Friday, October 19, 2007
Back again for another week. I have to step our of blog world and deal with some reality-based issues just about all day Saturday, so I'm posting a day early again. I didn't have as much time as usual to chase down work from web-poets this week, so there more of me in this issue than I normally use.
So, no more of me right now. Let's move on to the good stuff.
I start this week with a poem I like by Alaskan meatcutter, bookkeeper and poet, Arlitia Jones. The poem is from her book The Bandsaw Riots, published by Bear Star Press in 2001.
The cases of whole chickens are on a pallet
clear back in the freezer, under
the evaporators where ice collects
like a smooth clear hide, making
a single block of the entire shipment.
I/ve come for one case
and beat at the ice-bound mess like a crazy woman
until the box comes loose and my hands
go numb, no more dexterous
than feet. Sometimes I yell out
poems, my cloud breath winding away
in the whirring fans, to keep my mind
off the cold. I will arise and go
now...something something...bean rows...
The lines get lost. This isn't the bee-loud glade.
And I'm not Yeats.
Just a woman hating her job,
freezing her ass off in a meat locker,
a woman who found books early in life
and always came at them like a stray
to a strange hand offering food.
Really meant for me? I took the bait:
One woman in all of Moby Dick, scrubbing pots
at the Spouter Inn. To Henry James,
the literature of manners, I was
behind the door to the magnate's
mahogany room. At coffee break
we fight over the padded chairs
in the office, the cutters and I.
White coat, white apron, hair done up
in a bun, I look like the bride
of the USDA, nothing like a poet
who has anything to say. And I almost
believe it until I think of this:
that my mother, who survived her childhood
hiding in the tall grass out back
until the house fell quiet, didn't
fuck me up
despite every excuse,
the poverty and the anger,
the mother with the knife, the father
drunk and mean on a fifth of anything,
and the nuns who would have her believe
people live the lives they're given
not the lives they choose.
She's proof that's not always true,
I'm proof for what is given:
food on the table and my own clothes to wear,
books on birthdays, so much love and
a crack at something she never had.
In the family business she's teaching me the books
because a a woman should always have something
to fall back on, and so I balance ledgers,
bring accounts receivables up to date. Should I die
before I wake, you'll have to know
where the money is, and in this is her faith
that the daughter will carry on,
finish what the mother leaves undone.
That's how it is with us, work
always on the table, the day's receipts to tally.
She's patient with her poet-girl and curious
sometimes about what goes on in my head.
She caught me reading at the front counter
the day our hometown paper carried the story
of Bella Abzub's death.
Born in Manhattan, 1920, U.S. Congress-
woman and a butcher's daughter like me, she called for
women's worth to be held the same as men's -
how strange to think this radical.
I know I'm worth the men.
What I think of are the women,
the books I read, and the animals I eat - I hope
I'm worthy of them. And the family
that raised me up. My mother asks
Are the invoices done? and I go back
to the 10-key. I know whose daughter I am,
and the woman I'm determined to be.
I introduced Wayne Scheer to you a couple of weeks ago. Wayne is a writer from Atlanta. After teaching writing and literature in college for twenty-five years, he says he retired to follow his own advice and write. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's one of his short, very funny prose pieces.
Will Squires flirted with the language but he had commitment problems. Mixing metaphors like James Bond mixed martinis, Will liked to shake things up and stir the drink with the last straw.
He tried running the gamut while toeing the line, but occasionally he'd end up towing the line from here to China and back on a slow boat. He'd let out enough line to go deep but just as he prepared to reel her in, the Great White Tuna would take him east of Eden, this side of paradise, unable to go home again.
But his heart was where his hat hung, where folks always took him into their confidence and showed him what they were made of. Exhausted, he'd return, like the prodigal sun on a cloudy day or a horse that escaped after the barn door was closed. And just when he thought it was safe to go back into the water, he couldn't stop thinking about yesterday.
Will tried finding his way, or his will, but no matter which way was up he'd go down the staircase to heaven and find himself up the creek with too many paddles. Simply put, when the road of life forked, he took the spoon and ran away with the cow.
But that's not to say he didn't try to find a new paradigm; it's just that when he thought out of the box, he heard Pandora laugh. He sought connection and closure, but he found himself caught between the moon and New York City.
Will flirted with coherence, but when he finally took the bull by the horns and ran with it, he preferred a bowl of lentil soup.
Next, we return to our late-19th/early-20th century French traveler-poet Blaise Cendrars, last seen in Japan. This seems a rare Cendrars to me, slipping into a kind of surrealism at the end that is not usual for a direct, earth-bound poet like him. Nice just the same.
from IslandsXI. Softened
Garden overgrown like a clearing in the woods
Along the shore drifts the eternal humming of the wind in the leaves of
A straw hat on my head and a big paper parasol over that
I contemplate the games of the gulls and cormorants
Or I examine a flower
Or some rock
Every time I move I scare the palm squirrels and palm rats
Through the open window I see the entire length of a steamer of
Anchored about a mile off and already surrounded by junks sampans
and boats loaded with fruit and local products
At last the sun sets
The air is crystal clear
The same nightingales are singing like mad
And the big vampire bats glide silently across the moon of velvet wings
A young girl goes by completely nude
On her head on of those old helmets collectors are so crazy about these
In her hand a big bouquet of pale flowers which give off a powerful
scent reminding you of both tuberose and narcissus
Suddenly she stops at the garden gate
Some lowing bugs alight on the horn which forms the top of the
helmet and the apparition becomes incredible
Dead branches braking
Sighs of animals in heat
Humming of insects
Birds in their nests
The gigantic plane trees are pale gray in moonlight
Light lianas sweep down from their tops and are gently blown by an
The stars melt like sugar
We haven't seen Sara Zang in a while. Well, she's back with us this week. Sara is from West Virginia and operates The Peaceful Pub poetry forum at http://p206.ezboard.com/thepeacefulpub.
A Moonbeam Tapping at my Window
Basho wrote the moon
a brief moment
of brilliant glow
over windfall apples
fire and music
threaded through the eye
of silver needle
the planet ever grateful
The next poem is from American Dreams, a book of poetry and prose by Sapphire. The book was published in 1994 by Vintage Books.
The first time I used a poem by Sapphire her, I described her poems as screams. They are some of the darkest, strongest poems I've ever read. They are full of despair and anger, and also, honesty. The poems are excellent, making it especially difficult to pass over many of her poems as too angry, too strong and too dark for for "Here and Now." What I'm left with are milder, but still excellent, poems such as the one that follows.
4/23/86 9:50 A.M.'
Weatherman had said mostly sunny but it’s snowing today.
Arisa committed suicide yesterday.
4/29/86 4:05 A.M.
sleep is over me
like a dark cloud
my throat is raw tight
my mouth sour salty
robbed of dreams
coming from the underground
I'm tired already
this white bitch's house,
her white body
clad in black.
IRT line brings
me down from
Harlem to clean today.
I worry when
& lights on
still I worry
they'll get in.
I try to think positive
in circles of shimmering
everything is white
down here on the upper west side,
you are over it all
I hope not,
in the morning
sour fuzzy shit
lives in your mouth.
you have gone
you were dancing
on long legs in Paris,
but you're not.
J. says Arisa
was mentally ill
& we don't know what
that's really like.
I know that
this last one
I felt she lacked
a sense of drama,
to express herself
but she did
my pen stops
at the bruise on
the side of her face,
and how old she looked
in that casket,
lips pierced like clay
and pressed together
over her large teeth,
that white dress
folded hands waxen.
your father says
he never saw you
he was probably
tired of you
you were a
hard one to get
anything out of
and always angry
I saw breath
fill your body
& turn you
what was wrong
you who never
really had to
work for a living,
who never wore
the rubber gloves
I can't guarantee
but that you'll
as I trudge thru
white ladies' houses
things you never
had to do,
how strong &
ahh yes -
Next, we have our web-poet friend from New Zealand, Thane Zander. I've been critiquing Thane's poems (as he has mine) for several years now and every new one he writes seems better and deeper than the last. Here's one of his latest.
The Life of A Poor Man in Armistice Avenue
The footpath his domain
a red wall his bedstead
bus stop seat, his bed
traffic passing, lullaby
bag and booze, sleeping tablet .
His name once was Jerry Falwell, an affluent ne'er do well. From a family which held respect and standing in the neighbourhood. All the sons (five in all) successful, scholars, businessmen, a preacher.
He rifles through his long coat
finds the Bible, prays
opens the page anywhere
reads a scripture by heart
the lifeblood of a step down.
Jerry went through seminary, passed with flying colours, given a parish in Lower Brooklyn, the place a haven for all the street dwellers escaping the law. It was his demeanour to help the lowlifes, though he never thought of them that way, life's lost minds.
The brush in his right pocket
used to fluff down the sleeping areas
to remove lint and dust and unwanted leaves
once used to paint life’' sorrow
today the brush is in bed, ready.
He found it hard to follow the teachings. So much hypocrisy, so much not to be understood, yet people would recite it verbatim or read between the lines, to each their own. Unfortunately in charge, he'd argue.
The state of the Nation
well that was their business
(pointing to the passing cars)
the dog from 1st and 40th peed
as it always did, near his bed.
He looked again at the Bible, knew which Psalm to say for his peace, which passage of Genesis to appease. Still even on a cold street corner the words were too much to take in.
He stepped down from life
decided to walk the streets
attend to the "lowlifers" - bowed
speak to them at their level
street preacher and believer - just.
The paint on the seat was a rustic brown, sort of earth tones meant to give the city a little life. The fire Hydrant next to it a shiny Yellow, the bus stop sign red and ready. The police haven't been for days now, they usually move him on daily.
Food courtesy of the Food Bank
toileting, a shelter around the corner
for street folk to come in and shower
to do their toileting needs,
another ex-padre runs the joint.
The key date was 11th September 2001 when the madness hit the Twin Towers, when his parish was inundated with grief and morbidity. Wives and children of Firefighters, the dust coated urchins choking to death, the poor lucky to survive.
Across the street, Subway
scraps from the bin interesting fare,
the daylight hides it's flashing sign
hides the well to do clientele
capable of paying for their meal.
He long gave up on money, it never meant anything to him anyway, just something to burn holes in pockets. His total life, even in the seminary, geared to pennilessness. He does whistle though, and does it enough throughout the day to afford a packet of smokes and a bottle of wretched wine.
Sometimes he'd wake up,
rummage through pockets
find another ten dollar bill
stuffed in his greatcoat pocket
the donor a complete mystery.
The walk to where the Twin Towers stood was lengthy, but necessary, to see why the world had gone crazy. On the way, he passed several homeless people and asked them what they thought. Most mentioned they were lucky not to be there, the subterranean carpark a common haunt.
The dark of night finds him walking
searching for the forbidden truth
searching for a dog to pat
reaching a hand out to humanity
supplicant in his demeanour.
The Bomb that dropped on Baghdad was beyond his comprehension. Violence should never begat violence in his mind. If he was punched by the street gangs he’d cower until the attack was over and move on, licking his wounds.
The Teacher, another homeless man
passes the time of day while walking
they speak of nothing in particular
though their life is sort of like that,
dawn reaches into their psyches .
Towards Central Park, to feed the birds with scraps from the Subway bin, the peace and solitude a boon, maybe good does exist he thinks. A female jogger runs well round him, must be the stench, he's used to it now, the shunning. The birds are happy though the pickle gets met with disdain.
Homeless people live long
some can be homeless all their lives
others, mostly start after failure
failure to fit in with society
the need to just drop everything and crash.
Father Dominic from the Catholic church looks after all the central city lost, ministering all the spiritual needs, looking out for the dying, the doomed, the ones that have given up life totally. There are a few. Jerry doesn't exactly trust him, but lets him carry on. Just cause.
The story of the Homeless
never ever stops, ceases, ends
every time you look and see them
see the lives they left behind, help
by passing the time of day if they ask.
This next poem is by Earle Thompson and was taken from the book Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poets.
Thompson was born in 1950 and grew up on the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington. He has published a chapbook, The Jupiter Moon Pulls at My Bones. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies.
My grandfather placed wood
in the pot-bellied stove
and sat; he spoke:
"One time your uncle and me
seen some stick-indians
driving in the mountains
they moved alongside
the car and watched us
look at them
they had long black hair
down their backs and were naked
they ran past us."
his weight in the chair.
"Stick-indians are powerful people
they come out during the fall.
They will trick little children
who don’t listen
into the woods
and can imitate anything
so you should learn
Grandfather poured himself
some coffee and continued:
"At night you should put tobacco
out for them
and whatever food you got
just give them some
can be vengeful
for people making fun of them.
They can walk through walls
land will stick a salmon up your ass
for laughing at them
this will not happen if you understand
and respect them."
My cousin giggled. I listened and remember
Grandfather slowly sipped his coffee
and smiled at us.
The fire smoldered like a volcano
We finally went to bed. I dreamt
of the mountains and now
I understand my childhood.
I wrote this a couple of days ago after hearing a news item on National Public Radio.
my evolutionary theory rebutted on NPR
some years ago
I was having some internal
done, and the doc and I
decided that, as he
was passing though the
he would pick up my
along the way
everything went fine
except after it was over
the doctor said he
didn't take my appendix
because he couldn't find it
since word was the appendix
didn't do anything anyway, a
"vestigial organ" they called it,
I wasn't too upset, in fact
my apparent lack of appendix
supported the theory I had
that I was of a higher
order than most of the people
I ran into in south texas,
having evolved past the need
for an organ that was supposed
to be in place so that ancient
man could digest tree bark
and I was surely past that
I learned today on NPR
that scientists now think
they have discovered a
reason for the existence
of this little sac glued
to the top of your stomach
(it retains a cache of good bacteria
to be pumped into the system
if some event depletes
normal supply of the
needed to maintain a
such a fall from grace
an evolutionary marvel,
homo sapien of the future,
and the next
a bacterially challenged
It's been a while since we've looked in on Robert Bly. Here's a poem from his book Selected Poems, published by Harper Perennial in 1986.
An Evening When the Full Moon Rose As The Sun Set
April 11, 1976
The sun goes down in the dusty April night.
"You know it could be alive!"
The sun is round, massive, compelling, sober, on fire.
It moves swiftly through the tree stalks of the Lundin
grove as we drive past....
The legs of a bronze god walking at the edge of the world,
unseen by many,
On his archaic errands, doubled up on his own energy.
He guides his life by his dreams;
When we look again, he is gone.
Turning toward Milan, we see the other one, the moon,
whole and rising.
Three wild geese make dark spots in that part of the sky.
Under the shining one the pastures leap forward,
Grass fields rolling as in October, the sow-colored fields
near the river.
This rising one lights the pair of pintails alert in the
It shines on those faithful to each other, alert in the early
And the life of faithfulness goes by like a river,
With no one noticing it.
I'm pleased to welcome back Nancy Williams Lazar who appeared in one of the very early issues of "Here and Now."
Nancy lives in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. She worked for two years as a freelance reporter for the Allentown Morning Call after retiring from her furniture manufacturing business of 20 years. She is back now to her first love- poetry and taking the time to explore.
Her poem relates to the funeral rites of the the Parsi people of Mumbai, India. For over a thousand years, they have relied on vultures to carry out their funeral rites. In the last ten years these birds have become almost extinct from the use of diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory given to livestock to treat minor injuries. The loss of up to 30 million vultures is leading to a major health crisis across the region - a rise in rabies and bubonic plague will be likely result of this ecological tragedy.
The Vanished Vultures of Mumbai
I have laid my dead upon the Tower
of Silence whose black door has no opening,
and painted windows give no view.
The dead may not touch ground
The dead must not go into water
The dead shall not be burned
On a wide roof I have left my offering
to be carried away piece by piece,
consumed in the gullet of the sacred bird
whose neck glides like a finger
through shredded skin, goes for the liver
first, then on to reams of soft chords
streaming in the sun.
The caged heart will be a trophy won
in a panic of black feathers.
I see my love take flight
my god requited.
The next poem is from the book The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, published by Thunder Mouth Press in 1999.
The poet, Reg E. Gaines, is Grand Slam champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, winner of the Bessie Award, a Grammy nominee and a two-time Tony winner for best book/lyrics for Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk. At the time this book was published, Gaines had a new book just out, The Original Buckwheat. Since then he has done more work on stage and has released several cd's.
welcome to mcdonalds
(may i take your order please?)
as i bust into mcdonalds and this sister ringing fries
is squabblin with this brother moppin the filthy floor
now the sister (who's kinda cute)
is in the process of bein steam/roomed by some buppy
who's droppin lines he must have lifted from some
nineteen seventies black exploitation flick
so the sisters pissed the brothers stressed
and the buppies new nikes was gettin wet
all this time i'm standin in line
tryin to order a fish filet with no tartar
seems the sisters sick a ringing fries
cuz she hikes her hands rolls her eyes and says
"punk motherfucka coward ass bitch
yours hairs too straight and you walk with switch"
the buppies french wave stood at attention
as his boys frick and frack cracked the fuck up
who happened to be a male member of the
tried to pull a newt gingrich impersonation
and set the sister straight
so she hits void
snatches the cheese stained apron
from around her dancehall hips
pokes out her lip
then precedes to rip into he boss
who makes like forest gump
then runs to the back
and hides behind a freezer
meanwhile the brother with the mop
was diggin into his thick grey sock
tryin to find a vial a rocks
seems like he got his slick lil hustle goin down
and like a circle is round we wind up back at me see
i was just tryin to order a fish filet with no tartar
when i stated getting impatient
cuz you know how shot go at micky dees
"when you getting off?"
"girl how much your earrings cost?"
"i heard she's fucking the boss!"
and i should been more patient
but i had to catch a bus
and maybe i need to get in touch
with my more sensitive side
but then i thought
fuck this shit
walked outside and split
I don't know what brought this poem back to mind, maybe the rash of "noose" incidents we've been reading about.
I wrote the poem several years ago when there was a photographic exhibition of old pictures of the lynchings of blacks in the southern and not so southern parts of the country. I never saw the exhibition but I did read a story about it which included one of the pictures. The picture is as described in the poem and it a great impact on me.
pictures from an american lynching
it's not the hanging black bodies
that chill me,
it's the smiling white faces below.
so familiar, those faces.
the white man standing
under the swinging body
of the young black girl,
beer in his hand, hat cocked to one side
like he was a movie star.
the two pretty girls
arm in arm beneath the carnage,
posing for the camera
like for a picture at the county fair.
in dusty overalls
standing at his mother's side,
holding on to her dress
with one hand,
with the other
to the bare feet of the black man
dangling over his head.
so familiar, these faces.
like from the family albums
I looked at as a child,
seeking among the pictures there
the story of how I came to be.
Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912. The youngest of fifteen children, he worked as a pianist, a busboy, and a basketball player before he took up photography, and later the work of poet and film director. His many books, in addition to this one, include The Learning Tree, A Choice of Weapons, and Voices in the Mirror. Until seeing this new book of poetry and photography on the remainder table at Borders, I though he had died several years ago. Wrong. Gordon Parks is now in his nineties, living in New York City.
Haram! Haram! Haram!
During those same merciless moments
when four mangled corpses were
burning and being torn apart in Falluja,
Haram (the Arabic word for forbidden),
prayers were touching the blue-domed mosques.
There, in Islam, where the human body is sacred,
to desecrate on is to commit the gravest sin.
So for Haram's sake, and none other, Arabia's clerics
voiced apologetic confusion. That macabre celebration
that took place afterward was throbbing but unacceptable.
Long ago the cries of worshippers filled the mosques of Falluja.
The assassinations were heroic.
But Haram frowns on burning torsos strung from bridges!
Here's a little bitty bite of a poem I wrote last week. As I've mentioned before, I post on the "House of Thirty" workshop on the Blueline Forum. The objective of that workshop is to write a poem a day for thirty days. I'm on my sixth 30-day series. Some of the workshop participants have like 30 30-day sequences, which, without breaking out my higher math skills, works out to a heck of a lot of poems-a-day. The pressure of the poem-a-day regime means, at least in my case, falling back on short-form poems when it's bed time and I haven't done my poem for the day. That's fine with me because I like the shorties and I've now used about four times as many words to introduce the poem as I did writing the poem.
trimmed in pink
like the center
of a peach
on the horizon
The next poem is by Wendy Barker. It is from her book Winter Chickens published in 1990 by Corona Publishing Company.
Barker has published four collections of poetry. Her latest book, Way of Whiteness, won the Writers League of Texas Violet Crown Award for Poetry in 2000 and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.
Individual poems and translations have appeared in such journals as Poetry, The American Scholar, North American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Nimrod, to name a few. She has received NEA and Rockerfeller Bellagio fellowships. She is a professor of English at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Drive to the Pig Farm
Past clipped yards.
Nasturtiums hang over slat fences.
Fields rise out of wounds left by the road.
Jagged places, healed with lupine, poppies.
Drive toward he hills.
Waves of wild carrot, yellow clumps
of wild mustard. Drive past all these,
past the small purple-bladed flower
opening in the shade of live oaks.
Past the farm with red stables.
Round the final turn
mud reaches to the horizon.
Hills of mud piled with pigs.
Hundreds of pigs, sprawled
on their sides, fat haunches limp,
stiff blond hairs rising
over the flesh like sparse fur.
One hunches dog-like,
two-toed foot under its belly.
Their feet mince through the stink, old
potatoes scattered like stones
over the ground.
They lift wet noses over barbed wire,
grunt quietly as we scratch their backs.
Swarms of pigs, half in,
half out of warm brown mud.
Noises from somewhere under their throats,
insistent as the buzz
of flies circling their eyes.
We turn from the fence, pull shut
the doors of the car and drive,
drive back to the rows
of hourse, pastel colors,
pruned roses climbing the walls.
I haven't used any of the really old stuff in a while, so here are some Egyptian love songs (author[s] unknown) from the period 1600-1000 B.C. The songs were translated by Ezra Pound and Noel Stock.
You, mine, my love.
My heart strives to reach the heights of your love.
See, sweet, the bird-trap set with my own hand.
See the birds of Punt,
Like a shower of myrrh
Descending on Egypt.
Let us watch my handiwork,
The two of us, together in the fields.
The shrill of the wild goose
Unable to resist
The temptation of my bait.
While I, in a tangle of love,
Unable to break free,
Must watch the bird carry away my nets.
And when my mother returns, loaded with birds,
And finds me empty-handed,
What shall I say?
That I caught no birds?
That I myself was caught in your net?
Even when the birds rise
Wave mass on wave mass in great flight
I see nothing. I am blind
Caught us as I am and carried away
Two hearts obedient in their beating
My life caught up with yours
Your beauty the binding.
Without your love, my heart would beat no more;
Without your love, sweet cake seems only salt;
Without your love, sweet "shedeh" turns to bile.
O listen, darling, my heart's life needs your love;
For when you breathe, mine is the heart that beats.
Here's a love poem, of a sort, I wrote several years ago. It's included in my book Seven Beats a Second. It seems a little strange to some, because of the way it comes at the love theme.
in a dank and dismal box for me
I want to go out in a fiery flash,
consumed in flames and heat
until all that's left of used-to-be-me
is ash and bits of charred and brittle bone
mix this small remainder of what I was
with water, a cement base,
and shiny river pebbles, with a poem
or two cut in paper strips
to weave through the mix
as my love for you has been threaded tight
through all the better parts of my life
from this potion,
make a little concrete bowl
where birds can come to bather
and drink and preen their feathers
in first and last light of every day
set this bowl with its elements of what's left of me
on a pedestal in a shady place near a window
so you can see as the birds come and go
and sometimes think of me
The next poem is by Jack Kerouac. It's one of the 242 Choruses of his book Mexico City Blues. He called these pieces choruses as part of his wish to be read as a "jazz poet blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam session on Sunday."
Don’t worry about death
Once you're there
Because it is trackless
Having no track to follow
You will rest where you are
In inside of the essence
But the moment I say essence
I draw that word back
And that remark - essence's
Unspoken, you cant say a word,
essence is the word for the finger
that shows us bright blankness
When we look into the God face
We see radiant irradiation
From mindless center
Of Objectless fire roe-ing
In a fieldstar all its own
Is my own, is your own,
Is not Owned by Self-Owner
but found by Self-Loser -
Old Ancient Teaching
Bush was on tv today explaining about how we have to be careful to not let those poor kids get too healthy. I didn't watch, but wrote this instead.
to make me
has burned itself out
but ash that crumbles
at the merest touch
like an icy
I'll end this week with several short poems from The Same Sky, A Collection of Poems from around the World selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. The book is an excellent anthology published by Aladdin Paperbacks in 1996.
The first poem is by Eka Budianta from Indonesia. The poem was translated by E. U. Kratz.
I am like Jojon, the farmhand from Tegal
Who left his wife and two children behind
To pedal a pedicab in Jakarta.
Like Salka, the fisherman in Cilincing
Separated from his family on Madura Island.
Every three months or twice a year
We meet our wives and children, to free ourselves from longing.
I am a contract coolie, far from family.
That is common, sir, common. Very common.
We are the hundreds of thousand of coolies
as the city's construction sites
Who have left our families behind in the village.
When looking at the clouds in the bright sky,
We do not cry, but neither are we delighted.
White clouds that pass over my village,
Tell them my life in the city's alright.
I'm just Jojon, on contract in London.
You and the children live quietly in the village.
When you see the mist descend from the sky,
Or when it rains for days before Christmas,
Relax, sleep in peace
In your dreams I will send millions of stars,
As long as you, in your prayers, also mention my name.
The next little poem is by Christine M. Krishnasami from India.
beside a stone three
thousand years old two
red poppies of today
And finally, this poem by Karl Krolow from Germany. The poem was translated by Kevin Perryman.
The Open Shutter
Someone pouring light
Out of the window.
The roses of air
Playing in the street
At its sweetness
Girls are beautiful
And men gentle
In this light
But before the others say so
The window again.
Time to be heading on down the road. Until next week, remember, all the work included in this blog is the property of its creators, while the blog itself is produced by and the property of me....allen itz.