Saturday, September 30, 2006

From A Heart So White by Javier Marias

Sometimes I have the feeling that what takes place is identical to what doesn't take place, what we dismiss or allow to slip by us is identical to what we accept and seize, what we experience identical to what we never try, and yet we spend our lives in a process of choosing and rejecting and selecting, in drawing a line to separate these identical things and make our story a unique story that we can remember and that can be recounted, either now or at the end of time, and thus be erased or swept away, the annulment of everything we are or do. We pour our intellegence and our feelings and our enthusiams into the task of discriminating between things that will all be made equal, if they haven't already been, and that is why we are so full of regrets and lost opportunitites, of confirmations and reaffirmations and opportunities grasped, then the truth is that nothing is affirmed and everything is in the process of being lost. There's no such thing as a whole or perhaps there never was anything. But it is also true that there is a time for everything and that it's all there, waiting for us to call it back...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Taxonomy of Loss: Bodies of Water v 3.5

Taxonomy of Loss: Bodies of Water


relentless rain,
the cistern overflows
the distillation
and collection of all the sadness of the left behind.

water, dissipation in
swirls and ebbs, eddies and whorls
of blackness into light
and back to black
of water.
(the long night)

the all encompassing ocean
is the drop of rain
concentrated as essential loss.

1. Containments and Releases

a. Volcanic: Crater Lake, Oregon

purpled by altitude,
the granite bowl of ink,
the sky, dull and listless by comparison.

drowsy with color,
drifting in all directions;
trunks in silhouette
gnarled by the short light of the long summer morning,

in a car, nearly 45 years ago;
with my parents and my sister.

b. stagnant puddle

teaming with larvae and pollywogs
losing tails to gain legs


The spent and smashed battery,
the clot of leaves,
runs the gutter.

outside of Woodland,
after too much beer
and too many reds,
Cookie Del Rio wrapped her Rambler
around a light post.

where would she be
30 odd years gone down?

chasing after Mexican boys
outside of Winters?
Or reformed, working her program
and swimming laps at the Davis Y?


oak table
in a green room,
the glass vase holds
daisy water from days gone long.

that room was your bedroom
and is no longer.
there was a time
whenever I passed the room
I was reminded.


The ocean keeps getting deeper
15 years falling
into the end
that never ends.

cold fingers of memory
rescind the real and move it darker,
into another sadness that is
the ocean getting deeper.

15 years passed
and gone still, and utterly forever:

water over rocks
in sun.
fishing for trout
on the South Fork of the American River
past Placerville, Strawberry and Lover's Leap
past Tamarack and up the hill and at the Bridge,

or in the secret spot
down by the red cabin.

Salmon eggs
on a hook
on an afternoon in 1963.

two rocks hanging onto the side of the bank
a rainbow trout skitters under.

there is the scent of queen annex lace,
shocks of lupine across the bend,
the glint of the hook as it splashes
into the darkness.
the current carries the bait under the rocks.
a slight tug
and the hook is snagged.

the slow hum of Highway 50.
The South Fork of the American River
flows through Sacramento, through Cortland and
Rio Vista and Antioch and Martinez
to the Bay and
out the Golden Gate.

(bridge to bridge)
(mountains to oceans)

2. Streams of Arrested Desire


did he save or sell his soul?
did she walk to work?
did he try to get better?
did she ever really feel connected?
did he want for affection?

did he ever want to jump from a bridge
into a frigid lake
under a titanium cloud cover
in a wasteland of discarded furniture and bric-a-brac?

did he ever love a man in a cabin on a beach
on a churning night
in a summer
in the forties?
did he ever ford a stream
with his heart full from another?

did she fill his heart or
did it ever?
does it ever?


Was it parenting in absentia?
under a spring moon,
on the cascading water,
blossoms drift through the breeze.
birdsong trails into a quartet.

did you ever sing for him?
did you ever reach under his arms and lift him from behind?
did you ever sit silently?

Did you talk about the watery weather?

under the bridge


how much is real?
how much is what was memory of what was heard
or some combination of
memory and having been told?

On the back porch
being washed in the concrete sink.
Happy singing in her cage
hanging over the raised floor above the basement door?
Sansaveria in a ceramic pot in the high window sill
the scent of cleanser and linoleum.

out the screen door,
a shrimp plant and carnations
and metal lawn furniture painted silver.
the ballerino's house was beyond the hedge
through a gate.


