“I recommend this book to all who doubt poetry's capacity to reinvent itself. Hillman is making language dance for her.”Los Angeles Times Book Review
These poems use the geography of California as metaphor for exploring fundamental pressures and issues of everyday life.
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SEDIMENTS OF SANTA MONICA
A left margin watches the sea floor approach
It takes 30 million years
It is the first lover
More saints for Augustine's mother
A girl in red shorts shakes Kafka's
The Trial free of some sand
A left margin watches the watcher from Dover
After the twentieth century these cliffs
Looked like ribbons on braids or dreads
A dream had come right over
With a sort of severe leakage
Ah love let us be true to one another
Went down to the ferris wheel
There were neon spikes around everyone
Like the Virgin's spikes
Old punk's mohawk Evidence of inner fire
Rode throwing words off Red current Light swearing
Ah love The century
Had become a little drippy at the end
We're still growing but the stitches hurt Let us be
True to one another for the world
Easy on the myths now
Make it up Sleep well
EL NIÑO ORGONON
Using cosmic magic anddestruction equally
the ocean has decided to rearrange
its syntax so the jet stream
shifts north; its waves warm, its
sentences swell, until life, one of
the yeses between swirls, roundly, in
the form of beach parties with
center-colored balloons full of unused gases
from nearby stars that are suddenly
short of heat, moves to dreamishness,
though movement was actually its second
choice, movement is infinity which failed.
There appeared a small room under
the sea; heat they dumped too
much of lives in there, with
the doomed forms, singing, "Toy sold
separately," he starts these early storms
off San Diego, pushes absorbing action;
they named him boy and make
him metaphorical but he thinks he's
a mistake. Can you move sentences
this way? A horizon is a
type of sentence unmaking syntax denying
its maker in preference for a
sea cave of breathing from, while
on shore, reversible winds drive sanderlings
to make wide use of their
wavelet, the latest theory of narrow
not having been tried. There appeared
a small room under the sea
and in it dwelt impossibility, Rimbaud
and the doomed teachers all, considering
the clash of where we have
dumped heat. Creation doesn't fail though
the meaning sea dies. Kelp-ends disappear
into earliest beginnings. Sentences occluded by
their owners are devoured, a gull
is mistaken for a frisbee, meaning,
years ago. We could have stopped
driving but we didn't. Punctuation like
beach-flies as you walk undyingly past
the perfumed woman and madras-shirted man
who, not knowing dioxin garbage made
the niño's fever worse, hold tight,
palm-treeish seaweed up to admire. Examples
are beautiful anyway. They could have
turned off air-conditioning as they climbed
the hills, we could have been
less comfortable in hotels. Sentences dip
looks like the skin of a person about to sit
down, a geology.
Consider the Coast Range. We can achieve
the same results by pushing a pile of wet
papers from the left and finally
they were just in love with each other.
Consider the faultline; with only two sides of it,
how come you never thought of one of them.
A place we love, can't see. A condition
so used to becoming ...
(Those who have straddled reference know a map
will stand for wholeness.)
When you were trying to quit the drug and broke
in half you said ...
And you had to trust it (that is, needing it)
Landforms enable us to scare. Where
Berkeley is, once a shallow sea with
landforms to the west, called Cascadia.
No kidding. I read this.
A geology breaks in half to grow. A person whose drug like
a locust jumps across someone's foot, singing;
we disagree with D, who hates similes.
The Transverse Ranges holding Los Angeles spit out
a desert on their hazard side, a power
transformed from a period of thrall into
an ordinary period of lying here.
There are six major faults, there are skipped
verbs, there are more little
thoughts in California. The piece of coast
slides on the arrow; down is
reverse. Subduction means the coast
goes underneath the continent, which is
rather light. It was my friend. I needed it.
The break in the rock shows forward; the flash
hurts. Granite is composed of quartz, hornblende
and other former fire. When a drug
is trying to quit it has to stretch. Narrow comes
from the same place as glamor.
A scarp hangs over the edge as it goes from
Monterey to Santa Barbara. When we
were trying to quit it had to shout.
(The rest of our party had gone up ahead.)
Exaggeration has no effect upon silence.
It took my breath, I gave it willingly, I told
it to, and the breath listened
Consider the place of I-80 towards outcroppings.
When you've gotten to Auburn, a whole
dog-shaped ground has broken through,
the rock struggling with features, its bachelor joy, caused
by the power that has kissed you.
What happened, happened a lot. Not to glamorize
what can't be helped. A bunch of fiery
islands floated over and sutured themselves to us
a hundred million years ago. I liked
to hold one. Just, really, light it. Put my
mouth on it.
It's appropriate to discuss features when we speak of California,
daylight's treatment of a sudden
movement in rock. It pretended not to mind. You
passed him on the path. Miocene lava
smiled as it ordered the darker
color to sit down.
When he was trying to quit he based his reasoning
on the way mountains slip. California's
glaciers never reach the sea. The drug
was trapped in you, and fit. The Klamath mountains love
the veins of excellent stress, see figure 12.
Between the time two mountains slip, nothing
Between two points of resolution, nothing.
less. A little more
almost and the slip happened; it happened
a lot just 30 million years ago.
I saw between the flames four types of instruments:
with one they touched my mouth,
with another you touched
her feet. Rocks of the oldest
time are barely represented. This is the voice
from the cave, Oleiria. He was coming
to fuck me but my face had been removed.
