Gulf Winds   Friday, April 03, 2009


IV.4.1.




All my images this week are from Corpus Christi, a city of about a quarter million (maybe more now) on the lower Texas Gulf coast. A wonderful city with terrific people, we lived there for 15 years before moving to San Antonio in 1993. I'd be happy to move back if I could convince myself I could ever adapt again to the heat and humidity, especially the humidity.

And here's what else we have this week.

Alice Walker
The Democratic Order: Such Things in Twenty Years I Understood
They Who Feel Death
Johann

Me
the old poetry biz

Susan Holahan
The Way the Truth
Rain

Kevin McCann
Familiar
Swing West

Stephen Dobbins
Scattered Oaks in Full Leaf

Me
i don't know what i want to do today

Sigfried Sassoon
In an Underground Dressing Station
Attack
The Rear Guard

Gary Blankenship
Pantun: English Brush Experiment
Reflections on Noise

Shiela Ortiz Taylor
What Mrs. Fish Said
When You Moved In

Me
Sunday morning

Carol Ann Duffy
Penelope

Alice Folkart
Out of Ink

Robert Bly
Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter

Me
flunking triglycerides

Ignorance is Blitz
Variations on the history o the world and human kind - Big Wars edition

S. Thomas Summers
Intentions
My Cancer Diagnoses in Three Parts

Ishley Yi Park
Korean Lullaby

Me
Cindy Crawford by Annie Leibowitz

Julia B. Levine
Napa
River Road

Me
cacophony

James Lineberger
been so long
where the heart is

Me
news hound









Here are three poems Alice Walker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Color Purple. The poems are from Walker’s book Once: Poems, published by Harvest/HBJ in 1968.



The Democratic Order: Such Things in Twenty Years I Understood

My father
(back blistered)
beat me
because I
could not
stop crying.
He'd had
enough "fuss"
he said
for one damn
voting day.


They Who Feel Death

(for martyrs)

They who feel death close as a breath
Speak loudly in unlighted rooms
Lounge upright in articulate gesture
Before the herd of jealous Gods

Fate finds them receiving
At home.

Grim the warrior forest who present
Casual silence with casual battle cries
Or stand unflinching lodged

In common sand
Crucified.


Johann

You look at me with children
In your eyes,
    Blond, blue-eyed
Teutons
Charmingly veiled
in bronze
    Got from me.

What would Hitler say?

I am brown-er
Than a jew
Being one step
Beyond that Colored scene.
You are the Golden Boy,
Shiny but bloody
And with that ancient martial tune
Only your heart is out of step -
You love.

But even knowing love
I shrink from you. Blond
And Black; it is too charged a combination
Charged with past and present wars,
Charged with frenzy
and with blood
Dare I kiss your German mouth?
Touch the perfect muscles
Underneath the yellow shirt
Blending cooly
with your yellow
Hair

I shudder at the whiteness
Of your hands

Blue is too cold a color
for eyes.

But white, I think, is the color
Of honest flowers,

And blue is the color
Of the sky.

Come closer then and hold out to me
Your white and faintly bloodied hands.
I will kiss your German mouth
And will touch the helpless
White skin, gone red,
Beneath the yellow shirt.
I will rock the yellow head against
My breast, brown and yielding.

But I tell you, love,
There is still much to fear.
We have only seen the
First of wars
First of frenzies
First of blood.

Someday, perhaps, we will be
Made to learn
That blond and black
Cannot love.

But until that rushing day
I will not reject you.
I will kiss your fearful
German mouth.
And you -
Look at me boldly
With surging brown-blond teutons
In your eyes








It was late, getting to my daily poem ten hours late and still more to be done when it's done.



the old poetry biz

getting
a late start
on the old poetry
biz
today,
nearing what should be
but won't be
the end of a long
and mostly unproductive
day - most of it
going to
and coming from Austin
for lunch with the offspring -

my first child, i call him,
whataya mean, first child,
he says, i ain't dead yet
i say -

nice lunch
at a little Mexican cafe
and bakery on 1st street
past Ben White Blvd.,
pollo en mole, pretty good
beans and OK tortillas

but purpose of visit
unfulfilled
since the college book store
closed early, so
back to SA, dinner
at Jim's, grilled pork chops,
two of them, which works out
well with a bone for each dog
and do they love me when
i walk in with a pork chop bone

you bet

then to the supermarket
to rent a rug shampooer,
resting in the back
of my truck even as we
speak - it does seem like
speaking to me, you know,
hope it's the same for you

