"Bubbs Creek Haircut"- A Gary Snyder poem

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"Bubbs Creek Haircut"- A Gary Snyder poem

Post by Harlen » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:52 pm

Here's a very long Gary Snyder poem. It's meant to be somewhat "Stream of Consciousness," to represent more the way our minds actually work- moving from one thought stream to the next.

I know it's a long one, but you can look forward to some great lines, like: "cussing & slapping bugs," and "Well I’m going to the Sierras for a while
Bubbs Creek and on across to upper Kern," and some wonderful prose style lines- here's my favorite: "... and he said, tell that Moorehead KISS MY ASS!" Hope you like it, Harlen. (BTW, Snyder was a fine mountaineer)

*Well %$*@
I spent endless time rearranging the copied version of the poem, only to find it all compressed again upon moving it here! You'll just have to assume that Snyder's version had a lot of artful breaks, and staggered lines, which are not present in the poem below. It comes from his book:
(Six Sections from) Mountain and Rivers without End, should anyone want to see the original.


High ceilinged and the double mirrors, the
calendar a splendid alpine scene – scab barber –
in stained white barber gown, alone, sat down, old man
a summer fog gray San Francisco day
I walked right in. on Howard Street
haircut a dollar twenty-five
Just clip it close as it will go.
“Now why you want your hair cut back like that.”
– Well I’m going to the Sierras for a while
Bubbs Creek and on across to upper Kern.
he wriggled his clippers,
“Well I been up there, I built the cabin
up at Cedar Grove. In nineteen five.”
old haircut smell.

Next door, Goodwill
where I came out.
A search for sweater and a stroll
in the board & concrete room of
unfixed junk downstairs –
All emblems of the past – too close –
heaped up in chilly dust and bare-bulb glare
Of tables, wheelchairs, battered trunks & lamps
& pots that boiled up coffee nineteen ten, things
Swimming on their own & finally freed
from human need. Or?
waiting a final flicker of desire
To tote them out once more. Some freakish use.
The Master of the limbo drag-legged watches
making prices
to the people seldom buy.
The sag-asst rocker has to make it now. Alone.

A few days later drove with Locke
down San Joaquin, us barefoot in the heat
stopping for beer and melon on the way
the Giant Orange,
rubber shreds of cast truck retreads on the pebble shoulder, highway 99.
Sierras marked by cumulus in the east.
Car coughing in the groves, six thousand feet;
down to Kings River Canyon; camped at Cedar Grove.
Hard granite canyon walls that leave no scree.

Once tried a haircut at the Barber College too –
sat half an hour before they told me
white men use the other side.
Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul,
Salvation Army up the coast
For mackinaws and boots and heavy socks
– Seattle has the best for logger gear
Once found a pair of good tricouni boots at the under-the-public market store,
Mark Tobey’s scene,
torn down I hear –
& Filson jacket with a birdblood stain.

A.G. and me got winter clothes for almost nothing
at Lake Union, telling the old gal
we was on our way to work the winter out up in B.C.
hitchhiking home the
Green hat got a ride (more of that later).

Hiking up Bubbs Creek saw the trail crew tent
in a scraggly grove of creekside lodgepole pine
talked to the guy, he says.
“If you see McCool on the other trail crew over there
tell him Moorehead says to go to hell.”
late snow that summer. Crossing the scared bare shed of Forester Pass.
the winding rock-braced switchbacks
dive in snowbanks, we climb on where
pack trains have to dig or wait.
a half-iced-over lake, twelve thousand feet
its sterile boulder bank but filled with leaping trout:
reflections wobble in the
mingling circles always spreading out
the crazy web of wavelets makes sense seen from high above.
the realm of fallen rock.
a deva world of sorts – it’s high
– it is a view that few men see, a point
bare sunlight
on the spaces
empty sky
molding to fit the shape of what ice left
of fire-thrust, or of tilted, twisted, faulted

cast-out from this lava belly globe.

The boulder in my mind’s eye is a chair.
… why was the man drag-legged?
King of Hell
or is it a paradise of sorts, thus freed
From acting out the function of some creator/carpenter
Thrust on a thing to think he made, himself,
an object always “chair”?
Sinister ritual histories.
Is the Mountain God a gimp?
The halting metrics and the ritual limp,
Good Will?

Daughter of mountains stooped
moon breast Parvati
mountain thunder speaks
hair tingling static as the lightning lashes
is neither word of love nor wisdom;
though this be danger: hence thee fear.
Some flowing girl
whose slippery dance
entrances Shiva
– the valley spirit/ Anahita,
dark and female gate of all the world
water that cuts back quartzflake sand
soft is the dance that melts the
mat-haired mountain sitter
to leap in fire
& make of sand a tree
of tree a board, of board (ideas!)
somebody’s rocking chair.
A room of empty sun of peaks and ridges
beautiful spirits,
rocking lotus throne:
of universe of junk, all left alone.

The hat I always take on mountains:
When we can back down through Oregon
(three years before)
At nightfall in the Siskiyou few cars pass
A big truck stopped a hundred yards above
“Siskiyou Stoneware” on the side
The driver said
He recognized my old green hat.
I’d had a ride
with him two years before
A whole state north
when hitching down to Portland from Warm Springs.

Allen in the rear on straw
forgot salami and we went on south
all night – in many cars – to Berkeley in the dawn.

Upper Kern River country now after nine days walk
it finally rain.
we ran on that other trail crew
setting up new camp in the drizzly pine
cussing & slapping bugs, four days from road,
we saw McCool, & he said tell that Moorehead
we squatted smoking by the fire.
“I’ll never get a green hat now”
the foreman says fifty mosquitoes sitting on the brim
they must like green.
& two more days of thundershowers and cold
(on Whitney hair on end
hail stinging bare legs in the blast of wind
but yodel off the summit echoes clean)

all this comes after:
Purity of the mountains and goodwills.
The diamond drill of racing icemelt waters
and bumming trucks & watching
Buildings raze
the garbage acres burning at the Bay
the girl who was the skid-row
Cripple’s daughter –

out of the memory of smoking pine
The lotion and the spittoon glitter rises
Chair turns and in the double mirror waver
The old man cranks me down and cracks a chuckle

“Your Bubbs Creek haircut, boy.”
Last edited by Harlen on Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Bubbs Creek Haircut"- A Gary Snyder poem

Post by copalero » Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:29 pm

I love this poem, thank you!

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Re: "Bubbs Creek Haircut"- A Gary Snyder poem

Post by Harlen » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:54 pm

Glad you liked it- you've got stamina!

I don't know about you Copalero, but what I really like from Snyder are his ideas. Have you looked through the book called "The Real Work?" It is a series of interviews with Gary Snyder, and I found some of them really fascinating. I reckon he's an insightful guy. He spoke at a conference ("Reinventing Nature") at UCSC when I was there, and gave a helluva fine talk. All the best, Ian.
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