Here's The Skinny   Saturday, June 30, 2007


II.6.5




Running a little late this week, technical problems at every turn. But here we are.







We start this week with Beki Reese. She's been with us before with a longer piece, but her first love as a poet is haiku and other short forms.

Here are several new poems from Beki,


meadow sunlight -
one blue butterfly
basks on my wrist


this hole in my heart
where my son's smile should be -
unspeakable pain


venus swings
from a crescent moon -
grandfather's clock


and a few older ones....


hopeless night -
my son reaches painfully
for morning


winter sunset -
skyflame tips the western hills
with crimson


moonless night -
missing
my shadow


seaside neon -
waves shimmer red and green
beneath the pier







we haven't used anything from Jane Hirshfield in a while. She's too good to ignore any longer. Here's one of her poems from her book Of Gravity & Angels,


Surrounded By All The Falling

After four days of rain
sunlight fills the branches like returning birds,
one of those flocks men believed
they could shoot at forever and never reach the end.
They went fluttering, one by one,
to extinction in seven years.

But this day startles in its sudden gold,
its colored persimmons, rust and fallen
pine needles blond as a child's hair on the barber's floor;
the sound of his snipping businesslike and crisp.
When loss reachers her, she cannot even cry out,
But where has it gone?
And the sky is so utterly blue it can barely be faced.
It is time to plant bulbs again,
to fork and seed the empty beds into flower.
I turn to feel the sleep-warmth of your hands,
the even breathing that tells me you are close by...
it is still the only story that lets me wake content,
emerge from all the falling of dreams,
the crowded harbor of ships whose riggings
ring like bells,
dance like circus wires.

The girl slides down from the swiveling chair,
her hair combed to new curls.
Soon enough,
I can tell by the day's
windowed, blowsy beauty, it will begin to snow.
She will lie down in it, carefully move
her arms once up, once down

and rise to contemplate quietly, a long time,
the wings she has carved herself out of the cold.







San Antonio is a city of hills, with lots of dry to nearly dry creeks at the bottom of each hill. The picture of the creek behind our house is from a couple of months ago after a moderate rain that brought it from it's summertime half inch to inch depth to four to five feet. The rain yesterday brought it up to about double that.

This poem is about the more moderate rain, nothing nearly so threatening as what we had yesterday.




piddy plop puddly drop

I woke
to the sound
of rain on the roof
and the metal pitter
drip
of it falling from the eaves
to the air conditioner
right outside my window

it was about two
in the afternoon

I was in my recliner
and kitty pride was in my lap

reba lay on the floor
beside me

I stirred
when I woke
and that woke the cat who
in turn
woke reba
when she jumped
grumpily
to the floor

she lay down
and reba stood up
and I reclined back again
in my chair

a moment of silent
appreciation
of the wet outside
and we all reassumed
our prior positions
me laid back,
kitty pride in my lap
and reba beside me on the floor

turns out
after that moment
of quiet consultation
we all agreed there is
no better place to be
on a wet thursday afternoon
than asleep in the house
breathing
to the rhythm
of piddy-plop
puddly-drop
rain
on a wet shingle
roof







Maryland poet, Lucy Partlow, turns union organizer with this poem, on behalf of half or more of the world's workforce.

This poem is from from the anthology of new poets, bum rush the page.


Overworked

After we
ovulate
menstruate
gestate
lactate
procreate
and prostrate ourselves to creation....

After we
raise children
raise grandchildren
raise men
raise hell
and raise the dead in tribal dances....

After we
clean house
clean clothes
clean collard greens
clean people's stores
and clean up the aftermath of wars....

After we save souls
save schools
save tree
save whales
save e the world from eternal damnation....

After we do
the impossible
the improbable
the unthinkable....

Must we also put out the trash?








I wrote this piece last week. It intended as a fluff piece, humor arising from exaggerating the way we all feel when parents bring children into a public place and let them run wild, neither minding nor monitoring the child. There seems to be more and more of that now days, as if the parents think that the rest of us, having raised our own children, really, really want to baby-sit their kids while they, the parents, sip their latte and pretend the brats belong to someone else.

The humor of the piece was not appreciated by all. On one workshop, it was suggested that I should die and maybe come back as a kinder person.

Here's the piece.


little darling

there's this kid
who has started
to come in with
her mother
every afternoon
about two o’clock
who,
within her skinny
little five year old body,
harbors the loudest,
sharpest, most
fingernail-on-the
blackboard voice
to ever assault
the tender parts
of my ear

I'm not normally
one
to contemplate
violence
against children
but this kid pushes
me to the brink,
the very edge of
my tolerance,
to that point where
the nice
kindly
peaceful
cherub cheeked
animal-loving
child-doting
man
I by nature
am
explodes
in a moment
of bloody
slavering
murder and mayhem

basically
after a minute
and a half of
what has become
a daily ritual
of curly haired
doe eyed
cacaphononic
squawking
like a myna bird
with a heavy metal
amp
I want to strangle
the child
or the mother.
either one
really,
I don't care,
as long
as the kid shuts up

now I realize
this little monster
is someone's
beloved
daughter
and granddaughter,
the apple,
likely,
of many eyes,
somebody's sun
on cloudy days,
another's moon
on a starless night,
a new little
life
placed on this world
to someday take
the place of old folks
like me and maybe
you,
a new life
sent here maybe
to save the world
from the careless
hands
of the likes of you
and I

I understand
all this
and in recognition
of it
I will not chase
the kid down
and and apply
to her skinny
little neck
the
boa
constrictor trick
I learned while
trekking
alone
through the steamy
jungles
of borneo

no,
I will not do that,
at least not
as long as
she remains
on the other side
of the room

but
if the little ogre
ever comes within
arm’s length
she will experience
the epiphany of
her young life
as the fearsome wrath
of an old man
disturbed
becomes plain to
her







Canadian poet and friend of "Here and Now" Don Schaeffer has been with us before. Here he is again with one of his newest poems.


shyness comes of age

I think civilization is amazing.
Especially when I sit here,
look into your eyes and see

only the darkest mystery.
Why can't I bring myself to assume
that you are just like me. I spent

a lifetime moving about in a forest
of things I supposed we have in common.
I'm still astonished how we pass each other in peace,

that you are tame. Now I am preparing
for the long, private time in which everything
belongs to me.







Rosalia de Castro was a native of Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. A highly respected poet of her time, she wrote in both Galician and Castilian.

May 17, 1863, the date she published Galician Song, her first collection of poetry in Galician, is commemorated every year as the Día das Letras Galegas (Galician Literature Day), an official holiday of the Autonomous Community of Galicia since 1963.

Relative poverty and sadness marked her life, although she had a strong sense of commitment to the poor and to the defenseless. She was a strong opponent of abuse of authority and defender of women's rights.

Her image appeared on the 500 peseta Spanish banknote.

This poem is from the anthology Voices of Light: Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women Around the World From Ancient Sumeria to Now (mouthful of a book title), edited by Aliki Barnstone.


