BY JAN HAAG
FROM THE 2013 POEMS
THE JANUARY POEMS
Saliva begins to drip from my mouth
long lines of dribble, with translucent knobs
at the end.
Sunshine today. Walked in Arbo with HS.
Margaret here to do papers, I slept.
No reason to do more.
Who teaches the boys to be full of so much hate?
to turn their wild animal urges into violation and rape.
Can they simply not contain their savage impulses
ginned-up by hunting, heat and chase?
Kill the wild
innocent deer, strangle the rabbit.
Hunt the fox into submission,
twist the wings of the birds until they cry.
Where are they to find gentleness
if they kill the women, the girls,
their sweet infancy
in the womb?
To die while making love is "An Angels Death" --
but perhaps you need an Italian lover -- or two --
to know that. And,
of course, it is a masculine image.
No one has ever recorded a woman dying
An Angels Death.
I cant get sex out of my mind.
Isnt it the oddest thing
human beings by sticking one part
of a males anatomy
into a females
fount and -- in spite of the shrieks,
or maybe because of the shrieks,
call it pleasurable --
and, hit, miss or manipulated,
produce (months later)
a kid or
Whats even stranger: to call
the act sacred
call it obscene
call it beautiful
or name it
I think of the spitting and shrieks
of my female cats,
We dont make a
matter of morality
They just do.
Men are earth's neediest creatures.
After awhile, one gets tired of playing
nurse maid, ego buoyer, sexier than one feels,
impatient to get onto the really interesting things
-- like the Paracas Tapestry -- while they get on
(unknown even to themselves) propagating of life.
they use this one! is the perpetual cry
from the female
here now, said that guy -- and he was right. Leonard was
honing my cleverness, wit, witticisms, my elegant, contrived
opinions that made me shine, made me incandescent in his eyes and
my own. But he, like every man, was never interested in me or my vision,
works of art. I was his entertainment and he was mine but he
didnt have the
simpatico to tune into my torments, my craving to learn,
listen to him, to wrench his thoughts from his skull and implant them
own. Mostly, as with all the great loves of my life, I wanted to be
I was a cannibal. Never asked to be myself, I didn't know who
I was until my seventh decade. Only now am I unfurliing.
Mostly I love the funny things I wrote -- accidentally,
and with intensity enough to create a Big Bang,
which, when read a decade or two later,
made me and, if I was lucky, made
roar with laughter.
but mostly only
Cest la vie.
Im about to explode into 66 million pieces
over the onset of clumsiness, etc.
I can see how people work up
the necessity to kill -- usually
themselves -- via the sheer
irritation of itch and
an inability to remember.
I have great sympathy
with 26 year old Aaron Swartz
I stare out over the mist-white Japanese
and wonder one more time what is it
On the news: two 15 year olds took the
life of two men 20 years ago --
and the one
the story is about has been in prison ever
since. Life without parole.
And the years
tick by. In his cell he has plenty of time
to think about it. But,
like most thinking, its done up front.
The rest of the 525,600 minutes of the year
slip by in
activity, that one could call meaningless,
therapeutic, swift, slow, almost
anything but the realization
moment, too, could end up in a lifetime of
My desk lamp has burnt out --
not the bulb, but the whole contraption
just wont turn on
after years of good service.
A failure of the whole grid of 21st Century civilization?
Or dust on the connective tissue?
Try some WD-40.
Before you mourn your daughter,
who was shot to death by a maniac,
or your son,
who was crucified by a different kook,
listen to this ad:
We must sell you something before you can learn,
from the ubiquitous NET,
tragedy or happiness -- or take your next breath.
All the world has suffered the alchemy
of being turned into
Hooray for Capitalism! Its even more effective
than War for transferring wealth up the scale,
up the stairway to heaven, using up the
cannon-fodder of the lower classes,
looking forward, eventually, to
keeping the earth,
The cat, in the greater scheme of things,
has not yet appeared this morning --
nor its meow.
Under the chair, over which the Chinese fabric is tucked and hangs down?
In the closet on the junk, a layer or two deep, of shoes, plastic bags,
the fabric of delicate blouses pulled from their hangars?
Out in the corridor?
Howd he get through the closed door?
Instantaneously, a quick rub of my ankle with his cheek.
Good morning! Good morning!
Shish shish, shush
Want some turkey?
No comment, but a quick slurp, and a crackly chew
of his dry food.
I meow again -- and again for good measure --
always wondering what I am saying in Cat --
a language I was not taught
A LIGHT FOG AND A BAG OF BONES
Shiva-purna and I shared a bag of bones --
a great big turkey all to ourselves,
and now, light at first, the fog has
obscured even Mount Rainier.
Now he is stretched out, white paw propping
his head on the Shiraz rug, which, though
faded, scarred, is still a lovely harmony of
reds, beiges and blues.
My mind has become narrow, my thoughts
so restricted, thinking about only fog outside,
beautiful grey blanketing fog with the two cones
of parking-lot lights illuminating it and themselves.
Why is that Jan? you seem to always have a vagabond
mind, wanting to absorb bits and pieces from all the world.
Questioning this, and then realizing I travel nowhere anymore.
I stay at home almost as much as does the imprisoned Shiva-purna.
The desire to travel, to wander has almost dissolved. And what is left?
Only remembrances of what I have seen, where I have gone. And today,
sitting at home, I wonder about a mind too narrow. Does living, being human
require a desire to travel, to walk about, wander continually to see new things?
Is that what set the original humans in Africa on their course around the earth,
an inbuilt lust for seeing the rest of the world? Setting out due North one day,
they walked on through the jungle, up the mountain
and down, across the dry
New things to see, new things to talk about, laugh, cry. Language
was born. Enough of elbowing each other, pointing. A word was
caught here and another there to represent, to talk about here
and there. And on we walked, new colors, new trees, new
vistas at sunset on the heights, new feelings flailing
in the ocean at dawn, and because the heights,
the ocean and the vista were born, needed
to be identified, given names, so came
language, grammar, spelling,
of everything, moving
on, always moving
At first human-
knew deep in the
of being alive
to move, to
be -- to remember
so they could be everyplace
at one time. Humankind, the
wanderer, seeing what was over
the next hill, around the long curve
or the short, something new every
day recorded, by default.
One writes, one reads,
it makes no difference,
language is the fountain
of life -- make the most of it.
One potato, two potato, three,
potato -- there is nothing but
what one sees, day after
day after day.
Write your poem and see more,
day after day after day after day
while trees crash in the forest
I feel like a particularly long, stout-legged
spider as I thrust, both with knees and elbows,
to get up off the bed.
-- Where's my web? --
The President is off being inaugurated in the other
Washington -- I hope it is as beautifully sunshiney
I have slept now for two full days, full of
infinite tiredness and the flu.
The head is
socked in like a rain cloud as, in the real world,
the fog drifts indolently away
from the two
golden-pink cones of the lights in the parking lot.
My ears crackle, begin opening from
too much rest.
My eyes remain as misty as the day.
The eczema seems to have slipped
in the dark
(as did these last 3 lines which, by now, 1-31-13
are known to be not true).
The eczema remains --
Life has fallen apart for me.
To write a letter to David Abram
to thank him for
is akin to the idea of
writing a letter to God,
our invisible God who isnt there
and isnt listening, but
everything else in the world.
About to exit the time frame of the first
month of 2013 -- and all is different
because of reading BECOMING ANIMAL --
like an entire Codex of another language
always there and never suspected --
or seldom suspected --
for why else do I talk each day
-- who knows and understands
and listens and returns the favor,
probably more aware of
what is beneath the
than I will ever be.
What is there is there;
you merely have to turn
THE FEBRUARY POEMS
It takes a great deal of time to do nothing.
I keep wanting not to be finished with this,
this feeling of flu and dense head
I dont seem to be getting too far in any
Garbage in garbage out.
I love the parallel phrasing of
our (new) ubiquitous mantras,
and soon, quite soon
theyll be gone.
As I move on into
everything seems equally
to speed up
to creep by.
But now, beginning to feel well--er than I have
in a long long time.
The mind almost clears from time to time.
The walking is almost fine.
Beginning to not want to overeat.
This morning, sitting at the computer, trying to think who
I used to be able to call at 4 - 5 - 6:00 AM.
We were both early risers.
Now, alone in the early hours --
perhaps Ill contact her.
She might even like some of the poems,
and will surely tell me if she doesnt.
I HAD NO IDEA
I had no idea I was going to clean out
the freezer compartment of the fridge
Its been so full I couldnt tell what was in there.
Dozens of kidney bits for the cat, all sorts of bites from which
I had cooked too much, even breads: uneaten in a year.
Fabulous bits of fruit -- figs and persimmons, blackberries
frozen in ancient times -- so delectable I didnt want to
eat them cavalierly. But when, if not now,
is that cavalier going to ride by
Enough food for several months. The vow has been taken:
First thing each morning, defrost something,
and eat it! Not too much.
Refreeze it if you have to. The world
hasnt come to an end yet. The stores are open,
no smoking bomb craters.
But thats not the real reason.
No, the reason is that when I began to cook,
I learned how to cook
for a family of five.
Its too much,
even with Shiva-purna,
who doesnt eat much and
is finicky to a fault --
compared with my
THE SUN CAME UP
The suns up, brilliant yellow,
reflecting all around, the east
faces of the tall buildings,
sitting across the lake,
sitting in the clouds
radiating from the hills,
installed in the mirror, reflecting the windows,
reflecting the clouds, reflecting the brilliant
light from the lake.
I cant see it all: Some of it I am in front of --
the angle of the mirror --
some of it causes me disbelief, the shining city
on the hill.
Amazing how big windows, endless sky, reflecting lakes,
big mirrors cause -- to reflect and re-reflect the world.
The heater hums. I hum. Except for the hacking
cough, I may be well, well-er than for the last few years.
The brain seems to have wakened again.
Im a poet.
I FEEL SO LUCKY
I feel so lucky -- to have the flu
no call on my time or energy.
Nothing to do, nowhere to go.
Lie back in an almost coma.
Dont worry about waking,
At 80 (almost)
Id quite forgotten how to amble
slowly through a day.
Pick up a letter, read it,
sigh, think about it, perhaps try
a draft -- or be satisfied by
for an hour or two.
You wouldnt think the whole thing (humanity) could
happen by chance,
and yet, Where did I put that spoon?
can be the dominant question of an
hour or --
The mind remembers the distinct placement of it
(whatever it is, was or will be). There,
on the counter, or in the fridge,
or drunk, perhaps, like
Lethe water, without
And nine months, or years or moments later, a
colossal discovery: Not there! What do I
now do with this shadow of certainty
-- location --
that lingers deep in my
mind, perches on
What was it that constituted my early feminism?
When did it start? How did it come about that
way earlier than the Feminist Movement, I
was already guarding myself, in 1958, from
becoming a housewife?
I graduated from Holy Names Female Academy
Was I a feminist then?
Then came Burnley Art school,
Then the Art Institute of Chicago.
Did I become a feminist there?
Certainly by the time I was at Reed, 195?
I was already deeply feminist.
My mother successfully had her
own beauty shop business,
before she married,
But I never thought of her as a feminist.
In Chicago I was reading Ayn Rand.
I read GONE WITH THE WIND.
If ever there was a feminist --
there was Margaret Mitchell.
And, of course, I remember
again and again --
all of him,
-- was he that much a feminist?
And there was Dimitra
I was an iconoclast.
I certainly didnt want to
marry that nice young man,
nor any young man.
I was going to DO IT
before I ever got to Reed.
I woke up this morning,
for the first time
missing my brother,
my peculiar brother.
Why was that?
Ah yes, the Post Office,
the demise of the post
office, calling up
what it meant
as a place of
and those who were hard
to employ elsewhere,
was a veteran
so it had served him well.
And now it was going to die
and where are those
dozens and dozens
going to be
at a decent,
if not munificent,
One more casualty of
hatred for women
--% of PO
employees are women,
and --% are blacks.
who truly I
havent thought of but a few times in 80 years.
So how did I get to be a feminist
so many years before Steinham
and the ERA?
I always wanted to be
like Brando in
ON THE WATERFRONT,
wanted to be a wife.
I feel like Im gestating
as I sit here in dumb,
almost silent peace,
gaining weight via
an inability to
-- though not
as bad as in
pre-non-gluten days --
no desire to move.
Let it all disintegrate.
My stomach gets rounder --
containing what kind of fetus?
Sit in stillness.
Sit in dumb peace.
Put your full attention on moving from here to here,
never mind it is only five steps or three,
a multitude of disasters lies hidden
with no clue as to what
will cause chaos
or for the
earth to do something
other than circle the sun. There is a
website that claims it spirals like a wormhole
through the Milky Way. Believe what you wish. Let it
be. Let it be -- a sing-along for the whole cosmic chromatic chorus.
Too many answers and not enough
questions, unanswered questions.
Thats the difference between the poet
and the scientist:
the willingness to delight in the mystery,
to go on delighting in the mystery,
even after the question
disposed of by certainty,
to keep on seeking
right past reason.
Ive stopped living in someday.
Someday has arrived -- foggy.
An asteroid hit us yesterday,
more are expected. And one
is going to pass by -- close --
just some 17,000 miles
Cosmically speaking, thats
a very close shave! But its
not going to hit us or
harm us, probably won't
even be visible, especially
to this somewhat absent-
They said thered be a
little sunshine, today,
maybe late afternoon.
Coffee for me now,
not much, coffee a-
gain at 10:30 with
again at 1:00 with
And then at 3:00,
or there about,
while I take care
of the lilt -- or some such,
We started this yesterday
with WINE AND IRE
from the 2012 POEMS
and then I played
the puzzle, new
one with sea-
Another 4,000-passenger cruise ship
crawled into harbor after 5 days
of no shit, the toilets were
down with the power --
the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH.
Now theyre thinking of building another one.
A meteor streaked across the Urals in Russia,
shattering glass, injuring about 500.
I lead a cats life.
I eat, I sleep, I even
Locked in a 5th
floor, I lead her
around by her guilts.
Im warm enough,
brushed enough, pampered
enough, even at 4:00 oclock
in the morning, or at
midnight or at 3:00 AM,
a hundred strokes. It feels good.
But its not running in
the fields, wild, with the wind
in my ears, a mouse in my jaws, free-
dom in my heart. She knows that:
my lover, my caretaker, my petter, my putter,
my purrer, so I play
on her sympathies, pluck the strings
of her heart, give her a blue-eyed stare, a wet-nosed
nudge -- once in awhile.
I watch my behavior with horror.
The headaches have begun,
yesterday, or maybe the day before.
Havent had headaches in 20 or 30
years -- Now: there they are.
Either something wrong with my brain
or my eczema medications catching up
with me, or diet. OR the world,
which is going, has gone, crazy at lightening
speed and to thunderous depths.
Pistorius created a pair
of legs for himself, then murdered the woman
who loved him. A meteor bigger and brighter
than any known in humans lifetime,
and closer, flies by, breaks up, fragments. More predicted.
Dont forget the 26 killed: 20 kids and 6 teachers,
and yet the gun-nuts dont want their freedom and their rights
impinged upon. A world run by vicious ex-heros may be enough to kill us all.
Watch the news and weep.
WINNING THE OSCAR
Pistorius fills me with horror.
The very thought of him makes my scalp tight
and my hair rise. Beauty and the Beast, Beast enough
to kill Beauty.
Where did he think she was -- if not beside him in the bed?
And if not there? Where? Someone in the toilet?
Why didnt he call out? Or did she call out?
Lured him on, reeled him in --
So thinks the black widower spider.
He took the time to strap on his legs
-- one has to do it carefully --
to rise, to balance, carefully.
It was actually easier to run with his blades on,
then to stand or walk slowly. Yes, slowly --
he almost tripped on his way to the bathroom,
but the small weight of the gun
seemed to balance him. There was no sound,
but he knew she (someone) was in there.
If it wasnt her, where was she?
Shed been here, talking, she had said...
Did she really? Did he have to kill her?
The anguish he felt went straight through his thighs,
right down to the cups on the blade sticks.
Hed won the Olympic Gold Medal --
that was worth something, wasnt it?
He was somebody. Who was she? A tart? --
who didnt love him enough to -- what? love
him. Marry him? Make love with his legless body?
Where was she? She hadnt even been able to sleep with him.
Why had she looked him up in the first place if not to fuck him,
to have some of his fame rub off/in as sperm floating in her body.
Should he charge her? -- like one charges for a fine horses fructifying?
It was true, she was so beautiful he hadnt been able to believe his good
fortune when she walked through the door and held out her hand. Like the
legs. Oh, yes he had been able to dream of having protheses, legs, but he had
never, as a boy dreamed of having blades that could run like the wind, maybe
faster than the wind. Hed felt the wind in his hair too much, too distractingly, so he
had shaved it for swiftness. In the mirror he was attractive, very attractive, the head,
the set of the neck, broad, developed shoulders, the chest, but he didnt, as usual, really
want to think below that. He was proud of his legs and his movement, but he didnt want
to think about it. Hed thought enough about just exactly how wide the blades, how long
they should be, tested their spring with his hands and very strong muscles. But when
hed tried to make love, there was no counter balance to his arms and his hands.
He slipped -- and that shamed him, even though she smiled and said she
wanted to proceed. Could he believe it? Could he ever come to
believe that he had stood, that he had run, many many
times by now: Run and Run and Run and Run
And Run, and, of course, he had won
because he was lighter than the wind
on the blades. He could climb
mountains, he could spring
He was Oscar, like the golden
OSCAR, he could do what
no one else could do.
It didnt matter
that no one else
would ever give up
his legs to jump higher
buildings. He had no choice.
They were gone before he really
felt them, knew what they were for,
had always been balanced on sticks and
crutches, had always been different, but
no one dared to mention it, because he was
stronger than most and his blades were sharp.
And she? What had she said? His legs were on now,
he moved across to the bathroom door, and knew he
would later explain: he thought it was an intruder, another one
whod come to challenge, to laugh, to accentuate his difference.
He cocked the gun and walked quietly. The blades were
so much quieter on the carpeted floor,
quieter than footsteps.
I feel so sad and so horrified,
almost like seeing, understanding the finger
of God touching down:
Dont touch the way Ive woven things!
The man was born with attenuated legs for some reason.
If you tamper with the nature of things, it will (seem to)
come out worse than what you live with now.
Be very careful of making things right, of changing
the way things are. You add one more note
and there is a gigantic explosion
which neither you nor I could foresee.
Stare full face at
the angry God of the Jews.
Consider their careful way of seeing things.
Hesitate to stick your finger in. Keep it out of your eye,
out of your nose. Do not try to alter the way things are.
Sit quietly. When alteration time comes, it will come without your
help. Weep for those parents who decided to cut off his legs.
