Just Another Little Stab At Immortality   Thursday, March 18, 2010


V.3.3.




We have a special treat this week. First, we have as our featured poet, Australian
Laurel Lamperd, then, for a first, we have Laurel's daughter, Dawn, with seven photos from the outback.

Laurel lives within sight of the Southern Ocean on the south coast of Western Australia. She writes novels and short stories as well as poetry. With a friend, she published The Ink Drinkers, a poetry and short story anthology of their work.

Dawn has a professional career that keeps her very busy, but is an avid photographer and especially enjoys traveling the rugged Australian outback to take photos. Here photos are together about the middle of the issue.

The rest of the photos are my own, old pictures taken in and around Big Bend National Park on the West Texas border with Mexico. The pictures inside the park were taken on two separate visits, one in the spring and one in winter. The pictures from outside the park were taken on a small two-lane road that runs along the Rio Grande River, sometimes level with it and sometimes high above it, from the Park to the border city of Presidio.

I did a little processing on my pics, aiming for (and getting, I hope) a kind of fresco-effect. A couple of times, when I got the mix just right, I also got the kind of deep, rich color that you used to get with early Polaroid color film.

Although the wildlife may have some differences, there is much similarity between the landscapes pictured by Dawn and those of mine.

And here's the rest of us.


Yuksef Komunyakaa
Neither/Nor
ukioy-e
Body of a Woman
Silkworm


Laurel Lamperd
Happy Families

Me
show, don't tell

Ralph Angel
The Local language
Late for Work
And So Asks


Laurel Lamperd
Borderline

Me
we know a sad day is coming

Simon Ortiz
Two Coyote Ones

Me
it is in the nature of all birds

Laurel Lamperd
Pastures

Dawn Lamperd
Photos from the Outback

Zhang Ji
Moored by the Maple Bridge at Night

Han Yu
Losing My Teeth

Bei Dao
Requiem

Laurel Lamperd
In Memoria

Me
a rant of an educational nature

Cluster R. Byers
The King of Travis Park

Me
the secret of my success
the day after


Laurel Lamperd
That Direful Spring
Towards 2010


Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Reading Apollinaire by the Rogue River

Me
OMG!!!









I start this week with a poet, Yusef Komunyakaa I had never read before buying the book for "Here and Now." The poems are from his book Talking Dirty to the Gods, published in 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana in 1947. He is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems for which he received the 1994 Pulitzer Prize. He has been Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets beginning in 1999 and is the winner of the 2001 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. He is a professor in the Council of Humanities and Creative Writing program at Princeton University.



Neither/Nor

Gods, with your great golden
Shields & winged feet, you
Granted me a perfect wish,
& then threw in a second one

As bonus. I didn't know
One was a blessing, the other
A curse. You know I don't care
About gold, the bright burdens

It buys. I have seen a world
Of chains & ankle bracelets,
but I never could stomach pure
Unadulterated illusion - or endless

Situation comedy. Lord, magicians
Sure can conjure an openmouthed
Crowd. One wish grew worthless
After driving the other from my door.


Ukiyo-e

We turn away from the flesh
On paper, but find ourselves
Praising the flow of feudal silk
& rice powder, as a sumarai's gaze

Unfastens a windfall of blossoms
In some house of assignation
The other side of Hiroshige's forecast
Of slanted black rain. Somehow,

We face Utamaro’s hairy ape
Who brandishes his penis
Like an untutored sword
At a pale maiden against indigo.

The two are brushed into a tussle
Of fire with water, a fury of silk
In a floating world, a season
Of flowered branches breaking.


Body of a Woman
Cadavere de Donna

Here you are, still
Reposed behind glass
Like a work of art. Yes,
body of precious aloneness,

There are times I desire you
In a lover's arms. Sometimes
I want you making fierce love,
With moans like through bubbles

Of pleasure forever in Pompeii's
Lava & ash. Yet, other nights,
As Miles Davis plays ballads
In the background, like tonight,

There's only irony: I see
You're gazing out toward
The House of the Faun,
Waiting for someone.


