When Rain Comes and the World Is Green   Wednesday, May 20, 2015




This is the back story on this week's photos: We've had two consecutive excellent, forward-thinking mayors in San Antonio, the most recently elected mayor, Julian Castro, now in Washington as HUD Secretary, and before him, a retired federal judge, Phil Hardberger, who though nearing his 80s, is definitely not elderly, sailing his tiny sailboat around the world with his wife when his term ended. Both had a vision of San Antonio as a world class city. Castro was great in encouraging projects that are bringing new life to the city's downtown, while the judge was great in very creatively developing partnerships to buy land around the city to protect as parks and wildlife areas as places for citizens to enjoy and as a protective shield for the aquifer upon which the city depends for its water.

One of the largest projects, outside of the 8-mile Mission Reach extension of the Riverwalk, was creation of a federal, state,  local and private sector partnership for the purchase of 12,000 acres of undeveloped land (most of it from a single ranching family that had owned the land for more than 100 years) to create Government Canyon State Wildlife Area. With forty miles of trails through the park, it is a hikers paradise. No longer available to walk like I used to,  I've seen only a couple of miles of the trails, never getting to the actual canyon bottom where, among other things there are 110 million year-old dinosaur footprints. Saved just in time, even as the park was  being developed for visitors, the city was spreading all around it.

My photos this week are from the couple of miles of the park that I've been able to walk. The park, as a wildlife protection area, prohibits visitors from leaving the trails, which is a bummer for people  like me who want to get up close for pictures.

As a footnote, there is a runoff election for a new mayor next week. My candidate came in third in the general election, and though I have a preference among the two remaining candidates, neither have the vision of the two they follow. So, I'm afraid we may be in a lull as imagination is lacking for a while.

No anthology this week, just poets from  my library  and  me, new, and stuff and from early days, the old stuff, most of it, a little more personal and sentimental than usual, memories of moment especially important to me.


Me
mother of my child

Juan Felipe Herrera
Monday: I am
Monday: (PRI jet)
Monday: - you
Monday: Still

Me
accidents happen

Sunil Freeman
Mescaline, 1971

Me
that day comes

Campbell McGrath
Consolation
Mid-August

Me
a cool breeze in August   
beacon
before the estate sale 
explaining it all to my dog Reba
first frost
grandpa's rabbits

Siri von Reis
The National Atmospheric Administration's...
Theorist May No Longer Believe...

Me
five wet days without rain

Jane Hirshfield
Happiness is Harder
Nothing  Lasts

Me
bright yellow flowers  

Me
we may be record-holders

Dan Cuddy
Back Porch Blues

Me
just thought I'd mention it   

Me
Baby Stuff

Dennis Tourbin
Private Moment

Me
mystery-man   
        
               






                                                           



My last  poem last week was a Mother's Day tribute to my mother who passed away 15 years ago. The first poem this week, is to my wife, mother of our son.












mother of my child

mother of my child,
how we have struggled
at time
to make  it all work out

but always with faith
that it would
in the end

it is the most  important
thing we do -
we
mothers
we
fathers...

keep the faith,
trust each other and
the new life  given to us from which
we are charged to mold
a whole and complete person,
a new person who,
in our stead, will take  over
the reins of the future
and fulfill  the promise of our
dreams

even as we  taught the child
to dream on his own...

it is what we do,
we mothers,
we fathers...

it is what we do to  earn
the day we call our
own, our work, for which we  are paid
in  flowers and balloons
and chocolates
we probably shouldn't eat
but we do
anyway,
because it is also what we do...








                                                        
First  from my library, from Giraffe On Fire, a collection of amazing poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. The book was published  by The University of Arizona Press in 2001.

Herrera, born in California in 1948, child of a migrant farm worker, is a poet, performer, writer,  cartoonist, teacher, activist and author of more than  21 books of poetry,  prose, short stories, and young adult novels.  He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2008 and was appointed California Poet Laureate in 2012.







Monday: I am

I am
bullet-riddled inside Skinnybones Martinez he one with
                             overhauled rage Chiclets Boy (pocket bloated
now, stretching) Yes
just like the gum stuff old mandible sputum -
Cabeza de vaca  Head of a woman  weeping a desert of hands
bullet riddled and one thousand (5) thousand mothers of a dead boy, a  girl
Lily flame (her name is Senorita Solitary Ash;
his name Fire Without  a Hungry Altar Without a Leaf) - first flame,
tiny dagger, little wrist doll in the thick coffee barracks
crazy tin shrapnel  sky shred


Monday: (PRI jet)

(PRI jet) This is the string - this is the noose
this is the brown slashed head, the lost knot, the holy twine,
twisted head, headless - the dream of  ___________
the new dream of man-handkerchief artificial ice
iodine tank Christmas: suppliant supplicate suppliant
positions (he says)
          in the mass graves in the building with shoes and bandages and sweets ,
coconut and carpets on sale and pumpkin seeds and confetti
in the stone rubble volcanic ash


Monday: - you

- you want her hung open your linen  cloth
No I don't talk nor will I speak (of G -) nor  will I complete his name
Anyway - it's just you
              I judge you  - like the orphan and poet (that I am)


Monday: Still

Still
breaks your face - from the stirrups from the crutch
from this winter-spring from  the worker's barn
tragic and melancholy fictions
breaks your nose with my sand,
with our shadow, with my Huichol woman orphan frying pan
and kindling wood with lice and splendor  lizards here
you come even though you don't-want to - toward my womb,
toward this  quickening mound  at a fast gallop toward
my pencil toward my hunger my solar  razor and you don't lose the chain
take you apart on your very own shore.








                                                                      



This poem is from 2002, a smidgen of science, a brush against eastern religions and my own fumbling around in a dark closet.











accidents happen

how can a thing
suddenly
be there
where before
there was no
thing?

because
there never really is
no thing

thing is  eternal

changing shape and form
but always there
in an eternal loop
of forever is

reborn in every circuit
as something new

I am me in this circuit
and you are you

in the next
we could be mice
in the stucco cottage walls
of  a bookish, pipe-smoking
pachycephalosaurus

in another
we might be kings
or even gods

but in some
we  are not at all

there is no us
in these circuits
and there is no here
because of the trillion
billion trillion accidents
that led to here and to  us
some significant number
turned another way
and where we might have been
in whatever form
there is a ting so not-here and not-us
as to be inexplicable
even if there was an us
to try to understand

until the next  circuit
of the loop brings another
permutation of the endless
possibilities of chance








                                             
There is a long explanation at the end of the book (published in 1993 by Gut Punch Press) of it's title,   That Would Explain  the Violinist,  but I didn't read  it. Prefer to play my own games with it.

The book's author is  Sunil Freeman, author of  two books of poetry, has been with The Writer's Center for twenty-five years and is currently its  Assistant  Director. Born in North Carolina, he  has spent most  of his life in Washington D.C.









Mescaline, 1971

The senses are primed to jitterbug
with the things of the senses so  I turn

off the lights, crawl into bed,
burrow under the quilt, bring  my knees up,
fetal, and close my eyes.

Time  forgets to spin itself out.
Nothing but colors and sounds

and something important, maybe my soul,
flowing in and out of a tooth
(three left of the left incisor)
like solar flares.

