I'll Know It When I Find It   Saturday, October 30, 2010


V.II.i.




No featured poet this week, and no featured artist. Instead, it's just me and my library poets and a few of my old pictures.

The good news is that Alex Stolis will be back next week, with the final part of his chapbook Clean as a Broke Dick Dog.

And the even better news is that Alex will be back in coming weeks with poems from his even newer chapbook.

Meantime, though a little shorter than usual, we still gots good stuff.


Charles Bukowski
an unliterary afternoon

Me
my back aches

Ku Sang
In a winter orchard
Mystery


Me
Comfort, Texas

Tallapaka Annamayya
From God on the Hill - Temple Poems from Tirupati, One poem

Me
religiosus rusticus

Sapphire
Under Water

Me
it’s all in the bounce

Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Of Ancient Origins and War

Me
sorting out another sunrise

Gary Soto
Global Warming
Police State


Me
thinking soft today

William Matthews
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Civics


Me
where things went wrong

e. e. cummings
9

Me
rites and rituals









I start this week with a poem by Charles Bukowski> from one the many books of new poems published after his death, The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain.



an unliterary afternoon

Roger came by with his well-trimmed beard and puffin his
little pipe
he taught in the English Dept. at a prestigious university.
Roger was literary in the old-fashioned sense: almost
    every time he would open his mouth you would hear
    "Balzac" or "Hem" or "F. Scott."

I was drinking with Gerda who was also on speed.
Lorraine was passed out in the bedroom, but I don't know
what she was on.

Roger sat down with his little smile.
I gave him a can of beer and he drank that and I gave
him another and he began talking away:
"did you know that Celine and Hemingway died on the
same day?"

"no,I didn't know that."

"did you know Whitman might have been a fag?"

"don't believe everything you read."

"hey, who's that babe in your bed?"

"her? that's Lorraine."

after a while Roger got up and
walked into the bedroom and climbed into bed with
Lorraine, shoes and all.
Lorraine didn't seem to notice.

"hey...baby!"

Roger reached into her dress and grabbed one of her
beasts.

Lorraine leaped out of bed. "hey, you son-of-a-bitch! what do you think you're doing?"

"oh, I"m sorry...."

Lorraine ran into the front room.

"WHO IS THAT SON-OF-A-BITCH? THAT SON-OF-A-BITCH MOLESTED ME!"

Roger came out of the bedroom. "listen, I'm sorry,
I didn't mean to offend you!"

"YOU KEEP YOUR MOTHERFUCKING HANDS TO YOURSELF, YOU
FUCKING HUNK OF SHIT!"

"yea," said Gerda, throwing an empty can of beer on
the rug. "go play with yourself!"

Roger walked to the door, opened it, stood there for a moment,
closed it behind him and was
gone.

"WHO WAS THAT PERVERT?" Lorraine asked.

"yeah,who?" asked Gerda.

"that was my friend Roger," I said.

"YEAH? WELL, YOU BETTER TELL HIM TO KEEP HIS HANDS TO
HIMSELF!"

"I will," I told Lorraine.

"I don't know where you get your fucking friends,
Gerda said.

"neither do I," I replied.








Some days are so promising even waking up feeling bad isn't enough to break the day.



my back aches

my back aches
and my head hurts
and my nose is stuffy
and i have a blister
on my thumb
but it’s a briskly
popping
45 degrees
and blue- sky morning
promising sun-rising
day
and i’m on board
for the ride
with the pittypat
of yellow sundrops
falling
and with the flow
i’ll go
sup from the well
of okay-doky
and you bet your
boots
on a good ol’ boy
arising day with
dingitky-ding-donging
plinkity-plink
plinking
of sundrops
in my saving-
for-a –rainy-day
no -penalty-
for-early-withdrawal-
break-glass-
in-case-
of-sunshine-shrinking-
gloomy-
day
sundrop
bucket-bank
so
i don’t care
about
head-hurts
back-aches
nose-stuffs
blister-pinches
at
all
cause
you know
it just
looks like
it’s gonna be
a really
really
great day








I have two poems this week by Korean poet Ku Sang, a poet with the distinction of being oppressed and imprisoned by both the North and South Korean governments.

Born in 1919, Ku Sang died in 2004. During his life he was considered the most trusted and respected poet in either Korea.

The two poems I'm using this week are from his book, Wastelands of Fire, published in 1989 by Forest Books. All poems in the book were translated by Anthony Teague.


In a winter orchard

In the orchard white with snow
like sprinkled salt,
a plum tree raises thick black branches
in a victory sign,
outlined with flowers in full bloom,
like an Easter garland.

"Behold, whoever puts his life in me,
even though he dies, will never die;
do not be doubtful
of invisible realities."

Playfully, a single magpie
hops from branch to branch.

*

Beside a hole gaping
like a cavity in a lung,
stiff as a corpse
an apple tree lies, a full arm's girth.

A man comes by, dark as shade,
with a frame bound upon his back;
he lops the dead branches with an axe,
splits the trunk, and bears it all away.

"Behold a figure of the dead
who will tomorrow be cast
into perdition's flames;
beware, then, lest the roots of your existence
become infected!"

A crow flies cawing
across the frozen sky.


Mystery

On the carpet spread in the prison cell,
so large that it fills the whole design,
a golden sunflower blazes.

Beyond the octagonal window
the city surges like ocean waves,
with factory-warships and high-rise steamers
to say nothing of the slum shack cockle-boats.

In the sky,hovering over the city
as if attached to a cord,
a great black bat flies,
leading her young,
while in the room a naked man,
kneeling, opens wide his mouth,
about to devour a yellow butterfly
caught between his finger and thumb.

In the looking-glass built into one wall
a third man, like the other's reflection,
is dancing open-mouthed
in pursuit of another butterfly
while in the opposite wall a barred widow,
edged with sharp knives,
looks out onto a sheer cliff
where a single flower is blooming.

Within this Mystery, my image
is weeping beautifully
toward a light that offers no salvation.








Comfort is a little town in the hill country, about 40 miles from San Antonio, far enough away to get past most of the commuters, but still close enough for a quick and quiet overnight getaway.



Comfort, Texas

still
too early
for leaves to change

and even it wasn’t
there’s not much to change,
just a few patches of color

on the evergreen hills
of oak and cedar,
red and orange like patches
on a farmer’s overalls

~~~~

downtown,
a block and a half
of century old or more

limestone buildings recycled
for antiques,
bed and breakfasts,

restaurants –
tourists leave at 4 pm,
sidewalks roll up at 5

~~~~

German Freethinker
settlement
in 1845

others scattered
around the hill country,
all established about the same

time, along with Lutheran, and a few
Catholics -
hardheaded skeptics all

~~~~

monument at the edge of town
tall spire set in 1896
over the collected bones

of 42 German farmers
killed by Confederates
as they made their way to join

Union forces -
42 men
killed

at the Battle of the Nueces,
2 of the 42 my great-uncles, my great-
grandfather one of the few who

escaped, heard the story all my life,
didn’t know the monument was here
until today

~~~~

Alamo Springs Café,
down old highway 9
from the railroad tunnel

abandoned
eighty years or more
past -

today, people pay $5
to watch bats
gush from its dark mouth

like a furry black river
into the
night –

second best hamburger in Texas, they say
busy place,
young waitress who treats us

like our walking through her door
the best thing to happen to her
in months

~~~~

back to our cabin in Comfort,
shortcut, less scenic
but quicker


Grapecreek Road to hwy 87,
coffee and buttermilk pie
before bed

~~~~

quiet sunset,
cats


sleeping on window ledges








Tallapaka Annamayya, who lived at the hilltop shrine of Tirupati in South India in the fifteenth century, is said to have composed a song a day for the god of the temple. Late in his life or shortly after his death about thirteen thousand of the songs were inscribed on copper plates and stored in a small vault inside the temple. It is said that only about half those songs survive today.

I'm using one of those surviving songs this week. It is from the book God on the Hill - Temple Poems from Tirupati. The translation is by Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman.

The songs in the book are untitled.



Life day after day is a game.
To find what you cannot see
is truth.

Coming is real. Going is real.
What happens in between is a game.
Right in front of you
lies the endless world.
At the very end
is truth.

We eat food. We wear clothes.
It's all part of this passing game
The past clings to our body.
When we cross the doorway,
there is truth.

Badness never ends,
and there's never enough good.
It the end,time is a game.
High on the mountain, god is king.
Higher than heaven
is truth.








I am a dedicated eavesdropper, listening in on other people's conversations. It's the source of many of my poems.

This episode was easily the most interesting conversation I've listened in on in years, a true scholar in a strange place at a strange time, eavesdropping gold. I wish I could have made better use of the experience than this pretty lame poem.



religiosus rusticus

i wrote a long poem
this morning
about an old man

i ran across
in a Starbucks on I-10
early this cold morning -

an erudite old man
in shorts, fluffy coat, and gimme hat
talking Old Testament

religion and the many times
Christ appears in the Old Testament
before returning for the

next-to-last time
as Jesus, carpenter,
son of man

and Son of God,
promised savior-king
of the Jewish people –

a strange time and place,
this frigid early morning
on a Texas interstate,

to hear such a discussion,
complete with Old Testament citations
and references to the Torah and Jewish tradition…

as a writer, i am a listener
for listening
is where i find my stories

and, as a listener,
this was like crossing a cold, mountain creek
and stumbling on 49’er gold –

but, as a poet,
it’s possible i should have
stayed in bed

because this poem,
though shorter than the one
i tossed aside,

is no better








Here's a poem by Sapphire, another poet to approach with caution.

The poem is from her book Black Wings & Blind Angels, published in 2000 by Knopf.



Under Water

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experience
xxxxxxx
the voice
life
ceiling
coming
down
for a while
the sunlight
shone
through
the window
& the ceiling
with luminous
with light
reflecting
downward
on the
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devoid of tension
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chicken wings come
to mind
the plucked quality of
life that ensues
the pain
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the light
that blinds
the sound like Hiroshima
but you are too
insignificant
to be so counted
but there are similarities
between
you and the woman
whose dress melts
on her body, disappears
rather, except for its
paisley pattern
left forever
from
her neck
to knees
imprinted in
her skin, the
yellow-white
sock of young skin
that she
had
no more
a door
a window
the sun
the steps
she led me up the
absolute
black silence
of light
never remembered
or understood
pushing back
into the bone's
caverns
lacuna
beam
flash forwarded
the amputated
arm
always bleeding
into photographs
of the past
smiling
as the people cheat
lie to you
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freedom
a stamp
you grow
bitter
vomit yourself
up
it is the personal
property of a poem
bleeding
in the safe sorry of a
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xxxxxxx
wall
to wall
that stretches
back to slavery
you are
the bent spoon
of a broken
promise
you are the one
who can't forget
but doesn't
remember.








Seeing a dog, with such determination and sense of purpose, cross a parking lot at 5:30 in the morning led me to thinking about my own life and how unplanned and undirected it all was.



it's all in the bounce

in the gray early morning
a stray dog trots briskly
across a parking lot,

head high,
eyes forward, feet
in the steady pad-pad

of a dog on a mission,
displaying no sign
to anyone watching

that he has not
the least idea
where he’s going,

but he is going
steady and true
because going

is what dogs
like him
do…

much
as i lived my life,
successful in the end

by most people’s standards,
never showing to most
the times

i chose a path
by tossing a ball in the air
and following it’s

bounce -
learning, as the stray dog
already knows,

how interesting it is
when you get
to where you didn’t even know

you were going








Now, I have a poem by from her book, the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets, Song, published BOA Editions, Ltd.



Of Ancient Origins and War

And briefly stay, the junketing sparrows, briefly,
Briefly, their flurries like small wine spills,

While the one divides into two: the heart and its shadow,
The world and it5s threat5, 5the crow gack of the sparrow.

