city haiku

a silhouette man
skyline illuminated
swallows warm green tea.

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the lady’s trident

as naked as the cautious doe in spring—
a natural living beauty to behold—
your eyes, lips, olive skin in prelude sing—
annihilation—thighs of yours unfold.

still deadlier a force a man may find—
in hiding—beating quietly your breasts—
heart—bloody with unnumbered names unsigned—
a thousand sonnets whipped away like pests.

and deeper yet remains a thing of fear—
when wakened wills all kraken back to sleep—
your spirit—lancing thru the world’s veneer,
parading truth thru streets, obedient sheep.

sole equal to your power to destroy—
your essence manifest of peace and joy.

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lines written above Muir Beach

does a poem peek thru the morning fog
like the sun with a weary white face?
does it travel a million miles thru the mind
just to vanish in a moment’s gray haze?

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how i voted in the Consolidated Municipal Election, City and County of San Francisco, 2015

1: Stuart Schuffman
2: Francisco Herrera
3: Amy Farah Weiss

1: Vicki Hennessy
2: Ross Mirkarimi
3: John Robinson


PROP A: Yes ($310 million general obligation bonds for affordable housing)
PROP B: Yes (paid parental leave for both parents [city employees])
PROP C: Yes (lobbying regulation)
PROP D: Yes (Mission Rock development)
PROP E: No (broadcast city meetings)
PROP F: Yes (fuck Airbnb)
PROP G: No (energy bullshit)
PROP H: Yes (CleanPowerSf shit)
PROP I: No (Mission housing madness)
PROP J: Yes (Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund)
PROP K: Yes (more affordable housing)

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Jewel City

airy, brazen invisible strings
vibrating, erratic, dimly squeezing
a constellation of city lights—
it’s San Francisco, the city
of bridges, visionary legions,
future-destined legends.

every day a moment
renewed by the pianoforte
fog creeping, sneaking—
a holy, wondrous, consecrated,
wet, beautiful thing
adhering to every home.

and the bass? bombastic and
silent and teeming, a mass crashing
against the cliff side, oceanic
connector of disparate worlds,
salty cell body binding wild lives,
eternal caution to us all:

we are triple blessed in the Jewel City.

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selections from The San Francisco Poets by David Meltzer


After trying to get it all down—the faces, voices, dreams & fears—the poet begins to realize that all the voices are one & it is his work to make it heard. (3)


One’s relation with the poem is one-to-one—as loving is.

It’s that simple, it’s that difficult; it is always worth the effort. (3)


The language of poetry is the language of discovery. (4)


Poetry demands full-time workers as well as any other kind of work. It’s unfair & uncaring to say that a poet who spends ten hours trying to get a poem right—a word, a line—isn’t working as hard as a construction worker, a carpenter, a man unloading cargo on the docks.

The concept of work & work’s yield finds it almost impossible to accept the work & the product a poet creates. It is a life’s work our society places little value on. The poem does not have the same currency as a new car, the same built-in consumer need. A poem doesn’t sooth class-agonies nor appease the poor as a color TV does.

When I recently applied for Welfare, the lady on the phone said, “Yes, I have an aunt who writes poems. Poetry is fine, but what do you DO?”

She’d been trained to know that being a poet wasn’t a job. It was an anti-social act counting for almost nothing in a materialist society—unless, of course, I could convert (subvert) my word-facility (“Aptitude”) into writing advertisements or cereal-box blurbs or best-sellers (“Go on, honey, go into your room & write a best-seller”) or a hit-song—anything but writing poems (“They’re okay to do if you got a regular job.”) . . . (5)


It is a loss to the art that more poets don’t teach grade-schoolers. It would be, I’m sure, a tremendous exchange of learnings. Each could teach the other many old & new tricks. (6)




People talked about communism in those days the way people talk about acid or smack. I mean, they bored you to death, and they didn’t know anything about it. (11)


I had somebody ask me one time at an anarchist meeting in Italy, “Is <em>The Grapes of Wrath</em> true?” One-eighth is true. In the novel, one guy gets killed. In a Bakersfield cotton strike, to which I took Steinbeck, eight guys get killed. (11-12)


The objection to the Vietnam war on the part of students is an organic objection. I have never been able to understand why anybody went to war. I look at a guy marching down the street in uniform and I can’t understand it. I can’t understand anybody doing that.