They did the right thing. But who knew the end
result. Nurture the faith of understanding
the way thing are. Perhaps they werent
meant to be any other way.
Stand still. Breathe
Let it all be.
The good and the bad
Beauty and the Beast.
The way things are.
Make the magnanimous gesture:
Die or go mute to prison.
No one can explain the intentions of God,
the Universe, the molecules.
One can only bow ones head and say:
This is how it was meant to be.
Or -- continue running in the wind at top
speed until the planet says Enough.
Dont outlive the mythic proportions of your
tragedy. Dont make a bad bargain with God.
Go, go now.
Angel or Temptress.
You have debts to pay. Go now.
Do not be another blighted OJ. Go now, Pistorius!
as one of those who would be president of the USA,
most powerful nation in the world ever, said.
It turns out he was pursuing her,
pestering one might almost say --
wouldnt leave her alone --
until she gave in and agreed to a date.
Dont let that escape your attention.
A date, a point of time in history.
Im sure he was eager
enough to receive his gift on St. Valentines day.
One doesnt choose a pagan ceremonial date by accident.
who was enjoying a friendship
with a very interesting young man,
or half a man,
was put on the spot
-- and raced to the toilet to consider her fate.
He didnt even know, I am sure, that she, a woman, was
planning on a fate of her own. When she said no, he was willing
to grin at the gathering crowd on the edge of his fate: Botha, about
to be arraigned for murder; his brother Carl about to be arraigned
for a 10 year old murder -- all, so far as the citizens of the USA
knew, done in secret. Was it the secrecy that appealed to him? --
he knew he, too, would not be charged -- or was it the danger he
knew lurked in him? for how could a man without legs, not be
susceptible to rejection? The wild ride of a Try -- and then the re-
jection. No doubt, the great beauty of his love also ensorceled him,
encouraged him to offer her to the gods as a sacrifice to his own power of
will. Listen, all ye who stand about and gasp, I have defied fate
already. Could you imagine I would not do it again. She must choose
me as I chose her -- otherwise what is destiny for?
A dark view of the human race -- it might almost be true.
All we have to do, as in the phase now common, is to
See how it all plays out.
Cest la vie.
Beware, O woman, man has hated thee for thousands of years,
and now as it reaches a crescendo when at last it is really feasible
for woman to control her own destiny -- i.e. to choose if she
wishes to continue the human race or not -- life has become a
dangerous place to be.
Should she let life go on and be extinguished by his murderous bombs,
or should she, herself, choose to damn it at its source?
When I was a girl the saying was: The best things in life are free.
now it has become: Theres no free lunch.
But then again, lunch was never much of a prize.
Not only women, but animals, too, get a bad
rap from the male of our species:
He behaves like an animal.
Ah, if he only would
instead of spending his valuable time on this earth
inventing scatter bombs to inflict
maximum harm and suffering on his fellow
THE MARCH POEMS
THE SUN IS TOO BRIGHT ON THE SCREEN
The sun is too bright on the screen,
the warmth narcotic on my back,
the head as dense as a cucumber,
LOSS OF INTEREST
Im so glad I was interested in everything!
most of my life
until I lost interest in everything --
Oh, I can still read (not like I used to)
but without that passion I had all of
almost unto 80. An interesting title
still sparks my need to read
but I can do without
Now everything boils down to mild,
and I mostly do it because
I used to do it.
So sleeps the brain. Bye bye.
Buddhist Blank Mind.
TODAY IS THE DAY
Today is the day of my usually forgotten
I seldom think of him,
a little more often he comes to haunt me
in one guise or another:
How lonely he must have been.
But he didnt really seem lonely.
Obnoxious once in a while, and
a time or two in a whole life in-
teresting, amusing, charming,
he wandered alone
on this earth --
deep in his studies,
Making bad decisions, going
off by himself, without even an
attempt to invite anyone,
let alone me.
I wouldnt have gone.
I didnt even go to his funeral.
And yet, as I recall, we had a
When did it end?
Today I gave Vikram my grand old ancient,
not opened for many years, Sanskrit
dictionary -- the Monier Williams.
Delightful to see him pouring over it.
I hadnt even thought about it for 3? 4? 5? 10?
years, and suddenly it was great fun to realize
it had a home to go to. Today it was
Vikrams fathers 90th birthday,
and he had come to help
me prime my computer to automatically
forward all incoming email from my UW
account to my gmail.com account -- as
one day I shall no longer be going to classes
each term. But not just yet. How I loved
having that dictionary! -- a gift from Julia
Fenton, after John died. Who knows who
had it before John. But there it is acquiring
itself a lineage, a legacy as all the interests and
passions and must-haves do in a long life.
Here today, give it away tomorrow.
The passion to possess dispossessed by
the passion to be rid of STUFF,
the clutter of ones life.
UP & SEEKING ORDER
Watching INSPECTOR MORSE
on You Tube.
Put a little order in my life,
watched them be
Involved, but not too involved.
Imagine movies! before
Actually waiting for
sweet potato to bake
for second breakfast.
Burning, of course,
But not too bad. Trying
to get down to one
I like the English rain,
the English manner of speech.
The English manner:
cleanses the brain.
Makes everything seem possible.
Makes life seem possible.
with a sweet potato
in the oven.
Eager to awaken the brain
get on with it.
Whatever it may
The burning, the aching, even
the itching, a little bit, have
calmed down -- some.
is moving to prime time,
Monday through Friday.
A pity, he so lit up
Too bad he couldnt do
both. But even at 34,
media, Im sure,
with overwork. And on the
bright side, to learn that
Rachel Maddow is the
most listened to of
all the anchors, and to
realize that Chris's shift means
a whole shift in American taste.
Fewer bully-boys and more
Rhodes Scholars, more brains and
less brawn, more good conversation,
less B-S, less question and predictable
answer. Indeed, Real Conversations about
what affects us all: what we need to think and
talk about: Forget the Think Tanks, the Scandals
and the Polls. Show us what thoughtful people really
say when they discuss our current problems -- of which
there are plenty. Include the Rabid Republicans, let the American
people see them flounder and drown in their own insane, mental
garbage. The real thinkers, the compassionates can take care of
UP OR DOWN
I hardly dare put pen to paper, yet
theres already a whole book about
it: FRANKENSTEINS CAT, and
I just ordered it from the Seattle
Public. Im number 28 on the hold
I wonder if Ill read it once I check
it out. Reading is getting to be a bit
much for me; I fall asleep no matter
how intriguing the text. My little 1998
paperback Ballantine Random House
Frankenstein as a destructive agency
that brings about its creators ruin.
Hmmm. So thats what is said of the
famous, end of the last centurys
monster. Must Google and find
todays definition: Wikipedia (now
that Google is slipping) is about the
only source where one can be sure to
find everything) says: a creature pro-
duced by an unorthodox scientific
-- thats beginning to sound, at least
to me, more and more like the
definition of a plain old human
being. The whole notion fills me
with horror. I can only say about
whole affair, as I say at least once a week,
about being glad I was born when I was
born: Be here now, having arrived when
the old ways, the old thoughts, the old
humans still existed. Now everything
changed. Soon even body and mind
of everyone will be, willy-nilly, changed.
THE HAULING HOWLING BULL
Its amazing how
weve all been trained to the plow.
Work yourself to death.
Pull more than your weight allows.
Nobody extols restraint, backing off,
easy does it.
The American way is to do more than
is expected of you, so you can, at the
end of the day, fall down, push back
and be so tried you think youre going
Then -- and only then -- perhaps
youve done enough
for one day,
but dont sleep well either.
For tomorrow will come,
and it wont be
Haul and Howl
Hauling and Howling.
What kind of life
Some used to work hard so they wouldnt have to work anymore.
We work hard so well be noticed and offered a job to work even harder.
Upside down, its a fancy society.
So angrified I can barely breathe,
everything I hear, read, smell,
leads me to believe this is an intelligent
earth, and yet it seems incapable of learning.
has to do the same thing over and over,
50 times, a hundred times, and
still there seems to be no consciousness
there -- to say: Yes, I see what you mean.
What unsettles my blood so?
Id always planned to get out of here a long time ago.
Disappointed to still be hanging around with old woman
ailments, eczema, scratch scratch.
Still dont want company,
but I am very alone. No enthusiasm left
at all for anything. Fond of no one, fond of nothing,
wish I were quietly dead. Have no oomph, no real energy,
just not dead.
No inspiration. Even shouting at the cat.
Bed is best I guess.
Running around in my birthday suit, my legs
more or less working -- at last. Itch all over,
its coffee, I discover -- a sensitivity, I would
guess, not an allergy. Its intense and calms down
quite quickly. But it may end my bottom-of-the-cup
inspiration, poem-propensity, lifestyle. Ah, maybe green
tea? -- will it function now?
The sun is brilliant outside at 11:44 AM, energizing the world,
energizing me, at last! So what do you, O Muse, have to say for
yourself, leading an easy and almost dormant life after last years
steady pull? No wonder God was born with the All knowledge
attribute, otherwise, as for the rest of us, its a goodly trial to acquire.
Am I too weary to go on? Is there no point?
Lets give up now -- or in 1989?
Did my muse quit in the 20th Century?
No, I think she is wearing her goldilocks even today.
Outside the window in the glaring sunshine
the plaintive cry of the gulls is heard.
How can it be that such an overcast,
grey, moisture-ridden sound
Have they gone mad?
Now they are gone.
No more sounds
from beyond the window
Alone in the brightness of the sun
shining into my heart.
No more coffee.
Blank mind is a Buddhist concept
which you will never know until
youre 80 or thereabouts
-- when the synapses begin to
snap, the memory begins to
digest its most precious
possessions. At first youll
think its a mistake. The
memory is there to
hold, remember things,
not to forget. But once
you begin to achieve
an empty mind, a
blank mind, a
mind able to
will take a
into the future,
maybe even join
the Happiness Initiative.
Every morning I wake up,
turn on the radio
THE APRIL POEMS
Gray this morning, gray mind,
trying to arouse what I want
to do to triumph over what
I find myself doing.
Inertia is not only standing still,
inertia is persisting in what you are doing,
on and on to infinity, like it or not. Grey clouds
gather on the horizon, overwhelm what promised, at first
to be a bright day -- with blossoms and birdsong. Birdsong, so
it is thought by some, was the first language. Some languages, like
Sanskrit, trace their lineage right back to the tweet! Tweet tweet! Tweet!
According to the media there is nothing
but murder, mayhem, court cases, ac-
cidents, death, destruction, war,
hatred, prejudice, malice
aforethought and malice
in American life.
Occasionally you get a puppy story, rarer still
you get the story of 26 people killed, 6 adults
and 20 children
shot dead, point blank, in less than 5 minutes.
Poor children, theyll miss the rest of life. Theyll
miss thousands and thousands more reports
of murder, mayhem, court cases, accidents,
death, destruction, war, hatred, prejudice,
malice aforethought and malice after
The good news -- there must be some good news
somewhere about the 8 billion people in this world,
something that says delight, deliciousness,
happiness, glorious sun, beautiful flowers, accomplishment
of a billion goals, miracles of space flight, visitations to the
beginning of the universe, genetic definitions of our most
ancient ancestors, and
if we are really lucky and persistently listen to hours upon
hours of death and destruction, gunnings down and armings up,
well hear a few minutes about these things, the miracles of
being alive, loving each other, figuring out the genetic
inheritance of the cactus and the cottonwood
trees, of the Papuans, the West Virginians,
the birds that fly and the dinosaurs that
we can shift our attention, or accents and insistence
from murder mayhem and the bad news to
hear something of delight of what
our friends, neighbors,
lovers are doing
besides shooting em up,
acting the part of savage
beasts instead of
Forget the dead, lets nurture the living.
Nothing more grotesque than hearing
on the radio or seeing on the computer
that this mother or that cousin
cant rest until the pieces of
their loved ones have been
finally found and returned to them.
Why this hideous concentration on death?
Let the dead rest in peace or pieces,
let the living get on with the
miracle of being
AMERICAN LIFE II
Making a renewed effort today, too,
to not swivel the dials and poke the
buttons that release the sewage
from the radio or TV-via-
Trying again to live in the silence I
enjoyed for a decade or two, with no
radio record player internet or phone.
But its almost like the conspiracy
theorists implicate: giant magnetisms
in the air, through the air, around
the base of ones chair, soon to be,
if not now, threaded through the
brain: wires and waves and fields
where who knows who controls the
where my thoughts are no longer
my own, but fed by the FED or
whoever would want to nod in
on the busy busy busy inconse-
quential, never silent nonsense
of the on-going never-stopping
human mind --
which apparently needs the human
body to make it stop, cohere into
useful or, at the least, ordered
thought. The first step,
as the politicians say,
noting the ubiquity,
AMERICAN LIFE III
Odd, how things work out:
Years ago I made a plan --
or developed a desire
to work for awhile,
as long as I had
to to get
to live on
-- for a lifetime --
after that. And
then, when I got,
the good job, forgot
about it (began to think
of myself as a career-woman,
instead of a writer)
to the bone at AFI, probably never would
have quit if not at the hands of the rapacious,
bone-head Jean who wanted the credit, but not me,
for the DWW -- though I had created it, loved it,
nurtured it, funded it, (long before her foundations
drop in the bucket) and later her presence
as ruler of AFIs roost.
So she pink-slipped me and I got a spend more time with her passions press release and left --
without realizing, at the moment,
that she had saved my life and my dream and, later, maybe 10,000 poems:
odd how things work out.
Interesting to see ones self erased during ones own lifetime.
Then to realize at 79, erasure is the name of Times game.
And it matters not at all.
Who knows who rode the wind yesterday?
Aloe vera really makes the eczemaed ankles itch!
Aloe -- from Arabic alloeh meaning bitter.
AMERICAN LIFE IV
The giant purple-black bruise, that dwells at the top
of my leg where the belly fat meets the thigh roll,
is finally fading a bit -- its huge, like a slug or, if
you will, a miniature spent and dangling penis.
Hmmm. I think I got it by scratching too hard --
enough to bruise, aside from setting the eczema
on fire. What will I do for entertainment if one
day the eczema just decides to up and leave?
Aside from all the horror and distaste it inspires,
the annoyance and madding discomfort, itch, maybe Id
miss it. What a companion! it has been, more faithful than a
lover, more intense than a passion of the heart. And half the people
Ye grande legacy of 20 and 21st century pollution of our air and food
supply? Or has it always been with us?
AMERICAN LIFE V
Last night at my favorite time of a spring
evening, when the dark clouds hang
overhead and the sun penetrates
straight across under
the clouds, onto whatever surface offers
itself and the buildings glow in the amber
light, I glanced out the window to see the
two tallest buildings -- what used to be
an insurance building and now belongs
to UW (for offices) -- and the other,
above TJs -- brilliant in the light -- had
sprung forward, almost into our
front yard. I gasped.
Here before my very eyes was
an illustration of what my
neighbor, a painter (a
colorist, he calls himself)
as the occasion calls for, how
in a painting (and in real life)
the bright colors spring
the dark colors recede.
Here, right here, one could see that
these two bookend buildings had
left their place in the background,
the UWs somber orbit, and lept
into the foreground of the GSC.
A color theory I knew well,
and knew from him, was
manifesting itself with
I called him over.
He was duly
We spent another
couple of hours
discussing what was at
hand as the sun withdrew
along its nightly golden path
and calmed us into
Why does the sun put on
night after night, and
to rise again
on the far side of those two transformational buildings
which then stand dark and steadfast in the rising sun and
far enough away to be situated in the University District,
where the map places them,
on the other side of the freeway,
nearer the campus
and I go back to
The next morning only the shadows, silhouettes
of the downtown buildings are left -- not a light, not
a variation in the fog can be seen.
Grey all over,
all consuming grey
and a pleasant
AMERICAN LIFE VI
Antonio gave me that.
How many years ago?
It cant be counted in years.
How many eons ago?
My first -- what? Designer
scarf? Signature scarf?
I had a lot of scarves before that,
but didnt even know that there
could be such things, so expensive,
with a name attached
and the very unctuousest
-- or --
if you will, most unctuous
silk. This one, long and not
too wide was a Lanvin Paris -- it says,
gay with flowers and dots, blues, oranges
and purples. I think he said
he bought it at the Paris airport;
Orly? is it? Is it still?
I dont travel anymore, nor do
I collect scarves with or without signatures
(unless off the Free Table -- but oddly enough
scarves seldom appear on the Free Table.
That is not to say Never, I have two or
three Ive adopted, washed and maybe
worn once or twice.)
Odd how much I love the Free Table
and being poor. I was born in 1933
which means I am frugal.
The very depths of the Depression, and
though I have tried once or twice to
live extravagantly, spend money wildly,
I dont succeed. Not for long.
Nor does my sister, who has
far more money than I.
Our greatest fun is go
to a second hand store,
a previously owned store
in search of bargains
ending up with a
closet full of clothes
I never wear, but love
too dearly to part with.
I may forget my lovers
but I dont forget a
Antonio. Who was he?
The first man I ever slept with?
No, certainly not, but the
first one might call an
I ever slept with.
Up to then
-- I was 36 or so by then --
they were all boys,
or dummies, or...
Well, Toni was Italian.
Theres much to be said
for an Italian lover.
His taste in scarves
It was like dating ones father.
Ah, at last I had him to
Though I liked my mother much more.
AMERICAN LIFE VII
I sleep too much.
after one delightful day of
taking the ferry
to Bainbridge, meeting
Eva, lunching and
visiting Ansel Adams
portraits (he was
an acquaintance of Evas)
remembering I had been
there, to Bainbridge, before to visit
the Bloedel Reserve
with the volunteers
from the Conservatory,
felt energized, felt good, thought
I might take up life again,
but by the time I got home
again from a day of perfect
sunshine and friendship
(I may never see Eva again),
I was too exhausted to take up a
new life, a renewed interest in life.
When did life slip away from me?
I think it was when I finished
JOCASTA and realized
within weeks, that I
would do nothing
nor even ordinary
or energetic enough
I began to
breathe with an
in my chest. I was not,
I was never going to go out
of my way, waste my time selling
my script, my art. The only thing I can
do, ever, is make the art. The selling of it
is beyond me. And in these last years I really
couldnt care less. Become famous? Why? To go
to some parties that I would still feel awkward at and
essentially hate. To have others read my stuff or admire
my needlepoints, or paintings, or anything I did or thought
is a little like thinking I should be thrilled when someone notices
I have two arms, two legs and a head. My work is just me, it is as
free and essential as breathing. I dont need praise or recognition for
inspiration/expiration. I just need to keep my energy up to get it from head
to paper, from fingertips to wool -- though Ill probably do no more stitching.
Why do I write? -- it empties the brain, moves aside the present for the next thing
to happen --which is not more extraordinary than the sun rising again tomorrow.
