Green Acres (Is The Place To Be)   Saturday, July 28, 2007


III.7.4



Welcome to "Here and Now."

We're going to do somethings different this weed. First, primarily due to a time crunch on my part, we have fewer poets and longer poems.

Second, having just discovered that it is 51 years this year since the initial publication of the seminal beat poem by Allen Ginsberg, one of the long (very long) poems this week is Part 1 of that very poem, Howl. I would have liked to do the whole thing, but there's just too much of it for this little operation.

With Howl closing the issue, we start with the first in a series by Gary Blankenship inspired by the Ginsberg poem and, somewhere in the mix of the issue, a modern re-telling of it by Mick Moss.

So, read on. It's a lot of Ginsberg this week, but, iwth work from other great poets and a couple of pieces by me, it's not all Ginsberg at all.







As promised, here is the first in a new series of poems by Gary Blankenship inspired by Howl . Gary is a master poet, with a strong yet delicate touch, as well as a master of the poem series.

(Actually, this is second in the series, but, for reasons having to do with my own production problems, first to appear here. We will have the actual first in the series next week. It's complicated)


After Howl II

In Celebration in the Release of Boxcar Willie's Last Album


who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night
   Allen Ginsberg, Howl

boxcars full of apples from Wenatchee
pears from Hood River
dried grapes and shelled almonds from Fresno
bluegrass seed from the Willamette

box cars full of t-shirts from Thailand
(or was it American Samoa
Made in the USA)
lumber from Millinocket
coal on the way to Liverpool via Sault Ste Marie
toys and cat food recalled from Singapore

boxers in the boxcars
Matchbox cars
and bullocks bound for Boise

cattle cars littered with homemade cigarettes
flat cars bleached in the panhandle sun
dump cars emptied of Portland cement sand gravel
container cars for milk and window cleaner

box cars to haul boxes
hat boxes (but who wears hats
even pillboxes out of style)
shoe boxes
gift boxes wrapped in holiday cheer
cardboard boxes
and boxes made of lumber from Eureka

the racket of boxcars
whistle after whistle
on rusted rails that run
by the barn chicken coop
boxcars
down the ravine
past alfalfa soybeans canola
past the bedroom window
so close you could touch it
as I touched you
boxcars

I'll return come spring's melt
and your grandfather's box
is no longer empty as a clouded sky







Carter Revard, part Osage on his father's side, was born in Oklahoma. He grew up on a rural community on the Osage reservation with his stepfather, five brothers and sisters, his aunt and cousins. He went to Oxford University in 1952 on a Rhodes Scholarship. He later earned a Ph.D. from Yale University and taught as a professor of English at Washington University. He has published numerous poems, stories and essays in a variety of publications.

This poem was taken from Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry



In Kansas

The '49 dawn set me high on a roaring yellow tractor,
slipping the clutch or gunning a twenty-foot combine
to spurt the red-gold wheat into Ceres' mechanical womb:
I'd set her on a course and roll for a straight two miles
before turning left, and that got monotonous as hell,
at first all the roar and dust and the jiggling stems
          collapsing
to whisk up the scything platform and be stripped of
          their seed,
then even the boiling from under of rats and rabbits
          scrambling
to hide again in their shrinking island of tawny grain
as the hawks hung waiting their harvest of torn fur
          and blood.
So I'd play little god with sunflowers drooping
          their yellow heads;
see a clump coming and spin the wheel left, right,
          then straight.
The shuddering combine swiveled on its balljoint hitch
first right, then left, it's great clatter of blades
          swinging
so the tip barely brushed those flowers and left
          their clump standing
like a small green nipple out from the golden breastline
     and next time past
reversing wheel-spins cut free a sinuous lozenge left
          for the bumblebees
with butter-and-black-velvet tops limp-nodding over
               wilted leaves.
But sunflowers aren't enough. I left on the slick stubble
          islets
of blue-flowered chicory, scarlet poppies and just
     for the hell of it cockleburs;
"From now on, kid, you run that sumbitch straight,"
               the farmer said.
Hell's bells, out on that high prairie I bet goldfinches,
bobwhites, and pheasants are still feasting,
          in the farmer's fields
on the flower seeds I left out, summer, fall and
                    winter harvests
that make the bread I eat taste better
          by not being ground up with it
               then or now







Speaking of changeable Texas weather...


rain dance


I had just
stepped out
of my car
when the
weather
changed
from
looks like rain
to go ahead
and bring those
animals up
two by two
and my dinky
umbrella
was doing as much
good as a
5 cent stamp
on a 50 lb
parcel
and just
as I got to
the porch
intent on the
pleasure
of having a
cup of joe
while watching
it rain it stopped
and just as sudden
as the rain had
started
the sun
came out
and I was
the wettest
thing in this
whole
blue-sky
town








One of the great unanticipated benefits to me of working on "Here and Now" is the opportunity it has given me to learn of and read poets I would have otherwise had no contact with.

One such poet is Ku Sang. He was born into a Catholic family in Seoul and grew up in what is now North Korea, fleeing to the south before the Korean war. Later, he studied in Japan and, in the fifties, was imprisoned for writing essays on the corruption of power.

This poem is from his book Wastelands of Fire. It has been translated from Korean by Anthony Teague.


Spring Chrysanthemums

At one window of an apartment block,
in an old orange-box
with a scrap of soil
and a packet of seeds sprinkled,
spring chrysanthemums
yellow,
red,
pink,
turquoise,
white,
are spreading their petals.

Single blossoming sign of Nature
in an artificial world!

Scarcely arrived, the spring-morning sunshine
dazzles, then slips away.

At the third floor opposite, a pink blanket
waves like a tongue while the owner,
a dancer, squints across;

above , on the sixth floor, a student is listening to jazz,
brushing the dandruff from bushy hair
and staring down.

On the ground floor a bank-guard's wife,
her perm in a towel
as she fiercely beats cushions,
pauses to glance up.

And the unmarried pensioner next door,
changing the water in his goldfish bowl,
stops and looks sideways

while the two kid brothers to the left
stop playing at housekeeping
and turn to look.

In the street a bean-curd seller,
ringing a hand-bell as he passes,
stops and looks up

and the ice-cream man,
pushing his cart along,
looks up too, wiping his brow

while the newly-married housewife
watering her flowers
cannot help thinking of her husband
whom she has just pushed off to work,
after a good number of tongue-bites,
and very slightly, she smiles.







W. Joe Hoppe is another of my used bookstore finds. Along with his wife, he has published about a dozen chapbooks through Luck Tiger Press. His poem have appeared in numerous periodicals and have been anthologized in Stand Up Poetry and How To Be This Man. His poetry video, $5200 MSTA has been shown at the Dallas Video Festival, San Antonio Underground Film Festival, Austin Film Festival and VideoEx in Switzerland.

