Monday, December 29, 2014

Carolyn Gregory's prayer for cats

from Carolyn Gregory, Jamaica Plain MA

Bill, I called Peter Bates to let him know about Reggie's death, too.

Here is a poem I wrote a while ago about the "dead cats" I have known and loved. 

So sorry about your loss. 

Poem follows. 


On a spring day, I prayed for a cat
going into decline,
his paws unable to hoist the bones,
even his voice stretched thin.

Then I framed a golden cat
on my wall, focusing imagination
on the grace of a striped animal
prowling the savannah.

I have groomed the long haired Himalayan,
played hide and seek as my red tabby
jumped at my ankles,
full of glee.

No doubt my prayers for cats go deep
in April when the Siamese died twenty years ago
and we buried him in rainy earth.

When I am alone at night,
the cat ghosts come and guard my bed,
their eyes shining green lamps
in the darkness.
I gather them close.

--Carolyn Gregory, published in Bellowing Ark

Karl Kadie on Wonderful Reggie

from Karl Kadie, Cupertino CA


I'm so sorry to hear that Reggie died.  
Reggie was a wonderful cat, 
a great companion to you to be sure. 
His own person, always.  My thoughts 
& sympathies are with you & your loss.  
Take care. 

- Karl

Julia Ball on Wonderful Reggie

from Julia Ball, Palo Alto CA

Oh, Bill, no!!--wonderful Reggie!!!

What a loss to our world, 
and what a dear, dear loss to you!

Reggie was fearless, a mighty hunter, 
and a friend to cat and man. He was 
playful and delightful. When you moved 
west, leaving behind his best cat buddy 
and his neighborhood freedom, 
he submitted to the harness. 
Above all, he had such heart. 
I'll never forget his keeping watch 
at Carolin's side or chair back, 
lending her the comfort of his 
loving presence. Reggie leaped 
tall fences in a single bound. 
His like will not be seen again.  

Farewell, dear Reggie; leap the fence,
and go to Carolin.


Reggie (13) RIP

My beloved Maine Coon cat Reggie (13) died last night while I slept. He was my cat-son/brother; Carolin chose him from among 9 cats on a dairy farm in Vergennes VT when she was at Breadloaf;
he was alert, amazingly agile, intelligent, could speak - "Out!", "Hello!" - I love/d him so. (I'll write more about him...when I'm able.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Papa Francesco I

The first POPE Francis
surprises, amazes many,
starting w/ RomanCatholics.

If any of you are hoping 
he won't be assasinated,
don't be surprised if the curia
plays hard-ball bocci. 

(19 DEC 14, V V Santa Clara CA)v8

Saturday, December 13, 2014


I drop Fiona at the edge of school,
joyful and humming with Sudafed and ibuprofen,
wearing parts of a kindergarten costume which still fit:

eye patch and vest, bandana and floppy hat,
cobbled together for this event she’s awaited
three years now, nearly a third of her life:
fifth graders celebrating Talk like a Pirate Day.

She dashes to join friends swirling in homage
to lives filled with derring-do and scurvy,
pillage and brutal early death,

though don’t we all dance likewise against fears,
taming the horror with humors,
and this on the heels of lessons
about kachinas and sacred clowns –

a sideswipe of memory: her sister, Kirsten,
enthralled with all celebration, public or private,
how she would have danced at that final drum circle,

her hair lifting in riverwind, all of us
smiling through tears while my little pirate
skips off toward that implacable shore:
bon voyage, me beauty, bon voyage.

~ George M. Perreault, Reno NV

Friday, December 12, 2014


seagulls fly south
in pairs, in 5s,
as the #60 VTA bus
comes & goes below;
puddles are still.

12 DEC 14, V V Santa Clara CA

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Miles and seasons ago: backwoods Maine,
the Northeast Kingdom, up into Quebec,
Lac Memphrémagog, the summer thickened

with noseeums, tiny explosions on any exposed skin,
but today’s pinpricks are unexpected ice instead:
crystals lost in gray above and around, the sky

pressing wetly upon the womb of the valley,
while across the inland empire farmers and ranchers
no better than frogs pinging back and forth:

oh merciful god

- George M. Perreault, Reno NV 04 DEC 14

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2+days w/o
"We need it!" 

(02 DEC 14, VV Santa Clara CA)v5

Thursday, November 20, 2014

HOMES & LIVES transformed

President's Preface to 25th annual report 
of the Housing Industry Foundation (HIF)
San Mateo (Silicon Valley) CA 94402

September 4, 2014

In stark contrast to the growing wealth and real-estate
prices in Silicon Valley is the growing homelessness
crisis in our community.

The five areas of the United States with the
highest rates of unsheltered homeless people
are all in California. Silicon Valley is third.

Our state is one of six in which over half of all
homeless people were living in locations without
any form of shelter. Nonprofit and public services
are seeing dramatic increases in first-time seekers
of emergency support - such as emergency rental

The disparity between the rich and the poor
is getting bigger. Families are one paycheck away
from losing housing. Households are deciding
between repairing a car and paying their rent.

Those who are struggling need a compassionate,
competent solution and the Housing Industry
Foundation is here to provide one. We collaborate
with industry partners and emergency service
agencies to provide a viable solution to critical
housing situations in our community.

It is an honor to lead this organization and to
provide a beacon of hope in our community.

~ Heather Wallace
President, HIF board of directors
Housing Industry Foundation (HIF)
1730 S. El Camino Real, Suite 480
San Mateo CA 94402

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Advent poem by my B.C. '63 classmate Geo. M. Perreault

"Our writers' group puts together an Advent calendar; we're supposed to contribute little things -- recipes or poems & such. This is my scribble per this morning's scribbles."  

~George M. Perreault (D.Ed), Univ. of NV Reno, 
(a B.C. '63 classmate of mine.)

 Rain in the Desert, Year Zero

It was the star, of course, which first drew us west,
away from our studies, a brilliant wondering in the night:
curiosity or hope, the little sisters of despair.

Yet, when stars are now beyond the reach of my eyes,
the mountains vague and even the near trees mere rumors,
another memory intrudes, sustains me on this shore:

Clouds swelling into the evening, the path lost in mist,
we found shelter under a rocky overhang; no need for tents
that night, even the camels edging in among us

while down it came, steady, pebbling the sand then working
deep to where the roots of everything sang with relief,
and the air was filled with the sweetness of each blessed plant.

It was, we learned, the same night the Child was born,
outside a little town nearly a fortnight off in the distance,
and we’ve heard it said that the sky filled with angels,

but what are angels except light and water, brushing over
the skin of this earth, easing ever downward, filling reservoirs
deep within us, blessings we too often forget we share?

And the story is told that we brought gifts as if for a king,
but in truth they were baubles, and we were given everything,
for the eyes of the Child were the color of desert rain.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My son Dr. Alex William, Ph.D  
(Medical Anthropology, Columbia University) 
got tenure today in the Health & Physical Ed/Gs Studies dept. of York College div. of CUNY (City University of New York) in Jamaica, Queens.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


To Patricia

“I've had a wonderful life!”
you say 3 times; “I've had
a very (wonderful) life”

you say as you stand & smile
at 3 framed prints of playing
khmer children they gave you.

I've never seen you so contented;
you will turn 74 tomorrow.

(29 OCT 14, V V Santa Clara CA)v5

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Rev. Tim Cho, (Korea) who lives on the 3rd-floor of Bldg. 5 (I live on the 4th floor of Bldg. 4) has accused me of orchid theft, because I once helped Joan Silva (Sri Lanka) choose a plant from his 3rd floor balcony after being told all the plants there were being abandoned. Once I was told they weren't, I quickly brought her choice – an orchid belonging to Tim - back to where it was growing...anonymously - to me, but not to the Koreans in Bldg. 5 My previous error is proof, Tim thinks, of my being the current flower thief here in Valley Village, a retirement community (of 251 people) in Santa Clara, bordering San Jose - California.

This retirement community that dates back to 1966, is currently growing increasingly Asian, & recently began to celebrate the Chinese (lunar) New Year in its Social Center. At a recent communal monthly birthday celebration I won a drawing for a California Lottery scratch card which won me USD5$ when redeemed at the nearby 7-11.

