Joan sends this poem as an example of what this week at Napa may have been about.
Claudia Rankine says to always assume your audience is smarter than you are when you write, or at least smarter than you suspect. I love how Lawrence Ferlinghetti uses the double meaning of performing "above the heads of his audience."
Constantly risking absurdity
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
to start her death-defying leap
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
When I came to the computer this morning to post, I had remembered that a friend of mine used to give out poems of a poet during the sixties. She would stand in Sausalito at the ferry and hand them out as people went on and off the boat. My memory is that Michael McClure was the poet so I went to his book, Specks, and opened to this poem. The magic of performance is in the air.
Houdini gave an object to the audience. While he was not looking, it was hidden. Houdini then walked, without hesitation to the individual concealing the object. Looking into the auditorium, it had been clear to him where the object was, as the center of a rose is obvious when we look at the petals.
The postures of those who turned away from the object, and the unintentional empathy of those who leaned toward it, were visible to Houdini. He read bodies.
May we all live with that kind of sensitivity of today, moving ever more clearly toward the center of the rose, the center of our purpose, and letting the petals of worry, hesitation and distraction fall gently away.
I was reading an article on Grace Paley on Wikipedia today and when I came to the word housewife it was highlighted so I could click on it and find out what it was. I know that the housewife may be obsolete but surely the term is in common usage and is known without a link. I find it irritating how much is explained and linked, but this seems ridiculous, and maybe I show myself a product of the 1950's in assuming everyone knows Ozzie and Harriet, and Father Knows Best.
I continue to wonder why a state with the money and resources of the state of CA can't provide more services and is continually in a panic over finances. The Republicans in CA have vowed they will not raise taxes, and yet, California currently spends less per enrollee in Medi-Cal than any other state spends on their Medicaid program, and reimbursements to providers are among the lowest in the nation. It's been about eight years since the last rate increase.
I would think we could agree on this issue. The state of CA is going to have to find a way to increase taxes. I was just in St. Helena for six days. The traffic along Highway 29 was bumper to bumper each way, all through the day. The tourists are here. Increase the tax on hotels, restaurants, wine, but do something. This is ridiculous. There is money in CA. It is time for it to cover the basics of a civilized society. All right, let's pretend we are civilized, and get the Republicans to compromise on this issue and get some money in the coffer, for the sake of us all.
Supposedly people have cut back on driving because of the price of gas. There is no evidence of that where I live. I went out to the store. All is bumper to bumper from the freeway, past where I live, and most likely to the beach. This was at 2:30 in the afternoon. The gas station was packed with cars.
The West Marin bus sat at the junction waiting for passengers. It held three people and most likely traveled westward with no more.
I know people are suffering, but, from this location, on a beautiful sunny day, I see the road filled with people on their way to fun, games, picnics, rest, and relaxation at the beach.