Sunday, December 24, 2006

Analect 2.11x

22 December 2006. Bright and clear, after dark day of storm--the change delightful and astounding. Last night, "a kind of angel," Gus' line. Transcendent, my suggestion...but it turned out to be himself in disguise. Narrow, arched nose, high and alert--modest and incisive. A kind of character, not giving the world any more than its due--hard won, perhaps--and not without a playful (kind of) resignation. On the whole: pointed, though. Lucy's Mexico sonnet--their fiesta, swaying figures... Ted: four million teeth, all on the front seat. Dick: a personalized natural history of the elephant. And Sue--her son at thirty--great distress, touch of love.

All our beginnings... Hemingway and trees...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Analect 2.10x

21 December 2006. Chinese elm against gray sky. Fan of angled branches, arc of gold-green leaves. Workmen with tool containers--De Walt, scuffed polyester--making their way into shop next door. Here, the German doctor, singing under his breath. A ruby-crowned kinglet, he told us last week... Mellifluous voice in middle-low register--always the positive. Morning banter, back and forth, also a kind of song. A maroon Subaru with cream silver siding backs out across the street--yellow head lamps on a dark day. Feels like rain--or is it just the winter chill... Lights before dawn on all the houses--arches and curls, long row of tiny single red bulbs all along a fence. No Santas or sleighs--no crèche scenes either. An agnostic Christmas, safely abstract...

Prayers, nonetheless...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Analect 2.9x

20 December 2006. Tiny plane banking upwards at dawn. Pool denizens huddled on steps in the dark, waiting for Laura to unlock the doors. Her figure approaching, seen through the glass. Plans and anticipations, thoughts before dawn. Another plane--silver sliver against distant cloud. Sixth night of blue, red blue, red blue, one white above--the shamesh--servant--placed on top. Stan's brother's challenge--twenty-five years ago, maybe more: speak only of the present. Realized this week that I finally had a response: in the Chanukah blessing itself: sheh asah nisim l'avosenu ba-yamim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh. "...who made miracles for our fathers in those days, at this time..."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Analect 2.8x

17 December 2006. Bright, cold, clear morning. Tom Adame walking up the street as I'm heading across to pool. Face turns to smile... Steam and mist rising off water, Humann slouched comfortably in tower chair. He smiles as well...morning allowance, a kind of ethical spare change that gets you through the day. Small Asian woman, older--the picky one, always polite, always demanding, intent on Dell monitor near window, leaning forward, golden line of her glasses sloping down towards screen, lenses on her nose. Her sweater a Beijing gray-blue, tannish coat scrunched up on the chair behind, sunlight pouring in through the window to street. What am I--some kind of gendarme--these noticings. Who am I following? Photos of the Kresy--the Borderlands--from Lithuania deep into the Ukraine. Kamienec long narrow bridge, all of stone...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Analect 2.7x

16 December 2006. Cold night, bright morning sun. "The Blue Sky Foundation"--Pasha Ivanov. Arkady Renko again, sardonic, unfailing...the telling is in all the gaps... Faulknarian almost, except that the plot (and only the plot) follows crime story requirements: who knew what when, the reader also alert to cues... But the characters here--or is it Russia itself--transcend the genre. And the central event, of course--which is Chernobyl. He becomes disconsolate in the spring--around May Day to be precise. Children of Kiev in street parades, carrying bouquets of flowers. Chornobyl in Ukrainian--wormwood. How that very word? As if the meanings of folktale and legend were somehow less real. Baba Yaga--a book of fairytales, carried under a boy's arm, along with a well-worn chess set. The poles of knowledge, poles of truth.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Analect 2.6x

15 December 2006. Pale yellow sun through high cirrus clouds, illuminating the sky above magnolia branches. Single figure in down vest, green and black horizontal striped jersey, striding down the hill--her bobbed hair keeping time. Last night, the musicale. Kashah the enchantress, quite uncovered, North African dance--Maroq, Tangier...a young Daniel Weingarten on Ladzepko drums. Later: Anthony and Steph after half an hour's practice--as if they'd played the songs all their lives. Talk, lots of wine--Nathaniel's generous spread--with their paintings on all the walls, each persona distinct, unabashed strokes of color, also unlabored--the meaning in the making alone. Mark and Peter, our guests, Katie, all smiles, singing along. "What about Freight Train?" Elizabeth Cotten at eleven or twelve--how did she know? "...way down on old Chestnut Street..."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Analect 2.5x

