Volume 9 of Aprhrodite's Garden: 1988-1989 August-January  work & days: a lifetime journal project  









In part 1 we lose the City Properties fight and an acre of land. I go to bed with Rob, redesign the garden. Part 2 sexual joy, go with Louie and Laiwan to Saturna Island. Part 3 start to use the pendulum with the cards and so can work more specifically.

Notes: film technology, Gleick Chaos, Howard Gardner on cognitive science, James Tenny on sound, pagan sources on Aphrodite and Priapus, the opening of De rerum natura, Sappho, West Coast anthropology, Robin Riddington on the Dunne-za, scrying, Plato, physics, Hawking, Blake, Castenada, bookwork summary, grain film notes, Robert Jackson Dead shaman.

Mentioned: Muggs Sigurgeirson, Marianne Pengali, Eric Erickson, Rob Mills, Michael Voskamp, Rowen, Agnes Thom, city counselors Puil and Belemy, Carole Taylor, Jim Green, Laiwan, Jam Ismail, Joyce Frazee, Josie Cook, Reiner Loewan, Louie E, Mary Epp, Leah Rosling, Ingrid Pincott, Luke, Jan-Marie Martell, Paul Kinsella, Sue Ditta, Betty MacPhee.

Strathcona Community Garden, 824 E Pender, Carnegie Centre, Saturna Island, Welcome Café, Prior Street.

Environment Canada, CBC 6 O'clock News, Province newspaper, Vancouver Park Board. Alpha Cine, the NFB, Canaletto, Lis Rhodes workshop at Cineworks, CFDW, Aurorra, the East Ender, Art Gallery of Ontario catalog, Bart Testa Recent Work from the Canadian Avant-Garde, Daphne Marlatt, tessera 6, Don McLeod of McLeod's Books, Ursula le Guin, Night of the hunter, Chris Dewdney, Pat Califia Macho sluts, Polar Continental Shelf Project, Moskvitin, Mary Warnock, notes in origin, LA Law.

23rd August 1988

It's not a time when we can get next, no, but we see the evening all the way through, meteor a streaking spark gone out before we stop seeing its appearance, three stars the summer triangle, that then became Cygnus in Alberta. Moon was white in pink, yellower and higher in dark blue, so on, the little mountain ash standing as they will all through the night by themselves. Enough. But are we playing chicken. As if I'd have to make the first move and I'm not going to.

26th, day after

What's the headline. I went up to speak without knowing what I would say. Held a pause. That was interesting. I got silence. - Oh, the best was, like for Muggs, my lot applauded when I went up. That made it possible for me to stand there in silence 'til I knew what I was going to say, and then later, in the stream of speech, I was so little divided from what I was saying, was that it? that I only fractionally could notice the way it was. I can't recover it. I don't know if it was good but it was commanding. It was beyond anything I've ever done. I put myself at the mercy of silence and they were at its mercy too.

And. Is this the same thing? It was so beautiful a one ("Does this run in the family?") and on so loving a one. What else, a sweet night not at all wide but very close, a face I didn't much like to see, or, a face I was loving while not liking to see, so rapt a patience of holding. "Ruthless hunger."

There's something unreal and at a remove, maybe it was what came, the moment he found out it wasn't a right leg only shorter. A blank of pain. I don't want to face you. It was pain and also patience, whatever it is I'll want to know it. He didn't meet it there, buying time maybe.

Oh supervisor how did you know that about him.

"It's nice standing with you." "It's amazing."

Should I talk about the hearing too. It was your fans says Michael.

A room full at first, emptier later with the wild ones of us pacing. That will have to stand for it.

I'm here in my bed mooning. You're industrious talking to bee people. Aeroplanes plowing the hills.

What's beautiful about it. It's straight flared broad doesn't fall over. Why am I going on about it. Because here's somebody who is clean and smells his socks before he puts them out the window, doesn't smoke, doesn't frighten me, says his own part, tho' in a squeaky voice, what else, lies so lightly in my arms I could hold him through an hour of sleep, in a passion of love, what he inspires is love, mysteriously.


