Can You Hear Me Now?   Friday, July 25, 2008


III.7/4/




Welcome to a new week of "Here and Now."

Unlike the last couple of weeks, we'll pass quickly this this get-moving part and get to the poems.

But, before we get to the poems, there is something else. During this past week, one of our poets and I agreed to share books, that is, she is sending me a copy of her new book and I'm sending her a copy of my not-so-new book.

What a great idea.

I extend the idea of a swap to any "Here and Now" reader who has a book they've done, new or old, they would be willing to trade with me for one of my books (plus the CD that comes with the book). Just email me at allen.itz@gmail.com.

A caution - if we trade and I have one of your books, you should expect that poems from it will appear here, unless you specifically tell me I can't share.

You can do whatever you want with mine.

And now, our line up for this week:

From my library

Dana Gioia
Langston Hughes
Albert Belsile Davis
Nancy Morejon
Joyce Carol Oates
Leslie Ullman
Pamela Kircher
Ueshima Onitsura

From friends of "Here and Now"

Joanna M. Weston
Cliff Keller
Don Schaeffer

And some of my own.








Dana Gioia was born of Italian and Mexican descent in Los Angeles in 1950. The first member of his family to attend college, he received a B.A. from Stanford University. He completed an M.A. in Comparative Literature at Harvard University, then returned to Stanford to earn an M.B.A.

In 1977 he moved to New York to begin a career in business. For fifteen years Gioia worked as a business executive, eventually becoming a Vice President of General Foods. Writing at night and on weekends, he also established a major literary reputation. In 1992 he left business to become a full-time writer.

In 1996 Gioia returned to his native California to live in Sonoma County. In 2002 he was nominated by the President, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, to serve as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He began serving as NEA Chairman in 2003 and currently divides his time between Washington, D.C. and California.

Gioia has published three full-length books of poetry, Daily Horoscope in 1986, The Gods of Winter in 1991 and, Interrogations at Noon (2001).

Gioia has also been an active translator of poetry from Latin, Italian, German, and Romanian. He has published a translation of the Italian Nobel Prize-winning poet Eugenio Montale's Mottetti, as well as two large anthologies of Italian poetry. His translation of Seneca's The Madness of Hercules was performed by Verse Theater Manhattan.

My first poem this week is from Gioia's second book, The Gods of Winter.



Planting A Sequoia

All afternoon my brothers and I have worked in the orchard,
digging this hole, laying you into it, carefully packing the soil.
Rain blackened the horizon, but cold winds kept it over the Pacific,
And the sky above us stayed the dull gray
Of an old year coming to an end.

In Sicily a father plants a tree to celebrate his first son's birth -
an olive or a fig tree - a sign that the earth has one more life to bear.
I would have done the same, proudly laying new stock into my father's
    orchard,
A green sapling rising among the twisted apple boughs,
A promise of new fruit in other autumns.

But today we kneel in the cold planting you, our native giant,
Defying the practical custom of our fathers,
Wrapping in your roots a lock of hair, a piece of an infant's birth cord,
All that remains above earth of our first-born son,
A few stray atoms brought back to the elements.

We will give you what we can - our labor and our soil,
Water drawn from the earth when the skies fail,
Nights scented with the ocean fog, days softened by the circuit of
    bees
We plant you in the corner of the grove, bathed in western light,
A slender shoot against the sunset.

And when our family is no more, all of his unborn brothers dead,
Every niece and nephew scattered, all the houses torn down,
His mother's beauty ashes in the air,
I want you to stand among strangers, all young and ephemeral to you,
Silently keeping the secret of your birth.








This is a piece I wrote last week, an exploration of a new hideout.



testing the water

i'm
just trying out
this place
this
afternoon, right
down in the middle
town,
above the riverwalk,
which
you can't really see
from the inside
but it's still a nice thing
to have on your address,
looking for a summer alternative
to my regular hideouts
that are either too crowded
or too hot this time of year

it's a big place at
Soledad & Martin,
the music's too loud
but i like it - i enjoy
the drive of it,
and the young urgency
for life that pushes the beat,
it was one of the things i enjoyed
about my son's several bands, the
pass they gave me
to go places
people my age don't usually go,
places where the music
and the crush of the constantly
jittering, moving, jumping crowd
makes you sweat
your beer out as fast
as you can
drink
it

i think
this is one of those places
on weekends,
when they do rock bands,
and poetry several
nights
a week, slam,
drawing the same young
crowd
as the music,
the kind of stuff i can
appreciate
but not compete with

i need
a place that's
quieter
to do my stuff,
more contemplative,

older,
in other words








My next poem is by Langston Hughes from his book The Dream Keeper and other poems, originally published in 1932 and rereleased by Alfred A. Knopf in 1998.

Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri, and, after several years as part of the expatriate American arts community in Paris, spent most of his adult life in Harlem, where he died in 1967. He wrote in all forms of literature, but is best remembered for his poetry.



The Weary Blues

Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
  I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
  He did a lazy sway....
  He did a lazy sway....
To the tune o' those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
  O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
  Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man's soul.
  O 0Blues!
In a deep strong voice with a melancholy tone
I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan -
  "Ain't got nobody in all this world.,
  Ain't got nobody but ma self.
  I's gwine to quit my frownin'
  And put my troubles on de shelf."
Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few cords than he sang some more -
  "I got de Weary Blues
  And I can't be satisfied
  Got de Weary Blues
  And can't be satisfied
  I ain't happy no mo'
  And I wish I had died."
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed.
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head
He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.








I have another poem this week from one of our new friends, Joanna M. Weston.

Joanna has had her poetry, reviews, and short stories published in anthologies and journals for twenty years. She has as two middle-readers out, The Willow Tree Girl and Those Blue Shoes, as well as A Summer Father, poetry, published by Frontenac House of Calgary, all in print.

I have added a link to Joanna's website to my link list on the right. Just click on the link to learn more about her and her books, including price and availability.



Stories In Line

in the grocery check-out
I notice the label at a woman's neck
want to tuck it in
but could get arrested for harassment

the belt in one man's pants
is half-looped, needs re-threading

the check-out guy has a bald patch
visible when he tilts his head

muzak blurs voices
the shuffle of feet
groceries being packed
while I build stories

how she hurried to dress and feed
four children; how he had to walk
the dog before going to work;
the check-out guy fears baldness
and applies every unguent on the market
angling the mirror for a daily check

I wonder     who we are
while I wait








Albert Belsile Davis received a Masters of Arts degree in creative writing from Colorado State University in 1974. He has written and published much since then, including a novel, Leechtime published by Louisiana State University in 1989. From web entries, he is well known, so well know, it seems, that I can't find any biographical information (apparently everyone already knows everything about him).

This poem I'm using this week is the title poem from his book of poetry What They Wrote on the Bathhouse Walls. There's no indication in the book as to when it was published and by who.



What They Wrote on the Bathhouse Walls
   Yen's Marina, Chinese Bayou, LA


I

February leafing
willowed through
our wind nets

In the tent
we wondered
if the world was winter-gone

                    II

                    I am too long
                    longing among
                    the strangers

                    I am
                    a foreign girl
                    am Bombay girl

                              uptown 2-4540

                                        III

                                        The kiss is better
                                        when I shut her up
                                        when I startle back the last word
                                        and it falls prisoned
l                                        ashed behind her eyes

IV

If i could set my table
before he leaves
a goblet of claret
a rhino horn fork and a plate
I would eat his thin form
send him sliding
down my gullet
warm with brick red wine
the flour of his flesh

V

I am feast
for your nose
parsley scent i sweat
cardoman in sari
no regret

     uptown 2-4540

VI

Tell my lawyer to tell the lawyer
of my wife to tell my wife
I will remember us
that day before the fall
at noon
that day we stood
in an aspen hollow
steps before the wood
Our lungs hurt from
the short hike from
the truck
We sought
nothing more than breath

Tell him to tell him
to tell her
I will forget all
that would follow
after noon
I will remember us
before the fall
september early on us
the yellow light of aspen on us
seconds before we caught
our breath
in the quiet hollow
short steps before the wood

VII

Fast please
under this matchless moon
come let us
kindle sloe-eyed night

     uptown 2-4540









Here's another thing I wrote last week. Nothing in it that I wouldn't expect to apply to all writers.



the great wall

i've kept
almost everything
i've ever written,
not out of some
overindulgent
estimation
of it's value,
but from faint hope
that i may,
through it, some day
touch the future

someday,
i hope,
i'll have grandchildren
who will have
grandchildren and so on
through all the ever-shifting
high and low
tides
of time
and i'm hoping
that through some
surviving
scrap of paper
a glimpse
of my humanity
may be seen by those
who might
trace
their own time
and life
back to me;
and if they should chance
to know me
i will be to them
not some musty,
antique long-forgotten
photo
in a forgotten box
in a dark corner
of some dusty attic,
but a person,
blood and bone
and flesh
like their own,
exposed
as only a poem
can expose,
a teller of stories
that can only
be told
in a poem,
loved
in my ancient past
and lover,
intellect
and heart,
striving
to make some small mark
on the great wall
of human
kind








The next poem is by Nancy Morejon from Making Callaloo, 25 Years of Black Literature, an anthology of poems from the literary journal Callaloo founded by Charles Henry Rowell, a professor at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas,who also serves as the journal's editor. The anthology was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2002.

Morejon is a Cuban poet, scholar and Director of Caribbean Studies at Cuba’s cultural studies institute, Casa de las Americas. She has published many books of poetry, as well as critical works and translations.

This poem was translated from Spanish by Lois Wright



Richard Brought His Flute

1
soundlessly
his veins bursting with cognac and Romeu's danzon
Papa Egues firmly and with an air of astonishment appropriates
                                               his chair

"there isn't a single musician of my generation left
            in Placetas
            a damnable dirge
            over all the band"
we're all here but th one we're waiting for doesn't come
and outside it rains steadily

each night
legends of Juan Gualberto in the 0ld country
reappear
like the wind through the trees

meanwhile we kept playing records

"the swing's in the drums"

it thunders and rains
       and rains enough to drown us all in our
        fourteen and fifteen year-old memories

there's death and then where will we be?

we look out the window facing the narrow street
that leads to the church of San Nicolas
(we never liked priests)
it's dinner time and we nibble bread
and drink beer

II
the piano is in the living room

the good thing about having the piano in the living room
is that we can see everything else clearly
the living room isn't large just the place where the piano sits

"how do you feel about listening to a little music?"

everyone agrees to that

good afternoons or good evenings
suspend thought
we're all here what else?
       just together
even if nettled Papa Egues
       and his spectacles
went to tie us down and teach us
every note on the flute
       as well as solfege

of course we lack the necessary breeding
to understand the music
and without knowing why
it's clear that our attention is wandering at this hour
at this moment of sound and secular discipline

the piano is in the living room

(it is Monday and someone has lit a candle
       the large seven day candle for Elegba
       there's nothing to say
just sit by the door drinking a bottle of rum)

all of us virtuous and well-mannered
the little girls with their folded hands
the little boys practicing solfege
growling away on the sticky drunken violin
the paltriness of our every act was summed up
in knowing perhaps that we could easily recognize a Picasso
and that perhaps hispanics and blacks lived better in New York

through a first cousin we had bought
Count Basie Duke Ellington and the Nat Cole trio
and by December is was possible to get
Mozart's concerto for flute
among all the marvels of the living room the piano rests

a serpent rise as night falls

it is time

the invention of legends

III
the day that that two old ladies dissected two birds
       in some room in a museum
we came home empty anxious to hear some jazz
our happiness lay wholly in the pleasure of listening
       lost in the spell of a black art

for me it was the first time
the first time
the first time I knew a clarinet so fierce
       so smoky
       hot
thanks to Papa Egues that was the beginning of an age
for us childhood restored
       begun so alone

that clarinet along like a bridge

(and Gladys    her coppery
gaze    a little heavier)

we needed to hear the faintest whisper
the clack of the dust-caked needle

Mozart and Europe laughed in the distance
but we were also dancing desperately
listening to a timbal a brass a trumpet a gourd a flute
all playing together
or listening to drumbeats rising from the same fire

it was my first time my first big moment
and the silence resolved into listening
       into listening

