.
until it didnt do any good anymore.
In fact, if I had checked, I might
have found it didnt do any good
for the first 77 years.
for the first 77 years,
I found life serially disenchanting.
For the next
I found it didnt matter any more.
is, perhaps, the summary of life.
This morning I wake up to a scent of cinnamon,
maybe its cardamon.
Ive returned to India.
How could I guess that my memories would last so long?
Or that 30 years later they would fill me with such longing.
Walking down the Deccan plateau,
and splashing up, with my suitcase on my shoulder
thru the shallow waters of the Arabia Sea.
Walking the peacock through five miles of the sunlit
woods of New York,
many of my finest memories are of walking.
Walking along a street someplace in Seattle,
not too far from where I live now, and soundlessly
it was like striding along in the air,
full of joy and gladness , past tall stalks of flowers
scenting the air.
Walking with Aldona beneath the Yoshiro cherry trees
in full bloom, through the eaving on the deserted campus
of the University,
or, again with Aldona, on a long
tiring walk across town to come exhibit? We didnt have much to say
to each other but we were always in tune walking.
I have changed my position in sleep, my sense of scent
seems to have returned, I almost have the hope that
I shall live again -- on this earth -- before I die
of tiredness, dead before my time.
Last night from 3 to 6 AM I watched the movie
PARTITION, about India, about Pakistan, it
roused such longing, such nostalgia for the landscape
of India in me, that I almost stopped breathing,
and this morning, now at8:46 the scent like cinnamon
of cardamom persists.
EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTIONS
I woke up this morning with such a glorious euphoria,
remembering India, smelling creamy cinnamon
then wrote a couple of poems
and now there is that equal and opposite
pervasive feeling of
lurching sickness in my stomach,
of waking a promise I cannot keep?
of impending disaster?
that awful hating to be alive feeling.
Yesterday I noted that my torso is one way,
my legs the other,
My torso wants me to sleep on my stomach
hugging my pillows for warmth
and delicious comfort,
my legs, to stop aching, ask me to sleep on my back
with that hideous impending feeling of stiffness and stifling.
Yet the stiffness and stifling belong to the all comfort
of that warm embrasure of the cool pillows.
Upon viewing RR in AN UNFINISHED LIFE, directed by Lalle Hallstrom.
Its a pity so many films are made by men.
One -- I -- do get so tried of male anguish --
and the movies trying to persuade me, I
should love those, full of testosterone, guys,
I grew up with too much respect -- too much
respect for everyone and everything. Today
I could not bring myself to throw away a very
tiny bore of a plastic measuring straw., maybe
inch in circumference, and three inches long.
probably made to channel the spray out of a
WD 40 can. The can was used up, but the
straw, somehow, got misplaced. So it showed
up on my drain board, washed into the sink,
with the bits and piece of old food, old cat
food, new peelings, ready to be thrown out
-- and yet I rescued it for no known reason,
Its useful. I had never used it, I had one,
without the lines, taped to the can and had
used that about once a year to channel some
damn thing that wouldnt budge. So I could
have just thrown
this extra away, l;et it get in the sink mesh with
the garbage, throw it out, never think about
it again. Instead I washed it, forced water thru
it to make sure it was clean, inside and out
will put it in the draw with other useless useful
things -- like supposedly grown men feeling
all sentiment about how bad the feel about
behaving badly, until you really do just
wamt to puke.
The temperament of that awful guy RR plays
reminds me of myself, my temper, my anger,
my inability to subject my terrible volcanic
emotions to even just a touch of civility.
I scream and bite first!
I am so sick of little boys ruining the beauty of our world.
Today Osama Bin Laden was killed
May day! May day! May day!
I am so sick of angry, aggressive little boys ruining our world
Whether by the explosion of our buildings
or by wars of retaliation that explode their buildings and ours.
For the love of humanity: Grow Up!
Life is not so boring that we need the enhancement of your
silly ambitions, silly grudges.
May Day indeed.
It took a woman to shout May Day on the fiery hell
of the ------oil platform
as it capsized.
And they covered that up fast
not to spoil the game!
Each one gets taken up bead by bead
the blankness of being.
When she was an old woman
my mother used to tear up all
the time. I dont remember if
I thought that was strange. All
I remember is that: I began to
know when the tears would
come -- what situations or views,
or music, or laughter or love
would bring on the tears.
And now that I am an old
woman, I begin to understand.
I, too, tear up on many many
occasions -- that sharp, bright
feeling when tears start up and
want to be released. How pitiful
the human race begins to seem: its
perpetual losses, its traumas -- too
painful, too poignant to be born.
Yet, and yet: one does live through
the death of a cat or a kid, through
the destruction, the desolation of hope,
of ever accomplishing what one had so
lightly promised she would do by 30.
We have the great stories of those who
did, who overcame, who succeeded,
who published the book or flew to the
moon -- but not you. You did write
5000 poems, but who was there to
read them? -- or to care? You never
wrote them to be read. You wrote them
because you wrote them,
wrote them as they washed
ashore from the ocean, the great
tide that pushes and pulls.It always
seemed, in my moments of clarity, that
it was just what everyone did.
Didnt everyone have that inexorable
tide moving in and moving out,
irresistibly marking the land,
the small piece of the earth
where one walked -- here
and in India --
springing along in great strides --
and now creeping on painful
knees through a spring so glorious
that one thinks it to be the apogee
I WATCH MOVIES
I watch movies
for Lasse Hallstrom, director of THE HOAX
because I have nothing better to do,
because I am old and have lost my motivation.
Watching movies wakes me up for awhile,
as if I were living again.
Even so, most of the time
I can tell what is film
and what is my lifee.
IF YOUR PLAN IS TO MEDITATE
You really must stop
careening around in tight circles.
Thats why I started writing
so I would no longer have to meet people
and need to be fascinating
Ive met enough people.
I want to be alone.
I swear Ive gone off to live in some other dimension.
Trying to read VVs Rainbows End -- its like whirling
through a 3 dimensional jigsaw puzzle.
Sometimes you see it,
sometimes you dont.
Either its his artistic triumph,
or my brain at borderline Alzheimers.
Three little 2 bite lamb chops
for breakfast, then a fresh
air walk, a cup of coffee
at QFC overlooking fruits
and vegetables. My attention is
riveted by the double fisted size of
a folded, flattened, gossamer, glistening
grey roll of plastic bags ready to unrolled to
become bulbous bags of oranges, lemons, limes
and green peppers, cornucopias of drama and
delight for breakfast, lunch, even dinner
with carrot juice.
THERES NO ONE
Theres no one left to raise our children.
Men have found it expedient, permissible,
and great fun to wag their penises wherever
they choose for the last 2 or 3 thousand years.
Tut tut, boys will be boys.
At the expense of women
First they institute moral laws incompatible
with human nature, so that everyone is guilty
all the time. Then when it comes to enforcement
of the laws, they manage to spin them around
so that The Woman is always guilty.
If he rapes her, it is because she was too beautiful, too sexy.
If hes king of the world and shes a maid
in an hotel named Sofit
you can be sure that if he rapes her, it will be
spun so that it was a Political Setup, leaving her of course
to be the meat in the mouse trap.
Shes dead. And. She tried to take me with her --
I do suspect.
Ive been at the lowest ebb yet, in my 6 month
or is it 6 years? (NO!) energylessness
in the last few weeks.
Witness no poems at all. Nor hardly an attempt
or a thought
of a poem.
The day after my sister told me Aunt Florence
was dead -- it was like I woke up,
as if a weight had been lifted from me
or a tugging abandoned.
That was May 23rd.
Apparently she died on the 21st.
Both my sister and I
were grateful that it was not
on May 22nd, my fathers birthday,
He was born May 22, 1906,
and she, the only sister
among five boys, was born on 10-11-12.
Making it the easiest birthday in history to remember.
She missed one hundred
by a year and a half.
10-11-12 to 5-21-11.
Bye bye, wicked bitch.
Not that I didnt like her. Even now I hold no
animosity in my heart against her,
for she was essentially a merry, adventurous,
witty soul who loved to do things and go places,
a perpetual motion machine -- a little like my sister.
And, though Florence didnt speak to me for the last
(must look this up) 7 or 8 years of her/my life, I
never felt estranged from her. Indeed, when the parting
took place, in 2000, I wrote her several e-mails, then one or two after
that for various reasons. She never answered..
At first I didnt know what was wrong, and asked her daughter
Margaret, who told me: Florence had been mortally insulted
by my portrayal of her in my BLOOD RELATIONS --
the only attempt I ever made to write about my family.
Completed -- it was never posted on my website for the public to see.
It was there, but unless one knew the
route, the specific URL, one couldnt find it. It was unavailable to
Google -- indeed, I believe, written before Google existed, certainly
before their IPO.
So where/how did Florence find it? At my sisters cabin on Hoods Canal.
I had loaned it to my sister Helen along with the entirety of the printed
out website, for her eyes only to read. Florence, visiting, sniffing around
came upon it on her own -- about 800 to 1000 pages, and began to read,
and was mortified by BLOOD RELATIONS because I:
1. said she had a weak chin, and
2. she tended to be a bit stingy.
I have always loved Tennessee Williams observation about the touching
belief of the rich in the efficacy of small sums. A lovely description
of Aunt Florences gift giving..
