INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO
Posted beginning: June 28, 2002
To the music school she wore a cap of golden pearls
and played an instrument of gleaming wood,
a strange instrument played by a bow and oddly cut,
with a tone, in the North Indian Classical Tradition, of ineffable sweetness.
She was beautiful as a goddess,
Saraswati, perhaps, with golden hair. I hardly dared speak to her.
When I did it was to ask the name of her instrument.
"It's called an esraj," she said.
I knew no more.
By a circuitous route along paths of pain, we became friends.
We walked in the woods, we walked the Golden Gate,
we went to meetings, and the beach.
We were full of adventure
as we talked away her anguish and my own.
She wanted to manifest a mate.
For a woman who walks on the earth,
free as a goddess, it is hard to find a match,
but she managed it:
a man of gentleness, kindness and sweetness. In Robert,
noble of head and soft of manner,
one feels Daniela has met a man as
sweet and melodious as the music
she plays upon her esraj
When Daniela told Robert she felt
as if she had manifested him by her desire,
he laughed and said:
"But I remember existing before I met you."
Daniela Birschel + Robert Manis
In North Indian Classical Music only one raga
refers specifically to ni and ma:
Da ni ela Ma nis.
From Bhupali, ni and ma are missing.
No doubt they ran off to paradise to be married.
Or, another way of looking at it is, there are now two nis,
Da ni ela Ma nis,
where before there was only one.
Ni to ni, so to speak.
Are they komal or shuddh?
Are they in madra or madhya?
Only time will tell, as only time
will tell how much more of the sargam will be born
to Ma ni s
and in which raga.
As witness to the wedding,
I look forward to walking, sometimes,
with Daniela and Robert, in the years ahead,
across the Golden Gate, through the woods and along the beach,
witnessing as their love leads them—
after this ceremony upon Mt. Tamalpais
where a few friends
and all the beauty of Marin's landscape wish them well—
along paths of joy and through the saptaks of living.
of your night hides
wide plains of love
from the gazelle of
All highway communities are the same
and they will be too
the day after tomorrow
the Sheriff's car parked at the park
the old hotel too old to be much used
the Airport Cafe where they hang out
at the airport
to watch the Cessnas fly in and out
with all the commotion of locusts
where grasshoppers hop
and cicadas buzz
Where the school house of concrete block
replaces the old one of sandstone and sand
where everyone knows every child by name
in the town square
and after dark
Where the sun comes blazing over the hollyhocks
ten feet tall and the
dogs bay at me
returning here today and
the day after tomorrow
squinting into the darkness
of the locked-up tavern
where the handsome local young men drink beer
until their bellies swell to bull frog size
burping and bellowing
Too much peace
too much contentment
too much work on the railroad
on road gangs
pretty well peripheral to the technological
all depending on civilization
represented by bars in San Diego
bars in the City of the Angels
bars across the border
Contentment and boredom
and the white hot sun
it's a good life
they have time to
"Set a spell"
under the cottonwood trees
like the movie star
like the other movie star
Life imitates art
and the day after tomorrow
will be the same
and the stars will
the day after tomorrow
with the grocery stores full of canned goods
the diet full of starch
yards full of rusty cars
peace and contentment of the gods
Lutheran and a camp for the Catholics
Driving through America
one knows God came from a noble lineage of
poor white trash
upright and angry
singing Rock of Ages and having
Just a Closer Walk With Thee
God sings in the mines and the saw mills
he hums along the railroads
he whirls in dust down the dry river beds
nods in heavy headed giantism
along with the sunflowers
craning their necks to follow their maker
and the morning glories
opening on command
God was born poor white trash
and he lives in the dance hall on Saturday night
and rises on Sunday morning
pure as a virgin
purged of her boredom
and after church
appreicates more than anyone will ever know
the too large servings of shortcake
with strawberries and fried chicken with gravy
all highway communities will remain the same
the day after tomorrow
And those of us who want to
will dance around the rims
of the rusty wagon wheels
on resurrection day
among the hollyhocks
When Fray Francisco Dominguez came to Picuris
Juan Arguello, at ninety-nine, or ninety-eight,
walked nine miles to
ask him for alms to help build his church
Upon noting this in his report, Fray Dominguez
"And since I have nothing, I gave him that, with many
for his devotion." From the whole realm Arguello gathered
amounting to nine pesos, six reales, and built -- it took him
twenty years --
his church of San Jose de Gracia, which stands still after more
hundred years. He built it with sweat, he built it with the help of his
brothers, and when it was done it stood, massive, towering. From 1760
a peso could purchase one plain,
candleholder. Like Fray Dominguez,
of The Traps had nothing.