14 December 2006. Delicious pearl gray mist of right at dawn, everything still. Yellow windows of Albany pool, two small figures in adjacent field, hidden in the dark. Light-colored dog bounding across on the diagonal. Just inside, folded sign on desk: Please pay on deck. Alongside, elegantly slouched, head down, figure of Humann...he looks up with a smile... Sounds of running water, steam. Two more figures, veiled in shower. At water's edge, I attempt a buon giorno with chubby regular, waist deep at the rim. She lifts her head slightly, shifts to adjacent lane, beyond the rope. Laura's wan smile from lifeguard stand--still sleepy as well... Morning mores--Ovid, Catullus, Po Chü-i--everything touched, everything known...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Analect 2.4x

13 December 2006. Slow morning with a late start. Natasha jumps onto high round table--compact mass of tortoise-shell fur, tiny pink tongue against dark little face...waiting for a rub. Last night: Arkady Renko at Chernobyl--the Zone. Hot spots and blasted trees--"a stand of red pines." Cooling pond six kilometers long, with ponderous catfish each the size of a truck. "Renko--that's a good Ukranian name," declares the seventy-something Hero of Socialist Labor, in Slavutych, a replacement city, but there's cesium in the topsoil there, too. As if they were followed--impossibility of salvation. Images of taxidermy: a badger preserved, a reactor embalmed. And yet the older couple in the black village, serving them pickled mushrooms, cucumber, salted fat. "Don't turn on your dosimeter." The key phrase. "Don't turn on your dosimeter."

Analect 2.3x

12 December 2006. Rain rain. Glossy pools on morning street. Yellow catalpa against pearl gray sky. Dark magnolia leaves over the 7-eleven sign. This kind of silence--invaluable, even while it lasts... Whoosh of cars zooming up Solano, ding ding of backing truck veiled in the distance. Beautiful, despite the interruptions of Sue's incessant mutterings--comments to herself on this and that as she works on book. "It does look a little fuzzy up there." Greg by her side. "It's got a little boo boo here." Possibilities of the language--a miniature truck wreck sometimes--depending on the ear. Martin Cruz Smith, for instance, with the ancient Nina on her Pripyat bench, "Wolves eat dogs." Declarative, not a comment. "Wolves eat dogs."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Analect 2.2x

11 December 2006. Winter morning, gray chill. Woman in dark coat, slender cut,with one hand extended, holding translucent box with light blue lid--holiday cookies, one atop the other, their ends dipped in chocolate. A struggle to describe--the recalcitrant world. Sometimes it flows. Like Rumi's guests--they arrive in all forms, whether we think we want to see them or not, like family--right of access--but not always welcome. Like the dancer on the streets of New York. "Forty Sixth, between Seventh and Eighth." Known stretch of turf, ritual of knowing, redeemed through use. "Come visit. We'll have some brandy." All smiles.

Make it new.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Analect 2.1

7 December 2006. Narrow plum tree alongside Solano...burnished red leaves touched with brown. Reading Su Tung-P'o. That was his formal name, but everyone knows him as Su Shih...the second syllable softened at the end, disappearing into the surrounding air. Sitting with Shui Jing and Hin, in the evening--she tells me the story behind Cold Food Festival. A common man, a prince, a burning forest...need and longing intertwined... A family lost, but memory forever preserved. How do we say it? Rak b'simcha. Only in happiness. May we encounter each other only in joy...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


5 December 2006. Golden marshland...gray fields. Sun low in the west, over wide expanse of valley. A bridge, creosote logs, over dark canal, wind dropping to a whisper--vespers--only the slightest ripples. Barn swallows in late light, forked tails disappearing in the gloom. Stubble fields--the summer's crop, harvest bales in low-lying sheds...barley, millet, hay. Visitors from afar, gathered around a fire. A cup of wine, old stories--all that's shared.

