Ever anticipated a dream, or wished one and had it occur? I had such an event last night. When I was younger, I had many “Flying Dreams”, where I would flap my arms and take off into the air; swooping, gliding, slowly drifting back to earth, and then springing high into the air. They don’t feel remarkable at all, and at times it seems the dream is more real than the waking. It was a bit of joy to return to this state again, oh the sense of freedom and limitlessness….
This edition of Turfing is made up of wild, rare and wonderful things… from the music of Bob Desper, a little known bard of psychedelic folk music from the Willamette Valley, a wonderful Coyote Tale from the Apaches, to the poetry of Bryce Milligan… I have had fun assembling this edition! Please check out Number 900 and The Great Bay as well.
On The Menu:
Number 900: The Entries
The Great Bay
Bob Desper – Time Is Almost Over Now
Coyote in the Underworld
The Poetry Of Bryce Milligan
Bob Desper – Liberty 1974
Number 900: The Entries…
So, let me explain. This is the 900th entry of Turfing. No. Really…
What started out as an almost daily event has over the years has slowed down a bit, but still, we carry on. It is perhaps the one defining act of art that I have stayed consistently with… Painting I go in and out of, The Invisible College is always around, Poetry comes when not beckoned (less frequently now), but the assemblage of Turfing has been a constant for almost 6 years now. It is the project that is always calling.
I have used it for good and ill; to bring obscure art, poetry and music forward, to ward off working on my other writings, art etc. In the end, it is all the same I think. In dodging something, I create something. That works. I found that I have edited individual postings up to 50 times, photos, music, articles, links… sometimes a post comes together in 15 minutes, sometimes I work off and on on a post for a couple of weeks entailing several hours. I do find myself at a loss on occasion on what to post. This is patently silly, there is so much poetry art, stories and music to publish, let alone commentary that could be made… yet there are times when inspiration flees, and can’t be coaxed back.
I began Turfing thinking I knew a fair amount about art, poetry, music, but over the years as I have expanded my materials, I have become convinced of my lack of true knowledge on these subjects. It doesn’t matter how much you read, there just isn’t enough time. The corpus is just so vast, and the more you discover, the more there is that you have not yet uncovered. I stand among riches beyond compare, and yet so much is unobtainable.
I often despair in the fact that there is a limit to what I can read due to lack of translations… Among many streams, I have a desire to dive into the Urdu schools of poetry, but the translations are so few and far between. As I have gone further and further into the Sufi poets, I realize that many of the gems are in the Urdu languages, and the translations are just not there. I will continue my searches, and true more stuff comes on line all the time. Hopefully, hopefully.
So, over the years, I have watched the postings evolve, and de-evolve. Sometimes I am pleased other times less so. What I do know is that it is an act of Magick: making sense out of the chaos of the last 5000 or more years of cultural tides, influences and dreams. The magick is in the mix, the elements that evolve out of the postings, whether it be Sheikh Nematollah, Ameregin, Oscar Wilde, Radiohead, Shpongle, Erik Davis, Jean Cocteau, Sappho, Petronius, Laura Riding, Allen Ginsberg, Christina Rossetti, or Aldous Huxley. Herein lies the Magick of cultural transmission. We sit together in the cave, seeing the pictures emerge from flame and shadow, out of dreams, and the stories of plants and daemons. Here we connect, across cultures, time, space, gender and different forms of consciousness. There is a stream that knows no beginning or end, that we have all dipped our cups into and drank of…
One of the sweet points of Turfing has been the feedback that I have gotten, most often directly emailed to me. People share that the poetry moved them, a story, or some of my musings. This is like gold to me. I do enjoy the contact with readers, and it is great to know that the assemblage known as “Turfing” touches people.
Off the top of my hat I would like to thank a few people: Ibn, who first put a blog setup together for me and gave it it’s name. He is now travelling around the world with his wife on a long deserved vacation, I wish I were in greater contact with him. Don Ford, for the encouragement and feedback over the years. Lo Ryder, Clark, Diane & Diana, Oliver, Chaff, Scott, Will Penna and many others who have contacted me over the years (Thanks especially to all on the Earthrites List). Col. Kurtz of course with software help, Morgan Miller for being an absolute champ, and a hero. Dale and Laura Pendell for their conversations and encouragement to explore even deeper, and last but not least, Mary who has been my constant Muse for many years. Without her, nothing would have ever floated.
In a year that has seen the highest recorded temperatures around the world (102f in Moscow), and with the various ecological disaster scenarios playing out (freezing temperatures in the Amazon, droughts across the northern hemisphere, the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico) the release of “The Great Bay” couldn’t be more timely. we are at a crossroads, there is no doubt, and have been for awhile. Whilst the crossroads remain the same symbolically, the scenario shifts and changes at what appears to be an ever quickening rate.
I have to admit, I have not read much science fiction as of late. I have not been reading Ray Bradbury (happy 90th birthday Ray!), nor William Gibson or Bruce Sterling. It seems most scenarios that I found fascinating in SF years ago have come and gone in rapid succession. (True, I have not seen the great worms of Arrakis, but I certainly have experienced the Spice./ )
The Great Bay moves into another territory altogether. Other books have had elements of it, but the story telling format within The Great Bay is unique. It has been remarked that this is a dystopian tale. Well yes, and certainly no. It has won “The Best Science Fiction” award from the 2010 Green Book Festival… The science is sound, and very well researched. There is great travail and obstacles presented in this collection of future tales and myths, intimately tied into Climate Change and its effects. In many ways it is a cliffhanger. Will the human race and the other inhabitants of earth survive the bumpy ride into the future? It is a chronology, of many characters spread over a vast expanse of time. (and what characters!) It begins with the melt down of world civilization due to the misuse of technology that results in the deaths of billions, leaving the survivors dazed, and scrabbling through the ruins of what once was. As the dust of years settles, that which went before becomes fading memories, stories, myths and then merely the faintest of distant dreams. Landscapes and seascapes change incessantly, and humans end up doing the same as well. Life finds new and unique patterns within the challenges.
I am reading it for a second time. I had to. I am absorbing the tales, the gyres and eddies of future myths and peoples. At times I want the book to hesitate over a certain period and cast of characters. Of course, it moves on. The book rises and falls like its namesake. The trick in reading The Great Bay is to relax into it, become absorbed. Give your self a couple of days; turn off the TV, the Computer, the Stereo. Sit outside, feet in dirt with natural light if you can. I found myself entering an (en-)tranced state several times, sinking down, down into the tales like one does in a lake or quiet river; with murmurs and waves. Some of the tales evolve in high drama; others the everyday of survival in difficult times. Tales of hunters, poets, future zen masters, warriors, priest, mothers, children and lovers swirl around you, drawing your attention this way and that. The characters are richly drawn, and I found an empathy for them. There is great joy and sadness in the tales, and at times a sense of grief early on. There is also more than a share or wryness and wicked sense of humour. It is a good mix.
One of The Great Bay’s subtext is often one of hunger. It lurks under many of the tales and stories, emerging time and again. Other subtexts that one can find, is the love of land, and place. There is a love affair here of California (read the dedication!). The detail given to the land in these tales speak of attention to the Spiritus Loci, and to the subtle shifts of seasons, wind and time as it plays out across the landscape. Several places that are named and presented in the book are near and dear to my heart. I found myself transported to these places in their future guises. Another subtext, and perhaps the one most important is that of community, and how community evolves and mutates. The communities in The Great Bay have a very wonderful part to play in the tales, truly they do.
I think you might enjoy this book as much as I have and am again. On reading the last chapter (for the first time) I felt the hackles rise up on my neck and arms. Prose that speaks as poetry, and fiction that brings out truth, grounded in the most ancient and future expressions of humanity. My one criticism is that I was left wanting more, but then I can be greedy. I hope Dale will re-visit the world he created in The Great Bay in additional stories down the way. This is one you shouldn’t pass up. A great book, excellent tales, and very, very timely.
Bob Desper – Time Is Almost Over Now
This coyote was just like a real person in the old times. He was two-faced; he was evil, but he was also good. He had power in both ways, in the evil way and in the good way. The people often use him in the evil way; and in the good way, too, they use him, for he has power to help as well as to harm.
Coyote was down below with the people. The chief down there, before they started to come up, had a wife who seemed to be very sick with rheumatism. This chief tried in every way to cure her. He had all the men with power perform their ceremonies for her, but it did no good. This woman was not really sick; she was only acting sick and making her husband believe it.
She said, “Take me down to the river. It is the coolest place and there I feel well.”
A river was divided at a certain place and flowed from there in two branches. This place was called Divided Water, and it was here that she wished to be taken. The otter had spoken to this woman through his power; that was why she wanted to get to that place. He used his power as love medicine. Otter was a young man. The chief didn’t know about this.
The chief carried his wife down there every morning and took a lunch for her too. Each evening when the sun was going down he called for her.
After a while he got tired of this and wondered why she always insisted on going to this one place.
The next morning he took her there as usual. Then he turned and went back as though he was going straight for his camp. But as soon as he got out of sight, he ran around a hill and approached from another side and lay there in hiding, watching. Within an hour he saw someone come swimming to that place.
She, too, saw that someone was coming. She took off her clothes and jumped in the water. She and Otter met right in the water. So the otter is our brother-in-law.
Now the chief had found out what that woman was doing. He went back to his home. He was not going after her any more. He had seen that she was not sick, for she had jumped up and taken off her clothes and plunged in as though she were very active and entirely well.
When the sun went down he did not go there as usual. He stayed in his camp.
At nightfall, after waiting for him, the woman came crawling in on her hands and knees. She acted as though she was very sick.
She said, “The old man doesn’t feel sorry for this sick person. You see that I’m coming and having a painful time. See, here you are! You do not even come to get me any more.”
The husband had a grindstone at his side. He said, “Yes, I feel sorry for you!” and he picked up the stone and hurled it at her. The woman leaped up and escaped it. She ran to the home of her mother.
The mother-in-law of the chief was very angry with him. She thought the girl was really sick and thought, “Why does that mean man treat her like that?” [Another version relates that the girl’s mother was cognizant of her misbehavior but connived at it.] She called him all sorts of names, though she did not come into his presence. [I.e., despite her anger she did not violate the mother-in-lawâ€”son-in-law avoidance relation.]
She said, “The men are worthless! Look how this man has treated my daughter. I had a hard time to raise this girl and now he abuses her. The men think they do everything; they think they supply all the food and clothes and all the necessities. But the women work harder and do more than the men. The women know how to do things. They can do all the men’s work too if necessary.”
The chief came out when he heard her talking like this. He was very angry. He said, “All right! If you think you can do all the men’s work, we shall see. We shall see who has more power.”
He called all the men to him, even the boys, even the baby boys, and he told them that they were to separate from the women. Even the male dogs and male horses were taken on the menâ€™s side. The men and all male things crossed to the other side of the river.
This chief had great power. He spoke to Kogultsude. He dropped four beads in a whirlpool in the water. [Four beads of different colors constitute a common offering to sacred rivers or springs for the Jicarilla.]
He said to Kogultsude [Kogultsude, whose name probably can be translated “he holds in the water,” is a powerful supernatural, the personification of the power of the water], “I want the water wide, so that the women cannot cross over.”
It was made so.
In the springtime the women and men both planted corn. They both hunted too. The women knew how to hunt too. That year the women as well as the men had plenty, all they wanted to eat. The second year the women had less. They were getting tired. They were afraid to go out and hunt as boldly as the men. They didnâ€™t sow enough seeds. The third year they had still less. The fourth year very few of the women had anything to eat. None of them planted crops that year. The men had plenty every year. The women were beginning to starve and suffer.
The women were standing on the bank calling to the men, saying, “Come back and take care of us.”
But the chief would not let the men go. “Let them learn a lesson,” he said. “Let them be punished.”
All the older girls began to cry for the men now. They began to abuse themselves sexually. They masturbated with elk horn; and that is how the elk became an enemy of man. They used rocks also. That’s how it happened that the rock became the enemy of man. And they used eagle feathers too. That is how the eagle became a giant and killed many of the people. The girls also used the feathers of the owl. All the things that afterward killed men, all the monsters, came into being because of what these girls did. For these objects impregnated the girls, and the monsters were later born from these unions. These were the monsters which Killer-of-Enemies was to destroy later on, after the people came to this earth.
The men were affected in the same way as the women by the separation of the sexes. They became sexually aroused and unsatisfied. They tried to make vaginas out of mud and use them but they were unsuccessful.
This went on for a long time. Both sides were having a hard time of it and were punishing themselves because of what that old lady had said. The women couldn’t cross that river; it was too deep and strong.
About that time Coyote came along. Codi is always funny. He went into the river. He found a baby in the whirlpool. He swam in and got it.
He said, “Oh, this is a nice baby! I’ll take it and raise it myself.”
So he went back with it among the men. The child looked just like the babies of men, but it was the child of Kogultsude.
Kogultsude missed his child. He made the water rise so that his child would be brought back. He sent the water out to wash it back, to draw back his lost baby.
The chief was worried now. He said to the men, “We must go across the river and find out what has happened. Something has been done against this river that it acts this way.”
So the men swam over and were now reunited with the women. They all went to the mountains to escape the water which was still rising. Some of the men and women were drowned. The rest got on the top of a big mountain.
They said to Coyote, “You must help us. Save us from the water.”
So Coyote used his power to make the mountain grow. It grew and grew, but the water rose ever faster. All the time Coyote had the child under his cloak. At that time he had the same kind of fur that he wears now, only then he wore it as a man does a robe. No one knew that he had this baby under the robe.
The mountain rose and came right up to the present earth, this world. All the shamans were praying. But the water was still rising. All the people fell on this coyote. The water came right up to the edge of this world. It ran all over the country.
Now they were all getting after Coyote and scolding him. They said, “He is always the funny one! He must have done something.”
So at last he said, “I have this baby. I thought he was not going to get this baby again.”
The baby was almost dead; it was drying up. He took it out and showed it to the people, and then threw it into the water again. At once the water began to recede.
Before that there was no water on this earth, nor were there any mountains. The people didnâ€™t like this place. They wanted to go down below again. So Coyote made the mountain go down again, and it shrank. But the water which had spread over the earth stayed, and this was the water that was present at the time of the real emergence. Before that there was none on this earth.
The people went down below again and stayed there for about nine or ten months. Then they started making the sun and moon down below after this. These people were supernaturals.
By the time the emergnce occurred, the girls who had abused themselves were already big with children. They had been impregnated from intercourse with the things they had used. These children they were carrying were therefore born here on earth, and they became the monsters that preyed on man, the monsters which Killer-of-Enemies had to destroy before men could multiply.
It was after the people went down below again that Hactcin’s dog asked that people be made for him as companions. So people of a different kind were made and these were the real Jicarilla. They intermarried with these first supernaturals who dwelt there, and so they were half human and half supernatural.
The supernaturals who were drowned when Kogultsude made the waters rise did not die. They turned to frogs and fishes. There was no death in those days.
That is why Raven and Buzzard had to decide whether man would die. It was half and half. In those days the dead were coming to life every four days. Then Buzzard threw a scraping pole in the water and said, “If this sinks man will die.” It came to the surface. Then Raven threw in a mano and said, “If this sinks man will die.” It sank; therefore man dies.
Behind the house, Jane’s garden is overgrown;
between there and Eagle Pond only ghosts:
trains that run silent over the grade’s gray stones
littered with rusted steel spikes, heavy bolts.
Beside the lake, a favored spot, good for sun,
good for water, only slightly wilder than
Jane’s garden where her spring ministrations
kept the volunteer maples down, so eager
to see the seasons in and out, in and out.
Down the road a mile there is a stone where
anonymous hands swap scraps of poetry
and sea shells for pine cones, single ear rings
or other scraps of poetry, some of it
Jane’s, mostly not, some taking, some giving.
Just over the fence, a small apple tree drops
the sweetest fruit I have ever tasted.
Visiting the Painter Lady:
Canyon, Texas, 1917
Once a week for six weeks, while farmboys died in France
Pauline visited Georgia – packed up her precious paints,
her half-finished flower scenes, cranked up the Model T
and rattled down the rutted wagon track that led
away west to the newly grated gravel road,
gearing down and down toward the top of the one long hill,
pausing there to catch a breath of wind and pretend
for a moment that the scent of scrub cedar was sweet pine,
then sailing the other side in neutral, fast enough to skim
the sometime-quicksand crust of the Canadian River ford.
Pauline spent an hour with the painter lady at the College,
two neat brick buildings overlooking Palo Duro Canyon,
that sudden red rift across tawny plains so stark
as to inspire imagination in a fence post, just to fill in
the colossal emptiness. Pauline painted scenes
of mountain meadows she had never seen, portraits
of unborn daughters in starched pinafores,
a woman in a grass skirt with a ukulele. Georgia
shaped colors: rich red rifts across tawny dreams
beneath looming orchid skies.
Sudden sunlight steams the wild mustard,
heavy headed with the vanishing mist,
and for miles the scent makes the sodden heat
worth enduring: windows down, elbow slung
against the warm damp wind.
All along this southern highway clouds
rise out of the ground to surround treetop
islands, each mysterious just so long
as it takes the gray incensed fog to fade
into the yellow light.
One hot May morning thirty years gone
I walked these Navasota bottomlands
with old man Lipscomb: “I’s up way early
for a bluesman,” and he laughed at the sun.
We stood in that rich light
until Mama’s sausage and biscuits
drew us inside to a day of stories
and guitar licks I would never get right –
not even understand until I smelled
wild mustard in your hair.
Lost and certain of it
Lost and certain of it, the woods crowd in
allowing only glimpses of the track
that was so clear and broad and well traveled
only moments back where the sun fell bright
between the leaves to dapple the mast, but
lost and certain of it, the woods crowd in
spinning the senses like leaves in a wind
risen from the past to obscure the path
that was so clear and broad and well traveled.
A broad green stream appears for a moment
strewn with rippled light and autumn’s soft flames.
Lost and certain of it, the woods crowd in
and the stream slips away into the deeper shade,
taking with it the desire for the path
that was so clear and broad and well traveled,
taking with it the memory of the last
dregs of love and I am glad that I am
lost and certain of it.
Let the woods crowd out
all that is clear and broad and well traveled.
Bob Desper – Liberty – 1974
Information on Bob Desper’s Long Lost Album…