BOOGA BOOGA!!!   Monday, October 30, 2006




Halloween's in the air, or does that smell have to do with all the sweaty little kids at my front door.

Remember, it's cute.

Or, you could just turn out the porch light.

Welcome to "Here and Now" number I.xx.






for Darren McGavin


I wrote this piece when Darren McGavin died. It was never published.


an evening with Mr. Kolchak

soft shadows

a window,
half open
to curtains
stirring
in steamy
summer breeze

inside, secrets,
hidden things
waiting for the dark
when clouds cover
moonlight

and pale shadows
turn thick
and haunting







Cordelia Candelaria

A New Mexico native, Cordelia Candelaria is a scholar, teacher critic, and author who has been a leading advocate and mentor for Chicana literature. Her publications include a collection of poetry, Ojo de la Cueva/Cave Springs published by Maize Press in 1984 and two critical books published by Greenwood Press, Chicano Poetry, A Critical Introduction and Seeking the Perfect Game: Baseball in American Literature. She is presently chair of the department of Chicana and Chicano studies at Arizona State University.

I enjoyed this poem from the book From Totem to Hip-Hop, edited by Ishmael Reed.


Killers

The paper's merciless in reminding us
who shares the planet with our averageness.
They frighten and fascinate.
We have to read their stories.
We have to keep them in front of us
assaulting someone else, tearing her lingerie
to newsprint shreds, shooting his left ventricle
precisely. You wonder what they do. How
they live their lives. Up early? Late?
Flowered sheets? Jam on their toast?
When it rains like tonight, heavy and cold
do they sit cozy somewhere
reading poems or writing them or plotting how
to kill you couplets of murder, cups of rum
in front of a snug fire somewhere
warming toes, making small talk, marking time.







Pretend you're fourteen again, only not as bored by poetry as you were then.


Everyone who attended school in the Unites States read this poem once, usually when they were about fourteen years old. Few ever read it again. So here it is, a gift, the day before Halloween.


The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you" - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quote the raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow will he leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never-nevermore.'"

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quote the raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!"
Quote the raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?"
Quote the raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked upstarting -
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quote the raven, "Nevermore."

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!







On obsession, from Seven Beats a Second


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

     shhh, 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, playing in the deepening dark,
laughing, playing in the summer night

     shhh, she says, I'm listening

and I listen with her







A recipe Rachael Ray hasn't tried yet (but she will, as soon as she can knock a few minutes off prep time)


WITCH 1 .
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

WITCH 2.
Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd.

WITCH 3.
Harpier cries:'tis time! 'tis time!

WITCH 1.
Round about the caldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first in the charmed pot!

ALL.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

WITCH 2.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

WITCH 3.
Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches' mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg'd in the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.

ALL.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

WITCH 2.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.







Stephen King, eat your heart out


From the Book of Revelations, Chapter 8, Verse 1 to Chapter 9, Verse 12.


When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

Another angel came and stood over the altar, having a golden censer. Much incense was given to him, that he should add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.

The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.

The angel took the censer, and he filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it on the earth. There followed thunders, sounds, lightnings, and an earthquake.

The seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

The first sounded, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. One third of the earth was burnt up, and one third of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

The second angel sounded, and something like a great burning mountain was thrown into the sea. One third of the sea became blood,

and one third of the living creatures which were in the sea died. One third of the ships were destroyed.

The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from the sky, burning like a torch, and it fell on one third of the rivers, and on the springs of the waters.

The name of the star is called "Wormwood." One third of the waters became wormwood. Many people died from the waters, because they were made bitter.

The fourth angel sounded, and one third of the sun was struck, and one third of the moon, and one third of the stars; so that one third of them would be darkened, and the day wouldn't shine for one third of it, and the night in the same way.

I saw, and I heard an eagle, flying in mid heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe! Woe! Woe for those who dwell on the earth, because of the other voices of the trumpets of the three angels, who are yet to sound!"

The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him.

He opened the pit of the abyss, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke from a burning furnace. The sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke from the pit.

Then out of the smoke came forth locusts on the earth, and power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

They were told that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those people who don't have God's seal on their foreheads.

They were given power not to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a person.

In those days people will seek death, and will in no way find it. They will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

The shapes of the locusts were like horses prepared for war. On their heads were something like golden crowns, and their faces were like people's faces.

They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like those of lions.

They had breastplates, like breastplates of iron. The sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, or of many horses rushing to war.

They have tails like those of scorpions, and stings. In their tails they have power to harm men for five months.

They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is "Abaddon," but in Greek, he has the name "Apollyon."

The first woe is past. Behold, there are still two woes coming after this.




Jeez, that'd take the glow off a day.


Here's joke to make up for it. I was looking for a Halloween joke, which this is not, but rigidity in old age is a sign of decline so I'm using it anyway.


Bush Plans WW III

A guy walks in and asks the bartender, "Isn't that Bush and Powell sitting over there?" The bartender says, "Yep, that's them." So the guy walks over and says, "Wow, this is a real honor. What are you guys doing in here?"

Bush says, "We're planning WW III." And the guy says, "Really? What's going to happen?"

Bush says, "Well, we're going to kill 140 million Iraqis this time and one bicycle repairman."

The guy exclaimed, "A bicycle repairman!!! Why kill a bicycle repairman?"

Bush turns to Powell, punches him on the shoulder and says, "See, dummy! I told you no one would worry about the 140 million Iraqis!"






It was a graveyard smash


Some of us were around and listening to pop radio in 1962, so we heard this when it was new. But that doesn't matter. If you’ve listened to commercial radio on any Halloween in the 44 years since, you've heard it too.

The big surprise for me is that the performer is not Boris Karloff, but Bobbie "Boris" Pickett who was also the writer of the piece.


The Monster Mash

I was working in the lab late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash

From my laboratory in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes

They did the mash
They did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
They did the mash
It caught on in a flash
They did the mash
They did the monster mash

The zombies were having fun
They party had just begun
The guests included Wolf Man
Dracula and his son

The scene was rocking, all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group "The Crypt-Kicker Five"

They played the mash
They played the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
They played the mash
It caught on in a flash
They played the mash
They played the monster mash

Out from his coffin Drac's voice did ring
Seems he's troubled by just one thing
He opened the lid and shook his fist
And said "Whatever happened to the Transylvania Twist?"

It's now the mash
It's now the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
It's now the mash
It's now the monster mash

Now everything's cool, Drac's a part of the band
And my monster mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to the door, tell them Boris sent you

Then you can mash
Then you can monster mash
The monster mash
And do my graveyard smash
Then you can mash
You'll catch on in a flash
Then you can mash
Then you can monster mash







From Seven Beats a Second


Another form of obsession.


buggin' out

I can hear them
walking in my head

          shushhh
          shushhh

like they're wearing
little velvet slippers
on their little buggy feet

          shushhh
          shushhhhhhh

I can hear them
sneaking
through my brain

          shushhh
          shushhh

on little buggy
tippietoes...





"untitled" by Vincent Martinez (enamel on washing machine scrap)



An anonymous Akkadian poem from about 2000 B.C.


There are several reasons for taking the year 2350 as a turning point in the history of Mesopotamia. For the first time, an empire arose on Mesopotamian soil. The driving force of that empire was the Akkadians, named after the city of Akkad, which Sargon (the Akkadian's first King, who ruled for 56 years) chose for his capital. The name Akkad became synonymous with a population group that stood side by side with the Sumerians. Southern Mesopotamia became known as the "land of Sumer and Akkad"; Akkadian became the name of a language, while its arts rose to new heights. However, even this turning point was not the first time the Akkadians had emerged in history. Semites [whether Akkadians or a Semitic language group that had settled before them] may have had a part in the urbanization that took place at the end of the 4th millennium. The earliest Akkadian names and words occur in written sources of the 27th century. In Mari the Akkadian language was probably written from the very beginning. The founders of the dynasty of Akkad were presumably members of a people who had been familiar for centuries with Mesopotamian culture in all its forms.

