Booga Booga II: The Sequel   Friday, October 31, 2008


III.10.5.




Before we begin, here's a little note for San Antonio readers.

I'll be showing some more of my photos, this time at Casa Chiapas on South Alamo, halfway down the block from Rosarios on the corner of South Alamo and St. Marys. The photos will be up during November, beginning next week in time for First Friday.

I don't make any kind of a claim as a photographer. My sole talent is in knowing a good picture when I see it. If the automatic button on my digital camera can capture that picture, then I'm in business. If the automatic button can't do it, neither can I.

The photos I'm showing are from the "Picking Rorschach Daisies" issue of a several months ago.

So, back to poetry, this is what I have this week.

From my library

Jean Janzen
Yorifumi Yaguchi
David Waltner-Toews
Charles Bukowski
Jane Hirshfield
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Alice Walker
Ben Jonson
Bob Dylan
Allen Ginsberg
Gofffried Benn
Paul Durcan
David Meltzer

From friends of "Here and Now"

Alex Stolis
Rodney Eisenbrandt
Walter Durk
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Ratava

And me.








My first three poems this week are from the book Three Mennonite Poets published in 1986 by Good Books of Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

The first of the three poets is Jean Janzen.

Born in 1933 in Saskatchewan, Canada, Janzen was the seventh child in a family of eight. Her school years were spent in Minnesota and Kansas, where the family moved after her father gave up teaching to become a pastor.

She graduated from Fresno Pacific College with a BA in English and received her Masters in English Creative Writing from California State University - Fresno.

Her first collection of poetry was published in 1984. She has also appeared in numerous literary and religious journals and anthologies.

At the time this book was published, Janzen lived in California where she taught piano and was a minister of worship at the College Community Mennonite Brethren Church in Clovis.



Where the Wheat Sways

Around us the summer air
burns and blows so that
where we once stood and kissed

there is no memorial of place.
No one will remember.
Your mother, bent by a tumor

has lain down under this wind.
Old angers live on
like barbed wire holding up

fenceposts, and larks return
to proclaim their territory,
but our moment refuses

to stand up. Who will ever know
that I first saw you in a doorway
surrounded by morning light

here in this spot where the wheat
sways to our hips, where we are
trampling the stalks

which, after we go, will slowly
rise up like witnesses
and fill the space.



The second poet from Three Mennonite Poets is Yorifumi Yaguchi.

Yaguchi was born in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Perfectrue, Japan in 1932. He graduated from Tohoku Gaguin University with a B.A. in English, then from International Christian University with an M.A. in Education and Goshen Biblical Seminary with a B.D. in Theology.

He spent a year as American Council of Learned Societies Visiting Scholar at State University of New York in Buffalo and later taught a semester at Shenyang, China. At the time the book was published, he was professor of American Poetry at Hokusei Gakuen College.

Yaguchi writes poetry in both English and Japanese and has published collections of his work in both languages. He is also lay pastor of the Shalom Mennonite Church.



Silence

in a far
place
i do not even know
a
leaf
falling down
like a silence
on the mirror
of a lake
making few
wavelets
hardly seen
ah
that sound
disturbs
my silence
like the explosion
of a
temple bell


A Woman

naked
is lying
deep
in the grass
on a mountain
with the red
full
moon
between her
thighs


A

drop
from the moon...
and the end-
less
spreading a-
cross the pond...
faintly shaking the
waterlilies
one
after another



And the third poet from the book Three Mennonite Poets is David Waltner-Toews, a Canadian born to Russian Mennonite parents in 1948. Educated first as a writer, then as a veterinarian and finally as an epidemiologist, at the time the book was published, Toews was working as veterinary epidemiologist in Indonesia. His poetry has frequently appeared in Canadian, British and the American journals and anthologies.



The Peace Poem

The basis for negotiation is slaughter
Animists have slaughtered atheists have
slaughtered Christians have
slaughtered Muslims have
slaughtered B'hai's Catholics have
slaughtered Lutherans Calvinists have
slaughtered Mennonites Communists have
slaughtered Capitalists have Jews Arabs have
slaughtered in person by proxy you have
slaughtered      Yes deep in your heart
if it was not Stalin not Hitler at the very least
you would have throttled the neighbor
whose dog crapped on your lawn
Pacify eliminate put to sleep do away with keep the peace
police capitally punish normalize protect save carry out justice -
these are the words we use to justify
to eulogize our slaughter
these are the strategies of hate
the lies from which
we make ourselves
the only true basis for negotiation
is not righteousness is not strength
is nothing but the slaughter we so euphemize
On our knees let us join
our bloody hands








I was having some difficulty sleeping a couple of weeks ago, so I set down at the computer and kinda went random.



coins rolling on the floor at midnight

i do
dumbass
things sometimes
trying
to get back
where
there is no getting
back to

a part of my mind
refuses
to accept this
no matter
how many times
and how many ways
i try to explain it


****


i watched
a dance troupe
rehearsing
tonight,
a very sensual
performance

how
warily
unaware
of their bodies
these young women
seem


****


every
so often
i get a chance
to exercise the skills
essential to my everyday life
for many years, years now long past,

and,
like stretching
after too long in a too-soft chair
it just
feels
so damn good


****


how,
i mean how in
the world
could anyone with more than half a brain
vote
for that Arizona fossil
and his Alaska pony girl
running-mate.

i mean
the choice
this time
is a no-brainer

but
people i know
who are quite intelligent
and knowledgeable of the world
are going to do just that

what is it that moves them
that causes them to ignore the irrationality
of the action
they intend to take

in a race
between the tired and discredited past
and a promising future
why
would anyone bet on the past

i am
flummoxed


****


it sometimes
occurs
to me, usually way
late, like tonight,
that i really did
make a fool of myself
today

and i think,
boy,
i won't do that again

knowing for
certain
i
will


****


one
of the
sonsabitches
i hold responsible
for the pool of anger
still simmering in a corner
of my gut, a rage i expect to
carry with me to my grave, pled
guilty today to a misdemeanor count
of political corruption with a a $10,000 fine
and i feed on his humiliation but it is not enough
for it should have been a felony and someone else
will pay the fine just as someone else has always paid
the price of his corruption as did i and so many more I know


****


revenge
so so sweet
revenge
even
when incomplete

now
i will sleep








Next, I have three poems by Charles Bukowski fromPoetry East Number 44, Spring 1997.

Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, so I guess it's not so unusual that even a fan like me hasn't read these three. Despite that, I'm still a little surprised.

These seem to be from his late poems, looking over his life or, in the last poem, waiting for his death. His honesty and clear-sightedness, characteristics of his work which are among his greatest draws for me, are apparent in all three poems.



Burn and Burn and Burn

I used to know a dutchman in a Philly bar
he'd take 3 raw eggs in his beer,
71, still
working,
strong,
and there I sat down from him
4 or 5 barstools away
in my 20's
frightened
suicidal
unloved.
well, you know, sorrows beget
sorrows
burn and burn and burn and burn,
then something else takes
place.
I'm not saying it's as good
but it's certainly
more comfortable,
and often nights now
I think of that old dutchman -
I can look back on almost
a lifetime -

yet still remember him there
my master, then and
now.


Tougher Than Corned Beef Hash

the motion of the human heart:
strangled over Missouri;
sheathed in hot wax in Boston;
burned like a potato in Norfolk;
lost in the Allegheny Mountains;
found again in a 4-poster mahogany bed
in New Orleans;
drowned and stirred with pinto beans
in El Paso;
hung on a cross like a drunken dog
in Denver;
cut in half and toasted in
Kalamazoo;
found cancerous on a fishing boat
of the coast of Mexico;
tricked and caged at Daytona Beach;
kicked by a nursery maid
in a green and white gingham dress,
waiting table at a North Carolina
bus stop;
rubbed in olive oil and goat-piss
by a chess-playing hooker in the East Village;
painted red, white and blue
by and act of Congress;
torpedoed by a dyed blonde
with the biggest ass in Kansas;
gutted and gored by a woman
with the soul of a bull
in East Lansing;
petrified by a girl with tiny fingers,
she had one tooth missing,
upper front, and pumped gas
in Mesa;
the motion of the human heart goes on
and on
and on and on
for a while


So Now?

the words have come and gone,
I sit ill.
the phone rings, the cats sleep.
Linda vacuums.
I am waiting to live
waiting to die.