The fault went under artichokes in 1982. She talked
to the permanent fire about it
what pushes up from under isn't
named. Or is that "What makes you do this
to yourself."What makes youA language
caught up under, like a continent.
She was inhaling though they told her not to.
In the Gabilan Range, small volcanoes erupted
softly, then this throw-rug-over-the-carpet-
in-a-bowling-alley type of effect. A california
is composed of moving toward, away, or past; a
skin is not separate; a poem is
composed of all readings of it. Elements
redeem themselves plenty, alchemists say so.
I gave my breath quite easily, then. Sorry it's
ashes, sorry it's smoke all the way down. Gravity
has to practice. The disciple of angles
smashed planet after planet, rubbing the cave
of chalk onto his cue, and put them
into corners like Aquinas's five
proofs for the existence of God. Nice
touch on that boy, nice touch on those
who sleep till noon, who sleep the sleep
of the uninsured till noon and wake with maps
of Sacramento on their hands.
What made the Sierra lift from the right. Telluric Poptart.
Geologists refer to the range as
trapdoorlike. It made him cry, he gave it
willingly, the bartender brought him
free drinks and sent him out into the pale
wrong proud civilian night
A geology can't fix itself. Nor can description.
Horses run upside down in
the undermath. A power has twinned itself
in that place. We follow it until we are
its favorite, then we live. Does the drug
recover? The Pacific Plate
began this recent movement 20 million years ago. Fresno
was underwater; the small creatures
She smelled it till it stopped looking pretty; let's call a spoon
a spoon. We dig right down into ourselves
for the rocks of the middle kingdom. Gold
folded into the Motherlode often twinned
with quartz. They seemed to like each other.
Addicts stay on the porch together, lighting them,
and elsewhere, lighthouse cliffs recall the tremors
that brought them there. I whered
the wheel and the continent moved over
but I still wanted it.
Los Angeles cheap bedding. You'd allow her
to go first and then you'd go, pull the youngest
blanket over herbang. If that's
how you like it, fine. Like warm sandstone.
We're living at the dawn of creation as far as
California is concerned. The skin
goes first. Most beaches are losing sand,
it drifts south to Mexico. He sold it, she mixed it, we
bought the pfft in 198x, trying to endure
the glassfront curve in the unaccountable
ghostman's pleasure. Get down
off that ladder, you. Ceiling stars. Little fiery
islands were light as they ordered Nevada
to move over. The white thing took
her breath, she let it slide, it recognized
what to do. After it started, no
change; seeing you was methodone
for seeing you.
The number of faults in middle California
is staggeringthat is, we stagger
over them till it's
difficult to follow our own. Each tremor
is the nephew of a laugh
sandstone, shale, chert from the Triassic
near I-Forgetville. He lined
them up, they made white sense,
stretchmarks on her body like
public transportation, very coastal,
very Sierra traintracks that click-click
down the sides of thighs, stretchmarks
where the soul has grown too quickly
But in a way, not really. A geology
has its appetites. New islands are forming
to get the gist of it. Much of the coast
moved on its own to get free. Sometimes
he'd just pass it to you, the prince of stains;
the universe cried through him. The sea
was glassing itself over Half Moon Bay. Should have
dropped again suddenly, in the service
of some burnt out Eden.
It's appropriate to discuss what can't be
of bubbles. 12 step ashes. Extra metal
on the stove. The rest of our party
had gone on ahead. Don't name it. The lithosphere
likes to float on the aesthenosphere, the soft
mobile voice of the unseen. I slide
below you sweet and high. It wants
to hear you. It wants to touch you. It wants
to be happy and it wants to die.
Phyllites, schists, cherts, marbles. Press #
when you are finished. No one knows why
the arc of minor islands sewed themselves
to us in that way. When I put it
to my mouth I had no ability to stop it.
The sea ate the colors a hundred million years ago.
A geology is not a strategy. When an addict tries to leave
the desire to make himself over shifts from
what it felt like to have been a subject;
L.A. will dwell beside San Francisco eventually.
Tempting to pun on the word fault. All right,
say plot. All right, happens. The tendency
to fault relieves the strain. New islands
were forming to get the gist of it. We wanted
the extraordinary stranger in our veins.
Whether it's better not to have been held by something.
The oldest limestone, prevalent between Big Sur
and Calaveras, is not "better than," say,
any other kind. The suffering wasn't luckier,
it wasn't a question of asking.
In the instead hour, the minutes of not recovering
from the difference of what we loved;
sameness is also true: stone like a spider
sucking the carapace the same color as itself.
In the expiation of nature, we are required to
experience the dramatic narrative of matter.
The rocks under California are reigning in their little world.
This was set down in strata so you could know
what it felt like to have been earth.
a gasp of emeralds.
I thought I felt
the tall night trees
a wait not even
I held my violet up;
It made a signal squeak
lisps of pride;
ah, their little things,
their breath: lungs of a painting,
they swept me
in four ways, their square
plans, as I have made
a good square saying,
ritual of hope
has not been measured
They are bringing back the bones of Che Guevara
so the system of universal capitalism
will be reversed while a girl on the stairmaster
reads Anna Karenina, pausing at the part
where Vronsky, thinking Anna into the wrong coldness,
might turn his back on her another time. The girl
would name her dog for him if she had one. Legs with
many tattoos of heavenly bodies (ceiling
stars, moons, snakes) push weights; it all shakes, and east of here,
aspen forests growing from root systems that never
die send out shoots above ground anyway because
the lust to be individual exceeds the
desire to lie down anonymously above
a mantle of fire. No one's arguing about
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