Mesopotamian mythology is the collective name given to Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian mythologies from the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The Sumerians practiced a polytheistic religion, with anthropomorphic gods or goddesses representing forces or presences in the world, much as in the later Greek mythology. The gods originally created humans as servants for themselves but freed them when they became too much to handle.

Many stories in Sumerian religion appear homologous to stories in other middle-eastern religions. For example, the Biblical account of the creation of man as well as Noah's flood narrative resemble the Sumerian tales very closely though fragments of the Sumerian myths were written many centuries earlier than the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Bible. Gods and goddesses from Sumer have distinctly similar representations in the religions of the Akkadians, Caananites, and others. A number of related stories and deities have Greek parallels as well.

So far as I can determine from what I've read, the "Seven" spoken of in the poem refers to the seven judges of hell.

Over millennia after millennia, it seems that human kind must constantly invent new gods, each bloodier and even more vicious than the ones that came before.


The Seven

They are 7 in number, just 7
In the terrible depths they are 7
Bow down, in the sky they are 7

In the terrible depths, the dark houses
They swell, they grow tall
They are neither female nor male
they are a silence heavy with seastorms
They bear off no women their loins are empty of children
They are strangers to pity, compassion is far from them
They are deaf to men's prayers, entreaties can't reach them
They are horses that grow to great size that feed on mountains
They are the enemies of our friends
They feed on the gods
They tear up the highways they spread over the roads
They are the faces of evil they are the faces of evil
They are 7 they are 7 they are 7 times 7
In the name of heaven let them be torn from our sight
In the name of the Earth let them be torn from our sight


(Translated by Jerome Rothenberry)






Five little pumpkins


No matter it's violent, bloody beginnings, Halloween today is a game for kids. Somebody, no doubt, has earned their Ph.D. on the question of why it seems to be our nature to take our darkest fears and turn them into games and riddles for children.

Whatever.

Putting aside ghastliness of Revelations and the 7 judges from hell, I close with a poem my son learned in pre-school.


5 Little Pumpkins

5 Little Pumpkins
5 little pumpkins sitting on the fence
The first one said I'm so immense
The second one said there are witches in the air
The third one said I don't care
The fourth one said lets run and run and run
The fifth one said lets have some fun
Whoooohh went the wind and out went the light
And the five little pumpkins ran out of sight.



I've been feeling poorly for a couple of weeks now, like one of the pumpkins two or three weeks after Halloween. saggy, squishy and smelling overripe.

But, as much as I want to take drugs and go to bed right now, first, I want to remind everyone in the USA that November 7 is election day.

I'll be voting the straight Democratic ticket. I didn't used to do that, but with all that's happened, doing otherwise feels to me like I would be joining up with the "evil-doers."

I'm optimistic about the outcome of the election, optimism, that is, leavened with a large portion of concern. After all, the Democrats have not had a president in six years, despite winning the last two presidential elections, so it's hard to be optimistic about Democratic fortunes without reservation.

Speaking of horror shows, think about that for a while. Another Florida or Ohio, spread out over twenty of so states.

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Day Slips In Through Morning Mists   Monday, October 23, 2006



Welcome to "Here and Now" number I.xix.






Native American poetry

I found these four poems, all from the 19th century, three by unknown creators and a fourth by a named poet/storyteller about whom information is limited.


Cora

The Cora are an indigenous ethnic group of Western Central Mexico that live in the Sierra de Nayarit and in La Mesa de Nayar in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Nayarit. They call themselves naayarite and this is the ethnonym that have given name to the present day state of Nayarit. The Cora currently number around 16,000 people.

The Cora were displaced from their original habitats during the violent Spanish incursions under the conquistador Nuno de Guzman and now live in a considerably smaller area than they originally did.


The Eagle Above Us

In the sky the eagle, there is his place, there far above us.
Now he appears there.
He holds his world fast in his talons.
The world has put on a gray dress, a beautiful, living, watery dress of clouds
There he is, far above us in the middle of the sky.
There he waits for the words of Tetewan.
Shining, he looks down on his world.
He looks far into the west.
Shining, he looks upon the water of life.
His countenance is full of terrible disaster.
His eye is glorious.
His feet are already dark-red.

There he is, far above us in the middle of the sky.
There he remembers those who live here on earth.
He spreads his wings over them.
Under his spread wings the gods rain, under them the dew falls.
Beautiful dew of life appears here on earth.

Here he speaks above us.
Here below men hear it, beautiful are the words that are heard here below.
There the Mother hears him.
She too speaks:Tetewan's words are heard here above.
Here they meet the words of the eagle, here they both come together.
We hear them already mingled together.

The eagle's words fade away over the far water of life.
There the Mother's words blew away.
There they die away in the middle of the sky.
There very far off they die away.


(Translated by Willard Trask)


Chippewa


The Ojibwa, Aanishanabe or Chippewa are the third largest group of Native Americans in the USA, surpassed only by Cherokee and Navajo. They are known for their Birch bark canoes, birch bark scrolls, the use of cowrie shells, and wild rice, and for the fact that they were the only Native Americans to defeat the Sioux.


Sometimes I Go About Pitying Myself

Sometimes I go about pitying myself
and all the time
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.


(Translated by Robert Bly)






Inuit

For many centuries, outsiders called Inuit "Eskimos." Inuit no longer find this term acceptable. They prefer the name by which they have always known themselves - Inuit, which means "the people" in their own language, Inuktitut.

Inuit inhabit vast areas of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, the coast of northern Labrador and about 25 percent of Northern Quebec. Traditionally, they have lived above the tree line in the area bordered by Alaska in the west, the Labrador coast in the east, the southern tip of Hudson Bay in the south and the High Arctic Islands in the north.

Inuit origins date back at least 4,000 years. Their culture is deeply rooted in the vast land they inhabit. For thousands of years, Inuit closely observed the climate, landscapes, seascapes and ecological systems of their vast homeland. Through this intimate knowledge of the land and its life forms, Inuit developed skills and technology uniquely adapted to one of the harshest and most demanding environments on earth.


Mother's Song

it's quiet in the house so quiet
outside the snowstorm wails
the dogs curl up noses under their tails
my little son sleeps on his back
his mouth open
his belly rises and falls
breathing
is it strange if I cry for joy



Tuglik

I can find no direct information on Tuglik. From indirect references, it appears he/she was a poet/storyteller of the Inuits. Whoever/whatever he/she was, this description of the joy of a successful hunt is evocative and beautiful.


Tuglik's Song

put on all the bracelets beads rings
we own for this
we're only girls
huddled together
in hard times without food
bellies shrunken
dishes empty
but suddenly
we feel lovely
our skin boats float through the air
the ropes fly too
the earth's
loose in the air
look way out there
see it
the men drag beautiful seals home
there's plenty again
remember
the smell of the boiling pots
slabs of blubber slapped down by the side bench
feast days keep us together
hug them kiss them
they bring us so much


(Last two poems translated by Stephen Berg)






Here's one from me, so new I haven't even workshopped it yet

Not being a sportsman myself (except was pretty good in tennis seventy pounds and forty years ago), I don't normally resort to sports metaphors. But this one seemed to work for me. I'm sure some of my sportish friends will tell me if it doesn't.


and the crowd cheers

the season change
blows in strong
from the north
like a pass rush
on fourth and goal,
like a quarterback
with receivers covered
facing the brute tide
and pushing back
leaping
for the goal line
with no time
on the clock
and no stop
in his heart
and the day
is won
and the crowd
cheers

and summer
passes
on a night
bright
and clear
with no mercy
in the cold north wind







The Third Commandment, next in the series by Gary Blankenship



Commandment III


You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.


when a suicide bomb explodes on a bus on the way to visit the sea

daughter is murdered because she was raped

doctor is shot outside a planned parenthood clinic

medication is withheld from a terminally ill child

rocks are thrown at school kids on their way to learn from the nuns

wife is beaten because a stranger saw beauty that might have been

family dies because their drinking water is polluted

greed is the justification for war

your back is turned on your neighbor's loss

babe screams his veins crying for H

school is burned because girls are taught

enemy is tortured because he might know nothing

as it was
as it is
as it will be

until the last wheel has turned







Jalal ad-din Rumi

As promised several weeks ago, here's more from the 13th century Persian poet Rumi.


