Autumn Slips In On The River's Easy Flow   Sunday, November 26, 2006



Everything is late this year, but showing signs of catching up. While all the trees in my neighborhood are still as green as they were last spring, hints of the tides of a changing season are showing up along the river downtown. So, after being late with this last week, I'm determined to post this issue number I.xxiv. of "Here and Now" on time. Here it is, right now.




The Rainy Lane Poet

Dai Wangshu was the pen name of Dai Meng'ou. He was born in the Zhejiang province in 1905 and died in middle age in 1950. While in high school, he and a friend founded the Blue Society and published a literary journal called Friends of the Blue Society. While attending college, he and others began publishing the Jade Stone. He joined the Communist Youth Corps in 1925 and the Left-Writers League in 1930. He was soon arrested for revolutionary activities.

He gained great acclaim when his poem A Rainy Lane was published and became known as the "Rainy Lane Poet." He went on to study in France and publish several more books. He returned to China in 1935 to become editor of Modern Literature. After the 1949 Communist revolution, he worked for a short time as a translator before his death.

This is the poem that earned him his nickname.

A Rainy Lane

Alone and with an oil-paper umbrella in hand,
I hesitate up and down a long, long
and solitary rainy lane,
hoping to meet
a girl like a lilac
budding with autumn complaints.

She has
the color of lilacs,
the scent of lilacs,
and lilac sorrow,
plaintive in the rain,
plaintive and hesitant:
she walks hesitatingly in this solitary lane,
holding an oil-paper umbrella
like me
and just like me
she silently paces
lost in clear and melancholy grief.

She walks by me close,
close and casting
a sigh-like glance
she floats by
like a dream,
like a sad and hazy dream,
like a floating dream
of lilacs
and the girl drifts past;
and in silence walks far, far away
past the ruined fence
at the end of the lane in the rain.

In the sad song of the rain
her color is lost,
her fragrance gone,
and gone is even her
sigh-like glance
and her lilac melancholy.

Alone and with an oil-paper umbrella in hand,
I hesitate down a long, long
and solitary rainy lane,
hoping to see floating past
a girl like a lilac
budding with autumn complaints.



Good thing, I suppose, that he didn't get his nickname from the next poem.


The Chopped-off Finger

In an old dusty bookcase
I keep a chopped-off finger soaked in a bottle of alcohol.
Whenever I have nothing better to do than leafing through my
     ancient books,
it summons up a shard of sad memory

This is a finger from a dead friend,
pale and thin, just like him.
what lingers clearly in my mind
is the moment he handed me this finger:

"Please preserve this laughable and pitiable token of love for me.
In my splintered life, it just adds to my grief."
His words were slow and calm as a sigh
and with tears in eyes he smiled.

I don't know anything about his "laughable and pitiable love,"
I only know that he was arrested from a worker's home.
Then it was cruel torture, the miserable jail,
the sentence of death, the sentence that awaits us all.

I don't know anything about his "laughable and pitiable love."
He never mentioned it to me, even when he was drunk.
I guess it must be very tragic, he hid it,
tried to forget it, like the finger.

On this finger there are ink stains,
red, lovely glowing red
sun-bright on the sliced finger
like his gaze at the cowardice of others that scorched my mind.

This finger gives me a light and sticky sadness
and is a very useful treasure,
Whenever I feel bothered by some trifle, I'll say
"Well, it's time to take out that glass bottle."


(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)







Genius is a terrible thing to waste

The great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was born in 1914 in the coastal city of Swansea. His father was a writer and teacher of English literature. Thomas was unable to actively fight in World War II because he was considered too frail, but he still served the war effort by writing scripts for government propaganda.

Thomas attended the boys-only grammar school where his father taught, and it was in the school's magazine that his first poem was published. He left school at age 16 to become a reporter for a year and a half.

By 1953, at the age of 39, he had drunk himself to death.


In My Craft Or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still of night
When only the moon rages
and the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labor by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Nor for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages.
Who pay no praises or wages
Nor heed my craft or art








I visited my parents' graves yesterday. I don't do that often, because I don't often get back to the place where I grew up and where they're buried.

My mother died eight years ago. She was a widow for eighteen years before her death. During those years, she liberated herself from the role of wife and mother that had defined her for all of her adult life. She traveled, she did volunteer work at a local hospital, she took up crafts, she bought an organ she was determined to learn to play (not one of her success stories) and, most of all, she took up painting.

I've written a number of poems about my father due, I think, to the two of us being very much alike. Both stubborn, both opinionated, both loath to lose an argument to the other, we clashed often. Not so my relationship with my mother, with the result, no conflict, little art.

I have written a few and here are two. The first was written several years ago and published in Hawkwind and the second was written earlier this year on Mother's Day.

bright yellow flowers

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

first a photograph I took
near Bloomington, Indiana
when I was a young man
in military service

then
a painting by my mother,
her first,
desperate to fill the days
alone after my father's death

a remembrance now

       love, mom,
       it's signed on the bottom


not a Mother's Day poem

I'll never
be loved again
like my mother
loved me

it's
the kind of thing
we all take for
granted

I did
anyway

and only
in the years
since her death
has it become clear
the extent of my loss

I try
not to think about this
on Mother's Day
because on this day
the truth I'm only now
coming to learn
is overlaid by such
trite, commercial crap
I feel a danger
I might lose it again

so this
is not a Mother's Day poem

I'm still working on that
and someday
when I finally get it right
I'll put it down on paper
and imagine my mother
finally knowing
that I know it now
too







Medieval Latin Poetry

Avianus was a medieval Latin writer of fables. Most accounts place him in the fifth century, though some maintain that he lived and wrote in the sixth century.

Many of his fables became popular for use in school books.

The Calf And The Ox

Scampering in the pasture, that's how now,
the brown cow, a calf still, sees
in the next field, yoked to a heavy plow,
the dumb ox, and stops to shoot he breeze:
"What's that contraption? What kind of life
is that?" The questions, even the mocking laugh
got no rise from the ox, but a silent stare
at the farmer who carries a glittering butcher knife
and a light halter, coming toward the calf.
Nobody gets to choose which yoke to bear.


(Translated by David R. Slavitt)

Sulpicius Lupercus Servasius was another fifth century Latin poet. I was able to find a couple of his poems on the web, but no biographical information. From the poems I found, he appears to have specialized, like Avianus, in fables and moral and civic lessons.

