Monday, December 31, 2007

art and memory

so, another year! and i'm feeling reading 'crime and punishment'at age twenty, lying on my family's living-room couch for several days, has left a stronger impression than love-making or traveling. which goes to say, art is an experience which may be more powerful than anything else we do.

i can't say why. maybe it's the intense effect of form, missing in most parts of our lives. or perhaps it's the fact we fill in the blanks. a great story becomes our story, our possession, or our being possessed.

on the way to mexico we listened to the story of a flyer over africa. i can barely remember the real road we traveled.

and this xmas last summer's obsession with the painter francis bacon met one of his paintings in the berkeley art museum. suddenly, i felt inside it - and the paint so beautiful.

how vividly art expands our memory, our desire, even our dreams. at times i don't know what was 'real' and what i imagined, and i'm not sure it makes a difference.

i'm posting some photos taken at a graduation ceremony several years ago. the pictures seem to me to have this indeterminate quality. yes, it really happened. did it happen this way? darned if i know.

these thoughts come during the last hours of the old year. and on the other side of the earth it's already tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the magical landscape

a friend just asked: "what do you think of the harry potter phenomenon?" hmm, took me a minute. then I remembered reading a book on children's lit years ago. the author said english books different because of their magical landscape, a long history of figures rising up thru the earth, or an adventure in another land set off by a ring, stepping through a clothes closet, or falling down a rabbit hole.

americans, being at heart pragmatic and wedded to science, don't have this hidden world around, below, inside them. (the indians did. it opens up too much that is ambiguous and frightening. our land is mostly raw material with a few mystics thrown in (thoreau, for example). but the need for this kind of magical feeling doesn't disappear from children or adults, tho it becomes submerged in our education.

well, this made me realize my whole creative endeavor has been to get in touch with these unrealized worlds. I've just posted 'in the mystery of a room' which you are invited to peruse: and if you look elsewhere on the general site you will find many manifestations of this experience: 'epiphany at peet's,' 'the secret life around us.' and I've done a black and white version of the chico dance theatre's photoshoot which shows in black and white the unsuspected stories evolving, yet never explained:

also in writing I suppose I am in the magical realist category, attempting to show our lives as surrounded by magic as any in mexico or great britain. take a look at or my hope is that a more mysterious connection with our own home will push us to take better care of it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

don't project your own decay

onto the world! this is tough. as i grow older and feel my body falling apart, the opportunities diminishing, i rather naturally assume the world is collapsing as well. ah, but it's not, not really. as my friend jeff shore said years ago, "it's a matter of our technology keeping ahead of our stupidity." so far, the circuit boards are keeping us afloat. computers saved our bacon, making better use of the resources we have. and look at normality returning to kosovo, croatia booming with the tourist trade.

yes, luck plays an incredible part. i've no way of telling how much. the world can be made to fit any paradigm and thus remains a mystery. the nice thing is, i can interpret it anyway i want. so, i'll be a doctor on a space ship next time. (except, right now, simply not existing after the demise seems more relaxing.)

perhaps i've said it before, but it can't be repeated too many times. my grandmother told me on her 80th birthday, shortly before entering another dimension, "do it while you can." friends have died at 11, 12, 23(2), 36, 37, of bullets, cars, cancer. albert camus wrote, "there's no substitute for a long life," but some people like egon schiele pack a lot into a short time. as ramana maharshi recommended, "put one thing in practice."

ah, thanksgiving. how fortunate i've been, 42 years without health insurance, traveling in 40 countries with almost no money, good friends, interesting family, time to read 71 books in one summer, paid for looking out the window. actually, i was much more pessimistic at 20 than i am now.

count your blessings, cut your losses, and keep moving.

latest pics moody early morning shots:

Friday, November 2, 2007

the soldier's wound

last night i attended a new play 'another day in bagdad' by david a. tucker, II. based on his experiences as a reserve officer in iraq, it reminded me so much of vietnam i had trouble sleeping after. summary: the call-up is followed by a year's duty, two killed, one wounded, and ends with a second call-up after that. the show ends with a projection of names, those from this area who've died. as an afterward, the playwright answered questions very thoughtfully. he had, however, no resolution to the conflict, but said the situation in afghanistan demanded attention and to fight a war on two fronts classically disastrous (not to mention the possibility of three.)

first thing this morning, i did find an echo of my own thoughts: i'm sure like nixon going to china, this is what's necessary.

though i never showed it, and it was never performed, pruned and fine-tuned for production, i did write a play about vietnam in 1967: this is what it felt like on the home-front. and david said last night the disconnection of the american populance from the present war very troublesome.

i've never felt too good writing about politics, for a poet lives in the world of absolutes and perfection. in reality we must operate in the realm of the possible.

ah, getting back to this world has been tough. i've been out in the park taking fall pictures at least every other morning:

