Introducing Rod C. Stryker   Friday, March 12, 2010


"Self -Portrait"
by Rod C. Stryker
V.3.2.





(I'm back, editing again. Apparently all is not fixed as announced below, but this time it looks like it might be my fault. It appears that I may have miskeyed a letteer of symbol in my HTML. I can't find it and can't stay to look for it any longer. At some point I'll find the problem and fix it - until then, since the content is all ok, I'm leaving this on line.)

I'm posting this week's issue without knowing for sure if it will post and, if it does, where.

The Techno-Bosses who rule our world continue, with great zeal, their mission to create stuff we don't need so that they can sell it to us, even those of us quite happy with the old thing we've been relying on for years. So, change is afoot, and, as it true with most change, it sucks.

Both my principle website, 7beats a second, and this blog were off line for a couple of days. Michaela Gabriel, the outstanding Austrian poet who is a good friend to many who read "Here and Now" and the original designer and builder of both the website and the blog made the changes needed to get it back up, but some of her original bells and whistles haven't made the switch yet (last time I looked) so while the content is here, things may still be a bit rough.

Do make a note, though, of our new Url's.

The Website is at http://7beats.com/welcome.html.

"Here and Now" is at http://7beats.com/herenow.html.

And, oh "happy, happy, joy, joy" (i still think of Ren and Stimpy with great fondness) everything is back to normal, including Michaela's format and design.

So, if this post actually goes where it's supposed to go, we will double our pleasure this week with two featured contributors.

First, as promised, I have featured poet Gary Blankenship with a series of Cheritas, a poetry form he worked with a couple of months ago. Gary has been seen here often, but this is his first tour as featured poet.

Cherita is the Malay word for story or tale. As a poetic form, a Cherita consists of a single stanza of a one-line verse, followed by a two-line verse, and then finishing with a three-line verse. It can either be written solo or with up to three partners. The Cherita tells a story.

The form was created by poet ai li in 1997 in memory of her grandparents. A selection of her Cheritas can be found here:

http://www.into.demon.co.uk/linked/cherita.htm#ai%20li's%20collection%20of%20twelve%20cherita



In addition to Gary's fine work, I also introduce this week for the very first time, San Antonio poet, author and photographer Rod C. Stryker and his photographs. Rod has been doing readings and gallery shows of his photos around San Antonio for five years. And, while seeing to his own work, Rod supports the arts in San Antonio as Chair of the Sun Poet's Society.

The images are from three of his photo series.

To see more of Rod's work, go here:

http://rodcarlosstryker.deviantart.com


and to contact him about commissioned work, go here:

rodcarlosstryker@yahoo.com


Meantime, here's the rest of the lineup.


Rosalia De Castro
They say that plants don't talk

Enheduanna
Inanna and the Holy Light

Mirababi
The night is painted red

Lilian Ursu
The Moon

Gary Blankenship
Lost Cherita
Riddle Cherita
Superbowl Cherita


Me
mama don't care about jesus

Wendell Berry
A Third Possibility
Thirty More Years
The Wild Rose


Me
it's my poem and i'll rant if i want to

Gary Blankenship
New Leaf Cherita
New Leaf Cherita III
Alice Cherita


Ken Waldman
January Flight: Nome to Kotzebue
Irma


Gary Blankenship
Pedestrian Cherita
Found Cherita
Frog Cherita (for Rodney


Me
walking Reba in the afternoon and backwards besides

Ogden Nash
The Firefly
The Strange Case of Mr. Pauncefoot's Broad Mind
The Gander


Me
i could write about flowers if i wanted to

Gary Blankenship
Winning Cherita
My Muse Seems To Be Asleep Cherita
Outside the Post Office Cherita


Deborah Garrison
The Firemen

Gary Blankenship
A New Look Cherita
Cherita Treasure
Cherita Miseries


Me
it's a quandary

John Koethe
Au Train

Me
summer reruns

Simon Armitage
Going West
A Few Don'ts About Decoration
Cultural Studies


Me
just don't tell anyone
eating crickets on a Tuesday afternoon






"Elysion or Hell"
by Rod C. Stryker




My first poems this week are from Voices of Light, published by Shambhala in 1999. The book's subtitle, "Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women Around the World from Ancient Sumeria To Now," sums up what the book is about.