some time soon
i'm going to have to
quit this poem -
which you may have noticed
i'm dragging out a bit -
and go home and shampoo
the carpet - it's the cat, you see,
my ownership of this calico
feline recognized
informally most of the time, becoming
etched on stone in the winter
when it gets cold
and the cat would rather piss
in the den than go outside
and you have to watch her
every minute and it's D's
considered opinion that
i don't watch my cat,
understand,
my cat,
nearly close
enough
so that's why
i have a carpet shampooer
in the back of my truck,
to be used tonight,
before D returns tomorrow,
from Brownsville, with
her mother, no less

she will enter sniffing,
her nose attuned
to any remaining evidence
that my cat peed on her carpet,
and you better believe,
when it comes to cat piss,
she has a nose like a bloodhound

i wasn't thinking about cat piss
until i started this
and now i wish i hadn't









Now I have two poems by Susan Holahan from her book Sister Betty Reads the Whole You, published by Gibbs-Smith in 1998.

Holahan was born in New Jersey and grew up on Long Island. She received her Ph.D. in English and her J.D. from Yale University. She taught creative writing at Yale College to pay law school tuition and daycare. Briefly, she worked at New Haven Legal Assistance and, from the late '70s through the early '90s worked as a journalist in New York and Connecticut. In the mid-'90s she taught writing at the University of Rochester. Currently, Holahan writes poetry, essays, reviews and lives in rural Vermont.



The Way the Truth

Nude weeping in door-
ways we don't normally
need much of. Time to stop flattering ourselves that
depression's metaphysical. Guilt we haul to every table
merely "resonates" like The Great Depression the way

the truth we plunge every
nickel we don't have into
only when we're dumped all the way down buys us
a blue-plate special maybe every other day. Depressed
jumps like the kid we met dragging a big, crammed,

black-plastic garbage bag
down Grand Ave. sidewalk
between lumps of used snow on an afternoon with
streetlights. Work made him warm, and his struggle
to leave a trail with the bag that we couldn't read

if we'd wanted to. He kept his
head so far down and his ears
so on-task that a casual word
with our (30) toes mere inches
apart made him leap. We might have pulled a gun.


Rain

Now the stories moving on the wires
teemed with children . A baby put to
sleep among clothes in a dresser drawer
suffocated because he couldn't pick up
his head. A mother came home
exhausted from a late shift to fall into
bed with her baby. She rolled over
sometime in the night, and killed him.
(That summer it rained babies, one after
another falling out city windows.) And
a young woman uptown lay on a bed
next to her small son. Someone came
up the stairs and put three bullets
through the door, bullets meant for a
guy who didn't bring the crack he
promised. Wrong door - but one bullet
caught the little boy. A reporter caught
the woman's boyfriend on the stairs. He
liked the kid, the boyfriend said -
teaching him stoop ball that afternoon.
One minute the kid was there, then,
fast as Chinese takeout, he was gone








We have another new friend of "Here and Now" this week, the Irish poet Kevin McCann.

Kevin has been a full-time writer for 16 years now. He's published six limited edition pamphlets in England. He also writes for children. The two poems I'm using this week were recently published in a short pamphlet called I Killed George Formby (erbacce-press).



Familiar

Wattle and daub
Not gingerbread,
The black cat,
Goldeneyes
Swallowing this scene :
A witch,
Half-chewed fragments
Of Greek and Latin
Spilling from her mouth,
Peels willow stalks,
Bruises aromatic leaves.

The scene is familiar
But the cat is not hers.

It's exactly the other way round.


Swing West

(i.m. Paul Donnelly - Poet)

There is no-one in this silence
Yet as carefully you pick out
One Selected Poems, the new notebook,
Pages still blank and a pen that's
Fully charged : you saddle up and
Swing West, the rising road before
You, the rising sun at your back.

The light is young.

The day is fresh.

And you come to a clearing
Embraced by white willows,
There's a pool for clean water,
Sweet grass for good grazing,
Cook bacon and beans.

You know there's no hurry
So sipping cold beer

You'll let the words be.








In the next piece, Stephen Dobyns returns with his character "Heart," combination bodily organ, poet and philosopher. The poem is from Dobyns' book, Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides, published by Penguin in 1999.

Novelist and poet Dobyns was born in New Jersey, in 1941. He graduated from Wayne State University and has an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Dobyns has published ten books of poetry and twenty novels, winning great recognition and numerous awards. Currently living in Boston, he has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including the University of Iowa and Boston University.