She was always so pleased with herself to send a dollar here,
a dollar there. Even so, she was essentially a generous and giving person.
But she had been a secretary from time to time to the Very Rich, and perhaps
this is where she acquired their unbecoming parsimoniousness in too many
situations where a tidy sum might have been of real help.
Anyway this is the reason for the silence as reported to me by her daughter, Mar. She said that Florence had been mortified by my writing two such facts and publishing them on the NET.
It was useless to tell both mother and daughter that it was only a shadow posting --unavailable to anyone but me -- and whoever I might choose to read it.
As I recall, though I mentioned it to several
people, including Florence, that it was hidden there on the NET,
I dont believe I ever told anyone how to get to it.
Even now, as I think about it, I cant remember the route.
But I will get back there one day, and Ive a mind to just remove the code that hides it and let the whole world know the blinding facts!
However, as I look at this donnybrook closely for the first time, I am struck anew at how crippling this attitude by my family (especially Florence and Mar) toward my writing was to my adventuring and passion to truth-tell in my literary efforts.
I was never much of a gossip,
hence my failure as a novelist.
People lives and actions were
never of pressing importance to me.
And then piled on this, for the most part unspoken,
Verboten sign by my family (any of our familys actions, behavior),
I just never got around to digging deeply into personal relationships, i.e. the bread, butter and jam of the actual substance of novel writing.
So though I desperately want to be a novel writer,
I was never much of an excavator
into other peoples lives, motives, idiosyncrasies.
Verboten: I stayed away.
So what was it I wanted to put in a novel?
I liked stories, but for most of my life,
I was never much of a storyteller myself.
Though now, at 77, Ive become quite good at conversational storytelling.
So now, though its a bit late in life, I guess I feel that lifting,
that feeling better is due to
Florence being gone from my life, that dragon at the door of family secrets
-- God knows they are innocuous enough.
But that physical inhibition is now gone.
I can tell what I want to
uninteresting though it may be,
I can at least, at last
Tell The Varnishless Truth.
Please film JOCASTA.
Goethe et al decreed that
a tragedy ends in death, a comedy ends in marriage
Therefore, I submit this comedy to you.
It might even amuse you from time to time.
Its prophetic substance is:
After twenty years of peace and
procreation, Oedipus found
out what Jocasta already knew,
and put out his eyes. Thus
began western civilization. *
However, the film version of JOCASTA, a preface to Sophocles OEDIPUS REX, begins before the wedding.
You have done such splendid work
in such a multi-faceted array of contexts,
that I suspect you might like to do a Greek play.
I think, I hope, its worthy of your consideration, talent, interests, compassion.
Its available online at
Ill be glad to send you a printed copy, if you want to send me a more specific address
Bio available at janhaag.com/JHbio.html
Namaste, JJ email@example.com
*FROM THE JOCASTA POEMS #15 -- BLINDNESS
I may be dead already
Ive become a buddhist in my sleep:
Shivas dry nettles rattle in the cool breeze.
Am I alive or dead?
I was once a part of Hollywood,
and could talked about the KEM, the Steenbeck,
the moviola,16millimeter and 72,
about just the right actor,
the angle, the cutaway
and the closeup, success
And know something of what I was
Now I am old and away from that life
for many years, bored with it,
bored with my new (old) life
but always playing around with the idea
that somehow the sloth and the nothingness of
my present existence is more important.,
more valid, more real
than those years in Hollywood,
where I didnt fit in ,
in a town where almost everyone you met
successful or want-ta-be
felt they didnt fit in
And it was hard to fit in, for anyone to
fit in somewhere between reality and the screen.
Between desire adn the hard cold fact that
you werent much in a town
that was all tinsel and illusion,
all horror and sadness,
except the tears.
the ears were always real,
and the pain.
I can live in the imagination more perfectly.
As if life were the contest those boys are
trying to make it..
The coffee icecream is the taste of
paradise on my tongue,
at the back of my
I can live in the imagination more perfectly then thou..
Three helpings by sunrise.
But then I look out the window
and the sun is not going to rise.
It rose long ago,
and the white clouds still obscure it.
As I cough explosively, wildly, noisily this morning
I am reminded of
other coughing wildly, momentarily terrifying,
coughing, choking episodes.
Not so much the single adventures, as the aggregate.
One goes through life choking everyonceinawhile
And, if you have nothing better to do,
the incidents seem frequent.
It was one of the reasons I seldom ate fish -- for years.
Especially in restaurants.
I was afraid of the stiff little hair-like bones.
I never mentioned it to anyone, seldom even to myself --
that it was the bones I disliked and not the fish.
Now it doesnt matter anymore.
Besides you can eat the bones of canned fish:
fragile, mealy-chalky substances --
good for you.
DAN BROWNS PULP FICTION
Even after I ran out of things to do,
I loved living alone!
To wake up for the 3rd time, a little groggy,
at 8:00 in the morning, the sun shining, nothing to do,
no where to go, no plans, no drama, no one around to make waves,
Ah the bliss of the solstice sunshine, all golden in my ivory tower,
no sounds. Having gotten over the radio and all the manufactured hype
of the gossip and the wars, the deaths and the terrors,
the vicious weather raining down upon us.
All alone with the golden flicker of light through the leaves
of the cottonwood trees, the cat purring, mewing from time to time
for a little more fish. I dont ned anything to do except bathe in the golden light,
the light wind, the rustle of leaves, the silence within and
without which -- who lives?
IM ON THE VERGE
Maybe Ive backed myself into one corner too many
with my thrift and my self-denial, none of which I mind,
none of which bothers me at all.
What bothers me is this civilization -- where everything
has become too complicated by wanting to make it too easy,
until we find to our horror that
pushing a button to get almost anything done
means the ultimate in stress and anxiety --
just like electricity coming out of the wall.
None of us understands it, we all use it, but let it hesitate
in its functioning and were dumfounded.
What to do?
We dont understand it --
anymore than how a potato grows from the earth.
We eat it, but we dont know how to make it.
We used to know how to cultivate it.
Now we only know how to buy it at a store.
My anxiety level has reached a zenith.
I wish it were easy to do myself in.
But lacking a gun and having the dread of it being so messy,
I dont know what to do.
50 or 60 aspirin, Google suggests, might do it.
In the meantime,
I itch to the 99th degree
and may scratch myself to death before morning.
THE HOUSE OF SQUASHED MOTHS
You can hardly feel the fragile body
beneath the velvet wings
that squash down to a
black-brown filament on the wall
Each time I crush one
I lament its fate
But what am I to do if
Im not interested in lace sweaters,,
the gentle fluttering of moth wings
in the dawn and after night fall.
The dark streaks last a long time,
but do not stain the walls. Then
with one masterful swipe
of the sponge
the pristine white returns
Fairwell fragile speckled creature
your flight amused both me
and the cat
Your life was short and elegant,
your death was quick,
your life remembered.
Who can ask for more?
Its as if we have made the tools of communication,
the pencils, the pens, the erasers, the typewriters, the computers,
As if, instead of writing a poem with a keyboard and a computer,
or a quill and a scroll,
you spend the entire time, sharpening your pencils, making them
pointier and pointier, but never, essentially saying anything
with the such exquisitely shaped tools.
You text, and you text nothing more than ephemera:
what time is dinner? are you driving or walking?
the film was good
the film was bad
I like Tom.
I hate John.
Bits of flying delight
(but like moths)
devoid of meaning.
The brain was desired to function in solitude
now we force it on the common, the public stage
and is not terribly good,
or terribly interesting.
Polish, polish, hone, hone.
Eat your soup.
Drown in trivia.
MOTH BODIES II
The fires gone out of my bones.
Trapped in the body,
trapped in the body.
trapped insanely in the body.
Fighting the light
fighting the light,
fighting the horrible
glare of the light
as if it were my body.
I think of Hawkins body
How often does he get
to think about life
without the body?
Life outside the body
bodiless light, lightless body.
Does he dwell on the freedom
to be -- without the body?
Or is that pure illusion?
No life without the body,
no body -- for long -- without
The fires gone out of my bones.
Trapped in the body,
trapped in the body.
trapped insanely in the body.
Was the mind only a second thought?
Discovered only after
one woke to the horror of being
trapped in the body of light?
ONE ADVENTURE IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER
As I age, one adventure becomes as good as another --
The need for choice
If you can think of it,
Write half of what you used to write in an email
already halved by the switch from snail mail.
And now there is Texting
which I will never do.
How depressing to have arrived where the form
equals the content.
And there is nothing more --
than monosyllabic trivia.
They -- the words --
just arent there anymore.
This time I head toward the typing
without a thought in my head
and thereby kill another bird of the same stone.
Stand still, oh bird of wonder.
Meet thy maker.
Without me (it says ungraciously) you wouldnt be
Whether or not you are grateful for the gift,
you got it!
Now sing! Damn you, Sing!
Prepare to meet thy maker.
Does a poem get to heaven and look
round and round
to find, to meet its maker?
I certainly am not waiting here
Off you go, enjoy yourself!
Cest la vie.
Im certainly not here
awaiting death with the old agenda of fame
tucked beneath my arm, with
X-rays, too dim to be seen
too awkward to store.
AMBIENT MINIMALIST NOISE
Ambient minimalist noise, so sayeth one of the musicians,
before 2:00 in the afternoon, about the music to be played
in the Chapel this evening
As I begin to realize that nothing is ever going to be better.
Its down hill from now on. I didnt stop soon enough to
avoid the rush. Pity. The downhill momentum is in spate.
As they dismantle the EPA, no longer more concerned with
the flaming water, than privatizing the work of the public overseers.
We watch patiently the desolation of The United States
Yesterday was Bastille Day, when they broke out of their prison.
When will I break from mine?
With a minimum of noise?
Big booming noises from the rehearsal down the hall.
Nothing more than a black tee-shirted youth,
a key board flashing with tiny brilliant red and green lights
Its as if I gave up my birthright about 6 months ago.
Too tired to get out of bed,
to write, to think, to record the poems
that dance through my consciousness.
My stomach aches, I can hardly walk, I have no
Interest in the day or the night,
as if all my memories have been sucked dry,
as if all my thoughts were
dry fronds along the Falgu
in a cremation procession.
I itch and I could scream!
I want nothing more, and yet I do not die.
A: What would I do if I woke up and didnt know I was dead.
B: Very likely much the same, as if you knew.
A: And then?
A: Could I tell my friends, or would they already know?
B: Would they care? Would you care?
A: Would nobody care?
B: I suppose if you were a really enterprising entrepreneur, you could make a real sensation out of it.
A: Get Murdoch to hack into my genetic code.
B: Or not. Just as you choose.
A: Gone, absolutely gone.
MINI MAL IS
a slight sickness in the head.
My cat sleeps with one of his great white paws
draped over his blue eyes.
He doesnt like the light when hes trying to sleep.
Hes a white-booted Siamese --
rare and opinionated.
His favorite activities are to eat, be brushed and purr all at the same time.
Hes trained me with patience and finesse in just one
meow of a decade.
IS: APM 08279+5255
So hunger has returned. A bite of this and a bite of that
no longer suffices.
Its as if I am going to blow up, a plump pinkish white ball,
and float off into --
well perhaps -- to find that newly discovered 4 trillion times
the amount of water
in the worlds oceans, its mass 20 billion times the size
of our sun --
and perhaps beyond our comprehension. We think on an
immense scale, we think,
but the unknown length and incomprehensible breadth
of but one of newly
discovered items sharing the universe with us is enough
to discourage further thought --
too big for us as we scrap around with each other on the earth
trying to convince
the Republicans that there is a difference between the truth
and their talking-point lies.
That the poor pay less taxes than the rich because
they dont have the money.
Pay them a living wage and perhaps they would be glad to share
the tax burden with the rich
who now often pay nothing at all. And who, but Mr. Boner,
spend their lives thinking about
how to screw their fellow man, who live well and want their fellow
man to live like dogs.
The dark ages are overtaking us once again. An eye for an eye
a gold submersible brick for your soul.
I would like to discover there is something normal about
lying around for great periods.
eating only when I am hungry,
a few mouthfuls, and back to sleep,
Who would have thought anything could get done so fast
in multiples of immediately,
You getting old enough now to wastes some time,
a little time.
OTHER WAYS OF BEING
I spend the morning in bed
(or at least until 8:37)
thinking about -- what I can finally summarize
as -- my broken will.
I used to spend the before-getting-up-minutes (or hours)
thinking about what I was going to do that day.
But now, I spend the time -- usually several hours --
doubting if my body will behave
well enough for me to swing my legs over to the side
so I can get up, so I can stand.
Will my brain function?
Will I find even a tiny amount of desire (in the Buddhist sense)
alive enough in me to do
anything at all,
to want to do anything at all?
Or will I lie here, feeling more lethargic, hour by hour,
more incapacitated, unable to find
enough reason to move,
to turn over, to exercise even my ankles,
to waken my leaden head?
I used to have a body that allowed me to wake up,
now I have a leaden hulk that has only enough energy
-- from time to time --
to grope around seeing if the legs will function,
the arms, the ankles, seeing if the almost feelingless outer toes
will be able once more to step or flex
knowing that almost everyday
whatever the plan
I can manage to invent,
I abandon, overlook, forget,
cannot see the reason to fulfill.
I never had a reason to write poetry before,
I just did it.
And now I still have no reason to write poetry,
and I never get around to it.
It seems an even more absurd reason to get out of bed,
than the headache that will ensue if I stay among the pillows too long.
My energy has fled, my litheness, limberness, pleasure or at least unthinkingness
in movement has fled me. Each thing now is thought about, in the emptiness
of nothingness and found wanting
why write? Why clean house? Why scratch or not scratch?
Why breathe. Though that does go on automatically --
compared to the effort it would take to stop breathing
I cannot find an answer
in the middle of my utter blankness of being.
And look at that! a longer poem than usual
lies upon the screen begging to be corrected,
printed, punched and filed with the
Nothing makes me sadder
than to watch the hundreds of men in
or San Quentin
listening to Johnny Cash sing
I Walk The Line
Full grown, hard-faced, gentle-faced men
beaming pleasure and joy as
I Walk The Line.
What we do to men in this civilization is far worse than death.
put them out of their misery
too many of them enjoy. --
are trained to enjoy.
LETTERS TO MY DEAD FRIENDS
Collectively, you dont give a shit.
I can feel that as clearly as the absence
of any word at all from you
since you left, one and all,
with a hedge of permanence that none of us,
the living ,
can know -- at all, or even guess of -- at.
No wonder the foreigners who try to
speak spiritual in our language have so much
trouble with the little words -- in English.
Even I dont know, for certain,
when to use of or at or about or in.
Its just that there is some perceived connection --
and who know from accuracy?
Too much of life is inaccurate, dead is Firm!
Only the fringes ever believe that anyone, anyone at all,
ever comes back from the dead.
Who would want to?
Not I of the itchy nose, the creeping rash,
Why would you want to return to a body?
that becomes more and more a plague in itself
with each passing year?
So it appears I havent yet started the letters, a letter, or really
even thought who Id like to write to -- or why.
Leah? Allan? James? Linda -- the more or less faithful? Theyre so lucky
to be gone, I cant believe Id ever hear back from them, even if I
wanted to, even if I could.
So lucky to get out of this exquisitely gorgeous -- when the sun shines --
whod even want to turn around and look over their shoulder? --
on this, at this nest of disasters?
POEMS ARE LIKE DEAD FRIENDS
Fundamentally, essentially, one doesnt give a damn about them,
theyre just gone
Why waste even the mental energy
As one begins to perceive all of life is just a waste of mental energy.
When one merely saw and reacted to the world --
no waste of energy there
and at night you were tired and went right to sleep
in that dead weight world from which you came back
to such a feeling of emergence from death
that it was very relaxing to find yourself once again sensitized to
all the dreadful awareness of being alive.
Will it ever come up again?
Everything in the Universe,
And then some.
Am I a weed or an ornamental?
I think of the sumac:
a noxious weed in Pennsylvania,
a treasured ornamental in Seattle.
All I know is the inside of my head,
the corridors, the twisty walks,
the dark avenues between light speckled trees.
I stay up late at night,
get up early in the morning
and do nothing.
Getting old, dying, as we speak,
seems much more of a joke.
In Los Angeles: June Wayne lies dying;
in Seattle: I spend my whole Saturday on a picture puzzle --
except for the twenty minutes, Charles Emerson, next door,
examines my hurting left foot. And then we speak of Whistler,
look at the astonishing work of him and his successors.
and therefore did not go to visit Ann, 83,
whose left leg is even
gamer than my right one.
The light fades, it becomes too difficult to match
the colors of the pieces. Another day is all but over.
Will there be more uncontrollable giggles from Anderson Cooper,
recording the news of Depardieu peeing on a plane,
or more hypocrisy by the Republicans
strangling the world
in hypocrisy, by denial,
once again pushing the rich to tax and tax and tax and tax
NOTES FOR SPS HELPERS -- JULIE AND CHARLES
Shiva-purna does not like to be petted
But he loves to be brushed:
100 strokes a day -- preferably
while he is eating his dry food.
Ive set out two cans of cat food,, but hell probably only eat one.
He likes it in very small spoonfuls -- always on a clean plate.
A stack of little plates is
above -- in the first cupboard nearest the fridge.
He has one small portion of kidney already cut in a little plastic cup
on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
Keep is glass Starbucks cup filled with water
Theres catnip in the jar on the counter,
next to the cat food.
He likes about a spoonful poured over his whiskers
unto the floor
He actually thinks the whole floor is his dish
but I like to use dishes anyhow.
You can keep the door to the hall propped open with the shoe
toe toward the wall, heel against the door
which makes it wide enough for him to get in and out.
Or you can keep him in and shut the door.
I left two of the windows open for air,
but not wide enough for S-p to get out.
Ill be home about 5:00 pm on Monday
Jan -- and a Namaste from Shiva Purna
if anything alarming happens
my cell phone # is (206) 683-7254
I have lived a life of forced labor
up to the point where I will be
forced no more.
A man shall not use his penis
other than for the purpose
of creating children.
was let loose of rape charges today
Rich, powerful, white and male wins again.
