Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sunday 17 September 2006


The crows are calling in their scratchy autumn voices. It is cool. I am wearing closed shoes, corduroys, a jacket and a sweater with a hood. The runners are still in shorts and t-shirts, but the walkers all have jackets on.

It is sprinkling off and on. I've got my desk covered with a gray poncho. I am awfully tired. I posted last week's journal at 2am, after making a loaf of bread last night. My computer was sluggish to upload and I was unhappy with draft after draft.

Green Lake is not at all sluggish. The gravel is growling.

Summer has gone. It is overcast and cool. A day for racing, a leaf gathering day.

I suggested a 3 Thought Journal to Donna. She liked the idea. She has a blank book at home, just waiting to be marred. Surely you can commit to this. Take up your book. Record 3 thoughts a day. You have all day. The thoughts don't have to be written in the same sitting. They don't have to be major thoughts of grand portent. They don't even have to be linked. They might be memories, or dreams, or states of being. As short or as long as you wish. No pressure to mean. Internalize what you see. Don't try to capture everything or construct a masterpiece. Relish in the moment. Over time, your 3 thoughts will become 6, then 12, then 24, 150, 300. Your book of thoughts will become its own thought. Then you will have something to hold. Pixels of time. A picture of life.

Donna used to write when she was younger. Gordon remembers. He recalls poetic phrases from their early days, their courting days. Donna was surprised by this. Or delighted. She looked at him as if she might not know him when he talked of poetry. I spend a moment, when they have gone, imagining where this comment might take them, tonight, this week, this winter.


Sometimes I smell their perfumes and powders as if they were right here at my desk and I look up and it is only more of them gliding by. They slide by like a railroad train. They must see me as a floating image through their window. A part of their landscape, here in the northwest corner.

Saint-Saens, a late 19th century French composer, lived his later years in a railroad car. Sometimes stationary, sometimes moving. He'd sidetrack himself when he wanted to stay and hitch to a train when he wanted to move. His car was outfitted with all of his furnishings and a piano. He is said to have composed symphonies as he rolled through the French countryside. It is not surprising then to learn that Saint-Saens was the first major composer to write music for the cinema, moving images being already so much a part of what he was composing.

What are the runners at Green Lake composing? Am I a part, in some small way, a part of that story? The runners, they have something in common in me. And in the traffic slush and in Duck Island and in the elms and redwoods at the lake.


I am the only unmoving thing and yet it feels so sometimes strangely quiet, as when the runners thin, as when the traffic slows, as when the bells have rung. It sometimes seems as quiet as an after-bell.

There is an invisible bell that hangs over the corner of a pedestrian island in the bow-tie section of Times Square, New York [Max Neuhaus, Sound Installation]. A floating chime, continuous and clear, is installed in a grate in the sidewalk. The sound it emits, the sound of an after-bell, constructs an imaginary dome around whoever is standing there. A cup of the explorable. A knowable sky, the air, the molecules, the density of which can be felt in a way otherwise unknown. Felt in a way that an unbordered heaven cannot be.

Crucial to the power this bell has to evoke, is its invisibility, its anonymity. If you were to walk there, if you were to move into this dome by accident, you would not hear it, or it would not register with you. Times Square is so lively, so filled with sound. You would not distinguish this one from the others without the aid of your knowing. But when you go to this spot and stand there, deliberately knowing, you are able to pick this sound out of the soup, and you alone create the dome. The sound forms around you, you who are necessary for its existence. You who are complicit in finding it and in forming its architecture. In creating the shape of the bell.

Poetry can do this with almost anything and with the invisible too. It can pull a thread from the cloth, draw a line between unrelated things, connect the seemingly separate. Span time and place. It formulates new spaces quite easily out of language and then abandons them in random corners of your mind. Not only domes, but tunnels and towers and planes. It carves habitable pockets from the abyss. Sculpts from the raw unsculpted middle ground.

Consider this line from Richard Hugo's The Church on Comiaken Hill, "His eyes are empty as a chapel/roofless in a storm." Hugo builds and destroys a chapel in order to bring to life the haunting eyes of a priest. And here, "Children do not wave as we drive out." He pulls, from nothing, children, to create a mood of trespass and disrespect.