And if it doesnt? Well, that happens too.
Good night, sweet Princess.
Lovely seeing Eva
What a trooper!
Viva la Eva!
AMERICAN LIFE VIII
one simply has to take
a rest from eating.
The belly is full and
the jaws are tired
All living things
are obsessed with food.
And for we elder
how red and blotchy
can the skin become
and itch, as if
no more than
Is it the unripe papaya?
The forced pace of work?
The damp weather?
Or the dry air in
AMERICAN LIFE IX
NOTE for JJHaag
Nancy Ninetoes had a long thin face,
but she knew exactly how to fluff her
hair so that she didnt look too equine.
As far as I know, she didnt have any
relationships with horses, though she
loved the land, and managed in a twenty-
first century way to live in it. Is it still
Forestville she lives in? One forgets
since one doesnt address envelopes
anymore, but remains in contact via
occasional e-mail, and fairly frequent,
say once a month or once every three
months, phone calls. We laugh and
shout and giggle, frequently hard enough
to bring tears to my eyes. We have
weathered the storms of friendship,
separation, the trauma of a business
relationship and the madhouse. The
was for me. I was Nancys (she wasnt
called Ninetoes in those days but NP)
boss, at first, when she arrived one day
looking for a job. I dont know how she
picked us, up there in our (Dohenys)
castle on the hill -- really quite far outside
civilization -- hardly the place youd go
knocking on the door for work as a secretary,
even with a long face, not much interest in the
movies but with a fair flake of chutzpah. Ill
have to ask her. Or maybe not. Later I learned
that she had one brother who was a four-star
general, and another who headed one of the
nations top-top companies. I was impressed, but
not nearly as much as I should have been, for I
was the boss, a kid (about 36) from Marysville,
Washington, and just soon before then, the former
wife of a (I found out later) poet-in-residence
professor, far outside the realms of well-connected-
influence and power (much less understood in the
20th Century than now). Believe me, you never
heard of Marysville, WA. and, except for me, you
(reading this poem) probably never will. It used to
be a mere wide place in the highway
between Seattle and Canada,
where I was born
on a kitchen table in a garage that was
later to be a part of the house that my
parents were building for $90 on land
that had cost them $90 -- for daffodils,
and chrysanthemums (over the winter).
And later still, it was a taxidermist farm,
leading me in later life to speculate if I
was truly born -- or perhaps -- stuffed.
I was birthed in the winter: 12-6-33.
A fabulous date! Right down there in
the depths of The Depression, the saving-
string generation. NP was born, I found
this out by asking her now (in the 21st
Century) 00--oo-oo. Weve seen one
century go and the new one come. When
it came time, I left the castle on the hill
in triumph and disgrace. NP remained
for a number of years to become a force
(youd never hear this from her) but I am
sure she was a force (Tonis word), so
personable, so charming, so full of the love
of life and no more, taking this damned
path as a human in her stride. Full of good
cheer, helpfulness, generosity, and as far
as I could tell, extraordinary for our
time and place. A total lack of ambition.
except to eat a lovely lunch, a fine dinner,
to travel, to laugh, to be in love with the
man she was with, to glide along, unafraid,
accepting the accouterments of a blessed
but to my mind, my neurotic mind, to
avoid the contract or drama with life
as it occurred to me. She was always
sympatico, keen to help, but never
at soul level. What do I mean by that?
I lived deep down in my souls drama
and being with Nancy Ninetoes was always
like reaching the peak of say Kilimanjaro,
the Matterhorn or Everest. The air was pure,
the sunshine was clear, the ice and the cold
were bracing and wed be down before dinner
time, which she had plans for at the local
21, or whatever was the best restaurant in
the county at the time. Life and the helpfulness
through life seemed to flow from her fingertips
without disturbing her knowledge. We had
hilarious times together, mostly over lunch.
In later years when I again lived near her
in her Sonoma ? County territory, and I lived
in one more flaky ashram of birds, chickens
that laid colored eggs, and gardens.
Maybe I was her 10th toe -- which eventually
she decided to amputate rather than go through
the rest of a lifetime of foot operations. I think
she broke it through in a fall in her early 60s.
I think. I never asked: If Ninetoes had a father.
The mother, I met her one or twice, was
quite nice. The Dowager type I thought,
probably naive as a girl, and conventional
as a wife, mother, never seeking more than
a limited world. Ninetoes herself has some
of these elements, which perhaps I see only
because early on I was influenced away from
a subdued conventional family, by the
glamour, the danger, the fascination of
the drama of the movies.
Nancy Ninetoes and Old, to-be-in-ages-uncome, Red Legs
used to rule the roost in a manner of speaking, in at least
one way of looking at it fairly much askance.
When I dismissed her as my assistant she went to the big
man and got hired on as Registrar. How did I come to not
get along with the divine Ninetoes (named that 3 and 1/2
decades later? -- when she lost -- no, they took away, her second toe
so they could stop operating. She always had the big, serious ailments
and so did her death-do-us-part man Geoff (brain tumor) and somewhat
human-shy lover/husband and I had the amorphous, boring-from-within saga-long
ones. It happened when I was in the madhouse. Somewhat at her instigation, i.e. I
asked her what to do and let her help me get admitted to the NPI at UCLA (at the
time her loved one was, I believe, a psychiatrist or psychologist (Jack). Anyway, I asked,
she suggested and into the madhouse I went for whatever it was three weeks? six weeks? long
enough at least for me to switch courses (I guess) permanently. Not necessarily from any
treatment, though they gave me enough drugs and therapies to, as it turned out, last
me a lifetime. And while I was in there, some important decision had to be made, and
Ninetoes made it (on her own) and I saw it was trying to infringe on MY JOB, my territory,
and got mad about it. (She probably wasnt.) (Or was she?)
Anyway, I soon got out of the madhouse and returned to the
manse. She backed off, but I plowed on and never even really
began to think of it (much) again for these 3 & 1/2 decades.
And after a little stiffing on my part, and time, blessed time,
we remained friends. (Maybe my best friend, though if I really
look back and look long, I begin to see I had a whole succession
of best friends, some of the best I think the world supplies:
Maryanne, Joan Kestlinger, Marilyn Thayer, Dimitra Steris
(later Arliss). I moved on and she became the finest, no doubt,
Registrar AFI ever had or was likely to have. Then, long before
AFI was (was she another joan?) I cant remember her name, at
Reed -- who coined the Shakespeare, Smith and ???? long before
I was a Haag. God! the well is deep back there (around 21) I can
barely remember names, but the faces or presences last.
And tucked in here were some male components,
(i.e. Chicago man, Conway Web; Tim Rice, McPhail at Reed )
and a little sex, uninteresting and unimportant. There used to be
so much more to life before sex came along. Every time I start in on
something that becomes Auto-Bio, it becomes harsh and critical,
and, almost beyond comprehension, self-involved. Ive lived for
almost 80 years with hardly a thought for others -- which is not to say
I didnt give the appropriate gifts when I was still into the little human
ceremonies like birthdays and holidays, christmas and -- and now its
the free table, on our bottom floor, where wondrous gifts for others
appear from time to time. I love to give, but only out of impulse,
never by the calendar. But this is all, as usual, going off into twists
and turns, I get lost in the miasma of my past, and,
indeed, who needs more than a little smidgin
at a time?
I do see the evidence from time to time
that I am getting off my rocker. This urge to
confess and to clarify what probably doesnt
need it at all, overcomes me and I still feel I
am about to write that great American Epic.
Even though I know in the deepest heart
of my heart that I cant do that.
All I can do is grab the little smidgins
out of the air, polish them a little
and call it poetry. But whats the point of
living if you dont write it down?
I remember early on in my adventures in
Tibet reading: Alexander-David Neel,
Youngblood, ______, _____ readings
with a bit of distain, that no one
ever seemed to have gone there just to go.
Without the subsequent book, it all became
invisible. So, I guess, for me, life has been
one incredible, at times almost killing, up
hill pull, up and up, write a little, up up up
write a little more. I can never wait for
lunch at the top. Always sweat soaked
Cest la vie.
AMERICAN LIFE X
Yeh yeh yeh, I feel like I could scream --
and I could win (or swim) -- as if with the itch itch itch
I am coming alive again, as if I were back
among the living.
Why not? Red that I am, be alive?
How can the skin be so diseased?
Is it nothing but an outward indication
of how diseased the interior is?
I feel like I have been puffed with disease and
decay all my life and am about to be released from it -- now.
Is it possible?
AMERICAN LIFE XI
Bumbling along, not much into recording/poems.
Eczema seems to be waning, but itches, if possible,
more madly than ever.
Cool in here. Up early -- giving me more time than I have
projects to fill. Time, I think, Vikram was saying last
time (Wednesday), is the only thing there is.
If you pay enough attention as it swishes by, nothing
else is visible, needed, wanted. Time can fill in
all the empty spaces.
AMERICAN LIFE XII
On becoming a little old lady with soft doeskin
cheeks and velvet dewlap. Look in the mirror --
there she is: soft, round, wrinkled, aging.
How much longer can she go on
Wrinkled like a little old fruit -- an apple
that was hard, but is now withering,
not decaying or spoiling, but
withering with lots of tiny
soft ridges, wrinkles.
Nothing to be done, except stop studying
the mirror. Dont be disturbed. The
body stays here; when the time
comes, the spirit floats
AMERICAN LIFE XIII
Its funny how we all concentrate on
the movers and shakers and the rich
or the very poor.
As if the other, almost 8 billion of us,
dont matter -- could die without re-
little grief, less attention, good-bye,
see you in heaven -- or hell; it
makes little difference.
Human life: a little aberrance on the
face of the world. Flowers, trees, cats,
dogs, giraffes, cows and monkeys die.
Cest la vie.
No one hears them carrying on, weep-
and wailing, gnashing of teeth: Gone.
Gone. Cest la vie. As Vikram said:
There is nothing
AMERICAN LIFE XIV
It keeps going forward, tick by tick,
hum by hum, freshening the air,
but will not
Silence with soft bumps: making
a bed? walking around,
assault on the outside world,
a very slight crash,
a door closes,
The door to the chapel is
Is someone singing?
the trooper down
the hall, is a nightclub
singer, like we all
wanted to be
She hums, strums the piano,
is almost an Insult Comedienne
except shes a woman --
traveling the world,
earning her living.
living down the hall
in our old nunnery.
AMERICAN LIFE XV
Its funny how life keeps happening,
hope keeps re-forming:
Good days, bad days.
Or not. Soon forgotten.
I ever wanted
including old age
in an old nunnery:
full of plants, old ones
and new ones and a
Siamese Cat --
Siamese Cat, opinionated
and large, half as big as
a very small tiger:
he wants his water from
the faucet dripping in the tub,
not in his
Starbucks cup --
poetry to write, thoughts to think.
I barely read anymore (eyesight dimming,
but, even more so: interest waning).
Certainly no longer interested
in imaginary people (fiction),
in reality, people even duller.
Eczema might even be getting cured.
Whatll I live for next?
Trained by Telly and computer in
the busy-ness of everyones life,
nothing lasts. One falls into
silence like tumbling down
a sound-muting well
Go back to sleep.
THE MAY POEMS
FIRST MAY POEM
Spent the whole morning finding and losing things
in the computer, from the cupboards -- the dried
Turkish apricots, for instance,
still elude me.
Where could I have put them?
I wonder if I will ever know.
I hope it will be amusing
when I do.
Well it wasnt amusing and it took about
two hours wandering around like a lost soul
in hell. There they were: in plain sight
in the jar on the middle shelf.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
We are not amused.
It all started out, of course, with the computer
failing to come on. Even when it donged
on, it still showed only a black screen.
I turned it off and turned it on and fiddled
with this and fiddled with that and finally
it faded up from black to my desktop.
Itching is almost quiescent, it
looks better, feels better, but,
indeed! it was a night from hell:
itching, bathing, and scratching,
wishing I were sleepier, so I
could just lie down, get out
of it -- my skin, that is, life,
hopes, plans, dreams,
remembrances, I just
want to flee from it all!
Stop! those incredible imbecil-
they discover how to extend
life into deaths territory!
SECOND MAY POEM
Im in a fury -- lost the first go-round
of the First May Poem
(still have the printout).
it seems to be a repeat
of May Day! one tiny disaster
after another until my skin is
firing like a machine gun,
especially, if not quite only,
my left arm at the elbow and
above. I think of Dr. Hursts
assessment that present skin
anguishes may be replays of
old sunburns, the cells know
it, retain it, and replay it
when they get stressed.
Its as good a theory as any.
So Im late, furious and snowed under
even before I approach a poem for today.
I think I am going to insist on going for a
relax into an Epsom Salts tub before I
go on. Enough scratching, fury and upset.
Started the Abascal class yesterday. Going
to try very hard to obey all the strictures.
But already I am out of it and upset, chopped
up my wooden spoon in the blender, but
remember some government pamphlet
that let me know wood pulp is one
legitimate ingredient among many in
a good many of our supposedly cereal
foods. So I picked the splinters out
the best I could, washed off the whole
mass of parsley already soaked in olive oil,
added garlic and and kept grinding it to
a smooth, almost liquid drink;
one of the injunctions of Abascal diet is dont
drink your food, but Im afraid I am not
going to be perfect in that, nor the gulp-it-
all-down-at-once injunction. I need prolonged
as much as I need nourishment.
THIRD MAY POEM
Quiet day with all sorts of women and children
chattering in the yard, the parking lot, the beautiful
sunshiny day. I am quietly alone, and liking it.
Dont jump up or jump about eager to do
things I dont want to or only half
want to do.
Sign out for awhile. See what comes next.
FOURTH MAY POEM
Its beginning to feel like I am living in a tomb,
one I voluntarily return to every day.
Long walk through the last of the sunlight
and the twilight with Margaret.
Go, mostly to get away from the itch
And yet we chat and exchange tidbits,
that, seemingly trivial, open up
passages, often circuitous, built of
damp stone --
my way of hiding from the world.
Like sisters from different planets,
neither of great health,
we wander on almost parallel
paths where, at the odd times
I see death at the end
At other times it goes on and on
and on as it has always done.
Startled this morning,
as HHH showed me
pictures, to see again and again
myself when it was Suzanne.
Never have I
thought we looked alike.
But there I stood under the sweep of the Sedona
sky, behind and before the red rocks in a
wedding ceremony invented
by HHH herself,
a completing union with the world.
FIFTH MAY POEM
I guess I am mad at myself for breaking down
into little kernels of constant complaint.
I barely breathe and things go wrong.
Where has my talent for graceful swift action
disappeared to? Its like I am constantly knocking the
sides of an uncooperative universe. Who are you, it keeps
questioning. Is it time to give up? I can no longer think, type,
reason, figure out. My body wants only to itch and knock things
over. I thought I would have forever to ruminate and spell lovely
words, but maybe not. Maybe youre meant to end life as a hanger-on;
half-assed, stupid, unlovely, unloved, unloving. Even the ugly and dumb
have a space on the earth, in the universe. Look at the stars -- which ones are
SIXTH MAY POEM
Its as if everybody else has already arrived someplace else,
and I am still preoccupied with the journey.
I have no idea what to do once I get off the ship
into a new world that operates at warp speed,
while I, sleepy head, loll in a land of
dreams, where one thing happens at a time.
Its not even from Mars that I have returned,
but in some past or future other world
where everything was slower,
simpler. Now the open vista of the future
calls, calls and has already arrived,
and I have disappeared in the tail wind.
The trees outside my window bend and rock
and sway, the wind howls,
I return to my poem, having lost my way
in the spiral of the storm.
If I call out, someone will answer me, but only
from their planet. We exist
God be with you. And with you.
A NEW RACE OF AMAZONS
(HALF IN LOVE WITH MY NIECES HUSBAND)
From coffee at dArte
I bring a napkin, an artists
forget them on the dashboard.
I was going to show them
to Charles and Mary.
But it makes no difference:
they already know
we are talking
about the same place. Showing
the artifacts would
unnecessary. Good coffee.
Quiet vibes. Who knew
others knew about
ones favorite places?
The artist was into making
linoleum rugs. Who knew?
Jim, the husband, was a
Nonetheless spending his
days in speculative thought --
entertaining his mind.
Happy to be a house husband
to a world class astronomer
until cancer unexpectedly
interrupted her life,
worked too hard,
knew too much, now has
time to go chanting,
as meteor rather than flare star.
THE 10,000 POEMS
Itd be hard to calculate
just how many there are,
strewn about as they are,
here and there, unfinished
thought of and forgotten,
remembered, but not very well.
Right now the brain is trying to
calculate just where in Oklahoma
is my once favorite garden/museum.
A river runs through it.
My memory is visual, but words wont
come. A great Italianate garden, sloping
down to the river. The house, the garden,
the student lying on the floor in one room,
the frighteningly realistic statues on display. Smith?
Was the artists name Smith?
mostly start dying in their seventies
and here am I just about leaving the
seventies. Just about six months, now,
away: 79 to 80. How much closer can
one get without being redundant?
And, no, I wouldnt want to
do it again. Once,
one might say,
ago, I passed
out of the doing
phase, into the con-
when I was young,
I thought about
what is the
earth are we
all here for? Once
you spend your time
wondering about that,
its over. What else
is there to think about?
Gone gone: the energy and the
motive. What is left? Just an idle
chatter of the mind, wondering, wondering
wondering, wandering here wandering there, to do
some more wondering. One has seen most places -- or
enough. Stand still and wonder. Lucky are those, curious
enough, young enough, at an early age to get to look through the telescopes,
ride on the shuttles, step onto Mars, Mercury, eventually the rings of Saturn or its moons.
Look about and wonder, wander and wonder some more, tuck up ones thoughts and dash
across the interval, never having to consider the space between, the height or depth of ones dreams.
Why do I have all these beautiful clothes?
Im not going anyplace.
Why do I have all these beautiful clothes,
most from thrift-shops?
Or, possibly, by now, all from thrift shops.
When did I cross the line
-- from mostly to all? Every other weekend
I bring Ann dreck and take
home gold. Threax, threkkr, it comes from a
lot of places. She reads
my poetry to me. I dont understand nor want
to indulge in any of this
audience based, community judged, consensus
touted dreck that passes
for poetry. I do not write poems for Ann, nor
anyone else. She takes my
dreck, hard copy, written, printed via computer,
genie stuff and, an alchemist,
turns it to gold, glitter, glitter.
ANN AND OKLAHOMA CITY OR SOME OTHER PLACE
Every other weekend I bring Ann dreck.
She reads it aloud -- and I take home gold.
Ive been too gentle with the world.
Or is the word intimidated? by the world.
