Dark Nights & Long Shadows   Friday, April 30, 2010


Most regular readers here know that "Here and Now" was nominated for "Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere" by Blogging Poet.Com. This is a thing they have done for the past several years.

We came in 5th in a field of 22. Though I'd been happy to do better, I'm not at all disappointed by 5th place, especially considering I didn't start to do anything to promote myself and "Here and Now" until a couple of days before the deadline for voting.

It was a fun experience and it was great to see "Here and Now" recognized by the nomination. All that's left to do at this time is to thank everyone who voted for us.

So, thanks, and on to other business

My featured poet this week is our friend from Australia, Jan Napier.

Jan travelled the length and breadth of Western Australia for 20 years, working in Side Show Alley (the Oz term for a Carnival Midway). Her experiences are summed up in her book All The Fun Of The Fair. Lately she has turned her attention to poetry.

Her book, published in 2005 by Oceans Publishing, is available at the National Library of Australia and for sale at Antipodean SF where you can also read some of her book reviews.

As to the photos, well, I did what I had to do.

Here's this week’s band of poet-drovers.

Henry Taylor

Marquita McManus
The Uncommon Banana

neckbones n sauerkraut

Lyn Lifshin
My Mother Wants Lamb Chops, Steaks, Lobster, Roast Beef

David McAleavey

Arizona brown-check stations and other foolishness

Jan Napier
Song of the Soil

Li Po
Teasing Tu Fu
Spur of the Moment
War South of the Great Wall
Sent to My Two Children in Sha-ch'iu
Thoughts in Night Quiet

Jan Napier
Silver Princess


David Rivard
It Could Be

pacifist scouts from the dominion of the bark and purr

Jan Napier
Harsh White Light

Luis J. Rodriguez
Jesus Saves
The Village

Jan Napier
Though a Window

vegetarian wolves

Luis Calbalquinto
The Big One

Virginia Cerenio
pick-up at chef rizal restaurant

Yuri Kageyama
Disco Chinatown

Jim Mitsui

there's no sadder sight than a river run dry

Jan Napier
Pilbara Summer

Wislawa Szymborska
Aging Opera Singer
In Praise of My Sister

i married the first woman i loved

I start this week with several poets from Hungry As We Are, an anthology of Washington area poets published in 1995 by the Washington Writers Publishing House in Washington D.C.

The book is divided into a number of topic-based sections. This week I strict myself to the section devoted to poems about food.

The first poem is by Henry Taylor, co-director of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at The American University. He has published a number of books, including The Flying Change, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1985.


                    If poetry did not exist, would you
                    have had the wit to invent it?
               - Howard Nemerov

He had studied in private years ago
the way to eat these things, and was prepared
when she set the clipped green globe before him.
He only wondered (as he always did
when he plucked from the base the first thick leaf,
dipped it into the sauce and caught her eye
as he deftly set the velvet curve against
the inside edges of his lower teeth
and drew the tender pulp toward his tongue
while she made some predictable remark
about the sensuality of this act
then sheared away the spines and ate the heart)
what mind, what hunger, first saw this as food.

Next, here's a poem by Marquita MacManus. A Washington D.C. resident, MacManus has published her poems in a number of journals, including Webster Review, America, The Christian Science Monitor, Visions, The Plains Poetry Journal, and Piedmont Literary Review.

The Uncommon Banana

than a sickle moon
it tops the cornucopia
of unbruised fruit,
in a nimbus of candlelight.

Not the smiling hostess
nor the serving man
in Sunday pants
will ever notice
that I've taken it

Next, here's a poem by jazz vocalist, poet, performance artist, and music educator Kwelismith. Her credits include a poetry collection, Slavesong: the art of singing and a recorded performance of her poems titled Browngirl in the ring. She has performed her work and taught in museums, art spaces, and schools in the D.C. area.

neckbones n sauerkraut

twenty-two nutmeg arms
reach for the pot
pass the pot

first daddy's
big bass hands
round the table
down to

one lone neckbone
a few strands of

pass the
hot sauce

suck the last bone
suck the milk from
the last bone
suck the last love bone
down like

Next, I have a poem by Lyn Lifshin, editor of four anthologies of women's writing and author of number of collections of her own work. She was also the subject of a documentary film, Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass.

My Mother Wants Lamb Chops, Steaks, Lobster, Roast Beef

something to get
her teeth in.
Forget the shakes
cancer patients
are supposed to
choose, forget
tapioca pudding,
vanilla ice
she wants what
is full of blood,
something to
chew, to get
the red color
out of, something
she can attack
fiercely. My
mother who never
was namby pamby,
never held her
tongue, never
didn't attack
or answer back,
worry about
angering or hurt-
ing anybody but
said what she
felt and couldn't
walk any tight
rope, refuses the
pale and delicate
for what's blood,
what, she can
chew, even spit
out if she
needs to

And last for this week from this book, I have this poem by David McAleavey, English teacher at George Washington University and author of several books of poetry and editor of several anthologies.


P-U it stinks in here cried the bottle of delicate cologne
as loudly as she could P-U P-U

the liverwurst turned over inside the sheets of his sandwich
& went back to sleep

a red-skinned apple tried to pretend he didn't know her language
& anyway he was nearly impermeable

the can of Coca-Cola might as well have been dead he was so
little help so close to catatonic

the priestly dental floss smiled benignly & rubbed his thin
hands together inside his cassock confident that in the end
the lady's plight wouldn’t be so bad

in their box the raisins belched & farted on each other
but so gently no one noticed

ignoring them all, completely at peace inside the lid, a
decal of Daisy Mae fishing, bamboo pole between her toes,
stalk of grass in her teeth, in the sunny Appalachian hills

& at work he recalls what
he's gotten his girlfriend for when they meet at noon.

It is probably early for this, but those Arizona tea party sippers have set me off on another rant.

Arizona brown-check stations and other foolishness

much as i was looking forward
to visiting Flagstaff
this year, it
Dee and i will be
bypassing Arizona
on our next trip west, both
guilty, as we are,
of the sin of brown,
she by ethnicity, me by
early years in the sun,
much of which had crossed
from the wild border regions
of Mexico

we could just
take our passports when
passing through Arizona,
i suppose,
but stopping
every fifty miles
to present them to Arizona
border guards
really slows down a day's
travel -

and, anyway,
it's not as if there
isn’t a whole United States
of America to visit - see your own home
before you see someone else's, that's what
i always say - so there's no need
to go visiting foreign countries,
even if they do have very nice Grand
Canyons and saguaro cacti
and other wonders
of the greater deserts of the
exotic Southwest

cause there is,
you know,
a whole lot desert out there
and not all of it in that land of the
white-eyes, which,
as a matter off fact,
borders a number of other
very fine places to be
whose palettes are more diversely

as to the other foolishness
in the title of this Saturday morning's
observation, there is just too much of it
going around, too much for this poet,
at least, who is hoping
to find something else to do on this
fine, fine

Here's my first poem this week by featured poet Jan Napier. The poem was originally published in Australia by The Mozzie

Song of the Soil

Red as wrath
dry as the sheep skull
cracked     souncrawled
set upon the strainer post
each cryptic particle and granule
encoded with genesis
within its Rubiks clicks helix
its iron heart a puzzle
only soluble in water
this minced mountain flesh
ground down     socured in a boil of eons
awaits only the rain seed
and savants with skills still unsung
to mantle the land in bright oats
or sun coloured Carnamah
when prayer and "please" don't answer.

Li Po, who was born in the year 701 and died in 762, wrote his poems nearly 1,300 years ago, in a far-away, far-different land, but the world he writes of is our world as much as it was, all those years ago, his.

His personal wealth allowed him to roam and ramble at will, and he did, with a great reputation as a drinker and singer and friend to all. The legend of his death, fitting, though untrue, was that he drowned in the Yangtze River, having fallen from his boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the reflection of the moon.

He and his life long friend, Tu Fu, were celebrated in their time now as the two greatest poets of Chinese literature.

Next, I have several of Li Po's poems, taken from The Selected Poems of Li Po, published in 1996 by New Directions Publishing. The poems were selected and translated by David Hinton.

Teasing Tu Fu

Here on the summit of Gan-k'o Mountain, it's Tu Fu
under a midday sun sporting his huge farmer's hat.

How is it you've gotten so thin since we parted?
Must be all those poems you've been suffering over.

At Sha-0ch'iu, Sent to Tu Fu

Now that I've come here, I wonder why.
This Sha-ch'iu life's lazy and carefree,

but in ancient trees near the city wall,
sounds of autumn still swell at evening.

Wine here never gets me drunk. And if
local songs rekindle a feeling, it's empty.

My thoughts of you are like the Wen river,
sent broad and deep on its journey south.

Spur of the Moment

Facing wine, I missed night coming on
and falling, blossoms filling my robes.

Drunk, I rise and wade the midstream moon,
birds soon gone, and people scarcer still.

War South of the Great Wall

War last year at the Sang-kan's headwaters,
war this year on the roads a Ts'ung river:

We've rinsed weapons clean in Tiao-chihsea-swells,
pastured horses in T'ien Mountain's snowbound grasses,

war in ten-thousand-mile campaigns
leaving our Three Armies old and broken,

but the Hsiung-nu have made slaughter their own
                    version of plowing.
It never changes: nothing since ancient times but
          bleached bones in fields of yellow sand.
A Ch'in emperor built the Great Wall to seal Mongols out,
and still, in the Han, we're setting beacon fires ablaze.

Beacon fires ablaze everlasting
no end to forced marches and war,

it's fight to the death in outland war,
wounded horses wailing, crying out toward heaven,

hawks and crows tearing at people,
lifting off to scatter dangling entrails in dying trees.

Tangled grasses lie matted with death,
but generals keep at it. And for what?

Isn't it clear that weapons are the tools of misery?
the great sages never waited until the need
                    for such things arose.

Sent to My Two Children in Sha-ch'iu

Here in Wu, mulberry leaves lush green,
silkworms have already slept three times.

My family's stayed behind in Sha-ch'iu,
no one to plant Kuel Mountain fields,

no one to do spring work, and here I am
wandering rivers, more and more dazed.

A south wind carries my heart back, its
flight coming to rest outside the upstairs

drinking-room, where a lone peach stands,
branches in leaf sweeping azure mist.

I planted it there before leaving them,
and now three years have slipped away:

it's already reached the upstairs windows,
but my travels haven't brought me back.

Our darling P'ing-yang picks blossoms
and leans against it, picks blossoms

and looks for a father she can't see,
her tears flowing the way springs flow.

And how fast he's grown - little Po-ch'in
standing shoulder-high to his big sister!

My two kids under that peach together -
who comforts them with loving hugs now?

The sense of things blank, grief burning
through me day after day, I measure out

silk and write these far-away thoughts
sent traveling the Wen-yang home.

Thoughts in Night Quiet

Seeing moonlight here at my bed,
and thinking it’s frost on the ground,

I look up, gaze at the mountain moon,
then back, dreaming of my old home.

Now, here's a second poet by Jan Napier, our featured poet this week.

This poem, like the first, was previously published in The Mozzie.

Silver Princess

Alive with lorikeets,


Gumnuts silver white.

A blaze of blossoms,
tips yellow dipped,
dangle from twigs
like contrary candelabra.

Sparse boughs
incline to humility.

Bole, dancer bony,
peeks through
maypole ribbons.

Tap roots thrust,
suck life from aquifers
in shallow suburbia.

Granite outcrop, itself bereft,
begrudges hospitality.

Gum stumps host no suckers.

A dry eyed soak sinks
into wrinkled rock skin,

as dingoes pant a dirge
for their lost royals.

Reading Li Po has set me to thinking of this poem, written forty years ago, one of the last poems I wrote before I set writing aside for nearly 30 years.

It was finally published in the The Green Tricycle in 1999, a reminder to poets like me that there is no poem that is not without prospects, even if it takes 30 years to find them.


the mid-summer lake
heaves and rustles
like some great animal
in the gathering dark

under pins of
white and yellow light
crickets chirp
the soft stone of night

smoke and the thick smells
of campfires rise

quiet falls with the sun

My next poem is by David Rivard, taken from his book Wise Poison, published by Graywolf Press and winner of the 1996 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets.

Rivard was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1953. His awards include, in addition to the James Laughlin Award, the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships from the Massachusetts Arts Foundation and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Celia B. Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America and a Pushcart Prize. He is Poetry Editor at the Harvard Review and teaches at Tufts University and the Vermont College M.F.A. in Writing Program.

He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

It Could Be

the same stale wind
I felt on Muscungus Bay,

the August breeze ruffling
a stuffed toy, the bobbing grubby Minnie Mouse
some lobstermen left behind, strung
by her neck
from a rust-abraded navigational buoy.
Her forehead, belly & shriveled arms
tattooed by crudely drawn swastikas.
with her stitching torn too,
so whenever exhaust blew from the idling
outboard into our eyes
the cotton batting looked as if it were foaming out.

That air.

only because I have forgotten
the struggle between anguish
and anguish, that air
is what jet-streams toward me today.
A wind that bitters any scorn of fear, it would wipe out
all our ways of warding off the danger.
Gust whose threat would smash our names
to syllables, the syllables
into letters, & letters
into kindling, splintered spruce.

Last night when a man jobbed by
in the falling snow
wearing spandex dyed that tint off ripened lemons,
with matching headband,
I saw him as a snowflake
might - his shape
that of an animal whittled
sloppily from a chunk of pine,
the whiter, sweetish pulp of the tree
where love feels it cuts deepest.
Painted a baffled yellow
with one or two black stripes, his legs were wobbly,
he hooves rushing over ground covered
by snow, slipping, the earth
a ball of muddy soil, hand-packed, frozen
hanging in blackness, held by a flimsy red thread,
a Band-Aid wrapper.

My animals may make a better person of me yet.

pacifist scouts from the dominion of the bark and purr

they're both old,
and have lived together
since their
puppy & kitty years

and they're both
the dog from the pound
and the cat
from over the back fence -

now, the cat
can't see
and the dog
can't hear

but, like two old
spinster sisters
they work it out

making Kitty Pride
the only cat
in the world with a

while Reba
has an alarm-cat
that can give her a nudge
when the dinner bell

a great picture
they give us
of domestic peace
and tranquil cooperation

an inspiring
for the United Nations
they are,
and for divorce lawyers,
small claims court adjudicators,
marriage counselors,
and all others
who seek to build consensus
among those for whom
is a fighting word

they may sometimes
growl and hiss
in their sleep, when awake
they are non-violent
of the bark and the purr
though creatures of the fur,
as teachers of the
scant-haired lesser breeds
they can also serve
with distinction

Here's featured poet Jan Napier back again with another poem, previously published in Australia in Tamba.

Harsh White Light

Out in this harsh white light
secrets sear     shrivel     scatter
like kangaroos before the rifle.
shadows sharp as scalpels
cut out the indefinite article
define edges     separate the infinite
from matter subject to laws corporeal
excise or expose imperfection
in a paranoia of normality
the way hot blood sucks into sand.
Radiation insists upon revelation.
Transition slices the instant
each detail etched in high relief
like the sirrush and rimi
incised upon Bablyon's Ishtar Gate.
there are no grey areas
out in this harsh white light.

Next, I have two poems by Luis J. Rodriguez from his book The Concrete River, published by Curbstone Press in 1991.

Born in El Paso in 1954, Rodriguez grew up in Watts and the East Los Angeles area. Most of his poems grow out of his experience working as a steelworker, carpenter, blast furnace operator, truck driver and chemical refinery mechanic. Recipient of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, among other honors, he has been the subject of controversy when included on reading lists in California, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas schools due to its frank depictions of gang life. Rodriguez has also founded or co-founded numerous organizations, including the Tia Chucha Press, which publishes the work of unknown writers, Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural, a San Fernando Valley cultural center, and the Chicago-based Youth Struggling for Survival, an organization for at-risk youth.