Near the surface, beneath the soft penetrable mask -
The paste of white blossoms slurring the broken ground -
Alarm begins its troubled shoot: the fruit tree

Beareth its fruit:
a load of old fruit tricked out
By the scattershot light, figured gold by the furious light.

The will given early to the dream of pleasure falters,
In a slurry of scent, in a posture of doubled-over gold,
And then there is the rift, the sound of cloth tearing

As the crow shoots up - fast with apparent purpose -
Splitting wide the leaves of a tree we cannot name,
Growing by a gate made from another tree, a gate

That cries as it swings, the cry of the broken safety.
The world and its hast5e, t5he world and its threat,
The here where we will die coming closer. All the sorrow

Of it, sparrow trouble, sparrow blow, our hands
These sparrows, quick and quick, but tippling now,

Toppling, bellies full of the bad seed the hair spilled
When it broke from the last comb it was locked into.
The will given early to the dream of pleasure falters.

And now, the dark, listen, in the dark
The tulip poplar is singing, the leaves are singing,
The clear high green of a boy's imperilled soprano.

The moon is rising, the sound like wine spilling.
The boy will grow a beard, the boy will be bearded.
The bird will dive back down in perfect execution.

The damaged will can only watch and wonder
Through a surface alarmed with dust...And so now.
And so that now. We are in the trouble of sleep

We did not dream of. And the shadows of the trees
Are breaking. The shadows of the world's broken vessels.








More of my morning reflections. Something early morning dark loosens my mind.



sorting out another sunrise

night so bright,
strange this morning
to see only the barest
crescent moon

~~

heavy set
man
at the table
next from me, bends,
with hand on blond
balding forehead,
and studies his breakfast
as if seeking secret,
messages,
runes,
advice from the snow-
sheltered graves
of his Nordic
ancestors

~~

sun sneaks up
from behind the building
i’m in, stretching
shadows
outside my window

still dark,
but dim decreasing

so announced,
the new day
will not catch us
by surprised

~~

this early time
yesterday,
i was here as usual,
looking out on the new day
creeping around the corners
of dark, expecting
to put down
my cat before day’s end

old, declined,
barely able to walk
or lift her head,
seemingly facing the final
passage…
it was a mercy,
a last service i was
prepared to
provide
as i had done
for others

but after two days
at the vet, revived
at least enough to get
a few more days, or more,
at home, this early morning
asleep in her chair, where
i had not expected
to ever see her again…

all my life,
knowing with each new
dog or cat
that i would see them die,
knowing that i might some time
help them die
if they lived an otherwise
safe and healthy life

thinking of a new kitten
to replace Kitty
when her time soon comes,
i realize that this time, for the first
time, i will be bringing
under my protection,
a creature who will
someday
see me gone and
buried
instead

~~

sun
now bright enough
to turn the black sky
blue

while the small crescent moon
fades to
black









Here's Gary Soto, another of my favorite poets. The poems are from his book a simple plan, a National Book Award Finalist.



Global Warming

After the late news,
I walked along

A river, the good air
In my nostrils

Replaced with
Something dead,

A raccoon or possum?
The sky was

Filled with stars
But what of them,

Or what of Boy Scouts
Planting trees?

What of the maestro
In tails

Or the witticism
The greatest

Thing in America
Is Europe?

Suddenly my heart leapt.
On the river

I spotted a polar bear,
White and huge.

had the glaciers
Melted? Would the

Penguins soon show
Up for the last

Cocktail hour?
I slid down

The river bank and saw
On a closer look

I was wrong - the river's
Current was pushing

A white refrigerator,
Fallen from a pickup

In broad daylight?
That used monster

Of an appliance
Floated past, ice cube

Trays kicking inside.
Late news over,

The morning paper
Hours away, I walked

Back to the house,
the smelly air

Of the future
Coming from us.


Police State

I had faith in dogs
Until a husky pointed and said,

"That's him." I was carrying a translation
Of a revolutionary poet

In my heart. I touched
My heart and asked, "You mean me?"

The husky pointed again
And the cops frisked me,

Patting twice around my heart,
Suspicious because

My heartbeats were hot and loud,
Evidence that I had gotten the translation right?

"Where do you live?" a cop asked,
I could have told this badge

The clouds, in my frothy dreams,
In a townhouse at the edge

Of the Gaza strip.
I could have told him

A pile of wood shavings,
Under a tree, or

Possibly in the vapors
Of a heaven

That lets everyone in.
No, smart me, answered, "I live

In a house, sir." - a mistake
For the first time

In my life I climbed
In the back of a cop car.

We drove noiselessly
Until the radio squawked -

The small tragedy of a boy
With his head

Caught between the slats
Of a picket fence.

We drove over
And they pulled him out,

The let me free -
The sole of my left shoe

Was flapping
And I would cost the county

Money if they brought me in.
But the dog,

That traitor, caught up
And unleashed a couple of fleas

That had me scratching,
Punishment for

Hoarding poetry in my heart?
I was making my getaway

When I stopped to rip
The bothersome sole from my shoe.

A parrot, the neighborhood watch
Perched in the window,

Ordered, "Keep moving, buddy,
Keep moving."








Writing a poem the day after an election that went the wrong way in a big way can be dangerous; the temptation to vent almost overwhelming.

Avoiding that, I wrote this, a softer, gentler poem for a hard and disappointing day.



thinking soft this morning

I’m thinking
soft
this morning

soft autumn breeze
on sun-warmed skin,

the soft middle
of fresh-baked bread,
crusted all around,

the soft fur
behind a kitten’s ear
and under its chin,

the fresh smell
of soft sheets on a wedding
bed,

the soft squeeze
of a woman,
the velvet slide
down her back
to the rounded slope
of her rear,
the rise of her
breasts
breathing
in
out
rising
falling
on the soft edge of sleep,
the moist center
of her
calling,

and the damp cheeks
of my son
at four, eyes wet
from a bully’s taunts
as I held him close,
“you are a good person,”
I tell him,
my voice a soft whisper
to his ear,
“and a strong, brave boy
whose mom and dad love him.”

~~

I’m thinking soft this morning,
remembering…
missing the touch
of days
brighter
and softer than today








Here are two poems by William Matthews from his book, Blues If You Want, published in 1989 by Houghton Mifflin.

Mathews, born in 1942 in Cincinnati, Ohio, earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University, and a master's from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In addition to serving as a Writer-in-Residence at Boston's Emerson College, Matthews held various academic positions at institutions including Cornell University, the University of Washington (Seattle), the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Iowa. He served as president of Associated Writing Programs and of the Poetry Society of America. At the time of his death in 1997 he was a professor of English and director of the creative writing program at City College of New York.



Just a Closer Walk with Thee

Smoke rose and ashes fell.
Dad could explain and so could Mom:
Just wait until
you're older.
Across the lawn

the sun dragged its relentless
blessing. A crow
let loose a laugh and two aunts kissed
him. Oh no, oh no.

The day went on and on.
Mom said sullen. Dad said tantrum.
Someone was gone:
the child burned like a lantern.


Civics

I have a few thoughts about the news,
declares a citizen, and out they go for a stroll,
those thoughts, two laps of the plaza after dinner.

They nod. The thoughts of others nod.
When they're young and circumspect
they keep a flank to the wall, like a cat.

Later they lurk and flirt, and thus they marry,
and then in suspenders they wheel the offshoots
one lap for pride and one for irony -

but which is which? It won't be long
before they limp around the plaza. Maybe
one day the offshoots will wheel them.

You know the way water can wear a small boulder
in a streambed to a lozenge you could hold
a lifetime on your tongue? The news is like that.








Here's my old poem for the week. The poem was originally published in the journal eclectica in 2003, then was included in my book, Seven Beats a Second, in 2005.



where things went wrong

life
gets more screwy every day

and I don't like it

I liked it better
when I didn't have to play dodge'em
on the highway
with all the beam-me-up-scotties
with cell phones in their ears

I liked it better
when the crazy person on the sidewalk
talking into the air
really was a crazy person talking to the air
and not a dweeb yuppie
talking to his dweebette girlfriend
on some kind of phone thing too small
for me to even see

I liked it better when men were hard
and women were soft and cars had fins
and the president was smarter than the
average dumbass drunk at the corner bar

I like it better
when Desi loved Lucy
and Gorgeous George was the meanest guy
in TV wrestling

I liked it better
when a microwave
was what your girlfriend did
when she was across the room with her
parents

I liked it better
when I was young

a real up-and-comer

and the pretty girl on the park bench
was waiting for me








For a little fun here close to the end, here's a piece by e. e. cummings from Etcetera, a collection of his previously unpublished poems.



9.

like a little bear twilight
climbs clumsily and beautifully the
ladder of the sky(a whipped and very little
bear who goes through his
tricks awkwardly and rapidly at
some fair,fearful of the cracking
whip)and
rungs of
cloud bend one by one under the hustling hairy
body of twilight
of
a little bear helplesslyly who wipes
his eyes with his
paw when the lash flicks his face

gallops wincing

into his cage
          & a pale single
star(the performance being
concluded)bows solemnly to you & me.









Autumn is a time of transition, the dull, tarnished finish of summer reborn to bright mornings, clear skies, and fresh chill breezes.

I like it.



rites and rituals

its cool enough today,
and if the wind dies down,

I’m thinking
I’ll light up my chimenea
for the first time this year,

spend a couple of hours
in my backyard
sitting by the fire,

soaking up
the bite of a cool
autumn day

as the flames,
dancing in blues
and reds and yellows,

bring their own color
to a leaf-hued
afternoon…

it’s these little rites
and rituals
that bring order to our lives -

the tags we put to seasons
and days
and the sights as we pass

along the way, bringing
familiarity
to the new and unusual

because there is never anything
so new
we can’t find a tag for it,

convince ourselves
we’ve seen it all before…

yesterday,
the day was cool
but the sun was bright and warm

and the combination
as I lay in the squeaking-clean afternoon
of open-sky sun and chill breeze

was a transition,
the best of two seasons
playing on my body at the same time –

today,
the combination of dark cold and bright flame
will declare the transition

complete








And that's the week.

I'm off to do what I said I was going to do in my last poem, so don't bother me.

As always, remember all material presented in the blog remains the property of its creators. My stuff is mine, but you can borrow it if you properly credit "Here and Now" and me.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of the blog, soon to be toasty in the sunshine.

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Gardens Stark and Drear   Wednesday, October 20, 2010


V.10.5.




I'm fighting a new computer this week, finishing up this week's post on the new keyboard. In comparison to my old, faithful but failing mac, the new screen and keyboard makes me feel like Gulliver in Tinyland.

Even so, if you'll read through the typos you'll find some really good stuff, including Alex Stolis, back with Part 3 of his chapbook Clean as a Broke Dick Dog. Regular readers will remember that I did the first two parts of the book some weeks ago. One part remains, Part 4, that I'll get to in a few weeks.

The rest is me and my library poets, along with some of my photos.

Here's the line-up.


Christopher Hewitt
Reflections on the Suicide of Virginia Woolf

Peter Brett
Rosaria, Don Jose

Joe Mockus
removing youth

James Story
The Morning Climb

Me
boo

Leslie Ullman
Why She Reached

Me
this very early morning

Sudeep Sen
The Man in the Hut
Remembering Hiroshima Tonight


Me
sunday morning at the coffee house

Yang Wan-Li
Living in Retirement: After a Nap on an Early Summer Day
Watching a Village Festival
Feeling Lazy
Drying Clothes
First Day on the Second Month: Rain and Cold
Night Rain at Kuang-K’ou


Me
being more like a Pepsi than a Coke

Audre Lorde
Prism
Do You Remember Laura
The Electric-Slide Boogie


Alex Stolis
Broke Dick Dog - Part 3

Aaron Silverberg
In a Puff of Smoke
Well Spent


Me
bright button

Elizabeth Jennings
Penelope
From Homer


Michael Magee
It Is the Stars That Govern Us

Me
fog on the hillside

Marina Tsvetaeva
from The Poem of the End

Me
when nighthawks fly in memories dark

Campbell Magrath
The Zebra Longwing

Me
the rut I’m in








i decided to start this week with several poems from the Winter, 1977 issue of Berkeley Poetry Review.



