FIVE PORTRAITS IN MINIATURE
He makes no man his enemy.
he is not many men.
he is himself.
he helps himself.
his enemy is not many men.
he stands amongst many men.
he is himself amongst many men.
He comes from nowhere & says something.
he goes somewhere with nothing.
he says somewhere is nowhere & nothing is something.
he comes & goes.
he says he is somewhere you havent been.
he says you are somewhere else.
he is something for nothing.
He is never seen.
he is still away.
he is sometimes very still.
he arrived unannounced.
he is still unannounced.
he is never far away from stillness.
he sees the announcer.
He is the man who knows who sd it.
he is the man who says he knows.
he is the man who stays awake.
he knows the man.
he says the man doesnt know.
he is the man who does.
he is the man who doesnt.
He is the stranger who smiles.
he smiles at strangers.
he is strangely strong.
he has the strangest of smiles.
he has found a string.
he smells a rat.
he strings along.
first published in Mal Morgan's Parachute Poems, Melbourne, 1972]
The portraits are of Michael Dugan, Geoffrey Eggleston, Terry Gillmore, Nigel Roberts & Bill Beard.
I guess this is the ‘unutterable news that comes out of silence’ – the dead and the dying – Geoffrey is dead/Alison is dead; there is a meaningless private synchronicity in this coupling, for me.
Yesterday, I spent my lunchtime in a bookshop and sped-read Shelton’s biography, and afterwards searched his name in Google, and found your archive; I can’t bring myself to use the ‘b’ word. I am out-of-date since poetry in my poor fella country turned into a farce, or just seemed that way to me.
I thought I should write to you because I have always been ‘soft’ for you, and I think you are, and have always appeared to be, so non-judgemental, so inclusive.
Beyond that, you are spot-on about ‘The Crimson Jargon’. It was such a labour of love for Alison and even though I don’t have a copy, her images and Baldessin’s are inscribed in my neurons – nearly 40 years later. Also inscribed is the confrontation with the executive of RMIT that were trying to censor the publication. The only good thing about that is George Orwell’s (I am reading the thousand pages of his Essays etc in the ‘Everyman’ edition) central thesis that the only thing that separates the capitalist democracies from the totalitarian states is the principle, and passage, of free speech. The word, the word…
I still write poetry, and write (supposedly) for a living; although it’s time I was on the road again.
Anyway as Alison was dying I was writing this – I sent it to our son, that night. So for the record this is what was happening with me.
After four stubbies of Cooper's Pale Ale, I'm moved to send you what I wrote around 10am this morning. I know that it is not, expressly, particular to your mother but I was writing it at the time of her passing.
It is relevant because of her quality of soul. She perceived so much, as you know, through this opening. I should hope that we could speak more about this when we next meet.
Forgive the tone of what follows but I was writing it for common debate in a 'style' that I hoped could be in the public domain.
My son I cannot touch your grief or that of Ian and his sisters. However, I sincerely believe, that the sentiments expressed are something that she would have had 'some' sympathy for.
Whatever happened to the Holy Ghost? In my lifetime, which takes in more than half of last century, Jesus Christ and, to a lesser extent, God have had their names in 12pt. While the 'Ghost' seems to have been lurking, slinking in the footnotes, at best masquerading as the glue that holds that Trinity together. Why this pecking order when the Trinity is paradoxically and theologically inseparably separable? Is it because that now ‘science’ and ‘philosophy’ and the sneerers etc have decided for eternity that the soul does not exist, that God is dead even though the sun shines most days in this drought riven land. It appears that Jesus Christ is certainly dead despite resurrection rumours that he is cohabiting with Osiris in another universe. But is he really dead – I cannot resile from the reality that in the beginning there was the ‘word’, and in the end there will be the death of the ‘word’, and we’re not there, yet, even though we’re moving toward it with unseemly haste. I remember that my paternal grandmother had an embroidered plaque on her lounge room wall that said ‘God is Love’. At four, just able to read, it seemed so simple that I dared not ask what it meant and because, as I know now, it was of that class of knowledge that once known, seems to have been always known. I knew what it meant but cannot, even now, begin to articulate the full meaning of this artless, Blake-like profundity. It was as if its meaning was inscribed in its simplicity. What is this Ghost? On my reckoning it is love, is compassion, is the 2nd commandment which more than complements the 1st. It is what speaks to our poor lonely souls which do exist – it is a question of thirst, of listening, of being able to hear and feel, and be overcome and comforted.