Rivers Level Granite Mountains

Rivers level granite mountains
Rains wash the figures from the sundial.
The plowshare wears thin in the furrow;
And on the fingers of the mighty,
The gold of authority is bright
With the glitter of attrition.


(Translated by Kenneth Rexroth)







He's got grits

It's not always easy for me to figure out what to call what Alan Addotto (AKA Splinter/Splinter Group) does. Setting all other efforts at categorization aside, I'll just settle for sharp and funny.

Earlier this week I ran across a cache of stuff he sent me that I had misplaced. Here’' one.


Breakfast, Southern-style, Y'all!

I like my *grits.
Now before you give a bunch of shit
about being "Southern" and some sort of a hick
let me say it once again
I like my morning grits.
done up regular in my special pot
with just the right amount of water
to make it either creamy smooth
or occasionally firm and stiff
(But please, for God Almighty's sake none of that "instant" crap
that tastes like something caught in a kitchen sink's drain trap.)

Hell, I just love my grits

I like it fried in slices right out of the fridge!

When I make too much
and pour it into a medium sized casserole dish
stick that sucker in the ice box
wait till about lunch, take it out
then cut it up in long luscious slices
dip them in beaten eggs
then flour
and fry those suckers up.
Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss,
Mannnnnnnnnn that is nice!

I even eat grits sometimes for supper
.....easily digestible and so pleasantly warming
especially on cold Southern nights
( we do have them occasionally and now and then)
feels just right
going down.....
and then coming out the next morning
better than Sominex with an Ex-Lax chaser!
sleep like a baby
and poot like a lumberjack at first light.

I like grits with eggs
either cooked in it or with it or fried in deep fat fried in high cholesterol oil the side
.....sunny side up and "drippy-dippy" please,
with country ham
with crispy bacon
with sausage (links or patties....it doesn't matter which)
I like grits with sauteed calf's liver
like my Momma still makes it
.....big dollop of gravy from it smack in the middle .
I like grits with biscuits,
no not on it....
on the side.

Polenta?
Hell that's just a fancy chi chi name for Italian grits
and I just love that as well
being half Cajun French and Italian besides
Southern in the first place.

The very best kind to my mind
is the course ground old fashioned
yellow kind.
.....give you an erection and win the election in my opinion.

Y'all don't like it up North?
Gooooooooooooooooooooooddddddddddddddddddd
more for me.



*(by the way.....I do not consider grits to be a plural noun, a word
like fish
or mice
and who the hell is the writer here anyway?
Grits is singular , and unique I might add. Grits is not "them"
no matter what you've heard.)








From a bohemian life


Edna St. Vincent Millay was a lyrical poet and playwright and the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She was also known for her unconventional lifestyle and her many love affairs with men and women. She used the pseudonym Nancy Boyd for her prose work.

Millay was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her house on October 19, 1950, having apparently broken her neck in a fall.

In 2006, the state of New York paid $1.69 million to acquire 230 acres of Steepletop, the farm she bought with her husband in 1925, two years after winning the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The land will be added to a nearby state forest preserve. Proceeds from the sale are being used to restore the farmhouse with plans to turn it into a museum. Parts of the grounds of the grounds, including a Poet's Walk that leads to her grave, are now open to the public.


White Swans

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds, flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying.








Government Canyon State Natural Area


Government Canyon State Natural Area is an approximately 8,622-acre set-aside in Bexar County, just outside San Antonio. The State Natural Area was purchased by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1993, along with the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the San Antonio Water System, the Trust for Public Land and the federal government's Land and Water Conservation Fund. In addition to protecting a natural environment, setting aside the area from development provides protection to the Edwards Aquifer, the sole source of water for the million plus residents of San Antonio.

The park opened to the public on October 15th, 2005.

The canyon was on the "Joe Johnston" Road from San Antonio to Bandera which was blazed by the military at Ft. Sam Houston in the 1850s. The canyon is a part of the rich ranching history of Texas, with two ranches working the area from 1860 to 1960. In the 46 years since ranching ended, the area began to return to its natural state, a transition that will continue and accelerate under its protected status.

Since the land was purchased in 1993, booming population growth in San Antonio, including recent expansion of the city toward the south, has brought residential and commercial development right up to the northern doorstep of the protected area, giving a strong example of the need to act quickly when attempting to save natural areas from development. Had the various authorities not acted when they did Government Canyon would be fully developed within the next three to four years.

I visited Government Canyon last weekend for the first time, hiking about eight of the area's many miles of trails. I went primarily because I wanted to take photographs and was disappointed that, since it's a protected natural area, visitors are not allowed to leave the trail. That restriction is really limiting to photography, so I didn't get much.

The hike was fun though (and a bit rough in places) and I intend to go back and try other, longer trails.







Of thee we sing


Two from Langston Hughes.


Cross

My old man's a white old man
And my old mother's black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.

If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I'm sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well.

My old man died in a fine big house,
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I'm gonna die,
Being neither white nor black?


I too

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
but I laugh,
and eat well,
and grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed -

I, too, am America







I'll bet you, too, have seen this movie


You can run across a lot of interesting people at Borders Books and Music


making movies over coffee

a girl
in a large hat
comes in
out of the nova-watt sun,
sits,
drops her hat on the table,
holds her face in her hands
like she was weeping,
but I couldn't tell, could be
she's just tired,
rubbing sunspots
out of her eyes

a man joins her,
a tall man,
very tall
in cowboy boots
and gray hair
under a straw hat
hanging long down
the nape of his neck

they both look like actors,
she's
the young hispanic girlfriend
of the somewhat older
star, a teacher, probably,
an English teacher
reading poetry to her class
when the hero walks in
with his boots and badge
to take her out to lunch
at the burger place down the road

she'll be dead
and he'll be out for revenge
by the end of the first reel

and the guy with her,
too old for the lead,
he's probably the police chief
who tries to talk the hero
out of taking the law
into his own hands, or,
because of the boots and hat
maybe the County Sheriff,
some place like Del Rio County,
he'll either get killed
by the third reel
or turn out, in the end,
to be the one who killed
the girl, something to do with
drugs
or maybe a cache of
gold
from an 1890 train robbery
hidden in the caliche hills
outside of town, probably
near the river so the hero
can cross the river
and get drunk on tequila
while the firecrackers are popping
and the sparklers are sparkling
until he learns the secret of the
gold
from the whore in the backroom
who turns out to be his girlfriend's
mother and he gets the gold
takes her back across the river
and buys her the burger joint
right by the school where
he and his girlfriend had lunch
every day before she was killed

I don't know about this guy,
the killed or maybe killer
sheriff,
he looks so familiar,
like that actor who did
Joe Buck
in Midnight Cowboy,
with some years on him

could be

no Ratso though,
not anywhere I can see,
no place for Ratso Rizzo in Del Rio







Breaking up is hard to do


Xu Zhimo was a twentieth-century Chinese poet. He is romanticized as pursuing love, freedom and beauty all his life. He promoted the form of modern Chinese poetry, and therefore made tremendous contributions to modern Chinese literature.

