Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dangerous Business

practicing license
   without a medicine man
      it’s dangerous business

Baseball like an Olson poem . . .

Short lines, long lines
      inning by inning

meaning mainly in things
      including the end

fun, even stimulating
      to last all the way through

though, over & against
      your own point of view

one of the game’s
      great odd pulls.

The next day, another
      game, another transmission

substitute broadcaster
      Scott Hatteberg

credits a barrel-chested
      fan in a Raiders cap

who makes a barehand snag
      of a foul ball

with a “barbaric yawp.”

     (April 2013)

Why I like baseball


Its fearful symmetry.  Blake? 
The Tyger?  Well, I was a Tiger fan

in those halcyon days of
Almaden Mountain White Wine

with friends at table on Wealthy Street,
where times never got near

as tough as they seem to have
on Tom Clark’s Easy.

(cf. Tom’s light fantastic trip
“To Bill Lee” aka Spaceman.)


Cody Ross at the plate with visions of . . .
well certainly not Gerard. 

Perfect pitch?  At 60° F &
51% H, and raining on AT&T

although not here on Ashton Ave.
only five miles away at most?


The Giants score a run and preserve
their slender lead and can persevere
on toward a hoped for end.


Beach Blanket Babylon sings
God Bless America in the rain in the stretch

in something closely
approximating perfect pitch. 

     (October 2012)


Making a poem

            for Chris

Consider a crafter
& a necklace she imagines

each bead or stone
a line, beautiful

ungainly, tiny, outsized
awkwardly or elegantly shaped

a line, strong
in strand &

how they bump shine
compliment or insult

each other &
the beholder

& after all that
having the wits

about her still
to do it.
Dirt Farmer

And here I am
by the ineffable protocols

of all these systems
replying to my

own message.
I only have

one message.
Listen to

the new
Levon Helm

recording, Dirt Farmer.
It is extraordinary.

Three from the past

Her Highness

The fact
that she
is moving is
not always

apparent. Certain of
her motions,
that from circle
to smile to

nothing, for
example . . . But
you understand
that is no motion, it

is reflection.
You win, this time, wise guy,
but when she grins
you ought not

mess with her
or hers. She moves
oceans, and they
are no small things.

(ca 1983)

Concerning the Recent Laramie Crime Wave

Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude?
It’s the abominable snowman smoking a joint.
A seed pops coals to his breast, he burns and exudes
a hairy muskrat smell. His beard points
down Grand Avenue to the liquor store,
where two cowboys watch him and don’t scare.
“A man’s a man for all that,” says one toward
the other who just says, “Yep.” They stare
through the window. The trembling salesgirl
sells him a quart of gin, he drinks it
& she faints. He rifles the cash drawer,
has another quart of gin and splits.
In the morning the Boomerang reports
“Stoned, Naked Hippy Holds Up Snorts’.”

(ca 1974)

Verbal Assassination, a quibble

Lacking the guts for “real” battle
the sentient being strikes with words.
The urge to kill and the point-
lessness of “real” death are both admitted;
that death may form release, if not reward.

     The death of mind and spirit
     are another matter.
     The undead appear
     to govern and make us
     like themselves. How now,

     Old Zombie? What has been made
     the schedule for this gunpowder day?
     How many words to process?
     How many tanks to be filled?
     How many coyotes shall we poison?

It is easy to want none of it, these 80s in this America
but a program proves hard to come by.
Verbal Assassination may not work
on the undead much as sense cannot
be made where none exists to begin with.

(ca 1980)

Solstice 2007
I. Nature reacts to Us
TV sz Dead Sea elevation down 
300 feet over next century:

Sinkholes 30 foot wide 
open without warning.

Breathless, a dispassionate observer observes:
--Here’s a new one, absolutely new, on a line of sinkholes, you can see the line, you can see the bell shape, you can see, not so wide, not so wide, yea, quite new, not older than two weeks.

Big underground spaces . . . 
suddenly and without warning . . . 
the surface does not hold. 
Last year a woman was killed.

In this geography of cataclysm it is
not unnatural that natural history
would give birth to fear
of a vengeful god

II. The Story of Lot

This is pretty much where 
laid it on Sodom. 

But the fire came not 
from the heavens, 
but from below, 
from Babette Draw.

