Late-Blooming Whippersnapers Will Save the World One Day   Wednesday, December 07, 2016





Standard stuff this week, random photos, old poems from my library and my poems, the only difference all of my poems are new ones.

The picture above is from Red Rocks in Colorado. The skyline in the distance is Denver. Beautiful view.

Here's the do for the week.

Me
a holiday poem from the very fine Mr. Scrooge

Monica Youn
On Ignatz's Eyebrow

Me
the day after the day after

Brian Blanchfield
The Matter, With Abjection

Me
the chubby little barista

Antler
Raising My Hand  

Me
remembering a crystal-black night

Ishmael Reed
Points of View
Bitch

Me
a cold wind blows

Gary Blankenship
Commandment I     

Me
heart-warming it certainly was, but...

Robert Lowell
Water

Me
just another chickenshit expert

e. e. cummings 
if you can't eat you got to
six

Me
the stories of the little woman and Frank Jr.

Louis Gluck
The School Children

Me
in the muddled middle

Howard L. Norskog
The Salmon River Breaks

Me
first winter lessons
          











A new poem - I'll get it out of the way first so that I can go back to being a universally approved good old boy.








holiday poem from the very fine Mr. Scrooge

feeling
as I always do around holidays
that everyone in the world
is having a huge party
that I don't get
the purpose
of

it's a lousy attitude
but
I just can't get excited
about a mythical band of Englishmen
and Indians
that is used as an excuse
to eat too much, lie
on a couch
and watch
a stupid football game

(and anyway it is now revealed
that the first of such feasts
was not i Massachusetts but in Florida
and involved Spaniards and Indians
with no Englishmen involved at all,
the whole story another example
of English oppression)

and then I recently learned
that this fake English/Indian holiday
is just one of 27 religious and cultural
holidays between now
and, roughly, the first of the year,
and having no interest
in the holidays of my own
religio/cultural heritage
I am now expected to function
in the wake of 27 such
big to-dos
from peoples and places
of even less interest to me
than my own people and place, so
happy holidays
whichever religio/cultural excess you choose
to exercise over the next six weeks
or so...

just leave me out,
please

~~~~

and, besides,
I don't give a shit about the
Dallas Cowboys  so
how 'bout
that








This poem is by Monica Youn and is from her book Ignatz, an imaginative series based on George Herriman's comic strip villainous mouse, Ignatz, along with lovelorn Krazy Kat. The book was a National Book Award Finalist in 2010, published by Four Way Books.

Raised in Houston, Youn is  a graduate of Princeton; University, Yale Law School  where she earned her JD and Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar. In addition to her poetry, she is a practicing lawyer.






On Ignatz's Eyebrow

the way water is always rushing between a ferry
and its dock in that ever-present gap where
the rush is the speed of the water and the rush
is the sound of the water and the water is
bitterly cold and is foul in its bitterness and
the gap  is irreducible space and time and
is the ache felt by the ferry in the cold
of its iron bones which will never clang
against the framework of the dock
in the satisfying clash of solid surfaces because
the gap is where such satisfaction helplessly
dissolves the way Ignatz now feels his anger
dissipating in the self-same gap between
the trigger and the smack between his anger
and its object the way one eyebrow
can never meet the other in a true unbroken v
no matter how doomy how dour
how darksome his invariable frown.










Back to a better mood.










the day after the day after

weather cool
and dim, the day after the
day after
and real life has  re-asserted
its irregular and generally incomprehensible
self and I'm settling in...

unlike my usual stubborn
refusal to participate in Black  Friday
I did go out yesterday
and bought
a new car for myself, an around-town car,
small, cheap, good warranty
and not  red

(the "not red" requirement because
every car we've bought in the past 15 years
has been red, our driveway when we were all home
like a fire station)

so I happily drove to Starbucks
this morning in my tiny, mustard-colored  Hyundai,
quick with sportscar-ish handling,
with just enough room for me and Bella, my constant
traveling companion...

so it's not a bad day after
the day after
and I'm looking forward to the day
after this day after as the world
settles back on its haunches ,
fat, and happily turning
on its regular course, in its regular
direction, spinning stories
I will try to remember
and share










The next poem is by Brian  Blanchfield,  taken from his book Not Even Then, published by University of California Press in 2004.

Born in  1971 in North Carolina, Blanchfield is a poet and essayist who earned his BA from the University of North Carolina and his MFA from Warren Wilson College.










The Matter, With Abjection

I would, Can  I have a moment? Is there a condition
behind the one you've laid out?  Does one come
away with an erogenous impression? Her eyes are
browner than I remember and I suspect there
am I betrayed. Is there any depth to which I won't
hesitate to wade? Do you, wave,  take this seed
and drown its use, to sport and to promise till
memory serves you well? And do you well
take to consomme as any cure worth its salt?
In the taste, a liquefaction and liquidation.
A jam frees, a winter thaws, as one hide
becomes another, as one torch borrowing another's
fire splits nothing? A hair please from each.
If a child would now take the aisle  and grow.
These are his wrists,  each brought round with child,
with simple ringlets. He hides your bond.
Boy, have you predilections?
                                              Sir, for predicaments.











A little moment from a Starbucks morning.










the chubby little barista

the chubby little barista
with wide-angle glasses
pours my coffee
when she sees  me coming
and has done so
since
the first time she waited
on me,
even though  
I'm only here at most
two mornings
a week

and this kind of thing
happens to me 
a lot

probably because
I have a  friendly face
with a friendly expression
and because I always talk to people,
not excessively or intrusively,
just a simple howdy-do
to show I'm aware of the humanity 
of whoever is before me
and a welcomed to their co-habitation with me
on this tiny planet...

I have my dark moods
like everyone
but usually keep it to myself,
or, if I can't keep it in,
purge it with a
nasty
rabid
ratty poem
and feel all better...

