Sunday, January 25, 2009

Procrastination Proclamation

PHOTO: Diego Fernandes 2009

It wasn’t ravens and gulls
Floating sideways along on sunset clouds.

It wasn’t the colored afternoon
Moving south toward Santa Cruz.

The Pacific was speaking again
Trying to get in a last word.

Arguing with all that color
Painted by the sun’s brush

Every wave-tip running under
Clouds passing aloofly overhead.

I did get distracted a little
By all that cinematic movement.

But it wasn’t any of that wondrous
Display by nature and her children.

It wasn’t that perfectly fresh wind
Filled with all those negative ions.

Who was it that used to talk about
The benefits of oceanic negative ions?

Oh yeah! That redhead always looking sly
And brushing her hair against her hand.

But it wasn’t’ negative ions rushing
Passed my negative ion sensor.

It wasn’t any of those things
That slowed my departure.

It must have been the temporary
Freeway closure on Highway 80.

Because driving away from all that
Maritime beauty is always easy.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I woke up wondering
What I was doing back here/there, again?
I thought I left there long ago.
I thought I was taken from this place, that place.
I thought, I thought, I thought.
I thought it was real once.
It was real once.
Now it’s ‘real’, it’s a dream, which means it isn’t real.
Once, it was surrounded by trees and grass and buzzing
And humming and roaring and scent and sun.
I lived there, I ate there, I breathed there, I played there.
Now it is gone and then gone again.
It is still gone like a persistent memory.
Now gone, it just sits there brooding,
Appearing again, slowly solidifying, again.
Only it doesn’t brood, it just stands there,
Like my mother with her arms crossed,
Looking implacable and striking and ready to strike.
It isn’t there because it isn’t there.
We removed ourselves,
I was removed with we.
It was removed by progress … and dealers.
But it’s still there, like missed evidence.
An artifact of journeys that might be saying,
You may as well have stayed.
It was a strange place.
It followed the sun like a sunflower,
Groaning and creaking and we would watch doors
Swing open or shut dependent on shafts of sunlight.
But now that I’m back/not back again,
The sun has vanished, and it just sits there expectantly.
All the suburban blue paint is gone.
All the white paint around the windows is missing.
But the wood looks healthy, like it’s still breathing,
Or maybe it has put down roots,
Drawing food, sustenance, nutrition, something,
From where it doesn’t stand.
But it looks like it needs a tan, a little sun.
Wherever it is, there isn’t any sun.
It looks like it needs to get out and play,
There … there isn’t any sun there anymore,
Where ever it is it must always be overcast,
But it doesn’t say anything about the sun,
Or leaning, or groaning, or shrieking
Like it used to, it just says matter-of-fact lies,
Like your great-grandmother is living here now,
Or, there is a trunk upstairs you forgot to take,
Or, the cat is still around here somewhere,
Or, so there you are, what did you do with your little car,
Or, don’t worry, the dealers will be leaving soon,
Or, look out back, your friend Miguel is out there.
And in last night’s neverthere I found my way back
And a window that was never there,
A window that opened in the middle
And had a little turning latch,
That would never keep out a dealer,
With a perfect window frame like a perfect picture frame,
Perfectly carved, perfectly molded, perfectly gleaming,
And the right side was open,
Letting in no breeze, looking out toward
A sunrise and one of those dealer tilt-up knockdowns
That was too big and too small
And some men were working and I tried to close
The window quietly but a man heard it
And I know he came over to ask me,
Ask me what I was doing inside that place,
And he looked at me from outside the outside
And I looked at him from inside the inside
And I stared and he stared because
It really was Miguel, a grown man, and he said,
Wow, I haven’t seen you for a while,
You aren’t supposed to be in there.
But always a loyal friend, he said
Get out of there before something happens.
I wanted to stay and talk, but he looked over his shoulder
And said, better leave, so I disappeared into the dark.
There were places inside that still had light,
But I don’t know why.
It kept telling me lies about who lived there.
There weren’t any rugs or furniture or books.
There weren’t any sounds from the wood.
There weren't any people.
The tile is gone, the kitchen is gone, the smells are gone.
The deafening silence is hanging like a suicide
In the middle of everything, and no one wants
To touch it, or move it, be the first to mention it.
Thoughts and words just swirl around saying
Oh, that used to be there and that might make a nice,
How cozy if you changed.
I’m listening to those echoes now.
It hasn’t moved from where it stands/stood,
Even though it was the first to go,
Well, maybe the second,
The double pie-wagons were first.
But that was hidden too,
Old Mrs. Jones gave me that ceramic squirrel
And I think she gave my sister an angel
And maybe she threw a final rock over the fence
At my grandmother. But she’s gone too.
The dealers got them all, one after the other.
It’s sister died under a bulldozer,
Its mother went through a facelift
And a tuck and then another tuck
And then some organ removal
And finally, someone wanted firewood
And they paid the dealer to haul
What was left to the fire.
That corner was alive with neighbors once,
Mrs. Jones the pie-wagon lady, and Leo and Virginia,
And Carol and Phillip and Dave and Mac,
The gravel pit gave out. and Elliot’s,
And Uncle Ted Leung all left.
Dealers of stuff built tilt-ups and knockdowns and do-overs,
Windowless places so the sun can’t touch them.
Dealers made the little lane vanish, go away,
But they did it gradually, they thought no one
Would notice and no one did; first buildings
Closed it in, then a fence with a gate,
Then another building, and finally
The house went missing and there was no lane.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Visitor