Sounds and dot patterns spin fugues
that shoot from the center of the tooth,
then zoom back into my mouth.

I'm in outer space. There's something
attached to my foot. Oh!
It's the earth.








                                                          





An early morning encounter  as I was  heading out from my house for breakfast last week.













that day comes

short  little fella,
big  glasses hiding  high
on his nose

a sixth grader,
I'm guessing, from down the street
at Pat Neff Middle School...

waiting
in front of my house
to walk to school with a friend,
a girl, he says, just to be sure I know,
due to come from the other direction...

we talk
just a little, as I let Bella eat some weeds
and look around for a place to
pee...

Bella's morning duty done,
I wish the boy a good  day and I load the dog
into the truck and as we back out of the driveway
I notice the boy is leaving too, giving up,
I guess, on his friend,  as he pointed out,
a girl...

I'd like to roll down my window
and reassure the boy, tell him that
the disappointment  of this day will happen again,
maybe often in his life,
but that there will always be another day
and another girl to walk to school with...

the first of a lifetime of lessons
is always
the hardest
and nothing I might say will make it
easier...

so we both head out alone,
for this day, our day,
good or bad, is only the one that comes
before the one that comes
next...








                                    
From my library,  two short  pieces by Florida poet Campbell McGrath, from his book Seven Notebooks, published by HarperCollins/ecco in 2008.

McGrath, born in 1962, earned his MFA  at Columbia University in 1988 and is the author of nine full-length  collections of poetry.








Consolation

Sadness, not sorrow -
like the blue beneath the black
of the mussel shell.


Mid-August

An ant to the stars
or stars to the ant - which is
more irrelevant?

Ninety-six - too hot
to run the grill at Cheryl's,
no cheese steaks today!

Weekend Jet Skiers -
rude  to call them idiots,
yes, but facts are facts.











Here are several short forms from early days.










The first four poems are from 2004.


a cool breeze in August

from the north
in a season of southern winds

trees sigh
with early morning pleasure

welcome this reminder
of better days to come


beacon

crescent moon
hangs white
against the midnight sky
the gentle arc
a beacon
to the weary
and day-worn


before the estate sale

quiet walk
through
a dead man's house

soft steps
echo
in this husk
of a life

seashells
whisper
of a falling tide

end
of the end
beginning


explaining it all to my dog Reba

she stares

rapt

big brown eyes
wide, unblinking

hanging on every word
like it was God's own true
revelation she was hearing

and I'm thinking,
Christ,
I'm really on a roll tonight

submerging myself
in the techniques of instruction,
overwhelming myself
with my own higher-being brilliance


After four from 2004, this one is from 2003.


first frost

first frost
and leaves fall
soft and slow
like red ad yellow
snowflakes
drifting in the sun


And, finally, enough of this. This one from 2001.


grandpa's rabbits

he saw rabbits
behind every bush

lookee there, boy
he'd say,
leaning on his cane

rabbits all over the place

look at'em
he'd say
all over the place

yes, sir,
I'd agree

but I thought he was nuts








                                                     



Here are two poems by Siri von Reis, poet, author and botanist, from her book The Love-Suicides at Sonezaki. The book was published by Zoo Press in 2001.












The National Atmospheric Administration's

Space Laboratory warns that magnetic  storms
caused by large solar flares could arrive at any time.

The huge sun-spot related explosions hurl X-rays,
charged particles  and hot  gases toward Earth,

altering the shape of the ionosphere. Arriving
protons will touch spacecraft,  increase drag,

affect orbits, weaken power systems, cause
lights to flicker, and interfere with contact

between  airliners and ground  control. The flares,
they say, pose no  direct threat to life.


Theorists May No Longer Believe

in the balance of nature, the assumption that
normality inheres to equilibrium, an idea

that once governed the management of Earth's
resources led to the idea that nature

knows best. On many levels,external forces
appear seldom to let things remain  as they

are.  Climate, for instance, has varied wildly
for two  million years, eon to  eon,  decade

to decade, and at  all scales between. Change
is the rule, the continuum being one of

disturbance, turmoil, fluctuation. There may
exist over millenia only a kind of floating

stasis of recurrent  similarities. Perhaps one
cannot even imagine  a time in  balance.








                                                                   





The suspense is killing us.












five wet days without rain

five wet days without rain,
thunderstorms all  around, flash flood
warnings, creeks overflowing, thunder, lightning
and tree-toppling wind...

and here, peppered by occasional popcorn soft
mists that dampen the grass
and dry from the sidewalks  in minutes,
constant warnings
that we are next in line for the big blow
and deluge, the radar,red and green and purple
all around, and here nothing but our little rain dribbles
that come and go...

everyone on edge,
waiting for out turn  to hunker down

     waiting
     waiting
     waiting

and nothing...

it's like waiting for the end of a bad  movie
you already paid for and don't want to leave
because, who knows, maybe it all works out in the end
and you won't feel so  bad about the fifteen dollars
you laid out to see it...

who can sleep, or relax, even, during the course of a day
when the nothing happening includes the big  thing that was supposed to happen
and for which we  cannot help but wait,  because
it's hanging there, right in the corner of our vision, red and green and purple,
shoes on  thin, unraveling strings that still refuse to  drop,
that are certain to drop
     anytime now...

waiting for the shoes to drop...








                                                              
The next two poems are by Jane Hirshfield, poet,  essayist, translator and professor, taken from her book  Given Sugar, Given Salt published in 2001 by Harper Collins Perennial imprint.

Born in 1953, Hirshfield obtained her BA from Princeton University, part of the schools first graduating class to include women. She has taught at several universities and has received many awards and honors for her poetry.







Happiness Is Harder

To read a book of poetry
from back to front,
there is the cure for certain kinds of sadness.

A person has only to choose,
What doesn't  matter; just that...

This coffee. That dress.
"Here is the time I would like to arrive."
"Today, I will wash the windows."

Happiness is harder.

Consider the masters' description
of awakened existence, how seemingly simple:
Hungry, I eat; sleepy, I sleep.
Is this choosing completely, or not at all?

In either case, everything seems to conspire against it.


"Nothing Lasts"

"Nothing lasts" ...
how bitterly the thought attends each loss.

"Nothing lasts"...
a promise also of consolation.

Grief and hope
the skipping rope's two ends,
twin daughters of impatience.

One wears a dress of wool, the other  cotton.








                                        
 This is a piece from 2000.

The painting still hangs on my bedroom wall. Kitsch I suppose you'd have to call it and it's certain nobody is ever going to offer me $123 million for it. But it is still more dear to me than anything  Picasso ever drew.








bright yellow flowers

bright yellow flowers
cover the ground
a few standing tall
against the lake,
dark blue at the far shore,
light blue, nearly white
from reflected sunlight,
on the near side
and beyond the lake
brownish green hills
frame a pale summer sky...

first a photograph I took
near Bloomington, Indiana
nearly 30 years before,
then a painting by my mother,
her first,
desperate to fill the days
alone after my father's death,
a remembrance now...

