Steve Mork, vocals, jug, bass, in the PH PHactor Jug Band. Photo taken by Herb Greene at the wall in Herb’s studio. This photo is part of the band’s archive.

Girl magnet, musician, farm boy, literature major, veteran of the US Army, vagabond, taxi driver, gregarious, well-loved, divorced, re-married twice, at least three kids and many g-kids. My friend, lover, playmate, housemate, funny, easy-going, hard-working. I was lucky to have reunited with him via email the last four years of his life, twenty-five years after our parting words that hadn’t been unfriendly. I simply had to slip out from under his shadow to find myself.

Our youngest daughters are the same age—we traded parenting tips. We learned about each other’s families, lives, and what was right and what went wrong with our together time which lasted four years 1964-68. Though we couldn’t be a family, Steve went on after me to find religion (Yogananda) and love. He was his same old self at the end, but secure in his faith, happily reunited with children and family.

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For Lois Who Read Me The Li-Young Lee Poem

photo by Merimee

by Merimee Moffitt

That bright day toronjas not lemonade

fifty cents each, large and lumpy

picked from a Grandpa’s yard in Arizona

bursting with sweetness out of this world.

Remember the Hood River peaches hanging over the fence?

We rollicked in juice and hungry luck that day.

Ran across the fifty-years-ago highway and jumped into the Columbia

bobbing like fruit in a wash barrel.

And the day you parked your truck under the Bings

in that old filling station lot on the back road to Eugene?

I climbed atop the cab filling the looseness of my blouse

or was it my full skirt, with cherries so ripe,

so imperially rich, you sat fidgeting, beautiful you,

your chambray sleeves rolled up

afraid it wasn’t fair to get so much so easily,

you who grew up on a farm, knowing the cops hated

your hair and face and perfect body, hated my attitude

that we could take what we wanted as if the fruit gave permission.

The cherries were all we’d eat that day, living entirely outside the law.

 

And fifty years later, it’s grapefruits from Arizona

sold by darling girls, their brothers standing with toy swords

to protect them should la Migra happen by.

We can barely believe our good luck at these

golden globes of champagne-colored fruit, sold by

the children who believe in and practice protecting

their rights.

“For Lois . . .” was recently published in the Summer  2017 issue of Persimmon Tree, an online mag for, by, and about women 60 and older, in the Short Takes section.

 

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Barefoot John Hendricks in Bearskin Coat

John Hendricks, for some reason, met us on the stoop that morning. Maybe he hadn’t yet moved into the little efficiency on the second floor. John Browne’s pad, also on the second floor, was spacious. The attic even more so, as it happened to have an almost complete hardwood floor, making it possible for two other members of the PH PHactor Jug Band to room just above us, all part of the same rent.  Steve and I had the second bedroom, and gratefully, the pad had one an extra water closet off the entry hall. The place was plain jane fare, but it had a good kitchen and living room and it was home. Eventually, little Greggory Stockert would knock on our door, and we voted him in on the spot as chief kitchen boy, which he suggested, in order to apprentice  to the masters Nick Ogilvie and John Browne.

On that particular bright San Francisco morning, John had come from wherever he’d spent the night to divvy up the tips from the previous night’s gig at the Matrix. As was often the case, John was barefoot, sporting a top hat, beaver skin most likely, and warm and cozy in his bearskin coat. He was a virtuoso mandolin player having come from a musical family somewhere on the East Coast. Was it Maine?  Land’s End comes to mind. He was a gentleman and a sensitive guy, easily identified by his monocle. John did not wear glasses, just the monocle, and the girls adored him.

Thanks to Herb Greene, aka the photographer of Haight Street, we have some documentation since hippies rarely had cameras or money for film and development. John’s  fame in Portland was large for his few years of survival post Summer of Love. RIP dear John Hendricks.

 

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Ben Klein’s book creates a link between the then and the now.

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David Hoffman is the first photo in Ben Klein’s beautiful book Irwin Klein and the New Settlers, photos taken by Ben’s uncle Irwin Klein. The negatives were rescued by Irwin’s brother Alan Klein and recently published in a photo documentary of Counter Culture types tucked away in the hills and valleys of Northern New Mexico circa 1970.