Delightful all afternoon conversation
with Kathleen Rasmussen.
Went through most of my history
and some of hers
from marriage to India.
Absolutely astonishing how much information
has dropped from my brain --
mostly names, names of
all those movie stars, etc.
who I once knew, worked with in Hollywood.
Who were they? Who was I?
Trying so hard to fit in --
to do as they did. To reach fame
and a steady state, knowing what to do
and how. One never does. June died on Tuesday.
Maybe while I was writing this.
If life is anything at all,
it is constant trial and error and over.
I got up in the middle of the night
to read my bio
to find out who I am.
I could remember almost everything listed on:
and a few things that werent.
I felt I was probably an interesting woman --
and wondered who this flesh and blood,
naked body that waltzes around with me
always, everywhere was -- is.
Seemingly indefatigable, infinite, perpetual,
she goes on and on and on, even
when I forget about her.
Nonetheless, Shiva-purnas claws hook deep into flesh
of arm and thigh.
So I must be here someplace --
bleeding a little,
listening to his plaintive meow,
wondering why I have spent all
this time recording
Right now, Irene, the Hurricane,
is approaching the east coast
where more than a few of those
interviewed on TV are choosing
to ride it out
-- and why not?
It about sums up what one does with life
as weve known it, as life comes to be after 50 --
a strange milestone to choose at 77.
ONE AT A TIME
I have an eight or nine foot, upright,
potted geranium that straggles up a wall.
Tonight it has, again, sent out one
itself rather scraggly.
One At A TIme seems to be its desire.
One would think
that such a
could do better --
at a time
it goes to the trouble
TIME, THOUGHT AND DEATH
Whats the point of thinking?
Im going to die and take it all with me.
The world is full of cognition.
And, for the most part, no ones
going to knock on your door
and ask you what your thoughts
on defining or elaborating the universe are.
Unless you made an effort to join the coterie
nobody cares what or where your brilliant conclusions
might lead. Youre just a cell at the edge, and, unknown,
not even annoying.
Lying in bed, thinking of June Wayne
being dead this morning -- that harsh, quarrelsome voice,
so full of humor, wanting her share of the credit
for the solution -- vociferously,
wanting vengeance on those who denied her
her rightful place in the coterie
All that passion -- within the white hair.
stilled on a pillow.
She was an enabler, but also about the best mother
a lad could have.
Mountains move down into the valleys
and fissures thrust up the seas floor
ONE MORE STEP
One more step along the exposure of corruption trail.
ATF, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
under origram Fast and Furious
Has been encouraging the sale of guns
-- for years -- to the Mexican drug people
whom, we supposedly are fighting,
But this is a little peculiar. I have been hearing
as asides, not very interesting, addendums,
theres some reason to do it, etc
that we continuously sell guns, arms, planes, explosives, bombs, drones,
you name it to our enemies in times of war and in times of peace.
To arm the enemy is one of our if not top at ;east longest ongoing
programs -- less then run out of ammunition to play our game
before we are ready - for what Peace? Quiet?
Our natural element is hypocrisy.
How many stories like this can I hear again beforeI, too, become a Ted Kozincsky
a madman, frothing at the mouth blowing up our own
shooting the heads off of our own
infecting our citizen and the Guatemalans with
When does one reach maximum dread? listening to the radio is
like a race between your good sense and a realization, that
perhaps we live not only in the most powerful country ever,
but perhaps also the most corrupt -- just because we have os much
more opportunity for corrupt and greed.
How lucky I am to have,
as my living room,
the old Chapel,
where the sunlight glows
through the stained glass windows
and where I can walk alone
in the dark of night, 3:00 AM
on the polished wood floor,
with naked feet
and quiet heart
How lucky I am
to recover my strength
and capacity for
progression, for ambulation
on the smooth as silk,
flat as air floor.
pacing pacing, very upright,
head high, knees not aching,
I walk through the night,
observed only by Shiva-purna,
and the dim view of
the finger touching painting
of God and Man concealed
under the beige pail on
the ceiling of the silent Chapel,
barely lit by two lights on
the dimmer switch.
Shiva purna purring
into the night
where I live, above and beyond the
LISTENING TO JOHN PILGER
I am stuffed with the brilliant thoughts
of brilliant men, right up to the gullet,
and few women too,
Like a goose, stuffed and ready for the roasting
but I dont even like goose, and Im certainly not hungry
What I have noticed lately: Julia Assange is gaining weight
On bail in a beautiful house, fed, Im sure, quite abundantly,
no longer walking with giant steps and a backpack, through
the days and sometimes at night
eating at hazard, on the move, thinking, doing, seeking through
transparency to achieve Justice, great strides along deserted
highways,continually buffeted by his own hacking and the
company of hackers, hes change the world yet.
Articulate, handsome, poised,
he needs freedom from his ankle bracelet
Theyll win just by the shackled burden he bears,
condemned to a life of stasis and inaction
will he be able to change the world?
I certainly, fat, lethargic, unmoving,
chilled do nothing outside the stuffing of
my own brain.
No comings and goings of cars,
This is not 10 Downing Street,
It is Labour Day --
reserved for the Peerage.
Lessing thinks one writes for balance
somewhat like I discovered some time ago
that I read detective fiction for order.
When the daily chaos becomes too disordered, or
too ordered, static, un-moving, blank,
then one reads for a little plot and an
order where one thing happens after another::
orderly, balanced, significant, measured,
moving, -- but not too fast.
Especially when one thinks the world
may end day after tomorrow
on the 10th anniversary when the world,
as we knew it, ended not too early in the morning
-- with one plane into a building
and then another. I laughed and wrote an
amusing e-mail, thinking it was all a joke:
planes didnt hit buildings -- unless the pilots
were awfully dumb. With one eye I watched,
the building with its small puff of dust, with the other I went on typing
inconsequential letters and then a second plane
hit the other building. I declared myself
finished with the task of walking my neighbor Vikrams dog,
I went back kitty corner across the street and never stopped
watching TV the whole day through
in the public living room of Tate-Mason
where I lived at the time
and as usual had no TV.
Ten years later I live in the old nunnery. The sun is fiercely shining
ant its taken me all this time to balance the world -- just a
little -- via writing, like Ms Lessing.
And now I begin to meditate on the idea, the wonder
of how one figures out how the world needs balancing,
and to do it through writing. Its a tradition in some families,
I think. But not in mine. My family, my mind
has always been a jumble right up to now,
where, just a few months ago,
I assigned myself the task of doing nothing whatsoever.
Sit still. Do nothing. Dont even meditate.
Play jigsaw puzzles if the fingers want
something to do -- and let the mind do nothing.
It will find its own grazing ground:
Nothing what so ever -- and the mind will
create and stabilize the world
THE STARING DOWN OF THE NOTHINGNESS
(reading Musicophilia by O. Sacks again, P. 130)
The staring down of nothingness
becomes my occupation.
Each new thing has to replace what is
and therefore becomes something
in the process of becoming visible.
So glad I inadvertently saved for later
the elegant task of reading books like "Musicophilla"
by Oliver Sacks and The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
for when I am forced to read slowly enough
that I can indulge in the pleasure of really
trying to understand them.
Most of my life I have been too impatient to learn
anything (or much); now, I have no choice
-- as when the possibility of "perfections" presents itself --
who am I to choose not to pursue?
Even if it takes the rest of the afternoon,
or the remainder of my lifetime --
cest la vie.
Once in a while Im just a dreadful person.
I walked thru the door and started down the steps.
Aman ascending, with a woman (maybe older)
behind him asked if I would hold the door.
I said Yes, but youll have to hurry.
He said in a very pleasant, amiable conversational tone;
So youre in a hurry, not sarcastically or tauntingly.
I held the door open as I started to descend and he continued to saunter up the steps.
So with my arm stretched fully back, I said rather harshly,
Thats not hurried enough. and let the door go free
and plunged down the steps. Whether or not he sped up
enough to catch the door I dont know..
I felt rather mean, later, on the bus, which I ended up being early for.
I LIVE IN THE LAND OF DEAD POEMS
I live in the land of dead lyrics
I no longer have enough energy to give birth to poems
They die still-born
half way between my brain and my finger tips,
someplace at the edge of my ribs
where the those thin bones overlap my heart.
They cant manage to survive in a world
gone mad with destruction, hatred,
greed, looting, killing, misinformation.
It was ever thus.
they prefer not to manifest their words,
syllables, letters, blank pauses.
They lie in the intricate paths of grey matter
where they once took root and grew --
sometimes small and sometimes great -- and almost daily.
I now live in the land of dead poems.
Unprintable, unwritten, invisible, un-fully thought
A SURGE OF ENERGY
At last, once again I feel like sprinting,
screaming, down the street, releasing
the frantic build-up of unspent -- unspendable
When I was younger, I would, at times, run
out into the night, for a few blocks, a mile,
a two mile run -- and return, ready to sleep again
Now, I so seldom have that unquenchable driven,
-- like a broken dam -- feeling that I just lie here,
calmly, and savor it, then push myself awkwardly,
huffing and puffing up from the floor,
away from my jigsaw puzzle,
and write a poem -- about
ENERGY, TRANSPARENCY, NOTHINGNESS
Since Ive lost a little weight.