                            love, mom,
                            it's signed at the bottom








                                                      



About fifteen minutes after posting this on my House of 30 poem-of-the-day forum, Dee called to tell me that Kleberg County had called to say they found the marriage license after all. So another of my life's great achievements gone to dust












we  may be record-holders

so there's a discrepancy
between Dee's social security name
and her driver's license name

     (it's a matter of a hyphen and everyone knows
      one cannot  be a properly licensed driver
      in Texas as long as the matter of a dangling
      hyphen remains  unresolved...)

a cosmic type thing according to the Texas Department of Public Safety,
Driver's License Harassment Bureau, an issue that can only be resolved
by presenting a marriage license to establish that "Ramirez"
in not a middle name but that, as "Ramirez-Hyphen,"
it is a true and correct representation of the feminist revolution
of the mid-1970s, the "Ramirez" becoming "Ramirez-Hyphen"
upon the occasion of marriage  as proven by may of the marriage license...

     (can't  be too careful when these sneaky terrorist are trying to  sneak
      a hyphen on the road)

except that  we cannot find the marriage license and the driver's license
must be renewed by next month...

the story thus far:

we were married in Cameron County, but Cameron County has no record of the marriage...

we lived in Nueces County on the day of the marriage, but Nueces County has no record of the
marriage...

within a week of  marriage, we moved to Kleberg County, but Kleberg County also has no record of the marriage...

other than  seeing  an ancient, crabby priest, I have no  memory of any of the preparations
for  the marriage...

Dee,  who took care of the preparations for the marriage has  no specific memory of getting the license
as part of the preparations for the marriage, other than a vague memory
of taking a blood test...

which could possibly mean that after nearly 40 years we may have inadvertently established
a  possible shacking-up record...

as an old hippy without much else to mark my passage through the straight life, I am tempted,
when she's not looking, to like the idea.










Next, from his book   Handprint on the Window, a poem by my poet-friend from Baltimore, Dan Cuddy.

Dan is a graduate of Loyola College. He served as a contributing editor of the Maryland  Poetry Review and assistant editor of Lite, Baltimore's Literary Newspaper. He has published frequently in print and on-line poetry journals. This is is first book, published by Three Conditions Press in 2003.











Back Porch Blues

On the radio
there is not  enough song.
I sit in the cool night air.
I sit as if a mad artist,
Arshile Gorky,
painted me out of existence.
I listen to the engines whine
macho adolescence  on the open road.
I sit  on my back porch
awake yes but hardly awake.
Everything that has happened
is gone.
The jet left yesterday.
Somewhere, where there is still
a sunset,
that plane wipes
its vapor tail,
its blood against the sky.
I smell lilac, honeysuckle.
What is out there?
Crickets dance their wickedness,
their messages of incessant desire.
Lights shine from the kitchens
and the bedrooms sixty yards off.
Marriages, families
go through the normal  motions,
like breathing.
Loneliness is a chill
only luck or death can cure.
There is that infinite distance
between yesterday's sunlight
and this burned down day.








                                                       




                                                          





A week of heavy rain and we see things for a long time unseen,  as well as things we never ever saw before.











just thought I'd mention it

two ducks
standing in heavy rain
in the middle of the bridge over Apache Creek

just standing there...

confused by the rain, maybe, or maybe just enjoying the rain pounding on their duck-waxed back

don't ask me,
I don't know  anything about mallard motivation
that I didn't learn from Donald and Daffy
and I don't recall ever seeing
either of them
standing
in the middle of a bridge in pouring rain

     which reminds me
     have you ever noticed how similar in mentality
     and personality and temperament
     are Donald and Daffy,
     loud
     angry
     over-reactive
     and such as that

     how peculiar that two massive
     international  
     corporations like Disney and Loony
     would, independently,  come up with near identical stereotype establishing
     ducks...

     (surely, rare are those in this world who, thinking duck, doesn't visualize
     one of these two most famous  movie star ducks - I'm more of a
     Daffy man myself - Donald having a little too  much
     Uncle Walt in him for my tastes...)

anyway,
all philosophy aside,
the  ducks just stood  there in the middle of the bridge,
refusing to move a I advanced slowly until we were almost
bumper to tail feather...

a mystery for a rainy day...

just thought I'd mention
it








                                                                 
Here's another old favorite memory poem, written in 1999, published by The Green Tricycle in 2000.

I never tire of telling the story, even more, the story of the day after, when, after the ceremony at the agency, all the family who had come to go to the ceremony with us followed us home, held the baby, held  the baby for a minute, and then left. Suddenly, it hit home, after 8 years of childless marriage, there was a baby in the house and he was ours and everyone who knew what to do next had just left.






Baby Stuff

I remember the day,
late March early spring,
sunshine and a sky scrubbed blue
by a brisk bay breeze.
Our families came from all directions,
arriving in a rush at the last minute,
everything unplanned and unexpected.

We had been called only the day before,
barely a week after they told us
to expect to wait six months to a year.

Then the phone call at mid-morning,
he'll be ready at noon tomorrow, they said,
and he'll come with only the diaper he wears.

Unprepared, we panicked, lunch at our favorite
restaurant to decide on a name, then,
rushing to K-Mart, pushing squeaky cart
from aisle to aisle, "What does a baby need?"
we asked each other. Bottles, a bottle warmer,
diapers, oh, Lord... What else?
Clothes,bassinet, a stroller...
no, that's later, a car seat...
oh Lord, what else, what else?

We fell together in the middle
of the baby stuff aisle,
holding on to each other,
laughing...









                                               
From my library, this is a poem by Dennis Tourbin, from his book In Hitler's  Window. The book was published in 1991 by The Tellem Press of Ottawa.

Born in 1946, Tourbin was a Canadian poet, performance artist, novelist, editor, arts activist, and painter whose  work hangs in the National Gallery of Canada. He died in 1998.





Private Moment

Is there one  short
moment, a split-second
of  time before the trigger
is pulled  and the bullet
spreads itself,
exploding...

a private moment
beyond indecision

the barrel in his mouth.

As he stands before the
mirror, the trigger melting
on his finger, his wide eyes
staring deep through glass
and tortured vision, is there
one short moment before
the trigger is pulled...

Instantly, the finger reacts
and his own eyes fail to
record the image. It is
that fast...









                                                          

This is an old observational from 2003. I like this kind of poem that catches people in transit, a moment in a life, no way to know for sure what came before or what  will come next. It's like opening a book to a page at random and making up your own book from that page.








tears in public places

she sobs,
once,
then looks away
damp-eyed

he sits beside her
frozen still at first
then leans back
and looks at her
watches her
like a bystander
like he doesn't know
how he got there
why he got there

he says something
moves closer to  her
seems to say it again

she nods
looks down
to her hand lying
flat on the table
inches from his
trembling

his hand lifts fingers
barely off the table
and it appears he might
take her hand but
he draws back
speaks softly to her again
rises from his chair
and starts toward the door

she follows wiping
her sunglasses
and the sun through
the open door
is like a flash of fire











Last from  my library this week is a poem by Wendell Berry, from his book Collected Poems, 1957-1982. The book was published by North Point Press, my copy, the thirteenth printing in 2001.

Berry, born in 1934, is a novelist, poet, environmentalist, culture critic and farmer. Winner of many awards and commendations he earned his BA at the University of Kentucky, as  well as an MA in English in 1957.











