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Saturday, 18 July 2009




This habitual convergence of images half waking
Dawn returns to the ancestral village
Where a house on stilts is raised
As by elongated legs of water birds
Up above the surface of the lagoon
The noiseless slap of oars is soft and cool

Palafito house, Venezuela: photo by Peter & Jackie Mann, 2002


xileinparadise said...

Tom -- reminds me of Feb of '86. Two and a half feet in the house. Here's what I wrote about it (first line by an ancient Chinese poet).

"Waves pounded walls river flooded yards"
looking back it wasn't too good a year
stacking my books high above water's reach
but everything else all blanketed in mud
I joked that if it were to happen again
I would build my next house on top a boat
rain spatters windows not funny any more
petals scatter on a puddle’s surface

Phanero Noemikon said...

Swamp monkeys!

Anonymous said...

Your words led me it into that fantasy world for a while. I could hear the blessed silence of dawn.

TC said...


I've been having this "stilt house" dream for a while now. It's definitely a fantasy world and I have no idea where it comes from. Sometimes I'm in Thailand, sometimes it's South America... and yes, the dawns are always perfectly silent. No machine noise of any kind, only the sounds of gentle waters and birds awakening...


... and thanks to you, I'm certain the next time this dream arrives the dawn silence will be broken by the lovely screams of the swamp monkeys.


The "not funny any more" aspect I can understand. Not that anything could ever match the scale of your deluges up on the River, but we seem to have been followed around by floods e'er since the winter of '68-'69 when one night in our little prefab box house at Nymph & Cherry we were awakened in the night by gentle gurgling sounds. Groggily I put out a hand from the bed and found we were elbow deep in water. Later in Colorado we landed by a creek which shortly invaded our basement with a foot of water. Back in Berkeley then, another creek, this one subterranean, oozed up to create indoor lakes in that deluge year of '86 and several later El Niño years as well. Is this some kind of fate tagging us for the River of the Underworld?

Through This Long Winter of Freakshows and Floods

xileinparadise said...

Tom -- how well I remember your poem from At Malibu, you patching the roof in the middle of a storm shaking your fist at the sky. I lived in a ground floor apt. in Oakland and the water came in between the floor and the bottom of the wall. Maybe it just means that as a species we're not waterproof.

Mariana Soffer said...

tom very nice short text, it is just enough to show and transmit nature s athmosphere, and what goes on inside it.
Thanks for always transporting me to those great and beautifull places, where I like to be

TC said...


You are always welcome, your congenial presence stabilizes the stilt-house and makes it feel like home.

human being said...

hi Tom...
now i know you name!

and i'm laughing like mad... at myself... when i was on your profile page a few hours ago, i visited your other blogs but not this one... now i just don't know why... why didn't it occur to me that was your name?!! crows are strange creatures... they even surprise themselves!!

and you were so kind... and directed the crow to the right place... a dreamy place... a haven... full of words and images that soothe... that make you think... and see the world from a new window...

and this poem is so peaceful and nostalgic... i espeically liked the image of the house on stilts as a water bird... it creates a sense of flight... just in a second a new consciousness is created... something stable like a house is converted to a flying creature... and you feel you are elevated... to the heights... that you are free like a bird... (you have both the safety of the house and the risk and freedom of the flight)

love your poetry...

today i wrote another series of seven minimals... i'm going to put it up... i don't know how long it takes as my internet is not very fast... and i get disconnected repeatedly...

surely comments from a poet like you mean a lot to me...

love and peace to you

TC said...

Human Being,

Thank you so much for the kind comments, you've found here exactly the things I've been wanting to share.

This will perhaps help locate me for you a little more specifically:

A Meditation Outside the Fertile Grounds Cafe

These are great people who have offered me generosity and friendship though I'm but a strange well-meaning old infidel.

Here you can get to know the characters in the poem a bit better, it's worth the half-minute:

Mohamed at Fertile Grounds

I'm looking forward to your minimals, I'm sure each one will be a step into our common future.

poetowen said...

I'm a few posts behind, and just found this one. Yes, me too--the stilt house dreams. Imagine myself staring at the surface of the still water.

"I think I'm so sophisticated
cuz I'm living my life like a
good homosapien..."

human being said...

thanks a lot Tom for the links...
the poem was a wow and i crowed there...

think your friends are blessed to have you... such a sensitive soul to translate their sufferings and hopes into such influential language...

what a pity i cannot see the video... Youtube is filtered here... the other day a friend gave me the link to Keeptube so that i can download the videos... i could see two... but that was all! yesterday i found out that i cannot use it anymore... it was filtered too!
c'est la vie!

TC said...

human being,

Keep calling out and you will be heard, a time will come. I have earlier sent you a link to a video from inside the dark city of the night of June 19, in which a woman asks plaintively, Where is this place that no one listens? And now I see that you remain in the dark. But even here our lights remain at best deceptive and temporary.

I think what happens next will have to be a matter of hands reaching out and voices calling in the dark. To be touched and to be heard, these are human things that throw us back into a world of stilt houses lost to time and desert cities waiting to be reborn.

Here for you (the middle image) is

A crow in full dive...yet soon to rise again on the wind


That last phrase is so wonderfully oxymoronic, it defeats itself but the victory is a case of pyrhiccups or maybe Evian water, in fact let's get an outrigger and some Damiana and snooze our way back to the lacustrine villages of the floating world.

Ape Man (1970) (click to see Ray sing it)

think Im sophisticated
cos Im living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me everybodys multiplying
Till theyre walking round like flies man
So Im no better than the animals sitting in their cages
In the zoo man
cos compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
I am an ape man
I think Im so educated and Im so civilized
cos Im a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I dont feel safe in this world no more
I dont want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man
Im an ape man, Im an ape ape man
Im an ape man Im a king kong man Im ape ape man
Im an ape man
cos compared to the sun that sits in the sky
Compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an ape man
In mans evolution he has created the cities and
The motor traffic rumble, but give me half a chance
And Id be taking off my clothes and living in the jungle
cos the only time that I feel at ease
Is swinging up and down in a coconut tree
Oh what a life of luxury to be like an ape man
Im an ape, Im an ape ape man, Im an ape man
Im a king kong man, Im a voo-doo man
Im an ape man
I look out my window, but I cant see the sky
cos the air pollution is fogging up my eyes
I want to get out of this city alive
And make like an ape man
Come and love me, be my ape man girl
And we will be so happy in my ape man world
Im an ape man, Im an ape ape man, Im an ape man
Im a king kong man, Im a voo-doo man
Im an ape man
Ill be your tarzan, youll be my jane
Ill keep you warm and youll keep me sane
And well sit in the trees and eat bananas all day
Just like an ape man
Im an ape man, Im an ape ape man, Im an ape man
Im a king kong man, Im a voo-doo man
Im an ape man.
I dont feel safe in this world no more
I dont want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an ape man.

TC said...

OK, now you click to see Ray sing:

Ape Man (1970)

human being said...

let's not give up hope
let's build stilt houses of poetry
even in the the driest deserts

our hearts
will send down
enough rain

thanks for everything, Tom...

TC said...

"And I cry so that a returning cloud might carry my tears..."

human being said...

you are a beautiful soul...

TC said...


My friend, it is I who should bow to you.