And Jerome here is a little poem I wrote two days ago:
‘the Holy Ghost draweth with His love’
I faced the full moon rising in the east
And the Ghost was in me.
I know that this was the ‘love’
I sought in the wasted years.
 Meister Eckhart's Sermons / translated into English by Claud Field
Anyway dear Kris, I will send this in all its callow crassness, already regretting it. We rarely speak as we would like, and mostly hold our silence with the dead. The above stems from being swept away recently by Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Home’ and ‘Gilead’. She is a ‘great’ writer, if there is such a beast.
Dear Terry, heart felt condolences regarding Alison... A shock and continuing sadness... Ironic for me that I was reading all around her as I wrote that piece (The Divine Issue followed up with the Addendum, wch you saw)... And we spoke after I'd published the first piece. She said she too had been thinking of those times & people and wd look the piece up & read it & get back to me... Life so relentlessly busy that tho I knew she hadnt been back in a while it was as it always was... often months if not a year will go by between her visits to the bookshop... Ah well... As you say, Geoffrey, Alison, too many... Shelton, Michael Dugan... THANK YOU though for sending me your message to Jerome and the poem... It wd be good to catch up, as of course youve begun here... Re- my "b." --it's an archive/running commentary/magazine, obviously not the 'hi ya' kind of caper... Here in the old Melbourne I run the Bookshop with Retta's help... she's receiving radiation treatment at moment for breast cancer... After our son's death Retta's attitude and mine has been that the worst that cd happen HAS happened...so we get on with it, and happily...All very best to you, with good thoughts for the old days and now, and blessings for Alison,
As ever, Kris
Thanks for your reply and your thoughts. It seems of late that I am surrounded by death - well, I am 65. I didn't know about your son's death or Michael's. As you probably know, I know about children dying before their time, and your's and Retta's response that the worst that could happen - has happened, however after thirty years, new but unwanted things subsume the grief, and the butter falling out of the fridge does drive you crazy. Give Retta my regards and my deep wish for her recovery. I am so sorry about your son, don't let me pick at the wound. You're right as Dylan said 'keep on keeping on / like a bird that flew / tangled up in blue (blew). It is a miracle, the whole shebang...I am frequently reminded of Afterman's poem - I think it was called Pieta - the essence that I took from it was that it is a wonder that we are not daily on our knees praying at the pity, the sadness of it all. On the other hand why are we not dancing daily at the miracle, the wonder and beauty of it all on this remote outpost/backwater of the multiverses?
What is inside
Is not as temporary
As what is outside.
My being’s soul
Is that of my child
I am you, am him.
Your birth my birth
Everything is born.
Dave Ellison et al; are without any pretension beat, among other things,
and in an un self-conscious way as writers, not in a negative way,
but simply being oneself in a creative way naturally; culturally influenced by diverse
streams of humanity and themselves as historical players, with identity;
that I am somehow or other out of touch with modern times and the younger generation is probably due to age difference and experience and memories of times gone by
and as an old man remembering those who are gone
now I am looking at modern times through bifocals, deaf in right ear, hearing aid in the left, chronic back and neck pain et al, looking at seventy I’m 66, part time socially active, still smoke .
I always find that a book of poems will never let me down no matter what -- poetry a spiritual world that anyone can enter and that I enter – the beauty of modern times -- I can get that way. The knowing that it can happen, is that memory, of an identity from an old dream? of ghosts Neal and Jack and the women that they, and that we all knew, in many ways a more innocent time amidst post war changes.
I don’t recall Kerouac ever express anything political, I mean, he said almost nothing of world war two yet he was a merchant seaman – when much later, as an alcoholic he appeared on a now infamous televised debate with a student activist –
he was focussed only on the cultural and liberating, I mean how clean is politics – no dharma there.
He said he was a ’yes’ man, being for and not a ‘no’ man and being against, anyway he had said the same thing years before in ‘On the Road’
it was what attracted him to Neal and vice versa, they were young and crazy to burn to talk to talk, to go somewhere to Harlem or Birdland to hear Miles or someone else on Bleaker St or the Cedar Bar where Pollock and others be there, and those musicians all knew him and liked and respected him and had a drink or chat with him, they dug him, they knew that he dug and knew their art, like Neal he understood and loved the music, Kerouac personally knew a lot of jazz/ bop players.