I wish I could ring in some bravery.
it's a lousy fix
but the tree outside doesn't know:
I watch it moving with the wind
in the late afternoon sun.

there's nothing to declare here,
just a waiting.
each faces it alone.

Oh, I was once young
Oh, I was once unbelievably
young!








Next, I have the first installment in a major project started by our friend Alex Stolis.

I provided a little information on this several issues ago. Here's an update.


Alex is taking the catalogue of The Replacements, an alternative rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979, and using the song titles as poem titles.

He will produce a series of poetry "albums," each separate and the size of a CD jewel case. The cover will be the group's actual album cover, with the poems listed on the back cover as the table of contents. At this point, Alex is planning on only five poems per album. The "box set" of all the poetry "albums" has a current working title of All Grown Up & Nowhere to Go.

What I have for you this week is the first album. I used a couple of the poems several issues ago, but this is the first presentation anywhere, I think, of the album as one piece.

Alex has promised to keep me posted on his progress so that I can tell you when the whole box set of poetry albums is done and available.

Here's number one.



Sorry Ma, Forgot to take out the trash

Table of Contents

Kick your door down

Shiftless when idle

More cigarettes

Love you till Friday

Raised in the city


Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash (1981, Twin/Tone)


eighteen tracks
in thirty six
point
six minutes-
take that
motherfucker


Kick your door down

if anybody said it was going to be easy
they don't know a thing
about the past, the way it creeps inside
your drink and forces you to wash down
the words stuck in your throat

one, two,
onetwothree

it's two a.m., we're laid out
flat and the last way home has left us
with our backs screwed to the wall

thatsitenoughisenoughalready
cantyoutellwerebored

so let's blow it all away
and watch the last friend standing
crawl out the door then lock it behind them.


Shiftless when idle

someone pumps lost change in the jukebox
there's a roll and click
the sound of quarters tumbling
always alone, a whir

then wait:
the next song

will hit the floor
will seem familiar
like a sheet being pulled over skin
it will become the moment you realize
you've been living at the movies
and when it's time to put out the lights it's still too early
to call it a day but way too late to go home


more cigarettes

in the beginning there was light
and shadow
there was a drafty bedroom and stories
that began with someday, when we get the time
then the next drink arrived
unannounced
and we hit the floor running

with no place left to go
home becomes the last stop
a radio plays in the back
ground, it doesn't sound like me
but we got filterless,

we're fireproof, armed and ready
for anything
but what comes after the flame goes out


Love you till Friday

when there's no money left

to pay back last call

and it's better

to drink separately

but together

and unalone

we'll pretend we're broke

in two

and let our hangover

sort out the pieces


Raised in the city

Let's memorize the streets, every curve every corner
every bus stop every sign
crawl through every intersection until we know it's time to run
headlong into the future

we can watch as moonlight gets lost, trapped in conversations
then suffocates in the whisper
of flames and cracking glass

we'll jump in the car, speed half way to nowhere,
pull over and roll into a ditch

fuck to the sound of traffic
then roam this city until the fire and spark of night sinks in
to the cool blue of silence








Jane Hirshfield, born in New York City in 1953, was part of Princeton University's first graduating class to include women and later studied at the San Francisco Zen Center.

She has worked as a freelance writer and translator. She has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and as the Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. She is currently on the faculty of the Bennington Master of Fine Arts Writing Seminars.

Her work has been published in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, and multiple volumes of The Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies.

I have two poems, including the title poem, from her book Of Gravity & Angels, published by Wesleyan University Press in 1988.



See How the Roads Are Strewn

See how the roads are strewn
white,
as if your hand, traveling my body,
came to be that flock of blossoms,
scent of February in the dark.
See how my hips eclipse your hips,
how the moon, huge as a grain-barge, passes by.
And promises do not hold,
certainties do not hold,
the risen cries fall and fail to hold,
but my body confusion of crossings, I give you
broadcast, to move with your hand,
where nothing is saved but breaks out in a thousand directions,
armful of wild plum, weeds.


Of Gravity & Angels

And suddenly, again,
I want the long road of your thigh
under my hand, your well-traveled thigh,
you salt-licked & come-slicked thigh,
and I want the taste of you, slaking,
under my tongue (that place of riding desire,
my tongue) and I want
all the unnamable, soft, and yielding places,
belly & neck & the place wings would rise from
if we were angels,
and we are, and I want the rising regions of you
shoulder & cock & tongue & breathing &
suddenness of you
opening
all fontanel, all desire, the whole thing beginning
for the first time again, the first,
until I wonder then how is it
we even know which part we are,
even know the ground that lifts us, raucous,
out of ourselves,
as the rising sound of a summer dawn
when all of it joins us.








Like automatically reaching for a calculator when somebody asks a two plus two level math question, we often turn to one of our modern gadgets to answer a question when a answer by doing something as simple as looking out a window.

This occurred to me last week as I set next to a very large window looking out to the outside.



weather report

i have
a local weather site
bookmarked
on my computer
where i can check
during the course of the day
and i was about to do just that
when i remembered i was sitting
by a big window
so i looked out this big window
and saw a soft blue sky
and little wispy hints of clouds -

mostly fair
with a when pigs fly chance of rain,
in the lingo
of the weather-wise








Lorna Dee Cervantes was born in 1954.

She is the author of From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger, Emplumada, which won an American Book Award a new collection, Drive, 5 by Lorna Dee Cervantes which includes the equivalent of 5 chapbooks with poems written between 1980 and 2005. This book was published in 2006 by Wings Press of San Antonio and it is from this book that I have selected poems for this week.

Cervantes is also coeditor of Red Dirt, a cross-cultural poetry journal. Her work has been included in many anthologies including Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Women Poets, and After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties .

She received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award and currently lives in Boulder, Colorado where she is an associate professor at the University of Colorado.

These three poems are from the section of the book titled Play.



Forgiveness Like a One-Winged Dove

scrambles in the sand. At her peace,
the Pacific rubbing at the ruts and gouged
out eyes of shell; at her feet, torn feathers
drifting in the sea breeze like the dollar
bills he crumpled and threw at her leaving.
On her face, two ripe plums the size
of the ones she picked at ten. One
has split its skin; she wishes she were
a butterfly coming into being, and not this
lumpy moth, too many and muddy to be
admired or collected, "Forgive me," he recites,
and she washes her feet in the brine.
"Forgive me," he repeats, and his
stuck record sticks in her craw as he strikes
out.


I Lead the Night in Their Shadows

and follow the killing floor where leaves
let go like suicidal children and
let flow all around like dancing figures
in the final act. To say it isn't true
but not say it. To pray it isn't true
but not pray it; the coffin man with
the silver lining, the obituaries copy.
I open the door and look out to sea
and think of expanses of an element
with the taste for tears.


Manzanita

whorls in a clingy abrazo, witchy
arms around me, forearms hard
with mahoganied as grandma's lifting
water; what survives fire , survives
conquest, digs down with stubborn
tendrils. How I love you, "no sissy"
tree, naturalized native, your
hair enthralled the crows and rabbits
muzzled their spines against your burnished trunk.
When the last acorn is leached from
the land, you will aspire.








We have a new friend of "Here and Now," Rodney L. Eisenbrandt, appearing here for the first time.

Rod was born in nineteen forty-three, and, he says, "having been told many things in my life all I know is I'm a challenged writer. To sum up my life, I gave and I received , rapped in mystic, I'm somebody in life I'm not."



Wanting Candy

I lay here with that pain
in my head from side to side,
to lift it is beyond my control.

That's ok, I've nowhere to go.
Demons and the flu, black walls
seemed to move, feeling so delusional,

not caring, I bury my head in the pillow,
wishing I was two or three days into the future,
by then hoping the pain decides to leave and I can

get half way back to sane, and just then some kids are at the door
wanting candy. I wear my ghost costume, a sheet with my scariest face.








Alice Walker was born 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth child of sharecroppers. Known as a poet and novelist, she is most famous for the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Although she grew up in Georgia, she has stated that she often felt displaced there, and lives in Berkeley, California.

The next two poems are from her book Revolutionary Petunias published by Harcourt Brace. She offers good advice in both.



Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
Become a stranger
No need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For you soul.

Discover reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
Be expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.


Be Nobody's Darling

for Julius Lester

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
(Uncool)
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous
Fools.

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave hurt words
They said.

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.








When you get to be about my age, some little accidents can make you feel like a dirty old man in an instant.

I wrote this last week after one such incident.



invasion

leaning forward,
she
was writing something,
a list
i think,
and the neck of her dress
scooped open
and i could see
her small brown breasts
beneath
the thin cotton
and i quickly looked away
embarrassed
by my inadvertent
invasion
of her body

though
she seemed
to never
notice
it








The next three poems are from The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, a poetry anthology published by HarperPerennial in 1993.

The first poem is by Ben Jonson, born 1572 and died 1637, English Renaissance Dramatist, Playwright, and Poet, a contemporary of William Shakespeare and a man of great influence during that period.



On My First Son

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
      My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
      Exacted by they fate, on the just day.
Oh, could I lose all father now! for why
      Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
      And, if no other misery, yet age!
Rest in soft peace, and asked, say, here doth lie
      Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
      As what he loves may never like too much.



The next piece is by Bob Dylan.



Three Angels

Three angels up above the street,
Each one playing a horn,
Dressed in green robes with wings that stick out,
They've been there since Christmas morn.
The wildest cat from Montana passes by in a flash,
Then a lady in a bright orange dress,
One U-Haul trailer, a truck with no wheels,
The Tenth Avenue bus going west.
The dogs and pigeons fly up and they flutter around,
A man with a badge skips by,
Three fellas crawlin' on their way back to work,
Nobody stops to ask why.
The bakery truck stops outside of that fence
Where the angels stand high on their poles,
The driver peeks out, trying to find one face
In this concrete world full of souls.
The angels play on their horns all day,
The whole earth in progression seems to pass by.
But does anyone hear the music they play,
Does anyone even try?



My last poem from The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart is by Etheridge Knight.

Kinght, one of seven children, was born in 1931 to a poor rural family in Corinth, Mississippi. He became a notable poet in 1968 with publication of his book Poems from Prison based on his eight years in prison for robbery.

Dropping out of school when 14 years old, Knight joined the U.S. Army in 1947 and served as a medic in the Korean War. He was released from service in 1951 after suffering from a shrapnel wound.

In 1960, Knight snatched an elderly woman's purse in order to support his addiction and was sentenced to serve a ten to twenty-five year term in the Indiana State Prison.

After his release from prison and a successful career as a poet and reader, Knight taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Hartford, and Lincoln University, until he was forced to stop working due to illness.

Knight died in 1991 from lung cancer.



Welcome Back, Mr. Knight: Love of My Life

Welcome back, Mr. K: Love of My Life -
How's your drinking problem? - your thinking
Problem? You / are / pickling
Your liver -
Gotta / watch / out for the
"Ol Liver" - Love of My Life.
How's your dope
Problem? - your marijuana, methadone, and cocaine
Problem / too? - your lustful problem -
How's your weight problem - your eating problem?
How's your lying and cheating and
Staying out all / night long problem?
Welcome back, Mr. K: Love of My Life
How's your pocket / book problem? - your / being
broke problem? you still owe and borrowing mo'
as dollar problems from other / po / poets?
Welcome back, Mr. K: Love of My Life.
How's your ex-convict problem? - your John Birch
Problem? - your preacher problem? - your fat
Priests sitting in your / chair, saying
How racist and sexist they / will / forever / be
Problem? - How's your Daniel Moynihan
Problem? - your crime in the streets, runaway
daddy, Black men with dark shades
and bulging crotches problem?
How's your nixon-agnew-j. edgar hoover
Problem? - you still paranoid? still schizoid? -
still scared shitless?
How's your bullet-thru-the-brain problem? - or
A needle-in-your-arm problem?
Welcome back, Mr. K: - Love of My Life.
You gotta watch / out for the "Ol Liver."
How's your pussy
Problem? - lady-on-top -
Smiling like God, titty-in-your-mouth
Problem? Welcome back, Mr. K:
Love of My Life, How's your peace
Problem - your no / mo' war
Problem - your heart problem - your belly / problem? -
You gotta watch / out for the "Ol Liver."








The next two poems are by our friend Walter Durk.

Though born in New York City, Walter says he has lived in Asia and numerous places in in the U.S.



Mending a broken object

What is it about this brick that beckons me
aged and mossed and red
to pick loose its mortar
to open crevices
to peer within
examine its eroded surfaces

to understand its fissures its blocks
tool a slush of lime and clay
into its flesh caress
it with my wrinkled fingertips
look to understand
the cause of its decay
eroded as it is
in its own way


Desirous

     It could be that nothing was said,
that no markers mark tombs of the dead

She breathes silently through
soft pores scattered among structures
aimed toward the sky as other things:
pines, privet, a blade of grass

the brown marrow of her brittle
bones sliced and partitioned
as a kitchen stone;
she knows she alone
will enfold in a blanket of sleep
the objects of her desire








My next poem is by Allen Ginsberg from Death & Fame, Last Poems, 1993-1997 published by HarperCollins after his death. Near death, Ginsberg took as his final poetic inspiration a copy of Mother Goose he asked a friend to bring to the hospital. This poem, written literally in the final days of his life, an example of what the editors of the book point to as "the pure, supple child Allen slipped in and out of in the late stages of is liver cancer." The final poems are, as the editors say, Ginsberg's "final poetic breaths."



Sky Words

Sunrise dazzles the eye
Sirens echo tear through the sky
Taxi klaxons echo the street
Broken car horns bleat bleat bleat

Sky is covered with words
Day is covered with words
Night is covered with words
God is covered with words

Consciousness is covered with words
Mind is covered with words
Life & Death are words
Words are covered with words

Lovers are covered with words
Murders are covered with words
Spies are covered with words
Governments are covered with words

Mustard gas covered with words
Hydrogen Bombs covered with words
World "News" is words
Wars are covered with words

Secret police covered with words
Starvation covered with words
Mothers bones covered with words
Skeleton Children made of words

Armies are covered with words
Money covered with words
High Finance covered with words
Poverty Jungles covered with words

Electric chairs covered with words
Screaming crowds covered with words
Tyrant radios covered with words
Hell's televised, covered with words.

                       March 23, 1997 - 5 A.M.








I wrote this piece a week or so ago, just another of my little observationals.



happy shadow

i
saw a woman
yesterday
that i knew some
years ago

a very large
woman
then
but
now just
a
shadow
of her former self

and
what a
very
vibrant and
happy shadow
she
seems








If there's ever a contest for "darkest" poem ever written, this next piece by Gottfried Benn from Music while drowning, German Expressionist Poems would surely be a contender for top honors.

Benn, who was born in 1886 and died in 1956, was a German essayist, novelist and expressionist poet. A Medical Doctor, he was an early admirer, and later a critic, of the National Socialist revolution. He was influential on German verse immediately before and after the Nazi era in Germany.

Perhaps his experience as a Doctor explains the graphic nature of this coroner's report of a poem. He does bring a kind of natural beauty to it, about as much beauty as you can bring, I think, to decomposition.

And that last line!



Happy Youth

The mouth of the girl who had lain a long time in
        the rushes
looked so nibbled away.
The breasts broken open, the feed-pipe so full of
        holes.
finally in a copse under the diaphragm
was discovered a nest of young rats.
One sister ratlet lay dead.
The others lived off liver and kidneys,
drank the cold blood and had
spent a happy youth here.
And short and sweet their death was too:
The whole pack were thrown into the water.
Oh! how the little snouts squeaked!








Here's a piece by our friend and frequent contributor, Shawn Nacona Stroud.

Shawn's poetry has also appeared in the Crescent Moon Journal, Mississippi Crow Magazine, Loch Raven Review, and The Poetry Worm. His work has also appeared in the poetry anthologies, including Poetry Pages Vol IV and Poetry From The Darkside Vol 2

He was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for 2008.



Adrift

Lust cast you adrift like an anchor-
ripped ship. Mother watched you sail
away from her window, and her hurt
cries settled with the house's creaks.

You were no more our daddy
than the blue suited man who arrived
daily to leave our mailbox full -
you came and went like him.

At two I hardly knew your face,
by three she had discarded you
as one discards blood soiled panties
in the hope a new pair will fare better.

Oh father, I've spent a lifetime
waiting for you to re-dock, picking
your face out of pedestrian line-ups.
Step forward, remind me who you are.








The next poem is by Irish poet Paul Durcan from his book Greetings to Our Friends in Brazil.

Durcan's main published collections, in addition to this book, include, A Snail in my Prime, Crazy About Women, and Cries of an Irish Caveman. He appeared on the 1990 Van Morrison album Enlightenment, performing the song, "In The Days Before Rock'n'Roll," which he also co-wrote.



Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street

Colleen, will you do me a favor?
One last favor before I die?
Before there is peace in Ireland?
One last favor in 1993?
In the worst year of my life?
In the year when my hands began
To tremble for no reason?
When my tongue fell down into my tummy?
And my memory started to hang back
As if it were shy of the past
And massacres became two a penny
And my business partner who was my friend
Sold up our business behind my back
And my true love grew weary of me?
Will you do me one last favor?
One last favor which if you would
You would bring such a smile to my face.
Such mint, such sage of mirth,
That I would surge through parliament gates
With my head held high
And if the police asked me the number of my car
And I could not remember it I would not get flustered
But I would stumble in my own time
Slowly to the rear of the car, bend down,
Fumbling with my bifocals, stammer
To read the reg. no. off the rear number plate
Em Em 92 MH 2185?
You will? One last favor?
Meet me in Buswells Hotel in Molesworth Street!
For what? I don't know for what.
Only a hotel to go to in Molesworth Street
And for an hour to be a couple of Buswells.








Think of this next time you're about to bite into a juicy burger.

I wrote this for a semi-convinced vegetarian I know.



the way is hard

the way is hard
so very
very
hard

but pork chops
are tasty
and prime rib
a savory dream
come
true

beer
battered
bayou catfish
float my
pirogue

and
with a golden fried
drumstick
as my scepter
i could
rule
the world

but
it's so hard
to eat
those you've come to
love

reason
enough
to shop at the super
market
and not at the farm








In past issues, I've taken my Jane Hirshfield from an earlier book of hers, Of Gravity & Angels. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a more recent book, The Lives of the Heart, from which I took these two poems.

Hirshfield was born in New York City in 1953. She received her Bachelors Degree from Princeton University in the school's first graduating class to include women. She later studied at the San Francisco Zen Center.

She has worked as a freelance writer and translator. She has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and as the Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. She is currently on the faculty of the Bennington Master of Fine Arts Writing Seminars.

I took these two poems from a section in her book devoted to describing great paintings through her poem.

(If it seems to you you've just read all of the above before, it's because you have. I added these poems at the last minute when I did a word count and decided the issue was short, then didn't notice until it came time to proof the issue that I had already used Jane Hirshfield earlier in the issue. So, she's here twice this week, but it's from two different books so it's kinda almost like it isn't twice. Decide what you want, but my story from now on out is that I did it on purpose.)


Painting

There is a painting of it: an eighteenth-century miniature from the
Kanga School of India, of the Krishna and Radha. In other
paintings, they have sheltered together, stood under a canopy of
invisibility among cows and the village girls who tend them. His hand
has covered her breast. In other paintings, we have watched her prepare
for him, behind the screen of a bedcloth held up by her friends. She is
putting red dye on her nipples and the bottoms of her feet, while he
looks down from an upstairs window, smiling. His body is blue, his
flute's notes possess a god's effortless irresistibility. But here it is
different. Though her eyes and mouth turn toward him with undeniable
longing, she stops him with one raised hand. Inscribed on the page are
his words, "Hear me, hear what I ask," and hers - they are simple,
immediate - "I hear, my Lord." But still she is leaving, walking away.
Though her torso turns back, her feet are already rising a little out of
her slippers - the god, though not the viewer, can see the red dye as she
goes. Under the silk of a sari so fine it could pass through the hoop of
her earring, her nipples are standing.


Of Durable Kindness

Not the saint
transfixed
at the painting's center,
but the face
of the boy half blocked
by his mother's shoulder.

Not that huge gate
swung open,
but the pin of the hinge.

The intricate
carved stones placed inside
the chimneys.

The village of women
across the mountain,
fitting
embroidered orchards
into their husbands' shoes.

The boy is
watching the hawk
glimpsing the rabbit.
The rabbit is savoring
the half-nibbled flower.

Because the grass is wet
we know it is morning.
The mother holds
purple grapes in her hand,
in case her son
grows restless or hungry.

Later,
when it is over,
it will be hot,
but by then
the dark-nosed donkey
will be asleep.








Here's a poem from fellow San Antonian, Ratava.

She says this next poem part of a "poem of the day" project she did over a period of a few weeks. She says she subscribed to an online dictionary and assigned herself the task of writing a poem with whatever word was featured. This was from the day of "Subterfuge."

Most of us set ourselves these little challenges. For me, the challenge is to write one poem every day. In my case, such challenges don't often produce poetic gems, but they do keep the machinery oiled so that if a really good idea comes I might still have the equipment to make the most of it.



Subterfuge

You can run but you can't hide
Not from yourself
Not forever
Sooner or later it will happen
You let your guard down
For just a moment
As you pass by that mirror
And you see the fleeting shadow of subterfuge
Following close behind
Like a psychotic stalker
Who escapes back into obscurity
Before being identified
But you know who it is
The stranger lurking
The one who hides her real motives
Even from you
The victim of your own subterfuge








The next several poems are from The Selected Poems of David Meltzer a collection of the work of jazz guitarist, Cabalist scholar, and poet David Meltzer.

Meltzer, born in 1937 in Rochester, New York, the son of a cellist and a harpist, was described by Lawrence Ferlinghetti as "one of the greats of post-World-War-Two San Francisco poets and musicians."

He wrote his first poem (on the topic of the New York City subway system) at the age of 11. His parents separated and he accompanied his father to Los Angeles in 1954. In 1957, he moved to San Francisco and became one of the key poets of the Beat generation.

He is the author of more than 50 books of poetry and prose.



The Argument

It was a rough night.
   Owls & a nightmare hawk
tried breaking through the bedroom window.
   I hard their wings
slam against the glass,
   the clack of their beaks.

   - But what of it? she asks
out of sleep broken by my poking.
   - What if the bedroom is filled with birds
real or imagined?
Go back to sleep.


The Argument 2

- Oh, you, she hollers,
   with your books on the shelves,
Your poems in folders:
   The words, the words
Like high-tide
   fill up your room.

   No wonder, no wonder,
I nod out before TV
   Waiting for you
To come to me &
   Sing me a song,
Satisfy my needs,
   Give me a moment out of your time.
No wonder.


The Argument 3

Tough waitress bangs her hand on the hard wood
   counter, says

      No more of this shit,
      I'm more than human,
      I'm a woman!

Early morning workers watch her
   over thick coffeecup rims &
let her work it out.

Flips the pancake to the ceiling.
   Hope it sticks there forever
along with the bacon-fat stars.


Nature Poem

Absurd.
We talk of progress.

My hair falls out all over the place.
Into a bowl of mushrooms.
What a mess.
How much of it have I swallowed?
Yet I let my hair fall.
Ha.
See how man copes with nature.

My teeth shrink.
Rot into nerve-end threads.
The enamel turns upon itself.
I allow my teeth to disappear.

My face falls into place.
Wrinkles work into folds, crack
& sag over my bent jaw.
I allow my face.

My tongue dries like a prune.
Too much air.
I let my tongue evolve.

Soon I'll be an old man.
Many years ago I was a baby.

Absurd.
We talk of progress.








Here's a piece I wrote last week about pushing the envelope



compromise

ate
a pancake
for breakfast yesterday

and not with that watery
sugar
free
syrup either -
the real stuff, thick
and sweet

not supposed to do that
so
i only ate half

this afternoon
i'm going out to the I-10 expressway
and go 100 miles an hour

since i'm not supposed to do that
i'll only go 50

and tonight
i'm going to a wild
loud
honky-tonk
full of promiscuous
cigar-smoking
women
and drink a case of beer

but
since i'm not supposed to do that
i'll probably go to the library
and have a cup of free decaf
with Gladys, the 80-year-old
nightshift librarian

compromise

it's a way of life
when you reach a certain stage
of life

all well and good
but my oh my
how i miss
the days when i could have the whole
pancake








That's it for this Halloween. Hope I didn't scare you.

I'll admit to being a little scared myself. It's the seemingly infinite capacity of Republicans to lie, cheat and steal elections that scares me on this Halloween, four days before an election the good guys appear poised to win.

But, however that turns out, as usual, all the material presented in this blog remains the property of its creators. The blog itself was produced by an is the property of me...allen itz.

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Flying   Friday, October 24, 2008


III.10.4.




One of my goals every week is to present a variety of poets for you to read. I think I've done that well this week.

In addition to my own efforts, I have:

From my Library

Andre Lord
Langston Hughes
William Stafford
Robert Frost
Doc Dachtler
Norman Nawrocki
Norman Stock
John Ashbery
Luci Tapahonso
Jimmy Carter
Edgar Lee Masters
Rita Dove
Lowell Jaeger

From Friends of "Here and Now"

James Fowler
Arunansu Banerjee
Don Schaeffer
Francina
Laurel Lamperd

Here they are. Have fun.

But wait, before you run off, here's something else.

I've just added a new link to my list of links on the right. This one is for Poetry and Poets in Rags a very good poetry blog published by Rus Bowden. It's a less loosy-goosy effort than mine and very interesting and informative.

If you're at all interested in poetry, especially as it appears on-line, you'll enjoy checking in on the blog.








I begin this week with two poems from Audre Lorde, one long an one short, from her book The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, Poems 1987-1992, published by W.W. Norton in 1993.

Lorde, born in 1934 in New York City to Caribbean immigrants, referred to herself as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." Nearsighted to the point of being legally blind, and the youngest of three daughters, she grew up hearing her mother's stories about the West Indies. She learned to talk while she learned to read at the age of four, learning from her mother how to write at around the same time. She wrote her first poem when she was in eighth grade.

After graduating from Hunter College High School, Lorde attended Hunter College from 1954 to 1959 and graduated with a bachelors degree. While studying library science, Lorde supported herself by working various odd jobs such as factory worker, ghost writer, social worker, X-ray technician, medical clerk, and arts and crafts supervisor.

In 1954, she spent what she described as a pivotal year as a student at the National University of Mexico. Upon her return to New York, Lorde went went back at Columbia, to college, worked as a librarian, continued writing and became an active participant in the gay culture of Greenwich Village.

She completed her Master's Degree in library science at Columbia University in 1961. She also worked during this time as a librarian at Mount Vernon Public Library. In 1966, Lorde became head librarian at Town School Library in New York City, where she remained until 1968.

Lorde died in 1992, in St. Croix, after a 14-year struggle with breast cancer.



The Politics of Addiction

17 luxury condominiums
electronically protected
from criminal hunger     the homeless
seeking a night's warmth
across from the soup kitchen
St. Vincent's Hospital
razor wire covering the hot air gates.
Disrobed need
shrieks through the nearby streets.

Some no longer beg.
a brown sloe-eyed boy
picks blotches from his face
eyes my purse shivering
white dust a holy fire
in his blood
at the corner     fantasy
parodies desire     replaces longing
Green light.    The boy turns back
to the steaming grates.

Down the street in a show-window
camera     Havana
the well-shaped woman smiles
waves her plump arm along
half-filled market shelves
excess expectation
dusts across her words

"Si hubieran capitalismo
hubgiesen tomates aqui!"

"If we had capitalism
tomatoes would be here now."


Kitchen Linoleum

The cockroach
who is dying
and the woman
who is blind
agree
not to notice
each other's shame.








Made another nice little trip to the coast last weekend. This is a great time of year for a visit there, and was glad to have a reason to go down and enjoy it with some old friends.



business trip

from
here on the 18th floor
the mist over the bay
is like a thin veil
over
the face
of a beautiful woman

hints
of gulf green
slip through the morning cover
stirred
like thin soup
by the masts in the marina

it
is a clear, bright
gulf coast morning

business
this afternoon from
1 to 4,
signing
if anyone buys,
with a reading at 2 -
some people here
in this place
that used to be home
who might come
if they get the word
but the notice in the newspaper
tiny
and not positioned
where likely to be read

so
whatever else
comes or doesn't
this afternoon -
at 4:05 it's back
to the hills

the new
home
for these past
15 years








I picked up a book some months ago that includes a series of poems that somehow relate to each of the fifty states, one poem per state. The title of the book is Across State Lines, published in 2002 by Dover Publications for the American Poetry and Literacy Project. (I just noticed for the first time that the book was originally distributed for free, which casts a new light on the $3.98 "deal" I got on at the used book store.)

The fifty poems in the book were not written for the book, but were selected, instead, by editors and are from a wide range of poets from all schools, all styles, all eras of American poetry, many famous, some not so.

I'll begin with this poem for Alabama written by Langston Hughes.



Daybreak in Alabama

When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everyone with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama



Next, by William Stafford, this poem for Montana.



Once in the 40s

We were alone one night on a long
road in Montana. This was in winter, a big
night, far to the stars. We had hitched,
my wife and I, and left our ride at
a crossing to go on. Tired and cold - but
brave - we trudged along. This, we said
was our life, watched over, allowed to go
where we wanted. We said we'd come back some time
when we got rich. We'd leave the others and find
a night like this, whatever we had to give,
and no matter how far, to be so happy again.



And, finally, here's the classic by Robert Frost for New Hampshire.



Stopping by Woods on a Snow Evening
       from New Hampshire Poems

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of they year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.








Next, a poem by our friend James Fowler of Massachusetts.

Jim said my pumpkin issue last week reminded him of a pumpkin grower who entered this year's giant pumpkin contest in New Hampshire with a pumpkin nearly 2000 pounds! He was disqualified at the weigh-in for having a hole in his entry. The winner this year was a measly 1500 pounds. Jim said all this prompted the following poem.



Atlantic Giant

You sit stolid on the skid,
Atlantic Giant, the Buddha
of pumpkins. Your lifeline twists
wrist-thick through the grate

to the mountain of compost
and brown earth. The patch
of Sugars nearby, peanut sized,
look up at you in awe.

Your shadow blankets all
as the sunset and your final
day draws near. We'll cut
the cord and carry you

to your final match,
a weigh-in of sumo gourds,
soon a half ton of pies.








Next, here's a little story by Doc Dachtler from his book ...Waiting for Chains at Pearl's, published in 1990 by Plain View Press of Austin.

It's a story about a crafts project of a sort you're not likely to see on one of those TV crafts shows.

There's a lot of references on the web on Dachtler, poet, humorist, actor, carpenter and local official, but it's at a whole bunch of different places. Seems an interesting guy, but I'll let you do your own googling on him.



Ark Theater

      for Robbie Thompson, the director

   Robbie Thompson called me on the phone. He asked me if I wanted to get into Theater. I said I couldn't act. Robbie said he had all the actors and actresses, that was easy. He needed a carpenter to build sets and props.
   I want to do a play called, The Strongbox, by Carl Sternheim, 1913, German Expressionist. Set in Bavaria, your ancestral home. I need a camera with a dickie-bird that pops out. The photographer in the play is a Casanova.
   What's a dickie-bird?
I ask.
   You know, a penis, a cock! like, Oh Brother!
   Oh.....Yeah....I know,
I said
   We talked about timing, commitments, performances and then he said,
   You probably won't be paid much.
   Big deal, what else is new?,
I replied
   I went to the warehouse in Nevada City (new and used) and asked the little man with the mustache and a remote phone on his belt how much for the J-66 Polaroid Land Camera with the accordion black focusing housing on the front. It was the only camera I could find like that without costing me a fortune for something about 1913.
   That one still works, it'll be ten bucks. I don't think you can get film for it though.
   It's not going to work when I'm done with it; I need it for a prop for a play, how about five bucks.
   How about seven,
he said. It's a collector's item!
   OK,
I said.