Caring For My Lover

Friends, last night I carefully watched my love
sleeping by a spring circled with eglantine.
The houris of paradise stood around him,
    their hands cupped together
between a tulip field and jasmines.
Wind tugged softly in his hair.
His curls smelled of musk and ambergris.
Wind turned mad and tore the hair right off his face
like a flaming oil lamp in a gale.
From the beginning of this dream I told myself
    go slowly, wait
for the break into consciousness. Don't breath.


(Translated by Willis Barnstone and Reza Barabeni)






Autumn leaves begin to fall

Jack Hill returns die his second visit to "Here and Now." I read Jack's work on a poetry forum he and I both frequent. There is an old-fashioned sensibility to his poems that appeals to me. This poem captures the sense of excitement that comes with changing seasons, especially the transition from summer to fall.

Fall adolescents

I watched the fall leaves
chase one and other
around the yard,
getting caught in a
whirlwind;
spinning and tumbling then
running off too
the neighbors yard,
I could almost hear
their giggles.







Second in the series of "style" poems from Sikong Tu

Sikong Tu was the 9th century Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty whose The Twenty-four Styles of Poetry sought to categorize classical Chinese poetry into twenty four genres, embodying the essence of each style within a poem. In the first of the series, we had a poem in The Placid Style.

We take a different track this time with the second style.


The Potent Style

Green woods, a wild hut.
Setting sun in the transparent air.
I take off my head cloth, walk alone,
often hearing the calls of birds.

No flying swan brings me messages
from my friend traveling so far.
Yet the one I miss isn't far.
In my heart we are together.
Ocean wind through emerald clouds.
Night islets and the moon, bright.
After one good line, stop.
A great river spreads across your path.







Chinaski's return

I decided to give everyone a break from Charles Bukowski several weeks ago. Well, the break is over. He's my favorite poet and if I can't beat people over the head with him here, then what's the point.

Anyway, Bukowski's back.


demise

the son-of-a-bitch
was one of those soft liberal guys
with a belly like butter who
lived in a big house, he
was a professor
and he told
her:
"he'll be your
demise."

imagine anybody saying
that: demise!

we drove in from the track,
she'd lost $57 and she said:
"we'd better stop for something to
drink."

she wore an old army jacket
a baseball cap
hiking boots
and when I came out with the bottle
she twisted the top off
and took a long straight swallow
a longshoreman's suicide gulp
tilting her head back behind those dark glasses.

my god, I thought.

a nice country girl like that
who loves to dance.
her 4 mad sisters will never forgive me
and that soft left-wing son-of-a-bitch
with a belly like butter (in that big
house) was
right.







From Seven Beats a Second

I included this poem in the book last year because it's a favorite among my quirkier pieces. It was previously published in 2002 in the journal The Melic Review.


burning

though
hot
I'm not

you really set me burning
when you walked out those
swinging doors
in your skimpy white short-shorts

tight cheeks flexing against
the soft cotton
like two little monkeys
in a velvet bag

waving goodbye

seismic
is the word that comes to mind





Detail from Jazz Splice by Vincent Martinez



William Carlos Williams on jazz

Ol' Bunk's Band

These are men! the gaunt
unforesold, the vocal,
blatant, Stand up, stand up! the
     slap of a bass-string.
Pick, ping! the horn, the
     hollow horn
long drawn out, a hound-deep
     tone -
Choking, chocking! while the
     treble reed
races - alone, ripples, screams
     slow to fast -
to second to first! These are men!

Drum, drum, drum, drum, drum
     drum drum! the
ancient cry, escaping crapulence
     eats through
transcendent - torn, tears, term
     town, tense,
turns and backs off whole, leaps
     up, stomps down
rips through! These are men
     beneath
whose force the melody limps -
     to
proclaim, proclaims - Run and
     lie down,
in slow measures, to rest and
     not never
need no more! These are men!
     Men!







Introducing Jane Roken

Jane is a poet from Denmark who also posts on one of the poetry forums I visit on a regular basis.

She describes herself as a middle-aged Scandinavian girl who has been writing poetry, on and off, ever since she was able to hold on to a pencil. She says her main sources of inspiration are Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, and life in general. She also does some prose writing, photography, gardening, etc. She works as a freelance translator.

I enjoy her work.


late summer on the road

say yes

this is the unspoken calling,
an effort of the imagination
so violently green:
the caravan
at the back of the grove
is sliding on shifting shale,
hot hollows
shady rests
blankets full of strange delights
the color of tyrean gold


be awake

be my astrolabe
my map o' the universe
magnetic miracle
my windhover,
be my well-tried comfort
be mine


stay alive

the scarecrow in the field
is following
the long-distance birds
crossing the sky at dawn
looking for colors
beyond the map,
secret colors
no one has yet named


treat the world kindly

outside our small safe space flies mystery
lean transparent insects,
silver lairs of tunnel spiders
under nets of dappled light,
fairy lanterns, fairy rings
the birch, the rowan, the mountain ash
ivy-leafed toadflax
skeletal leaves
lost villages


keep moving

tough-spirited rain
plaiting my hair,
rising winds adding
odd designs and curlicues,
that indeterminate inflection
of our route
and the luminous mill wheel
always ahead


try to be joyful

the season is changing
with advancing walls
of echoes,
we see the tail of summer
waving head-high
in wild grasses and grain,
and like autumn weeds
grown tall and tired,
we lie down
together







In the land of impossible dreams

According to contributor information in the book From Totems To Hip-Hop, edited by Ismael Reed, Yumi Thomas was a student in Mr. Reed's Fall 1998 poetry class at University of California at Berkley. It seems likely that she is also the Yumi Thomas, mezzo-soprano, who performs a wide repertoire of opera and oratorio arias, art songs, and. Japanese folk songs throughout the Bay Area.

I enjoyed this witty little poem of hers.

Love Poem to an Avocado from a Tomato

Tonight I wore my bright red suit
and came to the opera
just to see you at the buffet.
Leaning against a cabbage leaf
in a bowl of salad,
your olive skin shimmers
like a river at night.
You dance among carrots, cucumbers,
and wear a crown of alfalfa sprouts like a queen.
I straighten my green necktie and bow to you,
then blush red as my suit
as you glide by in an artichoke's arms
under the rain of a thousand islands.







A parrot joke

A man had a parrot that could talk. Unfortunately, it swore a lot. In an effort to get the parrot to be quiet, he put him in a cupboard. The parrot continued swearing and after a while the man decided to put the bird in the freezer. Once inside the freezer, the parrot started swearing even more, until, after a few minutes, he suddenly became quiet. The man opened up the freezer and the parrot said, "I'm sorry, sir, it will never happen again." As the man took the bird out of the freezer he wondered what the difference was between the cupboard and the freezer. Just then, the parrot said, "So, uh, what'd the chicken do?"






About a dog

With two dogs sleeping on the futon beside me, I think of another dog, buried under a large stone in our backyard.

