David Meltzer & Aya: In Dialogue


Knowing David Meltzer

David Meltzer and Aya
Courtesy Aya

David Meltzer

New Poem for Idell (Aya) (1/17/51)

the creating of yesterday with a sad respect for shadow takes more than the eye of growth that watches things take shape and watches things take death and assume the shape of no-more and no longer seeing even dust from where a flower arched its face into the laughter of the sun. it takes more than the eye and more than the heart can see and more than the riddle can define by dancing through its own soul of mirrors in order to devour its tail. it takes more and more spreads wings inside the eye and behind the eye and behind the heart like many fences protecting life from living and knowing the guilt of enclosure even within a truth to be death. the creation of tomorrow with unsure awe of unknown known takes more than assumption even if assumption weeps seeds and beings beyond fingertips to touch the remaining feelings that do not pulse upon the touch or shift upon the breath of all withdrawn kisses. it takes more than assumption to create tomorrow and more than whispers and more than kissing shadows or touching seeds laying dormant upon the earth. it takes more and more means even yourself making poems from the blood-rose between your poet-eyes. it takes more and more takes today and shapes it into a star that looks god-perfect a million light-years from home.



New Poem for David (9/16/02)

every time i open to you and unroll the field of frenzied wildflowers and call down the fierceness of the sun and push up the softness of the skinpetals over the mountains and glass valleys of my cities you find your way in and pour the hungry poet's bloody street child into my mouth and man my decks and swab my soliloquies and put wings on my sliding rocks so we can both fly and pay homage to the gift called life as back upon the planet we always die into the day. it takes more and more and more and more to descend from that starry altar and ride the rails of realness and super-reason and sweat clean the meaning of who and where and why we are and what great landlord rented out our room to ranting rascals reminiscing over last summer's leftover picnics, last winter's rolling danceathon, last night's holy sweat lodge that had and never will have winners. and even after swimming in each other coughing tender manic words all over the playpen onto the walls and ceilings of that truth we don't even get and wetting our young/old hearts with potions from the sea and seeing nothing else but blubber and baloney we wade deeper into wonder and madhatterdom even when weeping gently into the most delectable neck and clutching the most sacred hand. and heaven weighs on us and hell sucks us in and words as knives carve filigree patterns in our souls and who is there and who isn't and why do the pictures spin like unspooled movie film and all we catch are fragments splatted on a screen, the faces of the dreams the places of the grand "assumption" that we lived and loved each other more than death yet never ready for the skeleton of now which knocks upon the temple door and bangs the empty bowl upon the floor and asks the only question: more?

and gets the only answer: more.


The Underground Is Alive and Well in L.A. (from Notes 6/26/92)

Recently, we drove from our new view home in Cottonwood, Arizona, to see my old dear friend David read at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. We have corresponded for over thirty-five years now, and our bond is superglued for eternity; kind of like brother/sister, pals on the path, poets in waiting, spirit siblings who respond to the same call. He is precious to me as my own unique self, which sometimes emerges in my poems when i'm not obscuring the Light. The years haven't been easy for us. Yet we continue to grow, to send those letters, redefining our realities, sharing discoveries, becoming holy mirrors for each other's souls.

The reading room and adjoining bookstore was packed shockingly tight. My friend Barb was there to meet us, excited by all the heavyweights in one place. Beyond Baroque is finally self-supporting and a fitting showplace for poets and artists of some note. There wasn't any room to move that night, and we, my significant partner and i, were offered half-price tickets to listen from the outer lounge. There was a lot of intense energy flying around. Where was it all from -- today's Venice coterie, all still doing it, writing and art and mind-exploring, with New Age funk styles thrown in?

