Good Morning, Springshine   Saturday, March 17, 2007



A couple of weeks ago, I took three text books to the college bookstore to sell back, roughly, I guess, about $300 worth of books when purchased for my son two years ago. Two of the books were "out of date" (text books, what a racket) and wouldn't be bought back. Apparently no new secrets of American history (1777 - 1877 ) have been unearthed, since they did buy that one back. For $10. Text books, what a racket, or did I already say that.

One the unsold books was a complete waste. But. the other, Literature And Its Writers by Ann Charters and Samuel Charters turned out to be a poetry gold mine.

So, welcome to "Here and Now" number II.3.3, all of which, except for my own work and the work of several on-line poets, comes from the text book. Plus, since there's lots of good poems for future use, I'll be able to quit lurking at the used book stores looking for cheap material for a while.







Half of the textbook is dedicated prose and half to poetry, with about half the poety aranged by topic, convenient for me. The first topic asks the question, what is a poem. To answer the question, they go to many poets, including Archibald MacLeish.


Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

****

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig in the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind _

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

****

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -

A poem should not mean
but be.








From Adam Elgar, appearing in "Here and Now" for the first time, we have this poem on the power of words.

Adam lives in Bristol, England, where, when he isn't writing poetry, he works as an educational consultant.


Fear of poetry

Words rear up at me unfettered,
toy like cats with ear and eye,
knife through my carapace
and conjure planets out of motes.

They bring me news from the gnarl
of an old tree; an earlobe's curl;
a bird's hot, avid life; the cracks
that weren't there yesterday.

Tomorrow they will empty all the cages
in the zoo, switch land and ocean
buoying, sinking me at will, (not mine,
yet mine) not mine this curse, blight,

obliteration by the sacred machine
that other hands tune, turn, twist
with no pretense of mercy, the mouse's
pursuit of the cat that hurts like joy.








The textbook I'm using for this week's poems has a short section on onomatopoeia, illustrated by this piece from Scottish poet Edwin Morgan.


Siesta of a Hungarian Snake

s sz sz SZ sz SZ sz SZ zs ZS zs zs z







Here's a new poem of mine, written earlier in the week; still being workshopped, very mixed views so far, praise is not abundant, but some say it's OK. Others are scathing in their review.


another day

I'm walking the neighborhood,
my regular circuit,
on a very early mid-March morning,
cool, but not cold,
damp from the storm last night,
a real thunder and lightning downpour
with water roaring down the creek
with a low-pitched rumble that woke me,
this morning's evidence of the rush,
high-water debris up twenty feet,
from the normal creek flow, almost to street level.

I've noticed on these early walks
that none of the neighborhood dogs bark
as I pass, strange, the quiet,
like light morning mist,
adding to the lost feel of the morning,
as if reality
has tried to slip away,
caught in the here and now
only by a ragged thread

I stop halfway across the metal foot bridge
that spans the larger creek
and soak up the feel of the morning,
trying to find some message for me,
some truth or even some fiction
that will help me take the day,

sun to the east, just a shadow of a light
rising, in the west the half-moon sets,
as sirens start,
multiple wails cueing the dogs
who wake and howl along,
and I see two fire trucks and two ambulances
pass on Evers, heading for the loop,
two and two, a big one, I think,
someone is dead or dying,
right now in this morning, on Loop 410
near here, their death, the final knotting
of all the threads of their life, as inconsequential to me
as my continued living is bitter trivia to them

the moon sets,
the sun completes its rising,
and it's monday,
another day






Painting by Blas Hernandez Jr. and Rita Ramos



The text uses a number of poems in its discussion of the sonnet. One of my favorites is this one, by Rita Dove, the second African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize and first Black and, also, the youngest, Poet Laureate of the United States.


Sonnet in Primary Colors

This is for the woman with one black wing
perched over her eyes, lovely Frieda, erect
among parrots, in the stern petticoats of the peasant,
who painted herself a present -
wildflowers entwining the plaster corset
her spine resides in, that flaming pillar -
this priestess in the romance of mirrors.

Each night she lay down in pain and rose
to the celluloid butterflies of her Beloved Dead,
Lenin and Marx and Stalin arrayed at the footstead.
And rose to her easel, the hundred dogs panting
like children along the graveled walls of the garden, Diego's
love a skull in the circular window
of the thumbprint searing her inimitable brow.








