Buddhism at Millennium's Edge - Poems 1

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so good evening everybody
my name is norman fischer and cohabit the san francisco zen center and it is my great pleasure tonight to welcome all of you to the second
lecture of our year-long series titled buddhism and millenniums edge
last week professor robert turbin gave us the kickoff lecturer at the series and he reminded us that although the idea of the year two thousand as the millennium
is only a human construct which all a certain number of humans
constructed not everybody necessarily
still there is it all of us a very deeply embedded notion that our consciousness of a millennial possibility
a vision of a world in which there can be peace and justice in a way of living on the earth with compassion and awareness
i think all of us are hoping for this and many of us are trying to work toward it
and i believe and i hope very much that buddhism has a part to play in the challenges that lie before us
it is in this spirit that we are very glad to be able to bring you this year a number of really remarkable speakers each one a buddhist teacher each one with a uniquely modern and millennia old translation for our time
of this noble tradition tonight's speaker who i will introduce in a moment gary snyder has been for nearly half of our century one of the world's strongest voices for this new
and very very old way of looking at things later this month
i think the last weekend at the month we'll be hearing from zen priest naturalist and novelist peter matheson
following peter will be a jon kabat-zinn joanna macy natalie goldberg sharon salzberg joseph goldstein tension anderson david white permit children and ed brown each of the speakers will offer a public talk here and the
church on a friday night followed by an all day saturday workshop so that you can get a chance to explore and digest the important messages that they will be bringing us
if you haven't already signed up for more of these events check the tables outside both the church here in the church and and is end of a green gulch were almost all the workshops are being held have limited seating and the events are selling up
acura gulch in recent years we have renovated our
meditation hall
and now we really need to build some staff housing and your dollars tonight will help us do that
so if you've never come to one of our temples
please come whenever you feel like it on these saturday and sunday especially
come whatever your religious affiliation is or isn't and consider yourself as of tonight personally invited
no i really am
quite thrilled actually to be able to introduce someone whom i admire very very much
who has been for most of my life a personal hero of mine and if so many of my contemporaries
i think that many of us here tonight could say as i can say that my life would not have taken the shape that it has
were it not for the vision and courage i found in my early twenties in the words and deeds of gary snyder
we can say that gary snyder is a great american poet
the widely anthologized and taught his work is key and representative for american poetry in the second half of our century
we can say that that would certainly be true but that would not even be half the story i think
throughout his career gary has returned the role of the poet to its ancient human roots
poet as maker poet as spell weaver poet as social and religious visionary
his lifetime work with an interest in asian languages and literature especially japan native peoples in their ways ecology and mountaineering buddhism community organizing and the building of alternative lifestyles have made him
what are the grandfathers of a new culture
a leader creator and continuous inspiration
for an america that simply did not exist
before he with many of his friends and associates and colleagues brought it into being
and those of us who are fortunate enough to know him personally can attest to the fact that he has somehow managed to work all of this out
quite naturally
and easily without losing his native friendliness and simplicity of her sense of family and fun
so it is really a great honor for me tonight to present to you
appeal it surprised when a poet and author of the recent lifetime master poem mountains and rivers without end
time buddhist meditator and sage
ecologist naturalist essayist
ne'er do well dharma bums zero
distinguished university of california davis professor
scholar translator husband father community leader in friend please everybody let's give a millennium ending welcome
to gary snyder
thank you very much for you normally
soca to normal fischer i was charming
really my wife says to me when even fell down just do one thing well
might be a good husband
georgia is a real pleasure to need to be able to do just so on behalf of of zen center
ah student housing a green gulch and other needs and are remembering back you know it just feels like yesterday when no amount of law dalenberg in alan watts and i were sitting around in allen's house over him hosted valley marine county
probably about ninety fifty two joking saying yeah some day there's gonna be a zendo in kansas city ah ha ha
we could never imagine that you all be careful what you wish it might come true
i am i remember driving up to muir beach in my old nineteen thirty seven pattern with some of these characters going down the hill and looking at the wheel ranch i'm not kidding i really said this out we were looking at the wheel right branch and i said to plod wouldn't that make a great place to have a similar
monastery cares about nineteen fifty four
i'd also like to acknowledge this beautiful space ah does unitarian church i i think this must be at least the fourth time that i've written here read poetry in here and on the last time was for the sierra club
ah so many uses
well okay the millennium my read my presentation tonight i called it poems and stories and that's a fair enough way to describe it it's to be three parts ah
dealing with some ideas about the millennium and which millennium it might be
secondly awesome tributes and a few life and death points
and third i'm going to do a few more points of my own and and will reach point by some other people do and then i'm going to do again am
a performance of the long one of the longer points and mountains and rivers volumes which i am working on learning how to do i'm going to do the mountain spirit point again
ah so how many of you have earned be do the mountain spirit
that's not too many and i'm getting better at it too
so let's relax and see what happens here
entering the fifty year millennium
but saw say that we're about to enter not the twenty-first century but the fiftieth millennium
since the various cultural calendars hindu jewish islamic christian japanese are each within the terms of their own stories we can ask what calendar would be suggested to us by the implicit narrative of euro american science since it is science
that provides so much of our contemporary educated worldview
we might come up with a homo sapiens calendar and that might well start about forty thousand years before the present p before the present back in the dravidian or ignition era when the human tool kit already long sophisticated
began to be decorated with graphs and emblems when figurines were produced not for practical use but apparently for magic and beauty forty thousand years ago roughly
rethinking our calendar in this way is made possible by the research and discoveries of the last century in physical anthropology paleontology archaeology and cultural anthropology
the scholars of hominid history are uncovering a constantly larger past in which the earlier members of our species continually appear to be smarter more accomplished more adept and more complex than we had previously believed we humans are
constantly revising the story that we tell about ourselves the main challenge is to keep this unfolding story modestly reliable
one of my neo pagan friends and ethno botanist and a pre historian complaints about how the christians have carelessly appropriated his sacred solstice ceremonies he says are for tree of lights and gifts has been swept into an orgy of consumerism
no longer remembered as the sign of the return of the sun and he says people have totally forgotten that the gifts brought from the north by santa claus or spiritual map material and his red clothes white trim round body in northern habitat shows that he read
presents the incredibly psychoactive mushroom amanita was scarier
my fridge is one of several poet scholars that i know who studied deep history he turned that they prefer to pre-history deep history in this case that of europe for clues and guides to understanding the creatures that we are
and how we got that how we got here the better to steer our way into the future such studies are especially useful for artists
i went to set to france the summer before last to further pursue my interest in the upper paleolithic southwest europe has large areas of karst limestone plateau which allow for caves by the thousands some of them enormous quite a few were decorated by upper paleolithic people
with the help of the poet and the paleo art historian clayton eshelman my wife carole and i visited many sites and so a major sampling of the cave art of southwest europe in the dordogne on and in the pyrenees places like peshmerga cognac the all the hotel moscow
the cave art with his finger tracings engravings hand stencils outline drawings polychrome meetings flourished from ten thousand to thirty five thousand years ago ten thousand to thirty five thousand years ago
the paleolithic cave and portable art of europe thus constitutes a twenty five thousand a year long continuous artistic and cultural tradition
the people who did this were fully almost sapiens and it must be clearly stated not ancestors just of the people of europe but in a gene pool that old to some degree in ancestors of everyone everywhere the art that they left us is a heritage for the people of all the work
but this tradition is full of puzzles the artwork is often placed far back in the caves it almost inaccessible places to quality fluctuate wildly animals can be painted with exquisite attention but there are almost no human figures and the ones that are there
are strangely crude almost no plants are represented birds and fish turn up only two or three times one cave provides an exception many animal paintings otherwise quite beautifully finished appear unfinished with the feet left off
the theories and explanations from the twentieth century art experts the great up a bro you and the redoubtable andres mittwoch were on don't quite work the hunting magic theory which holds that the paintings of animals were to increase the take in the hunt is countries
acted by the fact that the majority of animal representations on the cave walls the greatest single animal represented his wild horses which were not a big food item
and that the animals most commonly consumed red deer and reindeer we know this from the bombers that we find in their campsite we have a pretty good estimate of what they were actually mostly eating
these are depicted in very small numbers and the horse at that time of course was not yet domesticated so why this fascination with horses
my wife suggests that maybe the artists were a guild of teenage girls
the other most commonly represented animals the huge pleistocene bison the orach or wild cattle which was still living in the forests of northern europe up until the sixteenth century were apparently too large and too dangerous to be a major hunting prey ibex show me
me leopard occasionally show up but they were never made your food items
