Power to the Purple   Friday, September 19, 2008


III.9.3.




Here's who I have for you this week.

From my library:

Guillaume Apollinaire
Kenneth W. Brewer
Lyn Lifshin
Jane Taylor
Robin Britton
Jill Wiggins
Jennifer Cardenas
Chip Dameron
Walt Whitman
Robert Wrigley

From our friends:

Mick Moss
Robert McManes
Alice Folkart

And me.








Two of my favorite discoveries since I started "Here and Now" are Blaize Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaire. Both were French by choice, both suffered serious injury during World War I, both were avant garde poets of the very early twentieth century, both were world travelers and both wrote a very easy-going and naturalistic, observational poetry that I like to read and try to write.

Born in 1880 as Wilhelm Albert Vladimir Apollinaris Kostrowitzky and raised speaking French, among other languages, he emigrated to France and adopted the name Guillaume Apollinaire. His mother was a Polish noblewoman and his father, though never official identified, is thought to have been a Swiss Italian aristocrat who disappeared early from Apollinaire's life. He was partly educated in Monaco.

Apollinaire was one of the most popular members of the artistic community in Paris. His friends and collaborators during that period included Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Max Jacob, Andre Salmon, Marie Laurencin, Andre Breton, Andre Derain, Faik Konica, Blaise Cendrars, Pierre Reverdy, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Ossip Zadkine, Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp. In 1911, he joined the Puteaux Group, a branch of the cubist movement and coined the word surrealism.

In in 1916, while fighting in the war, he received a serious shrapnel wound to the head. He died two years later at the age of 38 of the Spanish flu during the pandemic.

Here are several of his shorter poems from the collection Poems by Guillaume Apollinaire, published by Wesleyan University Press in 1995. The poems are translated from the original French by Donald Revell.



Annie

On the coast of Texas
Between Mobile and Galveston there is
A big garden filled with roses
There is also a mansion
It is one big rose

A woman walks there often
Alone in the garden
When I cross the lime-tree road
We are face to face

Because she is Mennonite
Her roses and her clothing have no buttons
My jacket is missing two buttons
The lady and I are almost one religion


Clotilde

Anemone and columbine
Where gloom has lain
Opened in gardens
Between love and disdain

Made somber by the sun
Our shadows meet
Until the sun
Is squandered by night

Gods of living water
Let down their hair
and now you must follow
A craving for shadows


Marizibill

On high street in Cologne
She came and went all night
Whoring her tiny her pretty
Bored in streetlight
Drunk in cellars

Rescued in shanghai
En route from formosa
Apprenticed to poverty
For love of a pimp
Who stank of garlic

I've known all kinds of people
Unequal to their fates
Uncertain as the fallen leaves
Eyes like dampened fires
Hearts like gaping doors


Marie

      Little girl you danced there
      Will you dance there old
      The hop and the skip there
      All the bells will be ringing
      Marie but when do you come home

      The masks are silent
      And the music is far
      Almost far as the sky
I want to love you but only scarcely
      the pain is wonderful

      The sheep are gone into the snow
      Flakes of wool and tufts of money
      Soldiers go by and if only I
      Had a changing heart of my own
      Changing, but I know nothing

      Do I know where you hair absconds
      Frizzy as the foaming sea
      Or the fallen leaves of your hands
      In autumn strewn with vows

      I used to walk by the river
      An old book under my arm
      The river is the same as pain
      It elapses mindlessly
      And when will be week be over








Woke up last Sunday morning feeling really lousy, which led to this.



the future came at 6:30 this morning

woke up this
morning
feeling like
i had the kind
of zombie-maker
hangover that led me
to quit drinking
mostly
30 years ago

bloated
stomach blocked
from too much
chile con queso
and bean and cheese
nachos two nights
in a row
and i didn't take
the muscle relaxers
(hate relying on those things)
last night before bed
so my back hurts
and my hips
and my knees
and i'm shuffling
around, taking tiny
little steps
saying
ouwi, ouwi, ouwi
with every one
of them,
promising myself
that whatever i did
to feel this way
i'm never going
to do again