This poem appeared in Seven Beats a Second. It's a sentimental piece but dogs bring that out in me.


a dog we hardly knew

found just last week
in a busy parking lot,
she jumped into the car
when I opened the door
and didn't want to leave
so she rode home with me,
looking out the window
at everything we passed,
black eyes afire with
puppy enthusiasm

only days later,
with the quickness
of a winter night falling,
some dark disease
has came over her
and now her shimmering eyes
are dull and confused

she can no longer stand on her own
so we hold her in our arms,
wrapped in an old shirt of mine,
as she grows by the hour weaker

I checked on her a minute ago
and found her gone from the little nest
we made for her in a chair on the patio

I took a flashlight
from beneath the sink
and began to search the yard,
then quickly found her,
huddled against the fence
beneath some climbing ivy

she's been to that same place
three times today

it's the place she's chosen to die,
I think, so I left her there,
covered with towel for warmth,
giving her some comfort
at the lonely end
of her short puppy life

sweet dog,
your stay with us so brief
we never settled on a name







And that's it for this time around. I'll be back next week with something special for Halloween.

( mini-rant addendum: I'm not exactly sure where in Big Bend Park the picture above was taken, but I think the little Mexican village you can see in the distance is Boquillas. Formerly accessible by way of a tiny, one-car, hand-poled ferry, residents of this village made a fair living, especially considering how godawful far they are from anything else in either Mexico or the US, selling craftwork to park visitors who crossed the river on the ferry. This small crossing was one of a number closed in the name of homeland security. Since no terrorist, alleged terrorist, unlawful combatant or Arab looking guy with shifty looking eyes who has been captured or killed in the United States in the name of homeland security came to the country by any means other than legal, you have to feel some sorry for these poor people who lost their principle means of subsistence as scapegoats for the bureaucratic ineptitude of the US government.)

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All Eyes East For The Fleet's Return   Monday, October 16, 2006




Well, we've gone to the birds for "Here and Now" number I.wviii.




(Photo supplied by Robert Anderson)



As to roadrunners....

A friend of many years emailed me about my roadrunner picture after last week's issue of "Here and Now" went on line.

Bob, who lives within sight of the Rio Grande River in a small city near Albuquerque several hundred miles from the Rio Grande River in Big Bend Park that I featured in last week's issue and 1,200 or so miles from that same river, which I grew up near in way-South Texas, reminded me that the roadrunner (of the genus Geococcyx of the cuckoo family, Cuculidae, native to North and Central America) is the State Bird of New Mexico.

Claiming a proprietary interest in this ground foraging cuckoo, he included in his email a picture he took of a New Mexico roadrunner in his backyard, insisting that his roadrunner was an outstanding example of roadrunnery and challenging anyone to come up with a picture of a superior roadrunner.

While clearly my roadrunner is better groomed than his roadrunner, it is equally clear from the two lizards (actually a lizard and a horned toad, I think) in his roadrunner's beak that his roadrunner, by preying in bulk (Sam's Club member, perhaps), is a better provider for mate and hatchlings.

So, as is often the case, the New Mexico creature is more industrious, while the Texas creature is better looking.


(photo by Robert Anderson)



More about roadrunners

Roadrunner are native to the deserts of the Southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America.

They are large, slender, black-brown and white streaked ground birds with a distinctive head crest who generally range in size from 18-24 inches in length from tail to beak. They have long legs, strong feet, and an oversized dark bill. The tail is broad with white tips on the 3 outer tail feathers. They have a blank patch of skin behind the eye that is shaded blue proximally to red distally. They are long-legged birds with long thick dark bills and long dark tails. They are terrestrial, and although capable of flight, they spend most of their time on the ground. During flight the wings are short and rounded and reveal a white crescent in the primary feathers. Roadrunners and other members of the cuckoo family have zygodactyl feet (two toes in front and two toes in back) and are able to run up to 15 miles per hour and generally prefer sprinting to flying.

Roadrunners live in arid lowland or montane scrub and are often widely dispersed in the dry open country with scattered brush. They are non-migratory birds that reside in their breeding area all year.

They are omnivores and are opportunistic. Their diet normally consist of insects, small reptiles (such as lizards and snakes, including rattlesnakes), rodents and small mammals, tarantulas, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, small birds and fruits and seeds like prickly pear cactus and sumac. Roadrunners forage on the ground usually running after prey under cover, they may leap to catch insects, and commonly batter certain prey, like snakes, against the ground.

Roadrunners are commonly solitary birds or live in pairs. They are monogamous and a pair may mate for life. Pairs may hold a territory all year. During the courtship display, the male bows, alternately lifting and dropping his wings and spreading his tail. He parades in front of the female with his head high and his tail and wings drooped. It has also been documented that the male may bring an offering of food to the female.

Their nest is often on a platform composed of sticks, leaves, snake skins, or dung. The nest are commonly placed in a low tree, bush, or cactus. Hatching is asynchronous and average a 2-6 egg clutch. Eggs are generally a white color.

They have bi-parental care. Both sexes incubate the nest and feed the hatchlings, but males incubate the nest at night. For the first one to two weeks after the young hatch, one parent always remains at the nest. After the hatchlings are two to three weeks old they leave and never return to the nest. For a few day thereafter, the parents and young forage together.

During the cold desert night the roadrunner lowers its body temperature slightly, going into a slight torpor to conserve energy. To warm itself during the day, the roadrunner exposes dark patches of skin on its back to the sun.

The roadrunner has been called the war bird, the snake eater, and medicine bird by groups of Native Americans. To the Hopi and Pueblo Indian tribes the roadrunner is believed provided protection against evil spirits.

A Warner Brothers cartoon was created about Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. While not doing much for the coyote, as a result of the cartoon series roadrunners have become a kind of folk hero in the minds of many, fast, feisty and flamboyant in their self-confidence. Watch one run across the road in front of you and you will recognize immediately how well the cartoonists caught the essence of the bird.

The bird's Spanish name is paisano, which means "countryman". The roadrunner's range extends to the chaparral country of South Texas where you'll find many Paisano Creeks, Paisano Canyons and Paisano Arroyos named after them, not to mention at least one community newspaper I can think of, convenience stores, streets, high school football teams and a state bank or two.

The roadrunner is also the mascot of the University of Texas at San Antonio, right down the road from me.






Speaking of birds

I wrote this last year. It was published late in the year in The Hiss Quarterly.


fast times in birdland

I hit a bird this morning

ran right over him
when he flew too low
or too slow

dumbass bird

I drove on

stuck in my cadillac's
checkerboard grill,
beak forward,
feathers
around his black bb eyes
ruffling in the wind,
he dies

thinking
goddamn, look at me go
I'm the fastest bird
in this whole freaking town







Let the winds blow

May Swenson was born in 1913 and died in 1989. She received a bachelor's degree from Utah State University in 1939 and taught poetry at Bryn Mawr, the University of North Carolina, the University of California at Riverside, Purdue University and Utah State University and was an editor at New Directions publishers from 1959 to 1966.

Her poems appeared in Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, Carleton Miscellany, The Nation, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Parnassus and Poetry. She served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1980 to 1989.

May Swenson was the eldest of 10 siblings and spoke Swedish from childhood, until she learned English as a second language.


Weather

I hope they never get a rope on you, weather.
I hope they never put a bit in your mouth.
I hope they never pack your snorts
into an engine or make you wear wheels

I hope the astronauts will always have to wait
till you get off the prairie
because your kick is lethal,
your temper worse than the megaton.

I hope your harsh mane will grow forever
and blow where it will,
that your slick hide will always shiver
and flick down your bright sweat

Reteach us terror, weather,
with your teeth on our ships,
your hoofs on our houses,
your tail swatting our planes down like flies.

Before they make a grenade of our planet
I hope you'll come like a comet,
oh mustang---fire-eyes, upreared belly---
bust the corral and stomp us to death.







The last lesson from Lu Ji

This seems a kind of wrap, telling us why the lessons were important.


The Power of a Poem

The function of literature is
to express the nature of nature.
It can't be barred as it travels space
and boats across on hundred million years.
Gazing to the fore, I leave models for people to come;
looking aft, I learn from my ancestors.
It can save teetering governments and weak armies;
it gives voice to the dying wind of human virtue.
No matter how far, this road will take you there;
it will express the subtlest point.
It waters the heart like clouds and rain,
and shifts form like a changeable spirit.
Inscribed on metal and stone, it spreads virtue.
Flowing with pipes and strings, each day the poem is new.