They say that plants don't talk

They say that plants don't talk, nor do
  brooks or birds,
nor the wave with its chatter, nor stars
  with their shine.
They say it but it's not true, for whenever
  I walk by
they whisper and yell about me
          "There goes that crazy woman dreaming
of life's endless spring and of fields
and soon, very soon, her hair
  will be gray.
She sees the shaking, terrified frost
  cover the meadow."
There are gray hairs in my head; there is frost
  on the meadows,
but I go on dreaming - a poor, incurable
  sleepwalker -
of life's endless spring that is receding
and the perennial freshness of fields
  and souls,
although fields dry and souls burn up
Stars and brooks and flowers! Don't gossip about
  my dreams:
without them how could I admire you? How could
  I live?

(Translated by Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone)







I agree with Rosalia de Castro, plants do talk. They just don't talk to us. Here's a poem I wrote last week on the conversation that eludes us.


neighborhood watch

evolution
stops with us
we claim, but
what if the mother,
so threatened by us,
changes the game,
abandons
species by species
adaptation
and begins global
change, planet-wide
evolution
to rid
the future
of the deprecation
that is
us

like when delousing
the dog
the waters are
risen







Here are some, thoughts from Puerto Rican poet and essayist Victor Hernandez Cruz on poetry and a particular poet who is now on my "look for" list.


Entreversion

Poetry is the flowers which grow out of experience, after turmoil comes contemplation: mother-of-pearl boats on the Pacific. It is peaceful thought that rhythmically dances with and explains, reacts to reality. Music is a biological treatment upon the nerves totally destroying us. Poetry enters through reason and makes us disappear; the heavens could be similar, but everyone uses different transportation.

With Juan Felipe Herrera we could say that his mind is at his ankles, in his belly or somehow ahead of you in the room you are about to enter. In the person and in the poetry the entity knows no limitations - his light zooms down on Mexico City, San Diego, the mission district of San Francisco, Cactus; it swings from Cactus into the imagery of the 1950s. We get views of small California towns and pre-urban characters who saw the constructgion trucks en route towards the city carrying the materials to build skyscrapers.

The mark of a great poem is the administration of balance, between action and meditation, the earthly and celestial, the imaginative life flirting with the practical. Within Juan Felipe's poetry we find this quality present as if organically, it is there without the need of strenuous thought to mold it.

Think of the crossroads he is suspended in: linguistically, Spanish and English. Through Spanish he is connected to the great poetic pulse of Spain and Latin America, to the singers of Boleros and cultivators of El Cuento. His mind is constantly translating back and forth between two world languages, and we are all the more enriched by his method of synthesis. The Spanish of the Americas unifies diversities. It has been infused with indigenous and African vocabularies. As such, it is the language of evolution, it secretly contains old Arabian tales and ancient native mythological flashbacks - Herrera is drippling all this through the tongue of Milton and Shakespeare. But, his English is not English. He might not be able to go to Margaret Thatcher's house with his Hispanectical hybrid verses. But neither would Thatcher be able to visit his adobe, making the vacuum for her much greater 'cause there's a mean chili at Juan Felipe's place that could stretch your tongue beyond the confines of your cheek.

His poetry expands without missing the minute, he takes local issues into the stars, he listens to the suggestions made by neighborhood folklore and takes it beyond the horizon. I was going to say minuet instead of minute because it is also a dance of organized flurries. Look at that or quickly followed by another or to go on to ganized: he breaks the language down in that manner, occasionally exploding into sculpture.

He is a learned poet mixing reality to the explosion of language sound. He is interested in both the shape and meaning of his deliveries, he filters all global cultures through his classical seashell. History and politics weave through the poetry in non dogmatic forms. Study how he could mix the qualities of an essay into a lyric. He sets the issue of politics versus art for us into perspective; he is looking for a liberation that is much more than just physical rupture, he unhinges our mineds from colonialisms and imperialism whether personal for governmental with the intonations of his words. he knows that the space of nature will blast through all the polemics - he seems to know what people are mean even when they themselves don't know what they are saying.

Juan Felipe Herrera is as close as we come to a total express mechanism. His senses are not just multicultural; they are coming at us through a variety of artistic forms. He is a writer, poet, musician and actor; he could make you the rail carrying a train-shaped blues guitar. He lives on the wires connecting all forms, and readers of this book are only getting a glimpse of what he is doing - you must imagine the gestures, the pantomime, the street talker, the singer. His inventive somersaults are always packed with a parade of information that helps us live the now. When he writes about events that have occurred, they seem to be following him; that is because he knows the symbols and is not fooled by anything, not stuck on trivial facts. His poetry reveals to us and leaves us naked in that mirror. Because it is a game that the Gods are playing.







Here's another piece I wrote last week about the struggle that comes with self-evaluation.




drowning puppies

working on the new
book

looking at everything written
this year and last,
I eliminate
the obvious turkeys,
ruthless
with my ax,
begone
fowl
failures
and never come back

we look at what's left

too many
so good business practice
is required.

I task my two assistants
with a rating challenge

grade the remainders

grade one, definite
for the book

grade two, maybe
maybe not

grade three, out
with the turkeys

but, wait,
how could that one
be a three,
it's one of my
favorites,
so well written,
so deep
in meaning
and finer feeling

how can it be?

oh,
not that one, too

and that one
and that one
and
oh, no,
not that one

my little spotty
pups
of a poem,
whimpering
as in the drowning
sack
they go

maybe
I could
just
make
a bigger
book







Next, we have a poem from Jane Alberdeston-Carolin. Her poems have appeared in Bilingual Press, Press, and Step into the World: Global Anthology of the New Black Literature. She is also author of The Afrotaina Dreams.

This is the second poem this week from bum rush the page.


Rosa's Beauty

it was a ritual
one Saturday a month
storm or shine, broke or not
Mami would drive us to Rosa's Beauty
near la 17 in Santurce
where a barrio's history is the mad work
of knives and men

but there we were on our way to get our hair done
to be called "chinitas"
straighten out kinks we couldn't correct in our everyday
couldn't make family better, bring fathers back home
but we could look real nice
like real Puerto Rican girls should

it was like walking into your girlfriend's house
Rosa's, with its lime green tile floor,
slippery with black hair clippings
under a forest of high-heeled, flip-flopped women
spitting fire in Dominican Spanish
frying pan hot, ahi in each word
room aflame with their lipstick
all talking the same bochinche
about who was doing who
and who got deported off the island
and what puta cut what cabron

five hours amid smoke and ash
lotions and dyes tinting the air
scissors and mouths moving
to any mambo radio tunes
and by then my head was burning alive
with the power of the relaxer
unable to wash it out
for fear of staying black
and we all knew that's what we didn't want

we wanted to shake our hair
(since we couldn't shake our skin)
loosen wool into Chinese silk
smooth flat and fine for feathering
on Antillian days under salt and sun
ruining a girl's reputation for
looking right and good
now I'm thirty
and a box of Dark and Lovely is a stinging
memory of a young girl's addiction
dishonoring the women born of the coastline
mother, grandmother, before even them
women swimming seas, bearing storms, fighting misery
with hair stronger than the ropes that held them.