This evening the hot yellow in a flare above sundown. I'm baking in desire, stewing. "A passion larger than its object." You're not doing this I know. Not as much. "Beautiful and intelligent and charming" as if you'd decided to assent to a reasonable asset column. So who did my math. The supervisor. My ache = your thing. Where are you, thing. I won't phone, no.

1st September

Which of the moments to say, from suffering fire and planning endurance, to the knock on the door and the high school boy in a jean jacket. And night's man. He can fall asleep and it's still there. Did I make it up, his man. More than I would've asked for.

Hands light and warm with a deeply comforting dry rasp.


Absorbed in natural motion - we are taking in the laws by which the universe is organized - we take them in by a faculty other than language.

Nature self-organizing, the organism is a theory of its environment.

The same mathematical laws apply to brains and to turbulent fluids.

Perception can handle more complex wholes than naming does.

What I'm aiming for is probably a PhD in philosophy, a theory of imagination, advocacy of self-organized universe and intelligent perception, done in a way so body stays right and soul isn't stuck in argument but travels in space.


Not experimental, documentary, in that they want to see and show some real thing. What they want to show is the qualities of natural motion, and then beyond that the experience of how much can be seen, a state of speechless seeing.

It has to be seen, it can't be thought, but seeing becomes intelligent.

What I like in film is precision, slightness, economy of means, delight, inference, and a kind of motion that can be followed but not tagged, and makes seeing intelligent.


Matter is what's here, around.

Soul is the same thing thought of as experience.

It is not inside/outside, it's a difference of set between doing and being.


I spend a night seething physically, my friend falls asleep, I wake him turning around, then there's morning still craving and far off, and then there's the sun in the chair, finally soft, my hair a light pile of rainbow filament on my arm. I brush out his long bright mane, looking down onto the brightness of the skin on his nose and temple. We look into Canaletto's pictures. Doze. That's when finally I'm satisfied. Breaths come in and leave together.

"I can't figure out why I love you." That was in the dark grey light of the open sky before dawn. "That's what I can't figure out either." But he knows it. Laughing joyfully at the three definitions of doting.


Rowen at Crab Beach peaceful, as I am, plays in a tiny stockade. I make a tent. Pieces of bark. Chips floated there from axework anywhere on the coast. Tiny chips are people. They go in the tent. The cook calls them for lunch. What do they have for lunch? Jelly fish. He wipes out the stockade. Catastrophe. Get them back in the tent, bring a boat. Lay them down in the boat and take them to the doctor. What happened? Did you get an owie?

For once I wasn't raging, the water was there breathing calmly choppy blue. Toothache geese were swimming for pleasure near the shore, and then docked in a series and went up the cobbles on legs, except for one who first delayed and then had to help himself with scoops of wing, a bad leg. An Indian couple was sitting on a log when we came, with a little ruffled kitten. Rowen came carrying it against his rabbit sweater. It was trying to climb the chain link wool. He carried it back and they put it into a red daypack and went home. "For dinner" said Rowen.

Cypris who puts the sea to rest
And holds the bridegroom in her care

I'm Aphrodite and Hephaistos.

a yellow-coated pomegranate, figs like lizard necks,
    a handful of half-rosy part-ripe grapes,
a quince all delicate-downed and fragrant-fleeced,
    a walnut winking out from its green shell,
a cucumber with the bloom on it, pouting from its leaf-bed,
    and a ripe gold-coated olive - dedicated to
Priapus friend of travelers, by Lamon the gardener,
    begging strength for his limbs and his trees


This night - I brought myself first, through such acute genital feeling I had to hang on inwardly to keep going. Then was lying flat starting to dream when I heard the bicycle. Jumped to the window and smelled the fresh wet air. Good. Jumped back in bed. I play courtesan in a solipsistic way, little charms and favors I think he actually doesn't like, as if they're deferential, are they, they're 'cause I want to feel femmy, why, like twenty-four, it's balancing, I'll watch it but not stop it, for instance making my bedroom lovelier again.

And then this smooth long body, so skeletal at the hips that I'm embarrassed to touch him there. I love it when he comes. He suddenly grabs control and creaks and folds. I like it because he's suddenly himself. In his other fucking he is still waffling. I'm not complaining, no. For now I'm not complaining of anything.


A welling of sensation into the chest he says when he sees a well-grown plant of certain kinds.


