The Answers I Have   Wednesday, July 23, 2014




I have old poems this week and new poems, and since the post is longer than usual, a more extensive look than usual at two of my favorite poets. First, Walt Whitman, my favorite of all poets and the poet from whom all American poetry since has flowed. I also take a more extensive look at 1990 Nobel Laureate, and another favorite of mine, Octavio Paz. The Whitman poems are from Leaves of Grass and the Paz poems are from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987. Neither selections are presented in any kind of chronological order.

The edition of Leaves of Grass I used (I have several, can't have too much Whitman) was published by Barnes & Noble Books in 1993. The Paz collection, a bilingual edition, was published by New Directions in 1991. The poems were translated from Spanish by Eliot Weinberger, who also edited the book.

I so liked what I did with photos this week that I used about a third more than usual, leading to the extra poems. I did some work on the photos a couple of years ago, using a process no longer available, then reprocessed for this post using another process. The combination produced some interesting results.

Here are the poem parts of the post.

Me 
the answers I have

Walt Whitman
Thou Reader
One's-Self I Sing

Me
I investigate brevity
small dreams pass unnoticed 

Octavio Paz
Nightfall
Distant Neighbor
Release

Me
animals I'd rather not meet again

Walt Whitman
Starting from Paumanok

Me
queen of denial

Octavio Paz
Concert in the Garden
One and the Same
A Where Without a Who

 Me
my bald head

Walt Whitman
from Song of Myself

Me
Fulton Street Hustlers

Octavio Paz
Sway

Me
cracking  the night wide open

Walt Whitman
from Song of Myself

Me
prelude to the afternoon of the Froot Loops

Octavio Paz
from Return

Me
puddle in the front yard

Walt Whitman
from Song of Myself

Me
where have all the comedy writers gone     

Octavio Paz
from Return

Me
wanna puck, she asks

Walt Whitman
from Song  of Myself   

Me
Jumble Tumble

Octavio Paz
Duration

Me
where's Kilroy?

Walt Whitman
 Bivouac on a Mountain Side
An Army Corps on the March
By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame  

Me
the list

Octavio  Paz
Storm 

Me
the dangers inherent in writing poems in the afternoon

Walt Whitman
Poets to Come

Me
post-it notes (July 2007)

Octavio Paz
Rotation

Me
       the disease       








                                                     




From last  week, the first in what's going  to be a  long post.













the answers I have

up  early,
before  the birds,
trees silent, no sound in the morning
but a dog a block away
moaning
at the moonless sky

and
for some reason
I think of chacalacks
calling from the brush
along the Rio Grande, their name
from their harsh morning calls,
chacalack...chacalack...chacalack

and
thinking of that sound
I  remember a path through a bamboo forest,
thick bamboo stalks reaching high
on either side, the path  leading to a sandy beach
at the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon
where the river flows
cold and fast in the shade of canyon shadows

and
visions of children
crossing
chest deep  in the racing water,
dozens, hundreds of children,
struggling, washed away
down the dark canyon, and yet
more come and come and come
and I have no way to help,
no  way to halt the flow of children
or the rapid, hungry water,
no good answer to the  plight and  peril
as desperation froths the  river's water,
knowing only,
like the dog howling for the absent moon,
that the answers I have are not
good enough








                                                                            




It makes no difference how many times I read  Walt Whitman, I feel, every time I do,  liberated and ennobled by the experience.










Thou Reader

Though reader throbbest life and pride and love the same as I,
Therefore for thee the  following chants

1880


One's-Self I Sing

One's self I sing, a simple separate person,
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say
    the Form complete is worthier far,
The Female equally with Male I sing.

Of  Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.

                                                 1867














Here are the first two old poems from 2007. Shorties.












I investigate  brevity

I've been getting
really tired
of my going
on and going
on poems
and think maybe
readers are also
so I decided I
oughta
write a short
one

this is  it


(As this paranoid little poem demonstrates, all those NSA revelations didn't tell me anything I didn't know. Kinda surprised everyone else didn't know it too.)


small dreams slip past unnoticed

don't
dream
too large
tonight

they  know
who the dreamers
are

and
they are
watching








                                          





First from my Octavio Paz special this week, several short poems.