My Great-Grandfather's Slaves

Deep in the back ways of my mind I see them
     going in the long days
     over the same fields that I have gone
     long days over.

I see the sun passing and burning high
     over  that land from their day
     until mine, their shadows
     having risen and consumed them.

I see them  obeying and watching
     the bearded tall man whose voice
     and blood are mine, whose countenance
     in stone at his grave my own resembles,

I see them kneel and pray to the white God
     who buys their souls into Heaven.

I see them approach, quiet
     in the merchandise of their flesh,
     to put down their burdens
     of firewood and hemp and tobacco
     into the minds of my kinsmen.

I see them moving  in the rooms of my history,
     the day of my birth entering
     the horizon emptied of their days,
     their purchased lives taken back
     into the dust of birthright

I see them borne, shadow within shadow,
     shroud within shroud, through all nights
     from their lives to mine, long beyond
     reparation or given liberty
     or any straightness.

I see them go in the bonds of my blood
     through all the time of  their bodies.

I have seen that freedom cannot be taken
     from one man and given to another,
     and cannot be  taken and kept.

I know that freedom an only be given,
     and is the gift to the giver
     from the one that receives

I am owned by the blood of all of them
     who ever were owned by my blood.
     We cannot be free of each other. 









                                                          




Another day during which not much poetic was going on between my ears, so, another word-pile observational.











 mystery-man

old fella
in a gimme cap
and a khaki shirt sitting
at one of the outside tables

smoking

watching morning traffic
as it passes north down old Broadway

a traveler?

can't tell,
can't see bundle
from where I sit, if  he's carrying one

rough-hewn, sharp-planed face
has  seen a lot of sun, but it's clean, close-shaved
under dark, bushy eyebrows,
a cleaner face
than what you normally see among the
travelers, and his hair under his cap
is neat, if longish, and his khaki shirt  is clean, looking
almost  pressed

so why am I thinking, "traveler"?

something about the way he sits, the way he watches
the street, something of an observer of the life that passes,
not a participant, something about the way he smokes his unfiltered
cigarette  right down to the lip line,  like a man who doesn't know where
the next one is coming from...

he gets up  to leave, and yes, a traveler, two  stuffed bags,
a traveler with a clean shirt with pens in its pocket...

a morning mystery-man whose mystery I have enjoyed considering, through
whose eyes I have watched the street as it begins the new day, cars,
trucks, yellow school buses passing south to north, north to south, while,  I with the
mystery-man, through the mystery-man, enjoy the pleasures of an observer
for this day and never again a likely participant...








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2 Comments:
at 9:34 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad to see Dan C's poem- also love that first photo dull edge of summer- where taken?
btw- r u a kossak or a bandido?

at 9:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

1-0 or 0='s- yr getting a piece by me re peter matthiessen

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The Dull Edge of Summer   Wednesday, May 13, 2015





More old  photos, with a Photobucket color edit that, at least to my eyes, gives a greater depth and, in some pictures, almost a 3D effect to the pictures. The photos in the post are from at least three states, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, with maybe some Arizona and Nevada thrown in that I don't recognize. All told, selected from four or five years of drive-arounds.

My anthology for the week is another huge volume of poems, Language for a New Century, subtitled "Contemporary Poetry From the Middle East,  Asia and Beyond." This is part  of  a series by W. W. Norton. This one in the series published in 2008.

Then there's the regular stuff, me and a couple others from my library.


Me
the balance of nature can be restored

Tenzin Tsundue
Exile House

Me
let's go shoot a big fat capitalist

John Updike
My Mother at Her Desk

Me
family

Patrick Rosal
About the White Boys Who Drove By a Second Time to Throw  a Bucket of Water on Me
 
Me
ripples

Kabir
Three lessons

Me
8 seconds

Prageeta Sharma
A Brazen State

Me
red planet rebirth
meanwhile in the Hydra Constellation
brotherhood of the  forever spreading stars

Shang Qin
Flying Garbage

Me
it was a  time

Tanyra Ryuichi
A Thin  Line   

Me
poem on a napkin
the dreams of Mary Quemada
the cruelty of cats at play
warning  label

Adonis
from Diary of Beirut Under Siege,1982    

Me
such magnificent sunsets

Al-Munsif  Al-Wahaybi 
In the Arab House

Me
what God don't like

Wayne Scheer  
The Other Shoe

Me
a whisper of wind

Viswanatha Satyanarayana  
Song of Krishna (5) 

Me
the rules of silence

Sylva Gaboudikian
What I Notice

Me
as Mother's Day approaches     

  
           






  




It is painful to find a reason to be so deeply disgusted with your own  kind.






the balance of nature can be restored

a  picture on Facebook

a  baby elephant
lying on the body of its mother murdered
for the sport of it...

     there being something 
     in small souls
     that revels in the death
     of the larger
     and better

baby elephant,
mourning the death  of its mother
as I mourn the deadly
arrogance of my
kind...

how to write a poem about that
when I have no words
to describe the depth of my sadness...

to describe the sunburst ferocity of my anger...

to describe my disgust, the revulsion,
the twisting  in the pit of my
stomach...

it is time to declare that one murder
deserves another...

kill the killers, not just the killer
of elephants, so intelligent, deeply emotional
about the fate of their own kind  that they mourn
as we mourn, but as well the killers for sport of all such
magnificent animals,giraffes, rhinoceros, stately lion,the whole continuum
of their moral betters in the wild...

kill the killers, hunt them down and kill them, mount
their heads on walls or hunt clubs, remind
those who also might find fun in murder, that, as they hunt,
so also can they be hunted...

the balance of nature can be restored...








                                                     



From the section of the anthology titled "In the Grasp of Childhood Fields," this poem is by Tenzin Tsundue, poet, writer and Tibetan activist. Coming from a family of Tibetan exiles living in India, he has published three collections of poetry.










Exile House

Our tiled roof dripped
and the four walls threatened to fall apart
but we were to go home soon,

we grew papayas
in front of the house
chilies in the garden
and changmas for our fences,
then pumpkins rolled down from the cowshed thatch
calves trotted out of the manger,

grass  on the roof,
beans sprouted and
climbed down the vines,
money plants crept in through the windows,
our house seems to have grown roots.

The fences have grown into a jungle
now how can I tell my children
where we came from








                                         
                                          
The next  poem is on the same subject as the first one, though written ten years or more earlier. A big difference between the two is that this older one, written with ten fewer years of pictures of dead animals and self-satisfied "hunters" with big guns, is much more tongue-in-cheek, an attempt to make the point with a little more humor. Now, these days, I'm beyond any semblance of humor on this subject.

