Saturday, August 31, 2013


The twins were born
on a day when the rain fell
heavily on The Valley
their family had come from
for centuries: the rain fell
while their mother waited
for the birth pulses
to push the twins out
out of her large belly;
they came out crying
w/out having to be slapped.
She called them di-criers,
the Twins who cried at birth.

They spoke to each other
in sharp cries early-on;
they understood each other
but no one understood them;
what they cried about
was a mystery to everyone.
They had nothing to cry about
other than their smartness
that everyone took as normal.
After all, they were babies
of a normal size then,
at that time, in that valley.

Family crests had gone
out of style by then,
but they deserved one -
of twin eagles, beaks
open to the left & right
making soundless cries
for the world to hear
what they had to say:
We have dual messages
to communicate to you:
Listen to us! LISTEN!

Everyone heard them
but no one understood them
as their cries overlapped.
What they were saying was
as meanngful to all
as what they were saying -
saying to the Valley,
saying to their country,
saying to the continent,
saying to the hemisphere,
saying to the world,
saying to the solar system.

A river ran thru the Valley
the twins grew up in, curving
as it entered the Valley,
making a great arc that named
the Valley 'The Valley of the Arc'
naming its people Arcians,
so the Twins were known
as the Twins of the Arc.
The Arc was their symbol.

The twins were given a sign
of two dots under an arc
to be known by, marking
everything that touched them
or that they touched. It
branded all they were, had,
from clothing to sheets,
wall-coverings, toys, tools,
utilities. The came to see it
as theirs, eyes looking back out.
from under an eyebrow. It
was obvious to anyone
who was willing to look.
Everyone looked & saw.

When something simple occurs
it becomes a symbol. When
something symbolic occurs,
it becomes a fact in fact. It's
raining now as I tell this story;
believe me I mean it to mean
something to you who read
or hear this. It is simple enuf
to be symbolic, symbolic enuf
to be factual. Bear with me
as I tell it. You will soon
see its obvious value.

Knowing who you are
is easy enough; you are
who you are named,
son of, grandson of,
daughter of, grand-
daughter of, & so on,
tribally, but all
those many names
can tell you is who
begat whom, how,
why &  wherefore,
not which way they
are heading &;why.
These are your own.

Our eyes to see through.
Our minds to understand
the meaning of living
where we live,
who we are
given as parents, shapers.
You are fortunate to know
any of these, because
you can shape a story
out of these materials,
true or false, of your own.
Own it, no one else can.

But some will try. You
may not think so, but
who you are may appeal
to somebody else who
may wish they were you.
Not you as you think you
are, bureaucratically.
You are being watched,
known by many numbers
that are attached to you.

Numbers can be used
to create a new you
allowing someone
to become you, but not
the Twins who were
two of a kind, a pair
like no other. People
mimicked them once
a year on Twins Day.

If you are thinking
something ominous
is about to happen now,
it isn't. I'm simply
telling you the ways
of the Arcians in
The Valley of the Arc.
It was their whole world.
They never left it.
What I'm telling you is
folkish, not fabulous,
not fantastical, If you
were born in The Valley
of the Arc, you would take it
for granted, unexceptional,
the facts of life there. You
would see what the Twins saw
on the annual Twins Day.


01 NOV 10, 16:00 PST - 06 SEP 13, 4:06 PST
Valley Village 4-4D, Santa Clara CA 95050

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Most of my adult life
I'd assumed I was progressing, but 

now they're saying  'going forwards'
(blissfully, unspecified) but where to?
It feels less dynamic,
rolling, but not rising;

Let's rise again:
Stand uP!

~ Bill Costley (71)

(21 AUG 13 V V, Santa Clara CA)v3

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Judy Katz-Levine WHEN PERFORMERS SWIM, THE DICE ARE CAST (ahadada books, tokyo/toronto; 3158 Bentworth Drive, Burlington Ontario Canada, LM& 1M2, 2009) ISBN 978-0-9811704-3-5; 150mm x 5 7/8” X 210mm, 8 ¼”) cover photo: Joe Zanghi [no price]

It's been a few years since I read & reviewed a chapbook of Judy's. Back then I lived in Wellesley Sq. MA & carolin combs my spouse (d. 26 JAN 07) was alive. I've changed. My impression is that Judy has, too; but she doesn't think so, so my old reviewing style: quote one whole poem, make a few comments, let you readers do the rest, seems inadequate, so let me start by saying there's a fibrousness (one of my fave words) to this chapbook that the one I reviewed before lacked (or so I recall.) What's fibrous about it? Complex density, mixing personal & surreal images; I don't really know how to read surreal stuff, so I'll start with the (mostly) personal.

I GET BY (p.9)

I get by. When having a glass of wine, I get stern. My
doctor says I shouldn't drink at all. And what with all the
medicine I take, sterner still. The drummer was playing a
fast marimba beat to a slow sad ballad and I got off, got in
a good solo. (1) So many yellow leaves, & the stars. I've
had a revelation. Seaguls float. The sax (2) was smooth,
from his days on the road. That was at the party. The
drummer, a woman, said “sometimes you just have to
shake your money-maker (3)”and did a little shimmy behind
her drums and grinned. I loosened up. Laughed.


(1) Judy's a jazz flutist.  (2) Her husband's a saxophonist. (3) aka: booty.

Got it? You may think you have, but now watch: just turn the pg:


when performers swim, the dice are cast. Sounds like a piano
doing ragtime, echo of the voice of a clown across the sea.

when performers laugh, the trees whistle as if hearing.
jugglers on sand dunes remember.

when performers tango, stages turn into bridges, an aster in
a garden blooms.

when performers teach, a taught drum vibrates, a Native
American flute holds its breath, then come the long notes
haunting an audience.

When performers die, the oceans leap up as keen as seals
emerge and fly.

Now, for a fibrous mix, turn to the next pg. (11)


I lose my place playing flute in the samba. The trees
quiver in brief wind. A hot wind. Rain. When looking out
The window sable scarves. Losing one's place is like
tripping not falling. The pianist grins. We go on to another
tune, “Corcovado” and I redeem myself.

Day of gifts like blue hydrangea. I remember a
grandfather who loved to fix watches – the gears in the
jars. You empty a jar of screws you use to fix your sax
mouthpiece. Enlightened look on your face as you
concentrate, barely noticing my presence, my ego lit up by
a new book.

Tired after listening, we sleep. I dream of my mother,
having a party. For this one she has two plump helpers.
They are my brothers. She takes a photo of them
standing together, but refuses to take one of me. Then she
relents, after teasing me this way, and snaps.

Now do you get it? How about this? Jump to p13:


One person leads to another and to another
Stressed as a mime, playing drums and flute
in the square, I in a red-striped jersey and jeans – beret -
when he came, holding flowers, also dressed
as a mime, in white face, when strangers were passing.

And the sun gave us a strange light
like the light in a clearing in
the woods
of New Jersey,where sassafras undergrowth exists
and I thought of him there when we were kids -

But the white glare of the sun
now as I awaken 15 years later
reminds me of a man in shredded garments
face chalk-white so long ago, eyes black, black hair
coming up from a shaved head like grass
standing in the sun
before he fell

Can I assume you're getting it by now? (Even I am.) btw, both of her grandfathers (one tinkered with watches), died of heart-attacks. Her career as a jazz flautist continues.

Leading us to this fibrous coda on p22:


trees with leave like the hands of prodigies.
a boat still in twilight, in the neighbor's driveway.
a son about to redeem himself.
lilac with 9 unripe flowers.
saxophone moaning its scales, ready to play Monk's
“Ruby My Dear”.
prodigies who can't control their thirst for knowledge.
prodigies who can't fit in, and talk strange languages.
prodigies who wait for the morning”s river.
being 4 years old that time of glistening forsythia.
being 4 years old that time of grandpa's lap and the watch he fixed
just before he never came back.
being 4 years old and speaking perfectly.
saxophone mourning its scales like burning lilacs, ready to play
“The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”
saxophone twittering its soprano notes as dusk flies in.
a boat in dry-dock but someday it will float.
a boat in dry-dock by the house catching last light.
a boat not quite ready, but we are patiently waiting for that day.

Demonstrating JUST how she can sum-up & sur-pass herself...

(I'll be back with more of her poems & my linkages.)

[BC: 20 JUL 13, Valley Village 4-4D, Santa Clara CA]