martes, 5 de agosto de 2014

I Miss Lark Camp, the Music – the Music...

So a series of events has kept me away from my normal summer-camp sojourn, a most welcome escape from the city starting with a ride up twisty mountains roads to Mendocino, then a turn onto Little Lake Road and into the Jackson State Forest to Lark Music Camp, where I’m immersed in a full week of music in the redwoods.  

(Above, Steve, Alec & Mitch, ready for the after-dance rush in 2009.)

Nestled within Jackson State Forest is the area of the Mendocino Woodlands – a WPA project built  during the Great Depression – comprising three separate campgrounds complete with cabins, eating & meeting lodges, and tent camping areas.

(At left, 2008's stripey canopy, and look at Mitch's beauteous butterflies... definitely the best-looking C2CH of all time!  And yah, this is really a lark week here at the green tiger lounge...)

The cabins are rustic, most with stone fireplaces, bare wood floors, tiny closets and metal-frame spring beds with thin mattresses covered in oilcloth.  Getting anywhere in camp requires a good deal of walking, most of it on uneven ground, often using switchbacks to scale seventy or more feet of elevation between places.

(At right, Lawwy on the night shift in 2006 - after shredding 4 pounds of ginger, midweek fatigue begins to show...)

 A stream runs through the valley, wending its way among second- and third-growth redwood trees, many arranged in ‘fairy rings.’  The fairy rings are actually new growth of trees springing out of the radiating roots of trees that have been cut down.  All along the seven-mile tortuous road leading from the end of Little Lake Road to the Woodlands, fallen trees and burned-out stumps (some eight or ten feet high, most about that diameter as well) line the forest on either side of the road.

The forest is beautiful, despite a covering of dust all over all the trees & ferns & undergrowth lining the roads.  The dust comes from the road, churned up by cars – the cars that run that road all summer long, as week by week the camps fill and empty when the campers come and go.  All kinds of camps rent space at the Woodlands – family camps, church camps, youth camps, music and dance camps.   

 (At right, Hakim, Vytas & DB in 2007. Vytas really wasn't as pissed off as he looks [probably just annoyed at losing the rhodopsin in his eyes]... The other two goofballs just couldn't see for ten minutes or so, blind as opossums [which is ok, because Hakim & DB are/were members of the Opossum Clan].  Can you tell I'm missing Lark?)

The family camps are few, since there aren’t that many families who mount summertime rendezvous of 100-500 people.  Most of the other camps are pretty ordinary, but the music camps are best.

(Below, A big parking lot jam in 2009, with Crystal standing at left & Lori center in group at right...)

Mickie Zekley, captain of a cohort of loyal musician/volunteers, hosts the week-long Lark Camp, which occupies all three of the Woodlands’ camps to play temporary home to about 800 campers, and a bus runs twice an hour from one camp to the other taking campers to music classes and jams.

I’ve been going to Lark off and on since the 80s, when I discovered a great escape in the redwood forest filled with music from scores of cultures.  Any kind of music you can think of is played there at all hours (well, mostly no rock ‘n’ roll, nor rap, by choice of the campers), and a short walk will take you through many distinct paradigms:  Irish folk, Balkan bagpipes, Andean flute, Western Swing, jazz, bop & hard bop, Greek dance, Turkish, Egyptian, classical, American folk, etc.  

Over there a very funny raconteur plays 300-year-old French tunes.  And a little way beyond is a wacky Armenian American jamming on accordion with some Tunisians playing old tribal music.  A dance class down by the creek shakes the dust from a stage built in a few hours by that cohort of volunteers, and a jazz band is cooking in a rehearsal at the striped pavilion for the swing dance on Friday night.

(At right, The Kids, 2009 - it's crazy love you know for Rosie & Jed...  That's Sarah in the middle...)

And in front of the coffeehouse – an impromptu service counter set up under a tent at the far end of the parking lot which is used all during camp as an outdoor dining area, flea market and gathering place – a fire in a metal firepit warms a group of guitarists having a little jam.  The coffeehouse staff buzzes about, keeping the coffee brewing & the goodies coming... an expertly-run bakery in Camp 3 turns out excellent baked goods at a fraction of the price you'll pay down in town - or anywhere else. 

 (At left, in a daytime concert, Eric Hoffman in a cool faux-mudcloth hat! 2009)

That coffeehouse was for years my domain.  I managed Camp Two Coffeehouse, also known as C2CH and called by many the best of the three simultaneous versions of the Inn of the Mullah Nasrudin’s Donkey.  I ran the joint like it was my own.  Which, in a way, it was.  

(At right, Nancita Abuelita relaxes before an evening of playing music, 2009 [note freshly-washed hair...])

But the dust did me in.  The dust ended my carefree camp days.  That dust on the road – the stuff boiled up from the tires of hundreds of cars – contains spores from the bark of the redwood trees.  And amid all the things I am not allergic to, among the very few things I am allergic to, those spores are the most virulent.   

I was fine for years – I guess my youth and naturally tough constitution helped me out.  But then I started getting sick after camp.  For several years, my week in the redwoods confined me to three weeks in bed once I got home.  I suffered through terrible bronchial attacks that kept me from any sort of healing sleep and tortured me almost to the point of regretting my time at Lark.  Almost.  

(At left, Captain Slanty & Bonnie Barnum during the Scavenger Hunt held for the Sea Shanties Workshop, 2007)

But not quite.  I missed camp in 2010, when I was living in Greece. I’d been sick the year before that, quite badly.  And the year before that.  And the year before that one.  So when I came back to camp in 2011, I tried going for just four days.  That four days was not enough to let the spores get into my lungs with any strength, and I’ve been making that curtailed journey into the forest ever since… until now.

(At right, Sarah shows off her fine crocheted hats during the flea market, 2009...)

 Now I’m missing camp for the first time since Greece.  And my life this year has evoked much more of a need in me to go to camp – but unfortunately events conspired to keep me in Los Angeles (adding insult to injury).  So I pulled out some pictures and started posting them on Facebuchenwald.  And they got a lot of notice, much of it from other would-be Larkers who are stuck away from their preferred summer rendezvous.  And that got me thinking.  

(At left, a leisurely dinner in the Camp Two lot, 2013...)

 So I brought those pictures over here. Here, where I could tell more of a story than merely giving a gallery of pictures with some cute captions.  Where I might be able to find a way to say why & how I miss Lark.  

I miss seeing my friends.  I miss the smell of woodsmoke all around at camp and then in my clothes when I take them to launder after camp, back home where Lark is hundreds of miles and a whole lifestyle or two away.  

(Above, C2CH Manager Lori is delighted by it all, 2007)

I miss the coffeehouse, troublesome gamin that she can be, meting out lessons & rewards in a seemingly haphazard way, but always leaving the attentive observer with the gift of wisdom.

I miss the sounds day & night – of music floating on the breezes coming through the trees, of songs sung for centuries in scores of languages, telling stories, recounting romances and heroic deeds and country humor.  

(At left, Steve & Sam the NASA Man prepare for the evening rush, 2007...)

I miss the dueling marching bands, each coming from a different direction, each playing beautiful ancient songs from far-off places, coming this close to clashing as they try to drown each other out –  then the sudden shift as both entire groups play first the one song, then the other.  

 I miss seeing strangers sitting down to play together, people who many times cannot communicate in words because they don’t speak each other’s language, but who can and do communicate beautifully in the music.   
 (At right, James takes time out of being lost to offer cookies all around, 2009)

In the music is the history of our people – all our peoples.  In the music is stored our aspirations, our loves and our dreams, the ties of family and of loyalty, the emotions and intentions that make us human, that raise our spirits and give us our power, that send us into flights of hope and longing, that temper our hot blood and soothe us in our fatigue & sorrow.

And I miss how, in the late chill of the night, the sound of sweet musical notes comes faintly wafting like a melody woven only of smoke or fog, a welcoming, the music reminding you of home, as a curtain lifted by a breeze might reveal the warm glow of a fire on the hearth within to the traveler returning after a long journey…

(At left, Hakim demonstrates a well-tied Magic Headwrap, 2013...)