I don’t understand anybody who goes into the army. Who in the hell wants to go into the army and shoot anybody? I just can’t conceive of it for any reason. I mean, any prison is better than the army . . . any prison. So when a movement objects to a war, the rank and file, whatever their leaders represent, the rank and file have a perfectly natural organic objection.

The university is set up today, and is set up for no other purpose, to provide bureaucrats for the military-industrial complex and to hold bodies in cold storage—off the labor market. It is set up for nothing else. (17-18)


Fiction, you know, is like painting. It’s become so commercialized that it destroys the people who create it.


If a Buick agency was run with the ruthless commercialism of a modern art gallery, it would go out of business. It would be just too commercial. You have to be just a little human to sell Buicks. (20)


A person like Leonard Cohen, for instance, was getting nowhere with the literary establishment. You had to go to Canada to even hear of Leonard Cohen. But the minute Leonard started singing, he went like wildfire all over the USA. He can’t sing. So much the better. (This is something you run into all the time. People are always saying, for instance: Dylan is terrible, he can’t sing . . .) Leonard Cohen can’t sing but that’s part of the thing, and they don’t understand this. The thing that makes Leonard Cohen what he is, is that he doesn’t give a fuck whether he sings or not. I mean, he is communicating . . . he’s in direct communication with people, which is one of the reasons, of course, that he opts out of show business. (21-22)


[O]ceans, like the steppes, unite as well as separate. The West Coast is close to the orient. It’s the next thing out there. (30)


Civilization is in a state of total collapse. We live in a corpse, and more and more people know this and seek for a way out . . . (33)


The San Francisco scene dominates world culture. (34)


I don’t believe in universities at all! I believe the university should be totally dissolved. I think there should be more colleges than high schools. At least as many as grammar schools. They should be in the neighborhoods. In a climate like California, most of the activity should be outside. And the teachers should be beautiful people with long white whiskers and white robes sitting under oak trees and answering questions like Krishnamurti does. Leave all this superstructure and infrastructure to the engineers, the slipstick boys. Leave the buildings to them. But the humanities, I think, should be human education, dissolved into the neighborhoods and available to anybody. Everybody, young and old, should be able to come on in and sit down. This is what we were talking about. I am no advocate of Krishnamurti—he means little to me—but his way is the way to educate people. (38)


A successful business owes five million bucks, and an unsuccessful one owes nothing. (50)




“Mr. Dreiser,” I began, “we’re two poets on furlough from a camp in Waldport. We are going down to San Francisco. We hope to meet some of the other writers there and renew our acquaintance with the literary scene . . .”

Dreiser looked at me and I suddenly discovered I had nothing more to say. He slowly buttoned his fly, and as he turned to wash his hands, he said two words with extreme irony: “So what!”

Then he started in. Ripping a paper towel from the rack, he crumbled it in those fearsome hands and proceeded with contempt. “There are thousands of you. You crawl about the country from conference to literary conference. You claim to be writers, but what do you ever produce? Not one of you will amount to a goddamn. You have only the itch to write, nothing more . . . the insatiable itch to express yourself. Everywhere I go I run into you, and I’m sick of you. The world is being torn apart in agony, crying out for truth, the terrible truth. And you . . .” He paused and his voice seemed to suddenly grow weary. “You have nothing to say.” (77-78)


Certainly my pantheism had reached its term. In the breakup of my first marriage I would cry out to God and there just wasn’t any answer coming back. Pantheism is really a great concept, but there’s not much help from it when your life needs help most. It just isn’t personal enough to meet the absolute demand of the spirit. (84)