There’s all that gas there, all 
it takes is a spark. The flames are 
not the natural orange of natural fire.

III. Lot’s Revenge

200 centimeters (depth, not cubic) of water 
pumped into ponds for salt

All fresh water pumped out for salt
(no one could drink it anyway).

There is a new theory:
“Nature” reacts to “Us.”

IV. Ancient Civilization, Revisited

Petra, ancestral home of the Nebatines. While 
they were allies of the Romans 
they flourished a bit, power 
extending along the Red Sea to Yemen.

For then. While their 
City remained a marketplace
until the commerce got
diminished by an Eastern trade-route 
from Myoshormus to Coptos on the Nile. 

Under Pax Romana they lost 
their warlike nomadic habits
became sober, acquisitive, orderly 
wholly intent on trade and agriculture
and did OK for a while. Made it
for that while as the bulwark separating 
The Romans from the wild desert 
and its wild inhabitants.

Might have done it longer except Trajan reduced the City, broke upNebatine nationality
made the territory a short-lived 
Roman province they called Arabia Petraea.

In 300 CE the Nebatines stopped 
writing Aramaic & switched 
to Greek & in 400 CE 
converted to Christianity. 

Arabs pressed the Nebatine’s sense
of place & turned them 
into peasants. The City lay hidden
to The West until discovered 
in 1812 by a guy named Burckhardt.

V. Passages

Try to imagine Nebatine civilization, ca. O CE. 
Narrow winding passages prefigure
cinematic bazaars in the Tangier or Casablanca. 

Heat absorbed in chasmed shadow, 
current-carved stone cooling 
the angry desert sun, heat further 

moderated by prevalent breezes wafting 
off the not quite dead yet sea. Breezes that
waft through shaded columnar passages

conditioning air as a mechanist 
could only hope to dream. A plausible 
place anyone with hope might
think of for a way of life. 

VI. The TV sz, again,

Without that awesome landscape of
the Dead Sea and the religions it inspired
history would not be the same.

VII. Medicinal Purposes

A cure lives in a dead sea 
salt and mud marketed at least
as therapy for Psoriasis
and its heartbreak.

A certain number of feet 
below sea level (and water), sunlight 
neither burns nor corrupts, but 
gawd almighty (not his real name) heals.


The TV sz, to repeat . . .

In this geography of cataclysm it is
not unnatural that natural history
would give birth to fear
of a vengeful god.

And what the TV, and the analysts, and the Christians
and all their related desert religionists 
don’t quite yet have a handle on 
in thought and deed is 
an imagination
of a merciful god 

making them more acute observers
of the way things are than they let on,

Oh Well.

IX. Analysts Predict

The war in the Middle Zone 
after this one ends 
will be about water, not oil.

X. You Can See 

The Dead Sea vanishing. Udi sz 
--Y’hope everyone might be able to live without the urge to destroy it. Oh, my God, y’can see this wood is part of a coffin, Oh, my God, cigarette packets from last night . . .

Tomb robbers trade human bones . . . for what? TV does not make 
that WHAT particularly clear . . . Someone else sz

“Their arid country was their best safeguard, for the bottle-shaped cisterns for rain-water which they excavated in the rocky or clay rich soil were carefully concealed from invaders.”

Solstice (both of them actually in) 2007, San Francisco

On first peering into the collected poems of Philip Whalen

Astonishing that voice all
but 50 years distant (backward)
not much thought of
less even recognized
in some long time.

                Although another sense that
                it’s been there all along
                conscious thought of a mind
                itself unconscious

Hits true on BART
in the tunnel right THERE.
Brain & Heart.
Primer for a Poet.

Snake River Blues    

                for Chris

Anyone trying to jump
that chasm on anything

but Icarus wings
should have died right then

let alone hereafter. I
think sometimes about the kitten

you heard in the sage
wanted to take home, no

matter what.
And I, sensibly,

said no. Said it
emphatically, so emphatically

the other pilgrims on the bridge
took your side as I routinely

oblivious marveled at the sight
of a golf course

on a spit of land
Way Down There.

Kitten no doubt dead by now too
let alone hereafter.