In our tiff, remembering the details of my previous flower theft so enraged Tim that he spat out “I forgive you!” But for which theft? The previous one or the current one - as yet unproven. Not wanting to accept forgiveness for something I haven't done, I insisted that I didn't do it! “You are so frustrating!” he spit out, “You did it before!” I restated my claim of present innocence “But I didn't do it this time!” “I forbid you to come to the 3rd floor!” raged Tim. I agreed, I never will again. We disputed whether my pressing the 2nd floor elevator button could be overidden by someone pressing the 3rd floor button above. Tim- No; me – Yes. It's happened to me a few times. Others concurr. Suddenly we've found the door opening onto the 3rd floor to our surprise. A demonstration can be restaged.

But where is Tim's orchid? Who stole it? I stand accused by Tim as the most likely suspect. Ironically, I've been growing jade plants from cuttings for the past 7 years here, giving them away to anyone interested in them, saying “Please, take any plant you want,” So far, only Asian women have taken any. Now a young female gynecologist (Tadjik) has expressed an interest, saying “When I have my own house, I want one!” I assured her she's always welcome to them.

(18 OCT 14, V V, Santa Clara CA)v.7

Thursday, September 25, 2014

rain, finally!


Rain finally falls
on the South Bay overnight

drips off the Jacaranda trees
into the gutters, running fast

drops hit my window 
a few
& are gone by 10 am
 (25 SEP 14, V.V.,Santa Clara CA)v6

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

From Scotland Still Brave

Frae folksinger Christine Miles in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland:
To: billcostleybill
Sent: Wed, Sep 24, 2014 6:10 pm
Subject: From Scotland Still Brave

As for the Referendum, the wake of it all looks pretty much like I thought it would.  The burst balloons & torn flags have been swept up off the streets. People in general are getting on with their business.   If there is simmering anger & resentment waiting to burst out,  people making bombs in their kitchens, then I don't see it.  It may have reached some news agencies across the world that on the Friday there were clashes in Glasgow's George Square between a small group of Yes voters, probably a bit too depressed to leave each other's company & go home, who were set upon by a slightly larger group of Union Jack wavers.  6 people were charged (arrested) from that group, so you can see it was no more of a riot in the streets that a drunken clash on the streets of any big city, largely The Glasgow Disease of Orange/ Unionist/ Rangers supporters whose weekly excitement is a reprise of The Battle of the Boyne, who were too stupid (as you know, that's the entrance qualification) to know the difference between Catholics & Yes, voters.

I would have been sorry for the rest of the world to see that, I hope it left before that began, but what has happened in the wake of it is that some guy who runs a Food Bank leapt up & made pleas & a rousing speech for peace; in the wake of that thousands of people brought bags of food to George Square for his Food Bank, which was in his house,  he has had to take on an empty shop, the food just keeps on coming.  It's their way of saying "we don't want that kind of crap"  that moves me to tears yet again. I think this is a country that has more than its fair share of kindness.  I would be sorry to be found to be naive. Those who think that there will be deep divides now may see something I don't see, one tends to think of one's society as being reflected by the circles one moves in, so I don't seek out the company of unreasonable people as a rule.

I sent the previous email to all my friends outside Scotland, (most sent very emotional responses, but hey, I'm used to making people cry) so do now share this news so that people can read about the aftermath of some silly boys with no brains & too much testosterone (the most toxic substance on the planet) the response of ordinary people in Scotland who don't necessarily have that much themselves.  I will let you know when the news features a few billionaires chipping in some bags of groceries.   But don't hold your breath!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CALifornia cubed

California's colonialism is cubed: thrice a colony (Spanish, then Mexican, then American), now an American state the size of many countries, with an economy larger than many countries, a recently failed secessionist movement trying to break it into 6 states!  Colony layered upon colony, it's becoming more Mexican again, frightening Anglos as they see 'Mexicans' (Hispanics) becoming a majority. This is as complex a layered history as Scotland's; living in it as an immigrant, I'm well aware of it, wondering whether it's dynamic or chaotic. New England (6 states) it ain't - yet! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014



My father's country*
was his* home for a while,
taken here @ 5, finally
adopting mine** @ 9.

I went back to his*
to escape mine**, tho
warmly accepted there*,
I had to return to mine**.

From there** I'm observing
his* country's struggle.

Will I go back again?
When? Why?

*Scotland,** USA

(20 SEP 14,V.V. Santa Clara CA)v4

Monday, September 15, 2014



with Patricia

"I am Woman!"
you mug as you
twist off the stem
of a fallen leaf.

"I'm glad you are!"
I say as I watch
you doing it.

Now, I read this
to you, as I sit
here beside you.

(15 SEP 2014, V.V. Santa Clara CA)v3


Somebody'S uprooted my beets, 
leaving me with just one
large, gnarly, greens-less one
I've pressure-cooked, diced, 
& chilled, like beet fudge, 
slowly savoring it cold.
(12 SEP 2014 Santa Clara CA)V2

Friday, September 12, 2014



to Patricia

All the love
you filled your life with
is coming back to you now
if not quite when you want it;

& I come, with my heart,
& sit beside you
to tell you this,
telling you this.

(12 SEP 14 Santa Clara CA)v2

Sunday, September 7, 2014



Corrine & Bonnie,

identical blue-eyed blonde long-legged twins,
wiggle & scratch each others' backs
pretending to be tyrannosauri, squealing

“We're 6, we're in the first grade!”
Their grandmother tells them apart:
“Corrine's platinum, Bonnie's like I once was.”

07 SEP 14, V. V. Santa Clara CA)v3

Saturday, September 6, 2014



the blind & deaf
cocker spaniel
with big paws

whines whenever
Heather's gone.
When she walks him,
he's happily silent.

(06 SEP 14 ,v.v. Santa Clara CA)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Adore You


with Patricia

"I adore you"
you say suddenly,
embarassing me;

"please, don't"
I say earnestly.
You smile.

(04 SEP 14,  V.V., Santa Clara CA)v.2

Friday, August 29, 2014

We have come through

with Patricia

“We have come through “
you say, amazing me

& I turn, facing you,
amazed. With

Lawrence's words,
we have come thru.

(29 AUG 14, Santa Clara CA)v2

Wednesday, August 27, 2014



with Patricia

Thank you for loving me”
you say innocently;

you must feel
loving you is hard.

But everyone does.
Can you accept it?

(27 aug 14, Santa Clara)v3

Sunday, August 17, 2014



Sippin' an hibiscus blossom
& rose-hip herbal infusion 
brings me back to Bermuda's
crumbling coral walls, 
& Lynn's hot beaches, 

sipt from a pink conical cup.

(17 AUG 14, V V, Santa Clara CA)v5

~ Bill

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Episcopal Fr. Michael Hiller recently asked us if we dream; I rarely do, but... last night I dreamt that Sting (Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner) asked me to get him a slot as the host of an antique-furniture TV show. (I used to work in small agency PR.)  Why me? Why Sting?

Friday, August 8, 2014

MOON 2/3-FULL, No Venus, few stars

MOON 2/3-FULL, No Venus, few stars

Walking back from the Big Band rehearsal...
the MOON is 2/3-FULL, No Venus, few stars.
You talk about your little grandson Ray saying:
"Is there a moowun I can climb into?
Omee, I don't see it!"

08 AUG 2014 V V Santa Clara CA)v4

Friday, August 1, 2014

Celos, Jealousie:

Celos, Jealousie: 
Quarter MOON, no Venus, light blue sky

Quarter MOON, no Venus, light blue sky as
Celos (Jealousie, tango) blares out the back door
of the Valley Village Social Hall (Bldg. 18)

01 AUG 14 (V V, Santa CLARA, CA)v.6

Saturday, June 14, 2014

half-MOON, Venus, blue night sky

half-MOON, Venus, blue night sky

Walking back from the big-band rehearsal
we once again see half-a-house hand of
half-MOON, Venus, on a blue night sky,
& you repeat what your grandson Ray asked:
"Is there a moowun, Omee?"

(06 JUN 14, V V, Santa Clara CA)v.5

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2 days after


to Patricia Hughes

Before noon 2 days after,
I see you in your window;
you wave me up to your floor,
to meet you in 2nd-floor hallway.

You explain what's happened:
“People have told me not to see you,”
but you can't name which (not Gale.)

I reply: "If I have to not see you, then I won't. Btw, we'll
no longer be seeing Dereck's 2 cats here after today;
He comes back tomorrow.”
I turn & leave; you call me back for a brief hug.
I leave again; you disappear into your apt.

Later, 3-ish, we suddenly meet outside at ground-level;
you suggest we sit on the wet green bench betw. our bldgs.

You see the mailman coming & suggest we sit instead
on the sofa in your bldg.'s lobby
where you pull out of your soft French carpet-bag
a paperback copy of FOUR SUFI CLASSICS.

Bemused, I reveal:

“I read Sufi poetry as an undergraduate.”
Your reading it attracts me more to you.

You hand me a small tangerine; 
I hand it back;

you hand it back to me again
saying: “I have too many.”

I peel it with my tiny pen-knife
& eat all of its tart orange pulp.

(01 MAR 14, noonish PDT, V V 4-4D, Santa Clara CA)v5

Thursday, February 27, 2014



To: Patricia Hughes

At the new karaoke in the Social Center, 
after I slid into the chair beside you, 
you shooed me away, pointing me to
“Sit further away (by one seat) 
I don't need you...”(anymore); 
I instantly rose & left, but soon 
slipped back in with incomers
to sit on the other side of the room
to your suppressed surprise.

Days later: you ignored me
as I stood a few feet from you
as you were about to enter 
Donna's B&W car. Later,
returning to the parking-lot, 
getting into her car again, alone,
Donna admitted to me: "Bill, 
I don't know what happened...
Her mind is like a 5yr-old's."
I replied: “I just want her to get what 
she needs. Even if I can't see her.”
& offered an aluminum shower stool.
Donna explained it wasn't needed,
but waved to me as she drove away
out of the parking-lot. 

(27 FEB 13, 3:44PM,  V V, Santa Clara)v2

Monday, February 3, 2014



“The Republican Party is living through the late-mannerist phase of that (Reagan) revolution, fuelled less by ideas than by resentments.”
- David Remnick: Annals of the Presidency: GOING THE DISTANCE,
On and off the road with Barack Obama (New Yorker, Jan. 27, 2014, p.41)

Still wrapped within the Land o' Cotton,
striking its long-ago struck heroic pose,
standing tall for family values petrified
in grey stone in the postbellum South,
their grey slacks sharp, their golden
codpieces bursting with pride, their
thin smiles rise to sneers held highly
above lushly blooming womanhoods.
Look away! Look away! Way away.

(03 FEB 14, Santa Clara CA) v5

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wither CA We@ther?

As we suffer the lack of substantial rain here in CA, I recall my naieve new-to-CA weather expectations: CA is always sunny (never cloudy), doesn't rain, never snows. 

TV& movie fantasies apply only (if at all) to Socal/L.A. &; desert points-east (bordering AZ.) The 56mi. L.A. River is more than just a trickle in an urban cement channel.

Way up here in Norcal/SF Bay, it gets cold (below freezing) overnight, rains, snows (on mountain peaks, rarely down in the valley.) Rain supports agriculture & increasingly populous cities. Microclimates (S.F., the central coast, etc.) reduce weather zones to smaller regions than I 'd ever imagined & certainly never heard of 'back east'.
Drought - which I thought was perennial all over CA - except the coast -  is not only regional but macro-cyclical. (We're currently in the 7th-year of the latest.)

For me, it's all become unexpectedly informative (so far.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


We walk back to your apt., & pause
to gaze @ the full Moon in Cancer
overflowing like I've never seen before.

(14 JAN 14, V V Santa Clara CA) v.4

Sunday, January 5, 2014



Last nite I dreamt of a tall, thin denim-clad Western poet praising the Spanish language's descent from Latin, without admitting the imperial imposition that entailed, proud of the continuity of cultures. (An English poet's praising its descent from French & French's descent from Latin would be even more tendentious by his conspicuous omission of Saxon becoming Anglo-Saxon.) The poet read his poems to a small group of fans in an assembly room of a bookstore. After he read, he complained of his being an obscure writer; actually, he was very well-known for his many translations (from Spanish, etc.) into English.

(05 JAN 2013 VV Santa Clara CA)v5

Friday, January 3, 2014

Welcome to MY WORLD

with Patricia Hughes

"Welcome to my world" you say,
smiling, while we sit together as
some people smile & dance @
Valley Village's Senior Center.

We quietly sing along, but you'll
dance smiling with any & all
who invite you to; timidly, I
only dare dance with you.

(03 JAN 2013, V V Santa Clara CA) v4