Detroit Red Wings versus Chicago Blackhawks: what hockey sounds like to a poet

Detroit Red Wings versus Chicago Blackhawks: what hockey sounds like to a poet

San Francisco, California
Sunday, May 26, 2013
(Saturday’s game)

Rosenball moves to the corner and shroud’s a pickle! Now at the blue line… down the boards… sticks a penalty to shrew Nefertiti icing a stickman. Cobb, the only non-liner vice conduct when Kareem defends a shark.   Turns out to be the ref’s high dick flying in a piss, but he wasn’t happy with it at all.  Anderson will try a ponzu on the oldest guy… a dirty-six who rattles in around and back with a peg leg full of cotton candy, but his old lady rushes it back down for seconds.   Taint’s on kick-by-keen for a change…. knifed away while Jean Burls, with some quinine, gains the last clem for the carry back, almost a gentle derision on the penalty kill but the pressure point stabilized the super-aggressive frustration ending in a family killing and an offensive nod from the king of Siam. 

 Brett’s salad comes off as a gay back with a little chin music and Roosevelt’s drifting shot had to be called soft. Local back system of change hopped around near a  muzzled pit bull, and the blackhawks have long gone giving it to the mind with a bare Jimmy Hoffa. Sharp chef turning a bag, the red wings take it across with a steam engine chugging a free lunch, and now Poland’s gonna go act dastardly and the ref’s can’t love it.

Advocator, the slack fly another dictator, cause this party’s gonna shiver a timber in a batshit mistake. Better speed wide to the outside taking a punk to the dive while Cromwell sidles in on the shoulder and pokes a snowman. Gumby’s physical play is a sight to behold. Wasn’t it great?!   

Nordpolen Journal: 5/27/13- postcards to influential strangers 9

Nordpolen Journal: 5/27/13- postcards to influential strangers 9

San Francisco, California
Monday, May 27, 2013

Click here to see the list of 15.

9. Siouxsie Sioux:

Siouxsie, other than the dead people on my list, wins the prize for most difficult to find a mailing address. There is nothing on any of her fan sites that I could discover. I spent an hour tracking down her general manager, and will send it to him in London in the hopes that it actually gets to her eventually. To add a twist, I am going to geocache this postcard in the arctic, relying upon the kindness and eventuality of a stranger to actually drop it in the mail at some point in the future. This is a longshot of longshots. However, in a little nudge of collaboration from the universe, I discovered that today is Siouxsie’s 56th birthday. I had no idea… so perhaps a sign of good fortune? We’ll see, won’t we?





Nordpolen Journal: 5/24/13- postcards to influential strangers 6a, 6b, 7 and 8

Nordpolen Journal: 5/24/13- postcards to influential strangers 6a, 6b, 7 and 8

San Francisco, California
Friday, May 24, 2013

The next four postcards to people on my list of 15:

6(a)- Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge-(a)Samuel Taylor Coleridge- (a2)6(b)- Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge- (b)Samuel Taylor Coleridge- (b2)

7. Leonard Nimoy:

Leonard NimoyLeonard Nimoy

8. T.S. Eliot:

T.S. EliotT.S. Eliot

Nordpolen Journal: 5/19/13- Postcards to influential strangers 4 and 5

Nordpolen Journal: 5/19/13- Postcards to influential strangers 4 and 5

San Francisco, California
Sunday May 19, 2013

The next two postcards to people on my list of 15:

I’ve found it difficult not to expand my list over the past few days, but I’m resisting that. It’s enough for me to complete these fifteen.

I’m open to suggestions from any of you who read this, as to what to do with the postcards I’ve written to people who are now dead. I don’t want to keep them, I want to send them out into the world somehow, but I’d like to find a really good way to do it. If you think of something, please leave me a comment with your suggestions. My ears are open.