He was born in the Zhejiang province in 1897. In 1918, after studying at Peking University, he traveled to the United States to study Economics and Political Science at Columbia University in New York City. Finding the States "intolerable", he left in 1920 to study at Cambridge University in England where he fell in love with English romantic poetry. In 1922 he went back to China and became a leader of the modern poetry movement. He was one of the first Chinese writers to successfully naturalize Western romantic forms into modern Chinese poetry. He worked as an editor and professor at several schools before dying in a plane crash in 1931. He left behind four collections of verse and several volumes of translations from various languages.

Farewell Again To Cambridge

Gently, I am leaving,
just as I came gently.
I wave my hand gently
to bid farewell to the clouds in the western sky

The golden willow by the river
is a bride to the setting sun,
her beautiful reflection in the sparkling waves
ripples in my heart.

Green waterweeds in the soft mud
freely wave underwater.
In the soft waves of the Cambridge River
I wish I were a waterweed blade.

In elm shade the pool
is not clear but and iridescence
refracted among duckweeds,
distilling a rainbowlike dream.

Looking for dream? Use a long pole
and move to where the grass is even greener
with a boatfull of clear moonlight
and sing loud in the light of stars.

But I can't sing loud.
Silence is the sheng and xiao music of departure.
Even summer insects remain silent for me.
Silent is tonight's Cambridge.

Silently I am leaving,
just as I came silently,
waving my sleeve
and taking away not even a wisp of cloud.


(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)







What's in a name?


John Hollander, American poet and critic, was born in1929 in New York City. He is Sterling Professor emeritus of English at Yale University. Previously he taught at Connecticut College, Hunter College, and the Graduate Center, CUNY.

He attended Columbia University where he studied under Mark Van Doren and Lionel Trilling, and had Allen Ginsberg as one of his classmates. After graduating he supported himself for a while writing liner notes for classical music albums before returning to obtain a Ph.D. in literature.



Adam's Task


           (And Adam gave names to all cattle and to the food of the air and to every beast
           of the field....Genesis 2:20)

Thou, paw-paw-paw; thou, glurd; thou spotted
   Glurd; thou, whitestap, lurching through
The high-grown brush; thou, pliant-footed
   Implex, thou, awagabu.

Every burrower, each flier
   came for the name he had to give:
Gay, first work, ever to be prior,
   Not yet sunk to primitive.

Thou, verdle; thou, McFleery's pomma;
   Thou; thou; thou - three types of grawl;
Thou, flisker; thou, kabasch; thou, comma-
   Eared masawk; thou, all; thou, all.

Were, in a fire of becoming.
   Laboring to be burned away,
Then work, half-measuring, half-humming,
   Would be as serious as play.

Thou, pambler; thou, rivarn; thou, greater
   Wherret, and thou, lesser one;
Thou, sproal; thou, zant; thou lily-eater.
   Naming's over. Day is done.








Late-night conversion

For the past 30 years or so, I've been only an occasional drinker. That wasn't always true. As with most of my present and former vices, I was an early learner. This particular poem was triggered by a flash memory of a night at a driven-in theater when I was about seventeen years old. The poem was published in Avant Guarde Times.

As with most conversions made under pressure, this one didn't last beyond the next Saturday night.


finding religion at 3 am

hanging my head over a dirty toilet
I wouldn't even piss in
on a better day,
gagging,
the smell of my own breath
and the taste in my mouth
setting off
another round of dry heaves

god
please don't make me sober
now








Second thoughts


I'm wondering if the "finding religion" poem might be out of sync with this otherwise laidback issue. When I started "Here and Now" I thought it might avoid a lot of obsessive second-guessing about trivial issues if I made a rule that I don't delete something once it’s down in black and white. So, rather than deleting "finding religion," I post this next poem to take the edge off. That's the theory, anyway.


before you were flesh

before you were flesh
you were a spring blossom,
an amalga of sun
and nurturing rain come softly
in the grace of night

before you were blossom,
you were a fascination,
a free-floating design
in the all-reaching universe
of god's creative passion

before you were real
you were eternal

before you were one
you were all








A West Indian Poet


Andrew Salkey was a novelist, poet, freelance writer and journalist of Jamaican and Trinidadian origin. Salkey was born in Panama in 1928 but was raised in Jamaica. He died in in 1995 in Amherst, Massachusetts. After completing his basic education in Jamaica, Salkey attended the University of London and became a part of the West Indian Students Union which provided an effective forum for Caribbean students to express their ideas and provided voluntary support to the "harassed" working class Caribbean immigrant community, during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Salkey published a number of novels over the course of his career. He was also a BBC interviewer and a professor in writing at Hampshire College in Amherst.


dry river bed

he came back
by plane,
train,
bus and cart

his expectations
were plain:
family,
eyecorner familiarity,
back-home self,
or so he thought

1

during the last stretch,
on foot,
over the hard dirt road,
a beggar smiled at him,
and held out his left hand,
like a reaping hook

he gave him
nearly all his small change

2

further along the way,
a tatter of children
offered him pebbly mangos,
at a price

he handed over
the rest of his change,
without taking the mangos

3

on the narrative verandah,
where all the village tales
had perched
and taken off again,
his mother stood,
as light as the money
he'd just given away

in his embrace,
her body , wrapped wire,
felt smaller
than he remembered,
her face drawn tight
and frightened

4

everything was diminished,
whittled by long urban knives:
the road outside,
the front garden,
the lean-to house,
the back yard,
the lives

5

all his family
and neighbors
were knocking softly
at death's door,
waiting patiently,

spit fringing their cracked lips,
wizened frowns
sliding
into their collapsed cheeks

6

the villagers clawed at him
and what little he'd brought back,

they picked him clean
as a eucalyptus

7

he quickly saw
that home was a dry river bed,
he knew he'd have to run away again,

or stay and be clawed to death
by the eagle
hovering over the village:
nothing had changed

8

he walked alone,
for a while:
not even his footprints
sank behind him,
in the dust;

no niche,
no bounce-back,
no mirrors anywhere,
in which to see himself,
merely the sunlight
mocking everybody, everywhere,
and the circling eagle




And speaking of dry river beds, that seems to be about where we are right now. This dry creek is ready for bed.

