Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Garden Tours; Osprey Poem

Today I led two tours at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, the first with Kindergartners and the second with seniors. It became obvious to me that the kids needed to stay in motion; to stop and lecture about heritage roses only frustrated them, but to watch them smell and touch the roses was a trip.

Seniors tend to wander away on their own to whatever interested them, a natural outcome of the freedom and economy shortened time imparts. By the end of the tour I had only three seniors left; all the others had detoured.

Quite a contrast, the energy of the very young and the wanderings of the old. To know what you want in your remaining time is a good trait, it saves wastage, but to be a five-year-old is to want everything, to experience everything. In a healthy kid with a good family the world can be Disneyland. Because of that impression, when I went grocery shopping afterwards, I tried to enjoy each choice of goods and interaction with others in the same way, and it worked well. I was in no hurry, simply open to new experiences with no timetable or agenda. Of course, one of the stops was at the pharmacy where I picked up my antipsychotic medicine, Abilify, which allows me to experience "normality." Gotta love the name of that drug. Makes me think of others:






Wouldn't it be fun to work in the name department for new drugs? Whoever invented the palindrome Xanax was a genius.

Words and diseases should sound like themselves, why I don't like the word, "pulchritude," meaning beautifully voluptuous. Sounds more like a mortal sin. "The hubris of his pulchritude betrayed him."

Tuberculosis sounds like a slimy disease; syphilis sounds nasty; pancreatitis is as painful as it sounds. Pustules, boils, fractures, hematomas, you gotta love it. But there are exceptions--like "fifth disease," a common and harmless virus in children.
As a poet I like words that sound like what they are.


I may be teaching a health course at the local community college this fall. Gotta be sure to invite some local healers--Mendocino is full of them--to be in tune with the culture around me: herbalists, naturopaths, yoga teachers, and all sorts of specialized services for the spiritually aware--not to imply that these are better methods to health--only that 90% of illnesses are "self-limiting," so it doesn't matter whom you go to to feel better in most cases. But as I always say, if you're in real pain you'll go to a real doctor. Crystals won't make a bad appendix ascend out of the abdomen. (Unless you have double-blind studies to prove it.)

I tried to write a poem yesterday about two ospreys but according to my wife and editor it didn't turn out so well. BTW, the new Blue Fifth Review is out, edited by Sam Rasnake. I recommend it even though I have no work in there!

Here's the poem my editor didn't like (it's no great shakes, just what I saw yesterday):

At Frolic Cove

In the osprey's spiculed talons
a green fish wriggled headfirst,
righted like a torpedo
so that its tail resembled
a flapping rudder
beneath the tail fan.

The waterfall was low.
I cupped my hand and drank.
The creek disappeared in sand.

Circling back, with crooked wings
she signaled to her mate
a return to the massive nest.
Four times she flew around
until the fish grew limp
and merely hung.
North he flew reluctantly,
a fisherman embarrassed.

Frolic Cove is the site where a ship foundered and broke back in 1857, full of silk and china. Pieces of the cargo were discovered in Pomo Indian settlements up to 20 miles away. All the seamen escaped as the captain managed to beach the boat after breaking on the reef. Sometimes Kathleen thinks she has found there remnants of broken china bits polished by the sea. I'm sure the poem would be better if I included the crash. But "It is what it is." I'm fond of that newspeak tautology, I admit. And the experience was what it was, though likely not enough for a poem--yet.

All for today,

At 1 Kilobunny,



  1. Hi C.E.
    Looking forward to meeting you at the reading non Monday. I am hosting you, and I have made an announcement at Wealth of Ideas

  2. I'm looking forward to it, too. My reading in SF last night went swimmingly.

  3. p.s. Ignore the osprey poem; my editor's right, it sucks!


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