Monthly Archives: September 2017


Choosing three (each under 35 lines) was nearly impossible, but not… I had help.


(if you click on it, it’s easier to read. I’m still not entirely in control here…


Three from the Guggenheim Collection, Venice



  1. Henri Laurens, Testa di ragazzina, terra cotta, 1920

A Greek muse,
her profile
fractured along
pensive and severe,
blithe and lovely,
turned this way
and that
each faces
a different



2. Franz Kline, Senza Titolo, ink on paper

Chinese character
hastily brushed on a bank
of slow-melting snow.


            3. Luigi Russolo, Solidita’ della Nebbia (Solidity of Fog), 1912, oil on canvas

Bright blue world
refracted all cubist by the
brutal searchlights
of camps not yet built
beyond trenches not yet dug
for wars not yet fought.

But it’s nothing, really,
only the twisted fog previewing
freak shows soon to go off like popcorn
in the red hot time machine.

Hallucination becomes memory
on the deja vu merry-go-round of mushroom clouds
and backyard bomb shelters
instead of barbecues.

It is the One-Step-Forward-
through the cosmic soup of time,
flashing all stroboscopic
with the solidity of fog.











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Watsu with Nicola Kapala

I am 72 years old and in generally good health, but I had to replace both my hips this year thanks to arthritis, the right on January 18 and the left on July 11. It has been a long year of pain and recuperation. I love long walks and I customarily walk three or four miles  daily, but haven’t been able to take a good walk since December 2016. My body misses the sunlight, the fresh air, and any physical motion free of pain between 5 and 8 on the universal pain scale.

Thus, it was my great good fortune this year to meet Nicola Kapala through a mutual friend and to benefit from her healing talents. My opinions below are based on two sessions in the water with Nicola.



Both sessions were at Belisle Ranch and Retreat in Avery, Wisconsin. Belisle is beautifully rural and relatively remote; about an hour and a quarter in light traffic northeast of St. Paul. Belisle is buffered from the rest of the world by 1,000 acres of rolling farmland. The ranch also has an indoor heated pool, a whirlpool, fitness room, horses, cattle, and nature trails. Jeff, the owner – and master of the water – is himself a watsu aficionado and practitioner.

The pool is located in a barnlike room of fragrant cedar. Sunlight splashes through the trees outside the window. The pool is immense. The water is 94° and is kept carefully balanced by Jeff. There’s nobody else in the water but Nicola and me. All I hear is water rippling and birds singing.

Nicola speaks briefly, asking what my expectations are as she seamlessly eases into the fluid watsu movements. Initially she cradles me in her arms, supporting my head. Flotation pads around my arms or ankles add buoyancy. She moves me slowly, first in subtle wavelike motions, and then, depending upon one’s particular needs, she manipulates your body. I imagine that the routines are as varied as the people and the motion of the water. It felt like a spontaneous pas de deux we worked out on the spot.

Nicola focuses on my hip muscles. As she extends and then flexes my arm, my body twists gracefully in the water. The slightest pressure reverses my direction. The water caresses my skin. Nicola alternately flexes my arm or my leg, she rotates me, she extends me, she stretches me and then compresses me and releases me.

With my eyes closed I lose all sense of direction, of time and space. The nearly body-temperature water is hypnotically soothing and Nicola’s movements induce a deep relaxation which releases a tremendous sense of well-being. That feeling, for me, is the quintessence of the experience, the pearl in the oyster, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It lasted for a small eternity.

It is clear to me that Nicola is gifted, that this is her métier, and we are the beneficiaries of her gifts. She was trained by the founders and creators of the watsu discipline at Harbin Hot Springs in northern California. Like all shamen, she followed a calling that changed her life. She told my partner Steve that as she manipulates our bodies she is praying; that the physical motions are part of her prayer; and that is what she’s doing when we close our eyes and join the dance.

If I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be bliss.

My second session lasted an hour and fifteen minutes in the water, eyes shut, in near perfect silence, focusing on my breathing while Nicola gently coaxed the tension and stress of pain from my body. Once again I experienced an intense and protracted feeling of timelessness and well-being. For a small eternity I was a lily pad floating across a ripple on a pond.

And then it was over.

