Dreams in a Land Under a Far Red Sun   Friday, February 05, 2010


V.2.2.



Before I tell you about my featured poet for this week, I want to mention that I'll be taking a road trip to Lake Tahoe and back for a couple of weeks beginning near the end of the month. I may try to post from the road for at least one of those weeks, but it's likely I won't so its likely there won't be any new issues for that period of time.

Also, one of my web-lackies is getting out of the business in March. That will require me to do something, but I have no clue what or how. My frustration level is very low when it comes to this technical crap, so I'll have to find someone (nudge nudge Chris) to help me. Whatever happens, that change may also shut "Here and Now" down for another week or two. I hope not, but it that happens, be assured it will be back.

Now, on to my featured poet for the week, Laurie Corzett, with five poems marking her first appearance here.

Laurie is publisher of her visionary art 'zine, Emerging Visions, which can be found at http://emergingvisions.blogspot.com.

I visited the site and found very nice poetry and beautiful art. I recommend it.

Here's the rest of the gang for the week.


Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
How Space Travel Affects the Aging
December 2001


Me
priced to sell

Laurie Corzett
Rain-X

Herman Melville
from "Moby Dick" - Chapter 6 - The Street

Me
as every postman knows

Laurie Corzett
Beyond

Judith Viorst
Nice Baby
Where Is It Written


Me
morning slips in, almost unnoticed

Laurie Corzett
The Logic of Evolution

April Bernard
Psalm of the Spit-Dweller
Palm of the Surveyor in the Middle Latitudes


Me
the haircut

Pamela Kircher
What Some of Us Don't Know
We Love the Moon So It Shines


Laurie Corzett
Prologue

Me
the elements

Daisy Zamora
Campo Arrasado/Razed Earth
Voces Amadas/Beloved Voices
El Gato/Cat


Me
why do we eat cows but we do not eat dogs?

Laurie Corzett
of days past

Lawrence Joseph
When One Is Feeling One's Way

Charlie Smith
Santa Monica

Me
Till Death Do You Part, Amen

John Guzlowski
Fussy Eaters

Christian Knoeller
Having Sung with the Dead

Me
in the land of cat


And here we go.








I have often used by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan in "Here and Now" and have a couple of her books. The next poems are from one of those books, Without a Philosophy, published by Louisiana State University Press in 2007.

Morgan, a native of Atlanta, was the Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University in 2007.



How Space Travel Affects the Aging

1. What Their Bodies Know


They're not used to it.
There's a lot their bodies have learned
to endure.
through
facing a mirror or fingers -
yours or someone else's -
where a part of you is missing
or added.
Gravity
too little, too much
floating, free-falling, pinned to the Earth
in magnetic boots going nowhere.
Thus patience in one place -
a sightseer unable to hike mysterious
mountains seem from a window,
take the old bike up those blue curves
or swim for miles in a foreign sea.
Sight: eyes will not be portholes long.
Perspective:
how space travel affects the aging
is a question that makes them laugh.
They know where they're going next.

2. Italics Mine

   Researchers hope the sleep experiment will help explain
   why so many astronauts sleep one to three hours less each
   night in orbit than they do on Earth, and why the elderly
   tend to have trouble sleeping on Earth.

   - The Associated Press

trouble sleeping on Earth
trouble sleeping on Earth
troubled sleeping on Earth
Earth on sleeping trouble

one hundred, ninetyfive
ninety, eightyfive, eight-
y, seventyfive, seventy.
sixtyfive, sixty, fiftyfive
trouble sleeping on Earth
Earth. Earth. Earth.Earth

earth hearth heart further
heart hurt hear ear earth
birth breathe eat beat be
trouble sleeping on
earth trouble sleeping
on earth trouble
sleeping on earth

3. John Glenn HIres Literary Agent

   The Associated Press, November 3, 1998

But when he came down
he found he was wordless
having stored so few in his life

when it came down to
writing about he found
he kept thinking of birds

how when they come down
from the air they're at home in
they perch on a branch and sing

4. How the Aging Affect Space Travel

No crew
No tests
Below
Just blue
And you,
Weightless


December 2001

In the hundred hues of sorrow
Tonight is the color of fog
No memory of your face
How could that be?
All day I've been sick to my stomach
I suspect the mail, so empty
Of you, so full of spores
I make another drink anyway

Were you once right here?
Why can't I picture you doing
That little tap-step by the stove.