Silkworm

They made a fancy catch
For a nightgown out of me.
Fashioned into a silver hook's
Accomplice, a dumb eye

Against her skin, eager
Fingers fought each other
To unhook me, like an unkind
Thought in a man's brain.

Sometimes, I am a silk bud
Straining not to bleed open
With the rise & fall
Of her breasts. Desire

Snapped the wire hook
One night. Her own fingers.
Now, I am a little noose
Around a mother-of-pearl button.








This is our first poem from this weeks featured poet, Laurel Lamperd.



Happy Families

When I was twelve
my father left.
"He'll send for us
when he's ready, "
my mother said
who believed in him
as we all did.

Except for postcards
in the first year
I was forty
when next I heard
of him.

My mother was dead.

He had died
of a heart attack
in some little town
in Queensland
I'd never heard of.








And this is my first poem for the week, a strange sort of love poem I wrote last week about how the best love poems are never written.



show, don't tell

so inadequate,
us poor poets, writing
our inadequate love poems, trying
to speak that
which cannot be spoken

for there is no true
language
for love, only
crude approximations,
like hand puppets
signing
their lines to a deaf audience

a child's smile,
a flower's bloom opening in spring sunlight,
a mother's kiss
on fevered brow,
a father's embrace,
love
in all its truest forms -
all things
too deep and fine
for any clumsy accumulation
nouns and verbs and adjectival
elaboration

such human truth
can only be mimed,
actions
speaking louder than
words -

so don't say you love me -

show me

with you eyes
and your smile
and your welcoming arms
show your love
to me

and i will show you back,
all the best ways
i can








Now I have three poems by one of my favorite poets, Ralph Angel. The poems are from his book, Twice Removed, published by Sarabande Books in 2001.

Angel, born in 1951, had two previous books of poetry, Neither World, which won the 1995 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and which I have lifted poems from often, and Anxious Latitudes. His poems appear frequently in top poetry and literary journals and in numerous anthologies. He is Edith R. White Endowed Chair in English at the University of Redlands and a member of the faculty at the MFA Program in Writing at Vermont College.

Born in Seattle, Angel has lived in Los Angeles, the subject of many of his poems, for many years.



The Local Language

The way she puts her fingers to his chest when she greets him.

The way an old man quiets himself,

or that another man waits, and waits a long time, before
    speaking.
Its in the gaze that steadies, a music

he grows into - something about
Mexico, I imagine, how he first learned about there.

It's in the blank face of every child,
a water that stands still amid the swirling current,

water breaking apart as it leaves the cliff and falls forever
through its own, magnificent window.

The way a young woman holds out a cupped hand, and doves
    come to her.

The way a man storms down the street as if to throw open
    every door.

And the word she mouths to herself as she looks up from her
    book - for

that word, as she repeats it,

repeats it.


Late for Work

In the throes
of winter a tropical storm muddies
the gutters

where traffic congests and then as always
eases us through.

Maybe I knelt there
for since they have vanished the lamps
in shop windows

flicker within. Somebody
flinching. A red
umbrella and that part of town swept from the hip

and the shoulder.
From my

open side. Somebody
pushing a bicycle. somebody's alone
on the square.

So much
springtime we clog to catch up
to the first wave
of heat. People chatting
and murmuring. A young man

pouring tea.
The way an old man dabs his wet face
with a napkin. The way

she reclines when she reads.
so much cinnamon
and bread.

God how I love Darjeeling.


And So Asks

Scissoring palm trees in the gorgeous light above.
Spires and gold-colored domes.
The blue of the avenue -
the air itself
handed down among crisscrossing
wires and rusted vanes


astonishes with our breathing
the pulse of shadows
and trains.

Blood blossoms the mortar -
newsprint and clutter and the chemical taste
the eye goes to
and savors,

and the stone too looks around.


From that which is not.
From that which is not but used to be and so asks
a stranger to snapshot our leaving -

that you were happy too,
relieved somehow and nicely tired,
and the smoke

and the hillsides drift by.








Here's Laurel Lamperd, with her second poem for the week. As with a lot of the poets I like, most of Laurel's poems come with stories attached.



