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February 2000

We hope to see you at our next celebration

Sunday February 13
4-9 PM
Bruce Taylor’s remodeled condo (Kafka’s Kastle)

Help! Help!

Our Fokus Newsletter is a continuing expense that now costs us about $55.00 per printing. (This is for Lazerquick printing, collating, stapling and postage alone.) Would you please help us save money? You can help one of three ways: 1) notify us if you no longer wish to receive a newsletter, 2) give us your E-mail address (saving printing and mailing costs), or 3) contributing cash toward this expense.

Now we have some very special help from Pippin Sardo who has volunteered to be our copy editor and proofreader for each newsletter. She will e-mailing those so requested.

Thanks to Mike Monroe for his contribution of $60.00 which will meet the costs of this newsletter.

Art Sharing: Sunday January 16, 2000

Larry Lewis shared his mini-comics – very clever tiny black and white comic books made from one piece of paper printed on both sides. (He sells them for 50¢ each.) Benjamin Miller talked about his creative website Pantarbe.com where artists, composers, writers, and performers from all over the world share on a variety of topics. (http://www.pantarbe.com.) Jonathan Miller described a work in progress – his play adaptation of the Grimms’ fairy tale The Robber Bridegroom. Roberta Gregory read from “Naughty Bits #30,” How I Got Into Comics. Pippin Sardo shared her Twelfth Night Cake and Nine-bean soup. Bill Monroe read a letter he is turning into a story regarding high school wrestling. Carl Sloan shared his poem "Hospice." Mike Pryor read his black humor story, "Personal Vengeance." Bruce Taylor read an excerpt from Mountains of the Night, his upcoming novel, and Seiko Olson, Lida Sloan and Steven Cox listened well.

Bruce Taylor’s Editorial:

The sign behind me on the warming hut read, “Cow Beach,” and under it, “The Methow Valley’s Finest Community Cow Pasture.” I looked around me from the fresh powder snow to the sun, high and bright in the sky, to the dark grey clouds hiding the highest ridges of the North Cascades and, looking out to the north, the dark threatening clouds and a rising wind that later would sound like thunder as it roared through the pines and cedars on the valley floor. But right then, at Cow Beach, I sat in the sun and felt a sense of being OK in the world. That, and I also felt a sense of connection and awe that the world is truly an amazing and incomprehensible place – about as incomprehensible as my birth, as my eventual death; and the strange wondrousness of it all in between as I walk these moments, these months, these years of my mortality on this third planet orbiting around a searing, glowing ball of burning hydrogen-helium that is 93 million miles away, but is still so hot that I feel, as does the planet, its warmth by a process so incandescently brilliant that looking directly at it will blind you.

It’s at these moments when I cease tormenting myself about trying to balance my life among a job, writing and friendships, feeling at times that I don’t do a competent job with one, the other or all three, that I feel OK. It’s when I can let go of this internal mayhem and let go of the shame of somehow not being a successful enough writer, a good enough friend, or not making enough money on my job – when I can let go of all this bullshit, that I see that, for a few decades, I am a conscious and sentient being, reveling in the glory of my being yet tormented by the thought of dying and leaving this existence. It is then that I truly understand what is important, and it comes down to reverence for all things and beings beautiful and bountiful around us: the stunning beauty of this planet, the clouds, the sparkling snow, those weird and vertical things called trees, that stuff over there in the gully that exists in three forms within a narrow temperature range – the only stuff that can do that – water. It is then I become amazed, grateful and, I guess, sense a spirituality that surpasses this time, this place -- and, for whatever reason, or accident that I walk this planet as an entity called Bruce Taylor – at this time and this place I am amazed, I am grateful and I am enlightened – even in such a place as Cow Beach, the Methow Valley’s Finest Community Cow Pasture.

The sun, the trees, my good friend Todd Christoffel and this grand day of cross-country skiing – for a moment, sitting there on a bench, for that moment, I am at peace and for a moment, just a moment, I remember and know the wonder, the abundance and the joy of the universe. For that moment the uncertainty stops, the self-doubts stop, my mind and thoughts stop, and the wind and sunlight of the Methow valley flows through me, bringing with it a sense of eternity and timelessness. This is the same sense I had at Mesa Verde last summer when my sense of “I” vanished and my consciousness saw the world through the eyes of endless generations before me. Later, weeping about that experience of connection, maybe that was the point at which I faced my eventual dying and that it was still all right. Was a part of it the beauty of knowing that in some strange way my spirit? my consciousness? would not die with me? Or was it acceptance? Don’t know. But whatever it was, it was something that brought me peace, peace enough to sit in the Methow Valley and know that this moment, this place, this wind, this warmth was the essence of grace of a moment so perfect in its exquisite and fragile beauty.

Other Stuff:

Jack Cady gave a reading from his new book, The American Writer Shaping a Nation’s Mind, Wednesday evening, January 12 at Third Place Books. Cady has the knack of making those sleeping, awake and making those awake, alive. Thoughtful and tough, his readings are always provocative and not to be missed.

Kagey, krafty, Kafka’s Kohorts keep kontinuing kultural kapers.

Upcoming, spend a weekend at Kafka’s Kastle for watching movies – Powder, Five Easy Pieces, Amadeus, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Toys. Dates: March 4 – 5, bring a sleeping bag. Popcorn will be provided, maybe even a gourmet dinner and breakfast. Interested? Let Bruce Taylor know ASAP so he can plan. (Late in the afternoon on March 5 we will have our March FOKUS meeting at Kafka’s Kastle.)

We are always up for people to host a FOKUS gathering. Don’t be shy! We’re all neat and clean and will treat your place well. Also, remember that you don’t have to be creating the next Mona Lisa or Hamlet to be part of FOKUS. If you like to just be around creative people, that’s fine too.

From the Lock-up:

(A feature of selected writing from convicts at Monroe Penitentiary who know Bob Olson and have asked to share in our FOKUS newsletter)

Quiet Moments

She was the kinda woman
who would bring you coffee
and then just sit with you –
her love bathing you like sunshine
on a quiet breeze.

The kitchen table clear and
clean except the little things
that were meant to be there.

She never complained.

When she prayed you got the
feeling God knew her better
than you, and that they
were old friends.

Paul Moore

(reprinted from Volume V 2000 Sounds of a Grey Metal Day
a Creative Expressions Project of Monroe Corrections Center)

A 19th Century Inspirational Poem: Life Sculpture

Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
With his marble block before him,
And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
As an angel-dream passed o’er him,

He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
With many a sharp incision;
With heaven’s own light the sculpture shone,--
He caught that angel-vision.

Children of life are we, as we stand
With our lives uncarved before us,
Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
Our life-dream shall pass o’er us,
If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
With many a sharp incision,
Its heavenly beauty shall be our own,--
Our lives, that angel-vision

George Washington Doane

A joke from the Washington coast:

The little boy wave was crying. He saw his fate and wept. His big brother asked him what was the matter and he stated, “I’m just a little wave and when I reach the sand I’m all gone.” “Oh that’s all wrong,” said his brother, “Just think, your father is the ocean and your mother is the shore.”

Talebones Magazine / Fall 1999, #17 Available!
1998 International Horror Guild Award Nominee for Best Publication
New from Fairwood Press! ZOM BEE MOO VEE, by Mark McLaughlin,
A new chapbook signed by the author. $5.99

Last updated:  April 29, 2000