The first poem is by Christopher Hewitt. A poet and disabled activist, Hewitt died in 2004 in San Francisco of complications from pneumonia. He was 58 years old.


Reflections on the Suicide of Virginia Woolf

It is early.
She sits by the lake
knotting the strings around
the bricks around
her neck and "round and
round the ragged rocks," she says.

The housemartins hook mist
from the reeds.
The petal of a waterlily
snaps open.
"Waterlilies, waterlilies,
even in war," she says,
kicking the waves
as though she were searching for shells.

Her body
simmers a moment.
The waterlily folds
like a pocket-knife.
The housemartins hold
back their dives
back
for a final splash
back-
and the final ripple
slaps the reeds,

and in the reeds a moorhen
picks a stray feather
from its wing
like a pianist
pulling his coat-tails down
lifting his fingers up
poised
above the keys poised


The next poem is by Peter Brett. As of a couple of years ago, Brett lived in Arizona. He has published frequently since his appearance in the Berkeley Poetry Review.


Rosaria, Don Jose

Down a circular walk past sad,
the days now in the ground well
up like guitars in the wind.
For him the seasons of heat,
the pear breast swinging from
the branch of the tree as she
walks in the plaza with another.
After a rain, what bursts from
the mountains, what wagon wheels
leave in a trail in the mud.
And the ocotilo. What bursts
from spikes to flowers to spikes

as the seasons grind the songs.


Next, here's a poem by Joe Mockus. Looking for information on Mockus, I found the best reference to him was in a issue of "Here and Now" from about a year ago when I used one of his two poems he has in this issue of the poetry review. According to what I found a year ago, he is a criminal defense attorney, rock and roll drummer, and, as a poet, has been published extensively in the small press.

This week I have the other poem he had in the review.


removing youth

only the young can have
the possible
ways to look
and a new living language

feel warm in the obvious
growing longer gloom
she said

as I listened to her
face
seeing there the prize

of age

watching also
the high palms over her shoulder
through the window

working their way
through the breeze

moving there
in place


And finally, from the review I have a poem by poet James Story. I couldn't find any information on the web about Story and the review doesn't include any contributor bios.


The Morning Climb

They do not know that I am watching,
These suited men and summered ladies,
Plumbing the slow elevator's climb.
I time the smiles to my calibration.

I have seen duller elevators than this,
And deadlier. As if life sucked dry
By the morning could not make
Past the fifteenth floor.

Today the small chat drops delicate down
To the sandalled floor and makes me dream
Of beaches. Their beaches. Fire Island.
The Hamptons. The Jersey Shore. They
Talk of their weekends as tall cool lime-drinks
To be savored slowly.

The bones in my ear envy
That clink of ice; refuse,
However, to hear.








Here's a little poem I wrote last week, a little Halloween fun.



boo

i painted
my thumbnail

black

it’s
my halloween

thumb

if
i put a picture

of it here

it’d scare
the bejesus

out of you

but
i'm not going to do

that

because some of us are old
and already running low

on bejesus








The next poem is by Leslie Ullman, from her Iowa Poetry Prize winning book, Slow Walk through Sand, published by the University of Iowa Press in 1997.

Born in Illinois in 1947, Ullman graduated from Skidmore College and received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa. She is the author of three poetry collections and has been awarded two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

For twenty-seven years she was a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas-El Paso, where she established and directed the Bilingual MFA Program. Now a Professor Emerita at UTEP, she continues to teach in the low-residency MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.



Why She Reached

Eve wanted it more than fig
or grape or pear. More
than sweet water.
More than Adam's pavilion
of branches that floated her to sleep

above the ground each night.
More than peace, she wanted
gleam and shadow, the chafing
that would make her dance with
the dark - she wanted the earth

to pull hard at her feet.
The serpent was her own
mind waking, refusing
not to match that bell
that ricocheted through the trees -

the apple throbbing
with juice and trapped
sunlight. Its taut skin
split against her
teeth, the "yes,"

the first hard act
and she savored it while Adam
slept, and God took in
her flex. The light that followed her
like smoke. The He said; Now
you will hold this great
darkness; you body will swell
with all you know. You will
bend to its rotations,
its expulsions,

its nights o no sleep
and your mate will dance
around you in a fury,
his feet seeking hold
in whatever he can borrow.


So she bears it, every
seed and drop of juice,
fills her plate,
bleeds it out, cries out
in labor but not

when his hand strikes her face.
When she sits awhile with
other women, they exchange
glances like a handshake.
They lean into each other,
their voices low bells
and soon they laugh, they
laugh, they lace the air with
trickery and joy, the juice
aged to bite back, hard cider.








Sometimes, reading a poem, I am filled with the flow and fit of words, some that are and some that ought to be.



this very early morning

words
this very early morning

like maids
all in a row, skirts

lifted, pretty parts
on display ~

words
this very early morning

like fuzzbuster and tutti fruitti
and the king of beers

and aqua buddha
and prissy and persimmony

and persnickety and prescalerious
and pusillanimous,

a word i got to say three times
in a high school play

50 years ago
and never since, but the smell

of it on my tongue
is still

palpalicious~

words
this very early morning

with stories
i don’t know yet

but will,
some very early morning

yet to come








I have two poems now by Indian poet Sudeep Sen. The poems are from Sen's book, Postmarked India, published in 1997 by HarperCollins.

Sen, born in 1964. is author of numerous books of poetry and criticism and director or co-director of several films. His education took place in India, the United Kingdom and the United States. He studied at St Columba's School and read literature at Delhi University. As an Inlaks Scholar, he received a master's degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York. Sen was an international poet-in-residence at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, and a visiting scholar at Harvard University.



The Man in the Hut

In the dark corner of his unlit hut
   a man and his family lay, sleeping.

He was not really asleep,
   in the darkness, his eyes were wide open

like a corpse stuck with wonder.
   Rats nibbled at the left-overs,

the flame long gone out,
   the lantern was dry,

so were a lot of things -
   his skeletal body, his wife's desires,

the bottle containing the spirits,
   the thatched roof, and even the

land he spent months ploughing.
   Nestled in the roof crevice,

a few pigeons had laid some eggs.
   Their shuffle caused part of it to give way,

and with a rustle of dry leaves,
   one egg fell. It burst open,,

a mutilated womb, lay asunder.
   The moonlight seized this moment

to pierce one of the roof cracks.
   A sharp band of light shot through

white-washing the faint clay walls.
   In a trance, the man watched on.

The ray focussed itself
   on the burst yolk.

Eclipsed, it looked like
   a disfigured moon,

glistening tremulously.
   The whole scene, radiant,

was enacted like a ritual.
   A mythical light had come

to take away the soul
   after an aborted life.

Suddenly, the clouds appeared,
   they covered the moon,

and the ray disappeared.
   The hut unlit, it was dark again.

Now, he could fall asleep,
   in peace. All this

light was quite jarring,
   unreal and unnerving.


Remembering Hiroshima Tonight

It is full moon in August:
The origami garlands surrounding he park

glitter as the stars, plutonium-twinkle,
remember the fall-out of that sky.

Tonight everyone walks around the solemn arcades
where lovers were once supposed to be.

In the distance, the crown of Mount Fuji sits, clear
on the icy clouds, frozen in time with wisdom.

Suddenly the clouds detonate, and all the petals,
translucent, wet, coalesce: a blossoming mushroom,

peeling softly in a huge slow motion.
But that's only a dream.

Tonight, real flowers are blooming
in the ancient Japanese moonlight.








Sometimes a very ordinary day folds into something special.



saturday morning at the coffeehouse

sunday morning
at the coffeehouse -

waffles
espresso

and a pretty, dark-eyed girl
vamping on the piano -

light shadows of
chopin
under a summer moon

debussy
by a contemplative sea

then crescendo,

dark,

heavy keyed night visions
of bare twisted trees
and black rolling clouds -

diminuendo,
back to soft and slow

then up again

frenzied gypsy dance

walls expand
and camp fires
flicker -

fade

to the slow tread
of a sunday morning

processional








Next, I have several poems from China's Sung Dynasty by Yang Wan-Li. The poems are from the book, Heaven My Blanket, Earth My Pillow, with translations by Jonathan Chaves. The book was published by White Pine Press in 2004.

The Sung Dynasty ruled China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. This dynasty also saw the first known use of gunpowder, as well as first discernment of true north using a compass.

Yang lived from 1127 to 1206, near the end of the Sung Dynasty rule. He was one of the "four masters" of Song Dynasty poetry. Written during the final exile of the Song to Hangzhou, his poems celebrate the beauties and mysteries of nature, flora and fauna, much as the famed Song painters did. But they also querulously and wittily illuminate the annoyances and pleasures of everyday life. He passed his jinshi exams in 1154 and served a number of minor official posts in the Song Dynasty.

It is the ordinariness of much early Chinese poetry that appeals most to me. They are like letters from a long-unseen relative, describing the latest doings at home. I feel as I read them that I am at home, in the very ordinary lives of the writers.



Living in Retirement: After a Nap on an Early Summer Day

     1.

In the shade of the pine tree, a trellis covered with moss;
I feel like reading my book, but I'm too lazy to open it.
Playfully I cup a handful of spring water
     and sprinkle it on a banana leaf;
the children think they hear rain
     starting to fall.

     2.

The plums are so sour they make my teeth tingle.
Green banana leaves shade the gauze window.
A long day....Mind empty of thoughts, I rise from my nap
and watch children chasing willow catkins.


Watching a Village Festival

The village festival is really worth seeing -
mountain farmers praying for a good harvest.

Flute players, drummers burst forth from nowhere;
laughing children race after them.
Tiger masks, leopard heads swing from side to side.
country singers, village dancers perform for the crowd.

I'd rather have one minute of this wild show
than all the nobility of kings and generals.


Feeling Lazy

My sleepy eyes fog over....long lazy day.
I put down my book
and take a walk around the house.
the cats are playing happily in the courtyard;
when they see me coming they scatter
     like frightened deer.


Drying Clothes

At noon I leave my clothes out to dry;
     at sunset I fold them up
and carry them home in a willow-wood box.
the women laugh and ask each other:
"Who's that old servant with bare feet?"


First Day of the Second Month: Rain and Cold

     1.

I've patched all the windows and closed the doors;
the tea kettle and wine pot fill the room
     with a warm fragrance.
I tell my servant: "don't sweep away
     the puddles in the courtyard:
I want to watch the raindrops making patterns."


Night Rain at Kuang-K'ou

The river is clear and calm;
     a fast rain falls in the gorge.
At midnight he cold, splashing sound begins,
like thousands of pearls spilling onto a glass plate,
each drop penetrating the bone.

In my dream I scratch my head and get up to listen.
I listen and listen, until the dawn.
All my life I have heard the rain,
     and I am an old man;
but now for the first time I understand
     the sound of spring rain
          on the river at night.