Here's my first contribution for the week.



priced to sell

i am in a anti-zen state
this morning, a disaggregated
mind -

no focus or concentration,
but my mind
whirling

with bits and pieces
of sixty-five years
of this and that

picking up
odd bits
as they pass

like the first time
i got in a fight,
a kid, fifteen or so,

don't know why,
just know
i lost,

the other guy
bigger with long arms
with fist upon

their ends
that repeatedly found
tender parts of my face

while i got in a couple
of shots to his stomach
so that the next day

my face looked like i'd drug it
on the sidewalk
and he complained of a mild

stomach ache
as he chewed on his
Babe Ruth candy bar -

never did get any better
at fighting
though as i got older

and large for my time
i did develop a mean look
that ended fights

before they got started,
except in bars
where there sometimes

are very drunk men
who try to accommodate
other personal inadequacies

by seeking out the largest
person in the room
to fight

but these could hardly be called
fights
since, by the time they reached

this state of self-delusion,
all i had to do was duck
their first swing

and their own momentum
would put them
face down

on the floor
which would end the fight
since the floor

is a hard place to get up
from
if you're drunk enough

to want to fight
the biggest person in the room
and that's the kind of thing

running through my mind
this morning
as i get ready to drive to Austin

to the State Surplus Property Warehouse
where i'm going to buy a desk - battered,
beat up and put out to pasture

like me
it may be,
but still sturdy and reliable

with many more good years left in it
and, like me, priced
to sell








As promised, here is the first of the five poems I have this week from our featured poet Laurie Corzett.



Rain-X

Dark, stormy roads.
I bravely observe through my windshield
which I have learned to protect with
a magical coating
brought from that place of wisdom,
a coating to aid clear vision,
too slippery for rain to cling.
The rains have always come
soaking to my bones,
blinding tears to dampen
the dust,
some say making life possible.
But that only works out if
I can see my road clearly,
the streams and ponds delineated.
Too blinded by the storm, I could drown.
Clear, serene, alive with joy and pleasure,
I have learned the route to wisdom,
though not yet found the payment
to make it my home.
On that poorly paved and lonely road
I seem to always be traveling,
beset by sudden storms
or long-raging desperation,
I am glad to have my slippery potion,
it's gift of clarity of vision,
for these storms are so magnificently
beautiful.








And now, for something completely different.

I am reintroducing myself to Moby Dick fifty years after I first read it, discovering along the way all sorts of stuff I was in too much of a hurry to appreciate when I was a kid.

This, for example, Ishmael's take on New Bedford as he takes his first walk around town in the daylight. He is stopped for the day on his way to Nantucket where he intends to sign on with a whaling ship, for no reason but that he's bored and when he gets bored he gets antsy and often into trouble. Having never been a whaler before, he thinks it might be a worthwhile thing to add to his store of experiences.

This is a bit long, but, oh well, I'll just go short somewhere else.



from Moby Dick

Chapter 6 - The Street

   If I had been astonished at first catching a glimpse of so outlandish an individual as Queequeg circulating among the polite society of a civilized town, that astonishment soon departed upon taking my first daylight stroll through the streets of New Bedford.
   In the thoroughfares nigh the docks, any considerable seaport will frequently offer to view the queerest looking nondescripts from foreign parts. Even in Broadway and Chestnut streets, Mediterranean mariners will sometimes jostle the affrighted ladies. Regent Street is not unknown to Lascars and Malays; and at Bombay, in the Apollo Green, live Yankees have often scared the natives. But New Bedford beats all Water Street and Wapping. In these last-mentioned haunts you see only sailors; but in New Bedford, actual cannibals stand chatting at street corners; savages outright; many of whom yet carry on their bones unholy flesh. It makes a stranger stare.
   But, beside the Feegeeans, Tongatabooans, Erromanggoans, Pannagians, and Brightggians, and, besides the wild specimens of the whaling-craft which unheeded reel about the streets, you will see other sights still more curious, certainly more comical. There weekly arrive in this town scores of green Vermonters and New Hampshire men, all athirst for gain and glory in the fishery. They are mostly young, of stalwart frames; fellows who have felled forests, and now seek to drop the axe and snatch the whale-lance. Many are as green as the Green Mountains whence they came. In some things you would'd think them but a few hours old. Look there! that chap strutting round the corner. He wears a beaver hat and swallow-tailed coat, girdled with a sailor-belt and sheath-knife. Here comes another with a sou'-wester and a bombazing cloak.
   No town-bred dandy will compare with a country-bred one - I mean a downright bumpkin dandy - a fellow that, in the dog-days, will mow his two acres in buckskin gloves for fear of tanning his hands. Now when a counrry dandy like this takes it into his head to make a distinguished reputation, and joins the great whale-fishery, you should see the comical things he does upon reaching the seaport. In bespeaking his sea-outfit, he orders bell-buttons to his waistcoats; straps to his canvas trousers. Ah, poor Hay-Seed! how bitterly will burst those straps in the first howling gale, when thou are driven, straps, buttons, and all, down the throat of the tempest.
   But think not this famous town has only harpooners, cannibals, and bumpkins to show her visitors. Not at all. Still New Bedford is a queer place. Had it not been or us whalemen, that tract of land would this day perhaps have been in as howling condition as the coast of Labrador. As it is, parts of her back country are enough to frighten one, they look so bony. The town itself is perhaps the dearest place to live in, in all New England. It is a land of oil, true enough: but not like Canaan; a land, also, of corn and wine. The streets do not run with milk; nor in the spring-time do they pave them with fresh eggs. Yet, in spite of this, nowhere in all America will you find more partrician-like houses; parks and gardens more opulent, than in New Bedford. Whence came they? how planted upon this once scraggy scoria of a country?
   Go and gaze upon the iron emblematical harpoons round yonder lofty mansions, and your question will be answered. Yes; all these brave houses and flowery gardens came from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. One and all, they were harpooned and dragged up hither from the bottom of the sea. Can Herr Alexander perform a feat like that?
   In New Bedford, fathers, they say, give whales for dowers to their daughters, and portion off their nieces with a few porpoises a-piece. You must go to New Bedford to see a brilliant wedding; for, they say, they have reservoirs of oil in every house, and every night recklessly burn their lengths in permaceti candles.
   In summer time, the town is sweet to see; full of fine maples - long avenues of green and gold. And in August, high in air, the beautiful and bountiful horse-chestnuts, candelabar-wise, proffer the passer-by their tapering upright cones of congregated blossoms. So omnipotent is art; which in many a district of New Bedford has superinduced bright terraces of flowers upon the barren refuse rocks thrown aside at creation's final day.
   And the women of New Bedford, they bloom like their own red roses. But roses only bloom in summer; whereas the fine carnation of their cheeks is perennial ass sunlight in the seventh heavens. Elsewhere match the bloom of theirs, yet cannot, save in Salem, where they tell me the young girls breathe such musk, their sailor sweethearts smell them miles off shore, as though they were drawing nigh the odorous Moluccas instead of the Puritanic sands.








