.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

My Photo
Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Friday, September 28, 2007

San Francisco Moon

Friends and I went out to dinner then came back to my place for coffee, desert, and the moon.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

First Lines from the Muses

Their hair in great disarray and their fingers stained with ink, a few Muses gathered along the river bank to consult one another on their techniques. After some wine and chocolate, their kibbutzing netted a few "first lines" for a story. Armed with these first lines, off they went to seduce their writers.

Here are their first lines - please add your own (thus joining the Muses). Rules are simple - you may choose any first line from this post or its comments and use it to write a story, a poem, a play, what-have you. But of course, if you publish your work, you must change the first line - for it isn't really yours - it is the sole property of the Muses. And if you post your work online, you must acknowledge (via a link to this page) the source of your first line.

I want to live again in that house.

If I could have talked, I would have; if I could have written, I would
have; but I didn't.

"Look," he said, "she's really very uncomplicated - why don't you just bang her and be done with it?"

"You'll have to move the sun."

She sat in the car by the side of the road counting pills and
wondered, now that she had gotten fired, now that John had kicked her
out of the house, did she really need to take the damn things?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


What Should The Muse Do?

As Aunty Belle so aptly characterizes, I have entered the Muse business. But I have a wayward writer who is NOT writing, despite my efforts.

The Muse has decreed that the writer in question must be punished now for the transgression of NOT writing when time is available to him (for the Muse is a jealous sort - and is extraordinarily envious of the time this writer has - and outraged that he squanders such a gift).

So I ask you all: What punitive measures should the Muse extract? What should the Muse do?

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In The Poet's Tent at The Book Faire

Now that you’ve mounted the platform,
adjusted the mic,
sipped from the bottle of water
and told me all about the poem you are about to read
which you wrote while living in Madrid
riding the Metro
looking over your shoulder
jumping at the sound of a backfired car -
Now that you’ve told me all this
and how important it all is
how this poem took on new meaning after 9/11
how at the end of the day you wrote this poem
you went home to lay your head in your lover’s lap
- a lap of safety
in uncertain times
a lap of precision and respite.
Yes, now that you have told me all that
as a preface to your poem
I have no need to hear your poem
which I was interested in when I heard the title,
the simple title “Madrid”
as I am a sucker for poems titled after foriegn cities.

When I do hear your poem
(for I am a polite member of the audience and even though
I am bored now
and my stomach is imagining what the sugar-fried doughnuts on-a-stick
might taste like - I did see a doughnut stand at the far end of the book stalls -
and the sun beckons me from outside the poet's tent at the book fair)
I am a polite member of the audience
sitting in the front row and will not interrupt your moment to leave.

No longer interested in your words
(which several moments ago I am compelled to remind you
I thought most assuredly I would be interested in)
I stare at the huge redwood tree outside the tent
in the center of the square
noticing the Christmas lights still nestled in its limbs even though it is September.

I hear the low murmur of the crowd out in the square
as it peruses the book stalls
sounding almost like a cocktail party
except for the notes of ice clinking in glasses
which are absent with nothing to stand in their stead
and lead me to wish I had a drink in my hand.

And as you read
the heavily weighted, meaningful, ponderous
words in your poem





I scribble all these thoughts down
across the names of featured authors in the program
and in the small white spaces between lines
for I forgot to bring a pad of paper
and none of the booksellers had a blank book to sell.

The above is a rough draft poem in need of workshopping - I am most unpleased with the line breaks and worried there is too much clutter in the poem. I wonder too if it needs to be reshaped into a prose poem. Constructive criticism welcome.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

San Francisco Opera in the Park

Last weekend's adventure was an afternoon in Golden Gate Park. The San Francisco Opera performed selections from The Magic Flute, Macbeth, and Appomattox, whom some claim, because it is in English, is NOT an opera. My companion and I dined on cheese, crackers, prosciutto, nectarines and plums, chocolate-covered macaroons, and a lovely bottle of syrah (from who knows what winery). Our neighbors included several college students who were quite friendly and delightful, despite the fact that in the time it took us to consume one bottle of wine, they downed eight. But they shared - and I must say, their syrah was better than ours. They were a cheeky lot - calling me blondie (yes my blogging friends, I am a blonde, a dark blonde, but blonde nonetheless) and encouraging my companion to have me "drink up" as I was babysitting my glass of wine far too long for their (and perhaps his) liking.

No pictures of me, my companion, or the college students, but here's the day in the park in brief (thought Blogger will not let me place the captions in the proper place - I hate their new formatting set up - it sucks!)

The crowd:

An opera lover with the perfect seat:

A duet from afar

Prosciutto Dog:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Are You Writing?

Why aren’t you writing? she asks him.

Writer’s block.

But that is really no excuse. The solution to writer’s block is to just apply your fingers to the keyboard or the smooth, black pen and write.

Who cares if it’s crappy.
You just have to write.

He has the leisurely morning to write – not like some folk who rise early and scurry off to work after a shower, a cup of coffee, and a few minutes of shuffling papers in a fake leather bag. Not like some folk who run down the hill to catch the bus, hoping against hope they haven’t dawdled too long over their cereal, their coattails flying behind them and their bags bumping their hips and thighs as they run, run to the corner only to see the bus pull up at the stop, pause, and then lumber off as they wave at it, watching its rear round the corner and turn out of sight.

He rises later in the morning, long past the time the sun creeps up over the dark edges of the horizon, pinking up the sky. He waits until the sun has filled the room completely and illuminates the faint lines around his eyes. Then he wakes, makes coffee, brushes his teeth. Dallies over the morning paper, listens to some jazz, lets out the cat, ponders the stock market report (even though he has no portfolio) and wonders why, later in the afternoon, he has not written.

If this continues, the muse thinks to herself, she will punish him quite severely for this transgression. But for now, she picks up the phone to call him and ask

“Are you writing?”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cyberspace and the Material World

Now that I’m back online and blogging again, I am surprised at how much I missed all of you - my cyberspace friends!

I am not sure what that says about the blogging community and cyberspace - or about me as an individual. But it's curious that I have grown attached to people I have not met (for the most part) and people whom I really don't know except via their words on the flickering screen. I take all of you as I find you – and grant you provisional trust (to a point, of course). At the same time, I am keenly aware that who we are in this space may not always jive with who we are in our material worlds – we do not see each other in our entirety – just a speck – just what we allow to spill out on the screen for others to see and interpret.

And even more curious to me is that I have been blogging now with a particular group of bloggers for almost two years. And despite lags and hiatuses, we continue on – floating back and forth from each other’s sites, noodling on each other’s thoughts,offering advice, condolences, jokes, suggestions, reflections, observations.

On the one hand, we often wish each other well; on the other, we often argue vehemently. Case in point would be Aunty Belle – of whom I’ve grown quite fond – which shocks me to the core, since I detest some of AB’s politics and philosophies – yet concur with others. And though I would level her verbally at the drop of a hat in defense of those I love, I can find common ground – something I thought I would never, ever do with one who holds such strong and completely opposite views as mine regarding homosexuality.

I’ve even come to miss our nasty, slavering, over-the-top Hell Pig – who quite infuriates and aggravates me. But where are you Piggy-Poo? Has the great Moby Dick served you your comeuppance?

Are not our exchanges the stuff of intimacy? And yet, we have this buffer, the screen, the keyboard. We hide behind our icons and our blogging personas. And yet, somewhere in all this is indeed a sense of truthfulness, honesty. What an odd mixture this is – of reality and non-reality.

I am grateful for my “real” life in the material world. I was going to say I am grateful that my cyberspace world and friends are an auxiliary to that material life, but that isn’t quite right. Certainly, my material world takes priority – and thank goodness for that – I don’t want my only interests and friends to be online – I need the substantive reality of the material world – the faces, voices, physical presences of people – their words, actions, and touch. This physical world must be the primary place of my life, but I cannot call the cyberspace world merely an auxiliary world. It is something more than that.

Yet I still, after almost two years, cannot accurately define the nature of this venue and the community it creates, nor adequately express how this world connects with the other world (and disconnects as well) and what that really means.

Perhaps I should just stop thinking about it.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Bird is Back and She's Riding a Magic Bus

I'm back on the grid - hurrah! Below is an entry from last week's SF journal (yes, I've been writing steadily even though I was exiled from the blogosphere)

I woke this morning to the sun streaming in through my bedroom window. When I sat up in bed, I could see out my window the cityscape, the bay, and the early morning fog, dissipating in the light. This is my life now.

I wake early during the weekdays, often at dawn. Though there’s coffee to make, a bath to draw, my papers to collect together for school, the sunrise distracts me. Different every morning, I note the changes in the sky’s colors, in the density and texture of the fog which sometimes is lifting, other times moving in gently, on Carl Sandburg’s cat paws, stealthily, gracefully, elegantly – and other times comes pouring in, moving fast across the northern reaches of the city, the thick bed of fog pushing from behind, from the ocean, moving its soft, thick, blunted spearhead into the bay and further south.

On Mondays and Fridays I catch the #33 bus downhill to the Castro/Metro Center and board the M train, which takes me south, or outbound, to SFSU. At the end of my day, I catch the M again, back to the Metro Center. I might take the 33 home, or I might walk. It’s about a half mile – but it’s uphill – and steep. Yet the walk takes me past cafes, bars, newsstands, flower shops, and on Saturday, when I returned from running errands downtown, past the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and their tin
cups. The Sisters are political activists and have been a part of the San Francisco scene since the 1980s. They are good-deed doers, contributing to a variety of charitable organizations. They are charming, delightful, humorous, campy, and shocking to some – for they are drag queens – this is, after all, San Francisco and the Castro.

Yes, this is the Castro and there are more men than women about, and some of these men are incredibly handsome – but they are not for me. Still, they are wonderful eye candy. And in this neck of the woods, all the men seem happy, pleasant, friendly. I listen to conversations as I walk by: “Oh sweetie," says one fellow to another, “Aren’t you the cutest little chatterbox.” “You look exhausted darling, let me take you to dinner tonight.” They hold hands, exchange smooches. The air is filled with emotion, with caring, with love, and yes, let’s face it, with sexual energy. I love soaking it all up. It’s delightful and invigorating to feel the heat, the love, the joy that fills the Castro – even if it’s not for me. I smile as I walk down the streets, and I receive smiles in return. I simply can’t keep one off my face – I am thrilled to be here.

I move not only through the Castro with that silly grin, but the whole City. I am sure I stand out as a newbie- I need no scarlet N tattooed on my forehead, embroidered on my chest. Though I’ve lived in the Bay Area for over 30 years, and have been a frequent visitor to the City – I’ve been just that – a visitor. Now I’m a resident and I grin and glow all over. I have that silly, “Wow, I’m living in San Francisco” grin plastered on my face every day. I stare out the window of busses at the Victorian homes and shops we pass. I delight in finding the small alleys and staircases that create charming shortcuts through neighborhoods; I listen in to the conversations around me – of tourists and San Franciscans. I pause to listen to the street musicians – especially the cello player at the Powell Street station. I hesitate when boarding the bus and muni, not quite sure of what I’m doing yet and completely unabashed by my naiveté, my neophyte status, I ask for help at the station – not quite sure which machine I put my coins in for a ticket, which machine I put my ticket through. I sit at bus stops perusing my Muni map that has all the trolley, bus, and train routes marked on it. I whisper street names under my breath – trying to memorize key areas, key streets and their order. San Francisco is essentially laid out as a grid over a very small area. Master the grid and you master the City – or at least – you learn how to get where, which trolley or bus to take – and which ones are reliable and which ones are notoriously off-schedule.

Yesterday, I kicked around the City with my friends from Thailand – who arrived on Thursday. They paused in San Francisco before heading to Chicago where they are visiting family. They have stepped up their annual pilgrimages to the States. Once they came every year; now they come every nine months, to see aging parents – to check up on those parents and spend their evenings dancing in the living room, playing bridge and barbequing.

In the morning, I boarded the M inbound (north to the heart of the City) to meet my friend Bob at Union Square. We walked two miles toward the Bay and had breakfast in North Beach at Curly’s. Our path took us through Chinatown and we happily got caught up in some sort of small parade with dragons and tigers, banging cymbals and drums and marchers following along. Later, his partner, Tim met us at Curly’s and we walked further north, to the Wharf, where we were amused by the infamous seals of Pier 39, as they lolled about on the floating wooden platforms, basking and barking in the sun. We gawked at the tourists as well, then hopped the F Market trolley (an old-fashioned, historical trolley) to ride down the Embarcadero and then turn onto Market Street.

Market Street is my touchstone. It’s the pulse line of the City – at least to me, as in one direction it takes me downtown, to the Civic Center and the Sunday Farmer’s Market, to the shopping and theater districts, to the Embarcadero, to the Main Library and in the opposite direction – it takes me home, back to the Castro and then up the hill to my roost.

I love the public transit system in San Francisco. Long-time residents may grumble about its cost, its reliability – but coming from the Peninsula, the suburbs, where it’s often difficult to get anywhere on public transit, I’m enthralled. Let’s face it, I’m enthralled with every aspect of city life, from the grit and soot, to my neighbor’s butterfly bush that hosted, yesterday, a beautiful monarch butterfly – its wingspan about two inches in length. Dressed in the traditional yellow and black markings, it had an added dash of deep blue to the edge of its wings along its body – brilliant blue dots. I paused, walking up the hill on my way home, captivated by this butterfly as it feasted on the bush’s purple flowers. Now I know – I either need to carry my camera with me at all times or get a cell phone that takes pictures.

Back to the transit system – I can get almost anywhere I want to go – either by trolley, bus, underground, or cable car. I picked up a monthly pass yesterday and Muni map with a time table. I’ve discovered that the 33 is a magic bus.

Every day I get in the queue (too much, magic bus)
To get on the bus that takes me to you (too much, magic bus)
Im so nervous, I just sit and smile (too much, magic bus)
You house is only another mile (too much, magic bus)

I pick up this magic bus just four blocks down at the corner and it takes me to almost wherever I want to go.

Thank you, driver, for getting me here (too much, magic bus)
Youll be an inspector, have no fear (too much, magic bus)
I don’t want to cause no fuss (too much, magic bus)
But can I buy your magic bus? (too much, magic bus)

I can ride the 33 west, over the hill and down, down, down to the Haight, with its head shops, bars, grungy youths, and retro clothes stores and then walk across the street to Golden Gate Park. I can catch it headed northeast and ride it either to the hub, the Castro Metro Center where I can hop a line inbound or out, to downtown or to SFSU or the beach. I can ride it through the Castro, waving my beauty queen wave while the boys critique it – or ride it east to Delores Park, to the Mission – where the streets are lined with small family-owned grocery stores stocked with piñatas and stands of fruit dragged out on the sidewalk. Lined too with taco stands, and bookstores, cafes and bars, and The Marsh – a small theater which offers an impressive array of public readings, open mics, and small productions.

Yes, the 33 is magical and its mine – I’ve claimed it.

I said, now I’ve got my magic bus (too much, magic bus)
I said, now I’ve got my magic bus (too much, magic bus)
I drive my baby every way (too much, magic bus)
Each time I go a different way (too much, magic bus)

I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it ...

Today, I ride inbound once again, to shop downtown at discount stores for jeans. Tomorrow, I ride outbound, all the way out to the zoo and the beach, where I’ll park myself on the sand and read student papers. At the end of the day, I’ll return home to enjoy a quiet dinner and gaze out my window as the sun hits the tall buildings downtown on its way down into the ocean, to watch the shadows change on those buildings and the windows shift the reflection of light. To watch the lights across the Bay, along Market Street and on the Bay Bridge light up. I’ll sit in my living room with that silly grin on my face, watching the City don her night light jewels, listening to jazz, sipping merlot. Life is perfect.

Every day you’ll see the dust (too much, magic bus)
As I drive my baby in my magic bus (too much, magic bus)

Postscript: I see while I've been away that Blogger has changed its ways once again - its protcol (somewhat) for inserting links and photos and changing text features. Some options seem to have disappeared (text color and size). Sigh. Ain't it always the way?

Labels: , , , , ,