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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