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 conventional—it 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
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?
—Would I say that my life as a by-product is existing without me?
—Am I always so dogmatic?
—Only when you’re talking to yourself.
 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.
“. . .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. . . “