This poems are from his book Galvanized


Vernal

Spring sailed in momentous last night
born buoyant on a level just beneath my understanding
The tree of the world has lent itself
to graceful planks and sweeping hull

It slid right down the earth's new tilt
sails aligned with the sun's new angle
a steady pushing
through every stem and limb


Hombres Solitarios

Seven Mexicans on the stereo
sing of loneliness
together in fine harmony

Two kinds of accordions
three kinds of guitars
and a pair of fiddles
believably lonely in the same key

Certain that this
is the way a man
truly exists


Fifty Weight Oil and Fifty-Two Sleeping Pills

Today, while scraping the rubber of my boot sole
from the chrome of cooled motorcycle exhaust pipe
I noticed something serious

Blue oil tank hose sports a flat spot
burnished black the final drive belt
which must come in contact only occasionally
on the biggest of bumps, on the most twisted torsions

Once that vein wears through
it's no simple roadside repair
splattered with burning oil
I'd have to sit down in the gravel and wait

Wondering if I could foreseen such a failure

This same afternoon a buddy checks his fifteen year old son
out of the treatment center for Easter Sunday in the park
They're awkward over M&Ms in the plastic basket grass
pill shapes and colors; it wasn't a vein he opened up this time

Too late to rent a canoe, the two watch the water
as clouds come smoothing in Sunday evening,
the father inventories his long list of fix it tools
and figures what he needs is a time machine

While I'm yanking at my damaged line with sweaty hands
resentful of having to do anything at all







Maire Mhac an tSaoi, born in 1922, has worked hard for the preservation of the Irish language. This poem, taken from the book This Same Sky, A Collection of Poems From Around the World, was translated from that language by Brenden O Hehir


The First Shoe

We put the shoe on him the first time this morning,
minute, stitched-together, a little jewel of leather,
a miracle of shoemaking, in the first choice of fashion,
on the flowerlike foot never before in bondage,
the first shoe ever on that small honey-sweet foot.

Little treasure, heart of the house, here you go tramping,
strike the sole like this on the ground stoutly,
hold the precious head pluckily, determined,
a man-baby you are in your walk nd your bearing
the height of my knee, and so soon to leave me!

You have a long road to travel before you,
and tying your shoe is only the first tying.







About a week ago, the presence of other priorities led me to announce on the poem a day workshop at the The Blueline Forum that I was so busy with other "stuff" that I was going to have to take a leave of absence.

Despite the announcement, I posted a new poem the next day, then, again, a day later, I posted this poem, a remembrance of a time when leaving didn't necessarily mean you were going anywhere, at least not for a while.


leaving

this reminds me
of when I was a kid
and my parents
would have company
and they would sit
around and talk
or maybe play tripoli
and the time would come
when everyone would stretch
and the last cigarettes would
be stubbed out and the last
little bit of beer at the bottoms
of the bottles would be chugged
and everyone would say
well, guess it's time
to call it a night, work
tomorrow early, you know
and everyone would head
out the door, then stop
on the porch and talk, then
more stretching and the
walk to toward the car,
making it, maybe,
to the middle of the yard
and everyone would stop
and talk some more then
stretch and walk to the car
then stop and talk, women
on one side of the car
men on the other until
someone would yawn,
time to get going, they
would say, work tomorrow,
and the company would
get into the car and then
more talk, through the
window, men on the driver's
side, women on the other,
until, finally, the key would
turn and the engine would
turn over and there would
be more talk through the
windows while the car
idled until finally my dad
would give the top of the
car a little slap (and I
never figured out how
he knew when to do that)
and after a few thanks
for coming and thanks
for asking us over and
maybe we can do this
again next week and
our place or your place
and extended discussion
of whether our place
or your place, then
should I bring something
a pie, or a cake, six pack
of beer and more discussion
and finally, after some more
thanks for coming, thanks
for asking, the car would
slowly slip into the neigh-
borhood night and mom
and dad would walk back
to the house talking about
the people just gone,
evaluating everything
from hairstyle to choice
of beer along with
speculation about
the woman's cousin's
brother-in-law
who might or might not
be up at Huntsville
doing time for some kind
of stabbing over at that
beer joint on hwy 83

that's the way it was
when I was a kid
and mom and dad
had company and
parting may or may not
have been sweet sorrow
but it sure took up some time
at the end of the day








Mick Moss describes himself as a 54 year old art school graduate and music industry drop out. He has an MA in Screenwriting and writes screenplays, novels, poetry and jokes. He says his ambitions are: To get his scripts made into films, to travel the world, and maybe one day to meet Mz Right, because, he hasn't yet, despite a few near Mrs.

I was introduced to Mick by Gary Blankenship after he saw this poem on one of the on-line workshops. Gary knew I was interested in his Howl series and thought I might be interested in Mick's poem also. I was and here it is.



Still Howling - the next Generation
                        dedicated to Allen Ginsberg

I saw the not particularly bright minds
of my generation
         driven to obscurity
red brick Mickey Mouse degrees promised us
interesting world changing careers
but all we got were mortgages
         interest rising

Thrust expectantly from the womb
of a post-war black and white
still rationed, once great nation
that shared its greatness
if you were born from the right stock
          but we were not

From one room to baby boom, suburbia.
Bevin's babies with national reassurance
blue collars stained white
by the new blue whiteness
          of copy-writers' lies
forged in the white heat of technology
gadgets in the ideal home
          for the nuclear family

Our optimism shattered by Cuban missiles
and a man on the grassy knoll
while bombs rained down from LBJ
mothers running screaming napalmed
         Buddhist monk barbecue
Charlie's brains blown out for the camera
boil in the bag convenience TV tea time
         bland horrors daily

Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh
and Che washed up in a Bolivian bath house
while Mao Tse Tung said - Change must come
change must come through the barrel of a gun
Terence Conran made shopping fun
      as our habitat degraded

Buy now, pay later, must have, have not
pot bellied, fly blown black babies starved
still - we had the Beatles
            Yeah, yeah, yeah

Born with plastic spoons in our mouths
substitute fabric for the modern world
molded multi-coloured in factories
scream in your grave Henry Ford
any colour as long as it's black
can sit in the back
            too much it's a magic bus

They taught us Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen
but not Ken Kesey, too merry a prankster he
for their sensibilities, incensed by DH Lawrence
And yes our servants could have read it
if we had them
            but we didn't

We laughed at such absurdities
but raged when they locked up Mick and Keef
who would break a butterfly on a wheel?
the News of the World with no news
but vicars and tarts
prurient where Oz never was
            yet still they slammed it

The small minded blinded Mary Shitehouses
of this scandalized post Profumo island
where the pavements of Grosvenor Square
were splattered with teenage blood
            where Queer was a dirty word

Where a young milk snatcher rubbed her dry cunt
dreaming of her beefcake bean-counting gurus
            Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman
and the power she would one day wield
            in Middle England

Where a nouveau-riche phony middle class
sold votes for loadsa money
and the right to buy
            their council hovels
where joy riders ripped up the night
and raved ecstatically
until the Public Order Act repossessed
            the right to dance

Until WE had had enough
of things never getting better
            and got THEM out
only to find we'd swapped the same old thing
            for a brand new drag
as the 'special relationship' dragged us into
            yet another pointless war

Meanwhile beleaguered school Head-teachers
battling against league tables
            fake results
for pupils playing Nintendo in class
            on mobile phones
where English is reduced to CU L8R
and voting means evicting this week's moron
            from Big Brother
to satisfy the Nations' voyeuristic eye
on LCD TV - that's "lowest common denominator"

Eric Blair turns in his grave
as CCTV on every street
records the pissed up, drugged out
            Chavs
descended from the archers
who were dumb enough to go
            and stand at Agincourt

            And I'm Still Howling
at wounds festering under a Karma Sutur








Joe Weil is a widely known poet and editor from New Jersey. This poem is taken from the anthology Bum rush the page.


