Master and Puppeteer

Master and Puppeteer

Written in 2000

Art at left, "Dylan in Picasso", 2020 by me, The Present Moment

master and puppeteer

who is really hung from wooden hinges?

it’s a she spread out linen thin across a two-toaster bed

willing her essence to seep through cotton, foam, bits of button

settle into the rust of a box spring creaking

hide eyes hide

count winks for luck

save breath for dead wishes

blow away hope through

anger’s smoke

snuff out flickers

with the red wet stump of

a torn out tongue

rest beggar rest

in a pit of peace

never mind the

oblique blank bullets that

skim the tops off

red rage taste buds


flee in terror

shiver in shock

savor the sting of salt

mother mystery

come to


spread out linen thin across a two-toaster bed

divine her stolen essence

lost in the unknown tarot hidden in the rust of that

box spring creaking

dead bed belly bean bloat the beggar

back into being

before her luck busts

before her luck busts in the back seat of the pink chevy named lemonade floatin’ over Missouri’

before hope hits pay dirt in the wrong sort of desert

before it all tills itself down under


This poem was written after the two year process of creating the solo Nadar - My Flame Knows to Swim the Cold Waters. Dance making, for my process, I experienced as liquid poetry, and butoh in fast motion, at least with the early dances.

The Making of the Dance

In my home region, of Santa Barbara County, after graduating from Cal Arts there was scant funding for the making of dances as well as scant opportunity for sharing dances. At that time, there was a resource organization called the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance, and I auditioned an earlier version of this work for their annual showcase, but alas, the work, by the adjudication channel was seen as too improvisational looking, and was rejected.

A mentor, Nancy Colohan, she had come to the first produced event at a venue called Center Stage Theater, and expressed, she thought that given the quality of my work, it would behoove me to show it alongside other artists of equal caliber.

I invited Stephanie Gilliland to what was then Studio B, and hosted a week long workshop, and then a studio showing.

We set up light son ladders and used colored cellophane to create a sense of lighting, and our good friend Gerry Marr offered up some beautiful projections.

The making of the work marked my ability to pay for rehearsl space, after scrounging for free space around town, or rehearsing in the open spaces at Golds Gym.

In that I could not afford rehearsal more than once a week, it took a long time to create this dance.

To save on resources I would arrive an hour to an hour and a half early to warm up in the dirty narrow hallway across from a martial arts studio so that I was ready to go.

I worked with a VHS video camera recording, improvisation after improvisation, and then cherry picked the most intriguing bits. My dance goal was to work as a sculptor and expand my dynamic range as a mover.

This work went on to be performed by other artists, such as Kaita Lepore, for the 3 Cities: 3 Choreographers Project with performances in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Monterey, and Santa Cruz. In Istanbul for the 2 Cities: 2 Choreographers Project with Kaita performing the work at Kulture Merkezi thanks to the organizational efforts of Sinan Temizalp and his community. Dancer Mojca Majcen, from Slovenia, fell in love with the work and begged me to set it on her. Each time I taught the dance, I danced it again.

It feels somehow like a signature work, and it tells my trauma recovery journey, poetically, hence, is a story for all those that suffer from PTSD and struggle out of the land of victim into the land of thrive, which can be a decades, if not lifelong process.


Produced a one week workshop taught by Stephanie Gilliland and Holly Johnston. The workshop concluded with a performance in what was then Santa Barbara’s “Studio B”.