so i limped
over to Jim's
for morning coffee
and a few minutes
alone with the Express-News
and i read the front section,
about the hurricane
about the latest dirt
on that Palin woman
and the three hundred year-old
oaks
the developer bulldozed
before
the
city could get a cease
and desist order
and the two cops
who got shot
responding
to a domestic disturbance
call
then i went to the metro section
and got the local news and the paper's
regular cockamamie right-wing
columnists and finally, before
the comics, to two pages of
obituaries,
all the pictures looking back
at me of smiling people who didn't know
they're dead yet,
and i do my normal score
keeping
count,
all those born
before 1944 on one side
and all those born
in or after 1944
on the other side
and jeeezus
it's another of those days
when the 1944 and later stack
is larger than the pre-1944 stack,
and, not just a a little larger, but hugely
larger, the stack of gone-and-soon-forgottens
my age or younger twice as tall
as the old farts who'd done their time
and moved on
and i'm thinking, holy cow,
maybe today isn't an exception
at all
but the way old people
feel every day
and the way i'm going to feel
every morning
starting now and
until the end of time or
until i die, which,
if you get right down to it
is the same thing
as far as i'm concerned.








My next poem is by Kenneth W. Brewer from his book sum of accidents published by City Art of Salt Lake City in 2003.

Brewer, Poet Laureate of the State of Utah, received his doctorate of creative writing at the University of Utah in 1973. He retired from Utah State University after 32 years as a teacher of writing.

Brewer died in 2006, three years after publication of this book.



Hunter's Vision

Teal and mallard
spiraled through snow
to his call, some
splashing dead in the Bear.

They simply appeared,
green heads or green-
feathered wings suddenly
in his sights.

He watched his son
shoot a teal - their
first hunt together.

And the lost years

flew at him like
a feathered sorrow
suddenly vividly, suddenly
green with wings

beating his heart.
Then he shot a mallard
and watched his son
walk through the shallow Bear,

splashing water
like beads of time.
He noticed flakes of snow
dissolve in the river.

Half a century old, he
wished to go back,
to untie the knots
of all his decisions.

He wished to call
his son's life back
to live that childhood
together, buddies

as they are now.
But nothing can go back.
He calls his son
disappearing in the heavy snow.

He calls,
and calls,
and calls,
and calls.








My next piece is a present-meets-the past type from "Here and Now" friend Mick Moss. Mick is a 54 year old poet from Liverpool England whose poems have appeared here several times.



Bargain

Crossing the old border for the first time
without Charlie checking my points
or the Stasi giving the once over, at least twice
I walked through the Brandenburg gate
and felt the weight of history
that wore these flagstones smooth
the ebb and flow of shiny boots
marching along Unter den Linden
from Paris to Moscow
and back
the only army now
a rag tag band of displaced persons
scraping a living, from misplaced Russian gear
in reclaimed no man's land

Dollars? - he asked
Deutschmarks - I said handing them over
and waited for change that never came
the hat didn't fit
but I considered it a bargain

1994








My next several poems are from Spillway, the Spring/Summer 1999 edition published by Tebot Bach of Huntington Beach, California.

The first of the several poems is by Lyn Lifshin, a widely published teacher of poetry and prose. The series from which this poem was written was based on a National Geographic exhibit of the Peruvian Ice Mummy..

Lifshin was born in 1942 and is a Vermont native. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in English from Syracuse University and a Master's Degree in English from the University of Vermont. She also studied at Brandeis University.

Lifshin is a very prolific write with over a 120 books and chapbooks published. She has also edited four anthologies and was the subject of the award winning documentary film, Not Made of Glass. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and cultural publications, including The American Scholar, Christian Science Monitor, Ploughshares, and Rolling Stone Magazine.



The Ice Maiden Mummy's 24th S.O.S.

