Dawn's Early Light   Saturday, August 25, 2007


II.8.4.




So here we are again, lots of poets, a mixed bag of styles and origins. Don't know that you'll like everything, but I pretty sure you'll find and enjoy something new to you. Enjoy.








We have two poems this week from This Same Sky, A Collection of Poems From Around the World, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye and published by Aladdin Paperbacks in 1996.

The first poem from the book is by Zia Hyder, a poet from Bangladesh. The poem is translated by Bhabani Sengupta with Naomi Shihab Nye.



Under This Sky

There's an enormous comfort knowing
we all live under this same sky,
whether in New York or Dhaka,
we see the same sun and same moon.

When it is night in New York,

the sun shines in Dhaka,
but that doesn't matter.
Flowers that blossom here in spring
are unknown in meadows of distant Bengal -
that too doesn't matter.
There's no rainy season here -
the peasant in Bengal welcomes the new crop
with homemade sweets
while here, winter brings mountains of snow.

No one here knows Grandmother's hand-sewn quilt -
even that doesn't matter.
There's an enormous comfort knowing
we all live under this same sky.

The Hudson River freezes,
automobiles can't move.
Slowly city workers will remove the snow.
The old lady next door won't go to work -
it's too cold.
Maybe my old mother far away
will also enter her kitchen late.
Naked trees in Central Park and Ramna Park
quiver with dreams of new life and love.
Fog hangs on the horizon -
suddenly New York, Broadway, Times Square
look dimly like Dhaka, Buriganga, and Laxmi Bazaar.


The next of our poets from around the world is Alberto Blanco of Mexico. His poem is translated by Jennifer Clement.

Horse By Moonlight
For Juan Soriano

The horse escaped from the circus
and lodged in my daughter's eyes:
there he ran circles around the iris
raising silver dust-clouds in the pupil
and halting sometimes
to drink from the holy water of the retina.

Since then my daughter feels a longing
for meadows of grass and green hills
waiting for the moon to come
and dry with its silk sleeve
the sad water that wets her cheeks.








Gary Blankenship is back with us now with another in his series of poems inspired by his reading of Allen Ginsberg's Howl.




After Howl V

With Sauerkraut, Hold the Chili


who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,

--Allen Ginsberg, Howl



on the corner of 5th Avenue and E. 26th, a one-man band rings cymbals beneath his knees as a street preacher shouts repent, repent loud enough to scare all the seagulls in San Francisco Bay to Utah in time to devour a plague of locusts and the BYU football field in Provo

library pigeons discuss the meeting of the Bryant Park Tuesday Afternoon Book Club and why every book is discussed either after it was made into a movie or a Classic Illustrated and banned in Levitown

Prudence swears at the delay in fixing the elevators to the top of the Chrysler Building

Patience yawns bored at the shallow pretensions of rats with feathers

a few tentative trumpet notes drifts down Broadway as the last zoot suit manufactured in the USA dances across the bridge

to Queens in search of a mime and a man with a peg leg

the aroma of sweet peppers and onions invade a pizza parlor on 45th, the garlic objects

the scent of coleslaw goes nowhere

the Beatles are due in the city in three months, they won't play the Apollo or a remixed Rockin' Robin

bottled water comes in 137 flavors, Nehi is sold in only 3

a couple meets under a sign advertising Dave Garroway's next show; he offers her a ring, she offers him a child

down in the subway never makes the charts until it is rerecorded as under the boardwalk

a weed grows next to the stoop of a house with a dog locked in a Village apartment for a long working day

Miles, Duke and Dizzy jam to the beat of Allen's typewriter clicks

a padded cell makes no sound








We're on the road again with that great Traveler, turn of the 20th century French poet Blaise Cendrars. In this poem, he is still traveling in the American South.



