Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Social Presence in the Pacific Northwest

Paul Constant at the Seattle Review of Books writes in "The Patron Poets of Open Books" that I am socially present in the Northwest, but Robert Sund was present in the Northwest with intense nature involvement.  It is an interesting comment, and I wonder how the intense contrast can be viewed. 

I met Robert Sund two times, once in San Francisco in association with Intersection, a literary group, and once when the Distinguished Poet Series arranged for Robert Sund to give a poetry reading at the Pantages Rehearsal Room in downtown Tacoma.  His opening reader was Deborah Miranda. 

Paul Constant places me at one end and Robert Sund at the other end of a line with all the other Northwest Poets in between on this intense Northwest nature involvement versus Social Presence Northwest involvement.  A lot of concrete near bus stops at the side of the road allots me the claim that I have never owned a car.  I have ridden a bicycle in Tacoma for over twenty-five years.  However, Robert Sund owned his own shack, I understand, from which he could roam in the woods, so if I am the phantom of the opera he was Snow White.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Creature From The Black Lagoon Featured On A Poetry Website

My poem Creature From The Black Lagoon is featured on a poetry website just now from Seattle.  The poem Creature from the Black Lagoon recreates a child frightened by The Creature that followed them home from the movie and hid in her closet.  Her inconsolable fear frightens the other child who runs for their mother.   The poem recreates for me a fear I held onto for so many years, and for different reasons thoughts about the past are an important part of life for me. 

I could rely on my parents and admire the younger people they had been.  It has been over thirty years since Dragon Gate published Shelter, during these years I have shoplifted time away from the big cash registers to spend with thoughts about my parents’ letters, papers, and photographs.  So I became bold and looked up Creature From The Black Lagoon at the Proctor Theater in newspaper microfilm to realize my mother probably brought us over to see the other feature,  Broken Lance, with Robert Wagner.  Robert Wagner portrayed a half-breed, Native American and American White, during a range war between the sheep and the cattlemen.  
I wish to share a 30-second video today on Facebook.  If I share the video it saves the video to some degree.  My video is about a jar with a partly ruined diary inside it.  I included the University of Washington Tyee from 1968 and books of poems I had from my first year at the U of Washington.  I impulsively set the diary on fire in 1968,  perhaps recreating the burning of a town on a junior high school relief map from our garage.  The town had a river, a huge castle on a promontory, trees, and more.  The fire was a solution to its slow decay on top of the ping pong table. 

I immediately saw I did not want to do this to the diary, so I put it out and saved it inside a mason jar.  My idea about old papers, old letters, is to save them.  Some of the entries could be partly read, mostly about 1961 to 1963 in Junior High School.  (My oil paint set was a birthday gift not a Christmas present.)  I had brought the diary out again to write about a May, 1966 trip to Ellensburg with history classmates for the Model United Nations.    The Model United Nations trip by bus with classmates was fifty years ago in May.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Grandmother Amanda Died Fifty Years Ago This Month

Amanda Malm entered Lowell School in 1896 soon after her August, 1896 immigration to Tacoma with her mother and younger sister.  They joined Amanda’s father, who immigrated to Tacoma from Finland in 1887.  She was eleven, her sister Johanna Maria about nine or ten.  In 1955 Lowell School celebrated a reunion, and Amanda and her children, among them my mother, appear in the newspaper article as the family with the most Lowell School pupils from the past in attendance.  It was in April 1966, that my grandmother died.  She was seventy-nine.  My grandmother died fifty years ago this month.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

About A Childrens' Book, Paper Boy

With technological change digitally edited newspapers emerged from presses faster.  Many papers, including The Tacoma News Tribune, could switch from afternoon to morning.  And an after school job that meant active time outdoors for a child before supper changed into getting out of bed as early as four a.m. every day.  Newspaper distribution centers did not anticipate children removed from paper boy jobs by their schools when they could not stay awake in class, but soon papers reassigned the delivery job to adults. 

The children's book, Paper Boy, which I read at a sidewalk book cupboard Little Free Library location, appears to feature a child in the middle, his experience framed only in one morning of the job.  Not only are rainy and snowy mornings not shown, also not shown is his job loss, perhaps when, at school, his head nods and nods and his teacher asks him to visit the school office.
Children's stories are often idealized portraits.  Among the lovely illustrations in Paper Boy are sunrises that could be sunsets in an earlier time when paper boys worked after school.  Newspapers might be correct to locate student jobs after school in other areas of their systems, because the association of youth with the news is so long-term and was so enduring.
This book reminds me of a favorite from childhood, Little Owl Indian.  One reason Little Owl Indian is reserved for historic children's literature collections is, I am sure, narrative.  In the narrative, Little Owl Indian tells the forest animals that a fire is coming.  Probably Little Owl Indian was alerted to the fire by the animals.  But in Little Owl Indian the horses are beautiful. 
(I delivered the morning Tacoma News Tribune for over five years, 1999-2004.)  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Is The Tree Removed Today a Part of Last Summer's Low Rainfall?