Coming back home on Saturday, rowing away from Reiner on the shore, the skiff went lightly steadily over the brighteyed sea.

What else. There is a smell on Saturna, on the landing yard, the sweet tobacco maple-flower smell.

Am I a person who is more alive when I am hurting someone? I think - or fighting someone.


The way he will confidently bore me for hours. And at the end, cos he asks, sure I will kiss him and the kisses are irreproachable nibbles I wd gladly go on and on in.


[my mom visits] What abt her - she's the 'humanities' - she's an endless suck of anxiety about human relations.


I did it - got her in and out of us without getting drained - with good moments of some kind, good enough. It was a fury of stubbornness. Absolute strike. "If you push me I have to be mean to you, and I don't like being mean to you so don't push me okay." And I lied just like that, I'm going to the Film Board I said (here I am at the Welcome Café).

Went and dug potatoes. There was my earth turned over, gunny sack with potatoes drying on them, green tomatoes, summer squash, hyssop branches upside down in a jar, lavatera stalks with black buttons, dill, fennel, mint.

9 October

Until finally I do get what I want, that simple thing. Nowadays is it really as elementary as it seems - that isn't the word - basic - fuck me or I've got no use for you. He's the way I used to be, wanting heart talk first. I'm there just relieved to have made it finally to in-and-out of no matter what quality,


Of it what I carry is the image of his standing length. What does it mean. I see it is the kind of body shown crucified. But in my image he stands and his beautiful penis stands and he's the picture of sentience quiet and stubborn.


He doesn't like it when I stare. I see his crookedness and cleanness and many other unnamed things.

On the chair - oh today he really wants it! I didn't say. On the chamomile lawn his face descended from the sky and kissed me of its own decision. Feeling the descent and will every centimeter so the kisses made marks like black gasps.

See I'm like a mum encouraging the boy to get his confidence, but not completely giving in. Curious about how the fucking changed when I started touching myself. I started to meet his pushes with a matter of fact equality as if exactly to the halfway point, much more accurately, even when he changed rhythm to the little stopped as if curiously examining ones before he came.

Altogether, though he didn't make his bed and speaks too much about Catherine and falls asleep though lightly, a good find.

Then in the Inuit gallery where I am drifted in this soft clear state I come face to face with this soft clear astonishing made-thing with cuts as clear as the birch is. The shaman is a woman said to be a dead one, but the face which is said to be unalive is marked all over with the knowledge of the human person whose hand dropped red stitches from the brow up in circuits. For a while he would not make these pagan things. When he began again the red lines were an awkward uncomplete sort of diagonal disrespect of the face. But this one is everything everything everything he knows.


The left eye is an eagle's, the right eye lets out a biting black canal of tears. A night elaborated with crescents of color.

The shaman is not dead, she is in agony.

The left side of her face is refined to line, elegant. The right is flayed? Is it opened to show the moons of the night in her trance?

The right side of her mind is collected and facing away from herself, the left side of her mind is clinging to the right side.

She is crowned with feathers, her thoughts balance above her.

She is the power of very great pain complexly experienced.


"What does she have coming out of her eye?" I said "Ink, she's a writer."


I feel, comparing, more savage and intolerant. And Lis's too disciplined to speak ill tho' sometimes if I do - . A look easy to set into a high-necked dress in an oval frame. Talking about Marilyn [Bruce Baillie] a drawn-up drawn-back affronted look, a missionary maybe, god-fearing, sharp, kind, principled and loving to laugh. Force of character it's called. And what am I that's different than that. Very different. No principle could override the gaping wonder at seeing Marilyn naked. I take wild chances. Yet the unkosher mixes of my household are made in free adaptations of comprehended laws.

I suspect Lis's kindness is a maturity, being on the other side of finding out it isn't alright for anybody, and I suspect my intolerance keeps me closer to health and sex. I'm stating that cautiously as if it's noting a superstition.


On either side of the breakfast table. I was telling Lis the story of going to see Aurorra, so delighting in the telling, singing to demonstrate, "Ju-ust / as / I a-am / with / ou-out / one / plea / but tha-at" (at just that pace) "your blood / was shed / for me." We were in sobs of laughter. And about the woman creeping up the aisle during the meditation peering carefully into each face in a row with green Kleenex in her hand.