IV
we're all here

the music plays

congratulations Gladys

Gladys

but Gladys won't dance

no

never that

V
soon we were all talking at once

"my shoes are the prettiest, dear”"

our eyes sorted out the table and the painting of the white swan

we felt the evening’s weight

at times we felt an urge to blow everything
       willy nilly
in the end papa would understand

we got Papa Egues help
just by letting him tell us about our family
and his youth

we wound up later in the kitchen
trying to control the house from there
returning afterwards to our books
with such desire to devour dictionaries
looking at each other face to face
only to realize much later that some of us would plunge
       into life
       others into living death
into madness and others
would collapse at the end of a garand or a mauser

VI
when we looked at our skin we switched our glance
       toward the television
at least that pleasure cost nothing
when we looked at our teeth we began to laugh like madmen
hurting each other for no reason
when Papa Egues wrenched the ring from his finger
or complained of insufferable arthritis
       we sang a hymn to his elegance
stifling our laughter trying not to hear his reprimands

when we arrived in a frenzy for Zaira's French class
                           - a little late -
the black washerwoman scolded us loudly

a girl's education must take place in her head)

when we talked about Jorge's eyes
someone who was daydreaming with us
would say "he's Dr. Milian's son"

when we looked at our neighbors
       black like us incidentally
well
       "no reason to worry that's the way things are"
finally
       everything becomes the living room the piano
everything weighs upon us
like someone who shuns a distant dead relative

VII
the sun fell on the park packed with children
a lot of bicycles
I used to accompany Gladys on a walk
       every afternoon
such noise
she would ask about my parents
whether they disappeared at night
if something caught in their throats when the mentioned me

the afternoon was suffocating
as usual Gladys and I
took in a movie
went shopping for a closet full of clothes
       just to show them off

"you have to be in style"

we returned home

VIII
the orishas never echoed our voices
       we knew they surrounded the house
and like guijes frightened all evil away

there was someone around or living there
       all powerful
a simple stick or reed was his attribute
he blew through it with all the strength of a black man in love

the orishas vibrated quietly around his fingers
the fingers of his right hand diminished the rhythm
       slowly
the one we were waiting for brings his flute

we all craved his presence around the mahogany table
the gold light of the hearth shattered on his shoulders
mysteriously
it's miraculous Richard is with us
       with his solitary flute








I have a piece now from our friend Cliff Keller. Cliff is a poet, musician and song writer. He says he has two bands going, with all original music, leaving not as much time as he'd like for poetry other than lyrics.

Here's one of the pieces he says he's had around a while.



Tarantella

I'm told my delirium's father
is a hairy spider that hunts in fields we harvest

while the men sleep

My affliction is the music I dance to
a circular frenzy with eyes rolled up and inward
I spin to free myself, burn the truth from the wick

In my sleep I never saw the 8 legged angel
with skulking mandibles and a languid approach
to the tender flesh behind my knee

How many legs do you have?

I see you there behind the hay bale, dead-still
waiting for my eyes' decline to consent

It's not your venom I fear
but your stupor








Here's a poem from novelist, short story writer and poet Joyce Carol Oates. Most readers of my age have been where this poem goes, a roller skating rink on Saturday night during the mid-50s.

Are there still such places? Or have small town roller rinks gone the way of drive-in movies?



Roller Rink, 1954

Looping & slamming & swinging their arms
Bobbie Sue & Vinnie & "I'm a Fool" rolling
wide on miniature wheels at the turn & back
& down & bearing hard on the cement track
& dust in our nostrils eyes ears hair lungs -
delicious! as Juicy Fruit & Fats Domino &
sweet little Lilia the minister's daughter
& Russ with the oiled hair in the red neon
stripes arms linked tight around each others'
waists in the careening dark & the roar of
the skates rolling wide like thunder as
there's silence          & you shrug it off,
dropping a dime for a lukewarm bottle of Coke,
& the first dreamy notes of "Ebb Tide" slide
on & who's this squeezing your scared sweaty
hand in his as the skate wheels roll round
& round & round, Christ don't let midnight
come & the music end & this roar as of
freight cars over & the faint powdery film
like death in skull's cavities & coating
the pink tender lungs & the tongue too, spit-
ting & laughing in the parking lot & here's
the flat unmoving earth again, going nowhere.








We went to see Hellboy II last weekend and enjoyed it a lot, a fun Saturday afternoon movie, with humor, amazing fantastical stuff, a good, blue-collar comic book hero, an an excellent supporting cast of lesser marvels.

I recommend it if you just want to go to a movie and have a good time.



after "Hellboy"

not a great film,
but lots of fun,
and the question now
is what to do with the rest
of this Sunday afternoon

nap,
one possibility,
is tempting
but i know if I go to sleep
this afternoon, it's
not going to be one of those
fifteen minute
power-
naps
that refresh a hot
summer
afternoon,
but a real 3 or 4 hour
sleep
marathon
sure to leave me
feeling groggy and pissed off
at the world
and it'll screw up my sleep tonight
besides

so,
it being too damn hot
to go to the lake
or work in the yard
or go to the zoo
or picnic in the park
or take a hike down Government
Canyon or anything else
that requires
leaving an air conditioned
cocoon,
here i am
at the same old stand,
down at the coffee shop,
looking for interesting faces,
looking for a story,
looking for a poem to take the heat
off the afternoon

(here, the poet puts his glasses back on
and studies the crowd
all the while typing,
his fingers on a straight loop
to his brain, until his brain stops
and thinks, what the hell is this,
where did i go off track, what does
this have to do with the poem
i was writing....)

i see the redhead
who's always here in the afternoon,
studying, red hair, thin, sharp face,
displaying no evidence at all
of internal life,
and the couple at the table
next to mine, a young man
and woman, he hispanic,
she gringa, reminding me
of us, 32 years ago, except reversed
and except they're both medical students
while we were both on our way up
through the paper jungle
of state bureaucracy
(now the poet's really in a jam,
rummaging through all this old news,
hoping to hook something
anything
to start a roll in the jumbled
field of Sunday poetics...
the poet's eyes jump
to the new couple just
coming
into the shop, might
there be something to this
very large man
and very small woman,
but, no,
add them together and divide
by two and what you've got
is two very normal
very everyday
very everyday boring people
without an ounce of poetry
anywhere in their very large
and very small bodies....
meanwhile
the poet's brain keeps slipping
back to the movie,
to the great scene when
Hellboy and Abe, the fish guy,
get drunk on Tecate
and sing the syrupy song
about lost love and...

the poet notices the two
young girls, very pretty, talking,
dressed
light for the summer, and the
poet
pencil poised
realizes that some things
can't
be said even in a poem
without
encouraging community dyslogisticity
if not lengthy imprisonment,
and.....)

i look around
one last
time
and decide there's
just nothing here this afternoon
to bring my creative juices
to the ferment
of a boil

(the poet decides....)

it might be best to dare
the dangers
of sleep
intoxication
and go home for a nap

perhaps
a good idea will come to me
in my sleep








Slow Work through Sand, a collection of poems by Leslie Ullman, was published by The University of Iowa Press in 1998m, winning The Iowa Poetry Prize.

Ullman is author of two additional poetry collections, Natural Histories, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1979 and Dreams by No One's Daughter. She has been awarded two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

Ullman directs the MFA Program at the University of Texas at El Paso and is on the faculty of the Vermont College MFA Program.



Gourd

Baked the color of sand
and fitted with hemp, it holds
rainfall. It is carried over the adobe
land and hung against sand-colored
walls, inside or out, while the sun beats
water to sand, and the sky
thrums overhead, endless
and deep, a great exhalation of breath.
When I run my hand along the once-green
skin, I can feel it breathe. I can
feel sky running through its veins.

When I drink from its heart
and eat the bread baked in the smooth
clay ovens that rise here
like temples, I can taste sunlight
ground against sand-colored rock
and saltwater flaked from dried
oceans, where men and women formed
a ragged line from the Bering Strait
pulled by a god for whom they had no name -
each night along the way must have been
like no other, a grain of rest
inside the dome of firelight.

Here the very fields know how to wait.
They flare green when they can.
They subside and flare green again
the way this brown fruit holds rain
for months in its fortress shell
until a man's or woman's hands
lift it into use, sand-colored hands
with sand in their creases.
They offer water to the land, they
shape the land into bricks and tilt more
water to their faces, containers of silence
warmed to fine leather from looking
at sky, looking down, looking
at sky again.








Now I have a poem by "Here and Now" friend Don Schaeffer.

Don holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from City University of New York (1975) and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with his wife, Joyce. His recent poetry has been published in The Loch Raven Review, The Cartier Street Review, The Writers Publishing, Lilly Lit, Burning Effigy Press, Understanding Magazine, Melange, Tryst, Quills, and others. His first book of poetry, Almost Full was published by Owl Oak Press early in the summer of 2006.



On Hearing Holly Cole

Hello there
you know you
live for me.
You reach for the moon
while I am here
trapped in Winter
all the risks cauterized.
I'm in a torpor. I rely on you.

You are the words,
poems of discovery.
You quest for the music,
refreshing all my
old burned out hopes.
It never happened, through
all the time and all the
tries-again until the last one ended.


I hear you
move among the stars
transmitting your images of
tilty pisa and fresh thrills
as close as my own room,
So full of worldly,
naughty faces, surrounded with
icons of dreams.








Pamela Kircher holds a Bachelor's Degree from Ohio University, a Master of Library Science from Kent State University, and a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College's MFA program for writers. Her poems have appeared widely in literary journals, including Best American Poetry, 1993. She is the recipient of three Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships and has been a resident fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

She lives in rural Ohio.

Her poem is from her book, Whole Sky, published by Four Way Books in 1996.



Manatee

Your hand can hold
the shaft of a hoe, a pen,
a needle tethered to white thread,
an edge of satin turned under.

Slip-stitch, blind-stitch, a dress joined
more carefully than your own weak knees
and swollen elbow.
From the beginning a life is fingered
like a mandarin's daughter's feet
in their swaddle of cloth,
like a woman holding tweezers and smoothing
her brows:

I can change this, I'll fix it, I can make it better
than this.
But look

a letter lies
perfumed as a corpse
in its envelope. Dust
trims the hem of a wedding dress
while women tumble two-dollar shirts
hoping for silk.

Are we happy?
Even knowing that shit in a road feeds butterflies
yellow and black and quiet
as a dozen dancer's fans
it's hard to forgive the word happy
for prancing in your ear like a woman
in front of a mirror and the man
she will leave tomorrow.