The first poem is by Rosalia De Castro who lived from 1837 to 1885. An illegitimate child, she came from Spain and grew up learning Spanish and Galician, a dialect of Portuguese and the language she used for most of her poetry. Her life was harsh and isolated.

The poem was translated by the book's editor, Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone.


They say that plants don't talk

They say that plants don't talk,nor do
    brooks or birds,
nor the wave with its chatter, nor stars
    with their shine.
They say it but it's not true, for whenever
    I walk by
they whisper and yell about me
            "There goes that crazy woman dreaming
of life's endless spring and of fields
and soon, very soon, her hair
    will be gray.
She sees the shaking, terrified frost
    cover the meadow."
There are gray hairs in my head; there is frost
    on the meadows,
but I go on dreaming - a poor incurable
    sleepwalker -
of life’s endless spring that is receding
and the perennial freshness of fields
    and souls.
although fields dry and souls burn up
Stars and brooks and flowers! Don’t gossip about
    my dreams:
without them how could I admire you? How could
    I live?


The next poem is the first in the book and the poem that gives the book its title. It is by Enheduanna, born about 2300 BCE, a moon priestess and daughter of the Summerian king Sargon of Kkad. Her poems are preserved on cuneiform. This is one of a number of poems she wrote to the Sumerian goddess of love, Inanna (also known as Ishtar).

The poem was translated by the book's editor, Aliki Barnstone, along with Willis Barnstone.


Inanna and the Holy Light

You with your voices of light,
Lady of all the essences
whom heaven and earth love,

temple friend of An,
you wear immense ornaments,
you desire the tiara of the high priestess
whose hand holds the seven essences,
you have picked them up and hang them
over your fingers.
You gather the holy essences and wear them
tightly on your breasts.


The next poem was written by Mirababi, the best-know poet of India and the most read Indian poet in translation. She lived from about 1498 to about 1573. Her poems are in Hindi, but appear in earlier translations in other Indian languages. A rebel by personality, her local king tried to poison her after her husband, a prince, died.

The poem was translated by Willis Barnstone and Usha Nilsson.


The night is painted red

The night is painted red
and I am ready,
dressed to get undressed.
This is my night
with the king.
The sheets are fresh.
My eyes have their dark coloring.
I am Jasmine with its night aroma.
I'm so happy I go out
tossing gems to the hungry.
He has put on his beautiful
dark face.
I am happy
because now my wedding night
is eternity.
What hurt me is gone.
Don't worry, friend. I'm
lucky.
The Braj prince is mine
with his habit
of mountain holding and flute playing.
I don't have to go through
birth after birth.
He's taken me.


I finish this section with a contemporary poet, Lilian Ursu, born in Romania in 1949.

She translated the poem to English, with the assistance of Adam J. Sorkin and Tess Gallagher.


The Moon

Proud beast in the chill nucleus of the night,
illusion through which I make confession to autumn.
No one knows you better that this poplar,
this vacant plot of earth,
this hyacinth,
this telephone.

You are an orange tree draped in snow,
a mask abandoned in the sky,
cotton candy hawked at the fair of the human condition,
a wheelchair for an angel
or maybe and immense balloon.
The earth, invisibly attached, is your gondola-car,
weighing you down.

O moon, o bored mystery.





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




As I mentioned earlier, I've selected 15 Cheritas by Gary Blankenship, our featured poet this week, out of about twice that many he posted last month on the Blueline's poem-a-day forum.

Here are the first three, including the very first one that breaks one of the rules. The best thing about being good, like Gary, is that, for you, the rules can sometimes be malleable.