...our own future, we make our own past...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Billowing white steam against pearl white sky...filet of some unknown flounder on southern horizon--or is it flakey cod--pulled taut over the ribs with every breath. Girl with dark sweater--almost black--carrying bright blue vinyl binder and swinging her long brown hair as she makes her way up the hill. Muted sun. Season of return--the stubble grasses to the earth, sunlight to its source, rains and fields. All possible change clothed in loss... Banked fires, long-time friends, a time for stories. Maybe a glass...pear brandy on a low table in Amsterdam...veiled trees in the canyon...

Friday, November 17, 2006


17 November 2006. Mist of milky white, tiny droplets in an even veil, rooftops merging with trees and sky. Lina's family through steamy windows of brown SUV--"the gang next door"--wave returned with various finger wiggles--the littlest one right on her lap, perfect face, wide brown eyes... Tim heading past now, up the sidewalk--and the older woman with kind face, under small umbrella, looking off across the street. Two gulls wheel over Albany school--pointed wings, banking in wide turns. Flying in off the bay, morning... Last night: Anthony, Steph, Nathaniel, música...

Thursday, November 16, 2006


16 November 2006. Dark morning again, layered clouds to the west--mullet roofs and groupers, the gray shanks of a storm... Lone figure in late model car--beige metallics--her red sweats when door swings open, bank papers in hand. As opposed to Lina and family...beribboned children's bikes looped to busstop pole, long sari-like dress--a trace of Nepal, the Tibetan warlords, pouring out of high mountain passes, down into China. Mathiessen's Snow Leopard, danger of each narrow trail, powder-filled crests, impenetrable, but they press on. Footprints along the way--where is she--somewhere...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


14 November 2006. Morning sun across upper right corner of the page--after dark day of rain. Evening at Hearst Pool--cold drizzle on dank marble deck--warm green steamy water... The older man with barrel chest--like some ancient Scot...blocky head, neck, forthright even as he's slightly bending. Writing about new painting--all shades of brown. I look for Burma, then Rangoon, don't know quite why. Gleaming temple appears, golden roof against darkening sky. Later, in my office--incandescent lamp--a magazine falls open to feature spread--yes, Burma--a single figure, facing us, alone on a road--his brown sweater and brown watch-cap, dun-colored trousers against the brown earth. Touch of white at his collar. Everything coincides...

Sunday, November 12, 2006


10 November 2006. Misty autumn sun--filtered light. Yesterday--as if I were writing about Kampinos--the forest outside of Warsaw, to the west. Figures with wicker baskets--each one of us--wandering along the paths in search of grzybki--mushrooms--the Polish word itself right from the earth--that "grz", like some animal from the east, beyond Lomza and Bialystok...vast forests dating back forever...bear, medieval bison...zubr. While here, the valley land--slow rivers to the sea, winding for miles through furrowed earth, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Mokolumne...

Thursday, November 09, 2006


9 November 2006. Only in these days, golden sun, cool air... "Every conversation is part of the finished piece." Icelandic artist, snatch of conversation as recorded in New Yorker on table. A diner on Tenth Avenue. Which is known.   Marshland road past the sign announcing private access, heap of farm structures at industrial scale--a kind of Arc d'Triomph into realm of emptiness--rutted gravel gives way to stubble fields... Harvest past, now just the gray-brown earth, pools of shallow water reflecting an uncolored sky. Dun-colored birds, almost unseen, a pair of them--impossible dance, late light...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


7 November 2006. Sunlight, mild November. Young Asian woman with long pretty face, her baby in a stroller next to copier, making prominent baby sounds. "I hear you Jun-chu..." Last night, playing in the classroom before anyone's there. Early evening, incandescent floods illuminate the walls in warm light...everything empty. Love Minus Zero--the mark of a poet. "My love she speaks like silence, No ideals or violence, She doesn't have to say she's faithful, Yet she's true, like ice, like fire...