Vomito Negro

The pretty gardens and woods are all behind us
It's a bare and dismal plain with an occasional
Stand of bamboo
A stunted willow
A windblown eucalyptus
Then marshland
You see this yellowish smoke
This gray fog along the ground continually quivering
With thousands of mosquitoes and the yellow breath of the rotting muck
  There are some places where even the blacks can't live

On this side the bank is lined with big mangroves
Their tangled roots plunge into the sludge and are covered with clusters
  of poisonous oysters

The mosquitoes and poisonous insects form a thick cloud over the
  stagnant water
Beside harmless bullfrogs you see incredibly fat toads
And the famous hoop snake which chases its victims as friskily as a dog
There are stagnant pools teeming with slate-colored leeches
Hideous scarlet crabs playing around sleeping caymans
In the spots where the ground is hardest you meet gigantic ants
Thousands of them all voracious

On these stinking waters in the poisonous muck
Flowers bloom with a stunning scent a heady and persistent smell
Bursts of blue and purple
Chrome leaves
Everywhere
The black water is carpeted with flowers nest to which will protrude the
  flat head of a snake

I walked through a thicket of big mimosas
They parted in front of me as I went
Their branches moved aside with a small swish
Because these trees have a sensitivity almost a nervous system
Among the jalap vines full of talking blossoms
Big pink and gray birds on long thin legs feasting on crusty lizards fly off
  with a great bating of winds as we approach
Then giant butterflies the color of sulfur of gentian of heavy-duty oil
And really big caterpillars








Experimenting with colors now. This is red.



red

blood
on white paper,
bright red,
like an apple
on a bed of
snow









I mentioned last week Aristotle's view that the central essence of art is narrative, that to gather human engagement, there must be a story that reveals something of humanity, whether it's a baby deer who loses its mother to a forest fire or a prince of Denmark struggling with his father's murder.

And that's the secret to the art of Charles Bukowski, every poem is a story that is part of a another, larger story centered around the life of the not always pleasant or likable narrator.

Here's another chapter in the Bukowski story.



life of the king

I awaken at 11:30 a.m.
get into my chinos and a clean green shirt
open a Miller's,
and nothing in the mailbox but the
Berkeley Tribe
which I don't subscribe to,
and on KUSC there is organ music
something by Bach
and I leave the door open
stand on the porch
walk out front
hot damn
that air is good
and the sun like golden butter on my
body, no race track today, nothing but this
beastly and magic
leisure, rolled cigarette dangling
I scratch my belly in the sun
as Paul Hindemith
rides by on a bicycle,
and down the street a lady in a
very red dress
bends down into a laundry basket
rises
hangs a sheet on a line,
bends again, rises, in all that red,
that red like snake skin
clinging moving flashing
hot damn
I keep looking, and
she sees me
pauses bent over basket
clothespin in mouth
she rises with a pair of pink
panties
smiles around the
clothespin
waves to me.
what's next? rape in the streets?
I wave back,
go in,
sit down at the machine
by the window and now it's someone's
violin concerto in D,
and a pretty black girl in very tight pants
walking a hound,
they stop outside my window,
look in;
she has on dark shades
and her mouth opens a little, then she and the
    dog
move on.
someone might have bombed cities for this or
sold apples in the
rain,
but whoever is responsible, today I wish to
thank him
all the
way.










Cliff Keller, a first-timer for "Here and Now," says that he is an inveterate traveler, who enjoys experiencing a broad swath of people and experiences to inspire original music and poetry. His home base is in North County San Diego by the beach where he says he enjoys his favorite surf.

You can hear samples of Cliff's music by clicking on the "Cliff Keller's Music" link on the right side of the page.




Little Miss Raincloud

Everything
annoys her
the curves in the unfamiliar road
imposition of wind in hair
even good weather is so damn....cheerful,
in a cloying way

Miss Raincloud on holiday
it doesn't make her happy
but it could, if she so decided
or if some crowning achievement
culminated in this backwater beach town

Still
her elegant mouth enthralls me
lips gliding over teeth
like a pianist's hands
caressing a nocturne,
her smile: an infrequent and beautiful flourish,
the rising pitch that ends each phrase
(the sweet embellishment of Western Canadians).

I couldn't watch her enough
as I drove and she sang
(Kodachro-o-ome, it gives us the nice bright colors...)
that's my only regret


(*apologies to Paul Simon)









This poem by Thomas Lux is from the book The Longman Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry published in 1989 by Longman Inc. It appears to be a textbook, filled with great American poets and poetry.