It is included in my first book,  Seven Beats a Second,  still available on Amazon in both new and  used versions. Which reminds me of my mixed feelings when I see a copy of my book in a used book store, pleased that someone bought the book and, presumable, read it; disappointed that after reading it they didn't want to save it in  their attic for their  grandchildren.






let's go  shoot a big fat  capitalist

the flack for the Safari Club
  defends the sporting ways
of his wealthy employers

    look, he begins
with a nod that says
         listen up!!

             you tree
             hugging
             elephant
             kissing
             liberal
             commie
             nitwits

          there are
         thousands
      and thousands
of elephants in Africa
       shooting a few
is no threat to the species

        in fact, he adds

     shooting elephants
   is good for elephants

thins the herd, you know

     reduces overgrazing

insures sufficient resources
     for those that remain

  we love these elephants
                you see

and only do what  we must
    for the good of the herd

                  well...
           I  say, of course

all  for the good of the herd








                                                                              
 First from my library this week, this poem is by John Updike, from his book, Endpoint, and Other Poems, published in 2009 by Alfred A. Knopf. This was Updike's final book, written through the last seven years of his life and put together in final form only weeks before he died, done with knowledge that his end was fast approaching.








My Mother at Her Desk

My mother knew non-publication's shame,
obscurity's abyss where blind hands flog
typewriter keys in hopes of raising up
the combination that will sell.
Instead, brow envelopes return, bent double
in letter slots to flop on the foyer floor,
or else abandoned flat within the rim
of the rural mailbox, as insect whirr.

She studied How To, diagrammed Great Plots
some correspondence course assigned, read Mann,
Flaubert, and Faulkner, looking of the clue,
the "open sesame" to fling he cave door back
and flood with the shadows in her heart
to turn them golden, worth their weight in cash.

Mine was to  be the magic gift instead,
propelled  to  confidence by mother-love
and polished for New York markets by
New England's wintry flair for education.
But hers was he purer ambition, hatched
of country childhood in the silences
of crops  accruing, her sole companions birds
whose songs and names she taught herself to know.

Her gray head cocked, she'd say, "The Chickadee
feels lonely!" Bent above a book, she'd lift
her still-young face and say, "Such ugly words!"
as if each stood alone. No, no, I thought,
context is all. But I was male and made
to make a mark, while Mother typed birdsong.








                                                     




This, a sight it seems I see more and more often on the streets.












family

standing on a street corner,
pitiful look,
cardboard sign
in hand, and at his side
a  scruffy-looking dog on a frayed
rope lash...

traveling  companions...
friends in the dark and lonely night...

family...








                                                   


Next, from the section of the anthology titled "Parsed into Colors," this next poem is by Filipino-America poet   Patrick Rosal. Born in 1969, he is the author of four poetry collections. His most  recent collection,  Boneshepherd (2011) was named a small press highlight by the National Book Critics Circle and a notable book by the Academy of American Poets.











About the White Boys Who Drove By a Second Time to  Throw a Bucket of  Water on Me

                           "...there shall never be a rest
                  till the last moon droop and the last tide fail...               
                                               - Arthur Symons

The first time they merely spat on me and drove off
            I stood there awhile staring down the road
after them as if I were looking for myself
                I even shouted my own name
But when they cruised past again
           to toss a full bucket of water
     (and who knows else) on me
                  I charged - sopping wet - after their car

and though they were quickly gone I kept
             running Maybe it was hot that August afternoon
       but I ran the whole length of Main Street pas
                    the five and dime where I stole bubble gum
cards and Spaldeens past the bus depot and
              Bo's Den and the projects where Derek and them
     scared the shit out of that girl I pumped
                  the thin pistons of my legs all the way home

Let's get real: It's been twenty-five years
              and I haven't stopped chasing them
      through each side street in Metuchen
                  each pickup b-ball game every
swanky mid-town bar I looked for them
            in every white voice that slurred and cursed me
     within earshot in every pink and pretty
                     body whose lights I wanted to punch out

- and did - I looked for them - to be honest -
          in every set of thin lips I schemed to kiss
     and this is how my impossible fury
                rose like stone in water I ran
all seven miles home that day and I've been
            running every since arriving finally
       here and goddammit I'm gonna set things straight

The moment they drove by laughing
      at a slant-eyed yellowback gook
                   they must have seen a boy
who would never become a man We could say
             they were dead wrong. But instead let's say
       this: Their fathers gave them rage
                    as my father gave me mine

and from that summer day we managed
            every acrid thing
      that belonged to us It was a meal
                  constantly replenished - a rich
bitterness we've learned to live on for so long
              we forget how - like brothers -
we put the first bite in one another's mouths








                                                               



This is another old piece that I used in Seven Beats a Second. It was intended to be part of the Corpus Christi series I never  finished. I don't think it was ever published anywhere else.












ripples

the bay is flat
        so still
underwater currents
can be seen on the surface
         like smoky streaks
         on an antique mirror,
         so still, like time
and the earth's rotation
have stopped and the sun
has stopped overhead, its
burning light sharp and clear
         while offshore
         a small fish leaps
         and slaps the water
         with a crack
that starts a small wave
pushing out in a circle
from the small jumping fish,
         the only motion
spreading across the bay
         to the gulf
small leaping fish pushing
against the Gulf of Mexico
and the Atlantic beyond,
          small leaping fish
          making ripples
in universal waters
          an anti-tide,
          a nibble-surge
against the moon's orbit
and the rightness of all








                                                             



Next from my library, from Kabir, Ecstatic Poems, Versions by Robert Bly.

The legacy of Kabir, mystic poet and saint of India, is carried on by Kabir Panth (Path of  Kabir), a religious community of approximately nine and a half million who view him as the founder of their religion.










```

I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is
     thirsty.

You don't grasp the fact that what is most a life of all
     is inside your own house;
and so you walk from one holy city to the next with a
     confused look~

Kabir will tell you the truth; go wherever you like, to
     Calcutta or Tibet;
if you can't find where your soul is hidden,
for you the world will never be real.


```

I don't know what sort of God we have been
     talking about.

The caller calls in a loud voice to the Holy One at
     dusk.
Why? Surely the Hold One is not deaf.
He hears the delicate anklets that ring on the feet of
     an insect as it walks.