Friday, September 21, 2007

men, women, and the androgyne

hi folks,

this time in town I went public. made it to four art history classes, two plays, and a movie. now, of course, arriving back at my post I'm entirely unsettled, especially being up at four-thirty a.m. and driving back. normally, I like to come the evening before to chill-out. no such luck today. luckily, it's supposed to rain tomorrow, maybe snow, and I'll be sitting in the clouds. afterwards, indian summer. this is the typical pattern.

why did I stay last night? well, I had to finish the triple-header, tho it was completely unplanned. let me start at the beginning.

tuesday nite at the university film series, 'the pillow book' a film by peter greenaway. I'd seen it before at the pageant, fascinated by the images. it's quite a visual feast, and of course has the camp atmosphere the director enjoys, with lots of bizarre twists. supposedly about a japanese/chinese woman who likes to write on men's skin, it's really about her androgyne lover played ewan mcgregor. once he dies, the film over, but it goes on for half an hour more on a revenge theme. it would have been more moving and just if it ended when the woman burns her books and the gay publisher turns his dead lover into a pillow book (I won't tell you how.)

wednesday nite I felt very honored to be the first person (perhaps) to see the the rogue theater's production of 'the pillowman' at the 1078 gallery (the 2nd dress before opening). frankly, I rather dreaded seeing this play, having read a summary of it on the web. it sounded really painful. but in the end it proved fascinating from the beginning and very moving at the end. true, I love this group of actor/artists and I am biased. when I see them live up to their potential, it brings tears to my eyes. see the show this week or next and judge for yourself. it is very much about men, their upbringing, their ambitions. I could certainly sympathize with the writer willing to be executed to save his manuscripts! ah, the follies.

thursday nite I decided I had to stay in town for my only chance to see 'doubt' at the blue room theater. I'm glad I did, though it's a very different kind of theater from the rogue (old blue room). the rogue is an actor's theater. over the years the actors in the group have learned to direct the action of the play as a whole and not just the actors moment to moment. this said, their actors work with a lot of freedom and force. it may be a bit messy at times, but it's always engrossing. the new blue room feels like a director's theater. this means the show has a drive and form firmly expressive of the director's hand. either form of theater can be brilliant or stupid. if the actors' theater has discipline, it can do wonders. if the directors in the director's theater have vision and skill, this kind of theater can knock you over.

to wrap it up: peter greenaway dealt with the androgyne, the rogue with men's issues and the blue room with women's. from these latter two I see a pattern emerging. this doesn't mean each can't deal with both sexes. however, it will be interesting watch the groups develop and their emphasis.

let's see if I can get some snow pics tomorrow.

best to you all,


Sunday, September 16, 2007

lessons from the grave

how do you pass on experience without sounding preachy? after all, one person's clean house is another person's sterile tomb. (see the picture of the painter francis bacon in his studio, the room now part of a museum in dublin.)

that said, the hope of helping doesn't die. so i'll pass on a few (hopefully very succinct) observations.

1. most of the troubles of love come from the questions that are not asked. we'll avoid conflict until the war is huge and destructive.

2. physical and mental stress change our body chemistry. (age, diet, and a lack of exercise too.) endorphin highs come from running. all but one anti-depressant work the same way: they raise your serotonin level. simple as that. looked at this way, something can be done, otherwise it becomes a matter of existential anguish - my parents didn't do right, society's to blame, i was born in the wrong age, my character sucks.

3. julia kristeva in 'black sun' maintains all depression comes from not mourning the loss of the mother. (jung calls it 'anima' or 'animus' possession.) whenever i want to be taken care of like a child i get depressed.

4. ach, this morning i don't want to be where i am. which means: i don't want to be who i am. is self-acceptance (self-celebration) the cure for all ills? under such circumstances i have to get back in my body. the famous 20 minute nap often changes my mood.

5. and one last observation from oscar wilde: one doesn't do well in a world where everything is symbolic of something else.

recent posts, including a debate between a poet and a president (1983) and more fire pictures

Friday, September 14, 2007

words last, pictures don't

having been mad about photography for the past five years - and art my whole life - i know this is an odd assertion. how can bits of nothing, passed by pen and breath, outlast stone and papyrus? i don't know!

i just have faith that they do.

words cut into the psyche perhaps more than pictures (even if we dream and think in images). maybe because they are 'other' and do not exist in nature, they avoid our defenses and drive deeper. yes, who hasn't be hurt for life by words? or inspired? what we overhear has a mystery. and what is yelled at us resonates in the bones.

that doesn't mean i won't keep making pictures. i love doing so. yet i have a feeling when a poet meets a president, something memorable has to be said, especially with the rest of the nation taking off in spaceships. see (hear) what you think:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

moonlight fire 64,478 acres

when the relief lookout called me and said a fire had just made a five mile run out of moonlight valley, i thought i had to be hallucinating (or he was). okay, it was several thousand acres already. for the rest of the afternoon, i felt on pins and needles. how could i stay away from my post? when he didn't answer the phone the next morning, i knew he had to be down in the valley protecting his house (he was). so i packed up a day early and arrived to see an incredible sight, which grew more so over the next couple of days.

