being a mother
is about becoming
a very good listener
a full body listener
eyes ears mouth nose
always on call
ready for the unknown
hearing the things no one else
Phoenix is darling
a pleasure holding him
Everyday he teaches us
we are all learning together
Thankful I have
time and energy
to be w/ Phoenix and his family
Amazing how much room
is in your heart
when you open it up
It’s all about love
patience and paying attention
to the smallest detail
the tiniest voices
Bringing home my life work
A Phoenix Heart
For Geba Allegra & Phoenix….. Elsa Marley 4/9/11
I came from Brooklyn to San Francisco in 1967
Into a fantasy world of color and
Magic that was the Haight/Ashbury reflected by
An Oracle filled with tales of Magic
On pages of color and Promise of
In 1968 when finally
The Movement Self-Imploded into Chaos/
Hard Drugs/Rip-Offs/Murder and Over-Doses
Longing for Re-Birth, For Rejuvenation
For Reinvention, A New Beginning!
Into an Un-charted Wilderness of Self
Discovery/New Family/A Sense of Community
All the Way Back to
Into An expanded sense of Family
In Siskiyou County at
Black Bear Ranch
Where I Experienced
Joys, Pains, Bonding
The Ecstasy of Birth,
Our extended family
A larger Sense of Ourselves, The World
The Communal Experience!
Tears and Laughter/
Blood and Sweat/
Urine and Feces
The Lost Loves/The Found Loves,
The Many Loves
1974 I left the Ranch for Berkeley
New Families/New Bonding
I Walked out of my youth into
So to speak
In my Own Minds-Eye
It seems it will not be so hard
When I know it is Time to Exit
I, Will Leave!
Martín, 2004 (excerpt)
A Brooklyn Boy
Remembering Martín this afternoon, we came from all directions; from east and south and west, from north and north-er still (those travelers weary, with eyes grainy from lack of sleep and washed with the tears of friendship); old Bears, getting grizzled now, but ladies still fine in their silks -and Berkeley family, all family now in our kinship of loss and affection. We brought food, a groaning board of tasty tidbits, and the ham that’s traditional at such repasts, with Mrs. Hagle’s Mustard Sauce in a jar – cheese and apples and nuts; deep chocolate desserts and wine, and sparkling water. He would have enjoyed it, indeed. Kind words, remembered tales that made us laugh or hug one another when tears fell. (I was surprised when these welled up in me!) And then the music- in the back yard, at the piano – a gathering of guitars and a flute by the front window- everyone agreeing that this was the way it had been here in Martín and Judy’s house. The party was just gathering steam when I left, driving down in the road in the gathering dusk, thinking about a piece of the poem he’d written in 2004: “I Walked out of my youth into My Twilight So to Speak …. It seems it will not be so hard, When I know it is Time to Exit I, Will Leave”! Kathy Nolan
Martín, my friend. My brother.
Here we are again.
I see you dancing.
With your daughters.
In a circle.
Of your lovers.
Spinning to the music.
Of your family.
Who love you, So dearly.
Ain’t it great?! Isn’t it grand?!
Sharing our lives the way we have.
I’m so glad that we are friends.
J. Cedar Seeger
It was Martín who welcomed me the first time I set foot on the ranch. As welcome, he tried rolling a number in an old shoebox but it was all stems and seeds and little green to winnow. There were just a few of us. Just then police cars raced down the drive and Martin slipped out the back door with the stash. It left me to handle the heat, an act I did so adroitly that I only spent the next two or three weeks in Yreka Jail. There are no deputies where you’re headed now, Martín, to paraphrase “The Hobo’s Lullaby.”
Those early winters at the Black Bear commune were much like putting 30 people—eventually 60 people—into a pressure cooker. I remember one night, after we’d been snowed in for weeks and snow at the main house was piled three feet deep, that tensions were pretty high. One night Martín was kneeling on the floor to pour white gas into a Coleman lamp. Problem was that he was ten feet from a cook stove full of burning wood. John Glazer, who knew more about such things than many of us, ordered Martín to stop. Martín ignored him because he didn’t like his tone. Glazer shrugged, walked over to him and caught him with a punch that sent Martín rolling on the floor. Fortunately, it didn’t spill the white gas or that would have been the end of the main house. Martín took it all in stride, brushed himself off and took the gas and the lamp outside to finish the chore. Not worth fighting about.
By the next night other people were being shabby to each other and, as the evening wore on, the tension grew thicker and thicker. Finally, Martín jumped up and yelled that everybody was going crazy and he was getting out. He threw open the door and plunged on to the darkened porch as we all stared in wonder. He looked both ways into the endless fields of snow and, in his gorgeous Brooklyn voice, yelled, “Taxi! Taxi!” Suddenly all the tension evaporated, everyone had a smile and I remember it as one of the most pleasant evenings of the winter.
Martín was a friend and a good brother in those amazing days and I will miss him.
I first met Martín while he was at the Oracle and I lived with the Good Earth Commune in the Haight. The Coors truck fits in there somewhere….
When David and I started ENT Forestry, on paper I was the owner and therefore couldn’t get paid (with unemployment benefits in mind) so I worked under Martín’s name. When came the fall that year and the unemployment benefits began, Martín left the Ranch for his new beginnings in Berkeley. I always felt that I helped grubstake that “Walk”.
Martín shared with me a daughter to love and care for and learn from. One of the most truly wonderful moments of my life was solemnizing Milagra’s and Andy’s wedding. I got to stand before the collected family and watch Martín escort Milagra to the beginning of her own “Walk”.
I think the loveliest words spoken that afternoon amongst Martín’s Family was that although there were countless times when you wanted to jump up and grab him by the lapels and shake him, you were never able to be angry with him. How can we laugh so hard through so many tears?
A unique man.
Tesilya looked at me, the sun streaming in from her flat’s windows on Alamo Square as we prepared to leave for the memorial and said it simply,
“I can’t believe I’m in a world without Martín.”
In some ways we aren’t. At least for that beautiful afternoon he was the reason we were all there and he was on our lips and in our hearts. Memory almost as vigorous as presence.
As our family grows older and we begin to see the end of days, I am awed and humbled and heartened by the dignity and grace we, as a family and as individuals, are confronting the beginning of this new “Walk.”
Peace Love and Good Vibes, Brother…
Announcing the Passing of 3 Beautiful orginal Bears.
John Albien, Martin Linhardt and Douglas Hamilton
At 1:30 am Wednesday, September 8, Doug Hamilton, a member of the original group at Black Bear Commune, died peacefully in his sleep at Swamp Creek in Oregon. He battled prostate cancer for over a year, had chemotherapy in March and was able to fulfill his desire to return home for the spring and summer.
Not only was Doug a family member and a long-time friend dating from the early days of Black Bear, he was one of those people who could walk into a room and resume the conversation where it left off no matter how long it had been since you last seen him.
He had an acute understanding of politics and invariably took the side of those victimized by an unjust and inequitable society, catching you off balance with his sardonic wit and observations.
Many memories return: cutting firewood with him at Black Bear, mostly on a just-in-time basis; sharing dinners in his dome in the meadow and at Malcolm and Zoë gate cabin; and shared family holiday dinners, sitting around drinking beer and solving world problems.
Three days before he passed away, I pointed out that he was still wearing his watch. It is good to know what time it is when I want to know, he answered. The next day when I asked what time it was he replied, What does it matter?