I had been a Venice resident only once, during the early sixties. Half of my friends are gone now, but some were still there looking more busily involved than ever. F., a recovered drug addict/poet/recovery group guide, who has seen hell and lived to draw the map, is a picture of good health. George, another friend who grows younger by the year, still making art out of garbage, the original cosmic recycler (along with the late Wallace Berman and an artist named Jess, who i didn't know had an exhibition up the street somewhere). And George's grown daughter, who i knew as a sweet child, with her own S.C. And Cameron, the one and only, always the phoenix bird, master crone magician and expert great granny of them all. Marsha the magnificent, Phil and John (she put me in a movie with Allen Ginsberg), and more and more faces i hadn't seen for so long and always knew and know and love.

The flicks were old ones, fifties wobbly experimentals from Jordan Belsan, several others; a Wally Berman short -- flashback before dying, ending with the late Bob Alexander taking a hit in his clenched fisted arm. The downside of the good old days. I was there, but i didn't care for that side. For one thing, the powders and potions killed off my friends -- fast or slow, it was a wild route to Nirvana.

Anyway, Tosh (Wally's son, who i hadn't seen in some twenty-five years) was now the MC in charge of the production, with a touch of his father's inspired diffidence and his mother Shirley's cool. We elders were scattered all about and it was kind of amusing to be spectators at a review of one's own history!

After the films (which some of us could barely see because of the crowds), i got to touch David at last, and here we were again, in this brief non-moment, all those lives and deaths later, pen pals till the end. It always shakes us up to actually meet in the skin, so to speak, so i can't remember many of the actual mumblings we exchanged. I know we joked about aging and my screwed-up eyesight and his wife's confrontation with cancer, and he with his cane due to an artificial hip. He said it was a good thing that we change because it reminded us of our mortality. I replied that i knew that already and hated being reminded (actually, it's the root of my compulsive hyperactivity -- so time-conscious with all my Zen training).

Then Mike McClure gave a reading from his various works. Don't think i ever heard him read, though once in S.F. in the fifties we were on the same bill, but i was too nervous to listen. In fact, it was David who urged me to go out and do it, read to an audience, that is. I always felt exposed, zipped open when i read, but that's part of the high, i suppose. George calls it Giving a Shit: you give away your leftovers, your digested and undigested accumulations so there's room for more. Actually, George is a great teacher of the magick of recycling; being a Cancer, he understands ebb-and-flow cycles well.

Mike paced around the stage, with one arm outstretched and his book in the other, very dramatic, always theatrical, a playwright and an actor, poet and teacher ...

Then David, still, quiet, never demanding of your attention, instead sucks your mind-soul in with rolling imagery, wry comments, deprecating smiles and frowns and tentative page-turnings. He goes from the ultra-mundane to the outer limits of sophistry, inspiration, and vision. He's everywhere and right here, unsupported by his obvious erudition, supernaturally inquisitive into the workings of the heart and mind, Kabbalistic teachings, view of the big Scene ... and generous with his gifts.

So i got it all, cramped and enclosed in a space that seemed so packed with poets. I got it all -- the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties. Although the last three decades feel somehow more out of focus than the earlier one. (I was someone else then, married to someone not of this school, unraveling some karmic knots that nearly killed me, did kill him, but ultimately made us both stronger. I pray he rests in peace, along with the loved ones who snipped our karmic threads in the past few years.)

And we go on, at least some of us. We show up at these events that some of us pay with blood and tears to enter, opening again doors filled with memories, wakes, celebrations, reviews, reunions, recitals. We turn up and turn in and remember who we are in those rare rooms full of familiar relics and new amazements (from "the old poems with the new night," as David reminded us).

It was a long ride for me and my Novio to make, from one state to another. But i have many gardens to still see and smell here in my hometown of L.A. They aren't the ones i originally planted, but from other scattered seeds, generations later, popping out of cracks, preserved in old structures, books, basements, and caverns of the consciousness. I like to visit them once in a while. It's a ghost dance that keeps me going when all is quiet and all i can hear is a hawk screaming or a sudden choking in my heart, or even over the whiz/whir of my computer waiting for me to sign on and identify my self.


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