Lost Cherita

The morning I found a Cherita
where the two lines came before the one

I lost it so this will have to do

when the river runs backwards
we will row
into the mountains


Riddle Cherita

Sometimes answers given are not -

the past fragmented as broken amphorae
future dreamy prophesy in a mildewed fog

the present
sliding backwards
never quite in the now


Superbowl Cherita

the day of the Big Game

of course, I don't mean pads and pigskin
but the trophy for best commercial

snacks, ribs and cake
undo
last week's workout





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




Here's my first poem for the week.



mama don't care about jesus

the religioso-mosos
haven't been here in a while
and i miss eavesdropping
on their discussions

even though
they are to my way of thinking
like natives
from some lost pingo-pongo jungle tribe
debating the magical properties
dung beetle droppings
i am interested -

they are serious
men and women and
when serious men and women
seriously discuss even fantastical things
there is much to be learned

for these discussions
define and create a world view
and expectations and
since even otherworldly ideas
have consequence
in delineation of real world
ethical and practical parameters
i am interested
in all those things which interest them

did Jesus Christ
on the third day after his crucifixion
roll back the rock from his grave
and rise again
as the promised Son of the Jewish God?

I don't believe that,
but many do
and their belief
in the truth of it is the base
for much of the world i live in -
making a serious discussion of the practical
consequence of this "truth"
as important and interesting to me
as to its most fervent believers

but, then,
it is Thursday morning
and the sun shines bright
and traffic flows fast and steady
on the interstate
and there is spring in the air
and in the little green buds on the trees
that shadow my back yard
and in the baby across the room,
another green bud of spring,
being fed from a bottle by his father

and all these things argue for
another truth - that, whether the rock rolled or not,
there is a natural world all around us
that cares not for the concerns of man or God,
that has its own cycles, that these cycles
occur without discussion or learned study,
showing their proof, in the end,
that those deep questions which might engage
our interests, are of no interest at all
to the most real
and most true
of all that are the great
incontrovertibles





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




The next poems are by Wendell Berry, from his book Entries, published in 1997 by Counterpoint. Berry, born in Kentucky in 1934, is an academic, cultural and economic critic as well as a novelist, short story writer, essayist, poet, and farmer. He is also an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

This is a book I bought at the used book store and, until now, not paid much attention to.

Having looked more closely now, I realize how much I like this poet and the simplicity and directness of his presentation.



A Third Possibility

I fired the brush pile by the creek
and leaping gargoyles of flame
fled over it, fed on it, roaring,
and made one flame that stood
tall in its own wind, snapping off
points of itself that raved and vanished.

The creek kept coming down, filling
above the rocks, folding
over them, its blank face dividing
in gargles and going on, mum
under the ice, for the day was cold,
the wind stinging as the flame stung.

Unable to live either life, I stood
between the two, and liked them both.


Thirty More Years

When I was a young man,
grown up at last, how large
I seemed to myself! I was a tree,
tall already, and what I had not
yet reached, I would yet grow
to reach. Now, thirty more years
added on, I have reached much
I did not expect, in a direction
unexpected. i am growing downward,
smaller, one among the grasses.


The Wild Rose

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart,

suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once more I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.





from "Urban Demons"
by Rod C. Stryker




I have little tolerance for unnecessary complication, and no tolerance at all for unnecessary complications spawned by technology.



it's my poem and i'll rant if i want to

in human terms, i'm told
my computer is the equivalent
of my grandpas' grandpas, the one
killing bars in Tennessee
with Davy Crockett
and the other, at about the same time,
arriving in a sailing ship
at Indianola on the Texas coast
50 years before that city,
once one of the busiest ports
on the Gulf coast, was blown away
by the great hurricane of 1886

so how did a computer
i bought
five years ago
become the equivalent of my
great great great grandpas?

that's the story of our time,
when everything is replaced
before its time
by the cult of the new, each
new generation of unnecessary
change built to sell
to consumers to whom
last summer
is a prehistoric time
that must be buried before
the stink of its age
and un-bright applications
tarnish the brave new world
of this year's bells and whistles
and flash and unnecessary complications

the future is always now -
pressing in on me everyday
with something new i don't know
how to use and i hunger for a new taste
of the past, maybe that 49 Chevy fastback
i had when i was twenty, six cylinders,
standard transmission, power nothing,
built like a tank, but disguised as a
family coupe for the requisite
family of four who ate their Wheaties
in the morning and their tuna-bake
at night before settling in by the radio
for Fibber McGee and Molly or
Inner Sanctum or Marshal Dillion
or Dick Tracy or Boston Blackie
and what the hell was wrong with that

the shadow might have known then
what evil lurked in the hearts of men
but even he, in all is shadowy ways,
would have a hard time
understanding this plague of new
that is the evil of our time

and so i resort to rant, the last refuge
of the hopelessly inconsequential,
pounding here on my 5-year-old laptop,
both of us increasingly ineffectual,
both of us ever-watchful
for the garbage-bots who will be
coming any day now
to our door
to collect our obsolete remains





from "Derelict"
by Rod C. Stryker




Here's our featured poet, Gary Blankenship, again, with three more of his Cheritas.



