Around Lady Bird Lake - Austin   Thursday, October 08, 2009


IV.10.2.




Cutting to the chase, here's who I have for you this week.


Li Po
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
Thoughts of You Unending
Wandering Up Lo-Fu Creek on a Spring Day
Out Drinking on Dragon Mountain


Me
58 linear feet of shampoo

John N. Morris
Grandfather's Pistol
One Snowy Night in December
Mourning
She's


James Fowler
Foliage Finality
Fall Fair


Pamela Uschuk
Along the Path Burned by the Falcon

Me
little Tom-Boy's balls

Robert A. Fink
The Ghostly Hitchhiker
Hobos
The Certified Public Accountant Recalls the Early 1950's


Walter Durk
What are my options?

Francisco X. Alarcon
Martin de Luna
Day and Night
Yolilizlic/Life in Motion
Birth
For Love
Listen
We're One


Me
numbers game

Michael Ryan
Smoke
Houseflies


Mick Moss
Year Dot (the one they forgot)

Langston Hughes
West Texas
Share-Croppers
Roland Hayes Beaten


Me
a new crop of baby docs face their first test

Marge Piercy
The window of the woman burning
Five thousand miles


Me
pants on fire









I start this week with poems by 8th century Chinese poet, Li Po, from the book, The Selected Poems of Li Po, published by New Directions in 1996, with translations by David Hinton.

Li Po was a native of Sezchaun, who, while still in his teens, retired to mountains in the north of the province to live with a religious recluse by the name of Tunyen-tzu. He later traveled down the Yangtze to Yun-meng, a town north of the river and Tung-ting Lake, where he married.

From then on his occupation became that of a wandering poet who has since become recognized by many as the greatest of a highly talented array of Tang poets. He stayed for a few years in various places, traveling extensively. Dissatisfied with the poor existence his wandering life provided, his first wife left him, taking their two children. He appears to have married three times.

Li Po entered the capital, Chang-an, in about 742 and his poetry found great favor at the imperial court. However, court plotters found a way of demonstrating that one of his poems was a malicious satire. Li Po found it prudent to retire to the mountains again, and then wandered around China for another ten years, becoming involved in a major revolt. He was imprisoned under sentence of death, which was commuted to perpetual banishment to the southwest region of the empire.



Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon

1

Among the blossoms, a single jar of wine.
No one else here. I ladle it out myself.

Raising my cup, I toast the bright moon,
and facing my shadow makes friends three,

though moon has never understood wine,
and shadow only trails along behind me.

Kindred a moment with moon and shadow,
I've found a joy that must infuse spring:

I sing, and moon rocks back and forth;
I dance, and shadow tumbles into pieces.

Sober, we're together and happy. Drunk,
we scatter away into our own directions:

intimate forever, we'll wander carefree
and meet again in Star River distances.

2

Surely, if heaven didn't love wine,
there would be no Wine Star in heaven,

and if earth didn't love wine, surely
there would be no Wine Spring on earth.

Heaven and earth have always loved wine,
so how could loving wine shame heaven?

I hear clear wine called enlightenment,
and they say murky wine is like wisdom:

once you drink enlightenment and wisdom,
why go searching for gods and immortals?

Three cups and I've plumbed the great Way,
a jarful and I've merged with occurrence

appearing of itself. Wine's view is lived:
you can't preach doctrine to the sober.

3

It's April in Ch'ang-an, these thousand
blossoms making a brocade of daylight.

Who can hear spring's lonely sorrows, who
face it without wine? It's the only way.

Success or failure, life long or short:
our fate's given by Changemaker at birth.

But a single cup evens our life and death,
our ten thousand concerns unfathomed,

and once I'm drunk, all heaven and earth
vanish, leaving me suddenly alone in bed,

forgetting that person I am even exists.
Of all our joys, this must be the deepest.


Thoughts of You Unending

Thoughts of you unending
here in Ch'ang-an-

crickets where the well mirrors year-end golds cry out
autumn, and under a thin frost, mats look cold, ice-cold.

My lone lamb dark, thoughts thickening, I raise blinds
and gaze at the moon. It renders the deepest lament

empty. But you're lovely as a blossom born of cloud,

skies opening away all bottomless azure above, clear
water all billows and swelling waves below. Skies endless

for a spirit in sad flight, the road over hard passes
sheer distance, I'll never reach you, even in dreams,

my ruins of the heart,
thoughts of you unending.


Wandering Up Lo-Fu Creek on a Spring Day

At the canyon's mouth, I'm singing. Soon
the path ends. People don't go any higher.

I scramble up cliffs into impossible valleys,
and follow the creek back toward its source.

Up where newborn clouds rise over open rock,
a guest come into wildflower confusions,

I'm still lingering on, my climb unfinished,
as the sun sinks away west of peaks galore.


9/9, Out Drinking on Dragon Mountain

9/9, out drinking on Dragon Mountain,
I'm an exile among yellow blossoms smiling.

Soon drunk, I watch my cap tumble in wind,
dance in love - a guest the moon invites.








Sometime in the last 30 years or so the idea of unfettered choice arose, the idea of having the option of making our own choices over nearly every aspect of our lives, to the point where choosing has become, no longer an option, but a requirement for living and the process of the choosing has so taken over that the process of selecting from an ever-expending menu takes longer than the meal. Freedom of choice is a wonderful thing, but the process of forever having to make many daily inconsequential choices has become a massive waste of karma and a bane on our daily lives.



58 linear feet of shampoo

58 linear feet
(yes, i measured)
of shampoos and
conditioners

why do we need
58 linear feet
of shampoos
and conditioners

i like,
with my gray
going white hair,
a shampoo that washes out
the yellowing that often
comes with that kind of hair

but
even with 58 linear feet
of shampoos and conditioners
i can never find the same
kind of shampoo for my hair
twice -

(i have the same problem
with writing instruments, every
time i find a pen i really like,
i discover the next time i need
a pen that the kind i like
has not been manufactured
since the day after
i bought one for the first time)

it is a symptom
of our times, whatever
is
is
never good enough,
never as good as whatever
is going to be next
which is never as good
as whatever's coming after

planned obsolesce,
the automobiles that
break down
six minutes after the warranty
expires, or my expensive shoes
that crack on the sides
two days
after they finally get comfortable
or the constant creation
of status based dissatisfactions

i understand it, at least
as a business strategy -
make more money
by making people so
dissatisfied with what they've got
that they'll discard it and buy
something new before the old
is used up - but does that really work
with shampoo as well as it works
with automobiles, and if it does,
what else will it work with
in our brave new world
of anything and everything
new, always

should i be afraid
as i slip into sleep tonight
that i will be replaced before dawn,
that nothing will be left of me
when the sun breaks through
my bedroom window but a barely
warm depression in my bed
where my body lay before its midnight
recall








My next four short poems are by John N. Morris, from his book, Green Business, published in 1970 by Atheneum.

Morris was a distinguished poet and professor emeritus of English at Washington University in St. Louis where he taught for over 30 years. His specialty was eighteenth-century English literature.

Born in Oxford, England, Morris spent part of his childhood on his grandfather's peach farm in Eagle Springs, N.C. He attended Augusta Military Academy in Fort Defiance, Va., and in 1953 received a bachelor's degree in English from Hamilton College. After two years as a Marine during the Korean War, Morris attended graduate school at Columbia University, earning a doctorate in 1964.

He was the author of three books of poetry in addition to Green Business: A Schedule of Benefits, The Glass Houses, and The Life Beside This One. His work was published in such magazines as Poetry, The New Yorker and The New Republic In 1978 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 1979 he won the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Morris died of pancreatic cancer in 1997 at 66 years of age.



Grandfather's Pistol

Brought home from Plattsburg
In 1917, Grandfather's
Pistol never met its
German or criminal.

Its heft inviting
My hand, it pointed for years
Bluntly at my imagination,
Possibility in a box.

Visiting it and home I
Swab and oil its purpose.
A thousand miles off
I hear its silence.

Years pass
In the dark in the drawer
It is clean, its
Eye open.


One Snowy Night in December

Penn Station at three in the morning
is empty as Heaven. The clerks
whisper in their cages.
They are waiting for money.
The urinals stand in stiff rows
like men who will win.

I walk out into the stone
talk of the city. Up
Fifth Avenue I am my own band.
The municipal lions listen
to the show, the white answer.


Mourning

How the world turned
away from him:
stones
stoutly silent,
fields
closed for repairs,
the lake shut.

No. Rocks
just
went on
being heavy,
the rain
wet,
the world round.


She's

slanging me! her
mouth full
of hard things.

I just
stand around
in my clothes
and black hat.

Wait for her to
be empty.








Next, i have two poems by James Fowler, a friend we haven't heard from in a while.

Jim lives in Massachusetts, has eight grand kids and wants to retire, write poetry, garden, play tennis, cook and write more poetry.



Foliage Finality

Photosynthesis stopped,
green chlorophyll gone,
leaves lay dead on my lawn.
My fulsome maples nude,
anorexic models on display.

Bright yellows, oranges, reds
kicked by kids with glee.
Scattered, vegetable road kill,
to be picked up, disposed of.

Placed in a back-forty pile,
they face a season of snow,
brown and black dead,
worm-turned fodder
for a new Spring.


Fall Fair

I remember those warm Fall days,
cool nights, and the sweet smell
of fried dough. Corn dogs on a stick,
hawkers exhorting me to throw baseballs.
Impress her with a stuffed doll.

My wrinkled hand, tugged by youthful
exuberance, jerks me back to reality.
Grandchild's tilt-a-whirl excitement
brings gravity's red flush to my face.

Yet my memories linger. Soon Fall's
bright leaves will give up holding hands
with the trees, and blanket my love
with their colors once more.








The next poem is by Pamela Uschuk and it is taken from her book, One-Legged Dancer, published by Wings Press in 2002.

Uschuk, raised on a farm in Michigan, holds an M.F.A. from the University of Montana. She is the author of several chapbooks and her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Her awards include the Dorothy Daniels Writing Award from The National League of American PEN Women, the IRIS Poetry Prize from the University of Virginia, the ASCENT Award from the University of Illinois, and the 2000 Struga International Poetry Prize. She has taught Native American literature at the University of Arizona's Writing Works Center and to Native students through ArtsReach. At the time her book was published, she was director of the Salem College Center for Women Writers in Winston-Salem.



Along the Path Burned by the Falcon
      for Bill and Ignacio

the fountain is the tympanum that remembers dawn
near the grove of Dolore trees
where five red chicks peck
impeccable grass for worms or seed
at the feet of the green grave
that guards the blackberry's serene dew.

Over coffee, we wrestle news - government helicopters
strafe Indian villages, killing five more in Chiapas -
our consciences eased by blue plates
heaped with ham, tortillas, cheese and black beans.
Fueled by winter verse, our days
are hung on the hooks of tropical stars,
the loose metrics of roses,
metaphors gauzy as hibiscus,
the political wrangling of azaleas and bougainvillea.

Even on a sunny morning like this who knows
what might turn sun into screams?
On the tape player, the violin grieves for dawn
who's escaped on her steaming feet
across the far volcanic hills, leaving
the taste of blackberries and grapefruit
scouring the backs of our throats

No witty turn of phrase, no Nobel book of poems can
deter the falcon from his schedule
when he plunges from the top of a near pine
and, with no malice in the clicking hunger of his talons,
lances one pullet hen from the five
scattering chaos across the serene grass.

How ridiculous we three poets, nearly
overturning the breakfast table,
trailing bright napkins and straw hats
as we run along the path burned by the falcon
through the forest's swift design,
as if our aching concerns and slim words
could save the most most resourceful chick
or clip the falcon's wings.








We had a feral cat situation at home, which we resolved by taking the cats to a vet for fixing. It was a more difficulty proposition than I had imagined.



little Tom-Boy's balls

trapping the cats
was less of a problem
than i expected - seems
even the smartest of them
are suckers for
tuna

the easy part,
i thought,
would be dropping them off
at the spay and neuter clinic
but it turned out to be the day's
challenge, instead, standing
for two hours in a line
of mostly dogs
mostly interested
in what was going on
inside my three
cat cages full of feral cat, Mama Cat
and her two kittens,
sister Billie Goat and brother Tom-Boy


back at the facility on Laredo St.
at 4 p.m. - about a 20-minute trip
extended to 45 minutes because
of a truck afire on the interstate -
but Mama and the kids were ready
to go, though still a little dopey
from the anesthesia when
i got them home and treated them
to a cup of water and a bite
of premium cat food, $1.79 per
miniscule can

then they slept the
rest of the day
in their little towel-covered cages,
a dark and quiet refuge from the
bright lights
and sharp knives
of the day

relating this story to guests
at dinner in the evening,
they were all aghast
when i mentioned that
when "fixing" feral cats
the practice is to snip off
the tip
of one ear
so that they can be recognized
by animal control people
and others
as a neutered cat that, by ordinance,
is not subject to capture and
euthanasia

what a horrible thing
to be doing to these cats,
they all said,
bloodlust
and barbarism
they all said, and
it was then that i realized
that the feminists had won,
that, while it was now
ok in our society to slice off
little Tom-Boy's
balls,
clipping
the tip of one of his ears
was a mark
of the callous infamy
of our male-dominated
world

ahhh, the humanity








Texas poet Robert A. Fink was born in North Texas. After completing service as a Marine Corps lieutenant in Vietnam, he returned to Texas serving as W. D. and Hollis R. Bond Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He is the author of several books of poetry, including, in addition to the book featured this week, The Tongues of Men and of Angels and, most recently, Tracking the Morning.

The next poems are from an earlier book, The Ghostly Hitchhiker...and other poems, published in 1989 by Corona Press.



The Ghostly Hitchhiker
    the most widely told
   ghost story in America

Always dark. Pouring
and you're late, a salesman coming up
on Monterey or Albany or Dallas.
You cut your speed and lean toward the glass
to squeeze a glimpse of yellow lines and muddy shoulders.
The windshield wipers set the pace:
you start to nod, think of home
and bed. Then you see her

tall and white in the corner of your eye,.
You wonder why you stop, back up;
the wife is waiting, will not approve.
You lean across and swing the door
into the wind and rain. She hesitates,
asks if your are going into town.
Do you know this address? Can you take her home?
You tell her yes. Even then you know you lie.


Hobos

are passing in the night, regular as rain
dripping through our sun porch roof,
secret as the smell of thunder.
They are back from 1951
when my mother whispered not to make a sound
or else they'd mark the house.
The back door rattled lightly at the knock.
Soft. An angel's touch.
My mother's hands paled against her ears.

Tonight I hear them pass. In between the rain:
the smack of cardboard soles
soaking up the street, the cadence of wings
brushing past he house. This time they do not stop
but chant Come Out. Come Out.
My wife and sons toss in dreams.
Tomorrow they will ask about the storm,
the sun porch roof, why my ears are red.


The Certified Public Accountant Recalls the Early 1950's

We wouldn't have a T.V. set for years
and the picture show shut down on Sunday
in a town too private for a population sign.
Everybody went to church or sent regrets,
so after clearing off the table
and the regulation nap,
what was there to do but load the Ford
for a drive in the country?

Every road wore a number
Father, the mathematician, knew by heart
and recited like language
one enjoys against his teeth.
Mother sang the names of towns
(Syrna, East Point, New Hope)
we could turn to in a jiffy.
Someone there was always distant kin.

Black Gum    Red Oak    Maple
Dogwood    Magnolia    Pine,
Father's pointing finger named each tree,
recounted the legend of its leaves
as if he hadn't changed the ending
so they all live happily ever after
like the crows laughing
from the new-strung power lines;
the girl sitting on her Shetland pony
not even casually interested in our passing;
and the pair of snowy Egrets
lifting from a lily pond,
wings heavy as angels
charged with annunciation.








Here's a poem by our friend Walter Durk who is frequently with us.



What are my options?

I've thought about it for a long time.
I know it has to be done, like mowing
grass after spring rain often enough
to keep the deck and chute unclogged.
And the engine from dying.

Let me understand this. There are
options, but there are no options.
I'm holding a form. I'll read the
individual words first maybe later
focus more on meaning.

Words pass in and out
of my mind. That's it!
I'll join two of them together.
Let's try natural death. Hmmm.
Certainly if I were to
die I would want this.

Other words infringe
on my simplistic thought.
Ventilator, tubes, sustenance,
fluids. Enough of that.
I'll check the little square
box next to the word natural,
and take my chances.








The next several pieces are by Francisco X. Alarcon and are taken from his very interesting book, Snake Poems, An Aztec Invocation published by Chronicle Books in 1992.

The book was inspired by one of the few existing treatises on the culture of Nahuatl - the Indian language primarily spoken by the Aztec - Snake Poems. The treatise was written a priest, Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon, 100 years after Cortes' conquest of Mexico. It was commissioned by the Spanish Inquisition as a compilation of the chants, spells, and invocations of the Indians. Suspicious that the Indians were still following their old rituals and beliefs, the purpose of the treatise was to educate priests on these rituals so that they could catch the Indians at it and punish them, usually involving either torture or death or both.

Intrigued by this history, and the possibility that the priest Alarcon, might have been a distant relative, the poet drew together this book that combines parts of the treatise, original Nahuatl incantations, and his own poems in English. The book includes portions in all three languages.

There is not particular order to anything that follows, just selections from the book as I paged through it.



Martin de Luna

Martin de Luna
110 years old
was arrested
and imprisoned

for having used
incantations
before laying down
on his petate:

"tla cuel
nocelopetlatzine
in nauhcampa
ticamachalohtoc...

"take me
Jaguar mat into
the four mouths
of your corners..."

(take me now
from this cell
and lose me
in the darkness)



Day and Night

I bleed
in silence
all alone

Martin
Mariana
Domingo


in fields
in streets
in cells

my fists
hit
walls

whips
undress
my ribs

from
my mouth
come out

broken teeth
blood
butterflies


Wiser

now I know
why my father

would go out
and cry
in the rain


Yoliliztli/Life in Motion

something
more than nothing
like morning
sunlight or air

something
around a kiss
something
within a flower

something light
something sweet
something deep
something free

something else
capable of turning
caterpillars into
butterflies


Birth

Cuaton
Caxxoch

Goddesses
of Love

burst
the dam
of life

let the five
solar spirits
in each hand
become a net

and catch
this child
of the gods


For Love

enchanted
words
at dawn

a handful
of flowers
and stars


Visions

at night
I see
by ear
by hand
by heart


Listen

every landscape

a wondrous
story


We're One

sea
dust
tear
pollen








You reach a certain age, and every time you forget a phone number you get the pre-alzheimer palpitations of the frontal cortex.



numbers game

sometimes
it seems while the rest
of the world
operates electronically
and digitally
my brain is still
processing
through a bunch
of old beat up
punch cards

and
sometimes
a gear gets stripped
and the wrong card
falls and...

like this afternoon
i spent an hour
calling home, getting
nowhere but frustrated
until i realized
i was calling a number
from fifteen years ago
in another city

now i pride myself
on not wasting my brain
by remembering
a bunch of numbers
so i try to keep the number
of numbers small

my military id number,
which i don't try to remember,
but, 43 years after basic training
where i was told by a skinny,
squint-eyed drill sergeant
that i should never, never,
he said, his nose no more
than a quarter inch from
my nose, never, ever
forget my id number
because if i was ever
captured by the enemy
that was all
i could tell them
and though never
captured by the enemy
the number is imprinted
permanently
and if that punch card
ever slips i will know
it's time for the home

and the second number
is my social security number
which i never thought much of
until i got old and had to use it
to apply for social security
and then got older and had
to use it to apply for Medicare
and i know now that alive or
dead
i'm covered - thank you
very much
Franklin D. Roosevelt
and Lyndon B. Johnson

and the third number
is my telephone number,
though come to think of it,
not just my current number
but a whole string of numbers
going all the way back
to the first telephone we got
when i was about fourteen
years old and a whole stack
of other numbers, including
my wife's home number
before we were married, my
mother and father's number
before they died and
my various office numbers
over a period of thirty-three
years and my wife's current
work numbers, land and cell,
and my son's phone number
and my own cell number
and...
holy cow,
that's a bunch of numbers,
a whole bunch of punch cards
slipping and sliding through
my brain so maybe my little
slip
this morning wasn't so bad
and i'm feeling a whole lot
better about things so
you can forget that call
to the rest home...

but you should probably keep
that number
handy
even though it's not quite time
to use it
yet.








Now I have a couple of poems by Michael Ryan, from his book, New and Selected Poems, published in 2004 by Houghton Mifflin.

In addition to this book, Ryan has published three earlier books of poetry, Threats Instead of Trees, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and was a National Book Award Finalist, In Winter, a National Poetry Series selection, and God Hunger, winner of the Leonore Marshall Poetry Prize. He is also the author of three prose books.

Ryan is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of California, Irvine.



Smoke

There was a woman whose husband died,
the mother of one of my sister's friends,
we took her to lunch when a few weeks
had gone by, she sat in the back
between my sister and me the whole way there
dress up to her thighs, leg flush against mine,
chatting to my parents in the front seat
about her plans to move away, and when I
held the car door for her, she slid out slowly,
one leg at a time, so I'd see the plump silk
underneath, then grazed me so lightly
as she stood up I was never sure
if she touched me or not.

And what of it?
What of a secret that takes you, to which
you give yourself, that stays with you,
to which you can return as to a pleasure
in a drawer, until some remote
future afternoon when it's there again
after not being with you for such a long time
you can't remember when it was forgotten?
When I lay down for a nap today,
the light softened
as if the windows were being smeared with Vaseline
and a fantasy began that I like
but I thought no, I always have this,
what about another, one I used to have,
and there was the woman who husband had died
and my life in the world seemed made of smoke.


Houseflies

It's not them that make make crazy
but they seem the essence of madness,
ramming the window head first
yet clicking like fingernails on the grass.

In this disproportionate quiet,
with old newspapers rolled in my fist,
I wait one by one when they light
for their hairspring legs to relax,

which means their insect attention
has shifted wrongly
from the danger of death
and they are probably lucky

they don't get a chance to reflect
on how they acquired the instinct
before my bludgeon of published disasters
turns them each to a pinch of smash.

But they must have a nest in the woodwork.
When the sun makes my window hot,
they are always there pressing on it,
the same eight thick black knots.








Here's a little thing by our friend from Liverpool, Mick Moss - something I've wondered about myself.



Year Dot (the one they forgot)

some crazy old Gregorian
with nothing more important on
than to waste his time rearranging it
the silly absent minded git
decided to begin at one
and thus the nineteenth century
because this mad man blundered
begins at eighteen hundred







Next, I have three poems by the classic American poet, Langston Hughes, from the book, Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Vintage Classics in 1990.

With publication of The Weary Blues in 1926, Hughes launched a new chapter in black writing in America. A prodigious producer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, wrote the remainder of his life, publishing his last book, The Panther and the Lash in 1967, the year of his death.



West Texas

Down in West Texas where the sun
Shines like the evil one
I had a woman
And her name
Was Joe

Pickin' cotton in the field
Joe said I wonder how it would feel
For us to pack up
Our things
And go?

So we cranked up our old Ford
And we started down the road
Where we was goin'
We didn't know -
Nor which way.

But West Texas where the sun
shines like the evil one
Ain't no place
For a colored
Man to stay!


Share-Croppers

Just a herd of Negroes
Driven to the field,
Plowing, planting, hoeing,
To make the cotton yield.

When the cotton's picked
And the work is done
Boss man takes the money
And we get none,

Leaves us hungry, ragged
As we were before.
Year by Year goes by
And we are nothing more

Than a herd of Negroes
Driven to the field -
Plowing life away
To make the cotton yield.


Roland Hayes Beaten (Georgia 1942)

Negroes
Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble and kind:
Beware the day
They change their minds!

Wind
In the cotton fields,
Gentle breeze:
Beware the hour
It uproots the trees








One of the professors at the medical school here regularly schedules one of his classes at Borders where I am also having my morning coffee. Watching these children talk doctor talk is more than a little disconcerting.



a new crop of baby docs face their first test

the baby docs
line up in front of the
barista
like geese at a grain trough,
then gather in a gaggle
in the center of the cafe
milling
in little circles
until their professor
arrives to supervise
the gathering of tables
and chair in a circle
around him

it's
the first class
of the new semester
and they're not broken-in yet -
by next week
they will have learned
to have their coffee
and the tables and chairs
arrange
by the time their teacher
arrives -

we hope so anyway,
knowing that sometime
in the next couple of years
when we go for a doctor visit
it will be one of these
children who sees us -
a fact in and of itself
scary enough
without having to consider
that they might fail
their first test
in table arrangement








Now I have two poems by Marge Piercy from her book The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing, published by Knopf in 1980.

Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1936. An indifferent student in her early years, Piercy developed a love of books when she came down with rheumatic fever in her mid-childhood and could do little but read. Later she became the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a Hopwood Award for Poetry and Fiction in 1957, enabled her to finish college and spend some time in France, eventually earning an M.A. from Northwestern University. Her first book of poems, Breaking Camp, was published in 1968.

As of 2004, she was author of seventeen volumes of poems, as well as fifteen novels, one play, one collection of essays, one nonfiction book, and one memoir. Her novels and poetry often focus on feminist or social concerns, and share a focus on women's lives.




The window of the woman burning

Woman dancing with hair
on fire, woman writhing in the
cone of orange snakes, flowering
into crackling lithe vines:
Woman
you are not the bound witch
at the stake, whose broiled alive
agonized screams
thrust from charred flesh
darkened Europe in the nine millions.
Woman
you are not the madonna impaled
whose sacrifice of self leaves her
empty and mad as wind,
or whore crucified
studded with nails.

Woman
you are a demon of a fountain of energy
rushing up from the coal hard
memories in the ancient spine,
flickering lights from the furnace in the solar
plexus, lush scents from the reptilian brain,
river that winds up the hypothalamus
with its fibroids of pleasure and pain
twisted and braided like rope,
like the days of our living,
firing the lanterns of the forebrain
till they glow blood red.

Your are the sire sprite
that charges leaping thighs,
that whips the supple back on its arc
as deer leap through the ankles:
dance of a woman strong
in beauty that crouches
inside like a cougar in the belly
not in the eyes of others measuring.

You are the icon of woman sexual
in herself like a great forest tree
in flower, liriondendron bearing sweet tulips,
cups of joy and drunkenness.
You drink strength from you dark fierce roots
and you hand at the sun's own fiery breast
and with the green cities of your boughs
you shelter and celebrate
woman, with the cauldrons of your energies
burning red, burning green.


Five thousand miles

Way past the curve of the earth
in a foreign country
you are sleeping, while it's twilight
here and Venus in its quarter phase
like a silver hook is taken
by a fishy grey cloud over Lake
Michigan. Through the earth
I should burrow to you like a mole.
I should wait for the moon to rise
and bounce off it, radar
to touch your sleeping face.

There in Germany you sleep and here
I walk wakeful and every day
is a calendar square like a prison yard
to pace. Every day is laid on
me and torn off like a bandage
on a slow dripping wound.

I burn with need
of you deep inside like a coal
mine that has caught fire
and smolders far deep in the rock
away from the healing touch
of the rain, a slow poisonous
fire of wanting and waiting
that melts rocks
to tears of lava








I'll close this week in a confessional mode.



pants on fire

i'm always
doing stupid things,
the stupidest being
that i know the things
I'm doing are stupid
even as i do them -

but then
i'm an accomplished
liar,
never better at it
than when lying
to myself,
easily convincing
myself, for example
that i will
absolutely
certainly
for sure
make up for not
walking my mile
today by walking
two miles tomorrow
instead
or that it is most definitely
true that there is a
certain chemical in
pecan pie filling
that is highly
beneficial
to diabetics,
or that Dee will surely
understand
and believe me
when i tell her that
i just forgot her
birthday
and will make it up
next year with a
three-week vacation
on the coast of Spain

it is so easy
to be talked into
really stupid things
when a person as gullible
as i am comes under the
influence
of a liar as convincing
as me








That's another week done, hope you enjoyed it.

But before I go, I'd like to add a little note and a solicitation.

It's my opinion that the internet has pushed open the doors of poetry and by so doing has saved poetry from irrelevancy of a insular poetry establishment where the natural tendency is for everyone to prefer talking to and writing only to each other. Internet access has allowed many poets, some very good, man not so, to have opportunities to be read they might never have had otherwise. That's a good thing, as much as it might disturb some.

I would like support on-line poetry and feature webpoets in every "Here and Now" post, but it's hard and it's time consuming to chase such folks down. I know many of you who read the blog are poets yourselves. I invite you to send me your stuff. I know "Here and Now" is not a big deal in the poetry world, but it is read by many, with more than 23,000 site visits so far this year. That's respectable. You may not get a gold star on the prestige-o-meter by appearing here, but you will be read.

Posting every week, the blog eats up material like a hungry hippo. Send me some of your stuff. Be read.

All the above also applies also to art and photography. I use 15 to 20 images per post and am always looking for artists and photographers who would like to share their work. If you are interested, send me jpg images I prefer larger rather than smaller because I can size-down but can't size up.

That said, it's time to remind everyone that all the material presented in this blog remains the property of its creators. As owner and producer of the blog I release any and all material in the blog created exclusively by me to whoever wants it, remembering, proper credit is appreciated by all...allen itz

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