Some small girls write
me notes, shove them
under the base of this
glass case. I'm caught
in. The gifts of a
barrette, a ribbon
from their own hair,
still warm. They say
they love my long black
hair, could imagine me
as a ballerina. These
are the gifts I still
adore, their smiles
and sweet breath, as
innocent as I was. As
for jewelry, fine
clothes, please, leave
them for others. I
was given many gifts
I couldn't use, gold -
they pretended I'd need
them for my "journey,"
as much a lie as the
words exchanged by
lovers they might think
they mean, kneeling
under a canopy as if
planting a garden they
will still be together
to see bloom


The Ice Maiden Mummy's 77th S.O.S.

it's not the sun that
I missed, or wanted
to bathe me when I
left what I thought
would be my last room
in the earth. That
heat pleated what was
exposed, turned what
the dark held so well
leathery. No, it was
the moon I wanted to
wash over me, silver
and pale, camouflaging
my scars and wrinkles
cool and like an opal,
mysterious enough to
make of what shimmers
whatever I need.



The next poem from Stillway is by Jane Taylor.

There is a poet by the name of Jane Taylor from the 19th century, but I can't find anything on this Jane Taylor.

I suspect an error in the book. The poem is credited to Jane Taylor, but there is no one by that name included in the poets' biographies included in the book. Included in the biographies is one for June Vincent Taylor, who, so far as I can tell, doesn't have a poem in the book.

So maybe this poem is by June Vincent Taylor and the poet's name is wrong on the poem or maybe the poem is by Jane Taylor and they neglected to include a bio.

Whichever is the case, one thing is certain - someone, maybe June, maybe Jane, maybe both, wrote a fine poem.

(Makes me feel better about the typos in my own book. At least I got my name right.)



Chimney Rock

The way three women stand
beyond the canyon
in the dark morning
and decide to climb

boot on pediment
shale & siltstone,

the way the valley rises
under the sun's own
rising

and breathing
beats low
the drumskin lungs

three ways.
One path.

Walking sticks
click on clay.
At the mesa top

Chinle lightens
yellow & orange.

Below, adobe,
the famous painter's house
still holds

the cool night
in its windows.
Abiquiu's wanter makes a mirror.

the way three women
quiet under whistle
of finch and magpie
call. the way we carry
water, apple, bread
and the way descent
comes easier,

is the way I want to live.








Hurricanes are a strange kind of disaster. You can see them coming for days, but you can't know for sure where they're going until the last couple of hours.

I wrote this piece a week and a half ago, when it looked like hurricane Ike had drawn a bead on Corpus Christi on the coast, with a course that went inland and directly over San Antonio. In the end, of course, it didn't do that, picking Galveston, Houston and the surrounding area as its target.



trying not to think about politics

trying
not to think
about politics -
end up thinking
about hurricanes
instead

Ike
this time,
just off Cuba,
with a track now
that looks like landfall
between
Riviera Beach
just south of Corpus Christi
and Fulton Beach
just north,
the coastline minimally protected
from this point
all the way south
by Padre Island, a
barrier island
way more developed
than seems reasonable
for a long sandbar
barely above sea level
even at low tide

and from the coast itself,
the coastal plains,
not much higher, old timers
still telling stories
of people washed 30 miles
inland by the tidal surge
during the last "big one"
early in the last century

this one looks
likely to cross the coast
about 8 o'clock Saturday morning
so the race now will have begun
to get the plywood
for boarding up
before it all gets bought up

my house in Corpus Christi
had removable shutters
but i never
figured out how to put them up
so through two storms
i nailed plywood
along with everyone else

so while part of the family
is out chasing plywood
the other part is at the store
buying up batteries, gas for
the car, kerosene for storm lamps
and a fresh bottle of propane
for the grill, as well as sacks
of groceries, non-perishables
that won't spoil when here's no
refrigeration
and it's 100 degrees
inside and out
and 90 percent humidity

for those planning to leave,
many who can
are taking off early, before
all the roads out of the coast
turn into parking lots
creeping north and west
at 5 miles per hour,
city to city trips that normally
take two hours
turning into all-day marathons

meanwhile,
if the current course is kept,
the storm will pass over San Antonio
sometime Saturday night,
just as it is weakening from a
category 1 hurricane
to a stronger than usual
tropical storm,
wind
and heavy rain
sweeping across the hill country,
those on top of the hills
watching
for tornados
while those down slope
prepare for flash flooding
as little dry creeks
take on torrents of water
rushing down stream
with incredible speed and power,
pushing everything aside,
rising 8 to 10 feet over
low water crossings faster
than you can ever believe possible

that's how people die
in rainstorms here, driving
on streets just blocks from their
homes, trying to drive over
a dry creek crossing
they've crossed a thousand times,
a crossing that becomes
in the rain
a river of mud and debris
before they can get
from one side to the other,
passing through and leaving
as quickly as it came,
draining from the hills
into the river systems
that flow east, into flatter land
where water does not drain
so fast, where it flows over
river banks and onto farms
and into towns
and where it stays








My next several poems are from Feeding the Crow, and anthology edited by Susan Bright and published by Plain View Press of Austin, Texas in 1998.