Go over and over your beads, paint weird designs on
     your forehead,
wear your hair matted, long, and ostentatious,
but when deep inside your there is a loaded gun, how
     can you have God?

```

I have been thinking of the difference
     between water
and the waves on it. Rising,
water's still water, falling back,
it is water, will you give me a hint
how to tell them apart?

There is a Secret One inside us;
the planets in all the galaxies
pass through his hands like beads.

That is a string of beads one should look at with
     luminous eyes.








               
                                                          

I ended last week's post with a poem about how the city held it's breath as it's basketball heroes, the Spurs, faced another high-stakes game in their quest for their sixth NBA championship (and second in a row). They did not make it, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in the seventh game of a seven game series, another magnificent game as usually happens when two great teams meet in any sport. It was a sad ending, but, the consolation, there's always next year.










8 seconds

it is a sad and gloomy day
here,
but there,
across the high peaks of the
continental divide,
for those who live on the edge
of the great  ocean,
it is a day bright, flush with
deserved victory...

but
here of there,
win or lose, among those who mourn a season-ending
loss, or  those
who dance in the bright morning of a hard fought
win,
who cannot but love a game
where victory or crushing  defeat
in a seven-game  series
is decided in the last 8 seconds
of the seventh and last
game

it is basketball,
unlike
any other game that grown men
play

a game where 8 seconds
determines the outcome of an 82-game season








From the next section of the anthology, "Slips and Atmospherics," this poem is by Indian-American poet, Prageeta Sharma. Born in Massachusetts in 1969 shortly after her parents emigrated from India, Sharma earned her MFA in Poetry at Brown University in 1995 and an MA in media studies from The New School in 2002.

She is the author of three collections of poetry and is currently Assistant Professor and Director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Montana.






A Brazen State

If I remember that there was a course of action
like a town with blueprints for the carnival,
then I can bludgeon the dream with an autocrat's
swiftness and catalog all the experiences like sentences.
There was the one with a bald spot and the one getting one.
There was one with only a fawn for a friend and one
with a rifle. There was one with just a penny and twelve
zeros with fanaticism for nothing special.
Which was edited came true, what was omitted was
lucky to  be erased. There lay the town; the state's little anarchy
in trouble with a hazy aqua for a light - a duress unbound in the
    children's play.
I forgot that it meant we were all brazen and strong willed and hearty
and did not fight indiscriminately for terror or the experts.








                                                                 
Next from Seven Beats a Second, poems from my science/science fiction period. I think they both were published in very small local eZine which name, I cannot remember.

The first poem are my thoughts upon landing of the first  Mars lander. The second from a piece in the Times about the collapse of galaxies spotted by one of the large telescopes, and the third a reflection on that moment when, from the high Chisos Basin, I look up at all the stars in the bright and open West Texas sky and realize that all of that all that I can see is only a tiny, tiny part of the all that is and for a moment I begin to get a feel for the possibilities of what all that could be in that all that is.









red planet rebirth

oxidized remains of cathedrals  and commerce
brought to dust by the savage rub of time

red dust so fine it spreads like a cloud
across the plains and hills all around

virgin bride again

ready for life again after millennia
alone in the cold, black crypt of space



meanwhile, in the Hydra Constellation

a storm of stars
passes soundless through the void,
crossing unimaginable distances
to meet, to crash in a flash
of exploding suns and primordial fire
stretching across  a billion years,
a furnace unlike any
since the first great eruption
that came from less than nothing
to blast a cosmos into being

and around these speeding suns,
orbiters like our own earth home,
and on some of them, creatures
like ourselves, products of an evolutionary
trail from muck to self-discovered glory,
inventions of their own histories, periods dark
and light, times of cruelty,death  and genius flowering
people like we are people, struggling  through life
seeking grace, forgiveness, the salvation of love,
seeking honorable life and honorable end...

that end comes for them now, across the void
in a storm of stars colliding, an end ablaze
with the light of creation deconstructing



brotherhood of the forever spreading stars

a million billion
You's and Me's
in never ending 
varieties of
size and shape
and unimagined
chemistries
scattered in places
we can never be,
places so far,
so strange,
so contrary
to all we know
that only minds
vanity free
and welcoming
impenetrable mysteries
can ever chance
to see the possibilities
of all our fellow
You's and Me's










                                                       



The next poem is from the "Earth of Drowned Gods" section of the anthology. The poet,   Shang Qin was born in 1930 in southern China and has lived in Taiwan since  1948. At  the age of 15 he was press-ganged by local troops and locked in a barn where he found a trove of books, his first exposure to the "new  literature."











Flying Garbage

                            Written on Earth Day, 1998

A gust rises.

First, a piece of  old newspaper overturned, yesterday's news, today's
history,  sent to the other side of the street to be trampled on once again,
then a  plastic bag with pink stripes, almost transparent, floating up to
the sky, brushing the high-rise of Taiwan Electricity Company along the
way, people following its stumble  with their eyes; now it heads south
along Xindian Spring, breaking up a flock of pigeons before it enters the
mountainous region of Five Streams,,  causing a falcon to take flight and
survey in alert while avoiding in haste the clamors and sights of humans,
animals, cockroaches in the bag.
The garbage bag continues its journey toward White Cock Hill,
vermilion  clouds write giant  characters in the western sky.

Translated from Chinese by Michelle Yeh







                                                          



Another  poem-a-day morning with the well of of poetic inspiration shallow, a memory poem, suitably embellished, of course, is always a workable option.











it was a time

a stone-cutter bar
on the hard-edged side of  town
where the quarry workers
drank their  Saturday nights
into Sunday morning...

the crowd was loud and raucous
and the bands, electric hillbilly, pushed
back, loud and rough and often obscene
their signature
sound...

we  were a couple of guys
in our twenties, studying Russian
at the university during the day,
drinking like Russians
at night, a poor fit for this  crowd where fights
marked the passage of each hour
like the old grandfather clock at the end
of  the hall,exploding  curses, flying beer bottles,
blood on the floor, but we came for the music
and the beer and minded our own business
and were for the most  part agreeable
with everyone wherever we went
and the more rough and ready recognized 
us as non-threatening and not worth the trouble
of  random aggression, leaving us alone to
drink through the punches thrown around us
as we stomped our feet to the beet
of the musical melee flooding from the stage
like a high tide rising from rough seas...

until 2 a.m. and the place closed
and we, insufficiently drunken  to call  it  a night,
moved on to an  after-hours place
in the black part of town where we,
white clouds against an all-black sky,
could  finish the night with the best soul-man
in all of  West Texas and Falstaff was
the only beer sold there for reasons
we never questioned...

 finally, as the sun broke  through
the night's dark cover, the night ended
with a sobering bowl of hangover preventative,
three alarm firehouse-chili
and an hour  or two with the Sunday
times...

it was a  time, for sure, not  just Saturday  night,
but every night until our Airman Second Class paycheck
ran out and we had to settle for cafeteria food and an
early evening at the university library
before settling in for the restless sleep of a dormitory
night...

it was a time,
for sure... 








  
Now, back to the anthology from the section titled "Buffaloes Under Dark Water."

The poet is Tanyra Ryuichi. He was born in Tokyo in 1923 and died in 1998. In addition to his poetry, he was an essayist and translator of English novels and poetry. Early in his life, he worked for Tokyo Gas for one  day before quitting to continue his studies and follow his interest in literature. He was drafted into the Imperial Japanese  Navy and, though many of his friends died in the war, he never himself saw combat, suffering, instead, what we might call today "survivor's guilt" for the rest of his life.








A Thin Line

You are always alone