Nightfall

What sustains it,
half-open, the clarity of nightfall,
the light let loose in the gardens?

All the branches,
conquered by the weight of birds,
lean toward the darkness.

Pure, self-absorbed moments
still gleam
on the fences.

Receiving night
the groves become
hushed fountains.

A bird falls,
the grass grows dark,
edges blur, lime is black,
the world is  less credible.


Exclamation

Stillness
              not on the branch
in the air
                Not in the air
in the moment
                       hummingbird


Distant Neighbor

Last night an ash tree
was about to tell
me something - and didn't.


Release
                for Cintio Vitier

In a rain of drums
the flute's black stalk
grew, withered, and sprouted again
Things cast off from their names
I flowed
               at my body's edge
among the unbound elements








                                                   




A memory poem from last week.












animals I'd  rather not meet again

spiders and snakes
top
that list

like the sunny summer
afternoon
running barefoot  with my cousin
down a creek in the hill
country, eight-years-old, and carefree
as such folks are, splashing,
splashing, down the limestone bedded creek,
tall green tulles on either side, leaping,
cavorting  in the shallow water,
arrested
in mid-leap
by the sight of a large cottonmouth
on a flat rock in the middle
of the creek in front
of me,
under me,
behind me, as I ran faster
and in greater and greater leaps,
trying as best I could
to fly, to soar, to never
touch the ground
again








      
                                                   




 Walt Whitman begins his journeys.












Starting From Paumanok

1
Starting from fish-shape Paumanok where I was born,
Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother,
After roaming many lands, lover of populous pavements,
Dweller in Manhattan my city, or on southern savannas,
Or a soldier camp'd or carrying my knapsack  and gun, or a miner in
    California,
Or rude in my home in Dakota's woods, my diet meat, my drink from
    the spring,
Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep recess,
Far from the clank of crowds intervals  passing rapt and happy,
Aware of the fresh free giver the flowing Missouri, aware of mighty
    Niagara,
Aware of the buffalo  herds grazing he plains, the hirsute and strong-
    breasted bull,
Of  earth, rocks, Fifth-month flowers experienced,  stars, rain,snow,
    my amaze,
Having studied the mocking-bird's tones and he flight of the moun-
    tain-hawk,
And heard at dawn  the  unrival'd one, the hermit  thrush from  the
    swamp-cedars,
Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New  World.








                                                          





Here's another from 2007.













queen of denial

I saw her
yesterday
as she got
out of her
Volvo
convertible

dark sunglasses
long platinum
blond hair
with a dark
roast  tan
that never
saw the sun
and must  have
cost a fortune
lips and nails
red like fire
engine blush
and thin
high fashion
thin another
way to  say
excruciating
famine in
Africa thin

I  said hello
but she didn't
respond
smile options
botoxed
from memory
and I imagine
the human
buried some
where within
this artifact
the pretty
little girl
with the wide
open smile
who grew
into   this
gargoyle
sacrificed to
desperation








  
                                         





 Another several from Octavio Paz.










Concert in the Garden
 (Vina and Mridangam)

for Carmen Figueroa de Meyer

It rained.
The hour is an enormous eye.
Inside it, we come and go like reflections.
The river of music
enters my blood.
If I say body, it answers wind.
If I say earth, it answers where?

the world, a double blossom, opens:
sadness of having come,
joy of being here.

I walk lost in my own center.


One and the Same
(Anton Webern, 1883-1948)

Spaces
           space
without center no above or below
devours and engenders itself and does not  cease
Whirlpool space
                            and it falls into height
Spaces
              clarities cut into jewel-points
hanging
                from night's sheerness
 black gardens of rock crystal
flowering along a bough  of smoke
white gardens that explode in air
Spaces
            a sole space that unfolds
flower-face
                    and dissolves
                                            space into space

All is nowhere
place of impalpable nuptials


A Where Without a Who

There's not
a soul among the trees
And I
don't know where I've gone









                                                 




Here's another new from last week.












my bald head

my bald head
doesn't  need  a  weatherman
to know which  way the wind blows
and today it's  blowing from the southeast,
coastal wind blowing so strong
it feels like I'm getting sand
grits embedded in my
exposed scalp

but none  of those icy-chill
winter winds
out of the northwest
yet - that's still several months
ahead...

before then,
you can be sure
I'll be putting my head
to  growing some hair again...

except for that spot
center back of my head,
which shaving the whole thing,
crown to neck, very effectively
hides -

I just have to  live with that one,
winter, spring, summer
and fall, a constant in a life
of ever rapid change...

~~~

it  is a measure of the condition of my
life
that I am  thankful
for even  such a small thing
as the consistency of
a bald spot














Whitman's mighty anthem of the community and commonality of all.











from Song  of Myself

1
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born her from parents the same, and their
    parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.







                                                               




I was proud when this poem won some kind of poetry award in 2007. But now, 7 years later, I can't remember what it was.













Fulton Street Hustlers

it's eleven
in the morning
and you can tell
the drinkers
the
down-
but-not-
outers
squinting
in the mid-
day sun
as they cross
Fulton Street
leaving their
$40-a-week
motel room
heading for
breakfast
at one of
the dozen
taco shops
in the neigh
borhood
chorizo  and
eggs with
a side off
re-fried
beans two
flour tortillas
black sludge
coffee and
six  aspirin
for  the head
that won't stop
aching  until
they get their
first beer
their  scrambled
eggs  chaser
that officially
starts the day

mostly men
careful  with
appearances
fresh shined
boots,sharp
creased jeans
and starched
long-sleeve
cowboy shirts
with fake pearl
snaps
pool shooters
dart throwers
penny tossers
pinball wizards
and hustlers of
most every kind
living on the edge
always on the edge
of losing usually
they live on alcohol
and beer nuts
cheap
meals at flytrap
eateries and
dark places where
the truth is only
what you can see
in a smoked bar
mirror, where pre-
tending is easier
than not








                                                





Again from the collected poems of Octavio Paz.











Sway

 1
You came back into the night,
a cluster of shadowy hours;
break it off, eat the fruit of darkness,
taste ignorance.

2
With the pride of a tree
standing in a whirlwind
you undress
                   moving like water
leaping from the rocks
you abandon your bodies
with the sleepwalking steps of the wind
and throwing yourself on the bed
with eyes closed
you search for your ancient nakedness

3
I fall in you with the blind fall of a wave
your body sustains me like a wave reborn
wind blows outside and gathers the waters
all of the forests are a single tree

The city sails in the middle of the night
through endless  earth and sky and seas
the elements entwine and weave
the clothes for an unknown day

4
Enormous desert and secret fountain
scale of silence and tree of screams
body that unfolds like a sail
body that enfolds like an ember
heart I tear out from the night
scorpion fixed to my chest
seal of blood on my years as a man

5
(What you say I make)

With a Yes
the lamp guides you to the door of the dream
With a No
the scale that weighs the lies and truth of desire
With an Oh
no flowering bone to cross through death

6
(Today, always today)

You speak (many rains are heard)
I don't know what you are saying (a yellow hand holds us)
You keep still (many birds are born)
I don't know where we are (a scarlet cavity encloses us)
You laugh (the legs of the river are covered with leaves)
I don't know where we're going (Tomorrow is today in the
                                                            middle of the night)

                      Today opens and closes
                       never moves and never stops
                       a heart that never flickers out
                       Today (a bird nests
                        on a tower of hail)
                        It is always noon









                                               




Super storm  one night last week, lightning hitting the ground all around the neighborhood.












cracking the night wide open

thunder
cracks wide open
the dark
with blossoms
of light,
intense and white,
shatters the wind, throws it
into swirls and twirls,
a vortex
of unruly soak-blown night








Whitman, at his best,  this-worldly, other-worldly, practical, spiritual, sensual and spartan, being all contradictory things ("I  contradict myself," he says) all at once.                                                            





from Song of Myself

5
I believe in you my soul,, the other I am must not abase itself to you,
and you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lectures, not
    even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how  once we  lay such a transparent summer morning.
How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over
    upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue
    to my bare-stript heart,
And reach'd till you felt my beard,and reach'd  till you held my feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that
    pass all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all men ever born are also my brothers, and the women
    my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worn fences, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and
    poke-weed.








   
                                          





A drive-around, July, 2007.