Dave Ellison and the others are prime examples of the living spirit of the hip dharma bums of modern times, in any location in the world – the planetary village’s writers and the normalising globalising of beat - and other influences, past present cultural and spiritual influences, that are always part of who we are, how ever we are,
as writers and of course as human individuals with a personal social life. To write is to dream.
did you ever come across a book called ‘The Holy Barbarians’ Published 1959? I was given a throw away copy in early 1965 and it put me ‘on to’ all that followed regarding the beats, voluntary poverty, Buddhism, etc. it made a major impact on me and what happened thereafter. At the time I was an art student, nights, at RMIT and just meeting some of the local beat types, i.e. Alison Hill, and Nigel Roberts among others on a visit from Syd at Maisy’s hotel in South Yarra, one of the hangouts, a 100metres from ‘The Fat Black Pussycat’. It’s been out of print for years. It was one of the first books that I asked Geoff Eggleston ‘have you read this book?’ the Holy Barbarians was my measure, if you had read that one, then ok lets talk. And of course the title is very suggestive. Lipton spelled it out clearly, that is was a spiritual awakening - (just preceding the explosion of the counter culture). That was just what I was looking for – a major change of attitude and lifestyle, spiritual in character – as a way out of gang culture.
From that book, I bought The Way of Zen, On the Road, Howl, Henry Miller, et al. And I picked up in a second-hand bookstore in Russell St two LPs one Kerouac reading with sax backing, and Dylan Thomas recorded in NY (on his 33rd or 34th birthday) he was dead a month later. Both LPs went missing early. I had new friends. Some who didn’t have the same standards regarding stealing from friends as my previous network - the Melbourne docks and underworld.
If you don’t know the book, or haven’t had a copy in years then:
The full text is available here:
or here too:
[local pieces part history and part gratitude]
JUSTINE JONES FIXEL & HER KIND SAN FRANCISCO
she was from bingham canyon and salt lake city in utah & she loved the name (of a younger cousin) jersey justine, justine being the name given to girls all down the generations. her
mom's & dad's folks were breakaway mormans. a justine said to be the youngest of joseph smith's “six” wives taken in by brigham young to the Promised Land of utah when smith was
murdered in illinois . justine came to san francisco at 21 with a b.a. from the catholic women's college in salt lake city .. her dad had a bar in bingham canyon (that city no longer exists because of the copper mines tunnelled underneath) & later in salt lake city and there would be poker games in their salt lake city house late into the night. her brother kendell jones ten years older had come earlier to the university in berkeley . justine went into social work, but i don't recall it
that was her first job. when the war began she became a WAVE and lived with 3 others—jean broadbent, winifred lair, cecelia hurwich (“92 stairs”, says cecel, to get to their apt penthouse at 1230B washington st bet. jones & taylor in ‘the casbah” on telegraph hill). farwell taylor (for
whom mingus wrote “farewell, farewell”) also lived in the casbah and did that painting of justine & cecel the lifetime best pals. her palship w/ bari rolfe, mime and mime teacher, goes back to bari’s & marcel marceau years together (in the 50’s or 60’s). & warren anderson who played a beautiful piano and became kendell’s lifelong partner. after the war following an interval of modeling & partying & before getting her masters from the social welfare school, uc-berkeley,
justine was a social worker, & around that time worked for Canon Kip program, still going, of the Episcopal church (canon kip was a san francisco hero of 1906 earthquake days). i recall her stories of spending nights with kids rescued, & before they were able to be placed, in the loft of the old bldg on l9th avenue and ortega that later became for decades the san francisco music conservatory (before its recent move to oak/van ness/market). therapist wings. academic articles.
met larry by or in 1950's. they'd been married before (she to keith). (larry a daughter kate frankel in los angeles--granddaughter adrian & grandson joshua.). stayed married. larry died in 2003.
