Happy Holidays   Friday, December 26, 2008





No new poems
or
other diversionns
this week

Just me wishing all my readers and contributors

the GREATEST OF HOLIDAYS

and the GRANDEST OF NEW YEARS


I'll be back next week
with
my normal "Here and Now" fare
including, as usual,
poems
from everywhere and everywhen
poets
sat down
to investigate the universe
between their ears

as usual - allen itz

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It's a Wrap   Friday, December 19, 2008


III.12.3.




This is my last post for 2008.

Here's what I have.

From friends of "Here and Now"

Gary Blankenship
Marie Gail Stratford
Susan B. Mcdonough
Ratava
RD McManes

From my library

Paul Monette
E.E. Cummings
Saleem Barakat
Kwang-kyu Kim
Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
Jane Hirshfield
Lawson Fusao Inada
Shirley Kaufman
James Galvin
Federico Garcia Lorca
John Oughton
Maria Piercy
Pamela Uschuk

and me.








First, I have a poem by Paul Monette from his book West of Yesterday, East of Summer - New and Selected Poems (1973-1993), published in 1994 by St. Martin's Press.

Monette was born in 1945 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He graduated from Phillips Academy in 1963 and Yale University in 1967, then moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he taught writing and literature at Milton Academy for a number of years before moving to West Hollywood. In 1978 with his partner, lawyer Roger Horwitz. Monette's most acclaimed book, Borrowed Time, chronicles Horwitz's fight against and eventual death from AIDS. His 1992 memoir, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, tells of his life in the closet before coming out, won the 1992 National Book Award in the nonfiction category. In addition to his poetry, he also wrote the novelizations of the 1988 film Midnight Run, the 1979 film Nosferatu the Vampyre, the 1987 film Predatorr and 1983 film Scarface.

Monette's last years, before his own AIDS-related death in 1995, are chronicled in the film named after him, Paul Monette: On the Brink of Summer's End by Monte Bramer and Lesli Klainberg.



The Worrying

at me alive day and night these land mines
all over like the toy bombs dropped on the
Afghans, little Bozo jack-in-the-boxes
that blow your hands of at 3 A.M. I'd go
around the house with a rag of ammonia
wiping wiping, crazed as a housewife on Let's
Make a Deal
the deal being PLEASE DON'T MAKE
HIM SICK AGAIN faucets doorknobs the phone
every lethal thing a person grips and leaves
his prints on scrubbed my hands till my fingers
cracked washed apples ten times ten no salad but
iceberg and shuck the other two thirds someone
we knew was brain dead from sushi so stick
to meatloaf creamed corn spuds whatever we
could cook to death DO NOT USE THE D WORD
EVEN IN JEST when you started craving deli
I heaved a sigh because salami was so de-
germed with its lovely nitrates to hell with
cholesterol that's for people way way over
the hill or up the hill not us in the vale
of borrowed time yet I was so far more gone
than you nuts in fact ruinous as a supermom
with a kid in a bubble who can't play and ten
years later can't work can't kiss can't laugh
but his room's still clean every cough every
bump would nothing ever be nothing again
cramming you with zinc and Haagen-Dazs so wild
to fatten you up I couldn't keep track of
what was medicine what old wives' but see
THERE WAS NO MEDICINE only men and to
circle the wagons and island the last of our
magic spoon by spoon nap by nap till we
healed you as April heals drinking the sun
I was Prospero of the spell of day-by-day
and all of this was just house worry peanuts
to what's out there and you with the dagger at
your jugular struggling back to work jotting
your calendar two months ahead penciling
clients husbanding husbanding inching back
and me agape with the day's demise who
was swollen who gone mad ringing you on
the hour how are compared to ten noon
one come home and have blintzes petrified
you'd step in an elevator with some hacking
CPA the whole world ought to be masked
please I can't even speak of the hospital fear
fists bone white the first day of an assault
huddled by you bed like an old crone empty-
eyed in a Greek square black on black the waiting
for tests the chamber of horrors in my head
my rags and vitamins dumb as leeches how did
the meningitis get in where did I slip up
what didn't I scour I'd have swathed the city
in gauze to cushion you no man who hasn't
watched his cruelest worry come true in a room
with no door can ever know what doesn't
die because they lie who say it's over
Rob it hasn't stopped at all are you okay
does it hurt what can i do still still I
think if I worry enough I'll keep you near
the night before Thanksgiving I had this
panic to buy the plot on either side of us
so we won't be cramped that yard of extra grass
would let us breath THIS IS CRAZY RIGHT but
Thanksgiving morning I went the grave two over
beside you was six feet deep already for the next
murdered dream so see the threat was real
why not worry worry is like prayer is like
God if you have none they all forget there's
the other side too twelve years and not once
to fret WHO WILL EVER LOVE ME that was
the heaven at the back of time but we had it
here not black on black I wander frantic
never done with worrying but its mine it's
a cure that's not in the books are you easy
my stolen pal what do you need is it
sleep like sleep you want a pillow a cool
drink ooh my one safe place there must be
something just say what it is and it's yours








We've had some beautiful weather the past couple of weeks - the problem is, we need rain a lot more than we need beautiful sunny days.



blue cloudless day

blue
cloudless sky

temperature
low forties

light breeze
from the north

the kind of day
you want to bundle up
and take your dog
for a long walk

stroll
the Riverwalk

hang
Christmas lights

pick
apples
from that apple orchard
down the road
in Comfort

lotsa stuff
that it's usually too hot
to do

a perfect day for it
today

if we'd had rain
anytime in the past six months
it'd be a hell'uv a beautiful day








Here are several funnily serious and seriously funny poems by E.E. Cummings from the collection is 5.



XXXII

a man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat

fate per a somewhat more than less
emancipated evening
had in return for consciousness
endowed him with a changeless grin

whereon a dozen staunch and leal
citizens did graze at pause
then fired by hypercivic zeal
sought newer pastures or because

swaddled with a frozen book
of pinkest vomit out of eyes
which noticed nobody he looked
as if he did not care to rise

on hand did nothing on the vest
its wideflung friend clenched weakly dirt
while the mute trouserfly confessed
a button solemnly inert.

Brushing from whom the stiffened puke
i put him all into my arms
and staggered banged with terror through
a million billion trillion stars.


XXXIV

this evangelist
buttons with his big gollykwog voice
the kingdomofheaven up behind and crazily
skating thither and hither in filthy sawdust
chucks and rolls
against the tent his thick joggling fists

he is persuasive

the editor cigarstinking hobgoblin swims
upward in his swivelchair one fist dangling scandal while
five other fingers snitch
rapidly through mist a defunct king as

linotypes gobblehobble

our lightheavy twic twoc ingly attacks
landing a onetwo
which doubles up suddenly his bunged hinging
victim against the
giving ropes amid
screams of deeply bulging thousands

i too omit one kelly

in response to howjedooze the candidate's new silk
lid bounds gently from his baldness
a smile masturbates softly in the vacant
lot of his physiognomy
his scientifically pressed trousers ejaculate spats

a strikingly succulent get up

but
we knew a muffhunter and he said to us Kid.
daze nutn like it.


XXXVII

poets yeggs and thirsties

since we are spanked and put to sleep by dolls let
us not be continually astonished should
from their actions and speeches
sawdust perpetually leak

rather is it between such beddings and
bumpings of ourselves to be observed
how is this fundamental respect the well
recognized regime of childhood is reversed

meantime in dreams let us investigate
thoroughly each on his optima rerun first
having taken care to lie upon our
abdomens for greater privacy and lest

punished bottoms interrupt philosophy








I have a short series now by friend Gary Blankenship.

Gary has two abilities (well, at least two among many others) I admire and cannot match. First, he is a master of finding a common reference point, then doing a series of poems around it. In doing my daily poems, I usually just fall into whatever hole opens up in front of me. No hole, no poem.

Gary is also very good at writing to various "forms." I, on the other can't do a form except by corrupting it, as I corrupted the Haiku when creating the Barku.

In this series, Gary has divided the 24-hour day into four quarters - Matutinal (the very early predawn morning), Diurnal (the sunlit day, dawn to dusk), Vespertine (the evening, very early night just after dusk), Nocturnal (the dark night, dusk to dawn) - and written a short poem referencing each period.



The Day Quartered

Matutinal, Separations

While I am still asleep and the puppy,
she rises at first light to start her search
for the perfect latte, the freshest news.
I dream she's here, and am once more surprised.


Diurnal, Garden Dreams

Amidst dandelion fluff and bee song,
she admires her garden labors.
Her book falls to the pavement, head nods,
and she dreams of me dreaming of her
asleep covered by a blanket of sun.


Vespertine, Searches

The candles are lit, sheets folded over,
but the table is empty, bed ice cold,
while she searches for twilight blossoms
in the company of bat and owl song.


Nocturnal, Discovery

Beneath stars that warm far flung cities,
beneath a moon that reflects another,
we explore strange terrains in the dark,
light enough to value what's uncovered.


I mentioned Gary's success with forms. Here's a form he introduced to many of us just last week.

To quote Gary:

The Shadorma is a Spanish poetic form made up of a stanza of six line (sestet) with no set rhyme scheme. It is a syllabic poem with a syllable pattern of 3/5/3/3/7/5. Little is known about this poetic style's origins and history, but it is thought to be a form invented by court poets in the 14th or 15th century.


Gary wrote this particular Shadorma on December 15th, thus the reference to "ten days."



Passages

Some can't wait
for the next ten days
to pass by,
but the best
gift is for the Bush final
forty-one to end.








Next I have a couple of poems from The Same Sky - A Collection of Poems from around the World selected by San Antonio poet Naomi Shihab Nye. The book was published in 1996 by Aladdin Paperbacks.



The first poem is by Saleem Barakat, a Syrian of Kurdish origin. He has worked as a journalist and editor and, at the time the book was published, lived in Cyprus.



The Squirrel

The first hazelnut trundles down from above.
The second hazelnut, the third, the fourth, the fifth and
the sixth, trundle down from above.
The hazelnuts trundle down, nut by but, to the ground beneath
the dumb tree, the tree whose memory the squirrel collects
nut by nut, rolling it into his den.
Each year a memory of hazelnuts rolls, nut by nut, into
the den of the prince with the merry tail,
and the tree forgets.



And the second poem is by Kwang-kyu Kim of South Korea, a professor of German language and literature who has won major Korean literary prizes for his poetry.



The Birth of a Stone

In those deep mountain ravines
I wonder if there are stones
that no on has ever visited?
I went up the mountain
in quest of a stone no one had ever seen
from the remotest times

Under ancient pines
on steep pathless slopes
there was a stone
I wonder
how long
this stone all thick with moss
has been
here?


Two thousand years? Two million? Two billion?
No
Not at all
If really till now no one
has ever seen this stone
it is only
here
from now on
This stone
was only born
the moment I first saw it








We had our first real cold weather last week, after a norther that blew in to shake the trees. This poem is from my morning walk.



cold dawn

i walked
today
in cold winds
at dawn

leaves
still hanging
on their trees
yesterday
swirl
this morning
in little fits
around me

rain
at last
not much
but enough
to renew
ever gullible
hope
that it will
someday
rain again
.
.
.
.
.
.
i will stay home
today
and work
curtains tied back
so i can look out
at this new world
and see winter
here at last
flying
with the leaves








Here's something interesting, several poets from The Wisdom Anthology of North American Buddhist Poetry published by Wisdom Publications of Boston in 2005.



The first poet is Tsering Wangmo Dhompa.

Born on a train halfway between Delhi and Chandigarh in 1969, she grew up in Dharamsala where her mother served as an elected member of the Tibetan Government-in-exile. She attended boarding school in Mussoorie in northern India and completed Bachelors and Masters Degrees in English Literature at Lady Shri Ram College at Delhi University. She worked as a feature writer for magazines in New Delhi for a year, then came to the United States to earn a Masters Degree in Professional Writing from the University of Massachusetts and, later, a M.F.A. Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State. For the past six years she has worked for the American Himalayan Foundation, an organization that provides humanitarian air to people in Nepal and Tibet, and to Tibetan refugees in India. She has published Recurring Gestures, a chapbook and Rules of the House, from which the poem below was taken.



Sun Storm

Like brides behind veils, my people peep from drawn curtains and
feel the air with their fingers. They do not see any use for heat and
are not hospitable to it. Electric fans focus on bare shoulders blades
and erect nipples.

Mosquitoes persist. Hands do not more vast enough.

On arrival, my people were instructed to throw away their black
clothes, then taught to distract the sun. In crisp white pajamas and
khadi shirts, they walked the camp till it paled to canvas of
gathering spirits

Night led them to the edge of the stream. Feet in water, they
talked about what they had left to lose.

Some afternoons, old stories were translated into Tibetan.
You are blessed, strangers said. God has delivered you. Such is his
bountiful nature.


Sparrows tattooed the air. Prayer beads clicked as mantras
circulated above the parable of a son who erred and was forgiven.
The story teller's lips bent with crystals of sweat.

Jesus loves you. For years, I thought Jesus was the president of a
country. He though he was a rich old man.

He told one story-telling woman she was wrong. Jesus had nothing
to do with it. It was all fate.


How Thubten Sang His Songs

You are adapted to speeches of silence, speak he said, speak.

Magpies shuffled in the neighbourhood as the world opened noisily.
Empty tongues are so heavy, I said. What do you know of life, you
who live in the cave.

Someone was getting married next door. A woman's giggle pierced
the room. The world outside could not be kept out.

He summoned a milkman from the street. What causes you grief?
Milk, said the man,milk.

He said to know where I was, I need to know where I came from.
I could only hear one word at a time.

When I am with people, I am in love with people. When I am
alone, I am alone.

What do you see in a cave when there is no light?

Shadows burn.

Fire.

Fire.



I'm finding lots of familiar names in this book where, from the title I wouldn't expect them. Such as Jane Hirshfield whose poems, taken from her own books or other anthologies, I've used frequently.

Here's a short one from this book



Why Godhidharma Went to Howard Johnson's

"Where is your home," the interviewer asked him.

Here.

"No. No," the interviewer said, thinking it a problem of translation,
"when you are where you actually live."

Now it was his turn to think, perhaps the translation?



I used a poem last week by Lawson Fusao Inada that I picked up from another source.

Well here's another poem, this one a bunch lighter, sure to delight all those Californians who've spent much of their life stuck on I-5.



A High-Five For I-5

*

Archaeologists have determined
that the I-5 Corridor
was originally a Power Path
with sacred Prayer Places
accessible on the side.

*

Padre Yo-Cinco
headed forth
with a mission:

Each settlement now
has its own
Taco Bell.

*

The Chinese
are still blasting
I-5 into Canada.

*

I-5 is still being
excavated in Mexico.

*

I-5 is the only structure
to have its traffic
reported from the moon.

*

At any given moment,
there is enough water
in I-5 plastic bottles
to dampen a famine.

*

At any given moment,
there are more boats
on I-5 than off Cuba

*

At any given moment,
there is more lifestyle
on I-5 in Seattle
than there ever was in Russia.

*

At any given moment
there are more Asians
on I-5 than others
may care to imagine.

*

At any given moment,
there are more random
acts of kindness on I-5
than in medieval times.

*

If you were to chop up I-5
and lay it side by side,
you could easily cover Europe,
not to speak of encountering
unspeakable resentment.

*

If you were to roll up I-5
you could truthfully promote
the world's largest replica
of a butterfly tongue.

*

The combined cracks of I-5
are equal to the Grand Canyon.

*

The depth of I-5
is to be respected.

*

There are more I-5 reflectors
than stars in the galaxy.

*

I-5 paint can
readily cover
rain forests.

*

I-5 dashboards emit
more radiation than
all wars combined.

*

Residents east of I-5,
to the Atlantic Ocean,
are noticeable different
from those on the other side.

*

Within a 24-hour period,
I-5 roadkill could sustain,
for life, Santa's entourage.

*

The I-5 Litter Patrol
has no chance of parole.

*

All I-5 homeless
are licensed.

*


All I-5 music
is approved.

*

With the advent
of drive-thru schooling,
The Ramp Generation
never has to leave I-5.

*

The I-5 CEO's RV
is refueled while moving.

*

A proven fact:
I-5 drivers
via mirrors
read faster
backwards.

*

If ratified,
I-5 becomes
the world's
narrowest
nation.

*

Otherwise I-5
remains the most-
traveled Mobius strip.

*

The I-5 median strip
is a designated reservation.

*

And, yes, the buffalo
have returned to I-5.

*

Improved sensors
allow many I-5 trucks,
especially at night,
to be driven by
the visually impaired.

*

In remote stretches,
beware the I-5 hijackers
and false interchanges

*

Coming soon:
the I-5 Channel.

*

Being tested
in the Gulf:
the I-5 Auto.

*

Almost extinct:
The I-5 Bronco.

*

Almost available:
The I-5 Franchise

*

Already in effect:
The I-5 Interstate
Date Line.


I think I'm going to be coming back to this book often.








Next I have two very short poems, gems, from two friends and cohorts on The Blueline's Poem a Day forum.

The first is Marie Gail Stratford, a freelance writer and dance instructor from Kansas City, Missouri, where she also works for a small computer retailer. Her work has appeared in several online periodicals, including The Loch Raven Review, Blue House, and Poems Niederngasse.

I can't imagine any way to do what she does here any better or in any fewer words. It is a gem of brevity and wit.



False Hope

false hope:
mistaking a toe tag
for a business card



Similarly, this poem by Susan B. McDonough is a novel in seven lines.

Susan creates gardens for a living and enjoys the journey of transplanting words into poetry. She has one foot in Arizona and the other in Maine. Her poems can be found both on-line and in print.



Passage

I am full
of gratitude
for happenstance.
I return the favor
in wandering journeys.
You can't fall
asleep on the tracks.








Here are two poems by Shirley Kaufman from her book Rivers of Salt published by Copper Canyon Press in 1993.

Kaufman, 79 years old, was born in Seattle, lived in San Francisco, and has been a resident of Jerusalem since 1973. She is winner of two NEA fellowships, in addition to many other awards. She has published eight books of poetry and several books of translations from Hebrew.



Bread and Water

After the Leningrad trials, after solitary confinement
most of eleven years in a Siberian Gulag, he told us
this story. One slice of sour black bread a day.
He trimmed off the crust and saved it for last
since it was the best part. Crunchy, even a little sweet.
Then he crumbled the slice into tiny pieces. And ate
them, one crumb at a time. So they lasted all day. Not
the cup of hot water. First he warmed his hands around it.
Then he rubbed the cup up and down his chest to warm his
body. And drank it fast. Why, we asked him, why not
like the bread? Sometimes, he said, there was more hot
water in the jug the guard wheeled around to the prisoners.
Sometimes a guard would ladle a second cup. It helped
to believe in such kindness.


Snow in Jerusalem

After it stops the air is still
whirling around our house and the pine trees
shake out their iced wings the way
dogs shed the sea from their bodies
after a swim, a whit crust slides
like shingles down the backs of the branches,
soft clumps loosen themselves from
sills and ledges, fall past our window
with the swoosh of small birds
or of moths at night that beat themselves
senseless against the lamp until
we switch it off and reach for each other,
warm and slightly unraveled under
the worn nap, under the flannel
of the snow sky, under the overhanging
sorrow of the city listening to the
plop, plop, it's all coming clean now,
starting to thaw a little from the inside.








This poem came out of an interview with Daniel Barenboim I heard on NPR.



surround sound

sound
is to life
as
silence
is to death
says
Daniel Barenboim,
so
beat
your drum
blow your horn
surround
me with sound
musicians
quick-talking hucksters
blovating politicians
gossipy neighbors
crying babies
wailing fire trucks
grasshoppers cricking
the small splash
of a leaf
on a quiet pond

marbles on a hardwood floor

surround me
with the
roars
& rattles
of day
& breathy little
whispers
of night

surround me
with the sounds
of life

let me not slip away
in silence








James Galvin was born in Chicago in 1951 and raised in northern Colorado. He earned a B.A. from Antioch College in 1974 and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1977. He lives in Laramie, Wyoming, where he has worked as a rancher part of each year all his life, and in Iowa City, where he is a member of the permanent faculty of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop.

He has published a number of poetry collections, including X : Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2003, from which I took the following poem.



Winter Solstice Full Moon At Perigee

Being in love isn't about being happy.
Here's a good idea: let's live some more.

After bad things happen we always live
A little more. Good timing, bad timing,

The people against me were probably right:
You can't step in front of the same bus twice.

From here on out, honesty's its own
Intelligence, which may or may not involve

Philosophy. Try to understand
The world, and leave the mind to darkness where

It thrives. Werner Herzog, for example, says
The mind is a room, better dimly lit

For livable ambiance, some lively music
For habitability - more floodlit, mute

For self-knowledge - a bogus notion, anyway.
According to the quarterback from Cedar
Rapids, Iowa, Jesus is a
Football fan, without whose intervention

The Rams could not have won the Super Bowl.
Aren't you ashamed at refusing love.








Now, here's a piece from friend of "Here and Now" and fellow San Antonio writer Ratava.



We Do the Best We Can

We do the best we can
And it's enough - it has to be -
Because it's all we can do.

Who has the right to judge, anyway?
Can someone outside my skin know
Just what it cost me to do a thing...
Or to not do it?

I know.
And no matter how much you may want me to,
I could never explain to you why it had to be this way -
Or that way -
Or the way it will turn out next week -
It just is, because of everything that was.

In order to understand
You would have to live inside me.
But you have a life of your own to live
So make it as fascinating as you seem to think mine is.
And why is what I do - or don't do -
So damn important to you anyway?

Do you think I know something you don't know?
Maybe...but then you probably know something I don't.
Because you lived it, and I didn't.
So if I know something, that's exactly how I learned it, too,
And telling you about it wouldn't satisfy your desire.
Only you can do that...by living it, like I did.

You wanna know what I know?
Stop watching me and go live your own damn life!
The answers will be different for you than they are for me,
Because you are not me.
And I can assure you...
You
        don't
                  want
                           to
                                 be.








Because he was a character with such an interesting history, I've done extensive introductions when I've used his work in the past. This time I'm keeping it simple.

Federico Garcia Lorca, (5 June 1898 - 19 August 1936) was a Spanish poet, dramatist and theater director. He was born in 1898 and died in 1936, murdered by members of the fascist group Falange at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

I refer you to Google for more information.

In the meantime, here are two poems from his book poet in new york whose original Spanish text was published in 1940 by his estate. My bilingual copy, in its eighth printing in 1995, was published by HarperCollins. The book provides Spanish and English on facing pages with English translations by Greg Simon and Steven F. White.



Cow

To Luis Lacasa

The wounded cow lay down,
trees and streams climbing over its horns.
Its muzzle bled in the sky.

Its muzzle of bees
under the slow mustache of slobber.
A white cry brought the morning to its feet.

Cows, dead and alive,
blushing light or honey from the stables,
bellowed with half-closed eyes.

Tell the roots
and that child sharpening his knife:
now they can eat cow.

Above them, lights
and jugulars turn pale
Four cloven hoof tremble in the air.

Tell the moon
and the night of yellow rocks:
now the cow of ash has gone.

Now it has gone bellowing
through the wreckage of the rigid skies
where the drunks lunch on death


Little Girl Dropped in the Well
(Granada and Newburgh)


Statues suffer the darkness of coffins with their eyes,
but they suffer even more from water that never reaches
    the sea...
That never reaches the sea.

The townspeople ran along the battlements, breaking
    the fishermen's poles.
Quickly! To the edge! Hurry! And the tender stars
    sounded like bullfrogs.
...that never reaches the sea.

At peace in my memory, heavenly body, circumference,
    boundary,
you cry on the shores of a horse's eye.
...that never reaches the sea.

But no one in the darkness will be able to give you
    distances,
only sharpened limits: diamond's future.
...that never reaches the sea.

While the people look for pillowed silences,
you pulsate forever, defined by your ring.
...that never reaches the sea.

You will always be ahead of some waves that accept
the combat of roots and anticipated solitude.
...that never reaches the sea.

They're coming up the ramps! Arise from the water!
Every point of light will toss you a chain!
...that never reaches the sea.

But the well pulls you back with small mossy hands,
you, unforeseen nymph of its chaste ignorance.
...that never reaches the sea.

No, that never reaches the sea. Water fixed in one place,
breathing with all its unstrung violins
on the musical scale of wounds and deserted buildings.
Water that never reaches the sea!








I'm easily distracted when I'm trying to write - for better or worse, the distraction usually becomes the poem.



good eats

i'm at La Taza
trying
to write my poem
for the day
and there's this old guy
sitting behind me
and he's telling this woman
from Cuba
all about the best
Mexican food places
in San Antonio
of which, mind you,
there are at least ten
thousand
and, from the sound of it,
he's eaten at maybe
three, and i stifle
my first urge
to tell the woman
to pay no attention
to this old fool, then he mentions
a place we ate at last night
for the first time,
La Hacienda de los Barrios,
way the hell on the edge of the city
with a wonderful outside dining
area under great old oak trees
and beautifully presented bland food
and he's raving about it
and i decide the three places
he's eaten at must be this one
and the two downtown in El Mercado
that specialize in margaritas, mariachis,
huge crowds and so-so food
and we love those places
because the tourists love them
and show it with their money
but
we don't eat there

then toward the end of the conversation
he mentions to the woman that,
th'ugh he grew up in San Antonio.
he’s only been back here for three months.

for the last 30 years
he's lived in Washington D.C.

and all is explained








John Oughton was born in Guelph, Ontario, and spent his formative years there, except for two years in Egypt and Iraq. In more recent years, he has lived in Japan, Nova Scotia, and Toronto. He studied literature at York University in Toronto and Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

In addition to his work as a literary journalist and reviewer, Oughton has published four books of poetry, Taking Tree Trains in 1973, Gearing of Love in 1984, Mata Hari's Lost Words in 1988, and Counting Out the Millennium, published in 1996 by Pecan Grove Press of San Antonio.