An anti-Moslem frenzy is still only rumbling below the surface, but close enough, especially as it is encouraged by the most low-life of the political types, to be worrisome. Worrisome enough to deserve a little humor.



being more like a Pepsi than a Coke

the thing is
i don’t know what to call
those folks -

this, my dilemma
since reading several weeks ago

that there is a big difference
between the words Moslem and Muslim,

one being a religion
and the other a grave insult
in the arab language,

and not remembering
which
is which -

so i decided
to just say
Children of Abraham: Version 3,

the “3” designation
being entirely
a description of chronology

and not a ranking,
the Jews being Children of Abraham: Version 1
and Christians, who came later to the scene
Children of Abraham: Version 2,
and followers of the prophet,
arriving last, being
Version 3 -

think of it as kind of like
Coke,
New Coke,
and Newer Coke,

and,
thinking of it that way,
recognizing that all versions of Coke
are still Cokes,
iterations of the original
but at the root formula, still the original,
likewise,
we must all be Jews,
from Jerusalem's chief rabbi
to Billy Graham
and the Religiosos Babosos
to that Iranic fellow,
whose name i can’t spell
and won’t even try -

which should be a great relief
to that Fox fellow
who is frightened every time
he gets on a plane with Arabish-looking
fellow passengers (and i sympathize with his fear
for i experience a similar fear whenever
i get on an airplane with a Fox fellow, anticipating
an assault on my intellectual acuity and moral capacities
at any moment)

but i digress

so i think it would be a great relief
to the Fox fellow
if he were to understand that he is a Jew
and all his passengers, including the Arabish-looking ones,
are co-religionists, fellow children of Abraham and brothers,
and, being brothers, surely not enemies -

i know it would certainly make me feel
better

except that
as a nonbeliever
i’m more like a Pepsi than a Coke
leaving me unsure where i am on the list of bomb targets








Here are three poems by Audre Lorde, from her book The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, Poems 1987-1992, published by W.W. Norton in 1993.

Lorde was born in New York City to Caribbean immigrants Frederick who settled in Harlem. Nearsighted to the point of being legally blind, and the youngest of three daughters, she grew up hearing her mother's stories about the West Indies. She learned to talk while she learned to read, at the age of four, and her mother taught her to write at around the same time. She wrote her first poem when she was in eighth grade.


Prism

      For Joyce Serote

There are no frogs in Soweto
students croak
Amandala! through the tear-gas,

Not true no frogs live in Soweto
only we are too weary
with no ears left to hear them.

Who knows where frogs live in Soweto
who has the time to listen
stroll along a moonlit gutter
beyond the flames of evening
rising   falling
the thin high screams
of skewered children.

In the bruising fist of challenge
the future does not tarry.

Take our words to bed with you
dream upon them
choose any ones you wish
write us a poem


Do You Remember Laura

Alive
between the Panther News and Zabar's
an Upper West Side proper
exiled to Brooklyn
where she became a style
Broadway in the winer and the rain
long fingers flashing
Red Zinger tea at Teacher's
next to Bolton's
piperack elegance.

One unguarded turn
from curb to never
the car leaps my control
like an adolescetn girl
one hand against the windshield
in surprise   another
saying no   I did not choose this
death   I want my say.

Forgive me Laura
I could have been your lover
in time longing skids   crashes
but does not self-destruct.


The Electric Slide Boogie

New Day's Day 1:16 AM
and my body is weary beyond
time to withdraw and rest
ample room allowed me in everyone's head
but community calls
right over the threshold
drums beating through the walls
children playing their truck dramas
under the collapsible coatrack
in the narrow hallway outside my room

The TV lounge next door is wide open
it is midnight in Idaho
and the throb   easy   subtle   spin
of the electric slide boogie
step-stepping
around the corner of the parlor
past the sweet clink
of dining room glasses
and the edged aroma of slightly overdone
dutch-apple pie
all laced together
with the rich dark laughter
of Gloria
and her higher-octave sisters

How hard it is to sleep
in the middle of life

January 3, 1992








Next I return to the work of Alex Stolis, with Part 3 of his chapbook Clean as a Broke Dick Dog. I did Parts 1 &k 2 in previous post. Within the next several weeks I'll post Part 4, completing the post of the chapbook.

I post in the format that Alex sent me, as separated pages in a book.



Clean as a Broke Dick Dog  
 
 
Part 1   Dog in the Sand 
Part 2   Cheating at Solitaire 
Part 3   Beggars Banquet 
Part 4   Exiled from Main Street  



Beggars Banquet

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Soundtrack: Rolling Stones  
 
Midnight Rambler 
Wild Horses 
Live With Me 
Star Star 
Sway 
Country Honk 
Stop Breaking down 
Ventilator Blues 
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking 
I Got the Blues 
Tumbling Dice 
You Gotta Move 
All Down the Line  
If You Really Want to be My Friend 
Torn and Frayed 
Loving Cup 
Wild Horses (reprise) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Let it bleed baby, bleed till we’re white. We are pale riders. Ghosts who suck the light out of the tunnel, our bones left to blot out the sun. We are sons and daughters waiting
to mourn; ready to set the world on fire. 
 
she calls me by name but I don’t recognize her
voice, the smell of her perfume, soap, shampoo 

her body against mine is light:
all legs, long hair and ready
to start a revolution 
she starts to say something but I can’t hear
I can only watch,
thinking I’m clever, knowing
she can see right through me 
 

I am that fly on the wall. Yes. A thousand eyes. Unfocused, unclean, unable to swallow
and she knows. Yes she does. It is not to her advantage to forget. She’s watched
every move I make. I know. I know and there is power in knowledge.
I have that power. Don’t waste it. Don’t waste it. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
what I learned about dying 
the last time we met I was uncertain
if the wind could carry our voices  
if the sound would be too heavy
for the clouds to bear 
if every sentence would slip
beyond our reach  
you told me there is nothing worse than losing love 
the future is a pale hip bone, the curve
of your breast cupped in my hand 
faith is the arc of the sun as we remember
every breath we have taken together,    
possibility an origami swan we unfold
again and again 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A crow floats between silence and our next breath;
                                                                                its black
wing brushes the sun from my face and we are miles away
from anywhere worthwhile.  
                                            You say it takes less than nothing
to fall in love, tell me its best to fuck to the Rolling Stones
-the Mick Taylor years-
                    '                         frantically as if it will be our final act
of contrition on earth.  
                                                                 The wind stops, I feel the beat of time
on your smooth thigh and air becomes heavy with loss. 
 
 
…her crooked smile and pale blue eyes  
 
the small scar on her back, right behind her lung, the way
she mouths I love you from an open window… 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I know it. Goddamn it. Shut up.
Please
shut up.
  
No.
Now I remember
 
 
 
you are a promise kept   a raindrop on my cheek   you are a quiet song
longing to be sung 
you are a found poem    a new day    words that fill a blank page 
a porcelain cup     a soft beach with white sand        you are the sky
filled with tears        
a firefly     you are the branch of a tree      the beautiful small moment
before a kiss 
you are a butterfly          you are spring     a blue lake  cool stones 
in the palm of my hand 
you are a muse     lover     friend                   I know who you are
I know you 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
stop breaking down 
 
I am driftwood.  
and broken.  I am shards of glass and blades
of grass 
the lost feather of a bird
a lost child 
recklessness so quiet everyone mistakes me
for the wind. 
a proper meal.  a prayer unsaid.  an answer
but never the one expected. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
100 years ago & counting 
It’s all come back. Okay not all. Some. Very little but enough to see
through the gauze. Enough to recognize the trouble. Vague recollections:  
Traffic. Magic. The clink of glasses, the crash of voices
                                                                                         the last stop  
 
        feel the sharp of her shoulder in my rib, a wisp of hair in her eyes,
the slow rise and fall of her chest when every breath is no longer sudden. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
we are dancing, there is no music  
we’re fireproof, armed and ready
for anything
but what comes after the flame goes out 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Part One:  a conversation I think I remember 
 
Me: is that so,
                              save it for your next lover 
She: if you only knew but you couldn’t… 
                               …there never was…
…the fear                   emptiness 
                      the endless… 
 
Me:  Right. You are right. It isn’t you… 
 
She:  I love…
                    …all that matters is that you’re okay baby 
 
dial tone                 beepbeep           beepbeep 
 
 
Silence; I remember rain. I remember dirt roads: Walker Art Center
an attic office, water colors and Aqua City 
 

 
Me: …nothing
                              forever
                she is...  
 
 
Now: Where was I. Oh yeah. Clear as a bell motherfucker,
clear as a bell.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
an assortment
of descriptors used by  
(verbatim) 
former lovers, friends
various enemies 
and random acquaintances:  
ragged, sly, shambolic,
calculated
disarray 
criminal cool, lean,
self-destructive, enigmatic 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
a cipher; intriguing
infuriating
and so certain of how everything will end 

 
 
2525 Park Avenue 
Minneapolis, MN 55404 
March 15, 20__  
 
Dear L_______,  
 
I will make you wait until the rain pounds to the beat of your heart, and the branches sway like I do when you slip your hand into my back pocket. I watch the light play
on your jaw, trace the bone with the palm of my hand and make you forget every thing you’ve swallowed up until now. I pull you into the rain, watch as you fill your mouth with it, watch a smile spill and know that I will never get this moment again, but to have it once might be enough. 
Love,  
 
J_______ 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
waking up from a blackout: 
 

behind the wheel
of an unfamiliar car
no moon 
ii 
in bed with a Native American woman
straight black hair covers her breasts
a faucet drips in the next room 
iii 
Minneapolis International Airport
Gate 32 boarding a flight to NY
a copy of The Art of War in my back pocket 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
iv 
in the coat room of a restaurant
making out with the hostess
a siren wails down the street 

 
 
 
 
 
1750 Sheridan Avenue 
Minneapolis, MN 55405 
April 2, 20__ 
 
Dear J_______, 
 
…until then I will take a stand against the night, walk
barefoot over newly shorn grass, watch the birds peck
holes in the horizon. Then, maybe, I will be able to catch
a glimpse of you. Perhaps even a brief moment of clarity
will escape from the shadows, clear the cobwebs from
our future and I will take your hand, lead you there.    
 
Yours—
          truly,   L_______ 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
first her father dies 
she doesn’t believe in anything with strings
attached  
contemplates
her past while living her future. 
then her mother dies 
she counts the saints she knows, wonders aloud
why stealing is a sin
                                 when she has fallen
in love before  
and as the last of the sun hides
behind the earth 
tries to remember the last time
she ran away.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Part Two:  a conversation I think I remember 
 
Me: whatever it takes…
                                   …it won’t be
         a sign… 
 
She (laughs): I’m a complicated girl,  
good
         but not good;  
bad
         but not bad 
 
 
heat waves shimmer one or two inches above our empty glasses 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
She sits in her attic office. Writes
a short story.        Leaves it  
untitled.               Puts it in an envelope.  
Posts it. 
Walks the dog, picks up the kids
from school, cooks
dinner,
            cleans house, listens to her husband’s day,  
washes dishes, clothes; hums to herself, showers alone
always alone. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
it arrives in Wednesday’s mail. No return
address.
             It is forever. It is nowhere. It is once
upon a time. 
 
 
 
 
I will not write about morning, how the sun breaks
the sill, how diamonds made of dust and light
drift above my bed only to disappear into shadows. 
The dreams you left on my pillow are gone
into the maze of you, where I require only this-
a touch of your hand to my breast
the whisper of hope that comes with each good-bye. 
A poem is nothing more than exhaled breath
all thoughts that lead to thought, nothing
more than my finger tracing the outline of you
knowing every curve, every scar 
all the secrets of your skin and then watching
each moment pour itself onto the page.  
 