New Leaf Cherita

exercising mid-morning

after my first cup of joe
pasta and lemon pie at home

my joints no longer move
in that configuration
my knees refuse the challenge


New Leaf Cherita III

Why take up exercise at this ripe old age?

There may be no elevators In Hawaii -
eight floors to climb if they are out of order

to reach the mountain top
you have to be able
to climb aboard the bus


Alice Cherita

to train her to go through a new doggie door

takes either lots of bacon treats
or a stuffed squirrel to attack

one small foot tap
but she hesitates
looking for help





from "Derelict"
by Rod C. Stryker




Here are two short poems by Ken Waldman from his book< Nome Poems, published by West End Press in 2000.

Waldman has lived in Alaska for many years, teaching at the University of Alaska and Sitka and frequently traveling to Native villages and rural communities where he shares his poetry and his music with students.



January Flight: Nome to Kotzebue

On the half-hour hop
I might have been covering
the width of Dakota -
a vast snow-heavy tundra
like common badlands -

but for the sun, that
crazy bush Alaska sun
rising with a yawn
at 10 A.M., then
imperceptibly falling

lazily back in bed,
its light flattening
to a fiery line
on the horizon
before rising once more,

the bounce into the sky,
a blinding ball
sparkling divinely
as my shadow flapped
and shot into the day.


Irma

Wolf to me is warm ruff over parka,
she wrote, her rough village poetry
an unintended strip; of gristle
in three pages of litter. Irma.
Slitted eyes, heavy moon face,
a half-second off. I glimpsed her
once in a Nome grocery store entry,
tough Shaktoolik girl hanging out
drunk, like many. Next day, class
she called in from prison, shared
her work, wholly incomprehensible
but for a sentence about her uncle -
Mouth of rotten teeth, his talk
a good fearing man spryly present
.
Irma. I heard said in her village
God shorts all people - that's how
we learn to love. Why we need family.





"City Scape"
by Rod C. Stryker




Now, for three more Cheritas by Gary Blankenship. This is a lovely little form and I'd like to do some, but I just don't seem to have the kind of mind or discipline that can fit things in boxes, no matter how pretty.


Pedestrian Cherita

The price of gas the tipping point so we walk?

A hiker searches his gear in the traffic land,
a stooped walker crosses three lanes of road

We wait
for the ambulance
to retrieve a teddy bear


Found Cherita

I climbed to the top of the world

I searched everywhere,
but found only one bar of your voice

the sparrow
is never lost in the fog
a raven bides his time

(from the Dixie Chick's song, "Top of the World.")


Frog Cherita (for Rodney)

old legs spring

into a modern verse
captured by a poet's pen

across the centuries
Basho's frog
still poised midair





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod c. Stryker




Just us old dogs together, that's the life for me.



walking Reba in the afternoon and backwards besides

my schedule in the morning
is tight,
requiring me to get up
and get to the restaurant
for breakfast
then to the coffee house
at the moment it opens so that
i can get to one of the three
electric plugs
before the oriental girl who
stays all day
and studies accounting
and the group of guys
writing some kind of textbook
for insurance adjusters
and the woman studying
to be a legal assistant and
the three lawyers in training
and the...anyway, a lot of people
show up early
for very few outlets
and he who hesitates
drains his battery

and sometimes
in the middle of all that
rushrushrush
i try to find time
to walk Reba and if i
sleep late
like most of this week
Reba misses her walk
and takes on such a mournful
appearance as she stands
at the door that i can hardly
stand it

so i broke down this
afternoon
and brought her down
to our walking place for a walk
but i fooled her by starting
where we usually end
and ending where we usually
start and since she is a dog
of very set habits i was afraid
it would bother her but - turned
out she didn't care
as long as she got all her usual
sniffs
in
and she did - she is, you know,
an old dog and cares little about
new smells
but
does treasure the chance to rediscover
smells she has smelled before

a lot like me, i guess,
not much interested in going
new places,
seeing
new things but enjoying
very much
returning to places i came
to enjoy
in the past - rediscovering
like Reba
old pleasures and smells

just a couple of old dogs,
that's us,
happy be where we've been
before, happy to do
what we've done
before

just a couple of old dogs
who like,
mostly,
to travel in circles





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




I was sitting here, by the window facing the street, about to pick the next poet for my blog, when Tim, the Timo of Timo's Coffeehouse on the corner of San Pedro and Mistletoe, brought this book over to me - Good Intentions, a collection by Ogden Nash published sometime in the 1940s by Little Brown and Company.

So that's the story behind this first appearance of Ogden Nash in "Here and Now."



The Firefly

The firefly's flame
Is something for which science has no name.
I can think of nothing eerier
Than flying around with unidentified glow on a per-
    son's posteerier.


The Strange Case of Mr. Pauncefoot's Broad Mind

Once there was a man named Mr. Pauncefoot to whom
    Fate could not have been meaner,
Because he was a born in-betweener.
Yes, he was one whom in argument nothing but woe
    ever betides,
Because he always thought that there was much to be said
    on both sides,
With the result that to his friends on the Left he was but a
    little capitalistic bee busy distributing Tory pollen,
While on the Right he was rumored to be in the pay of
    Stalin.
Mr. Pauncefoot lived in a suburb, which was inevitable
    but rather a pity,
Since the upshot was that he appeared as a city boy in the
    country and a country boy in the city.
He was never invited to sing either solo or in a convivial
    quartet by even the kindest Samaritan,
Because his voice was just a little too low for the tenor and
     high for the baritan.
Mr. Paunchefoot was miserable until one day he read about
    the donkey that starved to death between two hay-
    stacks because it couldn't decide which haystack to
    begin on and he said, "That's an end of all my con-
    fusions,"
Only Mr. Pauncefoot didn't starve to death, quite the op-
    posite, he spent the rest of his days very happily eat-
    ing his own words between two conclusions.


The Gander

Be careful not to cross the gander,
A bird composed of beak and dander.
His heart is filled with prideful hate
Of all the world except his mate,
And if the neighbors do not err
He's overfond of beating her.
Is she happy? What’s the use
Of trying to psychoanalyze a goose?





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




Sometimes you just have to take control, do what you want to do instead of what someone else wants, even if you could do what they want quite well.



i could write about flowers if i wanted to

i could
write about flowers
if i wanted to

cause
a man's got to know
his flowers
if he wants to be
a poet

and
i know about flowers

they're these things,
sometimes big
and sometimes not,
that poke up out of the
ground, green
on the bottom usually,
and colored on the top,
often red
or yellow, but sometimes
pink, purple or blue
and occasionally even
white

so
if you see something like that
you can be sure
it's a flower,
unless it's something else,
like a fire hydrant or a bulldog in a tutu

i know about flowers

and i could write about flowers
if i wanted to,
but i'd rather write about naked women
writhing
seductively
on a bed of, what else,
flowers, or maybe i'd like to write about
a brave hero,
tall
muscular
square-jawed
climbing a high mountain
fighting
ugly
medieval-nightmare-looking
monsters
mind-controlled by the evil merciless
Ming
and his henchmen Ping, Sing, Wing,
and Klingelhoffer -

i'd rather write about
this brave-muscular-hero fighting
off all these bad
ding-a-lings
so as to rescue
and save from fates-worse-than-death
their harem of slave-women
writhing
seductively
on a bed of, what else,
purloined petunias

that'd be a lot more fun
than writing about flowers,
which i could do
if i wanted to
cause a man's got to know his
flowers
if he wants to be a poet





from "Urban Demons"
by Rod C. Stryker




Now, here we are, with our fourth set of Cheritas by Gay Blankenship.