You'll see that once you've form a dome, you can immediately sense its mass. Feel its space. A minor heaven, a heaven within a heaven, an unmarked biosphere. Perhaps the extent of what you can feel? How aware you can be? But in order to feel, in order to stand and be, you must stop and select that tone, you alone must create that dome. You are standing in the middle of an organic and wonderful gilt-swirled dome at this moment. What image, what sound will you select?

Once you learn to build a dome, you can move through life like this, from dome to dome, living in the pockets that form over earth, that include life's details, its sounds and senses. Space becomes an extension of yourself, both greater and lesser than you. Greater, in ways, than unbound space. Greater than the very small bubble in which you typically reside.

This is not an isolationist's game. Spaces, domes and towers and the like, are quite capable of including and inviting anothers. Spaces can be connectors, can initiate bonds, as two connect to the sound and shape of a bell.

Here at Green Lake, it is a trio of tulip trees which dictates my dome. It stretches 30 feet in each direction and rises 70 feet high. My dome is set in a nook, inside Sherwood and the wrap-around road and the black willow and the Borealis Band of evergreens. And into my dome people sometimes roll and stroll and squirrels scamp and birds dive and drape. And the spiders and bees and butterflies twirl. I'd gladly invite you into my dome.


Joel came visiting today. As his friends passed, he called to them. He called to Stefan, who joined us for a while. Stefan recited a poem by Pushkin, his most famous poem, "I loved you." He recited it from memory in Russian. Stefan has had this wonderful little kerchief in his pocket all this time. "I loved you," a romantic little Russian poem, acting as a reference for the past 10 years. Along with the other marks and guideposts he has constructed, this poem has formed a rudder, steering him through the rapids. This poem of love and loss, of graciously letting go and of learning to grant a blessing upon what is forbidden. "I pray God grant another love you so."

Knowing what you know, what you hold onto, and why, is a way of knowing yourself and of becoming alive. Of living your poetry.

Joel listened as Stefan crushed a tissue of Russian words together, wondering if the Russian really todders along like this, as the English does. How does the sound of poetry differ as we move over land? How do its rhythms change? This is a larger question of language, of dance and music, of transportation. Listen to the Russian, decide for yourself.


I am often asked to quantify, in superlatives, my position on poetry. "Who is the best?" "Who is your favorite?" "What is it that you write about?" If I were to give you a name to weigh, what would it construct – a competition of tastes, a hierarchy of talent? You do not care about this - the best poet, my favorite words. This is only your way of asking who I am. What my tendencies are.

I can tell you who I am reading. I can tell you who is steering me, whose work I find exciting. I can even tell you what writers I feel have formed me, whose work I return to, again and again. Whose work I respect. But this is mostly in looking back. And this information should have no affect on you, other than to undestand me.

While I might be able to pass something across my desk, while what you receive might make meaning for you, it might very well not. My lessons are not your lessons. My search is not your search. I therefore should not be, and am not, concerned with your knowing, with your learning. We are in contact so that I may grow. Not so I might change you.

Yours is not to rise above or stand beneath. Only to search and sense. If we are able to drive one another in our searches, if we are able to inspire, then we may have communicated, we may have formed a bond and begun to record a new history. We may have created hope. And as human beings on earth, this is all we can hope to do. And this is all that is intended.

If you are able to take one thing from my search, let it be energy. Let it be intensity.


It is an all crow day. The grass, cut especially short this week, radiates in hues of green from my tulip trees. A disk of brown-yellow-green, brittle and dense, rounds each trunk. Outside of this, another ring of delicate, finely saturated green, of lively lightness, suggesting a cup of standing water. Outside again, another ring, equal in green but with sturdier blades and mixed stalks of daisies and clover, creates the same green from a new material.

The water birds are huddled under my willow. The black puffers are dunking, shaking, bobbing and squeaking.

Captain Kirby, a boatman from Ballard, came by in the afternoon with his dog Lucy. He gave me a poem from memory. Yeats, "1916." He talked about Banjo Patterson, Australia's famous folk poet and composer of "Waltzing Matilda." It is nice to know poetry is not trapped on the university campus as we sometime think, but alive at sea.

Captain Kirby told me about his adventures. He's rolled a keelboat twice and sailed to Hawaii, once, in an 18' sailboat. He dismisses the accomplishment in this, though every one of my sea-hardened friends responds with the same wide eyes, "That's crazy!" He said it was nothing, I could sail a bathtub, I could sail my desk there, if I wanted to. And so I do. I do sail my desk there. It's a downwind run, just as he said it would be!


1. What are you avoiding? Name only 1 thing.
2. Recall 3 memories, moments, times in your life, that you felt most alive.
3. Study these moments, these memories. What is their common denominator?
4. What current activity in your life makes you feel the most free?
5. From what do you need to escape?
6. What will be your next career?
7. What 3 things can you not live without?
8. What would you be better off without? Name 3 things.
9. What 1 comfort keeps you most from experiencing life?
10. What is the thing in life that you do most deliberately? That you do in an attempt to mean?

This questionnaire, if done twice, one year apart (and hidden under your mattress), may yield some measure in your transformation.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sunday 10 September 2006


Is this my tulip meadow, decked out with flags? The woman calling through the bullhorn, is it poetry she shouts? The police at the corner, they are blocking the road... for a parade? Here they come. Here they come.

I can see their figures now, forming in the mist. Stafford, Hugo, Wagoner, Broughton. Roethke, Kizer, Levertov, Welch. McHugh and Hamill. Alexie and Bierds. Loudon and Martinez. A parade of Northwest poets, here they come.

Ah no, this is only an Iron Girl 10K. It is not a poet, but a runner passing by.

And now the flags are down, here in my meadow, this morning, there is a blackbird, a velvet blackbird pulling worms from the theatre floor. Not a crow. Not a red-wing. Not a wren. But a deep, dark, black bird, with albino eyes and a pointed beak. A small round body. He is fascinated with my umbrella. My black umbrella.

He just stretched a wing and kicked out a leg. I shall call him Strawberry. Imagine, this stroke of black, this deep, this dark sheen, in a strawberry patch.


If everything were to slow down, if everything were suddenly to move at half pace, then slower, at one-eighth time, the birds would sing an organ hymn. Humans too would sing, perhaps an oboe. Legs would lift like drawbridges. The church bells drift like a whale song over Aurora. The traffic turn to a soft wind. "You can take any melody in the world, and by just shifting its rhythm and tempo[…] you can make it fit a love scene or a war scene. Just rhythm and tempo. Well, that's one of the oldest tricks in the world" (Stan Brakhage).

Late 20th Century French composer, Olivier Messiaen, wrote a "Catalogue of the Birds" for piano. He studied birdsong, sped it up, slowed it down. I can imagine him here, a piano in place of my desk, slowing time for Green Lake. Making the beautiful, beautiful. Making art out of the ordinary.

Most famous for his "Music for the End of Time," composed in 1941 while interned in a German concentration camp, Messiaen is concerned not only about pace but about the color of music. He talks of blue-orange piano chords. "When I hear sounds, I see colors in my mind. I tell this to the critics, I have explained it to my students but nobody believes me...."

Messiaen, I invite you to sound this green lake, sing Strawberry, amplify the flicker's tweed jacket.


Matt was the first to stop by. He comes to the lake twice a day now. And so I asked, "What do you get out of it? I mean, why Green Lake? Why not the sound? Why not the canal?"

He said, "It's a circle. It's safe."

He echoed Ken's sentiments from last week. "It feels safe. There's nothing like this in San Bernardino. This is a special place."

And so I want to know about this word, safe. What does a person do in a safe place? Do you talk in a safe place? Can you make contact in a safe place? Or does it mean quiet? Does safe mean shunted? Does it mean turn off? Or does it just mean relax? How much time can we spend in a safe place?

This is no promenade. This is a refuge. A safe place. What if we were to turn this safe place into a vital place? A community base, a healing place, a meeting space? What if… no. No, now you're dreaming. The impossible. The impractical. The inconceivable. Places like this have doors and dues. Places like this cost money.


I've been rolling my desk on a wooden trivet, a houseplant stand, instead of carrying it, these past two weeks. It's far from ideal, but it avoids the bruises, and it fits in my desk drawer. I can push my desk all the way from PCC to the edge of the park. As Bruce helped me up from the lake, he noted, "It's got a sort of third world feel." Driving my desk by its stiff wooden legs, the front edge resting on a 15" trivet with plastic casters. And every few feet, a rough patch, and it skids to a stop and the desk falls off and my trivet tips to the pavement.

The apples. Did I mention the apples falling from the trees? And the butterflies in the bush, losing their lavender? And the blackberries, small buttons now, dangling from the vine?

The Seattle sky, in spring and fall, is electric. It bends the light onto the moist soil, it fills like a balloon and shocks the deepest, brightest colors out of a thing, a violet, a rose, a plum, an aspen. Everything low to the ground makes a sun, makes the humans stop and stare.


I'm finishing up with the transcripts of Stan Brakhage's 1982 radio show "Test of Time." He has finally come to the point, precisely the point, of my project. Nostalgia. After James Broughton reads "A visit from Three Muses," Brakhage iterates the problem with muses-- they live elsewhere in history. Their greatness overshadows ours. We're affected by some "hatred of the great men and women syndrome." He says, in following with Broughton, that "really the chicken yard is the more clear ground." The chicken yard. A mingling of muses in the chicken yard. Just look at them scratch.

What is the fear in making art daily, in making art immediate? In decodifying art? Are we afraid it would drain the industry? Afraid it would peel away a layer of bronze? Is there no hope of a patina in an integrated world? Are unique and success wearing the same suit? Once we erase the high-low line, does our incentive to make art fade?

Brakhage raises the question of Liszt. Liszt, the champion of the common man. Serving the common man out of a sense of obligation. The obligation of genius. In an effort to share the music of Beethoven with the peasants and farmers who could not afford the concert hall, he transcribed the "Fifth" for solo piano (a symphony captured in a piano!) and took it to the provinces. A whole symphony, a symphony for the farmer! Liszt believed in the farmer. No doubt the farmer believed in Liszt. And so it goes. And so it goes.

Where the poets go, when they leave the chicken yard? Where do they go? To university. And if they are lucky, they stay, to teach their somedays away. They split their time between Paris and New York, and not in the chicken yards. They read in conference rooms, to other professors, from their latest works. No poet wants this. No poet wants this.

Brakhage explains his reasons for making the poet human, for making the artist, the composer, the filmmaker human, which he does by telling stories, telling their pains and struggles. His reason is not "to bring these voices and this music down to earth, so that you care more about them. But more to inspire some confidence to reach out to one's neighbor, or finally even to one's self. To make it daily some way and not have it removed and lofty as I feel has killed interested in the arts in so many people. Hardest of all is to appreciate or give any expression to or for the people that you really know" (Stan Brakhage, "The Test of Time," 1982).

Nostalgia is more than just making the poet visible and present, it's about making the poet human, live and contemporary. Bringing the poet back into context. Tying her into the community.


An idea, brought up early in the project, to bring out the poets, en masse, to collect 10 or 20 poets and have them out by the lake on a Sunday, each at their own desk, contributing in their own way to the understanding of the poet and the modern experience, this instigation, too, must happen.

10:51a.m. – The chimes, the bells, church. The robes, brown, tied round with rope. The bowls of bullion, the slippers, the dangling knots, the leather, the worn books, the previous thumbs.

Young Maya came back to tell me about her poetry class at the Richard Hugo House. She said it included all sorts of other and visual arts and how helpful it was in inspiring poetry. Here here, Maya! Becoming familiar with all those borders, those lines between the arts. One day you will press yourself into the spaces between them and grow. And your growing will outgrow them.

One is pacing the forest.
Two is playing the flute.
Three sits on the bench smoking.