Until next time.

Oh, we're going to do something special next week, acknowledging the Christmas spirit. Watch for it.

Hasta la pasta.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



All Is Struggle, Sometimes To Prevail   Monday, November 20, 2006




And welcome all, these few days before Thanksgiving, to "Here and Now" Number I.xxiii.






Beginning this week with a couple of bird poems


This is the second appearance by Alice Folkart in "Here and Now". She is a short story writer from Southern California who says she began writing poetry several years ago to sharpen her eye and her ear. She enjoyed it so much that she continues to work at both forms. Both her short stories and her poems have appeared in many print and web-based journals.

Here are two examples of her sharp eye and ear.


The Voice of God

The twittle-birds,
pitched high as
tiny cows over the moon,
are going to town
in the hedge
as if the day
were about to end.

You know, that
mad tattering they
take up when
they think night
is coming on.

They are confused,
as birds often are
by dogs barking,
or the wind going
north by northeast,
or all the traffic lights
turning green at once
and you've got no hope.

It's only two o'clock
and night is yet far off

I think that they are
advising me to have a nap,
and who am I to ignore
the voice of God.


What Stirs That Bird?

What stirs that bird in the night?
He should be sleeping, silent,
yet he rips the black curtain of sleep
with his sharp little beak, a tweak
in time, the clock says three
but for me it might be two our four,
I just want to shut the door on him.

It's not right, this time of night.
His job is to herald the dawn
not caw like the spawn of the fiend.
I leaned toward liking birds and their song,
but this one's gone wrong, he's waking the bats,
scaring the cats, maybe it's rats that have climbed
in the tree, where he and his family are housed
and roused him to raucous defense.

My fear is that for me to hear him
is a slim omen of evil, a thought
like a weavel that burrows so deep
in my heart, the innocent start
of another dark night of the soul.








Kipling's lament


Rudyard Kipling asks questions of his time we might well ask again today.


Mesopotamia 1917

They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
      The eager and the whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung
      Shall they come with years and honor to the grave?

They shall not return to us, the strong men coldly slain
      In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
      Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead will not return to us while Day and Night divide -
      Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
      Shall they thrust for high employment as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
      When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly and how swiftly they have sidled back to power
      By the favor and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
      Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,
      To confirm and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us - their death could not undo -
      The shame they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
      Shall we leave it unabated in its place?








Another automotive poem


My '83 Thunderbird last week, now, on the other end of the scale, this. I just wrote it a couple of days ago. Hard to imagine a market for it, except here.


what if the fat lady sings and no one listens

my son
has a car
so beat up and junky looking
that the will-work-for-food guys
throw money
through his window
when he stops at intersections
but it doesn't bother him
since he's more into music
than cars
so he just drives the heap
like it wasn't within sight
of that "better place"
where beat-up cars
are smushed and crushed
and transformed into foil
for whoppers and fries
and lawn chairs for old men
who sit on front porches
and smoke cigars
and drink straight whiskey
but to get back to the subject
it does worry me
mainly because I'm old
and tend to obsess on things
like fenders falling off mid-freeway
which reminds me of the saying
that it ain't over till
the fat lady
sings
and the old broad's been
screaming
like a banshee
for months now
but the kid's
into jazz and if she's
not singing
bebop
he won't be listening
which makes me wonder
if a tree falling in the forest
makes no sound unless
someone's around
could it be that the fat lady
singing
with no one listening
produces no effect
on endings or beginnings
meaning this car
just
might
last forever








A couple of easy ones from E.E. Cummings


I use easy in the sense that these two poems are relatively easy to post. The irregular architecture of much of Cummings' work makes them a real pain to put up. These two poems, in addition to being a couple of his best known, are pretty straight forward structurally and less demanding of my minimal computer skills.


in just

in just
spring    when the world is mud-
lucious the little
lame balloonman

whistles    far    and wee

andeddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far    and    wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump rope and

it's
spring
and
    the
        goat-footed

balloonMan    whistles
far
and
wee


pity this busy monster, manunkind

pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
-electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange, lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.

            a world of made
is no a world of born-pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if - listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go








About that wolf


Zbigniew Herbert was born in 1924 and died in 1998. He was known as the spiritual leader of the anticommunist movement in Poland. His work has been translated into almost every European language. He published both prose and poetry in numerous books, including Elegy For The Departure and other poems from which this little prose poem was taken.


The Wolf and The Sheep

--I've got you, said the wolf, and yawned. The sheep turned its teary eyes toward him. --Do you have to eat me? Is it really necessary?

--Unfortunately I must. This is how it happens in all the fables: Once upon a time a naughty sheep left its mother. In the forest it met a bad wolf who...

--Excuse me, this is not a forest, but my owner's farm. I did not leave my mother. I am an orphan. My mother was also eaten by a wolf.

--It doesn't matter. After your death the authors of edifying tales will look after you. They will add a background, motives, and a moral. Don't hold it against me. You have no idea how silly it is to be a bad wolf. Were it not for Aesop, we would just sit on our hind legs and gaze at the sunset. I like to do this very much.

Yes, yes, dear children. The wolf ate the sheep, and then licked his lips. Don't follow the wolf, dear children. Don't sacrifice yourselves for the moral.


(Translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter)







Robinson Jeffers


There was a time when, if asked to list my favorite modern poets, I would have put Jeffers in first, second and third place. No longer. There are elements of Whitman in his style, and I think that's what attracted me. But where Whitman is all warm and natural, Jeffers seems cool and somewhat forced. If Whitman is a sloppy, wet kiss right on your mouth, Jeffers is a firm handshake and a polite howjdo.

