Saturday, November 14, 2009


When I lived on Rhode Island Street in San Francisco, I ended up with two cats. The black Burmese whined constantly, which was very annoying, and yet when she died I was more distressed by her death than by the death of my other cat Cirrus. Here is that annoying Sweet Pea Hecate Isis Marie, peeking in.

Cirrus Psylocybin, when I brought out the camera, always began to strike poses, like a Vogue model, and in this case knew that she would reveal how brilliant she was by sitting on the Collected Verses of Wallace Stevens.

Responding to a False News Bulletin in San Francisco
on Saturday Night, October 18, 1980

A cloud of radiation is floating over from China tonight.
The Wise Virgins’ Suite I am playing may be my last tape.
Skipping the fact that tomorrow night I may be puking out
my intestines like a string of sausages, I carry on. Give us
this day our daily death. A stack of quarters rests on zebra’d
wood: the coins belong to empire, but I sanded and stained
and polished the wood on that table and brought out the grain.

My cats purr. Recorded strings reanimate the row of human
arms that sawed them once so gently, while recording.
The cloud of radiation from China – Will it arrive in the shape
of a dragon? A cat rumbles at my shoulder. The one at my side
leaps away, chasing nothing, it seems – no mouse. A moth!
She leaps in the air, a flight of my black cat Sweet Pea Hecate
Isis Marie – or, for daily communication, simply Sweet Pea.
She’s at my foot, enticing me to drag my toe along her spine.

Will I be scratching the cat’s back when the heavens scour
us out? Sweet Pea chases out Cirrus, the cat at my ear:
replaces her mother behind my head, eager to be a pillow
for the dead. Dead cat. Dead cat. Dead killer. Sitting in
my electric chair, will I have crazy cats in my hair? a fur
fire cap? my brains a blaze? A terrible unknowing comes
toward us, cats. It is forgetting us hour by hour, and nothing
of us will be here in the dawn – so let’s trail away
and along the wind – smoke-cats, man-moth blasted.
James McColley Eilers, copyright 2009

MORE THINGS UNEARTHED FROM STORAGE. For its significance, you must know that it is from a period when the San Francisco State Strike of 1968-69 had come to an end. Many were uneasy about ending the strike and returning to work, fearful that Strike demands would not be met. Following the poster is a verse I wrote at the time:

At that time, Beverly Dahlen included this in our AFT #1928 newsletter:

In 1969, Ending the San Francisco State Strike

Anger, tears, and resentment fill the hot, smoky room

where the teachers deliberate: Shall we end the Strike?

In the distance the firecrackers of the Chinese New Year:

a snorting sound. I dream of a great blue dragon

twisting through the empty streets, tearing aside the veils

of rain. It approaches this room, hot with betrayal,

thick with regret, “Whatever may influence our decision – “

With the possibility of violence ever present – Boom!

a firecracker lands outside. Tension breaks into laughter.

Like a room full of frantic mice our Magic Markers

dance and squeak as Local 1928 rectifies its picket

signs, and races back to the picket line. The teachers

return to abandoned classrooms, ponder the future

in deserted offices, and repeat their rosary of intangibles.

Those still out walking the line hope to free themselves

from their elders’ dreaming. Roger Alvarado says that

enough bites from enough fleas can make the dog get up

and move. If now we too must return, break momentum,

we tell ourselves, it is but to loose our frightful mice

on the haunted rooms where ghosts are lecturing ghosts,

and hope we will not become ghosts ourselves: We are

determined to be forever biting the Dog of State.

[Printed, AFT Local 1928 Weekly News, Vol. I, No. 5, Mar. 7, 1969]

Another rediscovery -- the poetry reading at Glide Memorial with an amazing collection of poets, to raise funds for the strike:

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