Walking Over Waterworld   Wednesday, September 17, 2014





Back to an anthology this week, this one Three Hundred Tang Poems, Fourth Edition from 1987. The books original publication was in 1973 by The Far East Book Co., Ltd. The books editor and translator was Innes Herdan, with illustrations by Chiang Yee.

My photo challenge this week was to take a post's full of pictures downtown without going to either the Riverwalk or the Alamo. I came close.

This is the second of a San Antonio photo series I just  decided to do.

Also, poems from my library and poems from me old and  new.


Me
memories, and memories told

Li  Po
Drinking Alone Under the Moon

Me
who put the bop in the bop shoo bop bop

Jorie Graham
Dusk Shore Prayer
Prayer

Me
whoopee ty yai

Meng Hao-jan  
In the South Pavilion on a Summer Day, Thinking of Hsin the Elder 

Me
5 big kisses

Michael Ondaaje
Country Night
Bearhug

Me
a poem reminds me...

Mei Ying-wu
On Setting Out on the Yantze - For the Secretary, Mr. Yuan
 
Me
pert

Suzette Marie Bishop
Laura's Cello

Me
the best poem of all...

Wang Wei
Written at My Country Retreat Wang, After Heavy Rain

 Me
new broom

 Erika Meitner
O Edinburgh

Me
gracefully sensitive  

Tu Fu
A Guest Arrives

Sudeep Sen
Learning to Dream of Heavens
Real Myths: Sonnet  Sequence 

Me
rain in a dry country

Liu Fang-p'ing
Moonlight Night
Spring Bitterness

 Me
happy 9-11 Day to you   

John Poch
Expecting
Aubade

Me
fear not, Pancake Queen

Du Mu
Confession
Autumn Evening
Given in Farewell

Me
resolve stiffened, I will march on the day  

Paul Muldoon
Turtles

Me
I almost understood








                                                                                              



First for the week, this poem from last week. The question, which memories are actually ours and which are stories told so often by someone else that they become our memories.











memories, and memories told

getting old
involves living
with a slow sense
of sorrow

watching
life as it churns

coming and going

the coming
never equal in your mind
to what is gone

places
you want to go
most often
just places you want to go back to

~~~

sometimes
I say
I know all I need to know,
don't  need to learn
anything else...

not exactly true...

it's like the attic
at my house

I know there's a bunch of stuff
up there
but  don't remember  what
it all  is...

my brain is like that,
full,  like an overstuffed closet,
no room for anything
new
until I dust  the shelves,
do a little review and
reorganization...

~~~

I remember
back in the day
when there wasn't a direct
route from the Rio Grande Valley
where I lived
to San Antonio
and places north, which included
most of the rest of the
world

the King Ranch hadn't yet
agreed to  allow a road
across the 60 miles or so
of  their dry pasture
that ran from Sarita to Raymondville,
so the only way to go
was  on highway 281, longer than the eventual
direct route, passing through
tiny towns like Encino
and Falfuarrias and Whitsett and larger towns
like Alice, George West, Three Rivers
and Pleasanton...

I remember making that drive
with my parents in a 1939 Dodge,
the last new model before the end of  the war,
with  the long  hood and a running board,
through rain so hard water
was up  to  the running board,
threatening to flow into  the car
under the doors...

except  I  don't think it's possible
to  remember  that
since I couldn't have been more than
two years  old...

more likely
I remember the story
told time and again of driving
through the flood, not the event
itself...

~~~

I remember passing through Falfurrias
years later when I was maybe
ten years  old,
a long curve that took you from countryside
into the small town with little notice

and right at the top of the curve,
a restaurant, white stucco,
long, with arches,
Moorish, like a Spanish
hacienda or Algerian
Kasbah, a citadel
in the middle of South Texas
mesquite and cactus...

I stopped there for  the  first time
with an uncle who introduced
me to over-easy eggs
with catchup,
stopped there many times after
savoring the memory
of that first stop
every time
until finally, my memory
was all that was left,
the hacienda razed,the citadel
stormed, nothing left
but an overgrown parking lot

this I know is a memory,
not a memory of someone else's  memory
told and told  again...

~~~

that's the problem with knowing
so much stuff, so many good stories,
all those stories
just laying there on scattered shelves
in the attic, some of them real,
some of them just an illusion
in the
dusty dark,
some true,  some just accidental
lies...