(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping






Roxie's back

The second chapter in the Roxie saga from Bobbie Kilzer Gogain.


After Two Years of Marital Bliss

She called him "Biffaroo,"
like he was a wild animal
out of the old west.
It made him feel as if he could
break any filly
with a quick flick
of his muscles.

She started calling at his home,
hoping to wrestle
him away for his family.
He'd call her Miss,
when his wife was near the phone
and called her Missy, my delta babe,
When Roxie was away.

She wasn't smart,
but could arouse his body parts,
long blond hair, that sculptured
her ass in strands as she walked.

Legs, so long, she could reach
cupboard tops
all on her own.

Eyes so blue there was no longer
a need to go to the gulf,
He swam within her gaze.

He had tired of his wife's sharp witted tongue
that would spring upon him
like a serpent
when he least expected it.

She no longer called him honey,
she called him snake.
He in turn called her mongoose

He was tired of the clutter
of paper filling the den.
Her writings were shoving
him out the door

She called them
the scraps of her life.
He called them junk.

She left one day,
taking the baby, the dog
and the sun bleached
papers of her existence,

Leaving Biff with the bills and the cockatoo.







Frank Marshall Davis

Frank Marshall Davis was born in 1905, in Arkansas City, Kansas. At the age of seventeen, he moved to Wichita to attend Friends University and soon thereafter he transferred to the school of journalism at Kansas State Agricultural College. He began to write poems as the result of an assignment in college.

In 1927 Davis moved to Chicago, where he wrote articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers. In 1930, he moved to Atlanta to become an editor of a semiweekly paper. Under Davis' editorship, the Atlanta Daily World became the first successful black daily newspaper in America. He continued to write and publish poems, and his poetic work caught the attention of Frances Norton Manning, a bohemian intellectual, who introduced Davis to Norman Forge. Forge's Black Cat Press brought out Davis' first book, Black Man's Verse, in the summer of 1935. It was a critical success, bringing together Davis's interest in jazz and free verse with a condemnation of racial oppression.

Between 1935 and 1947, Davis was Executive Editor for the Associated Negro Press in Chicago. He also started a photography club, worked for numerous political parties, and participated in the League of American Writers. With the encouragement of authors such as Richard Wright and Margaret Walker, Davis completed what many consider to be his finest collection, 47th Street, which was published in 1948 and chronicles the varied life on Chicago's South Side. Whereas his earlier work focused exclusively on black life, this book presents a "rainbow race" of people, united more by class than color.

In 1948, Davis' vacation to Honolulu, Hawaii, turned into a permanent residence. He stayed on to raise five children, operate a small wholesale paper business, and write a weekly column for the Honolulu Record. Although his work fell slightly out of favor, it was rediscovered during the Black Arts Movement in the 1960's, and in 1978 he published his final volume, Awakening, and Other Poems.

Davis died in 1987. Black Moods: Collected Poems and Livin' the Blues: Memories of a Black Journalist and Poet were published posthumously.


Four Glimpses of Night

     I

Eagerly
Like a woman hurrying to her lover
Night comes to the room of the world
And lies, yielding and content
Against the cool round face
Of the moon.

     II

Night is a curious child, wandering
Between earth and sky, creeping
In windows and doors, daubing
The entire neighborhood
With purple paint .
Day
Is an apologetic mother
Cloth in hand
Following after.

     III

Peddling
From door to door
Night sells
Black bags of peppermint stars
Heaping cones of vanilla moon
Until
His wares are gone
Then shuffles homeward
Jingling the gray coins
Of daybreak.

     IV

Night;s brittle song, silver-thin,
Shatters into a billion fragments
Of quiet shadows
At the blaring jazz
Of a morning sun.







Another moon poem

Foolhardy as it might be to follow a master, here's one of my moon poems, this one from Seven Beats a Second


the moon rising

ripples of wind
ruffle bay waters
like a lover's hand
smoothing soft tangles
in her beloved's hair

gentle winds

quiet waters

bright stars warm
in the cool
autumn dark

the moon
rising,
empress
of the night







Anonymous Irish Gaelic poetry from the early 9th century

I had to look this up, so for those who share my ignorance of the word in this context, "glosses" are like liner notes scribes included on the margins of sacred text, bursts of creativity amid the drudgery of transcription, sometimes relevant and sometimes not.

Monastic Poems, Four Glosses

1
A wall of woodland overlooks me.
A blackbird sings me a song (no lie!).
Above my book, with its lines laid out;
the birds in their music sing to me.

The cuckoo sings clear in lovely voice
in his gray cloak from a bushy fort.
I swear it now, but God is good!
It is lovely writing out in the wood.

2
    How lovely is today!
    The sunlight breaks and flickers
    on the margin of my book

3
A bird is calling from the willow
with lovely beak, a clean call.
Sweet yellow tip; he is black and strong.
It is doing a dance, the blackbird's song

4
    The little bird
    let out a whistle
    from his beak tip
      bright yellow.
    He sends the note
    across Loch Laig
      - a blackbird, a branch
      a mass of yellow


(Translated by Thomas Kinsella)






Adam Zagajewski

Poet, novelist, essayist Adam Zagajewski was born in Lwow in 1945. He spent his childhood in Silesia and then in Cracow, where he graduated from Jagiellonian University. Zagajewski first became well known as one of the leading poets of the Generation of '68' or the Polish New Wave (Nowa fala) and is one of Poland's most famous contemporary poets. Among his collections are Pragnienie, Ziemia ognista, Jechac do Lwowa, Sklepy miesne, and Komunikat. His books of poetry in English include Mysticism for Beginners, translated by Clare Cavanaugh, Tremor, translated by Renata Gorczynski, Canvas, translated, again, by Renata Gorczynski, along with B. Ivry, and C. K. Williams. He is also the author of a memoir, Another Beauty, translated by Clare Cavanagh and the prose collections, Two Cities and Solitude and Solidarity, both translated by Lillian Vallee. His poems and essays have been translated into many languages. Among his honors and awards are a fellowship from the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm, the Kurt Tucholsky Prize, a Prix de la Liberte, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Since 1988, he has served as Visiting Associate Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. He is currently coeditor of Zeszyty literackie (Literary Review), which is published in Paris. Adam Zagajewski lives in Paris and Houston.


Long Afternoons

These were the long afternoons when poetry left me.
The river flowed patiently, nudging lazy boats to sea.
Long afternoons, the coast of ivory.
Shadows lounged in the streets, haughty mannequins in
    storefronts
stared at me with bold and hostile eyes.

Professors left their schools with vacant faces,
as if the Iliad had finally done them in.
Evening papers brought disturbing news,
but nothing happened, no one hurried.
There was no one in the windows, you weren't there:
even nuns seemed ashamed of their lives.

Those were the long afternoons when poetry vanished
and I was left with the city's opaque demon,
like a poor traveler stranded outside the Gare du Nord
with his bulging suitcase wrapped in twine
and September's black rain falling.

Oh, tell me how to cure myself of irony, the gaze
that sees but doesn't penetrate; tell me how to cure myself
of silence.







My take on writer's block

The ultimate act of desperation of a writer facing a writer's block is to write about the block as if it mattered to anyone but the writer. Despite that, we all do it because, for most of us, it is always on our mind.

In my experience with such a block, it is like there's a blank white wall in front of me that I can neither see through or around. I find that if I can get written on that wall the first line of a poem, or even just the first two or three words of the first line, I can break through the wall while the rest of the poem almost writes itself.