there are also pictures of animals long extinct now the woolly rhinoceros to mammoth cave bear the giant doc
in the art of early civilized times civilized times there was a fascination with large predators in particular the charismatic anatolian lions and the brown bears for which the word arctic derives big predators were not scarce in
the paleolithic they were truly abundant but sketches or paintings of them are scarce it only caves but one it was the bears who first used the caves and in some they entirely covered the walls especially to keep called roof in new york with long scratches
for a quarter of a mile long scratches down the whole wall on all sides seeing this may have given the first impetus to human beings to do their own graffiti so maybe we learned art from the bears
the theory that these works were part of a shamanistic and ceremonial cultural practice likely enough but still just speculation
there have been attempts to read some narratives out of certain graphic combinations but that cannot be tested
after several decades of research in comparison it came to see that cave art began with hand stencils that's putting your hand against the wall and then spitting red or black
of water with england in it are blowing it through a little a keen to grow bamboo tube so that you make a stencil of your hand on the wall
there's a lot of those in the western hemisphere to
that forty thousand years ago crude and gravies and hand stencils were the beginning of all this and then the art progressively evolved through time to come to an artistic climax at the great key
even the dordogne called last goal this most famous of caves was discovered during world war two
generally i just felt to contain the most remarkable and lovely of all the world's cave art the polychrome paintings here are dated at around seventeen thousand years before the present
last summer the summer before last i had the rare good fortune to be admitted to the fray grot of lascaux the real lasko as well as into the replica which is in itself excellent and is what most of the tourists get to see only a handful of people a year are now allowed into the
real lasko i can testify to the magic of lascaux
there's a fifteen foot long painting of an orac arking across the ceiling twelve feet above the floor
and many other things a sort of lascaux style is then perceived as coming down in other later caves excellent work up to the subtle dwyer in the neil keith in the early age david at about nine thousand years before the present
after neil nine thousand years ago cave art stops being made and that date corresponds with the end of the ice age and the transformation of the ecology of southwest europe from something rather like montana
more into what it is today more hardwoods
less open grasslands warmer climate and the another disappearance of the larger game they just moved on way back up north and they are still up there in northern russia and in northern scandinavia of course except for the ones that went extinct
oh many caves in clovis stuff so people's lifestyles and cultures totally changed and read and adapting to a whole new ecology a smaller scale hunting smaller scale fishing nets a fish netting fish traps
i'm much more diverse and in some ways more sophisticated hunting and gathering system
oh and the many kids post up from landslides and cajuns and got lost
so till quite recently everyone was pretty comfortable with this evolutionary chronology are starting with crude paintings and moving up to really elegant paintings which fits our contemporary wish to believe that things get better through time
but buddy nineteen ninety four some enthusiastic spirit geologists found a new case on the are desh river a tributary of the wrong squeezing through narrow cracks and not expecting much these were three
ah young people in the early twenties but went out looking for caves every weekend as their hobby
squeezing through narrow cracks and not expecting much they almost tumbled right into a fifty foot high hall and a quarter mile of passage ways of late chambers full of magnificent depictions that with the equal of anything at lascaux there are a few animals shown here
we're totally new to our experience of cave art images of woolly rhinoceros the pleistocene mainland lion which are rare in other caves are the most numerous this site is now known after the lead discover as the chauvet cave
the french scientists up in paris did their initial carbon dating were puzzled looked again and then finally had to conclude that these marvelous paintings were about thirty three thousand years old sixteen thousand years older than those at lascaux almost as do
instant in time from lesko as law school is from us the idea of a progressive history to cave art is totally in question and a new and again larger since of the human story has opened up for us and the beginnings of art are pushed even further back in time
i wrote in my notebook
with the twisting kelsey and cave walls a sea of fishers calcite concretions stalactites old class scratchings of keith bears floors of firewalls and slides then the human finger tracing is in clay early scribblings scratched him lines and skin
you little engravings of f dumb creatures are just abstract signs lions crossed over lines images over images out of this ancient swirl of graffiti rise up the exquisite figures of animals swimming dear with the antlers cocteau a pride of lions
with noble profiles fat wild horses great buddy bison huge horned wild boasts eight learned ilk painted and powerfully outlined creatures alive with the life that aren't gifts
on the long lost mineral walls below ground crisp economical swift sometimes hasty fitting into the space sitting over other paintings spread across outlined in calligraphic confident curving lines not photo realistic
but true
to have done this
took a mind that can clearly observe and old within it a wealth of sounds smells and images and then carry them deep underground and we create them the reasons include our understanding
for sure the effort took organization and planning to bring it off we have found hundreds of stone lamps and the evidence of lighting supplies
like wix traces of grown pigments that we know sometimes you came from very far away and the people must have gather supplies of food dry grass forbidding pools for the scaffolding and somebody was doing arts administration
that's true
one important reminder here then is that there is no progress in art it is either good or it isn't
and there there's probably no progress in religion
art that moves us today can be from anywhere from any time
the cave paintings have their own roles to play back in the late bill in the late pleistocene having been protected by the steady temperatures of the underground they returned to human eyes again today and across the millennia they can move us know master realist painter of
the last five hundred years could better those painted critters of the past they totally do what they do without room for improvement
this is quite true in certain ways for all the arts and for our spiritual practices
what was the future going to be is a question we want to ask ourselves one answer might be the future wants to have been further progress and improvement over our present condition
this is more than question now
and the deep past confounds the future by suggesting how little we are agreed on what is good
elvis question about painting human beings
if our ancient rock artists skipped out on painting human figures
it just may be that they knew more than enough about themselves and could turn their attention wholeheartedly to the non-human other in any case the range of their art embraces abstract and unreadable signs and graphs and originally portrayed world of what today we would call
lol faunal biodiversity
they gave us a picture of their animal environment with as much pride and art as if they were giving us their very selves
i think maybe in some way they speak from a spirit that is in line with doch ganz comment we studied self to forget the cells when you forget the self you can become one with all the other phenomena at any rate they forgot to paint themselves
we have no way of knowing what the religious practices the rituals or the verbal arts of thirty five thousand years ago might have been
it's most likely that the languages of that time were in no way inferior in complexity sophistication or richness to the languages spoken today if you doubt that just remember that are forty thousand year old fifty thousand year old homo sapiens were by
almost indistinguishable from us today they had larger brains probably and seems to be the case and maybe the world with larger and statute maybe they're smarter
but if what does dressed up in a suit or address walking down the street they would be unremarkable in a modern city
ah if we're talking about a larger homo ministry were talking about half a million years so you know i'm talking about forty thousand years it's just very very recent
and so languages can be expected to have been fully fully developed already by then i get this opinion incidentally in a recent personal communication from the imminently was william bright
build bright and it's not far fetched to think that if the paintings were so good the point is and songs must have been of equal quality so i imagine the myths and tales of people places in animals back then in poetry or song i fancy wild horse chance
salutes as are sung in some parts of africa to each creature little lyrics that intensify some element in a narrative a kind of deep song called the own door to go together with deep history or on the other side lots of little eyes in haiku
it was all however in the realm of or reality no writing which as we will know can support a very rich and intense literary culture
just pure or ala de know writing that also interacts with dance and song and story those with the arts of earlier times in such our our prime high arched today opera and ballet
today then
the franco germanic english and creole known as the english language
has become the world's second language and as such is a major bearer of diverse literary cultures the english language will be in the future truly a host to a multicultural rainbow realm of writings the rich history of this english language tradition is like a kiva full of more
to be studied and treasured by writers and scholars wherever they may find themselves on the planet this language that we speak now will also continue to diversify to embrace words and pronunciations moving it farther and farther from london over time
and even as i deliberately take my membership to be north american and feel distant from european culture i count myself fortunate to have been more native speaker of english such flexibility such variety of vocabulary such a fine solar system
and we'll look forward to its future changes performance poetry storytelling fiction they're all still alive and well or reality and song and poetry will be with us as long as we're here
and as i said there may be no progress and religion in practice or as the dharma either there was an ancient buddha there were archaic bodhisattvas all that we have to study of them is their shards and their paintings we can try
try to hear their teachings coming through paintings of liar and bicycle this is now part of what our past will be and we can also wonder through what images our voices are practices will carry to the people of ten thousand years from
now through the swirls of still standing in freeway off ramps and on-ramps through the ruins of dams for those future people will surely be there listening for some faint call for was when they are entering the sixtieth millennium

