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Just Another Priestess [Aug. 27th, 2008|12:46 am]
(for Hazel-Shea and Sam)

I grew up on stories of Sharon Doubiago
when I was a child-bride at nineteen
listening to Barry Eisenberg
call her the most beautiful woman in the world.
Now at 28, having a sorrow-packed miscarriage,
I am strapped to the bed for at least 48 hours
by a country doctor with a bottle of brandy
and a copy of Hard Country
which soaks my heart as deep vermillion
as my underpanties.

"Descendent of the most beautiful woman in Ducktown,
she wrote amd makes me see in this spilled blood
the faces of my own ancestors
weeping their Irish masks and my other half
belly-laughing their alcohol-dancing Indian heads
flung back at the stars and his unknown Swedish half.

i wonder what my face looked like
before my parents borned me...
I wonder what this dead baby's face
was gonna look like:
which one of the ancestors
would have risen from the grave
and made the lines in the palm of the hand
tell new fortunes I take back all I cast off
I want to know the relatives in the blacknwhite photos
in the books back home
even if I don't like their politics.

And the spilled blood of the unseen child
fell at first drop by drop then torrential
onto the asphalt parking lot
where the bus drops off oldest boychild from school
--it was the same exact place where two days before
that first child and I found dead
but still warm young sparrow
which I carried home in cupped hand
and we buried in then plaster of paris statue
of Mary mother of Emmanuel.
It's now I cry to that mother,
now it's one mother to another insisting,
But I grew his eyes within,
even though it was too early to have made eyes or fingernails
or anything but a faint steady heartbeat
the color of the Hard country life.

After coming home from the clinic
i spent long night staring in the dark bedroom;
the wall next to the window was painted by the moon
with the thin branches that showed up in black streaks
like the blood vessels inside the eyeballs
when you rub the lids hard against the retina
to stop the tears and in my mind
I saw Denis Flemming's painting of 4 or 5 bums
huddled around the trashcan in southside Chicago
and the emptiness on their faces is like my belly.

Like one too many gray misshapen river stones
the lies of modern medicine sit heavy below the belly
as a sweat-soaked blood-stained rag.
there are drugs to prevent miscarriages.
they cause cancer in the daughters.
there are fertility drugs
which cause more than one soul
to journey to earth through the birth canal.
We don't need them.
there are drugs for everything except the sorrow
of losing the unborn child.
Just another priestess says,
There is no drug or lobotomy to cure mysticism.

Robin Rule, from "Porch Language",
poems from award-winning book
California Arts Council in Literature for 1989
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(no subject) [Sep. 26th, 2007|08:10 pm]
In an entry I wrote SEpt. 21 I wrote, "I walked around the blocked with my sheers looking for floors to steal"---hahahahahahahahahah. i win the award for the stupidest mispeeling!!!!!!!
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(no subject) [Sep. 26th, 2007|12:46 am]
Autumn is so complicated. I spent most of today either at church or in the garden, the other church.
I forgot to ask the doctor how much time early in the morning i am supposed to garden. The first day I worked from &:30 a, til 2:30 pm. I have a feeling that's wrong. Too much, but i love it.

I love to walk at twilight and I forgot to ask if that's ok. Me and my cat Capt'in loves to walk around the churches and vacant lots of which one is no longer vacant. The baptists sold their lot, but unbelievably, kept the three apple trees. It is a very huge, ugly rich mansion of no taste and I bet it takes a long time to sell. It has much acre for a town lot. I am furious. That was my lot. In the spring, and in December, the grass would come up two inches high, an emerald green velvet softness, that I would lay my cheek on and the Capt'in would sit on my back as if it were a ship and he was in the crow's nest," Ahoy! No pirates today Jane", he would miaow and come down to tickle my cheek with his whiskers. How I love this gentle little tuxedo cat. He is the only cat that comes in the house now and sleeps with us. Sooty has taken over dan's office outside and the neighbor lady gave me one of those little circular beds that have a sheepskin lining. He loved it right after I put a slip of mine in it I had been wearing for a few days. he has a little english teatray with three matching bowls and is quite content to come and go through the window. Frenchie is doing very well for those of you who has followed this feral cat's life. His ears are completely healed of ear mites, but I did notice I have to keep up on the medicine and he hates it, so he is leery of my love now. That is such a sad thing. Also his eyes weep, and the drops I give him I don't think he minds, but since i have him, I always treat the ear mites. One might say, do it at two different times, but you have no idea how hard it is to catch a feral cat once. Or rather coax one to come close enough to to grab them by the scruff of their neck, 1,2,3, wipe his eyes, squirt them with drops and then turn him left, squirt the ear med, turn him like a popover, do the other ear, make him stay for at least five more minutes and listen to a love song in very bad french while i rub his head, so he knows that this is all for his own good. Now he runs when he sees him and that's too bad. We were just gettin a relationship. I moved his bed to the back yard with the other cat-flats and then all last evening , he sat on the front porch and looked expectically at me even though he has eaten and slept back there for several weeks. His fur has grown thick and soft. He has a bit of a heft to him, instead of all skin and bones. I have loved his sickness away. You can do that to people as well as cats and dogs, even though they are in no way similar. The human being is infinately more valuable. But much harder to get to trust.

I believe my garden is going to be ready for winter. I am going to finish painting the book cases matte black and two coats of urathane that need it. The caboose is turning into a sweet little home after six years. I am giving things away right and left. When it is done I have to redo my will. There will be not so much to give. And even science doesn't want my heart...
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(no subject) [Sep. 21st, 2007|06:38 pm]

1. Things that Give Excitement
While Eating Them

Fat ripe cherries which burst
dark juice on white page of book.
Mango running down chin.
Fresh coconut: sharp chips of white sweet.

2. Small Things that Watching, Give Pleasure

The jenny wrens soon to be here
in the first snap of October.
The robins coming in on the bitter wind
and getting drunk on the fermenting hawthorn berries.
An old woman's hand carrying thread to needle.
A book of poems so thin the spine
is a cricket's back in Autumn.
The bobwhite's call across the fog.
A young woman in her first tightly-laced bodice,
the lace turning her nipples into small stones.

3. Things That Are Annoying

A dog next door that pits herself
against the chain link, over and over.
Without a whimper of feeling.
Cats, who in the middle in the night,
dip their paw into my glass of milk
without a degree of tidiness.
Being awakened before the alarm,
even if it's close, but for no good reason.

4. Surprising Things

While sitting in a plum thicket,
the sudden rustle of a grosbeak.
Through an open garden gate,
a view of sunflowers in bloom.
Three cats following me down the alley,
their eyes at quarter moon.
Boys on bikes spilling around the corner,
handlebars catching my hair.

5. A List of Things That Change:

Babies. Leaves. The Price of Gold.
The longing for one thing
that becomes meaningless in old age.

6. A List of Horrible Things

Old lonely dogs barking though the night
or puppies whining before dark.
Footsteps on marble floors
in the train station.
The scuff of a suitcase case.
One's husband crying in harsh
uncontrolled sobs at a memory.
Hearing a voice that reminds a woman of her mother,
causing the stink of fear to roll down her armpits.
The spaces between a baby's breath.

7. A List of Grieving

A withered mouse the cat left behind the stove:
and its empty sockets.
The accidental loss of a friend.
The hard silence after apologies.
Watching an ugly callous form
on a once tender foot.

22 September 2007

I've just come in from gardening in pitch-black, watched around the block with garden shears to steal floors for a clean bedroom, new furniture, beauty upon beauty. Alone. Dan is at his college course of auto mechanic. it's cheaper to do the labor yrself and just buy car parts.

I'm so tired all the time I tremble; can't sleep, don't stop to eat. This is the fourth art
show I am working toward this year and I am so tired, but I can't sleep, just lie staring at the ceiling or out the window at a single star if that's the turn of the universe. Otherwise...
I think I've had that many and a few more poetry readings: trying to memorize,focus on my intonations, timing the poems, giving the heart to the voice and the voice to the heart... This is all to the good. This is what I desired in high school and trained myself for; this is why I mentored with certain older poets, because I wanted this to be my life. All the people in my family are artists. ididn't believe I could until my mid thirties. I never believed I could do it and then I met a woman who is an incredible artist in 1990 and she said there is no reason you cannot learn to put yr visions into the world and so I have and so I am. What I am doing now I am so pleased with. I hope I can take photographs and post some when I am done. The show is October 20 for any of you in the Bay area. (I will send you a card chiclet-girl on time). I am spilling myself into the paint, into the found objects. I cannot believe I actually found a tiny pair of metal handcuffs the size of one's thumbnail. It made me giggle to find them.

23 September
Right now, the atmosphere is red. The whole sky right down to the earth is a eerie scarlet light. I had a root canal yesterday. I went to a doctor today who said the key to sleep is to get up the same time each morning and make it an early hour. Even if you stay up til two in the morning, still you must get up at whatever time you agreed to get up. I usually get up at six thirty and take my heart meds which according to bio-rhythms, work best in the a.m. My long-acting morphine is the same way. The doctor said, my exercise should be done in the morning to facilitate sleep at night. This sounds like agony, but tomorrow I will begin.

I have discovered the red. There's a forest fire somewhere. The whole town gets scared when this happens. We have a volenteer dept and it's small. It takes a while for the county CDF to arrive up here. This is why Fire Towers. This is why those endlessly bored, but brave men and women sit month after month with a set of binocs looking, chasin' down a whiff of smoke...

The doctor tells me to start my day with gardening, cuz he knows I love my garden and it'll not just be good for me, but kick the light endorphins in to make me happy. He says that's half the battle. I, of course, need more things to plant. I have about eighteen bulbs and that's it. I intend to go to my ex husband's and see if I can body-snatch some chard plants. When we were married, I planted about twelve and now there's around 50. Over a year ago, I took 18 and they bolted in the hot ugly weather after about a year and a little. These new ones I intend to shade and make them last far into the winter and into next year. My landlord has a baby tractor and he says, "ya wants some naked ladies? hold on. Ya wants some daffodils, just a minute and he digs and scrooges and scrabbles and lifts up a bucket full of bulbs I take home and plant in my part of the hankerchief garden. I just realized I can divide my iris. I have alot that have crowded themselves into a fine amount over the last four years.

24 September 2007

I hurt all over, every joint, every piece of skin like a sunburn or a brand new tattoo. My garden paths are naked. I need to fill them up with little ground covers and johnny jump ups and ...I forget this garden is only a few years old. And I've made mistakes, which are time consuming and costly. Every year my Youngest Brother gives me a gift certificate to the local nursery at Christmas and one at my birthday. I dream and plan and change my mind and study library magazines all winter until I have a Plan of Action. Which often gets changed at the nursery when I see something so exotic, so sexy that i just have to have it.

Tonight is the 24th. I put this post on hold because Dan and I had to run down to San Francisco yesterday and pickup some Chinese furniture some friends of ours have wanted to give us. The wife is Chinese and these are things she brought over when she married her husband. They met in China at a Dog Stew Party. I know, it sounds foreign, well, for petessakes, It IS, to us. But it is normal in China. She said it is good for arthritis.I don't hold with animal parts used as medicine, but herbs are good things. Anyway, we are nobody to turn our noses up at real Chinese furniture. The set is two bedside tables with two drawers each and a tall thin dresser of drawers. Each corner has a brass accoutrement for lack of a better word. (hardware Robin, hardware...) and the pulls are ornate brass. I look carefully at them and realize they are in the shape of bats. They are etched with flying bats! The furniture sat in the children's room. I haven't looked very carefully at the set yet because Dan needs another guy or strong woman to help him get them out of the car, so I don't know how much boy-damage there is on the wood parts, which is a bird's eye kind of maple.
If they are very scratched, I plan to take off all the brass and paint the wood flat black and lacquer it four or five times so that it appears as if you are looking through water and then I'll put the brass back on.
They are not very scratched. I polished them and they gleam in the warm autumn sunshine. The wood soaked up the oil and pushed out the lemon scent into the room. It's exotic and lovely. There are many cupboards and drawers on the tall dresser, which will go into my studio. I opened the first cupboard on top and on one side are four little drawers, with these little bat pulls.Next to them is a small ish space that has an piece of wood that can make the area two shelves. I need to find ittle plugs at the hardware store, so right now it is one space just right foe my smallish Remington typewriter. My huge Underwood fits on top. Underneath this little curio area are five drawers. So many art materials will fit in this dresser. The bedside tables just don't work for the bed, because we put the bed on a slant coming out into the room. My friend betty from Church is going to give me her Grandmother's metal head and foot board for th it and in the triangualr space behind the head board, where all this light abides, I plan to buy a tree of soem kind. Dan says, "I can build a platform for storage for summer clothes and the tree can sit up there and lean over our bed. Our Youngest Son sez, "Put white Italian Christmas lights on it." What an Idea! So, the bedside tables. One I put in the parlor next to a hundred year old small leather chair with the phone, a repro antique clock that stands tall and a plant in a 9 inch tall pot my favorite Chinese green. It is so simple, so clean. On the wall, are three smallish framed pictures of Dylan Thomas: one alone, one, with his wife Caitlin walking in a Welsh lane and a playbill from the twenties announcing the coming play "Under Milkwood". A part of me says I should have hung one simple Chinese print I have of "The Flute-Player in Feather Coat". The nice thng about keeping house, is you can play dress-up and change things around and put old things in new places.

Back to the Garden and the here and now: I have dug up about fifteen iris and broken the rhizomes where the roots seemed a good place and I planted them in different settings in the garden. I have no idea which colors will come up where, so it'll be a surprise come next spring. I also plan in February to hard prune my one rose tree and move it to a bed that is built of bricks like Italian terrace beds. I will plant small stuff around the base of the tree, to keep the cats from digging the dirt and you-know-whatting. I am so effn' tired of picking up catshit. I can't tell you strongly enough. I also want to buy at least a hundred violas and pansies and plant them in every naked place! Will I be able to? NO,no, and no. But I believe in The Big Maybe. I truly do.
I believe bad things can go away and good things can return. I believe in flowers as a form of love-making. I believe in friends making up with each other. i believe that the front door of a house is a great big smiling mouth that opens up when you knock and it says, "Why hello there!
Come right in and sit down. The Mrs. went into the kitchen to put the kettle on for tea. She saw you walking up the lane and you looked tired." My back door says, "Ah, don't go in just yet. Go out and admire that tiny garden the Mrs made and sit down. She'll bring you some iced tea and some lemon cookies in a moment. Smell those lillies, woncha?"

And when I come out with the tall frosted glasses on the tray and a plate of cookies and I see yr weary, but shining face, I'll drop the tray and run right up to you and I take you in my arms, and I will say, "I am so glad you came back. I have missed you like the dickons." And capt'in will rub up against yr ankles until you pick him up and he'll whisper in yr ear, "I'm glad you found the Major", you needed a pal. And I'll be his pal too." And we'll start all over again, but this time, going into the caboose and making hot chocolate because I forgot it's Autumn here. Time doesn't matter with real friendship. I discovered that waiting. It seems like forever. And you might make it forever, but I can wait, because I'm yr friend and I love you.
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5768-L'Shana Tova [Sep. 14th, 2007|11:13 pm]
I have asked forgiveness for the cracked cup of angry words,
and the moon, thin shards of that cup is just right for cutting
out the chaotic rage of those words and making new ones
for a new year.

I have gone to the window, looking for
that young moon which has come and gone;
but left a memory so strong:
a woman wearing perfume
who has come into the room and departed.

Robin Rule
Sept. 14
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(no subject) [Aug. 13th, 2007|10:49 pm]
There Are Limits

A friend of mine from the early seventies and our crazy-wild Kerouac days of waitressing late and then open miking poetry late and howling down the streets of Berkeley and San Francisco called me yesterday as I was weeding the broccoli and told me she had up to a thousand dollars to give me to come visit her on Washington's rain forest peninsula. Just add up the gas miles my old and i mean old, bench seat American car would need, plus a cuppla nights at a motel and some food to get up to her little town that had less people than my little town has. I thought about it, I talked to Dan about it and then I went back to working in the garden. I started cutting down the evening primrose and tiger lily stalks and then I stopped and sat in the tree house and read some more of "Sons" by Kafka, because it was time to do that again now that my two sons are adult. Then I stopped, my mind went blank, like a television screen and I saw my brothers as children with their pants down around their ankles leaning over the couch filthy with the hair grease of my step-father and I watched him beating the shit out of them for nothing, they had done nothing, and my skinny little arm couldn't pull his arm away from its motion and finally he slammed me up against the opposite wall so I could see my efforts were pointless...

After pulling up all the stalks in the garden and cutting them into a size that I could make a small bonfire with in the autumn, that night in bed, hardly able to move because I had fallen the night before so hard on the crowded wet laundry room floor, that I honestly thought I'd broken my knee caps, I remembered how when I woke in the night as a junior high school girl and the absolute terror of living, just plain living, came over me, I would crawl into the lower bunk bed of my brothers', even though it was wet from his urine, and I clutched his shoulders as I carefully kept my hips and belly as far as I could away from the warm wetness, while grasping as much comfort as I could from his bony collarbone and his slight snore. I stared for hours out the window at the street lamp covered with moths and saw how relentless that kind of light was...as eternal as the light at the cop shop where I knew I couldn't go even though the second story roof of our apt had a drain pipe I could slide down and run a few miles and TELL; I knew it wouldn't make any difference. They would maybe call whatever version of CPS there was back in the mid-sixties and someone might come out and investigate, but if they left me alone with my mother and the step-father, or even just my mother if they took the step-father away and put my brothers in foster care, that death I thought about when she beat us? It might happen that night. She honestly might lose the control she was convinced she had and maybe she did have a certain amount of control and maybe I was lucky she hadn't lost it one of those other nights. I wouldn't have grown up to be able to tell anybody about this just one-of-many-incidents, that I needed to talk about. She always prefaced an evening of hell with "And I don't want the neighbors hearing you or you'll get it worse, do you hear me?" So we were as quiet as we could be as she flailed us with kitchen utensils and sauce pans, madly leaping out of the way in pain, as a st. vitus dance overtook us to find air clear of torture tools.

It stopped when I was fifteen and she wrapped my down-to-the-waist hair one,two three times around her fist and started in with the big spoon, calmly, as hard as she could on my ass, and I stood there, stock still, not a move, not a sound, and she saw for the first time, I wasn't gonna be broken, no matter what. It was then that I knew I could undergo anything. Because when she finally let go of me, more out of weariness than anything else, and saw my dead face,void of any emotion, she knew it was over. I had won. I let my hair cover my face like a shiny wet greasy shower curtain and I allowed myself a tiny smile of victory. I dared not give away more than that. But I needed some satisfaction, I needed to say "Mick, you lied."

And I told Dan the next day as we inched into the gas station for one gallon of gas, "Hey hon, I don't wanna go to Washington. Do you mind?" And he shook his head, he knew my home was my sanity, was my yoga, was my Bible story and I needed to stay close...I had addresses for my sons, for my brothers and they were all within a few miles of me.
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String Creek Again [Jul. 28th, 2007|10:46 pm]
This late afternoon, a friend came by and picked us up to drive up to String Creek for The McHone's Annual Family Reunion. There are usually 80 or so family members camping about the land. Dennis and Nancy's cabin was built by the son of the one we lived in until five years ago. I had even briefly lived in their cabin before they bought it and completely refurbished it. Ours is 173 years old and theirs, of course, younger, but you get the idea of massive redwood logs adobed and a pitched roof for the snow to slide down...Oh, the beloved valley of my teenhood and then again in my middle-age... Two different times of my life I can hardly believe the stories are of the same woman's life.

The first time I lived on String Creek the cabin was a small Depression piece of squalor I cleaned up and turned into a home. (In my pictures is one of me in front of it washing my first baby in an old wash tub.) The second cabin, of great beauty and antiquity was also full of holes in the floors and stoves that didn't warm it quite enough, but then I had quilts and rugs. The poverty was not so vast. And there was always food to eat the second time and after a while, there was Daniel. My dear Dan who loved me enough to marry me "just because".

To the reunion, I brought a box of hats that I knew Leafy wouldn't care about. (Oh no, I've given part of her surprise away.)Nancy and her daughter Megan went crazy. They are going to a wedding back east this autumn, a very fancy family Jewish wedding needing three outfits for different occasions, they can't wait to match the hats to dresses at the Thrift.

There was so much food on the BBQ and ice chests and I feel like I'm getting Dan's flu, but I was on String Creek and so happy to wander among the apple trees and listen to the frogs in the creek.

One girl brought henna cones and all the girls and some of the boys were painting their legs and hands in the beautiful patterns of the mid-east. I wanted one too, but I had to get my fill of the String. Someone had stuck a toy horse about a foot high up on the side of the embankments going deeper into the valley and in Steve and paulette's field was a small chair with a stuffed puppy next to it. It's always a gas to see the silliness of our people.

Coming home, the big fat moon guided us down the mountain and into the valley of town. I need to tuck myself in bed, but I'm so glad I went home for a little while...
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scrub jay [Jul. 28th, 2007|12:01 am]
That almost-ready-to-leave-the-nest that the wildlife lady told me to put back on the ground and let its parents show him the final way to fly and find food? well, kids, he didn't make it. A neighbor's cat killed it after i trusted the wildlife lady and i know she's right, but damn it, i needed that bird to live. I have been getting ready to paint our bedroom, so i put the carcass in the freezer in a plastic bag and continued on sorting, packing, throwing out stuff, giving stuff away. Today I thawed him and cut odd his wings and then buried his sweet little body. In two years or so I'll dig him up and mount the bones. The wings I use in my collaged hand-made books that teach people aBOUT BIRDS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR CO-EXISTENCE IN OUR LIves (oops) on the planet. I think I shall go to bed til about four and then continue packing. last night i got up at 4 and scrubbed the kitchen floor and appliances. i am looking forward to gettign this caboose in order. I can't wait to see the fresh paint, sew curtains for the new laundry room. (i am putting my writing desk in my studio and the ironing board in thelaundry room. now that makes sense, yes?)

i need juice. i have taken on a tad too much, but if i don't do it before Winter comes, i'll be shit out of luck.

There is one more young scrub jay left, lets say some prayers for the lil feller, what?
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worship [Jul. 22nd, 2007|12:34 pm]
The whole time I have been in San Francisco, I have been concerned with how to find a church to go to on Sunday that wasn't too far from where we were staying. I am giving myself plenty of time to find somewhere, instead of last minute and not being able to go anywhere. I ask my hosts who tell me there is a Chinese church just around the corner. I am a bit amused about going to a church I won't be able to understand a word of the service, because i know exactly three phrases in Mandarian and that's it. But I decide I am going anyway, because "where two or three are gathered in his name...

I walk over to the church on Saturday afternoon and there are six kids of various ages and sexes playing handball up against the white stucco of the church and I ask politely when does church start tomorrow and they amusedly tell me 9:15 a.m. They also are wondering how I am going to understand the service, I assume. If I knew How to speak the Chinese, I woulda asked them in Chinese what time to come.

So, I set my alarm for seven a.m. which will give this slow and sleepy woman time to take a shower, but not wash The Hair which doesn't need it and get dressed.

I walk down to the church and I watch many many Chinese people walk into the building I really can't tell the size up, but I am to discover it's huge once I get in. A man who I guess is an elder asks me with a twinkle: English or Chinese and I reply with a twinkle, English. When I get in I have to sit in the last sit in the last row because i see the room which is quite large has speakers and i don't want to mess up my pacemaker with the magnets inside the speakers. I soon discover this church seats 3oo or 400 people and they sing the same modern hymns that we do and i am so happy i find i am crying through a song. Not noise crying, just a nice salty single tear down my cheek and that's a rarity for this salty old dog.i am truly happy.

The parish is just like my own. I feel so at home.
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work [Jul. 20th, 2007|11:15 pm]
[Current Location |san francisco]
[mood |touchedtouched]
[music |mozart]


Just like last night: I'm the only one up, burnin' the candles, listenin' to the poetry in my head. We had a splendid crowd, read a great many anti-war, pro-peace poems and at the end, a young man stood up and laid some rough light brown pieces of thick paper that has some substance to it on a table. I asked him what it was and he straightened up and I read on his Tshirt the words, "Iraq Vet for Peace", and then he said, "my uniform."

Through many processes, he had turned the cloth of his desert cammo into this paper and the letterpress people were getting ready to publish a peace poem on each piece of 'paper'. I thought it was one of the most brilliant ideas I had ever heard of. I told him of our Veterans for Peace and their bus which they travel around doing things for people like those who live in Covington Mississippi and were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The next afternoon:

The man we are staying with (and his family) is playing a grand piano right now. It makes me want to cry it's so gentle and healing. I have spent the last few hours working in their garden; they don't understand I like to so very much get my hands in earth and also say thanks for letting me
stay in their beautiful house while I work.
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