Sunday, December 26, 2010

Women Muralists in 1980

I want to share with the muralists at Precita Eyes in the Mission these images from 1980.  Click on the subject line above "Women Muralists in 1980" to see a brief slide show of images women artists painted on the side of the Galleria de la Raza in 1980.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Veterans For Peace

Photographers captured the passion of the die-in staged by Veterans For Peace/Veterans Against War at the U.S. Federal Building in San Francisco on Thursday, 16 December 2010, the bodies of veterans and their supporters blocking doorways.  On the milder side, for a few photos of people, and a review of the wonderful signs at the preliminary demonstration, click on the title above "Veterans For Peace."
In Washington, D.C. (as reported on the Democracy Now website), "an estimated 135 people were arrested outside the White House in an antiwar protest led by the group Veterans for Peace. The protesters were detained after chaining themselves to the White House fence. Iraq War veteran Mike Prysner urged continued civil disobedience to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mike Prysner: "They’re not going to end the wars. And they’re not going to do it because it’s not our government. It’s their government. It’s the government of the rich. It’s the government of Wall Street, of the oil giants, of the defense contractors. It’s their government. And the only language that they understand is shutting down business as usual. And that’s what we’re doing here today, and we’re going to continue to do until these wars are over. We’re going to fight until there’s not one more bomb dropped, not one more bullet fired, not one more soldier coming home in a wheelchair, not one more family slaughtered, not one more day of U.S. imperialism."
"Among those arrested were the Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I joined some friends -- and strangers with signs -- outside the S.F. Federal Building on Seventh Street, San Francisco, waiting to see if the U.S. House would follow the U.S. Senate's approving of giving tax breaks to the rich.  A Homeland Security man found some way to scold us, but we were grateful then to have his vehicle to hold up one of the signs:

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Happy Autumn

December 2010

Happy Autumn: Anthem for an Altar to the Seeming Dead

This year the falling of leaves is a celebration –
swatches in burgundy, amber, umber, yellow,
scarlet – the warm colors of antique tapestries.
These leaf shapes, everyday and ancient, are each
a vowel or word in the deeper text we live.

In this happy time, Sherrill, Michael, the two
Roberts, and the one Bobby – my beloved dead
never truly departed – hunger for reviving speech.
The falling leaves are not notes from the dead.
The only language we share now is in a place
beyond sadness where bright leaves laugh.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Random Thoughts, and Pictures from the Oakland Museum

While too much energy is being absorbed by the issues of establishing civil rights for gay men and lesbians in regard to marriage and service in the military, it may be fully warranted by the positive effect this "distraction" would have on all those more life-threatening issues, by causing one more change in those rigid, strangling defintions that are nonsense venerated only because they are ancient. Any clear mind would see through these unquestioned habits of thought. Even those who mouth those prejudices stumble in trying to make the irrational sound rational. If the state really lived by their definitions of heterosexual marriage, most heterosexual marriages would be declared illegal. According to their definition, men and women only marry to propagate the herd, not for any feelings of intellectual rapport or emotional attachment.

In a negative form of the Golden Rule -- the more common Leaden Rule -- they did Saddam Hussein as he would have done. He understood death by hanging, having known the world as cruel form his birth. The U.S. showed him nothing new while they pretended to be different from him. And via film, the population was able to gather at his gallows as a sick entertainment. Where vengeance rules, the most heinous villain begins to seem pathetic; his conquerors, seem, in their own right (wrong), butchers of the butcher. As my old college mentor used to say in farewell greeting: "Onward and downward."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Film, "127 Hours," and the book, "The Fall of the US Empire -- And Then What?"

On this New Moon evening...