This poem is about looking for those first words that will bust the process loose. It was written six or seven years ago and was published in The Green Tricycle in 2001.


three little words

usually,
that's all it takes,
three little words, and I'm off,
like a racehorse, bolting from the gates,
heading for the homestretch

sometimes,
I'm like Lucy and Ethel
boxing candy at the factory,
with three little words and three little words
and three little words and three little words
coming faster and faster
and I can't keep up and half are lost
forever

other time,
like a cat lying in high grass,
I wait, maybe for days,
for the three little words,
then, in a flash, I have them,
and the cat leaps
and in a flurry of feathers,
the job is done

lately,
finding the three little words
that will get me started
is like digging in beach sand
at high tide, fighting the surf
to find the treasures buried below
the noisy tides of distraction
that engulf me,
the minutia of my everyday life

like today,
trying to set all aside,
working hard for those
three little words







Claire Collett

This poem, by Claire Collett, is from the book The Jazz Poetry Anthology. The following, from contributor bios in the back of the book, is the entirety of what I can find out about Claire Collett.

She was born in Bradford, England, but brought up in South Wales.

So, Claire Collett, wherever you are, I really do like your poem.


Midsummer

Dad would turn up the stereo
sit on the back steps
to smoke and drink gin.
He'd play
Jack Teagarden and Lady Day -
talking to himself
as if my mother was still
there to disagree.
Unnoticed, I'd balance
on a thin window ledge,
watch the one constant
light on Fairwood common.
I'd listen to my father
argue himself silent
then pour another drink
Billie's voice rising
cool, bitter as magnolia,
thick in the gathering dark.







A "found" poem from the journals of Leonardo Da Vinci


light
is the chaser away
of darkness

look at light
and consider
its beauty

blink your eye
and look again

what you see
was not there
at first
and what was there
is no more


I found this terrific little book this morning, Leonardo Da Vinci In His Own Words at one of the stores of a Texas supermarket chain that has gone into the book business, along with groceries, school supplies, toothpaste and BBQ pits. They have both new hard and soft covers, as well as tables full of remainders at two to four dollars each.

The book was prepared by William Wray who I also can't find much about, except that he's probably not the painter and cartoonist who was involved with Ren and Stimpy.

The book is a collection of quotations from Da Vinci's journals, with illustrations and connecting material from Wray. Topic headings include painter and painting, the seeing eye, botany for painters, perspective, reason and observation, intimate knowledge, the four elements, the sun, inventions, flight, harmony, love, symbolism, reflections on life and others.

Maybe I'm just unusually receptive tonight, but I've been told of Da Vinci's greatness all my life and this thin little volume helped me get my head around that greatness in ways that have never connected with me before.

I suppose artists study this stuff in art school, but I'm not an artist and I didn't, so the intricacies of method and seeing he describes fascinated me.

Here's another found poem from his journals.

the air
moves like a river
and carries clouds with it,
just like running water
carries all things
that float upon it







Langston Hughes


Dream Dust


Gather out of star-dust
      Earth-dust,
      Cloud-dust,
      Storm-dust,
And splinters of hail,
One handful of dream-dust
      not for sale.







A matter of equal time

Peter Blue Cloud was born in 1933 into the Kanawake Mohawk Nation, on the south side of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. He has worked as a steelworker, carpenter, brush clearer, logger and editor of Akwesasne Notes and Indian Magazine. His books include Alcatraz Is Not An Island, Bear and Wolf, Back Then Tomorrow, With Crows, The Other Side of Nowhere and Clans of Many Nations: Selected Poems. Back Then Tomorrow won the American Book Award in 1981.

Given the space Roadrunner received, it is only fair for Coyote to have his say, too, by way of this story by Peter Blue Cloud.

Coyote makes the First People

Coyote stopped to drink at a big lake and saw his reflection. "Now there's a really good-looking coyote," he said, leaning farther over.

And of course he fell in. And of course you will think this is an take-off on an old theme.

But what happened was, he drunk the whole lake to keep from drowning. And because he didn't really like the taste of certain fish, he spat them out. And because he felt sorry when he saw them flopping around, he sang a song to give them legs.

"Maybe they'll become the first people," Coyote mused aloud.

"Oh, no you don't," said the headman of that tribe of fish. "if it's all the same with you, could you just put us back where we were? And could you please take away these stupid legs?"

So Coyote regurgitated the lake and put everything back the way it was.

Again he saw his reflection and said, "Okay, you're pretty good-looking, but are your smart? I've been trying to make the first people for a long time now, but nothing wants to be people. So, what do I do, huh, can you tell me?"

His reflection studied him for a long time, then it squatted and dropped a big turd.

"Okay," said Coyote, "I guess that's as good an answer as any."

Then he himself squatted, and began to fashion the first people.




Music at Casa Chiapas



Singer/songwriter Andre Lamar and bassist Chris Itz play the front porch of Casa Chiapas on a damp San Antonio evening last weekend




Casa Chiapas Impressario Eddie Martinez greets Chris and Andre between sets






Froggy update

Everything you might want to know or remember about Andy's Place with Andy Devine and Froggy of "Plunk your magic twanger" fame is here.

http://www.tvparty.com/lostandy.html


God, I love the internet.






Until next week, time to go. Have this tap, tap, tapping thing I have to look into.

1 Comments:
at 9:19 AM Anonymous Nancy Williams Lazar said...

Hi Allen- Birds are great teachers. Here is my offering:

I love Raven

Would they let me in their game?
Two ravens stir up my backwoods
like accomplished poets sitting
out the fog. I wonder how they always
make it across this hill-mount
when the valley can’t see.

I would go out and join them, caw, caw
at the sky, flap through brown layers
of branches, look for a good perch
to land and complain. A dry spot
on a wet boulder for me, please.

Do they have any friends out there?
I find I am more like our nuthatches,
hiding; or a red finch in cedar
shaking branches, I don’t come out
except to fly up, winging the air
and back again.

I love raven but it doesn’t love me back.
My cat clicks teeth, she loves too.

AKA Lazarus

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For Day; For Night; For The Quiet In-Between   Monday, October 09, 2006




"Here and Now" number I.xvii.






Introducing guest storyteller Ava South, with a story about a Cajun country dance

Ava says she has been writing for as long as she remembers, but so far has only been published on the web. Her work can be seen on her online journals and on several sites dedicated to the art of writing.

She has been married for over 52 years, has 5 children, two grand daughters and one great grandson. Her passion is the outdoors, especially the shore. As a native Texan, Ava says knows about her Louisiana ancestors and relatives who live just over the state line in Vermilion parish.

Here's what she has to say about the Fais do do.

If it is ever your good fortune to be invited to a Fais do do, a simple Cajun country dance, usually in a church hall, or the armory or sometimes even in a private home with a large living room where all the furniture would be moved out onto the porch, be sure to go. It's a blast from the past, once one of the few ways country folk had of getting together to visit. Whole families went, from kids to aunts, uncles and elderly grandparents. Sometimes one family was chosen to keep the kids at their house, but often, the little ones were taken along.

The Fais do do


Benches against the walls all around, kids, adults, and in between watching each other and the crowd out on the hardwood floor that's been sprinkled with cornmeal. Dancers circle to a waltz time beat, twirlin' to Jolie Blond or some other accordion tune. Tante Marie keeps time rockin' somebody's baby, hummin' doh, doh, over and over again. Girls in home made dresses are feelin' pretty, gigglin' and whisperin' behind their hands. Boys in faded jeans, pressed shirts and hair slicked down with pomade are nervous as young colts around a new filly.

An old door laid cross two sawhorses and lined with fruit jars, holds some of Oncle Alphonse's elderberry wine; kicks like a mule but heats your belly too. AnnMarie is makin' eyes at that new boy from Lafayette. He's lookin' all unconcerned, but he's seen her. Poor ol' swamp rat, June LeBlanc is still smartin' from when AnnMarie slapped him last week when he tried to sneak a look down her shirt on the school bus.

The Bazille Waltz is startin' up and everyone is choosin' partners. I see June is tryin' his luck again with AnnMarie. She is stiff-lipped, but accepts his hand and is dancin' with him. As long as he keeps his eyes in his head and his rawboned hands to hisself, they might make up. His dad is piss poor and her folks own the feed store, so it's not a match made in heaven. Poor ol' June don't realize she is smilin' at the new boy over his shoulder.

