Celebrate!   Friday, January 23, 2009


IV.1.4&5.
.



THIS IS A DOUBLE ISSUE: Due to problems with my web host, ipower.com,
which seems to have very minimal interest in assisting their customers with problems, I am now five days behind schedule in posting my last blog. Despite their non-responsiveness so far, I am still hoping to be back in publishing mode by the end of this week.

Instead of skipping an issue, I've decided to combine what I had intended to post last Friday with what I was hoping to post next Friday in one large issue, with the first part (last week) followed by the second part (this week). Since it is roughly twice the length of my normal posts, it will probably take longer than usual to load.

If there are internal inconsistencies, that is why.

I begin with what I had intended to post last week.

*****
*
*
*


This past week was a great one for me, for my country, and for all my fellow countrymen (though some may not yet be ready to admit it).

Two years of American politics, some of it as banal as usual, some of it shameful and some of it uplifting, came to conclusion this past week with inauguration of our forty-fourth president, a president who could be one of our great ones...I think...I hope...because with this mess we're in, economic bust, needful and needless wars, evil enemies in dark corners plotting abainst us, and all the rest, it's going to take someone special to get us out of it.

Among other benefits, I'm thinking it's going to be a long time before I feel the need/urge to write another political poem. Such a relief!

All that said, here's what I have for you these weeks, most of it having nothing at all to do with the events of the week.

From friends of "Here and Now"

Dan Flore
Richard Moorhead
Leon JW
James Hutchings
Dan Cuddy
Joanna M. Weston
Margaret Barrett Mayberry
Francina

From my library

N. Scott Momaday
Mary Tallmountain
R. G. Vliet
Ken Waldman
April Bernard
John Guzlowski
Andre Codrescu
Czeslaw Milosz
Ted Hughes
Claire Kageyama-Ramakishman
Jane Kenyon
Pat Lowther
Po Chu-I
W.S. Renda
Deborah Digges
Wilfred Owen
Walt Whitman
Charles Bukowski
Thomas Lux
Mary Jo Bang


And me.








I haven't used poems from Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry in a while, not because I didn't want to, but because, in a frenzy of cleaning several months ago it got slipped under the bookcase and lost. Well, now, in another frenzy of cleaning, it has been found.

Here are several of the poets we've been missing during its under-the-bookcase exile.



First, here are two poems by N. Scott Momaday.

A member of the Kiowa tribe, Momaday was born in Oklahoma in 1934. He grew up in the Southwest and considers northern New Mexico his home. He graduated from the University of New Mexico and holds MA and Ph.D degrees from Stanford University. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for his novel House Made of Dawn. A painter as well as a writer, his paintings have been exhibited in Europe as well as the United States.



North Dakota, North Light

The cold comes about
among the sheer, lucent planes.

Rabbits rest in the foreground,
the sky is clenched upon them.

A glassy wind glances
from the ball of bone in my wrist
even as I brace myself,
and I cannot conceive
of summer;

and another man in me
stands for it,
wills even to remain,

figurative, fixed,

among the hard, hunchbacked rabbits,
among the sheer, shining planes


To A Child Running
With Outstretched Hands
in Canyon de Chelly


You are small and intense
In your excitement, whole,
Embodied in delight.
The backdrop is immense;

the sand banks break and roll
Through cleavages of light
And shadow. You embrace
The spirit of this place.



My next poet from the book is Mary TallMountain, born Mary Demonski in the interior of Alaska of Athabaskan-Russian and Scotch-Irish ancestry.



The Women in Old Parkas

snapping gunshot cold
blue stubborn lips clapped shut
the women in old parkas
loosen snares      intent and slow

they handle muskrat      Yukon way
appease his spirit yeega'
bare purple hands
stiffen      must set lines again

      .      .      .

night drops quick black
in winter house      round shadows
cook fresh meat soup steam floats
thin bellies grumble

they pick up skinwork      squint
turn lamp-wick down      kerosene
almost gone      sew anyway

oh! this winter is the worst
everything running out not much furs
they make soft woman hum...

but hey! how about those new parkas
we hung up for Stick Dance!
how the people sing!
how crazy shadows dip and stamp
on dancehouse walls!their
remembering arms rise like birdwings

      .      .      .

at morning they look into the sky
laugh at little lines of rain
finger their old paras
think: spring comes soon


There Is No Word for Goodbye

Sokoya, I said, looking through
      the net of wrinkles into
      wise black pools
      of her eyes

What do you say in Athabaskan
      when you leave each other?
      What is the word
      for good bye?

A shade of feeling rippled
      the wind-tanned skin.
      Ay, nothing, she said,
      watching the river flash

She looked at me close
      We just say, Tlaa. that means,
      See you.
      We never leave each other.
      When does your mouth
      say goodbye to your heart?

She touched me light
      as a bluebell
      You forget when you leave us,
      you're so small then.
      We don't use that word.

We always think you're coming back,
      but if you don't,
      we'll see you someplace else.
      You understand
      there is no word for goodbye.








I wrote this last week several days before the inauguration. Soon, I hope, GW will be out of sight and out of mind. In the meantime, I keep ending up with him in my poems no matter where I start.



legacy

it's
a January-looking day,
dark and damp,
looking like it might be about 3 degrees
and, figuring in wind-chill,
it just might be

walking the Oaks
with Reba,
sniffing and peeing
and loving every minute of it,
her, not me,

for me it's just too damn cold

cold...

you wonder how cold these days in January
must be for George Bush,
given the grandest kind of chance
to make history
to do great things,
knowing for the rest of his life,
beginning next week,
that it's over
and he screwed it up

history-maker,
on that exclusive list of all-American
fuck-ups
that every school child will study,
Lincoln, Washington, FDR on this side,
the great ones,
and on the other side
the Presidential Order of Fuck-Ups, Buchanan,
Harding, and at the top of that dishonored list,
Bush II, who couldn’t even make it
to the nice-try list with his father,
the also-rans, the nonentities

cold...

a cold day for me,
but it will warm for me, next week,
next month, or even in the next several days

but, for him,
even Texas heat will not warm
that cold knot of failure
lodged at the base of his spine
on even the hottest of days in July and August

his legacy to
live with








R.G. Vliet died of cancer in 1984 at the age of 54.

Born in Chicago, Vliet completed high school in Texas and went on to obtain Bachelors and M.Ed. at Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State University). After two years as a teacher in Texas, he went on study at the Yale School of Drama. He published three volumes of poetry, several short stories, three novels and several plays, all highly regarded by critics.

The next poem is from Vliet's book Water Stone, published by Random House in 1980.



Oneonta, New York

The scraped sidewalks, the glazed
hardened snow. Someone
has flung a dime into the sky.
The college girls hurry
to classes, their skin smoking
inside their slips, dresses, sweaters,
coats. Cold tears
are at the edges of our eyes. Our hair
crackles with electric cold.
The naked, iron-torsoed
elms' roots go under
the sidewalks - how can they live
in those vaults? Our hands are deep
in the bear caves of our pockets.
They think of straw and dry
leaves. Our cheeks are rigid.
To move our jaws might make
them crack. We could be crushed
so easily by stone buildings.
To go into hot rooms
where there is coffee is not to go
into a true world. Our lenses
mist. We are strange
without our constricted hearts,
our overcoats. Here outside, the frame
houses are like Viking boats
caught in the floes, their lapstrakes
sheeted with ice. Our blood
huddles in our stomachs. Our pale
shadows die at four
o'clock.
        Right now I am in Mexico:
the sun
hammers and brightens the leaves,
kindles the bituminous black
feathers of the ani, fattens
the mangoes, heats them to the seed








The next two poems are by friend of "Here and Now," Dan Flore.

Dan, known to the on-line poetry world as "Octogenarian," lives in Pennsylvania. He leads poetry groups for people with mental illness. Dan is working on a poetry book to hopefully get published.

The first poem is new; the second is one I've had for some time but just haven't been able to get to.



shivering shaking

I am a lost signal
but a BEACON is combing me
I travel into faded newspaper
my retinas
filled with junk mail
but I see
sky maracas
an ocean of neon warmth
I barely bathe
in it's tingling waters


and that was tim

cold music
on his answering machine
dusting him
into a black trance
his eyes were always rolled back
leaning against dead walls

he was a
tattered
reckless
boy
in his 40s
when the trucks
went by
he thought they were toys

his knives all sharpened
ready to stab
adulthood

he looked for bad advice
wherever he could find it

he was a shiver
under the fragrant honey sky








Here's a short poem by Ken Waldman from his book Nome Poems, published by West End Press in 2000.

The poem - just a little history on the naming of Nome.



Name

Who knows, with a little luck
the white mining town on a tip
of the Steward Peninsula
might have been known as Heaven
but for the lame mapmaker
who mistook Name? and answered
by shaving the tail from that
small a, thus labeling the place

to rhyme to with home. Nome,
a friend says to approach you
as one does a bear trap - and pass.
Another calls you the dark wound.
Myself, long-caught in nether worlds
of the devil's doing, I escape
by writing you, inhabiting you,
trashing you, releasing you.








Seems like this ought to be tax deductible.



everyone must do their part to make a better world

cut
all my hair off yesterday

do it
twice a year

whether
needed or no

January
and July

July's
not so bad

but
January

well
let's just say

my neck feels
refrigerated right now...

i ship all the clippings
to the Society for Relief

of Baldheaded Men in
Bangladesh

world peace
will surely ensue








We go now to somewhere we haven't been in a while - to that huge collection of poetry, World Poetry, An Anthology of Verse From Antiquity To Our Time, compiled and edited by Katharine Washburn, John S. Major, and Clifton Fadiman.

Such a project this must have been, over 1,300 pages of poetry and notes.

No need to go all the way back to antiquity for the next three Siberian poems, poets unknown, from, most likely, the 17th or 18th century. All three were translated by Charles Simic.



The Sky Is Strewn With Stars

The sky is strewn with stars
And the wide meadow with sheep.
The sheep have no shepherd
Except for crazy Radoye
And he has fallen asleep.
His sister Janna wakes him:
Get up, crazy Radoye,
Your sheep have wandered off.
Let them, sister, let them.
The witches have feasted on me,
Mother carved my heart out,
Our aunt held the torch for her.


Brotherless Sisters

Two sisters who had no brother
Made one of silk to share,
of white silk and red.
For his waist they used barberry wood,
Black eyes, two precious stones.
For eyebrows sea leeches.
Tiny teeth a string of pearls.
They fed him sugar and honey sweet
And told him: now eat and then speak.