our thinking and the research i put into this
and i'm continuing to work on
is part of a of a new project of poetry and on reflection
with a nineteen ninety four a trip i took in southern africa and botswana and zimbabwe with my sons
looking at the a wildlife and northern botswana i was very vast area of the wireless the wildest wildlife left in africa
where i saw with my contemporary eyes the profiles at dawn of giraffe
eskimo are asking eskimo l
the profiles of giraffe elephant
lion sometimes baboons
impala us
in other kinds of the antelopes walking across the sunrise horizon in a procession such as you see painted in the caves of thirty thousand years ago
ah elephants in particular have been such a powerful image in the human mind for so long look at all the lion and elephant imagery in the buddhist art of india for example in the art and the literature of india the booting gives the lion's roar
a lion's roar of the dharma amy that doesn't mean much to you do have heard a lie in anbar
and then you get the sense of what authority is suggested by that anyway here's a point from africa that you can see the connections here of in the reference here is to of the story of the greek story about arguments in her pool
deep in the forest i'll just go over that story a little bit
one of the stories about the art of optimists be
in some versions virgin goddess or not so in others are the huntress the lady of the wild the mistress of the wild
a who loves hunting with her beau also known in the lab was diana
she has a pool deep in the wilderness that she prepares to once a year
after apparently a pretty rowdy year and the pool restores her virginity
it's the pool of arguments
every year she goes back there
i'm so a hunter named actaeon was deer hunting with his homes one day and as he plunged deeper deeper into the forest and pursuit of a steak or as we would say a buck
ah he saw this glimmer of a body through the trees and letting his dogs go for a moment he crept near and he saw artmous they could take me a bath and then she saw him
and she said ah so you've seen me naked
changed then
and the story goes on to tell how he with horror watched his hands turn into hooks and antlers begin to grow out of his forehead
and for here begin to roll over his body and he tried to talk but just sounds came out and then entire he started to run and as he ran his own dogs chased him and killed him
i wrote a little point about that
artemis so i saw you make it well go and get your goddamn virginity back me me i've got to feed my house

