“silent quicksand”

silent quicksand was a poetry and art magazine at El Camino College in the early 70s. I don’t know how many issues came out before folks moved on and it folded, but I don’t think many. I have copies of issues # 2 and # 3. I had three poems appear in the Fall 1973 issue (# 3). When I told my old high school friend Tim at the time about it, he said there was no quicker way to obscurity than appearing in a college literary magazine. That was of course before blogging came along. In any case, I thought it was cool then, and I still do, that two of my poems shared a page with Stephen Jama, one of the ECC English instructors, who became for a time a friend and mentor.

Four poems from Silent Quicksand # 3

Below is an image of issue # 3 and below that an image of issue # 2:

silent quicksand # 3

silent quicksand # 2

I was reading, at the time, the Beat poets, Corso, Ferlinghetti, Philip Lamantia, and of course Ginsberg, and King of the Road Kerouac, and Gary Snyder, and I remember reading Diane Di Prima, and I read Henry Miller and Anais Nin and all along John Cage, and Whitman and William Carlos Williams, and, having started with folk music, I was now getting deeper into jazz, and I read “Blues People,” by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka). Still other influences included the Rexroth translations, Hugh Kenner’s “The Pound Era,” Donald Hall’s “Contemporary American Poetry,” McLuhan and Norman O. Brown, and de Beauvoir and Sartre, and Camus. In seminars we still read Dos Passos, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Joyce and Beckett.

One night, I went with Jama up into Santa Monica to see a live production of Beckett’s “Endgame” at a small theatre, and another time we saw Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” at a small troupe theatre in Hermosa Beach. I saw the humor in Beckett. I had a sense of humor about it all, the literary quicksand. That was all before my foray into what Han Shan called the red dust. It’s not easy keeping one’s sense of humor where the quicksand is so quiet and deep, but I had my sense of humor there, too, and I hope I still do:

amuse and abuse


  1. Yup … Spring water in the green creek is clear
    Moonlight on Cold Mountain is white
    Silent knowledge – the spirit is enlightened of itself
    Contemplate the void: this world exceeds stillness

    Thanks :)


    1. Joe Linker says:

      In my first thirty years of life
      I roamed hundreds and thousands of miles.
      Walked by rivers through deep green grass
      Entered cities of boiling red dust.
      Tried drugs, but couldn’t make Immortal;
      Read books and wrote poems on history.
      Today I’m back at Cold Mountain:
      I’ll sleep by the creek and purify my ears.

      …and in the morning, no doubt:
      “…idly scribble poems on the rock cliff,…”


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