Ben Hur

This is the part where
Charlton Heston's sister
gets cured of leprosy
          I'm sitting on the couch
It's late
     Charlton cries
I swallow a fig newton

Last time I saw BenHur
I was twelve years old
My parents were still alive
Moths swarmed around the porch light,
Refrigerators hummed,
We were safe
     Now I'm thirty
Rocky and Clare
          in a grave
I start to cry
     because Charlton
is hugging his sister
and he's home
and I'm not
and it's raining
inside the movie
     and out
Outside, the smell of wet dirt
and soggy garbage
          wafts through my window
Shit!
     If I had a girlfriend
we'd screw until the moon was cheese
we'd create our own epic:
thighs, breasts, mole hairs, freckles,
all the noises peculiar to coupling
hips rounding into the air, hands palming
flesh, fresh so smooth and rough and sweaty
and...

The theme music flares
I know it's a corny flick
I've read Rimbaud
but I'm sad and full of fig newtons
it's late and my hairline's receding
outside the rain keeps falling
looks like a thousand needles
falling under the streetlight's glare,
piercing space
and I wish I were dead or in the arms of a girl
I hear the soft incessant hum of me
falling through space, falling asleep
with my hand between my legs







I decided it might be a good idea to consider alternatives to the kind of long skinny poems that have become my "style" over the past couple of years.


I investigate the concept of brevity

I've
been getting
really tired
of my going
on and going
on poems
and think maybe
readers are also
so I decided I
oughta
write a short
one

this is it







Our next poem is from the German poet of the expressionist period, Georg Heym. In the poem, the poet imagines the final moments in the life of the French revolutionary tyrant Robespirre.


Robespirre

He bleats under his breath. Eyes fixed on the
Straw in the cart. His teeth grind white slime.
Gulps until his cheeks are hollowed.
One foot hangs naked through the slats.

Every jolt of the cart sends him flying.
The chains on his arms rattle then like bells.
Children yelp with laughter - their mothers
Hold them up to see over the crowd.

Someone tickles his foot. He doesn't notice.
Now the cart stops. His eyes lift and he sees
At the end of the street the black machine.

His forehead, ashen, beads with sweat.
His mouth goes weird in his dreadful face.
They wait for screams. They hear no sound.

(Translated by Keith Waldrop)







The New York Times Thursday science section is a wondrous thing to read, leading to wondrous tidbits of most probably useless information. Wondrously.


coochie coochie


i have it
on good
scientific
authority
that young rats
giggle
when tickled,
a high frequency
squeal
of delight
heard
only by them
and their kind

isn't that a
amazing
thing to think about







I promised you would see much more of Juan Felipe Herrera when I posted one of his poems for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Well, here we go.

The title poem for his book Giraffe On Fire is a very long piece of 28 sections, much too long to post here in a single issue. So, instead, I'm going to post it one or two sections at a time over a period of weeks.



Giraffe On Fire

1

I sit on a gold vestibule. It isn't me.

This wavy swan to my naked left comes up to my bad eye. My dead eye.
Catalonia, in its sacred and tiny voyage under the tectonic plates of Dali's
edible sea. Swan's talons. Cobalt blue and geometric. Gold pearls and an
inverted eggshell. My childhood, my little red daily missal, my edge of
Plexiglas water. My breasts and my shoulders are sculpted and small. I raise
my leg as I hold an invisible oblong figure in front of me. It is my gaze.
Naked as Gala. Dali's lover. I know nothing. Nothing of Spain or its green-
mantled skies. I live in a split sky. Yellowish without a sun, yet the sun
envelops the firmament. The bottom is blue, then convex with a woman at
the center. Mexico. Cortez. Malinche. East Los Angeles. San Francisco. El
Paso, yes, the gate of all Mexican dreams - this soft animal, jagged with
ragged dots behind its back that leads to a holy shrine. A wax cross always
before me. I sit upright. Floating, my head tilted to the left. This is the
proper stance in America, an adequate sexual crust that I eat as I ascend
into the sky. It is not necessary to understand what is below me.

You must open your legs. You must figure the hard orange colors from
your bill, then the black protrusion. This is innocence. I was born there. A
fortune was discovered on my skin. My mother took me away one night.
An egg was delivered, then tossed over a bridge. It cut into the waters, a
shape of a man with tinted skin and a jelly heart. What could he do? He was
alone inside the small canoe. What did he have? He had paints and a loaf of
pumpernickel. He wanted to reach down into the water. The belly below
him floating up. Gala in white, in seaweed, in parables from Ezekiel and
Port Ligat. Gala was elsewhere. Above him, as always. In front of him. As
always. In a shrunken room dug into the bowels of a West Coast barrio.
The barrio was insignificant. The fragrance was central to his existence.
This is my language. There are no codes. She sits there. That is all. In
eclipse. In fission. Hiroshima. Iraq. The San Joaquin Valley. In leather rubies
and grape pesticides. Alive and willing, still. She is traveling sideways, onto
Desolation and Desire. Avenues, voyages ripped from Cadiz and Cadaquez.
Moors and Jews come to her.

This was my beginning. In the fields,
lost in the deserts of California. Many years ago.








Over the past several weeks, I have posted parts one, two and three of The Teeth Mother Naked At Last, the anti-Vietnam poem written in the sixties by Robert Bly. Now, here are parts four and five.


The Teeth Mother Naked At Last

    IV

A car is rolling toward a rock wall.
The treads in the face begin to crack
We all feel like tires being run down roads under heavy
    cars.

The teen-ager imagines herself floating through the Seven
    Spheres.
Oven doors are found
open.
Soot collects over the door frame, has children, takes
    courses, goes mad, and dies.

There is a black silo inside our bodies, revolving fast.
Bits of black paint are flaking off,
where the motorcycles roar, around and around,
rising higher on the silo walls,
the bodies bent toward the horizon,
driven by angry women dressed in black.

****


I know that books are tired of us.
I know they are chaining the Bible to chairs.
Books don't want to remain in the same room with us
    anymore
New Testaments are escaping ... dressed as women...
    they slip out after dark.
And Plato! Plato ... Plato
wants to hurry back up the river of time
so he can end as a blob of seaflesh rotting on an
    Australian beach.


    V

Why are they dying? I have written this so many times.
They are dying because the President has opened a Bible
    again.
They are dying because gold deposits have been found
    among the Shoshoni Indians.
They are dying because money follows intellect,
and intellect is like a fan opening in the wind.

The Marines think that unless they die the rivers will not
     move.
They are dying so that the mountain shadows will
    continue to fall east in the afternoon,
so that the beetle can move along the ground near the
    fallen twigs.







I wrote this poem in 1971 when I was back from military service, finishing college on the GI Bill. It was published that same year by ARX a small journal out of Austin. It's not, of course, remotely in the same class as Robert Bly's piece, in fact, it's not really very good at all, but it is earnest as only a beginning poet can be and it did make a few people cry when I read it (although the possibility of pharmaceutical enhancement of effect can't be discounted).