Yesterday, I leafed through the half a thousand pages
of my ancient, typewritten phone book/numbers
(from AFI days): reading some, skipping over others,
searching for the museum, grand old house, that
served the present as a gallery which, I think (but cant swear).
was in Oklahoma City. I visited it several times, on the track
of filmmakers. It had an Italianate garden (from its first life)
with grand staircase and endless, rather dried, view -- down
to a river? pond? trickle of a stream? and terraced gardens.
Pursuing this vision for days: googling Oklahoma, gardens,
museums, tourist attractions. I found not a clue. I can see
it in my minds eye: driving up close to a rather bare place
of gravel, garages, the back of the house, on the top of a hill.
The heavy wood of the old interior here and there. Cared for,
quieting intrusions, where the super-realist sculptor --named
Smith? I think -- had an exhibit of human figures, dressed,
lounging about, behind desks, lying on the floor
reading books, standing beside the dining room
table. All I can conclude, after days of perusing
cyberspace, is that -- perhaps -- barring the
possibility that it was in some other city --
it is no longer there. Where, it seems, I
should find it, right in the middle
of downtown, now stood an
immense faceted jewel,
called The Crystal Bridge
built in the open
half-cared for field
I used to know, still expect.
Then I began to remember many places
I have forgotten in my long life: poems written and disremembered
Theyre dying off, one by one,
the interesting people I used to know.
Theyre dying down, the strong emotions,
the desires I used to inhabit, dying into --
sometimes strong, at times -- weaker
breath. Just to breathe is
no effort, but, in a sense,
just to be.
My cup runneth -- not over,
but just singing,
once in a while,
What to do with the hours
and days? What to do with the thoughts
and plans? No plans,
just to be.
My kitten sleeps and I sleep,
and hes content to be.
I look at Durgas picture
on an old calendar
She has a lion beside her,
and eight arms,
far too many
I think of the kitten from yesterday,
dragging first the top of one hind leg
and then the other,
again and again.
he had learned the secret of
stretch and pull,
the concrete, as satisfactory as the nimble fingers of an unreliable human.
FIRST JUNE POEM
If I had a vision to start another novel, what would that be?
There are no characters, no people, even no friends who live
in my minds eye, my head, my brain -- there is nothing and
no one who inhabits my heart, my attention, my love -- I
might as well live on the earth alone -- thanking some
former inhabitants for leaving all the accoutrements, the
evidence of a civilized life, tilled gardens and ninety story
towers that planes would run into. Those are all visions, but
have nothing to do with me. I have written 10,000 poems
that is not an estimate, not even a guess. It is a Buddhist
statement of all-that-is: The Ten Thousand Things.
I squirm, I ache, I itch -- but not badly -- mostly it is a ploy
to get me to go back to bed. My mind dislikes thinking,
the kind of effortful thinking I was brought up to believe,
rather than the effortless yielding, without thought, words
to paper -- but not even paper anymore. Because, with the
invention of the electric book, the iPad, etc... My vision
grown silently dark, I am almost in pain with the desire to lie
down and sleep.
SECOND JUNE POEM
I have nothing in storage.
Its all here, wrapped around me,
clutched for warmth,
If Im not going to use it or do it
soon enough to have it here,
then I shant have
to have it at all. Now,
Im one of the lucky ones,
I have a library to
my papers to.
For the rest, except the needlepoints,
let it all lie where it falls.
I still pick up things from
the free table,
try to return more than I take
Is there intention in the universe?
All I know is that, if there is, it
doesnt bother about me.
Though a 1000 intentions may
manifest, mine, the persistent ones,
mine, dont. And its a pity.
For instances, though it makes a good
story, it also saddens me that its true:
When I heard that our newest
surveillance scandal was that they, them,
those who rule the world, or bits or bites
of it, were making a whole copy of the
Internet: all of it, all traffic, every key stroke,
everything, the entirety that has been done on
far more than the Buddhists 10,000 things,
my first, and really, only thought, was:
Ah! Fabulous, that means my poetry,
published no where else, will be saved.
All the 10,000 things I have written,
(and Margaret and I) have posted
will be there for posterity to view in
2099, or whenever future generations
get around to looking at
the ancient Internet. What a gift!
-- the hard copies at TWU, and the
cyber copies on the surveilled Internet.
What more can a poet ask?
Unless, of course the Akashic records
actually are -- and then,
of course, it would be redundant.
But nature manifestly adores a redundancy,
and so do I.
THE BLUE DUSTPLAN
Study the debris in the blue dustpan
and you will know how the pyramids
of Egypt got dusted over,
buried in the eons of time -- whose
minutes outdo, slowly but irrevocably,
the accumulation, mote by mote,
of dust on the fifth floor.
The words, the feelings, the sadness --
what does it mean if you cant write them
in words? The moment passes, and it might
as well not have been -- having left no trace
in the mind, in the heart, as a stamp on the
nature of things, as spidery words on the
virginal white of time,
or reflected in the void,
the night winds
of the soul
ADVICE FOR A SUNNY SATURDAY MORNING
Go back to bed. And think about being
80 -- the absence of dexterity, the lack
of memory, the itch of age and (one
hopes) the dying off of eczema.
Sherman Alexie gave the commencement
address at Evergreen yesterday. If you
have never been to Evergreen State
College -- go! There probably
isnt another place on earth more
appropriately named: ever - green.
Visiting the campus is like
being immersed in
a clean, clear pool surrounded
by trees in early-summer-
each an oasis of bright lyrical green.
I was there 30 years ago, and yesterday.
Before that I received a message
(was it before or after the days of e-mail?)
from Morton Kroll. (He lived in Seattle
and I lived in L.A.) I either had or was thinking
of returning to school. He wrote:
Theyve finally built a school for you:
go to Evergreen. Good advice, but
I didnt go there. A few years later,
I visited to talk (as AFI ambassador)
with and to find filmmakers --
and to meet Peter Elbow.
I remember Peter, writer of the best book ever on writing,
vividly, but not the campus. Maybe I just made it to
the edge -- and the party was in someones
house or apartment. But Mort was right.
Eveergreen State College is a school for me
and my kind. Ive met many alum since then
and could have happily friended them -- bare-
footed and booted, flowers
on their mortarboards, raindrops in their hair -- all.
Nonetheless, I saved (inadvertently)
the thrill of returning there
to its full sunshine-in-the-green-forest-
even though the overcast did not lift
until Rosa (also known as HHH)
and I were driving home from
great nephew, Thomas Lloyd Hughs
graduation on a not too crowded
Most of the way.
The mortarboard is generally believed by scholars to have developed from the biretta, a similar-looking hat worn by Roman Catholic clergy. The biretta itself may have been a development of the Roman pileus quadratus, a type of skullcap with superposed square and tump. A reinvention of this type of cap is known as the Bishop Andrewes cap. The Italian biretta is a word derived from berretto, which is derived itself from the Latin birrus and the Greek pyrros, both meaning "red." The cone-shaped red (seldom in black) biretta, related to the ancient Etruscan tutulus and the Roman pileus, was used in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to identify humanists, students, artists, and learned and blooming youth in general. The shape and the color conveyed meaning: Red was considered for a long time the royal power, whether because it was difficult to afford vestments of such solid and brilliant dye or because the high symbolic meaning of blood and life, thus the power over life and death.
I look perfectly Chinese this morning and 95,
though perfectly preserved. Eyes are swollen,
cheeks flat and long. Eyebrows accent by slight
mounds above the supraorbital ridge. Itch still there,
but staved off for the moment. No Prednisone needed,
say the nerve end cells, the rash: now three solid blocks
of smooth fiery red: the left arm elbow, right and left leg.
Throat somewhat sore, might rasp if I spoke. Has it moved
inside? No reason to rise from bed, so slept in until 9:00, rested,
but the sensation of being somewhat blinded tightened my face,
outlook. Building a pyramid this morning, layer by layer, thinking
of the Aztecs tearing out the hearts of sacrificial humans, thumping
their chests with triumph and achievement, thinking they now had
the valor of two, four, six, whatever their appetites for consumption
of others. Sounds like today, but not quite as grisly. Two eggs, dark kale,
celery, zucchini -- and I feel as hearty as a heart-eating Aztec. I thump
my chest and whoop, prove Im manly, above all alive. All hail kale heartily.
A discombobulated, disarray of a day,
ending in a concert of a guzheng
(Chinese 21-stringed instrument)
played by Xu Fengxia
and a koto
played by Miya Masaoka
in our Chapel Performance Space --
both played percussively
to the lads saxophone,
clarinet, cello --
dramatic enough to levitate me
to my feet, to see delicate fingers
plucking and pounding the
the man, who provided space for all this,
comment wryly on the
obligatory standing ovation
at the end.
My heart did a little pitter-pat
for the day,
the moon showing gigantic
in the night sky
and the Western horizon
through the clouds
over the setting sun.
What a lucky girl am I
to live in this paradise of
shot through with the
endless time and dullness of
the advancing age of the
She who has walked the streets
of Kathmandu in
the middle of the night
and would be less afraid
at 80 to do it
death parallels each
through the dark,
of peaceful Seattle
-- or was it
when the world
all but those
along Khao San Road,
just beyond the blank,
of Democracy Monument
Chao Phraya river.
AT MY DESK
The wind shrieks, the rain comes down,
a more static breeze always finds its chilling
route across my back and nates, circling
of my gluteus maximus,
tripping up my spine.
The wind patterns are as predictable as the
Monsoons or El Nino. I have climbed
the window frame ere now
chasing these winds of the fifth floor nunnery
where this poetry comes from. I dont expect to
ever find an answer or a solution of where they
come form, how they come, but Wikipedia will
stand by to name them, to refer me round and
round to a full explication
and, by then, summer will have arrived and
well be wanting winds to come, no
questions asked, to cool down the
interior peaks of this attic,
to help evict the
word one knows
the direction of
reminding me of hot sand, desert crossings
in this chilly attic
where its uncomfortable to sit nude.
Theres no time left to live my life anymore,
between the forgetting and the slippage of the
mind which no longer wants to calculate, I am
never left in peace.
The winds blow, the storms accumulate into derecho.
I am left where I was, at the end of all days, different --
or the same. Who can tell the difference? Who can spot a
change. Who appreciates a fine microscope?
The stars multiply faster than we can breathe. Out at the edge
its a hotbed of creation, stars, space and particles, more than one
can count -- like ideas swimming in the plasma of the brain, fecund,
overwhelmingly rich, varied, micro-. macro-,
universal, choose your scale -- and you dont even have to stick with it.
Honor it and be gone. Someone else will come along for the plucking and
fine-tuning. Keep your eye on the furthest galaxy. It, too, sleeps in your aorta.
Imagine a world made of one thing.
Always the same, always different.
Peace be with you.
And with you,
and different morning
-- with its sunrise and moon set -- or not.
My Morning Lament looks like a lamp.
Is it Diogenes looking for an honest
woman and finding her sooner
than a poem can complete?
MORNING LAMENT II
I hear little crackles -- like
the footsteps of bugs.
I go forth with my lamp,
peer here, peer there,
find it is single,
grey window --
tick -- tick -- tick.
MORNING LAMENT III
Between the cleaning of the
sink and a Prince Rupert Drop*
at 130,00 fps,
I find a poem.
It looks like this.
Its not breakable,
but it can shatter into
constituents without -- its
bulb that is -- being touched
I wander around like a lost ghost,
not knowing what to do, nor where
to go -- but thats easy enough in my,
essentially, one room studio.
I can go from wall to wall, door to
windows, even windows to windows.
But thats about all. I can look out and
see the whole glittering glory of Seattle
at night across the blackness of Lake Union,
I can look up into the many variations in the
attic ceiling, peaky here, a plain rectangle there,
triangles and trapezoids, heat pipes and sprinkler
pipes -- in case we burn down. The place is arranged
-- rather randomly -- so it seems spacious, even multi-
roomed, with one forest here, another avocado there,
and maybe a stand alone grapefruit beneath a lychee
nut tree in the window, with a cluttered desk
abandoned between other rooms, a picture
of a buddha saying his prayers, and boxes,
lots of boxes of manuscripts ready
for shipping to Texas,
that god-forsaken land
where their Governor
Perry is more afraid
of womens free-
dom more than
MORNING GLORY AND THE TRUSSED TRUMPET
Dappled sunlight all over the table,
my notes, my cast-offs, my keys,
coming brightly through the mist of
windows, dancinng over the poetry,
the books, the stack of money-sub-
stitute cards. Markus Wursch
piping on a variety of horns, big,
small, thin, more bell-like -- all
trumpets, to Peter Solomons agile
dancings on the pedals of the huge
Swiss Organ, tight now lingering
on Joseph Haydens string-tied
Trumpet Concerto. 2nd, extra
pipes, elegant, never saw this
instrument before. Its called
The Keyed Trumpet. I guess, for
once, the hundred thousand
changes on the Internet have
thrown up, something beyond
delicious to be heard.
The sun lifts my heart, the heat
melts my body, I become all-
ear, all hearing, nothng but hearing
as if the notes became all hearable,
visible excited molecules dancing
in space,dancing in my body,
dancing with the sun,
dancing with the delicate,
and now theres a long one,
skinny, a yard long at least,
his eyebrows up, his eyes hooded
Markus plays for me this morning!
From Englist Masque Dances to
Joshpeh Hayden Trumpet Concerto. 3rd
THE TRUSSED TRUMPET
3:36 and Im in a god-damned snarl of a rage.
Nothing in particular, just ultimate rage at all
of nature, the laws of gravity, physics, the way
things are put together and dont seem to be
Ive reached the stage of breaking things, shouting,
snarling. I had no idea rage was such an antidote to
feeling suicidal. Maybe Dylan Thomas knew, and
thats why he said to his father, or about his father,
Rage! rage against the dying of the light! Today I
met a Key Locked Trumpet for the first time via
FIRST JULY POEM
Ive turned off Markus Wurschs wonderous
piping for, no matter how gloriously his
trumpet calls, nor how wondrously
it masks the 21st Century sounds
of traffic and this mornings,
repair work (2nd time) on
our South Parking Lot,
even its buzzing
as good as
silence -- in
Bring me a cup
of cool water for Im
happiest longing for silence.
Hearing sound, too much sound
for my delicate ears -- trained to hear
the all but silent footsteps of a poem creeping,
sliding, gliding, preparing to slip into my calmed down mind.
SECOND JULY POEM
6-16-1930 to 12-17-1998
He lives in his bones, they said about him,
Allan DArcangelo. They used to say about him:
That he really lives in his bones.
I understood that back about then. They said it,
I agreed -- without hesitation. It was a good description
of him then and still would be now. He lives in his bones.
What does it mean? Now. Decades later. Hes dead.
So are many who knew him, but of those who remain,
or even those who are dead, they remember him as
a dark angel who lived in his bones. What does that mean?
Decades later. Hes dead -- a long long time now. Im still alive
picking out keyboard letters, having arrived at an age when
I Want To Know: Lived in his bones -- what does that mean?
He had a handsome, ruined face, not only ruined
from this and that tragedy in his life, but from excessive
amounts of alcohol, hundred gallon jugs of beer and booze,
no doubt, over a not too extensive lifetime. He didnt die
young, but he also didnt live as long as some -- as I have.
Nonetheless, bones may be the only way he lived at all.
Dark elements registered in that face -- to make him look
like a tragedian as exalted as Oedipus. Nonetheless,
he was Italian. And mostly, it wasnt true. He had a talent,
on one hand, for stirring up tempests in teapots.
On the other hand, his favorite son, successor
had committed suicide without leaving so much as a note
for his anguished doting father. Allan, himself, got out
at the relatively early age of 58. Some of us lived on.
THIRD JULY POEM
7-6 to 7-14-13
Propagandized by the media
I used to have quite a number of men in my life,
but now almost all have dropped dead
It is true, women live longer than men.
I begin to glow (glower) like an angry volcano --
and spew forth pillow rocks
Hollywood: -- not being invited to a lot of parties
I didnt want to go to. I guess I have always
been off on my own crooked path
going nowhere -- but sober.
My soul feels like screaming.
Theres nothing else to do
Nowhere else to go.
Is it the Willow that makes me
feel suicidal? Can it, does it
work in reverse?
I feel like I am deserted by everyone,
including myself and Margaret.
But people fluttering around me,
helping, is not what I want.
I really want to die, be out out of it,
be gone. My personal life feels
like solitary confinement, yet these Seattle
days are more maddeningly beautiful
then they have ever been.
The rest of the world has
become a madhouse.
The vigorous hatred men have for women,
have always had, has now flourished
gigantic and out in the open, they want docile,
baby-making, ever working slaves,
not an autonomous person
FOURTH JULY POEM
And why do they want to make so many babies?
7-9 to 7-14-13
Canon fodder -- to go on playing their war games
with no cost to themselves.
Theyve got rid of the draft and even the concept
that young princes and noblemen used to have, i.e.
that they, as rulers, must be the first, the leaders
to defend their land. Now those potentially
noble men, stay home and lurk behind statutes,
and laws, and ginned up excuses, not even to
volunteer to go fight for their country.
Oh yes, the powers that be still want wars,
but on their terms so they must have
high birth rates, even if they are black
and tan -- no white faces need to
volunteer. that would be a crazy,
kooky thing to do when their
daddies have gone to all that
trouble to preserve their
reluctant hides --
so no abortions
and no draft --
about as close
of wars, just
to keep the need
high. And overpopulation
will serve, as it always has, to
help keep women off the real
workforce, away from the power and
FIFTH JULY POEM
Yesterday I printed out 114 pages,
single spaced type, of the main
index of my poems since
the 1990s?, i.e. those
And here I am --
just having written
page 114 of the 2013
I love numbers, their symmetry,
their neatness, their orderliness,
makes my heat sing. This is the same
as that. Or. This is different than
that. You can see it in the
SIXTH JULY POEM
Today I got up with the awful
empty frazzled feeling that I may
have reached the end of my need to
write -- I hate to call it -- poetry.
But already, a couple of hours into the
day, I sit down and tap tap tap out come
the words, more and more words formed
into sentences, thoughts, spidery words on
the nice blank whiteness of not only paper, but
the whiteness of the page on the screen, edged
with a grey stripe and surrounded by a luminous
green, delicately embroidered with
white and black-edged words
and tiny prefatory
Ring the bells loudly.
SEVENTH JULY POEM
Assuming Ill write tomorrow,
or, perhaps, even more today, I
go on numbering the pages
and the poems.
There will be more -- or
I dont want to write anymore, as more and more
frequently I find myself writing a poem in mu head --
which is somethng I did not allow myself to do in the
EIGHTH JULY POEMS
Itchy eyes and itchy ear tips,
which, after scratching, is like
a swarm of not unhappy bees
networking across my face, and
in those funny places at the east
west edges of the eyes.
Im furious at the nature of things.