Borderline

He said get rid of it
and went up north
shearing

She couldn't remember their names
There were two years between some
less between others.
Her eldest girl always
had one on her hip.

She escaped to the river
to the moss covered rocks
and wind driven trees
to write a poem.

The poem was for her friend
dead from a backyard abortionist
The last word she wrote was
Freedom.

The children who survived
the homes and foster parents
returned to search for her.
The eldest girl looked under the moss
seeing the word

Freedom.








I've written a lot of poems about my pets, especially my dog, Reba. I wrote this a week or so ago.



we know a sad day is coming

i wonder
if Reba knows
she's going deaf
or if she just thinks
the world
is going quiet on her

we communicate now
mostly through hand signals
and close touching,
as when i hold her head
and, nose to nose,
whisper the secret names
of all the places
we've been to these
past 15 years
and all the secrets
of all those places that
only we know

used to
i could rattle her leash
four rooms away
and she'd be at the door
waiting for a walk
before i could get there

now
i have to go into the bedroom
and give her a little shake
and she rises slowly,
hesitating a little as she
sets weight on her hips, but,
once she has her feet under her,
she is as eager as ever
for a walk
or, on a bright, cool day
when the air is crisp and fresh,
a run and a chase
around the backyard,
fast, she runs,
her body low to the ground,
her long fur streaming behind her -
no reason for this,
a chase with nothing to catch
but the exuberance of memory,
re-living
the puppy-spring days
of long ago

she is an old dog,
getting very thin
under her thick coat,
more deaf every day,
seeing less and less
through clouded cinnamon eyes,
bones old
and joints stiff,

we know a sad day
is coming








Now I have a poem by Simon J. Ortiz, a poet I've used frequently in "Here and Now." Again, he's another storyteller. The poem is from his book Woven Stone, published in 1992 by the University of Arizona Press.

Ortiz born in 1941 in Albuquerque, New Mexico is a Native American writer of the Acoma Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the second wave of what has been called the Native American Renaissance. He continues to be one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets.



Two Coyote Ones

I remember that one about Coyote
coming back from Laguna Fiesta
where he had just bought a silver belt buckle.
He was showing off to everyone.
That Coyote, he's always doing that,
showing off his stuff.
            Probably,
it wasn't as good as he said it was,
just shiny and polished a lot.
I never saw it myself, just heard about it
from one of his cousins who said
the Navajo was kind of wobbly when Coyote
bought it for five dollars and a small sack
of wheat flour he'd "borrowed"
from a Mesita auntie.
            That Coyote,
I wonder if he still has that silver buckle
that everyone was talking about
or did he already pawn it at one of those
places "up the line."
He's like that you know and then he'd tell
people who ask,
        "Well, let me tell you.
I was at Isleta and I was offered
a good deal by this compadre who had
some nice ristas of red chili. He had
a pretty sister..." and so on.
And you can never tell.

One night in summer in southern Colorado,
I was sitting by my campfire.
Rex, the dog, was lying down
on the other side of the fire.
            I could see
the lonely flicker of the fire
in his distant eyes.
(That sounds like just talk
but Rex was a pretty human dog.)
                And this
blonde girl came along. I mean that.
She just came along, driving a truck,
and she brought a cake.
That was real Coyote luck, a blonde girl
and a ginger cake. We talked.
She lived south of my camp some miles,
just past the bridge over the Rio de la Plata.
Her parents and her brothers raised goats.
That's where the money was she said,
and besides goats are pretty well-mannered
if you treat them right.
            I said, Well I don't know about that. We used to raise
goats too.
      Coyote doesn't like goats too much.
He thinks they're smartass and showoff.
Gets on his nerves he says.
Goats think pretty much the same of him,
saying,
    Better watch out for that cousin.
He gets too sly for his ownself
to be trusted. He'll try to sell you
a sack of flour that's got worms in it
that somebody probably has thrown out.
                    And
they’d get into a certain story
about one time at Encinal when he brought
a wheelbarrow that was missing only one wheel
to this auntie he liked and he had a story
for why the wheel was missing...
And so on.

