Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laying Down 'Le Gant'

. . . a scurry of whispers coming from the restless wall pipe

Lenin had the logic for it . . .

Waitstaff circling la table, laying spoons, folding serviettes,

straightening a candle such that shadows from it fall like noon,

drawing from inconsequential talk a new notice,

the concord of their motion like mute swans.

After it all, the cheese, the mousse, Château d'Yquem,

significant time broke through, and we 'transcended' where we were --

she murmured aufgehoben, citing Marx --

where consuetude is left behind, departure points

to the arrival where routine becomes a new life.

her Burberry gloves falling like feathers to the parquet floor

Yet, I said, yet the soul still hovers . . .


Differing Schools Of Thought

There are two groups who've tried to analyze what I do:

Those who think I talk too little, and those who think I talk too much.

They're both wrong.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Street Dharma

Before sainthood, in the Catholic Church, certain attestations must occur, stages be met.  Beatification is one such stage.  

And it's that term, picked up by the poet/novelist Jack Kerouac, himself descended from French/Canadian Catholic 'stock', that became applied to the kind of writing he did, and the kind of surprising glory he wished others to witness in the outsiders about whom he wrote.

The 'outside', for his time, were those worn thin by a major economic depression and a horrendous world war, and in particular people in urban centers, not a few of whom were of African descent, the very people who were vibrating with jazz and a sense that it was time to come 'inside'.

Many who now try to imitate his spontaneity don't do it well.

Many who dismiss his art would do well to note the seriousness and even religiosity embedded in his wildness.

He died poorly.  He lived sincerely.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Talk About Passing Time!

Let's get morbid for just a minute:

Best death.  Don't know it's coming, don't realize it's hap . . .

Second best death.  Just as, or immediately after, you finish howling with laughter.

Suicide's bad -- you do know it's coming, you likely aren't laughing -- plus it's got the drawback of your being able to prevent it -- there's a decision for you!

Worst death.  This may be a tie.

One would be death by exotic and drawn-out torture executed by a devotee with skill and patience.

The other would extend over many months, perhaps years, with long and certain debilitation, pain, and general isolation from human sympathy.

Actually, the fallacy about all this has been pointed out by those keener than I.  

What we've been talking about isn't 'death', but 'dying'.

What we've been talking about is a segment of 'life'!

So, let's drop that and go on to that more appealing subject:

Immediate life, something gratifying.

I'm thinking of tonight's gyoza and rice, a brisk walk before the predicted snow, and reading from several good books at the bedside.  Good night's sleep.  Another vacation day.  Casually involving myself in tai chi, streaming old episodes of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, and feeding the cats.

No grimster, I, my friends.  Lighten up!  I've provided a comic ending.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nostradamus, Nearly


To read what's next, read what's now

To read what's now, read what was


Prophecy:  the present condemning the present


Too much future, not enough time

(art work: Katherine Venturelli)


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Points East

The mythic power of film is larger than even those who claim it to be large fully understand.   

Try stumbling onto a film, like this one, Frank Capra's Lost Horizon (. . .Of Shangri-La), at age 16, a movie buff never having seen or heard of the film and only distantly aware of the term 'Shangri-La'.

The story follows a man jostled by a war-torn world and seeking a peaceful one. 

It finds him.  He loses it.  He fights to get it back. 

The archetype around which I've seen my life playing.


Hey, Wittgenstein -- Follow This Discourse, Big Shot!

Sharp as a tack, yes.  Sharp as a needle, works.  Sharp as a bell?  Clear as a bell. Clear as the nose on my face.  Plain. Plain as the nose on my face.  Plain Jane.  Plain ugly.  Plug ugly?  Pug ugly?  Whupped with an ugly stick.  Stick in the mud.  Stick up his a**.  Got a match?  Yeah:  my a** and your face.  Face to face.  About face.  About a boy.  It's about time.  Short-timer. Time waster.  Time server.  Bad time.  Straight time.  Doing time.  Time on my hands.  Dishpan hands.  Get your hands outta your pockets.  Is that a pencil in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?  It's all about me.  Me for you, you for me.  And baby makes three.  Tea for two.  Tea service. Roll some tea.  Cigar of tea.  Mexico Cit-tea blues.  Blues for Charlie.  Kinda Blue. Kinda between jobs.  Job search.  Search parameters.  Parameter this! This and that.  That's right.  Taking the right tack.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Year's Short Day

December cracks-off a third of itself,

a chunk of white chocolate, to winter,

a crunch-and-slide, caramelized croûte ivoire

laying the sweet road back to the islands.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Isis Ward

One by one, another gurney girl, some waddling the hall to gain gravity, then lying-in for a few hours of personal gethsemane

They say there're flashes underneath the lids, gembursts, pain novas betokening new space and time

The métier -- splitting the physical self, inside-outing at the crux, doing what's ever been done like it's never been done, then

Catching the one tune that becomes the other, childsong lungful of itself after the lungshriek of the she

And at its denouement, in the spotlit aureole of the O.R. or dimmer shine of the recovery tableau

Every one of them a just-now Maryam, each, for the now, a Queen of H


At The Wind's Behest

Erector spinae,

'traps', 'delts', lost soul, l. dorsi,

et cetera, dive


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Enjoying Good Entertainment, Just Like The Next Fellow

The women in question didn't know who Tina Turner is.

