Now That That's Over   Tuesday, December 28, 2010


VI.1.1.





So I'm back, returned with the new year, beginning the sixth year of "Here and Now" on the web.

I'm writing this lead before selecting pictures for this issue. I think I'll be selecting from my own file, images that suggest the starkness of winter, following the snow of my last post. Snow, though many readers have had much more of it than they want this year, lays a soft blanket over the landscape. Not so in places like south-central Texas where there is nothing to cover the stark, rocky desolation of a gray, snowless winterscape.

I'm also featuring myself as poet this month. In addition to my regular contribution to the post, I'm adding a section of my poems inspired by my reading of the weekly science section in The New York Times. I have all the awe of scientific mystery and marvel in me, with none of the patience required to actually understand the science of it. At heart, I guess I'm still a thirteen-year-old science fiction reader. Most of my "science" poems were published somewhere or other. I can think off-hand of the web-journals The Green Tricycle and The Planet Magazine - both I think no longer on the web and the absence of both a loss for poets and poetry readers.

It is the way of the world, such loss, but still time to move on.

So Let the new year begin.



Robert Louis Stevenson
Requiem

Wallace Stevens
Of Mere Being

William Carlos Williams
The World Contracted to a Recognizable Image

Wilfred Owen
Futility

Me
an atheist writes a poem on Christmas Eve

Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi
The Day Sky
Beautiful Hands
Old Sweet Beggar
I Knew We Would Be Friends
The Happy Virus


Me
mocamuddymacarooniepunietoonie

Wendy Barker
Deer Running

Me
a morning, slow starting

Jorie Graham
Emergence

Me
1/1/11

Fawziyya Abu Khalid
Poem

Gokhan Tok
Talk

Samih Al-Qasim
I Do Not Blame Your

Muhammad Al-As'ad
A Song

Featured Poet (Me)
red planet rebirth
star bright
the magnetosphere is running down
the shape of things that are
through the 100-meter lens
how it all comes about
our place in the story of space and time
accidents happen
before you were flesh
fleshware


James Welch
D-Y Bar
The Only Bar in Dixon


Me
circles

J.R. Thelin
Introducing Dorrance

Me
so much more to it

Joyce Sutphen
Not Quite Born Again
Civil Defense
Augie Keeps Gordot Waiting


Me
pumping and grinding

Richard Wilbur
A Digression

Me
the way I remember it

Guillaume Apollinaire
The Synagogue
The Bells
Sign


Me
what I’m supposed to be doing









Back from winter break, I start with several poems from a book I was given for Christmas. The book, Till I End My Song - A Gathering of Last Poems, edited and with commentary by Harold Bloom, was published by HarperCollins this year.

Bloom describes three kinds of poems in the book, poems literally the last poems a poet wrote before death, poems not the last, but written near the end of life, and poems that, to him, seem to signal the end of a poet's career.

I have chosen this week to stick to shorter pieces. There are very good more lengthy poems in the book that I will use sometime in the future.



The first poem is by Robert Louis Stevenson who lived from 1850 to 1894, dying at the age of 44 of tuberculosis. The poem includes two of the best known lines in poetry.


Requiem

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
   And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea
   And the hunter home from the hill.



Next, I have this poem by Wallace Stevens. Stevens was born in 1879 and died in 1955. The poem was written shortly before the poet went to the hospital to die.


Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches,
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.


Next, William Carlos Williams, 1883 - 1963. This, according to Bloom, was Williams' last poem.


the World Contracted to a Recognizable Image.

at the small end of an illness
there was a picture
probably Japanese
which filled my eye

an idiotic picture
except it was all I recognized
the wall lived for me in that picture
I clung to it as a fly


Wilfred Owen was born in 1893. He was killed in war in 1918, six months after writing this poem.


Futility

Move him into the sun -
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown,
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds, -
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star,
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved - still warm - too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?








Though I'm sure few will read it this way, this poem was truly meant as a peace gesture to all those who live a life devoted to beliefs I find unbelievable.



an atheist writes a poem on Christmas Eve

writing a poem
on Christmas eve
reminds me that I was

a practicing Christian once;
I practiced and practiced
and practiced

but never got it right
so I cut back
and became, like many

of the Christians I know,
a non-practicing Christian,
and I non-practiced and non-

practiced and never got it
right
so I quit all together

leaving nothing I miss behind
but Christmas joy, which
is hard to sustain when all it’s

about is picking non-religious
Christmas cards
and the most colorful wrapping

paper
and listening, politely,
to Christmas songs for three

months, mostly sung by over-the-hill,
or, sometimes, dead, gents in sweaters
roasting their moldy chestnuts, etc….

I mean,
there is something truly uplifting
about the whole Baby Jesus thing,

even without shepherds guarding
their flocks at night and angels and
farm animals and Wise Men from

China and a star shining in the east
- a nova, most likely, somewhere far away,
making one wonder how many living

creatures on planets far far away
roasted in the fire of an exploding
sun so this over-achieving Christian

God could announce the birth of a
son - but wait, that’s a hostile
formulation

and I want to be respectful
on this Christian holiday, not
hostile, so just forget I said that

and think back to the Baby Jesus,
so uplifting and aspirationally human,
believers, like the rest of us seeking,

somehow, to find a holy presence,
a better, higher self in mankind’s genetic
makeup, unable to find such goodness in their

kind without divine intervention - this
subjugation of the human soul to some
alien and unnatural power, all beyond all,

the reason I deny all gods,
but, again, I slip into my own
philosophies and preoccupations

when my purpose in writing
this poem was simply
to honor the beliefs of my Christian

brothers and sisters, so, best I set aside
myself and do that now, sincerely
and concisely

by wishing them all
the peace and joy of this season,
their holiday of hope and best intentions








From the death poems in my first library selections this week, to this, The Subject Tonight is Love, by Hafiz. The book was published in 1996 by Penguin Compass. The poems in the book were translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

Hafiz, or, Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi was a Persian mystic and lyric poet of the 14th century. His collected works are to be found in the homes of most Iranians, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-Fourteenth Century Persian writing more than any other author.



The Day Sky

Let us be like
Two falling stars in the day sky

Let no on know of our sublime beauty
As we hold hands with God
And burn

Into a sacred existence that defies -
That surpasses

Every description of ecstasy
And love


Beautiful Hands

This is the kind of Friend
You are -

Without making me realize

My soul's anguished history,

You slip into my house at night,

And while I was sleeping,

You silently carry off

All my suffering and sordid past

In Your beautiful
Hands


Old Sweet Beggar

The
Path to God
Made me such an old sweet beggar.

I was starving until one night
My love tricked God Himself
to fall into my bowl.

Now Hafiz is infinitely rich,
But all I ever want to do

Is keep emptying out
My emerald-filled
Pockets

Upon
This tear-stained
World


I Knew We Would Be Friends


As soon as you opened your mouth
And I heard your soft
Sounds

I knew we would be
Friends.

The first time, dear pilgrim, I heard
You laugh

I knew it would not take me long
To turn you back into
God.


The Happy Virus

I caught the happy virus last night

When I was out singing beneath the stars.

It is remarkably contagious -

So kiss me.









Another Christmas poem, this one written on Christmas Day. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a holiday-loving kind of guy. I enjoy my life and feel a lost when it is interrupted.



mocamuddymacarooniepunietoonies

Elvis
with a blue blue blue Christmas
overhead, strange table, strange people,
strange place, strange echoes
of baristas laughing and strange languages
of mocamuddymacarooniepunietoonies and “talls”
that are short and “grandes” that aren’t so
grand…

Starbucks on Christmas Day

and trying to write a poem
in the midst of all that “strange” is..well…
STRANGE! - it’s the curse of a holiday
when none of the places, activities, people
who normally bring the pleasure of regularity to my regular
every-day day are not available, lost in stockings
hung on the mantle with care and
JC Penny gift cards lost in piles
of torn Xmas wrapping and
hot cocoa by a roaring
fire

instead,
I have to do with joy to the whole darn world
and Christmas cookies
and fat old bearded men who smell like reindeer
and in the middle of it all
I am a traveler who forgot his visa, a sailing ship
lost
in unfamiliar currents,
a train who has skipped its track, a homing pigeon,
orphaned and ignorant of home

I hate to be a self-designated
Scrooge
but I will be so glad when this day is over
and the world returns
to its customary
orbit








Next, I have a poem by Wendy Barker from her book Winter Chickens and Other Poems. The book was published in 1990 by Corona Publishing of San Antonio.