Bill, The Metaphor Man, came back today. He knows about Liszt, about Listz's ego. "What he did, he did with a measure of self interest. I have a suggestion for you, climb on the back of Liszt, put Beethoven's 'Fifth' to words. Put the 'Fifth' into language." A big order. And what's the pay? Ah, recognition.

I had a chance to read Stafford, today, to a group of seven gathered round the desk. Lauren made a second reading of "In Fur" and left everyone standing, with fur in their ears.


An instigation.

The other day I asked a grown man with a grown son, "Have you ever planted a tree?" "No," he answered. "Are you going to plant one before you die?" "Yes, I want to. I think I am." And so I must do this for him and for all the poets who have never planted a tree. Who might never plant a tree. O what an oversight!

How do you plant a tree? I mean, for the person who doesn't own land, for the person who lives in an urban space, how do they start? Where do they go? Write the mayor. Call on the arborist. Ring up the forester.

I have done these things. I am awaiting an answer.


It used to be that you viewed art in private, in an intimate setting. A scroll was pulled from beneath a chair, a piece was taken down from a shelf, unveiled in the privacy of home, between friends. Before the advent of the museum, before the gallery, it was in your hands.

Brakhage says this was true of poetry too. New poetry, in the 50s and 60s, was received like this. "Long before the book came out I'd been reading Creeley's poetry through friends, sometimes just receiving it in the mail, as was the ordinary way then, and now again, to receive new poetry, in letters in the mail."

My desk creates this sort of intimacy for those who stop by, for the readers at Green Lake. Dozens of poems have passed over this desk, already, in both directions, hand to hand, eye to eye, mouth to ear.

I am unfolding this book. I am unscrolling the news. Take this from me. Use your hands.

“The best job for an author is to be a postman. It has nothing to do with writing, it gets him out in the air, he sees what is going on in his community, he can read everyone’s postcards, and he comes back to his desk refreshed, not weary of words” (Professor Albert Guérard).

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sunday 3 September 2006


It is 9:45am. AJ is talking to me about the ego, who you think you are, and the divine, who you are. He is talking about falling, about accepting. "You are already there. You are already that." The father of a grown daughter, he is just now learning to move through the world, proud and gentle. Everything is directed in, to the center place. He is the altar and pew. A path begins at the crown of his head and wraps down, like a thread, a tap, round to the end, like an apple peeler. The end is, of course, truth. The end is the earth. Beneath the soles of his feet.

CAROSELLA (Spanish for "little war")

Taking note of my feather-pinned tulip tree, Don offered this account. A duel of doves, feather for feather, javelin speared leaves, especially here in this section, in a hard won battle for the right-hand tulip. Just imagine the fight!

Sundays, after I set down my desk, I go round to collect the trash from the meadow and forest and path, then I go round again to collect the feathers that have fallen here and there and pin them onto this tree, in honor of the feather couple. Now we have a name for these boutonnières, placed this way, in trees, in clusters, carosella.


Nowhere going. Revolving. The posture of movement. "A circle, drawn with a compass, has starting and ending points, which disappear when the circle takes life" (Ushio Amagatsu).

For once, I am seated. For once, I am the stationary thing. And everything else is moving.

I brought a metronome today, to study the rhythm, the gate, the pace of the lake. Book-ended by my heart, beating at 72 beats per minute, and the arc of the hunched crow flying for the willow at 208 beats per minute, there are the walkers pounding their feet on the path. They are beating at 116 bpm. The tempo of a Kilian. An ice dance. "The partners should skate close together. The man's right hand should clasp the lady's right hand and keep it firmly pressed on her right hip to avoid separation. The man's left hand should clasp the lady's left hand so that her left arm is firmly extended across his body." They are doing a couple's dance.

And the couple with the stroller, they are doing a beginner's dance, a waltz, at 104 bpm. Passing these, are the runners, in allegro and presto. Joy and virtuosity.

Slower than my metronome go the clouds, east and west, banding, blowing, northward going. My fat tulip quivers in the breeze, making a confused rhythm. Fancy, the messenger to Robin Hood, my bold little squirrel, dashes at his troubled pace, stops, stands, clutches a hand to his chest. Fancy has something to say about rhythm. The rhythm of the human hand cradling bread.