I’ll always remember a story about Allen [Ginsberg] seeking across India for the absolute guru. Finally he found this ragged holy man, half gone with visionary rapture, sitting by a path in the lotus position. Allen rushed up to him and in broken Hindu stammered: “O Master! I have come all the way across the ocean to find you! Tell me, have you experienced the <em>Paranirvana</em>, the nirvana beyond nothingness?” The old adept opened his eyes and focused them blankly on Allen for a long moment. Then he replied in perfect English: “None of your fucking business!” (100)


I distinguish between the poem written and the poem read. The poem read is the confrontation with the world, but the poem written is the confrontation with the self, the unknown part of the self, which is hidden. (114)


“Human kind,” as Eliot has said, “cannot bear very much reality.” (115)


“In the beginning was the Word . . .” (117)


The platform for the poet, like the wilderness for the shaman, is not a place of testing. It is a place of survival. For me, my testing was my solitude, and my solitude was my cell, and that solitude formed me. And yet that is nothing compared to the terrible solitude, the isolation one undergoes on platform. I think it is crucial to see the audience as the active force, the dangerous unconscious force. Then the audience as the bull and the poet the matador. Until you have been gored a few times, your vocation has not been confirmed. We wait always for the baptism of blood. In her book <em>Waiting for God</em> Simone Weil quotes with approval the saying of French craftsmen, that until an apprentice has been hurt by his tools, “the craft has not yet entered into his body.” (118)


From one point of view it is horribly like photographing your beloved in the moment of giving herself to you. Who would do that? Yet as a poet you do it. Except we deal with more intangible forms. (120)


Who ever heard of an efficient lover? (120)


This is why it’s easy to write the first poem. A minimal craftsmanship is endowed in your tongue. The problem is how do you keep doing it. Again, it’s like in love. It’s easy to make love the first time. The act is so much its own motivation that it blows your mind. But making love the five hundredth time? My first true poem was written with tears pouring down my face. Then the tears turned to sweat. (120)




I have nothing to say.


I don’t know anything about anything! (135)


The last president of the U.S.A. was really Fidel Castro. (136)


“Many American poets do in fact help the government in sanctioning a status quo which is supported by and supports WAR as a legal form of murder: witness the number of avant garde poets and little presses who have in recent years accepted U.S. grants directly from the National Foundation of the Arts or from its conduit, the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines and Little Presses, making it clear that the avant garde in the arts is not necessarily to be associated with the political left. See Marcuse’s ‘repressive tolerance,’ that is, the policy of tolerance and/or sponsorship as a self protection against violence; or as Susan Sontag recently put it, ‘Divesting unsettling or subversive ideas by ingesting them.’ The State, whether capitalist or Communist, has an enormous capacity to ingest its most dissident elements.” (138-139)


It’s murder to come on stage after a good rock group as a single unaccompanied voice.


One of the few poets who can make it on his own voice is Ginsberg. (143-4)


Capitalism is an outrageously extravagant form of existence which is leading to an enormous ecological debacle unless it is completely changed. (145)


“One half of the people that ever lived are still alive.” (146, but probably false)


Nationalism is a medieval form of government. (150)


Up to now, if I had some biographical question to answer, I would always make something up.

Who’s Who sent a questionnaire form and for several years I wrote “Fuck you!” on the Who’s Who questionnaire, and sent it back to them. But they are very persistent people and they keep writing and they keep saying, “If you don’t answer this, we will publish something about you which may not be correct—so you may as well correct this”—so you get involved correcting a column of type that they have written about you that they have scrounged from other sources. I make up a lot of things.

Was I probably born in 1919 or 1920 in either Paris or New York? Some days it’s hard to tell. I really don’t see the reason for giving a straight answer. For one thing, I enjoy putting on Who’s Who. I have done this with a lot of different interviewers, since it is valid for a poet who considers himself a semi-surrealist poet.

If you are going to write in one manner and someone comes to you with some straight questions—why should you give them a straight answer? (152)


I must say I made some classic mistakes. I defended translation mistakes by saying that a translation is like a woman—when she is faithful she is not beautiful—when she is beautiful she isn’t faithful— (155)


It is much more vain to refuse an autograph than to sign one. (170)




LW: This should be put into this. It is very important. I went to the loony bin when I was fourteen months old.