Here is an extraordinarily sad and, if you're old enough to have lost your assumption of immortality, scary poem from Gary Blankenship, good friend of and frequent contributor to "Here and Now."


The Days of Our Lives

The hallway smells of urine and disinfectant
except on Wednesday
when it stinks of a tasteless Mexican dinner
and Saturday when She visits
with her strident voice and cheap perfume

My wheelchair sits at an intersection
of three corridors where I can count visitors
even though I can't tell who they are
but can hear the staff as they gossip
about their dates and grumble about the guests

If I slump
my blanket slips
I cry out in pain
I can't drink my lunch

eventually some one helps me
usually after their chatter about yesterday's soaps
and bowling team assignations is finished

They think I am dead
but my brain lives
only my body is dormant
along with the neurons that allow me
to pass on my needs

They think I am dead
but I've only entered the First Circle -
a hallway in the west wing
of the Angel Haven Rest Home

where I wait for She
who calls me Pop
to move me to the Ninth Circle





Painting by Rachael Gonzales



Nostalgia, it's the bane and the balm of age. Here's some of mine.



chuck berry gets them dancing

chuck berry
is rocking
and rolling
from the speaker
overhead
and every head
in the cafe
is nodding
and every toe
is tapping
and I'm taken
back
fifty years
to the little
gym
in my little
high school,
everyone
in their socks
hopping
and bopping,
waiting
for the next
slow dance
when I can
hold you close
and feel your
hand
damp in mine
and your soft
breath warm
in my
ear





Next, we have a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, written during WWII and included in her collection Selected Poems published in 1963.

the progress

and still we wear our uniforms, follow
The cracked cry of the bugles, comb and brush
Our pride and prejudice, doctor the sallow
Initial ardor, wish to keep it fresh.
Still we applaud the President's voice and face.
Still we remark on patriotism, sing,
Salute the flag, thrill heavily, rejoice
For death of men who too saluted, sang.
But inward grows a soberness, an awe,
A fear, a deepening hollow through the cold.
For even if we come out standing up
How shall we smile, congratulate: and how
Settle in chairs? Listen, listen. The step
Of iron feet again. And again wild.







I was struggling in a parking lot the other day, trying to get a shot of a nice sunset, without all the wires and light poles and buildings that get in the way when you're trying to get a picture in the city.

Then I happened to turn around and found a softer kind of beauty.


fresco on the other side of sunset

a ridge of low
clouds
pink
as cotton candy
against billows
of virgin white

above the
clouds, a
mediterranean
sky







Our next poem is by Audre Lorde and is from her book The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance,


Dear Joe

if you have ever tried to reach me
and I could not hear you
these words are in place of the dead air
still between us.
- "Morning is a Time for Miracles"


How many other dark young men at 33
left their public life      becoming legend
the mysterious connection
between whom we murder
and whom we mourn

Everyone here likes our blossoms
permanent
and the flowers around your casket
will never die
preserved without error
in the crystals between our lashes
they will never bang down the phone
in our jangled ears at 3:30 at 3;30 AM
nor call us to account for our silence
nor refuse to answer
or say get away from me
this is my way      or say
we are wrong      prejudiced      lazy
deluded    cowardly    insignificant    faint
or say fuck you seven times in one sentence
when the circumstance of our lives
become so chaotic
words fly away like drunken buzzards
or say we might fail    or say
we might ail but that's no reason
to stop    to miss a beat
and the tinny jukebox music
comes up through the floor of our shoes.

Nobody here will lean too heavily
on your flowers
or lick the petals of the lavender gladiola
for a hint of sweetness
wilting it with a whiskey blast
threatening the faint-hearted
with a handshake or a bottle of beer.

In the side pews    always ghosts
who resemble
out brothers    past and future
who say they were also our lovers    but they lie
terror caught in their throats like a lump of clay
and the taxi is waiting to take them back
out to the sunshine

A pale refugee from a nameless country
hawks wired roses from stool to stool
down the street
at the Pathmark Pharmacy
a drag-queen with burgundy long-johns
and a dental dam in his mouth
is buying a straight razor







We had a moment of non-rain today. It looked like this.


bubble

dark clouds
all around
while we,
in a
sunshine
bubble
bask







Zbigniew Herbert, Polish poet, fable writer and spiritual leader of the anticommunist movement that eventually led to the freedom of his country from it's foreign occupiers and their home-grown stooges was born in 1924 and died in 1998. This is a poem from his book Elegy For The Departure


The Fable About A Nail

For lack of a nail the kingdom has fallen
- according to the wisdom of nursery schools - but in our
    kingdom
there have been no nails for a long time there aren't and
    won't be
either the small ones for hanging pictures
on a wall or large ones for closing a coffin

but despite this or maybe because of it
the kingdom persists and is even admired by others
how can one live without a nail paper or string
bricks oxygen freedom and whatever else
obviously one can since the kingdom lasts and lasts

people live in homes in our country not in caves
factories smoke on the steppe a train runs through the tundra
and a ship bleats on the cold ocean
there is an army and police and official seal hymn and flag
in appearance everything like anywhere in the world

but only in appearance for our kingdom
is not a creation of nature or a human creation
seemingly permanent built on the bones of mammoths
in reality it is weak as if brought to a stop
between act and thought being and nonbeing

    what is real - a leaf and a stone - falls
    but specters live long obstinately despite
    the rising and setting of the sun revolutions of
       heavenly bodies
    on the shamed earth fall the tears of objects







Sometimes poems just don't turn out like you expect them to. I didn't know this next poem was going to be so dark until it seemed to go off in its own direction at the end, but it go well with Herbert's poem.



summer break

a giggle
of fifteen year olds
just came through
loud
and excited
and annoyingly
slim
and healthy looking

saturday night
on the first weekend
of summer break,
let the good times
roll
and roll

no need for them
to know
now
the bitter tricks
of winter







Canadian cabaret artist, radical activist, actor, musician and poet Norman Nawrocki imagines a world turned topsy turvy in this poem from his book Rebel Moon.


Late Breaking News

"We interrupt the final moments of the last, period of this 7th and deciding game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to bring you an important news bulletin: across North America tonight, women have taken control. The results: gangs of drunken, roving women are terrorizing men everywhere. Police are warning men not to go out alone at night.

     Women are no longer listening to men.
     Women are demanding that men shave their armpits and.
     leg-hair or face public ridicule.
     Women are demanding that men strip and show perfect
     pectorals before they can get a job.
     Women are earning more than men
     for the same work.
     Women are crowding men off bus seats and sidewalks.
     Women are demanding that men with penises shorter than
     12" undergo painful penis enlargement operations.
     And finally, ladies and gentlemen, worst of all, women are
     peeing all over toilet seats and the floor.
     More on this later. We now return to our coverage of the
     game."