The first of the poems is by Robin Britton.

Britton works for a child care center for teenage parents who attend an alternate, charter school. Her poetry has been published in a series of small hand-made books titled Wake Up Calls and in Poetography I&II, and Diverse City.



Full Moon Ceremony

We ditched our suits.
Slid into the icy water.
Melted Ice.

Howling like wolves,
gliding like otters
down stream to catch the
      light of the moon
      imprinted upon the water
Swimming circles in this reflection.
Splashing upon black velvet
      adorned with gold.
I'm fifty-five.
She's sixty-five.
Harriet's seventy-five.
We are too old to be
      having this much fun.



The next poem in the book is by Jill Wiggins.

Wiggins has a degree in art from St. Edward's University in Austin and works as a writer and graphic designer. Her poetry has appeared in Poetography, Diverse City, and Patchwork. She also has a chapbook titled Lemon Curd and Other Poems.



The Light in Our House

I love the way
      the sun rises in our kitchen window
      catches in a crystal prism
      scatters rainbows on the floor,
      the stove and counters
      even sometimes in the freezer.

      I love the way
      leaves of the ash tree in front
      break up the light
      that falls dappled
      on our bed
      in the afternoon.

I love the way
      the hillside behind the back bedroom
      glows golden-green
      in evening light
      an occasional cardinal flashing in the warming sun.

I love the way
      sunset fills the living room window
      with peaches, purples, pinks
      before we close the blinds
      to shut out the night



Next, from the book, I have this poem by Jennifer Cardenas.

Cardenas is the third of six children and a graduate of Edgewood, ISD in San Antonio, subject of the Edgewood v. Kirby, 1989 Texas Supreme Court case which led to improvement in the equitable funding of rich and poor school districts across the state.

At the time of this publication, she was a member of Yoniverse, an all-woman performance poetry ensemble, living and working in Austin while attending the University of Texas.



"Popular Science," Nov. 1996

You sneeze without covering your mouth,
shooting some five thousand moisture droplets
on my arm.

I blink in astonishment,
upset that your mocos are still landing
some twelve feet away,
and that I have surpassed the scientific amount
of one blink per five seconds.

You smile, using only seventeen muscles.

I'm pissed off.
You sneezed,
caused me to blink,
and now I must use forty-three muscles to show my disgust.

The only thing preventing me
from smacking you on the head is pity,
pity that you only have ninety thousand hairs on your head
while I have one hundred-fifteen thousand on mine.








Now I have two poem from Robert McManes, a friend of "Here and Now" readers here have seen often.



obscene phone call

The heavy breather called again;
he wants a poem.
I recite Frost's "The Road Not Taken".
The breathing grows louder.
Next, a few lines from Poe's "The Raven".
The breathing becomes faster.
I read a poem from Collins' "Nine Horses" book.
He sounds like a freight train
barreling down the tracks,
chug-a-chug-a, toot-toot.
I thought,
the timing is right
start on a poem of mine
and "click" he's gone.
Everybody's a critic.


a street named desire

the headlines read
bearded man dies of clap
he didn't know
street sex could kill

red light, green light

meanwhile on the corner
the brightly painted lady
reels in her nightly fish
while others swim by
pretending not to notice

twenty bucks a throw

down the street
a bus screeches to a stop
Brando falls on his knees
and shouts to the stars

all in a row

the streets can't hear
no matter how loud
the fish schools swims by
desire is a short ride

cash only
no credit cards








The next poem is by Chip Dameron, from his book Hook & Bloodline published by Wings Press of San Antonio in 2000.

