Made In The Shade 3-1

7/1/82
I am told untold sorrow 
by a little bug in my ear 
disappointment balloons up
like an empty mail box
my hand reaching out into
the bottomlessness for letters
or packages or postcards
or the answers to my dreams

7/2/82	 
secret sensuality
naked admission
uneasy desire
frequent denial
casual forgiveness
mortal paranoia

VIRGO: To everything there is a season, and this is yours. The good times have begun to roll. Now you benefit through friends and/or organizations. You’ll adore, and deserve, the limelight. Add to this: across a crowded room, you may meet a stranger. . . .

7/4/91
way the air feels warm heavy
comforting enveloping light
leaks through the trees along
a ridgeline reddish at first
then orange gold till a white
flood erases every shadow
in the voluptuous garden
morning glory tendrils up
stretching with fragrant 
departing dew sip too strong 
java bare feet on cool plank
step vast lush vacancy of 
waking moment promise of ease
and relaxing freedom cricket
fireworks the 4th of July

7/6/83
it’s stinking hot
no shoes no shirt no service
so long Ted

7/7/95
I will always return to these pages
I like to read in-between the lines

screwed
potential runs out of gas

large discolored log is
severed head bobbing past

        In Part Two
	there are actually photographs of me 
	foot on the seat of a chair
hand to chin
	                 flipping pages
	gesticulating
                                               (not as nasty as it sounds) 
		                 caught in the act of performing    
		                 a shadow play
	(I use my hands a lot)
others picture me leaving town
                        a celebrity to my friends 
glad to see me 
		                  glad to see me 
			                                               go 
	takes days to get back
	            to where I was 
         though only one by bus 
	            I get the hero blues
         unappreciated and sane 
                    home again
         touching ground digging in the dirt 
         reflecting in the hot sun 
         was it worth all the money 
         I got feedback flash lag 
         quite noticeable in the stark
         fluorescent lighting of the classroom 
         connections few a real sitting 
         on of the hands atmosphere 
         which is why you should always 
         bring friends to
	                         your poetry readings
an unraveled basket of nerves 
                                              after words
fragile as cherry blossoms

—I speak a great deal about the poet’s locale, his place, in my work. Is this a geographic term or am I thinking of an inner sense of being?

The universe can’t be observed unless you observe yourself at the same time observing it. Give yourself a place to stand and you can move the world. That’s not original with you, by the way. “You are there,” as Walter Cronkite once said, and “there you jolly well are,” as Lord Buckley also remarked. Gertrude Stein talked of Oakland having no “there” there. Where you are at allows you to write what you are because you are not only influenced by physiological circumstances but by physical circumstances as well. The inner landscape mingles seamlessly with the outer one and they reflect each other in very subtle ways. Add the distortion that language can apply and you have artifice according to your particular skills and inclination.

—That kind of puts me on the outside of the circle of accepted convention when it comes to thoughts on poetry. How does where I’m coming from, my locale, interact with a supposed audience for my work?

Your notes toward the future are bound to be local. Whether poetry has ever had an audience, on the other hand, is a moot point. The number of serious poems that have signified much to anyone beyond a very restricted minority is small. The proposition that poetry is in some ways the highest human accomplishment, the one most imitative of the original enigma of creation, is almost universally accepted. But that universality is conventionalit is an abstract password of culture rather than something that most human beings have felt in their bones. “Can anyone hear me?” is a question for the most part that will go unanswered. If poetry is acknowledged at all, it is as a conventional referential experience, not as something that is sought after privately in time of need and comfort. This point would have been just as valid in a period of greater literacy. Today, it is a point hardly worth making.

— So is my poetry nothing more than a presentation of facts that have within them a resonance that can affect meaning on the level of language?

Increasingly you grow less confident that the “facts” have a stable eternity “outside” the contaminating range of an altering, culturally, and linguistically governed psyche. To obscure is to alter. To define and to understand, even in the most neutral abstract fashion, is to incorporate the evidence within a particular matrix of human choices, images, and symbolic reflexes. To put it another way, where the natural sciences have been largely concerned with the transmission of force. . . gravity, magnetism, thermal energy. . . we appear to be moving toward a model in which it is the transmission of information that matters most. The radical wonder of live matter is not mechanical force but meaning. These are echoes of Orphic belief, that the grammars and creative modes of speech have their counterpart in all of nature so that life is language and organic processes are articulate forms.