Barker, born in 1942, is Poet-in-Residence and a professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she has taught since 1982.



Deer Running

This is not brush weaving
in and out of wind.
The deer leaps
away from the car, terror
explodes in her legs,
she hurls against the wire
webbing of the fence,
tangling through.

When she crawls
into the safety of the cedar brake
she stands only to fall
on her side, and fall
again, again,
before she moves off
and loses us
among the dry leaves.

We're late
for David's piano lesson.
He says, "Well, we did what we could."

This morning, on the stairs,
it felt good, good to run
to the coffee, clean dishes,
you at the table.

I remember in southside Chicago,
you said, when you saw them
coming, twenty or thirty,
moving straight for us,
you said, "Walk as fast
as you can, walk.
Walk like hell. Get out
your car keys now
and slide in fast.

But I don't think
they were after us.
We were just there,
they were in a righteous
hurry, headed somewhere else.

She had no room.
She couldn't jump
because the cedars crowd so thick
and high near the fences
by the road.

For knowing the music
David's teacher gave him
a plastic bust of Brahms.
She's teaching him to use
the right fingers
on the right keys,
not to rush the tempo.








I like slow-starting winter days.



like a morning, slow starting

barely a hint
in the dark
that it’s 7 a.m.

a reflected shadow
of orange
against the tree line

to the east -
an overcast sky, but no fog,
passing car lights, needle

sharp,
prick the dark morning -
the morning

before the morning
before Christmas day, frantic
on hold, like everyone’s

fed to full
on all the frantic in the fridge
and they’ve reached, already,

a post-feast stupor,
shoes off, on the couch,
that kind of day

ahead,
if we’re lucky
and think to live well,

like a morning,
slow starting, sets
the rhythm for the day








Next I have a poem by Jorie Graham. The poem is from her book Overlord, described by a reviewer in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette as "a gripping, intimate, and expansive exploration of the way the despair of war connects civilizations..." The book was published in 2005 by HarperCollins and was selected as a "Notable Book of the Year" by The New York Times Book Review.

Graham, born in 1950, is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. She replaced poet Seamus Heaney as Boylston Professor at Harvard, becoming the first woman to be awarded this position.



Upon Emergence

Have I that to which to devote my
self? Have I devotion? The shoes, the
clothes? The drowning of appetites, as the chariots
were drowned. I sit at the very edge
of the garden, paying out my attention.
The moving and moving of the mottled interminable
forms - the deepness in the unseen, the
different deepnesses in the lisping way the gaze
takes time to alight. Nothing solid as itself -
that too. A style to visible world which is - yes like
death - but also like a spume, or the way music seems to formulate
words - a style which I can feel slip free of
point of view and gaze, the artificer mind
making explicit what is not - as in the vision of a place
                              inside a place. It is a
future that I see? Right here, just underneath this rock I
lift - brood of tiny helmets going everywhere towards defeat - it is
sunlight laying itself hard
on the geranium leaves - which it also
fattens - an existent thing, the sun, yes, and yet, if so, where
does it exist? The fine hairs on the geranium leaves stand up
and catch the light. If you bend close you'll see the
future there - do you remember? "Do you re-
member" is that what devotion says? Do not forget to
remember. I feel, inside, a fantastic pressing of blood against
this skin. I hold m open hands up, here,
before my face, I listen hard to them.
Clouds press. The passings of their shadows press
onto each palm. There is no underneath.
It is all souvenir.
The bird that was just feeding here
is now appearing in my mind. The blood
inside me now must take it round and round. Hardly changed,
it bends and pecks at the last bits of seed below
the lavender. Riding on the blood in me,
its wings spread out. And also bloody, yes, the grass
of mind, bright red its stalks. Also glints on its claws, its
wingtips rising up, above the streams - of me? in me? -
borne round and round by my sticky devotion here, my thinking it...
So this is the source of evil? Of course I know
how small it is. But what lies buried at the core
of this holding-in-mind, this final place in which we are
compelled to bury it? We live in time. It is a
holiday. All round it timelessness which will begin again,
yet still, for now, sticks to one time like remnant rain
after the place is solidly in place under fresh sun.
Concerning the gods I have no means.
But from this path what is it must be
seen, what must be thought and spoken of - from this,
what is it that is taken from the visible -
what is it that cannot be given back
in any form - which burns off - without
residue - just by coming into contact with
the verb of human inwardness? How helpless they are -
both sides - can the gods really know? - the
ineffable pain, amazement, thronging drift
of accident whereby freedom of world, or
subject, are forced to give way? Oh
"path of inquiry"! All of it unable to die
or kill. also unable to stay calmly under-
neath, or in any arrival place - no hell, even,
no hell...I know it is only the visible world.
But nothing is small enough to escape us.
Can I devote myself to setting it free?
Where, where is it free? Before I think it,
what is its state? And if I summon it
to mind, if I begin to summon it? Unbearable
                              tyranny. Tiny
monster picking up the reins of my eyes.
The chariots of the sun "says" the tiniest god (definition).
Beyond whispers the hillside, the paragraph
break, the insuck of breath before this
rest. Where is your brother hisses the page.








Happy New Year?



1/1/11

when i was a kid
i was disappointed
every year

when i’d wake up
and nothing had changed -
despite all the hoopla

the night before -
i’d crawl out of bed,
put my bare feet on the

cold morning floor,
ready to welcome all
that was new and wonderful

in the new and wonderful year,
only to discover nothing was new,
same old places, same old people,
same old sharp-nosed teachers

and piety-pounding preachers and
schoolyard bullies, with their premature
growth spurts, and pretty little girls

with mean little teeth
and my rusty old bicycle and the lump
in my mattress and....

this was back in the day,
when,
i was sure change was my friend,

now i know better -
now i know that change is a scuzzy
old bitch with a dirty mind and evil intentions

who’ll screw you every
time,
twice in the morning and three times after the sun goes down...

but still i hold out hope,

for still i remember the year
i got my own growth spurt and the
school-yard bully peed his pants when he saw me coming -

so just wait until next year,
i’m thinking
on this cold new year’s morning -

just wait until next year -

it’ll all be different
then








I have several poems now from A Flag of Childhood, an anthology of poems from the middle east collected by San Antonio poet Naomi Shihab Nye.



The first poem is by Fawziyya Abu Khalid Born in Saudi Arabia in 1955, the poet studied sociology in the United States and has taught at the Girls' College of King Saud University. Her first book of poems was published when she was eighteen years old.

The poem was translated by Salwa Jabsheh and John Heath-Stubbs.


Poem

Without paper or pen
   into your heart I reach
Listening is more poignant
   than any speech.


And now another short poem, this time written by Gokhan Tok. Born in 1972 in Ankara, the poet graduated from the sociology department of the Middle East Technical University and works at The Turkish Foundation of Science and Research.

Yusuf Earadam translated the poem.


Talk

You never hear it
but at breakfast the sweetest talk
is between the jam and the honey.


The next poem is by Palestinian poet Samih Al-Qasim. Born in Jordan in 1939, Al-Qasim, lives in Nazareth. He has worked as a journalist and has run a press and folk arts center. He has been imprisoned many times for his political activity.

The poem was translated by Sharif S. Elmusa and Naomi Shihab Nye.


I Do Not Blame You

You wings are small for this storm -
I do not blame you.
You're good, and frightened, and
I am the hurricane. I used to be a wing
struggling in the storm
but then I became the storm,
lacking light, shade, or a wise language.
And now I confess
to be a lost planet circling a lost world
and I do not blame you:
What has tender mint to do with the storm?


And my last poem from the anthology is by Muhammad Al-As'ad. Born in 1944 in Palestine, Al-As'ad lived first in a village near Haifa, but moved with his family as a child to Iraq after becoming refugees in 1948. He has worked as a journalist in Kuwait and has published an autobiography, as well as poetry and criticism. He lives in Cyprus.

His poem was translated by May Jayyusi and Jadk Collom.


A Song

When we remember things
One string rings out.
Woman alone
Plays on all the strings
With one stroke
Because she is an entire homeland.








As we step this week into the future, I decided to be my own "featured poet," including in the post, in addition to my regular ration of poems, a selection of poems I wrote over the years inspired by things I read in the weekly Science section of The New York Times. To me, all current science seems like the science fiction i read when i was twelve years old, and I love it.

Some of the poems have been published, some have not.

And it turns out, even after discarding some, there's still a lot of them.



red planet rebirth

oxidized remains of cathedrals and commerce
brought to dust by the savage rub of time

red dust so fine i spreads like a cloud
across the plains and hills all around

    reborn virgin bride

ready for life again after millennia
alone in the cold, black crypt of space


star bright

imagine the stars
on cold desert nights,
spread across the wide black sky,
beyond the desert and high mesas,
past prairies where trickster coyote calls,
past the land of mortal men
to the place where no man goes,
the place where spirits hunt
ghost of buffalo

imagine sleeping
with this blaze of night around you,
black sky pricked
with stars' unchallenged light -
how you must fear the starless night,
when clouds close the sky around you
and bind you prisoner to the dark


the magnetosphere is running down

magma flow
curling, coiling
through red hot embers
thrashing, flashing
sparks of elemental essence
dancing to the tune
of gravity's fandangos,
turning within turning,
the one driving the other
driving the other
influence on influence
until the machinery of dependence
becomes worn from the friction
of turning on turning
and the clockwork stops
and stasis slowly settles,
ten quickly collapses
upon itself, becoming
something else,
another kind of turning,
new imperatives,
new tunes,
a new dance starting


the shape of things that are

all matter,
and that includes you and me
and the '49 Chrysler
upon whose soft cloth seat
I first held in my hand the tender pink breast
of Sophi Gallanti, all of it, in its base nature,
is either a donut or a hole

everything, that is,
can be molded, without tearing any part
or joining together any parts not already connected,
into a sphere or a donut

that with sphereness in its heart
cannot be made donut;
that whose base nature is donut
cannot into sphereness come

so spaghetti a sphere will always be,
while rigatoni
will always be the other

thus it was that Sophi and I, despite our so propitious start,

sphere she was,
rounded, certain, calm and complete,
while my donut nature struggled to join our unconnected parts


through the 100-meter lens

we will see it all

the beginning
and the end before
the beginning
and beyond
to all beginnings
and all endings
until finally
we will see it
the face of it
who/that started
all the marbles rolling
all the dominos falling
the god-awesome it
some call the
awesome god of all
maybe/maybe not
for it is what it is
unchanging until before
the greedy eye of man
it will be seen and known
no longer a question
for philosophers and mystics
but a paragraph
in a middle-school textbook
a thrill ride at a theme park
a comic illustration
on the side of
a second-graders lunch box


how it all comes about

out there sometime is the mother
of all there is and ever was,
the prime, the matriverse, defying
all vocabularies of science and faith,
existing in some indefinable dimension
of simultaneous is and is not,
mother of all gods, creator of all creators
and progenitor of all their works, spewing
from her womb all that is that is not her,
creating a cosmos of time and space
and energy and matter such qs you and i,
multiplied a million billionfold, always creating,
stars, grains of sand in a desert ever growing,
from the essences of nothing, making all


our place in the story of space and time

we are of the same stuff as stars,
made in the spasm of creation
that began all space and time,
electrical impulses,
static of the expanding universe,
positive and negative influences
that form a thing we call matter
arranged in a manner we call me

our birthing
not the arrival of something new,
but reincarnation,
rearrangement of elements present
since the first day, sparks
thrown off by that day's conception

out death,
not the end,
but another reformation,
a recycling of the stuff that made us
a so that we might become again
a star or a tree or another babe in arms
or just a speck of universal element
drifting for as long as there is time

until it will finally come
that all the pieces come to rest
and slowly fade away in the darkness
of never-light, never-time, never space
never was and never will be again

for nothing came all
and to nothing it will all return


accidents happen

how can a thing
suddenly
be there
where before
there was no thing

because
there never really is
no thing

thing is eternal

changing shape and form
but always there
in an eternal loop
of forever is

reborn in every circuit
to something new

i am me in this circuit
and you are you

in the next
we could be mice
in the stucco cottage walls
of a bookish, pipe-smoking
pachycephalosaurus

in another
we might be kings
or even gods

but in most
we are not at all

there is no us
in these circuits
and there is no here
because of the trillion
billion trillion accidents
that led to here and to us
some number
turned another way
and where we might have been
is a thing so not-here and not-us
as to be inexplicable
even if there was an us
to try understand

until the next circuit
of the loop brings another
permutation of the endless
possibilities of chance


before you were flesh

before you were flesh
you were a spring blossom,
an amalgam of sun
and nurturing rain come softly
in the grace of night

before you were a blossom,
you were a fascination,
a free-gloating design
in the all-reaching universe
of it's own creative passion

before you were real
you were eternal

before you were one
you were all


fleshware

blood and gristle
forged from trash
of exploding stars,
fragile, short-lived, prone
to sag and corruption,
helpless at birth,
pitiful in unremitting decay

such a poor use our body seems
for the eternal elements of creation

but lightening strikes within

tiny electrical jabs that jump
from receptor to receptor,
creating art and religion, imagining love,
finding courage, honor, theories
of our own origin, joy and laughter
to mock the truth of our condition

so much more than we appear to be

stardust

offspring of unimaginable light
seeking an antidote to dark








Next, I have two poems by James Welch. Born in Montana, poet and novelist Welch attended schools on the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap Reservations and graduated from the University of Montana where studied writing.

The poems are from his book Riding the Earthboy 40, published in 1971 by Confluence Press of Lewiston, Idaho.



D-Y Bar

The tune is cowboy, the words, sentimental crap.
Farther out, wind is mending sagebrush,
stapling it to earth in rows only a badger
would recommend. Reservoirs are dry,
the sky commands a cloud high
to skip the Breaks bristling with heat
and stunted pine.

In stunted light, Bear Child tells a story
to the mirror. He acts his name out,
creeks muscling gorges fill his glass
with gumbo. The bear crawls on all fours
and barks like a dog. Slithering snake-wise
he balances a nickel on his nose. The effect,
a snake in heat.

We all know our names here. Summer is a poor
season to skip this place or complain
about marauding snakes. Often when wind
is cool off mountains and the flats
are green, cars stop for gas, motors clicking
warm to songs of a junction bar, head down,
the dormant bear.


The Only Bar in Dixon

These Indians once imitated life.
Whatever made them warm
they called wine, song or sleep,
a luck number on the tribal roll.

Now the stores have gone the gray
of this November sky. Cars
whistle by, chrome wind, knowing
something lethal in the dust.

A man could build a reputation here.
Take that redhead at the bar -
She knows we're thugs, killers
on a fishing trip with luck.

No luck. No room for those
sensitive enough to know they're beat.
Even the Flathead turns away,
a river thick with bodies,

Indians on their way to Canada.
Take the redhead - yours for just a word,
a promise that the wind will warm
and all the saints come back for laughs.








Watching night turn to day it's not hard to fall into thinking about cycles and circles.



circles

a new year
approaches
just a few dawns

away -
one rotation ending
as another begins,

circles
within circles
within larger circles still

as our moon
circles
bringing dark to light

night skies,
as our earth turns,
bringing day and night,

circling our sun, bringing
singing birds of spring, summer
meadow flowers, tangy taste

of autumn leaves,
chill winds that blow
in winter,

even as our sun
and all it’s brother-sister stars
turn

on the universal axis
of everything
we can know, for now,

but maybe not for always,
as we may someday
know of other circles, turns,

rotations
there are that now
we cannot see

and the All we know
will grow again
and we, in our knowing

will grow again
even as we shrink ever
smaller in the everything there is -

circles within circles
within
even larger circles still...

“it seems we’re just running circles,”
we say,
and how true and how grand that is








I have a poem by J.R. Thelin from his chapbook, Dorrance, Narrative, History, published in 2004 by Pudding House Publications. The poems in the book tell of the adventures and mis-adventures of a character named "Dorrance."

Thelin, a musician, studied at numerous institutions of higher education Berklee College of Music and Carleton College, obtaining a Bachelors Degree at Colorado College and an M.F.A. in writing at Vermont College. He previously served as coordinating editor of the eleventh MUSE and worked on the Development staff at Colorado College. He later moved to Virginia and took an administrative position at Washington and Lee University, while also serving as Poetry Assistant for the college's Shenandoah magazine.