This week we introduce "Here and Now" first-timer R.D. McManes. Mac is the author of seven books of poetry and has had poems published in several literary magazines and e-zines. He is currently battling cancer and often chronicles that battle in his work. His author website is
www.macpoetry.com.


Rerun

In that early morning quiet
nothing moves, nothing exists
except the imagined sounds
of a horses' hooves
and creak of an old wagon,
long gone from the Kansas plain.

I sit motionless, an attempt
to blend with the moment
and stare across the open sky.
My thoughts move past denial,
through all the treatments,
three weeks of chemotherapy,
seven weeks of radiation.

Now I wait, immerse myself
in quiet reflection.
the only question left, is it gone?
My heart wants to believe it is,
the answer is still weeks away.
I am left with reruns of wagon train.







Here is a poem by Deborah Garrison, from her book A Working girl Can't Win.


Maybe There's No Going Back

Used to be he
was my heart's desire.
His forthright gaze,
his expert hands:

I'd lie on the couch with my eyes
closed just thinking about it.
Never about the fact
that everything changes,

that even this,
my best passion,
would not be immune.
No, I would bask on in an

eternal daydream of the hands
finding me, the gaze like a winding
stair coaxing me down...
Until I caught a glimpse

of something in the mirror:
silly girl in her lingerie,
dancing with the furniture -
a hot little bundle, flush with

cliches. Into that pair
of too-bright eyes I looked
and saw myself. And something else:
he would never look that way.







I was actually thinking about the so-called "family jewels" history of previous illegal activities the CIA just released when I wrote this piece. But it seems to me now it could be taken a lot of other ways too. There are lots of secrets around, not just in the government, but in family relationships and friendships and partnerships of many kinds. They burn bright there, also, when exposed.


family jewels

flames
illuminate
as they
burn
as
secrets
unfold
in the brilliance
of combustion







We haven't used Bukowski in weeks, just an entirely unacceptable way for me to treat my favorite poet.

This poem is from his book The Flash Of Lightning Behind The Mountain.


my doom smiles at me -

there's no other way:
8 or ten poems a
night.
in the sink
behind me are dishes
that haven't been
washed in 2
weeks.
the sheets need
changing
and the bed is
unmade.
half the lights are
burned-out here.
it gets darker
and darker
(I have replacement
bulbs but can't get them
out of their cardboard
wrapper.) Despite my
dirty shorts in the
bathtub
and the rest of my dirty
laundry on the
bedroom floor,
they haven't
come for me yet
with their badges and their rules and their
numb ears. oh, them
and their caprice!
like the fox
I run with the hunted and
if I'm not the happiest
man on earth I'm surely the
luckiest man
alive.







Bukowski, a lover of classical music, might have seen this woman in a doctor's waiting room and connected her face, as I did, to the most famous glowering Sibelius photo, an iconic image of partiotism and stubbon courage.


Finlandia

with hair,
she might be grandmotherly
but today,
the fat little woman
waiting
beside her oxygen tank
for her next chemo therapy;
today,
this round little woman,
with all obscuring
vanities
stripped away;
today,
this tough little woman
with her strong, straight nose
and out-thrust jaw
and fierce blue eyes
could be a bust of the great
Sibelius;
today,
I can imagine
this fearless little woman
in her snowy back yard
firing her shotgun
at then Nazi planes
flying over her beloved
Finland







Now, back to Blaise Cendrars and his travel poems. I really don't like Cendrars' Paris poems that much, but he is such an enthusiastic and clear-eyed traveler, his travel poems are a joy to read.

My source for these poems, as well as all the Cendrars poems I use, is the collection, Blaise Cendrars Complete Poems published in 1992. They are from the section of the book titled West.


1. Roof Garden

For weeks the elevators have hoisted hoisted crates crates of loam
At last
By dint of money and patience
The shrubbery is blooming
The lawn is delicate green
A spring gushes out between the rhododendrons and camellias
On top of the building the building of bricks and steel
evenings
The waiters in white serious as diplomats lean over the chasm which is
  the town
And the gardens are bright with a million little colored lights
I believe Madam murmured the young man in a voice vibrant with
  restrained passion
I believe we will be fine here
And with a large gesture he swept the large sea
The coming and going
The navigational lights of the giant ships
The gigantic Statue of Liberty
And the enormous panorama of the town cut with perpendicular bands
  of darkness and light
The old scientist and the two multimillionaires are alone on the terrace
Magnificent garden
Masses of flowers
Starry sky
The three elderly gentlemen stand in silence listening to the laughter
  and happy voices rising from bright windows
And to the murmured song of the sea at the end of the record


II. On the Hudson

The electric boat glides silently among the numerous ships anchored in
  the immense estuary and flying the flags of every nation in the world
The great clippers loaded with wood from Canada were unfurling their
  gigantic sails
The iron steamers were shooting torrents of black smoke
Dockhands of all races and nationalities were bustling around in the din
  of foghorns and whistles from factories and trains
The elegant launch is made entirely of teak
In the center rises a sort of cabin something like those on Venetian
  gondolas


III. Amphitryon

After the dinner is served in the winter gardens among clumps of lemon
  trees of jasmine of orchids
There is a dance on the park lawn beneath bright lights
But the gifts sent to Miss Isadora are the main attraction
Of special interest is a pigeon blood ruby whose size and brilliance are
  unequaled
None of these young ladies own one to which it might be compared
Elegantly dressed
Skillful detectives mixing among the guests watch over that gem and
  protect it


IV. Office

Radiators and fans running on liquid air
Twelve telephones and five radios
Wonderful electric files contain endless industrial and scientific dossiers
  on every kind of business
The only place the multiimillionaire feels at home is in this office
The big plate-glass windows overlook the park and the city
In the evening the mercury vapor lights shed their soft bluish glimmer
This is the origin of the orders to buy and sell which sometimes cause
  the Stock Markets of the entire world to crash


V. Girl

Light dress in Crepe de chine
The girl
Elegance and wealth
Hair a tawny blond where matched pearls shine
Calm and regular features that reflect frankness and kindness
Her big almost green sea-blue eyes are bright and bold
She has this fresh and velvety complexion with a special pinkness that
  seems to be the prerogative of American girls


VI. Young Man

He's the Beau Brunmell of Fifth Avenue
tie of gold cloth sprinkled with little diamond flowers
Suit a pink and violet metallic material
ankle-boots in real sharkskin with each button a little black pearl
He sports fine asbestos flannel pajamas a glass suit a crocodile-skin vest
His valet soaps his gold pieces
He never has anything but perfumed brand-new bills in his wallet

The problem with Cendrars is once I start it's hard to stop. More next week.







Time to call it a day.

Day.

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Brown Hills Blowing Green   Saturday, June 23, 2007


II.6.3.


Welcome back to "Here and Now."