justine got a fulbright to italy to consult on changing their social work system at univ level etc, had extensions twice—rare, 3 years in rome 1960-63. while larry wrote. came back a year &
headed for mexico for another year (looking for george price larry's best bud, & to see if they could find a way to support/live there. later learned they'd crossed w/george returning to sf where
george a writing professor at sf state had returned via los angeles where he met zdena berger (price). zdena wrote TELL ME ANOTHER MORNING publ 1961 recently 2007 republd by
paris press as a refound woman hero writer--abt surviving camps --she was from prague &
of her wide family she, an aunt, a cousin survived world war 2.). justine when i first knew her in
1970 was teaching at uc-berkeley in the school of social work and practicing as a founding member of the family therapy center in sf (then a pioneering approach). she had a long productive life. larry used to complain that justine was a great source of misinformation, which
mostly amused her because maybe only larry could be teased that way and i heard it as
"mixedinformation". in her practice, justine’s “sand tray” therapy, its development and her
teaching its use lead back to her work as a painter of oil on canvas to her incorporations, assemblings, environments with miniature figures, furniture, the natural world & symbols
including her last great achievement “the white house”, her Venetian paintings, a series of frieze-like sculptures suffused with Jungian themes, & household objects combined into a mixed conglomeration arranged into painted autobiography and family history (much of this documented on film by al leveton). memories of justine, of larry, names that drift up, constellate
& swim, a history, pantheon, honorable people. I thought of ruth witt-diamant again last night (justine & larry’s neighbor and friend who began the poetry center as san francisco state) & thanked her for all her kindnesses; oldest friend george & mary oppen through whom I met lawrence & justine fixel in 1970; of florence hegi, oldest of the family therapy group of friends
& colleagues (al, eva, bob hovering over her to the very end) that justine belonged to: eva & al leveton w/ ben handleman the prime founders,& virginia belfort, sue eldredge; roz parenti, bob
cantor, michael geis. neighbors too in those early days: lois and roy steinberg & julian, then 5, now a photographer; mark citret (ansel adams’ last student, then 22-- eminent now); of al and minnie (a founding member of the california communist party, related to my sister jane by marriage) and daughter laura bock down high willard street; judy pollatsek and her kids josh & jessica; the wolfe’s on farnsworth steps; al palavin; the jaeks, a nice couple w/ kids goldsworths
(he at uc-sf & judy) next to ruth witt’s; & memories of anais nin when she was lodged uphill in a cottage ruth found for her; the then taos-bound dorothy kethler; & in taos, bob eliot, who built
said justine the ideal house; jo lander; florida & angela who worked for the un’s fao in rome; bill
minshew first met in rome; george hitchcock; cass humble; edouard roditi who often returned from france--an old schoolmate of ruth’s at uc berkeley in the 30’s; james broughton; justine van gundy who taught at sf state; her san diego cousin dianne cawood, soprano; diane scott her therapist; tom, stephanie, dante sanchez; always cecelia (“cecel”, “cese”) & b.j., lynn, rudy
hurwich; larry’s nephew robbie berkelman; & “old jack” (w.w.. lyman, jr.) of bayles mill—born there in napa valley 1885--ruth brought me over to meet (‘the oldest living poet’ she’d drive up to bring down to san francisco . i was her gardener & the then young poet, 35, she wanted him to connect with, his wife helen hoyt an esteemed poet who’d been asst editor to harriet monroe at poetry magazine in chicago dead a decade or more by then)(his three volumes of typed memoirs--he lived to1983 leaving a son amos hoyt at bayles mill--are in st. helena, ca public library’s
locked room); & others who make their entries but who’s names now escape me but will possibly come tomorrow; folks we met, knew together--panjandrum press & poetry flash crowds & dennis
koran; richard steger; lennart & sonia bruce; exemplary pals william dickey & adrianne marcus ;shirley kaufman & jack gilbert; laura ulewicz; anthony rudolf; jo-anne rosen; laura beausoleil; david & judy gascoyne ; sybil wood/cooper; sharon coleman; gerald fleming; carl rakosi & marilyn kane. many gone before justine & so many more left because this was a woman
who knew people & was interested in them: remembering her is to consider friends you make in life, who contributed to who you became, you’ve helped, who’ve helped you. final days,weeks, months, years, close were naomi schwartz , josephine moore, gail lubin, christina fisher, toby damon, andrea rubin, marsha trainer, al & eva leveton, ken meacham & pearl, wendy rosado-
berkelman (larry’s sister pearl fixel berkelman’s daughter), her daughter sunya; tom sanchez; cecilia london (justine’s student at uc-berkeley who who returned to justine in those four years after larry’s death as justine’s guide/ social worker), & always stephanie sanchez, bob cantor, naomi, al & eva, george & zdena, cecel & don (ross)—friends, colleagues, confidantes.
accretion. attrition. vale.
[11 OCTOBER 2007]
[for Justine Jones Fixel (Sept. 5, 1920-Aug. 5, 2007)]
A SEA CHANGE
Fish in a net, old salts,
as the wheels keep turning,
a spinning plate half-dipping
into the Pacific Ocean here
you and I are at Land’s End
on this tilting/raked stage
where great ships foundered.
