Blue With Blue


When kids are dying, lilacs
heavy, and wet grass
soft to keep them,
their backs soak up the hidden snow.
Sure they grow.

And they share the blood.
They can’t leave the sky,
though city grief is all they can believe.
Dazed above their heads,
the leaves are chrome: society.

Then between the apples and the apples
they see home,
the blue trees of their homeland.
Her hands hold all they ever wanted, the pain
of a beloved calm that once drew

every shirt from every town; and so
they go, wound
with wound, grain with grain
in the whirring afternoon, into
the blue with blue.

Benjamin Saltman

We are in San Francisco to celebrate our 16th anniversary and to do some Red Hen meetings.   We always have a lot of work in the Bay Area, but we manage to have a good time.  It was over 100 degrees much of the drive up here and smoky from the fires, but when you hit the 580 and swing past the Livermore Lab producing more nuclear weapons than pretty much anywhere except possible Los Alamos, the air is cool and refreshing.  I’ve been coming to Berkeley since 1988, and have been staying at the French Hotel, now the SenS, always kind of fun because of the amazing coffee shop.

And now to  the SenS Hotel in Berkeley, I say goodbye.  Mark and I have stayed here a couple times a year on Red Hen business and visiting our daughter and Mark’s brother for more than twenty years, but I think this is our last time.  The rooms are bad, the beds are uncomfortable, and even the amazing coffee doesn’t make it worthwhile.  We will find another Berkeley hotel to work from as we do book business up here.  I’ll come by the coffee shop again for old times sake.  Ben Saltman introduced me to this hotel.  What he used to tell me was that life is very big.

Published in: on July 27, 2016 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Walking late at night.

Last night at 11 pm I went for a late night walk.  I heard turkeys and opossums.  I was wondering about skunks.  In Nebraska, you can buy a skunk of your own for $400. Even an albino skunk which would be excellent.


When the kids were growing up, we spent lots of time scouring the Los Angeles Adoption sites and finding pets we could adopt and then figure out how to sneak them into the house hoping Mark wouldn’t notice them at first and then would miraculously become attached to them.


We brought in geese, ducks, rabbits and dwarf rabbits.  There was a turken who got killed by a dog, a rat that was eaten by a snake, another rabbit who attempted to inseminate a chicken, unsuccessfully I might add, that rabbit took Easter far too seriously, two gay ring necked doves who killed any females but spent hours bowing and cooing to each other, we named them Bruce and Bruce.  There was an iguana who escaped and roamed the yard for months and was captured far up a palm tree on Easter.  There was a rabbit who was dug up by our dog Chucho on Easter and the kids claimed to see him alive running about the field.  You can see how Easter was important at our house.


We had these great egg hunts and when the kids were teenagers, they kept painting eggs for smaller kids while drinking Mikes and still wanted a basket.  ‘Isn’t it fair to say that if you’re old enough to drink alcohol while painting eggs that you’re too old to need a basket?”  The kids disagreed.


We’re trying to downsize the pets now.  We now have, last time I counted, at our house:

3 dogs

5 cats

3 finches

13 parakeets

16 chickens


40 creatures.


We are leaving for San Francisco on Wednesday.  We will need a house sitter. We always need a house sitter. Tonight when I walk through the dark, I will look for snakes.




Published in: on July 23, 2016 at 8:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Switching to Plan B

In Germany, I got lost in a Jewish graveyard.  The plan had been to enter one large gate and exit the other gate nearest to my hotel, a mere fifteen minute walk.


I was carrying my takeout food because in Germany, I buy fruit at the Arab markets and my dinner at the Arab restaurants which is why I think the Syrians moving into Germany is going to be terrific because there will be more Arab markets, more Syrian restaurants and hopefully Lebanese food, Afghani food and then, as in Berlin, London, and Paris, you can feel the global culture and appreciate people from everywhere.


America has always had immigration, but for European countries, the idea of immigration is a bit scary.  Indian food in London is amazing. The place I eat mostly in London is Lebanese, and when someone is visiting who has fancy money, we go Indian.


In Germany, at the Jewish graveyard, I got lost and wandered around getting the story of the Jews in Frankfurt.  Getting lost is a good thing.  You get to move from Plan A to Plan B.


Plan A is to fight the Graboid Monsters in Tremors.


Plan B is not watching the movie.  Plan B is doing anything but watching the Graboids in Tremors which is currently playing in my hotel room.

Published in: on July 21, 2016 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Nebraska is warm and smells of corn and plants.


If I were here, I would grow tomatoes and eggplant.

At home, our garden is quite overgrown.

When I grew up, we always weeded the garden.  Now I don’t need to weed, so I mostly don’t.

If I ever visit Nebraska, and I’m not reading, writing, thinking, I won’t know what to do.

There is a bridge across a small river.

Beneath the bridge, there are trolls.  Those trolls rattle the bridge at night, but we have a flashlight and we spy on them.  We see turkeys, rabbits, but we do not see the trolls.  Trolls are generally sly and slimy.  The slime is green.  I know this because I dated a troll once.  For a couple weeks.  I kept tried kissing him to turn him into a man and it kept not working and I had the slime to deal with.  That’s why I’m glad I’m not dating any more.  One tires of slime.

But not of reading. Writing. Thinking. Walking quickly across the bridge. Escaping trolls.

Published in: on July 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tonight is a full moon.

Tonight is a full moon and I just met with Pope Brock about his moon book which Red Hen is publishing.  The moon book dives in and out of moon dreams and money on the moon, imaginary money of course.  When Americans think of a country, a place, an island, a person, what we think about right away is how to monetize it.  Think about the word “monetize,” which is a favorite word in the 21st century.  It’s something you should be able to do to whatever: Your kitchen, your photographs, the clothes in your closet, your extra furniture, your creative energy, your back yard, your car could be an Uber car or a Lyft car.  Your extra room could be an Airbnb.


