Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jackson Pollock

for nigel roberts, and gertrude st fitzroy 1965

bollocks & bullshit
pearls & pearl divers
diamonds & postmodernmysticalisation's

plastic fantastic . . . 

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Jackson - -  I will catch up with later.
For now, if you have ever stood in front of one his paintings, in the flesh, then you will have experienced some of the power they have, the ability they have to jumpstart you suddenly AWAKE and you will know why he rose to the top of the shit heap of the New York City 'art game' of the 1950s.

And, if you were astute enough, you would finally have understood (as I did, when I stood in
front of a small Pollock painting, not much larger than the Mona Lisa, in 1967) . . . finally understood
what core component The Mona Lisa shares in common with a Pollock painting from the 1950s . . . (and for that matter with Jack Kerouac too).
I will go into that another time. In the meantime there is a 'comment' mechanism at the bottom of this posting
perhaps someone out there can say what that core element of great paintings might be.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"the tigers run like stormwater
down the drains of Denver
in the doldroms,
but dangerously so" she said.

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painting on canvas,  1987, by karl gallagher 

painting on canvas, 1979, by karl gallagher

 absrtact painting on canvas, (detail) 2005,  by karl gallagher

digital image, 2009, by karl gallagher

digital image, 2008, by karl gallagher

digital image, 2009, by karl gallagher

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Monday, January 25, 2010

"Is there anybody there?" Said the traveller
knocking on the moonlit door, as his horse in the darkness
champed the grasses of the forest's ferny floor. Walter de la Mar

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If there is, then feel free to comment - mechansim for doing so is at the bottom of each posting.

digital image of a painting on canvas by karl gallagher 2005

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Karen Waring


“ I had not found the mountains. Or perhaps the mountains had not found me yet. I still believe that the mountains chose me to write about them.”

American writer - Karen Waring

Poetry Then and Now

When I was in school (1960) our creative writing teacher (a beatnik!) brought in a portable phonograph (that's what they were called then) said we were to "listen". She put a record onto the turntable. We sat still, never knowing what to expect from her. The voice of Dylan Thomas filled the room. I don't know about the other students in the class but I felt the hair rise on the back of my neck and chills ran up and down my spine. The words and the tone Thomas used to present his words stirred a hunger and a yearning within me that nothing has ever been able to satisfy. The closest I came to being able to "feed" this yearning was to become a poet myself.

And so I did.

As Karen Waring I fed the hunger through reading, writing, publishing and giving readings at various bookstores in Seattle, Washington. Thanks to Charles Potts (Litmus Press) and Douglas Blazek (Open Skull Press) my poems found their way to the page in the late 1960s through the 1970s. From the 1960s until 1979 I lived the life of a poet and you can take that any way you want to.

I changed, my writing changed. I spent the 1960s/70s in bars. Today I spend my time in the mountains. But the hunger to read and write remains. I am still hungry for words. The words of other poets and, finding my own words again. I still get chills up and down my spine when I read poetry. If you don't get chills up and down your spine you're probably not a poet. What now? Time will tell but in the meantime I'll share my poems, old and new.

Well, I've changed. Older, of course. Back in those days I wore nothing but high heels, smoked 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day and drank a lot. I also wrote a lot of poetry.

Now the poetry is harder to get at - it's still festering but hard to reach. I believe it will come back though the focus has changed. Taverns have been replaced by mountains for one thing. There have been marriages and there have been deaths. I never thought I'd live to be this old. I hope I can still say that 20 years from now.

Monte Cristo Memory (written years ago)

A small item in the local newspaper had major significance some months ago. The Lodge at Monte Cristo had burnt to the ground. Undoubtedly arson. Or carelessness. Ten sentences reduced Monte Cristo to rubble and somewhere out in the world, some pallid, feverish man with faded eyes was sitting in the back booth of a bar playing with matches, feeling at last that he has achieved significance. At least, I am almost certain it was such a man or perhaps a group of clammy-palmed boys high on booze or drugs or perhaps it was even the group of sinister men I saw rolling down an old dirt road in a car the color of blood stains.

News of the fire kept me away for a while. I couldn’t bear the thought of walking to the end of the road and seeing the place leveled. I had known happiness at Monte Cristo and shared that happiness with others. I still have the green T-shirt I bought there on my first visit as a tourist that says “Monte Cristo” in yellow letters. The only other shirt I have with words on it is one a friend gave me when I stopped drinking that reads, “Blue Moon Tavern.” That, of course, is another story and here, not relevant.

What comes to mind when I remember Monte Cristo is the way the Lodge looked at night. One night in particular, I couldn’t sleep and stood outside the cabin we had rented, looking up toward the stars as if the stars had a message for me. I believed in messages in those days. I thought if I looked long enough I would find the words that could change my life.

The night was very dark and the stars were very bright. The Lodge was lit up from within and JR, caretaker of the Lodge, was silhouetted against a warm, yellow window writing in his journal. It was the only light in the world. If I were high on acid, I could easily see JR as God, sitting in the light at the center of the world, keeping the darkness at bay. Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness, they say. JR did it with kerosene lanterns. JR made light in a dark world. JR also kept the water running, the generator working, made sure there were cracked but usable plates in the rented cabins. He’d turned one of the buildings into a free school and at one time had a few pupils.

The Lodge was overrun with children, animals and tourists rattling maps and asking the same questions over and over “How far is Sunday Falls?” “Is there really gold here?” but JR kept a revolver in his desk drawer. There’d been trouble in the past and probably would be again. Drunks from Granite Falls would come in sometimes late at night looking for trouble. This was before the road washed out, of course. After the road was closed to vehicles most of the drunks stayed in Granite Falls.

This particular night I stood outside the Lodge and felt the warm peace within and JR’s gentle head outlined against the light. How had he achieved it? What tools had he used to find such peace? What did he have to leave behind to stay in Monte Cristo? How high the price he had to pay? What was I doing wrong that I had to keep leaving the mountains and returning to the city?

