We Must Keep Hope For The New Year   Friday, December 29, 2006




Welcome to "Here and Now" (Number II.1.1.), balanced on the cusp of the old and the new and longer than usual. The small dose of Calvinism on my mother's side that kicks in every now and then demands repayment for the past week of leisure.







Speaking of leisure activities.....

Here's how it works at the old mill pond.


this is what I learned so far today

little frogs
lie
for sex

well,
how do
they do that,
you might ask

(this
is the interesting part)

big frogs
have
deep
bass voices

little frogs
have
little
squeaky voices

though
lady frogs
could care
less about
the size
of the
croak,
some little frogs
learn to deepen
their voice
so they sound
real big
and really really
frog
macho,
scaring
from the pond
much of their
competition
and leaving
all the little
green girlie frog
darlings
for themselves

anyone
who's spent
an evening
at a West Texas
honky-tonk
will understand
the principle
immediately








Now that I've had my fun

Let's start the new year off for real with a history lesson from America's greatest poet, Walt Whitman, complete with references to Abe Lincoln, John Brown, an English prince, a mighty ship and a meteor shower.


Year of Meteors (1859-1860)

Year of meteor! brooding year!
I would bind in words retrospective some of our deeds and signs,
I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad,
I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair, mounted the
       scaffold in Virginia,
(I was at hand, silent I stood with teeth shut close, I watch'ed,
I stood very near you old man when cool and indifferent, but trem-
       bling with age and your unheal'd wounds, you mounted the
       scaffold;)
I would sing in my copious song your census returns of the States,
The tables of population and products, I would sing of your ships and
       their cargoes,
The proud black ships of Manhattan arriving, some fill'd with
       immigrants, some from the isthmus with cargoes of gold,
Songs thereof would I sing, to all that hitherward comes would I wel-
       come give,
And you would I sing, fair stripling! welcome to you from me, young
       prince of England!
(Remember your surging Manhattan's crowds as you pass'd with your
       cortege of nobles?
There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with attachment;)
Not forget I to sing of the wonder, the ship as she swam up my bay,
Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my bay, she was
       600 feet long,
Her moving swiftly surrounded by myriads of small craft I forget not
       to sing;
Nor the comet that came unannounced out of the north flaring in
       heaven,
Nor the strange huge meteor-procession dazzling and clear shooting
       over our heads,
(a moment, a moment long it sail'd its balls of unearthly light over
       our heads,
Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;)
Of such and fitful as they, I sing - with gleams from them would I
       gleam and patch these chants,
Your chants, O year all mottled with evil and good - year of fore-
       bodings!
Year of comets and meteors transient and strange ' lo! even here one
       equally transient and strange!
As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone, what is this
       chant,
What am I myself but one of our meteors?






Photo by Jessica Reyna



Introducing a young San Antonio photographer

Jessica Reyna says she has had a passion for photography every since she was a child. After taking photography classes in high school, she studied photography and art in New Mexico, then returned to Texas earlier this year for a full time course of study in Philosophy and Art History at San Antonio College, while also working full-time. She hopes to work with a studio or art gallery in the future once her education is completed.




Photo by Jessica Reyna



Photo by Jessica Reyna



Photo by Jessica Reyna



Photo by Jessica Reyna



Photo by Jessica Reyna



We'll see more of Jessica's work in the future.







The "Poet-Historian"

Wikipedia has an extensive entry on Du Fu, one of the most extensive I've seen on the ancient Chinese poets. There's room here for only a brief summary.

Du Fu (712-770) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai, he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His own greatest ambition was to help his country by becoming a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755 (37 million people disappeared, either dead or displaced, between the 754 and the 764 census). and the last 15 years of his life was a time of almost constant unrest.

Initially unpopular, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese culture. He has been called Poet-Historian and the Poet-Sage by Chinese critics.

Here are several of Du Fu's short poems, like much of his work, reflecting or referring to the dark times he lived in.