~~~~~

I'm the same way with dogs...

they tend to  like me
too...








The next poem is by Antler (born Brad Burdick in 1946) is a Wisconsin poet. A favorite of Allen Ginsberg, Antler earned a BA in Anthropology and an MA in English from the University of Wisconsin. Among other honors, in 1985 he received the Whitman Prize from the Walt Whitman Association and was named Poet Laureate of Milwaukee for 2002 and 2003.

The poem is from his book, Antler: The Selected Poems, published by Soft  Skull Press in 2000.








Raising My Hand

One of the first things we  learn in school is
          if we know the answer to a question
We must raise our hand and be called on
          before we can speak.
How strange it seemed to me then,
          raising my hand to be called on.
How at first I just blurted out,
          but that was not permitted.

How often I knew the answer
and the teacher (knowing I knew)
Called on others I knew (and she knew)
          had it wrong!
How I'd stretch my arm
          as if it would break free
          and shoot through through the roof
          like a rocket!
 How I'd wave and groan and sigh
Even hold up my aching arm
          with my other hand
Begging to be called on.
Please, me, I  know the answer!
Almost leaping from my seat
          hoping to hear my name.

Twenty-nine now, alone in the wilds,
Seated on some rocky outcrop
          under all the stars,
I find myself raising my hand
          as I did in first grade
Mimicking the excitement
         and expectancy felt then.
no one calls on me
          but the wind.











A memory poem.











remembering a crystal-black night

remembering
a crystal-black night
in the mountains

gathered around
a campfire,
small

so as not
to fade
the jeweled-night sky

scattered
snowflakes falling
on the brim of my hat

falling
softly,
quietly on the night

the morning
will dazzle, sunrise orange
breaking the east crest

creating
thin-air divisions
east & west,desert & mountain


the city below - far below
our glorious wild and wooded
nest

divisions
lost
now

under
the snow-speckled  wrap
of night









Next from my library, two short poems by Ishmael Reed from his book Ishmael Reed, New and Collected Poems, published by Atheneum in 1989.

Born in 1938, Reed is a poet, essayist, songwriter, playwright, editor and publisher, known for, among other things, his satirical take on American culture and politics.









Points of View

The pioneers and the indians
disagree about a lot of things
for example, the pioneer says that
when you meet a bear in the woods
you should yell at him and if that
doesn't work, you should fell him by
The indians say that you should
whisper to him softly and call him by
loving nicknames
No one's bothered to ask the bear
what he thinks


Bitch

When's the last time you
saw a dog eat a dog

When men invented the term
Bitch
They were talking about
themselves











Glorious weather in San Antonio this time of year, usually.











a cold wind blows

a cold wind blows
strong from the north
on a day ablaze with bright sun
and cloudless, blue skies

predicted to warm up
but not too
much

I let Bella off-leash
to run and jump
and play in the
dazzle-day
light

hold tight to my
flapping
hat












This is a new poem by my poet-friend Gary Blankenship, from a new set he's working on, 11 Commandments.