Dead like the marriage
of the friends we’d just

left somewhere back in
Idaho, dead like

that old Evel, who turns
out to be mighty dead

tonite, just now. So It Goes.
In the next life

I hope to see you again
even if as grievous angel &

that kitten as scorpion,
but high lifted high

high in her constellation, &
our friends in the scabbard

of The Hunter’s sheath, nebula
burning desiring something that

can’t be quantified
contained and in certain

religious traditions
even spoken of.

All that Said.
I love you.

Someday, maybe
baby, another cat from a universe

other than mine
will whisper

in yr skeptical ear
and tell you it’s true.

Why I am Glad

I am a poet
not a football player.

Commentators who talk about football
almost always sound

stupid. And nobody covers poetry
on television anyway.

They test football players
for marijuana use.

They don’t know enough
poets to test us

for much of anything and
since they don’t pay us anyway

there’s no point to our
extraordinary rendition

unless we pose a severe
threat to the state. Which

is what we wish we
really could do.

We have nothing to lose.
. . . freedom’s just another word . . .

Poetry is much less
hard on the human body

than football, although it does
untold damage to the human brain.

Keeps it alive, & so,
ready to see,

although no more than any
other consciousness

able to survive, the
upcoming indiscriminate

holocaust. In unrequited
resistance, we will speak

about how it happens for as long as
we can & until it is done.

Found Poem   

                for my brother Tom De Vries

One of the best pass receivers on the team
was a black track star named Willis Ward.
He and I were close friends –

we roomed together on trips out of town –
and our friendship grew
even closer during our senior year.

Our next game was against Georgia Tech
an all-white school whose coach threatened to
forfeit the contest if Willis played.

Michigan tried to work out a compromise
whereby both Willis and some Georgia Tech star
would stay on the bench.

Because I felt this was morally wrong,
I called my stepfather
and asked what I should do.

“I think you ought to do whatever
the coaching staff
decides is right,” he said.

Still unsatisfied, I went
to Willis himself. He urged
me to play. “Look,” he said,

“the team’s having a bad year. We’ve
lost two games already and
we probably won’t win

any more. You’ve got
to play Saturday. You owe
it to the team.”

I decided he was right.
That Saturday afternoon we
hit like never before . . .

                   (From the memoirs of Gerald R. Ford,
                   complicit in the Warren Whitewash
                   of the JFK assassination.)

Reading Smoke

                  for Bubba Michel

This is your brain on music
The reviews are pretty good but the future uncertain
Altitude sickness mild, alcohol enhances

Some of the best lines come falling asleep
Be still my beating brain
The earth yields to its own its own

I. Tractive effort – as it relates to Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

Steam’s a lot stronger than diesel
Passengers are lading trailing tons

Adhesion is the rail & wheel joined without slipping
“In most cases especially for steam locomotives
this figure is a calculated not measured one.”

When adhesion is insufficient
power through pistons and rods
will slip the wheels

No useful effect will result
Cohesion another matter entirely
although critical to brain function

Weight needing to be
five or six times piston power
so the brain can do its work with

less annoyance from slipping
than would be
the case with less weight

II. The brake test has three categories:

1. terminal, 100% brakes in opposition
2. road test, count of cars, put ‘em together, do it from the rear
3. running test, engineer feels the weight

Look at your smoke, tells you how all the rest is doing.
Black, you’re adding some coal, heading uphill, looking for power.
Grey, on cruise control, got it right, for now.
White, need more, fuel, juice, power . . .

The wheel is the handbrake

Guys running on top of the cars
make sure the engineer has his air
lose yr air yr shit out’a’luck

III. Each aspen grove is a single plant

Some scientists believe they may
be the largest living organisms on the planet
Each has its own DNA, lives and dies as one

Others argue for all the redwood trees
in North America, say they are
a single plant, who knows, not me, but
I do keep listening

Leaves come tumbling down & through the car
Max Pacheco sure put his name on a lot of trees
or maybe only one or two

At some point, don’t even want to know
what the name is, just want
to be in it, “the moment”

the moment of the country
the moment of the country

IV. The White People

in the restaurant object to
the too enthusiastic rendition
of “Let’s get drunk and screw”

Lightning cracks and thunder booms &
Washboard Hank sz
“I’m going there” & does

in his steel hat, rain pouring from the sky
& channeling through some freeway
architect’s escape mechanism, leads

the way to New Mexican Cantina where
water covers the floor & plastic buckets get only some,
We all sing Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road &

Don’t let the rain come down.
What do you expect from someone who
hits himself in the head for a living?

V. Mesa Verde

People lived on this planet
lived on this earth, this
place: 1st village, 2nd village,
3rd village, now under aluminum shed

Majestic long house, great palace,
balcony house, house of blue spruce
cut deep and sacred into
mesa cliff, which to see

these days you gotta
get out and walk, cut
a footprint or two into
that mesa-top clay, scramble

time to time on scree and granite
confront the real! Deal
with it, hombre, gringo, rhinestone
cowboy & the horse you

could never ride in on. All
things to be pondered in the sky
high bar, watching the playoffs,

talking to other fans there & the
Jamaican bartender just
doing his job. Pretty
well, all considered.

VII. A Film About the Napoleon of the Woods

Pop! Bang! The machine blew
a hole in your film. What else
can go wrong or you do, get back to

ground level, watch the Jaguars
get beat by the Patriots. The Patriots
win more times than not, even

in Jacksonville, FL, named
after the $20 a throw Yankee President
the French in those days called
Napoleon of the Woods.

VIII. Author’s note

In the late 1990s
& early 2000s a series
of serious fires swept Mesa Verde National Park
revealing architectural treasures hitherto unknown.

In Oct ’07 a similar series
of fires engulfed
San Diego County & northern Baja CA.
Revelation not expected anytime real soon.

On the Pere Marquette

When you
talk to
God do
you think

of it as
an idea to pay
attention to, as
a conversation

with a being
with some other
self, selfless unlike you
are not, but wish to

be? Like that Marine
marched us ‘round
the Seymour Square
Christian Reformed Church

parking lot, bunch’a Cadets
we were, we were
in His charge too
on a canoe

trip where the
Great Raccoon first
told me why
the convertible did

not crack up when the other
guy in charge charged
passing on that narrow
2 lane Michigan blue

road. He gave me
a vanilla milkshake in Big
Rapids as some form
of reward, told

us all not to
tell our parents or
his sergeant about that
raccoon or the river while

Ed Sanders sang
Olsen with the Fugs:
“We drink & break open our veins
Only to know. Only to know.”


         (To Athena, in Tigertown)

“Lions, and Tigers, and Bears oh my!”

The Tigers don’t exist
in a future without Great Cats.

Athena, beautiful goddess
of the Edsel Ford Freeway,

we pray to you
that they will, & that

you who live in a big old
house built in 1880, with Sarah,

the greatest teenager in the world
may heed our entreaty.

Near Greektown, Casinos, what was once
J. L. Hudsons. Attended by avatars

once known as Negroes who
can’t cross the visible bridge to

the People’s Republic of CANADA.
Who stay in town on a gamble.

May you go to Tiger games where
The Green Man awaits you,

ivy bat poised to challenge Kaline,
Cash, Horton, Cobb, Gehringer, & Greenburg.

May American Gods of Jewish, Christianic & Islamist persuasion
join devotees in immense celebration

of spirit, mind, and midst there. May we
together sing

“Bless our house, our Tigers caged
or not, & remember the child

in the Green Cathedral
at Michigan & Trumbull,

where the immortals play
the great game forever.”

We bow, beseech the
Rev. Mr. Harwell to lead our prayer:

Essential deity, we worship thee
in fervent stripe & fang

& razor-sharp
talon of dream.

Material Matters
       after Townes (sort of)


The Doctor said no
ideas but in things, but

then when there
are no things

it gets dicier. Loretta.
She’s my . . .


Where was
I, was she &

whose 7s are those
on her sleeve?


Loretta told me a lie
never told to anyone

but me &
that is why

I love her even
more than

the good Doctor did
or might.

Material matters, is
all there is.


Song, for Chris

O Dan, sz she
did you see?

Another wrestler died.
They think it was steroids.

O Death, where is thy sting?
Right where it

always has been.
At the end.

Nine Inning Game

All World Lucky Day 7-7-07


Following a TV conversation between Giants Broadcasters Duane Kuiper and color fill-in Bip Roberts after St. Louis utility player Aaron Miles makes three errors at shortstop in an inning, unintentionally providing the last place Giants a 7-3 lead against the World Champion, but 8½ game back, St. Louis Cardinals.

Second. Vizquel gets rid of his hat.

Going straight back
damned thing gets

in the way. Omar
has a flip leaves a hat

way behind on his
way into short left.


Joe Morgan once made
three errors in a game.

It pissed him off.
It pissed him off even

more when Tito Fuentes
made three errors too

and pulled himself. Big
Leaguers are supposed

to be
better than that.


Miles grounds into a
bang-bang 3-1 with

the based loaded and
the score 7-6
in the Cardinal 8th.


Omar starts a double play
off Pujols grounder in the 9th.


Hennessey faces Chris Duncan
who has homered off him
twice in two at bats, so far,

in history. Gets to
3-2. Walks him. Brings up Rolen.


Scott Rolen once
got into my friend Terry Little’s

cab when he was a
Phillie Rookie and said

“Show me the Haight.
Show me the House

where the Dead and Janis
lived. “ Terry did. Sd that

Scott Rolen was the nicest baseball player,
and quite possibly the nicest civilian,
he ever met.


With one on and two out in the 9th
Rolen grounds out to Vizquel.
Giants win 7-6.

Ninth. Also Happened, same game . . .

Vizquel passed Aparicio for
for most hits by a shortstop . . .

ever . . .
at least that what they’re saying . . .

2353, or sumfin
like that.

Dream, heading North

In a caravan of sorts
I am sleeping

with a beautiful woman who
is cheating on her Mexican husband.

I, strangely unaligned, am
cheating on no one, besides

we are not “technically speaking”
“fucking.” Not even

technically speaking
to each other, just

sleeping together. It is
pretty & pleasurable.

Just as it is. We stop
in a coastal town

for supplies, particularly
beer. Brief scene

of debt reckoning &
borrowing unresolved ‘til

one of us realizes I have
lots of Canadian dollars.

My lady needs drugs
from the drugstore &

there isn’t one until
someone explains it’s’round

the bend, by
the Castle.

A terrible racket is
taking place in

The Castle Dungeon.
The landlady is screaming

at the Lord of the Land.
Some of this is captured, or,

perhaps, already has been,
by the Sunday Magazine.

There is a feast with
comings & goings &

special guests & photographs of
reputed Visigoths.

Many are known to me,
or others, although, some

are not, at all, there. There are
huge portions of beef &

it falls to the floor in joints
to join the cheese.

Ancient History (some of which, I missed)       
          for Voop

I. What would Hayes Carll do?

Orpheus plays to a remarkable collection
of snakes and other creatures of the underworld
in a remarkable woodcut from a Century somewhere
between his and the present.

In the court of Charles II
the guitar enjoyed a period
of nearly manic enthusiasm, sometimes
there were

5 strings, sometimes 6, sometimes
8, 12, or 6, again.

Send a check to KLFU in Los Angeles
if you still watch television.
Make it out to the LA School District.
That’ll learn ‘em.

II. Somewhere

There exists a youthful artist
from East of the East. Her
12,000 works since she was four show
the imprint of genius.

Her name means luck. Her other name
means to fly. She is their answer
to a luminous Yankee painter of shit
& Tiger Woods.

III. Little Monkey Falling Sick from Eating Rotten Fruit

In her eyes, monkeys are human. China Post
used her design when she was four. She paints
spontaneously & she’s really good

at monkeys. And at unique composition, as in
We have dinner here. Now.
She has 2 monkey friends beside
her numerous imaginary others who

show us their great joy with
her and are her
ideal human beings. She often
takes walks with her father.

She likes dolls. She often
talks with little friends who come from Peking,
Shanghai, Vancouver, & Odessa Texas.
Once, she took great pains to paint

over her father’s immortal
Marxist Realist output. He didn’t like that
too much although he respected her
work & said “Yani, you should show

more respect for your partners.” He painted
flowers while she nailed an orchid & said
she liked the chickens being
taken good care of by her parents. Then
she started throwing brushes

with dripping ink at the chickens, and a
new form, Chix a la Pollack was born. Yani
is always happy when she is painting. Tube
after tube of the young artist’s product

Awakening Lion
Ghost of the Last Catch
Fairy of the Cone Within Us
Let’s Go Cherry Picking
11 Eagles Looking for Game

& so many more
get on airplanes to who knows where .

IV. Critical Comment:

“The thing is
it is beautiful painting.”

Similar Disturbances

Home, beat up
by Lincoln &

the garden, legs not
only sore but

weak with work
& play. Chris

& Nancy in Santa Cruz
digging the Blues.

I am not
a rock,

but today I
am on an island.

I. So There

So what are
my brother

& his first daughter & wife doing ?
In San Francisco?

At the Giants game? Him
in the chef’s toque they gave

away today? Ella Grace
making sure it suits

him perfectly?
Without telling me? There are

images stored somewhere
in the cerebral cortex.

II. One is

A brother’s face that
sometimes appears

in hallucination. If that
isn’t him then he is

mixed up with some
other stranger on TV that

looks like him. Frightening
but hardly lethal.

Similar disturbances
have happened before.

He’s talking on a cell phone.
(Ain’t me calling.) Or maybe

it is, a reverse, an alternate me
& an other, him.

III. The Universe & the Mind

The Universe &
the mind

it spawned remain
personal & mysterious.

God’s Dog during Rivalry Week

Baseball is going to
get more interesting &

entirely less of
the matter.

More games will be
suspended postponed subject

to arcane postmortems
about what

might be. In-
fielders will have

the harder
time gauging

structure & wind.
Drift will

confuse more than
it used to.

Once real as well as all
the contrived rivalries will

continue to be
old confused &

not of the moment
or matter.

Voices will natter.
Gophers will continue

to eat my onions, the Lincoln Park
coyotes will continue to threaten,

I say threaten, boy, Pepper.
Stormy will continue to shout

at them. We will
play. We will win,

we will lose, we will
survive. Longer than

Pepper. This
would be no

big deal if
it didn’t

threaten the Great
Game. The only truly

American thing worth
a damn is

baseball. (Well, exceptin’
coyotes, who

too are American, so
that makes two

things. Long as
they don’t eat

Pepper.) God’s Dog
6th hole. Lincoln Park.

Hawks circling. Why
San Francisco is

a refuge, for
some creatures.

Three Sonnets with Bernie Van’t Hul


Green ideas sleep furiously in the lees
and squirrels dream about the autumn rains.
We did too. Laramie’s late-night trains
knew our desire and gave us little peace.
It never has been easy deliberately to cease
believing in true love exiled on Main
Street, longing for a tenderness to sustain,
although (a poet might say) it’s better than disease.
And still, I am reminded, awfully
of her and that last incredible night
in the Silver Spur Motel. She took
my side, and I loved her and the three
things she said. The desperate fight
was over. All we had to do was cook.


The Flying Squirrels often seem to sleep
while their leader’s frightful monologs strain
even a customer’s patience. They keep
right with the beat, though, when the refrain
comes back around. Scenery turns green
as lime icing on citrus cheesecake.
Fred would say that’s better than obscene
allusions to Vancouver fleshpots staked
out by rookie cops of the sort Hank might
bring up if we let HIM in. But it still comes
at me, angry, & close to that night.
I have no choice about my brain. It thrums
like squirrels flying close to ground.
Radar screens bleep furiously when she’s around.


Though furiously they sleep, all green ideas
are known to fuck like squirrels when it rains.
They do their fucking underneath the trains.
It isn’t us they fear, for they’re at peace
believing true love is desolate, a stain.
I long for love that green thoughts may sustain.
XJ would say it’s better than disease.
I am reminded that a lethal breeze
wiped out the Duke and Duchess who complained
that God was being fickle yet again.
That someone somewhere would hear him, and reprise
devising plagues of frogs and pesky flies
to vex the angels flying close to ground.
Radar screens don’t bleep when God comes round . . . .

Give me back my name

That word does not exists in any language
It will never be uttered by human mouth

Give me back my name
Give me back my name
Something has been changed in my life
Something has been changed in my life
Something must be returned to us
Something must be returned to us

lines from Name:
David Byrne for Talking Heads on the enduring classic 1985 LP Little Creatures
. . . if you haven’t ever listened to it, there is no better time than the