SOCIAL SECURITY less than $9,000 a year & a dab of INTEREST,
less than $4,000 a year, from a few investments:
a princlingly sum in my youth, poverty line in old age.
Its not adequate for some people,
but its fine for me.
Thanks to all the gods that I spent
my nomadic years getting rid of my STUFF, and
learning principles of simplicity and freedom
from, possessions, needs.
My needs like your needs are pretty simple,
enough to eat and a place to sleep
it can be enchanting or a horror
if you let the ashram, sanga, congregation take care
of you, for doing some dishes, you can make it
gloriously -- and be willing, of course, to work,
to do whatever is set before you
I left my former life in 1980, I think it is was
or 82, with two goals,
one: to live with Allan,
and two: to go to India -- I did both.
one might say,
I have done both of either
choice for 30-35 years: wander,
chant, work a little here and there, while
writing 10,000 poems. Far to many for anyone
to read. But they offer and opportunity, either go out
and live, or read about it in 10,000 poems, or write your own.
Once upon a time, to a wanderer, these could have been perceived as
princlingly sums, adequate, but not munificent, but as the economy has
moved further and further beyond me, my tastes in possession has gone almost
to nil. I havent yet made it to rug, spinning wheel, and a kamandalu, but in
21st Western World Terms, one can call it almost the same. All I lack is the fame
of a Gandhi, where people, beneath the umbrella of truth find year after year after
year they need less and less and less, down to almost nothing. Oh God, for the possess-
ion of nothing. Nothing at all. Give me the sunshine and nothing else. There is a reason that
great religions spring up in India the warmth leads to an assurance of friendly security.
NINTH JULY POEM
I seem to draw a blank where my brain used to be.
I got up, I listened to the radio, President Clinton
at his Alma Mater == Georgetown?
And now I have forgotten the entire rest of the
morning, except I have been playing the seashell
puzzle. Other than that, where am I?
Back to the seashell puzzle: Lets see if the past
will reassemple itself
TENTH JULY POEM
We dont know where to put it/them
the real flotsam and jetsam of life
Like a giant pile of jigsaw pieces --
colorful puzzles, marvelously, suggestive-strange shapes,
all curved and interlocking -- one can see at a glance
Will it be as interesting, this mountain, all avalanched to base camp?
-- located, researched, explored, smoothened into a panorama
with recognizable horizons? Proceed hesitantly.
What is unknown may be as much fun as the unknowable.
Be with me through the interlocking steps,
postpone your fury, your escalating quarrel with gravity.
Let it weigh down the world. It was designed to do that.
You design something else -- stop wasting time in
Pick up each piece slowly and place it.
Suddenly the albino spot that had disappeared from the back of my right
hand, has reappeared -- larger, as if in its pigheadedly determined way
it was going to prove, by spreading, that I am a total Caucasian.
Back to the puzzle!
In the last few weeks I have gone from all faith in my powers to say something
to not saying anything at all.
ELEVENTH JULY POEM
I get the impression
much of the time
that it is just one giant stage set
with the huge cranes here and there
moving set pieces here and there,
A big brown wall seems to be free standing about
three blocks south and a block or two east.
In the middle of Wallingford ,
working class suburbia gone
It didnt used to be,
and a big slender yellow crane,
was moving a fish like carnival
brightly colored cartoon
cut out a big one
just after near blinding by lights too bright to be electric
4 or 5 of them along a rooftop,
and then this morning, they seemed to be
hoisting a tree an 80 foot tall evergreen
Now things, for awhile are static and
still. It may be lunch time.
The show stops to dine.
TWELFTH JULY POEM
Not much inspiration for July
Though I have now taken to finding
poems, just composed in the head, to
be quite satisfying.
Maybe Ive written my last,
or near to last.
But then again, maybe this odd spaced out
feeling Ive been cocooned in for days
and days now is as, Suzanne suggested tonight,
a withdrawal from Prednisone
Its hard to believe, but maybe it is.
So down, so out, so intermittently angry
I feel like a klutz,
as if I had lost all my wit and grace,
all my evidence of being alive.
Not a stone.
FIRST AUGUST POEM
Drugged completely by the 5htp
and the melatonin:
Cant wake up, cant think,
cant remember a thing,
Im going to step out
into it! after:
The sense of possession,
ownership, is passing.
The interest in doing,
composing a poem
is passing. Alertness
is passing. I forget what I am,
was doing -- and it makes no difference.
Do or not do, its about the same
in the gigantic scheme of
the universe, I think god just got
tired of doing. So she created us:
we, the people, the do-ers,
to complete her tasks.
Nothing lives without doing.
Doing is the nature of the world.
Whether the erosion of a mountain,
or the making of a teacup, or the tea,
the tea itself lives by growing and dying.
My INKA can is fading. It holds,
from time to time, pencils, scissors,
other office necessities. But what
it really does all day long is fade
from bright pink to this,
almost dingy, pale pink-orange --
with brown and white --
writing on it and a white
cup of coffee-looking Inka
with a branch of grain -- so it says
Now walk in the sunshine
SECOND AUGUST POEM
When I was a child I read about the grand palaces
of old Russia. The elegance, the artifacts of Catherine
and the czars -- beyond elegance -- who did not mind
stepping on the necks of serfs, penniless peasants, those
who created the wealth, chiseled, stitched their elegance.
Then, as I grew older, I lost interest in the extravagant
Tartar tastes of the rich. I began to think about the hunger
of the poor, about how ephemeral a jewels new beauty is,
and how unnerving, day after day after day, is the pain of
hunger, unattended illness, grief, pity. Most of the time
I feel frantic, on the verge of suicide. Had I a gun
in the house, Id use it. Not by intention, but
impulsively -- when I felt completely hopeless,
at the mercy of the depression.
I feel like I want to walk
around in the water of a lake bottom.
Why on earth doesnt humanity castrate the like
of Ariel Castro? -- chop off his penis that bothers
him so. (He makes me think of the OED contributor
who did, chop off his penis after years of torment.)
In a way -- my case is similar. Why dont I? or they?
chop off my head? which bothers me so much. But its
the same problem as: Why dont men forbid war?
-- since they are capable of making all sorts of
about war. Just stop it! Forget
the endless defining of legal
ways to indulge
THIRD AUGUST POEM
I always thought I had more important things to do
in life than clean house.
A little clear-headedness returns.
God bless the murderers, torturers
for their entertaining the human race,
doing the unspeakable for the enjoyment of
FOURTH AUGUST POEM
A great gaggle of tiny little people,
all in blue tee shirts.
Boys, I think,
filling up the sidewalk,
hooting in despair to be all
roped together, laced one against
another. Are they Gordian enough
to cut the knot?
She said Im trans sexual
Raising my hand: No need to explain,
its written all over you --
O thou from a different test-tube.
The apes sit fidgeting, picking at their skin
all day: squeeze pop, scratch a bit, let it flake,
remember to move. Very like us. Less than
ten % difference.
And that difference? The Taj Mahal,
Santa Sofia, the Winter Palace, millions
murdered in their beds each night -- now
by drones who dont itch, scratch or breath.
Keep scratching, lest ye become a drone.
Yet it is the living and the dying that provides
the context, the rhythm, the ascending,
spiraling satisfaction in melody
and masonry, minotaur and miniature forms,
the wee Atacama. Impossible to believe,
its DNA tested to be 91 percent
FIFTH AUGUST POEM
Its hard to believe shes not here still
with her big glasses and indomitable
She influenced my life,
both out around the edges,
and in the very core of my being.
Another dear friend, still here, but younger,
my age, the most indomitable of all,
calling one day, appears on e-mail.
Once so close,
now and for years,
a continent --
And then there is: Just Jan.
Do you suppose it was planned
that way? -- the Js all drawn
together to influence one
another in our
multitudinous beings --
day after day after day.
Now the molecular chain
breaks: quarks and neutrinos
scatter to the winds --
become nano bits of
All active until
the day they die,
writing this poem.
SIXTH AUGUST POEM
My fingers have gone all futzy.
I cant pick up or set down
without fumble, a shooting forward,
or back, a fumble, a shout.
If I were picking mangos along
the Indus would I be so awkward?,
misguided? alone? No doubt,
Id still be allergic to them.
The good lord invented 10 billion compatible
things, and then invented we humans who
could fumble and wail and try again.
I think god wants to quit her job,
but cant quite do it until we
are ready to take over,
Right now, we make a
mess of everything we
try. I fumble and they build drones.
SEVENTH AUGUST POEM
Marys kindness -- just listening,
commenting, knowing she was
speaking truth to power,
the most powerful
force in the world,
the human ego, the self-made
opinion -- she showed infinite
patience, good will, cheer,
and her very belief in the dire
straits -- to which
I had brought myself -- released
the restraining forces, opened,
let them flow, maybe understanding
the indifference it was to worry
about one thing or another.
The flow is what counts. Let it flow, wherever it goes.
Something were acknowledging just recently in the
Pacific Northwest -- by taking the dams off the El Wah, the
Condit -- the unshackling of the mind in a dammed world.
We shall succeed. Creativity may roam wild again, like the fox
and the hare, and the salmon running wildly upstream
-- to out pace the tumultuous waters, lay eggs --
fertilized eggs, round, complete, transcendent into
the next generation. What urgency. What
a splash of cool water in the
EIGHTH AUGUST POEM
Cause and effect can cause ones madness.
They think it is such a discovery to postulate that
if you do the same thing over and over
and expect different results
youre at least half mad,
this is postulated
on a second truism:
If you do something over and over
again enough! it will indeed change: time
will see to that. Humans have little idea what
time is. They know about time out, but little else
of the passage of pure time, time without activity,
time without remembrance, times past and future times,
no advancement, no dignity.
If the plane passes overhead with one engine and one ski -- will it
land on the waters surface. Can it out run time?
NINTH AUGUST POEM
I feel I can never touch this rage bottled up in me.
Is it so deep and so pervasive, you think it might
be pre-speech, even pre-reality, pre-awareness --
tangled in crib sheets, unable to let go?
It rises (in tsunamis) every few years,
seemingly originless --
with enough fury to cause the Toba Extinction,,
dislodge the sides of Mt. St. Helens,
cause the 230,000 deaths of the
2004 tsunami that swept
round the Pacific
complex and pervasive (14 countries)
that it never acquired a
What rage initiated that!?
Does the human spirit simply mimic natures force,
lack of restraint,
natures mindless, reasonless,
as it explodes upon the world: people panic, scream,
cry running from the beach, avoid,
at all cost,
the quietude of death for the raging
of the sea.
TENTH AUGUST POEM
Charles radiating disapproval.
I dont know, Pussy Cat, it sounds like a marching band to me.
I look more and more like a spider, lately
skin and bones, long arms moving, gyrating
stick legs dancing.
The cat wakes from his sleep. I hear it, too:
a marching band,
in my public domain home.
Id be outraged if I didnt find it
their assumption they can
especially around the Good Shepherds
Whos to object?
The black and white ghosts in their habits?
The squirrels flee across the hot
desert of the parking lot,
I stand in the window,
When will they stop?
Whenever I get overwhelmingly sleepy, I sleep.
ELEVENTH AUGUST POEM
Charles radiating disapproval.
I become more and more convinced lately that
Im an idiot savant, i.e. make it all up as I go along.
Charles is definitely entering the phase I just left. Iyengar
where there is an exactitude to every thought,
All my life Ive been waiting for, longing for
someone to show me how to do it.
Im always open for instructions.
Rarely exploring on my own.
(Though more so recently.)
They who came before, must know how.
Now I find that not true. The more you learn
and follow the rules -- taught by your fellow man --
the more likely you are to stumbled in depthless despair.
By now, I think the human mind, developed by us, is
not so much to pass knowledge one to another,
but to accumulate some small store of others experiences,
then, thus armed, to strike out on ones own, explore, invent --
every thought, gesture, adventure. Ask not what has gone before --
just do it.
Use the world as your gymnasium!
kick your leg up there and extend your foot out here.
Cut up! Do it! Learn the rules later, but not from
the piecemeal partisans.
Oedipus Rex sits over there smiling at me in his pink/cerise/
quinacradone coral and black
jacket, and, in front of that,
FURRY LOGIC -- books unread, discs unheard
Just do it.
TWELFTH AUGUST POEM
I donate a certain amount of my time to
listening to the news --
even though its a sink of iniquity,
eternally probing the bad, the ugly.
the should-never-have-been, the
dont-allow-it-now, the unthinkable.
If nothing should survive of our civilization
except our news, radio programs, our tv caught on
tape preserved alongside our mass-murder movies,
our kidnappings and torture
how does that measure up to the Acropolis,
the Erechtheum, the plays of Sophocles
and Aeschylus, the conjectures of Sappho?
What kind of gift are we giving the future if the
daily news is a sink of iniquity. With 6 billion people
on the earth, all doing their thing, youd think there
would be more to report than murder, rape,
Ive lived 79 years and, except for the news, I have not
had first hand experience of
war, (my) death.
A sheltered life -- or, in reality, the life most of us know?
THIRTEENTH AUGUST POEM
What are the lessons to be learned at almost 80?
Sign a petition against gravity.
Run wild in the streets if you can find some private place to do so.
No one cares.
Least of all you.
Stop revving up the anger.
Concede that everything is going to be a failure.
Be surprise at success --
even the wee success of treading a needle.
Jump for joy --
Theres no place to go but up and down.
Pray that your fingernails break before they become perfectly Chinese.
Encourage nothingness in every step of your life.
Praise your years in ashrams
where you began to understand the point of giving up everything,
be bored to death by the lack of drama, contact, interest.
There is nothing more.
Ask no one.
You can be sure beforehand their answer will be nonsense
and apply only to themselves.
And god bless America --
and as corrupt as can be imagined.
Human nature --
what a negative triumph.
Sail back across the ocean.
If done again,
it will be identical.
An old age of nose picking and butt scratching --
FOURTEENTH AUGUST POEM
What are the chances?
Im far more interested in the contents of my own mind
than I am in the chat of other people.
All those propounders, prophets, pronouncers
got here before I did. But that doesnt mean that their observations,
studies, pronouncements are more valid then what I perceive
at the end of a profound Think!.
Most of the time its pretty much dreck;
once in a while: Pure Gold!
But even the discovery of Inca gold does not justify
the endless dwelling on -- -- Human life is to move on --
and on -- and on -- across continents, and seas, across logical
frontiers and unscalable heights.
Come be with me and reject judgment and mental judo.
Consensus is the oddest concept, when it is
obvious once the umbilical cord is severed
we are forever alone in this world.
Love whom you want, whom you choose,
Even the melting North Pole is not far enough away
to mythologize any more.
Pick pick pick at your skin until the blood runs scarlet.
I once loved the stories of humankind; Now I only observe.
Live long enough, theres no point to say more.
FIFTEENTH AUGUST POEM
Dont come looking for me
and disturb the people who
live there (here) now. I dis-
appeared because I wanted to.
I dont need your kudos, your
recognition, or your kindness.
I live in obscurity because I
choose to. I didnt always
feel this way, but now I do.
Please leave me alone -- to
my fate and my word
Youll have plenty of time
to garner your pennies from
it. It? What? The Residue.
Which is all, after all, the
only thing we do leave,
can leave, want to leave.
Cest la vie. So now:
what is death like?
SIXTEENTH AUGUST POEM
All that is going to happen today
has happened. Its slightly more
than warm, its overcast, all colors
Egypt is disintegrating today
and nothing else is scheduled to break
the silence. The cat (Siamese) is fed and subdued.
I wonder if he ever wonders if only
he could take off his fur coat,
disrobe down to a lion cut
cool off --
to do what?
Living is breathing: in and out, in and out,
in out, in out, in out unto the seventh generation --
so the Indians
And here we are breathing, breathing, breathing.
We even have video from space now, showing
the whole earth breathing, breathing,
All you who believe that earth, our solar system, the cosmos
was created so we could buy gasoline at a premium price,
that dinosaurs lived and died so they could
thick ponds of gooey black ooze for us
to harvest and convert into plastic, raise your
right hands and touch your heart
if you can find
SEVENTEENTH AUGUST POEM
My kitten -- he likes the regularity of it --
even without a clock, keeps perfect time,
more or less. The less is usually accounted
for by his mistress being too lazy, too sleepy
to get up just then
4:30 AM is his favorite time for a brush --
and some dry food. 100 strokes -- even though
Ive promised him only 79, for I, too, get into
the rhythm of it and the pleasure. His little
pale, wet nose is pointed skyward when we
reach his chin, his neck, his upper chest,
silky white against his Siamese color.
he purrs and purrs, like a well-disciplined vibrator,
nose up, blue eyes shuttered. Im smiling
and he seems to smile, too.
EIGHTEENTH AUGUST POEM
The foreground of my mind
is filled with the legless Olympic runner,
Pistorius, due back in court and the publics eye
on the would-have-been 30th birthday of his love,
his victim, his nemesis, the vision of whom will haunt
him all the days of his life. He had it all! but legs.
And, calling in a favor he thought his due,
he shot away everything. One wonders if there will be people
in prison to snap on, adjust his artificial legs, keep them clean
and neat, useable, ready for the a sprint that will never come.
hell die of a haunted mind, sooner than by living a legless life.
NINETEENTH AUGUST POEM
Without effort and without consciousness
Jacklyn Gise and Ted Jorgensen created Jeff Bezos,
later Miguel Angel Bezos gave him a name. Then he became
the author (creator) of Amazon.com, plus one of the
richest men in the world. But, putting a financial empire
together still runs a far-behind-second-place to
creating a human with the capacity to do that --
or any other thing.
TWENTIETH AUGUST POEM
What is it I want to do today?
I cant quite seem to scope out a preference.
The sun is brilliant, Im dull.
I suspect I
would feel better if I were writing a poem.
Why is it I have permitted lethargy to overtake me.
I use to be able to shake it.
Not young anymore. Whatever happens happens
I dont mind spending whole days half-listening to the news,
half playing a jigsaw puzzle.
Half wanting to take a long walk,
down to Lake Union, and to the sundial on the hill
TWENTY-FIRST AUGUST POEM
I keep the radio on to make sure
I am still alive, some noise is coming into
the brain and the veins.
TWENTY-SECOND AUGUST POEM
Anxiety feeling that I have not felt since I left AFI,
and depressive feeling Ive remained quite free of for
a good 30 years. The feeling of utter abandonment,
downess, desertion that I always felt on leaving
parties in Hollywood. I would leave the glitter
and the gold and hurry to the car as to a sanctuary
where I knew I could stop being witty and gay
and bright, as I managed to be at all those events
I didnt want to go to, but knew I must, and
was distinctly hurt if I wasnt invited.