Jesus Saves

this dude Jesus Saves
must be popular or something:
You see his name everywhere.
I first saw it when I woke up
from a bunker Hill cardboard box
to a huge sign near the top
of the LA library.
It read: "Jesus Saves."

I wish I were that guy...
then I wouldn't be
this chocked-faced pirate on city
seas, this starved acrobat of the alcoves
loitering against splintered doors.
Then I wouldn't be this aberration
who once had a home, made of stone even,
and a woman to call wife.
In the old country worked since I was seven!
I knew the meaning
of the sun's behest
for pores to weep.
But now such toil is allowed
to rot like too many berries on a bush.

In the old country, I laughed the loudest,
made the most incisive remarks
and held at bay even the most
limpid of gatherings.

But here I am a grieving poet,
a scavenger of useless literature;
they mean nothing in this place...
my metaphoric manner,
the spectacle of my viscous verse
- nothing!
I am but a shadow on the sidewalk,
a spot of soot on a block wall;
a roll of dice tossed across
a collapsing hallway in a downtown
SRO hotel.

OK, Senor Saves, right now this is your time.
But someday a billboard
will proclaim my existence.
Someday people will sigh my name
as if it were confection on the lips.
As long as I have a rhythm in my breast,
there will come this fine day
when this orphan, pregnant with genius,
is discovered sprouting epiphanies like wings
on the doorstep of
mother civilization.

The Village

Aliso Village. East LA.
Brown/black villagers
wade in a sea of stucco green

imitating cool, as 14-year-old
girls, with babies by their feet,
sing oldies from darkened porches,
here, across from the LA River,

concrete border
of scrawled walls,
railroad tracks, and sweatshops,
here, where we remade revolution

in our images. Here,
where at 18 years old and dying,
I asked her to marry me.

I carry the village in tattoos
across my arms.

And now, another poem from Mozzie by featured poet Jan Napier

Through a Window

Beyond the pane
a gunfire sunset uzi's the ocean
pine tips pin the sky in place
a murder of crows
intrigues in the redgum
the fishing smack bucks
against its anchor
unlike me
so snug     so smug
my second marriage.

I used to think this was just crazy New York City stuff, but it seems to have become a national epidemic.

vegetarian wolves

i ought to write a serious poem
this morning,
after a week of trivial pursuits,

but the most serious thing
i can think of right now
is how i've been noticing more

and more people
into parking places,

soccer moms in 12 ton, 48 foot
long SUVs
holding up three blocks

of traffic
while they try to negotiate

into parking places
barely able to see over

the steering wheel,
trying again
& trying again & trying yet

until their ocean liner
of a vehicle

is parked
nose out, butt
to the curb, ready to

leap into action
like the batmobile from the

vroom, vroom,
and off
to bring justice to the usual



the first time i saw someone
park backwards who wasn't loading
hay into the back of a pickup was in 1995

when i hired a guy from New York City
and he parked that way and
i thought it must be some kind of

typically strange New York City thing,
this parking front-out
so as to facilitate a rapid escape

from a mugger
or a New York City panhandler,
or, maybe, if he was a bank-heist

specialist before
he came to work for me,
it was a trick of the heisting trade

a good way to escape
the clutches
of the law


i just don't understand it,
but that's not unusual
as i get older and all sorts

of crazy things happen
day after day
that make no sense to me

vegetarian wolves,
lion-fed lambs, and
well-built Chevrolets,

the list
long and daily

Here are four poets from the collection Breaking Silence, an Anthology of Contemporary Asia American Poets, published in 1998 by The Greenfield Review Press.

The first poet is Luis Cabalquinto, a native of Magarao, Camarines Sur, Philippines, born there in 1935. He earned the B.A. in Mass Communication at then U.P. Diliman Institute of Mass Communication. Later, after getting the degree, transferred to the UP College of Forestry in Los Banos, he worked there as an instructor and Chief of the Publication & Information Section. He received a Fulbright-Hays grant (in 1968) and went to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York for further studies in mass communication. Cabalquinto enrolled in fiction and poetry writing workshops conducted by A.R. Ammons, William Matthews, James McConkey, and others in the English Department. He had been sporadically writing poetry and fiction since high school but at Cornell his creative writing teachers convinced him that he should pursue imaginative writing more seriously.

Since then, his work has appeared in magazines and journal anthologies published in the Philippines, the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, and Europe. His published books include The Dog-eater and Other Poems, The Ibalon Collection, Dreamwanderer, Brigeable Shores, and Moon Over Magarao.

The Big One

I like to fish,
an old habit,
for a definition
the act itself:
in addition to
the useful air
and exercise.
The lake will do
my best mono:
the star-drag reel,
lures of the trade,
and rod. Or lines.
I go for the clipped lift,
the sudden suck,
caught in the teeth
of sky and water -
the trembling stop
of bait in a
sudden shift
of scale:
stuck by bass!
in the brain.

Virginia Cerenio, a 2nd generation Filipino-American who grew up in San Francisco, wrote the next poem. She received her education at San Francisco State University, earning a BA in English, a teaching credential, and an MA in Second Language Acquisition and Cross Cultural Education. Apparently, she has continued to write and teach and, according to the most recent entry I could find, currently lives in San Francisco, where she heads a company specializing in transportation services for elderly and disabled persons.

She may or may not also be the actress Virginia Cerenio who appeared in the movie Chan is missing. I hope so, such an interesting resume hers would then be.

pick-up at chef rizal restaurant

a young pinoy
like a dark alley
too quiet

                    w/ his brushed back hair
                    leathered jacket
                    ben davis pants
                    w/ his nikes on
stepping too quiet
                    he plays pinball
                    hands dancing to lights n bells
                    but his hips rest silently against the machine.
he orders chicken dobo over rice
his mouth lingers with pleasure
swallows food like a starving man
but his eyes do not say anything
only silently dart to each corner of the room
like a nervous billiard ball
before falling in the hole
running again to hide
in the corner pockets in back of his head
                    he wipes his sleeve against his mouth
                    sitting back with a puppet's jerk
                    watching the white man
                    with the slightly balding head
                    pay the pretty pinya behind the counter
                    "two plates chicken adobo and rice"
                    the young pinoy follows him out
                    shoulders hunched against questions
                    from the silent brown eyes watching him
                    silence only broken
by rizal weeping verses

The next poem is by Yuri Kageyama. She was born in Japan in 1953 and grew up in Tokyo, Maryland and Alabama. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University and holds a MA in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. A performance poet, she has worked with musicians, actors and a dancer in presenting her original works at museums, schools, cultural centers, and her own productions.

Disco Chinatown

street blood throbbing
punk maggots of the slums with fake ID's
smelling British sterling
cover the stink of sweat, car grease and dirt
and the blood from being cut up by a Jo
or is it W.C.?
slant eye to slant eye talking
smooth talking or trying,
"hey, baby -
looking nice tonight"
spilling sunrises
bourbons with cherries
giddy easy striding to make it to my table
in your own eyes, a ghetto knight
"wanna drink?"
in a flash and a flick, light my cigarette,
the dance floor is dead tonight
linoleum cracked
the filipino D.J. Berkeley Asian American Studies drop out is stoned
and even the lights look neon sleazy
you want me to move, a wax museum dancing doll, under your macho
or in your arms, rocking following your rocks,
layered black hair,
mustache, always, to tickle the quick kisses,
cheap shiny shirt, four buttons open,
a jade pendant swaying against yellow brown flesh,
you want to take me home
and the grip on my shoulder tightens,
you driving a Camaro Z28?
an Olds 442?
a broken down Malibu?
a Caddy Eldorado?
you want to be rich someday
you want to enjoy life, you say,
'cuz it's so so short,
ALL girls want you for their old man,
"in bed, I have a good body
opium makes me last
and last
I'm ten inches
and," a smile,
"this thick"
you play the mind games with a too ridiculous seriousness
not another escape out just for kicks
you street male pride can't take no scratches
you'll kick my ass when the number I give you isn't mine
you tell me not to dance with anyone else
when I just met you tonight
and isn't your old lady waiting at your apartment?
hardened hard up
Ricksha stray tiger cat
your life view quite
touch mine
and being gang banged isn't my type of thrill
and disco steps don't silence sirens
and the skyscraper lights don't touch Grant Avenue on a Friday night
Golden Dragon massacred meat can't ever be pieced back together
black lights and hanging ferns or Remy sweetness can't hide
          spilled out alley fish guts
that tell you and tell you
there just ain't no future
your hands grope
your eyes closed
your tongue dry
you penis limp
poor ChinaMAN-child

The last poem from the book is by Jim Mitsui, author of three books of poetry, Journal of the Sun, Crossing the Phantom River, and After the Long Train.


          for Ina San

When his son-in-law asked for lessons,
he nodded.
Slipped the bamboo
out of its silk case.
Played one note.
Played it until it hung
clear as the moon.
Handed over the instrument.
Said, "Practice this note.
Come back in a year
for the second."

People talk about the destructive power of a flood, usually not understanding the damage a five-year drought can do in an already dry climate, the often irreversible damage to the environment and to all living things.

Neither the devastation , nor the glory of the green days and nights when the drought is broken.

there's no sadder sight than a river run dry

there's no sadder
than a river run dry

sandy bottom
burned white under the sun -
a familiar sight
in dry South Texas

but this year
the rivers and creeks
flow full and fast

life just as full
for creatures
who live by the grace
of full-flowing waters -
snakes and birds and possums
and raccoons,
and bees swarming
to river flowers and yellow jackets
building their nests
of fresh creek mud,
all living
in the bounty of a warm winter and
wet, rejuvenating spring

last night i became
a river creature,
in a chair on the patio
above our creek

drifted into sleep
by crickets' sonic mating
and frogs, waking from
their long sleep - waking
and singing to the moon,
and to the fresh
bright stars,
to rivers running,
to pastures blooming,
to fair spring
its green pages,
getting ready
for what comes with

Now, my final poem for the week from Jan Napier, this one also previously in The Mozzie.

Thank you, Jan, for sharing your work.

Pilbara Summerr

Spinifex explosions     soblond     sobleached     sobrittle
rustle in unstocked paddocks.
Anthills squat in warty clusters.
Ghost gums starred by tableaux
of cockatoos support the stonewash sky.
Rivers cower quiet in aquifers.
Granite rocks crack    shot by a sniper's sun
Topsoil splits into puzzle pieces.
Brumby and warrigal share
prick eared perimeters
as soaks shrivel to a blaze of bitter salt.
Looking glass air reveals past and future
like a carnival clairvoyant.
The kitchen garden is a crisp necropolis.
A branch bongs hollow
on the water tank's wrinkles.
Red Cloud Kelpies pant
in the dark under the house.
Stockhorses snort and swish
within hot shade,
and the sear of verandah boards
soothes arthritic feet,
as the old man flays winter from his skin.

Here are two poems by Wlstawa Szymborska from her collection Poems, New and Collected 1957-1997, published by Harcourt in 1998.

Szymborska was born in Poland, where she still lives. She worked as a poetry editor, a columnist, and a translator. In 1996, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The poems in the book were translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

Aging Opera Singer

"Today he sings this way: tralala tra la.
But I sang it like this: tralala tra la.
Do you hear the difference?
And instead off standing here, he stands here
and looks this way, not this way,
although she comes flying in from over there,
not over there, and not like today rampa pampa pam,
but quit simply rampa pampa pam,
the unforgettable Tschubek-Bombonieri,
who remembers her now..."

In Praise of My Sister

My sister doesn't write poems,
and it's unlikely that she'll suddenly start writing poems.
She takes after her mother, who didn't write poems,
and also her father, who likewise didn't write poems.
I feel safe beneath my sister's roof:
my sister's husband would rather die than write poems.
And, even though this is starting to sound as repetitive as Peter
the truth is, none of my relatives write poems.

My sister's desk drawers don't hold old poems,
and her handbag doesn't hold new ones.
When my sister asks me over for lunch,
I know she doesn't wants to read me her poems.
Her soups are delicious without ulterior motives.
Her coffee doesn't spill on manuscripts.

There are many families in which nobody writes poems,
but once it starts up it's hard to quarantine.
Sometimes poetry cascades down through the generations,
creating fatal whirlpools where family love my founder.

My sister has tackled oral prose with some success,
but her entire written opus consists of postcards from vacations
whose text is only the same promise every year:
when she gets back, she'll have
so much
much to tell.

Now here's my last poem of the week.

i married the first woman i loved

i married
the first woman i loved

and have lived with her now
for more than 30 years

though times of storm
and times of peaceful sailing

and every one of those years
has changed us,

neither, now, are who we were
at love's first blush -

as all of life
is one long compromise with change

dealing with the conflicting forces,
centrifugal and centripetal

that make us one together,
that split us into tribes apart

like twin planets
circling a far sun pushing

and pulling
all at the same time -

abiding love,
that far sun with power to keep a balance

between forces
that carry all things

through the long slide
of time -

sustaining, constant love
that links us, wraps

around the lives
of all the people we were

and have been and will

Another week finished, and this one was a hard one, late all week and tired now and ready for bed.

As usual all the stuff I borrowed this week remains the property of the poets I borrowed it from. The stuff i created is available for borrowing, as long as you properly credit.

I'm allen itz and this is my blog, fifth-rate in the latest polls, but still pretty darn good.


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The Elementals   Friday, April 23, 2010


I feature this week British poet David Anthony.

David was born in Festiniog, North Wales, and soon afterwards his family moved to Hull. He was educated at Hull Grammar School and St. Catherine's College, Oxford, where he studied modern history.

He says his life "has been spent in the near aura of famous poets: Dafydd ap Gwilym, greatest of the Welsh bards; Philip Larkin, one-time librarian of Hull University; Andrew Marvell, a fellow-alumnus of Hull Grammar School, though not my contemporary."

"I live now," he says, "with my wife in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, a stone's throw from the churchyard where Thomas Gray is buried; still hoping that one day something of these poets will rub off on me."

David's first book, Words to Say, was published in the UK in 2002 and his second, Talking to Lord Newborough, in the USA in 2004. Only the second is still in print.

He says his working life has been spent in London, in financial services.

As for my photos this week, they are partially a response to necessity (nobody else has sent me any thing I can use) and partially an attempt at, shall I say it, "art". The idea, assuming I can convince anyone I had one, is that, by obscuring, the "thing" in the image, I can make it easier to appreciate the shape and line and curve and fold of the thing, getting it down to its essential form, interesting because of its form, not for what it is or does.

Also, of course, it's fun to play with the pictures.

The necessities of introduction done, here's what I have for you this week.

and the moral of the story is...

Charles Simic
Love Worker
Small Feast
Stray Dogs
At the Cookout

David Anthony
Summer's End

my work this week

John Engels
Death Trip

rain like a gloomy lover
sin before sunrise

David Anthony
Passing Through the Woods

Carl Sandburg
Ready to Kill
On the Way

David Anthony
Water Bearer

north-south issues

Edgar Lee Masters
Dr. Siegfried Iseman
States Attorney Fallas

David Anthony

Anonymous Hawaiian Poets
A Name Song, and Eulogy (for Naihe)
Forest Trees of the Sea

Piano at Evening


Jacinto Jesus Cardona
Mother Never Read to Me
The Count of Tristeza
Back in '57
La Costa, Texas
La Bomba Atomica

David Anthony
Remembered Wings

Robert Sargent
The View

Edward A. Dougherty
Only This

Derren Welter

Mark White
The God of Creation Confronts His Own Vulnerability

Wednesday ramble on issues of lesser consequence

Mark Nowak

let's go shoot a big fat capitalist

OK, I start the week with, I hope, a little humor.

I must add, if there are any children reading, don't try this at home.

and the moral of the story is...

i could write
a really good poem
this morning
if i could just get
out of my head the one
i wrote last night
just as i was slipping off
to sleep - the one
i can't remember now

i think
it was about the time
in college when
a couple of friends and i
drove up to San Antonio
to do
i don't know what, except
i know
we drank all the way throughout
what ever it was we were doing
and i was so drunk
by the time we got back
to our dormitory that i fell
into a trench that the city had dug
between our parking lot
and the dorm door,
so drunk
that i climbed out of the trench
on the parking lot side
instead of the dorm door side
and in trying to get to the dorm
fell into the trench again
and then, after climbing out again
on the wrong side again and falling in again
and finally getting out on the right side
and making it into the dorm
and falling asleep fully-clothed in the showers
and waking up at dawn wet and fully-clothed
and amazingly hung-over, thinking,
as i though often when waking up fully-clothed
or naked in unusual places with strange people
and truly amazing hangovers,
goddamn, what a good time that was

it was a sordid and mis-spent youth i led,
and maybe that was the point of the poem
i wrote last night while slipping off to sleep
that i don't remember now

maybe the point was that people shouldn't drink alcohol -
which i don't do anymore or maybe it was people
shouldn't drink alcohol when the city has been
digging trenches in their yard

maybe it just had something to do with water
green living in this day of environmental challenge,
you know,
that sort of thing

Here are several quirky little poems from a quirky little book by Charles Simic.

Simic, born in Belgrade, published his first book in 1967 and is considered now by many as one of the greatest contemporary American poets. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for The World Doesn't End and his 1996 collection, Walking the Black Cat, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry.

This book, Aunt Lettuce, I Want to Peek Under Your Skirt, was published in 2005 by Bloomsday Publishing. The book includes drawings by painter and illustrator, Howie Michels

Love Worker

Diligent solely in what concerns love;
In all else, dilatory, sleep-walking, sullen.
Some days you could not budge me
Even if you were to use a construction crane.
I work only at loving and being loved.
Tell me, people, ain't it right
To lie in bed past noon
Eating fried chicken and guzzling beer?

Consider the many evils thus avoided
While finding new places to kiss
   with greasy lips.
Easier for Schwarzkopf to take Kuwait
Than for us to draw the curtains.
The sky is blue. It must be summer already.
The blind street preacher is shouting down below.
Your breasts and hair are flying -
Like the clouds, the white clouds.

Small Feast

Naked at the table,
Face to face,
Eating grilled squid
With our hands.

She licks olive oil
and garlic
Off her long fingers.
One by one.

Eat some bread, I say.
She just laughs at that,
A hot pepper flake stuck
On the tip of her tongue.

Stray Dogs

The way we stripped and embraced in that field,
Three stray dogs came by
To see what our moaning was all about.
I saw their worried eyes
As I parted your legs with kisses.

And then your tongue went around mine,
And you pulled my hair till it hurt,
And there were broken blue flowers
Under your white ass and the mutts
Sniffing all around us in wonder.

Once started on these, it's hard to stop. But here's the last.

At the Cookout

The wives of my friends
Have the air
Of having shared a secret.
Their eyes are lowered
But when we ask them
What for
They only glance at each other
And smile,
Which only increases our desire
To know...

Something they did
Long ago,
Heedless of the consequences,
That left
Such a lingering sweetness?

Is that the explanation
For the way
They rest their chins
In the palms of their hands,
Their eyes closed
In the summer heat?

Come tell us,
Or give us a hint.
Trace a word or just a single letter
In the wine
Spilled on the table.

Here's my first poem from British friend and featured poet, David Anthony.

Summer's End

stealing from the sun,
lit the shaded path
briefly. Now they're gone.

Hurry through
faded meadows, while
light still holds.
Days grow shorter; how
quickly evening comes.

Stirred to rise
by a falling foot,
feathered seeds,
graceful on the breeze,
drift towards the dawn.

Here's another of the poem I wrote this week, this one, maybe, with a little more heft than the first one.

my work this week

this is my 3rd poem

the first was about
my dog

and the second
about that kiss-ass Lot

who did what he was told
when his God of Vengeance

told him his home towns
were going up in fire and brimstone,

leaving only his wife
with human heart and soul enough

to look back
to see and feel the human agony

of the fiery death of all her friends
and family and everything

she had ever known and valued

a pillar of salt -

that's what being human got you
from that God

who saw his human creations
as like disobedient livestock

fit only to be put down
should they ever demonstrate a will of their own -


i threw both those poems

so crabbed and cramped
i felt nothing of them

nothing for them -

a poem
should swing naked
through the trees, roaring,
as Whitman taught us -

timid little verses
in argyle socks and
paisley jackets,
quietly and fearfully
along the jungle floor

and without blood
there can be no passion
and without passion
no blood

and that has been,
despite all my strained
ambition, my work this week,
shriveled little cardboard boxes,
flypaper caskets
for dead ideas, mouth-

like the two i started today
and tossed away

a practice
i might better have started
earlier in the week

Several years ago when I visited the small town where I grew up, I drove past my parent's old house, a frame house, small, but with a large kitchen and dining room - preparing food and eating it was important in our house - on an acre lot, always green grass and trees and well-tended flowers. It was the pride of my parents until the day they both died.

The new owners had painted the house an awful baby-shit brown and the yard had been let go to dirt and weedy flower beds and it was like my parents had died all over again.

That bad memory brought back to mind by this next poem by John Engels from his book Sinking Creek.

Engels taught English literature for many years at St. Michael's College in Vermont, as well as St. Norbert College, Sweet Briar College, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Middlebury College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. published ten books of poetry, including Weather-Fear, for which he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He died in 2007.

This book was published by The Lyons Press in 1998.

Death Trip


for a long time the family kept it from em,
later said they'd thought I'd had it bad enough
the baby not yet even six months dead,
so that by the time they couldn't put it off

for one more day, finally called, and I'd
bullied the Credit Union to open up
at 9 P.M. and made the loan, and bought
the ticket, managed to get out

to the airport onto the last
flight to Chicago, then barely caught
the commuter to South Bend, she'd died,
it was over - or probably just

about Pittsburg it was over, me
forking up cold eggs from a chilly plate,
listening to the stewardess announce
she was sorry, no help for it, we

were a little behind, nevertheless
thought there was a better than good chance
we'd make up our lost time, said we had
a powerful tailwind, didn't see

how after all we could be too very late.


Back in south Bend after twenty years,
first thing got the cab to swing by
the old place,knew every corner, every
tree, saw one or two who

might have been neighbors once,
turned onto East Napoleon
Boulevard, and there it was -
or something like it anyway,

house numbers gone, porch pillars painted
some godawful blue, the willows, grown
from slips she'd brought
from Mt. Vernon back in '42

gone; lilacs, flame bush
gone; got out, stood there
by the cab, our meters
ticking, engines cycling -

some plastic drapes kept me from seeing in,
thank God, perhaps.


At the wake, my dear
old fluttery grandma who though it all
kept busy, anxious that everyone
be fed sufficiently and well,

quite suddenly, both hands full
of plates and napkins, stopped
dead to cry aloud into
the convivially feeding crowd, oh




At the funeral home the old man said
it was a good thing I'd missed her,
hadn't seen her like she was, she was
so bad, the pain

had changed her so. My sister said
she wouldn't have known me anyway,
my brother explained
several times in his most reasonable voice

how she wouldn't have wanted me
to see her that way, he
was sorry, though, took all
the blame, should have called me

sooner. Next day came
the wake. I urged myself
up there to stand beside her
in her coffin, though in the end

neither of us looked the other's way.

These are a couple of other little poems I did this week.

rain like a gloomy lover

like a
gloomy lover

hangs on
and hangs on
dour face

a veil of tears

hanging on
and hanging on

no fun for anyone
until the sun


sin before sunrise

bananas foster & granola
whipped-cream waffle

before sunrise

how fat
and wanton i become

in the face
of temptation

Here's another poem from David Anthony, our feature poet this week.

Passing Through the Woods

It's hard to see my way because
the leaves have fallen. Now
they're drifting where a path once was -
it's hard to see my way. Because
the light is brief I dare not pause;
I'll find the track somehow.
It's hard to see my way because
the leaves have fallen now.

Next, I have two poems by Carl Sandburg in full, Sandburgian roar.

Ready to Kill

Ten minutes now I have looking at this.
I have gone by here before and wondered about it.
This is a bronze memorial of a famous general
Riding horseback with a flag and a sword and a revolver
    on him.
I want to smash the whole thing into a pile of junk to be
    hauled away to the scrap yard.
I put it straight to you,
After the farmer, the miner, the shop man, the factory
    hand, the fireman and the teamster,
Have all been remembered with bronze memorials,
Shaping them on the job of getting all of us
Something to eat and something to wear,
When they stack a few silhouettes
        Against the sky
        Here in the park,
And show the real huskies that are doing the work of the
    world, and feeding people instead of butchering
Then maybe I will stand here
and look easy at this general of the army holding a flag
    in the air,
And riding like hell on horseback
Ready to kill anybody that gets in his way,
Ready to run the red blood and slush the bowels of men
    all over the sweet new grass of the prairie.

Sandburg was a true, ardent, radical populist, with a very strong affection for and faith in the "people," or as he described them in this poem, "the mob."

You hve to wonder what he would have thought of today's mob - the tea party people who despise everything he ever valued about the United States and, if they every met him, would call him a Marxist and worse.

What poems would Sandburg write today about those who deny the bounty history and the struggles better men made for them?

On the Way

Little one, you have been buzzing in the books,
Flittering in the newspapers and drinking beer with law-
And amid the educated men of the clubs you have been
    getting an earful of speech from trained tongues.
Take an earful from me, go with me on a hike
Along sand stretches on the great inland sea here
And while the eastern breeze blows onus and the restless
Of the lake waves on the breakwater breaks with an ever
Let us ask ourselves: What is truth? what do you or I
How much do the wisest of the world's men know about
    where the massed human procession is going?

You have heard the mob laughed at?
I ask you: Is not the mob rough as the mountain are
And all things human rise from the mob and relapse and
    rise again as rain to the sea?

Here's our third poem this week from feature poet David Anthony.

Water Bearer

Each dawn, before the sun devoured the shade
and seared the arid land, a potter strode
down to the well along a dusty road
to fill a well-used water jar he'd made.

As he returned one day a stranger said,
"Your jar is fractured. Anyone can see
you waste your time and labour fruitlessly.
The water spills along the track you tread."

The potter answered, "Though it leaks it still
retains enough for me, and I would not,
for all its flaws, discard my battered pot.
It has a further purpose to fulfill."

Where he had passed a radiant display
of flowers bobbed to greet the breaking day.

I was having my breakfast at my breakfast place this past Monday, waiting for the preacher-group that comes in on Monday, supposedly for learned discussion. Listening in on them has provided me with ideas for a number of poems and they, themselves, as the "religiosos-mosos-babosos" have become semi-permanent characters in my catalogue of recent poems.

This week, as in the past couple of weeks, they failed me, restricting their discussion to basketball and church politics.

So I had to come up with something on my own. This is the best I could do.

north-south issues

the morning
somewhere between
and gloom

dark clouds
while the sun shines
in the south

as is said
God is in the clouds
then he is a God of the North
where clouds abound this morning,
cloud upon cloud
piled high
toward heavenly shores

a god
rarely south, like today,
not in evidence
in the southern lands of brighter skies
and darker people

that, as people who live
in South Texas know,
God is seldom
in the land of cactus
and caliche

for occasionally passing through
in the form of a blue norther
or Caribbean hurricane,
leaving his children
praying in vain
for a kinder god than the one
they most often see

i am a child of that south,
to the higher power's meaner moods,
and to poverty and heat
and poisonous serpents and
venomous insects
that are his beneficent gifts
to his faithful abused

it's all just his way
to find those among us who are strong enough
for hell
so that he may bless them
with a more interesting everlasting
among the fires pots of his descended

Here's another golden oldie, Edgar Lee Masters, with two characters from his Spoon River Anthology.

Dr. Siegfried Iseman

I said when they handed me my diploma,
I said to myself I will be good
And wise and brave and helpful to others;
I said I will carry the Christian creed
Into the practice of medicine!
Somehow the world and the other doctors
Know what's in your heart as soon as you make
This high-souled resolution.
And the way of it is they starve you out.
And no one comes to you but the poor.
and you find too late that being a doctor
Is just a way of making a living.
And when you are poor and have to carry
The Christian creed and wife and children
All on your back, it is too much!
That's why I made the Elixir of Youth,
Which landed me in the jail at Peoria
Branded a swindler and a crook
By the upright Federal Judge.

State's Attorney Fallas

I, the scourge-wielder, balance-wrecker,
Smiter with whips and swords;
I, hater of the breakers of the law;
I, legalist, inexorable and bitter,
Driving the jury to hang the madman, Barry Holden,
Was made as one dead by light too bright for eyes,
And woke to face a Truth with bloody brow:
Steel forceps fumbled by a doctor's hand
Against my boy's head as he entered life
Made him an idiot.
I turned to books of science
To care for him.
That how the world of those whose minds are sick
Became my work in life, and all my world.
Poor ruined boy! You were, at least, the potter
And I and all my deeds of charity
The vessels of your hand.

Now, another poem from David Anthony, this week’s feature poet.


Why are you weeping May Tree, May Tree,
why are you weeping May?
Springtime's fresh and the sun is high,
there is no blue like the morning sky
and winter's far away.
The season's glad so why be sad?

Why are you weeping May?

Why are you weeping May Tree, May Tree,
why are you weeping May -
shedding tears of perfect white,
pure as sorrow and white as light,
in garlanded decay?

Is it care for seasons yet to be?
Let's look away and refuse to see:
the year's young and so are we
and winter's far away.
Thoughts so cold never trouble me,
so cease your weeping May.

Please cease your weeping, May.

'Illima Stern, one of my house mates on the Blueline "House of 30" forum is a native Hawaiian. She is very interested in her culture, including the Hula and its accompanying chants which she both performs and teaches. It was through her that I began to see that, though I've spread my net widely with "Here and Now," I’ve never done anything relating to either ancient or more recent Hawaiian poetry. At 'Illima's suggestion, I ordered two books from Amazon. The first of the books, Unwritten Literature of Hawaii - The Sacred Songs of the Hula arrived today.

The book was originally published in 1909 as a bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology. The chants and other material in the book was collected and translated by Nathaniel B. Emerson of the Smithsonian Institution who was born in 1839 in Waialua, Oahu and died at sea in 1915.

The book includes Dr. Emerson’s notes and material on the Hula, including this in his introduction.

"The hula stood for very much to the ancient Hawaiian; it was to him in place of our concert-hall and lecture-room, our opera and theater, and thus became his chief means of social enjoyment. Besides this, it kept the communal imagination in living touch with the nation's legendary past.

"The most telling record of a people's intimate life is the record which unconsciously makes in its songs. When we ask what great emotions stirred the heart of the old-time Hawaiian as he approached the great themes of life and death, of ambition and jealousy, of sexual passion, of romantic love, of conjugal love, and parental love, what is his attitude toward nature and the dread forces of earthquake and storm, and the mysteries of the spirit and the hereafter, we shall find our answer in the songs and prayers and recitations of the hula."

That is true not just of the ancient culture but of all ancient cultures who, most often, speak to us only through their poems and songs. It is why I often include ancient poetry in "Here and Now." Such ancient poetry is the best, most human record of our kind.

Here is a chant that Dr. Emerson imagines might have been used by young dancers making their debut before an audience.

A Name-Song, an Eulogy (for Naihe)

The huge roller, roller that surges from Kona,
Makes loin-cloth fit for a lord;
Far-reaching swell, my malo streams in the wind:
Shape the crescent malo to the loins -
The loin-cloth the sea, cloth for king's girding.
Stand, gird fast the loin-cloth!
Let the sun guide the board Halepo,
Till Halepo lifts on the swell.
It mounts the swell that rolls from Kahiki,
For Wakea's age onrolling.
The roller plumes and ruffles its crest.

Here comes the champion surf-man,
While wave-ridden wave beats the island,
A fringe of mountain-high waves.
Spume lashes the Hiki-au altar -
A surf this to ride at noontide.

The coral, horned coral, it sweeps far ashore.
The gaze at the surf of Ka-kuhi-hewa.
The surf-board snags, is shivered;
Maui splits with a crash,
Trembles, dissolves into slime.

Glossy the skin of the surf-man;
Undrenched the skin of the expert;
Wave-feathers fan the wave-rider.
You've seen the grand surf of Puna, of Hilo.

The second book 'Illima recommended came later the same day as the first. I have two songs from that book this week as well.

The book, The Echo of Our Song - Chants and Poems of the Hawaiians, published in 1973 by the University of Hawaii Press, is more modern than the first book as well less academic and more attuned to the beauty of the songs. The songs were translated by Mary. K. Pukui and Alfons L. Korn.

The book notes that the date of this first song is believed to be the early 1860s. Though the whaling industry was well on the wane in the 1850s, the old sailing ships with their towering masts continued to be seen in Honolulu harbor through the 1880s.

Forest Trees of the Sea

No, it is not too soon.

I have seen in my heart
that sea of forest trees
of tall-masted ships returning
to Honolulu's harbor of Mamala,
making every sea-murmur a word -
Mamala's murmur of unresting love.

Love's home is Diamond Head.
Love's shelter is where Pearl Harbor hills reach of
   to sea.
Love's gaze is keen and long.

Perhaps I should write a letter.
Perhaps I should show my love by asking his:
Come back, dear love, bring ease to me,
comfort of mind.

For you I sing my song
of forest trees on the unresting sea..

*Mamala - Old name for the channel entrance to Honolulu harbor.

*Diamond Head - The Hawaiian text gives the old name, Le'ahi.

*Pearl Harbor Hills - The Hawaiian text gives Pu'uloa, literally, "long hills", the old name for Pearl Harbor and the surrounding area.

The composer of the next song, a Hawaiian poet and chanter named Palea, was a native of Ka'u island of Hawaii born in 1852. He was already a young man when he went down to a village and heard a piano for the first time. After he arrived home, he immediately composed the chant, which became popular throughout the Ka'u region. In the poem, he also mentions another "first," the time he and his wife first saw a mirror.

Piano at Evening

O Piano I heard at evening,
where are you?

Your music haunts me far into the night
like the voice of landshells
trilling sweetly
near the break of day.

I remember when my dear and I
visited aboard the Nautilus
and saw our first looking glass.

I remember the upland of Ma'eli'eli
where the mists creeping in and out
threaded their way between the old
houses of thatch.

Again I chant my refrain
of long ago and a piano singing
far into the night.

*The old-style houses were clustered along the cindery slopes above Wai-o-hinu.

I slipped into a rare, for me, sentimental mood last week and wrote this.


family -
those who gather with you
on both sad
and wonderful occasions

family -
those who remember
when others cannot

who forgive
when others will not

who welcome
when others shut
their minds and doors

family -
those who defend
when others denounce

your bridge
over time
and troubled waters

a living part of you
from first to final days

your history, your present
and your future

family -
those who sing to you softly
when first you wake

and rock you slowly
until finally you sleep

Jacinto Jesus Cardona was born in Palacios, Texas, but grew up in Alice, "the Hub of South Texas." He teaches English at Palo Alto College and at the Trinity University Upward Bound Program, both in San Antonio. In addition publishing his poetry, he has read his work on National Public Radio and PBS Television.

He writes down-home poems about places and times where I grew up. I was particularly moved by the extensive notes on every page written by an earlier reader, a young woman who recognized her own life in the poems - the power of poetry revealed.

The following poems are from his book Pan Dulce, published by Chili Verde Press of San Antonio in 1998.

Mother Never Read To Me

Mother never read to me.
The first time she ever saw
the inside of a school
was when she took me by the hand.

She was more into the blue
indigo of Monday morning laundry.
With radio Jalepeno on her window sill,
she was more into the sizzle
of cominos and picadillo plates,
more into the grip
of an early morning broom,
sweeping dustballs
across linoleum floors.

She was more into standing
by her ironing board
under a single light,
pressing sleeves and cuffs
late into the night.

No, mother never read to me,
but in her eyes I could see
her dreams were puffs
of past cotton fields.

The Count of Tristeza

Under a canicula sun,
my skin is a scorch of scorpions
Ando triston.
El son del zenzontle no longer hums in my blood.
I am the Count of Tristeza
walking down my unpaved street
under Aztlan azul skies.
Caught between anil and caliche,
I am lost in the sweep of dry mezquite.

Back in ‘57

I was just another Latin American boy
deep into khaki pants, steam-iron pleats, gaudy cufflinks,
impressed by the passive parking meters on Main Street,
mesmerized by the chrome spokes of customized wheels.

and yes, I would laugh and laugh at how I took my black shellac,
celebrating the edges of my orange Stacy's, my dancing shoes
anxious to shake lose the alkaline kiss
of caliche down my unpaved streets.

Caught in the vortex of oil wells and taco shells,
Spanish was my first, English was my second,
but Star-Spangled Spanglish became my middle name.
So was I Tex or was I Mex,

part-time Aztec, or was I your classic borderline case?
biped and bilingual, I ever wore bifocals,
but my biceps remained monolingual.
Back in '57 I could care less and less

because I could always laugh
with Cantinflas at the Ranch Drive-In.

La Coste, Texas

    for Don Hurd

Deep in La Coste, Texas
two poets looking for lost love
close the bar with two Lone Stars
and cross the street
over to the lyrical ooze
of a Tex-Mex squeeze box,
witnessing la raza cosmica
wiping dust devil dust,
swaying hard labor hips
to classic conjunto hits,
polkas, boleros, y huapangos
of the VFW concrete floor
while the proverbial young girl
in the romantic red dress
marvels at the cumbia poetics
of the local crazy
who seldom speaks
but keeps on dancing
like waves of summer heat.

La Bomba Atomica

    La Villita, Alice, Texas 1952

La raza cosmica, believers in strong tonics,
spruce up their chinelas
and wait for Tony de la Rosa
to blow into town, to squeeze
from his teclas volcanicas
his famous polka "Atotolnico."
Waves of dancing raza believe
el bajo sexto electronico
will save us all from detonation,
blast waves, and fireballs.

Here's my last poem this week from feature poet, David Anthony.

Thanks for sharing your work, David.

Remembered Wings

Remembered Wings

Year after year their timing was the same.
As early summer took the place of spring
my swallows came, and briskly gathering
would breed, then raise their young, and so proclaim
hope's renaissance. They darted sharp as flame
between the earth and sky, remembering
old haunts despite long miles of wandering.
This year I waited but they never came.

Autumn's a time for leaving: cherished things
are embers, as remembered flames burn low,
and vanish with the chill the first frost brings;
a time to grieve, though now it isn't so:
never to greet those brave arriving wings
spares the pain of parting when they go.

Next I have several poems from the Spring 1997 issue of Poetry East, published twice a year by DePaul University.

The first poem is by Robert Sargent whose biography at the back of the book includes only the information that, at the time of publication, he lived in Washington D.C.

The View

If I, going about my business as usual,
upon making a simple request to a bankteller,
and getting a stupid response (he even argued),
showed no impatience,
and actually felt very little impatience,
and if I, that morning, taking my usual walk,
said to the nibbling, jumping squirrels, their tails an S,
"Run, nibble, mate, do what you must
to keep things going in Squirreldom!"
those two events, I feel, belong together.

the next poem is by Edward A. Dougherty, whose poems had previously appeared in several magazines, including Sojourners, Mississippi Valley Review, Abiko Quarterly, and Japan Environmental Monitor.

Only This

In the beginning there was no time
and nothing to measure it with
there was only this

Darkness closed in around itself
wonderful and perfect

In the darkness there was breathing
it moved through the dark
part darkness and part breath

In the breathing there were waters
over which the breath moved

In the waters there was no violence
as creation had not begun
there was motion but no matter

In the beginning there was radiation
moving in all directions at once

Derren Welter wrote the next short poem. He received an MA in English Literature from Syracuse University and, at the time of publication, lived in Minneapolis.


Where all the people
who bitched about and left here
moved to and live now

Now, my last poem from Poetry East this week, this poem by Mark White. At the time of publication, White had work pending in The Seattle Review and was planning to enter the MFA program at the University of Washington. This credit made me curious so I did a google search and found a Mark White described as "a multitalented performer, known as 'The Extreme Being' who has graced stages nationwide performing comedy, poetry and spoken word..." who may or may not be this Mark White.

I was relieved to discover he was not the Mark White, former governor of Texas, who lost his bid for reelection to the first Republican to become governor of the state since reconstruction. Not a bad governor, except for losing when it counted.

The God of Creation Confronts His Own Vulnerability

I'm an artist.
I find shape within shapelessness,
form from what others perceive as void.
Just consider what I've created from what was once nothing
but a celestial scramble of warring atoms.

Yet this world and these heavens
need so much more.
It's the kind of challenge that usually gives me life,

but I'm no poet.
I'm a god of action,
not of words,

and I'm not about to spend my eternity
finding names for all my creations.

No doubt, it's been fated
that I'll eventually have to shape a being from clay
to help me
but I've been cursed,

for whoever receives my gift of language
will harbor the illusion they can own what they name.

Imagine the consequences, then, of letting man name the rivers,
iguanas, woman, the moon, art, DNA, mountains, baby's breath,
   wolves, me.

I really am getting impatient with the group of several preachers who eat breakfast together every Monday morning and who I try to sit close enough to for inspiration generating eavesdropping.

Wednesday ramble on issues of lesser consequence

i've been disappointed
of late
with my weekly eavesdropping
on the religiosos babosos
who come for breakfast every Monday -

they still come, but they're always late
and talk mostly about basketball
and churchly politics, and with barely
concealed glee, the unholy mess
the Pope finds himself in with his
of pastoral
perverts a-preying

i like it best when they talk
about what i was brought up to call
the Old Testament, the days of myth
and glory
when God was the baddest bad-ass
on the block, liable to hurl down
plagues and fire and brimstone
and brothers killing brothers
and gunmen blowing down city walls
with mighty blasts on a sheep's horn
trumpet - bluesmen of God's
encompassing vengeance, you might say -
all this at the slightest
provocation - stories lacking only a Kraken
to face in the final battle scene to insure
great weekend grosses

I prefer the New Testament,
myself, less blood and more humanity,
which might make me a Christian
except for the niggling requirement
for faith -

the stories
seem more of a scale where i
might fit, choices more like choices
i might have to make,
less like a Tarantino movie, more PG
with a few intimations of sex, but nothing
you wouldn't take you grandmother to see

some of the stories are a puzzle -

like the prodigal son tale
which seems suspiciously Marxist
to me, rewarding the wastrel laggard
while the diligent and faithful are denied,
but, as Kennedy said -
who said life is fair - a fact taught to us often
in the Old Testament, but making only a rare
and fleeting appearance in the New

and besides
some of my best friends are Communistic,
by nature, if not by name,
stealing music off the internet, reading
newspapers at the news stand that they
haven't paid for, you know,

from those who work and create,
to me who wants,
right now...

but there i go again,
rambling on down the twisty road of
cogitation without a map of relevant
cognition -

i do hope the religiosos babosos
come back next week
and stay on point

i need some guidance
on these issues

The next piece is from Mark Nowak, from his book Revenants. I love the poems in this book, but they are hard to use here, first, because they are long, and second because there is an eccentricity to them that makes me unsure how to transcribe them. For example, Nowak separates parts of his poem by going to a new page. I can't do that here so, instead, I'm going to leave a very large break between those parts he put on different pages.

Nowak is an associate professor at the College of St. Catherine in Minneapolis. His book, published by Coffee House Press in 2000, seeks to explore the Polish American neighborhoods in and around Buffalo, New York.


The goddess of the black fire, behind the window my grandfather's eyes
are sensitive to noise. He whispers novenas to the b lack goddess, he wears
glasses in all the photographs and grimaces. Only to her he confides.

She is undying for him. He is sensitive to noise. Arms wait behind
the houses, a door closing or a barking dog. The goddess of the black fire
is more than a shadow in his thought. My grandfather looks out the window.

We did not move southeast of San Antonio. We did not move to rural Illinois.
The black goddess of the fire listens to his whispered novenas. He believes
that she is undying. In all the photographs my grandfather is grimacing.

He wears glasses because his eyes are sensitive to noise. A dog barking
might be arms right before the key enters the door. Even the refrigerator is
humming too long. The black goddess, the woman that he whispers to.

Crooked arms, crooked canes that she leans on.
Great Bear in the northwest sky.
                                 Curled back her birds,
leans on her back shawl their wings.

In the distance the elevator silo the tracks
maybe of a train. Little Dipper
     in the northern sky. An azure that opens
to her companions opens to her elbows, rowniez:

she is the stretches that time her, their rings.

Talk of witches if you will, eithers that make her
pagan or sane.
     Did I mention she walks with a cane?

Expect the fox at her ankles, the one who
haunts her, outwits a crow bearing cheese.
     At three-thirteenths moon
up from the river watch him creak in his bones:

he comes bearing burdock with Mars
off toward Bismarck, North Dakota.

Craned neck, craned like the water
-animal she's borrowing it from

dark, only, like the very under
-side of her wings.

Craned, crooked, craned:
how Baba Jaga first got named,

My throat the world caught like trees.

Hewn, the word is hewn, pronounced hewn.

Close your eyes you can hear the moon grow larger.

Shut the thunder off like a hose.

Krawcowa, if only against and together.

She wore that dress in the rain.

Not the river that he wanted her to become.

This wind-swept zboze, sown forth in expanse
     in a holy place.
Was to behold the evening (yellow-red & reaching...
     stretching out below the sky.

The Ukraine priest did bless, the Russian priest himself is rolled,
by women, "Without regard to the mud & holes he may encounter
      in his beneficent progress."
In the house your are (as wolf or dog or ox that the wind sets in there...
was built a second, more stable structure, that fears this other home.
      From here, the zboze
it did spring forth & swept the nation clear across,
     between the mouths of the two rivers.

On the day the seed breaks ground, go tell the married couples.
Go tell the old wives & the widows, It is into them that the expanse
     has lain the spell of the earth.

Ram and deer are cake figures
from the Ostroteka District.
          Who shares
the tilled soil shares
their beneficent aspect.

Ram cake, deer cake, song sung
through the throat.

Babka is a round cake because the
old woman's dress was round,
          wore it when she made
that raindeer cake.

Bells jangle the dress she wears
she sewed eggshells on her cape.
          (Each time the doll is
opened, another, inside, appears...

     1 quart scalded milk
     2 dry yeast, 6 eggs
     1/2 lb. butter, sugar, raisins,
          flour & salt

don't forget she was a mid-wife,
          Don't forget to add
one seed of rye.

Don't forget "to let it bake for a while."

In Ostroteka, some say that ram
          got drunk on sweet Hungarian wine.
               Some say
"Raindeer, keep yourself
out of those fields."

Or Babka just might bake you.

It being the week of Earth Day, here's my week of Earth Day poem. It's and old poem, written somewhere around 2003-2004, then published somewhere before I used it in my book Seven Beats a Second in 2005.

let's go shoot a big fat capitalist

the flack for the Safari Club
defends the sporting ways
of his wealthy employers

look, he begins,
with a nod that says
listen up!!!

you tree

there are
and thousands
of elephants in Africa
shooting a few
is no threat to the species

in fact, he adds

shooting elephants
is good for elephants

thins the herd

reduces overgrazing

culls the weak,
don't you know,
before they can transmit
their weakness
to a new generation

insures sufficient resources
for those that remain

we love these elephants,
you see

and only do what we must
for the good of the herd...

of course, i think,

all for the good of the herd

And that's the week.

As always all material borrowed for presentation here remains the property of its creators. My stuff is available, if anyone wants it, though the courtesy of proper credit is expected.

That leaves me, allen itz, as owner, producer, and great admirer of this blog, holding the bag.

at 2:13 AM Blogger Nadeem1414 said...

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