She lives at the Bluffs of Barton,
a complex overlooking Austin,
that complex, old, boomtown
of a city, rising high, too high
for the Colorado
River to support it, too widespread
for pure water to reach
it. Austin floats on nature's aquifers
made deadly by the wastes
of man -- and woman. Effluvia
floats where the redbuds used
to float, where blue mountain laurel blooms
too late, too high smelling
to keep her happy. She's turned, twisted,
she's worn bluebonnets, she's
smiled 'til her eyelids crinkle: cirrus
clouds on a winter day,
a cold front coming down, hurting. O
God, hurting! The pain's red
hot, the land's gone dry, there's drought. She fasts
--except her wine, her beer,
her chocolate pie -- she fasts, she fasts.
"Divide," he said. "Have it
all!" she cried. One more noxious body
in the aquifir can't
hurt anyone, least of all her.
She'll let you know what complex to name
after the Bluffs of Barton, after her.
I don't know when it happened.
I've had two, you know -- one my
father got for me, from a
boy I never lived with -- but
did love, the other husband
got his when I was out of
town, on grounds of desertion
-- I thought that a charming cause --
he, having driven me to
New York in our little red
car, dropped me in the Village,
gave me a peck on the cheek,
ending ten years of worthwhile
wedding, not one of them bliss.
It's a setting free, you know,
it's a turning round, a letting go,
it's a dance, done modern style.
It's a change, quite small, from day to day
for other loves, others gone.
It's a little training for death.
You'll be happy when you're eighty,
you know, having had a little
experience of letting go
from day to day, of others gone.
There will be others' love.
There will be others gone.
Divorce is two
a voice is won.
After my divorce I spent
ten years being famous,
three years a poet,
two a nanny,
eternity being happily dead.
O, it's so peaceful in
a narrow, single
grave. The flowers
fingering down, acround my
nipples, all pale pink with
about pure, celibate bliss.
What if she'd discoved
the truth, too? Only
had two: brother,
I opened my hand, the bird flew off
I opened my heart, and all flew in
I opened my eyes, the world was mine
No bird did not sing for me
No heart did not beat for me
No eyes were closed againt me
This world was mine, could have been thine
flowed the dark,
purple, blue, black
when it began.
The carved marble
bridge, rich as an emperor's
oiled and smooth, the great
revolution. Horses fell
with their carriages, stars
through the embryo
of time in up-
like tire irons: you
could hardly see their
sex or imagine their
consciousness. Yet a certain
gaiety emerged: outside
gravity, the river flowed
swift, thick in the dawn or
the dusk or the day.
into frost, trailed
laughter and dusters,
Milky Ways among stars.
Large hats, lilacs a flower
showered the white horses, hobby
horses, substantial buildings,
squared energy. Gnarl legged,
over the bridge they
and high hue,
booted, furred, foxed
the bridge yawned down, marble
crumbling, alabaster, time
fluted, garlanded, heavier than
steel. The horse righted itself.
The carriage disappeared
time, sucked back toward
the moon. There
no where to swim,
for the oiled surface
reflected, mirrored, shown.
Afraid to jump or float, the
overcoated gentlemen knelt
up, down, stood for joy. It was
a surprise, a vague, dear,
surprise. The tree lined
streets held iron
upstream. The sun
broke through, a balloon
went up, the weather's test
was fine up high; below, damp.
The capillary mountains like a lizard's back,
the dragon's march as the Chinese saw The Wall,
like the plane of a liver on the butcher's block,
the orange tinted purple of a day's death
haunt the insides
as well as the soft pink tongue
and the blue-eyed life of the iris' pool
where swim the perceptions of the day
and the block and The Wall and the
saurian's horny back.
+ TRAVEL +