well this point is for an elephant
and i call it diana
but i spell it deanna d h y a is one of my favorite place dhyana meditation and diana
they have the old truck lurches into a glade and opening
there's a large wet elephant splashing gravely walking up and down a pool and out to the rough dirt track glistening shining back i want to see her
she's lifting from the water getting nearer
this is no place for us we go the truck ahead and go sheet pieces us her giant glistening body stays in mind that watches us from behind
sparse grassy cover a shrubby small tree forest scattered big trees mopani acacia crossed by well be creature ways on size pathways and elephant freeways to the east see a band of baboons sift through the woods
no payoff needed for them they go like the wind
a freshly broken tree arm bark munched by elephants elephant jawbone in the road pile after pile of don't huge piles holy shit
the melodic moments of hyenas at night the relentlessly social their boots woodlands begin now butterfly wings of the mopani leaves termite towers water in the soil and perfect elephant footprints in this ancient lake bed
sand the whole elephant footprint made up of many smaller sub subheads each etched in tiny lines semicircular dragging scooping marks in the sand of the trunk as a trails along
endless miles of sand many weeks inland is all an ancient beach soft faintly pink fine sand ghost waters in africa like long time
the great wild elephant herd of northern botswana with all it's done and tracks and broken trees and optimists bathing in her part
why super windy botswana a prominent in ninety four
so people moved through the landscape walking running on foot
quoting and cross referencing yet writing yet footnoting and a source of food and fiber of truth and value minding it
it was their minds

this series of readings i am going to say some time to take some questions if anybody wants to work harassed me about any of this
the second part tonight
it is as i said tributes and some points of life and death
these are out of the last year of our lives
and i'll read them now

this is the little prose poem i wrote on the death of allen ginsberg i call it allen ginsberg crosses over
mid march i heard from bob rosenthal that ellen wasn't feeling well that he was in the hospital or a checkup a cold bob and he explained that the combination of ellen's diabetes heart murmur problems and several different medications had coincided in such
a way to make him extremely the team and disoriented and then when i called alan at the hospital he told me he had been diagnosed with a recurrence of hepatitis c from years ago in india or mexico he was so dedicated that he wasn't able to talk very clearly
twenty two march nineteen ninety seven
about twenty days earlier than usual was the perfect actor known for cherry blossom viewing
a few friends came over to the house we heated up some saki set out on the porch to in gabon and have some sashimi as well the two thirteen year old girls robin and david's daughter micah amused themselves pounding on the trail poland as we gazed through the fully opened japanese
sokoto cherries and into the sunset sitting cross legged chatting on the board deck then the cordless phone trilled allen ginsberg in beth israel hospital calling me back this time wide awake to chat the phone the cordless phone
went around to several old friends talking with now revealing the flowers i can cherry blossoms falling young girls rising us on the deck
want to know saki and blossoms spilled show you
end of march i had a call from l and late at night he said that he had just been diagnosed with liver cancer and the doctors said that he had two to five months to live he also told me at that time that his affairs were in order he had decided his will
and that things were in that sense in good shape
and that he would be going home to his own apartment in a few days because there was nothing they could do for him in the hospital i told him i would come to new york and visit him in a few weeks it was a sweet conversation which he closed with a good bye that started gailey and ended with a little sob
a few more days went by and wondering if elon was back home yet i called again bill morgan in his office told me that ellen had come back had had a stroke the previous night and was right now in a coma he said ellen probably didn't have one than twenty four hours to live that was on the morning of for
monday april fourteenth they said delek rinpoche j was flying in from jewel heart in ann arbor
the next morning to thirty a m april fifth allen guide still in a coma
few days later i flew to illinois to give a talk
i wrote this haiku called reading buschel on a plane
between lectures this little seat by the window my hermitage
cut back cut back home had a call from guilloche who told me of chanting and sitting with ellen before and after he died he had no attachments ran for j said he was really ready to go to green party said
and this haiku came back to me by cure i
the day before yesterday crossed the mountains over there
in the full bloom of cherries

so early this fall
john hollander is a poet john hundred from mcgill contacted me and said he had been asked to give the memorial tribute to allen at the academy of arts and letters every fall when the academy of arts and letters means november they have a series of tribute to all their members who died every year with i get here course everybody
in the american academy is pretty old so a lot of people die every year
and that's how the admit new members
it's true this year six people in the literature division guide this year we will elect six more people that's when it works i always have to see number of people so john wrote we are called me or email me what he didn't write email me and he said would you like to contribute something to what i'm going to say
about ellen because i know that you were close to him and
you might have something you'd like to say that would be different for what i'd say well i'm sure what i would say would be different from which are home we say so i wrote this and i called it a few words from the west coast side
for allen ginsberg
in nineteen fifty five i was a graduate student in far eastern languages that u c berkeley living in a tiny cottage my connection to other writers was across the bay in san francisco and occasional visit to kenneth rexroth it's friday evenings or a meeting with jax
peiser in some north beach bar was quiet almost solitary life all that was changed one october afternoon when allen ginsberg turned up in my little house to quiz me about who i was who i knew what i wrote my politics my preferences my drugs i was
swept along by his works and relentless curiosity kenneth rexroth had taught him to look me up
at that time ellen was dressed like a fifties professor and he seemed ready to go get a university career and go straight but even as he tried to do a graduate semester at berkeley he was pulled partly by the events of that fall into the writing of hello
our whole bay area music and literature world began to change after the night he read that poem aloud in public
that was in october nineteen fifty five we had no sense their of how far those ripples might reach it was though it was enough that the semi underground black and white hipster gay and lesbian anarchist poets the nascent wilderness philosophers and the pacifist communists
it's that time and there were some found in owl indian alex person some winking story and intense critical intelligent warmly sexual whitman lee comrade style helen suddenly gave us all cheer in out of that king
a much greater spirit of community
six years later i was traveling all over india with alan dirt road buses sleeping and train stations tinting up with tibetans his patience and compassion and concern and total freedom from serious whining made him a lovely instructive companion
we took to the buddhism and hinduism have some of those we met because of their personal clarity and warps not for ideology or firms or from some spiritual neediness he stayed on in banaras but came to join me back in japan a year later as usual always ready to try something
he tripped along with me to the date tako je zendo the d'etat g so those zendo
where i got him to see if he liked the cool grigor he was comfortable with asia and as a tuned to which manners is anyone i've seen
the agony yeah talking hot dreams and visions yes but also a lot of surprisingly quiet and contemplate of days together elegant those days was physically strong in nineteen sixty five he and i roped up inclined to ten thousand foot snow peak in the north
cascades washington glacier peak chopping steps and reading between crevices this was part of a seven day high country backpack trip we did
ten years later than that nineteen seventy five he was my lab partner in the sierra nevada and he's been a good part of the summer of seventy five carry is lumber pounding nails as a worker on his own looking at and job he is still remembered as a person of great availability and sweetness by working people here in the uber
country some of them who never knew him as a literary figure it all
in my younger son dollars in that cabin
that ellen built where there is an old construction wheelbarrow leaning against the woodshed on the bottom of it is painted ginsburg
ellen was a comrade a partner a teacher in urban smarts a role model and also a caution me i'm not gay
but i loved him

another person who died this year who has been very important to many of us
whom some of you may not know as much about was james laughlin
james laughlin was the founder of a new direction press as a young harvard student nineteen thirty six thirty seven
ah writing poetry and i think editing the harvard poetry magazine at that time laughlin went over the paris to look up as repugnant gertrude stein
and pound befriended it out and stein lock befriended him and often asked pound or what should i do not happen that james laughlin was the heir to quite a bit of money jones laughlin steel pittsburgh
so bouncer to him publish books published good literature published our twentieth century poetry
so jay is everybody calls him called him i went back to the united states to finished up at harvard in the took some of the money that he could get hold up from his family and started a new directions publishing house in new york city which became are one of the most influential for those of us who
a the attention to it publishes in the country the publisher of william carlos williams as a pound of gertrude stein
laughs are countless european in south american poets new prose and poetry over the cakes and it still is going
but there are other publishers who carry on as well as new you carry on the kind publishing now what j started new directions it was the only publishing house on a nationwide scale that was publishing any of those things
nationwide publisher jail often was i first heard the name of james laughlin while i was a student in oregon i'd been reading ezra pound's selected letters this is the memorial the tribute that i wrote for jail off as my reading in eyes and these attributes this is the tribute i wrote for jane and i couldn't go to his memorial ceremonies back east data
so i wrote this this was this wall of october this year
i had been reading ezra pound's selected letters i'd been drawn to pound because of my interest in east asian art then went from there to pounds poetry then i discovered what eliot weinberger calls the list the list of the new directions writers and that brought me to the rest of twentieth century
a modernist writing and were dahlberg rimbaud gertrude stein all goodman juna barnes william carlos williams so many others were the new writers whose week we sailed it
later as a graduate student in east asian languages at berkeley and meeting the artists and poets of bay area i learned more of j through kenneth rexroth kenneth it turned out new laughlin quite well they skied and sometimes climbed together in new directions was kenneth mean publisher now kenneth always had
terrible things to say about as report not just about pounds politics but also about his poetry pond and rexroth two very different men
but j was the friend publisher and cali to both and he clearly liked him each for their spirits for their own special qualities i just became aware of law flynn's mahayana or my translation big open spirit in this way
i think it was darnell and who connected me with j they were all at a party in san francisco one of those years in the early sixties when i was living in japan a friend wrote me to say that over drinks dawn of gray fox press daniela is still alive here in san francisco
and set to j why did you take a good look at the work of gary snyder and supposedly james had replied those beat generation guys they never enter their mail
at any rate one day of killed told i received a note from james lofton of new directions asking would i show him some point
i sent the manuscript of the back country than j accepted it by the time we had completed the transaction and the book was published he wrote to say i am glad you're a person who answers their mail
that was the beginning of a long association with a i finally met him while on a brief trip to the united states was graciously taken to lunch met the whole remarkable staff of new directions entered into a productive friendship in which i always remain properly awed by the
honor of being with such an imminent press and under the wing of such a great and sophisticated literary man who was also six foot four tall
i returned from east asia to live in the west coast and nineteen sixty nine a few more trips around the country hanging out in new york city hearing or tales of publishers from other writers i came to realize indeed are lucky i was to be with laughlin the steadiness the integrity the respect for writers a culture that pervade
did the whole office day and i kept up our correspondence as he did with so many and intelligent quirky friendless friendly unpretentious exchange one time i felt moved to write him and tell them how grateful i was that is press was there for me to work with
we also shared an interest in the cultures of india and east asia the my knowledge of mediterranean culture in the classics was scanty laughlin poetic engagement with classical references and themes fascinated and instructed me
i saw jay at work a few times once when i was staying as a guest in the bank street apartment he came in as i was leaving we overlapped for half a day he was dictating the letter into a little tape recorder even as we chatted i never wrote a letter to j that he didn't answer looking back i realize
that that letter writing spirit belongs to the old days an old days of which i am part of to a time when people took pleasure in writing letters by hand and we're gratified truly to find others who would be timely and generous in sharing their thoughts and feelings in this medium
but grace and appropriate etiquette good form and good playfulness conviviality and integrity are timeless j laughlin school elegant understated wit and his alertness came out of a poet's mind came out of wild mind she was a fine skeeter
i would like to claim him as an herb me mountain man
no i'm going to read you a few points by jail offline he was so modest about his own poetry through his all life that he published never feel his own press or through little tiny presses on the side and you never advertised anything he wrote but he was very good
and he and he was a great lover of women
why do you never entered my dreams
nightly i await you but you do not come
the lamp burgers and table is spreads fuller knee and wine is decanted yet it is dawn and you have not appeared are you afraid of my dreams they are loving and will not harm you or do you in sleep go visiting the dreams of a

two spoons
after we have made love and are sleepy weaker up together like two spoons each sitting closely in to the other my arm is around you you my hand holding your breast i can even feel your feet with my toes your long here is bit
between your back and my chest i whispered very softly into your ear for a moment you squeeze my fingers and we fall asleep

the goddess
i have seen the goddess with my mortal eyes they were filming down the street it was meryl streep
she was attended by five trailers eight trucks thirty technicians and four policemen
the whole street was illumine with a heavenly blase she walked up the steps of the house four times and i know that she saw me and smiled at me she knew that i was her devil t she went into the house but they said the next
scene was inside and i couldn't go in will i ever see her again my goddess but it doesn't really matter i saw her and she knew me

loves altar
let me bow down before the altar of love let me genuflecting that sacred place it's useless for you to protest that this shrine is ordinary in common to all your sex for me it's the locus of the sacrament the
altar where the rich will of the mysteries are enact

what do you smiling about my dear wife asked me this morning at breakfast nothing i said nothing in particular oh she said you're back at them again
imagine that you are a reincarnation of the buddha
when we did that when to you
this is good you can all over this one
what are you smiling about my dear wife asked me this morning being a breakfast nothing i said nothing in particular oh she said your back if that again imagining your a reincarnation of the buddha
and one more my game off when which actually is sort of partially dedicated to me to call my old grey sweater not dedicated but i in the point
my old grey sweater in the back of the closet what will you do with it the one with buttons down the front that heavy one i used to wear when i could still cut firewood what will you do with it the salvation army i guess some worthy and needy man can still get a lot
of use out of it but you know i'd really rather not
please take it out into the woods and nail it to that big oak gary jokes that he wants to enter the food chain he wants to be eaten by a bear i'd like my sweater just to rot away in the woodlands let the birds pecked at it and build the
please mail me to the big oak
and i went to finish with j laughlin by reading a point that i wrote for j that dumb i wrote six or seven years ago while i was reading the manuscript of is collected coins and was so struck by his
beautiful love points for all the affairs of cat
and wondering you know how he had the nerve to actually write those points and publish them

there's a real tension between truth and safety

so this is a point i said i could never pull i can never published this while jays alive or even read a lot so i've never read this aloud republic that has never been published is my first opportunity to share with anybody it's called what to tell still
reading the manuscript pages of law flynn's collected poems with an eye to ready the comment how warmly j speaks of part i think back to
at twenty three i sat in a lookout cabin in grey whipping wind is the north of the northern cascades and wonder if i should go visit pound in st louis but st elizabeth's
and studied chinese at berkeley and went to japan instant j puts his love for women his love for love his devotion his peen is causing us pain right out there
i'm sixty three now and i'm old and i'm on my way to pick up my ten year old stepdaughter and drive the car pool i have just finished a five page letter to the county supervisors dealing with a former supervisor now a paid lobbyist who has
twisted the facts and gets paid for his lies do i have to deal with this creep
i do
james laughlin manuscript sitting on my desk i read them late last night prepared to write a comment and burt watson this book translations of sushi your next in line for a comment on the back september heat the watershed institute meets planting more
or work with the blm and we have visitors from china land managers want to see how us locals are doing with our plan editorials in the paper are against us a botanist is looking at the rare plants in the marsh i think of how j writes stories of his lovers in his points
put in a lot it touches me so stubbornly courageous or foolish to write so much about your lover's when you're a long time married man then i think what do i know about what to say or not to say
say what to tell to whom and when still
thank you

in fighting finally finishing with a few points
i asked some other people for this section
is rick fields here
rick fields
are you here rick
just in case
i would ask rick's permission to read from his recent book fuck you cancer
but i don't think we could object when reading it and so i'm going to read a few points from this
rick feels says i'm sure many of you know rick
he's the editor of the yoga journal he's been the editor shambala son he's done good work in his coast and west coast in colorado they used for years wonderful man
and he recently published it's just a little book called for you cancer
this point he's got here we go
there was the cloth slight irritating no more than trying to clear my throat of some minor an obstruction
a test for tuberculosis negative for ulcers negative x-rays negative allergies negative tropical disease specialist negative psychics came up with disastrous dramatic past lives
but still recall persistent
one night i dreamed there was a nail lodged in my throat the next day heeding the call of the unconscious i saw an ear nose and throat man
a dryness in the lyrics nothing more
he gave me some pills and i went off to india reassure
on the guts of the ganges in varanasi chivas city just one hit of the children with the naked subdues and my voice broke to a froggy whispery croak
when i got back to the states i had a hard lymph node above my collarbone taken out and biopsied while the doctor and nurse listened and left that the o j trial on the radio i called next friday afternoon
i'm sorry he said it's not good
here we go i thought as the floor disappeared beneath me

petals for marshall
i spilled the flowers pale pink petals funny what can scare you in this world one day pale pink petals scattered on the table another day grey black pebbles three little shadows spilled scattered backlit or
on the shiny film there in the lower left low
i reach for your fingertips pale pink petals brush my cheek
this world funny how in the light of death everything shines

varanasi a nurse
passing by silver and gold sorry covered corpse doll why a hit twenty year old dharamshala girl says to me tibetans say when you see dead it's good luck
makes people pray

and may sixteenth nineteen ninety seven
on my fifty fifth birthday two years to the day from my first chemotherapy i'm still alive against all odds they say to celebrate i meditate for half a day on strange tibet and deities wrathful and peaceful who rise and fall
wall with my breath in emptiness
later in the day a dip in the to pacific a wave lifts me up turns me down
then a kayak in bolinas lagoon seals pop up in pairs like us curious inquisitive parking protective
two snowy egrets stand like sentries on stilts long next coiled strike like snakes floating aimlessly rising and falling water flashing from the curved blades what are the odds of me being here today golden sunlight jenna
cool breeze greenhills drifting with the tide from the rising sea

two chinese point
everyone's journey
no i'm sorry this is japanese this early sixteenth century japan everyone's journey
through the world is the same
so i am done with regrets
here on the plains of nasu
i placed my trust in do
and here's one by lipo me by only book called zazi on g t mountain
the birds have vanished down the sky
now the last cloud dreams away
we sift together the mountain and i
until only the mouth remains

give you one more from the west and then i'm going to move on to mountains and rivers about in this is quoted by
in necessity doing day
marcus his work is talking about blood and death and poetry actually he first quotes a woman for a lot more bella of the seventeenth century who dying in childbirth on the highway says the blood of my entrails covers the horse and the horse's hooves
the strike fire from the pitch
and then he quotes a recent young men from salamanca killed by a bowl who exclaimed my friends i'm dying my friends it goes badly
i've got three handkerchiefs inside me now and this i put it makes for

the long point mountains and rivers without in that i managed to find me bring out and fall of nineteen fifty and eighteen know maybe six fifty six twenty six
for me one of the most of interesting and challenging parts of it
that is the keystone one called the
mountain spirit
and it's a performance piece really so i'm going to perform it to notice to say it takes a bit of chianti intimate of voicing
in i'm still learning how to do it the point follows to some degree the structure of a japanese noh drama and it's those styles of charity and speaking retells the story of the know play no mumbai in north american terms the north american way to to
tell this story go like this
throughout western north america there are tales of mountain spirits sometimes fierce and jacket sometimes smooth and swedish rainbows sometimes seen as an all ragged woman now some years back in san francisco there was a poet who made his reputation large
me on the basis of a point that he had written about the mountain spirit even though he had not actually visit the mountains very much himself
so when we're sport decided to pay a visit to the unique groves of ancient bristlecone pine the oldest living beings in the world that are located in the remote upper elevations of the white indio mountains of eastern california you know where that is
after considerable travel he made his way into the white mountains and he set up camp after as it was getting dark is it happened it was also the time of the annual piercing good meteor showers which he also hoped to enjoy
while looking out over the desk landscape a voice came out of dark challenging him and then asked him to read aloud his famous poem on the mountain spirit
it was the mountain spirit that what to do you to the point about her
he promised he would do that at midnight and then he tried to put this strange encounter out of his mind at midnight however he was awakened he saw that his visitor was indeed the legendary mountain spirit so as the meteoric street to this guy he read his point to this mysterious personage and then
the two of them dance the dance so the bristlecone pine
there are stands of bristlecone pine pinus long i ever in the monks at the western edge of the great basin that contain individual trees which are dated well over four thousand and years old those that live on the bone white outcroppings of dolomite from the cambrian seabeds five hundred million years ago
go live to be honest
they are thought to be the most ancient of living beings
so this point does a kind of story
and is partly chanted partly some probably recite it