       To start up the trash compactor
	first I stand in the  garbage can
	then I jump up and down
	in other parts of the world
	people flock to the birthplace
	homes of the notorious holy and
	popular go through the garbage can
	to find some little of significance
	touch a world that they can
	only conceive of in a dream my own
	stomped down dressed in brown
	paper to make room for the more to come
	there are many curiosities to feed
	one of the many days when everything
	must go and leave like I do for
	a couple of days in the big city
	where every face (and there are many)
	holds a story that can be told
	in one or more sentences or tourists
	beckoning to each other to hurry
	in a language of their own business
	the bourgeoisie from other countries
	matching their inflated currency against
	ours in a never-ending spending spree
	that gets passed along to their dopey 
	kids trailing behind with slung airline
	bags and short trousered rosy legs
	the hills alive with cable cars and 
	swarming with Chinese who live here 
	like the Pacific is a river you just 
	step across which is absolutely true

7/4/94
Dear editor The article on the reopening of the Pink Elephant two weeks ago, and the commentary it elicited from Bob Jones as well as the “Talking Pictures” in this last issue point to something that is more pernicious than religious bigotry, racism, and sexism (homophobia, misogyny, misandry). That pervasive undercurrent is classism. Even and if ever all the former were somehow abolished or neutralized, classism would still hold its inequitable sway. Hierarchy rules, it’s a game of social “king of the mountain,” and the higher up you are the more difficult it is to see what is below. It’s as if all of those who place themselves above others can only look down but cannot see. Consequently they make the assumptions of the elite, and more often than not, they are misassumptions. Is there any wonder that there is distrust between the classes when sanctimonious pronouncements are made by those who live high on the hill about those who live down on the street? The great poet Bob Dylan once wrote, “I wish that for just once you could stand inside my shoes.”  The self-righteous with their politically correct agendas have no place to stand, really. Some of the people quoted were clearly stating class prejudice but can we expect less from these publicity seeking new age hypocrites? Only their pet project is worthy of community approval. I don’t remember Mr. Davis advertising his Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners but he reached out to the whole community and for those on a tight budget around the holidays his generosity was most welcome. Have the high and mighty done anything near as selfless for this particular segment of the community? If Steve Baxman weren’t Mayor-for-Life of Monte Rio, I’d nominate Mr. Davis, for his humanitarianism as well as for his business savvy. The Pink has always been a center of cohesion for many people even when Monte Rio was more than a one water trough town. With its reopening comes the hope for the return of this unity. For those who bemoan the scourge of alcohol and wish to limit its availability, prohibition didn’t work because it concentrated on a symptom, not the cause. As long as there is oppression of working stiffs and the exploitation of labor by the ruling class, there will inevitably be a desperate class, a class whose only solace is mind and body numbing drink and drugs. Those who sit and meditate on their silk cushions have no idea and even if they did it would probably be a false memory. I say spare us the classist snobbery of these faux aristocrats with a misguided sense of noblesse oblige. The Pink will reopen. Long live the Pink! May it succeed as a watering hole for the entire community, and may it prosper.


DEATH OF A POET

It was a night of the full moon and as it was July the day had been blistering. The party was at Andrei and Alice’s and just about everyone was sitting on the old ramshackle porch swigging their favorite beverage. Jeff in his thirteen hole t-shirt was there drinking a beer even though he had sworn off booze weeks before. It was his 29th birthday, after all, didn’t he have something to celebrate? “I made it this far” he told me and then mumbled something about death or dying, something I immediately dismissed as being Jeff the morose poet which he was when he was drinking and which was why he had stopped drinking so that he could be Jeff the sharp intelligent poet. The joke about the “lead dogs” got old real quick when you finally picked up on the self-destructiveness behind it: Jeff driving home from the Pink Elephant drunk would occasionally hit the steel girders of the bridge crossing the Russian River a glancing blow with the right bumper or fender and comment “whoa just hit another lead dog!”  So there was a problem. But on this bright night the only problem seemed to be how to stay cool. One way was to spit your drink in someone’s face so that they in turn would spit theirs in your face which then degenerated, with the shout of “free shower!” into people pouring drinks over each other’s head and with that pieces of Jeff’s huge birthday cake came out of nowhere to splat into someone’s face. The couple humping in the brightly lit kitchen were oblivious to it all. Then someone found the hose though Alice put her foot down about bringing it into the house and whomever had the hose had the power which then erupted into spontaneous mud wrestling. I like to think I remained above all those shenanigans but I can’t remember. I do remember the next morning the telephone banging through the corridors of my empty aching skull. It was the red telephone but I wasn’t expecting any calls from Moscow. It was Andrei. “Pat,” he said, “I don’t know how to tell you this. Jeffrey was in a wreck last night.”  I waited to hear what I knew was coming. “He’s dead.”