I feel lighter, not only in fleshly weight
but as if I were growing more
And it isnt the loss of weight
from the flesh, but the weight
of having to do, I dont have to
As if letting the sun shine through me
and nurture the flowers at large,
the earthy, heavy weight,
the duty weight
is weighing less, and the wheelbarrow
for carrying it correspondingly
lighter, empty of flesh, weariness
You can see the sky through the mesh
of my bones, the weightless flash
of the blue sky without the weight
Its hard to believe,
but I think
I am losing my mind.
Have lost. It
has finally happened.
No thoughts, no hopes,
I think -- when I think --
about this blue-green fragment,
whirling, for light years, through emptiness.
And, just today, they discover particles hurtling
faster than the speed of light --
beyond meaning, the presence
of anything else --
how to communicate?
-- with no brain left,
no power to think,
no passions to endure,
Perhaps it is amusing,
to look down
on this little old lady
(not even frail little old lady)
riding this ball
with no motivation,
none what so ever,
across space and time.
What does she do?
Sit at her computer
(in the nude) -- trying to figure
out, to sum up, deduce,
at least one reason
to be alive.
that the body
has no need for reasons.
It simply is
-- without reason,
owning only a fast-fading past.
Each day as I check the Internet
under Jan Haag
to see if I am still here,
I bump up against
-- is it dozens? --
who share this sobriquet enough
to appear beneath my name.
And there, also, I am
fairly enough represented
I can still say:
more than most.
Represented, quoted, referenced,
But then, Ive always disregard the critics,
never read them,
them to read me.
So, here I am naked,
at my key board,
saying nothing about nothing.
Itchy, glad the heat works --
if just enough --
in this castle of my dreams --
just enough to keep me
almost comfortably naked
on this blue ball whirling, humming
The stars shine, the wind blows,
night becomes day, and day night.
Earthquakes happen, floods, famines,
lots of noisy wars between
humans who, way out where I exist,
have nothing better to do,
if we are
out here in the inky
-- except when the sun shines --
the twinkling stars.
They, the humans, out here,
seem to know what they are doing.
at all sorts of interesting,
or not so interesting things:
fucking, feeding children,
earning a living, loving (sic)
just putting in time,
riding this blue ball through space,
day after day
Our din disturbs
Trying to wash the shadows off my kitchen floor.
The floor got cleaner, but the shadows remained.
The square-handled drawer pull and the corner of
the stove refused to erase.
They remained. Will they be there in the morning?
STEVE JOBS DIED TODAY
STEVE JOBS DIED YESTERDAY
And I spent yesterday and today, dabbing tears from my cheeks.
I had no idea I as so in love with that man, admired him profoundly.
Loved his gadgets and machines since the moment I fist
bought one of his heart stopping machines in 1984?
to today when I live in a studio where I have three Macs,
one in the closet -- the first
One, a Mac Mini, on my poetry writing desk
a Mac Pro on my internet desk
Its the smallest generation around, you know.
1933 in the heart of the depression,
who was fucking in those days? wanting to have kids?
only the dull and the naive.
The naive, like my mother::
sweet and gentle as a warm cinnamon roll
She may not have even known, until after me, that
kids came from fucking.
I was the 3d of her brood -- no doubt she had began
to suspect something..
But then, there I was on a December afternoon, Right around
tea time, she said. Meaning about 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon.
But then, again, I think my birth certificate has some other time on it.
Same date, but a different time.
Ill check if I can find it.
Anyway, Juleen said we were the smallest generation,
the least for a year, ever. Juleen knew everything.
I didnt think about it much --
like most things: What did it mean?
Most things dont mean much.
But then at 77 I was lying here thinking
how I always seem to know, meet, run with
people a half or a whole generation older or
younger than me. Few seem to really be my age.
Then I remembered this dictum of Juleens from
long ago, and I put it together with this other fact
to realize it was a fact, not just a guess of my imagination.
Most people, who seem to be my age, are older than I am, or younger.
1933 was a skimpy year for kids.
And what does that mean? Not much.
A few fucked, but not many, they were too poor to do
anything else at night.
Is there an essential relationship, marriage, bondage
between beauty and evil, between the beauty men
(humans) create and evil?
Not between the beauty of nature, which often seems
harsh, maybe evil,
i.e. the living must feed on each other to go on living.
Some of the most beautiful, human-created things
seem only to come into existence by the crushing
practices of exploitation, cruelty, forced labor,
could they have been made any other way? The palaces,
the palatial gardens, , the grandeurs of the catholic
church -- could it have been created without the
terrible enslavement of children, little boys,
did it all come about because of the criminalization
of pleasure that christianity set about from its
earliest days, the enslavement and degradation
half the human race, of women.
All the grand mansions one sees in Marin County
built on the darkness and brutal encounter between
people ho were originally free and then enslaved
by the Industrial revolution
people entrapped in slavery so that their masters
could build palaces, Almost all of the most beautiful
architecture, mans most monumental creations all build
on the blood of people poorer than the hiring classes.
Is it worth it. The north american indians lived a life
in harmony with nature, and built comparatively little.
must bricks be cemented with blood to create grandeur?
Why, at some point, cant the billionaires of empire
simply decide to charge less of their products, or
pay more to those who actually build them.
Why do we want to live alone in castles, instead of building
castles for everyone. why build the most beautiful on the
bones of the most shoddy, who, in todays terms,
needs a billion dollars? Who needs capital
in financial institutions instead of bread
and vegetables in the mouths of worker.
I DIDNT WANT TO TALK
Three guys and Morbark the chipper --
and all was quiet again my 9:36.
A few trees and many branches
nothing left but a scattering of golden leaves
on the lawn and on the walk-ways
and greater light in my studio
Wild rain drops tap on the windows.
How lucky I am
to have stayed up most of the night
playing a jigsaw puzzle
of marvelous complexity
listening to the wind rustle the leaves
of the hundred year old trees.
She loved both of her exotic husbands
and adored the child of each
But she had a life to live, and a living to make
she moved into anthropology
and entrepreneurship, taught
founded several schools and
a discipline or two
tutored, coached, disciplined
and did not live to
see her first born become
of the most powerful country
the world has ever known,
and though black man to
governed it. gently
under the pressures of the idiotic, rabid
BASTYRS BASTARD SYSTEM
I may sneeze my brain cells
right out through my eye windows
What did I eat (For Christ Sake!?)
Is there mold here in my castle eyrie?
Or did a damned mosquito get up my
nose? Tickle Tickle Tickle, run run run.
often mistake personability for healing
talent. And at Bastyr there is no mechanism
for dealing with this mistaken judgment.
cant get back to the good student -- or --
the bad one. You takes your chances
with your health and your sanity
the Team Care System -- a kind of
institutionally sanctioned naiveté --
almost unheard of, almost unendurable
a time when we know all abilities are not
installed equally, not transferable osmosisly
but because it is free or near free:
the old people suffer! Not quite fair
and not quite encouraging to the best among us.
Itch! Itch! And certainly not fair to those of us wanting to
scratching or limping or sneezing or weeping
with frustration while, with each new symptom
loosing more and more faith in the healing profession
with nowhere else to turn, the wind blows
around my eyrie, howls in whistling swathes
through my disintegrating brain. Cest la vie.
Is it? Letting them play doctor on me -- when even the best dont seem to know what they are doing.
I have itched most of my life.
But not with the ferocity of these
itches at 77.
Before it was in the sun or out of the sun,
Or clearly declared allergies like -- mangos --
Now its from head to toe, all over,
and even when I suspect a food or a substance,
its very hard to persuade myself to truly abstain --
except from mangos. I am so used to denying myself
one of my favorite fruits, that I hardly notice anymore.
Nor do I notice the not doing this nor that for fear of
the resurgence of the itch,
And it changes.
And I change and the only constant seems to be
wanting to die, but peacefully. No muss, no fuss
Only the not often spoken about it wish that
it would be nicer to be dead than go on suffering
And yet today, along with the violent itch,
the urge to create again seems to have surged
Moving through life at a slower pace,
in youth there was never enough time;
now there is eternity.
The itch dies down,
to sleep forever is a pleasant thought.
Tonight is the night when ghosts and goblins
ride; I feel less and less like joining them.
Death is a thought in the livings mind,
the dead are obliviously, sweetly asleep.
The pressure in my head is all built up
My only relief is sleep, sugar shock.
I live like a leaf lives.
Buffeted only by the wind.
nothing more, nothing less.
I live like the leaf lives.
Colorful in the fall.
I thought of sending you a poem --
but this C-note may bring greater music
to your (right now) heart.
Hang in there ofavorite child -- youre doing excellent/fine
live/work -- this black rose (from my bottle tree) signifies
both death and new beginnings!!!!!
Have another lovely adventure with Jere.
The world has truly gone crazy, but lets keep dancing.
Namaste, love you ever so very much,
Did they change all the numbers?
I cant find the doors.
The windows are all sealed
so you cant find them.
Or -- for fresh air -- open them
Imprisoned in a world
of our own construction,
well -- no doubt -- die at the exits --
lunging over each other to catch the bars.
SHE LOST THE TIME
She lost the time, I lost the room.
We shall all meet again at the shriek of the bell.
The cats ears twitch backward and flatten
The pupils works.