4. Anais Nin:

Anais Nin

Anais Nin- text

5. Marvin Kaye: Okay, to my delight, after writing four postcards to people who are dead, I discovered that Marvin Kaye is still kicking. He is the current editor of Weird Tales Magazine. He was born in 1938, and oddly, one of the postcards I had sitting around is postmarked 1938. Seems appropriate, if not downright synchronous. When I sat down to write it, I suddenly became nervous. This postcard will actually get mailed, and to know there is a person on the other end who might, or might not, respond means that I’m really risking something by sending it. But, since Mr. Kaye is an editor of weird stories, I might have a bat’s chance in hell of being understood. On the other hand, he might not appreciate the repurposed post card and alarmingly small scrawl on it. That, however, is none of my concern. I can only offer my thanks, I can’t make him take them.

Marvin Kaye

Marvin Kaye- text

Nordpolen Journal: 5/17/13- postcards to influential strangers 2 and 3

Nordpolen Journal: 5/17/13- postcards to influential strangers 2 and 3

Two more from my list of 15:

2. Jacques Cousteau:

I found a postcard that someone had already written on. It was postmarked in 1976, when I was 7 years old, about the time I became aware of Messr. Cousteau and his boat, Calypso. Stamps were only 9 cents then, and grammar on stamps was not so great. The tea lid is from my friend Frances, who told me it was meant for me. It says:

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky,
and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”

John Masefield



3. Gustav Doré


The Council of the Rats, Gustav Dore

Nordpolen Journal: 5/16/13- postcards to influential strangers

Nordpolen Journal: 5/16/13- postcards to influential strangers

San Francisco, California

Today I sat down and made a list of strangers to whom I owe a fragment of my creative self. It is through their trap doors, attics, belfries, squats, closets, crawlspaces, choruses, windows, vistas, wormholes, timeslips, floorboards, rumors, hijinks, trysts, pain, curiosity, and difficulties that I have been given breathtaking glimpses of other worlds.

I would like to send each of them a postcard. Why a postcard? Because it has all the brevity of a text message, and all the fading, duct-taped-together, institutional-beige romance of the post office.  Constraint, when pouring one’s heart out a stranger, is a good thing, and if it must be imposed by a small window of blank cardstock, fully exposed for anyone to read, then that makes it both more a public declaration of love, and (hopefully) a less purple or redundant one, since I have very little space to write, and I can’t hit the “delete” key when I fuck up.

Also, I feel a little sad that sending physical objects to people with things written on them as a form of communication is now considered passe enough to be arty. I’d rather think of it as tossing a fistful of unrequited love letters into the machine, to see if I get any pingbacks.

I happen to have, in the upper-right hand drawer of my desk, a bunch of postcards I’ve been collecting for something. And this is now that something. They range from 60 years old to printed this year. Some are quite ugly, which is why I kept them:


And here’s the list, in the order that they came into my mind:


1. Susanna Clarke
2. Neil Gaiman
3. Siouxsie Sioux
4. Virtual Boy
5. Edgar Allan Poe
6. T.S. Eliot
7. Charles Fort
8. Robert Smith
9. Leonard Nimoy
10. Jack Webb/Rod Serling
11. Tim Burton
12. Gustav Doré
13. Jacques Cousteau
14. Marvin Kaye
15. Peter Murphy
16. Anais Nin
17. Camille Flammarion
18. William Butler Yeats

Now other than one or two I am not entirely sure of, I count 11 people on this list that are dead, but I’m not going to let that stop me.

Here’s the first postcard, to Edgar Allan Poe. I’ll have to figure out how to address it tomorrow.



Nordpolen Journal: 5/14/13- The Trail of Blood

Nordpolen Journal: 5/14/13- The Trail of Blood


San Francisco, California

Last week on my way to work I noticed what looked like a trail of blood drops on Judah Street. I was distracted, playing Candy Crush Saga on my phone and also listening to a podcast. I walk every day the same 20 blocks to work, so I can basically do it on autopilot. I’m not sure how, with those distractions, as well as watching for traffic, that I actually noticed the blood spatter… but I did. At first I thought, oh, somebody cut their hand and must have dripped on their way into the house.

This morning, I noticed the blood drops again, near 18th avenue. It’s been a week, and the blood has turned a brownish-black:



This morning I was struck, somehow, by the fact that the blood was still there. It hasn’t rained, but it’s been foggy and misty. I would have thought that the blood would have been washed away at this point… but there it is…

and there it was again, halfway down the block…

So I kept watching for it….

And there it was again, between 18th and 17:


And again, between 17th and 16th:


I started to question what I was seeing… is this really blood? What else could it be? Paint? Chocolate Syrup?

But it really looks like blood, and whatever happened, it happened a week ago, and whomever it happened to has now been walking at least four blocks leaving these drips and splatters every few feet.

Judging by the way the splatters are distended toward the West, I’m guessing this person was traveling East– maybe headed for the hospital, which is at the top of the hill, about 16 more blocks.  But then I noticed that the blood was very close to the houses, rather than in the middle of the sidewalk, where most people would walk, like this poor bleeding being was hugging the walls.

15th-avenueThen I saw this between 16th and 15th, and it occurred to me that it could be an injured animal, maybe a dog. For some reason, this made me more upset than thinking it had been a person. The dog might have been hit by a car at 19th, which is what Highway 1 is called as it passes through the western edge of San Francisco. It’s a dangerous, loud road, and the cars travel fast.

So is this what a dog would do if it were bleeding? I have seen animals hit by cars- they usually keep running if they can, and then either collapse or go hide under something.

But this animal has been moving in a straight line for four blocks, and at a steady but not panicked pace, from the way the drops are spaced out.


At the corner of 14th, the trail continued…

and again, midway through the block:


And I’m starting to feel… this strange mix of feelings: curiosity, disbelief, concern, wonder, doubt, worry, bafflement. I’m starting to try to find a story in this trail. What happened? When did it happen? Who did it happen to? Why did it happen? Was it an accident? Was it self-inflicted? Was it inflicted by one person an another person, or by a person on an animal, or by one animal on another animal? Was it during the day? Did anyone see it happen? Was it at night? Was it cold outside? Was there fear?

Is this person, or animal, still alive?

Midway between 14th and 13th (which is called, maybe superstitiously, Funston, rather than 13th) the trail of blood paralleled the hedge and manicured grass beside St. Anne of the Sunset church.

funston-13thavenue A woman walking her dog seemed curious that I was taking pictures of the ground, but the two of them passed by without comment. I wished I could ask her dog if it was really blood. So much would be solved by having a nose that could tell me if I was making a mistake, if my worry could be foundless, and instead I could wonder why someone would walk all this way dripping some substance other than one that signals a significant injury.

When I crossed 13th (Funston), to the next block I lost the trail. I was just beginning to feel relief, when it appeared again, halfway to 12th avenue:

12th-avenue1Again, right against a doorway and a fence… the way a dog would… sniffing at every little object, every little chemical story.

Somehow that made me feel better. If the dog has time to sniff, maybe the injury wasn’t so bad. Maybe it was just bleeding a lot. And the drops look a smaller. Maybe, at this point, it was stopping.

Midway between 12th and 11th, I found this:


Somebody’s bloody right hand.

And then the trail of drops continued between 11th and 10 avenue:

10th-avenueAnd on 10th, amid the flattened gum and coffee stains and garbage and general dirt, they disappeared.

gumNothing outside Dash Cafe. Nothing outside the Donut Shop…

except people at 9th avenue in scrubs and tennis shoes, on their way to work at the hospital, like me.


Nothing more from 9th all the way up to the hospital. Just a relatively clean sidewalk:


We are blasted daily by one crisis after another. They bloom like violent flowers, or fireworks, or solar flares, and are quickly replaced by the next crisis. I am trained to pay attention to things because they are recent, because they just happened, or are happening right now. Once the fresh injuries, the pain, the drama of the unfolding has taken place, attention shifts to something else.  Try looking for new information about a story that is a week old.

Like this blood trail, you will find mostly just the original trauma reiterated, and beginning to fade.