A little stir is caused when Mayor White makes his appearance, all duded up in new khakis, his fat wife sportin' big hair, fake nails and a new muu-muu. They have nine children and there is much speculation as to how that happened, since they are both so fat, we wonder how they got close up enough to do the matin'. He is pressin' the flesh, carefully wipin' each handshake off after he greets each constituent. His beady eyes are slyly sweepin' the room for Ella Mae Castille, his latest conquest. His wife knows about it, but doesn't want to rock the marital boat. She has the diamonds and the Caddy, so she's satisfied with her status quo. Her pool boy is from way over in Carencro.

We have a guest singer from Texas, a Louisiana boy made good or so his PR says. He belts out a bastardized version of Joe Falcon's Allons Danser Colinda. Only the band behind him is authentic. His Mama would be so ashamed. I doubt he even knows what his badly pronounced French words are saying. Asking Colinda to dance when her Maman wasn't there was sure to ruin the little gal's reputation, but our Texas Cajun wannabe doesn't know that. No matter. His suggestive looks have the first row of girls passing him names and numbers. He is sure to score in the parking lot later with Jo Ann Lege. I only hope her papa catches him in the sights of his double barrel shotgun. Hot damn, that boy will pull up his pants and high tail it back to Texas fast with a peppered butt and a lesson learned.

About midnight and the music is gettin' softer, more slow dances. The crowd is thinnin' out, lots of old people gone by now. Early chores call them because the cows won't like waitin' for milkin'. I see some fogged up windows in some of the pickups in the parkin' lot. O yi yie, the confessionals will have long lines tomorrow and Father Palermo will be handin' out long penances, especially to the boys. He might pay a visit to some of the girls' houses, causin' much embarrassment. More than one of the errant girls will be in danger of being sent to the convent in Lafayette. "Let the sisters take care of her" is the mantra of many worried papas.

When the 2 am closin' time comes around, everyone will go home in groups, lest old Loupe Garou be hangin' around the dark dirt roads that lead to a few of the old home places far out in the swamps. Some of the younger people don't believe in the old werewolf stories, but the old folks still cross themselves when the name is mentioned. I confess to being pleasantly tired out, and as I get into my pickup, I am hummin' Jolie Blond, seein' her bright hair in my mind and wonderin' if she really was as pretty as the song says. I am stayin' at Tante 'Livia's tonight and will gladly sink into her big feather bed up in the loft. I know the mornin' will bring a big pot of strong coffee and some of her famous biscuits. We'll talk about the dance and how AnnMarie is lookin' for trouble, keepin' so many boys on her line. My ol' aunt is hopin' they can get her into the convent in time.







Ava's piece reminded me of this

I wrote this poem several years ago. It was published in The Green Tricycle in January, 2001. The Green Tricycle was one of several publications of Cayuse Press that have been discontinued. I miss them and wish they would come back. One of them, The Horsethief's Journal was the first to publish me when I returned to writing in 1998.

Here's the poem.


I wish

I could write
the way those cajun boys talk
down in Louisiana

I'd write a story
and pretend
my dribbling dry creek
was the Mississippi
and my back porch
was a sturdy little pirogue
tied tight
against its cool and mossy bank

and I'd sit in my pirogue
and watch that river
just passing on by

I'd suck me some
crawdad heads

eat some of that
spicy gumbo

maybe jambalaya
with peppers
and fine little shrimps

red beans and rice
with deep fried
dumplings

listen
to some of that boot-schuching zydeco
from Queen Ida or Clifton Chenier
or the Zydeco Twisters

you becha mon

I'd be having me a high old time
sitting on my pirogue watching
the Mississippi flow by
if I could write like those cajun fellas
talk

a high old time indeed







Carl Sandburg on jazz


Jazz Fantasia

Drum on your drums, batter on your banjos,
sob on the long cool winding saxophones.
Go to it, O jazzmen.

Sting your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy
tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go husha-
husha-hush with that slippery sand-paper.

Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome tree-
tops, moan soft like you wanted somebody terribly,
cry like a racing car slipping away from a motorcycle
cop, bang-bang! you jazzmen, bang altogether drums,
traps, banjos, horns, tin cans -- make two people fight
on the top of a stairway and scratch each other's eyes
in a clinch tumbling down the stairs.

Can the rough stuff......now a Mississippi steamboat
pushes up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo......
and the green lanterns calling to the high soft stars
......a red moon rides on the humps of the low river
hills......go to it, O jazzmen.







About that fence......

Turns out that I didn't need to worry about that 700 mile, 7 billion dollar fence I ranted about in an earlier "Here and Now."

As you probably know, both the House and the Senate passed the bill authorizing the fence and the expenditure of $1.5 billion on it and Bush either has or will shortly sign it.

However, Senator John Cornyn, Texas' senior Bush butt kisser, has been quoted in the press as saying that we shouldn't be concerned since the fence will not actually be built. The legislation and the money are really only for the purpose of getting the message out concerning our resolve re: illegal immigration.

Maybe somebody ought to tell The Honorable Bozos about email and it's superior qualities as a medium for getting messages out.

I visited the court last week of a judge whose practice it was to chain drunken cowboys to a nearby mesquite tree until they sobered up enough to pay their fines and return to rational behavior. Too bad he's dead.






The Second Commandment

Gary Blankenship continues his series on the Ten Commandments. Here's number 2.


Commandment II

You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

I looked in the mirror
and saw a handsome man,
a elderly gentleman whose face held
enough line to show he had experienced
some trouble in his long life,
enough smile to show he lived
without the turmoil souring his outlook,
enough gray to be distinguished,
beard to be casual,
smirk to make you wonder
if he has a secret no one else might know

I looked in the mirror
and saw a man who held his secrets close,
who did not willingly disclose his sins,
whether truly venal
or only minor enough to spend
nearly all of eternity in purgatory,
who slept sound enough,
but did not remember his dreams
even as they nagged him
as he went about his vacant day

I looked in the mirror
and saw a man who held his regrets
for the middle of long nights
when they roamed his rooms in search
of the fame and honor
he knew was his due

I broke the mirror






A new series on classical Chinese poetry

Sikong Tu was born in 837 and died in 908. He was the author of The Twenty-four Styles of Poetry, an influential Tang dynasty statement on the art of poetry that categorized classical Chinese poetry into twenty-four genres while embodying the essence of each style within a poem. He came from a distinguished family of government servants, but he himself had an official career marked by banishments and political instability. Despite these difficulties, he was celebrated in his time as a poet and as a critic.

It is said that when the Tang dynasty was overthrown and the last Tang emperor was murdered, Sikong Tu starved himself to death in protest.

I only have seven of the twenty-four poems and I'll spread those out over a number of weeks.


The Placid Style

Dwell plainly in calm silence,
a delicate heart sensitive to small things.
Drink from the harmony of yin and yang,
wing off with a solitary crane,

and like a soft breeze
trembling in your gown,
a rustle of slender bamboo,
its beauty will stay with you.

You meet it by not trying deeply.
It thins to nothing if you approach,
and even when its shape seems near
it will turn all wrong in your hand.


(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)






A white man's black history

Several years ago an exhibit of historical pictures toured the states. The pictures were images taken at the lynchings of African Americans in the 1920's and 1930's. (I may be off a bit on the dates. Some might have been as late as the 1940's.)

The pictures are shocking. Most unsettling to me was one particular picture of the hanging of a man and a woman, with images of the white people, men, women and children, standing around the hanging bodies as if at a carnival. The most awful thing is that the people looked so normal. Where you would expect to see evil personified, you see instead people who look just like the people you stand in line with at WalMart or the grocery store or the bank or wherever you go during the normal course of your day. Such evil potential in the banal, every day that surrounds us is an awful thing to contemplate. These pictures strain any illusion that there might be an overriding natural goodness in the hearts of mankind. Instead, they seem to argue the contrary, that the evil we face in the world does not come from some alien Dante-world, but might just spew from within any of us at any time.

I wrote this poem in response to those pictures. It was published in Hawkwind in 2002.


pictures from an american lynching

it's not the hanging black bodies
that chill me,
it's the smiling white faces below

the white man standing
under the swinging body
of the young black girl,
smiling,
beer in his hand, hat cocked to one side
like he was a movie star

the two pretty girls
arm in arm beneath the carnage,
smiling,
posing for the camera
like a picture at the county fair

the child
in dusty overalls
standing at his mother's side,
wide-eyed,
holding on to her dress
with one hand,
pointing
with the other
to the bare feet of the black man
dangling over his head

so familiar, these faces

like from the family albums
I looked at as a child,
seeking among the pictures there
the story of how I came to be

so damn familiar!







What the heck, another jazz poem

Quincy Troupe was born in New York City in 1939, son of Negro League baseball catcher Quincy Trouppe.

He has enjoyed a long and successful career as a writer and teacher. Troupe works include James Baldwin: The Legacy, Miles and Me: A Memoir of Miles Davis and Miles, the Autobiography (written with Miles Davis) for which he won the American Book Award for 1989. He also edited Giant Talk: An Anthology of Third World Writing and is a founding editor of Confrontation: A Journal of Third World Literature and American Rag. He taught creative writing for the Watts Writers' Movement from 1966 to 1968 and served as director of the Malcolm X Center in Los Angeles during the summers of 1969 and 1970.

Among his other honors and awards are fellowships from the National Foundation for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.

This is one of his many jazz poems.


Snake-Back Solo

(for Louis Armstrong, Steve Cannon, Miles Davis & Eugene Redmond)

with the music up high
boogalooin bass down way way low
up and under eye-come slidin on in mojoin
on in spacin on in on a riff
full of rain
riffin on in full of rain & pain
spacin on in on a sound like coltrane

my metaphor is a blues
hot pain dealin blues is a blues axin
guitar voices whiskey broken niggah deep
in the heart is a blues in a glass filled with rain
is a blues in the dark
slurred voices of straight bourbon
is a blues dagger stuck off in the heart
of night moanin like bessie smith
is a blues filling up the wings
of darkness is a blues

& looking through the heart
a dream can become a raindrop window to see through
can become a window to see through this moment
to see yourself hanging around the dark
to see through
can become a river catching rain
feeding time can become a window
to see through







Three short poems from 12th century Persia

Awhad ad-Din 'Ali ibn Vahid ad-Din Muhammad Khavarani, better and more briefly known as Anvaria, was born in Turkmenistan. He studied science and literature at the collegiate institute in Tun (now Firdaus, Iran), becoming a famous astronomer as well as a poet.

Anvari's poems were collected in a Deewan (a volume of collected works). His elegy Tears of Khorasan, translated into English in 1789, is considered to be one of the most beautiful poems in Persian literature. The Cambridge History of Iran calls Anvari "one of the greatest figures in Persian literature".

Anvari won the favor of the ruler of Khorasan, which allowed him to go on to enjoy the patronage of two ruling successors. But, favor won can become favor lost, which happened to him when his prophesy of disasters in October 1185 failed. As a result, he was forced into a life of scholarly service, eventually taking his own life in 1189.

Known as a writer of beautiful poems, he shows another side in these three short poems.


Drunkenness

I drink but don't get drunk:
I abuse nothing but the goblet:
I worship wine in order to avoid
Worshipping self, like you


(Translated by Godffrey Squires)


Composing

I wrote a panegyric on you --- and I'm sorry,
     There's no point in these lays of one's own making;
My praise was like a wet dream --- when I woke I found
     I'd spent spunk on a worthless undertaking.


Take What He gives You

Take what he gives you, even if it's paltry --
     To this lord paltry's quite a bit;
A gift from him is like being circumcised --
     Once in a lifetime and that's it!


(Two poems translated by Dick Davis)






What we wish when we do what we do

Bukowski knows


at last

I am sitting here
in darkest night
as one more poem
arrives
and says
wait,
wait,
watch me as I strut
across the page
letter by letter
like one of your
cats
walking across the
hood of your
car.
watch me,
here I
go
again
all the way to
Mexico
or Java
or down
into your
gut.
wait
some
more,
these nights
are meant for that,
and for
me
because
I control
you,
a captive there
sitting before
this
illuminated
screen.
you will do as I
want
because
I write
you,
not the other
way around.
I always have.
I always will.
I am the last
poem of this
night
and as you
sleep later in the
next room
in the dark
you will
forget about
me,
forget everything.
you with your
dumb mouth
open,
as you snore your
heavy
sleep,
I will be here
waiting,
immortal,
and
when you are
dead
and the black
sky flashes
red
for you
for the last time,
your dumb
bones
will amount to
nothing
more
than
dust.
but I will
live on.







One of mine from Seven Beats a Second

I always liked this poem, but couldn't find anyone to publish it until I did it myself in my book. I was reminded of it again last week at Big Bend, thinking of a time when natural light was the only light and night was truly "black as night."


star bright

imagine the stars
on cold desert nights,
spread across the wide black sky,
beyond the desert and high mesas,
past prairies where trickster coyote calls,
past the land of mortal men
to the place where spirits hunt
ghosts of buffalo

imagine sleeping
with this blaze of night around you,
far stars bright
with cold unchallenged light

imagine
how you must fear the starless night,
when clouds close the sky around you
and bind you prisoner to the dark







How do you say "male chauvinist pig" in Greek?

Palladas was a 4th century Greek poet, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. All that is known about him has been deduced from his 151 epigrams preserved in the Greek Anthology. His poems describe the persona of a pagan schoolteacher resigned to life in a Christian city, and bitter about his wife to the point of misogyny.

Something like this.


Women All Cause Rue

women all
cause rue

but can be nice
on occasional

moments two
to be precise

in bed

& dead


(Translated by Tony Harrison)


Paul the Silentiary, also known as Paul Silentiarus was a 5th century Byzantine poet noted for his description of Hagia Sophia as if it were a meadow of marble due to the many colours of marble employed in its construction.

Tantalos

Mouth to mouth joined we lie, her naked breasts
Curved to my fingers, my fury grazing deep
On the silver plain of her throat,
                    and then: no more.
She denies me her bed. Half of her body to Love
She has given, half to Pudence:
                    I die between


(Translated by Dudley Fitts)






Coming up at Casa Chiapas

Singer/songwriter Andre Lamar, along with bassist Chris Itz, will be appearing at the restaurant/coffee shop Saturday evening, October 14th. Casa Chiapas is on the edge of downtown, in the King William/Southtown District, at 928 South Alamo.

I mentioned their CD, Remember a couple of months ago. If I ever figure out how, I plan to include a couple of cuts from the CD on "Here and Now." Andre is an excellent writer, singer and instrumentalist and, with Chris laying down some weight on the bottom, they bring a good sound to Andre's good songs.






William Meredith


Pastoral


The girl lies down on the hill
In the grass in the sun in June.
Love calls for the breaking of will,
The young man knows that soon

His will to be free must break
And his ego, dear as a wife,
His hand is a brown mistake
Lacing him to life.

As blank as a flower, her face
Is full of the meadow musk
And the shadow of grass like lace
On the hill where she wills the dusk







Attaway, me

Got word a couple of days ago that one of my poems (invisible) will be published in the winter issue of Hiss Quarterly. I'll commence to further bragging when the issue is out and available.






beep beep

Gotta run. Until next week.

1 Comments:
at 8:04 PM Anonymous ava said...

Thanks for including my piece here, Allen. Your comments and poems intrigue me, as usual, and Gary's poem is wonderful! The images are as good as the poems too. A very good package of good stuff. I hope I can manage to save it.

Ava

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