I miss Lark.

We never close.  Last call!
And I know that I shall make a return next year, that I shall see many of those good friends in the months between now and then, that I can always make contact (virtual & otherwise) – and all that will assuage my homesickness as time goes on, but it does little for the hiraeth, the sensucht that gnaws at me now.

I really do miss Lark.  Really.

(Artwork at left copyright 2014 Geonni Gray Banner - thanks, G!)


David Hakim is an internationally-published journalist and award-winning author who has run several newspapers – and recently received a commendation for his short story That Man in the London Aesthetica Competition.  He can be reached at dhakim at earthlink dot net

 © 2014 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't make me wake up my attorney. Please.  

miércoles, 26 de febrero de 2014

Basketful of Poems

A Link to Voznesensky

            by Hakim

I was very surprised to recently find

that Andrei Voznesensky

has a new career.

While using that wonderful poetic device ‘Google’

I saw the great Russian poet’s name

listed on

Once there, I discovered that

Mr Voznesensky is a

“Senior Principal Scientist at Pfizer

in the Hartford, Connecticut Area.”

And the author of Modern Nature and

ru and

Dead Still

and my favorite


has 50 connections!

And some of my connections know some of his connections…

I am so glad to know that Voznesensky is interested in:

    * career opportunities

    * consulting offers

    * job inquiries

    * reference requests


    * getting back in touch

There is so much we could discuss –

the surreal image,

symbolism and

the use of synecdoche

in his previous position as

a ‘Principal Research Scientist at Bayer Pharmaceutical.’

Would Boris Pasternak be pleased to know

that his former protégé is now

a member of the

Biotech & Pharma Professionals Network?

Are the poetic influences of Mayakovsky and Neruda

useful in his present endeavors?

If I sound disappointed, well,

that may be true.

I mean, the guy’s got a minor planet

named after him:

‘3723 Voznesenskij.’

And shouldn’t he – after all – be concentrating

on poetry?

So I sent him a message, because

there’s that big blue headline:

“Send a message to Andrei Voznesensky”

and right under it, two golden buttons –

            “Contact Directly”


“Get Introduced”

(“7 of your trusted connections can introduce you to someone who knows this person”).

And I wrote,

“So Andrei, how’s it hanging? 

Hey, what’s with the job in big pharma? 

You’re a genius, man, with medals and shit,

And you ought to be writing those pithy poems

that made you famous.

Keep it real, man,

And don’t forget your roots.  Hakim”

And a couple days later I got this back:

“Sorry to disappoint you,

but the poet you write about

and I

are not even related. 

I hope he is not bothered by people

looking for a prescription. 

Dos vedanya, AV”

Look at me

Look at these breasts, she says,
here – look at these hips.
You have longed to possess me
in ten thousand sweat-soaked dreams,
yearned to climb my body like a bridge.
But I am not for
you –
nor for any like you,
and my flesh is sweet for none
such as you.
I wear the hard polish of eyes,
laid on me
and buffed to a brittle sheen
by the crowd
that would have passed over
the chasm of loneliness
using me
to link the shores.
See my breasts, she says,
counterpoints to every woman
who despairs at the image in the mirror.
I am beautiful
(and the refrain
soon becomes)
I am beauty itself.
Watch how I move, she sighs,
consider how the light seems to change
to accept my grace:
I am nothing you could touch.
I am like
some perfect fruit (she whispers)
dew-kissed and ripe with
Spring’s joyous flavor –
but I practice
a careful ignorance
believing my beauty will last,
hoping my happiness will come,
praying to find
my own bridge
in the darkness.

On Hearing That Her Lover Had Died


No reason to live when half your heart is gone.
His weight in ashes
swirls on winds
The cracked air burns
your eyes and
lungs and
your world
clear to every horizon.
No one
– nothing
– every absolute
a fresh skin for you now.
Your husband
cannot fathom the
tearing of your heart –
his own emptiness
after all
sent you to
the other man.
The other man –
a social acquaintance
grown close
too close
but buoying you up
and keeping you sane
amid the maddening
sameness of your life –
is now gone,
an emptiness
you can taste.
And so farewell
the little pink stallion
the pet names and the whispers.
Farewell the strength
the touching –
all transcendence now
is his alone.
Farewell the man
who held you
against the world’s pain
and touched you                  
with bright longing.
Tears run out
across the floor and
might just stop all clocks –
there is no reason
to take the next breath
but it takes itself and
the world is born again

The Silent After

Here is how it always happens:
inside an air thick with promise,
myself expanding, intoxicated
I drink the smell of her,
this other woman.
In her essence I revel, dissolute…
until I am reminded of you.
But when we grapple in the dark
[if I close my eyes
 and if she does not kiss me]
I can almost convince myself
that I am with you
[your long body enclosing mine]
that this grasped and grasping flesh
is yours,
that these fine ribs against which I push
are yours,
the hot breath in my ear
and this is not
the colorless imitation of joy
or some lonely exercise
in mutual delusion
[for she always thinks herself
in love with me]
but actually that sacred act of creation:
the making of love
between me and you.
But if she should
between her cries
seek out my mouth
with hers
and if in whispers she
should kiss me and
plant her taste upon my tongue,
or hold my face
in fevered hands and
look into my eyes,
I am pulled again into
the awful reality, jerked
like a hanged man’s last thought –
then the room grows chilly
and the grappling and the cries
are over.

Owed to TPE:  The Piggyback Etiology of acronyms

       ~  For Estelle Huisclos

    she used the term ‘TPE’ and of course

    we knew what she meant but

    there are other acronyms too

    that could relate to total

    power exchange.

    for instance, she might be secretly looking for a

        Twisted Pair Ethernet


    Theater Provided Equipment

                            and a

        Third Party Evaluator

            making ‘notes’ in a

    Tiny Paper Enclosure.

    or she could have in mind a full set of

        Trainer-Peculiar Equipment


    Therapeutic Patient Education  

        (where the P = adjective).

    perhaps in her mind was a

    Très Petite Entreprise

            or a

    Two Phase Extraction  

                or even a rather large

    Traveling Players Ensemble.

who can say?

    but i think her freudian slip was inclining

    silkily, with raging static, toward

    Trusted Path Execution  


    Total Performance Excellence  

                and most definitely

    Techno Pre Eminence

            a veritable 

    Trading Partner Exchange  

        of swooning moans and excited nerves

            that can be reached by careful

    Teaching Performance Expectations.  

    of course, she might be mechanically minded,

        rather expecting a

    Total Pelvic Examination

            with some

    Transportable Pressure Equipment  

                including a soft but firm

    Thrust-Plate Endoprosthesis


    Total Partner Experience

            on the way

                       To Peak Ejection.

and wouldn’t that be

    True Player Entertainment?

my heart rests in the mouth of love


taken from the motion of my life

as its taste

crawls on the tongue

tongue probing

the grinding teeth

the mouth of love

savoring my no-longer-tender heart


toughened by every caress and absence

resting in the mouth of love

my heart

awaiting the grinding teeth

in the mouth of love




our hearts savored



never satisfied


      sweet or


where all hearts are savored

for love licks

even the dry

and brittle hearts

in the heavy hours of night

another one gone…

another one

vanished in the mist of sorrow and regret,

slipped from the moorings of husband and children

escaped the pain waiting

by a simple expedient

leaving behind

only questions

and tears.

i think of them

when the day comes swinging into night –

those escapadores

who rode the clouds west

out of our sight –

and when the dawn slips

atop my windowsill

pushing the night ahead of it

over the horizon.

what is it about those times of day,

those moments

neither nadir nor zenith –


flat & level –

that brings back the memory

of the ones we loved

and lost?

and when enough of us have gone,

who will tell the stories?

who will remember each embrace

and loving smile?

who will have words

to speak?

who will remember each face

that slipped into shadows

each voice trailed into mist?