"Modern pacemakers sense the body's heartbeat. When they detect an abnormal rhythm, the devices produce electrical pulses to restore a normal heartbeat" (Georgia Tech Research Corporation). Could such a device reset society? Set us right? Could such a machine calm our nerves? A machine like... a waterfall in an urban mall? An electric box emitting white noise? A virtual aquarium? What is the sense in such rhythms?

Perhaps an artist could set us straight? The drummers of Japan? A Shomyo chant? Waves against the shore? Something voice-based, a lullaby, rain, or a cradle?

"Beethovan was utterly shocked when he listened to the first performances of his music, following his metronome indications. He came to the conclusion that the use of measured tempo makes no sense in music" (Matthias Rieger, Some Remarks about Speed from a Belly-dancer's Drummer).

Our impulses are gauged by the condition of our nerves, the slush of our traffic, the speed of our images. Along with rhythm, there is flow. Room for the debris to gather. Room for the debris to clog and release.

And the stationary image? What rhythm does it hold? I am beating 72.


Terrie was awfully excited to see me at my desk, being so out about poetry. She is, herself, a closet poet. As a way of overcoming, outcoming, she offered a trade. A trade of her work (as a beautician) for mine (as a poet). A facial for a critique. This shall mark my first barter. "One cements bonds between people through the circulation of gifts" (D. F. Felluga).


I have just received my first commission. I have been commissioned by Karen, Emily, Emily and Noah to write a poem about scooters, about a child's push scooter. In payment, they will read my poem, as they scoot around, to four people in passing. They will be poetry spores. I tell them to scoot in circles around my desk while I search for the words. Make poetic butter. They opt for lunch on the shore while I write:

to scoot is to dream

to scoot is to leave these feet
to roam in the mountains with the clouds
to roll like a ball down a wobbled crooked slanted
lacquered alley into a bowl & to swirl
to scoot is to be a lollipop to be a shark
to scoot is to leave these feet & find fins
to grow gills such a serious fish
i'm a shark scooting in serious waters
a dangerous thing a scooting dream

My night desk fashions another thing:

scootu yer hobblefeet

yer curlfeet
in roundes
we drugg rounde
a cloze mouth
stuffe towt in a harde place
side a bowlie bawl
a wobblecock
while th' lacquered ladies
slipt on their wily dreamms
dipt in a tippyjar
&the wild gents
glewing their gillies shutt
with yew& yer scootytu

Mary Lynne of The Village Idioms and Michael and I chatted about poetry groups and reading venues. Michael brought me some sonnets. We all exchanged e-mails and parted happily with the sense of community forming.

Mary and Erica came by with an offering. Moose. "Write a poem about Moose." Moose is Mary's elegant little mutt, which looks more like a deer than a moose, but Mary had heard the scooter poem and wants one of her own. "So, tell me about Moose. What are his weaknesses? Does he know any jokes?" Moose turned his serious head in all directions, responding to the short clip of his name. Moose moose moose. Moose.

Cloud and Kris are on the path, their smoke signal trails out over the lake. Russ called to them. I make it a rule not to call, but he beckoned. And they veered straight away off the path. Cloud held high, in his hand, a tightly burning bunch of white silver sage, which he bent to snub in the grass. Then, with a sharp-shinned hawk feather fan, he showered my desk with smoke. White sage, ceremonial plant of the Cheyenne. Purification. "One is not even supposed to ask the identity of a stranger in the Odyssey until after one has showered him with gifts; this act allows for bonds to form even among enemies" (D. F. Felluga).


I saw you once before. You were alone then too. Scooting through the meadow in a gray tweed jacket. Jabbing into the grass with your long straight beak. Flashing a rust of red. Hooked to a tree. Gray on gray. Hurried and aware, then laughing.


I went, just now, to throw my peach pit and sandwich wrapper away. As I walked back to my desk, after washing my hands in the lake, I noticed the tracks in the grass Michael's rolling chair had made. And there, the ash from Cloud's sage. And the three tracks of Emily, Emily and Noah, slipping away in the grass. Tracks writ on the land. Radial commuting patterns. Rumors of history.

My creative mind, my mythopoeic eyes, add the feathered battle, the smudging of a tulip queen, the laughter of the flicker in a mercury squiggle, and the hologram of a poet, sitting right where I am sitting, saying these words, "You move me with your poetry."

The afternoon moves by at 100 beats per minute. Andante. The walking tempo.

Ken and Dean and Eric sat through all of Andre Breton's "Freedom of Love." I warned them. I said watch it, this is sexy. Eric prepared to turn away. Periodic gasps from Ken. It went on and on, from teeth to waist to hips to toes. O Andre! Andre!


Wyatt exclaimed to a friend last week, "The time has come when we can see the people at the foot of the poet, getting their news." And it strikes me as news, the masses we have forgotten. The people we left at the lake. I blame the poets. I blame myself. Without a poet, who would kick them to the center?

Dear poet, the people must be able to hold you. Come out of the wood. Come out from hiding. Speak your name.

What are we facing? Nostalgia for a pre-modern society? Apathy? Sensory overload? A misleading dream? The demons of time? The loss of knowledge? The loss of self? The loss of community?

Poet, dear poet, you need only to speak. The velvet grass and thrushes, the hungry ears of the reeds are listening.


Helen Vanel, credited as the first authentic surrealist dancer in 1938, says dancing "must have the same mission as poetry. To rediscover the truth of being. To acquire…the sense of the invisible powers that attract…while repelling: is this not a means of surpassing ourselves, a way out of the marasmus and mediocrity – a method to attaining the grandeur that we so shamefully abandoned?"

The truth of being.

One grows nostalgic for what was, for what one dreamed might be, the myths we were making. We must regain hope, reshape our myth. Reclaim our dreams. Make a new true.


Art is a tombstone.
Art is a wet fuse.

My wish in The Middle Place is for the artists. I wish they might learn to lead. Learn to lead us to our responsibility. Learn to act as a community, to demonstrate care, to form bonds and embrace one another. Learn to overcome the elite in their art and to reach down and touch the earth. Learn to stand and be loved.


When Tarkovsky recommends suffering, I believe he means suffering for a thing, for art or truth or love. So that when one reaches the thing, the truth, the reward is clear, the artist feels bonded by her suffering, feels the stance and spine of her suffering. This must be sufficient reason and praise.

I have become a contradiction, a suffering without solace.

I was coupled and alone. No greater lonesome exists. Imagine, everything you want, everything you love, placed in a window, dangled on a wall, and embalmed in wax.

I was coupled and alone. Then, alone as an artist. Aloneness creates no problem. One works alone. It is only in the production of things, the event, that loneliness will not do, for which one feels a lack, a lone. Tennessee Williams is said to have made "loneliness a public demonstration" (Stan Brakhage). What are we nostalgic for? Family or the self?

If not in praise of God, what is our drive, the drive in our art? Some say that it is release. What release? Art is a necessity against which dust collects. If one were to be released by it, art would be done with after the very first act. Art is a clutching thing, feeding on itself. Art is the way to living, to understanding.

Suggesting art as a release is like suggesting breath as a release, which it is in a way, but as a necessary function, the way for our blood to obtain oxygen, breathing, exhaling, is simply the way we live.


What I wish to recognize. Everything. To live through everything, to somehow live through and continue, despite our inabilities, in spite of our definitions, despite our failures. To reach out. To everything. Separation and communion.

I am reading about a genre of music commissioned for war, war music, a glorification of death, written for an embrace, a lasting embrace. If it is possible to write, to transmit, such music, and it is, if it is possible to live and die for a song, it is possible for poetry to make things live, which is its only purpose.

Poetry. Dance. Color. Bread. Wine. Roses. Felt. Fur. Ash. "The reach from one art to another is the most leavening process of all to each of the arts" (Stan Brakhage).


The solace of the mountain exists in the mountain. Only there, on the mountain, does nothing urban matter. Only there exists no shame. No paradox. No repair list. Just a being-observation. A situated-oneness. No thought to how to dance, or for whom.

Mechanical man, take us through your machine and into the universe!