His eyes flash green and settle down to bright.
Whose images lie within the beams?
Whose will never be cancelled.
A range of demonologists:
Do what you think is right according to Republican doctrine
no matter how it turns out..
BORDERLINE ALL MY LIFE
Ive been borderline all my life --
and never believed it.
Seems perfectly normal to me
to be me and downcast.
Besides, at 77 Ive tried it all
and none of it has not changed an iota
What they offer seems so not me.
My mind becoming saturated with
the Roman Circus that is the news.
At 77 one can stand perfectly still
and watch the accents shift.
A linguistic curiosity becomes
completely visible. Today it was
sepulchral -- from my sister.
She pronounced it as new arrivals are
incline to pronounce that highway
in Los Angeles: Supple--vida,
instead of the way we purists know
to pronounce it: S pul ve da.
I notice these kinds of divergences more
and more as the years go by
as I go to class with teachers
and students from around the world.
So, in the old days, it was du odd dun al, but
today, according to the Turkish Physiology Prof, it is
du o den al --
much more like it is spelled.
And what are some of the others?
I must have met 5 or 6 in the last
few years, and each such a logical
mistake that one knows immediately
the correct word,
but we born-English speakers,
know the old, odd and different pronunciation.
Centuries from now they will speak of the
accent shift in the early years of the
21st Century, and its thrilling to think
I get/got to sit here and watch -- hear it.
but not very well
falling into sonambulence.
Blankness, the perpetual
desire to sleep.
No dreams, I have no dreams
All is gone into trance or fog.
Was it the chanterelles I ate this morning?
To die, to become brain dead over a mushroom.
Back to The First Word.
One of the most interesting aspects of growing old and befuddled,
is the increasing difficulty one has telling the difference between
The Truth and Fiction. Is it for real? -- the disappearance of the mind --
or am I pretending? Things seem, from inside, as they have always been
Except, on the outside one continually knocks over this and that,
runs into things, grabs the nieces young arm to sort of balance
ones self, when, if walking alone, one is still perfectly capable of
mutating along as one ever did.
Giving into necessity feels like giving into pretense.
And yet one notices this feels like a certain lack of compassion
for ones self. So what if you need to hang on to someone
to walk? So what if you sleep all day and part of
the night? So what if you cant tell true north anymore
from going south? Friends drop dead and you
dont care -- another certain lack of compassion there.
Yet you cannot but envy them --the quitters --
for going gently into that good night.
Whats the point of going on? -- when you have done all
you are likely to do.
This my dear is the threnody, the epitaph,
the conclusive statement.
Good night Sweet Prince, et al. The air
weighs heavily on my chest.
I SIT HERE
I sit here -- Blank face. Blank mind.
Empty brain. -- preparing to write a poem.
Back in the saddle again,
out where a friend is a friend.
Nothing to write about, nothing
to love, nothing to hate, emotions blank.
So, why write? Because I have
nothing else to do.
Not writing, I wander like a ghost: insubstantial,
without motive, passion, curiosity --
except, while writing, a little curiosity appears
to see how this poem turns out. A noise!
A squirrel? Maybe a cat? My cell
phone falling off the cats brush --
where I put the cell to weight the bristles
down into the glue to make it functional again.
Anns tooth fell out. Indeed, she said:
several teeth -- two of hers and
two on her dental plate -- fell out.
She thinks the remaining stubs are rotten --
I think they'll poison her system.
If they are extracted, she fears
the blood thinner she takes daily
may kick in and kill her. Slow death
by poison? self poisoning, or fast death
by stroke? by shock, by bleeding to death?
So, she says shes going back to bed and I
shouldnt come visiting.
A scraping sound. Again. Again.
Has Mary gone into the landscape?.
Jere is in Turkey, no one is
in the hall. Very alone. Its Jill
scraping the trampled leaves from
the parking lots black top with
a shovels raspy edge. She dumps
the black leaves back into the leafy border.
Trees still there. No sun, though it rained through
the night. I change my vinegar pad from the end
toes corn to the scrape on the second toes knuckle.
Then again -- nothing to do but proceed with the poem.
Its not raining now, but the sun is hiding its face.
This morning, from Cape Canaveral they shot
the Rover off to Mars. Going almost 5,000
miles per hour, itll take less than a year
to get there, while I sit, here laboriously typing,
trying to make poems out of an itching, scratching,
picking, scraping, changing-bandages life -- to keep
this body in shape for no known reason.
Still, the mind refuses to ignite any motive or desire.
Cest la vie. Back to bed where sleep will erase
the itching, the will,
A UNIQUE CULINARY DELIGHT
I poach 3 small pieces of frozen Alaska Cod in some water,
put on the domed lid
(which did not come with the small frying pan)
and a few minutes later, set the timer for 10 minutes.
When I remove it from the stove, I cannot get
the lid off the pan.
I try to wedge it with a knife, I try to pry it
with a screw driver, I bang it about, hit it with a hammer,
run cold water over its crown, knock it some more, then
VIOLENTLY IT IMPLODES.
The dome becomes a seven-pointed, concave, immovable star.
After calming my astonishment, I knock, next door on Charles door,
He wakes to my urgent knocking and is as astonished as I,
having never seen a Revere Ware lid of imploded design.
We laugh and laugh and laugh -- discussing my thus-far-rituals
to release my dinner. No dinner.
In the morning, I follow his suggestion to boil a large kettle of water,
then plunge in the pan+lid. Not much happens,
but, as I tease it with a screw driver,
I see it begin to slip.
I can hear it hissing, which means, of course, theres now air in
where there was vacuum. More screw driver, more knife
wedging of the edges, a few more blows
with the hammer.
But, even though I have seen it slip with my own eyes, it will not separate
lid from pan. I re-boil the water, plunge the whole back into the kettle
and quite quietly the lid slips from the pan,
several of the fish pieces slide
toward the kettle water. I rescue them. Shive-purna the cat
and I eat our breakfast fish. Enjoy, I say,
youll never have such a vacuum-packed,
poached delicacy again.
Having some time, and the sun just rising,
why dont you write some poems?
The horizontal beauties of the dawn
leave me with nothing to say.
With silver sun streaks across my retina
I have to turn away and enter my own
morning nostalgia. Charles did identify (create)
for me the pinkish, reddish goldish orangey
color of the maple leaves that I have, for years,
called cerise -- until the day I had the misfortune to
look up cerise and find it is from French cherry
and actually means dark purplish red-- no doubt a Bing.
My cerise is lighter, like a mixture of pie
cherries, red on the outside, gold on the
inside baked in a pie, delivering
the pinkish, orangish, reddish, brilliant,
pale, incandescent color of leaves amalgamating
into the foliage of a not very big tree.
Quinacridone is an an organic compound, a red powder,
molecular formula C20H12N2O2, which, as a pigment: Quinacridone-
Coral plus a touch of orange, is as exact a match as an oily substance
can get to the ephemeral beauty of the autumn maples --
this year, 11/30/2011.
The wavering drives me crazy.
Between feeling better, not much
different, the same and feeling worse,
like a badly launched ping-pong ball --
all over the table, the court, the spectrum --
nothing maintains. One day the knee feels better,
the next it hurts again. Even hour by hour, it changes
back and forth. The American way of coping with this is
to distract ones self. And, sure enough, when I am busy busy
or actually going someplace,
and frequently when I am with someone,
it doesnt hurt, doesnt bother me, seems gone
-- or rather -- I can gambol about as I please.
Is that the lesson? Just go along with overriding your
feeling most hours of the day. I didnt used to call it that,
but thats what I did. It is the prevalent style of the Western World.
But Ive grown weary of distracting myself, keeping busy so I dont notice
the pain. I dont want to live that way anymore.
Works maybe too well.
Then, every time you relax, up
shoots the pain, the itch, the agitation, the urge
to scream. From now I want to stare it in the face,
to make it go away by close, impertinent staring until it
dissolves. Tomorrow, Im 78, so this is the last day of this
torment, this agitation. From now, stare it down, until it dissolves.
I learned that from the gurus: Stay with it until the question disappears.
RASHES AND PUSTULES
Rashes and pustules, a skin so dry it cracks,
so old it stretches, sags, doesnt spring back.
They say its our biggest organ. Im here to say
it doesnt last all that well. I suppose as envelop
its doing its job as well as can be expected. But
one, this one, had higher hopes, especially since this
nonsense of health food and exercise came into vogue.
Eat Right! Live forever! Without so much as a tempering
thought that, maybe, one doesnt really want to live forever.
I certainly dont, at seventy-eight, with all the breakdowns of
memory paths, of skin resilience. Its a pain in the ass to get up
every day to stare at the decrepitude, hollowed out eyes hooded
with folds of flesh, the brain slipping like mud down a flooding
incline, not exactly protesting, but refusing work when called
to remember this or... Why should I? seems to be minds
attitude. Soon youre not going to want me anymore as
you go off to enjoy comfort in your bed under the
sod or as an ash blowing in the wind, and leave me
homeless -- a bodiless, floating, consciousness like
the blatherers have been blabbering about since
they snatched language from silence, The
Word from the void. I see youve
made a ginger jar -- in blue and
white, no doubt. Jump in!