The following poem is from his most recent book.



Erin's Birth

The face of the earth was covered with water... - The Book of Genesis

You waited until your due date
and in the honoured hour of the wolf
3:45, the first day of fall,
the start of Yom Kippur,
the closest approach of Mars to Earth,
the cusp of Libra and Virgo,
the waters that held you moved out.

We started you in Banff
cooking you up between sulphur springs and wine and
sliding skis through diamond fields of snow.
And we skated in the shade of Lake Louise's glacier,
balancing on thin steel over
the clear, crazed ice.
We made you with pleasure in the strength and softness
of our bodies, my tadpoles doing the Canadian crawl
to your mother's spore, the other half
of who you'd be.

You took root and held, your mother
sure from the start you'd stay.
She called me from a phone booth
to tell me she'd changed
into a song with accompaniment.
They you hung on through her nausea and pain,
airplane flights, and a miserable month
of fighting Nova Scotia drizzled,
even though the spring made
as it wedged open winter's frozen grin.

You started to dance early:
at first a ball bouncing
to the red heartbeat above
then a tiny astronaut on a water walk
to the end of your line
so alert we called you Booter:
you'd kick every hand
or stethoscope laid on you
and so strong your motions
rippled your mother's belly.

Now surfing out on the muscular waves
you unbalance the world with your cry.

     - September 21-22, 1988








Next, I have a piece by "Here and Now" friend RD McManes. I haven't heard from Robert in a while, but discovered a whole treasure trove of his stuff I had temporarily lost track of.

Here's one of them.



a block with shaved corners

i drank shots with a priest
discussed politics with a senator
counted stars with an astronomer
sang karaoke with the eagles
wore bell-bottom blue jeans
and later a three piece suit

i sipped tea in england
sniffed brandy in france
smelled the tulips in holland
danced in a german disco
tasted the air in the swiss alps
felt the ground tremor in croatia
and touched holy water in macedonia

every block has a corner
and lord, I've rounded a few
even looked cancer in the eye
and have since survived
but how I ended up in rural kansas
is still a mystery to me








The next two poems are by Marge Piercy, from her book The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing, published Alfred A. Knoph in 1980.

Piercy was born March 31, 1936 in Detroit into a family that had been, like many others, affected by the Depression. She went to public grade school and high school in Detroit. At seventeen, after winning a scholarship to the University of Michigan which paid her tuition, Piercy was the first person in her family to go to college. Winning various Hopwood awards allowed her to go to France after graduation. Her schooling finished with an M.A. from Northwestern where she had a fellowship.

After the breakup of her first marriage, Piercy lived in Chicago. She supported herself at a variety of part-time jobs; she was a secretary, a switchboard operator, a clerk in a department store, an artists' model, a poorly paid part-time faculty instructor. She was involved in the civil rights movement.

Since then, Piercy has published numerous novels and books of poetry.



Agitprop


To come up behind you
and embrace you in the chair
where you sit working
is a guerrilla tactic.
I rush in on the unguarded rear
inflict my affection
and withdraw at once
before the forces of defense can mobilize.
It is unlikely in this manner
that I will seduce you.
However, some force of insurrection
hiding in your rough clothes
might be inspired to rise in revolt.
Thus my attacks can be regarded
as propaganda moves -
promises to the presumable oppressed
of interim relief
and ultimate victory.


Expecting

It is a birthday present
that comes in the mail
with no sender you can guess,
only the opaque
company name, that could sell
jewels or long underwear.

It is a dream you almost
remember on waking, and then
in midday it crosses,
a bird flushed from cover
streaking through a clearing
too fast to see the color
but yes, you know it.
It cries now, deep
in the woods.

It is a sunrise flush
warming my breasts
under the shirt, and the constant
effort not to jump up and down
and splatter questions
when your name is said.

It is knowing I do
not know you but I will.








This is the kind of poem I write after imbibing too much William Carlos Williams, wishing I could write poems like he wrote.



i have a hat

i have a hat

a brown feltish thing
with a rakish
bend to the brim

that i wear
when my hair

long
and sometimes unruly

refuses
to conform to the rules
of social acceptance

it is
my bed-head
hat

not worn
often

irreplaceable
on the days it is needed

i'm
wearing it today








The next poem is by Pamela Uschuk is from her book One Legged Dancer, published by Wings Press of San Antonio in 2002.

Uschuk is the author of four books of poems, Finding Peaches in the Desert, One Legged Dancer, Scattered Risks, which was nominated by Ploughshares for the 2005 Zacharias Poetry Award as well as nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Without the Comfort of Stars: New and Selected Poems. She is also the author of several chapbooks of poems. Future publications include Crazy Love, a collection of poems from Wings Press.

Uschuk's work has been translated into nearly a dozen languages, including Spanish, Russian, Czech, Swedish, Albanian, and Korean. Her work has appeared in over two hundred fifty journals and anthologies worldwide. She also writes and publishes nonfiction articles.

Among the institutions where she has taught creative writing courses include Marist College, Pacific Lutheran University, Fort Lewis College, the University of Arizona's Writing Works Center and Salem College. She also spent many years traveling teaching creative writing to Native American students on the Salish, Sioux, Assiniboine, Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Crow, Tohono O'odham and Yaqui reservations in Montana and Arizona. She has been Director of the Center for Women Writers at Salem College, where she has also taught Creative Writing. Editor-In-Chief of the literary magazine, Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts, Uschuk is currently professor of Creative Writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

To see "Southwest Pieta" by Luis Jiminez, go here:

http://mati.eas.asu.edu:8421/ChicanArte/html_pages/jimenez13.lrgr.html




Southwest Pieta

      after the lithograph by Luis Jiminez

Sacrifice is seldom what it seems.
Take the virgin sprawled across her lover's lap
      in Mexico's wide desert. Which eagle dove to take
her heart offered up for the Hummingbird God
with innumerable other human hearts plucked
      so Montezuma could survive his own terror?

Does the forbidden lover who cradles her corpse
still taste blood caking his lips, blood
crusting the Hummingbird's sleek beak?

The Mexican sunset is cerise as the arterial ooze
washing between Popocatapetl,
the mountain who smokes, and Iztaccuiatl,
the white woman extinct; sunset
that repeats the same shade
as the gore-soaked headband
constricting the lover's ecstasy, his grief.

Nearly smiling, the lover narrows his gaze beyond
the sky that flames apocalyptic as his aura.
      Between the grounded eagle and the coils of the rattler
dividing the vision of Mexico, the sacrificed beauty lies.

What calls itself
      priest or devotion demands that
the innocent heart trust the obsidian blade.

There is no rage, just the smoking mirror
etched on a sky that distorts
each image it sees.
      And the virgin's beautiful face is
an exact mask replicating the lover's -
her muscular arms, leg curve, the living and the dead
a circle of uncorrupted flesh.
Siempre sige lo mismo -
the sacrifice is the lover's beloved twin.




?




OK, setting aside the humor and justice of it, there is a serious question.

Where the hell was the secret service?

One shoe, then another shoe and, still, there stands Bush, completely in the open. As Jay Leno said, you would have expected that someone in his security detail would have, at least, jumped in front of the second shoe.

If i was President Obama, I'd take the names of every agent covering Bush on this trip and make sure they are never responsible for protecting me or my family. Sheesh!



the Decider decides to duck

just
saw the video
of the Iraqi journalist
throwing his shoes at W

damn
i wanted to do that








That's it for this week and this year. I'm taking next week off, but will be back on the first Friday of 2009. Then, as now, I'll be asking you to 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.

1 Comments:
at 5:25 PM Blogger Billy Angel said...

really like the james galvin poem

Post a Comment



Winter Settles In   Friday, December 12, 2008


III.12.2.




Winter has indeed settled in in a good part of the world. Here, winter hardly ever "settles in." Instead, we get glancing blows as it passes, like last night when a roaring norther pushed through, bringing the temperatures down to mid-thirties by dawn. Around here that's low enough to have everyone bundled up in parkas this morning like they were heading out for a hike through Anchorage, Alaska.

By the end of the week, it will be back in the high fifties at night and near eighty at midday.

That is our winter experience here in south central Texas.

Our "Here and Now" experience this week includes the following:

From our friends

Alex Stolis
Margaret Barrett Mayberry
Mick Moss
Laurel Lamperd

From my library

William D. Barney
William Heyen
Mary Jo Salter
Natasha Trethewey
Gavin Moses
Nancy Mercado
Luci Tapahonso
Lawson Fusao Inada
Bill Roberts
Wallace McRae

And me.








My first two poems this week are by William D. Barney from his book A Cowtown Chronicle, published by Browder Springs Books of Dallas in 1999.

Born in 1916, Barney was a lifelong resident of Fort Worth, Texas. He was a retired postal worker and poet, eventually publishing eight collections of poetry as well as a memoir. His work also appeared in numerous anthologies. He was a former Texas Poet Laureate and was presented with the Robert Frost Memorial Award by Frost himself.

He continued as a poet, bird watcher and naturalist until his death in 2001.



Mr. Harold Taft

Mr. Harold Taft, a gentleman of graphics and gauges,
does not live by the map on which he has carefully
    plotted
the current weather offensive. Nor even by that
    clockwise-circling
Cyclopean eye in its frenzy rolling,
which seeks out oncoming barrages. Not even by
his bones, attuned as they are to the encroaching
of seasons and odd circumstance. Modest
and cheerful as he is, having been schooled in
    humility
on a grandiose scale (his subject violently objects
to analysis, only reluctantly yields
piecemeal particulars), he lives
by accumulating data, much as they say
a raindrop is saved up, accomplished, a bit
of moisture here, a piece of vapor there
until a respectable concentration has been
    gathered.
He has a touch of the uncanny in him:
reading the rhythms of the air, taking
    temperatures
much like a wife who tests her fertility,
he dares to say whether the welkin
will bring forth. His is a fatherly concern,
peering out anxiously into the void
to say whether ominous red patches have that
    hook
by which folks are caught in tumultuous turns.

Mr. Harold Taft has, of course,
a love affair with the elements,
wishes it to be understood, notwithstanding,
that no matter how accurately he foretells
or for that matter how badly he misses,
he is not responsible for whatever happens.
No, strictly speaking, his is a calculation
of ambiguous factors at work on partially-known
    quanta,
not immutable law though very good likelihood.
No one, so far as is known,has ever ascribed
    calamity
to an Act of Harold Taft. This enables him
to remain cheerful, happy among charts and dials
and the partly predictable perchance of weather.

Nor let it be said the fact is forgotten:
Mr. Taft also plays, for our delectation,
a wind instrument.


A Rose in Winter

We can always tell when it comes;
there where the two forks of the river join
below the bluff, a great white billow
rises.

Floating storms of condensing steam,
escape from the power plant.
Winter puts on one of its softer
guises.

Petals of vapor puffed up at the edge
of our town, a smoke that says
somewhere a raging fire must be
consuming.

But all I can think of in the swirl
in an old haunting, slow chorale
in a Christmas key: Lo, How a Rose
E'er blooming






Photo by Dora Ramirez Itz




Here's more in the story of my continuing search for a place to spend the mornings, plying my writerly trade, since the old place that served me so well shut down.

I was at the new place this morning, writing, and think I overheard a discussion that suggests the possibility of the old place reopening, less funky, probably, but still downtown by the river with free parking.

But that's may be a story for the future telling - in the meantime, this is what I have today.



is this the place?

if the old place
was kinda funky,
a little leftover sixtyish,
a place for guys
like me
who lived through it
but didn't learn
much
in the process,
this place
is more 2015
as seen from 1955,
all chrome and black
plastic leather
and glass tables
and a full wall of windows,
reminds
me of that cool, futuristic car
Studebaker
made right before
it went out of business,
full of nerds and geeks
and yuppies with their noses
buried
in their laptops, except
for that talkative guy
with dirty socks
lying
on the sofa
watching CNBC

don't get too close
or he'll tell you what he thinks
about anything
.
.
.
everything

it will take me a while
to get comfortable here
but i think i'll give it
a try








I have three poems now by William Heyen from his book Lord Dragonfly, Five Sequences, published by The Vanguard Press in 1981.

Each of the five sequences in the title is a collection of short poems. These three poems are from the fourth sequence, titled, for reasons known to the poet but not to me, XVII Machines.

Born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York, Heyen received a BA from the State University of New York at Brockport; he earned a doctorate in English from Ohio University in 1967.

He taught American literature and creative writing at his undergraduate alma mater for over 30 years before retiring in 2000. In addition to Lord Dragonfly, his other books of poetry include Depth of Field, Noise in the Trees, The Swastika Poems, Long Island Light, Erika: Poems of the Holocaust, Pterodactyl Rose, Crazy Horse In Stillness, Pig Notes & Dumb Music: Prose on Poetry, and Diana, Charles, & the Queen. He also authored a novel, Vic Holyfield and the Class of '57.

Now, from XVII Machines.



Machines To Kiss You Goodnight

Under the world's mountains
fossils tell the old story:
Coal flowers shine
in their own black light.

Machines, rooted in bedrock,
question and answer themselves, recall
their dreams of numbers,
the sweet possibilities of fire.

Rockets hiss as though praying
for release, for the long arc under the sun,
then to tongue the earth again,
to kiss you, to flame.


The Machine That Kills Cats

In an advanced technological society
the licensing of machinery
is the sole province of the state,
forever inviolate,

except for the patriotic few eccentric
sometimes angry inventive mechanics
and scientists whose daily food
is also the bread of common good,

and therefore I have sailed the seas
in full knowledge to please
those like myself who favor rats
and birds, and hate cats.

As a first gift to men
I built my machine
to hound them in their dark alleys,
or among vines and lilies,

where it clamps its iron jaws
on their backs, claws
their green eyes out with steel wires,
and sets them afire

until they burn to black dust.
My machine is the first
of many such whose one thought
is to track and kill the cat.


The Machine That Collects Butterflies

Today is a lepidopterist's delight:
monarchs, swallowtails, rare finchwings
flutter and gambol in the meadow like lambs;
zephyrs bend the long gasses to waves.

Moving on a soft rush of air,
following your eye that follows
the single elusive butterfly
you've been searching for for so long,

the machine whispers a fine spray
that rainbows in the gold light,
brings your prize down to your feet
like a leaf: dead, beautiful,

and perfect, even the dust on its wings
shining for years in your glass box.








This is the second "album" of five albums of poems being created by Alex Stolis, based on the music of the alt-rock group, "The Replacements." Each poetry album will be based on the songs in a Replacement album.

This is a ambitious challenge Alex has set for himself and I am very grateful to him for letting us go with him as he creates each piece.

Here's the album Hootenanny.


Alex sent me an image of the original "Replacements" album cover, but I can't get it to post here.

Sorry, Alex.





Hootenanny (1983 Twin/Tone Records)


Producers: Paul Stark, The Replacements, Peter Jesperson.
Recorded at the Stark/Mudge Mobile Unit warehouse, Brookyn Center, Minnesota 1983


Paul Westerberg - Rhythm guitar, Vocals, Drums
Bob Stinson - Lead guitar, Bass
Tommy Stinson - Bass, Guitar
Chris Mars - Drums, Guitar


Liner notes:

we were found out
too late -
there was too much too fast
and so little
so soon.

back then, the entry was never full
so there was always a way to get in
and just when we figured which way to run

the curves became dull
the hangovers became sharper.
the trick was to look over the edge

drop everything at once, then disassemble
our frustration into pieces small enough
to dissolve in thin air


Tracks

Hootenanny

Color me impressed

Within your reach

Lovelines

You lose

Treatment Bound


Hootenanny

hey where's Bob?

Let's forget how many nights we left ourselves
stranded, drive to Duluth or Madison and watch our words
burn like straw men

whaddya mean there's no more?

remember that only primary colors
can be blinded by the sun

what the fuck, keep it rollin'

and the days when we could rest
easy have been tossed over our shoulders -
side streets and alleys are littered with our past,

ok...

there's no warmth and we're still
getting lost in the shuffle of mumbled promises
between former friends.

...Hootenany in E


Color me impressed

Alice Blue

waking up in Rapid City, hung over and bled white
she wanted to turn back the clock and make me
say I love you

Kelly Green

a punk rock Veronica Lake with black
fishnets and a loaded gun - we were long
dead before the first drink was poured

Jade

lipstick traces and burnt coffee,
everything else went out the window
when she lost her nerve

Ruby

L.A.'s in a blackout, San Francisco
can't remember my name and she fucked
up our alibi before the lights went up

Sandy Brown

Seventh Street entry and a blue eyed girl wasted
beyond her years - the last great pick up
line fell flat broke on the pavement


Within your reach

I'll steal the words from your mouth
make them my own
and when the last moment is wrung out

of the last drink, we can run headlong
in the same direction, follow the smoke sifting
its way under the door
then bookmark our thoughts,
pray for shadows and forget how to walk
in a straight line

because it's easier to believe the world is flat,
when you're broke and desperation becomes
the softest shoulder to lean on


Lovelines

I'm a Sagittarius and enjoy the simple things in life like flowers, bonfires, Chinese art. I'm 5'3", 110lbs, long straight blonde hair. I like to read and listen to music. If you are at all interested send me a message and I'll get back. Box 86345

Tonight, the sky is dressed in black
with gold trim; its silk feet bound
by crisscross moons

it's 2AM and the crush of water running
in the bathtub next door
sounds like a Chinese fortune

I sit here,
think of cutting my teeth on the scar
that resembles a bird's feather
on your thigh,
parallel
to the curve of your hip.

Instead, I cut my teeth
on the round skin of an apple,
picture Madam Butterfly

covered to her neck,
petals and stems floating
around her breasts


You Lose

back when misery was glamorous
the streets were tethers that kept us warm and broken,
we were caged with clipped wings
and unshorn hair

tomorrow, loss will be bundled like straw
and left to dry
in a crisp November sun

but for now,
there is no enchantment
in remembering:
there is no warm skin, no angels, no flights
of fancy only the remains of our bones
bleached by the cold

blame it on rain that can shred a conversation
until I love you
turns to later baby
to not a chance motherfucker


Treatment Bound

the bartender says it's time to go,
winks at me through last call and pretends
to pour a long count

we're all frightened of winter
and its bitter cough, wary of the cold sun


she's got nothing, not even god on her side
but twenty dollars later she drinks
me under the table

it arcs a path through this brittle day
and we get lost in layers of sin


I want to take her home, whisper her name
in my sleep but the only sound left is the clink,
clink
of quarters and dimes against glass

waiting for forgiveness to blot out the moon
and erase the dirt from our memories


she tells me there is nowhere
to go but here
and we're running, fast as we can








Mary Jo Salter was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1954 and was raised in Detroit and Baltimore, Maryland. She received her B.A. from Harvard University in 1976 and her M.A. from Cambridge University in 1978. In addition to her own poetry, she has been an editor at the Atlantic Monthly and at The New Republic, as well as coeditor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry. She has taught at Mount Holyoke College since 1984 and has been vice president of the Poetry Society of America since 1995, as well as professor in the Writing Seminars program at Johns Hopkins University.

Salter has six collections of her poetry, including Henry Purcell In Japan, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1985, from which I have taken the following poem.



Welcome To Hiroshima

is what you first see, stepping off the train:
a billboard brought to you in living english
by Toshiba electric. While a channel
silent in the TV of the brain

projects those flickering re-runs of a cloud
that brims its risen columnful like beer
and, spilling over, hangs its foamy head,
you feel a thirst for history: what year

it started to be safe to breathe the air,
and when to drink the blood and scum afloat
on the Ohta river. But no, the water's clear,
they pour it for your morning cup of tea

in one of the countless sunny coffee shops
whose plastic dioramas advertise
mutations of cuisine behind the glass:
a pancake sandwich; a pizza someone tops

with a maraschino cherry. Passing by
the Peace Park's floral hypocenter (where
how bravely, or with what mistaken cheer,
humanity erased its own erasure),

you enter the memorial museum
and through more glass are served, as on a dish
a blistered grass, three mannequins. Like gloves
a mother clips to coatsleeves, strings of flesh
hang from their fingertips; or as if tied
to recall a duty for us, Reverence
the dead whose mourners too shall soon be dead
,
but all commemoration's swallowed up

in questions of bad taste, how re-created
horror mocks the grim original,
and thinking at last They should have left it all
you stop. This is the wristwatch of a child.

Jammed on the moment's impact, resolute
to communicate some message, although mute,
it gestures with its hands at eight-fifteen
and eight-fifteen and eight-fifteen again

while tables of statistics on the wall
update the news by calling on a roll
of tape, death gummed to death, and in the case
adjacent, an exhibit under glass

is glass itself: a shard the bomb slammed in
a woman's arm at eight-fifteen, but some
three decades on - as of to make it plain
hope's only as renewable as pain,

and as if all the unsung
debasements of the past may one day come
rising to the surface once again -
worked its filthy way out like a tongue.








Some of us just never grow up. Some of us just don't want to.



the cheerleader

my doctor
is a young woman, and,
though she's gained some weight
since she got married,
she still carries
the looks and sunny disposition
of the cheerleader
she must have been,
the kind of woman/girl
who produced in me
great adolescent lustings,
entirely futile
as it always turned out,
when I was fourteen or fifteen

now,
nearing my 65th birthday
i see her every three months,
exposing
details of me
and my evermore sagging body
that would have sent my pitifully self-conscious
younger self
to hiding in his room
behind lock doors
until it was time to leave town
for college,
which he would have done
sneaking out on a Greyhound bus
at a quarter past midnight

i try very hard
to appear healthy
when i see her - wouldn't want her
form a low opinion of my
prospects








Next, I have a poem by Natasha Trethewey from her book Native Guard published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2007.

Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1966. She earned an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University and M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts.

Her first collection of poetry, Domestic Work, was selected by as winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

Since then, she has published two more collections of poetry, including Native Guard, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Bellocq's Ophelia.

She is Professor of English at Emory University where she holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry.



Pilgrimage

   Vicksburg, Mississippi

Here, the Mississippi carved
      its mud-dark path, a graveyard

for skeletons of sunken riverboats.
      Here, the river changed its course,

turning away from the city
      as one turns,forgetting, from the past -

the abandoned bluffs,land sloping up
      above the river's bend - where now

the Yazoo fills the Mississippi's empty bed.
      Here, the dead stand up stone,white

marble, on Confederate Avenue. I stand
      on ground once hollowed by a web of caves;

they must have seemed like catacombs,
      in 1863, to the woman sitting in her parlor,

candlelit, underground. I can see her
      listening to shells explode, writing herself

into history, asking what is to become
      of all the living things in this place?


this whole city is a grave. Every spring -
      Pilgrimage - the living come to mingle

with the dead, brush against their cold shoulders
      in the long hallways, listen all night

to their silence and indifference, relive
      their dying on the green battlefield.

At the museum, we marvel at their clothes -
      preserved under glass - so much smaller

than our own, as if those who wore them
      were only children. We sleep in their beds,

the old mansions hunkered on the bluffs, draped
      in flowers - funereal - a blur

of petals against the river's gray.
      The brochure in my room calls this

living history. The brass plate on the door reads
      Prissy's Room. A window frames

the river's crawl toward the Gulf. In my dream,
      the ghost of history lies down beside me,

rolls over, pins me beneath a heavy arm.








Though this is not the season for summer rain, we did have our first rain here in months, making this poem by friend and fellow San Antonio poet Margaret Barrett Mayberry a timely addition to this week's "Here and Now."



Summer Rain

Splotches of rain thud softly,
Swaddling, soothing and warm,
A comforting overcast blanket,
Laid gently by a mother sky.

Pungent perfume of summer flowers,
Mingling with sensuous smells from the soil,
Sun bleached, baked and thirsty,
Guzzling and surrendering an herbal aroma.

I inhale the goodness of the earth,
The ragged weeds, seeds and crushed grass.
The electric green of a summer storm,
Shocks my senses with its neon nearness.

The soft wetness spreads like silk on my skin,
Splashes in spirals down waiting drainpipes.
Opalescent droplets hang heavy from gutters,
The only sound the muffled thud of rain.








Here are a couple of poets from Aloud, Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, published by Henry Holt & Company in 1994.

The first poem is by Gavin Moses.

Moses, once a reporter for People magazine, now, or, at least, in 1994, a student at the Harvard Divinity School.



Poison

first heard of the infection
in jr. high school back in
ardmore, pennsylvania joey b said he
read somewhere in central africa there
wuz a sickness men got that could not be cured
years later, in my papers read the infection
wuz from green african jungle monkeys
wuz told our govt wuz testing
new germ warfare on people of color
as monkeys
then, heard only white men got the infection
that it came from haiti from white men who slept with ducks
sheep and island boys
then some Black people in my building started coughing
incessantly, started going to prayer services with me
on wednesday nights, would come over and tell me their -
his - stories, once outta fear, i boiled a cup after one with
the infection drank from it, then threw it away, wuz afraid
the infection would bleed through its pores like poison.



The next poem is by Nancy Mercado.

Born in 1959, Mercado is a director of and writes for the Roberto Clemente Center. Her poem, Milla, was mentioned honorably for the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. She is editor of Longshot magazine.



Milla

Mi abuela, Puerto Rico

Milla lived eons ago
When sandals pounded dirt roads
blazing hot under palm tree lined skies
Milla's long dark hair flowed side to side,
Glistened in the noon light.
Mahogany skinned,she shopped;
Platanos,yucas, a bark of soap.
Milla worked,
Striking clothes against wooden boards,
gathering wood for evening meals,
Feeding chickens,hogs,dogs,
And roasters at dawn.
Milla traveled only once
To Chicago.
A color-faded photograph serves as document.
Smiles and thousands of hugs
For the grandchildren on a park bench.
Milla's a century old
And still remembers every one of us
Even those left over in the U.S.
She still carries a stick
Certain of her authority
over four generations.
Milla outlived two world wars,
Saw the first television,
The first electric light bulb in her town,
Hitler, segregation,
The Vietnam War,
And Gorbachev.
Milla can speak of
The turn of the century land reforms,
Or the blinded enthusiasm
For a man called Marin
And the mass migration of the 1950's.
Milla can speak of her beloved husband,
sugar cane cutter for life.
She can speak of the love of a people,
Of the pain of separation.
Milla can speak of the Caribbean Ocean,
The history of the sun and sand
and the mysteries of the stars.
Milla maintains an eternal candle lit
Just for me.
Milla will live for all time.








There's a geezer table in every city and town, probably everywhere in the world. In cities the size of San Antonio, there are probably thousands of them.

This is my geezer table. Although I joke around with the table's regular crew, I don't sit at it. Not ready to make that step yet.



too late

the geezer table
is one short today

Robert,
of the long white
sideburns
who can quote
from memory everything
Rush has said
for the past 15 years,

is absent

which is a worry,
given the average age
at the table
is at least 10 years older
than me,
all subject
to the miseries
and unexpected calamities
of old age

it is not good
when one
does not appear
where and when
one always appears

is he lost and confused
wandering
in his car
down I-10,
heading for El Paso
when all he wanted to do
was make his regular short trip
to the coffee shop

or is he stroke-afflicted,
lying
on the cold tile
in his bathroom,
unable to get up, unable
to call

or is he dead

telephone calls
are made,
tracking begins

should they do more?

would he be embarrassed
if they went to his house
and he came to his front door
in his pinstripe Hugh Hefner pajamas, awakened from
a long-overdue late-sleep?

but what if the worst has occurred,
should they risk their own
and his embarrassment?

men,
decisive
in their youth,
cannot decide what to do

but
then,
Robert comes in and takes his seat

howdy, fellas,
what's up, he says
as he sits

you're late, they say,
we were going to buy your coffee today

but
you're too late








The next poem is by Luci Tapahonso from her book Saanii Dahataal, The Women Are Singing.

Tapahonso was born in Shiprock, New Mexico where she grew up on a farm within the Navajo culture. She received her B.A. and M.A in 1980 and 1983 respectively from the University of New Mexico. She has taught as assistant professor of English at University of New Mexico and the University of Kansas, Lawrence.



The Pacific Dawn

It is spring in Hilo, Hawaii,
and the Pacific dawn is brilliant with color.
Early on, it is bright pink, streaks of gold line the clouds.

     It awakens me
     drawing me to the window
     to pull back drapes,
     fill the entire room with the dawn.

I lie back down to sleep again.
Birds outside the window talk noisily.

I am tired my eyes ache

     and I want to sleep and sleep;
     nurture my body and let my bones soak
     in quiet breathing and soothing thoughts.

But it is this: the dawn and the pounding ocean below:

     clouds rearranging themselves over and over.
     I breathe this air, gentle with alive flowers,
     and cannot sleep.

Not far from here, Pele stirs, she sighs, and it is a thick stream
of hot steam atop the dry volcano. She sees him - the dark handsome one
with a moustache. His hat is new and fine. Pele sits up and takes
a deep breath - she likes the nice things. His hat blows off and whirls
downward to the center of her home. He reaches after it,
but it is lifted away. "Oh Pele," he says, smiling, "it is for you
I wore the hat."

Just yesterday, I felt her strength,
brimming beneath the molten island.
I leaned over the rim of the black volcano
and sprinkled corn pollen, whispered a prayer:

          I recall first Man and First Woman.
          I recall the first perfect ear of white corn.
          I recall the first perfect ear of yellow corn.
          i recall the dust of my desert home.

I left the Zuni bracelet; perfectly shaped turquoise stones
set in smooth white silver and earrings, long thick jaatll oot.
She loves the most beautiful of everything.

I understand that I was destined to see this dawn

     to say this prayer
     and I am helpless in this beauty:

     the huge flowers I couldn't have imagined,
     the lilting songs of the throaty chanters,
     the nurturing stories of long ago,
     and those who spread luau before us
     as if we have just come home.

It is here that my dreams take on an unnamable restlessness,
and the heavy currents of the Pacific force themselves into my memory.








Some of these poems, they can make you think, you know. Though not always in the direction the poet probably meant you to take.

Here's a case in question.



on reading the poem Cow by Federico Garcia Lorca

i am reminded
of how often i worry about the meat i eat,
not because i'm a vegetarian
or because i think it is necessarily
immoral to eat other creatures
but because of the way these other creatures
come to become an entree on my plate

if you've ever been to a slaughter house,
you know what
i mean

no respect
for the life being taken
and
in the end
no respect
for the life being eaten

so
if i continue to eat meat
which
i almost certainly will continue to do
i will endeavor to remind myself
of the creature whose living essence
sustains me

no more hamburgers for me

from now on
when i go to McDonald's
it will be ground cow on a bun to go

no more BLT

instead
lettuce and tomato
on toast
with mayo
and crispy slices of
pig

chickens
never got enough respect
for us to disrespect them
so we eat up our chicken breast
without thinking much about it

i haven't decided yet
how to deal with that

possibly

breast of feathered fowl
or maybe
leg
of feathered fowl
dusted
with secret spices
and fried
crispy

will have to think
a bit more
about chickens
i think








Next, I have two poems by Lawson Fusao Inada from his book Legends from Camp published in 1993 by Coffee House Press of Minneapolis.

Inada born 1938 in Fresno, California, is currently the poet laureate of Oregon. A third-generation Japanese American, at the age of 4, he and his family were interned for the duration of World War II at camps in Fresno, Arkansas, and Colorado.

Following the war, Inada became a jazz bassist, following the work of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday, whom he would later write tributes to in his works. He studied writing at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Oregon, and the University of Iowa and has been teaching poetry at Southern Oregon University in 1966.

The two poems I have for you reflect his two major poetic influences, jazz and his time in the internment camps.

The first piece below is taken from his title poem.



fromLegends from Camp


Prologue

It began as truth, as fact.
That is, at least the numbers, the statistics,
are there for verification.

10 camps, 7 states,
120,113 residents.

Still, figures can lie: people are born, die.
And as for the names of the places themselves,
these, too, were subject to change:

Denson or Jerome, Arkansas;
Gila or Canal, Arizona;
Tule Lake or Newell, California;
Amache or Granada, Colorado.

As was the War Relocation Authority
with its mention of "camps" or "centers" for:

Assembly,
Concentration,
Detention,
Evacuation,
Internment,
Relocation -
among others.

"Among others" - that's important also. Therefore, let's not forget
contractors, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and architects, sewage
engineers, and all the untold thousands who provided the materials,
decisions, energy, and transportation to make the camps a success,
including, of course, the administrators, clerks, and families who not
only swelled the population but were there to make and keep things
shipshape according to D.C. directives and people deploying coffee in
the various offices of the WRA, overlooking, overseeing rivers, city-
scapes, bays, whereas in actual camp the troops - excluding, of course,
our aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and fathers and mothers
serving stateside, in the South Pacific, the European theater - pretty
much had things in order; finally, there were the grandparents, who
since the turn of the century, simply assumed they were living in
America "among others."

The situation, obviously, was rather confusing.
It obviously confused simple people
who had simply assumed they were friends, neighbors,
colleagues, partners, patients, customers, students,
teachers, of, not so much "aliens" or "non-aliens,"
but likewise simple, unassuming people
who paid taxes as fellow citizens and populated
pews and desks and fields and places
of ordinary American society and commerce.

And then, "just like that," it happened.
And then, "just like that," it was over.
Sun, moon, stars - they came and went.

And then, and then, things happened,
and as they ended they kept happening,
and as they happened they ended
and began again, happening, happening,

until the event, the experience, the history,
slowly began to lose its memory,
gradually drifting into a kind of fiction -

a "true story based on fact,"
but nevertheless with "all the elements of fiction" -
and then, and then, sun, moon, stars,
we come, we come, to where we are:
Legend.


I. The Legend of Pearl Harbor

"Aloha or Bust!"

We got here first!


II. The Legend of the Humane Society

This is as
simple
as it gets:

In a pinch,
dispose
of your pets.


III. The Legend of Protest

The F.B.I. swooped in early,
taking our elders in the process -

for "subversive" that and this.

People ask: "Why didn't you protest?"
Well, you might say: "They had hostages."


IV. The Legend of Lost Boy

Lost Boy was not his name.

He had another name, a given name -
at another, given time and place -
but those were taken away.

The road was taken away.
The dog was taken away.
The food was taken away.
The house was taken away.

The boy was taken away -
but he was not lost.
Oh, no - he knew exactly where he was -

and if someone had asked
or needed directions,
he could have told them:

"This is the fairgrounds.
That's Ventura Avenue over there.
See those buildings? That's town!"

This place also had buildings -
but they were all black, the same.
There were no houses, no trees,
no hedges, no streets, no homes.

But, every afternoon, a big truck
came rolling down the rows.
It was full of water, cool,
and the boy would follow it, cool.
It smelled like rain, spraying,
and even made some rainbows!

So on this hot, hot day,
the boy followed and followed,
and when the truck stopped,
then sped off in the dust,
the boy didn't know where he was.

He knew, but he didn't know
which barrack was what.
And so he cried. A lot.
He looked like the truck.

Until Old Man Ikeda
found him, bawled him out.
Until Old Man Ikeda
laughed and called him
"Lost Boy."
Until Old Man Ikeda
walked him through
the rows and rows,
the people, the people,
the crowd.

Until his mother
cried and laughed
and called him
"Lost Boy."

Until Lost Boy
thought he was found.


I wish I could do all 25 "Legends" here, but can't. I'll bet, though, you can find them somewhere on the web. It's worth the search.

Instead of more legends, here's the other side of Inada's poetry, the jazz side.



Bud Powell

   "Parisian Thoroughfare"

Shops gleaming wares,
windows streaming with the streets of commerce as fragrance
from a nearby bakery fills and gilds the air
burgeoned to the brim with birds, butterflies, blossoms,
rising and falling
calls of children quickening the courtyards,
women whisking walks in the sunlit
briskness of rhythm
propelling, pulsing the entire populace, the entire
thoroughfare into action after the night's refreshing rain
promising spring thick with brilliance,
the surprising
turn of events where everything turns out happy...


("Hey, cut it, man!")









Next, we have this poem from our friend from Liverpool, Mick Moss.



Funeral of a Dead Good Poet

When your light had gone
we came to see you off
at the great red sandstone edifice
battered by a bitter wind
and cold as death inside
the mock gothic vaulted cavernous space
echoed with appropriately poetic words
as poet followed writer followed poet
with tales of a life lived large
eulogy for a fat boy bullied
but creative and curious
who wanted to paint everything
even the paving slabs in Canning Street
who believed that communication was bigger
than the limitations of language
A trumpeter played a muted blues
the last jazz rites
and I thought of angry young men
rule breakers and risk takers
a generation who were among the first
to say "fuck you"
only eloquently
I misread the program and could have sworn
"commendation" read "comedian"
one wouldn't have been out of place
as top turn after top turn read or played or sang
I wasn't the only one of the capacity crowd
who felt a desire to applaud
Roger McGough reminded us that Dylan Thomas begged us
not to go quietly when our light goes

I came away feeling
like I always do after a funeral
That they are not for the dead
nor about death
but for the living
and about life

2001 - after Adrian Henry's funeral








The next poem is by Bill Roberts from the Summer 2001 issue of Rattle - Poetry for the 21st Century.

This is from the biography Roberts wrote for Rattle

"Bill Roberts lives in Bloomfield, Colorado, with one wife and two dogs. He habitually accepts job offers, then retires precipitously. currently a part-timer at the Los Alamos Labs - but not for long. Poetry came late in life after he'd invested much of his savings in subscriptions to little lit mags, a few dozen of which publish his works. Bill writes when he's tired - almost always - so he writes a lot.



When Dinahshore Roamed

Her delicate bones
Are barely settled,
But once she roamed
This diminished planet,

Eating of its veggies
And fruits and nuts
And the occasional cheeseburger.
singing its praises

To the sky,
From peak to peak,
Shore to shore,
This talented

and now extinct Dinahshore,
So perfect God made only one.
It's been tough going
Since you left, Dinahshore,

But, if it pleases you,
I'm still seeing the U.S.A.
In my Chevrolet...
Though it leaks oil badly.





Photo by Dora Ramirez Itz




I wrote this last week, the night our first solid freeze of the year was predicted.



freeze warning

freeze warning
last night
and people all over town
were hustling,
digging old blankets
and plastic covers out of their garages
to cover their plants,
to protect their plants from the ravages
from winter's late arrival

not me

i figure
any growing thing tough enough
to survive our fifteen month drought,
the worse since 1870-something,
ought to be able
to survive a little chill

and if they don't?

well,
too bad

i don't believe in coddling
the flora -
this is Texas
for crying out loud -
no place
for sissy plants around here

i used
to be one of those exotic plant
enablers,
spending hundreds of dollars on water
in dry times like today,
spoiling them
with fertilizers and plant foods,
even when my own refrigerator
was bare,
rushing to protect them
from all the normal weather systems
that make native plants strong

no more

if something dies
from drought it goes on my list
of plants never allowed to be in my yard again

same
for things that freeze

at some point
my yard
will be entirely flowered
by plants
with of history
of flourishing
though normal South Texas trials
and tribulations

in following this gardening philosophy
it is important believe
a weed
is just a flower someone doesn't like

i have banished weeds
from my lexicon

in my yard
anything
green
is a flower








Next, I have a piece from an under-appreciated genre, cowboy poetry. The piece is by Wallace McRae from the anthology New Cowboy Poetry, A Contemporary Gathering

McRae is a third-generation rancher, with a 30,000 acre cow-calf ranch in Forsyth, Montana. He is has been a part of nearly every National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. He was the first cowboy poet to be awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a recipient of the Montana Governor's Award for the Arts, and has served on the National Council of the Arts.



Hat Etiquette

There are rules of decorum and conduct
   to which genuine cowboys attest.
Call them mores, traditions or manners,
   they're part of the code of the West.
But cowpokes have got this dilemma,
   that confuses these sage diplomats.
It involves the whens and when-not-tos,
   concerning the wearing of hats.
The old rule concerning head covers says:
   "Hat-up when you work, or you ride."
"Tip 'em to women. But take John B. off
   when in bed, or when you're inside."
But whaddya do in a gin mill,
   bean shops or dances in town?
Where Resistol rustlersll filch it
   or some lowlife'll puke in its crown.
'N there ain't no such thing as a hat rack
   anyplace that I been of late.
So we all compromise with a tip back,
   baring pallid foreheads and bald pate.

What we need is a new resolution
   to settle this conflict we got.
So I come up with this here solution,
   a result of consider'ble thought:
"I move that we do like the Hebrews,
   wear hats from our birth 'til we die.
And never remove them sombreros.
   All those in favor, say 'Aye.'"








Now here a poem from our friend Laurel Lamperd from her midsummer home in Western Australia.



Epilogue of a Romance

Narcissus
    camellia
        prunus

three flowers of spring
the Chinese said
symbols of new life
new beginnings.

They ate plums
the deep wine fruit
oozing upon the lips.
She carried daffodils
dripping with bridal creeper.
He wore a pink camellia
in his lapel.

When winter struck
baring the branches of the plum
he was living with a divorcee
in Joondalup.
She had gone home to mother.








I got "flamed" some time ago by a critic who didn't believe I was nearly as serious about the goddess Poetry as I should be. It seemed an argument i was bound to lose, so I never responded to him directly. If I had, it would have been something like this.



reply to a critic who takes himself and me much to seriously

look
there are no babies
being fed here,
no tyrants being brought
to heel,
no visit
to the homebound,
no rehab
of housing for the homeless,
no justice
for the poor and downtrodden

there
are no cures here
for diseases
that maim and kill

no
philosophy
to light the way
to personal fulfillment,
no formula
for turning water to wine,
lead to gold,
scrap bobby pins,
electric toasters,
and old video games
to a clean, inexhaustible
energy source

there is none of that
serious stuff

it's
just a damn poem,
an old man's game,
an alternative to daytime tv,
a reminder that there is still life
in this husk and thought
in this drying
shrinking
brain

if you read it
or
if you don't
there will be no impact
on the reality
of our struggling
needy world

i can live with that





Photo by Dora Ramirez Itz




That's it for this week, less than two weeks before Christmas. Along with those sugarplums dancing in your head, remember this - all material presented in this blog remains the property of those who created it; the blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.

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