I always considered myself fast ein dichter, almost a poet. The Poet to my definition committed himself, his life, mind, and work, to his calling, whereas I had made my way in the mundane world of labor and toil. It was through the trusted encouragement from Daniel Marlin, a friend since college, that I first took on the externals of appearing in public to share my writing, in effect presenting myself to the world as Poet. I still feel a conflict, because if the poem is not right and true, I am a failed scribbler, certainly not a vaunted timeless figure comparable to Yeats, Williams, and Patchen. As Miriam Patchen said to me, the occasional poet can write a good poem but is on a different order from the bard and balladier of the ages. Her husband qualified for that company.
To the extent I did rise to the level of inspired Speaker, Daniel was a mentor, supporter, and guide. He said, as my creativity increased in the mid-Eighties––for who knows how the Muses wend their way–– that I had a natural intensity and subtlety that could develop as I was able. This development took a lifetime and continues by stages. The page is a challenge to be fully true. For his example, the acquaintance closest to the poetic ideal, I bear tribute here.
Beginning as a self-taught artist and writer, he survived by panhandling, working temporary jobs, and non-profit phoning. In recent years he gained a respected reputation in both artistic spheres. His memorial occasion on Adeline in Berkeley, California was attended by about a hundred people of every class, age, and standing.
The death and life were alike in resolute commitment. During the last years, he and his wife Toshiko Watanable walked on pilgrimages, a symbolic procession of suffering and compassion, as though ordained fit and proper for their fate. She was influential compiling his numerous scattered paintings in ‘Heart of Ardor’ and assembling late drawings and poems for ‘Amagasaki Sketchbook’. She hand-bound the books. Amagasaki is her home town in the Southern islands of Japan. They traveled between the two countries, considering themselves citizens of infinite Earth.
The following pieces are not exhaustive but are meant as a witness to Daniel’s life and work as best I can provide from documents available to me over time.
The suite of messages and poems circling about the “Daylight Rabbit” elegy requires some preliminary explanation. A prophetic sequence of events preceded his death, or so it seemed to me. The first sounding began on an April afternoon when I encountered a rarity in these coastal ranges, a rabbit traveling slowly by day. That apparitional event was followed the same evening by Daniel’s corresponding, to quote a poem he liked, “Golden Rabbits”. While he may not have known of it, in Italian domestic lore, a rabbit in daylight prefigures someone’s earthly departure. He died a few months later.
Farewell noble friend, artist of peace, eternal Dharma pilgrim.
What is Poetry
Introduction / Gallery / Heart of Ardor / Rabbit Series / Obituaries / Nobel Prize