Saturday, August 18, 2007
We're back on this third Saturday of August with our latest "Here and Now" outing. It's been a good summer so far, with July setting records for cool temperatures and rain. There's a storm system in the Gulf as I write this that promises us several more days of rain to cool us off again for at least a while. All in all, it hasn't been bad this year in terms of hideously hot weather, good news for those of us who, even through we spent most of life in it, find it harder and harder to endure each year.
I think you will enjoy us this week, old and new poets, establishment stars and a good selection of writing-as-we-speak web poets, American poets, as well as British, Mexican, French, Chinese and Pakistani poets, and a rapper-poet for seasoning. This week it's a little bit of everything, which is as good a definition of what we hope to be about as you'll find anywhere.
Here's a piece by Nikki Giovanni from her book My House published in 1972 by William Morrow & Co.
When I Die
when i die i hope no one who ever hurt me cries
and if they do cry i hope their eyes fall out
and a million maggots that had made up their brains
crawl from the empty holes and devour flesh
that covered the evil that passed itself off as a person
that I probably tried
when i die i hope every worker in the national security
the interpol the fbicia foundation for the development
of black women gets
an extra bonus and asked why they didn't work as hard for us
as they did
but it always seems to be that way
please don't let them read "nikki-roasa" maybe just let
some black woman who called herself my friend go around
each and every book and let some black man who said it was
negative of me to want him to be a man collect every picture
and poster and let them burn - throw acid on them - shit
on them as
the did me while I tried
and as soon as i die i hope everyone who loved me learns
of my death which is a simple lesson
don't do what you do very well very well and enjoy it it
scares white folk
and makes black ones truly mad
but i do hope someone tells my son
his mother liked little old ladies with
their blue dresses and hats and gloves that sitting
by the window
to watch the dawn come up is valid that smiling at an old
and petting a dog don't detract from manhood
tell him i knew all along that what would be
is what will be but i wanted to be a new person
and my rebirth was stifled not by the master
but by the slave
and if ever i touched a life i hope that life knows
that i know that touching was and still is and will always
be the true
[9 jan 72]
Here's a small short piece by S. Thomas Summers from his book Death Settled Well published last year by Shadows Ink Publications.
Scott has been with us several times and we're always pleased to read his work.
Again at the Corner of Parish and Pike
Today, it's the red sneakers
hanging from a telephone
wire like an earring
hooked to the soft
flesh of this sunrise.
A breeze teeters on the tips
of cornstalks, caresses
my face - an old mother
who needs her boy home.
This poem by Hawaiian poet Juliet Kono is from the book Across State Lines published in 2003 by Dover Publications. It is dedicated this week to "Here and Now" friend and frequent contributor, Alice Folkart, former Californian and now Hawaii's newest poet.
At cold daybreak
up the mountainside
to Haleakala Crater.
Our hands knot
under the touch of
your old army blanket.
We pass protea
and carnation farms
Upon this one place
from the ancient
by the sun.
Like love, sometimes,
at their first
and rare flowering.
This is another old poem rewritten. The original on this was only about five or six years old, but much to dense, wordy and long. The only thing I left in this of the old piece is the central idea of family as music.
never far from
each of the one
time and distance
foreign and remote,
spun off from
their primordial source
but still of that
and of its binding
Here's something a little different for "Here and Now," two short poems by Tupac Shakur from his book The Rose That Grew From Concrete, published by MTV Books/Pocket Books in 1999, three years after his murder. These poems were transcribed from his handwritten notebook and were not previously published. The book includes his original notes, with changes and revisions he made as he was writing. It is interesting to see his self-editing, as well as the doodles that accompany some of the notes.
Please wake me when I'm free
I cannot bear captivity
where my culture I'm told holds no significance
I'll wither and die in ignorance
But my inner eye can c a race
who reigned as kings in another place
the green of trees wee rich and full
and every man spoke of beautiful
men and women together as equals
War was gone because all was peaceful
But now like a nightmare I wake 2 c
That I live like a prisoner of poverty
Please wake me when I'm free
I cannot bear captivity
4 I would rather be stricken blind
than 2 live without expression of mind
Today is filled with anger
Fueled with hidden hate
Scared of being outcast
Afraid of common fate
Today is built on tragedies
which no one wants 2 face
Nightmares 2 humanities
and morally disgraced
Tonight is filled with rage
Violence in the air
Children bred with ruthlessness
Because no one at home cares
Tonight I lay my head down
But the pressure never stops
gnawing at my sanity
content when I am dropped
But 2morrow I c change
A chance 2 build anew
Built on spirit, intent of heart
and ideals based on truth
And 2morrow I wake with second wind
And strong because of pride
2 know I fought with all my heart 2 keep my dream alive
Tina Hoffman writes about herself:
I am a 45 year old Ohio native who lived most of my years so far where I'm currently at except for a slight departure of seven years in West Virginia, from where this piece was originally submitted (November, 1998, posted on St. Agatha's.) It sprung from a philosophical discussion on a forum about creativity, what inspires, and how best to utilize and synthesize inspiration without stepping on the original creator's toes.
I was the first woman poet to win the IBPC contest in February, 2001, only a year after its inception with Revelations 361 (first place, submitted by The Writer's Block) and Saving Grace (second place, submitted by Gandy Creek.) I have alternately enjoyed and been disappointed in watching the growth of the Internet as a place for poets, artists and people to practice their own freedom of speech and expression but am proud to be among one of the first women to be recognized on this venue as an aspiring female poet. (The Internet was sort of the Wild West of poetic freedom, then .... and now? Perhaps. Let's hope!)
Readers may have also seen my postings in the past at other forums, such as Blueline, Web del Sol, Alsop Review (Gazebo/St. Agatha's, MiPo Zine, The Melic Review, Poets4Peace, among a few others that I don't believe even exist anymore.) I am now, as time permits, primarily posting old/new works at the Wild Poetry Forum. There are great teachers everywhere out there, you just have to seek them out and listen for their words.
Find your favorite place and stick with it for awhile. That's what I do and did - it still pays off in the perfection of my personal growth as a writer, plus you get to read alot of really great poems and see things from other people's perspectives!!
My poetry has only been published once in hard copy, in a local Toledo city paper, two poems, also both poems at once (2001, Sunset Silhouettes"and Wet, I think, I'd have to dig out that rag again to check, under the pen name "Marie Brown" - my middle name and my maiden name) and as a result of winning a contest. I have never been paid for my poetic works. I hope one day to get paid a little for my writings, but don't really feel that to be critical - my reward is rather, just to utilize my art to learn, inform, relieve personal stress, and to feel my own inspiration and creativity burst forth. The medium I use is less important to me, as is the cash, though of course, as I continue to grow and improve my craft, I am likely to pursue Capital Avenue. We'll see. I could use the money. LOL. Stay tuned.
I read this piece on Wild Poetry Forum and found it both interesting and fun. There is a wild soul at work here. Enjoy it, they are rare.
Some unoriginal thoughts about plagiarism (1) and my poetic misdemeanor:
I was just thinking....(2) that all this noise about plagiarism (and I shudder at the word (3) ) is much ado about nothing. (4) Frankly, the concept for my poem "Window Seat" (5) came from one of those global spam email things that clutters everyone's mailboxes these days. I received it a few months ago, read it....went "hmmm....thought provoking....cool" and deleted it. There was no attribution of author or the story in the email, it just was. (6)
Well, a few months later, home alone (7) and bored, I sat down to my pc, feeling creative, in a vacuous way, and started playing around with that idea from the old email, vaguely recalling the general concept, and thinking, originality is measured by how well you disguise your unoriginal idea. (8) After all, truly wise thoughts have already been thought a thousand times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience. (9) Hey. I can do that. I think I can (10) anyway. I forged ahead, recalling discussions on various poetry forums recently regarding plagiarism, and stealing for creativity's sake...."bad poets borrow, good poets steal," (a11) right? The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources ....(12) but I had nothing to hide! I had nothing in front of me. This was no wholesale theft (13) or kidnapping of someone else's words, no plunder of phrasing or sentence structure (14) or appropriation of ideas, writings, or inventions of another without due acknowledgment. (15) Who the hell would I acknowledge? (Sorry Bob, those 50's Sci-Fi movie plots are WAY before my time!) Ignorance is preferable to error, (16) and fortuitously, I couldn't even remember who sent me the email. But still, some unknown soul came up with the general concept, should receive credit where credit is due. (17) Isn't it funny how when people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other? (18) Well, my fingers hovered over the keys, itching....it was such a wonderful concept! Would definitely make a great poem. Still, I wrestled with doubt....doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainly is absurd! (19) I decided, what does not destroy me, makes me strong! (20) I started to create. I saw the whole design. (21) As I typed, I seemed to vaguely recall some little known fine print statement in copyright law which "generally allows fair use of up to 300 words that may be used without the permission of the copyright owner, copyright law could not be applied to certain cases of lengthy paraphrases." (22) Type. Type type. Tippy type type. OK. So I can use the idea and not get sued by "anonymous." Cool. What about ethics? I thought about my motives; was it the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness? (23) Some benefit to mankind? Looking for personal glory, recognition of self-fulfillment? (24) Hell no! Mostly I was seeking boredom relief and waxing poetic. Well, nobody asked me, but (25) I do know that the nice thing about standards are there are so many to choose from! (26) Besides, I have an attorney, I wasn't trying to publish anything, my intentions were an honest indulgence in frivolity and boredom relief, and it's all one big note (27) anyway. So I wrote the poem and posted it. I didn't think, I experimented. (28) I'm still learning.
(29) Yes, I's wicked....I is. I's mighty wicked, anyhow. I can't help it...(30) I can resist everything but temptation. (31) I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again. (32) But I did. These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others. (33)
Hey, call me Ishmael, (34) but let's make the punishment fit the crime(35); there are bigger fish to fry. (36) Forgive and forget. (37) That's what friends are for. (38) The poet will go and sin no more. (39) Quoth VM, nevermore. (40)
Besides, this report, by its very length defends itself against being read. (41) I'' writing another poem.
Yours in creativity,
The author gratefully acknowledges the following living, anonymous, or posthumously for their contributions:
1) Jack E. White, columnist, Time Magazine
2) Mike Barnicle, columnist, Boston Globe
4) William Shakespeare
5) VM (no one is really sure who this is)
6) some Zen saying I think
7) Movie title
8) Randy Breneman II ( a friend, he is probably quoting somebody also)
9) Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
10) The Little Engine That Could
11) T.S. Eliot
12) Albert Einstein
13) Bob Billard, Alsop Review
14) Sharon Williams "Avoiding Plagiarism - Academic Writing at WFU" quoting Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary
15) Baylor College of Medicine Dept of Microbiology and Immunology "Plagiarism and the Art of Skillful Citation"
16) Thomas Jefferson
17) Hell if I know who said that
18) Eric Hoffer
20) F. Nietzche
21) Elizabeth Barret Browning
22) Baylor College of Medicine Dept of Microbiology and Immunology "Plagiarism and the Art of Skillful Citation"
23) The Declaration of Independence (too many authors to name)
24) Baylor College of Medicine Dept of Microbiology and Immunology "Plagiarism and the Art of Skillful Citation"
25) Jimmy Cannon
26) C. Northcote Parkinson
27) Frank Zappa
28) Shelly Wilhelm Roentgen
30) Harriet Beecher Stowe
31) Oscar Wilde
32) Bart Simpson
33) Groucho Marx
34) Herman Melville
36) still searching for the credit on this one
37) and this one too
38) Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager
39) Jesus (paraphrased)
40) Edgar A. Poe (paraphrased)
41) Winston Churchill
Thank you for listening.
(Tina Hoffman, the artist formerly known as VM.)
Su Shi lived in the first century of the second millennium, born of a family of officials and distinguished scholars. With his connections and ability he secured a high imperial position. In addition to his not always calm and stable political life, he was also an innovator and master of poetry, prose, calligraphy and painting. Nearly 3,000 of his poems survive. Here are several of them from The Anchor Book Of Chinese Poetry, published by Anchor Books in 2005.
Boating at Night on West Lake
Wild rice stems endless on the vast lake.
Night-blooming lotus perfumes the wind and dew.
Gradually the light of a far temple appears.
When the moon goes black, I watch the lake gleam.
from Rain on the Festival of Cold Food
The spring river is pushing at my door
but the rain will not let up.
My small house is like a fishing boat
surrounded by water and clouds.
In the empty kitchen cold vegetables are boiled,
wet reeds burning in the broken stove.
Who knows it is the Cold Food Festival?
Ravens carry the dead's money in their bills,
the emperor sits behind nine doors,
and my ancestors' tombs are ten thousand li away.
I want to cry at the forked road.
Dead ashes won't blow alive again.
Because of a Typhoon I Stayed at Gold Mountain for Two Days
Up in the tower a bell is talking to itself.
The typhoon will wash out the ferry by tomorrow.
Dawn comes with white waves dashing dark rocks
and shooting through my window like deflected arrows.
A dragon boat of a hundred tons couldn't cross the river
but a fishing boat dances there like a tossed leaf.
It makes me think, why rush to the city?
I’ll laugh at such fury of snakes and dragons,
stay aimlessly till the servants start to wonder
- with this kind of storm, my family won't mind.
I look for my friend, monk Qianshan. He's alone,
meditating past midnight and listening for the breakfast drum.
(Poems translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping)
Connie Walker is a retired RN after 40 years of Critical Care and Diabetes Education. Served in the US Navy Nurse Corp. She lived and worked in Saudi Arabia from 1980-1990, during which time she traveled to about 40 different countries. Lived in Cornwall, England where her first novel takes place. She's been writing poetry for about 25 years and hopes to write for another 25 years.
Sand dunes sculpted by the winds change from tan to red as we near the escarpment. A small cluster of date palms seems lost in the vast stretch of nothingness. Scorching sun blazes down, sending heat waves quivering along the horizon.
a cloudless blue sky
golden sands of days gone by
beauty fills my heart
White tents of the Bedouin camp come into view. A thread of smoke curls skyward. In a nearby pen, goats curiously watch us approach. In another pen, several camels send us a haughty glance. It is Ahmed and Hassan who rise from the sand near the campfire to greet us, as old friends do.
smiles spread on craggy faces
welcome to our home
Women in their colorful robes, spread blankets on the sand. Soon cardamon flavored coffee and hot mint tea are passed around this circle of friends. Children peek from behind their mothers skirts and giggle, curious yet shy whenever we catch their glance. They never ask but wait anxiously for the gifts they suspect and hope are in my bag. Toy flutes and bubble pipes bring laughter to their hearts.
bubbles surround us
iridescent in the sun
drift up to heaven
Soon sun sets in westward skies, painted with red and violet. We bid good bye to friends and a life I can't but envy. Time stands still in the bedouin camp. Their lives unchanged over centuries. They possess no golden coins, no palace walls shelter them. Their riches are in their kindness and welcoming spirit. That is the treasure they gave to me.
time has slipped away
a lone flute bids fond adieu
night's silence descends.
Back, now, to the travels of Blaise Cendrars at the tail end of the 19th century. This week his journey has taken him to the American South.
The poems are from the book Blaise Cendrars, Complete Poems published by the University of California Press in 1992. All poems in the book are translated by its editor, Ron Padgett
The train has just stopped
Just two passengers get off on this broiling end-of-summer morning
Both are dressed in khaki suits and pith helmets
Both are followed by a black servant who carries the baggage
Both glance absentmindedly at the distant houses that are too white at
the sky that is too blue
You see the wind raising swirls of dust and flies pestering the two mules
harnessed to the only coach
The driver is asleep his mouth open
It's small but quite comfortable
The flooring is held up by bamboo posts
Vanilla plants climbing all over
Above which burst magnolia and poinciana flowers
The dining room is designed with the sense of luxury characteristic of
Big chunks of ice in yellow marble vases keep the room deliciously cool
The plates and crystal sparkle
And behind each guest stands a black servant
The diners take it slow and easy
Stretched out in rocking chairs they surrender to the softening climate
At a signal from his master old Jupiter brings out a little lacquered stand
A bottle of sherry
An ice bucket
And a box of Havana cigars
No one spoke
The sweat was steaming down their faces
It was absolutely still
In the distance the loud croaking laughter of the bullfrog which
abounds in these parts
Jim Corner is becoming one of our regulars on "Here and Now." In this poem, Jim investigates two different kinds of exile.
About My Distance: Pablo Neruda's Self Examination
I am in exile from my country
on this miniscule island. Everyday
I walk across the estuary conduit
to secure my mail. I'm alone
among these forlorn folk - peasants
without visible means of self-support.
My small fortune offers little joy,
but my passion for writing, in spite
of banishment, injects an energy
that fuels a safari for the perfect
word. I often forget my failure,
a loss of self.
Mario, for a few coins will deliver
my mail daily. Perhaps, in spite
of his minimum ability, I may find
an interest, a friendship
as he seeks words that will win
his senorita. His stammer,
though filled with ardor seems void
of desire, empty without saga,
falling short of lust. I yearn to share
my obsessions for the power
of words, but I fear I will walk
away as esoteric as ever
Next we have a poem by 1990 Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz from the book The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987 edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger published in paperback by New Directions in 1991, original clothbound published in 1987.
Between Going and Staying
Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.
All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.
Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.
Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.
The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.
I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.
The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I pause.
In 1969, while serving on Pakistan's northwest frontier, I took a week's leave in Kabul, Afghanistan, I visited a downtown bookstore and bought a book The Afghans. The book was printed by The Punjab Educational Press in LaHore, Pakistan, and written and published by Professor Mohammed Ali of Kabul University, originally in 1958 in celebration of 5,000 years of Afghan culture and history.
My book was of the 1969 third edition. In 1969 the country was still under the rule of a gentle and progressive king (who died just a couple of weeks ago after returning to his country following the ouster - we hope permanently - of the Taliban) and had not yet seen its years of destruction and rape first by the Soviet Union, then by it's own warlords and finally by the Taliban.
The book deals with the history and culture of the Afghan people and includes a large segment on Afghan literature. This poem, written by Abdul Rauf Benawa, is from the book.
Referred to in the book as a modern Afghan poet, Benawa was a writer, Pashtun activist and diplomat. He was born in 1913 in Kandahar and educated in that city. In addition to his poetry, he published a newspaper and numerous articles and books. He was highly influential in the culture of his country and served in high official positions under several Afghan governments. He died in the United States in 1984.
The book was translated from Pashto into English by Professor Ali.
The Kohistan Twilight
The crests of the Hindukush are ablaze,
Or the horizon is hemmed with red string;
It is a heart writhing in agony.,
A blood-fount playing in full swing.
It may be the saber of Chengiz,
Drawn from sheath for a fresh clink.
These may be the flames of love,
or a fire in the heavens above.
The victims of Alexander's onslaught,
Are looking wistfully towards Bagram;
Or the soul of a distressed lover
Is greeting his love with a song.
It may be a cup being filled up,
From a stream of wine strong.
It may be the ground of Kerbala,
Or a veil of the face of Laila.
It's heat of the shattered heavens,
Or the bosom of a desperate lover;
It may be a cup of beloved
Fallen down from her with a quiver.
It can be a lesson in deterrence,
Or a tale of impeccable lover.
Our fathers and hundred crises,
A saga of their sacrifices.
It is blood of the crusaders,
Ensanguining the hands of belovedsl
Or coffins of martyrs,
Have been sequestered by the angels.
It is reflection on the horizon,
Of the earth scarred with battles;
It is twilight on the mountain,
A sprinkling from red fountain.
Stars shimmer on the horizon,
Like pearls in fanthomless ocean;
It may be the poet's imagery,
Steeped in poignant emotion.
These may be the tears of an orphan,
setting waves of the mains in motion.
May be teeth like pearls sparkling
Ensconced in the mouth of a darling.
It is not a cloud that is hovering,
Like exhalation from the Kohistan;
These may be the pages of history,
Telling stories of the haloed Bamian.
It may be the dust that flies,
Taking tribute from the skies.
This must be a rivulet shining,
Or face of the heavens pining.
I picked up a book from a remainder table at Borders, Aristotle's Poetica As A Guide for Screenwriting, or something like that. It was interesting, including some really brilliant parts that agreed with my own preconceptions about the centrality of narrative to all art. One quote on that exact subject led to this poem.
the poet must be more the poet of his stories or plots than of his verses, inasmuch as he is a poet by virtue of the imitative element in his work, and it is actions he imitates.
had a farm,
and on this farm
that did nothing
and that amused
and that's a pretty
but it's not art
it's just a little
quit their mooing
and quacking and
and took action,
tied old mcdonald
up in the barn
and there was art
as defined by mr.
it's greek to me
The saying is: Behind every great man stands a greater woman.
Carol Ann Duffy applies that idea in her book The World's Wife, published by Farber and Farber Inc. in 1999, and tells the stories of those women.
Here's one of those tales.
By Christ, he could bore for Purgatory. He was small,
didn't prepossess. So he tried to impress. Dead men,
Mrs Aesop, he'd say, tell no tales. Well, let me tell you now
that the bird in his hand shat on his sleeve,
never mind the two worth less in the bush. Tedious.
Going out was worst. He'd stand ar out gate, look, then leap;
scour the hedgerows for a shy mouse, the fields
for a sly fox, the sky for one particular swallow
that couldn't make a summer. The jackdaw, according to
envied the eagle. Donkeys would, on the whole, prefer to be
On one appalling evening stroll, we passed an old hare
snoozing in a ditch - he stopped and made a note -
and then, about a mile further on, a tortoise, somebody's pet,
creeping, slow as marriage, up on the road. Slow
but certain, Mrs Aesop, wins the race. Asshole.
What race? What sour grapes? What silk purse,
sow's ear, dog in a manger, what big fish? Some days
I could barely keep awake as the story droned on
towards the moral of itself. Action, Mrs A., speaks louder
than words. And that's another thing, the sex
was diabolical. I gave him a fable one night
about a little cock that wouldn't crow, a razor-sharp ax
with a heart blacker than the pot that called the kettle.
I'll cut off your tail, all right, I said, to save my face.
That shut him up. I laughed last, longest.
Somebody said something last week about "family," which reminded me of an old poem from I which pulled a couple of lines to write this.
fighting the war
he was my brother,
ten years older,
joined the army the day
after high school,
then went off to fight the commies
(this was around the time Jake Cain,
our town sheriff, was talking to him
about the hell raising and general
deviltry ascribed to him by some,
mostly old hard-shelled Baptist,
jealous of any free spirit and highly
concerned that such an attitude
might be contagious, might even
infect some of those little Baptist
boys and girls that pushed
against their traces
even without his encouragement)
so off he went,
june 1st, 1952,
supposed to be a paratrooper
but broke his foot
on his first jump,
then Ike went to korea
and the war ended
so there wasn't to be
any fighting commies
meaning he had to make do
fighting other GI's
in German GI bars,
for one offense or another
until 1954 when he came home,
grew some bodacious ducktails,
bought a '52 Chevy fastback
with fender skirts
and took up singing
rock and roll songs on the radio
From Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, published by HarperCollins in 1988, we have this poem by Simon J. Ortiz.
Ortiz was born in 1941 and raised in the Acoma Pueblo in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was schooled within the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Acoma Reservation and later received a master's degree in writing from the University of Iowa. He has taught Native American literature and creative writing at San Diego State University and at the University of New Mexico. He has authored many books, including From Sand Creek for which he won the 1982 Pushcart Prize.
Here is his poem.
A Story of How a Wall Stands
At Acu, there is a wall almost 400 years old
which supports hundreds of tons of dirt and
bones - it's a graveyard built on a steep in-
cline - and it looks like it's about to fall
down the incline but will not for a long
My father, who works with stone,
says, "That's just the part you see,
the stones which seem to be
just packed in on the outside,"
and with his hands puts the stone and mud
in place. "Underneath
what looks like loose stone,
there is stone woven together."
He ties one hand over the other
fitting like the bones of his hands
and fingers. "That's what is
holding it together."
"It is build that carefully,"
he says, "the mud mixed
to a certain texture," patiently
with the fingers," worked
in the palm of his hand, "So that
placed between the stones, they hold
together for a long, long time."
He tells me those things,
the story of them worked
"with the fingers," in the palm
of his hands, working the stone
and the mud until they become
the wall that stands a long, long time.
Here's another poem from Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, this one by Jimmie Durham.
Durham, a Wolf Clan Cherokee, was born in 1940 in Arkansas. He received a B.F.A. from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva, Switzerland. During the 1970s he was a member of the Central Council of the American Indian Movement and a founder and Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council. His poetry has appeared in many journals and a book of his poems, Columbus Day was published in 1982.
He is a sculptor and performance artist as well as a poet.
A Woman Gave Me a Red Star to Wear on My Headband
We say that a loon, most graceful and dark
Of all water birds, sings a song
That makes stars fall onto its back,
And that is why a loon has those white spots.
The people sing for changes.
In the history of my people it is found,
"In 1833 stars fell," in a list of great events
Such as, "in 1814 we won a battle against
The people remember changes
It is known that we collected the iron
Of meteors and made of it knives like birds,
And impressed into the red hot knife blades
Patterns of stars. Star knives from that time
Are displayed in museums of the Americas, but
The Americans know nothing about the patterns.
The people search for changes.
The Commanche chief Quanah followed the cult
of Waterbird Dreamers, and in his old age painted
Stars on his roof. A Comanche fried of mine
Goes all over the hemisphere
Collecting what he calls "indigenous red stars."
Woven into blankets, painted on leather, spoken of
In stories, thought of -
The people prepare for changes
Alan Addotto joins us again this week with a contemplation of his sins.
Bless me, Father
It's not so much the major screw-ups
I've done so much.
Though there were plenty enough of those
It was the small selfishnesses
the venial crappy ones
that cause the most regret.
Those small unseen, mean useless acts
that I've done.
The ones no one knows about but me,
the ones I didn't have to do.
The spiteful or lazy or pointless things
that advanced nothing
The bad choices made, the missed chances
at gaining a higher elevation
deciding instead to take a lower primitive brain option,
a medulla oblongata stance.
At night it's my venial sins that purgatory me though
my hypnogogic states,
not the human/mortal of rage or fear or lust.
Those large sins are understandable
if not entirely forgivable.
It's the niggard, cheap and shabby selfish peccadilloes
that bother me most.
This is another product of the poem-a-day workshop. I wrote this last week.
random passes at self-knowing
I'm not one
to look far
I like closer
I have been the
I did not know
the cheap seats
are for me, now,
the ones in the
where all faces
blend to gray
to be a cloud
through the sky,
by the appearance
of my shadow
to feel the truth
of my insubstantiality,
that I only am
what the winds
make of me
I would have fought
in days past, but
there's another truth
I know now -
can push a cloud
against the wind
This poem by Susan Holahan is from her book Sister Betty Reads The Whole You, published in 1998 by Gibbs-Smith Publisher of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Park at Texas Falls
on both sides of the dirt road, water
roils among boulders the way words run in you had all night
steep into the forest under ochre haze that lies on clearings
you're inclined to say "beauty" roars
a darkness under old trees
you at a loss the falling -
passages of sculpted rock so strait the water
squeezes through to mingle bottle-green and white
- fills your skull as though you'd left the porch light on
past three a.m. a nimbus filled the hall
there's "memory" and there's seeing again
like finding late in history the very book you learned to read in
I report on the truism, some nights you eat the bear; some nights the bear eats you.
at the opening
of a little coffee shop
on the north side,
and a couple of others,
better readers than me,
won't deny that, but still
can't help but be bothered
by the little old hispanic lady
in a red dress
and frosty gray hair
from way in the back,
every time the others
finished a poem
I read my six poems
and never got a single
until after my very last poem
and even then, a weak and timid
kinda like, oh well,
if I must
I hoping even that little
wasn't just because she knew
I was finished and wouldn't
be bothering her anymore
Finally, as another week fades into the dusk, "Here and Now" lays its weary head down to bed for a day of well-earned rest.
Or, in other words, that's all.
from the book Seven Beats a Second, Poetry by Allen Itz with Art by Vincent Martinez
Wait, wait, not yet.
I just ran across the following from the recommended reading list of Tryst. I knew they had given my book an excellent review, but I wasn't aware they had included the book on their recommended reading list. Here's what it says on the listing.
SEVEN BEATS A SECOND by Allen Itz
Sometimes, I get tired of all the deep, intellectual, academic, even the political stuff I read - it can weigh heavily upon a day: "Dude, it's not that serious." Pick up a lighthearted, but well-crafted book of poetry and life begins to start looking up. On the flip side of the grill, Allen Itz gives us raw, smoky, Texas humor that invites us to remember Sunday barbecues, hamburgers, apple pies and down-home, downright good riff to beat the band. Throw in some fabulously talented artwork and music and you have Seven Beats a Second. This book is sound proof that poets can have fun and be witty at once - sometimes raunchy, sometimes serious, but never without a good sense of timing. Peppered with some wicked hooks, a little tabasco, this book is hot. - Tryst Editor
Wonderful reading, for me, at least.
Until next week.