Scattered Oaks in Full Leaf

Why must calm and reasonable behavior make up
one's emotional exoskeleton, wouldn't it be better
to rage and run about and let a serene and sensible
disposition be the dominion of one's interior? Such
is Heart's belief. To illustrate he points to the people
who ride the bus he takes to work, reading newspapers
or looking from the window in apparent tranquility
while bitten nails and bent backs suggest an internal
landscape where primitive creatures gnash and feed
amid steaming vents, and the whole business tucked
in the victim's belly or cerebral equivalent. No wonder
most smiles on the street mimic a wince, that the spine
beneath the tailored suit duplicates a corkscrew shape.
How many people conceal a crime they think unique,
fantasies they imagine divide them from the human family,
the belief that their hands alone are stained by squalor?
Thus each feels he or she hides a secret, as if the facade
of good manners and sensible behavior formed a jail cell
in which a brute paced back and forth, a monster never
beheld on the planet. Is this why they walk so cautiously,
speak so precisely as if they feared the cage might break
and set loose this storied beast and they would be exiled
everlastingly? And so they strive to appear calm and keep
their faces vacant just to make certain their secret remains
unguessed. Wouldn't it be better if the business were reversed?
let's say the offense was obvious to all. Go ahead,
kick a nun in the butt, put a cork up a cop's snout. Heart
is willing to bet that once the crime was brought to light,
its size would shrink till tyrannosaurs turned to tortoise
and what stayed unique was that it stayed hidden for so long.
But even if someone decided to be bad, consider the calm
of the interior: green meadows stretching to the horizon,
scattered oaks in full leaf, a placed to linger when the outside
got wild, a necessary retreat; or this is how it seems to Heart
whose interior is like a sea teeming with malignant creatures
while the outside, at best, assumes a blue unruffled surface.
Good day, good day, he calls to one and all. The assertion
itself erecting the exoskeleton which fastens him together,
a framework without which he'd constrict to a violent jelly,
a cage protecting Heart's shy panther from public exposure.
Oh, how he'd prefer to permit his exterior rage as it might
while he crept away to the exact tranquility of his inner part:
morning light bedecking the palm trees, blue vaults ascending.








Ah, the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals...



i don't know what i want to do today

i'm not sure
what i want to do today

it's late
already - took
the little red atom bomb pill
the doc gave me,
so named
because with it one could sleep
through the first four rounds
of atomic warfare, first strike
and three response strikes
before the peace of the night
would be interrupted

there being
no extended nuclear war
intervention
last night,
i didn't get up
this morning
until nearly eleven - four hours
past my usual rising hour

the pill is my reserve
escape capsule - a week
of no restful sleep because
of back problems and its turn
comes - rarely, though since
i don't like the way it makes me feel
the morning after

like this morning,
when all i really want to do
is go back to bed

civilization
crumbles around me

the Muse
hangs crucified
from her cross

and the totality of all my ambitions
remains centered
around my favorite fluffy pillow,
my soft blue blankie,
and Kitty curled
at my side

so
maybe i do know
what to do today








Next, I have three poems by Siegried Sassoon from War Poems featuring the poems he wrote during and/or based on his military service during World War I. The book was published by faber and faber in 1983. Many of the poems were first published days, sometimes just few weeks, after they were written and transmitted by Sassoon from the war's front lines. He wrote some after the war, based on material from his journals.



In an Underground Dressing Station

Quietly they set their burden down: he tried
To grin; moaned; moved his head from side to side.

.....

"O put my leg down, doctor, do!" (He'd got
A bullet in his ankle, and he'd been shot
Horribly through the guts.) The surgeon seemed
So kind and gentle, above that crying,
"You must keep still, my lad." But he was dying

2 June 1917 (begun in April)


Attack

At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
In wild purple of the glow'ring sun,
Smoldering through spouts of drifting smoke that
    shroud
The menacing scarred slope, and, one by one,
Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
The barrage roars and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed
With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear,
Men jostle and climb to meet the bristling fire.
Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop.

Craiglochart, 1917

Poet's note: From a note in my diary while observing the Hindenburg Line attack.


The Rear Guard

(Hindenburg Line, April 1917)

Groping along the tunnel, step by step,
He winked his prying torch with patching glare
From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air.

Tins, boxes, bottles, shapes too vague to know,
A mirror smashed, the mattress from a bed;
And he, exploring fifty feet below
The rosy gloom of battle overhead.