Winning Cherita

CONGRATULATIONS YOUR EMAIL JUST WON

I can understand how I might have won
or even my screen name is now rich, b...?

a lottery most rare
the winner
email never sent


My Muse Seems To Be Asleep Cherita

my muse seems to be asleep

or maybe she ate too much turkey
and fruitcake over the holidays

all she seems to belch
are seven lines
full of pies and whipped cream


Outside the Post Office Cherita

Outside the post office

Demonstrators hold up posters
with Obama as Hitler, a parrot

Their message
dissolves
in the heat of their hate





from "Derelict"
by Rod C. Stryker




The next poem is by Deborah Garrison, from her book, A Working Girl Can't Win, published by The Modern Library in 2000.

Garrison was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She earned her bachelor's degree in creative writing from Brown University in 1986 and her master's degree in Literature from New York University. She worked on the editorial staff of The New Yorker for fifteen years, then went to Alfred A. Knopf as poetry editor and to Pantheon Books as senior editor.



The Firemen

God forgive me -

It's the firemen,
leaning in the firehouse garage
with their sleeves rolled up
on the hottest day of the year.

As usual, the darkest one is handsomest.
The oldest is handsomest.
The one with the thin, wiry arms is handsomest.
The young one already going bald is the handsomest.

And so on.
Every day I pass them at their station:
the word sexy wouldn't do them justice.
Such idle men are divine -

especially in summer, when my hair
sticks to the back of my neck,
a dirty wind from the subway grate
blows my skirt up, and I feel vulgar,

lifting my hair, gathering it together,
tying it back while they watch
as a kind of relief.
Once, one of them walked beside me

to the corner. Looked into my eyes.
He said, "Will I ever see you again?"
Gutsy, I thought.
I'm afraid not, I thought.

What I said was I'm sorry.
But how cold the look into my eyes
if I didn't look equally into his?
I'm sorry: as though he'd come close, as though

this really were a near miss.





from "Derelict"
by Rod C. Stryker




Here's our final set of Cheritas by featured poet, Gary Blankenship.

It was great to have Gary introduce this new form to us. He's now taken on the challenge of something called "Sevenlings." Maybe we'll see some of those in weeks to come.



A New Look Cherita

When the broken hard drive replaced

nothing seems to fit like tailored -
the sleeves too long, pants too short

the old red hat
formed to my head
tossed in the trash


Cherita Treasure

I locked it away

in a jade and onyx box
set among unmailed letters

the key
hidden in a fake rock
too perfect to fool


Cherita Miseries

They call it "being under the weather"

but when you live the cloudy Northwest,
there's always weather overhead

a sudden storm
blows
across my brow





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




I wrote this at the beginning of the week, proving that Monday can be just as tough in the poetry biz as anywhere else.



it's a quandary

it's
a real quandary -

i have this great opening line
for a poem
but i can't think of anywhere
to take the poem from there
that isn't gross and
disgusting
and potentially criminal
in some states

so...
what to do?

i could write a poem
about
the drizzly dreary weather
outside
but i've done that a lot
lately
and can't think
right off
of any words for "wet"
i haven't already
used

(though
i am pleased
to have so much drizzly
dreary
weather
to write about - so much better
than the dry droughty weather
i had to write about
a couple of times a week
a year ago)

i could write about
the "Oscars" last night
but i haven't seen any of the
movies they were talking about
and am still kind of pissed that the few
movies i did see last year
that i thought were great weren't
mentioned at all

(but it was fine
to see the Dude finally
abide)

i could write about
the religioso-mosos
who are sitting at the table
next to me,
having another interesting discussion,
this time about the fallibility
of the Old Testament
as an expression of the oral tradition
of a primitive culture 3,000 years gone -

but
then the one that's been missing
from the table, the one who looks like
God's
ivy league older brother,
comes in late and the discussion changes
from Old Testament concerns
to the health benefits of eggs fried hard
over eggs over easy

and
that's the way it is today

not damn thing worth writing about,
except the dentist appointment
i'm about to be late to
and i don't want to write about that
because i hate writing about
sitting in a dentist's chair
even more
than i hate sitting
in a dentist's chair with my mouth open
and large fingers poking around -

tonsils to toes

and
with those long fingers of his,
if i had any he'd be
tickling
my ivories
along the way

what to do?

i don't know - it is quite a quandary

it's
Monday
and it's quite a quandary...

neither a day nor a poem for the
memory
book





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




John Koethe, poet and essayist, was born Christmas Day in 1945. Originally from San Diego, California, he was educated at Princeton University and Harvard University, and is currently a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

His published work includes Blue Vents, Domes, which won the Frank O'Hara Award for Poetry, Falling Water, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and others, including The Constructors, published in 1999 by HarperCollins.

He has been granted fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been nominated for the New Yorker Book Award, the Boston Book Review Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Boston Book Review Book Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, and the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.

The next poem is from The Constructors.



Au Train

I like the view. I like the clear,
Uncompromising light that seems both
Ageless and renewed year after year.
I like the way the wind dies down at
Night until the lake grows still, and
How the fog conceals it in the morning.
I like to feel the breeze come up and
then to watch the day emerging from the
Sky's peculiar blue, with distant sounds
And subjects magnified as they approach
My mind, and it prepares to take them in.
I know that most of what there is remains
Unseen, unfelt, or subject to indifference
Or change; and yet somehow I find I want to
See things in a way that only renders them
Unreal, and finally as extensions of myself:
To look at them as aspects of my feelings,
As reflections of these transitory moods I
Know are going to fade, or dreams the years
Obliterate; and then to stare into my soul
And try to wish them back again, until they
Look essentially the same - some boats, those
Trees along the shore across the lake, that
Dense horizon line - as though refracted by my
Own imaginary memories. I look at them and
Think of how they must have looked before.
I think of all the forms of happiness, and
How I'd fantasized that it might come to me
In minor moments of transcendence when the
Earth takes on quality of air, its light
Gaze that finds its subject in the sky. I
Think of how my heart would start to open,
How some clouds above a tree could seem as
Close to m as leaves, while ordinary sounds
- Like birds, or distant cars - could almost
Feel as though they came from deep within me.
Where did all those feelings go? I have a
Clearer sense of my surroundings, but their
Elemental glow is gone, the mere delusion of
Deliverance seems so far away, and day-to-day
Existence is a burden, dull and full of care.
At times I think I sense it in the distance,
That unnecessary angel by whose grace the
Stones sang and my vagrant heart responded,
That conveyed my waking dreams to earth but
Left them there, confined to what they are,
Yet more than that. And then I find myself
Reflecting things, imagining a vantage point
From which the years will all seem equal, a
Conception of myself and of the world that
Locates them in retrospect and brings their
Conflict to an end. I think I might have
Seen at least some fragments of the truth
Concealed in those imaginary feelings that
Appeared to me in ways I didn't recognize,
That spoke to me in terms of consolation
And that lent me something more than words,
Yet less than wings, and that were simply
Parts of what it meant to be alive





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod Stryker




I was digging though the piles of poetry books i have scattered all over my office and the bedroom next door, and ran across this - Mitochondria's First Anthology of Rarities & Loose Ends, a collection of poems from the lit-zine Mitochondria. I have a couple of poems in the anthology, including this one, which I also included in my own book Seven Beats a Second.

So here it is, a kind of fun thing, as summer and the season of TV reruns approaches.



summer reruns

let me tell you straight
Lily Belle

you're sweeter'n honey
on a cinnamon stick

hotter'n peppers
in a cast-iron skillet

juicer'n a dewmelon
cut fresh in the field

but...
your sex drive
is 'bout to drive me to drinkin'

can't we just watch some Hee Haw
reruns or something

i think i'm getting a heat rash





from "Urban Demons"
by Rod C. Stryker




Simon Armitage, born in 1963, is a British poet, playwright, and novelist. Before finding success with his poetry he worked as a probation officer and a supermarket shelf stacker. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including The Sunday Times Author of the Year, a Forward Prize, a Lannan Award, and an Ivor Novello Award for his song lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings.

Here are three of his poems from his very little book, Kid, published by Faber & Faber in 1992.



Going West

So from A to B
we point and counterpoint,
tread a thin line,
split hairs so finely

that we lose the thread.
With every maneuver you wonder
how I passed the test.
At every Junction

I could fill in your face.
And with the temperature gauge
getting into the red, and at the invitation
of the Last Chance Service Station

we pull up, let steam off
and give it a rest.
I'm so hungry
I could eat a buttered monkey. You,

you could manage a racehorse
and go back for the jockey.


A Few Don'ts About Decoration

Don't mope. Like Rome
it will not be built in a day,
unlike those raised barns
or Kingdom Halls we've heard of
with their pools of labour,

the elders checking
each side of the plumb-line,
the daughters and their pitchers of milk, full
beyond the brim. Their footings
are sunk before breakfast,

by sundown the last stone
is dressed and laid.
Don't let's kid ourselves, we know less
about third-degree burns
than we did about blowlamps. don't forget:

it's three of sand to one of concrete,
butter the tile and not the wall,
half a pound of spilt nails
will sweep clean with a magnet, soot
keeps coming and coming, sandpaper

smells like money.
Don't do that when I'm painting.
Don't begin anything
with one imperial spanner and a saw so blunt
we could ride bare-arse to London on it.

Also, when you hold down
that square yard of beech
and your eyes widen and the knuckles whiten
as the shark's fin of the jigsaw blade
creeps inland...

don't move a muscle.
And don't you believe it: those stepladders
are not an heirloom but a death trap;
they will snap tight
like crocodile teeth with me on top

and a poor swimmer. Don't turn up
with till roles like stair carpets. Don't blame me
if the tiles back flip from the wall
or the shower-head swallow-dives into the tub
and cracks it.

Don't give up hope
till the week arrives when it's done,
the corner turned, its back
broken, and everything comes on
in leaps and bounds

that even Bob Beamon would be proud of.
OK, that's a light-year away
but like a mountain - it's there.
Don't look down.
Don't say it.


Cultural Studies

She would put down the myth
of natural rhythm

with reference
to her cowrie-trading days

in the black, African interior.
How well she remembered

their poor playing
of her flageolet,

and their indifferent footwork
in the gentlemen's excuse-me.





from "Urban Angels"
by Rod C. Stryker




It seemed just another normal beginning to another normal day...



just don't tell anyone

the day began
as it normally does

the sun came
up

a great
relief to me
because
as i was laying in bed
this morning,
in the still-dark of 5 a.m.
the thought came to me that
it was going to be a day of changes,
new and different events
crowding
in on the day like
Great-Uncle Frank
showing up on your honeymoon cruise
to the Bahamas,
Great-Uncle Frank,
the family drunk
with bad teeth and
a hemorrhoidal condition you can't get him
to stop
talking about at dinner

you begin to think about this sort
of thing
when you get older and
change-aversive,
beginning to understand
from years of experience that
the odds
of things getting worse
are always better
than the odds of things
getting better
and he or she who thinks
otherwise
should become adept at the mechanics of
seeking
solace
through the medium of prayer

which leads one
to the final stage of life

desperation -

those days when body-part-failure
becomes a weekly event
and you're reduced to thinking,

well, it can't get any worse than this...

dementia
is the technical term for that state-of-mind

but
i'm not to that stage yet
and
the sun came up just as it usually does
giving me hope
all potential for excitement
has been pushed back
to another day
and today will be just
an everyday usual day

and i'm feeling
great
about it all

just don’t tell anyone


But then my fears were realized, unnormality intruded, but it turned out to be not so bad.


eating crickets on a Tuesday afternoon

i just ate a cricket
from Mexico

how he got there
i'll never know -

though overcome for a minute
by Groucho’s ghost

it is true -
i just ate a cricket

and it was from Mexico,
dried and pan-fried there

and transported to this side
of the river

by Tim, Timo's Coffee House Tim
that is


who offered it to me
along with my latte and chocolate chip

cookie - it was a dark brown
little thing -

the cricket, that is,
not the cookie -

crunchy
with more than a hint

of some kind of chili pepper
that gave it a bite

as it was chewed
and swallowed

a good taste, and an interesting
gustatory experience

though i could have done without
the stiff, hairbrush-looking

legs

tickling my throat
on the way down

almost like they were still
moving





"Donoma - Sight of the Sun"
by Rod C. Stryker




And so concludes this, our latest chapter. Hopefully this ended up somewhere where people could read it.

I'll be back next week with more poems, pics and another featured poet. I'm not sure who that will be, since i haven’t consulted my list to see who's next, but it will be, no doubt, someone terrific.

In the meantime, the script remains the same.

All material presented in this blog remains the property of its creators. My stuff is available to lend, as long as it is properly credited.

My name is allen itz, and I did this.

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