A Girl Threw An Apple to a Cloud

A girl threw an apple to a cloud,
And the cloud kept the apple.
The girl prayed to all the clouds:
Brother clouds, give me back my golden apple.
The guest have arrived:
My mother's brothers and my uncles.
Their horses are wild like mountain fairies.
When they grad the dust
The dust doesn't rise,
When they tread on water,
Their hooves don't get wet.








My next poem is by a new friend of "Here and Now," Richard Moorhead.

Richard was born in 1969, in Northumberland, England. He lives in Wales. His day-job involves writing rather dry-prose for other academics and policy wonks.



Trio

I. Piano

White lupins lace
iced notes

and oiled oak
yawning

with old graves
and kids

their hot cheeks flushed
from song


II. Savoyard Six Year Old

Minced garlic and
gruyere

off flowery
Riesling

Alpine spice
and you

just say, "smells like
donkey poo"


III. When you've got a face on

I have burnt
my bridge

across the
table

cracking jokes
that squib

notes dropped in oiled
puddles








Next, I have two short poems by April Bernard from her book Psalms, published by W. W. Norton in 1993.

Bernard lives in New York City and Amherst, Massachusetts. Her first book of poems, Blackbird Bye Bye won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets.



Psalm of the Surprised

The world lay warm and sugared at waking,
as the head of a child leans back into a big hand, learning to float

So shall we now lean, back into the forgiveness of strangers,
the blue and red serapes moving bodiless past cafe railings

Warm sun plucks the hair of sheep and the skins of pigs
from our backs, leaving us clothed in dust motes
and their conveyances, beams

A pair of miniature women from across the river
arrived clutching portents in a bag they would not open

Wipe the salted, grateful, ignoble tear from the triangle of the eye;
finger the beads of hematite, tell the new words,
a prayer for every step hesitant across cobblestones
rounded and polished, slick with shine


Psalm of the Apartment-Dweller

Take the feet of those who march.
Take the hands of that clench.
Take the furthest thing from useful you can find and set it down:
This is where I live.
Thick bloody paint puddles between the floorboards.
Here once I entertained my family.
But the man ran off to sea, and my son fell ill
and wept until he was sent away by the people who came.
My daughter refuses to pray. When I force her to her knees
she holds her tiny red hands together and whispers:
"O pigeon, I will feed you with the crumbs form my table,
I will sing your praises to all men. I will hold a cracker
on my tongue and swiftly will you seize it." Selah








Having my morning coffee, letting my mind skip where it wants on Martin Luther King Day, the day before Barack Obama's inauguration, coming around to this.



thinking about mundane things on a beautiful Monday morning

i'm here at Borders

D's at Sears
trying to get satisfaction
for work paid for but not adequately done
on her car - she'll call for me to get her
after she gives up and surrenders
to the inevitable and admits she's screwed
and nobody,
not even Barack Obama and all his legions
are going to be able
to beat Sears down and get her money back

that's
just the way it is

had a call yesterday,
an inquiry about the money pit
we've been trying to sell for nearly six months now -
we've had lots of calls
about the place, most seeming to assume
we were interested in giving the place away,
but this one sounds promising, says
he's looking for a place for his mother
and may even have some money

MLK day -

reminds me of a friend from college days -
a flaming liberal he, me with a flame set a little bit lower,
good friends, had done a couple of marches together,
short main streets in little Texas towns
nobody heard of before or since, he a leader
with political ambitions, me mostly the follower type,
a believer, but not ready to do much about it unless
pushed -

he and i taking a bus to Austin (this was 1965, legal segregation
a thing of the recent past - people still trying to figure out
what it meant, still trying it on for fit, old habits dying hard
for both black and white)
crowded bus, two empty seats,
back seat where the colored used to sit,
a bench seat
and another seat closer to the front
next to a middle-aged black woman in a little Sunday hat
and coat - i, walking ahead, went all the way to the back,
expecting my friend to take the seat by the woman - instead
he tried to crowd in next to me, i pointed to the seat next to the woman
but he wouldn't move, determined to squeeze in beside me, make space
for one fit two, and i realized despite all the talk, he couldn't make himself
sit next to a black person so i gave him the back seat and moved
to the seat by the woman, nodding to her as i sat - she did not nod back, did not
acknowledge me at all as i struggled to take as little space as possible

it's probable the woman didn't see anything of what happened between
my friend and i, though in my embarrassment, i imagined she did,
making me fell small

true to the self-referential mindset of the oppressor class,
it was years before it came to me
that the drama was mine and none of her own

she'd surely been happier
to have the whole seat
to herself

a flock of morning doves
flies over,
soft soundless missiles,
heads and sharp beaks point the way,
wings spread,
white and grey breasts
exposed
against the quiet blue sky

D hasn't called yet

not ready, i guess, to give up the fight








From the Spoon River Poetry Review - Winter/Spring 2007, I have two poems by John Guzlowski.

Guzlowski retired in 2007 from Eastern Illinois University, where he taught contemporary American literature and poetry writing. Born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, he came with his family to the United States in 1951. Much of his writing concerns his parents experiences in Nazi slave-labor camps during the war.



Grief

My mother cried for a week, first in the boxcars
then in the camps. Her friends said, "Tekla,
don't cry, the Germans will shoot you
and leave you in the field," but she couldn't stop.

Even when she had no more tears, she cried,
cried the way a dog will gulp for air
when it's choking on a stick or some bone
it's dug up in a garden and swallowed.

The woman in charge gave her a cold look
and knocked her down with her fist like a man,
and then told her if she didn't stop crying,
she would call the guard to stop her crying.

But my mother couldn't stop. The howling
was something loose in her nothing could stop.


Temptation in the Desert

If a German soldier comes to you
and asks you to shoot the man
next to you because the man
isn't even bones in his striped suit,

tell the soldier, "No, you're the devil,
and though you offer me the cities
of the world and all their soft women
and bread, I won't shoot this man
thought he is dead as I am dead.

We are brothers in death, and brothers
in death don't torment each other
no matter what the prize, no matter
that death is the only prize left."








Here's another new friend of "Here and Now," Leon JW,appearing this week for the first time.

Originally from the Maryland-DC area, Leon has been in Southern California for just a couple of years. He says it was the cold weather cold weather back east that drove him to the west coast.

He describes his writing experience as limited to technical manuals for computer users, working as a computer programmer/analyst for the federal government. He retired early after twenty-some years of service.



belief in you

your fragrance
punctuates a silence

we face each other
observing a far point
talk backwards
hesitant to go forward

vision is heathen
has no faith
i want to believe in you

believe in foreign answers
find myself in different eyes

marvel
vestiges of the sun cascade on your shoulders
bright enough to swallow shadows
i want to see a collage of radiant reasons

feel
a serrated blade open conception
pour back the liquid essence wafting dry winds








Andre Codrescu is a Romanian-born American poet, memoirist, journalist and editor. He is Professor of English at Louisiana State University and editor of the literary magazine, The Exquisite Corpse. He is also a regular commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

This poem is from his book Belligerence, published by Coffee House Press in 1991.



Y Un Cancion Por E.

We are elements of design just now.
We can't decide between food or love.
This is such thick book I fear
it will take years to read.
Don't got it. Fresh out.
A week? Don't got that neither.
A day? An night? Too long.
An hour then? A minute?
OK, but you must hurry.
Close the book. Let's
Run. Jump over the fat Turk
scarfing up the van.
Put your face in mine,
roll up your skin in mine,
save space as well as time,
don't get tangled
in the tugboat lines,
they're there for other crimes.
Cut across fields,
streak through alleys, go
over the national defenses
of several small
nations. Like that.
And you who hold the soap bubble
between your chopsticks
over us like an umbrella
over two sick mammals
see that what quivers under
is merely animation
to throw into relief
what rages above,
cheek, eyes, lips, etc. Oh love.
Has watching hit a snag,
is everybody's watch
broke or in decline?
Quite fine thank you,
having a life.
I didn't say intriguing,
I said weird. And all.








Here's a found poem, tweaked a bit at the end by me, from a story on the front page of the New York Times several days ago.



praise God from whom all blessings flow

      (a found poem)

a man
on a motorbike
pulled alongside
her
asked
what seemed an ordinary question

"Are you going to school?"

then he pulled her burqa
from her head
and sprayed her face
with burning acid

17 years old
and bravely back in school
she says

"They want us to be stupid
things."

(New York Times, Front Page, January 14, 2009)

praise God...

in all his cruel and grotesque
forms

amen








James Hutchings is a friend who's been with us a number of times. He's a 58-year-old truck driver who started writing poetry when he was in school, playing in garage bands and writing songs, a kind of natural progress to poetry, he says.



Quoudam

reflection of a reflection
that's what I have become
following in the footsteps
of he who I reflect

the first time I heard it
I couldn't accept the words
me like him I think not
we are not alike

he yells too much
takes a hard view of life
carries his load with no mewl
and cannot accept change

the strength of two men
hands huge and calloused
arms pumped to excess
hard as an anvils clang

this is not me I cry
I can see rainbow color
the beauty of earth
the tenderness of love

I wonder of things
feel the softness of woman
and children's laughter
hear the cacophonous of sound

how can I be him
clawing so hard against it
trying so much to be unlike
battering my heart to his

but it is true I know
but battle it no more
accepting is the way to peace
all I seek is that

carry the wisps of conversion
to the next level
and give to those that follow
this mirrored image.....








A defector from Communist Poland, Czeslaw Milosz was a poet, prose writer, translator and 1980 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. From 1961 to 1978 he was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley.

Born in 1911, Milosz died back in his native Poland in 2004.

The next three poems are from the collection of his work, Provinces, Poems 1987-1991, published in 1991 by Ecco Press.



Blacksmith Shop

I liked the bellows operated by rope.
A hand or foot pedal - I don't remember which.
But that blowing, and the blazing of the fire!
And a piece of iron in the fire, held there by tongs,
Red, softened for the anvil,
Beaten with a hammer, bent into a horseshoe,
Thrown in a bucket of water, sizzle, steam.

And horses hitched to be shod,
Tossing their manes; and in the grass by the river
Plowshares, sledge runners, harrows waiting for repair

At the entrance, my bare feet on the dirt floor,
Here, gusts of heat; at my back, white clouds.
I stare and stare. It seems I was called for this:
To glorify things just because they are.


December 1

The vineyard country, russet, reddish, carmine-brown in this season.
A blue outline of hills above a fertile valley.
It's warm as long as the sun does not set, in the shade cold returns.
A strong sauna and then swimming in a pool surrounded by trees.
Dark redwoods, transparent pale-leaved birches.
In their delicate network, a sliver of the moon.
I describe this for I have learned to doubt philosophy
And the visible world is all that remains.


Good Night

No duties. I don't have to be profound.
I don't have to be artistically perfect.
Or sublime. Or edifying.
I just wander. I say: "You were running,
That's fine. It was the thing to do."
And now the music of the worlds transforms me.
My planet enters a different house.
Trees and lawns become more distinct.
Philosophies one after another go out.
Everything is lighter yet not less odd.
Sauces, wine vintages, dishes of meat.
We talk a little of district fairs,
Of travels in a covered wagon with a cloud of dust behind,
Of how rivers once were, what the scent of calamus is.
That's better than examining one's private dreams.
And meanwhile it has arrived. It's here, invisible.
Who can guess how it got here, everywhere.
Let others take care of it. Time for me to play hooky.
Buena notte. Ciao. Farewell.








Here are three short poems by friend and frequent "Here and Now" contributor Dan Cuddy



Word In The Wind

is the wind dark, cold, hot, searing, bitter?

is it a blade that cuts the skin,
shaves it,
removes it from the bone,
the skin,
like shivers of wood
a pile of thin flakes moved
by the breath of a thing invisible?

the wind?

a word?
yes, a word.
that is the wind,
a word.



Sirens

sirens race highways
nights blink on and off
one image after the other

declarative sentences can't say
"may I?"
"I should"
but hyphenate disparate facts
the neon light's off and on
the red-lit skin on stage
and the red eyes of sorrow, fatigue, drink

but sirens wink
as they joke
in the party of the night
that arrests everything


Epiphany

Time
Flushed down the toilet

Oh, such a magnificent swirl
And we the detritus
In our little boats
The wind in our hair

To hell with the maw of hell
It is a swell ride








As a generally progressive Democrat, I've had few moments during my years as a voter of unalloyed excitement and hope, and every one of those few were short-lived.

1964, with its crushing defeat of Barry Goldwater and his reactionary radicalism and the excitement of the Great Society, turning to Viet Nam and the disaster of 1968; 1976, with the victory of Jimmy Carter, a decent man who seemed to understand the need to get past Richard Nixon and our racialized past, turning to hostage crises, a lousy economy and the victory of the Goldwater radicalism we thought was dead and buried; and finally, 1992, and another Southerner, young, a political genius who seemed capable of finding a new way to lead and set aside the past's divisions, turning to a sleazy sex scandal that demeaned the office and the nation.

High hopes dashed.

I have high hopes now with a new president who seems uniquely able to lift the nation, to return it to those days when we believed in ourselves and each other and our nation's prospects. As I look to the future, i am trying very hard to forget the past and its disappointments.

I've tried several times to put that in a poem. This, written two weeks ago, is as close as I've come.



suspension of disbelief

in the
Wall Street Journal
Peggy Noonan
writes of the need for
suspension
of disbelief at those times
when great events
promise a new and benign
beginning

in a great line
she says -
the audience knows
the two actors on stage
aren't really dead, but still believes
Romeo and Juliet are

to believe
two opposite and contrary things
at the same time
is sometimes seen as a symptom
of mental distress
when,
in fact it is something we do
all the time, with every movie we see,
with every book we read

so it is
with the grand events of next week

to be a part of the great moment...

to be fully in the great moment...

to give ourselves the gift of that great moment...

we must set aside
the realities of war and politics
and distress
of all the kinds that plague us

and see,
if only for one day,
the promise
and the
hope

allow
if only for one day
the dream
to exercise its wings
and fly








My next poem is by Ted Hughes from his book Birthday Letters, published in 1998 by Farrar Straus Giroux. Hughes, born in 1930, was Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II and the author of numerous books of poetry, prose and translations.
He lived in Doven, England and died in 1998 of heart attack.

In 2003, he was portrayed by British actor Daniel Craig in Sylvia, a biographical film of his deceased wife Sylvia Plath.



Black Coat

I remember going out there,
the tide far out, the North Shore ice-wind
Cutting me back
To the quick of the blood - that outer-edge nostalgia,
The good feeling. My sole memory
Of my black overcoat. Padding the wet sandspit.
I was staring out to sea, I suppose.
Trying to feel thoroughly alone,
Simply myself, with sharp edges -
Me and the sea one big tabula rasa,
As if my returning footprints
Out of that scrim of gleam, that horizon-wide wipe,
Might be a whole new start.

My shoe-sole shapes
My only sign.
My minimal but satisfying discussion
With the sea.
Putting my remarks down, for the thin tongue
Of the sea to interpret. Inaudibly.
A therapy.
Instructions too complicated for me
At the moment, but stowed in my black box for later.
Like feeding a wild deer
With potato crisps
As you do in that snapshot where you exclaim
Back towards me and my camera.

So I had no idea I had stepped
Into the telescopic sights
Of the paparazzo sniper
Nested in your brown iris.
Perhaps you had no idea either.
So far off, half a mile maybe,
Looking towards me. Watching me
Pin the sea's edge down.
No idea
How the double image
Your eye's inbuilt double exposure
Which was the projection
Of your two-way heart's diplopic error.
The body of the ghost and me the blurred see-through
Came into single focus,
Sharp-edged, stark as a target,
Set up like a decoy
Against the freezing sea
From which your dead father had just crawled.

I did not feel
How, as your lenses tightened
He slid into me.








With encoouragement from my house mates at the Blueline's "House of 30," I continue to do my poem a day. I end this week's post with the poem I wrote on June 20th, an inaugural poem.



i celebrate today

i
celebrate today

i
celebrate the end of eight years of shame and dishonor -
but
not much

for i am an American
and care little for the past -
dead to us all
as it is

it is the future i want to get my hands on

i celebrate the future
today

i
celebrate my country
today










Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishman was born in Santa Monica and raised in Los Angeles. She received a B.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, earned an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Virginia, then an M.A. in literature at the University of California and, finally, a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston. She is a full-time instructor at Houston Community College-Central Campus.

The next two poems are from her book Shadow Mountain published by Four Way Books in 2008.



In Wyoming

my grandmother's arms
spin like an autumn
wheel. She juggles some
green-gold kumquats while
she waits to fry fish.

Rose rinses spiders
from Silurian
vertebrae and dusts
a fling spear she found
near the railroad tracks.

My great-grandfather
is naked beneath
his towel as he
runs after Tom with
an ax and bottle

of homemade rice wine.
The family rooster
cackles by the black
stove. It pecks the back
of my mother's socks,

and pustulant knees.
My grandfather steps
in with another
bootful of rainbows.
He takes the ax from

his father and grabs
the rooster by its
neck, hikes the hill for
his youngest daughter,
and hacks off its head.


The Denver Lady

I remember the Denver Lady well.
She sewed me
a cushion out of terry cloth
and autumn-colored yarn.

I remember her hair -
Damascus-steel bun,
her beauty
beneath her cage of bones.

I remember a blue spot on
her face, her wrinkled cheeks smoothed
when she smiled her
ginger-stained teeth.

She sang to me one night,
Go ne ne, go ne ne.
When she turned senile,
she still had lids,

lavender like mother-of-pearl.
The Denver Lady
is the woman standing
in the middle of Sawtelle

clutching a twisted maple stick,
a purple chrysanthemum
tucked in the waist
of her butterfly kimono.

She doesn't remember
the child I was.
She doesn't know
the woman I've become.








For every Saturday night, there's a Monday morning when the party's over and it's time to move on.

Time for a post-inaugural poem -



the morning after

well....

it's time to do the dishes
now

time to mop the tile
and vacuum all the confetti
out of the carpet

straighten the pictures
on the wall
and apologize to the neighbors
for all the noise

party's over
and like every other Monday
in our life
it's time to go back to work,
put aside
the party hats and horns

forgive Uncle Jake
for crying in his beer

climb into our Ford Fiesta
and make the commute,
as insanely ripe
with

cellphone-drivers,
putting-on-their-make-up-drivers,
LaMans-wannabe-drivers,
pissed-off-at-the-boss-and-the-rest-of-the-human-race-drivers,
sleepy-head-drivers,
besotted-with-love-drivers,
save-the-whales-drivers,
my-son-is-a-honor-student-at-Central-Elementary-drivers,
Jesus-saves-drivers,
at-the-first-national-bank-drivers,
down-with-Darwin-up-with-Jesus-drivers,
Jesus-was-a-fish-in-evolved-form-drivers,
why-am-i-here-drivers,
protected-by-Colt 45-drivers,
visualize-peace-drivers,
back-the-fuck-off-drivers,
it-may-be-a-heap-but-it's-paid-for-drivers,
we-are-all-one-drivers,
my-son-can-beat-up-your-honor-student-drivers,
God-protect-me-among-all-these-crazies-drivers

as ever
in this dodge'm home we call ours

so it's a new day
now

which is to say it's another day
now

in need of the best we can offer -

just like before








Next, I have two winter poems by Jane Kenyon, from her book, The Boat of Quiet Hours, published by Graywolf Press in 1986.

Kenyon was born in Anna Arbor and graduated from the University of Michigan. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications and she has published three books, From Room to Room, in 1978, Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova.

Born in 1947, Kenyon died in 1995.



Ice Storm

for the hemlocks and broad-leafed evergreens
a beautiful and precarious state of being...
Here in the suburbs of New Haven
nature, unrestrained, lops the weaker limbs
of shrubs and trees with a sense of aesthetics
that is practical and sinister...

I am a guest in this house.
On the bedside table Good Housekeeping, and
A Nietzsche Reader...The others are still asleep.
The most painful longing comes over me.
A longing not of the body...

It could be for beauty -
I mean what Keats was panting after,
for which I love and honor him;
it could be for the promises of God;
or for oblivion, nada; or some condition even more
extreme, which I intuit, but can't quite name.


Walking Alone in Later Winter

How long the water has lasted - like a Mahler
symphony, or an hour n the dentist's chair.
In the fields the grasses are matted
and gray, making me think of June, when hay
and vetch burgeon in the heat, and warm rain
swells the globed buds of the peony.

Ice on the pond breaks into huge planes. One
sticks like a barge gone awry at the neck
of the bridge...The reeds
and shrubby brush along the shore
gleam with ice that shatters when the breeze
moves them. From beyond the bog
the sound of water rushing over trees
felled by the zealous beavers,
who bring them crashing down...Sometimes
it seems they do it just for fun.

Those days of anger and remorse
come back to me; you fidgeting with your ring,
sliding it off, the jabbing it on again.

The wind is keen coming over the ice;
it carries the sound of breaking glass.
And the sun, bright but not warm,
has gone behind the hill. Chill, or the fear
of chill, sends me hurrying home.








Next I have a couple of poems from a returning friend of "Here and Now," Joanna M. Weston.

Joanna has had poetry, reviews, and short stories published in anthologies and journals for twenty years. She has two middle-readers, The Willow Tree Girl and Those Blue Shoes, as well as a book of poetry, A Summer Father, published by Frontenac House of Calgary. All are in print.



Headstone

grain, pale as an old man's skin
moves in the sun
shifts dews of sweat
and folds closer
over shaft-lines
cut deep

       his headstone stands
       among tall grass
       where the mine
       bequeathed him
       to a woman's tears
       and time grew
       over his bones


Early Flight

red-clothed people
shovel dust
every afternoon
into cargo planes
that take off at sunset

       engines almost stall
       at 3.32 a.m.
       with the pilot
       laughing, laughing
       doors open
       dust falls
       goose-feather soft
       into my sleep
       onto my floors

I turn over
as mites sink
into my dreams

with morning
I spray lemon oil on furniture
sweep dust into a silver jug
add hot water, stir thoroughly
serve in willow-pattern cups








The next several poems are from Poetry for the Earth - A collection of poems from around the world that celebrate nature. The book was published by Fawcett Columbine in 1991.


The first poem is by Pat Lowther. Born in 1935, Lowther was murdered in 1975 at the age of 40. She was co-chair of The League of Canadian Poets at the time of her death. Her book A Stone Diary was published Posthumously.


Coast Range

Just north of town
the mountains start to talk
back-of-the-head buzz
of high stubbled meadows
minute flowers
moss gravel and clouds

They're not snobs, these mountains,
they don't speak Rosicrucian,
they sputter with
billygoat-bearded creeks
bumsliding down
to splat into the sea

they talk with the casual
tongues of water
rising in trees

They're so humble they'll let you
blast highways through them
baring their iron and granite
sunset-coloured bones
broken for miles

And nights when
clouds foam on a beach
of clear night sky,
those high slopes creak
in companionable sleep

Move through gray green
aurora of rain
to the bare fact:
The land is bare.

Even the curly opaque Pacific
forest, chilling you full awake
with wet branch-slaps,
is somehow bare
stainless as sunlight:

The land is what's left
after the failure
of every kind of metaphor.

The plainness of first things
trees
gravel
rocks
naive root atom
of philosophy's first molecule

The mountains reject nothing
but can crack
open your mind
just by being intractably there

Atom: that which can not
be reduced

You can gut them
blast them
to slag
the shapes they've made in the sky
cannot be reduced


The next poem is by Po Chu-I. Born in the year 772, Po died in 846. He was Governor of Hanchow and Soochow provinces until leaving that post due to ill health. After a period of recuperation, he became Governor of Ho-Nan, living in the capital Lo-Yung until his death.

His poem was translated by Arthur Waley.


Having Climbed to the Topmost Peak of the Incense-Burner Mountain

Up and up, the Incense-burner peak!
In my heart is stored what my eyes and ears perceived.
All the year - detained by official business;
Today at last I got a chance to go.
Grasping the creepers, I clung to dangerous rocks;
My hands and feet - weary from groping for hold.
There came with me three of four friends.
But two friends dared no go further.
At last we reached the topmost crest of the Peak;
My eyes were blinded, my soul rocked and reeled.
The chasm beneath me - ten thousand feet;
The ground I stood on, only a foot wide.
If you have hot exhausted the scope of seeing and hearing,
How can you realize the wideness of the world?
The waters of the River looked narrow as a ribbon,
P'en Castle smaller than a man's fist.
How it clings, the dust of the world's halter!
It chokes my limbs; I cannot shake it away.
Thinking of retirement, I heaved an envious sigh;
Then, with lowered head, came back to the Ant's Nest.


The last of my poems from this book is by W. S. Rendra. Born in 1935, Rendra is a widely-known and read Indonesian writer of poetry and nonfiction prose.


Twilight View

The wet twilight calms the burning forest.
Vampire bats descend from the dark grey skyk.
Smell of munitions in the air. Smell of corpses. and
      horseshit.
A pack of wild dogs
eat hundreds and thousands of human bodies
the dead and the half dead.
And among the scorched trees of the forest
puddles of blood form into a pool.
Wide and calm. Ginger in colour.
Twenty angels come down from heaven
to purify those in their death throes
but on earth are ambushed by the giant vampires
and raped.
A vital breeze which travels gently on
moves away from the ringlet curls of the corpses
makes circles on the lake of blood
and impassions the lust of angels and bats.
Yes, my brothers.
I know this is a view which satisfies you
for you have worked so intently to create it.








Animals have been in my life all my life, always a dog or two and usually at least one cat.

So I'm always ready to make a new friend.



it's early , still, in our relationship

smooth, soft fur, a banker-cat,
slick,
dressed
in charcoal gray,
yellow eyes, pink tongue,
and white needle teeth
ready to foreclose on any food
that wanders her way,
dead or soon-to-be dead
if mouse or lizard or
other scurrying thing

a street cat,
sly, shy,
she has come to accept me
as a reliable food source,
comes to my front porch when
she knows i'm around,
sits and waits for a handful
of kitty chow,
appreciates
my patronage but still won't
let me come too close -
i sat with her, about a foot and a half away,
for ten minutes this afternoon,
the closest she's let me,

we talked,
or rather i talked
while she munched the cat food
i brought out for her, she watched
while i talked, watched and munched,
listened?
i don't know, could be...

it's still early in our relationship,
but i think we have begun
to communicate

i think i'll call her
Mr. Potter
unless
gender identity issues
become a problem








My next poem is by Deborah Digges from her book Rough Music, published in 1995 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Digges was born in Jefferson, Missouri, in 1950. She received degrees from the University of California and the University of Missouri, as well as an M.F.A from the Iowa Writers Workshop.

She is the author of four books of poetry in addition to Rough Music, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Prize, including her first book, Vesper Sparrows, which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize from New York University and most recently Trapeze. She has also written two memoirs, Fugitive Spring and The Stardust Lounge.

Digges received grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation and taught in the graduate writing divisions of New York, Boston, and Columbia Universities. She currently lives in Massachusetts, where she is a professor of English at Tufts University.



Late Summer

The wild late summer gardens
refuse to be led in chorus, and the sparrows,
those minor saints.
even Therese, little flower of Jesus,
will not answer to her name,
but gathers in her feathers anthills of dust like holy water,
as in a former life she gathered up her lice-infested skirts,
and wading into the Seine,
leveed a branch against the currents,
fished out the sacks full of drowned litters.
Now she carries the river with her in her drab brown wings,
carries the very codings of the weeds
in which she knelt,
and with a sugar spoon turned over the soil
for each small grave,
and lined the fledglings' holes with milkweed,
and laid the virus running through the earth.
There are those who save only the picture of the child smiling,
the summer tree.
Love doesn't change us.
Love remains the thing resisted,
a sky-colored glass the trapped bird bloodies.
Maybe Therese, following her calling,
wished the mockingbird silence in the convent orchards,
and all the warblers locked inside its song.
Maybe she dreamed her hands floating her own sputum-stained bile-
stinking pillow over
her coughing sisters' faces, cell by cell,
as she sang to them in tongues and bone
and the many stone tongues of her sex,
her voice a buzz above their struggling like bees
drowning in honey,
sang them under what she herself so longed for,
weight of the earth, a baptismal dark.
Mercy's at best approximate,
like the first week of blindness
before the other senses' stunned quartet have learned to translate
inside the skull's black paradise
some recovery of touch, this odor of apples, sea-wind
hearth-fire, this prophecy
of rain or danger,
this autumn or spring dryness in the leaves.








Now here's a poem fromMargaret Barrett Mayberry one of our San Antonio friends.

Margaret was born 1932 in London. She married a British medical student and is now widowed. She lived in various countries before and after marriage. She has two adult sons and four grandchildren. She's lived in San Antonio for over 35 very busy years and has done a variety of things but none related to poetry until recently. She has an MA in Clinical Psychology from St. Mary's University in San Antonio and an MA in Environmental. Mgt. (Urban Studies) from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She's been on the city council of Hill Country Village (an incorporated village within the geographic limits of San Antonio) for 20 years, as well as long time involvement with the Animal Defense League board and various other charities. She says she wanted to write poetry every since she was a child but never seemed to have time for it until now.



Moondust

Moondust or Stardust, aren't they the same,
Ash from a comet by another name,
Left on the moon many eons ago,
Orange gold in color and soft as snow.

It's a trail of crystal from a shooting star,
How you interpret it depends who you are,
They say that moondust tastes pretty good,
If the moon's made of cheese, I suppose it would.

However, I don't think I'll stay to dine,
As they tell me it also smells of carbine,
Or was it gunpowder, NASA couldn't tell,
Since when back on earth it had lost its smell.

I read that it's carried on winds from the sun,
No wonder it reeks as though fired from a gun,
Clings to astronauts' boots and is there to stay,
But I'd rather think of it in some other way.

There's romance and magic in each comet's tail,
For its full of diamonds, not just rocks and shale,
And when it slows down, precious gems in tow,
It's the colorful arc of a dazzling rainbow.

Fairies and witches ride the tail's fiery thrust,
They weave their spells in the star and moon dust,
Don't talk to me of chemical elements,
My version of moondust makes far more sense.








Next, I have two short poems from soldier-poet Wilfred Owen. Only four of Owen's war poems were published before he was killed a week before the Armistice that ended WWI in November, 1918. In his poems, Owen proves again and again that no one can write an antiwar poem better than a soldier who's fought one.

The poems are from The Poems of Wilfred Owen published by Wordsworth Classics in 1994.



Arms and the Boy

Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;
Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash;
And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.

Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads
Which long to nuzzle in the hearts of lads,
Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth,
Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.

For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;
And God will grow no talons at his heels,
Nor antler through the thickness of his curls.


The Send-Off

Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed.
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.

Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
As men's are, dead.

Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp
Stood staring hard,
Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp
Winked to the guard.

So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.
They were not ours:
We never heard to which front these were sent.

Nor there if they yet mock what women meant
Who gave them flowers.

Shall they return to beatings of great bells
In wild train-loads?
A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
May creep back, silent, to village wells
Up half-known roads.








I was cranky as I wrote this some several days ago. As I add to it now, my cranky indicator is somewhere off the charts.

Notice though, that I am keeping some faith, writing this with an assumption that, at some point, last week's blog did/will, finally, get posted.



cranky

i am a person
who keeps promises

i am a person
who keeps to a schedule

i am a person
who is always early
because i hate being late

and today i am
off-schedule

today
i am nearly a full day
late
in posting my blog,
lost as it is
in the bowls of my host,
the help center of which is
apparently taking the month off

i can't fix it myself
and i can't get the people
i'm paying to help me
help me

i can't even say a pox on you ipowerweb,
stomp out the door and find another host,
because

first, there is no human being to say a pox on you to

second, there is no door to stomp out of

and, third, i can't go to another host because the prospect
of moving everything strains the capacities of my non-technical
non-teckie, 20th century mind to even imagine

most of all
i'm a person who hates
more than anything else in the world
feeling
helpless

it makes me very
cranky

like now


Since you're reading this now, obviously things turned out well in the end. It just took too damn long to get to the end.)





Well, here we go again, Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass. It is so hard to stop, with Whitman, once started.



from The Sleepers

6
Now what my mother told em one day as we sat at dinner together,
Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home with her parents on
    the old homestead

A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old homestead,
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for rush-bottoming chairs,
Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse, half-envelop'd her
    face
Here step was free and elastic, and her voice sounded exquisitely as
    she spoke.

My mother look'd in delight and amazement at the stranger,
She look'd at the freshness of her tall-borne face and full and pliant
    limbs,
The more she look'd upon her she loved her,
Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and purity,
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the fireplace, she cook'd
    food for her,
She had no work to give her, bet she gave her remembrance and
    fondness.

The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the middle of the
    afternoon she went away,
O my mother was loth to have her go away,
All the week she thought of her, she watch'd for her many a month,
She rememberd her many a winter and many a summer,
But the red squaw never came nor was heard of there again.

7
A show of the summer softness - a contact of something unseen - an
    amour of the light and air,
I am jealous and overwhelm'd with friendliness,
And will go gallivant with light and air myself

O love and summer, you are in the dreams and in me,
Autumn and winter are in the dreams, the farmer goes with his
    thrift,
The droves and crops increase, the barns are well-fil'd.

Elements merge in the night, ships make tacks in the drams,
The sailor sails, the exile returns home,
The fugitive returns and unharm'd, the immigrant is back beyond months
    and years,
The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of his childhood with
    well-known neighbors and faces,
They warmly welcome him, he is barefoot again, he forgets he is well
    off,
The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman and Welshman
    voyage home, and the native of the Mediterranean voyage
    home,
To every port of England, France, Spain, enter well-fill'd ships,
The Swiss foots it toward his hills, the Prussian goes his way, the
    Hungarian his way, and the Pole his way,
The Swiss returns and the Dane and Norwegian return.

The homeward bound and the outward bound,
The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuye, the onanist, the female that
    loves unrequited, the money-maker,
The actor and actress, those through with their parts and those wait-
    ing to commence,
The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the voter, the nominee
    that is chosen and the nominee that has fail'd,
The great already known and the great anytime after today,
The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-form'd, the homely,
The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that sat and sentenced,
    him, the fluent lawyers, the jury, the audience,
The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight widow, the red
    squaw,
The consumptive, the erysipalite, the idiot, he that is wrong'd,
the antipodes, and every one between this and them in the dark,
I swear they are averaged now - one is no better than the other,
The night and sleep-have liken'd them and restored them.

I swear they are all beautiful,
Every one that sleeps is beautiful, every thing in the dim light is
    beautiful,
The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is piece.

Peace is always beautiful,
The myth of heaven indicates peace and night.

The myth of heaven indicates the soul,
The soul is always beautiful, it appears more or it appears less, it
    comes or it lags behind,
It comes from its embower'd garden and looks pleasantly on itself and
    encloses the world,
Perfect and clean, the genitals previously jetting, and perfect and
    clean the womb cohering,
The head well-grown proportion'd and plumb, and the bowels and
    joints proportion'd and plumb.

The soul is always beautiful,
The universe is duly in order, every thing in its place,
What has arrived is in its place and what waits shall be in its place,
The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood waits,
The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long, and the child of
    the drunkard waits long, and the drunkard himself waits long,
The sleepers that lived and died wait, the far advanced are to go on
    in their turns, and the far behind are to come on in their
    turns,
The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall flow and unite -
    they unite now.

8
The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie unclothed.
they flow hand in hand over the whole earth form east to west as
    they lie unclothed,
The Asiatic and African are hand in hand, the European and Ameri-
    can are hand in hand,
Learn'd and unlearn'd are hand in hand, and male and female are
    hand in hand,
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast of her lover, they
    press close without lust, his lips press her neck,
The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his arms with measure-
    less love, and the son holds the father in his arms with meas-
    ureless love,
The white hair of the mother shines on the white wrist of the
    daughter

The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the man, friend is in-
    armed by friend.
The scholar kisses the teacher and the teacher kisses the scholar, the
    wrong'd is made right,
The call of the slave is one with the master's call and the master
    salutes the slave,
The felon steps forth from the prison, the insane become sane, the
    suffering of sick persons is reliev'd,
The sweating and fevers stop, the throat that was unsound is sound,
    the lungs of the consumptive are resumed, the poor distress'd
    head is free,
The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as ever, and smoother
    than ever,
Stiflings and passages open, the paralyzed become supple,
They swell'd and convuls'd and congested awake to themselves in
    condition,
They pass the invigoration of the night and the chemistry of the
    night, and awake.

I too pass from the night,
I stay a while away O night, but I return to you again and love you.


Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you?
I am not afraid, I have been well brought forward by you,
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in whom I lay so
    long.
I know not how I came of you and I know not where I go with you,
    but I know I came well and shall go well.

I will stop on a time with the night, and rise betimes,
I will duly pass the day O my mother, and duly return to you.








Next, I have three short poems from my friend Francina.

Francina was born in 1947 and, until she was 13, lived on the river with cargo vessels visiting Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. She says she has called many places home, including living in the United States for twelve years before moving back to The Netherlands ten years ago. She has traveled to North Africa, Thailand, the Caribbean as well as most of the countries of Europe.

She says her interest in poetry started in 1990 when she became a member of the Wallace Stevens Society and developed a fondness for Japanese and Chinese poetry.



Whispers

Shadows in the wind,
whispers, voices of the past
from those never to return;

satin nights with neon moon,
lover's lust for love,

travelers on the road;
in search of a truth
purer than their own.


The Tree

The storm has passed,
now mist trails the dawn,
in the stillness of the creek
the reflection of a tree;
leafless, accepting
its branches were shaken.


No More Reasons

No more reasons left to write,
the pen lies useless on the desk.
to gather dust instead of words.

Why expose in black and white,
there is nothing left to be said,
for silence itself has no chords.

No song sings in a soul
bereft of its whole.








From Whitman who was always in the light, now to Charles Bukowski who could always find the dark (sweetened usually with humor). The next two poems are from the book The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain.



the night Richard Nixon shook my hand

I was up there on the platform,
ready to begin when
up walked Richard Nixon
(or his double)
with that familiar
glazed smile on his face.
he approached me, reached out and
before I could react he
shook my hand.
what is he doing? I thought.
I was about to give him a verbal
dressing down
but before I could do so
he suddenly faded away
and all I could see where the
lights shining in my eyes and
the audience waiting down
there.

my hand was shaking as
I reached out and poured myself
a glass of vodka from the pitcher.

I must be having this poetry reading
in hell, I though.

it was hell: I drained the glass
but the contents somehow had turned into
water.

I began to read the first poem:
"I wandered lonely as a cloud."

Wordsworth!


throwing away the alarm clock

my father always said, "early to bed and
early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy
and wise."

it was lights out at 8 p.m. in our house
and we were up at dawn to the smell of
coffee, frying bacon and scrambled
eggs.

my father followed this general routine
for a lifetime and died young, broke,
and, I think, not too
wise.

taking note, I rejected his advice and it
became, for me, late to bed and late
to rise.

now, I'm not saying that I've conquered
the world but I've avoided
numberless early traffic jams, bypassed some
common pitfalls
and have met some strange, wonderful
people

one of whom
was
myself - someone my father
never
knew.








Some days just don't seem to want to start.



ennui

always liked that
word

sounds like some
rare
African antelope
or anteater
from South America
or maybe a bird
high in the trees
on some small South Pacific
island, crying
ennui...
ennui...
ennui...

maybe i caught it
from the birds

12 hours sleep
last night
and another hour
already this afternoon
and i feel like i ought to go
back to bed right now

the sun seems dimmed,
sound smothered
as if through a thick wool blanket,
brain like a blind dog
in the fog,
all sharpness
dulled,
all passion
banked,
curiosity
buried in a burlap bag
on a dull plain
under
suburban crab grass

i
think
i'll quit this poem

my fingers
are tired of typing








Next I have several poems from the The KGB Bar Book of Poems, taken from poets who read at the KGB Bar in New York's East Village. The book was published by HarperCollins in 2000.


The first poem is by Thomas Lux who read at KGB in December 1997. Lux was born i Massachusetts in 1946. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Plague Victims Catapulted Over Walls Into Besieged City

Early germ
warfare. The dead
hurled this way like wheels
in the sky. Look: there goes
Larry the Shoemaker, barefoot, over the wall,
and Mary Sausage Stuffer, see how she flies,
and the Hatter twins, both at once, soar
over the parapet, little Tommy's elbow bent
as if in salute,
and his sister, Mathilde, she follows him,
arms outstretched, through the air,
just as she did
on earth.


Next a poem from the book by Mary Jo Bang who read at KGB in March 1997. She was born in Missouri in 1946 and was educated at Northwestern University, Northminster University in London and Columbia University.


It Says, I Did So

A palid is formed on yellow block and black,
the nattered weave , an avenue at dawn or dusk.
It gets writ: I did so

love you
. As if a grid of windows treaded night, as
into darkness - too easy, demon - too vague.
Into absorption . The eyes against themselves.

Shrunken sphere where this is twin to there.
You let me. Dream last night: a woman and a dress
that's not her own. A man beside a lamp. What

is he? As in life, the silent telephone,
its petty catalogue of equally improbables,
a wave of names each resting on the barren beige
of that dirt reduced to dust. Such violence.
Look at this, the scalloped edge cannot escape its rote.
On and on like this little wisdoms neck to neck.
Witness the kiss of interlocking stitch.
These are not artificial tears.








Here's a poem to close out this double issue, a poem to bring the curtain down until next week.



from where i sit

from
where i sit
i can see past
a small grove of
winter-bare red oak
to Interstate-10, east & west
routes, the one to Houston
and, though Houston, Louisiana
and points east and north beyond

the other route, followed westerly
600 miles through hill country
& high desert to El Paso,
and 4 states beyond,
the orange setting sun
reflected
on Pacific waters

most of
the people i see passing
are not going so far,
most know
the furthest you travel
in any direction
the closer you get to home,
so why not just stay
there,
untraveled
but satisfied,
right where you and your life
belong

for
myself
i don't know that i've ever
been at home
so i'm always pulled
between
leave and stay

today,
under a cold, overcast sky
i think i want to
stay

tomorrow...

that's why
we have night and day,
at night a curtain that comes
down
between old and new,
a sign to us as it rises every morning,
that new things are possible

after all, what use a curtain if nothing
changes
between acts








So that's it for the fourth and fifth weeks of January.

I would like to do a little close-out on 2008 before we get too far into 2009. In 2008, we had nearly 22,000 visits to "Here and Now," with nearly 200,000 hits. Don't know for sure what that means, but suspect all those zeros must be good.

(Sorry, but, at heart, I am a data and numbers kind of guy.)

Until next week - all the material presented in this blog remains the property of its creators. The blog itself was produced by and is the property of me...allen itz.

2 Comments:
at 9:03 AM Blogger John Guzlowski said...

hi, thanks for including two of poems about war. I had some others recently published at the Journal of War, Literature and the Arts.

http://www.wlajournal.com/vol/21_1-2/images/guzlowski.pdf

at 1:56 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

thank you, Mr. Guzlowski for allowing me to borrow your work for "here and now" and thank you for reading and commenting. i looked at your new poems at jounal of war. excellent work, congratulations.

allen itz

Post a Comment



New Day   Friday, January 16, 2009


IV.1.3.




In recognition of the inauguration next week of America's new president, my photos this week will feature a collection of sunrises and sunsets, the dusk of the old day surrendering to the dawn of the new. Who cannot be hopeful and excited about this new beginning?

Here's what I have for you this week.

From friends of "Here and Now"

Christopher George
Tasha Klein
Walter Durk

From my library

Ralph Angel
Kabir
Gunna Ekelof
Issa
Melvin Van Peebles
Steve Richmond
Jack Micheline
Simon Armitage
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Frederick Seidel
Simon J. Ortiz
John Koethe

and me.

Here we are.








I have a poem now by Ralph Angel, from his book Twice Removed published in 2001 by Sarabande Books of Louisville, Kentucky.

Angel has two earlier books, Neither World, which I've used here frequently and which won the 1995 James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets, Anxious Latitudes. He is professor of English at the University of the Redlands as well as a member of the MFA Program in Writing faculty at Vermont College. Originally from Seattle, he now lives in Los Angles.



Breathing Out

Now you are crossing a wide street at night
anxious in the traffic and rushing
to get to the bakery
before closing. What could be more breathtaking
than your beauty if not in my arms
at least on that side
of peril. That's
why I'm yelling at the driver of the pickup truck
I just slammed into so much did I
want to park and
wait for you.

May I never live with love
by surviving love and loving blocks and days away
the most ancient of the dead desire earthly
our getting born again
alone without
choice

children fill the air
the spices and the rugs of the bazaar.

I buy you tulips.
They are yellow and bright.
The port is dark and glittering blue airplanes
hover there. Like clarity
itself. Like
faintly wailing sirens attached to absolutely
nothing.
Like socks and sweaters and
the blanket that slipped somehow
from your legs while I
tidied up the balcony so lost in your book
are you tonight.








Nothing dramatic going on in my life, as my first poem for this week demonstrates.



Saturday morning

it's
one of those
winter/summer/spring/fall
days
we get around here
this time of year

bright sun
temps mid-50s
unless
you're standing
out in the blustery
north wind
that brings the wind chill
down 20 or 30 degrees

Reba
wanted a walk this morning
and i broke under
the pleading puddle
of her cinnamon eyes

tee shirt
long sleeve shirt
and a light jacket

too hot
or too cold
depending on where i was
relative to sun and wind

i could have skipped the walk
and gone straight for coffee

but
reba
had a great time

frisky
running
jumping
catching great mouthfuls
of sun and morning chill

that
was pretty good
for me
too








My next several poems are from The Winged Energy of Delight. The book is subtitled "Selected Translations" though it is unclear to me who the translator is. The book is credited to Robert Bly who has laid claim to translating poems from a wide range of the world's languages, past and present when what he seems to really do is add his own poetic sensibility to previous translations by others. Since his poetic sensibilities are among the best, the versions he produces of poems in other languages are excellent. The problem, for me at least, is to know who to credit for the poem, the original poet, the original unnamed translator or Bly himself.

I choose to go to the source and credit the original poet.



The first two poems are by Kabir,the Indian mystic, born in 1398, with, it seems to me, a very modern sensibility.


The Holy Pools Have Only Water

There is nothing but water in the holy pools.
I know, I have been swimming in them.
All the god's sculpted of wood and ivory can't say a word.
I know, I have been crying out to them.
The Sacred Books of the East are nothing but words.
I looked through their covers one day sideways.
What Kabir talks of is only what he has lived through.
If you have not lived through something, it is not true.


Why Arrange the Pillows

Oh friend, I love you, think this over
carefully! If you are in love,
then why to you sleep?

If you have found him,
give yourself to him, take him.

Why do you lose track of him again and again?

If you are about to fall into heavy sleep anyway,
why waste time smoothing the bed
and arranging the pillows?

Kabir will tell you the truth; this is what love is like:
suppose you had to cut your head off
and give it to someone else,
what difference would that make?


The next poem is by Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelof. Ekelof was born to a wealthy family in Stockholm in 1907. His father died in 1916 from syphilis after many years of insanity. He left home early and studied at the School of Oriental Studies in London, then moved to Paris where he intended to become a musician. He found himself in poetry instead, publishing his first book, thought to be the first book of surrealist poetry in Sweden, in 1932. He died in Stockholm in 1968.


from The Swan

1
I heard wild geese over the hospital grounds
where many pale people walk back and forth
- one morning in a daze
I heard them! I hear them!
I dreamt I heard -

And nevertheless I did hear them!

Here endless walks circle about
around bottomless dams
Here the days all reflect
one monotonous day
at the slightest touch
beautiful blossoms close
their strange petals -

the woman on a nurse's arm
she screams incessantly:
HellDevilHell
- is led home
hurriedly...
dusk has come
over the salmon-colored buildings
and outside the wall
an anemic blush over endless suburbs
of identical houses
with some vegetable beds steaming as if in spring between...

They are burning twigs and leaves:
It is fall
and the vegetables beds are attached by worm-eaten cabbages
and bare flowers -

I heard wild geese over the hospital grounds
one autumn like spring morning
I heard wild geese one morning
one springautumn morning
trumpeting -

To the north? To the south?
To the north? To the north?
Far from here -

A freshness lives deep in me
which no one can take from me
not even I myself -


If You Ask Me Where I Live

If you ask me where I live
I live right here behind the mountain
It's a long way off but I am near
I live in another world
but you live there also
That world is everywhere even if it is as rare as helium
Why do you ask for an airship to bear you off?
Ask instead for a filter for carbon dioxide
a filter for hydrogen, for nitrogen, and other gases
Ask for a filter for all these things that separate us from one another
a filter for life
You say you can hardly breathe?
Well, who do you think can breathe?
For the most part we take it however with equanimity
A wise man has said:
"It was so dark I could barely see the stars"
He just meant that it was night


Finally, here are several haiku by Issa. He was born in 1763 in a small mountain village in central Japan and died in 1827, the day after his house burned down.


***

Insects, why cry?
we all go
that way.

***

Now listen, you watermelons -
if any thieves come -
turn into frogs!

***

That line of ants -
Maybe it goes all the way back
to that white cloud!

***

The old dog bends his head listening...
I guess the singing
of the earthworms gets to him

****

Cricket, be
careful! I'm rolling
over!








Here are two short poems from our friend Christopher George. Chris, a lyricist as well as a widely-published poet, was born in Liverpool in 1948 and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1955. He currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland.



Deeply Discounted

   For Frank Faust

I read your poem, frankly depressed:
pretty girls of yesterday you loved,

now plain and crabby grandmothers, you
look in mirror, see lines, receding hair.

But, I protest: inside I'm still
the slip of a lad I always was.

I buy a deeply discounted compact disc
of a Sixties group - a two-CD live
compilation, just a measly few bucks,

insert a disc into my CD player,
refuse to look in the mirror.


Locust Trees at Year's End

Locust trees barbwire the sky;
as the year fritters away,
the Bush administration fizzles
like a dud Scud missile.








It's been a while since I've pulled anything from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, such oversight remedied right now.



My first poem from the book is by filmmaker and author Melvin Van Peebles.


On 115

Born with the fastest hands Harlem had ever seen
Thought they had'em the next NBA star
On hundred and fifteenth

Same day his daddy split his momma had this dream
The Knicks and the Nets would be their ticket
Off hundred and fifteenth

Cross Lenox he'd dribble tearing ass in between
Jitneys muggers potholes and wind bottles
Up hundred and fifteenth

His jump was an arrow, his dunk was straight and clean
Sure as a flush junkies connection on
One hundred and fifteenth

The fool went one on one with big "h" and got creamed
Found him stiff o.d'back of the rib joint
On hundred and fifteenth

Horse will always foul you, flagrant as he wants to be
Aint no refs calling no penalties on him either
On hundred and fifteenth

Somewhere stars are shining, hope God's got a boss team
Homeboys dont like playing 'gainst no punks when
They from hundred and fifteenth

Born with the fastest hands Harlem had ever seen
Thought they had'em the next NBA star
On hundred and fifteenth


The next poem from the book is by Steve Richmond, one of a group of Southern California poets associated with the early career of Charles Bukowski.


A Bukowski Writing Lesson

It's about this time he pulls out my first book of poetry, the copy I mailed him three months earlier. He starts reading the very first poem:

i tore my nails into
my stomach ripping a hole
big enough to put my hand
into me with blind fingers
feeling between intestines
and liver for the flower of
me, until i found it pulling
it out, holding it in my bloody
right hand until my left hand
got hold of my soul, and i
took the two and smashed them
together until they became
a solid piece of total beauty
for me to throw with all
my strength into the
stars

I'm watching close as he reads it through. He seems not
to be hurting at all so i feel it's all working nicely and then he
gets to the last word and he suddenly goes, "OOOOOOOHHHH
SHIT. IT WAS GOING FINE RIGHT UP TO THAT LAST
WORD-STARS-OHH IT'S TOO DAMN BAD-WHAT A SHAME."

I was asking myself, "What? What the'hell does he
mean? Stars? What's wrong with "stars"? Nobody's ever said
anything bad about "stars" to me in my life - hmmmmmm."

Bukowski spoke on, "STARS is so goddamn ultra
poetic. You can't use STARS. STARS STARS STARS FUCK
TH' GODDAMN STAR! What a shame, kid. You had it strong
right up to the last word, then gone, ruined, all th'damn dead
false sewing circle poets are forever writing STARS STARS
STARS!! They can't write a line without STARS in it some-
where. I"m sorry kid."

What he was telling me made instant sense but I tried to
hedge in my mind because the 1,000 copies were already printed
and half the run was already distributed and there wasn't any
chance I could recall every copy and have Tasmania Press
change the last word of the first poem to some word, any word
other than STARS.

Now it's July 11, 1994 and it's been 29 years since
Hank tore his Lion's Claws into my use of STARS and I've
never used the word Stars or stars or stARS ever since
.....since ten minutes after i met Charles Bukowski face to face.


My last poet from the book this week is Jack Micheline, a street poet and author of dozens of books and chapbooks.


Blues Poem

I got no smile cause I'm down
I carry a horn to blow in all these streets
A solo riff out of my head
How could you ever know how I feel
So high on life and feet and ass and legs and thighs
That I can rise and dance with all the stars
And I can eat the moon and laugh and I can cry
The dark caves of cities hungry streets
The tired faces dark and dreary bent
and all the death it dies
I let it die
I lift my horn and blow some sounds
some soul for kids to com
Some unborn sun
in darker streets than mine
Magicians carry wings so they can fly
Let's blow a horn and love
Let's get on it and ride
and laugh and dance and jive
Let's shake the dead and let the downers die
The magic of the singers warms the earth
A song
A poem
some paradise of mind
I got to smile now
I'm feeling good
The city street
The palace of my mind








Next, here's another of my coffee shop observations.



a so, so serious man

man
in the corner
reading a book
under broad leaves
of a banana
plant

moves
his lips, nods
his head, smiles

amazingly
clever writer
it must be
to agree so completely
with this man as to bring a
smile
to his face,
this face
that carries no lines of
frequent
good humor

to make him laugh,
this
so, so serious man,
must require
a master
of the writer's art

or maybe i am
mistaken
and he is really
a clown,
this man
in the corner
reading
under broad leaves
of a banana plant
laughing
at the pretensions
of some so, so serious
man








Next, I have another poet i'm reading for the first time.

Simon Armitage, born in 1963, is a British poet, playwright, and novelist. Before finding success with his poetry Armitage worked as a probation officer, an undertaker's assistant and a supermarket shelf stacker. first studied at Colne Valley High School in the UK, then went on to study geography at Portsmouth Polytechnic, UK. He later lectured on creative writing at both the University of Leeds, UK and at the University of Iowa writers' workshop in the United States. He is currently a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom.

The next two poems are from his book Kid, published by Faber and Faber in 1992,



In Clover

This winter, six white geese have settled near the house.
This morning as she polishes the furniture
and peers across the river to their nesting place


she finds the gaggle floating off downstream, and there
instead is one white egg sat upright in the sand.
The geese, distracted with a crust, are unaware

as Rose, her eldest, in ankle socks and sandals
cradles the egg in the lap of her pinafore
and picks a safe way back across the stepping-stones.

She cracks the contents on a bed of cornflour
and paints policemen on the empty halves of shell
to sell as plant-pot-men in the next month's flower show.

Later, the six white geese will crane their necks to smell
the fine egg-pudding cooling on the window-sill.


I almost didn't use this next poem because of its length. But once started reading it, couldn't stop; just too much fun to pass up.


Eighteen Plays on Golfing as a Watchword

I

Among the twenty lovers
of the Lady Capitan, only one man

knew the wonder of an albatross.

II

At the second hole he saw the light,
paid off the caddie
selected a nine iron and his favourite ball,

steered a clean shot through a gap in the wall
and followed it out onto the unmarked fairway

of the world

III

Both our balls plugged
in that stodgy stuff
this side of the greenskeeper's hut.

You see them:
the mad eyes
of the ghost of the man in the mud

IV

The flag and the green
from this elevation;
a heron in its pool
of stagnant water.

V

I was about to say something marvelous,
then forgot.

Oh yes,
I stood and was bamboozled
by a line of badger prints
which stopped in their tracks
at the heart of the sand-trap

VI

You sliced a tee shot
off the toe of the cup. It pinballed

through the copse, came back
to within spitting distance of where we stood,
and stopped.

A blackbird burst out laughing.

VII

To hole in one,

or at last let go of your boy
on his new bike as he makes it
the length of the drive, down the hill,
along the carriageway,
between the weighbridge and the bottle bank -
just a dot now -
and through the gates of the big school without falling.

VIII

Which fink blackballed the Captain's brother?

among the twenty snow-white members
of the selection committee, the Captain's face

a picture

IX

A three-iron, two-hundred yards,
dead straight and a decent lie: one shot.

A sitter fluffed from two feet; one shot

Not the fear of flying
but of falling.
Not the first ten-thousand feet
but the last one. Fatal

X

An object-lesson in addressing the ball:

head down, hands
where you're happiest with them,
putter firm but at ease,
legs apart and slightly broken
at the knees.

You gents,
try it when you take a leak.

XI

Sometimes in bed I replay
every stroke
in that splendid round.

Some nights I dream
of badgers walking backwards.

XII

To do with film and shutter speed.
Just nicely teed off, this unremarkable old-timer
in a blurred imperfect circle,

caught in the act of hs own swing.

XIII

Uncanny, on the thirteenth
a blackbird rears up
like an umbrella.

Rain begins to happen.

XIV

Us roughnecks from the council estate,
out before breakfast
thieving magic mushrooms from the practice fairway,
lost balls to flog at competitive prices
and song-thrush eggs from the rhododendrons.

From his hut,
over eighteen misty holes,
the greenskeeper turning a blind eye

XV

Like a fish
it grows with every telling.

Yesterday you stroked it home from twelve yards.

Today you winkle it from the bunker,
it bites and borrows to the left, anchor us,
rattles the pin and somehow wangles its way in.

Plop.
Unforgettable.

XVI

I can't say which is preferable:

the fat man in his motorized buggy
getting no traction in that stodgy stuff
this side of the greenskeeper's hut,

or the lengthening shadow of the fat man
in his buggy, inching to the clubhouse
as he stays put.

XVII

The fairways deserted, the world's
our oyster.

In the wood the wind is the sound
of the sea.

A ball in the cup is a pearl
for the taking

On the back nine, one fathom now
from the surface.

XVIII

Sundown, almost, the 19th
lit up like a petrol station.

Let's live for the moment.
For the hell of it let's tee one up
and belt it
into the nothingness.

A shooting star
agrees with us








Tasha Klein makes her first appearance in "Here and Now" this week, the first, I hope, of many.

Asked what I could say about her by way of introduction, she said "Tasha Klein lives in a winter dream" which sounds pretty OK to me.

Here are her poems, a very sensual and affecting series on dreams.



Dream Poems


dream 1 - he hangs up

in this one
i have sex hair
and everything is sleepy

the phone rings
it's mr m
he wants to
make a plan
i tell him
i am naked
i say it slowly


dream 2 - to mr m

I sleep with your poem,
in its river, with its fist
and stone. I've stitched
the words to my brain,
tied them to my wrist,
swallowed them whole.


dream 2 1/2 - amsterdam

in a coffee shop
we laugh

new creatures we swim the streets,
if we keep left
the tulip shoe
will throw its magic glow

or so they claim
but our madness is not forgotten
we think about it everyday
it speeds through us like a red train

between the traffic
a dog's eye
sees nothing

between the buildings
I am still your green girl.


dream 3 - the nightmare

you aren't in europe but you might as well be
because you are mr unavailable
mr work on the house
mr it was a joke
i wrote your name in the sand
of some sad beach where sea turtles
are endangered & the area
is kept unlit all night and when i looked out into
the blackness from the hotel balcony
i felt the black pour into me
like dream/poem four
where you drink from my eyes and all my red cups
& my tears turn into music
and you become the wind

and so..
i turn in my dream and there you are
flowers dragging, hair roaring
bull eyes full of mud but your hands
are clean and they find me
open


not really a dream poem but sort of

at 3 am i heard the roar
of your blood racing through the night
felt the sweat of your words on my thigh
saw all the flowers following your scent
the deep dark colors of your hair breaking
up
i went
my body stayed behind
held down
by your hungry parts
all delicious like a favorite story
i'll never get tired of
tasting the
click click sounds spinning me round
and polished like your nails
like your mouth so glossy
and open down below
the meadow touching the roots
of the new grass
tender like your words outstretched and
hot


and I could suck you

You're touching yourself right now, aren't you?
Yes. Are you?
Of course, naturally.
Now if we were face to face, high
and there were black nylons involved,
well then, those are the perfect ingredients
to start a great moral and ethical debate..
Check out the string arrangements
on track four (Lonesome Tears).
I'm shutting down for the night. Later.


friday - burnt offering - room 229

only wild tribes burning their fire in the mirror

loose pages ready to fall out
Leviticus
the room is too hot
cut into pieces
paper on the floor

did you sit alone
wishing for bitter coffee
and a clear view
they tell me smog buckles
they tell me you got fat








Here's a poem by one of the last of the San Francisco beat poets, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from his book Wild Drams of a New Beginning, a combination of two previous collections, published by New Directions Paperbook in 1988.



Eight People On A Golf Course and One Bird of Freedom Flying Over

The phoenix flies higher & higher
above eight elegant people on a golf course
who have their heads stuck in the sands
of a big trap
One man raises his head and shouts
I am President of Earth. I rule.
You elected me, heh-heh. Fore!
A second man raised his head.
I am King of the Car.
The car is my weapon. I drive all before me.
Ye shall have no other gods.
Watch out. I'm coming through.
A third raises his head out of the sand.
I run a religion. I am your spiritual head.
Never mind which religion.
I drive a long ball. Bow down and putt.
A fourth raises his head in the bunker.
I am the General. I have tanks to conquer deserts.
And my tank shall not want. I'm thirsty.
We play Rollerball. I love Arabs.
A fifth raises his head and opens his mouth.
I am Your Master's Voice.
I rule newsprint. I rule airwaves, long & short.
We bend minds. We make reality to order.
Mind Fuck Incorporated.
Satire becomes reality, reality satire.
Man the Cosmic Joke. Et cetera.
A sixth man raises his gold bald head.
I'm your friendly multinational banker.
I chew cigars rolled with petro-dollars.
We're above the nations. We control the control.
I'll eat you all in the end.
I work on margins. Yours.
A woman raised her head higher than anyone.
I am the Little Woman. I'm the Tender Warrior
who votes like her husband. Who took my breasts.
A final figure rises, carrying all the clubs.
Stop or I'll shoot a hole-in-one.
I'm the Chief of All Police. I eat meat.
We know the enemy. You better believe it.
We're watching all you paranoids. Go ahead & laugh.
You're all in the computer. We've got all
your numbers. Except one
unidentified flying asshole.
On the radar screen.
Some dumb bird.
Every time I shoot it down
it rises.








As I write this, seven more days...



poor man

stalled
as long as i can

read the Times,
Wall Street Journal

and about five
magazines

including The Progressive
which i hate

(want to know why the hard left
never amounts to much in this country -

take a look at the drivel
they read)

also checked out
about eight web sites

and read and responded
to my email

and still i'm stuck with the idea
i started with

and i hate that cause i'm sick
of reading and writing about him -

fade away foul shadow like you're supposed to,
back to Texas, to Crawford, to Dallas,

anywhere

but no luck, he's still there,
the unwanted guest who won't go home -

George W. Bush

however he feels about his record
i'm am pleased with mine -

eight years of speeches and press conferences
and i neither saw nor heard any of them -

but i had the advantage of six years of experience
with him before the rest of the country

was so afflicted
and i knew what to expect

poor man

i'm sure he wanted to do good
(most of us do, after all)

instead he became worst of them all
from the first George W to the last

pretty much a fuck-up for most of his life,
failed, like this, at most everything he tried

but he probably hoped to do better
and probably thinks he did

poor man








Zabrieskie Point, not anywhere close to making my list of movies I'd like to see again, remembered fondly now as inspiration for this poem by Federick Seidel, from his book Poems 1965-1976.



Death Valley

Antonioni walks in the desert shooting
Zariskie Point. He does not perspire
Because it is dry. His twill trousers stay pressed,
He wears desert boots and a viewfinder,
He has a profile he could shave with, sharp
And meek, like the eyesight of the deaf,
With which he is trying to find America,
A pick for prospecting passive as a dowser.
He has followed his nose into the desert.

Crew and cast mush over the burning lake
Shivering and floaty like a mirage.
The light makes it hard to see. Four million dollars
And cameras ripple over the alkali
Waiting for the director to breathe on them.
How even and epic his wingbeats are for a small fellow,
He sips cigarette after cigarette
And turns in Italian to consult his English
Girlfriend and screenwriter, who is beautiful.

In Arizona only the saguaros
and everybody else were taller than he was,
Selah. He draws in the gypsum dust selah
He squats on his heels for the love scene, finally
The technicians are spray-dyeing the dust darker.
It looks unreal, but it will dry lighter,
Puffs of quadroon smoke back out of the spray guns.
The Open Theater are naked and made up.








Some people hold on to grudges well past time to let them go. I guess I'm one of them.



song of the order of the gold watch brigade

i
know stuff
nobody
else knows
but
no longer welcome
at the party
the stuff
i
know
will stay the stuff
only i know
and those
who dont know
the stuff
i
know
don't know yet
how much
trouble
they're in

but
i figure
what the hell
if i can't come
to the party
they
will just have to figure out
how to blow up
all those red balloons
on their own

and
don't expect
me
to feel bad
about it








Simon J. Ortiz, poet, short story writer, essayist and documentary and feature screenwriter, was born in 1941 in Acoma Pueblo. He lives at Deetseyamah, a rural community west of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Since 1968, Ortiz has taught creative writing and Native American literature at various institutions, including San Diego State, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Navajo Community College, the College of Marin, the University of New Mexico, Sinte Gleska University (one of the first U.S. tribal colleges) , and the University of Toronto. He currently teaches at Arizona State University.

The next two poems are from his book Woven Stone, published in 1992 by the University of Arizona Press. The poems are from a section titled "Going for the Rain" which was a previously published book incorporated into this collection.



Relocation

Don't talk me no words.
Don't frighten me
for I am in the blinding city.
The lights,
the cars,
the deadened glares
   tear my heart
   and close my mind.

Who questions my pain,
the tight knot of anger
in my breast?

I swallow hard and often
and taste my spit
and it does not taste good.
Who questions my mind?

I came here because I was tired;
the BIA taught me to cleanse myself,
daily to keep a careful account of my time.
Efficiency was learned in catechism;
the nuns spelled me God in white.
And I came here to feed myself -
corn, potatoes, chili, and mutton
do not nourish me they said.

So I agreed to move.
I see me walking in sleep
down streets, down streets gray with cement
and glaring glass and oily wind,
armed with a pint of wine,
I cheated my children to buy.
I am ashamed.
I am tired.
I am hungry.
I speak words.
I am lonely for hills.
I am lonely for myself.


Busride Conversation

She says,
"I came to Albuquerque
on Wednesday."

She's about eighteen.

"I have three shell necklaces
ready to sell.
A man offered me thirty dollars."

She smells slightly sour
with sweat, the several nights
in Albuquerque.

We mention names
to each other,
people we know,
places we've been.

She says, "In May,
I was in Gallup jail
with a girl from Acoma."

I've been there too.
"The cook was an Apache.
He sneaked two chiliburgers
in to us.
He was sure good to us."

She giggles, and I laugh.
She gets off at Domingo Junction.

"Be good," I say.

"You too," she says.








The next poem is by our friend, Walter Durk. Walter, born in New York City, has traveled around the world, living at times in various places in Asia and the United States.



Inner Works

We peddle our lives.
Like a hawker we shout out the benefits -
the emollients in the soap to soften
the razor-sharp blade that slices a tomato
paper-thin.

We peddle our wares without telling how
quickly the soap dissolves or how fast the
knife edge dulls. Instead we speak of fragrances
or catch a ray of light to reflect on the blade.
And although they fear the razor-edge,
they are captivated. They crave the fragrance
and the feel of pain.








The next poem is from The Constructor, a collection of poetry by John Koethe published in 1999 b y HarperCollins.

Koethe was born in San Diego, California, in 1945. He was educated at Princeton and Harvard Universities. Since 1973, he has been Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. He has published several other books of poetry, including Domes, for which he received the Frank O'Hara Poetry Award.



Sunday Evening

Ideas as crystals and the logic of a violin:
the intricate evasions warming up again
For another raid on the inarticulate. And soon
The morning melody begins, the oranges and the tea,
The introspective walk about the neighborhood,
The ambient noise, the low lapping of water over stones.
The peace one finds encounters one alone,
In the memories of books, or half-remembered songs,
Or, in the mild enchantments of the passive mood:
To hesitate, to brood, to linger in the library and then,
As from some green and sunny chair, arise and go.
The noons seem darker, and the adolescent
Boys who used to hang around the parking lot are gone.
More water in the eyes, more dissonant musicians in the subways,
And from the font of sense a constant, incidental drone.
It is a kind of reconfiguration, and the solitary exercise
That seeks to affirm its name seems hollow. The sun is lower in
   the sky,
And as one turns towards what had felt like home,
The windows start to flicker with a loveless flame,
As though the chambers they concealed were empty. Is this
How heaven feels? The same perspective from a different room,
Inhabiting a prospect seen from someone else's balcony
In a suspended moment - as a silver airplane silently ascends
and life, at least as one has known it, slips away?

I thought that people understood these things.
The show the gradual encroachment of a vast,
Impersonal system of exchanges on that innermost domain
In which each object meant another one. Nature as a language
faithful to its terms, yet with an almost human face
That took the dark, romantic movements of desire, love, and loss
And gave them flesh and brought them into view;
Replaced by emblems of a rarefied sublime.
Like Canton's Paradise, or Edward Witten staring into space
As the leaves fall and a little dog raced through them in the park.
Was any of that mine? Was it anyone's?
Time makes things seem more solid than they were,
Yet these imaginary things - the dolphins and the bells, the sunny
   terrace
And the bright, green wings, the distant islet on the lake -
Were never barriers,but conditions of mere being, and enchanting haze
That takes one in and like a mild surprise gives way.
As though the things that one had strained against were shades of
   space.
The evening feels sweeter. The moon,
Emerging from a maze of clouds into the open sky,
Casts a thin light on the trees. Infinitely far away,
One almost seems to hear - as though the fingers of a solitary giant
Traced the pure and abstract schema of those strings
In a private moment of delight - the soundless syllables'
Ambiguous undulations, like the murmur of bees.








Here is an example of how very quickly a mood can change, I wrote the next two poems within fifteen minutes of each other, while drinking a latte at Borders.

As for the first, I woke up in a melancholy mood with the poem running through my mind well before I could be in a position to write it down. Minutes after finishing it, the scene in the second poem presented itself to me. Something about the sight of this very untraditional looking father of twins lifted my mood.



the time

the past,
so sweetly hurtful,
lays itself heavy
on me today

i pine
for the time
the best
seemed
still ahead
and not behind


Ozzie on duty

a pudgy-faced
young man
with mustache
and soul patch
pushes a double-
basket
stroller full of
twins

he sits
when they begin
to cry

feeds one,
his tattooed fingers
stroking
the baby's head

whispers
softly to the other

a hugely pregnant
woman
passes behind him

might
stay for lessons
from this 21st century
family man

Ozzie
on duty
while Harriet shops








On that sweetly domestic note, I end our efforts for this week.

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

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