But something happened, and I don’t know what to do with that. I feel compelled to reach some level of explanation, some understanding. It seems like we are all compelled to find out certain things: who, what, when… and then guess at why… until we reach a point where some internal need is satisfied. A need to identify things, to make sense of things.

I have to keep walking past this trail of blood every day. I have no idea how long it will take to be washed away by the world moving on. But it won’t get washed out of me.

Nordpolen Journal: 5/12/13- Creativity and Pain

Nordpolen Journal: 5/12/13- Creativity and Pain

What is the Nordpolen Journal?

San Francisco, California

There is a kind of stereotype of writers who suffer for their work. It’s romantic. It looks like a gaunt, bearded man in an unheated garret room eating stale bread crusts for dinner. Or it looks like a not particularly attractive woman sitting at a writing desk with a fountain pen. It sometimes looks like a prisoner scratching walls in a cell, or an alienated young person furiously scribbling in a notebook, or a man at a typewriter, pounding away at the keys and trying to ride the delicate equilibrium between inspiration and inebriation.

I grew up with this stereotype, but I always thought that the pain was not a result of the writing itself, but the thing that fueled it. All the best stories seemed to have, at their core, a terrible nugget of unspeakable pain. But I have found that the opposite is actually true. No matter how emotionally difficult the subject, it is the act of writing that is the source of the pain. My mind does not work in a linear fashion. For me, every word is not a single note but a chord. One idea creates instant echoes of other ideas. Even typing as fast as I can, I can’t keep up with the glimpses and connections, and it is so difficult to find the right words. Sometimes I spend whole days actively avoiding writing, because I so dread the frustration of not being able to translate what I am seeing and feeling in my head, yet the whole day is defined by that avoidance. There is work that needs to be done… things that need to be resolved… images that want to reveal themselves… voices with a story or an idea that need to be written down.

It’s not that I feel that my thoughts and visions and ideas are so important because they are mine. They are important because they really aren’t mine. They come out of me, but they also lead me in directions I can’t predict. If I try to direct them too much, they evaporate like something important that you know you have forgotten. If I try to ignore them they nag and nag at me all day in the background- urgent and unspecific. When I do sit down to write I find my way in what feels like darkness along a path that keeps changing, and never ends up where it seems like it was headed at the beginning. It never gets easier to sit down and write.

I have spoken to other writers about this intense desire to avoid being creative, and I’ve heard a spectrum of responses. Some people have told me they would write all day long if given the chance, and that it’s something they take great pleasure in. To me, these people are like impossibly beautiful cylons: you just look at them and think… ?????

I know other writers who have gone so far the other direction that they have given up writing altogether. They carry the non-writing around like a vestigial limb. At first they talk about how they’ll take it out again and use it when they are ready, but after awhile it becomes the thing you politely don’t talk about. You can see the shape of it under their skin and in the things they don’t say out loud but are shouting silently all the time. Writers who are not writing are like haunted houses.

I want to know if this pain, this uncomfortable-yet-compelling feeling that writing produces in me is common for all artists and all creative people. I have a suspicion that it is a necessary part of the process, maybe even the reason we do it. There’s something about relieving the pain that is addictive. There’s something about dredging something out of the unconscious and into the world that is somehow so rewarding that it never loses its attraction.

There is some reward: the sensation of finding words for something that was, a moment before, ineffable. The feeling of hope that another person might read those words and experience the same internal moment of transport. But any sense of accomplishment fades almost immediately, and the need to keep traveling those internal spaces returns.

What is it, writer?

What is it, writer?

Everybody is a writer. On Saturdays, they are in cafes with their laptops. They’re waiting on your table at brunch, refilling your mimosas. At night they’re scribbling, scribbling, scribbling and waking up with a sore third eye and mistaking it for a common hangover. These writers work in offices, in the daytime sitting at a desk and keeping a blank spreadsheet open on the computer desktop to hide what they are actually doing… which might be writing to other writers they know who work desk jobs. These writers pass hilarious dog and cat animated .gifs to one another… like that one where the girl dancing across the farmyard is suddenly side-butted by an annoyed sheep. Or that dramatic prairie dog. Writers are not writing at work, because work is full of distractions, and distracted writing is like bad ironing… it’s worse than if you didn’t do it at all.

