My Town.   Friday, November 05, 2010


V.11.2.




At long last this week, we get to the fourth and final part of Clean as a Broke Dick Dog, the recent chapbook by Alex Stolis, along with, of course, my library poets and a few poems by me.

The pictures, once again are mine, all taken in "my town," San Antonio. Most of the pictures you've seen are from the Riverwalk, and, while there's a lot more to San Antonio than the Riverwalk, the last three months of the year are the best times to be here and to walk the walk. Cool days and cooler nights, sunshine and clear blue skies in October and much of November, until the sometimes cold, cold weather in December when the Christmas-lit Riverwalk is at its most beautiful, then the Christmas river parade and a great New Year's Eve party in the center of the city.

San Antonio can be a miserable place to be during the worst months of summer, but there's no place better to be October-December.


If you're a regular reader, you've seen the pictures before. I've had them around for a while, even made a few bucks, in fact, selling prints to several of them.

Here's who for the week.


Wendy Cope
Tich Miller
At 3 a.m.
Narrative
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis


Me
crisp is what I’d call it

Grace Paley
Old Age and the Conventions of Retirement
One day when I was a child long ago


Me
the time of my life

Walt Whitman
A Song of the Rolling Earth

Alex Stolis
Part 4, Exiled from Main Street from Clean as a Broke Dick Dog

Annamaria Ferramosca
Spider in an Amber Drop
Genetically Modified Organisms


Me
I was relying this morning

Gregory Corso
The Horse Was Milked

Me
pazeet

Yahuda Amichai
from Six Poems for Tamar
Rain on the Battlefield
Ibn Gagirol
Out of Three or Four People in a Room


Me
opportunity abides

Rosemary Catacalos
One Man’s Family

Martin Espada
Two Mexicanos Lynched in Santa Crus, California, May 3, 1877

Demetria Martinez
Crossing Over

Me
she knows how to play me

Charles Ghigna
When Howard Became Jesus

Jennifer Joan German
Think of Good Things – Merry-Go-Rounds and Japan

Me
except for the gay guys

Philip Larkin
High Windows
Sad Steps
Annus Mirabilis


Me
marching as to war









I start this week with several poems by Wendy Cope, from her tiny book, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, published by Faber and Faber in 1986. I think I might have used the first on before, but I like it so much, I don't care.



Tich Miller

Tich Miller wore glasses
with elastoplqast-pink frames
and had one foot three sizes larger than the other.

When they picked the teams for outdoor games
she and I were always the last two
left standing by the wire-mesh fence.

We avoided one another's eyes,
stooping, perhaps, to retie a shoelace,
or affecting interest in the flight

of some fortunate bird , and pretended
not to hear the urgent conference;
"Have Tubby!" "No, no, have Tich!"

Usually they chose me, the lesser dud,
and she lolloped, unselected,
to the back of the other team.

At eleven we went to different schools.
In time I learned to get my own back,
sneering at hockey-players who couldn't spell.

Tich died when she was twelve.


At 3 a.m.

the room contains no sound
except the ticking of the clock
which has begun to panic
like an insect, trapped
in an enormous box.

Books lie open on the carpet.

Somewhere else
you're sleeping
and beside you there's a woman
who is crying quietly
so you won't wake.


Narrative

The sky was dark, the garden gnomes were still
When Schopenhauer observed, "I like them less
Than sausages - in fact they make me ill."
The vicar nodded once and murmured, "Yes,
But wouldn't Tacitus have praised the skill
Of all those jugglers on the Leeds express?"
It seemed they had decided not to tell
the governors that Fido wasn't well.

Nijinsky's role in this remains mysterious -
We know he knitted cardigans for both
The Spanish twins and, while he was delirious,
Composed a ode to economic growth -
And yet one wonders if Chagall was serious
About the cigarette or merely loath
To recognize that others took for granted
The yellow birdbath he had always wanted.


Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis

It was a dream I had last week
And some kind of record seemed vital.
I knew it wouldn't be much of a poem
But I love the title.








Here's a poem I wrote last Friday after waking up to a cold day, the first day this season that really felt like it might be winter.



crisp is what I'd call it

crisp
is the word
I would use
for this shivered-up
shriveled –up (for
those of us menly-types who go out
in the frigid very dark
to feed the dogs while
claddishly inadequate)
37 degrees in the frosty
light of a moonless-night
morning

some, those of us
not yet evolved from our
thin-blooded south texas heritage
would probably call it
cold
as a witches maternal
appendages

but
that’s not me,
because I am one of the
evolved; because
I have high respects
motherly appendages,
witch-bound or not,
and would not speak of them
so lightly;
and because, unlike
my south texas ancestral
line, I don’t like it hot
and find more commonality
with my north alaskan ancestral line
which I am certain must be there
somewhere,
considering my affinity for
shivered-up, shriveled- up
mornings
just like this one today

yaaaahooo,
as us even more evolved
south texans say when confronted
with a fancy-prancing horse, a dirtdragging-dick bull,
a pretty girl in haystack waiting,
and a beautiful, blue-skyed, autumn
morning

yaaaahooooo!








Next, I have two poems by Grace Paley, from her book, Leaning Forward, published in 1985 by Granite Press.

Paley, born in 1922, lived in New York City most of her life. She was a short story writer, a poet, feminist, pacifist, anarchist and anti-war activist.

She died in 2007.



Stanzas: Old Age and the Conventions of Retirement
Have Driven My Friends from the Work They Love


        1
&
When she was young she wanted
to sing in a bank
a song about money
      the lyrics of gold
was her song
      she dressed for it

        2

She did good. She stood up like a
planted flower among yellow weeds
      turning to please the sun
      they were all shiny
it was known she was planted

        3

No metaphor reinvents the job of the nurture of children
except to muddy or mock.

        4

the job of hunting of shooting in hunting season of
standing alone in the woods of being an Indian

            5

The municipal center
the morning of anger
the centrifugal dream
her voice flung out on plates of rage
      then they were put in a paper sack
      she was sent to the china closet
      and never came back


        6

Every day he went out, forsaking
wife and family
with his black bag he accompanied
the needle of pain as it
sewed our lives to death

One day at work    he cried
I am in my full powers
      suddenly he was blind
when slabs of time and aperture returned
dear friend    we asked
      what do you see
he said    I only see what has been
      seen already


One day when I was a child long ago

One day when I was a child long ago
Mr. Long Ago spoke up in school
He said
Oh children you must roll your r's
no no not on your tongue little girl
IN YOUR THROAT
there is nothing so beautiful as r rolled in the throat of a French woman
no woman more beautiful
he said      looking back
      back
      at beauty








Daylight saving time change last weekend. As an early riser, it's always a problem for me since it leaves me with an hour in the morning when there's nothing to do and no place to go.



the time of my life

tomorrow
i will get up at 5:30 a.m.
but everyone
will think it’s 4:30 a.m.
and the truth will be known
only to me

because I am in tune
with the universe
and know
what time it
is
when it is
and what time it
isn’t
when it isn’t

so
tomorrow morning
there I’ll be,
sitting on the curb
at everybody else's
4:30 in the morning
waiting
for the slug-a-beds
to get up and get on
with their part of the
world
so I can get on with
mine

~~~

this time travel business
is really
tough
on persons of a fixed
disposition
in time and space
and an unadventureous
temperament
like me…

in the meantime
I guess I’ll just be back
with you sometime
tomorrow…

whenever that
is








Here's Amerca's greatest poet, if not the greatest poet ever anywhere, Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass.

Whitman is always a bit of a danger for me, because once i start him, it's very hard to stop, and there's always the chance of finding my self at midnight, transcribing the 45th page of his work. I think this time I found a piece I can do entirely without going ridiculously long.



A Song of the Rolling Earth

I

A song of the rolling earth, and of words according,
Where you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines?
      those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the ground
      and sea,
They are in the air, they are in you,.

Were you thinking that those were the words, those delicious sounds
      out of your friends' mouths?
No, the real words are more delicious than they.

Human bodies are words, myriads of words,
(In the best poems re-appears tghe body, man's or woman's, well-
      shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of
      shame.)

Air, soil, water, fire - those are words,
I myself am a word with them - my qualities interpenetrate with
      theirs - my name is nothing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would
      air, soil, water, fire, know of my name?

A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words, say-
      ings and meanings,
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women, are
      sayings and meanings also.

The workmanship of souls is by those inaudible words of the earth
The masters know the earth's words and use them more than audible
      words.

Amelioration is one of the earth's words,
The earth neither lags nor hastens,
It has all attributes, growths, effect, latent in itself from the jump,
It is not half beautiful only, defects and excrescences show just as
      much as perfections show.

The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough,
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal'd
      either.
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print,
They are imbued through all things conveying themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation, I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not of what avail am I to you?
To bear, to better, lacking these of what avail am I?

(Accouche! accouichez!
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?)

the earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.

The earth does not exhibit itself nor refuse to exhibit itself, possesses
      still underneath,
Underneath the ostensible sounds , the august chorus of heroes, the
      wail of slaves,
Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying, laughter of young
      people, accents of bargainers,
Underneath these possessing words that never fail.

To her children the words of the eloquent dumb great mother never
      fail,
The true words do not fail, for motion does not fail and reflection does
      fail,
Also the day and night do not fail, and the voyage we pursue does not
      fail.

Of the interminable sisters,
Of the ceaseless cotillions of sisters,
Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder and younger
      sisters,
The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.

With her ample back towards every beholder,
With he fascinations of youth and the equal fascinations of age,
Sits she whom I too love like the rest, sits undistrb'd,
Holding u in her hand what has the character of a mirror, while her
      eyes glance back from it,
Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none,
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her own face.

Seen at hand or seen at a distance,
duly the twenty-four appear in public every day,
Duly approach and pass with their companions or a companion,
Looking from no countenance of their own, but from the counte-
      nances of those who are with them,
From the countenances of children or women or the manly counte
      nance,
From the open countenances of animals or from inanimate things,
From the landscapes or waters or from the exquisite apparition of the
      sky,
From our countenances, mine and yours, faithfully returning them,
Every day in public appearing without fail, but never twice with the
      same companions.

Embracing man, embracing all, proceed the three hundred and sixty-
      five resistlessly round the sun;
Embracing all, soothing, supporting, follow close three hundred and
      affects of the first, sure and necessary as they.

Tumbling on steadily, nothing dreading,
Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding, passing, carrying,
The soul's realization and determination still inheriting,
The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and dividing,
No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no rock striking,
Swift, glad, content, unbereav'd, nothing losing,
Of all able and ready at any time to give strict account,
The divine ship sailed the divine sea.

2

Whoever you are! motion and reflection are especially for you,
The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.

Whoever you are! you are he or she for whom the earth is solid and
      liquid,
You are he or she form whom the sun and moon hang in the sky,
For none more than you are the present and the past,
For none more than you is immortality.

Each man to himself an d each woman to herself, is the word of the
      past and present and the true word of immortality;
No on can acquire for another - not one,
Not one can grow for another - not one.

The song is to the singer, and comes back most to him,
The teaching is to the teacher, and comes back most to him,
The murder is to the murderer, and comes back most to him,
The theft is to the thief and comes back most to him,
The love is to the lover, and comes back most to him,
The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him - i cannot fail,
The oration is to the orator, the acting is to the actor and actress not
      to the audience,
And no man understands any greatness or goodness but his own, or
      the indication of his own.

3

I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be
      complete,
The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains
      jagged and broken.

I swear there is no greatness or power that does not emulate those of
      of the earth,
No politics, song, religion, behavior, or what not, is of account, unless
      it compare with the amplitude of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness, vitality, impartiality, rectitude of the
      earth,

I swear I begin to see love with sweeter spasms than that which
      responds love,
It is that which contains itself, which never invites and never refuses.

I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible words,
All merges toward the presentation of the unspoken meanings of the
      earth,
Toward him who sings the songs of the body and of the truths of the
      earth,
Toward him who makes the dictionaries of words that print cannot
      touch.

I swear I see what is better than to tell the best,
It is always to leave the best untold.

When I undertake to tell the best I find I cannot,
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.

The best of the earth cannot be told anyhow, all or any is best,
It is not what you anticipated, it is cheaper, easier, nearer,
Things are nod dimiss'd from the places they held before,
The earth is just as positive and direct as it was before,
Facts, religions, improvements, politics trades, are as real as before,
But the soul is also real, it too is positive and direct,
No reasoning, no proof has establish'd it,
Undeniable growth has establish'd it.

4

These to echo the tones of souls and the phases of souls,
(If they did not echo the phrases of souls what were they then?
If they had not reference to you in especial what wee they then?)

I swear I will never henceforth have to do with the faith that tells the
      best,
I will have to do with only that faith that leaves the best untold.

Say on, sayers! sing on singers!
Delve! mould! pile the words of the earth!
Work on, age after age, nothing is to be lost,
It may have to wait long, but it will certainly come in use,
When the materials are all prepared and ready, the architects shall
      appear.

I swear to you the architects shall appear without fail,
I swear to you they will understand you and justify you,
The greatest among them shall be he who best knows you, and
      encloses all and is faithful to all,
He and the rest shall not forget you, they shall perceive that you are
      not an iota less than they,
You shall be fully glorified in them.








Now, as promised, Alex Stolis returns with the fourth and final part of his chapbook, Clean As A Broke Dick Dog.

It seems particularly fitting to me to have Alex, following Walt Whitman, because there is in my reading, an element of Whitman, stylistically updated, of course, in both their street-level poetic impulse, the vision of all things brought together.

Though I count Alex as a friend, I know next to nothing about him. So far as I can tell, he travels, always seeming to report in from somewhere else, and he writes, producing two or more chapbooks a year, a sense of Kerouac, traveling and writing. Maybe I'm wrong; maybe he sells life insurance in Debuque, but that's not the sense I get from his work.

As always, i present Alex's work as he presented it to me, with long blank spaces suggesting page breaks.



Clean as a Broke Dick Dog - Part 4





Part 4 - Exiled from Main Street







Soundtrack:

Drinking Again - Haley Bonar
Long Monday - John Prine
How Do You Think It Feels - Lou Reed (Berlin: Live at St Ann’s Warehouse)
Wasp Nest - The National
Pale Blue Eyes - Alejandro Escovedo
Perfect Halves - The Ashtray Hearts
9th & Hennepin - Tom Waits
You’re a Big Girl - Bob Dylan
I’d Rather Go Blind - Etta James
Rain Dogs -Tom Waits
How To Be Invisible - Kate Bush
When The Stars Go Blue -Ryan Adams
Where Is My Love - Cat Power
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry - Cowboy Junkies
Too Far Apart - Wilco (Austin City Limits 9/15/07)
Hurt - Johnny Cash












prelude-
(nosebleeds and Falstaff)
your friend wanted to kiss me
but we fucked instead.
seemed easy at the time to pretend
it never happened.
Crack open another beer; I’m drunk
and you’re jilted,
there is no romance without misery.





























Act 1
Scene i
the corner of 25th & Park
it is spring & the sun is the kind of bright
that comes from hiding out

She (smiling as she walks toward him): Hello
Him (smiles but does not say a word until they embrace): Hi there
Their hands touch, briefly held and then
silence. In her back pocket is a story
she has been carrying for the past two weeks.
She is trying to finish it for him.
Brushing the hair from her face, she glances
at him from the corner of her eye.
Him: I gotta go
She: Let’s meet later (hesitates) if you like
Him: Yes. I would like that























At the bar she asks me
to write a poem from memory
promises me that whatever words
we utter will be kept
strictly between the two of us.






































Act 1
Scene ii
Pre-dawn in the parking lot of Walgreen’s Drugstore,
the lot is deserted but for three other cars. They are in
the back seat. They wait to be caught.



Letter number one
Dear J,
I want to lay with you, quiet and still;
our lives, a murmur and hush
in a foreign land
Yours,
L





--One week later the letter comes back unopened. In the corner
under the return address someone has written “yes”--


















two plus two will always equal
whatever the hell you want it to:
as long as you get
what you think you want



I fell
but not far
enough to hit
bottom
































Act I
Scene iv (Not a typo. There was another scene, (3),
but what happened is of no interest
and has little bearing on the following events)

It is night. She is having difficulty staying warm, feels
like a footnote but does not have the words to express
this to him. They are in the parking lot of a Motel
6. He looks toward the road
as he speaks to her.
Him: I don’t like being halfway between things I don’t understand
She (wraps her arms around herself): I’m not sure I know
what you mean
Him (opening his car door, looks to her and smiles): I love you

She watches him leave, takes out a cigarette then changes her mind
gets in her car and drives away.






















the quick brown fox junps over the lazy dog
the quick broqn fox jumps over the lazy dog
the quick brown fox jumps ovrr the lazy dog
the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

she puts a wooden match
in her mouth and dares you
to light it

(everything but sin burns at the right temperature)
































Act I
Scene v
It’s the obligatory last call cliché scene.
(Shot in soft grays
and mute blacks.)
The one where he talks her into going home with him
even though under normal circumstances
she would have nothing to do with him.
(Sharp focus to start
but fade and blur
slowly)
She finally figures out that, yes, she really loves him,
but it is too late of course.
It is clear they will never see each other again.
(Cue music and exit.)


























--star light, star bright
first star I see tonight.--
Letter number two
Dear J,
I’m one of those guys at the bar that falls in love with you,
the girl who woke up after twenty years of sleeping. Unsure
of myself, I don’t try to buy you a drink but instead scrawl
directions on a bar napkin, call it a poem. Last call is one more
unheard cry yelled into the wind; drunken door slams and breaking
glass reminds the orphans time is running fast. So I tear apart
all intentions, hide them with my cigarettes, go home with the first
woman who’ll get me there because I’m willing to take any chance
but rejection. Later, wide awake and dreaming--I see you sleepless,
writing stories for stray dogs caught in the rain.
L























Act I
Scene vi
you will never be far from me, never out of reach;
two bodies together make a silent prayer
A well-appointed hotel room, a couple is in bed and it is apparent
they have just made love.
you watch me sleep, the corner
of your eye, naked on my lips

(Lights dim, screen fades & closes.)



































Let’s skip the middle part
get right to the action,
cut immediately to the wow-
finish and dispense
with boring details.
No one is really interested
in the minutia
of who did what
to whom.



































Act 3
Scene i
She is in a studio painting. On the loveseat is a sleeping dog,
you imagine his name is Otis. She is wearing a man’s oxford
with the sleeves rolled up past her elbows. You think her hair
should be tied back and wonder how she does not get paint in it,
smile at the thought that it gets in her eyes. On the canvas
is a still-life; a chair, a table, an ashtray and an unopened letter,
the window is one-quarter open. You hear a man’s voice call her
name, imagine it is her husband, imagine he is impatient. Imagine
she does not love him. Otis raises his head, yawns, then lays
his head back down. The sun streams in the open window,
she becomes the filament that sets day apart from night,
land from air, lust from love.































(Urban Haiku –after Basho)
At Stand-Up Frank’s:
a cool fall night—
getting drinks, we closed
the bar, our hearts




































Act 3
Scene ii

He listens to the tick, tick, tick of the engine
as it cools down. The radio hums static, he wonders
where she is. He reads the last story she wrote,
the one with the unfinished ending. He tries to fill
in the blanks but is uncertain and struggles to find
the right words.
He appears to mutter something under his breath,
turns the radio off, starts the car. Hands on the wheel
(ten & two) he stares straight ahead.
--fade to black
no music
only the sound of the engine running--































February 4 1:15 pm
Hi, this is J, sorry I can’t come to the phone right now
but if you leave a message I’ll get back to you
as soon as I can...
finally
the birds have stopped
maybe the rest
of the day
will be the beginning
again



























Act 3
Scene iii
Street scene--black & white, sidewalk level:
All you see are shoes; loafers, wingtips, boots.
Some fast, moving in and out of the frame.
Some slow (a woman loses her balance
in a pair of heels).
A cigarette butt bounces into the street.
There is the low murmur of traffic. Slowly the sound
of birds chirping blends into the soundtrack until
the traffic and street noise is drowned out
completely.
A man coughs, the frame freezes. Count: one
thousand one, one thousand two--screen goes black;
mouth the words to your favorite song.



























hip to hip and bone against bone, our shadows
dissolve into air

(souvenir)
hold tight
to the smooth coin,
the one you found
in St. Mark’s
Square, the one
that burns
a hole
in your pocket




























Act 3
Scene iv
(The scenes take place simultaneously)
She is at home, cooking. Husband in his office
not hiding the fact he is ignoring her. The dog
in the corner of the kitchen watches her
peel eggplant, cucumbers. She wipes
her forehead with the back of her hand
and catches a glimpse of a watercolor
hanging on the wall. She knows every day
tastes different: Monday is sour, Tuesday
sweet (her breast, a small apple, fits perfectly
in his hand). Wednesday is salty, Thursday
bitter and Friday pungent, the taste of grief.

He is walking downtown. Midday. It feels like spring,
starts to sprinkle rain. He looks up, pulls a book
out of his back pocket. Keeps walking as he thumbs
through the pages. There is nothing more to learn.






















(cheating at solitaire)
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear...
One after another
after another
after one more
after
another
and over
and out
































Act 3
Scene v
It is dusk. An almost deserted street; one car
parked on the corner. A car drives slowly
down the street and turns the corner (left). A stray
dog wanders into the frame. When it is in the middle
of the street it stops, watches the car as it finishes
its turn. Then it starts to walk across the street.
Count: one thousand one--screen goes black; white noise.
Count: one thousand one, one thousand two—silence.

Cue music, roll credits.








My next two poems are by an Italian poet, Annamaria Ferramosca, I had not heard of before buying her book, Other Signs, Other Circles. The book was published in Italian and English in 2009. Translations in the book are by Annamaria Crowe Serrano.

Ferramosca,who lives in Rome, has published five collections of her poems and is the winner of many honors and awards.



Spider in an Amber Drop

If it is true
that the true word is born from silence
I want to be silent. To reach
a compulsive silence
Beyond
Beyond the squandering of signs, beyond
the purification of rooms, when even
the last spark on the screen is out
thee will only be stones
to ask questions of

Hard ones. Like stubborn
hopes, As hard
as despair
Discovering the possible setting
of the mouth of shouting
in the contagion of amber that solidifies
a tiny scream by Munch

It was
a living star among the branches
motionless in its dominion of the cobweb
lord of balancing amidst fragility
a strategist of lightning, struck by lightning
I scream in your silence, am silent
into your scream
        spider in an amber drop


Genetically Modified Organisms

As far as the eye can see, the stretch
of helicoidal virgin roads is finally clear,
with names
begging to be named
or just remain obscure, if the needle
indelicately upsets the nucleus
Foreign gene, guest gene
sacred guest honored long ago
with pristine robes and food, there was never
any fear
of the shipwrecked man at the door

Now hybridization confusexcites me
I master creature I master myself
as if I had the gift of drugs
the mosaic o un-natured nature
I graft eagle wings on myself, needless to say
the ehart of a lion
the longevity of a tortoise
I fly
I live multi-mightly
A long-trm survivor








Here's another Daylight Savings Time poem. I go into a rant on the subject twice a year. This year a little unique, two rants on the subject in a row.

Though as rants go, these are very gentle.



I was relying this morning

I was relying this morning
on the time-keeping
of my telephone
to keep me straight
on what-the-heck

time it was/is,
connected, as it is,
to some great orbiting time-

keeper in the sky
that knows, and makes
instantaneous

adjustments,
when I pass from one
time zone to another…

turns out, though,
that the great time-keeper
in the sky

knows no more about
daylight saving time
than I do,

either that, or it just
slept in,
like most of the people I know

who don’t suffer
from back-suffrages like I do
and who would happily take on sleep

as a full time occupation
if financial considerations didn’t
intervene…

whatever the cause, whether
it was great time-keeper in the sky incompetence
or the simple laziness of the not-so-great,

the time on my cell phone
time device
didn’t change until just a few minutes

ago,
8 hours after the actual change
and 3 hours

after I was left
sitting in the dark
and cold

outside my morning
flapjack
emporium

an hour
before it opened,
which, when you’re cold and dark

is easily
a 4-hour equiva-
lent…

but, all is well
now, for,
as I note the other

great time-keeper in the sky,
the orange-blazing one in the west, rose,
as it has done for a billion or more

years
in the past,
and is currently shining

with all its eventual
all-consuming
fire,

which I trust will not be completely consumed
for at least another ten years or so –
but that’s a concern of those,

like you and I, dependent
on the lesser time-keeper in the sky,
the one that failed this early

morning,
and not at all a concern
of the deer, grazing on the

grassy meadow
across the way, exactly
according to their own schedule

as to when
it is time for breakfast
and when it is not








Next, I have a poem by beat poet Gregory Corso, from his book Mindfield published in 1989 by Thunder'd Mouth Press.



The Horse Was Milked

In a room a spoon upon the fire
was cooking his secret desire

When all was cooked he got a belt
and hurried before the horse could melt.

He strapped the belt across his arm;
wiped the needle so it'd not harm

and tightened, tightened the belt for a vein.
He pulled and his arm began to pain.

With steadied hand he waited the bulge -
waited the dream in which he'd indulge.

And it came, and the needle filled it with joy.
but the horse was milked and there was no joy.

He fell to the ground without a sound
and rolled his head like a merry-go-round.

Then he rubbed and shook and yanked his hair,
and vomited air, nothing but air.

Deep in the night he rolled and groaned.
O never was a poor soul so stoned.








It's the little things that'll really drive you nuts.



pazeet

pazeet

pazeet

pazeet pazout

WAAAHOOOSSSSH

that’s a woman
across the restaurant
sneezing

a delicate lady-like little
“pazeet”
at first, until the pressure

finally builds
beyond denial and she lets
it all out in a big mucus-

liberating
“waaahooossssh”,
her napkin blown off the table

in the resulting gale…

I hope she feels better
now –
I know I do…

cause those stifled little
cat-sneeze
“pazeets”

drive me nuts –

it’s like going back in time
and finding oneself on the Titanic,
knowing,

while everyone else is drinking
champagne
and eating snails or glazed goat testicles

or something, that there be icebergs out there,
big ones,
and everyone’s going to die

in a screaming panic
etcetera etcetera etcetera
and I’m thinking

goddamn,
woman, let it
blow -

it won’t be the first time
we’ve seen
snot

and it's not
a big deal, i
promise

and the idea of seeing it
hanging from your
fancy-pantsy nose brings

an egalitarian rush
to good ol’ boy rednecks
like me

who’ve lived under the shadow
of your fancy-pantsy nose
most of our life…

so maybe I’m being
indelicate –
wouldn’t be the first time –

but I hate those little “pazeets”
and would love
to see you let it go with a big “waahoossssh” -

it’d make you feel better,
loosen up some of that Emily-Post
constipation,

might even make you a little sexy,
even human and all – humanistical, often
a positive factor in my more enduring romantic

relationships – maybe melt that
iceberg
into a warm little puddle

I might want to take
a dip
in

or is that too
Kraft-Ebling – outside the box
and all –

should
I turn myself in,
put a big sign in my front yard -

sneezeaphile
lurking?
BEWARE all allergy sufferers








Next, I have several shorter poems by Yehuda Amichai, from his book, A Life in Poetry - 1948-1994.

Amichai, who lives in Jerusalem, is considered to be the most prominent poet of Israel and the best known Hebrew poet internationally. His work has been translated into over twenty languages,including, most recently, Chinese and Japanese.

The poems in this book were translated by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav.


from Six Poems for Tamar.

2

Your laughter likes grapes:
Lots of green, round laughs.

Your body full of lizards,
All love the sun.

Flowers sprouted in the field, grass on my cheeks.
Everything was possible.

3

Always, you lie
On my Eyes.

Every day of our life together
Ecclesiastes erases a verse of his book.

We are the saving evidence in the terrible trial.
We shall acquit them all!

5

Your heart plays hide-and-seek
In your veins.

Your eyes still warm as beds,
Time lay in them.

Your thighs - two sweet yesterdays,
I am coming to you.

All hundred and fifty Psalms
Shout together.


Rain on the Battlefield

Rain falls on the faces of my friends.
My living friends, who
Cover their heads with a blanket -
And my dead friends, who
Don't


Ibn Gabirol

Sometimes pus,
Sometimes poetry -

Always something secreted,
Always pain.

My father was a tree in the Fathers' Grove,
Covered with green mold.

Oh, widows of flesh, orphans of blood.
I must flee.

Eyes sharp like can openers
Opened heavy secrets.

But through the wound in my chest
God peeps at the world.

I am the door
In His abode.


Out of Three or Four People in a Room

Out of three or four people in a room
One always stands at the window.
Has to see the evil among the thorns
And the fires on the hill
And how people who went out whole,
Are returned in the evening
Like small change to their homes.

Out of three or four people in a room
One always stands at the window.
His hair dark above his thoughts.
Words stand behind him.
Before him, voices straying without a kit bag,
Hearts without rations, prophecies without water,
And big stones returned
But left sealed like letters with no
Address and no receiver.








Things change. The earth and its creatures adapt. Except, often for those like us, deeply in delusion and in need of humility, who think it is the earth, not us, who must adapt.



opportunity abides

having breakfast –

biscuits and gravy

hillbilly health food -

watching the sun
rise
orange
on the meadow
across the road

shadow here,
cast from the building I’m in,
bright sunrise-shock
colors there,
red, brown,
orange, and green
from fat trunks
of five hundred-year-old
oaks

meadows
and pastures pocketed among
high-rise hotels and office parks,
still some of that
in the city,
though it’s disappearing fast,
cattle grazing
one day, asphalt parking lot
the next, moms changing dirty diapers
on the backseat of their SUVs, plastic
grocery bags waving from thorny
mesquite limbs, hillsides leveled,
cattle gone to Burger King

but the deer stay,
and the possums and skunks
and raccoons,
all making their way in civilization’s
cracks -
the deer, especially, finding
high-priced plants from Lowes
or Home Depot every bit as tasty
as meadow grass
and skunk weed -" my place," they say
to the red-faced usurpers
squatting on land where
the deer and antelope played
in better days, "but we’re reasonable,"
they say, "keep bringing in
all this tasty grub
and you can stay as long as you want"

and raccoon agrees,
so many new garbage cans to raid,
and so little
time

opportunity abides








Here are several poems from the anthology, After Aztlan - Latino Poets of the Ninties, published by David R. Godine, Publisher, in 1992.



The first poem is by Rosemary Catacalos, winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Prize in Poetry for her collection Again, for the First Time and former recipient of the Dobie Paisano Fellowship. She formerly directed the Literature Program at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio and is presently Director of the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University.


One Man's Family

in memory of Bill Gilmore

There was the Dog Man again today,
bent under his tow sack,
making his daily pilgrimage
along St. Mary's street
with his rag tied to his forehead,
with his saintly leanness
and his bunch of dogs
and his clothes covered with
short smelly hair,
Pauline, the waitress up at
the White House Cafe, says
he used to be a college professor.
In a college. Imagine.
And now he's all the time
with them dogs.
Lets them sleep in the same room
with him. Lets them eat
the same things he eats.
Pauline don't like it.
All them eyes that light up in the dark
like wolves'.

I imagine he carries his mother's
wedding dress around in that filthy sac.
I imagine he takes the dress out on Sundays
and talks to it about the dogs,
the way he might talk to Pauline
if she ever gave him the chance.
About how to him those seven dogs
are seven faithful wives,
seven loaves, seven brothers.
About how those seven snouts bulldozing
through neighborhood garbage and memories
give off a warmth that's just as good
as all the breasts and apple pies and Christmas trees
and books and pipes and slippers
that a man could use on this earth.
But mostly about how they're dogs.
Friends that don't have to be anything else.
About how nothing can be more right
than for a man to live
with what he is willing and able to trust.


The next poem is by Martin Espada, author of three collections of poetry and winner of the first PEN/Revson Prize in Poetry. Awarded poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Arts Council, Espada is a practicing lawyer in Boston.


Two Mexicanos Lynched in
Santa Cruz, California, May 3, 1877


More than the moment
when forty gringo vigilantes
cheered the rope
that snapped two Mexicanos
into the grimacing sleep of broken necks,

more than the floating corpses,
trussed like cousins of the slaughterhouse,
dangling in the bowed mute humility
of the condemned,

more than the Virgen de Guadalupe
who blesses the brownskinned
and the crucified,
or the guitar-plucking skeletons
they will become
on the Dia de los Muertos,

remain the faces of the lynching party:
faded as pennies from 1877, a few stunned
in the blur of execution,
a high-collar boy smirking, some peering
from the shade of bowler hats, but all
crowding into the photograph.


And my last poem from the anthology is by Demetria Martinez, formerly a reporter for the Albuquerque Journla, she is now a writer for the Catholic Register in Kansas City , Missouri.


Crossing Over

    "a sanctimonous band of renegades who advocate open violation of the law
        - Southwest Regional Commissioner for the U.S. Department of Justice,
        Immigration and Naturalization Service on the sanctuary movement

Somebody threw a baby
into the Rio Grande River.

We scrub the scum off him
in the back of a station wagon
as we leave El Paso.
We tuck him, sleeping,
in a picnic basket
as we near the check point,
Officers see our fishing rods
and nod us through.
At midnight south of Albuquerque
we invent a name, a date of birth,
singing rock-a-bye in English,
burying he placenta of his past.

2.
When Grandma left the Catholic Church
and joined Assemblies of God,
they dipped her in the Rio Grande.
She stood and cried.
Grandma, grandma, the river's not
the same. Sweet Jesus
got deported, this baby
bruised and hungry,
my nipples red and pained.

3.
Who's throwing babies
in the river?
What bastard
signs the release?

Who will break
the bastard's brains
and let this baby
keep his name?








Another cat story.



she knows how to play me

the cat,
Kitty Pride, so named
15 years ago after a
comic book super-hero,
almost died
last week

or, more honestly stated,
Kitty Pride
was almost killed by me last week - though
softer words were used -
saved, only at the moment of decision
by a $400 toss of the dice
the vet said probably wouldn’t work

but it did

and she's back to normal, or what
passes for normal for a 16 year-old cat -

walking normally,
head up,
calm, alert, and curious
and back to snoring when she sleeps -

but the cost,
beyond the cash,
is a gel smeared on the roof of her mouth
four times a day,
and thought I have not yet lost a finger,
it is a procedure neither she nor I
likes at all
and I am beginning to wonder
how long
she and I can put up with it -

but such a pharmacological menagerie
we are already,
the dog, gets a pill a day
wrapped in Velveeta, for arthritis,
and I get 4 shots a day and a pocket
full of pills twice a day for a bunch of different
stuff -

and I don’t intend to stop any of that
so how could I consider stopping
the finger in the cat’s mouth thing

it’s an open and undecided question

one answer when I have my finger
stuck where the cat doesn’t think a finger
ought to be stuck,
and another as she follows me around,
always wanting to sit next to me
on the couch or in my lap when we sleep

no question,
she knows how to play me








Here are a couple of poems from the anthology, North of Wakulla, published by Anhinga Press in 1989.



The first poem is by Charles Ghigna, poet-in-residence and chair of the creative wrting department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham.


When Howard Became Jesus

from Howard Be Thy Name

No one in the huddle laughed
when Howard said he was Jesus,
that if we did not believe him
we were all sinners doomed to hell.
The next play was a hand-off to Howard.
Everyone, even our team, piled on,
grabbing for Howard, for the ball,
for the chance to cling to something solid.
When our boyhood heap had finally become still,
a pointed shadow drew our eyes way down the field
and there against the goalpost leaned Howard,
the warm ball in his hands like a baby,
his eyes round and deep like the barrels of a gun.
Walking home, everyone was silent but Howard.
He said he had wanted to tell us about it before,
but was not sure that we were ready to listen,
not sure we were ready to believe.
He said for the past year and a half
as he lay each night on his back,
his arms stretched out in a cross,
his feet so neatly together,
he was sure he had chosen to lead us
in the path of righteousness for his namesake.
He said it was not luck that he had aced every test,
that the bookcase and birdhouse he built in shop class
won ribbons at the county fair.
He said that was just his way of being Jesus,
that we must learn to trust his perfect ways
and regard his saintly airs with adulation.
But we walked on in silence, each new step
so tight and full of fear we could not breathe,
could not break away and run on home alone.
At his house we stopped and watched him enter,
his eyes releasing us at last behind the door.
That night beside our beds we fell to prayer
and prayed that all that afternoon was just a dream,
that we would wake up in the morning and find Howard
in the huddle telling lies just like before.


My second poem from the anthology is by Jennifer Joan German, a student when the anthology was published and 1987 editor of 88 Eyrie, Tallahassee Community Colleges Humanities magazine.


Think of Good Things - Merry-Go-Rounds and Japan

There are fireflies blinking in the woods
behind this cinder-block palace I live in.
Watching them makes me think of clean things, like rolled-up
newspapers and baseball games and the tiny fiddler crabs
I used to catch on the beach.
Every fiddler crab had a different picture on its back
and when I was a little girl, I thought that that
was what Japan would look like - pretty and polished,
and everything painted the colors that taste good.

Somebody forgot and left Japan outside.
The colors have dried ut and gotten hard,
and the clear bells and windows that look like paper
won't make nightmares go away anymore.








Just a casual observation by one of my several poetic alter egos, this one the bemused redneck, finding out to his continuing dismay that almost every thing he grew up thinking was true, isn't.



except for the gay guys

you can call me
unreconstructed-man
if you want, but
how is it
that men these days
often so look like pussies -

except for the
gay guys
who look like
they could climb a mountain
with one hand
while fighting off a pack
of hungry wolves
with the other -

it’s too much time
spent
helping mom look up
quiche recipes
in Wikipedia,
too much watching
“Mash” on TV, catching
the Alan Alda sensitive-guy
bug
till their balls shrunk
to the size of a black-eyed
pea
and they started arranging
flowers
in the back of their minds
while pretending
to watch Monday Night Foot-
ball

it’s gotten to where
I’ve got to call up some gay fellas
if I’m wanting a good
manly conversation








My last three library poems this week are by the wonderful Philip Larkin, from his book, High Windows, one of those tiny little chapbooks from faber and faber that sell used for $1.98, truly poetry for the masses.



High Windows

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm.
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives -
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back
And thought, That'll be the life;
No God anymore, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds.
And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing and is nowhere, and is endless.


Sad Steps

Groping back to bed after a piss
I part thick curtains, and am startled by
The rapid clouds, the moon's cleanliness.

Four o'clock: wedge-shadowed gardens lie
Under a cavernous, a wind-picked sky.
There's something laughable about this,

The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow
Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
(Stone-colored light sharpening he roofs below)

High and preposterous and separate-
Lozenge off love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,

One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardne3ss and the brightness and the plain
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare

Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can't come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.


Annus Mirabilis

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

Up till then there'd been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for a ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.








My last poem this week is one I've used here before. It is my Veterans Day poem.

September through December, 1964, I went through Peace Corps training at the University of New Mexico. After completing the training, 20 years old and half educated, it was by mutual agreement (though grudging on my part) that I was not prepared to go live in a jungle and tell people how to live, so I went home and back to college for half the year, then still bored and needing money, went to work for a small newspaper. In order to keep my draft deferment, I enrolled in a small community college, but neglected to go to any classes. That oversight came to the attention of my draft board and I received my draft notice two weeks before Christmas, 1965.

On January 10th, 1966, I began basic training for the US Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base here in San Antonio. I celebrated my 22nd birthday in basic training.

Though I initially fought the draft notice, my military service was not, in the end a arduous or unproductive thing. I spent more than a year in training, including 9 months at Indiana University, before I ever reported to my first duty station in Germany. After a year, I was shipped for another year to the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan.

Altogether, it was an experience I'm pleased I had.

But then no one ever shot at me and I was never required to shoot back, a different kind of service from that of many of my VietNam Vet contemporaries, leaving them, I'm sure memories of a much different kind than mine.

I wrote the poem January, 2008, after driving past Lackland and remembering my first day there.



marching as to war

on this day
forty-two years ago,
newly shorn
and uniformed
in the middle
of another
bloody,
losing war,
I was in
my forth day
of learning
the arts of combat,
which seemed,
at that early
point,
to be mostly
about getting up
in the very dark
of morning,
and marching,
always marching,
in godawful winter
weather
to places we did not
care to go

many of us
would soon learn
more advanced
and terrible
lessons,
while others,
like me,
would find safe
haven
in specialities
that involved
neither shooting
nor being shot
at -

veterans
now
of the they-also-serve-
who-only-stand-and-wait
brigade, we
honor those
who fought
then
and those
who fight now

and thank
god
again
we are not
them












That's the story for this week. The normal disclaimer that all material in the blog remains the property of its creators goes here, along with the note that I'd be happy to have people borrow my stuff if proper credit is given.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog and still proud owner of the flag pin on my blue jean jacket that I wore marching in the 2004 Veterans Day parade as part of the Westley Clark for President contingent.

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