PHOTO: Diego Fernandes 2009

I live searching
For quiet breaths
At your shoreline.
My intemperate life
Slowly drying, fading
In winter’s sun.
Your water's clear
But passing floods
Of passing years
Left scattered detritus
Sunken dreams
Treasure from strangers
Thrown overboard
For future discovery.

I glance behind
My future where
I had yet left
No trace print,
Where my soles
Impressions wander
Bereft of weight.
Little shrines built
Where the recent
Living found long
Dead forests grown
Matured, vanished
Root and branch
Twig and leaf
Before their time.

I chase waters
Toward the sky
And simple nimbus
Reflect vaguely.
My path beckons
Urging flight.
Become a river
In the desert
Whisper skeletons
And broken glass.
Remember nothing
Save Hesperides.
Can memory
Injure the path
If it does not
Injure me?

Monday, January 19, 2009

La Puebla

PHOTO: unknown

There's ideas floating in LAs lights. Los Angeles. La Puebla de la Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúncula. Tiny little ideas riding on beams of light, sunlight, electric light, starlight, moon light, reflected light. Sunlight is so filled, so jampacked, with ideas in Lahss Anjeleez, her sunlight light looks used, pre-owned. Reflected light ideas are recycled. So crowded with ideas is light in LA that both light and LA, overflow into places where light and ideas never meant to go and should have never gone. But Lohz Angehlehs needed cool and hot lights are cool.

Light crowds tight little spaces and spreads like oil, like gasoline, like fluid on anything in any space. When light disappears, little idea dust lays around, rubbing off on passing brains. Ideas are viruses. They ride light, they wiggle their sometimes-obscene little selves onto whatever host they contact. Not every host, of course, is fertile ground for an idea. Not every dark space should have light.

Light ideas get spread by neon and incandescent and florescent and lasers and tricked into performing kind of a high tech dog and pony show. Sunlight, yeah even sunlight, gets re-used, more light and hotter water and colder water and electricity and environmentally green machines and very tricky solar power light. Sun to sun. Lohs Anglehs basks in sun. El Lay gets tan every day. No stars, no light. No light, no movies. No movies, no money. No money, no people. No people, no Stars. Starlight starbright, ain’t the stars right fine tonight? Ain’t they grand? Ain't they cool?

And where do Stars, and I mean Stars with capital 'S', get ideas? I'm telling you, in the light. All that light floating around the City of Angels. The town around the Angel Queen. The City of the Queen of the Angels. Light Town. City o’ Lights. Sure as shit ain’t Paris, but gotdam its got lights! Hot cool lights.

The sun shines down on us all, everybody, not just la bella encantada la reina de los angeles, but everybody. As long as PCH is basking in sunlight, all the fashionistas, baristas, servers and sailors, producers, potheads, directors, deadbeats, builders, best boys, gonzo girls, grips and actors, and even some little toad in east LA is probably hiding under a rock to keep moist and every crack and smack dealer inside city limits is hot and trying to keep cool. Not be cool. That’s different, very different. But keeping cool helps anyone be cool. And being cool in La Puebla is way important, muy importante. To be in LA is to know the way of cool.

Get this idea. Being cool means know when the lights are on. On you. And lights on you, don’t mean sunlight. In sunlight's bright light you wear cool sunglasses. Sunlight gives you a hot tan and that's cool. The other lights you put on cool and sunglasses for are Klieg lights. If there're no Klieg lights, you put on cool and sunglasses just in case. Just in case someone sets up Klieg lights, or someone aims camera laser lights at someone, or someone wants someone to think someone is pointing camera laser lights at someone. And if they do then you move, you move like all the Klieg lights in La La Land are on you, focused on you, lighting on you, lighting you. That’s what cool is. Hot. Hot lights, hot nights, hot bodies, cool ‘tude dude. That's cool.

Remember Double Dubuque? No. No one remembers Double Dubuque. An LA that never was. Angels with no cool. A non-cool, no cool LA. A Puebla de angelinas imperfectas misremembered by WWII dogface returnees who hated La Reina's fine figure. That was, well that was a long time ago, before cool was cool. Yeah, Double Dubuque. Just a way to remember somewhere someone wanted to forget. Dubuque, somewhere back east. Double Dubuque, somewhere out west. West of the west. Double Dubuque. An easy way to put down two places for the price of one. But sad Dubuquers out east could get, and did get, and were lost in Double Dubuque and Double Dubuquers couldn't, wouldn’t, shouldn't help Dubuquers find their way home. Because out west Double Dubuquers live in The Big Orange and they don’t know where Dubuque out east is and they don’t care, won't care, and if they did, they couldn't, wouldn’t, shouldn't say, to be cool, and that’s cool.

In the City of Angels, angels roll over the, on the, under the freeways. Angeleno angels in the LaLa Land of la automobíl carry guns and gun for cool by the glide in the pride of mechanical stride. And angels shoot when one angel don't want to go with the flow. In Southland that ain’t cool. You ride with the tide, cause if you do, an idea riding light finds you. When ideas find you, Starlight, Starbright, you join the light in the night. You get to be hot and that’s cool.

Starlight starbright lights wandering around down in Tinseltown, they all know. They all breathe in all that light filled with all those ideas, they all start the glow. They all breathe their fill and they all fill with a will. They all grow on the glow. And their glow's a glow all around the globe. They're hot and that’s cool.

Luminescent, incandescent, florescent, phosphorescent, fill the fine night with idea light. The angelenos de la puebla of Mrs. Queen of Double Dubuque Southland La La Angels are feeding, la gente will swill their fill of Big Orange hot idea cool. They got cool. And they work it in La Puebla. And that's cool.

Today Is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday Celebration

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday celebration and a U.S. “Monday” holiday. I do not know what his actual birthday was because Martin Luther King, Jr.s birthday now floats from Monday to Monday, depending on the year, but I know it is in January. I know it is his birthday today because I tried to do banking today because I forgot that today was his birthday celebration. Perhaps it is because the holiday hasn’t been around long enough that it seems to have little emphasis in the country other than for Black African-Americans.

I told a friend today I thought perhaps to truly acknowledge a day with special significance I could perform some act in honor of the man. She suggested, as the day has been designated a day of service for the black community, volunteering in a homeless shelter or writing something. Since the shelter near me has volunteers signed up long in advance and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday had popped like a balloon in my face, I decided to visit one of my favorite retreats, take photographs and write this bit.

I’ll skip talking about how beautiful a day it was today in California. We have a lot of beautiful days; this was one of them. It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and I thought I would spend a little time reviewing information I remember, or think I remember, of his life and career without looking him up on Wikipedia or some other online biographical site. Please feel free to correct any details, I am not checking for correctness.

I seem to remember offhand that he was born in 1939. Why that year sticks in my head is one of those mysteries to which I will never know the answer, but I am pretty sure it was 1939. Two years before the start of World War II. I don’t know where but I make an assumption in saying somewhere in the southern U.S. I know nothing at all about the early years of his life, his mother, his father, his siblings. He had a wife Coretta, and two children. His wife died fairly recently and I do not know what became of his children.

I remember the mention of his name in connection with a place called Selma, but maybe that was someone else. I remember mention of a march, a bus ride, and a strike. I recall sit-ins and peace-ins but I don’t remember whether he had anything to do with any of them. I recall news of his suspicious behavior monitored by the FBI. I do not know if any of the official allegations were based in truth or one of J. Edgar Hoover’s paranoid chases, like the one he had instigated against John Lennon.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who improvised his speeches in poetic form from any pulpit. I remember very clearly his great rolling voice that always seemed to be addressing the listener personally. I remember the “I have a dream” speech. I remember he mentioned the Sierra Nevada and he said again and again, “Let freedom ring.” Martin Luther King, Jr. always spoke for non-violence. I know I still can recite parts of that speech from the memory of its delivery. I know the speech has been turned into a symphonic piece with chorus.

I remember another speech of King’s where he talked about “reaching the promised land” and then he added, “I may not get there with you.’ I do not think Martin Luther King, Jr. was afraid of consequences and I believe he knew the possibilities and consequences of his path.

Then one day, somewhere in the south, Tennessee, I think, Memphis, I believe, somebody named Ray assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. on a hotel balcony. I remember, much later, the Congress of the United States put together a committee to investigate his killing and that of the Kennedy brothers. The House Select Committee on Assassinations. I seem to remember controversy. Because some believed that his killer acted in concert with unknown other people. I think they caught the killer, but why do I recall an attempted escape. Did the killer escape? Did he belong to cabal of killers?

Why did he want to kill Martin Luther King, Jr.? What did the killer fear? I wondered when I heard of the assassination whether the killer had ever heard Martin Luther King, Jr.’s voice? I believe the killer must have feared an idea because Martin Luther King, Jr. always spoke of non-violence toward your fellow man.

In the wake of his assassination I seem to recall several riots. Were there riots following the death of a spokesman for non-violence?

After his death many cities renamed streets Martin Luther King Boulevard, which inevitably was shortened to MLK.

What I recall about this man who brought to consciousness a light of non-violent equality seems pitifully insignificant and I know there are those who believe that itself is too much remembrance. There are still those who believe in their own superiority by reason of the color of their skins, any color, any skin. There are still those who believe in the superiority of their belief form structure, any form, any structure. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in egalitarianism. He believed it could be practiced without violence.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday celebration and I would like to encourage you to think about egalitarianism. I would also like you to think about non-violence. I would like to request that you think about your own concept of equality and solutions to social disparities. I would also like you to think about love.

Today is the official United States holiday in celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I will not shorten his name.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quality Time

PHOTO: Diego Fernandes 2007

It wasn’t that you were evil
Or a bad kind of person.

Those were my feelings afterward,
When I found my heart bleeding.

When my illusions about eternal bliss
And unbounded joy were laying stone dead.

I needed serious therapy so I went
Seeking perfect counsel.

Every single one, even one I liked,
Acted unprofessionally.

Acted unprofessionally is my way
Of saying they just wanted sex.

Well, that’s not quite true,
They all wanted money too.

The first one was the woman
Who had me sit in her lap.

Then one after another, they all
Whispered their pent up desires.

I take that back, there was one guy,
He was very militaristic.

He very clearly ticked off
Restrictions on his fingers.

He kept looking at his watch
And stood, one foot raised on a chair seat.

He got sixty bucks for telling me
What I couldn’t talk about.

Oh yeah, I forgot, and the religious guy,
He wanted to convert me.

What can I say?
I was naïve.

It was all so strange because I thought
It was just therapeutic technique.

And it was just all so subtle,
Sly innuendo and odd touching.

The first few times I, very trusting,
Cooperated for my greater good.

Then I realized something about humans,
Even therapists; they’re human.

They all want eternal bliss
And unbounded joy.

Those therapists were just doing
What every other human does.

Humans have rules they break
And they hope they don’t get caught.

Oh yes, when they’re caught
They scream and weep and claim insanity.

And the rules are still broken,
Nobody puts Humpty-Dumpty together.

But none of that ‘technique’
Kept me from being a second choice.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


PHOTO: Diego Fernandes

A sound, a kind of noise
Is always there in my head
So I go looking for silence
A joy of the dead only

So my running my speed
A silent meteor fills
The braincase space
With a piece of peace

The fury after the Furies
My still life is motion
So faster and faster I go
Chasing eumenides

Until I stop
That’s when they turn
The chase on me.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


PHOTO: Diego Fernandes 2008

From here
Lights from
Fishing boats
Sailing boats
Cargo ships
Jet planes
Small planes
And buoys
All glow
At night
They appear.

From here
Lights from
Fishing boats
Sailing boats
Cargo ships
Jet planes
Small planes
And buoys
Are gone
At day
They vanish.

They move
And move
Along that
Line there
Over there
That line
Over there
The line
Right there
Left there
And always
Out there.

A Bridge To The Real

Quite a while back I started a post about discovering, or maybe rediscovering, in a book a concept I have seen stated frequently in books by all sorts of people from the Sufis to Shakespeare in one way or another. Here is the statement in the raw; be in the world, but not of it.

Be in the world, but not of it.

I have read this statement in one form or another for many many years and knew it to be an important component, perhaps even a commandment for those who desire to be what is called enlightened, compleat, self-actualized and many other terms. I have frequently turned it over unsuccessfully without ever coming to any conclusion. Occasionally, I have made an attempt to concentrate on the phrase or meditate on it, but my efforts ended inconclusively or, humorously, I just fell asleep. Not a particularly enlightening event, but restful.

This last summer, I re-read a novel called Star Bridge, which I have had for many years and which I periodically re-read because I always seem to find something new hidden in its content. The book was written in the 1950's and a brief synopsis might be in order. The plot follows a soldier of fortune, a mercenary, who has been hired by a mysterious individual to assassinate the head of an enormous star empire. The soldier falls in love with his victim's daughter, brings down empire, sets the stage for a new social order to address new threat to mankind, happy ever after.

The title of the book comes from an invention of the authors to allow the humans of their story to occupy a vast area of space without having to fly space-ships at or near the speed of light, or faster than the speed of light, which seems to involve a lot of physics problems which the authors found unacceptable as a solution to galactic empire. So the authors invented a system of "bridges" which is powered by a star, Canopus to be precise, which all lead to one planet, Eron, and through and from which all travel and transport and energy must flow, making the race of humans inhabiting Eron the automatic rulers of the empire because they know the "secret". Fairly prosaic as a story with lots of adventure and action suitable for the era in which it was written.

These "star bridges" are the key to everything in the story and for my own purpose here. As a device of the story, a bridge could only be activated by one being, the last member of an alien race whose relatives were wiped out by the carelessness of greedy humans looking for treasure. In the story the alien is personified by anthropomorphising it as a female, even though the creature can take on pretty much any shape it wishes, as long as the size is compatible. The authors call her Lil. Lil is thousands of years old and was, in fact, saved by a Chinese man (incidentally the last member of his race also in the story), whom she has kept alive longer than the normal human life span. Why she has assisted the man seems to be an ultimate act of generosity, but her assistance has led to this star empire which now must be brought down for plot purposes and she will assist in that also.

Plot aside, it is the nature of the bridge that fascinates me. To travel between stars humans must enter a ship which must enter a gate to be pushed into a lock which then pushes the ship into the "tube". The story has the color of the "tube" gold and the race of Eron are called the "golden" people because somewhere in the past there was a mutation to humans on the planet which made their skin appear golden. The great myth and mystery which binds this star empire together is that only the "golden" folk, someone of pure "golden" blood, can activate one of the tubes. Inside the tube, as we learn from our hero, whatever exists outside the tube does not exist and inside what exists is only consciousness. Outside the tube, anything coming into contact with the surface of the tube, which is of course, some sort of energy field, is immediately destroyed, deadly but beautiful. People traveling in ships through the tubes are put to sleep ostensibly to avoid them learning the "secret" of the tube. Our hero, in desperation, escapes through the tube fully conscious and nearly goes mad, but does indeed discover that secret. Everything inside the tube is equidistant from everything else. Nothing exists inside the tube except consciousness aware of itself, self-observant consciousness. In the story, the tubes can only be created through the alien, Lil, using her "mind as the matrix".

"An organizational structure in which two or more lines of command, responsibility, or communication, run through the same individual" is one of the definitions I found for the word, matrix. The planet Eron is described in the book as holding all the myriad strands of humanity together through the commonality of the tube. The tube which is nowhere, but goes everywhere it wants with caveats. The story never really explains how long it took to get to the planets to be able to build the tube structures, although it hints that the time involved would make communication inter-generational. So the structure of "the empire" is of the mind of Lil and the tubes are where consciousness exists of itself, and consciousness exists outside the universe but inside it, indeed is shielded from it, as well.

In the world, but not of it.

Friday, January 2, 2009


PHOTO: Diego Fernandes 2009

Wave and wind one, unified,
I see the Friend on a far horizon,
He found a treasure
Hidden in the deep.

Ages ago safety deserted
The Friend and took Him
Further than encircling
Shores that comfort me.

I do not see His scars.
I see the Treasure at His feet.