Monday, November 30, 2015

A Few New Haiku

train wakes me at dawn
a bumblebee's business end
raindrops in puddles

gull puddle squabble
 clouds reflected shape little
north america

15 November

Wide red squash top step
traditional pumpkin group
on an old-time porch

A grainy cold day
red yellow leaves like apples
clouds outlined in gold

23 November

 Thanksgiving Day

Trees apron the sky
symphony over the phone 
birds dance fanfarlo

 little birds fly off
into the symphonic sound
 my ear close to the ground

chandelier shadow
in multi-colored hindu light
bums outside shelter

in late november
it all goes deChirico
on shuttered cafes

28 November

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Chandler in Flames!

"The Ruins of Time build Mansions in Eternity"
-William Blake

Firefighters to stay at scene of fire all night

"...two cats were also rescued from the building.
Firefighters cut holes in the roof-- 
which later partially  collapsed ..."
"'Our city is tapped out', Kehoe said..."
"Because the building has been deemed uninhabitable, 
Red Cross volunteers will try to find shelter for the residents"

The Daily Californian 23 November 2015, page 2

WOW, the entropy of the old ways of Telegraph takes another giant step. 

These apartments were and, hopefully will be again, the home of Owen Hill author and poet who has long worked at the Berkeley's early and perhaps final bookstore of note. Owen is charge of the poetry activities at the store and hosts a long-running reading series. After many of the readings especially in early years of abundant scene-making attendance friends and fellow travelers would join the poets at Owen's pad for wine and communion with his admirable and mellow cats. Poets and authors one has encountered and chatted with at Owen's include Nanos Valaoritis, Clark Coolidge, Ann Waldman, Bill Berkson, Jonathan Lethem, Tom Clark, Andrei Codrescu, and loads of others.
Owen himself has published a lively, well-received roman noir entitled The Chandler Apartments.
(Full disclosure: Under my baptismal name. I make a meta-fictional cameo in his book.)

I think back to my earliest impressions of Telegraph all the  cafes and the book, record, clothes and head shops housed on the ground floors of buildings. The architecture determined the character of the canyon of the happening street. Even Moe's sold records then in its basement space. I remember finding it curious when I arrived in Berkeley in 1979 that the little variety store near Annapurna had permanently boarded-up windows; they put a lock on the plywood door to close up at night.
But that was the Twentieth-century which it ain't no more. I am not nostalgic for that scene really--there was too much hippie detritus left from the sixties and seventies. I had just left the urban centers of Boston, New York and Providence where I'd imagined and carved out my Punk generation identity and though there was a presence in record stores like Rather Ripped records on the North-side and various South-side record shops, in-stores by Punk-era heroes like the Clash to Robert Fripp and John Cale, I found the scene in Berkeley rather hind-bound. I spent most of my time in San Francisco and moved there for a year. Back in 1979 my first Berkeley address was on Benvenue near People's Park. I was quite familiar with its history which I honored but was largely alienated by both the music and behavior I observed in People's Park on my only visit for quite a spell. Later as one becomes more Berkeley one can acquire affection for the storied and contested plot of land.
Naturally in the intervening years change and stagnation have been the order of things on Telegraph in the hot zone approaching campus. Campus itself  seems much more insular and exclusive of the community.

I certainly  hope Owen and his cats are doing well and that the Chandler Apartments are rebuilt and  that the literary side of the scene that it has come to represent for me continues to find a course for its river of words.

Come back, Chandler
Owen, come home

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Canadian Thanksgiving/ American Christmas Sleigh Ride 2005


My first entry into the Pacific Northwest
A world of rivers ravens and trees

Thanksgiving is a time when some nostalgia is permitted, 
The Flaneur recalls his trans-Canada /trans-America train hejira 
one decade later

 My first destination was Vancouver, British Columbia
Steam-powered clocks, smoked salmon,
Aboriginal culture and inexpensive buds

Left Vancouver on a Sunday night
The incredibly precipitous tracks hidden by darkness
Dawn arrived as the Canadien was passing Mount Robson