Thomas Lux grew up in the Boston area and was educated at Emerson College. He has taught at a number of schools, including Oberlin and the University of Houston, and was for some years part of the writing staff of Sara Lawrence College.



Barn Fire

It starts, somehow, in the hot damp
and soon the lit bales
throb in the hayloft. The tails

of mice quake in the dust,
the bins of grain, the managers stuffed
with clover, the barrels of oats
shivering individually in their pale

husks - animate and inanimate; they know
with the first whiff in the dark.
And we knew, or should have that day
the calendar refused its nail

on the wall and the crab apples hurling
themselves to the ground....Only moments
and the flames like a blue fist curl

all around the black. There is some
small blaring from the calves and the cows'
nostrils flare only once
more, or twice, above the dead dry

metal troughs....No more fat tongues worrying
the salt licks, no more heady smells
of deep green from the silos rising now

like huge twin chimneys above all this.
With the lofts full there is no stopping g
nor even getting close: it will rage

until dawn and beyond, - and the horses,
because they know they are safe there,
the horses run back into the barn.








Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis. He is a prolific web and print poet who can be read often on poetry workshops like the Wild Poetry Forum perfecting his art and craft. This is his first appearance in "Here and Now."

Alex says that this poem is the first in what will be a series based on the Tarot deck. We will be following this series in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, here's the first in the series.



Card 0

The Fool tries to throw his voice


his efforts seem less than
adequate - his mouth moves,
shapes nouns, forms verbs.

gravity seems reluctant
to follow his commands.

the absence of smoke leaves
him silent, he moves to light
a cigarette.

he strikes the match,
sees words
alive in sulfur.

taking a drag, he listens
for a voice,
untethered.








This poem by April Bernard is from her book Psalms, published by W W Norton and Company in 1993, so titled because all the poems are written in the style of the Psalms.



Psalm of the Beaten

When they hit me, it was like flowers, bright and exploding
along the soft skin of the inner thigh, the open softness
    around the eyes

Or there was the time when your face turned away at last,
disappearing behind the veil
more definite than death, indifference

Pray for death to my enemy? My enemy is myself:

Dwelling amid the fists like one who sits calm under hail
    striking the tin roof -
Reading, maybe, or drinking tea -

But wait. There is screaming in the alleyway, shouts upon
    the boulevard
It is possible now to walk with those
who wear their flesh like summer cotton

We are calling to each other in the city:

Lie down with the butcher and the blood will wash away like water
For the blow to your face, tears for the wash bowl
For the boot in your back, dance
Dace above the dirt of the body, unbeaten at last.








Next, a little yellow.



yellow

lemons overflow
a pewter
bowl,
roll across the floor,
crying
caution....caution








Poet, teacher and dotcom entrepreneur, Charles Entrekin was born in Alabama but has done most of his work in California. This poem is from his book In This Hour, published by Berkely Poets Workshop & Press in 1989.



For No Reason

Again, it can't be mended.
You watch me mumbling at the window,
something's lost that we can no longer
get from one another. It happens,
gets broken,
becomes asymmetrical,
and even when we count everything twice,
still, it can't be found.

It slips down in the leaf pile, between us.

In winter air, white slips of paper
blow across the parking lot.

And now, a seagull, only one leg,
stands before us on the beach.
He uses the wind as his crutch,
precariously balanced
until he takes the air.








Steve Williams is poet living in Portland, Oregon. In addition to his own writing, he is co-administrator of Wild Poetry Forum, the workshop where many of our regular web-poet contributors work on their poems. We have a link to the forum on the right side of this page.

Here's one of Steve's poems, taken from his book, Skin Stretched Around the Hollow, published this year by Rattlesnake Press.



Complexity of Taste

Slip a sliver of dark chocolate onto tongue,
do not chew. We push morsels against
our cavity roofs, suck the sugar melt.

Bitter need trickles back, remembers
the cocoa bean, aroma of Sumatran coffee.
Saliva gathers on the tongue, asks for rococo.