So will there be some kind of a bookend
on either side:
a neat package
of banality and revelation
a final gift before
what is left of life leaks out?

Will it be reflected in the pond outside the window of a hospice
where just within hearing are red winged blackbirds and pheasants in the reeds?

e. sparkle

bounces off the shimmering waves
elevates the quivering motes
into a rippling and roiling current.

dappled iridescence elicits
slinking charcoal and coral burst of
slipping into an aqueous sunset.

f. Absence of Love

is Hell

g. presence of the past
20th and G Street
Said yes
and didn't:
a living room on the second floor
a flat above the Pakistani
who beat his wife, Ali.

solace, liquid in perpetuity.
it is mostly light now,
dappled and wandering in memory.

a vacuum cleaner is left behind.


Mona, Gavin, Roger He is So White He is Wong,
The Lady Montessa de Rambova and
Dino might have been there,
but I am not sure,
one by one
jumping out the first floor window into the hedge.

the dew dampens the back of my shorts.

around the table in the dining room,
peaking as Mona talks about Pioche,
I see spheres within spheres,
and hear the sound as they radiate outward and to the side: Spheres;
sounds within (within Spheres)
sounds within (within Spheres)
sounds (within Spheres).

July, midnight blue under street lights and stars night.
You will always remember your wedding cake and
the back of the red couch
and the scent of the disintegrating geometric patterned hotel rug.
Could you forget the drops of light
that sparkle in geometric patterns from every object?

Mona took me to
The psychedelic shack high in the sky.

Behind another house
and up a railless steep staircase.

The black walls,
patterned with fragments of broken mirror,
shimmered reflections of leaves and sky.

The psychedelic shack high in the sky
was more shack and less psychedelic.

3. Currents

a. Riptide
pulls out stronger than in
go under
and go out further without a raft
into the night

there are no stars under the water and
phosphorescence is no substitute.

b. Lumahai Beach, Kauai,
with John and Zella and Bob and Chris.
We were the only ones on the beach.

A steep drop from the mangroves to the water,
but enough room for mats
and places to drift off into the afternoon in the
overarching sun.

Body surfing:
swimming out and waiting
for a wave
to ride back to the beach.

Zella caught in a wave
tumbled to the floor of the ocean,
twisted her shoulder
and had the breath knocked out of her.
She lost her confidence
around the ocean for a long time.

c. Water Falling On Rocks in the Redwoods

4. Cycles

There are more questions than answers.
questions breed more questions.
answers are mutable.
questions are permanent.

Will there ever be a resolution?
or will the questions become the resolution?

the rain evaporates into the atmosphere as
sadness disappates,
yet never disappears.
the cycle of grief is not the the cycles of water and weather.

ten years without clouds.
ten years of rain without end.
ten years a reign of something other than joy.
yet, in the joyless sound there is
a tinkling chime that somehow allows it all
to go on.
somewhere there is a glint or glimmer
that plays as a refrain
returning and reminding
the past is ever present and
the future never arrives.

in the cabinet in the living room
Aunt Cassie and Grandma Nettie are still bickering
so many years after death.
Aunt Edna is ever suffering
the arbutus in her front yard dropping fruit
at once brilliant and bland.

Grandma Lopez is ever present with coffee milk and little fish
Grandpa's hat is on the lampshade, ever on this side of singe.
It is before he got more mean and before she became a bear.

The living room and dining room are taken over by a table
that streches so long
that if you are sitting in the living room
and need something in the kitchen,
you have to go outside and around the house
and go in through the back door
to retieve what it is that you need.

At the table are seated Mom and Dad and Zella
and Grandma and Granpa and Grandma Nettie
and Aunt Lollie and Uncle Raymond and Patty
and Aunt Babe and Uncle Tom and Diana and Karl and June in a high chair,
Aunt Vera and Uncle Jack and Johnny and Jimmy and Mickey,
Dick and Jan Ryan and Donna
and sometimes Uncle John and Aunt Dorothy
and sometimes Uncle Buster and Aunt Marianne and Butch and Tommy and Jimmy
(it is before the little Ben).

Most of them are gone now,
but the memory of putting pitted olives over my fingers
and plates of ice cold celery with cheese spread
are as vivid this night as they were
when everyone had gone home
and my Mother was washing dishes at the kitchen sink
and my sister drying the dishes
and my Mother saying that she would never do it again
until the next birthday
or holiday came around
and everyone would be at the table
eating spareribs from Barbeque Heaven or take out from China Palace
or Grandma's awful concotion of chicken in Sacramento brand
tomato sauce with hard boiled eggs.