So how does one follow Herman Melville? Something short, I think, with a touch of snarky humor.

Like this.



as every postman knows

read
in the papers
that the Tea Party people
are having trouble
with their national convention,
speakers dropping out,
complaints about high registration fees,
concerns that someone
is making a whole bunch of money
off this thing

not a surprise
to me,
cranks and crybabies
have started many a political movement,
but they always fall in
on themselves,
because

as every postman knows,
ankle-biters
will bite ankles, even if there are none
available
but their own

it is their nature








Now, the second poem from our featured poet, Laurie Corzett.



Beyond

Slipping through the hour-glass
to breathe ethereal sand,
to land unseen, but tasted
deeply in the interstices
of consciousness.

Will I meet you there?
A long-lost hope,
inspiring melody
synergizing anthem of camaraderie?
Welcome me to this place
beyond secrets and stars.








As I mentioned above, I am rereading Moby Dick fifty years after I read it the first time. As you might expect of a fifteen-year-old reader of a book like this, I missed a lot. One of the things I'm finding, at least in the early chapters, is some fairly subtle and humorous social commentary.

Carrying on that tradition of humor and social commentary, Judith Viorst has been writing, since the 1960s about growing up and growing old in America. In her poems, she is the young single New Jersey girl, moved to Greenwich in search of orgies, working fireplaces, and intellectuals, and her transition from aspiring bohemian to a married woman and mother, trying to find some way to incorporate at least some of her old life into the new.

The poem I've used is from her book, When Did I Stop Being and Other Injustices, published by Simon and Schuster in 1987.



Nice Baby

Last year I talked about black humor and the impact of the common
   market on the European economy and
Threw clever little cocktail parties in our discerningly eclectic
    living room
With the Spanish rug and the hand-carved Chinese chest and the
    lucite chairs and
Was occasionally hungered after by highly placed men in
    communications, but
This year we have a nice baby
and Pablum drying on our Spanish rug
and I talk about nursing versus sterilization
While men in communications
Hunger elsewhere.

Last year I studied flamenco and had my ears pierced and
Served an authentic fondu on the Belgian marble table of our
    discerningly eclectic dining area, but
This year we have a nice baby
And Spock on the second shelf of our Chinese chest.
And instead of finding myself I am doing my best
    to find a sitter
For the nice baby banging the Belgian marble with his cup
While I heat the oven up
For the TV dinners.

Last year I had a shampoo and set every week and
Slept an unbroken sleep beneath the Venetian chandelier of our
    discerningly eclectic bedroom but
This year we have a nice baby,
And Gerber's stained bananas in my hair.
And gleaming beneath the Venetian chandelier,
A diaper pail, a Portacrib, and him,
A nice baby, drooling on our antique satin spread
While I smile and say how nice. It is often said
That motherhood is very maturing.


Where Is It Written

Where is it written
That husbands get forty-five-dollar lunches and invitations to
    South America for think conferences while
Wives get Campbell's black bean soup and a trip to the firehouse
    with the third grade and
Where is it written
That husbands get to meet beautiful lady lawyers and beautiful
    lady professors of ancient history and beautiful sculptresses
    and heiresses and poetesses while
Wives get to meet the checker with the acne at the Safeway while
Where is it written
That husbands get a nap and the football game on Sundays while
Wives get to help color in the coloring book and
Where is it written
That husbands get ego gratification, emotional support, and hot
   tea in bed for ten days when they have the sniffles while
Wives get to give it to them?

and if a wife should finally decides
Let him take the shoes to the shoemaker and the children to the
    pediatrician and the dog to the vet while she takes up
    something like brain surgery or transcendental medication.
Where is it written
That she always has to feel
Guilty?








One of our neighbors got themselves a rooster. I'm an early-riser so I kind of like to hear the rooster crow as I'm walking out to my car in the morning.

I suppose I'd feel differently about it if I was a later sleeper.



morning slips in, almost unnoticed

sunrise
through scattered fog
like golden rain

a quiet morning

birds still
sleep

no rustling
in the trees

morning slipping in
almost
unnoticed

until
the neighbor's rooster

announces the
day








Here's Laurie's third poem, Laurie Corzett, our feature poet.



Logic of Evolution

Successful progenitors
survive to sow seed
by force or persuasion
or staying unseen
or banding together
that more may succeed
to improving conditions
enhancing the breed.
But, for successful teamwork
we must
learn to respect, honor, and trust
expect to give and take and share
accept the caring for and care.
In community varied seeds are sown.
Thus is a thriving future grown.
Now, brothers may squabble;
neighbors may scorn.
Barriers built up,
preparations for war.
Who is emboldened by
destruction and blood,
blowing civilizations
back into mud?
Are they kind people
of honor and joy?
Those who can do;
the lacking destroy.
Guns, bombs, words, cruel
contempt, angry sneers,
promoting of pain,
preying on fears,
giving us naught but
unneeded tears
and advancement of certain
unsavory careers.
We can see through the lies,
realize the prize
Here! before our eyes.
Simple. Easy. Free.
Expect, accept, embrace
the abundance
of Peace.








My next two poems are by April Bernard, from her book, Psalms, published in 1993 by W. W. Norton.

Bernard, born in 1956, is an author and teacher from Bennington, Vermont, where she teaches at Bennington College. She is the author of two poetry collections in addition to this one: Swan Electric and Blackbird Bye Bye, and one novel, Pirate Jenny. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals and is included in The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English and By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry. She is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Award.



Psalm of the Spit-Dweller

The wavelets hot against my toes, the distinctive smell: of grouper,
washing bloated carcasses along the sand

Where the log has charred from beach fires, where the grass
has scorched from sun, and the dogs that trotted down the line
together and they said last year they ate a baby

White fish jump frantic into the air, white terns dive frantic
upon them, lozenges of white deserting their elements

Come down upon me now, O wrath implicit in that wall of black
that looms quickly, almost comically, from the north:
But now it is like a lid closing over the greasy white
    and snow-blue eye
of the sky: The lid will close forever

But the wrath is plain, unamused, as is apparent
    once it has passed,
and the spit is two miles shorter than two hours ago

Meanwhile, crazy cottages stuck like bird houses above
    the shifting sand
tell their own Pentateuchal comedy, as it will
some day also please the storm to laugh out loud


Psalm of the Surveyor in the Middle Latitudes

It could have been like that -
exactly twelve shades of grey

"O crooked darling, when I lost you
the battlefield was desolate, the smoke across the plains sulphurous
as the miserable miracle of peace settled across the land

I saw it in your eyes: pale eyes, like the eyes of a wolf
not quite right, pale coat like the blond wolves of the north

O my lost, we could have plotted murders together
hand in hand on the sand, long afternoons
of this grey and that grey: the edge of a subway platform, the hem
of a curtain in the picture window

And one day, I swear, we would have killed together,
together silenced the scream, shut the eyes, slacked the tongue

See what has been lost. Wolves scare easily;
or was the last winter too bitter, did you freeze in your den?
I long to press your head to my breast, the blood
you would cough on my freshly ironed, pearl-grey shirt."








I still only shave a couple of times a week, and then reluctantly, but do, now, get my haircut every couple of weeks.

It's just a phase I'm going through.




the haircut

got a haircut
today -

do it a couple
times a year

whether i need it
or not,

even
shaved for the occasion -

there are persons
of a status among the finer folk

who
suggest

i do it more often
both the shave and the haircut

even offering to gather up
among themselves

the six bits
required

but
i say, why,

i bathe every day,
scrub

behind my ears
and between my toes

and, even at my ordorifish worst,
don't stand our from the rest of the herd -

more presentable
they say i should be

and i say
well present this, Sherlock -

i look at myself every day
in the mirror

and have never
once

said to my self
tsk, tsk,

how unpresentable
i am today

in fact
i kinda like the view -

alive and
kicking is what i see,

and that's good enough
for me








And now, here are two poems by Pamela Kircher from her book, Whole Sky, published by Four Way Books in 1996.

According to Kircher's short biography published with her book, she had earned a Bachelor's Degree from Ohio State University, a Master of Library Science from Kent State University and a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College's MFA Program for Writers. Her poems had been published widely and she was included in Best American Poetry in 1993 and was the recipient of three Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships and had been, as well, a resident fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

I was unable to google any new information to add to the 1996 bio.



What Some of Us Don't Know

I was five years old and hit my dog over the head with a
    board.

A good board for smothering weeds
and bedding slugs behind the garage.

Tomatoes hung at my head back there,
plummeted when I brushed them,
split to juice and pulp and sticky seed.

My sister remembers I hit him,
but not why;
I can't remember
but feel
cold inside my upper arms where someone
takes hold and shakes you,
and in my hipbones even though it happened
in summer. The school was empty then,
or almost so, or should have been.
Something bad

has to happen
for a child to slam a board
against her cocker spaniel's coppery head.

My sister remembers
the board's blunt, truncated arc
and the narrow-bladed yelp.
I can only imagine
before the board I touched
a tomato leaf and hated the smell, it's unbright side
clasping the fruit. Beneath it
a hidden, thin shadow zippering the stalk
from root to tip.
I hated it.

The yelp sliced deep.
The dog went mean.
Sent to the pound he must have chocked in a pen of gas
within a week.

Under the forsythia's fortress of branches
the dog chain nestled link by link by link
into the dirt,
covered deeper,
keeping me.


We Love the Moon So It Shines

There are things seen only
when the lights are off.
Like night shifting its ashes
through the house almost soundlessly
except for a sudden crack then later
a soft thud for all the world
like a shovel breaking a root and a clump of dirt
dropped in a hole. Being buried alive.
How simple. She touches the floor
with one foot, the edge of the bed
with one hand. There she is
in the mirror, hardly a woman at all:
crooked at the waist, one arm long,
one bent. She picks up her dress
from the floor and lays it over the man
in the bed. Let him wake
in the hours that come and find
what his lies have done. The body
of the blue dress as empty
as the lover she has become.
All the rest of her ugly and dumb
as the moon's far face waiting night
after night to turn to the earth
and shine.








And now, poem number four from feature poet Laurie Corzett. I particularly like this one.



Prologue

Sun and Moon embrace
as one
for brief eternity
all mystery within

Black and White
create gradation
radiate kinetic energy
We can achieve
believe, begin, begin, begin

Gardeners, planting flowers,
planting food,
planting souls in
nurturing soil

Healers
perceiving wounds
to be sewn
relieving loneliness
revealing pain
held in, denied
twisting ardent toil

Teachers
admiring their wards
finding with them
questions, keys and doors;
realizing history is only destiny
when explorations cease;
invitations from space and time
come complete
with choices

A choir of voices
from softest spark
to fervent blaze
Troops of effervescent players
Symphonies,
drums at dawn
Inspiration and instruction
carried forth through song and stage
vibrant murals painting onward age to age
Taking up the challenge of the tale
that twists, turns, meanders
providing kaleidoscopic opportunity
ever to begin again








We had some great rain last week, though turned out not be as wild as predicted.



the elements

i'm watching
it rain
this morning

a modest little
sputter
of drips and drops now

but bigger stuff
is coming,
a fast-moving mass

of yellow
and angry, roiling red
on the radar, a promise

of major storms
coming to my neighborhood
soon -

my immediate intent
is to find a place to watch
it as it passes

a dry place
to appreciate the elements
loosed

to do their elemental thing -

but not for long,
for this will be a busy day
once i allow it to start,

everything i normally do
on Thursdays and Fridays
to be crowded into this one day

so that Friday
can be held free to prepare
for Saturday

a big day
beginning a big weekend -
a family wedding,

two middle-aged longtime
singles
easing into their second union,

the fires of youth, banked,
the storms of first marriages
passed, like the storms

that will whip over us today
and tomorrow, then leave behind
post-rage calm by Saturday,

a day of sunshine and clear skies
and new beginnings,
past tumult surrendering to

the hope of new days








I have three poems by Daisy Zamora, from her book, Riverbed Memory, published by City Lights Publishers in 1988.

