On a Rock in a Hard Place   Thursday, July 23, 2009

Photo by Andre Lamar

We run a little longer than usual this week, making room for some fresh, new stuff for you. Here's your preview.

William Carlos Williams
The Great Figure
Death the Barber
The Red Wheelbarrow

what we do until we can think about sex again

John Ashbery
The Story of Next Week

Thomas Snelgrove
Boy's Brigade

Carl Sandburg
To Whom My Hand Goes Out
The Dead Sea Apple
A Homely Winter Idyl

the threat of polite people to advancement of art

Arlene Ang
Six illustrated poems
There's a Postwoman in Your Bath
The French Maid Outfit Turned Up For Its Close-Up Today
Further On, With Richard
Please Meet My Table
Why Do I Show My Body
And She Ripped the Turtle Soup Recipe

Philip K. Jason
Wisdom Poem

Maggie Rosen

Jennifer M. Pierson
The Important Things

Cornelia DeDona

Lynn Crosbie
Carrie Leigh's Hugh Hefner Haikus

an idiot's guide to happy living

Charles Simic
Pretty Picture
The Scarecrow
Love Talk
Love Worker

Sue Clennell

Jan Napier

Wistawa Szymborska
I'm Working on the World

the rug

Ani DiFanco
Your Next Bold Move

taking a moment to watch the kittens play

I'm starting this week with poems by William Carlos Williams from his early period, when he was still in the process of becoming the poet of the red wheelbarrow and plums in the refrigerator, before he, with Walt Whitman, became godfathers of the beat movement.

The first poem is from his collection The Wanderer, published in 1913.


Even in the time when as yet
I had no certain knowledge of her
She sprang from the nest, a young crow,
Who first flight circled the forest.
I know now how then she showed me
Her mind, reaching out to the horizon,
She close above the tree tops.
I saw her eyes straining at the new distance
And as the woods fell from her flying
Likewise they fell from me as I followed
So that I strongly guessed all that I must put from me
To come through ready for the high courses.

But, one day, crossing the ferry
With the great towers of Manhattan before me,
Out at the prow with the sea wind blowing,
I had been wearying many questions
Which she had put out to try me:
How shall I be a mirror to this modernity?
When lo! in a rush, dragging
A blunt boat on the yielding river -
Suddenly I saw her! And she waved me
From the white wet in midst of her playing!
She cried me, "Haia! Here I am, son!
See how strong my little finger is!
Can I not swim well?
I can fly too!" And with that great sea-gull
Went to the left, vanishing with a wild cry -
But in my mind all the persons of godhead
Followed after.

For the next poem, we move forward several years to Al Que Quiere! (To Him Who Wants it), published in 1917.


When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong:
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel-staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best
of all colors

        No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation.

And this, from Sour Grapes published in 1921.

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
to gong changes
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

And, finally, these two poems from Spring and All published in 1923.

Death the Barber

Of death
the barber
the barber
talked to me

cutting my
life with
sleep to trim
my hair -

It's just
a moment
he said, we die
every night -

An of
the newest
ways to grow
hair on

bald, death -
I told him
of the quartz

and of old men
with third
sets of teeth
to the cue

of an old man
who said
at the door -
Sunshine today!

for which
death shaves
him twice
a week

And the one everyone knows, almost 90 years old and still as fresh and bracing as the day it was written.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Here's another of my adventures in trying to be a poet. At this rate, I may never make it.

what we do until we can think about sex again

i was working
at my poem
of the day
she walked
in, about five-
four, long dark
hair, long, long
hair hanging
almost to the
beginning curve
of her butt -
and a very nice
butt it is i notice
as she passes -
tight white dress,
short, about mid-
thigh, and did i
so tight
i can see
of the freckles
on her rear,
yes, that same
rear end, the
very same
slightly above
hangs her dark
straight hair

i know
it is a moment
in her life
when every man
she passes
has to stop
and breathe
deep, lost
temporarily in the
fantasies that
male nature
at even the
the natural
of the human
male firing
on all eight
cylinders, the
secret of our
rise from the
from which
we came, the
lingering imp
of that brut
that hides behind
all our best
and will not
leave us
until the day
we die

i don't think
get this about
us, rational
beings that
they are, they
view life
as an entirety,
sex a part
of that whole
thing called
life and living -
men see life
as what
you do to
kill time
until you can
think about sex

like me
this morning -
i could have
written a poem
deep in meaning
and purpose,
in fact i really
meant to do
just that -
one young woman
in a tight dress
with a well-shaped
rear twitching
when she walked
and long hair
and legs
up to, well,
you know where
walks past me
and i end up with

