October 11, 2018 § Leave a comment
It’s a balmy day. And I
start at the Chinese consulate
in Japantown and walk
to North beach near
I carry the same obsession:
“All this walkin’ is gonna make a writer outta me. Gonna make a writer outta me, cause experience makes the writer—”
cirrus clouds interrupt my thoughts,
writing makes a writer
too high to grasp,
but I notice them.
“I see you”, I mutter.
2. 16th street
“Click-clack, click-clack”- my shoes go click-clack.
He calls out to me, “Click-Clack! Click-Clack!”
I wanna stick it to ya- Click-clack”.
Straight to the point.
A tongue shoots bullets from the mouth
of a faceless stranger.
I’m hit in the back
I stagger, but not fall
I can not fall.
I. must. keep. walking.
Click-clack. The sound of
my high heels on pavement.
They are not that high, not sexy, not askin’ for it;
(no one ever asks for it)
sophisticated shoes, classy shoes; Danska’s
for Christ Sake! Nobody whistles at Danska wearers!
Skirt stops at the knees- but it don’t matter-
lady don’t matter.
meow, kitty, kitty, here pussy,
But he didn’t say pussy, pussy-
he said, “I’m gonna rape you
so. hard. till. you. bleed.”
I keep walking no matter
I don’t run. Don’t let them know you’re afraid.
how much it hurts.
Feet, hurt. heart, hurts. soul, hurts.
How old does a lady gotta be before it stops? Kitty-cat-cat-calls.
50 maybe? 60 maybe? 70? Then no more click-clacks?
She Still got it?
Waiting for 60.
3. 18th Street
On the corner of 18th
and Church. There is a park and a muni stop.
Madness sleeps on the grass. Breathing corpses.
The sounds of city; horns; chatter, breaking glass, shouting, more…
ricochet against my ear drums.
So. Right. On. Sit on the street corner and wait
for the time to pass.
A beautiful clear day
-did I mention that?
warm with a cool breeze, and
screams from the park.
The corpses remain still in the green green grass.
Below the blue blue sky…
I hate it when people disappoint you!
I hate it!”
He is yell-yelling. A lost man is-
He is speaking to someone no one can see.
“I hate it!
They disappoint you and then
you lose trust! I hate that feeling!”
Yelling. Lost man is yelling at the green grass, the blue sky, the corpses, at God, at the universe. Lost man is upset, but not at me,
I am invisible because he is invisible.
Lost man throws luggage with broken wheel at muni.
Can I get an Amen? I think,
staring at my click-clacks.
I don’t like the shoes anymore
they remind me I am not safe
in heels. No one is safe in heels.
4. Corner of Grant and Vallejo
Ham and cheese baguette, iced coffee.
North beach bitches.
San Francisco beat, renaissance bitches;
bitches are gone and dead.
There are still regulars here.
Man to the left is typing long sentences on his type-writer computer. Man on right speaks with woman, both have computers.
I. have. note. book. like. cave. person.
His publisher called: The
Man on right. Man on left scowls.
5. Coit Tower
The city is obscured by trees.
Parking lot staircases lead to
Greenwich and Telegraph hill. Tourists are everywhere:
The French are traveling today
with two ll.’s. Travelling.
I think: Je suis American.
Je ne parle pas Français.
Je comprend un peu.
I say: nothing. Rien! Rien!
A family cuts in front of me in line.
“Attends! Attends!” Map carrying father yells.
All stop. all wait. Pappa says go.
6. Again, Cafe Trieste
Ed has lived in San Francisco
in North beach
since he was four years old.
He’s an old man now.
Things have changed, oh yes, they have changed.
This is the place where Francis Ford Coppola
wrote the God Father- there are photos to prove it.
Chinatown surrounds old little Italy, yet,
Little Italy no longer lives here.
When was it little Italy? I ask.
“Cafe Trieste was open in 1956,” Ed says.
“two years before On the Road was published,” Ed says.
“The Year Howl was published.” Ed says.
The year after Joyce Johnson’s
Come and Join the Dance was published and forgotten.
Ed doesn’t mention this.
She was a click-clack-clackity-clack-kitty-here-kitty
7. The Beat Museum
Brandon works at the Beat Musuem.
“The women are the forgotten ones.
Abandoned wives, neglected children.
Did you know it took a paternity test
to prove that Jan Kerouac was really Jack’s
daughter? It shouldn’t have taken a test-
her face was enough she looked just like him.”
Baby driver took a diver
over the wine and qualude valley.
“His only family in the end was his mother and his wine.” Brandon says.
“In the end isn’t that all our only family?” I say.
He half laughs. Only half.
8. Coit Tower Deux
The French clog the hallway parle vous-ing at the Murals of the farming industry of California wrapping around the interior of the tower. All part of the works project- to create jobs for artists during the depression when farmers faced the stock exchange of 1934 till we reach the elevator and sardine in order to see the view.
From the top I look down on pools and patios.
the fog is rolling in over the golden gate
from off the bay. time to descend
I’ll take the stairs.
Steep stairs from the Coit tower parking lot
take me past secret gardens of not so secret apartments with
hanging gardens from the poets of the technology revolution.
I want to sneak into the private gardens of Telegraph
At the bottom
White Angel, where one woman
fed the hungry, the tired, the poor,
from a soup kitchen:
bring me your longshoremen, your lumbermen
I will shelter them from the storm,
we live on skid row.
