A Day in San Francisco, 2013

October 11, 2018 § Leave a comment

1.  Japantown

It’s a balmy day. And I
start at the Chinese consulate
in Japantown and walk
to North beach near
Chinatown.
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!”
“mammacita-
I wanna stick it to ya- Click-clack”.
Straight to the point.
Click-clack.

A tongue shoots bullets from the mouth
of a faceless stranger.
I’m hit in the back
multiple times
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.
“Click-clack-
meow, kitty, kitty, here pussy,
pussy-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.
No matter
how much it hurts.
Feet, hurt. heart, hurts. soul, hurts.
How old does a lady gotta be before it stops? Kitty-cat-cat-calls.
Pussy-calls. Rape-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.
“Fuck you!”
The corpses remain still in the green green grass.
Below the blue blue sky…

“Fuck you!
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

Cafe Trieste.
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.
All 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.
40’s? 50?s
“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
beat chick.

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.”
Brandon says.

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.
2:56 pm

9.  Greenwich

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
Hill.
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
your fishermen,
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.

10.  Embarcadero

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
over skyscrapers,
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
the
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.

In The Beginning

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.

What Are We Doing Here

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?

Patti Smith’s Woolgathering

November 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

I just finished reading Woolgathering by Patti Smith. A tiny little pocket book more poetry than prose, and all truth. It’s a beautiful journey through bits of her childhood. She gently guides us into her childhood mind, and into her childhood world, and it is a lovely journey that I highly recommend.

I always imagined I would write a book, if only a small one, that would carry one away, into a realm that could not be measured nor even remembered.

I imagined a lot of things. That I would shine. That I’d be good. I’d dwell bareheaded on a summit turning a wheel that would turn the earth and undetected, amongst the clouds, I would have some influence; be of some avail.

-Patti Smith, Woolgathering

Don’t you want to write a little book? Don’t you want to be good? Go out and be amongst the clouds and help turn our precious earth. Go Shine.

Enjoy some words of advice from Patti.

Art Lovers

July 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

1.

I straddle my lover’s lap and read Walt Whitman to him.
I whisper exhalations of “Song of Myself” like
talking dirty
and my legs tighten around his waist
because literature and poetry is our aphrodisiac.

My lover’s face is in my hair, his lips brush
the corner of my moving mouth
and his soft hush voice in my ear
repeating, keep reading, keep reading…
As “Leave of Grass” escape my fingers and hit
the floor with a gentle thud
my lover’s arms are around me with fingers
in my back up under my clothing
And Whitman is smiling
because he wrote about such wonderful naughty things.

2.
My lover paints me naked
he paints each imperfect curve
languid strokes of blue
hips, breasts, legs, and belly
round and rounder still
the painting always changing color
and never finished
This is the work we do together
being and being and being.
The paint never drying.

The Promise of Rain

July 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

No one promised to be there, except the rain.
In the October downpour she choked on the afternoon light.
Too bright to take it all in.

Her eyes were wide open in momentary wisdom.
Her fear had faded to wonder as she rested her damp
head to his sweaty chest.
The sunlight struck her face like a spotlight
and she meditated on the rise and fall of his breath.

It would be hard to hold onto this man
it would be best to let him go and not to bother,
let the moment float away from the fairytale with this one
he was not capable, too much flesh to explore, too young

She sighed away the kisses from the previous evening,
and allowed the freedom of her breath to separate from his.
She exhaled into the force of nature and mourned nothing.

Tiny promises splattered against the window pane
and streaked the glass like memories
as she dissolved into the light’s dust.

Untitled Poem/Black Dawn

May 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

A new poem, no where near complete. My mother died last year, and I’ve struggled to find a way to write about my feelings of loss and grief, to express my loss, and I just have not been able to. In fact, as far as writing goes, it’s been so quiet, or I feel too tired, or cliche– I’m stunted.
About a month or two after her death (which was an unexpected and sudden death) I had one of my very few dreams about her, and in this dream I woke up with the words: “black dawn she is silent now”.
I wanted to do something with these words; after all they came from my deepest consciousness. They were given to me like a gift, like a message, but more like a code that I have lost the ability to decipher. Today, was the first day that I made something, anything from those words. And, something, anything that can even chip at the surface of my grief is something to me. It’s not a completed poem, the same as any poem that is published here, but at this point to put anything on paper, and then to transfer it to here is an accomplishment for me. So as it is, it is untitled.