Most of the poems in the book were written during the days of the revolution in Nicaragua. At the time, Zamora was program director of clandestine Radio Sandino. Later, she served as Vice-Minister of Culture in the Sandinista government.

I'm going to do something different with these poems. Since they are short, I am posting each poem first in Zamora's original Spanish, followed by an English translation by Barbara Paschke.



Campo Arrasado

La maletade su ropita que guarde con tanto
                    cuidado,
la nina que cruza la calle en brazos de su
                    madre,
o la vision efimera de una mujer prenada
                    esperando bus.

Cualquire encuento / Chispa /Desata la
                    hoguera
de este desprevenido corazon: zacate seco,
                    yesca
que se reduce a cenizas humeantes, a
                    campo arrasado.

Razed Earth

the suitcase full of baby clothes I kept with such
                    care
a little girl crossing the street in her
                    mother's arms,
or a passing glance at a pregnant woman
                    waiting for a bus.

Any encounter / Spark / Unleashes
                    a bonfire
in this unprepared heart: dry fodder,
                    tinder
reduced to smokey ash, to
                    razed earth.


Voces Amadas

Aquella tarde que llamaste a Maria Mercedes
descubri en tu voz la voz de tu padre
a quien nunca concoci.

Hubo un instante
que hablaste con una voz que no era tuya.

Una voz.

               eco de otra voz
que to hermana mayor, Gladys
               recordaria
o tu madre (si viviera)
habria reconocido de inmediato.

Beloved Voices

That afternoon when you called Maria Mercedes
I discovered in your voice the voice of your father
whom I never knew.

There was a moment
when you spoke with a voice that wasn't yours.

A voice

               echo of another voice
that your older sister, Gladys,
               would remember
or your mother (if she were living)
would have recognized immediately.


El Gato

No se sabe como aparecio.
En las mananas se estira al sol
o miramos ondular su silueta
tras el vidrio opaco de la ventana.

Ingrimo, como nosotros:
"una pareja expuesta al dardo..."

Es tierra de nadie, machol sin duena,
gato de contil
               que sobrevive
               cazando cucarachas
                    y algun raton.

Cat

No one knows where he came from.
In the morning he stretches in the sun,
or we watch his silhouette undulate
behind the opaque glass in the window.

Lonely like us;
"a couple struck by an arrow..."

He's no one's property, does as he pleases,
this charcoal cat
               who survives
               catching cockroaches
                    and an occasional rat.








Some questions just need to be answered.

Some, maybe not.



why do we eat cows but we do not eat dogs?

why do we eat cows
but we do not eat
dogs?

is it because we've seen
the thrashing legs
and heard the muted yelps
of dogs adreaming,
while never have we seen
a dreaming cow?

is it because we see a likeness
to ourselves in the dog,
in its spirit and curiosity and
sense of fun
and play;
never seeing the same
in a cow, no cow playing chase,
tugging on an old sock, no cow
gamboling in its field?

is it because
dogs fight when attacked
while cows go quietly
to slaughter?

is it because a dog
will protect us,
while a cow will never even notice
we are in danger
and wouldn't do anything about it
if they did?

is it because
when we look into the eyes
of a dog
we see a recognition of ourselves
while the cow's eyes
show us only a reflection?

is it because we think dogs
are smarter
than cows, their fiercely
active minds
always alert and ready to
jump on anything
that attracts their attention? -
is it because their attention
can be attracted,
unlike cows who live in a docile,
placid world, a zen world
where they ride the waves
of the eternal one, the ultimate
buddhist of the fields
having found the serenity
of grass and sky while
all else fades? - could this be why
in some places
dogs are eaten and cows revered?

these are some of the questions
that plague me
whenever i think about
the practice of vegetarianism,
the principle reason why
i strive
to think of the practice of
vegetarianism
as seldom
as
possible








I'm sure Laurie Corzett will be back with us in future posts, but in the meantime, here's her last poem for this week.



of days past

They were Republicans, Goldwater Republicans.
He was really a libertarian, and enjoyed explaining why.
She was a stay with our leader and prosperity
Eisenhower liberal wanna-be elite.

Broad labels to secure, to bind
little lives. Little ways of coping through the days.

It's all about the vignettes, when no one's watching.
The mind's eye snaps a photograph
to pull out from time to time,
to remember that we were, were becoming
were believing and trying to understand
all the waves and illusions.

Something moves in my vision.
A wing, a wave of hair,
A blossom in the wind?
Something.
There is a wisdom and
a mystery.
There is more than meets the eye.
There is emotion,
brewing up a storm.

Staying, curled up in a warm blanket
Sipping cocoa
Watching the storm outside.
Affixed to the fascination
of the flame dancing,
of the wind wilding,
of the window between.

There are days when all I can do is listen.
The words aren't there to speak.
There are days when the bubbling stew
Speaks to me,
And the comfort
Is all that I
can bear.








Next, I have two poets from the book, The KGB Bar Book of Poems published by HarperCollins. The poems are from readings during the first three seasons of the KGB Bar poetry series: spring 1997, fall 1997, and spring 1998. The KGB Bar, located in New York's East Village, has been hosting weekly poetry readings since its opening in 1993.



The first of the two poets from the book is Lawrence Joseph. Born in Detroit in 1948, Joseph was educated at the University of Michigan, Cambridge University and the University of Michigan Law School. He received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and, at the time of his reading at KGB Bar in 1997, was a professor of law at St. John's University. He has published several volumes of poetry, including Shouting at No One which won the Starrett Prize in 1983.


When One Is Feeling One's Way

I

the sky was red and the earth got hot,
hot, like a hundred degrees, I mean.
"Stay cool." the monk was said to have said,
"you've got a long way yet to go." A monk,
say, of Hue, who,. to protest the killing
of innocents, is dragging an altar onto
- yes it was, downtown, Woodward Avenue.
So what else is new? One new
voice mail message. A woman, a certain woman,
recently has been seen
rubbing both eyes with the palms of her hands

II

Two things, two things that are
interesting, are history and grammar.
Down in among the foundations of
the intelligence the chemistries
of words. "Those fault lines of risk
buried deep in the global financial
landscape..." What of it. Nothing but
the same resistance since
the time of Gracchi, that against
private interests' arrogation
of the common wealth - against
the turgid, precious language of pseudo-erudition,
false-voiced God-talkers and power freaks,
thugs, that's what they are, with no idea
what it is they're bringing down.

III

A pause. Any evening, every evening.
When one is feeling one's way,
the pattern is small and complex.
At center, a moral issue, but composed,
and first. Looks to me like,
across the train yards a blurred sun
setting behind the high ground
on the other side of the Hudson,
overhead purple and pink.
A changing set of marginal options.
Whole lots of amplified light.

IV

Oh, I get the idea. That image
the focal point of a concave mirror,
is old.

And that which is unintermitted
and fragile, wild and fragile (there,
behind the freighter’s yellow puffs
of smoke; God, no, I haven’t
forgotten it) is, I said, still
fragile, still proud.


My second poet from the KGB Bar is Charlie Smith. Born in Georgia in 1947, Smith grew up in the South, attended eastern schools, and settled in New York City. He has published four books of poems and six books of fiction. He read at KGB in 1998.


Santa Monica

Someone was writing this incredibly personal poem
and I was reading it over his shoulder
Santa Monica was in the poem
but you could hardly tell
and the devastating loss of integrity
his wife ranting
his cowardice - these were in the poem
and he was sweating as he wrote it
and looking around as if for spies
I am amazed he didn't see me
but sometimes they look right through you
he went on writing his act of contrition
and memory
expressing his extreme embarrassment and sorrow
at how he selfishly used loved ones, etc
lost the money and the house
sat in the car out in the driveway the last morning
and couldn't think where to go
until someone, a cop maybe, suggested
he go get something to et, and then after that he drove
to Kansas. There was a weeping blue cypress in the poem
and at one point he was very accurate about how it feels
when on the street the beloved turns you away.
Sometimes, he wrote, I stand unnoticed at a counter waiting.
At last the woman looks at me and asks what.

It was a struggle, for both of us, to get to the next part.








I had the opportunity to enjoy the event of a family wedding last week. It was a nice unpretentious ceremony and it was good to get together with family and I certainly wish the best to the bride and groom, but one particular moment in the ceremony set me to thinking and, as always, that set me to writing a poem.



till death do you part, amen

the ceremony
was about over

and the preacher
was saying

well,
you are married now

where there was two
the is now one

together
until one of you dies

and i'm thinking
wow

talk about a dearth
of options

what an old-fashioned
set of choices

but we know
it's not the way anymore

now
it's more like

till i get tired
of looking at your stupid

ugly face in the morning
do we part, or,

till your boobs sag
do we part

or, till i get my degree
and can support myself on my own

do we part, or until i get a really hot secretary,
or a really hunky pool boy do we part

or, till next thursday
do we part

or, till one or both of us
sobers up

do we part

~~~~

i don't get it

going on 33 years tuning in
sametime-samestation every day

i'm just not a person who understands
all this serial polygamy business -

it's not that i'm against divorce
it's that i don't understand

why it would be so terrible
for gay people to get married

when half the people who
can get married

can't stay that way and it's curious
that the places where people are most

against
gay people getting married

are the same places
where married people are least likely

to stay that way
and the difference i think

between the places where
people are least likely to stay married

which would be those same places where
bibles and gay people are most enthusiastically

thumped
and those places where people

are most likely to stay married
once getting that way

is the good old liberal
philosophy

of shacking up
which i would support as a new

law, replacing the old "defense of marriage act"
which outlaws gay marriage

with a new "shacking up in defense of marriage act"
which would outlaw marriage for everyone

until they have lived together as a couple
with their proposed spouse for at least

20 years, having raised at least two children,
putting at least one of them through college -

such a couple will, in my opinion,
by then be truly ready and prepared

for a "till death do us part"
scenario

this is my opinion, and i stand behind it,
but i think it best we not discuss such

out of the box thinking
with my wife








Next, I have two poets from The Spoon River Poetry Review, Winter/Spring 2007 edition.



The first of the poets is John Guzlowski.

Born in 1948 in a refugee came in Germany after World War II, Guzlowski came to the Unites States with his family as a Displaced Person in 1951. His parents were slave laborers in Nazi Germany and he grew up in Chicago amid a community of death camp survivors and refugees from the expanding Soviet empire that followed the war. Retired from Eastern Illinois University, he continues to write about his parents and the other displacement suvivors. These poems appear in his books Lightning and Ashes and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald.


Fussy Eaters

Fifty years later, my mother says,
Johnny, remember how you wouldn't eat
the good Polish sausage your father brought
from Starchek's Deli? Such a fussy eater

and your sister Donna was worse. In the camps,
she would chew on a stick from morning
to night and beg on her knees to get
some of the breast milk I was saving for you

because the doctor said you were a goner.
Not till I came to America did I understand
what he meant by this word. A goner - yes.
But in America, Donna wouldn't eat

the sweet cabbage with vinegar and onions
or the dumplings cooked with hot butter.
Only ten, she'd look me hard in the eyes
like I was a stone dropped from the sky

and say, I can't eat this Polack food.
It's gray and tough and laced with veins that steal
my breath away so much I feel like choking.
And I would say too her, but you'd eat

Marzipani, and one time I slapped her
and gave her five dollars - this in a time
when you'd work hard all day for five dollars -
and she went to Rickey's Restaurant
and ate meatloaf and mashed potatoes
and came home and was sick in the toilet.
This made me happy, and I said to her,
Now, you'll eat my cooking. Now, you'll like it.


The next poem is by Christian Knoeller.

Knoeller is an associate professor of English education at Purdue University in Indiana. He offers undergraduate courses for preservice secondary English licensure candidates on teaching writing and literature as well as graduate seminars on writing processes.


Having Sung with the Dead

what if the old metaphors
have it wrong, the talk
of rivers crossed flight
song and nobody really

knows what's become of you
who burned still believing
in peace Christ we know
more about the far side

of the moon there's so
much the living have
to contend with a woman
I once loved shows up

at the oddest moments
in dreams still talking
as if she never left ready
for the next step whatever

that means maybe just
breakfast you see we're all
in such a hurry here it's
hard to explain sometimes

things pass us by before
you know it everybody
feels this way at least
if you listen to the silly

country station where love
betrayed is cliche as if
we never learn but
what have i got

to complain about right
sure it's too cold again
the ground's slick
with ice and the days

keep getting shorter
what's that to the stories
you could tell it's true
we owe you our lives








I'll finish off the week with a cat story.



in the land of cat

still dark
when i left this morning
and despite the light freeze

the cats were at their usual station
on the front porch,
waiting to be fed,

the three of them
assuming their customary
stations,

Billy Goat pacing with
her normal
impatient enthusiasm,

George, ever the shy boy,
hiding
behind the esperanzas,

and Mama,
fierce Mama, waiting in the shadows
for her private serving,

hers and hers alone, since she does not
suffer any kind of maternal nostalgia,
the kids are mere survivors

from another existence
as far as she's concerned,
a mistake

from a previous life
and any attempt by either
to approach her pile of food

is quickly met
by a hiss and a raised paw
claws extended

i sit in the cold
and talk to the three of them,
though only Billy Goat

talks back,
but i expect no more,
for like us, each has it's nature

and is true to it -
this is just the way it is
every morning

as i have my few moments
in the land
of cat








That's it for our first outing in February. As usual, everything here belongs to its makers. My stuff is available for use, with proper credit as to source.

I'm allen itz. For better or worse, it's mine.

2 Comments:
at 4:54 AM Blogger kino said...

Hey Amna, have read couple of Ur poems....all are Great...well done!!
But Ur poem "The real love of the mother and the child" is amazing. It touched me. lovely theme !

WELL DONE !! :)

at 12:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely poems and seems to me that u r one that person who is an optimist

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