There is something like a bitter light
in the pupils of your eyes that  have never shown tears
I  like it

             To your blind image
             this world is a desolate hunting place
             You are the winter hunter
              who constantly chases down one heart

You do not believe in words
There is  a deep longing for fear
in your footsteps that have murdered all the hearts

             On the thin line tat you walk
             the smell of blood is even on the top of the snow
             No matter how far we  separate
             I can tell

You pull  the trigger
I die  inside a word

Translated from Japanese by Samuel Grolmes and Yumiko  Tsumura








                                                    






Here are several short pieces, again from Seven  Beats a Second.













poem on a napkin

Starbucks brown
and flimsy
with little space
for things profound,
instead,
a small memorial
to  the moment
our eyes met
and the future
was foretold



the dreams of Mary Quemada

her  long hair blowing
like a dark tide  gathering
across her satin pillow,
she dreams of times  past
and places she loved
long gone

while I,
watching,
yearn to dream with her



the cruelty of cats at play

her black smile
cut like a dagger through the dark
           unseen
           slicing cleanly to the heart

"I have something to tell you,"
           she whispers


An ex-smoker for nearly 20 years now, my public service poem.


warning label

cigarette  smoke
makes you smell like a bar in the morning

the stale stink of a butt-littered floor
         and spilled beer
and piss from the overflowed  urinal in the john

all overlaid by a reek of desperation

the desperation of a limp cocks lost in lust-dreaming
            losers lost in their own lies
redemption-dreams  fading as the sun rises

to the squalor of crud-crusted eyes
and a lingering vomit-bile breath

 






                                                                
Next from the "Apostrophe in the Scripture" section of  this week's anthology, a poem by Syrian poet and Nobel favorite  Adonis (Ali Ahmed Said Esber). Born in 1930, Adonis is an essayist and translator as well as poet with more than twenty volumes of poetry in Arabic as well as several books translated from  French.

Imprisoned in  Syria in 1950 for his beliefs, he resettled in Lebanon and France from where he has been nominated for the Nobel Prize every year since 1988. He is considered by many to be the greatest living poet of the Arab world.






from Diary of Beirut Under Siege, 1982

1.
the time of my life tells me:
"You do not belong here."
I answer frankly.
Granted. I don't belong.
I try my best to  understand you,
but I am lost
like a shadow in a forest
of  skulls.

2.
I'm standing now .
This wall is notching but a fence.
Distance  shrivels; a window fades
Daylight is but a thread
I snip to stitch my way to darkness,
breath by breath.

3.
Everything I ever said  of life and death
repeats itself in the silence
of the stone that pillows my head.

6.
the door of my house  is sealed.
Darkness blankets me.
the moon offers me
its paltry alms of light.
I choke with gratitude,
but I cannot speak.

7.
Murder has transformed Beirut.
Rock is really bone.
Smoke is but the breath of human beings.

10.

Bulletins:
a woman in love's been killed,
a boy kidnapped,
a policeman crushed against a wall.

12.
People were found in sacks:
a head only in one sack,
a tongueless and headless corpse
in another,
in a third what once was a body,
the rest, nameless.

23.
When trees bend they say good-bye.
When flowers bloom, blaze and close,
           they say good-bye.
Young bodies that vanish in chaos say good-bye.
Papers that thirst for ink say good-bye.
the alphabets and poets say good-bye.
Finally the poem says good-bye.

Translated from Arabic by Samuel Hazo








                                                                           


Beautiful sunsets, so why do I concentrate on the less exciting sunrise.

In the world of poetry, there are poems and there are word-piles. This is more word-pile than  poetry, but, as a poem-a-day poet, word- piles sometime save the day. 









such magnificent sunsets

such magnificent sunsets
here, I wonder
why it is I write so often
of the start of the day
and not its fiery close...

perhaps
it is about my preference more for beginnings
than  for ends...

in the morning
as the sun rises over the city,
casting the towers downtown in the light
of  a rebirth of  hope and purpose, turning the brightest green
all the tree-filled neighborhoods between there
and my  perch high in Inspiration Hills, especially on mornings when clouds
cover the high land and an unclouded downtown
shines as if under a spotlight, all rising straight below me
as I drive from home to the corner near downtown
where I will spend  most of  the day, to my table on the corner
of Broadway and Pearl...

sunsets
by comparison
are about the end of the day, a warning of the end
of all things, a foreshadowing of the end of me,
red and orange hellfire blazing on the horizon, the beauty
of darkness  calling, fireworks before the dreadful black,  the heritage
of us all...

all of our life encompassed in the fires of beginning
and endings,  the birth and death  parameters of our lives
live through every day as we rise and fall
with the sun...

I prefer the morning promise of re-birth,  short
as are the times of its reign...









                                                              


Now, from the "This House, My Bones" section of the  anthology, a poem by Tunisian poet Al-Munsif Al-Wahaybi. Born in 1920, the poet studied Islamic philosophy and literature at the University of Tunis and has taught in both Tunis and Libya.

Can't find a photo of the poet so here's a photo of the anthology in case you're browsing in a used book store and run across it.









 In the Arab House

The deep blue of the earth
tempted me,  and I came.
It was an Arab house
dedicated by wind to eloquent silence.
I wished good night to the grasses of the garden,
then went away.

A woman awaits me
She has fixed a spear at the threshold of the tent,
completed her beauty rituals,lain down
on the sands and slept.
As I move toward in the dream,
the star of the guest will see me
and follow my steps

"Sir, oh Sir,
you who stealthily came to me in the dream,
spread out in my body -
the morning star has entered our tent
and alighted in the mirror of frothing days."

Translated from Arabic by Selma Khadra Jayyusi and Naomi Shihab Nye
                                                           







                                             




A world of change since I included this in Seven Beats a Second in 2005. But the "preacher fella" - he ain't changed at all, except he's probably  thinking  of running for president as a Republican. Oh, wait, he is running for president as a Republican












what God don't like

I was  seeing this preacher fella on TV the other day
and he was saying that God don't  like men fucking men...

I don't know how in the world he would know that,
except maybe he was talking to God
and just straight out asked him, like, hey, God,
what do you think about this men fucking men thing

I'd be afraid to do that, but maybe it's OK for preachers,
especially this particular preacher fella
since it seems like he's  pretty close to God and
like he must talk to him about all sorts of things
because he's all the time on TV
talking about what God likes and don't like
(mostly about what he don't like, from what I've seen),
not just about fucking, but about all sorts of things
God don't like, you know, treehuggers  and feminazies
and Democrats and evolutionists and poor people
and those wussy-pussy perverts who think
we ought not be killing raghead foreigners
without some kind of pretty good reason...

but mostly what I get from listening to the TV fella
is that mainly what God most often don't like
are people who aren't exactly like  that same TV fella...

so I'm thinking maybe I ought to study that fella real good
and try real hard to be as much like he is as I can

then maybe God won't don't like me too









                                                          



Time for a break from this week's anthology with this short two-part piece by my House of 30 housemate, Wayne Sheer. The two  parts were written on consecutive days for the House.




The Other Shoe

I

Elderly couple holding hands
in cardiac imaging waiting room.

They look healthy enough
considering their age.

But they wait
for the other shoe  to drop.

Others waiting, oxygen tube
firmly in nose,

Only slightly older
than the hand holders.

I squeeze her hand a little tighter
as we wait. 

II

The elderly couple,
still holding hands,

walk out of the doctor's office,
a bounce to their step.

She looks like
she's about to dance,

maybe break into song;
he's trying,

probably too hard,
to remain calm.

Although the signs  reads:
"No cellphones beyond this point,"

she taps a text
to their son.

"The other shoe
hasn't fallen."

They laugh,
still holding hands.








                                                                   



From the reaction of  some early readers, I  offer the caution that sometimes a cigar is  just a cigar. That applies to  rose bushes as  well.











a whisper of wind

a whisper of wind...

red  roses  beneath
a twin-trunked oak,
stirring slightly...

in an otherwise
dead morning,storms
coming
they say, but nothing moves now
but red roses amid a frozen-still riot
of green...

and traffic
on the interstate,pushing
against the stasis of a
heavy hanging day...

a dead-quiet morning
awaiting stormy
resurrection

red roses
stirring amid  the green

waiting...








                                                          
Back to the anthology with a poem from the section, "Bowl of Air and Shivers." The poet is Viswanatha Satyanarayana, a Telugu writer, he was born in 1895 and died in 1976. His works  include poetry, novels, dramas, short stories and speeches covering a huge range of subjects from analysis of history, philosophy, religion, sociology, psychology, linguistics, political science and  beyond to aesthetics and spiritualism.








Song of Krishna (5)

You come while I'm taking my bath.
You come when my sari  gets  wet, and I change into a dry one.
When, unnoticed, my sari falls from my shoulder - you are there.
Almost as if you  had planned it.
As if you  knew all such slippery moments.
You sit right in front of me.

Some kids are like this from the start, in the womb.
You're a true jewel among them, the eye of the peacock's feather.
Really, you're spoiled. No one disciplines you.
Everyone loves you and no one speaks to you harshly.
Any time they begin to get mad,
you do something or other and they laugh,
and everything is lost in that laughter.
For years and years, your mother longed to have
a tiny boy in her womb, and you came, so now
she  lets you do just  as you please.

What's a game for the cat is death for the mouse.
We can't even talk about these things.
We can't face them unless we give up all shame.
Sometimes I tell myself firmly,: he's only a child,
why get so stirred up? But that's how women are made.
I can't help myself. If you, young man
are the one to take away my shame,
I will take you for my  God.

When a woman is getting dressed, you should leave.
If  you happen to catch a glimpse, you  should
bite your tongue,  go away, and come back after a while.
You should ask if you can come in.
That's the proper way. It's not as if
this is your own house and I'm your wife.
Even my husband doesn't come in when I'm dressing.

Along with being so brash, you're also angry.
Don't be.
Never mind what  I said.
Come, Krishna,  eyes dark
as the lotus

Translated from Telugu by Velcheru Narayana Rao.








                                                 
Here's a last  poem  from Seven Beats a Second. It occurs to  me  as I look through the book that a lot of the poems are not  poems I would write today. In a few instances its because I'm a better writer now than I was then, but,  in too many cases, it's because I've lost the freshness  and openness of those  days. It's something I think about as I find myself so often dissatisfied with what I'm doing now.

Perhaps I've put myself in a box. Like this poem. I  wish I could figure out where it came from so I could go there  again.









the rules of silence

cold and silent as a winter  night,
a glance, sharp
like the crack of breaking ice

           sorry I'm late, I say

           shh, she says,
           I'm listening

           to  what? I ask
           I don't hear anything

           I wouldn't think you would
           she says, I  wouldn't think so

and she turns her face
to the table, to the cold perfection
of the little squares she draws,
little squares, stacked atop
little squares, pages and pages
of little squares on little squares

I think of the warm summer night,
the summer sounds of children,
laughing, plaing in the deepening dark,
laughing, playing in the summer night

             shhh, she says, I'm listening

and I listen with her








                                                                        

Last from the anthology and its last section, "The Quivering World," this poem by Sylva Gaboudikian, an Armenian poet and political activist. Born in 1919, she died  in 2006. Though  a member of the Communist Party, she was a strong advocate of Armenian nationalism. Her first  collection of poetry was published in mid-1940s. By the 1950s she had established herself as a significant literary figure in Soviet Armenia. Writing in both Armenia and Russian, she frequently addressed political and other sensitive issues during the late Soviet-era.









What  I Notice

You ignite
it, hold it
lightly,
as if to
show
something
about us
you want
me to know.
You exhale
warmth
that would
burn me,
flicking
ash,
breathing
slowly,
out of
habit,
just to
pass
time,
alleviating
boredom.
You don't
inhale
but put it
down
to forget
and fail
to finish.

smoking
only part
of each
cigarette

Translated from Armenian by Diana Der-Hovanessian.








                                                       




This poem written last Saturday, the day before Mother's Day, a fitting close to this week's post, I think.











as Mother's Day Approaches

as Mother's Day approaches
I think about a poem for my mother,
passed on now for fifteen
years

and it's always hard, so much easier
writing  about my father, so large and dominant,
he, the sun, she the moon
and thus it might seem
a lesser light...

but consider the moon
always circling, always there
but sometimes seen and sometimes not,
shifting phases and faces
through the course of a month
but never changing...

a constant
sometimes invisible in its constancy,
a reflector,
not a creator of light, easy sometimes
to misjudge its place and its
power...

but,
consider the tides...








As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me.




As always, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:
 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad)



Poetry
New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces
 



Always to the Light






Goes Around Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind





And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio




Seven Beats a Second






Short Stories


Sonyador - The Dreamer






7 Comments:
at 10:42 AM Blogger judysnwnotes said...

Allen -- another fine set, and each in its own way, spoke about life, about locating meaning.

Nice to see Wayne's "Other Shoe" poems, and really, all of yours a treasure to read again here.
- judy

at 11:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...



liked yr poems on capitalism but thot they lacked the needed focus my group has- besides i know know you are merely an existentialist libertaian (i think)

following unlikely to b published in that john ashbery is the penultimoate ny poet- it's a rigged game

recent letter to ny sent to NY Times sunday book review:
Your 5/10 interview with the poet, John Ashbery makes me wish for a researched piece on who reads his arcane, incomprehensible poetry and who buys it (besides libraries). Maybe a Clive James or William Logan could give us an enlightened review, but I have always found Ashbery’s work to be a bit of the “emperor has no clothes”. He is definitely a critic’s poet. Or for post graduates or writing seminars?
I believe I know that he is trying to “make it new”, poet Ezra Pound’s famous advice-and we can appreciate the novelty of strange juxtapositions , but after a while, I pine for meaning, in a meaningful sense.

at 11:59 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

allen's book
that i found at
the thrift store
along w
Belva Plain?

all books $2.99

Once I found a
1st edition
Charles Simic
at the assisted
Living place

and i don't even like him;
but it seemed somewhat nice.
i bot the itz cuz
i like him,
ornery as he is

at 12:39 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

I buy all my poetry books (about 300 or so now) at used or half-priced book stores. they are too expensive new. they are the only print books I buy - everything else is ebooks for my kindle

allen

at 12:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is name of dammed up creek- water looks SO inviting

liked the rock like a bear in the water- where? what name?

title shld b at beginning- i e 2.99

opening photo- such dryness- where? dryness of mars?

at 12:52 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i collect: poetry signed specific to me- have very complete Jack Gilbert collection (2 letters to me)- Rachmaninoff 1st edition scores- Eliot Porter photos (i have all his books)- 60's radical stuff- especially connected to our actions- books related to my favorite painter Wifredo Lam (many catalogues)- one painting by him- autographs fr c;assical pianists

also clooct the Itz guy's books i find at thrift stores and yard sales

at 1:27 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

photos in this post are from drive-arounds in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and possibly Arizona and Nevada.

the dammed up creek is in the hills above San Antonio. although we are in a usually dry area, there are many creeks in the hills that run full of water during wetter times of the year. some, like the one behind my house, are spring fed and have water all the time. some are named, some are not. my favorite a little northwest of san antonio is named "woman hollaring creek"

the rock in the little stream is in Colorado

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