I wanted to be invited, but I didnt
want to go. Such an odd and
distinct feeling, that I would
guess I have never felt since
I left Hollywood. Until
today, and tonight
not even realizing that it had
become, in my absence of thought, my lack of memory
and attention, the last minute to respond to Flores at Xlibris --
affirmative, yes I would like to do a self-published book
with them -- mostly,
and this was at the surface of my mind, my motive, to just
have a book, cataloged into the library of congress with an ISBN
number, copyright, et al to make sure that I was somehow officially registered
as a poet in 21st Century America , with book. etc.
It was so urgent today, that I disturbed all of Margarets day
demanding to go earlier than she wanted to go to OPEN BOOKS
who rejected with as much cold hearted firmness the very idea
that they would be interested in publication. Like all middlemen
between poet and reader, like most ENTREPRENEURs of this earth,
they know what they want (money, fame, glory -- all
dependent on poets writing and artists making art)
they know what they do (not publish)
and even though the poetry entrepreneurs
or the gallery entrepreneurs
make all their money off the backs of the
poets and artists theyre as cold hearted
and business like,
in not wasting their time with poets, artists
sure they will not discover in the present presences
that which will lead to money power fame.
TWENTY-THIRD AUGUST POEM
Everything is worth trying -- at least once --
listening to sentimental road music on the radio
trying very hard to break my heart -- and
momentarily it does.
Why carry your broken heart around in a basket?
I think of Geronimo out there in New Mexico,
walking the glorious red hills and caverns
questioning not the meaning of life, but the means.
And suddenly he was free.
No place to go,
Nothing to do.
Who painted the walls of the Lesscaux caves,
or Chauvet, 37,000 years ago
El Castillo 40,800 years ago
The heart crack in two at the
death of those people,
so long ago,
who never knew
their link in the chain
or that there was a chain
Poor lonely bastards
the loneliness has not disappeared
TWENTY-FOURTH AUGUST POEM
I have a whole household of devices
uniquely, specifically, designed to
wear out batteries. No other
Oh yes, no doubt theyll whistle
away as I race down
the steps as
races up. What a relief after
12 years of enduring
when the juice runs low and,
everyone but my ears,
to do -- to shut them off or
disarm them. Next
time I may use
FIRST SEPTEMBER POEM
Beaten down by dark mind again.
I should be feeling superb,
and someplace in my body I do,
but my mind is clouded
with hurt and pain and
Over What! shouts the over-active brain.
(The cat is hungry. Must feed him.
The body feels fine, even good,
But the mind is blank and blind
with funereal crepe.
Is it the prolonged sad thoughts of
my brother, who I have all but
never thought of in 79 + years?
But thought of over a jigsaw puzzle
for a long time yesterday --
and mentioned to Bob (85)
who came yesterday for a
I really was an unkind -- or
more accurately -- an unconscious sister
for all but a few days of Cons
(I have no idea of when
All I can remember is that at the end
of each year, we three Jan, Sue & Con
were/are consecutive ages. So
December 6, 2013, I shall be 80
Helen Sue is already 81
and Con would have been 82.
So maybe he did die at 79.
Ive certainly expected to --
as that is the age Mother died.
Shed had enough,
even though there were hints
that she was reluctant to go:
sweet as an apple dumpling, Doris.
SECOND SEPTEMBER POEM
How many days does it take
to turn back to the light?
I clip and trim and handsome-up
my Lychee tree. It grew too many
leaves this quarter, bushy big and
Then one day it drooped, all the leaves
became stiffer, duller, drooped.
It may be five years old.
Once started, the Chinese
say it can live for eight
So I trim, take off every leaf
even hinting of brown.
It becomes a slim and graceful
stem. I give it a new home,
at the edge of my desk,
turn its nakedness toward
the light -- and wait.
even in just a few days,
it leaves are more
THIRD SEPTEMBER POEM
Obama has -- has dared -- to open the
greatest can of worms yet.
It seems to me, as always, that the greater the political figure
the more and bigger cans of worms that they open,
and now it is the biggest yet. Obama wants to
interfere with the war obsessed Syrians
and the American people
So now, in the electronic age, Obama has thrown it open
to open debate. Called in the Congress, for once,
very rarely in these time, left leaning,
to make the choice.
Hes smart enough to know what hes doing. Allowing
himself, the President!, to be forced by the will of the people
to be on the side of peace,
no more war!!!!!
FOURTH SEPTEMBER POEM
hen his wife first told me, soon after he died,
that John had claimed the painting that hung
in their Bellefonte home as his own, as having
been painted by him, I was surprised, amused,
puzzled. I had had a previous inkling of his
tendencies to fraud before from
his professorial colleagues, i.e.
I forget which one said to me
as if it were well known, i.e.., en passsant,
how John often spoke about books
he hadnt read, and some place within
that was the little nugget of knowledge
that he occasionally mentioned my opinions
as if they were his own.
So when Corene was nonplussed when I spoke
of being willing to forgo repossession of my
paintings (after his death) she didnt know
which paintings I meant, as all she
had were the ones John had painted --
which indeed were all works of
mine. He had possessed my paintings,
and she said at some point something
that let me know he had also possessed
as his own my stories about the painting,
i.e. the one that springs to mind is the picking
up of the ragged piece of layered cardboard
on which the bouquet of hydrangeas in a
paper bag were painted,
a painting that had indeed
hung at the Frye Art Museum
in some show probably from
the 70s -- maybe The Northwest Annual.
It was, as I recall the only time
I was accepted; the only time I submitted.
I still dont know quite what to think of these
stealing tenancies of John, his fraudulent
author claims, except I rather think it might
have been because before Corene he had lived
with another woman who was mighty jealous
of the fact that John had and wanted to keep
hanging quite a number of my paintings,
and this had remained a bone of contention
between them, a bit of a blowup,
the which to avoid, I am assuming,
with Corene, he simply
claimed them as his own .
Its odd how the feeling of outrage is
missing in me re this, to say the least,
inappropiate mis appropriation
of my work as his own,
Especially when I was outraged
enough to consult a lawyer
and do many things
including a permanent posting of
the incident on
when that gang
or she stole
over an hundred
poems of mine
them as hers
on one of the
AOL-? poetry boards
I worked my ass off
but all I do about the
paintings is give them
to Corene, and when
she died, assured her estate un
the form of -------------???
could keep them as long
as they had good homes.
I had no feelings of possessiveness
by then of any of my paintings,
though I did ask for and
Corene sent the portrait of
my feet, which, as I write
hangs on the wall to my left.
Interesting how people wanted
to steal my art and my
writing, but never
wanted to publish
or buy my art.
FIFTH SEPTEMBER POEM
N has a slight, smallish, almost unnoticeable
hearing impairment, jus enough, since he
often doesnt hear it all, to give his offerings
and his answers a slight skew, a little off-the-mark,
or at times a bit more than right on to
His mother, very bright suffers from a
similar, but very different impairment
Her life is very simple and very domestic,
her conversation contains only house-keeping
details, not even lore, just: I washed the dishes
and since the tub needed washing, I did that as well.
nothing obscure, nothing skewed about her information.
But what is jewel-like to discover she has a first
class retentive mind. Remembers her college lectures,
or last nights TED.
Is into the esoteric and obscure. And confident enough
in it to tell you swing by swing what the pendulum advise
her to do.
The sister, her other child, is a little kookie too, at times with
vast twisty mounds of dread-locked hair, bright amusing but
none of them prepared to confront the world.
Except N-having now made a world renowned app is off
gallivanting up full sail in a remarkable ship around
the mediterranean, photographing, and a new woman
friend, too, who already made it round the world
snapping pictures -- for a year! Good at what she
Oddly enough N, blames me for getting him out and
into the world, involved entrepreneurly in his app.
Extraordinary! The more more success to him!!!!
I actually contemplate leaving the rights to my
JOCASTA script to him if he continues to
blossom at this rate. We once worked together
on it, and he was remarkably good, made a number
of marvelous suggestions if wide off the mark
His first suggestion was to have Angelina Jolie play
JOCASTA. At the time I thought him, star struck
rather than serious -- but a few years later
I having discovered AJs talent as
well as her good looks, think
he was probably right.
Havnet had a chance to tell him, because we
parted being colleagues when he persisted in
wasting my time, but either being late for a
work session, real late, or showing up not
at all. After a few lectures about
Hollywood being the most on-time
environment in the world (i.e. overtime, double time
golden time, marching heel to toe through out the 24 --
you dont waste others time by being late or
not there. In any case we parted. But now
that he is becoming a sophisticate in
in the computer world of images --
way beyond my 30 years ago
familiar and expertise in
film. I think again he
can have JOCASTA
when I die.
Hopefully he will get it
filmed (by the BBC) so
it actually bears
years to get down in
black and white
and which exists now
only as a reading script.
So its an odd family.
I cant exactly fall in love
with them, but its like
being a neanderthal (or some
such) stumbling across a flake of flint
and knowing it will make a
fine knife, if chiselled and honed and
polished and cherished.
Three fragments of obsidian --
shiny mirror-like rock with great
black hair and minds like quick silver
let loose, but needing a container.
SIXTH SEPTEMBER POEM
There are three Nine Dragon Screens in China, a Country
so vast in time and space that you would think it would
have more than just three Nine Dragon Screens.
And though I did not know that even one existed before I
went to China, I got to, somewhat by fluke, I got to see
them all, all three.
What is a nine dragon screen? What are three nine dragon
screens? The first one I happen to see was way out in Datung,
a huge free standing nine part, the individual panels, square perhaps,
laid beautifully in tiles depicting 9 dragons, the sacred royal dragon of
China in their sacred number. The screens were high, my chin ,perhaps,
came to the top of the border around the panels. The lower border was
perhaps two feet high, itself set on a tiled wall substantial enough to have
come from a fortress. And yet as one approached any one of the 3 they did not
seem that large. One inside the Forbidden City and one across a whole complication
of streets outside the walls, across the street from The Forbidden City -- in a park
one almost wants to say: Quite alone. Except no being is ever alone in China, and
certainly not a Royal Nine Dragon Screen. But all three seemed to me to be alone,
once I discovered there was more than 1, an rhwn that there were only, only 3 in
the vast space/time reaches of the Middle Kingdom. I saw them all, but only I think
because after I saw the first one and the second one or maybe it was just after I saw
the first one someone said: you know there are only three Nine Dragon Screens in
all of China. It was rather like someone saying to you: You know there is only one
Arc de Triumph in France, in Paris, you know, the only one. I think the motive behind
the Nine Dragons and the Arc de Triumph is about the same -- Grand memorial gestures turess
upon winning a war. The war has been forgotten but there sit, the three X nine screens
and the arc, something you can remember and talk about, and even take home a picture of.
The Nine Dragon Screens of China.
SEVENTH SEPTEMBER POEM
My face is ravaged and I dont quite know why,
but lined, carved, lumped -- somewhat like a Japanese
(find the one that personifies both terror and beneficence)
-- and I dont mind.
like the ravaged quality
that attracted me to dArcangelo
eons ago. And Ive seen other faces,
before and since, usually haughty, hieratic,
old with wisdom and experience. But what happened to me
(though I guess one can call it experience) is, after almost
80 years Ive lost the weight I carried much of my life,
especially for the last 30? years
-- ever since the cookie jar at
Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks
(largest state park in continental USA)
and have tried again and again to lose.
Now it just,
with no gluten, no milk,
no sugar, falls off,
so I look like an iconic Japanese devil figure,
lined and angry-looking, which ,
if you dont flee,
youll find actually is a guardian
that means you well.
EIGHTH SEPTEMBER POEM
Every morning I look in the mirror
and every morning, lately, I look as
if I am about to have a transcendental
Or is the word transformative?
-- and the day proceeds
mostly as if I didnt have that look,
This is it.
NINTH SEPTEMBER POEM
The fog is lifting,
the light is intensifying,
brightness overwhelms my
dimming eyes, whispers to my dimming
wits. This too shall pass whispers the cat --
though he likes and appreciates the light perhaps
as much as I do.
Purr pussy purr -- and, right on cue, he comes meowing.
The day begins, the poem is written. Yesterday was
the hottest day of the year. Today
is already cooler, mist still
The highway hums, my heart does a few short thuds.
For entertainment, I drink some coconut water
and remember that through my sisters
children I am related to
the Kings of Hawaii.
My veins memorize their vocabulary.
Ive been to Haleakala,
Queen of the Night
along with Lychee,
new leaves now coming forth
since their pruning.
I wonder if they
the mirror light
from the suns
FIRST OCTOBER POEM
James lived on Sunnyside,
where I live today.
The sun pouring in my 9:40 window,
no shadows on the wall, the sun
has aleady risen too high.
And I think of Cleve, big and full of
good cheer. He knew nothing
about Sunnyside, he was from Texas.
And when he was long dead
people began to read my
other poem about him
THE GREAT GOD LESHIKAR
and ask me questions about him.
I knew nothing,
beyond the presences, the few
him talking and medriving,
visting places he could talk about,
places Id not yet seen.
He said friends were more
important than lovers, and
now I agree, except
now, they all seem like lovers.
Who remembers anythng about
that thrust pleasure
between the sheets, but the
laughter!!! ah the laughter and
the good cheer, and ending up living on
Sunnyside. Cleve didnt like
James and James was loathe
to admit Cleve
to his charmed circle.
But I liked them both,
and I am
SECOND OCTOBER POEM
At times the brain gets crossed
in the oddest way. I look toward
the corner and theres Shiva-purna
the kitten dancing at me. But youre
a cat, I almost say, except I know, you
are whatever you want to be. Beside you
stands Ann, as she will always be, tall and
straight as the bird she was meant to be. A
Great Blue balanced on one leg. unfolding
her wings today to fly to Lopez tomorrow.
Good flight! Good Cheer
All is meant to be.
THIRD OCTOBER POEM
The panic rises in me.
It isnt 10:00 oclock yet,
and up it sweeps like a
tsunami from the
The day is cool and gray as it was
yesterday, telling me autumn
is here, no matter how bright
I eat my blueberries and find
Im not pleased with their
One of those hallow ringing
sounds, emanating from
through the building, sounding as
if it might originate in the attic.
But no doubt it is the wind
the resounding wind
as it sweeps
of my nunnery.
Another call from the damned
who originate robo-calls
to the living
wont hear from them.
FOURTH OCTOBER POEM
Already the presence of the words
begin their mission of magic.
Listen to the rocking,
small space heater.
it could further the panic, but I
know what it is and I know I can switch
when the urge, maybe demi-urge,
comes to me for silence --
silence as if from a
deep, very deep,
Stay with me, O Lord,
for I have sinned.
Odd how the
at the very lip of my
I really havent sinned
for a long long time. In
fact Im not sure what
the word means.
I was rude?
I hurt someone?
I dont hurt people anymore,
not even me. I dont hurt,
nonetheless the world is full
of woe -- creating tears.
Read yesterday of a possible new planet
whose rain might be molten iron.
The sky opened, down came
FIFTH OCTOBER POEM
QUINACRADONE CORAL I
with a touch of Orange --
is beginning to appear on the fall
leaves -- that what I used to call
I still wish it were called
even though I am now
beginning to be able to picture
a dark purple when I
Today the massive chestnuts
just beyond the pergola
from the old pool house
(now an open-air picnic room)
to stunning color:
but yellows and reds and
left-over greens, some purple.
So I pick up a leaf
who once mixed, for me,
the exact shade of the
leaves, which I had always called
cerise, but which are
Quinacradone Coral with a touch
SIXTH OCTOBER POEM
QUINACRADONE CORAL II
Google spells it with an i,
But then Google has changed
into a non-comprehensive
mish mash selection of
some of the text to be
found on the
It used to be comprehensive
Now it is hit and miss --
Those of yore knew
when to stop --
with the lead in the pencil,
and paper by the
SEVENTH OCTOBER POEM
QUINACRADONE CORAL III
I did get up at the regular Amy
time, made some green mash
vegetables, and eyes so heavy
the urge to sleep so strong
all the good intentions went
whiz whiz, out the window,
and it was past 2:00 oclock
before I woke again.
In the meantime,
while I slept,
has come again to the
The eczema is in full force,
red creeping up from
my ankles again.
But I feel as close to
fine as I have in
these last weeks:
Margaret had phoned Kimberly
and Kimberly liked, not only
my poems, but my
wants to give me some kind of
exhibit -- God knows what?
as god knowing there is
enough there for a hundred exhibits.
But what do you put up to show
for a poet? -- 10 boxes full of
reams and reams? --
One could have a paper shower,
tear them all to bits,
have a snow storm,
a new ice-age of
So I went to bed, yesterday,
or the day before with that
and didnt wake up until
2:00 in the afternoon the next.,
at exactly 2:22 in the
(Listen for the echoes of Ignacio
Sanchez Mejias in that line:
he and his bull!)
So now, off to the food bank
to see about some greens.
Out again into the again
fogged over worked,
with the Quinacridone-
Coral of the
lighting up the universe
and my heart.
FIRST NOVEMBER POEM
Maybe their hearing has changed already,
from cacophony to an intense need for, craving firm
love of, appreciation for cacophony,
from the inundation of cacophony of
our 21st Century world.
I know I try, I actually am, less
judgmental than I used to be,
about the sounds I hear
and the people I meet.
Yesterday or the day before,
tears sprang to my eyes
reading in the newspaper,
about some judge, I dont think
#it was the Supremes, but a judge
along the way, was decreeing
that where would no longer
be just male and female on
a birth certificate, thered be
a place for X.
F M and X, and already
there was some talk of
needing more than just one X.
For at least -- what? -- a hundred
thousand years people who were
a little different in their genitalia
have been designated odd or
not as good, discriminated against.
Maybe not totally, there were indeed
the voluntary eunuchs of China.
the Castrati, for a higher purpose
In Italy, the odd pharaoh out,
Aknaten. What was he,
he had children and the
most beautiful wife/sister
of all -- influenced history
in more ways than most people know,
THE SINGLE GOD CONCEPT
the ignoring of, the ignorance of,
the flaunting of the incest taboos
to produce, it seems, many
Quite free-minded it appears,
until his survivors had to
crown his successor.
Then it was a son
who died young,
and left a fabulous
tomb for the 20th
treasure and goggle at,
And maybe a tiny bit
of legacy to treat women
more equal than men.
At least as much.
Then the reversion
again and again,
on the prejudice scale
every day, until
have every right
and cause now,
to fear them
only they are
now that we know
women can even
without the use
of that funny thing
that hangs between
the legs of men.
it is becoming
Squirt a few
sperm on a
and you can
But there is still that outstanding possibility of
the human race becoming all female.
every zygote is female before it, due to a tempurture change, becomes
SECOND NOVEMBER POEM
may have killed
from our current wars,
are killing themselves
at 18 a day.
One would guess,
it cant be too long
until humans discover,
that not only typhoons,
are deadly for humans.
In the meantime
This summer of 2013,
has been the
most beautiful summer
Seattle has ever known.