Tripping, he grabbed the wall; saw some one lie
Humped at his feet, half-hidden by a rug,
And stooped to give the sleeper's arm a tug.
"I'm looking for headquarters." No reply.
"God blast your neck!" (For days he'd had no sleep)
"Get up and guide me through this stinking place."
Savage, he kicked a soft unanswering heap,
And flashed his beam across the livid face
Terribly glaring up, whose eyes yet wore
Agony dying hard ten days before;
And fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound.

Alone he staggered on until he found
Dawn's ghost that filtered down a shafted stair
To the dazed, muttering creatures underground
Who hear the boom of shells in muffled sound.
At last, with sweat of horror in his hair,
He climbed through darkness to the twilight air,
Unloading hell behind him step by step.

22 April 1917

Poet's note: Written at Denmark Hill Hospital about ten days after I was wounded. Grosse, after seeing me there, wrote to Uncle Hamo that he
thought I was suffering from severe shock. But if so, could I have
written such a strong poem?









Here are two poems by Washington poet and friend, Gary Blankenship, from his book A River Transformed: Wang Wei's River Wang Poems as Inspiration. It's a terrific book, still available , I think, through Lulu. Check it out.

Gary is a retired federal manager. He has been widely published on the web and in print journals in the US and abroad, including the Tanka Journal of Japan 2005 anthology, The Tanka Society of America quarterly and Seattle PI.

The first of these poems was previously published in Writer's Weekly and the second in Nightingale and Writer's Hood.



Pantun: English Brush Experiment

A brush dipped in ink touches plain paper,
wild herbs flourish ploughed under by my sneeze.
I'll seize you in tall grass, and we'll scamper
till dawn as each ensures the other's pleased.

A draft of wine to put me at my ease,
A fresh sheet joins those tossed upon the fire?
You hide behind drift logs, ever the tease.
When caught in white dunes, you claim to be tired.

On the wall an old drawing I admire,
before me only blank paper, dried brush.
As night comes, we huddle near a bonfire;
though sleepy, we know no reason to rush.

On my table is childish gibberish;
ink and brush hid with bills, legal papers.
Morning, groggy, we head home, damp brush pushed
rushing for early supper, warm wrappers.


Reflections on Noise

Soun-
one word
may be too much.

Noisome silence
runs backwards down your spine,
bottle stopper.
When to be done with words,
even one letter too many?

Strike words
before they strike you;
old bamboo breaks when bent.








Here are two poems by Sheila Ortiz Taylor from her book, Slow Dancing at Miss Polly's, published by The Naiad Press in 1989.

This is Taylor's biography as she narrates it.

"I was born to a large Mexican-American family in Los Angeles in 1939. Like many women of my time, I married, had two children, and divorced a dozen years later.

After I completed my Ph.D. at UCLA, Florida State University hired me to teach 18th century British literature. Gradually I drifted toward teaching in the creative writing program and helping to found a women's studies program. In time I was awarded an endowed professorship, served as associate chair of the English department, and am now retired as professor emerita.

My earliest novel, Faultline, has been called the first to feature an out lesbian Chicana protagonist. Published in 1980 by Naiad Press, Faultline was a small press best seller and has been translated into German and Spanish.

I have published six novels, a memoir, and a volume of poetry and am now at work on a new novel. Novel form appeals to me because of its preoccupation with time, change, family, identity, and perception. Historically, too, novels have invited experimentation and the crossing of boundaries.

I like to think of myself as a Gloria Anzaldua new mestiza. I am a Chicana lesbian writer, crossing social and artistic borders."



What Mrs. Fish Said

It was that Mrs. fish
sits in the sun room
afternoons
with the Raggedy doll
in her lap
whilst others
wheel off to their rooms
to steal naps
and bury old bones

It was me seen her granddaughter coming
the one from Minnesota
this one
all new looking
carrying upside down
a bed jacket somebody back home knitted
all wrapped up in tissue paper
and tied with blue ribbon

Mrs. Fish stares, see
like one of them Cousteau fish
underwater
surprised
to be
on T.V.