Here's a poem from Jane Roken, one of our most frequent contributors. Jane writes of her love of the daring young man in the flying machine.


Love in the air

I'll tell you about one thing
that really turns me on:
aerobatics

loops and turns
rolls and sideslips
nosedives, yaws and upside-downs
come on, lay it on me
I can never get enough

that very special sound
of the powerful engine
throttled down
up there in the air and then
the silver sparkle
of the noiseless movement
the awful
timeless
beauty of it -
and then the lusty roar
of the engine
kicked to life again
and the rise of the beast

one quiet afternoon
on a hilltop I heard
the familiar chant
of a single engine
of that very special kind

looking up I saw
a little biplane
of that very special build
and o, with giddy patterns
painted on the wings

he circled lower,
closer,
almost flirtatious

I waved up to him,
he dipped a wing to me,
it was galvanic!

he climbed, up, up, high up
I sent him a thought:
roll for me -
and o, he did
he cut the engine, banked
and rolled
for me -
perfect barrel rolls, triple!

ye gods, how I loved that man
in that moment

not so much for his antics in the air
as for that magic flash
of instant communication








Now, a poem from a couple of months ago. It is possible I may have already used it, but, even so, it is an excellent companion to this new photo.

The poem appeared in Mindfire Renewed, which has since ceased publication. Previous issues are still on-line and can be reached using the link on the right.


warrior queen

she walks,
no, not walks,
strides
with the air
of a warrior queen,
her short skirt
flowing
with every step,
swished
by her swinging hips
in waves
like froth on a swelling sea

her left leg,
firm and tan,
flexing
with every step
and the other
a construct
of metal parts
like the cyborg
in the first Terminator
rising
from the flames
free of artificial flesh
that hid the true power
of its titanium frame,
the girl's leg just like that,
a beautiful machine
of gleaming rods
and levers and joints
that move smoothly
like oil on glass
with every step

how can we not
be entranced
when something
usually dark
and hidden from us
is revealed
in all its unexpected
beauty








Elizabeth Bishop, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as two Guggenheim fellowships, wrote this poem, used in the textbook as illustration of a sestina. In addition to her other awards, she was also the first woman to receive the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and, as of publication of the textbook, remained the only American to receive that prize.

Sestina

September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove,
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It's time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle's small hard tears
dance like mad on the black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood on the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove,
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.








Some months ago I was doing a reading in a coffee shop. Four or five of us had been invited to read that night. The reader before me was a young woman, maybe twenty five years old, but no older. She was a good reader reading a very good poem, but when she got to the point in the poem where she was talking about the last blow-job she gave her boyfriend, I began to look around, wondering if Toto was still with me or if I had left him in Kansas.

This level of self-revelatory honesty and directness in the work of some young writers can shock older poets, including even Bukowski and Rimbaud lovers like me. I mean, it's hard to imagine being more emotionally self-revelatory than most anything of Bukowski's and equally hard to imagine anything more explicit and direct than Rimbaud's Sonnet to an Asshole.

So why are we (people like me; people of my age) so shocked now. A couple of reasons, I think.

First, writers of my age grew up in a censor's world. Everything was vetted through a what-can we-get-away-with-today filter. We read closely our mail copy of Evergreen Review (when it could get through the postal censors) and we admired Nobokov and Lawrence and Miller and Genet and the rest for their art and courage, but we knew Evergreen was not going to show up on our local book and magazine shelves (hell, in many places, even airbrushedPlayboy had to be bought from under the counter) and we knew that, however much we admired them and their art, Nobokov and Lawrence and the others were not going to be making that art anywhere near where we lived.

And the other thing is Rimbaud and the rest are dead and therefore unable to be either embarrassed or embarrassing. Not at all like a pretty young woman talking about blow-jobs.

Younger writers not only do not live in the world I grew up in, they have trouble even imagining such a writing environment. To many of them, all words are pure in that they have meaning, period. They are artifacts of communication, period, free of social, legal or religious ramifications or acceptance.

But words are not pure and neutral and they have real power for good and for bad. The bad is found in things like the "eat shit and die" t-shirts you see on the backs of fifteen year olds at the mall.

The good is a tough poem like this one by Iowa poet Justin Hyde.

He's a first-timer here at "Here and Now," with this terrific, in-you-face poem I know is going to push some buttons.

Justin has a chapbook pending. When it is available, I'll include information here.


behind the times

i've never owned a
cell phone
or an ipod.
there's a satellite dish on top of my house
from the previous owner,
but i don't have a tv.
looking up from my notebook
i see
all the cows playing fiddlesticks on laptops,
i've got a computer at home
dried jizz on the keyboard
and dial-up siphoned from the in-laws account.
the wife finally got hold of the records
from my childhood dentist,
i put up with a-lot of your bullshit
she jams the paper in my face,
but you can't go thirteen fucking years
without seeing a dentist,
what are you going to do when all your teeth fall out?
i set my forty down
and explain how
loosing a few chicklets
might lead to winning a whistling contest
or better yet
make me hideous enough
to be excused
from the tedious duty
of dicking her.








The textbook uses several poets to illustrate the "imaginist" poets, including a piece by the original imaginist Ezra Pound, which requires a bit more imagining than I can conjure, and William Carlos Williams' The Red Wheelbarrow, which I love for its mystery and daring. The text also uses this poem by poet/insurance executive Wallace Stevens, which can be seen as a series of imaginist poems strung together on a common theme or image.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I
Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds

III
The blackbird whistled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I don not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow the the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you so imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the woman about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be fling.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.








And now, here's a second poem from Jane Roken


Timeline

in the dreamtime there were no roads in the sky
only
scattered footprints on our days and nights
still damp from the fresh dew -
no demands did we know, no promises
no fear held us

but now
the rumor goes, of endless
processions, pilgrimages, migrations,
marching columns toward the frontier,
toward the heavy tollgates -
their eyes afraid and full of flight
like pigeons flushed from the wetlands,
heading up to town
finding the main street lined
with empty, somnolent balconies
blindfolded windows
visionless orioles facing blind alleys,
blazing sun, silvery blizzards
and rusty dust whirling everywhere

but
in the dreamtime
we shall know no roads
we shall need no guidance








This poem may also have appeared here before, but, again, a new photo seemed to me to capture the playful nature I had intended for the poem.

The poem is included in my book Seven Beats a Second, and, a couple of years before that, was published by beatnik, a neat little journal that has since disappeared from the web. This is a poem I liked that it seemed no one else did. Over a period of a couple of years, I submitted the poem to eight different journals who turned it down. beatnik was the ninth submission.


cowboys and indians

redskins on the warpath
   whooping
chasing cowboys
   across
bonyback ridge
   down
sidewinder trail
   past
that same big
saguaro cactus

     look
     there it is again

war bonnets streaming
cowboy hats flapping
   in the wind
shooting forward
shooting back
   whooping
horses falling
   goddam
   ain't
it fun to be
a movie star







One of the poems the text uses to illustrate "war poems" is this one by Randall Jarrell, possibly the best known of his poems, ending with an image later reiterated by Joseph Heller in Catch 22.


The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the state
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters,
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.








I wrote this a couple of years ago. Originally, I tried to make a poem out of it, but I think it works much better as a prose piece.


Neighbors



Ol' Miz Pritty was one of our neighbors when I was a kid. She was short, round as one of my mom's dumplings, with gray hair she wore in a bun so tight it looked like she'd have to work to blink.

She roamed around the neighborhood in a tattered house dress and fuzzy house slippers, waving her wattles in the wind, crazy as a hoot, nosy as a goat, always minding eveyone's business, telling tales on all us kids, even telling stories on our dogs.

"I saw your old dog (that was Scoot, my terrier/wayfaring stranger mix dog) out on the road yesterday," she'd say to me. "You better keep that old dog at home or I'll be having runned-over stew for sure."

I didn't like her, and ol' Scoot knew about her, too. Always ran for cover when he saw her coming.

Miz Pritty kept a careful close eye on the Blairs in the big house across the street. She was always taking them pot pies and king ranch casserole dishes because they were old and childless and didn't have anyone to watch out for them.

And they were rich.

And Miz Pritty was sure in her on mind that she'd get paid back for all the pot pies and casseroles when they died and she inherited all their money, which she figured would be pretty soon, since they were always so skinny and sickly looking and hacking and coughing from all their cigarette smoking.

"Smells like a crematorium in there," Miz Pritty would confide to whoever would listen, "and filthy, too."

But it turned out the Blairs were heavy drinkers, drunks, Miz Pritty would say, as well as reckless investors in Florida real estate, so they died almost broke, with just a little left over to take care of ol' Red Blair’s hunting dogs that he loved like they were his kids.

Miz Pritty died, too, about a week later. It was the disappointment, no doubt,that killed her when she learned she was still poor after all those pot pies and all those casseroles and all those years thinking she was going to be rich any day now.

Just about everybody in the neighborhood turned out to see ol' Mis Pritty put in the ground, mostly to see if her son showed up so they could see if all the stories she told about him being a rich lawyer with a big house in Houston were true.

Most folks weren't sure what a rich lawyer from Houston ought to look like, but most agreed that Danny Pritty, when he showed up, looked pretty seedy and not very rich at all.

But there was at least one person there who seemed really sorry to see the old lady gone. That was ol' Santiago from down the street, which puzzled everyone until they stated remembering seeming him and her all of a sudden having tacos together over at Dairy Queen several nights a week.

Could be there was something there, most thought. He was a good-looking man with white hair and a white mustache and a straw hat he wore most of the time, no matter what the season or weather.

Good-looking or not, most thought he was kind of strange, having not much English and rarely talking to the other folks in the neighborhood. The thought of him and Miz Pritty together made him seem even stranger to most everyone.

But me and my friend Rusty liked him pretty well. He'd give us a nickel for each blackbird we shot and took to him, so we thought he was just fine, even though when we asked him what he was doing with all the dead blackbirds he always said he was making a mess of blackbird pie and offered to give us some. I don't know, but my own feeling was that he just liked to give Rusty and me nickels or else he just didn't like having so many blackbirds around.

Rusty was a runty little redheaded kid with one eye brown and one eye blue and he was a good friend, my best friend, probably. We played together every day for three years until he blowed off two of his toes playing with firecrackers and moved away to Kansas or or Iowa or some place like that.

I sent ol' Rusty a real live horny toad one time, in a box with holes punched in the top, but never did see him again.








Gary Soto was born in 1952 in Fresno, California. Working in the fields and factories in the Fresno area, he went to college after completing high school intending to study urban planning. Instead he ended up a well-known and admired teacher and poet.


Mexicans Begin Jogging

At the factory I worked
In the fleck of rubber, under the press
Of an oven yellow with flame,
Until the border patrol opened
Their vans and my boss waved for us to run.
"Over the fence, Soto," he shouted,
And I shouted back that I was American.
"No time for lies," he said and pressed
a dollar in my palm, hurrying me
Through the back door.
Since I was on his time, I ran
And became the wag to a short tail of Mexicans -
Ran past the amazed crowds that lined
The street and blurred like photographs, in rain.
I ran from the industrial road to the soft
Houses where people paled at the turn of an autumn sky.
What could I do but yell "vivas"
To baseball, milkshakes, and those sociologists
Who would clock me
As I jog into the next century
On the power of a great, silly grin.








The text uses a number of poets to illustrate poems of protest and social concern. Among the most interesting is a poem by Russian poetAnna Akhmatova pen name of Anna Andreevna Gorenko. Born in shortly before the turn of the century, Akhmatova survived both the revolution and various purges of the Soviet era, although there was a long period (1925-1952) when she was not allowed to publish and many in the West came to assume she was dead.


Instead of a Preface

     In the terrible years of Yezhov terror I spent seventeen months waiting in line outside the prison in Leningrad. One day somebody in the crowd identified me. Standing behind me was a woman, with lips blue from the cold, who had, of curse; never heard me called by name before. Now she started out of the torpor common to us all and asked me in a whisper (everyone whispered there):
     "Can you describe this?"
     And I said, "I can."
     Then something like a smile passed fleetingly over what had once been here face.


(Translated byRichard McKane)







The textbook uses a number of poems by Langston Hughes, including this one. I have used many Hughes poems in “Here and Now” because I like the elegance of his style and the soft way he can say hard things.


Florida Road Workers

Hey, Buddy!
Look at me!

I'm makin' a road
For the cars to fly by on.
Makin' a road
Through the palmetto thicket
For light and civilization
To travel on.

I’m makin' a road
For the rich to sweep over
In their big cars
And leave me standin' here.

Sure,
A road helps everybody.
Rich folks ride -
And I get to see 'em ride.
I ain't never seen nobody
Ride so fine before.
Hey, Buddy, look!
I'm makin' a road.








This is from several years ago. It's not a poem that any editor is going to put on their list of things they have to publish before they're lost to the ages, but it was fun to write.


made for each other

it's a wrap,
she said

                (she, a drama student for two
                semesters at Wharton Junior
                College, said that sort of thing)

but wait,
I said,
my best is
yet to come

                me, a late starter in most aspects
                of life, said that sort of thing)

your best done
be walking
out de door,
bebeyaba
doowapa
doowap
waa,ohhh
yeah....

                (she, a long time devotee of the
                late, ever so great Scatman
                Crothers, said that sort of thing)

and closed
the door
behind her

well, snap my
s'penders
and flap my
jacks on
grandma's
griddle, I
said, I'm
gonna miss
that little
lady, fer
sure, fer
sure

                (me, a true soul brother of
                Mayberry's ever so great Gomer
                Pyle, said that sort of thing)

and went back
to sleep, thinking
we were made
for each other








Also under the rubric of social issue poems, the text includes this piece by Audre Lorde, who we've seen before on "Here and Now."


Hanging Fire

I was fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his thumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
before morning
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed.

I have to learn how to dance
in time for the next party
my room is too small for me
suppose I die before graduation
they will sing sad melodies
but finally
tell the truth about me
There is nothing I want to do
and too much
that has to be done
and momma's n the bedroom
with the door closed.

Nobody even stops to think
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed.








One section of the textbook speaks of poets writing tributes to other poets. One of the poems presented in that section is this, from Allen Ginsberg.


A Supermarket in California

      What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down
the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the moon.
      In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
      What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night!
Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! - and
you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons!

      I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among
the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
      I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What
price bananas? Are you my angel?
      I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and
followed in my imagination by the store detective.
      We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting
artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

      Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which
way does your beard point tonight?
      (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel
absurd.)
      Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to
shade, lights out in houses, we'll both be lonely.
      Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles
in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
      Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage teacher, what America did
you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking
bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe.

      Berkeley, 1955








I wrote this piece in March, two years ago, and never did anything with it. That's the problem with seasonal things like this. To submit on a timely basis, you have to send it off months before the season because that's when journals are selecting poems for their seasonal issue.

I always forget until it's too late.


among the lessons of spring

new buds, tight
like little baby fists
emerge as seasons prepare
to pass, as another year
begins to slip away
like a river flowing
past the markers of a life,
all the moments of our life
large and small
passing by in the silence
of already done
our piece of the river,
passing
in ripples and eddies
that swirl and bubble
and are gone

new buds that will flower
with us or without us

this is among
the first lessons of spring








Every parent has lived this poem by Linda Pastan, known for writing short poems that address topics like family life, domesticity, motherhood, the female experience, aging, death, loss and the fear of loss, as well as the fragility of life and relationships.

She has published at least 12 books of poetry and a number of essays. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Di Castagnola Award, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Maurice English Award, the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Two of her collections of poems were nominated for the National Book Award and one for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

To a Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while your grew smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving
goodbye.








We end this week with the unfailingly gentle and introspective work of Gary Blankenship. This poem is from his book A River Transformed: Wang Wei's River Wang Poems as Inspiration.

When channeling Wang Wei, Gary seems to achieve a melding of absolute reality, through use of specific, tangible detail, and a dreamlike feeling that the reality of the poem is about half a dimension separated from our reality.

Wish I could do that.


After Wang Wei's Lacquer Tree Garden (19) - Before A Teacher, a Student


I've harvested bitter weeds and broken rush,
my knives sharpened with ancient stones.
I've fed cats, studied the lyrics of crows,
and searched a gated corral for lost oxen.

I hold my left hand in front of me,
it does not clap.

My ears ring from sound of broken pottery,
my eyes dim decipher the difference
between blue and green, forest and tree -
The question unanswered, the hills empty.

I pruned an apple tree to its trunk,
its new fruit wormy.

Follow a bent old man through tall grass,
and trousers soaked, gather barbs.






Painting by Blas Hernandez Jr. and Rita Ramos


A couple of end notes:

The Second Friday on the Third Friday Poetry Table at Cafe Chiapas went about as well as could be expected, given the circumstances. We continue to try to increase participation at the table and are encouraged that people have come by Casa Chiapas to inquire. Now, if we could just get them to come and inquire on the nights we're there.

I'm convinced that if someone comes once, they'll be back. It's interactive reading as a collaboation with other poets, the best way I know of to read and be read to.

Also, I'm pleased to report that one of my poems I featured here several weeks ago, greetings, is appearing now in the Spring issue of Loch Raven Review. It's a great journal with some of the best writers on the web. You can get to it via the link on the right.

Until next week.

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