I hope to do this regularly. Nicola is a maestra and a bargain at any price. I feel particularly lucky that she lives in the Twin Cities and has access to two suitable pools to practice her particular form of healing magic. She also operates at The Marsh in Minnetonka. I haven’t been there yet, because I especially like the way Belisle Ranch, even though it is a longer drive, takes me to a world of handsome horses, barns, corrals, meadows, and rolling green hills.
















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Two for Ken

A humble tip of the hat to poet and novelist Ken Fontenot, part of the Austin / Alamo Bay Press posse, a mensch and a muse.


Two for Ken.
With love and admiration.




It’s Here.
for Samuel Beckett, dead yesterday


The building that housed the future lies in ruins;

four naked flagpoles, a crumbling facade,

cracked earth and broken stones.


Yesterday the Premier and his wife

sat on damask sofas eating caviar;

today they feed the worms.


“The future,” you ask. “What future?”

You still don’t get it. The future started a long time ago

and we still don’t know how to use it.

We aren’t changing fast enough.


“No,” you say, meaning yes, there is still a tomorrow

just like yesterday, just like today;

“no,” meaning you aren’t responsible for the outcome;

“no,” meaning you can’t tune it in;

“no,” meaning you can’t let go;

“no,” meaning either way you hold it in your hands

and don’t know what to do with it.

Stripped naked, you eat flesh and destroy.


The wind blows. You dream of fresh air

and plenty as the lines settle around

your hard mouth.

“I’ve had a good life,” you say,

meaning that it didn’t hurt as

bad as it could. Resigned, you tell me

you could die with equanimity.

The horror of it all lies not in evil,

in deception, in pain or starvation, no.

The horror lies in how

it just goes on and on.


“No,” you say, meaning there is still a

brighter dawn. Behold the fires blazing

in the west and the sun rising in the east.

“No,” you say, meaning if you looked beyond

the easy pleasures, driving hunger, and

a vast appetite for sorrow, another day has begun.

You may call it tomorrow, but it is today.


Your feet are cold. The furnace is broken.

You can’t get that tune out of your head.

It strikes like an earthquake

and you don’t know what it means

but nothing is the same

so you close our eyes

and keep on breathing.


Larry Mellman
Los Angeles, December 23, 1989





Room Service


Everything ticks

like a bomb going off

whether you hear it

or not.


One more drink,

one more cigarette,

one more killing,

one more cup of coffee

one more accidental mutilation,

conflagration, immolation,

decapitation, strangulation.

A drive-by shooter kills a baby.

A man who might have been a saint

is lynched in a cottonwood tree.


“This place is too crazy,”

the Frenchman says.

“If you are hit by a car,

and have no medical insurance

do they leave you bleeding

in the street?” he asks.

“It’s not that way in France.”



Tick. Tick. Tick.

It’s always something.

Something about dying

that drives almost




Lie. Lie. Lie.

The mirror.

The clock.

The refrigerator.

Lies we tell

all the way around

to protect ourselves

from other people’s lies.

“For you, I’d make love

to a crocodile.”

“Give me a call.”

“You can count on me.”

Or worse yet,

nothing at all.


Passing through,

a ghost leaving only fog behind,

skid marks on wet asphalt

and diamonds scattered

by an exploding windshield.

The future already

happened; it’s the past

that continually changes.



Tick. Tick. Tick.

Strange creatures

come and go.

A gruesome-looking

piece of blubber;

the most exquisite embodiment

of human form:

bubbles blown

by a gum-chewing Ubangi

with a stethoscope

stuck to his forehead.


It’s something

only the Marx Brothers

could get away with

and it’s always worse

than you think.

The mirror.

The clock.

The refrigerator.

The 11:00 news.



A tenor in a white tuxedo

jacket and black bow tie

sings love songs

to a pale brunette soprano

with flowers in her hair;

fountains turn into

a white Busby Berkley


where nothing really

matters at all

except spinning

in perfect circles

in toe shoes,

wearing pink lipstick and

a diaphanous black skirt,

whirling like a top.

That’s everything

in a nutshell.


“There is something worse…”

the dead novelist said.

“Not knowing.”


Larry Mellman
Oceanside, CA. 1990.





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