THIRD NOVEMBER POEM
And you wonder why I spend my
time, my beautiful, bountiful night-time
screaming at the moon.
No, Im not that crazy -- yet --
but I could be -- soon. Old age is a
the body disintegrates, and that,
my friend, is not fun.
unless you want to live forever,
crowding out all future generations.
(and the 1% may indeed
like they seem to want all
the money in the world,
all the good life
for themselves, and leave
nothing for the other
no food, no shelter,
theyre fairly generous with
the medicines -- money,
real money to be made
But for the rest,
pay those left just enough to
till their gardens,
diaper their kids
(very few, they dont want
to dilute the money,
the 1%, who are about to
entirely rule the world,
want the rest of us
in this case we should
all rise up
in their beds,
night -- soon,
so we can sprinkle the abundant
riches of the earth
again, and this time
everyone has enough to eat
and a place to sleep,
after a 200 mph
did away the other night
tens of thousands.
FOURTH NOVEMBER POEM
I just noticed the sequential date! -- 2:36
in the afternoon.
Good sign, I would guess. Here I am and
heres another poem.
All I can think of at the moment is: What
a splendid radio fare we have to listen steadily
to or shop around through. Some of the best
ever on NPR or KCBS, Amy Goodman,
Thom Hartman, and guests, BBC, especially
in the middle of the night. Knowledge and information
and interesting asides, some news that is news and not
just one more death report: murders, suicides, car accidents
catastrophes and, at present, what all the news people like
to call terrorism, etc. etc. etc.
When and how did they get the idea that I, the general public,
the better-educated, enjoying-knowledge public wanted to
hear about every death, the manner of and the reason for.
For what? What about some of the accomplishments,
the successes, the brilliant moves in the game of life,
the amusing -- Aha! but of course we also have the
greatest collection of comedians probably
ever known on the airways. Hilarious Jon Stewart,
and his accomplices, Stephen Colbert, and a whole bunch
of others I just stumble upon occasionally.
Really cheers a spirit to laugh so hard (usually just
before going to bed) makes for a merry, often
delicious, good long sleep.
What a fabulous age, I chose to come back in,
from being born on a kitchen table to listening to
astronauts talking from the moon --
not too bad for sheer adventure.
FIFTH NOVEMBER POEM
Yesterday I woke up someplace else
doing some other thing
thinks the bull elephant
or does he think?
there was some difference
waking slowly beside
much smaller than he
seem to have
knocked him off to sleep,
yes sleep. Why would he
go to sleep
when these strange two-
to be swarming all over his body.
And they did something:
if I understood English
I could tell you
they implanted a
in my left ear.
to know where I am going
where I have been
They could have killed me
SIXTH NOVEMBER POEM
I woke this morning in my warm,
comfortable bed, with all the lights
on in the dim, drizzle-ly, not un-
Saw, of course, the National Geographic,
that lies at the head of my sleeping foam,
about Angkor Wat, the July, 2009 issue
and turned back over to lie in the
warm covers -- trying to imagine
what it would be like --
would have been like --
[Several cultures (Egyptian) and centuries away (the 13th BC)
from 12th Century Cambodian, Angkor --
nonetheless they dwell together in my head]
waking in his
ornate hall. He, too
(or Angkors Suryavarman II)
would have had nothing to do.
but write poetry
if he chose
to do so,
or ride his magnificent gold chariot
out to the construction site of an-
other great temple, or one more
of a great temple
Where does that impulse to
come from? and so elaborately?
(For six centuries)
By the time he, S II, lived, the
land, 400 square miles around,
was already mapped with temples
and garden and surrounded by
endless, vivid, green,
rice fields and great barays, 1.5 miles bank
to bank and five miles long,
filled with saved rain and river water.
his hydraulic engineers genius!
But, if he chose,
he was Pharaoh, after all,
building his new city
(which in later centuries would be known,
the remains of which would be known,
as Amarna (named for a 20th Century
village -- a poor village,
known only to the world
because of the ruins.)
he (A or SV II) could stay in bed
have the horses brought out
and go riding around the construction sites.
Nefertiti was already up --
Perhaps dreaming that
she herself might one day be Pharaoh.
Angkor, itself, as far as I have heard,
never had any female
Did Aknaten never ask himself what it was like
to be Pharaoh? (He was born to it.
Like the air, his luxury existed.) and building
creating this enormous,
never before known -- anything
Suryavarman IIs plains of rice,
within which already existed
hundreds, maybe even a thousand,
temples his forebears had
built of stone,
dragged from the Kulen hills
to carve, hoist,
enormous faces in stone
brooding forever over the
abundant jungle, the glittering water.
What was it like to be him?
I wondered too, towards the end of a life
in which I have done many things,
maybe more than most, mostly modest things
like write and travel
and endlessly study
had the desire to build a temple,
let alone a whole civilization,
a new religion
by being able to command
the obviously willing labor of ten thousand,
maybe more, maybe less,
beings over 500 more or less years
SEVENTH NOVEMBER POEM
Without a great big death,
I cant imagine living
Why would you want to imagine living
without a death in fact
in the end.
EIGHTH NOVEMBER POEM
All I know is that he was happily
flogging flowers on the street corner, while
I was grimly pondering my fate.
Emptying the George III drawers of little
bitty pieces of flotsam and jetsam -- how possessive I am! --
of a bead, not quite round or oval, of a metallic-looking
substance, not gold or silver, but of a purplish-grayish hue,
reflecting light and purple.
10:10 AM, Sunday:
Thanks, S-p for letting me sleep
Maybe no more Levothyroxin
I have enough energy now I just have to keep it from
running out my fingertips in little lightening flashes
Up at 6:something to have
the second carton of cherry yogurt.
Slept very well, relaxed, deep breathing,
even the eczema is better --
two days with nothing more
than vaseline on it.
No Bach, no other salves or potions.
Re first sentence: years ago, when I was walking in the drizzle
(probably to Fred Meyers, up on 85th near Greenwood)
and there was the crippled flower vendor
who sometimes occupied the, probably 8th and
Greenwood, corner. I was feeling downcast and guessed
everyone else was, then I saw the Flower Vendor, young,
crippled and happily waving his flower bunches.
He might even have been singing.
NINTH NOVEMBER POEM
Now to capture the rest of the 11-16-13
EMPTYING DRAWS POEMS
Emptying the drawers of my large
GEORGE III bureau,
of little bitty pieces of flotsam and jetsam:
How possessive I am of a bead not quite round
or oval of a metallic looking substance, not gold or silver,
but of an unnamable, grayish hue, reflecting light and purple,
a bit of nature I have been thinking
all along is a rare, very odd seeming
mixture of a semi flattened
(pine) cone or some such:
little straight fibers fanning out
atop a hard, almost nut-like other side, and then
greenish very faded individual flat leaves? -- very short
fanned up and back.
What kind of plant is this? I kept wondering,
until today, turning it over and over and over.
I noticed a tiny -- what turned out to be beak
which triggered slowly, over this hour, the
remembrance of the
fact, it was someones version of a bird --
-- as I now recall, to sit on a wreath, and nature's
work only in the substances itself
with a reddish, very dark breast, papered
over horizontally with the same kind of what I now
see is greenish paper,
now recognize as wings, and a small bead--i.e.:
eyes of black something or ever, maybe flatten on the downside
for eyes, that yellow beak might be a bit of dried corn fragment --
and there its been for years.
Next a yellow, orange and raspberry color
glue stick which, summoning all courage, I actually open, twist,
and sure enough it moves, dry beyond use, but still knowing what it
was constructed to be.
Then there is a bright purple hard thing, an almost metallic shimmery purple
laissez-faire square, laid kitty-corner over a gold one, square ,
one corner a bit bent back,
whether intentionally or due to time, I cant tell, with a
open, lacy opens, golden wire, very thin and fragile by itself,
pressed into the shimmery violet,
almost chrysanthemum like flower
And then the final discovery is pressed into the back
is a post, an earring post, at top, above the bent corner,
its mounting disk pressed in hard to the black backside of the gold
square. An earring, dropped from an ear, or an intention to
put it into an ear, picked up by me years ago, and only today
seeing it is half a pair of earrings, the other half still, no doubt,
where I found it or with the original owner.
Next is a military-like button with a giant eagle, its flared and raised
wings forming an almost circle around a crown,
literally, one of those standing pillow-like crowns --
Russian it looks like -- with a cross at its apex, tiny, extra tiny, the eagle it self standing
on a gold and mounted double ended arrow., all on a finely looking like etched
background of little lines. You can even see the birds tail and legs.
Do you see what I see? -- how it takes -- (Im gong to count them: 230 words so
far, just for the earring and the button) -- to describe a thing, a simple thing seen in
reality without even a full seconds glance.
No wonder Nevelson (CK) and Lenore Tawny spent much time in their years of
mounting meaningless bit of flotsam and jetsam in their little boxes individualized
or piled on high for triumph display in a place like the -- whats that circular museum and
who created it? Ah! Frank Lloyd Wright (CK) and it was or is called the ???????* Is it the Whitney?
in New York City?
I saw Nevlesons exhibit there, and Tawneys -- I saw, vast bits and pieces of it in her
fabulous loft on 32nd? street in Chelsea.
And I havent even began to list the contents of the bottom half of a recently adopted oval
plastic -- maybe 6 inch -- box, into which I scooped up the fragments I
found in the George III top left little drawer:
bits of string, and bits of acer-palmatum (CK)dried now into light brown and fragile leaves,
plus the two fragments of red glass one of which, the bigger I think, was brought as a gift to me
by Shiva-purna, when he was just a little above kitten hod, and laid in my bed. The story of which,
I later found out, was that he had gone into Rogers museum-like-junk-store imitating studio,
and swiped, a broad swipe with one of his white booted paws, a ruby colored wine class off a
shelf (in those days he was all for getting rid of all my useless trinkets and dust-catchers), and when it
shattered, picked up a nice sized piece and brought it home for my bed -- saying what?
Hed run out of breakables to entertain himself at home? For he had, a year or two before
(Im guessing) methodically broken all breakables in my studio.
In any case, when Roger and I had done our 2 + 2 calculations and had a hearty
laugh, he was never mad at the scoff-law destroyer, and neither was I, though I am
grateful to this day I didnt lie down on to that fragment of garnet glass.
Then there is my bottle of Heena, a perfume i wore for years, purchased, it has to be alike
a one gram bottle in India at Ganeshapure (CK) when I was in India in 1983? and kept always near
a tiny tube of Mothers ashes -- I wonder where they are now? I find the very little
white-china cup still filled with ashes/dust from Muktananda's, maha-samadi , covered over
with saran wrap or one of those cover-alls plastic wraps and anchored with a rubber band.
I open the vial. I cannot smell a thing, though
I know its sharp, distinctive, not unpleasant and not pleasant smell of Heena must still
And this is just one one trillionth trillionth, trillionth of time and object
spent on earth in almost eighty years.
Why did Baba give us words to play with,
trying to capture, his -- or Shiva's, or my reality.
Which is what I use it for, words and time.
Dance Shiva, dance.
all will be different, half (nay 1/4 or one 1/16th)
a second from now!
One breath,one !/2 breath,
one glance from dimming eye-sight.
Reality, one might say, quite
simply, is beyond description.
A statement you probably agree with heartily
if you have made it thus far.
So now, what do I do? Toss the little
flotsam and jetsam
strings, and bone fragments, and non-scratch pads
for the bottoms of china or glass,
a paper , never used, what do the kids call them today?
with a very little yin yang image in fuchsia, yellow, blue,
and a streak of red on a silver background,
given out by clever merchants (at Trader Joe's for instance) free,
because kids do want them, whether they bow to Buddha or not,
more beaded and looped imitation gold-substance buttons.
Who knows if youll find them among the artifacts after I die?
And why should you care? Youll have quad- quad- quadrillions
yourself by then,
if you havent already emptied your drawers.
Human life: a longing to spend time with whats here.
*the Nevelson exhibit was at the Whitney
TENTH NOVEMBER POEM
Go there and play there
I really want to give my head a jolt
jolt it back into making poetry
Being interested enough in the world
to write what is running through my mind,
making the gift.
Its not a good time to get tired now. I have
a couple of assignments:
short ones: my bio, the intro, etc. for the
And I cant seem to fine in myself to get with it.
Tired all the time and dumb, numb.
Ice cold weather and incredibly beautiful
sunshine both this day and yesterday
and the day before.
ELEVENTH NOVEMBER POEM
Go there and play these
The sun is out, the place is warm,
revealed at last
after fog so heavy
one could not see even
one light downtown.
The Presidents jet: AIRFORCE 1,
is either about to take off
or has just taken off.
no noticeable noise in the sky.
Now a silhouette of downtown
shows beneath lighter fog.
5 is moving normally,
Maybe the Presidents visit is long over.
A man of tremendous energy...
or does everyone get that kind of energy
given that kind of responsibility?
I think we will know 50 years hence
(Ill be gone)
that Obama is/was
up there with our best;
Clinton, Johnson, Kennedy, FDR, Lincoln.
(All had trouble keeping their peckers in their pants.)
What a lot of good Presidents we have had --
and all vilified by Right Wing
Republicans, the rich.
Greed triumphs right up to today,
the Swiss just voted down a
cap on compensation for the rich:
a limit of 12 times from bottom
to top of the pay scale.
Odd. The little man still
hoping to get richer than his fellows.
Maybe some day...
TWELFTH NOVEMBER POEM
Two cherries is enough.
It used to be too skimpy to satisfy --
a serving of two cherries,
but today it is enough.
The appetite has diminished,
both with age and with learning.
The major change is, of course, no
more wheat, gluten -- that refined
grain that has probably caused most
of todays insanity.
gluten and you eliminate all of Shakespeares
isnt it how much
knowledge is incorporated
into even a casual statement
THIRTEENTH NOVEMBER POEM
Odd how today seems full
of riches and music
and I have done
The sun is shining brilliantly,
nay even blindingly annoying
as it comes into my solitude.
The air is warming from
ice cold to pleasantly cool,
my dimming eyes annoy me
a little -- but not very much.
The brain is just better
FOURTEENTH NOVEMBER POEM
Though I try
-- intermittently --
I cannot imagine myself
into the mind/heart of
a person, homeless,
mother or father or both,
sisters and brothers
shot to death,
No place to go,
no reason to stay
no reason to move on
except a bayonet at the
end of a gun.
Standing in the cold,
no place to go.
Waiting for a handout, maybe a handful
of flour -- rice, dry,
No fire, no water in walking distance.
Not that the distance is so great,
but the legs are tired,
the back aches,
the soul would,
if it could,
I try to imagine
-- from my beautiful eyrie --
being stripped of all but
the skirt around my thighs,
going on for ten more minutes.
On this abundant earth.
FIFTEENTH NOVEMBER POEM
THANKSGIVING DAY II
I have in the past,
to go to a shelter
a place manifested
for feeding the poor,
the homeless, the
arrived, more than once,
to find that there were
more of us than them.
“Them” being the hungry,
the really lacking hope, destitute.
Why is it so beyond
that they need
a living wage every day,
a home with a roof,
means to get food,
means to eat their fill
as many times a day as I do.
How is it the billionaires
can sit in their mansions,
-- probably not looking out of their windows --
and know others, “deserving” or not,
when one 99th of the 99th
part of their fortune
more than two, ten, a hundred of that forlorn
hungry, shivering, cold,
Surely the beautiful sun was meant to shine
even for that one
on this abundant earth.
SIXTEENTH NOVEMBER POEM
Poetry penetrates, permeates,
blows the mind up like a balloon.
Imagine having to admit to
being the biggest slave-trading
and, on the backs of the
Rutgers, William & Mary
our institutions of higher learning.
Perhaps we will one day
learn that caring
are better foundations for a nation.
But not yet, now --
However, today, someplace,
the johns were finally
designated the criminals
than the women
who, denied training
and equal pay,
due to lack of knowledge
forced to earn
to legalized rape.
The days they are are
a coming when black, brown,
red, golden and women
get to share humanity
with their oppressors
the strong and the rich
who’ve madeof earth
And now come the low
freezing them out,
It’s time to overrule
the men who have forced
humanity to live in
shame for centuries,
helped them to
learn from women,
children, and the compassionate animals.
Men must (and have -- in other civilizations)
learned to control their darker passions,
their desire to dominate,
to overrule the sacredness
of each person’s
She would like to keep it clean
to bear wanted, good, noble
to help humanity develop
Imagine being a member of the DeWolfe family,
the greatest slave owning family in
the western world.
FIRST DECEMBER POEM
Ive begun to subsist on tidbits, snack,
tastes-of, as I am sure our ancestors did,
hopping around in the trees and on the ground
When you get older you dont need more than a-bite.
A feast once in a while on a lion or gazelle brought down.
Who needs more? --
before the invention of money.
Now the moeny men are busy turning
every food into a a delicascy, to
sell it to you for twice the ricke
Teh comodification of the ordinary
into the extraordinay..
Itll all be pills one day anyhow.
SECOND DECEMBER POEM
I watch as the eastern faces of
some of the downtown buildings
are washed with sunshine.
Not as many as you might think,
They do not stand at the right
angles, or are more absorbing
than reflective. In any case,
the show it not a long one this
morning. All over by 8:11 AM
And though awake and feeling okay,
already I can feel the cloud cap
descending on my head.
I ate some white fish cooked
in the tomato sauce
I drank a cup of coffee laced with
Yerba mate and 1/2 and 1/2,
so the stomach feels full and just
a bit wobbly. Im still wondering
about the coffee/non stiff
The cat comments:
Apparently just eating
leadens me down
I feel I now weight
a thousand pounds
and am logy enough
for another nights
sleep. If you want
to be light: Dont eat.
THIRD DECEMBER POEM
An old woman,
just past her 80th birthday
sitting naked on the floor
in the sunshine,
dappled, because of the
leaves all about in her
eyrie, on plants
over growing in her
windows in her
studio on the fifth
floor of the old nunnery.
She sits still so as not
to disturb the shadows
of the leaves that fall
on her legs, her arms,
She is, perhaps,
an ivy entwined statue
who, yesterday, or the day before,
was sitting with young Rob
about to speak of
humming birds -- a particular
she had once
held in her hand for a
few minutes --- who then,
the humming bird, to return the
favor of being rescued from
the entrapment of a closed
house, warm in the ice cold
world of a winter day, remained,
the old woman thinks,
for a full minute
on her open palm
-- to let her enjoy its beauty --
it flew off.
She was about to mention this,
when to a terrific,
a humming bird!
from the south
into the room
-- between her
and the young man --
and trapped itself on, against,
east wall windows,
chirped, flapped, complained
guided by a word or two
from the old woman,
the young man caught that
noisy humming bird which,
only to escape.
