Simple communitarian spirit, tied to serendipitous moment listening to this artist a month ago talking about climate change, tide-pools and new earth emerging. His name is Bill Kucha, 74, originally from Cleveland. He was trained as a classic artist in Boston, BU, and he married at 18, had a child, and ended up on his walkabout single again. He ended up in Portland years later, new wife, Dorothy, two children, a grandchild, and more than 47 years later, Sitka roots and multi-variant artwork with creator, artist, struggling with the weight of climate like a storm over humanity, over all of nature and over his personal connection to mother earth.
He talks a lot about this new time of chaos, the opportunities for change, pushing the old — fossil fuel “economy,” dreaded Capitalism — into the dustbin of history . . . with the energy of new minds, new ideas, new sense of identity. Where ego desiccates and a new giving gift society rises from the ashes of the Phoenix that once carried the tools of greed and war for the elite.
Here, a piece I wrote about his talk along with a conservation biologist’s posted on several places on the Internet — Tidepools.
I was invited by Bill and his wife Dorothy to their home overlooking the Pacific, north of Depoe Bay, near Newport.
Their home in 1972 was once a broken-down old drafty ramshackle of a beach house, and then 47 years of TLC and a dramatic setting down of roots — spiritual, creative, and holistic. Bill has worked the land, the side of the hill sloping toward the Pacific, moving rocks and pilings and earth to make an amazingly healing place, terraced, gardens, swales for graywater and rainwater for consumption.
The transformation of a man who has gained friends galore but who has worked in solitary brushing on paints and chipping into basalt and welding metal to stone, Bill has been intersecting with youth and old, playing his guitar and composing songs. He helped found 350.org Central Oregon Coast.
The talk we had Sunday Feb. 17 was anchored in transference, a new or very old expansion of the universe talk about evolutionary principles tied to the noosphere, the creative connectivity of humanity in this time of crisis.
I’ll be writing about Bill and Paul’s Lightness of Being Adventure, but yesterday, Dorothy opened up, first a teacher in Portland and then a social worker. Her parents fleeing Austria under the saber of Hitler. Her father has been featured in Portland historical news for his own migration to this new land.
Gentile and Jew, Bill and Dorothy live in balance, as the artist Bill is tied to his mistress: the land he has sculpted nail by nail, stone by stone, shadow by shadow. Their own relationship and lives in Mexico, the lightness of being now calm in a state of upheaval, great lessons passed forward to their family and friends. He is unsettled by the crisis in climate and politics and humanity.
We talked about story, about narratives, and then, bam, we headed in our separate vehicles to Newport to be with Kim Stafford, Oregon Poet Laureate, who talked with around 50 people crammed into the Newport library.
Kim talked about story, too, and my interpretation of that two hours will be written about in another blog here soon. For now, read about his father and me here, at Cirque Journal: A Poet, the Pacific Flyway, and a Sonora Flash Flood here!
Kim was kind enough to pair up some of his poems with my non-fiction piece a few years ago in the Cirque issue, which if you open up and read my piece from the hyperlink above, you’ll see it is largely about my own poetic rites of passage tied to his father, William Stafford, and my own life moving from point to point in my as of yet revealed journey back to some imagined place in my literary soul. Three poems, Kim Stafford, Cirque Journal.
Much of what Kim said in his Newport, Oregon, talk I have been practicing all my life — writing, thinking, inventing my perceptions of life, and the daily practice of writing, photographing, teaching, giving, struggling. I look to words as lamentation and personal narrative. The poem below is my spiritual word journey, after Bill and Dorothy shared their lives and home, and ruminating from that point where I listened to and talked with Kim among all these Central Oregon Coast writers and writer-wanna-be’s.
I sent the poem to Bill and Dorothy. I also sent it to Kim, now on a busy schedule as Oregon’s poet of record, a two-year stint where he has to meet with people throughout Oregon; Kim still has his gig as professor at Lewis and Clark University.
I am now intersecting with much of my own scattershot history, unfolding narratives, collapsing beliefs, a new revised personal relationship, and I am about to be married, yet we’re looking for some solace in Mexico, maybe, but now, living and breathing in Otis, Oregon, near Cascade Head, the shape of life molded into the refracted light dancing in my cones and rods. I am teaching now, and working on a couple of book manuscripts. I am beach combing and photographing and just pushing out some terrible times as a social services professional in the Portland arena for more than a decade. Read at your own peril below!
“Insanity of Social Work as Human Control”
Rodea Point, Broken Circle, and a Nautilus Shaped from Basalt and Pig Iron
( comiéndose tortillas y frijoles negros en Otter Crest Trail con Bill y Dorothy Kucha
By Paul Haeder, 2/17/19
words like slow trowel
wet alabaster, cupped hands
incantations of synesthesia
as loud as basalt
prodded by lichen
he comes to me with law of time
universal expansion, he feels
drawn into climate crisis
his sensuality cuts, chips, digs
stone, earth to loam, stone to bricks
patterns shaped into lamentations
the weight of geological time
expands, he expresses yin yang
Chinese character “crisis”
a point where things happen
artist from Cleveland flays
canvas with acrylics
the ebb like spiritual
floe, trapped in vortex
this synchronicity, the calcifying
old world new world noosphere
emancipation for him
transmogrifying nature, he paints
biological fractals, polygons of betrayal
conjures up seeds as ghosts-
dances, perennials perma
culture as long as soil
finds impregnation, Gaia
he culls crisis in triptych
weight of Egyptian prophecies
curses, earth flagellated for a new
he covets hope
he watches river burst
flammable memories, Cuyahoga
dreams, Cleveland boy
“jawbone” for Seneca
“crooked river” for Mohawk
white man’s trash heap
emblematic of a million
trails of tears, eviscerated river,
space entropy land of holy
benedictions as interlopers
condemn new rivers to oil slicks
dams slough off unholy
metals, fossil hunters’ distillates
now slower in his gait
overlook of Pacific more
than germination, gestation
new age ancient he holds
paint brush hammer trowel
old hands pushing yanking flogging
weight of 4 billion years
earth lifts to 74-year-old touch,
he flavors temporary home
in poppy lilac cruciferae
bounty shared by wife
air soil water soul
she comes from Diaspora
Austrian Aryans finding
her parents fled in 1939
warnings of Crystal Night
broken glass Kristallnach
weight of futures
she parts words between teacher
social worker, life flowing from
Mexico, weight to his fanciful
ruminations Jew with Gentile
family prayer Shema Yisrael
inscribed on grave of a Jewish
infant in Halbturn 3rd century
Roman slavers tossed Jews
into all corners of empire
Austria, land remembered
now she finds father
recriminating her to
not marry artist
you’ll be working for his art
not a dime he’ll make
migration from Cleveland-Portland
New York-Depoe Bay
islands in the stream
couple’s migratory passage
I his poet one step away
into pure light of chaos
she asks me if pain
of bearing witness
of finding center in political
turmoil takes joy from
living . . . the smile on my face
a million light years back
my future written when
I was nine, earlier
vision quest long walkabout
dreamtime more than
weight of ions breathed in
the soiling people
are minor actors
this artist comes to me
fielding a new love
he calls me brother
we part for another beach town
as we hold another poet’s words
speak to all his relations
we share the amen
as laureate reshuffles our
game, moments trapped
between cerebral connectivity
and laws of co-evolution
sharing food, opening spaces
we stay as one
momentarily, Pacific high tide
receding for another passing —
I want to thank all my relations
for this chance to be on Earth
in her time of flourishing; to thank
the First People of this place,
to honor their sovereignty in long
and continuing relation, still teaching us
how we might be here together; to thank
my mother and father, moon and sun,
for setting me forth before their own
passing on; to thank my grandmother
who listened to me so eloquently I learned
to listen to my own heart and mind, to find
stories and songs there; to thank my family
and friends, and all citizens and travelers
who study and work for deeper kinship
in this place, with one another, and with
all creatures, one Earth, visible, palpable,
fragile, intricate, resonant, in need of our
better stories. I want to thank you
who have gathered to receive what I have
carried here—in hope that something
I have may meet something you need,
so all our relations may be strengthened
for this life we live together.
Amen. – Kim Stafford, “All My Relations”
One thought on “Flotsam Central Oregon”
From Joe the Farmer from Merced:
I am now intersecting with much of my own scattershot history, unfolding narratives, collapsing beliefs, a new revised personal relationship, and I am about to be married, yet we’re looking for some solace in Mexico, maybe, but now, living and breathing in Otis, Oregon, near Cascade Head, the shape of life molded into the refracted light dancing in my cones and rods.
I admire those that make their way back to believing in another human being again and wanting to share their existence together. I congratulate you two in believing in one another and wanting to see where it leads. I wish you good luck on your journey together.
I myself can’t even fathom doing that again. Maybe it’s fear of being betrayed again, or it could be that I’m just to plain to lazy to want to pursue the possibility. Maybe it’s the love and influence of two good dogs of religious significance and their vow of celibacy that is standing in the way. Who knows?
To Lasting Love!
Your essay “The Climate Fiasco is Solved through Socialism” is spot on. I think your take on Bernie is true. He can’t be a social Democrat and then side with the neocon crazies on Venezuela. His going along with the Empires new war in South America shows Bernie’s true colors. Once again we’re being sheep dogged by the democrats.