Enjoy! Its better than an urn, especially an unearned urn, which
is all your tempered, ernest efforts earned in the cosmic scheme.
Pink lake, blue mountains and a sky of
Quinacridone-Coral, illuminate the dawn.
Im torn between writing the words and
leaning into the cold air from the open
window to watch the incandescent show
pebbled with great swaths of blue buttermilk clouds.
behind the heaviness of the blue clouds in the light
of the delicately blue sky.
The clouds of multiple forms begin to lift,
now just far enough to appear to be balancing
on the very tip of Mount Rainier
an incandescent streak of brilliant yellow pink
rest just above another mountain to the east
delicately tipped, but not illuminated.
White smoke in the foreground and light
steaks from the still hidden rising sun
cut angles across the clouds from beneath.
The north face of Rainier becomes veiled
in pink, and the tiny, but still seemingly round
sun rises, the incandescent ball growing bigger and bigger
My eyes, having witnessed the rising sun and its
overwhelming penumbra of glare, now see
blotches of black -- then purple on this
illuminated computer page -- now, again, green flashes.
Have I scorched my eyes to witness the suns rise?
When I close my eyes the suns round figure with wings
glows bright gold. When I open them, the winged figure
is pure purple outlined in green against the white page
on the computer screen. Have I injured my eyes?
I palm my eyes and wait.
The sun has risen behind the clouds
leaving a streak of gold beneath dense grey blue.
My eyes with my hands,
at one time,
seemed to be extremely coordinate.
Now they function like comrades in
gang warfare -- outguessing each other.
So it seems
that, though non-gluten has alleviated
a number of my problems,
and some dimwittedness, theres still
enough evidence of spasticity
to continue eating
the dry-as-dust tapioca hamburger buns
and (actually yummy) fluffy
Sounds au contrare but, in fact,
groats is quite deliciously
I want the atmosphere to read my intentions!
Ive been here, outside in this atmosphere
for seventy-eight years, how come the
world cant read me? comply with my desires?
Is that what happened to the trees? Moving around,
they became so frustrated that nothing seemed
to pay them any attention, especially not
the orderer if the universe. So out of a fit
of pique they decided to stay still, to root down
into the earth, wave their branches only in a high
wind, beat the rap that the atmosphere seemed
intent on trapping them into. Who created all
of this anyhow? And how flagrant, nasty for it --
them -- something, someone, to just shove them
off on their own, after being bought into being
for who knows what reason? Abandoned here
on the steps of enlightenment, meant to lead to
consciousness, but which leads only to raging
anger and frustration. How come the world does
not learn? Why do we have to do all the learning?
They just invoke their rules, their laws, the way
things are and we have to make the best of it.
Unfair? You bet. Seventy eight years and nothing
in the universe seems the least inclined to notice
my wants, desires. Or if it does it only, quite slyly,
seems to want to thwart not only them, but me!
Why cant the atmosphere read my intentions?
why do all things fall apart, the center going
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Have you ever tried a raw diet? Completely raw --
even sitting naked at your table?
Well if you do, youll soon find out that all fruits
and vegetables, including fish and meat, turn out
to be mildly sweet and, maybe,
thats how its meant to be. Were, maybe, meant
to be mildly sweet, quite bland toward each
other, mirroring the bland sweetness of an
all raw diet -- derived from jungle and/or ocean.
Maybe, the spice of life turns out to be an add-on,
maybe, dangerous, maybe, toxic, additive, fatal.
Choose carefully between the raw the reasonable.
Everything tastes not so different than a rutabaga.
Just as we came naked or
bear-skin clad up out of Africa, so all our culinary
delights might have originated with the rutabaga, or
sunflower seed butter on brown rice --
barely a mouthful of tastiness from indivisible nothingness.
I can see my monkey-soul licking the bowl smacking its lips.
Be very careful about creating works of art,
you may have to live with them the rest of your life.
Living on the inside of the envelope,
I love a chaos that resolves itself into an order,
a nuns order of nothingness and somethingness.
Only recently have they (Lisa Randall) began to wonder
how nothingness become somethingness,
PARTICLES ACQUIRING MASS
I thought particles were something,
but apparently they are nothing, no
thing whizzing around so fast, they
probably dont mind being massless.
But we theorize. Rather, Lisa Randall
(beautiful and smart) theorizes. Speed
is a quantity as well, or a quality, a q/q
with spin/speed enough to all but shatter
light. Things that exist and dont exist! --
amassing! -- until they are spun around
in the great CERN Hadron Collider, Then!
Ah then! they cast an existence, for a fraction
of a fraction of a moment and there, right
there! perhaps they acquire mass. One thing
they are looking for is the Higgs Boson particle,
which some holdover from the evaporating-religions
era, hath dubbed The God Particle. If you can hold onto
the idea of a particle so evanescent what do you need God for?
Will we find HB only after it has acquired mass? or is its essential
nature to be mass-less?
ding dong bell
pussy in the
There remains the leaf, faded now,
and a little tattered, with the spot
of Quinacridone-Coral and a touch
of orange, brilliant as the moment
Charles dabbed it on to the now-faded
hue of what I once thought was ceris.
Autumns fade, pass, the trees strip
down to nakedness, but for the
occasionally very small balls which
may be crabapples or miniature apple-pears.
We live in the middle of a garden of exotica,
ordinary looking to a passing eye, but subtly
infiltrated by unnamed, rare, and intriguingly
unusual species, with many different maples,
but none of the small brilliantly pinkish-gold
ones that hurtle the mind into space returning
without a word (like cerise), but with a
description and a treasured, disintegrating leaf.
The day after the shortest day of this year.
The light fades,
the leaf has faded,,
but the spot of brilliant
(the words is too beautiful to give up)
Having passed through spring and summer
and, now, autumn into
its vegetative substance
and all that will remain,
soon, is the remembrance of the flaming
which will suffice until another spring
TRAVEL WRITING or WRITING TRAVEL
When I was very young, but at last
old enough to make a life-plan, a wish,
construct a dream, it was:
I wanted to live every place in the world
It, my desire, has remained the same for more
than half a century -- over three quarters of a century,
if one can assume I was born with it:
my wish to live everywhere in the world and write.
And if you make the same kind of metaphorical concession:
I have succeeded..
I have lived many places --
up to the day the Twin Towers were toppled --
and then, canceling my reservation
for Albuquerque, New Mexico on 9-12--01 --
have gone nowhere (by plane) since.
Occasionally I go a little distances
by motorcar or bus,even train
But dont mistake me, I have no fear of flying,
nor of terrorists, just a profound disgust at
the over-reaction of American polity
to, at last, being struck by the kinds of terror we impose
on others, almost daily, around the world.
The Iraqi, for instance, who had nothing to do with the fall
of the Twin Towers, where 2 or 3 thousand Americans were
killed (by somebody else) and where we, in retribution,
over a decade, have killed more than a million innocent
Iraqi -- innocent until we forced them into being the enemy.
I dont fly anymore, simply out of a sense of proportion.
But having already been to many places by 2001,
I can imagine the rest. Based on my
actual experience and test-tasting
many countries and lands. I can
read or take in a movie and feel
the very feelings I might have
during a visit.
I know what it is like to walk
among the thorns of the desert
or the volcanic ash of the Deccan,
the stones of Dabob Bay, or the
high reaches of Nepal, gazing on
a parallel view of the Himalayas.
I no longer have to go Madagasgar
to know the harsh sun
or the cold winds of Iceland
would feel like scouring
my skin would feel like
if I were there with my boots on --
rather than in this computer or
at that book.
The human imagination can
take you a long way,
concretize a view of the world --
make it tactile.
So many people hurt me so deeply when I was young.
I think it must have been what turned me off people,
made me prefer to be alone, whenever I had the choice.
Vicious, childish stabbings, rejection, by the ton.
I itch so badly at this moment, it is misting my eyes.
What to do? Where to go?
I want to scream with fear and frustration.
I guess it is time to shower
What do you do with remembrances? -- so vivid, so poignant
that they bring tears to the eyes -- itch, blood to the head.
Like the blade of an axe, they cut through consciousness
wailing this happened! that happened! -- and there it is --
lodged in my visual memories. Bright! Vivid! Animated!
Past! So what do you do with its quinacridone vividness!
Stand by. Life happens. The next minute goes on and
on, happening, building images by image, anguish by
anguish, terror by terrors. Fear of the faint of heart
develops to trembling, a crucifying horror of living
each day with life and death. The best thing to do
is remain unconscious. Dont remember your vivid
memories, dont wonder at their meanings, at their
duration, their vividness, their persistence. Open
handed. Let them all go, like the doves of peace.
Let olive branches scatter, litter the land. Forget
meaning or delight. Dont let mind play with the
past, dont let it play with the future. The present
is enough. Quinacridone Coral with Orange is the
vivid color of small fall trees. I used to call them
Liquid Ambers, but Falaah corrected me. Now
they are maple trees. If you learn too much, you
learn nothing is stable, nothing real, nothing ever
right or wrong, everything moves, changes seasons:
light to dark. Dark matter dominates. The old Christmas
carols get remade, more swing, rhythm -- add the drums --
forget, always forget -- what it used to mean. Means nothing,
nothing at all. Memories, vivid neon memories, live only in your
brain -- uncommunicable, outdated, without meaning, without intent --
kinks in the grey matter. O the noise! the noise! where once there was music.