DM: I don’t understand.

LW: I know you don’t. It is the world’s record. (193)


I’m a classic case of the alcoholic with an eating problem. To this day I suck on the tit of the bottle. (194)


Let’s get out to the positive part of it. All I have done correctly in literature, if I have done anything correctly, was done because I resisted a terrible mother who was the absolute form of Kali, death. Even her pets die inside of a year or two. And then you can see why I praise the planet so highly. Why I take other goddesses. (194)


“If you ever like a book, you will probably like another book by the man that wrote it.” (198)


The difference between the ordinary kind of language that we use every day and the language that we call poetry is very slim when we have great poets working. (200)


You have to know what the tribe is speaking and you have to have something to talk about yourself. This is a two-part argument. Let’s take the first part.

You have to have a sense of what the tribe is speaking. This takes ear training. You have to go out into the street and listen to the way people talk. You have to really listen to the kind of things that people say. You have to listen to the birds that are in the air, the helicopters, the big rush of jets . . . Listen to this, you can’t even talk in my living room without the din of it. You have to have your ears open. You have to have your goddamn ears open or you are not going to be a poet. Or you are not going to be a writer of any importance whatsoever.

I am sick and tired of all these punk kids trying to tell me how sad they are every time they walk through a park. Come on. Step one.

We have two things . . . you have to hear what is. You have to hear how your mother talked. You have to hear how your mother talked in a way that is so straight that it will almost kill you. Not only what she said, but how the language move in what she said. And how the language affected the people around her. Because that is what is going to affect you. And you have to know what the people in the town talk like. How it is said. You have to know it so perfectly that you can never ever make an error. Even Hemingway made errors, and we must not, if we are poets, ever make an error. It is a very precise art and a strong and a good one. I die behind it . . . its strength and its purpose. (205)


See, the trouble with most grants is that the grants are either for a book that is going to be written, or not written, or it’s for going to Italy and doing something. Nobody just gives you bread. I don’t need any grants. I know what I am going to do next year. What I need is four thousand dollars! Like maybe I’ll just sit here and spend it all on bourbon, but that’s my goddamn right. If I am a poet I need bread to go, just like a car. You have to put gas in it. So that was the idea behind Bread, Inc. (207)


We do a lot of talking, don’t we? And the best talking we call poetry. (209)


It’s fun to translate English poets. (212)


I still believe that Gertrude Stein is probably the best writer if you just want to take writing as a supreme exquisite art. Nobody ever did it as purely as Gertrude Stein, because everybody gets the story in the way somehow or other, or gets themselves in the way. She really went word, word, word, word, word. You know how musicians talk about Mozart? Well, that is the way Stein is as a writer in my mind. (219)


Blake put it his way: “I do not distrust my corporal or vegetative eye any more than I would distrust a window for its sight. I look through it, not with it.” That is the source of vision. That is a man who sees. A vision is what you see with the mind’s eye, which is to say, a vision is what you see. (223)


In my life I have never found a need to wonder about whether or not there is a god, let alone believe in it. The whole idea of another power has always seemed to me the most outrageously unnecessary and dangerous human idea that ever was. Yet, I have always worshiped this planet, which is, of course, another power. (223)


When you start talking to me about trinities and Christs, and virgin births, and saints, and Buddhas, like, forget it, man. That’s all words. That’s all shit, shit. That’s trash. That’s mind trash. Because it is right there under your feet, see? And it is not only your feet and your eyes that let you “know yourself knowing it.” It’s God. (224)


I woke up after a wine drunk—I had brought a lot of red wine with me—I woke up about three in the afternoon and I saw it.

I saw myself
a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it

and vowed
always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through

and then heard
“Ring of bone” where
ring is what a
bell does.

And in the middle of it I got an erection, and put my dick out the open window and I came without even touching it. And that’s the kind of ecstasies I am talking about. It’s like that old joke, you know, a girl has a cunt that is too big and you say it is like sticking your prick out the window and fucking the world. That was it. I stuck my prick out and I fucked the world.