We stopped for a period of hours in Jasper, Alberta
Made a friend on the train who shot this
a young Canadian cat from Evergreen college
We enjoyed cannabis cookies in the high cold thin air

I was content to move on
Canada was proving to be cold and I had shed 
The cold tolerance of my New England youth

 Eventually we reached frosty Winnepeg
A surrealistic set from a Guy Madden film
The noble engine awaits my return

 Sault Sainte Marie
A spell-binding tapestry of water sky and trees

I spent American Thanksgiving in tony Toronto 
Watching the Macy's parade on the hotel TV
Howard Johnsons in Neal Young territory
A tour of Bloor street

 Montreal so far from Berkeley
A possible point of my visit was in order to consider
Re-emigration to the land where my Mother's father was born

Charming in deed, but really rather too chilly
I had never returned since a visit in June 1972

Ste Anne de Beaupre
"Our Lady of the Harbor"
In Leonard Cohen's classic song "Suzanne"

 An ice palace deserted but for some workers
And for one bundled-up Flaneur

  After a semi-delirious evening in New York City,
Finally made Massachusetts
Staying for a week with an old hometown friend
His pad was not far from this old flat-iron building

Then on a snowy morning I got back on the trains,
Another lay-over in New York city, daytime this time,
They were putting up the tree in Washington Square
Sounds like a Kenneth Patchen poem

 Next day, the metropolitan wonders of Chicago
An early skyscraper reflected in a more recent building
Seen from the Post Office plaza in the Loop

Next morning you're in frigid Denver 
And it's early December in the Rockies

A last expression of non-stop marvels to follow
Where all the roads are snowed-in
and far away

(Excerpted from RAY Man's complete blog of the trip,
You can see and read much more, just two clicks away)


Monday, November 23, 2015

Lines Scribbled on a Beach

The tide is so low it's non-existent
Water has gone far away
Sky is an ancient fabled contest
Clouds in mock turmoil rendered by Masson
Opalescent light its tinted aura
Mists soften the sun
Pelicans splash down feathered dinosaurs
Fractal multitudes of tiny birds reassemble
Into a more stable semblance of things
One mother and child have walked
Way out on the mud flats
Separate from those of us on shore
At the epidermis of the water's thin skin
High nutrition belt
Everything eating everything
Little crabs will eat the gulls if they croak
All the feeding now takes place there
All the nuclear explosion on the sun
White light beyond sight
Sudden now as the clouds thin
Sodden kite surfers down toward the lost horizon
Dry your wings
Never an inanimate moment in  bird world
Wild geese fly over low banjo harmonics
Land birds frantic in the pines
Butterfly of autumn in dark jewel tones
Entering the bumpy tunnel under the estuary
A little Chinese boy falls instantly asleep

22 November 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Random Observations of My Oakland

 Syncretism and superstition
Envelope the Last Supper

The Flaneur looks up from his navel to contemplate
his astounding immediate surroundings

 Everything for every need and  pleasure

 Not that the Flaneur rides again,
But hell, why not?

 One big Pop Culture Party,
That's all it is these days

 Not very far away
A slow motion peoples movement
Amid incessant traffic

A community garden
Sign in for marvelous fresh greens

 BART train enters the picture
Highway over the hood

Kontinue the Dream
A spray-painted graffiti-esque mural
The joy of reading and gratuitous misspelling