Yet happiness happens
even to us:

a woman looks
and feels the salt spray spittle
on her face, the steady wind's rough shove.
A manatee rolls in the surf then sinks
away from its name, swimming out
further than words can reach, beyond herself
seeing the beast vanishing
like a wave finally coming to shore,
not there anymore,
                  but never gone








Sometimes it's very hard to keep my mouth shut in public, especially when I don't want to offend someone who, though misguided, is really a nice person.

So I take it all out on paper and hope they never read it. Of course, it wouldn't make any difference if they did; they wouldn't recognize themselves anyway.



dire straits

i have coffee
in the morning
with several old men

well, not really
with,
but next to,

at an adjacent table,
we joke around
and everything

but when it comes
right down to
sitting

i prefer
to read my New York Times
without conversation

especially their conversation,
which,
when not talking about the market

and how their stocks are doing,
which bores me,
they're talking politics;

that,
listening to them
from my table,

is enough to make me
squirm
under the pressure

of shouts not shouted
because, you know,
these are old men, older
then me by ten to twenty

years,
all suffering
from the whispery paranoia

of old age,
men
who think the recent New Yorker

Obama cover
is an overdue expose,
not liberal,

in-the-bubble, New York
mockery
of people like them

so it's best
i sit where i sit
and they sit where they sit

because
if i was at the table
with them

i'd be throwing things,
like
the other morning

i heard one of them
say
you just wait

until when Obama
is elected
and you see

how bad things
can get
and i'm thinking

jesuschristonabicycle
the economy's in the crapper,
people are losing their homes,

driving cars they can't afford
to put gas in
and can't sell because they owe

to much,
businesses are closing,
workers are losing jobs,
the dollar's not worth the tick

on a milk cow's butt,
we're running out of water
and running over with carbon

in the atmosphere
all across the world,
the glaciers are melting

and polar bears are drowning,
and the only people in the world
who don't hate us

are either laughing
at us
or feeding us the financial

rope they'll eventually
use
to hang us,

and 90 percent
of families are
one paycheck

or one medical emergency
away from street life
and the soup kitchen

and we're killing people
left and right
in Iraq

and not killing the people
we ought to be killing
in Afghanistan

and our president
for eight years
is a moral moron

and his vice
is a war criminal,
and short of an alien

invasion
from the planet Venus
how the fuck

I ask you
can it ever get worse
than all that -

so we joke around
me and these old guys
but

i never
never ever ever
sit at their table








OK, time to come down a bit with several haiku from Japanese poet Ueshima Onitsura.

Onitsura was born in 1661, the son of a sake brewer. He is said to have been a man of gentle and sincere nature who had great respect for Basho and visited with him just a few days before his death.

Onitsura died in 1738 at the age of 78.

These poems are from a tiny little book small enough to fit in a shirt pocket and titled The Sound of Water, translated by Sam Hamill and published by Shambhala in 1995.



To finally know
the plum, use the whole heart too,
and your own nose

***

The leaping trout sees
far below, a few white clouds
as they flow

***

True obedience:
silently the flowers speak
to the inner ear

***

Divine mystery
tin those autumn leaves that fall
on stony buddhas








Time to close this week with a little humor, I hope, from me.



the snake that was a stick

i'm
thinking of the old joke
about
the snake
that was a stick
and the stick
that was a snake
as i stick my hand
into the brush and dead
branches
pilled up around
the willow tree;

when we bought
this place
eight years ago
we cleaned up a whole
section
of mesquite brush
and turned it
into a pleasant
little
grove of mesquite trees

we tried to do the same
with the willow
in the back corner
but it was just too
wild
and nothing we could do
could tame it

in the years since
our tenants
kept up with the mesquite
but let the willow
grow
even wilder

looking
to sell the place
sooner
the better,
i'm determined
to bring that willow to heel
before that happens
and have been working on it
all afternoon
with hand clippers
and an extension tree trimmer

what i really need
is a chain saw
but she
who presides over all creatures
that walk
or slither or swim
or fly
or ooze in an
amebic
state, my helpmate
for 31 years,
has ruled
that i will not use a chain saw
unless someone else is present
who is licensed and otherwise
qualified
to drive me to a hospital
so that whatever
arm or leg
i might have sawed off
can be reattached

so
all i can do is look up
at the offending branches
hanging there
prime
for chain saw
resolution,
yet inviolate
on this day as i labor
without required backup

in the meantime,

"i saw a snake!"
"that's bad!"
"not so bad, it turned out to be a stick."
"that's good!"
"not so good, the stick i picked up to hit it with turned out to be a snake!"

damn,
i wish i had a
chain
saw








Well that's it for the week. Smoke'em if you got'em, but don't tell anyone.

In the meantime, guess what? All of the material presented in this blog remains the property of its creators. The blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.

1 Comments:
at 1:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work on the snake, Allen. I think your partner is right about the chainsaw!

As for Dire Straits - I fear you have hit the nail on the head on how many of us outsiders see America nowadays :-( Best of luck for the future.

Ros

Post a Comment



No Way To Get There From Here   Friday, July 18, 2008


III.7.3.




I was very pleased this past week to receive a comment by Pamela Uschuk on Catch of the Day, a "Here and Now" issue from a couple of weeks ago. I led that issue with one of her poems, A Donde Vas, from her book One Legged Dancer.

I don't get prior approval for use in "Here and Now" of material from my library because it would be impossible to put out weekly issues if I tried getting pre-approval on every poem. (And I don't have any interest in doing this any way but weekly.) There's just not enough time for one person working part time. Despite that, I know I'm walking a very thin line and have been concerned about it every since I started the blog.

Happily, Ms. Uschuk was not upset with my use of her work, but expressed appreciation instead. Whew....

In addition to thanking me, she updated her bio a bit. Presently, she is teaching creative writing at Fort Lewis College, a beautiful campus on a hill high above the downtown historic section of Durango, Colorado, a place I intend to move to the day after I win the lottery. (Yes, I checked into housing cost the last time I was there and a lottery win would be required.)

I still have the book One Legged Dancer and it is full of great poems you will see here periodically. In addition, Ms. Uschuk says she has a new book coming out next year, CRAZY LOVE, to be published by Wings Press here in San Antonio. So I'll be watching for that one, also.

And, while on the subject of Durango, Colorado, anybody in that city in the market for a poetry book might visit The Bookcase at 601 E. 2nd Avenue for a copy of my book, Seven Beats a Second, along with its companion piece, chimeras, ideals, errors! a CD of improvisational music by The Ray-Gunn Show Choir.

Have I mentioned before that I have a book for sale? Oh, I thought I might'uv.

In the meantime, here's the line up for this week.

From my library

Frederick Seidel
Wesley R. Mather
April Bernard
Sapphire
Lesley Clark
Ghazi A. Algosaibi
Deborah Digges
Andrei Codrescu
John Guzlowski

From friends of "Here and Now"

Rosemary Badcoe
Fred Longworth
Dan Cuddy
Alice Folkart
Lois P. Jones

And some from me.

So, here we go.








My first poem this week is by Frederick Seidel from the book Poems, 1959-1979 which brings together poems from his first two collections, Final Solutions, originally published in 1963, and Sunrise, published in 1980.

He earned his A.B. at Harvard University in 1957 and attempted to publish his first book, Final Solutions in 1962 which was chosen for an award, then rejected because of requested changes Seidel would not make. The book was finally published by Random House in 1963, but it wasn't until seventeen years later that Seidel published another book. His collection, The Cosmos Poems, was commissioned by the American Museum of Natural History to celebrate the opening of the new Hayden Planetarium in 2000.

His book Going Fast was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and his most recent book, Ooga-Booga, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was shortlisted for the 2007 International Griffin Poetry Prize.



1968

A football spirals through the oyster glow
Of dawn dope and fog in L.A.'s
Bel Air, punted perfectly. The foot
That punted it is absolutely stoned.

A rising starlet leans her head against the tire
Of a replica Cord,
A bonfire of red hair out of
Focus in the fog. Serenading her,
A boy plucks "God Bless America" from a guitar.
Vascular spasm has made the boy's hands blue,
Even after hours of opium.

Fifty or so of the original
Four hundred
At the fundraiser,
Robert Kennedy for President, the remnants, lie
Exposed as snails around the swimming pool, stretched
Out on the paths, and in the gardens, and the drive.

Many dreams their famous bodies have filled.

The host, a rock superstar, has
A huge cake of opiu"
Which he refers to as "King Kong,"
And which he serves on a silver salver
Under a glass bell to his close friends,
So called,
Which means all mankind apparently,
Except the fuzz,
Sticky as tar, the color of coffee,
A quarter of million dollars going up in smoke.

This is Paradise painted
On the inside of an eggshell
With the light outside showing through,
Subtropical trees and flowers and lawns,
Clammy as albumen in the fog.
And smelling of fog. Backlit
And diffuse, the murdered
Voityck Frokowski, Abigail Folger and Sharon Tate
Sit together without faces.

This is the future.
Their future is the future. The future
Has been born,
The present is the afterbirth,
Those bloodshot and blue acres of flowerbeds and stars.
Robert Kennedy will be kille-.
It is '68 the campaign year -
And the beginning of a new day.

People are waiting.
When the chauffeur-bodyguard arrives
For work and walks
Into the ballroom, now recording studio, herds
Of breasts turn round, it seems in silence,
Like cattle turning to face a sound.
Like cattle lined up to face the dawn.
Shining eyes seeing all or nothing,
In the silence.

A stranger, and wearing a suit,
Has to be John the Baptist,
At least, come
To say someone else is coming.
He hikes up his shoulder holster
Self-consciously, meeting their gaze.
This is as sensitive as the future gets.








We have a new friend of "Here and Now" this week, Rosemary Badcoe, writing to us from England.

Rosemary has a history degree but says that she has recently been taking science courses, in the belief that the pursuit of knowledge should never stop. She has been writing for a while but has been concentrating on poetry for the last year or so

I first read Rosemary's work on the Wild Poetry Forum and she, and I, too, highly recommend it to anyone wanting to write and share their writing for recognition and careful, constructive critique.



By the permissive path to the Persistence Works

at the dog end of the city
a waste ground of clammy soil
is dug with optimistic backache,
leaves herbs planted like an urban cottage garden,
sleeping thyme and rue in silent earth.

Across the path, there's fancy paving -
motley slabs knobbed in watchful pattern
surround iron grates that cover drains
and trapdoors leading to a lower world,
the stench of rotting and the lurk
of something worse.

As if to separate the two,
a fence of psychedelic steel bisects
the growing from the dead,

as if the rain, as careful as the planting,
will neatly split in two,
drizzle gentle patter on the herbs
while across the path the hungry storm
cascades across the bricks
and funnels down the drains.








My next poem is by Wesley K. Mather, from his first book Into Pieces published by iUniverse, Inc. in 2003. I can't find any information on his except what's on the back cover of his book, and that is that he lives in Denver, Colorado and received his education from Metropolitan State College.



Words

They are questions
of time
constructions
of plot and conspiracies
obscurities
realities
patterns of systems
questions even of questions

Mostly they are
letters and fragments
simple and cunningly rearranged
sometimes put down in ink
other times etched in
dark

What are these words?
What can they do?
Where do they live?
How can we use them to out advantage?

They are smaller than seems rational
replicating in some steaming vent somewhere
like dirty little bastard bacteria
the kind that stink and make us sick.