   I took the camera into the shop at North Columbia across from the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center where we were to open in a month. I took a six pack of Becks. I cracked them both and started working. I mounted a Campbell's Soup can on the front of the camera. I got it from my landlady, who saved the labels for the Mary Knoll Sisters who do good Catholic works. Inside the tin can I screwed down a coil spring that wasn't too rusted and weak from an old bed I found in the barn. On the end of the spring I stapled a turned block of wood shaped into the head of a penis with a hole drilled in the end at an angle down so the Ivory Liquid Dish Soap wouldn't run out of it when it was stuffed back into the tin can. Over the spring and penis block of wood I stitched a pink baby's sleeper arm of fuzzy polyester I found in the Cancer Aid Thrift Store Baby Bin and created a cock about eight inches long and two and a half inches in diameter. I put a strap over the end of the can with a hammered hasp lock and a pin so the cock would stay inside until called for. I made a wood tripod and spoke shaved the white pine legs of a 1 x 1. I made a wire hoop to hold a black shroud for the photographer, Silkenband, to duck his head under. The shroud was a long sleeveless mass vestment which the landlady found for me in one of her huge closets.

   I was ready with the whole camera setup. I set Robbie down in a chair I kept in the shop for an old man who likes to come and nip and watch work. Robbie is suffering from Parkinson's but it doesn't slow him down that much. I gave him a Becks and said,
   Camera!, complete with cock and dripping semen!
   I ducked under the shroud and aimed the camera, pulled the handle to the 12 lb. nylon fishing line attached to the pin on the hasp latch that let the big bed spring sproing out with the heavy wood block cock on the end. The cock sproinged out and a splat of Ivory dish soap shot over and hit the director Robbie Thompson on the forehead as he sat there getting his picture taken!
   He is laughing like hell, a glob of dish soap running down to his eyebrows while the limp cock is emptying itself out on the plank floor and wiggling on it's spring, up and down.



Can't leave without another little Dachtler moment from Nevada County. I've set on this kind of committee, been in these kinds of meetings, and on the losing end of these kinds of argument, making this little piece especially funny to me.



Public Meeting

      I represented the Fifth district on the Nevada County Planning Commission (1977-1980)

   We were considering the application for MacDonald's fast food in Glengbrook. I made a long speech about traffic impacts, sewer impacts, about future development in the basin. The six other commissioners listened politely and then voted 6-1 against me. The one seated next to me leaned over and whispered in my ear,
   I agreed with everything you said, but I voted for it because I like their french fries.








Here's a little breakfast table revelation I wrote last week.



the word

i was sitting
at my kitchen table
this morning
eating
my Wheaties
and listening to the radio
and a song came on,
a thirty-year-old song
by Anne Murray
that i've heard probably
a thousand times
and for the first time
a word that's always puzzled me
was clear as a bell
and with that word the song
made sense to me
like it never had before

holy cow!
i was thinking,
what a great song

isn't
it strange
one word
and a song, background static
for thirty years,
became a great song

one
word

something to remember
when talking to friends and lovers

or
writing a poem








My next poem is by Norman Nawrocki from his book Rebel Moon.

Nawrocki is a Vancouver-born, Montreal-based cabaret poet, artist, actor and activist. His also the vocalist/violinist for the "rebel news orchestra: Rhythm Activism."

I'll admit to not much in the way of appreciation for middle-class-white-boy-radical-activists as agents of any kind of meaningful social change, but the do make some fine art. Nawrocki is no exception to this, with some fine poetry in this book (and some not so fine). My favorite is this next one, a true look at a real life.



John Clarke

By 6 am
the first Monday
of every month
John Clarke,
an 82 year old diabetic
walks 6 blocks
to the bus stop,
catches 3 buses,
waits in line
for 3 hours
for the Food Bank handout of
a loaf of bread,
a tray of biscuits,
peanut butter,
canned corn,
peas and beans,
instant pudding,
and a few apples and oranges.
"Luckily I know how to get by"
he says
"But it's awful rough
for a lot of old people."









Next I have three short poems from three different classic forms by our friend from Calcutta, Arunansu Banerjee.

The forms are, first a Haiku, then a Tanka, and, finally, a Tetractys.



Insomnia

Empty blisters
in a Lorazepam pack.
Chirping crickets.


Grief

She arrives
draped in a morning's mist.
Dreams, burrow further
among pillows,
taste the last verse.


Breeze

Come
near me
don't whisper
yet make me feel
you came unknowingly to gift a sigh





Photo by Dora Ramirez-Itz




Except for limericks and a very few poets, you don't think much about poetry and humor at the same time. Well, here's a couple of poems that break that rule.

The poems are by Norman Stock from his book Buying Breakfast for My Kamikaze Pilot, published by Gibbs Smith in 1994.

Stock was born in Brooklyn. He received a B.A. from Brooklyn College, and M.L.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Hunter College. He's won numerous awards for his poetry and has been published frequently including in The New Republic, College English, The New York Quarterly, Denver Quarterly, New England Review, and numerous other publications. His poems have also appeared in Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry, The Art of Poetry Writing, and The Poet's Companion
.
Stock lives in New York City and works as a librarian at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Most poets, or anyone else who lays themselves and their work bare before unsympathic critics, will get a special chuckle out of the first poem.



Thank You for the Helpful Comments

I sit quietly listening
as they tear my poem to shreds in the poetry workshop
as each of them says they have a "problem" with this line
    and they have a "problem" with that line
and I am not allowed to speak because that is the
    etiquette of the workshop
so I sit listening and writhing while they tear the guts out
    of my poem and leave it lying bleeding and dead
and when they've finally finished having kicked the
    stuffing out of it
having trimmed it down from twenty lines to about four
    words that nobody objects to
then they turn to me politely and they say well Norman
    do you have any response
response I say picking myself up off the floor and brushing
    away the dirt while holding on for dear life to what I
    thought was my immortal poem now dwindled to nothing
and though what I really want to say is can I get my money
    back for this stupid workshop what I say is...
    uh...thank you for your helpful comments...
    while I mumble under my breath motherfuckers
    wait till I get to your poems


the Innocent

I must look safe
the nun sits next to me
she doesn't know what I am thinking
chinese girls fucking roosters
could she think of that
great vaginas blossoming mammoth mushrooms
the availability of women
how could she know
I look so safe
go ahead, sister
sit next to me








I have a really, mostly, great life, sitting in coffee shops, drinking coffee, watching people and writing down what I see.

What's not to like.

Except for those day when the world intrudes.



poetry interruptus

no
laying back
in a dark and friendly
coffee-shop
today

no
leisurely
contemplation
of my versifying cohorts'
carefully limed lines
over lattes
and
blueberry muffins

no,
today
the discouraging truth
that weeds grow
even in drought orders
my day
and i'm off to the trailer
to gas up the tractor and
level out the grassy tufts that
bring disorder to the still-not-sold
country estate

no
way
around it








Born in 1927, John Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for poetry and is recognized as one of America's most important poets.

This next poem is from Ashbery's book And the Stars Were Shining, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1994.

If you have a little problem following along with him in his poem, remember, he once characterizes himself as having been described as "a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism." Given that, his poem is still fun to read, something that cannot always be said for the many poets who have sought to adopt his sometimes mysterious style.



Till the Bus Starts

"This heart is useless. I must have another."
- The Bride of Frankenstein


I like napping in transit.
What I ought to do
just sits there. I like
summer - does it like me?
So much cursory wind
with things on its mind -
"No time to worry about it
now." it - she - says.

In short, I like many
dividers of the days
that come near to eavesdrop on our thoughts.
What about gliders?
These, yes, I like these too.

And greened copper things
like things out of the thirties.
I must have one - no,
make that a dozen, all wrapped
fresh, at my address.

And were it but a foozle
schlepping around my ankles
by golly I'd give it the same
treatment all those guys,
years, gave me. You can't fasten
a suspender stud and not know about it,
how awful they looked,
and when they returned home under trees
nobody said
anything, nobody wanted it.

Still, I'll go
out of my way, waiting
for yet another vehicle.
It seems strange I read this page before, no,
this whole short story. And what
sirens sing to me now,
cover me with buttons.








Here's a couple of pieces from frequent contributor Don Schaeffer.

Don's first book, Almost Full, was published in 2006. He holds a Ph.D in Psychology from City University of New York and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with his wife, Joyce.



Sixty-Eight

I am a creature of retirement.
Nobody dreams of me.
Soon I will stop dreaming.

The future has slipped
back onto all those bright-eyed others
bearing away any wishes and hopes.

It's just now,
a pleasant word
perhaps a laugh.

Nothing binds and holds.
There are no enclosings
when the life of love has passed.


Live Jazz

In this club
at a table
in front of a bottle of Millers,
it's all real.
The woman with
the tattoo on her leg
is singing about
feeling beating hearts.
The men I know, she sings,

the breath in her voice
and delicate conversation,
all grown-ups. I
barely know the rules.

She sings about love.
I mention politely
I think she's lying.
The jazz lyrics
are pure country.








Luci Tapahonso was born on the Navajo reservation in 1953 and was raised in a traditional way along with 11 siblings. English was not spoken on the family farm, and Tapahonso learned it as a second language after her native Dine bizaad. Following schooling at Navajo Methodist School in Farmington, New Mexico, and Shiprock High School, she began studies at the University of New Mexico. In 1982, she gained her MA and went on to teach, first at New Mexico and later at the University of Kansas and now at the University of Arizona.

I have two poems from her 1993 collection Saanii Dahataal (the women are singing).

Tapahonso's writing, unlike that of most Native American writers, is a translation from original work she has created in her tribe's native tongue, creating sometimes unusual structures.



Shaa Ako Dahhiniteh
Remember the Things They Told Us


   1
Before this world existed, the holy people made themselves visible
by becoming the clouds, sun, moon, trees, bodies of water, thunder,
rain, snow, and other aspects of this world we live in. That way,
they said, we would never be alone. So it is possible to talk to them
and pray, no matter where we are and how we feel. Biyazhi daniidli,
we are the little ones.

   2
Since the beginning, the people have gone outdoors at dawn to pray.
The morning light, adinidiin, represents knowledge and mental awareness.
With the dawn come to the holy ones who bring blessings and daily gifts,
because they are grateful when we remember them.

   3
When you were born and took your first breath, different colors
and different kinds of wind entered through your fingertips
and the whorl on top of your head. Within us, as we breathe,
are the light breezes that cool a summer afternoon,
within us the tumbling winds that precede rain,
within us sheets of hard-thundering rain,
within us dust-filled layers of wind that sweep in from the mountains
within us gentle night flutters that lull us to sleep.
To see this, blow on your hand now.
Each sound we make evokes the power of these winds
and we are, at once, gentle and powerful.

   4
Think about good things when preparing meals. It is much more than
physical nourishment. The way the cook (or cooks) think and feel become
a part of the meal. Food that is prepared with careful thought,
contentment, and good memories tastes so good and nurtures the mind
and spirit, as well as the body. Once my mother chased me out of the kitchen
because it was disheartening to think of eating something cooked
by an angry person.

   5
Be careful not to let your children sit or play on tables or countertops.
Not only is it bad manners, but they might have to get married
far sooner than you would ever want.

   6
Don't cut your own hair or anyone else's after dark. There are things
that come with darkness that we have no control over. It's not
clear why this rule exists, but so far on one is willing to become
the example of what happens to someone who doesn't abide by it.


Hills Brothers Coffee

My uncle is a small man.
In Navajo, we call him "shidai,"
      my mother's brother

He doesn't know English.
      but his name in the white way is Tom Jim.
      He lives about a mile or so
      down the road from our house.

One morning he sat in the kitchen,
drinking coffee.
      I just came over, he said.
      The store is where I'm going to.

He tells me about how my mother seems to be gone
every time he comes over.
      Maybe she sees me coming
      Then runs and jumps in her car
      and speeds away!
      he says smiling.

We both laugh - just to think of my mother
jumping in her car and speeding.

I pour him more coffee
and he spoons in sugar and cream
until it looks almost like a chocolate shake.
Then he sees the coffee can.
      Oh, that's the coffee with the man in a dress,
      like a church man.
      Ah-h, that's the one that does it for me.
      Very good coffee.

I sit down again and he tells me
      Some coffee has no kick.
      But this one is the one.
      It does it good for me.

I pour us both a cup
and while we wait for my mother,
his eyes crinkle with the smile and he says,
      Yes, ah yes. This is the very one
      (putting in more sugar and cream).

So I usually buy Hills Brothers Coffee.
Once or sometimes twice a day,
I drink a hot coffee and

      it sure does it for me.


Raisin Eyes

I saw my friend Ella
with a tall cowboy at the store
the other day in Shiprock.

Later, I asked her,
Who's that guy anyway?

Oh, Luci, she said (I knew what was coming),
it's terrible. He lives with me
and my money and my car.
But just for a while.
He's in AIRCA and rodeos a lot.
      And I still work.

This rodeo business is getting to me, you know,
and I'm going to leave him.
Because I think all this I'm doing now
will pay off better somewhere else,
but I'll stay with him and it's hard
because

      he just smiles that way, you know,
      and I end up paying entry fees
      and putting shiny Tony Lamas on lay-away again.
      It's not hard.

But he doesn't know when
I'll leave him and I'll drive across the flat desert
from Red Valley in blue morning light
straight to Shiprock so easily.

And anyway, my car is already used
to humming a mourning song with Gary Stewart,
complaining again of aching and breaking,
down-and-out love affairs.

Damn.
These Navajo cowboys with raisin eyes
and pointed boots are just bad news.
but it's so hard to remember that all the time,
she said with a little laugh.








I wrote this piece a couple of weeks ago on a particular great October morning that turned out to be the beginning of a particularly great day.



October morning


a mid-October
morning
still dark at 8 a.m.
and in the dark
the scratch of rain
on drying leaves

on the corner
of Soledad and Martin
the homeless woman
as back after a week gone elsewhere
still elsewhere
this morning conversing
with the overcast sky
pacing pacing pacing in circles
shaping flowing forms in the air
with her hands

a beautiful black woman
beneath the grime
young sharp-featured
like fox in the hunt
dressed in autumn colored
scraps she's sewed together

colors
that meld together like leaves
swirling slowly
in a gentle October wind








The number of books Jimmy Carter has written since leaving the presidency is up to ten now, I think, including one or two collections of poetry. (And when we say Jimmy Carter wrote the book, we mean Jimmy Carter did the writing.)

My next poems are from one of those, Always a Reckoning, And Other Poems published by Random House in 1995.



With Words We Learn to Hate

We take lives in times of peace
for crimes we won't forgive,
claiming some have forfeited
the right to live,
We justify our nation's wars
each time with words to prove we kill
in a moral cause.
We've cursed the names of those we fought -
the "Japs" instead of Japanese,
German Nazis or the "Huns,"
and "Wops" - when they were our enemies.

Later they became our friends,
but habits live in memories.
So now, when others disagree
we hate again, and with our might,
war by war, name by dirty name,
prove we're right.


Considering the Void

When I behold the charm
of evening skies, their lulling endurance;
the patterns of stars with names
of bears and dogs, a swan, a virgin;
other planets that the Voyager showed
were like and so unlike our own,
with all their diverse moons,
bright discs, weird rings, and cratered faces;
comets with their steaming tails
bent by pressure from our own sun;
the skyscape of the Milky Way
holding in its shimmering disc
an infinity of suns
(or say a thousand billion);
knowing there are holes of darkness
gulping mass and even light,
knowing that this galaxy of ours
is one of multitudes
in what we call the heavens,
it troubles me. It troubles me.








Now, here's a short piece from our friend from all around the world, now holding court in The Netherlands, Francina



Quiet Meadow

It is quiet in the meadow,
where the wind holds its breath,
to leave the trees stand motionless,
and clouds colour purple in the afterglow.

No song of birds to be heard,
even the reed not to be stirred,
and the creek streams trouble free
into the river on its way to the sea.

Despite this quietness,
my thoughts circle, restless.








Now from Edgar Lee Masters, a master at using character-sketch poetry to create a jigsaw puzzle picture of a particular place and time I have two poems. The poems are from Master's classic Spoon River Anthology, a literary phenomenon due to its originality when first published in 1915.



Adam Weirauch

I was crushed between Altgeld and Armour.
I lost many friends, much time and money
Fighting for Altgeld whom Editor Whedon
Denounced as the candidate of gamblers and
    anarchist.
Then Armour started to ship dressed meat to Spoon
    River,
Forcing me to shut down my slaughter house,
And my butcher shop went all to pieces.
The new forces of Altgeld and Armour caught me
At the same time.
I thought it due me, to recoup the money I lost
And to make good the friends that left me,
For the Governor to appoint me Canal Commis-
    sioner
Instead he appointed Whedon of the Spoon River
    Argus,
So I ran for the legislature and was elected.
I said to hell with principle and sold my vote
Or Charles T. Yerkes' streetcar franchise.
Of course I was one of the fellows they caught.
Who was it, armour, Altgeld or myself
that ruined me.


Editor Whedon

To be able to see every side of every ques-
    tion;
To be on every side, to be everything, to be nothing
    long;
To pervert truth, to ride it for a purpose,
To use great feelings and passions of the human
    family
For base designs, for cunning ends,
To wear a mask like the Greeks actors -
Your eight-page paper - behind which you huddle,
Bawling through the megaphone of big type:
"This is I, the giant."
Thereby all living the life of a sneak-thief,
Poisoned with the anonymous words
Of your clandestine soul.
To scratch dirt over scandal for money,
And exhume it to the winds for revenge,
Or to sell papers,
Crushing reputations, or bodies, if need be,
To win at any cost, save your own life.
To glory in demoniac power, ditching civilia-
    tion,
As a paranoiac boy puts a log on the track
And derails the express train.
To be an editor, as I was,
Then to lie here close by the river over the place
Where the sewage flows from the village,
and the empty cans and garbage are dumped,
And abortions are hidden.








D and I went to the movies last week. I'm a fan of westerns, so we went to see Appaloosa. I recommend the movie. Though a simple movie, as in my thumbnail sketch of a poem, it isn't simplistic or emotionally shallow. I enjoyed it, more, in fact, than I've enjoyed most of what I've seen this year.



Appaloosa

went to the movies
today
11 am
early bird special
only $8 for the 2 of us

not counting
the $15
at the concession stand

a good old western - "Appaloosa"

the clip-clop of horse hooves
as the title
rolls

a horse
whinny

gunfire
and the bad guy
makes his base nature known

and good guys -
good friends,
lawmen,
partners
cleaning up the New Mexico
Territory
one dried-up little town
after another
making the territory safe
for the cheats
and cowards and double
dealing civilizer
of the west

and a prissy little woman
who's something of a whore
and a real whore
with a heart of gold
and loyal to her man

and treachery
and stand-fast fortitude
and moral choices
and the good in the bad
and the bad in the good
and a gun fight
when evil is defeated,
left lying bloody dead
on the dusty
street

and the friends must part,
the one staying with the
prissy whore
while the other rides off
into the sunset,
leaving the heart-o-gold
whore
with a little gold locket
and a kiss on the cheek

yes siree
i surely do
like
a good
cowboy movie








Rita Dove born in 1952 in Ohio, was the second African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize. From 1993 to 1995, she served as the first Black and the youngest Poet Laureate of the United States.

The next poem is from her book On the Bus With Rosa Parks, published by W.W. Norton in 1999.



Black on a Saturday Night

This is no place for lilac
or somebody on a trip
to themselves. Hips
are an asset here, and color
calculated to flash
lemon bronze cerise
in the course of a dip and turn.
Beauty's been caught lying
and the truth's rubbed raw:
Here, you get your remorse
as a constitutional right.

It's always what we don't
fear that happens, always
not now and why are
you people acting this way
(meaning we put in petunias
instead of hydrangeas and reject
ecru as a fashion statement).

But we can't do it - naw because
the wages of living are sin
and the wages of sin are love
and the wages of love are pain
and the wages of pain are philosophy
and that leads definitely to an attitude
and an attitude will get you
nowhere fast so you might as well
keep dancing dancing till
tomorrow gives up with a shout,
'cause there is only
Saturday night, and we are in it -
black as black can,
black as black does,
not a concept
nor a percentage
but a natural law.









I have this next piece from out friend Laurel Lamperd.

Laurel lives with in sight of the Southern Ocean on the south coast of Western Australia. She writes novels and short stories as well as poetry and, with a friend, published The Ink Drinkers an anthology of their poetry and short stories.

In addition to that, Laurel has a new book coming out this month. The book is Wind from Danyari from Wings Press.



Ballad of the Sad Losers

When Margaret Roadnight came to town
Old Jimmy Cowman remembered
how he was going to be
the greatest jazz player in the world.
Play that sax, Jimmy
play them Blues.
He was Satchmo

When Margaret Roadnight came to town
she sang a song of the fifties.
Little Nancy Dee remembered
dancing with Johnnie Jones
to the old seventy-eights
Jimmy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.

When Margaret Roadnight left town
she took her songs with her.
Old Jimmy Cowman sat upon his porch.
He didn't see the crop that was failing.
Little Nancy Dee wept
remembering the night
Johnnie Jones waltzed out of her life
in the arms of her best friend.

When Margaret Roadnight left town
she left her dreams behind.








My next poem is by Lowell Jaeger. It's from his book War on War published in 1988 by Utah State University Press.

The book doesn't include any kind of bio on Jaeger and I can't find anything in the way of a bio on the web, so, at least to me, he is a mystery.

Good poet, though, which, I suppose, is all we really need to know.



At the Vietnam Memorial
 (Washington D.C. 1983)


Some wounds need be
re-opened before they heal.
Here, where the earth was cut
the architect, that woman, condemned
our unforgiving memories of war.
She has re-opened the grave and made us
look inside.

            I walk the walk and read
the stone-cold Henrys and Johns and
Davids and Paul. I uncover
that afternoon a dead relative
's name. But these are his brothers, buried
so near they are my brothers
too. I shudder to remember how
we are all of one mother
and to our mother, all return.
How easily
I forget and now look: these few stones
divide the living and the dead. Look:
these men, these boys, inside the walls
and when I press my palms
to touch them I feel only the black
marble hallways of the underworld
we build with our tombs.

Nearby banners still fly
half-mast. The Viet-Vets
are unshaven and beneath berets
I see their hair, like mine,
grown long. From their small display
these men remember, day by day,
The POW, the MIA, the maybe-dead
who maybe wish they were,
whose footsteps may never mark our thresholds
again and nowhere is their name
cut in stone.

            Thank you, Mr. Jones
I say, accepting his handbill,
reading the name chiseled on his fatigues
and the fatigue etched inside his face
above the name. I want
to shake this man's gentle hand.
I want his eyes to lock with mine
and I want him to say slow and nodding,
Some wounds need to be re-opened before they heal.
But no. No. Our bodies stand intact
while our eyes peer across the battlefield
from opposite sides. He fought the war
I fought against. No, we have nothing
to say. I walk away. I read the handbill.
I walk away.

I retreat into the womb, the tomb,
the blackness, the trench. Some wounds
need be
re-opened
before they heal and where the living
will not speak, the dead cannot
keep still.

      I am long standing, listening
how generations upon generations struggle
to bust through these walls, till I feel the sun
set, and in that proper light
on the one slate my shadow walks
through the shadow world,
walks with the shadow; on the other side
reflecting hard my face and beyond that
his face
and beyond that,
ours.








I wrote this piece just a couple of days ago, another look at the woman I wrote about a couple of poems back.



without papers

the autumn
lady
street person
was
dancing
in the parking lot
this morning

dressed
in her normal
browns
& reds
& golds

slow-moving
arms
and hips
and shoulders
and head to a kind of
calypso beat

not in a world
of her own
as you might think
but
in the music

she
stops when i drive up
walks to the rail
and pretends to look down
at the river

i've said hello
to her several times
early in the morning,
like now,
but she never responds,
because she is black
and i am white
because she is woman
and i am man
because she is homeless
and i am homed
because she is the queen
of this street
of this parking lot above the river
of the water
as it flows in her river
and of this and every morning

and
i
am just a trespasser
a passer-through
a migrant
with no
papers

meaning
no
good morning
hellos
are required
or to be acknowledged








And, with a faint hint of moon in a bright morning sky, we call it quits for this week. Now, and as always, all of the material presented in this blog is the property of its creators; the blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz

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