Commandment I

You shall have no other gods before Me.

On the cover of People Magazine,
teenagers scream in ecstasy
over the latest Idol heartthrob.
In a bank in Beverly Hills,
a well-groomed executive counts
the dollars in his account in Grenada.
On a cable channel owned by billionaires,
heads of hair rail against the blasphemy
of one mother who has lost her son in war.

a president would be king,
a king would be a prophet,
a prophet proclaims he is god
and we scream

on Sunday afternoon
when our team scores
a touchdown
to secure a win
the playoffs
and our devotion
in the team store 












Another holiday encounter.









heart-warming it certainly was, but...

up at  5 am
back to  regular life  
at 4 pm
200 miles to Austin
and back
having seen nothing
except just now
at the supermarket
filled to the hilt
with turkey-day shoppers
shopping carts locked in the aisles
like cars on I-35
and in the mess
two little girls in little uniforms
from different schools
see each other by the milk and ice cream
and run across to hug each other, squeal
with delight and hug and squeal and hug again

friends from the neighborhood
shuttled off to different schools, a reunion,
maybe the best they'll ever have...

heart-warming
it certainly was, but
I'm still too tired
to write a
poem
about it








This poem is by Robert Lowell. It's from the book, Robert Lowell, Poems, published by Faber and Faber in 2006.

Lowell was born in Boston in 1917 to a family that could trace its origins back to the Mayflower. He died in 1977 in New York City.








Water

It was a Maine lobster town -
each morning boatloads of hands
pushed off for granite
quarries on the islands,

and left dozens of bleak
white frame houses stuck
like oyster shells
on a hill of rock,

and below us, the sea lapped
the raw little match-stick
mazes of weir,
where the fish for bait were trapped.

Remember? We sat on a slab of rock.
From this distance in time,
it sees the color
of iris, rotting and turning purpler,

but it was only
the usual gray rock
turning the usual green
when drenched by the sea.

The sea drenched the rock
at our feet all day,
and kept tearing away
flake after flake.

One night you dreamed
you were a mermaid clinging to a wharf-pile,
and trying to pull
off the barnacles with your hands.

We wished our two souls
might return like gulls
to the rock. In the end,
the water was too cold for us.










A memory poem.











just another chickenshit expert

my job
every Saturday morning
when  I  was 7 years old

first thing,
open  the back of the henhouse,
take a hoe
and scrap all  the droppings
from the plywood base beneath
the chicken's nesting area

a studious and conscientious boy,
I became an  expert
at an  early age -

first toss chicken feed
around the back
yard, open the cage
and from back encourage
the chickens to go out and eat
so that they won't be
inside and in the way, then
take the hoe and pull the poop
off the plywood and onto the ground
behind the cage,  being sure before you start
that you have the longest handled hoe
in the shed
so that the droppings
as you scrape them out
fall on the ground and not
on your barefoot feet

the chickens, I'm certain
appreciated my diligence
in their behalf
for which
I earned a nickle a week

earning my way
early,
while others  were watching
Saturday morning cartoons
I was earning my stripes
as just another
chickenshit
expert








Next, we'll have a little fun with e. e. cummings, from 50 poems, published by Universal Library in 1970. Original copyrights in 1939 and 1940.

Born in 1894, Cummings was a poet, painter, essayist, playwright and author. He died in 1962.







if  you can't eat you got to

smoke and we aint got
noting to smoke;comeon kid

let's go  to sleep
if you can't smoke you go to

Sing and we aint got
nothing to sing about;come on kid
let's go to sleep

if you can't sing you got to
die and we aint got

Nothing to die;come on kid

let's go to sleep
if you can't die you got to

dream and we aint got
nothing to dream(come on kid

Let's go to sleep)


six

are in a room's dark around)
give

(and all are dancesing sing  dance  all are

three
with faces made of cloud dancing and
three
singing with voices made  of earth and

six are in a room's dark around)

five
(six are in a room's)
one

is red

and (six are in)
four are

white
(three singdance six dancesing three
all around around all
clouds singing three
and three dancing earths

three menandwomen three

and all around and
all around  five all
around five around)

fie flowers five

(six are in a room's dark)
all fiver are one

flowers five flowers and all one is fire











And another memory poem.










packing my kit

5:00 a.m.
get off a mid-shift,
stop by the NCO club 
for scrambled eggs and a
multitude of beer,
two quarters in the jukebox,
let the Doors light my fire
five times, start to finish...

having no personal fire to light
or person to light it -

sublimation

a most important tool in the GI's
tool kit...









This poem is by Charles Harper Webb. It's from his book Reading the Water, 1997 Morse Poetry Prize Winner. The book was published by Northeastern University Press. Webb is a poet, professor,  psychoanalyst and former singer and guitarist.









Optimism

Buddy, can you spare me a dime bag of it?
Every radio and minister and mom-&-pop
combo in town wails, "It's getting better
all the time," and all I see are graveyards
unrolling for miles. My boss gives me a raise,
tongue flapping like a pink slip in the wind.
My wife buys me a blue angora sweater.
All my chest-hairs scream, anticipating it
stripped off me like a Band-Aid in divorce
court. The judge leads the  cheers, spectators
whack me with Ms magazines. President K
calls the recession "Kaput," as soldiers stack
derelicts on wheelbarrows  aimed toward
black buildings painted with orange flames.

"Contents may have settled during shipping,"
the box says. Settled for what? Why won't
Southern Comfort gush from my golf cap,
and azaleas shake out of my hands? What
I'd like to say, "The TV works; that's something!"
I grope my head for some knob that will change
my life. All  therapy boils down to this:
"Look on the bright side." (Blindness. Heat stroke.)
"Think happy thoughts." (Peter Pan fills
his diaper in a nursing home.) Even this tossed
salad you serve, love - what do I see in its hollow
crystal ball? Lettuce (Let us pray; we need to );
Onions (waxy balls of tears), tomatoes (blood-
relatives of Deadly Nightshade), mushroom clouds.











Real life passing by.










the stories of the little woman and Frank Jr.

stories that seem to me
in some mysterious way
connected

first the tiny woman -

about a yardstick tall,
in the dog  food aisle scanning
the shelves of which only the bottom
three she can reach
and I'm wondering if I should offer
help for the higher shelves
and decide,no, asking might offend
and besides, what if she has trained
her dog to only like food and treats from
the bottom three shelves and
if I offered, instead to help and
if I offered to help and she wasn't
offended, instead accepting my assistance
for fear if she didn't I might be
offended and then pretending to need
my help,getting dog  food from the top
shelf which he dog would hate
and, consequently,
lose all  faith in her tiny master's
care and affection...

and then there's Frank Jr. -

a beautiful,white service dog
who always accompanied her master
into the diner,sitting  quietly by the master,
an old man with scraggly white hair
and beard,  usually wearing a brightly patterned vest,
who brings a small bowl of dry dog  chow and a tiny
low table that Frank Jr. can eat from, careful
not to soil her own vest which matches
her master's vest in color and design
both eating quietly, the master's hand
brushing now and  again against Frank Jr.'s
head...

a lovely ,loving  dog - I always pat her
head as I pass and she smiles, the dog smile
that only dog lovers recognize,
 and yesterday I  read the notice taped to the wall
behind the cash  register, telling
all of us who knew her and her master
that Jr. died, cancer and so  sad to know
such a sweet  soul has  passed..

but not so sad as today,
seeing her master,
having breakfast at the counter,
so very
alone








The next two poem are by Louise Gluck, taken from the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Vol2, Contemporary Poetry. The book was published by W. W.  Norton & Company.

Born in New York City in 1943, Gluck was Poet Laureate of the United States in 2003.







The School Children

The children go forward with their little satchels.
And all morning the mothers have labored
to gather the late apples, red and gold,
like words of another language.

And on the other shore
are those who  wait behind great desks
to receive these offerings.

How orderly they are - the nails
on which the children hang
their overcoats of blue or yellow wood.

And the teachers shall instruct them in silence
and the mothers shall scour the orchards for a way out,
drawing to themselves the gray limbs of fruit trees
bearing so little ammunition.


The Drowned Children

You see, they have no judgment.
So it is natural that they should drown,
first the ice taking them in
and then, all winter, their wool scarves
floating behind them as they sink
until at last they are quiet.
And the pond lifts them in its manifold dark arms.

But death must come to them differently,
so close to the beginning.
As though they had always been
blind and weightless. Therefore
the rest is dreamed, the lamp,
the good white cloth that covered the table,
their bodies.

And yet they bear the names they used
like lures slipping over the pond:
What are you waiting for
come home, come home, lost
in the waters, blue and permanent.











Here's a new poem from nearly a month ago.











in the muddled middle

winter
pushed  against
the edge of the northern
horizon, ready to start the icy dance,
but held back by eastern forces
pushing back from the Gulf

here in the middle...

stalemate

cool but not
cold

dim
but not  dark

black clouds
promising  cold winter rain
but corked against it like wine before its time
by air hanging heavy and humid
over the coastal bays and marshes
and sparsely-wooded plains...

so what  to do, we here in the 
muddled middle, but take an umbrella
we may never need whenever we leave home,
and a light jacket or sweater,
or, maybe like me,
just sit back and enjoy the muddle
and the mystery of these undecided
days








I'm  finishing up  my library poems with a cowboy poem, The Salmon River Breaks by Howard L. Norskog, born in Wyoming in 1933, he served in the Korean War at the age of 16. He made the rodeo circuits  as a bull rider for eleven years,  raced motorcycles for a dozen years and coached amateur boxing for most of his life.

Cowboy poems are the ultimate story poems, better heard in a properly cowboyish voice than read aloud and closer to the origins of poetry than anything taught at university.

The poem is from, New Cowboy Poetry, a Contemporary Gathering. The anthology was published by Gibbs Smith Publisher in 1990.








The Salmon  River  Breaks

There are days of sun and sand and stone,
Where me and my lady stayed alone.
We lived our days
In the misty haze,
Where the bighorn sheep came down to graze
In the Salmon  River Breaks.

We built a home of strong pine log,
And our only friend was a yellow dog.
We splashed like fools
In the water cool,
Where the great outdoors was the only school,
In the Salmon River Breaks.

I trapped the beaver and sold his skin.
She cursed the place that we lived in
And dreamed of spice
And houses nice;
We even left this hell hole twice,
In the Salmon  River Breaks.

I swear we could tell you a thousand tales,
Where we lived by the side of the Nez Perce Trail,
And  the deer come down
With scarce a sound,
Where the elk and the mountain goat abound
In the Salmon River Breaks.

The River of No Return flows free,
And winter and summer seem to be
A part of the strife
That infects my life;
And I thank the Lord for a loving wife,
In the Salmon  River Breaks.

For they say back there in times gone past,
That the Master decided this land should last,
And the ones insane
Couldn't play their games;
So the beautiful place would remain the same
In the Salmon River Breaks.

So the truth of it is, I love it here,
And that's why I stay year after year.
And on a sunny day you can lay me away
Where the eagle and the osprey come to play -
In the Salmon River Breaks.

(The poet notes that the Salmon River Breaks are just south of the Nez Perce Trail in northern Idaho)











Here, last for the week, a lesson for the new season.












first winter lessons

Sunday morning
at Starbucks, becoming
a genre, a place and a time
for  killing
time with a poem,
waiting
for the day to start...

the day started cold, 35 degrees,
but bright and sunny, and I'm  thinking,
first, I'm alive and, second, I'm  alive in the specificity
of here, on this morning, feeling like San  Antonio winter,
a chill in the sun-brilliant air, pretty young girls
in furs and boots, me in my corduroy jacket
again, after months and months hidden
away in the closet by the front door...

crisp air
giving the illusion
of a crisp brain, smart,
like thinking that Smart car
parked by the door might be a  good idea,
even smart, maybe,
but then the crisp thinking me
remembers my smart  dog  that  would never
fit
with me
in a Smart car
also reminding me that riding  the equivalent
of a tricycle on city streets is not
such a good
idea...

ah,
these crisp, bright San Antonio first  winter
mornings that can fog even the
most brightly
lit
brain

Bella's lesson to me
from within her golden furred
head -

I must be careful or I will surely
do something stupid
in the bright fog
of such a day
as this








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Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
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