 

Black dawn

minutes before,

the cock crows is
blue luminous light, a blink
a slit, below the horizon line

of earth as far as
we can see

from our own perspective
but, our eyes are closed.

We are all sleeping
except for the ghosts

who watch us
wishing they could hold us

still.

I see her in my dreams

rarely,

As I rise from my living death
she returns to her death,
real death,

mother—
languid, somnolent, cries:
don’t leave me.

She is silent now,
and I’m awake.

Sketching Poetry advice from Robert Hass

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

In my last post I had mentioned the first of my online classes through the University of Iowa and the Canvas project- did I mention this course was free? There is good in the world. I had really enjoyed some of the suggestions that Robert Hass had offered for coming up with ideas for poems and which are all apart of the beginning of the course of How Writers Write. I’ve been journaling/notebooking, scraping, and sketching since I was a teenager, but I had never really thought of it as a part of my writing process. Honestly, I’d never really been sure what I was doing and I definitely didn’t know what to do with all of the words, ideas, and thoughts. My notes and writing have always lacked discipline and I’ve gone months with out writing a word, so having this class is a nice way to start jotting down some randomness.

In my last post I also wrote out Robert Hass‘s breakdown of sketching. My understanding of it is that you don’t really plan out your thoughts or words but just let things fall as they may. It could be nonsense, it could be bad, or you could get something really inspiring, but the outcome at this point doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are generating some ideas, some words onto the paper.

  1. Start with a basic line
  2. write a second line: try the call and response- let the second line surprise you.
  3. Write out three lines which is the rhythm of the body
  4. Write out four lines- the rhythm of the mind.

His first video instruction was to look around your room, and your space and write a single line. I had stopped the video and wrote down 5 lines based on observations around me.

  1. This empty bottle waits for me to fill it.
  2. On my night stand I see a Chinese warrior with a bronze Japanese rabbit at his feet, and the bone of an ancient civilization safely kept behind a framed piece of glass.
  3. My laundry hangs like wilted flowers over an overturned bed frame and opened lockers.
  4. Oh these books these awful books.
  5. How I wish my lamp were a crystal ball.

Next was to write the second line. I could do either a call and response or whatever came to my mind. In the next following sentences I didn’t really take much time to think about what I was writing but just to allow myself to write- something whatever. The most important point that I’m taking away from it is not to critic what I’m writing but to just write it.

  1. This empty bottle waits for me to fill it
    but who will drink from it when I’m gone?
  2. Dear Chinese warrior with the bronze Japanese rabbit at your feet- do you know what is behind you?
    Ancient words carved into bone as fragile as glass and as clear as stone.
  3. Oh these books these awful books
    lies of little children.
  4. I wish my lamp were a crystal ball.
    And if it were, what would you ask for?

 

For the three lines he suggested another approach- one was to quickly write out a paragraph that came to your mind and then to pull the three lines from the paragraph.

  1. I awoke with a panic this morning. The same if not worse than before. There was drool, actual drool on my pillow, my heart was racing, and my mind was sunk into some kind of a hole. Where was I? What kind of anxiety was attacking my dreams, and what were my dreams telling me? There is no manual for this kind of suffering.
  2. I awoke with panic
    The same and worse then before
    dreams lost in the whole of my mind

Then for finding the four line poem he went back to suggesting that we take our ideas from the room that we are in. To use your observations and to just let the lines fall into place one after the other.

  1. I’m sitting on the dirty floor
    watching and listing to you read poetry
    We’ve never met before
    but I’m here, listening to your stories.

Anyway, something like that. Are they poems? No. Can they be? Sure it’s possible. Can I scrap them and toss them away? If I want- that’s my choice. It’s just the beginning. Only the beginning.