1st November

The warm foothills under my hands. Monday morning in rain. Lis finds his big grassy gumboots at the foot of the stairs. We have nothing to say but my palms are magnetized to the shapes of his back. I love the heat in his hands. When we start fucking I'm crazy with joy, not for pleasure, we aren't there, or not in the tissues of color, but it is like starvation satisfied. I'm crazy for tail it seems. The solidity of what he puts into me. Slowly I say. Otherwise it will hurt.


A church service. Platform full of men. I am in the back preaching a countersermon. Loud and clear I say the real church is when people work together for something and come to love each other in that way. I see in the mirror I have nicer breasts.


Eric when he was desk clerk at the Canadian Hotel was planning to fumigate the cockroaches. He saw in a vision a lot of slender women and children with brown sort of pointed bodies, and took it as an appeal for mercy. But he went ahead and decimated them anyway. Next day he had an auditory vision of someone saying they'd be back. He went to the West End to a bootlegger he knew, a big tough woman like a man with her hair straight back. She showed him her bankbooks with $90,000 savings, she could treat a man right who knew how to treat her right she said. He'd better have a few beers to take home he said. She wrapped them in newspaper. When he unwrapped them in his room four cockroaches scattered from between the sheets.

A mouse used to come out into the room to look at him. He thought it would be nice to tame it, feed it enough to keep it out of the food. Some time later he felt it cross his bed in the dark. The next night it ran lightly over his hand. He was nearly asleep and his years of conditioning overcame him. He grabbed it and flung it on the floor and killed it. He still feels shame he says, because it had come in reply to his invitation.

There was another cockroach who'd sit on the edge of the dresser observing him. One night it drank with him from a spilt drop on the table.


A man in brown with a brown horse is coming through the streets of the East End singing aloud as if he's a vendor. Cockles and mussels maybe, but he doesn't have anything but himself to sell. I'm seeing him as if from above going into a by-street or alley. Then I'm in the alley and hear him saying to his horse, You haven't made love in a long time. Ahead of me from another alley on the right I see a black horse with a rider dressed in black. The horse is antsy, pitching. The rider is hung round his neck dodging his front hooves, but confident and unshakeable. I think - here's the horse for the brown horse to make love with. Looking at the rider thinking it's a girl.

Sniffing in Plato for a template of something, maybe of mystification. There's the figure of the philosopher, and there's x the unknown that operates in a system maybe the way a negative root does? It evokes my own mysteries and the point of mystery in other systems.

Evokes also, love, light, beauty, seeing and 'seeing', open sky color.


He's private and doesn't try not to be, and at the same time he's good natured and sweet and willing. Doesn't at all try to be a man and is mysterious without cunning.

That doesn't say at all what it's like with him. For instance looking upward from under his chin and seeing the cartilage rise of his nose, chin falling back from it, an old husband snorting on high pillows. Other times the girly wisps around his earring, denim collar of a fourteen year old, swinging his big boots outside my door.

"A way of life with the eidos in view" meaning that when I give the day to nookie I'm bound to search through it for something I can make of it in the other chamber, this one. (I wanted to be doing it with him.) But what I make here is the being that will go on - I'm seeing my two screens, soul is the one that overlies the otherness to add up to the event.

December 3

What about this work now? It's 'painting'. What else shd it be. Often it's fantasy not creation. What would creation be. This is the uneasy moment. Sure it's creation, it's a color place. But it's a color painting not a color place. Shd there be a, yes there should be a, coherence feelable behind. As if something tightknit invisible but inferrable in another dimension.


Noticing what a labour of bracketing I do in theoretical reading. 'I doubt this means what he means but is the picture good for something else.'

I find myself thinking about learning to think, the way it gradually condenses into methods like bracketing.


Sendering. Jake K talking about what he's going to do at Oxford. Pictures. I assume writing too. He's been getting up before man's work days and studying. What was the word? He shows it in the dictionary, movement against the stars. Painting? No. He's starting to move away. Photographs? Must be. Black and white pinpoints.