 I begin selections from this week's anthology, 300 Tang Poems, with our old friend Li Po.














Drinking Alone Under the Moon

Among the flowers, with a whole pot of wine,
- A solitary drinker with no companion -
I raise my cup to invite the bright moon:
It throws my shadow
      and makes us a party of three

But moon
       understands nothing of drinking,
And shadow
        only follows me aimlessly.
For the time
        shadow and moon are my fellows,
Seizing happiness
        while the Spring lasts.
I sing:
         the moon sails lingeringly,
I dance:
         my shadow twists and bobs about.
As long as I am sober, we all frolic together;
When I'm drunk, we scatter and part.
Let us seal forever
           this passionless friendship -
Meet again
           by the far-off River of Stars!
I raise my cup to invite the
           bright moon.









                                                        





Important stuff, mainstream media just ignores it. This plea for enlightenment from September, 2011.










who put the bop  in the bop shoo bop bop?

I  used to listen
often  to  National Public
Radio

learning
many new things
every time I did - now

I listen hardly ever,
not wishing
for new things to  learn

wishing, instead, for plain
and simple reassurance
of all the things I used to know that

now  seem in question -
like
who  put the bop in the bop shoo bop bop

the first entry
in reply to a Google search
references Barry Manilow, which is absolutely

unacceptable, not to mention ludicrous,
because I was there at the time
and there is no bop shoo bop  bop

in Barry Manilow's
plain vanilla past and saying
he put the bop in the bop  shoo bop  bop

you might as well  say
I put the ram
in the rama  lama dig dong

and
though frequently influenced
by a variety of chemicals

at the time
I'm pretty sure that's just not
true

myself, as I recall,
being
more of a bee bop a lula  guy...

National  Public Radio.
in the meantime,
has nothing to say about important stuff

like this, choosing instead
the news of the day,
fantasy squash and rancid politics...









First from my library this week I have two poems by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jorie Graham. The poems are from her book, Never, published  by Harper Collins in 2002.

Born in 1950, she was the first woman appointed to the position of Boylston Professor at Harvard and was chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.








Dusk Shore Prayer

The creeping revelation of shoreline.
The under-shadowed paisleys scripting wave-edge down-
                                                                              slope

on the barest inclination, sun making of each
                         mile long wave-retreat
a golden translucent forward downgoing,
golden sentences writ on clearest moving waters,
moving their meaninglessness on (not in) the moving of the
                                                                           waves

(which feel tugged)(the rows of scripting
             [even though it's a trick] adamant with
self-unfolding)(wanting the eye to catch and take
dominant final-hold, feel the thickest  rope of
                                                waterlipped
                                                 scripting

to be a producing of a thing that speaks [to whom
one does not know, but a  true speech]) - to believe this truly,
                                                                not in metaphor -

to put it in the blank in which one sees,
and then into the blank in which one is,
to separate I am from I have being from I am
apart. And not to want to be. And never to be
emptied  by the wound of meaning.
The gash of likeness, The stump interpretation.
Spelled from the living world. Grown sharper by
this sighting.As sun goes down. Until it glimmers in
the tiny darkness and the human will come to the end.
Having it go before one's looking goes. The summer
at one's back. The path back barely findable.


Prayer
 ("From Behind Trees")


The branchful of dried leaves  blown about at the center
of the road, turning on itself is it a path:
snake: gray-brown updrafting drama:
whole affair played out between the wind's quiver, wind's
dusty haste, an almost impeccable procedure,
bit of scenery from which all fear
is deleted.  So  it
is right here, where I am peering, where I am supposed to
                                                                           discern,
how the new gods walk behind the old gods at a suitable distance.








                                                                                 




A beautiful morning, with a hint of possible rain and a suggestion that maybe the end of summer can be  imagined after all.












 whoopee-ty-yai

wearing my boots
today

don't do  that so often
anymore

usually
only when I'm feeling especially
whoopee-ty-yaish

so
whoopee-ty-yai
yaw'll









                                                                                 

Here is another poem from this week's anthology,  300 Tang Poems. This one is by Meng Hao -jan. Born near the very end of the 7th century, Meng died in 740. Despite a brief pursuit of an official career, the poet mainly lived and wrote about the area where he was born and raised, now the province of Hubei, China. He is possibly best known for his collection, The Mountain Poems.












In the South Pavilion on a Summer Day, Thinking of Hsin the Elder

Sunlight on the hill
     suddenly drops to the west,
the moon in the pond
     climbs slowly out of the east.
Loosening my hair
     to enjoy the evening cool,
With a window wide
     I rest in airy quietness.
The breeze carries a scent
     from the lotuses,
Dew drips off the bamboos
     with a clear splash
I should like to take up my lute
     and play
But there's none her
     to care for my music:
In such a mood
     I pine for you, old friend.
As the night deepens
     memories trouble my dreams.
Sunlight on the hill
     suddenly drops to the west,
The moon in the pond
     climbs slowly out of the east.









                                                                           





Okay, this might be fun - from September, 2011.











5 big kisses

s  t  r  e  t  c  h  i  n  g
    from
              the
                      p
                  e
               a
            k
        s

of
                 Cockamanistan

tothevastseeminglyendlessplains

of

          Bagooda-Spagooda

                                              I
                              will follow
                                              the bo
                                                          un
                                                     ci
                                                           n
                                                      g
                                                                   bou
                                                            nc
                                                                   in
                                                            g
ball       ball       ball
       ball       ball

                                        maybe
                                                    even
                                         meechu
                                                 there
b
   o
     u
        n
           c
              ing
           ly

                              if you
                                                    promis
                                                    epromi
                                                    seprom
                                                     ispromise
                 (honestinjun)
                                             5
                                    BIGKISSSESS

                                                                    UP
                                               &

                                                5
                                     BIGKISSSES

DOWN
                                                b
                                                ounc
                                                ing

          from the

                          p
                             e
                                a
                                   k
                                     s
                                              of

                          Cockamanistan
                                  tothevastseeminglyendlessplains
                                               of
                                        Bagooda-Spagooda
            danc     ing
                                to the

                         hoodabudda-
                         tuddifruda
                                              all
                                                  the
                                  dog       gone
  uppsy                                                                 downsy
                                          way








                                                                              



Here are two more poems from my library. These by Michael Ondaaje, from  his book, The Cinnamon Peeler, published by Vintage International in 1991. Ondaaje is a poet and a novelist, receiving the Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient.










Country Night

The bathroom light burns  over the mirror

In the blackness of the house
beds groan from the day's exhaustion
hold the tired shoulders bruised
and cut legs the unexpected
3 a.m. erections. Someone's dream
involves a saw someone's
dream involves a woman.
We have all dreamed of finding a lost dog.

The last light on upstairs
throws a circular pattern
through the decorated iron vent
to become the living room's moon.

The sofa calls the dog, the cat
in perfect blackness walks over the stove.
In the room of permanent light
cockroaches march on enamel.
The spider with jewel coloured thighs the brown moth
with corporal stripes
                                    ascends pipes
and look into mirrors.

All night the truth happens.


Bearhug

Griffin calls to come and kiss him goodnight
I yell OK. Finish something I'm doing,
then something else, walk slowly round
the corner to my son's room.
He is standing arms outstretched
waiting for a bearhug. Grinning.

Why do I give mks emotion an animal name,
give it that dark squeeze of death?
This is the hug which collects
all his small bones and his warm neck against me.
The thin tough  body under the pajamas
locks to me like a magnet of blood.

How long was he standing there
like that, before I came?









                                                                                                 




I enjoy the poem-a-day forum I work on, first for the challenge of writing a new poem every day and also because every day there are poems by my fellow posters to read and be inspired by.











a poem reminds me...

a poem reminds me
of a day nearly fifty years  ago,
walking through a forested park
on the wet edge of late
autumn, a narrow path in the shadows
of tall trees on either side, great, wide trunks
reaching high in the sharp sky

the path, straight through the trees,
to a small  biergarten
nestled  deep  within the woods

a brisk day,
but not so cold we can't enjoy
the outside tables, each of us with a liter
of Runnels beer,the tall bottles,
corks popping, like woodpeckers
on an old tree, the beer, cellar  temperature,
thick and dark, the best  beer, the best beer drinking
under the trees in the forest before or since
and best of all, on an enlisted man's pay,
one mark, in those days about a quarter per
liter bottle...

we did not go to the  GI bars
where the beer was watered down and the women
tough as a hammer
in the tool shed and twice as lethal...

our preference,
the bars where the locals met
to drink, to talk, to play some kind  of card game
I never figured out, one in particular,
a streetcar ride to the center of the city,
with an old man we called parrot
for reasons I don't remember
and an older woman -
for us that meant about 35 -
with an enormous
bosom
barely covered under a low cut peasant blouse...

we drank there just about every night
we weren't working the swing or mid shifts,
Runnels, our beer, made in Frankfurt, this
a Runnels bar, like most  German restaurants
at the time,  serving  only a single
house beer...

quiet nights,
if somewhat hazy in the morning,
the way thick German
beer -
consequences unaccustomed
to those brought up on the thin
American kind...

a good year,
a taste of good life
before the next year,
drinking canned Schlitz
under the desert sun
on Northwest Frontier,
the Hindu Kush
like a shadow  on the far  horizon...












Another poet from the Tang dynasty period was Wei Ying-wu. Scholars suggest that a major influence on Wei was the turmoil and lack of stable state leadership during his writing years. He lived from 737 to 792.











On Setting Out on the Yangtze - For the Secretary, Mr. Yuan

Sad, sad the parting from my loved friend -
Gliding on, we pass into the mists;
they are rowing me back to Loyang...
Dying bells sound
        from the woods of Kuang-ling.

Early this morning
         came our separation -
Where shall we find each other again?
Human affairs
          are like the boats in the waves
Carried away on the current -
          who can stay it?









                                                                


Well, this poem  from 2011 doesn't have much of  anything to do with its title.

But I  do that a  lot, start with one poem, finish with another, the title falling somewhere in between.










pert

Sunday morning,
early,
breakfast,
pert new waitress,
young and pert, highly pert,
exuberantly pertish,
by the time I finish my two  eggs  over easy
I'm feeling myself
the world's first  victim
of  perticide...

not  that I have anything
against
pert, it's  just that pert
is like oysters,
okay at the right time, but
never okay
first thing  in the morning

sullen
works best  in the early stages
of morning,  then rejection  and rage
at the chirping crickets and singing  birds,
easing into dispassionate
disapproval of daylight, followed by the slow
settling into acceptance, then, moments of tentative
cheer, and,  finally, no earlier than 10:30 a.m.
flashes of pert...

that's the morning routine, as approved
by all manner of foreign and domestic early
risers of whatever race, whatever religion, whatever
ethnic and cultural presumptions - that's,
in other words,

THE WAY IT IS!

someone
in a position of authority
needs to have a word with this
girl

~~~

the side-issue of premature pertocrity
plumbed to its depths, this is the
place in the  poem  where a skilled
and experienced poet would gracefully
lay out a transitional bridge to the true
subject of this  poem -

rain
or, rather,
lack of same

a cleverly articulated transition
such as -

the great  Roman philosopher
Plasticus the Elder
said
in his great treatise
on falling water,
"rain don't count
as rain
unless it falls on your house"

and while there are  numerous
pertly exuberant  people in this city
who claim that it rained here
for the past  two days, that  is solely
the result of rain  falling on their houses,
it has not rained on my house, meaning,
as far  as I'm concerned, it hasn't rained
and probably won't ever again...

and that is why this pert young waitress,
who probably had rain on her house for the past  two days
shouldn't be rubbing it in to those of us upon whom whose house
rain did not fall by being
so damn  pert
at  such an early hour








                                                                                      

                                                                                     



Next from my library, I have a poem by   Suzette Marie Bishop. The poem is  from her book, Horse-Minded, published in 2012 by CW Books.

Bishop teaches writing at  Texas A&M International University and gives readings and workshops for gifted children,,  seniors, at-risk youth and for an after-school program serving  a rural Hispanic community. She won the May Swenson Award for a previous book, She Took Off Her Wings.










Laura's Cello

The cello's voice refuses
to stay in one room
and finds its way out of the house,
gliding toward a woman

reading on her porch.
The woman glances up, discerning
the cellist's form.
Her fingering

reminds the woman
of a girl pulling knots
out of her hair, an untangling gesture.
This husky voice

comes from the desire for smoothness.
At night, the low
moan of the cello soothes and demands
like a lover's voice

until moonlight and the lights
of  other lives slide
across  the room,
lingering over the silent strings.









                                                                                    





Another great morning, occasioning great dreams.












the best poem of  all...

a morning in which
everything worked  and I've finished
my breakfast
and thinking about my poem for the day
and it's still dark
and the moon is still
high on the horizon, big and round
and bright,
the kind of early morning sight
that encourages reports
of alien spacecraft
that turn out to be weather balloons...

alien spacecraft
hovering
in a dark morning sky,
high above the horizon,
round and bright,
white light
against the black night

what a great poem
that would be...

maybe
tomorrow
even  better...

abducted,
taken into the alien spaceship
hovering
white on black,
taken to a far shining  galaxy
of planetary whirlings
and twirlings,
an honored
visitor,
to be inducted
into  the all-universe all-star poet's
Hall of Fame,
a grand interstellar
convocation  and  trade show
where my books
are bought and sold
like the ever-glowing
jewels
I know they are...

now
that, indeed,
would make the best poem
of all








                                                                                      






Here's another old friend from the Tang dynasty, Wang Wei.











Written at My Country Retreat by the River Wang, After Heavy Rain

Days of rain in the empty woods,
       wavering chimney smoke -
They are stewing vegetable ad steaming millet
        to  send to the eastern acres.
Over the still flooded fields
        a white heron flies
In the leafy woods of summer
        pipes a golden oriole.

I have practiced quietude in the mountains
       contemplating the "morning glory';
For my simple meal under the pines
        I gather dewy ferns.
An old country man now, I've abandoned
        the struggle for gain -
Why are those seagulls
        still suspicious of me?









                                                                               



Another poem from September, 2011. This one a short one about  a day I  await eagerly again this year.













new broom

fresh breeze,
a new broom  sweeping  in
from the northwest,
from the Rockies
and the high plains beyond,
blowing
mountain-blue skies
and first scent of my October
road trip...

I  smell
the mountains coming
soon








                                                               




Here's a poem by Erika Meitner from her book, Ideal Cities, a Harper Perennial, published in 2010. The poet is  an assistant professor of English at Virginia Tech, and, when the book was published, was completing her doctorate in religious studies at the University of  Virginia.
                                                                                                       




O Edinburgh

it was night & we were always drunk
              or it was day (gray day) & I'd buy
                           boxes of clementines on my way
              from school  & keep them outside
my window  on a sill so  they'd stay
               cool - O Edinburgh, where we'd
                             mash ourselves together on that shelf
                of bed after you lined up shoes
to toss, one by one,  at the heater
                on the wall - open coils that glowed
                              orange n 15-minute increments
                like a toaster & when you'd hit
the button you shoes would thud
                like large fish tails  slapping the sides
                                of a boat & we rose with the wind's
                current, its November brogue, &
O Edinburgh, it spoke in tongues,
                 flapped doors open & shut, howled
                                  until I couldn't remember exactly
                 what happened in the dark except
that we curled ourselves up into
                  the smallest specks until I wept
                                   over a horoscope & someone else's
                  tattoo & I never love you because
I was a wall of a city I had never been to








                                                                                  





I do my best, you know,  but some things are just outside my cultural comfort zone.











gracefully sensitive

this is the part
where
I'm supposed to discern
something
significant in the morning
and express it
gracefully and with sensitivity

the  problem being
I've never been accused of grace
and sensitivity
is something my manly Texas upbringing
teaches us to keep close,
our sensitivity,
restricting it
to  such emotional outbursts
as

"How 'bout them Cowboys!"

or

"My horse sure is pretty!"

or

"My good old dog sure can hunt!"

(when speaking of our dog
a tiny quaver in our voice is allowed,
the only such instance
except when speaking of our poor passed mother's
chicken and dumplings)

~~~

so
doing the  best I can
on the grace and sensitivity scale,
I discern that it is dark
and cool outside,
a temporary condition,
to be followed
by bright and hot
so I should hurry and get past this part
so I can  take my beautiful and graceful dog (quaver quaver)
for her morning walk
before the dark and cool part ends
and the bright and  hot  part
starts...

sorry,
best I can do
without betraying my manly Texas
roots









                                                                                         







Li Po, Wang Wei, now  Tu Fu - it's like old home week.












A Guest Arrives

North of my hut, south of my hut,
      the spring floods are out,
Flocks of gulls my only callers
      day after day.
My path is deep in petals,
      not swept for guests;
You were the first today
      to open my thorn-wood gate.

With the market so far
      there's little choice for supper;
In our poor home
      we have only a pot of home-brew;
If you'd like to drink with
      an old neighbor of mine
I'll call  over the fence -
      he will help us finish the wine.









                                                                                                    


Here are two short poems by Sudeep Sen, from his book,  Postmarked India, published by Harper Collins in 1997. Born in 1964, Sen, whose work I 've used here frequently in  the past, is an award winning Indian-English poet who lives in London and New Delhi.













Learning to Dream of Heavens

Today I learnt once again, how to see, how to carry
   a human being in my arms like a baby,

like a child I had to re-learn to walk the tight-rope,
   the calcified values of trying to grow

in a way that unravels and unwraps the will,
   the will to wheel on, in

spite of the frozen tears of the past that eroded
   my own insides, stiff. With pain suppressed

I thought erasing truths, forgetting the wheel
   of memory that circles mnemonically with

no rational reason was possible, only to earn
   that it's not. As I carried you in my arms

up the stairs to your room, I felt my sight again,
   glimpsing the first step, to dream of heavens.


Real Myths: Sonnet Sequence

   That evening when the light October drizzle
wet Bombay mildly, I met you in liquid abstinence
   amongst unannounced ladies who wanted to cry
on your wife's shoulders, but instead of weeping
   paraded royal ignorance and ineptitude.

Later in the air-conditioned smoke of malt,
   you repeatedly called the "real myth,"
shuffling between our table and the telephone
   in a conversation of distracted narratives.
How you've changed since I last saw you

two years ago - you now look younger,
   radiant and smiling, much more so than before.
Before leaving the city, we met once more,
   again amidst the safety of air-conditioners
and strangers, and the presence of real myths.

You shared amongst others, the moon's new phase
   in  your new sequence of sonnets - a limited
edition of two - full of tides, wrap around lines.
   New syllabics, new voices - spun rhythm -
cryptic, clear, tenuous, and passionate.








                                                                                  





An interruption in routine and a few thoughts about it.












rain in a dry country

a long drive south
today
as another of the old guard
passes,
reminding us in the second rank
that every day
there are beginnings and endings,
a  reassurance for those of us
who believe all existence
is a cycle of endings and beginnings
and endings again, the circle of life
and new life forever carrying along as long
as there is time and though
we do not welcome the next phase
of  our own ending/beginning
neither do we fear
it

~~~

as for my own,
I expect I will be last seen in this cycle
as ashes
spread upon a mountaintop
to flow with the next spring's
melt down the mountain
and across the plains
below,
becoming again the elements
that are the beginning, end,  and  all
of all...

perhaps not eternal  life
as we define it,
but never gone, never
not a part  of
all

~~~

a promise of rain tomorrow,
a fitting end,
for what better
bringer of life and new beginnings than rain
in a dry country









                                                                                              

Next from the anthology,  two poems by  Liu Fang-p'ing from the 8th century. He lived as a hermit on the Ying-yang mountainside. He never held any official appointment, turning down one opportunity for a position, preferring  his simple life in the mountains enjoying correspondence with poet friends.

I could find neither biography or photographs relating  to the poet on the web, so I settled for this  random art.












Moonlit Night

Night deepens - the moon has painted
      half the houses,
The Great Bear hangs aslant,
      the Dipper slopes away.
This night I especially sense
      the softness of the spring air -
Insects' chirping begins to penetrate
      the green silk windows-gauze.


Spring Bitterness

Beyond the window gauze, sun sets
      and twilight deepens;
There is no one in the painted chamber
       to see the traces of her tears.
From the silent empty courtyard
      spring is about to depart;
Pear blossom lies thick on the ground,
      nobody opens the gate.









For years I tried to write a 9/11 poem every September. This was my last one, September,,  2011, as my disgust with the trivialization of everything in this country and my fear of  continuing and increasing political and  emotional  exploitation of that terrible and historic day peaked.

Fortunately that exploitation has not become as bad as I feared and an appropriate measure of respect and  dignity has been retained, mostly. Though I do continue to not much like the way our culture tends to redefine victims as heroes, as if being a victim does not engender sufficient respect and honor.

Even so, as I post this, we have a new enemy, even worse than the one before. Which means once again things must get serious.





happy 9-11 Day to you

there are those who suffered
deep personal loss on  that day,
those who will remember
on this day every year, not
the event, but the loss
of a mother, son, father,
daughter and on this day
they will think of that loss,
not of politics or revenge,
but of picnics, Christmas eves
around  a glittery tree of lights
and shiny balls, of birth days
when lives began,
of birthdays that ended
on that  day

they will grieve

while the rest of us,
hangers-on to their
grief, turn the day into
a fetish,  television pictures
of grand towers falling,
gray, dust-covered  people
stumbling  through smoke,
men and women leaping  from
high  smoke and fire - television
pictures that  grab hold of our
heart  and soul  and titillate,
like the  latest death and dis-
memberment feature at the
cineplex - what a great show,
and every year we want more
of it, like the Christmas  movies
we watch every December
cause it just wouldn't be the same
without old Scrooge and wide-eyed
Jimmy Stewart
so
every year on this day, the towers
fall again, the gray ghosts  stumble
through the smoke again,  the  high
leapers
jump
a
g
a
i
n

what a show! what a show!

and ten years from now
9-11 Day sales at JC Penny's
and Walmart and 9-1 lunchboxes
for the school children and 9-111
action figures, firemen  and terrorists,
cowboys and Indians,
and those whose loss was real
and direct  will  suffer again, grieve
again, while the rest  of us
dance
again
at the 9-11 Day Festival of Stars,
last hurrahs for old movie stars
we barely remember

and lost to the funky haze
of history trivialized, the thousands
of our innocents murdered
become re-enactment props
for  an afternoon in the country,
forgotten, hidden behind the TV
images played again on the jumbo
screen at the 9-11 Day America's  Bowl in
Dallas

and,
as we debase
the memory of our innocents
murdered,
no  event, no  memory,
no mention at all
of the hundreds  of thousands
of innocents we murdered
in response








                                                                               


Now, two more poems from my library, these by John Poch. The poems are from his book Poems, published in 2004 by Orchises Press. Born in Pennsylvania in 1966, Poch earned an MFA from the University of Florida and his PhD at the University of North Texas. He teaches in the creative writing program at Texas Tech University.










Expecting

The cattails nodding above the marsh in autumn breeze
fluff at the edges like buffalo fur. This is the ease
with which the prim girl says of the pregnant farmer's daughter,
She let herself go. This round loneliness, this tatter
whitest on the hem of a cotton light must be open
to gossip, pitying the truth inside it, moping
the red-wing blackbird will make a cattail metronome
to a music of evening wind, knowing chickadees come
to line their winter nests with the down of failure's bed.
Think of the daughter stranding in a doorway, her head
against the frame, her hair in tangles across her face,
fire light in the strands' inadequate embrace.


Aubad

The sun on the thin beige blinds gives shape to
the little house-finch silhouette, in lieu
of the house finch that comes each day on cue.
A momentary tottering tattoo
held on a skin of light. A visual echo.
An unreal film. effort she flits to go
to her mate, I watch the bobbing shadow slow
till stationary on the blinds. We know,

in Iowa in  midday half-light,  you
made (with paper and a pin-prick O
and the eclipse) a smile, a crescent - although
it wasn't the moon that lit the walk below,
that lost its shape in the widening, fading glow;
it was the sun that disappointed and grew.








                                                                                         
We had to  travel back to the border last week, 200 miles and a bit, just an overnight to attend a funeral.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn, which I haven't done in years, finding them in the past uniformly boring, uniformly being the operative word.

But this one turned out to be pretty good, large comfortable room, good coffee and an okay breakfast at which I was introduced for the first time to this wonderful machine, crepe in a box.








fear not, Pancake Queen

a rectangular
box...

press a button
and watch a pancake

slowly extrude itself
from one end of the box

crepe thin
and moderately tasty

but Aunt Jemima should fear not
the effect

of Holiday Inn
on her pancake empire








                                                                                       




Last from this week's anthology of Tang dynasty poets, I have three short poems by Tu Mu. Tu, also known as Du Mu, was a major poet of the late Tang period. He was born in 803 and died in 852.













Confession

Out of luck, I roamed the lakes and rivers
      with my wine.
O the waist of Ch'u, so slender,
       the fairy-light dancers!
Now that I wake from ten years
       of Yang-chou dreams,
All I have earned is the name of a drifter
        even in the blue pavilions.


Autumn Evening

Autumn, and silver candlelight
        cold on a painted screen.
A small fan of filmy gauze
        flaps at the darting fireflies.
On the Heavenly Steps the colours of evening
        are cool like water:
She sits and watches
         the Herdboy and Weaving-girl stars.



Given in Farewell

1

So slender, so supple,
        little more than thirteen,
A nutmeg bud on a twig tip
        when March begins.
On the three miles of Yang-chou road
        with a spring breeze blowing,
And they draw up their bead blinds,
         she is lovelier than all.









                                                          




Last of the old, September, 2011 poems for the week.












resolve stiffened, I will march on the day

sun's  up

world all  about
still as a church mouse
on ludes

flag at the insurance conglomerate
across the street
hanging
limp
as an old man's dingus

(too bad there's no insurance
against that)

traffic
streaming
on the interstate -
by this time of the morning
half of them are already late
to work
and frantic, a bad time
to be on the roads, amid streams
of the frantic in a fever
of sleep deprivation and fear
of unemployment -
not  a good time for that,
you know

slow times here at
Egg & I, just me and an old man
with long gray hair and a beard, just as I was
until recently, when I became
bored with being just another
old man with long gray hair and a beard and shaved
my head and my face so I could be just another
bald old man with a sunburned head
and without a beard

seems no matter what you do these days
the best you can ever be
is just another something or other

thinking of getting myself some
overalls and  plaid socks, so that I can  become
just another old bald man in overalls
and plaid socks with no beard, a smaller sub-group
of bald old men with not beard, another step, though
a small step indeed toward being different in this cookie-cutter
world, which is something us cowboy,beatnik, red-neck
hippies worry about when we get older and find ourselves
melding into the herd, becoming more and more
like the flag hanging like an old man's dingus,
limp and ineffectual...

which sometimes causes to over-compensate,
believing with every sunrise
that a new wind will blow, stiffening our resolve,
acting as if it is so,
hoping no one will notice how white
our fingernails as we old tight
to our delusions...

~~~

so,
now,
sun's up
and time to make my move
on the day,
resolve stiffened
as best it's ever going to be
at this late date...

with renewed hope, faint, but hope still
for a likewise resolution
for the old man's
dingus









        


The last poem from my library is by Irish poet  Paul Muldoon. It is from his  book Horse  Latitudes published in 2006 by Faber and Faber.












Turtles

A cubit-wide turtle acting the bin lid
by the side of the canal
conjures those Belfast nights I lay awake putting in a bid
for the police channel
as lid bangers gave the whereabouts
of armored cars and petrol bombers lit on flare
after another. so many of those former sentries and scouts
have now taken up the lyre
I can't be sure of what is and what is not.
The water, for example, has the look of ti.
Nor am I certain, given their abilities to smell the rot
once the rot sets in,
that turtles have not been enlisted by some police forces
to help them recover corpses.











                                                                                                             




I  spent several hours last weekend walking around downtown, taking pictures. Some of the  product of that effort you see here in this  post.











I almost understood

downtown
on a Sunday afternoon,
taking pictures,
street level, avoiding the river,
so many pictures
of the river and the Riverwalk,
the beauty of it obscuring
the interesting people and places
topside...

Main Plaza,
picturing San Fernando Cathedral
and the fountains
scattered around that shoot water
up from the  bricked surface to fall back  into shallow linear pools

two young girls,  I shoot them from the back
as they splash in a fountain,
one picture, then another, and just as the second picture is taken,
the girls turn,  one in profile, the other looking
eye to eye
into my camera, eye to eye into my eyes
behind the camera lens...

and I think of deer I've seen grazing
in wildflower pastures,
peacefully grazing, in their deer element
when they see me watching
and they do not run,
but turn and stare eye to eye into my eyes,
and as I stare back into their brown eyes
I am drawn into another world,
the universe of deer, grazing, peaceful, unafraid
among the reds and blues and yellows and greens of spring meadows...

and I, for a moment reveling in being
outside myself,
seeing another world through the  eyes
of another creature...

and for just a moment I almost
understand...








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