David took a nostalgia tour a few weeks ago with his daughter Iris, and as we’ve been in contact since Ben’s book was released, I invited him to visit on his way back to the airport. We spent a delightful evening and morning comparing notes of our mutual friends and acquaintances, many of them pictured in the Kleins’ photo book. I hadn’t seen David for fifty years! The conversation revealed truths I’d never known about because hippies most often didn’t delve into the past. We were about being in the Now. The tao of hippie-ism was living life fully in the moment.

David had scuttlebutt on my first old man’s first wife that was interesting to me now.  He had his versions of what was going on in that house on Woolsey Street quite different from mine. I didn’t even remember that he had lived there, yet he vividly described me with irrefutable facts. Eight hours of mad chatting just wasn’t enough to even clarify the time line, much less find out about who was alive or dead, and who had done what in the in-between time.  A truly exciting visit.

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Zero Degrees of Certainty

empty swing syndrome

I try to put a lid

on happiness. Someone

said Don’t bank on this

period of sobriety.

Yesterday, you put a good

tire on your daughter’s car

for her to get to

work three hours away.

You notice three

missing lug nuts, and she

follows you to Auto Zone.

The groceries I’d bought

on ice in the trunk. We shopped

so she’d have food because

I could and you

take her

shoe shopping

for work shoes

as a way to be with her.

At goodbyes in the 103 degree

parking lot, you waved to me

two fingers to your lips

a sharp look in your eye

a thank you, and I love you, and

for all this I  knock on wood.

Might as well be building a porch

around the structure of our

family, where we all  hang

out, me with a cane for tap, tap, tapping,

the babies in swimsuits, and hope

tunneling through the whole mess

like an army of angels.

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No Job, No Pay, No Way

photo for La Palabra.a book of poems and photos about our bodies

photo for La Palabra.a book of poems and photos about our bodies

No job, no pay, no way

In spite of

he can’t read in spite of

Roe v Wade

in spite and spit

on his feet,

in spite of feel retreat or kill

in spite of Gloria’s smile

gone south

in spite of we’ve been had

again, the ceiling low enough

to knock in spite of dancing

in high heels

it’s how we’ve been sad

again in spite of her no smile’s

the work’s begun

again and Susan B.

re fracking fucking and getting

bashed, again, in spite of spit

or shit this president

this fakeyumpalous, pretentious man

is not my pres

I choose decline

in spite of elves’ unholy

Never mine. Not now. Not ever.

Not mine.

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I Saw a Tiny Woman

I saw a tiny woman on page one of the Times.

A turquoise scarf holds her flowing hair off the sticky resin she gathers.

Where are her sons? For the magenta-poppies sunset in Mayanmar,

a sole reporter treks to see her.

She stands without a man, without a son.

Her hand grips the bag, the other plucks pods to stuff into her sack.

 

Her joyous clothing belies the effect on our side of the globe.

As the poppies disrobe, they drip their amber juices.

Stripes on her bag tie tightly to her waist, the colors

of the earth and orange-gold poppies, her open-necked shirt

reveals burnished skin.

 

Her family used to grow for medicine: stomach aches, accidents,

but they too, have sons smitten to shards of themselves,

laid waste by the needle, the smoke of the resin, powder defiling the nose,

love shrinks back to the size of a seed.

The flowers open and propagate medicine that banishes pain.

Grown on hilltops, one small , qne tiny packet inside a pillowcase will feed her family for a year.

.

The tree-dotted fairy-land rolls to the edge of the earth.

The hills are quiet as men come for bribes pushed into fists.

Trades are made. High stakes for high grade dope from

the Golden Triangle into which our children disappear.

“Heroin,” you said, “is the drug I’m afraid of.”

And your anger rose and swept you away in a stream. I miss your smile.

Your son asks if I’ve seen you; we are partners in missing you.

 

Your small notebook sits by the phone.

Neat entries of names, numbers, and debts

You protected us from your compelling

need to use, took your business elsewhere.

You have covered your power with rags,

laid siege to your sanity. The pretty girlfriend,

one or both of you may wake up alive.

Which cruel world are you hiding from or in?

And your son? And your daughter?

 

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