Loveliest fucking. The shapes of warmth in my hands and his. I got my right knee under his hip and left knee between his two so we could lie on the pillow. The friendly way he has. He could lever right up under, a long way it seemed. What is it I can't gather to say. The marvel I feel when he muscles in. The marvel was still there on and on slow and steady, ecstatic, not the blue ditch but an expansion of buzzing air. The way I like it best, so a kiss has the whole body in its curve. Inspired. And not at all finished when he was, adoring this morning, so steeped in sentience.

- The way there's begun to be assurance, that when we're there for the night we're going to be in each other's arms and we're going to fuck.

I love to read that sentence.

Michael's being stern. Don't tease he says. We sit at Carnegie making formal conversation. He looks fine in his green work shirt and dress pants, red beret, stretched lip and close shave. You're looking fine I say looking at his lip. Don't rub it in he warns. Rub it lightly I say as it flies past, meaning, I guess, don't make so much of it. But he's made more of it. Well I made a good joke, I'll own up to it. You're full of shit he says a couple of times in his eloquent way. You should control yourself. I'm soon putting my jacket on. I'll see you around. Laughing on the street in delight to have got to be such a Jezebel. Sober at another moment. The parts that don't jibe. He claims I enslave his imagination but if he's so mad to screw me why doesn't he get hard like my engineer - hmm. You're not even hard up, that's what puzzles me I said. Did it again.


I was measuring with Mike Dunn at the garden. A spectre came staggering toward us, a very thin small man with a plastic litre container of paint thinner probably. I didn't know whether he would be violent so I said officiously, Excuse us please, we're busy doing something, we're working. His face crumpled like Rowen's when I'm mean. I felt I should put my arms around him. Also as if there would be no help possible. He was broken-hearted.


Phone in the aft. A pause, an in-breath, "Ah Ellie!" says Eric. He tells his stories, just now he's very taken with a woman, he sees her at a hundred yards and is filled with lust. Thinking about her, he called to see the Yin, who was a cloud, before; the earth with her eyes down. This time he saw himself in the mirror. "I realized it meant I'm a woman." "Oh Eric should I send you flowers." "Are you jeering at me?" "No, no, I'm encouraging and congratulating you." But he went on to say that if he could do what he wanted with the woman he occupies himself with, he would give that quality to her. "Why do you want to give it away!" "I want to be a man."


I hunted his unease and found it. It wasn't until dawn. "It's called making love because it makes me love you. I don't know why it should but it does."

In the grey dawn wrapped around him I said "I feel like we're covered with snow," the snow we could see on the apartment roof."I felt we were covered, though not by snow." "Do you feel the electricity? Did you see it?" "No I pictured what I felt." I meant it was standing quite thick around us. Maybe.


Should I say something about later. I hadn't come and lay down in the evening to try it, with a pencil. Was in the same quality, murmuring. Why is it embarrassing? I'm wondering if it was abandonment or my particular kind of nerve - I do it with a sense of trying it out but also I was really afloat in a warm sea of joy. Fuck me with your big cock, fuck me deep, I love your big cock, what a sweet fuck this is. I'm urged to patronize that state and keeping myself back from saying "etc." I think that the state is true in its own terms. With my body I thee worship. Then the question is, who jeers? What is abandoned by it. (Wd I publish it.) Thinking what I came to with Roy when I was drunk - you fill my whole sky. Ah. Does sexual adoration obsolete political adoration. Wd I stand in front of a room full of feminists and say I'm a cock worshipper? Yeah I would. A room full of men? I worship breasts too, don't take it personally.


Dusan tears plastic for hat and cape when it starts to snow. He's deep in the irrigation ditch. The snow is dry. I can keep on working in my green sweater all through the afternoon. Thick flurries circling from the north. Where is all this light coming from. It's the snow reflecting in all directions as it falls, makes a steady state of cumulative brightness in the whole surrounding air. At times the sun shone horizontally through.

I take off my mud-soaked glove and blow my nose and look. The dirt, the rocks, the green glowing grass when white lies in among them.

When it's so dark I start to fall, I can't quite stop, I have to just finish, just the last of this path. and then cross Prior's river of Friday lights.


At the garden alone this aft moving the asparagus bed. Good dry light stuff, rotted seaweed. Asparagus roots ripped up. Tiny raspberry plants in series on an underground wire. Dismay when the wheelbarrow goes over - twice I step into the ditch full of cold water.