I know a writer who never writes. Or let me correct that… he has an ongoing masterpiece that is invisible except, maybe, to me… because he is always telling me about the thing he is writing that he never writes. And it changes. It has an arc, the thing that is going to be written… the thing that is about to be written… the thing that starts out in a few tentative sentences… and then decides it wants to be something else. Journals filled with descriptions of what the writing will be about, once he actually starts writing it.  Whenever he tells me about it.. whenever he shows me a few lines… there is a feeling at the back of my neck that travels into my chest, and I repress telling him that his writing is about thinking about writing, something that I once would have called a cop-out, or post-modern, or very French in some way. But now… now I think it’s just another form of writing.

I used to resent that everyone is a writer in this city. I used to feel, whenever I went into a bookstore or a library… walls and walls ceiling to floor filled with people’s lives, this utter despair. Then the internet came along and the writing filled the invisible space. The writing began to pass through my body, relayed in waves I sometimes wonder if I can feel, as someone orders frozen burritos on Instacart, or someone in a basement in Daly City texts their boyfriend in Detroit, or someone updates Facebook with a picture of their pug. People write while they walk, while they sit on the toilet, while they wait for the bus. People write while they skateboard and while they stand in line, and while they shop. People walk into poles and crash their cars writing. It’s like a spring morning so full of birds there is no longer any silence from which to distinguish the sound of words and words and words and words and words.

Shakespeare Revealed in Edward de Vere

People at parties sometimes ask me, “so what do you do?” And I know they mean, “what’s your job?” And I used to tell them what I do for money, and then for awhile I would say I am a writer, and when I got really brave I started to be even more honest and tell them I am a poet. But it never had the effect I thought it would. I never thought that the same questions would arrive in response again and again… the kind of questions that make me drink.

What, writer, have you done of merit with your life. What have you written down that I might have heard of. Have I heard of you? Have you broken hearts and sewed them back together? Did you say that thing that became an internet meme? Did the New Yorker have to ask their cartoonist to create something inspired by your lines about cancer and dogwood blossoms? Or did you break some rules with your mighty wit? What is it writer? What is your writing about?

An Evening of Adventure with Chicken John, Tupelo Hassman, Joshua Mohr and Sarah Fran Wisby

An Evening of Adventure with Chicken John, Tupelo Hassman, Joshua Mohr and Sarah Fran Wisby


An Evening of Adventure with Chicken John, Tupelo Hassman, Joshua Mohr and Sarah Fran Wisby

  • Join us for an Evening of Adventure inspired by the creative process and the spirit of exploration. Hosted by Evan Karp and LJ Moore, the evening will feature interactive performances by Chicken John Rinaldi, Tupelo Hassman, Joshua Mohr, and Sarah Fran Wisby, as well as short interviews with each performer, and a chance for the audience to creatively respond and interact.The event is a mini-fundraiser for LJ’s Moore’s upcoming expedition to sail the arctic circle on a tall ship, where she will document the effect of isolation and extreme environment on the creative process of a group of artists and scientists aboard the ship.The arctic has long symbolized the spirit of adventure for the sake of adventure itself… to get to a place because no one has been there, and a place that is completely conceptual… a point on the globe that means something to us not because of what’s there, but because of what it means as an idea. This reaching toward the unknown is at the heart of the creative process, and in that spirit, we want to create an evening based around the idea of adventure and creativity.Want to be part of this adventure?Equipment List:
    1. shoes you can walk in
    2. a paper and pen/pencil
    3. a warm jacket
    4. a flask (with water or spirits, whatever you like)
    5. a sense of adventure

    Tickets are $10 at the door.

    Chicken John Rinaldi

    Tupelo Hassman

    Suzanne Kleid
    Suzanne Kleid writes, and sells things, in San Francisco.

    Joshua Mohr

    Sarah Fran Wisby

    Evan Karp

    LJ Moore

80 Fresno Street, San Francisco, California 94133