Introducing "Alphabet City" - The Latest by Alex Stolis   Thursday, May 27, 2010


“Fingertips on an Inca’s Back”
Vincent Martinez
V.5.4.




This week my featured poet is Alex Stolis, with his new poem, Alphabet City.

Alex is very generous with me, often sending me his new work, sometimes before he’s done anything else with it, telling me I can use what I want.

His new poem, Alphabet City is an amazing piece and I knew when I read it that I wanted it all, not just pieces of it. Because of its length, I began to think how I could present it, maybe in sections over two weeks or even three, then decided that for full effect it had to be read as a whole, all at once. So here it is, for the first time ever and all of a piece, available, as it should be, in one reading.

It is my opinion, as I told Alex, this is the best stuff of his I’ve read.

In addition to Alphabet City, i came across a couple off other long pieces this week that I wanted to use. The result, this week’s “Here and Now” is a longer read than usual.

This week I’m also featuring artist Vincent Martinez.

Vince was my collaborator on my book, Seven Beats a Second, providing the art that I used on every page. The art in this issue are some of the paintings I drew from for the book. These paintings and others by Vince from the book can be seen at my 7beats website, www.7beats.com, including prices if you’re of a mind to buy (though I suspect they’re already all sold).

Here are the poets I have this week, a smaller list than usual, but with longer poems. I hope you enjoy both the poetry and the art.


James Hoggard
Two Gulls, One Hawk

Me
this poem is not about waxpaper

William Meredith
Pastoral
Thoughts on One’s Head


Me
Reba has another Jedi moment

Michael Lassell
How to be a Hedonist

Me
at loose ends

Andrew Bird
Fake Palendromes

Alex Stolis
Alphabet City

Jane Hirshfield
Of Gravity & Angels

Me
chipping away

Lynn Crosbie
Starvation Diary

Me
don’t bury me on the lone prairieeee: a modest proposal

Joshua Clover
Union Pacific

Me
day break
summer in south texas
true romance
yippi ky yay
looking good
love in the summer
once in mississippi
the smell of sumer ended






“Cloud Exits”
Vincent Martinez




My first poem this week is from Two Gulls, One Hawk by James Hoggard. The book was published by Prickly Pear Press in 1983, It consists of two long poems, the first 30 pages and the second, the title poem for the book, 45 pages.

Hoggard, whose poetry has been praised for its intensity and fine sense of craft, has also won awards and acclaim for his fiction, literary translation, and personal essays. A former NEA fellow and past president of the Texas Institute of Letters,his work has been published throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada, India, England, the Czech Republic, and Cuba. He is the McMurtry Distinguished Professor of English at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Both poems in the book represent quintessential West Texas and the American Southwest sensibilities.

This is the eleventh and final section of the title poem, very long for “Here and Now,” but I don’t think you can read Hoggard deeply unless you read him as complete as possible.

Unfortunately one section of eleven is as complete as I can do here.



from Two Gulls, One Hawk

11

The sand of the sea shifts under your feet
A gull flies inland toward desert
Its mate waits for it there

     The fruit of the prickly pear’s turned red

The gulls fly together,
their feathers in the colors of clouds

     A hawk sweeps a circle above them

The gulls do not know it’s there
They fly together till twilight comes

     The hawk’s now in a leafless tree,
     but buds on twigs are beginning to form
     The frost in the weather of self is past

And without sound the sun
throws the low clouds into explosion:
red orange yellow violet -
opulence now and radiance too

        The fire the tree the gods

     The gulls come to rest on the sand

All night the flint-eyed hawk
keeps vigil above them

     To protect them or attack them?

Tonight no rattler will strike through their sleep
You and your kind will dream, if you dream,
of green valleys, troughs in the sea,
and the range of mountains liquidly rising above them
The hawk will need no dream
The hawk’s eyes cut through the night
as yours might do

     And in the morning when dew glistens flowers

When dew shines crowns-of-thorns and prickly pear,

     When mica and quartz catch the sun in sandstone

The hawk will not longer be in the tree
but flying away, in the distance now,
he’ll hold in his talons
the power of darkness he’s seized from the land

     And the gulls will leave to look for a lake,
     waves from a thousand mirages glowing below them

        Is phosphorous in the desert’s sea?

And have you heard the clicking yet?

     From grasshoppers or rattlesnakes?
     Or from the bones Ezekiel knew?

        Or the cracking of waves Amos heard
        when justice rolled like a torrent?

You have in your hand a long stick
You won’t need it for a weapon
or for walking today
You’ll throw it as far as you can
but it won’t leave your hand
You’ll throw it again as far as you can
but it won’t leave your hand

     The stick itself is my hand

And the thrust of your arm?

     The animate drive of lyrical form,
     my body extending communicantly

You understand now
the patterns driving will into
breath into will beyond self

     The stick is the weather
     I hold in my hands

Lightning and breezes, sunlight and shade,
the rage to sail clear through mountainous waves

     The sky’s turning red
     The blood of god slain
     spreads through the sky

But the tint comes from dust

     It always has

Where I ask is the miracle?

     There wasn’t one

        Jacklegged jokes chased it away

There was. A miracle did occur

     No, It didn’t
     unless you conjure back the moment
     you in your whimsy invented
     when tree became truth:

     The tubular stick in St. Teresa’s hand

        a concentration on
        a contraction in the groin
        when she squeezed it -
        I heard a fine moan

and love transformed the lust to prayer

     and prayer became erotic desire

The gasp of sunset leaving

     She leaned upon her broom

Be still now, still

     The moon will sweep the night away

The darkest part of night remains, be still

     In memory it stays
     though moon’s light shines:
     a frozen fire

        burning the self-clotted pall of clouds away

And the tree’s fingers reach

     For what?

The floor of the heavens

     hair and flesh of god-the-gods

And the arms of the other you complete yourself with

     But the wind -
     It’s rising again

The wind is your breath and her breath joined
and, freed, the breath returns then slides
between your bellies, up your thighs
and moisture sprays from ocean waves
rising and troughing

        in our undulant
        and shrimp-scented hair

     The gulls and the hawk -
     They’re flying now

Your arms will sail on past them

     My wife was with me there in the garden
     A throbbing in my loins,
     a fluttering through our flesh

As wind begins dying
love’s shudder retrieves it

     But where is the flame
     that colored the clouds?

In the throbbing you touch and redeem yourselves with:
the embracement that’s vaster than self,

     the joy transcending rage and spite,
     the gladness of pleasure
     and freedom from self

        Self’s the pissantedness of our time,
        a waste of flesh
        a muddlement of mind
        Spit into the wind
        and the wind spits back

But you were right
There was no miracle
not today, no miracles came

     But in her eyes a radiance shone

That was then
St. Teresa’s now alone

     She’s not, and besides
     she’s not the one I meant

In the form of a breeze god-
the-gods winnowed her hair
We all were there
She was our Other

     She’s not the one I meant

Yet she kept on sweeping around you
You had left the naked sun,
the scorcht place in your grove
You had left the breezeless dark
pressing heavily upon you

     We watched her,
     uncovered head bowed,
     blessing the floor

As night came sleep came with it

     And with sleep dreams

Of what?

     We were lying below her high window
     in the long moist grass

And a miracle, you think, occurred?

     The hawk disappeared
     The gulls were gone too
     A light came over the land
     As I opened my eyes I remembered -

Say it

     I can’t
     The taste of blood and salt is on my tongue

The mark of god slain

     Wine-redness at dawn

Then a shaft of a shadow came down
from the high thin window where no glass was
A breeze passed over you

     Its coolness covered us
     The grass beneath us
     became again green
     was no longer straw

A miracle did occur
There were others embraced by that shadow
They knew it though you were unmindful of them
For a moment a miracle did light upon you
and it touched them too

        But they’ll forget
        They always do

     Our arms around our backs,
     we pressed together
     Our arms for a moment curled
     all around the whirl-drunk world,
     and the heat of our touching
     is still fast upon us

Love does that, and wine,
the blessings of her
tending cloister for you

     We rose through distractions,
     past confusions of fatigue
     Redemption came

It comes from pushing your dust
into form

     Our sweat dripped upon it
     and the dirt took shape

It was her sweat as much as yours
and tears as much as sweat

They come from the trouble children bring,
from the shafts of the shadows
we imagine they cast between us -

        The distractions of their irreverent force

     Children lie within us all
     In darkness a memory of light
     shines wanly in our eyes

Why wanly?

     The world read St. Teresa’s story wrong,
     and we when we’re harried
     do the same with our own
     The grief of the inner, self-locked wind

The hawk near the gulls again

     The world lying moistly,
     its matting our bed

     And the dawn rose into noon
     that descended to dusk
     whose sunset gasped into night

But lightning brought the twilight heaving back

     Then darkness caved in upon us
     yet dawn, like a wedge, stirred again up through it

        The slow undulation of time
        moving around you
        and waving through your flesh
        You took up her broom

Blest by the burden you felt
your arms going light
such happens in memory more than flight

     And by it we measure the rhythms of time

That’s surely your mistake, not hers
She took her broom back, and sweeping
she accepted the visions when they came
She did not demand a new one each day
She said she preferred -



     Her preference is not mine
     She had no child and loved no mate
     Though Christ in her profound flesh

But you can’t reject her

     I’m not
     Her knowledge begins the past
     of what our lyrical miracle is
     A shining tone rings
     beyond the noise
     coming from the lungs
     but barely reaching tongue -

        Except in rage or praise,
        except in whimsies of speech

But what about the volcanic pit
you called the howling bowels of self?

     Battered, I measured words by it
     But when our arms curl now
     around the whirl-drunk world
     we are lying together
     beyond that world,
     we are standing together
     within that world
     and my son is seeing it with us

Two gulls, lone hawk
soaring through the vagrant light

        and a stillness shines beyond you
        over the earth and down into soil

deeply into the fragrant earth
and out through a radiance of distant stars

     Their huge spread of light
     touches this place where we are.





“Chicken Wings & Pretty Things”
Vincent Martinez




The nice thing about my life is, at least until I die, I can always start over.



this poem is not about waxpaper

every morning
i have my breakfast,
drink my coffee,
read my newspaper,

then open my laptop
and out pops the word
that will lead me to the day’s
poem -

this morning, the word is
“waxpaper”

recognizing
this is poetry
and not real life,
i close my laptop

order another pot
of coffee
and sit back
to start over, “slips”

is what i remember
we called it
when i was a kid playing
marbles

and the marble slipped
off your cocked finger
or your cocked finger slipped
and your marble went all

screwy

and poetry
being a lot more like marbles
than real life,
i’m calling “slips” on “waxpaper”

until i think of something better,
like maybe,
“real life” and how the game
of marbles

is good preparation
for young boys
not yet required to engage
in “real life”

except
for the “slips” part,
which might be good preparation
for young boys

destined
to engage in the game of “poetry”
at some point
in the the later portions of their life -

whether the game is "holes" or "circles,"
the whole game
is about getting ahead of your opponents

usually
by knocking their marbles
out of the way, a situation,
as in real life

where advantage
lies always
with the boy
with the biggest

marbles





“Lime Grape”
Vincent Martinez




I have two poems now by William Meredith from his book, Effort at Speech, published in 1997 by Triquarterly Books.

Born in New York City in 1919, Meredith’s first book of poetry, Love Letter from an Impossible Land, was written while he was in the US Navy during World War II. The book won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 1943. His many books since have won many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1988 and the National Book Award for Poetry for this book.

Meredith died in New London, Connecticut, near his home in Montville, where he lived with his partner of 36 years.



Pastoral

The girl lies down on the hill
In the grass in the sun in June.
Love calls for the breaking of will,
The young man knows that soon

His will to be free must break,
And his ego, dear as a wife;
His hand is a brown mistake
Lacing him into life

As blank as a flower, her face
Is full of the meadow’s musk
and the shadow of grass like lace
On the hill where she wills the dusk.


Thoughts on One’s Head

(In Plaster, with a Bronze Wash)

A person is very self conscious about is head
It makes one nervous just to know it is cast
In enduring materials, and that when the real one is dead
The cast one, if nobody drops it or melts it down, will last.

We pay more attention to the front end, where the face is
Than to the interesting and involute interior:
The Fissure of Rolando and such queer places
Are parks for the passions and fears and mild hysteria.

The things that go on there! Erotic movies are shown
to anyone not accompanied by an adult.
The marquee out front maintains a superior tone;
Documentaries on Sharks and The Japanese Tea Cult.

The fronts of some heads are extravagantly pretty.
These are females. Men sometimes blow their tops
About them, launch triremes, sack a whole city.
The female head is mounted on rococo props.

Judgement is in the head somewhere; it keeps sums
Of pleasure and pain and gives belated warning;
This is the first place everybody comes
With bills, complaints, writs, summons, in the morning.

This particular head, to my certain knowledge
Has been taught to read and write, to make love and money,
Operate cars and airplanes, teach in college,
And tell involved jokes, some few extremely funny.

It was further taught to know and to eschew
Error and sin. which it does erratically.
This is the place the soul calls home just now.
One dislikes it of course: it is the seat of Me.





“Myth Melt”
Vincent Martinez




Old Reba, she’s just full of surprises.



Reba has another Jedi moment

she does this sort
of thing
often

like
yesterday

comes to my bedroom
where i’m napping
and wakes me, and i ask her
what she wants, but she
just returns to her bed
and goes back to sleep

a minute later
my son
calls

stuck in traffic

where do i want
to meet him
for dinner?

somewhere
halfway
between where he’s stuck
and where i am

he was driving in
from Austin
and i had been waiting
for him to call
but fell asleep in my chair

Reba
wanted to make sure
i didn’t miss
the call, so she woke me
just before -

she’s the alarm clock
that sounds just before
the appointed hour

the smoke detector
that smells
the future of smoke -

she has these Jedi
moments
often,
so
we’re almost used
to them

almost





“Predictable Patterns”
Vincent Martinez




The next poem is by Michael Lassell, taken from the anthology, A Day for a Lay - A Century of Gay Poetry, published by Barricade Books in 1999. It’s a long poem - this seems to be the week for long poems - but clever and fun from first word to last.

Lassell, born in 1947, lives in New York City and is an editor and writer of poetry, stories, essays and travel articles.



How to be a Hedonist
     for Gavin Dillard

Know that it isn’t easy.
Give yourself permission
to fail. Most do. It is no
disgrace. Many begin by
finding a lover to
lose themselves in, a body that quivers as
bodies should and
deeper than you’ve ever
imagined. If you cannot live
for pleasure, live for love or
for the moment. Trace the curves of your
lover’s back with cool lips and
hot intentions. Failing that,
live whatever way you can.
Nobody is perfect. Nobody is
keeping track.

Little you have learned will aid you
“All good things must come to an end”
is not a hedonist credo. Neither is:
“A stitch in time saves nine.”
Neither is:
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Generally speaking, if
your mother learned a thing from
her mother, it will not
help you.
It is better to say:
“I’d give up everything for you.”
but it is not best
to believe it.

Reading is irrelevant.
What you need to know is not
in books. You must learn from
trial and error. If you must read books,
do not read anything written by an American
prior to Tropic of Cancer.
Do not read poetry by T.S. Eliot or by
Ezra Pound. Do not read
Dante or Goethe or
anything by a Scandinavian, a Lutheran, or
a computer programmer.
Do not read Greek tragedy unless
you think it’s funnier than
Roman comedy. read instead the moods
of your lover’s eyes. Try to
outguess them.

Do not think.
No matter what.
No matter how much you are moved or
tempted to do so. Unless you are one of the few -
one of the rare few - for whom ideas
are sensual, for whom
concepts slide like heavy cream
around the white porcelain bowl of your brain,
unless abstractions
tickle the inside of your thighs
like a ride downhill taken
as a child. If you must think,
invent new ways to make love
without accouterments.

If you must think, in spite of all advice
to the contrary, if you must think of
other things than love,
do not
express your thoughts. Thoughts given tongue
can kill. There is no
antidote for an aphrodisiac
more effective than a thought
spoken aloud.

If you must think your thoughts aloud
speak softly and
in metaphor.
Do not say:
“The trade embargo imposed against the
legitimate government of Nicaragua by the
right-wing faction of the Republican Party
causes me as much anxiety as the threat of
nuclear annihilation.”
Say rather:
“The flavor of your skin
gives me reason to live.”

No matter what happens, do not
despair. Five senses are not many,
but they are sufficient. One alone is
sufficient if
properly handled. Start
with one. Practice. Become
a gourmet. An aficionado. A
connoisseur. When you have
mastered one, try another. Try them
in concert.
It is not impossible to enjoy all five senses
at once, but it is impudent and
inadvisable. Indulging more than three senses
at any one time is
superfluous. Any fool can see that,
even and old fool with
new tricks.

Do not live in a cold place.
Do not live under martial law
or inhabit any nation ruled by
a zealot.
Do not live in a country at war with
itself or in any territory occupied by
the Soviet Union, and do not dwell in
Israel, Jordan, or Lebanon - even if your are
a journalist (and it is not wise to be
a journalist: fact is anathema to hedonism).
There are lamentably few places left
to live. Do not live
in most of the United States. Do not live
near a factory or a retirement
village. Try to live in a Catholic country,
but do not live in the vicinity
of a church, unless it is very old and beautiful
and named for a saint with a past.

Live on a tree-lined street in a city with
parks, views, broad boulevards, and
excellent native cuisine.
Live there a long time in love until you take
everything for granted.
Then move, leaving your lover behind because
his skin is beginning to taste
salty.

Take up an occupation that requires little
regimen. Move to a small apartment
by yourself. Drink large quantities of
alcoholic beverages. Lose control. Speak to
strangers in strange bars. Follow them home
by taxi or on foot whether or not you’re
invited. Taste their skin.
Lie to them.
Lie to yourself. Dream.
forget your dreams. Live
for the moment. Think that
the scent of the spring air reminds you of
someone you left behind.

Turn suddenly without warning, in public at a
voice like his voice. Eat. Drink. Be merry,
for tomorrow you die, and the next day too.
Receive a telegram.
Follow its directions to a graveyard.
Do not ask questions. Ever.
Read the inscription on the headstone.
Say the name aloud without
moving your lips. Listen to
the granite. touch it with
your tongue. smell the dead
flowers. Say:
“The taste of your skin
gives me reason to live.”
See if you mean it.
Leave in tears.
Develop an irrational appetite for
salt.
Have neurotic dreams. Remember your
dreams.