7/8/89
claim made to immortality by dying
with these contradictions we live

the dead become important just by the way they are talked about

7/10/93
As a poet I can only stand in awe of being and be absorbed in the task of self-transformation, striving to extend the range of my own realization of. . .what. . .there’s a word I’m looking for. . . .13


7/18/89
on the eve of the revolution
(two hundred years later)
banks versus the people again
those who have taking from those
who barely can manage littering 
the streets with human debris
equations in the math of history 
explosive inexcusable negligence
no one should live like that
plutocracy: the food of the future
in other words: EAT THE RICH! 
shelter in their mansions burn
their antique furniture for warmth
wear their fashions to tatters


7/19/91
These thoughts I had with my eyes closed. I was given a demonstration of how the most popular radio commercials were done. First the man talked into a large brown paper bag to give his voice the proper tone. Then an anvil the size of an ant was dropped through the bottom. I had to give advice to some people on head lice. “I’ve worked with kids for seven years” I heard myself say. “I should know what I’m doing.”  I felt a vague displeasure when I sat up. Thus began a very difficult day.


7/20/90
thin and anti-social
the “me” formula
spirals down the banister
hats enhance appearance
experience vs. authority


                It’s hard to believe
		I’m wrapped in a cocoon
		of love by those who surround
		me with their attention 
		in spite of it all
		nevertheless and regardless 
		of my own inconsistent humor 
		casual or inflexible
		but always seemingly aloof 
		or preoccupied by myself
		I recognize the heartwarming 
		in my daughter’s exclamation 
		in my son’s laughter my good 
		wife’s unconscious song 
		my oldest boy’s manly grace 
		the tent of sentiment
		a gesture in the forest of 
		unrealized feeling 
		protects me from the great 
		unknown’s deadly solace 
		somewhere a report says 
		more widowers die of heart
		break something that seems 
		positively logical to me 
		the stars are mine I can say 
		because alone anything           
		has endless possibilities 
		but with my family there’s 
		nothing but this one moment 
		that contains all I need for 
		the foundation of my empire

7/21/89
private lightning zaps me alone
(my toenails spark unconscious)
it might not be so bad after all
I think determined to persevere
and make peace with the largely
buried past of ill-chosen words
a ray of sunlight cuts a swath
across the brown living room rug
and competes for attention with
the white flowers at the window


7/25/82
There’s a word for it I can’t find
morbid preoccupation with passing day
weep in a dream for someone still alive
a deathbed scene of high hysteria
one that borders on surreal comedy
unable to let go in my letting go
but forgotten until late afternoon
called up by some foolish and
insignificant transition of moments
the disturbing scenario puzzled together 
out of fragments of dream images
their ambiguity hauntingly chill
in the end it comes down to this
I have to bring myself to say good-bye


7/28/91
out of time my head in the clouds I walk rolling the ball of earth on the balls of my feet and passing the scenery to the edges of my vision where my ears can catch the whisper of its movement thankful for what’s a breeze to me

                Don’t want to hug
				nobody
			don’t wanna be hugged
		standard operating procedure 
			for the self-indulgent
		affection			    
				might as well be 
					infection
		what started off
				as a great day 
			goes to the dogs
			it’s their afternoon

		heat melt drip tongue out 
		from the shade the world 
		seems white with light 
		pale yellow at the edges

		yipes! I forgot
			I was watering
				the garden 
			(now swamp)

		I have to punch this picture
		to make it look right
		the use of force like when
		I broke the handle off
		the car door is all I have

		only sound
		low flying plane in
		the bright blue


—Can I explain the degree of consciousness or unconscious with which I create a poem?

Sometimes consciousness is like a radio. You listen to a station that has a lot of static and dead air. You tune in, you tune out. You catch snatches, formulate speeches, worry riddles, solve problems. Something repeats itself at odd moments as if some kind of code and you wonder: ‘What is it telling me?’  Galaxies of thought float through the time frame. Unfortunately the connections are light years apart. Change the station.

—Do I work better in isolated places? In going to live in the country, the ends of the earth as it were, did I want to put a physical distance between myself and other poets?

Probably. You weren’t very productive as a poet in the years you were an apartment dweller.

—Does poetry constitute the aim of my existence?

Yes.

—Would I say that my life as a by-product is existing without me?

Yes.

—Am I always so dogmatic?

Only when you’re talking to yourself.


Endnotes
[13] It may be that every utterance, every act of writing, obeys the principle of the conservation of energy as universal as is that in physics. Expelled from silence, language does its irreparable work. In words, as in particle physics, there is matter and anti-matter. There is construction and annihilation.

Subtext
“. . .heady riot out of frame all reason does dash and frantic outrage reign.. .crazed maenads run about the prophet who among them singing stands. . .flock about him as when a sort of bird having found an owl abroad in daylight, hem him in full round which forestalls him round and pull him to the ground. . .and murder him who never till that hour did utter words in vain nor sing without effectual power. . .and through that mouth of his (oh lord!) which even the stones have heard and onto which the witless beasts had often given regard. . .his ghost then expiring into air departs. . .the nymphs take the detached head and set it adrift on an apple bough as they descend the mourning river in boats with sable sails. . .then his head and his harp float past a far flung village. . .his harp yields a mournful sound, his lifeless tongue makes a certain lamentable noise as though it still yet spake and both banks in mourning-wise make answer too the same. . . “

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