Introducing Dorrance

Dorrance pisses in the sink.
He's not supposed to be there.
The boutique bathroom's reserved
for the owner and her employees, ONLY,
not the public, certainly not a furball
such as Dorrance. He's not a Campbell's

Soup heir. Or so he says. He swooshes
out the door but not before sleeving
a small plate of samples, chocolate truffles,
delicious smears that mingle with the wispy
on his upper lip. Twenty-two and turned on,

He'll pawn the silver tray far from this walking mall,
scrupulously fold the paper doily for later,
grace notes of psychedelic greatness will dot
it's page: hieroglyphic symbols
a la Dorrance. This month it's Boulder.

February was Tucson, free films
(if you're Dorrance
delivering a bulb for the projector)
near the University quad. He'll light up a co-ed
for a night or two, suck deeply

on her marijuana smile. Joints rolled, like a child,
on Grateful Dead album jackets, Dorrance stkuffs
the seed and stems excess - bought
by Ms. Hipp with a daddy's kiss-off-check -
into the floppy pocket of his cotton poncho, a blanket

for those nights by a roadside table,
backroads to Tesuque and a weekend, uninvited,
at old skull O'Keeffe's. Even that snake killer
couldn't hold on to Dorrance, slip slip slippery,
he vanish before Juan can bounce him

from the ranch. shape-shiftin' Dorrance,
more chameleon than Clapton, cameras can't capture,
his graduation photo (prep school unknown)
was fuzzy. Shoot him now, he's the wavering light
reflecting off a mesa or a coors truck tipping sideways.








Finally escaping from the Christmas rut, slipped right back into the early morning rut.



so much more to it

waiting
for the day to begin,
watching

the slow accumulation
of light,
like the way puddles form

in a slow, steady rain,
drinking coffee,
watching commuters pass

on the interstate,
thinking as they speed past
of the poems lying with Burger King wrappers in the back seat

of every car,
stories I don’t know, will never
know, poems I will never write -

such is life, so much
more to it
than we’ll ever see as we huddle in our little corner

try as we might to imagine it, to understand
and describe it all, our ambitions
far outpacing

our capacities to see beyond the dark,
to see through our own dark
and the dark that surrounds all of us -

all of us sharing
the dark at the bottom of a well,
the only true sharing we will ever do…

it is a lonely business, alone
in the dark,
reaching blindly for someone to hold on to,

anchoring
our life to another
for as long as the dark may last -

to be left alone again
in the end,
the greatest terror of all our fears

~~~~

finally
I see the sun this morning,
glowing orange behind winter-bare trees

one more time,
at
least








Now I have several short poems from the collection, Straight Out of View by Minnesota poet Joyce Sutphen, winner of the 1994 Barnard New Women Poets Prize. The book was published in 1995 by Beacon Press.

Sutphen grew up in Stearns County, Minnesota and now lives in Chaska, Minnesota. She is a poet and a professor at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, where she teaches courses in British literature and creative writing.

I've selected poem from a section in the book about a seemingly strange character named Augie.



Not Quite Born Again

Augie lacerated himself with broken morning.
The moon, falling from the trees
had shattered into a cluster of light
along the horizon.
He was a locust,
dragging his body into death;
a snake,
who comes forth from the old skin
erasing his new tenderness
with the grit of day.


Civil Defense

Just as the thunder cracked,
just a the hail stoned down,
    while his father cadillacked,
    his cigaretted mother planted,
    brother crouched on the basement landing,
Augie,
dressed in the rags of a self-
investigation,
pressed into
the north-northwest
corner of the basement.


Augie Keeps Gordot Waiting

Always,
extenuating circumstances
kept Augie from evolving
into an
existentialist.
Dear Mr. Godot, he wrote,
I'm sorry I did not keep
my appointment with you.
I thought I'd buy a farm,
or that my father would die,
but none of these things
happened. However,
I have finally found a girl
even my mother could love,
a girl who will join my revolution.
At night she lies crucified to the bed:
a rose of many thorns
for me to embrace.
Perhaps I will come
when this is over.








Seeking peace - thinking a dose of morning grits might do it.



pumping and grinding

the bald man
eats his breakfast
with machine precision

his arms
pumping as he cuts
his eggs

like pistons
in an 8-cylinder
turbo-charged Thunder-

bird,
his jaws working
like industrial grinders

particulating
each little bit of egg
and dry wheat

toast ...

i had one once,
not particulating grinders,
but an 8-cylinder

turbo-charged Thunder-
bird and i was a hard-pumping
dude on the highway...

but i never ate
like the bald man,
tending toward a more

Southern,
more laid-back
style

of ingesting,
finding my grits
in the morning

to encourage a more
leisurely
approach to living








Now I have a poem by Richard Wilbur. After first appearing in The New Yorker, the poem was included in the anthology, The Best American Poetry - 1994, published by Simon & Schuster.

Wilbur, poet and literary translator, was born in 1921. He was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1987, He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice, in 1957 and again in 1989.



A Digresson

Having confided to the heavy-lipped
Mailbox his great synoptic manuscript,
He stands light-headed in the lingering clang.
How lightly, too, he feels his briefcase hang!

And now it swings beside his knees, as they
From habit start him on his evening way,
With the tranced rhythm of a metronome,
Past hall and grove and stadium toward his home.

Yet as the sun-bathed campus slips behind,
A giddy lack of purpose fills his mind,
Making him swerve into a street which for
Two decades he has managed to ignore.

What stops him in his tracks is that his soul,
Proposing nothing, innocent of goal,
Sees no perspective narrowing between
Gold-numbered doors and frontages of green

But for the moment and obstructive storm
Of specks and flashes that will take no form,
A roiled mosaic or a teeming scrim
That seems to have no pertinence to him.

It is is purpose now as, turning round,
He takes his bearing and is homeward bound,
To ponder what the world's confusion meant
When he regarded it without intent.








Crossing, sometimes, that thin line between the real and a dream.



the way I remember it

i never remember my dreams,
but they sneak into my
memory

and become experience,
then stories
i tell,

stories
completed before i realize
something is wrong

the wrong time,
the people wrong,
places wrong

- i have
the most vivid memories
of places
i’ve never been,
houses,
rooms i’ve never seen -

before

i realize
the story i just told
could not be

true,
that i could not have been
where i said i was,

that i could not have done
what i said i did, that
i have slipped again

into a second layer
of reality,
a curtained time

between
the passage of moon orbits,
between the time of risiing, setting suns

where the universal
abacus that counts the sums
of recognized existence does not matter

and i wonder,
is this what it’s like
to be insane

or is it just a matter
of mostly made-up living
in a mind always creating?

~~~

either way,
i will write my autobiography
someday,

and portions of it,
i am sure,
could be true








There were two great traveling poets, both French, in the late 19th and early 20th century, Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaire. Both lived and worked during the same period, both were born elsewhere, but adopted France as their homeland, both were wounded in WWI (Cendrars lost a leg; Apollinaire suffered a grievous head wound and would die shortly after the armistice). Although both wrote of other subjects, they both traveled extensively and wrote about it with keen eye and clarity. It is their travel poems that I most enjoy, leading me to use both poets often in "Here and Now." This week, it's Apollinaire I present to you.

The poems are from his book Alcools, my edition published by Wesleyan University Press in 1995. The translation was by Donald Revell.



The Synagogue

In green felt hats on sabbath morning
Ottomar Scholem and Abraham Loeweren
En route to temple strolled by the Rhine
Up and down hillocks of reddening vines

The execrations defy translation
Ill-gotten bastard or Whoreson dog
Old Man rhine is weeping with laughter
Otto and Abe continue to roar

Because custom forbids them to smoke on sabbath
Tough goyim go by with burning cigars
Because Otto and Abe are besotted with Lia
A sheep-eyed girl far gone with child

But soon in the temple one then the other
Will doff his hat and kiss the book
Under the boughs of the Feast of the Tabernacle
Ottomar sings and Abraham smiles

Awkward and low their serious singing
Makes the Leviathan groan in the Rhine
In the Temple of Hats the palm fronds are waving
Hanoten ne Kamoth bagoim tholahoth baleceomim


The Bells

Fair gypsy my fuckster
Listen to the bells
Our love was a secret
We kept to ourselves

But we weren't invisible
Every tower in town
Saw what we did
And the bells spread it around

But tomorrow St. Ursula
Catherine and Henry
The baker her husband
And all of my cousins

Will smile as I go by
I won't know where to put myself
Now that you're gone
I might even die


Sign

I am vassal to the Lord of Autumn's Sign
I love all fruit despise all flowers
I regret each kiss I ever kissed
I am a beaten walnut tree complaining to the wind

O mental season my eternal autumn
Hands of outworn lovers strew your soil
An irrevocable shadow bride pursues me
Tonight the doves fly one las time








There is usually a thrill in the morning, knowing I need to come up with a poem, having no idea what the poem will be. But some day, it really seems a bother, then I come up with one anyway.



what I'm supposed to be doing

this is the time of day
when i usually demonstrate my
bonafides as a poet

by poeticating
on cue
and the problem today is

i can’t remember
if a cue is a nudge
and a wink

or the the long striker stick
used to reposition
colored and numbered balls on a green-felt table

in a brisk game
of pocket
billiards

- pocket pool
i would have said, but that
is often construed

to denote
another game
entirely -

or
vicy-versey,
which complicates things

since i’m not sure
if i should start writing now
or amble

over to Fat Annie's
for a pick-up game of
eight-ball,

which reminds me
of several
good pool-playing stories

i could write about
if if knew
that’s what i was supposed

to be doing
at this exact minute,
but since i don’t know

i won’t write anything,
but that’s ok
since i didn’t want to write

a poem this morning
anyway,
but if Fat Annie’s is open

this early
i might just resolve the question
by connoting that’s what i’m supposed

to be doing...

~~~

meanwhile
there is the moon
hanging pale

like a sliver of shaved soap
in the dark night-tide
sky

that cares nothing
about my poem
or any lack thereof






That's it.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, as well as chief cook and bottle washer.

Everything here belongs to those who created it. I'll let my stuff out for weekends if properly credited.

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There's No Day Like a Snow Day   Thursday, December 16, 2010


IV.12.4.




This is my last post for the year. the one right before Christmas that hardly anybody reads. I'll be taking next week off and won't post again until January.

No featured poet this week, just me and my library friends. By happenstance, it's an all male issue. After I post we're all going to get together and smoke cigars and tell dirty jokes about pool hall women with big tattoos.

The pictures are mine, all, but two taken during the course of several fall and winter visits to Colorado. The two exceptions are a picture of Mt. Shasta in California and a picture I took early in the year, in Nevada, during a road trip to Lake Tahoe.

Here's a last minute change. I said I didn't have a featured poet. Well, I do, thanks to a surprise package in the mail from Alex Stolis, containing his latest chapbook from Parallel Press, Li Po Comes to America. I have several poems from Alex's new book at the very end of this week's issue.

Here's what I have for you this week.



Simon Armitage
The Catch
Robinson in Two Cities
You May Turn Over and Begin…


Me
the old soldier’s table at Nina’s on 14th and May

Zbigniew Herbert
About Troy
Furnished Room


Me
the secret of our success

Victor Hernandez Cruz
Messages from Across the Street on Tobacco and Water Wires
Libros
An Essay on William Carlos Williams


Me
Julian Assange reassures himself on his place in history

Walt Whitman
A Glimpse
I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing


Me
winter night

Paul Monette
Here

Me
peace on you, brother

Federico Garcia Lorca
Paso
Arrow
Balcony
Early Morning


Me
someday, but not today

James Hoggard
Waiting
Getting My Sources Straight


Me
about shoes

Octavio Paz
On the Roads of Mysore
Ootacamund
Near Cape Comorin


Me
I sleep too much

Andrey Voznesensky
Auto-Digression
The Guitar


Me
sunset
surprise
sweet ashes
the smell of summer ended
winter winds
home fires
north wind on a southern beach
at the end
Christmas morning
first frost


Alex Stolis
I. First We’ll take Manhattan
II. We get inked Skin Kitchen Tattoo Studio
XVII. The Outsiders
XVIII. Durant Durant
XXV. Waiting to exhale
XXVI. Hi Desert/Lo Fidelity









To begin this week, I have several poems by Simon Armitage, from his book, Kid, published by Faber and Faber in 1992.

Armitage was born in West Yorkshire in 1963. In 1992 he was winner of one of the first Forward Prizes and a year later was the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. He has worked as a freelance writer, broadcaster and playwright, writing extensively for radio and television. He had published six books of poetry at the time of this publication.



The Catch

Forget
the long, smoldering
afternoon. It is

this moment
when the ball scoots
off the edge

of the bat; upwards,
backwards, falling
seemingly

beyond him
yet he reaches
and picks it

out
of its loop
like

an apple
from a branch,
the first of the season.


Robinson in Two Cities

Cities of architecture and scaffolding, tower blocks
taking the temperature, external elevator-cars outpacing
window-cleaning cages, projects and broken deadlines,
   Robinson

near the station. All routes end here. Cities of junctions
and ring roads, inside lanes peeling off the the left
shunting traffic into neighborhoods, districts, Robinson

on the loop bus, his third lap. Cranes making the skyline.
Cities of offenses against the person, taxis and sirens
and crossing the street from nowhere to nowhere,
   Robinson

on foot. Cities at dusk, each outpointing the other
with starlings. A choice of evening papers, the bridge,
and later with his tightrope act along the edge, Robinson

in two minds


You May Turn over and Begin...

"Which of these films was Dirk Bogarde
not in? One hundredweight of bauxite

makes how much aluminum?
How many tales in The Decameron?"


General Studies, the upper sixth, a doddle, a cinch
for anyone with an ounce of common sense

or a calculator
with a memory feature.

Having galloped through but not caring enough
to check or double-check, I was dreaming of

milk-white breasts and nakedness, or more specifically
virginity.

That term - everybody felt the heat
but the girls were having none of it:

long and cool like cocktails,
out of reach,their buns and pigtails

only let out for older guys with studded jackets
and motor-bikes and spare helmets.

One jot of consolation
was the tall spindly girl riding pillion

on her man's new Honda
who, with the lights at amber,

put down both feet and stood to stretch her limbs,
to lift the visor and push back her fringe

and to smooth her tight jeans.
As he pulled off down the street

she stood there like a wishbone,
high and dry, her legs wide open,

and rumor has it he didn't notice
till he came round in the ambulance

having underbalanced on a tight left-hander.
A Taste of Honey. Now I remember.








Here's my first for the week.



the old soldier's table at Nina's on 14th and May

that one flew B-17s
over Berlin, and that one
lost his left foot
in France, and that one
fought on the other side

that one did his time
in cold Korea, and me...
my time a war
the longest of them
all

there was a time
we walked the earth
like those great jungle brutes
evolution later swept
aside

now
we pass in silence,
leaving no footprints
in even the softest sand -

holding the table
for those
we know are coming right behind








Next, I have two poems by Zbigniew Herbert, from his book Elegy for the Departure, published in 1999 by Ecco Press. The poems were translated by and Bogdana Carpenter.

Herbert, who lived from 1924 to 1998, was a spiritual leader of the anticommunist movement in Poland. Winner of numerous prizes, his work has been translated into almost every European language.



About Troy

1
Troy O Troy
and archeologist
will sift your ashes through his fingers
yet a fire occurred greater than that of the Iliad
for seven strings -

to few strings
one needs a chorus
a sea of laments
and thunder of mountains
rain of stone

    - how to lead
    people away from the ruins
    how to lead
    the chorus from poems -

    thinks the faultless poet
    respectably mute
    as a pillar of salt
    - the song will escape unharmed
    It escaped
    with flaming wind
    into a pure sky

The moon rises over the ruins
Troy O Troy
the city is silent

The poet struggles with his own shadow
The poet cries like a bird in the void

The moon repeats its landscape
gently metal in smoldering ash

2
They walked along ravines of former streets
as if on a red sea of cinders

and wind lifted the red dust
faithfully painted the sunset of the city

They walked along ravines of former streets
they breathed on the frozen dawn in vain

they said: long years will pass
before the first house stands here

they walked along ravines of former streets
they thought they would find some traces

    a cripple plays
    on a harmonica
    about the braids of a willow
    about a girl

    the poet is silent
    rain falls


Furnished Room

The room has three suitcases
a bed not mine
a closet with a mildewed mirror

when I open the door
the furniture stands still
a familiar smell envelops me
sweat sleeplessne4ss and linen

one picture on a wall
represents Vesuvius
with a plume of smoke

I have never seen Vesuvius
I don't believe in active volcanoes

the second painting
is of a Dutch interior

from shadow
a woman's arm
incline a pitcher
a braid of milk trickles down

on the table a knife a cloth
bread a fish a bunch of onions

following the golden light
we climb three steps
through a door left ajar
the square of a garden can be seen

leaves breathe light
birds sustain the sweetness of the day

an unreal world
warm as bread
golden as an apple

peeling wallpaper
untamed furniture
cataracts over mirrors on the walls
these are the true interiors

in my room
with three suitcases
the day vanishes
into a puddle of sleep








This is, I guess, an arborist's confession. I'm a tree-hugger.



the secret of our success

the flag
a neighborhood away
waves,
stretches south
in the north wind

the pasture
across the way
neither brown nor yellow
but some winter color
that is neither
but includes shades of both

there are several hundred
varieties of oak tree
most of them found
in the hills north of the city,
four kinds in the oak grove
that bounds the pasture across,
from evergreen green to
red and gold to bare for the
season

I have four oaks
in my yard,
one, the kind that sheds
its leaves in the spring
for new growth; one, fast-
growing, broad-leafed,
beautiful in its colors
now, and two I transplanted
from my front yard, volunteers
from the large acorns
that fall in spring in the grass
and flowerbeds, pushing up
little oak-tree shoots that
you have to transplant quickly
before their roots get too long,
hard to get the whole tap root,
or at least enough of it to
allow continued growth elsewhere.

two times successful, so far,
out of many tries, one moved
last year, beneficiary of a very wet
spring, grown from about
three inches to three feet,
the other transplanted late
this year, still barely three inches.

I worry about them in the cold,
like I worry about the dog
and the cats - nature having
a much larger margin of error
than I, can afford to lose 90 percent
of each years seedlings

I can’t -
I must cherish all that I have,
every single one…

and so must you,
for it is the secret of our success








Here are three of my very favorite poems from the collection Red Beans, by Victor Hernandez Cruz. The book was published in 1991 by Coffee House Press.

Cruz was born in 1949 in the small mountain town of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. He moved to the United States in 1954 with his family and attended high school in New York.

He is a co-founder of both the East Harlem Gut Theater in New York and the Before Columbus Foundation and a former editor of Umbra Magazine. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley and San Diego, San Francisco State College, and the University of Michigan.

His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2008. Cruz divides his time between Morocco and Puerto Rico.

I've probably used these poems before, but I like them very much.



Messages from Across the Street on Tobacco and Water Wires

The ocean turned red
And the land turned blue
Your face became a sensation
Your features were eaten by the
ground
Your tears reentered the breasts
of the mothers of singers
The fado
The bolero
El canto hondo
The sadness
the lament
The nostalgia
The separation

The rumbling of your heart
The dancing of your feet
Will circulate within the pockets
of the wind
Your hate will make a shadow
That covers the flowers in chill

You will not be forgotten
Plant your seed well
It is the harvest you will pick

It will be beautiful
You will have no mouth to keep shut
Starring will turn into the cha-cha-cha
The craters of the moon will be
full of guayaba juice

We speak here the word which is spirit
Those on the other side tell me they speak
in matter

Out of pure air come objects
Vegetable gases minerals can flow
In combination
And you can make a hammock
Between Uranus and Mars
Where a puff of love can swing

The watches and clocks go backwards
It is 13:00 o'clock out there
You pain will become currency
To buy the harmony of Celina

The ocean turns red
The boats are made of fire
Allan Kardec is the
Captain
Of one of them

His passengers come for water
on the shore
They marvel at the blue sand they
Will never step on
From your prayers they make
a picture of your face
So with confidence give it to
the worms
Leave your smile on endless loan
In the sensational land you are
going to you can kiss without lips
The history of your life
will be in the fingertips of drummers
Nothing was wasted
Even the blank moments when we are
Morons
Drunks help us get home
The tears are the milk of the drummers
also
They sing and play
Your laughter
Your joy
Your dancing
The nostalgia
The separation


Libros

This is a leaf
It is from the palms
That the river of words
is entering the valley
Into the caves
the winds of hurricanes
Chasing the crabs
of the oceans
Leafs hanging in the
wind are the archives
Of the gone
Exchanges between thought
and fingers
In the landscape
alphabet of rocks
The library of Alexandria
emptied into a Bedouin
guitar
Sprayed from the desert
Into flamenca's eyes
Who sailed the Atlantic
To make the pineapples
compose coplas
Upon sheets of golden
sun rays
So hot that insects want
to take off their clothes
And just be whispers
writing out of palms.


I think this is the best explanation of why I like William Carlos Williams I've ever read, and, probably, the thing that would most please me if said about any of my poems.


An Essay on William Carlos Williams

I love the quality
of the spoken thought
As it happens immediately
uttered into air
Not held inside and rolled
around for some properly
schemed moment
Not sent to circulate a cane
field
Or on a stroll that would include
the desert and Mecca
Spoken as it happens
Direct and pure
As the art of salutation
of mountain campesinos come to
the plaza
The grasp of the handshake upon
encounter and departure
A gesture unveiling the occult
behind the wooden boards of
your old house
Remarks show no hesitation
to be expressed
The tongue itself carries
the mind
Pure and sure
Sudden and direct
like the appearance
of a green mountain
Overlooking a town.








I think he's a pinhead with a bloated ego who thinks he can become important by reading other people's mail, but can't help wondering how he thinks of himself.



Julian Assange reassures himself on his place in history

sunny day
sunny
day
and I feel like
steaming
horse hockey
on a dusty
trail…

but enough about
me

- though
me
is a highly significant
character
in the multiplex
dramas
of my life -

for I am perfectly capable
of setting aside
personal pronouns
and talk of them,
all of them,
they, those,
all of ‘em who lurk
in the kitty-corners of my
daily traverse
through the plots
and lies and deceits
of them, out to get me…

see -
back to me again
the inevitable
circling to the
locus of it all,
for I am that center
and though you don’t know it yet
I’ll soon make it
clear
to you
how
very important
I am
cause
like my mother always told me
I am
very special
indeed








Here, two short pieces by Walt Whitman. Yes, there are such things as short pieces by Whitman.



A Glimpse

A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room
   around the stove late of a winter night, and I
   unremark'd seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently
   approaching and seating himself near, that he may
   hold me by the hand.
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of
   of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together,
   speaking little, perhaps not a word.


I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing

I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing.
All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the
   branches.
Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous
   leaves of dark green,
And its look,rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of
   of myself.
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves
   standing alone there without its friend near, for I
   I could not.
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves
   and twined around it a little mosss,
And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight, in
   my room.
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear
   friends.
(For I believe lately I think of of little else than of them.)
Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me
   think of manly love;
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in
   Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space,
Utterly joyous leaves all its life without a friend a
   lover near,
I know very well I could not.








It was a beautiful night, two weeks before Christmas.



winter night

winter night,
in the last moment
before dusk falls
the sky is clear,
light blue,
like the "it's a boy" blankets
you get at the hospital
to warm
a new born son

thin,
almost transparent blue -

moon bright
in the soft sky,
not full,
flattened a little
on one side like a globe.
flattened
at the South Pole,
so it won't role off your desk

Antarctica folded in on itself

a chill wind
blowing from the top of the hill,
raising a shower
of golden leaves
from trees along
the creek

light winter-home taste
of chimney smoke in the air

ten degrees
cooler
than the numbers on the thermometer reads

very quiet








Next, I have this very moving poem by Paul Monette, mourning the death of his lover. The poem is from his collection West of Yesterday, East of Summer, in 1994, one of the Stonewall Inn Editions by St. Martin's Press.



Here

everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skin were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet I can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010 war is not all
death it turns out war is what little
thing you hold onto refugeed and far from home
oh sweetie will you please forgive me this
that every time I opened a box of anything
Glad Bags One-A-Day KINGSIZE was
the worst I'd think will you still be here
when the box is empty Rog Rog who will
play boy with me now when I bucket with tears
through it all when I'd cling beside you sobbing
you'd shrug it off with the quietest I'm still
here
I have your watch in the top drawer
which I don't dare wear yet help me please
the boxes grocery home day after day
the junk that keeps me spotless but it doesn't
matter now how long they last or I
the day has taken you with it and all
there is now is burning dark the only green
is up by the grave and this little thing
of telling the hill I'm here oh I'm here








What better way to start the week than with a rant that alienates 87% of the people you know? But the stew's always better if you stir the pot now and then.



peace on you, brother

Sunday morning
and the faithful gather,
the Christians,
pumped by their weekly sermon,
fat
and fed full of
conviction
of their own moral
superiority
to all the rest,
the Christ-killer Jews,
and the sneering bearded bomb-bearing Muslems,
and the dark Hindu,
and the slanty-eyed Buddhist,
and, of course, the straight-to-hell
atheists and the wishy-washy agnostics,
and the believers in earth and sky spirits,
I mean, how dumb is that, they say,
and alien abductees,
and wife-hoarding Mormons,
and believers in the powers of plastic
pyramids,
and artists and intellectuals
who might try to think their way
out of this mess we’re in
instead
of forsaking sense and bowing
before the loving God
of mass extinction,
and Democrats of course, that
goes without saying,
and illegal poachers on America’s goodness and righteousness,
of all stripes, colors,
sizes and shapes,
and, or course, all the cocksuckers
and sodomites
who threaten the security of our Christian-nation
by seeking to serve in its
defense,
and the horse I rode in on

- even old Nelly ain’t safe
from this
crowd -

but
I forgive them
for their arrogance
and evil thoughts, for they are
oppressed,
they say,
and must be as un-Christian
as those who oppress
them

peace on you,
brother,
I say,
and a happy Sunday
tuya








Here are four short pieces by Federico Garcia Lorca, from his book In Search of Duende in 1998 by New Directions.



Paso

Virgin in Crinoline,
Virgin of Solitude,
opened like an immense
tulip.
In your ship of lights
you go
along with the high tide
of the city,
among turbid saetas
and crystal stars.
Vi9rgin in crinoline,
you go
down the river of the street
to the sea!

The previous poem translated by Lysander Kemp; the next three were translated by W.S. Merwin.


Arrow

Brown Christ
passes
from the lily of Judea
to the carnation of Spain

Look where he comes!

From Spain.
Sky clear and dark,
parched land,
and watercourses where very
slowly runs the water.
Brown Christ,
with the burned forelocks,
the jutting cheekbones
and the white pupils

Look where he goes!


Balcony

Lola
sings saetas.
The little bullfighters
circle around her
and the little barber,
from his doorway,
follows the rhythms
with his head.
Between the sweet basil
and the mint,
Lola sings
saetas.
That same Lola
who looked so long
at herself in the pool.


Early Morning

But like love,
the archers
are blind.

Over the green night
the arrows
leave tracks of warm
lilies.

The keel of the moon
breaks purple clouds
and the quivers
fill with dew.

Ah, but like lovers
the archers
are blind!








It was a pretty dreary Monday morning...



someday, but not today

i feel as old
as fog
on a winter morning,
opaque
and adrift
and cold, like refrigerated
mist from a butcher’s locker

someday
I will write a poem
about the many metaphoric misuses
of fog
- fog of confusion
- fog of denial
- fog of deceit
and so on and
how unfair it is to bestow
such negative allusions
to a part of nature’s plan
for the collision of atmospheric tendencies
that can’t play together nicely…

and then I will write a poem
about how I used to enjoy
foggy mornings on the coast,
driving across the narrow spit of road
across Oso Bay in a gray corridor, water
on either side, the slap of unseen fish
as they jump into the air and strike the water
with their tails when they fall, and the fog
at the harbor, on the T-heads and gulls
with their morning cries, a few feet away
but invisible in the mist, or driving
on a forested road in East Texas, roadway clear,
but fog drifting like long-dead soldiers
in their gray uniforms among the trees,
or walking on the streets downtown,
between the tall buildings, across the river
on stone-arched bridges, listening
to the quiet of the city still sleeping
amid the mysteries of the morning murk…

someday
I’ll do all that,
but not today,
for today I feel as old
as fog
on a winter day
and only want to
sleep
in its gray embrace








I have two poems by Texas poet James Hoggard from his book Breaking an Indelicate Statue, published in 1986 by Latitudes Press.

Hoggard, previous poet laureate of Texas, is a poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist and translator. A past president of the Texas Institute of Letters, he is the Perkins-Prothro Distinguished Professor of English at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. The author of more than fifteen books and seven produced plays, His work has been published in the U.S. and internationally, including in India, England, Canada, the Czech Republic, Cuba and elsewhere.



Waiting

In and out they come,
a ratcheted procession
crowding me wallward.

I do not want to tell them
Leave us damnit alone, I do
not want to tell them anything

I want to hold our baby
who does not know me as well
as the anonymous nurse who

does what's needed now:
brings her waddled to you and
tells me, You have to get out now.

Kissing you quickly, I leave
and yes, the nursery's already locked
so I make friends with my cigars

and ride the elevator down
with mumbling strangers who say
nothing I can understand.

At this point, they say, a baby's smile
is a muscle reaction, a kind
of (saay it) benevolent spasm

that, remembered, hurls me back
into your room where I sit
quietly, somewhat embarrassed because

the visitors crowd me wallward.
Flowers flare the window sills
like brilliant nerves sprayed frozen.


Getting My Sources Straight

Reading serious stuff, I
noticed her noiselessly begging
to share her little book

and smelling the sweet
wetness of babyshit, I
brought her up to my lap.

We read our things until
she wanted down and slid off me.
Doughty stuff cookied my pantsleg.

While I cleaned us, she kept
as quiet as her stories
of lost toy sailboats

and now she's bunched asleep
in clean diaper and gown,
a curl of silent angel's mischief.








It is important that poets of the world address the deepest, most important issues of the day. That's what I've been told, anyway.



about shoes

your are as likely
to see me in pink tights
and a tutu
as in a pair of sandals

it's just the way
i was raised,
shoes were defined
as leather or cloth
covering the entire foot
with, unless, they were boots,
at least six rows of laces

things on your feet
that let your toes stick out
did not qualify

and finally growing up
old enough
to get a pair of shoes
for wearing year-round
was a badge of development,
“gettin’ big” it was, and
“gettin’ big” was what we all
wanted to do and running around
barefoot after we got our shoes
was a sure sign we were nothing
but slow farm boys who preferred
pig slop between their toes to the feel
of good cow hide or canvas

it was a time of careful distinctions,
this being one of them, which sometimes
led to questions about where, exactly,
the boundaries lay
like, for example
the Independence Day in 1940-something
when the boy down the street
blew off one of his toes
with a firecracker
and questions ensued
as to whether the boy was too young
to be playing with firecrackers
or too old to be running around
without shoes

the boy left town
with his parents to move to
Mississippi
where they don’t usually
wear shoes at all
until they get married

that’s what I was told
anyway









Next, I have three poems by 1990 Nobel Prize Winner, Octavio Paz. The poems are from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987, published by New Directions.

The poems were translated by Eliot Weinberger.



On the Roads of Mysore

Blue rocks, ruddy plains,
purple stony ground, clusters of cacti,
magueys, hacked forests - and the people:
is their skin darker or are their shawls whiter?
Hawk country, skies stretched
across wide-open land,
a land good for dreaming and riding horses.
In spite of the famines, the women are well-endowed:
full breasts and hips, jeweled and barefoot,
dressed in dazzling turquoise and magenta.

The men and women are tattooed.
A race of enormous eyes, stony gazes.
They speak gibberish, have strange rites,
but Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore,
is worth as much as Nayarit and its Tiger of Alica.


Ootacumund

1

In the Nilgiri Hills
I went looking for the Todas.
Their temples are cone-shaped and are stables.
Thin, bearded, impenetrable,
they milk their sacred buffaloes
murmuring incoherent hymns.
The guard the secret of Sumeria,
not knowing that they guard it.
Between the thin,dry lips of the elders
the name of Ishtar, the cruel goddess,
shines like the moon on an empty well.

2

On the veranda of the Cecil Hotel,
Miss Penelope (canary-colored hair,
woolen stockings and walking stick) has been saying
for thirty years: h India
country of missed opportunities...

Above
in the fireworks
of the jacaranda,
            the crows
happily cackle.

3

Tall grass and low trees.
Uncertain ground. In the clearings
the winged termites construct
tiny Cyclopean castles.
Homages in sand
to Mycenae and Machu-Picchu.

4

Leafier and more brilliant,
the neem is like an ash:
a singing tree.

5

A vision of the mountain road:
the rose camelia tree
bending over the cliff.
Splendor in the sullen green,
fixed above an abyss.
Impenetrable presence,
indifferent to vertigo - and language.

6

The sky grows in the night,
eucalyptus set aflame.
The charitable stars
not crushing - falling me.


Near Cape Comorin

        for Gerado Deniz

In a Land-Rover stalled in a flooded field,
trees up to their necks in water
under a newborn sky,
and phlegmatic white birds,
herons and egrets,
stainless amid such dramatic green.
Sunk in in the mud, dumb and shining,
almost sleeping, buffaloes
munching on water lilies.
A band of mendicant monkeys.
Incredibly perched, a yellow goat
on the needle of a rock. A crow
on the goat. And the invisible,
constant,presence of panic:
neither spider nor cobra,
the Unnameable,
the universal indifference
where vase form and the sacred
thrive and are negated: boiling
voids. Twin pulse
in the stability of space:
sun and moon. It grows dark.
The kingfisher a topaz flash.
charcoal predominates.
The drowned landscape dissolves.
Am I a troubled soul
or a wandering body?
The stalled Land-Rover
dissolves as well.








Another winter morning poem. In my third week now of what started as a simple winter cold, I am tired and always ready to fall into bed.



I sleep too much

another cold wet morning…

cars on the interstate
poke their headlights
through the mist
like a baby kitten, just-
born and blind,
groping with her nose
for the fur-nested
security
of her mother’s teat

I will go home
after breakfast, take
my own comfort
in the cold and wet, asleep
in my recliner, old cat
on my lap, if she wishes

- I stepped on her tail
yesterday as she ate
and she is still not certain
I can be trusted -

if I felt better
I would go downtown, walk
the river, soak in the rain and the murk and
mystery of arched stone bridges and the
wet rustle of running water and lights dimmed
and half seen and the occasional
passing
bundled stranger appearing/disappearing
in the gray mist

but I still I suffer the grip
of nose drip and hack
and will sleep
through the morning instead,
rocked to the rhythm
of the slow drip drip
on the window ledge
by my chair, a deep sleep,
dark and still, un-dreaming sleep,
again, sleep without dreams,
a sign of age, I think -

I sleep to much
and dream too little
and cannot rouse myself
to the mysteries of the morning








My last two library poems this week is from Voznesensky - Selected Poems, published in 1966 by Hill and Wang.

The poet Andrey Voznesensky, was one of a group of Soviet poets and intellectuals who pushed the boundaries of state approval during the time of the "Khrushchev Thaw." He was at the height of his international fame and popularity at the time the book was published.

Born in 1933, Voznesensky died in 2010.

The poems were translated by Herbert Marshall.



Auto-Digression

    To Jean Paul Sartre

I am a family
in me, like a spectrum, live seven "me's"

seven wild beasts I cannot tolerate
and the bluest of blues
            seems to flow through a flute!

and in spring
I dream
    that I'm
    the eighth


The Guitar

Between paprika and Malaga wines
under fashionable log-cabin skies
like a boat-hauler, bony and stringy
sat a young and predatory singer

a nasturtium fiery-hued
shyly and impudently
the guitar like an artist's nude
lay prone upon his knee

she was gentler and simpler
than the savage at secret rites
and the somber city within her
hummed down to a quiet

or else like the roar in a circus
she madly held her breath,
then - like a motorbike burning
she orbited the wall of death!

we're the children of that guitar
fearless and trembling
among girl friends, the dearest that are
yet as unfaithful as amber

'mid figures of the night
caustically you twist your lips
and to them, like a fuse alight
a cigarette silently creeps








It makes sense, I suppose, that considering where I live, I have lots of "summer" poems and very few "winter." Here are a few of the few I have.

I have a couple of thousand poems written since 2006 floating around the web that I've never taken time to collect and save, so these poems are all from before then. Some have been published; some have not.



sunset

sun lies low
behind gangly scrub oak branches

yellow jigsaw

puzzles
at the end of day


surprise

gray cat
back arched

surprised
at the cold slice
of January wind


sweet ashes

in the coldest hours of these long nights,
I trace my lie
through the corkscrew path of fate and fashion
and in the freezing dark hold close
those hours I spent with you

our love was a mighty burning fire;
its sweet ashes warm me still


the smell of summer ended

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


winter winds

winter winds
sweep
the north hills
cloud

the city
with cedar pollen
that leaves me gasping
like a blowfish
on a stroll down Grand Avenue


home fires

full moon bright
on black winter sky

wisp of cloud
like chimney smoke
crosses

drawing me home


north wind on a southern beach

a north wind blows strong
against the incoming tide
and all across the bay,
whitecaps flash in the sun
like handkerchiefs
fluttering across a field
of salty sea-green

a beachcomber
dress for the day
in a silver windbreaker
walks the beach barefoot
shoes tied by their strings
to hang around his neck
throws bread to gulls
greedy birds swooping fighting
each other and the wind
for every crumb


at the end

at the end of Bob Hall Pier
gulf winds
blow up
a briny
spray
that
chills
even
under
the Texas
sun
at mid-day
colder
still
now
mixed
with early
morning
fog that
leaves
me
alone
on a
wood
planked
island
bone froze
and

alone


Christmas morning

first light orange
on brown grass
under
red and yellow leaves
stirring
in a magenta morning
breeze


first frost

first frost
and leaves fall
soft and slow
like red and yellow
snowflakes
drifting in the sun









I was all ready to close out this issue when a I opened my mailbox to find a great gift from my poet friend, Alex Stolis, a copy of his latest chapbook, Li Po Comes to America. Alex, a five-time Pushcart nominee, seems to put out a chapbook about every two months, all them great.

Alex, a five time Pushcart nominee, always frames his chapbooks around a common them. The forty-three poems in this book are all framed by well-know scientific theory and postulates, from The First Law of Thermodynbamids to Pi to The Big Bang. His subject in all his poems I've ever read are the relationships of lovers, soon-to-be lovers and used-to-be lovers, all written in a style that makes me think of Ray Milland and the smokey barrooms and bedrooms of the best film noir.

The book was just published by Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. I recommend the book to you and suggest you check with them for details on how to obtain a copy.

I'm using the four poems from the book this week. I not I'm not sure I can format the poems exactly the way they are published, but I think I can come close.



First Law of Thermodynamics


I. First we'll take Manhattan

Watch the sun act guilty
when you smile,
listen to the river
cough and remember -
I can hold a suicide
in the palm of my hand,
predict the future
in broken glass.
Doesn't it make
you want to forget
who we might have been


                         Energy cannot be created or destroyed,
                         it can only be change from one form to
                         another



II. We get inked at Skin Kitchen Tattoo Studio

I make a fist to the needle buzz
smell rain in your hair
as my arm burns.

Someday you will forget
my name - I will not remember
the curve of your breast.



Pi


XVII. The Outsiders

rain drops like a raven
into the street

puddles in the shape
of a ship. You tell me the slope
of its bow is like the curve of an apple -

my trigger finger presses
the small of your back


                         3.1415926535


XVIII. Durant Durant

There is a way to drop the sun
from the sky and still make
a clean getaway -

light a cigarette for the dead,
then write our names
in sweat on the windshield



I can't help myself. Here's two more.



Pareto Principle


XXV. Waiting to exhale

Let's wait for the right song
to come on the radio -
imagine the stars are paper cuts.

Let's watch the moon struggle
to stay awake, then tell stories
that turn dark red when the sun comes up.


                         20% of invested input
                                        is responsible for 80%
                                of the results obtained



XXVI.Hi Desert/Lo Fidelity

You promise me
all we need
is a stretch of road,
a fast car
and enough cash
to burn.
There's a fifth
of vodka
in the glove box,
a gun
under
the seat
and a full tank
of gas -
the last sin
I'll commit
is cradled
in the kiss
of a woman
I have yet to meet.










And that's a wrap for 2010. I thank all "Here and Now" readers for joining me over the course of the year and the three years preceding. I'm taking next week off and will not post again until the first week of the new year, beginning "Here and Now's" fifth year on the web. In the meantime I wish all readers a happy and entertaining new year and a merry commemoration of whatever it is you commemorate at this time of the year. It is all good if it pleases and renews you.

Here follows the usual stuff about all material in the blog being the property of those who created it and my offer to you to take what you might want of mine, if you want it, with proper crediting.

Also, a not usual reminder that I still have copies of my book, Seven Beats a Second that I'll gift to you for Christmas if you'll send me $5 to cover postage. More info at allen.itz@gmail.com.

Still, I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog and chief elf of the "Here and Now" workshop.

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