If you don’t care about money, enjoy your life.  Enjoy your no money, enjoy your dreams, your writing, your art, enjoy beauty, enjoy walks in the moonlight. download

Published in: on July 19, 2016 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Walking in a thunderstorm

Today after workshop, I swam a mile and after that, I could see that there was a terrific downpour like the whole sky emptying onto the earth, like Amy Hassinger’s reading last night which was about a downpour that fell onto the mushroom families with the crenulated undersides which makes you think of the undersides of things and the undersides of families and the undersides of people and even the undersides of countries which are collections of people and in the case of the U.S., our underside is, apparently, very dark with racism and a singular willingness to “other’ people belonging to groups not our own and make decisions about us and about them, us usually being vastly superior to them and us deserving to have guns while they do not, and us deserving money, happiness and all good things, and they, well, did they earn it?  Are they coming across the border illegally? Do they believe in God?

I walked through the downpour until every part of me was dripping, my entire dress dripping onto the bridge and the path.  I took off my shoes and walked in the grass.  The thunderstorm was all around me, cracking of lightning.  I wasn’t sure whether I was safer in or out of the trees. I know what to do in earthquakes or how to hop out of the way when a tumbleweed rolls toward you. I don’t know where to stand in a lightning storm.

A lightning storm creates electricity. Electricity causes energy.

Like candy. At the program here, they give out peppermint patties, which I’m very fond of.

Thick green peppermint light sliced by lightning.  Lightning changes the world.

The world is changing.  I

The Dalai Lama says:

We all have to live together, so we might as well live together happily.

I want to end with the Dalai Lama, but I also want to say that the rain built a new block of green thought in my head which might turn into a story.

In the story I’m writing about myself, I forgive anyone who has wronged me and I absolutely hope to be forgiven myself.  I have worked very hard over the last year to search my soul to find all the ways that I need to change my thinking, and then yes, I am working on the cathedral of my own soul and understanding that I must change my life.

Published in: on July 18, 2016 at 11:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Two nights till the full moon

We walked into the moon again tonight.

Later we got bitten by mosquitoes on the terrace while we drank Karen’s white wine.

Winter may be coming in Winterfell, but here summer is thick with heat and moisture.

The full moon is coming and we will be out in it.

Moon bathing.

Published in: on July 17, 2016 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tropical language

When I went to Colombia, people got in lines everywhere I got up to speak to have their picture taken with me.


I have a picture from that trip which is still on my iPhone of the mayor of Monteria taking his picture with me.  He is wearing a pink shirt.


The children are having their pictures taken with me. In the background, there are farm animals.

At the airport, I sign the form saying I have not seen any farm animals.


In people’s houses, the floors are dark wood and the kitchen is a fire in the back room and a table.


In other people’s houses, the floor is concrete and children sleep on the floor on mats.


In other people’s houses, the floor is dirt and everyone sleeps on hammocks inside when it rains, outside when it’s not raining. Under trees when it’s sort of raining.


Most of the children have no shoes. As a child we sang, All God’s children get new shoes to wear. Are these not God’s children?


I am here in Nebraska, and I remember going to Colombia, and I remember the tropical feeling there, and the way the women around the green pool you could not swim in cut the cocaine.


In Nebraska, I think it is mostly meth.


Here at Residency, it is mostly beer. Because Nebraska has a lot of corn and people sleep in beds and the longing is for more dreams. If I lived in Nebraska, I would grow sunflowers.


But, I live in California, and I have a hammock, but I don’t need to sleep in it.  I sleep indoors.


If I were in Colombia, just like I did before, I would say good night to the women cutting the cocaine by the green pool.  When the people lined up to take a picture with me, I would smile in ever picture.  I would stand up straight. When they said, You look so American, I would smile and try not to show my teeth.

Published in: on July 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

We walked toward the moon.

We walked out toward the moon in the late evening air. There had been tequila for some, vodka for others.  We had dinner in the bar.  We drank on the terrace.  We listened to readings, then we walked into the moon.  I could feel it floating toward us, as we walked over the bridge.  Teri sang a wedding song in the smooth as silk air.


It’s all writing and reading and talking about writing.  We’re into story and dream here.

What I like in Nebraska: The writing, the story, the great friends, the walks through the orchard, swimming.


What I miss: Mark, Tobi, sushi, the dogs.


We miss the people we are, the places we inhabit.


When we wanted to be young, we were young.

When we wanted to be blond, we were blond.

When we wanted to be smart, we were smart.

When we wanted to have fun, fun was all around us.

This is the big life.  This. Right now. The dream.

Published in: on July 16, 2016 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Black Lives Matter. America must wake up and change.

Great week.

And the wind blowing the heat back.

Deena Metzger lunch with some sushi that melted me. And the seaweed salad.

Then Mark and I drove to San Clemente to spend the night with Maurya Simon and her husband.

The heat blew in off the ocean.

We ate fish and waves broke under us crackling the pier.

And you?

You can’t come to the place where the sky meets the water without feeling the wet lively feeling of being that near the ocean.

And then home.

The plumbing.

The trees.

And we have too many chickens.

I am trying to find a home for some of them.

Some people want to eat them. My red hens!

Lordy lordy, what is the world coming to?

Tomorrow Portland, then Seattle, then Nebraska.

There are never too many trees or too much beach or too many waves or too many clouds.

And the world is large enough.

Right now there is too much violence in this country.

Black Lives matter.  Black lives must matter to all of us.

Published in: on July 12, 2016 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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