This lady
Mrs. Fish
with tissue paper skin
and little blue lines
leading
toward secret air

this lady smiles
letting go words
that swim
like minnows in schools
toward the niece

this lady saying kindly
"Life's strange"
then she leaning close to the girl
me leaning over the information counter
clamping the space to my ear
like a shell
to hear her say
"Life's very strange -
specially when you're strange"


When You Moved In

When you moved in
you brought your dog
and then your sister
who slept on my floor
in a velour bathrobe
a large ashtray
of dead cigarettes
set up like tombstones
by her head

The dog rose early
completing the trash man's route
before he could even wipe the sleep
away

But I saw
black plastic bags
agape
ravaged
strewn
crazily with eggshells
and coffee grounds
across my neighbors'
slumbering lawns

Your sister slept late.
Getting ready for work
we stepped around her.

When we came home
she was tired
of T.V.
and hungry too

I fed her.
I fed the dog.

At night
in my dreams
I knocked over garbage cans
ripped black sacks
without mercy
kneeled at the ashtray
beside your head

This morning
I watched
your finger
linger
on the snooze button
like a dreaming passenger
waiting for a bus

Instead of stepping
around
your sister and her ashtray
you packed them
in ziplock
The dog too.

Afterward I ate ice cream
out of the carton
standing at the kitchen window
licking rocky road
from a deep
cold
spoon








Like they say, it's the simple things....



Sunday morning

it's 10:30,
the movie we want to see
this week
starts at noon so we have
some time to kill

meanwhile,
i've had my breakfast,
the multiple coffees
needed to set the world
back to its proper
rotation,
and the Sunday morning pleasure
of both my local paper
and the Times
slowly read

D just out the door
for a walk
and some window-shopping

and me
here
with this...

making me think,
as writing a poem always
makes me think

this time about how much
pleasure
there is in these slow Sunday mornings
and how happy i am
i'm not hung over
as so often i used to be
because of the way Sunday morning
always followed the self-abuse of
Saturday night

and
being honest now,
it's not just Sunday morning
without a hangover
that's so great, but any morning
without a hangover
since there was a time i could find
a Saturday night most any day of the week

thank the gods of drink
for the hangovers
that began to start before the drinking
got me drunk - them,

and a good woman,
together,
all 12 steps reduced to 2

and 32 years of good Sunday mornings








Carol Ann Duffy, in her book The World's Wife, takes on the persona of the women behind the "great" men of history and myth, telling the story of the women usually restricted to supporting roles.

Duffy was born in Scotland in 1955. She grew up in Stafford, England and attended the University of Liverpool where she received an honors degree in philosophy. Author of several books, this one was published by faber and faber in 1999.



Penelope

At first, I looked along the road
hoping to see him saunter home
among the olive trees,
a whistle for the dog
who mourned him with his warm head on my knees.
Six months of this
and then I noticed that whole days had passed
without my noticing.
I sorted cloth and scissors, needle, thread,

thinking to amuse myself,
but found a lifetime's industry instead.
I sewed a girl
with a single star - cross-stitch, silver silk -
running after childhood's bouncing ball.
I chose between three greens for the grass;
a smoky pink, a shadow's grey
to show a snapdragon gargling, a bee.
I threaded walnut brown for a tree,

my thimble like an acorn
pushing up through umber soil.
Beneath the shade
I wrapped a maiden in deep embrace
with heroism's boy
and lost myself completely
in a wild embroidery of love, lust, loss, lessons learnt;
then watched him sail away
into the loose gold stitching of the sun.

And when others came to take his place,
disturb my peace,
I played for time.
I wore a widow's face, kept my head down,
did my work day by day, at night unpicked it.
I knew which hour of the dark the moon
would start to fray,
I stitched it.
Grey threads and brown

pursued my needle's leaping fish
to form a river that would never reach the sea.
I tricked it. I was picking out
the smile of a woman at the centre
of this world, self-contained, absorbed, content,
most certainly not waiting,
when I heard a far-too-late familiar tread outside the door.
I licked my scarlet thread
and aimed it surely at the middle of the needle's eye once
 &   more.








Here's a short piece from our friend in Hawaii, Alice Folkart.



Out of Ink

Too fast
they fly, the hours.
Hang on. There goes your life!
Not a race, so what's the hurry?
Slow down.

Can't see
a thing too fast.
Where am I? Who are you?
Drink this, taste that, write a sonnet.
Out of ink.








The next poem is by Robert Bly - a short piece that describes, exactly, how I felt a couple of weeks ago when we finally had three days of winter in a row.



Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter

It is cold and snowy night. The main street is deserted.
The only thing moving are swirls of snow.
As I lift the mailbox door, I feel its cold iron.
There is privacy I love in the snowy night.
Driving around, I will waste more time.