I didnt know I was making a vase, said the potters spinning, molecular wheel.
I arrived on the scene half way through.
No one thought to call on me until the third act.
By then I was old and collapsing, and plagued with
indifference. But such is life. Nothing arrives until it is too late.
Who was I going to blame? When I could see only myself in the mirror,
and behind me -- the universe dropped off into a black hole deeper than
antiquity -- where all the beauty of all the accomplishments on earth
wallow as they are forgotten in time. Time is an illusion, none
of us want to dispute, nor live by.
The need is to live
Seventy eight years ago this month, she was born
on a kitchen table at the edge of a small
town, in a live-in-garage-until-the-house-was-completed.
The land cost ninety dollars, and the house, when
completed, cost ninety dollars as well.
Later, not too much later,
After one season of chrysanthemums
and one season of daffodils
her family moved, a mother,
a father a sister,
a brother --
and her birthplace
became a taxidermist farm,
leading her to speculate many years
later if she was stuffed rather than born.
And for her seventy-eighth Christmas, she dined
with eighteen others, around two tables in the home of
her niece who served a standing rib roast ($300) that had also
needed to be divided in two to fit in the available pan(s).
It was succulent.
The family was only ever a kind of background
noise for me, something, even as a child,
as a pubescent child, I guess, to separate myself
to differentiate myself from, uninteresting,
unavailable to me, I was uninvolved in their dramas,
which interested me not at all. It was those
magical flashes of the bigger world that seduced me.
Like Odysseus Sirens, I wanted their love,
not mothers or fathers. Sisters, a bit. Until later in
I saw her become more family than any
other of the blood relations: insular, self-referential,
locked into a code she wrote, and later
for with alcohol and mother-lode possessiveness.
All lived double lives, and my goal, even
before I knew it, was to integrate my life with my
with music and art and adventure,
drama and exploration. I wanted to be at one in
that world, but they all became
One life at home and another in the world, remarkable
chameleons, who shared their, what I
would call real world, only with colleagues, and their
world of public relations only with
each other. Very peculiar. It seemed a Solomon's
solution to me, and so I ran like a
swiftest animal on earth -- and seldom came home to be
stifled, smothered, under a vast lexicon
of unspoken rules. Even to this day, I wonder how my
niece: a world class astronomer manages
to divide herself between the insular family and the endless
cosmos. It looks as if Ill never
to know her as a colleague, for the moment her mother
appears, she is absolutely devoted
to standing by her, defending her, if need be. But then again,
I see, too,
that most scientist are perfect examples
of the schizophrenic, and content to be one person here and
an other there in the real world, in the
cosmos, where, as the raison detre and singular goal of the artist
is to join the within with the without:
the endless cosmos seamlessly to the doing of dishes, some
say: The making of bread. As did
Rumi. Except he used chickpeas as his main metaphor, cooking
chickpeas, endlessly, adding hummus (and
to the metaphor. So I left home, and even though I now live all
but next door, seldom visit, and then,
preferably with only one chickpeas at a time. For the rest,
I spend my time making hummus,
amalgamating the mundane with the divine, making a single
precious stew of the perceptions
By now, I have the face of my father,
stuck above a rather flabby womans
body, filled with hungers -- not so strong
a they once were. My father was a handsome
man. Im a handsome, woman with my clothes
on. Then, wandering, I begin to wonder: Why a
body at all? And, as soon as I do, I am on dangerous
ground. The earth begins to slip away beneath my feet
like the last stages of a severe rain storm, when the gurgling
(temporary) rivers run close and swirl around ones ankles. The
planet, this year, seems to be awash with violent rain storms. One
picks up the news en passant, 1,000 dead here, drowned, and another
few multiple thousands homeless, injured, inundated with their own misery,
homeless. And in many cases, with master floods, even groundless, the very
ground they were used to standing on, is washed away in the muddy stew.
How does one even begin to feel sorry for them? I didnt mind
traveling the earth, wandering, when I was younger. I liked to
walk down strange roads in India, strange and unknown,
by myself, rhythmically walking, wandering, musing,
sitting beneath a tree munching a ripe mango,
before I became outrageously allergic
to the crisp pine taste of mangos.
And then? Then it was time
to grow old, to turn
SHAPES AND SIZES
Shapes and sizes and corporeality,
what an odd thing to be in a
world of wind and sloshing
at my feet so
he is there, until I stand up
and am surprised to find
I am not cold, nor wet.
Neither by river
I know not where.
I begin to get a vision of my own life
within this tower. The wind howls,
my shoulders are cold, my right
wing itches. I think of sleep
I long for sleep. Is that
what the angels in
heaven do? Long
for sleep, and get it?
Wander wander wonder wander,
like the great grey goose in her mud
pies snapping off and snapping up the thin
green shoots in their early morning succulence.
Broad-footed, short-legged, hiding the secret of its
flight. Round and warm and snuggly friendly. The Park
Department instructed us not to feed you, not feed you for
your pleasure, nor for ours. We change your habitat, your world,
your cosmos, your world view. Imagine what it would be like, like
your ancestors to fly across a planet, unevenly half green, half blue,
green trees, green plains -- everywhere green with young growth, blue
with ocean, then suddenly see spots. Spots here, there, rock, mud, torn
trees piled to pyramids, hacked out caves, dirt pathways, like spiderwebs
between. Intriguing at first, interesting,okay, not alarming. There had
always been cliffs and mountains -- on a much vaster scale, tossed
about at natures whim. Fires. Earthquakes. But now that odd
new, two-legged creature was abrogating the role of
nature. My consciousness has gone deep inside,
like the gooses belly, warm and soporific,
without awareness of its food supply.
Without conscious design or
need to meddle. Inside it
doesnt know the
There was a time to wander,
now there is a time to sit still,
broken only by the sound of the traffic on 5,
the airplanes overhead, the gurgle of
the heating system, the sound of me scratching
my itches: the arm, the head, the ears, the eyes.
The eyes make hardly any sound, because
I do it gently. No matter how badly sight itches
we all tend to believe it -- feel the need to nurse it.
The most necessary of the senses!
Sound? Sight? Smell? -- now thats gone too.
And its hard to know if taste went with it.
Touch has become a good deal less sensitive.
It scratches the back and the head, it touches
the keys on the board of the computer.
Its a total (or sketchy) awareness, not only of
whats here and whats gone, but the blank spaces
between, the knowing, simply, that it is different.
Why? How? Will it endure? Will the present
possessions endure? Will anything come back?
When you used to get sick, there was an expectation of
Now, sick is sick. You may go to a doctor, but
you dont expect much. Like the shamans and charlatans
of old -- they do the best they can,
and you do your best to believe them.
I am full up with remembrances,
I dont need anymore.
Wherever I look, behind
that steel door in the brain,
or out across the landscape
of Lake Union there
is the present and
All in my possession, all
to be taken care of like
a ward of the state,
My estate of 100 million
images, remembrances, thoughts thunk,
feelings felt, emotions eviscerated.
Times passed and
A chaotic or
systemic pile of
since my exit,
at tea time,
I go through phases,
like I remember my father
going through phases:
his olive oil phase,
his eating the tops of the vegetables phase,
his not telling the truth phase,
his not knowing the truth phase.
My father was not an engineer or a mechanic,
he was not a doctor or nurse,
not a professor or teacher --
though he became a teacher, later in life
for young salesmen of china and glass,
I guess, for I never went to his classes,
seemed unimportant to me,
but to him there were certain things
he had learned along a mostly nonacademic way
that he found it his pleasure to pass on.
But for the most part
he just beee-d, a little bit philosopher and a little bit poet
moseying about the world, wandering through life.
I wonder how much time he spent thinking
about me (or my brother, or my sister) as his ward?
He just bee-d .
He loved to walk in the early morning
and I did, too,
to touch on the history of this building or that tree,
to reminisce about the shingle mill,
his time as a boy in the woods.
A daughter couldnt make very much out
of the Pot and Kettle Club,
but I immensely enjoyed his sparks of wit.
The day, in later life, he stole the pepper mill off his own
breakfast table, admiring it, saying, we had one like it at home
I dont remember what I did yesterday, but I know I enjoyed it.
I put his grapefruit tree, the one, to start which, he had spat out
the seed one morning, probably in the 50s or 60s of the 20th Century,
Its grew and grew into a lovely little tree, which I kept dwarfing,
as it was passed around by us in the later days of Phillips life.
And, when I volunteered at the Conservatory in Volunteer Park,
I gave it to them and they were pleased, as they had, at that time,
no citrus in their splendid greenhouses.
I have discovered that not much happens,
that is, almost nothing happens out there in
the real world, all happens in anticipations or
reports, speculations, or pronouncements of single
participants in the game of defining what happened.
I read history or fiction, watch movies or my own mind
and find nothing jibes with my own experience or remembrance
of things present, past or future. Nothing I write says what I mean,
its all a decoration surrounding the facts of the matter, but never
the matter itself -- which existed in a moment of time but exists no more.
Each thing I make is an experiment in taste. Im rewarded by its
Copyright © 2010 through 2015 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE 2011 POEMS
BY JAN HAAG