 Climb every mountain, everybody

 For I have been to the mountain

 I have had the whole scenic tour, baby

 From the cop boats and presidential yachts
 of the estuary

To Patriotism, hollow historicity
Police-laden pomp and circumstance

Until the last soul has been shipped
From the offices of the Public defenders

From which I make my get away,
Fear of Music 


Time to pull up my chair
by the curtainless window of night

Monday, November 16, 2015

Return After Thanksgiving Freshman Year

I'd come in from windy wharves of New Bedford
Bunking with Queequeg over the Pequod tavern
Cold weather mirage, new work clothes
Buttonwood park zoo low spark of high heeled rock 1967
Pet shop Bishop Stang hobby land Route 6
Aunt Lillian died my Mother so sad
 Rehab Thanksgiving in a rest home
Water-coloring over xeroxes of William Blake
As if there was some point 
Bergman death actor the elements of film
On a fence post in country road Amherst
The deliquescent foliage infra-red fur on the hills
Old things not yet erased
November's denouement black and white cartoon rainstorm
Shutters bang off fly the chimney bricks
Leaf vortex in the conquering wind
Small refuge in warm-lit chambers
The stars land on the landscape at night
Did I know anyone in the houses then?
Gone now faded polaroids
Shooting stars just outside peripheral vision
Insights now into half-remembered tales
Ages passing for wisdom 
This dam, this falls, this gorge in darkness, 
This purgatory chasm
To make passage in an unexplained mental geography
Knew it as it took place, recognized it as future reflection
Natural land and water ways sound-tracked with music
Hallucinatory universe of manageable proportions
Painted wigwams filled with small fires scented smoke
Float over the inverted lake
The upside-down sky as seen by the mountain's eye
Tomato automata in the darkness of the park
An imaginary drawing room there
From some nocturnal garden--anonymity
The hungry owl led me through a moonlit glade

14 November 2015

 early 1970s

re-discovered this painting in a long-neglected box a few weeks ago
It re-surfaces in this poem, an attempt to recall the young mind
 Mass psychosis, or a restorative breather in the march of doom,
 a psychedelic way of life, a dream of co-existence in the living world

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Drive-by Shooting in Oakland

 Downtown mid-morning

The Flaneur's fleeting views of street scenes on the fly

 The ghosts of auto row,
First they smash the windows
Then they graffiti the boards

Oakland Technical High School,
A movie set in my universal picture

 The Bee-Healthy honey shop sells bee-keeping equipage,
My blessings on them and on the Halal market

At Kingston 11

An impromptu soccer field
Tournament Saturday

Cool jazz niche called Birdland

Dogs bark but the bus rolls on,
Bye-bye, Birdland

September-October 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015


Hibernian in Hibernation

 I have to fashion a machine
to get outside earth's atmosphere 
to see the hard knobs of the universe
unadorned, as they really are
so my own signal is clear
to all exogenous worlds

Sea chest with polar bear pelt
launched as an escape craft
milky way spills into it
narwhals sawing logs, asleep

the root-embroidered paths
through the darkening wood
towards a place lost to memory

all the poems I wrote
went up in smoke
some got trapped in the stove pipe

the ghost of one poem
comes back down
and sits in a chair

at midnight the poem is still there
in the morning
it's back up nowhere

skittering gulls
vigorous over the wet rooves
rain clouds at last

white gulls in sunlight
before gray cloud past
a mansion of ashes

 blood-stained trees shoulder
the glen of distant children
saturation-green field


November was a haunted calendar of fraught objects I returned to with an ellipsis to indicate that all obsessive objectification stretches off infinitely so why elaborate? It is enough to see and acknowledge the possibility of becoming obsessed in such a manner, to the see the availability of the fetish is be made fetishistic. Who goes there now? Few alive could conceivably remember the the personalities and circumstances. Why stir the ashes? The dignified importance of formal photographs of people long-buried and no longer recalled, the pains taken to create small monuments at the grave site, landscapes devoted to obsolescent reliquaries of the formerly important and now firmly forgotten, is mere vanity, is all vanity indeed.

When a dish has meat in it, no matter how good it may be,
it still has a smear of the charnel house about it

dark clouds Hindenburg the hills
a plane flies slow and low over the ghetto
hoovering up powdered phone calls

November 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stolling Oakland's Past

Certain details recall for me the actual old Oakland 
The one I first encountered thirty-five years ago

This has been here for a while now,
what one sees everyday becomes sacred

 The languorous lumbering lakeside

 Across the water,
into the weeds

 The vicinity of the lake
Unstable and subject to turbulence

Spleen and ideal

 Modern urban center
With reverberation from Tobacco Road

The epic of Pacific Coast culture

Gets dark early,
A little chilly out
Nice night for a movie