Next time we meet up, Ike and I will have a good laugh over that one!  But they did know Kurt Cobain.

Cobain, Coshmain.  At his death, I remember one woman I knew kept expressing her shock -- she was turning 40, mind you -- her shock that such a monumental figure would die in such a tragic way.  Equivalent to John Lennon she managed to say through her grief.

First. Lennon would probably deflate the idolization of his own cold body.

Second. Lennon's music was better and more influential.

Third. Lennon came to appeal to the public's better nature.

Fourth.  Cobain's partner was Courtney Love.  'Nuff said.

Fifth.  Lennon got shot by a crackpot.  Cobain was one of a line of celebrity O.D. artists, and not really measuring up to them.  Say, Jim Morrison.  Or Janis (it's okay -- we were on a first name basis after our third child).

Sixth.  This is just pop music, folks.  Just pop music!


Pacific Gale

At exactly midnight, Friday/Saturday, all power to these 'Eastern foothills' of the Cascade Mountains hugging close to the low land that is Puget Sound's Seattle Metro Area -- all their power got snuffed more surely than a Charles Manson cult victim.  

This is being written about 18 hours later, most of the intervening time between then and now being dark, cold, and anxious.  Oh, it was chilly during the night, even with gloves and watchcap and hood.  And long-johns and sweats and socks and a quilt over 4 blankets. And it was an nervous waking every so often to relieve my gelid bladder and check whether the lights had come back on.  

They hadn't.

I went to bed sour as whiskey sipped from grandma's slipper.

And I'm still hung over from the experience.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nothing Fancy

In from a late night

Bowl of chilled spaghetti sauce

Warm, rolled tortillas

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


It is as if this truth-telling on the hotel pillow of the sleep room acts to cleanse

as if this new one over there were listening to the whisper of explication

how all youth flies true ultimately to make it by this up-vertiginous peak

where meadows bottom and below-down valleys finish-off a view of fresh witness.

Both quiet with intensity after a tang of greeting and now slumbering-out by pills

And you hope to wish to pretend that this darkness in the room truly

bodies-forth the young you at the end of a phone, falling asleep, 

to the endearing one, that voice, that sweet and only one.



That which holds you back

That which saves you

Eco-Eden, Insects

You don't see them

They don't bite you

There's no 'disease transfer'

(Yes, I know:  some of them are fascinating, even beautiful.  That's your Eden.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Age Of

Pinter Stoppard Mamet Albee Schaffer and Schaffer Gray and Gray Wilson Kushner Hare and Guare.

Obsessed with film as we are, no doubt that literature's still alive and it's in its plays, its moves and words.

(photograph: Dave Cornish)

Indoor Duty

Reading work: unending, immature

The rain outside so preferable, so wet

Thrill of no control: 12 hours of car wash


Friday, December 10, 2010

Mother Nature Mantra

survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring to survive long enough to have offspring


Klee Clay

Wandering the lateral floor plan of the house's gloaming.

One room's watercolor of a Tunisian town in the strictest sunlight streeted around the warm pools of oasis

thickens by proxy the drink in my hand of unfiltered, pulpy a. juice.

One's anxious about fall floods and winter's approximating, about the absence of stars and the plenitude in roof gutters and curb grates.

One's anxious, too, with art, with the largeness of wanting geometry to breathe and offer deep kisses, to parturiate, bring hither a living wail, remove the curse of the night hills, the potential white hills.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Therapy Fair

Laugh the circus comes near to cure the depressives

not able to resist the size an elephant brings

filling a human need for results that delight the child in us

And think of the control when threats roaring like a tent of tigers

get made to sit in place symmetrically to wear patterned

scarves like the one designed for our toys.

Had we prescribed this, they'd call us doc

Had we designed this, we'd be short-listed for a Nobel

(art work: Brian Stubler

Spoiler Alert

The one to stay alive is the blind man able to discern between a 5- and a 10-dollar bill.

Seminar in 'Tough'

On all fours, facing the dog, Earl drops.

Grrr, says Earl, grrr grrr!

Pit Bull with bared teeth and ready to lunge

hears Earl (grrr!), and closes its chops, turns tail.

Earl gets up, grabs a close-by beer, gulping it deep

three or four or five, and takes a breath.

Ha ha ha, he fists the can and punches it flat, 

ramming the wall until his hand bleeds.

Now, says Earl, you try.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


You know, it fell out of a mass of work papers being clopped together for neatness

then disposal.  It tumbled out in an avalanche of rag, in an envelope of greeting, a picture of her tucked

or lost or -- with deliberation -- buried in the catacomb of meaningless words one's paid to write, but whose endless assemblage practices for the Real words finally to convince her, reach her.