Most of all, Jeffers seems a California poet to me, without knowing exactly what I mean by that.


It is time for us to kiss the earth again

A little too abstract, a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the trees rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again.
I will go to the lovely Sur Rivers
And dip my arms in them up to the shoulders.
I will find my accounting where the alder leaf quivers
In the ocean wind over the river boulders.
I will touch things and things and no more thoughts,
That breed like mouthless May-flies darkening he sky,
The insect clouds that blind our passionate hawks
So that they cannot strike, hardly an fly.
Things are the hawk's food and noble is the mountain, Oh noble
Pico Blanco, steep sea-wave of marble.


Fire on the hills

The deer were bounding like blown leaves
Under the smoke in front the roaring wave of the brush-fire,
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught.
Beauty is not always lovely; the fire was beautiful, the terror
Of the deer was beautiful, and when I returned
Down the back slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine,
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in he folded storms of his shoulders.
He had come from far off for the good hunting
With fire for his beater to dive the game; the sky was merciless
Blue, and the hills merciless black,
the sombre-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them.
I thought. painfully, but the whole mind,
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.








Gary Blankenship continues his series on The Ten Commandments


The fifth commandment is one of only two (if I remember my religious instruction correctly and, yes, despite all evidence to the contrary, I did have such instruction) that provide an affirmative direction to believers. All the rest are negative, the thou-shalt-nots that define the greatest of sins in the eyes of the god of Moses. It is ironic that these two affirmatives, remember the Sabbath and honor your father and mother, are probably the least considered of the ten, the one aggressive flouted in our 24/7 world and the other seeming to evolve from a affirmative obligation to honor to a negative, thou shalt not dump the old folks in a nursing home and never visit type of thing.

This is poem is one of my favorites from Gary's series, finding great loss, deep sorrow and love that the commandment suggests but does not demand.


Commandment V

Honor your father and your mother.

Thy mother does not remember her son,
whether her daughters hair
was flaxen or mouse brown,
what she ate for her last meal.
She does remember her first gelding,
what his hands felt like
when he rubbed her neck,
the song her mother sang
as they snapped beans on the porch.

Thy father remembers the scent of her breast,
the feel of her thighs locked in his,
a trout he caught when he was seven.
He does not remember her name,
when or how his father died,
his son's job,
his daughter's children.

They live apart together -
he in an apartment in the west wing,
she in nursing care in the south.
They see each other at Sunday service.
They do not remember each other,
but fall in love with a smile
freely offered by a long-lost lover.

Their children's visits fade
like a kiss stolen backstage
at a third grade spelling bee.








The styles of poetry


The 9th century poet Sikong Tu wrote of twenty four styles of poetry. This is next in our series of his poems describing each of the styles.


The Natural Style

Bend over anywhere and pick it up
but you can't take it from your neighbors.
Go with the Dao
and what you write is fine as spring.

It's like meeting flowers in bloom,
like seeing the year renew.
Once given to you it can't be taken
but gain it by force and soon you're poor again

A hermit in the empty mountain
after rain collects duckweed
and gains this calm inspiration,
moving about unhurried as heaven's potter's wheel


(Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)







I think I might be in a rut


So here's another new poem that slips, again, into an automotive mode. I just wrote this one a couple of weeks ago. It doesn't seem likely to find a publisher.


here are some of things that are bugging me today

like the middle-aged guy
who just walked by
with a telephone thing
in his ear

you see a lot of that
these days,
men and women
passing through life
hostage
to their personal
communicator

it's bad enough
to have a cellphone
you have to always
have with you, poised
to interrupt any significant
thought that might sneak past
your defenses,
now you have to have
the damn
phone actually
plugged into your head

what could anyone
possibly have to say
to these people,
pretty darn ordinary
people from what I've
seen, that's worth having
a phone stuck in your head

and then there's the woman
in the SUV that damn near
ran over me in the parking lot,
tiny woman, couldn't have weighed
over ninety pounds, in a vehicle
big as a banana boat, a pretty
young woman in a truck her husband
no doubt bought
as some kind of little-dick
compensation
gambit

she really needs
to reassure her man regarding
the size issue so he'll buy her
a car that'll let her see over
the steering wheel, unless
she bought the truck
on her own,
which suggests
a whole different
problem







We all go a-tramping...


Chris took a little solo outing through the Guadalupe Mountains (near the Texas-New Mexico border) a couple of weeks ago and came back with renewed appreciation of central heating and pictures. I'm going to use them on the photo gallery on the main 7beats site, but for reasons unfiguredout so far, am having trouble getting them to upload. In the meantime, here's a preview in mini-pic form.














About the blues


James A. Emanuel is a poet and scholar from Nebraska. He has published more than 300 poems, 13 individual books, an influential anthology of African American literature, an autobiography, and more. He is also credited with creating a new literary genre, jazz-and-blues haiku, often read with musical accompaniment.


Get Up, Blues

Blues
Never climb a hill
Or sit on a roof
In starlight.

Blues
Just bend low
And moan in the street
And shake a borrowed cup.

Blues
Just sit around
Sipping,
Hatching yesterdays.

Get up, Blues.
Fly.
Learn what it means
To be up high








From Portugal


Eugenio de Andrade is said to be Portugal's best-known living poet. He is the author of twenty-nine volumes of poetry as well as numerous children's books, collections of prose writings and a number of translations of both classical and modern literature.


In Praise Of Fire

A day
of utter sweetness comes:
everything burns.

Light burns
in the windows of tenderness.

Birds,
in the bright
labyrinth of whitewashed walls.

Words burn
the purple shade of ships.

The wind,

where I have a home
on the edge of autumn

The lemon tree, the hills.

Everything burns
in the utter sluggish
sweetness of the afternoon


(Translated by Alexis Levitin)







A 19th Century Chinese feminist and radical nationalist


Qiu Jin was born in 1879 and was executed by her government in 1907. She was a poet and a student of martial arts. She was an ardent feminist and anti-Manchu radical. She worked as a teacher and ran the newspaper Chinese Women which sought to promote equality among the sexes. She wrote essays promoting feminism and nationalism and was involved in planning an uprising for which she was arrested and decapitated.