Facing Snow

Battles, sobbing, many new ghosts.
Just an old man, I sadly chant poems.
Into the evening, wild clouds dip.
On swirling wind, fast dancing snow.
A ladle idles by a drained cask of green wine.
Last embers redden the empty stove.
No news, the provinces are cut off.
With one finger I write in the air, sorrow.


Grazing in Springtime

The empire is shattered but rivers and peaks remain.
Spring drowns the city in wild grass and trees.
A time so bad, even the flower rain tears.
I hate this separation, yet birds startle my heart.
The signal fires have burned three months;
I'd give ten thousand gold coins for one letter.
I scratch my head and my white hair thins
till it can't even hold a pen.


Moonlit Night

In Fuzhou tonight there's a moon
my wife can only watch alone.
Far off, I brood over my small children
who don't even remember Changan.

Her satin hair dampens in fragrant mist,
jade arms chilled by clear moonlight.
When will we lean together between empty curtains
beaming as tear tracks dry on our faces?


Thinking of My Brothers on a Moonlit Night

Curfew drums cut off a traveler's road.
At the border, autumn comes with a wild goose's shriek.
From this night on, dew will whiten to frost.
The moon looks brighter at home.
My brothers are scattered now.
Who can tell me if they live or die?
I send letters but no word arrives,
and the war goes on and on.

Broken Lines

River so blue the birds seem to whiten.
On the green mountainside flowers almost flame.
Spring is dying yet again.
Will I ever go home?


Thoughts While Night Traveling


Slender wind shifts the shore's fine grass.
Lonely night below the boat's tall mast.
Stars hang low as the vast plain splays;
the swaying moon makes the great river race.
How can poems make me known?
I'm old and sick, my career done.
Drifting, just drifting. What kind of man am I?
A lone gull floating between earth and sky.


(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)







Everybody's got to be somewhere.....

And I'm usually in one coffeeshop or another, sucking up caffein and waiting for a poem to walk through the door. These popped in a couple of days ago.


coffeeshop shorts, six to a cup

1
wouldn't it be cool
to read the poems
the giants
chose to never write
and compare
them
to mine

mine
I bet
are just as fine

2
the vastly
pregnant
woman
rubs her belly
imagining
with her fingertips
the slight
vibration
of a sigh

3
all the pretty girls
say
"hi"
to me

good father
figures
I guess
are hard
to find

4
the south texas
girl
born and raised
wears a fur hat
and a fur coat
and fur boots
and though
it's fifteen degrees
above freezing
imagines
snowflakes
landing softly
on the open palm
of her fur-lined
glove

5
a broad
broad
round
woman comes in
with a trim and handsome
young man
like from the cover
of "GQ" or such

she laughs
in peals
like bright balloons
and all is explained

6
everyone
has a story
but rare
are those
I have the skill
to tell

still
I keep looking
listening
searching
collecting
anyway

satisfied to find
just those few








Audre Lorde was born in New York City to parents of West Indian heritage. The youngest of five children, she grew up in Harlem, hearing her mother's stories about the West Indies. She learned to talk while she learned to read, at the age of four. She wrote her first poem when she was in the eighth grade. After graduating from Hunter College High School, she attended Hunter College from 1954 to 1959, graduating with a bachelors degree. While studying library science, Lorde supported herself working various odd jobs: factory worker, ghost writer, social worker, X-ray technician, medical clerk, and arts and crafts supervisor.

In 1954, she spent a pivotal year as a student at the National University of Mexico, a period described by Lorde as a time of affirmation and renewal because she confirmed her identity on personal and artistic levels as a lesbian and poet. On her return to New York, Lorde went to college, worked as a librarian, continued writing, and became an active participant in the gay culture of Greenwich Village. Lorde furthered her education at Columbia University, earning a master’s degree in library science in 1961.

During a year in residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Lorde met Frances Clayton, the woman who was to be her romantic partner for 22 years - until Lorde's death from cancer. Lorde died November 17, 1992 in St. Croix after a 14 year struggle with the disease. In her own words, she was a "black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." Before she died, Lorde in an African naming ceremony took the name Gamba Adisa, meaning Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.

In this poem, she speaks of the death of a friend.


Lunar Eclipse

Last night I watched the moon go out
become a dark opalescent glow
I could not believe what was happening
even as I saw the change in light

The first time I met you
we sat up all night reading
each other's poems    morning hopes
followed us down Cole Street
chattering like a flock of quits.

You stretch across out best years
like a living wire
between heaven and hell
at war    Being sisters
wasn't always easy
but it was never dull

I can't believe you are gone
out of my life
So you are not








The worst thing about a hurricane is the fruit salad effect

Puerto Rican poet Victor Hernandez Cruz shares this hard earned lesson about hurricanes.


Problems with Hurricanes

A campesino looked at the air
And told me:
With hurricanes it's not the wind
or the noise or the water.
I'll tell you he said:
it's the mangoes, avocados
Green Plantains and bananas
flying through the town like projectiles.

How would you family
feel if they had to tell
The generations that you
got killed by a flying
Banana.

Death by drowning has honor
If the wind picked you up
and slammed you
Against a mountain boulder
This would not carry shame
But
to suffer a mango smashing
Your skull
or a plantain hitting your
Temple at 70 miles per hour
is the ultimate disgrace.

The campesino takes off his hat -
As a sign of respect
towards the fury of the wind
And says:
Don't worry about the noise
Don't worry about the water
Don't worry about the wind -
If you are going out
beware of mangoes
And other such beautiful
sweet things.








Vivaldi might have cut his "Four Seasons" by half or more had he lived in Southern California

David Gordon works as a Student Affairs Assistant at UCLA. He is a young man, born in Santa Monica, California, and a graduate of Brentwood School in Los Angeles and Pomona College in Claremont, California. He became interested in language at an early age and began writing poetry at 16. A poet, a composer and a visual artist, David sees all three forms of art as necessary, complementary sides of life.

I am just now becoming acquainted with David's work by reading him on one of the on-line forums I visit.

His poem is as true of South Texas as it is of Southern California. We try to go at least once a year to someplace where we can see a season change so we can be reminded of the cyclical nature of life.




No Winter

The sun does not blink in Los Angeles.
January comes and goes, dreamlike,
yet rivers are not still.
Pines do not weep with snow.

Rain does not lull weary drivers, their cheeks
pressed against windshields to dull the heat.
When spring leaves brush the glass,
it does not remind them of morning.

There are no basements to cool off the blazing chord of June.
Only veins of water and sewage hide under melting asphalt.
Traffic sighs like weary trumpets,
as few eyes peek out to chase lonely birds across the sky.

It is Autumn thirst, not cold, that strips branches bare,
and in the dust that boils off the mountains,
I always breathe the same summer.








Up the barricades

Norman Nawrocki is a Vancouver-born, Montreal-based cabaret artist and activist. He performs as writer, actor and vocalist/violinist for the "rebel news orchestry" Rhythm Activism.


Galvanized

Me?
I've been
renovated
upgraded
condomized
gentrified
relocated
vacated
upscaled
displaced
remodeled
expropriated
privatized
terrorized
dispossessed
repossessed
evicted
restricted
and kicked right out

Now
I've been thinking
and drinking
crying and
whining
trying real hard
to figure it all out
I've been reading
and writing
talking and
squawking
asking why
it's always me
that's gotta go
So now me
and my neighbors
are all hooting
and hollering
refusing to move
barricading the doors
and all the windows too

'cause we're contesting
protesting
defying
resisting
organized
persisting
pissed off
fighting mad
and tired of getting
relocated
vacated
upscaled
displaced
evicted
restricted and kicked right out
This time
we're staying








Introducing Luny

I wrote both these poems several years ago. My inspiration for Luny was a plumber by the name of Roy who met my father every day after work for a beer. They had a lot in common, about the same age, both working men accustomed to getting their hands dirty, neither educated past high school and both coming of age at the very depths of the great depression. They had a lot to talk about, but the talk never went past the time required to nurse to empty the contents of one beer each. They were talkers, not drinkers.

Roy was a small, wiry man with the ability common to many depression survivors to smoke a hand-rolled cigarette down to a stub so short you'd think he'd have burn scars all over his lips. He was a man of insistent curiosity about everything and without fear when it came to doing whatever necessary to satisfy his need to know everything about what ever curious thing caught his eye.

After writing the first poem, I was very taken with Luny and wrote the second one, with the idea I would do a series. The third poem, the next in the series, was supposed to be about Luny, under the influence of his wife who was introduced in the second poem, becoming a Sunday School teacher, but I could never get it down. The idea of Roy/Luny as a Sunday School teacher defeated me.

I used the first poem in my book, Seven Beats a Second, and the second was published in the journal Hawkwind.


Introducing Luny

Luny says,

     "Hit's a big sombitch,
     ain't hit."

and I nod
because it really is very, very large.

     "Seen one like it onct in Tupulo."

He scratches and spits and scratches again.

     "Hit was almost as big as this,
     but not quite."

He takes off his hat and wipes sweat from his head.

     "Black, too,
     just like this'un."

We circle it, in opposite directions,
me at a distance, intimidated
as any normal person would be.

But not Luny.

Luny doesn't give a damn,
he just wants to look.
He walks right up to it, sticks
his face right up to it,
pokes at it with his finger.

     "Lookeehere, you ever seen sucha thing?"

And I look at Luny, climbing
over all the wonders of the world, sticking
his fingers into every crack in the universal order
of things as they should and always will be, saying,

     "Well, wouldja look at that!"

then moving on to the next curiosity to grab
a hold of his always hungry hillbilly mind.

And I think, nope, I never did see such a thing.


Millie, Billie, Lolly, Lou and Lester

Luny met Molly on a Sunday evening
in Tuskaloosa at a potluck supper
at the First Corinthian Baptist Church.

I was there talking to Luny
when Molly walked in, a slender little girl
in a flowery dress carrying a big bowl
of country cornbread dressing.

     "Did'ja see that girl,"
     he asked,
     "the pretty one in the flowerdy dress?"

I said I did.

     "Do you know'er?"

I said I did.

     "Can I meet'er?"

I'll introduce you, I said,
I think she'll like you.

So, I did, and I could tell
right away, she did.

     "Pleased to meet'cha, Mr. Luny,"
     she said.

     "Just call me, Luny,"
     he said,
     "most everybody does."

     "Well, you can call me, Molly,"
     she said.

He did and pretty soon they wandered off,
heads together, talking and laughing,
leaving me to spend the rest of the evening
with Brother Borchuck, talking about
the cane bottoms benches out front and the need
to get them repaired before one of
the heavier brothers or sisters of the church
busted through them and sued us all,
including the Lord.

I didn't see Luny again until I was leaving.
He was in his pickup, smoking one of his
roll-your-own Bugler cigarettes,
spitting stray tobacco from
his lower lip like you have to do
when you roll them as loose as he does.

     "That little Molly sure is pretty,"
     he said,
     blowing tobacco from his lip.

I agreed and said
I think she likes you.

     "I know she does,"
     he said.

Luny took another drag from his cigarette
and blew it out and pulled on his left ear.

     "Says she likes kids,
     says she'd like to have a bunch."

A bunch of kids, I said,
that's a lot of responsibility.

     "Yeah," he said,
     "I don't think I'd want more than five."








Back to style school

We haven't checked in with 9th century Chinese poet Sikong Tu in a while. He was the author of The Twenty-four Styles of Poetry in which he sought to define and illustrate through poems twenty-four different styles of poetry. Previously we've had The Placid Style, The Potent Style and The Natural Style. Here's a fourth style from among the twenty-four.


The Implicit Style

Without a single word
the essence is conveyed.
Without speaking of misery
a passionate sadness comes through.

It's true, someone hidden controls the world;
with that being you sink or float.
This style's like straining full-bodied wine
or like a flower near bloom retreating into bud.

It is dust in timeless open space,
is flowing, foaming sea spume,
shallow or deep, cohering, dispersing.
One out of a thousand contains all thousand.


(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)







Markers of grief that does not fade

Frequent contributor Jack Hill returns with this piece.


I wish it weren't December

I remember as though it were yesterday…
as a matter of truth,
I do not.
My Son said I was there!
Where other than there
would you be.

He said I wept
when it was time to go,
the priest left
long ago;
the workmen wanted to close,
I can't recall any more.

My daughter held my hand
where once was held by
her Mother.
She said I trembled.
God,
I wish it weren't December.








The Nolan Street Underpass Murals

How to explain this confused mess?

First, the Nolan Street Underpass graffiti mural was created as part of a community arts project near downtown on San Antonio's Eastside.

An Eastside community leader complained, after the fact, that the community was not consulted and that the murals did not reflect the vision of the community. What is certain is that this particular community leader was not consulted (though others were) and, as to the community vision, that's hard to tell since the community and its vision is in flux as artists, displaced from other art centers in the city due to housing and studio costs, move in.

What is also not in question is that this particular community leader knows how to work the system. She was able, through a city-sponsored graffiti clean up program, to get a cadre of young people to whitewash over the offending art. She was able to destroy about half the murals before someone with the city woke up and stopped her.

The murals went up in July. I first saw them a couple of months later while driving my wife to work on a day my car was in the shop. I knew I wanted pictures, but I was working and busy on weekends and on and on with a similar list of excuses, so I didn't get down to the site to make the photographs until last week, several weeks after the whitewashing.

But I did get these pictures, hard to take because of the size of the murals and the up and down slope of an underpass. This is what's left of the Nolan Street underpass murals.






































I do not have the names of any of the creators of these pieces. I do have the name of those responsible, by both commission and ommission, for the destruction of their work and I will not forget them.







Talk to the animals

I wrote this piece back in 2004. I used it in Seven Beats a Second with the revised title explaining it all to my dog Reba because, when first workshopping it, no one understood I was talking to my dog. Some even saw it as some kind of anti-female statement of male superiority. So, I changed it to make the dog element clear in the title.

I'm returning to the original title here because I never liked it the other way.


explaining it all to Reba

she stares

rapt

big brown eyes
wide, unblinking

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

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

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







Love won then lost, what would we do without it

I saw this neat poem on lost love by Ray Sweatman on one of the poetry forums I visit and immediately wanted it for "Here and Now." I was very happy when Ray agreed to let me use it.

Ray has an MFA from Columbia University. He teaches ESL, is co- poetry editor with PJ Nights at from East to West and says he is still waiting for one more person to buy his book Nothing lit can leave from lulu.com , so he can afford to buy one for himself.

I told him I understood his predicament completely, sharing much the same situation with my own book.

Here's his poem.


So Much

It's easier to pinpoint when we fell
Harder though to know when it left

So much is our own grainy light dreams
Thrust out into the hope of space

So much is brick wall.








From those who have little, more is taken

And now, Gary Blankenship on the eighth commandment, the next poem in his series on the ten commandments.


Commandment VIII

You shall not steal.

They lived their life frugal,
with small saving enough
to send their kids to a decent college,
spoil their grandchildren,
keep the place mostly modern
and own an almost new car.

They seldom made a purchase
without a bona fide need in mind,
seldom bought anything frivolous,
though she had her collection
of inexpensive salt and pepper shakers
and he owned hats he seldom wore.

They lived their life in such a way
they should have lived in comfort
in their senior years, house paid for,
truck well maintained.

Until an "official notice"
that looked like an bill,
a contractor who did not finish,
warranty not honored,
televangelist scam

Until illness, an accident,
their memory faded

They were children
when a handshake was more
than enough to seal a deal.

They lived until a signature
was not worth the disappearing
ink it was written in.








The jazz poet

Jack Kerouac was born in Massachusetts in 1922 and he died in 1969.

He is considered the father of the Beat Generation. His work includes, most famously, On the Road, as well as The Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans, Lonesome Traveler, Desolation Angels, Dr. Sax and Mexico City Blues.

Kerouac said he wanted to be considered a jazz poet "blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam session on Sunday." It is said that, like many a jazz artist's solos, his improvisations were not always as spontaneous as he wanted us to believe they were and that he understood the merits of edits and revisions.


Mexico City Blues, 64th Chorus

I'd rather die than be famous,
I want to go live in the desert
With long wild hair, eating
At my campfire, full of sand,
Hard as a donut
Cooked by Sand
The Pure Land
     Moo Land
     Heavenland Righteous
     spring
     the thing

I'd rather be in the desert sand,
Sitting legs crossed, at lizard
High noon, under a wood
Board shelter, in the Dee Go
Desert, just west a L A,
Or even in Chihucha, dry
Zacatakies, High Guadalajara,
- absence of phantoms
 make me no king -

rather go in the high lone land
of plateau where you can hear
at night the zing of silence
from the halls of Assembled








Japanese poets, 7th-9th Centuries


Prince Otsu

Prince Otsu (663 - 686) was a Japanese poet and the son of Emperor Temmu.


On The Eve Of His Execution

The golden crow lights on the western huts;
Evening drums beat out the shortness of life.
There are no inns on the road to the grave -
Where is the house I go to tonight?


(Translated by Burton Watson)


Priest Sami Mansei

Almost like his poem, I can find nothing about Priest Sami Mansei except that he lived in the 8th century and, according to several sources, this poem is the only surviving example of his work.


Our Life In This World

Our life in this world -
to what shall I compare it?
It is like a boat
     rowing out at break of day,
leaving not a trace behind


(Translated by Steven D. Carter)


Ariwara no Narihira

Ariwara no Narihira (825 - 880) was a Japanese waka poet and aristocrat, linked through both maternal and paternal lineage to Emperor Kammu.


From The Ise Monatari

Regretting the Past

Is that not the moon?
And is not the spring the same
Spring of the old days?
My body is the same body -
Yet everything seems different.

Facing His Own Death

That is a road
Which some day we all travel
I had heard before,
Yet I never expected
To take it so soon myself.


(Translated by E. Vos)







Two French poets, 19th-20th centuries


Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire was born in Italy in 1880 but grew up speaking French and moved to France at an early age. He was a poet, writer, and art critic. Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word surrealism and writing in 1917 one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play Les Mamelles de Tirésias. Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died at 38 of the Spanish flu during a pandemic.


The Cavalier's Farewell

Oh God! what a lovely war
With its songs its long leisure hours
I have polished and polished this ring
The wind with your sign is mingling
Farewell! the trumpet call is sounding
He disappeared down the winding road
And died far off while she
Laughed at fate's surprises


(Translated by Anne Hyde Greet)


Jules Supervielle

Jules Supervielle was born in France of Basque lineage in 1884. He published twenty-nine volumes of poetry, and was admired by many of his contemporaries. He died in 1960.


Rain And The Tyrants

I stand and watch the rain
Falling in pools which make
Our grave old planet shine;
The clear rain falling, just the same
As that which fell in Homer's time
And that which dropped in Villon's day
Falling on mother and on child
As on the passive backs of sheep;
Rain saying all it has to say
Again and yet again, and yet
Without the power to make less hard
The wooden heads of tyrants or
To soften their stone hearts,
And powerless to make them feel
Amazement as they ought;
A drizzling rain which falls
Across all Europe's map,
Wrapping all men alive
In the same moist envelope;
Despite the soldiers loading arms,
Despite all this, all that,
A sower of drizzling rain
Making the flags hang wet


(Translated by David Gascoyne)






Year's end is a time for nostalgia

This is one of the first poems I wrote when I returned to writing in late 1998, based on an earlier draft written nearly 30 years earlier. It is an account of a trek across the Manzana Mountains near Albuquerque, New Mexico in late December, 1964. The poem was published in The Horsethief's Journal in early December, 1999, a couple of weeks short of thirty-five years after the events described actually occurred.

There was a mighty urge as I was posting this poem to rewrite it. I have, in fact, learned a few things about writing since the poem was done and many parts of it set my teeth on edge. But it is what it is, so I left it as it is. Whatever its many weaknesses as a poem, it is still for me a repository of some really good memories.

Leaving no cliche unturned, here it is.


December Passage

Through forested foothills we hiked,
through the evergreen cusp of mountain chill
and sun warmed December desert,
following an uphill twisting trail
cut by deer and bear and mountain cougar,
until the horizon stretched red below us
and stars flickered bright overhead.

On a rough and rocky slope we slept,
amid the whispering feral rustle of wild nocturnal life,
until, in the silence of dawn, we woke
under dim and gloomy skies.
Lightly falling snow was soon a flurry,
then a pale storm, then a curtain of white,
finally a cloak wrapped tight around us,
muffling he sights and sounds of our passage.
Through swirling white we trekked,
bucking our packs up a zigzag path, over the crest,
to a clearing covered by a mantle of snow,
protected from the frigid wind by encircling trees.
We rested for the night in this high refuge,
kindling a fire to warm our circled camp.
We turned our backs to the encroaching dark,
drawing close around the blaze and,
under a canopy of stars flickering in the black crystal ski,
shared the warm and radiant light of the jittering flames.
Later, secure in the glow of crackling embers,
we pulled the cold clear night around us and slept.

We woke to a blood-bracing cold,
in the pink-tinged dark that signals the approach of sunrise.
Dawn broke, still and silent,
and the air was clean and clear.
High, high overhead, the track of an invisible jet
sliced twin lines of white
across the deep, dark blue of the cold morning sky,
neatly thin lines at first, well-defined and stark,
then swelling into broad bands of gauzy white
that spread across the empyreal vault above us,
then dissipated and disappeared.
Like the contrails of the jet above us,
we began to stretch out along the trail
on the downhill passage,
drifting apart again,
the mountain's mystic kinship fading,
dissipating
under the centrifugal force of journey's end.



Jeez, I don't want to beat myself up too much, but this is really not so good.

If nothing else, reading it again does make me feel better about what I'm writing now. I was very fortunate when I first returned to writing in 1998-99 to hook up with the original Blueline Poetry Forum where I became part of a comunity of poets who could help me work through a piece like this and on to something better. The original Blueline is no longer with us, but many other poetry and arts forums are. I know that most of the readers of "Here and Now" openly admit to being writers, but if there are also any secret, shy or otherwise reticent writers reading this, I urge you to go on-line and find a forum that works for you. If you wish to become better, you must expose your work (and yourselves) to people who face the same struggles as you.

It is risky business, this laying yourself open to the possible embarassment of serious critique. But it does not help you to become a better writer if no one reads your writing. It also does not help you if the only people who read your work are afraid to be honest with their response. And, finally and most importantly, it does not help if you cannot listen to such honest response to your work with an open and willing mind.

We are all learners in life, at everything we do. Such a waste if we don't get better at life with each living day.







But I can't leave without a couple of self-inflicted attaways to stave off the competition for Dora from the guy with the big hat

I had poems published in four journals December, one I already mentioned two weeks ago, and three more since then.

First, I have a poem in the latest Loch Raven Review here at

http://www.lochravenreview.net/2006winter/index.html


The title of the poem is calendars. This is a really nice zine and I'm always pleased when they accept my work.

I also have two poems in the journal Dispatch. Their url is

http://litdispatch.net/dp/three/index.html


The poems are I’ll let you know when on pages 25-26 and Java Notes, Scene 1 on page 41. Dispatch is a new (this only the third issue) and very ambitious journal. I expect to continue to submit to them and hope they'll take at least some of what I send.

This issue is some 140 or so pages and you have to download it to read it. I downloaded it and nothing blew up, so, for the sake of the risk-adversive when it comes to downloading from the internet, it appears safe.

Also, I have four poems in the new issue of The Angry Poet, three that are new and one (storm brewing) that they held over from the last issue. The three new poems are it's all about me, the weight of a butterfly, multiplied and wolves at the door. You can go directly to my page in the journal at this url.

http://www.theangrypoet.com/writings/poetry/itz/


I like The Angry Poet. It appeals to my usually submerged anarchist instincts.

All three of these journals are on the links list on the right of this page.

Until next time.

1 Comments:
at 12:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

allen,
another excellent blog. I love your photographs

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