Anyway, the girl was nice, her hair shining
in the firelight, gentle soft voice.
She told me her name but I forget now.
Said she was going to Boston for med school,
said she like raising goats but it was time
for her to go East.
        Actually, we just talked
about the goats and what I was doing
which was living at the foot of the La Plata
Mountains and writing.
            I think I could have
done something with that gimmicky-sounding
line, which was true besides, but I didn't.
It was just nice to have a blonde girl
to talk with. I had to tell Rex the dog
to cool it a couple of times. He and I
were alone that summer, and we were
eager to keep our cool.
When she was leaving I asked her to come
back again. She said she'd like to but
she was leaving for Denver the next day.
Okay then, I said and thanked her
for the ginger cake and the talk.
"Goodbye and goodluck." Yeah, "Goodbye."

There's this story that Coyote was telling
about the time he was sitting at his campfire
and a pretty blonde girl came driving along
in a pickup truck and she...And so on.

And you can tell afterall.








Just watching for the little things, sometimes makes a poem.



it is in the nature of all birds

i'm watching
a bird running around
the parking lot,
one bird, a jay,
running with a gang
of blackbirds, wondering
it he feels any discomfort
hanging with friends so unlike
himself

i've been watching birds lately,
and there seems to be a lot more
of that going around -

so will we soon
be seeing lions lying with lambs? i

think not,
for it is in the nature
of all birds

to eat bugs
squashed on parking lots
regardless

of race, creed, color
or tufted or untufed heads
which makes it an entirely different
thing
from lions and lambs

one of whom
by nature
eats the other

though i did see recently
a dog
nursing a litter of kittens

but even that is different
from lions and lambs,

dogs and cats being,
not lunch one for the other,
but merely ideological
enemies,
the cat life-view
being irreconcilable
with that of the dog

though they can
coexist
as mine do, as long as

they don't discuss
philosophy, politics
or religion...

i have friends
exactly
like that - we get along
very well

as long as we don't talk
about anything important

and only chase down
squashed bugs
together








Now here's a pastoral piece from feature poet, Laurel Lamperd.



Pastures

Green and lush
were the pastures
that spring
when it rained and rained
and the washing wouldn't dry
and the children squabbled
and fought in the house.

This year the country
is bare earth.
Wind erodes
sending dust storms
eddying drunkenly across paddocks.

The children want to
dance inside them.

The dust comes on a face today
the day the trucks took
the last of the sheep.


~~~~~


Here's a first for "Here and Now," a mother/daughter combination as featured poet and featured photographer. You've been reading Laurel Lamperd's poems; now here are seven photos from the Australian outback by her daughter, Dawn Lamperd.

I'm hoping that Dawn will someday send me a full compliment of 20 to 25 pictures so that I can turn a whole issue over to here.



"Inland Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd




"Breakaway, South Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd




"Devils Marbles, NT"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd




"Kings Canyon. NT"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd




"MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, NT"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd




"Chichester Range, Pilbara, Western Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd




"Karijini National Park, Western Australia"
Photo by Dawn Lamperd









Here are several poets from The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry, subtitled "From Ancient to Contemporary, The Full 3000-Year Tradition" The anthology was published by Anchor Books in 2005 and serves as a vivid reminder what newbies we in the West are when it comes to writing poems (and most everything else as well). Using my favorite word from "NCIS," we are indeed Probies at the art.

The book was edited by and most translations are by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping.



First, I have a couple of poems from the Tang Dynasty, beginning with this very short piece by Zhang Ji, a scholar-poet from Xianzhou who passed the imperial examinations in 753 and held a number of regional and central government posts. His forty-odd poems are not well known, except for this one, and he was not considered a leading poet of the period.

This short piece, though, is very nice.


Moored by the Maple Bridge at Night

The moon sets, ravens crow, and frost fills the sky.
River maples, fishermen’s lanterns. I face sorrow in my sleep.
The Hanshan Temple is outside Gusu city.
At midnight the bell rings - the sound rocks my traveler's boat.


The next poem is by Han Yu, born in 768 in the Henan province, to a literary family. His father died when he was a baby and he was raised in the family of his older brother, Han Hui. He taught himself to read and write and was a student of philosophical writings and Confucian thought.

He, with his brother's family, was banished to Southern China in 777 because of their association with a disgraced minister. His brother's death in 781 left the family in poverty. In 792, after four attempts, he passed the imperial exam, and, a few years later, he began service with several military governors. In 802, he obtained a post as instructor in the Imperial University, until, after several periods of exile, he became rector of the university. After serving in a number of other high government posts, he died in 824, at the age of fifty-six.

The poem also illustrates to me how classical Chinese poets could find deep and enduring meaning out of pains and pleasures of everyday life.


Losing My Teeth

Last year a tooth dropped,
this year another one,
then six or seven went fast
and the falling is not going to stop.
All the rest are loose
and it will end when they are all gone.
I remember when I lost the first
I felt ashamed of the gap.
When two or three followed,
I worried about death.
When one is about to come loose,
I am anxious and fearful
since forked teeth are awkward with food,
and in dread I tilt my face to rinse my mouth.
Eventually it will abandon me and drop
just like a landslide.
By now the falling out is old hat,
each tooth goes just like the others.
Fortunately I have about twenty left.
One by one they will go in order.
If one goes each year,
I have enough to last two decades.
Actually it does not make much difference
if they go together or separately.
People say when teeth fall out
you life is fading.
I say life has it own end;
long life, short life, we all die.
People speak of the gaps in my teeth,
and all gaze at me in shock.
I quote Zhuangzi's story -
a tree and a wild goose each has its advantages,
and though silence is better than slurring my words
and though I can't chew, at least soft food tastes great
and I can sing out this poem
to surprise my wife and kids.


As a reminder that the Chinese poetry tradition continues, here's a poem by Bei Dao, a contemporary poet born in 1949.

Bei Dao is the pen name of Zhao Zhenkai - a name he took to hide his identity while publishing in underground magazines. Though his poetry has long been associated with the Democracy Movement, earlier in his life he joined the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. After he became disillusioned by the excesses of the movement, he was sent to the countryside for reeducation where he worked as a construction worker from 1969 to 1980.

During the Cultural Revolution the Red Guards often raided the homes of intellectuals and suspect administrators, confiscating their books. He participated in the raids, but instead of destroying the books, he kept them and read them while in exile. It was through these books that he learned of Western literary traditions.

Very active in the Democracy Movement of the late 70s and 80s, he was out of China at a writer's conference at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre and has not returned to China since.

His work has been widely translated and anthologized and several collections of his poetry are available in English translation.

This poem was translated by Bonnie S. McDougall and Chen Maiping.


Requiem
   for the victims of June Fourth

Not the living but he dead
under the doomsdayk-purple sky
go in groups
Suffering guides forward suffering
at the end of hatred is hatred
the spring has run dry, the conflagration stretches unbroken
the road back even further away

Not gods but the children
amid the clashing of helmets
say their prayers
mothers breed light
darkness breeds mothers
the stone rolls, the clock runs backward
the eclipse of the sun has already taken place

Not your bodies but your souls
shall share a common birthday every year
you are all the same age
love has founded for the dead
an everlasting alliance
you embrace each other closely
in the massive register of deaths








This next poem by Laurel Lamperd has had a very active publishing history, appearing in Grass Roots Magazine, Preservation Times Magazine, and Promartian Magazine before this appearance in "Here and Now."



In Memoria

For eons
the land fought the elements.
The sea rose and the land waited
harnessing its strength
until the sea retreated.

The land gathered its forces
against the alien
and a truce was declared
with the spear and boomerang
and the flames which scorched
yet rejuvenated.
Weaponless against axe and machine
the elements triumphed
robbing the topsoil
and gouging great gutters
in its enemy's breast.

As a phalanx the enemy moved forward.
Behind lay stumps of forests
salt encrusted wastes
paddocks of sand
where few sheep grazed.

The land sighed
and gave up its life.








A good rant purges the system. However, I have to offer this warning.

If your are a right-wing fundamentalist whacko, this will probably offend you. Fair warning, more consideration than you usually give when you offend me with your whackadoodle political fantasies and aggressive and insulting assumption of moral superiority.

If you're not a right-wing fundamentalist whacko, pardon this interruption.



a rant of an educational nature

i was going to write about
the Texas Board of Education
which is in the process
of adopting standards for
history textbooks
for the next school year...

right-wing fundamentalist,
with a two to one
majority
over board members
of a more rational persuasion,
feel free to exercise their Stalinist
instinct
to rewrite history
until it turns out the way
they want

cause this is a Christian Nation,
you know,
and since these folks hear from God
on a regular basis regarding
what kids
ought to be learning, it's completely
fair and proper for them
be in charge of this kind of stuff

i mean,
who wants to start up a big argument
with God over American History
and the white man's destiny
to run things
until the Big White Guy in the Sky
decides to come back down
and take care of things
his own self

but if you happen to be one
of those concerned
that education of our children
really ought
to reflect the realities of things
you'll not be pleased to learn that
history is just the warm-up,

science
and math are next

so
if political and religious
advantage
can be found in it,
you can be sure
there will be close scrutiny
of such left-wing propaganda as
global warming
evolution
gravity
and the earth's
position
relative to the sun
and the rest of the universe...
and what in the world do we need
germ theory for
anyway
when
sacrificing a goat
to the glory of He Who Likes
His Cabrito Bar-B-Cued
on an open pit
will cure most any disease
know to us, believers and nonbelievers
alike
except for that Aids thing
that we don't want to cure anyway since
it's obviously God's punishment of all the
queers and lesbos and unborn children of drug addicts
for all the disgusting stuff they do

(tell me, johnny,
what did you learn in school today?

well, we learned
why the apple fell
from the tree
to land so precisely
on Isaac Newton’s head

and why is that, Johnny

cause little Isaac
was sleeping under the tree
rather than
reading his bible lesson,
that's why,
so God shook the tree to make
the apple fall
precisely
on Isaac's head to wake him
and remind him of the need for proper
religious study, ma'am.

And how do you know that
Johnny,
Cause that's what teacher said, and,
look,
it's right here in my state-
approved
science book!)

but that's not so bad

it's the whole business
of two plus two equals five,
as foretold in the first epistle
of Reverend Pat
on his TV show (have you sent your offering, yet),

that's going to cause a big problem
when we get to making change at the
five and dime

...i was going to write about
all that,
but decided not to
cause,
basically,
who cares since
the yahoos have mostly
already had their
way any-
way








I found a poet new to me last week, a San Antonio poet, Cluster R. Byers.

Byers describes the various roles in his life as "husband, father, grandfather, soldier, salesman, janitor, bowler, golfer, tailor, speaker, student, and teacher" and ascribes the world view he brings to his poetry as a product of all those roles. Currently, his role is as an English teacher at Northwest Vista College on the west side of San Antonio.

The poem is from his book, Revisions of Visions, published by Orchard Press in 2004. The Travis Park referred to in the is one of San Antonio's oldest park right in the center of downtown San Antonio about a block from the Riverwalk and, among other things, site of the city's annual jazz festival.



The King of Travis Park

Monarch of the minions traveling the trails of
flower-lined paths, he roams the realms of unreal-
ity, regal in his own way. Surrounded by a pollu-
tion of people, he reigns like a toothless lion over a
pried he has no longer. He concerns himself no
longer with a victim being mugged, a bike cop cruis-
ing cobblestone streets. Yet he attacks a scrap of
paper blowing from the grass, to the curb, to the
street like a serf scrambling for freedom. Clutch-
ing it in the fingers of his cut-out gloves, he raises
the scrap over his head like a priest holds the
chalice at Mass. He mumbles and plunges the
scrap into a public trashcan and smiles back over
his shoulder at no one. Bending over, he exposes
his royal blue underwear, the only hint of royalty
he allows passersby to see. The elastic holding them
up strains to conceal his moon as he strains to hold
on to a crap of reality. Yet he is the King of this
little acre, Travis Park, towered over by financial
firms, high-rise hotels, sky-high street lights. But
when the firms close their doors, and the guests
go to bed at night, he casts his shadow over all
beneath the lights as he scurries down the deserted
streets, trying to recapture a scrap of paper or the
last piece of reality slipping away just out of his reach.








I hate to give away my secrets, but, whattheheck, nobody reads this anyway.



the secret of my success

the
religioso-mosos
are back this morning,
at the table right next to me,
and i am soooo excited,
looking forward
to listening in on whatever
they're going to talk about,
which, right now,
is about needing soft food
this morning
because
they're having dental problems,
which i, currently
breaking in
a new, not-yet-properly-adjusted
bottom denture plate,
can fully appreciate
being on my fifth day of soft food
myself,
five pounds lighter,
but craving a cheeseburger
like never before in my life

i'm sure it'll get better
after they get some coffee in them,
but, right now, they talking about a fellow
moso-religioso
who broke his jaw and had to live
on pureed food for months

and
that’s about enough of that

~~~~~

while i wait for the R-M's to get
to the good stuff,
i just note in passing
that i stumble into lots of good
conversations,
and i say "stumble into" because
it's true - i have almost nothing
to do with it, other than having
the time and patience
to just sit and listen, kind of like
bird-watchers who do nothing to
bring the birds but, instead, just
go where birds might be and sit
and wait - which is what i do

having great faith in
serendipity,
which has been good good
good to me
all my life, not just in bird-
watching and conversation-
catching, but in almost every-
thing, time after time
stumbling into the right door
at the right time to discover
just what i'd been looking for
without ever previously having
any clue that i was looking for it,
and, flash! bang! there it was

like a career of over 30 years
discovered entirely by a right-place
right-time
accident
after an aimless,
mostly misspent youth
of ambition-less wandering

who'd have ever guessed
i’d be so good
at doing that


so that's the secret of my success

i've never planned anything,
counting instead
on serendipity's smile
to take me places i hadn't the sense
to imagine
ahead of time

and it usually works,
but not always, like the religioso-mosos
this morning,
engrossed now in a discussion
of college basketball
and not a word of the conversation
i had been looking forward to


The next poem is a follow-up to the one above, both chronologically, this one written the day after the one above, and in content, a continuation of the themes of the first. Well, kinda.


the day after

they had been gabbing on
about dentists and
college basketball and i had
given up on them
and packed up my computer
and was headed for the cashier
when i heard one of them say

love is a verb - paul
talked about love as some thing
that was good - jesus loved


and i thought, well, that's
a nice line, though
it would of been better last week
when i was writing a poem
about showing love
and i could of stuck it in
and everybody would of thought
that i made it up,
which wouldn't have been
the first time the line was stolen
since i don't think this particular
moso-religioso made it up either
since he doesn't seem the type
to travel much in the direction
of creative expression

anyway,
at this late point in time
it falls more into the category of
twice-chewed cabbage
and i almost never do that
except for frequent accidental
excess cabbage-chewing events

and that's
not my fault
cause i sometimes just forget
which of the cabbages
growing out of my brain
have been already chewed
and which have not

so while it is possible
i've said all this before
it's almost certain
i don't remember it,
just as i won't remember
saying it now

which is perfectly acceptable
since you won't remember it
either

deathless poetry
in my case
having an extremely short
life span

just as our false spring
has come and gone, living
shortly through several days
of tiny buds on trees all around
and back today to cold and wet

and that, too,
having now come will pass
just as everything comes and goes
from the teeny-tiniest microsecond
to eternity, which, though truly long,
will, in its time, also pass -
all that's required to see its passage
being sufficient patience
and a warm place to sit
as cold cold time rounds third
and slides into home and
the great umpire in the sky
calls the game
on account of, well, it's all over
and done
until whatever comes next

and the religioso-mosos
will be back here next Monday
and they may have some ideas
on that
but, as for me,
i know nothing
about it
at all








Here are my last pieces this week from featured poet, Laurel Lamperd.

Sometimes the wars come and go and in just a few years began to fade away. Laurel reminds us in the first poem of one war that is very close to that fading and reminds us in the new year of the decline of commitment in many of our lives.

The first poem previously appeared in Pixel Papers and the second in Micropress.



That Direful Spring

The screen shows night after night
the ethnic tensions of centuries past
erupting in Savajevo.

Old men threaten, cajole, make plans
take credit, give interviews
as food convoys struggle to the innocent
through sniper fire which wipes out children
while we fret and fume at the inhumanity.

Worshippers chant their prayers
light candles to their god
and beg for peace.

But remember Troy?
When instead of peace
the gods promoted war.


Towards 2010

Try the new way.
Live together.
No commitment.
If we part
split half and half.

He sat there
in his stovepipe jeans
and hand knitted sweater.
I asked
who had knitted the sweater.

Someone way back.

An old love?

You could say that.

I pictured the old love
weaving dreams
with needles and yarn.

The sweater had lasted
but she hadn't.








I was thinking this might be a good place for a short piece by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, except the only short pieces by Ferlinghetti are in that scattershot format that he used a lot and that is a real pain in the HTML butt to duplicate here, so I settled for this piece instead, from his book Wild Dreams of a New Beginning, published by New Directions in its ninth printing in 1988.

Also, the poem is about reading one of my favorite French poets, which appeals to me.



Reading Apollinaire by the Rogue River

Reading Apollinaire here
sitting crosslegged
on sleepingbag & poncho
in the shadow of a huge hill
before the sun clears it
Woke up early on the shore
and heard the river shushing
(like the sound a snake might make
sliding over riprap
if you magnified the sound)
My head still down upon the ground
one eye without perspective
sees the stream sliding by
through the sand
as in a desert landscape
Like a huge green watersnake
with white water markings
the river slithers by
and where the canyon turns
and the river drops from sight
seems like a snake about to disappear
down a deep hole
Indians made their myths
of this great watersnake
slid down from mountains far away
And I see the Rogue for real
as the Indians saw him
the Rogue all wild white water
a cold-blooded creature
drowning and dousing
the Rogue ruler of the land
transforming it at will
with a will of its own
a creature to be feared and respected
pillaging its way to the sea
with great gravity
still ruled by that gravity
which still rules all
so that we might almost say
Gravity is God
manifesting Himself
as Great God Sun
who will one day make Himself
into a black hole in space
whole will one day implode Himself
into Nothing
All of which the slithering Rogue
knows nothing of
in its headlong
blind rush to the sea
And though its head
is already being eaten
by that most cruel and churning
monster Ocean
the tail of the snake
knows it not
and continues turning & turning
toward its final hole
and toward that final black hole
into which all some day
will be sucked burning

As I sit reading a French poet
   whose most famous poem is about
      the river that runs through the city
         taking time & life & lovers with it
            And none returning
                     none returning








And finally, my last piece this week, investigation of a soon-to-be dusty artifact of our time, recognizable to anyone who spends any time around a teenage girl, especially if that teenage girl spends any time on Tweeter (which is about all of them, I think).



OMG!!!

OMG!!!

as they say in Twit
i mean
Tweet Land

my clock
forgot
to spring forward
and so did i

so the hour
and a half i had
to write this poem
is really only 30 minutes

OMG!!!

i can't do that

the poem i had in mind
for today
would take at least
and hour
and twenty minutes
and that's only if i limit use
of consonants
to only three every two words

OMG!!!

that'd never work -
words
would be incompre-
hensible
which would make
the poem
in-
comprehensible

maybe
i should cut back on vowels
instead

but that wouldn't work
either

OMG!!!

this is the 1st poem
of my 35th cycle of 30's
and it's go-
in-
g
to-b
in-
com-
pre-hen-
sible

OMG!!!

maybe if i used all the
consonants
and vowels but just cut back
on -'s -

OMG!!!

GOTTA GO

OMG!!!OMG!!!

OOOOOOOMG!








That's it, hope you enjoyed.

As usual, all the material presented in this blog remains the property of those who created it. My stuff is available if you want it, as long as you properly credit it.

I am allen itz, producer and owner of this blog, and it may not be Dostoyevsky, but it's what I do.

1 Comments:
at 9:09 AM Blogger michi said...

dawn lamperd's pics brought back a lot of memories - the australian outback and its beauty: thanks.

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