She wrote this in a letter to a long time friend, encouraging her to take up the banner when she was gone.


Letter to Xu Jichen

Who talked passionately with me about fighting common enemies?
Who idolized the traveling swordsman Guo Jie?
Now things have gotten so dangerous,
please change your girl's garments for a Wu sword.


(Translated by Tong Barnstone and Chou Ping)







Chinaski goes Hollywood

In a review last Sunday's New York Times book review section of Charles Bukowski, a biography by Barry Miles, Ron Powers describes Bukowski's life of willful poverty, nearly constant drunkenness, bar-fights, arrests, whoring, volcanic feuds with almost everyone, liquor-induced hemorrhages and vomiting spells, apartment-smashing rampages, self-loathing and suicidal despair and asks, was it worth it?

Who knows, but from all that hardship and self-destruction came his brutal, profane and darkly hilarious poems, skeletal, self-referential (he wrote about nothing but himself, with almost frightening honesty), almost devoid of metaphor but alive with hard truth told in the language of down-and-out bars on down -nd-out streets in the down-and-out parts of town. To read Bukowski is to enter into a tornado of fury.

Toward the end of his life, he found a new life of ease that he talks about in some of his later poems with wry disbelief. His books and poetry collections began to sell as they never had before, beyond the cultists that had followed his work for years, and movies were made from his books.

This poem is about a part of that new life.

lunch in Beverly Hills

it's a shame, it's a damn shame,
sitting here at this table
spread with clean white tablecloth,
on a verandah overlooking Beverly Blvd.
a light lunch, you might even say a
business lunch, your lawyer has
collected some money due you from
a movie producer,
your bright energetic lady
lawyer, her assistant and my wife,
we eat and drink wine, and then order coffee and talk
mostly about the impending war
as at all the tables around us
there is more talk about the im-
pending war (although at the table just
behind us some men laugh loudly
so they must be talking about
something else).

I feel very strange, very odd
that we are sitting at this table
spread with an immaculate white
tablecloth with all the successful
people sitting here with us
with the war about to start
tomorrow
or next week
as we sit over wine and coffee
on a beautiful, clear day in
Beverly Hills.

and although I am guilty of nothing,
I feel guilty nonetheless.
I think that I would feel better about every
thing if I was sitting instead in a cheap room
with flies crawling my wine
cup.
not pleasant, of course, but at least it's war of
another kind.

but I am in Beverly Hills and that is
all there is to
it.

I reach for my gold card as I
twist in my chair and
ask the waiter for the
bill.








Here's another one that'll never get published anywhere


This is what happens whenever I get too close to the New York Times' Thursday science section


why I'll never be a realist

there is a theory
of symmetry
that refers
to a transformation
of one thing
to another thing
which is the reverse
of the first, creating
a reverse thing
transformable,
in turn,
back to the first
with an additional
transformation

according to the theory,
these back and forth
transformations
from symmetrical entities
can continue into infinity
without change to the first
unit upon which all subsequent
transformations are performed

but, this cannot be true
because, within
the confines of time,
nothing can ever be
as it was before

meaning
the image of me
in the mirror
is not the same me
who cast the image
and the me
who sees the image
is not the same
as the image shows,
which is before the me
looking and after the me
of the first image,
making the me
viewing the image twice removed in time
from the me who the image
is supposed to depict

reality, then,
in this cascading symmetry
of changing me's
and me depictions,
is the smallest increment
of time just past, out of reach,
in other words, to us forever




Time to go.

And now, a Thanksgiving joke to go out on.


A man in Phoenix calls his son in New York the day before Thanksgiving and says,"I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams. "We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her."

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this,"

She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at her father, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way."


Pretty lame. Thanksgiving doesn't seem to be such a great joke subject, unless you count stupid turkey jokes.

More seriously, check this out.

http://www.latimes.com/extras/navajo/Day1/

Exceptional photographs and a sad and haunting story. Thanks to my friend Bob Anderson for sending it to me.

Until next time.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



October Ends In Folds of Autumn Gold   Sunday, November 12, 2006





And we're back - "Here and Now" number I.xxii.





To begin, three short poems by 1990 Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz

Octavio Paz was born in 1914 and died in April, 1998.

These poems are from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987 edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger.


Brotherhood

(Homage to Claudis Ptolemy)

I am a man; little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.


Across

I turn the page of the day,
writing what I'm told
by the motion of your eyelashes.

             *

I enter you,
the truthfulness of dark.
I want proofs of darkness, want
to drink the black wine;
take my eyes and crush them.

             *

A drop of night
on your breast's tip:
mysteries of the carnation.

             *

Closing my eyes
I open them inside your eyes.

             *

Always awake
on its garnet bed:
your wet tongue.

             *

There are fountains
in the gardens of your veins

             *

With a mask of blood
I cross your thoughts blankly:
amnesia guides me
to the other side of life.


Example

A butterfly flew between the cars.
Maria Jose said: it must be Chuang Tzu,
on a tour of New York

                          But the butterfly
didn't know it was a butterfly
dreaming it was Chuang Tzu

                          or Chuang Tzu
dreaming he was a butterfly.
The butterfly never wondered:
                          it flew.






Roxie's back

Next in the continuing adventures of Bobbie Gogain's Roxie is this poem. So far, Roxie's story has taken her out a dry and burnt out marriage, through a relationship with a philandering beach boy, a new baby named Phoebe and a cat named Yippee.

Now, leaving the boyfriend behind, Roxie tries a new life.


Roxie Hides in Amish Country with Phoebe, Yippee and a Bottle of Black Ink

Knowing she could no longer
make fiction fact
or lose herself in eyes
that could not see,
Roxie found refuge from those
men whose words always
infuriated her or turned her on
by settling in Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania.

Though not allowed to move
directly into the Amish settlement,
Roxie rented a house
close enough to the entrance
that by wearing black frocks
and hiding her hair in a white kerchief,
she could mingle without
causing undue concern.

As she grew comfortable,
she began to write of boys in
battered straw hats, canned fruit
and forked hay.
She learned to listen
and watched Phoebe grow
along side the newly planted garden.

She loved the stories of the dark barns
with canopies of tobacco leaves
hanging in their furthest recesses,
as they reminded her of herself
curing in the hidden
sanctuary of simplicity.