Poetry Lessons Day 1

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

The online course from The University of Iowa’s International Writers’ Program has begun. The course is “How Writers Write Poetry”. I found the course on the Canvas Network which has many free online classes.  I’m really very thrilled that taking this course is a possibility for me, and even though I can’t afford to get the certificate (I like that it’s an option) I can still take the course and do the work.

The first lesson was on Note-taking, basically the beginning steps that any kind of writer needs to gather information and to practice writing and capturing images, conversations- anything that you need to build your poems or stories. I watched a video with three poets discussing their note-taking processes.

The first was Lia Purpura who spoke about keeping journals and the process of note booking which is different than keeping a diary. The key points were to keep an active journal and to keep it with you all the time. You could also just have scraps of paper or small notepads both of which can be transferred to your main journal. The point is to capture the world around you. She also mentioned a way of collecting your thoughts through something she called a found journal. This is a journal that is created from all of your notes of life; meaning your check book, your lists, your calendars, e-mails, whatever you do to record and archive your own life can be transferred to your journal. I had liked this idea because it is new to me. I’ve kept journals since I was 16 (not always active journals) and I’ve done the scrap method, and attempted to use note pads, but unfortunately I’m pretty bad at keeping them on me and remembering to take notes. This found journal is something I think can be fun to try because I have tons of scrap notes that keep reminding me of what I need to do and what I haven’t done.
A couple of things that she noted that I found to be useful to hear was her opinion of the reason behind the journalling and how it is different from a diary. The reason that we journal for the purpose of writing poems or stories is to look for patterns. Patterns of thoughts, images, types of conversations. To see what you gravitate toward in your observations of the world. According to Purpura the purpose of taking notes and  keeping a writing journal is to teach yourself about yourself. I thought this was very insightful because as a person who has kept a journal for years I had never quiet figured out how to make use of the journals which tend to be a combination of observations, and diary. and story ideas. I had never thought to look for patterns of what I tend to capture, and I like the idea of looking at my jottings in this objective manner.

The next person on the video was Kate Greenstreet who spoke about her notebook or collection of words that she called “The Epic”. For Greenstreet “The Epic” is her way of collecting her words and then swirling them around until she gathered or saw what she wanted from her words.

Lastly, Robert Hass spoke and offered his experience of what he called “sketching” a way of collecting your fleeting bits of thoughts and words. Hass also offered up a loose formula to play around with your thoughts and ideas and he numbered this sketching 1-4.

  1. Start with a basic line
  2. write a second line: try the call and response- let the second line surprise you.
  3. Write a third line which is the rhythm of the body
  4. Write a fourth line- the rhythm of the mind.

I will explain more on Robert Hass’s sketching in my next post since he offered some moments in the video to pause and to try some writing.

On thing he did was give out a sentence like this one:

I’m asleep on skis, and, The rain fell all afternoon

Then he said for us (students of the course) to write our own response- what are the first thoughts that come to your mind? Below are my responses to Hass’s first lines:

I’m asleep on skies
and you are not here.

The rain fell all afternoon,
and still the grass did not grow.

So far I’m enjoying the course, and I’m grateful to have found it. Although, I won’t be getting the certificate I’ll at least be writing and listening to people talk about writing- and right now- I need that.

 

Free Poetry Courses-

March 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s a pretty exciting time when you can take University courses for free.

I’ve signed up for a course through The University of Iowa on How Writers Write Poetry.

I’m looking forward to taking the course, and I hope that I can learn some things, and open up my creative mind, so I can figure out what to do with all the jumbled words and ideas I’ve collected below:

A lock of red hair in a clear velum envelope.
A woman in lace and silk underwear standing in a Parisian hotel room she is smoking a cigarette and leaning over the iron rod railing of her balcony.
A dilapidated building.
A marble façade of angles and gargoyles leaning over ornate gigantic wooden doors.
A painting of a naked woman lounging on a blue chair she is looking over her shoulder at her painter and the viewer.
Black notes on a sheet of music.
Cobblestone streets. Pebbled roads. Graveled lanes. Brick walkways.
Milk spilled over a linoleum floor.
Wood paneled walls.
A white clawed foot tub. A gold faucet.
A glass filled with rusted water.
Water bubbling into a pool of blue and gold.

Trains like caterpillars

Black dawn,
She is rising now

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