Poem from the Rooftop - June 19, 2009   Thursday, July 02, 2009

Photo by Chris Itz

Hear (and read) the poem from the rooftop here


Having heard, do not forget.

Meanwhile, our own efforts for the week include:

John Engles
Instances of Blood in Iowa


Japanese Death Poems by 9 Haiku Masters

Alex Stolis
Within your reach
Color me impressed

green and purple pills
behind the green door
Aii! Neda

Jimmy Carter
Alkways a Reckoning

Barbara Moore
Ice cream sundae blues
Note on freezer door


Sidney Wade

thinking about places i liked to go that have shut down in the past 12 months

Christopher T. George
Yoria Macedonia

Allen Ginsberg
Multiple Identity Questionnaire

Norman Anderson
Summer 1970

dreams of wet

Pierre Martory
The Landscape is Behind the Door

the magic flute

Wakter Durk

Sonia Sanchez

Ten untitled short pieces

& that's it

More of me than usual this week. Think of it as an overstocked sale.

I'm starting this week with a poem by John Engles, a poet I don't believe I've read before. The poem is from Engles' book Sinking Creek, published by The Lyons Press in 1998.

Engles was 76 years old when he died in June, 2007. He was a professor at St. Michael's College for 45 years. His book, Walking to Cootehill, was a Pulitzer finalist.

Instances of Blood in Iowa


That year at Iowa there were with me
Calvin and Veronica and Karl
and Gail, each thinking we loved the other - not
that it matters now, for Calvin leaped

from the cliffs at Palomar, and broke, and died
on the sharp screes at the base, and I
am as slow to memory as to love:
of Gail, Veronica and Karl I no longer know.


I make a picture of that year:
the engraving shows
the locks at Keokuk, about to close
on a black barge; a yellow mist;

and overhead, too high
in the orders of memory to clearly see
and give a name to, a giant bird
hanging in the sky, wings wide.


I try remembering how blood
beat in my wrist the day I stared
at the fat model, whose big breasts
were the first that I'd seen bare,
or the night I chanced on Veronica,
surprised, transparent, naked
as a ghost upon the stairs, clutching
a white cloth to her chest. But when I tried

to make of picture out of this
the burin leaped in my hand, and cleanly
tor the palm - whereupon the proof
displayed itself: red meat and yellow fat,

the white shine of the mortal bone before
blood welled and streamed
onto the copper plate, and dried.


Once, when I asked him why it was
he bothered to write poems, Karl sighed,
laid wrist to pale forehead, closed
his eyes, and cried: Because I must!

Blood deeply etched
the plate. For days
I scraped away at the dried crusts
with a palette knife, and meantime tried

to get my belly flat with fasting, but
it broke me, every time. One day I woke up
still full of blood and fat,
and was briefly considered for Suez,
though in the end, Ike spared my life
to such mean evidence of breath as this,
beyond which circumstance
not much. The ruined plate
I sailed far

into the woods. The nameless model hides
her breasts, like Veronica, and holds
a supine pose, all thigh and mottled
buttock. My hand is scarred. It shows.


As for the rest:
I mostly think of Calvin
who gives me back the lean and distant look
from far beyond return of favor for

the night he wrestled down drunk
crazy Karl, who'd run
a bread knife through my hand, with one
knee held him there, and took

my wrists and turned my hand palm-up,
his fingers streaming with my blood, his feet
in blood, blood everywhere. And I
still can and do

largely mourn for Calvin, who is dead,
and carried with him everything we knew -
how in the last good days of that last year
we nearly fled,
took to the boats, jumped ship
in Borneo, stayed drunk
in Peleleu, but in the end
did not. Blood leaps

in my wrists. I think
of Calvin with his arms like wings
stretched wide to hold him steady
to and air, and I

am standing on the sharp, receptive rocks
and looking up, the cold sea
at my feet, and he -
to hight to clearly name

in the last free instant, arms wide,
hanging there.

There was a big event recently, two actually, my wife Dora's birthday and my youngest niece's Quinceanera.

I'd been to several Quinceanera celebrations previously, usually for a cousin's, aunt-in-law's, grandmother's hairdresser's neighbor's daughter who I had not seen before and have not seen since.

It's amazing how much more fun it is when the celebration is for someone you actually know and care about.


June 20 -
D's birthday
and my niece's
quinceanera - in Hispanic culture,
the coming of age ceremony for
girls on their fifteenth birthday

as Padrinos de la Tiara,
D and i will do our part in the ceremony
by placing a crown on the head
of our Princess for a Day - i proposed
the frisbee method of placement
and still think it would be impressive
if we could do it from our second-row pew

but was overruled
as strict orders from the Princess
that Uncle Allen
to be kept on a short leash
were enforced

we will be going to the dance
after the ceremony
and i have been informed that
it being a dance, i will dance,
an activity certain to bring some measure
of entertainment to the evening, something
like watching a three-legged elephant
do the tango on a trampoline


given the dueling priorities today,
we decided we won't acknowledge
D's birthday until next weekend
when we'll head out
to Marble Falls for couple of days by the river,
the discussion remaining as to whether
these couple of days will be spent
at a bed and breakfast
or a regular hotel

being an only daughter
with six brothers
always had bathroom priority,
while, growing up one of a family of guys,
I always had to struggle to keep my place
in line at the bathroom door

meaning that
while D sees bed and breakfast places
as quaint and comfy,
i see them only as one more place
where i have to fight for the bathroom

I picked up an interesting book at the used book store this morning. The book, Japanese Death Poems, is a collection of "jisei", or death poems, traditionally meant to be written in the very last moments of the poet's life. The poets in this cbook are Zen Monks and Haiku poets.

I imagine I'm not alone in suspecting that most of these poets did not actually wait until engaged in their last gasp before writing these poems, however much tradition might demand otherwise.

The book is divided in two, one part Zen Monks and the other Haiku poets. This time, I've included only the Haiku poets. Next time I do the book, I'll do the monks.

I'll let you do your own Wikipedia search on the poets' names, beginning with one most readers will not have to look up.


Died in 1694 at the age of fifty-one

On a journey, ill:
my dream goes wandering
over withered fields


Died in 1819

A lone paulownia leaf
falls through
pure autumn air.


Died in 1897

I cast the brush aside -
from here on I'll speak to the moon
face to face


Died in 1786

Clouds drifting off:
the sight of
moonlit heavens.


Died in 1794 at the age of twenty-two

All freezes again -
among the pines, winds whispering
a prayer.


Died in 1790 at the age of twenty-one

How sad...
amidst the flowers of the spring equinox
a journey deathward.


Died in 1923 at the age of sixty-three

Cherry blossoms fall
on a half-eaten


Died in 1823 at the age of eighty-three

I wish this body
might be dew in a field
of flowers.


Died in 1675

bound heavenward,
ship of the moon.

Our friend Alex Stolis is a poet of the streets and neon lights and dark places and I love what he does.

These next poems are from a recent project of his. I think I might have used them before, but I don't care. I like them and this probably won't be the last time I use them either.

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

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 we even started drinking


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


L.A.'s in a blackout, San Francisco
can't remember my name and she forgot
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

Next I have four poems, another inadvertent series, I wrote on successive days during the early parts of the recent uprising for democracy and freedom forces in Iran. As folks who read my stuff know, I don't often approach things directly in my poems, preferring to slip in while nobody's looking with the things truly on my mind. That's true of the first three of these poems, but not the last.

green and purple pills

for some reason
i woke up this morning
thinking of Ray Stephens,
his song about A-hab the A-rab
which is probably pretty insulting
to Arab peoples
unless they have a sense of humor
from what i read in the papers
isn't allowed
in most Arab countries

i'm not sure why this was the morning
of A-hab the A-rab
except maybe it was the disappointing election
in Iran
but that doesn't make sense
since Iranians, including that Abbarabadaba guy,
are Persians, not Arabs
so everything i'm thinking about this morning
is just plain stupid

(it amazes me the way other people can write
whole books of poems without saying something stupid
while it seems i have to say something stupid
at least once in every poem - oh, well, can't
let periodic stupid storms interfere with the
full expression of my art or whatever)

they're rioting in Iran today
which demonstrates how they're
such a primitive country
while we're so much more advanced
and how they should look to us
for guidance
on how to deal with stolen presidential
since we had one of our own a few years back
and we didn't go rioting in the street
and causing trouble

we just wrote nasty poems
and fiery letters
to mostly disinterested newspaper editors...

stuff like that

or the Iranians could, maybe just zone out,
seek their center,
remember that from adversity
comes strength...
some say...
or just listen to some good music,
find relief in Stephens' recommended
remedy for mental and physical distress -
"Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated
Green and Purple Pills"

worked for me

behind the green door

i found a dim, cool place
to sit this morning
with good old fifties rock and roll
and i'd be just as happy
to sit here and do nothing
but this is my poem of the day time
so a poem is expected

but what kind of a poem,
a poem about what?

not about the weather,
i'm sick of the weather, it's hot,
and that pretty much covers it, and

not about politics,
i'm sick of that as well,
sick of responding with a geyser
of stomach acid at every dumbass
right-wing kook crap i read or see or hear -
people who were so wrong about so much
for so long, you wonder where they get the nerve
to say anything at all, and see there i went again
responding, making me pretty much as dumbass
as they are, except i'm not getting paid for it

and not about global warming - what's to be said
that people don't already know, not counting
those people, like those during the middle ages
who kept their personal plague-infected flea circus
at home when thousands
all around were being carried from their houses
in plague-carts for burning, wrap themselves
in a reassuring cocoon of denial

not about what's going on in Iran - we hold our breath
and hope for the best, fearing that all those young faces
we see on TV, raising their hands and their hearts
against oppression, are, in fact, in the preliminary stages
of their own early death, as no tyrant can be felled solely
by good intentions, blood must flow, with, most often,
the blood of martyrs shed in causes that will not win

and not about urban renewal, though that would be
interesting, decline and renewal, different faces
of the same life process, could be, maybe is,
the subject of thousands of poems, but not mine
since i just don't feel up to it today and probably
couldn't justice anyway -

probably couldn't do justice to any of those deeper
urgings today, the fifties rock and roll overhead
has my soul and it's that moment i prefer to
remember, joining old friends like rocking robin meeting
ally oop and charlie brown behind the green door -

that's where i want to be...


despite more protentous
shaking the world scene
i decided to write
a poem
this morning
about people who back
into parking spaces -
leave the portentous stuff
to people with more

i never saw anyone
back into a parking space
until about 15 years ago
when a fella who worked
for me did it all the time

he was from
New York City
so i figured oh well
backing into parking spaces
is just one of strange things
New York City people do

but in the last couple of years
i see more and more people backing
into parking spaces
at the grocery store
young men with hot rod racing flame decals
on their Honda Civics,
women with babies in their SUV's,
in ginormous three quarter ton pickups
all backing into their parking space,
among other things
traffic confusion and pile up
as they try to negotiate into a parking space
and the fact that they'll be driving
in entirely the wrong way
on a one way
parking lot lane
when they drive out frontward

i not only don't get
why they do it
i also don't get why all of a sudden
so many people decided
they were supposed to do it -

was it something on the internet
or a traffic directive from state troopers
or another of those damn memos i missed
all of a sudden
are some many people doing something
that makes no sense all

but that's the point
so many do so much that makes no sense
at all, some for reasons silly
and some for reasons profound,
like the hundreds of thousands of people
in Iran, old people, young, men and women,
who, making no sense at all in a world of
self-centered gratification,
stand firm before the water canon, the rifle,
the tear gas, the might of state and official religiosity -

some day generations hence in Iran will owe all they have
to these nonsensical people just as we owe unpaid debts
to those people in our own history who, lacking
any common sense at all, stood firm against
the tyrannies of their time

so it is that just as we enjoy such freedoms as were
earned for us, some day Iranians will have their own freedoms
so tendentiously and tenaciously won -

not including in either country the right to screw up traffic flow
by backing into a supermarket parking space

aii! Neda

i watched you die

beautiful in life
your eyes

in this frantic moment
blank and unseeing

your blood
a crimson flood

on the thug
strewn streets
of your oppressor

i watched you die

one of many

seeing your damaged face
i see them all


This being the day before the 4th of July, I submit to patriotic fervor and present this poem from a fellow second-life poet, Jimmy Carter. It is the title poem from Carter's book Always a Reckoning, published by Random House in 1995.

Always a Reckoning

There always seemed to be a need
for reckoning in early days.
What came in equaled what went out
like oscillating ocean waves.
On the farm, our wages matched
the work we did in woods and fields,
how many acres plowed and hoed,
how much syrup was distilled,
how many pounds of cotton picked,
how much cordwood cut and stacked.
All things had to balance out.

I had a pony then that lacked
a way to work and pay her way,
except that every year of two
Lady had a colt we sold,
but still for less than what was due
to buy the fodder, hay and corn
she ate at times she couldn't be
on pasture.

        Neither feed nor colts
meant all that much that I could see,
but still there was a thing about
a creature staying on our place
that none of us could eat or plow,
did not give eggs, or even chase
a fox or rabbit, that was sure
to rile my father.

        We all knew
that Lady's giving me a ride
paid some on her debt, in lieu
of other ways - but there would be
some times I didn't get around
to riding in my off-work hours.
And I was sure, when Daddy frowned
at some mistake I might've made, he
would be asking when he could,
"How long since you rode Lady?"

Next I have two short poems by our New Yorker friend Barbara Moore.

ice cream sundae blues

here come the scammers
taking their noon break
scarfing fudge sundaes
man from the wheelchair
palsy pretender
woman whose line is
"please help me I"m blind"
ensconced in his chair
reading a horoscope mag
moving behind her
pushing one-handed
man tremorless walks

we locals, resigned
many coins lighter
eyes with dimmed interest
watch them eat ice cream
we don't expose them
won't blow that whistle
there but for dumb luck
with sprinkles on top

Note on freezer door

How many times can you tell yourself
all your mirrors lie
the dryer shrinks your underwear
the apology will come
things will turn round
the book will write itself?

Catch more sleep each night
Go easier on the ice cream
Stop waiting for Godot
Serenade yourself with song
Pump the music up loud
Dance, laugh, weep, remember

Then write it all down perfectly
in every imperfect detail

Iran isn't the only thing that's been in the news.

I wrote this next piece after the Republican senator from Nevada was outed on his infidelity, only to have the poem validated a week later by the Republican governor from South Carolin as he got caught in his Argentine adventure.


looking fella
in a cowboy
and shit
kicker boots
from me
from a quart
of 2% milk
reading some
kind of
technical looking
book with
and shit
and one hand
paralyzed fingers
against his palm
like Bob Dole
'cept this
isn't holding
a pen
in this clenched
like Bob Dole
good ol'
that Bob
might'a been
a fine presi
if he hadn't
been Republican
and 143 years
old -
a'been fucking
around with no
interns any
what is it
with politicians
and their dicks
like just another
one this
screwing around
love me
love me
they're all
all the time
waving their
starting wars
women either
too young
or too
for any man
with good
to mess with
i mean
put your dicks
in your pants
grow up
for christ's
you're supposed
to be
the country
not running
on your dearly
who ought to be
across the head
three or
times a day
you get it on


Next I have and interesting piece by Sidney Wade from his book, Stroke, published by Persea Books of New York in 2007.

Wade is the author of four previous poetry collections and has published translations from Turkish in numerous periodicals. She is Professor of English at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

I like these little "monosonnets." May try some myself sometime.


Pity the Poor Orange





Adam and the Snake Prepare to Recite Some Verse





After the Flood, Frogs


The Spontaneous Combustion of a Shopkeeper from Alcohol



Stroke of Genius

of art




I am a guy who likes his routine, that's for sure. Never though I was, but I am. No problem with that until environmental changes force a change in routine. I'm still dealing with one such challenge.

thinking about places i liked to go that have shut down in the past 12 months

i am a creature of routine -
my greatest excitement is when
everything works out
so that my routine is not interrupted

i take it as validation
that my path is true and karma-appropriate

like all creatures of routine,
part of my routine has to do with the places
where i routinely spend my time

places that lend
a sense of peace and feng shui orientation
conducive to writing things
i sometimes cleverly disguise
as poems

one unwelcome result of the flow
of business and life
over the past 12 months
is the loss to me of places
that had become essential to my routine,
places rich with karma and feng shui,
places where legions of trees could fall in the forest
and i would neither hear nor care

those places gone and
not likely to return,
i now ensconce myself at Borders in the morning,
quiet enough most times, other times, like today,
overcome by screaming children
and mothers so accustomed to the screams
of four-year-olds that they seem not to hear
as if their children were screaming in a forest
and they refused to hear so no one else would either

but even on the quiet days,
i feel so much older here, in the company of old men
who gather each day to curse the Democrats
and queers and others of similar radicalist bent -
how i miss the young girls at Ruta Maya who danced
in the morning to the music overhead
as they brought my coffee and pan dulces

and that's why
i sit here, singing
polly wolly doodle all day,
thinking about places i use to like to go
that have shut down in the past 12 months

Here's another poem from our friend Christopher T. George. We just had a couple of poems from Chris a week or two ago, but I like this one so much I decided to set aside my usual practice of trying to spread some time between a poet's appearances.

And, though it makes no sense at all from the text, it still strikes me as a fourth of July type of poem, honoring, not in a nationalistic sense, but in a kind of universal way, the fight for family and country wherever it might occur. I might even find a thought for the good people of Iran here.

Yoria Macedonia
To George T. Matchett (1892-1987)

My grandfather deployed to Greece
as part of the British Salonika force,
front contra Hun and Johnny Bulgar.

And there men and beasts died
just the same, junked by Fokker
machine-gun fire, high-velocity shells

that zeroed in on mules and mule-men,
coordinates defined by Taube observation
planes, string-bag monoplanes, as Royal

Army Medical docs and nurses scrambled
to staunch the blood of men if not
beasts. The Greeks called Grandad

'Yori' (for George); he mused,
if he survived he would name
his daughter 'Yoria' as a gift.

Chris notes:
"My mother, christened Yoria Christine
Matchett, born September 27, 1920,
is still alive, aged 88 years young."

Next, I have a poem by Allen Ginsberg, written during the last year of this life. The poem is from the book Death and Fame, Last Poems, 1993-1997.

Multiple Identity Questionnaire

                "Nature empty, everything's pure:
                Naturally pure, that's what I am."

I'm a jew? a nice jewish boy?
A flaky Buddhist, certainly
Gay in fact pederast? I'm exaggerating?
Not only queer an amateur S&M fan, someone should spank me for
        saying that
Columbia Alumnus class of '48, Beat icon, students say.
White, if jews are "white race"
American by birth, passport and residence
Slavic heritage, mama from Vitebsk. father's forebears Grading in
        Kamenetz-Podolska near Lvov.
I'm an intellectual! Anti-intellectual, anti-academic
Distinguished Professor of English Brooklyn College.
Manhattanite, another middle class liberal,
but lower class second generation immigrant,
Upperclass, I own a condo loft, go to art gallery Buddhist Vernissage
        dinner parties with Niarchos, Rockefellers, and Luces
Oh what a sissy, Professor Four-eyes, can't catch a baseball or drive a
        car - courageous Shambhala Graduate Warrior
addressed as "Maestro" Milano, Venezia, Napoli
Still student, chela, disciple, my guru Gelek Rinpoche,
Senior Citizen, got Septuagenarian discount at Alfalfa's Healthfoods
        New York subway -
Mr. Sentient Being! - Absolutely empty neti neti identity, Maya Nobo-
        daddy, relative phantom nonentity

                July 5, 1996, Naropa Tent,
                Boulder , CO

Here's a poem from a friend, Norman Anderson, who we haven't seen in a while. Norm works as a Direct Support Professional in a group home. he takes care of six mentally challenged men. He says he's written a couple poems about Roger and the rest of the men in the group home. He's also working on a book about his job because , he says it's hilarious even though often serious.

Norm has written two screenplays he's trying to sell and a book.

Summer 1970

Summers that never end?
For me
it was
it was me and my Schwinn Sting Ray
riding down
to a Lake that is Erie
My bike was blue
The water?
not even close to
being blue
we loved that "Dirty Water"
We didn't sit around
and play "Gangsta's Hijacking Grannies
For Their Huvarounds"
video games.
It was Leef Bubble Gum
and playing Little League Baseball
under the lights
no IPods or Blackberry's
we listened to CKLW
AM radio
it was the best music ever
"Spill the Wine" by Eric Burdon and War
"War" by Edwin Starr
no Hyundai hybrids
nothing like the sound
of those muscle cars
roaring through
with engines as big as me
no carb counting, no fat, low fat
no nutritional facts
printed on my
Necco Wafers pack
here's a fact for ya,
it's sugar for cryin out loud!
no 500 channels and nothings on
we had three TV networks
Ed Sullivan;
"Okay kids quite down
quite down now kids
here they are
The Rolling Stones"
Nobody was "vertically challenged"
no "misguided criminals"
no "differed success"
you were either good or bad
you passed or failed
a 19 year old soldier
crosses over into
the jungles
of Cambodia
his summer will never
seemed to end
I'm sure

I saw this very striking woman at the Borders coffee shop several days ago.

dreams of wet

with very large feet
orders a latte,
flexes her long
in her flip-flops
as she waits, hums

with the lean, rangy body of an athlete,
blond hair with a look of chlorine burn
hangs down her back in a pony tail

a swimmer
is my guess, very active in her sport,
maybe professional,
the look of a fish
out of water
good swimmers get when forced
to make their way on dry land
amidst us dirt people

i can tell she is one of those

of wet whenever

Next, the curious case of a French poet, unknown in France and first published in America. The poet is Pierre Martory and his debut collection published by The Sheep Meadow Press of Riverdale-On-Hudson, New York in 1994 is The Landscape Is Behind the Door, translated from French by John Ashbery.

Born in Bayonne in southwest France, of partly Basque ancestry, Martory spent much of his childhood in Morocco. Escaping Paris in June 1940, just as the Germans arrived, he joined the French Army in Tunisia and spent the years after the war working at odd jobs, novels, and writing theater and music reviews for Paris-Match. Until shortly before the publication of this book, he kept his poetry as his own secret, never trying to publish it and never showing it to anyone who might have been interested. As a result, until publication of this book, his work was entirely unknown in France.

Born in 1920, Martory died in 1998.

This is the title poem from the book.

The Landscape is Behind the Door

The landscape is behind the door.
the person is there...New York is full
Of similar places where a world,
A large cloud, is being built. Only
The heads stay put. You pay
Before arriving, a long time before
Opening your mouth. There are things
Near us which all have their green sides.

You wear your eyes and lose them.
A caterpillar makes the difference.
A girl whose face is full of blood
Stops and asks the time.
It's a year that doesn't know it's number:
A smile at the bottom of a pocket.
Look! the liar-bird, brother of secrets,
Leaves the familiarcreek bed:
The life of others painted on a lampshade.

"I draw you like a salary.
You are my superfluous statue
Hatched beneath hot tears.
I'm digging toward the antipodes.
I unwind the bandages, the horoscope:
It's my body, it's my cocoon, surprised
In a sleep of prolific sand,
That I'm uncovering, like a Cyclops that fainted."

I would be enough to enter, to sit
Near a book, to fold the shadow
To one's knees, to know who
Walks on the bed, who passes the mirror.
Dust tints the linens gray.
Photos choke on night.
Now nothing is visible in the room
Except the inaccessible landscape outdoors.

Down there, the fires of prehistory continue stubbornly
To glow. The lost felucca ferries a skeleton
To its grave. A disc feeds the sky.
In the hollows of geysers dolphins are taking
Advantage of their incognito to cry.
A pious hand is strangling the pity
And slips into the letter-box
The perfumed sadness of silence.

The door placarded with such moments
Doesn't open. The cigarettes unrolled
In smoke (a supplementary beauty)
Leave on the fingers the smell of time past.
Intelligence like a geometer paces
The distance from inside to outside.
Everything is in place, nothing is missing.
Weary of strife the bee on
The windowpane finally renounces the flower.

Great news, archeologically speaking, a couple of weeks ago, a great find, a find that tells us something about grand ourselves and our ancestors back in the deepest, darkest tunnels of times past. We are progeny of music and art and the musicians and artists who create it.

How's that for great?

the magic flute

35 thousand years ago
or more
a kind of human
in a cave in Germany
made music on a flute
made from the bone
of a bird

before God
there were gods
and before gods,
spirits of the earth
and sea and sky,
and before that
a kind of man
searching for the spirits
with his music,
creating gods
with his art

searching for
beyond our own
from our earliest time

35 thousand years later
and we still

Here's a poem from our friend Walter Durk.


come look I shouted as
I waved
she stood across the blackened street
and crossed
crossed the lawn to where I stood
near newly-planted plants
she was not in the mood I
could tell well-dressed as she was
just returned from her office
but I pointed out the new plants to her
Loropetalums, Rhaphiolepis,
the Buford Hollies
she believed in the power of prayer
placed her hands on my sore back
to pray invoked the name of Jesus
her brain tumor disappeared
this way is what she said
why would I question her as
she stood before me
about three weeks ago
three weeks now since I've seen her
hacking a tree root from her lawn
her drive is full of cars now
none of them are hers

So many poets in the world, and so few of them known to me. But there are used book stores and walking into one on a good day is like finding the mother load of all those poems and poets i've never read before.

One book mined just this morning is Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, a collection of poems by Sonia Sanchez published by Beacon Press in 1998.

Sanchez was born Wilsonia Benita Driver in 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama. After her mother died in childbirth a year later, Sanchez lived with her paternal grandmother and other relatives for several years. In 1943, she moved to Harlem with her sister to live with their father and his third wife.

She earned a B.A. in political science from Hunter College in 1955. She also did postgraduate work at New York University, studying poetry. Sanchez formed a writers' workshop in Greenwich Village and, along with other poets, including Nikki Giovanni, formed the "Broadside Quartet" of young poets.

She married and divorced Albert Sanchez, a Puerto Rican immigrant whose surname she has used when writing. She was also married for two years to poet Etheridge Knight.

During the early 1960s she was an integrationist, supporting the philosophy of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). But after considering the ideas of Black Muslim leader Malcolm X, she focused more on her black heritage from a separatist point of view.

Sanchez began teaching in the San Francisco area in 1965 and was a pioneer in developing black studies courses at what is now San Francisco State University, where she was an instructor from 1968 to 1969. In 1971, she joined the Nation of Islam, but by 1976 she had left the Nation, largely because of its repression of women.

Sanchez is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and several published plays. She has also written a number of books for children.

Among the many honors she has received are the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Humanities, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

Sanchez has lectured at more than five hundred universities and colleges in the United States and had traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Nicaragua, the People's Republic of China, Norway, and Canada. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999. She lives in Philadephia.

The book includes a number of short poem. For this week, i'm using a number of those poems, in the order in which they appear in the book. Some are titled. Some are not.


i dreamt i was tangoing with
you, you held me so close
we were like the singing coming off the drums.
you made me squeeze muscles
lean back on the sound
of corpuscles sliding in blood.
i heard my thighs singing.


you asked me to run
naked in the streets with you
i am holding your pulse.



i cannot stay home
on this sweet morning
i must run singing     laughing
through the streets of Philadelphia.
i don't need food or sleep or drink
on this wild scented day
i am bathing in the waves of your breath.

let every breast dance
a wild sculpture of rain
i raise my glass


i don't know the rules
anymore i don't know if
if you say this or not.
i wake up in the nite
tasting you on my breath.

i count the morning
stars the air so sweet i turn
riverdark with sound.


i come from the same
place i am going to my
body speaks in tongues.


i have caught fire from
your mouth now you want me to
swallow the ocean.


love between us in
speech and breath. loving you is
a long river running.


i await your touch
come magnify our smell
make of us a long journey


i turn westward in
shadows hoping my river
will cross yours in passing


i collect
wings what are
you bird or
something that
lights on trees
breasts pawnshops
i have seen
path to this

When it's over, it's over. That's it.

& that's it

it is sunday
and i am
i usually am
on sunday
just a couple
of hours later
than i usually
due to a con
fluence of
which may
or may
be fodder
for a poem
a question
i am pursuing
at this very mo
ment as i
hoping for the
but you know
we always
for the best
even know
ing we'd hap
pily settle
for not so
and even
not so bad
may be much
to ask for
as i feel like
having 3 drinks
last night
tequila collins
if you must
which is
three months
of drinking
since i stumb
led on the
path of the
and narrow
some 30
years ago
and that's
really all
i have to say
about it so may
be i should just
and let you
get back
to your biscuits
and sausage

Done again for this week. Gather up your ooooooms and come back next week when, in addition to the usual suspect, me, I expect we'll have a taste of Pablo Neruda, Mark Nowak, G.E. Patterson, Laurie Lico Albanese, the most unlikely poet you're going to read next week, retired homicide detective Arthur Munoz, and other wonders yet undiscovered.

As usual, all of the work presented in this blog remains the propery of its creators. The blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.


Post a Comment

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
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018
November 2018
December 2018
January 2019
February 2019
March 2019
April 2019
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019
August 2019
September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
The Blogging Poet
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