Dameron is the author of two other previously published poetry collections In the magnetic Arena and Night Spiders, Morning Milk, Definition of Hours and one subsequent collection, also from Wings Press, Tropical Green.

As editor of Thicket, an Austin-based literary magazine, he was an important figure in the early years of Texas small-press development. He lives in Brownsville, Texas, where he teaches writing and literature at the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.

This is the title poem of the book.



Hook and Bloodline

            Knee deep
in south Bay, spinning out
an artificial shrimp
to hook a speckled trout
or drum, you watch the gulls,
fixed on fish, dive
like newsreel Zeros at dusk,
smacking the air with their
wallops, each white bird
rising from the froth
of an airplane's fatal
plunge, another sea
and forty years away,
still potent.
            All night long
the ships rolled to port
and starboard, the men
banked into bunks, dreaming
of women and death,
no convoy safe in the zone
of paranoia, the deep
as cunning as the sky.
On watch, the loudspeaker's
squawk as close as humid air,
the men calmed their coffee
with whispers and waited out
the worst.
            Elsewhere
a city bloomed and withered
in a moment, the sky as bold
as love, the wind more violent
than any lust. Flesh fell off.
Things writhed in their wombs.
Days later, another dose
of the same.
            When the sailors
came back, fit and unfearful
their salty tongues as quick
to snatch at sweetness
as a snake's, the cries
in the darkness were most
of what hammered, some nights
never long enough. By day,
life became suburban,
televised, circumnavigated
by kids.
            Now, far from home
and childhood, flounder gig
at ready in the hissing
lantern light, you slog
along the shallows, looking
for the dark shapes that hover
by the bottom, stunning them
by spear, taking the firm
white flesh for yourself,
the heat of the fire
searing in a truth
that you taste each time
you chew with the teeth
of your faceless godparents,
whose vapors still hang
in the air.








This next thing is a long piece I did last week, telling a long story that finishes in the end with a point that bothers me more and more.



threads

many years ago
i served
for a year
in Pakistan,
on the northwestern
frontier,
that part of the
country
that nowadays
is mostly thought of
as Osamaland

part of a little
American
military enclave
on the desert edge
between
Peshawar and
tribal lands,
the Hindu Kush
shimmering like smoke
in the distance

the folks on either side
didn't like us then
either
but they were still
more interested
in killing each other
than killing us

for an American
with even a little money,
which described
most of us posted
there,
beautiful brass work
could be bought
cheap,
as well as wood work,
and tailored suits
of the finest silk
brought directly
from China
through the Kyber Pass
in the mountains
we could see in the
distance

you could buy
several thousand dollars
worth of silk suits
for a hundred, two hundred dollars,
tailored
to fit from pictures
you brought to the tailor
from magazines

take your
Seville Row ad from
Esquire
to the tailor and two
weeks later
you'd have a perfect fit
Seville Row
knockoff

there was a warning
though
coming back
from the States
and those who had
purchased their
several thousand dollars
worth of suits
before shipping home

as fine as the silk
was, the cotton thread
that sewed it all together
was poor grade, tending
to rot and break
and the only solution
was to dismantle the suit
and have it completely re-
sewn, making the suits
not quite as good a deal
as they had first appeared

i was thinking about this
this morning, thinking
about the threads that
hold together the shinning
modern
surface of our national life,
the threads of honor and
truth
and respect
that give us purpose
and confidence,
and how those threads
seem under strain today
from the rot of lies
and double-dealing
and casual, conscience-free
exploitation
in every aspect of our life,
from commerce
to religion
to politics and culture -

we must believe
in ourselves
and our neighbors
and countrymen
in times like this and
the threads
that stitch together
that belief
seem less and less
secure








From American Poetry's own Father, Godfather and Saint, Walt Whitman, here is a selection from Song of Myself.



Song of Myself

24


Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and
   breeding,
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women
   or apart from them,
No more modest than immodest.
Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
Whoever degrades another degrades me.
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through
   me the current and index.

I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of
   democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have
   their counterpart of on the same terms.

Through me many long dumb voices,
Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and
   slaves,
Voices of the diseas'd and despairing and thieves
   and dwarfs,
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of the threads that connect the stars, and of
   wombs and of the father-stuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down upon,
Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove
   the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth.
I keep as delicate around the bowels as through the
   head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and
   tag of me is a miracle.
Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever
   I touch and am touch'd from,
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles and all the
   creeds.

If I worship one thing more than another it shall be
   the spread of my own body, or any part of it,
Translucent mould of me it shall be you!
Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you!
Firm masculine colter it shall be you
Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you!
You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings
   of my life!
Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you!
My brain it shall be your occult convolutions!
Root of wash'ed sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest
   of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!
Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be
   you!
Trickling sap of maple, fiber of manly wheat, it shall
   be you!

Sun so generous it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you!
You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it
   shall be you!
Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving
   lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have
   ever touch'd, it shall be you.

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so
   luscious,
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with
   joy,
I cannot tell how my ankles bend, not whence the
   cause of my faintest wish,
Not the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause
   of the friendships I take again.

That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it
   really be,
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than
   the metaphysics of books.

To behold the day-break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous
   shadows,
The air tastes good to my palate.

Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently
   rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.

Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs,
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
The earth by sky staid with, the daily close of their
   junction,
The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over
   my head,
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be
   master!


25

Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would
   kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.

We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun,
We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of
   the daybreak

My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach,
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and
   volumes of worlds.

Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to
   measure itself,
It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically,
Walt you contain enough, why don't you let it out then

Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too
   much of articulation,
Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you
   are folded?
Waiting in gloom, protected by frost,
The dirt receding before my prophetical screams,
I underlying causes to balance them at last,
My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the
   meaning of all things,
Happiness (which whoever hears me let him or her
   set out in search of this day.)

My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me
   what I really am,
Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me,
I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking
   toward you.

Writing and talk do not prove me,
I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my
   face,
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the
   skeptic.



(It's happened again - I start out to do a little piece of Whitman and end up doing twice as much as I planned. Once rolling with Walt, it's very hard to stop.)








Thursday a week ago was the seventh annual commemoration of the 9/11 attack on the United States of America.

Both our very good friend Alice Folkart and I wrote poems that day, commenting, not so much on the attack itself, but on the way we continue to mourn it seven years after the event.

We took different approaches and I thought it might be interesting to read the two poems together.

First, this is Alice's poem.



It Has All Happened Before

I should write about those people
falling through the flames,
talking on their cell phones,
trying to sprout wings or at least
get their feet ready to walk on water,
but I don't want to. I don't want to remember.

I should be able to write without crying,
keep the keyboard dry and wonder why
I am here and they are gone,
they, the living, then the dying,
and the world goes on and on and on,
all unimaginable, no flying to the sun on wings of wax.

It seems self-centered to start a poem like this
with "I," who should at least be part ghost by now,
"my" feelings, the wheelings and dealings
that have spun away from that terrible day,
flaming tower, falling souls not yet taken up by heaven,
the leaven of the bread of life.

There is power in the past.
It has all happened before.



And, now, here is mine, likely to raise some hackles.



9/11

with due respect
to those who actually
suffered,
it is time to end all this
national
wallowing in self-pity
and victimhood
every September 11th

no more
of that, i say, until
we can put Bin Laden's
head
on a stick
in the middle of ground
zero

until then,
let's turn our national
days of mourning
to those millions of
innocents,
including our own,
on the other side
of the ocean
killed, maimed, displaced,
tortured
and terrorized
in the name of 9/11
and mis-directed
rage

our sin
does not nearly equal
the sins
of those who attacked us,
but it is our sin
nevertheless,
and like all our sins,
should be recognized
and mourned
for the sake of the sinned-upon
and the sinners as well








Do dogs have nightmares, I wonder. If so, this might be one of their regulars.

The poem is from 180 More Extraordinary Poems For Every Day, selected by Billy Collins and published by Random House in 2005.

The poet is Robert Wrigley.

According to an excellent paper (from which I quote extensively) on the web by Kevin Schmall, a student in Advanced English III at Emmett High School in Idaho, Wrigley was born in Illinois in 1951. He served briefly in the US Army until honorably discharged as a conscientious objector.