I look back up toward Telegraph hill
no one is starving up there.
They starve in places where we don’t have to look at them anymore.
To the Alcatraz! The sacred rock
Hopi prison- escape from
Bird Man- Capone- Al Bird- Clint Eastwood
all dying to be free
buy your tickets early
this ride is sold out.
11. To all the Piers I’ve loved before:
From 1 to 45
To the wonderful machine mechanical museum
Where games from over 100 years join
modern arcade games in a fun filled
love story of entertainment
meet such games as “Shoot Your Wad” and “Toothpick carnival”
12. Linger on the Pier 2
In front of Sinbad’s on Embarcadero
the sun sets behind tall buildings
streams of light shoot
runners run passing like runners running at sunset,
no one kisses, anyone, and the cold wind blows.
My blue scarf wrapped tightly around my neck
temperature dropped, and I look at the scuffed toes of
my click-clack Danskas, and try to forget 16th street.
San Francisco breaths, I breath, the sea breaths
the past breaths, the present breaths, the future
holds its breath.
January 14, 2018 § 2 Comments
Through the window pane I watch them eating.
I see them through the sliver of silver curtains
that sweep the floor like ball gowns.
Everything is perfectly color coordinated,
and new born babies coo like doves.
I stand here day and night
through every season
Frost bitten in deep bitter snow
or sunk into hot August mud.
I can barely blink at the life
in front of me.
I watch their children grow,
the new and old marriages,
vacations planned, bought, and taken,
baseballs tossed, ballet slippers worn,
baking and sewing, building and crafting,
visits from their relatives, in-laws, divorce and death,
(not necessarily in that order)
the family life.
Through the ages I’m watching
other peoples’ lives.
If only I could turn around,
toss my envy into the compost
beside the perfect houses, and turn around
to see the many roads that reach out into my own horizon.
There are other paths
I know because I can feel the sun
on my shoulders, urging me to move,
and turn to face an uncharted future, but
my eyes are glued to the Norman Rockwells, and the
The instagram of domestic paradise
April 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
In the beginning there was only the holy darkness,
and in that darkness there was a moment of chaos,
and the darkness shattered,
and a great buzzing occurred, a sound that was not there before,
and all the beings in the holy darkness thought that they knew
all about the accident, knew what, and why, and wherefore…
and they were righteous.
When the darkness shattered shards of light scattered
and the righteous believed they could see, truly see,
and they began to dictate, and rule, and control those who were born after
the days of holy darkness.
The righteous believed they could see
never understanding that the light was an illusion
and the noise was a lie.
The truth, the enlightenment, was back in the darkness
Where chaos always lived
where there was no sight
where the silence was as heavy as flesh.
April 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
Even in the light of day the stars are shining down on us.
The sun cascades behind the horizon as if the earth is as
flat as the celestial mysteries hidden far beyond our clouds.
No one knows the mountain, shown in the half moon light that crosses
over the river, one passing the other like a mirror reflecting a casual glance; no one knows that mountain.
A dog barks.
I sight a deer in wild bamboo—
What is it doing here?
March 30, 2016 § Leave a comment
I first began a blog in 2008. It wasn’t this one. Back then I had no idea what I wanted to do with this whole blogging thing (still don’t, but I’m getting closer to the idea). I have about four separate blogs, a ridiculous mess, and I’m putting things into order. For the next few posts on this blog I’ll be transferring some post that were written in 2008, and posted elsewhere.
In 2002, I had taken a poetry course with a teacher named McDowell at Portland Community College. I actually dropped the class. That had nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me. The following post is from notes I had taken while attending his course. I can’t take credit for all the information, and if I had his full name I would post it here. If anyone happens to know his full name send it my way, and I’ll update this and credit it properly. The notes were all taken by me (by hand even) and they are also adapted into my own language and examples, but the ideas are McDowell’s.
HOW TO READ A POEM
- Read it all the way through.
What if you don’t get it? Its form is strange, the language isn’t familiar, the imagery is abstract- forget about it- don’t stop reading. Just let it go and read it all the way through from beginning to end- try to relax your mind and just read.
- Read it again but this time read it out loud.
- Word by word
- Look for the Imagery
I know her scrubbed and sour humble handslie with religion in their cramp, her threadbareWhisper in a damp word, her wits drilled hollow,her fist of a face died clenched on a round pain;And sculptured Ann is seventy years of stone.
- Read for Organization
From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,And I hunched in it’s belly till my wet fur froze.Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
- Read for Technique
- Read it with all the above– I’m just going to quote McDowell’s bullet point here:
- Often a poet will go through dozens of drafts of a poem before allowing it to be read by anyone else, much less published. Dylan Thomas often went through 80 or 100 drafts. You can be assured that if you are alert, you’ll gain more from another reading. Poems aren’t like newspapers, to be read once and then tossed into the recycling bin. Each year you’re a different person; you’ll find that when you return to poems read years before, the good poems will seem to be telling you exactly those things you learned in the interim; they’ll seem like different poems. Every poet, every age, every country, every emotion, every climate, every language, every temperament produces different types of poetry. If you don’t like a poem, do it the justice to find out what about it you don’t like, and then move on to a different kind of poem.
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike
I am not cruel, only truthful –
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.