Friday, November 03, 2006


3 November 2006. Young woman in hooded slicker--passing by just for an instant--dark blue, leaning back, holding her end of long leather leash. Yesterday, or the day before--someone sitting with beautiful golden lab, all droop and paw--patient face taking in the world...   Pamuk on Istanbul--an inbuilt darkness--black trees on autumn hillsides, pulling in the light. Swift waters of the Bosphorus--Greek fishing village, burning wood. Quality of huzul--he goes to great lengths to explain. A kind of collective melancholy...suffered in concert. Or is it that--suffering, I mean--more a recessive joy in the unchanging plainness of the everyday...   Izmir, too. Anatalia...

Thursday, November 02, 2006


2 November 2006. Slanting rain--vent pipe steam white billow against fine wet mist. View to north from kitchen window. Nicola remains asleep on white at foot of bed. Natasha, too, on old green desk blotter. Sound of known footsteps--young Chinese woman approaching bus stop outside, bending down to her bag, under the awning. Gray brown spider on white pipe, just below window, computer wires, also whitish, tied on along the way. Peregrinations. Jesse, last night: the wanderer. Gypsies, Abraham, moon modules--also bound together, in wonder--not without anger--the lack, the want, the iniquity... Where is justice...?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


31 October 2006. Layers of gray, all across the sky... Bumpy row of orange plastic pumpkins strung from pool desk window...eerie cheer. Table with full harvest--a vestige, but still affecting. Pumpkin, corn, squash... autumn light. B's poem on Fred Garel--Ethical Culture, the Catholic Worker--a true chassid. We cross the boundaries--all imagined--to reach out.

Un hombre verdadero...

Friday, October 27, 2006


27 October 2006. October sun, warm morning...making copy of the alef-beis from front of old siddur--pale yellow cover with rounded corners--even more rounded now with age. Strip of translucent brown packing tape down the spine, trimmed neatly at top and bottom. The delight--again--of Wallace Berman show--his circle of friends, really--Los Angeles and San Francisco, each with one of Berman's photographs--marvelous--a revelation, really--time as moment and eternity. Jess in sweater, having abandoned Los Alamos. Robert Duncan with notebook and pen--Edmund Teske's face--and his own mysterious photos. All elements coincide, all facts are one...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


26 October 2006. This is fall--bright sun, whirling leaves. Indian girl with dark dark face, mystery eyes--in the evening, chair in the open hallway, feet propped on stool, reading. Book of hindu gods--ancient stone, rounded forms, each element intertwined. "I like the cover...," red and white pattern on textured muslin--run your hand over it--an entire world made present... Amin Maalouf...his novel about Omar Khayyam--Samarkand. Persia of old--also intertwining, but more edge and filigree. A different sense--the desert, maybe--or that particular light--Shiraz, Tabriz, the paintings of Bihzad...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


24 October 2006. Gray sandhill cranes--silhouetted against the dun-colored fields. Stands of water--rice, wheat, barley--stubble of late fall, waiting for the winter rains. An impromptu dance--two of them, alight on long spindly legs. Furrows and ponds. Blackbirds as well--by the hundred, lined up into the wind on empty miles of wire. Even the name is vacant: Ten Mile Road, one straight man-made line, hard by the Mokolumne...

Georgiana Slough...

Friday, October 20, 2006


20 October 2006. Again, fall sun...possibility. Dad would turn 100 today: Mozyr, Minskiye Guberniye, 1906...

Last night: Nathaniel's drawings--on the verge. Also possibility. A playful and dreamy fullness--we learn this way just who we are. Later: the Russian musician--along the lines of Bulat Okudzhava--but more comfortable. Reliving those years. (The "human" song, Clara told us.) Gypsy accompaniment--mournful but also knowing--never ending on a wrong note--in this untrue. But be generous: at the end of he evening, two young girls with their mom's thick black Chinese hair--at the piano, dying to join in... Clementina, Bach, avid little faces. He holds the guitar with a chord in place, so the older girl can move her fingers across the strings...

Osher. Begin again...