But if you are a poet, you can snag it, put it down and then you look at the poem, and then you look at your wet dick, and you look at the earth you just came on, and you say, “Goddamn, it is all right, isn’t it?” You get a big up out of it. And I am that crazy. (225-6)




I think we have to believe everything that’s reasonable to us. Boehme’s concept of our existence is as spiritually true, or truer, than atoms and molecules. (249)


You write a villanelle because there is a metrical voice in your head that you are pursuing. You demand it to rhyme in a certain pattern. But that’s a voice, it’s not dimensional. (256)


MM: What I am most concerned with now is the river within ourselves. The biological energy of ourselves is extrusions or tentacles of the universe of meat. The universe of life covering the entire planet. Let’s say life is four billion years old—it might be older—from the first complex particles of a certain type of material joined together in strings and then coiling and encapsulating themselves. The next biggest step for them is to become links, to form a coating about themselves. Traditionally, you think of a cell as being an enclosed substance, like a bag or a sac. It’s actually not that. It’s created from the inside outward and it’s highly complex topologically. From the first topological complexity becoming what we have come to call life until now—four billion years later.

If you could do as Spengler does . . . He takes cultures and examines them side by side as if they were physical entities. If you can conceive of all life that has happened on this planet of which we are a highly complex extrusion, as a novelty of that body experience, and conceive of that body as unique, freed of time and space, and if you can conceive of it as a vast being . . . then you begin to conceive of yourself in relationship to the surge. It’s not a systematic system. It is a systemless system, an expanding system, a system becoming complex as it stores rays of the sun. The rays of the sun furnish energy for this. It contains more and more of the energy and it grows more and more. You begin to see your relationship to it and you begin to see that there is a river, a surge, a source that is universal and that you partake of.

You are that thing, sensing and perceiving itself. You become dimly aware of the multiplicity of your sensations. You don’t have five senses. Scientists say we have twenty-seven senses. You can’t really conceive of this totality because you don’t have an infinitude of senses. But we have more senses than we know we have. We have deeper relations to this universe. I think, for the first time, an awareness of it is coming to us.

Take Camus. There he is confronted with horror, anguish, nausea, forlornness, etc., because he conceived the meaninglessness of a man’s gestures in a telephone booth. He’s a member of a very heavy Catholic society that has come to think in traditional-humanistic terms. You are partaking of the same culture—a planetary culture that is interlinked. You participate in various degrees of wealth or poverty it offers you. Camus sees this and says: “Oh, my God, look at the utter meaninglessness.”

When a man sees this and can’t relate to the universe—not only to the universe but the universe of beings—his reaction is like nausea or horror. I think now we are freed to recognize the possibility against that. Against a background of pollution, horror and contamination, mass starvation, hallucination and psychosis.

JS: So the response then to four billion years of history is not nausea?

MM: I think it could be very well like joy if we could deal with our inner beings. If we realize that we are not one intelligence but many intelligences; that we are not one cell, but a congress of cells. If we can understand very clearly that we have developed two sets of emotions and psychology: the social emotions and the inner physiological emotions.

In a herd society (the traditional humanist herd society which really isn’t humanitarian) we have developed a herd man, a lumpen man, whose motivations are exterior rather than inner-directed. It’s possible for a man to blossom, yet very few men blossom.

DM: Do you think that the inner river directs us in some way?

MM: I think it’s the important direction, but it’s usually repressed by the social condition, by the snares and mazes and entrapments of the priest-centered society—as well as the graph of values that’s made for you.

JS: There are people that would say that we could acknowledge the flow as being your history of life, but that acknowledgment of it doesn’t bring us any direction at all.

MM: Yes, but people always want solutions.

JS: No, direction.