He went to college at Southern Illinois University and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelors degree in English Language and Literature. In 1976, he earned a MFA in Poetry at the University of Montana

He began his career as a teacher in 1977 at Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. As Professor of English. Wrigley taught at Boise State University's Summer Writers Workshop in 1988. In 1989 and 1990, he went east to Swannonoa, North Carolina, to teach in the poetry-enriched MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. In 1990 and 1991, he was the Acting Director and Visiting Professor of the MFA Program at the University of Oregon. At Montana University, Wrigley has twice held the distinguished Richard Hugo Chair in Poetry as the Richard Hugo Distinguished Poet-in-Residence. He is the only writer to hold it twice and the first former student to hold the chair, which he held in the years of 1990 and 1995. For the years 1993 through 1999, Wrigley has appeared at the Idaho Readers' and Writers' Rendezvous. In 1993, he was the visiting professor of the Grace Nixon Summer Seminars at the University of Idaho. Wrigley joined the University of Idaho Graduate English Department staff in 1999, after spending twenty-two years as a professor at Lewis and Clark State College. At the University of Idaho, he currently teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.



Do You Love Me?

She's twelve and she's asking the dog,
who does, but who speaks
in tongues, whose feints and gyrations
are themselves parts of speech.

They're on the back porch
and I don't really mean to be taking this in
but once I've heard I can't stop listening. Again
and again she asks, and the good dog

sits and wiggles, leaps and licks.
Imagine never asking. Imagine why:
so sure you wouldn't dare, or couldn't care
less. I wonder if the dog's guileless brown eyes

can lie, if the perfect canine lack of abstractions
might not be a bit like the picture books
she "read" as a child, before her parents' lips
shaped the daily miracle of speech

and kisses, and the words were not lead
and weighted by air, and did not mean
so meanly. "Do you love me?" she says
and says, until the dog, sensing perhaps
its own awful speechlessness, tries to bolt,
but she holds it by the collar and will not
let go, until, having come closer,
I hear the rest of it. I hear it all.

She's got the dog's furry jowls in her hands,
she's speaking precisely
into its laid-back quivering ears:
"Say it," she hisses, "say it to me."








And, speaking of dogs, there's this I did this week.



moral lessons

two dogs
live
at my house
and a calico cat
who watches us all
with casual condescension

one of the dogs is large
and furry;
the other small, with
short hair

the small one was
an off-the-streets rescue
who must have spent many
hungry days
and cannot forget them -
the minute
you put food in front of her
she tries to gobble it all up
at once,
before anyone can take it away,
stuffing food into her mouth
until there is no more room for even
the tiniest portion of Purina chow,
then she runs off with
pouchy
chipmunk cheeks
to some secret corner where
she spits it all out and eats it bit by bit

the large dog
watches all this with grand motherly
tolerance
until she decides enough is enough
and picks up the plate
with her teeth
and carries it off

of course,
when she does that,
the plate tips to one side
and all the food falls off,
but she doesn't seem to care,
licking the empty plate
clean and
leaving the fallen food
for the small dog

i think she thinks it's
the principle
of the thing, trying
to teach a moral lesson
on the limits of greed
to the small dog
who really doesn't care crap
about moral lessons
as long as she gets to eat
everything

i also think,
moral lessons aside,
that the large dog,
knows i'm going
let her into the house,
where the small dog is not
allowed to go,
and give her a plate
of her own food
that she'll be able to eat
alone
in the privacy
of her own kitchen








Before I close out the day, I want to leave you with the latest in history, reported by high school and college students throughout the United States in class essays and brought to a wider appreciation by the book Ignorance Is Blitz. I had lost the book, then found it again this week after cleaning of the paper piles off my very messy desk.

The historical period we study today is the Renaissance.


"Machiavelli, who was often unemployed, wrote The Prince to get a job with Richard Nixon."


"This was the beginning of Empire when Europeans felt the need to reach out and smack someone."


"Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Granola, a part of Spain now known as Mexico and the Gulf States."


"Dick Cavett was the first European to visit Newfoundland."


"The angry Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theocrats to a church door."


"John Huss refused to decant his ideas about the church and was therefore burned as a steak."


Ain't historical perspective grand? I guess we all just do the best we can.

And now, as you ponder thesee latest historical insights, remember that all 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.

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