Their sentences of life, death
are unfinished symphonies;
a future out there our audience
who’ve sailed-in to watch
a sea change, diminishing star
dust a gusher pinkening milky
sunrise, sunset in the gloaming
thickening light a sea scar as
roses silt down the sea to sleep.
The wheel is round; life pushes;
photography winds over time,
westering, voicing the mind’s
brown shale for it will take, it
took a lifetime to flower, to fly,
to sail this sea this widening
light where I hear voices under
the surface of consciousness:
harmony’s memory rising up.
WHEN JUSTINE FIXEL DIED AUG 5, 2007 JUST ONE MONTH SHORT OF HER 87th BIRTHDAY
when justine jones fixel died aug 5, 2007 just one month short of her 87th birthday. i was brokenhearted. her husband lawrence fixel had been my best friend from the time i came back to san francisco to live. george oppen had introduced us. he was sure we would be great for each other. and justine also became a great friend, and mentor. larry died 4 years ago. she had been very ill, but i just didn't want to have her forgotten. she was at the center of the cultural/literary life of this san francisco area. and she was a great and professional jungian therapist & teacher who also was a painter and artist of assembleges. after she died, i wrote and expanded and corrected the piece on her, the one you have being the one beginning the growing versions that ended with the nov.5 piece of now 4 pages titled GROUP PORTRAIT WITH LADY: JUSTINE JONES FIXEL AND HER KIND SAN FRANCISCO.
I sent many copies of each developing version w/some as submissions and some probably just information copies to spread the work about the end of a time when justine and larry and their friends george oppen, rosalie moore, carl rakosi, josephine miles, and a zillion others lent their intellects and sound moral floor to so many of us then and now so many less alive now. the coda poem "fish in a net" that ended the first group. with george price's help (larry's oldest friend--he was writing professor at sf state) i cut the poem by a third and retitled it "a sea change" from the shakespeare line already in the first poem. in the beginning the piece was more memoir/biography. then i began to see it at cultural history and thus appropriated heinrich boll's GROUP PORTRAIT WITH LADY a novel of 40 years ago and that for me referenced his THE CLOWN as well (portrait of the artist) and also reference to christopher isherwood's CHRISTOPHER AND HIS KIND.
i worked on it 4 months never needing to thinking of publication because i continually corrected it and altered it. no doubt some of this might come under a rubric of "grieving".
at 70 i have lost many kin and many more kith, especially during the aids crisis in the 1980's up through the 1990's primarily. now they are almost all gone.
i just call it cultural history. i am no sociologist, no intellectual, no historian. it hasn't pleased me as writing but it has given me relief to write it--to write it and honor my friends seeing them in such a rosy glow again as if from the beginning.
TERRY GILLMORE, part of the Free Poetry (Sydney) crew of the late '60s (with Nigel Roberts, Johnny Goodall & co). Two published collections, Further, Poems 1966-76 (New Poetry, Sydney, 1977), Surviving the Shadow (Paper Bark Press, Sydney, 1990). Robert Harris wrote of the latter poems, "Love, friendship and poetry have each become more, rather than less, substantial to Terry Gillmore, but differently contoured and wracked on human realities...[he] is, in our time, an Australian Orpheus, and like Orpheus, he is the singer of urgent and neglected knowledge."
KARL GALLAGHER see previous numbers of Poems & Pieces for bio; most recently is represented on the new Meher Baba poets & artists website, http://mehermelb.jimdo.com/
EDWARD MYCUE, San Francisco poet, goes back a long time and with the Australian & English connection (which includes The Merri Creek Or Nero & H/EAR magazines). Has published around 17 books & chapbooks, most recently his selected poems, Mindwalking, 1937-2007 (Philos Press, '08). Other books include Damage Within the Community (Panjandrum, '73), Route, Route & Range : The Song Returns (published by Walter Billeter's Paper Castle, Melbourne, '79), The Singing Man My Father Gave Me (Menard Press,UK, '80), Pink Gardens/Brown Trees (Bernard Hemensley's Stingy Artist/Last Straw Press, UK, '90). Forthcoming is The San Francisco Poems, from Paul Green's Spectacular Diseases Press,UK.
-That's all folks! -done on a wet & blustery Melbourne Sunday afternoon, 27th September, 2009-