MM: Let me skip from that for a minute and maybe you will see. Everybody wants a solution instead of realizing that the universe is a frontier, that the universe is a messiah for this whole total . . . this beatific complex meat structure that you are a tentacle, an aura, an extrusion, an experiencing of. They say instead, we want a solution, we want a utopia, we want bliss, we want progress, we want revolution, we want this, we want that. These are all simplistic solutions. It’s like we are all trapped in solutionism. As one solution fails, another solution is tried. Everybody wants a solution. When they realize the defeat of a solution they split as rapidly as they can to another solution to rid themselves of any anxiety.

It has to be seen very clearly that biological creatures do not exist with solutions. Biological creatures exist through motility and growth and the more complex constellations of memory, intuition, and perceptions of their sensorium. So you constantly destroy and re-create. You don’t have a revolution to solve everything. Each creature is in a state of revolt, each intellective creature. Each creature that is able to feel with his meat . . . man or snake or wolf or rosebush . . . is in revolt, whether its revolt is its growth or whether the revolt is the deliberate making, the deliberate extrusion, the feedback loops to bring them what they want. To bring them what they want through manipulation of circumstances. But never technologically and not mechanistically.

JS: Those would be our answers, though.

MM: If the organism exists with problems then the organism also exists with possibilities for solutions. All I am saying is that we can grant recognition of that river within us which, in mixed vocabulary, could be that Hindu “We are all one,” but it would seem that that doesn’t lend any solution. “We are all one” is too easy. “I am many” is more where it’s at. I am happy when my manys agree.

I am many is where it is at. I am a heart, I am three trillion cells, I am a lung, I am many neuronal centers; I am an obvious sensorium that sights, tastes, touches, smells, that I can verbalize and symbolize about—I am twenty-two other senses that are less easy to verbalize or symbolize about, several of which are totally unconscious and don’t register on the part of the brain that I constantly recognize.

The manys of me must agree and must find what I call an intellectivity to commune with, free of desire for solutions or progress. We must look for Mammalian betterment.

Our genes are one-and-a-half million years old. We spent one-and-a-half million years minus twenty thousand years developing at one thing and spent the last twenty thousand years selectively breeding to become something else . . . and developing a tradition that’s not what the biological preparation was for. He evolved as a rare creature. We are no longer a rare creature. We evolved as a social animal and we are becoming a herd animal; or, gregarious as opposed to the social animal.

JS: I’m wondering, with such an extreme and powerful overview, if you could draw it down to specifics that are meaningful within the deliberate confines of one’s rational thought.

MM: I don’t think one man can do it—unless that one man is a great visionary. I don’t think one man can do it. Man is a rare animal, but man is also a social animal. I don’t think one man would find it. It’s again like wanting a messiah, a leader . . . It’s going to have to be a pool of intellective, multiple intelligences, to conceive of creative betterment, or find what we are “naturally” biologically and bring the possibilities of that into play.

We are very unhealthy. We were much healthier thirty thousand years ago. We were much more intelligent thirty thousand years ago. Thirty thousand years ago we had larger brains, and more possibilities of constellative configurations. We probably were more perceptive thirty thousand years ago. There’s been a great deal of selective breeding since the domestication of animals and cultivation of plants. We have developed a new type of man in a very brief time. We’ve done it in the same way that you can develop new types of dogs. You can have Chihuahua, you can have Great Dane, you can have a Malamute, from one stock. We have opted for one of the possibilities of our stock and it seems to be highly unsatisfactory.

On the other hand, we can’t romanticize the talk about Tarzan and Jane, or the noble savage, because that is a manifest absurdity. I mean, that’s another kind of kitsch. No one man, or individual, or small group of individuals can conceive of that situation. (261-6)


MM: One of the Greek mottoes that they liked to live by was: “Moderation is best.” Moderation is highest. One of the catchphrases of our acculturated traditional humanistic societies is also “moderation.” I discovered that what we now mean by moderation and what the Greeks meant by moderation are two entirely different things.