A rusted-out old typer
with a faded ribbon
the letters sticking out
like teeth in a sickening grin
from some abstract
and inhuman place
is the most visually stunning machine
ever conceived of

It's a processor of all the little words
it takes them in raw
and dumps them out nice and sterilized

It feels good to watch them
clanging around
butting heads
there on the paper

The next step in their lifecycle
is to infect a new host
You just send out a paper
filled with them
and watch them regain their malignancy
as they spread








I have deep thoughts sometimes, and when I do, try to work them into my poetry.



things to watch out for as you monitor your quality of life

this is what
i've
learned today

when your dog
starts
yawning
in the middle
of your
morn
ing
walk
you
're
pro
bab
ly
in
a
r
u
t








April Bernard, born in 1956, has lived in New York City and Amherst, Massachusetts. She currently lives in Bennington, Vermont where she teaches at Bennington College.

Her first book of poems, Blackbird Bye By, won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her next book was a novel Pirate Jenny, followed by a second book of poetry, Psalms, published by W.W.Norton in 1993, from which the next poem is taken. Since Psalms, she has published a third book of poetry, Swan Electric.



Psalm of the Apartment-Dweller

Take the feet of those who march.
Take the hands that clench.
Take the furtherest thing from useful you can find and set it down:
This is where I live.
Thick bloody paint puddles between the floorboards.
Here once I entertained my family.
But the man ran off to sea, and my son fell ill
and wept till he was sent away by the people who came.
My daughter refuses to pray. When I force her to her knees
she holds her tiny red hands together and whispers:
"O pigeon, I will feed you with the crumbs from my table,
I will sing your praises to all men. I will hold a cracker
on my tongue and swiftly will you size it." Selah








Now here's a poem from another of our friends, Fred Longworth

A lifetime San Diego resident, Fred restores vintage audio components for a living. His poems have appeared in numerous print journals, including California Quarterly, The Pacific Review, Pearl, Pudding Magazine, Rattapallax and Spillway. Online publications include kaleidowhirl, Melic Review, miller's pond , Poetic Voices and Stirring.



Mouth

The end of the world will come when you finish this poem.
Demons will grab your limbs and scull and fight over you
like moray eels over a scrumptious echinoderm.
So, you're relying on me to reach into my bag of petty miracles and -

Make it so that the final word of the poem is stuffed into
the gaping jaws of the first, like a universe that expands forever
into an infinitely small point, or the chain-smoker who lights
his next cigarette with the dying ember from the last one.

So pronounce after me: Ouroboros, the snake with its ass
in its mouth. A truly sacred image, until you recall that even
an iconic snake has excretory functions. And yes, I do wonder
if sewer pipes and water mains hold hands in the dark.

Even now, the demons flex their talons. Such arrogant little
fellows, with their silly yellow eyes and tacky misshapen horns.
I want to pull a Lloyd Bentsen on them and say, "Lucifer was
a friend of mine. Azathoth, you're no Lucifer."

But I can see you're sweating., because contemporary demons
use lots of steroids. A good defense is to pretend you're one
of them. They go easy on their own kind. Make believe you have
the claws, the cloven feet, the ruddy skin, the pointy tail.








I've used poems by Sapphire before, from her second book, American Dreams. Now I have a poem from her third book Black Wings & Blind Angels, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2000. Her poems in this book as as tough and straight-ahead as ever.



Breaking Karma #9

I am in Washington, D.C. at a Borders bookstore.
Me and the other authors have finished reading and are sitting signing books. A young white girl comes up to me. She has a ring through her lip and one through her nose, wild dirty "hippie" overalls, and kind eyes. Kind kind eyes.

She thanks me for the reading and after I sign her book she hands me a postcard book of beautiful African women and says that she wants to give me a present. We both ooh and ahh as I flip through the book. She points out one she wants to keep for herself, saying I can have any of the others. The one she likes is of women dancing in a circle.

I choose a photo of a dark slender girl with African white teeth. Her black body is photographed against a backdrop of sea. Blue like god. So, a five by eight of the blue blue water and the upper body and head of this African girl with tiny breasts, nipples like nodes of dark light pointed toward god. She has a red pigment smeared ovr her jet black shoulders. Around her neck are thirty or forty strands of red beads like soft rings of passion rising. On top of her head, on a headdress of black cloth shaped like a large donut, lies a huge black fish glistening like a dark sliver of the moon, the upturned fins piercing the horizon and the gentle azure sky.
   So a dark girl
    with a bright
     smile
    red smeared
     like blood or paint
      over her.
    the blue blue sea the horizon the gentle
     azure sky
    and a fish
     a black
      fish
       on top her head.

    I say black blood fish blue sea
     strange smile of a girl on
      a continent where our
       color tells us
        we come from.

I have seen only one picture of you as a child.
It is misty ancient photography. The face is foreign,
no recognizable feature or expression has survived you
to womanhood.
Your child-self crouches brown on a Philadelphia
porch in clothes from the firs quarter of this century.
There is some type of nose-twitching mouse quality to you,
fear. A would-be beauty with no trace of the crooked
teeth, the veins in your hands, even the eyes that end up
so big, seem small and strange now.
What stays with me is how small, how very small, a child you are.
And how from a pile of photos of other children I would not
have been able to pick you out as mine,
and of course you are not mine.
You are the porch's
South Philadelphia's
the adults around you
the red brick
of a row
house.
You are colored in
the twenties.
Your are the future's
but nobody knows
what that is.
I am who
will be born
to you
but you don't know that
sitting on the step
tiny toy of a child
you don't even know
where babies come from
or that you will
have to bleed every month
and break open
four times
for four different lives.
Your are clasping
your knees
gazing past a camera
in a childhood that is gone
closed like
the camera's shutter.
All is black now
gone.
I gaze at the picture
of where we come from
women smiling black
with breasts like arrows,
strong teeth,
and fish or their heads.
An astrologer tells me you have
Neptune conjunct your sun,
a fish, the sea, so to
speak, on your head.

      Our story:
       me, you
          blood
          fish
          water
          mother
          daughter
           I accept the inevitable confusion
            the facts bring.
             I want to accept defeat, despair
              but I don't give up
               I keep writing. I keep going.
      Your are my life. My BELOVED.
        My hate filled mother
          who spit me out like a fish bone
        I don't cry
        I stand in front of a postcard
        waves frozen
        time
      the dead fish
      the waves
            breaking like the question
      why whoosh whoosh
                  why








I finally got to write a storm poem after a couple of days last week when we enjoyed some serious wet.



the big flush

hard rain
this afternoon,
gusty winds
blowing it against
the house,
rattling
the windows

i see the creek
through cracks
in the fence
high,
running fast,
pushing hard,
carrying six months
of road debris,
on the first leg
of its long rush
to the gulf








Now I have a poet new to me, Lesley Clark, with a poem from her book the absence of colour published in 2000 by Orchard Press of St. Mary's University in San Antonio.

Clark was born in Big Spring, Texas and raised in Aldeburg, England. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Psychology and working towards her master's degree. She has been published three anthologies, A Garland of Poems and Short Stories, Poetry Palette. and Voices along the River.



Zorro

ancient man of many masks
king of fiesta flambeau parades

mystery man with many mano moves
dancing a seductive silhouette

come to me Zorro
show me the ancient surprise you conceal
behind your mask

let me see your sultry smile
revealed within your eyes

ancient masked mystery man
expose yourself!

let other see the steamy seduction
let us be seen and sedated in pure sight

expose the raw and untamed love
with me you confide

ancient masked mystery man
dance to the rhythm's bountiful beat

let us compose a climactic chorus
where others can become intoxicated with song

let our hearts blend to the beautiful ballads
let us mend body and mind, sound and sense

ancient masked mystery man,
sway into the magical moment

where we can reveal the
secrecy of our
swift seduction

come to me Zorro
come to me

and I, I will remove the mask from the mystery man
together we can dance
away the dusk hour,
the dementia of drunken love








Our friend Dan Cuddy is back this week with a new poem.



Word In The Wind

 is the wind dark, cold, hot, searing, bitter?

is it a blade that cuts the skin,
shaves it,
removes it from the bone,
the skin,
like shivers of wood
a pile of thin flakes moved
by the breath of a thing invisible?

the wind?

a word?
yes, a word.
that is the wind,
a word.








My next poem is from a very slender book of poems titled From The Orient And The Desert published in 1994 by Kegan Paul International.

The poems are by Ghazi A. Algosaibi, a poet with a background unusual in modern poetry.

He was born in Al-Hasa, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He received his LLB from Cairo University, his M.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of London. He joined King Saud University in Riyadh as Lecturer in 1965 and became Dean of the Faculty of Commerce in 1971. In 1974 he was appointed Director of Railroads and subsequently served as Minister of Industries and Electricity from 1975 to 1982, and as Minister of Health from 1982 to 1984. In 1984 he became Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Bahrain, serving until 1992, when he was appointed Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Along with his various official duties, he is a well known and accomplished author of both prose and poetry in Arabic and English.

I said it was a slender book. It has, in total, fifteen poems and the same number of pencil drawings by Andrew Vicari. It is beautifully bound and cost, even used, $10. It is one of the most unusual poetry books I've picked up at a used book store.

(Irrelevant to this particular book, but interesting, is the very large number of poetry books I've bought at a used book store that are signed by the author. Seems strange.)



Let Us Briefly Dream

Come, let us briefly dream
of a fountain spraying moonlight,
of a swing hung in the stars,
of a legend sung by rain,
of a cottage in the clouds
with walls of shadow,
doors of flowers,
of a rose tent where
sunsets live;
come and you will know
why a bedouin has to roam.








I was hearing some adjacent conversation at my coffee shop this week and heard a young woman asked her name. "Sheila," she replied, which set of a whole series of very old memories for me.



Sheila

her name is
Sheila,
but she's black,
not white,
and at least
40 years
too young
to be
my
Sheila
who lived
down the road
past the irrigation
canal, my first
girlfriend-
would-have-been
if i had stopped
kicking
clods
in front of her
house
and knocked
on her door,
but i don't care,
black or white
old or young,
her name
is Sheila,
the magic
magic
Sheila
Sheeeeee
la
the exact
same
name as my
lost-
to-clod-
kicking-
first-love
Sheeeee...
Sheeeee....
Sheeeee...
la
and that's
enough
for me

i would
tell
her
i love her
but she'd
probably
have
me
arrested








My next poem is by Deborah Digges, the title piece from her third book of poetry, Rough Music, published by Alfred A Knopf in 1995.

Digges was born in Jefferson, MO, in 1950. She received degrees from the University of California and the University of Missouri, as well as an M.F.A from the Iowa Writers Workshop.

She is the author of four books of poetry including Rough Music, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Prize, and most recently Trapeze in 2005. Her first book, Vesper Sparrows in 1986, won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize from New York University. Digges has also written two memoirs, Fugitive Spring and The Stardust Lounge.

Digges has received grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation and has taught in the graduate writing divisions of New York, Boston, and Columbia Universities. She currently lives in Massachusetts, where she is a professor of English at Tufts University.



Rough Music

This is how it's done.
The villagers surround the house,
beat pots and pans, beat shovels to drain spouts,
crowbars to shutters, rakes
raining rake tines on corrugated washtubs, or wire
whips, or pitchforks, or horseshoes.
At first they keep their distance
as if to wake you like blackbirds, though the birds
have long since fled, flown deep into the field.
And for a while you lie still, you stand it,
even smile up at your crimes
accompanying, each one, the sunrise stuttering across the ceiling
like the sounds within the sounds,
like lightning inside thrum-tink, woman-in-wood-shoes-fall-
down-wooden-stairs, like wrong-wrong inside rung-rung,
brick-smacking-brick housing ice-breaking-ice-
breaking-glass...
I mention this since this is what my dreams
are lately, rough music,
as if all the boys to women I have been, the muses, ghost
girls and shadows of the ancestors
circled my bed in their cheap accouterments
and banged my silver spoons on iron skillets, moor
rock on moor rock, thrust yardsticks into the fans.
Though I wake and dress and try
to go about my day,
room to room to room they follow me.
By evening, believe me, I'd give back everything,
throw open my closets, pull out my drawers spilling my hoard
of dance cards, full for the afterlife,
but my ears are bleeding.
I'm trapped in the bell tower during wind,
or I'm the wind itself against the furious unmetered,
anarchical applause of leaves late autumns
in the topmost branches.
Now the orchestra at once throws down its instruments.
The doors in the house of God tear off their hinges -
I'm the child's fist drumming its mother's back,
rock that hits the skull that silences the martyr,
or I'm the martyr's tongue cut out, fire inside fire,
clapper back to ore, one into the mountain.
I'm gone, glad, empty, good
riddance, some shoulder to the sea, the likeness
of a wing, or the horizon, merely, that weird mirage, stone-
skipping moon, the night filled up with cows.
I clap my hands.
They scatter, scatter, fistful after
fistful of sand on water, desert for desert, far from here.





Original Photo bu "Here and Now" friend Bob Anderson




Now, one of the original friends of "Here and Now," Alice Folkart.

Alice wanted to be a tightrope walker or a jet pilot, but nobody would let her do those things, so she took up poetry. And aren't we the lucky ones, getting to read her poems that are such fun. Fun, not a word frequently heard in the heady heights of poetry, but there's just no other way to put it.



It's All a Matter of Taste

Kalena and I stand at the sink
talking, letting the coolest breeze
of that hot afternoon refresh us.

We drink tea and watch a white heron,
two feet tall, peachy crest to pointy yellow feet,
possess the top of the driveway hedge.

"Oh, look," I whisper.
"Something's straggling out of his beak,
He must be building a nest somewhere."

"No," she says, "He's hunting.

That hedge is a regular gecko housing project,
full of them, and they're his favorite food.
He hunts there every afternoon."

I gulp. He gulps. That wispy thing
protruding from his beak
is no piece of straw, no twig,
it is a gecko, struggling, wriggling.

The Heron mouths it, turns it about with his tongue,
slips it and slides it, seems to enjoy the play.
It writhes, he almost drops it, but then swallows.

"There goes another one," Kalena says
and pours me more tea, "Cookie?" she asks.

The heron stands there, slender white neck extended.
Do I imagine that it pulsates and distorts,
pokes out here, rounds a bit there,
like a living, pregnant belly?

"Cookie?" I ask. "What kind?"








Romanian-born Andrei Codrescu is a poet, memoirist, journalist and editor of The Exquisite Corpse, a literary magazine. He is also a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered," which is where I first heard of him. From those appearances, I know that he lives in New Orleans.

I picked up one of his books of poetry, Belligerence, published in 1991 by Coffee House Press of Minneapolis, at a used bookstore last week. I'm using the title poem from the book.



Belligerence

In the irruptive mode
I wear no hat
& hate what I see
in the rearview mirror
except silver balls.
When I was all the rage
I was in disruptive mode
& work the instructions
on my Reeboks to a frazzle
between the lines of what
everybody read and the high-
way stripes painted there.
Actually shoes in those days
had no names but I was futurist.
Mealtimes at Hojo's and Wendy's
the plastic tablecloths
had squares in them and squares
in them and the prices were cheap
obsessively and people
in those days laughed
until their faces
became tic-tac-toe boards
& few could tell death to shut up.
Life was no fucking (pre)text.
Menus with everything under one
dollar were not unknown.
Anyway, only the greatest
could write it down. I was
among them. Since the, volcanoes
were miniaturized,
everyone gets to be
a little sick. I know
everyone who works here,
they are not happy.
I wear a dunce cap.








Something got me to thinking about trees, which lead on to me thinking about this.



the oldest oak tree in Texas

the oldest oak tree
in Texas is in Goose Island
State Park just outside
Aransas Wildlife Refuge
on the coast near Corpus Christi

nothing lasts on the Gulf Coast,
that's been my observation,
sand and salt and mildew wet
eat everything, rust metal,
rot wood, cover with blown sand
that which it cannot destroy

but for more
than a thousand years
this tree has stood firm
in the face of all the decay
pitted against it, stood strong
against fierce Gulf winds
blowing morning and night,
35 feet around with a limb spread
of 90 feet, a hanging tree,
a pirate's rendezvous,
outliving the Carancahua
and the Tancahua, and the Spanish
whose golden galleons sunk
within the sight of this tree
already great as the king's treasure
slipped beneath the waves

it continues every year, growing
larger and wider, it's great trunk
expanding, mocking the puny
life span of the flip-flopped,
sunburned tourist who stop
and take the long walk around it,
sipping diet Coke through
a soda straw, itching from the sand,
already thinking about the shower
waiting for them back at the condo

they will leave and someday die,
while the tree
with long-practiced
patience
lives
on








Although I've been reading Lois P. Jones on the web for a number of years, this is her first appearance in "Here and Now" and I'm very pleased that she has agreed to join us.

Her work has been published in state quarterlies, anthologies, ezines and internationally in Argentina and Japan. She is the coeditor of A Chaos of Angels (Word Walker Press, 2006), an anthology of 65 poets that examines spirituality in a biochemically oriented culture. You can find her as co-host at Mondays monthly poetry reading at Village Books in Pacific Palisades, California and hear her as guest host on Poet's Cafe (KPFK, 90.7 FM Pacifica Radio). She is the Associate Poetry Editor of Kyoto Journal.



Rumi Does Not Attend the Workshop

The living room is littered with bowls. They are filled with expectation,
with dusty phrases and broken pencils. They are no longer Christian
or Jew or Muslim or Hindu, Buddhist or Zen. None have tasted
their own fruit. None belong, not even the dervish
who tells me to take deep breaths
find my fourth heart,

chant
your
name
until I
have
traveled a
thousand
veils
to find
you.
I do not
say
the last
veil is
a mirror.
That there is
no name, only the
crystallized bowls of
sugar merchants,
an old fruit cobbler
and a spoon.









Now, two poems from Winter/Spring 2007 issue of The Spoon River Poetry Review. Both poems are by Illinois poet John Guzlowski.

From the journal's introduction of poet Guzlowski:

"Born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II. John Guzlowski came with his family to the Unites States ad a Displaced Person in 1951. His parents had been slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humbolt Park in Chicago, he met hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on the wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians.....

Recently retired from Eastern Illinois University, he continues to write about his parents. His new poems about his parents and the people he knew growing up appear in his book Lightening and Ashes (Steel Toe Books, 2007) and the chapbook Third Winter of War: Buchewald (Finishing Line Press, 2007)."



Cattle Train to Magdeburg

My mother still remembers

The long train to Magdeburg
the box cars
bleached gray
by Baltic winters

The rivers and the cities
she had never seen before
and would never see again:
the sacred Vistula
the smoke-haunted ruins of Warsaw
th Warta, where horse flesh
met steel and fell

The leather fists
of pale boys
boys her own age
perhaps seventeen
perhaps nineteen
but different
convinced of their godhood
by the cross they wore
different from the one
she knew in Lvov

The long twilight journey
to Magdeburg -
four days that became six years
six years that became sixty

And always a train of box cars
bleached to Baltic gray.


Work and Death

At the end
my father sat in his garden
in the early morning

the desert in Sun City,
Arizona, the strange place,
still cool

the clear light
tinged with desert blue

the pigeons cooing

He couldn't lift
the shovel then, drag
the bag of topsoil
from her to there.

He couldn't breath
or stand either.
There wasn't much
left to him.

But he could nod
toward an orange tree
its roots bound in burlap,
and point to the place
where he wanted me
to plant it.

There, he'd say
to me in Polish,
please plant it there.








Time now for the last piece of the week.

I wrote this, in a another fit of desperation, this past week. The fits seem to be coming more and more often.



watch this space

i'm
holding this space
for my
next
great poem -

it'll
be a wonder,
a grand thing,
tender, deeply
evocative
of all that is
beautiful
and life-affirming
in rocks and mountains
and birds
and flowers and dirt
and stuff like that,
fierce
in its examination
of the gritty
entrails
of living, a
revelatory piece
of monumental
poetica
certain to illuminate
and expand
the meaningfulness
of your life

coming
soon, right
here,
for your very own
intellectual
and spiritual
development

or
not








So you better keep moving this next week so the fella above doesn't decide you're dinner.

As you do that, remember, all of the material in this blog remains the property of its creators; the blog itself was produced by and is the property of me....allen itz.

1 Comments:
at 3:22 PM Blogger Alice Folkart said...

Good stuff, Allen - appreciate the introduction to some fine poets, especially Gail Bernard - that psalm of the apt dweller really got me. And, Fred Longworth's Mouth (poem, not physical feature);Saphire's Breaking Karma #9, spoke to me as a child who frequently tries to figure out the mother-child-person relationship, black or not - how do we ever get born? how do we ever survive?; and really love the 'Let us briefly dream, 'Alogaibi's gorgeous poem - I always wondered why; and Diggs' Rough Music, music itself; and Guzlowski's very moving 'Cattle Train...' left me speechless, and, of course, all of yours, but that 'Watch This Space' is a great ending.

And, by the way, so neat that you had access to that bird-eating-lizards photo to go with my poem. I'm delighted.
Delighted to be in such good company. Thanks, Allen.

Alice

Post a Comment



Let The Rains Come Down   Friday, July 11, 2008


III.7.2.




A busy Friday afternoon and evening ahead, again, so welcome everyone, a little bit early, to another week of "Here and Now."

This week I have,

From my library -

Charles Hazo
Nicole Higginbotham
Gerald Manley Hopkins
Basho
Simon J. Ortiz
Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan
Jane Kenyon
Rikki Ducornet
Bucky Sinister
Danny Shot
Jack Wiler
Klipschutz
R.G. Vliet
Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Friends of "Here and Now" -

Alex Stolis
Dan Flore
Beau Blue
Jane Roken
Teresa White

And several of my own.

So let's get started.








Saying Samuel Hazo is a poet new to me is not saying much, since, not being particularly well read in poetry, most poets will be new to me when I find them. Perhaps better if I just say, I found this guy's book last week and I really like what I read.

The book is A Flight to Elsewhere published by Autumn House Press in 2005.

Hazo, the poet, has published thirty books of poetry, as well as appearing in many literary magazines and anthologies. He was also the commentator and narrator on National Public Radio, KDKA, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hazo has received nine honorary degrees and was appointed the first state poet for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by Governor Robert Casey in 1993. He held this position until 2003.

He was born in 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Lebanese and Assyrian immigrants Sam and Lottie Hazo.

Hazo began studying law, but soon changed to English, earning his B.A. degree in 1948 from the University of Notre Dame, He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served as a captain. After leaving military service, Hazo returned to Pennsylvania to continue his education. He earned his M.A. from Duquesne University in 1955 and two years later his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He then returned to teach at Duquesne as a professor of English, where he stayed, from 1955 to the present.



On The Stroke of

   1

Is life equivalent to digits
   nicked across a gravestone?
Or is it more?
            Or both?
Or neither one?
               Or something
else entirely?

            At two
   plus fifty Shakespeare was over.
Scholars agree while others
   claim he lives in forty plays,
   a sequence of sonnets, seven
   poems and a handwritten plea
   for money.

         Believers claim
   that Shakespeare lived and wrote
   as God intended.

            Cynics
   say what difference does it make?
The sick still suffer, wars
   keep happening, and everyone
   who dies dies disappointed...
Four views of a single Shakespeare...
Just one of the four is true.

   2

If he had gone the day
   before or not at all,
   these words would not exist.
If he had turned one block
   before he turned, nothing
   would have happened.

               Had he
   but looked, the impact might
   have been avoided.

            Instead,
   we woke to one less driver
   in the world, a father in grief,
   and a sister and brother bereft.
We said the place and time
   were wrong, but these and all
   the laws of physic worked
   as they should.

         The traffic lights
   kept flashing red and green
   in sequence.

      Seated riders
   passed at fifty miles per hour
   in their designated lanes to prove
   that bodies in motion stay
   in motion unless another body
   in motion's in the way.

               Granted,
   the impact cost one life,
   but the logically lethal laws
   of physics worked to perfection.

   3

Why are all sculpted profiles
   on a coins and every printed
   face on every paper currency
   on earth so serious?

            There's not
   a smile in the lot.

         Why does
   "The Star Spangled Banner"
   start and end on a question?
Why are the four months
   from September through December
   two months out of order?
Why not call ceilings nothing
   but inverted floors?

         What
   are the implications here for money,
   country, time and architecture?
Answers, if they exist or not,
   are not the point.

         The point
   is why these questions leave
   so many people quietly
   amazed and, after a pause,
   confused and ready to argue.








Doing most of my writing, as I do, in coffee shops and other public places, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that, occasionally, someone is watching me as closely as I'm watching them.



being a writer

being a writer
or
at least
appearing
to be a writer
by writing
all the time
in a little black book
leads to conversations
like this -

"what do you
do?" he asks, "i see
you writing all the time."

"i'm a writer,"
i say.

(note -
i'm hesitant
to say i'm a poet
cause hearing that
some might say, "oh, a poet, huh,
well mr. so-called poet,
rhyme something for me,"
and me being a poet
who does not rhyme,
who cannot rhyme,
who does not even want
to rhyme, would be stuck,
leaving at question my claim
to the poetic title)

so i stick with
"writer"
which is self-evident
and demonstrably true
since i'm writing all the time
in my little black book

(although truth to be told
they're not all black, some
are brown and some are
a kind of a pale flesh color
and one is a very nice vermillion,
as i understand the term)

"you're not
some kind of damn
professor,
are you?" he says,

and i say,
"wouldn't think
of it."

and he says "Okay! Good!"
and, satisfied,
returns to his table,
"i'm almost a writer,"
he adds as he leaves, "i'm
a reader."








My next piece is a love poem from a book of love poems by Nicole Higginbotham. The book, Mahal Kita at Miss Na Kita is from lulu.com. I could find the lulu listing, including a photo of the poet, but could find nothing else about her. A google search suggests an unexpectedly large number of persons by that name on the web, with nothing I could find indicating which, if any, was the poet.

So, a little mystery and romance music, please.



First Touch

In one moment
We changed time
Leaving all
We knew behind
In that kiss
That subtle touch
I had never
Felt so much
And with her heartbeat
Clothing mine
We worked as one
Intertwined
Searching all
With none to spare
There was nothing
Left to bear
She superseded
My discontent
In not knowing
How it went
And once I'd learned
The line of red
I turned her over
On the bed
And as my lips
Grazed such skin
My curious fingers
Wandered in
As her sigh
Escaped her lips
I journeyed mine
between her hips
and ecstasy
It pounded through
Knowing what
I had to do









I posted one of these poems last week, credited to the wrong person. It was one of two poems I had slipped into the wrong computer file. Both poems are by Alex Stolis and I should have recognized them as such because they reflect both his sensibilities and style.

To make up for my public mistake on one, I'm posting both this week, excellent poems by an excellent poet.

I also want to mention that Alex got some good news this week. His chapbook, How to drink yourself sober, will be published by Amsterdam Press in November.



michael gause wants to drink

with henry baitaille, wants to be the last man
to hold truth in the palm of his hand.
he thinks about writing notes to strangers

telling them how one day the sun will melt and fall
slowly from the sky. there seems to be no end
to the american myth

its birth, life and death cut and paste into a fabric
to wrap up day to day minutia.
tomorrow morning will bring its rush

hour traffic, blank stares and the blurred
visionary will make up a prayer
small enough to fit in a shot glass


How to fall in love without breaking - one part (3) of ten

write her
grown-up name
under

your skin
be determined to get lost
and found
on your way to the edge of the earth

but don't believe
your eyes

as they track the sun
even when you see its legs get weary and slowly
sink
to the ground

take whatever's left of the horizon
put it in your pocket
now your prepared for rain that will never come








Now here's a piece from Poetry For The Earth, a collection of poems from around the world that celebrate nature, edited by Sara Dunn with Alan Scholefield and published by Fawcett Columbine in 1991.

The poet is Gerald Manley Hopkins. Born in 1844, he came from a High Anglican family but converted to Roman Catholicism under the influence of Cardinal Newman while a student at Oxford. As a Jesuit priest, he spent four years in Wales as a professor of rhetoric and a student of the Welsh language. Later he held a post at University College, Dubin, where he became ill and eventually died of typhoid in 1889.

He poetry was not published until 30 years after his death.



Inversnaid

This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry healthpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.


And here's one more tiny piece from the same book. This, by Basho.



Years End

Year's end,
all corners
of this floating world, swept.








It's been really dry here in San Antonio, I mean, as in the driest since 1870 something, so it was a great relief when we finally got a little rain around the fourth. Here's a poem I did while enjoying the long-missed sound of rain on my roof.



finally

finally!

RAIN!!!

not enough
to break the drought,
a week from now
the grass will be brown
again
and trees
will droop their
branches
low
again
over park trails
returned to powdered dust

but
for a day,
for right now,
the smell of
fresh rain,
the cool mist
of it as it splashes
on the screen,
and puddles

godamighty,
puddles!








I found Simon J. Ortiz in an anthology of Native American poetry. Since then I found a collection of his work titled Woven Store. The book is divided into three major sections, "Going for the Rain," "A Good Journey," and "Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, For the Sake of the Land."

Ortiz, born in 1941 in New Mexico, is a Native American writer of the Acoma Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the second wave of what has been called the Native American Renaissance. He is one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets.

Ortiz originally studied at Fort Lewis College as a chemistry major with the help of a BIA educational grant. While enthralled with language and literature, he says never considered pursuing writing seriously. At the time, it didn't seem to him a viable career. For Native people, it was perceived as "a profession only whites did."

But, after a three-year stint in the U.S. military, Ortiz returned to college at University of New Mexico where he discovered few ethnic voices within the American literature canon. He began to pursue writing as a way to express the generally unheard Native American voice that was only beginning to emerge in the midst of political activism.

Two years later, in 1968, he received a fellowship for writing at the University of Iowa in the International Writers Program.

In 1988 he was appointed as tribal interpreter for Acoma Pueblo, and in 1989 he became First Lieutenant Governor for the pueblo. In 1982, he became a consulting editor of the Pueblo of Acoma Press.

Since 1968, Ortiz has taught creative writing and Native American literature at various institutions, including San Diego State, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Navajo Community College, the College of Marin, the University of New Mexico, and Sinte Gleska University (one of the first U.S. tribal colleges). He currently teaches at the University of Toronto.

I selected this poem from the "Going For The Rain" section of Woven Stone.



Many Farms Notes

taken on a Many Farms, Arizona, trip, Spring 1973

1
Hawk circles
on wind roads
only he knows
how to follow
to the center.

2
Hawk's bright eyes
read trees, stones,
points in horizon,
movements, how wind
and shadows play
tricks, and sudden
rabbit flurry
which reminds him
of his empty stomach.

3
A Tuba City girl asks me
if I ever write from paintings.
I tell her that I write
with visions in my head.

4
I'm walking out of Gallup.
He calls, "Hey, my fren,
where you going too fas?"
"Many Farms."
"Good lucks."
I smile for his good thoughts.

5
A wind vision
if you look into the Chinle valley,
you will see the Woman's cover,
A tapestry her Old Mother worked
for 10 million years or so.

6
On the way south to the junction,
I looked to the northeast
and couldn't decide whether that point
in the distance beyond the Defiance uplift
was Sonsela Butte or Fluted Rock.

7
The L.A. Kid was a city child
and a Navajo rodeo queen,
who said she'd seen me on the road
coming out of Window rock,
said her friend had said
"I think that was him
we just passed him up,"
and felt so bad,
said she was born in L.A.
but wasn't really a city girl
and visited her homeland
every Summer, and said
her mother was from Lukachakai.

8
Bear occurs several times, of course:
The day before I went to Many Farms,
received a card from Snyder,
said he'd "spent a day watching grizzly bear"
grizzling at the San Diego Zoo.

Navajo girl had a painting of Bear.
He was facing east and looking up.
A line was drawn through im,
from chest to tail, rainbow muted colors,
and I said, "That line seems to be both
the horizon and the groundline where you start."

She told me what the people say.
Don't ever whistle at night where bears are,
because female bears do that
when there are courting bears around.
Remember that: don't whistle
in the dark, horny Bear night.

That Navajo girl asked me
what I thought about polygamy.
I told her I thought it was a good idea
but not for keeps, and we laughed.
I wonder how many wives Bear has?

9
For Monday night supper, we had
mutton ribs, round steak,
good Isleta bread, tortillas,
broccoli, green chili, potatoes,
gravy, coffee, and apple pie.
The mutton was tough and Francis said,
"You gotta be tough
to live on this land."

10
After I got out of the back
of a red pickup truck,
I walked for about a mile
and met three goats, two sheep and a lamb
by the side of the road.
I was wearing a bright red wool cap
pulled over my ears,
and I suppose they thought I was maybe weird.
because they were all ears and eyes.
I said, "Yaahteh, my friends,
I'm from Acoma, just passing through."
The goat with the bell jingled it
in greeting a couple of times.
I could almost hear the elder sheep
telling the younger, "You don't see many
Acoma poets passing through here."

11
"What would you say the main theme
of your poetry is?"
"To put it as simply as possible,
I say it his way: to recognize
the relationships I share with everything."

I would like to know well the path
from just east of Black Mountain
to the gray outcropping of Roof Butte
without having to worry
about the shortest way possible.

12
I worried about two women discussing how
to get rid of a Forming Child
without too much trouble, whether
it would be in the hospital in Gallup
or in Ganado.
Please forgive my worry and my concern.

13
"Are you going to Gallup, shima?"
"Yes."
"One dollar and fifty cents, please."








Dan Flore was an early friend of "Here and Now," and here he is now with a new poem.

Dan is 30 years old and lives in Pennsylvania. He has led many poetry therapy groups for people with serious mental illness and hosts a writer's circle. He plans to put out a chapbook. I'll have more on that when it's available for purchase.



the conscious scalpels

the conscious scalpels
doctors that cut viciously in the street
believing their moisture is glue
to stick themselves with washable options
places to cleanse their embattled drama once winter love
charisma exudes from their motion
but it itches their fast treading sun glare on skin
the knives get broken
by the pouring hail
the doctors drift into asylums of wonder
their winter love turns into fall
than finally a burst of paths, purples and mornings without nights
there on a wooden road
everything grows








Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan was born in Santa Monica and raised in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los angeles, earned an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow, and completed her M.A. in literature at the University of California at Berkeley. At the University of Houston she was a Cambor Fellow and earned a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing. She lives in Houston and is a full-time instructor at Houston Community College, Central Campus.

The two poems I've selected for this week are from her first book, Shadow Mountain, Winner of the Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry. The book was published by Four Way Books just this year.



The Day After

I saw him staring at me under the neighbor's parked car,
caught the blue tag dangling from his collar, light and shadow
flickering, his tongue grooming his paw, his tail swishing
its black and beige rings, as he licked each individual
claw clean, I saw him staring at me, his eyes narrowing,
oblivious to the spider near him, his amber-eyed
persistence following me over the speed bump, concrete
courtyard littered with acorns and withering crepe myrtle.
The look in his eyes said, Carpe Diem. Tabula Rasa.
I don't love you, I don't love you at all...I don't love you -

I want to erase, silence the words, the long vowels mouthed
that night. To think of tabula rasa, starting from scratch -
What an alluring thought to start life all over again:
nine lives and no loyalties.


Sonnet

It's a light gesture to meet for coffee, a big comfort
when the will aches in the wake of fall from the last lover,
and the mind ruminates over the eve of the breakup,
the eaves of wisteria trailing down the wet white wall,
an abandoned dove at a cold nest, dandelion globes,
frail globes blown apart without a chance for a late spring wish,
flood waters rising, as if the weather knows, wind knows each
broken window of the house, the aching will breaking free,
involuntarily, of wrought embellishments, the mind's
missing evening logic, the iron splinters festering.
The question of how to remove them, like the lover's last
words, incubating in the air with the ears that felt them
wrest inside the canals, as small daggers, scraping the wax,
filling he insides with flood waters - this absence, this lack.








Nothing like paying taxes to really screw up a day, especially if you sit down and think about what you're getting for your money.



tax day

we always owe
the government
money
so i always put off
the day of reckoning
until finally that day comes in July
when i can't put it off
any longer

today's
the day
so i've gathered everything
together
and called H&R Block
for an appointment

it's going to be bad

i know
it's going to be bad
because it always
is

i look
at the total
already withheld
and wonder
how many dead soldiers
i've bought so far
and how many more
they're going to want
before i'm
done








Jane Kenyon was born in 1947 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the midwest. She earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an M.A. in 1972. She won a Hopwood Award at Michigan. Also, while a student at the University of Michigan, Kenyon met the poet Donald Hall; though he was some nineteen years her senior, she married him in 1972, and they moved to Eagle Pond Farm, his ancestral home in Wilmot, New Hampshire. Kenyon was New Hampshire's poet laureate when she died in 1995 from leukemia.

The poem I'm using this week is from The Boat of Quiet Hours, the second of her four books, published by Greywolf Press of St. Paul in 1986. She also worked as a translator, including years she spent translating the poems of Anna Akhmatova from Russian into English (published as Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova, 1985).



Sun and Moon

   For Donald Clark

Drugged and Drowsy but not asleep
I heard my blind roommate's daughter
helping her with her meals:
"What's that? Squash?"
"No. It's Spinach."

Back from a brain-scan she dozed
to the sound of the Soaps; adultery,
amnesia, shady business deals,
and long, white hospital halls...
No separation between life and art.

I heard two nurses whispering:
Mr. Malcomson had died.
And hour later one of them came to say
that a private room was free.

A chill spring breeze
perturbed the plastic drape.
I lay back on the new bed,
and had a vision of souls
stacked up like pelts
under my soul, which was ill -
so heavy with grief
it kept the others from rising.

No varicolored tubes
serpentined beneath the covers;
I had the vital signs of a healthy,
early-middle-aged woman.
There was nothing to cut or dress,
remove or replace.

A week of stupor. Sun and moon
rose and set over the small enclosed
court, the trees...
The doctor's face appeared
and disappeared
over the foot of the bed. By slow degrees
the outlandish sadness waned.

restored to my living room
I looked at the tables, chairs and pictures
with something like delight,
only pale, faint - as from a great height.
I let the phone ring; the mail
accrued unopened
on the table in the hall.








I have a poem now by Beau Blue, but before doing that, I want to encourage you to click on Beau's link under the link listings on the right side of the page to go to his wonderful and entirely unique website, Blue's Cruzio Cafe.



    Quinn McMillan's Morning


            a string of blue

    Firing,
    barrels blazing,
    the shotgun's BOOM was heard
    all the way to Coldman's Mountain,
    his home.

    His home,
    her jewelry,
    his son, her son, his car,
    her car, but their daughter can't split
    in two.

    Into
    the vacuum came
    Quinn, and his darlin' smile,
    charmed the girl into a teenage
    joy ride.

    "Joy rides
    shotgun ev'ry
    where we go, you know, babe,
    'cause we're each other's 'lookout
    angels!'"

    "Angel,
    I won't con ya,"
    Quinn's arm curled around her,
    "we havta find a quiet place
    to sleep."

    To sleep?
    Perchance a dream?
    But this story doesn't
    end happily I'm afraid; preg-
    nancy!

    Nancy's
    dad left Coldman's
    Mountain with his shotgun
    and then he went to find cad Quinn,
    who died!








The next several pieces are by Rikki Ducornet from her thoroughly strange book The Cult of Seizure, published by The Porcupine's Quill, Inc. in 1989.

Ducornet, born Erica DeGre, was born in 1949 in Canton, New York is described as a postmodernist, writer, poet, and artist. Her father was a professor of sociology, and her mother hosted community-interest programs on radio and television. Ducornet grew up on the campus of Bard College in New York, earning a B.A. in Fine Arts from the same institution in 1964. In 1972 she moved to the Loire Valley in France. In 1988 she won a Bunting Institute fellowship at Radcliffe and in 1989 she moved back North America after accepting a teaching position in the English Department at The University of Denver. In 2007, she accepted a position as Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

It is suggested that she was the inspiration for the 1974 Steely Dan hit "Rikki Don't Lose That Number."

The Cult of Seizure was the last of her seven books of poetry. After that she turned her attention to prose, resulting in seven novels. The Cult of Seizures is a somewhat strange book, a narrative written in poetry and prose. I'm using the first several pieces in the book to give a sense of it.



1. Monkeywind

Erzsebet Bathory, the "Bloody Countess," was born in Hungary in 1560 and died in 1614, walled into her bed-chamber in the castle at Csejthe by order of the King. By the time she was brought to trial by her cousin Thurzo, she and her servants - the hag Jo Ilona and the gnome Ficzko - had murdered over 600 young women.

Between seizures, Erzsebet spent her time gazing at her reflection in a mirror. Her deadly narcissism was rooted in an overwhelming dread of decay. Her hags assured her that baths of fresh blood would keep her young; murder was her strategy for survival.

Her last victim, the fair Doricza, was discovered in Thurzo flayed alive the morning after the feast of Christmas.


Prologue

Havoc accelerates
And Time a sigh
Blowing through a hollow bone.
In the sky, the zodiac impaled
Petrifies.

This is not a celebration.
It is the sound the door makes when
The monkeywind of seizure
Shuts us in.


0 | A Wheel Of Eels

She slides from the womb
dragging cyclones, thumb-screws and sparks.
She snuggles beneath the caul with a rattlesnake
and snarling, barks.

The midwife sees the stellar eel
traced upon the infant's skull.
The thirteen puncture marks are peculiar.
The knotted cord tenses to strike her.

The midwife breaks out in hives
as wasps slam against the glass.
Cloaks and daggers!
She kisses a crucifix worried by weasels.

An achon - the first of seven -
holds the smoking candle.
The turquoise flame hisses and reels.

The midwife is drowned in a sack of stones.
Her bones agitate with eels.


1 | This House In Wolftime

This house in wolftime
an island inhabited by demons.
Not he, nor she, but it and it
that like the moon shed scales
causing things to decompose.

This is not the folly of wine
but the brine of Death.
Desperate coupling
of demons come unsexed.
And hit and hit
hard in mind.
And hearts adrift
in devil-rhyme.


2 | The Ugly Mazes

Infirmity circles the mountain.
In the air the wings of Grim
a clamour in the valley of Stealth.
Pin. Razor. Flame. Finger.
The clatter of butchery. Hunger.
The ugly mazes of mind and mirror.

Convulsed the countess chokes on breath
temple pierced by arrow, body by spire
and everywhere fire
and Death.

The Golem of her heart lisps: linger.








Every morning, my dog (Reba) and I take a walk around one of our local shopping centers. Reba gets her physical and intellectual (sniffing and smelling) exercise of the day while I'm waiting for Borders to open so I can start my day with a New York Times and a medium latte.

We were attacked a couple of mornings ago by an angry mockingbird, which led me to this thought.



there be monsters up there

shrieking
her best imitation
of a hawk's hungry cry,
she swoops repeatedly
at my head,
coming closer each time,
until we're passed whatever
she was protecting

what long ago
genetic memory
of an ancient predator
diving from the sky
causes the chill
that runs
down my back
at the attack
of this small
gray and white
mockingbird


Since that's a pretty short poem, here's another one, an observation from inside the coffee shop.


Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn,
i've named her
and i love
to watch
her talk -
American Sign
with flashing eyes
and Gwendolyn
body
english
that seems too involve
every
movable
part of her physical being

i have no idea
what she's talking about
as i watch her
across the coffee shop
but, by God,
it looks exciting








I haven't done anything from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry in a while, so this week I have several poems by several different poets.

The first poem is by Bucky Sinister. According to the "Bible," Sinister is "an underground youth cult hero and former host of the notorious Chameleon Club open reading (where medically uninsured nationally acclaimed poets from around the U.S. Swan dived from a high stage into empty beer mugs." He is the author of King of the Roadkills.



I Was With Her Long Enough To Change Brands of Cigarettes

We had split a bottle of wine and a pint of rum
before we went into the fair.
It started with a kiss on the ferris wheel.
I didn't know that actually happened until then.
One of my favorite days of all time....

Six months later
I gave her money that she referred to as "fetus money."
We were long over as a romantic couple.
That day she listed why she hated me.

I had told her that I was sorry and I said so again
but those words can't take away a clumsy fuck.

The way she talked to me
it sounded like her mistakes
never hurt anyone but herself.
My mistakes have bad aim
and always seem to hit those near me.

She looked so young
I felt so old
I had driven another away
or she'd changed
or vice versa
whatever it was
it was done
and I was tired of looking.


The next poem from the "Bible" is by Danny Shot. He is described, simply, as cofounder and editor of Long Shot.


The Living Legend

put his dick
on the table
in the bar
on Avenue B.

I was shocked,
until I saw
what an unobtrusive
penis he owned.

Then I wanted
to put my dick
on the table,
to show him
how a true poet
was hung.

But my wife
wouldn't let me.

I drank another
beer, fighting
the urge to
plunk down
my shlong on
the wooden table.

I can see it,
everyone silent,
all eyes upon me,
the only sound
in the universe
my drunken pecker,
sloshing around in
a puddle of beer
on the table
in the bar
on Avenue B.

Thrown out on
my soon to be
immortal ass
into the wet
darkness
of
a
drunken
night.


Next, a poem by Jack Wiler, briefly described as author of I Have No Clue.


It's About the End of the World Stupid

I always see the hills of Persia as brown and fading.
The processions winding through the streets of Moscow
The crack of gunfire in Sarajevo
The sound of Allen Ginsberg's voice
in the cobbled rooks of Prague.
I'm putting on the veil.
I'm remembering my place.
I'm thinking of jobs long neglected.
I'm watching for signs.
Fractals dancing in the hills.
Whirling
Sufis
Singing all the praises to the lord
Transfigured
melting

We've lit the last big Roman Candle
It's late on the Fourth of July
We're turning out the lights
Come inside while you still can.


And, finally, the poet Klipschutz, a San Francisco poet and songwriter for the Living Wrecks and author of Good Neighbor Policy.


america

I want all the women
all the money
and all the fun

I want every rainbow
all the marbles
and a personalized introduction to God

I want a death list
transparent skin
and a cat with no fur

I want everything
I have nothing
I will negotiate








Next we have Jane Roken, a friend we haven't seen in a while. Jane is Norwegian, living in Denmark, on the interface between the hedgerows and the barley fields. She has been writing poetry, on and off, since she was five, starting under the combined inspiration of the Salvation Army and Calypso music. Now sixty, she has been working in many different trades, but says she has not yet decided what she wants to be when she grows up.



Charming Old Garden Shed

I know. It looks like something
out of the eighteenth century.
But all it needs is a paint job.
No foul smells, no mouseshit,
no ghosts daydream off the walls,
no lost souls snivel under the roof,
no unsavoury shadows lurk; look,
not even spiders come in here.
Every corner is innocent
of broken pots and carrion-potatoes.
The door never squeaks
(except on Sundays), never jams
(except in gruff weather),
the window doesn't whistle,
ever; not even at Hallowe'en.
Only....just this one thing:
there is a secret trapdoor.
And now I.ll show you wha








I'm a late starter, but, since I got off the line, I've been eager to catch up and, with each new book I pick up at the second-hand book store, my knowledge of the vast variety of poetry available grows. Many time I make a happy find of a poet that makes we wish I had started looking much sooner.

One such poet is R.G. Vliet who I discovered for the first time when I picked up his book Water And Stone, published by Random House in 1980.

Vliet, a poet, novelist, playwright, and short story writer was born in Chicago, in 1929. His father was a Naval medical officer, and the family lived in many parts of the U.S., largely in the south, and in American Samoa. R.G. Vliet attended Central High School in Texas City, Texas, just south of Houston, and attended Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas. Vliet received his B.S. degrees in Education in 1952, and went on to complete his Master's at SWT with the thesis, "Experiment in lyric and dramatic verse,", in 1953. Vliet then taught English at several Texas high schools for several years.

In 1955, he went from teaching English to attending Yale University School of Drama, where he studied playwrighting with Robert Penn Warren and others. He left Yale to start his own writing career, which began with a string of award winning plays. In 1957, his play, The Arid Spell, won the Wisconsin Award. In 1959, his play, The Regions of Noon, was named Southeastern Theatre Conference New Play of the Year. In 1960, while working as a Ford Foundation Fellow, his play, Rockspring, won the University of Nebraska Award. This play would later be worked into Vliet's first novel of the same name. During this time, Vliet and his family lived in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Morelos, Mexico, traveling and relocating as his wife's college English teaching career, the family's financial mainstay, required.

In 1966, at the age of 37, Vliet published his first book of poetry, Events and Celebrations. His second book of poetry, The Man with the Black Mouth, was published in 1970. Each of these books of poetry won the Voertman Poetry Award from the Texas Institute of Letters.

From 1971 to 1982, Vliet wrote, and worked a small farm in Stamford, Vermont. He published his first novel, Rockspring, in 1974, at age 44, which sold only a few thousand copies. Despite the novel's relatively low sales, Rockspring earned Vliet $25,000 from the sale of movie rights to the work, the most money he would receive for any of his literary efforts. His 1977 novel, Solitudes, (later reprinted under the name Soledad ) won the Texas Institute of Letters Jesse Jones Award. At a time when large publishing houses rarely took on poetry, Random House published his next book of poetry, Water & Stone. In 1983, he won a literary fellowship which allowed him to spend six months writing at the late J. Frank Dobie’s ranch, Paisano. This brief period was essentially the only time Vliet spent in Texas after his schooldays and early teaching days. While there, he began writing what would be his last novel, Scorpio Rising,completing it just days before his death. This novel, set in both Massachusetts and Texas, is widely considered to be his best. Vliet died of lymphoma in Massachusetts, in 1984.

His poem.



To Die By Daylight

is the worst terror.
In the sanatorio the child
is held on the enameled
table. Nurses cut
the green wet gauze.
Me duele, me duele.
she cries in pulses
climactic, wellnigh sexual:
the putrefactic skin
hangs in rags. The doctor
sinks an injection in.
A senora bright-eyed
from fever, a campesino
with a broken foot wait
on a bench outside.
Sun lurches through a window.
Now it is quiet.
She lies
loose-necked, loose-limbed,
eyes part closed
as in death's noticias
while scissors trim.
Her breaths bubble.
I help the mother
to the market where
Nuestra Senora de Los Dolores
listens amongst candles.

Morir en el dia
es el miedo mas malo
.

Today she smiles,
little Aztec on her straw
petate, bright cloth
in her braids, washed face
and borrowed clothes
and sticks for dolls,
and what died yesterday
only she knows.








I'm very happy this week to have a visit from Teresa White.

I have been reading enjoying Teresa's work on the web just about as long as I've been posting myself. She is a Seattle native now living in Spokane, Washington. Her work has most recently appeared in Mannequin Envy, Eclectica, Stirring, and The Arabesque Review.. She is also been included in the anthology In the Arms of Words, Poems for Disaster Relief (Sherman Asher Publishng). Teresa has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her second full-length collection of poems was praised by Billy Collins when he said: "She is a poet who not just deserves but requires our attention." Titled Gardenias for a Beast. it is available online at Auntie's Books.



A Horse Opera in Three Acts

1.
The gun
would have won a beauty
contest under a big yellow tent
where every man flaunts
his tattoos and cash
and walks away in love
for the first time.

2.
The victim
would have bled
on the cold macadam
in the parking lot behind
the stadium. Suppose
time mattered or the color of hair,
such startled eyes.


3.
The bullet
would have fed
the air its hot slug
if the gun had not been locked
under box springs
in a jaundiced cigar box
with paper peeling from its stiff lid.








Now I have some travel prose from Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It's the second part of a two part piece titled Look Homeward, Jack: Two Correspondences from Ferlinghetti's book Wild Dreams of a New Beginning, first published as a a New Directions Paperbook in 1988.



Look Homeward, Jack: Two Correspondences

2.

In the Thomas Wolfe boardinghouse in Asheville...roooms he slept in...typewriter he once used...his books and clothes and photos...one early photo looking exactly like a young Jack Kerouac - set me musing, high on Mexican grass - Sweeping vision of America in Look Homeward, Angel, seen by the young Eugene Gat as he rode a train through the American dusk "to flash upon the window and be gone" - Wolfe's place, said Maxwell Perkins, was all America - So with Jack - Kerouac's vision a car vision, seen from Windows of old autos speeding cross-country - the same Wolfian old pre-War America, now all but gone, invisible, except in Greyhound bus stations in small lost towns....And Jack's Lowell, Mass...a mill town and Asherville like a mill town after the mills moved South early in the century, carrying Canuck ghost with them...Wolfe and Jack drinking together now in eternity...omniverous insatiable consumers of life, which consumed them both too early...Wolfe's stone angel skin to Jack's stone Stations of the Cross in Lowell graveyard, angels of mercy...Both never happy abroad, never happy expatriates - Wolfe drunk in Berlin, Jack stoned on a Mexican rooftop or staggering by the Seine...And which of them would know his brother?...Look Homeward, Jack.








Seems like a lot of death and dying in this issue. Maybe it's just because I'm tired of typing, but it seems that way.

Maybe this will pick things up, a light piece to end the week.



astronomical considerations

Mercury
was the Greek guy
with wings
on his feet,
right,
or, was he Roman,
i don't know much
about old Greeks and Romans
so i might be wrong

but whoever
he was
he was important enough
to get a nice car
and a planet named after him

the car's pretty much
a goner
and today's gas prices,
but i saw new pictures of the planet
in the newspaper today,
you know,
the one named after the Greek
or Roman guy with wings
on his feet (how the hell does
that work, seems to me he'd probably
fly upside down with wings on his feet)

not much
interesting in the pictures,
except for a huge volcano
and even that's been dead
for several gazillion
years
so the time for packing up
and heading for higher ground
is long gone

mainly
pretty boring pictures
when you get
right down to it

anyway
not much interested
in planets
named after Greek
or Roman guys with wings on their feet

now,
Pluto,
that's another story

he was a hell'uv a dog,
though i do think
with the whole big universe
out there
and new planets discovered every day
they ought to be able to find one
for Goofy,
too

only
seems fair








Another week ends, bringing us well into July and another week closer to the end of summer, something that, while I know it makes many sad, still makes me very happy. I'm just not a summer sunshine guy.

An interesting discussion ensued elsewhere. A couple of poets took me to task, saying they found it very unseemly that I would include my own work here on "Here and Now" side by side with the masters. As I understand their concerns were two, first, by putting a piece of mine next to a piece by, for example, Robert Frost, I am disrespecting him, and, second, by doing so I was also engaged in blatant self-promotion.

As to the second charge, I don't know that I would call it blatant, but I have to admit it is a fact I would not be unhappy if readers of "Here and Now" happen to click the link at the top of the page and slip over to the main 7beats website where they might notice that I have a book for sale. And I would certainly not be unhappy of they were to actually buy a book, if for no other reason than that I need the closet space.
Regarding their first bone of contention, I don't understand it. I see everyone attempting to engage in any creative activity as members of a common clan. To my mind, everyone in the clan is trying to do the same thing, the only difference between them being some are better at it than others. I see all persons similarly engaged as me as brothers and sisters in a common effort; many or most may be better than me, but none superior for it. We all come to dinner at the same family table and no one gets voted off the island.

Maybe I'm just not sufficiently serious about this whole poetry thing, for their taste. Anyway, I'm going to continue to do what I do, which includes not taking myself too seriously, as long as I find it entertaining.

While I continue to amuse myself, you should remember that all of the material presented on this blog remains the property of its creators. The blog, on the other hand, was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.

1 Comments:
at 3:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allen,
I figure if it is your blog you can post anything you want. Personally I think you write some pretty good stuff. If some of the so called "masters" had not had their stuff published and read they would not have taken their place among the masters. Hope you told them to "get a life", to start writing, and hope you will publish their stuff. I am pleased that you haunt the thrift and used book stores to find poets that may not be masters but are fortune enough to have blogs like yours that are willing to present samples of their work. These folks wrote because they has something to say and it is important that it be read.

Keep up the good work!

John Strieb
San Antonio, Texas

Post a Comment



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