you can see some pictures here:

that said, the reality tough to represent. you had to be there. tonight, a week later, i've been able to see the whole forest for the first time, the charred cliffs, the spot fires still burning inside the line. tomorrow, a weather system passing thru with high winds. we'll see if the crews can hold the fire back from exploding all over again.

there it is, more than a hundred square miles. and after almost 25 years of spotting smokes in the area which others succeeded in putting out! and all this from the tiniest of sparks.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

flirting with franz kafka

something strange has happened. i almost don't want to talk about it, maybe it's just a mood (so much is!). for the past couple of days i've lost my fear of death. it's always haunted me. a counselor said i was too impressed by death when young.

this re-enforced at 17 when i wandered through the halls of letterman army hospital at the break of dawn, selling the san francisco chronicle to patients as they woke. haunted eyes. burned backs. a captain whose body withered more each morning with cancer (he finally died and his wife told me to stop leaving him papers). six months of this travelling among the ill and dying surely filled me full of ghosts.

of course, i've tried to counter-act this in every way. for example, 'the fine art of flirting.' advice i enjoyed so much i condensed it into poetic passages: maybe they'll give you a chuckle, or at least a wry smile of acknowledgment.

then i've done the opposite, plunged into the fateful world of franz kafka. in santa cruz i adapted 'the metamorphosis of franz kafka' into a theater piece, playing the doomed cockroach myself! with the object of escaping into another realm at the end. (the process of doing the show as crazy and anxiety-ridden as the story.)

well, i do feel a tightness in my stomach. obviously, i haven't escaped the terror altogether. but i've realized i fear the pain of dying, not the simple disappearing. if i accept the latter as a fact, jumping across the pit of physical misery, i land safely in nowhere. and that seems simply a matter of ease.

Friday, August 31, 2007

picasso, conversations with the master

not everything has to be a lesson. as freud said, 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.' but some of us can't help being fascinated with gurus. take shakespeare, for example. at 20 i read all his plays, a play a day. images, phrases, repeated scenes updated, all these gave me a sense of his hand-writing.

or kafka and dostoyevsky. later 20's i read practically everything each had written. pilgrimages included a visit to the apartment in st. petersburg where the brothers karamazov written, and walking with a kafka reference book in hand around prague. (in 1992 these places remarkably unchanged from their authors' days.)

then there were other fascinations. with federico garcia lorca, his plays and poems. in 1966 the village where he was born near granada full of images from his works. einstein's apartment in bern where he changed history. strindberg's apartment in stockholm, as gloomy as their former resident.

zurick had no memorial for c.g. jung, but at least i spent a night in town.

we all have role models. robert graves, the novelist of the I Cladius series, wrote much about the importance of poetry and jazzed me up. who were some others? i tend to forget.

at the moment i'm a fan of bjork and francis bacon. i've eight dvd's of bjork, concerts, her biography, music videos, the making of. she's a fascinating character. (i'll be interested to see what she does in the second half of her life.) as for francis bacon, i never thought i'd enjoy his work, but i've read three books, including his really interesting conversations with david sylvester.

what all these have in common is a kind of animal energy (yes, even kafka). a force of nature that can't stop creating. contact with them, even at a distance, gives me a jolt and a will to continue. of course, this goes for picasso too, and you can read an account of my adventures with him.

other recent additions, including more pictures

Thursday, August 30, 2007

dance your way to god

we all have trouble with gurus. whether lovers or friends, people on a pedastal or outcasts on islands, they ultimately prove to have feet of clay, if they fall in love with their own image.

personally, i've listened to the 'tao te ching' over and over. lao tzu did it right. he wrote down his thoughts and disappeared. he resisted the temptation to be anybody. (when mourners were weeping over a body, chang tzu, the taoist phisolopher, said, 'he must not have lived right, otherwise these people would be laughing.')

yet in my lifetime the the guru i've enjoyed the most is rajneesh, later known as osho. alas, when he came to america, all went wrong, and he never quite recovered his feet after much wandering and his return to india. (after his death the poona ashram became an upscale resort.) this said, i really much enjoy readings from his early years.

my favorite book is 'dance your way to god', meetings with his disciples. finally i decided to pull out a few found poems and aphoristic gems. (the guy was an insatiable reader, originally a professor, and he digests and regurgitates the spiritual wisdom of the world - with a sense of humor.)

here's my little contribution to the memory of what he was at his best. i still find what he says very encouraging and relevant to my travels through this lifetime.

and for the latest listings:

Monday, August 27, 2007

the tough questions...

is addiction bad for you? should you avoid your insane grandmother? does it really pay to have money in the bank? can you live on the street happily (no bills)? always blows me away to pass a panhandler sitting amongst his belongings, smoking a cigar, and petting his perfectly healthy cat!

the ragged edges of life, as long as i don't have to be around them too much, are very entertaining. and without obsessions we'd have no art, no electric lightbulbs, or panty-hose. it's the wild ones who come up with the exotic inventions and who destroy themselves in dramatically entertaining ways (fodder for the movies).

i used to try to figure things out, and i had a lot of prejudices. ultimately, i realized it's great that most people have jobs and lead settled, dependable lives. this leaves plenty of room in the cracks for the rest of us. true, there's always a certain uneasiness being outside the mainstream. my most memorable grafitti on a men's room wall in berkeley, california: "the price of freedom is loneliness." i'm not sure it's true, yet every important choice involves risks.

so, here's what a friend called a 'sordid tale.' one of the seven one-act plays i wrote last summer:
also you can get a quick rundown of my latest picture and literary posts at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

have you tried hypnosis?

once i listened to a tape of milton erikson hypnotizing someone. spooky. compelling. then i got his book, 'my voice will go with you' and read it a couple of times. sometime later i found a copy of transcripts from his monologues. they reminded me of poetry, so i wrote some of my own:

reading more about hypnosis (and being hypnotized once by a therapist friend), it dawned on me: we're hypnotizing ourselves all the time. first thing in the morning on waking, we have to recover our personality: i'm so and so, living in such and such a place, that's my purse/wallet, now let me find my face in the mirror. we re-create ourselves every day.

and of course, there are times when we've been jolted awake, no time to put on our habits or remember our address. (the chinese say you're blessed if you have a bad memory.) if only we thought to change aspects of our character/looks at such a moment. ah, it's too terrifying. we assume the old rags of identity as quickly as we can.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

some days

i wake up feeling: "it's all over. i've had my chance. blown it." that's the depressive phase. i'll do whatever helps me survive the mood, take a twenty minute nap, go for a walk, look at an art book, watch a movie, call a friend. then somehow the mood switches to the manic phase. i've never felt better, more optomistic. this seems to be the path of those living outside the mainstream, by their wits, trying to create from whatever they find around them.

mostly i like artists who make work from their everyday lives. nan goldin takes pictures of her friends, her drug and love crashes. francis bacon painted people he knew well and when isolated, painted self-portraits. david hockney documents his private life as though it were a graphic novel.

my favorite books of my friends are 'gentle vengeance' by charles lebaron, based on his first year at harvard med. 'poemcrazy' by susan wooldridge, how to survive through words. 'my sister from the black lagoon' by laurie fox, growing up in a mad family and using fantasy to become an adult!

tales of overcoming adversity by creating works of art. perhaps we need them in a mass society where we seem to be drifting monads, no one more important than another.

Friday, August 24, 2007

let's talk about love!

the terrible temptation? the great need? whatever we say will sound true to someone.

the desire to have your back rubbed, (sex), the house full of physical warmth when you come home from work (a reason to work). something to keep our life off-balance. the unexpected. the expected.

personally, i've always been miserable when depending on someone else for my happiness. (last night, ran into an old friend. he looks a lot less depressed after his second divorce. maybe artists should never marry.)

on the other hand, the warm, fuzzy feelings, where will you get them? a friend maintains they all come from your own kids. but with these extra parts of your nervous system running about beyond your control, what then?

i've consulted the goddess herself, and this is what she has to say on the subject: maybe a word of wisdom will help you through the treacherous whirlpools of love.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

woody allen meets ingmar bergmann

at least one can hope! i can't think of how to describe my first play - 'the wedding of love and death' - to be done at the blue room theater, years ago. the wedding dress made of toilet paper was probably the highlight.

the only time i've proposed was by mail to a woman ten thousand miles away and from another culture (japan). wisely, she turned me down.

still, what if?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

creating your own worlds

friends have said a number of wise things about me. one: you want everybody talking about you, but you don't want to be there. two: you keep a toe in reality so you can live the rest in fantasy.

what an incredible invention the computer is! when i got my first laptop five years ago, i had to try everything, spent hours and hours with different programs. this was my only venture in 3d with bryce 5 (now of daz productions.) it was fun just to explore and experiment. i've posted a few samples:

if you've had to work hard all your life, this would be the perfect toy on your deathbed, providing your spirit with possibilities for the next time around.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the 1st replacement

it's embarassing! going through eleven collections of aphorisms, i realized i'd posted the very worst one - 'the enigma variations' - seduced by its title. that group full of commonplaces and worse, bad moods, bitter thoughts. so, i've dumped it. it's gone. (sorry if you liked it!)

only three of the aphoristic endeavours seem worth repeating. i've posted one: 'unified field theory.' i've been fascinated that einstein could never prove his intuition, "god does not play dice." frankly, i'm skeptical of his statement. however, when events like the invention of photography appear in several places at once, i'm left wondering.

true, you can muster the facts to prove any paradigm, especially ones opposing each other: the world is round, the world is flat. thus, i say, believe whatever you want, as long as you don't force it on anyone else. the world remains a mystery.

here's the theoretical post:

if you'd like a quick rundown and access of recent posts, go to:

Monday, August 13, 2007

now for something completely different!

by now my lifelong interest in zen is obvious. when i was 17, i cut my teeth wandering among the beatniks. san francisco. north beach. the co-existence bagel shop. mike's place. i listened to the likes of gary snyder and gregory corso read poetry. loitered in city lights bookstore. absorbing the time and place, though nobody noticed me.

being a lookout may have come out of this, though i visited my first lookout, cone peak in pinnacles national monument, at age 11 and discovered years later i could see this lookout from my cradle in solidad, california. perhaps i once stood on the towers of sparta, waiting for the fiery message from the troops at troy. who knows? stranger things have happened.

anyway, zen. finally made it to japan (twice) and when i came back in 2000, i got the bug to draw pictures and write fake japanese captions. here they are: a koan, you remember, is a meditation puzzle: 'what is the sound of one-hand clapping?' that stumps the mind until it gives up and lives in the present.

hope you enjoy them. please let me know if i unconsciously, accidently wrote something meaningful in japanese!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

a marriage of true minds

today's post is a gift to heather barnett and joe minner, married yesterday in livermore california. (you can see pictures of heather at i've known her since she was knee-high to a grasshopper). many good wishes to both of them.

i put this anthology together some years ago. whatever we wish to create, we must love to see, read, experience, celebrate. this was my way. and i pass it on to the new couple.

Your eyes are glowing

With the red wine:

How shall I extinguish their glow?

- Only by drinking from them both

With kisses

One and one after the other -

Then you fill them up again

With the yellow wine

Which I love the most.

Gunner Ekelof, translated by W.H. Auden and Leif Sjoberg

Saturday, August 11, 2007

sew that shadow back on, peter pan

as mentioned, one summer above the casinos at lake tahoe, i read 44 books by and about Jung. i dipped into my shadow, attempting to recover the lost energy wrapped up in my denials. hard to do without becoming someone you don't like! and then your friends, what about them? can they swallow the change? (when he started crossing his legs like a girl, she had a fit. where was the macho man she married?) not everybody appreciates our dark side.

to advance myself - in honor of Jung or as a parody of - i wrote a collection of self-revelatory poems called 'the alchemist'.

Greta Garbo

slipped into my dream

last night.

"My, my," I said, "aren't you

a little old,

or am I young?

Your hands are cold."

Greta Garbo

opened her eyes last night

and invited me in.

I said,

"Greta, my dear,

I'm but a child,

anything else were sin."

Greta Garbo

drew blood last night,

her teeth upon my throat.

"Greta, dear Greta,"

I said,

"I have done so little of note."

come to think of it, just the other day i was thinking of 'the imposter syndrome'. do we always think we're faking it?

and i keep adding pictures to my summer diary:

Friday, August 10, 2007

the fountain of youth!!

yes, it does exist. lives have been wasted in the pursuit. drinks have been drunk. pills have been swallowed (more every day). illegal substances have been smoked. and all in vain.

now i will tell you where to find it. the answer resides in the question. what were you doing at five years old? before schools and ambition warped you. some built sandcastles. one fellow sat in the closet, waiting for god. he's now a monk. personally, i roamed the woods, finger-painted, and broke my nose several times.

ask your parents. your brothers and sisters. this is urgent. for this return to the actions of childhood bring you to the fountain. then you must imbibe it long and with gusto. as the indian guru ramana maharshi said, 'put one thing in practice.'

oh, yes. i was putting on plays for the neighborhood. here's one written much later about a lady who makes the return journey. produced and directed by jan cohen in new york.

i hope you enjoy it. maybe it will be helpful in recovering the charm of time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

do it while you can

the bad news first: 'life's a gamble you lose.' then the good: 'you're free to take chances.'

today's post is in honor of the first performances of the new group. and it's a bawdy one in bars. check it out and you'll see why i'm in the process of posting 'THE GAMBLER, or the zen of gambling.' a story in poems.

for six seasons i worked on fire towers above the casinos of lake tahoe.


"The energy of the earth,"

he said, "concentrates in

some places." He took off

his diamond studs and

put them on the dresser.

Sally lay naked on the

bed. "Everything in history

comes to this conclusion,

sooner or later. Look

at that sky." The sun

was rising over the Lake.

"The human race keeps

going because of moments

like this." They laid

their cards on the table.

Sally hoped for a

jackpot as she caressed

the one-armed bandit,

closing out the sounds

of the cars on the highway.

"History is a series of

accidents, or it has

a definite purpose. Who's

to say?" The sun came

up like a hydrogen-bomb

and the fires of eternity

consumed the bed and room.

Sally felt the golden rain,

and he cried like a child.

Friday, August 3, 2007

city vs country

down from the mountains today for four days off. the transition gets harder as the summer progresses. in honor, however, of the occasion, i post a sermon. still rivalling my father after all these years, i've given a few, though in the university context. (the subversive poet at work. a couple were on 'the anthropology of love', another in praise of vampires on halloween.) more standup comedy routines than lectures, i felt the audiences bewildered by my audacity. these notes for a talk on 'grid theory' don't really show the insanity of my approach, but at least you get the ideas. alas, i'm less sure of myself than in the past. the older i get the less i know. is that the way with all of us?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

forest queen

ah, love, sweet love. only, not always so sweet. probably we need it to progress in this lifetime, otherwise we wouldn't suffer enough, nor would we write poetry. 'all poetry is love poetry', even if it's about death and loss. love was the beginning. maybe the end? great romantics like edith piaf lived for it. i cast my bread on those waters for many years and miss the roller-coaster rides. (well, not that much.) the great thing about love is it takes you where angels fear to tread, the black hole of calcutta, the dungeons of devil's island. as a friend said, 'you've got to value those warm, fuzzy moments enough. and mostly you get them from your children.' no, no, i'm not cynical, but i am disillusioned. these poems rose from a desperate but ultimately unconsumated affair: looking at them, i feel i was wiser then than i am now. some wines you have to drink straight out of the vat.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


okay, i'll admit it, the truth had to come out sometime: i'm a lapsed shaman. yes, i used to drum and dance, taking part in winter and summer solstice ceremonies. it seemed to be part of my writing practice, and i even wrote a mini-epic on the subject. you can see how it showed up in my graphic work

yet when i began taking photographs and prozac after contracting asthma shortly after my mother's death, i must have felt more comfortable in the magical world, not needing mystical reassurance (one summer i read 44 books by and about c.g. jung). still, as i climb around the rocks and trees on my hours off, photographing the creatures inhabiting them, i must not have lost all faith! enjoy this vision from the past.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

the sound of silence

at 13 i found myself making an odd decision: whether to be an artist or a writer. i'd been a bookworm since the 3rd grade, wrote for the school newspaper, couldn't draw, whatever made me think i could go completely visual? of course, i made the logical decision (why not, even at 13 i tended to be level-headed. well, maybe.) then i bought my first computer and digital camera in 2002. i'd always taken pictures, but got frustrated, foolishly not photographing in thailand, india, sri lanka, and nepal. my camera might get stolen. and the new digital age had just begun. to make a long story short, after 9/11 i felt nobody was listening. so i stopped writing. little did i realize i'd probably said everything i had to say in the beginning of '02. (feeling a writer is usually remembered for a one-liner, i've always written a lot of them.) in 'the enigma variations (2002) a summing up' you'll hopefully find everything that's fit to print. after that i've tried out the artist's life. it's a lot more fun and just as frustrating!

Monday, July 30, 2007

the disappeared

what's not so strange is the impact on us of those close to us. say my friend sherry, or my friend berta, . the truly bizarre is the disappearance of the man at my storage locker, the secretary of the accupuncturist, the seller at the bookstore, the people who give us a sense of community texture without being close friends. . stay in one place long enough, watching these gaps open and re-filled, and you begin to believe, as i have this week, 'all men are mortal. wayne is a man. therefore he is mortal.'

here's a passage from the second day of the cloudwatcher diary.

Last night I suffered death dreams. A Flamenco Master in Black handed me a deck of cards and a guitar. He said, "Study them thoroughly." I awaited a ferry on a dark river. Did I have the fee for Charon? Was this the change into something 'rich and strange'?

Last December, Isabella Nigrido, my personal psychic, said, "You were overly impressed with death when you were young." What did she envision? Was it my preacher father performing funerals, or my friend Max, shot down in the street, at home in his glass coffin the day after we played together? Gazing at his painted, waxen eleven-year-old body while old women in black whispered, I tingled with terror and raced from the room.

I seek to make death my friend, to die before I die as the wise advise, yet on this first day of the season I don't want to release the world. Memories of travels this winter - Sri Lankan civil-war road-blocks in the middle of the night - haunt me. Out of nowhere images of a dark street-corner in Madrid and the footsteps of a passerby in Berlin invade my brain. And I don't want to die. In March my friend Amy experienced the death or her twenty-three year-old daughter from cancer. She rose with her daughter's spirit into the next world before plunging back into her own body and she said, "There is no death." I wish I could believe it.

perhaps there are intimations of immortality in the rocks around the lookout, in some of the spirit pictures i've been adding:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

the best revenge

my father used to stop in the middle of his sermons and silence me where i squirmed and cavorted in the front pew. (i also went thru a period of being the class clown in high school.) odd, that i wanted center stage when i finally found performing unsatisfying. instead, i got my revenge by writing this play: the humor may not be the most sophisticated, but i still get a chuckle whenever i look at it. only many, many years later did i learn most boys have issues with their fathers. may i be forgiven for writing this piece before realizing i'm not alone.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

third time's a charm

does everyone want to write a musical? i suspect so. first time i had songs and tried to make a story. the second i had the story but no songs (and most of the action happened over the phone, a fatal flaw). since i usually do better doing more with less, i wrote something smaller, a three person pocket-musical: 'old man finding the desire to live' and that seems to me to have worked. at least, i like it. hopefully, you will too.

Friday, July 27, 2007

my only starring role

due to many misfortunes, only one of my film scripts actually made it to the silver screen (in black & white) 'mother thunder' directed by john lehmann, starring kathy martin, jeff shore, and yours truly. the original 16mm celluloid really lovely, but now 35 years later, sadly decayed. i just ran across a few rough and smudged grab-shots from the dvd. perhaps later i can post better ones. a time-capsule indeed. and the making-of a drama in itself.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

strike while the iron's hot

the secret of both poetry and romance seems to be obsession, putting oneself totally at the service of the image. when these descended upon me, i couldn't sleep, i'd go to bed, get an idea, and be back at the table. i'd wake up in the middle of the night, no choice but to write. a memorable time, and a pain. yes, the muse can be very demanding.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

they can be cranky

last night i posted prayers to things. however this discounted their kinks, which i describe in the following poems: and so you know what you're getting yourself in for...



know no shame;

they cut up

in the classroom

with a keen,




cut ribbons

at public functions,

collapsing pictures

into collages;

they like the irony

of me

half made of you.


point themselves

like two bird-beaks

at everything

we've done;

they swoop down

from the ceiling,

chopping the bed to bits,

dropping us

back into offices,

where they sleep

like innocents

in drawers.



when we go wild

in wars,

acting like


Yes, we need to be careful with things, defend ourselves against them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

we forget to thank them!

those wonderful objects like shoes, telephones, washing-machines. this is my way of celebrating them: help me celebrate the unsung heroes helping us everywhere.

Monday, July 23, 2007

zen we went

so far i haven't mentioned theater. always thought i'd get rich and famous as a playwright. no such luck. but i've written a lot for it. and these short meditations pretty well sum up my conclusions. and as an afterthought, i'll add a slight entertainment: 'henry & alexandra, the journey to cairo'. it's a piece that's never been done and that i'm fond of.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

fantasy loves

all my life i've suffered from fantasy loves and anima attacks! maybe this is what drove me to poetry: the muse. alas, this ended with my last collection dedicated to the unobtainable lady, 'bagatelles.' one of my few ventures into prose poems, i had an ecstatic time writing them.


I met an old woman in the forest who asked me to carry her pack, puffing uphill like a grampus to her little cabin where spitting geese and her ugly daughter waited. How was I to know I'd hang out of a tree at midnight watching the daughter peel off her face and skin revealing the princess who'd been thrown out of the house for not saying she loved the king her father enough? In that moonlight I lost whatever innocence I had and I've been carrying the parcels of old women whenever I can, hoping they'll lead me to that same home.

you can read the progression of loss at

Saturday, July 21, 2007

the angora lake letters of rabbi niemann

my friends give much better advice than i do. read: 'my sister from the black lagoon' by laurie fox, 'foolsgold' by susan wooldridge, 'gentle vengeance' by charles lebaron, and 'a little book of forgiveness' by d. patrick miller. that said, i have tried my hand at the trade (many times). an example is the summer i worked at angora lookout and wrote to my friends, changing their names and my own. here's an example:

July 10, 198_

Dear Skeezix,

Hurry is the hidden enemy. I'm never safe from anxiety. When I begin bumping into things, watch out. I'm as likely to run you down as say good morning.

How is it I accomplish so much sometimes, not skipping a heartbeat, and other times do nothing, panting all the way? It must have to do with organizing my time, options for breakdowns.

My car broke down yesterday, as I was returning to the lake. I drove thirty miles in second gear. A simple, one-hour repair turned into a three-hour ordeal. Wondering, waiting, worrying, I banged into a railway barrier and bloodied my head. That finally slowed me down. I sat and meditated by a river. I watched two kids learning to kayak. I watched a young woman come home from work. She bent over a man stretched out on a backyard couch. She massaged his temples gently. I felt lonely.

Somehow, when we do the essential first, what is close to our heart, whether it be work, play, or love, we accomplish a lot, we do what we need most, and the rest is simply extra.

No wonder we need to sit by a river, let it wash our cares away. If love comes first, don't substitute bowling, or the rigors of the office. Seek out love, and be satisfied.



read the rest at

Friday, July 20, 2007

greek salad days

it's so strange to go back and look at all the stuff i've written. much of it seems like doggerel and preaching! on the other hand once in a while i'd escape into things much more fun, like the only novel i've written, "Visible", based on my eight months on a greek island in the sixties. i combined myself and other characters, so don't take this as strictly autobiographical!


"You're very inexperienced," said Minaret.
She was leaning on her elbow, looking down at him. He had just opened his eyes. Sunlight streamed in a window. It was brutal. It was morning. "You really are," she said.

His mouth tasted like ashes.

"How old are you?" she asked.


"How old?"

"Old as Methusala."

"No," she laughed. "Not so young. Twenty-two, or three, I think."

"Twenty-three," he said, remembering.

"Amazing! Twenty-three, and never been bred."

"I have been...briefly."

"God, I'll bet it was brief! Minaret's bare breasts quivered before his eyes. Two pink pears tipped by tiny, grey-blue nipples. She must be cold, he thought. "Tell me something about yourself," said Minaret, stroking the hair on his chest.

How had this happened? He'd gotten drunk and gone to bed with a woman. He'd done something spontaneous, something human. It gave him a headache. "What about some coffee," he said.