 
 
The end. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Words to never use again: 
sun dreams whisper secrets heart soul
clouds touch allure caress coy innocence
murmur memory quicken shallow blue
yield wistful wanderlust illuminate shell
love 
 
 
 
 
Part Three: The part of the conversation I remember 

 
 
 
Me:  I love you 
She: I love you too 
 
 
 
black guilty emptiness hope angels hurt
window void believe suffer razor sorrow
pierce mirrror passion illusion forgotten
tear fragile desperation desire lost numb
love 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I dreamed my bones were laid out in a field of yellow like a newly pressed suit
of clothes waiting for the holy ghost. There were black birds sitting in a crooked tree, startled away by the gravel kicked up by a speeding pick up. The room is stuffy.
It is gray and cool. No rain yet. The window is opened a spider web shatters.
The wind, a low whistle, shakes us awake. She tells me living in the right of way
doesn’t make a person straight. Knows that even when the sound is off you can still feel slight tremors from the music and when we dance it’s a slow motion suicide note.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
She loves me. Unconditionally. Fiercely. It is reckless.
Necessary.
                   Tells me there will be no breaking; only blue
skies and palomino ponies.  
No falling, no going back.
                                              Sunlight moves
and shadows drift out of sight
                                                 as if they’d suddenly changed
their minds. The hem of her skirt is frayed. My mouth is dry.  
We are separate. Together. We are exiles. 








I have two love poems now by Aaron Silverberg from his book Thoreau's Chair published in 2001 by Off the Map Enterprises of Seattle. I've used this book often on "Here and Now" and this is the first time I've seen anything resembling a love poem and these two are near the end of the book on facing pages.

Silverberg has been writing since graduating in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1978. He says in his bio that he is an improvisational flutist, ecstatic dancer, organic gardener, and a personal life and liberation coach.



In a Puff of Smoke

my love for you is not the flame
the unblinking eye
seeking out a prisoner
the lustrous wanting
the shameless search.

no, my love is the flickering
extinguished.
the snuffed-candle moment
when the Beloved closes on itself
with infinite satisfaction


Well Spent

There's a wild touch
in your eyes
that I keep reaching for,
a wild river
that keeps coursing
through my heart.

I can't stop looking at you
looking for you
looking inside/out
emptying myself to make
more room for you.

Unmake the bed I've kept
too neatly.
Wreck this life]
of bankrolled breath.

Leave me like the
ebbed beachside
strewn with passion well spent.








Here's another of my morning poems. Getting up and writing so early as I do, it seems most of my poems are morning poems. Maybe I need to sleep-in for a couple of days and do some sleep-in poems.



bright button

bed
this morning
a prison to escape from

so up at 4 a.m.

standing in my back yard,
enjoying the shifting flow of early breeze
brushing my birthday-suited body

in passing -

the moon
very bright and almost full
against a star-spangled sky,

then gone,

as if disappeared
by a magician or sorcerer's
chant...

fog

covering the sky,
drifting between the trees
along the creek,

light

from the bright moon
gone,
dispersed within the cloud,

phantasmic

light-shadows
drifting around me
curling as the breeze brushes

past...

three hours later,
the fog is gone and the moon is back,
lower in the sky, but lingering,

waiting

for it’s time
to turn silver in the blue october sky,
bright yellow button become a coin, paying it’s passage








Next I have two poets from the February, 1973 issue of Poetry, $1.25 new in 1973, $1.98 used today, somewhat tattered, at the secondhand book store.



First, I have two poems by Elizabeth Jennings. Jennings, born in 1926, was an English poet who published frequently. She died in 2001.


Penelope

Weave on Penelope, you must,
Waiting for your lover who
Travels half the world. No lust,
Only love abides in you.

The suitors come. You cast them off.
Let your faithful weaving go
On and on until your love
Can return and cherish you.


From Homer

Who better than you should tell me this?
How when he returned from all his travels
Ulysses spent the first night of return
Not in love-making, not even with a kiss
For Penelope his wife, who, woof and warp

Weaving had waited for him patiently,
Rejected all the suitors who had come
and kept so purely and so long her love.
She listened to it all with interest
Until day came at last. Then marvellously
A goddess gave them suddenly at once
Another night for love and joy, then rest.


My second poet from the 1973 issue of Poetry is Michael Magee. Googled too many Michael Magees; no way to pick the right one.


It Is the Stars that Govern Us

The stars are pinned against the sky,
pale and frozen in the ivory moonlight,
the constellations rigid as Monarchs.
Now become the dream; a human specimen.

Prod them with your eyes, let your fingers
trace the patterns of the dipper's handle,
drink deeply from the vessel's mouth;
how cold the moonlight feels on your tongue.

turn it over, let the mercury run
down your veins until your body stiffens,
arms and legs are fastening in the sockets,
eyes light the way, turning like beacons

Know that your are hollow to the core,
feel the certain fusion of your hemispheres.
Your life is being pulled into its course,
piercing through your skin the silver axis.

Your heart is hardening, feel its weight,
the valves are tightening slowly into place.
Now let them fix you with their icy stares;
now let them gaze at your great constellation.








We're going to take a little trip, not too far, just up the road to the little town of Comfort, one of a number of little towns settled in the 1840s by Germans, including, as in Comfort, bands of German Freethinkers looking for a place in the country far from their homeland where they could have the weekly debates on matters wide and sundry they loved. The little downtown area is about all there is to the place and it is mostly buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century constructed from native limestone. We'll be spending the night in a bed and breakfast in the middle of that little downtown center.



fog on the hillside

fog
on the hillside

slow day
promise

hill country
drive

for a night
in Comfort

where ghosts
of old German

Freethinkers
argue in the shadows

of crumbling
limestone










Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow in 1892. Highly regarded by the critics in pre-revolutionary Russia, she went into exile in Paris in 1922 after the revolution and became one of the leading writers of eh emigre community. She returned to the Soviet Union in 1939, when shortly thereafter, her husband was arrested and subsequently executed. She committed suicide in 1941 in the small town where she had been sent when World War II began.

A true Russian writer, she didn't write short, concentrating on long narrative poems. For this week I've taken the final two sections from the poem considered her masterpiece, Poem of the End, taken from the book of the same name published in 2004 by Ardis Publishers. The book is printed in both Russian and English, text in both languages on facing pages. I studied Russian and worked as a linguist while in the military. It would be great fun if I could read the Russian text, but, 40-plus years later, the best I can do is affirm it is Russian.

The poems in the book were translated by Nina Kossman.



from Poem of the End

....The ghetto of the chosen few. The wall and the ditch.
Expect no mercy.
In this most Christian of worlds
All poets are yids.

13

Thus they sharpen knives on stone,
thus they sweep the shavings out
With brooms. Under my hands -
Something wet and furry.

Where are you, you twins:
Masculine dryness, strength?
Under my palm,
Tears, not rain.

What greater temptations
To speak of? My wealth is in water.
Since I felt you diamond eyes
Begin to flow under my palm,

Nothing's lost to me.
An end to the ending.
I stroke - and stroke -
And stroke your face.

That's the sort of pride we have,
We Marinas, we Polish girls.
After your eagle's eyes
Wept under my palm...

Crying? My friend, my
Everything? Forgive me.
How large and salty
They feel in my hand.

Men's tears are cruel:
Like a crack on the head.
Weep! With others you'll recover
The dignity you lost with me.

We are fish of one
Sea. An upward sweep!
...Like a dead seashell,
Lips upon lips.

In tears.
Bitter taste
Of goosefoot.
And tomorrow,
When I wake?

14

The descent like a sheep-
Path. City noise.
Three tarts come toward us.
Laughing. at your tears.

They laugh, their wombs like ripe noon,
Their swelling crests of waves,
The laugh at your unseemly,
Disgraceful, male -

At your tears, visible
Through the rain like welts;
Like pearls, shameful
On a warrior's bronze.

At your first and last
Tears - Let them flow!
At your tears, the pearls
In my crown!

I won't lower my eyes.
I stare through the downpour.
Stare, puppets of E=Venus,
Stare! This bond

Is closer than
Luring and laying.
Even the Song of Songs
Yields to our speech.

To us, obscure little birds,
Even Solomon bows,
For our weeping together
Surpasses dream.

_________

So, into the hollow waves
Of darkness - hunched over -
Without a sound, without a trace,
As a ship sinks.

Prague, 1 February 1924 - Ilovisci, 8 une 1924








Feeling nostalgic, here's a old poem about old times. I don't remember when I wrote it, but I included in my book, Seven Beats a Second, in 2005.



when nighthawks fly in memories dark

nighthawks glide through the star-lit sky,
shadows against the star-lit sky,
soaring between trees,
picking insects from the air
like outfielders
shagging high, easy flies

   nothing to it, with a shrug
   as they toss the ball in


the birds flit through the air
and I think of old heros
jumping from their planes,
uniforms glistening black,
Blackhawk, the leader,
Chop Chop, the Chinaman,
Andre, the Frenchman
with glossy black hair
and a pointy little mustache,
and Olaf, the squarehead German

   that's what they called my father,
   third generation in this country,
   first generation to leave
   his central Texas enclave
   of squareheads and krauts,
   always careful through two wars
   not to draw attention to themselves
   and their German ways, quietly
   keeping to themselves,
   raising their sheep and cattle
   on the rocky hill country pastures
   facing good times and bad
   with squarehead persistence


and before Blackhawk, Smiling Jack
with his movie star looks, and his friend,
Fatstuff, with a belly so large buttons
flew off his shirt like popcorn in a pan

   dad had a belly like that,
   from his emphysema
   ballooning his lungs,
   making them heavy with spit,
   swelling, degenerating tissue
   dragging his lungs down,
   collapsing his chest
   displacing his stomach,
   pushing his belly out
   like he was pregnant with
   the fruit of his own death


those popping buttons are on my mind
as I gasp for air after a flight of stairs
and i think of my own belly pushing
ahead of me and wonder
what it felt like to die in pieces








My last library poem this week are by Campbell McGrath, from his book Florida Poems, published by HarperCollins in 2002.

Born in Chicago in 1962, McGrath lives in Miami where he teaches craetive writing at Florida International University. He obtained his B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1984 and his MFA from Columbia University's creative writing program in 1988. He has published six books of poetry.


The Zebra Longwing

Forty years I've waited,
uncomprehending,
for these winter nights
when the butterflies
fold themselves like paper cranes
to sleep in the dangling
roots of the orchids
boxed and hung
from the live oak tree.
How many there are,
Six. Eight. Eleven.
When I mist the spikes
and blossoms by moonlight
they stir but do not wake,
antennaed and dreaming
of passionflower
nectar. Never before
have they stilled their flight
in our garden. Wings
have borne them away
from the silk
of the past as surely
as some merciful wind
has delivered us
to an anchorage of such
abundant grace,
Elizabeth. all my life
I have searched without knowing it,
for this moment.








I do pretty much the same thing every day, and am usually in a snit when something interfers with the daily schedule. It's a rut, but it's the rut I've chosen so I'm fine with it.



the rut i'm in

there are mornings
i get here right when
they open at 6

and i’m the only
customer
for nearly an hour,

until the judge comes in, gives
a wave in my direction, and
takes his table across the room -

other days i get here at the same time
and quickly become just a leaf
in a flood of hungry diners...

it’s like being a half-step off
in a marching band, a hiccup
in the flow of a precision-oiled machine -

a truly asymmetric rut i’m in,
custom-built by me for me,
cutting across all other ruts

like a farmer in a hurry
cutting across his plowed field
without lifting his plow -

there are times i worry about
my out-of-placeness,
but mostly i don’t, figuring

everyone deserves a time
in their life
when they cut their own trail...

and it is my time, now,
for whatever time is
left









The end.

Everything belongs to whoever did it. You can have mine, if you properly credit.

I'm allen itz, owner, producer, and frustrated typist.

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Zulabula Land   Friday, October 15, 2010


V.10.4.




My featured poet this week is Doug Knowlton. Doug, who is from Florida, describes himself this way:

"...formerly four or five different personas, most recently a bookstore owner in Bradenton, Florida’s Village of the Arts. The store is in a short sale process with the bank, we hope to see an approval and closing in November, and get out still wearing clothing. At this stage, I would gladly stay home, garden and landscape, read and write --- but one must hold up their end, so I spend way too many hours a week in the fluorescent glare of a Wal-Mart Electronics Dept."