But he, the young man --
and calm enough -- held it
enclosed in his hand
long enough to open the
upper half of the widow
so let the
They, the young man, and the old woman
were both astonished,
had nothing more to say.
FOURTH DECEMBER POEM
Why on earth do I sit playing
the jigsaw puzzle hour after hour
when I need to be writing! the 2012
bio, the intro, the acknowledgments, etc.
which, for the most part, are already written
and wait only for a final edit.
Im in a flaming anger all morning. I itch, the back
itches, the eyebrows itch, I hate the SPL for making
it too complicated for me to renew a book online
when it used to be so simple. My head itches.
Ive been so angry I have my modern version
of a headache, which, different from the old kind,
just feels like a sore skull, with only fragments of
ye olde time head ache in my forehead.
Do I not want to finish the book? Am I afraid, am I
timid? -- I watch myself, sort of -- throw up one itty
bitty impediment, after anotherr day after day after
day. The back is covered with the eczema, flaky, not
particularly itchy, but like the armored coats of
little beetles -- which peel nicely if you can get
hold of a big enough pull.
My eyes are failing faster -- I suppose, however, it is
nothing more than the fury, the anger the anxiousness
generated by the book. Margaret stays away -- and I
bless her for that. Suddenly she is too busy with
her own life to hear my call. Which is good. I
NEED to be alone to itch, to scratch, shout, curse
out loud, to feel a minor fury when the cat meows
and meows even though Ive fed and brushed
him thoroughly. Im even saying a blessing
because the sun is not shining. It turns out
Ive placed the MacBook Air where
the winter morning sunshine now blazes
from its screen. So the buttermilk clouds,
covering this mornings blue sky, shade it nicely.
But still! I am reluctant to work.
Reluctant to spend the 1 or 2
hours it would take to finish
the front and back
matter for the book.
FIFTH DECEMBER POEM
I feel like I have been alone
all my life and yet now,
wending my way
orange ring binder
that served as my last
book, (from 1986)
I find I knew
if not thousands,
More than most,
I would guess
during a lifetime
and especially through
the AFI years.
I opened it to find
the name of the
young man with
whom I studied ballet,
friend of Nick? or James?
and here I find names
of known and unknown
remembered and completely
forgotten, but at least a 100 if not
200 pages worth of names
of people I knew
more or less
who have all dropped
into the mists of time.
Dont miss them.
But recall some
(by no means all)
SIXTH DECEMBER POEM
FROM AN OCTOGENARIANS POV
My first expectation (wish) was to die
at 33. I would have missed out a lot.
No one understands teen suicide better
than I do -- even though I didnt do it.
I know the impulse, but I still dont
know the solution. Get rid of our
Success at any price civilization?
I dont remember what I was so
unhappy about for years and years
and years. Octogenarianism is good.
A giggle. Fun. Im feeling better
at last. Will this last, probably not.
But it makes no difference. Most things
make no difference. No reason not to do them.
SEVENTH DECEMBER POEM
Clang, clang, clang!
I was trying to feed the blender
an ice cream spoon buried in some
Thank god it said: Whats this? Whats this?
as it tossed the fraying metal round and round:
Bang, bang, bang until I had the wit
to click the switch,
to stop it.
The spoons tongue, now has a ragged
EIGHTH DECEMBER POEM
No wonder a man becomes irritated.
Imagine having to walk around for a lifetime
with that dangling between your legs,
or crushed up against your crotch
-- if youre in to modern dress --
which seems to have been invented
for hopping up onto a horse;
one spread of the legs or one
fling of one leg. The skirt wont
do. So, instead, women got the sensible
wearable skirt and men got
a tilting jail for the
most important, sensitive,
subject to injury,
part of their
they make a regular
habit of scurrilous and
indelicate mentions of
-- top to toe --
its a rare day, indeed,
when you see or even hear
of the penis being mentioned.
Its guarded, referenced only
in the company of sniggers or blushes
Its policed more closely
than the door to
the Vatican. It becomes
an embarrassment if it
rises in polite
a great to-do about
The Hindus early on worshipped
the lingam and the yoni.
of Western males.
Who actually, I believe are
more lewdly pornographic among
themselves than they allow
themselves to be
when with women.
Mention a cunt in (polite) mixed company
and it is shrugged off, but mention a
penis -- and the room goes silent.
Odd beings, being such abusers of misplacing
and yet so incapable of adding it to
the butt jokes
(or even the conversation) of their gender.
It was not always thus.
NINTH DECEMBER POEM
The one time I did, quite successfully, twist
the tail of fate, it made me feel bad
(hollow, guilty) for years.
And now that I am, for the first time, at 80,
thinking about it -- truly thinking about it -- I think
the main reason I continued for years to feel bad
was because I never told anyone. Oh Martin Manulis knew,
because I had tested my plan with him ahead of time
(he encouraged me) and Toni knew -- (and maybe everyone else
did too -- but as far as me talking about it, I never told anyone.
So I had this secret! of how I had manipulated the situation to
create the DWW in the format that we (TV, MM and me) knew
would make it a success.(i.e. have famous women in it to begin with.)
Years later I learned they thought me quite brilliant for my ploy.
However, going to the trouble to manipulate the situation,
set me on the path of feeling queasy, feeling
I was becoming too savvy , too clever,
too capable of playing a non-straightforward
game, that, though
I knew all along the whole milieu was rigged,
I just didnt want to be that shrewd --
like everyone else in Hollywood.
I really didnt want to be like everyone else in Hollywood!
I wanted (had been) honest and straightforward.
And I didnt want to end up being a shrewd
old monster,I just wanted to do the good,
right thing and end up successful.
I guess thats one of the reasons it hurt so much
when the shrewdies hurt me, pointed out I was
naive. I was. But I didnt want it to hurt me.
If I didnt know something I wanted someone to
help me find out, as I would have done/did when
others came to me for a bit of know-how.
God, I was glad to get out of there!
But also hurt and ashamed to be fired -- by that bitch.
I think the excuse she gave was that they were reorganizing.
As now, I seemed to be dangling by a clothespin
between despair and exultation.
Thinking, at last, really deeply about all the truly
earth shattering trivialities of my life
lifts a boxcar of anxieties and pain from my life.
TENTH DECEMBER POEM
You have the privilege,
nay the necessity to
Ta ba muum bec ee,
Mo ga dee shu
Ku walla lam pur
Ang kor Watt --
you hesitate --
because it is a bit older?
a corruption of another
what the English could pronounce
or the French?
I look up expecting to see the grey morning
and instead: streak after streak after
of quinacradone coral
-- luminous --
lights up the southern sky,
the mountain, a dark triangle
sitting down on the earth,
I look up again and the sky is fluffy
pink diamond-shaped openings
into a blue void.
The heater fan hums.
Maybe it will
a nice day.
I slept away the day yesterday --
after some lackadaisical aerobics,
today, in two hours, I look forward to coffee with Kat.
ELEVENTH DECEMBER POEM
LEVELS OF REALITY
If I found a ladybug as big as a whole Flower,
or maybe, a whole plant,
in my garden, still I would not be (or, would I not be?)
intimidated by it?
Is that why it is called a lady bug, i.e. non-threatening,
therefore, adorable, cute, almost cuddly if it were
still a bit bigger
and not hard-shelled.
Ladies are not intimidating,
Bugs are not intimidating
Hence, its a bland bug.
Let it crawl over my fingers,
the keyboard, even,
if it were a bit bigger, pick it up
and let if fly from the open window
as I would a moth, or a cricket
or, say, a hummingbird.
I have a ladybug, red and black-spotted
and 4 inches long, for a mouse
on one of my computers,
since I am writing for the ages,
I wonder if those who come after
will understand what a mouse
is, in this context,
in the context of the swish.
Swish, flick, push, dash it away,
pull it in, tip it sideways, on the surface
of the computer or cell phone screen --
which used to be controlled
by the typewriter keys,
and the mouse!
Even today one is no longer sure,
when you speak of a -- keyboard? --
that tomorrow the public
will know what you mean.
Will the keyboard remain?
Indeed, will the alphabet remain? --
when you can communicate
directly with a picture of a waterfall(s),
so beautiful, so cool, so refreshingly
bright and sparkling that you can almost
feel the mist, hear the plashing.
(Dont correct that word --
there is both splashing and plashing.)
And, seeing them side by side,
you can tell the difference,
the sound, the sight, the moisture,
the spelling --
but who will need the word?
Yet, the picture is
not the falls.
The keyboard remained
of a different
even without substance
The human beings I knew
may never return.
TWELFTH DECEMBER POEM
Who else is so lucky as to have a neighbor you can
call at 7:30 in the morning to say: I hope you are
looking out your window to see the quinacradone
coral (with a touch of orange) flooding the eastern
sky? and I forgot to add: Its Beethovens birthday.
Happy Birthday, Beethoven!
However, I still want to call it cerise -- that orangey-
pinky-golden luminosity of the autumn liquid amber
leaves, and the sunrises this fall of the most beautiful
summer Seattle has ever known.
Happy Birthday, Beethoven!
One can hear the glory of the 5th playing in ones
head as one eats ones blueberries-with-cashew-meal
So I found the 5th on You Tube and called Sister Sue.
She was already on the ferry on her way to the beach.
Theyre transporting a boat to Anacortes for repair by
one of the lads.
Shiva-purna leaps over the rim and into the tub,
looks up to the faucet and I am lucky enough
this morning to get it adjusted just right so the
rhythm of the drip synchronizes with the flick-
ing of his rapid pink tongue.
Happy Birthday, Beethoven!
Margaret told me yesterday, it was his birthday
today. She knows most things. We had a great
session yesterday, working on the front and back
matter for ASCESIS.
The sunrise has already passed through the darkish-
maroonish red of cerise.
Happy Birthday, Beethoven!
Dadada daa! Dadada daa!
crashes through the air again.
Happy Birthday, Beethoven!
Now, eating my breakfast chicken and celery, its back to the bio for the book.
Happy Birthday, Beethoven! Here come the strings.
THIRTEENTH DECEMBER POEM
Holy God! Im so sick of living in such an unholy
mess all the time -- and the cat meows
and meows-- all the time, too much of
the time, enough of the time to truly
annoy me. What more does he want?
Hes brushed and fed and loved
and he lives with an 80 year
old woman who is not
about to hop about
This is his prison and mine,
beautiful though it is
on the fifth floor
of this fine old
the most beautiful view in Seattle --
out over Lake Union -- lost in
a lingering fog at the moment,
even the trees, evergreens
and naked ones,
hidden like ghosts
in the fog
do not dance, nor play
toss a toy, nor swing a necklace
nor dangle a bracelet.
We eat and we sleep,
and get brushed
from time to time.
I want to sleep again.
FOURTEENTH DECEMBER POEM
My mothers birthday,
she loved the snow.
It looked like a real blanket
about 8:30 AM,
but then turned
out to be but a thin coat,
It makes me thin of Jim
How during the last years, months of
his life he was absolutely obsessed with boxing up,
straightening up, giving away.
What is It?
My activity of late, so jerky and droppy, and angry,
and though I have a lot more energy , it
is more like it possesses me than I posses it.
and I wont be sorry to go!
FIFTEENTH DECEMBER POEM
For Jana Samantha Holmes King Hawley McFee
as she embarks on her Chinese adventure.
Travel can often seem pretty shitty
while its happening, but is always
worth it in remembrance,
always worth a story or a laugh
or even a night of terror --
that it might happen again.
But worth it.
Like life, it is, almost and
quite often, worth it.
SIXTEENTH DECEMBER POEM
I feel like I am about to explode -- quietly,
into a thousand pieces. Is it the eczema?
or the coffee? or the too much time alone
to ponder, to mull, to roam through an
unquiet mind? Why unquiet? -- when you
lead a truly blessed and quiet life. Anxiety,
you demonstrate, is the nature of the beast.
It needs no cause, nor fructifying. It just is.
21st century angst hangs heavy on thy brows,
like icicles in a snow storm forming from
nothing more than the frigidity of the air,
the cool, cold, frozen, frost clinging air.
Breathe and you will see fog, then
the crystallization of the air. You
are. You produce a vapor.
It freezes. You freeze --
statues on a snowy
unplowed fields weeping,
standing still for a glass of wine
crushed between the toes of a dissatisfied,
perhaps vengeful god, an accidental explosion.
Calm down now. You can see the glass. And the wine.
SEVENTEENTH DECEMBER POEM
Most places in the world are safe, except for Americans,
so many of whom have trained themselves to find
terrorists behind every bush. But remember, most places in the
world have been civilized far longer than North America.
Millions of people have lived and died in primitive and highly
evolved cultures, long before you got here with your fears
and timidity. Theyll be able to teach you
how to pick berries and overcome sickness with fresh air, how to
care for the weeds and seeds, how to call for help, when
necessary, from the stability of the pre-human universe.
Go forth. Have adventures. Never say no to an invitation
to adventure until you begin to teeter on your toes --
about 80. But maybe 90 for the next generation.
and 100 after that. Were getting used to living here.
Just as we are about to learn we can live
with delight! everywhere --
as soon as we learn to stop living to kill
for war, pleasure and profit.
EIGHTEENTH DECEMBER POEM
I have a terrible hollow feeling in my belly,
the horror of living in this society
is creeping up on me.
All of it designed so one can enjoy unholy
amounts of things one doesnt want to begin with
and feel one must run from -- all kinds of, monetary and
emotional goodies. Oh the horror of having! Right up there next
to the horror of not having. A wild desire to walk out naked
in the tall grass -- in the sunshine -- or -- in the wind.
But where is the tall grass? I cant see any
from my most beautiful view in
Seattle -- beyond
the Nunnery walls.
Blessing for the new Pope,
hes giving it a try!
NINETEENTH DECEMBER POEM
I feel Im about to fly of any moment,
terror in my heart and in my ears,
but a pleasant terror.
My eye-sight grows dimmer by the moment.
I can still see just fine,
but I cant read the fine print and,
even with the old close glasses, I can only see
as through a dim magnifying glass -- through
a glass darkly -- fuzzy, grayed letters.
I dont know where the anxiety in my
breast comes from, but it even, this
morning, prevents me from wanting to
hear the doom mongers on the radio,
the mild ones even. Cant stand the passed-on
TV with its eternal ads and multiplying intervals.
It seems everything is breaking down at
once. I cant blame it and I rather enjoy
it. Why not go out in one sparkling
chaos, now, or two weeks from now.
The Ascesis book is essentially finished
Margaret can see it on from here.
Im eating a great bouquet of red chard
which I got from the food bank yesterday.
Shiva-purna seems to meow without
purpose. Hes eaten, been offered, but
some doesnt seem to want some more.
The Udi's 1/2 hamburger bun with lots of
butter is delicious with the curry-saturated
vegetables, celery, onion and garlic.
I wish Id learned this way
of eating 50 years ago. Im sure Id
feel like living another 50 had I. But
now it seems quite desirable to
lie down today -- and never get up.
TWENTIETH DECEMBER POEM
is just vegetables coming out the other end.
Others, I can see, might be quite nourished by it,
as we are with the milk of a cow. In goes
the grass and out comes the milk,
simply a transmutation from green
TWENTY-FIRST DECEMBER POEM
The sight is growing dimmer and dimmer
the will is also dying. I can feel myself
bent over, hobbling along like an old,
old person -- without the strength
or the will to straighten up!
and have good posture, on
the which I have lately
But its hard and
harder to set
TWENTY-SECOND DEEMBER POEM
and Richard Sera
go at it on Roses
12-25-13 show last night,
it was hard to tell which was
more pretentious. But I guessed
CR, trying to explain, or examine
or explicate RSs new show(s) at two
galleries Simultaneously, great hulking
slabs of steel running on, thick, not yet
a foot thick but running on for what? a
thousand feet? coming together in a corner
and coming back at you from the same
distance. Hard to explain it as art,
or even Why? But here I am at
1:56 in the morning, haunted
by it, seeing it, feeling it
(them) -- the endless walls.
Ann said she liked,
admired his work.
I didnt want to be
pretension too, but
cant forget them
(it) or all of them
-- who can
wants to even try?.
but having seen them
cant forget the image
of them, nor the
image of the
two old guys
going at it::
trying to explain it,
to explain what
they call Art
says, just is.
Or wants to even try?
Try, try again: just: what is, wasnt before:
Thousands of tons (or pounds)of non-rusting steel. The concept is fragile,
TWENTY-THIRD DECEMBER POEM
CR places a sheet of paper
across a glass of water
and a -- what?
The old mind cant
remember -- and asks
RS What is this?
Its a bridge
Is it Art?
RS says (finally):
If you say so.
But both reluctant to make a
it leads you to believe,
you say its
or hard enough,
or with conviction,
or on TV, or you are RS
saying so, makes it
(can make it)
Two old guys,
going at it
An elusive concept.
Words more elusive than steel.
TWENTY-FOURTH DECEMBER POEM
Dear Plein Jan:
One of the great secrets
if youre living in my body
dont drink milk!
Not in your coffee,
not on your cereal,
not in the morning,
not in the evening.
Just dont drink it!
It makes the bones
ache, leadens the back,
tires out the intentions,
makes you look
all bent over, like a
rather than the agile
octogenarian you are!
Drink lots of coffee!
Dance -- to oxygenate,
dilate the blood vessels!
Sail through the day.
Write a poem.
TWENTY-FIFTH DECEMBER POEM
A light fog, some-
what heavier than
when I first woke up,
hovers on the landscape.
Dimly, very dimly, I can just
see the outline of the rooftops
over the smudge of the downtown
buildings. Where they meet the water
of Lake Union the forms, shapes, clusters
Theres an intermittent small-bulk, whiter-
than-the-water row of boats and houseboats, skiffs.
Above them, the grey sky is almost snow-colored. Buried
in the white sky is silence:
no boat motor, no bird flutter, no sound enhances the view. The only
distraction around me is the circular whirring of the small black heater
on the floor to my right, beyond the limit of its heat to be directly
felt. But I have confidence it is working on the temperature
of the room. A slight breeze brushes my naked skin,
teasingly refreshing. If I were into perfection Id
have to lean over, turn up the heaters
TWENTY-SIXTH DECEMBER POEM
I sit, I wait
Hes off for
Ive asked for the
loan-back of his/mine
THE TEN THATS
The The Tots!),
The crowning piece
of the Haag Needlepoints
The Haig -- as in egg
In the hopes that, in
Vs absence, A M
for the adoption
of the whole series
THE TEXTILE MUSEUM
always, I have
will come of
my hope, desire,
on the other hand,
the possibility that
really be dead
a stasis devoutly to be wished.
My anxiety quotient has doubled lately,
maybe because of finishing ASCESIS.
to send it off,
to be sent off
Copyright © 2013 through 2015 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: email@example.com
THE 2013 POEMS
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BY JAN HAAG