No Rain, But At Least We Got Clouds   Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It will rain someday. Until then, stay green with "Here and Now" number I.ix

More lessons from Lu Ji

First, two more poems from our continuing series of lessons taken from The Art of Writing by Lu Ji (261-303A.D.), translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping.

4. The Joy of Words

Writing is joy
so saints and scholars will pursue it.
A writer makes new life in the void,
knocks on silence to make a sound,
binds space and time on a sheet of silk
and pours out a river from an inch-sized heart.
As words give birth to words
and thoughts arouse deeper thoughts,
they smell like flowers giving off scent,
spread like green leaves in spring,
a long wind comes, whirls into a tornado of ideas,
and clouds rise from the writing brush forest.

5. The Riding Crop

Sometimes your writing is a lush web of fine thoughts
that undercut each other and muffle the theme:
when you reach the pole there's nowhere else to go;
more becomes less if you try to craft what's made.
A powerful phrase at the crucial point
will whip the writing like a horse and make it gallop;
though all the other words are in place
they wait for the crop to run a good race.
A whip is always more help than harm;
stop revising when you;ve got it right.

It was a dark and stormy night- poetry from the mean streets

Here are some gems from Mickey Spillane, quoted from the New York Times a couple of Sundays ago. Spillane who was 88 years old when he died a couple of weeks ago. He called himself a "money writer" who wrote when he needed money. He must of needed a lot of money because, over the 50 or so years he published, he sold millions of copies of his books all around the world. Usually derided as an writer, his work was vivid and (let me whisper this) often poetic in it's presentation of mood and character and action. Parodied often, sometimes by himself, he was, at his best, a unique writer for a particular time.

From Kiss Me Deadly, 1952

It was Monday again, a rainy, dreary Monday that was a huge wet muffler draped over the land. I watched it through the window and felt the taste of it in my mouth.

From The Big Kill, 1951

Something had gentled the rain, taking the madness out of it.

From Kiss Me Deadly

There was nothing slim about her. Maybe a sleekness like a well-fed, muscular cat, an athletic squareness to her shoulders, a sensual curve to her hips, an antagonizing play of motion across her stomach that seemed unconsciously deliberate.

From The Killing Man, 1989

This one had crazy electric blue eyes that could smile, as well as a full-lipped mouth, and when she said "Good morning." it was like being licked by a soft, satin-furred llama.

From My Gun is Quick, 1959

Usually they're sallow-faced punks with sharp pointed faces and wise eyes that shift nervously, and they keep toying with the change in their pockets or a key ring hooked to high-pleated pants as they talk of out the corner of their mouths.

From The Killing Man

You would want to kiss the lusciousness of those full lips until the thought occurred that it might be like putting your tongue on a cold sled runner and never being able to get it off.

From The Snake, 1964

It was a soft, teasing, tasting kiss, as if she were sampling the juice from a plum before buying the lot.

Finally, from The Body Lovers, 1967

Silence has a funny sound.

Guest Blogger Allyn "Porphyry" Garavaglia

Allyn Garavaglia is a poet, novelist, short story writer, cartoonist, artist, song writer and I'm afraid to guess what else. After reading my solicitation for guest bloggers, he sent some funny poetry centered around two characters named Red and Mabel and an art piece. I expect to use the art and at least some of the poetry sometime in the future.

In the meantime, in response to my request for a short introduction to himself, he sent the funniest piece of road-trip prose I've read in a while.

Here it is.

You can call me Po.

4 out of 5 psycho-anal-lysts think I am a nut, but I think 4 out of 5 of them are quacks (if we simply must revert to name-calling.) The 5th and I sat on the front porch and drank some cranked up lemonade (vodka is one helluva crank actually)- and with enough fresh-fuel coursing through our blood-streams, we decided to go off and search for WMDs ourselves. (Neither of us were quite convinced that they existed, but it did give our idle (and ever so indelicately cranked) little minds something to think about. (All the others wanted to talk about my mother. I kept trying to tell them that she was married, and no matter what kind of kinkoid fantasies they had rolling- she just wasn't like that. I'm always a tad leery about brothers who see dicks all over the place anyways- Not exactly the land of milk & honey as far as us heteros go, but that's besides the point.)

At any rate, thusly turned- Brother Brain-Squeezer and I went out looking for WMDs- Something like a drunken safari, or another Indiana Jones sequel. We had gotten as far as Cleveland before we had to hit another bar- I thought I had seen Drew Carey. After a few more, he thought he had seen Elvis- So we stopped by the most convenient of the convenience stores we could find at 1 a.m. and bought one of those disposable cameras. We had also thought this might come in handy in our own dark little version of a Grail-quest; in that we had both come to the conclusion that we were both a part of the masses that didn't want to be destructed. So we decided long before hand that we wouldn't touch one if we found one, and had arrived at the pretty much the same conclusion if we ended up finding Elvis first-Which gave us just enough time to stop in for last-call.

Thus, our saga continued- And we headed east. There was some debate as to where the middle of the east was, on account that if you head too far east, you end up in the west. We debated the logistics on a street-corner in DC, primarily because neither of us were quite prepared for a 3000 mile swim, we had left our swimming trunks at home. Once we both agreed that the other must be right, then we argued the other's finer points in this debate. Having come to a quandary to which while both of us might budge on our opinions; we would only end up switching hats and never end up meeting in the middle- And this might have went on forever if he hadn't come to the conclusion that neither of us really knew anything about the Mideast- But we did know quite a bit about the midwest, where, we both thought, would be the ideal place to hide WMDs if one truly wished they wouldn't be found (Not to mention the fact that it was much closer to home; and in the event that our searches came up fruitless- We could always go back home and get our swimsuits.)