I have a lot of sympathy for Doug, having last year got rid of an investment property at a significant loss, though getting rid of it all seemed like a win to me.

Doug's poems this week are from a book project he's calling 80/40. The idea of the book was to collect a couple poems he'd stashed away from every year since 1969. The book is now in final edit and almost ready to go to print. His previous chapbooks, In The Bag, Thirteen Spiral Stairs, Anything Else Ever, and Ash Scattering, are now combined in The Native Hue of Resolution and can be accessed at http://tvbpoetree.blogspot.com.

I made up way more pictures last week then needed, so, since i like them, even the ones i didn't use, I'm using them this week.


From the T’ang Dynasty
10 T’ang poems

Me
leading indicators

Pat Califia
Bring Me Out
Domestic Bliss
For the Young Men


Me
wrong-doing

Richard Wilbur
To a Comedian

Andrei Voznesensky
An Arrow in the Wall
Dead Still


Me
roadside attractions - mid-october

Carl Phillips
A Mathematics of Breathing

Doug Knowlton
Bar Crawl Epiphanies
Pit Voice
Bar Crawl Epiphanies, Slight Return


Claire Kageykama-Ramakrishnan
Butterwort
Dying


Me
bless these peas

Wang Wei
A White Turtle Under a Waterfall

Al Zolynas
Zen of Housework

Walt Whitman
By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame

Po Chu-I
The Philosophers - Lao-Tzu

Bronislaw Maj
A Leaf

Me
the american way

Frank Pool
Depth of Field

Me
moo

James Laughlin
The Voyeur
Passport Size Will Do
At the Post Office
Heart Island
Carrots
The Happy Poets
The Gift
In Scandinavia
You’re Trouble
Waiting
I Suppose
Death Lurches Toward Me


Me
zulabula land









I start this week with a few poems from the anthology 300 T'ang Poems, the poems so named because they come from the period of the T'ang dynasty in China. The T'ang period, running nearly 300 years from 618 to 907, is considered the golden age of Chinese poetry. The book, published by The Far East Book Co. in 1973, includes the poems presented in both English and Chinese text on the same page and 40 black and white illustrations by Chiang Yee. Though many of the poems have been previously translated, some many times, all the poems were newly translated for the anthology by Innes Herdan.

I include at the end of each poem the name of its author. Because there are many, you should google the poets for more information if you wish to know more about them.



The Coat With the Gold Threads

I warn you - cherish not your gold-threaded coat;
I warn you - cherish rather the days of your youth!
When the flower blooms, ready for picking,
            pick it you must:
Don't wait till the flower fails
            and pick a bare twig!

    Tu Ch'iu-niang


Passing the Frontier

In the far distance the Yellow river
        climbs to the white clouds;
A lone town is perched in the mountains,
        many thousand feet high.
Why should a Tartar pipe
        mourn for willow trees?
Spring wind seldom crosses
        Yu-men pass.

Wang Chih-huan


Complaint in the Palace of Loyalty

She takes her broom at dawn to await
    the openintg of the Golden Palace;
To pass the time she strolls about
    dandling a round fan.
A jade-like face is not so fortunate
    as a wintry crow's
That can catch the sunlight
    in the Court of the Bright sun!

Wang Ch'ang-ling


Autumn Night

The moon's org just rising, a sprinkling of autumn dew,
The light silk dress too thin, but he will not change it.
All night long she plays diligently
            on her silver-chased harpischord:
Afraid of the empty room, she cannot bear to go in.

Wang Wei


Song of Wei City

In the Wei city morning rain
    has drenched the light dust;
Green, green the young leaves of the willows
    beside the inn.
Let me persuade you - empty one more wine cup:
There are no friends where you are going
    west of Yang pass!

Wang Wei


For Someone

Parted, but my dream still lingers
    at the House of Hsieh,
On a little porch
    bordered with zig-zag railings.
Only the spring moon on that courtyard
    is full of passion,
Still shining on the fallen petals
    when I am gone.

Chang Pi


Song of Lung-Hsi

They vowed to crush the Hsiung-nu,
        holding their lives light:
Five thousand in sable battle-dress
        died in the foreign dust.
How pitiful that the bones lying
        byu Wu-ting riverside
Are still the lovers of
        many a woman's dream!

Ch'en T'ao


Impressions of Chin-Ling

The Six Dynasties are gone like a dream
        leaving birds vainly crying;
Rain falls drizzling on the river
        and on the level sledges.
Most heartless are the willows
        by Chin-ling palace walls -
A green veil as of old
        along the three-mile dyke.

Wei Chuang


Complaint of a Jade Lute

On the cool bamboo mat of a silver bed
    the dreams won't come...
The deep green of the sky is like water
    afloat with night mist.
The honking of geese fades into the distance
    as they make for the Hsiao and Hsiang;
the moon shines full
    on the twelve-story pagoda.

Wen T'ing-yun


Ch'ang-O

Candles burn low behind a mother-of-pearl screen,
The Milky Way is sinking, the morning stars drown.
Ch'ang-O must regret having stolen the mystic drug
As she broods night after night
        beneath the emerald sea and the blue sky.








I love this time of the year, so it doesn't take much to get me excited about the new day.



leading indicators

the morning’s
leading indicators

lead me to believe
it’s gona be

a pretty darn
good day...

bird poop
on my car

minimal;

dead skunks
in my driveway

zero,
with futures down;

my coffee
had no bugs in it

and breakfast,
though i haven’t had it

yet,
is promising;

and i have this great
poem idea

even now
forming in the further

caverns
of my subconscious,

ready
any time now

to complete its formulations
and leap to the outer regions

of my laguuna maglattata
where poetically auspicious

smoke
forms into words in the sky

exposed
for transcription...

a pretty darn good
smiley face in the sky

day coming -
i can feel it just waiting to

pop








I have a book, Diesel Fuel - Passionate Poetry by Pat Califia that I like but that I have to be careful of when using its poems on "Here and Now" because, knowing many of my readers, I know Califia, in all her direct, profane, sexually explicit glory, goes well past where they're willing to go. So it's always a highly calibrated decision between what I like and what is "safe" for use here.

One of these days, i'll forget safe, In the meantime, these poems meet both criteria.



Bring Me Out

This is not a rehearsal, and
I don't know what to do next.

You were there
Before I touched you.
I am not painting you.
This is not a painting.

Put you hand on me
Wherever it suits you.
I am not a violin.


Domestic Bliss

A love affair is something to survive.
This is a relationship -
Something to keep tidy.

So my love for you reveals itself
In my exceptionally thorough grocery lists
And I know how much you love me when
You scrub out the shower
Two weeks in a row.

I am a romantic janitor,
Performing constant maintenance
Upon my happiness.

Give me a kiss.
I just took our the trash
And swept the sidewalk.


For the Young Men

Lusty young men
Who ascend to your whitebread
Father.

He will wring you out
In a cloud-colored bowl
Riddled with holes
The size of rain.

This bowl is above the ocean.
You will make liquor for fish.

The Woman who made that bowl,
She with yellow hair
Rippling like corn
(It has blinded the wind
and the wind will hide nowhere else) -

She would have killed you
By wrapping you around
Her little finger.

The fish are already
Drunk in Her name.








A comment by another poet regarding one of my poems led me to this piece.



wrong-doing

i am told
buddhists have no sense

of sin
and i wonder how a person can be human

if unable to recognize
the wrong-doing to which

we are, by our nature,
inclined,

unless they are saying
that a true buddhist surpasses

the human
and is no longer prone to human failure...

christians have such
a person

and they call him
christ

and i don't believe
either the christians or the buddhists

because i know that though
i am not the best of all there is

i am as good as most
and i have wrong-done in my life

and will no doubt wrong-do
again

and it is my sorrow at this sad
certainty

that makes me a better human
than either the true buddhist or christ

and unlike christ
or the true buddhist

a true and better human
is all i hope someday to be







Next, I have several poems from Collected Poems 1943 - 2004 published by Harcourt. The book is a collection of original poems and translations by Richard Wilbur.

Wilbur, who lives in Massachusetts and Florida, depending on the season, has won many honors for both his original work and his translations. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States. Other honors include a National Book Award, two Pulitzer Prizes and the Bollingen Translation Prize.

First, this short poem by Wilbur.


To a Comedian

You stand up for the interests of folk
Who need a bedroom or a bathroom joke,
Told with a drumfire of such words as shit,
To jog their jaded spirits for a bit.
It pays, you find, to give them what they're after.
You are the clown who put the ugh in laughter.


And now, two of his translations of Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky.

Voznesensky, who lived from 1933 to early this summer, was one of the "Children of the '60s," a new wave of iconic Russian intellectuals who found new, and often temporary, artistic freedom during Nikita Khrushchev's later rule.

Voznesensky was considered "one of the most daring writers of the Soviet era" but his style often led to regular criticism from his contemporaries and he was once threatened with expulsion He performed poetry readings in front of sold-out stadiums around the world. His long-serving mentor and muse was Boris Pasternak.


An Arrow in the Wall

You'd look right with a wolf from Tambov
For sidekick and friend,
As you tear my Punjabi bow
Down from the wall, and bend it.

Your hand pulls back from the shoulder
As if measuring cloth by the yard;
The arrow pants, and is eager,
Like a nipple extended and hard.

And now, with what feminine fury,
Into the wall it goes -
All the walls of the snug and secure.
There's a woman in that, God knows!

In towers of skeletal steel, - an arrow!
In pomposities one and all.
Who says it's the electronic era?
There's an arrow in the wall!

Burn, privilege and power!
There's an arrow in the wall.
Soon, in a drained and lonely hour,
Your tears will all.

But dark now, double dark,
Over rich embrasures which crawl
With elaborate moldings, your stark
Arrow is in the wall.

All right, you cheeky blonde,
Checkmate me, and I'll say
"Oh, you Olympian!," thinking fondly
Of how your belly-dimples play.

"You Scythian," I shall add, "you shrew..."
And you'll say, "To hell with you..."

*****

Release, O rawhide bowstring,
The stillest arrow, a dart
So incredibly hushed, one might suppose
And angel was departing.

In public, we're barely friends,
But for ears it's been going on:
Ben ath my high-rise window
Dark waters run.

A deep stream of love,
A bright rapids of sorrow.
A high wall of forgiveness.
And pain's clean, piercing arrow.


Dead Still

Now, with your palms on the blades of my shoulders,
Let us embrace:
Let there be only your lips' breath on my face,
Only, behind ou backs, the plunge of rollers.

Our backs, which like two shells in moonlight shine,
Are shut behind us now:
We lie here huddled, listening brow to brow,
Like life's twin formula or double sign

In folly's world-wide wind
Our shoulders shield from the weather
The calm we now beget together,
Like a flame held between hand and hand.

Does each cell have a soul within it?
If so, fling open all your little doors,
And all your souls shall flutter like the linnet
In the cages of my pores.

Nothing is hidden that shall not be known.
Yet by no storm of scorn shall we
Be pried from this embrace, and left alone
Like muted shells forgetful of the sea.

Meanwhile, O load of stress and bother,
Lie on the shells of our backs in a great heap!
It will but press us closer, one to the other.

We are asleep.