"Oh, you poor boy." Minaret leaned down, kissed him on the chest. "You're getting brown."

Yes, his body less like a white slug every day. "Coffee?"

"Alright, alright." Minaret bounced out of bed. She threw on a robe, and disappeared from the room. A minute later, P. heard pans rattling and Minaret singing:

Barely, barley,
Whip it all up fairly.
Jennie's got a blue nose,
Judy ate a cankered rose.
Barley, barley,
Whip it all up fairly.

How had it happened? Astrology...Mozart... She was going to show him something. I guess, he thought, she's shown me.

there's the raciest part in the story! however, i think the rest is fun. you're welcome to read for free.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

trial and error

when young, i dreamed about a beautiful, dark-haired witch with black eyes, who, everytime she kissed me, sapped my strength. i'm still living in that land, and this is one of my favorite collection of poems.


The fool falls on his feet,
that's for sure, and the wise
man breaks his bones, that's
how it happens. For example,
a fool and a wise man decided
to go on the road. They bought
a cart. The wise man wanted
to put the horse before the cart.
"No," said the fool, "that way he'll
get tired, and besides, he might
fall in a hole." So they put the
horse behind the cart and began
their journey by going backwards.
They were halfway around the world
when the wise man said, "This
is getting me nowhere, I'm,

going home," and he set out
to follow their tracks back. Now
what he didn't know was the
Devil disguised as a huge worm
had eaten a hole in the road
somewhere between here and China,
so he fell in the hole and broke
his neck. The fool went ahead,
singing songs and having a good
time. He came home yesterday,
and I'm marrying him tomorrow.
Marry somebody lucky, I say,
and you'll never go hungry.
The Devil can't second-guess a fool.

read the rest of them at
more poems:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


yes, leaving town is one of the best ways to escape chores! in 1992 i spent four months in europe, two of them with my travel partner, berta gardner (the picture from mexico on another of our trips)
here's a few notes i wrote after coming home.
3. Whatever makes the present everything makes us live: an accident, love, travel.
4. Because everything is strange when we travel, we look with children's eyes, hence renewal.
5. It's strange that what makes us comfortable also makes us miserable.
12. It's a fine line between feeling alien and feeling refreshed.
15. He searches the world for intimate spaces. The grand did nothing to comfort him.
17. All our lives it's a battle between buying a house and taking a trip.
19. We search and search for the place that feels like a mother to us.
20. Only when he knew the whole world would he feel safe at home.
32. In becoming spiritual we often desire to escape life.
33. More often we are in love with the idea of liberty than liberty itself.
47. We take ourselves seriously until confronted by the inevitable.
54. Just the motion itself, the rocking of the boat, the clicking of the wheels, it was enough. He'd returned to his mother's womb.
60. The only freedom is the love of change.
74. Travel grants us the freedom of ignorance. In a new culture we don't catch the subtle signals telling us what to do.
79. Why do I always end up having a cultural experience when all I want to really do is lie on the beach?
89. After being bewildered by people it's a relief to turn to books.
95. He ruined his body, but had a good time doing it.
108. Hidden from the world he could be what he wanted. As long as he could live without an audience he was free.
144. It's not that we don't know what we want. It's that we fear what we want.
160. When he took his past back from her he, at first, felt empty, for she had confirmed his existence, even as she seemed to steal it.
169. The child reaches for a glittering object. This is the history of humanity.
176. They loaded up the trucks. As Lenny Bruce said, when he died his precious possessions had become junk.
201. Too often we mistake changing the world for changing ourselves.
231. Love or coffee, take your pick. One or the other will give you inspiration.
if these have made you curious, you can browse the whole collection
thanks for listening!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


alas, sometimes the best of us can't resist the temptation to save the world. take the story of poor murphy.
Let's go back to the beginning. Way back. Before the bloody battles and terrible insights. Before the flag filled with bullet-holes and the demise of Murphy's machine.
It all began in an industrial town in the middle of the country. Work went on as usual. Black smoke poured into the sky. A hundred thousand hands punched a hundred thousand clocks. Steam-drills pounded in the mineshafts. Automobiles creaked down assembly-lines. Two old ladies walked along Main Street, looking for the perfect mushroom. And Murphy, in a blond wig, sat under a hairdryer, reading Karl Marx.
Murphy had had a hard day.
He had ridden into town on his high-level chopper. Stopped at a diner. Ordered ham and eggs. Had even reached for the relish - when he was recognized by the waitress. Luckily, he had finished his coffee when the police walked in.
Being a man of action, Murphy ran into the Men's Room. Locked the door. Climbed out through the skylight, grabbing some woman's clothes hanging on a line. He leaped onto the street, was on his chopper and gone before the police could get their pistols smoking.
Murphy felt oppressed. As the girl worked his nails over and added a bit of polish, he read the words, "Bikers unite, you've nothing to lose but your chains."
The woman sitting next to Murphy coughed nervously.
"Young woman," she asked, "why do you wear black boots?"
you can read the whole sad tale at: