winter is going

My sister-in-law recently told me how her great-grandmother’s family survived the winter in Nebraska. Or maybe it was the Dakotas; but I prefer the word Nebraska.

They had a big old farmhouse, out in the country, with several bedrooms upstairs. Sometime around Christmas they would move a few beds downstairs and hunker down for the cold months in the kitchen and perhaps another room. The memory of her story is already growing dim, even a few scarce months after she told me.

But I can see them, here in my imagination, either cooking on the parlor stove in the front room, or on the kitchen stove. You see them now?

The details are shifting and rearranging even as I struggle to remember her exact words.

I am only certain it was downstairs. The rest of the house was freezing. The upstairs rooms. The attic.

Wherever it was, winter was cold there.

Not like sunny California.


a coincidence March 2019

A coincidence. Happened the other day. Sunday. I went to meet my brother and nephew at a bookstore. Before going in, I visited a next-door middle-eastern market and bought some tea and produce. After the bookstore, we went for a bite to eat across the street. Then we sat and talked for more than an hour.

The coincidence, which I still cannot quite believe occurred/transpired, was that the amount I paid in the market was exactly – to the penny – the same as I paid for my lunch. Fourteen dollars and nine cents.



2019 March 23

I talked with an old friend of Mom’s yesterday on the phone. We had not spoken since almost a year ago, after Mom died.

Anne. Or Ann. I am not sure how to spell it now. Her husband Don was a fellow worker at Grossmont, or rather I believe he was actually Mom’s supervisor for a while. She taught many years with the Grossmont District, in the home study program – she would visit students at home if they were too sick, or injured, and could not come back to school yet.

In recent years, Mom had regularly gone out with them for lunch roughly once a month.

Ann and Don had lived in Alpine, twenty or thirty miles east of the city in the hills. At the beginning of the mountains, folded around the southern slopes of Viejas Mountain (its peak is just above 4100 feet above sea level). The town lies nearer to an elevation of 2000 feet. I have been studying the location because I found a rather attractive trailer for sale in a mobile home park right in the center of town.

Ann and I talked for a while about family, her new home in a senior community in Rancho San Diego, and her old home in Alpine. She mentioned how far east of town it was, and that just coming down into San Diego entailed at least a seventy or eighty mile round trip.

There is fire danger there. That is one concern for me. Ann mentioned how they were always concerned with that possible disaster. She also complained that there is not much shopping in Alpine, compared with the big city down the hill.

I felt better after talking with her.

It has been a year now since Mom died. I miss her.

But I remain deeply grateful she had such a good life, and was able to leave us with very little suffering.

God was kind to us. I know that is a superstitious statement, but it is exactly how I feel.

Now, if I can just finish this work I am loath to address.

The house must be cleaned. The stuff must be distributed.

I found her mother’s old toy stove. I was cleaning out the linen closet. All kinds of stuff hidden away in there.

Found some linens, too.


from 2000


Auh in ye yuqui in oaccico in Xoloco

Now the yes so he [Cortes] arrived at Dividing-Place

in ye uncan tlantimani, in uncan yaquetihuitz,

at yes already their-finish-time, at their end-place

niman ye ic muchichioya, mocencahua

then yes for to-be-dressed, to-prepare

in Motecuzomatzin inic tenamiquiz;

the Motecuzoma-lord for meeting-them;

ihuan occequintin huehueintin tlatoque,

also the most-wise old-old-wise speakers,

in tlazopipilti, in itlatocayohuan, in ipilhuan.

the warriors, the leaders, the nobles.

Niman ye ic hui tenamiquizque.

Then yes for went to-meet-them-all.

more than eighteen years ago I was living in Tijuana


When I remember a thing, or an event, or a person, there are several different processes going on in my brain and body. Emotional feelings, intellectual reflections, then links to other memories related to the person, place, or event. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Most precious are the memories of love and affection. This is often very personal, having to do with remembering one or more specific persons I have known in my life. Or a dog. Or a place. A tree. A playground. A house where special people lived. Live. Memories can be a fresh as what happened yesterday or come from years ago. Long and short, deep and shallow. All of it.

from a used notebook in my near past

From eleven years ago notebook writing on the train from Los Angeles to Arkansas.




21           4             8


in the rushing tube                         at dawn

towns come and go                       from forest


outside                                               trees






past, beyond, into,                         forward



I do not know


is worse


these words

my sleepless night

or this belief

that I

have                                    anything to say at


all .



This landscape is what I watched at night in drowsing

moonlight stupor five nights ago – or was it six?

The southwest corner of Arkansas transforming toward Texas.

Forests, junk piles, little towns, smell of burnt bushes.

Rails. Always rails. Tracks. Downtown small town.


Hope, Arkansas. No stop.Trampoline into the

governor’s chair. President. Swampy water outside of

town. Murmur in the junkpile behind a shed.


Waa – waa, waaah.

RR xing


Lumber yard.

Forest darkness.


River, swollen, brown under cloudy skies.


















next page eleven years ago