I think that he was more interested in finding Elvis, in as he demanded that we make a stop into Graceland, and made me use up one of our pictures to get one of him standing beside the front gate- Otherwise, he sulked. He was a fairly competent sort of sulker, one of those things that his X-number of years in college and studying bio-psychology had left him all too well prepared. (I think they offer doctorates in whining too, to which I am very glad to add he had never studied in any depth- but perhaps that was another of his minors, as he did let out a few listless sort of sighs before I finally caved.) I prefer sulkers myself, as they are quieter- And if you close your eyes, you'd never even realize they are even there ...

Where we thought we had actually ran into Elvis at one point, but he didn't pass our ultimate test- Which was to ask any would be contenders and impersonators just what "Hunka-hunka Burning Love" meant. I don't think you'd really want to hear about some of the explanations we got to our queries- Save that the Doc ended up handing out his card quite a bit, and letting them know when his office hours were. But thus, having failed in our searched for the ever elusive Elvis, we plodded onwards.

I'd like to tell you there was a happy ending to this tale- That we had found those damn WMDs, and hence; kept the world safe for democracy and all that, or at least got some fairly decent photos of some Elvis tracks. We did find a rhinestone or two, a greasy comb with dark hairs curled in the tines. We thought we had found the WMDs in Kansas, and were just about to climb over the fence when two MPs came up and threatened to arrest us if "we tried that stunt again." I told him I once use to climb fences all the time, and while the barbed wire did indeed make it a little tricky- It was hardly a stunt. (Well okay, it did take a wee bit of finesse to not snag one's more personal items & anatomy in the process, but it was hardly like jumping Snake River Canyon or anything that might require rocket-motorcycles- and hopefully not a call to 911, should the initial attempt become an utter failure.

But I was confident and, almost, cocky about it. (No pun intended.) The Doc even gave them his "professional opinion," that knowing me as he had come to know me- I would undoubtedly survive any attempted fence-hopping with, at worst, only minor injuries to my pride- To which, it appeared to him, I had no real & practical use for anyways.

This didn't seem to deter them muchly, and I had thought that perhaps if I had offered to go out and buy a "cup," that these protectors & defenders of the testes would loosen up on their "defense of the realm"- so to speak.

They didn't.

It was on our way back home that my fellow psycho-anal-lyst and companion had come upon the groundbreaking discovery that it wasn't my testicles that they were worried about- That they might even be much alleviated by the notion that I mightn't be able to reproduce. That in the grand scheme of things, my testes were little more than a mild annoyance (To which I related my tale of the first time I rode a ten-speed bike way before I had grown into one, and that hardly seemed "mild" to me- But, yet again, he went slinging that "professional opinion" of his into part hitherto unknown, and I told him that I seriously doubted there were any classes on the psychology impact of my genitalia- to which I received a rather dubious gaze in response. This frightened me a little, as I started to envision Men in Black "inquiring," and making up a whole slue of alien horror stories about what those dirty little aliens had done to me- And I had come across my own discovery ...

This compatriot of mine, to whom I had shared a bottle and more than a fair amount of time, was a closet Freudian! And only after a six day binger did those Freudian tendencies start to dribble out like faucet with a slow leak. Yes my friends, I was shocked and appalled as well- Indignant and intoxicated, but it was also a catharsis of sorts. For we had both discovered it at about the same time, that terrible & horrible "thing" that he had kept repressed all of these years- his superego vying against the id for control of the ego-primus. How many times he had lied to himself and referred to himself as a humanist psychiatrist- what lies we tell ourselves just to get through our days with some decorum of self-respect ...

About that time, a guy who looked a lot like Elvis came into the bar and ordered a Shirley Temple. We didn't even bother asking our questions, the Doc just handed him a card and we moved on.

We both went our separate ways after that. I still think of him sometimes (when I am really, really drunk- especially when Elvis is playing- which is to say I really don't think about him that often, but that is beside the point.), and I really hope and pray that he discovers that being Freudian can be a good thing. It's a hard life, but I wish him well with it...

Do you really want any more introduction? I mean, this thing is already unconscionably long, with no point nor grand revelations to it than .... Well, best not go there.

The much shorter version of this is that you can call me Po, and if not already all too apparent- I like to write.

Nothing else really needs be said.

One of my own*

cowboys and indians

redskins on the warpath
chasing cowboys
bonyback ridge
sidewinder trail
that same big
saguaro cactus

there it is again--

war bonnets streaming
cowboy hats flapping
in the wind
shooting forward
shooting back
horses falling
it fun
to be a movie star

* From Seven Beats a Second, Poetry by Allen Itz and Art by Vincent Martinez

And a Bukowski to close the store

After months of drought, I am obsessed by rain.

help wanted and received

I'm stale sitting here
at this typewriter, the door open on my
little balcony when suddenly there is a roar in the sky,
Bruckner shouts back from
the radio and then the rain comes down glorious and violent,
and I realize that
it's good that the world can explode this way
because now
I am renewed, listening and watching as
droplets of rain splash on my my wristwatch
the torrent of rain clears my brain and my
a long line of blue lightening splits
the night sky.
I smile inside, remembering that
someone once said, "I'd rather be lucky than good." and I quickly
think, "I'd rather be lucky and good"
as tonight
as Bruckner sets the tone
as the hard rain continues to fall
as another blue streak of lightening
explodes in the sky
I'm grateful that for the moment I'm

So, back into the hills until next week, when our guest blogger will be a young poet and photographer from Florida. I'll be presenting samples of both her arts. You will like what she does.

Photos by Allen Itz

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