Friday, June 27, 2008


oxygen going up my nose now and
tylenol is starting to knock out the pain in my
arthritic left pinkie. No one is calling out tonight for
water or for Martha. This walking around the halls
nodding "yes" to busy sleepy people asking "getting
some exercise?" or "can't sleep?" is over for
tonight I think and I'm not hungry so Morpheus,
are you ready? Let's

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Even though I'm way too feeble to
make the trip now, I envy them
that long ride down the 5 from
San Francisco to
L.A., that endless Bakersfield stretch and up over
the grapevine, how I used to love it. They've gone
to empty my apartment and I envy them that too. It
would be such fun to look at everything and say
"keep it" or "throw it away" (or probably "give it
away"). What will be left, I wonder: maybe my
barwa (that greatest of loungers with its
black sheepskin cover), probably Mom's
table though I don't know where it will go. They
will decide, not
me. Not me. Not me -hooray! My framed
posters, some of them (poetry, the
IWW). I don't care about the little movie-house or
the Picasso one so much), and I kind of hope my
futon on a frame that Ev bought me so long ago, my
favorite bed. Those I
might decide to keep but if they
decide to discard them I will not
be sad. It is nice not to have to
make decisions, very nice and to enjoy
that ride down the 5 and back again in
memory without having to try to
endure it. I'll sit here and look out the window at
a brick-topped block wall holding back the steep weedy hill where
deer come down to nibble our
impatiens and I walk out to sketch
my favorite thistle and
the silk tree. Too muggy today to
do that; a good time now for one last
gaze out the window and a nice


It's quarter to nine and I thought I ate
a big supper but I'm already dreaming of
three bowls of

Monday, June 23, 2008


definitely seems the wrong
word for it now; I know guys adore this sort of thing
just as much as I do and wear them clipped to their
shirt pockets. This little red flashlight puts out light,
I mean emits light, it doesn't put it out, just the
reverse, plenty of light with its tiny battery, plenty
for reading whatever needs to be read. And it's
so handy. Of course, I haven't tried to change
the battery yet; I may find some trouble there but
if I do I'll just hand it to the nurse, the one who said
"If you can't work it, give it to a five-year-old," or I'll
give it not to a five-year-old as there are none handy here
but to my 11-year-old grandson; he'll take care of it all right.
My life is so rich - beautiful children and grandchildren and
genius friends who give me
amaryllis and chocolate and rides to the
farmer's market and write poetry and books
for children that explain everything, daughters and friends who give me
all that I need in this world. And at last the woman in the wheelchair
who was yelling at the help and keeping everyone awake has
been put to bed and I won't even have to use my ear plugs; I'm going to
knit up some ravell'd sleeves here. Good night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Art and Life

I wrote a poem about losing my green plaid pajamas, a
true account as far as it went but it wasn't
intended as a plea for new pajamas. Eventually
the lost came back and even better, another older pair
of bright red plaid ones showed up, a little loose in the
waist now but extremely comfortable and so
cheering to encase myself in, but in the meantime
here came all sorts of queries from other
poets about what size I wore and promises
of help with my pajama problem. Never a thought that I might have
made the whole thing up, or
written about something that happened twenty years ago. It's true that
following the Bukowski model (and the Archilochus model too) I do
usually write about things that actually happen to me, but
it's also true that if I want help with my problems I ask for that in
e-mail or by telephone (or even in person if I ever get to see a
real person) but when I'm just experiencing my life I'm
not really asking for help. Sometimes I guess an
offer of help can be an attempt to
erase the unwanted experience; anyway I am going to
curl up with Rick Lupert's honeymoon book for a while and
revel in the wealth of everything real in my life. Today I've
been thinking all day that I'll never leave here but
feet first but now after all this conversation I'm
ready to believe I'll
live forever. My friend Sandy Berlin after he expired breathed life into
two long-bloomless violets to alert his wife Joanne to his
continued existence. After I go I will try to
send you poems, as I believe sometimes the late
Bukowski tries to do for me. Some ego I have to
think that; yes, true. Still sometimes I
believe it anyhow.

Red PJs

Red PJs

It's so wonderful to walk around the halls in these
red plaid pajamas my daughter bought for me
ages ago and that I long thought lost, but that
now are found, found by the self-same beautiful
daughter. God be thank'd not only
for dappled things but for
plaid things too, green and red, and now that I think of it
some green and red things that are
not plaid. I had a red velveteen dirndl
skirt once that I wore with a black velvet
top and a bright green wide, wide sash at
Christmas parties. I wasn't skinny, I was
sort of saftig but I looked like not the
mother but maybe the sister of
Christmas in it and was a
guy magnet so I had to remember not to
drink. Not not to drink too much, but
not to drink. Any drink at all was
too much for me - as Sally Ehmke told me,
"Face it, Frances, you were a
cheap date." Would we could
understand what we are and what doing while we are
doing it. Now I just understand better what
not to do, but of course as far as
drinking is concerned I can't
anyway even if I didn't
understand. Still, as I've said somewhere else recently I think,
I'd give anything to go bar hopping again and jump into the
Charles River naked at midnight with Bonelli or some other
naked friend. Thank you, my life, for
all the fun you've given me, as well as for all the
beautiful, gifted children you've
blessed me with. And the friends too, Oh,
the friends! Thank you for the care too that I
receive now all undeserved; I remember singing every day one year at school
"For health and strength and daily food we praise thy name oh Lord," and
now that I have neither health nor strength and sometimes don't
appreciate my food any more, still I am thankful as anything for
all these good times. Imagine, 86 years of it and still going. So
what if I don't sleep? I can lie awake remembering. What
gifts I have to remember! All while wearing my
red plaid pajamas.