The Greeks went to extremes. You get drunk and have belladonna in your wine and have a feast and everyone talks euphorically all night long and then, in the morning, you take your baths and go to the agora and to the marketplace and then to exercise. You go from the extreme of drunkenness to meditation to the body athletic. It was the development of both the body and the mind, the ability to sing, the possibility of being drunk and the possibility of soberness, yet we hypocritically, and antibiologically, give lip service to a different kind of moderation. Our moderation of today is like the moderation of the relative confinement of your possible activities. To be in your car, to drive it to work, to do a job, to come home, to have a drink, to go to bed, to go to work the next day.

The individual in his own idealism, which is propaganda, is blocked in his possibilities and the only possibilities that are open to him are the possibilities of checks and balances. Like, alcohol is OK—you can be excessive with alcohol because alcohol is traditionally inherent in this society. If you smoke grass then that gives you extra societal insights at this point. When grass becomes legal it will probably cease to do so. But at this time, it gives you extra societal insights, therefore it’s a negative.

DM: The idea of moderation, doesn’t it also arise from perhaps an instinct for a kind of balance?

MM: Yes, but the point I want to make is that the only balance you can achieve, that makes sense biologically is to go not to the extreme of freezing yourself to death or burning yourself to death, but to find a center, a balance, a true moderation. You have to go to many extremes to form a center that is the true balance. From this balance center you have to have extensions to conceive of what the possible frontiers are.

You must know what you can do. You have to experience what you can do. And then you must choose your moderation from the possibilities. You create your moderation. Today, your moderation is handed to you. (268-9)


MM: I would consider TV a pain-inflicting instrument. What actually happens psychologically when you watch TV is that you get into a state of self-induced autohypnosis. TV is a strong autohypnotic. You become fixated on that screen which is projecting itself at you. Nothing else registers on your reticular system, your neuronal screen. The neuronal screen, the screen of your being, is meant to experience the universe, instead TV fills it with the projection of shit images. It whites out. I mean it whites your perceptions out. Sound comes at you loud. The visual thing comes at you very loud. As McLuhan points out, it appeals to your tactile sensorium as well. At least three areas of your sensorium are being hit at once. And it’s all registering on that interior screen that’s like a central source screen, or the central agency, for perception. All it does is white you out.

It fills you not with pleasurable influences but with painful influences: cowboys naked to the waist beating each other with chains. It’s a mistake to equate the internalization of novelty with a desire for motility. Your body desires to move; your body desires activity, desires a frontier, so that your neuronal screen, actually your reticular system, the place where these images register, will be constantly active. You just lay there and it fills the screen. That screen was developed for an entirely different recognition pattern and perception pattern.

JS: I’m saying that the autohypnosis of TV is easily equated to meditation.

MM: No, because it’s not filling enough to be equated to meditation. Meditation works in an entirely different way.

JS: Meditation is autohypnosis.

MM: There are several kinds of meditation. Let me give you two. One is the kind that is done in Subud. You move your arms and legs randomly in a darkened room with your eyes closed. You shout or sing or chant rhythmically at the same time. Try to think while you are doing that! It’s impossible. Your screen is blank. Totally blank. And your screen being totally blank, you are getting a feedback of your own sensations. Purely physiological sensations. Totally organic sensations of your body with absolute imagelessness feeding back to you. You realize you are the universe. Afterwards you feel high. You really feel good. An hour of that is fantastically rewarding!

The other kind of meditation is much more complex. You do it through a series of studies and rejections and acceptances. You learn to empty the reticular system or your neuronal screen. Either one works. What I am saying is that TV is not emptying your screen, it is only filling it up enough to white it out. You’re not getting any feedback. When it gets blank you get feedback. After watching TV, notice that you feel exhausted. You have been through the meat wringer. After meditation, either Subud-type meditation or Hindu Buddhist-type meditation, you feel invigorated. Sure those TV-watching people don’t riot, they’re too exhausted. (271-3)


The DNA molecule is the memory. It is the memory of the meat. Four billion years of memory telling you to be a mammal. (274)

Our bodies are like a multitude of fairy lands that all agreed to become you. (275)

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favorites from The San Francisco Poets

THE WHEEL REVOLVES by Kenneth Rexroth

You were a girl of satin and gauze
Now you are my mountain and waterfall companion.
Long ago I read those lines of Po Chu I
Written in his middle age.
Young as I was they touched me.
I never thought in my own middle age
I would have a beautiful young dancer
To wander with me by falling crystal waters,
Among mountains of snow and granite,
Least of all that unlike Po’s girl
She would be my very daughter.

The earth turns towards the sun.
Summer comes to the mountains.
Blue grouse drum in the red fir woods
All the bright long days.
You put blue jay and flicker feathers
In your hair.
Two and two violet green swallows
Play over the lake.
The blue birds have come back
To nest on the little island.
The swallows sip water on the wing
And play at love and dodge and swoop
Just like the swallows that swirl
Under and over the Ponte Vecchio.
Light rain crosses the lake
Hissing faintly. After the rain
There are giant puffballs with tortoise shell backs
At the edge of the meadow.
Snows of a thousand winters
Melt in the sun of one summer.
Wild cyclamen bloom by the stream.
Trout veer in the transparent current.
In the evening marmots bark in the rocks.
The Scorpion curls over the glimmering ice field.
A white crowned night sparrow sings as the moon sets.
Thunder growls far off.
Our campfire is a single light
Amongst a hundred peaks and waterfalls.
The manifold voices of falling water
Talk all night.
Wrapped in your down bag
Starlight on your cheeks and eyelids
Your breath comes and goes
In a tiny cloud in the frosty night.
Ten thousand birds sing in the sunrise.
Ten thousand years revolve without change.
All this will never be again.


THESE ARE THE RAVENS by William Everson

These are the ravens of my soul,
Sloping above the lonely fields
And cawing, cawing.
I have released them now,
And sent them wavering down the sky,
Learning the slow witchery of the wind,
And crying on the farthest fences of the world.


from “HERMIT POEMS” by Lew Welch

Not yet 40, my beard is already white.
Not yet awake, my eyes are puffy and red,
like a child who has cried too much.

What is more disagreeable
than last night’s wine?

I’ll shave.
I’ll stick my head in the cold spring and
look around at the pebbles.
Maybe I can eat a can of peaches.

Then I can finish the rest of the wine,
write poems till I’m drunk again,
and when the afternoon breeze comes up

I’ll sleep until I see the moon
and the dark trees
and the nibbling deer

and hear
the quarreling coons.

* * *

The image, as in a Hexagram:

The hermit locks his door against the blizzard.
He keeps the cabin warm.

All winter long he sorts out all he has.
What was well started shall be finished.
What was not, should be thrown away.

In spring he emerges with one garment
and a single book.

The cabin is very clean.

Except for that, you’d never guess
anyone lived there.


DONNER PARTY by Richard Brautigan

Forsaken, fucking in the cold,
eating each other, lost, runny noses,
complaining all the time like so
many people that we know.

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military-industrial sunrise

dawn lifts me from sleep
like a cloud over the mountaintop—
precious cargo of my dreams
fleeing, leaving me
in the vast desert of consciousness.

microscopic ignitions inside my skull,
like cans of pop being opened,
go off every few seconds—
volcanic eruptions on the synaptic scale.

i sit up dazed at the foot of a monolithic tree
decorated w neon green moss,
rising to heaven—ageless tower,
incomprehensible babble.

oh! that these lines be not so complex,
that you hear the sound of my simple mind waking,
reaching, stretching, hoping, aching,
and from your own bed see the same sky breaking.

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seven lines

what truth can possibly be expressed
on a white page
in blue ink
under red light
against the mountainside
beneath dark skies
with only seven lines?

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i believe (2015)

i believe in the radiant sunset
and its sister—

i believe in the salt flats,
stretching for miles and miles,

i believe in Love,
blowing everywhere around the world
like the wind.

i believe in the highway
because it’s the fastest way to go.

i believe in the now,
the fast-dashing rabbit you may glimpse
here and there.

i believe in rhythm.
i do believe,
i believe in rhythm.

i believe i began writing this
before knowing a single thing
i believed.

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