Seems you're never too old to have to put up with pop quizzes.



flunking triglycerides

i'm outside
on the veranda at Panera -
poetry alfresco
on a sunny afternoon

a heavy thunder storm
passed about an hour ago
and the air is sweet and clear
and the sunlight is the kind
that makes all the colors glow
brighter than seems natural,
like a landscape
painted in neon oils,
the breeze
right on that line between
shivery cool and shivery perfect

i love thunderstorms,
the thunder and the lightening
and the heavy rain on the roof
and the trees tossing in the wind

but i missed today's storm

first decent thunderstorm
in a year and a half
and i was
held up in my doctor's office

my quarterly visit -
follow-up to the quarterly labs

i hate these appointments -
it's like
when i was a kid
taking my 6-weeks report card home,
knowing the night would be long
and all hope for TV
should be set aside for 6 weeks
or until i convince my dad
that i had learned
my lesson
and all would soon be fine again

i can just hear him -

damn

flunked triglycerides
again

and look at that sugar level -
haven't you been paying any attention
at
all

and what's with this blood pressure
crap here -
everybody in the world pumps blood
for chrissake -
can't be that hard to do it right

you gotta
straighten-up-and-fly-right, kid,
get your attitude
more in line with your aptitude

you better
take care of
this stuff
or i'll take care of it
for you....

first
good
thunderstorm
in a year and a half

and i missed
it








Time for a humor break.

The next bits are from Ignorance is Blitz, history as extracted from college essays, compiled by Anders Henrikson.

The following are from the section on WW II.



The Germans took the by-pass around France's Marginal Line. This was known as the Blintz Krieg. The French huddled up and threw sneers at the Germans. Japan boomed Pear Harbor, the main U.S. base in southern California. American sailors watched in shock as the sky filled with Japanese zebras.

.....

Hitler's attack on Russia was secretly called "Operation Barbarella." The German invaders were popular for a while in Russia, but their habit of slaughtering innocent civilians tended to give them an image problem. The Russians defended Stalingrad fiercely as the city was named after Lenin.

.....

The Allies landed near Italy's toe and gradually advanced up her leg, where they hoped to find Musalini.

.....

Hitler, who had become depressed for some reason, crawled under Berlin. Here he had his wife Evita put to sleep, and then shot himself in the bonker.

.....

Stalin, Rosevelt, Churchill, and Truman were known as the "Big Three."

.....

World War II became the Cold War, because Benjamin Franklin Roosevelt did not trust Lenin and Stalin. an ironed curtain fell across the haunches of Europe.

.....

The ball of events and stoppers that were used to stop it from rolling only added to its momentum which kept it rolling.









The next two poems are by our friend S. Thomas Summers from two of his books, the first from Death settled well and the second from Rather It Should Shine.

Scott received his bachelor's and master's degrees from William Paterson University and is currently a teacher of English at Wayne Hills High School in Wayne, New Jersey.

You can check out more abut Scott and his books at his website at:

www.sthomassummers.webs.com




Intentions

After a night's
rain, pine

needles bow
to the hills,

railroad tracks
shimmer in morning

sun, stretch
across earth

like tinsel.
I'll follow the tracks,

toss stones
at wrinkled beer

cans, watch
a squirrel

burden the shade
of a dying ash.


My Cancer Diagnoses in Three Parts

1

A trio of ravens
pace a length of splintered
picket like expectant fathers;
cigars smolder
within each beak.
Smoke twists with late
morning fog, forms gray
pretzels salted
with a galaxy of gnats

2

Sparrows square-dance
in the shallows of street puddles,
preen feathers with rain water
garnished with drips of motor oil,
glazed with gasoline rainbows.

3

Squirrels pass a hash pipe
behind a chimney, spy Death
stirring in a hammock strung
above a bed of daisies. A clutch
of raven eggs tumbles from his pocket -
and he smiles. The sparrows
have swallowed too much gas.








The next poem is by Ishle Yi Park from her book The Temperature of This Water, published by Kaya Press in 2004.

Park is a Korean-American poet born in New York in 1977. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and she has performed it in the United States and abroad.



Korean Lullaby

1.

Last night, three words
from our Korean lullaby
entered my dream:
Du man gang...

Our old picture still exists,
buried in the silver suitcase;
you pregnant, me shy. I like us
frozen in those awkward, real stances.

We drive across state lines in silence
to avoid sitting at a dinner table
where any minute laughter can
spill in your face
like an overturned glass, upset
by a man who shares your bed
but not your language.

We were never young together,
and daughter is not how you see me
after three long drags in a clean kitchen,
two hours after we redden our knees
picking up slivers of clear glass
that sparkled linoleum like sunlit snow.


Arizona,
highland desert plains,
crocodile-cracked earth maze.
Driving across state lines,
twice, in silence,
the horizon tapped under
our windshield, car seats
smelling of Kent 100's,
burnt matches.

2.

There is a burning in the air
and she wonders where her mother is.

Edel saw Tootie gut another kid on Knickerbocker,
the sweet sound of curses up our route.
We halt and glaze.

A touch of hands -
what signifies lovers, friends,
drug dealers.

We're counting nights
unseen under boardwalks, in pool halls,
daring to die in August's riffs.

This flyaway night so weak, rubber-felt...

3.

I would like to remain like this always,

inhabiting quiet pools between music,
the acoustics of an empty heart.

I see this in Hoohemil's mouth
biting her baby Louie on the ass
as he crawls over the bunk bed,
laughter pealing through their dark apartment.

4.

It is not a coincidence that our mother died when we were young,
and none of us knows how to sing.

          - Suja

Crevice of water where you almost drowned,
the look on your face when you realized
I couldn't save you.

Beyond fairy pools and leper islands and silver dime-store turtles,

home.
Marked more by songs and shoelaces
than flags, songs folded.
Lullabies.

Just three words, the rest I cannot remember,
and you are not here to give them to me.








It was a really striking picture in a photo magazine that caught my attention. I knew i'd seen it before, but one detail had gone right past me.



Cindy Crawford by Annie Leibowitz

it's the nude
with the snake
set against a backdrop
of high foliage,
a garden gone back to wild

the girl is beautiful,
woman idealized,
soft white skin,
firm breasts -
nipples erect -
flat belly,
pubic area
covered by a demur hand
and the curling tail of the snake

and on the shadowed garden floor,
veined, wizened feet,
Eve's feet
preserved in some dark kettle
of magic
for a hundred thousand years

reappearing again,
living again,
below the long shapely legs
of this beautiful woman,
woman idealized
for our time,
standing on the feet
of the most ancient of women,
the prototype,
of all women since,
home again
in the garden








Next, I have two poems by poet, Julia B. Levine.The poems are from Levine's book Ditch-tender, published by the University of Tampa Press in 2007.

In addition to her poetry, Levine works as a Clinical Psychologist. As a poet she has received numerous awards, including the Discovery/The Nation Award, the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry, an Americas Review Award, the Lullwater Review Prize in Poetry, and a fellowship from the California Arts Council. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications.



Napa

At the restaurant, my father tells us
what the doctors said to him - Two years at most.

Outside, wild rye moves in the wind
No, he insists, when I ask him if he is scared.

Violet scarves of sunlight float out across the sky.
Driving home, the girls read the names of towns

we pass each time we come this way.
This is the closest we get to leaving. A dream

passing through the darkened houses, doomed yards,
The body of forgetting

just before it unbuttons a life, climbs backs into history's arms.


River Road

If memory can abduct you, can return you
    to the creek behind the school, a chill light
        making atonement of the foxglove,

then once again a man spreads pictures
    of naked women on the rocks before me.
        so that driving the river road tonight,

I am lying down again, in iris, waiting
    for the holiness he promised
        two bodies together would become.

And even the dusk that denotes the world's end
    for now; even the quiet snowing darkly around a girl
        outside the church, crying into her cell phone,

recalls me once more to the detective, slowly
    turning photos, apologizing, Sweetheart, I'm sorry,
        but i need you to take your time.


So that I may never know exactly where I am going
    as I speed home, listening to an American general
        recently returned from war.

He sounds calm, but sad. There were no plans,
    he says, quietly, No directives. I didn't know
        who wanted our help, and who wanted us dead.


And then he falls silent. If forgetting is a blessing
    then why is it impossible? Begin at the beginning,
        the radio interviewer says.

First I was a girl. And then a stranger asked to touch me.
    No, the creek was first. And iris. and foxglove.
    No, start over. First there was beauty.








A minor rant about people who drive me nuts.



cacophony

i have been waiting
to start writing
until the gaggle of
women behind me
and their whiney kids
leave, but i can't wait
much longer - the day
must start despite all

rich women from Mexico,
in San Antonio
with their banker/architect/lawyer
husband, here for their morning
coffee and chat-fest, taking over
my little writing corner and talking
talking
talking
talking
are they really that loud
or is just that their Spanish
is so fast I can't keep up

no,
they're really that loud,
everyone talking at once,
everyone trying to talk over
everyone else and the screaming
babies a situation for which the word
cacophony
was coined, probably a situation
just like this when some poor writer
trying for immortality
or, at least, a moment of
"hmmmm, interesting"
from some discerning reader,
was overpowered by such
cackling as continues behind me
even now - "christ, what a cacophony,"
the poor writer might have said,
drawing on an image of chickens
squawking in a barnyard,
inventing a word
forever perfect in its place

there was a temporary respite
just a moment ago,
when, for just a few seconds,
only one of the women was talking
and the shock of it reverberated
through the restaurant

but it didn't last long,
others
jumped in to fill the void almost
immediately

this poem
may or may not make sense -
the jangle in my ears
having transmitted to my brain

but i think it has
something to do with
rich people,
especially rich people
from third world countries,
accustomed
to living in the bubble of their
wealth in the midst
of poor people
and all others unlike them,
forever
hidden
from their view








I have two poems now from our friend James Lineberger, a retired screenwriter, sometime playwright , and full-time poet.

These poems are from Jim's book Dollhouse, one of eight volumes of poems and a full-length play written by him and available through Lulu (www.lulu.com/james-lineberger).



been so long

been so long since
i wrote anything on paper
but the other night
i woke up startled by the vividness of the dream
i'd been having and i stumbled
to the kitchen for a notepad and scribbled it out
thinking christ,
this one might really be the poem
that's been eluding me for
years and i was literally weeping for joy
but the next morning when i tried to read the thing
it didn't make
the slightest bit of sense
and the scrawling cursive looked like one of those shaky letters
my mother used to write
from the alzheimer's wing at five oaks
begging me
to come take her home
or she was going
to tell god to just kill everybody


where the heart is

on the redeye from
lauderdale
i was seated beside an older woman
and this was back when
smoking was still permitted on domestic flights
so i asked if it would bother her
and she said no that although
she didn't herself smoke her husband rest in peace
took his last puff the night he died
but still
i tried to ration them out and after
we had a few drinks
she asked why i was going to the midwest and all
of a sudden i found myself
telling her everything how you wired me
two hundred extra
to swap the charlotte return for a one-way to minneapolis
and home
no matter what happened now
this time it was for keeps
and of course
it was no such thing
but how to know that then
how does
anyone know anything for certain except one day
there's a space to crawl through
back to where you once imagined your life
could be
and i told the woman this told her
how my wife and i how
the kids how the job career aspirations how all
of it how i had nothing left
to hold on to

but you
and that damn face of mine did it again that look
of perpetual sorrow
for she wiped away a tear
and said
with a gentle smile that she was cold
and would i mind
putting the blanket over us
and when i got it down from overhead she
tucked it neatly around us as if
she were already home and switched off the light and turned
on her side with her ass
against my groin saying it'll be all right
you'll see
you'll do just fine








A cry of despair, this next poem is. A man who must have his daily newspaper, each day I find it shrunken with less to read.



news hound

i'm a vanishing
breed of
cat
i'm told, because
i start every day
at my favorite diner
with coffee and the local
newspaper,
followed by another cup of coffee
and a national paper

the young don’t read newspapers,
i'm told,
they get their news off the internet

but news can't be news
if it doesn't leave a little inky
residue on your fingers
and the latest doesn't crackle
without the crinkle and snap
of newsprint opened with a flourish
that spits out the world
since yesterday
in all its humor, hope, and horror

meanwhile
our local paper,
deals with reduced circulation
and a perception of too little value
at too great a cost
by raising their price, reducing
their news pages and laying off
reporters and daily columnists

the future of news,
i'm told, is an electronic box
the size of a pocket calendar
with pinhead buttons
and a screen the size
of a 43 cent postage stamp

i imagine
sitting at my diner
bleary-eyed in the light
of a barely-risen sun,
trying to push those tiny buttons,
trying read that tiny screen,
thinking,
i may,
already,
have lived too long








Though surrounded, as you can see, by my feathered fans demanding more, it's time to call it quits for the week.

Need I say, all of the material presented in this blog remains the property of its creators; the blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



Archives
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
Poems Niederngasse
BlazeVOX
Eclectica
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
zafusy
The Blogging Poet
Poetsarus.Com
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet