Planetary Wildlife Survey: Xeon-13.7   Thursday, December 17, 2009


This is the last post I'll have for you until the new year. I'd love to be able to feature on a regular basis next year a weekly presentation of images, either photos or paintings, from readers. To do that I need 20 to 25 images for each feature. Until I get those kind of submissions, I'm afraid I'm going to be stuck often like I was this week, having to screw around with old pictures of my own so that they don't look like the pictures I screwed around with before.

The same goes for poets. I'd love to feature a different webpoet each week. To do that, I need at least 3, but no more than 5, poems per poet per week. In short, I'd like to present more of my readers' work on "Here and Now" wvery week, along with own stuff and stuff from my library.

And, speaking of poets, here's the batting order for his week.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Junkman's Obbligato

the best part of the day

Cynthia James
turtle watching - i

Sue Clennell
Gin Rummy

James Laughlin
Those To Come
The Green Hair

a winter day on Grape Creek Road

David Dabydeen
El Dorado

Walter Durk

Audre Lorde
Restoration: A Memorial - 9/18/91

beyond the fence

Cyril Dabydeen

Norman Anderson
Sun Devil

Richard Wilbur
Security Lights, Key West

Charles Baudelaire

it's a Christian Nation, i'm told

Chang Chui-ling
Looking at the Moon and Longing for a Distant Lover

Liu Shen-hsu

Wang Wei
Written by My Country Estate by the River Wang, After Heavy Rain

Li Po
Tzu-Yeh's Autumn Song

Me/Thomas Costales
Four poetry/photography experiments

Leslie Ullman
Running Horse

watching through the window at the drift of morning fog

I begin the week with this poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti from his book A Coney Island of the Mind, published in the mid-fifties by New Directions Paperbook.

This is the book that, fifty-plus years ago, showed me there was more to poetry than "by the shores of Gitchee Gumee" (knowledge I kept to myself for many years for reasons of personal security) and the book that planted the seed that twenty or so years later led me to write my first poem.

It is a long poem, longer, it seems, in print than when read aloud. So read it aloud.

Junkman's Obbligato

Let's go
Come on
Let's go
Empty out our pockets
and disappear.
Missing all our appointments
and turning up unshaven
years later
old cigarette papers
stuck to our pants
leaves in our hair.
Let us not
worry about the payments
Let them come
and take it away
whatever it was
we were paying for.
And us with it.

Let us arise and go now
to where dogs do it
Over the Hill
where they keep the earthquakes
behind the city dumps
lost among the gasmains and garbage.
Let us see the city Dumps
for what they are.
My country tears of thee.
Let us disappear
in automobile graveyards
and reappear years later
picking rags and newspapers
drying our drawers
on garbage fires
patches on our ass.
Do not bother
to say goodbye
to anyone.
Your missus will not miss us.

Let's go
smelling of sterno
where the benches are filled
with discarded Bowling Green statues
in the interior dark night
of the flowery bowery
our eyes watery
with the contemplation
of empty bottles of muscatel.
Let us recite from broken bibles
on streetcorners
Follow dogs on docks
Speak wild songs
Throw stones
Say anything
Blink at the sun and scratch
and stumble into silence
Diddle in doorways
Know whores thirdhand
after everyone else is finished
Stagger befuddled into East River sunsets
Sleep in phone booths
Puke in pawnshops
wailing of a winter overcoat.
Let us arise and go now
under the city
where ashcans roll
and reappear in putrid clothes
as the uncrowned underground kings
of subway men's rooms.
Let us feed the pigeons
at the City Hall
urging them to do their duty
in the Mayor's office.
Hurry up please it's time.
The end is coming
Flash floods
Disasters in the sun
Dogs unleashed
Sister in the street
her brassiere backwards.

Let's arise and go now
into the interior dark night
of the soul's bowery
and find ourselves anew
where subways stall and wait
under the River.
Cross over
into full puzzlement.
South Ferry will not run forever.
They are cutting out the Bay ferries
But it is still not too late
to get lost in Oakland.
Washington has not yet toppled
from his horse.
There is still time to goose him
and go
leaving our income tax form behind
and our waterproof wristwatch with it
staggering blind after alleycats
under Booklyn's Bridge
brown statues in baggy pants
our tincan cries and garbage voices
Junk for sale!

Let's cut out let's go
into the real interior of the country
where hockshops reign
mere unblind anarchy upon us,
The end is here
but golf goes on at Burning Tree.
It's raining it's pouring
The Ole Man is snoring.
Another flood is coming
though not the kind you think.
There is still time to sink
and think.
I wish to descend in society.
I wish to make like free.
Swing low sweet Chariot.
Let us not wait for the cadillacs
to carry us triumphant
into the interior
waving at the natives
like roman senators in the provinces
wearing poet's laurels
on lighted brows.
Let us not wait for the write-up
on page one
of The New York Times Book Review
images of insane success
smiling from the photo.
By the time they print your picture
in Life Magazine
you will have become a negative anyway
a print with a glossy finish.
They will have come and gotten you
to be famous
and you still will not be free.
Goodbye I'm going
I'm selling everything
and giving away the rest
to the Good Will Industries.
It will be dark out there
with the Salvation Army Band.
And mind its own illumination.
Goodbye I'm walking out on the whole scene.
Close down the joint.
The system is all loused up.
Rome was never like this.
I'm tired of waiting for Godot.
I am going where turtles win
I am going
where conmen puke and die
Down the sand esplanades
of the official world.
Junk for sale!
My country tears of thee.

Let us go then you and I
leaving our neckties behind on lampposts
Take up the full beard
of walking anarchy
looking like Walt Whitman
a homemade bomb in the pocket.
I wish to descend in the social scale.
High society is low society.
I am a social climber
climbing downward
And the descent is difficult.
The Upper Middle Class Ideal
is for the birds
but the birds have no use for it
having their own kind of pecking order
based upon birdsong.
Pigeons on the grass alas.

Le us arise and go now
to the Isle of manisfree.
Let loose the hogs of peace.
Hurry up please it's time.
Let us arise and go now
into the interior
of Foster's Cafeteria.
So long Emily Post.
So long
Lowell Thomas.
Goodbye Broadway.
Goodbye Herald Square.
Turn it off.
Confound the system.
Cancel all our leases.
Lose the War
without killing anybody.
Let horses scream
and ladies run
to flushless powderrooms.
The end has just begun.
I wish to announce it.
Run don't walk
to the nearest exit.
The real earthquake is coming.
I can feel the building shake.
I am the refined type.
I cannot stand it.
I am going
where asses lie down
with customs collectors who call themselves
literary critics.
My tool is dusty.
My body hung up too long
in strange suspenders.
Get me a bright bandana
for a jockstrap.
Turn loose and we'll be off
where sports cars collapse
and he world begins again.
Hurry up please it's time.
It's time and a half
and there's the rub.
The thinkpad makes homeboys of us all.
Let us cut out
into stray eternity.
Somewhere the fields are full of larks.
Somewhere the land is swinging.
My country 'tis of them
I'm singing.

Let us arise and go now
to the Isle of Manisfree
and live the true blue simple life
of wisdom and wonderment
where all things grow
straight up
aslant and singing
in the yellow sun
poppies out of cowpods
thinking angels out of turds.
I must arise and go now
to the Isle of Manisfree
way up behind the broken words
and woods of Arcady.

After retiring three times, I have come to the conclusion that one of the things that has driven me back to work before, even when I didn't really want to go, was a need for structure in my life. Understanding this, I have, in my current and last retirement, taken care to establish structure to my day. From the time I get up in the morning, I have someplace to go and something to do (usually something connected to writing) when I get there. I allow myself opportunities to break out of that structure, usually by taking a couple-of-day drive-around, when I begin to feel too constricted by the schedule I have constructed for myself.

This is a long way around to explain a short poem about my favorite part of my daily schedule.

the best part of the day

this is the best part
of the day
for me

after the long hours
of my short night,
having breakfast here,
reading my newspapers,
watching out the great windows
as the day grows as it will

large or small,
or as today, clouded
in winter gray

the day becomes,
it begins here

I have a poem now from the anthology Crossing Water, subtitled "Contemporary Poetry of The English-Speaking Caribbean."

The poem I select to use this week is by Cynthia James of Trinidad. James studied at the University of the West Indies and is a poet, fiction writer and teacher of high school books. She has published two books, My Love, poetry, and Sooth Me, Music, Soothe Me, a book of short stories.

turtle watching - i

That night she land emerged in clouded afterbirth
out of the burst dam of the sprawled out sea
and the sky a jeweled hammock prepared
to cradle its innocence, its infancy,
that night the leatherbacks labored
up the sparkling strand to lay her faith,
then heaved her beast towards
the insistent percussion of the sea

most other June nights were brittle nights
night without a reforming poetry
when the moon in spite refused to light,
leered down tongue-in-cheek, those night
under a torchlight violation of her privacy

the leatherback humped onto the land,
cut and swirled the sand with the precision
of a cement grinder, to lay and pack
tears fastened to her bleary eyes

most nights humping her darkened way
down to the vacant water's edge she left
a million years of weariness behind.

Here are two poems from our friend Sue Clennell. The second poem was previously published by Empowa 2.


My father as a boy
watched his grandmother
play cards,
and told her she hadn't
placed the red nine
on the black ten.
Now seventy years later
he wishes for someone
to tell him
to put the black jack
on the red queen.

Gin Rummy

The pack of cards
were well fingered,
it was no crime
in my family
to play cards,
and I played with
little grey Sarah
who always lost
her hair pins.
Not my aunt     dad's aunt
who coughed when upset
and was bowed down
towards the earth.
She cried at the ending
of a World War one movie
when the four brothers
walked in the sky,
and it was only many years after
I remembered her lover
had been killed          and she thought
he too was
drifting through clouds.

I have two poems now by James Laughlin, from his book The Secret Room, published by New Directions in the late 1990s.

Those To Come

Will those who come after us
remember who we were except for
three or four generations of
family? Will there be a child
who amuses herself by going
through cartons of old letters
in the attic? Will she draw
crayon pictures of the people
she reads about, showing what
she imagines we were like?

I'd be a fool to hope that any
of my verses would remain in
print. I must value them by
the amusement I have in composing
them. Just that, nothing more.

But what happened to make me
grow old so soon? When I was
young I never thought of old
age, of what it would be like.
And why can't I recall only part
of some scene I'd like to relive
now? Where have the lost fragments
gone? As I Iie wakeful in bed
what I see is a long corridor
of closed doors.

The Green Hair

My hair is turning from gray
to green. The villagers pretend
not to notice it except for a
few of the kids. The pharmacist
gave me a bottle of something
he said would recolor my hair
but it didn't work. It just
made it more green, and greasy
too. My wife has knitted a
little ski hat to cover it up,
but I have to shave extra hard
to get the green off from my
chin. I went to the Cymotrical
Institute in Hartford. They
said my condition would require
drastic treatment. They proposed
that all my old hair be pulled
out and they would implant new
hair on my scalp. They quoted
a price of five thousand dollars
for doing that. The hell with
them. I grew resigned to having
green hair. Then a friend suggested
consultation with his shrink.
The shrink, a very experienced
man, though my trouble must be
psychosomatic. He had never
seen anything like it. After
several sessions of Freudian
therapy he reached a conclusion.
"You appear to be in good shape
physically but it's clear that
your head wants to cease
living. Your hair is going green
because it wants to match the
green of the grass where you
are going soon. You have,
let me put it scientifically,
'graveyard hair.'" He charged
me five hundred dollars for
that wisdom. The hell with him.

I suppose it would of made more sense to post this poem last week, but by the time I had the poem written last week's blog was already put together, including pictures and title.

Logic! I do'n need no stinkin' logic.

a winter day on Grape Creek Road

the road
twists and winds

with the creek
through the hills

and across pastures,
past ponds,

depressions where the water

past trickles
barely seen below

flat pasture grass,
past bubbles

and swirls
of rushing flow

through deep cuts
in granite

and limestone,
past oak groves


at water's edge,

the hills
and trees

and pastures,
brown and gray

on this clear
and crystal cold

winter day -
the dry canvas

of the season,
the stark truth

hidden elsewhere
beneath softly lying


I'm returning to the Crossing Water Caribbean anthology for another poem because I'm really liking what I'm reading there.

This one is by David Dabydeen, born in 1957 in Guyana. He studied English at Cambridge and Oxford universities and currently teaches at the University of Warwick. He is the author of two books of poetry, Slave Song, winner of the Commonwealth Poetry prize, and Coolie Odyssey. He also published a novel, The Intended.

El Dorado

Juncha slowly dying of jaundice
Or yellow fever or blight or jumbie or neighbor's spite,
No-one knows why he turns the color of cane.

Small boys come to peep, wondering
At the hush of the death-hut
Until their mothers bawl them out.

Skin flaking like goldleaf
Casts a halo round his bed.
He goes out in a puff of gold dust.

Bathed like a newborn child by the women.
Laid out in his hammock in the yard.
Put out to feel the last sun.

They bury him like treasure,
The coolie who worked two shillings all day
But kept his value from the overseer.

It's been a while since we've heard from Walter Durk. And now, here he is again.


As the moon whispers to the ocean
I whisper my dream to you
Everything is best left unsaid
Intensity subdued

Quench the fires of our hearts
No, let them burn!
Immolation suits me
as I simmer with you

There is no shame in exposing oneself


What is love other than the fulfillment
of a short-lived dream?
There are no boundaries, no laws
no lines of demarcation

Love is the sun's rays hitting earth
nothing obstructs them
We burn as two distinct fires in remote regions
One old, one new
Each dream a dream of you.

Next I have a poem by Audre Lorde from her book The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, Poems 1987-1992, published by W. W. Norton in 1993.

This poem is, among other things, a reminder that for folks who live on the coast, every hurricane season is like playing a game of Russian Roulette without knowing how many bullets are in the chamber and when the trigger will be pulled.

A lot like life, that way.

Restoration: A Memorial - 9/18/91

Berlin again     after chemotherapy
I reach behind me once more
for days to come
sweeping around the edges of authenticity
two years after Hugo blew one life away
Death like a burnt star
perched on the rim of my teacup
flaming the honey drips from my spoon
sunlight flouncing off the gargoyles opposite.

Somewhere it is Tuesday
in the ordinary world
ravishment fades
into compelling tasks
our bodies learn to perform
quite a bit of the house is left
our bedroom spared
except for the ankle-deep water
and terrible stench.

Would I exchange this safety of exile
for the muddy hand-drawn water
wash buckets stashed
where our front porch had been
half-rotten vegetables
the antique grey settling over your face
that October.

I want you laughing again
After the stinking rugs are dragged away
the crystal chandelier dug
from the dining-room floor
refrigerator righted
broken cupboards stacked outside
to dry for our dinner fire.

A few trees still stand
in a brand-new landscape
but the sea road is impassable.
Your red shirt
hung out on a bush to dry
is the only flower for weeks.
No escape. No return.
No other life
half so sane.

In this alien and temporary haven
my poisoned fingers
slowly return to normal
I read your letter dreaming
the perspective of a bluefish
or a fugitive parrot
watch the chemicals driving my nails
as my skin takes back its weaknesses.
Learning to laugh again.

Here I go again, talking about the weather.

beyond the fence

four days in a row
of dreary winter-wet
and the weather
grumbles start
from the
always-greener crowd

but not me
for i know what's
on the other side
of the fence
and it's not green pastures,
but a hundred kinds
of south texas
summer misery,
ticks and cactus,
dead, dry grass,
rattlesnakes on
flat-rock hot
days and dead-still
sulfur-tasting nights

i am a
northern light
on a southern
and i know all to well
what is coming
all too soon

Here's one last piece from Crossing Water.

This piece is by Cyril Dabykdeen, a poet born in Guyana and currently teaching Fiction Writing at the University of Ottawa. He has published four volumes of poetry, two short story collections, and two novels.


You knew the world, miraculously,
like an egg on your palm, studying its shape,
geodesic in a way ...

Italy's or Spain's shores, going farther away,
our Europe's distance, an entire ocean throbbing
in th sun's eye -
each wave an eyebrow really...
beginnings all over again, other places, a twig's
foreshadowing, a travel of lost time,
twirling fingers, all hands on deck.

This thrashing of waves all around,
the momentum of a fish flying suddenly,
or a miracle of trinity-peaked mountains.

Further images of men with heads between their
shoulders, beasts or gods; my Arawak's or Carib's face
of fear - welcoming, mirageous again.

The ocean rolling back like a giant carpet,
and mindful of you, lifted up,
pushing, from behind a huge boulder,
feet firmly planted.

On new soil, this groundless earth,
looking up at a contemptuous sky.

Norman Anderson, also, has not been with us in a while. Well, here he is again, with an interesting twist on an old story.

Sun Devil

Well, I was born in 1925
in a little town known as Wilcox, Arizona
Mom split up with dad so I
lived with the Carbajal family
we were dirt poor
but I made it to Arizona State and then USC
then what do I do?
I go off and join the Army
I was in airborne
then in '51 I was
sheep dipped
by the Company
oh, it was a happy day.

See, I had "Old Glory"
wrapped around my brain
get the commies
that was the name of the game
or take over an entire nation
we all got on board the cold war train

In Guatemala
we hit Arbenz
I did what i was told
In Chile we tracked down
Che Guevara
'ol Felix Rodriguez still has
Che's Rolex watch
yah know Che wasn't that bad of a guy

I had "Old Glory"
wrapped around my brain
I was the top "Mechanic"
for The Company
My mind was made up
it's all about security
for our great nation
and the rest is history

In '61 we hit the beach
the Bay of Pigs
Jack left us out to dry
many a great man
died on the sand
Bobby tried to keep it going
with the Zenith Corporation
it was just a front
man, me and Johnny Roselli
and Bill Harvey, Ted Shackley
we had us some fun in Miami
then there was Operation 40
and Alpha 66
but we all knew it was a big pile of

Like I said, We had "Old Glory"
wrapped around our brains
we did our best
so who is to blame?
looking back
I guess to the Company
it's all fun and games

In Dallas me and Frank Sturgis moved around all the time
waiting for the "Big Event"
Jack had no security
Dealy Plaza
a snipers haven
the motorcade route was changed
the patsy was in place
Three shots?
now that's funny
the "Magic Bullet"
I'm busting a gut here!
geez ya know
the last true president of this country
died that day
but nobody wanted a Kennedy dynasty
the military complex wouldn't have it
the "secret team" wouldn't have it
and nothing has been the same
because the shadow government
plays an evil game

I'm sorry but I had "Old Glory"
wrapped around my brain
they called me "El Indio"
killing is all I know
oh, forgive me for the
Phoenix Program in Nam
I did what I was told
god, I felt like Attila the Hun
somebody please
save my soul
we hit Bobby in '68
because he knew who killed Jack
he had to go
Listen I died before I could testify
before the HSCA
in '78
I would'a told everything I knew
I did it for our country
My name is David Sanchez Morales
and that's my story .

The next two poems are from the works of Richard Wilbur taken from Collected Poems, 1943-2004, published by Harcourt in 2004.

Wilbur was a prolific writer, known for both his translations and his own work. The book contains both so I have included in the poems below, first, one of his own poems, followed by his translation of a short poem by Charles Baudelaire.

Security Lights, Key West

Mere minutes from Duval Street's goings-on
The midnight houses of this quiet block,
With their long-lidded shutters, are withdrawn
In sleep past bush and picket, bolt and lock,

Yet each facade is raked by the strange glare
Of halogen, in which fantastic day
Verandah, turret, balustraded stair
Glow like the settings of some noble play.

As if the isle were Prospero's, you seem
To glimpse great summoned spirits as you pass.
Cordelia tells her truth, and Joan her dream,
Becket prepares the sacrifice of Mass,

A dog-tired watchman in that mirador
Waits for the flare that tells of Troy's defeat,
And other lofty ghosts are heard, before
You turn into a narrow, darker street.

There, where no glow or glare outshines the sky,
The pitch-black houses loom on either hand
Like hulks adrift in fog, as you go by.
It comes to mind that they are built on sand,

And that there may be drama here as well,
Where so much murk looks up at star on star:
Though, to be sure, you cannot always tell
Whether those lights are high or merely far.

by Charles Baudelaire


Nature's a temple whose living colonnades
Breathe forth a mystic speech in fitful sighs;
Man wanders among symbols in those glades,
Where all things watch him with familiar eyes.

Like dwindling echoes gathered far away
Into a deep and thronging unison
Huge as the night or as the light of day,
All scents and sounds and colors meet as one.

Perfumes there are as sweet as the oboe's sound,
Green as the prairies, fresh as a child's caress,
- And there are others, rich, corrupt, profound

And of an infinite pervasiveness,
Like myrrh, or musk, or amber, that excite
The ecstasies of sense, the soul's delight.

Out of all the expressions of right-wing Christian arrogance and exclusivity, none set my teeth on edge more than the frequently stated claim that the US is "a Christian Nation."

Well, just stick it where the sun don't shine, friends. The Jews can have their Jewish state and the Muslims all the Muslim republics they want, that's all none of my business. But I live in the United States of American, land of freedom and religious liberty and we don't allow no ayatollahs telling who are the select and who are not.

Not in my country we don't.

it's a Christian Nation, i'm told

though long has been
my belief
that i lived in a nation
of freedom and liberty,
i learned
this week
that i live in a
Christian Nation
and people like me
aren't supposed to be here
and maybe you, too, if you are

Baha'i, Buddhist, Confucian, Hindu, Muslim, Jainist, Jew, Shinto, Sikh, Taoist, Voodooer,
Asatru, Druid, Wiccan, Caodaist, Deist, Druze, Eckankarian, Gnostic, Gypsie,
Krishnaian, Lukumi, Macumba, Mowahhidoon, Santerian, Satanist, Scientologist,
Unitarian Universalist, Yazdeanist, Zeroastrianian, Itian, Neo-paganist

like me
just don't have much interest
or patience
with any of that hocus-

if your are any of those Christ-denying
just face it,
you aren't supposed to be
in this Christian Nation
any more than i am
and are allowed to stay
(provisional status only)
by temporary grant of the Council
of Christ's Own Holy Posse of Pristine PooBaas
who meet every Thursday
over the sacred sacraments

- sweet tea, chicken
fried steak and pecan pie -

there in Waco, Texas,
right down the road from
where those crazy people
burned up all their kids
cause they didn't think their kids
could ever grow up holy enough
without the AK-47's the black
helicopter gov'ment guys
wanted to pry from their cold
dead fingers

it's my continued tenure in this
Great Christian Nation,
that's decided every week
right at God's Little Steakhouse
and Titty bar, and yours, too, if
you are not, like me, at one with our
holy bejebbers Christian Nation, one
nation, under the big dark eye,
of Christ the watcher of all, highly
divisible into the uses and pagan
thems who better damn sure
watch themselves, with liberty
and justice for the uses but not for
thems who never learned the necessary
arts of proper prostrating -

thems being me
and maybe you -

who, like i said, better watchit
or their asses are going to be burning
in hell sooner rather than later, like
we all know their going to be anyway

- see, it's anti-Christian comments
just like that that are going to get
me thrown right out of this country
some day, i mean, hellfire and
tarnation, how can you be a
really good soldier for Christ
like those poor dead Waco children
tried to be, without your AK-47 and grenade
launcher and ballistic missiles
and Starwars fibrillating bodymass
disintegrator, i mean, holy sweetpotatoes,
Jesus needs all the help he can get
and if he can't get it from you, well, you
might just as well turn in you temporary
non-Christian residency card -

so that's mainly what i learned this week,
about how this is a Christian Nation
and all my damned humanistic, Antichrist thinking
is bound to get me shipped out to France
for sure

so see you later, maybe,
on the Champs de Ellesse -
we can maybe split an espresso
and baguette - though one of us
is going to have to play the
accordion if we want to fit in

Next, I have several poems from the anthology 300 T'ang Poems.

The T'ang period in Chinese history, often called the golden age of Chinese poetry, stretched from the years 618 through 906. All subsequent Chinese poetry derives its forms from the creations of that time.

The editors of the anthology include a very interesting introduction to the book that includes, among other things. discussion of the particular difficulties of translation from the Chinese language, which is non-alphabetic, has no articles, no gender, no case, no tenses, and, in poetry, few pronouns or prepositions.

The first of the T'ang poets for this week is Chang Chiu-ling who lived from 673 to 740. He was a native of Ch'u-chiang in Kuangtung who rose to the highest office in the earlier part of the Emperor Hsuan-tsung's reign. As Chief Minister he tried to warn the emperor about dangers to his rule but his warnings were not heeded. He was forced out of office in 737 and was banished to Ching-chou.

Looking at the Moon and Longing for a Distant Lover

A clear moon climbs over the sea;
To its farthest rim
    the whole sky is glowing.
Lovers complain - how endless is the night!
Their longing thoughts rise till the dawn.

I blow out the candle
    to enjoy the clear radiance
Slip on my clothes
    for I feel the dew grow thick.
Since I cannot gather a handful of moonlight
    to give you,
I shall go back to sleep
    and hope to meet you in a dream!

The next poet is Liu Shen-hsu, a poet of the 8th century and holder of various official posts, including Collator of Texts in the Academy of Letters.


The way leads into white clouds
    and disappears;
The spring day is long
    as this glassy stream
Bearing away its freight
    of fallen petals -
Their scent follows the flow of the water
    into the distance

A hermit's door
    fronts the mountain path,
A study set secretly
    in willow trees;
Full sunlight ever flickers
    on this quiet place -
Its clear shining
    blazes on my garments.

Now here's a poem by Wang Wei, a native of T'ai-yung, Shansi. He was a success in service to the Emperor, serving as Court Musician, Censor and Court Secretary and Vice-Premier. In later life he became a Buddhist and lived very simply a his county retreat on the Wang River, where he died in 759. He was an accomplished painter, as well as poet and musician, and is considered the founder of Southern School of landscape painting.

Written by My Country Retreat by the River Wang, After Heavy Rain

Days of rain in the empty woods,
    wavering chimney smoke -
They are stewing vegetable and steaming millet
    to send to the eastern acres.
Over the still flooded fields
    a white heron flies,
In the leafy woods of summer
    pipes a golden oriole.

I have practiced quietude in the mountains
    contemplating the "morning glory":
For my simple meal under the pines,
    I rather dewy ferns,
An old countryman now, I've abandoned
    the struggle for gain -
Why are those seagulls
    so suspicious of me?

My last poem from this anthology is by Li Po, considered by many Chinese as their greatest poet. Born in 701, he died in 762 after a life of mostly wandering in Eastern China. He apparently never set up his own home, never took any of the official examinations and never served in any official appointment except, for some time, Court Poet. At one time, after becoming involved in court intrigues, he spent some months in prison, but was pardoned and returned to his wandering, given the nickname "Banished Immortal," He died in 762.

Tzu-Yeh's Autumn Song

A thin strip of moon
    over Ch'ang-an,
From a thousand homes
    the sound of beating clothes;
Autumn wind
    blows without ceasing.
Their thoughts are all
    at Yu-men pass:
"When will the Tartars be thrown back
And our husbands return from the distant battlefield?"

Back in the grand old days of weekly picture magazines like Life some of the greatest photographers in the world were paid very well to go around the world to take pictures to be published every week. (Imagine that, and the volume of pictures that had to be taken to meet that production schedule.) Along with the photographers, there were writers paid, not as much, to write little 15-20 word prose pieces that could turn the pictures into stories.

I've been experimenting (too grand, fooling around, better) with doing the same sort of thing, combining the two arts with the idea of maybe doing a book some day. The photographs, by Thomas Costales, a series of night images, are terrific and book-ready. The problem for me is writing those little poems that catch the essence of the images.

Though I still have a ways to go before my art matches the photographer's, here are a couple of my early attempts at doing just that. They are much too long and much too not good enough. But, one must forge ahead until they are good enough, or, until I decide to forget the whole idea.

As I envision a book, the photos (about twice the size of the ones below) and the poems would be on facing pages.

do not turn

in silent watch

life slips away
of neon dark

bright treasures
from an island light

the corner

around the corner
other treasures


or maybe
darkly hidden

around the corner -
a kind of truth

or maybe just
little little sharp-eyed tricks

a monkey-faced boy
and three sharp-taloned

around corners


a chubby little man
with perfect little feet
and perfect
little buffed and polished

a fantasy pedicurist,
that's his dream,
harmless, i'm told -

to keep your feet
to you shoes

nestled in the
shadows of night

known to those
who find in the dark
their home

and not to us,
shy creatures
of the lighted
only what we
can see

eastern light
brings warm
to cold concrete

of light to heavy

promise of new
to all
worn by the
of past days'

Here's a poem by Leslie Ullman from her book Slow Work Through Sand, winner of the 1997 Iowa Poetry Prize published by the University of Iowa Press.

Author of three books of poetry and winner of numerous poetry awards, Ullman directs the creative writing program at the University of Texas - El Paso.

Running Horse

It's not because the halter in my
hand has any final say
that my black horse, floating
like a planet around me the past
twenty minutes, suddenly gathers himself
from daybreak and air and stops
just inches away, all
the fireworks of first sun caught
in his black tossing head -
he's ready to let gravity
touch his feet and settle him
into mammal again: sweat, hair, hard
lungfuls of air. He slips
his nose through the halter

and I'm caught in the current
between us as though born to it,
a shimmering silence, slow-motion glints
of hand and hide, non-words rising
like bubbles into my mind's washed light
as wait, listen, touch, while the sun
pulls itself up another notch
and dissolves the black hole I woke to
this morning alone in my breakable
bones and my memory full of holes,
alone in my other language
forming itself again into lists.

I lead him to the saddle and bridle
and the corral full of jumps. His hide
glows and ripples, volcanic, but his head
doesn't worry the rope, doesn't
lengthen or close the space between us.
He moves on tight springs. The rope
shivers in my hand. My pale body
rises from its crouch over a fire
so deep it may be a dream,
rises in its blanket of fear
and muscle, rises again in its
blood that warms the cold caves.

Here's a poem to close out this post. I wrote this earlier this week.

watching though the window at the drift of morning fog

through the window
at the drift of morning fog
of days twenty-five
years ago, driving to
early meetings at the university,
slowly, carefully,
on the road that separates
Corpus Christi Bay and Oso Bay,
a swirling, shifting
gray cocoon of gulf coast fog
hiding everything
but the patch of
yellow light
i cast ahead of me as i drive

from the world of the new day,
nothing to see,
the only sounds breaking
through the gray mist, the faint call
of a gull, the slap of jumping fish
breaking the water on either side,
the lights of the university
like small lace curtains
show along side the road,
so close, unseen until
i'm nearly passed

outside, today,
i see little lights passing
on the interstate, like lightning bugs
flickering in the gray -
if i was outside
i could probably hear a dove
from a tree
i could not see

like this,
each day brings
memories of days
not to return, only remembered now
on new days
that will pass as well,
leaving us,
eventually, with only memories
of memories remembered

And that's it for 2009. "Here and Now"will be back, bright and early, in 2010.

As usual all the material in this blog remains the property of its creators. Also as usual, any of the stuff created by me is available to whoever wants it.

I am allen itz, owner and producer of this blog and I wish you a merry christmas, if you do that sort of thing; if you don't, be happy anyway. We all deserve it of ourselves and of each other.


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