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the ecstasy of melancholy

Riding my bicycle up Clement, just above Lincoln Park, I was arrested by a posse of small birds.

Detained for a moment or two, I was released after showing i.d. and assuring the authorities my intentions were peaceful, that I only wanted to continue my ride to The Great Highway and beyond.

The fearless little black birds went back to their business.

The incident put me in mind of William Carlos Williams, and his poem "To Waken an Old Lady".

I'd taken a poetry class in college and an older student, born in New Jersey, showed the class his birth certificate, signed by Dr. Williams. 

At several places during my long ride, I thought of the man. 

After Whitman, he is our great ecstatic poet.

There's no ecstacy without melancholy I thought, resting after the steep climb from The Great Highway up Balboa, remembering the highs and lows of Williams' writing and thinking how his mind might have worked.

How small the black birds are, how unafraid!

And now the revelation by neuroscience that the smaller you are, the more you live in the moment.  


easter egg hunt

A 31-foot bronze statue of Confucius, installed less than four months ago in front of the National Museum in Beijing, disappeared overnight.

"All I can tell you is that I came to work in the morning and it was gone," a guard said.

Ai Weiwei, activist artist, detained April 3rd by Chinese officials while boarding a plane in Beijing bound for Hong Kong, has not been seen since.

Friends disappear, little towns vanish, we can't find our keys or our passports. Finally, at a certain age, time itself hides behind a veil.

And now the neuroscientist's tell us that "we are not conscious of the actual moment of the present. We are always a little late."

So today I start with the idea of disappearance in the belief that something's there. I'll get down on my knees if I have to and look around for what's missing, what wants to be found.

Under the big sky, amidst the wildflowers, at the base of the yucca.

In the country I know but can't recognize.


Monsieur Ambivalence: a sighting

Yes, most assuredly, it was he, Monsieur Ambivalence, reportedly in Autun, walking toward some secret assignation, carrying papers, about which there is much speculation, in his small black leather briefcase. 

There is said to be a great work inside, a masterpiece perhaps.

Notoriously furtive, a champion of disapperance, jealous guard of his personal privacy, aware of the great gift he carries and its possible import to humanity, Monsier Ambivalence eluded our correspondant somewhere near the cathedral.


the essential uselessness of some things

An onion, a bowl, a spoon. Useful things, the distance say between a potter and a poet, though one may be, at times, the other.

Some people eat poems, as instructed by William Carlos Williams.

Everything pictured here has a point to its life, a meaning. The bowl is especially beautiful, made by a woman skilled in both the making of bowls and of good food, the spoon a necessary accessory.

Blessed also are the ones who empty the bowl.

I've always liked what Gary Player, the great golfer, said when asked what he'd learned after spending nearly a lifetime in golf: 'that I know a whole lot about nothing.'

Now that's the spirit.


lyrica, a preview

Yesterday at the San Francisco Institute of Art, poet Michael Hannon was filmed reading poems for a documentary film being made on his and artist William Wiley's long and fruitful collaboration, "My Mother Walked Out."

Art students had made cardboard posters of Hannon's lyrica poems in shadowy arial type.

No arrests were made.

ifsfpublishing is said to be bringing out an edition of Hannon's lyrica poems, 'insects gathered at a crack of sap, blood, trail of crumbs' as one savant called them, in the not very distant future.