December 2010

Those involved with the film, “127 Hours (director, Danny Boyle),” must surely receive the honors they deserve. (James Franco was finally given a great and demanding role, and I suppose he was selected as co-host of the next Academy Awards in anticipation of a Best Actor nomination.) The film is a perfect mate to the recent film “Into the Wild (director, Sean Penn),” that many of us felt should have received that year’s Best Picture Oscar.
While meaningful in its own terms (enduring and surviving the most dire circumstances – a portrayal of the incident when hiker Aaron Ralston, his arm pinned down by a fallen boulder, had no choice finally but to cut off his own arm), the film takes on other meanings, some of them epic.
The biographical characters in both “127 Hours” and “Into the Wild,” one surviving, one dying, mature and arrive at the same insight, expressed in their own words, that the “individualism” that is part of the U.S. “faith” is a dead end delusion: Humans survive and thrive because of a blessed interdependence.
Seeing “127 Hours,” while reading Johan Galtung’s “The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?,” the film became another in the thousands of current phenomena seen, from Galtung’s analysis, as symptoms of the death (we hope) of the American Empire. Aaron’s rash, self-absorbed behavior mirrors the current American collective myth.
While respecting Mr. Galtung’s copyright, which forbids me quoting him at length, I have to believe he would not mind my quoting his Dedication:
“To a country I love, the United States of America: You will swim so much better without that imperial albatross around your neck. Drown it before it drowns you, and let a thousand flowers blossom!”
I hope everyone will read his book – I have not reached the “And Then What?” portion of the book yet, but from what I have read so far I recognize what many know about our current U.S.A., that as the central “faith” of U.S.-as-Empire dies, those on the periphery, losing touch with that foundering center, begin to form coalitions with the others on the periphery in what might possibly be outposts for the possible post-Empire U.S. – The U.S. as a republic, for Mr. Galtung spells out the convincing facts that the U.S. position on the earth is already that of the latest dying empire, with all the conditions of previous dead empires.
Many of us know that the best comes from extragovernmental people-to-people responses to human needs. (I think of organizations like that of friend Gregg Biggs’s World Neighbors – organizations that help the underdeveloped set up microeconomies, etc.)
After the recent election, which seemed to fragment both the political right and the political left, leaving rational and compassionate people with no national leadership, I suggested to Dan Beam in the Crossroads Café that the pockets of progressive compassion and rational planning that exist in many separate places across the “red” and “blue” states might feel less helpless and hopeless (confronted by a bizarre electorate, and feeling under assault) if they reached out to each other and formed a bond and, perhaps, a common vision.
Those at the table came up with various progressive sanctuaries, naming “Austin,” “Boulder,” and probably most university towns. Dan suggested that such a concord of disparate “colonies” be called an archipelago (“a chain or cluster of islands”). For me it would be the Archipelago of Earthumans. A way to feel human solidarity.
I immediately fear that any such construct would become static and moribund in its own way, torn apart by inner dissensions, like all other constructs so I thought the first principle of that archipelago should be a frequent reminder, from Groucho Marx: “I would never belong to any group that would be willing to have me as a member.”
I might hope, however, that with religion being an automatic source of conflict that religious talk be carried on outside, and that those in the archipelago would limit its ethical code to the Golden Rule, an easy touchstone that conveys empathy, compassion, equality, fairness.
The intent is only to imagine or begin to create the post-Empire republic, or to begin to think in non-Empire terms, pan-human terms.
I thought I would ask people to add to the comments on this blog their own list of possible “islands” in the “archipelago,” understanding that sometimes that would be only part of a city, and keeping in mind that any individual in any obscure place in the US who looks forward to an end to Empire-thinking should not be excluded from such an archipelago.
Your sites for such an archipelgo in the Comment sections, please, and then perhaps following this fantasy notion, maybe someone would actually begin to form those links.
Mr. Galtung has been interviewed on several of Amy Goodman’s Democracy now programs, if you go to and search for "Johan Galtung"
or possibly paste this in your search engine:

Friday, November 26, 2010

24 November 2010 in San Francisco

[For slide show, click on "24 November 2010 in San Francisco" above.]
My friend Jim Breeden has returned to his artwork in spite of working as a tour guide and historian on Alcatraz, and planning other activities connected with his love of good dining. He used to work for Stacey's Books, and often made large sketches appropriate for books being featured, and the sketches were then displayed in Stacey's windows. The original intent of this blog entry was to show you some of those large sketches that Jim unrolled and showed me, but I had failed to set the camera right, the light was dim, the drawings were on vellum, etc. So, in the slide show that you can see if you tap the title of this entry, there is only a hint of how these sketches look (the one of the Mona Lisa not included).
But then Jim took me to see a relatively new wonder that I did not know about -- the very long and beautiful executed mosaic stairway at the end of Moraga Street (going uphill from 19th Avenue). Then, at the top of those long stairs is a massive wall and beyond it, wooden stairs leading to the top of one of San Francisco's 21 hills - I don't know the name of this one (Martha Hubert has suggested that it may be Turtle Hill). Here again, it was impossible to get suitable photographs of the steps as it was almost the end of the day, the light almost gone. I hope to go back some time to get better photographs.
The names of those who donated for the creation of the stairway are intimately portrayed among the mosaics, unlike most donor recognition plaques, all personalized in a way to convey the nature of the donor, and among the names is that of Jim's deceased beloved, Jeff, as shown among the slides, with Jeff's favorite flowers, daisies, close by in the mosaic.

As you go up the stairs, the view toward the ocean and around is very expansive. I include a photo taken while still on the mosaic steps.

We arrived at the top of the hill so late that we decided we might as well watch the sunset.
To REALLY see Jim's work, he is among those listed at the right on my blog page, "James Breeden":

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Out of the Old Boxes: The First Out

Opening the old storage boxes (too common a theme these days), after the move, forced by fire, there are all these...what are they? Cartoons? Drawings? They are flimsy and will not last long, but before the next apartment fire and flood, or the next earthquake, perhaps little by little I will scan them -- but might as well play with them in Photoshop as well. These two are, I guess, what you would call constructions, like so many of the pieces from decades ago. But if you click on the title above, "Out of the Old Boxes...," you may survey, if you like, a first batch from the old boxes....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preaching to Myself: Gods and Tyrants


I doubt if the meaning of these words will be foreign to any who may happen to read them.

How many humans on earth-2010 (including many who feel they are free) live under a self-created tyranny? It is well that most (all?) have a companion voice in their brains that they converse with – Such a voice provides a companion even in solitude: We talk to ourselves.

But this voice may have worked its way out of control of an earlier voice that gave us rules to follow. Someone implants a helpful warning in a child’s brain: “Don’t put your hand on heated metal, or you will receive a terrible burn.” “Don’t try to outrun a red light or you and others may be killed.”

I guess most would call this the superego – a sort of parent authority instilled to watch over and direct the fledgling ego. When that voice can be integrated into our final, companion voice, the moral terms “wrong” and “right,” used to imprint danger signs, can be moderated for the adult and become the less medieval terms, “toxic” and “tonic,” where one will generally want to avoid the toxic and gravitate toward the tonic.

Our companion voice is formed partly by learning, partly by personal experience. But finally we can live well only with our personally earned voice, not with an inherited voice that we may allow to possess us. We have to make or find our own voice – As we civilize and socialize that voice, it civilizes and socializes us.

How many have not achieved this self-governance? How many even realize it is a process they must undertake? The simple rules of the superego will not be sufficient as we grow and learn and are faced with ethical choices in ambiguous circumstances. That childish superego cannot be trusted even if it presents itself as infallible, in possession of final "truths." And there is the dangerous circumstance where that superego lives on longer than it should, and thrives, by dressing itself in other static rules learned along the way, taught in a family or a culture: The parents and other elders pass along warnings they have picked up from outside forces – political and religious, passed down from their own parents, or part of the general notions of the group into which they are born. A child may be taught and live by notions never tested by their own parents who have impressed those notions as law. The teachings may be imparted in a way that is not really teaching as it trains a person to avoid questioning: “This has always been so, and so you must accept it too.” Or, “we have always known that those are bad people. They have always been our enemies, and so now they are your enemies too. We don’t remember why, but it is by taking customary attitudes like this on faith that we survive. Fail to follow this and you will not survive, or you will even become an enemy yourself.”

So those thoughtless opinions, posing as thought, have a place where they can gather and adhere – a certain mountain, a collective projection of a prolonged infantile superego called God, a being of ambiguous nature and mind-crippling contradictions so that it can slip into and be confused with passing shadow superegos, temporal deities of a poisonous sort – a Hitler or a Stalin or a Jim Jones; or, more fortuitous, of a spiritual nature – a Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King; or of a political nature, like Marx or Malcolm X.

The draw of the superego authority may be very dangerous, a state of infatuation that must be reasoned with, questioned, and changed, or discarded, in your self-made psychic universe.

The mentally disturbed often complain of a voice or voices in their heads, voices that are controlling them – perhaps a too-acute awareness of the unwanted, unearned, implanted voices brought over from priests, preachers, politicians, teachers, and demagogues.

Ultimately, if we awaken to its presence, we all need that companion voice that reminds us what we have learned from past experience or drawn from sources we trust, that must not be passive knowledge, but processed and made our own by throwing out what strikes our innate bullshit detectors as poisonous or dead. This companion voice may be tutored and made our own, converted from the ever-hovering parent of superego into our peer, our ideal guest and companion (the mirror of self-reflection) that makes it easy to be at home with ourselves.

How to safely replace the tyrant with a permanent guest, the true self. How to recognize the tyrants. How long does it take to convert an externally determined superego into an internally established guardian and companion? For this, I might wish -- and this is the whole notion behind this little essay -- that it would be common social convention that in late adolescence, all humans would be advised: Now question everything you have ever been taught, even by those you love and respect. If something really feels right or true, it will survive, you will keep it. With the establishment of this habit of questioning, later reappraisal may change your assessment of what you have set aside.

Going along with such a convention would have to be exposure to the world outside the world where you have been taught, exposure to other learning, and there is also that custom practiced in some countries where a youth is expected to do as much as a year of wandering, thereby assuring that experience is not insular. Urged to keep an open mind, whatever does not survive true, personal examination may be tossed, or set aside as suspicious. In this way, real thinking – that is questioning – will have been established – the only inoculation against a tyranny against thought.

A related matter: Whether you understand this metaphorically, or literally, the God you worship creates you. Best to recognize a person's God from their character and behavior, that may reveal that they worship a murderous, vicious God, rather than by what they mouth in words from of a particular religion that may, at times, preach kindness.

Drop the heavies: One may free oneself from the worship of those ancient volcanic and (as they readily admit, vindictive and "jealous") presences and be like a friend of mine who recognizes that his “gods” are Art and Gourmet Food.

All pause here to identify your particular gods – and whether they are tonic or toxic – whether they have a benevolent influence, or seek to enslave you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jim's YouTube Entries

Now the "Links to Friends" Site at the lower right on my Blog Page will have a link to "Also, Jim's YouTube Entries" - A first video will appear, and in the upper right by the name "Elefancy" is a way to go to the rest of the videos. I am looking forward to adding to more than what is there now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Yin and Yang of Meditation

"The Yin and Yang of Meditation" -- in the hopes that it will actually prompt me to meditate!

Friday, November 05, 2010

A Rhyme for Current Events

While homosexuality was not the only issue in the recent elections, I sent this as a letter to the editor of a newspaper:


Is my little life the cinder in the Eagle’s eye?
the stone in Democracy’s shoe?
My modest days the terror in a collective mind?
Me, the mildest creature in their zoo?

Have I the power (arthritis and eczema aside)
to crumble the state (I guess I better not scratch).
Because of me, husband and wife lose their home?
I’m the cause when they question if they match?

I wish I had answers for my questions?
Then I might live at last free of fear
that someone looking at me will see their monster,
with finny spine and embers for its eyes – a queer.

– James McColley Eilers, November 5, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

Publication of a Nelly Leonie Sachs Translation

The website InTranslation has published another of my translations, a verse by German Jewish poet, Nelly Leonie Sachs:

As they had requested, I created a bio of her to go along with the verse, but have since come across a more detailed, and devastating, bio on Wikipedia:

I include the original German below -- the InTranslation site never seems interested in publishing the original -- if anyone wants to see how I distorted the original: I thought I could convey the metaphor of pupa-to-butterfly without directly using those words.

Since writing that bio, I have found out that when Sachs died of cancer on May 12, 1970, it was only a few days after her long-time correspondent, Paul Celan, committed suicide in Paris, and there is this eloquent remark she had written to Celan from her exile in Stockholm: "Between Paris and Stockholm is the meridian of pain and solace."

I did not realize I had chosen a verse and provided a title and last line that seem to echo her words when she received the 1965 Peace Prize of German Publishers: "Let us remember the victims and then let us walk together into the future to seek again a new beginning."

“Bereit sind alle Länder aufzustehen”

[“Ready are all lands to stand up”]

by Nellie Sachs

Bereit sind alle Länder aufzustehen

von der Landkarte.

Abzuschutteln ihre Sternenhaut

die blauen Bundel ihrer Meere

auf dem Rucken zu knupfen

ihre Berge mit den Feuerwurzeln

als Mutzen auf die rauchenden Haare zu setzen.

Bereit das letzte Schwermutgewicht

im Koffer zu tragen, diese Schmetterlingspuppe,

auf deren Flugel sie die Reise einmal

beenden werden.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Torn Paper Tribute to John Lennon

“All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.”

“All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance. “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.” “All we are saying…is Give Peace a Chance.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Celebrate and Liberate Bradley Manning

By now you have probably seen the film that Army Intelligence Analyst, PFC Bradley Manning, being a human with a conscience, is said to have brought to the attention of the world. As he is in the hands of the military, he will definitely need help from as many Americans as possible to see that he is freed and honored as someone who respects the law and human compassion. If you have not seen what he reacted to...Click on title above "Celebrate and Liberate Bradley Manning" or go to

As usual, at the demonstration and march for Bradley Manning in San Francisco on Saturday, 18 September 2010, earnest patriots, Daniel Ellsburg and Lt. Colonel Ann Wright, were on hand to urge the public to take action:

I like the sign made by Renay Davis, standing by Martha Hubert:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oakland Gay Pride Day, September 2010

Click on "Oakland Gay Pride Day, September 2010, above for a glimpse of a wonderful party.
What a great event! Singing, dancing, people digging each other with Oakland's usual complete diversity of people. Several stages, each scheduled hour by hour with various entertainers. In this slide show, I have concentrated only on two of them, one of them being Martha Walsh (famous for "It's Rainin' Men") -- I believe she used to be half of the Two Tons of Fun, the back-up singers for "Disco Diva," Sylvester. The day ended with a final concert that was Chaka Khan. I danced and danced....

Friday, September 03, 2010

Mother as Jungle Gym

To see how Edu (Eduardo) uses his mother Dana as a jungle gym, click on title above: Mother as Jungle Gym.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Newgrange Megalithic Tri-Spirals -- in 1982!

Recently tracing the forms on the Newgrange Megalithic Tri-Spirals, I recalled being bewitched by them before and found...

a few of the pieces I created back in 1982. I drew a more basic impression of the spirals, infected by the rhythm of the spirals, that seemed so natural.
Then I reversed and superimposed the figure to generate many other figures (Click on title above, "Newgrante Megalithic Tri-Spirals -- in 1982!" to see a few of those figures -- It got extreme!)

Great Great...Etc....Grandmother Ardy

To hang on your wall, along with pictures of your other relatives, I have made a collage of images from the latest National Geographic, including the skull and hand bones of a female of the oldest hominid skeleton, nicknamed "Ardy" for Ardipithecus Ramidus. To the left is their idea of how her male counterpart may have looked. I think Great Great...etc....Grandmother Ardy is so damned cute!

And I love Granny Ardy's prehensile feet!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Premiere of the film HOWL, with James Franco

By the oddest happenstance, I happened to see the premiere of HOWL on 27 June, the final film shown at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival of 2010.
(Click on the title above if you want to see a slide show of James Franco and others -- I seldom use flash so these are dim photos, while my friend Fred came away with some very professional photos, I am sure -- Franco even consciously looked toward his camera to provide him with a good shot.

Anyone who lived in those days of repression/suppression in the 1950s can well relate to a man who is driven to HOOOOWWWWL.
Has there ever been a movie dedicated to a verse! There was an excellent series of ten programs on ten different poets on PBS, called VOICES AND VISION, and this is a great addition to those, and a full-fledged movie. This film is constructed in a very unsual way -- an homage to a poem and to poetry, a portrait of the poet who wrote it, and an account of the trial where freedom of expression was assaulted as Lawrence Ferlinghetti was charged with obscenity for having published HOWL at his City Lights Press. (Better to see it, and be surprised by its structure, when it opens in September than to have me describe it.)

While the U.S.A. was in the grips of the McCarthy era -- when the seeds were being planted for the Right Wing dimming of consciousness that has spread across the country -- San Francisco was a quiet oasis, a haven for the gay and the brilliant not wanted in the rest of America. Everyone who comes to San Francisco experiences a time that is then buried and remembered fondly, boring new immigrants with accounts of a previous layer of time. The media discovered San Francisco, and the city was transformed into a later character.

In those remarkable days, there was an annual contest for the best poem written in the city -- Just imagine that -- that level of civilization. HOWL won, but perhaps not many people know that our outgoing San Francisco poet laureate, Jack Hirschman, was runner-up with a wonderful poem that would certainly have won if it had not arrived in the same year as that boiling fountain that erupted from Ginsburg in his epic HOWL.

I was fortunate that my English mentor at Indiana University brought Jack to that campus for a semester soon after that, and we could be inspired by his great energy (New York Russian Jewish energy). He read Yeats' "Lapis Lazuli" for one class, and made certain that the students knew that when Yeats used the word "gay" in the poem he meant homosexual, and the bravery and survival skills of people who are "gay" or who find the "gay" in themselves:
All things fall and are built again,
And those that build them again are gay.
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

James Franco reads HOWL well, and he reads it as it must be read for the way the film is constructed, but I must say that no-one, not even Ginsburg himself ever read HOWL with such fierce energy as Jack did for a small group of us at Indiana University. I tried to hide the fact that my legs began to shake before he got through reading, and I had difficulty controlling my shaking body. I was ready to become a holy roller for poetry.

Although Franco and the actor playing Peter Orlovski did howl from a rooftop their happiness at being in love, Franco did not actually howl while reading the verse - I just happened to catch him yawning:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The pubescent Harvey Milk looks over and approves...

...of someone who notices blue-denim buns and bare chests on Gay Pride Weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Newgrange Megalithic Tri-Spirals Further Abstracted

Check on title above to see 7 variations on a more abstracted version of the Tri-Spirals

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Exploring the Megalithic Newgrange Ireland Spirals

Anyone who loves spirals might feel there is something "sacred" about the megalithic tri-spirals of Newgrange, Ireland. While spirals may symbolize many things, my immediate impression is that someone wanted to carve in stone the image of swirling currents of water. One might imagine them to be the beginning of those intricate knots found in the illuminated manuscripts of Irish monks. I decided to clarify the nature of these spirals that predate the arrival of the Celts by 2500 years. For more information on Newgrange, see -- To see my tracing of the spirals, showing their interplay with various color schemes, click on the title above, "Exploring the Megalithic Newgrange Ireland Spirals."

The title of this collage is....


Sunday, June 20, 2010

"We Were Here"

Click on the title above to see a slide show of people who went from seeing the film WE WERE HERE at the Castro Theater to discuss the film at the Metropolitan Community Church in the Castro District, San Francisco.
David Weissman and Bill Weber had presented the preview print of their new film, "WE WERE HERE: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco" -- virtually finished, but not an official entry in the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival of 2010.
As you might surmise, the emotional impact of the film is profound. Memories were reawakened of the pains and war-like losses from the worst days of the epidemic. The audience was very silent, and when the first person burst into terrible sobbing, the silence seemed intensely gathered around the sobbing as others were crying more silently. We were aware of how long we have chosen not to remember, especially not to soar over the long unfolding of the epidemic and struggles to bring medical help to bear -- or how memory had not counted then as people knew they simply had to do what had to be done, and it was dangerous to stop and take a wide view. Some caretakers were finally overwhelmed and had to stop. It is a testament to all those who came to the aid of those who were dying, with a well-selected cross section, from the nurse in an AIDS clinic to a man who lives with HIV, having lost two lovers to AIDS along the way. The film is a testament to the love and community solidarity that it generated. For one thing, the film give credit to the lesbian community whose support was heroic. But it silly of me to describe the film and its participants when you will be seeing it later.
In the next entry on this blog is one of the verses I wrote during that period.

For an AIDS Death

John Williams
Fortunately, there was a change in what seemed the utterly hopeless AIDS epidemic (a turning point, after long despair, as noted in the film WE WERE HERE) and luck did not run out for the Paul mentioned in the poem below, and Paul survives and is living well. But it felt this way in 1994:


Less than 24 hours – within this day – this morning, in fact,
John Williams died. As I wait for the 24 Divisadero bus,
and watch the sun burn past the iron feet of Sutro Tower,
the earth turning away now to end the light of the first day
of John being gone forever, another victim of AIDS,
the cold breeze coming up is John’s breath; it swirls
around, no longer a warm breath, but not wanting to follow
the sun into the underworld; it wants to remain here
until the sun returns tomorrow. I welcome John
as a cold dog spirit running circles around my legs.

Next I sit in the roaring solitude of the bus, nothing
tugging at my ankles. After a day of mourning John,
it will be a relief to dine with Paul, not yet felled by
the same disease. Paul said that he felt the aura
of a migraine coming on, but would take a nap to prevent it.
His days are a million tricks that he plays, a runner’s body
gone frail. The fragile sticks of many defenses to keep
death at bay will break, and he, too, will join The Disappeared.

The old lady in front of me, in spite of the cold, has opened
a window. Blue parrots circle my head. I know how this goes.
Soon I’ll be coated in birds and monkeys, cats and dogs, all
seeking a shoulder to stand on, a lap to warm, as all the ghosts
have dropped their bodies behind Twin Peaks in the sunsets
then come home to me in fantastic shapes. I felt selfish
earlier, beside the wall where I waited for the bus, wisteria
falling there, punctuated with the snowy blind-spots of white
roses, blank pages for the absent ones, this spring evening,
flower-perfumed, and I feel hopelessly alive as I write
my way to Paul, my good companion, fighting
his disappearance even while he is here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sophia and the Lion

Click on the title for a brief slide show.

Click on the title for a brief slide show.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Efflorescence

Sometimes I like to repeat my line for what you say when you think of standing at the edge of the universe:

If Big Bang Begot the World, What Begat Big Bang?

I guess I just like the B-b-b-baby sounds.

But why "The Big Bang"? Was someone there to hear such a sound? Any sound? So why describe it in terms of a sound?
Just some male choosing a word that sounds like a gun shot or describes his way of making love?

I think we should call it, rather, The Efflorescence, or The Great Efflorescence, or the Original Efflorescence.

Both the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth and the Indian prince who became known as The Buddha in the their distant, separate distant places had a parable about the mustard seed.
In whatever other way they or you may wish to interpret the metaphor, it is about how a giant tree may spring from something extremely small, a seed that is even more small than most seeds -- rather like that tiny first moment which exploded into this slow motion efflorescence we are living in.

This collage is just an idea for, not the portrait we need, to celebrate The Great Efflorescence.