Precarious, a movement poem inspired by the Klockar's Blacksmith Shop in San Francisco, premieres June 1-3 at CounterPulseBelow is the text score for the dance. 






originally originally originally
originally originally originally
originally originally originally

a lost object

a lost building

a lost river

a lost sensation

a lost eye

a lost alphabet

a lost quality of light

a lost tool

the last industrial blacksmith shop in San Francisco 


originally originally this originally was going to be about or based on or inspired by or of a place or a space other than an idea a real place with a real address, which is 443 Folsom

Ghost stories are stories of places that progress has discarded
a lost building a lost machine
Ghost stories always end unresolved
pieces of the past return to disrupt order
the door will not close

who is here who is not here who is here who is not here


how do you keep talking to a place that is no longer there?


what I have been trying to remember could appear anywhere anytime



It’s all junk, Tony says, loosely gesturing around the shop,
I’m tired. I’m going to Colma.
Do you get that joke? He asks me.
Colma? I say.
You know, the city
full of dead people south of here.
I own this crap, he says, pointing at the anvils, the parts for machines that no longer exist,
the old Victrola covered in blankets.

Tony would ask us what the fuck we were doing there and I would tell him we were improvising and he would say bullshit in Italian

the day after the election we learned that Tony’s grandson was turning the place into a pot dispensary or cannabis start-up and Tracy the painter upstairs was going to be evicted and Tony the blacksmith downstairs was going to retire he said I’m tired


littered, cluttered, hundreds of rusty tools,
even in bright morning the whole place is grey, smelling of rats
2 big trip hammers
3 or 4 post vices
a medium sized anvil and a big anvil it’s gotta be close to 400 pounds

he’s got 3 different forges a coal forge and 2 gas forges
hundreds of hammers
tongs hung under his work table
2 12 ft lengths of 3/8 inch round stock
piles of discarded bits - not a useful amount of material


Klockar’s had a dirt floor
and when we laid down


some memorials are vertical, hard materials


some are holes in the ground open to the sky



like any lost place—
the pile of discarded bits
the heat signatures under the dirt
the weight of the tool in the hand—
our time there is not on any map
real places never are

To pass through a portal,
lay down in the dirt


The forge has gone quiet.


The door will not close.





-H.M. May 2017

Thank you to the cast of Precarious, blacksmith Tony Rossellini and painter Tracy Taylor Grubbs.

Text credits: Laszlo Krasznahorkai ("How do you keep talking to a place that is no longer there?); Herman Melville ("It is not down on any map; true places never are.")

Photo by Margo Moritz