PIquancy spreads above my teeth, wafts
into my throat, up the back of smell -
a cloying compulsion.

She reclines over a chocolate mound, ribs rise
with her spine. Pour Shiraz into the more of her.
I savor mouthfuls of truffles,

drool the wine into a pool, submerge her navel,
mingle the harvest of skin, sting, sugar, surprise -
tiny hairs tickle the tip of my tongue.

Beneath her, the confection softens, mixes,
ferments into rhythm oil - primitive pounding
of Delta blues. We cry names

of unknown spirits, thrash into string bass vibrations.
Our throats grown past ursine tongues, bodies
smeared in petroglyphs of the wanton hunt.

We are cross-legged figures in our white
noise room, eyelids closed, mediating.









This poem by poet and teacher Elizabeth Seydel Morgan is from her book Parties published by Louisiana State University Press in 1988.



Stillness Like This

It's stillness that gets you,
not a dingy Greyhound leaving at dawn,
grinding to somewhere strange.
But sit very still in a familiar diner,
expect no one.
Such times you'll feel like a building.

Even leaving you was motion -
your car, then
three airports, two planes, a taxi.
The pilot pointed out Manhattan, Ellis Island.
When we passengers leaned together to look,
the plane tipped to the left. And flying
low over Maryland it cast a shadow
sharp as a sparrow hawk cruising the cornfield.

But what gets you is stillness like this,
lying awake before birds sing to light.
No one is breathing in this hours except me.
Out at the curb my car is parked in stone.








Still with colors....



green

bay water
roils against
the seawall
froth gathers
where salt water
and concrete
collide
bubbles green
in the sun
bright scales
from the back
of the dragon
in the gulf








This poem by poet and English professor Michael Van Walleghen is from his book Blue Tango, published by University of Illinois Press in 1989.



Hidden Meaning

Someone has parked her car
as far back as you can go

in Kickapoo Park - and now
she sits there eating candy

and listening to the radio....
A blinding, late November light

glitters on the windblown river.
a flurry of green cellophane

flutters from a side vent. Violins
banjos, that thin country voice

getting lost among the trees....
It all appears arranged somehow

charged with hidden meaning....
But what is it? Faint dogs

dim gunshots when the music stops....
Even the petty, disconsolate detail

of a coat hanger bent into an aerial
becomes important - as in this light

the merest inkling of the moon
becomes a puff of frozen breath

or vague, translucent sail
stranded in the empty trees....

As in this light I might see myself
home on leave again from the navy

because my girl got pregnant
and we've come here to talk....

But later on, I'll meet my buddies
in the parking lot. Their cars

have names painted on them: Virgo's
Good Time Machine
, Evil Rasputin

and the one called simply
Paronoia








Khadija Anderson returns with a new poem, a mild rant, really, about the shallowness of a particular, unnamed poet. Khadija most frequently posts on the Wild Poetry Forum where I found her this time with this poem.



poems that really pissed me off
or
could have been a PC Jerry Springer guest's confessional


the poet read too many poems about what we were all supposed to be able to relate to about reconciling with our fathers and being bipolar

the poet scanned the audience and said, "Men, your wives will understand this poem" - it was about the poet's self described "big ass, belly and thighs"

the poet came to the last poem and told us we would all recognize the biblical references in it

everyone applauded heartily
guess I'm an asshole









This poem is by Indian poet and film director Sudeep Sen is from his book Postmarked India published in 1997 by Harper Collins Publishers.



Govind Dev Temple, Vrindavan

Pink-buttocked monkeys leap from one lichen-layered eave
  to another, as the parrots' plumage splashes the deep red
of the wall green in patches: resident bees drone
  from the hives stuck to the ceiling, and the screeching
bats echo, flying in and around, tracing arced orbits.

Govind Dey sands steadfastly, propped with monumental
  blocks of red and ochre sandstone, where solidity and finery
of architectural execution are married in an art,
  both Islamic and Hindu, high on the hill in the center of
Vrindavan, rising above everything around.