prelude to the afternoon  of the  Froot Loops

the clouds
were hanging  low
black
as the joke
that made the
hang-
man
laugh
but the rain  had been
sporadic and light
so we took a drive
out to Medina  Lake
for  a late lunch
Oasis Bar and Grill
right on the lake
in little Mico
so small
they didn't even
bother
to  widen the road

(thick boneless
port chops
with raspberry
chipotle sauce -
the best ever)

then scouted out
some of the  little
one and a half  lane
country roads
that run  patched
and bumpy
over rocky hills
through little
stone canyons
not sure
usually
where  we were
or where  we  were
going and
all around  
green trees
green hills
green  meadows
green valleys
green
green
green
in the hill country
in July, what
a marvelous
believe-it-or-not
thing it is to see...

finally
found our way
to Country Road 471
where we started
then to Culebra
to Grissom
Bandera
Rolling Ridge
and finally home
Froot Loops
and Law & Order
reruns








                                                          
                                                     





This poem, by Paz,  is too long to transcribe in it's entirety, but here is a section from it.





from Return

2
Empty streets, squinting lights.
                                                 On a corner,
the ghost of a dog
                              searches the garbage
for a spectral bone.
                                Uproar in a nearby patio:
cacophonous cockpit.
                                    Mexico, circa 1931.
Loitering sparrows,
                                  a flock of children
builds a nest
                      of unsold newspapers.
In the desolation
                            the streetlights invent
unreal pools of yellowish light.
                                                    Apparitions:
time splits open:
                             a lugubrious, lascivious clatter of heels,
beneath a sky of soot
                                   the flash of a skirt.
C'est la mort - ou la morte...
                                                The  indifferent wind
rips  posters form the walls.

At this hour,
                     the red sails  of San Ildefonso
are black and  they breathe:
                                             sun  turned to time,
time turned to stone,
                                   stone turned to body.
These streets were once canals. 
                                                    In the sun,
the houses were silver:
                                       city of mortar and stone,
moon fallen in the lake. 
                                       Over the filled canals
and the buried idols
                                  the criollos erected
another city
                    - not white, bur red and gold -
idea turned to space, tangible number.
                                                              They placed it
at the crossroads of eight directions,
                                                           its doors
open to the invisible:
                                   the heaven and hell.

Sleeping district.
                              We walk through galleries of echoes
past broken images:
                                 our history.
Hushed nation of stones.
                                          Churches,
dome-growths
                          their facades
petrified gardens of symbols.
                                                Shipwrecked
in the spiteful proliferation of dwarf houses:
humiliated palaces,
                                  fountains without water,
affronted frontispieces.  
                                       Cumuli,
insubstantial made pore,
                                           accumulate
over the ponderous bulks,
                                            conquered
not by the weight of the years
but the by infamy of the  present.

                                                       Zocalo Plaza,
vast as the heavens:
                                 diaphanous space,
court of echoes.
                            There
with Alyosha K and Julien S,
                                                we devised bolts of lightning
against the century and its cliques.
                                                           The wind of thought
carried us away,
                            the verbal wind,
the wind that plays with mirrors,
                                                      master of reflections,
builders of cities of air, geometries
hung from the  thread of reason.

Shut down for  the night,
                                         the yellow trolleys,
giant worms
                       S's and Z's:
crazed auto, insect with malicious eyes.
                                                                  Ideas
fruits within an arm's reach,
                                              like stars,
                                                                burning.
The girandola is burning,
                                          the adolescent dialogue,
The scorched hasty frame.
                                           The bronze fist
of the towers beats
                                12 times.
                                                Night
bursts into pieces,
                               gathers them by itself,
and becomes one, intact.
                                        We disperse,
not there in the plaza with its dead trains,
                                                                    but here,
on this page: petrified letters.








                                                




Here again, from last week.




puddle in my front yard

people to do,
places to go, work to be
worked, play to be played,
shoes to shine,
pots to polish, poems
to poet,
deep thoughts
to  be  deeply thunk,
conclusions
to  categorically conclude,
exclamations to
exclaim,
smile to joy, glee
to happy and satisfaction
to smug,
but...

puddle 
in my front yard
where there shouldn't be a
puddle...

so, waiting
for a plumber

birds in  the backyard
waiting for my regular morning
scattering 
of bread crumbs

squirrels
waiting too

dog
waiting for her  morning walk

peaches waiting
to ripen on the tree;
roses  waiting to bloom;
sun waiting to bright;
clouds waiting to scud
this way to that

the wind stalled
at mid-tree leaf wave,
the stars at mid-
blink

the whole universe sighs,
is waiting  for me, it seems
holding its collective
inter-galactic
breath
as I wait
for the goddamn plumber
to get here and
plumb

~~~

now,
while  I'm waiting,
where the heck did I leave my
credit card...









                                                                   





Whitman, the great artist, philosopher, historian and sociologist of lists.





from Song of Myself

15
The pure contralto sings in the organ loft.
The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his fore plane whistles
    its wild ascending lisp,
The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiv-
    ing dinner,
The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm,
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are
    ready,
The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,
The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar,
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel,
The farmer stops by the bars as he walks  on a First-day loafe and
    looks at the oats and  rye,
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case,
(He will never sleep an more as he did in the cot in his mother's
    bedroom;)
The jour printer with gray had and gaunt jaws works at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blur with the manu-
    script;
The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's  table,
What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
The  quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by
    the bar-room stove,
Te machinist rolls up his sleeves,  the policeman travels his beat, the
    gate-keeper marks who pass,
The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him,  though I do
    not know him;)
The half-breed straps on his light boots to complete in the race,
The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on
    their rifles, some sit on logs,
Out from  the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his
    piece;
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee,
As  the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them
    from his saddle,
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their  partners,
    the dancers bow to each other,
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret and harks to the
    musical rain,
The Wolverine sets traps on the  creek that helps fill in the  Huron,
The squaw wraps in her yellow-hemm'd cloth is offering the moccasins
    and bead-bags for sale,
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes
    bent sideways,
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for
    the shore-going passengers,
The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it
    off a ball, and stops now and then for the knots,
the one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne
    her first child,
The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine or in
    the factory or mill,
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter's lead
    flies swiftly over the note-book, the sign-painter is lettering
    with blue and gold,
The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his
    desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,
The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow
    him,
the child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions,
The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the white
    sails sparkled!)
The drover watching his drove  sings out to them that would stray,
The peddler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling
    about the odd cent;)
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock
    moves slowly,
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips,
The prostitute dragles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and
    pimpled neck,
The crowd laughs at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to
    each other,
Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;)
the President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great
    Secretaries,
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined
    arms,
The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the
    hold,
The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle,
As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the
    jingling of loose change,
The floor-men are laying the floor,  the tinners are tinning the roof,
    the masons are calling for mortar,
In single file each shouldering his hod  pass onward the laborers;
Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gather'd, it is
    the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and
    small arms!)
Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows,
    and the winter-grain falls in the ground;
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the
    frozen surface,
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep
    with his axe,
Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-
    trees,
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through
    those drain'd by the Tennessee, or through those of the
    Arkansas,
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahoochee or Altama-
    haw,
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great grandsons
    around them,
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after
    their day's sport,
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by 
    his wife,
And these tend inward to me and I tend outward to them
As such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.









                                                  





 Another from July, 2007.




where have all the comedy writers gone

I'm tired
of wars
and politicians
who couldn't find
their ass
with both
hands
even if it was
pointed out to them
with a
day-glow
red &
yellow stick
written  instructions
and explicit
illustrations

I'm tired
of  being
sad
mad
scared &
bored

I  want to laugh
instead
like I
laughed
at

Laurel
& Hardy

Abbot
& Costello

the Bowery
Boys

Billie
Wilder  movies

but the new stuff
now is
mostly about
farts
and
dicks
and isn't funny
at all

(except for
Harold
& Kumar
Go to White Castle
and
Something About Mary
which even
though mostly about
farts
dicks
were still the funniest movies
since Some Like It Hot
and ever so much better
than  thinking about
the Pricks in Charge...
PICs for  the squeamish...
who are hardly
ever funny
at all)








Paz' Return is a storm of beautiful words and images, to which only one section does not nearly do justice. So here's another section from the poem, actually, the last section.



from Return

4
Ideas scatter,
                       the ghosts remain:
truth of the lived and suffered.
An almost empty taste remains:
                                                    time
- shared  fury -
                         time
- shared oblivion -
                                 in the end transfigured
in memory and its incarnations.
                                                   What remains is
time as portioned body: language.

In the window,
                          travesties of battle:
the commercial sky of advertisements
                                                              flares up, goes out.

Behind,
              barely visible,
                                       the true constellations.
Among the water  towers, antennas, rooftops,
a liquid column,
                           more mental than corporeal,
a waterfall of silence:
                                    the moon.
                                                    Neither phantom nor idea:
once a goddess,
                           today an errant clarity.

My wife sleeps.
                            She too is a moon,
a  clarity that travels
                                  not between the reefs of the clouds,
but between the rocks and wracks of dreams:
she too is a soul.
                             She flows below her closed eyes,
a silent torrent
                          rushing down
from her  forehead to her feet,
                                                 she tumbles within,
bursts out from within,
                                     her heartbeats sculpt her,
traveling through herself
                                        she invents herself,
inventing herself
                            she copies it,
she is an arm of the sea
                                      between the islands of her breasts,
her belly a lagoon,
                               where darkness and its foliage
grown pale,
                     she flows through her shape,
rises,
          falls,
                   scatters in herself,
                                                  ties
herself to her flowing,
                                    disperses in her form:
she too is a body.
                              Truth
is he swell of a breath
and the visions closed eyes see:
the palpable mystery of the person.

The night is at the point of running over.
                                                                 It grows light.
The horizon has become aquatic.                    
                                                      To rush down
from the heights off this hour:
                                                 will dying
be a falling or a rising,
                                      I hear in my skull
the footsteps of my blood,
                                          I hear
time pass through my temples.
                                                 I am still alive.
the room is covered with moon.
                                                    Woman:
fountain in the night.
                                  I am bound to her quiet flowing.










                                                     





Another memory poem, remembering nearly 50 years ago last week.





wanna puck, she asks

a bar
in San Angelo...

pretty waitress,
long blond hair, well-shaped ass
tucked tight
into cut-short jeans

grabs 
the round metal puck
from the bowling game I'm playing

squeezes it into her back pocket

wanna puck? she asks

her boyfriend in the corner,
watching, big
sumbitch...

I switch to
darts
drink my beer...

alone








  




 Here's more from Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, the inventor and godfather of modern American poetry.                                                                         




from Song of Myself

24
Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from
    them,
No more modest than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the door
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

Whoever degrades another degrades me,
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the cur-
    rent and index.

I speak the pass-word primeval,, I give the sign of democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart
    of on the same terms.

Through me many long dumb voices,
Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves,
Voices of the diseas'd and despairing and the thieves and dwarfs,
Voices of the cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the
    father-stuff,
And of heights of them the others are down upon.
Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish,despised,
Fog in the air, beetles roiling balls of dung.

Through the forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me  clarified and tarnsfigur'd.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
I keep as  delicate around the bowels as around  the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to  me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing,  hearing, feeling ,  are miracles of each part and  tag of me is
    a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am
    touch'd from,
the scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.

If I worship one thing more than anther it shall be the spread of my
    own body, or any part of it,
Translucent mould of me it shall  be you!
Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you!
Firm masculine colter it shall be you!
Whatever goes to the tilth off me it shall be you!
You my rich blood! your milky white stream pale strippings of my life!
Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you!
My brain it shall be your occult convolutions!
Root of wash'd sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded
    duplicate eggs! it shall be you!
Mixed tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it  shall be you!
Trickling sap of maple, fiber of manly wheat, it shall be you!
Sun so generous it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be  you!
You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals  rub against me it shall be you!
Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my
    winding paths, it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face  I have kiss'd =, mortal  I have ever touch'd it
    shall be you.

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious,
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,
I cannot tell how my ankles end,nor  whence the cause of my
    faintest wish,
Nor the cause off the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friendship
    I take again.

That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be,
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics
    of books.

To behold the day-break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows,
The air tastes good to my palate.

Hefts of te moving world at innocent gambols silently rising, freshly
    exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.

Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs,
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

The earth by the sky staid, the daily close of their junction,
The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over my head,
the mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be the master!







                                                   




If I could think of another way to say, here's another from 2007, I would, but since I  can't, here's another from 2007 (July)












jumble tumble

tiny girl
in big  pink
glasses
follows dad
down the sidewalk
in a jumble
tumble trot

barely keeping
up barely
staying up

just learned
to walk
wants
to run now
in her own
jumble
tumble way








                                                                  





 Another from Octavio Paz.












Duration

"Thunder and wind:  duration."
                                   I Ching

I

Sky black
                Yellow earth
The rooster tears the night apart
The water wakes and asks what time it is
The wind wakes and asks for you
The white horse goes by

II

As the forest in its bed of leaves
you sleep in your bed of rain
you sing in your bed of wind
you kiss in your bed of sparks

III

Multiple vehement odor
many-handed body
On an invisible stem a single
whiteness

IV

Speak listen answer me
what the thunderclap
says, the woods
understand

V

I enter by your eyes
you come forth by my mouth
You sleep in my blood
I waken in your head

VI

I will speak to you in stone-language
(answer with a green syllable)
I will speak to you in snow-language
(answer with a fan of bees)
I will speak to you in water-language
(answer  with a canoe  of lightning)
I will speak to you in blood-language
(answer with a tower of birds)








                                                



I  saw this very early in the morning one day last week, leading to thoughts about our less than stirring times.












where's Kilroy?

round
fat moon
peers
over a long bank of clouds
like Kilroy over
a marshmallow fence

as the veterans
of his days pass on ,
he survives, symbol
of the confidence
of a rising tide

while the Kilroy
of our day huddles
weeping behind the fence,
tweeting
moment by moment
his descent into the panics of our
time


Kilro
y
just not what he used to be








                                                                           




Whitman traveled with the Union armies during the war, serving as a nurse. Here are three poems from that experience.










Bivouac on a Mountain Side

I see before me now a traveling army halting,
Below a fertile valley spread, with barns and the orchards of summer,
Behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt, in places rising high,
Broken, with rocks, with clinging cedars, with tall  shapes dingily
    seen,
The numerous camp-fires scatter'd near and far, some way up on the
    mountain.
The shadowy forms of men and horses, looming, large-sized, flicker-
    ing,
And over all the sky - the sky! far, far out of reach, studded,  breaking
    out, the eternal stars.

1865


An Army Corps on the March

With its cloud of skirmishers in advance,
With now the sound of a single shot snapping like a whip, and now
    an irregular volley,
The swarming ranks press on and on, the dense brigades press on,
glittering dimly, toiling under the sun - the dust-cover'd men,
In columns rise and fall to the undulations of the ground,
With artillery interspers'd - the wheels rumble, the horses sweat,
As the army corps advances.

1865-6


By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame

By the bivouac's fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and slow - but
    first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields' and woods' dim outline,
the darkness lit by spots of kindled fire, the silence,
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving,
The shrubs and trees, (as I lift my eyes  they seem to  be stealthily
    watching me,)
While wind  in procession thoughts, O tender and wondrous thoughts,
Of life and death, of home and the past and loved, and of those that
    are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the ground,
By the bivouac's fitful flame.

1865






                                    






2007, the war going as  deadly as it ever had before or  since. Every day, a new list of the newly dead.












the list

this is what
I know

he was
a child of
new york
not yet
of  an age
to  vote
barely
of an age
to shave
dead
in that
foreign
bloody
place from
the blast
of a road
side bomb

this is what
I believe

his name
is seared
on a list
to be read
with honor
when
the day of
accounting
comes
to those who
wasted
his life

and
for  the
first time
in my life
I  truly do
hope
there is
a hell









                                                                        





Octavio Paz, from the same period as the last poem.













Storm

On the  black mountain
the downpour raves out loud
At this same moment
you are walking through the cliffs
of your sleeping body
the wind battles  in the dark with your dreams
a green and white tangle
girl oak and millennium oak
the wind uproots and razes and drags you along
it opens your thoughts and scatters them
your eyes a whirlwind
whirlwind and void
the wind squeezes you like grapes
storm on your forehead
storm on your belly and on your nape
Like a dry branch
the wind winnows you
the downpour comes into your dreams
green hands and black feet
wheeling around the stone
throat of the night
tying your body
a sleeping mountain
The downpour raves
between your thighs
soliloquy of stones and water
through the cliffs
of your forehead
it runs like a river of birds
The forest turns its head
like a wounded bull
the forest kneels
beneath the wing of he wind
louder each time
the downpour raves
deeper each time
in your sleeping body
each time more  intensely night








                                       
WiFi down at my morning breakfast haunt, and, with other things going on, I was unable to write my morning poem until the afternoon. The WiFi problem has occurred several days since, and the new manager doesn't seem to understand that, while the food is nice, it's secondary. I'm there to work during the early hours when my brain is firing on all sixteen cylinders. And dead time without WiFi and the ability to work does not make me happy, to the point that I left without ordering anything this morning. I may have to find a new favorite place to eat breakfast (and work).








the dangers inherent in writing poetry in the afternoon

semi-bright
day
WiFi at the coffeehouse
crashed

leaving
dead time for me
with ten thousand things
(at least)
I want to do

I hate dead time,
it reminding me too much of
dead me,
when all the little fizzlebillets
that connect
this little brain bit
to that little brain bit
goes on the
fritz
and I'm stuck
candidate for a career
in any one or more of the zombie movies
which seem to multiply
like gruesome little bunnies
turning my best parts
into corned beef hash,
which,,
I don't know about you
seems really disgusting
to me
and I'm thinking
that instead of allowing my fizzlebillets
to turn into corned beef
hash
I should maybe try some mental exercises
but I get stuck at 6 times 6
so it may be already
too late..








 
                                                                   




Last this week from Walt Whitman.











Poets to Come

Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood,  native, athletic, continental, greater than be-
    fore known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the dark-
    ness.

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
    casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main thing from you.

1860









                                           




From 2007, some poems I called "post-it notes.














post-it notes (july 2007)

small dogs
nip
at heels
with  tiny
yips
&
yaps
and sharp
little teeth
white shinning

****

pitty pat
pitty
pat
little baby
footprints
fresh from
the bath

****

this is like
a note
i  would pass
when i was
fifteen
in fits of
appreciated
angst

****

i love
you
in little
yellow
flashes of
sticky note
passion

****

crowd murmurs
in a large room
hundreds
of stories
shattered
into  random
word pieces

****

if you find this
know
i was
thinking
of you
way back
when








                                        






And there's the last for the week by Octavio Paz.











Rotation

Tall column of pulse beats
on the unmoving axis of time
the sun dresses and undresses you
the day shakes loose from your body
and is lost in your night

The night shakes loose from your day
and is lost in your body
You are never the same
you have always just arrived
you have been here since the beginning








                                                  




 Fighting, again, and forever, history revisited over and over again.












the disease

events in the mid-east
reminding me
of our own recent history

when old men and academics
and rabble-rousing politicians
pushed us into wars

they would never fight, American
warlords who never fought
a war of their own

but eager for wars
for others to fight, determined
to show the flag

eager
always to fight
to the last someone else...

now disgraced
and driven from power
they continue their war-mongering

as if they believe
memory and history
do not exist,  as if we

like the, suffer from
the disease
of their own  unshakable  war-fevers









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