This week, we concentrate on friends new and old and, with only a couple of exceptions, lesser know poets I've run across in used book stores.

You'll not find many poets you've read before this week. I hope you get the same thrill of discovery as I did.







We start this week with a new friend, Jessica VanDriesen, making her first appearance.

Jessica describes herself as a person with occasional flashes of inspiration and a driving desire to write poems. She is a native New Yorker, she says, currently having an adventure living and working in Poland.

She says this poem was written in 2000 when she was beginning to discover that she had something to say and poetry was the way she wanted to say it.

Here's Jessica's poem.


Can't Beat DNA

I wanted to write a poem
not just for you
or about you
or even to you
but one that would be, in all ways
you.

True, it would be like having a lock of your hair -
an ownership of sorts -
but that was not the point.

It is not that I wanted to write the poem
to prove I could,
but that poetry is my last, best hope
for a vocabulary with which
I might encompass a whole person
and all the feelings in between.

I may even be right -
but I am naive to think I can do it.
It took a billion years of evolution
to write your song -
even if I could find the words,
paint the imagery,
say all that your
double-stranded helixes say
in a package
on which not even the daintiest angel
could get a good footing
for her pirouettes,
it would take me a thousand pages
and on each page a thousand words
and for each word a footnote
a hundred lines long
and I couldn't finish in this lifetime
or the next
or even all the lifetimes
it would take a poor sucker like me
to reach enlightenment.







Next this week we go to a classic, Li Po, born 701, died 762.


The Road To Shu Is Hard

A-eee! Shee-yew! Sheeeeee! So dangerous! So high!
The road to Shu is hard, harder than climbing the sky.
Silkworm Thicket nd Fishing Duck
Founded their kingdom in the depths of time,
But then for forty-eight thousand years,
No settlers' smoke reached the Ch'in frontier.
Yet west on T'ai-po Mountain, take a bird road there,
You could cross directly to O-mei's brow.
When earth collapsed and the mountain crashed,
the muscled warriors died.

It was after that when the ladders to heaven
were linked together with timber and stone.
Up above is
the towering pillar where six dragons turn the sun.
Down below is
the twisting river colliding waves dash into the turns.
The flight of a yellow crane cannot cross it;
Gibbons and monkeys climb in despair.

Green Umd Ridge - coiling, unwinding -
Nine turns in a hundred steps, round pinnacle and snag.
Touch the Triad, pass the Well Stars,
look up to gasp and groan.
Press a hand to calm your chest,
sit down for a lingering sigh.

I wonder as you travel west, when will you return?
I fear that a road so cragged and high is impossible to climb.
All I see is a mournful bird that cries in an ancient tree.
And cocks that fly in pursuit of hens,
circling through the forest.
Yet again I hear the cuckoo call in the moonlit night -
sorrow upon the desolate mountain.
The road to Shu is hard, harder than climbing the sky.
Whenever one shall hear this, it wilts his youth away.

Peak after peak missing the sky by not so much as a foot.
Withered pines hang upside-down clinging to vertical walls.
Flying chutes and raging current,
how they snarl and storm!
Pelted cliffs and spinning stones,
ten thousand chasms thunderous roar!
The perils - this is the way they are.
And woe to that man on a road so far -
Oh why, and for what, would he travel here?
Sword Gallery looms above with soaring crags and spires;
One man at the pass.
Ten thousand men are barred.
And if the guards are not our people,
They can change in jackals and wolves.

In the morning avoid fierce tigers,
In the evening avoid long snakes.
They sharpen teeth for sucking blood;
The dead are strewn like hemp.
Let them talk of pleasure in Bocade City.
The better thing is hurrying home.
The road to Shu is hard, harder than climbing the sky.
Edging back, I gaze to the west, long and deep my sighs.

(Translated by Elling O. Elide)


A not my fault note:
The inconsistent use of upper case at the beginning of lines in the Li Po poem is as it is in the book the poem is from. I don't know if there is a purpose to this inconsistency or just sloppy editing.








I picked thia photo, taken in front of Union Station in Los Angeles, to go with our next poem from good friend, frequent contributor and soon-to-be ex-Californian Alice Folkart.

Here's Alice's poem.


Bees

bees
hum, buzz,
hover low,
dulled, lulled, drowsing
over lush blossoms,
dressed up in pollen pants,
heavy yellow flying folds
of soft, luscious, powdered sunlight,
a ponderous weight for such little wings
to lift and carry to the hidden queen







I've been using a lot of poems from my book the past several weeks. This week, it'll be all new stuff, mostly light and mostly written for Blueline's poem-a-day workshop.

Here's the first one now.




monday morning

it's monday morning
10 am
and I'm at Borders with
nowhere
to go
and I decide
to write my poem
for the day
but I think
wait
not now
I'm not desperate
enough
yet
and eureka
I think there's my
poem
for the day
desperation
all about it
with philosophical
and cultural
and psychological
extrapolations
and
ramifications and
so on
but that goes
nowhere
since it turns out
I'm still not desperate
enough to write
even about
desperation

may be
tomorrow







Robert Bly was already an important poet when he became deeply involved in the antiwar moment of the 1960's and 70's. As with many in the antiwar movement of that time and today, his smug assurance of his own superior virtue and intelligence is hard to take, but his poems are deep and powerful. Here are two of them.


The Asian War Begins

There are longings to kill that cannot be seen,
Or are seen only by a minister who no longer believes in
    God,
Living in his parish like a crow in its nest.

And there are flowers with murky centers,
Impenetrable, ebony, basalt.

Conestogas go past, over the Platte, murderers
From the Carolinas riding under the canvas.

Who are our enemies? Perhaps the soldiers
And the poor, those "unable to rejoice."


Counting Small-Boned Bodies

Let's count the bodies over again.

If we could only make the bodies smaller,
the size of skulls,
we could make a whole plain white with skulls in the
    moonlight.

If we could only make the bodies smaller,
maybe we could fit
a whole year's kill in front of us on a desk.

If we could only make the bodies smaller,
we could fit
a body into a finger ring, for a keepsake forever.







After the anger and bitterness of Bly's poem, it's a good time for a change of pace, a little romance from another "Here and Now" first-timer, Ann Hite.

Ann's short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including The Dead Mule, Fiction Warehouse, The SiNK, Rocking Chair Reader, Moonwort Review, Skyline Magazine, and Poor Mojo's Almanac.

Her essays were chosen for Cup of Comfort, Chicken Soup, and Marlo Thomas' latest book Right Words at the Right Time Vol., 2 and her poems have appeared in Long Story Short and Literary Mama.

Here's her poem for "Here and Now."



Woman Released

A man who can see beyond his selfishness is a rare find in this world.

But, a man who can feel the deep movement of words written for him is a jewel buried in a treasure chest, waiting for the woman,

who is his match, a woman who feels his paintbrush strokes across her breasts and puts them to music.

The music is their life, sometimes loud, sometimes crashing screams, but always sweet love.