In 1590 when Emperor Akbar's general Man Singh
  supervised its creation, his cavalry bowed as they marched
past this splendor on the hill enroute from Delhi to Agra.
  Now, the surrounding tenements invade, inching their way into
every square of the courtyard space, and the pilgrims walk.

Here, under the old sanctum, Krisna's idol was found,
  celebrated, worshipped, rasa-lilas sung by Chaianya,
his followers, and people. Through four hundred years
  generations of devotees, bats, parrots and monkeys
have lived here, prayed here, and changed hands,

but one fact has remained constant
  Every year, on nights when the moon appears full
for the first time, its incipient rays streak through
  the main archway, lighting Krishna's forehead faint blue,
and the empty temple halls echo - "Radbey, Radbey."








Doc Dachtler is back this week with two poems from his book Waiting for Chains at Pearl's published in 1990 by Plain View Press



The Old School and the New Windows

     to Steve Sandfield
       (Who made a motion before the board of directors
     this evening to take them out and it never even
     received a courtesy second)


The North Columbia Schoolhouse
has four 6 ft. double hung windows
on each side of he building
symmetrical
with respect to each other,
floor and ceiling.
It is classic 19th century California Victorian
one room schoolhouse;
long, tall, 12 in 12 pitch handsme.
Now it is a cultural center
and a window has been hacked in on each side
just above the front set of double hungs
running up from the top of the old window
to just under the plate line of roof and wall.
Aesthetically a devastation,
historically a desecration
to this 112 year old building.

When my boss, Jon, heard about it as a plan he said,
     It's going to look like hammered shit!

We think
he hit the nail
right on the head.

     August 27th, 1987
     after the meeting



Historical Picture

An old friend
handed me this flyer about taking
a picture
in front of the North Columbia Schoolhouse;
an historical update of an 1875 photo
I found 20 years ago
in the Firehouse Museum in Nevada City.

She said I should be in it.
I put my arm around her
and took a long look at the flyer
with it's proud new school complete with
cupola, tall shutters, scrollwork bell tower.
     Yes I should, I said.
But I knew I wouldn't.
I thought how funny to have taught in this school
before 99% of the people in the 1987 photo
lived here.

When you're out of the picture,
you're out of the picture.








Steve Healey teaches writing to prisoners in several Minnesota Correctional Facilities and is Associate Editor of Conduit Magazine. This poem is from his book earthling published in 2004 by Coffee House Press.



why we continue

Because nerves need more staircases to climb,
streets need skids to absorb, eyeballs
see only antonyms gathering on horizons,

even a round Earth dreams flatness,
a muscle stretches from here to heaven

like a braille menu of stars, because kids
go down on each other on a basement couch,

a clock is always visible, oxygen diminishes,
small windows promise transportation
and a future of pickled matrimony,

years inhale property tax, attics fill
with bat excrement till homeowners sell it
as fertilizer, and roof are tightly sealed,

each bat is an object of extermination
while mosquitoes proliferate madly,
piercing virgin skin, stealing blood before
it circulates back as predictable wisdom

to the heart, a parched dowser nears
a suburban mirage, what were once
mountains are neighborhoods made of sand

where those who wake against a body
weigh the opportunity cost for kindness,

fingers grow guilty for begging a dime's worth
of candy, because a signature grows illegible,

and as mercury drops, seconds drip,
and unnamable ailment erodes the bosom,
because a prison song repeats impossible gods,
a greeting card arrives to explain how
a friend suffered and "accidental overdose"

and emerged from a coma having forgotten
the past several years, because there's a place
where conversations and faces go,

where we find the soldiers gazing at us
from the sepia war, because we believe.





Photo by John Strieb




We interrupt the poetry for some images taken John Strieb, a long time friend. In addition to being an amateur photographer, John, collects and repairs old cameras.

John delights in sending me photos taken with a junk camera I gave him. The camera was a 40 year-old Argus that had gathered dust in one of my closets for about 35 of those years, broken and unusable. John fixed the camera and uses it regularly, winning photo contests with it, in fact. The photo above and the five that follow below all were taken with that junk camera.

John took these photos in Corpus Christi, a small city of about a quarter million on the middle Texas coast. My family and I lived there for fifteen years before moving to San Antonio. Great city, lovely people, lousy climate for those of us who don't take to hot and humid. Goes with living on the beach, I guess.

Here are more of John's pictures.




Photo by John Strieb



Photo by John Strieb


Photo by John Strieb



Photo by John Strieb



Photo by John Strieb









Me, still with colors....



black

black
was the life
that drove
the knife
that pierced
the heart
of my
darling
mad
a
line








Texas poet W. Joe Hoppe is back this week with a poem from his book Galvanized, published this year by Dalton Publishing.



What Are You Doing This Saturday Night

I'll bring you a bouquet of banana slugs
wash salt water off your snuffbox with sweet gasoline
obscure your porch light with a pawn shop oyster
and darken your doorway with romantic intentions

The slather your sidewalk with Burma Shave
coat your lawn in a deep pocketed London fog
prevaricate your daddy with a jar of cigars
and a mystery utensil meant just for your mom

We'll bounce off on two wheeled shoe leather souls
bursting forth on the evening like soda pop angels
in a broken drum roll just as far as it'll go
to find ourselves golden in the warm donut of dawn








Now another poet from far away (far away from me, at least), Ku Sang, born in Seoul, grew up in North Korea, studied in Japan, fled to South Korea where, in the fifties, he was imprisoned by the country to which he fled for writing essays on the Corruption of Power.

We have four short poems in an "eros" series. The poems are from the poet's book Wasteland of Fire published by Forest Books in 1990. The poems are translated by Anthony Teague



Eros I

A torso like a ripe peach.

A butterfly fallen
drunk in ecstasy on a flowery tomb.

A tongue with the perfume of melons.

A seagull plunging
into blue waves that flash white teeth.

In a gaze fixed on the distant horizon.

A roe deer
drinking at a secret spring in a virgin forest.

Abyss of Eros
beauty of original sin.


Eros II

The purring cat's
deceitful, mysterious face.

Venus' neck
spun about with hempen locks.

On breasts of velvet
the imprint ot a hawk's claws.

An hourglass navel.

Buttocks the smooth bottom of a wooden bowl,
secret flesh of tree-trunk thighs.

The narrowing rapids of rendez-vous,
a grassy bank aflame on a spring day.

In primitive darkness,
beneath an azalea-cliff blanket
a naked woman
on a foaming, lapping wave-white sheet
joins her arms
like the cords
that criminals are bound with

....

The cooing of doves.
Breathtaking moment, oh, mystic ritual!


Eros III

I draw in empty space

That face,
that voice,
that smile,
those thighs,
but that love
cannot be drawn.

Things drawn in the heart
may not be given form.


Eros IV

With the same hand
that caressed her naked body
I stroke my gray beard.

Passion faded into pale silver....

That loving, riding the bucket,
has been drawn up to the heavens.
Henceforth, all those times and places
are one with Eternity.








Still with the colors....



blue

blue eyes
under clear
skies
ice
on crystal








Before closing, a little attaway for myself.

The InterBoard Poetry Competition (http://www.webdelsol.com/IBPC/) represents a large number of on-line poetry forums/workshops. Among it's other activities, the IBPC selects for special mention every month several poems from among all the poems nominated by the various member boards.

Selected for first place for August was the third in Gary Blankenship's Howl series. You have seen other pieces from the series, but you have not seen this one. You will see it next week.

The surprise was the third place selection, one of mine, fulton street hustlers. The reason for the surprise is that I know my stuff takes some getting used to. Because of that I don't usually expect to win anything, even third place, and am usuually proven correct. So, it's a happy surprise for me, which I share here because I think it's cool.

The judge was Deborah Bogen. These were her comments on the poem.

This poem breaks a lot of rules and it knows what it's doing when it does. That's a good thing because you better be on your game when you decide to dispense with capitalization and periods, and when you write in lines so short that one is "the" and another is "down-". But as soon as you start reading "fulton street hustlers" you understand that you are on a fast train meant to knock you off your reading feet, that the poem's rhythm is as purposefully offbeat as the lifestyle of the hustlers it describes with its marvelous eye for the right detail and its fluid command of the line. - Deborah Bogen

I don't remember if I used the poem on "Here and Now," but either way, here it is.



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
re-fried
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

****************************

That's all folks, until next week.

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Dreamdust   Saturday, August 18, 2007


II.8.3




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.

Happy reading.







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
to love

when i die i hope every worker in the national security
    council
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
them
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
    and collect
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
to live

and as soon as i die i hope everyone who loved me learns
    the meaning
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
    man
and petting a dog don't detract from manhood
do
somebody please
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
revolution

    [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.



Silverswords

At cold daybreak
we wind
up the mountainside
to Haleakala Crater.
Our hands knot
under the touch of
your old army blanket.

We pass protea
and carnation farms
in Kula,
drive through
desolate rockfields.

Upon this one place
on Earth,
from the ancient
lava rivers,
silverswords rise,
startled
into starbursts
by the sun.
Like love, sometimes,
they die
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.



blood

blood
like music
flows
in repeated
patterns
and themes,
in elaborated
variations
never far from
it's archetypal
score,
like families
that separate,
each of the one
traveling
time and distance
to places
foreign and remote,
like planets
spun off from
their primordial source
but still of that
source
and of its binding
harmonics








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.



Untitled

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


And 2morow

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,
~VM~

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
3) Virgil
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
19) Voltaire
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
29) Michelango
30) Harriet Beecher Stowe
31) Oscar Wilde
32) Bart Simpson
33) Groucho Marx
34) Herman Melville
35) Cicero
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

2.

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.



Saudi Haibun

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.

salaam aleikum
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



Tampa

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


Bungalow

It's small but quite comfortable
The flooring is held up by bamboo posts
Vanilla plants climbing all over
Angola peas
Jasmine
Above which burst magnolia and poinciana flowers

The dining room is designed with the sense of luxury characteristic of
   Carolina Creoles
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
Some lemons
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.



old mcdonald

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.
.......Aristotle's Poetics



old mcdonald
had a farm,
e-i
e-i
o
and on this farm
there were
oink oinks
quack quacks
cluck clucks
moo moos
etc. etc.
that did nothing
but oink
and moo
and quack
and etc.
and that amused
children
and that's a pretty
good thing
but it's not art
it's just a little
nursery
rhyme
but then
one
day
the animals
quit their mooing
and quacking and
cluck clucking
and whatever
and took action,
tied old mcdonald
up in the barn
and took
over
and mcdonald's
farm
became
animal farm
and there was art
as defined by mr.
you bet
it's greek to me
aristotle








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.



Mrs Aesop

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
    him
envied the eagle. Donkeys would, on the whole, prefer to be
    lions.

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
in korea

(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
anyway,
meaning he had to make do
fighting other GI's
in German GI bars,
making rank,
losing rank
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
        time.


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 Soldiers."

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
God knows.
No.
It was the small selfishnesses
the venial crappy ones
that cause the most regret.
Yes.
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
helped nobody.

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

1
I'm not one
to look far
for adventure

not anymore

I like closer
to home
things

familiar things
prized
for their
knownness

I like
the people
I know,
people
who know
me
and calibrate
their expectations
accordingly

2
I have been the
center
of attention,
a familiar
face
to many
whose faces
I did not know

the cheap seats
are for me, now,
the ones in the
shadows
where all faces
blend to gray
and indivisibility

3
I want
to be a cloud
that passes
through the sky,
impressed
no more
by the appearance
of my shadow
below

I want
to feel the truth
of my insubstantiality,
that I only am
what the winds
make of me

I would have fought
that knowledge
in days past, but
there's another truth
I know now -

no one
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.



bravo! bravo!

read tonight
at the opening
of a little coffee shop
on the north side,
me
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
who shouted
from way in the back,
bravo!
bravo!
bravo!
every time the others
finished a poem

I read my six poems
and never got a single
bravo
until after my very last poem
and even then, a weak and timid
bravo
it was
kinda like, oh well,
bravo
if I must

I hoping even that little
bravo
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.

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