When I planned to visit Denmark, Sweden, and Finland in 1990 I got out large format drawing pad pages left in college drawing materials, set those up and practiced drawing again.  I had not done that for a few years.  So I kept a drawing notebook when I traveled, then kept drawing for years.  At one time I thought a Wright Park tree with an unusual round shape entered a drawing.  I do not see it. 

This tree became suddenly bright orange and I guess everyone knew the drought last summer was too hard for it.  Today they took it out.  Among all these beautiful trees, this tree was as beautiful as any, it was a wonderful tree.  The chipper gave off smoke at one point, it probably overheated. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Some Things

While I went through some things I found time to take this photo, which shows vintage 1960s home first aid materials.  This included Sleep Disorder solutions: Nytol and Sleep-eze. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fiftieth Anniversary of Mrs. Pollifax Series, by Dorothy Gilman (First Novel, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, 1966)

Green lawn at the back windows rose as a steep curtain and the library alley at the top was beyond sight.  In the 1966 library quiet, with no security cameras, the whole neighborhood was unseen alone there in a quiet intimacy.   The windowlight shone on 900s, politics and history, and biographies. 

Along the the building wall that lawn privacy did not impress intimacy onto the break room, its scrubbed neutrality framed a daybed reserved for anyone who might become ill while in the library; the room was like the room of the school nurse.  But in that room, someone said something unusual, once. 

I started to work at the library in July 1965, I worked all day every Saturday.Usually I walked to my parents house on the lunch hour, and mid-morning, mid-afternoon, I had fifteen minute breaks.  There was a Christmas Tree set up at the desk of the Librarian, the high school pages decorated this together.

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Mrs. Pollifax series, by Dorothy Gilman.  As a new reader, at page eight of the Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, I came across a recollection of Mrs. Pollifax – her cousin had brought her with him when he shot rats at the county dump.  The McCormick Library break room returns steadily to my thoughts.  I believe someone said, in the break room, on the weekend they shot rats at the Purdy Dump.

New York Times, March 20, 1966 – the internet reports a review by Harold C. Schonberg of this first Mrs. Pollifax mystery novel, and the review refers to the rats at the dump passage, which is on page eight.

When I was a fifth or sixth grader, as a guest of our neighbors, who had moved, we walked along one road where a telephone wire filled up with crows.  My neighbor said to me “There is a bounty on crows.   You shoot a crow and bring it in and they give you money for killing it.” 

It sounded horrible to me and I accepted that, doubtless, that was true.  The Pacific Northwest Room could not find much about a bounty on crows, or about a bounty on rats in 1966.   

One of the other high school pages, in probably 1966, said that on the weekend, they shot rats.  I can wonder, now, if their imagination brought them from Mrs. Polifax to a comment like that. 

The idea entered a poem I composed in 1969.  The idea had seemed horrible to me, my poem was about the deaths of animals.


Tom will die in the accident.

Tom shot rats at the Purdy Dump.

Tom died in the accident.

Snow drifts in the soft folds of the workman's jeans.

She can see him step around her with a shotgun.

We know why people shoot at cranes.

Shooting anything is cutting

your own skin.

There is a cloud of blood along

the surface of the snow.

She whispers    I am dying

She is certain she is dying.

But obviously nothing has changed.

She holds her arms up, staring at

her undependable dark veins.

This is the day of the  rising souls

All Souls' Day

when the dead rise in the earth.

Cranes and the animals die around her.

They cover up the ground.

They cover up the broken grass.

Her arms fall across the wings of a swan.

She has died.

The wings and arms are crossed.

The feathers rustle in the rising wind.

They will never lift off the earth.

They end like a falling tree.

They are already lost.

It was only with Tacoma Reads Together and the choice of Dashielle Hammett's Maltese Falcon that I began to read some mystery novels.  The difficulty of reading about violence is a part of almost all the novels they call mysteries – many of the mystery novels have Socially Redeeming Qualities such as the establishment of a learning opportunity for the reader who needs to grasp the events and the societal situations and misfortunes that involve crime and violence.