Saturday, June 21, 2008



What is it anyway,
mind? Is it brain or brain plus
something else? Or something else entirely?
What is hard is looking in; I can contemplate
for instance my heart, that pumps away sometimes quite
raggedly and sometimes steady as a steam engine,
or my ribs that ache just now for some reason
unknown to me, but it's hard to know my mind. It has
a mind of its own. Someone stole my pajamas, it says, or
someone stole my money. I have been robbed, that's what it
repeatedly asserts, but if I have it's never of what I'm telling myself
was stolen. The "stolen" always turns up. My daughter says
I told her someone broke into my apartment and stole
- what was it? I think she might have said I said a knife. What-
ever it was it always came back later and I seldom took the trouble
to acknowledge that I had not been robbed, not at least of
the knife or whatever it was. And I was not robbed of my
blue plaid pajamas. But I may have somehow managed to
rob myself of my mind. In that case I'll sleep mindless -
that should be peaceful enough. But is it the mind that
dreams? In that case how can I have sweet dreams - which I
know I will have because Marry wished them for me? Mystery
abounds, that's all. Mystery and mindless dreams, and
blue plaid pajamas, my nighttime companions. One
deep breath; my ribs no longer hurt. Out goes the light.
Good night!

Someone Took

Someone Took
my pajamas -
the blue plaid flannel flannel pajamas I liked so much -
and now they're gone. My daughter says you know, Mom,
things disappear, but things actually don't just
up and disappear. The last time I was here
someone stole money - I don't remember how much but it
wasn't even mine, it was
my daughter's so in a way I was the
one who stole it first, although
it was my intention to return it to her. And now
the gorgeous pajamas. If I get some more I know exactly
where I will hide them where they won't be stolen again but
probably I will never get any more, not while I'm here anyway. I
have to sleep in this stupid sort of gown that gaps in the back
and twists every which way. Hard enough to sleep
anyway but worse in this thing. Maybe I'll take it off and see if I
can sleep in my birthday suit, as we used to say. Or maybe I
just won't sleep, that
seems probable. Good thing I have
Rick Lupert's honeymoon poems to
read over and over. That's
better than sleep anyway.

Friday, June 20, 2008



She thinks a thistle
is some kind of cactus, I guess because
they are both prickly - or at least some
cactuses are, and all
thistles. I'd like to take her
through Joshua Tree National Park and
out the other side to where the ocotillo bloom
for miles in every direction and we could
look for thistles. Saguaro, yes; thistles,
no. Not there. Here on the edge of trash woods, that's
where they like to grow, and on untended
dry ground among the rye and
chickoree. I'd guess
thistles too are probably
railroad plants. Unlike most weeds, they
I believe are
always weeds; I never heard of their
being cultivated, but they are beautiful just
the same. If by chance I should
get well - or perhaps in my next life, assuming
I'll have one - I'll grow thistles, cultivate them, find out
how many kinds there are and who are their
relatives. Meanwhile,
I'm happy to draw thistles with oil pastels; this one
is about as tall as a three-year-old boy, and bears two
superbly purple blooms, one
just opening and one still a bud. There's a name for every kind of
leaf I know so I ought to be able to describe their leaves but alas,
I don't know the name for the kind a thistle-leaf is; it's long and
jagged and perky and the purple
bloom is about three times as bright as the leaf and
about a third its size. And doesn't it
rhyme with whistle? Before
I left the dining room to come in here and write this, I was
listening to some guy singing reggae on the radio and
whistling reggae; that
is the song
of the thistle.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008



would have been the word for the sky just
moments ago. Now it is jet
black and the lights of the houses on the
steep hills so near make it seem there are
space ships looming close. I go out into the yard,
the patio behind the building, smiling that it feels
just the same as it did when I was a kid and would
walk out the kitchen door at night when
everyone else was asleep. It feels not
dangerous but daring, and as I did then I wonder
if I could make a nest out here and bundle up and sleep
under the stars. Of course there are no stars to be seen but
after all I do know they're up there. And of course I
come back in and head straight for bed. And little as I
liked that lonely life I wish sometimes to be
back there in that brass bed. I did not like it but I
knew I was home. Now I don't know where home is and
everything smells strange - we patients shit and fart and
the workers spray stuff to kill the odor. They don't know
I guess that lighting a match and blowing it out would
do it better. The stuff they spray merely turns the
unpleasant into the
unnatural. But never mind, the
sky is the same sky and the stars I can't see now are
the same ones I actually could see then. I remember
standing on the porch in my
Dr. Dentons learning
the big and little dippers and how to find the
North Star. Well, maybe I can't find home but on clear nights
I can still find the North Star. So part of my address remains
what it was when I was first memorizing it in 1930: North America,
Planet Earth, The Solar System, The Milky Way Galaxy, The
Universe! That should
take care of it.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I cough from somewhere deep down, making
a noise, not a
joyful one. "Are you okay?"
inquires a passing nurse, but emulates
Pilate and goes on by while I
go on coughing. After a while I
stop coughing so I guess you could say her treatment