~  Sarabanda, Albania, July 2010

The Expected

no matter where we go

no matter what we see or whom we meet –

we will say over and over again

“this is not what i expected”

you can plan

and plan

until your eyelids are tired

you can figure every angle

and rebound

every corner to be turned –

and you will still say over again

“this is not…”

the world is changing

and they say that you cannot

step into the same river

even once –

yet you will find that it escapes your lips

between your thoughts:

“…what i expected”

life is sweet and the world

is large, filled with ponders

of unpredictability

and one of the beauties that greets us

over and over again

is the surprise in our eyes

when we hear ourselves say

   (as if in a dream)

“this is definitely not what i expected”

                        ~ Kavallouri, Kerkyra, February 2010

Walking the Dogs

                        ~ for Kay T.

it’s twilight.

it is always twilight

when these feelings come, always

twilight down in her heart

and autumn too

with the smell of leaves blowing

in the wind and

the slanting light

that signals

the end of a time.

she walks slowly

behind the dogs as

they free up their excitement,

wagging at the ends of their tails,

finding everything

a wonder and a joy. 

she pulls at the front of her coat

and wishes

for the freedom

of wonder and joy.

it’s twilight

and she walks alone

except for the dogs,

but alone

and softly talking to herself

because she has not found

the man to listen,

the man to tell her


much less the things

she longs to hear. 

how long since she’s been

touched?  how long?

she opens the door, hangs the leashes on the hook,

pours a cup of tea

and sits in the large empty room.

the book,

the window, the chair,

the dogs at her feet, nuzzled up together

and wondering when she

will throw open the door of her heart

to someone who

can make her feel

as complete as they do.

she looks at the door

from her chair

by the window,

and tries to not curse it.

            ~ Palm Springs, 2011

Untitled # 43

Somewhere, a girl waits

to hear the summer words.

Somewhere, her plans

take shape to leave

     this sandpaper world

     in a pumpkin-flavored coach

           (dressed like a 3-tiered cake,

             berosed & sugared)

arriving, after

     a trip over the moon,

at Big Rock Candy Mountain

where all the diapers

are filled with diamonds

and the dogs

have rubber teeth.


she practices persuasive moans

and eye-swoons

     while learning

     angelic patience.

Somewhere, a man is


to be not

so much a Turk –

a bit lagging perhaps

to join the modern world

but all of Istanbul’s stopped clocks

slowed the poor guy down.

~ Hakim, Kavallouri, Kerkyra, 2010


Except for old men like me

who thinks of flotsam anymore?

And jetsam?

All those treasures,

dropped for safekeeping

into the depths

still waiting

for the perfect storm

to uncover them

to send them skirling onto beaches


to be found anew….

Except for old men,

believers in legend


hunting in old books

the dusty records of the dead,

who thinks of flotsam?

Who thinks of what is gone

or hiding

safe in tided sands?

Do I know you?

All those possibilities of youth

and our lives like casks

to be filled:

knowledge, money, the houses, cars and spouses.

Could our barrels ever

be big enough?

And here now

after all the days that have

slipped beneath the waves,

so much is gone…

it seems what’s most important

is ullage.

All that’s gone….

the empty place:


On the Death of Tommy Blue Eyes

            [Tommy Odom left in a senseless accident of his own making in the fall of 2004]

And now he is cast out

of the body

that had served him so well,

and from that place he could not

leave before

he is banished


He fell in the autumn night

and whatever springtime holds,

he’ll see it from afar.

The beauties

we walk among

he’ll know now

as spirits do.

His beauty

we can only

carry with us.

Where before

he was trapped inside

that body, and

couldn’t leave

by whatever means

he tried,

now he cannot get in. 

Of all the places on earth

and in the heavens,

it is the one place

forbidden him

any longer….

That single place that was always


and his alone.

Misguided once

he is guided


by the light,

and shall not waver

as he never wavered

for his friends –

the family he


around himself

on that zigzag road

of his life.

Now he is



but in that body,

locked out,

and it is empty

of him



David Hakim is an internationally-published journalist and award-winning author who has run several newspapers – and recently received a commendation for his short story That Man in the London Aesthetica Competition.  He can be reached at dhakim at

© 2013 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.