She wore no watch,
lived the slow time
of the farmers,
baked schnitz pies,
made crabapple jelly
and studied the men folk.

She built a martin house
that had seven apartments and
a penthouse on the top level
from a kit she ordered.
She hoped for the happiness
the Amish believe the martins bring.

She made a quilt
but did not send it to
Romania.
She kept it,
a constant reminder
that lives can be patch worked
into complete wholes.
Mid-June, she donned a pair of jean cut-offs
and a Grateful Dead t-shirt,
brought the laptop down from
the closet shelf,
bought Yippee a flea collar
and the baby a bright
yellow bonnet.

Roxie was healing.







My time of the year

I love this time of the year, October, November, December, the brisk air in the morning, the clear skies, the north winds that come and blow the gunk of summer away. This year, though, my occasional project-by-project employment has me working through all three months. So, I'll just have to do with this poem I wrote last year to celebrate the season.

The poem has not been published.


at this time of the year

i
harvest moon

orange

with a little nick
on one side

a scrape
on the side
as the season
just here
begins to pass again

a break on the oval
so that if
you could turn
it on its side
it would hold steady
and not roll away

a large orange
table ornament
sitting bright
like a pumpkin
pulled from its field

needing only
triangle eyes
and jagged teeth
to mark the season

ii
look to the sky
this month

watch the bright new moon
as it darkens, leaves
and comes again

silver-white this time

in the icy grip
of winter

iii
leaves turn red

wither
to brown cinder

sap sinks
to roots below

gathers green
for life's renewal

not death
but deep in sleep

waiting

iv
chill bites
morning slumber

awake
now
to new day

new skies
cloudless blue
in clear, bright shiver

v
blue sky
reflected in puddles
on fresh-washed
sidewalks

summer's
dry heat broken
by cool north
breezes

sun after rain

like a smile
on the day

vi
blue,
such blue

a sky to be lost in

deep,
like a well
glistening with cool water

yet near,
touchable almost,
like the girl
in a boy's midnight dreams

and clear

no clouds,
nothing between me
and the bright welcome
of heaven's gate
but clean, open sky

and blue,
such blue





Always the gracious host, Casa Chiapas impresario Eddie Martinez welcomes poet Renee Gattas and me to our Friday night reading.


So much fun was had by all that talk has begun on making the second Friday of every month poetry night at Casa Chiapas, not so much for formal readings, but, instead, to set a time and place to get poets together around a table to talk and read to each other, both readers and listeners welcome.

Whether you are an central Texas poet, a just-passing-through-town poet, or a poetry lover wanting only to listen and maybe join in the discussion, email me at allen.itz@gmail.com if you think you might be interested in becoming a part of the monthly South Alamo Street Poetry Roundtable. We're going to work something out, maybe beginning as early as next month.






Jack Hill returns with a memory from childhood

Like Jack, I remember the first president I saw. It was Dwight Eisnehower and I was a just a little older than Jack is in this poem.

Although Roosevelt made fishing trips to Corpus Christi when he was president, getting a president to travel further into deep South Texas was rare to the point of unheard of in those days. Ike was possibly the first to visit. I remember seeing him pass in the back of a Cadillac, driving down US 83 on his way to Mission, Texas, to meet with area politicians (all Democrats in Texas in those days), including Hidalgo County Judge Lloyd Bentsen, then in his twenties and the youngest County Judge in the state, ever.

South Texas has become a mandatory stop during presidential elections now days, especially for Democrats, because of the very large population of Democrat-leaning Hispanic voters. As more and more winter visitors to the area from the mid-west (mostly Republican and entirely old) become permanent, year-around residents, national Republican candidates are beginning to show up also.

Turning such memory flashes as these into poems is one of the things Jack Hill does best.


The seeing of a President

To some I am tall
There are those that never
see the parade,
tall people always manage
to stand in front.

My father took me
and my brother to see
President Roosevelt...
dad brought a ladder.

We were short back then.







I had not heard of R S Thomas until I ran across a collection of his poems in a used bookstore.

Born in 1913, he died in 2000. He was a Welsh poet and Anglican Clergyman, noted for his nationalism and spirituality. Wikipedia describes him as the best known Welsh poet of his day.

Almost all of his work concerns his twin passions, the Welsh landscape and the Welsh people. Underlying these twin themes is politics. Even simple, lyrical descriptions of a hillside or a field can be read as a political statement. His views on the position of the Welsh as a conquered people are never far from the surface. His religious views, as might be expected from a clergyman, are also present in his works.

His earlier works focus on the personal stories of his parishioners, the farm laborers and working men and their wives. He debunks the cozy view of the traditional pastoral poem with harsh and vivid descriptions of life as it was lived in the valleys.

The beauty of the landscape, although ever-present, is never suggested as a compensation for the low pay or monotonous conditions of farm work.

I've barely begun to read the poems in the book, but I did run across this one, which I like very much.


The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of he lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you







For Veterans Day

I wrote this for Memorial Day and re-visit it today for Veterans Day. The poem was published in Mindfire


regrets - Veterans Day, 2006

soldiers
fallen in fields
of blood exploding

lying
now in fields
of quiet honor

sentenced
to this bloody,
honored end
by those of us
who did too little
when madness
became our rulers'
guiding passion







From Norwegian poet Rolf Jacobsen

Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994) was the first modernist writer in Norway, with a career as a writer that spanned more than fifty years. He launched poetic modernism in Norway with his first book, Jord og jern in 1933. Jacobsen's work has been translated into over twenty languages. A central theme in his work was the balance between nature and technology, which led to him being called the "Green Poet" of Norwegian literature.


Crust On Fresh Snow

My soul is hard as stone. I slept with the wind.
He's an unfaithful lover. Now he's with someone else.
He hummed words, prattled in my ear
and stroked my hair. I gave him all my whiteness.
I let him chisel dreams in my soul - of clouds,
fierce seas, and soft flowery hills.
Now I see, cold, it was them he loved.
Were is he now? Tonight my heart froze.


(Translated by Olav Grinde)






An old friend returns

Dave Ruslander appeared in one of the first issues of "Here and Now." Now, here he is again, with another poem from his book Voices In My Head.

You can get more information on Dave's book by clicking on "Voices in My Head" under the links listings on the right. It's a good book, with terrific poems and great art.

Still Winter

Ignoring the calendar,
spring floats into Virginia.
Tiny fingers of chlorophyll
tickle prehensile lips.

Dandelions wink back at the rising sun,
and the first wisps of pollen float atop the pond
before dithered shadows creep over the fields,
and the first thunderclap of spring
sets the horses loping across their field.

The tarnished sky begins to hammer,
the raised seam roof of my barn
and the chartreuse branches
of a weeping willow sway







From the original Hebrew, around 600 B.C.


Song of Songs

2:8-13

The sound of my lover
coming from the hills
quickly like a deer
upon the mountains

Now at my windows,
walking by the walls,
here at the lattices
he calls -

"Come with me,
my love,
come away

For the long wet months are past,
the rains have fed the earth
and left it bright with blossoms

Birds wing in the low sky,
dove and songbird singing
in the open air above

Earth nourishing tree and vine,
green fig and tender grape,
green and tender fragrance

Come with me,
my love,
come away"


(Translated by Marcia Falk)





A recent poem about an earlier time


it was the best year for Thunderbirds

I had a 1983
Thunderbird
when I was younger

it was the best year for Thunderbirds,
crappy machines in the years before
and rapidly returning to crappy
in the years after

a special year
for a special car

low,
sleek,
swept back like a rocket car
with paint deep, like glazed ceramic,
and the smooth feel of fine china

blue paint,
not just blue,
but the kind of blue you get in the sky
on a spring morning,
true blue,
not bleached and smoked by summer sun,
not darkened to near black by a winter norther
blowing in from West Texas
and the Great Plains

that kind of blue

an exceptional kind of blue

and an eight cylinder
engine that would go like a bat
when pushed

took it to 120 once, running down
a desolate stretch
of South Texas highway
between Riviera and Norias
floating like a butterfly with jet assist,
mesquite
and huisache
and King Ranch fence posts
flashing by faster than I could count them

scared the crap out of me and I never did it
again
but
god
what a feeling it was

but the best time
was a night
driving down Congress Avenue
in Austin,
listening to one of those Austin station
that played, one, two, three,
Willie
then Monk
then two guys on tubas
doing some kind of punk polka shit
and back to some outlaw
like David Allen Cole
or Waylon Jennings

a cool time
in the center of Texas cool
and I was in my sky blue Thunderbird
and I wasn't as old as I am now
and could still imagine myself cool
sometimes

jeez, I loved that car

ran the hell out of it
then traded it for a Pontiac station wagon
that turned out to have been in a fire
so I got rid of it real fast
and bought a Mitsubishi pickup,
a little brown turd of a vehicle

then I got old

and my Thunderbird
went to a junkyard somewhere
and ended up part of a Japanese
washer/dryer set
in a crab grass jungle
on the outskirts of the twenty-first century

and in that jungle I, too, dwell
awaiting similar
reclamation







A page from Langston Hughes

Theme for English B

The instructor said,

       Go home and write
       a page tonight.
       And let that page come out of you -
       Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eight Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It's not easy to know what is true for your or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me - we two - you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me - who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records - Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white -
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor to I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me -
although you're older - white -
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.






The shifting realities of "real"

In the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu celebrates the relativity of reality.

Verse 2, Relativity

We know beauty because there is ugly.
We know good because there is evil.
Being and not being,
having and not having,
creat each other.

Difficult and easy,
long and short,
high and low,
define each other,
just as before and after follow each other.

The dialectic of sound gives voice to music,
always transforming "is" from "was"
as the ancestor of "to be."

The wise teach without telling,
allow without commanding,
have without possessing,
care without claiming.

In this way we harvest eternal importance
because we never announce it.


(From Tao te Ching, A New Translation & Commentary by Ralph Alan Dale)





I'm well past the minimum 3,000 word goal that I set for myself each week, it's late and I'm sleepy, so it's time to quit.

Since I've restrained myself up to now from mentioning the election (gloat, gloat, gloat), I feel obligated to my fellow triumphants to close with a political joke about a little girl who is proud to be a Democrat...

A first grade teacher in the Midwest is explaining to her class that she is a Republican and how nice it is that a new Republican president has taken office. She asks her students to raise their hands if they, too, are Republicans and support George Bush. Everyone in class raises their hands except one little girl. "Mary," says the teacher with surprise, "why didn't you raise your hand?" "Because I'm not a Republican," says Mary. "Well, what are you?" asks the teacher. "I'm a Democrat and proud of it," replies the little girl. The teacher cannot believe her ears. "My goodness, Mary, why are you a Democrat?" she asks. "Well, my momma and papa are Democrats, so I'm a Democrat, too." "Well," says the teacher in an annoyed tone, "that's no reason for you to be a Democrat. You don't always have to be like your parents. What if your momma was a criminal and your papa was a criminal, too, what would you be then?" Mary thought, then smiled and said, "Then we'd be Republicans."

Until next week.

(gloat, gloat, gloat, not so much for the winners newly in, but mostly for the losers finally gone)





Well....maybe one more little thing with the election in mind. This thought from Shel Silverstein, with, I'm thinking, special resonance for Republicans.

Yuck

I stepped in something yucky
As I walked by the crick.
I grabbed a stick to scrape it off.
The yuck stuck to my stick.
I tried to pull it off the stick,
The yuck stuck to my hand.
I tried to wash it off - but it
Stuck to the washin' pan.
I called my dog to pull me loose,
The yuck stuck to his fur.
He rubbed himself against the cat,
The yuck stuck to her.
My friends and neighbors came to help -
Now all of us are stuck,
Which goes to show what happens
When one person steps in yuck.


Bye now.

For sure.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



return to 7beats
Previous Entries
Dawning of the Age of Precarious
It's True, Pigs Can Fly (but only on Air Force One...
Winners, Whiners, Weasels, Wafflers
Horst-Wessel Sing-Along Anyone? (Capturing the Zei...
What You Gonna Do When the Lies Run Dry, Senor Man...
Who Tolls the Bells at Truth's Execution
Whispers of Truth in a Gale of Lies
Where's Vladimir? (Closer than you think)
Whistling Past the Graveyard
And It's Another Fine Mess We've Gotten Us Into
Archives
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
Poems Niederngasse
BlazeVOX
Eclectica
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
zafusy
The Blogging Poet
Poetsarus.Com
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet