End of the Middle of Summer Poetry Sale   Thursday, July 29, 2010


“self-portrait”
V.7.5.





Free Poetry - can't get a better sale than that.

I have a couple of special treats for you this week.

Not included among the treats, my images, as I continue to practice with the “splash” feature on Photobucket. Going way overboard this time, I titled each image.

As to treats, first, I have the first half of a 30-poem series by featured poet, Sexton T Sterns, Nom de plume of a long-time poet and former poetry editor who admits to finding “a delicious sort of freedom in having the sort of tabula rasa that a brand-new name affords.”

He wrote his series over the course of a month at Blueline’s “House of 30” forum and says he is “forever indebted to the House for helping keep his nose to the poetic grindstone.”

He has been married, he says, to his “loving and beautiful wife since 1984, and has two wonderful sons, now 24 and 17.

The second half of his series will appear here next week.

And, in addition to the first half of the Stearns piece, I have a second treat, a very funny poem from another “House of 30” housemate, the ever-entertaining Alice Folkart.

I don’t know if it’s a treat or not, but my library poets this week offer their own little eccentricities.

I have a system of random selection of poets from my library so that I don’t end up every week with nothing but my favorites. A diversity of poetic expression has been one of the aims of “Here and Now” since I started posting it. This week, my random selection process produced a more than usually diverse list of poets, including, an ancient Chinese master, an ancient Greek master, a sensualist from 18th century France, a German expressionist from the 1920s and 30s, and a modern American poet is book is titled Street Fighting.

And, of course, there’s my stuff, too, more pleasing to me for the past couple of weeks than usual.

Here’s the works:


Alice Folkart
Formalities

Me
how i ended up a writer

Tu Fu
Seven Songs at T’ung-Ku

Me
admiring the dark

Else Laskerr-Sckhuler
Georg Grosz

Me
Mr. Fix-It

Sappho
Fragments

Sexton T. Stearns
The Digger Cycle (Part One)

Arthur Rimbaud
Morning of Drunken Ecstasy
Ruts
Seascape
Barbaric


Me
rather a pride of lions roaring

Daniel Donaghy
The Girl Who Taught Me Spanish

Me
in my humble opinion






“you”




I start this week with this very funny poem by Alice Folkart.

Alice is also one of my housemates on Blueline’s House of 30. She is the house champ, having completed 52 of the 30 day poem-a-day cycles. The poem is remarkable in many way, not least, the fact that, being the 5th poem in her 52nd 30-day cycle, it is Alice’s 1,536th poem written over the course of 1,536 consecutive days, not counting a short hospital stay and recovery after an accident.

Talk about about an unending well-stream of poems and poetic ideas!

The poem is hilarious; the heavenly application is perfect and perfectly hilarious parody.

Enjoy!



Formalities

At the gate,
I wait.

Office angels float back and forth,
south and north, busy with phones, e-mail.
I hail one, and she hands me a clipboard, a quill pen,
then a small jar of ink, and points to a table,
"Here, fill this out, if you're able, then turn it in.
We'll see if we have room."

The form in triplicate, is 20 pages long,

easy to check wrong boxes,

places to write in references and addresses,

make messes with that sputtering quill.

The thrill of multiple-choice quizzes

fizzes my brain.


Application for Admittance to Heaven.

Receptionist Angel looks up,
glares as me like a naughty pup and growls,

"Go on, go on. We haven't got an eon, you know.
And so, you DID show up without a reservation."


I dipped the quill into the ink and set to with hesitation:

PLACE OF BIRTH: CHECK ONE
Earth
Jupiter
Mars
Andromeda Galaxy (write in planet)
Black Hole

PLACE OF DEATH: Leave blank if you don't remember
Battlefield
Hospital
Nomad's tent
Starship

Whore house (patron or worker)
Black Hole

REFERENCES: List anyone you know to be
already here who could vouch for your good character.
Leave blank if you don't know anyone here or
don't have a character that could be vouched for.

NEAR-DEATH-EXPERIENCES:
Yes
No

DIETARY PREFERENCES:
Vegetarian
Cannibal
Forage
Earth-standard - beast eaters
Twigs and leaves
(We are sorry, but we cannot accommodate some of the more exotic diets.)

SPIRITUAL CONNECTION:
Any Earth Religions (this will count against your compassion credit)
Any Outer Galaxies Disciplines (we hope so)
Fundamentalist Solopcism

Black Hole

YOUR TALENTS: Check as many as apply
Understanding
Thinking
Anger or Envy Overcome - what tools did you use?
Appreciation of the arts - especially poetry
Love

Passion for anything
Past lives as a dog, a whale, a tiger or a madman

WHY DO YOU THINK HEAVEN IS FOR YOU:

Explain in 300 words or less.

DO YOU EXPECT TO FIND GOD HERE:
Yes
No


WHY? In 100 words or less.

ACCOMMODATIONS DESIRED
Single
Double
View
With Night AND day, sunrises, sunsets and moons.

Landscape view - choose one:

At sea (storm or calm)

Vegas - The strip lit up

Great Wall of China

Pastoral

Moments in History - choose from the catalog in your domicile.
Private or shared bath.
Mosquito netting

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS -
Please list any that you have ever played or would like to play.
Would you like to sign up for the two-day virtuoso course on:
Cello
Trumpet
Bass drum
Tympany
Flute

Nose Whistle
Other instruments (including those of Chinese opera) may be available when you enter.

CLOTHING SIZE - circle one: itsy bitsy, stunted, regular, gorged or too big


PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS - LIST ALL. THEY WILL BE FIXED.

LANGUAGE PREFERRED - LIST ALL

SHIFT PREFERRED: Day/Night, Weekly/Monthly, or Lifetime by Lifetime.

(No, graveyard shift is not available here - try downstairs)

CREDIT SHARING: Would you be willing, if accepted, to share part of you good credit
with someone who almost made it in, but not quite? This would not affect your status.
Yes
No

WHY NOT? No more than 100 words.

DO YOU LEAVE BEHIND ANY UNFINISHED BUSINESS?
Please do not describe - we know already
Nothing you can do about it
It will finish itself.


***************************************

I knocked over the ink,
in a blink it ran blackly over the table,
and sable dripped onto the cloud floor,
sank through and was no more.


Ah, relief. My belief had been tested.
I'd been bested and hadn't finished the chore,

I'd learned long ago that you should read things like this,

full of vinegar and piss,
from front to back before

complying, and entering bliss.


Now I couldn't. No ink.
I looked up, tried a wink, at the reception desk,
that old angel stared down at me
she could see over her reading glasses,

that I needed classes and bed.

Her halo pulsed red.
I shrugged my shoulders,

held up the clipboard.


She sighed. holding out her hand toward me

"Okay, bring it on up. Let me see. It doesn't matter.
No matter what your patter,

we knew what you would say before you arrived."

She banged upon a tinny bell

and a tiny angel, looking swell in a pale blue robe,
scurried in, "Show her to her quarters, Baby 1."
And then to me, "Son,Welcome to Heaven. Dinner's at six.
Trumpet licks at moonrise. No smoking or toking and you'll be fine."





“your left, your left - no, your other left”




Well, I suppose I could’a been a contenda - instead here I am in my winding-down years, a writer.

How in the world did that happen?



how i ended up a writer

i always wished
i could play the piano,
any kind of music - classical,
jazz, Mongolian diddle-bop -

i didn’t care, i just wished
i could play it...
but when i was learning
music,

family finances dictated
it be on an instrument
provided by the school,
which narrowed choices

to snare drum
or tuba and since snare drum
was reserved for girls
and smaller kids which i was not,

tuba
it was, and though
i wasn’t very good in my tubistical
endeavors,

i’m sure i’d have been better
on piano,
being that piano is where,
i’m sure, my musical flair

is nestled,
waiting to be awakened -
(also no one expects
you to parade around

with a piano
slung
across your shoulders,
thereby avoiding a lifetime

of back problems
arising
from early-years abuse
by tuba)

and i also wish
i was an artist, a painter
of landscapes
and beautiful naked women

and still-lives of apples and pears
and bananas and mostly beautiful
naked women, but since

i can’t draw stick figures
without losing a couple of sticks
or circles that aren’t flat
on one or two sides

and since both music
and art
require studious
reading of instructions,

among other lesser things,
and since i hate reading
instructions
i suppose i’ll just have to

stick
to writing
where ignoring instructions
leads to development

of a poetic voice
of your own
which i’m good at
and which is just as good

as doing things
right
as long as you do it
with confidence and a sense

of
purpose

and
humor, too,
of course





“a bird in the bush”




A few weeks ago, I had a couple of little pieces by Tu Fu from an anthology of Chinese poets. These are from a collection of just his poems, The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, published by New Directions in 1989. The poems were translated by David Hinton.

For over a millennium, Chinese literati have almost unanimously considered Tu Fu, who was born in the year 712 and died in 790, to be their greatest poet. He is considered to have radically altered poetry in the High T’ang period. In addition to innovations in language and structure, he extended the range of subject matter to include all aspects of public and private experience.



Seven Songs at T’ung-Ku

1

A wanderer - O, all year, Tzu-mei a wanderer,
white hair a shoulder-length confusion, gathering

acorns all year, like Tsu the monkey sage. Under cold
skies, the sun sets in this mountain valley. No word

arrives from the central plain, and for failing
skin and bone, ice-parched hands and feet, no return, no

return there Song, my first song
        sung, O song already sad enough,
winds come from the furtherest sky grieving for me.


2

Sunday hoe, O long sturdy hoe, my white-handled
fortune - now I depend on you, on you alone

for life, there isn’t a wild yam shoot to dig. snow
fills the mountains. I tug at a coat never covering

my shins. and when we return this time, empty-handed
again - my children’s tears are deafening, the four walls

harbor quiet song, my second song
        sung, O song beginning to carry,
this village is peopled with faces grieving for me.

3

Brothers of mine, my brothers in far-off places, O
three frail brothers - is anyone strong now these

scattering lives we wander never meet? Now Mongol dust
smothers the sky, this road between us goes on forever.

Cranes flock eastward, following geese. But cranes -
how could cranes carry me there, to another life beside

my brothers Song, my third song
        sung, O song sung three times over,
if they return, where will they come to gather my bones?

4

Sister of mine, my sister in Chung-li - devoted husband
dead young, orphan children unhinged, O my sister,

the long Huai is all deep swells, all flood-dragon-fury -
how will you ever come now? Ten years apart - how will I

ever find you in my little boat? Arrows fill my eyes,
and the south, riddled with war banners and flags, harbors

another dark Song, my fourth song
        sung. O song rehearsed four times through,
gibbons haunt the midday forest light wailing for me.

5

Mountains, all mountains and wind, headlong streams and
rain - O, the cold rain falling into withered trees falls.

And clouds never clear. Among brown weeds and ancient
city walls - white foxes prowl, brown foxes stand fast.

This life of mine - how can I live this life out in some
starveling valley? I wake and sit in the night, ten thousand
worries gathering, Song, my fifth song
        sung, O song long enough now
singing my soul back, my lost soul gone to my lost home.

6

A dragon - O, a dragon in southern mountains, cragged
trees mingling their ancient branches above its pool -

when yellowed leaves fall, it sinks into hibernation,
and from the east, adders and cobras come roaming the water.

A traveler full of fear, how could I confront them?
My sword is hardly drawn before I put it away, before I

rest here Song, my sixth song,
        sung, O song wearing your thoughts thin,
streams and valleys are graced by spring again for me,

7

        a man
every distinction has eluded, a man grown old only
to wander three hungry years away on mountain roads.

In Ch’ang-an statesmen are young. Honor, wealth -
men devote themselves early. Wise me I knew long ago

live here in the mountains now. Our talk is all old
time gone by, nothing more - old friends harboring

wounded memories Song, my seventh song
        sung, O uneasy silence ending my tune,
a white sun fills the majestic sky with headlong flight.





“just a couple of little pricks lost in the desert”




Who’s afraid of the dark.

Not me.

Mostly.



admiring the dark

the dark is
staying dark
longer ever night

as July
heads for the back door
and August

impatiently
taps it’s fiery little feet
out front, waiting...

i enjoy
the dark in the morning,
eating breakfast

by the big window,
looking out to the dark
of night waning,

watching
the new day gathering
in the east

just a hint,
a bare little shadow of light
remembered

almost lost in the ambient glow
of clouds softly-lit
from below

by the city’s night
illuminations,
clouds always glowing

from below
in a city of a million and a half people
fearful of the dark -

porch lights
lit all night, motion lights
flashing bright

with every rustle of leaves
by the wind,
every twitter of a bird -

street lights,
security lights, night lights
that let us sleep

in semi-dark, certain
that whatever evil lurks
outside the luminance we wrap

around our sleeping body,
will be as frightened
by the light as we are by the dark

and will stay
away - it is the way
we have lived the dark

since
fire-tenders
maintained the flames

that kept us safe at night
from the earliest history
of our kind...

meanwhile,
sitting in my well-lit cafe,
typing in the glow of computer electrons,

i admire the beauty of the night
while looking past the dark
to each pool of light around me

calculating the distance between pools, clocking
how quickly i could race the dark from
one bright pool to the next

if i had
to





“from the Durango Street bridge”




The next poem is by Else Lasker-Schüler.

Schuler, born in 1869, was a Jewish German poet and playwright famous for her bohemian lifestyle in Berlin. One of the few women affiliated with the Expressionist movement, she fled Nazi Germany and lived out the rest of her life in Jerusalem, dying there in 1945.

Her poem is about Georg Grosz, painter, occasional poet, and a major figure in the German expressionist movement of the 1920s and 30s.

The poem, from the book Music while drowning, German Expressionist Poems, was published by Tate Publishing in 2003, and was translated by Christopher Middleton.

The book is illustrated with dark and fanciful art from the period.


Georg Grosz

Sometimes tears of many colours
Play in his ashen eyes.

But always he encounters hearses;
They scare his dragonflies away.

He is superstitious
- Born under a great star -

His handwriting is a downpour,
His drawings letters of cloud.

As though they’d long lain in the river
His subjects bloat their bodies out.

Mysterious vagrants with tadpole mouths
And putrified souls.

His silver fingers are
Five dreaming undertakers

But nowhere a light in the stray legend,
And yet he is a child,

The Leatherstocking Saga hero,
On intimate terms with the Redskins.

All others he hates;
They bring him bad luck.

But Georg Grosz loves his misfortune
Like a dear adversary.

And his sadness is dionysian,
Black champagne his lamentation.

He is a sea with a veiled moon.
His God seemed dead, but is not so.





“& me”




I can fix anything, just ask me.

But don’t ask my wife.



Mr. Fix-It

when
i try to fix things
i almost always break them

worse -
it is my nature,
a special talent i have

to see configurations
of gears and levers and pipes
and pistons and such

never before seen
by the eyes of men, violations,
often, of the laws of mechanics

and the physical universe -
want me to fix your car,
probably better

if you just buy a new one instead, have
a leaky pipe,
i’ll take care of it, but if wise,

you’ll have a plumber
on stand-by,
and electrical problems, that’s my

speciality
and char can be a very nice color
when you get used to it...

reminds me
of a story i saw in the New York Times
last week,

about the scientist who says
gravity is not one of the natural forces of the universe
in and of itself

but a phenomena
created as a by-product of the interaction
of several other real natural forces

in other words, he says,
gravity does not
exist

big deal!

I’ve
been saying that
for years




:
“hard rock, but not the cafe”




Next, I have fragments from the Greek poet of antiquity, Sappho, considered by her contemporaries, and many since, as the greatest lyric poet of her time.

Unfortunately, little remains of her work but fragments, such as these, taken from the book Sweetbitter Love, with translation by Willis Barnstone.



Alone

The moon has set and
the Pleiades, Middle
of the night, time spins
away and I lie alone.


To Eros

You burn us


Pleasure

On a soft Pillow
I will lay down my limbs


Desire

No
desire
but together
a flow
desire
I was happy


Sweetbitter

Eros loosener of limbs once again trembles me,
a sweetbitter beast irrepressibly creeping in


You Can Free Me

I hoped for love

When I look at you face to face
not even Hermioni
seems to be your equal.
I compare you to blond Helen

among mortal women.
Know that you can free me
from every care,

and stay awake all night long
on dewy river banks


As Long As There is Breath

You might wish
a little
to be carried off

Someone
sweeter
you also know

forgot

and would say
yes
I shall love as long as there is breath in me
and care
I say I have been a strong lover

hurt
bitter
and know this

no matter
I shall love





“nova”




Next, I have the first fifteen parts of the thirty segment story, told in verse by featured poet Sexton T. Stearns, a housemate from Blueline’s House of 30. The second half of the story will come in next week’s issue. Together, the two parts make up The Digger Cycle.

All thirty segments of this story first appeared in the “House.” In introducing his intentions to fellow housemates, Stearns wrote:

“I am going to try something very experimental. This will be a attempt to tell a story, and it may or may not come together. It is going to be a story told from revolving view points-- in verse of course. Except for a very basic format outline/timeline, I have no idea where this is going. I am not attempting to recreate a well developed story from a detailed synopsis - there are no cliff notes. I am going to construct this off the top for the next 30 days, without going back to re-edit. There is no eraser. so wish me luck! I will try to keep the pieces moving in my mind a day or two ahead until the plot thickens...if it ever does.”

Challenging oneself every day to keep your creative engine running is the purpose and reward of the House of 30, never better demonstrated than by what Stearns has done with this series.

Enjoy this first half this week, then come back next week for the rest.




The Digger Cycle (Part 1)

Lenny

A girl is small,
built of tiny things,
doll-sized oven mitts,
doll sized clothes,
little plastic parts that can
be swallowed
in lieu of better answers.

For Baby everything
fits. Everything
fits, fits,
relentlessly fits.
These sandals are perfect.
This blouse, this
skirt of careful check
for school.
A note for chocolate milk.

Boys.
Lenny likes boys.


Robert James

it is the way that he sits at his table
how he sits in his shirt and his tie
it is the way he punctuates his day
all in and all say
and how he stabs the air with his dinner fork
my father taught me at the end of a belt
and how he never strikes me
but makes me small
how he never strikes
but I know that he is stabbing me.
every day
every day with his fork
when I was thirteen

he

was never
was never thirteen
he is the monster who ate Mom
and spit out a bookend
who knits


Lenny: Physics

There is something dangerous about him,
broody-dark, moody, dark, the foreign and
dark in his eyes, the almost Spanish in his skin;
the thermal energy of his steady quiet,
and how I feel it through my top,
through the apricot burn of my blazer.

I have seen him, at night, shooting hoops
in the park with night coming on.
The round muscles of his shoulders
effortless,
lifting and pumping
as if his body
were working a problem
in physics.

Three bounces,
then he sets,
then he pushes the ball
through the air
that I am breathing.


Robert James: Chemistry

Her hair like a flag made of sunrise.

Her hands, delicate hands: Long
fingered, slender; nails
trimmed and competent,
brushing
a fleck from her skirt,
creasing
a page in her book.
Everything pretty
the way she does it.

Lenny Brewer. Suddenly freshman class,
suddenly female.
Suddenly,
someone to notice.
Her name
at the tail of every thought.
Her voice,
picked out
of every crowd.

I look up her number
in the directory.

At night, in the dim
and the radium green,
I dial down through the short-wave bands,

imagining her whisper.
Imagining her breathless whisper,
buried in the common tongue
of static.


Lenny: Morning

He lies turned on his side,
his breath soft and slow
against the tide of morning.
Again last night, his tenderness,
his strength, his muscled back:
How he wakes in me
a furious pulse of longing.
How he makes me hunger:
This bed too small
for everything he brings me,
for everything I want, I want, I want.

How love’s had a story to tell me.
From the moment
he tendered his hand.
From the moment
we kissed. Love letters,
sealing wax.
Meetings
by the scoreboard,
meetings
by the lake.
How high school it was,
at first.

Now, a sort of marriage:
A bouquet of sheets
on the floor.

Meetings on my mattress.


Robert James - Afternoon

My arms are creased
with the impression of sheets.

July already warm on the glass,
a pulse of heat behind the sheers.

Her scent on me, the musk
of her; a smell on my hands
I almost hate to wash.

Her narrow bed,
somehow seeming smaller
with her gone.

Wine glasses on the coffee table,
last night’s dishes in the sink;
hardened starches, runny oils.

The sadness of spoons left unwashed.

Her tiny shower. Her
woman’s soaps and lotions.
Is this the little room
where love has gone
and left me?

All these happy complications
of the heart.
All this future
in my hands:
Lined with sleep
and cotton percale,

still tingling with the memory
of skin.


RJ: Born

This is your day.
This is his day.

In this room
where bright
the bright gleam
there will be blood
on time
and according
to plan.

He sits by her head
on a flat metal stool
taking hold of her hand
like in school, like
in school.

From behind the disposable blue
they knew it was you.
Even with blood
and everything new,
they knew right away
it was you.



for Sean Matthew Bellinger
born July 1st, 1986



Lenny: Postpartum

He is a beautiful thing I just won’t touch he wants he wants he
wants so much he cries I cannot see him I cannot eat the food
here paste and tongue and nothing sweet the light the television
on or off still bothers me I cough I think that I am bleeding the
nurse a bitch a tight black fist dispensing relief with a dropper
and twist and him oh god his puppycat eyes must I suffer
his hurt his suffering sighs his angles his elbows and hair
uninjured and safe
in a green folding chair and I know
you love me

but go. Pocket back your plain gold ring.
I am the dragon they speak of.
I am a dangerous thing.
I am beached
like a monster of skin.
Don’t come in.
I have sinned.
Still, somehow

it begins, this
world— this
delicate new.
Us

and you,
us and you.


Robert James: Little Blue Room

We will bring you home to your little blue room: Three bears
in the window, a nursery moon that chimes a little song along
the night. In the light from the west evening window, little
stars - cut glass stars - will burn like tiny suns where we lay
you down to sleep in your baby cap, your onesies. Whisper
your name in lullaby tones. Dribble you with vowels of love
and nonsense.


RJ: Digger

Daddy calls me digger digger digger
and I like to sing that word
it is a blue word
it does not make my ears
go pinch like
sausages or artichoke
it does not pinch
my ears

every day and each
is full of words and faces
making faces
and faces making words
and you have to try to get to green and try
to get to blue

at school they have the red books
and we are going in the red Mom says
and I already know how bad a place
is red,
a place where fruit is louder
than strawberries,
where doctors snap their tuna forks
and hold them to my ears
until they find the ones
that make me cry


Lenny: RJ

He hits himself.

Even with all of the pills, the pills,
he can’t control his hands.

He hits himself.
He is afraid of certain shapes, of certain reds,
of certain combinations of frequency and volume
that can curl him in a fetal ball
in the middle of your plaza.
Certain smells
and barometric pressures.

He is the bomb
you can never disarm.

There were friends,
and there were gatherings,
glasses of wine with bread
and something green,
late evenings and lawn chairs,
my heels in my hand—
crossing the grass in my feet.
There was eagerness and sex
and each remembered
not to close the light
until the other was done reading.

All that gone like pages
of someone’s better news.

We have become creatures
of the waiting room,
We have come
to the front
in a war
we never wished,
a war

of theory,
of diagnosis;
of papers
in peer-reviewed journals,

a war
fought by Doctors
and men with scratching pads,
targeting
my son
in the name
of those unnamed
and therefore presumed

yet innocent.


Robert James: His is the Fire

It’s the way they look at him. No:
It is the way they do not look
at him, but look at us, their
saddened camel faces, empathizing,
scrutinizing, counting all
the vitamins listed on the panels
of his cereal; adding up
what little there is
that can evidence devotion—weighing
our level of day care expense, our choice
of school, weighing up the daily coal
we keep shoveling in.
His is the fire we feed.

At night, sometimes, he sits alone,
playing with the black cards in the deck,
repeating chains of words he’s found
in the middle of the air. Bone,
he whispers, bone and bone,
and lays the cards
in perfect rows of five,
a perfect five in every column,
until one is left—one is left
without position,
without rank or proper place
among the rest.
And then it starts again.

Bone, he whispers, bone and bone.
Burn
,
he whispers,
burn.


Lenny: Dr. Parker

Elenora “Lenny” Travis,
female, Caucasian, now thirty-five
but still attractive, despite
her history of depression, despite
a face on which sadness has left
its indelible marks.
The blonde rinsing out
of her hair.

She is near term, heavy
with her unplanned second child;
still heavy with her first child,
RJ, now ten, afflicted
from birth
with a complex spectrum disorder.
She does not bring him with her.
She will not bring him
here.

She has run the battery of genetic tests,
the sonographies, the needles
through the amniotic wall.
She has done her homework:
reads results like scripture,
pores over changes in testosterone levels,
gazes through the numbers like a seer,
tries to commandeer the ultrasound wand
from the nurse,
to peer from every angle
at the little girl
who rides the little waves inside
and carries the weight
of a wish
in her hands:
Who carries without knowing
the burden
of making all things better.


Robert James: Prayers

I have seen him here before,
early weekday mornings—arriving
some time before the anemic crowd
of regulars who make a daily habit
of the sacrament—sitting alone
in a pew near the back,
no missal, no bible in hand,
cast in shifting colors from the stained-glass
on the east, his head unbowed, he stares
into the blue vault of the apse,
the habit of his eyes
drawn upward to the glory
of the Risen Savior.

I know of him, I know
his kind, bits of trouble in
his history, loads of trouble
in his present,
a broken marriage, a broken child,
a lost job, a lost home,
a lost loved one,
a man who sees the water rising
to the threshold of his door,
and still
the rain dares come.
These are the things that bring men here,
fumbling in the early light
for the atrophied vocabulary
of unfamiliar faith.

God has no answers
for such questions as these.
Faith, we are prone to say,
is the only real answer.
Look not to God but to yourself.
And this is no answer at all,
we know,
but it is everything
we have to sell;
everything
we own,
except the bribe
of immorality
that we offer like sour candy on a stick.


RJ: Ten

He loves to sit here,
on the little tie-up dock
where the locals keep their boats,
trailing his left hand in the water,
drawing shapes that hold no shape
but on the living chalkboard
that he keeps behind is eyes.
Forever drawing, erasing,
then drawing
again.

Digger is ten.

He loves the water, the dapper minnows
in their silver coats, flashing just
below the surface. Pinkies he calls them,
always with a bubble of laughter
at the corners of his lips.
Pinkies pinkies pinkies,
he will shout with manic glee,
rolling on the dock,
seeming almost normal
in the context of such tangible summer.

He loves and fears so many things,
and every day with him
we negotiate the world
like the blind negotiating furniture
in a stranger’s living room:
We know the shapes
that things assume,
but never where to find them.

And the world, we must remind them:
He is not contagious, nor is he dangerous
or slow.
He lives in a far-off land of gestures
without words,
all his thoughts locked in his hands;
his ideas having no place they can go.





“red balloon of ecstasy”




Continuing this week with somewhat eccentric list of poets from my library, I have several selections by the French poetic prodigy Arthur Rimbaud. The poems are from the book, Arthur Rimbaud - A Season in Hell and Illuminations. The selections are from Illuminations.

Rimbaud, born in 1854, wrote all his poems in less than five years while still a young man. After a relatively short life of often painful adventure and frequent poverty, he died of cancer in 1891,

This is a bilingual book, the original French and English translation by Mark Treharne on facing pages.



Morning of Drunken Ecstasy

    Oh my Good! my Beauty! Hideous fanfare in which I do not falter! magical easel of torture! Hurrah for the unheard-of work and the wondrous body, for the first time! It began amid children’s laughter, it will end there. This poison will remain in all our veins even when the fanfare sours and returns us to former disharmony. But let us now, we so deserving of this torture, fervently muster the superhuman promise made to our created bodies and souls: that promise, that insanity. Refinement, knowledge, violence! We have been promised that the tree of good and evil shall be buried in darkness, that tyrannical proprieties shall be exiled, so that we can usher in the uncontaminated perfection of our love. It began with a certain disgust and it ended, - since we are unable to seize hold of this eternity here and now, - it ended in a riot of perfumes.
    Children’s laughter, discreet attention of slaves, austerity of virgins, horror of the faces and objects in this place, may you be hallowed by the memory of this vigil. It began in utter crudity, and now it ends in angels of fire and ice.
    Little drunken vigil, holy! if only for the mask with which you honored us. Method, we assert you! We don not forget that yesterday you glorified every stage of our lives. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life each day.
    This is the time of the Assassins.

(A side note: My son and his bandmate drew from Rimbaud’s “Illuminations” for the titles to the musical improvisations which make up their CD “chimeras, ideals, errors!” that is included with the purchase of my book “Seven Beats a Second.” Three of the titles are from this piece: “it ended in a riot of perfumes,” “we have faith in the poison,” and “it is the time of the assassins”)


~~~~


Ruts

    To the right the summer dawn awakens the leaves and the mists and the sounds of this corner of the park, and the slopes to the left hold their violet shadow over the thousand rapid ruts on carts laden with gilded wooden animals, poles and brightly striped canvas, the full gallop of twenty dappled circus horses, both children and men on the most amazing beasts; - twenty wagons, studded, hung with flags and painted with flowers like old coaches or ones out of fairy-tales, full of children dressed up for a suburban idyll; - Even coffins under their canopy of night raising their ebony plumes, moving past to the trot of the great blue-black mares.


~~~~


Seascape

The chariots of silver and copper -
The prows of steel and silver -
Beat the foam, -
Uproot he stumps of the bramble.
The currents of the heath
And the huge ruts of the ebb-tide
Flow off in circles to the east,
Towards the columns of the forest, -
Towards the tree-trunk of the jetty,
Its corner buffeted by whirlwinds of light.


~~~~


Barbaric

    Long after the days and the seasons, and the creatures and
the countries,
    The pavilion of bloodied meat on the silk of the seas and
Arctic flowers; (they do not exist.)
    Delivered from the old fanfares of heroism - which still attack
our hearts and heads - far from the old assassins -
    Oh! The pavilion of bloodied meat on the silk of the seas an
Sweetness!
    Blazing flames raining down in the squalls of frost, - Sweetness
- the fires in the wind’s diamond rain hurled out by the earth’s
core eternally burnt to ashes fro us - O world! -
    (Far from the old retreats and the old flames, which can be
heard, can be felt,)
    Blazing fires and foams. Music, swirling gulfs and the clash
of icicles on the stars.
    O Sweetness, o world, o music! And there, the shapes, sweats,
heads of hair, eyes, floating. Ant the white tears, boiling, - o
sweetness! - and the female voice reaching the depths of the
volcanos and he Arctic caves
    the pavilion...





“& Reba: intrepid travelers three”




My response to some piddly little rain we had off and on for a couple of days last week.



rather a pride of lions roaring

rain comes
soft and quiet

then goes

like a gray
cat

searching out
rumors

of food -

nice...

but i’d rather
hear

a pride of lions
roaring

storming

pounding loud
on tin roofs

all over
town





“should'a seen him before the lift and tuck”




Here’s a poem by Daniel Donaghy, from his book Street Fighting, a Paterson Poetry Prize finalist published in 2005 by BCC Press of the University of Missouri - Kansas City.

Donaghy was raised in Philadelphia and is assistant professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University. He has received artist grants from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation.



The Girl Who Taught Me Spanish

I stopped at the light where Pine
meets Fifth and thought of the time
I crashed my brother’s car there,
the loud crack of his bumper

against that screaming priest’s fender
ruining a night that was to climax
in Cookie Zuniga’s swimming pool,
her parents in Ocean city with no idea

the dirty Irish boy was coming over,
who’d planned all week to make love
to their daughter. My mind drifted
from the boards in Wood Shop

to her chestnut eyes, to the long mane
of hair she twisted into a braid
the way she knew I liked it,
the glazed bench I built resembling

her parent’s water-sealed dock so much
that I lay down on it and looked ahead
to Saturday - our suits heaped by the gate,
the moonlight gleaming on her

as she looked toward Heaven.
Amante! Amante! she’d moan,
calling me her lover in Spanish,
and I thought how great I’d be,

lasting until Sunday afternoon,
her parents halfway home
on the Garden State Parkway,
but then I saw her convulsing,
slapping her hands on my shoulders
like Shoemaker urging Swaps
that last quarter-mile, my words,
Hey, slow down, inaudible as she cried

Take me, take me Quixote!
the spastic moment I’d been hoping for
since I first saw her in the lunch room
approaching all too quickly,

until a horn blared from behind
and jolted me back to Philadelphia July,
children by an open hydrant,
an old man taping the windshield

with soft pretzels, into my brother’s car,
headed for an interview with Tasty-cake
on the Main Line. I thought hard
for a second, tried to recall the left,

then the right that would take me
to Cookie’s house, wondered if she still
lived there - pink curtains in her window,
pink suit tucked into the first drawer,

if she were sunbathing on such
a lovely afternoon, shades over her eyes,
top off, her oil-slicked breasts
glistening in the sharp sun.





“up a tree without a paddle”




Damn novas!



in my humble opinion

i could write
a poem
about politics

but whenever i do that
everybody
gets mad at me

or i could write
a poem
about religion

but that would leave
all my relatives
staying up nights praying

for my
endangered
soul

or i could write
about my amazing sports
career, except

i never had one,
amazing,
or otherwise

i could write
about all the beautiful women
who have lined up

to take me
in their arms
with seriously perverse

intentions,
but lying like that
would send me to hell

almost as fast
as my poems about
religion

i could write
a poem about what i did
last summer

though it is almost exactly
the same
as what i did this summer

and i write about all that
kind of boring stuff
all the time anyway

i could write
a poem about the weather
but everyone writes

poems
about the weather
and not a one of them

does
a damn thing about it
so what’s the point of being

just another
mealy-mouthed ineffectual poet
who never does a damn thing about

the weather
or anything else
for that matter...i’m thinking

maybe
i could write a poem
about all the reasons not

to write a poem
today
but then i do that a lot, too

so maybe i should just
not write a poem
today

and tell everyone, instead,
that i had to go to the hospital
for finger transplants

after using up
my initial set of digits
pounding out an epic poem

on my keyboard
which flared up from the intensity
of my effort and burned

like a nova
in a far galaxy
destroying in the conflagration

both my laptop
and the epic poem in it
which is now, unfortunately,

lost forever,
but what do you expect
from a nova in a far galaxy -

it’s pretty big deal
after all,
with universal impacts

of which
loss of my epic poem
is not the worst or grandest

though it is
pretty close to the top
in my humble opinion





“the old guard”




Dat’s all folks. It’s all owned by who done it, even mine which can be rented for the price of a credit.

I’m allen itz, owner and producer of this blog and it’s mine, all mine!

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Another Small Splash from the Shallow End   Thursday, July 22, 2010


V.7.4.




My friend Laurel Lamperd returns this week as my featured poet.

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

For images this week, I went back to the same thing I did last week. Photobucket calls the process “Color Splash.” As someone who doesn’t like to read instructions, directions, maps or advertisements, I never find out about stuff unless I stumbled on to it. I stumbled on to “Color Splash” last week. Unfortunately, at this time I don’t have the visual acuity, the steadiness of hand, or the patience to do it well, but I’m hoping I’ll bet better if I keep doing it.

Including Laurel, my poet line up this week is:


D.H. Lawrence
Green
Gloire De Dijon
Song of a Man Who Is Loved


Me
vanities

Susan Griffin
Grenadine

Me
a nice place to visit, shortly

Richard Brautigan
against conformity and averageism
maggots eating my brain
all the cities at once
a memory of life will be frozen in my eyes
phantom kiss
the wooer
white tiger and enchanted cave
the death of time


Me
in the news today

Georgia Douglas Johnson
Common Dust

Mae V. Cowdery
Farewell

Angela Weld Grimke
Glass Fingers

Laurel Lamperd
Madres of Plaza De Mayo
Voices from the Past
First Love
Child Labour
A Double Self-Portrait


Wendy Barker
Ceremonies for the Dead

Me
it’s the kind of thing nobody wants to talk about

Pablo Neruda
Not Only the Fire

Me
i saw a man looked like a friend long dead

Frank O’Hara
Les Etiquettes juanes
On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday


Me
conversations with Bob Marley



Some of my library guys this week are pretty dark and dour. Most of mine own poem are, at least meant to be, humorous. Maybe that’ll offset.








I start this week with several poems by D.H. Lawrence, from Selected Poems, published by Penguin Books in 1986.



Green

The dawn was apple-green
  The sky was green wine held up in the sun,
The moon was a golden petal between.

She opened her eyes, and green
  they shone, clear like flowers undone
For the first time, now for the first time seen.


Gloire De Dijon

When she rises in the morning
I linger to watch her;
She spreads the bath-cloth underneath the window
And the sunbeams catch her
Glistening white on the shoulders,
While down her sides the mellow
Golden shadow glows as
She stoops to the sponge, and her swung breasts
Sway like full-blown yellow
Gloire de Dijon roses.

She drips herself with water, and her shoulders
Glisten as silver, they crumple up
Like wet and falling roses, and I listen
For the sluicing of their rain-disheveled petals.
In the window full of sunlight
Concentrates her golden shadow
Fold on fold, until it glows as
Mellow as the glory roses.


Song of a Man Who Is Loved

Between her breasts is my home, between her breasts.
Three sides set on me space and fear, the fourth side rests.
Warm in a city of strength, between her breasts.

All day long I am busy and happy at my work
I need not glance over my shoulder in fear of the terrors that
  lurk
Behind. I am fortified, I am glad at my work.

I need not look after my soul; beguile my fear
With prayer, I need only come home each night to find the
  dear
Door on the latch, and shut myself in, shut out fear.

I need only come home each night and lay
My face between her beasts;
and what of good I have given the day, my peace attests.

And what I have failed in, what I have wronged
Comes up unnamed from her body and surely
Silent tongued I am ashamed.

And I hope to spend eternity
With my face down-buried between her breasts
And my still heart full of security
And my still hands full of her beasts.








Here, a poem produced as a result of trying to find something to read in Esquire that wasn’t an advertisement aimed at men’s vanity.



vanities

if
i was two inches taller
i’d be really really
happy
&
tall
too
not like all those fakey
Hollywood actors
who make their leading ladies
walk in trenches
so they won’t look like midgets
next to them

if
my belly was flatter
i’d be a sex-god
on the prowl
&
unlike those soccer guys
i’d score
every game
&
luck would have
nothing
to do with
it

if
my jaw-line
was a little stronger
i could be a captain of industry
admired
and envied by manly men
and a sex-object for sleek and desirable
women
like in Playboy
&
Victoria’s Secret
catalogues
&
other periodicals
i used
to hide under my bed
when i was
a kid...

such vanity
&
such obsession
with our body parts
and the impressions they might make
in a world
we assume is as obsessed
with us
and our particulars
as we are ourselves

such vanity,
usually ascribed to women,
though
truly
a vice shared by all
sexes,
men
women
and uncharted territories
between &
beyond

if bodily augmentation
were as easy
and routine with men
as with women,
half the men i know
would have
24 inch
dicks

trust me on
this








Next I have a poem by Susan Griffin, from her book Like the Iris of an Eye, published in 1976 by Harper & Row. The book brings together material new at the time, as well as work from her first three small press volumes, Dear Sky, 1971, Let Them Be Said, 1973, and Letter, 1974. She has published many collections of her work since.

Griffin, born in Los Angeles in 1943, is described as an eco-feminist author and describes her work as "drawing connections between the destruction of nature, the diminishment of women and racism, and tracing the causes of war to denial in both private and public life." She received a MacArthur grant for Peace and International Cooperation, an NEA Fellowship, and an Emmy Award for the play Voices.

She has resided in California all her life.



Grenadine

The movies, she told me
ruined my life.
We were sitting there
drinking bourbon and soda
flavored by grenadine.
I in the leather chair
that engulfed me
carrying me back,
on the television
a late movie
we weren’t watching,
its noise took up our silences.
She was fat from all her drinking
and her eyes darted
unfocused about the room
her voice jumped from deep
to high laughter.
Really, she said,
No kidding, she said,
I mean that. the
movies, she said,
curling her lip
and looking meanly
at George Sanders
on the TV.
“They,” she said,
pointing and accusing,
“tell you things about life
that aren’t true.”
She sat
staring a long time
trying to focus on my eyes.
“Hello, sweetie,” she said
and smiled at me
like a cockeyed hula dancer
from inside a ukulele.
She put her glass embellished with splashes of
gold on the metal TV tray
her feet on the leather stool.
She had i fixed
so she never had to move.
“Your father,” she said,
“he was a good man,
do you know why
we di-
vorced?”
“No.”
I stared at the
grenadine in my bourbon.
“Because of the movies,”
she said.
I blinked past her eyes
heaved in the leather chair
trying to upright myself
trying to refill my glass,
the television
busily selling cars,
my stepfather snoring on
the couch
like a giant vacuum cleaner.
She laughed
a high-pitched laugh and tried
her very best
to stare right at me
“We would go to the movies
your father and I.”
I nodded at her.
“And I’d come out
being Carole Lombard,
only he refused
to be Humphrey Bogart.”
We stared at each other,
the television
sticking to the sides of our faces
George Sanders pretending to be
evil pretending to be good
being unmasked by
Rosalind russell pretending
to be a lady reporter
pretending in real life
all she really wanted was
a home and family she said
to Ladies Home Journal reporter but
job of acting and stardom
thrust upon her
never found the right man.
“All the myths,” my mother
said. “I saw a movie
about, about
they made me think,” she said,
running off with another man
would be African jungle
beautiful in dark green
Don Ameche canoeing to
palace in wilderness
speaking mad poetry
of love
absolute lusty
freedomofitall
glorious spirit of man
kissing
in white bow tie
and unconquerable
white orchid
maraschino cherry red lips
she said
the made it look so glamourous
drinking her grenadine bourbon
and fell asleep,
my stepfather snoring
on the couch
while the dog
whined outside the screen door
to be let in.








Sitting on my patio at 5 a.m., a cool morning breeze from the south bringing, even this far away, hints of the coast.



a nice place to visit, shortly

chill
is the wind
that in the morning
comes

damply lisping
across
the salty plain

and hot the day
that from the steaming gulf
follows
near behind...

life
on a far-south coast,
high sun
brisk winds
and harbor lights
on sultry nights bobbing
on rising, falling
waves

for many
aquatically-minded people
a life they could never
leave

those of boats
and nets
and bonfires
dancing
on isolated beaches -

while those,
like me,
who prefer the crisp
of a mountain morning
to sandy awakenings
on a beach
crawling with skittering crabs,
those,
like me,
who admire the sight
of hawks circling
prey
hard-found
and honorably taken
over the screech of feathered rats
that mob the sky
to beg
any food their scavenging nature
spies

those,
like me,
who visit friends
near coastal waters,
but only rarely
and never for very long

for
there are coastal people
and there are
those,
like me,
who are not








The next several short poems are by Richard Brautigan, from The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings.

Brautigan, born in 1935, published ten novels and nine books of poetry. He is probably best known for his novel, Trout Fishing in America.

Called by some “the best of the beats,” he died in 1984.



against conformity and averageism

I hate,

because
they are evil
as habitual hunger
in a child’s stomach,

people
who try
to change man
the hunter for truth
into
a castrated cow
grazing
in the peace
of mental death.


maggots eating my brains

The maggots
will eat
the brains
that felt
and wondered
and wrote
these poems.

Let the maggots
have their fun

They
only
live once.


all the cities at once

Pretend
is
a city
bigger
than New York,
bigger
than
all the cities
at once.


a memory of life will be frozen in my eyes

The heads
of white chickens
lie in the mud and rain.

A memory
of life
is frozen in their eyes.

I wonder
what their last thought
was
as their heads
were chopped off.


phantom kiss

There
is no worse
hell
than
to remember
vividly
a kiss
that
never occurred.


the wooer

I will woo
you carefully
as somebody
(big)
planning
to cheat
somebody
(small).

I will woo
you
so carefully
that you
will get
so impatient
that you
will start
to woo me.

If that doesn’t work,
I’ll try something else.


white tiger and enchanted cave

I am
a white tiger
made
out of peppermint.

There is an enchanted cave
in your body
that I must enter,
so
that chills
will travel
in new buses
up and
down
our spines
as
we stare
at our
very own baby.


the death of time

Someday
Time
will die,
and
Love
will
bury it.








Sometimes you read something in the newspaper and immediately think, that can’t be right. Happens to me more and more often, lately.



in the news today

only
one thing worse
than a pedophile priest

says
the vatican today -

women priests...

you go
girl

you’re
number one!








Here are three poets from the anthology Shadowed Dreams - Women’s Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. The book was published in 1969 by Rutgers University Press.


The first of the three poets is Georgia Douglas Johnson and it comes from her book, Bronze: A Book of Verse, published in 1922.

Johnson was born in 1880 and died ini 1966. A poet, playwright, fiction writer, songwriter and journalist, she taught school in alabama and Washington D.C. before taking a job with the federal government after her husband’s death in 1925. For forty years, her home was an important meeting place for writers and artists.


Common Dust

And who shall separate the dust
What later we shall be:
Whose keen discerning eye will scan
and solve the mystery?

the high, the low, the rich, the poor,
The black, the white, the red
And all the chromatique between,
Of whom shall it be said:

Here lies the dust of Africa;
Here are the sons of rome;
Here lies the one unlabeled,
The world at large his home!

Can one then separate the dust?
Will mankind lie apart,
When life has settled back again
The same as from the start?


The next poet is Mae V. Cowdery with a poem from the journal The Crisis published in February, 1929.

Cowdery was born in 1909, the only child of a a caterer and a social worker. An early success, she was one of the few women in her generation to bring out a volume of her own work. Despite this success, she fell into complete obscurity after 1936. Described from this period as a highly intelligent woman bored and restless with the way her life had developed.

She died by suicide in 1953.

She is my favorite among the poets I have read so far from this book, seeming very contemporary and beyond the conventions of her time.


Farewell

No more
The feel of your hand
On my breast
Like the silver path
Of the moon
On dark heaving ocean.

No more
the rumpled softness
Of your hair
Like wind
In leafy shadowed trees.

No more
the lush sweetness
Of your lips
Like dew
On new-opened moonflowers.

No more
The drowsy murmurings
Of your voice
Like the faint twitter
Of birds before dawn

No more
The poignant melody
Of hours spent
Between moonlight
And sunrise
Like the song
Of a crystal river
Going out to sea...

Only the awful sound
Of silence
In that hour
Before dawn
When the moon has waned,
The stars died,
And the sun is buried in the mist.


And my last poet from the anthology is Angela Weld Grimke, with this poem from the journal Carolina Dusk in 1929.

Grimke was born in Boston in 1880, the only child of an emancipated slave and Harvard Law School graduate and a well-to-do white woman who left the marriage when Grimke was very young.

She attended the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics and then became a teacher at prestigious Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. She wrote plays and short stories, as well as poetry, but quit her literary career in 1930, after the death of her father.

She died in seclusion in New York City in 1958.


Grass Fingers

Touch me, touch me,
Little, cool grass fingers,
Elusive, delicate grass fingers,
with your shy brushings;
Touch my face -
My naked arms -
My thighs -

My feet.
Is there nothing that is kind?
You need not fear me.
Soon I shall be too far beneath you
For you to reach me, even
With your tiny, timorous toes.








Here are five poems as promised from my featured poet, Laurel Lamperd.


Madres of Plaza De Mayo

         for hebe de bonafini

What do they remember
in their quiet time?
Is the memory sharper
the ear keener
mothers of the disappeared?

The thrust of birth
soft head upon the milky breast
hand guiding the eager mouth
first steps daring the world
treble voices calling down the long years
mama, mama.

The rain falls like tears
uncovering bones in the earth
washing away rivers of blood
streams of anger swelling in torrents
leaving behind
the grief of the mothers.


Voices from the Past

She sent a card
in sympathy for Tom's death
with a note attached.
She had got religion
and wanted to atone
for the affair she and Tom
had in that mining town
thirty years ago.

Our children were in nursery school.
I thought she was my friend
But in preserving
her peace of mind
she has shattered mine.


First Love

When I knew it
the house was cream
with green painted wood.
The suburb was lower class then.
We sat on the verandah
amid a chorus of crickets.
The air was like honey.
We kissed
with sometimes an intimate caress
but nothing more.
The spectre of pregnancies
loomed between us.
We dreamt
of engagements and weddings
then my father got a job in another town.
We were gone within the week.


Child Labour

biography

Sold at five.
 Chained
   beaten
    starved
     raped.


At fourteen

Damaged -
   eyesight from close work.

Damaged -
      lungs from wool fluff.

First world countries

Woven bed spreads
stacked on supermarket shelves
made in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.

The shopping crowd
admires, touches, buys
the brightly woven cloth.

Step softly, buyer.
You may tread
on the soul of a child


A Double Self-Portrait

         Painting by Howard Taylor

He was a mixed up sort of man
all triangles and squares
set in frames
like walls, fences
as we surround ourselves
There were two of him.
The private man behind the public
looking out on the world
with a square eye.








The next poem is by scholar and poet Wendy Barker, from her book Way of Whiteness, published in 2000 by Wings Press of San Antonio. It is the second and most recent of her books I own.

Barker, a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Rockerfeller Foundation fellowships, as well as the Mary Elimore Smith Poetry Prize from The American Scholar and the Southwest Women Artists and Writers Award for Poetry, was a Fulbright senior lecturer to Bulgaria and is a professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.



Ceremonies for the Dead

1.

I have never learned the right way
to say goodbye. Friends drift
to another section of the river
and by the time you look up from your own
thrashings to stay afloat, they are so far
even a shrill call won’t find them.
All you can do is keep up with the current
that pushes you cold on to the river’s mouth.

2.

When that student died to me he was holding
a flask of olive oil in his hand, his gift.
In the car, we said goodbye
to the people we had been.
I don’t know who hi is now.
I don’t know who either of us is becoming.

3.

So little warning. The grizzled friend
whose jokes we are still trying to retell
died after successful prostate surgery.
In Tuscany together we had all walked
through the Estruscan museum, studying
cinerary urns. Who had fashioned the statuary
of the dead whose cinders lived inside?
Who decided the shape that determined
how one would be remembered?
A man reclining, leaning on an elbow,
other arm pointing to a ship.
Was this the gesture he wanted us to know?
Perhaps, instead, it would have been
a kiss on his daughter’s forehead.

4.

It takes four handwritten pages
for my old friend from college to say
she is ending our friendship
and I am not to write back.
She must be no longer
the woman I have loved and yet
I will do as she says, I will not write.
But neither will I destroy her letter
and when her birthday comes round
again, I will not forget.

5.

This is what it comes to. The air that passes
in and out of pores until it is no longer
your air or mine, simply the woven threads
of our lungs’ shuttles, all of our
heavings, exchanged. Whose is whose?
To continue the small regular breathings.
There will be no cinerary urn.
No one will be commissioned.








So, OK, I’ll talk about it.



it’s the kind of thing nobody wants to talk about

as a diabetic,
i know
you got to keep your feet

in good condition
because,
while feet come and go

in this world,
once your own personal feet are gone,
there is no second coming -

except
in a theological sense
where i’m told

when playing
in the Tennis Courts
of the Lord

you do it
on your own two feet,
reconstituted

like freeze-dried
scrambled eggs, since,
the story goes,

when lost to you
in your earthly life,
try were not really lost,

just
stored in the Walk-In
Freezer

of the Lord
until your ascension through
the Pearly Gates of the Lord

for your every-lasting
reward on the
Tennis & Food Courts of the Lord...

but nobody’s told me
what happens
if,

in the event
more likely in my case,
the Pearly Gates of the Lord

are not seen
by my
dead eyes

but warmer climes,
instead, are to be my fate,
an eternity spent

dancing on the hot
rocks
of hell ever-lasting

instead of basking by the Cabanas of the Lord,
will i be dancing
on my own reconstituted

scrambled-egg legs
dispatched
from the Walk-In Freezer of the Lord

immediately
upon determination
of my eternal status

or will i be forced
to do the Savoy Stomp
forever

on the stumps
of my carelessly
misplaced feet...

it’s the kind of thing
nobody
wants to talk about








The next poem is by Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner, Pablo Neruda. The poem was written in 1952 while he was in exile on the island of Capri. I have taken it from The Captain’s Verses - The Love Poems published in 1972, a year before his death, by New Directions.

It is a bilingual book, with the poet’s original Spanish and an English translation by Donald D. Walsh on facing pages.



Not Only the Fire

Ah yes, I remember,
ah your closed eyes
as if filled from within with black light,
your whole body like an open hand,
like a white cluster from the moon,
and the ecstasy,
when a lightningbolt kill us,
when a dagger wounds us in the roots,
and a light strikes our hair,
and when
again we gradually
return to life,
as if we emerge from the ocean,
as if from the shipwreck
we returned wounded
among the stones and the red seaweed

But
there are other memories,
not only flowers from the fire
but little sprouts
that suddenly appear
when I go on trains
or in the streets.

I see you
washing my handkerchiefs,
hanging at the window
my worn-out socks,
your figure on which everything,
all pleasure like a flare-up,
fell without destroying you,
again,
little wife
of every day,
again a human being,
humble human,
proudly poor,
as you have to be in order to be
not the swift rose
that love’s ash dissolves
but all of life,
all of life with soap and needles,
with the smell that I love
of the kitchen that perhaps we shall not have
and in which your hand among the fried potatoes
and your mouth singing in the winter
until the roast arrives
would be for me the permanence
of happiness on earth.

Ah my life,
it is not only the fire that burns between us
but all of life,
the simple story,
the simple love
of a woman and a man
like everyone.








I was having breakfast, looked up and it was like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, “doing the time warp again.”



i saw a man looked like a friend long dead

i saw a man
looked exactly
like a friend dead
more than

twenty years -
and how i had to fight
the urge to think of him
as my friend

returned
to this life or
never dead at all...
it is as if

there is a presence
that is part of us all
that hangs on
even as the fleshy parts

expire
and return
to the base elements
that gave us our place

in the temporal world,
of pinch and prod,
piss and sweat
and blood

and boils
and lust overpowering -
the temporal world of
rejections and erections

and bodies plush and softly
alluring, summoning
the thrusts of life
passed from one to another

for completion...
a cycle of flesh
fulfilling the purpose
of its arrangement

of elements
in all the mysterious
intricacies
that made my friend
and his eventual ending

as old cars
in a junk yard
are slowly diminished
to rust on oily earth -

and perhaps
in all this carefully
orchestrated
frenzy

there are shadow parts
made
but never firmly bonded
and therefore never

extinguished -
like the trick birthday candles
that can’t be blown out -
shadows

that roam after the end
of that which made them,
seeking an appropriate host, not ghosts,
but the never-were essences

of those completed and gone
to finish the cycle
of creation and dissolution,
shadow parts that roam

until they find themselves
a place to be
in people who look so like
people i used to know








Here are two poems by Frank O’Hara, from his book Meditations in an Emergency, published by New Directions, first in 1957, then in a second edition in 1967 after his death.

I did an online translation of the title of the first poem and ended up with “sentence the yellow labels,” which, except for the color, means nothing to me in relation to the title.

Oh well, that’s why french always confuses me. They basically can’t spell.



Les Etiquettes juanes

I picked up a leaf
today from the sidewalk.
This seems childish.

Leaf! you are so big!
How can you change your
color, then just fall!

As if there were no
such thing as integrity!

You are too relaxed
to answer me. I am too
frightened to insist.

Leaf! don’t be neurotic
like the small chameleon.


On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday

blue windows, blue rooftops
and the blue light of the rain,
these contiguous phrases of Rachmaninoff
pouring into my enormous ears
and the tears falling into my blindness

for without him I do not play,
especially in the afternoon
on the day of his birthday. Good
fortune, you would have been
my teacher and I your only pupil

and I would always play again.
Secrets of Liszt and Scriabin
whispered to me over the keyboard
on unsunny afternoons! and growing
still in my stormy heart.

Only my eyes would be blue as I played
and you rapped my knuckles,
dearest father of all the Russias,
placing my fingers
tenderly upon you cold, tired eyes.






Was listening to an old Bob Marley CD last night. Fine work.



conversations with Bob Marley

"If you know your history
Then you would know where you coming from"
     Buffalo Soldiers


men so old
each year
is like another
crack
in the leather
of a well-worn shoe -

nothing more...

they do not acknowledge
time
and time does not
reckon
them

as they live on
and on

survivors...

blood relics...

like
all
they will die

but it will not be in
my time


"Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!"
     Get Up: Stand Up


a bowl
of tomato soup,
saltine crackers,
and a glass of water

the rights of a man,
they say
do not extend
to a bowl
of tomato soup,
saltine crackers,
and a glass of water...

not
here
anyway,
not at this counter

not now,
not today...

no,
until today!


"They say what we know
Is just what they teach us"
     Ambush in the Night


i
know
i know
what my daddy
knew,
what his daddy
knew,
and what his daddy’s
daddy knew

unto
the 12th generation

and
that’s all i need
to know


"Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
Make you want to move your dancing feet"
     The Sun Is Shining


a baby
walking

walking now
on grass

a
baby
running

grass
tickling his feet

a baby
dancing


"Can't tell the woman from the man, no I say you can't
Cause they're dressed in the same pollution
Their mind is confused with confusion
With their problems since there's no solution"
     Midnight Ravers


juvie hall
1
a.m.

reality
of hot nights
and cold lights

bare
and empty rooms

strikes

then fades
away

forgotten

until
next time


"We gonna chase those crazy
Baldheads out of town"
     Baldheads


old men

old women

death grip
on life

true
to long ago
long
gone


"Misty morning, don't see no sun
I know you're out there somewhere, having fun"
     Misty Morning


day’s light
lost

sucked
into indefinite
swirling

we see
what we want
to see

we see
what we fear
to see

we see
ghosts of our
worst nights

indefinitely
swirling


"Long time we no have no nice time,
Doo-yoo-dee-dun-doo-yea.
Think about that."
     Nice Time


life
is joy
leaping on
those
prepared to carry
the load

prepare
yourself for joy
leaping

have a
nice time
while you can...

it’s
no deposit -
no return...

if you don’t use it
someone else will








Time to buzz off until next week.

As you might have guessed all of the material in this blog remains the property of those who created it. My stuff is also my stuff, but you can borrow it if you promise to properly credit me and “Here and Now.”

I am allen itz, owner, producer, and big enchilada of this blog, and now we’re done.

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A Small Splash of Summer Color   Thursday, July 15, 2010


V.7.3.





I think I’ve recovered from my meager effort last week, with five poems by friend and feature poet Dan Cuddy, as well as some pictures that I’ve tried to give a little twist, something I have never tried to do before.

And, of course, good stuff from my library, and several poems of my own that I’m more pleased with than some of the other stuff I’ve been doing recently.

Getting right on with it, here’s the week’s line up.

Robert Hass
A Supple Wreath of Myrtle
Bush’s War
Futures in Lilacs


Me
finally, a solution to the too damn many brown people problem

Anna Akhmatova
from Plantain

Me
deciding which kind is which kind

Henry Coulette
The Black Angel
Once
The Sickness of Friends


Me
the end of a summer night

Jane Hirshfield
Mulberries
Mele in Gabbia
Wine Grapes for Breakfast
he Bearded Woman
Lying


Me
another theory may be required

Charles Bukowski
it’s difficult when bananas eat monkeys
old man with a cane


Dan Cuddy
Replacement Poem for the Naked Romantic
A Fat Man’s Confession
What A Mix It Is
A Poem That May or May Not Be About July
Examining


Lu Yu
Leaving the Monastery Early in the Morning
Rain on the River
Evening in the Village


Me
anti-war poems are easy

Nanao Sakaki
Wind Speaks
Forevergreen
A Message


Me
you can’t see the tree until you’ve seen the forest









I start this week with three poems by Robert Hass, a long one bookended by two short ones. The poems are from Time and Materials, Poems 1997-2005. The long poem, probably the best anti-war poem - a genre I’m usually suspicious of - I’ve ever read.

California-born poet Hass teaches at the University of California. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997.



A Supple Wreath of Myrtle

Poor Nietzsche in Turin, eating sausage his mother
Mails to him from Basel. A rented room,
A small square window framing August clouds
Above the mountain. Brooding on the form
Of things: the dangling spur
Of an Alpine columbine, winter-tortured trunks
Of cedar in the summer sun, the warp in the aspen’s trunk
Where it torqued up through the snowpack.

“Everywhere the wasteland grows; woe
To him whose wasteland is within.”

Dying of syphilis. Trimming a luxuriant mustache.
In love with the opera of Bizet.


Bush’s War

I typed the brief phrase, “Bush’s War,”
At the top of a sheet of white paper,
Having some dim intuition of a poem
Made luminous by reason that would,
Though I did not have them at hand,
Set the facts out in an orderly way.
Berlin is a northerly city. In May
At the end of the twentieth century
In the leafy precincts of Dahlem Dorf,
South of the Grunewald, near Krumme Lanke,
The northern spring begins before dawn
In a racket of birdsong, when the amsels,
Black European thrushes, shiver the sun up
As if they were shaking a great tangle
Of golden wire. There are two kinds
Of flowering chestnuts, red and white,
And the wet pavements are speckled
With petals from the incandescent spikes
Of their flowers; the shoes at U-Bahn stops
Are flecked with them. Green of holm oaks,
Birch tassels, the soft green of maples,
And the odor of lilacs is everywhere.
At Oskar-Helene-Heim station a farmer
Sells white asparagus from a heaped table.
In a month he’ll be selling chanterelles;
In the month after that, strawberries
and small, rosy crawfish from the Spree.
The piles of stalks of the asparagus
Are startlingly phallic, phallic and tender
And deathly pale. Their seasonal appearance
Must be the remnant of some fertility ritual
Of the German tribes. Steamed, they are the color
Of old ivory. In May, in restaurants
They are served on heaped white platters
With boiled potatoes and parsley butter,
Or shavings of Parma ham and lemon juice
Or sprigs of sorrel and smoked salmon. And,
Walking home in the slant, widening,
Brilliant norther light that falls
On the new-leaved birches and the elms,
Nightingales singing at the first, subtlest,
Darkening of the dusk, it is a trick of the mind
that the past seems just ahead of us,
As if we were being shunted there
In the surge of a rattling funicular.
Flash forward: firebombing of Hamburg,
Fifty thousand dead in a single night,
“The children’s bodies the next day
Set in the street in rows like a market
In charred children.” Flash forward:
firebombing of Tokyo, a hundred thousand
In a night. Flash forward: forty-five
Thousand Polish officers slaughtered
By the Russian army in the Katyn Woods,
The work of half a day. Flash forward:
Two million Russian prisoners of war
Murdered by the German army all across
The eastern front, supplies low,
Winter of 1943. Flash: Hiroshima.
Flash: Auschwitz, Dachau, Thersienstadt,
The train lurching and the stomach woozy
Past the displays of falls of hair, the piles
Of monogrammed valises, spectacles. Flash:
The gulags, seven million in Byelorussia
and Ukraine. In innocent Europe on a night
In string, among the light-struck birches,
Students holding hands. One of them
Is carrying a novel, the German translation
Of a slim book by Marguerite Duras
About a love affair in old Saigon. (Flash:
Two million Vietnamese, fifty-thousand
Of the American young, whole races
Of tropical birds extinct from Saturation bombing)
The kind of book the young love
To love, about love in time of war.
Forty-five million, all told, in World War II.
In Berlin, pretty Berlin, in the springtime,
You are never not wondering how
It happened, and these Germans, too,
Children then, or unborn, never not
Wondering. Is it that we like the kissing
And bombing together, in prospect
At least, girls in their flowery dresses?
Someone will always want to mobilize
Death on a massive scale for economic
Domination or revenge. And the task, taken
As a task, appeals to the imagination.
The military is an engineering profession.
Look at boys playing: they love
To figure out ways to blow things up.
But the rest of us have to go along.
Why do we do it? Certainly there’s a rage
To injure what’s injured us. Wars
Are always pitched to us that way.
The well-paid news readers read the reasons
On the air. And the us who are injured,
Or have been convinced that we are injured,
Are always identified with virtue. It’s
That - the rage to hurt mixed up
With self-righteousness - that’s murderous.
the young Arab depilated himself as an act
Of purification before he drove the plane
Into the office building. It’s not just
The violence, it’s a taste of power
That amounts to contempt for the body.
The rest of us have to act like we believe
The dead women in the rubble of Baghdad
Who did not cast a vote for their deaths
Or the raw white of the exposed bones
In the bodies of their men or their children
Are being given the gift of freedom
Which is the virtue of the injured us.
It’s hard to say which is worse, the moral
sloth of it or the intellectual disgrace.
And what good is indignation to the dead?
And death the cleanser, Walt Whitman’s
Sweet death, the scourer, the tender
Lover, shutter of eyelids, turns
The heaped bodies into summer fruit,
Magpies eating dark berries in the dusk
And birch pollen staining sidewalks
to the faintest gold. Bald nur - Goethe - no,
Worte nur, bald ruhest du auch. Just wait.
You will be quiet soon enough. In Dahlem,
under the chestnuts, in the leafy spring.


Futures in Lilacs

“Tender little Buddha,” she said
Of my least Buddha-like member.
She was probably quoting Allen Ginsberg,
Who was probably paraphrasing Walt Whitman.
After the Civil War, after the death of Lincoln,
That was a good time to own railroad stocks,
But Whitman was in the Library of Congress,
Researching alternative Americas,
Reading up on the curiosities of Hindoo philosophy,
Studying the etchings of stone carvings
Of strange couplings in a book.

She was taking off a blouse,
Almost transparent, the color of a silky tangerine.
From Capitol Hill Walt Whitman must have been able to see
Willows gathering the river haze
In the cooling and still-humid twilight.
He was in love with a trolley conductor
In the summer of - what was it? - 1867? 1868?








Here it is, next item on the Arizona to-do list.



finally, a solution to the too damn many brown people problem

in the news next week:

the State of Arizona,
continuing to lead the national
battle

against the plague
of too many
brown-tinged people

who are not maids
nannies
yard boys or asparagus

pickers,
has approved a new law
requiring

anyone
with a complexion
darker than

a lighter shade of pale
to carry on their person
a state-issued

certificate
of membership
in an authorized tanning

salon -
thus, putting to an end
the present willy-nilly pollution

of this great land of the
white
and home

of our full-sheeted,
pointy-headed
klansmen -

boooorah, boooorah,
long shall their white sheets
wave

amen








Next, I have poems by Russian poet Anna Akmatova, from the book You Will Hear Thunder, published by Ohio University Press in 1985.

Akmatova, who lived from 1889 to 1966, had the kind of complicated and often dangerous life of most intellectuals and artists who came to maturity before the revolution of 1917 and then had to try to come to terms with life after the revolution, a life of official discouragement and often persecution. But through her life, in good times and bad, she was known and often revered by her fellow poets and by the ordinary people of Russia. Five thousand mourners, mostly young, crowded into her requiem mass in a Leningrad church.

The poems in the book were translated from Russian by D.M. Thomas.



from Plantain

Now farewell, capital,
Farewell, my spring,
Already I can hear
Karelia yearning.

Fields and kitchen-gardens
Are green and peaceful,
The waters are still deep,
And the skies still pale.

and the marsh rusalka,
Mistress of those parts,
Gazes, sighing, up at
The bell-tower cross.

And the oriole, friend
Of my innocent days,
Has flown back from the south
And cries among the branches

That it’s shameful to stay
Until May in the cities,
To stifle in theaters,
Grow bored on the islands.

But the oriole doesn’t know,
Rusalka won’t understand,
How lovely it is
Kissing him!

All the same, right now,
On the day’s quiet slope,
I’m gong. God’s land,
Take me to you!

1917


I hear the oriole’s always grieving voice,
and the rich summer’s welcome loss I hear
In the sickle’s serpentine hiss
Cutting the corn’s ear tightly press to ear.

And the short skirts of the slim reapers
Fly in the wind like holiday pennants,
The clash of joyful cymbals, and creeping
From under dusty lashes, the long glance.

I don’t expect love’s tender flatteries,
In premonition of some dark event,
But come, come and see this paradise
Where together we were blessed and innocent.

1917, Summer


Now no-one will be listening to songs.
The days long prophesied have come to pass.
The world has no more miracles. Don’t break
My heart, song, but be still: you are the last.

Not long ago you took your morning flight
With all a swallow’s free accomplishment.
Now that you are a hungry beggar-woman,
Don’t go knocking at the stranger’s gate.

1917


The cuckoo I asked
How many years I would live...The
Pine tops shivered,
A yellow shaft fell to the grass.
In the fresh forest depths, no sound...
I am going
Home, and the cool wind
Caresses my hot brow.

1919, 1 June


Why is our century worse than any other?
Is it that in the stupor of fear and grief
It has plunged its fingers in the blackest ulcer,
Yet cannot bring relief?

Westward the sun is dropping,
And the roofs of towns are shinning in its light.
Already death is chalking doors with crosses
And calling the ravens and the ravens are in flight.

1919


from Anno Domini

Everything is looted, spoiled, despoiled,
Death flickering his black wig,
Anguish, hunger - then why this
Lightness overlaying everything?

By day, cherry-scent from an unknown
Wood near the town. July
Holding new constellations, deep
At night in the transparent sky -

Nearer to filthy ruined houses
Flies the miraculous...
Nobody has ever known it,
This, always so dear to us.

1921


They wiped your slate
With snow, you’re not alive.
Bayonets twenty-eight
And bullet-holes five.
It’s a bitter present,
Love, but I’ve sewed it.
Russia, an old peasant
Killing his meat.

1921








This poem came from something I overheard in a bookstore.



deciding which kind is which kind

so i was
in the bookstore

and i saw this little boy
run up to his mom

with a book,
“mommy, i want this book”

he said,
“you can’t have that book”

she said,
“but i want it”

he said,
“you can’t have it”

she said,
“it’s a girl’s book”

so he says,
“okay, mommy”

and heads back
to the children’s book section

to find
a boy’s book

and i’m left
with questions

like
whose job is it to decide

which kind of book
is which kind of book

is it the librarian,
after she returns all the returns

to their proper shelves
and straightens the magazine racks

and makes a list
of the overdue books

not returned today,
does she go to the children’s

book section
and search every book

page by page
cataloguing the little boy penises

and the little girl vaginas
that distinguish the one kind of book

from the other kind of book
and mark it with the appropriate stamp

so no mistakes of identification
can lead a little boy to reading

a little girl book
and vice-versa

and does she keep a list
of which kind of book each kind of book

is








The next poems are by Henry Coulette, from the book The Collected Poems of Henri Coulette, published in 1990 by The University of Arkansas Press.

Coulette’s story as a poet is very interesting. I’ve told many times now of how his second book was accidentally shredded by his publisher and his decision to remain silent for years after. I’ll leave it to you to google the rest of it.



The Black Angel

Where are the people as beautiful as poems,
As calm as mirrors,
With their oceanic longings -
The idler whom reflection loved,
The woman with the iridescent brow?
For I would bring them flowers.

I think of a friend too much moved by music
Who turned to games
And made a game of boredom,
Of that one too much moved by faces
Who turned his face to the wall, of of that marvelous liar
Who turned at last to truth.

They are the past of what was always future.
The speak in tongues,
Silently, about nothing.
They are like old streetcars buried at sea,
In the wrong element, and with no place to go....
I will not meet her eye,

Although I shall, but here’s a butterfly,
And a white flower,
And the moon rising on my nail.
This is the presence of things present,
Where flying woefully is like closing sweetly,
And there is nothing else.


Once

Remember those gently kooks
who would stand at the crossroads,
directing traffic, Sundays?

And Grandfather Patterson
in his rocker, whistling down
the beagle in the painting?

And the blind Negress who talked
to herself in a language
all her own, at the corner?

They have disappeared, stealing
the ice cards out of windows,
the cloth fronts f radios.

We tolerated much, once.
Grass grew through our cracked sidewalks,
and the rag man cried and cried.


The Sickness of Friends

Do I give off in the wee,
small hours a phosphorescent
glow, perhaps, like rotting wood?

Am I in the Yellow Pages?
I am sick of the sickness
within me that so lures them

to their phones when the night stops
in a dead calm: “H’llo.” It’s dick,
who can’t bear to be alone;

or Jane, who needs a father;
or Spot, who leads a dog’s life.
Even the operator

has twin raw scars on her wrists,
but I’m fine, unmarked, floating
in the bath of their self-love.








Early mornings in San Antonio have been nice, a few moments in the early light before the heat of the day settles in.



the end of a summer night

up at 5:30,
then a half hour doze
on the patio

as daylight
begins to creep
between the trees

across the creek
people wake
and stir

signs of life
like the birds
that sing -

not doves this morning,
their soft sighs
as the sun begins to begin

its morning rise
missing,
more insistent cries instead

wake up wake up
the birds call
and the dogs oblige

first on the left
then on the right
then on the other side of the creek

then our own dogs,
Peanut, sitting beside me,
our not-so-smart dog

and finally,
Reba,
inside, awakened

from her sleep by the bed,
now at the door
wanting out, her job to do

whatever the threat
being signaled by all the rest,
the aged sentry’s sentries -

6:00 o’clock now,
and the dogs
and the traffic thumping

over the bridge
signal
the end of a summer night

and the beginning of my
day








Here are several short poems by Jane Hirshfield. The poems are from her book, The Lives of the Heart, published by HarperCollins in 1997.



Mulberries

By the time
the low branches
ripen the pigeons are fat,
and can be generous.
Just so, let
the gods take what they want
of this wold and its high nectars -
Know they will leave
the stews and the nipple’s erectness,
the unguarded, late-sweetening
pleasures.


Mele in Gabbia

The pastry
is dusted with sugar.
The slices of apple inside,
just sour enough.

The name,
“apples in a cage.”

I hear them
in this good place -
the pastry warm,
a little bit chewy,
the linen
impeccably white -
and consider.


Wine Grapes for Breakfast

Sweet
at first
on the tongue,
hours later
the red grapes
still sting,
as if trying
to tell me something -
what the hook
tells the fish
perhaps,
of the wand
or stick hears
before the conductor
or mule driver
brings it down.


The Bearded Woman

Each time she noticed,
she had meant
to pluck the three black hairs,
but the days were short;
her fingers touched her chin
then forgot.
Thus fatigue grew curling into wisdom.


Lying

He puts his brush to the canvas,
with one quick stroke
unfolds a bird from the sky.
Steps back, considers.
Takes pity.
Unfolds another.








I hate to oversleep. Seems when I do I’m behind all day and never catch up.

Not the way I’d run things.



another theory may be required

big family dinner
last night

a table-full and more

brisket, bar-b-cued
Texas style, beans, rice
potato salad, cream corn,
pico de gallo, and guacamole

and a large fruit salad for desert

lots of talking, laughing -
a couple of generations worth

stayed up late,
slept well, but too
long this morning by an hour

the sun came up anyway

a disappointment,
since i have been convincing myself

that i made the rooster crow
who makes the sun rise
that makes the birds sing
who makes the day begin...

now,
obviously,
another theory may be required

explaining
how planetary orbits
and the circumference of the sun
are affected by surfeits of brisket,
bar-b-cued Texas style,
loosing, through the resulting
gravitational shifts,
forces that are,
in Einstein’s words, as yet
unexplained

thus,
starting things without me








Here are two poems by Charles Bukowski, from Open All Night, one of the seemingly endless supply of books of previously unpublished poems that have come out since his death.

Both these poems left me laughing at the end.



it’s difficult when bananas eat monkeys

it’s partly the burning and it’s partly the muddy
water and partly the voices -
(the faces i’ve adjusted to; the years have given
me something)
but when the faces
speak
it makes no pleasure to linger in the crowd.

maybe the truly original man doesn’t exist. I
have never met him.

sometimes I think it will be the parking lot attendant. he
walks toward me. he smiles, ah, here it comes, I
think.

then he says, “hi sport,” or something else equally flat and
dumb.

I reply with a sentence that sails over his
left shoulder and flames out
on a green balcony across the
street.

I give him my keys
I give him my car

he drives off and I walk into the
place.

the hostess walks
up. “yes?” she
says.

yes, what? I’ve got to eat so I can
live. I follow her buttocks
(they have a certain minor charm) but I keep
thinking
I’ve to to tip that son-of-a-bitch out there
when he should be
guillotined.


old man with a cane

I was walking to
the betting window when I heard loud voices coming
from the stairwell near the bar.
a young man was screaming at an old guy with a
cane who had just passed where he sat
on the stairway.

“you farted in my face, you old fuck!”

the old man turned around, pointed his cane
at the young man.

“up your ass!”

I stopped and watched, a whole row of drinkers
at the bar and the bartender watched too.

“you old fuck!” screamed the young man, “I’ll
kick your ass!”

“looks to me,” said the old man, “like you’re
afraid to stand up on your feet and try.”

“I’ll kick your ass!” screamed the young man,
“you think I won’t kick your ass?”

“bullshit,” said the old man.
then he turned and slowly walked off.

I watched him leave.
then as I passed the bar
one of the patrons smiled at me:

“that old man either was drunk or he’s pretty brave!”

“yeah,” said another patron, “that old man
was a tough old bird!”

“I wouldn’t want to mess with him!”
said a third.

as I moved off I looked at the row of men
sitting at the bar where they had remained
without moving during the argument.
and the young man still sat on the
steps thinking about the fart and maybe a few
other things.

some days are much more interesting
than others.








Maryland poet Dan Cuddy is one of my Poem-a-Day housemates on the Blueline forum. He is unusual in that he never dogs it.

I’ll admit I do, and so, I think do most of us - some days, the well is dry and the best we can do is come up with some trifle, just for the count, so we can say we didn’t skip a day.

Dan never does that. Every day for him, is a full-bore, guts-to-the-wall shot at a classic. And he most often succeeds.

Here are five of the poems he’s written so far this month.



Replacement Poem for the Naked Romantic

Ambushed
the computer ambushed my latest rant and rave
shot in the back
no hint that I couldn't change the screen
without loss

the title of that lost poem?
"The Naked Romantic On The Elevator".
More interesting than this ode to electronic betrayal.

I gnash teeth.
Gnashing hurts the heart.

Lost is my justification
for being a romantic
and the big scene as the thought police
carry me way
my arms and legs moving
like a captured insect
to be squashed.

Maybe that striking out of existence
of that previous poem
the naked emotion
hopping on and off the elevator
at various floors of the social strata
is the revenge
of the Super Ego.

Oh, freuded again.
The trash-talking poet,
the figment in his own imagination,
the idiot who didn't make it a rule
to copy
even the most inglorious of texts

and so
this too long poem
just like the lost too long poem
proceeds
to be little more
than a three year old
kicking off his shoes.


A Fat Man’s Confession

you
(I-you-he-she-it)
should never write a poem about
the mass of fat in your own stomach
the beach ball stays too inflated
you can't tell if you are pigeon-toed
knock-knee'd
toothpick-legged or what

and fat is ugly
UGLY
UGH-LY
never do you see a fat leading man or lady
on stage, screen, television
unless a comedy

and so I have become a comedian
bouncing out on stage
arms and legs like eyes in a potato

the vigorous, rigorous, dedicated thin ones say
walk-run-lift-push away from the maHOGaknee table
but you are a chocolate ice-cream loving fool
your one pleasure in life is eating
you can't find your sex on the bottom of your beach ball
you can't run fast or long enough to enjoy a sprinter's breeze
you can't be romantic beneath the full moon
without thinking of your plump lumpy derriere
no
eating is the only pleasure
your taste of life
you slurp soup like a snake does in a mouse
you chew like a pepper grater
your taste buds tingle with Dijon mustard
your sweet tooth dons a cape of sugar
and with all that hydrocarbon energy
you are superman
big S written with magic marker on your chest
until the sugar high dives to a sugar low
and S stands for Sap
you sit with a napkin on your lap
your head tilted back
a short enervating snoring after lunch nap

Fat-stomachs must avoid mirrors
the starch-vampires
they are always biting into breads, cakes, cheese
drinking swills of swell high calorie beers
they can not bear mirrors or cameras
or any self-imaging apparatus
like reflective thought

Fat people are like bugs
society wants to squash them
wash them down the drain
disapprove their life insurance
not carry their caskets
let the lards lie by the side of the road
they didn't carry their own weight
dead or alive they are parasites
appetites without redemption
sinners like singed meat
dripping globs of fat

oh how ignoble it is to be fat
to put on a bathing suit
and someone
a boatswain or adolescent yells
"WHALE"
and the fat guy or gal
feels harpooned, marooned, doomed
the beach an itch of sand
and he(she) wouldn't dare wade in
displace the water from the chic, the thin,
the bronzed bodies of the Caribbean

and so I write what should never
be written, a self-inflicting hate
of the physical gone to excess
I'm so stressed with my own imperfections
I stretch the fatty skin
and chew on my own heart


What A Mix It Is

i know 3 people
awash in the tides of emotion
3 friends
i am happy, overjoyed for two
who are fuel for each other's eye
she smiles
a full shine of dawn
and he nuzzles her neck
moistens with his soul
her wondrous body
that she will give to him
and he will pour himself into her
and the winds in the trees
will not shake this earth
with more pleasure
and innocence
oh happy the word "yes"
happy the kiss that is the flower of desire
oh nothing is like that erotic continent of love
where one says "yes"
and vows "forever"

the other
the ex-boyfriend
a good man too
but he walks beaches alone
looking for footprints
all has been washed away
the constant roar of waves
it was always there
but it said something different before
today it lashes his heart
a whip
memory is a whip
what can the sand do
but run away with the tide
but he is that sand washed back
by wave after wave after wave
that pull and push back
that beating heart
so drummed by memories
oh the hollowness of echoes

and i
a bystander to the drama
i understand all the emotions
but how does one stay happy for two
and sympathetic to he who has lost
how do i burn with heat and with cold
how do i not feel the lift of joy
and the drop of heavy sorrow
how do i put everything in perspective
remain true friends to all 3

oh it isn't my life
but being a man with some emotion
i know both the joy and the sorrow
being a friend i want to celebrate
and to console

my role is that of a bit player
or an audience
but one who has been brought to catharsis
by the human condition


A Poem That May or May Not Be About July

july is like juicy fruit gum
sweet but the taste leaves early
the more you chew, ruminate, contemplate

it is like a woman who can't bask in love
but must get up, make breakfast
clean up the crumbs, wash the bedlinen
open the windows to let in fresh air
but the hot sun too

july is a parade of bands
wedding, brigand, radio wavelength

july is a bunch of unruly words
like bananas
and we are monkeys
peeling the skin off our chatter
swinging on the vines
chomping on the South American fruit
like someone possessed by the sweetness
of the New World
all exotic flower and anaconda
and odd monkeys like us but talking
another language
and so our scratching under armpits
curling the upper lip
distorting their language
with our own wild cheep jeer
and whooo and squeal
is a true july in the jungle
a knot of cultural vegetation
expressed in fits and starts

july is a litany of saints
hanging out in the sauna
sweating their holy pounds off
weight loss a miracle for the ages
especially middle and old

july is a piece of mind
left out in the sun melting
the logic and passion raspberry colored goo
oh, don't step in july's philosophy
it is all about taking one's clothes off
and taking a cold shower

july nights come in hot, hotter, hottest
but the AC hums its breath of frigid sanity
one dreams in july with coverings of symbols
allusions, autumn sale images
pulled up to the chin
as the controlled air is condensing, freezing
the vapor of one's desires
but, oh, open those windows
and a hot blast of social inconvenience
vaporizes any and all dreams

july is such a middle of the year month
a year declining now
lengthening its shadow
wiping its brow
singing Christmas carols
under its hot-to-trot breath
and the blind keyboard player
twings and twangs old jukebox tunes
and everyone
who can carry a tune and the memory of the lyrics
gathers round, boogies or woogies
or just hangs out in the Hotel California

july is a parade of such days, daze, dais
a homonym of hymns to the republic
banana or not

ah, july, baby
let us sip mint juleps
a little swig of brandy on the side
to chase our overheated sensibilities away
let us drink our drunks
like in the arms of sexy decadence
all hanging of shampooed hair
leis or Spanish moss
oh kiss life
let her lipstick collar you
july only happens once a year
and surf is up


Examining

yesterday had my first MRI
the hum, burp, bip
most of me in the little tube
hands crossed on chest
corpse-like
I tried not to do a claustrophobic panic
or jerk
that would earn me more minutes immobile

the magnetic imaging is poetic
to the imagination
that likes to contemplate
the pianissimo shimmer of electrons
but the human thing
oh poetic in a way
is too personal

amazing how fast, how slow
a half-hour can go

next week the doctor may want
another image
and I will suffer my insides on film
though the thoughts
which I will try to keep to a minimum
will do a Buddhist hum
I hope

Tuesday
I hope malignant words are avoided
but they can't be forever
things and people fall apart
grow distant from themselves
create little monsters
that take the physical to new nightmares

but
hopefully
please
I will be reprieved for the moment
not have to face
the emptiness of the universe






From the book One Hundred Poems from the Chinese, I have three poems by Lu Yu, a very early Chinese poet respected even today as the Sage of Tea and best known for his book The Classic of Tea, the first definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea.

Born in the year 733, Lu died in 804.

All poems in book were translated by its editor and Kenneth Rexroth.



Leaving the Monastery Early in the Morning

In bed, asleep, I dream
I am a butterfly.
A crowing cock wakes me
Like a blow. the sun rises
Between foggy mountains.
Mist hides the distant crags.
My long retreat is over.
My worries begin again.
Laughing monks are gathering
Branches of peach blossoms
For a farewell present.
But no stirrup cup will sustain
Me on my journey back
Into a world of troubles.


Rain on the River

In the fog we drift hither
And yon over the dark waves.
At last our little boat finds
Shelter under a willow bank.
At midnight I am awake,
Heavy with wine. the smoky
Lamp is still burning. Te rain
Is still sighing in the bamboo
Thatch of the cabin of the boat.


Evening in the Village

Here in the mountain village
Evening falls peacefully.
Half tipsy, I lounge in the
Doorway. the moon shines in the
Twilit sky. the breeze is so
Gentle the water is hardly
Ruffled. I have escaped from
Lies and trouble. I no longer
Have any importance. I
do not miss my horses and
chariots. Here at home I
Have plenty of pigs and chickens.








It seems we have too many people who can’t get their minds around any problem or issue that can’t be resolved on a bumper sticker.

The same was true in 2005, when I wrote this next poem.

But the problem does seem more malignant today, and more dangerous, with more guns in the hands of more angry people than five years ago. And it comes from all directions, far-right, far-left, and the tea party people who seem far-everything, one minute neo-marxists, the next, quasi-fascists, the next libertarian and the next anarchist, whichever is to their particular benefit and any given time. Given all their me-first complaints, I have a hard time identifying them as anything but congregations of whiny white people unable to adjust to the idea that they’re not the center of the universe anymore.

Anyway, here is my oldie for the week. It’s one of the poems included in my book, Seven Beats a Second.



anti-war poems are easy

the heart of the matter is that
the heart of the matter
sometimes doesn’t matter much

anti-war poems are easy
since, in our hearts,
we all know that the logic of war
that says i will kill strangers
until a stranger kills me
is insane.

and who can deny that in our hearts
we all know a human fetus
no matter how small
and misshapen and incomplete
is a human-in-waiting,
holding within its tiny bounds
all the capacity for love
and laughter as any of us

and who,
even among the most aggrieved of us,
could, without a tremor
of hand and heart, push the button
that drops the cyanide pellet
that ends the life
of even the bloodiest
of our murdering kind

yet we kill strangers
who might someday
have been our friend

we erase from the future
the love and laughter of those
we decide will never be

and we murder the murderers
with appropriate
writ and ceremony

all these terrible things we do
because our heart cannot guide us
in choosing the lesser of evils

it our lizard brain we must turn to
when the heart of the matter
doesn’t matter enough








I have several poems now by Nanao Sakaki, from Break the Mirror, published in 1987 by North Point Press.

Sakaki, born in 1923 was a Japanese poet, author of Bellyfulls..He was born to a large family in the Kagoshima Prefecture, and raised by parents who ran an indigo dye-house.

After completing compulsory education to age twelve, he worked various jobs until drafted, serving as a radar specialist stationed in Kyushu in the Japanese Navy, surreptitiously reading Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kropotkin, Marx, and Engels as time allowed. After the war, he went to Tokyo, living in an underpass, working for a short time at a foundry in Amagasaki, then as a turner, and then for some two and a half years running errands.

Around 1952 he moved to the San'ya district and lived off the generosity of his neighbors, spending all his time studying English and reading. After two years there, he moved to Shinjuku where he became interested in primitive art, collaborating with a wood sculptor. They visited forests all over Japan for some three years. During this time, Sakaki began to write poems expressing a deep relationship with the forests. This led to exhibitions combining poetry and sculpture in 1956 and 1959.

Becoming friends with Neale Hunter. The two of them made a practice of never sleeping in the same place twice. They co-translated some of his poems into English and published them in Tokyo 1961 as the book Bellyfulls.

It was also around this time that Sakaki helped create and lead "the Tribe", which led to the building the Banyan Ashram.[9]

Bellyfulls was reprinted in the US in 1966, and starting in 1969, Sakaki made several trips to the United States, exploring the wilderness, writing, and reading poetry. He spent about ten years in the United States, primarily in San Francisco and Taos, New Mexico, but also walking widely.

At the time of his death in 2008, he was living with friends in the mountains of Japan.



When Speaks

When in doubt
Tell the truth - Mark Twain

When in pain
Listen to the wind.

These black oaks
As Paul Cezanne draws
Stand Slanting in morning wind.

It’s the day of Hiroshima, August .

I hear my Neanderthal man’s bone
Rattling with wind.

August 1979, Sierra foothill


Forevergreen

In a new town outside tokyo
Housewives wanted seriously
To have green stuff in their yard.
But trees shed leaves - much trouble.
So they planted evergreen plastic trees.

On an autumn morning in Kyoto
Four hundred years ago
Rikyu, the first tea master, asked his son
To clean the tea garden.
After the son swept and reswept all fallen leaves,
The master shook a maple tree.

In a Jurassic valley
One hundred fifty million years ago
A dinosaur drowned in a bog.
Time transformed him into fossil oil.
Then, God metamorphosed him into plastic.
In Tokyo he now stands, a tree,
Never shedding leaves.

A hot, dry, windy summer day
I climbed White Mountain, east of Sierra Nevada,
To chant for a Bristlecone Pine,
Four thousand six hundred yeas old.

A warm rainy spring night in south Japan
I slept under shelter of a Yakusugi tree,
Seven thousand six hundred years old.

        From a sunspot
        A young tree starts growing today.

For Issa, August 1980


A Message

The crescent moon sets
    Star light
    Wind light
    Lightning

From the Galactic center in Sagittarius
    A mosquito
    On my nose.

July 1980








I finish this week with this little bit of thoughtfully thunk thinking.



you can’t see the tree until you’ve seen the forest

the dark
was unusually dark
this morning

and the dogs didn’t bark
and, with the birds also unwilling
to commit,

the only sound
was a large diesel engine
idling several blocks

away,
and a chilled wind
down my spine

like icy fingers on a piano,
Mussorgsky, his
melancholy chords

cold and foreboding
as the great gate opens slowly
and very softly...

but
this is not what i had meant
to do this morning

i had meant
to write this morning
about a thought i had last night

about trees

about you can never imagine
the fullness
of a single tree

until you have seen
a forest
and understand

that a single tree
can never be a single tree
like a man or woman

can never be a single
man or woman,
like all of us, tree or man

or woman
are always a part of
of the greater collection

of our kind,
that each of us,
woman or man or tree
alone in our solitude is but

an approximation of the perfection
for which
the universe strives...

but this morning,
with dark too dark
and quiet too quiet
and chill winds at the beginning
of summer day

has sidetracked me

led me back
to the closed loop
of me

and the aloneness of me
in a discombobulated
universe

like an embattled tree
facing stiff winds
on a flat and lonely plain

a tree
without the comfort
of knowing

every tree
is a forest, interrupted,
but pending








As usual, all of the material presented in this blog remains the property of those who created it. Also as usual, my stuff is available to anyone who wants it, as long as is properly credited and I get a cut on any sale to Hollywood for the blockbuster movie.

I’m allen itz and I own and produce this blog.

And enough’s enough.

1 Comments:
at 8:02 AM Anonymous Judith said...

thank you for this site! I just stumbled into it, looking for Nanao Sakaki's poem about finding his friend's shadow burned into the pavement after the bombing of Hiroshima. today is the 65th anniversary of that most astounding of technological horrors applied. I too feel Neanderthal trembling in my bones.

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S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet