Friday, July 29, 2022


It’s been an unusually hot day today. High was 87. In the evening, after dinner, I watch the French news on my laptop, Le journal de France 2 vingt heures. I listen to it in French for two reasons, the first being my ongoing struggle to learn French, and the joy of hearing it spoken, the second being the obliqueness of getting a view of the world through another country. I have nothing but disgust for what passes as journalism in the United States. It’s all lies and propaganda, information biased in favor of powerful corporate entities, the technocracy in particular, and the military-industrial complex. The news in France also, I’m sure, reflects a corporate bias, but it’s significantly less aggressive, a little less distorted, and centered more around human communities. The news tonight is particularly terrifying, and has to do with the severe megadrought France has been experiencing. The segment, titled Climat : la sécheresse sévit toujours dans 93 départements (Climate: drought still rages in 93 departments), shows two satellite images of France; the one from just a year ago shows a France that is still largely green. The other one shows a France yellowed by the lack of water. They haven’t had such low levels of precipitation since 1959. Currently, precipitation is at a few millimeters to almost zero. Rivers – including the Loire – are dried up, their beds caked mud with threads of water trickling through. The fields of agricultural growth are dry, short, and brittle, barely any life to it at all. The dirt is more dust than dirt.

The situation in the U.S. isn’t much better. California and the southwest have been devasted by drought and wildfires. Lake Mead and Lake Powell could feasibly be gone in a few months. The future of food in our grocery stores is beginning to look increasingly threatened.

It’s hard getting mustard in France. The problem is seeds. There’s a shortage of seeds that affects the whole planet. Canada, the world’s largest supplier, experienced a historic drought last summer that destroyed a third of its mustard seed production.

I love mustard. This is a worry. Among many other worries. Worry has become the mustard seasoning my life. The yellow spicy flavor of worry that roils the static of my hot dog.

The mustard is all over the New Testament. In Mathew, for example, 13:31-32, “He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

This is true: the mustard seed becomes a tree. I didn’t know that.

It fascinates me no end that colossal sequoias and redwood come from tiny – and by tiny I mean miniscule, about the size of a pinhead – and the many implications to be drawn from that. What was the seed out of which Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables grew? Or The House of Grimaldi? How many palimpsestic layers in a single word?

“Longing is like the seed / That wrestles in the ground / Believing if it intercede / It shall at length be found.” Emily Dickinson.

If words could repair the world, I would if I could make everything wood.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Conducting Cars

We ran down on Westlake today past all the small businesses by the lake and passed a dinghy near the entrance to the Discovery Yachts marina that had been repurposed as a planter and was full of white alyssum and purple petunias. It was a hot afternoon, in the lower 70s. Not a searing heat, but enough to make you thirsty and induce a sweat. I couldn’t help notice the high number of morbidly obese people I saw on the walkway and elsewhere. I wonder if that’s due to the diminishing nutritional value of our food. In agricultural research, measurements of fruits and vegetables show that their minerals, vitamin and protein content has dropped significantly over the past 50 to 70 years. Industrialized farms have been breeding and choosing crops for higher yields, rather than nutrition, and high-yielding crops - be it broccoli, tomatoes, or wheat – tend to be less nutrient-packed. People tend to eat more when they’re depressed or anxious. Food is comforting. Unless, of course, you’re so depressed you don’t want to eat at all. I had two hot dogs for dinner. This makes it obvious that nutrition isn’t always at the forefront of my appetite. I don’t mean to slight the hot dog, which is a mystifyingly satisfying meal, especially if your attention is distracted by something else, in this case episode 113 season 7 of Jerry Seinfeld, titled “The Maestro,” in which Elaine dates a conductor who insists on being called ‘maestro.’ I once passed Gerard Schwarz - Seattle’s symphony conductor from 1985 to 2011 - when I was out running. Mr. Schwarz was working on a car and I cracked a joke about him conducting cars which, to gather from his facial expression, was not entirely appreciated. I should’ve asked if he needed help. Albeit, I know less about cars than I do about a single musical instrument, including the lowly triangle. As for conducting cars, in the mid-70s I attended a concert by John Cage at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts who ended the concert by taking everyone out into the parking lot and conducting a row of cars. People sat inside the cars and were instructed – via Cage’s conducting - to turn the volume of the car radio up or down. This constituted the music of the piece, which is titled “Imaginary Landscape no 4 for 12 Radios.” The introduction of cars may have been a new development. I remember the frustrations of listening to AM radio when driving a car in the 60s and 70s; most of the songs were of no interest to me. They were most often saccharine, formulaic, and tame. Then, just when you thought you couldn’t take another bubble gum masterpiece, the DJ would play something by the Beatles or Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan and I’d go nuts. The first time I heard “Like A Rolling Stone” was in late August, 1965. I was riding in the backseat of a friend’s car. He had a speaker in the back so I was immersed in music. As soon as the first drumbeat and chord were played, I was hooked. It was an exhilarating sound, and the lyrics blew my mind. It was at that exact moment I decided to write poetry. I wish I’d also begun guitar lessons. People hate poetry, but if it’s behind a steady backbeat and an electric guitar, they’ll listen. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Two Black Rubber Lines

Two black rubber lines wibbly wobblying beneath a window washer high up on the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering cat’s claws piercing my knee through my jeans begging for those glistening goopy little cubes of tuna she goes crazy over it amazes me they’re still finding fish one quarter of all marine life relies on coral and the coral is dying a warming planet means a warming ocean which triggers bleaching escalating carbon dioxide emissions being absorbed into the oceans is already threatening the entire food chain if I could go backward into the past the first thing I’d do is saddle a horse I’m happiest when I’m headed toward some place abundant calm and voluptuous and free of dystopic zombie apocalypse automatons shopping and messaging and streaming Justin Bieber and so my thoughts often turn nostalgically to the past France in the Belle Époque Erik Satie Henri Matisse a woman fresh from a bath holding a towel naked on a red carpet in Nice here at home marooned in the new century I still have Stein and Joyce and Tristan Tzara black wool hat on a white pitcher two more one green one brown in the bowl in which the pitcher resides it’s the kind of pitcher and bowl you might see in the hotel room of a gunslinger circa 1879 coldness of the floor in the laundry room through a pair of thick socks a colossal chunk of high rock cliff crashing down on leisure boats in the cove of a Brazilian lake killing ten tourists officials suggested the wall coming loose could have been related to the heavy rains that caused flooding in the state and forced almost 17,000 people out of their homes last two tablets of antacid come clattering out I notice a bit of powder at the bottom of the bottle ultra strength calcium carbonate 1000 mg chewable immediate relief of acid indigestion and heartburn assorted berry flavors between 2002 and 2020 Greenland shed an average of 279 billion metric tons of ice per year adding to global sea level rise and the disappearance of the Solomon Islands and Maldives and Micronesia and Fiji and Seychelles and Florida Keys the unvaccinated are the new untouchables they’re like poets funny the way those southern rock groups look like outlaws the indigo hills turning dim with hymns of wind I have sometimes felt evaporated and floated in reverie like an eel of tidings in a bowl of stars  


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Drip Drop


What’s the cosmos up to today floating in oblivion or smiling at the moon I’m up to my ears in omens sea rise volcanic eruptions hurricanes tornados floods and famine such is life on Planet Earth in the twenty-first century shards of nostalgia lay at my feet white anchor sunk in green clover by the Swiftsure Yacht Company paint flaking bits of rusty anchor visible the reality underneath it’s always there you have to know how to look for it this is why poetry is a noetic practice gentle rise of U.S. flag in front of Boat World westerly breeze off Seattle’s Lake Union Seattle Gasworks Plant still stands at its northern end which shut down in 1956 and opened as a park in 1975 there remains thousands of yards of arsenic laced mud at the bottom of Lake Union and an underground plume of benzene was burned off in late 2000

Soft crepuscular light on mounds of snow in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota dad’s watercolor hanging on our bedroom wall if nostalgia is a place of illusion what is remorse data gathered by the World Glacier Monitoring Service from 1980 to 2012 shows twenty-five consecutive years of negative mass balances for glaciers around the globe since 1974 the terminus of Alaska’s Gulkana glacier has lost 500 feet of thickness Wickersham Wall on Denali’s north heavily glaciated face is seeing its glaciers calving off leaving behind exposed rock drip drop drip drop drip drop these are nonlinear changes that aren’t based on a simple proportional relationship between cause and effect

Does reality even exist or is it a product of language Keith Richards’ wheezy laugh the aggregate of multiple nonlinear changes is enormous in orders of magnitude there’s something about a blue light I find wistful sad and dreamy this is a function of being drip drop drip drop  what’s a word it’s the copy in sound of a nerve stimulus remarked Nietzsche endearing the way cats rub their heads on things you like things that catch your interest they like it because you like it Lew Welch in a deerskin coat dark pensive eyes mouth closed in what is almost a smile hunched in shamanic bemusement they never did find his body 


Friday, July 1, 2022


When the wave arrives, it’s a rising dark wall. No one expected this. We were sure the wave would be all helter-skelter, a druid of saltwater raising cane with the locals. We didn’t have time to wait for another. These waves are rare. They appear randomly, like the nightlife in Bucharest, or Prague. At night, everything looks like puppets and prime ministers. If I had a hammer and a blowtorch I could probably describe it better. All I did in art school was twiddle my thumbs. I learned about diverging income and inequality trajectories much later, in the streets of San Francisco, where I left my heart on a public bench for people to walk by and stare at. Love did this, yes, and coffee and ivory exports. I get how people like to shout their emotions. It happens naturally, like a geyser, but without the elk and grizzly bears. Have you had a chance to look at the menu? The special today is a pale flower whose roots descend into warm Alabama dirt, served with a delicious subpoena, two salty oligarchs, and a quatrain with seven ventral gill openings and a hollow trigonometry. It’s busy tonight. Please excuse me. These conversations with the dead are always exhausting. Study the menu. Steal glances at the other customers, or the darkness in your heart, or the tiny little light shining in your eyes. So pretty. And yet so sad. Hang on. Hang in there. I’ll be with you as soon as I get back from who I was yesterday.

Now about that wave. It was a dark wall. But it only lasted a moment before it began to topple and curl. That’s when the surfer appeared. She was lean, and taut, and reminded me of the invention of the ballpoint pen. It made me want to go write something. I yearned for a little privacy. A little plankton. I live in an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery. It skews my perception. I see everything a little askew, arms akimbo like a cop, or the phantom limb of a lost cognition. You know. Like Machu Picchu. Last night we attended a wedding on Saturn. Delirium got married to wisdom. The festivities were watermarks of Being, raw life in the jelly of an open knee. The mind is a vapor that floats out of the head. I’ve never tasted such piquant emotions. You can pry them open with a brain. Get up in the morning and kiss the sky. It’s tough and sweet and bitter and red to get lost in thought. The décor is largely germane, given the perimeters of our search, the size of the cave and the resonance of the bells coming from the cathedral. I’m guessing you’re here for the wine. Me, I’m here for the nomenclature. I hear it’s a good place to have fun, exchange a few words, and exceed the bounds of decency, the kind of sanctuary we’re all looking for, however secretly, or longingly, finding it in bedsheets occasionally, but really just exacerbating the problem, giving it room and voice, a way to get even with the world, fight those odds in Vegas, and take stock of the situation. And that’s when it happens. The wave crashes, even as another forms in the distance.

This wave was different. It had wings. It had scissors and scintillation, profusion and onyx. The foam of lost fortunes. The bracing cold of mist and metal. The sadness of docks. The momentum of life. And when it rushed ashore it erased my name and left me here, dripping, nude, and agape. What is this place? I see a dome of blue air. I see as far as the horizon. I see through space, and I see through time. I see where I could’ve been and what I might’ve been. Had it not been for this wave. And the wave before it. And the wave before that. One word after another. Until they reach the shore. And enter the eyes. And enter the ears. And that ocean of the brain.