The goddesses the fathers disallow rise, they say, to curse the chaste male mortal for his ogling, freezing him to stone, hunting him down like a stag, enswining him.  Just for staring at mystery.

No doubt the pure coincidence we joke off, wave away with the hand -- the missive just fell out, it's old, just utter chance.

Sure, a reason, therapeutic word or two, lights up the hearth, domesticates, makes easy our anxiety in a world of snow.  It just fell out.

Nevertheless, it's true, we did it, years ago -- brushed hands, nudged into one another, laughed, 

and slid at a distance weaving around and about on the trail, then strayed, just catching the sound of the avalanche, that kind of cold divorce.


Small Car, Big Sound

Listening to Idomeneo not caring about the plot.  

No costumes, an audience of one.

I get it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guess Who

In the spirit of never-say-anything-about-a-person-unless-you-say-something-good, no names shall be mentioned.

Think of, say, a third-rate political unknown plucked from an obscure backwater and given a national sounding board. Originally, this is done to add youth and vigor and a sense of gender-balance to a political ticket led by an aging man with a history of a worrisome health issue.

After being exposed for the hack she is -- shamed out in the open for her utter mediocrity and slipshod understanding of matters -- all that's left of her virtue is anger and sourness, choler and bile. She's got skill in rallying and in producing froth among those who also want to be angry.

After her loss, circled by friendly advisors, she backs off, 'writes' a book, and proceeds righteously to revenge herself on the sensible world, re-packaging her campaign message as an onslaught on the constructive programs of the victors.

Now no longer supported in candidacy, but paid flat-out by the most self-serving, retrograde power tacticians, she makes incitement the first rule of citizenship. Drawing an inspirational page from her athletic days, any idea involves itself in a contest, and contests are, after all, a kind of warfare without guns, a winner-take-all, a chest-bumping, crotch-grabbing, opponent-drubbing, soul-gutting assault-and-battery.

And with breath-taking irony, it's that kind of America she considers foundational, democratic.

This is 'campaign politics' at its worst -- indeed, not even in 'campaign season'.

This is not 'government'; this is the antithesis of government.

I'm sure The Founding Fathers understood 'the rabble', and it's for their fear of the kind of thing this woman and her corporate funders do, that we have our Byzantine form of 'checks and balances' within National power, Federal system, staggered election terms, bicameral legislature, Electoral College, and so on.

So misled people don't swivel control into the hands of demagogues.

Lucrezia Borgia poisoned men. This woman poisons the system.


Saturday, December 4, 2010


Sociopathologically speaking, in Badlands,

Martin Sheen and Spacek ('underage') go on a rampage, killing at random and making the Dakotas a place of crazy Eden.

When he's finally stopped, he places a cluster of rocks to mark the spot:  Here is where you caught us.  They might have shot him there and built a dolmen instead of a mound of stones.

All the Druid stuff I know fits in a thimble.

The extent to which monuments of stone, of brick, of glass, of steel, the reinforced concrete and electrical systems of the tall places in order to elevate a visitant up there

-- the pains we go through, the politics of design, the revenue requests, the generational teaching of technique, not to leave out the brute physicality of shifting a ton of dead weight,

all our temples, mosques, and churches, revolving restaurants high above metropolis, business parks and three-deck malls and bars --

articulates a reason, goes to explain why we're here, what's it all about, alfie.

Here is where you caught us.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Homecoming

This filmed Harold Pinter play was shown on PBS years ago, in the 70s.  

Despite being 'film', it gives itself away clearly as 'stage', 'theater', an art more highly dependent on actorial talent and most especially, on words.  Rarely does a movie script contain anything like poetry.  Not infrequently, drama contains ample amounts of it.  Certainly Pinter.

Despite our recent generation or two (or three) having their enthusiasm dedicated to cinema, look at what movies miss:  charged, in-your-face, real emotional conflict.

This clip handles two adjacent scenes, the first between Ian Holm and Vivian Merchant, the second between Holm and Paul Rogers.  The play itself, housing 4 men and a woman, lets us know who the outnumbered actually are.  Hint:  it's not the one who doesn't wear trousers.

You won't regret watching this.  The eight minutes you spend will spark your evening.


Nothing Human Is Alien To Me

The wiping of boots -- haven't remarked on the host's face yet, even, mine burrowed beneath the scarf and having the eyeglasses fog in the cool of the mud room

I didn't shave, face cold-frozen, and I'm blunt as the snow white of nature

I'm dangerous, as all beautiful humanity is, and I'm here and now, inside, right from the Schwarzwald of the subconscious

Yet kind people discount all the risks and give out fresh cake

To receive this visit as though one brings rice to the village or to the wedding -- another set of hands providing oolong in a mug, why do these people love me?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Those Moments

When it's just my luck, it is so! -- to leave late having the roads all to myself and the music in my head.

Or when the fever breaks, I crave bread and butter, making it to the kitchen and seeing all that yellow.

And surely when I enter her, losing the time and thinking, dazed by eternity, I've always seen you again.