Whatever its merits as a poem, it's as relevant today as it was 36 years ago, with the single exception that, today, it could as well be the young man at home minding a young child while the young woman is off at the war. I suppose that must qualify as some kind of sorry progress of some sort.


1971


she's eighteen years old
married since last spring
racing now
her first winter
as a woman and a wife

the child of her absent husband
is growing within her
and will soon cry with escape

she faces the time quietly
sitting in the home of her parent
in the room that was hers
for all the years before
listening to little girl music on the radio

she thinks of last winter
when the music seemed so much more
and of the school Christmas party
where they danced

she tries to recapture the time and the feeling
but she can't

she cries
and causes her parents to worry
but they think they understand

she cries and wishes
her husband would return
from his father's war
and tell her she is happy







For not a few years, I thought Allen Ginsberg was the definitive poet and this was the definitive example of what poetry was all about, and as a would-be hipster (at least in my own mind) it was the kind of poetry I tried to write.

I haven't held that view for some time, and now, as a matter of fact, much prefer his smaller, quieter poems. But it is still as exciting as ever to read.


HOWL

            For Carl Solomon

                           I

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
            madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
            looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
            connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
            ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
            up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
            cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
            contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
            saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
            ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
            hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
            among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
            publishing obscene odes on the windows of the
            skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-
            ing their money in wastebaskets and listening
            to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
             Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
            Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
            torsos night after night
            with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-
            cohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
            lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
            Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
            tionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
            dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
            storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
            blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
            vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook-
            lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless
            ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
            until the noise of wheels and children brought
            them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
            battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
            in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
            floated out and sat through the stale beer after
            noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
            of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
            pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook-
            lyn Bridge,
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
            down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
            off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
            and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
            and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
            and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
            Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
            trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic
            City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-
            ings and migraines of China under junk-with-
            drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
            railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
            leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
            through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-
            father night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-
            athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-
            stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis-
            ionary indian angels who were visionary indian
            angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore
            gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla-
            homa on the impulse of winter midnight street
            light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston
            seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the
            brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
            and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship
            to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving
            behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees
            and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire
            place Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
            F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
            eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom-
            prehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting
            the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union
            Square weeping and undressing while the sirens
            of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed
            down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also
            wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
            and trembling before the machinery of other
            skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight
            in policecars for committing no crime but their
            own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were
            dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu-
            scripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly
            motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,
            the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean
            love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose
            gardens and the grass of public parks and
            cemeteries scattering their semen freely to
            whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up
            with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath
            when the blond & naked angel came to pierce
            them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate
            the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar
            the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb
            and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but
            sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden
            threads of the craftsman's loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of
            beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can-
            dle and fell off the bed, and continued along
            the floor and down the hall and ended fainting
            on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and
            come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling
            in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning
            but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun
            rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked
            in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad
            stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
            poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy
            to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
            in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses'
            rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
            gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet-
             ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
             solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
             dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
             picked themselves up out of basements hung
             over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
             Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-
             ment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
             the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
             East River to open to a room full of steamheat
             and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
             cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
             blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
             be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
             the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of
             Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their
             pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
             bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in
             their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
             with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
             by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
             incantations which in the yellow morning were
             stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
             & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable
             kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for
             an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
             for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
             fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess-
             fully, gave up and were forced to open antique
             stores where they thought they were growing
             old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
             on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
             & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
             of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
             fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis-
             ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the
             drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap-
             pened and walked away unknown and forgotten
             into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
             ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
             the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas-
             saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street,
             danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
             phonograph records of nostalgic European
             1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
             threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans
             in their ears and the blast of colossal steam
             whistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
             to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
             watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
             if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
             a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
             came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
             watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
             Denver and finally went away to find out the
             Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
             for each other's salvation and light and breasts,
             until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
             impossible criminals with golden heads and the
             charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
             blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
             Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
             or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
             Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
             daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
             notism & were left with their insanity & their
             hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
             and subsequently presented themselves on the
             granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
             and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in-
             stantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
             Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho-
             therapy occupational therapy pingpong &
             amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
             pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
             blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
             man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the
             East,
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid
             halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock-
             ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
             dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night-
             mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the
             moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
             flung out of the tenement window, and the last
             door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
             slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur-
             nished room emptied down to the last piece of
             mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted
             on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that
             imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of
             hallucination
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
             now you're really in the total animal soup of
             time
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
             with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
             of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat-
             ing plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
             through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
             archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
             and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
             and dash of consciousness together jumping
             with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna
             Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
             prose and stand before you speechless and intel-
             ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-
             fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
             of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
             yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
             and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
             the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
             suffering of America's naked mind for love into
             an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
             cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
             out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand
            years.





If you made it this far, that's it for today. Next week.

1 Comments:
at 2:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

allen,

I am honored to be included in Here and Now.
Such good company!
Once again, it is a stunning issue your poems and your photographs are beautiful.

Martha

Post a Comment



Across The Little Golden Gate   Saturday, July 21, 2007


II.7.3



Welcome to this week's "Here and Now." Lots of good stuff for you, hope you enjoy.






Susan Holahanm has, to put it most modestly, an impressive resume. With both a Ph.D.. in English and a law degree from Yale, she has taught writing at Yale and University of Rochester, practiced law in Connecticut, worked as an editor at Newsday and the Yale University Press, as well as writing and publishing her own poetry. Her poems have appeared in Agni, Crazyhorse and The Women's Review of Books. Her fiction has appeared in, among other places, American Short Fiction,Icarus, and the anthology Bitches and Sad Ladies.

This poem is from her book Sister Betty Reads the Whole You.


How Light, for Example

makes our living, light makes our
life where we live, makes
how I live - like lead
in New Haven, damp on Long Island,
empty I thought in Dallas.
But here in Rochester
the usual platinum light
makes another life altogether,
which is yours, or you.

Here's where you get the speaking
part you've angled for. That day
clouds hid our eclipse till after lunch
we couldn't help it. We crept out
to not-look at the sun while
it was leaving us
a mere annulus. The tulips stilled.
You said the light felt thin
and I thought, lavender?

violet? with gray like before
a summer storm - diluted, rubbed.
Last night that dream again
tore me; both of us in a warehouse
separate in crowds of strangers,
me struggling to write to you
and I admit I didn't own boots.
Let me tell you
everything looked dark.







I wrote this on a rainy afternoon while listening to one of our local college radio stations, KRTU - 91.7 of Trinity University. They play jazz, all shapes, flavors and varieties (except dixieland) 18 hours a day. The station is also available on the web. I recommend them.


jazz on the radio

jazz
on the radio
sax
aching
soul weary
I can't place
him but it's
one of the old
guys
I know from
the solos
the pulse
a heart beat
transformed
and embellished
constant
steady
the art of life
the life of art
pulsing
steady
and constant
many of the
masters
dead this year
every month
another two or
three gone
but the beat
goes on
the old vinyl
discs
reassuring
the pulse of the
art
still strong
lives end
but never the
music ends
reassuring
the life of art
the art of life
constant
steady
jazz
on the radio
settles
the day around
me smoothes
the mechanics
of living







This is as close as I could come to finding biographic information on the web for Doc Dachtler, He has lived and worked in Nevada County for over 35 years. He is as much a social historian as he a poet and storyteller. Doc's writing often deals with everyday rural life and the people and events that weave the fabric of community he calls home. Doc has worked as a one-room schoolteacher at the North Columbia Schoolhouse and currently plies his skills in the trades as a carpenter. He is widely published and is credited with two books of poetry, Drawknife (1985) and Waiting for Chains at Pearl's (1990). He is also the founder of Poison Oak Press, specializing in limited edition letterpress poetry broadsides. To listen to Doc Dachtler is to sit in his living room, share a cup of coffee and enjoy the company of a friend. Unless there are several Doc Dachtler, he has also worked as an actor and general contractor.

These poems are from his second book of poetry Waiting for Chains at Pearl's.


The Bear After the Poker Game

After the poker game
I drove to North Columbia
as best I could
all the windows down for fresh air.
About a mile and a half out of Cherokee
I came upon a black bear
running up the road
in a loose lope.
There were beehives on the flat
just to the left
I slowed down.
The bear slowed down
then left the road to the left.
I wished I was headed
toward some honey
at 3 a.m.


Siding

               for Pam Kowal who told me the name of the siding
              we were putting on a house was Dollie Varton. I
              said I didn't know that but I'd like to meet her.


Hooking
the chalk line on the end of the 1x10
walking
the 16 feet to the other end
hefting
the worm drive skill 77 saw
triggering
the blue arc in the shadow of the case
whirls
the blade dancing dust from the last cut.
Before the fresh chips
(dancing the night before with the women of the
Ridge) and the end of the day
I feel
my body thinning out
my hair thinning out
my vision thinning out
yet clear
as a snapped blue line
cut away
on a tricky piece of siding.








Doc Dachtler seems like an interesting fellow. Here's a man I've been interested in for several years, a man of mystery in a plain bland wrapper.


Invisible man

white hair
short and
neatly shorn
shaved and
nicely dressed
he has
the look
of a retired
watchmaker
with a kind
of blank
intensity
that comes
to a craftsman
of small things

he seems a
shy man
quiet
working hard
at invisibility
as he comes in
every morning
lays down
his bed roll
and backpack
on one of the
upholstered
chairs
visits the
men's room
to tidy up
then spends
an hour in
the music
section
donning the
headsets at
each listening
station from
classical to rap
to country to
jazz, to
conjunto
listens
to them all
then picks up
a book and returns
to his gear and has
one coffee as he reads
for about an hour
sometimes closing
his eyes for a
moment or two
but never sleeping
like the regular
bums who come in
especially in the
winter when the
cold outside pushes
them into whatever
shelter
the can find

I see him
every now and then
walking alongside
the road with
backpack and
bedroll and though
I am curious about
his life and about simple
questions like where
he sleeps and where
he eats and how
he got to the life
he's living now
he doesn't
seem the type
of man
who would
welcome
questions
leading to
attention
and requiring
visibility







Steve Healey teaches writing to prisoners in several Minnesota Correctional Facilities and is Associate Editor of Conduit Magazine. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including American Poetry Review, Fence, jubilat, Open city, and Verse.

This poem is from his first book earthling.



tilt

Long after winding down
the party keeps winding down.

It smiles in the gridlocked smoke
long after swizzle sticks tell the journey
about no one going home with someone
along the underground story lines,

and I remember the part where
you said you can't even remember
the good parts. Here's my self-portrait

as conveyor belt, I've no further
questions. Here's the case of missing bridges

or the justice system of little girls,
I've heard them chant like pickled banshees:

bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish,
how many pieces do you wish?


One, two million, a deluge of yes,
yet missing from the deluge can be sweet,

or no or two placed carefully at points
of least resistance, so heaven's close enough
to taste. I wonder if that's the voice

who took me across the water last week
"halfway between ice ages."

It was mild, yes, with scattered clouds,
which came to see us as ideal listeners
squinting at the silent parts.

Imagine receiving Aaron Burr's bullet
on the cliffs of Weehawken, and according
to their address, Lucy and Ricky
lived at the bottom of the East River,

says the voice that becomes an ocean
no one knows exactly where.

It's all atoms anyway, largely
excreted by faraway stars as part
of an old bedtime story. This carbon atom,

for example, has never died, and since
we've never been to sleep, how many
bridges have we built to feed
this megalopolis? Only later

do they offer the consolation of not
having been, I mean it's never dark here,

and look at those trees happy to wallow
in ignorance of autumn's coming.

Or the fruit, vibrant gray, outside
the bodega. Or the fruit, balanced on
technicolor curves. Or the cut flowers,

like men in a tilting city. Or a man curls
around a fountain while a water blossom

keeps petal-falling back around its
pushing through. Or a man keeps

circling the park, nibbling it
with his yes-shaped mouth.







High School English teacher S. Thomas Summers has been with us before with poems from his Civil War book in progress. These two poems are from his most recent book. Rather, It Should Shine, published by Pudding House Publications in June of this year.

For more information about Scott's books, including how to purchase them, go to his website at www.freewebs.com/sthomassummers. Or, you can just click on the link on the right.

Here are the poems.


To Have and to Hold

Night winds plucked
last leaves off the tall elm,
pasted each crimson
blotch to the house -
a constellation of age spots.

Now I see how much
the paint has faded,
how it curls off the wood
shingles - eyelashes curling
away from an old face.

I ask if you'd prefer
a new color. You spoon
sugar n my coffee, scrape
a finger across my toast
for a taste of jam and say

Perhaps, but the old
blue feels more like home.




Fudd Finally Fells Rabbit

The newsstands sell out
in minutes. The networks cancel
scheduled programming as their
anchors straighten ties, apply

blush and spill the bloody news.
The bunny had been resting
under a tree, munching a carrot,
humming a waltz. Fudd claims

he crept as "sy-went-wee as a cat."
When the departed began
to dance with an invisible love,
the bald hunter aimed his shotgun's

sights between the rodent's
bucked teeth, alleges he stroked
the trigger like the silky edge
of a child's blanket. A black duck,

believed to have witnessed
the killing, asserts the rabbit,
known as a harlequin to most, felt
the world no longer laughed at his jests

and, ever the showman, decided to give
the people what they seemed to want most.







I included a short biography the last time we used a poem by Indian poet Sudeep Sen. I won't repeat that, but will add something new I just noticed in his credits in the book. In addition to his poetry and his work as an editor, Sen also directed several films and co-directed several others, none of whose titles I recognize.

This poem is from his book of poetry Postmarked India, signed by the poet, according to the salutation to someone named "Ray", during a trip he made to San Antonio in February, 2000. It is a longish poem, in eight parts. According to the title it is selected sections "from" a longer poem, but it appears complete to me, so I don't quite know what to make of it.

Anyway, here it is. There are illustrations of each "frame" of the poem that I wish I could duplicate, but can't. Imagine murals lined in dark pencil.


from Mount Vesuvius in Eight Frames - 1994

Prologue

Death has an invisible presence
 In the Vesuvian valley, even the corpses

bear and insidious resemblance, that belie
 shifting shadows in the subterranean alley

Death has an invisible presence,
 so does life, in its incipience and its ends,

linked, like two inverted arches, bent
 to meet in a circle at their ends.

 Strips of zinc, metal coated in wax,
bathed in acid, are scratched.

 Year's twelve seasons reducted to eight -
the image slowly unfolds its fate

 in the half-light, under transparent
protection of paper, moist and permanent,

 etching the once-flowing blood stream,
now frozen as rich loam, ribbed lava reams.


      1

But the story began long ago: Remember
 the young couple, together

starting their life, their dream house
 distilled from that embryo's yoke.

The site chosen, the view determined -
 Mount Vesuvius - this centerpiece

to be framed by an arched window pane
 of the bedroom's intimacy, and space.


      2

 Their house started breathing, piecing
itself at night - the slow cementing

 of bricks, supports, and the arch.
The building traces its curve, its arms

 locking tension in place. The spade
like a magical brush made

 everything circulate, outlining
the movements, the inhabiting

of specific spaces, and the furniture's
 place. In a grand overture

the wooden bed with curved ends
 was placed right beneath the rails

of the window, overseen by Vesuvius.
 "Lava God!" they prayed, "Bless us,

our love, and our curse." The union of
 flesh, blood, smoke and bones.


      3

 The evening unfolded naturally
and quietly, as deceptively

 as the view's receding perspective
drew them to the mountain peak -

 to its air, the snow, its dust and fire.
Fire engulfed their bodies, their

 fingers, burning nail-tips, furrowing
lines of passion on each other's skins.


      4

It was freezing. The flames, frozen
 like tense icicles - hard-edged,

brittle, tentative, chilled, eager.
 The night brought a strange winter.

That night there was black rain,
 everywhere - nowhere to escape,

except amongst the synovial spaces
 of their intertwined limbs, as

 their bodies remained locked in fear
and in death, around each other.

 A marriage made in heaven, and in hell
buried unknowingly - skeletal

 remains transfixed in the passion of
the very first night, unaware of

 the world's changed face
and the undone terrain,

now completely re-done, different -
 calcified, stripped, eroded, irreverent -

the bright skies sheltering the ruins,
 the dark soil protecting the fossils.

Death has an invisible presence
 in the Vesuvian valley, even the corpses

bear and insidious resemblance, that belie
 shifting shadows in the subterranean alley.


      5

 Years later, two grave-diggers (or
archeologists, or conservationists, or

 restorationists), stumble, quite
by chance, upon this ancient site.

 searching for something else,
following a geological trail -

 a chameleon path of buried ash -
remains of civilization, now washed.

Work began: digging into the skin
 of the earth, defacing the soil, its

texture gradually ground further,
 reducing the grains finer and deeper.

Then liquid was poured, funneling
 the volcanic shaft, clearing

the debris of the past
 itself, to unearth the past.


      6

 Then, a violent tremor, the plates
shifted, skies darkened, there was rain,

 heavy rain - a rain of redemption, healing
the lepered limbs, slowly washing

 the bones to the last brittle and grain.
Death has an invisible presence

 in the Vesuivian valley, even corpses
bear peculiar insidious resemblance.


      7

Now, people come in great numbers, pay
 to see the same space -

the house, the room, that bed,
 the couple mummified as they last slept,

left unmoved, untouched, unaged.
 Mount Vesuvius still guard their gate

and the view - the outside
 of the past, and the life, inside.


      8

 the dead: All neatly packed
in small square groups, and

 in even multiples of eight,
nailed, framed, and glass-encased.

 even the new grave-diggers pay,
the elderly mountain pays

 too - in twos, fours, and eights.
Pompeii remains, uncontained


Strips of zinc, metal coated in wax,
 bated in acid, now re-scratched.

Year's twelve seasons reduced to eight -
 the image slowly unfolding its fate

in the half-light, under transparent
 protection of paper, moist and permanent,

etching the flowing blood stream, life
 frozen, yet unfrozen, rich lava, alive.


    Epilogue:


 Death has an invisible presence
in the Vesuvian valley, even the corpses

 bear an insidious resemblance, that belie
shifting shadows, in the subterranean alley.

 Death has an invisible presence,
so does life, in its incipience and its ends,

 linked, like two inverted arches, bent
to meet in a circle at their ends.







I've been in a kind of remembering and reporting mood for a while and and my poems, like this one and most of the others, reflect that. One of the problems with that is, even though I'd like to be writing some shorter pieces, once I get started remembering, the memories start to jump into the poem on their own.



fulton street hustlers

it's eleven
in the morning
and you can tell
the drinkers,
the
down-
but-not-
outers,
squinting
in the mid-
day sun
as they cross
fulton street,
leaving their
$40-a-week
motel room,
heading for
breakfast
at one of
the dozen
taco shops
in the neigh
borhood,
chorizo and
eggs with
a side of
refried
beans, two
flour tortillas
black sludge
coffee and
six aspirin
for the head
that won't stop
aching until
they get their
first beer,
their scrambled
eggs chaser
that officially
starts the day

mostly men,
careful with
appearances,
fresh shined
boots, sharp
creased jeans
and starched
long-sleeve
cowboy shirts
with fake pearl
snaps,
pool shooters,
dart throwers,
penny tossers,
pinball wizards,
and hustlers of
most every kind,
living on the edge
always, on the edge
of losing usually,
they live on alcohol
and beer nuts,
cheap
meals at flytrap
eateries and
dark places where
the truth is only
what you can seen
in a smoked bar
mirror, where pre-
tending is easier
than not







August Stramm, born in 1874, was a German poet and playwright, considered one of the first of the expressionists. He also served in the German Army and was killed in action during World War I.

A collection of his poems, titled Dripping Blood, was published after his death in 1919.

These two poems are from the book Music while drowning a collection of German expressionist poems. The books editor makes a point in his introduction of the close relationships between German expressionist writers and painters during the early 20th century and how the work on one side affected the work on the other. The book includes illustrations, which I can't reproduce, unfortunately, that emphasize that symbiosis.

Anyone familiar with my own evolving style will quickly recognize one of the reasons I like Stramm's poems. Here are two of them.


War Instinct

Eye's flash
Your look cracks
Hot
Streams the bleeding over me
And
Drenches
Runnels of sea.
You flash and flare.
Life forces
Flame
Mildew deludes
And
Knits
And
Knits.

(Translated by Will Stone and Anthony Vivis)


Fallen

Heaven films the eye
earth claws the hand
air hums
weeping
and
twines
women's lamentation
in the stranded hair

(Translated by Patrick Bridgewater)







Here's a poem out of rural Virginia by friend and fellow poet, Dave Ruslander. This poem is from his book Voices In My Head.

Your can find out more about Dave's book by clicking on his link on the right.


Black Dog

Amber stalks blow in warmth
as the summer sun reels over
          California hillsides.

Grassroots still live in drought
through life has been leached
          from their blades.

Drunk from autumn rains,
they will toss their tassels
          kissing neighbors

I contemplate cycles - calm, stormy,
                dark and light,
          interrupted by a sudden flight
              into blue: a covey of quails.

The black dog is running through the fields.








Next, a realistically romantic piece from Carol Ann Duffy. Duffy was born in Scotland in 1955 and grew up and was educated in England. In addition to her "grown-up" poems for which she has received many awards, she also equally awarded children's poems.

This poem is from the anthology 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, compiled by Billy Collins.


Valentine

Not a rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
It's fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are
...







There are many kinds of self-abuse. Here's one of them.

And, again, I admit to stealing the title from a country and western ditty from fifteen or twenty years ago. In the song, he's being denied his husbandly privilages. This poem is about self-denial, as well as denial of self.


queen of denial

I saw her
yesterday
as she got
our of her
volvo
convertible

dark sunglasses
long platinum
blond hair
with a dark
roast tan
that never
saw the sun
and must have
cost a fortune
lips and nails
red like fire
engine blush
and thin
high fashion
thin another
way to say
excruciating
famine in
africa thin

I said hello
but she didn't
respond
smile options
botoxed
from memory
and I imagine
the human
buried some
where within
this artifact
the pretty little
girl with the
wide open
smile
who grew
into this
gargoyle
sacrificed to
desperation







Our next poem is from Michael Van Wallenghen, a professor of English at the University of Illinois. The poem is from his third collection, Blue Tango.


The Age of Reason

Once, my father got invited
by an almost perfect stranger

a four hundred pound alcoholic
who brought the drinks all day

to go really flying sometime
sightseeing in his Piper cub

and my father said Perfect!
Tomorrow was my birthday

I'd be seven years old, a chip
off the old daredevil himself

and we'd love to go flying.
We'd even bring a case of beer.

My father weighed two fifty
two seventy-five in those days

the beer weighed something
the ice, the cooler. I weighed

practically nothing: forty-five
maybe fifty pounds at the most -

just enough to make me nervous.
Where were the parachutes? Who

was this guy? Then suddenly
there we were lumbering

down a bumpy, too short runway
and headed for a fence...

Holy Shit! my father shouted
and that's it, all we need

by the way of miraculous
to lift us in a twinkling

over everything - fence, trees
and powerline. What a birthday!

We were really flying now...
We were probably high enough

to have another beer in fact,
high enough to see Belle Isle

the Waterworks, Packard's
and the Chrysler plant.

We could even see our own
bug-sized house down there

our own backyard, smaller
than a chewed-down thumbnail.

We wondered if my mother
was taking down the laundry

and if she'd wave...Lightning
trembled in the thunderheads

above Belle Isle. Altitude
2,500; air speed: one twenty

but the fuel gauge I noticed
quivered right on empty...

I'd reached the age of reason.
Our pilot lit a big cigar.







Now, the next installment of the anti- Vietnam War poem The Teeth Mother Naked at Last by Robert Bly. Some might question why I continue to post sections of this poem, while, with each posting, mentioning the reservations I have about it.

I continue to use it because, despite my reservations about the poet, the poem is brilliant. And, each time I post it, I think more about my reservations and come closer to understanding them. It is the coldness I sense in the poem that continues to bother me, and the impression I get that Bly, however brilliantly he might write of the pain and blood of war, never actually knew anyone who died in this or any other war. Plus, a real, if possibly unfair, feeling that the Vietnamese deaths weigh on him more than the American dead. It seems a white hat/black hat affair to him, a simplistic approach that can't see or understand the tragedy in the gray.

Anyway, here's the third section of the poem, abused by me again, as usual.


The Teeth Mother Naked At Last

    III

This is what it's like for a rich country to make war.
This is what it's like to bomb huts (afterwards described
    as "structures").
This is what it's like to kill marginal farmers (afterwards
    described as "Communists").

This is what it's like to see the altimeter needle going
    mad:

    Baron 25, this is 81. Are there any friendlies in the area?
    81 from 25, negative on the friendlies. I'd like you to
    take out as many structures as possible located in those
    trees within 200 meters east and west of my smoke mark.


    diving, the green earth swinging, cheeks hanging back,
    red pins blossoming ahead of us, 20-millimeter cannon
    fire, leveling off, rice fields shooting by like telephone
    poles, smoke rising, hut roofs loom up huge as landing
    fields, slugs going in, half the huts on fire, small figures
    running, palm trees burning, shooting past, up again
     ...blue sky...cloud mountains...

This is what it's like to have a gross national product.

This is what it's like to send firebombs down from air-
    conditioned cockpits.
This is what it's like to fire into a reed hut with an
    automatic weapon.

When St. Francis renounced his father's goods,
when he threw his clothes on the court floor,
then the ability to kiss the poor leapt up from the floor to
    his lips.
We claim our father's clothes, and pick up other people's,
finally we have three or four layers of clothes.
Then all at once it is fated, we cannot help ourselves,
we fire into a reed hut with an automatic weapon.

It's because the aluminum window-shade business is
    doing well in the United States
that we spread fire over entire villages.
It's because the trains coming into New Jersey hit the
    right switches every day
that Vietnamese me are cut in two by bullets that
    follow each other like freight trains.
It's because the average hospital bed now costs two
    hundred dollars a day
that we bomb the hospitals in the north.

It is because we have so few women sobbing in back
    rooms,
because we have so few children's heads torn apart by
    high velocity bullets,
because we have so few tears falling on our own hands,
that the Super Sabre turns and screams down toward the
    earth.






You pick up the newspaper and the headline today is the same as the headline yesterday and the day before and days before for five years and you realize there will be no meaningful accountability for the stupidity and stubbornness that is the travesty producing the headlines. The idea that the people causing this will never face any judgment except for the one you haven't believed in in years is enraging.


the list

this is what
I know

he is
a child of
new york
not yet
of an age
to vote
barely
of an age
to shave
dead
in that
foreign
bloody
place from
the blast
of a road
side bomb

this is what
I believe

his name
is seared
on a list
that will be
read when
the day of
accounting
comes
for those who
wasted
his life
and
for the
first time
in my life
I truely do
hope
there is
a hell







Here's another piece from Dale McLain. She joined us last week for the first time with a great poem. She posted this poem yesterday on the Wild Poetry Forum and it was so good and so on with other pieces I was using, I decided to ignore my cooling off rule and bring her back, for the second week in a row.

Here's the poem.


deferred

There were always the parlor tricks,
a card drawn from a powdered bosom,
the drinking glass crushed in your bare hand,
no blood or water, but an orange
swallowtail emerging from the shards.

I would lean against a quaintly peeling column
on the south end of the porch, nurse
my scotch and watch you charm the ladies.
The flowers bloomed to compliment
your eyes. That summer we forgot the war

though Jimmy and Oswald were missing
and Luther's grave was still mounded and raw.
You joked about your asthma, feigned so weak
a breath you could not sigh over Ella's copper
curls or Caroline's perfect, beribboned waist.

You were an emperor in linen slacks,
a deity with boyish hair and spotless hands.
I worshipped you like all the rest.
In my cups, I allowed myself to sweeten
the memory of your kiss with a rich honey

of dreamed devotion. You belonged to all
of us, accepted our preening like a sparrow,
tamed and clipped. Did I love you
best or only truthfully? The tremble
in your hands took my breath.

Because I stood apart,
that prodigal summer, you chose me
to find you hanging like a lone pennant
in the boathouse. I took this for love







And Alice Folkart is back this week to. I so like her work, I always want to use everything she does.


Spent Rain

Awake when I should be asleep
sleep walking?
sleep waking?
sleep writing?

I sit in the light,
surrounded by darkness,
deep, black,
sounded
with cackling,
chuckling,
a bird?
An animal hunting,
scrabbling through the leaves?

I step outside into the hot night.
No stars, no wind,
just drip, drip, drip
the hollow sound of
spent rain off the eaves.

Sounds as tired as I am.







The Classical Tamil Anthologies refers to a body of classical literature created the Tamil people, a subgroup in India with a 2000 year recorded history, between the years 200 BCE and 300 CE. The anthologies include 2381 poems written by some 473 known and anonymous poets, both men and women, from various professions and classes of society. The poems fell out of popular memory beginning about 1000 CE. then were rediscovered the 19th century by scholars such as S. V. Damodaram Pillai and U. V. Swaminatha Iyer.

Here are examples of the works in the Anthologies. All are translated by A.K. Ramanujan.


The first poem is by Mamalatan a poet of the classical Tamil period. I was able to find several reference to him/her on the web, as well as references to this particular poem, but no biographical information.


What She Said

Don't they really have
in the land where he has gone

such things
as house sparrows

dense-feathered, the color of fading water lilies,
pecking at grain drying on yards,
playing with the scatter of the fine dust
of the streets' manure
and living with their nestlings
in the angles of the penthouse

and miserable evenings,

and loneliness?



The next poem is by Maturaikkataiayattar Makan Vennakan. I could find nothing about him/her on the web.


What She Said To Her Girl-Friend

Once, you said
let's go, let's go
to the gay carnival in the big city:

that day
the good elders spoke of many good omens
for our going.
But he waylaid me,
gave me a slingshot and rattles
for scaring parrots,
and a skirt of young leaves
which he said looked good
on me.

and with his lies
he took the rare innocence
that mother had saved for me

        And now I am like this.


Now, a poem by Maturai Eruttlan Centamputan. Again, I could find references to his work, but no bio. Somebody who knows something about classical Tamil poets ought to get to work with Wikipedia on this.

What She Said

Before I laughed with him
      nightly

      the slow waves beating
      on his wide shores
      and the palmyra
      bringing forth heron-like flowers
      near the waters,

my eyes were like the lotus
my arms had the grace of the bamboo
my forehead was mistaken for the moon

      but now


Kannan, our next poet, is recognized for his/her place as a poet of the classical Tamil era, but no more detail of his life could be found.


What Her Girl-Friend Said To Him

Sir,
      not that we did not hear the noise
      you made trying to open the bolted doors,
      a robust bull elephant
      stirring in the night
of everyone's sleep;
      we did. But as we fluttered inside
      like a peacock in the net,
      crest broken, tail feathers flying,

      our good mother held us close
      in her innocence
      thinking to quell our fears.


And a last one by Kollan Arici. Again, though he seems to be an important person in world literature, the web seems to know nothing of him.


What Her Friend Said

The great city fell asleep
but we did not sleep.
Clearly we heard, all night,
from the hillock next to our house
the tender branches of the flower-crusted tree
with laves like peacock feet
let fall
their blue-sapphire flowers.







Here's another of those remembering things.


2 am to 2 pm

there was a time
when I drove a
yellow cab in
a small city in
south texas

barely 21
and just a
couple of months
of legal age
for the job,
I drove 2 pm
to 2 am, 7 days
a week and on
a good week
might have made
$30 which was
crap for money even
for south texas
in 1965

I made the
airport runs,
took little old
ladies to the
supermarket
in the afternoon,
picked up the
whores when
the sun went
down for a trip
across town
to a couple
of the motels
that specialized
in assuring cotton
buyers had interesting
company
in the evening
when they came in
from the fields
hot, hungry and
horny,
and, of course,
between
whores,
the semi-drunks
on their way
to total blackout
smash-
dom
at any one of the five
hundred cantinas
on the south
side,
knowing I'd see them
again at 1 am when
the bar's closed

I hated
that last hour,
the hour of the drunks,
smelling them
passed out
in my back seat,
watching
couples
in my rear view
mirror
either in a state
of semi-fuck or
punching each other
out, hauling the old
shrimper who came home
every three months
with a pocketful of money
that he usually
got beaten out of him
in some dark bar or another,
getting into my cab all beat
to shit, drunk, struggling
to come up with the 75 cents
he needed to get home
to his mother,
a ninety year old
crone
he cursed
from the time
he got into the cab
until he got home,
stumbling
to his front door,
and I'll not forget
the guy with the knife,
drunk enough to think
he could mug me,
so drunk
he dropped his knife
and while he was
crawling around
the back seat
looking for it
I was able to pull over
and toss him out on the
street, spitting
and cussing at me
in spanish
and some other
language
foreign to me
and maybe to him
as well

I hated the job,
but I was driving
an old '49 chevy
fastback
junker
and it was nice
to drive around in a
new taxicab all day and
as for the lousy pay,
if I had been willing
to work a lot harder
I could have made more money
picking
cotton,
but I did that once
never wanted to do it again
so I figured
the whores
and drunks
and little old ladies
were a better deal
overall,
as long as they
left their
knives
at home







We're going on two more little trips with Blaise Cendrars, then let him rest up some. But there is still, in weeks ahead, a whole world to discover with Blaise.

For now, though, there's this.


VII. City of Frisco

It's an old hulk eaten away by rust
Twenty times in dry dock and engine makes only 7 or 8 knots
And to economize they burn old half-used cinders and cast-off coal
They hoist some makeshift sails every time there's a puff of wind

With his scarlet face his bushy eyebrows his pimply nose Captain
    Hopkins is a real sailor
Little silver rings pierce his ears
This ship is loaded exclusively with the caskets of Chinese who died in
    America but who wanted to be buried in their native land
Oblong boxes red or light blue or covered with golden inscriptions
Now that's a type of merchandise illegal to transport


VIII. Vancouver

In the thick fog that packs the boats and docks you can barely hear the
    bell ringing ten o'clock
The docks are deserted and the town is fast asleep
You walk along the low and sandy coast where a glacial wind is blowing
    and the long Pacific waves are breaking
The pale spot in the murky shadows is the station for the Canadian
    Northern the Grand Trunk
And those bluish halos in the wind are steamers bound for the Klondike
    Japan and the East Indies
It's so dark I can barely make out the street sign as I lug my suitcase
    around looking for a cheap hotel

Everyone has embarked
The oarsmen are bent over the oars and the heavy boat loaded to the
    gunwales pushes into the high waves
From time to time a little hunchback at the tiller changes their course
Steering his way through the mist guided by a foghorn
They bump against the dark mass of the ship and Siberian huskies rise
    on the starboard quarter
Washed out in the gray-white-yellow
As they were loading fog







Often, in my opinion, life is much simpler if you just accept that what is is what is and what is gonna be.


good idea, I'll start next tuesday

I'm old
and I'm fat
with a belly
like a beach
ball got blown
up inside
and hope
someday
to be older
and thinner
but will settle
for older
with beach
ball intact
if that's
the price
to pay
and
all good
resolutions
aside
I think
it might be
the best
I'll ever do
anyway
given
my knack
for denial is
near extinct






That's it for this week. Time to grab the old ride and book it.

1 Comments:
at 1:15 PM Blogger Jim Doss said...

Allen,

Great looking site, and I love the variety of materials you post here. I'd like to find out more about Blaise Cendrars. Is there a book you would recommend?

Jim

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