Change of route/road/way

At some point, or year, rather, we – my parents and brother and I – stopped driving up and down highway 101 – El Camino Real – whenever we drove once or twice a year between San Diego and San Francisco bay, and we switched over to highway 99 over the “Grapevine” and up the Central Valley through Bakersfield, Fresno, and Merced, before turning west toward Oakland and Alameda.

I can vaguely recall my father and mother discussing it with someone – my aunt Virginia and uncle Lester, perhaps, or with my grandmother Nell or her brother Robert – talking about how it was actually faster to go straight up the great valley and then cut over toward the bay.

“Going up to Alameda this summer?”

“Probably. Maybe for Easter, too.”

“When they finish the new freeway from L.A., it will be even faster.”

“Yes. Part of it is done, already in place, there.”


“Yes. They call it the Golden State Freeway.”

“Well, what do you know.”

Jorak . . . (another beginning draft)




The town has not changed.


That’s a new store on the corner. Used to be a restaurant.

Wonder if anyone remembers.


School is out. The kids walk through the square, some of them running.

Then they see me. Don’t know who I am. The face is familiar. But…

He sits there on the bench like he owns the place. But…

Careful now. Don’t let them know you can read them thinking.



“Yes, daughter?”

“Are you from around here?”

“Yes. But I have been gone for a long time.”

Five hundred years. Don’t tell her that.

She looks right at you. No. Do not touch her mind.

She looks like my niece. She…

The girl looks away. Ten? Eleven? Her face glances toward the town hall, two doors down from the restaurant on… no, the store on the corner, now.


“Yes? But… how do you know my name?”

“It’s on your book bag, child.”

“Oh, yes, of course.” The note of disappointment hangs in the air. Did she actually think you might have read her mind? She might be the one. Maybe.

You hold out your hand – your right hand – with a single copper coin between your thumb and index finger.

“Miss Amelia?”

“Yes, Mister?”

“Would you do me a favor? Take this penny to the prefect in the town hall. Please. Tell him I am waiting in the square, here.”

She accepts the coin, nods. “Yes, sir.” Slowly turns away, then runs off quickly.

You reflect on something you did not notice at first. She was alone.

Yes. She might be the one.

Careful now. They might be watching.



yesterday afternoon and today in the morning

27 August 2016

69 Summer .  26 Moon .  59 SpaceAge .


We went to a funeral today. The woman who would have been my aunt. Who was, in fact, my step-aunt. My mother’s sister-in-law. AND old school friend and roomate for a year at Berkeley, where my aunt met her husband, married him, and dropped out of the university.

Later she went back and got several degrees.

After giving birth to eleven children.

It’s a long story. Part of me wants to tell it, or the small fragments I have heard, and another part says be quiet and listen.



28 August 2016

70 Summer. 27 Moon. 59 SpaceAge.

The church was lovely. Yesterday. Churches almost always are lovely. It was, and I suppose it still is, a Roman church. Today, a day later, as I continue writing this notice.

Not that much changes overnight. Does it? No. Usually not.

I went there once before, back in the 1980s, when I was studying and the university and fell in with a fascinating art graduate student. Actually I met her because she was the T.A. (teaching assistant, if you must know, is the official title abbreviated) for a very large lecture class I was taking as part of my visual art curriculum. There is another long story. Both the professor and the TA seemed a bit taken with me. Remember, I was older, thirty four or thirty-five that year or another, and I must have stood out from most of the other students who were almost all ten or twelve years younger than I. The professor, a fascinating woman in her fifties or thereabouts – I wish I could remember her name – looked me in the eye one day and said I was very intelligent.

Well, I suppose I am above average. I believe I am. But…

Where was I? Oh yes, going once before to the church were the funeral was held for my aunt. Big family. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. As I was saying, I had visited that parish sanctuary once before, thirty years ago, with Cindy Z.

In the slow moving sense of the Roman church, it might have been yesterday. I wonder now if my aunt and uncle were there that day. I suppose I will never know. Just one of those mysteries. They might not have been, I think, because my mother told me at supper, later, that they had suffered a disagreement with the parish and for a while went to mass at another parish, out in Ocean Beach. That was where my uncle’s funeral was. Eight or nine years ago now. We also went to that one.

For many years, I have had a secret admiration for the Roman church, even though I disagree with many of  the basic teachings… I suppose I should just be quiet here, but I cannot. There is so much in our human world that I disagree with, and one .  .   .     .

One learns, often too late in life, to keep one’s mouth shut and listen to the wind blowing wherever it goes. One goes.

A leaf grows, and then withers.

Just like a flower.



JORAK ——- a few fragments






Excuse me, Mister?


Um… excuse me, but, you’re not from around here. Are you?

*Smile* – Well, yes I am, actually.

*Scratches head* – Funny. I know everyone in town. Don’t remember you. Are you sure…?

Oh yes. I was born here. But that was a long time ago. I’ve been away for a while. A long while. From long since before you were even born. So no, you don’t know me.

The child would ask me now if I am her great grandfather. But already she has trespassed against the rules and spoken with a stranger. She is supposed to tell her parents or some other adult, but… something made her stop, just to make sure. I had better ask the safe question.

Tell me, young Miss, if the town hostel is still in front of the court house?

Yes, Mister. It is.

Then would you please tell your father I will be there tonight.

Yes, sir. But… how did you know he is the city officer?

Time to lie.

I didn’t know. But… well, you see, I knew thee wouldst tell the right people, and if he weren’t, then he would…

She twitches when I slip into the old vernacular. Smiles at me. And speaks.  –  Oh. Well, good bye, then, Mister. Sorry to bother you.



Oh well, I suppose I better sign in. Opening link. Checking. Embroidering psimind interference. Contact. There! What was that? Oh, yes. Well, damn it then, definitely a demonic flicker. They never can resist the hint of flame, can they. No. Well, the worst is now they know I am here. That’s the hell of regulations – signing in lets them know we are after them.

Report #1.

Item: I have arrive. Per regulation reporting same fact.

Item: They, or perhaps only it, are, or is, definitely here.

Item: And thanks to required report, at least one, perhaps more, now know I am here.

Item: These regulations should be amended. Underscore with fact.

End Report #1.

Closing link. Checking. No. No further flickering. Quiet. This time they/she/he/it know(s) better. I might have double-referenced and hinted their postion. Well, maybe, at least, they don’t know mine, either. But word will soon be out. I am, after all, the stranger in town.




Jorak Relmond.

For what purpose have you come?

I am an anthropologist. Am studying agricultural development and population maintenance.

But it says here you are native to our planet.

Yes. I was.


Well, it has been a long time, what with traveling around between star systems and all… it has been… almost three hundred years of your time.

And your time? How old are you?

Sixty standard tellurian years.

Oh. That would be… seventy some here.

Yes. I would be seventy-three next moon.

Really? And will you be staying with us that long?

Yes. Well, on this world, at least.

In our settlement?

Until next month, yes, I think so. This was once my home town.

Really? Well, welcome to our planet, Doctor Relmond. I am Marshak Relmond, town recorder. You don’t suppose…?

No. I had no children. But we might be cousins of some sort.

Yes. There are a lot of us Relmonds around these parts. All over the continent, in fact.







a prose poem from april 2006

Aye aye sir I used to say to my daddy when I was a very little boy only three or four and I adored him putting his sailor cap on my head aye-aye sir before I grew up and realized what a broken-hearted secret drunk he was, my own rocket scientist who screwed me into existence in love with my mommy, what a frustrated artist who never embraced that terrible name of ARTIST yes who had sailed the south seas in war saved a man’s life became a decorated hero had his portrait painted and sold for a million dollars published on the magazine cover settled down to testing other people’s rocket work missiles to carry men into space and nuclear bombs onto distant targets instead of building his own sculpture from high-pressure hoses and stainless steel tubes no and drinking every night to forget until not even his own son would follow in his footsteps no I loved him desperately even when he broke my nose that drunken night and told me to suck him in the insanity of delirium tremens promptly forgot when he’d said turned away and pissed all over himself I could only pour whiskey on his ashes dropped at six mile bank we have no grave, others complained, my ownly hero soldier secret scholar father brother uncle cousin son lover husband friend Man come back in my dreams the other night struggling in a wheelchair to make his last appointment with the doctors who will torture him in hell forever I bend down Daddy Daddy it’s me oh yes he smiles, his body wasting away until he is only a face on the floor I pick up and carry under my arm toward the appointment nurse oh no no no I’ll never let them radiation chemotherapy me never never no no no not none never nope not no


drove to Tijuana yesterday

I drove to Tijuana yesterday. My mother rode with me. We went to see the woman to whom I pay rent. We went to pay my rent.

One day, perhaps, after my mother leaves this mortal life behind, I will move back to Tijuana, after the rest of the family and I get everything sorted out and settled.

For now, counting against that future (whose time still could be many years away – so healthy is my mother), well, it is worthwhile for me to continue to pay rent even though I don’t live there. It would be hard to find a place that I like as much as I like that place – you can see a video or two of it, from the days when Maria Teresa lived there – it would be hard to find such a place for the price I pay for it, or for another matter, it would be hard to find a landlady with whom I am on such good terms as I am, with the eminently reasonable, considerate, and loving, Señora E. de C.

My memory turns back to the time when Tere and I rented that place, twelve long years ago, in April 2004. At one moment, it feels like only yesterday, but then, at another, it feels almost a hundred years ago. Time is mysterious in that way, it flies and then it crawls.

When Tere moved away, after her heart attack, broken arm, and worsening diabetic crises, when she moved away to be with her large and devoted family in Nuevo Laredo, and in Texas across the river, I stepped forward and took over the rent payments in full (I had been sharing it with her before then). I was hoping that when she got better – if she got better – she could still have her home back here in Mexican California. But, after… after she died – a year later, much to all of our shock and disbelief – well, after that, then I decided to hang onto the place for a few months at least, and then… well, a few months have become a year, and now I just don’t want to let the place go.

The price is right, the location is right, and the landlady is a kindly, gracious, and considerate person. I could not do much better, no matter how hard I looked, and, in fact, I could do much worse. Much worse.