“Machupichu”
Vincent Martinez




The longest days in the world are those when you have to wait for someone who hasn’t told you exactly when they’re coming.



at loose ends

the morning
is damp and warm

gulf
winds blowing

against the Balcones
Escarpment

that is our border
with the hill country,

beginning its rise
mid-city,

seen from here on the first slopes
as a green valley

high-rise offices and hotels jutting
from the forest

and, somewhere,
under the trees

the spanish governor’s
palace

and six blocks from there
the Alamo,

all this to set the scene
of a city between

two geologies
and two environments -

to the south
low oak-covered hills

rolling softly
to the flat coastal plains,

treeless but for mesquite,
imported in the dung

of longhorns brought
by Captain King from Mexico

- along with the vaqueros
who over generations became, Kineros,

bred, born, raised, educated, employed
married and buried

within the vast coastal expanse
of the ranch -

in the summer gulf winds
sweep across these plains

and rolling hills
to bring us warm, humid mornings

and hot, wet days and nights
before they bump against

the rougher hills north of the city
and stall on top of us

dead, hot, smothering
days under a fierce western sun...

and in the winter,
gulf winds blown back

by strong, frigid air
pushed across the Rockies

from Canada
and further north,

sweeping down from the hills
laying on the city

weeks of blue crystal skies,
cool days and cold nights -

relief
from the rugged rock-covered hills

for those of us who hate the heat

~~~

why,
the reader might ask,

all this meteorological,
geological and historical instruction

at a time
when poetry is the order of the day

because,
the poet responds,

i am bored, at loose ends, waiting,
possibly all day

for the city inspectors
to come

and approve the work
on my new central air system -

feeling like one of those lonely and bored old people
who sit at home all day

fixated on the weather
or, like an old aunt of mine

sitting in her easy chair
listening all day to a police scanner,

probably knowing more
in the end

about crime in the city
than the police chief

~~~

9:19 a.m.
maybe hours to go before i can escape...

i guess i’ll go
switch on the Weather Channel

too late
to buy a police scanner





“Breath Felt”
Vincent Martinez




Next, I have something a little different, song lyrics by Andrew Bird for one of the songs on his latest CD release, The Mysterious Production of Eggs.(I've been corrected - it's not his latest album, but three albums back - still good)



Bird, born in 1973, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He was born in Chicago and currently spends his time between there and a farm near the town of Elizabeth in northwest Illinois. He has mastered several instruments and is musically proficient on others, including violin, guitar, mandolin, whistling, and glockenspiel, which allows him to record his music mostly on his own.

His lyrics, which I like very much, just skip along, taking the listener along for the ride, until all of a sudden he finds himself in a place he never intended to be, such as, in these lyrics, finding himself self listening to a song about some kind of might-be serial killer.


Fake Palendromes

my dewy-eyed disney bride, what has tried
swapping your blood with formaldehyde?
monsters?
whiskey-plied voices cried fratricide!
jesus don't you know that you could've died
(you should've died)
with the monsters that talk, monsters that walk the earth
and she's got red lipstick and a bright pair of shoes
and she's got knee high socks, what to cover a bruise
she's got an old death kit she's been meaning to use
she's got blood in her eyes, in her eyes for you
she's got blood in her eyes for you
certain fads, stripes and plaids, singles ads
they run you hot and cold like a rheostat, i mean a thermostat
so you bite on a towel
hope it won't hurt too bad
my dewy-eyed disney bride, what has tried
swapping your blood with formaldehyde?
what monsters that talk, monsters that walk the earth
and she says i like long walks and sci-fi movies
if you're six foot tall and east coast bred
some lonely night we can get together
and i'm gonna tie your wrists with leather
and drill a tiny hole into your head







“Words Like Birds”
Vincent Martinez




As promised, here is Alphabet City, a new poem by Alex Stolis, beginning, as you might have guessed, with “Aa.”




Alphabet City

        For J


Allure

without your voice, the moon
is a pale version of the truth


Avenue

let me draw a map of your body
trace every curve and circle every scar


Arithmetic

let’s break the day
in two and watch our shadows
drape the horizon


Aubade

when the sun is too tired to sink
you can sing her to sleep


Bb

She’s shambolic; a calculated wreck, all legs and long hair
waiting for the bottom to drop out and the top to level off.
Remember what we used to say- the last one to learn
is the first one to lose.


Caress

one touch and the dreams
we had are forgotten


Cache

clouds steal the sun, we’re left
with small change and no way out


Coy

you are a bird with a broken wing
who sings outside my window


Confluence

our words are swept into the river
past remorse and beyond grief


Dd

It’s the end of the line. Light is muffled and not a goddamn
cop in sight when you really need one. But we are not afraid
of trouble. We are rolling thunder. We are the chosen
ones baptized in the wet dew of morning.


onetwothree- sinning is for sinners
get ready to pull the trigger and walk away
before the body hits the ground- fourfivesix


Ebbed

One day the earth will slow, I’ll lay
a row of sticks on the ground; one
for each day you’ve been gone


Effortless

In the time it takes for a match to burn
my fingertips, a bird arcs over the sun


Élan

All the lovely girls are lined up in stereo,
the pavement shimmers and even with our backs
to the wall we can see where we’ve been


Equilibrium

One mistake and one promise adds up to every star
in a slate gray sky; you cross your fingers
behind your back as you kiss me good-bye


Ff

The all night girls dress up for the all night boys
and the all night boys they got it bad.

she is free speech and ready to fight anyone
who will listen. there is closing time, after party
burnout time, love, hate and muscle, over played
hands and underhanded plays. she takes a slow
sip of her drink, meditates on a tear in her stocking;
he feels the cool burn of metal against his forehead.


Gorgeous

Our voices do not change
fast enough for the wind; I love
the taste of your hair when it rains


Grapple

Two doors down the music is just loud enough
to feel. I wake up alone, the shadow of your face
fades from the pillow


Genuine

You are the wind, the rain that falls
into my open door


Green

The tree holds its breath for spring; we begin
and begin again, never forgetting how we end.


Hh

It’s a Holy Roller show and he’s the Jesus of cool
- mirrored shades, black buckle boots and a thick
roll of scratch. She’s always had the right of way,
believes talk is cheap when you pay in advance
for all the answers. Togetherness is the last refuge
of the lonesome but this night is already in ruins
and no amount of dying will bring it back to life.


Innocence

between the slow ticks
of an engine cooling
a kiss is stolen


Illuminate

when light hits your hair,
it breaks into silence


Intangible

the familiar taste of clouds
to a hungry sky


Iridescent

when the stars are ready to fall
we catch each other
in the smallest lies


Jj

Wasp Nest

She’s an outright unbeliever straining to break the pull of gravity,
likes to live dangerously close to the fire. She’s kept up by visions.
Ashes. Grey bones. Brittle winds, broken trees. One day she’ll bust
out and make her way across the desert, no good riddance, no good
byes, no looking back.


Koan

a swirl of dust, a calliope of sound, everything
becomes clear in a storm


Kiss

your hand brushes mine, ragged
clouds leave us empty


Kinetic

one, two, three
breaths
and we are
over


Knockdown

fear is a caged bird


Ll

Temporary like Achilles

She was a kaleidoscope. She loved the song Amazing Grace.
We sang it together on the afternoon we thought it was too late,
too late to go back, too late to turn around. The room is empty.
I can hear her walk, can hear the ice crackle on the window.
She told me I could be her temporary lover, her very last one
and only. Told her she could be my ghost.


Murmur

the sound of summer
as it tilts
and brushes against your skin


Memory

a rusted Chevy, two warm beers
forgotten in the shade; sunburned
shoulder against my face


Momentum

I watch your hips sway
as you walk to your car, one more
dream to remember when I sleep


Magical

the wind changes color as clouds disappear
into a familiar voice, shy and insistent


Nn

She tells everyone a different story about the scar: it was a fall
when she was five years old, she let go of father’s hand, walked
into an accident, realized too late; it happened at birth, a gift
from god, an unpaid bill, a reminder of how things twist away
from the center. Small crimes of the flesh are better committed
together and in silence; she paints a landscape created by two
bodies as they sleep, careful to brush over the indifference
that breaks with morning.


Opportunity

with every breath inhaled
another chance is swallowed
by the past


Ocher

a neon light stutters, a cherry sparks on the side
walk. he reaches for her hand, wishes for dry
earth, a blank sun and green grass


Overwrought

he can’t remember the sound
of her voice, the streetlamp stands guard;
a scarecrow, straw-brained and helpless


Osmosis

a paper airplane floats from the fourth floor
and hits the curb as she flags a cab; another lost
suicide note


Pp

sangre de stephanie

valium, vicoden, benzedrine, whiskey glass,
judgment land. hips square, backed up against
reasonable doubt. she’s a victim, she’s a martyr,

                                             told her i was blind.
took me along for the ride anyway. white cross,
percoset, vodka. she tells me the best crucifixions
take place after midnight.


Quicken

He tells her each scar comes with a story:
its own beginning, a ragged middle
but you get to make up the ending


Quotidian

memory, recollection,
a dress, remembrance, reminiscence,
memorize, perfume, memento, memorial,
rain, reminder, souvenir, token


Quorum

we are all things moved by color
bound by ashes and dust, left
stranded together all alone


Quash

original sin is a secret best kept
from the sun and earth


Rr

She wants to burn one or two bridges but doesn’t want to take
the blame. Tells me about unused stars scattered over
a ploughed field, God’s own orphans, she says. Back then
her name was Sunny. She liked the night, T’s and Blues and men
who talked in their sleep. Insists she doesn’t two-time anymore,
believes making love is another form of adoption. I swear,
next time I won’t be the one to re-create her misery.


Shamble

she has become a shadow, a shell
upturned on the beach, waiting
for a wave to set her free


Serpentine

once, when i was young, the streets were full
of absolution and my fist could split
the future wide open


Sorcery

there is no magic in dying


Shallow

i watch her undress in the light
cast from the street, she smiles
when I put out my cigarette


Tt

The sunset is not pretty. In another lifetime I would have argued
but she looks so radiant, I can forgive the way she manipulated
the past to her favor. The sky is a color that defies sadness.
She puts away the cigarettes, tears up the picture, traces my scar
with the tip of her finger. She’s right. The sunset is ugly, dawn
tastes like burnt rubber and the ocean will never repay its debt.
She tells me all my plans will go up in a pillar of memories.
Those pale women will never believe your story. She wraps
her leg around mine and I know the future rides in the color
of her hair, the tiny crack in her lower lip holds my fortune.


Undertow

a bee flits from flower to flower, i walk back
to my car, wonder what happened to the gun


Unrequited

I see her silhouette through frosted glass,
legs crossed high ready to start a revolution


Ubiquitous

he knows where he can find her
but doesn’t always know the way there


Umber

she knows the gravity of innocence,
the impermanence of flesh and bone


Vv

She slips from her strapless
dress, the tangled mess of hair
is smoke from a filter-less cigarette.

Mistakes are not made, they are crafted origami
swans; small white wings, a blank stare from blind eyes.


Wanderlust

Wish you were here. Wish I was too. Windows rolled all the way down
Johnny Cash on the radio, open road and clean skies, endless possibilities,
endless


Wistful

whatthefuck just happened: two seconds ago
nothing-
now the door’s busted down and you’re
gone


Walkabout

she carries a leaf in her pocket, the one
he gave her; said its shape reminded her
of two hearts


Wounded

Yeah. Right.
There.


Xx

The last two dreams she had drifts in & out
of focus: a red wagon overturned in the yard
one wheel laughing at an oak; a bullet glints
seductively on linoleum. Moonlight cuts
a halo over her. Two strikes on a match
and I can see the outline of her lips.


Yellowness

a pale gold circle is left
where her doubt
used to be


Yang

when it’s the end of the line
you can’t go wrong
with sayin’ you ain’t seen nuthin’


Yield

let my words be your skin

Yes

but not at all


Zz

For a little while we’re in another
world. Not afraid of the dark, unfazed
by what lurks at the bottom of the well.
A handful of dirt. Two more drinks.
There are words
and there is flight and she believes
she can make the world start turning
in the other direction until the wheels
come flying off one by one. One more
chance, baby, that’s all she needs. One.
Her hair is painted a pale shade of blue,
her eyes a cried out red.
She loves me.
She cured me.
She’s a haiku that courses through my veins.





“Chente’s Hente”
Vincent Martinez




Now I have the title poem by Jane Hirshfield, from her book Of Gravity & Angels, published in 1988 by Wesleyan University Press.

Hirshfield was born in New York City and received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University in the school's first graduating class to include women. She later studied at the San Francisco Zen Center, including three years of monastic practice at Tassaiara Zen Mountain Center.
Hirshfield has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and translator. She has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and as the Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. She has also taught at many writers conferences and served as both core and associate faculty in the Bennington Master of Fine Arts Writing Seminars.
Of Gravity & Angels was her second book. She has published many more since.



Of Gravity & Angels

And suddenly, again,
I want the long road of your thigh
under my hand, your well-traveled thigh,
you salt-slicked & and come-slicked thigh,
and I want the taste of you, slaking,
under my tongue (that place of riding desire,
my tongue) and I want
all the unnameable, soft, and yielding places,
belly & neck & the place wings would rise from
if we were angels,
and we are, and I want the rising regions of you
shoulder & cock & tongue & breathing &
suddenness of you
opening
all fontanel, all desire, the whole thing beginning
for the first time again, the first,
until I wonder then how is it
we even know which part we are,
even know the ground that lifts us, raucous,
out of ourselves,
as the rising sound of a summer dawn
when all of it joins in.


She is a very sensuous poet. Here’s one more.


I Have No Use for Virgins

I have no use for virgins -
give me the cup
with a chipped lip,
whose handle is glued back on
and whose glaze is dark from use.
Let many men and women
drink from us before
we drink -
I taste their breasts on your breast,
you cover their blaze between my legs.





“Peruvian Landscape #2”
Vincent Martinez




Nine out of ten household injuries are the result of bored old men trying to do something they should have left alone.



chipping away

i have a five-foot stump
in my back yard -
reminder of a tree
i had cut down six months
ago

saved the stump

thought,
who knows when i might need
a good stump

this morning
i began the process
of trying to sculpt something
out of it

i know nothing
about sculpting, have
no idea what i'm trying
to sculpt

instead
i just chip away,
thinking i might find something
inside the stump
not obvious
from the outside

it's possible
i might find the sculptor
within me

but more likely
i'll find only the most difficult way
to remove a five-foot stump
from your backyard

either way
chipping wood
is a most uninteresting thing
to do, leaving
lots of time for the mind to roam

who
knows
what my mind might find
in its roaming

maybe
there's a poem in
that stump





“Kristi”
Vincent Martinez




My next poem is by Lynn Crosbie, from her book, Miss Pamela’s Mercy, published in 1992 by Coach House Press.

Crosbie is a Canadian poet, novelist and teacher at the Ontario College of Art and Design University. This was her first book and has published eight additional books since, the most recent, in 2006, Liar.



Starvation Diary


Monday

the last thing I ate was bananas smashed
with brown sugar. it does not seem
like a significant last meal, and
I imagine prisoners considering this.
that food was last Tuesday. I am
not hungry. it is like a suicide
dressing herself beforehand.
the care of buttoning a woolen sweater,
the difficult clasp of a bracelet.
only to be crushed under the metal
of a subway car and find an eye that’s
become a brooch and matted sleeves
and shoes adrift with tendons and
toes. does the man think of an omelette
he once ate with the sun in the window.
does she choose a craving, like death,
something cool on a hot day.


Tuesday

I feel my stomach shrinking into the
size of an embryo I had an abortion
once. and imagined somehow slinking
through the hospital and removing
it. from the formaldehyde jar and
breathing into its cellular lungs.
the girl grows in spirit, and slips
her hand in mine, she wears make-up
that looks starry and clear. my stomach
would never near my womb, which had
evaporated and I heard, I swear to it
God, the placenta dissolve and
shower through my pores. she
knows me and my pain. she knows
my body is mine. you are too
thin, my daughter. in your
cloudy nightdress and your moon
above me,


Wednesday

he always said, why are you
eating this, or that, popcorn,
celery, mushrooms, he would enter
me like a sightless bandit, shooting
me with foam and rubber. he
drew black lines along my stretch-
marks when I slept, and ground
his fist under my ribs. does
this hurt? there are a hundred
women on the walls whose hair
sprouted in leafy gardens. whose
thighs were needles, in me he
left a scar. I said Charlotte,
you are not alive. I called
you Ruby, a jewel, a flame-coloured
dress I burned.


Thursday

eating keeps you alive. I was
a cow grazing in milkweed. I
was a pigeon with its beak in
the garden. I am flying to the
sun.


Friday

I bless the women who live alone.
in their rippling wattled frames
and choose to ascend beyond.
who skirt the banquets and decline
the lemons and zucchinis, sweet
genitals to the mouths open shiny
on magazines I’ve seen. I’ve
seen that sickness of living
through. when we once held each
other on the linoleum floor and
I saw a horizon in his collarbone
and a prayer in every beauty.
she is splayed to the door watching
my skin fall from my bones.
she has seen my hair descend
to the ground in a grey wave.
I bless the women who have borne
the thoughts, like cameos of
nausea, and lived. I have begun
to sleep. locked in a cat’s
circle, spine a metal awning.


Saturday

sugar tea and triangles of cheese

these are the things that my
hollow rib s would stick to.
these are the things that would
fill my bloodless veins.


Sunday

we are infants, skeletal and
barely conscious. the wind,
the smell of wood and a moving
curtain. this poem is the last
in my life. a life that moved
in a circle. when he swung me
around. when my legs opened
and creaked. when i last wished
we had lived forever - in a flesh
castle and amniotic moat. and
felt he sure, diurnal movements,
of the immaculate earth.





“Abuelo”
Vincent Martinez




Doesn’t seem to me like too much to ask for.



don’t bury me on the lone prairieeee: a modest proposal

they keep finding
these ancient
elaborate
tombs
all
over the world

the latest in Mexico,
2,700 years old,
the oldest,
by several centuries
in all of Mesoamerica

at the apex of a pyramid
a tomb,
four skeletons
in all -
a Mesoamerican
big shot of some kind
inside the tomb,
coated in red pigment
and adorned with hundreds
of jade ornaments and
accompanied in his tomb
by two slaves,
adult and child,
sacrificed to watch over
the big shot, a personage apparently
too important to be setting off
on a journey into the dreadworlds
on his own

right outside the tomb
another skeleton,
a woman most likely,
also highly adorned like the big shot,
maybe mrs. big shot, wedding vows at the time
perhaps a little more lasting
than today

all this well and good,
i suppose,
if you’re the type
that prefers your final rot
atop a pyramid

me,
nothing so grand as all that -

i will be cremated,
my image
etched
on a platinum plate,
along with some very obscure poem
i will write before i die,
the plate
then dropped from an airplane
on some transcontinental
flight

so that post-American remnants
multi-generations hence
will find it
as they trudge on their burros across
the sandy
coastal deserts
of Iowa

my benediction to the
future...

could be even
they will worship me





“Bacon”
Vincent Martinez




Here’s a poem by Joshua Clover, from his first book Poems - Madonna anno domini, published in 1997 by the Louisiana State University Press and winner of the 1996 Walt Whitman Award of The Academy of American Poets.

Clover, a poet, critic, author and journalist born in 1962, is a graduate of Boston University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He is an Associate Professor of English Literature and Critical Theory at the University of California, Davis and was Holloway poet-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley in 1999-2000.



Union Pacific

That about which the Buddhists teach
That the certain life belongs to the uncertain,
That life in which nothing belongs to us for even
The length of a century, which is nothing: Om.
The life in which all streets are named for thieves,,
Trees and thieves, the life in which the thief-and-tree
Is the sign of the West, the life in which there are
Seven spheres extending out to heaven from the Union
Pacific switching yard in Wyoming near midsummer,
The heaven we are not allowed to see in this life: Om.
The life which spent a third of a century maneuvering me,
Solitary, rouged in the fine dust of the Chimney Rock Ranch,
To the end of Ivinson Street in Laramie near the
Continental Divide where the railroad companies planted
Their feet in a bracework of steel and cracked open
The West the way a bear, a holy animal (first thought
Only thought) might crack open a Buddhist,
By skull and by ribcage, the white containments: Om.
From the Buddhists we learn that a holy man may own
Half a wooden bowl and replace it every seven years,
About seven bowls a century, about how long the life
Of the great railroads lasted, the Life of Seven bowls
In which you couldn’t see the forest for the thieves: Om.
Yesterday, I watched a pair of children taking off
The red Chimney Rock dust in a stone bowl
Rifted by a petty cataract of water, one basin
for the two of them, just the right amount, they were flying
From rock to rock, they were almost oblivious
To the story of the West, it was the Fourth of July,
It seemed possible they could be damaged,
The parents were watching too, through a camera,
From the corner of an eye, view within a view,
The second thought which cradles the first thought
Like a bowl inside a owl, four times more
Than I am allowed even here, in the other life





“Orange Grey”
Vincent Martinez




After this week of long poems, I’m finishing with several short poem i wrote some years ago, a demonstration to those who doubt that there was a time when I could tell a story in less that three pages. All the poems were written in the late nineties or early naughts and all were published in one place or another.

The exception is the third piece, true romance, which, though published in the late nineties, was written in the late sixties.



day break

clear skies
and early dew
make the pastures glisten
under the pale falling moon of
day break


summer in south texas

summer
in south texas,
horned toads and rattlesnakes
negotiate for every piece
of shade


true romance

crick-et
crick-et
crick-et

cricking love songs
to a crotchety moon

po-et
po-et
po-et


yippi ky yay

cowboys
i know ride the
range in helicopters
but they still wear boots and are still
bow-legged


looking good

you come into the room
with your new lover
like Ken and Barbie,
a perfect matched set
of glowing grace and beauty,
so self-confidently
put-together
gorgeous
that all the light in the room
seems to gather in your presence

did I look that good
with you on my arm,
and if I did,
how did you ever leave me...


love in the summer

love in the summer
is a sweaty, sloshy thing

not like winter
when chill winds bite
parts uncovered


once in mississippi

once, in
mississippi,
I saw a cotton field,
pretty, I thought, till I had to
pick it


the smell of summer ended

the first
cold front of fall,
and all the stores are packed
with bundled shoppers smelling of
moth balls





“Peruvian Landscape”
Vincent Martinez




And that, again, is it for the week.

As usual, remember that all of the work presented in this blog remains the property of its creators. My stuff is available if you want, just give proper credit if you do.

I am allen itz, producer and owner of this blog and it does tricks for me in the middle of the night.

1 Comments:
at 6:08 PM Blogger Don Schaeffer said...

This is really a high impact gallery. Thanks Allen

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Rocks & Hard Places   Friday, May 21, 2010


V.5.3.




I have lots of good poets this week, some of my favorites, in fact, including my featured poet for week, Don Schaeffer.

Don's recent poetry has been published in The Loch Raven Review, The Cartier Street Review, The Writers Publishing, Lilly Lit, Burning Effigy Press, Understanding Magazine, Melange, Tryst, Quills and others. His first book of poetry, Almost Full was published by Owl Oak Press early in the summer of 2006. He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from City University of New York (1975) and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The poems he is letting me use this week will be in his next book, A Wish for My Dreamer, due to be released in late Summer.

Unfortunately, don’t have much in the way of art this week, especially compared to Katie Sottak’s work last week, just some re-rendered photos from a hike my son and I took up Enchanted Rock several months ago. As I’ve said a number of times, I’m always looking for artists or photographers who can send me twenty five images to feature in an issue. That’s much simpler for me than trying to figure out something new to do, again and again, to old photos.


And, with that, here’s our grand band of poetically adept poeticos for this week.


Naomi Shihab Nye
Even at War
Grieving Ring
For the 500th Dead Palestinian, Itisam Bozieh
Shoulders


Don Schaeffer
A Wish for my Dreamer

Me
imagine you are almost one of a kind

Carol Connolly
Without a Hat
Fantasy
Man’s Best Friend
The Index


Me
how reporters helped me write better poems

Don Schaeffer
Visitations

Tony Barnstone
The 167th Psalm of Elvis

Me
with Basho in his garden

Don Schaeffer
The Arrival

Belle Waring
Back to Catfish
What Hurts


Don Schaeffer
The First Inkling of Need

Me
Guest Speaker

Gary Soto
Career Counseling
Pagan Life


Me
Reba for Congress

Don Schaeffer
1875

Blaise Cendrars
Bijou Concert
Sunsets
White Suit
Orion
The Equator
Crossing the Line
Sunday
Eggs
Butterfly
Rio de Janeiro
Mictorio
Sao Paulo


Me
frog-state

John Bandi
6 haiku

Margaret Chula
4 haiku

Cid Corman
4 haiku

Patricia Donegan
4 haiku

Diane DiPrima
Death Poems in April

Me
notes from a grounded witchdoctor









I start this week with several poems by Naomi Sihab Nye, from her book, Red Suitcase, published by BOA Editions in 1994.

Born in 1952, Nye is an award-winning is a poet, songwriter, and novelist. Of mixed heritage, her father is Palestinian and her mother American. Although she regards herself as a "wandering poet", frequently traveling abroad on USIA-sponsored Arts American speaking tours through the Middle East and Asia, she refers to San Antonio as her home.



Even at War

Loose in his lap, the hands.
And always a necktie,
as some worlds are made complete
by single things.
Graveled voice,
bucket raised on old ropes.
You know how a man can get up,
get dressed, and think
the world is waiting for him?
At night darkness knits
a giant cap to hold the dreams in.
A wardrobe of neckties with slanted stripes.
Outside oranges are sleeping, eggplants,
fields of wild sage. An order
from the government said,
You will no longer pick this sage
that flavors your whole life.
And all the hands smiled.
Tonight the breathing air carries
headlines that will cross the ocean
by tomorrow. Bar the door.


The Grieving Ring

When word of his death arrived
we sat in a circle for days
crying or not crying

long ago in the other country
girls balanced buckets
on their heads

now the old sweet water
rose from the spring
to swallow us

brothers shrank
children grew old
it felt fine to say nothing
about him
or something small

the way he carried
oranges and falafel
in his pockets

the way he was always
slightly mad

what he said to each
the last time
we saw him
hurt the worst

those unwritten letters
banging each head
till it felt bruised

now he would stand at the mirror
knotting his tie
for the rest of so many lives


I think I’ve used this next poem before, but bears re-reading - maybe once a week or so until the little deaths are ended forever.


For the 500th Dead Palestinian, Itisam Bozieh

Little sister Ibtisam,
our sleep flounders, our sleep tugs
the cord of your name.
Dead at 13, for staring through
the window into a gun barrel
which did not know you wanted to be
a doctor.

I would smooth your life in my hands,
pull you back. Had I stayed in your land,
I might have been dead too,
for something simple like staring
or shouting what was true
and getting kicked out of school.
I wandered stony afternoons
owning al their vastness.

Now I would give them to you,
guiltily, you, not me.
Throwing this ragged grief into the street,
scissoring news stories free from the page
but they live on my desk with letters, not cries.

How do we carry the endless surprise
of all our deaths? Becoming doctors
for one another. Arab, Jew,
instead of guarding tumors of pain
as the they hold us upright?

People in other countries speak easily
of being early, late.
Some will live to be eighty.
Some who never saw it
will not forget your face.


Shoulders

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.








Here’s my first poem from this week’s featured poet, Don Schaeffer.



A Wish for My Dreamer

Watching yourself
in the early morning
adding plots to your dreams.
Like time was a set of tinker-toy blocks,
set your dreams in motion.

Make up good dreams,
I say to her
as we are wishing good night.
Please don't frighten yourself, my dear.
Make dreams that give you joy.








Here’s my first poem of the week as well.

This came to mind as I read that proof, in the form of intermingled DNA, had been found that at some point during the ten to twenty thousand years that modern humans and Neanderthals had lived together some interbreeding had occurred.

For understandable reasons, the idea that I most likely carried a trace of a Neanderthal ancestor made me see them in a whole new light, and, for the first time I considered their ending days, the extinction (perhaps the only one) of a self-conscious species.

This poem was the result of that thinking.



imagine you are almost one of a kind

imagine
you are almost one of a kind

one
of just a few of your kind
remaining

brute,
the other kind
calls you,
but you have dreams

and you can see your dreams
and all the dreams
of your kind
fading
until there is no more like you
to dream them -
no more like you
to fear your gods, no more like
you to hold a loved one close
to hold a blood fresh child,
no more like you to dance as new day
breaks the sky

no more like
you

but you have planted your seed
so that some part like you
can carry on

you have planted your seed
among the other kind,
the ones almost like your kind,
the ones who hunt you, kill you,
break your bones to suck the marrow,
to suck from your bones the sustenance
of your life, to leave your bones
to be covered with tens of millennia
of dust, until you are forgotten

imagine
your are he,
the last of the circle,
all others gone like rocks
on a hillside,

imagine
lying naked
in summer grass,
a pale shadow
under the full bright eye
of the moon - listening
to the sounds of a flowing creek,
the water,
the mating frogs,
sounds of the trees
and the wind

imagine
a time
when these are the
only sounds of
night -
the water, the trees,
the wind, the call of a predator,
hungry,
howling in
the hills

the only sounds of life
around you

and you are otherwise
alone

imagine all this

the final nights of another kind of man -
a kind of man with dreams and inner life
much like our own, another kind of man
who knows time is
ending

a man who lives now
only in stories
of trolls
and other ogres

and in some tiny part
of ourselves

descendants,
most of us, of the keeper
beneath the
bridge








I have several poems by Carol Connolly from her book, Payments Due - Onstage Offstage, published by Midwest villages & Voices in 1995.

Connolly, an ardent feminist, was born, raised and educated in he Irish Catholic section of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Mother of seven children, she began to write poetry at the age of forty. She has worked as a columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul magazine and Minnesota’s Journal of Law and Politics, as well as a commentator for the local NBC affiliate. She has served as co-chair of the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus, chair of the Saint Paul Human Rights Commission, and chair of the affirmative-action committee of the Minnesota Racing Commission.

She was appointed Saint Paul’s first Poet Laureate in 2009. Payments Due, apparently her only book of poetry, was adapted as a stage production and presented in Los Angeles in 1n 1993.



Without a Hat

If you are
not a blessed virgin
but an ordinary woman
full of ordinary dreams
on an ordinary night,
full of wine and expectation
when the moon is high,
you might find a handsome athlete
and dance slow with him,
sway a little to his song,
and go with him
for just a little while.
But should he gather others,
make an all-American trio
who lock you with their
music in a plain room,
taunt you
and ridicule you
as they abuse you,
take their turns
all night, all night,
at hurting you so bad,
so bad,
all that will remain in you is
on scream
and you will cry

for help.
Help.

They you will be required
in extraordinary ways,
again and yet again,
to explain
why you
are just an ordinary woman
and not a blessed virgin.


Fantasy

If my breasts were
as sharp and pointed
as the pyramids,
I would use them
to cut
red x’s
in his face.


Man’s Best Friend

In the center
of the Empire
men dress in fine ensembles
and walk the dog.
They bend beneath curbs,
gather warm dog excrement
in clear bags pulled
from fine silk pockets.
Only the finest.
This is the center
of the Empire,
where money
talks
and dogs are walked
on Gucci leashes
and dog dirt
is collected.
E is for Empire.
Its excellence
is elegant
but excrement
exists.
In piles.


The Index

If you shake your finger at me again,
I will bit it off and hold the tip
in my teeth until I die.
People with
police power
will find it.
Trace you.
You will be
arrested.
In Duluth.








I don’t suppose this next thing is much of a poem, but i wrote it and found it kind of interesting as I did, and what the heck else am I going to do with it if I don’t put it right here.



how reporters help me write poems

for many years i was
the go-to
for area media wanting
a local slant
on business and economic
news that was rarely good

TV, newspaper
and radio interviews
several times a month,
usually covering
the same story, breaking news
mostly, sometimes a reporter,
either on assignment
or on their own initiative,
looking to do a more
far-reaching story

newspaper
and radio were usually done
from my offices, relaxed
conversations, mostly, with
reporters i knew and had worked with
often

TV was different and more varied,
taped and live

i did a few minutes
on a local morning news and talk show
two or three days a week,
and several times, when news broke
too late for reporters to get down
to my office for tape, i did live interviews
with the anchor, behind the anchor
desk - 3 to 5 on-air minutes
to respond to 4 to 5 questions
from the anchor

i learned how to do those
without embarrassing myself
by doing taped interviews
a couple of times a month -
just a reporter,
a cameraman, and me, getting
the interview done in three basic
set-ups, a wide shot of the reporter
and me talking, a close-up of me,
talking, and a medium shot of the reporter
talking, usually taken from behind me

- all sound was dubbed later -

two lessons i learned - the first,
and most basic - never piss off a reporter
because, in the end, they will define you
and a happy reporter is much nicer
than an angry one

many reporters, especially the new ones,
came into the interview
already set on the story they will write
and there was no sense in arguing with them
about what the story ought to be

the better course
was to find a way to tell the story
i wanted told within the context
of the story they wanted to write

and the secret to doing that
is part of the second important thing
i learned -

i knew that even a ten minute interview
with me would end up
with no more than 45 seconds
of me talking, so what i had to do
was toss in, throughout the 10 minutes,
little bits and pieces so good i knew
they weren't going to be able to them leave out
of my 45 seconds

it’s the power and art of the quote

all reporters are expected
by their editors to find the quotes
they need for the story - a story
without quotes, to many editors,
is an editorial, not a news story -
i learned to see that my job,
as someone with a story to tell,
was to give reporters the quote they needed,
even if wasn't the quote they wanted -

and what’s a poem?

a memorable, logically connected, imagistic
construct of words and phrases -

in reporting terms, a good quote

and that’s how doing news interviews
showed me the way to become a better poet

(except in the case of this poem,
which is more like
an instruction booklet
- in four languages -
of how to build and repair a
diesel engine)








Here’s my second poem from featured poetDon Schaeffer, a piece, as I read it, to a lost past and a difficult future.



Visitations

When I think of Joyce tonight,
I'm subject to the justice of the void.
I can wish like a child
but it will not come true.

Winter is
the best time to think of it
when my coat is not enough
to keep out the truth of the cold.

I can plead
that I had no choice but I merely watch
another tightening of the vice
and listen to the alarm drawing blood in my ear.

My denials
are like a child's eager wishes.
The elders, faces darkened,
shake their heads.

He knows,
they all say,
deep inside he knows,
as I pound my fists on the bed.








The next poem is by Tony Barnstone from Signals, the 2005 Winter Solstice issue of Runes, A Review of Poetry.

Barnstone is Professor of English at Whittier College. Born in Middletown, Connecticut, and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, he lived for years in Greece, Spain, Kenya and China before taking his Masters in English and Creative Writing and Ph.D. in English Literature at U.C. Berkeley. His poetry, translations, essays on poetics, and fiction have appeared in dozens of American literary journals and he has won numerous fellowships and poetry awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Pushcart Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award, the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize, The Sow's Ear Poetry Contest, the Milton Dorfman Poetry Prize, the National Poetry Competition (Chester H. Jones Foundation), the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry, the Cecil Hemley Award, and the Poetry Society of America. In 2006 he won the Benjamin Saltman Award in Poetry for his manuscript The Golem of Los Angeles, which was published by Red Hen Press in 2007. He won the John Ciardi Prize in Poetry in 2008 for Tongue of War and won the grand prize in the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, in Strokestown, Ireland, in 2008.



The 167th Psalm of Elvis

Blessed are the marble breasts of Venus,
those ancient miracles, for they are upright and milk white
and they point above the heads of the crowd in the casino.
Blessed are the crowds that lay, and whose reflections
sway in the polish of her eggshell eyes.
from they move shimmers and flights of birds
as they circle the games
and they are beautiful and helpless.
Bless the fast glances that handle the waitress,
bless her miniskirt toga and the flame-gold scotch,
and bless the gamblers who gaze at the stage.
Remember also the dancer and remember her dance,
her long neck arched like a wild white goose,
the tassels on her nipples that shoot like sparks,
and bless the legs and bless the breasts
for they are fruit and honey
and they are generous to the eyes.
Have mercy on my wallet, for the dollars I punch into the slot,
and grace the wheels swapping clubs and hearts.
Mercy on me too, as I stumble as if in a hashish haze
watching the reels spin away, for I am a blown fuse
and I need someone to bless me before it’s too late.
Honor the chance in a million, the slot machine jolting,
the yellow light flashing, honor the voice that calls jackpot,
and the coins that crush into the brushed steel tray,
for there is a time for winning and a time for losing
and if you cast your bread upon the waters
you will find it again after many days.
Pity the crowd around the blessed winner
all patting his back as if it rubs off,
this juice, this force, this whatever
that might save them from their own cursed luck.
And pit the poor winner whose hand claws back
into his bucket of coins and who cannot walk away,
because he’d do anything for the feeling
he had when the great patter rose from the chaos
of cherries and lemons and diamonds and stars
and he knew for the moment he was blessed.








I woke up later than usual and was feeling very rushed and harassed, entirely a matter of a habit of many years not yet broken even after years of retirement. I had no place to go, but it seemed I was still impatient to get there on time.

A mental slowdown was needed.



with Basho in his garden

driving
on I-10
at 7:45 a.m.
is like attending
a linear convention
of type-A personalities,
every one of them
the kind that sees every
little trip to the grocery as
a competition with everyone
else on the road between
home and the supermarket

sometimes i begin to feel
like that, the onset of an insanity
too common in our lives,
and i try to treat it with imaginings
of more peaceful times
and places,
like the little bamboo hut
students built
for the haiku master Basho
where he sometimes found peace
between his travels -

i join him in my mind,
kneeling with him in his garden
of high weeds, flowers
no one else wanted
until he, in his peace, found
their beauty - beauty not of color
or spread of stems, or grand blossoms,
but of their perverse
indifference to the gardner,
their tenacity and will to survive
and spread, their willingness to struggle
for place all others would deny them

useful traits, all,
for poets and philosophers
so like weeds we are
in the Queen’s formal gardens,
as Basho
might well have known
and treasured








And now another poem by featured poet Don Schaeffer. I particularly like this one, if you let me into your life, I will shake your world.

I like that



The Arrival

A human being
is a heavy weight.
You can't expect one
to arrive lightly.

Not like a feather,
not on tippy toes,
body behemoth
making great waves in its wake
A human being blasts everything.

Boom!
The big guns
in the harbor sound.
The weakest run.

If you will have me
I will change your life.
And I will join you
but only if you laugh.








I have two poems now by Belle Waring, from her book Refuge, winner of the 1989 Associated Writing Programs’ award in poetry, published in 1990 by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Waring was bon in Virginia in 1951. She holds degrees in nursing and English. In 1988, she received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Vermont College. She is now on the Field Faculty of the Vermont College M.F.A. Program and also works as a registered nurse.

This is my first time to read her, and I do like her a lot.



Back to Catfish

The cafe with the hotwire
boys is where you are and me
I’m back to cooking catfish
with banana, disguised
as a Guadeloupan delicacy,
but it’s still its old ugly-snout
self. Now when you bon temps roulez,
you booze in a fancy French joint
where the ladies get menus
with no price list. My little sun
king, who knows when you’ll blow
in. A woman like me
with a fine arts degree
could have been a master
engraver. Counterfeiter.
Not the counterfeiter’s moll.

Sure. I’m back to cooking
catfish, a creature with purpose
in life, to sweep the creek bottom
clean as the moon.
I’m waiting for thee,
wearing this swamp green
shirt you left. I could never
just throw it away,
the color of a hangover. A bruise.

But I could start without you.
Scarf up bananafish by myself.
Clean this kitchen with your keepsake
shirt, scrub every bad business
I can reach. Go out for some middlebrow
cappuccino. Swing by the Tastee Diner
for some brawl-proof pie. I’ll smile
when I’m ready and feel
complete. Who knows who I might meet?

I could swim the night in my cherry Nova
and sweep down the state road
crossing the river
on its long goddamn way home.


What Hurts

is waking up flung cold across
the bed, right where I left myself, these eyes
spooked, like my father’s after a binge.
Just what the hell is he doing in my face?
I don’t booze. I’m not like him.
But that scared and blowzy stare
I recognize after this stark dream of looking
for Max, my hopeless ex, world without end.
Some nights my father spent in a cell
to sober up. I learned to sleep in my clothes.
Sentry. Night watch. Mother by a sickbed.
Doctor on call. No surprise. Ready for
a shit storm. Praying for a cool sunrise.








Now another piece by featured poet Don Schaeffer.

Very romantic this week is Don Schaeffer.



The First Inkling of Need

The gesture
is what amuses us
as it says
I am playing
I am not in time out
I have
not yet quit.

Watching the well washed
little boys in the table near the door
I see how they practice
gestures making sure for each other
they are vivid,
saying, I am playing

play with me.
Some day we will
be real members and this will count.

Don't leave me.








Here I am again, with more echos from a previous life.



guest speaker

i've been
a guest speaker
many times,
service club meetings,
business development seminars,
convention banquets, every such event where
all the speakers and other notables
sit at a long head table on top of a riser, while
attendees are spread out across the room
in tables of six or eight, watching
as those at the head table
are fed first,
watching every
bite bit, every chew
chewed, every sip slurped, every
slurp dripped, every
sliver of food dropped,
every flash of white
teeth in mouth-open chewing

always made me self-conscious

this noon,
eating my Popeye's drumsticks
at the kitchen table, two hungry dogs,
outside on the patio,
watching though the window, every bite
bit, every chew chewed

at least i won't have to give a speech








Here is another of my favorite poets, Gary Soto, with a poem from his book Junior College, published by Chronicle Books in 1997.

I’ve done Soto’s bio so often I’m just going to let you look it up yourself this time.



Career Counseling

The mortuary students, those vampires with cool fingers,
Would get good jobs, for the world was filled
With the dying - grandmothers needling
Their last doilies and workers with their caps
Feeding into industrial rollers.
The criminology students gathered
near the bike racks, their compound eyes
Behind sunglasses. They searched for trouble,
Their hands at their sides where, in three months,
Cold 45s would snuggle in oily holsters.
In college, I stayed away
From these future cops. In World Religions,
I considered the priesthood.
In geology, I considered lighting up the world,
The bang of two rocks.
I took speed reading,
The equivalent of 19 cups of coffee,
And enrolled in biology - Mendel crosswiring peas in pods.
The nursing students hurried with clipboards,
And one day I followed them,
Like a dog, like an insomniatic patient.

In junior college, I painted numbers on curbs,
The houses themselves as cold as tombstones.
I worked on my knees, right above the busy traffic
Of straight-ahead, no-bullshit ants.
I went from house to house, At the level
Of each porch I could reason this -
There was work for both mortuary and criminology students,
And somewhere in between the nurses were involved -
Their stethoscopes counting down the heartbeats.
I painted curbs and kept to myself.
One day, my counselor asked, What do yo want to be?
He asked this on
A day when student nurses eyed my crippled walk,
When a mortuary student asked if I could play dead
And let him count my teeth and broken bones.
The newly graduated cops were meaner
Than thugs. They scolded those
Who walked on our reseeded lawns,
Scolded those in wheelchairs and on crutches.
I should leave town, I told myself,
And would have given
Some of my teeth to travel to Ireland to Scotland,
Somewhere cool. Or like a ghost,
I would have lived inside a tree
And come out only when it was dark, thus safe,
Untouchable as smoke. But I left his office
And returned to the curbs. With both knees wet
And sunlight bright as scissors,
I lowered my eyes and thought of the divisions of labor -
Me with house numbers, the vocational students
With good job, and, in my shadow, ants
With our human plunder descending into creaturely holes.


Can’t resist; here’s another one.


Pagan Life

In history of religion,
I read that three-foot pagans carried five-foot spears,
Worshiped trees and hundred-pound pumpkins,
And after week-long hunts returned to their village
To throw their women in the dirt
And get some under the sun.
I licked my fingers and turned the page,
Looking for pictures. I found none,
Only more words. The bell rang,
and I left the class, 5’8”, with no spear, no woman,
No tree to stand under and chant, “O, blessed Tree.”
I was nineteen. I dragged my loneliness like a dead cat
To the levee. The water rushed black.
The wind whipped the eucalyptus,
That giraffe of trees.
I bent my head over the water
And shook buddha-shaped ears into that ancient current.
Tires floated by,
The dead carcass of a suitcase,
And overturned kitchen tables with spindly legs
Jutting above the surface. I cried for the fish,
And the fish’s cousin, a one-eyed toad in the reeds.
Then I picked up a stick, me the pagan,
And chased a gopher into a hole.
I grew small and powerful.
As I walked, I became deliriously wild
From carrying my ten-foot spear.
My footprints left dents in the sandy ground,
Footprints that slowly shortened
Until they were only inches apart. By then,
Ants followed my march, beetles and termites,
And one armadillo, a lock-jawed disciple.
By the time I reached town,
I was trouble for married and unmarried women.
I was no bigger than a thumb,
And my spear, Jesus Christ, tottered n my arms
And stirred the populace from their houses -
Wondrous girls climbing onto each other’s shoulders
For a glimpse of the thing that sanctified the air.








Speaking of Reba a which I often do, here she is again.



Reba for Congress

i woke
this morning
to heavy rain, thunder
and lightning across
the horizon

and a wet dog
in panic-frenzy because
of the thunder

stupid dog

she stands in the rain
and yowls,
instead of hiding
in her safe little house
on the patio

it’s like watching
the news from
Washington, where
politicians in constant
panic-mode
stand in shitstorms
of tough times
and yowl,
like my stupid dog

oblivious

Reba,
my smart dog,
knows better

she wakes up,
ready for her morning outside
business, stands at patio door,
takes measured note of the weather,
and if it is as it is today,
returns to her bed and to sleep,
legs crossed, until better weather
bodes

i wonder if those crazy
tea party people
would be open to electing
a dog to Congress

(better than the dogs
we’ve got now,
i’d tell them)

maybe
if i took her
to a couple of their
meetings








Here’s my last piece from featured poet Don Schaeffer. Thanks, Don. I look forward to reading your new book.



1875

When Charles Darwin
is doing his thing
the world is gears
clothed in brass with
leather seats
handles of ivory and wood.

Survival is the final
and fierce machine
of judgment. And we all
stand in the light of mechanics
and count our virtues
with a one, two, three.
If we need help
in testing our regeneracy
there are plenty of
carnival performers with tests

For a penny you know
how you stack up. You enter
the great competition-of-life
dance and get your rank, then
turn rank into index
and carry the evolution
quotient in your heart.








This week’s “Here and Now” is chock full of poets I like very much, none more than the next one, one of my all-time favorites, Blaise Cendrars, from a collection of his poems, Complete Poems, published in 1992 by the University of California Press.

Born Frédéric Louis Sauser in 1887, Cendrars led an active and interesting life until his death in 1961. He was a Swiss novelist and poet naturalized French in 1916 and a writer of considerable influence in the modernist movement.

Severely wounded (he lost an arm) in the first World War, he spent much of his life traveling in the years after. An observant, energetic and empathic traveler, you read his travel poems and regret you never had an opportunity to be his traveling companion.

Here are some of those travel poems, snippets of observation, that he recorded in his notebook as he traveled. These poems, as well as all the others in the book, were translated from French to English by Ron Padgett.



Bijou-Concert

No
Never again
I’ll never drag my ass into another one of these colonial dives
I want to be this poor black man I want to be this poor black who stands
   in the doorway
Because the beautiful black girls would be my sisters
And not
And not
These stinking French Spanish Serbian German bitches who furnish
   the leisures of gloomy functionaries dying to be stationed in Paris and
   who don’t know how to kill time
I want to be that poor black man and fritter my time away


Sunsets

Everyone talks about sunsets
All travelers are happy to talk about the sunsets in these waters
There are hundreds of books that do nothing but describe sunsets
The tropical sunsets
Yes it’s true they’re wonderful
But I really prefer the sunrises
Dawn
I wouldn’t miss one for the world
I’m always on deck
In the buff
And I’m always the only one there admiring them
But I’m not going to describe them the dawns
I’m going to keep them for me alone


White Suit

I stroll on deck in the white suit I bought in Dakar
On my feet the espadrilles bought in Villa Garcia
I hold in my hand the Basque beret I brought from Biarritz
My pockets are filled with Caporal Ordinaires
From time to time I sniff my wooden cigarette case from Russia
I jingle he coins in my pocket and a pound sterling in gold
I have my big Calabrian handkerchief and some wax matches the big
   kind you find only in London
I’m clean washed scrubbed more than the deck
Happy as a king
Rich as a multimillionaire
Free as a man


Orion

It’s my star
It’s in the form of a hand
It’s my hand gone up into the sky
During the entire war I saw Orion through a lookout slit
When the zeppelins came to bomb Paris they always came from Orion
I have it above my head today
The main mast pierces the palm of that hand which must hurt
as my amputated hand hurts me pierced as it is by a continual stabbing
   pain


The Equator

The ocean is dark blue the blue sky is pale next to it
The sea swells all around the horizon
It’s as if the Atlantic were going to spill over into the sky
All around the steamer it’s a vat of pure ultramarine


Crossing the Line

Of course I have been baptized
It’s my eleventh baptism of the line
I got dressed up like a woman and we had a great time
Then we drank


Sunday

It is Sunday on the water
It’s hot
I’m in my cabin as if trapped in melting butter


Eggs

The coast of Brazil is strewn with round bare little islands we’ve been
   sailing through for two days
They’re like speckled eggs laid by some gigantic bird
Or like volcanic dung
Or like vulture sphincteroids


Butterfly

It’s odd
For two days now that we’ve been in sight o land not a single bird has
   met us or followed in our wake
On the other hand
Today
At dawn
As we were entering the Bay of Rio
A butterfly as big as your hand came fluttering all around the steamer
It was black and yellow with big streaks of faded blue


Rio de Janeiro

Everyone is on deck
We’re in among the mountains
A lighthouse goes dark
They’re looking everywhere for the Sugarloaf and ten people find it in a
   hundred different directions so much do these mountains look alike
   in their pyroformity
Mr. Lopart shows me a mountain with its profile against the sky like a
   a cadaver stretched out with its silhouette looking like Napoleon on his
   deathbed
I think it looks more like Wagner a Richard Wagner puffed up with
   pride or overwhelmed with fat
Rio is now quite near and you can make out houses on the beach
The officers compare this panorama to that of the Golden Horn
Others talk about the revolt of the forts
Other unanimously deplore the construction of a big tall square
   modern hotel that disfigures the bay (the hotel is very beautiful)
Still others vehemently protest the leveling of a mountain
Leaning over the starboard rail I look at
The tropical vegetation of a deserted little island
the huge sun that cuts through the huge vegetation
A little boat with three fishermen
These men moving slowly and methodically
Who work
Who fish
Who catch the fish
Who do not even look at us
Absorbed in their craft


Mictorio

The mictorio is the station toilet
I’m always curious to see it when I arrive in a new country
The john in the station in Santos is a little nook where and immense
   earthenware pot which reminds me of the big jars among the vines
   in Provence where and immense earthenware pot is buried up to
   the neck
A big thick dark wooden sausage sits like a crown on the edge and serves
   as a seat
It must be rather uncomfortable and too low
The exact opposite of the tanks of the Bastille which are too high


Sao Paulo

Finally here are some factories a suburb a nice little trolley
Electric lines
A street crowded with people doing their evening shopping
A natural gas tank
Finally we pull into the station
Sao Paulo
I feel like I’m in the station in Nice
Or getting off a Charing Cross in London
I find all my friends
Hello
It’s me








Another couple of days of good rain. I love it.



frog-state

great wet
night

thunder crashing
lightning flashing

rain by the
wash tub

and it looks like
more today

and i’m in a
frog-state

ready
to squat down in the mud

and let the rain run off
my green warty skin

happy -
croaking like the frog-king

on saturday night
and content in my bumpy frog-self...

just don’t bother me
or i’ll pee in your hand

frog-revenge
on those who disturb the rain








Last week in included some haiku from the original Japanese masters of the form. This week I have poems from several of the modern American masters of haiku.

The poems are take from the anthology The Unswept Path - Contemporary American Haiku, published in 2005 by White Pine Press.



The first of the new masters is John Brandi.

Brandi is a native of southern California, born in 1943, a poet and artist associated with the Beat Generation.


daybreak
pollen rising
from the unswept path


~~~


around the bell
blue sky
ringing


~~~


after the storm
a dragonfly
pinned to the cactus


~~~


morning chill
every haystack leans
to the sun


~~~


not knowing what to say
he mails
only the envelope


~~~


without clothes
it’s a different
conversation


Next, I have haiku from Margaret Chula. Chula lived in Japan for twelve years , where she taught creative writing and studied woodblock printing and ikbana. Author of a number of volumes of poetry, she now lives in Oregon.


cushion, incense, bowl
so much preparation to do nothing


~~~


late into the night
we talk of revelations
moon through the pines


~~~


silk sheets
gardenia on the bed stand
unfolds its petals


~~~


waking this morning
from troubled dreams
foxprints on new snow


The next poems are by Cid Corman. He was an editor, poet, land translator. He lived abroad most of his life, first in Europe, then in Japan.

Corman died in 2004.


There is no end and
never was a beginning - so
here we are - amidst


~~~


Only a bunch of
swallows over and over
the darkening stream


~~~


Nothing ends with you -
every leaf on the ground
remembering root


~~~


Alive or dead
I’m in it for
the poetry


Patricia Donegan is an author, poet, translator, and teacher in Tokyo, Japan.


summer twilight -
a woman’s song
mingles with the bath water


~~~


winter afternoon
not one branch moves - I listen to my bones


~~~


Pampas grass bends
bodies
intertwined


~~~


spring wind -
I too
am dust


And, finally, this series by Diane DiPrima, another import
ant poet from the beat generation.


Death Poems In April

1

even the Buddha lay down
to breathe his last,
why am I struggling?


2

easy to disappear
into this fog


3

pour this water and ash
on the roots
of some old tree







Continuing my long tradition (it’s my blog, if I saw two weeks is a long tradition, two weeks is a long tradition) of closing out every “Here and Now” issue with one of my old poems. This one was written in 1968 or thereabouts and published thirty years later in January 2000 in Avant Garde Times, another fun zine gone before its time.

The poem, an example of what happens when you mix excessive Whitman hero-worship with a psychedelic time, is not much to brag about on paper, but, I’ve been told by one who heard it, a dynamite read if read by a good dramatic reader.

Our work is like our children, we claim what we can for it.



notes from a grounded witchdoctor

rosy glow
   rosy glow
breaks the light
into silken clouds
of floating pink
   drifting
   drifting
into the expanding
corners of my pulsating room
rooms
   fields
      tiny
         universe
growing
   growing
to big
   too much
falling back falling back
   regrouping
afraid of reaching

give me room

control
   control
      sure
      no longer afraid
jumping for the clouds
riding
   riding
into the ever expanding
corners of my pulsating room
   riding

clouds of taffy
   sticking
      sucking
         pulling me to the floor
phosphorescent walls quake and tilt

throwing off slippery shadows
that pool at the floor
eat at the floor
      and leap at me
   with the deliberate
      slow pace
of the unconquered tide
   then turn golden
   then red
   at my feet

the angry lobster redness
   the infectious angry redness
colors my feet
   and crawls up my leg
chewing
   chewing
      chewing
reaching
      crawling
pulling at my body
pulling me to a high place

i stand atop a hill
      in the shade of a tree
      a wide spreading tree

birds sing from the tree
   and i understand the song
      and try to sing along
but the birds stop
and leave me singing
   alone
   alone
until a bird lunges from the tree
to stand on the ground
to become a shadow figure
      a man in black
   a man with no face

black space where a face should be
the thing
      the shadow faceless thing
      begins to cry
and the birds come from the trees
   and land on his shoulders
      as crows
great black crows
   evil black crows
that sit on phantasmal shoulders
   and cry

the ground collapses beneath me
the hill flattens beneath me
and i’m in a valley
and the hill is behind me
      and the figure
      and the crows
stand on the hill and cry
   so far above me
as the hill shimmers
through the heat of the valley
      fades
   disappears

i’m alone in the valley
   in the dust of the valley
         in the hot hot dust of the valley

hotter and hotter
   in the valley
and i’m lying naked
   in the boiling mud
   of the valley

people stand around me
men and women without faces
   black spaces where faces
      ought to be
men and women
      in long black skirts
   that drag
      in the mud

they laugh at me

great ghastly specters
from a tribal past
      they laugh at me
i press my cracked lips
into the mud and try to suck
for water and burn
my face and my lips and tongue
mud
   mud
      mud
         not mud
            grass
            wet grass
            dew-wet grass
            cool dew-wet grass
i run my tongue over the grass
         bite into the grass
      chew on its coolness
i lie on my back
under the cool fresh sky
      and stretch out my arms
      and pull handfuls of grass
      and throw them at the sun
      and let the grass
   rain back on me
and i catch it with my body

i crawl beneath
the grass and meadow flowers
and roots and working earthworms
      and look up to watch
      the sun in its forever agony
of circling
   circling
      ever circling

i watch the sun
through the roots
and grass and crawling insects
      from behind the petals
      of meadow flowers
circling
   circling
      circling
falling
   crashing
      diving
         swooping
clawing at my eyes
      burning at my eyes
searing my eyes and cheeks
and lips
and screaming tongue

i close my eyes

and i’m in a room
   a small room
   a dark room
   a black room
a room without light
      but for a small dot
pulsating off and on
off and on
off and on
   off and on
in one corner of the room

the dot grows
      bigger and bigger
   off and on
      bigger and bigger
   it crashes toward me

washes over me

leaves me in a lonely light
alone

alone now

alone

alone now
      lying on my floor
linoleum cold against my cheek

i turn on my back
alone of the floor

                        and sleep







Enough.

All material borrowed for this blog remains the property of those who created it. If it’s mine, you can use it, just give proper credit to me and to “Here and Now.”

I’m allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, and I’m done.

1 Comments:
at 3:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for Andrew Bird.
Absolutely amazing.

Post a Comment



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