Here's a poem by John Ashbery from his book, And the Stars Were Shining, published by The Noonday Press in 1994.

The Story of Next Week

Yes, but right reason dictates...Yes, but the wolf is at the door,
nor shall our finding be indexed.
Yes, but life is a circus, a passing show
where in each may drop his reflection
and so contradict the purpose of a maelstrom:
the urge, the thrust.
And if what others do
finally seems good to you? Why,
the very civility that gilded it
is flaking. Passivity itself's a hurdle

So, lost with the unclaimed lottery junk,
uninventoried, you are an heir to anything.
Brightness of purpose counts: Centesimal
victorious flunkeys seemed to grab its tail
yet it defied them with invention.
Stand up, and the rain
will be cold at first in your pockets.
Later, by chance, you'll discover supper
in the sparkling, empty tavern.
A nice, white bed awaits you;
your passport's in there too.

Next I haveThomas Snelgrove an almost new friend of "Here and Now," appearing here as he did once a couple of years ago. I'm glad to have him back.

Tom is 21 years of age. He was born and raised in England and lives in a small town called Felixstowe. He says he loves listening to and writing music, almost as much as poetry. He says that although he's been in shipping his whole working life, he'd rather be reviewing music.

Boy's Brigade

barely a man,
with a toy in his hand,
with all the joy and excitement
of the latest addition
to the playstation,
Xbox and Nintendo Wii,
silently trudging through the
rock hard terrain,
they'll be an element
of public debate
to this one,
I can guarantee that,
people already getting their
backs up over here,
"the next Vietnam" my boss says,
obviously with different and
morally correct political motives,
for once
and of course an appearance
from us Brits,
still all that bang, boom,
break, crash, smash,
but this is a war
and a war worth fighting,
I'm afraid,
...but this is a war
worth fighting that we're not winning
and I can't see that changing
anytime soon.

Next, I have three short poems by Carl Sandburg from Selected Poems. The poems were taken from Sandburg's book In Reckless Ecstasy , his first volume of poetry, printed in 1904 by his professor and mentor Phillip Green Wright.

To Whom My Hand Goes Out

The unapplauded ones who bear
  No badges on their breasts,
Who pass us on the street, with calm,
  Unfearing, patient eyes,
Like dumb-cart-horse in the sleet!

The unperturbed who feel the oldness -
   All the sadness of the world -
Yet somehow feel the sacredness
   Of grime upon the hands,
And even know the rush of pity
   For those who know not
That some Power builds a callus out of blisters.

   The eyes! the eyes that pierce
The dust and smoke of unrewarded toil
   And count it gain and joy
To have lived and sweat and wrought
   And been a man!

The Dead-Sea Apple

Had it been beauty past my reach,
   Or far beyond my humble kin,
There would have been a tint of joy
   In all the pain of longing then.

But that the red, sweet hues should fade
   Into a dust, and nameless ash,
And promises to gray-sick rot -
   O God, that sight and sense thus clash!

A Homely Winter Idyl

Great, long, lean clouds in sullen host
   Along the skyline passed today;
While overhead I've only seen
   A leaden sky the whole long day.

My heart would gloomily have mused
   Had I not seen those queer, old crows
Stop short in their mad frolicking
   And pose for me in long black rows.