Disintegrated into energy
reformed by breath alone

Floating, diembodied,
detritus and ephemera:
the stuff that comes together to form
the veil.

The closet becomes an elevator
the bare light bulb
with a string and chain to pull on and off

Floor please?

3rd please.

2nd floor - ladies foundations, better dresses and coats
3rd floor - notions and yardage, cafeteria and gift wrap.

It was never my turn to be Miss Universe.
I got to be Miss Venezuela.

In the garage
mixing a potion
of blueing, bleach, and amonia
and painting it
on the three foot dancing doll.
Waiting to see the results
as the fumes wafted out the door
open to the street
across from Mrs. Clark
who lived next door to Wilda
who raised earth worms
in a bathtub
in her back yard.

Wilda lived across from Don and Hazel

Janice wearing a makeshift veil
married her Siamese cat, Charlie,
with a backdrop of pink "Naked Lady" Amarylis
with Patty officiating as a priest
of the one Holy and Apostolic Church.

I was ring bearer and witness.

at about 4:30 p.m.
in the late Spring
at the side of Aunt Lollie and Uncle Raymond'slight green house.

Twice, we went to Seattle.
The first time I was six
and the second time I was eight.

The first trip was
picking blackberries along the street,
watching Curtis and Rodney and Janice fighting over
chicken hearts and gizzards,

and waterfalls and Puget Sound.

The second trip was
the Seattle World's Fair,
digging for razor back clams
and a kitten caught in the fan belt

We stopped both times
to visit Mrs. Pearsons and Maxine.

On the second trip home
we stopped in Tillamok
and tasted cheese at the factory.
we stopped at the Tress of Mystery and
posed with the giant Paul Bunyan and
his Blue Ox, Babe.

My Mother and Father would wake us at 2:30 or 3:00 a.m.
Zella and I would be in our pajamas.
Groggy in the backseat
we set off in our Ford
up 99 through the Valley.

Sleeping and dreaming on vacation.
We would stop for breakfast.
Zella and I got dressed in the car.

Hash Browns. I always wanted whatever came with hash browns.

We crossed the Columbia River near dusk.
We crossed the Columbia River in the early morning.

We stopped at a beach in Oregon
and climbed down a steep cliff
and collected colored pebbles.

We stopped at Shasta Dam.

Once, Gordon and Vera
came to Sacramento.
They brought Rodney and Janice and Curtis and Cheryl.

Rodney and Curtis and I slept
in Uncle Carl'sand Aunt Lil's house trailer
in the driveway.

Rodney and Curtis taught me how to play squirrel.
Go for the nuts.
I wanted to play Squirrel every night.

One time Rodney came to Sacramento.
He taught me how to roll cigarettes from butts.
He was a narc.

Cheryl married a black man.

The only time we ever made Grandma Lopez angry
was when Zella sat on the salt shaker and
the little metal ball at the top broke off in her butt.

We all laughed and Grandma scolded us as
she comforted Zella.

The little silver ball is still buried in
Zella's butt.

Afraid of my uncles in this order:

Ted and Lynn were with Peps.
Ted set a church on fire
and ate wax fruit.

Ted put a bean up his nose
and it sprouted.

Lynn doesn't register.

Pep's died of cancer.

Ted went to jail
for shooting a man
who had spit
on his car
while cruising K.


Dan and Marianne lived in the projects.
Aunt Lollie and Uncle Raymond did too.
Dan and Marianne lived in a brick house
down by Southside Park and the cemetery.

We took Grandma Nettie to cemeteries.
We cleard the weeds from the graves
and put sweetpeas and carnations
in mason jars.
It was Uncle This and Second Cousin That,
a neighbor and
a child.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

So where

are we with this thing?
At what point does pleasure become annoying?
I am
At the intersection of
Valencia and 16th

or Page in front of the branch library

or on a cruise going from fjord to fjord
each brighter
and with more waterfalls than the last

or in your parlor
suddenly taken with pain and lethargy

on your sofa
in a chair
perched on a stool

seagulls screeching overhead
the sun burns the pale skin and scalp of
all gathered on the deck
watching scenery sail by.

Tiny villages and farms
people and cows.

Seagulls in Seattle.