A Monday morning poem, a kick-start to the week. And I usually need a kick Monday morning.



roadside attractions - mid-october

7 pretty young
women

in skimpy halloween
costume

at the restaurant
door

at 6 a.m.
leaning on one another,

laughing, flashing shapely parts,
ready for post-festivities breakfast -

pretty witches
after an all-night prowl,

reminding me

i never get invited
to the good parties

anymore

~~

i take a look
at People magazine

every couple of weeks,
proud to stay up-to-date on

the whip and whirl
of popular culture, feeling

an obligation
as a poet and commentator

to be in-the-know
on the world all about,

finding, instead,
this morning

that i don’t have a clue
and the only names i recognize

are dead
or on the way there

~~

I heard the guy
order,

big guy, tough
looking,

like a let’s go out
toss the old pigskin

around guy,
maybe run some patterns

guy -
white chocolate

something
he says,

quad something,
no foam,

70 degrees -

i’ve bought houses
with less stringent requirements

than that...

what’s wrong with
a good old cup a’ joe -

worked for me for
66 years now

and i don’t ever
even want to throw

the old pigskin
around

~~

religiosos barbosos
arrive,

late,
i’m already ready to go,

can’t stay to listen in,
but it might be good since

the tall one, the one who looks like
an episcopalian bishop

is back, been gone all summer,
probably off in an african jungle

looking for livingston
or something else equally episcopalian -

their regular table next to mine
is taken

so they’re sitting all the way across
the room

so i wouldn’t be able to hear them
even if i stayed -

too bad,
but someone needs to tell them

when the shepherds stay slug-a-bed
the sheep go their own way and

late with the word
is the same as no word at all

~~

first red shadows of sunrise
bath the soft green hill across the way -

the day
part of the day beginning

the night part
winding down - as i become

more and more
a habitué of the dark

i feel my day slipping away
even as it begins

for everyone else








Next, I have a poem by Carl Phillips, from his book Cortege published in 1995 by Graywolf Press.

Born in 1959, Phillips has published numerous books of poetry and won many awards for his work, including the 2006 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pushcart Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress. He is Professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also teaches in the Creative Writing Program.



A Mathematics of Breathing

    I
Think of any of several arched
colonnades to a cathedral,

how the arches
like fountains, say,

or certain limits in calculus,
when put to the graph paper's crosstrees,

never meet any promised heaven,
instead at their vaulted heights

falling down to the abruptly ending
base of the next column,

smaller, the one smaller
past that, at last

dying, what is
called perspective.

This the way buildings do it.

    II
You have seen them, surely, busy paring
th world down to what it is mostly,

proverb: so many birds in a bush.
Suddenly they take off, and at first

it seems you particular hedge itself
has sighed deeply,

that the birds are what come,
though of course it is just the birds

leaving one space for others.
After they've gone, put your ear to the bush,

listen, there are three sides: the leaves'
releasing of something, your ear where it

finds it, and the air in between, to say
equals. There is maybe a fourth side,

not breathing.

    III
In One Thousand and One Nights,
there are only a thousand,

Scheherazade herself is the last one,
for the moment held back,

for a moment all the odds hang even.
The stories she tells she tells mostly

to win another night of watching the prince
drift into a deep sleeping beside her,

the chance to touch one more time
his limbs, going,

gone soft already with dreaming.
When she tells her own story,

Breathe in,
breathe out


is how it starts.








Here are three poems from this week's featured poet, Doug Knowlton.



Bar Crawl Epiphanies

Paying attention.
Bar sounds.
Shrill voice, low voice,
some above human range
others below a whisper.
There are crystals of chocolate
sugar around the edge
of a coffee glass, no one is thinking hard
or planning for the future
or looking for work
it seems we're all about
finding something on the edge
of life. There are times
the surety of homing
creates a yearning. Conversation
soars, drifts, deepens
pauses
leaps to laughter
and this pen has its own
space. Unencumbered,
serene. Singular as an island. Then,
Robin, Ed, Vinny, and Geoff are all instant friends.
What are you writing there? asks Robin.
Oh yeah, you’re the writer, the
teacher, that’s right, a teacher,
disillusioned with something, yeah---she slurs
into a third glass of wine, remembering
her own version of a conversation on these same stools
last holiday. Up on the monitor
the three leaders of the Tour de France
thread the lead through the curves
like pelicans on patrol
tires skinning the surface of asphalt
in a countryside on the other side
of the planet. Detachment
is a beautiful
hell. Such affordable distractions
arrive like fortés in the symphonic litanies
found here, beyond the borders
of this neighborhood out at the edge of Eola Heights,
paradise of quasi-ancient houses
someone’s named: historic.
All day long – confined,
as the refractory disease with unnameable etiology
progresses to the physical:
succumbing, surrendering
all those methods of maintaining Calm Mind,
subside. One's safety-belt unhooks, jettisons
reason into a mire of madness
so historic, so end-of-century,
so millennial.


Pit Voice

Everyday there is a poem
begging for limbs
calling from some unscalable,
undescendable, unsoundable pit
in the bedrock of the mine
worn out by the companies
requiring one wear
tie and suit while wielding shovel
and pulling cars of refuse, to dump –
and cover the hole from whence
pit-voice emanates and the soft-moving
sounds of subterreanean streams
which will never be stilled. Everyday,
pit-voice rumbles throw down a rope
from the abyss-with-no-bottom
and a tongue of fire ravages up
through the body, from that
unimaginably spacious hole
within, and speaks. Its residence
a space far from sight
where deeper means larger
where passageways open
to caverns and caverns to
cathedrals and cathedrals
to the true size of inner space.
What you might have if Jules Verne
wrote Journey to the Center of the Soul.


Bar Crawl Epiphanies, Slight Return

Back at the rail,
once chowder
and baked potato
settle solidly
into the emaciated frame
housing the trap-door
soul-hole temporarily enflamed
by well-spirit’s voice, peace,
like a damp torch, sinks deep
enough, spreads
and sits a spell.








Next, from Four Way Books, a not-for-profit publisher from New York, I have two poems by Clqaire Kageykama-Ramakrishnan from her book, Shadow Mountain.

Kageyama-Ramakrishnan was born in Santa Monica and raised in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. from Loyola Marymouint University and earned and M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in literature at the University of California at Berkeley. She then earned a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston. She is a full time instructor at Houston Community College.



Butterwort

Your name lacks eloquence.

Maybe that's why
you, half-human flower,
lure that bee: even the wasp smells
your perfume-like fungus.

Jealous of you,
wisteria climbs the chape['s
nautilus curves and iron bars.
Fierce shrub. Her cone of flowers

tilts with filigree:
lavender, pearl-sized petals.
Scotch broom makes you ugly.
Her slender, yellow pods,

April mop like someone's
tangled dreds.
In this cemetery garden,
a midge lands to nibble

pollen, and you,
wedged between limestone,
snap your sticky rosette
and drink its blood.


Dying

I'll die decades from now,
in the century Two Thousand.

Will people say,
You look terrible?

What will I look like?
A white pumpkin? A ginger pickle?

Where will I be -
in the light of a spider chandelier?

Will I recognize the usual voices?
What will contain me? The air

clouds, possibly the moon?
Will my bones turn blue underground,

or will there be men and women
picking them out of ashes?

I think about it all the time.








Sometimes it's fun to cut through all the fences and filters that things have go through to get from brain to fingers on a keyboard and just let things flow unimpeded instead. Of course, sometimes that can be a really big mistake. Don't know if this is a mistake or not, but it is what it is. Which is kind of the way I deal with most stuff.



bless these peas

bright bubbles
in a dark stream

white
on this side

going somewhere -
red

on the other
going back, even

this early,
bubble after bubble

coming, going,
starionary-me watching

going somenowhere,
only not so fast,

only here,
at this keyboard,

typing, typing, looking
at the sights,

looking for the sights,
a to z, small finger, left

the universal limit
to the universe of morning

a to z,
small finger, left hand,

pumping, pedaling
in stationary passing

feets
don’t fail me now

pedaling
for the word

always a half-length
ahead,

the word
the word

shall bring us joy

shall make us free

shall -
i don’t know

it’s all a faith thing
to me -

i will find the
words

amen

amen

finito

amen

now i lay me down
to weep

finito-amen

the WORD, man,
that’s the

thing,
the motherfuckin’

buckin’
truckin’

WORD

and though mute
portals

the sun rises

bless these peas

finito
amen







Earlier this week I picked up an anthology, A Book of Luminous Things - An International Anthology of Poetry, put together and edited by Czeslaw Milosz. It must be a couple of hundred poems, ancient to modern, from all over the world, big names and poets I've never heard of.

I've picked several of the poems to use this week. I like very much everything I've read in the book and expect I'll be coming back to it often.



The first poet from the book this week is Chinese master poet Wang Wei, who lived from 701 to 761.

The poem was translated by Tony and Willis Barnstone and Xu Haixin.


A White Turtle Under a Waterfall

The waterfall on South Mountain hits the rocks,
tosses back its foam with terrifying thunder,
blotting out even face-to-face talk.
Collapsing water and bouncing foam soak blue moss,
old moss so thick
it drowns the spring grass.
Animals are hushed.
Birds fly but don't sing
yet a white turtle plays on the pool's sand floor
    under riotous spray,
sliding about with the torrents.
The people of the land are benevolent.
No angling or net fishing.
The white turtle lives out its life, naturally.


The next poem is by Al Zolynas. Born in 1945, Zolynas is a California poet.


Zen of Housework

I look over my own shoulder
down my arms
to where they disappear under water
into hands inside pink rubber gloves
moiling among dinner plates.

My hands lift a wine glass,
holding it by the stem and under the bowl.
It breaks the surface
like a chalice
rising from a medieval lake.

full of the grey wine
of domesticity, the glass floats
to the level of my eyes.
Behind it, through the window
above the sink, the sun, among
a ceremony of sparrows and bare branches
is setting in Western America.

I can see thousands of droplets
of steam - each a tiny spectrum - rising
from my goblet of grey wine.
They sway, changing directions
constantly - like a school of playful fish,
or like the sheer curtain
on the window to another world.
Ah, grey sacrament of the mundane!


Next a short poem by Walt Whitman, America's greatest, if not the world's greatest, poet.


By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame

By the bivouac's fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and
slow - but first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields' and woods' dim outline,
The darkness lit by spots of kindled fire, the silence,
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving,
The shrubs and trees, (as I lift my eyes they seem to be
stealthily watching me.)
While wind in procession thoughts, O tender and wondrous
   thoughts,
Of life and death, of home and the past and loved, and of
those that are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the ground,
By the bivouac's fitful flame.


Next a poem by Po Chu-I, another Chinese poets from the T'ang period. Although considered to be a Taoist himself, he allowed himself a little malicious fun at the expense of the legendary sage and creator of Taoism, Lao=tzu.

The poem was translated by Arthur Waley


The Philosophers: Lao-Tzu

"Those who speak know nothing:
Those who know are silent."
Those words, I am told,
Were spoken by Lao-tzu,
If we are to believe that Lao-tzu,
    Was himself one who knew.
How comes it that he wrote a book
    Of five thousand words?


My last poem this week from the anthology is by Polish poet Bronislaw Maj. The poem was translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Hass.


A Leaf

A leaf, one of the last, parts from a maple branch:
it is spinning in the transparent air of October, falls
on a heap of others, stops, fades. No one
admired its entrancing struggle with the wind,
followed its flight, no one will distinguish it now
as it lies among other leaves, no one saw
what I did, I am
the only one.








It's election time, probably not a good one for me and my guys. It almost never is, but you have to keep the faith.



the american way

voted
yesteday -

grapped
all those scuffy

scoundrels
by the scruff of their

necks
and gave’em a good
shaking -

they’re all
gonna win anyway

but they’ll know
they‘ve been shook

and maybe
i’ll get’em next time...

it’s the american way
of politics

and the secret guarantee
of democracy -

knowing how to lose,

knowing that even if you
can’t beat the bastards this time

you can maybe at least give’em
a good
scare...

knowing
you have to
keep the faith,
citizen








Here's a poem from another of my recently acquired books, Depth of Field, by Frank Pool. The book was published by Plainview Press in 2001.

Pool was born in 1953 in Wyoming and grew up in Texas. He graduated from Stephen f. Austin University in 1975. He earned a masters degree in philosophy from the University of Texas in 1982. He began publishing poetry in 1995 including three chapbooks. Since 1998 he has been chairman of the Austin International Poetry Festival and currently teaches International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement English in Austin.



Continental Divide

Sited in the prairie near Folsom, New Mexico,
sixty-thousand-year-old volcanic cone
A national monument, Capulin Volcano,
Te cold summer clouds scudded south
and east, from the continental divide,
Our from Raton Pass, onto the jutting
angle of repose, the mountain, the
Corkscrew road in the blinding gray fog
Locked in against all the time and loss
Of sight. No vision here today.
Whipped gusts into the crater,
amphitheater of unknown gods and thorny
Desert plants. No vision here, dim
Looming presences down the path,
Blown steady, blown water, blown summer
Of the wettest year in memory, blown,
We attacked the summit trail.
A mile, I told you, though one that starts
At eighty-two-hundred feet, and rises
And falls two-hundred more in the loop
Around the rim, and I said, and I said
Again, "let's run, let's run the rim."

        II.

Sometimes it seems
That seeking extremes
Elevates the contours
Of our trails and dreams;
Sun beats, rain pours
From ponchos, in streams
Through unsealed seams
That leave no recourse
But endure, stay the course.
Laugh or curse; there seems
Something that is worse.

        III.

The highest trails and passes on the continent
Give rise to charity. The climber who has measured
Ascent by counting breaths and sips and pauses,
Sits atop Buckskin Pass, and the hiss of the stove
Between his hands sings a duet with the whipping wind.,
The last backpacker lumbers up, unseeing, blinded
With sweat and pain and thumping heart, letting the path
Rule his feet, having to be directed to the summit
and not up some wrong way. The stove and the cup
Of hot tea waited, and the hot metal touched a thumb
and left a tiny, permanent scar, friendship's white flag.
The scarred on and the exhausted one both knew
What was drunk and what was in the brew.

        IV.

Walking the trail whose very name was "Continental Divide,"
going to a window of opportunity in the rain, the rainiest
summer in decades, I saw that if we risked a climb,
Five hundred feet above rose the low end of a ridge
Overlooking the headwaters of the Rio Grande, and camp
We'd labored uphill all of yesterday to find. A trail, shallow
In the scree, and labored breaths, and we zigged and zagged
Up the ridge, where looking out and down at the San Juans,
Took our zigzag break in a crabby brushy brake in the wind,
And gathered wind, for it is nothing but muscle and wind now.
Nothing but will and wind
Nothing but will and wind
Nothing but energy to spend
Nothing but you and your friend
How much land does a man need?
How much land does a man need?
When legs and lungs are his whole creed?
How much land does a man need?
The oxygen I'd like to blow,
I left it in a town, below.

Nothing else to it, but run the ridge, talking rockets and radars
On ridgetops, landing pads and resupply stops,
And holding off the hordes through ballistics and air drops,
Packing the heat to save whatever it would b, that thing
We knew would make us fight.
        But not between ourselves,
Not this day, would make a fight, for we had a slow rising
Ascent to a little peak, the highest we would get that summer.
We walked, and stopped, and drank some water, and you
Talked of conserving strength, and I knew I had to go up
To the top, up a climb of maybe sixty feet. A year before
The path not taken had confined us to sightless valleys.
We had the view now, but there was a rock above to climb.
I could have angled right, for the land was easier here,
But I surveyed the rocks ahead, they looked just right,
Large and sturdy, with enough gaps and handholds in sight.
And put aside my walking stick, canteen, and slowly, testing,
made the climb. You went up the left, the most vertical
Face, I later learned, until you could go no more, no higher.
Cut off by impossible aspirations from the summit. It seemed
To fit, I later thought, the ways the world opens itself to each
Of us. But for now. I climbed cautiously, for nothing was left
But the summit, and right before pulling myself over the top
Shelf, I saws predator scat on the step, a little furry turd,
And somehow it put me in my place. Atop my own mountain,
Avoiding the shit. I found a cairn, took off a stone , and threw
It all the way off the mountain, plunging down and down
A vertical fall. And put two stones back in its place. And found
Something deeper than contentment. And found you, and we
Headed together down to the well-marked trail.

        V.

We talk of battles
We have not fought
Around the campfires.
We have taught
Each other the ways
Of war and peace,
Domestic strife,
And our release,
Of homes afire
A faithless wife,
Or losses that prey
On souls at lay
and scars that show
To friends who know
Rigors of the trails
and sorrows of tales.

        VI.

It is the losses that accumulate in advance of our party,
Losses of money, of women, of loves astray from lawful
Places, or furtive in chastity, or of adultery, or of all
The chafing fires that mark the spots we sit and cook,
And tend the stoves, and pump clean water into pots
That hold something more than food. Each of us has had
Summers of simmering loss, lidded in the low places,
Open briefly to the ultraviolet mountain sunlight.
Standing by a high mountain lake, watching friends
On the boulder talus slope, smoking cigars, thinking
How much easier this year was than last year, how
The heat beats easier with time and altitude, and
How snowcaps evaporate the toxins you have brought
With you this year. A time will come when all is lost,
Scattered, dispersed among the elements in ignorant
Incoherence. By the high waters, loses are loosed
To the brisk and peremptory morning winds.

        VII.

Beyond the limits of the telephone and car
Lie the paths, marked as some kind of metaphor
Made dust, to dust we must return
Once or twice a year, with snowmass looming,
Or the arid Mexican mountains on the horizon
Like an angry gray old god who never comes
Except unbidden and awesome, bringer of dry
Groves by the creekside, with water and wood
Without limit, a mosaic of paradise at the end
of a very hard hump, at the limit of strength
And what friends can be. It is not in the wilderness
That words turn vicious, it is not on the paths
Where civility breaks and buzzes hornets
Stinging tender and protected skin. It is when words
Hurl themselves in column array against the idea,
Against the massless movements of concepts,
Not men walking in single file, but shadows, spirits
Of the times of the age's plights and complaints, and
Utopian nowhere man discontent - these are the
Ugly idols of the cities and the marketplaces.
We march to death in single file. But improbably,
Together. The company compels consideration.

        VIII.

Th ram goes down to the valley
Down the lake far below.
To graze at the edge of snow.
The ram measures the distances
And angles of separation.
The ram shakes his horned head
In arrogant demonstration.

Far from the cities of men
The tents of the walkers arise,
Far from the calls of the kids
And the use and custom of wives.
The ram goes down to the valley;
The men glance up at the sky.
The men come up to the mountains
To measure the heights of their lives.








This next thing started as one poem and ended up another. With luck, there's some kind of transition between the two somewhere in the middle.



moo

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,” the poet howled.

actually,
the best minds of my
generation,
are mostly
dead
or co-opted
old bankers teaching
young bankers
how to rob banks
or like me put out
to graze
in irrelevant pastures...
fading
mothers 
and fathers of revolution
whose children
don't give a flaming
farm-fresh
shit
about the things
we prized
and if it's not
electronic
it's not the tonic
that moves their
hearts and souls,
knowing
more than we suspected
or imagined
but still
lost,
heads
buried in 
tweetable 
versions of
history,
the story of the world
and all mankind
in 140 character
bites,
temptation, too,
to our own
fatigue-fogged spirits,
suckers all of our lives
for some bullshit
or other
(we are where
our children learned
it all after all)
we call the number
on the screen
knowing it will come
direct
now
for a low monthly
slice
of our mind,
consumers all of our lives
to some bullshit
or other
we pay up
and bow to the
intwitterate
forces of the time,
knowing
even as we suck
on the tits
of the goddess
of ends that
it’s aqua buddha
time now, and for us
and our round
queer
buddha
from the ticky-tacky days
time is
past due,
return to sender
days,
do not pass go
do not collect $100
surrender your die
to the person
youngest to you...

chew your cud,
we’re told,
and moo
to the bright morning
moon

we’ll drop by again
when it’s time
to bury
you








For my last library poet this week I have some wonderful short poems by James Laughlin from his book The Secret Room published by New Directions in 1997.

Laughlin, poet and literary book publisher, founded New Directions Publishers. Born in 1914, he died in 1997. Most of the poems in the book were written near the end of his life.

These poems of an old man are so honest and, a word I don't often use outside the realm of chocolate, sweet.



The Voyeur

Pull up your skirt
just an inch or two

above your knees
sit quietly where

I may watch you
from across the room     I am old
and impotent but such

small pleasures can
still give me delight


Passport Size Will Do

I beg you send me your picture
For my album of imaginary conquests
You will be in excellent company
I am not (even in my imagination)
Promiscuous and invite only the best.


At the Post Office

It makes his day when
by happy chance he en-

counters her on his morn-
ing visit to the post office

it's as if a rose had
opened to greet him.


Heart Island

Stop searching stop weeping
she has gone o Heart Island

where the Truth People live
eating fern-shoots and berries

where there is no fighting
no sin no greed no sorrow


Carrots

Little girls in France, even
in the best families, are told
that if they eat carrots
they'll grow up with pink thighs.


The Happy Poets

What's happiness?
It's to lie side
By side in bed
Helping each other
Improve our poems.


The Gift

In the parking
lot pressure of

your body against
mine      iteration of

the dream of love


In Scandinavia

at country dances the
girls tuck he boys'

handkerchiefs in their
armpits and give them

back to be sniffed.


You're Trouble

aren't you asked the pretty
lady with whom I'd been con-

versing at the dinner party
I was trouble when

I was young lots of trouble
but now I'm old and harmless.


Waiting

Patiently Im waiting
For the day when you'll discover
That it was always me
You were waiting for.


I Suppose

the rhetoricians might call this
a variety of the pathetic fallacy

but when we talk on the telephone
I imagine I hear cunt in your voice

the soft swish of honey on silk as
Henry Miller used to describe it.


Death Lurches Toward Me

but the gods do have
some pity     in these

last months the verses
seem a bit less paltry

not quite so garrulous
touches of truth in them.








Crazy people all around. Scares me sometimes.



Zulabula Land

9 a.m.
and i’m heading

for my new coffee
shop

hangout/hidout/den
of occasional creations

of a poetic nature,
one of those presbotarianist

places
where you get a blessing

with each cup of coffee
and an invitation

to donate
to their mission

in zulabula land,
and nice art on the walls

and old furniture
and chairs

upon which a person
of my substantial substance

can find adventure
in intermittent

creaks
and groans -

and
i was driving

to this place of occasional
poetic creation

when two yuppie-puppie
vans

raced right through
a red light

right in front of me
and if i hadn’t slowed down

two blocks earlier
to get a better look at a house

i’m going to buy
after i win the lottery tonight

they’d have creamed me,
as we used to say,

having nothing to do with
cows or milking machines

or haystacks
of sylvan pastures of green,

just plain old run right into me,
left me in a bloody twist

of metal
and flesh formerly known

as me,
pretty bad for the flesh

formerly known as
me

but not so bad
for the wife of the flesh

known as me,
said flesh, worth more

in such mangled and dead
condition

than unmangled
and alive

making it possible
she can move into that house

i was looking at without
counting on lottery winnings,

such are the economics
of life and death

~~

another sign
of the craziness

all about,
these yuppie-puppie

moms
in their yuppie-puppie vans

driving like bonnie and clyde
running from the

pooooolice
after a bank job

i’m telling you
there is no safe place

for us sane people
when yuppie-puppie moms

are driving their yuppie-puppie vans
through a yuppie-puppie neighborhood

like steve mcqueen
chasing bad guys

though the hills
of san francisco

to damn many people
seeing too many movies

they’re not psychologically
prepared for

is what i think
is going on








The poems all belong to the people who created them. You can have mine - just tell where you got them.

i'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog.

The end. Finito, Amen.

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Loch Raven Review
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