This is serious business. I'm telling you!

the threat of polite people to advancement of art

polite people
are a real threat to artists,
even to bush-league poets like

what am i to make of it
when a polite person compliments
something i've done - is it good manners
or is it true appreciation, true recognition
of the superiority of my work

were they truly moved by my art
or are they just trying to move on
to some subject less controversial

if i know i'm up against a polite person,
calibrations are required, how many exclamation
marks mark true approval, is "WOW" good enough
or must i hold our for "WOW!!!!!!!" before
i accept the polite person's response as showing
real enjoyment and not just,
well, the mark of a well-mannered person
who does not feel it polite to be less than
appreciative of something
another person has put their
heart and expressive skills into, like,
"Wow, grandma, i've been so hoping you
would give me another of your tasty
homemade fruitcakes - no, none now
please, i just ate - but can't wait
to get home to have a great big piece"

a real problem is when you are
dealing with someone not familiar
to you so you can't tell
if you're dealing with a true
appreciator of your work or just
another polite person.

this, a case of the paradox
of the truth-aversive critique -
a person who knows you well
will not want to make you feel
bad due to exposure to the
full blast of critical review because
by golly you're a friend and friends
need to stick together and be
aware of friends' feelings, while
the person who doesn't know you
at all will be hesitant to begin
the relationship by telling you your
epic poem is crap good only for
his backyard compost pile, not worth
the computer widgets that cause it
to glow on the screen, that glow
the result of electronics and not
the effervescence of your product

best for the artist, i think, is the
horse's ass whose critiques
are nothing more than exercises
in destruction for the sake
of destruction

it is from these harsh critiques
that the artist learns to
appreciate the strength
and value of his work

either that,
or they give up and go into

Sim by Arlene Ang

I have something new and special this week, featuring our friend and four-time Puhcart nominee Arlene Ang.

Arlene has been with us before, with poems from her book, The Desecration of Doves, published in 2005. At the time, she lived in Italy and I believe she still does.

This week, we feature Arlene with six illustrated poems. We haven't done that before.

I should tell you that I know nothing about Sims, Arlene's method of illustration for these poems. She can tell you much more, including, for example, important information such as, as she says, "Arlene Ang means lobster thermidor in Simlish. It is one of the dishes included in the staff cafeteria menu of The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. If interested in trying out varieties of Arlene Ang at an area near you, please consult your local directory at www.leafscape.org." I suggest you make the trip.

Anyway, here's some fun with Arlene's Sims and their poems.

Sims by Arlene Ang

There"s a Postwoman in Your Bath

As you can see you're not exactly
arranged for fire rescue. You left the toilet seat up again.

Which is to say there's a reason the licking
of stamps has been abolished. What does a postwoman

know of indoor plumbing, everyone says.
Then she appears one day, like superstition

or Jesus Christ Superstar, knee-deep in the water
you're sitting in. There are dead skin cells

behind your knees, but she is wearing a blue uniform
with a name tag called Maurice. Somehow

this makes you feel worse. Had the showerhead
been a bullhorn, you could be listening

to a real hangover. She's nowhere near asking you
to sign here please, but this is only because

she is distracted by the alcohol percentage
in the shampoo you use in place of a real mother.

There aren't many places to hide.
If only for this reason, you continue washing.

Sims by Arlene Ang

The French Maid Outfit Turned Up For Its Close-Up Today

Of course, I'm pissed.
It was scheduled for a photo shoot
six weeks ago. I should've combed my hair
while I still had doctors in the wall mirror.
No, I haven't been drinking
again. Sobriety itself is the animal. My ex-husband
painted honest-to-goodness sofas into cows
for a living. Personally, I can do
weirdos. I like Chinese take-aways
myself. Still some days the French maid outfit
smells of all the food that went wrong
in my house. It has a plunging neckline
instead of a lover. Cat's pajamas,
Dr Vick calls the state of perpetually arranging
a special night for someone
as if it was really worth it.
I owe him an apology for the way I treat
his pictures in the shower.
He wears a rabbit's paw chain
around his waist to hold the camera.
I don't remember asking him in.
He makes me shake my fists at him
like an experimental drug.
It's all right, he says.
He's slipping on the gorilla costume.
He has everything under birth control.

*** revision of "The Gorilla Suit Turned Up For Its Close-Up Today," published in the Zygote in my Coffee (4th Print Edition, August 2007).

Sim by Arlene Ang

Further On, With Richard

  I'm in love. In love with extra-long acrylic noses. I'm wearing one of them. There. I'm hanging out my clothes. I'm hung up on Richard. Richard's bunny slippers. The ones that ended up in my pockets as rabbit head keychains. Pocketses, they would correct me, as if I could be wrong. A wrong turn can drive you national tv crazy, they say. The voices are shiny, itemized as homeland security even though they sound foreign. They come unabridged from the dictionary, pages 568-642. After all this time, I still have my ambitions, my fridge with its 1964 turkey leftover. I keep staring at my feet. They are furry around the toes. Mannish, like Richard. Potentially, I've got what it takes to make a rabbit head keychain. I can hold several keys. I have faith that one of them unlocks a car. Not the car I learned to drive before undergoing gingivitis. It's a Buick - all dents and Swiss cheese holes on the hood. My ex-spouses have had a rough ride. They're not ashamed to undress in the middle of a busy street. Richard, I hear him soiling himself in the hallway, in a night made of rabbit hair and something odd. Marble.

Sim by Arlene Ang

Please Meet My Table

  It's Formica. We're in, what you would call, a relationship. One day I woke up under it. I know. It looks better on film. You look as if you haven't lain under one for sometime. At least, that's what my hairdresser says. She uses saran wrap to cover her furniture. It was a bad idea inviting my neighbors to the New Year's Eve party. You're bound to learn these lessons once you're seeing someone you should stay away from. A therapist, for one. Or a spouse with sweaty hands. I can still fit my first marriage into a coffee mug. Thirst can drive animals out of the cave art. I've recently moved from Cincinnati myself. Scabs never lie. I'm not sure I should've stuck my head out the window. I like to observe what I vomit, watch the fizzle. That night the fireworks burst at ten-second intervals into flower-shapes. Love me, love me not. I find that if I lie softly under the table, I can identify the feet of those going in and out the room. You shouldn't talk politics before you've put on your teeth. That's my grandmother's advice. A bed of egg sandwiches is still a bed.

***previously published in Zygote in my Coffee (issue #93, 08/06/07.)

Sims by Arlene Ang

Why Do I Show My Body?

The anonymous letter leaps to the screen.
Sunday morning coffee swirls steam beside
the mouse. I am grateful everyone is at Mum's.
Like reflected lights on a disco ball,
the rotator switched on, men dance to mind.

Could it be the Uluru National Park guide
whose eyes whistled up my mini-skirt when I
bent to collect his coin? That was twenty-six
years ago. He moaned deliriously about wombats
while I burrowed deeply into his faded jeans.

The most likely remains the Alemain archivist.
He had big dreams, long monologues that begged
subvention for his telluric sounding rocket,
a poor tongue when it came to French.
We separated in anger; he must be 92 by now.

Sweetly, I revive the hotel manager in Mumbai.
He was a gentleman, taciturn and rational
when it came to laying his fingers on a woman's
skin. Eighteen hours nonstop, we generated
heat in bed under unclean sheets and slept.

Nothing compares to the Taranaki bellhop
in Sri Lanka, the only one without a camera.
His station wagon, its rust like unwashed
excrement, was economical. We broke springs
in the backseat that day and called it love.

At 56, married with three children, I am suddenly
implicated in indecent exposure, perhaps
adultery. I do not panic. I calmly open
the attachment. Later, my husband finds
the worm, raises hell for all the wrong reasons.

*** previously published in flashquake (Volume 6, Issue 2).

Sim by Arlene Ang

And She Ripped the Turtle Soup Recipe

It was her husband's secret.
She could smell his after-sex cigarette
from it folds. Alice: how else
could she have called this paper cut?

A kitchen draws out many
sharp knives. Like valentines folded
into soup recipes. She knew
there was more where it came from.

He said he could cook easily
for 500 guests. What is a stolen tart
made of? She emptied what
recipes she could into the saucepan.

His. Hers. Their children.
Singed pepper choked the curtains
brown. She tossed in
the cayenne. She shook the curry.

She pestled his golf balls,
his blue pills. And still all she could
smell was the other woman's
ejaculate on her bleeding finger.

*** previously published in Wicked Alice (November 2006)

Hungry As We Are is an anthology of Washington area poets published by The Washington Writers' Publishing House in 1995.

I have two poems from the anthology, beginning with a poem by Philip K. Jason.

At the time the book was published, Jason was a teacher of literature and creative writing at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He had published ten books in 1995, including two collections of poetry.

Wisdom Poem

Chew slowly
not only for the taste,
but for the rich noise
of that great mill of your maw
and for the brazen flexing
of those muscled hinges.
Eating is all of this,
and more.

It is waiting
a long time
between swallows.

Fell those twinned harrows
arc apart, meet, rub,
release, and meet again -
one glad curve partly
enclosing the other.

And your tongue,
that old dodger,
let it have its head,
sliding and swirling about
like Peggy Fleming,
our cleaning rhe blades,
sore with delight.

Eating is all of this
and more.

The next poem from the book is by Maggie Rosen.

In 1995, when the book was published, Rosen taught English as a Second Language and had worked as an editor and writer specializing in education.


He is my student of the five senses:
a seventeen-year-old-boy, two years into American,
out of Sierra Leone. His language is not here,
and his tongue meets words they have to know
but do not meet the sense of: Olfactory, larynx, neuron.

Avoiding my eyes, he words the book,
asking it to speak, spare him as middle man.
My inward net casts far into a clear pool,
pulls up stars of words, a gurgle of laughter.

He knows what walking means to legs. He knows without a
we would be like tiny ants. Without a brain
we would be like our books, telling without saying
a page of eyes with no sight.

He could draw me his meanings,
he could tap them with his feet like any young boy.
We depend on waves, he wanting, the letting go,
a nod that means no while it says yes,
a blank.

We are waiting at the foot
for the mountains to send wind.

And, finally, from the anthology, I have this poem by Washington D.C. poet Jennifer M. Pierson

The Important Things

she wanted to name a child Cosmo or Delilah or Ustis
something grand and memorable
she wanted a son taller than she a football-playing son
a blond son
she wanted to be a star in the evening sky
the one that everyone sees
she wanted to get married just for the memory
to have a bouquet of long white roses to throw
and a thousand-dollar gown
she wanted to lust after someone dark and greasy
someone wrong for her definitely wrong
she waned to kiss a stranger a man
or a woman kiss them hard
then walk away into a crowded street a parade
and become someone's dream
she waned long curly red hair and big boobs
and perfect nails
she wanted women to envy her no to hate her
she wanted to drive a blue Porsche
down to the very edge of the Grand Canyon alone
she wanted to be Jacques Cousteau and
she wanted to roam the Alps
she wanted to live in a cave in India for forty years and
talk until the sun rose with the Dalai Lama or
someone dead magical and dead
she wanted a guru and she wanted God
she wanted God to visit her in her cave
to give her messages special secret messages
she wanted to die to be buried at sea
to have fish peck at here until she was bone
bone white and covered with weeds
most of all she wanted to remember
the very moment she was born

As you'll see later in this issue, we've developed a little klatsch of "Here and Now" friends in Australia. The same is true, also, in Hawaii where we have four friends, beginning with Alice Folkart who have joined us. Three have appeared in the last couple of issues.

And now, here's the fourth, Cornelia DeDona, who says she lives in Hawaii on an estate nestled beneath the Koolau Mountains.

Connie has published two books, Meadow Pause and Boogey Fever. You can learn more about the books by going to


Connie has joined her friends at the Blueline's "House of 30," which is where I first read and enjoyed this poem.


Get into
my canoe.
Let's paddle out
into Kaneohe Bay
to the Sandbar.
Let us make a plan
to stick together
rain and
Our oars
marking time
in sequence.
Focused and
on our goal
as one
and get there.

Here's a strange, bitter, funny poem by Lynn Crosbie from her book Miss Pamela's Mercy, published by Coach House Press of Toronto in 1992.

Crospie is a Canadian poet and novelist, born in 1963 in Quebec and presently living in Toronto.

Carrie Leigh's Hugh Hefner Haikus

Hef brings me flowers
tiger lilies, ochre veined
downcast, sleek black cups

small shadows, are the
puckers in his pajamas
where his skin caves in

tired profligate, I
sigh and pour the oil along
your circular sheets

thinking of all the
times, or women on this bed
glossy old bunnies

I imagine their
breasts, plate of fried eggs, a row
of tonsured monk's heads

his tongue slithers, gaunt
voluptuary, ugly
old man, my eyes close

when I roll his name
Ner. along my tongue, like the
line of cold test tubes

thin bottled semen,
he wants to plant it, deeply
in my flat belly

Hugh junior, and, or
Carietta, a child is
packed in dry blue ice

in silky pajamas
they have an emperor's crest
it is dark in there

but it's cold as
the green jacuzzi, bubbles
are clouds on its face

I will crush the glass
with the fingers in his back
and pile on my rings

and all the fur coats
and move down the circular
stairs, bloated with gold

the flowers are a
venus-flytrap, with red curls
flames and noxious breath

his betrayal gives
me granite fists, girls scatter
movie stars crumple

as I run away
from the gaudy prison cell,
of tinsel and skin

I'll sue him and write
and build a home, in the
desert, on the sun

a sequined empress,
a mirage - in loungewear and
harlequin glasses

Everybody has to have a guiding principle to live by. Here's mine.

an idiot's guide to happy living

how are you?
they say, by way of polite greeting

great, i say,
where i started

is part of my philosophy
for getting through the day

being of good cheer
whatever the temptation to be otherwise,
that's my life strategy

assume the worst is past,
for even if it isn't
why ruin a perfect, sunny day
with thoughts of dark and stormy skies

it's an idiot's guide to happy living,
this good cheer philosophy,
denying the truths of close attention -
but a happy idiot
i think i'd rather be
than any of those others
so miserably aware

I stopped by the used book store earlier today and picked up several books, including this fun (but overpriced) book with poems by Charles Simic and drawings by Howie Michels. The book is Aunt Lettuce, I Want To Peek Under Your Skirt, published by Bloomsbury in 2005. I can't share the drawings, which remind me of Shel Silverstein in his earlier Playboy days, but I can share several of the shorter poems.

Pretty Picture
    For Kurt Brown

She thought being stark naked
Made her more interesting to cows,
So she strolled over with a glass of red wine
To pay them a visit,
Greeting each in turn
While they stared at her with bloodshot eyes.

One occasionally saw a fox
Step out of the woods.
Where, where? she cried out,
And set at a trot across the field.
We saw her climb over the wire fence
And start picking daisies.

In the end, we didn't dare call her back,
Worrying it might draw attention
Of the mailman due to drive up any minute.
In the meantime, only the crows
Flying back and forth over our heads
Appeared to be frankly scandalized.

The Scarecrow

God's refuted but the devil's not.

This year's tomatoes are something to see.
Bite into them, Martha,
As you would into a ripe apple.
After each bite add a little salt.

If the juices run down your chin
Onto your bare breasts,
Bend over the kitchen sink.

From there you can see your husband
Come to a dead stop in the empty field
Before on of his bleakest thoughts
Spreading its arms like a scarecrow.

Love Talk

The truth is, we are nearer to heaven
Every time we lie down.
If you doubt me, look at the cat
Rolled over with its feet in the air.

A sunny morning after a storm
Is one more invitation to paradise.
So we leapt out of bed together
Having every intention to dress quickly.

Only to dally naked
Giving each other little pecks
As we buzzed with love talk
Edging our way back to bed.

Love Worker

Diligent solely in what concerns love;
In all else, dilatory, sleep-walking, sullen.
Some days you could not budge me
Even if you were to use a construction crane.
I work only at loving and being loved.
Tell me, people, ain't it right
To lie in bed past noon
Eating fried chicken and guzzling beer?

Consider the many evils thus avoided
While finding new places to kiss
  with greasy lips.
Easier for Schwarzkopf to take Kuwait
Then for us to draw curtains.
The sky is blue. It must be summer already.
The blind street preacher is shouting down below.
Your breasts ad hair are flying -
Like the clouds, the white clouds.

Laurel Lamperd, good friend of "Here and Now," recommended us to her friend, fellow Australian Sue Clennell, who, in turn, recommended us to her friend, also a fellow Australian, Jan Napier.

Friends that they are, I thought it'd be cool to present them together in the same issue.

So here they are, Sue first. Her poem Scarborough was previously published in Mayk Magazine.


The bus is littered with sand scaled youths.
Pirate palms pirouette on the horizon,
canvas roofs yawn
covering the cleanskins.
Today is a combo of choc milk and grit
saris and snickers              with
Mona Lisas against a toweling backdrop.
At the markets            a grain boled horse
frim fram      Indian glitter      chipped mirrors.
Do seaside porches lattice us into
cream bowl contentment?
Are we licking our limbs
with Oz self-satisfaction?
There must be a reason
poets turn their gaze insland.

Before we get to Jan's poem, here's something unusual for us. We don't usually use photos of our contributors. But then, never before have we had two contributors who are friends and who have a picture of the two of them together.

So here it is, a picture of our two poet-friends Sue and Jan.

Left to right Jan Napier & Sue Clennell

Next, here's Jan who traveled the length and breadth of Western Australia for 20 years, working in Side Show Alley (the Oz term for Midway). Her experiences are summed up in her book All The Fun Of The Fair.

Now Jan has turned her attention and her talents to poetry. Here's her poem.


Plundered from the wreck
of your dangerous nights,
I am a prize, your yo ho ho,
and pieces of eight, me hearty,
to be taken as salvage
and spent as you please.

Rum drunk and a swagger
you heave and skirmish ahoy,
amid scalloped flounces,
wild, frolicsome sheets,
and as dark's doubloons
revert to brass,
set course to roister
under different stars.

I shout a beach of words,
coarse,      sibilant    sounds.
Gulled, I skim the surface
of your fishy deeps,
squall, and storm,
see you wonder.

The next poem is by Wistawa Szymborska, from Wistawa Szymborska, Poems, New and Collected, 1957-1997 published in 1998 by Harcourt. The poems in the book were translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.

Szymborska was born in 1923 in Poland where she lives today. She has worked as a poetry editor, a columnist, and a translator. She received the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature.

I'm Working on the World

I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools,
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

Here's one chapter: The Speech
of Animals and Plants.
Each species comes, of course,
with its own dictionary.
Even a simple "Hi there"
when traded with a fish,
makes both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

The long-suspected meanings
of rustlings, chirps, and growls!
Soliloquies of forests!
The epic hoots of owls!
Those crafty hedgehogs drafting
aphorisms after dark,
while we blindly believe
they're sleeping in the park!

Time (Chapter Two) retains
its sacred right to meddle
in each earthly affair.
Still, time's unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble,
moves seas, rotates a star,
won't be enough to tear
lovers apart: they are
too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows.

Old age is in my book
the price that felons pay,
so don't whine that it's steep:
you'll stay young if you're good.
Suffering (Chapter Three)
doesn't insult the body.
Death? It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you'll be dreaming
that you don't need to breathe;
the breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it's part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.

Only a death like that. A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;
you'd feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.

Only a world like that. To die
just that much. and to live just so.
And the rest is Bach's fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.

Here's another coffee shop horror story.

the rug

i am looking
at a man
with the worst toupee
i have ever

i am reminded
of high-gloss
aluminum siding
or the white plastic
they put around
new cars now when
they ship them, except
his toup is coal-in-the-hole
black, not white like
the plastic

it's hard
not to stare

the vanity
of middle aged men
is not something that can be
nor their capacity for denial

but this rug...

has the guy
ever looked in the mirror
after he puts it on
in the morning?

i don't see how he could,
and still walk
out the door with it on his head

maybe he's blind
as well as bald,
which seems to me
it ought to be the solution
and not the problem

i mean
how much can you care
about how you look
when you can't see yourself

not much,
i'm an optimist
by nature
and barring proof
from my own eyes otherwise
i'd just imagine my bald head,
if i had one,
as the chrome on a 1957 DeSoto,
the shining, blinding apex of me,
and assume i look

Next, I have a poem by singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco from her book Verses published in 2007 by Seven Stories Press in association with Righteous Babe Records.

The book includes terrific illustrations not credited to anyone other than a note that credits "design" by Ani DiFranco,Brian Grunet and Kyle Morrissey which may or may not refer to the illustrations.

The title of this poem seems familiar to me, though the text is not. So, it's possible I have used the poem before.

Your Next Bold Move

coming of age during the plague
of reagan and bush
watching capitalism gun down democracy it had this funny effect on me
i guess
i am cancer
i am HIV
and i'm down at the blue jesus blue cross hospital
just lookin' up from my pillow
feeling blessed

and the mighty multinationals
have monopolized the oxygen
so it's as easy as breathing
for us all to participate
they're buying and selling off shares of air
and you know it's all around you
but it's hard to point and say there
so you just sit on your hands and quietly contemplate

your next bold move
the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself

what a waste of thumbs that are opposable
to make machines that are disposable
and sell them to seagulls flying in circles around one big right wing
and left wing was broken long ago
by the slingshot of cointelpro
and now it's so hard to have faith
in anything

especially your next bold move
or the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself

you want to track each trickle back to its source
and then scream up the faucet 'til you face is hoarse
cuz you're surrounded by a world's worth of things
you just can't excuse
but you've got the hard cough of a chain smoker
and you're at the arctic circle playing strip poker
and it's getting colder and colder
every time you lose

so go ahead
make your next bold move
tell us
what's the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself?

Allergy prone as I've become since moving to San Antonio sixteen years ago I usually have a stopped up nose, so stopping to smell the roses doesn't do much for me. But that doesn't mean other things aren't worth stopping for.

taking a moment to watch the kittens play

coming home from morning coffee
i had one of those NPR driveway
moments, caught
by a piece of movie music
as interpreted by a French pianist

my appreciation of the music
first interrupted,
then enhanced by watching
the two kittens
the brave one,
the one with the little black
goatee-looking spot under his chin,
is working to bring down a small tree
by the door,
jumping at it, clawing at it,
wrapping himself
around the base of the tree
and clawing, clawing, clawing,
tractoring himself all the way around
the tree,
one claw-hold at a time

i think he thought he was winning
his battle with the tree
when he was beset by a sneak attack
by the other kitty, the shy one,
always last to the food bowl,
leaping from the swing by the door
to land squarely on little goatee's back,
the two of them rolling with kitten ferocity
across the the flower bed, kicking up
a kitty-sized storm of wood chips

shy kitty, the aggressor, disentangled her
self from little goatee and jumped
in a single bound back onto the swing

little goatee, freed from the distraction
of his sister, went back to his primary
opponent, the tree by the door, until
shy kitty, her retreat only a tactical feint
jumped again from the swing,
landing again on her brother's back, more
fierce kitty fighting ensued until shy kitty
once again took her tactical retreat, back
to the swing for sister-cat, back to the tree
for brother-cat - this pattern of attack
and retreat repeated four times before mama cat,
napping in the sun and having had enough
of this sibling-battling, put an end to it,
chasing the two kittens away
with the low pitched errrrrrrrrrrr you hear
when a cat reaches
the end
of its limited cat-patience

the French pianist and the kitten sideshow
i turned off the car and headed inside
for a blueberry pancake breakfast,
with fat little sausages and a glass
of very cold milk,
returning to his table
as the coliseum empties
and the games end for the day

That's it for this week. For next week, I'm working on poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Yang Wan-li, Luis Rodriguez, David Rivard, Naomi Shihab Nye, William Childress, and a surprise or two, at least to me.

Until we get there, remember, all of the material presented in this blog remains the property of its creator; the blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.

at 9:07 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering, have the copyright holders given permission for you to use their work? I know most if not all of the things you've reproduced here are not in the public domain.

at 11:59 PM Anonymous Arunansu said...

Allen, loving your compilation. Your blog gives me so much. I wish I could spend some more time with it.

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