That night the Lodge looked like a perfect little world, running flawlessly through the senseless machinery of Time. I wanted in but JR was the guardian of that world and he wouldn’t just let anyone in. He knew the password but wasn’t talking. I stood outside the Lodge until I got cold enough to return to the cabin. The light was still burning in the Lodge. It still burns in my mind.

The Old House

There’s not much to say about the old house where I spent many happy years of my childhood except that it looks like a crime scene. For reasons too complex to address the house has been destroyed by time, vandals and neglect. Picking through First Editions now white with mold, scattered papers on the floor that could be anything including tax returns, poems or paintings there was little to save.

Dingy fluttering curtains hang limply against windows held together seemingly by cobwebs. Blackened lumps of indefinable objects lie in a kitchen sink, the bathroom toilet a scene fit for a Stephan King novel.

Grotesque renderings of mold and mildew spatter the whole place like Jackson Pollock gone mad. A fireplace built by hand looks like it was bombed. Boxes filled with rotting books once meant for rescue are scattered throughout a living room where nothing lives but mice, spiders and viral monstrosities.

The beds upstairs where children were conceived sag and lean; burnt-out candles and filthy sleeping bags hint that indigent people found life bearable here a while. No one knows when the vandals came or when they will return. Sunlight still filters in through the spider-web clogged windows and falls in wan strips upon the ruined debris. A forgotten pair of mold-splattered white pumps sits on a warped dresser; a cracked door leads to a closet so dark we don’t venture in.

Outside, flowers still bloom in an abandoned garden, a stream still meanders into a bay now mostly filled in with silt. Next to the property a CEO has built a summerhouse fit for royalty. A fence clogged with blackberries and vegetation gone mad separates the properties. A maple split by lightning or disease threatens to fall most likely on the summerhouse. No one knows how this scenario will end.

What is there to say? Whether it is outrage or grief no words can describe the grotesque shape of the ruined piano where my hands first stuttered across a keyboard fit for a Beethoven once upon a time, no words can bring back the courage of those who once lived here in health. A family who long ago survived the first sweep of swine flu at the turn of a century, who produced a family of misfits, alcoholics and artists, who lived on the land when it was still wild, long before rich people arrived and circled a quiet bay where Indian canoes once graced the quiet, pure waters of Hood Canal.

Stephan (A work in progress)

My whole life has been a rushing, a hurrying, a sort of careening. Friends stand by, astonished and perplexed. When I stop careening, it’s as if a bell had stopped clanging that had been ringing for a long time, the silence huge and strange.

Stephan once dreamed of me as a truck out of control without brakes on a downhill grade, careless, crashing into smaller vehicles on the way, damaging, hurting, blind, never looking back at the damage I caused.

It would seem I attach too much importance to my very existence; on the contrary I do not believe I am important at all, perhaps that is why I have floundered and flailed about the way I have done. I knew I was no one and that kind of knowledge is unbearable. I clawed at the eyes of the universe, I raged against obstacles of any kind, I begged other people to define me, to give me eyes and a name. (Journals, early 1980s)


It is little consolation
That dinosaurs brushed by them
In ancient starlight

There is no way to kill them,
Devils guts, they are called

Nothing halts their advance;
Not even poison

At night I hear them
Breathing under the house
In the morning the spiders come
Sewing the weeds together
With dew

Yet I cannot help but envy
Their fierce determination to live
Even when not wanted,
Not like us
That can sicken from love

They will survive us all
After cities fall
And the sun is broken

They will survive
In feeble light or
Broken asphalt or
Beside silver streams

No use to say
This is not the garden I wanted:
That I wanted poppies to
Dance in the yard like gypsies
Or that I wanted to run to you
Like I did that day in the cold mountains
When you wrapped me in your warm
Shirt and said “forever”.

A poem for For J.H.

What is left
The building you
Lived in
About to be torn down
Where once I sat on the edge
Of your bed and you
Carried in a platter of fruit
As if you meant to stay,

I watched your backpack grow,
Bulging with
Orchards where you’d pick
Fruit in the spring,
Groaning with the weight
Of long highways that lead to
The mountains and back down
To some house you are
Building in the valley, some
Horse you are earnestly riding
Toward some gathering storm,
Some woman waiting
In an all-night café.

I want to be free, you said,
And you are. You are as free
As what you carry. Those mountains
Will be crossed, the pack adjusted
To your shoulders I used to
Touch those mornings when summer’s
Shadows lay on your face
Like leaves before they fall.

That Summer (for Eddie)

I am as old now
As you were
That summer

You sold strawberries
Oh, please, just let me see it
You begged
That summer
In the shed
Where you
Kept the berries
And I finally
Took my clothes off

As you stood over me
Berry stains
On your coveralls,
Sweet stink of strawberries
On your hands,

Your shadow
Like King Kong
As you spilled
Your seed all over my legs
And afterward
You kept asking
Where did God send you from?
Where did God send you from?

Like a fish pulled out of the water
Gills drying
You smoked a Salem
And talked about God
And being forgiven for sins
As fishmongers
Called out prices to tourists
That summer

I stayed up all night
In the donut shop
Across the street
Playing “House of the Rising Sun”
On the jukebox over
And over again
Missing the bus
On purpose
Waiting for the
Market to open
Waiting for your gimpy shadow
To stomp through
The empty stalls
Before the city woke up
And the tourists
Stood in line to buy fruit
From our berry-stained hands

For The Man Who Would Understand Poetry

In the house of the word
There are floors and ceilings
That rise and fall.

In the house of the poem
There is no one waiting.

Wild animals die in the shape
Of the tongue

There is no dry land in speech

Shadows seep between the teeth
Of syllables

Our own eyes light
The dead planet of poetry

The stale mouth
Into the silence
And is paralyzed

The snow of the mind
Melts slowly

A black faucet rusts words.

Karen Waring

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All photos in this posting are by Karen Sykes (or friends) and have been published previously on the sites listed below.

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"I foresee a time when all over America the dharma will be carried in backpacks and hiked over all the mountain trails of this sweet land of ours, a land wondrous with the sighing soul of Eternity - breathing lovingly upon us the forgiving Spirit of Almighty God . . . The Ancient One." Jack Kerouac, (Desolation Dreaming Journal 1956).

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The above prose, poems, and photos were
previously published on the following sites:

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Joel Waldman


America 1967

Freedom Riders, USA late 50s early 60s



Hambourg (in support of the Paris rebellion)

Could be any city in the Western world, including Melbourne

"If you rember the 60s then you just wern't there." anon; "If you survived the 60s and 70s unscathed, intact, and sane then man, you definately were not there." gallagher.                  

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American: Joel Waldman

prose n poems . . .

It started about two months ago when I looked up John Bennett an American poet who was posted up on Kris Hemensley’s collectedworks-poetryideas blog and online poetry magazine THE MERRI CREEK : POEMS & PIECES (#15). In my search I came across Berkeley Daze – an online project organized by Richard Denner regarding the scene around Berkeley in 1965. A nostalgic look back at roots, history, and how things have panned out 40 years later for some of the figures from that particular scene and locality.

For a couple of weeks I got engrossed in Berkeley Daze, and one person in particular grabbed my attention - Joel Waldman . . . though he wasn’t the only one (i.e. see Luis Garcia, et al) Waldman like some others had dropped out of the drop-out scene, and that’s what grabbed me - wanting to know more. It was the same everywhere and Melbourne was no different, except in those days we were maybe a year, or two, behind what was happening overseas.

In those days we were reliant on snail mail posted magazines or books – or with some persons, written correspondence - in the days before, long before, the Internet. In Australia too it was the same, this one or that one who had surfaced on the waves of the cultural tsunami and rebellion exploding around the world would in the next few years die – from suicide, drug overdose, or simply disappear - into heroin addiction, psych wards, prisons, underground refuges, rural communes, or with family into the back-blocks of country . . . dropping out of the drop-out scene; others to pursue an income from deadbeat jobs or better, or go on to professions, or go back to university to enhance job chances, so as to survive . . . but some never totally giving up writing. Some returned to the fray - twelve years down the track, or thirty years – back from the white powder demon, the prisons, the mad houses, the grown-up families, time on their hands in retirement if not money and security. [Some things just don't change in the postmodern materialistic world of global capital . . . the struggle for survival, and has it ever been otherwise?] 

The search for me then became wanting to know more of Joel Waldman and that took me to . . . thetimegarden blog – and on thetimegarden site I also discovered Karen Sykes-Waring who I will feature in the next posting. In the meantine here’s a preview–


When I was a younger woman it was easier –
to get jobs, to get men,
to find the energy to burn the candle at both ends.
But now - approaching 62 -- suddenly
life has become a valley of shadows
with talus rolling down from above.
I feel death everywhere,
it's an odd feeling.
I feel ice water in my veins at times and fire behind my eyes.
Even death is kind of beautiful sometimes.
The carcass of a bird under the house that the cats got,
still bright with blood. Sad, torn, but ....what?
The hunger of everything to live is beautiful,
perhaps that is it.
Like the trees that suckle dry rocks
and cling to the edges of mountains
or the poets who keep on going somehow,
barely making it
and those that couldn't do it any longer.

Karen Sykes-Waring

On the Berkeley Daze site there is correspondence between Richard Denner and some of the figures from Berkeley 1965 that he tracked down. What follows is the correspondence between Richard Denner and Joel Waldman.

Dear Joel,
Charles Potts gave me your email address, and said you might be interested in a project I'm working on, which is to write an online feature article for Big Bridge on the Berkeley poetry scene during the sixties.
I would want to create a profile of you in those days which would include poetry of that period, a photo, an updated biography, and anything you would like to write on Berkeley in the 60s.

Dear Richard,
Good luck to you. Potts is a great friend. He sent you to a hoary old man, a poet starving for Fame and Fortune.
Right now I'm way behind those curves, spending like the Drunken Sailor who spreads notoriety and foul smells where ever he goes.
Tired and in need of kicking off my shoes, coincidentally, I just finished a contempo piece of political rant which I will include for intro and color until later.

on Anna Taylor on 5/27/07 12:10
Dear Anna,
I'm preparing for an interview about the literary interface between the Beatniks and the Hippies in the 60's.
And I remember what we did during the last Summer of Love. (But certainly, as we all know, Gentlemen do not tell all.)
Do you remember how we fought Ronald Reagan's National Guard; they with their murderous buck shot on Telegraph Avenue and their toxic helicopters spraying tear gas all over Sproul Plaza?
Of course you do.
And if you'd like to tell me how much YOU hated Reagan, I'll show you my scars.
However, I implore you, Ms Taylor, ...Grow Up!
As we fashionistas are wont to say, that was then, this is... etc.
Duhh. Have you forgotten that the war in Vietnam was won in the Streets of America? Everybody knows that; just as we know that we spit on our Service members if they dared travel through our airports in uniform.

Is any of this coming back to you?
There's a reason why so many Vietnam-era vets suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome and have had so many problems making a happy transition back to civilian life.
Our poor brothers-and-sisters-in-arms came home LOSERS. Remember how many people love losers?
And if you fast-forward a few years, you¹ll come to 1978. You want to talk about a mess!
As our Country slid deeper into decline, I think Jimmy Carter called it malaise, the old ambitions of the Caliphate seemed attainable to certain exiled ayatollahs.

And, when after more than a year of having our diplomats and our embassy in Iran held hostage, an act which I must remind you is considered tantamount to a declaration of war by the entire World of sovereign states, it was only the leadership of our old, B- movie star that brought our people home without loss or a shot fired.
Please do not rehash all the old "October surprise" logorrhea.
I was there.
I had to chose between whether I was going to file stories for UPI about the invasion of Iran, or go ashore behind my SEAL team students to make sure they got their writing assignments done. We inverted Sherman's march through Atlanta to the sea into OUR march FROM the sea to Tehran.
I never got around to thanking Bureau Chief Sylvana Foa for the job offer.
What we need now are positive suggestions to offer to them Yankee politicians so they can decide how to get us out of this mess.

I don't know if it's Republican or Democrat; male or female, black or white I do know we need drastic action for America¹s future security.
It's beginning to feel urgent.

From: "Richard Denner
To: "Joel e-mail"
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2007 10:57 AM
Subject: interfacing
ah, joel, i can relate
i'm a great grandfather
and a monk, to boot
now, tyring to get together
an endgame in cyberspace
interesting to me that
you will be interviewed
regarding an interface
between beatniks and hippies
or bohemians and freaks
as i think we prefered to be called
but no matter
i totally get your take on the troops
and have been wondering how
long will it take for this "support" thing
to wear thin, like when did not kill
cease to be a maxim?
my son's son-in-law recently rerun
thru iraqmire on his second tour
returned to the same old shit
reality, we call it, job, family,
psychic & physical deterioration
lucky he wasn't detonated
but to the project at hand
your rant has touches of what i need
would you be interested in putting out more?

To Richard Denner 5/28/07 10:57
No Fortune?
No Fame?
Listen Richard, I got to figure how to share a high school graduation in Mendocino on Friday night and get to a bat mitzvah in Baltimore on Saturday.
All suggestions gratefully acknowledged.
First we were Hippies, then Freaks.
Now look at us!

I suppose I could fall back on my bed and breakfast business, or find a border or a renter or a room mate, but its got to be by yesterday and in cash.
Although I am not as blessed as you, I have no grandchildren yet, I would love to join your Endgame in Cyberspace.
My stuff is now surrounding me- read memorabilia.
But, I fear I am facing Technodeath. This machine, which was a gift from one of my kids, wheezes and sputters. Not enough memory to open Word . . . . no printer . . . .no scanner . . . . DSL unavailable from here so far.

And as I wrote to Charlie, I don't give a shit!
I can express myself with a pencil.
But I am not so obsessed with the Poetry Business as he.
Only the Temple Master bleeds for Free.

Best wishes Brother Monk,
Write if you get work.
JCW [Joel]

[To Joel]
hmmm, fast walking is my suggestion, first to mendocino, then to the airport, unless both events are on the same day, then i'd suggest fast flying or astral projection, but if nothing works, send a note in pencil, friendly
so, if you do give a shit enough to write some shit down in pencil, i'll see if i can scan it in from hard copy, typewriter would be better for scanning, but pencil documents sound intriguing, each one would then be a picture online, maybe write a story piece about the flavor of telegraph avenue, as you crawled on hand and knees and kept going in legible crawling

you could write this while you fly to baltimore
then i'd need a picture of you, a less hoary you
a picture from the sixties or seventies
and a couple of poems from the period
and that'd be good
ho, richard
p.s. and if you need emergency money, you can contact poets-in-need at big bridge and ask, philip whalen left money for poets with legitimate emergencies

To Richard Denner 5/28/07 4:15 Thanks for your reasoned, and compassionate, reply.
Lots of the people you contacted are featured in a book called, "The Anthology of Poems read at the Conference of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers (COSMEP)." The event documented took place on the Berkeley campus in Dwinelle Hall around the time you are trying to recall. Potts was the main man at the event and served as M.C. for the reading. There are contemporary photos of most of the poets. You have not mentioned Andy Clausen among those you are in touch with. His picture is on the cover of the book wearing a tie with an American flag motif. Potts had him and his now partner, Janine Pommy-Vega, at the '06 Poetry Party. Contact Charlie for more details about the old volume. I have one copy somewhere in my library.

There was a poem of mine published in the Berkeley Barb called, "Would You Believe Me." If you wish you may include that piece in what ever you are planning.

. . . . I have a big picture window in my living room that opens on to Highway 1 and the ocean beyond. When I watch TV I close the curtains because I feel uneasy about people watching me watch TV.

As part of my bi-polar sojourn, today I am bummed out and in no mood for any activity that involves either thought or action. Nothing personal.
Please stay in touch.
While I love the garden that my family has become, it is too hard for me to claim a week-end in Baltimore as an emergency need. Bless the memory of Philip Whalen.
Now I have to go to work. I have a little job at the Post Office.

To Joel Waldman
ok, joel, i understand completely your need for privacy, and i'll let all this go, but i have one last request, could you send me a copy of the poem from the Berkeley Barb you mentioned called "Would You Believe Me"? and i'll leave you alone after that, except perhaps to send you a link to the article when it comes out next near, thanks for what you've told me, it all helps in its way, sincerely, richard

To Richard Denner 5/29/07 7:11 Sorry for my erratic nature insofar as supporting your efforts.
I would like to assist you in your documentation of an era that was once so luminous and urgent in our lives.
On a personal, psychic level, I think I am a few steps behind you in this work and would like to offer whatever editorial and copy production assistance you may deem appropriate.

Some years ago I had a brief correspondence with Allen Ginsberg. One of the things he sent me was a series of cartoon panels bewailing the press of his Poetry Business obligations. I do not mean this exchange has any similarity:
"Oh, I'm five years late for my deadline with Harper-Row !"
But my chore-filled life, which I love and in which I flourish, is so surrounded with dikes crying out for my fingers to plug the leaks threatening to inundate my imaginary estates that, even when I am offered as honorific an opportunity as yours, I instinctively shrink from ANYTHING new.

Just like that other "loony fruit," sometimes I, too, must stop everything because: "It's time for a very important nap."

I'll do what I can to help. Search when I have a few minutes to rummage and sort. Write and reminisce. Xerox at the copy shop twenty-five miles away, and send stuff through the USPS, my employer. [united states postal service]
I wish I had more up to date machinery with which to do this work.
I have had to accept the fact that I can not make it to Baltimore.

To Joel Waldman
hi, joel
sorry for not responding sooner
a lot going on
thanks for your book -50 new poems- [pub 2002]
amazing, freaky, sad, happy, lovely poems
much lyricism, and an epic arm reach to some of them
everything is there, prophetic and crazy
how do we survive in this criminal insanity?
and i appreciate your courage
i spent time in napa state mental facility
so i know
and the pic of you is a classic
. . . . i know you say you were in the 'second wave'
but your voice is relevant to my project

To Richard Denner 6/25/07 10:32
Good morning, Richard,
No frets.
I am very happy to know your positive, appreciative reaction to my work.
Ferlinghetti scoffed, and said about Poetry, "You call it work? I call it play."
I don't know who is correct, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
Charlie has a great line, . . . something to the effect that schizophrenia is no more of a precursor to great poetry than halitosis or arthritis...You'll have to check with him.

Remember the old, French post-romantics, Rimbaud and Baudelaire? I think they favored the derangement of the senses with alcohol and drugs and the idea stuck to this day through Burroughs and Ginsberg to Bukowski.

These days, with my slowing trickle of testosterone, I refer to my psychic derangements as senior moments. I suppose, in my younger days, I pushed the envelope of reality to follow my impulses beyond Polite Society's bounds and got labeled with various tags that still stick.

As a personal example, and by way of trying to help you with your Endgame in two cents for your are some thoughts in profile.
Once I applied for the San Francisco Foundation's Joseph Henry Jackson Award for The Most Promising New Poet of 1969-1970; I knew It was Me and I was It.
But my style had an angry component in which I'd seem to threaten violence.
I acknowledge this part of my nature, and I suppose I've got to admit that sometimes the World doesn't take kindly to a good, that is to say, baaad, scare.

One of my colleagues from the Telegraph-Avenue-Sunday-Night-Open-Mike-Poetry-Readings at Shakespeare and Co. in Berkeley had won the coveted prize himself, earlier.
He was cool and a natty dresser, almost always in a tailored shirt and tweed jacket. He'd bop along the Ave. with an arch smile on his lips as he bobbed and weaved among the crowd. When he got to the mike, though, he knew exactly how to quiet an audience. He read Love Letters to us. Now Stanford University Professor Emeritus Al Young is serving as our Poet Laureate.

But then, he was on the panel of judges for the JHJ Award. As Al and I had been habitués at the Café Mediterranean, we often talked Poetry and compared notes on various happenings and events. Al knew I was putting together my first book, "Ice Princess."
(Please, no Disney cracks here.)
One afternoon Al introduced me to Glenn Myles, the graphic designer. Glenn went on to do the book design.
John Oliver Simon and Richard Krech jumped in with an offer to photo-offset and print galleys for the bindery. They had a hot, new press for their Noh Directions imprint and were dying for a chance to run something off. I remember how especially proud they were of their IWW bug. Only much later did I come to understand and appreciate those fellahs.

As an aside, I have one copy of "Ice Princess" remaining. I have seen my book for sale at a rare book shop, where, I'm proud to say, it appears to be keeping pace with inflation. What was once sold at a subscription price of $2.00, at last market check, was going for $35.00.

And I remember how the words of the Director of the Berkeley Rotary Art and Garden Center, Carl Worth, kept reverberating in my memory.
"Joel, the only way you can apply for a grant and still be consistent with your poetic style would be to pull out a .45 and say, 'Stick 'em up!"'
It was at the office of The San Francisco Foundation.
They were offering a prize which I KNEW WAS MINE!
I wasn't leaving until I got it.
The San Francisco Police came.
They dragged me to the San Francisco Hall of Justice.
I passed a Bob Bastien cartoon. A be-cloaked and daggered, black version of the Spy vs. Spy Mad Magazine character labeled C.I.A. was dangling three motley puppets. They were labeled: Writers . . . Editors . . . Publishers.

I was booked into City Prison. The charge was Trespassing Against The San Francisco Foundation.
The bunk-room lock-up was jammed with men coming in and going out of the barred and gated wall. The opposite wall was paneled with glass and looked out into a narrow hallway. There uniformed police led a steady parade of transvestites and trans-gender humans in various stages of reorientation. As the prisoners passed the window they put on suggestive and lurid and lewd displays for the men in the big cell behind the glass. Some were proffering beautifully formed breasts. The cops just smiled.

And so begins my profile that is struggling now to break out into the light of day. If what the Evening News now calls torture is what torture is, than I was tortured for six months. They tried to take me to Napa. I did not go gently. I was bound for Atascadero. Etc.

Got to shut down now.
Edit this if you wish and use it.
Please save me a final cut before you publish.
I'm still surfin' that second wave.
Poems later,

To Richard Denner 6/28/07 9:03
Early Saturday morning...
I've finished last night's dishes. The old dishwater has been used to water the Mexican Sage, the Sweet Alyssums, the Fuchsias, and the Passion Vine.
The day is dawning bright and clear with a crisp tanginess to the air. The fog bank is hovering in a sharp, gray line, a few miles offshore. Across the road the divers are packing their gear to go down to the rocks at the base of the cliff exposed by the minus tide.
The news is droning in the background.
I'm thinking about what I've written to you and the impressions I may have created.
How can I express the totality of a life well-lived, filled with adventures and blessings few have experienced? While notoriety and adverse commentary and critical opinions have hounded me, certainly there has been more; much, much more.

Art and Poetry have been at my core for most of my adult life, but how I've conducted my existence as a social animal does not fit any of the notions about the lives of Artists and Poets that I have studied.
As it should be, I suppose.

What I have done with my writing is as insubstantial and ephemeral as these letters tapped out on this keyboard, data disseminated into the ether, waves and ripples of electronic on's and off's, signifying self-absorption.
But what about me? What has been important about me?
First, there are my son, my daughter, my step-daughter.

The poem I mentioned to you that contains the line, "Would you believe me if I told you/ That today I met a  CIA trained, Red Chinese double agent...," that was published in the, now defunct, "Berkeley Barb," ends with the line, "All I shall ever care about is the color of my children's eyes." That poem was written years before Adam and Anna were born; long before I met Maria. When I wrote the poem, "my children's eyes," were only metaphors suggesting the audience, my readers, those who heard me.

If I kept a diary, if I had clear notes about the chronology of my life, I know I could pin-point the exact moment when I became aware of myself as a poet.

Carole had walked out and left me. She did not want to marry me.
I was living in an apartment on Essex Street in Berkeley. It was located a block away from the original headquarters of the Black Panther Party. It was a nice neighborhood with tidy, flower-filled yards. It was the mid-60's.
She and I had just settled in to our own place after six months of living out of back-packs.
We had driven across America in a drive-away Buick convertible. Then we hitch-hiked to Mexico and lived on the beach in Mazatlan in hammocks strung between coconut palms. We lived in Mexico until the money we had saved from our jobs as social workers for the NYC Dept of Welfare ran out.
The agency from which we obtained the fancy, new car had an unusual order. We were to pick it up from the owner at her home. She was a Broadway showgirl who lived on the West Side of Manhattan. The woman seemed to be everything stereotyped you might expect of someone who lived the life of a leggy chorus-girl. She greeted us at the door in a flowing negligee with a martini in her hand and a sweeping gesture, "Darling, come in. Have a drink." It was 10:00AM.
In an irrepressible manner she was putting her life in order. She wanted us to deliver her car to her daughter, a starlet living in Hollywood. Inoperable, terminal cancer was drawing the curtain.

Don't stop me now, Richard. I'm on a roll. But I've got to go to work. I'm the local relief for the Postmaster. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night, etc.
I don't have a printer. You're my only hope, Obi Wan.

To Joel Waldman
thanks, joel, actually, by sending your writing in the body of an email, it saves me time, and i can whip the words into a doc and add them to your file, work progresses, and as for what you've just written
this is exactly what i want
chatty but to the point,
intelligent, insightful,
peacefully reflected
personal view with historical context,
flavor of the street and of the mind space,
very post-post-modern
keep it up

To Richard Denner 6/30/07 12:53
Sheech, Richard, yr givin' me a swelled head!
But now that I think about it, my head can use a little swelling.
Hey, here's a stroke, straight from the pen... ball-point, that is.

The State Becomes
The Land Lord
And buys the homes for
Medical Care
Until we quit
Thank you
Until we quit.

(from- "The Village of the Dancing Demonics")

As for the ongoing profile, I'm afraid I can't recall the names of the Showgirl nor her Starlet daughter.
The Mama and I stretched out in her mid-town living room and proceeded to tell stories to each other over glasses of gin.
Her life, in trophies and notices, was all around us; she wanted to know about me.
"Why are you in such a rush?"
I explained that after I got her car I had to find a sporting goods store to buy a sleeping-bag for my girlfriend who was waiting for me to pick her up and get on the road.
"Not to worry," she said.

We took the elevator to the garage. We got in the car and she drove us to the 72nd Street Yacht Basin where we found her boat. She took me below to a stateroom and opened a hanging locker. She pulled out a new, still-wrapped, down-filled beauty. She handed me the sleeping-bag, and asked, "Will this one do?"

We went back to her apartment for another round of martinis.
She wanted to know the route I proposed to take.
As Arizona zipped by, she said, "Aren't you going to stop at the Grand Canyon?"
"I'd love to, but I've only got so many days to deliver the car."
"Nonsense," she cut me off, and picked up the phone. "There are these simply divine Indians who live in the Canyon; you must visit them."
Here we use the sit-com convention of witnessing the caller on the phone and only hearing the garbled, yakety-yak, squawk of the daughter protesting the delay of her convertible's delivery on the other end.
"He's a lovely man and he must visit the Indians."
Outraged squawking!
"Well, rent it for ANOTHER week!" Mama had spoken, and that was that.

I don't want to go into the horses and the donkey, pack-animals. There is no need to burnish the reputation of the Havasupi and their magical box canyon. Check out National Geographic. They have thousand-word pictures.
I can't remember what the Starlet was like when I dropped the car.
And this leads us to the beginning of a story that haunts me yet.
Here my ability to handle the truth weakens.
I remember e.e. cummings.
He read "I Dream of Olaf," to a packed auditorium at my college while I was an undergraduate.
When the poet came to the part where Olaf says,
"There is some shit I will not eat,"
the author read it,
"There is some S I will not eat."

So I claim precedence as a rider to my poetic license regarding the use of the N word.
The guys in their plaid, short-sleeved shirts and their close-cropped, buzz-cuts shouted "Nigger-lover" at us as we fled to the safety of the Greyhound Bus to avoid the rocks being thrown from their pick-ups skidding by.
The woman who would later become my first wife and I had gone on a Freedom Ride as part of a desegregation march. It was 1959 in Pomunkey, MD.
We fled to the sanctuary of a Black Baptist Church. They fed us there and we took the busses back to NY.

And here a few words about Ellen, my Jewish virgin, the only woman I married without issue.
She was too beautiful for her own good. When people told her she looked like Audrey Hepburn, she bristled: "Audrey Hepburn looks like ME!" Her parents proudly displayed the plaque which commemorated her award, at sixteen, of the New York City-wide Shakespeare competition as Juliet.
Later we were ushers together from the opening night in Lincoln Center's Philharmonic Hall, now called Avery Fisher Hall, until our catastrophic break-up. Great gig, though!
I shudder to think how close I came to being Joe in the song, "Hey, Joe."



n poetry . . .

I am swatting at wing-ed chariots swinging low round my
Sun-mottled, pre-cancerous scalp.
Stressed by Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD)
I pawned my Caballero for a quick infusion of cash to cover my mortgage.
I met a guy who wants to buy it for twice the pawn value, but I've lost his phone #.
I feel like an idiot.
Gibbering in the cold, stormy deluge flooding the coastal cliffs.
Who would not praise a redeemer born into such a miserable, wet world of woe and abandonment?
Everybody ignores me but this keyboard.
All praises due to he who writes
And sees his words reproduced
Before his eyes.
My flesh and blood disavows its own reproduction.
I treated my poems like children and my children like poems.
The longer I live the less I've got to show for my efforts.
I'm feeling like a miserable motherfucker,
The only thing going on is a delivery of chicken soup
To an old acquaintance who did security checks for the guvmint to bestow top secret clearances, he who now lies abed rejected by all as his cancer treatment is keeping him on the edge of life. Knowing that it can always get much worse, I force the celebration.
I am alive.
I am pleased to have you with whom to share my troubles whether you take them seriously or not.


So for more reasons than I can tell
I went back to The Time Garden
And read Sally Hemming's Dress
Proud to be a poet
Among poets
Yea tho my fat, old, hairy ass
Fills this chair with vapor,
I am still in love with the sound of my own voice.

The latest from my medical provider: smoke weed, it's good for you...
lay off the tobacco, it'll kill you...
Hoping my native brothers
(more wise than Einstein, God do shoot crap)
no umbrage bare.
So this glorious day in their season, so like the clarity of that September
Eleventh, brings me to my keyboard to tell a tale or two 'bout cowboys and
their songs.

Let's look at the Galaxy!
From the bridge.

A swath of light across the night sky. Pebbled, spotty light against a
field of Philharmonic Blue ...or is it black?

Dark Matter!
No Color.
In the Very Center,
Mrs. Calabash,
Around which
we orbit,
I hear.
Very much on a similar plane with the rest of our sister planets.
Pluto, Pluto, Pluto, Pluto, Pluto !
But which way on the Arm do we circumnavigate and how thick is it?
Oh, seafaring politician,
You who know
what I know
and more,
That Paradise
where we set God straight.
'Cause I'm dieing for a smoke... with all this chit
Let's call it a day
take a hike

and slip into the organ,
for another

Joel Waldman

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These twilight years are a bit more like this . . .

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Joel Waldman

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Bio . . .
JOEL WALDMAN, who was born in New York City in the middle-class borough of the West Bronx on November 9, 1940, can still remember the black outs and air-raid drills of WW2.
P.S. 7, Bronx.
De Witt Clinton H. S. Class of 1957.
BA 1963, C.C.N.Y.
MA 1968, C.C.N.Y.
Joel's first book, Ice Princess, was published by Nho Direction Press in Berkeley in 1968; Fifty New Poems was published at Mole Ranch in 2002. Joel now lives in Elk, California where he works for the Post Office.

Correspondence between Richard Denner and Joel Waldman previously published in Berkeley Daze here:

Joel's poems previously published on thetimegarden here:

The online magazine THE MERRI CREEK : POEMS & PIECES here:

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Ken Trimble

Melbourne Writer: Ken Trimble

prose n poems . . .

Notes Of An Idiot Inside The Whale.

I entered the Gatwick with a walking stick and a $100 in my pocket. After spending three months in India I came back broke and homeless, all my dreams of becoming a monk were shattered from a fall on a Calcutta Street.

And now I entered a world as foreign as India and I was as scared as a man facing time in prison, lost inside a sea of darkness. I was forty-six and for the most part my life was like anyone else. I had worked in good jobs and got good pay and lived in nice homes, but this all fell apart when I discovered that I could win by gambling. If only I had lost that first time, instead I won, and won big, and I was hooked like a fish that was to be gutted and used on someone's dinner table.

I worked for a company in the pre-press industry and I decided to take the redundancy package that was on offer. In relative terms it was a small one and I decided to travel to India to live in an ashram in South India. The reason was, when I saw the life story of Father Bede Griffiths, I felt the inspiration to become a monk, and I thought it was going to be easy. A walk in the park, a piece of cake.

I am an addict, a gambler, drinker, smoker, you name it I'm addicted to it. Like a man dying of thirst I entered the Casino, desperate and looking for a hit. The madness of that night is still etched in my brain because I won. It was always the pokies, an idiot’s path. I never could play cards, wasn't interested in roulette, two-up or other things, I wanted money and lots of it!

That night I won a thousand dollars and I felt good. Inside that tomb of screaming blackness, insanity reigns. We were all looking for El Dorado, all looking for the yellow brick road that would lead us out to the Promised Land.

So I decided to come back the next night for this game was easy, I thought I was born to win. The next night I lost and I lost big, I was a thousand down on my winnings and I panicked and I tried to recover the loss. Suddenly the born winner was a born loser and my guts felt the churning of an imploding universe as my money began to dwindle from crisis to crisis. Thankfully for me, my time to India had arrived but in the space of two weeks I had lost $8000 as quick as a blink of an eye.

I sat on the plane in a daze, I had blown half my life savings in a flash, and here I am with thoughts of becoming a monk. By the time I arrived in the ashram I felt disconnected and scared. It was if something had died within me. I was a rotting carcass of thoughts and fears in a strange land. I had fallen off the edge and the uncomfortable silence began its drum.

For two months I lived inside a paradise and meditated, talked with monks, lived in the silence of complete emptiness, yet I knew I had stuffed up back home and felt the nagging darkness of failure that covered me like a blanket.

Then one brilliant morning I noticed a girl walk through the gates, tall, stunningly beautiful, and it was then that life took another turn. I was infatuated with her, maybe it was her French accent, whatever, but she drove me crazy, I wanted her, I wanted to fuck her. After a month there, she left for Calcutta and shortly after she left, I followed.

I took a three day train journey and I had come down with a fever. When I got there the weather was cold and I went looking for a jumper in one of the bazaars. As I stepped down onto the street I lost my balance and as I fell to the concrete I felt my left foot snap. I could hear the crack and I wanted to throw-up but nothing came. My whole life was there on the street, a disaster waiting to happen.

For the next two months I hobbled around on crutches, I had broken the bone under the arch as far as it would go. My money was running out, and the twelve month plan to stay got short circuited to four, so I decided to come back home. The idea of becoming a monk was out, the idea of making love to her was out, I was finished and I wanted to come home.

I came back with nothing and I rang a friend who said he'd meet me in St. Kilda at 'Munroe's. He gave me a $100 and we looked over the road and there stood the Gatwick a residential hotel, in its heyday it must have been great, it had that old Victorian charm, but now it seemed battered and bruised and dark.

Owned by two Greek women the reception area was dark and men stood in the shadows. The clock on the wall had stopped, an old lounge that had seen better days and here I am with walking stick with just the clothes on my back.

I was shown to my room on the third floor, opposite my room stood a door that looked as if at one time someone had tried to kick the crap out of it. My room was an average size with an old wardrobe, a single bed, a small television and a piss stained sink. Down on the second level were the showers and toilets, yellow syringe bins were dotted around. I felt sick, scared and lonely. That first night I felt the bed bugs bite into me and I heard down the hallway laughter then voices filled with anger. I was in bedlam without a doctor’s certificate, I had crossed into madness.

In the morning I complained about the bugs and told one of the Greeks I wanted the bed changed. As I waited outside my room a young man stood leaning against his door. He said almost in a whisper, “don't worry”, I mumbled back thanks and closed the door.

That night I got down on my knees and cursed God and every other fucker. And as night became morning I was woken to the sounds of a saxophone playing down the hallway. It sounded like Coltrane and man could he play. It felt like he was playing for everyone in the Gatwick, all the pain, all the madness, all the lostness of the lost. And I sat on my bed and cried for all the shit of my life, and all the shit of everyone's lives stuck here inside the whale...

♣ ♣ ♣



I remember entering you.
Scared frozen body.
A man tells the time, see the clock.
Ancient Greek in shrouded black
shows me to my room.
Shattered from a Calcutta Street
I hobbled up the stairs.
A door opens- a young man stands by,
“don't worry”, I hear his whisper
O shining eyes of heroin.
A blackened sink, piss ridden bed, crawling mattress.

Dungeon of Fitzroy Street and bone jarring sounds.
Kafka haunts me!
I am finished to the kicked in doors
and needle ridden dawn.
I am on my knees
Cursing You.
Cursing me,
can't seem to find the light
can't seem to find the key.
Its 4am
and the junkies are high on white light
as Coltrane plays in his room.


 Big Wind

We were waiting for the big wind to hit,
we were all waiting that day
and I fled like a scared rabbit to a city
where everything is hard and cold.
It is a place where the unforgiven walk every day
to the house for a meal.
Dismembered by time,
the old house I left years ago is still going strong.

Smoke plumes of death rose from the table
as Edvard Munch walked by, hollowed out eyes, heroin eyes.
Tall and balding he lived in his shadow.
'they took my right away to have a gun', he said
hopping around as if had fire in his pants.
My Father taught me never to ask questions,
I just nodded and smoked
I waited for the big wind.

We all waited..
a dust storm hit from the west
a murky yellowy imprint on the city's bowels.

Another man came out of his room
hard with gut protuding, glasses burnt
'I had the gun ready, I would have killed him
but his for his two daughters that stood by him'.

The wind began its drum beat of fear
as I thought about Warburton.

I saw an old woman with a g-string
up the crack of her arse.
I saw a young man showered in sweat
waiting in line to go nowhere.
I saw people dressed in black hunting the streets.
I saw a Nepalese giving puja.
I saw the old Franciscan walking, lost in prayer.
I saw two French folk singers immersed in the rainbow.

And I wondered about the people I knew
in my small town surrounded by forests
locked in with no place to go
and I wondered if they felt I was a coward
as the soles of my shoes touched the broken heart of Fitzroy
as we waited for the
Big Wind.

The Hermit

Silent waters
yellow moon,
mountain mist,
and deer on the run.
Prayer mat and beer
which will I have first?
Drifting silence and wet afternoons
I think I''ll read Kerouac,
perhaps, St. Augustine the black.
Lonely sun
tired days,
friends come around.

Ken Trimble




Ken Trimble, Bio . . .

“I left school at 14, I read a lot when I was young, influenced by Hemingway, Dostoevsky, Sholokov, Gorky - later I read Orwell and became involved with International Socialists. In the late eighties I went to the Soviet Union via the 'trans siberian railway’ with letters of introduction from the Australian/Russian Friendship Society. In this time both parents died and in 1989 I had experience that made me question existence. In 1993 I encountered the television programme 'Compass' and saw the life of Father Bede Griffiths an English monk who lived in India for 40 years. I read his books and went to stay at his ashram in 1996. After I came back I felt unsettled in job and life and quit job to go back to India to become a monk. Things went badly and came back broke - in mind, body, and financially destitute.

Lived in rooming houses in Melbourne then discovered a meditation community in Warburton deeply committed to Bede Griffiths and Inter-Faith dialogue. Since India I have worked as a personal carer for disabled persons run by the Brotherhood of St.Laurence. I began writing poetry when I was young, but after I read Kerouac and Whitman and later Bukowski I took up writing seriously.

I have read my work at the Dan O'Connel and The Empress Hotel bars and The Burigna Café. My writing published in Windmills run by Deakin University and the poem 'Big Wind' has been played on public radio in America. Last year I published my first book Clouds on Hanover St.

I am an oblate in the Catholic tradition of a community called the Camaldolese, a hermit order founded over a thousand years ago. I classify myself as a left wing Catholic, which often leads me to question.”
Ken Trimble

[ ed. Warburton is an old ex-goldmining town about two hours drive out of Melbourne]


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Ken’s book of poems Clouds on Hanover Street is published by Little Fox

Ken is also published on

Ken’s blog

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