A woman can lose her way in this music and forget the turmoil screeching beyond the sound.

This is the relationship God intended for men and women, knowing they are not perfect, but reflect his vision, his vast painting.

This man and woman will never be perfect, but they will change the world if only their world.

Paint the words, word the paints. Meshed together they become one, intricate, braided, long, thick but strong, solid, and independent.

They create cells that become beautiful splashes of color, yellow, pink, and blue

on a large canvas that will live far ahead of them.

Into the air seeps the truth of fate, what ifs and how comes.

Release the words to the sky.

Tell the truth. Yell the love.

Praise the certainty.

Release the life.

Retell the story so others can see the power, determination and passion.

These words are for you love, my heart, my passion, my world.

Long after you have left this world our residue will still be sufficient to feed the souls. The woman fights to find the words, a loving battle, the words to feed his soul.

When she writes, each word is for him. He is the only one she will ever love.

He is the WORD, The Music released in her soul.

I love you

The woman







This is a little piece I wrote in my head several weeks ago while passing through West Texas on our way back from Vancouver as we began to see summer again after the great weather in the Northwest. I didn't actually put it on paper until a couple of weeks later.


it's the next to last day in May

and
rain passes
puddles
dry
night
sweats
and overdue
summer's
on the rise







Aaron Silverberg has been writing since graduating with a degree in philosophy from the UC Santa Cruz. He is an improvisational flutist, ecstatic dancer and organic gardener.

Here are two poems from his book Thoreau's Chair.


diversions

if only life were linear
like one of those ultra-modern sidewalks
at the airport.

but there are always diversions
the ads along the way or
you run into a friend you haven't seen in years or
you forgot to pack something or
you get hungry and decide to snack or
you get to thinking about how much you'd rather
be home with your children or lover or garden or...

until
you can't remember where our were headed or
what flight would get you there.

all of us really know where conveyor belts lead...
coffins into crematoriums,
Batman to his 700th doom.

nothing more precious can happen than the thing
breaking down.

when you can hop off
walk    dance    sing    dawdle
in your own sweet time.


Your Life Is Dramatic

Every office worker is waiting
without a breath
for that swashbuckling pirate
dagger clenched in sourgnashed teeth
to swing through the sterile
plate glass window
to rape and plunder the computer and
its archfiend monitor, while the mouse scurries for cover,
to yell at the top of his east end's lungs
"Grab the rope, matey, and swing yer arse outta here!"

And thence to sail to some Caribbean island where
bare-breasted women and children move like waves.

There is that one peculiar moment of terror
when the office worker grabs the proffered twine
releasing a breath held for years
only to choke on the next
while the shards of mangled glass
gleam with sharkly delight.

The office worker is repelled and strangely attracted
by the noxious pirate
whose mouth is moving
without sound
as the coarse rope swings out
through the sickening maw.

The office worker jolts awake
from a monoxide slumber.
ashen...aghast
Peering through the stained driplets.

Wondering, wondering, wondering
where the drama of a lifetime goes
when it is not played out.







Next, our friend Jim Comer returns with this beautiful poem.


Finale, the Submerging Sun

I'll forever remember twisted
silhouettes; three ancient trees
stand before us; the blaze
of another sun slips
into darkening blue -
our palms gesture a last aloha;
we turn away with scarlet eyelids
to walk the green mowed lawn;
we reach for each other's hands;
offer slight smiles that fail,
but send a final signal.

Twelve years from wedding
to letting go for sale - I wonder who
will leave the lanai at the end
of the day - stem-ware wine in hand -
to walk the green, the coarse-white
sand lipped with black lava -
colliding with breakers of white

and the submerging sun?







Next, here's a series of three barku on a common coffee shop (what else) theme. I wrote this a couple of months ago. I may have used it here before.


coffee stains

1. story time

conversations
in twos
and threes
I listen
while
I write


2. cubicle vet

old man
sits alone
reading Dilbert
leans back
laughs
aloud


3.tattoo

she laughs
and laughs
butterfly
on her back
must
tickle







From ultra modern sidewalks to ancient meadows, now, a poem of seduction by Greek poet, satirist and, judging by this piece, occasional pornographer Archilochus from about 650 B.C.

The opening section of the poem is fragmentary. I post it as it is in my source material.


Fireworks On The Grass

[             ]
Back away from that,(she said)
and steady on [      ]

Wayward and wildly pounding heart,
there is a girl who lives among us
who watches you with foolish eyes,

a slender, lovely, graceful girl,
just budding into supple line,
and you scare her and make her shy.


O daughter of the highborn Amphimedo,
I replied, of the widely remembered
Ampimedo now in the rich earth dead,

There are, do you know, so many pleasures
for young men to choose from
among the skills of the delicious goddess

it's green to think the holy one's the only,
When the shadows go black and quiet,
Let us, you and I alone, and the gods,

sort these matters out. Fear nothing:
I shall be tame, I shall behave
and reach, if I reach, with a civil hand.

I shall climb the wall and come to the gate.
You'll not say no, Sweetheart, to this?
I shall come no farther than the garden grass.

Nebule I have forgotten, believe me, do.
Any man who wants her may have her.
Aiai! she's past her day, ripening rotten.

The petals of her flower are all brown.
The grace that first she had is gone.
don't you agree that she looks like a boy?

A woman like that would drive a man crazy.
She should get herself a job as a scarecrow.
I’d as soon hump her as [kiss a goat's butt].

A source of joy I'd be to the neighbors
with such a woman as her for a wife!
How could I ever prefer her to you?

You, O innocent, true heart and bold.
Each of her faces is as sharp as the other.
Which way she's turning you can never guess.

She'd whelp like the proverb's luckless bitch
were I to foster get upon her, throwing
them blind, and all on the wrong day.

I said no more, but took her hand,
laid her down in a thousand flowers,
and put my soft wool cloak around her.

I slid my arm under her neck
To still the fear in her eyes,
for she was trembling like a fawn,

touched her hot breasts with light fingers,
spraddled her neatly and pressed
against her fine, hard, bared crotch.

I caressed the beauty of all her body
And came in a sudden white spurt
while I was stroking her hair.

(Translated by Guy Davenport)







Friend and regular contributor Thane Zander writes of the course of his life.


The Captain Series - the Last - Me

I've stood at the helm of a ship, Driver
I've stood in the middle of a boat, Captain
I've stood in my room - memories,
the way things could have been
if I hadn't been afflicted genetically.

I sit in my chair, writer
A stand behind my chair, watcher,
I stand and pace my room,
Captain without helm,
I salute myself, as it is done.

I measure my domain in yards now,
no longer in miles, whence my boat days
I take a rule of thumb and apply it to life
then scrutinize all around me with measured eye
a hangover from my surveying days, the sun sets

on a life fast approaching relinquishment,
the shades dimmer now, the moon strong
the ice on the beard says get warm and live
the beard and face behind it say bring it on,
the lady of my life my last vision, and her girls.




.


America didn't invent John Wayne, we just put a name and a face to the archetype. But every since he was first introduced, he, or some iteration of him, has walked across American movie screens on a regular basis.

The latest is Bruce Willis in the next in the Die Hard series. These movies are such fun, like the Saturday afternoon movies I used to see in the old Alto Theater in my little home town of La Feria, Texas.

The hero/villain formula never changes, just gets stretched in new directions.

I saw the trailer for the new movie and went right home and wrote this, you might even say, loving tribute.


screenplay

crash!

explode!

firewhooshflamesmokewhooshwhooshfire!

villain smirks

hero sweats
bleeds

smash!

crash!

automatic weapons
fire fire fire fire fire fire
miss miss miss miss miss
one thousand times
or more

evil
henchmen
die
(violently)
cry
aaaaarrrrrgggg!
or some version
of such
as they fall
in a crimson mist

villain smirks

hero sweats
and bleeds

hero sweats
and
bleeds
some more

has sweaty
sex
with girl
who shows up
from nowhere
for sweaty
sex

hero
says
cool line

villain
runs to helicopter
whoop
whoop
whoop
goes the rotor
as it begins to rise

villain
sneers

helicopter
explodes

crash!

hero sweats
bleeds
smiles

says
another cool
line

limps toward
sunset

girl runs
to him

meaningful glances
exchanged
implying
promise
for more sweaty
sex
after

credits
roll








I'm still dropping into used book stores when ever I can. I found several books last week, including Street fighting poems by poet Daniel Donaghy.

Donaghy, from New York, holds an M.F.A. in creative writing fro Cornell University and, at the time the book was published, was completing a Ph.D in English at the University of Rochester. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts and the Cornell Council for the Arts. His poems have appeared in a number of journals.


Twenty seven years ago next August, my father died of emphysema after fifteen years of struggle and decline. This poem, from Donaghy's book, reaches me deeply.

(Note to San Antonio folks: the Half Priced Books on Broadway near downtown has the best poetry selection I've found in SA.)


My Father Shot Free Throws

From the window I watched
him go through his routine:
deep knee bends, two dribbles,
a long drag from his Pall Mall,
a few backspins of the ball
before he was gone into the void
of that rim, the blank space
he lived in for an hour each night.
free of us nagging him
to quit the smokes and heavy drink,
free of my mother over his shoulder
when he spat blood,
rubbing his back, crying
when he refused to go for X rays,
free of all but the constant
wheeze in his lungs that kept
him nearly always out of breath,
that kept him awake,
sent him downstairs for water
ten out to the drive,
my father easing into it,
a few lay-ups, some jumpers,
always a neighbor's light on,
always the hacking cough,
the soft hiss off the boards,
always the underhanded shot








Now for another of our friends and frequent contributors, Khadija Anderson.


circular dream

I float in water
lay in a large innertube
head back, eyes closed
arms and legs dangling

the innertube rotates
turns slowly, deliberately

I picture the Milky Way
content, suspended in darkness
long arms reaching into space
circling eternally

the pilgrims in Mecca
circumambulating seven times
incessantly rotating, around and around
feet grounded on the earth

whirling dervishes in long robes
heads tipped, eyes closed
turning slowly, perfectly
arms lifted towards the heavens

I float on my back in water
circling, turning
like a worshipper, like the universe







This is a very new poem, written last week.


echoes

dry well
echoes

with memories

of water
precious and sweet
.
.
.
.
old man
sleeps

dreams echo

with memories
precious and sweet.







Reminding ourselves that virtue and poetry do not always walk hand in hand, here's a poem by Mao Zedong, tyrant and mass murderer.


Snow


The scene is the north lands.
Thousand of li sealed in ice,
ten thousand li in blowing snow.
From the Long Wall I gaze inside and beyond
and see only vast tundra.
Up and down the Yellow River
the gurgling water is frozen.
Mountains dance like silver snakes,
hills gallop like wax-bright elephants
trying to climb over the sky.
On days of sunlight
the planet teases us in her white dress and rouge.
Rivers and mountains are beautiful
and make heroes bow and compete to catch the girl -
    lovely earth

Yet the emperors Shi Huang and Wu Di
were barely able to write.
The first emperors of the Tang and Song dynasties
          were crude.
Genghis Khan, man of his epoch
and favored by heaven,
knew only how to hunt the great eagle.
They are all gone.

Only today are we men of feeling.







A good rant is like a huge thundercloud, building and building until it covers the sky. Friend and "Here and Now" contributor Dan Cuddy has build some nice clouds in the past. Here's his latest.


IGNORE THIS

ignored
like yesterday's lottery ticket

see
that ticket just lie in the thick uncut grass

well
this poem too
and more
here
just ignored
like snoring
or somebody singing in the shower
or a religious tract
shoved into the mailslot in a door

ignored
not even spat upon

just ignored
like a guy
wanting to be noticed by that pretty gal
red dress white polka dots
she's bursting at the seams in the right places
but
ignored
all she said was
n
o
emotionlessly

but here
not even that
not even a contemptuous lift of the eyebrow
just
ignored
no one picks up this poem
or many others like it

we all write
but few of us READ
anything but
the local news
who shot who
who
is molesting kids
or embezzling funds from a local charity

that's all
the usual rank stuff
no poetry
no attempt at poetry
read
just ignored
the bleeding poems

just
left out in the rain
and ignored

ig
snored







It's summertime, sure 'nuff...and I hate it.


hell no, I won't go

happily
sprawled

across the sofa
a relaxed

mass
of refrigerated

protoplasm

my fervent
ambition

to remain
in my air conditioned

house
until October

15th
but life

pulls

like a phone
ringing

at midnight

and I
by virtue

of growing up
in a house

where the phone
never rang at

midnight

unless some
body

died

cannot ignore
the call

so
into the

broiling
boiling
baking

humidirific
world I go

not in
good

humor

at
all







James Laughlin founded the publishing house of New Directions in 1936, while he was still an undergraduate at Harvard. His first book of poems, Some Natural Things was published nine years later. These poem are from his book The Secret Room first published in 1993.

I like these little poems. Simple, direct, and honest.


Some People Think

that poetry should be a-
dorned or complicated     I'm

not so sure     I think I'll
take the simple statement

in plain speech compress-
ed to brevity     I think that

will do all I want to do.


The Voyeur

Pull up your skirt
just an inch or two

above your knees
sit quietly where

I may watch you
from across the

room.     I am old and
impotent but such

small pleasures can
still give me delight.


Passport Size Will Do

I beg you to send me your picture
For my album of imaginary conquests
You will be in excellent company
I am not (even in my imagination)
Promiscuous and invite only the best.


At The Post Office

It makes his day when
by happy chance he en-

counters her on his morn-
ing visit to the post office

it's as if a rose had
opened to greet him.


For The Finders Within

I cannot name them nor
tell from whence they

come     I cannot summon
them nor make them lin-

ger     they come when they
wish (and when least exp-

pected) and in a moment
they are gone leaving

their burst of words
which become my song.


The Happy Poets

What's happiness?
It's to lie side
By side in bed
Helping each other
Improve our poems.


Waiting

Patiently I'm waiting
For the day when you'll discover
That it was always me
You were waiting for.


Better Than Potions

Our village love counselor
tells her lovelorn young

clients that kittens cannot
be caught but if you stay

where you are and do some-
thing interesting the kit-

ten will soon come to you


Death Lurches Toward Me

but the gods do have
some pity     in these

last months the verses
seem a bit less paltry

not quite so garrulous
touches of truth in them.







Another little piece written for the poem-a-day challenge.


girls telling secrets

four
of them
at the round table

whisper
laugh

then whisper
and laugh again

oh, no,
says one

oh, yes,
says another

whisper
and laugh
at the round table
in the corner







Paula Rankin's first book was By The Wreckmaster's Cottage, published in 1977. This poem is from her second book, Augers, published four years later, in 1981. I'm sure she's continued to publish, but I can find no more current information.

Here's the poem.


Losing Rings

You blame me for losing my rings,
three in five years.
I say, "My fingers lose weight with loving."
I too have wondered at the ease
with which they slid off undetected:
one into dirt my hands dug out for bulbs,
another into river,
and one I last saw pulling sleeves
from a Laundromat dryer.

None had enough scratches to be a symbol
for unending love, so when I think about them,
I do not think of gold circumferences
but of the space inside and what fills it:
somewhere dirt, muck on river bottom,
lint in a stranger's pockets are the fingers I should have grown,
the one I keep trying to fatten
or if nothing else works, coat with glue.

Finally you turn to me, empty-handed,
saying, Here is the ring of imagination,
imagine love that goes on forever,
imagine this is the last ring you will be given,
imagine anything you need to make it fit.

My fingers are nearly all bone.
But I imagine a ring shrinking like skin.





Painting by Lauren Dodski



This poem is from the painting above which I found intriguing for all the things it can suggest to an attentive viewer.


portrait of a girl at night

winter night
walking
chilled
streets

scarf coiled
in woolen layers
cover
next
to chin

face shadowed
in shades
of gray

eyes
wide in

surprise....

fear....









The next poem is from Parties, a first collection of poems by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, published in 1988, Morgan has since published three other books of poetry and expects to publish a fifth this year. She is currently the 2007 Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University.

Here is her poem. I understand the wonder she express here. We have one of these birds that lives around the little creek behind our house part of the year. It is an amazing thing to see this far from where we would expect to see it. Unlike Morgan's heron, mine doesnt seem to be ailing, just seems to like the neighborhood. Even when I was out at the creek cutting grass with my weed trimmer, she didn't move, just stood calmly on those ridiculous legs and watched.


Heron

The moment between what wasn't
and what is
has to shock like the instant
I saw the three-foot heron
perched like a prank
in my front yard.

I've known a few annunciations.
My God I'm in love was one,
and the bloodied baby's head
between my thighs. Then
my thin son with a suitcase,
losing resolution
in my review mirror.

The elegant heron stood in my yard,
in my cluttered neighborhood,
miles from water, fish, its kind.
It curled and uncurled its neck,
scanning the air for bearings.

All morning I thought
it would fly away.
By afternoon I was afraid
it never would.

Who could miss this incongruous sight?
Everyone who passed by did.
Walkers, drivers, runners, children
never noticed the great blue heron
dying by my Pontiac.

It stood there all day long,
bearing its weight
on legs as frail as marsh grass.







The next poem is by Wesley K. Mather and is taken from his book Into Pieces published in 2003. Although his poems appeared in many publications, this was his first book.


Reflections from a Tractor

Immersed in childish pleasures
like Sunday morning walks
The cornfields of Missouri whip themselves
with geometric excitement
Stalks-wide greed-strangle the soft warm soil
robbing it of life's essential chemicals

Once, strange, lush rainforests
      Now, fields for agriculture
          Someday, lifeless desert
              Floating in the timeless nothing

No more life; no more protein
The sun's chromosphere will encompass the earth
and zap the animation right out of it


But that is not today;
today we can still look at the swirling fields

Children run through the fields
They feel the silt on their arms itching nicely
They pull each other's hair
They are not concerned with deserts or chromospheres

City children would be jealous if they
knew what job cornfield days could bring






We've had three new friends of "Here in Now" this week, beginning with our first poem, then one near the middle and now, near the end, this piece by Scott Acheson.

Scott is originally from Kansas City and has traveled around the world three times. He has doctorate in chemistry from the University of Iowa and was a scientist and technical writer for 25 years. He took up writing poetry 2 years ago and now works as a swim instructor in the inner city of Charlotte, NC. He says he loves to swim and enjoys several muses.

He says this poem came to him while staying at an Econolodge in Mojave, California after an early morning swim in its tiny pool.

Though he says it's still a work in progress, Scott invites you to visit his website at http://timeofflight.blogspot.com/.



Time of Flight

An Econolodge
wearing a postage stamp pool.
Cold and refreshing water, speckled with
grime and two-week old newspaper.
As I look up through the silver sheen at the surface,
the moon sits, residing comfortably in the morning sky.
Plastic garden chairs, crowded and haphazard,
decorate my walled garden.
Symbols of a crossroads, a desert neither cold nor hot.
An airbase glued, like a Band-Aid on my skin.
A place for down time. Gasoline souls,
wandering like the Joshua trees that
randomly spot the yellow undulating hills.
A diesel stench over asphalt
and fields of wind turbines churn.
They whine eternally, providing comfort.
Air conditioners exhaling heat,
returning cool breeze to the blue room.
Hearts beat slowly and bodies are kept dry.
The Econolodge, blinking its decoration:
A Chinese fan on the wall, held by a giant's hand.
A girl whispers in the early morning.
An awareness of something.
Come swim in the desert.






Sometimes, when we get of a certain age, change becomes a dirty word, rife will all sorts of unpleasant possibilities...and so complicaters everything at a time when what we most want is simplicity.


the horror

they've changed
everything

this place
where
for ten years
I've written my
poems

they've prettified

they've gentrified

the crappy
chairs are gone
and the wobbly tables
and the dingy walls
with holes where paintings
were hung then taken down

gone

now
my god
it's like some kind
of dark paneled
fancy-dan
fern bar

I'm loud
down
and gritty
rude
crude
lewd
and naked
angel
tattooed

my god,
how can I write
in this environment

the horror

oh,
the
horror







That's all for now. We'll fly back in week for our next roosting, same time, same tree. In the meantime, may your white's be white, your brights be bright, and all the yolks in your life be sunnyside up, but not runny.

1 Comments:
at 9:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

so much to enjoy again and again, allen,
thank you.
martha

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The Age of Crackpottery
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It's True, Pigs Can Fly (but only on Air Force One...
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